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Larry Kim founded WordStream, a marketing software company managing over a half-Billion dollars in annual ad spend for over ten thousand customers. Larry is obsessed with the highest and best performing content and companies—aka unicorns. He developed free tools for Facebook ads & AdWords used by over a million marketers worldwide.

Larry shares marketing insights to over a million visitors every month at his WordStream Blog and Medium, and is a leading contributor to Inc. Magazine and Search Engine Land. Larry keynoted dozens of marketing events and was named "Most Influential PPC Expert" for 2015, 2014 and 2013 by PPC Hero, and recently won the 2015 Top Search Marketer of the Year awards from both the US Search Awards & Search Engine Land.

You can follow him on Twitter: @larrykim

He will be live on Nov 1 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which he will answer as many questions as possible.

  • RG

    Robert Gibb

    11 months ago #

    Why do you follow me on Twitter, then unfollow me, then follow me again - many times over the course of a year?

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    11 months ago #

    Hi Larry,

    Great to have you on here. I'm a big fan of Wordstream's actionable content!

    With channels changing so rapidly, how does your team stay up to date on the newest tactics and in sync with what works?

    Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

    Cheers,
    Dani

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      the DNA of our marketing team is to continuously try out new stuff and tinker around with experiments. actually the content that i produce is mostly just the result of doing so much experimentation with so many different marketing channels.

  • VV

    Visakan Veerasamy

    11 months ago #

    Hey Larry! If you had to start all over from scratch, how would you do it?

  • MM

    martín medina

    11 months ago #

    Larry,

    Thanks for coming here and doing this AMA!

    What are some of the biggest challenges and lessons learned from being in such a crowded market like online advertising?

    What are you most excited about for about the future of advertising?

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      Online advertising is ridiculously noisy. it's like the olympics of marketing. You're marketing to marketers who are suspect of marketing, and you're competing against other marketers who are great at doing marketing themselves.

      What should you do about it? Ask yourself: are you playing the game or are you changing the game? If you're just stuck on the treadmill doing the same stuff over and over, you're not likely to be that remarkable at all. instead try to find the channels and tactics with the most leverage and go all in on those.

      in search advertising, i'm most excited about RLSA, demographic targeting, and customer match.

      In facebook ads, i'm excited about Lead Ads, Video Ads, Audience Insights, Remarketing, etc.

      3 Share
    • MH

      Med Hedi

      11 months ago #

      I love this question. And will add to it:
      When it comes to SEO and SEM this market and the analytics one (my market) are really crowded. How you handle this and what Marketing strategies you saw are more successful than others?

      • LK

        Larry Kim

        11 months ago #

        Areas where we're seeing tons of leverage:
        * Content Marketing
        * Social Media Advertising (Facebook/Twitter)
        * RLSA
        * Medium
        * Building a Brand.

        4 Share
  • SR

    Steven Rado

    11 months ago #

    Larry,

    With "banner blindness" becoming more of an issue, where do you see the future of AdWords and PPC?

    Will PPC die? Will it drastically change? How will the PPC landscape look in the next 2-3 years?

    How is Wordstream planning for this?

    Thanks!

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      search ads don't seem to be impacted by ad fatigue because people don't keep searching for the same keywords over and over again.

      The solution to banner ad fatigue is to fix your ad targeting and creative to be more relevant/interesting/fresh.

      PPC is increasingly taking over bigger shares of the Google SERP and Social News Feeds so i don't think it will die.

      The future of PPC will be less about keywords and more about targeting the specific people who are doing the searches.

      2 Share
  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    11 months ago #

    Hi Larry, awesome to finally have you on for an AMA with us. How did you guys decide at Wordstream to offer managed services? Were there any concerns that this would make you less attractive as a VC backed business and has it hurt your ability to partner with or sell to agencies?

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      Generally offering services will increase revenue but decrease margins. however, wordstream is in this unusual spot where we have tens of thousands of prospects signing up for stuff every month so there's no incremental sales and marketing cost for offering services to people where the software isn't a fit for them. And because we have such a deep expertise and brand in the field, we can be picky with the clients and the customer lifetime value is long. so, it ends up having insanely great margins, considering that it's a service. More revenues at great margins means you can fund your business without having to raise money, which means less dilution. That said, we've intentionally capped the size of this business to being a small fraction of overall revenues (around 1/5th) since we are primarily a software company.

