Russ: Welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business. My guest today: David Underwood, Co-founder and President of TopSpot Internet Marketing. David, welcome back to The BusinessMakers show.
David: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Russ: You bet. Tell us about TopSpot Internet Marketing.
David: TopSpot is a full service search engine marketing firm, we’re based here in Houston. We really the way we define ourselves is that we, everything has to do with marketing online. We handle website design and development, we do a lot of paid search management, search engine marketing, but I think probably one of the things that we, we focus on a lot for our clients is helping provide really good data and really good analytics for them. And really helping them for all facets of helping them market themselves online.
Russ: Ok, how old is the company now?
David: Right at 11 years.
Russ: Ok. So I welcomed you back because you were a guest in 2011. I might add a very popular guest. I remember at the time you had 42 employees. Where do you stand today?
David: Today we are currently at right about 90 and so we’ve grown quite a bit over the last couple years. We just moved into this space in October this past year and needed some more space and we’re actually already looking at about another 5000 ft. to add on to this space as well. So, we have 90 employees in this office and then we have about 20 sales reps around the country who represent us.
Russ: My goodness. So, has it been sort of a steady growth all the way?
David: The, the last couple of years really the last 3 years we’ve probably seen our biggest growth in obviously, client acquisition but also employee acquisition. In this last year, we spent a lot of time and a lot of effort in, really targeting, bringing in the right people and making sure they’re the right fit for TopSpot, and we’ve been very successful the last couple of years. We’ve had a lot of really good, talented people that have come on board.
Russ: Ok. I remember a lot of the detail from the 2011 interview. What, in your mind, what’s, what’s different today, you know, 4, 5, 4 years later?
David: Industry’s amazing, it’s a, it’s a growing industry. I think a lot, a lot more companies in the last 3 years have become a lot more knowledgeable and, and they’ve very much recognized the importance of improving their online performance. Um, along with that, the mobile world; I mean, we live in a mobile society now, so, a lot of our clients have really come to us to help them market themselves better. Not only just in the traditional online media but also on mobile devices as well.
Russ: Ok. How different is that, from your perspective?
David: You know, I think that the way that we’ve always taken the approach that we really focus on analytics and data, and we’re, we’re able to provide our clients a lot of data that kind of drives them in the same direction. So, the way we were doing things, uh, you know, 3, 4, 5 years ago, um, has changed a little bit, but a lot of times we’re able to really still make a lot of what we consider educated decisions by looking at data and saying, hey look it’s time for a mobile site because you are getting a lot of mobile traffic. So, we’ve, we’ve really focused a lot of our decisions based on looking at good data and helping clients interpret what that means, and then, obviously, forming a strategy from there.
Russ: Ok. I know this is an oversimplification, but when I think of data in this category, I just think of Google Analytics. Is that something you guys bless and use and encourage your customers to use?
David: We use Google Analytics. It’s a major part of what we do. We also use a couple of other platforms. Because we deal a lot in the B2B space, we actually track a lot of the leads that come through for our clients and are able to evaluate the quality of those leads. A lot of times with Google Analytics you’re just seeing that a lead came through but you don’t really know the context of that lead, so that’s one thing that’s a little bit of a differentiator for us is we’re actually capturing those. And then the other one is, uh, call tracking. In the B2B space, I mean, they’ve see that as many as we’ve seen as many as 4:1 ratio of leads that come through the site on how many phone calls they get. So, a lot, a lot of companies were not tracking phone calls. They were just looking at the leads that were coming through their site. So, we use a call tracking software, um, to not only track the number of phone calls but also, we can actually listen to those phone calls as well.
So it’s pretty good and, and that’s evolved quite a bit the last couple years. And, not saying that we really meant to get into this part of it, but actually looking at the context of the leads and listening to the quality of the phone calls has enabled us to not only see that leads are coming through, but what’s the quality and how those leads are actually being handled and nurtured by client; kind of that, after the conversion, how these clients are actually helping. They’re spending, they’re spending money online, they’re doing everything right, we want to make sure that they’re actually handling the right way once they actually get those opportunities.
Russ: How are you doing that? I mean, are you integrating with their telephonic software? I mean, they’re not all the same.
David: No, most the call tracking software, there’s, there’s several good ones that are out there. They have a lot of similar features so it’s a voice over IP and we can listen to the phone calls but we can actually tell them how many phone calls they got from Google, how many they got from Yahoo, and really any other marketing efforts that they’re putting out there. If they’re doing some print ads we can get numbers for that and kind of pull this all into one place and say, these are where you’re getting-this is what’s generating your phone calls.
Russ: Ok. Cool. So, we’ve been talking for 5 minutes and you haven’t mentioned social media. I don’t think I’ve been in a conversation with anybody in the last 3 years that social media didn’t come up. Do you get involved in that world?
David: We do. I would say a lot for our clients, because they’re more that B2B. Probably, we’ve got about 700 clients we work with and about 85% of those are B2B in nature. So, it’s not as, um, prevalent with a lot of our clients, we’re working with them on other, getting other things up to speed, making sure their site’s where they need to be, their analytics, they’re organic, but it is something that we’re talking with clients about, and I think a lot of things for our, a lot of things that we think about for our clients is, social media is a great way for them to present, you know how they want to present the culture of their company. How they want to track new employees, are we seeing clients that are getting business through social media? We definitely do see that and we think it’s becoming more and more important, but it’s a little different for every single client that’s out there.
