Interview With Our Director of Search Marketing, Ray St. Amand

A photograph of Sperling Interactive's director of search marketing, Ray St. Amand using a laptop.
Managing digital marketing campaigns is no easy task what with SEO and social media algorithms constantly changing, and we are so grateful to have our director of search marketing, Ray St. Amand, on staff. Ray manages all aspects of our pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing, and SEO efforts and oversees four digital marketers. He always make it point to educate himself so our team can stay ahead of the curve. Today we decided to sit down and interview Ray about his role at Sperling Interactive, how he develops marketing strategies, and his personal interests.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Salem, Massachusetts but grew up in Beverly, Massachusetts.

What does your day-to-day life look like as the director of search marketing for Sperling Interactive? 

My day-to-day is always evolving. One day I could be focusing on a new campaign launch for a client while the next day I could be having client calls and meetings throughout the day. Guiding and mentoring my team is always my top priority as well. Each day is different which makes me love my role.

What is your favorite part about search engine marketing? 

I personally love conducting website audits and finding new ways to improve the sites’ functionality and user experience. I also enjoy developing content plans. There is just something calming and satisfying about clicking through every page of a website and thinking as a user would.  

Digital marketing is one industry that changes all the time. How do you keep up and continue learning? 

I am always reading new articles, subscribing to weekly newsletters from popular marketing blogs like Search Engine Land and Neil Patel. From there, I take the things I’ve learned and put them into action while testing my own creative ideas at the same time.

What do you wish people knew about search engine marketing? 

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, a search engine marketing strategy takes time to progress. It isn’t like flipping a switch and being flooded with leads and results. It takes time to mold our strategy, analyze the data, and make adjustments when necessary. 

What’s your favorite thing about Salem? 

The beautiful history of architecture. I love walking around some of the old neighborhoods and imagining what it looked like hundreds of years ago. My favorite area is the Wharf area and Derby Street. I lived off of Derby Street for three years and loved how the Willows, the Commons, the waterfront, and Downtown area so close in proximity.

What is something no one knows about you? 

That’s a tough one. I’d have to say my passion for cars. My father was a mechanic in Salem back in the 70’s and 80’s and growing up we’d always work on the family cars together (mostly me handing him tools and finding the bolts and nuts that fell in tight places).

You can learn more about our awesome staff here,here, and here

The Benefits of Retargeting For Your Business

An iMac computer opened up to Google Analytics.
Retargeting is a marketing tactic we do for a lot of our clients here at Sperling Interactive. We have found it to be a powerful way to get the word out about our awesome clients. As a result, today we wanted to explain what retargeting is and the benefits of retargeting for your business.

What is retargeting?

There are a number of reasons why people who visited your website don’t buy from you or reach out to you.  It could because they’re comparing prices, browsing and doing their initial research, or they got distracted. First impressions are important but they can also be forgotten about. That’s where retargeting comes into play.

Retargeting involves targeting individuals who have shown initial interest in your product or service. They went to your website, but left without completing any action (i.e. filling out a form, purchasing a product, registering for an event, etc.) Retargeting tries to get people who have repeatedly visited your site to convert.

Retargeting vs. remarketing

These two terms may sound the same but they are actually different. Remarketing is the term used to describe re-engaging prospects with email. An example of remarketing is a company sending a person an email to remind they have abandoned their shopping cart.  Another example is when a company sends you an email after you bought a product with products similar to the one you bought as a way to engage you with their company again. Retargeting, on the other hand, entails display advertisements. It’s the ads you see as you explore other websites while crawling the web. This blog post of ours dives deeper into how retargeting works. 

The Benefits of Retargeting

More sales

This is certainly a goal for every business doing retargeting. Whether or not your business has an online store, getting sales should be your website’s ultimate goal.

Attracts prospects

The people you retarget showed initial interest in your offerings. Retargeting is a way to nudge them. As we noted before, there are various reasons people don’t return to your website. Retargeting is a way to remind them about you.

It increases users’ time spent on your website

When you are using retargeting, you are reconnecting with prospects and this leads to users spending more time on a website.

