Agency Secrets Revealed: “We’re giving it all away”
Today I interviewed my boss John Kriney, author and Founding President of OptFirst Internet Marketing and learn the secrets of how to run a successful Online marketing business. John and his staff at OptFirst Internet Marketing have spent the last 15 years running successful Internet Marketing campaigns and coding. In his latest book, The Online Marketing Manual, John divulges exactly how OptFirst delivers on its promise to make money for businesses via Google Ads, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and reputation management services.
Dressed casually, standing at 6’2 with a lean athletic frame, John Kriney makes his way down the OptFirst hallway. He stops briefly before entering the conference room to speak to my colleague about what sounds like the launch of an ad campaign on LinkedIn about to go live. After hearing that the campaign is live and “tracking”, he turns his attention to me. He walks past the Wynwood-esque wall mural visible through the conference room’s glass panels and enters the room with a smile. He’s five minutes early.
Me: Good morning John.
John Kriney: Morning Parker. Did you like the book?
Me: Yes. It’s a great read and breaks down what we do here. In fact, it seems like its the operations manual! Why publish a book that tells people exactly what we do and how it’s done? Why make all that information public?
JK: It’s already public information, the difficulty is in finding it, putting it together in a way that makes sense and knowing how to apply it to your business. A lot of marketing students, start-up founders, and smaller marketing departments need these services – but aren’t big enough yet where it would make sense to come to an agency like OptFirst. We’ve had quite a few ebook downloads so far and most of those have been small businesses and few students.
Me: So, bigger companies need to do more than what’s outlined in the book?
JK: Actually, … the book covers all the areas that bigger companies need to build their online campaign strategies. Smaller entities are more likely to just need some of the items in the book. That being said, some smaller entities can really benefit from understanding exactly what we do and how we do it – then opting to outsource that work to us anyway. It means that they can hire more people to do what really matters, which is focusing on their business. So, they can hire people for legal services, selling real estate, providing medical services, etc. This is the same way the OMM helps larger organizations identify areas that they can cover with their own resources and gives them the knowledge to outsource other processes such as advertising their company to a top Internet marketing agency like OptFirst.
Me: What makes OptFirst a “top marketing agency” in terms of competition?
JK: That’s very simple, we’re incredibly good at two things that matter the most: tracking and coding and those two things combined with the processes I laid out in the book make us a cut above the rest. We save a lot of time for companies by keeping track of everything that happens on every campaign. Every visitor, click, form fill and phone call is tracked and can be linked back to a specific source. We also make multiple landing pages for many of our campaigns and can set-up tracking code on websites and mobile apps. We built our own customizable dashboard, Campaign Dash to show all the key metrics from dozens of different areas all in one place. We coded our own mobile app for iOS and Android to automate review management for our clients. This just means that things happen faster, more cost-efficiently and more accurately with us. That translates to more profit in less time for our clients.
Me: So, what are the areas of the book?
JK: You read the book …
Me: [laughing] okay so SEO, Search Advertising, Paid Social and Reputation Management. What do businesses need to know about what those terms mean? Which ones are more important?
JK: They are all important but SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is king. It’s the core of what happens on the internet. People are searching for information and its the only reason why people go online with their phones, Macs, PCs and now IOT [Internet of Things] voice assistants. SEO is the best investment in the long run for most businesses since it builds relevance and authority online and is hard for competitors to counter – if its done right.
Me: Is SEO link-building and making sure the meta descriptions on a word press site have the right keywords?
JK: You know the answer to that!
Me: I’m just asking you for the interview…
JK: [smiling] That’s a small part of it these days. Keywords in the meta tags and H1 header content form a small part of what we call “On-Page SEO” in the Online Marketing Manual. In the book, we include activities like link-building in “Off-Page SEO”. Though we caution readers about being too gung-ho about building links in the wrong places and in the wrong way. It is supposed to be a marathon and not a sprint. Too much too fast can lead to over-optimization, a concept we describe in the book, but it’s basically a counterproductive mentality for SEO.
Me: So, having good SEO in the long term is key to online success. What can a company do online to make money now?
JK: Now? Web campaigns take a couple weeks to set-up right but if “now” means by this month or next month, the answer is Search Advertising and Paid Social.
Me: Google Ads which was formerly known as Ad Words correct?
