Employee Spotlight: Pablo Ledesma
WordStream has some impressive employees in our ranks: from industry influencers to marathon runners, from analysts to authors. The Employee Spotlight series aims to highlight the talented individuals who work here. Each month, we’ll be featuring an interview here on the blog and on our social accounts.

For this month’s Employee Spotlight, we talked with Pablo Ledesma. Originally from Salamanca, Spain, Pablo learned to code in a Launch Academy program, after studying business and environmental science. Pablo joined WordStream as a software engineer about a year and half ago.

What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on during your time here so far?

A couple of months after I started, my managers asked me to create a very specific feature for the Facebook component of the product. Users needed to be able to select multiple items and collapse a whole list—this kind of crazy automation stuff. It was extremely difficult, mostly because it took weeks of working on the code and product without knowing if would actually work. When you’re creating product features from scratch, that’s the process. It worked out, though.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on here at WordStream?

I like working on the 20-Minute Work Week alerts! For these, I work from scratch on the backend to generate the alert all the way through to the front end with user testing. To create a new alert, you have to create an algorithm that actually works and learns, and that people will find useful. Then, you have to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. If our customers aren't finding it helpful, is it the user flow or the function of the alert itself that isn't working? It’s a really creative process trying to follow the user flow. When you get it right and create something completely new, it’s one of those brilliant, ah-ha moments.

That sounds very collaborative.

It is really collaborative. I work with product managers, UX designers, other engineers—creating a new alert involves a lot of preparation because it needs to be useful. We could just make something cool or new, but that wouldn’t necessarily be helpful to our customers.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned on the job?

I’ve learned that there's always a solution for everything. As an engineer, at least, it’s always possible. It’s just a matter of time and resources. This a...
How to Prevent XSS Attacks: What DoubleClick Advertisers Need to Know
In late 2017, Google released a warning for DoubleClick platform users about a design flaw that leaves their websites vulnerable to cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks from third-party vendors.

This wasn't the first time Google Ads has had problem, but those are usually coming at us from the admin side. This is a design flaw that degrades UX by hijacking the script mid-session.

Cross-site scripting issues aren't new. They aren't even the biggest digital marketing story of the year; this type of vulnerability has been around since the 1990s. Recently, however, hackers have found newer and sneakier ways to exploit it – and not in a small way.

Facebook spent most of 2018 battling various XSS exploits and bad publicity as it tried to secure its platform for millions of users at risk.
In the latter part of 2018, a handful of some of the world’s largest platforms (including Reddit, Amazon Music, Tinder, Pinterest) risked compromise to a staggering 685 million accounts as a result of a third-party XSS vulnerability. 
The issue happens with “iframe busters” – HTML files on a domain server that determine how a Display ad is engaged by a visitor, effectively allowing ads to appear larger than their encapsulating iframe.

Now, cyber attackers have found a way to add arbitrary code to the busters, leaving websites and visitors open to infiltration. This undermines visitor trust at a time when consumer confidence in cybersecurity is already low and data integrity issues are front-page news.

In this article, we’ll take a look at XSS attacks and outline ways in which advertisers can steer clear of the attacks themselves and for their partners – publishers and vendors.

What is an XSS attack?

Cross-site scripting has a built-in flaw that leaves dynamic web content open to manipulation by inserting malicious code into the embedded script. It usually affects Javascript code that's used to power ads, but it can be injected into any type of active code like ActiveX, Flash, or VBScript.

Exploiting this weakness in the coding wreaks havoc by redirecting – or misdirecting – website visitors, accessing cookies, or installing malware. It can hijack a user's entire session and send them to another website. The bigger and more interactive a website is, the more insertion points there are for hackers to probe for weaknesses.

This is part of the...
How to Increase PPC Profits – By Decreasing Sales
Ever heard the phrase “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity”?

This phrase rings especially true for ecommerce advertisers who may be blinded by revenue levels or conversion numbers instead of what really matters: the actual profitability of their PPC accounts.

It’s understandable to follow the logic that more sales would lead to more revenue. But that’s not always the case. In this guide, I’m going show you how you can maximize the PPC profitability for your ecommerce business both ways – the traditional way, by adjusting your bids, and the non-traditional way, by actually decreasing your sales.

