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The 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing Blog

Best practices, training and innovations in Digital Strategy.

[Marketing Analogies] Call for Triathletes, not Marathon Runners

February 16, 2015 – 7:05 pm
Arman Rousta

Are you a runner or an athlete? Yes, runners are athletes too…but a triathlete is a well-rounded, multi-talented individual, who cross-trains and is able to shift gears – literally – when the terrain changes.

This is an analogy for the kinds of people I look to hire and enjoy working with. People who have an array of complimentary skills, and who work hard to hone several crafts, not just one very specialized skill. I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for specialization. It’s just not always practical or useful in a dynamic field like Digital Marketing or a multi-faceted era like the one we now live in.

Another good analogy – perhaps more controversial – is to compare a boxer to a mixed martial artist, and ask the question – “Who would likely win in a street fight?” I think the answer is obvious. The mixed martial artist trains for various situations and must be well-prepared for different types of attacks; whereas a boxer knows that he’s likely not going to get kicked, and thereby can focus on one type of engagement. As a digital marketer or technician, who would you rather be when the gloves come off?

How does this apply back to what we do as digital marketers and web developers? Let’s think about SEO for a minute, and consider what type of SEO expert you would want to hire in your company. Of course, a lot of it depends on the overall budget and what other team members he or she has to work with. Let’s assume that there already exists a 4-person team (one Web Designer, one Web Developer, one Online Advertising Manager and one Social Media Strategist). In the current team, they may have tried to do SEO, but always got too busy with their own tasks, and faced some knowledge limitations; hence the need to bring in an SEO Specialist, to complement the team’s current skills.

If the new SEO comes in, and knows absolutely nothing about the other four disciplines and what those team members do, how effective do you think he or she will be? For example, the SEO knows how to view Search volume estimates from Google Adwords, but not how SEM bidding works, or ad geo-targeting. Or the SEO doesn’t understand how Social Media mentions, follows and engagement can impact Google’s search algorithm; maybe he’s heard about it anecdotally through SEO best practices reading, but since he hasn’t practiced Social Media, he’s not quite sure how to follow-through with these tasks. Even in this nice case of having four other team members, all of which have a primary focus in one area, the SEO needs some training to talk the same language as each of them, and collaborate effectively on marketing projects.

In the 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing methodology, we look at individuals and project teams through the lens of a tool called the 49er Matrix. There, we break down each person’s skills across each of the 7 Pillars – establishing 1 or 2 “Majors” (as in College, when we choose our primary study area) and 2-3 “Minors”. Digital Marketing is an interdisciplinary field, and those who follow the rigid bent of specialization will have trouble here, and are better suited for ultra-specialization jobs in large corporations. To succeed in this field and this era, teams overall and individuals must take a holistic approach to training and knowledge sharing.

Think of yourself as a triathlete, not a marathon runner, and you’ll go a long way, by land or sea!


Blueliner CEO To Keynote At CIMPA 2014

November 10, 2014 – 3:00 am

CIMPA 2014 – The Open Universe To Digital Marketing


Mark your calendars!

The much-anticipated 2nd edition of The Cayman Islands Marketing Professionals Association (CIMPA) Conference is set for November 12th at The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort and Spa.

Industry leaders will share their insight and expertise regarding hot topics and trends in marketing.

Blueliner’s CEO, Arman Rousta, who is one of them, will present an innovative concept: The 7 Pillars Of Digital Marketing. , a complex framework and methodology for learning, planning, executing, and analyzing all aspects of Digital and Integrated Marketing.

This is a unique chance for all participants to experience a presentation on best practices, emerging trends, a revolutionary marketing concept and an insightful case study that will all be presented exclusively within CIMPA 2014, by our own Arman Rousta.


Stay tuned for the LIVE coverage of the event via our social media channels!

You can also ask us questions via Twitter, using the #7pillars hashtag.


To find out more information about The 7 Pillars Of Digital Marketing, visit:


To find out more information about CIMPA 2014 and to register, visit:




Blueliner CEO to Keynote WebCongress New York

June 23, 2014 – 10:12 pm
Arman Rousta

Come join the industry leaders at WebCongress New York!  Blueliner CEO, Arman Rousta, is one of the featured Keynote Speakers, and will be discussing his digital marketing solution strategy “The 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing”.  Get inspired and learn digital insights from the experts!  The list of speakers reads like a who’s who of digital marketing world, including Facebook, Microsoft, Facebook, Bing, YouTube, AOL and Blueliner just to name a few.

