Elite SEM maintains perfect record at U.S. Search Awards

Elite SEM was named the best large agency at Pubcon’s U.S. Search Awards last night, a title the New York search marketing firm has secured all three years.

This year saw a record number of entries, judged in marathon sessions by 30 search professionals from companies including Google, Bing, Lego, and Orbitz. Zach Morrison, president of Elite SEM, thinks part of his agency’s repeated wins could be rooted in generally high approval ratings: 97 percent employee retention and 90 percent client retention, with Employee and Client Net Promoter Scores of 89 and 45, respectively.


“[When Elite SEM was started] we wanted to break the agency status quo and do something unheard of: putting the account managers first,” says Morrison. “Our goal was to treat them like the heroes they are to the agency and to their clients. This win is a testament to the fact that our business model is thriving.”

Morrison leaves Las Vegas today flattered and excited, but he’s not alone in that. “Best large agency” was only one of 22 categories in the awards. RankHammer, a Dallas agency with just two principal officers, was named the best small agency.

Several individuals were recognized as well. Maddie Cary from Point It and 97th Floor’s PJ Howland were named the young search professionals of the year, while Bill Hunt of Back Azimuth Consulting earned the best consultant award, as well as the lifetime achievement award. In addition to being one of Search Engine Watch‘s most popular columnists, Larry Kim, founder and chief technology officer of WordStream, is also the search personality of the year.

“I think it’s great to work in an industry where people are just so willing to help each other out, and give up their best secrets and tips on how to do great marketing work,” says Kim, echoing what Elite SEM’s chief executive (CEO) Ben Kirshner said last year. “You would never see the CEO of Lexus recommending Volkswagen cars, but that’s how this community operates. That’s why I love what I’m doing.”

Other winners include:

  • Best Use of Search, Retail: ZOG Digital, Barefoot Wine’s SEO campaign
  • Best Use of Search, Finance: Catalyst, HSBC’s “Dominating in Deposits”
  • Best Use of Search, Travel and Leisure: Go Fish Digital, Reston Limo’s Luxury SEO campaign
  • Best Local Campaign: Top Spot Internet Marketing, Klein Custom Pools’ local SEO campaign
  • Best Low-Budget Campaign: aimClear, SeagullOutfitters.com’s display PPC campaign
  • Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign: MerkleRKG, JetBlue’s Fair Options
  • Best Use of Social Media in a Search Campaign: aimClear, Airbnb’s “Wall & Chain”
  • Best Integrated Campaign: Location 3 Media, Westwood College’s “How Integrated Digital Campaigns Increased Student Application Volume at a Lower Cost per Application”
  • Best Mobile Campaign: HotelTonight, using deep linking to accelerate growth in mobile search marketing
  • Best PPC Campaign: Point It Digital Marketing
  • Best SEO Campaign: Geary LSE, “Monkey Sports Hits a Homerun”
  • Best Innovation, PPC: cClearly’s paid search targeting platform
  • Best Innovation, SEO: Majestic
  • Best PPC Management Software: Optmyzr, PPC Reports and Tools
  • Best SEO Software: Linkdex
  • Best Search Software Tool: Productsup, Product Data Management & Optimization Platform
  • Best In-House Team: Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, search and auction media team

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