Announcer: [00:00:00] Edge of the Web, on the road at SMX.

Erin Sparks: [00:00:04] We had a great time at SMX West in San Jose this year, and we were able sit down with some thought leaders in the digital marketing space. Big, big thanks to uh, Third Door Meeting who opened the door for Edge of the Web to be there at the conference. We had a chance to sit and talk with Elizabeth Marston, uh, friend of the show and presenter at SMX covering the digital marketplace of Amazon, Walmart and Google Shopping. So give it a watch and listen.

Announcer: [00:00:28] Your weekly digital marketing trends, with industry trend setting guests. You’re listening and watching Edge of the Web, winners of best podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Here at See More and Edgeofthewebradio.com.

Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.

Erin Sparks: [00:00:49] We’re here at SMX West, 2020, wrapping up the day with Elizabeth Marston from Tinuiti. How about that? Uh, what’s your title over there?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:00:58] Senior Director, Strategic Marketplace Services.

Erin Sparks: [00:01:01] What’s that mean?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:01:02] It means that I do a lot with all of the different marketplaces, mostly developing and working with some of our enterprise clients on Amazon.

Erin Sparks: [00:01:09] All right. So I wanted to … I, I appreciate your, your spending time with us, because it’s been a long day and I also know you have a workshop, a long workshop tomorrow focused on the, the digital marketplace. Right?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:01:21] Uh, Amazon in particular. So it’s going to be one of the first Amazon focused workshops that’s not just entry level.

Erin Sparks: [00:01:26] Got it. So, um, I wanted to bring around a con-, a bit of conversation that, that uh, I’ve had recently about the, the challenge of, of um, SEOs in particular. The SEO discipline and skillset, uh, I’m not jumping into the digital space, the advertising space, the marketplace. Um, it’s something that you just had a, you just talked about in your last presentation regarding um, uh, wherever you are in your career path, at whatever particular salary band you’re trying to pursue, you need to start acclimating yourself to these additional skills, these additional, these additional spaces and, and those, those higher salaries are not part of that multi-, multi-tool or sw-, or, or Swiss army knife approach. You’ve got to get specialized in these.

So, my question to you is, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of kind of silo-ing in the SEO community. That they don’t jump into these additional practices. Why do you think that is?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:02:26] I think part of it has to do with, it’s depending on the size of the company.

Erin Sparks: [00:02:30] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:02:30] And depending on how they’re structured. There’s those swim lanes right?

Erin Sparks: [00:02:33] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:02:33] And it also has to, you know, I mean, there’s already a team established there. They’re not supposed to, you know, step on toes, that kind of thing.

Erin Sparks: [00:02:38] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:02:38] But also, it’s how people are comped. So if you’re not compensated to, to cross-channel at all, or cross-team, that doesn’t usually happen so much. It depends on who’s the more ambitious I guess, of the two, that is willing to kind of cross the bridge and, and make uh, in-, involve the different teams. And then there’s just intellectual curiosity.

So, if the fir-, person isn’t even that interested, or again, if they’re not comped, like they don’t get a promotion or a raise or anything that kind of comes with that …

Erin Sparks: [00:03:05] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:03:06] Then, you know, they’re going to, they’re going to stick to what they know.

Erin Sparks: [00:03:10] We’re in, in a space, we’re in a market, we’re in an industry that is constantly changing. We, we see it all around us as digital marketers. There’s so much happening, all the time. Literally daily, there’s announcements and changes in, in the different platforms that we work in. Um, to not have a, a mindset of, of, of just, just trying to ch-, change something or understand something more, it, I mean, is that a self imposed impediment to some, some people in, in their mindset.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:03:41] Yeah, absolutely. And so, at some of the larger, you know, like, super mega companies like holding companies or whatever, like they are, that’s what they do. They’re not incentivized really to cross-channel. They’re not incentivized to think, think that way. They do the thing that they’re supposed to do.