Split into three experiences, WebCongress NYC offers a unique and engaging learning and networking environment like no other.  The event agenda includes:

Conference & Roundtables:  Let the industry leaders inspire you!

Workshops:  Master advanced marketing strategies in small groups led by the experts. “Discover ASPEC” with the creator, Theo Sky, Creative Director and Co-founder of Medialets, or sit down with Jason Daily, Director of Bing Evangelism to explore “The Future of Search”.

Networking Party:  Mingle, network and enjoy cocktails with WebCongress New York attendees and speakers at the after party, hosted by our friends at Startup Socials.


To register, please visit:

To learn more about WebCongress New York visit:



Recovering from Panda 4.0

May 27, 2014 – 12:21 pm

Many businesses rely on organic search marketing efforts to provide high quality, targeted, high-ROI web leads and/or sales every month. A hit to website rankings or visibility can be detrimental to your short term business model. For many websites, Panda 4.0 makes this nightmare a reality and many businesses struggle with correcting past mistakes and re-asserting their business in a space online that encourages interest and ultimately, conversions.

Recovery is not easy. It never is. It can be a lengthy process and one must be able to quickly recognize this in order to move forward and reduce the impact on your business’ bottom line. In times like this, we turn to the 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing for recovery.

Each of the 7 Pillars of Digital Marketing is accompanied by 7 Stages, in order to best help you plan ahead for the implementation of each pillar. From budgeting to resources and technology, the 7 Pillar’s 49er Matrix can be used as a guide in recovering from Panda 4.0. For more on the 7 Pillars, take a look at the presentation at this location.

Step I: Panda 4.0 Recoup

Pillar 4. Digital Media

Recovering from a loss of organic search rankings is not going to happen overnight. The same way it took your site a prolonged period of time to rank for your target keyword(s), it can to take to rebuild. In the interim, you should have a sense of which of your target keywords have been converting. While you may no longer have Analytics access to those converting keywords via Google anymore, you are still able to note the fluctuations in entrances to top landing pages and inference entrance keywords on:

  • The manner in which those pages are optimized
  • The change in those landing page entrances (Analytics) versus the change in search impressions and clicks (via Webmaster)

These combined with the nature of the conversion may be enough to lend insight as to the lost keyword(s) that have impacted your bottom line. If you’ve never worked with Google Adwords before, now is a great time to start. While this will incur costs you may not have normally expected, running a quick and efficient Adwords campaign to target the specific keywords lost is a great way to put your business back in front of the eyes of potential consumers and regain the voice lost when your site was hit by Panda 4.0.

Tip: Did your previous organic meta description and page title encourage a high click through rate? This provides a great starting point for your ad copy. Reverse this tactic as well – A/B testing ad copy for the purposes of changing your meta description is a great way to influence your organic click through rate when you’ve began to work on Pillar 3 again (SEO.)

Pillar 5. CRM

Some webmasters just don’t dive into their analytics nearly enough. Now is definitely the time. Your site is most likely seeing a reduction in unique and/or new visitors. For the visitors that are still coming to your site, either from branded searches or keywords that are still successful – how is your website interacting with them? Each visitor should mean that much more to you now because you understand how volatile the SERPs can be and how organic traffic and its ROI cannot be taken for granted. Are your web pages converting visitors? Where are they dropping off? The use of Google Analytics in conjunction with tools like Clicktale can lend great insight as to how users are interacting with your web properties. Test alternative landing pages (colors, language, formatting, etc) and work to improve on-site conversion rates from existing users to compensate the reduced ROI from the site being hit by Panda 4.0.

Tip: Alternatively – Look to your database. How many leads have you captured in the past? How many email addresses are on file and have authorized emails to be sent to them? Consider how you’ve interacted with them in the past and how you can re-engage past web visitors in order to recoup the loss of organic traffic with an audience that you know is likely to convert, as they have in the past.