JK: Exactly. Search Advertising is Google Ads 90% of the time. If set up right, a company with no prior online presence can go from launch to their first conversion in days rather than weeks. A conversion might be a form fill or call to action for your sales team. If you have an e-commerce store, conversions happen when someone buys your product.
Me: That’s right. Google Shopping Ads link straight to landing pages where people can click to buy instantly. Literally going from the ad to the product to check out.
JK: Yep – sometimes it straight from the ad to check out. It depends on the campaign. Search Advertising strategies for e-commerce make for some of the most successful case studies in the industry. It’s as close as you can get to instant return-on-investment (ROI) in marketing. SEO plays a role here too though. Even in paid ads. In the Online Marketing Manual, we outline the 8-Step Product set-up page that looks at the SEO-related on-page best practices for people to build into the design of a, say, Shopify or WooCommerce website. We blend SEO, landing pages and paid ads in different ways for different campaigns.
Me: Is social media important?
JK: Depends. You mean, do you need social media to make money as a business?
Me: Yes, that’s what I mean. Does it matter what a business does on social media?
JK: Of course, but on social media, you need to pay to play. It’s a major pitfall if a company relies on just organic marketing on social media. In the OMM and across the industry we call unpaid marketing “organic”. So, SEO is organic and Google Ads is paid marketing. Over the summer I went to an auto-industry convention and heard an executive from Facebook admit that their algorithm restricts even the hottest organic posts from corporate pages from getting more than 5% of followers wall impressions. That’s a small share when you compare it to the potential of paid social advertising.
Me: The book goes into detail about how tailored you can get with regards to demographics. Is there a privacy issue with advertising to social media followers?
JK: Privacy issues are huge in the industry now. Businesses need to be careful and that’s another area where hiring experts like OptFirst are essential for certain types of campaigns. Reputation Management is a perfect example…
Me: Review App, our app for managing online reviews across different platforms for example.
JK: Right! We spend the first week as you know setting up the app for a client and making sure that compliance with CAN, SPAM, TCPA, and the special statutes in their areas is looked at before we launch the campaign. Who you text, how, when and whether they’ve opted-in or not and what other agreements they’ve made with the company is important to look at. It can be tricky, but the upside of a good review management strategy is important.
Me: Reviews are important, 79% of users consider online reviews as important as personal recommendations.
JK: That’s right. Because people know they are crowdsourced. They rightly trust Google and Yelp to properly curate reviews and prevent “astroturfing”. Astroturfing is when businesses and competitors make fake reviews to maliciously boost or harm a business. We help our reputation management clients avoid those traps.
Me: And what happens if someone’s business gets victimized by malicious reviews?
JK: It can get worse than just reviews. We’ve seen people’s Google My Business profiles hijacked and sabotaged by unscrupulous competitors. In one case, a client came to us after they were effectively slandered in a popular movie about them that was produced without their permission. In both cases, reviews are not the issue – it’s what happens when people search your name and find what others are writing about you. Or pretending to be you. They ended up successfully rewriting several key parts of that individual’s Wikipedia page. In another case, I personally sat at the stand as an expert witness.
Me: I remember that one. Our client won.
JK: Yes, the judge saw the overwhelming evidence and ruled in our favor. A civil judgment and we won’t go into the details here – but that competitor really messed-up and the law recognized that. As a Google Premier Partner, we had the internal knowledge of how to get the GMB account back under our client’s control.
By the way, you forgot one last section of the book…
JK: [laughs] Yes, tracking.
Me: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” *
JK: … and if you don’t measure it, you won’t know how to improve it. So, we measure full-time here.
Me: All day every day.
[We both instinctively look at our watches and notice that the interview has gone over the 15 minutes we set aside to chat. I have some ad campaign measuring to do and John is due across town for a talk he’s giving on the perils of using industry vertical-specific marketing agencies].
Me: John, thanks for your time.
JK: You’re welcome Parker. See you this afternoon.
…and we’re off.
The Online Marketing Manual by John Kriney 2018 Falcor Publishing is at www.amazon.com. Buy today to help your business gain the results its been looking for.
Parker Lake is an Account Manager at OptFirst Internet Marketing – a Google Premier Partner. Coming from a development agency and a corporate sales background, he has a laser-like focus on improving his clients’ bottom line. The team of content experts, programmers and marketing analysts at OptFirst help organizations make more money through better use of internet advertising, better websites and better mobile apps. Looking to level-up your company’s internet game? Reach out to Parker on his LinkedIn profile.