About Me

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I'm a digital marketer, programmer and entrepreneur based in Dexter, MI.  I've worked in the digital marketing and web development field for close to a decade.  Over the course of my career, I've become adept at areas of digital marketing such as programmatic advertising, SEO, email marketing, inbound marketing,  promoting businesses through social media.


I currently serve as Director of Marketing for Rankings.io, an SEO agency based in Southern Illinois.  We help attorneys, medical professionals, and small businesses rank their websites on the first page of Google.  Our core services include onsite and offsite SEO as well as website design and programming.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Overall Donation Campaign CTR Still Growing

Day four of the donation campaign re-organization and the ads continue to climb in CTR. We now have two ads performing at above a 1% CTR. The third ad in the group appears to be a slow starter and may need to be paused in the next couple days. Two out of Three isn't bad though!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Donation Campaign Is Optimized!

After revamping the donation ad campaigns by adding more highly targeted keywords to our persona (caring), we have achieved success! Out of three ads in the group, one is starting to show some promise with a 2.44% CTR after only one day!

The caring persona has trigger words such as “guaranteed”, “Reviews”, “dependable” and “recommended by”. This type of person needs a lot of guidance in making a decision in terms of the quantitative data. They also need a lot of other people to have tried something before they themselves feel comfortable in doing so. The call to action in the ad instead of literally telling the persona to act, was designed more to help them act by saying we will show you how.

Another ad in the group has developed a .79% CTR which is ok for a little over 24 hours running so hopefully it picks up a little. The third ad has no activity as of yet but hopefully the attempts at optimization will help this one along as well. At any rate I am glad we are heading in the right direction with this new campaign. Our next steps (although not a part of class requirements) will be to develop an alternate landing page for Dream Catchers to look at. Hopefully they might allow me to link it to the new and well performing campaign in order to do some A/B testing or goal analysis.

Screen shots of the new campaign can be seen in the slide show below.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Toys For Abused Children Campaign Idea And Indirect SEO For Dream Catcher's

I have an interesting donation campaign idea that I ran by the CEO of our NPO today. In the beginning of our work, I asked our sponsor about where the majority of donations were going that came from the site. She told me that some went for promotional material and other parts of them went to purchase gifts for abused children at the holidays.

I was on Google Adwords using the keyword tool trying to find out what terms people are using when they want to donate to a cause. Not Surprisingly there are thousands of global and monthly searches for things like “donations for children, “needy children”, “toy donations”, and “help abused children”. While some of these searchers may have the intent of helping poverty stricken or less fortunate children, those and abused children may often fall into the same category. Something tells me that a caring persona, after seeing some of the sad faces at the DreamCatcher’s sight, might not care what type of situation a child is in as long as they need help.

The other part of this campaign working relies heavily on the landing page at DreamCatcher’s . People that donate online want the process to be quick and they want to know where the money is going. This is in part due to the fact that they cannot actually talk to a real person before entering their credit card info or Paypal email. Even though donation amounts on the web are typically smaller people remain reluctant to give if they don’t see how their money is helping.

On another note, I’m hoping to use some SEO tactics to some better organic results for DreamCatcher’s . By including a large number of relevant backlinks such as DreamCatcher’s and child abuse as well as the words linked above to the NPO’s donation landing page, the Dream Catcher's site will be pushed higher in organic results.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Intrigue Of Facebook IPO

The much anticipated Facebook IPO is coming, some say as soon as next year. Valuations for the company have been flying around like excited children at a birthday party. 50 billion, 85 billion and now over 100 billion. It reminds me of the rocket-like rise of Google stock about 6 or 7 years ago. Shares of the search giant rose to over 400 dollars before the SEC intervened. Could Facebook have a similar road to glory? Here is an article in USA today with more about it. I think I'll be buying some and holding it at least for a little while when it becomes available.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Canadian, The Farmer And The Double Murderer

Acting on one of good web marketing strategies I heard in my class meeting earlier this evening, I decided to Google my name to see how many search results I could occupy. I have been working over the past month or so on developing a solid web presence. For instance this blog and many other profiles that I have created and linked together work to make up my web presence. I searched for myself expecting to see at least a few of those accounts pop up. I was sorely disappointed at what I was presented with instead.

