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February 19-20, 2020
San Jose Convention Center

That's a wrap! Join us at our next SMX event.

That's a wrap! Join us at our next SMX event.

Paid Social Paves The Way For New Customers: Q&A With Michelle Stinson Ross

“There’s only so much revenue that you can squeeze from people searching for what you do.” Enter: Paid social.

Marketers who sell or promote products online are increasingly turning to Amazon, Etsy, Shopify, and Jet, in addition to Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, to reach new customers. But leveraging these platforms is only half the battle. The key to driving remarkable revenue growth in this dynamic online retail environment is digital commerce marketing.

Next month at SMX West, you’ll access two days of brand-new, expert-led digital commerce marketing sessions loaded with actionable tactics to help you design successful, profit-generating campaigns. Earlier this month, we introduced you to Duane Brown – one of the experts you’ll train with. We’re continuing our digital commerce interview series with Michelle Stinson Ross, Marketing Operations Director at Apogee Results. Keep reading to learn more about Michelle — her work, her focus for 2020, plus a sneak peek at her upcoming SMX West session AND full-day paid social commerce workshop!


Lauren Donovan: Welcome, Michelle! Tell the folks at home a bit about yourself! Where you’re based, what you do, how long you’ve been doing it…

Michelle Stinson Ross
Michelle Stinson Ross

Michelle Stinson Ross: I’m based in Austin, TX at a boutique agency. I’ve been in digital marketing for over 10 years. I started out as a writer and community manager just when businesses were starting to see opportunities in social media. Hahahahaha it’s funny to think back now that there weren’t Facebook business pages when I started this journey. Over the years I’ve expanded my skill set to include some SEO, PPC, email and marketing automation. At this point my favorite marketing projects to work on are fully integrated and I love providing full spectrum strategy for businesses.

LD: Gosh, pre-Facebook Business pages. I remember those days… it seems like eons ago! So, when and how did you get specifically into the e-commerce side of things?

MSR: I started working with e-commerce about 7 years ago. I was in-house with Offers.com for a while and also worked internally with an e-comm startup called Illumai. Currently, I’m working with a stack of e-comm clothing brands and the local opera that does most of its ticket sales online. Since I love fully integrated projects, it’s been incredibly interesting to work side by side with our PPC team on the clothing brands and follow the customer journey from awareness via paid social into sales driven by PPC.

LD: That’s awesome – it must be eye-opening to partake in such a holistic campaign. Okay, so we’ve talked about your work in the past and what you’re tackling now – let’s shift to the future. What’s the big digital commerce trend, channel, or tactic you’re watching for in 2020?

MSR: The big trend I have been watching for a while is looping paid social media into growing revenue. Most e-commerce companies focus first on search and conversion optimization, as they should. That ensures that customers ready to buy have a good experience and they aren’t getting frustrated by the mechanics of the site. Most e-comm teams are very PPC proficient and have their ROAS very finely tuned. When your e-comm business gets to that point where you are reliably converting people with an intent to purchase, the only way to grow more revenue is to increase the number of people interested in your products. New customer acquisition becomes the name of the game. That’s where paid social comes in to help drive people that are have an affinity for what you have to offer, but had no idea that your business was an option.

LD: Brilliant! I love it. So paid social is the name of the game. Which leads us to your upcoming SMX West session — Optimizing For Seasonality: How To Sell More In Your Peak Periods. Give us a sneak peek!

MSR: This session we will be delving into how paid social can play a role alongside PPC in driving new customers to your e-comm business at times of peak demand. We will also talk about how to nurture those new customer acquisitions to keep them coming back out of season.

LD: Sounds like a must-attend session for e-commerce marketers. You’re also leading a full-day workshop on Friday, February 21, devoted to paid social commerce. Tell us a bit more about that — who should come, what they’ll learn, why you think it’s worth attending.

MSR: This workshop is geared mainly towards advanced SEO and PPC practitioners that don’t have much day-to-day experience with paid social media. As I mentioned before, there’s only so much revenue that you can squeeze from people searching for what you do. In order to get any more return on ad spend, e-commerce companies will need to acquire more qualified prospective customers. Paid social media give e-commerce the opportunity to get in front of a passive audience based on their interests and behaviors BEFORE they start searching. Paid social is usually less expensive and more targeted than display and gives us a much better audience pool for retargeting. So, if you want to get into the weeds of creating paid social campaigns that integrate with your search and PPC efforts and help grow revenue, then this is the workshop for you.

LD: Excellent! What an awesome training opportunity. Alright, we’re almost out of time. We should move onto the essentials. Favorite food, vacation destination, and animal — GO!

MSR: Food – pasta with any kind of creamy/cheesy sauce which also makes it my kryptonite. Vacation – places with an interesting history to explore. I’m currently halfway through writing a manuscript of historical fiction and hope to visit several notable places associated with the Golden Age of Piracy (Jamaica, the Bahamas, Charleston, Cape Cod, NYC). Animal – Song birds.

LD: Wow! I did not see that coming. The manuscript, not the pasta. Great, now I want Fettuccine Alfredo. But no… can we circle back on that writing project? That sounds fascinating. 

MSR: Most people aren’t aware that I published my first book at about the same time I started my career in marketing. And since the topic isn’t marketing (I don’t think I’ll ever write a book on marketing) you don’t really see that side of me much. So, for anyone that runs into me at SMX West, I’m just as game to discuss pirates and novels as I love helping people level up their online marketing.

LD: Ahoy, ahoy! That’s awesome! And a fun tidbit I wouldn’t have known if not for this interview. Thanks so much for the time today, Michelle. I’ll keep an eye out for you next month at SMX West!


And I hope to see you there, too, reader! There’s still time to secure your ticket! Remember, digital commerce marketing is just one of the topics you can train on February 19-20 — you’ll also get the tactic-rich SEO and SEM/PPC sessions SMX is known for: It’s three lanes with no limits.

Tune in tomorrow for another insightful digital commerce interview — up on deck is Joe Martinez, Director of Client Strategy at Clix Marketing!

Tell me more about SMX West!

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