We're always excited by experts who validate our vision and projections about the future of internet retail and data feed optimization.
In an earlier blog post, we commented on Lisa Williams' enthusiasm about Data Feed Optimization, and were intrigued by her assertion that Data Feed Optimization results in increased sales. So we decided to go deeper with her in an email interview.
The Edge: A little about you: Your website says you’re an SEO rockstar. What does that mean? Do you get to demand what color m&m’s you have in your trailer? Tell me about your company.
LW: That testimonial is one of my favorites, but I have to say that our industry has few rock stars (and I wouldn't count myself among them). I do think there's an advantage for search practitioners who've been around awhile. Yet the industry is still so new and being a rock star or guru to me means owning a discipline the way Jimi Hendrix owns a guitar. For online marketers our guitar changes all the time.
I think the best online marketers can do is push the limits, spend lots of time learning and testing and keep coming up with wins for their clients or bosses. We do Pay for Performance online marketing so focus is primarily on immediate ROI, I love that model because both client and vendor have the same success metric of sales. Though I love the term Search Rockstar, my preference is Goddess or Princess.
The Edge: Great blog post, btw. I’m assuming you’re among those who believes search is sexy. Why?
I think search is super sexy. It's so much fun, so unpredictable, so messy, so thrilling, sometimes scary and never boring. There's always something new to explore. If you have a handle on Paid search, spend more time learning about Analytics or Landing Page Optimization.
You can't rest on your laurels in this industry, you have to keep succeeding and experimenting. It can only get boring if you're boring. Hate to go too far with this analogy, but also think some of the best practitioners have long term experience with a single site. It's a red flag to me if a marketer brags about wins with a lot of companies and all those wins are from simply doing one thing. You can only become skilled if you experiment and win (and it doesn't count unless both client and vendor agree you're winning.)
The Edge: You noted that product data feeds can contribute to an uptick in revenue. What did you base that on? Are there stories you can tell or studies you can cite?
LW: Sure, we do see lower CTR (Click Thru Rate) and lower Conversion Rate from Product Listings, but we also see CPC (Cost Per Click) decreases and CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) decreases across the board.
We saw CPC decrease by 25% with a 10% lift in Conversion for a best selling category (blue ox base plates http://www.hitchsource.com/blue-ox-base-plate.php) for a client.
When you have multiple links on page one (Natural Search listing, Paid Search listing and Product Listing) there's a lift from that consistency and branding. From a math standpoint, you're getting more links on the page, from a psychology standpoint, you're reinforces the brand.
The Edge: We see Data Feed Optimization’s growth and popularity paralleling that of SEO – a lot of ignorance at first, but eventually, a general acceptance that it is critical to today’s marketing. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?
LW: Absolutely agree. Test it, refine it and if it works, keep trying to make it better. Data Feed Optimization helps Product Extensions (extensions on Paid ads that include additional product information), Product Listings (supplemental listings that appear in Paid search results) and Shopping Results.
It generates enough revenue that it deserves more than just a "set it and forget it" mentality. Helping clients understand the upside to Data Feed Optimization and creating reporting that demonstrates value of that optimization helps companies make it a standard line item in their online marketing strategies.
The Edge: What would you say to someone who is trying to make a “business case” for employing data feed optimization tactics?
LW: It is free to upload your data feed to Google Merchant Center, but it's not free to implement and maintain. The business mistake some companies make is thinking that since sharing the feed is free, the entire tactic is free. It takes skill to employ data feed optimization tactics and to make a business case for it, implementation needs to be attached to business goals and strategies.
I believe there is a branding case to be made here as well. More links on the page is brand reinforcement. I think that's a business case that's fairly easy to prove.
The Edge: Plug your business/book/latest enterprise/blog/twitter/facebook/googlePlus/scheme.
LW: I'm working on a book titled "Sustainable Online Marketing: When Everybody Clicks". I've interviewed many of the best online marketing practitioners in search of the path to great client/vendor relationships. I am proud of the work I've done for many of my clients, but to be honest, there have been times in my career that I sucked. I didn't appropriately create expectations for the client, or manage unreasonable expectations.
I started writing the book to learn how to be better at my job. I'm so impressed by the level of brilliance in this industry. Search practitioners come from science, computer science, information retrieval, journalism, PR and other backgrounds, but what the great ones have in common is their desire to win. Their desire to approach their work with honesty, integrity and fairness in a field that, frankly, has seen its' fair share of practitioners that suck. I'm grateful to the industry for all they've shared and if I never sell a copy the process has been awesome. It's still a work in progress, but looking forward to sharing. In the meantime,
I'm excited about speaking at SMX Social Media Marketing (http://searchmarketingexpo.com/socialmediamarketing/agenda) in December.