The first result is that of 20 year old Matt Laurin of Missouri convicted for the double murder of an elderly couple. The top result was how he was found in his jail cell recently after committing suicide. So the first three results are dominated with this content portraying my name. I figure, “oh well, maybe the next result is about me that a potential employer would be able to see”. It is a link for Matt Laurin on a Facebook account. Not the first thing I would want a headhunter to view but at least near the top of search results. Nope. It’s some guy named Matt Laurin from Canada with a bad tattoo and a very unflattering profile image. As if it couldn’t get any worse I continue to scroll. Next is a LinkedIn profile and I think, “yes! now they will see me.” Wrong again. Turns out there is another Matt Laurin on LinkedIn who is an “Independent farmer” in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

What has all this taught me? If you are going to be successful in web marketing it will definitely pay off to be visible on a dozen or more platforms so you can push out all the other noise. Otherwise you might be mistaken for a Canadian Farmer convicted of a double murder and found dead in his jail cell. Embedding keywords in your blog for all the other content that gets displayed with your name before you in search results will also help you rank higher.

Inspiring Talk With Real Life Web Marketing Professionals

Just experienced a very inspiring talk in our web marketing practicum class from some marketing professionals. Angelina Vergari and Chad Wiebesick gave very insightful presentations to the class. One of the best ideas I heard was from Chad when talking about “claiming your profile”. He explained that he used a newer site called About.me to combine all of his social media and other related accounts into one place so that interested parties searching for him could learn about who he is.

The best part about the strategy of having a profile on so many different sites is that when someone searches for your name, you will be all over the first and probably the second page of search results no matter what search engine the user plugs your name into. Brilliant! I’m definitely going to investigate that one. I also liked the tip about embedding keywords into your linked in profile based on the companies that you want to find you. In my case and most people in the course, we want to get involved with web marketing in some fashion or another. Chad explains that by embedding keywords such as “search engine marketing”, “SEM”, “SEO”, and other related words, your profile will pop up first or near the top of search results.

The best part of Angelina’s presentation was her explanation of how she transitioned into consulting work from the course. I thought that her comments about the natural progression from working with EMU and Google sponsored non-profit’s to working with “real life” clients was re-assuring. I myself am beginning to contact persons outside the classroom concerning web marketing consulting related work and I thought this helped in easing my anxiety about working with these individuals.

Overall I thought these were some of the best talks we had in Dr. Gibson’s classes. I got some really good ideas for how I want to develop my web presence.

Week 7 Dream Catchers For Abused Children Presentation

This week we are focusing on the products and services offered by the NPO, the ad groups associated with those products and services as well as their performance. The donation campaigns are still struggling and we plan to address these issues this week to get the ad group performing well.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not Too Little Too Late...Hopefully



Finally there may be a Facebook app released and optimized for the iPad. I know I’m not alone when I got an iPad and realized that the interface on the Facebook app was really grainy and out of focus. That’s because it was never meant to be used on the iPad’s huge screen. Now over a year since the iPad was first released there is an app about to be released for it.

Chat and Groups features in the original Facebook application have been re-done and Facebook has been targeting Apple mobile device users in its design plans. I for one cannot wait to see it solely so I don’t have to look at those grainy images any more. An article on CNET News explains more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Quest For Donation Dollars

Optimizing our donation campaign for Dream Catchers is proving to be a little more challenging than originally anticipated. After doing some research it seems that there are common characteristics of donors on the web from which information can be gleaned to build a more effective marketing campaign.

• Most donors on the web give small amounts.

Could be anywhere from one dollar to 20 but always less than 100.
Larger donors are looking to make a personal connection and make sure they get their tax receipt.

Donors on the web are motivated by an urgent need for action.

• The funnel must facilitate ease and convenience.

Donors on the web want the process to be fast or they will exit before completing a donation.

Convenience is essential for success; too many steps in the funnel will cause users to exit.

The ability to react quickly to some urgent need to donate meaning clear communication from the non-profit that online donations are accepted as well as an easy and convenient method to do so.

Multiple donation methods. Sites that can only accept credit cards will probably be fine but adding an ancillary method such as through Paypal or Western Union may help increase the opportunity for people to donate. On the other hand only having Paypal as a method excludes people who do not have a Paypal account.


Miscellaneous statistics from the Kintera Luth Non-Profit Trend Report. The publication is a bit old (from 2005) but is sheds light on some very interesting quantitative data about online giving habits of consumers. The trend report is a project undertaken by Kintera, Inc. (NASDAQ :KNTA) and Luth Research which is an online market research firm.

• More than 8.6 million U.S. households donated over $3 billion
online in 2004.

