Although we love digital marketing and strategy, some content doesn’t quite fit into a nice little package.

Introducing Our Summer 2014 Interns

We are privileged to welcome two brilliant interns, Samantha Givens and Lukas Rees, to Evolve Digital Labs for the summer. Working closely with our Director of Business Solutions, Samantha and Lukas will be involved in many aspects of the success we deliver for clients. It is our hope that when they depart in August, they will have acquired valuable new skills and experiences, from navigating analytics to identifying opportunities for growth on a business’s website. Per usual, we interviewed the newcomers.

Meet Samantha Givens:

I am currently a rising Senior at Washington University in St. Louis studying Chemical Engineering and minoring in Writing. In the past few years, I have had internships in medicine and media which have afforded me a lot of insight into different fields. This summer I will be working as a Business Solutions Intern at Evolve, and I am absolutely elated.

What’s your favorite web site?

My favorite website would have to be BuzzFeed. It’s always fun to sit down and relax with your laptop and take pointless quizzes to round out your day. Also, a lot of the content is downright hilarious so I get a few extra laughs out and up my endorphins on the daily.

On a given weekend, you’ll probably be:

Watching Netflix in my PJs until about noon each day. I also enjoy hanging out with friends, trying out new restaurants, playing board games, and going on road trips to concerts or amusement parks during the weekends.

What draws you to this industry?

I’m really interested in learning more about business as I am an Engineering student. I feel like the business world has a lot to offer me, and I want to explore it.

Mac or PC?

A PC, most definitely a PC.

What’s the last book you read?

I recently read a Captain Underpants book to my little brother if that counts. However, for my own reading pleasure, I read Caught by Harlen Coben. He is one of my absolute favorite mystery/suspense authors.

If you could have a beverage with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Iron Man – no one said the person had to be real – I love Marvel comics, and Iron Man is my favorite superhero. It’d be awesome to just sit down and chill with the genius and hilarity that is Tony Stark.

Let’s say we assign you Office DJ duty. What 3 artists would you be sure to play?

I am a total sucker for country music so I would definitely have to play some Pistol Annies. Their music is so sassy and fun to listen to.

Though I do like country, I also love most other types of music as well, except metal. So the last two artists that I would choose would be Justin Nozuka, a super blues-y singer, and I love Muse, so I would throw some of that in two.

Is there anything you want us to know about you?

I detest peanut butter, love wearing my cowboy boots, and love to laugh.


Meet Lukas Rees:

I’m currently between my junior and senior year at Washington University in St. Louis studying Systems Engineering and Math. I’ve never been much of a true engineer, but I love working with analytics to drive strategic decision-making, which is definitely part of what drew me into the Business Solutions Intern role at Evolve. Very excited to join the team this summer!

What’s your favorite web site?

If that’s determined by time spent on the site I’d have to say Reddit or

On a given weekend, you’ll probably be:

Biking and brunching are the two big necessities for me.

What draws you to this industry?

I love the newness and the uncertainty that comes with working in a rapidly changing industry like internet marketing. It’s also a ton of fun to see online activity through a very different lens than what I’m used to.

Mac or PC?


What’s the last book you read?

In the middle of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

If you could have a beverage with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Trent Reznor.

Let’s say we assign you Office DJ duty. What 3 artists would you be sure to play?

El Ten Eleven, Smith Westerns, Disclosure

Is there anything you want us to know about you?

Coffee is the way to my heart.

Meet Aaron Stevens

This week, we are proud to introduce Aaron Stevens as our new Senior Digital Strategist. His experience in conversion optimization and search marketing will help us continue to lead clients to success online. We are elated to have Aaron on board; the team is sure to benefit from his unique know-how. Read on to learn more about Aaron’s background and interests.

Tell us about yourself.

