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Interview with Cassandra Caswell-Stirling

The Search Agency: How did you find your way to search marketing?

Cassandra: I definitely didn’t take the most direct route into search marketing; that’s for sure. I was actually, once upon a time, supposed to be a lawyer, but after graduating from law school and working in two different law firms for 4 years, I decided to try something a little more creative. I began working for a small legal publisher on two of their online products. From there the small publisher was bought by Oxford University Press, and I began working on a larger variety of legal print and online products. Part of the way that OUP functions is that the editors, rather than the marketing department, do all of the initial marketing copy and determine book covers, book format, etc., and so that was my first real foray into marketing. I loved trying to come up with enticing book description ad copy (which is hard when your topic is international trade law) as well as trying to figure out if a blue cover is more authoritative than a gray (they are neck and neck). After working for OUP for several years, I began to look around for something new and different to do with all of my experience. I saw the ad for my current position at The Search Agency and thought it perfectly balanced my need for creativity with my need for data analysis…and the rest is history.

The Search Agency: What’s your role at The Search Agency?

Cassandra: I am a Paid Search Creative Editor. What that basically means is that I am responsible for building out campaign structures, researching keywords, writing and testing ad copy, optimizing campaigns, collaborating on campaign strategy, and making sure the account is running as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.

The Search Agency: You recently co-authored a best practices document on setting up and optimizing Product Extensions and Product Listing Ads in Google AdWords [1].  Could you speak a little about why Product Ads should be an essential part of every e-Retailers paid search marketing strategy?

Cassandra: What Product Extensions and Product Listing Ads do for an e-retailer is give people an actual picture of the product for which they are searching, along with a price and potentially a sales incentive, such as a promotional code or free shipping. If I’m looking for a fishing rod, for example, and I see a text ad that looks interesting, but right next to it on the right rail, I see a picture of a fishing rod that looks almost exactly like the one I want and is in my price range, which ad do you think I’m going to click on? The one with the picture and price. Not only does it make it easier for the customer to see exactly who has the product that they are seeking, and thereby better answer the customer’s search intent, but Product Ads are great brand builders. If you are new to the online e-retail space, what better way to introduce new customers to what you sell than with pictures? If you are an established brand, the ads reinforce the products you offer, helping to strengthen your brand awareness in the marketplace. If you’re an e-retailer and you haven’t found a way to do Product Ads, you are missing out on easy convertible traffic. To learn more, check out our new best practices document here [1].

The Search Agency: What current industry developments or trends do you find particularly exciting?
Cassandra: There are a lot of really interesting things happening in the industry, so I’ll start with the most obvious – mobile. Mobile is pitching to be a big deal in 2012 and I can’t wait to see how the ad space will bridge the PC-to-mobile gap, what types of ads will emerge for the mobile space, and just how will we engage users across 3 devices (PC, tablets and phones). Social media is also surging forward and watching Pinterest grow, as well as hearing how brands are using it effectively, is fascinating to me. What I think is most fascinating to watch, however, is all of the changes that are happening at both Google and MSN as they attempt to adapt, take more market share, be everything to everyone, etc., in a constantly evolving world. I bet neither one of them will be what they were in 2005 when we reach 2015, let alone be what they were in 2010, when I entered the space. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Search Agency: Moving away from paid search marketing, what do you like to do in your free time outside the office?
Cassandra: My husband and I just bought a 1913 California Bungalow, with all original windows, built-ins and cabinets, so most of our time is spent making lists of all that needs to be done on it, to restore it to its original fabulousness. When we are successful at ignoring our lists,  you’ll usually find us sitting on our front porch, just enjoying life.

About Camille Canon

Outside of summer jobs and not-for-profit internships, The Search Agency is my first official place of employment. I recently graduated from Mount Holyoke College, where I studied Art History and German. I am an avid cook, baker, and destroyer of diets. My specialties are cream cheese brownies, biscotti cookies and lemon bars. I am also an Art enthusiast. Living in Berlin enables me to follow a young, emerging Art scene complete with “eccentric” performance pieces and temporarily converted butcher shop galleries. I also enjoy running, traveling, and handy work. Camille Canon + [7]