News | Evolve Digital Labs

Evolve Digital Labs is a St. Louis based digital marketing & strategy agency. News and items pertaining to Evolve’s growth and culture will be tagged here.

Evolve Digital Labs Sets New Record for Client’s Monthly Leads

Unlike traditional advertising mediums, which generally rely on impressions to validate the cost, paid search is able to monitor success based on a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs)

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.

Evolve Digital Labs one of the "Fastest-Growing Companies"

“Daring, focused and determined.”

Those are the words Inc. magazine used to describe Evolve in making the 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies. For the 2nd time. Apparently a rarity.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 9.56.57 AM

Evolve Digital Labs ranked 479th on the list of 5000 companies, with 973 percent growth, up from last year’s survey. To make the elite list companies must have grown at least tenfold over the last three years.

We once again join the list of alumni like, Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, GoPro, Timberland, Patagonia, and Oracle among others.

Included in the 2015 rankings are powerful brands including Fitbit, Smashburger, Bowlmor AMF, Planet Fitness,, RadioFlyer, Box, and Mindbody.

To explain this growth Evolve’s President, Derek Mabie puts it this way, “Our operation and strategy is unique for the industry. We are not trying to be an agency in the traditional sense. We’re business consultants, reviewing and changing how businesses get their jobs done.  We make online growth easy.”

Evolve Digital Labs has identified and strategically stepped up to meet needs online.  Our process is toevaluate digital media marketing investments and to offer solutions to ensure that those investments are maximizing revenue and adding value. Apparently when you’re obsessed with growth on your client’s behalf it naturally leads to our own growth. We’ll take it. Thank you to our clients who have made recognition like this possible.

Our success is your success.


Team Evolve Gives Thanks

It’s been another fantastic year at Evolve! We’ve grown by adding some phenomenally talented new team members and had the opportunity to work with some stellar clients a both new and continuing relationships. In keeping with tradition (two years makes it a tradition, right?) below is a list of what each team member is thankful for this year. We hope this gives you a little insight into our team and who we are. Enjoy!

Derek Mabie I am thankful for growth, opportunity, and motivation. I am humbled to be surrounded by people on our team. I am grateful for the clients who allow us to work and learn. I am motivated by the era of change and I am in debt to those supporting and participating, personal & professional, in a vision. For those who are young or indifferent, disconnected or misplaced, there is a chance to build and find satisfaction. There are opportunities that exist to create professional inertia that lead to personal satisfaction and this time in history is rivaled by few other eras for capabilities or writing one’s destiny. I am thankful for all of this and can’t imagine being anymore so.

Jay Buerck I am thankful for my wife, the life we have together, our two dogs, and working in such a supportive environment.

Kai Alcazaren I’m thankful for another day.

Laura Poole I am thankful for 1. The opportunity to be surrounded by smart people every day at work. 2. Evolve hoodies, I could really use one for every day of the week. 3. Family and friends and the constant love and support they show me every day.

Emily Wisely I’m thankful for the wonderful people in my life, a job I love, and my dog.

Adam Hallas I am thankful for the ability to wake up breathing, loving and caring. Also thankful for the reminder that compassion and patience is what helps make the world go round despite what Fox News might say.

Kristy Kuntz I’m thankful for: 1. Evolve’s Growth: It’s been really cool to see how our company has transformed due to the influence of some really awesome new people who each bring a unique perspective and expertise. 2. Supporting Team Members: Taking on new roles and responsibilities and overcoming personal obstacles would have been impossible without the amazing team at Evolve supporting me! 3. Great Clients: Focusing on the healthcare field has given us the opportunity to work with some clients who truly make this world a better place and save lives. Having the opportunity to help them really makes what we do that much more fulfilling. 4. Constant Challenges: I really don’t think a day goes by that I don’t learn something new and significant that challenges me. It’s really rare to work in a place where that’s possible. 5. Maplewood Coffee Shops & Bars: Let’s be honest, without access to these places, the aforementioned challenges may have gotten the best of me :) It’s nice to be able to walk down the road for a beverage and good atmosphere.

Tabitha Tomko I am thankful for so many things this year; a fantastic husband, family, friends and (mostly fantastic) pets. Iam also truly thankful that I have the opportunity to spend every weekday with a team that is enthusiastic, talented and dedicated a and pretty darn funny.

John Bracamontes 1. Family: Need I say more 2. Opportunity: Take it and run with it 3. Intelligent People: The smarter the better 4. The Hustle: Making it happen

Locke George 1. My wife, who makes me a better person. 2. The opportunity to work with intelligent and forward-thinking co-workers and clients. 3. The Evolve Team – Specifically the PPC Team, whose addition and presence has saved my sanity.

Tim Donovan I’m thankful for my family, my health, and the wonderful opportunity at Evolve! What are you thankful for this year, feel free to comment below. Happy holidays from everyone at Team Evolve!

