04 Sep September 4, 2019 – Digital Marketing Playbook Thomas Donohoe and Amazon Ads Timothy Seward
Thomas Donohoe – CEO & Founder of Level Agency and Author of The CEO’s Digital Marketing Playbook: The Definitive Crash Course and Battle Plan for B2B and High Value B2C Customer Generation – Read interview highlights here
If you advertise on the internet in the 21st century and you are using your homepage to be the recipient of people clicking on stuff, you are setting all of your money on fire.
Thomas Donohoe is the Founder and CEO of Level Agency, a business that offers award-winning digital advertising, web design, web development, affiliate management, call center sales support, and strategic client service. Thomas is an early thought leader in digital marketing who utilizes his years of experience to offer clients custom, well designed, and painstakingly thorough web management and sales support that drive real results. His agency is the recipient of the Top 10 Digital Marketing Agency in the Region, INC 500, Diamond Award for Outstanding CEO’s, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and #1 Fastest Growing Company in the Region by Pittsburgh Times “Pittsburgh 100.” He was also featured in Forbes.com, TD Ameritrade, Ask Men, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Thomas is the author of The CEO’s Digital Marketing Playbook, where he describes how marketing money can be best spent to ensure great returns.
Amazon is THE search engine for products in the United States. More than 54% of product searches in the US begin on Amazon.
Timothy Seward is the Founder and CEO of ROI Revolution, a company that has used results-driven digital marketing technology to drive growth and increase sales for brands and retailers for over a decade. Timothy has an extensive background in retail and marketing, which he applies to his work guiding ROI Revolution, and to speaking engagements he fulfills. In addition to speaking at e-commerce industry events like IRCE, he is a frequent guest lecturer at North Carolina State University’s College of Management. He has also contributed to industry publications, including Internet Retailer. Timothy is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising.
Highlights from Thomas’ Interview
Whether you are in the gizzard market or you make pencils or sell Ferrari’s or you’re a global B2B agency, I don’t care what you do. There are a handful of things that every company needs. Every company on Earth, as long as that company needs new customers, a five person company, 110,000, the fortune 1000s, there’s a handful of things that you absolutely must be doing in digital marketing to ensure that the blocking and tackling, a sales pipeline, a lead generation channel, that the blocking and tackling things are taken care of before you even consider hiring an agency like mine, or a smaller or bigger one. So there’s a core we call the core four things that, again, I don’t care if it’s chicken gizzards or Lamborghinis or your B2B, you’ve got to be doing. What are they? Pretty straightforward. They are, each of these four things, they’ve got a few things in common, and these things are always good. Number one, they’re pretty cheap. Number two, they’re pretty easy to set up. And agencies don’t like saying this, but often you don’t need an agency to do them. Number three, they tend to be the things that have the best return on investment, in terms of customer generation. Those three things are all aspects of these four tactics.
Number one, what we’ll call trade name brand search, some people say trade name search, some people say brand search, what that means is on search engines, and that would be Google and Bing, and what Yahoo was turned into. On the big search engines, you are going to advertise your company. Anytime a person queries the name of your company and a service, you are paying money when someone clicks on that ad. I could go a mile deep, but the bottom line is, you have to do paid trade name or brand search, in addition to your organic rank, because number one, you get 90% incremental, more customers. And number two, it’s some of the best ROI into the customer generation game period. Number one, run trade name search.
These tactics, these four things that we’re going to explain, they’re low-hanging fruit; they might not be huge scale or big levers to pull. But at the end of the day, they’re always profitable, they’re super cheap, and they’re easy to set up. In trade name search, that means someone’s got a Google or query on Google or Bing or Yahoo, the name of your company. There’s not that many people doing that, especially if you’re a new company, you’re a startup, or you don’t have 500 or 5000 employees. And even if you do have 500 employees, um, you’re probably still not getting that many people googling the name of your company. And it’s not just the name of your company, it’s ‘Acme company products,’ or ‘Acme company’ss services,’ it’s specific queries with your company’s name, and the name of your service or product or location. There’s not that many humans doing it every month. And the beautiful thing about search engines, and the reason that Google’s Google, and it’s making literally all of the money is, you don’t pay for anything unless someone clicks on it. And so unlike traditional advertising, you basically get free exposure, and you only pay for stuff when people click it, visit your website. So to your point, it’s really cheap, because there’s not that many humans that will Google your name, and then the name of your company and the product. And there are different tactics and techniques to make sure you’re not advertising to the wrong people, like people looking for jobs. There’s easy tactics, but at the end of the day, trade name search is probably the lowest hanging fruit in the entire world of marketing and advertising and customer generation.