It increases brand awareness

Only 2% of web users make a purchase on their very first visit to an online store and about 96% of all website visitors visit websites when they are not ready to buy. Studies have shown it takes most customers seven interactions with a brand before they build trust and buy from it. Retargeting allows your brand to have more interactions with your prospects. It helps people remember your logo, products or services, and slogan.

There are multiple ways to retarget people

Website visitors can be targeted through either pixel-based retargeting or list-based retargeting. Pixel-based retargeting reaches anonymous website visitors and list-based retargeting reaches contacts in a database. 

Pixel-based targeting is powered by browser cookie technology. The website has a bit of code that is invisible to users. Each time a new visitor comes to your website, the code embeds a cookie onto the visitor’s browser. When the visitor leaves the site, the cookie will track future web traffic. 

List-based targeting is usually used on social media platforms and allows you to retarget people in your business social media database. The advantage of listed based targeting is your ads can be highly customizable given the knowledge you have of the contacts. 

You can also target specific audiences with retargeting. You can target people based on their interests and demographic. You can target warm leads such as site visitors who abandoned their shopping cart.

As you can see there are many ways to target prospects and there are many benefits to it. To learn more about retargeting and how it can help your business, call us at (978) 304-1730. We’d be happy to have a complimentary call with you.

Website Launch: Premier Bride

The homepage of premierbride.com.

Anyone who’s planned a wedding before knows the process can be overwhelming. With so many vendors to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin and where’s the best place to find them. If you’re in the same boat or know someone who’s getting married, direct them to Premier Bride, one of our latest websites! Bringing couples and wedding vendors together is what Premier Bride does best. 

Premier Bride is an award-winning publishing and marketing venue that helps couples plan their wedding locally. They are a company that operates with both the engaged couple and wedding service providers in mind. They offer real time wedding information, helpful tips, photo galleries, and quality wedding services. 

We started working with Premier Bride at the beginning of this year. The main goal with this website was capturing couples who are planning their wedding. Premier Bride wanted engaged couples to use their site throughout the whole process of them planning their big day. One of the problems with their old site is users would get stuck in circles when they were trying to find vendors. The navigation wasn’t clean, and as a result, it left users confused. Additionally, Premier Bride wanted to make sure vendors knew couples are using their site as an active source. 

Premier Bride’s Old Site

Here’s what Premier Bride’s old site looked like.

The homepage on Premier Bride's last website.

Premier Bride’s old homepage.

The drop down menu that would appear when you would look for your wedding location on the old site.

Here’s the drop down menu that would appear when you would look for your wedding location on the old site.

The old homepage for Premier Bride Boston.

The former page for Premier Bride Boston. You would look for vendors in your area by utilizing the left sidebar. 

Premier Bride’s New Navigation

The homepage of premierbride.com.

Premier Bride’s new homepage. 

We wanted to keep the homepage simple since Premier Bride is a multi-site website. There is a site for each Premier Bride location under one WordPress installation. Users go to the location that most applies to them. 

The homepage for Premier Bride’s Boston site.

The mega menu for Premier Bride's new website.

We decided to keep the navigation simple too. Local Wedding Vendors and Advice  Planning is the only place where users get a drop down menu. Users can also use the search bar to find vendors that best match their wedding vision.

The wedding ceremonies and chapel page of Premier Bride.

The Boston Ceremony Sites & Chapels web page. Users scroll down to view all the venues in the Boston area. Users also have the ability to enter their zip code or filter A-Z.

A New Aesthetic 

Phil Condon, the developer for this project, explains “we had to develop one market theme that all of the sites share. Because WordPress (the content management platform we used to build the site) can pull dynamic content, it makes each site unique. Each site uses a database that pulls the content onto the pages.” 

“Premier Bride wanted a traditional wedding feel with a modern design. They wanted a design that would make them stand out from other wedding planners,” described designer, Jose Gonzalez. To capture this, Jose decided to let the photos of couples getting married and the cursive font in the heading tags do much of the story telling.

“I think it’s cool each site has the same bones, but they can all be tweaked to be their own unique site. Every site offers a new user experience,” said Lauren Termini, one of the project managers.  

