Marketing Heroes: a q&a with the Head of SEO at Vertical Leap Published April 17, 2019 In our fifth instalment of our Marketing Heroes interviews, we spoke with Lee Wilson the Head of SEO at Vertical Leap. Please introduce yourself I’m Lee Wilson, and I head up the Enterprise SEO service and department for the top 10 UK search and digital marketing agency, Vertical Leap. I’ve led digital marketing departments since the early 2000’s and over the past several years have become a published industry author – my second book is launching in June 2019. Please tell us about your brand? Since 2001, Vertical Leap have been leading the way in search marketing, pioneering innovative techniques that keep our customers ahead of their online competitors. We use data science and machine learning combined with experience and expertise to dig deeper, achieve more and operate at greater scale. Our Apollo Insights technology ensures that no stone is left unturned when it comes to your search marketing campaign, and our experts prioritise and apply that insight, spending more time implementing a finely targeted set of activities that are quantitatively proven to provide the greatest impact. What are your main roles and responsibilities? Other than the direct campaigns and people that I manage, I ensure that our SEO service continually evolves, that my team receive the support they need and have everything available for them to provide an industry leading service. Paired with this is the ongoing focus on understanding our customers, their businesses, and search marketing; wants needs, goals and objectives – ensuring they are effectively translated into action plans and approaches able to deliver on, and repeatedly exceed changing expectations. Working with our in-house technology (Apollo Insights) my role frequently focuses on getting the most out of the working relationship between technology (AI, machine learning and intelligent algorithms) and our Enterprise SEO team of specialists. It’s this working combination of technology and expertise which derives our competitive advantage in SEO delivery. What is your main marketing focus and goals for 2019? Over a number of years key marketing focus has been on maximising data-driven insight, effective working between Apollo Insights and our search marketing experts, and remaining at the cutting edge of SEO delivery, so that our growing customer base receive the very best SEO services available and the optimum return on their marketing investment. 2019 continues this momentum and focus alongside our business expansion into increasingly distinct specialist roles which have been created and progressed over the past 18 months. Examples of this within our agency include Data Science specialists who ensure that data-led decision making remain at the forefront of our integrated approach to service provision and data visualisation (among other areas). Professionally I love to demystify and simplify search marketing, sharing insights and expertise learnt from successes and failures, making SEO more accessible to people regardless of budget, current experience of the industry, scale of brand, or level of expectations set. I strongly believe that SEO is currently only a fraction of its potential for businesses, and the technology fuelled changes such as voice, conversational commerce and experiential search are all examples of almost untapped opportunity to explore in 2019 and beyond. How important is email to your marketing mix and how much of your budget (%) is allocated to this? Email is increasingly important for progressing effective workflows and nurturing our audience at every stage of the information seeking and buying process. As a marketing medium email enables us to showcase our expertise, share our staff stories, and educate the wider market on practical approaches for achieving market leading results within an ever evolving and increasingly competitive online industry. As a customer centric company email is one of the core communication channels to support our customers and provide regular progress updates. What are your main challenges you face as a marketeer? Keeping on top of the very latest industry nuances, changes, and updates will always be challenging. It is not the ability to read, absorb, and report on this, but the time required to consider the new opportunities and advantages that industry change can bring to our customers when applied into real-world search marketing campaigns. Another challenge that comes to mind is always being able to implement as much of the data-driven opportunities which occur as possible. Part of this is tied to the volume and variety of actions that are always available to act on, the other aspect are the obstacles that can present themselves when translating opportunity into implementation. Overcoming barriers to taking action is a key part of the search marketing experts role, and however effective people become in this area, you always aspire for more. Which other marketeers inspire you and why? My team and peers do, almost every day. I’m privileged to work with people at the top of their games, who contribute naturally to our service and company, and never settle for the status quo. Having a company culture of trust, empowerment, experimentation, and creativity is inspiring and leads us to achieve some amazing things. If you could give one tip to aspiring marketers what would that be? Be passionate about what you do and take action. Does that count as two things? For me personally, everything stems from caring about what you do enough so that you have to take action whenever you can. This applies to delivering a service as much as it does about your contribution to the team, the company, plus the customers you work with and can positively impact. Practically tools such as Google Optimise enable people to take actions sooner, overcome barriers to implementation, and continually refine and improve your results (all driven by data of course). What are your marketing trends predictions for the year ahead? Experiential search is going to be at the heart of most marketing activity. People’s expectations are higher than ever before, and they demand a seamless and changing informational, educational, discovery, brand and buying experience that goes beyond simply integrating online and offline. Added to this, is the growing impact of technology adoption spanning more humanistic and conversational user preferences, plus the growing impact of personal, historical, and circumstantial data on predicting and matching search needs. Marketing is becoming more personal, comprehensive, and predictive, in no small part because of AI and machine learning, and this ability to utilise data to appeal to people, is the thread for marketers to follow. Thanks Lee for taking the time to speak with us! We have some more great interviews with our Marketing Heroes lined up. And if you’re an expert in the field of marketing and would like to get involved please drop us an email.