Photo: Taylor Reaume
Courtesy of: Taylor Reaume
In this, my latest installment of interviews with outstanding marketing professionals, I visit with Taylor Reaume, marketing coach and owner of the Santa Barbara, California-based marketing agency Search Engine Pros, a privately-held international provider of search marketing services. Reaume and his company help businesses and individuals understand online marketing plan components so they can develop a comprehensive, integrated website marketing strategy that builds a strong online presence. Small business website promotion has been his specialty for years, but he also helps clients develop a pricing strategy for marketing their products.
How did you happen to end up in this line of work?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by technology. Web design came naturally to me, it didn’t feel like work, it felt like play to me. I went to college at Humboldt State University, at the very top of California. I started out working on a degree in economics and actually ended up with a double major in marketing as well. While in college, around 1998-2003, I had an on-campus job working as a computer lab monitor for the eight computer labs on Humboldt State University. That’s where my love of the Internet and websites began. That was such a fantastic job because it was right when the Internet was growing in popularity so I had a chance to learn all about the Internet through this job.
What other jobs have you done?
My first job in high school was at a little Mexican food place called Taco Bell. While at Taco Bell, I kept applying for better positions until I landed a better job working for the San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation department. I also worked as an electrician along the Grape Vine in California, traveling from location to location, grounding telephone towers. During college, I worked in the forestry department of Humboldt State University doing data entry work briefly, before finding a computer lab monitor position. After college, I moved from Humboldt down to Seal Beach, CA, where I found a mortgage broker in need of a web site. I built him a high performing lead generation web site. Shortly after, he asked me if I wanted to do mortgage refinances with him. I obtained my real estate license and split my time between refinances and marketing. In the evenings, I was burning the midnight oil working on my online music collaboration web site, which ended up selling for six figures to Jupiter Media in New York, this was back in 2007.
What was your childhood like?
Born in San Diego, CA, Our family moved to Arcadia, CA where I spent most of my younger grammar school days attending a Catholic school there called Holy Angels. While in Arcadia I grew up playing just about every sport under the sun, including baseball, soccer, football, tennis and basketball. I had a typical middle class upbringing during my grammar school years, in Arcadia / Pasadena area. My parents are both from very large Catholic / Irish / French families and so we always had large holiday gatherings, lots of love in the air. I have a younger brother, an older brother, and an older sister. When I was 10, my parents moved our family to San Luis Obispo, Ca, specifically, a little ranch town called Santa Margarita, CA. It was quite a change going from a city slicker to a country bumpkin, but I really enjoyed the new experience.
What did your parents do?
My father is a lawyer, but he didn’t like the idea of dressing up in suits for the rest of his life, and after a couple years of practicing law, he switched his career to become a general contractor in residential construction. My mother is a Realtor for 35 years now.
What was high school and college like for you?
During my high school days my family bought some land in Santa Margarita, CA, which is just outside of San Luis Obispo, where, I attended a Catholic High School called Mission College Preparatory. I played soccer in high school. I spent 5 years attending Humboldt State University and graduated in Economics and Marketing, and a minor in Piano. I was the recipient of a 4 year Real Estate Scholarship from the California Association of Realtors while attending H.S.U. In both high school and college, I had a very diverse group of smart friends. I always made a point to seek out and surround myself with people whom I thought had both books marts and street smarts. Those are always my best teachers. In 1998, the college days, I started designing websites, back when Google was still called “Back Rub”. I became somewhat of a local authority on Search engine optimization because word got around that one of my web sites was getting over 200,000 unique visitors per month …which led to the sale of the site for six figures in 2007. This gave me the undeniable proof that my SEO methods really worked. No black hat SEO methods – just naturally strong rankings as a result of diligence and finding ways to add value to others for no charge.
What do you like best about your work?
I like that I can work from anywhere. I feel “in the zone” when I am working on websites — doesn’t feel like work to me. I like that I can barter with people easily without any legal strings attached. It also helps that I don’t have to be much of a salesman, because this line of work is trending upward so fast these days. When I sit down with a client, I love learning about their business. I ask questions, such as “What was your big turning point?” The stories I hear are always different and intriguing.
About which of your current projects are you most excited?
http://StandOutComic.com is my newest project which has me very excited these days. Stand Out Comic is a comedy marketing agency that helps comics optimize their web presence and get the RIGHT messages, in front of the RIGHT audiences on the web. We help make their web site STAND OUT. I love working with comedians. Laughter is the best medicine!
What is most challenging about your work?
The most challenging part of working as a web strategist is probably deadlines. It’s taken me years to surround myself with a team that enables me to meet deadlines on time.
What are your future work goals?
My goal with Stand Out Comic is to build a portfolio of big name comics and manage their marketing goals. It’s going to be a steep mountain to climb, but it will be worth it.
