Inbound Success Podcast

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What do the most successful inbound marketers do to get great results? Each week, host Kathleen Booth interviews inbound marketers on the front lines with one goal: to “peel back the onion” and learn what works, what doesn’t and what you need to do to really move the needle.

Kathleen Booth


    • Nov 15, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekly NEW EPISODES
    • 43m AVG DURATION
    • 176 EPISODES

    Listeners of Inbound Success Podcast that love the show mention: inbound, kathleen's, real results, success podcast, marketers, learn new, tactical, marketing, strategies, highlights, actionable, great host, asks, style, guests, insights, ideas, business, questions, interviews.



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    Latest episodes from Inbound Success Podcast

    Ep. 221: Using OOH advertising to supercharge inbound results ft. Sam Mallikarjunan

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 47:56

    What do billboards, car wraps, and TVs in bars have to do with inbound marketing? They're all part of the category of “out-of-home” - or OOH - marketing, and an incredibly powerful tool for inbound marketers to use in generating brand awareness and driving inbound interest. On this week's Inbound Success Podcast, Onescreen.ai CEO Sam Mallikarjunan pulls back the curtain on OOH and shares examples of where it fits within the marketing funnel, and how marketers can use it to disrupt their industry.

    Ep. 220: Mastering Google's core web vitals ft. David Finberg of Peaks Digital Marketing

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 43:12

    Want your website to rank at the top of Google's search engine results pages? Start paying attention to core web vitals. In this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Peaks Digital Marketing CEO David Finberg breaks down what Google's core web vitals are, why they matter, and how you can optimize your site for them. From compressing images to using a CDN, he covers all of it, in detail, with actionable information on helpful tools and systems that make it easy to improve your core web vitals.  

    Ep. 219: Winning the modern marketing game with classic storytelling ft. David Fink

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 45:00

    What's the secret behind the success of brands like Dollar Shave Club and Casper Mattress? Postie co-founder and CEO David Fink says its about combining a mission driven brand message with deep authenticity. In this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, David explains why it's so important to develop a strong brand story focused on the organization's mission. Think Simon Sinek's “Start With Why”. But he emphasizes that this needs to come from a place of authenticity, and digs into exactly what he means by “authentic”. This conversation includes plenty of real world examples of brands that are doing it right.

    Ep. 218: Winning at inbound in today's competitive environment ft. Matt Heinz

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 42:16

    Heinz Marketing founder Matt Heinz is well known throughout the B2B marketing world for his work helping businesses to build predictable pipelines. But he's also gained a reputation as a community builder by virtue of his involvement in creating and growing the CMO Coffee Talk group. In this episode of the Inbound Success Podcast, Matt talks about what it takes to win with inbound marketing at a time when it seems like every brand is creating content. From how to create content that stands out and helps build a following and a reputation, to creating communities as a long term marketing investment, Matt shares lessons from his own experience, as well as examples of other brand that are doing it right.

    Ep. 217: Codeless CEO Brad Smith shares how to create great organic content at scale

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 56:33


    When it comes to organic content strategies, Brad Smith really knows his stuff. As the founder of Codeless, he's helped well known SaaS companies like Monday.com, Chargify, and WordStream create high quality, high performing organic content at scale. And as the CEO of Wordable, Brad and his team are making it easier for content creators and managers to transform content drafts into published articles. In this episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Brad breaks down the process his team uses to create content, and digs into all the nerdy details that are important to nail as part of a truly world class organic content strategy.


    Ep. 216: How Rachel Johnson juggles marketing for 6 brands at Threefold

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 56:38

    This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Threefold Chief Marketing Officer Rachel Johnson talks about running marketing for 6 brands at once - with a team of herself and just one other marketer - all while raising three children under the age of 5. If there ever was a real life super woman, Rachel just might be her! As CMO of private equity firm Threefold, Rachel runs an in-house agency responsible for marketing all of Threefold's portfolio companies. Some are franchise businesses, and some are independent, and there are interesting lessons to be learned from all of them. She does all of this while also the mom of three kids under the age of 5, two of whom have special needs. How she does it, I'll never know! Check out the full episode to hear Rachel's story, and learn how she's getting big results for Threefold's portfolio companies. Resources from this episode: Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn Email Rachel at rjohnson@growthreefold.com Visit the Threefold website

    Ep. 215: Building an award-winning ABM campaign ft. Lisa Sharapata

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 41:16

    This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Mindtickle VP of Marketing, Brand and Demand Lisa Sharapata explains how she built an account-based marketing campaign that resulted in her winning the B2B Innovator Award and the B2B Vanguard Award at the 2021 B2B SMX conference. Lisa's approach relies on intent data to identify in-market accounts. She went all in on this after discovering intent data and joined 6Sense to learn more about it. Now, at Mindtickle, she's a 6Sense customer and is using predictive modeling to identify the best fit, high intent prospects and market to them at scale. The result? Conversion rates increased from 9 to 40%. Want to know how she did it? Check out the full episode to hear Lisa's story. Resources from this episode: Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn Check out the Mindtickle website

    Ep. 214: Advanced conversion rate optimization strategies ft. Nick Disabato

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 27, 2021 49:24

    This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Draft founder Nick Disabato breaks down the advanced conversion rate optimization strategies he uses with his ecommerce clients. Nick's results are impressive. He beats the ecommerce industry average CRO results by 4X, typically increases conversion rates by 40%, and average order value by 15%. In this episode, he breaks down exactly how he does it, with specific examples of CRO tests you can conduct on your own website (ecommerce or not—these strategies work just as well in B2B), and shares information on his favorite tools that make up his CRO tech stack. Check out the full episode to hear Nick's insights. Resources from this episode: Visit the Draft website Subscribe to Nick's newsletter

    Ep. 213: Death to the corporate video ft. Guy Bauer of Umault

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 45:37

    This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Umault Founder Guy Bauer shares his approach to creating business videos that people actually love to watch, and that also get results. Guy is the author of the book “Death to the Corporate Video”, and the host of a podcast by the same name, and has made it his mission to put an end to boring corporate videos. In this week's episode, he shares what he calls “the mullet strategy” for making great videos, and breaks down specific do's and don'ts. If you're thinking of using video as part of your business marketing strategy, or already have videos that aren't performing well, this episode is for you. Check out the full episode to hear Guy's insights. Resources from this episode: Visit the Umault website Connect with Guy on LinkedIn Read Death to the Corporate Video Check out the Death to the Corporate Video podcast

    Ep. 212: How Kurt Elster built a successful community and podcast using authenticity

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 13, 2021 38:05

    This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Ethercycle founder Kurt Elster talks about building communities, growing a podcast, and why authenticity is the key to successful marketing. Kurt is the host of The Unofficial Shopify Podcast, widely considered to be “the” podcast for anyone using Shopify as their ecommerce platform. He is also the creator of the Unofficial Shopify Podcast Insiders Facebook group, which is now more than 4,000 members strong, and the founder of well known ecommerce agency Ethercycle. Within the ecommerce world, Kurt has a massive, highly loyal following that relies on him for honest advice about growing an ecommerce business. How did he accomplish that? By fiercely guarding the integrity of his community and preventing spam, and staying true to himself throughout his podcast and marketing. Check out the full episode to hear Kurt's insights. Resources from this episode: Visit the Ethercycle website Check out the Unofficial Shopify Podcast Apply to join the Unofficial Shopify Podcast Insiders Facebook Group

    Ep. 211: Why 'Helpful is the New Viral' According to Derek Weeks of The Linux Foundtion

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2021 40:18

    Sometimes the best way to market a product to people is not to market the product at all. This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Linux Foundation SVP and Chief Marketing Officer Derek Weeks talks about why marketer's should embrace the notion that "helpful is the new viral." As the new head of marketing at The Linux Foundation, Derek is doing just that by focusing on building a marketing strategy designed to help the organization's audience accomplish its goals. And in doing so, he's creating a future-proof approach to driving top of funnel demand. Check out the full episode to hear Derek's thinking and learn how he's implementing it at The Linux Foundation.

