Today we talk with Jason Zotara, Founder and Managing Partner of Ten26 Media, an advertising agency that's helped many small businesses and Fortune 500 brands succeed through Google Ads and paid media. Having spent more than 20 years in marketing overseeing the spend of millions of dollars in paid media campaigns, Zotara shares with us his deep wealth of knowledge in Google Ads that has skyrocketed many of his clients' businesses to success. This is a must-watch interview if you want to discover the little-known basics that can make or mar your Google Ads.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
Why many Google Ad campaigns fail and how you can be different.
Marketing fundamentals that every Google advertiser must be familiar with.
How staying in touch with other Google advertisers can become beneficial for you.
Tips for staying on top of Google trends.
And so much more!
You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.
Or, click to watch the full video interview here!
To learn more about how Google Advertising can help your business grow, visit Jason Zotara's website at advertisewithpurpose.com.
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!
Jon LaClare: Today's interview is with a partner marketing agency that specializes in Google marketing. If you're working in Google on your own or through an agency and looking to improve your results, you'll find this episode very helpful.
Announcer: Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know. Harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now, here's the host of The Harvest Growth Podcast, Jon LaClare.
Jon: Welcome back to The Harvest Growth Podcast. Today, I'm really excited to be speaking with my good friend Jason Zotara. He's the founder and managing partner of Ten26 Media. We're going to talk about a little bit of what they do in their business, how they help clients, but really the goal for today is to learn and specifically about Google Marketing.
If your business is using an agency or doing it on your own or need help, have questions on Google marketing, that's truly where Jason's-- part of his expertise lies. They do other things in their agency as well, but that's one of their core focuses that they have. We interact and work with them sometimes to help our clients out from a Google perspective as well. He's an expert truly in the field, and I'm really looking forward to sharing his expertise with our audience today. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason Zotara: Hey, thanks so much. Good to be here.
Jon: If you could tell us a little about your background. How did you get into the world of starting up and owning your own marketing agency?
Jason: Oh, I don't know if we have enough time for that whole story, but I'll do my best to do the abbreviated version. I usually share these stories over whiskey or bourbon. Long story short, I've been working since I was 15 years old. I started out at McDonald's. I got into the marketing world when I was 20, not the age myself, but I spent 20-plus years now in various roles in the marketing, advertising, sales realm or worlds.
Through that experience working some on the agency side, some on the brand side, back in 2012, I decided to start my own agency for really two big reasons; one is I wanted to be able to control my own destiny and dictate the amount of money and success that I can have as an individual in my career as well as have that flexibility. Then number two would be what I found working on the agency and the brand side is there was-- not every agency, but there can be disconnects between what a client is being sold or engaged with on the sales front not connected between the sales and the operation side. Sometimes, the sales and operations isn't always connected as strong as it could be. There could be some different expectations or things that aren't being met or different communication things.
That's the second reason I started Ten26, was to really help bridge that gap between knowing when a client is engaging with a brand or an agency. They're being told and it's consistent between the sales process, through the operations, all the way through to start to finish. That was the second main reason of starting the agency. Since then, we've been running Ten26 for the last 10 years. It's been great. That's what prompted me to start the agency and obviously can share more about what that looks like on a day-to-day here in a moment.
Jon: I like how you described it. I think our agencies, I find, are, in some ways, fairly similar. We've kept them relatively small from a headcount perspective so that both of us as founders can stay involved from a strategic perspective. Really, I think you worded it well, what that helps get rid of is the disconnect between sales and execution or operations, as you called it. Being involved strategically as the owner, we can make sure, hey, we're involved in the sales process. We also own the end result of what we're delivering to our clients. I see that in your work as well. I think that's been important for us and I think for you guys as well.