Erin Sparks: [00:03:55] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:03:55] Um, and that does make it hard, but at the same time, they’re supposed to scale.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:00] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:00] So, when they have these accounts, these are multimillion page websites that these SEOs are working with.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:05] Correct.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:05] So, maybe they don’t have the capacity to get that into say advertising.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:10] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:11] They should.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:12] Yeah.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:12] They’d want to, but it is, I do understand um, that hesitation. Uh, smaller agencies, and again it comes back to, what do you want to do next?

Erin Sparks: [00:04:21] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:22] Do you want to get promoted as an SEO? Do you want to move into something like uh, a VP of Search or a Senior Director of something a little like, more marketing focused, or more technical focused.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:31] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:32] That’s where you have to start branching out, and that’s also where you know, again, it’s a job at the end of the day, so that salary band does tend to play a large part in where you might want to go next.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:42] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:04:42] So, if you’re not thinking about your next two steps ahead, and if are you doing the things today to either make that transition over of move up, then you’re going to stay where you’re going to stay.

Erin Sparks: [00:04:53] Going to stay where you stay, a, a, at the same time, it is, there’s something uh, that, that the company sh-, if they were paying attention, should be able to incentivize uh, th-, those, those sharp people in that SEO swim lane to be able to look at these different digital, digital marketplace channels. Right? So it is kind of, there’s a part of responsibility on the corporations, the organizations, the enterprises, to be able to, to, to, to lift them up.

But at the same time, is there also a big of a purist mentality inside of SEO?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:05:24] Yeah, so, it comes from … So, Google, right? We know that the algorithms for organic and paid search are different.

Erin Sparks: [00:05:30] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:05:31] They don’t even talk to each other tech-, tech-, as far as we know. They don’t talk to each other.

Erin Sparks: [00:05:34] Right. That’s a company I like. [laughs]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:05:35] However, we do know that on some of these other uh, emerging marketplaces, so Amazon. So Amazon SEO is closely tied to performance and so is advertising.

Erin Sparks: [00:05:45] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:05:45] So you can pay in a sense, to play to increase your sales, and increase that velocity. That flywheel is what it does.

Erin Sparks: [00:05:51] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:05:51] Sales and orders and volume, like demand, equals they’re going to keep showing you. That’s how you win things like choice badges and ta-, a, ta-, first level uh, organic p-, pages. Walmart has come right out and said, “Your organic ranking is influenced by your advertising.”

Erin Sparks: [00:06:08] Hm.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:06:08] It just is what it is. So.

Erin Sparks: [00:06:10] Yup.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:06:10] We are as, as an SEO reaches out beyond the Google and the Bing universe, and starts looking at what’s uh, relevant on Amazon, what’s relevant on Walmart, Target, wherever it is.

Erin Sparks: [00:06:19] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:06:20] They’re going to have to start paying attention to advertising too.

Erin Sparks: [00:06:23] So, eh, eh, you know, to further that, is that um, you know, there’s a particular principle that, oh no, I don’t want to have to s-, sully myself in the, and no offense whatsoever so …

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:06:33] Yeah, yeah.

Erin Sparks: [00:06:33] But I mean it’s, it’s in the, you know, I have to pay for it? I, I should be able to earn it on my own merit and that’s not that big leap, that big jump. But here’s the core of it. Is that SEO is analysis. It’s not a, it’s almost like, it’s almost like you, you know a different script language.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:06:49] Yeah.

Erin Sparks: [00:06:49] It, it’s the concepts of analysis and measurement and, and, and experimentation. They all play in the same fields in all these different disciplines. Right?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:06:58] And I also look at, why, why this is … So Google’s business is search.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:04] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:04] Like, it’s to provide answers. Amazon’s is to sell you something.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:07] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:08] They don’t really care like, with the, like there’s not going to be a knowledge panel or like all these other things.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:13] [laughs]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:13] Is this the thing you wanted? Will you buy the thing?

Erin Sparks: [00:07:15] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:16] Can I sell it to you? Great. Next.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:17] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:17] And so, that, that cycle is, that’s not going to stop. And so, SEOs a-, as they start to work with these retailers, understanding the different inputs, that is important to the engine.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:29] Hm.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:29] Which is there’s, and their sophistication is going be different as well. Their inputs are different. Um, Walmart’s we know is, as a search tool, their search is onsite search functionality.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:39] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:39] Just isn’t as good as Amazon and Google’s. And they’ve had more time to, to, to hone those inputs. But, the other question I have is, you know, is Walmart that incentivized if, to make more improvements? If they can just sell you the advertising to move it forward?