    Ep. 210: How Bigtincan uses intent data to drive pipeline ft. Rusty Bishop

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2021 38:19


    How does the marketing team at Bigtincan use intent data to influence and close deals? This week on the Inbound Success podcast, Bigtincan CMO Rusty Bishop breaks down the mechanics behind the company's account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns, including the tech stack they're using, and the nitty gritty details behind their intent data. Rusty says most companies look to intent platforms to solve their ABM challenges, but wind up spending a lot of money for poor results. In this episode, he gets into detail on the advanced keyword strategies Bigtincan is using to build an intent data set that they can then use to target in-market buyers. The results have been impressive. For every dollar Rusty's team spends on display, they influence more than $107,000 in pipeline, and more than $27,000 in closed won deals. Check out the full episode to learn how they do it. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the Bigtincan website Connect with Rusty on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:02): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I am your host, Kathleen Booth. And today my guest is Rusty Bishop, who is the CMO of Bigtincan. Welcome to the podcast, Rusty. I am dying to know the story behind the company name. So let's start with having you make a quick introduction of yourself because I also, I'm going to scoop you a little bit and just say for my guests who are listening, this is going to be fascinating because Rusty has the software company, but he has been a biochemist. He's a guitar player. He's got a fascinating background. So stay tuned to hear about it. Rusty, tell us more about yourself and then also what Bigtincan is and how it got that name. Rusty (01:01): You got it. So my background, so yeah, after undergrad, I did get a PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics studying infectious disease research for a big part of my research came out here to Southern California, to the university of California, San Diego, to do post-doctoral research and ended up being on the faculty and staff here in San Diego for about 12 years. So I did about 15 years of biomedical research in my past life. I am no longer consider myself a scientist, although I think it does probably color everything I do for certain. After that I did, I started a company with a guy named Mark Walker, who is the head of sales at a company called Invitrogen which went on to become Thermo Fisher, one of the largest life sciences companies in the world. And then we started a company based on the idea that when, when I was in the lab, when I was a researcher salespeople would come into our lab. Rusty (01:55): And that was back in the days where you could actually walk in the labs. You can't do that in more, they're all locked down, but they could literally just walk in and they'd be like, Hey, I'm from this company and I want to sell you some stuff. And they would literally break out a paper catalog and try to sell us stuff. And I, you know, at that point iPad was coming out, iPhone was coming out and we just thought, there's gotta be a better way. Mark and I created a company called FatStax which was geared and focused towards sellers, mostly in the life sciences space, those people who were coming to me and as a scientist and trying to sell me things that, that went very well. We had a great exit to Bigtincan in 2018, and I've been there ever since. And I became the CMO less than a week and a half ago. Rusty (02:41): I worked under our previous CMO who is still here as the president of the company and kind of fought my way up to being the CMO. So marketing is relatively new for me. All of that, totally new. I've been doing it for years as a founder. And of course, you know, here at Bigtincan running marketing for about two years. Kathleen (02:58): Love it. Rusty (02:59): Yeah. Lots of weird science stuff in my background. And as you did note, I was a professional musician for about two years before all of that. So it's been a wild ride I'm multitalented guy. I like that. I like to do lots of things. Kathleen (03:14): So tell me how the company got its name. Rusty (05:24): Great question. Everyone asks that. So it reminds me that that's actually a pretty memorable name. So the company was found in Australia. And the original concept behind the company was, was when iPad applications were something that people actually wanted. So that the idea was that I'd take all of your content and put it into an iPad application and the original founders, David King, who's our current CEO always talked about how people have this thing where they're communicate through string cans and how that you lose the communication. So they had the idea that if you put everything into the big team can, then you could communicate effectively across your company. So that was the original origin story. Now, of course, that was in Australia with two guys standing and above a coffee shop in Sydney. So what the real name is, I really don't know. So we'll, we'll leave it at that for now. That's how I got his name. And it's been his name for ever since then, publicly traded on the Australian stock exchange. If you want to go learn more about us as a company, there's everything you could ever want to know is right there. I love Kathleen (06:21): That story. And I definitely, when I was little, definitely connected to tin cans with a string and tried to talk through it, it was a terrible communication method. I will say it doesn't work. It's sort of like a myth, right? Like whoever did that successfully, I don't know. Right. So switching, switching gears, you you've, you know, I love that you bring this sort of brain of a scientist to the way you're doing marketing and you and I talked a little bit before we did the interview about some of the things you're working on. And I was really fascinated hearing you talk about what you guys are doing with intent data and how you're taking this very scientific approach to figuring out, you know, what, what you're going to search for within your intent data platforms to turn up results that are actually going to be meaningful. So let's back up and start with tell me what you're using intent data for in the first place. Rusty (07:18): Okay. Yeah. Good question. So I'll start with one thing which I want to clarify. I'm sure that everyone that listens to your podcast knows this already, but intent software is not ABM. Everyone seems to get that a little backwards here, especially in our company. They're like, yeah, we're just doing ABM and no, you're not. You're using an ad platform to detect intent out there in the world. So, so what do we, what do we use it for? So we are attempting to detect in market accounts at various stages, we have three different product lines that we can either sell together here on Bigtincan, or we can sell them separately. We also go to market in various verticals and the reason we needed an intent tool was because the amount of keywords that someone could enter into Google to find what we do or to solve their problems more accurately was astronomical. So the chances of us, you know, properly making our website SEO for all those keywords was approaching zero. And so in order to detect all those accounts out there in market, we we do 6Sense and we chose 6Sense. I don't know if that matters, not to the users. I think they all do very similar things. So our methodology from day one was can we detect virtually every account in market using this type of software and is in combination with other things like G2 and other intent data. Kathleen (08:45): So just out of curiosity, you mentioned you chose 6Sense. Why that platform over any other ones? Rusty (08:53): You know, it's funny, I had a feeling you were going to ask me that and I tried to go back and look, and that's a year and remember why we chose 6Sense. I think at the end of the day, it was the combination of ease of use for us as well as the second part of 6Sense, which is the ability to do predictive. And that is, you know, once we know and we detected these accounts are in market and they're searching for certain things, and they're also making certain choices with you guys, Bigtincan, there might be opening emails or 15 people that account are doing certain actions. We can now begin to predict how well those accounts are going to move through the funnel and if they are going to close and should we be working them or not? Rusty (09:32): We're about a year into building our predictive model. I will not say it's a quick process, but it's something I really wanted to get to core science brain. You know, how can we build something that would predict whether we should work these accounts or not, and you know, where we should put more activities from a marketing side. And so that was the ultimate reason we chose 6 cents. You know, in hindsight, I don't know if there's any real reason to choose one over the other, they all except for go and listen to, and really think about what it is that your company needs to achieve with these platforms. That's the key. All the sales people are really good by the way. Oh my gosh. Like, and that space, it must be really intense because the salespeople are all excellent and they will show you stuff that will blow your mind. And you'll absolutely think that this is the greatest thing ever. And you're going to look like a rockstar when you get demo these platforms. And to me, that's sort of like, it triggers one of my middle models, which when I start thinking software is going to make me look like a rockstar, I should probably stop and back up and realize it's not true. Kathleen (10:32): Yeah. The tool is almost never the solution. Exactly. Yeah. So, so you're, you're using a platform to collect intent data, to look for in market accounts. And then before we dive into exactly how you're setting your platform up, I just want to talk through, like, once you get that data back and it flags these accounts, how are you, how are you adding that into your marketing workflow? Speaker 3 (10:57): The Rusty (10:57): Variety of different weights. It depends on where we detect them in the, in the funnel. You know, if we detect them high in the funnel, like they're just coming into awareness that they have a problem. We're mostly just doing marketing. We're mostly doing, you know, ads, LinkedIn ads and those types of things. If we're detecting them far down the funnel based on our predictive model and what they're searching for, I mean, we're going to be doing seriously active outreach. We might have salespeople going after them. We'll be using things like Alice to send them gifts, to make, have them have a conversation with us. We're reaching out to our partners. We partnered with apple, which is a great go to market model for us and seeing if they're working with them. So it really just depends on where they are in the funnel when we, you know, realize that, you know, sometimes they come into funnel really fast. You'll just see a flurry of activity. And so we can, you know, we have a person, I have a person on that team, Tyler who full time monitors, what's going on in six sense. And then, you know, we do a lot of things automated, but some of it's still manual like, oh my gosh, these guys are hot, get, get, break the process and let's go. Right. So it really just depends on where we detect them. Kathleen (12:00): Nice. All right. So, so let's dig into it. So you've got, you make the decision to get one, get an intent platform and, and you're right. I do think there is a tendency for marketers to look at these platforms and think that they're going to be some sort of a magic bullet. Like I'm going to put it in, I'm going to login my account and the leads are gonna rain down on me. Right. so from, based on my conversations with you, I understand that that is not the case. So walk me through the process that you use to figure out how to get the right data out. Yeah, Rusty (12:34): No problem. So the first thing I'll point out is that, so when you demo these platforms, the most of the time, they're going to ask you for a keyword list so that they can show you what your data looks like in their platform. And this it's really powerful, actually the way that I would demo it the same way now. So there's a mistake there that it will, I will caution all, anybody who's listening on, which is this, your keywords from your website is probably what you're going to give them. Right? You have all of us have like a data dump of SEO keywords we're going after. You're already ranking for a lot of those terms. You already detecting a lot of people that are searching for those terms. So you're not going to find people far off in the market or far down in market. Rusty (13:10): You're not going to be able to segment a buyer, a group of buyers with your SEO keyless. But that is when you typically turn these things on, it's already in there for you. And so you think right out of the gate, wow, we're already doing great. We're detecting all of these companies all these types of things. So, you know, for us, it took us maybe like two or three months before we realized this is not showing us in mark. It's showing us some in-market accounts, but it was nowhere near the universe. So my first recommendation is figure out a way to get a baseline. So, you know, but coming from my science background, you always need something that is, you know, zero, you need something that, am I going to get an improvement, or am I going to get a negative out of this? Rusty (13:49): Right. And that's the way that baseline is. I don't know what baseline might be for your listeners scaffolding. Right? So for us, we get something like G2 where you say, okay, G2, tell us how many people you think are in market. Right? And we might go to