Search Engine Journal has partnered with Searchmetrics to host a one-day, invite-only executive marketing event in San Francisco: SEO, Content Marketing, & Analytics: The Three Pillars of Online Marketing Success in 2014. One of our speakers on the keynote AMA panel is Anne Ahola Ward, founder of CircleClick.
I had the opportunity to interview Anne about all things marketing and business ownership below.
You founded CircleClick in 2009. What is your favorite part of being a business owner/founder?
My favorite part of being a business owner is that I get to be in control of my own destiny while building my own empire. For years I supported other CEOs and helped with their growth, but now I have found a way to do that without putting aside my own success.
As a business owner, how do you use the same PR and marketing strategies you offer your clients to promote your own business?
This may sound a bit weird, but I’ve never really promoted my own business. I work entirely off of referrals from clients. Also, I’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to write for some influential media outlets (such as SEJ) and speak at more and more conferences. The overlap in strategy is to find the right audience and tell your story sincerely and effectively as possible.
On your website, you say that “the desktop is officially dead.” What facts have helped you come to that conclusion and how are you using it to help your clients?
As a digital agency we’ve got to address every platform and screen size out there. Since about 2010 mobile search started to eclipse desktop. The numbers for mobile search have steadily increased since the hardware existed to support it. The trends became apparent in analytics very early on. I make it my business to stay on top of mobile trends and to understand where my clients’ potential customers are looking to find them. Our job at CircleClick is to harness the success of the mobile trend by studying the data, then designing optimized landing pages, re-examining our approach to search, etc. I have a member of my team who spends about 80 percent of her time just researching trends and reporting on them.
I think ASO (app store optimization) is still a relatively new field in marketing/SEO. What are three concrete strategies app developers and owners should be doing?
We actually write about ASO all of the time on my mobile marketing blog, MobileFOMO. A few big strategies to employ with mobile are:
ASO is not that far from SEO, the basic tenets are the same. However, for ASO the title and keywords really, truly matter like they did in SEOs early days.
Images are everything. Most developers spend their energy creating the app and don’t think about how it appears to the end user. Don’t be lazy and use random screenshots from your app. You have to use clear and bold images that will compel the right folks to download your app.
It’s absolutely vital that you ask your network to help you get reviews. Apps with more reviews tend to come up in search, it’s a fact. I wouldn’t suggest paying for them outright unless you have to, but asking your network for help is absolutely ok.
You are on the keynote panel at the event, which is being hosted as Reddit-style AMA. AMAs have become very popular in recent years. How has this format made experts and notable people more comfortable to answer questions from an online community?
I’m not sure I’d agree AMA makes people ‘comfortable’ per se, but it definitely makes it more interesting for the audience. People are tired of the same old stuffy interviews and they want to spend time hearing something valuable. I also wouldn’t discount the fact that AMAs seem much more genuine to the audience… There’s something truly fun about randomness and chaos. AMAs also show us who has a great sense of humor and who doesn’t (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/p9a1v/im_woody_harrelson_ama).
I LOVED your “Pitch My House” contest, where you had people pitch you to stay at your house for free during SXSWi. It was a really creative campaign that will make people remember you. What was the outcome of that contest and what have you learned from it?
Thank you. What I learned was to follow my instincts and to get creative, even if others don’t agree or understand at first. Many people told me I was crazy for letting random people from the internet into my house, but I did it anyway. SXSW is the place to showcase your stuff, being original is harder than fitting in, but the risk is well worth it. The outcome was that I got lots of exposure for my blog as well as the chance to hang out with some really cool people (both years we’ve done it), from Funny or Die to the Young Rapscalians… And hey, after our party Whataburger follows us on twitter, too. Really interesting people have made the contest worth it for me to keep doing.
Bonus Question: Besides your own, what is your current favorite website or blog?
There are so many good ones! For tech business commentary I like what Tom Foremsky does at the Silicon Valley Watcher, for the business side of social I enjoy Brian Solis’ blog and Jon Swartz keeps me updated on the big picture of tech. My less substantive blogs of choice for guilty pleasure would ValleyWag and Passive Aggressive Notes. For humor it’s Funny or Die, hands down, I frequently laugh myself to tears on that site.