Quality Score, Shark Diving, & “Avinash-Who?” Getting to Know Noran El-Shinnawy

Posted in Interviews, SES Chicago

Noran El-Shinnawy, Director of Marketing at BoostCTR and Associate Instructor of the Master Certification Conversion Optimization course at MarketMotive, is one awesomely outspoken marketer. I first met Noran at last year’s Search Engine Strategies Chicago after her solo presentation on Social Media Metrics, during which she berated all those self-professed “Social Media Experts” (or worse… “Social Media Gurus”… *shudder*) clogging up on the online marketing industry. “All that term means is that you’re unemployed & unemployable,” she quipped. [Author’s note: Truth!]

Noran’s moxie comes backed by some serious smarts that extend well beyond social media best practices. From charting the customer’s PPC journey to understanding buyer voice and intent, to quality score, analytics, and conversion optimization, she’s far from pigeon-holed in this industry. Noran’s set to take the stage at #SESCHI 2011 and speak on Ads in a Quality Score World. Prior to the event, I shared a bite-sized interview with Noran to learn more about the girl who once asked, “What’s ‘an Avinash’?” during a job interview. Read on for the full scoop.

| aimClear: Thanks for your time today, Noran! Tell us a little bit about how your background, how you ended up in the online marketing industry.

| Noran El-Shinnawy: I wish I had one of those “Navy Seal turned PPC Rockstar” stories, but I’m just a little Egyptian girl who moved to Canada at the age of 17 to study marketing. I started working for a web analytics company in Montreal (and I remember asking what “an Avinash” was during my interview) and eventually fell in love with the industry and worked my way up to Director of Marketing at BoostCTR.

| aC: You write for a variety of top-shelf online marketing publications, including Search Engine Watch, Visibility Magazine, SES Magazine and ClickZ. What’s your absolute favorite topic to write about?

| NE: Testing and optimization. It’s such an important aspect of our industry that applies to many different disciplines, but it’s one of those things where everyone agrees on its importance but no one cares enough to make it a big part of their strategy. How many people do you know whose full time jobs are testing and optimizing?

| aC: …I’m at a loss. On a similar note – in the past, you’ve spoken on an array of SES sessions, some defining the social media rockstar, others taking a more technical approach to PPC. Do you have a preference of presenting one over the other?

| NE: I’m a lot less technical and a lot more creative. We have tools and platforms to do all the grunt work for us, but no one has invented anything to replace the human mind and creativity. That’s they type of stuff I like to talk about and encourage people to focus on.

| aC: On the afternoon of Day 2 at SES Chicago, you’ll speak on the Ads in a Quality Score World session. Can readers at home get a glimpse at what your presentation will cover?

| NE: If I tell you, I’d have to kill you. But you can expect to see secret mission envelopes, sketch pads, crayons, contests and, brace yourself, elephant diapers. On the more serious side, I’ll be talking about some factors that make up quality score, why it’s  important and how you can improve it.

| aC: Right on. Thanks for not killing me. Favorite city, cuisine, and adult beverage, GO!

| NE: Darjeeling (small town in the Indian Himalayas), French, Scotch… sometimes I wish a had a moustache, pipe and silk scarf to go along with it.

| aC: How classy! So… according to your SES bio, when you unplug from the Internet, you enjoy diving with sharks in the Red Sea. Please… enlighten us :)

| NE: I grew up in a country with two seas and have always been fascinated by everything under the water. On my first dive, I came face to face with a white tip shark… not the friendliest of the bunch. Yes, I heard the theme song from Jaws over and over in my head and I might have peed my wetsuit a little. But after what seemed like the world’s longest staring contest, I came out of the water with all my limbs intact. I was shocked, curious and mostly fascinated, so I started learning about sharks, how most of them are endangered and horrors of shark fin soup. I’m now a big shark activist and make sure I go shark diving every chance I get.

| aC: Totally inspiring. Thanks for this glimpse into your life, Noran. Safe travels to the Windy City!