From Parked Page to Profitable Business in 3 Months – with Jennifer Manz

How do you take a domain name with a single parked page and turn it into a 10,000-page profitable, local online community guide in three months?

Jennifer Manz of Mannix Marketing shares the content and marketing strategies that made GlensFallsRegion.com – an $8 hand-registered domain name run by three full-time equivalent employees – profitable after only three months of operation.

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About Jennifer Manz

Jennifer Manz, Mannix MarketingJennifer Manz is director of digital marketing for Mannix Marketing, a full-service Internet marketing firm specializing in design, development and search engine optimization based in New York. Mannix Marketing owns and operates Saratoga.com, Albany.com, LakeGeorge.com, Adirondack.net, CliftonPark.com and GlensFallsRegion.com, the example used throughout this show.

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Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you come to learn how to become a successful domain name entrepreneur directly from the experts.

How do you take a local geo-domain from a parked page to a profitable business in less than three months? Joining us to share the process and tactics is Jennifer Manz. Jennie is the Director of Digital Marketing at Mannix Marketing, a full service Internet marketing firm specializing in design, development, and search engine optimization, and they’re based in New York. What’s also unique about Mannix Marketing is that they won and operate local, geo-websites including Saratoga.com, Albany.com, LakeGeorge.com, GlensFalls.com, Adirondack.net, and CliftonPark.com

Jennie, welcome to the show.

Jennifer Manz: Thank you so much for having me.

Michael: I want to start the show by thanking Sara Mannix for recommending that I speak to you, Jennie. We had a conversation yesterday, we had a conversation back at GeoPublishers – I think it was back in the Fall – put on by Fred Mercaldo. And every time I speak with you, you’re always helpful, you’re always open, and you’re just wonderful to have a conversation with. But let me say this also. Sara Mannix, you’re not off the hook for coming on DomainSherpa! So we’re going to get you on another show.

Jennifer: Yes. Definitely make sure she comes on.

Michael: Alright. Yeah, she gave a presentation at GeoPublishers that was fantastic.

I mentioned to you, Jennie, in our pre-interview call, yesterday, that I received a very useful email from an audience member recently. He said, basically, the stories, the strategies, the tactics of the people coming on DomainSherpa going from millionaire to billionaire are fantastic. They’re inspiring. They’re entertaining. But this is what he said. ‘I’d like to know more about how people go from hundred to thousands in revenue. And then, thousands to tens of thousand and on up’.

So when we spoke yesterday, you suggested that we talk about one of your newer websites for this show. The website is GlensFallsRegions.com. Did I get that right. Or is it region?

Jennifer: Region.

Michael: Region. GlensFallsRegion.com. So, Jennie, I made the first mistake right there. It’s not getting edited out. GlensFallsRegion.com. So, as a little background for the audience, where is Glens Falls Region located, and what cities make up that region?

Jennifer: Well, we are in Upstate New York. We are about forty-five minutes from Albany – the capital region in the State -, and it’s a very small tight knit community. We have a population of about ten to fifteen thousand in Glens Falls itself. But the entire warrant county is about sixty thousand. So it is a very small Upstate rural community in a lot of senses, but we do have very tight communities as well.

Michael: Alright. Great. So that gives us an idea of how big the area is. And, you know, it’s not teeny. It’s not two thousand people that you took a website live for. But in comparison, the population of Seattle – where in the general region that I live in is five hundred and sixty-three thousand. So if you’ve got sixty thousand in the largest county, there’s some relative factors. And so, if people are watching this interview and thinking to themselves, ‘Maybe I can do something in my local area; this is of interest’, that gives them some of a comparison. So, you know, the thing that’s cool about this show is, you know those weight loss commercials on TV or in magazines? And they show the before and the after shot of the person, and they look fantastic? I want to do the same for GlensFallsRegion.com. What did GlensFallsRegion.com look like, say, two years ago, or three years ago?

Jennifer: It was basically a one page site. You landed on it; had a little bit of content on it. No photos. No nothing. It just sat there. Just sat there and got virtually no traffic.

Michael: That’s it. So it didn’t actually provide any information? It was just a landing page.

Jennifer: It was just a landing page with a little bit about Glens Falls, and that’s it.

Michael: Okay. So a step up from a parked page?

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Alright. So do you know, when it was just this landing page, how many unique visitors and page views it received per month?

Jennifer: Oh, too little to even mention. Maybe a thousand.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: Too few.

Michael: And today, what’s the current size of the website in terms of unique visitors and page views?

Jennifer: For unique visitors, we get twenty thousand uniques, which is larger than the Glens Falls population as a whole. And it gets about forty-five thousand visits, on average, per month. And I’m using last months percentages; typically, in our area, is on of the slowest months. So, even in September, we got about seventy thousand visits. So we were really happy with the steady growth of the site.

Michael: Great. And then, how does that translate into page views? Do you know?

Jennifer: Yeah. It was about a hundred and fifty-five thousand page views a month.

Michael: Great. And people will, while they’re watching this show, probably bring up another tab; go to GlensFallsRegion.com, and then take a look at it as they’re listening to us talk. How many business are listed on the GlensFallsRegion.com website?

Jennifer: We currently have over a thousand business on the site.

Michael: Wow.

Jennifer: Probably a hundred.

Michael: Alright. And do every single one of those businesses pay to be on the website?

Jennifer: Well, we have some pay. And we did, when we first kicked off the site, we made the decision that we wanted to work with a local chamber of commerce to unite and helping to market the region, and helping to provide a member benefit for the region. And in turn, we were able to get a lot of the members on to our site, to fill the site out and provide a very useful resource for the campaign.

Michael: Alright. And that is one of the really cool tactics that we’re going to dig into more in the interview. And, you know, we talked about this a little bit yesterday. I’ve got to ask the question because my audience is going to wonder; what’s the current revenue of the GlensFallsRegion.com website?

Jennifer: The current revenue. Well, without getting into too many specific factors, we did make up a revenue within the first quarter as you had said earlier. So we’re definitely turning a profit, and we’re just continuing to see growth. Just as in a side, from the first year that we launched GlensFallsRegion to this year, we doubled or traffic. So, in turn, we were able to provide a better resource for our clients, and upsell a lot more of our chamber members, and our own clients on the site.

‘Michael: Fantastic. So, it is a profitable business, it used to be a parked page; two years later, it’s a profitable business. And this is going to be a very cool show because we’re going to go through the tactics that were used to develop a local geo-domain website from, basically, nothing into what it is today. And you did it, you know, becoming profitable in about three months. So, fantastic interview in store. But first, before we get into these detailed questions about the website, I want to ask you a few questions Jennie.

You’re currently director of Digital Marketing. Digital media marketing at Mannix. But you weren’t hired in that position. What was your first role at Mannix?

Jennifer: Well, about three months after I was hired with Mannix, I started out as a marketing assistant. And I soon moved over to search engine optimization. That was the main core base that really kicked off Mannix Marketing. And we’ve been a successful SEO company; one of the most cutting edge companies for SEO. So we really were able to leverage our knowledge in SEO to develop out our online geo-domains. So a couple of years after I had been working as an SEO specialist, we really realized the potential and profitability, and the tourism that we could drive to the area by developing out our geo-domains.

Michael: Yeah, I’m always amazed when I run into search engine optimization experts or specialists, or whatever you want to call them, and I go to their website, and I don’t see domains out there. It’s like, if you can do this, why do you only consult? Why don’t you actually have some websites of your own, if it’s so easy to get them to the top of Google? And, I know you can argue, ‘Well, I don’t want to be in the advertising business’, and I don’t want to do this and that. But it’s almost like a portfolio. If you can’t manage your own portfolio, how can you manage other people’s portfolios? And so, it’s very cool to see all of these geo-domains that these local websites that you own and run, and you’re actually practicing what you preach as well.

Jennifer: Exactly. And we’re able to use; a lot of the times we use them as testing grounds to see what’s working and what’s not working. And then we can take that information we learn from our own sites and we apply them to our clients sites. And vice versa. We learn a lot when we’re working on a client’s site, and the SEO team comes back to us and says, ‘You guys really need to do this’.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: So we’re really able to cross from our knowledge base.

Michael: Great. And so, have you had other positions at Mannix as well? You started as a Marketing Assistant. How did you go from Marketing Assistant to Director of Digital Marketing?

