Interview: “The best way to find what works in your field is to look at your main competitors” Director Briefing with Jennifer O’Kane SEO/SEM Manager of Vivere Marketing
Eden Exchange recently interviewed Jennifer O’Kane SEO/SEM Manager of Vivere Marketing. In this Director Briefing, Jennifer discusses her journey with Vivere Marketing, their point of difference in the market and how they are proven at providing their clients with effective SEO and Marketing reach.
Eden Exchange: Thanks for speaking with us, Jennifer. Firstly, can you tell us a bit about the spark that ignited Vivere Marketing? What is your background and experience?
Jennifer O’Kane: The spark that ignited Vivere Marketing was the huge demand for SEO, way back before it was very well-known. Everybody was putting products and services online, but most people didn’t know how to get those products or services in front of the audiences they wanted to attract.
For me personally, the idea started over 12 years ago, when I took my gold jewellery business online. In order to learn more about online marketing, I decided to attend an SEO training course and create a new website for my brand.
Within just a few months, my website was ranked number one on Google for all of my main terms, including “Gold Jewellery.” I was even outranking big market players such as Michael Hill, Gold Mark, Prouds and Angus & Coote.
SEO was very new back then, and it was also much simpler to optimise a website compared to now. This was purely because of the lack of competition and high-quality websites at the time, as well as the fact that Google’s algorithm back then was very simple.
Nonetheless, the fact that I was able to quickly overtake major brands with massive marketing budgets in searches really got me thinking about the importance of SEO and how many websites were simply not SEO-friendly.
From there, I developed a thirst to learn more about SEO, so I created more SEO-friendly websites and continued to read online marketing blogs for inspiration. I optimised websites for free to build up a portfolio and gain more knowledge. Before long, I was getting referral after referral for my services.
That’s where I first discovered my passion for using SEO to get clients in front of the consumer. This later led to PPC marketing, meetings at Google, new employees, growth and a ton of learning as the industry is constantly evolving—which is part of the reason I love it!
Eden Exchange: In simple terms, what does Vivere Marketing do?
Jennifer O’Kane: Simply put, Vivere Marketing increases website visibility through either paid or organic search. The increase in traffic to websites generally translates into more sales and revenue.
For example: we took on a client recently that sells gym equipment. They were already spending heavily on Google Ads, but they weren’t happy with the agency they had been using. We went through the account and reduced spending on marketing that had little or no ROI. We then found gaps in marketing and created new campaigns to fill these gaps. We were given an additional budget to spend on the new campaigns. Within only 3 months, we saw a 62% increase in marketing spend, a 175% increase in revenue and a 70% increase in ROI.
Another example is of an SEO client who owned a cabinet-making business. We worked with the client for 12 months to optimise his website. During that time, he saw a 290% increase in monthly organic traffic. Thanks to our services, he started getting almost 4 times the traffic and enquiries.
In May 2019, a potential client called up some of my previous clients to check on their experience with Vivere Marketing and she told me that he claimed he was so busy with the additional traffic that he was booked up until the end of 2019 and wasn’t taking on any more work.
Eden Exchange: You’ve had quite a lot of experience in marketing and e-commerce. How has this affected your approach in Vivere Marketing?
Jennifer O’Kane: One thing I’ve learnt over the years is that it is important to be an expert in a few areas, rather than trying to be mediocre in all areas. As a result of past experiences in marketing, I now focus on depth versus breadth of knowledge.
Because the online marketing world is fast-paced and constantly evolving, it’s really hard to keep up with the changes if you don’t specialise in certain areas.
Vivere Marketing used to offer everything from web design to Analytics reporting and everything in between. Now we focus solely on PPC, SEO and SMM, which means we offer greater expertise in these specific fields, leading to better service and value to our clients.
Also, I’ve learned to keep a client-first strategy going. I always strive to put my best efforts forward to make sure my clients feel that they are being listened to and that their goals have been satisfied.
This generally also transfers into referrals, which still serve as my main source of business to date.
Eden Exchange:What sets Vivere Marketing apart from its competitors in the industry?
Jennifer O’Kane: For starters, strategy comes from the top level. I’m personally involved in the initial meeting with each client and I help put together a strategy to individually suit each client, rather than letting a client choose from 3 package options.
