Day 2 – Marketing Partners: Essential Allies or Necessary Frenemies?


1. Julie Collins (@jknob8)

2. Kevin Mullett (@kmullett)

3. Amy Shipman (@amykayaks)


1. Chris Sherman (@CJSherman)

Collins explains that as VP of Integrated Brand Marketing at financial giant Morgan Stanley, her team is less interested in brand building and more interested in lead generation for a network of 15,000 local financial advisors – essentially franchisees – working out of regional Morgan Stanley offices.

While these internal partners are financially savvy, they occasionally proved to be less than adept at search engine marketing, using copy, images and promotional tactics that were off-brand and off-message for Morgan Stanley’s standard digital programs.

In addition, Collins saw these partners become “frenemies” to her team’s budget as they began aggressively bidding for national keywords, driving up CPCs for both themselves and the Morgan Stanley corporate office. This posed a challenge as these regional financial advisors considered themselves to effectively be small business owners concerned with their own marketing and customer acquisition.

Collins solved this problem by unifying all SEM efforts through the home office, establishing a structured hierarchy that included national, regional and local campaigns that acted as “swim lanes” to keep financial advisors from accidentally bidding up on national campaign keywords.

By researching and building out a list of national, regional and local keywords and ads, the Morgan Stanley team was able to coordinate a tiered system of ads for which local queries for financial services would always return local advisors as the top query. The corporate team also built out a centralized repository of educational resources to answer frequently-asked questions, as well as case studies documenting specific successes – which, over time, more-quickly facilitated adoption from other financial advisors in the company’s network.

Amy Shipman explains that in her capacity as digital strategist at HP, her primary goal is to promote sales of ink and toner cartridges – a process that has changed substantially due to the advent of online shopping. The customer journey of 10+ years ago involved customers first choosing physical storefronts to visit, then picking up a product off the shelf. This emphasized the importance of dominating shelf space.

Shipman describes 3 principles of maximizing shelf presence:

  • Customer experience on SERP as a whole – thinking holistically about the full appearance of SERP
  • Focus on coverage of product, not URL rank – It’s arguably less important who sells HP ink, as long as it’s HP ink that’s sold
  • Partners are critical for maximizing coverage

To maximize her digital shelf presence, Shipman used these 5 steps:

Conduct keyword research – This involved comprehensive qualitative study, including hours of international interviews, as well as quantitative analysis of how many keywords would be necessary and how much would be required to buy them

Create a click curve – Shipman describes this as her “hack” to dominate virtual shelf space by assigning values to every SERP position (not just position #1), and valuing real estate by channel.

Enable search tracking – By tracking keywords, Shipman’s team was able to determine which keywords showed up where and how often for both paid and organic listings.

Rate resellers – The biggest part of Shipman’s “hack,” this rating system gave her team an at-a-glance dashboard showing the position dominance of different types of rated resellers. Resellers that primarily sold HP products above-the-board were considered “friends”; resellers that strongly de-emphasized HP products were considered “foes.” This aggregate dashboard gave her team the ability to see that paid position #1 on SERP might primarily consist of traffic from “friendly” retailers, while top organic positions on SERP might primarily consist of traffic from “foe” retailers, which would require her SEO team to take action to strengthen “friendly” retailers’ online presence on SERP. Shipman’s team aggressively uses co-op partnerships for both paid and organic to ensure her teams can boost paid, organic and Google Shopping rankings for HP products. The HP team is also exploring using shared AdWords accounts for affiliates to provide even greater performance transparency.

Project product coverage – Combining all these elements provides an aggregate, product-based view of the digital shelf.


Navneet Kaushal is the Editor-in-Chief of PageTraffic Buzz. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet is also the CEO of SEO Services company PageTraffic which is one of the leading search marketing company in Asia.