Lisa Wehr, Founder and CEO of Oneupweb

PromotionWorld: Would you tell us a few words about yourself and your professional background? As founder of Oneupweb, how did you come up with the idea of establishing the company and when did this happen?

Lisa Wehr: Prior to Oneupweb, I attended college with a focus on commercial advertising photography, worked as a forensic photographer, a mounted policewoman in Florida, and was a pretty serious musher with my own sled-dog team in Alaska. When I stopped racing competitively, I started a guided tour business. People would visit Alaska to learn how to mush dogs, and I would act as their guide. In 1996, I decided I wanted to bring in more business, so I went to Wal-Mart, bought a computer and taught myself how to use it. Word spread that I knew how to design websites, and I started getting customers. But they wanted their websites seen by more people, so I decided to figure out how to make that happen. The result was Oneupweb, a search marketing company. A few years ago the company moved to Traverse City, and just last year we moved into our new 23,000 square foot global headquarters on Grand Traverse Bay.

Today, Oneupweb is a recognized leader in digital marketing, providing services that include: natural search engine optimization (SEO), paid search marketing (PPC), conversion improvement and analytics, podcast production, online media planning and placement, social media marketing and search marketing consultation for in-house marketing teams.

PromotionWorld: What distinguishes Oneupweb from the other companies in the industry, and what keeps you ahead of the competition? What are Oneupweb's major achievements through the years?

Lisa Wehr: There are hundreds of companies out there who offer the same services we do, on varying levels. The things that distinguish us are the number of years that we have been successfully offering online marketing services (more than 13), the results that we get for our clients, and most importantly, who we are. Oneupweb is a down-to-earth company that works hard, has fun and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is – especially if that means more success for our clients. We don’t automate everything like a lot of companies in our space. We believe skilled, professional oversight is needed for a truly successful and proactive digital campaign. And, we don’t believe in touting services unless we have the technology to support them–all of which is built in-house and can be customized as needed. We’re constantly looking for ways to take search further, pushing boundaries and trying new things. It’s why we’re often ahead of the curve, and it’s how we keep our clients ahead of the pack.

Oneupweb has grown from a 3-man company in my basement to a global company in a 23,000 square foot building on Grand Traverse Bay. During this time we’ve developed and designed industry-leading software including ROI trax®, a conversion analytics tool, and PodTractor® podcast tracking technology (the only one of its kind). We’ve won numerous awards, including Davey’s, ADDYs and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. And we’ve created some of the industry’s most successful online marketing campaigns for our clients.

PromotionWorld: What are your plans and ambitions for Oneupweb? How do you see it evolving over the next five years?

Lisa Wehr: Search has changed. As we invent more technologies, and provide consumers with more ways to interact digitally, online marketing will continue to change. Those that realize that, and prepare for it, will be successful. Oneupweb will continue to pay attention to the digital world that surrounds us, and evolve with it.

PromotionWorld: Which of the services you offer are most popular among your customers?

Lisa Wehr: At Oneupweb we emphasize an integrated approach. When each activity promotes the next, your message and your brand are made stronger. By integrating paid and natural campaigns with social media marketing and banner ads, a company can create buzz, increase brand recognition, generate more unique traffic and ultimately, drive important conversions and sales. And that’s what’s popular among our clients.

PromotionWorld:  As part of the company’s rebranding, you have recently redesigned your website. Why have you embarked on the rebranding process, and how does the new website reflect your new vision? What were the motives behind this move?

Lisa Wehr: The new reflects who we are as a company. It portrays our personality – something that sets us apart from every other company in our industry. It’s fun, informative and social. It’s different because online marketing is different. With the increased emphasis being placed on social media marketing, search has changed. It’s no longer a separate, additional online marketing service that might be interesting to try in the future. The time to get involved is now. And that’s exactly what we did.

The website was built and designed to inspire conversation – whether that conversation is about our services, our case studies or something else. Each page includes a “Share This” feature which enables the visitor to send that page to others using a social networking site, posting to a blog, through email and even by text message.