I went to University of Missouri – Columbia and received a BA in computer science.  Cut my teeth at Monster Commerce/Network Solutions learning the basics of ecommerce conversion optimization and SEO helping hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses with their online marketing efforts. In 2010 I decided to take a chance at a small digital agency, aThe Loud Few,a eventually purchased by Moosylvania, a larger advertising/promotions agency located in St. Louis. There I was lucky enough to get some great experience contributing to digital strategies and heading search marketing and analytics for some amazing brands like Enterprise CarShare, Balance Bar, Cutter, Sapporo, Cohiba and Bacardi.

Most recently I led the marketing team at CrowdSource, a workforce as a service startup in Illinois, where we rebuilt a brand, created some great sales collateral and launched some awesome websites like and

On a given weekend, you will probably be:

Most likely attempting some DIY project, brewing beer or just spending time with family and friends.

What draws you to this industry?

I’ve always been very technology-oriented. I am nerd when it comes to having to know how things work, and I love solving problems. One of the most gratifying moments was on a Purina project where we had a campaign, “The Great Pet Debate,” where we influenced the nation to “vote cats” or “vote dogs” during the 2012 presidential election. Our team was able to watch how our fairly minor updates to the voting experience doubled conversion rates and ultimately helped us achieve our goals.

Mac or PC?

Mac – PC until a few years ago.

What is the last book you read?

I read the first few pages of the first Game of Thrones book…then I concluded I like the show better. I think Prey by Michael Crichton was the last one I finished.

If you could have a beverage with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Neil Degrasse Tyson or Richard Dawkins

Say we assign you Office DJ duty. What 3 artists would you be sure to play?

Well this week it might be The Bright Light Social Hour, Gary Clark Jr. and the Allman Brothers.

Is there anything else you want us to know about you?

Love to cook and BBQ, watch movies, obsess about cars and hoard tools.


Find Aaron on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Is Your Hospital Website Patient Centric?

Learn how some of America’s top hospitals fall short in delivering on patients’ online expectations and how it affects your hospital’s ROI. Download the full report – Aligning Patient Needs with Online Capabilities – today.

What we found…

  • 49% of the top hospitals lack a mobile-friendly website
  • Only 1 out of 5 offers online pre-registration for appointments
  • 67% fail to offer online rehab and aftercare information

Read the full report to evaluate what is preventing your own hospital’s marketing efforts from achieving a greater return on investment from your website.

Click to view our report.


Why I no longer run a search marketing agency

If it were exclusively up to me, I would still be the President of Evolve Digital Labs, a premier search marketing agency. The one I started and helped build. From one person to fourteen amazing people.

But we do not always get to choose what happens personally or professionally. So true to our name, change is expected and inevitable.

Today, I lead an organization focused on online growth and digital innovation.

If the accepted science is correct, and we do completely shed ourselves inside and out every seven years, then the change is appropriate. I am no longer interested in decoding an algorithm. I know that success is not found in search engine rankings alone. Keywords have never been as simple as a data point. It is not enough to focus on lead generation. Instead, I want to lead this generation of change. As blue collars dissipate and the starkness of white collars unforthcoming, a new assembly line and asset management is needed. I have been challenged and changed by those with whom I share an illustrious responsibility and connection.

Now, the focus is on the consumers of the world and their needs. Empowering the customer through data and search is the beginning.

Yes, search. Search is a consumer centric channel. The consumer vehicle four out of five online sessions include. Search is more than Google and Google is more than search. Google is an innovation platform. They redefined how we hear the voice of the customer. The outcome is their focus. The value comes to the consumer and the business through behavior, not descriptions. We do not only understand it, we embrace and promote it.

We will continue to help companies be found. We will continue to connect our clients with the right customer and the customer with the power to get the job done. We do not relinquish our rights nor refute the need to improve a brand’s digital assets. Yes we mine keywords, we use the data of the consumer online provide by search & social giants. The change is how we evaluate the market and select the customer and the confidence in what is necessary to invest.