Why are you headquartered in Santa Barbara?
Oprah lives here…and Oprah is never wrong…(smile) My philosophy is “Do whatever Oprah does, and you’re life will be right,” Seriously, though, Santa Barbara is a beautiful place to live and work. “Grow where your planted”, yes, but I think one should try to plant in a good area. I am old enough to realize now, your network is your net worth. It takes 10 years to build a strong community.
Any special hobbies/interests?
I enjoy playing basketball, soccer, salsa dancing, yoga, hiking, kung fu, tennis and stand up paddle boarding. I am a very sociable person and enjoy all types of activities. I’m very outgoing but I think I’m shy when first meeting people. Love to banter about life experiences, watch comedies and dramas (movies that make me feel deeply). I’m a happy, sensual, sophisticated yet down-to-earth man. I love all types of music, Beatles, Bob Dylan, Velvet Underground, Sublime, Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, world music, meditation music, jazz, country and anything that’s unique and classy. I am very much an independent, spiritual type (raised Catholic, but studied many other religions, accepting of all religions). I am involved in several non-profits in Santa Barbara, and enjoy helping out in the community.
You appear to be mild-mannered. Do you ever get angry/upset/shout scream/punch a wall or a person?
I’ve never been an angry type of person. I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum. Positive things happen to positive people. Have you heard of the Enneagram? It’s a personality test and I am #9, the peacemaker. Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. (That was Buddha, not me.)
What are your three most important recommendations to business owners to increase the search engine optimization strength of their website?
There are over 250 factors Google considers when ranking a web site. Search engine optimization is all about doing 100’s of little things right. However, if I had to give you just 3, I would say 1.) Research and discover your top 10 keywords and optimize your title tags with those keywords 2. ) A blog post a day keeps the robots from going away! 3.) Get more “authority” inbound links to your web site.
What are your three most important recommendations to business owners regarding their use of social media?
Social Media is the newer, better, faster way to reach customers. Did you know that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 40-60 years old? In the old days, we used to network in the coffee shops, nowadays, it’s all happening on social media sites. Social media sites are like personal newspapers of people’s lives. Some call it “lifestreaming”. Smart marketers are building massive emotional equity with social media sites. Educational marketing on social sites will double your business this year, if executed properly (value-adds, not pitches). Did you know that Google is now crawling the Facebook Fan pages? Social media marketing also helps your SEO efforts (nice dual benefit). Permission based marketing is more important than ever in 2015 and beyond. Boost your “likes’ and your “followers”, and you’ll boost your sales and profits, and awareness for your cause. You don’t make money from social media sites, you make money from getting people to know, like and trust you. More listening. Less broadcasting. Half the process involves creating remarkable content that will “kick off” the conversation, and the other half is following up with remarkable listening skills. People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. If you take an active approach in listening to people, they will tell you what they want and in that, what you can provide to them. The effectiveness of push methods such as television, newspapers, direct mail have been on the decline in recent years. Many business owners today are finding that online marketing is a lower cost alternative for getting the message out. Specifically, pull marketing, also known as ‘listening marketing’. This includes social media, search engine optimization and online forums. Niche forums have emerged as an effective way to grow a business in today’s market. Modern day consumers are demanding that companies listen more and push less. This presents a big problem for business owners that are not savvy with pull marketing. Conversely, it presents a big advantage for business owners that capitalize on the trend. Social media and permission based marketing takes significantly more time, not just to learn, but to get results from, than that command and control advertising methods most of us are familiar with (i.e. post cards, radio ads, newspaper ads). Permission based marketing requires more education of your staff to learn how to efficiently take part in online conversations. Educating your staff on how to do social media marketing may take some time and a concerted effort on your part, but it is proving to be a phenomenal marketing method. For some business owners, it’s a matter of attending marketing “meet-ups” and learning the knowledge. The cost is actually free other than the time investment.
What are your three most important recommendations to business owners regarding overall marketing strategy?
A successful overall marketing strategy is largely a matter of knowing how to efficiently add value to strategic centers of influence around you. There are many ways to add value to those around you. For example, business owners can create educational top 10 list articles, sharing remarkable statistics and timesaving resources, and connecting their audience with trusted partners. The R.O.I. is much higher when web marketing activities are synchronized and deployed consistently over a period of six months. We keep our clients ‘top of mind’ every month with a professional web presence, which includes high touch email newsletters, SEO enhanced press releases, educational blog posts and entertaining social media status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The number of people making purchases online continues to increase, and the companies they find on the web are likely to be those with a fine-tuned Internet marketing strategy.
What are your three most important recommendations to business owners about web design?
1. Choose WordPress as your CMS 2. K.I.S.S. Design – (Keep it simple sweet heart) 3. Choose remarkable photos
What are your three most important recommendations to business owners about branding?
