Grow Your Business With ROI-Driven Marketing Practices With Ben Lund


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Breaking Through The Digital Space

Digital marketing can seem daunting when you consider all the components that go into making a successful campaign. From web design to content marketing, social media, targeted ads, and SEO— there is a lot to unpack to successfully navigate this essential medium. And, of course, there is the added stressor of having all these components work together seamlessly to build brand awareness and increase your brand's ROI. But where does one even start?

Ben Lund is here to share his expertise in marketing practices that not only increase your ROI but also enhance your brand as a whole. In this blog, Hollywood Branded discusses measuring business growth and ROI through digital marketing practices. 

The Importance Of Integrated Sales And Marketing Strategy  (2)

A Little More About Ben

Ben is the founder of Rise Marketing group, a performance marketing agency focused on advertising, SEO, email marketing, and social media. Over his 18-year career in marketing, Ben has worked for companies including Monster, Yahoo!, Rimm-Kauffman Group, and Google. He now helps companies, marketing directors, and other entrepreneurs drive business growth through strategic marketing and advertising.

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Question: How did you get where you are today? What made you dive into this world of digital marketing?

Answer: Great question; how did I get here? I graduated from UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Business undergrad in 2004. I just liked marketing classes; those are the fun ones, so I'm like, all right, I should probably stick within marketing. And then earlier in my career, I worked at And that was a thing, you know, you look for jobs, you would look at Monster. 
I was in ad sales, and by ad sales, that makes it sound way more glamorous than it actually was. I was just cold calling and dialing for dollars and calling 60 folks a day to try and sell job postings. It paid well. It was a good job; it was not a good career, at least for me. But I took them like, okay, I like this whole internet-y thing that I'm doing, not necessarily "sell, sell, sell." And yeah, so then I was like, okay, I'm gonna leave Monster; let's look out there. And then, I got a huge break early in my career. Someone knew someone who was hiring at Yahoo, and, at the time, in the mid-2000s, Yahoo was kind of a big deal. Still had a strong amount of search volume compared to Google. Everyone went to the Yahoo homepage, the portal to the Internet. And I was an account manager, and I worked with great brands like Comcast, Fidelity, and I just learned so much.

So that's just like solidified me of like, "I love marketing." I love digital marketing, I love internet marketing, like everything online. And then I just kept on that path and then worked at an agency, RKG—Rimm-Kauffman Group since acquired by Merkel. 
And then I ended up at Google because, again, someone knew someone who was hiring. I'm like, "well shoot, I should probably go for it because it's Google, and you love marketing. So that's a pretty good spot." And I was there for a few years. But I left Google because throughout, let's say, the last 15 years or so, I always wanted to do my own thing. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I never knew what exactly that would be, but then eventually hit me. I'm like, "well, you've been doing digital marketing for a long time.  Why don't you sell that as a service? And then took that giant leap and founded Rise Marketing Group almost  5 years ago.  It was a little over 4 and a half years ago. And it's been a ton of fun. 

Question: Can people nowadays actually have success and be found if they are not doing paid advertising on Google?  If someone just went for an organic approach, are they going to be able to be successful as a business? What would they need to do if that was indeed their direction? 

Answer: You can be successful. You need a ton of patience, though. You need a ton of patience. But we encourage every client—pretty much, I say any client that is expecting to be in business, let's say 2-3 years from now, you should do SEO (search engine optimization), but we have that requisite. Now, if this is a startup company like, "Yeah, we offer this." "How many customers do you have?" "Not too many. We're just getting off the ground." They don't even know if they're gonna be in business a couple of years, so I'm like, forget SEO because you're not even going to start to see a return until multiple quarters out from that initial effort, that initial lift. But for businesses that are viable; they make money; they make profit; they expect to be in business in a couple of years; I say, absolutely should be doing SEO. And early on, it's not going to be profitable. You're going to lose money off it because you're putting a bunch of money into content, which you really need to think through, provide value-driven content, do your keyword research, and identifying gaps where it's not as competitive. You need to get your story out there and have other websites reference the great work that you're doing. And over time, if you keep up the content and get other sites to link to you, and make sure you have an optimized say, from a technical perspective, you will see rewards. And over time, I believe that SEO is more profitable than paid ads if you do it for a long time. So initially, the first couple of quarters, it's not profitable at all. But then you're gonna hit this breakeven plane, and then it just takes off. Whereas paid, it's the total opposite. Let's say, first month or two, or even three, you're not that profitable, but you're learning your figure out who your audience is. But then it catches on, and it's pretty very consistent in terms of profitability. So yeah, it is possible. But you need a lot of patience and get an SEO to work. 

Question: What are some of the mistakes that some of your clients typically make? When you're working with them, you know, they're a new company, and they haven't done too much; where should they start off, and where do they sometimes tend to go wrong?

Answer: It varies. Some clients that we've worked with in the past and are working with sometimes they just don't know who their target audience is, and I'm sure you come across this quite a bit. So, for example, you might have, you know, a company that have this expectation of who their target audience is, but they don't know for sure. And then the mistake is, they don't really have the data to back it up. They just kind of think or have a gut feeling.