Forrester or to another analyst and say, how many, what is the total Tam of, for our market? And then we kind of do some back of the hand envelope kind of math and say, well, we think this many companies should be in market today. Now, if you're a giant company that could be, you know, a hundred of thousands of buyers, if you're very focused company, that might be only 150, 200 people. So knowing a baseline to me is critical because the is going to spit out numbers a hundred percent a good rule of thumb. I like to think about this. If your Tam is a billion dollars over the next five years, right. I seriously doubt $200 million worth as in market. Yeah. Unless Kathleen (14:40): There's a ton of churn for every solution out there. Rusty (14:42): Yeah. This is like massive. Like there's always outliers, but like, so just, you know, do some, some real back of the envelope, like, you know, smell, test kind of thing, where you say is this, like, could this many people possibly be out there trying to buy what we sell? So that helps first. And then the next phase, I would say segmentation. So for us, we took the very simple segmentation, which was, you know, on the top level, the buying stages for us that's awareness, which we defined as aware they have a problem. Okay. The second one is consideration, which means they're figuring out they have a problem. And the thinking that what we sell might be one of the things they could solve it with. The next one is decision pretty obvious, right? They've already decided this thing can solve my problem. You know, now I'm looking at the various offerings that are out there and of course the last one is purchased. Rusty (15:28): So for each one of those what we did is we built a spreadsheet and that's when she had a list of modifiers and then a list of keywords. So let me unpack that for you first, give me some examples and understand what you mean. Here's an example. So I I don't give anything away. I love Peloton. I'm all about it. I ride every day. I could be their marketer tomorrow, if you're hiring, let me know. But so let's just use like a Peloton as an example. Right. So if I'm coming into awareness, okay. I might be searching for things like exercise programs. I might be searching for gyms near me. I might be searching for home gyms. Right. So I might not be actually searching for Peloton. Right. And so the things that I would add as modifiers there, especially for companies that generally sell things that people were trying to solve a problem, or have a pain they'll be searching for modifiers, like solve, troubleshoot, decrease, increase you know, and you build a full list of those modifiers. Okay. So with them, you're going to have all of your, you know, your actual terms that someone could be solving the pain for. So let's say the pain is right. Like I'm, I need to exercise more. Right. So like increase my exercise. You could, and now you just cross reference those two lists into your total list for your world of awareness. Kathleen (16:45): Yeah. That's interesting. So it sounds like if I understand you correctly, it sounds like when you first start out, you're probably going to want to upload all of what I would term your highest intent keywords. And those are the ones that are going to create the greatest amount of overlap with the prospects you already have in your database. Speaker 3 (17:09): Okay. Good. Accurate. Okay. So then Kathleen (17:13): It's the modifiers or another words like making the search strings a little bit more long tail that produce the best results. Do you do any research behind like search volume or anything like that when you do that? Or is it really just intuitive? Rusty (17:28): So we took a different tack. So we, we tried to do some search volume research long tail, just doesn't it just doesn't register enough in SCM rush or a Google analytics or any other things that are out there. So we were trying to, as I told you, our goal was to detect as many in-market accounts as possible. It was not to detect the companies that are hottest today. Right. So, you know, therefore what we decided to do, which could be completely different for you or for anyone else who's doing. This is effectively, you know, we want to increase the world so that we cash long tail, right. In LA by long tail. We mean that one person out there who's searching for that one thing, which we solve for. But when you have lots of different offerings, like Bigtincan has, there's a lot of things that we solve for, right. Rusty (18:11): So there's probably a hundred different pain points that we can go in and work with on a customer. So the modifiers give you, if you could imagine, you have to put yourself in your buyer's shoes, I'm sitting down at my computer, I'm going to put something in the magic, Google search bar. I have no idea what I'm looking for, but I know that I want to get more exercise. Right. And somehow I've got to get from getting more exercise to Peloton Peloton marketer. Right. So then in each, so that's that's where the modifier thing, this gives you the world of possible, right? Cause you're going to be running this platform me around just because someone's not searching for it today. Doesn't mean they won't search for it tomorrow or the next day or the next day. So Kathleen (18:49): You put, so you put your keywords in then with the modifiers and then what it comes Rusty (18:56): A segment. Right. So we might have an awareness segment. Okay. Let's just take that one, for example. And then, which has a giant list of keywords and their modifiers. So we're trying to find people that are searched. So when someone let's say they're searching for, you know, increase daily exercise, I'll go back to the Peloton example. Immediately we know if we get information from them down the line, they come to our website, et cetera, they were searching for that originally. So their original pain was that. So that gives us the basis for all of that. But then that becomes a segment, right? So then the next step is the further, make it take your segments out. So you might have verticals, you might have geographies, you might have. Well, however it is that you go to market. So now I might have a segment that say, you know, people in, you know, California that are looking to increase their daily exercise. So you just keep taking your segments out further and further until your segments make sense for the way that your team goes to market. Speaker 3 (19:54): Interesting. Yeah. And, Kathleen (19:56): And how did that manifest in terms of the flow of leads coming into your go to market strategy? How long did it take also? Oh, that's a great question. That's, that's a very deep, that's a multi-part question, tackle it in whatever order makes sense. How about that? Rusty (20:14): How long did it take? So you will literally begin to detect things almost instantaneously. Right. But especially if you have a broad enough net, okay. Now what will scare you, right. Is when one of the, some of the things that happened immediately, once we did this, right, was we had salespeople having the mind blown moment, which is like, oh my God, my biggest account is about to buy our competitor. You know, if we went in, because we of course put all those types of terms in there. Right. So our biggest competitor plus pricing. And so that is instant. Like you can, you will literally get instant data, right. So if people are searching for it and how do you, that's, Kathleen (20:51): That's super interesting. So how do you tackle that? Rusty (20:54): It's by priority, right? So if, I think, I think we all know if someone is already in purchase phase, you're probably not going to knock them off your competitor. Right. if someone is, you know, up and maybe just coming into decision, or they're just into consideration phase, then it's, you know, you, you prioritize those over the other ones for outreach, everything else you tackle with marketing, with ads or emails and those types of things. So as, Kathleen (21:18): As the head of marketing, when you have these different leads and some of them are very top of the funnel, as you pointed out their awareness stage, some are more middle and bottom of the funnel, how you parse it, like, are you parsing them all to your sales team? Or are you putting some of them into marketing nurturing? Like, how are you tackling that? Okay. So Rusty (21:38): Two things here. So w you do not, you do not detect leads, you detect accounts really important. I thought, I thought this too. I thought I was going to get a ton of leads. You do get a ton of leads, but you got to know how to go look for them, right. So you gotta build a step. And we actually built this up. So when when account reaches a certain threshold for us, you know, on our predictability scale they immediately go out to a third party that we've hired. That's, LeadGenius probably shouldn't give that away, but whatever. And then they go and pull the names of the leads based on criteria that we give them an advance that comes back into Salesforce, and then we start our outreach. So that's the way we get an actual lead from it. And back up there, I forgot the first part of your question. I apologize, Kathleen (22:23): Really a long, how are you parsing it out to your sales team or are you putting them into marketing, nurturing flows? Exactly. So Rusty (22:30): Parsing out to the sales team is when they come down into the later phases, like bottom, bottom end of our predicting their consideration or decision phase, those would actually so we actually took 6 cents to the next level and bought the piece that goes into Salesforce so that our sellers have access at the account level and they have a 6Sense dashboard so that they can choose accounts to go after and we actually encourage them to do so. Our SDRs also have been trained on how to, you know, when they run out of inbound, which is very rare, but when they run up inbound to go and look for, you know, in market accounts to go out and do outcome for so very everything at the top end, we're using display ads through 6Sense or through other platforms to, again, try to, to move them down. The funnel is a way that I would look at it, right. So how do we engage these people that we've detected, who've hit the awareness phase and give them things that they might be interested in so that they come down into consideration and begin to see Bigtincan as a, as a viable solution for their problems. Kathleen (23:35): And what specifically needs to happen for somebody to cross the line from, or somebody, some company to cross the line from an account that is in your ad, nurturing to an account that you think is really ready for sales outreach. Like what indicators are you looking at? Rusty (23:52): I'm looking for multiple people, which you can detect in these platforms by IP address across the organization, searching for the right types of terms. That could be into very, you know, let's say there's multiple in consideration, there's several in decision. You know, that are hitting our search terms that we've specified you know, visiting our website is using indicator that they have at least figured out that we have something that could solve their problem. So the trigger generally, it, it I'm being vague because it's all set in our predictive model and it immediately notifies us when someone has tripped a certain number of the triggers that we've given it to say, all right, you know, there's X number of people at this company doing this there, you know, three people have come to the website, they've gone past the homepage. You know, one of them hit the pricing page at that point. You know, if someone hasn't reached out, I'm probably getting upset. Yeah. Kathleen (24:44): So tell me about results. Like, we talked a little bit about how this isn't a really super fast thing to get stood up. You've been, and you've been setting this up for how long and, and using it for how long? Rusty (24:56): It's a great question. So I'd say we did not use it properly for about a year, which is why, hopefully this is helpful to people so that getting this right out of the gate could save you a lot of time. But once I, once I feel like we had a good up and running, we probably had a completely running inside of Salesforce, entire system. Like we want it since January. Okay. Let's call it eight months, seven, eight months at this point right now as, as a simple measure, right? So for the first time ever, we're, we've detected more in market accounts, then G2 tells us are in account in market. So that was, that was a signal that I wanted to get to. So I wanted to say, all right, if people are going to G2 and things like that, right. I realize that you have marketers may not use YouTube. Rusty (25:44): It's the review side for software, if you don't. So the people that go there are looking for specific things, right? I realized that once we went over that, that we hit a threshold of in-market, that was, was bigger than what we could get from other sources. So then we look at like results. So right now for about every dollar that we spend on display we're influencing $107,000 of pipeline. Wow. In our upper part. And for every dollar we display, we're closing one about 27,000. Wait, say that last part again, we're closing one close won. For every dollar we spend on display 27,000. 