The man who knows how to make names known June 27, 2018 RIC Centre Brand and Product Optimization that Brings Better Online Sales RIC Volunteer Advisor Profile An online search of the term “profitable conversions” returns a list of results that invariably puts Bernie Schmidt’s Toronto based digital marketing company at the top. It’s no accident. It’s his business. It’s also the name of his company. At “Profitable Conversions” they have mastered the techniques of search optimization on the desktop, on mobile and now on digital assistant. His customers benefit through higher profiles and increased sales. In conversation with Schmidt he told RIC that, for him, the road to success in SEO and digital marketing started in the capital of country music, Nashville Tennessee. That’s where he headed when he decided to take a break from corporate life and follow his passion. Tell us a bit about your background. SCHMIDT: I’m an engineer by education and started my career in petrochemical project management and first-generation CAD (computer assisted design) tools. From there I moved into B2B computer sales, then management. I’ve held a number of executive positions in small, medium and large technology companies covering sales, marketing and product management, mostly in technical products such as servers, network operating systems and related technologies. At one point I stepped away from corporate life and took five years to pursue one of my passions – song writing. I spent time bouncing back and forth between Nashville and Toronto, writing, performing and self-promotion. Part of the promotion work was building my brand online and figuring out SEO and how to rank on Google. Some of my small-business friends asked me to help them out with their Internet efforts and that was how my marketing consulting practice was born. What are some of the common marketing challenges companies face? SCHMIDT: Because of all the free information now available online, prospective customers have taken control of how they buy – statistics show that more than 80% of buyers research online and quite often no longer require the interaction with a salesperson. In fact, buyers are usually most of the way to their purchase decision before they commit to engaging in conversation with a human. This means that online marketing efforts have an expanded role as a contributor to sales. Companies have to focus on three aspects in order to develop sales pipeline, which I characterize as Connect – Convince – Convert: Connect: Increase qualified traffic to your website using SEO and social media strategies, Convince: Drive visitor engagement on your Internet properties with optimized content and offers based on where they are on their buying journey, Convert: Deliver customised content using marketing automation to nurture prospect engagement and move them forward in the sales funnel. Each of these three areas needs to be properly tracked through analytics to ensure data-driven decision-making and actionable work. The goal is continuous improvement in channel development and campaigns for lead generation and conversion. What marketing trends should businesses be aware of? SCHMIDT: there are four trends that are really important. Voice in Search. If the first trillion searches were done on desktop and the 2nd trillion done on mobile, the next trillion will be done via voice and asking questions to your device. It means that Siri, Alexa or Google will present you with one answer, not a list of ten search results. While voice interaction may play more strongly with retail-related products and services, you’ll want to ensure that the main voice providers have the correct facts about your business to enable them to provide the correct answers. Interactive Content. B2B marketers have relied on their blogs and PDF content (white papers, infographics, how-to guides) to help generate leads. Interactive web experiences, showing product features through visuals and animations, will play a larger role in initial visitor engagement and creating a stronger first impression. You can expect more chatbots popping up on sites you visit, and at some point you may see the need to get on board with this technology to help with FAQs, expanded sales content and customer service. The challenge will be to offer value without being intrusive. Your language describing your products and services must be authentic and sincere, and backed up by objective customer reviews, both on your site and on platforms such as Google Plus. Social media has increased accountability as well – responsive customer service will always be an enabler for new business. Tell us about a company that you worked with and how you helped them. SCHMIDT: ClinicSense is a B2B software developer who has a really great clinic management software solution for massage therapists – major benefits include ease of use, better client engagement through self-serve, superior client records keeping and documented time savings using their software – admin time is reduced by over 70%, freeing up therapists to spend more time with clients and grow their business. The challenge was that the story wasn’t being captured in a way that helped them be discovered more frequently on the Internet, and to ensure that online lead generation efforts were measurable. Two other RIC Advisors (Kevin Smith with branding, Mike Vanderlee with sales process) helped out in their areas of expertise. I focused on ensuring the website was “search engine friendly” (based on keyword research and optimizing webpage content) and putting reporting in place using Google Analytics to allow proper tracking of “net new” traffic, which would then be the focus of converting to trial users and then customers. I’m pleased to say that ClinicSense now ranks highly for all major search terms that massage therapists use when seeking a solution to help run their business, resulting in a doubling of new traffic and more prospects in their sales pipeline. Why did you become a RIC Advisor? SCHMIDT: Well, I’d already done corporate and was now comfortable running my own business. Paul Barter, one of the RIC Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, introduced me to Pam Banks and the RIC Startup acceleration model. I was amazed at the incredible range of business ideas that were actively being developed. Plus, I enjoyed connecting with these entrepreneurs who brought so much energy and passion to their businesses. It felt like there was a great opportunity for me to share some of my learnings and help these entrepreneurs move ahead a bit more quickly, especially in online lead generation and business development.