So to rectify any potential mistake of like, "Okay, well, let's just go to market. I have this segment just based off of a gut feeling," what we like to do if they, let's say, have Google Analytics and some decent tracking set up, do some analysis Who is their target audience? Is it what they think it is?  Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Like, "Hey, you know, what you're telling me is your audience is this, but all your customers are actually this audience. If you want to get into this audience, that's fine. Your original one, we can have a campaign for that, but I don't want to negate all these people that are actually buying from you. So that's a big one of just really understanding. And that will evolve for any business over time, and that can change. But as a source of truth, we really like using Google Analytics and making sure all measurements are set up of a lead generation or transactions just so that way you can do some really good analysis to understand who your customers are, not only different attributes of what they do online. But also, are they in the northeast? Are they the West coast? Are they a younger demographic, older? Things like that...

...let's say, for example, working with a client, and we identify an audience or two that frequently buy from them, so, like, great, let's go after that. And then yes, then it comes down into a lot of the keyword research of like, "Okay, what are people searching in this category? What do they want to know?" And then, it goes into creating the ads, like what messaging really relates to them or resonates to them, and then the landing page. But what we like to do is create a couple of different campaigns and maybe different types of audiences, and then within each, we might even have different creative. The beauty of Google ads and a lot of advertising platforms is you can get data like quite fast, and then so you can go after different audience segments. Let's say 3 different campaigns, 3 different audiences, and then send them all to the same landing page (or maybe different iterations), and then we can just see, like, how they are interacting with your brand. And then that's an easy optimization. If one audience doesn't work well, for whatever reason, let's kill it or optimize and see if we can get to profitability. And the ones that we find that are just working let's give it more budget, more opportunity to grow. 

Question: What are three things people need to do within the next year? What would you say to them?

Answer: Yeah, so one of the things I want to say that a lot of people talk about, and it is nothing new, but very rarely do people do it, and that is carving out a test budget. And so, let's say your marketing budget is 10k per month, or 100K a month. Carve out 10-15% of that budget to try new things because if you're not pushing the envelope, trying new channels, new campaigns, like, truly, how are you going to grow by just optimizing your existing campaigns? In terms of doing budgeting for this year, 2023, I would definitely carve out budget for testing because that is just going to help you out long term to keep that leadership position or gain that leadership position. So that's number one.

Number two, really get comfortable with data, whether that's themselves or someone on their team. Just because we have so much data at our disposal, which is a great thing, and it can give a lot of answers to questions that we may have on our marketing. I would invest in talent on the team to, let's say, set up Google Analytics for whichever it should be migrating to now, if they haven't done so already, and really look at the data. Who are our customers? What are they doing on our website? Is our website good from a point of engagement? Are they bouncing right away? Like just get comfortable with data because the answers are all there. You just need to mine through it. So that doesn't mean that everyone has to take these master classes on Google Analytics. But hire an agency. Hire someone on your team. Get comfortable with data.  

So we talked about a test budget; get comfortable with that. And then the third thing I would say, just kind of on the fly here, again not a novel idea, but very important that a lot of people overlook—put your customers first. How does your website look to them? Are you solving their needs? And it's easy to have a product or a campaign, excuse me, a website or campaign that's me, me, me, I'm so good, look at me, we're the best ever. Who cares? Like think about the customer and what do they want to see. What's gonna make them feel at ease, and you can get some great data by interviewing your existing customers or just serving folks. And if you just keep that user-focused or your customer focus that's going to help across all channels. That's not just digital, that's everything. 

Question: What do you think are new trends that we're going to see shortly? 

Answer: So there are a lot of trends that are happening. I've talked about machine learning automation; that's going to continue, so pin that and just keep that up there. 
There's also a lot of economic trends that are happening.  So as it stands right now, in January 2023, there's always talks: are we in a recession? Did we start a recession months ago? Are we going into one? But we are seeing that impact behavior. So keep that in mind with whatever you're going to market; either pricing or messaging is just to be aware of this. This isn't pre-covid, and times are pretty good, even though everyone can always complain about anything. So there are different trends, even economically, in macro trends that you need to think about. Maybe your conversion rates might be a little bit lower this year over last year. How can you differentiate yourself? Do you have to revisit your price and things like that? So that's another good one. Or that, I believe, is good, that you should probably keep in mind of these macro trends that are going to impact everything. 
And then another trend, and this is just marketing overall, which kind of goes to user experience and SEO, is always provide value for the user. And Google, all their SEO updates, as I know you know, Stacy, has always been user first. Provide great experience for the user, and that's how Google will turn into an awesome search engine because they're only prioritizing sites that provide real good value to the user. But that it has been a trend ongoing and will not go away. That's on Google for anything that you put on your website, but also even add quality from Google ads or Meta ads. Have good ads because the engines and platforms will reward you. If you have garbage ads but a budget, they'll still serve it, but you're gonna pay a premium CPC. So make sure you're just putting out quality value driven, user-first content. Easy to say, hard to do for sure. But that's what I would continue in 2023. 

Check Out The Podcast!

Ben has so much great information from his experience in digital marketing and advertising. Check out the podcast below to learn more about creating quality, user-first content to grow your business.

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