      5 Share
  • EV

    Emily Veach

    11 months ago #

    Hi Larry, it's admirable how you've built WordStream into a powerhouse and your own personal brand into a force in search & marketing. How would you say your positioning in the industry has evolved? Do you attribute your growth to being somehwat of a contrarian, thought leader, some combination, or something else?

    Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA!

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      there's an article here that talks about my content strategy and how it has impacted the growth of the company: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/09/21/thought-leadership-marketing

      but yes in general the key is to not create content that merely agrees/affirms the conventional wisdom. if that's the conclusion of the piece, i'd rather just not waste time publishing it and instead free up time to work on something more interesting.

      4 Share
  • SA

    Shaker A

    11 months ago #

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for being here!

    1)Can talk about how you got your early customers? How hard was it to get the first few? I don't know if you had prior experience in the field before founding wordstream, but if you didn't, how did you overcome your lack of experience and credibility to get your first few customers?

    2) What are the most valuable lessons you've learned in your career when it comes to growing a business?

    3) In your opinion what are things early stage startups have to do to not only survive, but thrive? Conversely what do you see startups messing up that they can't afford to, and how do they fix them?

    4)What are the biggest challenges you've faced growing Wordstream, and how have you overcome them

    Thanks

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    11 months ago #

    Bonjour Larry,

    And thank you for doing this AMA.
    I have a simple question.

    How do you scale search?

    Thanks!

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      bonjour arsene et merci pour le question.

      paid search marketing isn't that scalable. (a) you're limited to the query volumes of the keywords you're targeting (b) Google makes it hard to target keywords that aren't super-relevant to your business by giving them low quality scores which kills impression share and increases cost per click (c) going after higher impression share and more prominent ad positions increases costs in a non-linear way.

      so what's a PPC marketer supposed to do?

      1) Focus on Quality. Coming up with the remarkable unicorn offers that drive up CTR and CVR like crazy, while decreasing CPC and increasing impression share.

      2) Focus on Display and Social Ads to your target demographics to create new demand for your products and services. Basically you're manufacturing branded searches here.

      3 Share
  • LS

    Logan Stoneman

    11 months ago #

    Hey Larry - your recent essay on INC about presenting to an audience got me thinking about your thoughts on the inverse.... What is the 1 common thing presenters do that can help a presentation succeed?

    Here's a link to his essay for those who haven't read it: http://www.inc.com/larry-kim/the-one-fatal-mistake-thats-tanking-your-presentations.html

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      97.9% of conference presentations are terrible. what you should do is create content around your most proven material. Stuff that has objectively done fantastically well as evidenced by ridiculously high social sharing, pageviews, time on site, etc. Turn your unicorns into presentations. don't audition completely new unproven stuff.

      3 Share
  • AA

    Aldin A

    11 months ago #

    Hey Larry,

    Great to have you here

    1)What, in your opinion, are the top qualities founders need to succeed?

    2)How do you go about empowering employees? What does empowerment look like at Wordstream? How do you instill an ownership mentality in them?

    3)What do you think are the top skills/traits that a manager needs to have to bring out the best in their employees?

    Thanks

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      1. the most important thing a founder needs is to be convincing. You need to be able to project a bold vision to get people excited about you and your ideas - excited enough to want to throw investment dollars at you or quit their jobs and join your mission and make it their own. Beyond that, it certainly helps to have an engineering, marketing and finance background.

      2. We have our core values. one of the ones i put in there was "take action". by explaining to people that this is a core value of the company it helps. http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/12/11/core-values

      3. Managers are largely there for motivating, training, hiring and reporting. It's funny because your top individual contributors probably do terribly at all of these things.

  • RB

    Ry B

    11 months ago #

    Larry,

    Thanks for doing this. Excited to learn from you.

    1)How do you look at hiring? Can you talk about some of the mistakes you've made hiring (and also seen others make)? What have you learned about hiring A+ talents?

    2)How do you look at balance in your professional and personal life? When it comes to work, how do you decide what you have to work on today (I'm sure you have a lot of fires to put out every day)?

    3)How do you look at competition, specifically when you're going up against bigger, and better-funded competitors? How does that affect your strategic plan, if it does at all? What is your mindset when you go to compete against the 800-pound gorillas in your space?