Step II: Panda 4.0 Recovery

Pillar 1. Content

For many that have been hit by Panda, this may have been where the problem originated from. Content. What are you delivering to your web users? Are you providing content of value? How often is this content being updated? Google loves to see new and fresh content updated on a site. It lets them know that it’s still active and assumes its relevancy to users. Whether it is new static pages or active blogging, it is recommended that your website evolve as your market evolves. Being ahead of the curve and an influencer in this sphere is even better, and this is what your website should be at its highest aspirations. If you were a consumer or a general web user and wanted information on or wanted to purchase X – Would your site be the place to do it? Why or why not? How can you turn those honest ‘no’s’ into a resounding ‘yes’? It all starts with the content. While we’ll never claim that this is where the buck stops, it’s certainly a good place to start.

Note: Integration with Pillar 3 (SEO) is crucial. Content should be targeted in the same manner in which your meta-tags are targeted. It is important that content like your meta-tags are unique to individual pages, as duplicate content can be trouble-some.

Tip: Oft overlooked, but formatting of on-page copy is vital. It ensures readability, encourages users to scroll further down the site to both read and click through to other sections. Google also uses this as a ranking indicator.

On top of Google’s recent Panda updates, algorithm updates have been made to lessen the visibility of websites that don’t offer users enough content above the fold. If a user has to scroll down too far on your website, or has to pass through an abundance of ads to view your content, you’re probably providing a negative user experience. If this sounds like your website, now is the time to correct it. It will both benefit your SEO and your users will thank you.

Outside of this visual change, examine the structure of URLs on site. Ensure that pages are not just tied to the root domain and that each section is built out in a manner that which Google can literally track each subsequent sub-folder of a page and denote the exact topic/industry/niche the page is a part of, going all the way back to your root domain.

Pillar 3. SEO

Integrating Pillar 2 and 3 (like all the pillars) is essential. Ensure that pages (folders, sub-folders) are targeted for a specific set of keywords. When building in-links into your site, the linking site and the link target should accurately reflect the keywords in this section. This will work to further re-enforce the subject matter of those particular sub-folders and of the website.

There is also the matter of taking care of the existing in-link issue on your site. Check your account with Google Webmaster Tools which will indicate whether your site has been hit with a manual penalty or not. It is suggested that you tackle both manual penalties and algorithm shifts in the same manner – by “tidying up” your link portfolio.

Cleaning your in-link portfolio doesn’t necessarily meaning to remove any link that doesn’t come from a high page rank website. No natural link portfolio is void of less than stellar links, and you shouldn’t attempt to make yours as such. It will only make your portfolio seem unnatural, which is not a lot better than having a portfolio full of SPAM.

There are several tools out there, like Link Detox that can help you sort through your site’s links and identify which are questionable. The goal is to remove SPAMMED links – and we all know those when we see them, no need to go into the details. Email webmasters individually and kindly ask them to remove the links on those sites. Those that you cannot get in contact with should be placed in a Disavow file and submitted to Google Webmaster. If you have a manual penalty noted against your site, now would be the time to also fill out a Reconsideration Request.

Pillar 6. Social Media, PR

Going forward, it’s important to make sure that you have a healthy inlink acquisition strategy for your website – one that centers around the Content (Pillar 1) that you’ve created within your niche. The integration of this content with your social media and PR strategy is key.  Social media shares, likes, pins, tweets, etc are all positive indicators to Google that your content is of real value to those that interact with it; thus its impact on your site’s organic search rankings.

Like social, PR will play a vital role. Think of your PR and link building strategy as a single concept – Where would you want to attain links from? Where do you want referral visits from? Where does your target audience live and what are the best forums and mediums to reach out to those individuals? At its highest level, your marketing and PR strategy should directly reflect your newer (Panda-proof) link acquisition strategy.

Pillar 7. Mobile

Mobile issues often present themselves in the face of duplicate content and low user engagement (Pillar 2 and 3, respectively). When using the 49er matrix, you’ll see the correlation between UX and mobile. A mobile friendly UX can come in the form of a responsive web design or a separate mobile website. Allowing the user to view the content in a format appropriate for their device will help to increase engagement, pages per visit, time on site, and ultimately, conversions. Not only is this better for your business’ bottom line, but will indicate to Google that your site provides quality material for users.

