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Rich Brooks Answers Your Pressing Marketing Questions
The Agents of Change

If you missed the recent TwitterChat that RIch Brooks recently hosted – or have no idea what a  Twitter Chat is – you missed out on a ton of valuable information. Luckily he has taken a sampling of that chat, as well as other questions he hears often, and answered them here for you. 

You can get expert tips on topics such as how to build your email list, how to respond to the haters, are Facebook ads better than Google AdWords, effective ways to utilize Google Analytics and even why attending conferences in person is so beneficial.


So maybe before I just jump into the TwitterChat mailbag, I should explain what a TwitterChat is, maybe you don’t know.

If you’ve got the time, I strongly recommend you check out the interview I did with Madalyn Sklar, who runs #TwitterSmarter, which is a great TwitterChat about Twitter. She was on Episode 190 so you can check that out at theagentsofchange.com/190. But the short version is, it is a conversation on Twitter usually around a specific hashtag. In our case it was #AOCchat. She runs one called #TwitterSmarter, there’s ones about beer, and knitting, and just about any subject that you can think of there is a TwitterChat about it. They usually take place at a specific time and for a specific period of time. Sometimes there are experts who chime in, sometimes it’s just like a general conversation, but it’s an easy way to follow that conversation by following that hashtag.

So the way that we ran it based on – I took a lot of my ideas form Madalyn, and when I say “took a lot”, I mean stole – we posed a series of questions, Q1 – Q12, and when people responded they answered with A1 – A12 so we know what answer goes with what question, because sometimes people are still answering the first question when the second or even the third question come along. So this way you can kind of keep track of the conversation.

For today I’m just going to pull a few of the questions that we went over and just try to answer them in more than 140 characters. 


 Q: What’s your best tip for building your email list?

A: This was a question I asked specifically because I knew we had a lot of different marketing experts who each have their own little silo of what they’re good at, whether it’s Pinterest, or LinkedIn, or Instagram, or SEO. But almost everybody I know who does any kind of marketing is all about building their list.

For me, I think my favorite way – or my most effective way – of building my list is when I put on webinars. Yes, I don’t put on nearly enough webinars, but I found that when I come up with a really good topic and develop some content around it and then offer it for free, I get 50-100 sign ups. Often these people are first-time and maybe haven’t heard of me any other way, or Facebook ads, or whatever the case is. But once we put on this webinar they have to sign up for, and part of signing up for it is joining our list. So I just found that webinars are an excellent way of building our list.

And another one is just tying into our contact form. So we just have a link at the bottom of the flyte new media and Agents of Change forms that basically just say, “Would you like to get our free regular email newsletter?” We don’t pre-check this, we don’t want to surprise anyone with emails that they didn’t think they were going to get, but we ask the question and we let them take the desired action. The bottom line is, if somebody is filling out our contact form and they are interested in talking to us, whether it’s about flyte new media as a digital agency or Agents of Change as a resource, chances are they probably want to get some content from us as well on a regular basis, otherwise why are they reaching out.  

So once they sign up then we’re able to stay in contact with them, and those two are my favorite two tips for building your email list.


Q: Facebook ads or Google AdWords, and why?

A: I have to say, it’s an unfair question. The true answer is, it depends, But the better answer is, you really should be doing both and testing to see which one is more effective. One of the things that I’ve gotten into the habit of saying more recently is, “Best practices don’t always equal best results”, and that’s why we have to measure everything.

Facebook ads I love because of the targeting. It’s just crazy how targeted you can get on your Facebook ads. Obviously all the things like gender and age, but also I can target if people are planning to move in the next 6 months. Or I can get in front of people that like Social Media Examiner if I want to advertise to people to come to my conference. Or if I’m selling high end real estate on the Maine coast that I can target people who like Downeast Magazine who live on the east coast and have more than $200,000 a year in income.

There’s just so many different ways that I can advertise to people, plus I can take my email list and upload it to Facebook and either advertise to those people, advertise to people like those people, it’s just a very powerful tool. And even though the price has been going up dramatically over the past couple of years for the Facebook ads, the bottom line is, it’s still pretty cost effective in terms of generating leads and getting conversions.

I can speak from experience. We’ve been doing a lot of Facebook ads this year for the Agents of Change Conference and that’s been great for us and I definitely want to continue that next year, hopefully the process will still be reasonable.

So that’s great, but the problem with Facebook ads – and social ads in general – on some level it’s a little bit of an interruption. People weren’t necessarily looking to see my ad for Agents of Change, they were looking to see what their friends and family have been up to. So it’s like I know that you are this kind of person, but I don’t know if you’re looking for what I’m offering. So that’s a little bit of a challenge.

On the other hand you have Google AdWords. What I love about Google AdWords is, yeah they tend to be a little more expensive, but when people are searching for something, there is your response. So the bottom line is whether someone is looking for “accounting services” or “home builder” or “white water rafting trip”. I know that I can get right in front of them if I’m just willing to bid enough on Google AdWords.

