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Feras Alhlou is the Principal Consultant of E-Nor, Inc. which he co-founded in 2003. Feras is passionate about improving his clients’ ROI and led his organization to implement and launch successful Internet marketing and analytics strategies for E-Nor’s diversified client base, including Fortune 500 companies. Feras has an extensive background in the areas of online marketing consulting, search marketing, web analytics and marketing optimization. Under his leadership, E-Nor achieved qualifications as a Google Analytics Certified Partner (GACP), a Google AdWords Certified Partner, a Google Urchin Software Certified Partner and a Google Website Optimizer Certified Partner.
E-Nor is a leading digital marketing optimization and web analytics firm located in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Established in 2002, E-Nor has spent over a decade sharpening its experience on cutting edge Internet technologies and constantly evolving digital marketing strategies.
MO: What inspired you to start E-Nor?
Feras: The whole idea about the web was very intriguing to me. My business partner saw the potential of the internet, we had few heated discussions on where and how to leverage the opportunity, then decided to focus on online marketing and we were all over it. Back in 2002-2003 there wasn’t a whole lot of online marketing and digital analytics and I think I read every available publication on the subject. The idea of being able to run an online campaign (like paid search or email) and measuring results, then sharing those results with our clients, along with demonstrating the positive impact on their bottom line was (and still is) very satisfying to me.
MO: Can you talk about the journey of starting as a small company and building your organization from the ground up to serve the analytics needs of some of the world’s most recognized brands? How have you managed to scale the business accordingly?
Feras: It’s been a long journey from very modest beginnings. We built everything from the ground up to being one of only a handful of Google certified partners serving brands and world class organizations like Sony, ADP, SanDisk, MIT and others. I get calls and network with other entrepreneurs who want to start their own business and they ask about the secret to success. I tell them there are no short cuts, it’s a lot of hard work, with willingness to learn, long hours and having a determination that you’ll do whatever it takes to succeed. You’ll experience many ups and downs, no doubt, but when you stick to it, learn from your mistakes, you’ll make it.
Regarding scale, we made few mistakes early on by hiring aggressively (and learned the harsh reality of cash-flow and cash-flow management). But since then, we have since learned to manage with the resources we have. We have grown very organically and gradually and have some very strong partnerships, and this strategy has worked out well for us.
MO: What are some ways that companies can track the effectiveness of their marketing efforts? How can they then use the results to improve the overall performance of their website?
Feras: The sad reality is that most organizations don’t measure their marketing initiatives. You see organizations (large and small) spending tens of thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign without a measurement plan in place. My advice to companies is that to commit to analytics, especially in areas where you are spending time, efforts and resources. If you are a DIY person, there are many available and free resources (like the Google Analytics Conversion University). If you are not the hands-on type, then hire someone or find a consultant to help you measure the effectiveness of your initiatives. For example, say you are running two campaigns on Google AdWords and you are paying $5,000 a month per campaign. Don’t fall into the “set and forget” mode. You should be able to see the performance of each of the two campaigns; which one is driving leads and which is not. Expand your budget on the performing campaign and trim the spending on the underperforming campaign.
MO: Can you provide our readers with some insight on new features in Google analytics and what they should be paying attention to?
Feras: Google Analytics has really spoiled us (thank you Google!) with all the new enhancements and product features that are being rolled out very frequently. Content Experiments (for A/B testing) has been recently introduced and I recommend you take advantage of it to test your landing pages and your offers. If you are an advanced user, I definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with the multi-channel funnel to assess all the touch points that led to conversion on your site. If you are a novice, I suggest learning the power of segmentation using Advanced Segments to slice the data in meaningful ways, report on new versus returning, visits with conversion, mobile traffic, etc.
MO: What are two trends in your industry that you’re excited about?
Feras: There is more data than ever before, and expect even more. Marketers and business owners need to stay ahead of the curve in terms of analytics to leverage all this data to their business advantage. Also, mobile is big and is only going to get bigger. Make sure you have a mobile strategy for your business.
MO: How has E-Nor evolved since you first launched back in 2002?
Feras: It’s not “Feras, myself and I” anymore (and that’s a relief ). We have dedicated and amazing team members who are very knowledgeable in their respective domains. We have grown to locations outside of the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area. And we have developed and evolved our Digital Marketing Optimization Framework to enable organizations become more data-driven. Like I stated before, it’s been a long process, but our success has been tremendous, we are so fortunate to be where we are, and we hope it continues!
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