Eric Sachs joined host Matthew Gonzalez on EntHead to discuss building your client base with digital marketing, and the importance of trust and transparency.
In this 28-minute episode, Eric and Matthew discuss:
- Conversion optimization
- How to strengthen your reputation with transparency and digital presence
- The importance of looking ahead and adapting as fast as your industry
- Prioritizing transparency, responsiveness, and keeping work in-house as a business owner
- Learning from mistakes
The Show Notes
Matthew: Alright, EntHheads, welcome to our next podcast.
Today we feature Eric Sachs. Eric hails from California. He’s founder of Sachs Marketing Group who specializes in SEO and digital marketing. He’s been working at this for a while, so he’s certainly, in my opinion, an authoritarian in the matter, and certainly knows way more than I do. Hopefully he can help you throughout this podcast.
As a reminder hit us up on Facebook.com/enthead, and, of course, visit us on iTunes and give us a rating. Let us know what you like, what you don’t like. That way we can always address and learn to build your trust. With that, Eric, on behalf of all the EntHheads out there, welcome to our podcast.
Eric: Thank you, thank you very much, Matthew, for having me. I appreciate it.
Matthew: So you came as a referral from a fellow colleague now of Mark Chapman, who’s also been featured on enthead. He highly recommended you, which means for our point of view, enthead, we like to feature really authoritarian people who know and have been in the industry for a little while now. For our listeners out there who are looking to jump into SEO or digital marketing in general, we kind of like to feature individuals like yourself. Maybe just tell us a little bit about your Sachs Marketing Group.
Eric: Sure. We are, as you mentioned, a digital marketing firm. We focus primarily on the organic approach to digital marketing – search engine optimization, social media development. We do a ton of web design actually and we never really ever intended to be a web design firm, but it just sort of happened organically. We’ve been around six years. In fact, we’re just coming up on our six-year anniversary. We are in our third office. We’re sort of in a growth expansion mode.
Matthew: So you guys have been expanding now in your third office. That’s a great problem to have. Those listening in, that’s a great sign of growth. We know we target the show for individuals who are roughly in their second, third year and beyond. We’ll certainly get into some of those lessons learned. With those kinds of experiences in your sixth year, you’re on probably your next growth pattern. I think that’s awesome.
Eric: Thank you.
Matthew: Maybe digging down a bit now into the weeds of what you guys do, marketing in various formats in terms of digital marketing. Are there better methods out there to help convert optimization techniques from an SEO perspective?
Eric: The answer is yes. I think when we talk about conversion, really we’re talking not so much as an SEO perspective. SEO, loosely defined is getting a website found and search engines for relevant search queries. When we talk conversions, we’re really talking about what happens after the visitor hits the website.
When we talk conversions, we’re really talking about what happens after the visitor hits the website. There are a multitude of tools that we use. If we find that, for example with one of our clients, we’ve improved their organic reach pretty dramatically. We’ve increased the number of unique visits to their website, and it’s not paying off. Their phone is not ringing, they’re not getting leads, they’re not getting sales, they’re not converting. That typically points to a problem with the website.
There are sort of best practices in web conversion. We look at things like color palette and position of actionable elements on the web page, the path to convert, if it’s too confusing or not intuitive enough. The answer is yes, there are things that can be done, and certainly we can get into those.
Matthew: Okay. Very good. You definitely hit a couple items that we need to think about and that is once you’re out there, it takes a little bit of time. It’s not going to be a big bang solution and may require some adjustments, as with everything. Absolutely, we’ll get into some of those techniques a bit better and we can do that to a degree now.
Digging a little deeper, for someone who is in business, been in business for at least two or three years, and they’re looking to maybe promote their reputation. Even if they’re not in trouble, but they want to get out there and promote their reputation. From an SEO perspective, are there any best of breed efforts that an organization can do so?
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Certainly paying attention to their reputation and specifically negative reviews. Typically, if you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’re probably going to have at least some negative reviews. You can’t please all the people all the time. We look at negative reviews as an opportunity to demonstrate just how much your business cares about its business. Just how much your business cares about its customers, in terms of how you respond to those negative reviews.
Matthew: Yeah, you’re right. You can’t please everybody. You might have some negative reviews, absolutely.
Eric: Just for our [6:25], these best practices that you speak of are really deeply ingrained in our company’s culture. We’re really transparent in what we do.
We don’t hide behind industry secrets, techno-babble that people really don’t understand. We explain to our customers in plain English what we’re doing. An active social media presence I think really goes a long way in terms in communicating with your fan base on social channels. Then reviews, not only always attempting to garner positive reviews, but also again responding to the negative ones is really important.