Consumers now co-author the stories brands’ tell. Push is now pull and monologue is now dialogue. Web branding, like newspaper advertising, requires consistency with messaging. The need to stay “top of mind” has not changed. What has changed are the vehicles that drive our brand messages. Modern day branding strategies are focused on building emotional equity through Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Linkedin.com, and other pull-based marketing vehicles. Consistency in branding, both online and offline is a key ingredient to building massive emotional equity with customers, and emotional equity is the stuff that creates a “referral storm”. If you can connect with people on this level the likelihood of them engaging with your brand grows exponentially. If people see their friends recommending you, you will create a storm of referrals. It’s important to remember that marketing and branding is a battle of perception, not products. It is really important that people see you adding value in a remarkable way. When people see you as a helpful resource, they will be more likely to recommend you, and when you get recommended, your network will grow. Your network is your net worth, and growing your network is priority #1 in business. In order to grow your network, you need to find ways to efficiently add value to strategic partners, so they’ll recommend you to their network.
What’s all this talk about a whitepaper strategy?
A white paper strategy works particularly well for the B2B industry and for larger ticket, emotionally charged transactions. The idea with a white paper strategy is to create a whitepaper and advertise it on Google Adwords to collect emails and send people valuable information every month. What’s a whitepaper? -it’s like a “suit and tie” version of a free report. It’s literature – marketing material – that sits on a decision maker’s desk. This is a unique web marketing strategy for building an email list (and thus your bottom line). You will need to create 3 things: 1. an email opt in form on your web site 2. a PDF whitepaper with useful information 3. Google Adwords Ad saying: Download Free 3 Page Guide. Complex Terms. Simple Definitions. etc. The email opt in can occur on your web site. The Google Ad draws the visitor to your email opt in page. The email opt in should offer a download of a whitepaper. Inside the white paper – smart marketers will consider addressing specific “points of resistance” in the sales process, thereby accomplishing two goals at once; 1.) lowering your prospect’s sales resistance 2.) a customer you can market to for life by email. The idea is first to get your prospect to opt into the newsletter (so you can provide them ongoing information about your company.)
What is a PPC campaign and why is it important?
PPC stands for “Pay Per Click”. Many people try to go it alone with a PPC strategy. In most cases, a novice approach just isn’t going to cut it when you are swimming with the sharks on Google Adwords, you’ll lose your shirt quickly. An official fully optimized setup takes focused time and energy. A successful PPC campaign requires an experienced hand each month fine tuning to increase clicks to your site and decrease the costs of those clicks by optimizing your ad positions (more traffic for less cost). It’s important to spend time researching competitors strengths and capitalizing on the best keywords in their campaigns. A PPC consultant will help you discover the best keywords to target, find the low cost high traffic keywords with high commercial intent, create new ad copy, split test ads, adjust keyword bids to ensure maximum ROI, add negative keywords and optimize the account for conversions. Landing pages are another big part of the puzzle with PPC campaigns. A dynamic landing page will greatly increase your click through rates. To win the Google Adwords war, you must increase your CTR (Click through rates). The big mistake every makes with PPC is they send everyone to the homepage, rather than to a specific landing page. That’s the main reason why most people fail at PPC is because they don’t understand why Google is charging them so much money per click (it’s because secretly Google would rather not have them on the network). Google wants to send its visitors to highly targeted landing pages (creating a good experience for Google users). Imagine if all of the ads took you to a page which was not relevant to what you clicked on? You would be pretty upset right? Creating targeted landing pages is one of the big keys to success with a PPC campaign.
Describe SEO copywriting, how to do it and how it works.
Great SEO copywriting makes it easier for customers to find you on the web. SEO copyrighting is essentially writing content with “smart” keywords and adding visually appealing graphics to get the message across easier to your readers. When you write your content with high traffic “smart” keywords, you will get more first page listings on Google and other major search engines. Did you know that more than 80% of consumers are making buying decisions based off of web-based advertising? This begs the question; “How do I get my business to be #1 on Google?” Google’s ranking algorithm gives priority rankings to fresh content. “A blog post a day keeps the robots from going away…” To be a superstar on Google and dominate the first page of their search engine listings, you must publish remarkable content. Links and content are important vehicles, but what matters most is that you are remarkable in some way with your approach and delivery. Since fresh, remarkable content is king, today’s companies that pre-plan content are winning at the search engine wars and moving closer to the throne.
Describe a link manager and why it’s so important.
A link manager will help you develop a strategy to get more links to your web site. More links = More traffic = More Sales. Earlier I spoke about the importance of adding value to people around you. When your web strategy is focused on adding value to people, you will naturally increase the number of hyperlinks, or “votes,” for the website. If the business owner can successfully increase the number of hyperlinks pointing into his or her website each month, the owner will see a direct correlation with the increase in search engine rankings.
What is Marketing Automation and why is it important?