Jennifer: That’s an interesting question. I wasn’t in the Marketing Assistant position very long. I think they just saw potential in me to do good analysis on websites and produce content, and show results for our clients. And back in ’08, I believe, or ’07, when Sarah really wanted to develop all the portals. We didn’t have a geo-domain team before that. And so, it was a natural transition to get someone in the roll that has been with the company, that knew our geo-domains, and understand where we wanted to go with them and really make a difference there.

Michael: Got it.

Jennifer: So, ever since then, we just kind of developed out that team, and now we have nine people that are devoted to our geo-domains.

Michael: Wow. I mentioned Digital Marketing or Internet Marketing as your main role. Do you have people within Mannix Marketing that do non-Digital Marketing? That only handle print or newspapers; is that somebody else’s responsibility?

Jennifer: No. We are strictly online. The digital factor comes into our new mobile sites, and mobile apps, and all those other mobile marketing services. Do do some print work, but we’re really focused in our core constituency in Internet marketing.

Michael: Cool. Alright. Now I’m going to ask you about mobile also. Because, in the pre-interview, we talked about how you just launched a mobile website for GlensFallsRegion.com. So now let’s get to the question that everybody wants to know. How many domain names do you, personally, own?

Jennifer: Me, as a person, or does the company own?

Michael: You, as a person. I want to know Jennie Manz’s portfolio. How many domains; how many are parked?

Jennifer: Well, this is embarrassing. I have one. I have one. I am totally devoted to Mannix Marketing.

Michael: Alright. What’s your one domain name?

Jennifer: Oh, gosh. Do I have to say?

Michael: You don’t. I thought, maybe if it’s something person, we don’t need to go into it. I thought it might’ve been JennieManz.com or JenniesCool.com, or something like that.

Jennifer: No. It’s – Oh, gosh. This is embarrassing. I plead the fifth.

Michael: Alright. Tell me. If it’s really embarrassing, I’ll edit it out of the show. And if it’s not, I’m going to leave it in.

Jennifer. It was TheBeautyAuthority.net. And originally, I wanted to do ILoveSkinCare and ILoveMakeup, and all that kind of good stuff. So I was going to develop something along that line.

Michael: That’s cool. That’s not embarrassing. You know, your entrepreneurial interests. So, you couldn’t get the .com?

Jennifer: I couldn’t get the .com. Yep.

Michael: Yep. So you hand registered the .net.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Alright.

Jennifer: Since then, I’ve done nothing with it. So, actually edit it out.

Michael: I’m leaving that in. So many of us have domain names that we haven’t done anything with. Maybe somebody will want to come. You know, whoever owns TheBeautyAuthority.com or BeautyAuthority.com is probably going to email you next and say, ‘Hey Jennie, let’s work together’.

Jennifer: Make a deal. Perfect.

Michael: Alright. So let’s go back in time. What year did Mannix Marketing buy GlensFallsRegion.com?

Jennifer: GlensFallsRegion was; we purchased that in 2008. So it was fairly recently that we purchased it.

Michael: And according to my research, it was early 2008. So it was just before the recession actually was felt by everybody. I’m sure Sarah paid a lot of money for it. How much did she pay for it?

Jennifer: Oh, for GlensFallsRegion, we paid eight dollars, seven dollars, whatever the rate was.

Michael: What? Eight dollars! Alright. Why did you buy GlensFallsRegion.com rather than GlensFalls.com?

Jennifer: Well, at the time, GlensFalls.com was owned by another domainer. And we wanted to scoop up the region really as a we had LakeGeorge.com, we had Saratoga.com, and I know most people out there don’t know the area. But Glens Falls was right in the middle of these two tourist attractions in Upstate New York. So we wanted to do something that was going to beneficial to our clients that weren’t tourism region. Were the lawyers, and the dentists, and you know. So we wanted to develop a local online community guide. So she grabbed that domain with, I’m sure, the intention of working towards getting GlensFalls.com.

Michael: Alright. And so, you mentioned a domainer buying GlensFalls.com. They did not develop it? Was it a parked page at the time?

Jennifer: Yeah.

Michael: And if somebody types that in today, they are redirected to GlensFallsRegion.com. How did that happen?

Jennifer: Well, that goes along with our relationship with the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce. When we had purchased that domain, one of the goals was to work with the local community organizations and try to work synergistically with them. We all have very similar goals, but very different goals at the same time. And in order to really drive tourism to the area, and to drive locals to the area, and to get people talking about Glens Falls and the outlining communities – Queensbury, Kingsbury, Etc. We really knew we wanted to get backing from another organization. So when we got GlensFallsRegion.com, we didn’t want a pigeon hole those chamber members from thinking that we weren’t going to be promoting the other areas.

Michael: Right. Right. That makes sense. So you went for Region.com, which allows everyone to feel inclusive online community guide that you were developing. But then you actually bought GlensFalls.com later on. Is that correct?

Jennifer: Exactly. Yep.

Michael: Okay. And do you remember when you bought that one?

Jennifer: That was in 2010. It was pretty much right after had launched GlensFallsRegion.com. Purchased that for thirty-five thousand dollars.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: And to have and to redirect.

Michael: Right. So if anybody mistypes it, it’ll just redirect.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: But you’re not using it to build the website on because you want to have a more inclusive domain name title for your online guide.

Jennifer: Exactly. If we’re doing any billboards, or signage, in Glens Falls specifically, we will use the GlensFalls.com domain.

Michael: Got it. Makes sense. Alright. So it sat dormant, like a parked page from January 2008 until March 2010. And then, I guess, Sarah had this idea that she wanted to develop out the region. Do you know what inception was for the business plan for the property? You know, does Sarah have a bunch of domain names? And then she just prioritizes them and decides, ‘Okay, we’re going to do another online guide’, and rolls them out?

Jennifer: Yeah. We have a portfolio of – Oh, gosh. – I think thirty-five geo-domains at this time. And we live and breathe in Glens Falls; our offices are in Glens Falls. We always had a relationship with the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce. We’re a Chamber member. So it was always Sarah’s goal to work with them, and come up with a plan that we could help promote them while also not competing with a two sites ahead directories.

Michael: Right.

Jennifer: We didn’t want to alienate our current clients on this site either. So we really wanted to figure out a way to work collaboratively with them.

Michael: Alright. And I’m going to come back and ask you more about that. Because often times it does seem like it’s duplicate content to have, you know, an online community. But really, a lot of Chamber of Commerce’s do the same thing. They have the business directory listings. They have the event calendar. They promote the local community. So I’m going to get into a little bit more about the differences between the two. So, Mannix Marketing builds out these local geo-domain websites for a local online community guide. What was the first thing that you guys did when you decided that you wanted to build out GlensFallsRegion.com?

Jennifer: Well, the first thing, after we collaborated with the chamber.

Michael: Oh, the first thing actually was the chamber.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Michael: So before you designed anything, before you built anything, before you did any online marketing, you went to the Chamber?

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: So let’s start there then. So Sarah has had relationships with the Chamber. The business is there like you said. Mannix Marketing is there. You’re a part of the community. So, what did Sarah do? Did she go and talk to the Chamber President, and say, what?

Jennifer: Exactly. Well, it really came down to we want to help the Chamber, and we want to help the Chamber members. And, you know, I think most Chambers have the issue of, ‘How can we provide the very best services for our members, how can we retain them as members, and provide the most value for our members’. And we saw this site as a great way to give the Chamber members a free online listing on a site we knew we were going to be working on and developing out to drive the locals to that site. The Chamber site, itself, did have a directory that was a little plain. So that was one thing that they wanted to do; was to expand out and to provide a deeper listing for their Chamber members. And we said, ‘Hey, you know, this is something we’re experts in. This is something that we’re constantly developing out. So instead of using your resources to do something that’s going to be very similar to what we’re going to do, why not team up and make this a Chamber benefit?’

Michael: So, most Chambers are just distraught with bureaucracy, and making decisions is tough, and I would suspect that it has long lead times. Was this a quick decision, or was something that Sarah was having conversations with them for like a year to try and get going?

Jennifer: I’m not sure if it was a year, but it was definitely over a couple of months. It took us six months to work out the nitty gritty, and then figure out how we’re going to get all these Chamber members – you know, the thousand members – into our system. So there was a lot of that kind of negotiations, but, you know, it really worked out. It really worked out very well.