27,000 influenced by our platform. Kathleen (26:34): For every dollar you spend on display, you are- Rusty (26:39): Influencing a $107,000 of pipeline, and we're influencing $27,000 closed won over the last six months, per month. Kathleen (26:49): Got it. Got it. Sorry. It took a minute there. Wow. That's great. That's great. Rusty (26:55): Those are, you know, that's our average right now. So for me, I, I gotta be really happy with that. Kathleen (27:02): Has it reduced the amount of outbound prospecting that you needed to do? Rusty (27:09): Not at all. In fact it increases your outbound. Kathleen (27:13): Just because you have a larger kind of target list to work? Rusty (27:17): Yeah. You have a larger target list. The level of complexity that adds is you also have to train your outreach teams where their SDRs are salespeople to how to do outreach by looking at what people are searching for. So it, it does add a level of complexity, but what I like about it is one of the things that truly hate is when people try to personalize things for me and they just go out and say like, Hey man, you play guitar. That's cool. Like you want to buy our stuff? And that's not cool. Rusty (27:48): That's not good outreach. Right. What good outreach is, you know, I've noticed that people at your company are searching for these types of things. These types of problems generally indicate this, you know, would you be interested in talking about a possible solution? That's good outreach, right? So training your teams, how to do good outreach is harder. But so does it, you asked me, did it decrease the amount of outbound, the answers? No. it, it effectively increases it. Right? Cause you're detecting more accounts than market. Kathleen (28:16): What impact did it have on inbound pipeline? Rusty (28:19): That's a good, I don't know. I don't know the answer. Kathleen (28:22): I mean, I would think it would increase it because if you're targeting ads at those people and at least presumably it would, it would result in more inbounds. Rusty (28:30): Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don't have that. I don't have that on my dashboard. I'm looking at currently, but I will definitely go look at it. Cause it does make sense that logically if, you know, you were, they were getting, becoming engaged with your brand, that they would eventually comment and be an inbound in some way. Yeah. Kathleen (28:46): So if somebody is starting down this path now, like let's say they purchase an intent platform, kind of like you did. What would be your top three pieces of advice for somebody who's starting today? Rusty (29:01): Top three. Wow. That's a good question. I love it. I think the first one is make sure that your customer facing teams know what to do with the intent data. And that means you, you probably actually need to go and build actual messaging for them. Rusty (29:25): Because they it's, we as marketers know, I think we sort of, if you're running a campaign or you're doing detection and you're developing these keywords lists, you kind of intuitively know what, how people should be out doing outreach, but your customer facing teams don't so that's, that was a big one, right? Because they'll go, yeah, they're in market and they'll just reach out with, Hey, do you want to buy herself? You've ruined your chance. Right. You blew it. So I think that's probably number one. Number two is what we talked about with the whole segmentation stuff is don't failing to take into account the long tail is probably one of the bigger mistakes that I think that you could make. Now, look, if you're one of these companies or just as magic product product that you can sell it, you can go to tech then 10 and go to town. Rusty (30:09): Right. But if you're not, if you're a person out there working for a company that solves problems for people that they don't necessarily know that your solution can solve it, then that long tail is really going to help you. Yeah. Final piece, not refining regularly. I mean, you have to constantly refine. I'll give you an example of that. So when we first turned it on our platform on pre COVID one of our SEO terms was remote learning. So as you can imagine, that's sitting there in our 6sense platform, right. So what happened with COVID? Do you know how many people search for remote learning and how can we distinguish that from someone who was looking for learning software, right. A much better modifier you know, sales, learning software, and even much better modifier. Right. Then everyone who was sitting there trying to figure it out at work, how I'm going to train the kids, get them in school. Right. So you'll, you'll get these without we're finding constantly you, you run to a ton of false positives and the false positives are really bad. Right? Cause they'll make you reach out to people who are in market. And you know, I don't, I don't see any reason to blind, like email people. It's not something I do or we do. I guess it works for some people, but it doesn't work for me. Kathleen (31:22): So how often are you refining? Oh, we never stop. We take a look at it weekly, monthly. Rusty (31:29): I mean, we have a person who's about half of his job is to run that platform and to do account based marketing on top of it. Right. Not just run the platform, but so the reason I say that is we go to market vertically and the words that various verticals use to describe things are dramatically different. And our sales people will hear those words right. On a demo or on a sales call. And they might come back and say, Hey, you know, so-and-so was talking about this thing called e-detailing. And I'm like, I don't even know what that is. Well, it's the same thing as what we're doing right now, except for it's what happens when a salesperson talks to a doctor. Right. But then there might be another 50 terms that are associated with e-detailing, for example, that you also need to add that, or you're going to hear about and you know, analysts are changing the way they talk about things all the time, easy solution right there. The way that your competitors, right? What are they writing in their books? What are they saying? All of a sudden they change their messaging. I mean, you gotta be constantly refining it. I mean, I'd love to say we have a process where every week we're refining. Rusty (32:33): One of our mantras around here is if you see something, say something and people are very good about it because we're all remote, like everybody else. And just, yeah. And you got to yeah, basically. Yeah. These days yeah, yeah. Bigtincan's all over the world and everyone's mostly remote. So slack is a great tool and training your people, right? If you see something, say something and that refines your keyword list and these tools. So you said for three, you know. Kathleen (33:03): You got me three, I love it. And I put you on the spot with that one. Rusty (33:07): One more, which I'll go for it. The fourth one which is don't just blindly measure intent around your competitors. You will get really freaked out, like really fast. What do you mean by that? So let's say you just, you just entered a competitor's name as one of your search terms, which you're going to do. Like, I promise you if you installed DemandBase or 6Sense, that's the first thing you would put in there, like how many people are searching for my competitor. But you have to realize that when people enter your competitor's name in the search bar, like 80% of those are their users are there. People who've already bought their stuff. So you got to get just blindly getting freaked out about competitors. Names and intent is, is not good business practice. But once you use your modifiers, now you can start to get, now you start breaking those competitors down. Right. And figuring out what people are actually doing. Right? Kathleen (33:54): Yeah. I could definitely see where people would start to get spun up by that. Rusty (33:57): Or for the fourth one. But that one actually, that's a good one. Kathleen (34:03): All right. So we're going to switch gears and there's two questions. I always ask my guests. So I'd love to hear your answers. The first being, of course, this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or an individual that you think is really studying the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days? Rusty (34:19): Wow. You know, I knew you were going to ask me this question and I went and listened to some of your podcasts and I thought about it. So I want to give you somebody that's unusual that you might not have gotten. So one of my favorite people in the world is Tim Ferris, Tim gets so many inbound requests that he has an automatic responder that denies them all okay. On everything he publishes. He says, don't contact me because I won't contact you back. So if you had to set a gold standard for inbound, I think that's probably it, you know? So what does that let's unpack that, right. So what I'm not saying is you got to be famous to be a great inbound marketer. What I'm saying is you've got to create something that's so valuable that you had so much inbound that you're fighting it away. I think that's that to me is kind of an interesting bar to set. Now, the other side of that bar is like, that's Kathleen (35:11): Such a, it's a very high bar to hit though. Rusty (35:15): It is. But I think that we all get caught up into, I need to create this stuff so that people will click on it and download it. And it's not valuable. At Bigtincan we talk about valuable buying experiences every day? It's one of our reasons to be it's written on everything we do. We tell everyone about it. And I don't think it's very viable to send, you know, email. One, have you heard of this email. Two didn't you respond email. Three let's break up. You know, so I set the standard up there. Like we should be creating content that's so valuable that people are breaking down the door to get it now, are we doing it yet? No, but we're sure going to track. So that comes example, that example I've been studying a lot lately is Qualtrics. And the reason I've been studying them is I think that their Play Bigger move. I'll put that in air quotes to move from surveys to XM as a category is fascinating. And the way that they became a category and did inbound around that, it was just amazing. If you ever get a chance to read their 10K that they put out when they went public, it's just absolute messaging clinic. It really is there anything to read their 10K, but it is a message clinic. I mean, it's just awesome. Kathleen (36:24): Now I'm super curious. I got to go hunt that down. Rusty (36:26): Yeah. So a couple of unusual things. There's so many people doing great inbound. I mean, you interview them every day. So I think those are two unusual ones. Kathleen (36:39): Yeah. Those are some good ones. And I'm dying now to read the Qualtrics 10K. You've piqued my interest with that one. Rusty (36:45): Well, when you make a decision to be a category, you gotta, man, you gotta do it. Kathleen (36:52): A lot of people give big lip service to it and very few are able to really make it happen. So those are always interesting case studies to look at. Second question is, you know, marketers tend to tell me that their biggest challenge is just staying on top of everything. That's changing all the time in the world of marketing, particularly with digital. So are there particular sources that you rely on to keep yourself educated on the cutting edge, et cetera? Rusty (37:18): Yeah. I am not a cutting edge guy. I don't know about that. Just in time person, which means, you know and I don't mean that in a way to like give you a flippant answer, but like, you know, if we need to figure out why our segments aren't working in 6Sense, right. I'll go and search like crazy and find the blog on their website, which talks about that as opposed to staying on top of the most modern stuff. I mean that being that, so my mental mode is more to read books. And I read absolutely voraciously, take notes. My, I tell my wife all the time, if I died, just sell the Evernote, it's going to be, it's worth more than we are. But so, but there's like a couple of things that constantly refer back to so one, four hour workweek by Tim Ferriss. Rusty (38:04): I'll just say it again. I love him to death. I think it's the way it should work. I love Designing Brand Identity by Lena Wheeler. I go back to it. I feel like every day when we're doing brand here at Bigtincan. Monetizing Innovation. I get asked about pricing all the time and segmentation of products. That book is the Bible. I probably have, I feel like a broken my Kindle reader, trying to go back and forth to it back in time. And the last one is On Writing Well by William Zinter. Probably my most favorite book on how to write. My team all the time, writing things and creating content. And they're always saying, how do I get better? And I say, this is the Bible effectively. So those four books I realized that's not how to stay on top of modern marketing. Kathleen (38:44): No, that's a great answer. And I love, yeah, I love there were some books in there I've never heard of. And I too, I'm a big book reader, as you can see, I'm sure if you're listening, you can't see this, but I, I always, in my interviews, I'm always sitting in front of my bookshelf that has all the books that I love in it. And they're actually stacked two deep in the shelves that have books. Cause I don't have room for them all. So yeah, no, I love books. And thank you for being specific and mentioning titles and authors. That's great. Yeah. All right. Well, if somebody is listening and they want to reach out and ask you a question or learn more about what you talked about, what is the best way for them to connect with you online? Rusty (39:22): The best way is through Linkedin. It's, it's Rusty Bishop, I'm on LinkedIn. It's pretty obvious who I am. I do react to LinkedIn probably better than anything else. That like most CMOs, I probably get a thousand emails a day. I, I may or may not respond, but yeah, LinkedIn is great. That's the best way. Kathleen (39:39): Fantastic. And if you're listening and you liked this episode, I would love it. If you would head to apple podcasts and leave the podcast a review, and if you know somebody else, who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork because I'd love to make them my next guest. Thank you so much for joining me Rusty. Rusty (39:56): Thank you. I enjoyed it. I did too. Thanks.  