Jason: Absolutely. Absolutely. I would add to that is the personalization is definitely something I think our clients value in that case of being able to. They all get my cell phone number. They can contact me any time of the day, 24-- well, unless I'm sleeping, of course. Most of the time I'm around and I'm connected for them to reach out. I remember just a quick story. One of my clients back in the day, we were running their social channels and it was a pet brand and there was some social chatter happening on a Saturday morning. The CEO got an alert or something and looked at it. He is like, "Well, they've already responded to it." He is like, "These guys are on it." They know we're on it. Everything's being taken care of. They actually ended up writing back to us saying, "Hey, just want to let you guys know that I appreciate you guys being on this and taking care of it." That's a kind of level of customer service that people get. I learned at a younger age that customer service is a free service that you could offer, so why not offer the best of that service? Just another added benefit of value of having that personalized service that one-on-one approach by being a small boutique-esque agency.
Jon: I'd love to jump into Google and talk specifically about that. We get a lot of questions from our clients and listeners as well about how to improve their presence on Google. It's such a complex world. We're certainly not going to be able to answer every question in this interview, but I think there's some high-level ones that'd be helpful for people. One is trends. There's constant changes that happen within Google itself. How do you stay on top of those changes and trends and how things are always on the move at Google?
Jason: Yes, great question. I think you have to have the attitude of constantly learning and never settling. Staying on top of that is part of that. I try personally, and I encourage our team members to-- A lot of times in the morning, I try to release an hour in the morning, an hour at night, to catch up on those trends. Looking at the publisher sites directly, for example, they all have-- Google specifically, they have the keyword, which is one of their blogs that they utilize for content. They also have a lot of help forums, support forums. I'm also part of, I/we are part of communities in the PPC in Google Ads world.
We're following that so we get other people's perspective because the last thing you can do for your clients is become stale and not continue to learn and stay up to date on those. Those are some of the ways that we do that. Various publications blogs. We have alerts set up as well that from anything new ideas, new things happen on the publisher side. As I shared in addition to the community forums and groups that we're part of, that helps stay on top of that to understand what other agencies are going through as well as last thing would be our partner network, which would be tied to that as well where they're sharing ideas, "Okay, hey, I'm encountering this," or, "We're encountering that," through various meetups events and things like that. I would say those are the primary ways to stay on top of that—just constantly educating yourself, wanting to be better at what we do would be the best way to answer that one.
Jon: I'll agree. It is a process no matter what marketing we're working in, and whether it's Google, Facebook, Instagram, other platforms that are being added to the list every day. I think what I like about what you discussed, there's so many sources we can go to, and we do have to stay on top of it. Communities are a big part of what we do as well, just in working with, frankly, other agencies and learning from what's working for them versus us, and learning from changes in the system.
You get the benefit that way of not only the multiple clients we work. That's one of the nice things about working with an agency in general is, we, like you guys, are working with multiple different clients at the same time. One learning from a client, whether it's a success or a failure. If something's changed in the algorithm that all of a sudden is no longer working, now you can prioritize that adjustment on all of your clients, all of your accounts.
We can also learn from other agencies. I think whether we're running with our campaigns speaking to our audience with an agency or trying to do it ourselves, it's getting in touch with communities, getting in touch with forums, and this could be live masterminds or something, but finding a group of people or companies that are in similar situations as you are to really learn from them. Getting a little more granular on the Google side, what are some strategies as of today that you see that work best?
Jason: I would say we're seeing a shift per se when it comes to Google, but I think one of the things that, and I'll be speaking just from our internal discussions and strategies is I think sometimes Google has-- there's a misnomer that you create a Google campaign, you launch the ads, and then all of a sudden people are buying from you, or all of a sudden those leads are coming in. It's an instant gratification, which as we joke about all this time, we're Americans, we love that instant gratification side of it. It definitely does have that opportunity, I'm not saying that doesn't happen, but I think what we look at more is we definitely will run conversion campaigns. When I say conversion, that means, "Hey, we're trying to get someone to fill out a lead." If you're a lead generation company or if you're an e-commerce company, you're getting somebody to buy a product and increases the revenue side of it.
