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Andy Betts
M Posted 7 years ago
t 5 min read

Kelly Rivard believes that user-first marketing is finally gaining the attention it deserves, while her accomplishments at Hallmark speak for themselves. Learn more from Kelly during her Share16 session on October 25.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly Rivard of Hallmark to speak about user-first marketing and her experiences over the past year helping to build a SEO in-house division in the 116 year old company. Her experience with this process means that she had some great insights to share with us.Kelly Rivard talks user-first marketing - brightedge

BrightEdge has allowed to essentially cut out a significant part of their manual work. DataCube and Opportunity Forecasting can do in one hour what once took 4-6. The platform highlights key opportunities while helping us identify low-hanging fruit, revamp landing pages, and uncovering the data and insights we need to take our SEO to the next level. We have been able to expand our team and reach a bandwidth that would not be possible without BrightEdge.

Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

BrightEdge: What is the biggest trend in marketing you see as we approach the end of 2016?

Kelly Rivard: 2016 was the year that people started to remember the user again. User-first everything is what we talk about at Hallmark, and it is critical to digital success. I consider myself to be a user-first marketing strategist and these developments have been exciting to see. Something else that ties into this idea of the user-first experience has been Google and their growing emphasis on the micro-moment; meeting the user where they are in the moment when the need arises. The entire industry seems to be shifting towards a more proactive stance of understanding the consumer. This really ties into what I see as the biggest opportunity. More and more marketers are understanding the importance of connecting with the customer. It becomes cliched, but honestly it works. You need to produce content that the audience actually wants, not just what you think will sell a product. Instead, take initiative to create new and interesting content that will start a conversation with the customer and encourage them to come back. From a retail standpoint, you want people landing on pages and buying products, but you need to first build a relationship with content people want to read, and then roll the right products into the right moment all together in the funnel.

BE: What is your biggest challenge as a marketer?

KR: Definitely helping to build an in-house SEO program from the ground up for a retailer that specializes in ink and paper. I started at Hallmark almost a year ago and no one knew how much of a difference my role would make, but we are actually seeing remarkable changes. We have consistently hit new milestones and are changing the way people think within the brand. Any company that has been around for more than 100 years, like Hallmark, will find it challenging to make these changes, but working here has been very rewarding and challenging.

BE: What is the biggest mistake you see marketers make?

KR: I see so many people overusing keywords like crazy. I see people thinking that the data shows they need keywords, keywords, keywords, but unless you are in a role where you sleep and eat SEO, you might not realize that optimization is more nuanced than that. These marketers often end up shooting themselves in the foot. When marketers redundantly use the same keyword repeatedly in a piece of content or stuff too many out-of-context keywords into copy just for search, it does not read well and thus will not perform as desired. Overall, I would say the biggest mistake is being too cut and dry in digital strategy - not being nuanced and “gray” enough, particularly with content strategy.

BE: What are your top two marketing tips?

KR: The first one, I would say, is to always put the customer first. I have often seen people get so caught up in KPIs that it becomes easy to forget that we will only reach our KPI goals when we meet the needs of customers. Similarly, just because you think something is best to promote your product does not mean it will be best for your customer. Always remember: user-first marketing wins. Secondly, marketers need to remember that everyone is trying to do their best. Working in marketing, it can sometimes get tense. It is a challenging field and there are usually politics and mixed priorities involved - particularly with those who do not understand what you are trying to achieve. It is best to always assume positive intent. We are all trying to work together to grow the business. Remembering that human element can help cut back on the frustrations associated with a high-stress job.

BE: Can you tell us a little about what you will speak about at Share16?

KR: I am going to be sharing insight about what it is like to help build an in-house SEO program in a company rich in legacy and history. Hallmark did not sell much on their website until a few years ago, but is now a full-fledged online and omni-channel retailer. SEO is one of many major changes we’ve made in the last few years, and we’ve grown in leaps and bounds because of it. At Share I will discuss how collaboration, open-mindedness, and the human element - remembering that everyone is doing their best - is so critical to brand success.

BE: Do you have any fun anecdotes or stories about yourself that you want to share with the audience?

KR: Oh, I have so many! I can say the alphabet backwards, for example. It is actually listed on my resume and I have done it in nearly every interview. I also recently spent a long weekend in Sweden. I am also training for my fourth half marathon. Well, I think we all know who to turn to when we want some fun stories at the networking events during Share! We look forward to hearing more about Kelly’s efforts in helping to build the Hallmark digital team and her ideas about user-first marketing when we see her in a few weeks at the event.