How Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan Learned New Tricks for His Website
In advance of Cesar Millan’s website relaunch this past summer, Dave Rogers, vice president of digital for the famed dog whisperer’s Los Angeles-based multimedia empire, wanted to ensure that the site’s legacy SEO didn’t suffer during the transition. The Millan brand had plenty to bark about, with more than 8 million followers on Facebook and the popular Cesar 911 TV series.
But an audit of cesarsway.com, which sells pet products, books and DVDs and offers a wealth of pet-related information, showed that SEO issues weren’t the site’s biggest concern. Rather, it was suffering from a lack of focused content that, according to Rogers, kept it from delivering on its revenue potential.
The challenge for Rogers and managing editor Rosalia De Azevedo was to find a tool to help leverage their content across multiple digital channels to engage visitors at various points in the purchasing journey. The duo realized that this fix went beyond well-trod paid SEO marketing vehicles to a broader content optimization approach called web presence management, or WPM.
After viewing a demo, Rogers and De Azevedo were convinced that the cloud-based Searchlight WPM platform from New York City-based Conductor was the right tool for the job. Unlike SEO tools that lean on paid positioning and advertising, Searchlight helps brands connect with key buying personas via nonpaid channels such as the company website, organic searches and social media—“where most traffic comes from anyway,” says Conductor co-founder and CEO Seth Besmertnik. “You can’t reach everybody with paid ads. You need to find ways to get into the target customer’s buying process earlier and to engage them across different channels with great content at key stages of the buyer’s journey.”
Searchlight crawls a client’s websites and social networks, as well as competitors’ sites and search engines. It analyzes the data it collects and generates recommendations for content optimization. These can be general recommendations such as changing tags or photo placement to make pages more accessible to search engines, or they can get as granular as “You should publish content about overweight dogs” or “You don’t have any early-stage content for people attracted to rescue dogs.”
Cesar’s Way pays about $3,700 per month for its Searchlight service package, which was implemented in April 2014. For Rogers, it’s money well spent. His team spent the next year learning from the program, tweaking their site’s content mix based on Searchlight’s guidance.
Even before the relaunch of cesarsway.com, Searchlight was paying dividends. In the first year, the number of users jumped from 2.2 million to 3.1 million, and average site visits increased from 95 seconds to 138 seconds. Rogers can’t put an exact dollar figure to Searchlight’s impact on the bottom line, but he says that overall, the Millan digital group enjoyed a 9 percent jump in revenue in 2014. For 2015, Rogers expects revenue to climb by 10 percent over last year.
“It’s rewarding to see it all come together,” Rogers says. “We’re now thinking more about the buyer’s journey as we develop and tag our content, and we have a much better idea of the kinds of information people are searching for, and the answers we can provide them.”
A second opinion
Content marketing is no longer a matter of merely “going out and buying keywords and banner ads and hoping for the best,” says Adele Revella, author of Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight Into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business.
“As Cesar’s Way discovered, getting found isn’t enough. They had to take time to really look at content from the customer perspective so that [the site] could deliver content that was instantly relevant and helpful to their customers.”