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Electronic Fireside Discussions with Napster Marketing Director Jeff Ferguson

Jeff Ferguson has been a veteran in the marketing world since 1995 and is currently the director of online marketing at Napster, where he controls all online acquisitions and retention via online media, search engine marketing, affiliate and e-mail marketing. He has worked with nimble start-ups as well as major heavyweight companies such as Fortune 500’s and therefore knows both ends of the SEO spectrum expertly.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Elsie esq. Pay-for-performance?

Jeff is speaking about winning strategies with pay-for-performance on Wednesday, February 18th at 4.00pm and on Thursday, February 19th at 2.15pm discussing affiliate and search marketing.

We caught up with him before the SES conference in London for a quick Q and A.

1. What does your daily media diet consist of?

MarketingChartsHigh Rankings AdvisorMarketingVOXPaidContent.orgAdAge DailyIAB SmartBriefSearch Engine Watch SearchDay

2. Would you say you prefer doing online marketing for start up companies or established brands?

Both have their challenges that make them uniquely fun. With start up companies, there’s the thrill of not only pulling together the campaign, but establishing the brand as a whole. Plus there’s the initial fight against the entrenched competitors. For established brands, it’s all about making things more efficient while moving things forward. I know some fellow marketers that only thrive in one environment or the other and will either avoid start ups or run from one once it matures because they know their work is done there.

3. What new online marketing ideas are getting you excited in 2009? And how will you be implementing them to improve Napster?Excited?

LOL, none! There are a lot of newer things that we’re trying at Napster this year in the social media space (FacebookTwitter, etc.) and we’re always trying new strategies in paid search, affiliate, etc., but I’ve been doing this long enough that I rarely get excited about the truly new things until I know they’re going to make it to a half million UVs.

4. Who in the digital marketing world never fails to inspire you?

Kevin Ryan (Search Engine Watch) is a long time friend and mentor of mine in this business and I still read his stuff every week like I’ve never met the man in person. Cindy Krum (Rank-Mobile) is newer to the scene, but is really impressive to watch on a variety of subjects from SEO to Mobile to Net Neutrality.

5. How do you think SEO is likely to be affected by the global economic downturn and is Napster developing/implementing any specific strategies to counter-act the recession doom and gloom?

What I think we’ll see happen is the use of SEO strategies increase significantly in larger organizations during these economically tough times because SEO results are basically a “free” form of media. I get flak from time to time when I say SEO is “free” because there are obviously costs in time, labor, etc. to develop these strategies, even if you do it in house. However, I’m referring to the fact that it doesn’t cost on CPC basis like paid search and it’s a great way to fill in a lot of gaps in your search campaign without laying down a lot of money.

Unfortunately, what I think we’ll also see happen is that a lot of small businesses will suffer from this expansion by the larger organizations. Right now, CMOs and VPs of Marketing are looking to wring all the juice they can out of their marketing budgets, or worse, cut it back and still get the same levels as they saw last year, so they’re going to start reaching into their bag of tricks for the strategies that they just haven’t touched yet. When they do, you’ll see a lot more competition in those organic results and suddenly those little businesses that carved out an organic niche will be battling the big guys.

Napster tackled SEO before the announcements of the recession really hit the news, so we were already starting to see some success from our early efforts. Right now, we’re reaching out into some other areas for the first time, like social media, and revisiting some other areas that we’ve written off previously because we couldn’t get them to work with a positive ROI.

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