• More than 8.6 million U.S. households donated over $3 billion
online in 2004.

• On average, online givers donate in total (both online and
offline) more than 50% more than those donors who do not
give online. (perhaps because of the convenience).

• More than 75% of donors who go online before making a
donation noted that going online made some impact on
their decision whether or not to give, and more than 25%
said the impact was significant.

This last stat is very interesting because if an NPO’s site does not look reputable, that could kill the entire start of the donation funnel before it ever begins. Non-profits that are driving traffic to their sites via PPC advertising are wasting funds if the site itself is not user friendly and professional. Regardless of whether the NPO is legitimate or not, if visitors do not feel confident they will exit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mile stone 1 presentation for the Web Marketing Practicum

A little late but here is the team's latest attempt at developing personas for the Dream Catcher's web site.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Google AdSense And LogBud.com

In my spare time I have been working for an online content provider known as The Content Authority. They charge clients for content that can be placed for article marketing and SEO purposes. To date I have written thousands of article for them at an average of a few hundred words a piece on any number of different topics.

I have recently signed up for a Google Adsense account and I am checking out a site called LogBud.com where I will essentially be doing the same thing except that I can embed the Adsense code so ads will appear that are relevant to the content I produce. This will be one of my first experiences with Adsense so it will be interesting to see if I can start generating some passive income. I could also monetize this blog as well if I can start driving traffic to it in some way.

Its pretty easy to get started with AdSense. You just visit the AdSense home page and sign up for an account. The application is one page and they will let you know in a few days to a week if you are approved. Then you go through their set-up process to start posting ads on your website. Of course you have to have a website in order to post ads however a blog such as this one will suffice or a service such as LogBud that requires an AdSense account to participate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

LinkedIn Is Growing On Me

I used to share my web marketing instructor's sentiments about the popular professional networking site LinkedIn. Few people I knew used it and it seemed like every time I was on the site it was trying to get me to sign up for all these useful yet costly features. The entire point of the site is to network and perhaps find a new job but how often are we career seeking.

So now my opinion has changed because some of the features on the site are pretty cool. The one I like the best and not because its free is the feature that shows you who has been viewing your profile. It is not a teaser either like the silly Facebook questions and answers that pop up and say "someone thinks you're cute!" as you anxiously click on it to find out who it is only to be disappointed at the fact that its your buddy trying to click on enough questions to earn coins to unlock answers about himself. The feature on LinkedIn shows you either a user from an organization for example someone from the Chrysler Corp or a specific profile that has looked at your profile.

I also like that you can link the profile to another web page which makes it nice for sending resumes or links in an email to potential employers instead of a resume. I have only done this once though and I'm not sure if anyone that I sent it to actually looked at my profile.

I have also just downloaded the LinkedIn app for iPhone. It has a neat feature that lets you connect with other users accounts if you are in-person with them simply by putting your phones close enough together. The native API is also nice. I hate when apps just use the safari browser built into an Apple device. The only drawback with the in-person connection feature is that you need a bluetooth connection to make it work. Make it work over WIFI and that would be much better if not on 3G. I also like that you can easily change to one of several different color themes on the app. If you are into the LinkedIn site the app is pretty good if you have an Apple device.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Apple Introduces iCloud

Well it was an inkling in the air and now it is here, Apple's version of cloud based computing appropriately termed iCloud. What else would it be called. The service was unveiled in the wake of the dismantling of the mobile me system that charged users 99 dollars and really wasn't all that great. One notable feature of the new and free iCloud service is that users can sync content across devices automatically. This means that when you download a song it appears not only on the device you downloaded it to but all the other Apple gadgets you own. Apple is known for seamless integration among applications within its devices such as a phone number that can be tapped within the maps application to initiate a phone call. Now that integrative genius is available outside devices. This article in USA Today gives the details of the new service.

Donation Campaigns Don't Work...Maybe

Although we are going to push forward with attempting to increase donations for our NPO, there are a lot of reasons why donation campaigns do not work in Adwords. The main reason is the demeanor of a typical searcher when they go to enter queries into a search engine. This person is typically focused on themselves whether they are looking for a phone number or information on how to write a resume. Most searchers are in a selfish state of mind and are not looking specifically to donate money to a non-profit. That is not to say that people aren't searching for exactly this purpose however these individuals are few and far between.