Russ: Ok. So, your, your clients, I mean, do you just look at the, you know Fortune 500 or will you take on a small business as well?
David: The majority of our clients are small to medium sized businesses. We, work with some Fortune 500 but we work on a lot of small to medium sized businesses as well. Our philosophy has always kind of been like we’ll work with all different budgets. I think the, the challenge though is making sure clients make intelligent decisions and that they go in with the right expectations when they’re going to do something online that they go in with a budget that’s going to make an impact. You know, we’ve seen situations where you can spend, you can spent $500 and be the worst $500 you’ve ever spent or you can spend $5000 and it’d be the best $5000 you’ve ever spent. So, a lot of it is trying to set those right expectations, but as far as the types of companies; we work with all different types of companies, uh, different sized budgets, uh and what’s really exciting is to kind of see these companies grow up.
We have some, we have clients that have been with us since the very beginning. Proud to say that, you know, we’ve got clients that- we’re, we’ve been in business for 11 years and we’ve had clients for 11 years, so that’s pretty cool and kind of seeing their evolution and seeing how they started out spending a certain amount 11 years ago and now what they’re able to do, and, and their mentality has changed a lot about what the internet can do for their business.
Russ: Well, I remember even in 2011 in the interview, you had a client that said, yeah I’ll shoot $500 a month at it for a while and within a year it’s like $10,000 a month. I mean, does that happen often?
David: It does. It does. We, we have a lot of clients that come on board with us that you know one of the nice parts of us offering different services is-and we offer paid service management, is that we, we see that that’s a great way for companies to kind of test the waters. It’s not a long commitment. It may not be a huge financial investment, and so they can actually come in and they can try for 90 days and they can define that budget that they’re comfortable with. The best part about that is that we’re able to get good data to show them this is, this is what’s happening on your site. That often leads to, ok it’s time to redo our site, it’s time to look at SEO, it’s time to take this step, and we’ve seen that the evolution of a lot of our clients has kind of taken that path.
Russ: I know this is an oversimplification but, everywhere I’ve always been there was always this debate: paid search, keywords vs. you know, the organic SEO stuff. I mean, in your opinion, if you had a small business right now, would you choose one of those over the other?
David: No, you do both. The clients that we see that have the-the reality is it’s impossible to optimize your site for every conceivable search phrase that’s out there, and we, we spend a lot of time with our clients educating them, because I think an educated client is a better client for us. We’re, we’re not the company that we’re gonna hide everything and what we’re doing and we’re not, we want our clients to understand what we do. We want them to understand this, and a lot of it is kind of setting that foundation from an education standpoint, because one the clients see this, we look at this as truly a partnership. We want to understand what their goals are and, and make sure that we’re, we’re achieving not only their, their online goals, but their business goals. And, we’ve had this debate a lot about paid vs. SEO, and what we see are the companies who do both have the most success.
Think about it from a branding standpoint: you do a search for a particular product and you see XYZ company that comes up multiple times on the page, it’s more of an authority of that particular search. And so, we, we highly encourage, and there’s been tons of studies now that see that there’s an overall brand lift when you’re showing up multiple ways on that particular page.
Russ: Give us a sample of a, just a success story.
David: One in particular, I think, and I think this is a very good example of, kind of the evolution for a lot of these companies, we, we had a company that’s here locally, they’re a coatings company, so they coat all different types of industrial products, and they came to us, you know, we talked with them years ago about online and how to market themselves better online. And, it was a little bit of a challenge at the very beginning. They started out with a very small budget, I think they started with $500 a month and, what we were trying to do is just show them, hey, you should be coming up on Google and people do more of your searches. The good part about it is, is when we first started a lot of these searches. They’re pretty specific, and that’s generally what our approach is, it’s to go very specific because we find that the more specific we can have a company show up for the more specific search phrase, somebody shows up for, the higher quality of that opportunity.
We use a phrase: the search defines the users, and what that means is what someone types in on the internet tells us a lot about who they are and what their intentions are. A very specific search, probably more qualified. So, we started out with $500, they got some great results, at least from a numbers standpoint; didn’t probably completely understand the entire process shortly thereafter, probably 6 months in we decided to redesign their site, redid their site. We started doing SEO; so this is a company who really did not have any presence online at all so then we started getting them show up more on the organic traffic, um, fast forward. You know, this is a company that gets, you know, anywhere from, you know, 7-8000 visits a month; very targeted visits, um, they’ve redone their website 3 times now, they now have a mobile friendly site, even though it was kind of the same process at talking to them about mobile.
When you went in you talked to them about mobile, oh we don’t think people use mobile devices, but we were able to show them that about 30-40% of their traffic was coming from mobile devices. So, now they have a mobile site, so they’ve redone, you know, in the past 7-8 years they’ve redone their site 3 times, they get a tremendous amount of traffic and their analytics is better now probably, because now they know exactly what they’re getting, they got call tracking, we see the leads that are coming through and I think it’s a good example of, you don’t have to jump in completely. You, you can start, test the waters, get data, understand, and then refine your strategy based on the data that you’re getting.
Russ: Really cool. David, I really appreciate you sharing your perspective.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with David Underwood, Co-founder and President of TopSpot Internet Marketing. And this is The BusinessMakers Show, brought to you by Comcast Business, built for business.
brought to you by