    Ep. 209: Grow sales by 20%+ with a customer referral program ft. Raul Galera

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 23, 2021 39:44

    How do top e-commerce companies leverage customer referrals to increase sales by 20% or more? This week on the Inbound Success podcast, ReferralCandy Chief Advocate Raul Galera breaks down the best practices behind top performing customer referral programs. From when to launch a program, to how to ask for referrals, and how to reward customers who make them, Raul gets into the details that you'll need to design, build, launch and execute your own successful referral program. And he includes specific examples of companies that are doing it right now. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the ReferralCandy website Email Raul at raulg@referralcandy.com  Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I am your host, Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is Raul Galera who is the chief advocate for ReferralCandy. Welcome to the podcast Raul. Raul (00:27): Thanks for having me. Kathleen (00:28): Yeah, this is a great topic. Selfishly, I'm working on developing a customer referral program right now for my business. And so I am excited to pick your brain and I'm sure there are others listening as well, who want to learn about this before we dig into it. Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your story and how you came to be doing what you're doing now with ReferralCandy and then also what ReferralCandy is? Raul (00:51): Yeah, absolutely. So actually the reason why I found ReferallCandy, it's kind of related to, to remote work which is a pretty kind of hot topic these days. So just to give you like the short version. So after I finished college, I started working remotely for a consulting firm from Spain, that consulting firm was based in, in Poland, which is where I had studied abroad a few years before that. And after working remotely for a few years, I wanted to work from an office and I also wanted to, to move abroad. So I moved from Spain to Chile and I worked for a startup company in, in San Diego for a couple of years. And then after that, I, I made a couple of decisions. The first one was that I wanted to work for a software company. Raul (01:37): I wanted to sell software. It was something I wanted to learn about. And I also wanted to work remotely again. So after my, my office experience, I had decided that yeah, remote work was a better, better fit for me. And it's like I was looking for a remote sales jobs and, and I, I came across ReferralCandy on Angel List. I think it was they had a kind of like a remote friendly sales position. And so instead of applying directly through Angel List, I decided to email the CEO directly and tell him why I thought it was a, I was a good fit for, for the company. And he replied to the email, we had a couple of interviews and I guess the rest is history. Kathleen (02:18): I love that story. I love that you reached out directly to him. I just think so few people do that. Everybody is kind of used to like hitting the submit button on LinkedIn or whatever. And it definitely makes a difference too, to go that extra mile. And I feel like the rest of the world is now starting to catch up with you with these remote positions. I, I also have worked remotely for some time and love it. But that's been interesting to me to see what COVID has done in terms of the perceptions of workplaces and, and, and people who run companies and, and their appetite for allowing remote work. It seems like it's really grown, which is I think a very good thing. Raul (02:54): Yeah. I mean, I remember a few years ago I had to I mean, I've felt kind of weird explaining that I was working from my living room or my home office instead of from an office. And I would always get these like, weird looks about it, but where, where were you based? And where's the company based and, you know, like you're working from an office, you know, that's yeah, I'm kind of happy that that's how it could have more natural these days and worlds. Kathleen (03:16): Yeah. There was a time when you had to hide the fact that you were at home and I would be really embarrassed if my dogs barked, which you might hear my dogs bark in this interview because I am still at home and I have two dogs and they bark, but no, it is, it is a good thing for all of us. So, so talk a little bit about ReferralCandy. What is, what, what is that? Raul (03:35): ReferralCandy is an app that allows e-commerce brands to set up and run customer referral programs. So we, as a company we started working in, in 2010. I joined the company in 2016 and from, from day one with I mean, we've, we've pretty much grown alongside the e-commerce world. We were one of the first referral marketing partners for, for Shopify. And so we kind of like experienced growth as a company alongside all these like big, you know e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Big Commerce, WooCommerce, Magento, et cetera. And so basically what we do is that we allow brands to run these referral programs on autopilot in the way that we do this is by inviting customers to automatically join the, the referral program, the referral program, by giving them a unique referral link. Raul (04:25): They can share these referral links with their friends on social media, on texts or whatever it is. The friend clicks on the link. And then from that moment on whenever they finish the purchase we're able to track the whole referral process from the moment that they clicked on the link until they completed the purchase. And we send the rewards to the customer that made the recommendation in the first place. So it's all so automated whether it's a coupon payout or, or an actual cash payout, we automate the reward process on our end. So the merchants don't really have to worry about that. Kathleen (04:58): So customer referral programs, let's talk about this because I do feel like, you know, you guys are doing it particularly for e-commerce, it sounds like, but I would imagine that there are certain fundamental elements of customer full programs that apply to all companies. And so I guess I feel like everybody out there knows that customer referrals are a great way to get new business. Right? You have your, your happiest customers kind of talking about you, almost selling, selling for you, but I think the stumbling block that everybody runs into is how to ask for the referral. And, and so maybe you could address that, like who to ask and how to ask and when to ask Raul (05:41): Those are all really good questions. I would say so, and I honestly, I have different answers or like I have different sets of answers for each one of them based on what I've seen. I don't think there's like one particular like rule of thumb that works for all businesses. They're all pretty different and the way their customers interact with, with these brands kind like make those interactions a little bit different in terms of when to ask and how to ask the, the main thing that in terms of how to ask I would say that there's, there's two main strategies on this. One of them is to kind of put the emphasis on what you as a customer are are going to get for every friend that you, that you were first. Raul (06:30): So kind of like putting the emphasis on, you know, refer a friend and you will get $10 in cash or refer a friend and you will get a $10 coupon on your next purchase. On the the other side, it's to put more emphasis on what you can give to your friends. So we've seen referral programs that have worked really well because they've been able to kind of tell customers, look, you're going to look really good in front of your friends, because they're going to be able to give them this really special coupon or this really special offer and both of them work. So it, I guess it really depends on, on maybe how word of mouth friendly your product is in the sense that if you're selling something, that's, that's going to spark a conversation. And you know, that your customers are naturally going to talk about your products, just, just because of the nature of it. Raul (07:19): Then you can put more emphasis on the friend reward because you know, that your customers are just naturally going to recommend you to their friends and family. But again both of them, both of them work, and I've seen both of them work in, in, in, in in, in different companies, in different industries. Now in terms of when to ask there's two main theories here. So the, the, the two of them are either ask your customers once you have their attention. So that could be like right after a purchase. So, you know, while, while the purchase still fresh, and they're still thinking about your brand because they just bought something from you it's going feel natural to get an email from the brand asking you to join the referral program. Cause you just became, you just became a customer. Raul (08:02): The other theory is to ask customers to join the referral program after they have received the product. So wait a few days, let him get your product and use it and then hit them with email that asks for a referral. Once again, both of them work, I've seen both of those strategies work, and I guess also depends on the nature of the, of the business. And then in terms of how to ask one particular, how, excuse me, one particular way of asking that I like it's one brands when brands are transparent in terms of why they're asking for a referral. There's one particular example that I, I always like to share. Whenever I get questions about how to ask for, for referrals since it's, it's a company that's called Baronfig and they actually, so they have a page on their website about the referral program. Raul (08:58): And one of the things that they say in, in this, they have to have kind of like a note from the team explaining why they have a referral program. And the reason that they give is that they want to they're rather spend money on their customers that on Facebook advertising or online advertising, like, you know, we, we, we know you love our product so much that we would just rather give the money to you instead of giving it to all these big corporations. You don't have to follow that particular example. You don't have to you know, like you make it either or, but showing your customers that, the fact that they're going to go out and spread the word about your brand, it's actually going to matter to you and it's going to matter to your business. I think that's really smart. And if you, and again, if you're, if you have honest marketing and your customers know that, that you care about them and you care about the products you're developing that way of kind of asking for other, for the referrals, it's going to come out very naturally. Kathleen (09:52): I love that example about the Facebook ads, because it's true. Like if you're spending a ton of money on Facebook ads, would you rather give the money to Facebook or would you rather give it to your customers? I know what my answer would be. What do you say to people who push back and say, well, we shouldn't have to pay our customers to refer us. I don't know. I've definitely heard people express opinions indicating that they feel like the transactional nature of that somehow cheapens the referral. Do you have any response to that? Raul (10:24): Yeah, I mean, I can, I can totally see that. And, and it's all, it's not really about it doesn't have to be a monetary transaction. You can there's, I mean, you can get creative and, and offered things that are going to their customers. Aren't going to appreciate without again, I can see that offering a coupon or offering cash can, you know, raise some eyebrows for some brands and say, Hey, maybe this is going to, to affect the way that we're positioning our brand. We we've seen that with a more kind of like luxury items or brands are they're in that type of business that there sometimes are a little you know, they kind of question the whole, the whole thing, but the reality is that at the end of the day, their customers are going to refer their friends and family anyway. Raul (11:08): And so, you know, why not, first of all tracking it. And then second, like if you can add something on top of that too, to do have them continue doing so then, you know, it's going to be a win-win for everybody. So, but again, it doesn't have to be doesn't have to be, I'm going to try to turn a section and you can offer a free product. You can offer some like free accessory or you can even like offer them a spot on a new release. If you're going to release a product in the next few months, and you want to have a closer to, to kind of like a VIP group, you can offer that instead. And again, also for, for the customer, if you don't want to offer a coupon, you can, you can offer an additional product or something that's not available. Raul (11:50): To, to, like I said to, to most people, you can maybe some sort of like a hidden product that's added to your cart if you make a purchase referred by, by an existing customer. So it's all, it's all a matter of making it a little bit special. And also you know, if, if your, if your customers your customers are going to be happy that they're sharing something, that's going to be useful for their friends anyway, which is it's honestly, the bottom line of, of referral programs is that referral programs at the end of the day, what they do is that they incentivize something that's already happened or happening organically, which is word of mouth. So if you can incentivize that even more than your customers are going have be able to add that little pitch at the end, after they sh they shunned the product, and they explained their friends and family, why the product is so good, they're going to be like, and by the way, if you buy using this link that you get a little, a little something, or we both get a little something. Raul (12:42): So, Kathleen (12:43): So when it comes to offering a coupon or a gift card, or some sort of monetary compensation, do you have any data that, that would point to how much that should be? Because I feel like, I feel like there has to be a sweet spot, right? Like too low, and it's not going to motivate the desired behavior too high, and it's going to be very expensive. And I don't know B it might just seem egregious, but yeah. What, what's your take on that? I mean, Raul (13:12): It really depends on the company and kind of like what they can offer just from looking at a, from a financial perspective, like, what are their margins and what are they able to offer? What I would do, what I would suggest is to make sure that it's kind of a unique offer. We have customers that are offering, let's say 10% to, to their, to their customers and their friends for every referral. But at the same time, that's what they're offering to anybody that signs up for the newsletter. So, you know what, when you, when you put it on the same level and you make it a referral, it takes a lot more effort than signing up for a newsletter. And so if you're given that incentive it might not seem too attractive to customers because they can get that discount. Raul (13:53): And by, by doing something else, that's honestly a lot, a lot easier to do. So what I would do is it's to yeah, like offer something, offer something that you're not already offering hopefully something a lot higher, make sure that it's also not clashing with other type of promotions that you might have in we, we noticed we had a, a client that we would notice that every weekend, their referral sales would go, we'll go down. And we couldn't really figure it out. Why, because the rest of the week, Monday through Friday, you would see kind of like normal sales and then they will drop in during the weekend, which w which was the opposite of what their customers were doing. Their customers were buying more from them over that weekend. W what was happening is that every weekend they had kinda like a a store sale with the same discount had a referral program. Raul (14:40): And so people were, were just rather use that coupon code and then offer them that using the one that they that we're getting from, from making referrals. So, you know, those little things, like, just making sure that you have kind of like a clear picture of what your, your coupon situation is, and then makes something a little bit more special at the end of the day, making a referral for the customer. It's not, it's not something that's going to happen automatically, just because they're sharing it on their social media, or just because they're sharing the referral link on a, on a, on a group chat doesn't mean that they're, their friends are going to make a purchase right away. So you need to reward them for that. Kathleen (15:13): That makes sense. So make your referral discount higher than the other discounts you're advertising. Can you talk a little bit about tracking, because you've mentioned a few things that point to that, and I imagine that's key to all of this, because if you're gonna, if you're going to offer these rewards, you have to be able to track whether the action happened and attributed back to the right person and then distribute that reward. So how, how, what's the best practice for handling that? Well, Raul (15:38): I mean, it's out of ReferralCandy. We do it automatically. So depending on the platform, we have several different ways that we can identify who was the friend and who made the referral. For some platforms we use coupon codes that are specific for, for advocates. And so if we see a transaction with a specific coupon code, we're able to say, okay, this was the advocate, and this is the person that needs to get rewarded for other platforms. We rely more on the referral link and, and kind of like, you know, kind of like the, the, the tracking after they click on it we're able to basically to cookie the friend and then see what's, you know, what's the referral looking like. But what, what I was mentioning earlier about being able to track referrals it's more about kind of like the, the, the, the moment in which brands tend to decide that they need a referral program. Raul (16:27): They know that they start to getting these early signs that they're getting referrals either because you know, a customer, my, my, mention it to a customer support rep or, or, you know, you might like see referrals happening on social media, just from people that have bought the product, and they're just sharing it or somebody unboxing your product on YouTube. And then maybe people asking them what they can get it, all that kind of stuff. So, like, those aren't kinda like early signs, but unless you have a referral program software on your store it's pretty difficult to, to, to track who are the customers that are, that are coming to you from referrals versus any other channel, because those, all of those referrals are happening organically in a way. And it's, it's kind of more like a, just like a natural conversation so that they might hear from, again, from a friend or my, my look at a video on YouTube, and then just go to the website and make the purchase. And you'll never be able to attribute that purchase to kind of like a referral source. So yeah, so instead of ReferralCandy, we were able to track that with with the referral links and coupon codes. But, but yeah, I mean, th those are kind of like the early signs that brands typically look at in order to decide that, okay, it's time to have something formal in place so we can see where this is going. Kathleen (17:44): So what are the top three mistakes that you see companies make with referral programs? Raul (17:52): So I would say that the main mistakes are either going to early so referral programs I mean, it's, it's a, it's an easy way for brands to retain existing customers and acquire new ones. So it's basically, you're turning your customer base into, into your marketing team. But it's a numbers game. And the, the number of advocates that you're going to have in your referral program depends a lot on, on your total number of customers. So how many new orders are you having per day or per week or per month? And then those are, the customers are eventually going to get added to the program. They're going to get the referral link, and then they're going to go out and refer. So it's a, it's a numbers game, really. So you need to have a good number of customers in the referral program in order to be able to see results in the short term. Raul (18:38): So whenever we have a brand joining joining ReferralCandy and launching a referral program if it's a brand that has, let's say like 10 or 20,000 orders per month, they take off immediately. Because they're, they're getting you know, almost thousands of orders every day. So those are thousands of customers that are being added to the referral program right away. Now, if you're a brand that it's, it's making, let's say a hundred, 200 orders per month, and it's going to take a lot longer. And so it's, it's not that it's a mistake joining the referral program, but what is the mistake in my opinion, is to expect results in, in the short term. And I'll be number one. Another mistake that I typically see is not, not promoting it enough. So like I said, you depend on your customers