How to Amplify your Bark across Digital Media (BlogPaws Liveblog session)

Presentation by Brian Easter, CEO of – Digital Marketing Agency

Note: This post originally appeared as a liveblog on I wrote this liveblog at BlogPaws Conference 2014, an event for professional pet bloggers. These are the cleaned up (slightly edited) notes from that session.


  • Human centered – they take a few passion projects.
  • For example, Oreo (a caricature of a dog). A whole story was built around fictional Oreo, illustrated, and even given his own blog.
  • Problem: not enough people read it. And too many digital marketing campaigns are considered annoying.
  • Not user focused or really creepy – ads that follow you everywhere, constant messaging.
  • Enormous opportunity to make a difference and tell story.
  • Key = EMPATHY.
  • Understand that direct response a myth.
  • We are overloaded with media – average person in US sees 5 million ads per year.
  • Some are disruptive, some are bad (MOTOROLA example – ha!). It’s a new world.
  • We already have great content.
  • In today’s world it takes more to make a connection.

Key Learnings

  1. Purpose trumps everything else.

  2. Unrespoved conflicts = opportunity.

  3. Prioritize strategy over placement.

  4. Then he could pick the right mediums and tools

  5. Inspiration over impressions.

  6. Engage his audience, not SEO them

  7. Implement storytelling best practices.

A mission statement is bullsh!t – it means nothing

  • Purpose is everything.
  • Why you exist, and give voice to that.
  • Find unresolved conflicts – for example, people afraid to fly.
  • Two examples: Chipolte (NOTE: these are certainly worth watching)
  • – Back to the Start
  • – The scarecrow
  • These ads are Chipolte taking on factory farming
  • Humans need to be shown the story in a way that we can absorb the story internally… without having to turn our head.

Prioritize Strategy over Placement

People don’t make decisions in one instance. We treat the people who consume our content, or buy our products, etc – as if the first time they see something that’s it.

It isn’t. 

Typically there is a decision cycle. Have to understand which of these mediums are best at what stage. Think about it as shelf space. Need to model the decision cycle. Ie: adoption. Subscription. Etc.

A few things we can do to help.

Quantiative research

  • Have Analytics. Easiest is to dive into anaytlics to see what people are doing and learn from that.
  • Try to understand intent.
  • Can take the keywords and look for the intent of the user (ie: Dog bed, vs Dog bed reviews, vs PLAY bed coupons)
  • Go beyond the keywords.

Research tools: 

  • UserReport
  • Perceptions active research
  • DIAL

Don’t be lazy, go beyond: do audience research.

Audience Research tools: things that your audience likes

  • Google consumer survey
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook (use search, see groups and see what other things your audience likes)
  • Google Ad Planner
  • Compete
  • quantcast

Qualitative research

Motivations, dreams, problems trying to solve. Can’t assume what that is, have to work to understand what it is.


  • SurveyMonkey
  • Qualvu

Best tool is a telephone. 

Goal after research: User Personas. 

Actionable, based on the problems users are trying to solve – not short fiction.

Now you can Pick the right Mediums

Don’t try to do everything.

Fish where the fish are, do the things most natural to your audience and to you.

Most people want to start with SEO, and usually because they think it’s free. But it isn’t – it’s time and energy.


  • Keyword stuffing will not help. Google will penalize you.

  • SEO is not link building. If you are, stop. It is dead. (This is “go get people to link to you” – trading links, etc) – it has to be natural.

  • Have authentic relationships.

  • Do not game the system – this is the most important thing of SEO.

  • Be authentic. Great content wins. Do research to see what readers are interested in.


  • PPC is not an auction (pay google for certain keywords). Must respect the user and what they are trying to accomplish.

  • PPC is more than Google – Google, bing, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Reddit have PPC.

  • PPC is the pathway to the buyer journey


Where you can define an audience on your site based on an action that they did or didn’t do. Serve them ads across the internet over a period of time.

  • Google Remarketing

  • AdRoll (good for Facebook).

  • ReTargeter

  • FetchBack

You can do this for blogs too.

Google is the easiest to use. And you don’t pay a fee over top of the advertising.

Social and Social Advertising

  • Facebook

  • Linkedin

  • Pinterest

  • Twitter

You have a fire in the fireplace, you need to get the flame started and then let the organic piece to grow.

Think about mobile – soon 50% of all traffic online will be on mobile devices.


  • Rather have a smaller audience that I inspire than a larger audience of people who don’t care.
  • Blogposts can be inspirational, powerpoints, etc. Don’t let the medium dictate whether it can be inspirational. 
  • But think about – is a blog post the right medium for getting the message across best?

Engagement and Social

  • We preach to the choir. The animal advocates preach to each other – but how do we get our word out to people who need to see the message?
  • How do we evangelize to the non converted? They did this through
  • And you can’t buy your way into relevancy, so knew they had to create a community. Had to give people a way to say that they’re in the community. Did this through a blog.
  • Also wanted to create real social engagement – Found curated content.
  • Wanted to do one thing right – only went to Facebook for social.
  • Create content that is easily shared — Grassroots engagement.
  • Create Site Engagement – created a mechanism so people could share their story, and then share that story with their audience.
  • Result: sparking conversations.

It is about Storytelling

  • There is an art, craft, science to story:
  • Beginning, Middle, End and Conflict
  • Let the reader take an active role, where they are vested in the outcome.
  • It’s hard for us to know what the reader sees or hears.
  • Very important to learn and study story, and to implement best practices.
  • Story isn’t a single moment in time
  • Don’t live in a single device world, or a single click world.

Questions from the session

  • What is your specific purpose, and what are the unresolved conflicts.
  • Great storytelling comes from the purpose.
  • Narrowing down your topics to find your main focus/purpose.

Facebook advertising (that now sucks)

  • Thinks started as a social network, and now they’re an ad network.
  • Create very tight audiences.
  • Doesn’t have day parting (set hours for an ad). Most fake clicks happen in the middle of the night. Manual day parting for your ads – if your audience reads stuff between 4 and 9pm, do your ad starting at 4pm and end at 9pm.
  • Have to understand what users are doing, what stage, and what they’re doing. Use social for awareness. People in FB or Twitter are there for social networking first and advertising at the bottom. Looking to get revenue, you need to think about the whole buyer journey. Use retargeting.


  • Powerful. If you have a shelter, certain things people are looking for – went to a breed page and didn’t take the next step. You can set up an audience for “cocker spaniels” – whenever you get new cockers into the shelter, you can show the ads to that person.
  • Must do retargeting best practices. Without this, you can have “unlimited frequency” – show tons of images per day and people hate you.
  • It has been the most cost effective digital marketing medium that they have used, across different types and sizes of businesses.
  • Have to do it in a way that respects the user. If the decision cycle is wrong. If it’s a big decision, low frequency and longer duration.
  • If it’s a quick decision – frequency higher and short duration.

Fun fact: Brian (the presenter) cocker spaniel’s name is Terminator! AWESOME!

Author Jen deHaan

Jen deHaan is a freelance graphic and web designer, fascinated with great layout and usability. She has been working in the software industry since 2001, and has held positions with Macromedia, Adobe, and Motorola in the Silicon Valley area near San Francisco. Jen has written and contributed to over 20 print publications on web design that have been published by Peachpit, Adobe Press, and Wiley. She now lives on a farm with her family and dogs in central Vancouver Island, Canada.

More posts by Jen deHaan

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