What We Learned at Inc. 5000

What We Learned at Inc. 5000

We want to share a few of the takeaways from our experience at last week’s Inc. 5000.

The diverse groups of entrepreneurs and managers for the Fastest-Growing businesses in the U.S. have one thing in common – a relentless drive. While the industries spanned everything from beauty products to broadband, many are wrestling with the same issues.

It’s okay to take a breath and recognize success. We’ve hit the Inc. Fastest-Growing Companies List twice. It’s a major feat that comes from hours of hard work from a talented team. We’re guilty of pushing forward without stopping to enjoy success. This was one of those rare milestones.

Evolve Digital Labs Inc. 5000 ranking

So what did @Derek Mabie and @Justin Watkins learn? How were some of Evolve’s guiding principles reinforced?

Shark Tank personality Robert Herjavec gave one of the best presentations and most energizing commentaries. He at times comes across like a sports coach with an edge that’s transformed into a competitive advantage at the Herjavec Group. ($250 million in annual sales.)

Herjavec reminds us “Business isn’t about competing on the days you feel like competing. It’s about competing every day.” We just put up a sign at Evolve that echoes that sentiment, “Attacking this day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”

Attacking this day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind


Herjavec encouraged attendees to capitalize on strengths and leverage those strengths to deliver hyper-specific excellence. Forget your weaknesses.

  • Don’t apologize for being aggressive/competitive. Don’t lose the will to win, as complacency won’t bring home paychecks for employees, and just “being” will not suffice.
  • Derek and Justin also gained insight on how to build a successful sales team, identify the key personality attributes that work, and how to integrate those into a functioning, effective workforce.
  • It wasn’t surprising to hear staffing is a top challenge among growing firms. One we can relate to. (By the way, we’re hiring in St. Louis and Denver.)
  • Success can be lonely for some. Many are looking for mentors or trusted vendors to help carry the weight. Vulnerability is a great tool to leverage, wisely, so acknowledging you need to leverage all expertise and resources is key.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, even if that means playing a giant Jenga game. It’s an opportunity to perfect your Jenga skills or commiserate with new people about work passions. (i.e. have a conversation about #JTBD.) You may also end up making great contacts.

As the Inc. 5000 conference wrapped up there was one obvious theme; everyone is looking for ways to grow their business. Maximizing growth takes a solid approach. While Evolve is eager to be recognized on next year’s Inc. 5000 list at the end of the day, it’s about surpassing a customer’s needs and expectations. As our clients grow we grow.

FYI: Facebook Search Changes

Facebook’s news that it is opening up search to let people explore all public posts is a bold move, that will not only impact your privacy settings but also the world of search.

As Facebook’s vice president of search said the site was “updating search so that in addition to friends and family, you can find out what the world is saying about topics that matter to you.”  The new Facebook Search will provide real-time information while clearing out clutter and identifying news articles and conversations about brands as they happen.

Facebook's new search updates make posts public.

Facebook’s new search updates make posts public.

The social network has been making moves to grab a slice of the Google search pie for years. Facebook is upping the ante against Google’s 3.5 billion daily searches; currently the site has about 1.5 billion searches everyday, indexing two trillion posts. Expect those numbers to climb.

Facebook’s information on a user’s actions on and off site factor strongly into the site’s very lucrative ad game. It should be noted Facebook is only indexing content within its own system. Zuckerberg has acknowledged his desire to compete with Google, and in a decade or so provide a research and question/answer service that quickly delivers results.

So what does this mean for digital marketing?

Facebook’s mobile display ad revenue is expected to hit $7.5 million by 2017. Google’s mobile display ad revenue estimates are closer to $2.3 million. Looking at the numbers and the changes to Facebook’s search framework should organizations start diverting more money away from Google? No. The new Search FYI tool is a large advancement in terms of Facebook’s growth and gravitas but is not THE game changer, at least not right now.

That brings us to a conversation we had with a client recently about their previous Facebook ad spending. They spent money but failed to truly see conversions. That is because many still see Facebook, as a network they use leisurely, to kill time and stay up to date with friends. Users may spend more time on Facebook than Google, but actual search engines are the pipelines in the customer process on the way to an outcome driven solution.

A critical question in determining where to spend is, “Are you trying to increase brand knowledge, or sell a specific service/product?” Evolve is happy to provide insight and direction.

Contact us to learn more.

A Few of Our Favorite SEO Tools

Have you ever sat down and thought about the tools that make your job easier? From a laptop, phone and Wi-Fi to search engines, Excel, PowerPoint, SlideShare, Dropbox and Microsoft Word.

The digital strategists and PPC managers at Evolve Digital Labs recently compiled a list of some of our favorite tools that make us more efficient and improve outcomes when it comes to SEO and SEM.

Google Adwords is at the center of most digital marketing campaigns. As a Google partner the Evolve team uses Adwords daily.

Included in Adwords are two features that make life easier and increase the cost-effectiveness of ad spending. Those are the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator.

Keyword Tool provides search volume for keyword lists, however the values it returns are estimates and can be wildly inaccurate especially for low-mid search volume terms.

A better solution to get the true search volume is to use the Traffic Estimator tool. We do a traffic estimate for sites and keyword lists using the maximum bid ($100) to get the true search volume for those terms.

If your keyword list is large, (>2k) you can still use this method via the Adwords API and a little scripting know-how.

SEO Mofos Search Snippet Tools  helps quickly visualize and show examples of what SERPs will look like.

Mofo Snippet

Microsoft SEO Tools are helpful options for improving Bing SEO, as most other tools available are geared to optimize for Google.

Excel sheets are something Evolve’s PPC managers pour over hourly scanning thousands of keywords and search queries for clients like Merck and Charter Spectrum. It helps to have a few easy tricks to make working with Excel and endless data a little easier.

The Pivot Tables function allows users to look at account data for top-level analysis like campaigns, or ad groups. It can also quickly drill down all the way to keyword level to find which KWs are either driving the success of a campaign or holding it back.

The Find/Replace tool helps clean up data, which is one of the most important keys to big data sets and being able to quickly analyze and make accurate cost-effective decisions.

Everyone knows how to use VLOOKUP and what it does, but a free add-in in Excel called Fuzzy Lookup can help by matching up two datasets. Like Vlookup, Fuzzy can compare two unique columns between 2 sets of data. However Fuzzy can match up two columns from each side. So you can match First Names, and Last names that may not be in the same columns without concatenating. Fuzzy is free and takes a little practice to understand how it works. There is a limit on the size of data but for a couple 100,000 rows of data it works great.

All of our clients undergo an audit to identify opportunities for growth. “Found SEO Tool” (UK) is a straightforward audit resource that provides insight into what to fix on a website, like Screaming Frog it’s used more for analysis than an SEO road map.

Webmaster Tools are critical during the audit phase; we use those insights to highlight the next steps. We pay incredibly close attention to impression data, query data and CTR to analyze organic performance and potential.

Onsite improvements and shortcomings are identified with several Google resources, including the Page Speed and mobile friendliness tests.

Those are just a few of our top tools, to learn more about how we can put them to work for you get in touch with us. If you’ve got a unique ‘go to’ SEO/SEM tool that you’d like to share, let us know!