So, it kind of goes. And then, each one of them is going to be different, as we go forward.

Erin Sparks: [00:07:57] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:07:57] So, you can argue a-, in the future, like, what is search? Um, one of the things that I struggle with a Tinuiti is we have search, which you, to you and means paid search.

Erin Sparks: [00:08:08] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:08:09] Or SEO. But then on the Amazon team, they have search, which also search on Amazon. So, it’s very diff-, so depending on who you’re talking to, you have to clarify search on what.

Erin Sparks: [00:08:20] Right, right, right. And you have to be, you, you, you can’t be dogmatic. You can’t just stay in one lane. You ha-, your, you’re going to have to know those particular intents and it all does get back to consumer intent. Amazon, all the marketplaces are very, very transactional, and intent. We all understand that search and, and, and question search and entity searches. Right? Are a whole different beast, and if you want to be able to serve your company well, you have to be able to embrace and understand the, the other side of the fence then.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:08:53] And then the search behavior is different too. Right? So what, how you, how, you know, Google will have longer queries. Amazon may have shorter. Walmart is kind of interesting because you will see um, use cases.

Erin Sparks: [00:09:03] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:09:03] Like they’ll, they’ll not just be like, dog food. It’ll be dog food for small dogs. Like, there’s a very specific problem that they’re, or solution that they’re trying to find. Um, and that’s why sites like Walmart and Target, if you look at their site nav on the left side?

Erin Sparks: [00:09:17] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:09:17] It is more browse behavioral, and that is what Google Shopping, or Shopping Access Goo-, Google, whichever you want to call it, what, whatever point in time it was.

Erin Sparks: [00:09:25] [laughs]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:09:26] I, you know, I worked with them to launch that in a previous role, and that, I asked, “What, what’s up with these categories? Why are … this is weird.” And they, they were saying it’s, they wanted it to be more akin to like when you’re in a store, and you look at the aisles, the lists above the aisles.

Erin Sparks: [00:09:40] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:09:41] They wanted to uh, uh, encourage browsing and to keep going and to keep clicking and to keep adding things to your cart.

Erin Sparks: [00:09:47] Right, right, right. So, there’s another area of all this that has to do with customer sentiment, um, as, as it applies to part of the algorithm’s flywheel, and on top of that search. Uh, just, just entity search uh, Google search, not the paid search. There has to be an embracement of understanding how to improve customer sentiment and also goes into customer service and all of the other ramifications of that.

But, there is a connective tissue between the, the, the digital marketplace and the consumer review and the SEO and the consumer review. Is that a potential bridge for SEOs to understand that, it’s, it’s in both spaces. They should be truly embracing the entire area.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:10:28] Yeah, I mean, absolutely. Especially around shared, shared metrics or shared pieces of information, that can influence both. So, customer views, product reviews, um, popularity, uh, prod-, certain product pages. Whether or not, you know, one of the things with uh, Walmart that’s unfortunate is because of some of the way the product pages are laid out, they’re not as indexed I’ve noticed and crawled as Google.

Erin Sparks: [00:10:52] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:10:52] Or as uh, Amazon. Amazon product detail pages are constant. You can find them always in a Google index.

Erin Sparks: [00:10:58] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:10:58] Um, Target’s starting to sneak in there as well. So, as you go to update product content, understanding how, how many other places it can permeate.

Erin Sparks: [00:11:08] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:11:08] It becomes actually quite relevant to an SEO.

Erin Sparks: [00:11:10] Absolutely. And those associated, all those affiliated or customer views at each and every one of those different spaces.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:11:17] Yeah, and if you’re a brand, and you put the brand name in, are you competing with yourself? So, you’ve got your e-comm site, you’ve got your Target page, your Amazon page, your Walmart page, your Wikipedia page, whatever it is. Like, how do you want that to lay out for the customer?