    Thanks

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      1. on hiring, people stay at jobs because they like the people they work with. (and they leave if they don't like the people they work with). so we've had some situations where the A+ talent was making people miserable and had to let them go. But on the other hand, the A+ talent generally can produce 10-100x better stuff. So we're looking for likable unicorns.

      2. I work from around 6AM - 6PM on weekdays. the work stuff is largely based on big quarterly goals that i set (eg: trying to create a video series, or a facebook strategy, or a medium strategy, etc.). the day to day stuff is just whatever comes up. so you have a combination of smaller tactical stuff + bigger strategic stuff.

      3. When i started this business i was pretty worried about competitors. But later i realized they were less important than i thought. For example, most other PPC software companies might have a few hundred customers. and infact wordstream only has around ten thousand customers. Whereas there are millions of advertisers out there who we could sign up as customers. so, of course you need to be aware of competitive pressures but most of the time your success is more about your own execution.

      2 Share
  • NS

    Nikhil saini

    11 months ago #

    why do you only focus on paid marketing?

  • RM

    Rafael Mendoza

    11 months ago #

    Hey Larry, If you were 21 years old and knew everything you know about pay per click now what would you do with that knowledge? Was your goal always to start your own company? Thanks so much.

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      yeah it was kind of a situation where i knew i wanted to start a company but didn't know what it would do. if i was doing it again, i'd make even bigger bets.

  • MN

    Minh-Quan Ngo

    11 months ago #

    Hi Larry,
    Thanks for doing this AMA.
    On average, what budget would you recommend I prepare for marketing / growth hacking activities to launch a mobile app successfully?
    Are there any benchmarks of up-front cost and on-going costs that I should expect?
    Thanks

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      i would be super mindful of the user engagement metrics. the few apps that "make it" have increasing or steady engagement over time, where as the 99.9% of apps that go nowhere have rapidly declining engagement over time. Nothing worse than pouring marketing dollars into an app with low engagement metrics. it's like pushing a big heavy rock up a hill.

  • AS

    Abrar Shahriar

    11 months ago #

    Hello Larry,

    It feels really awesome to have you in this Platform.
    Want to know the beginning story of Wordstream and how you guys take it a at the top position ?

    What is the piece of advice that you've to give for a startup growth hacking companies ?

    Do you personally write those content in Medium (Sorry to ask but how is it possible to produce frequent content in Medium?) And every content has something new to read.

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      1. i wrote about my experiences starting wordstream and building it here: http://www.inc.com/larry-kim/building-a-business-5-things-i-didnt-expect.html

      2. Given that most start-ups don't make it, i'd be very picky in choosing your idea and be brutally honest about the value it provides. i've found that so many aspiring founders have a tendency to over-estimate the novelty/value of their own ideas.

      3. I write about 2 things per day. it takes a few hours. as with anything else in life, the more you do things, the better you get at it. one thing about my content on medium is that it's mostly syndicating older content from years ago. Being in the industry for over 5 years now i have a lot of old stuff i can re-use there.

      2 Share
  • PL

    Preethi LR

    11 months ago #

    Hey Larry. Glad you're doing this. :)

    I'd love to know your thought process behind Social Media Marketing. All of us would like to have an assemblage of faithful followers. What's the trade off when it comes to building a big follower-base through synthetic hacks? Is that beneficial at all?

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      adding fake followers/fans probably doesn't help the cause that much. i usually get a good laugh looking at profiles with hundreds of thousands of followers but little or no engagement per post. But i'm OK with say, running promoted posts on social, to build a follower-base, especially using remarketing and lists for targeting. here are a few hacks to consider that i use from time to time: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/10/05/social-media-ad-ideas

  • BM

    Bilal Munir

    11 months ago #

    Hello Larry,

    thanks for having us and doing this ama!

    I wanted to ask that "How search display ads improves the ranking of a page? and if a company has a limited budget and it is a crossroads of deciding btw search display ads and SEO what should it choose for the short and long run both?

    • LK

      Larry Kim

      11 months ago #

      what is a search display ad?

      • KS

        kuldeep sharma

        11 months ago #

        Hello Larry,

        Its search, display ads. what is your opinion on relativity between paid ads and SEO? because i see too many website which good at SEO , content but not on google top 2 pages because of they don't have cash to burn on paid marketing?

        need your expertise help :)

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