Clayton is one of the pioneers who led the vision to get White Label SEO into the market. Clayton has managed thousands of marketing campaigns under his leadership and ranked thousands of keywords on the first page in Google. He manages numerous brands for local and enterprise level marketing agencies worldwide to maximize their revenue streams across all touch points.
It was a real privilege to get up close and personal with one of the young leaders in digital marketing today.
Here’s a transcript of the rest of the interview I’ve had with this unassuming creative thinker.
Maria: How did you get into digital marketing?
Clayton: I got into online marketing in 2007 when I started a search engine optimization company with a few partners. I always knew I wanted to be a part of a vibrant growing industry and when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it.
I knew online marketing was a growing industry and it’s something that excited me. Understanding and analyzing market behavior and how they relate to customer decision-making is a concept that needed traditional principles combined with technology. The tech industry was moving so fast, the general public couldn’t keep up – that’s the niche we filled.
Maria: What is the White Label SEO industry?
Clayton: White labeling is a retail company’s brand placed on a wholesaler’s product. It’s been applied to traditional businesses with physical products and resold for decades, but the concept for SEO is relatively new. Essentially, it’s a marketing company providing services, reporting capabilities, and client-facing dashboards to brand them with a different label.
Maria: How did it come about?
Clayton: There might be some debate about this, but as far as I can see (in Google trends and other tools) I was involved in one of the first organizations to adopt the terminology “white label SEO” and use it as a brand’s entire business structure. My partners and I had numerous conversations about which direction to take facing clients in the industry, and seeing the growing need for a reliable wholesaler, we took that route.
The company I work with now, SEOReseller.com is another iteration of the niche, with marketing agencies searching for a reseller program, hence our name. In this company, we created an entire technology around the methodology we use to rank clients in Google.
Maria: How big is the market for white label SEO?
Clayton: It’s very large. If you think about the market as online marketing experts, advertising & marketing agencies, SEO companies, social media companies, PPC companies, there are hundreds of thousands. Everyone needs a reliable fulfillment team for marketing tasks.
Maria: How much do you think has it grown?
Clayton: It grows parallel with the growth of the online marketing industry. Studies show that the digital marketing industry has been growing exponentially. If the experts’ projections are correct, the industry could grow to over $40 billion in 2015, from $20 billion in 2011. Over the last 5 years it’s been consistently growing from both small and large sized marketing companies. Australia specifically has seen fast growth.
Maria: Is white label SEO offered in all countries?
Clayton: With www.SEOReseller.com we offer services in native English-speaking countries because all of our employees are only English speaking. Because online marketing is so content driven, we focus largely on making sure creative content idea are what’s driving traffic for our clients.
Maria: Why does it involve outsourcing?
Clayton: It’s interesting in the sense that content as a commodity is growing in all directions. From part time college students creating content in the United States, to traditional Indian outsource groups. We look at content from a different perspective in that, when positioned correctly, it drives niches conversion and traffic. For us, Manila, Philippines is a no brainer. We’re able to create great written content, video content, infographs and design great projects because of the talent in the local market and the strong affiliation to American culture.
Maria: What’s the toughest part of your job?
Clayton: The most difficult part of marketing in such an intricate industry is helping potential clients understand, in a few seconds, what we offer and what niche we fill. There are so many different elements to our service suite [as a full service online marketing agency] that it really requires a closer look into the offering. Sometimes this involves physically looking at who we are, our company structure, and meeting our people.
Maria: What’s the best part of it?
Clayton: I believe the most rewarding thing in this industry is helping businesses that didn’t know how to gain more business online, do just that. When someone sees their video ad views growing in YouTube, when someone see’s their paid ad placed on a popular site they like, or when someone types in a search term and their ranked number 1 in Google.com.
Shared with this, the best part of what I do is working with the group of folks I spend time with every day. It’s a family-like atmosphere here. This makes things fun. Working with a bunch of smart people is such a blessing. I feed off of it. Understanding different cultures, and how their specific marketing messaging works is awesome. I love the people that work with me.
Maria: Did anyone tell you not to do this or to choose a different career?