Robots haven’t taken over the world yet, but they certainly have taken over the marketing industry. It’s time to embrace them and use them as a tool for connecting with people. While robots can never replace humans, they can help us increase the number of opportunities we to get in front of humans to build emotional equity. By automating our processes of following up with clients and adding value we will increase the numbers of customers in the marketplace that are willing to listen to us. Note that I am not suggesting we automate the process of blasting offers to customers, but rather automating the process of adding value and striking the healthy balance of offers and value-adds. Tell them what you have and then tell them how having it will add value to their lives. In every industry there are certain documents which have a sense of ‘universal appeal’ and add a remarkable level of value to a wide demographic. It’s important to locate those documents and start streaming them out to your customer base (adding value). It is important to develop a content publishing plan to connect your customer base with your brand emotionally. Start organizing all of the remarkable content in your industry, and schedule the content to go out to your customer base in smart, targeted intervals and you’ll begin to increase the emotional equity with your customers. Emotional equity takes time. It’s difficult to automate emotional equity. Time is money. Robots are your friend here. Marketing automation facilitates the process of getting in front of people more often. When you get in front of people (with remarkable content), you’ll increase the numbers of people that know, like and trust you. Most importantly, when you do this successfully, you get more people to recommend you. Your network is your net worth. By automating the tedious tasks required to get in front of customers, you’ll be able to focus more on delivering excellent products or services to your customers.
How important is it to send out a monthly newsletter?
Email opens on smartphones and tablets have increased 80 percent over the last six months, according to a study done by Litmus. Email marketing remains the lowest cost return on investment marketing available to business owners today. Average return on email marketing investment: $44.25 for every dollar spent (Source: iContact) Internet marketing conferences typically have the same mantra over and over, COLLECT EMAIL ADDRESSES. The whole reason you have a web site, is to collect email addresses. Email marketing, across all industries, is the most effective weapon that business owners have in their marketing arsenal. Email marketing managers will show you the best and worst open rates for subject lines, according to recent studies. If you have been in business for a while, you know that email marketing is complex and take a specialist to really excel at this marketing platform. Some email marketing mistakes I see being made all the time include spam compliance issues, dull subject lines, emails not being compelling or too wordy, sending to your list too often, not collecting the right email addresses, not know list building techniques and how to get the right people to opt into your newsletter, not taking the time to create massive value in the newsletters you send out. Autoresponders are automated educational emails that go out after a prospect opts into your database. They help educate the client, and help reduce phone questions. Autoresponders are especially effective (and in our opinion, essential) for companies with large ticket transactions. You may heard the phrase “You don’t want to ask her to marry you on the first date…” This notion is true in the business world when it comes to large ticket transactions, such as real estate, mortgages, computer support, etc. These industries especially must start refining their email marketing strategies if they are to succeed in the coming decade. Email marketing is no different than any other type of marketing, the same rules apply. Your goal is to get as many prospects on your monthly newsletter as possible, that is, if you’re into that recurring income thing. Permission based marketing is the key to success. When you start collecting email addresses from visitors that come to your website you will see a definite increase in the success of your marketing efforts. To increase the number of people that you can market to every month, you might consider to offer them a free gift, report or subscription to your newsletter. With a newsletter you will have an excellent opportunity to build up a loyal readership. Then you can send a message to them every so often and remind them that you are still around. People are smart. Make sure you provide them with good information that is related to your product so that they will keep on reading. Be sure not to bombard them with just sales messages. Remember you want them to trust you!
What does an SEO manager do and why is it important to have one?
In 2015, SEO (search engine optimization) has a broader definition than it did five years ago. Generally, SEO encompasses web design, graphic design, press releases, blog posts, e-newsletters, list building and, in general, polishing a company’s web presence. Marketing methods today are shifting from offline to online, from push to pull, and from traditional to digital. This has created a ‘digital divide’ – a chasm as it were, separating digitally savvy marketers from traditional marketers. The good news is that the only thing that has changed is the methods in which basic marketing is done have evolved with the continued technological advances we continue to see. The basic principles of a successful marketing campaign have remained the same. Keeping the message out in front of people is still the main objective for most businesses looking to successfully market their brand. In the past 12 years I’ve worked on over 600 web projects, and the black swan of many web designs and marketing projects is the complexity of the strategies. The strategies have to be simple and easy to follow. If they are not, most business owners will not set aside time to execute them. There are many different marketing strategies to follow, but I believe most are ineffective due to the sheer complexity and time requirements to properly execute them. While the learning curves might be steep, internet marketing has dramatically decreased marketing costs in general. What used to cost $10,000 in the form of direct mail campaigns is in some cases, now free in the form of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and email marketing. I help business owners follow a simple and easy to implement plan to keep their brands top of mind, nurture their networks, and increase their bottom line.