There are some tools – there are review aggregators that exist that will scrape the web and find reviews on various different platforms like Yelp! and Angie’s List and Google Plus and so forth and then pull them into a feed that you can display on your website to kind of show people what the overall sentiment is on the web about your company without requiring that they go and dig for that.
I think that’s really important.
Matthew: Perfect. I think you gave a lot of good deep tools to use to better kind of maybe optimize increase reputation. A lot of companies don’t do that. They don’t think to even gather reviews, go to all of that.
Eric: Yeah, or they do and I’ve often seen them do it wrong. In other words, you’ve seen the websites where there’s like the review page or the testimonial page and it’s just really done by the web master.
They’re just embedded. I think that today we tend to have very savvy consumers, very sort of web and tech comfortable consumers, and everyone, I believe, sort of takes those reviews with a grain of salt. Unless they’re done on a platform. There are some review platforms – can I say names?
Eric: Like for example, Trust Pilot. Trust Pilot is sort of seen as almost industry standard review platform. The reason why it’s so well trusted is that it’s very difficult to do a fake review on Trust Pilot. They sort of vet out the person who’s posting the review. They look at their IP address. They have them create an account.
You’re pretty assured that if you’re looking at a review on Trust Pilot it’s probably a legitimate review. At least there’s a better chance than not that it’s a legitimate review. Trust Pilot also has a partnership with Google, so ultimately as you build your reputation with Trust Pilot and you increase your score and your number of stars, just like Yelp! is like 0 to 5. Those stars actually show in the search engine result pages. We use Trust Pilot with a lot of our clients. We also use Trust Pilot personally. I just think it’s a great platform. That’s one tool. There are others.
There’s one called Bird Eye, which we use sometimes. Bird Eye is more of an aggregator. Again, it’s a scraper. It finds all the reviews online and aggregates them. With Bird Eye, you as the user have the ability to filter reviews. You could tell Bird Eye’s platform only show the reviews that are 4 stars or better. Conversely, with Trust Pilot, if you get a bad review on Trust Pilot, you can’t hide it. It’s there forever. You have different tools for different things I guess. There are definitely ways to show reviews and show testimonials without simply just typing them into a web page. I think that those sort of fall on deaf ears oftentimes.
Matthew: Quite true. Thanks for those tools. I hadn’t heard some of those, and learned a new industry acronym regarding [10:13]. That’s great. I think we learn more and more every time to get authoritarians like yourself. Awesome job.
Eric: Happy to help.
Matthew: That’s what we’re here for. Kind of looking, based on your experiences, into the present and the future, if someone’s now thinking about building a digital marketing plan, integrating search engine optimization, what should they be thinking about or what trends do you foresee happening in the next 12 months? What do you foresee coming down the pike?
Eric: The SEO space is always changing. Google’s constantly updating and editing algorithms. It’s a very fluid space. Best practices six weeks ago have changed today.
I would say the average typically business owner who’s focused on growing their business that maybe doesn’t have a background in digital marketing or doesn’t have the time to really keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the digital space, should probably look to an outside source to help. That said, as a start-up maybe with a limited marketing budget, there are certainly things that someone could do to help their online presence and efforts that they can implement, that would certainly help.
I think you asked what are some of those sort of best of breed efforts. The reality is every company is a media company these days. No one really goes to the phone book to find what they’re looking for.
Really it comes down to content.
The companies that produce the best content win. It’s not just about long form content. In other words, it’s not necessarily quantity, but rather quality; well-researched topics with data and sources cited. Content that would resonate with your target audience. You should know your target audience well. Know their demographic and know what they’re interested in and what they’d be interested to read and potentially share with their friends and family and share on their social channels. Not just the written word. Video content, audio content. There’s a surge in voice-based searches using Google Assistant, which is build into Google home and Google pixel.
Really, it’s just getting – we live in the information age. People, I believe, tend to gravitate toward people who are authorities in the space. If I’m looking for someone to repair my roof, I want to contact the person who knows the most about roof repair. I’m going to determine that as a consumer by the information that person’s putting out on the web.
Matthew: Absolutely. Appreciate the kind of forecast. We’ve heard that as well. I think you’re right on point with some of the other individuals we’ve had regarding digital marketing, looking at Google ads and Facebook ads and how fast that industry changes and how fluid, like you said, I think that’s the right word you used, just update based on necessity. It is hard to look out 12 months. My background being in the IT space, I can resonate with that loudly. Appreciate that and can definitely relate. Those of you planning out there, just realize as you plan your search engine optimization, digital marketing best practices and strategy, realize that a best practice is to be fluid and change. I think that’s kind of what Eric’s hitting up here.
