SMX West 2018: Interview with Jeff Ferguson

This interview is part of our SMX West expert interview series taking place between March 12th and 16th, 2018.

We got the chance to catch up with a long time friend of ours, Jeff Ferguson CEO of Fang Marketing, at SMX West this year. Jeff was involved in a panel that discussed how SEM marketers can start thinking outside the box. He shared some tips and tricks that his highly successful agency uses to make magic happen, with a no-nonsense approach to business.

Check out what Jeff had to say about thinking outside the SEM box and what makes the perfect cocktail:




Chandal: Hi everyone, I’m Chandal, I’m here at SMX West 2018. I’m with Jeff Ferguson from Fang Digital, thanks so much for taking a few minutes to speak with us.

Jeff: My pleasure, happy to be here.

Chandal: So tell us what brings you to SMX West this week, tell us about your role here.

Jeff: Sure, so I’m one of the speakers this time. I’m on the panel for ‘Thinking Outside the SEM Box’. More specifically, I did a fun little presentation on using custom audiences and custom lists on both search and social to do things beyond the traditional remarketing kind of ideas. We use it for helping with retention and reducing churn, things like that, for some of our clients. It’s a little different than just following people around and stalking them online – we can actually help keep them as a customer.

Chandal: Definitely. So you mentioned retargeting there, what can people do to think outside the SEM box?

Jeff: Well it’s this idea of using this technology that’s there. I always like to put it around the idea of cocktails. Cocktails are really great because you have all these ingredients and you can have a martini with specific ingredients in it, but if you change the gin to whisky then suddenly you get a Manhattan. It’s that idea of changing just that one aspect of it. In ours, what I’m talking about is that you’ve got this remarketing and retargeting technology that’s been around for years and most of the time people use it just for like when people come to the site and don’t buy something. They just kind of follow them around and say buy it, buy it, buy it! And that’s really all they ever do. It’s kind of creepy, it annoys customers, maybe it works or maybe it doesn’t. Or you can actually take that same technology and apply it to people who already bought your product and maybe it’s part of a subscription or you’re onboarding them or whatever it is, and you can actually put that same information.

Where we came up with that idea was with email. Email open rates suck, most of the time they’re 20% if you’re lucky, most of the time they’re way worse than that. And all this time they’re usually inflated because you know when you’re on your phone you open it most of the time just to delete it. So that all counts as an open and it’s just all completely made up and it’s just not there. Maybe with onboarding emails you’d be lucky if you got like 50-60% but even then that’s not all of them. But if you turn around and take that information you can actually upload that same email list in your custom audiences for both search and social and hit them again. We’ve done things where you get a viewability rate with that same audience of like 80, 90 to 100%. Then you end up with a way better conversion rate and all those things. We’ve done campaigns where usually things that are done with email, you can do it cheaply, you get it done that way, but we do it with email and this other account. We’ve seen things where it’s reduced churn by 20%, it’s increased activity by over 15%… All these kinds of things where usually it would have been lost if you were to do it another way.

Chandal: So don’t be afraid to experiment, try new things. Lots of really cool tips there. If anyone isn’t familiar with Fang Digital, tell us a bit more about what you guys do.

Jeff: Sure, Fang Marketing is a 7 year old boutique digital advertising agency out of Los Angeles. I’ve been doing this for over 23 years, I used to run things for companies like Kimberly Clark and Napster and hotels, things like that, and we started this agency because I was really tired of seeing the way that agencies would treat my employers. There were some people out there who were treating it like it was some kind of voodoo magic kind of thing and in reality it’s just marketing, right? It’s something where digital has been around for awhile and you shouldn’t try to baffle people with your fancy clicks and impressions. Really help them grow their business by focusing on revenue and profitability and things that really make a difference.

So we built it on that with the idea of transparency and business focus and we watch the business grow year over year over year with some really great, fun clients. There’s some case studies up on the website that you can take a look at and pretty soon we’ll even have a really cool test where you can see how much your current AdWords campaign is wasting money wise.

Chandal: That’s super cool. I can’t wait to test that. So out of curiosity, you’re not just taking clients in the LA area, you’re mentioning big accounts, are you…

Jeff: Yeah we’re worldwide. Most of our clients right now are in the States, but it’s New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, all over the place.

Chandal: So if you’re looking for some help with your SEM campaigns, definitely check out Fang. Thank you so much Jeff for taking a few minutes to speak with us today.

Jeff: My pleasure.


Stay tuned for more coverage of SMX West to come!


Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Gritte

Video property of Acquisio by

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

Chandal Nolasco Da Silva

With nearly a decade of digital marketing experience, Chandal has created content strategies for both the biggest and sometimes the most unexpected markets, while developing strategic relationships with editors and publishers. Chandal contributes to some of the highest authority industry publications, has been featured in industry events and is thrilled to be Acquisio’s Content Director.

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