to perform an action. Raul (19:23): So you need to remind people about the, the, the existing of the referral program, because there's a lot of things that are happening in our daily lives. And, and, and if we're a, if we're not, if brands are not staying top of mind, then it's difficult for customers to think about it and kinda like generate those referrals. So promotion is key. And then the third mistake, probably the most important one. This is an actual mistake, in my opinion it's not, not being ready or not having a company that's ready for our referral program in the sense that either your products it's not good enough yet, or your customers are not loving your product yet, or maybe your kind of like purchase process, it's, it's complicated and messy, and your customers are not kind of enjoying the whole process. And then or maybe you don't have a customer support team in place. Raul (20:18): That's like, you know, practically solving problems and your customers are not, not happy overall. So if your customers are not happy and referral program is not gonna be able to solve that. And that's something that I actually see quite often but you know, it, it, at least it's it's kinda like a, it's a way of figuring out if there's something that's wrong with, with the company or with the product. And then, you know, you can think of the company and kind of focus on fixing that. And then I mean, if our referral program is not working, honestly, any other marketing action that you might develop, it's not going to work either if your product is not, it's not Kathleen (20:53): There. Yeah. That's so true. There's no substitute for a poor product. And you can't market your way out of that either. Exactly. so I'd love for you to give some examples, because I feel like in principle, this sounds like a no brainer if you have a good product and if you're ready for it. So can you maybe talk about the impact that it can have on companies? Like, do you have any real-world examples of companies that implemented a referral program and what that did to the business? Raul (21:24): Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, I brought a few examples of companies in kind of different industries so we can, we can kind of go over it together, but I would say that that one thing that they all have in common is that they obviously have a great product, that their customers are, are loving. They, by the time they launch a referral program, they, they realized that they were already getting kind of organic referrals. And that's what it was just kind of implementing something on top of that, that it was going to be able to streamline the whole referral process. So one of my favorite examples it's a company called Branch Basics. They are based in the US and they are offering a subscription business for cleaning products, which, you know, it's not, you know, initially it's not like, you know, a very attractive product. Raul (22:11): They're, they're in a very competitive industry. And so it's something that sometimes we just buy kind of automatically you put it on your shopping list and you go to the store and you get it. But that kind of like the twist they, they being able to add to the product that made it so attractive for customers is that they, they realize that most of the ingredients that you buy when you buy cleaning products are plastic and water, so you're, you're buying a container and then you buy a product that's mostly made of water. And so what they, what they've done is that they, they, when you, when you subscribed to brunch basics, they send you a box with different spray bottles and, and, and basically the containers for your cleaning supplies. And then they send you a subscription of different concentrates that you can use to, you know, buy to clean different parts of your house. And all you need to do is just put that the, the, those concentrates inside of the bottles and fill them with water and you're ready to go. Kathleen (23:06): By the way, I agree. Totally genius. That makes all the sense in the world, especially in terms of lowering shipping costs. Raul (23:13): Exactly. And, and it's and yeah, it's something that when you think about it, you're like, wait a minute, that's true. I'm just, I'm buying water and plastic. Kathleen (23:20): Yeah. Yeah. And I'm paying to have it shipped to me. Exactly, exactly. Raul (23:24): So they, they, they were able to add a twist to this, like, you know, highly traditional industry. But at the same time they had an issue at the beginning, which is how do we break through the noise? I mean, there's, there's like cleaning supply companies are so big and they, they, they take over pretty much any marketing channel available to us that we need to find something else. And so they they realized that their customers were their best advocates, because they were really excited about telling their friends and family about the, the, the, the cleaning products that we're buying. So just to kind of give you some numbers. So right now pretty much since they launched the referral program they saw an increase in by 10% in their, in their total sales and that 10% came from the referral program. Raul (24:08): And, and ever since they've been able to get like one in every 10 purchases coming from the referral program, which if you, if you look at it from the financial perspective and how much it costs to acquire a customer through a referral compared to any other, you know acquisition method, like, you know, like Facebook ads or Google ads, it's a lot cheaper. And, and also customers aren't coming from a referral tend to stick around longer and spend more. So in the long run, it's, it's made a really big impact on the bottom line of their business, which is their, their revenue. Other examples that I particularly like because it's it's, it's brands that have being able to target a specific communities of customers. So there's, we have a couple of companies that are selling products for, for either babies or toddlers. Raul (25:01): And obviously the customer here is not the baby and the toddler. It's mothers. And so they're being able to target communities of mothers that, that we're going to be able to buy the products. And then, then we're going to talk about it to, to all their moms. And so in particular we have two companies, one called Momomee and the other one called Riff Raff. And they, they, they pretty much being able to see the same type of results pretty much from the beginning, they were able to increase their sales by 20 and 24% using referral marketing, which is a lot, I mean, it's one of the highest referral rates that I've seen in, in among our customers. And there were, they were able to do so because they, they were targeting a highly engaged community of people that were constantly looking for the best products. Raul (25:45): And so if you see if you're part of a, of a mother's community and you see a mom being super excited about it, but one particular product, it's very likely they're going to buy it, even if you don't personally know about that person. But, but just the fact that you're both in kinda like the same stage of, of life, it kinda like makes you agree. And, and those referrals typically happen very, very naturally. So those are two that particularly like, because of the, kind of like the, the, that the way that they being able to, to target these communities. And then I mean, and then I would say that those are kind of like the 20, 24% referral rates I mean, are achievable because we have several customers that are, that are being able to get those to get to those percentages. Raul (26:32): But then, you know, you see customers having anywhere between five and 15% referral rates that are, you know, kind of all over the board in terms of companies that are they're operating in the, in the clothing or apparel industry companies are selling gadgets or, or sporting sporting goods. And they all have a kind of different ways that they've been able to target themselves sorry, market themselves to their customers and their referral programs. But I would say that products that are, are word of mouth friendly are those that are either truly revolutionary in the sense that it's nothing that you've seen before, or their products from a traditional industry with the twist, kind of like the example of Branch Basics. They, they, they're not in a very traditional industry, but they being able to add something that you know, all of a sudden it makes it look like a, like a no-brainer. But if we look at the, kind of like the traditional or the kinda like the most famous classic referral programs, Dropbox, Uber PayPal, those were truly new products. And so when you were talking to your friends and family about those products, you were, you were sharing something that was brand new, something that anybody had never heard of before. So that's, that's what makes, in my opinion company's word of mouth friendly when, when the person that's talking about your brands, truly excited about what, what they're about, what they're saying. Kathleen (27:58): So that makes all the sense in the world. And, and I think that that also makes it easier to onboard people into the customer referral program if they're excited. But I guess the other thing that I wonder about is activation because like, with anything, it's one thing to get the person to join the program, and it's another to then get them actually spreading the word and doing it consistently. So do you have any best practices or examples you've seen of companies that have done a really good job with activation? Raul (28:27): Yeah, so I would say that the most the most common examples of this are companies that are, that have a pretty consistent promotion schedule for the referral program. And so they are either reminding customers, let's say sending me an email every couple of weeks to their customers to remind them about the program, they're sharing it on social media or even like giving incentives that they get people excited about sharing. One particular example that I, that I really like talking about it's a company called Thread Beast and they are subscription box for just apparel basically. And so whenever you buy a box, you get maybe like a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and a hat and a belt, and maybe a pair of shoes as well. And the way that they've marketed the referral program is that instead of giving so it's, this it's a subscription, right? Raul (29:18): So instead of giving a coupon code on your future subscription or in your feature invoice what you get is every time you refer a friend, you get an additional box. So if you refer three friends, you're going to get your box plus three other boxes, full of clothes. And then your friend, the friends, I think they get like, like like 50% off or something like that. So it's pretty easy for the friends to to get started as well. And so when you are basically not capping the type of the, the, the type of rewards that they can earn it gets people really excited about sharing the referral link. So and actually, if you go on YouTube and you search for Thread Beasts, you're going to see tons of videos, a lot of them from, for the past few days, because people just keep renewing their videos unboxing, what they got from, from Thread Beast then. Raul (30:07): So they, they do like a, maybe 10 minute video explaining all the different products they've, they've gone. And then they also shared the referral link and to tell people how to get started on Thread Beast as well. So those type of rewards in which you're not necessarily capping it that works really well. Also companies that offer cash instead of coupon codes. So if you're, if you're selling a product that, you know, your customers are not going to buy from you anytime soon, and I always give the same example mattresses. Kathleen (30:34): Oh yeah. That's so true. Raul (30:36): If you're selling mattresses. I mean, that, that's kinda like the iconic example of a product that you're not going to buy a, you buy once, and then you're not going to buy it anytime soon. So if you're, if you run a referral program, and you're a mattress company, you can either maybe offer up, offer free product, which might be some sort of accessory that you can use under your bed. Kathleen (30:54): Or something. Yeah, exactly. Raul (30:55): Or you can offer cash and people are going to be happy to share and get cash because, you know, nobody's going to say no to that. So again, promotion and then being a little creative with the rewards typically helps with activation. And then something that we've also seen with with customers is that they they they're being able to add a little bit of a gamification to the process. So Riff Raff, the example that I was mentioning before they, they offer, they have like, kinda like a limited set of products. I think they only have like five or six items that they sell, but you can collect them in a way. And so instead of giving cash or giving a coupon to their customers, to give them a free product, every time they refer, I think it's five friends. And so if you end up referring, you know, 15, 20, 25 friends, you might end up getting all the different items of the collection. So you can, you can kind of collect all these, all these different products. So yeah, it's like I said, I mean, they're all I can't really give like one particular you know strategy that would work for all businesses, but it's all about getting a little bit creative and also knowing what truly get your customers excited. Kathleen (32:05): Yeah. And I think hearing some of those examples is helpful, cause it's just stipulates that the ideation, all right, we're going to switch gears because we're coming towards the end of our time. And I want to make sure I have time to ask the two questions that I always ask. First one being you know, the, the world of inbound marketing and digital in particular is changing really, really quickly. Some of it fueled by technology, some fuel by regulatory things around privacy. You know, there's just so much platform changes. There's so much happening. How do you personally stay educated and on top of all that, are there certain sources of information that you really rely on? Raul (32:44): Yeah, so I so I don't have like one particular news outlet that I follow for, you know, for anything related to marketing or e-commerce but instead I rely on community. So I'm part of several Slack communities. And from, you know, people that have worked in, in either in, in, in direct to consumer or people that work in, in e-commerce technology. And they, I tend to rely on those communities to get information that's going to be relevant. I think that when not necessarily a cause I used to be really active on Twitter. And I used to get a lot of my news from Twitter, but, you know, Twitter is just a little bit out of hand. I mean, I got out of hand in, in my opinion. And so I decided to kinda focus on kind of like smaller communities, more niche communities, and, and that, I think the quality you might not get as many articles to check every day, but the quality in my opinion has improved a lot. And there is. And then there's also an interesting conversation whenever somebody shares something, if it's, if it's truly interesting, there's going to be people that are going to like, you know, go back and forth about it. And that's also, my opinion is super valuable because allows me to learn from people that I've, you know, they're like, that are really way smarter than me. And and that that's always good. Kathleen (34:00): Any particular Slack communities that you really love? Raul (34:02): Yeah. So I'm my favorite one it's called Partner League. And it's a community for Shopify partners. It's, it's not run by Shopify it's, it's kind of like a, it was organized by by several Shopify partners. It's, it's a little bit independent and I think that's what makes it interesting, in my opinion, there's like really, really interesting conversations that happened there. And then also whenever somebody shares anything, anything that affects the industry, there are some really interesting conversations about this. So, so yeah, Partner League, if you're in Shopify I totally recommend Kathleen (34:33): It. I am in that one as well, and I think it's good. So now we know we can Slack each other. Great. And then the second question is, of course, this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Are there particular companies or individuals that you think are really setting a great standard for what it means to be a really good inbound marketer these days? Raul (34:57): Yeah. So whenever I look for, for example, so people, companies doing good marketing, I like to look at my inbox. I, I unsubscribe whenever I make a purchase, I end up subscribing from like, I don't know, 75, 80% of the brands that I, that I buy from. Cause I, you know, I ended up just not enjoying the content they send me, but those that remain in my inbox type. Those are the ones that I particularly like, and there's one company that's called Back Market. They sell a refurbished products so, you know refurbish technology. So, you know, iPhones, some computers you know, whatever, actually my, my last two iPhones are from, from them. So I a I'm a really good really with customer of them, but I like the way to do marketing because, well, first of all, they've been able to educate people on you know, kinda like all the electronic waste that we're producing. Raul (35:49): And that they've been able to kind of like remove the, the, the stigma that most, a lot of people had on, on buying refurbished products for products that are not brand new. And so I think they've done a really good job educating what refurbish means and what's the impact that you can make for, for the environment. And then also I like the tone. So they I mean, I get, so I'm based in Spain, so I get their content from their Spanish site, but I don't know if the US site will be a little bit different, but they're pretty funny. They use humor a lot in the way that they that they interact with with customers. And I think that's key to be honest, like whenever, whenever I see their emails, even if I'm clearly not going to buy another iPhone in the next year or two, but I still look at their emails and I read every single one of them, because I think they're really smart. And that any time that I don't have a referral program, by the way. So from here, if anybody from Back Market is listening to me, we should, we should talk. But anytime that I hear somebody that wants to buy some sort of electronic site typically think of them because of how exposed I am. Kathleen (36:50): Well now I definitely want to go and subscribe to their emails because I love collecting just emails that are, that are well-written. And I love email, and I love corporate marketing. That's done with humor. So a hard thing to pull off and to do it like to hit the right tone. And then right note, like it can go wrong pretty easily, but for the companies that pull it off, it's incredibly powerful. Raul (37:12): One thing that they do that I think helps a lot, and that's something that pretty much every single brand can, can copy is that they these emails are not sent from black market. It's sent from somebody inside of Back Market. So you get it, you get a first name and in the email. So you can always kind of like, think about who's the person that's writing, the, the email that you're reading. And so it feels a lot more personal rather than getting an email from kind of like a faceless corporation. And so, and that's actually something I copied myself. So I have a newsletter for, for my agency partners had ReferralCandy that I write myself, but I also make sure that it's not sent from ReferralCandy's sending from, from my name. I think it, I think it helps to, to get your message across and, and we tend to put a voice on what we're reading. So if I can get people to read it with my voice, that's even better. Kathleen (38:03): Totally agree. And I do the same thing, my newsletters and all my emails, excuse me, come from people who nobody forms a, an emotional relationship with contact at or info at. It just doesn't happen. So I totally agree. All right. Well, we have reached the top of our time. So if somebody is interested in learning more about ReferralCandy, or just wants to connect with you and has a question what's the best way for them to to connect with you online? Raul (38:32): So ReferralCandy.com for anything related to ReferralCandy, and then they can just email me directly. So my email is raulg@referralcandy.com. So raulg@referralcandy.com and I'm always happy to continue the conversation there. Kathleen (38:48): Great. And I'll put that link in the show notes. So head there, if you want to get in touch with Raul and if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, consider heading to apple podcasts and leaving the podcast a review. That's how other people find us. And we would very much appreciate it. And in the meantime, if you know another marketer who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork, because I would love to make them my next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me Raul. Raul (39:18): Thank you so much.

