A few weeks ago, I had the great honor of interviewing Tyler Dolph, President of Rocket Clicks digital marketing agency. Today’s post is part two of my Rocket Clicks interview series, an interview with Nicole Mennicke. Nicole Mennicke is VP of Operations at Rocket Clicks and a personal friend of mine, someone who I have known for many years. Like the other employees at Rocket Clicks, Nicole is one of the kindest people I have ever met in business, and someone who I highly recommend as a digital marketing leader and businessperson. Over the years, I have had the great fortune of collaborating with Nicole on the latest and greatest in digital marketing. Today, I am so incredibly honored to learn insights from one of the best…
Ian: Nicole, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with the PPC Ian community.
Nicole: Thank you, Ian! I’ve been following you and your blog for years and it’s an honor to be considered.
Ian: Nicole, we have known each other for a while now. The industry has changed so much over the years. What have been some of the biggest changes you have noticed in digital marketing?
Nicole: The most exciting change to digital marketing is the increasing amount of available data. Why I fell in love with the industry 7 years ago is still the same today – it’s advertising impact you can see, touch and feel through data. The self-service, auction based advertising model has allowed advertisers to give as little or as much as they want and equip them with every tool to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
In that opportunity also lies one of the biggest challenges. Every new team member quickly becomes sick of the phrase "80/20… 80/20…" however the more seasoned team members know it’s essential to avoid paralysis by analysis. With the available data, performance metrics, micro/macro conversions and way to combine them all, we have to know when to stop analyzing and start making decisions.
Ian: Some strategies change, others don’t. What are some of the newer strategies you’re testing these days? What are some of the old favorites that have served Rocket Clicks and your clients well over time?
Nicole: We are seeing a ton of value with looking at data in new ways using scripts in creative ways. For example, we all know quality score is king! Using different scripts we have an automated way to passively collect daily or weekly quality score data. We have been able to really map how our changes impact quality score, and improve the overall quality of our clients’ accounts.
As for old favorites that served Rocket Clicks and our clients well, I think the key is knowing when they can and should be used and when they shouldn’t. One strategy we’ve seen the most success with is isolating your highest volume/performing keywords and spending most of your time doing all you can to make them the best they can be. Small improvements on these keywords always bring the highest gains.
Ian: Rocket Clicks is such an amazing company. Please tell me your story. How did you get started at Rocket Clicks? How has your career evolved at Rocket Clicks over time?
Nicole: I came into this industry like many others have – without a clue it even existed! All I knew was I was looking for a "marketing job", whatever that actually means. I applied for a paid search analyst position with our parent company to manage the PPC account of a sister company. I joined without knowing that within 3 weeks I would be employee #2 of a PPC agency (soon to be) named Rocket Clicks! A copy of Definitive Guide to Google Adwords, by Perry Marshall was dropped on my desk, and the first 4 team members on the PPC side of the business were tasked to figure out pay per click marketing.
I went from personally managing clients PPC accounts to managing a small team of analysts overseeing their own client books, and then in 2010 moved into the role as Director of the PPC Advertising department.
As we grew and scaled as an agency, there was an increasing need to create consistency across the company to better develop and document our core systems & processes for team member development, client services, and company operations. It fit perfectly in my strength as well as allowing me to work closer with all parts of the company.
Ian: In your opinion, what differentiates Rocket Clicks in the world of digital marketing agencies?
Nicole: I have a lot to say on this one. 🙂 From day 1 Rocket Clicks’s goal was to be top of class digital marketers that specialized only in PPC and SEO, focused on technical improvement to be the sharpest, most strategic marketers around, and committed to leadership development and coaching for every team member. We became marketing PARTNERS with our clients and never just their vendors. The coolest part is 7 years later, those core goals still resonate in everything we do, and is apparent in every relationship we have.
We spend our clients’ advertising dollars as if it our own money. When things go well we celebrate together, and when they don’t we fail fast and go back to the drawing board. We have a seat at the table when discussing overall digital marketing strategy, and we value every client relationship.
We don’t have our team members managing dozens of clients at a time. We don’t manage accounts off a checklist – we focus our energy on the most impactful work. Our team members live, breath and dream PPC and they love what they do! Every team member in the company has some involvement in day to day account management and strategy. It keeps us on the cutting edge.
We strongly believe that competency sells. We don’t have a sales team. The account managers, analysts, and department heads sell our services. We don’t promise the moon with unrealistic guarantees or give you only a sliver of strategy with a tease to "pay for more". We demonstrate our competency and show you what you can expect in a relationship, long before you are a client – Transparency works!