Michael: Alright. So the idea was that the Chambers whole purpose is to promote the local businesses that are members of the Chamber.

Jennifer: Correct.

Michael: That’s their whole mission in life. And if they’re not promoting their members, if their members don’t feel like they’re getting financial benefit, then the members are going to pay their hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred dollars per year to be a member of the Chamber.

Jennifer: Right. They have to see the value in the Chamber.

Michael: Right. Okay. And so, often times you have businesses – small businesses – in local communities that say, ‘You know, I don’t need a Chamber sticker in my window. It’s not bringing people in. I don’t see any promotion from the Chamber’. And the value proposition that you proposed to them was, ‘We will, instead of you spending all your money developing out a more indepth directory on your website, which you’re going to spend money on; it’s probably not going to be that great online because you’re not search engine optimization experts. You’ll probably spend a lot of money; you won’t do it correctly’. And, you know, you didn’t say this. But it’s not going to have the full benefit. Why don’t you take that money and do something with us instead?

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: ‘And we will build out this directory. We will partner with you’. And so, what does that partnership look like? You know, why doesn’t the Chamber feel like they’re just giving up all their customers to you?

Jennifer: Well, I think part of it is they were investing in their Chamber members to provide them a Chamber benefit; and looking at it from that perspective. And seeing that, if we. What happens is they get; we have a different level of advertising on our site. So all Chamber members were able to get a gold level listing on the site. It’s a really rich microsite. but it is the bottom level on our website. So, with that, we were able to offer them upgrades, and other advertising options. In an exchange, the Chamber would get a revenue share from us too.

Michael: Ah, fantastic. So, everybody in the Chamber immediately becomes your lowest level – the gold level -. And what would that cost them if they weren’t a Chamber member and they wanted to come to you and buy that level?

Jennifer: Yeah, it would be two hundred and fifty dollars a year.

Michael: So that’s their Chamber membership cost right there.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: And they get a search engine optimized rich directory listing on the largest website for that area; probably one of the largest websites for that area.

Jennifer: Exactly. And, with that, we did have a full login account system. So they could add in their events calendar; they could add in coupons; they could add in press releases; they could add classifieds if they’re a small little business. So we offered all those other services to them free of charge. And, on top of that, then we were able to; you know, the members manager over at the Chamber. When he was talking to a Chamber member and he had a really interesting conversation with them that made a really good story. They were doing a really cool event. Then he was able to communicate with us directly and say, ‘Hey. This would make a really great story to promote on GlensFallsRegion.com’ knowing that GlensFallsRegion.com was going to get traffic that is looking for that community information, which they may or may not have gone to a Chamber of Commerce website for.

Michael: Yeah. No. I don’t think of going to a Chamber of Commerce website for event information. Especially local, brand new event that’s coming out next week, or something like that. So, yeah, fantastic. So, was there ever a time that you heard that the Chamber thought of this as it’s purely competition? Did you have to get over that hurdle where they didn’t look at you as a competitor, but looked at you as a partner opportunity for mutual benefit?

Jennifer: I think before we proposed the relationship with them, I think there was not necessarily with the Adirondack Chamber of Commerce, but I think with any kind of Chamber of Commerce and then a site like ours, you could see some crossover competition. At the end of the day, I think Mannix Marketing is very much a strong believer in, we want to help the community. We want to make sure that we’re all doing our part instead of competition. Because at the end of the day, if we’re competing, then no one wins. So let’s focus on our core constituencies. And, for us, it was driving traffic to the local businesses. And I think they really saw value in that. Not only that; we’re also helping to promote the Chamber. All of the Chamber members on our site get a Chamber badge – a logo – saying that they’re a Chamber member; and studies have shown that that helps provide confidence in that business. So that was one thing we weren’t totally comfortable with before advertising a Chamber of Commerce site on our website. So this is a really great way to unite the two.

Michael: Yeah. No. It sounds like a win, win, win. So, basically, they didn’t have to spend a lot of money to develop out their own website that may fall short of their expectations. They could rely on you to do that. All their members get a benefit by immediately becoming a gold member. And then if you’re able to upsell those Chamber members into – what’s above gold? Platinum?

Jennifer: We have diamond.

Michael: Titanium?

Jennifer: Titanium.

Michael: Titanium. So if you’re able to upsell someone to a Titanium level, then you actually take a portion of that revenue income and you give it back to the Chamber.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: So every month they’re getting a check back from Mannix Marketing.

Jennifer: Precisely.

Michael: Fantastic. Alright. Sounds like a pretty good win, win, win; Chamber, Chamber members, and Mannix Marketing proposition. Was there ever any hurdles once you got the okay and when you were implementing it that you can remember?

Jennifer: I think the one hurdle was, ‘How are we going to reach out to the Chamber members and continuously show them the value?’ And one of the big things that we had was, we have this really rich microsite that the members can fill out, and you know, they can fill out a huge long description explaining their hours of operation, all their businesses and services; they can add those. They can add video. And, for us, you know, to try to hit the pavement and touch all of these members I think was one of our hurdles. But about seven months into the relationship we realized, oh, why don’t we go to these member orientations when the Chambers are talking about maximizing their membership, and explaining the benefits of the site, and explaining how the website works, and showing them where they are, and showing them their stats and how to add this information; and how that can help them not only get more clicks, and more inquiries, on their site, but how it can also affect their own website traffic.

Michael: Right. And so, you have about a thousand members I think you said in the Chamber – in the Glens Falls Region. And so, how many of those thousand would you say are actively managing their own directory listing microsite?

Jennifer: Great question. We have – at my last glance at it – about seven hundred and forty people were in there adding on description, adding photos.

Michael: Wow. That’s fantastic. Because, you know, if your small town is anything like my small town, most of the business don’t even have websites – it seems like. You know, I walk down my main street. I’ll see a Facebook page, and then I’ll go onto Facebook and there’s no information. They never post any updates or anything. And so, you know, when you want the hours information, or you’re not sure if they open at 10 AM or 11 AM on a Sunday, you know, being able to quickly type in the name of the company and have that pop up number one in a search engine results is very useful from a consumer perspective.

Jennifer: Absolutely. And, you know, I was really pleasantly surprised to see those numbers too. It really has just been a lot of effort, but, you know, through email newsletters, through social media, through email newsletters from the Chamber, and just kind of constantly touching base and driving home how important this is, and you’re only going to get out what you put into it.

Michael: Right.

Jennifer: And, you know, those seminars really did help. The one-on-ones were always available to help them with their microsite and build them out for them. So it’s really been.

Michael: Got it. So you did the orientations where you walk them through to do it so they could do it themselves, and you hit mass amounts of people. But then you also did one-on-ones with shop owners, and you said, ‘Hey, let’s go through this together. Let’s put in the information’, and you put it in for them.

Jennifer: Exactly. We were very open with them. If you can’t do it, if you’re too busy to do it, let us take it over for you. We really want you to see the value.

Michael: Boy, yeah.

Jennifer: And, selfishly, it’s going to help our sites too.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: It’s going to help when someone types in Glens Falls Nightlife, or Glens Falls Restaurants, then that will get us to the top of the search engines, and then it’ll help our advertisers.

Michael: Definitely. So that two fifty a year for the lowest level listing; that’s a year, correct? It’s not a one time fee?

Jennifer: Yeah.

Michael: Okay. So every year they get a free directory listing just by maintaining their Chamber list.

Jennifer: Correct.

Michael: Their Chamber membership. So, every year the Chamber, or every month the Chamber, sends you a list of new companies to add and companies who have dropped their membership, and you pull their listing out of the premium listing and move them down to a lower level.

Jennifer: Yeah. You have it spot-on Mike.

Michael: Alright. Great. Alright. So you set up the Chamber member. It sounds like it was a lot of work. If you had to estimate – now I know this is just a swag. If you had to estimate how much that led to the success of the website on a percentage basis, like zero contributed nothing to driving traffic or revenue, and a hundred percent it was the only thing we ever needed to do, what would you guess is?