    Ep. 208: How Trimble grew inbound pipeline by 3X in 6 months ft. Lindsay Kelley

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 16, 2021 39:01

    What's the quickest way to build and execute a content strategy that will deliver big inbound lead gen results in a short amount of time? This week on the Inbound Success podcast, Trimble Director of Demand Generation Lindsay Kelley breaks down how she and her team grew inbound deals from 22% to 66% of the company's pipeline in just six months with a content-driven strategy. As Lindsay says, the company's website was "skinny" when it came to content. Upon joining, she immediately set about creating "cornerstone" content and then repurposing that into other assets. Her name for it is the "Thanksgiving Turkey" approach - meaning you break up big content pieces and make lots of other things out of them, just like you do with a Thanksgiving turkey after the big day.  She also explains how she worked with her internal team to encourage cross-departmental collaboration on content and other marketing efforts. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the Trimble website Connect with Lindsay on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:03): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is my good friend, Lindsay Kelley, who is the director of demand generation at Trimble. Welcome to the podcast, Lindsay. Lindsay (00:45): Hi, Kathleen. So excited to see you so excited to be here. And I love your podcast so much. And it's like a dream pinching myself to be on the podcast. Kathleen (00:56): Okay. True story. I was thinking about who should be my next guest and I was thinking about people. I know. And I thought of you because I've known you for a really long time, and I'll say in a minute how we know each other. And honestly, when I first thought of this, I was like, oh, I already interviewed her. And this has happened to me a couple of times recently where I'm like, oh, I already interviewed that person. But then when I looked, I was like, wait, no, I haven't. So this has been a long time in coming. I met Lindsay. I don't even remember what year it was. It was at HubSpot's inbound conference. Lindsay (01:29): 2013. Kathleen (01:31): Holy cow. We just happened to sit next to each other, like during a big keynote. And the rest is history. We became fast friends, even though we were at competing agencies, but we never, I don't think ever thought of each other as competitors. And it's just been a wonderful professional relationship and personal friendship over the years. And man, I will, I I'll stop going on and on about it, but it's, I'm just so happy we finally did this. Lindsay (01:55): I know me too. And you did ask me six months ago and I said, give me six more months because as I was new, newer to my role and I was still in building phase, I may say I don't have anything great to share yet. So you came to me at the perfect time six months later, almost exactly. Kathleen (02:13): Yeah, I know coincidentally. Right. and now you do have some great stuff to share and, and it's no surprise to me because just for those listening, like Lindsay is she, is she used to be from the agency world, like I did, and now she's, in-house like I am. And I just have, I have a lot of respect for you as a marketer and how you think about marketing and your execution and everything. And so let's start by having you just tell folks who are listening a little bit about yourself, your background and where you are now and what Trimble is. Lindsay (02:42): Absolutely. So I started my career in Baltimore in the late nineties. And I started an ad agency, which was a really great experience learned a lot. I was on the B2B side and so that kind of set the stage for my career. I spent my entire career in the B2B of the house. But fast forward a couple of years after some in-house, you know, marketing coordinator marketing specialist working your way up. I finally landed at a place in Baltimore where I met John Shea, who, you know, and John Shea and I went out and started our own agency and it was a sales and marketing alignment agency, and really learned a lot. There, had a great time wanted to grow a little more of the marketing side. So ended up he went sales side. Lindsay (03:29): I went marketing agency side, joined up with another dear friend Darrell Amy. And I think you've had Darrell on the podcast too. And so Darrell and I were partners for about three years and we built an agency that was focused on the copier industry. So we would go in, we would help them build websites. We put the inbound methodology in place and, you know, we were HubSpot gold partners. So we were a little smaller. But it was a really, really great time. And you just learned so much when you start your own agency. Kathleen (04:02): Oh my gosh. Yes. Lindsay (04:06): I think one of my favorite stories was calling a friend one day and it was a Thursday and I said, it just hit me that I haven't showered since Monday. And if you're doing nothing but working and I'm like, and I can't remember the last time I had lunch, you know, it's ruling, but yeah, it really does teach you a lot. So when I when I eventually decided to go back into the corporate world, it was because my daughter was really having a hard time with me traveling. I traveled so much giving the inbound marketing workshops, traveling to clients since she was eight. So I said, I'm going to go agencies. I'm going to go out of the agency world and into corporate America, joined up with an organization called Telit. Had a great time there for about three years. Lindsay (04:48): And then I was actually recruited away in the middle of COVID. So what an experience to interview and and go through that process during COVID, it was a very unique experience. And so the, the companies was originally called e-Builder. It still is e-Builder. It's a product. And so we have a SaaS tool that's designed specifically for construction owners. So we really kind of sit in the, in the arena of the guys that sit in the office and go, okay, I need to build 10 hospitals this year. I need a, a tool to manage that. So, so that's really the software that, that I focus on today and that's part of Trimble. And, you know, Trimble's made a lot of acquisitions over the years to really be able to build this connected construction strategy. And so we're kind of in the middle of it now, and we're, we're working on the connected scale. Lindsay (05:40): So by 20, 25, we'll all be together. But I will say, like, I have had such a ball meeting all of these amazing marketing folks across the different sectors. So I feel really lucky that I found this and you know, my my team is I absolutely adore working with them every day. And so we've done some really fun stuff and they've all said, wow, this is, this is different than what we've done in the past and we're enjoying it and it's fun. So I think for them, it was a little bit of a new adventure. And they're, they're enjoying it. It's, you know, there's always going to be a little rough road, but we we're just, we're loving it and we're killing it. Kathleen (06:20): That's great. I love that story. And I mean, your background is so similar to mine in that sense. Like I owned an agency for 11 years and then my kids reached a certain age where I was like, I need to be more present for them and left and went in-house. And so we've had really oddly parallel career journeys. Although I would say I've been at smaller companies, more series a startups, and you've been at some slightly larger companies. And so it's kind of cool to be able to trade those experiences. You know, you came into tremble and this is an established company. So this, like, I tend to come in and there isn't marketing. And so I build it out and I get to like do it out of whole cloth, right? I'm like, not, I'm not undoing anyone else's stuff or changing anything. Kathleen (07:01): You have a different situation. You came in to a plane that was already flying. And so you have to like, you know, there's, there's always challenges you have where you maybe want to do some things a different way, or you need to tweak things, but you need to do it so that it doesn't take the plane down. Right. Like you've got the plane in the air, how do we keep it in the air, but maybe make it perform better. And so talk a little bit about like, when you first joined the company, how was it doing its marketing and what did it go to market strategy look like? Lindsay (07:29): Yeah. And, you know, for, for a long time, e-Builder has been such a well-respected and known brand amongst all the owners that we serve. So really for a long time, it was just, you know, name recognition and, you know, people could pick up the phone and have a conversation. Oh, we build there. Okay. No, I've heard of you guys. This is great. And you know, how it goes said, competition comes into the marketplace and becomes a little more challenging. And the ways that you did it before, aren't quite as successful. Not that they're not still successful in a way, but they're not as successful as, as they could be in this new environment. And so, you know, with buyers changing the way that their buying habits are doing a lot more research learning online it was something that when I first came in, they were doing a lot of email marketing. Lindsay (08:18): It was to an existing database. So they had, you know, a really solid, good, a number of contexts that they were able to reach out to that they had built up over the years. And, and so, you know, we had, you know, the customer marketing department, we had the demand generation and we had inbound and they all kind of worked on their own. And, you know, they were great friends. They had a really good chemistry, but when it came to the, the business side of it, they were pretty siloed. And so we spent a lot of time breaking through that to figure out, you know, how we could take it from, you know, the, the top of the funnel all the way through to the customer customer marketing. So that's been a lot of fun. The, the team has really enjoyed getting to do more brainstorming together and understanding more about, you know, the power of strategizing together and, you know, people coming up with different ideas and pulling them together and saying, actually, you know, what if we did this this way? Lindsay (09:14): So I think for them, it's been a lot of fun. But they, they really were very heavily relying on email marketing some paid sponsorships and events. The events person had just left right before COVID hit and they hadn't rehired the position. So we actually just recently rehired the position because we really, you know, we were trying to figure out what it was going to look like when there were no events. So so heavy, heavy reliance on email had a couple of pieces of content that were, that were very well put together. Product marketing was solely responsible for all of that. So when I came in, I said, well, what goodness? And like, be like product marketing has so much to do. They really you know, really should have some, some assistance for them. So what we did was we said, all right, sales, foot sales, friends, how do you sell what does it look like? Lindsay (10:08): What does that journey look like for you guys from start to finish? And so, you know, a couple of the guys had some really nice well put together slides that really showed, you know, the, the biggest challenges that these guys were going through. And I'm realizing this really isn't represented on the website. The website was, was I call it skinny. It was skinny content. So it really didn't say enough about the benefits of, you know, bringing in a product like e-Builder, because they really hadn't had to in the past, everybody just kind of knew who they were. So, you know, we really kind of, for the first six months, it was just fast and furious let's build content. So we, we had started a blog. We were able to put at least one piece out a week, if not two, we had white papers that we produced. Lindsay (10:57): And really the biggest reason that I did this dirty little secret is they hadn't spent the money in the first six, six months of the year. And it's one of those use it or lose it. So I'm like I got all this money, let's hurry up and get some, some really nice pieces of content put together. So we kind of changed the process of how content was created and started bringing in some expert writers. Some that I've used in the past others that, you know, they had used in the past as well. And so we have a nice little mini arsenal of freelancers. So all we do is we put these freelancers together with the product marketing team, because they're the ones with the message, the go-to-market strategy, but years and years of construction experience. And we were able to come up with some really nice pieces of content. And it was funny cause we did a very poor job for the first six months of really putting it out there in any real form or fashion that was valuable to anyone aside from just putting it on the blog. So we were in go, go, go mode. So we created as much as we could. And then at the end of Q4, we started saying, okay, what are we going to do with this stuff? Yeah. Okay. Kathleen (12:01): Before you go down that path, hold on. I'm going to stop you. Cause I know you're getting to the good part. Okay. So, okay. So table setting, you came in, the website was skinny with content. You had this opportunity because of the budget to go out and all of this and quickly create more, which I love. And, and you, you sort of alluded to this, but this, this was a different way of marketing for your team. Like before you joined, there was a lot of email marketing, et cetera. There wasn't a lot of content creation and you, you are a part of a large enough team that, again, it's the flying, it's the, it's the flying building the plane while you're flying it. Right. So when you come into a company like this and you have product marketing, you have you know, events or you don't have events or, but you have all these different people on the team who are used to doing things a certain way. It can, I know from experience, it can be very disruptive and sometimes like you can really shoot yourself in the foot by trying to like change it too fast if you don't manage that process. Well, so can you just talk a little bit about how you manage that? Cause it sounds like it went really smoothly with your team and they