Our best bet at this point for increasing donations for Dream Catchers will possibly lay in searchers looking for info on reporting child abuse. This happens to be the fourth or fifth most successful ad group in the NPO's campaign. The reason this may be a good place to start is because the searcher is already starting out in a non-selfish place i.e. they are looking for info in order to help someone other than themselves.

Increasing Donations For Dream Catchers

One of the micro goals expressed to us by our NPO is that they would like to increase donations. I’m sure this initiative is in the back of the minds of most NPO managers and our next pet project is to design an ad campaign in Google Adwords to draw in donations for the non-profit. Besides creating a three line text ad (or a few) for the campaign, we need to decide on a good landing page for potential donors to arrive at. The donation page seems to have the best chance of getting the first micro conversion to happen i.e. getting the visitor to click on the “donate” button. There are some usability obstacles to overcome with the site that we may not be able to change right away but we will do our best to work around those road blocks. If we were able to redesign this page to remove some of the clutter and assist visitors in making a donation we believe overall conversions for donations would be much more successful.

Alternate Causes Of High Bounce Rates

After doing some investigating there could be other reasons why the bounce rates are so high for Dream Catchers For Abused Children. In the past 30 days bounce rates are hovering in the 70% range which is not so good. There are other reasons why a bounce rate can be high including the fact that tracking code could be installed incorrectly. Obviously it is impossible to go through the NPO’s server searching HTML documents related to the website that may have Google code installed on them. Luckily there is a scan tool that will do it for you.

Scans are completed on a first submitted first scanned basis so you may have to wait anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days for results to come in. You can check the status of your scan including how many websites are in the queue ahead of yours. Another drawback is that this service only scans the first 100 pages of the site and it is not clear as to whether or not it scans only relevant pages or if it is scanning the first 100 documents loaded onto the server. This could include JS, CSS, PHP and other files that do not characteristically have Google code installed.

So this is a way to determine if your bounce rate is in fact being caused by something else other than the layout of the site. Of course if your NPO's site is obviously plagued with usability and design issues, there is a good chance that this is the cause of a high bounce rate.

Time On Site

Time on site is calculated by Google as the time spent between the first page view and the last page view on a site. For the average time on site, Google takes the average time between page views divided by the number of “qualified” visitors or visitors who did not bounce or exit after viewing one page on the site. Reasons why time on site will always or most of the time be zero are because a site only has one page or only one page is tagged with Google tracking code. This may seem silly however a blog may commonly only be seen in one page view and if an analytics user doesn’t realize that tagging only one page will lead to a zero time on site value until more pages are tagged. Note that the page a visitor travels to within the site must also be tagged with Google tracking code or a zero time on site value will be logged.

Persona Of A Dream Catcher's Visitor

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What Do Dream Catchers Visitors Do?

To truly determine if the Dream Catchers website is doing a good job at serving the personas that visit, we first have to determine what type of site it is. As we found out from our NPO rep, the site provides free educational and news based content to visitors. No subscription for the content is involved and it is not entirely clear how the site generates revenue although there are donate buttons throughout the different pages. There is even a "subscription" donate button where visitors can elect to sign up for recurring monthly donations. Dream Catchers does not fit perfectly but by all accounts it is a content based site so we can approach conversion optimization from that standpoint.

Because it is a content based site with news articles and facts sprinkled in no particular order or system, it may be difficult to track conversions or decided what a conversion actually is. At this point we could potentially focus on increasing donations as mentioned by our NPO rep. This would be a great way to increase revenue for the site as well as be relatively easy to track as far as micro and macro conversions are concerned.

Macro Conversion

-A Successful donation

Micro Conversions

-Entering an amount to donate
-Clicking the donate button

We will also have to further examine the funnel for donations. Once the donate button is clicked, users are taken to another page (off of the dream catcher site) to the Paypal site to enter either credit card information or their Paypal log in credentials. The button under credit card info says "review donations and continue" where as the Paypal login gives no inclination as to whether a donation will be deducted from the visitors account or if there will be another step in the process.

Dream Catchers For Abused Children Visitor Personas

The persona of a typical Dream Catchers For Abused Children Visitor is taking shape. After looking over the analytics data, some observations can be drawn out about what type of person is coming to the site. We know from our NPO representative that the site is geared toward providing information and awareness of child abuse. They do this by providing statistical information as well as news stories about abuse and neglect of children.

