Influencer Interview With Digital Marketing Expert- Bill Sebald

Hello Marketers! In today’s interview, we had the opportunity to speak with Bill Sebald, Managing Partner at Greenlane Marketing.

Apart from being a Managing Partner at Greenlane, a digital marketing agency outside of Philadelphia, Bill is a Marketing Expert, SEO veteran and Successful Blogger. He started his career in 1996 and writes all over the web. In addition, he is a conference speaker and an adjunct professor at Thomas Jefferson University.

In the following interview, Bill shares with us his journey and knowledge about marketing and technology.


Hello Bill, Tell Us About Your Role and Journey Into Marketing. How Did You Become Passionate About Marketing?

I am the founder of Greenlane. We are a boutique digital marketing agency. We work on sites that have some big problems or big competition. I like to think of us a bit like the A-team. We are a team you call when there are complex goals or issues. Our team members have helped more than 100 popular brands. We do some really cool things.

My personal path starts in 1996 on a website selling used CDs online. We didn’t have cart technology or any product management technology other than a spreadsheet. But I figured out that search engines were a key driver of new sales. I investigated and found a relatively small pocket of people who were also trying to draw traffic from search engines. The acronym SEO started growing, and that allowed us to all find each other. Like a beacon.

I have loved the game of SEO ever since.


Can You Tell Us Something About Your Website What Inspired You to Start Greenlane?

When Greenlane started, it was my side SEO consultancy. I had taken a job in 2006 with GSI Commerce to start their SEO channel in both marketing services and on their platform. Suddenly I’m working on SEO for Toys R’ Us, NFL Shop, Petsmart, and others. No pressure.

In 2012, when GSI was sold to eBay, a few of us decided we can keep doing what we loved, so we turned Greenlane into an agency. We are quite particular about the marketers we hired. They all need to share the same passion that we started the company with.

At the same time, Google started getting smarter with their algorithm. The Penguin algorithms shocked everybody. Panda as well. We were watching Google make big moves to stop being influenced by small tactics. So, we thought it made sense to become a more strategic and holistic alternative to services. So, we eventually built an analytics, CRO, PPC, content strategy, and technical SEO channel. Eight years later, we definitely made a good call there.


In Your Vast Experience, What’s The Secret Sauce in Digital Marketing That Has Always Worked For You?

“Build the ship while sailing.” The great thing about digital is most things can be improved as it goes. If you launch a campaign and you see it is not going as expected, you can pivot in real time. Consider it all an experiment that can be tweaked.

That is not to say you should launch any campaign without some R&D. But it means you should never spend too long being paralyzed by thought, either. I see that far too often. If you are waiting for something to be perfect, you are going to get beat by a company who is building in motion.


How Do You Prepare for An AI-Centric World As a Marketing Leader?

I’m with the camp who think AI is still a bit away from being truly magical in digital marketing. It’s not all that impressive with Google yet. Take Google Ads for example – we find that a human is still better than the AI they’d love for you to hand your money over to.

I believe AI will grow to help us find deeper patterns and insights that relate to human trends. But I don’t see it becoming so mighty that it understands human will. If that happens, we have created Ultron. And there’s some bigger issues than marketing if AI gets that big!

Until then, I’m paying close attention to any AI tool that can really help make improved marketing decisions. There is a ton of hot air out there right now though.


You’re one of the Most Influential Thought Leaders in Social Media Marketing. Tell Me, How Do You Create and Maintain a Vibrant Online Community?

There are better social marketers than me for sure, but my community really came from being myself on Twitter. Sharing thoughts, experiences, and articles that I wrote. I enjoy teaching and being helpful. The SEO community was starting to move to Twitter (from forum boards) and I simply leaned into the opportunity. It took years of actively nurturing my Twitter universe. Lots of thought went into what I’d say and what I’d publish. I wasn’t trying to be well known. I was only trying to be valuable.

But I did learn there’s no shortcutting social media marketing. You have to earn it with every thing you do in social channels.

When social started to explode 10 years ago, many brands jumped on the bandwagon. But they still wanted to control their narrative. Some thought of Twitter as just another customer service venue. But eventually the customers started to control the brand identity. Thinking back on some of the brands I worked with, it took them years to finally relinquish the control they believed they had. If they were quicker to adapt, they could have had a better presence.


What are the Biggest Digital Marketing Trends to Prepare for in the Next Couple of Years?

I think AI stays a trend for sure. I assume privacy standards keep reforming in the US. And I think the sophistication of platforms will need even more human expertise. We are just at the early stages on all three of those opinions.

Let’s discuss more about your marketing needs!

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