  • There is a need to deliver a marketplace assessment a online. 
  • There is a need to build a strategic framework for profitable and scalable growth. 
  • There is a need to improve and innovate the results of a consumers experience online. 

Evolve Digital Labs is proving the value of a new model for growth online. I stand proudly on the backs of the brilliant and dedicated people who built a new meaning to our name. It is through our superior people and process that we have leveraged technology to provide services that far exceed those of a search marketing company.

I am one of the lucky ones. I wake up feeling privileged and I fall asleep from mental exhaustion, because every day I am challenged by the people around me and the problems we are paid to solve. The work, to me, is necessary. It fills my heart and keeps it beating while my children attend school and my wife improves the world one trialed family and adolescent at a time. The connection I feel to my professional responsibilities, my staff, clients and partners amazes me.

To all involved, thank you and welcome.

Ben Cook Joins Team Evolve

We are pleased to tell you about the newest addition to our growing team. Ben Cook is our new Director of Organic Channels, and his role here will involve working heavily in the Strategy and Growth stages for clients.

Tell us a little about your background.

I started in Internet Marketing almost a decade ago (wow that makes me feel old). I quickly realized that this career path offered me a lot more opportunities than the history degree I was pursuing and ended up dropping out. I started out in-house with smaller companies, moved over to Network Solutions where I was the SEO manager and then formed my own boutique agency Direct Match Media. After 3 years of running that, Derek talked me into joining the team.

What’s your favorite web site?

Twitter is pretty great but that seems like a cop-out answer. My favorite single site would probably have to be although itas no longer updated and is now simply is pretty great too.

On a given weekend, you’ll probably be:

Watching the Cardinals or Blues, BBQing, and generally spending time with my wife.

What draws you to this industry?

Marketing as a whole is kind of like mind-control which seems cool. Internet marketing, specifically SEO, is an ever changing puzzle which really appeals to me. I also like that the web gives anyone and everyone a platform.

Mac or PC?

Definitely Mac.

What’s the last book you read?

For fun: The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell
For work: Brainfluence by Roger Dooley

If you could have a beverage with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Past: My Grandpa Cook
Present: The President

Let’s say we assign you Office DJ duty (and that day will come). What 3 artists would you be sure to play?

- The Postal Service
– Really been a big fan of Imagine Dragons lately
– And then I’d probably go with something a bit older like Jethro Tull
– Oh, totally forgot They Might Be Giants! Iad probably play them too (that’s 4 but rules are made to be broken).

Is there anything you want us to know about you?

Nothing that I can think of off the top of my head. I’m a pretty wide open book and tell it like it is (or at least how I see it).

With the addition of Ben to the team, we are excited to continue refining the way we strategize and deliver success for our clients. Ben’s extraordinary knowledge and experience in organic growth will positively impact our clients and personal brand. Find Ben on LinkedIn and Twitter.

He will be speaking about Content Distribution next week at PubCon New Orleans, so make sure to tune into the #PubCon hashtag on Tuesday afternoon to follow the presentation.

Not Provided Podcast: The Future of SEO as a Revenue Opportunity

This week, Derek was excited to join the guys on the Not Provided Podcast, a podcast covering social media, SEO, and all things digital marketing. We met Damon Gochneaur, one of the hosts, at State of Search 2013.

The topic of the podcast, The Future of SEO as a Revenue Opportunity, expanded on our presentation at State of Search and focused on several things including the evolution of SEO as an industry.

The podcast covers:

  • What to expect after clients rank #1 for their search terms a where does the relationship go from there? Learn why SEO as an industry must evolve and how Evolve Digital Labs transitioned to become a partner to our clients a focusing on business objectives such as outcomes and growth, rather than rankings.
  • How to create a common language between online marketing and business operations, and how to apply the tactics of SEO for business growth.
  • Why Evolve focuses on health care as an industry, and the specific challenges and opportunities that come with health care marketing.