The copy in the site is conversational and down-to-earth – just like Oneupweb. We made a conscious effort in our new website to remove industry jargon. The saying goes that we could slide into corporate speak and drop some serious buzzwords, but those suck the oxygen out of the room. And we don’t want anyone to pass out. That, and online marketing is something that every company should be engaging in. It doesn’t need to be something that is riddled with jargon and hard to understand.

Every page on the website is filled with audio files, videos, images, photos, drawings and more. It’s fun, engaging and informative, and it’s this attention to detail that every client can expect when working with Oneupweb.

PromotionWorld: Recently Oneupweb released a paper on the current state of search marketing industry entitled “The Fusion of Search and Social Media”. Tell us more about the changes search engine marketing has faced and the holistic approach you think should be taken by the companies in order to establish a solid online presence.

Lisa Wehr: Major search engines are now indexing social content. This means that companies need to get involved and start posting well-optimized content to sites like YouTube and Flickr to increase and maintain their rankings in search engine results pages. But people aren’t just searching for information on the major search engines anymore. Instead, they are looking for brands, information and reviews on sites they know and use like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more. Think of it as a type of online word-of-mouth marketing. A potential customer sees your video on YouTube, decides to find out more about your company, goes to your website and makes a purchase. Or maybe a Flickr image leads a consumer to your blog. It’s about integration and interlinking these social outlets. And the more brand touch points you have out there, the better. Plus, you get to be in the conversation with your target audience. No longer are you interrupting them to get your message across. Instead, you’re talking with them, learning about them and gaining important insight.

PromotionWorld: Are your clients asking you to provide them with a social media optimization strategy? What social media tools and tactics do you usually apply?

Lisa Wehr: Every client is different, and therefore, every client’s target audience is different. The social media optimization strategy that works for one client may not work for another. It’s important to do your research to understand a client’s target audience, what they are looking for and which social outlets are right for them. It may be a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a YouTube Channel or something else entirely. The research comes first, and then you build the strategy from there.

PromotionWorld:  Which are the common misconceptions about conducting social media campaigns and establishing social media presence?

Lisa Wehr: One of the most common misconceptions about conducting a social media campaign and establishing a social media presence is that every company needs a Facebook or MySpace page, which they can build on their own. In other words, it’s easy, it’s free and the strategy starts and stops with Facebook and MySpace. And a lot of people still believe that social media marketing is for the younger generation.
Unfortunately, social media just isn’t that easy. Each company is different, every target audience is different and therefore, each social media campaign will be different. You have to research a target audience, find out which social outlets they are using, and go from there. Maybe they’re on Facebook and MySpace, maybe it’s LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter or something else entirely. Then, once you’ve identified the appropriate social networking site, you have to consistently update and maintain these social profiles – finding new ways to engage with your audience and bring them back to your website. It’s a big task, and one that you can’t start and stop at whim. There’s nothing worse than abandoning a conversation with your target audience, other than starting without a solid plan.

And as for social media marketing being just for kids–30 million baby-boomers are currently connecting on LinkedIn, and CMO’s across the globe are active on Twitter.

PromotionWorld:  What are some of the opportunities in social media that marketers are not taking advantage of?

Lisa Wehr: Marketers are still looking at social media as a service that is separate from search engine marketing. It’s often that they have heard of social media, and want to get involved, but not right now. And that’s wrong. The time is now to get involved and start taking advantage of the opportunities social media presents.

It’s a unique way to connect with an audience – to really be involved in the conversation rather than advertising at them. This presents a tremendous opportunity to gain insight into your target audience. Through social media, you can and will form relationships with your customers that could result in an increase in loyal clients and brand advocates that will readily recommend your company to others. To break it down, social media is a kind of word-of-mouth marketing, online, that can help lower acquisition costs, bring in more qualified leads and increase sales.

PromotionWorld: If you could only give one social media marketing tip, what would it be?

Lisa Wehr: I can give three. Research your audience, be consistent and don’t try to do it all yourself – seek help from an online marketing partner.

Thank you very much for the interview.