The most successful ad campaign is that of "child abuse statistics" which suggests that there are many people coming to the site for factual numerical data. Perhaps students, researchers or others interested in information of that nature. The majority of visits over the past 30 days (May 5 to June 5, 2011) are from the United States (Over 35,000 visits) and from people speaking U.S. English.

Most visitors (over 34,000) arrived via the Google search engine (paid and non-paid). The bounce rate for this time period is 79.57% suggesting that users are not seeing information on the landing page relevant to their search queries or keywords.

Looking at paid search results, 10,946 visits occurred in the time period May 5 to June 5, 2011 and the bounce rate was 61.41%. Looking at the landing page for the NPO shows that almost no information relevant to ad text or search queries can be found concerning the ad entitled “Child Abuse Statistics”. Users are looking for numerical data and/or factual information concerning child abuse as a whole and are not being given this information. The child abuse statistics ad groups are the most popular in terms of clicks (4,000+ in the past 30 days) suggesting that the most frequent visitors to the Dream Catcher’s site are persons looking for this numerical information for research or reporting purposes.

The next most popular ad is that of “child abuse stories” (3,000+ clicks in the past 30 days). The persona of visitors who click on these ads seems to be similar to that of the statistics campaign however content may be more relevant. The bounce rate for the news and headlines landing page that is connected to the ad is lower at 59.49% for the last 30 days. Still too high but perhaps suggesting that content is more relevant to user queries.

Purchasing Keywords?

I'm not sure I understand the activity of "purchasing" keywords for advertising in Adwords. In the past when class members have managed Adwords accounts for non-profits, we simply entered relevant keywords and keyword phrases that we thought users would search for. It appeared more like the keywords were what drove traffic to the text ad that was created. Only when users click on the ad was the account for the non-profit charged for the click. Is purchasing a keyword something different all together or are Adwords users in effect paying for the keyword as well when the ad is clicked on? It seems like it would not make much sense to pay for a keyword when it could be used in Adwords to drive traffic to your site.

Are Double Digit Conversion Rates Always Necessary?

Conversion Optimization is a very intriguing text. Its amazing that some well known companies such as QVC and ProFlowers.com can achieve double digit conversion rates that are 10 times higher than their respective industry averages. The author gives reasons such as the fact that selling online is cheap, that conversion optimization is mystical or hard to understand and conversion data is difficult to track for why companies do not achieve good numbers. He claims that the question is not IF these numbers can be achieved but IF companies are willing to do what it takes to get there. My question is, is conversion optimization at any cost necessary considering other components of the business. Does a company really need to achieve double digit conversion rates if it will cost them thousands or even hundreds of thousands in web development, testing and advertising costs? What if there are other components to the business that are generating significant profits and a website is merely icing on the cake? What if the purpose of an organization's website is to educate, inform or otherwise disseminate information? Tracking conversions here are still necessary and a good conversion rate is desirable to know that individuals are using information presented to them or getting the most out of the site yet focusing a great amount of resources to get huge numbers for a site like this doesn't make sense. For instance it may not be the best goal to try and achieve double digit conversion rates for a non-profit that is providing information and education as opposed to an eCommerce based website that is focused on revenue and sales.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My First LA2M Event

I am currently sitting at my first LA2M event @ Connor O’neils in Ann Arbor. I’ll have to say that I’m surprised at the organization and accommodation the event provides. I was half expecting to show up and find a bunch of business professionals huddled around some pushed-together tables. Quite the contrary as an entire room is dedicated to the weekly event along with free WIFI and our own dedicated waitress. WOW! I’m definitely making plans to attend this event weekly. Our fearless leader Bud Gibson is also in attendance.

The presentation is about to begin. On the schedule for this week is Word Press vs Drupal and Facebook Optimization.

Each presenter is going over the benefits of using each of the different platforms for building websites. Depending on what you are doing there are pros and cons for each. One notable feature of Wordpress for example is the built in analytical feature that allows users to track visitor behavior to their websites. Tracking page views for example can be a very useful tool for knowing more about the traffic on your site.

Another difference between Wordpress and Drupal are how the platforms can be accessed by users. Wordpress for instance has versions of the software that can be downloaded to a machine so that features can be used whether there is an internet connection or not. Drupal on the other hand leaves users to rely on a third party platform to be accessible as well as an internet connection to be present.

On another note there are a handful of business owners in attendance that are looking for ideas and/or human resources to design and build a website. It is very interesting the type of people that attend this event. I seems like there is a melting pot of different professionals, students, writers, and business owners all coming together to talk about marketing on the web.