The other way mobile websites tend to conflict with Panda 4.0 updates is in the form of duplicate content. Users that have separate mobile and desktop websites often repeat the content from one site to another. This is not unusual and may be practical in most senses. To Google, this still appears to be duplicate content across sub-domains. In order to fix this, you’re going to have to let Google know that this content is duplicated on purpose, supposed to be there, and then indicate which one of these pages you would rather rank. This acknowledgement of the issue and indication of your URL ranking preference for this content comes in the form of a rel=canonical tag, placed on the header of both the original and duplicate content. This will fix the issue of duplicate content within your site – something Panda penalizes heavily.

And this is just the start of it! We’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of optimization and cross optimization between Pillars. Using the 49er Matrix, follow each pillar and mode and ensure that you deliver an integrated, holistic marketing plan from the ground up; that incorporates all aspects of your digital strategy. This will not only aid in your recovery of Panda 4.0, but will reduce the chances of your web properties being affected by future Google updates. Good Luck!



Panda 4.0

May 22, 2014 – 9:56 pm

Google has definitely been keeping both themselves and webmasters busy. Only a matter of days apart, Google introduced two algorithm updates. The first algorithm change came over the weekend; a refresh of the Payday Loans update originally introduced in June of 2013. The original update targeted especially SPAMMY queries. Sites optimized via these inlinks took a very hard hit, albeit the segment a rather narrow one. This weekend’s update is an extension of that and looks to be targeting other SPAMMY anchor text, though results are still being gathered.

The bigger news came on May 20th, 2014, with the confirmation of the rolling out of Panda 4.0. Since being introduced in February of 2011, Panda has been frustrating many webmasters. Originally affected 12% of all search queries, the Panda algorithm has been updated at least 25 times since its introduction; all minor updates (or refreshes as Google likes to call them). This last one though, seemed to cause a bit of a disturbance.

The May 20th announcement by Matt Cutts indicates that Panda 4.0 is more than just another refresh and actually a significant change to the algorithm. Panda 4.0 will have an impact on approximately 7.5% of English-language search queries. It is likely that this adjustment will become a part of the base algorithm going forward and will be the stepping stone in which all other refreshes extend from, much like the original 2011 update.

Panda was initially in response to the amount of sites linked from link farms that were ranking well in the SERPs. Since then it has extended to target websites with thin or less than useful content. Panda aims at reducing the number of low quality pages that are all too common in the engine’s search results. The more liable the system is to being manipulated, the more damaging it is to Google’s flagship product.

Webmasters don’t have all the answers yet as the affects are still being evaluated. Expect rankings and positions to be volatile in the coming days, much as they were in the days directly before the update. Rollouts are generally done over a period of time, so if your site wasn’t affected in the past two days, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear just yet.

Going forward, it doesn’t look like Google is done yet either. While this update affected a number of sites with less than impressive on page content (eBay was a big loser in this category) Google doesn’t seem to have yet solved the issue of webmasters scraping content.

Scraping content is the task of pulling content from high ranking, already successful pages and incorporating it into your own website. There is not enough content to be caught by duplicate content filters, but enough to seem authoritative and rank well. The issue with this black-hat SEO strategy is that is currently works well and many of these sites outrank websites that create and curate original content. Google has made steps to weed these sites out, but this is expected to be an integral part of future refreshes.

Penguin 2.0 should also be expected in the coming months, as it’s been nearly a year since its release without any major updates.