Number two, and it’s the thing that if you’ve ever shopped for a car, companies like cars.com and car dealerships have been doing this for 15, 20 years, which is phenomenal. But every company in the world should be doing it as well. And not just if you sell cars, I mean every company, a b2b company like mine needs to be doing it. The gizzard company or pencil company or selling Lamborghinis. They need to do it, and it’s called retargeting banner ads, or retargeting display ads. And that means when someone visits your company’s website, when they go out into the Internet, and that could be any website, that could be a social network, like Facebook, they’re going to see an ad for your company, because they visited your website. It’s what we call retargeting, display, or retargeting banner ads. Again, number one, they’re cheap. Number two, they’re easy to set up and build, you don’t really need an agency. And number three, even though there’s not a huge scale, it often represents some of the lowest cost per acquisitions, which means the best ROI in the entire marketing world. If you’re actually using retargeting banner ads as a marketing tactic, every site in 2019, 2020, and in the future is going to have some kind of pop up with some kind of proactive authorization, where the visitor is aware that data is being collected, or potentially being collected. And that’s not just because of this. That’s because of little buzzwords like GDPR and things in the future that America will also get there. But every website’s going to have that, if not already.
Number three, I’ll go to landing pages, the existence of landing pages. Real long story short, you’ve got two kinds of websites on Earth, you’ve got websites, and you’ve got landing pages. They used to be called micro sites, we just call them landing pages. And if you advertise on the internet, in the 21st century, and you are using your homepage to be the recipient of people clicking on stuff, you’re setting all of your money on fire. And that’s bad. Burning money. Bad number. Yes, number one, and number two, if you can send people somewhere and you choose as a company, as a marketing team, to send them to your homepage, you’re lighting money on fire.
I’m selling something in the first place, right? If I just have a static, here’s my gizzard company website, and the only person I’m selling from is I’m buying from McDonalds. And I’ll tell you who I’m selling the McDonalds to. That’s all I’m doing.
Again, my caveat is, if you don’t need more customers, okay, everything I’m saying is irrelevant. But for every company or every employee of any company that needs more customers, what I’m saying is important. Even if I’m trying to sell more books with the name Thomas Donahoe on the front, I would have a landing page for the book before the book’s website, before your personal website. I can tell you why. Marketing your main website if your company, I don’t care if it’s a school, a b2b company, a SAS platform…
So your marketing website, your main website, it’s got a ton of jobs, it’s got to talk to current customers, employees, it’s got to talk to some companies and public institutions in other industries, it’s got to talk to and court public opinion in the press, it’s got to talk to shareholders, your main marketing website’s got 20 different jobs. One of those jobs is when someone wants to learn about your product or buy something, or become an inquiry and ask a question. Your marketing websites should do a good job in saying, “Hey, here’s the phone number, here’s a request information form, here’s a way to get in contact.” But it’s one of the many jobs it has, which means it’s kind of crappy and everything. A landing page, or a microsite in the 21st century, it has one job, that job is to convert visitors into customers. Again, this is why companies like Amazon are not so successful. There are successes for a lot of reasons, but one of them is they turn visitors into customers really, really well. And your homepage isn’t that good at that. Even if you think it’s okay, I guarantee you that you could do 20%, 30%, even 50% better. And when you’re spending real dollars in advertising, those double digits are really, really important, because those are real dollars. So that’s the number three thing. Good quality, best practices landing page, you gotta give it the three second test. If in three seconds, you ask your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your kids, your mom, “Hey, here’s a website.” Within three seconds. What do you do? If they don’t say, make a phone call, click to put something into a shopping cart, or find something interesting to ask a question about through email or a request for information. If they don’t do a thing, or don’t identify a thing to do, that landing page is not good.