Check out the podcast to learn all these things and more a and a special thanks to Not Provided for inviting us to join the show this week.

Follow Not Provided on Twitter for updates on future shows.

Effective Budget Flighting

One of the most evident advantages of pay-per-click advertising is the ability to control how much of a budget is spent over short periods. If your campaign or ad messaging fails to deliver the expected volume of clicks, you can easily pause a campaign or adjust the spend to prevent wasting more dollars on ineffective marketing.

One means of regulating your media spend is effective budget flighting. Budget flighting simply means you allocate more media dollars in specific time frames than others. The strategy behind flighting is often based on seasonality or product offerings a such as special pricing or promotions. By matching the volume of advertising spend to reflect the fluctuation of searches, you can control the effectiveness of your budget.

When should you flight your budget?

You probably are already aware of which months make up your “busy season.” But how can you know if there are other opportunities for you to take advantage of? Often times, keyword research can provide insight into the patterns of search volume for a topic or term.

The health care sector, can serve as a good flighting advertising example. Advertisers often encounter seasonality for certain treatments or procedures. Last year, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that searches related to mental illnesses follow seasonal patterns, indicating the severity of seasonal affective disorder. Industry research and knowledge such as this should be applied to online strategy.

How to strategically flight your media budget

To learn how you should flight your budget, it is important to look at a few different metrics in analytics.

  • Return on Investment: The months of the year that yield the highest return on investment for products or services should direct how you flight the budget. Your brand should invest the highest amounts of budget in months where the ROI is at the highest. Always look at the big picture before finalizing a flighting plan. Some months may deliver a high lead volume, for instance, but the leads convert at a lower rate than other months. This example indicates that though interest is high in these months, the purchase intent is low.
  • Lead to Acquisition (LTA): The rate at which you convert leads into acquisitions is another key metric to digest and factor into budget flighting. If this rate is low, you may be driving unqualified leads to your site and adjustments should be made. This will also help you understand how many leads you need to drive in order to hit acquisition and revenue goals.
  • Cost Per Lead (CPL): To weigh the effectiveness of your campaign, you need to divide the number of leads you acquired by the amount you’ve spent. You will probably notice that some months yield much higher CPLs than others. With this information in mind, you should reallocate your PPC budget.
  • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Similar to CPL, look at how much are you spending to acquire a new customer. This number will probably fluctuate throughout the year, so a best practice is to flight your budget to ensure you arenat overspending media dollars during periods of slow acquisition. You must also understand what your LTV (lifetime value of a customer) is in order to determine what an acceptable CPA is for your organization.

Understanding how these metrics can play into budget flighting will improve the abottom linea numbers that mean the most to the C-Suite: Increased revenue and reduced wasteful spending.

Meet our spring intern, Glendon!

This week we’re welcoming a new intern to Evolve Digital Labs. Glendon is a senior at Lindenwood, where he is majoring in Interactive Media and Web Design. He will primarily be helping out with internal reporting, data analysis, and research projects as well as contributing industry trend pieces to the blog and other Evolve publications.

We are excited to learn more about Glendon and help him gain some real world experience here at Evolve. We briefly interviewed Glendon on his first day. Hereas how it went down:

What draws you to this industry?

It’s more important than anyone realizes. I love technology and helping people and to be able to help people and businesses utilize technology to better themselves is very fulfilling for me.

What is your favorite website?

On a given Friday night, you’ll probably be…

Grabbing some food and drinks with some friends or watching Netflix.

Mac or PC?

ChromeOS. But if I must pick out of those two then PC (I just built my own and I love spending every minute on it).

What’s the last book you read?

MockingJay by Suzanne Collins. I’m wanting to read Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, next.

If you could have a beer with anyone in the world, who would it be?

Sergey Brin. I need to thank him for Google.

What attracted you to Evolve Digital Labs for an internship?

While looking for internships, Evolve stuck out from the crowd. Theyare different from other companies and they show it. I like different.