21 Attributes of The Perfect Agency

March 17, 2014 – 6:23 pm
Arman Rousta

The Perfect Agency…

  1. Gets above-average, positive ROI results most of the time.
  2. Increases Enterprise Value (EV) for its clients.
  3. Has low staff turnover.
  4. Has a high client satisfaction rate.
  5. Has high contract renewal rates.
  6. Has high referral rates.
  7. Feels like more of a partner than a vendor to clients.
  8. Makes its clients and client staff smarter.
  9. Develops talent, at every level.
  10. Has seamless knowledge flow throughout its organization.
  11. Reinvents itself constantly.
  12. Has healthy and well-balanced employees.
  13. Operates in a flexible, agile fashion, without bureaucracy.
  14. Is a good corporate citizen, in its community.
  15. Discovers and invents new methodologies, constantly remaining ahead of the curve and seeking to improve upon how its services are delivered.  They invest in Thought Leadership.
  16. Inspires everyone involved with their projects.
  17. Has staff that sustains a positive, can-do, multi-disciplinary approach towards projects and their own professional development.
  18. Doesn’t put out cookie cutter work and solutions.
  19. Has fun and gets things done – at the same time.
  20. Doesn’t make excuses or employ excessive salesmanship.  They keep their promises.
  21. Doesn’t “fake it til they make it” – they’re making it all the time, and it shows.



David Houle Speaks at Heath City Symposium

March 1, 2014 – 2:10 am
Arman Rousta

Blueliner Shareholder and America’s leading Futurist, David Houle, closes the Health City Cayman Islands Symposium on February 25, 2014. Dr. Devi Shetty, the visionary cardiologist, humanitarian, entrepreneur, is the guest of honor. Medical tourism is a hotly debated topic and a rapidly rising trend in U.S. Healthcare.

“David has been a great mentor over the past ten years” notes Arman Rousta, “He sees the world, its trends and potential in ways that most people do not.  Being with him at this momentous occasion in Cayman Islands, to praise the visionary Dr. Shetty and mark the opening of the groundbreaking Health City facility, is a defining moment for us all.”

This 12-minute talk demonstrates why David is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and speaker on vital topics like the future of healthcare.  David also wrote a poignant blog about his views of Health City as a model for healthcare in the 21st Century, on the popular Evolution Shift.



Cross Platform Marketing in Children’s Media

April 17, 2013 – 3:07 pm
Danny Klein

A Blueliner client in the business of children’s media recently engaged in a series of meetings with Dreamworks Animation regarding one of his feature film screenplays. Dreamworks’ interest was simple and straightforward: is this story marketable, and does it have “cross platform” appeal? From the beginning of the presentation process, story meetings actually included the Dreamworks marketing staff. In fact, story editors there concurrently serve as marketing executives. Simply put, story development is intertwined with product development on all levels – it’s as if the company serves as an animation production house as well as an interactive marketing agency.

The staff’s key question, not surprisingly, was whether or not the story and characters could be marketed across the board: video games, digital games, mobile games, music recordings, television, books, dissertations, toys, etc.  The story would also have to play for boys and girls. Research included the movie’s title — whether it was simple enough for kids to say, and could exploit search engine optimization. Ultimatlely, what Dreamworks has found in recent years is that funny furry animals have proven to spawn more merchandise than other products (think “Shrek”). And thus, they were on the hunt for a “funny furry animal” project that would translate into the aforementioned platforms for cross platform marketing.

Today’s children’s media executives know that cross platform marketing, or transmarketing, is nothing new. We all remember the days of our “Star Wars” or “Strawberry Shortcake” lunch boxes, Darth Vader masks, and Luke Skywalker figures. (Dare I forget my Star Wars pillow and blanket). Only nowadays, there are more platforms than ever, and they are always changing, always growing. So how do these companies keep up?

Ken Faier, president of Nerd Corps, executive producer of “SlugTerra”, and presenter at the “Creating Brands in the New Digital Age” panel, concurred that when his company evaluates any new property (storyline, or show), they always evaluate what media will be used to advertise to that demographic, and of course the potential for retail products associated with the brand. Lori Camm, a Senior Content Producer and programmer for BBC Children, asks, “Is the core of transmedia just marketing? Or is it getting to a good story?” She suspects it’s a bit of both. “If you’ve got a good story and good characters, the kids will go to where they are.” Ville Lepisto, animation producer with Rovio, the company that produced the surprise hit “Angry Birds”, sees the cross-platform strategy as basically telling the same story over and over again, with different media.