Jennifer: I would say at least fifty percent.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: At least. You know, it’s hard. We do have a limited staff. But having Chamber members actively out there, our Chamber employees out there, advocating our site. You know, and that initial investment also helped us do billboard campaigns, and do radio ad campaigns, and they helped give us some good leads to go and talk to for media sponsorships of Chamber members. They were able to get the word out. And, you know, at the end of the day, we are a small community. So having their advocacy, and our advocacy, and building up the database from the start, and then knowing the events that they have going on, having another ear out there listening has all been.

Michael: So, wait a second. Let me back up for a second. They actually paid you money when you launched this website in order to set up the relationship?

Jennifer: Well, it was what they were doing was investing in their Chamber members. So they were paying per member essentially.

Michael: Oh, okay. So it was a one time fee to get their members into the system?

Jennifer: Precisely.

Michael: Okay. Got it. Wow. That’s great. Alright. So, what was the next thing after you formed this relationship with the Chamber of Commerce in the area?

Jennifer: Well, with all of our local geo-domains, we have kind of a formula of what we seen that has worked. So, for us, this is a very local site. So we had to have local content on the site. Local events; our events calendar has been a huge success to the site. And it’s one user, or if we add an event to GlensFallsRegion.com, it not only hits GlensFallsRegion.com, but it goes across our local geo-domains. So that’s been a huge success for us. To have thousands of events on our site. We also try to do a lot of content that’s going to want the user to keep coming back to the site. So if any of our clients are uploading coupons, that’s something that people are going to continuously come to the site for. If they’re uploading press releases, that’s something that’s going to continuously send traffic to the site. So we really try to think of. And contests. It’s all these things that we want to continuously run on the site to get people to say, ‘You know, this is a regular directory that’s a goto for anything and everything I’m looking for in the region’.

Michael: So what if I? Do you guys have police blotters our there? Where it says, you know, ‘So and so got pulled over’. It doesn’t say names, but like, ‘A thirty-four year old man got pulled over for drunk driving’. Do you have that out in New York as well?

Jennifer: It doesn’t. And, you know, I do know the popularity of those things. But one of our main goals has always been to be a happy news website. And that’s really to be family friendly. And it’s really for our advertisers. So they’re not having their ad wrapped around a potentially, you know, something that isn’t exactly.

Michael: Yeah. Something that you want your kids to read.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: So it’s the happy news website. But do you actually cover news? Is it a newspaper type of website?

Jennifer: We cover new happenings in the area. We cover (Unclear 36:29.8). We cover new business openings. We cover if any local celebrities are coming to the area. Jim (Unclear 36:37.4), one of the basketball players, is coming to the area. You know, he’s huge around our part, so we definitely try to promote all those kind of things.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: The big events, and just fun things to do in the area. We put out winter guides, and holiday guides. Resources of that magnitude.

Michael: Got you. So it sounds like the content comes from three different areas. And tell me if I’m right or wrong. It’s the user generated content. So you’ve got the business owners actually posting in their press releases, their coupons, their contents – things like that. You’ve got your guides, which are sort of the evergreen content that you can refresh every year or you may be able to run it. You know, go here for the winter holiday lights and watch the boat parade here, and you know, things like that. And then you’ve got your third things, which are the events. And people love to know what’s going on in the community. And if they have an event coming up, they want to get a promotion for it. And so, are those sort of the trifecta of the content that goes on at GlensFallsRegion?

Jennifer: Exactly. For the most part. We do have some bloggers that have come onto the site and content the readers to express their local opinions. But, yes, for the most part, that is the trifecta.

Michael: Fantastic. Alright. And so, you have since Mannix Marketing owns all those great portals that we talked about in the beginning of the interview; you have a technology platform. You, basically, took that technology platform, you duplicated it, you put it on the same or a different server, new logo, maybe some customization on the look and feel to better fit with the region, and then you just started populating it.

Jennifer: Exactly. Exactly. We always try to make the sites look a little bit different. It’s not a cookie cutter look for all of our sites as much as we kind of want to just because it’s easier. But we have wanted to appeal to the locals, and to that demographic versus LakeGeorge.com, which is very much a tourist destination site. So we have formulated that a little differently. But the basic programming and backend database is the same.

Michael: Okay. So, with this business that you took from a parked page to a profitable business in a few months primarily because you had this Chamber relationship, how many people work full time on this company? It sounds like like you got a lot going on. You’ve got your bloggers that you need to manage if their volunteers. You may need to pay them. You’ve got all these businesses that need handholding to take full advantage of their member benefits. You’ve got sales people that you’re trying to upsell. You’ve got writer that you’re writing these guides. It seems like you’ve got a lot. You’ve got a lot of people involved. How many full time equivalents would you say work on just this one website?

Jennifer: Well, we have – let’s see here – I would say collectively it’s really the portal development team that has six people. And then we have the sales team. And for GlensFallsRegion specifically, we have two sales reps out there. And then we have our Internet marketing coordinator that handles all of the ads for the sites, and helps with the handholding, and helps to build out the microsites and build out the contests. But then, yeah, we do have writers, and a programmer. We really split up our time on – we have – six major portals. So it’s about one sixth of that.

Michael: Okay. So is it fair to say. So you’ve got six people on the portal team, but you’ve got six portals. Is it fair to say that you’ve got one person dedicated to content on GlensFallsRegion.com?

Jennifer: Yeah. Yeah. I would say that.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: It’s not the same person because we try to mix it up so we don’t get bored. But yeah.

Michael: Right. Like maybe one person manage the events over all of them. But it’s the events for GlensFallsRegion. And then you said you have two sales people that are pounding the pavement. Is that just in GlensFallsRegion.com? Or is that across all of your websites?

Jennifer: No. We have to two that is pretty much devoted to GlensFallsRegion.com.

Michael: Wow.

Jennifer: And a little Adirondacks. But for the most part they’re strictly GlensFalls.

Michael: Fantastic. And then you’ve got one Internet marketing coordinator. Is that for the ads – I believe -, right? The ads that you’re placing on the different portals; is that across all six portals?

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: He does even more than that. Because we do have a lot of smaller niche sites as well. But he does all the display ads and all the microsite build-outs. So, yeah.

Michael: And then everybody else is part time. So you’ve got your strategic oversight, you’ve got a designer, you’ve got writers, you’ve got SEO experts that help on certain things.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Got you. Alright. That gives me an idea of all the resources that you have and what their general roles are. So it sounds like after you launched the website on day one, because of the Chamber relationship, you were able to get traction pretty quickly in terms of revenue. But in terms of traffic to the website? How do you, as the Director of Digital Marketing, measure traction when it comes to people visiting the site? How do you know when you’re getting enough people that you’re starting to hit critical mass, and people are telling people, and coming back on a regular basis?

Jennifer: Well, that’s a good question. I think, for us, we had a similar website. We have a similar website with a similar demographic and a similar local community. And we launched that one probably a year before GlensFallsRegion.

Michael: What website is that by the way?

Jennifer: CliftonPark.com.

Michael: CliftonPark.com. Okay.

Jennifer: And that’s also a very suburban local region. So we were able to compare. We were doing a lot of very similar things. We didn’t have a Chamber relationship at the time with them. But we were able to compare how that growth was compared to the growth of GlensFallsRegion.

Michael: Right.

Jennifer: And, you know, the difference was significant. The difference was very significant.

Michael: In terms of unique visitors? In terms of page views?

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: All of the above.

Michael: Okay. Interesting. So you’re saying that GlensFallsRegion.com had a much higher unique visitor and page view count than CliftonPark.com, which had the same technology, had the same marketing avenues, had the same content going up. So would you attribute gaining traction faster to the Chamber of Commerce relationship?

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Michael: Okay. So the Chamber of Commerce allowed you to create an interaction point with these thousand business owners in the area, right? You could say, ‘I want to help you do something. It’s not going to cost you any more money to get this Internet marketing’. So you had an opening. If you didn’t have the Chamber membership, you could of approached each of these companies individually. You’ve got two salespeople that are pounding the street everyday. But it would’ve been harder for them to get the time of the shop owners because they’re going to say, ‘Well, how much is this going to cost me?’ right off the bat before I give you any of my time.

Jennifer: Right. Right. And having that. You know, not just hearing it from Mannix Marketing, but hearing it from a third party saying this is a great benefit to you. You really need to utilize this. And here’s why. And having that on top of us going out there, I think, really made a difference.

Michael: Yeah. So knowing what you know now from CliftonPark and from GlensFallsRegion.com, if you were to launch a brand new website today in a smaller local area what would you say is a good traffic amount for a website in order to give you more credibility in the area?