What are you looking forward to learning at Evolve Digital Labs?

I look forward to learning the ropes of the digital strategy/SEO world and using what I know to make a difference. I want to make/do something Iam proud of.

Is there anything else you want us (and the world) to know about you?

I am obsessed with all things Google. I like what they do for the world and I think they’re the cat’s pajamas.

Find Glendon on Twitter!

Paid Search Agency Recognized for Work

Last month, we were honored to receive a plaque from our client, Helitech, as recognition for the success achieved throught paid search. It is always rewarding to enable a client to improve the way it markets to an audience online, and in case of Helitech, we were able to quickly improve its paid search account structure to deliver better results.

evolve helitech plaque

When we took over the account mid-April of 2013, the Paid Search team implemented immediate account optimizations.

To ensure quality traffic to Helitech’s website, we performed extensive negative keyword expansion. We then removed broad match keywords, allowing us to gain additional control over the budget and drive the right audience to the site.

Keyword research is always a significant part of the account optimization. For Helitech, we researched relevant terms to identify search volume, understand search intent, segment the audience into campaigns and ad groups, and generate ad copy.

The campaign’s click-through rate (CTR) spiked once we made the initial adjustments, sending waves of qualified traffic to landing pages during Helitech’s most demanding time of the year.

Because revenue and profitability are centric to Evolve Digital Labs’ process, the account was flighted based upon industry trend analytics to correlate saturation, positioning, and expense with peak seasonality and opportunity.

Once the normal peak season ended, Evolve’s Paid Search team continued to maintain healthy lead generation, traffic, and costs per click (CPCs). The average conversion rate remains 4.25% for Helitech.

Thanks so much to Helitech for the thoughtful token of appreciation! It is a pleasure working for you.

Setting Up Google+ for Health Systems

As the product of the most powerful search engine in the world, Google+ is strongly integrated into local search results. For this reason, we highly recommend investing in building a brand presence. In this post, you will learn how to navigate the Google+ platform and how to effectively manage a Google+ Business page.

Part 1: Navigating the Google+ Platform

Google+ can be confusing to navigate at first, but the more you familiarize yourself with the interface, the easier it will be to remember where to go to post on behalf of your organization, add managers, and switch between personal and company accounts.

1. Adding Managers

While Google+ Pages are only allowed one Owner, they may have up to 50 Managers. Managers have the authority to edit the listing information and post on behalf of the business page.

To add a Manager, first visit the page dashboard, then select aView all managers’ on the bottom right.

Click “Add Managers,” enter email addresses, and select “Invite.”

2. Switching from Personal Profiles to Pages

After someone receives an invitation to be a Manager of a page, he or she is required to set up a personal Google+ profile if one does not already exist. Much like a Facebook page, this step ensures that the person using the account is a real person. However, the name of a profile is not made public when viewing the business page.

Profiles have the ability to add friends and use social features independently of any pages associated with the account. Whether the actions are displayed as coming from the profile or business page dependents on how the person is navigating the account. In order to post on behalf of the business page, you will need to switch to the page dashboard.

When logged into an account as a page manager, or owner, navigate to “Pages” in the left navigation.

All actions that are taken within the profile, from posting comments to adding others to circles, will be reflected on the business page.

In order to switch back to the name/personal profile associated with the account, select the thumbnail profile photo in the top right of the window, which allows you to choose from the different profiles that are active.

3. Adding a Profile Picture and Cover Photo

Each business page should have a main profile image, which will appear on the feed as a thumbnail image next to the company name when posting anything. In addition, each page has a larger background image known as a cover photo, which can be used to display a larger image.

Viewing your business page, hover over the profile photo and click “Change profile photo.” To change the cover photo, hover over the bottom right corner until you see a box that says “Change cover.”

4. Adding People to Circles

Circles are categories of friends or contacts. When you add someone to a circle, they are notified that they have been added, but are not notified as to what circle to which they have been added.

