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» Exclusive Interviews, SES Conference Coverage » Exclusive Interview with Christine Churchill, President of KeyRelevance

Exclusive Interview with Christine Churchill, President of KeyRelevance

Christine-churchill SemGeek is proud to present an exclusive online interview with Christine Churchill, President of KeyRelevance. This interview is brought to you in cooperation with the Search Engine Strategies' Pre-SES San Jose 2009 Blog & Q&A Coverage.

About Christine Churchill:
Christine Churchill is president of, a full-service Dallas search engine marketing company offering search engine optimization, web analytics, social media marketing, and pay-per-click management services. KeyRelevance's clients range from small businesses to large publicly-traded companies and cover a wide range of verticals, including travel, education, e-commerce, and the automotive industry.

Churchill speaks regularly at international search conferences such as Search Engine Strategies, WebmasterWorld, Search Marketing Expo, and the Small Business Marketing Unleashed Conference. She was a member of the founding board of directors of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) and has served as an officer of the board for the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) since its inception. She holds a master's in business and has over 10 years of online marketing experience.

Interview Questions:

Question #1. In this economic slowdown, more and more advertisers are cutting back on their overall internet marketing budgets.  How have you adjusted to this shift?  And what types of services do these advertisers seem to be affected the most?

Answer: The  economic down turn has forced companies to be better marketers.  While many advertisers have cut their budgets, that is not universal.  Interestingly, some clients have actually shifted more dollars into their online marketing from other marketing efforts.  A big reason for the shift is it is easier to quantify the performance of online advertising than many other forms of marketing. 

A big shift we’ve seen in the bad economic times is the need for more accountability on where their dollars are spent.  Money is tighter and companies want to know that every dollar spent is being spent well.  For PPC, by using analytics we can show how individual keywords are performing.  Also, there are advanced tools to help marketers optimize their landing pages for top performance.  Armed with more information, we can make better and more informed marketing decisions so even though demand may be less, conversion numbers remain high.  It’s all about doing a better job with the dollars you have. 
Question #2. With the emergence of Social Networking sites making its way into a typical seo strategy these days, have the traditional and proven SEO tactics and techniques being considered “secondary”?

Answer: On the contrary, traditional search engine optimization is alive and well.  It’s evolved from the early days, but anyone who thinks it’s secondary is missing out.  The combination of SEO and social media is a powerful mix for the online marketer.  The two work hand in hand for better performance.  True search engine optimization is not manipulation.  It’s taking a web site and translating what the site is about into a language a search engine can better understand. 

Done right, SEO also makes the web site easier for users to find and use.  SEO applied to social media is the same.  I suppose there are abusive tactics, but the way I view SEO and social media, it’s actually helpful for both the user and the search engine.  The first step in SEO is keyword research.  It’s all about communicating and using the keywords the target audience would use to search about something.  This applies to social media as well as videos on YouTube, press releases, images, etc.   It makes perfect sense to use common phrases when creating blog post titles as it does to creating H tags on a page. 

They help the search engine classify a page and understand what the page (or post) is about, so the engine can then rank the page and present it to the user.  So, in answer to your question, I don’t see social networking sites replacing SEO, I see SEO principles being adapted to social media to better help the user and the engines find common ground.
Question #3. Software companies are coming out with products and services targeted to the PPC Guru to help automate and streamline the PayPerClick development process.  Do you think relying on software is a good thing?  Or should PPC continue to be more of an ART than a Science?

Answer: Large, complex PPC accounts with thousands of keywords run across multiple engines are the best candidates for PPC software.  Smaller accounts can be managed with the tools provided by the engines themselves.   For example, day parting was something we originally had to use a third party software to be able to do.  Google and other engines have now incorporated it into their standard account interface, so in many instances there is less need for software packages.

Software  products can help account managers make better decisions, but they don’t replace the thinking human in the loop.   Software is simply a tool that frees up the account manager from tedious, error prone tasks.  It allows the manager to do what they do best – be creative.  If a PPC manager spends her entire day crunching numbers and stuck down in the weeds of an account, she can’t take a step back and see the bigger picture. 

For example, one area of PPC that is extremely important is optimization of landing pages for better conversion.  Using multi-variant software like Google Website Optimizer can make the mechanics and intensive number crunching easy, you still need the creativity and insight of a human to come up with the variations to test. 

Question #4. Are there any interesting Search Marketing trends that you have seen over the past ye
ar that our audience would like to be aware of?

Answer: Hard times have forced people to look for cheaper alternatives.  I track a lot of keyword phrases both in SEO and PPC and I’ve seen the volume of searches done on phrases change with the economic conditions.  For example, if you look at the term “coupon” in Google’s Trend tool, you’ll see a geometric increase in search popularity.  People have less money at their disposal so they are trying to stretch their dollars.  Coupons are a win-win for many companies. 

Since people are actively searching for coupons for many products or services, offering special coupons online incentivize people to buy from your company.  Smart marketing involves getting inside the consumer’s mind and providing them what they want. Companies that want to survive the economic conditions need to constantly monitor online behavior.  If you watch for trends and changes in behavior, you can adjust your online marketing to better fit the consumer.

Question #5. Web Analytics companies provide an immense amount of data and information about an advertisers website.  In your opinion, do you think the typical company needs to have this much data?

Answer: We are a long time proponent of web analytics to better understand performance.  Without analytics you’re flying blind and wasting a lot of money. Analytics can help you refine your marketing campaigns and determine what is working and what isn’t.  It is a tool to make you a better marketer.  Analytics can help you see if certain campaigns or keywords are unprofitable.   Reducing budget waste can make the difference between surviving economic hard times or going bust. 

The key to getting the most out of Analytics is to have someone within the organization that is invested in the information that the reports tell you, and designing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your site such that they actually measure data and generate information that you can actually ACT on to improve the site.  Analytics tools provide a wealth of information, but not all of the reports possible to generate are needed for a specific site.  For example, an e-commerce site will have dramatically different KPIs than a content site that generates revenue through ad display.  Getting someone within the organization to actively review and act on the Analytics reports is the best way to get value from the tools.

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2 Responses to "Exclusive Interview with Christine Churchill, President of KeyRelevance"

  1. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

  2. Some interesting and informative answers, especially in regard to businesses cutting their marketing budgets.

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