By being involved from the very first step, I can easily assess a client’s goals, needs and budget and put together a strategy to suit that client’s individual situation, because every business is different.
Another strategy I use is to build plans in stages. So initially we might start with only Google Shopping, then once the client sees ROI, we will increase the budget and start remarketing. Once that is showing ROI, we’ll start text ads, and so on. I find that most clients are happy to spend money on marketing so long as they’re seeing a ROI. If the spending and ROI increase incrementally, it’s not as daunting as starting with a huge budget. Working in stages helps reassure clients that the changes we implement will lead to direct results and clear payoffs.
Another aspect of our company that I believe sets us apart from our competitors is that our team at Vivere Marketing are seriously passionate about what we do. We are always doing whatever it takes to ensure a successful campaign for our clients, going above and beyond to suit their needs. This includes working on holidays when required to turn on and off ads such as Christmas Day, Boxing Day or checking alerts after hours if required.
Our company has a really positive culture that is built on both integrity and innovation. Not only does our team work well with each other, but we also truly enjoy fostering mutually beneficial relationships with a diverse range of businesses. We pride ourselves on building transparent partnerships and developing connections with clients from across the globe.
Eden Exchange: Where do you see the greatest demand for Vivere Marketing? What has the market response been like to date?
Jennifer O’Kane:Currently, we are seeing a huge demand for remarketing and retargeting across the Google display network and social media.
It still surprises me how many businesses are not running a re-marketing campaign, not to mention how many business owners have never even heard of re-marketing.
Have you ever visited a website and then seen ads for that site all over the Internet? That’s retargeting and, as you can imagine, it has the potential to be extremely effective.
With ecommerce sites, I also setup dynamic re-marketing. This is when a particular product a customer has viewed or added to the cart follows the customer around the web. This becomes even more effective if you target cart abandoners. Just think about the number of times you have added something to your cart, but then got distracted and not completed the sale. With dynamic re-marketing, these products follow your customers around the web as a constant reminder to complete the purchase. The conversion rate is phenomenal!
I have also seen a huge growth in the need for SEO support during site migrations or website redesigns. This is mainly where clients are getting a lot of organic traffic and are concerned that traffic will drop once the new site is launched, which happens more than you would think.
Missing something small during a site redesign might seem insignificant, but this can actually result in major traffic and revenue loss, which can last from a few weeks to several months — depending on the extent to which search engine ranking signals have been affected, as well as how long it may take the affected business to rollout a successful recovery plan.
I personally visited the Baby Kingdom site in January 2017 to buy a gift for my friend’s newborn and I soon noticed the site had been accidentally blocked from search engines via a robots.txt file. As a courtesy, I emailed Baby Kingdom with instructions on how to fix the issue. Baby Kingdom advised they had launched a new site a few months beforehand and their developers couldn’t work out why traffic and rankings were dropping so fast.
Once this was fixed, traffic improved right away; however, it still took about 6 months for traffic to completely recover to its original level. This meant there was a significant loss of revenue that could have been prevented, had the error been addressed during the redesign. If you visit Semrush, you can see the major drop and recovery of traffic during this period.
Eden Exchange: Are there any key marketing trends you’ve been noticing that you think business owners or marketing professionals should be watching out for?
Jennifer O’Kane: Voice search has gained increasing mileage because of convenience. It is also faster to retrieve results via voice search. More and more, people are turning to voice searches like the following: ‘OK Google, is it going to rain today?’ Or,‘Hey Siri, what is the closest Italian restaurant to me?’
With the rise of voice search devices such as Google Home, Apple HomePod, Cortana and Alexa, it makes sense that we need to start to consider how these devices will change the way we search.
It is estimated that by 2020, half of searches will be conducted by voice. This is daunting because it also means that half of your potential customers won’t even see your website. Clearly, voice searches are going to become increasingly important over time.
If we are on the cusp of the voice search revolution, then now is an ideal time for business owners and marketing professionals alike to start uncovering ways to optimise voice searches.
For instance, trigger words such as ‘how’ and ‘what’ are important, because they focus on sentences that use a conversational tone.
For example, someone might ask: ‘Hey Siri, how do I bake a chocolate cake?’
‘How’ is actually the most commonly used trigger word, behind ‘what,’ which makes sense when you think about the kinds of questions users are most likely to ask.
Trying to get your content in featured snippets highly increases your chance of coming up for voice search and this is something that businesses need to try and focus on.