In order to see who is already in your circles, navigate to the Google+ Business page by selecting “View page.”

On the “About” tab, scroll until you see the box titled “In your circles.” Click on the number to see who is already in your circles. Select “People” in the left navigation bar to manage circles and add more profiles and pages.

Here you can organize contacts and create new circles by selecting the (+) sign next to the existing circles.

To find new contacts, click “Discover” to see a list of suggested pages and profiles. Sort by category on the left to filter search results.

5. Adding Posts, Images, and Video

Google+ Business pages have the ability to share comments, images, and videos with their followers. Similar to Facebook “likes,” posts can be awarded a “+1.”

To add a post, navigate to the Google+ Business page by selecting “View page.” Inside the “Share what’s new” box, type your message. There are also options to add different types of media, as shown by the icons.

Google+ Business pages have the ability to share comments, images, and videos with their followers. Similar to Facebook “likes,” posts can be awarded a “+1.”

To add a post, navigate to the Google+ Business page by selecting “View page.” Inside the “Share what’s new” box, type your message. There are also options to add different types of media, as shown by the icons.

The default account setting will designate who will see the post. But it is easy to change this setting on a post-by-post basis.

To control who can see the post, click on the default setting underneath the text box. In this case, it is “Public.” Delete the button and choose from the resulting list which audience you want to share with.

Part 2: Effectively Managing a Google+ Business Page

Owners and managers are the individuals responsible for Google+ business page maintenance. Much like with any other social platform, owners and managers are responsible for posting news, interacting with followers, and updating page information.

It is strongly recommended that the accounts associated with page Owners and Managers are used on a regular basis. Notifications regarding new interactions with the page will be sent to these email address, and missed interactions could have negative results for the brand.

*Note: Page owners and managers are not made public. Therefore, people visiting the business page will not know the name or email address of the owner or managers associated with it.


Each Google+ business page has one Owner. The Owner starts as the person whose Google account was used to create the business page, but ownership may transfer to someone who has first been added as a Manager. Owners have the highest level of control over a page and may add or remove Managers at any time.

Owners of a page should be the most familiar with the Google+ platform, as they should be the go-to person for answering any questions managers may have. They should also work with Managers to assign maintenance tasks that may come to attention through email notifications, such as responding to a negative review or responding to a post in which the brand was tagged.


In order to manage a page, each person must first have a Google account. That account must also be “upgraded” to a Google+ account, meaning that the owner of the account must set up a personal Google+ profile.

One way to avoid having to create too many Google+ profiles is to instead forward email notifications from the original Google account to the email addresses of the proposed managers. This is not the official method for adding managers, but allows healthcare marketers to receive notifications through their company email address.

To add email accounts that will receive Google+ notifications, go to the account settings. Navigate to “Google+” on the left and add the email addresses of all “Managers” to the page.

Managers should be responsible for coordinating posts with other marketing and business strategies. They should also plan scheduled posts and should actively look for new opportunities for interaction. Although each organization is different, we generally recommend each page be assigned 1-3 managers responsible for making updates as needed.

The following breakout is what we recommend in terms of distribution of responsibilities by role:

Role: Responsibilities: Skills/Knowledge Needed:
Owner – Gets alerts on things like: reviews, being added to circles, new interactions
– Is the point of contact for implementation questions from managers
– Completes maintenance tasks in coherence with strategies from respective manager, such as updating page information
– Needs to be very familiar with the platform and how to implement changes
Manager – Gets alerts on things like: reviews, being added to circles, new interactions
-In charge of soliciting and responding to reviews
-Publishes posts, replies, shares, engagement
-Is the strategist defining what is posted and when
-Needs to be in the know in terms of big picture marketing efforts

Using Google+ to Your Health System’s Advantage

The Google+ interface is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of any social network. By taking time to share health information, patient stories, events, or brand achievements, a hospital or health system may convey its dedication to current and potential patients.