Maximizing PPC profitability: The traditional way

If you’re not happy with your ROI, the most intuitive way to increase paid advertising profitability is to be smarter with your bids or your bid adjustments. That way, you’re increasing the impact of your ad dollars without spending more.

Tweaking bids to increase profits

One strategy for maximizing your ad spend is changing your bids in order to increase your profits.

If you take the price you sell a product for and subtract all costs (product cost, admin cost, staff cost, shipping cost, etc.) then you are left with the raw profits generated by each product sale.
Most of our clients use between 30-50% of this raw profit to help advertise the product. This leads to the ad cost being taken away from the total raw profits generated to make the sale in the first place, giving a final profitability relationship:

This allows advertisers to work out a target return on ad spend (ROAS) for a product by dividing the revenue generated by each sale by the cost of advertising.

When setting bids on search or shopping campaigns an advertiser can tweak bids up or down to aim towards a target ROAS or even reverse-engineer CPCs to find an ideal Maximum CPC bid.

Modify bid adjustments to increase profits

Ecommerce website users are a fickle bunch; some may convert differently during different times of the day, some demographics may increase average conversion rates while others drag it down, and often users act very differently depending on which device they have in their hands.

Without using bid adjustments, you have to combine highly converting users with poorly converting users and work towards the hazy midway average performance between them, which is less than ideal.

By segmenting and using...
Google Rolls Out Responsive Video Ads, Expanded Call-Only Ads + More Recent News
Think you're having deja vu? Think again. You're not reading my online advertising news round-up from a couple of weeks ago. There's just been even more news that we know you need to know about. Sometimes it feels like it never stops.

Here are the latest updates from Google, Facebook and the other top ad platforms, so you can stay on top of the changes that might affect your campaigns.

Responsive display ads now support video content

Google has been going bananas with announcements recently. Up first: YouTube advertisers can now feature videos in their responsive display ads.

For those who don’t know: Google Ads uses machine learning to create the dynamic, visually engaging units known as responsive display ads. Basically, you upload the copy and the creative assets. Then, Google Ads algorithmically determines the best combination according to the content on the web page and the size of the user’s screen.

Selecting videos for responsive display ads in the Google Ads UI. Via Google.

Up until recently, “creative assets” meant images and GIFs. Now, YouTube advertisers can expand their reach by running their video ads across the Display network via responsive ads.

Not only do responsive display ads drive more impressions (due to Google Ads’ increasing preference for them) and more clicks (due to greater visual appeal) than the other Display Network ad types; they’re more accessible than the other ad types, too.

Whereas creating and optimizing standard banner ads requires a dedicated design team (or an agency), responsive display ads require nothing by copy and visual content—which, if you’re really crunched for time, Google Ads can generate for you based on your website content.

To make this news all the more exciting, Google Ads has released two new features in step with this announcement:

The new combinations report tells you which combinations of copy and creative drive the best results for your business on the Display network.
The new ad strength scorecard gives you insights into how you can improve your responsive display ads.
Google Ads expands call-only ads with extra text

In the coming weeks, Google Ads will expand your call-only ads by giving you extra room for written copy. Specifically, you’ll get to play with two extra 30-character headlines and a 90-character description (rather than an 80-character description, as was...
LinkedIn Advertising Cheatsheet
We’ve heard a lot of moaning and complaining about LinkedIn not working. We’ll admit it: unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is not for every business. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful.

There are tons of B2B marketers out there leveraging the platform to spread brand awareness and drive lead generation. This is the largest stage for business-minded social interactions. If you are targeting c-suite professionals, providing educational material to marketers, or just spreading brand awareness, LinkedIn is the platform for you.

First things first, if you are going to advertise on LinkedIn, your company needs to have a LinkedIn company page to publish content. Once you have that all set up, you can dive into the specifics of LinkedIn Ads. Don’t worry – I’m here to help with those.

In this guide to advertising on LinkedIn, I’ll review everything you need to know to get started, including:

Each type of ad LinkedIn offers
What remarketing options LinkedIn Advertising supports
How to target your audience on LinkedIn
LinkedIn Ad Types

Like other social advertising platforms, LinkedIn ads come in a variety of flavors. And, like other platforms, you should be selecting your ad format based on the overall action you want to drive. LinkedIn ads support brand awareness, website visits, engagement, video views, lead generation, site conversions, and job applications.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

Sponsored content ads look and feel native to the LinkedIn platform. These are the ads that appear to be “boosted” posts from a company’s own feed. Your ads manager can create a typical post with a headline, image and link to sponsor. Or you can create carousel ads, video ads, and lead generation ads that appear in the same “boosted” format.