Numero quatro, we’re going to bring it home. The fourth thing is the luckiest thing. It might sound scary to an entrepreneur, a sole proprietor, a CEO, especially if that CEO, he or she does not have a large marketing team whose job it is to be awesome at digital advertising. But I promise, I promise it’s easy. It’s not so easy that my Himalayan cat could do it, but it’s pretty easy. It is called custom audience targeting in Facebook. What that means is, it would be the business and marketing equivalent of shooting very dumb ducks in a very small barrel. But in terms of the marketing sense, it is as follows: If you have a database of prior customers, current customers or in the online world what we call leads, so-called high value B2C, a lot of people call those people too, that’s fair. So people in your database, if you have a database, you upload just the email addresses, just the emails, nothing else into Facebook through a very, very secure connection. What you do as an advertiser is you upload your database, your lead database, your customer database, just the email addresses into Facebook. And because Facebook knows your email, and maybe a few other things, it will target the individuals in your database, current customers, people that were customers, but are no longer buying stuff. Really good customers you want to be better customers, leads that never turn into customers, everybody. And you can target those actual humans in Facebook and Instagram. Other platforms have this as well. Big display networks have this, to an extent LinkedIn has this. But Facebook in particular, what we’ll call CAT, which stands for custom audience targeting is the fourth thing that again, is pretty darn cheap. It’s really, really, really simple. And it represents some of the best ROI in the entire world of marketing. Again, that might be the most advanced, wonky thing that I’ll mention. But I promise I don’t know much about much. But from a digital advertising standpoint, I’ve done this for 20 years, I know more than most, it’s not that hard. And agencies and people like myself would love you to believe it’s rocket surgery, but it really isn’t, at least some things.
Let’s say you have 100 email addresses. Again, you will be surprised, as I think many people will be with digital advertising, not just how well it works. Of those hundred people, you will have what’s called a matching percentage, where in the business world, you would think most business professionals do not use their core print email for their Facebook email. And I’m here to tell you, it’s just one example. We’re talking B2B, I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong. 40%, 50% of the time, which means that 100 people and let’s say you’ve got a B2B company, and you’ve got 100 email addresses. And they are professional email addresses, not at hotmail, not at gmail, they’re the work email addresses. You’re still going to get 40% to 50% of the time, those will be identified by Facebook, which kind of blows my mind every time I think about it. And if you’re in the B2C world, or the ecommerce world, it’s much, much, much higher—60% to 70% is your match rate. So while every email that you upload won’t be able to be targeted as a human, many, many, many, many will. And that’s the important thing.
So you’re going to a convention, and you go and do the research and define 100 people whose job is called buyer supply. You get their email addresses. And, again, if the sample set’s big enough, I think there has to be maybe 100 or so in your database. But if your sample set’s large enough, a few hundred or more people on the thousands that are most businesses databases, every morning, when they wake up, they will see in their Facebook and/or Instagram feed the message of your choosing. It could be a traditional ad, it could be a video asset, it could be something that’s not super salesy. It could be a value proposition, or rich media piece, or a video about why you are the light of people’s lives, or why your product or service is. And yes, you can set what’s called a frequency cap. So you don’t napalm people with 10 ads a day, which I think is important, and most people would agree. But there are nuances to it. But every morning, when those individuals in your database were at the conference, or who’ve you’ve targeted, they wake up the power of Facebook CAT, custom audience targeted campaigns is incredible. And much like pay trade name search, much like retargeting banner ads on social and display, and much like landing pages, these things are pretty cheap. They’re not hard to set up, even though agencies would like to tell you otherwise, and these four things absolutely represent some of the lowest cost per acquisition tactics, and some of the best ROI in the world of marketing. And I think any company in the world that needs more customers has to be doing them.
I got lucky in New York, my early 20s. I fell into digital marketing right when search engines started doing search engines as we know them today, around 2000, 2001. Did that for about 10 years, moved back to Pennsylvania, took an awesome job with an awesome big company and there was job security and everything was good. Then I got outsourced. Actually, my entire team got outsourced. And when you hate things, sell your soul, because it’s not that, because we’re all business people here. But when you work for a big company versus being an entrepreneur, you assume there’s a lot of safety there. And I’m here to tell you, there is as much danger being an entrepreneur as there is working for a big company. And I was really good at my job at the company and so were my coworkers, but we all got outsourced, because it’s life. I was 31 at the time, and I was in school for my MBA, and being special, and getting my gold stars, and got outsourced. And so, not married, no kids, I decided, well, what the heck, if I’m going to get fired, I want it to be my fault. So I started the agency, it went from side hustle to profitable within, I want to say, nine months. So I got lucky, and I worked my butt off. And then within three years, we were doing eight figures within three to four years. We’ve got some awards, and we started getting people to pay attention to us. But again, it was a lot of luck. But it was a lot of hard work. And truth be told, if I didn’t get that first job in New York, going on 20 years ago, and learn from some of the smartest men women in digital advertising right when I was getting started, I wouldn’t have been able to provide the service. This is what we do today. So that’s the story.
You could choose to go to TomDonohoe.com. And if you have the compunction go to my wonderful coworkers at level.agency.