Switching gears here a little bit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in relation to marketing or digital marketing. As a business owner yourself, over the years or maybe even the present, are there any tools, processes, procedures that you use in business to help you run your business that you’d like to share with listeners? You said man, I wish a few other people knew about this because it’s so cool. Not just cool, but it actually helps my cost bottom line, what have you.
Anything you’d like to recommend?
Eric: Matthew, I think you could have done an entire podcast on this topic.
Matthew: I always do. Actually I do. Every podcast I ask the same question so I think I almost do.
Eric: Not necessarily specific to the digital marketing space but just business in general. We don’t have time for the story about how my business was developed, but just in a nutshell version, is it was an accident. I didn’t intend on building a business. It just sort of happened. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have a model, I didn’t have money, I didn’t have credit, I didn’t have anything. I just started making decisions that I thought made sense to me and put myself in the shoes of the consumer and thought what would I want if I were a consumer.
Some of these processes or procedures just kind of fall into a common sense doctrine I think. Transparency, especially in the digital marketing space, but I think in any business, transparency is huge. There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors, a lot of deception, a lot of consumers that have had bad tastes in their mouths as result of being mistreated in the past. Again, not in the digital space.
Responsiveness I think is huge. One of the main complaints we hear about some of our clients that have come to us from our competitors is just waiting too long to respond. Leaving a voicemail, not hearing back. Sending an email and not getting a response for two days. There’s really no excuse today with how connected and how digital we are to not be Johnny-on-the-Spot in terms of responding to your client’s inquiries or concerns. There are tools that certainly help with that. Email is one, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, certainly text message, SMS. Google Docs is an amazing tool that’s free and it’s one of the main tools we use to allow our clients to kind of look over our shoulders and watch us work. We create a daily workflow spreadsheet and share it with our clients. Because it’s web-based and real time and extremely secure, it’s just an amazing way to take some of that guess work out of it. It goes more toward the transparency we spoke of earlier.
Just kind of doing the right thing. Sort of back to the Golden Rule, and it sounds almost crazy to mentioned, but if someone pays you to do a job, I honestly think you should do the job. Maybe more so in the digital space than perhaps the mechanic. What I’m referring to is not that outsourcing is a horrible way to run a business, and in certain businesses, it makes a lot of sense. When I built this business, I thought if people are going to pay us to do something, we should do it and not send it somewhere else to be done where we have absolutely not control over the quality of work that’s being done.
Then there’s other kind of things that are a little more light. For example, I’m standing at my desk right now. It’s kind of a geek thing, but I have this cool desk that allows me to stand or sit if I want do. In terms in running a business, I found that I was here 10 hours a day and my butt started to hurt after awhile. I got a desk that stands up. Then I’ll go even a little farther out of the realm of perhaps what you thought the answer to this question might be. I ride an Adventure motorcycle. I do a lot of off-road and on-road Adventure type motorcycle riding. It clears my head. It’s throttle therapy. It allows me to kind of clear my head and not get so bogged down with work. To come back and be fresh and be 100% to service our clients.
Really that’s the last thing I’ll say on this topic. Honestly, I tell people the way I developed this business was I took a shower every day, I came to work and I asked myself how can I be of service to my clients. I honestly believe if you believe on that, if you focus on how to serve the client, everything else will fall into place. The money will come, the accolades, the online reputation, everything else will come if you’re truly focused on how can we be of service to our clients. How can we help our clients to grow their business? Or how can we make the best yogurt, or how can we repair the roof the best? Whatever it is, everything else will kind of fall into place.
Matthew: Well said. I think you gave us an extremely well-rounded approach to that question. You gave us some tools, some processes and procedures. I think you’re the first to do all three. That’s awesome. Just recently in a recent podcast, somebody, I think it was Danielle [19:37] answered it probably different. Normally everybody leans on the tools. That’s fine, because we ask it. She gave us more of a process and procedure. You’re the second one to do that as well regarding just how you handle yourself, your business, etc. What I took out of that, and there was a lot, is very much the ethics and transparency in terms of a common theme throughout this discussion. Based on that, we’ll get you out on this. Any final lessons learned in running your business that you’d like to share with the [20:12] listening out there? Anything you think as an authoritarian in your area or even outside your area, any lessons learned you’d like to share?
Eric: Because I didn’t have a plan or a business model to follow; it sort of happened, as I mentioned, organically. I didn’t know a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned from those mistakes. You hear this all the time. People learn from their mistakes and then counsel others to prevent others from making those same mistakes. We had issues along the way, throughout the last six years, that I could have avoided had I maybe consulted with someone. A lot of that also worked to my benefit. Do you have time for a quick story or are we short on time?
