9 things we’re proud of, embarrassed about & otherwise excited to share

April 8, 2017

Launching a new website is a painful and simultaneously awesome experience. We’re fired up to introduce our brand new digital home — and equally excited to share a few of the things we discovered in the process of building it. So here we go.

Building a badass team isn’t easy

Let’s start with one of theRead more…

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Launching a new website is a painful and simultaneously awesome experience. We’re fired up to introduce our brand new digital home — and equally excited to share a few of the things we discovered in the process of building it. So here we go.

Building a badass team isn’t easy

Let’s start with one of the challenges: recruiting. As I think about our team, one thing is clear. I personally made a lot of mistakes getting here. I’m very proud of Clever Zebo’s current talent, but there were so many promising interviews that turned into excruciating, crash-and-burn “test runs” at working together. It’s embarrassing just how bad I am at using a series of interviews and writing samples to predict how successful a new team member will be. We inevitably warm up new recruits each quarter who won’t make it. And that’s usually my fault.

Breaking up is hard to do

If you’re familiar with Clever Zebo, you know that Josh and Igor were partners from the beginning. You might also know that Josh is a brilliant, dynamic individual with a great many interests and talents — which is why it may not surprise you to learn that Josh made the difficult decision to part ways with the Zebo and pursue other projects this year.

It was a new experience for both of us, having never negotiated the exit from a business before. It didn’t come easy at first. There were disagreements and open questions. We took great care in working out a solution to every problem with professionalism and respect. I’m proud to say that our friendship remains strong. And in fact, this very style of heartfelt blog post to accompany a big development at Clever Zebo is signature Josh — I’m merely borrowing from his playbook.

Defining what we do better than anyone else

Many agencies open their doors with a bit of an identity crisis, and we were no different. During the website refresh, we had to think hard about which areas of our expertise have evolved and what we’re the best at. It’s nice to confirm that, yes, paid search and paid social are core strengths. We also continue to take on marketing automation projects. Fresh creative talent has enabled us to take on more conversion-centric landing page and website creation in 2017. Now it feels more clear than ever what we do as an agency.

Our core values remain intact

In 2011, we set out to build a business that reflected who we are as humans. We wanted to value honesty, integrity, great service, a focus on measurable results and a work-life balance we could boast about. No matter how big the company became, we wanted to empower our entire team to travel and experience the best parts of life — especially when those parts were not work.

That’s why we’re a remote company without a centralized office or a requirement for “face time.”

Six years later, it’s clear that experiment has improved and not stifled productivity.

The website refresh forced us to confront who we are. It feels really good to discover that Clever Zebo is the company we set out to be.

Our reporting got smarter in 2017

I’m ashamed to tell you that until recently, our highly sophisticated reporting dashboard for each client was built as a spreadsheet in Google Sheets.

We’re not total idiots; it’s just that no out-of-the-box reporting solution met all of our clients’ needs. We had high standards, and made the decision to customize a report for every client just how we like it.

In Q1 we found our metric-laden Prince Charming, if you will. We introduced a new reporting technology that’s flexible and always 100% accurate. Boredom among marketing analysts at Clever Zebo has decreased 99%. Clients are digging the new dashboards.

Some other things we’re proud of

  • Our first-ever client is still with us
  • Several of our past clients re-hired us in 2017, which we take as a huge compliment
  • We helped an apparel company lift sales from Facebook Ads by 530%
  • We’ve learned from, vetted and tested several new ad platforms and exchanges in 2017; the advertising playbook continues to grow

Ok, yes. We do sometimes enjoy tooting our own horn. Who doesn’t? But we wanted to get this post in front of you to share how we’re feeling about the business these days.

Creating our new home online was a humbling experience. Getting all the details right always seems to take more time, patience and attention than my team and I expect. There were challenges and frustrations. But the process has also provided an opportunity for reflection and gratitude. Thanks for ruminating on the journey with us.

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What we’ve learned so far about Facebook Lead Ads

May 6, 2016

Have you tested out Facebook Lead Ads yet?

We’ve been running some campaigns, and I wanted to share what we’ve learned so far.

Launched in late 2015, Lead Ads are very young on the Facebook platform, so we expect (or at least hope for) this to change and improve rapidly.

So far, here’s what we observe as a user in terms of benefits & shortcomings.

Benefits of Facebook Lead Ads

  • All extensive targeting options available (lookalike audiences,Read more…
Read more...

Have you tested out Facebook Lead Ads yet?

We’ve been running some campaigns, and I wanted to share what we’ve learned so far.

Launched in late 2015, Lead Ads are very young on the Facebook platform, so we expect (or at least hope for) this to change and improve rapidly.

So far, here’s what we observe as a user in terms of benefits & shortcomings.

Benefits of Facebook Lead Ads

  • All extensive targeting options available (lookalike audiences, demo targeting etc)
  • Simple to set up & customize
  • Decent reach / impressions
  • Very reasonable cost per lead, often ranging $7-22 CPL
  • Quality seems okay, i.e. not seeing an influx of “junk leads”

Shortcomings of Facebook Lead Ads

  • Impossible to export leads to CRM or other relevant systems without custom API work or integration tools like Zapier. You have to go to your Facebook Company Page, download a .csv file containing your leads, and do what you will with that file. Sheesh.
  • Only rigid form options available so far, e.g. no ability to define a custom call to action (must choose from phrases like “Learn More” or “Sign Up” etc)
  • Clunky UI. For example, lead forms cannot be edited or changed at all once they’re built. Marketers can only delete & create new forms, making for a messy ad management experience.

Seems like they needed to launch this thing in a hurry. At the time of writing, the above drawbacks hindered Lead Ads from being a truly powerful and mature contributor to our clients’ digital marketing programs.

Tip: if you need to push Facebook Leads into your CRM (e.g. Salesforce) or into your email marketing software (e.g. MailChimp), a fantastic tool that helps marketers hook these systems together with no need for a developer’s help is Zapier. Check it out.

No, it’s not a sponsored plug — I’m just a fan of the tool. You will be, too.

The alternative is getting your technical team elbows-deep in Facebook API documentation. Nobody wants that.

So far, Lead Ads are a promising new feature. We’ll look for this to evolve into a more customizable/flexible solution in the near future.

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[Podcast] How to overcome the Google AdWords performance plateau

October 23, 2015

There comes a point for every search engine marketer when a set of campaigns becomes well-enough optimized that its performance is satisfactory, but every additional optimization seems to yield diminishing returns. I’m dubbing this the “AdWords plateau.”

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Unbounce’s talented producers and content curators, Dan Levy and Stephanie Saretsky, on this topic. If you’re keen for some tips on how to push past the plateau and infuse yourRead more…

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There comes a point for every search engine marketer when a set of campaigns becomes well-enough optimized that its performance is satisfactory, but every additional optimization seems to yield diminishing returns. I’m dubbing this the “AdWords plateau.”

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Unbounce’s talented producers and content curators, Dan Levy and Stephanie Saretsky, on this topic. If you’re keen for some tips on how to push past the plateau and infuse your campaigns with fresh AdWords management strategies, I recommend giving this 18-minute podcast a listen.

In this podcast, you will learn:

  • Bidding strategies that go beyond keyword & adgroup level optimization
  • The pros & pitfalls of ad extensions
  • What it really takes to build a landing page that earns visitors’ trust

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