Mandy Karimi Of The James Agency On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Desire to learn — Digital marketing is always changing, so you have to be open for continued education all the time.
Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.
In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mandy Karimi.
Mandy Karimi is Media Director at The James Agency. Mandy is responsible for leading strategy and execution across all paid media channels. With more than 10 years of industry experience, she brings an insightful understanding of the diverse media landscape to every conversation. Mandy leads the team in collaborating with new and old media partners to ensure The James Agency offers the latest and greatest, in terms of media placements and targeting for our clients. In addition to leading the paid media team, Mandy also oversees organic social media and research efforts within TJA. When she’s not making money moves, she’s either at home loving on her two dogs or out swinging a tennis racket.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I kind of fell into a job with Clear Channel Radio, before it became iHeart Radio. I quickly became passionate about all things advertising and after a few years on the radio side I moved agency side and never looked back. I had the privilege of having some really great mentors along the way that encouraged me, pushed me to learn new things and helped me course correct if I got it wrong.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
A silly mistake I made early on was for a client’s project that I really didn’t believe in. Without too many details, the client had an idea for something that seemed a little too good to be true, and I just didn’t see the project coming to life. I stalled on putting together the plan as long as I could, and when I presented to the client, they could tell that it wasn’t my best work. Luckily the client was nice enough to not tear me apart, but they weren’t happy with what was presented and I wasn’t happy with it either. After more conversation with the client I was able to change my perspective and got another shot at presenting. This is not always the case but this taught me very quickly to be more open with the clients and make sure I’m getting a clear understanding of their project before starting it and not being afraid to ask more questions along the way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
At my last agency I had an amazing Media Director, Bridgette Foord. She taught me a real foundation for media planning that I still utilize today and also always encouraged my questions, to both clients and media vendors.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Transparency. Many, many times we have sat with new clients that had zero idea how much was being spent on different channels, what was being considered a conversion and ultimately how the campaigns were performing.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Curiosity/desire to know things — My team jokes that I am the “fact checker” because I’m always researching something, whether it’s the origin of a popular phrase, a random fact thrown out at the lunch table or really digging into how media platforms really work.
Perseverance — When I started out in agency life, I didn’t always get to work on the fun projects or even the fun tasks. There were a lot of administrative duties that I had to learn how to do first, but learning those and pushing to learn more eventually paid off making it to a Media Director position.
Listener — I enjoy hearing people talk about the things that matter to them, and hear their thoughts on important (and unimportant) things. I’m often seen as the quiet one in a group setting, but I like to think that makes people pay more attention to the things I say when I speak up.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
One campaign that we’re currently working on is Wishes For Teachers with our client, Fiesta Bowl Charities. They invite Arizona public and charter school teachers (K-12) to submit for a $2,500 grant to better the school experience for their students. This is the third year we’re working on this campaign, and I love having a small part in improving the school experience for students across our whole state.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.
- Not having clear goals — If you don’t have a clear destination how will you know when you get there?
- Not having clear conversions — When onboarding new clients that had existing ad accounts, we start with an audit. It’s always interesting to see things like “time on site” or “pages per session” be the conversions on campaigns when the client is very clearly wanting people to sign up for an email list or has the availability to purchase something on the website.
- Not having a plan for incoming leads — I had a client who swore we weren’t producing enough quality leads, but we could see in the platform we were driving a lot of calls. In order to see what was happening we implemented CallRail. We quickly found out it the client’s call center was only answering about 10% of the calls driven from the campaigns. Once they were able to pinpoint what was happening in the call center and got more of the calls answered they started getting customers from our campaigns.
If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.
4 things you always need to know before starting your campaigns:
- Flight Dates
- Target Audience
When it comes to choosing media channels, I believe it’s important to “fill the funnel” and make sure you have something that is touching users in each part of the marketing funnel — and remember not everything has to be paid media. If your client is active with public relations efforts, organic social posting and email marketing, be sure to consider those in your funnel approach.
Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?
In my experience, Google AdWords remains the best platform. We’ve seen some success on Microsoft Ads (Bing) but it is not as scalable as Google.
Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?
- Goals and KPIs — it’s important to have some KPIs in place, as it may take a little time to hit the real goal of the campaign. The KPIs will help you determine if you’re on the right path.
- Keywords — You need not only a great list to start with, but also need to be prepared to tweak it along the way.
- Plan for Daily Monitoring — Make sure you have time every day to check in on your accounts. You likely won’t need to make sizable changes every day, but ensuring you are actively monitoring the campaigns will keep you from blowing your budget without hitting your goals.
Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?
1. Keep your audience engaged with A/B tests, whether it’s subject lines, type of content or use of images.
2. Clean your list — Have a regular schedule for cleaning out people that don’t engage with your emails.
3. Have a clear goal of what you’re trying to accomplish with email and optimize accordingly.
What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?
Not specific to digital marketing, but the number one digital tool I’m a fan of is Grammarly. It has saved me so many times!
More specific to digital marketing, all are Google Chrome extensions:
- Ghostery — Helps you see all the trackers on a website.
- GoFullPage — A full page screenshot extension that’s great for capturing long website pages.
- Tag Assistant — Specific to Google Tag Manager and seeing what is/isn’t firing without launching preview mode for GTM.
Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Desire to learn — Digital marketing is always changing, so you have to be open for continued education all the time.
- Take the time to really learn how Google Analytics, or another analytics platform works.
- Understand your client’s customer journey. There can be little nuggets that change how you set up or run campaigns knowing the path a consumer will go down.
- Don’t be afraid of testing — Testing new platforms, different creative, etc. — but also have a back up plan if things don’t go well.
- Be ready to teach — This goes for teaching other team members as well as clients. Be ready to bring people along in the process.
What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I read a lot of blogs or digital publications regularly including Think with Google, Facebook, AdWeek and DigiDay.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to see an environment where we can have constructive conversations around things that failed — the plans that seemed like such great ideas but then burst into flames for one reason or another. Failure can be the best teacher, not just for the person that it didn’t work for but also for others. Or, others might be able to spot where things started going wrong and offer more insights for another test.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Visit www.thejamesagency.com for agency insights on marketing trends, or follow us on social media at @thejamesagency on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!