Optimizing For Search Engines

Every site at Sperling Interactive is optimized for search engines. Our search engine marketing director, Ray St. Amand, stated the key for this multi-site was including locations in the meta titles. A meta title is the name of a web page. The title is displayed in the browser and visitors and search engines read it. A mistake to avoid when creating a meta title is any keywords that are too vague. Adding the city or region into the meta titles for each Premier Bride site was important as it helps couples planning their weddings in that location find Premier Bride. 

The catering page on Premier Bride's website.

Boston Catering-Beverage is the meta title for this page. 

To show Premier Bride’s effectiveness to wedding service providers, Ray put UTM codes on the vendors’ links. A UTM code is code added to the end of a URL that tracks the performance of a campaign. Through a UTM code, a vendor can see who came to their site via Premier Bride. 

After building the websites for several event venues like the Hawthorne Hotel, Danversport Yacht Club, and Publick House Historic Inn it was fun creating the website for the ultimate wedding planner. It was a large project for sure, but one we were up for the challenge of!   

To learn about other websites we launched this year, check out here and here.

Marketing Tips For Home Service Businesses

A modern kitchen.

We’ve done blog posts before where we gave away our top marketing tips for some of the main industries we serve- schools and travel and tourism. Today we wanted to write a blog post for another industry we do a lot of work with- home service businesses- and how companies in that industry can better market themselves. 

Get Your Home Service Business Featured In A Magazine 

We may live in a digital world, but print is not dead. Many homeowners get inspiration for their homes in home magazines be it the publication’s website or a hard copy of their latest issue.

There are a ton of home and garden magazines out there, and while it can be tempting to go with the national, household name magazine, there are also popular online magazines, regional magazines, and blogs that may be interested in displaying your work and whom can help build traction for your home service business. 

When it comes to pitching, we advise doing one pitch at a time. You want to wow the editor with a customized pitch. The worst thing for editors are pitches that feel automated and impersonal. You should deliver your pitch via email as most editors don’t like cold calls. Make the pitch short and to the point. Another thing you’ll want to attach to your pitch is high resolution photos of the project. 

To increase your visibility to the publication’s editor, keep your website up to date with fresh content. You want to make your home service business look like it’s in business and popular.   

Have A Pinterest Account 

Speaking of places homeowners like to get inspiration, Pinterest is another fantastic outlet for home services businesses, particularly interior designers, architects, and construction companies. Use your Pinterest account to showcase your own projects as well as outside projects that your business could either replicate or your target audience would be into. When it comes to content on your website, don’t forget pins. A pin is any image or video that someone chooses to save to Pinterest. We advise all of the photos on your blog posts should have pins. 

Blog

Just like print isn’t dead, neither is blogging. Blogging prevents your website from looking stale and it impacts SEO. Every blog post you write is a chance to rank for certain keywords that are relevant to your home service business. You will want to put your keywords in the post’s title tag, meta description, heading tags, and the content. 

Location Focused Keywords

An important thing to note is that most home service businesses tend to service a particular area. If that’s the case for your home service business, you might want to have the region or town/ cities you service in your keywords. 

Create Content Around Design Trends 

Talking about design trends on social media and in your blog posts is an excellent way to show your up-to-date and know all the trends. This is a great idea for architects, interior designers, and remodelers/contractors.

Instagram

Instagram is the most visual social media platform and is a must for home service businesses. Like home magazines and Pinterest, home owners love getting inspiration from this source. You can post photos of projects as well as create mood boards.

360° Virtual Tours

As we blogged about earlier this year, VR experiences are on the rise. Nothing will wow prospectives more than the ability to feel like they have stepped inside foot one of your projects.

Give A Sneak Peak At Projects In The Works

Utilize social media to give followers a sneak peak of projects in the works. People will like being along for the ride, and it’ll give you a chance to show prospects your creative process. 

Invest In Job Signs

This traditional marketing outlet never goes out of style. If you’re a home service business whose work appear on the outside of a house,  a sign outside is a great way to get people who pass by and are impressed with your work the chance to contact you. 

Do A Newsletter

An alternate way to get people to know about your home service business and work is newsletters. You can use newsletters to spotlight projects, share blog posts, and feature testimonials. 

At Sperling Interactive, we have worked with an array of home service businesses. We’d be happy to consult with you over the marketing strategy for your home service business at (978) 304-1730.