Jennifer: For a region similar to ours?

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: Starting off, right off the bat?

Michael: Well, what I’m trying to do, and not conveying very clearly, is, you know, when people are starting up websites, they have no idea what success looks like. They have no idea if they should be confident when they have a website up and running if they have a thousand people visiting per month. Is that good, or is that not good? You know, should they be confident that if a thousand visitors are going to convert for customers, or should they wait to sell if they have fifty thousand people per month?

Jennifer: You know, that’s an interesting question. I kind of look at it as, it’s not always the number of people that are coming to the site. We could probably do much better as far as traffic. We could go out there and do pay per click, and spend a ton of money on getting a lot of traffic to the site. But it’s the relevant traffic. So I think really looking at who is coming to your site, who is utilizing the site, and looking at it that way. Versus I need to get seventy thousand, a hundred thousand, visitors to my site.

Michael: Got it.

Jennifer: Where is that traffic coming from.

Michael: So it’s not necessarily you need fifty thousand people if you have a thousand people coming and it’s all relevant, and they’re looking for pizza parlors and all you do is feature the pizza parlors in the local area. Like that’s all perfect traffic for those businesses, and they’re going to be happy. So then my follow up question is, how do you, as the owner of that website, determine whether the traffic is relevant?

Jennifer: Well, it comes down to. Well, we look at the stats to see where the traffic is coming from. Ninety percent of the traffic is local; heavy targeted. The keywords that they’re typing in are relevant. They’re looking for the events. They’re looking for businesses. They’re looking for that kind of information. So, for us, we saw that as a highly, highly targeted audience. So that coupled with, you know, seeing that, you know, just in GlensFalls there’s ten to fifteen thousand people, and we’re getting twenty thousand unique visitors a month to the site. You know, we looked at that and said, ‘Wow! that’s pretty significant’. You know, we got a big population in the area looking at our site; and coming back.

Michael: Got it. So, you know, I live on (Unclear 47:49.8) Island, outside of Seattle. There’s a large technology company called (Unclear 47:53.7), I think. I think they might own (Unclear 47:56.0).com. And so, if I somehow had a domain name that was related to that, and it was a bunch of people coming and looking for the technology rather than the island, that wouldn’t be good traffic. Being able to go into your Google Analytics or whatever Analytics program, and seeing that the traffic is coming from the local area and being able to look on the website to see what they’re doing; they’re looking events, they’re reading the guides, they’re looking at the business listings. That determines how relevant the content is. They’re not just showing up and immediately bouncing and leaving the website.

Jennifer: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s kind of what we’ve been saying. You know, sometimes when we see newspaper numbers, and newspaper impressions, on the web. And, you know, a lot of times they’re reading one story; you know, political information, or it could’ve been an associated press roll. And that’s it. They’re not looking for a local business.

Michael: Right.

Jennifer: So that’s what we found has been a success for us.

Michael: Yeah. And I don’t think to go to the local newspaper to find business information. You know, their hours, what kind of products they carry, things like that.

Jennifer: Right. You’re looking for the news.

Michael: Right.

Jennifer: Only news.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. So let me ask you this. And I’m not sure if you do a lot of competitive intelligence in the local area. But do you get more website traffic than, say, the largest newspaper in the area online? Or more than the Chamber of Commerce? Do you know?

Jennifer: As far as the newspaper, I think we are pretty up to par with them.

Michael: Got it. Alright. So, we talked about what kind of content is on GlensFallsRegion. It’s not a local paper, where you cover all of the news and the more news the better. You’re – I love the quote – a happy news website. So, new businesses, celebrities come to the area, things that people should check out. We talked about most important parts of the website. If you had to say the most important part of the website is this, what would you say?

Jennifer: Well, there would be two.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: I think before I voice, that events has always been a big part of our site. But that, and the directory. I look at the stats, and the directory portion of our site collectively of people looking for businesses, searching for a business, or coming to our site and finding a business. That has definitely been a huge, huge part of our site. And it’s the backbone.

Michael: Yeah, that makes sense. Alright. So you have all of this content that you’re putting up on the website. You know, the user generated content, the events, the guides. When you put it up on the website, not everybody’s coming to the website. You need to actually push it out to them, either through social media or other channels. What are your channels? How do you look at it from an internal perspective? When a new piece of content gets put up on the web, what do you do with it?

Jennifer: Well, we have a couple different things. We have RSS feeds on the site. We have quite a few social media pages. Facebook and Twitter; and Facebook has definitely been our number one social media outlet. And we don’t just utilize the GlensFalls page for pushing out the information. We have an Adirondack’s Facebook page, which has over – I think – about hundred thirty thousand fans.

Michael: Yeah, I was amazed to see how many fans you had on that back at the GeoPublishers conference.

Jennifer: Yeah. So that’s another great thing. We’re able to utilize all of our other regional outlets to push out Glens Falls area events too. Because, you know, I live in Saratoga, but it’s a fifteen minute drive to Glens Falls. Go to an event like that. So we definitely do a lot of cross promotion within our own sites. Email newsletters to target that information. And press releases; we do some local press releases as well.

Michael: What might you feature in a press release for GlensFallsRegion.com?

Jennifer: Well, definitely the Chamber relationship.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: Or if we have launched a new product or service on the site.

Michael: I would assume that the local paper thinks of you as a competitor. Is that a fair assumption?

Jennifer: Yeah. I would say they probably do.

Michael: And not that you do any news at all from a newspaper journalist perspective. So you’re not completely a journalistic competitor, but newspapers are a dying breed and they make most of their money not from the circulation, but from the ads that are in them. And they look at you as saying, ‘You’re taking money to upsell businesses and display advertising, and you’re taking that out of our budget’.

Jennifer: Oh, exactly. Exactly. And you see, I know you’ve probably seen newspaper websites as well trying to build out a directory, and offering those daily deals, and all the things like that.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: So I would have to imagine that they probably look at us as.

Michael: Yeah. So you put out the press release, it may not get picked up by the local paper, but who does it actually get picked up by?

Jennifer: Well, we send it out to all the Chambers. We’re members of lots of Chamber Associations.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: And local business journals. You know, those kind of organizations as well.

Michael: Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Alright. So I want to run through each of these. Because you are the Internet marketing queen, and I don’t know enough about it. But I do know that RSS feeds; unless you’re in a geek tech community, you have no idea what an RSS feed is. Right? Like, you go ask your mom what an RSS feed is. She’s like, ‘What?’ So why are RSS feeds useful?

Jennifer: Well, you know, surprisingly, I’ve seen it more with our bloggers that have the subscribe to this feed on their site. I think with, Google Reader at least, it’s very easy. You slap it in and then you’re keeping track of all that information. So I think it’s from these stats, from the XML feeds itself, it has been beneficial. So, I don’t know. That’s a great question.

Michael: Alright. So, basically, any content that comes out, the system automatically produces an XML feed, which is this really simple syndication. And then whoever wants to take it, can take it and consume it any way they want. If they want to put it up on their website they can. If they have a Google reader or some sort of Kindle that has a RSS feed, they can just look at all the news that’s coming out.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Michael: Okay. So, social media. [I’m sorry go ahead].

Jennifer: I think our audience is getting more savvy.

Michael: Yes. Social media. You mentioned Facebook and Twiiter. There’s a million other social media accounts. Are Facebook and Twitter the only two that you need to focus on essentially?

Jennifer: Well, that has been our majors. We have ventured into Google+. We’re using that as well. And another one that we just started looking at is Pinterest. Have you heard of Pinterest?

Michael: I’ve never. How do you spell that?

Jennifer: Pinterest.

Michael: Pinterest. Like interest with a P in front of it.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: And it’s a bulletin board, essentially, when you have a little pin it button at the top of your browser. And if you see a photo, or if you see a recipe, or you see a cool arts and crafts idea, you can hit the pin button to scribe it. And then anyone else who likes it can then repin it. And it’s a very visual virtual bulletin board. And we’re kind of using it to see if we could get some more people interested; especially with our Adirondack’s page.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: Everyone on our Adirondack’s page loves taking photos of the Adirondacks. So if they can pin a photo of the Adirondacks, and a thousand of their follows sees it, it can essentially drive some real traffic to Adirondack.net. Because it gives us (Unclear 56:43.5).