Matthew: No, of course, you have all the time that you have to offer.
Eric: It was about two years into the business that I got a call from our merchant provider. This is the merchant company that ran our Visa card, MasterCard, American Express, so forth. He called me and he said Eric, aren’t you an SEO company? I said, yeah, absolutely. He said you’ve never had a chargeback, meaning in those two years we had never had any client dispute a charge. I said I know. Isn’t that great? I was kind of proud of that. He kind of chuckled and he said it’s great. Ironically, I guess he gets paid a little bit on chargebacks so he would have preferred that I have had a couple. He’s like that’s not the point. The point is we have many other SEO companies in our book of business and all of them, without exception, you being the exception, regularly have chargebacks month after month after month. He gave me the numbers. I don’t remember what they were. It was pretty high.
He said in two years you’ve never had one. Why is that? I said I don’t know. I didn’t, but I wanted to find out. I hung up and I started doing some research. I found that there’s sort of a standard approach to business in the digital realm. Certainly not everybody, every digital marketing firm follows this approach, but I’d go out on a limb and say the vast majority sort of do. It’s really just a model based on client acquisition. Whether it’s a call center or a sales team; bring on clients, bring on clients, promise them the world typically. Hey, we’ll do all this great stuff for you in 90 days usually. Then when a client comes onboard, generally the work is going to be outsourced and because the difference in economy, you can charge several thousand dollars a month here in the states for a digital marketing campaign, couple of hundred bucks, pennies on the dollar in another country. The rest is all margin so it’s a very profitable model.
If the client doesn’t get what they were promised in 30, 60, 90-days and they cancel, it’s not a really big deal because you’re just going to replace them with new clients. It’s basically a model that based that’s about a 90-day retention, highly focused on client acquisitions. So it makes sense. They didn’t get what they were promised in 90-days, they get upset, they chargeback, you get negative reviews. Our model was completely different. It wasn’t completely different because I had a good model to follow. Again, it was completely different because I was just doing what I thought made sense. To me, it made sense if people were going to pay me to do a job, that I should do that job. It made sense to me that I could keep clients long-term, I’d be more profitable in the long end. It made sense to me to be of service to the client so that they got really results so they would be really happy with us.
Our model was one with a focus on client retention much, much more than client acquisition. In fact, to this day, we don’t have a sales staff. We don’t have a call center. I literally sit and wait for my phone to ring. It rings off the hook. I know it’s kind of funny that I’m a marketer and I really don’t do much marketing. Through referral business and our organic results online, we get tons and tons of new clients all the time, and we have amazing retention. Our very first client ever, six years ago, is still with us today. Clients stay for years with us. To date, six years in, we’ve never had a credit card chargeback. We’ve never had a dispute with a client.
My competitors would argue that they’re more profitable than I am because they bring on much, much more business on a per month basis than I do. I would argue that I really prefer my model because I’m building long-term mutually beneficial relationships with our clients that are based on relationship. I can’t tell you how many invites to company Christmas parties each year. We’ve really become an integral part of our client’s business. They wouldn’t think to cancel us because they’re getting amazing return as a result of our efforts.
I would say in closing, just in terms of our culture or what a business’s culture should be in my humble opinion; I’m reiterating the focus on how we can help clients, how we can produce the best product, how we can deliver the best service, and really prioritizing the success of your clients over your own success. The rest will just come. It will be easy if you’re focused on the right things.
Matthew: Awesome story. I firmly believe that. I had a very similar business model when I had my businesses. I didn’t have 1000 clients, I had the ones who always mattered to me. Kind of like you, I waited for my phone to ring. Marketing was something I did, but it wasn’t a major push. For those listening out there, it is a business model to potentially adapt and adopt right here coming from a marketer himself and the way he runs his company.
Eric, we really appreciate your time. This has all been super knowledgeable for myself and I’m sure everyone out there listening in. We know this is going to provide great value once this gets downloaded and people listen in and take action.
Eric: You’re so welcome, and thank you again for the opportunity. I’m really honored to have been selected for this and again, thank you.
Matthew: We’re honored as well. Thank you. Alright Eric, before we get you out, let everybody know how they can get a hold of you best.
Eric: Sure. They obviously can come to our website, which is sachsmarketingroup.com, and the last name is S-A-C-H-S. Again, sachsmarketinggroup.com. You can call the office if you’d like. Our number is 818-889-3232. You can follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or any available social media channel, certainly LinkedIn. We also have a toll-free number if you’d like, 866-992-3742. I think if you just go to the website, you’ll find all the different ways to contact us.