Clayton: I’ve been lucky enough in my life to have my close friends and family always encourage me to do whatever my passion is — sometimes to a fault! I’ve never had anyone tell me directly to not do this or anything else I’ve wanted to do. I think this type of encouragement is what the world needs more. Find your passion, and do that.
It sounds cliche, but people have got to stop working at jobs that they don’t like, in industries that they resent. I worked in accounting previous to online marketing, which was extremely boring. I’m more of an adventurer than a safety conscience person.
Maria: How are you as a leader?
Clayton: I believe that the leader’s main role is to encourage and support their group. There’s a difference in “being a leader” and “leading”. People that lead typically help with things, serve others, and motivate people. I’m constantly working on that, but you’d have to ask my team that question.
Maria: What’s your leadership style?
Clayton: The best leaders I’ve had in my life have always taught me something and relentlessly told me “You can do it.” I believe people are at least a dozen times more capable than they think they are. Look at sports, and world records that have been broken just because someone willed it. This is the proof. That encouraging voice is the difference in helping people achieve the focus they need to succeed.
Maria: How do you deal with difficult clients?
Clayton: I find a lot of times the difficult clients are the non-communicative ones. Vocal clients let you know what they need, what they want, and what their clients want. At least this I can identify.
When partnering agencies aren’t so involved with the process, it makes things slower Reaching out to help them is the key. Clients don’t buy your services; they buy your help, your reliability and your innovation.
Maria: I’m sure you know that 85% of all businesses close within 5 years. What makes you think yours will survive?
Clayton: Because the group of people that support our services are truly awesome. People trust us. And our innovators in the group love innovating.
Maria: What’s the biggest challenge in your industry today?
Clayton: There’s a lot of grey matter in the industry right now for clearly tracked ROI. Things like analytics, goal conversions, and social media help put those dots together, but they’re not complete. I don’t think the ROI circle will be fully understood until the offline world is indexed more.
Without sounding too “Matrix”, when ads start integrating into AI systems and locational offline faculties ROI will be more realized. But that’s more the future. For now the biggest challenge is reaching the market where are they are comfortable, and asking them for permission to pitch them. This combined with inserting decision making triggers into people’s normal habits are the two holy grails. They’re tough to nail, but extremely exciting.
Maria: What are you doing to ensure the continuity of your business?
Clayton: We’re instilling a focus on learning. This keeps us sharp and ahead of the curve. [We’re doing] this combined with marketing ourselves. It’s never a bad time to market yourself, so we do it consistently. We involve all of our employees in that marketing, from contributing to our blog, [organizing] events, and helping folks understand that we’re in this together. This works well for us.
Maria: Where do you see the industry going?
Clayton: The industry will become more focused in permission marketing and behavioral marketing. We’re already seeing this in some segments of the captive Internet and social media. Facebook is a pioneer in interesting marketing systems and messages into some one’s normal activity and routine.
I like it. I think better marketing provides people more time to spend doing things they want rather than researching. I think marketing breeds innovation in other sectors because it allows people to have time to research in their interests more.
Maria: How do you think your business/industry will change in 5 or 10 years?
Clayton: The online marketing industry is going to be exciting in years to come. Lots of new players will join from other industries that have “stumbled” on good data. Things will be more trend centric and brand centric. I’m looking forward to the next decade, the winners will be the companies that can not only provide good marketing concepts, but analyze data in a way that truly sheds light on the bottom line for businesses large and small.
Maria: Being a key player in such a demanding and fast-changing environment, why do you choose to do what you do?
Clayton: I’m a worker, and change is pretty exciting. I love the decision making process in people’s minds, and what changes that process and influences the outcome. That’s why I love marketing. The most exciting things I’ve ever done have been things that were challenging, but I still had the guts to do them. Speaking in public is one of those things. It’s awesome, but not the easiest thing to do.
Maria: If you could do it all again, would you?
Clayton: For sure. Life is awesome.
Maria: What would you do differently?
Clayton: I’d have taken more pictures.
For more insights from Clayton, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/claytonwwood