Erin Sparks: [00:11:32] So, I guess they just can’t spa-, stay, stay in, in code. They can’t stay in, in content. They have to be looking at uh, all of these additional marketplace relevancies because it does effect their performance as well.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:11:44] Eventually, their site traffic may go down.

Erin Sparks: [00:11:46] Absolutely.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:11:46] Uh, that is one thing that we notice competitive, competitively speaking was you know, uh, I talked to somebody that you know, their .com traffic is dropping. It was like, “Well, but are your sales?” Like, did they just move essentially.

Erin Sparks: [00:11:58] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:11:58] And so, we did find that there were some that were moving. And, Amazon actually has a new tool called Amazon Attribution, which does make it so that you can generate a tag in Amazon.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:07] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:08] And let’s say that you don’t have a e-comm site. Like, you have a site, but it’s not e-comm ready.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:12] Okay.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:12] And you want to direct traffic to your Amazon detail product pages.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:15] Right, right, right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:16] You can tag, and then you can start to see what you’re in a sense, or eh, a Google search, you can see what your leak is, essentially from when someone started to Google search to when they completed it on Amazon. So it in beta now.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:28] Hm.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:29] It was primarily for first party and vendors. They are letting some third parties in.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:32] Are we going to be seeing uh, all, all of these e-comm uh, leave the domain, and actually plant it, plant itself in, in the marketplace?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:41] No.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:41] No?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:42] Nah, there’s just, there’s just too much … It’s, we’re, we’re so far away from that. People just want to buy when they’re ready and you know, just being in the six places.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:51] [laughs] all right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:12:52] It’s exhausting, but yeah.

Erin Sparks: [00:12:53] I appreciate, I appreciate your thoughts there. I mean, it, it has been a concern, and I’ve had a number of conversations. I, we want to be able to see SEOs use their well honed disciplines, well honed analysis and be able to benefit the digital marketplace.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:13:07] I still f-, I still find that there’s a very real benefit and need for a .com. I mean, that’s your space. That’s your, that’s your brand voice. That’s where you get to put unique things, content, launches, any kind of celebrity endorse-, whatever it is.

Erin Sparks: [00:13:20] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:13:20] Like, that’s your space, and you should own and that is how you should connect to your customers. And that way if they buy it, it doesn’t matter where they buy it from.

Erin Sparks: [00:13:28] Absolutely. Just own the brand there. Don’t just be on the shelf. Right? Last all, last thoughts for, for the uh, the digital advertiser that’s uh, uh, out there and wants to jump into the digital marketplace. Guidance, what would you, what would you give them as a first steps?

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:13:44] So like as from an SEO or just in general?

Erin Sparks: [00:13:46] Oh, just a digital, digital advertiser collectively.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:13:49] Well, I would say that obviously, if you’re not familiar with Google Shopping, you should take the certification part of that. There is a Shoppings certification that you can go through and get a pretty good idea of how it works. Like, nuts and bolts. Um, I recommend that or like the Amazon accreditation as well.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:05] Sure.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:05] Because then at least you’ll learn the names of the things. Um, which they change, I swear every two, two quarters.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:10] [laughs]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:10] However, the most relevant is in there. Um, there’s also like subscriptions. Like I like to look at some very high level uh, subscriptions at like, Digiday or uh, Wire’s always a good one.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:22] Mm-hmm [affirmative]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:22] And um, Marketplace Pulse, because then you’re at least at the very highest level, getting company movements.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:28] Right.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:29] And so you understand like, the health of the company and what new initiatives are coming out that year. So, then you can think about how that affects your life.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:36] Hm. All right. Thank you so much. Good luck in your uh, your workshop tomorrow.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:41] Thank you.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:41] That is a gauntlet. An eight hour workshop.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:43] So many slides. [laughs]

Erin Sparks: [00:14:44] [laughs]

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:44] We made so many slides.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:44] Thanks for always giving us great information and taking the time with, with us. We really do appreciate it.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:51] Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure.

Erin Sparks: [00:14:53] More than wel-, more than welcome. Hopefully we’ll get you back on the show here soon.

Elizabeth Marst…: [00:14:56] Great.