One interesting thing that we did a couple years ago, we were working with a Golf and Stay company and we ran both Facebook ads for them and Google AdWords. And we found that the Facebook ads were just significantly less expensive to get somebody on the phone with one of their representatives. And we were all excited about this and we thought we saved them so much money if we just switched everything for them over to Facebook ads. And then they got back to us – and we had been tracking this all the way through – it turns out that the Google AdWords leads converted such a higher level than the Facebook ads do, that at the end of the day, the cost of acquisition was basically the same. So yeah, the leads were cheaper on Facebook, but they weren’t as effective.

No I’m not saying that’s going to be true for your business, because you may find out that your Facebook ads perform at a much higher level and convert at a much higher level. And this is again why we have to be doing these testing sort of things.

So what I would recommend is run both Facebook ads and Google Ads, because these days you have to be spending money on advertising. There is just almost no two ways about it. Spend money on both and don’t just track for the cost per lead, but also track for the cost per acquisition. And you should really have a clear idea on what is the lifetime value of your customer. If you don’t know that off the top of your head, that’s something that you should work through.

That’s actually a conversation we’ve been having here at flyte between me and my Director of Business Development, Amanda O’Brien. Not just getting our own in line, but also helping our clients and even our prospects just kind of figure out what’s the lifetime value of a customer. Because if you don’t know that, then you have no idea what you should be spending on your marketing and your advertising.

So to answer the question, “Facebook ads or Google AdWords?”, the answer is, “Yes”.

Q: How do you respond to haters and trolls on social media?

A: Now this is a tricky question. I remember years ago when I was putting on a conference that was a precursor to Agents of Change – that we called Social Media FTW – and there was somebody in town who all of a sudden started attacking us anonymously about what a stupid conference we had and who did we think we are putting on an event like this and what did we know to teach anybody else.

And I remember one of my partners was visibly upset and couldn’t deal with the fact that anybody would attack us. And I remember saying at that point, “No, this is actually good.” The bottom line is, we’re making a difference and obviously someone is taking offense to the fact that other people are listening to us and paying attention. If no one is upset with you, you’re probably not doing anything important. And that’s kind of how I reframed it in my own mind and hopefully helped her through it, too.

As far as how I generally deal with haters and trolls on social media, I just ignore them. It’s super difficult to ignore, you see what they’re saying and you want to know how wrong they are and you want to point out everything wrong – plus they spelled “lose” as “loose” – and it’s aggravating to you because you’re an English major. But the bottom line is, you just really need to ignore these people as much as possible.

I’m not talking about people that have a legitimate complaint about your business, that’s a completely different thing. For that I think you reach out to that person and you take the conversation offline and say, “I’m sorry, that’s not the way we usually do business, here’s my personal email or my cell phone #, let’s figure this out together.” And just get that conversation offline with the one exception that you’re showing people that you take complaints seriously.

The trolls and the haters are out there just trying to tear people down because they haven’t done anything really important or significant. And what they really want and crave is visibility, and they’re going to get that visibility from you because you’re probably a bigger deal than they are. Very few trolls have ever gone after somebody that is less visible than they are themselves. This is how they get visibility and notoriety, and the best that you can do is just ignore them.

Now if they’re saying something that’s racist or homophobic, that might be a different situation. But in general, the safest thing I found to do is just ignore them. I actually had somebody who was basically a hater come up to me afterwards after I had ignored them – but a couple of other people had jumped on him – and said, “I gained a little respect for you there, Rich, because you didn’t take the bait and everyone else did.” And it was difficult for me not to respond to the initial comments, but this is really what it takes. And if you’re trying to build something and you’re trying to grow something, know that you’re going to attract haters and recognize that as an early sign of your success.


Now not all the questions that I put together made the cut in the Top 12 questions. So I kind of wanted to pull one of the honorable mention questions.


Q: What popular platform do you wish you were better at and why?

A: For me the answer has to be Pinterest. I look at Pinterest and it’s just not my natural habitat. It’s not just because it started off as something that was more for women than for men, or at least women were more attuned to it than men are. And it wasn’t the act that it’s more a place where a lot of wedding planning and recipes go on and that’s really not my scene either, at least not at this. I just don’t really get it and I wish I did because I see the benefits of it.

I’m a big fan these days of social ads, and I know they have their promoted pins. I wish I just had the time to sit down and really start to explore more Pinterest and see if it’s got a place in the marketing for flyte and Agents. We have pin boards for flyte and we have pin boards for Agents and I probably have an account of my own out there somewhere.

But that is definitely a platform that I just see myself not super strong in. I’m wondering what would be yours. What is your platform that you just don’t get and you wish you did, you wish you knew it better or you wish you could leverage it more to drive more traffic to your website, drive more sales from it? If you have an answer for that, hit me up at @therichbrooks on Twitter. Just let me know what yours is, feel free you can tag it with the hashtag #AOC chat, or you can just let me know.


Q: How do you use your Google Analytics, what reports do you read?

A: Actually I think that’s a great question, I just ultimately decided it wasn’t one that you can answer in 140 characters or less.

I try and use my Google Analytics at least once a week. And when I say I use it, I mean go to it and check out the reports. I’m not always as good as I should be, but one of my favorite reports is… now first of all, to get to this report you have to connect your search console to your Google Analytics, and that will unlock a number of reports that are normally only in search console.