Michael: Interesting. Alright. I’ll have to check that out. You know, in my local town. You know, I’m just outside Seattle. It’s a high tech community, but here’s it’s more artsy and more rural. You walk around town, you don’t see people saying, ‘Follow us on Twitter’, with little stickers in their window. It’s all Facebook here.

Jennifer: Right. Right.

Michael: You know, it seems like every single mom is on Facebook. Most dads on Facebook. And you connect with the people at your local bus stop because your kids all go to school together. Is that representative in your small town? Small region area? Small town region as well?

Jennifer: Yes. Yes.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: But we do have the margin of Facebook versus Twitter is definitely Facebook all the way.

Michael: Okay. And then you mentioned email. Do you send out emails daily, weekly, monthly? How does that work?

Jennifer: We send them out monthly for the most part. If we have some really good giveaways and contests that we’re doing, we will send out those sporadically because we’re able to get a lot of good contents on our site. But on an average, monthly.

Michael: Yeah. Monthly’s not that frequent.

Jennifer: Nope.

Michael: Why not do it weekly, and drive more traffic to the website from the newsletter?

Jennifer: Well, to be honest with you, we have over six email newsletters that we’re sending out with the editorial team we have. It’s just a time consuming process.

Michael: It is. Yeah. And so, the next question I wanted to ask you about was automation for all of these marketing channels for the content that’s coming out on the website. And so, you just said that the newsletters are not automatically built and mailed out. You hand build those. You put the more important stuff at the top so people are interested in it. Contests; things like that. You’re probably selling some space in the newsletter. I would assume.

Jennifer: Yes.

Michael: Okay. So you hand build those, you test it, and then you mail it out.

Jennifer: Exactly. And we have, you know, part of our editorial team. We have two that are really dedicated to email newsletters and track the open rates. They analyze the subject lines. They analyze what people are clicking on and what’s most important to them. So we really do try to optimize our email newsletters to be the best that they can be.

Michael: Great. And what about the other social media channels. The Facebook and the Twitter. When I post a new event, as a business owner, onto your website, or I post a press release, does it automatically get blasted out to Twitter and Facebook? Or do you guys manually have to say this is important, this isn’t important, and then highlight what you chose.

Jennifer: Yeah. We didn’t want to bombard our Facebook fans with every time someone posted an event. So we do a scour everyday, and we look at the top things we find most important and that are going to appeal to our fans based on what they’ve told us too. So it’s a lot of it is highly customized with us.

Michael: Got it. So you see the kinds of things that your local community are liking on Facebook, Google+ing – I’m not even sure what the phrase is for that. And then you say, ‘Our community likes this’, and then you find more of those and bring them out to the social media channels.

Jennifer: Right. Yep.

Michael: And does every post on Facebook or Twitter always lead people back to the website?

Jennifer: Not always. Well, no, I lied. Ninety-nine percent of the posts we do will link back to our site.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: And we do offer Facebook promos as part of our packages. If one of our clients had an advertising special that they wanted to get across to our thousands of fans, then you know, we do offer that as well.

Michael: Got it. Alright. So, Mannix Marketing specialized in search engine optimization, or SEO. When someone goes to MannixMarketing.com, SEO is front and center on your webpage. If I type in a search query for, say, “Albany search engine optimization”, I see Mannix Marketing listed in the top five of Google, and there’s almost 4.9 million results – I think – in Google’s index. What is the SEO strategy for GlensFallsRegion.com?

Jennifer: Well, it definitely changes frequently. We’re always looking at what more we can do for SEO. But we’ve been an SEO company since day one; since 1996. You know, some of our domains we bought even before Google was purchased. So we’ve definitely figured out the algorithm to really get our search results to the top. But we always go back to the basics. We think the basics are the most important. It’s about the content on the site. It is about understanding what is going to make that conversion. And, you know, focusing on that with SEO. It’s the long tail of searches. And in everything that we do, we want to make sure our sites are search engine friendly; above and beyond the daily work that we’re doing. So if I have an editor that’s writing an article about restaurants in the area, we want to work in Saratoga restaurants and have them interlink that. So we’re training our entire team to think with the SEO focus in mind.

Michael: Okay. So because you have these websites for the local area, content is key; and you know that Google wants to display, in the highest positions possible, good content. So you’re not building a ten page microsite for GlensFalls.com and hoping to be number one. You’ve got thousands of pages. I did a search – I can’t remember what the number was, but I think the number of pages of GlensFallsRegion.com in Google is ten thousand, fifteen thousand.

Jennifer: Yeah, exactly.

Michael: Fifteen thousand pages of content. So you’re going for that long tail. So if somebody searches for, Underwater Basket Weaving in Glens Falls Region’, they’re going to find the one page that’s built on your website for that.

Jennifer: Right. And you’d be surprised at how many thousands of keywords we come up for because of that.

Michael: Yeah.

Jennifer: Users are a lot more smarter. They’re not just Googling those short phrases. You know that they’re going to find exactly what they’re looking for. Glens Falls restaurants on Glen Street, 12801. You know, whatever the case may be. They’re looking for those kinds of things.

Michael: Alright. And if you had to say, at a high level, someone wants to develop out a local website, what are the five SEO things that they need to know about? Don’t go into the detail; just give me the high level, and they can go off and do their own research on SEO because there’s a million websites out there. What are the blocking tackling nuts and bolts; things that they need to know about?

Jennifer: Well, definitely having unique titles and metatags for all of their pages. Having content as close to the top as possible. Having fresh, relevant, unique content on their site.

Michael: So don’t buy that crap that’s recycled from a writer that spins it in different words. Good content.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Okay.

Jennifer: And, you know, if you have a really relevant, unique, popular site, then you will naturally get backlinks – people linking to your site. So I think that’s definitely one of the number one things as well.

Michael: Yeah. Great.

Jennifer: Are those five?

Michael: No, that was four. Would you throw the search engine optimized URLs in as a top five?

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. Sure. Yeah.

Michael: So get the keywords in there. Don’t use the query strings that are long and nobody understands except for a machine.

Jennifer: Exactly.

Michael: Alright. So we’re on page. The off page so we’re linking back. So that’s the blocking and tackling. That is a majority of what makes your website successful because you do the blocking and tackling well when you’re developing.

Jennifer: Keeping your navigation in a structure that’s going to allow search engine to be able to navigate and index your site.

Michael: Great. Alright. So we talked about how you monetize the website. That you had the Chamber of Commerce relationship. Now that you have all the contact information for the local business, you’ve got salespeople that can go call upon them and try and upsell them. You’ve got salespeople that are walking the street looking for other businesses to sell them, even though they’re not Chamber members. So you upgraded directory listings. You sell advertisements on the website; in the newsletter. Are there other ways that you monetize the website as well?

Jennifer: Well, we have the display advertising banners on the side.

Michael: Right.

Jennifer: And we are definitely working towards building even more of those. Some rich media ad locations. We do a lot of sponsorships, which involve some advertorial content. We sell newsletter positions. We have the Facebook and social media promotions. I’m trying to think. Then we also have the mobile site and mobile app ad sales as well.

Michael: Wow. So you do that completely separately. You will sell mobile advertisement separate from the rest of the website.

Jennifer: Well, a lot of time when we’re talking to a local client, we meet with them and figure out their goals and objectives. And besides just selling the website, we also look at how their site is doing, and we might offer them a different path. Maybe SEO is more important for them to meet their goals. Or maybe you need to have a better web design with a stronger call to action before getting onboard with one sales region.

Michael: So you may actually meet with a business and they say, ‘I don’t want the directory listing. I paid five thousand dollars for my own site four years ago. Dang gomit, I’m going to make my own site successful’. And so you may actually help them with some search engine optimization on their website to get it to the top; what have you.

Jennifer: Exactly. It’s truly customized for that particular business.

Michael: Alright. Great. So, in other words, you have other services through Mannix Marketing that don’t relate just to the local portal that you may be selling that might be an opportunity for them.

Jennifer: Right.

Michael: Got it. Alright. You mentioned your mobile website. This was something that was discussed at GeoPublishers conference that we went to a few months ago. Why develop a mobile website? Why’s it necessary?

Jennifer: Well, mobile is huge. Mobile has already taken off. And we’ve seen just in our traffic alone, within the past couple months, four percent of our traffic was mobile coming from a mobile device. And the last time I looked, it was eleven, twelve percent.