Eden Exchange: Can you tell us a bit more about some key achievements and challenges the company has encountered so far? Do you see any potential future challenges?
Jennifer O’Kane: We have had the pleasure of working with some really large brands, such as Krispy Kreme, Bonds, Air New Zealand, Le Tan, Sheridan, House, Cue, Innoxa, Australis and Veronika Maine, among others. Working alongside these national and international names has helped us to grow and learn.
We are also excited to note that we achieved Google Premier Partner status in 2018. If you are not already familiar with Google Partners, a Google Partner badge is granted to agencies that achieve accreditations and demonstrate a high level of experience using AdWords. Meanwhile, Google Premier Partners take that advertising expertise to a whole new level. It is believed that only about 3% of Google Partners worldwide are Premier Partners, and Vivere Marketing is honoured to be recognised among these top-tier digital marketing agencies. To maintain the title, we are required to keep up to date with the latest Google products and qualifications, signifying our commitment to upholding our status as a pioneer in our field. Plus, Premier Partners also receive exclusive training and product updates directly from Google—giving us a gateway to the best resources to help businesses succeed.
The main challenge I have found over the years is when clients make changes to the website that hurt their SEO rankings. Luckily, we can pick this up pretty quickly in the monthly reports that we create, allowing us to identify and rectify the issue before too much damage is done.
I always tell clients to consult me before making any changes, because sometimes it is the changes that seem the least significant that can ultimately have the greatest impact on SEO.
I don’t see any potential future challenges at this stage and I believe as long as you keep educated in the industry and follow best practices there is generally no reason for concern.
Eden Exchange: What is your vision for Vivere Marketing’s future? Where do you see the company in 6 months or a year from now?
Jennifer O’Kane: My vision for Vivere Marketing is to continue to build our emphasis on quality over quantity. I’ve heard in the industry that a lot of agencies take on more work than they can handle, which can severely affect the quality of work and the level of customer satisfaction.
At Vivere Marketing, we never take on clients if we cannot handle the workload. For example, we will stagger the start date of new clients so we can offer the maximum level of commitment to each client.
I think prioritising quality is a really important focal point and also means that we keep stress levels down for staff. I believe this also reflects that we are an ethical and transparent company.
I don’t feel our fundamental vision will change in the next 6-12 months, but in a few years, I imagine we could further specialise our services to create even more value for clients.
Because the industry evolves so quickly, it’s hard to say exactly what that might look like, but I am confident that we will continue to learn and grow as we find ways to stay ahead of the latest developments in the field.
Eden Exchange: What do you love most about your job? What drives you to do what you do?
Jennifer O’Kane: The number 1 thing I love about my job is the feeling I get when I see a client succeed. It’s so exciting to review monthly reports showing really good results. There’s nothing better than having a client come back who is appreciative and truly satisfied with their results.
We get so interested and invested in each company and their products and this definitely drives me to push forward and do the best I can to get them the results they’re hoping for.
Eden Exchange: If there’s anybody out there who is struggling with marketing their business and looking for solutions, what advice would you give to them?
Jennifer O’Kane: If anybody is struggling with marketing their business, I would tell them to stay positive, as there is always a marketing stream to suit all businesses.If you are feeling stuck, you probably just haven’t found the right strategy for your own business yet.
The best way to find what works in your field is to look at your main competitors and mirror what they are doing. If it’s working for them, then there is no reason it won’t work for you, too.
And of course, the Internet is a great source of information and inspiration. Every marketing genius, from Brian Dean to Neil Patel and many, many others, is sharing the answers in their blogs. Exploring their advice is a great place to start!
EdenExchange: Thank you Jennifer, it’s been a pleasure.
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About the Business
Vivere Marketing is proud to announce that we recently achieved Google Premier Partner Status. To maintain the title, we are required to keep up to date with the latest Google products and qualifications, signifying our commitment to being a pioneer in our field. Plus, Premier Partners also receive exclusive training and product updates directly from Google—giving us a gateway to the best resources to help your business succeed. We’re confident in the high quality of our services and we are excited to work more closely than ever before with Google to provide you with the most innovative digital marketing strategies for your business.
Vivere Marketing is based in Cronulla, just 30 minutes from the Sydney CBD. We provide professional SEO services so you can be visible on the first page of Google.