St. Louis Shout-out: Content Marketing

St. Louis Shout-out: Content Marketing

Saint Louis is a pretty remarkable city. We all know how its residents unabashedly love Cardinals baseball and consuming craft beer in ungodly quantities, but there’s more to The Lou than that. From budding Internet-savvy start-ups to the Fortune 1000 companies that have adopted new digital modus operandi, St. Louis is home to a myriad of brands doing incredible things in the WWW. We even joined the ranks of the fastest growing cities for tech jobs (according to Fortune). Watch your back, Seattle.

Local Showcase: Content Marketing

The inspiration for this post might have stemmed from the long-awaited spring weather, but Derek asked me to break from our clients and own brand agenda to recognize the solid work a couple local agencies are doing, specifically in content marketing. Atomicdust and Gorilla 76 stand out as two shops that excel at producing great work and sharing their achievements with the digital realm. No agency is an island; without the inspiration and support from these guys across town, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Even though our specialty is Search and PPC, rather than branding and design, we really appreciate learning from these brands’ published work and sharing methods. The truth is, digital marketing requires strategy from all angles in order to build a powerhouse domain, one that acts as an extension of your brand. And one that is available 24/7 to provide a solution for searchers online.

Why Does Content Marketing Matter?

Although many of us are bored with the constant cries to “create content!” there is an undeniable advantage given to brands that can pull it off smoothly. When the contents of a website, such as blog posts, resources, videos, or case studies, enhance the site’s value without trying to oversell the brand, the domain will much easier recruit and retain visitors. Rather than becoming a hub of self-promotion, an ideal website focuses on the needs or interests of its audience. Do you want real examples? Let’s do this.

1. Get Ranked

It’s pretty sweet how natural it can be to optimize your website for search engine efficiency. Google’s algorithm continues to reject manipulative, low-quality websites from its results pages, simultaneously rewarding legit sites for creating and sharing information that supports visitors’ searches. It makes complete sense; consistently publishing your brand’s work and insight is a solid way to communicate to The Goog that your site is a worthy destination for marketing solutions. Gorilla 76 is a team of guys that do an exceptional job of writing content for its targeted demographic. Take its piece, Web Marketing Guide for B2B Industrial Companies: this resource was crafted for a very particular audience with particular goals. It’s not going to rank for terms that receive super high search volume, but that’s perfectly fine because the B2B industrial companies that are in need of web marketing will find extreme value in the content on Gorilla 76’s site. I looked for keyword data on SEOmoz and discovered the targeted term to be highly competitive.

This was no surprise, as the powerhouse domains competing with our friends include,, and Still, Gorilla 76 was able to score an impressive spot at the top of the second results page, ideal real estate for attracting CMOs of industry companies. Well done, dudes.

2. Entertain and Engage

Atomicdust impresses me with its ability to attract an audience. It says a lot about a brand when followers on Twitter and Facebook click links simply because the brand’s track record reassures the read will be worth their time. That’s sort of a complicated way of me saying if Atomicdust tweets about a recently dropped post, I’m more than likely going to check it out. I find the content interesting and valid; it’s really that simple. I’m particularly fond of Atomicdust’s ability to fuse its edgy culture and sleek design into the core messaging (e.g., photographing team members to showcase new content). It strengthens the brand’s unique vibe and initiates all sorts of friend crushes.

Atomicdust releases monthly wallpapers that correlate to the season or upcoming events. A quick summary and invitation to download the attached wallpapers round out the content. While this initiative may not directly result in signing a new client (who knows, though – that may very well have happened), its distilled purpose is much laxer: to highlight the team’s creativity, the team’s skills, and the desire to share both characteristics with its online community.

Finally, I dig the monthly events posts; by taking the time to consistently curate a list of the month’s creative events (as well as linking to corresponding external pages for more details), Atomicdust provides a really useful, appreciated service that sets it apart.

3. Share Some Secrets

A company blog is pretty useless if it doesn’t dish out tips and hints, either to educate it readers or reaffirm what they already know. Otherwise, think about it, the content would just be dancing around the problems without actually addressing how to fix them. As a brand, you can’t be afraid to explain a process or share your expertise; there will always be clients willing to pay you for services that are beyond their comfort zone and capabilities. Referring back to Gorilla 76’s content, the industrial-relevant web marketing guide is a seriously robust document that offers valuable tips for CMOs in all industries, really a though as mentioned, it’s smartly targeted for the construction biz. Throughout the guide, Gorilla 76 has sprinkled helpful visuals and resource links into the rich content, further validating the brand’s desire to share its know-how with an interested audience.

4. Show Success, Duh

Atomicdust is super great at promoting client work as well as the awards or recognition the brand receives. It’s inspiring to read about (or in the case below, view) the different companies with which this brand works, the thought process(es) that spur projects along, and the dazzling end results.


