Larry Kim, probably the biggest name in the paid search industry, recently announced that he is leaving WordStream, the PPC software company he founded more than a decade ago, to focus on building a new startup.
From working alone in a makeshift office Larry built up WordStream to where it is today: more than 200 employees spending more than $1 billion in paid advertising for their clients.
Our very own Barrie Smith recently caught up with Larry to ask him a few questions:
What can you tell us about your latest venture, MobileMonkey.com?
Conversions on mobile is broken. Typically, what I see is that an offer that converts at 3% on desktop will convert at 1% on mobile, which is problematic because mobile is more than two-thirds of all web searches and time spent on the internet. My crazy idea is to try to make the mobile traffic convert on par or even better than desktop traffic using new technologies. We’re just starting to build it but you can sign up to be on the beta list.
Why do you feel now is the right time to create a new startup?
What do you think are the biggest hurdles a small company faces when starting out?
Well it varies based on the type of business. In the software business, the costs of creating and promoting a mass-market product are enormous. And if you’re in a competitive niche, it’s a race to be the first to build the best solution. So, my big challenge right now is financing the company to be able to afford investing in the products we hope to bring to market.
If you had only $1,000 to promote your new company, which channel would you choose?
This accurately describes my current situation, going from a company with tens of millions of dollars in operating budget to self-funding a small team of five people on a few thousand dollars a month.
You start by leveraging your organic channels. For example, a blog post on my LinkedIn page generated tens of thousands of views and about two thousand inquiries. I’d also pitch news publications to try to get some coverage. Next, I would probably layer in some remarketing campaigns.
What would your advice be to businesses deciding between going with an in-house marketing team and outsourcing to an agency?
I think there’s a lot of benefit in working with outside agencies to learn about the things you don’t know, if you can afford it. Though at my last company, we handled PPC, SEO etc., internally because we were already OK at this stuff.
Over your years working within the PPC industry, what are the three most common marketing fails you’ve seen?
- Failure to Optimize: Not leveraging all the valuable data provided to you by the PPC marketing platforms to make informed optimizations.
- Lipstick on a Donkey: If you have a 1.5% conversion rate, your goal shouldn’t be to try to get it to a 1.7% conversion rate by doing bid management or other PPC tweaks. If 98.5% of people checking you out are not buying what you’re selling, the market is telling you that your offer stinks, and that you should try changing your offer. The top 10% of PPC marketers have offers that convert at 10% or higher.
- Brand vs. direct response marketing: Search marketing doesn’t create new demand for your products and services, it harvests existing demand in the market – people need to know what they’re searching for before they search for it. So don’t just wait for people to search for your products and services, use display and social ads and other brand advertising channels to create the demand for your product, which you can harvest using conventional search ads, etc.
How do you see the role of the digital marketer changing over the next couple of years?
- SEO is starting to resemble PPC marketing: A diminished focus on keywords and links, and an increased focus on user engagement metrics like CTR, dwell time (bounce rate), and task completion rates (conversion rates). That’s exactly what PPC marketers focus on.
- PPC is becoming more automated: Less about match types and bids and other low-level stuff like that, and more about getting highly engaging ads to the right audiences.
When can we expect to hear more news about your new Mobile Monkey business? And how can we follow your progress?
The best way would be to sign up for updates at my website. That will get you on the super-secret beta list.
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