It’s easy to fall into more typical agency tendencies, but we do things different here, and I that’s why I am still here today.
Ian: Nicole, you have lived a mobile lifestyle, and have experienced many different areas. This is one of the things I love most about digital marketing. What has been your experience with the mobile digital marketing lifestyle? Any tips for others considering a mobile lifestyle?
Nicole: It’s been a fun ride! For more context, about 2 years after working at Rocket Clicks, my husband, now a Major in the US Army, came home and told me that the Army was moving us to Sacramento, CA. Rocket Clicks and I agreed to do a 6 month "remote trial". That turned into 3 moves to 3 different time zones, having a kiddo on either coast of the US, and having a ton of awesome experiences with interesting people, while doing work I love, for a company I am crazy about.
I agree with you, Ian, a huge perk of this industry is the ability to do what we do from anywhere in the world. With that said, there is a common misconception that a "work-from-home" arrangement is easy. Anyone new to working remotely or untraditional office hours, I highly suggest they define their own personal work policies. In my situation, my location changes often. My own personal policies in order of important are:
- Create an office area – even if you work in your kitchen (been there), create an environment where if feels like an office and it feels like you "go to work" each day. In my personal experiences, couches never worked for me!
- Commit to a schedule – it’s a slippery slope when you become too flexible with your own schedule. Establishing working hours with family and friends not only demand respect but also makes you respect it more yourself.
- Remove distractions – Get away from the TV! Get in the habit of never turning it on, or just remove it out of your office area. That goes for any distraction that pulls your attention away from your work. Work for a week, you’ll quickly find out what those things are.
- Don’t skimp on equipment – nothing is more frustrating that having slow internet, a crummy chair, a keyboard with a sticky key, or a monitor with a strange wavy pink line. These little can become excuses quickly!
- Be prepared for anything! – Expect power outages – that way they are a little less infuriating when they happen. Stake out all the closest restaurants and coffee shops with Wifi. When you travel, don’t rely on hotel Wifi! Just ask for an Ethernet cable. Every time.
Ian: As someone responsible for operations, you have a very important role at Rocket Clicks. What are some of the skills most important for the VP of Operations role? For those aspiring to grow their careers, what advice would you offer?
Nicole: Find your own organization and time management approach. Not only are we in a constantly evolving industry you have to be able to prioritize what is the most important thing to act on NOW, what is a "shiny red ball" distraction, and what is important but can wait. On a personal level and for people on your team, don’t neglect team development – both technical and professional.
Ian: What is your favorite thing about digital marketing? Least favorite?
Nicole: The ability to impact people’s business and lives with the work we do is so rewarding. I have seen companies double in size, move into new buildings, expand their offerings, and create local jobs that weren’t there before. Digital marketing creates a level playing field and allows business to scale at their pace.
Least Favorite: Slow moving parity between advertising platforms. Although very different from the past, it can still be be painful transitioning from Adwords to BingAds to Gemini, etc.
Ian: What is your favorite app and why?
Nicole: Would it sound ridiculous if I said the Adwords App? Well, it’s definitely up there! Other than that, I use the Audible app almost daily. The most recent place we call home is in West Des Moines, IA, which is about 6 hours away from the Rocket Clicks office. I do a lot of driving! I listen to books when I drive, when I’m at the gym, and when I travel. My husband would tell me to be honest and list one of the most recent game that has caught my attention. 😉
Ian: The PPC Ian community is always looking to learn and grow. What tips would you offer for those seeking more knowledge in digital marketing and business overall?
Nicole: I learn something new every day. It’s not hard to do when you are in this industry. There are a ton of great blogs to follow for all levels. This industry is full of incredibly smart people with great opinions and views of how to best leverage digital marketing for all kinds of businesses. Find those blogs and get them sent directly to your email. Once you find something that is interesting, or you don’t understand, dig more.
Ian: Nicole, it has been a true honor and please connecting with you today. Thank you for this great opportunity. I personally learned so much and I know that all of the readers will agree. Thanks for giving back to the community and sharing your insights!
Nicole: Thank you!
Everyone, thanks for reading. Enjoy my interview with Nicole Mennicke as much as I did? Please make sure to read my interview with Tyler Dolph, President of Rocket Clicks, if you have not already! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about Rocket Clicks, I highly recommend heading over to their website and reaching out.
Images in this post © Nicole Mennicke and Rocket Clicks