It’s worth noting that blogs fare best when the content type is varied. My favorite company blogs successfully balance education, culture, and proof of success. Any blog that is weighed down by just one of these three attributes will have a difficult time resonating. Too many education posts (sans culture and proof) will leave readers asking “Who are you? And why are we supposed to take your word for it?” Then again, an excess of posts that offer proof come across as self-promotional. Readers are definitely interested in hearing about the recent projects a brand has worked on, but if the string of posts only scream “look at what we did!” it might be difficult to connect with an overwhelmed audience. I (and everyone at Team Evolve) feel fortunate to have these other agencies to learn from, even though our day-to-day responsibilities are often radically different. Thanks for checking out our local showcase and thanks to Atomicdust and Gorilla 76 for being excellent influences. High fives all around.

SEO Audit Case Study

An Evolve Digital Labs SEO Audit Case Study

SEO is more often than not a slow and steady race, but it’s always exciting to see speedy results when our recommendations are carried out. Today we’re proud to flaunt an SEO Audit case study. Implementation of our findings is often a task that spans several months and sometimes years, so it can take a while to see results on a large scale. SEO, remember, has evolved into the act of transforming your website into one that deserves to rank well. This accomplishment is not easy to achieve. Read more

Optimize press releases for search engines

Optimize press releases for search engines

Press releases are extraordinary tools for showcasing company news, whether it is a shiny new product/service, community involvement, or company accomplishments. To make the most of them, however, press releases must be strategically optimized for search engines.

Choose a distribution site

First of all, you must choose at least one distribution site for your press release. There are plenty of websites that allow you to submit press releases for free, but those do not always have a very high page rank and can consequently lower your own site’s authority. For that reason, we recommend turning to more qualified distribution sites, such as Business Wire, PR Newswire, and Market Wire. Don’t take our word for it, though! Do your research. Quick example: This website claims OnlinePRMedia to be the highest rated PR distribution site. Perhaps it is a favorite among SEOs, but a quick site search in Google News showed us that it hasn’t picked up any articles as of late (click on the image to enlarge). PR Newswire, on the other hand, clearly has much greater success getting picked up by search engines, as you can see in the second image that Google News has more than 15,000 results. While this doesn’t necessarily reflect the holistic success of the distribution site, it is still a good way to gauge how often articles are picked up by search engines. PR distribution fail PR Distribution Site for SEO

 Use those keywords

When it comes to writing a press release, make sure to have a list of relevant keywords handy. It’s important to optimize the title with a keyword or phrase because the title often becomes the title tag of the page the distribution sites host it on. The following snippet ranks on Googleas first page for the term “SEO audit St. Louis.”

Because the title is optimized with those keywords, anyone searching for a local agency to perform a site audit will stumble upon this press release on Market Watch. If they like what they read, they will head over to the Evolve site and slide right on down the sales funnel. We like that.

But don’t overstuff!

Use keywords naturally. The search engine algorithms place higher value on copy that sounds as if it were written for humans, not search engines. Place one keyword/phrase in the first paragraph (first 80-100 words) but do not cram them in the remaining body copy unless they make sense. Strive to vary the wording.

Link it, but be delicate

Use anchor text links, but do not overuse them. Much like how content should be written for humans, links should also be created for humans. The anchor text should direct the reader to next steps, preferably a landing page on the InteliSpend website or perhaps a case study. There should be at least one but no more than three links.

Write for a human audience

Write so that people will actually want to read it. Asking “why?” before you begin to divulge the news will help you keep the reader in mind while writing. Additionally, search engines prefer this kind of jargon-free, informative readability.

Include a visual

Include an image if possible, as they have been proven to increase click-through rates and interest. Optimize the image by adding a keyword to the file name and in the alt text, which can help it rank in engines’ image searches.

Miscellaneous tips:

If it’s not time sensitive, consider omitting the date from your press release. Not doing this can cause your press release to seem outdated, even if the content remains relevant. Also, upload a slightly altered version (to avoid duplicate content) to your own site so that other domains can link to the article that is housed on your website. Then share the news story via social media profiles. Don’t be afraid to self promote a especially if a major news source picks up your press release.

Evolve’s Collective Wish List

As you know, this is the season for giving. Whether you generously splurge for loved ones, complete strangers, clients, or colleagues, the act of giving is certain to infect you with the feel-good bug (symptoms include a but are not limited to – nonchalant humming and a twinkle in your eye). This year, Evolve was all over it! We had a swell time participating in the second annual St. Louis Tweet Drive, which benefited Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army. It’s such an encouragement to see the St. Louis community tweeting (and doing) for good.
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Microsoft’s Purchase of Skype and What it means…

Buying Skype gives Microsoft a connection to 8.8 million paid accounts along with about 660 million other users worldwide. This is unlike Microsoft, which is not known for its big splash purchases. Most recently Microsoft has stepped up their marketing and search efforts with Bing. Just a few weeks ago Bing released a new webmasters tool to compete with Google and connect with website owning world. Read more