Michael: Wow!

Jennifer: Traffic coming to our site. And you’re going to see that across the board with so many different websites. So we realized everyone has them. A lot of people are using them even when they have their laptop right next to them. They’re on their phones searching for things. And mobile searches; a majority of them are with local intent. So, since we are a local regional guides, we realized we absolutely have to make the user have the most clean and friendly experience as possible for our users.

Michael: Yeah. So, like yesterday I fired it up on my iPhone. I looked at the website. GlensFallsRegion.com. It sensed that I was on a mobile device with a smaller screen. It automatically surfed m.GlensFallsRegion.com for the mobile version, and it was much more streamlined. I could go directly into the businesses. I could go directly into the events and look at it. I didn’t have all of the other things going on, like you have on the website. But I didn’t see any advertisements on there.

Jennifer: Right. We’re right in beta portion of this. We just, just launched it. We just switched it over. So when we do offer advertisements, it will be a lot more streamlined as well. We don’t want to clutter up our mobile site with tons of ads on the site. But we will definitely be doing that. Because they’re very relevant. They get very strong click throughs. We saw that with our mobile apps that we did for Lake George and Saratoga. The click through rates were just phenomenal.

Michael: Great. Well, I can’t wait. I’m going to put in a calendar reminder for a month from now to revisit it and look at the kind of advertisements that you have on there. Because I’m interested to see how an Internet marketing company focuses on selling ads just for the mobile space. And I’m sure you help out your clients as well by suggesting, ‘Well, this type of campaign is going to perform better’ because you got to imagine people are on their way to the town, or they’re in town and they want to know what to do. So you probably target different advertisements for the web than you would for mobile.

Jennifer: Absolutely. And a perfect example; with our Saratoga.com on the go app. We had a banner running on the bottom for click to find taxis. We figured, you know, if you’re out partying at night, you’re going out to a couple bars, you’re not sure of a local taxi number, you can go to the app, and with one click then you can find a taxi. So, yeah. You definitely tailor the ads a little differently.

Michael: Got you. Alright. So, the final question is this, Jennie.

Imagine some other domain entrepreneur’s out there. They live in a relatively small – you know, it’s not Seattle – area. There’s nothing in that area like what you’ve done with GlensFallsRegion.com, or CliftonPark.com let’s say. What factors would you look at when buying a domain name if you were looking to reproduce the success of GlensFallsRegion.com?

Jennifer: Well, I would first want to know what’s happening in the area. What are people looking for in the area. Is it a coastal town, and they’re looking for marinas and boats? Is there a good nightlife presence there? So, you know, is that something you’d want to tackle? And kind of really figure out what is this town known for, what are people looking for, and structure your site around that. And in all towns, I don’t care how small or large, people are looking for a local business too. And a lot of the Yellow Page sites that I’ve seen on the web are very hard to find what you’re looking for, so definitely a local business directory is something that I think is imperative no matter where you are in the area.

Michael: Yeah. Definitely. Alright. Great advice.

If you have a follow-up question, please post it in the comments below this video and we’ll ask Jennie to come back and answer as many as she can. If people want to follow you, Jennie, are you on Twitter, or where you post a bunch of Internet marketing information? Or is there a Mannix Marketing Twitter account that people can follow?

Jennifer: Yeah. We have both. We also have a blog that we post to regularly. Blog.MannixMarketing.com. I’m at Twitter, which my handle is @JennieV. And yeah, Facebook. I’m on Facebook as well. So there’s many ways to reach out.

Michael: Alright. Fantastic. And I’m going to urge the audience now, as I always do, if you received value out of this interview, please go out and find a way to say thank you to Jennie. When you reach out and do something as easy as saying thank you via a Twitter, or posting a comment on their Facebook wall, you establish a relationship and that’s what business is about. It’s what it’s built on; these relationships. So I’m going to say thank you again right now by mentioning Jennie’s business website at MannixMarketing.com.

Jennifer Manz, Director of Digital Marketing for Mannix Marketing. Thank you for being a DomainSherpa, sharing the details of how you grew GlensFallsRegion.com from a parked page, basically, to a profitable business. And thank you for helping others become successful domain name entrepreneurs.

Jennifer: Well, thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun.

Michael: Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

Watch the full video at:
http://www.domainsherpa.com/jennifer-manz-mannixmarketing-interview/


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40 Responses to “From Parked Page to Profitable Business in 3 Months – with Jennifer Manz”

  1. Eric Jenkins says:

    Michael…….

    Thanks Michael and Jennifer. Great interview!!

    Eric Jenkins

  2. Kimberly says:

    Hi Michael and Jennifer,
    Great interview, I have a couple of geo just sitting…shame on me.

    A little inspiration, and learning does wonders
    Thank You both a bunch

  3. Wayne says:

    Hello Michael and Jennifer,

    To say this was a “value-added” interview is an understatement.
    So much premium information in such a short period of time is extraordinary – thank you!

    I, too, am a one-person shop and have been fortunate in obtaining some hand-registered geo-domains that could/would serve a rather large region. In order to flesh these out in the way Jennifer has presented, it seems as if a “How-To” would be in order.

    Jennifer, does Mannix Marketing provide such a guide or business mentoring program?
    Seems as if you’ve figured out the formula. It would be fantastic to learn the method.

    Thank you,

    Wayne

    • Hi Wayne,

      Thank you for the comment. I am very glad you enjoyed the interview!

      To answer your question, unfortunately, we do not have a How-to training program or guide on how to go from A to Z, although I understand how that would be of value!

      Here is my email: jennifer@mannixmarketing.com if you have any specific questions that I may be able to assist you with!

  4. Spike says:

    Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

    Jennifer: I have a city domain worth developing. But I don’t have the infrastructure (technical, personnel) to support it like Mannix does. I was thinking of going the WordPress route. Do you know of any good templates? Also, do you think a one-person shop could do a reasonable job?

    • Hi Spike,

      Sorry it took me awhile to respond! Regarding WordPress, I do not have much knowledge with them personally, but our design and development team at Mannix have gotten good response to the Simplicity Word Press design. Depending on how large you take the site, it may be too simplistic for you, but they have used that particular one a couple of times and have gotten great customer response from it. There is also the site WooThemes.com which provides a plethora of template options.

      Yes, I do feel like 1 domain could be a one person job if you are truly dedicated to finding what is going on in the area, using resources to produce continuous content, keep up with the SEO, and (probably most importantly) utilize the community and advertisers to supply the content for you to keep the site fresh. Once they take advantage of using the site to add events, coupons, blog articles, reviews, press releases, your job is that much easier and your site is that more useful!

  5. I watch the whole video. And I’m sure this will motivate a lot of people to be involved into the domain buzz.

  6. James says:

    In the process of trying to build out a site for my area. Thanks for recording this interview – I would never have thought to partner with local Chamers of Commerce!

  7. Avraham says:

    Great. I had many great successes out of domains registered by hand. It is possible to this very day, even with dot coms. Many thanks for the interview, one of the best stories so far!

  8. Jeroen says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights Jennifer. I will probably wait developing my .co and perhaps go for an alternative.

  9. Jeroen says:

    Jennifer and Michael,

    Thanks for this awesome interview.

    Jennifer, if I may ask you a question; would you develop a [pure geo].co ?

    I registered my city name (500k population) .co in 2010 but been hesitating to develop it. Because of the .co I thought about business related topics. The .com is undeveloped and available for purchase but way above my budget. Would you go for a longer tail .com like you did with GlensFallsRegion.com?

    Thanks & best regards

    • I was wondering about the .co myself – but I keep coming back to the fact that .com is still so engrained in the masses minds. {looking at .co’s from a personal perspective, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is O.co}. I think it would be an uphill battle to now have to train people to intuitively think domainname.co. Plus, unless you really emphasize the .CO in your branding campaigns, you could inadvertently send traffic to the .com version of the site if people mistake the .co for .com.

      So from a .co vs. longer tail domain, it’s a toss up – but I would probably go longer tail to avoid the potential confusion…

      Michael, do you have any thoughts / insight on .co vs .com?

      • I think it’s the exact same issue as .org, .net or any other domain name TLD other than .com.

