After almost 10 years working with business owners for their local marketing solutions, Stephanie Scanlan, our Director of Client Success Training, knows a thing or two about what makes a successful campaign. So, we sat down with her to talk about how the industry has changed, why getting everyone on the Client Success team Google-certified is important, and what businesses should look for in a marketing partner.

Hi, Stephanie! So happy to talk with you today. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Stephanie S.: Hi, there! A little about me: I’ve been working with ReachLocal [part of the USA TODAY NETWORK] and now Gannett for almost 10 years now ““ 10 years in June, actually. I’ve always had a passion for helping small businesses, and that’s how I got my start here. I’m the daughter of a business owner, and I remember growing up in a house that depended on that business. It really gave me the passion and motivation to work here and try to do my best for our clients.

In my tenure working here, I’ve had the privilege to run numerous service teams that are helping to deliver those great results to their clients. Never a dull moment around here!

For hobbies and interests outside of work, I’m huge into sports. I’ve been a competitive athlete pretty much all my life, so it still plays a huge part!

That’s great! It’s really cool to hear that your experience with your family’s business played into your career here. And that you’ve been here for 10 years! How have things changed over that time in the marketing industry?

It really does feel like a night and day difference in the last 10 years. The biggest change has been the shift to mobile as it continues to grow. Mobile websites, mobile bids [for paid display and search ads], mobile demographics ““ all of it is now taken so highly into account when optimizing and running a digital campaign.

The business owners themselves are also much more knowledgeable about digital marketing than 10 years ago. They have either run digital marketing campaigns themselves or had them run for them before. It is rare to find someone who hasn’t tried digital marketing before, and just a few years ago that was a more normal occurrence. This has meant we have to change how we approach our clients and be more of a strategy partner.

What about search engines? How have Google and other big search engines changed since you entered the industry?

Another huge change in the last 10 years! When I started, the only creative ad extensions for paid search marketing were call and location. Now there is an ever-growing list that lets you do snippets, call outs, prices, etc. Google has launched their new accounts manager UI, updated their training portal to Academy for Ads, enhanced their algorithms, and launched new products.

The other search engines have also gone through transformation. Yahoo and Bing used to be two different UIs and now they are managed through just the one. Yahoo has had Gemini, and Bing announced big changes for their search platforms just last week.

You have to constantly stay on top of all of the changes because something new is happening all of the time!

That’s a lot to be on top of! Speaking of Google, All LOCALiQ Client Success Managers were Google-certified as of January 31. Why was that important?

We’re a premier partner of Google, and we want to showcase that status, our knowledge, and our skills to our clients. By having these certifications, our Client Success Managers (CSMs) are in a better place to communicate with their clients about the features and tools from Google Ads. These features and tools allow the CSM to better optimize and run our client’s search marketing campaigns, which in the end produce better results!

What did this process look like for all of them to get certified?

The certification is in two parts: Fundamentals and Advanced Search. Both exams have 12 hours of videos and study documents over the entire Google Ads interface and on how to optimize search campaigns. The teams had to go through all these materials before they took the exams. Each exam takes about two hours to complete with a passing score of 80/100. You need to pass both exams to be Google Ads-Certified Individual.

Wow, that sounds intensive! You mentioned earlier how being Google-certified helps CSMs better optimize their clients’ campaigns. How does it do that?

It helps them manage their accounts by being up to date on new Google updates and enhancements. The CSM also better understands how all the elements of Google Ads work together in a more in-depth way. From how you setup the languages to picking locations, you have an upgraded level of knowledge.

You’ve worked with a lot of clients and managed teams that work with a lot of clients for their paid search marketing. Why would you recommend they work with a Google-certified account manager for their campaigns?

When a business owner works with a Google-certified account manager they know the person taking care of their paid search marketing knows the ins and outs of how to run a campaign. They’ll be able to rest easy knowing its setup based on how Google recommends, they understand the optimization, and they will be using the numerous tools Google provides. Without the certification so many of the more in-depth features Google Ads offers can be easily missed.

Aside from a Google-certified account manager, what else do you think is important to think about when it comes to choosing a marketing partner?

A business owner should look for someone that wants to be essentially an extension of their team. Someone who wants to truly learn about and grow their business. There are so many options available for business owners, and it is key to find someone who doesn’t treat you like a number on a spreadsheet. You are a unique business and you need someone to work out what your unique strategy should be for your growth.

I love that! And I know that’s important for you and your team to show our clients. What inspires you most about your team?

I love surrounding myself with hardworking people. They are 100% in all the time to do everything they can to help our clients. It is such a wonderful feeling to know you are working with a group of people who go “above and beyond” as their day-to-day mentality. There really is no substitution for that dedication and hard work. With them going this hard all the time, they push me to work even harder.

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