With that being said, I always like to use the phrase "People have to know who you are before they buy from you or they engage with you." One of the things that we've been working more and more on with our clients and educating partners as well, is you have to have a multifaceted, multi-layer approach to advertising. What I mean by that is you have to look at it.
Number one is you have to focus on the end user or your potential customer. What that means is where are they? What are they thinking? Where are they spending their time? What problem are they looking for a solution for? Sorry about that. Putting them in their mind frame. With that being said, that allows you to then understand the different journey or the journey that goes into, whether that's engaging with a lead gen form or buying a product, and all the different touch points that go into that. Because I grew up in marketing where, for example, organic marketing, organic social media, you'd get 10% to 15% engagement rate.
There were some good organics there. It wasn't a pay-to-play world that we are in today. Even going back further, typically, someone would see a product and they would buy it. It wasn't that multi-touch approach. Nowadays, obviously with social media and mobile devices and so forth, that has turned into now, "Oh, I see an ad, I got to go look at reviews." I want to see how my friends are buying it. Is it part of the cool kids' club? All that stuff. Is it a good quality product?
You're maybe typing in Google brand name reviews. I do that a lot personally, seeing, okay, is this company legit? Especially someone you may have not heard from before. Going back to the strategy component it is understanding your audience, where they are in that journey of engaging with you, and then being able to create a campaign or multiple campaigns that address each of those points.
Instead of just running, "Hey, I just want to run a conversion campaign where--" I equate it to you asking for a hand in marriage on the first date. It's like you don't go on a first date and just instantly propose to somebody. Well, you might, but to each their own. I feel like the true successful relationships are, you take it day by day, you get to know each other, you date a little bit, you can go from there. That's where our philosophy and you'll find a lot of my philosophies are dating. For some reason, I just find there's a lot of good alignment there.
The point is to take it not only just decisions, conversion, conversion, conversion, but let's start with some awareness. Let's get people to understand who you are as a brand, what is your product, what is your service, then moving over to a consideration phase. Now they know who you are. Now they may be considering you versus other solutions or other products or services. Then move them into an engagement phase where, okay, now how are you getting them to engage with you?
Is that through a piece of content from a lead gen standpoint, we found that to be really successful, or is it a review or a testimonial from an e-commerce side? Something to get that social proof side of it, to get them to engage with you. Maybe it's just signing up for your email list. Maybe it's, "Hey, new release is coming out. Sign up for a new release." I know Nike and a lot of those brands do that and get people engaged upfront.
Then lastly, to lead them into that, what we call decision or conversion campaign. All in all, I think the conversation-- we found that implementing these type of strategies have been successful for our clients and has worked to get them to not only get maybe as many leads, but the quality of leads or the quality of engagements, the quality of customers that they're getting tend to either repeat, buy multiple products, come back. That kind of thing.
It's not necessarily about how many leads or how much revenue, well, revenue is important, but how much traffic we're driving. It's about, how many bookings are we getting? How many enrollments are we getting? How many product sales are we getting or driving? We feel like there's a multi-layer approach to that, and that's what we try to implement. I think it's a little bit different from traditional just, "Hey, we're going to do an ad and we're going to drive them to a landing page and get them to convert." It's that kind of process. I'll stop there because a lot of times I can get excited and get long-winded, but I'll leave it there.
Jon: No, that's well said. I'd love to talk about essentially a marketing funnel. Starting very wide, getting awareness, as you talked about, the consideration phase after that, and then getting to them to convert is the final step. For me, I love the phrase slow down to go fast. That's really what this marketing funnel approach is. It's so tempting to go after the conversion, but it's going to be more difficult to actually drive that conversion if they don't know you first.
Slow down a little bit more and spend some more time with your prospects during that awareness and engagement phase, and then, as you said, ultimately many more will end up buying much higher quality leads, higher revenue clients or customers for you as well. That's well said. That's a great way to think about the campaign, for sure. Well, Jason, are there any resources that you've found helpful in running your business that you think would be helpful for our audience too?