        If you choose a .co or a .org, for example, you will have some small percentage of people who will always mistakenly type .com just because they’re wired to do so. How much is that “leakage” worth? If there’s nothing at the .com and people immediately realize that they should have typed in .co or .org, then they’ll just correct the address and be on their way. At the end of the day, it’s a cost/benefit tradeoff, in my opinion.

        From an SEO perspective, I like the .com, .net and .orgs as they’re globally accepted by search engines as not a country-specific TLD. I know the .CO team say that .CO is not Columbian specific, but I haven’t seen any data either way. I’m running a test myself and should have data in a few months that I can share.

  10. Richard says:

    Thanks Michael & Jennifer for a great interview. I’ve been watching the Glens Falls site grow and have been a fan of Mannix Marketing, it’s hard to miss with me being from upstate NY. I did borrow a few features like events and user generated content for my current project at Catskills.us The community is key to any geo development, it’s great they were able to partner with the regional Chamber. I wish continued success to the Mannix team and Domain Sherpa, the domain name authority :)

  11. M. Unal says:

    As always very informative interview.

    And this one with Jennifer Manz was superb, besides your interviews with Adam Dicker, this interview with Jennifer was one of the most I learned a lot from.

    There are many things that will definitely be very useful on my own company’s projects.

    Like Fred wrote it really depends on the Chamber. Shortsighted Chamber’s is really dissapointing. This shows that it is very important to create/make a connection with those who are sitting in the decision position.

    Thanks for making these interviews Michael.

    Best regards,

    M. Unal

    PS. the mp3-download is working fine here.

  12. Hi Michael and Jennifer,

    First, I want to say I read the transcript but also downloaded the audio file to see if that worked ok (which it did).

    Now … You guys did an outstanding job with the interview. Great questions and thorough, comprehensive, actionable answers. I’m developing a local directory (and invest in domain names) so while the angle used to approach this subject was domaining, the SEO discussion was more valuable than some of the books and reports I’ve encountered recently. I really appreciate that!

    Question for Jennifer: A commenter talked about difficulty in getting a meeting with one area Chamber. I could also imagine an area Chamber tossing up a variety of reasons to not work with someone who is developing a local directory. My question is can you offer any advice that helps us convince a Chamber Exec of the power of such a collaboration?

    Thanks to both of you for putting this one out here for us.

    • Hi Vernessa, Glad you liked the interview!

      Regarding your question about the difficulty with the chamber, I believe the number 1 step is focus on the community and the chamber’s underlying mission – to help members succeed. We knew we offered a product noone else did; we approached the chamber with the mentality that if each organization focus on their core strengths {ours being a fantastic/intuitive/search engine friendly directory}, we would all be more efficient and support the community better.

      Sara Mannix has always believed in the chamber and is a member of countless chambers in the region. She knows the value the chamber can provide too which is different than the value we can provide – not only to advocate for their members, but for the chamber itself.

  13. Don Gillett says:

    Michael, you provide a great service. thanks!

  14. Gerry says:

    Michael & Jennifer – Great interview! Thanks for sharing the story and highlighting some of the important steps taken along the way. The site and others linking to it all look phenomenal.

    Jennifer – During one point in the interview while discussing stats, you seem to measure success of the site by the amount of local visitors and how often they come back to visit….etc. While I agree that’s important and consistent with your goals in working so closely with the local Chamber of Commerce, how much do you (and the Chamber) want/expect traffic from visitors outside of the area to increase over time….say, the next 12-36 months? I only ask because your site seems to have potential for being a “go-to” site for tourism in the area, so I’m curious how a goal like that would rank in importance to the local area traffic that the site gets (and will be getting in the future).

    Gerry

    • Gerry,

      Thanks for your comments and great question! Our area in Upstate NY (particularly for the Glens Falls Region) is a hometown community. It is flanked by two very popular tourist areas: Lake George, a scenic spot surrounded by the Adirondacks, and Saratoga Springs, known most significantly for its historic racetrack. There is definitely potential to draw from those tourist locations. For our lodging, attraction and other hospitality clients and chamber members, we would love to see some growth in pulling more ‘out-of-the-area’ traffic and attention to the area, but our main focus truly is local. We want to connect the local community with a local resource – and when you put a focus on local content, we have seen that is acually what visitors to the area want to know too. Going to a new city, I tend to want to ask a ‘local’ where the best place is to get a great dinner, or what the hidden gem is in the area.

      We are strongly committed to promoting events and things to do in the area and showcase the region as a great place to visit and play; therefore, we would love to to see a boost in tourism traffic as well. That being said, we have not set a specific growth percentage we are hoping to hit, but our expectations are as the site grows with the focus we have set, {delivering “happy” news and relevant information on things to see and do in the area}, I would expect this to residually help build an out of towner base naturally.

  15. Jon Ryes says:

    I learned so much from this interview. Thanks, Jennifer and Michael. I have 2 pages of notes. Now I need to get off my ars and do something with my newfound knowledge. :)

  16. Peter says:

    Great interview once again. I would like to know what they are using to get the real estate listings
    on their real estate page. They have a search function to input type of property, # of rooms, # of bathrooms, etc…. and then it give the results.

    I am wondering what they use to get those results…

    Also would love a 2nd interview that focuses strictly on the sales side.. How much per banner, per month, how do they pay their sales people, commission, hourly, etc.???

    Super motivated to build out my PortAngelesWashington.com site now!!!!!

    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      Regarding your question on Real Estate listings, we built a real estate upload section in our account system for our real estate clients to add and remove their active listings.

  17. I’ve decided to comment, even though I had to stop at the 47 minute mark! I will finish watching this evening. First of all, Sara and Mark of Mannix Marketing have always been at the top of my list as far as professionalism, SEO marketing, and relationship building within the community. It is obvious that the relationship Sara has with the local Chamber has driven the traffic and success of this site, and it is an excellent accomplishment. Here in Scottsdale, we have an excellent relationship with the ScottsdaleChamber, but cannot even get an appointment scheduled with the Tempe Chamber, for Tempe.com. So the Chamber relationship is very key, but cannot always be counted on in each market. Sara and Jennifer have hit the nail on the head as far as the strategy in utilizing the Chamber….and kudos to the Chamber for making the premium directory listing as part of the benefits of membership…the proper strategy all the way around. Michael, great interview as usual….and great job Jennifer (so far!!!!! still have 30 minutes to go!!!) and I will comment back again at the end of my viewing!!! Fred.

    • Great point, Fred. I think some Chambers might feel like it’s competition, while others will look at it as symbiotic. It’s a fantastic partnership, as described by Jennie…a great model to try to emulate.

      Thanks for posting your experience with your Scottsdale Chamber, Fred.

      Great to hear from you, and thanks for your comments.

    • Hi Fred,

      Thanks for watching and commenting!

  18. Michael Searles says:

    I’ve put it on my ‘to-do’ list for tomorrow to view or listen to this interview..

    I am gaining lots from your interviews format — thanks.

  19. Troy says:

    Great interview! Thanks, both of you!

    I would love to hear an interview with a geo domain owner that goes into detail on the sales side of things. I would love to know how many sales people they have. What the sales people spend their time doing, where they get their lists. Whether they are both on the street or on the phone.

    Just a suggestion. But this interview was great.

    • @Troy. Thanks for your comments.

      I think I know the perfect person to do that interview! I met a couple of people who amazed me with their sales strategy and tactics. I’ll see if I can line them up for a sales show for geodomain owners. Thanks for the suggestion.

  20. PeterPiper says:

    Hi Michael.. Once again I’m getting. 403 when trying to download this mp3 :(

    • Hi PeterPiper…I tried sending you an email but it was delayed in sending. I haven’t been able to reproduce your issue nor find anyone who can.

      Can you give me an error or contact me at michael at the domain above so I can get some more information from you?

      Is anyone else having this issue? Please post or email me. Thanks!

  21. Uzoma says:

    Great interview. The same business plan should work for the following domains that I don’t have time to develop out this year. If anyone is interested, shoot me an email to info@magicfta.com with a reaosnable offer or plan:

    BEVERLYHILLSAREA.COM
    LUBBOCKAREA.COM
    CHINOAREA.COM
    PASADENAAREA.COM
    BEAUMONTAREA.COM
    PROVIDENCEAREA.COM

  22. Mike says:

    Nice! Good looking site! Good concept!

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