Sowmya Padigi is the newest member of the LaFleur team, serving as the company’s paid search advertising specialist. Before joining LaFleur, she worked for Google in India for more than five years as an AdWords account planner. She left that position in order to move to the United States to be with her husband, who had accepted a job here in Michigan. In the ensuing years, Sowmya went back to school to obtain her master’s degree in business communications from Grand Valley State University and took time off related to the birth of the couple’s first child before joining LaFleur in early 2017.
We sat down with Sowmya to get her take on the important fundamentals and potential pitfalls of paid search campaigns, and we also found time to discover a little bit about her hidden goofy side and her semi-secret love for South Park.
LLM: When you first met our existing pay-per-click specialist Kyle McCarthy, what was it like? Did you guys have some things you were able to learn from each other?
SP: Yes, I think it was both ways. I hadn’t worked with AdWords in a while, so although I still had the core concepts, there were things I had to catch up with and a lot of new features that Kyle was able to teach me. Also, there are a lot of external tools I use here that I had never used before, like SEMRush, Raven Tools, and SpyFu — oh my God, I love SpyFu. So I definitely learned a lot from him, and I hope he’s learned a few things from me as well.
LLM: How would you pitch search marketing to someone who’s new to online advertising?
SP: Well, first I’d talk about how a potential customer sees ads on Google and how so many people spend their time researching and looking at things online, and how useful it would be [for the person considering PPC] if they could have their company right there at the top of the Google search results page so potential customers can go to their site directly.
I’d also tell them, look, you pay only when someone clicks. You don’t pay when someone just sees your ad, which I think is a big barrier to buy-in because people often think that. And then talking about conversions and analytics would be the next step from there.
SP: One area where I’ve seen a lot of issues is the landing page quality. Even though the ads and keywords are very relevant, if the landing page does not provide a good user experience, it can totally sink the campaign. So if it’s not more important, the landing page is at least equally important to having relevant keywords and highly targeted ad text.
LLM: What’s your favorite thing about doing pay-per-click advertising work?
SP: When I come in in the morning and see conversions in the account, I get super excited. I mean, there are millions and millions of people searching online everyday who type in all these key phrases, but if I come in in the morning and see five new conversions for a client on our campaign, then I know that I could find those five people out of millions who are really interested in buying this product.
LLM: Okay, enough marketing talk. I know you had your son 16 months ago, and he’s your first child. What’s something you wish you had known going into that experience?
SP: That you need a lot of patience. There are no bounds to the amount of patience you need to raise a child, because there are certain things they do ― you’re like, how do you not know to not do this? But you step back and realize, he’s a child, he doesn’t know. So you just need to learn how to relax and not get angry. It comes with experience.
SP: Keep cash, because most small places won’t accept a credit card. Don’t trust everyone you meet, and don’t stay in smaller places just to try and “experience” India. Stay in really safe, well-known hotels. And experiment with the food, because you’ll fall in love with it.
LLM: Indian food is one of my very favorite cuisines. What’s your favorite dish?
SP: My favorite dish is Rasam, which is a broth made with lentils. My mom makes it so well. I make it at least twice a week in my own kitchen just to get the feel of home.
LLM: What’s something most people wouldn’t guess about you if they don’t know you well?
SP: People who don’t know me don’t realize I can be really silly and funny, because I don’t show that side to everyone. And people usually are surprised I’m a big fan of South Park. That is something almost nobody guesses about me.
LLM: That is surprising, only because you’re so well-mannered and South Park is, well… not. Did you watch that show when you still lived in India?
SP: Yeah, I watched it online.
LLM: Do many people in India watch “South Park”?
SP: No, they don’t. But a friend of mine at Google told me about it and I found it to be very funny. But of course, I understand the context and a lot of the jokes a lot better since moving to the United States, so I’ve had to go back and re-watch a lot of them now.
LLM: Okay, let’s do a lightning round. What’s your favorite color?
SP: Red. It’s peppy and bright and it embodies what I want to be.
LLM: What’s a place you’ve always wanted to travel to?
SP: There’s a place called Amritsar in India, and it’s famous for its golden temple. I’ve always wanted to go but never had the chance. Maybe next time I go back I can finally go there.
LLM: What’s your favorite film?
SP: Gosh, I’m just trying to remember the last movie I saw. The only thing I ever watch on TV is these nursery rhyme programs. What’s the one my son watches — “Little Baby Bum.”
LLM: Oh God. I just visited my brother in Denver, and he has an eight-month-old, and that program is on their TV almost 24/7.
SP: It’s so funny — my husband and I, we keep finding ourselves singing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or something, and then we realize what we’re doing, and it’s like, “Oh no — not this again.”