“Angry Birds” used Tumblr as their key media content hub, and had a live Google hangout leading up to the release. Keeping their focus on the fans and delivering different content at the same time on different media platforms, where their fans would be, launched the property successfully with games, toys and other associated merchandise. Note that more platforms means that products associated with a brand can be launched at the same time.  This differs from past marketing strategies, in which products were launched in cautious phases.
Another effect of today’s digital media is that children are receiving so many messages online, via social media, all the time. When movies and television were the key marketing platforms, products generally hit movies first and then became television series (so as to hedge the television investment). Or, if a television show proved to be successful, it then became a movie (ie. Hannah Montana, The Simpsons, etc). But then kids had time to process what it is they were watching. With omnipresent social media, products must be launched at once in order to leave an imprint. Especially when the consumers are children and parents. Today there are Facebook groups and blogs that generate more viewership than expensive, high-risk television programs.

The lesson, which extends well beyond children’s media clients – to create properties that can be launched on a variety of platforms, and preferably at the same time (or close to it). The days of 6-12 month brand “roll outs” are  long gone!




Bing search results- between authorship and subjectship

March 26, 2013 – 5:33 pm

Search results have always been important both for SEO and sales . While the algorithmic  formula is kept secret, many search engines are trying  to push the “creativity” further.Let’s compare Bing and Google.When someone starts searching for a particular keyword, the results  surprise, especially because they are confusing. For instance, the Bing results for author images seem to show exactly as the ones from Google. With one exception: they cannot be called author images,because they get more into subject images (which may be an attribute specific only to Bing search results).Example of authorship image from Google:






This is a  picture of Jim Crammer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money and a co-founder and chairman of In this case, Google associated my search with his picture and biography.Now moving forward with this analysis, let’s take a look at how Bing proceeds in terms of showing search results.




















Both arrows reveal that Nick Goodman’s picture shows he is author of those articles instead of … topic. In the middle of the search results page, instead of Nick’s picture (since he is the founder of the company that is subject of the article), one can notice a picture showing a plane  - the cover picture of the article in Forbes Magazine.While constantly trying to improve their search results,  engines have the tendency to become more confusing instead of creative. I think the best way to bring improvements to your search results  is using clarity and avoiding as much as possible misunderstandings. People get confused very easily, and if they are not particularly interested in a specific topic, and will go further with their readings, (so if  they just take a look at the Bing page) they will not understand who Nicholas Woodman is.


Continued Innovation on Facebook

February 13, 2013 – 12:15 pm

What happens when a medium becomes saturated with advertisers? Companies all around the world are competing for attention and for potential customers on social media. The good news is that social media can be very cost-effective. The bad news is, it is becoming more and more saturated every day.

Facebook users ‘like’ an increased number of brands. The proportion of ‘Likes’ to number of users has increased and thus decreased the value of each ‘Like’. This was inevitable; as companies became accustomed to posting content that ‘Likes’ for the simplest things. ‘Like if you Love Fridays’, ‘Like if you think kittens are cute’, and so forth. A ‘like’ has become so common for these posts that the number of likes almost becomes irrelevant.

In November, Nars took on a unique challenge. They sought to promote a new cosmetics collection using social media, but without giving away free products or even paying for advertising. The company developed a Facebook application for the Andy Warhol-inspired collection that would allow Facebook users to match their profile photos and/or cover photos in the style of Warhol, with prominent Nars branding throughout. (To see it the app in action, check out the video from Nars below.)

Speaking at a WWD conference, Heather Park, the digital media director at Nars, explained the entire philosophy behind this successful new way of engaging customers via social media. The aim was to target the cover photo section of users’ profiles. The team found out that once a Facebook user changes his profile picture, it appears in the friends’ feeds as a unique and not as a group update.  The outcome was a quite small number of users: approximately 3,100 BUT a really impressive number of engaged people. All together, the app’s users made over 5,000 images and spent over 7 minutes on using the app. Less than half of the users came from the US, with a surprising number coming from Brazil (approximately 23%).

Earned media impressions totaled 151 million, a figure obtained in majority from press coverage (tech and beauty blogs), Park said. Nars calculated that figure by adding up the monthly unique readers of each site that covered the campaign and, in the case of Twitter, by multiplying each tweet about the campaign by the number of followers that particular Twitter user had.

This example is important, not because of the great impact the campaign had, but because the company generated a high reach without any kind of sweepstakes, giveaways, or paid Facebook advertising. It goes to show that Facebook still has room for innovation. Success is not determined by the number of likes or comments. Sometimes, creating a great, engaging tool is better than curating daily content to promote your brand.