LinkedIn Text Ads

LinkedIn text ads are the closest to Google or Bing search ads that you can get on the platform. LinkedIn text ads operate on a familiar pay-per-click or impression basis, and they’re featured in the sidebar. These are admittedly kind of boring for a social platform – a basic text block with a headline, next to a company logo.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

Know that feeling when you log into LinkedIn and have 10 new messages? It’s likely that some of those are marketers popping into your inbox through Sponsored InMail for a pretty penny. Marketers or sales teams can curate a list of contacts...
15 SaaS Startup Growth Strategies to Try in 2019
SaaS startup growth is a numbers game, plain and simple.

If you bring in more customers than you lose, then you’ll grow. Fail to do so, and your competition will devour any market share you had.

Growth is everything to a new venture, but you can't just rely on the same old traditional growth strategies and marketing tactics.

“A startup business is always going to be full of uncertainty, and marketing is no different," according to  Matt Osborn, director of marketing at Apruve. "With any new business, with new target audiences, business owners cannot make the assumption that the marketing channels that worked in larger organizations will also work with a new company. For this reason, startups need to concentrate on trying out multiple channels, analyzing their return, and finding out which channels work the best."

With that in mind, here are 15 SaaS startup growth strategies to try this year. They're low-risk, high-yield opportunities you can deploy today to start seeing results in no time.

1. Deploy a Talk Trigger

Talk trigger is a phrase coined by bestselling author Jay Baer. It's all about creating a fundamental element of your business that triggers positive word-of-mouth about your company and naturally generates growth.

Talk triggers typically have the following traits:

Remarkable: Surprising and delightful enough that people want to tell their friends about it.
Reasonable: Enough to make an impact but something scalable.
Relevant: In line with your product or service offering so it makes sense.
Repeatable: Creates an amazing experience for all or many customers, not just one.
One example of a talk trigger is the chocolate chip cookies that DoubleTree hotels offer every customer at check-in. The hotels give out roughly 75,000 chocolate chip cookies every day. For his book, Baer surveyed 1,000 DoubleTree customers, and found that 34% of them had mentioned the cookie up to 60 days later. Further proof people love them? The countless copycat recipes posted all over the internet.

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Talk triggers for a SaaS company can be as simple as Dropbox’s innovative referral program (more on this one later) or You Need A Budget’s (YNAB) weekly webinars.

2. Offer Freemium Services or Free Trials

“Try before you buy” is nothing new, but it’s expected even more these days. According to a new Accenture report, there...
How to Make the Most of Your Ad Spend with Email Validation
You know the value of a strong paid search strategy. That’s why you spend significant time and money running ad campaigns, from keyword research to writing ad copy, and targeting your spend in order to drive qualified leads to a landing page.

When prospects click on your ad, you don’t just need them to fill out your webform. You need them to fill out your form correctly.

But here’s the reality: 1 in 10 customers who fill out your webform will enter an incorrect email address. They’ll type “gmal” instead of “gmail.” They’ll forget an “@” sign. The period will be in the incorrect location. Incorrect contact information means no lead.

In the end, your ad spend (and precious time) was lost to a simple typo. Bummer.

The good news? There’s an easy way to recapture otherwise lost leads: email validation.

The problem with landing page forms

What could go wrong when a user tries to fill out the form on your landing page?


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A whole bunch of stuff. *Shudder*

For one, there’s the simple, but oh-so-devastating typo. A user forgets to add an “@” sign in their email address. Someone’s typing quickly, and she doubles up on a letter. Another prospect forgot his glasses and didn’t notice he gets the numbers wrong. Whatever the typo might be, suddenly, an otherwise qualified lead is unreachable.

With more users browsing the web on mobile phones than on desktop computers, the problem is compounded. It’s easy to miss a tiny key on a virtual keyboard, or mindlessly enter your email address incorrectly on your phone while binge-watching your favorite TV show.

Marketers also need to protect their forms against spam bots, which can flood databases with inaccurate or toxic emails. While CAPTCHA or reCAPTCHA can help, they also interrupt the user experience.