Jason: It depends. With our agency, we have agency tools that can sometimes be, I don't say redundant, but-- or maybe excessive to the average marketer or advertiser. I'd say number one is definitely Google Analytics. That's one of the big tools that we use from a data standpoint. You can use things like Google Data Studio, which is now-- I can't remember what the name of it is right now. They changed the name to something. I can't think of it.
You can use tools that aggregate that data into a nice dashboard and so forth. We use different tools like that from a reporting standpoint. AgencyAnalytics is one, Swydo is another one that we've played around with before. We also use a software called Adpulse. That might be a little bit too much for the average marketer, advertiser. I would definitely say any tools that allow you to get the data and provide insights into what your marketing campaigns are doing.
For example, we tag everything that we do with UTM parameters and then we cross-reference that using both Google Analytics and then as well as like Salesforce or a CRM. Back up. Having a CRM to track everything that you're doing is one; Salesforce, HubSpot are some of the common ones we work with. Then two, having the data, so for example, Google Analytics that tracks everything from start to finish to know, "Okay, I am spending X amount of dollars and I'm getting X amount of returns." Just helps you, the full funnel approach, to know where everything is going.
I'd say another great tool that we've used is Semrush, is another tool that we use. We use a lot of that for keyword data, competitive analysis, keyword research. A lot of times we're creating that strategy. That's another great tool to utilize. I would say also just utilizing publishers. When I say publisher, I mean Google, Facebook, Meta. Using their resources.
They all have an extremely rich resources when it comes to academies and help in articles and things like that.
A lot of times it's just utilizing those publishers and getting it straight from the source would be helpful as well. If you're running, "Hey, how do I run a Performance Max campaign?" Google will have data around that. Here's what they're doing. They'll even have case studies in that case. If you're ever wondering specifically around the publisher themselves or the platform itself, that's usually the best place to go is directly to that resource. I'm not sure if that answers your question because there's a lot of different tools and things that you can utilize, but that just gives you some insights into some ones that we utilize for our clients.
Jon: Yes. That's very helpful. Thank you very much. Jason, is there anything I didn't ask that you think could be helpful for our audience?
Jason: No. Obviously, there's a lot more to share about the day-to-day. I think one of the points that I wanted to add on when you were talking about earlier of the personalization of working with a smaller, more personalized agency is the expertise in industries as well. Having that, when you're talking about having different clients that you're learning from, I think having deep expertise in a specific industry or vertical also helps with that.
For example, we're big into travel, education, and sustainability. Any of those three industries, because we have that expertise and that knowledge and we've gone through those challenges with our clients in those industries, we're not having to learn those industries again for new clients. I think that's another add-on. I don't necessarily believe there's any specific question you didn't ask, but that was one I wanted to add on to that point of discussion that I thought was valuable for the listeners to know.
Jon: Well, thank you. This has been really helpful, Jason. I want to encourage our audience, you can check out his website at advertisewithpurpose.com. If you're driving, as always, it's in the show notes. You can refer to this later, but advertisewithpurpose.com. You can learn more about Jason, his agency, how he helps, and you can reach out to him directly from there to ask any questions that you might have specifically with Google and other marketing channels as well. Well, Jason, thanks so much for your time.
Jason: You're very welcome. Thanks for having me.
Jon: Be sure to visit advertisewithpurpose.com to learn more about Jason and his agency. Also be sure to check out harvestgrowth.com, our website, to see other episodes we've recorded. If you'd like to take a shortcut and learn the process that we have used to launch hundreds of products and businesses since 2007, download our SECRET SAUCE Product Marketing Campaign Cheat Sheet at harvestgrowthsecretsauce.com. You can set up an appointment right from our website to speak directly with a member of the Harvest Growth Team in a free one-on-one consultation.
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