Pick His Brain!
I’d like to introduce one of our members, Jacob Kettner, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.
I finally had a chance to meet Jacob in person yesterday and he is a real deal digital marketing/SEO entrepreneur. He currently runs a 7 figure agency in Canada and knows a lot more about marketing and SEO than your average marketer. Please feel free to pick his brain.
Here are the rules.
1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop. Theoretically, this thread can continue until the Facebook stock value goes to zero.
2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity. We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.
3) Please do not PM him and bother him. If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.
Tell us about your journey.
I got into digital marketing in 2008.
The first thing white hat I did that actually made me some real money was dropshipping.
I did a lot on eBay and then moved into Ecommerce. Through this I began learning SEO for my own businesses and started the client agency in 2014.
I used to be a magician and bartender while I was getting things figured out.
Now I have 2 kids and love fishing with them in my “spare” time.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business?
Managing my time.
I always have to remind myself to delegate and not get distracted with the small picture stuff.
What’s your client retention rate look like?
I don’t know yet.
I’ve only been in business for 4 years and still have most of my original clients.
It’s high though.
In a world full of “SEOs” and “Digital Marketing Agencies” what are a couple ways you’ve worked to differentiate yourself?
We embrace the niche.
We work with lots of marketing agencies and web companies and don’t want to compete with them on other services.
We do adwords search network but not much else.
How fast / how long did it take you to scale to 7-figures, was there ever a time where you hit a plateau, and if yes, how did you push through it into the promised land?
This is our first 7 fig year and it’s year 4. Definitely could have gone faster as it took me 2 years to hit 6 figures.
If I was starting again the first two things I’d do are hire a sales team and build agency partnerships.
I’ll be releasing some free training in my group for building agency partnerships later this year.
What is your typical partnership strategy?
Mostly web and marketing agencies.
We basically make free SEO training for them to give to their clients as added value and they either buy services from us a la cart or they convert to clients.
I have a bunch of those resources I plan on distributing later this year.
If you started online today what would you do and why?
Tough question. I’d stay in SEO.
Focus on agency partnerships and higher dollar clients.
What is the best way to learn SEO perfectly?
You never will. There is no perfect SEO.
There are things that work and things that don’t.
Get a good enough base through courses that you know the basics, then test test test, and then go to meet ups with other SEOs and share your findings.
It’ll come back to you 10 fold.
What kind of margin percentages are you doing on a per client and company wide basis?
When it was just me I’d invest 50% into hard costs and the rest made up overhead and profit.
Now our hard costs are lower but our fixed costs are much higher because we’re paying salaries instead of outsourced services.
I think 30% net is a good margin to shoot for but we make lower profit early on in campaigns and more after 6 months.
I know you are a fan of traditional networking but what are some ways you get cold clients online? Value ladder?
We’re not doing much online.
We do rank for city SEO terms but it doesn’t drive a lot of leads.
We do cold calling and networking mostly.
The nice thing about cold calling is you can snipe clients that’ll be easy to rank.
Can you share your cold calling strategy? How do you get to decision makers?
I hire people with experience, but generally Sell the receptionist and get to the decision maker.
Receptionists have a lot of influence and don’t like being looked at as gatekeepers.
Get them on your side and you’ll get through.
What are the top three things you do first that actually move the needle?
1) on page and inner linking. Best and faster movement for the amount of work.
2) Optimize GMB listing and citations with unique content.
3) Drip in some high authority links (we do a lot before this that I didn’t mention but a lot of the foundational stuff doesn’t “move the needle” so this would be the first three things we do that move the needle significantly.)
What is your SEO strategy for new websites precisely e-commerce stores?
Lots of on page, content creation, silo building and technical SEO and then start dripping in links to key pages in the silo.