It’s no wonder so many emails entered on webforms are inaccurate.

What is email validation?

Simply put, email validation is a service that determines if an email is deliverable without sending an email to it. An email validation provider corrects poor syntax, suppresses toxic data and ensures deliverability by pinging an email’s domain and mailbox.

Why is this important?

Every company that sends emails will hit bounces—even if the company uses best practices for collecting email addresses, such as only mailing to organic leads who have opted into the...
4 Facebook Messenger Marketing Strategies You Have to Try
Facebook Messenger is quickly becoming a widely used marketing tactic. It’s easy to see why—80% open rates, 60% clickthrough rates, and sky-high conversion rates.

Who doesn’t want results like that?

I’m going to show you the exact features that marketers are using to get those results.

Here are four specific Facebook Messenger features you must try:

Comment guard
Chat blasting
Click to messenger ad
Chat widget
1. Comment Guard (Private Auto-Responders on Facebook Posts)

Comment guard is a bot that you set up on your organic Facebook posts. When someone comments on the post, they will automatically receive a Facebook message from you.

You can think of it as a Facebook post autoresponder.

Person comments on a post.
Said person automatically receives a Messenger reply.
You can experience a comment guard in action by clicking on this link.

No offense taken if you don’t want to become my next lead (mwahaha!), so I’ll show it to you in screenshots.

Here is the Facebook post.

As soon as someone comments, they receive a Facebook Messenger message from a Facebook chatbot.

The person has not become a lead yet! The lead loop is closed only when they reply to the chatbot. 

Once they reply, they’re a solid lead. You have all their information and permission to send them messages.

There are three reasons that savvy marketers love comment guard.

Comment guards are free. You don’t pay for the leads. With Click to Messenger ads, you are paying per lead but not with comment guards.
Comment guards are a list building tactic. Anyone who comments and then engages the Messenger bot automatically adds themselves to your list.
Comment guards are blessed by Facebook. Facebook’s algorithm rewards engagement. So if you have a hot organic post and it’s getting comments, Facebook will prioritize that post in the newsfeed, giving you even more engagement.
Remember, your goal with comment guards is engagement.

Here are some ways that you can create an organic post with insane levels of engagement.

Quizzes or riddles: Create a quiz, no matter how dumb, and ask people to reply with what they think is the correct answer.
Gif replies: Ask people to answer a question with a gif. It can be as simple as “How’s your Monday going? Answer with a gif!” The comments will come pouring in.
Autocomplete: Give people a starter...
Scaling a Digital Agency: How to Hire the Right People
According to our annual State of the Agency report, hiring is a top-three challenge, and 15% of digital marketing agencies feel that hiring and training new employees is the biggest challenge they will face this year.

Between finding people with the right background and a strong culture fit, hiring new employees can be a daunting task. However, as you scale your business, you are going to need to hire in order to keep up with the demands of your growing client base. Here are some strategies to consider as you expand your team.

When to Hire New People

When scaling a digital agency, it’s important to identify signs that it might be time to bring in an additional team member. Recruiting and hiring new team members is not only a daunting process, it’s an expensive one. So how do you know it’s time to hire?

You Have Steady Revenue

About one in four startups fail due to not having the right team, and 29% fail from running out of cash, according to CB Insights. While it’s important to ensure you have enough employees to meet the demands of your business, you need to ensure your revenue is steady enough to take on an additional payroll.

Many startups hire due to an increase in stress level without an actual plan. Before taking on an additional employee, you should have a steady stream of income from client retention. If you’re having a difficult time keeping up with the workload, but can’t justify hiring an additional employee from a financial standpoint, consider outsourcing some work to freelancers or other agencies until things start to level out.

You Found a New Opportunity in Your Market

Whether you found a new opportunity in your service offerings or through expanding your market, it might be time to consider bringing on additional help. New employees can be beneficial not only by taking workload off you and other employees, but by having secondary specialty areas that can contribute to your agency’s overall growth.

You Can’t Keep Up

If your client base is expanding rapidly and your employees are getting fatigued, it is extremely important to bring someone in immediately. You should never be in a position where you have to turn prospects away because of workload. Nor do you want your product’s quality to suffer. Here are some signs your company is having a hard time keeping up with their current workload:

Employees frequently...

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20 Apr 2019