Now as you may know, Google has started to hide a lot of the keywords from our reports. Years ago they would tell us literally every single keyword and what traffic it drove to specific pages on our website. It more or less doesn’t do that anymore, it has taken away almost all that data from us because they don’t want us focused solely on keywords they want us focused on a bunch of other things and providing value for our customers, etc. They’re still providing some information for us that gives us a sense of how well we’re ranking and what some of the opportunities are.

One of the reports that I go into is in “acquisition”, and then under “search console”. I open up “search console” and there’s 2 reports I like that work well together. One is called “Landing Pages”, the other is called “Queries”. And what I like about this report even though Google is starting to hide some of the information in this report too, is it gives you a sense of what some of the keywords that you’re ranking for are, how well you’re ranking for these keywords, how many times you’re appearing within those searches, and how much traffic you’re driving to your site. And with a little bit of reconfiguration, you can look at all of the keyword phrases that you appear for on page 2.

So once you know what words you appear for on page 2, you can set about trying to figure out how do I move to page 1. Because maybe you were already getting clicks on page 2, imagine how many more clicks you’re getting if you’re on page 1.

And even if you go and find these keyword phrases – whatever they may be for your business – that you’re on page 2 and you’re not getting any clicks for them, it almost doesn’t matter. If you can move from page 2 to page 1, you’re going to start to see 101, 50, 100 times the amount of visibility that you got on page 2.

So let’s say that your phrase was “rocks glasses”, and you’re #13 for “rocks glasses”, and this is something that you sell and you want to be known for and you want to sell a lot more rocks glasses. So you can figure out looking at the report in Landing Pages which page it is. You probably can figure it out anyways, but what you can also do is just open up a Google search perhaps – during an anonymous session – and just put in the term “rocks glasses” and see which of your pages shows up around #13, and then you know what page needs to be optimized.

And then you can go to that page and really see what are the missed opportunities for optimizing this page for “rocks glasses”? Should it be that the title should be tweaked, maybe you need to start your page title off with the word “rocks glasses”, maybe you are not using it in the header, maybe you don’t’ have a lot of body copy on this page, maybe you need to add more, maybe you need to talk about the history of rocks glasses.

Maybe you need to go to other pages on your website and link form those pages that are about “tumbler glasses” and “ale glasses” and all link over to the “rocks glasses” page using the term “rocks glasses” or something similar. Maybe you need to write some blog posts answering some of the most commonly asked questions about rocks glasses, and the first time in those rocks glasses posts you link over to the page where you’re selling your rocks glasses.

Those are all steps that you can take to increase the search engine ranking of that page and move from page 2 to page 1. And again, you get that report by going into “Queries” and using the advanced filter to look for results that appear on result #11 or higher. So that’s going to give you some sense and really show you some opportunities so you can rank higher and start driving more qualified traffic to your website. 


Ok, let’s do one last question. And this was a question that I asked as part of the #AOCchat.


 Q: What’s your favorite thing about in-person conferences?

A: Obviously this is an obvious lead up to the Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, but I also thought it was an important question to ask because I know a lot of people love going to conferences and  other people don’t see the value.

I would say that my favorite thing about in-person conferences is just making connections to people who I have never met in real life, or met maybe once but we know each other primarily through social media.

There is nothing like meeting somebody, shaking their hand, breaking bread with them, having a drink with them if you’re that kind of person, at an event. It really makes everything much more real. I also enjoy meeting the speakers and sometimes getting an opportunity to take a picture with them, or have a conversation with them, and just getting to know them as a person when maybe you’ve only been listening to their podcast, or reading their blog post, or watching their videos. It’s still just not the same as being therein person and meeting them.

When you’re reading a blog post you can’t see all the other people who have read that blog post and gotten something out of it. When you’re listening to a podcast you’re probably in your car and you don’t know how many other hundreds or thousands of people are tuned into the same podcast whether right then or another time. But when you’re at that live event, you’re in a room with 10, 40, 400, 4,000 other people who are like you, inspired and passionate about the subject. And there’s a certain power to that and a certain empowering feeling that goes on when you’re surrounded by like-minded people who care about the subject. And that’s probably my favorite thing about being at a conference is just being surrounded by people who – in the case of the Agents of Change – want to get better at business, want to build their business using digital marketing and are passionate about social, search, and mobile marketing and making a connection with a client, and all those sort of things.

I find that to be incredibly exciting and I know that a lot of other people who regularly attend conferences do as well. And I guess I’ll leave it at that, that the reason I love conferences is to be surrounded by like-minded people who are equally passionate about something in the way that I am.


Well there were a lot more questions and answers than I just shared with you right now, but you can go to Twitter and go check out #AOCchat if you’d like to dig a little deeper.

Show Notes:

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine. He knows a thing or two about helping businesses grow by reaching their ideal customers, and to prove that, he puts on a yearly conference to inspire small businesses to achieve big success. You can also head on over to Twitter to check him out, and he just added “author” to his resume with his brand new book!