were really happy with what you came up with, but I'm curious to know how you, how you ushered that change in. Lindsay (13:17): So the team today looks a little different than it did when I first came in. So, you know, we, we did have a couple of folks leave. And we did, I had a great opportunity to bring my team together to interview for filling these roles because culture is such a big part of, you know, not only the e-Builder culture, but you know, the Trimble greater culture. They were very, very well aligned, which is why the owners were happy, you know, when, when the acquisition happened, cause it very similar cultural values. Part of what we had to do was really just start breaking down the why, so why are we going to do this? Okay. Because we've always done it this way is a very standard answer. Lindsay (14:01): And I'm like, well, let's challenge that. So little by little, over the weeks when we had our team meetings, you know, I would start a conversation with them whether they really knew what I was doing or not, I'm not sure I'm giving it all away now. Now they're all going to go back and listen to like, oh, that's how she did that. But just kind of saying, okay, so, so, you know, you have this project coming on. So what, you know, what's another way that we could do that. What's another way you could engage the audience or utilize some of these materials or be here in customer marketing, so you don't have to recreate the wheel. And so we started having brainstorming sessions and they would get really excited because they really hadn't done that before. And having that kind of collaboration, I think helped excite them. Lindsay (14:45): And they started doing it on their own without me, which was really the goal. And so you know, the team as a whole really came together and I think some of the, some of the new folks we were able to bring in as well have really helped with that cohesiveness. A lot of times, you know, it's a lot of times it's finding the right people that fit with the team that really helped the team come together. And so I had you know, a critical hire that came in who's my, my graphics and web guy that I brought with me from my last, my last company. And it's just, he's one of those people that has like a collaboration, it's his middle name. He loves doing that kind of stuff. And so it was a really great person to bring in so easy to work with. Lindsay (15:30): And I think that honestly was a very nice glue that wasn't just me sitting there saying, Hey guys, why don't we do this? Why don't we do that? So I think that was a big part of it. I also had, you know, two really strong senior managers on the demand gen side and on the customer marketing side and they just wanted to succeed. And they saw how much we were doing with content. And you know, it was, it was a little challenging cause it, it went from, you know, demand gen and email, email, email, and demand gen is getting all the leads too, but all the exciting stuff that's happening on the content side. Yes. But take that. And now what can you do with it on the email side, on the paid side, what can we do with it? Give me some ideas. So it was kind of helping them get there on their own. And to be honest, like they, they did this themselves, they just, they just needed a little, a little bit of guidance. Kathleen (16:24): And the raw materials, the content, you know, you got it. Yeah. You've got to have that there to work with it. Otherwise you can't, you can't, you know, multiple if you don't have any clay. Lindsay (16:33): Exactly, exactly. And I think part of the, the really, really instrumental piece of this for me was my, my VP of marketing is so supportive. I mean, he, he very admittedly he's like, you know, demand gen isn't my, isn't my strong suit. So I had his support every step, every turn. He's been an amazing mentor and he's just one of those guys that you love coming to work and working with. And the whole team loves him as well. But you know, this team had been really without a leader for a year. And my, my manager, my boss was, was doing his best to, to keep them all together and keep the wheels on the bus. And he did a great job of doing that, considering all of the other things that he's responsible for. So I was given a lot of flexibility and freedom to bring these new ideas to the table and he supported me. And that really makes all the difference. And the fact that the leadership team was willing to listen, let me present ideas, you know, show them things that have worked for me in the past. And then given me that opportunity. So that's why I always get that. Kathleen (17:40): Yeah. It sounds like an amazing place to work which is, is so wonderful. And I think coming into an environment where you have the confidence of the people above you to your job, you know, to just do your job the way, you know, it needs to be done. That is huge. So we were about to get into the part of this conversation that I love. Cause I got a little preview before we started talking. So to recap, you came in, you started immediately creating a lot of content. But let me ask you one question about that. Did you have any kind of like particular strategy or framework behind that content? Like what is it that you were creating? Lindsay (18:18): Absolutely. And you know, I come from a HubSpot background you know, partners, you are a HubSpot partner. I was a HubSpot partner, you know, and one thing they do really well is they help you build the foundation of inbound and they, they teach you that methodology. So I brought that methodology with me. Even though we're not on HubSpot now, so they have that pillar content strategy. So that's, we sat down with sales and said, Hey, this is what we're trying to create. You help us feel like in your journey that you take the prospects through, we now have to digitize that because COVID is here and you can't get on a commune anymore. So help me help you. And we had a really instrumental sales guy being Mike who had a great slide. And it was literally like, like plucked from the pages of inbound. And he's like, it's kind of like this. And I'm like, nah, that's what we need. So that was really the framework for building these, these pillar pages, we call them cornerstone pages internally. And so, you know, they really, Kathleen (19:18): These are like exhaustive really in-depth guides on a particular topic. Right? Lindsay (19:25): Exactly. They're like, call them meaty. They're the meaty ones, the skinny website that was there before coming from the vegetarian Kathleen (19:35): Steak house now. Lindsay (19:38): So so yeah, so that's really what we started from. And so the person who was in the role at the time, who since has gone on and I'm very happy for her, she got an amazing opportunity in a very similar startup world that you're in now constantly. But really, you know, she, she helped build the foundation of of this, this content strategy. And she went out and worked with all of our subject matter experts. She knew the, the framework and we, we worked very hard together on what that framework looked like and, you know, we were able to build and just build, build, build, build, build. So that's, that was really what we started with. And we got those on the website made sure that they were properly linked. We had an amazing SEO company called Amps Digital in Manhattan, and I've been working with them for years. And so they were instrumental in helping us from an SEO perspective make sure we are properly optimized going after the right terms and attracting the right type of the right type of folks to the website. Kathleen (20:42): Got it. So you created some cornerstone content as you called it so that you would have some meaty pieces of content on the site. And then, and then what, so like you, you, you fattened up the website a little bit. What did you do from there? Lindsay (20:57): Okay. So from there, we went into a strategy. I affectionately liked to call it Thanksgiving Turkey. Kathleen (21:02): I'm seeing a theme emerging, by the way, were you hungry when you developed the strategy? Lindsay (21:09): I'm a vegetarian, I don't even eat Turkey. But, but we call it Thanksgiving Turkey. And the premise behind it is after Thanksgiving, obviously how many different dishes can you make from this one Turkey with this massive amount of leftover meat that you have? So we take almost every piece of content and we chunk it into as many different pieces of content forms of content as we possibly can. So an example may be we'll have a webinar and it will be a 45 minute webinar in depth talking about, let's say document management and we'll, we'll have a client on and we'll have this, you know, amazing turnout of all these people coming well afterwards we'll take, and we'll transcribe that webinar. Then we bring in some freelancers, we bring those subject matter experts back and we say, okay what kind of a blog post can we get out of this one blog post two blog posts. Lindsay (22:05): So we'll get two really great blog posts that fit. And then we'll publish those on the website. Then we'll go back and we'll say, okay, we have 45 minutes worth of footage here. So we'll Chuck it out into what we call snackables. And the snackables are really 90 seconds to two minute clips of a client answering a question. So it'll be a nice little video with the question that's been asked. So that's your thumbnail. And you put those on social media and it kind of attracts people in and then you can drive people to that webinar on demand. Then we'll, we'll also take these snackables, we'll create a web page, we'll put all the snackables on one webpage and each one has their little phone. Now the question and we put just a little bit of content on it, cause we don't want to compete with ourselves on the big meaty blog. So we'll take all of those pieces and put them on there really great asset for sales to have as well. So that sales is able to share that with their prospects and say, oh, well, here are some of the questions that you might, you know, might see in one of these webinars. And so they'll, they'll take and use that to hopefully they're using it a lot. Lindsay (23:14): So little things like that, we'll, we'll do that all day long. We'll take the cornerstone pieces of content that we have and we'll we'll create web webinars from those. So we can either bring in a customer or we can have all of our internal experts and sit down and just talk about it, have another webinar there. We, we took one of our big long webinars and we chunked it into 15 minute, 15 minutes segments. And this was for our other product that's geared towards general contractors. We call it project site in a flash. Same thing, push it out on social. Did YouTube live every week? It's the same content, just repurposed in multiple different ways. And then one of the, one of the greatest things that we have so far, that's been a really nice lead generator for us is we took those six cornerstones and we created them as PDF white papers. So we repurposed them, laid them out sent them out individually, marketed them individually. Then we took them, we put them all on one page and call it the ultimate guide. And it's all six and you can download all six. And it's all in one page and it has a little tiny synopsis on each one. So we've Thanksgiving Turkey'd everything we possibly can. Kathleen (24:32): So I'm just going to stop and say, I love the theme here from skinny website to meaty content, to Thanksgiving, Turkey to snackables. So I love the whole food theme. We, I think we need to come up with an overarching name for this, like the culinary approach to inbound marketing or no, I think it's great. I think it's great. And I love how much you repurpose your content because that's that whole theme of doing more with less is really important for marketers in general. So tell me a little bit more than about what this did for you because you came into, as I said, a plane that was flying and it was flying pretty well. Like this is a company that was successful and getting good leads and had a steady stream of business. So, so what, what impact did this have? Lindsay (25:24): So, so what we did was in the very end of Q4 in 2020, we started strategizing all of this, this content and we started building it out and optimizing it, making sure it was in the right place. So from a lead generation perspective, when I'm looking at our opportunities the opportunity value in January of the website and the conversions from the website was 22.43%. And last month in July. Kathleen (25:54): So inbound represented 22.43% of your overall lead volume? Lindsay (25:57): Yes. Kathleen (25:57): Pipeline Lindsay (25:58): Yes. Of our pipeline. And then in July it accounted for 66.67%. Kathleen (26:07): Hold on, pause. Kathleen (26:08): Okay. If you're listening that's in six months, you tripled basically the, you tripled the percentage of inbound leads as a percentage of the total pipeline. Like that's massive. From 20 something to 60 something percent in six months. Lindsay (26:31): Yes. Kathleen (26:33): Wow. Lindsay (26:34): Yes. And that, and that allows us to also try to make better decisions as to, you know, we want to be good stewards of the money. So, you know, we're, we're utilizing money to, to drive really high quality content and you know, taking from other areas, you know, like we were talking about before, there's no events anymore, so I could take that budget and move it. You know, we're, we're still spending on media brand is so important. You know, being out there in the marketplace is so important. But you know, at the end of the day, if I have a question or if one of our owners has a question, they're gonna ask the magical Google search bar and we want to make sure that we're there, that we're coming up both organically, you know, and in, in PPC. Kathleen (27:17): You mentioned when we were talking earlier that when you first joined almost all of the inbound traffic to the website was coming through branded search, correct? Lindsay (27:25): Yeah. 95% of our inbound, our, of our website traffic was branded search. So somebody's physically typing in the word e-Builder, Kathleen (27:36): An incredible testament to the value of your brand. Lindsay (27:41): When we look at our search appearances let's see, July is up 66%. Non-branded. Kathleen (27:53): That's amazing. Yeah. That's amazing. I mean, kudos to you. My hat goes off to you. Lindsay (27:59): It's not me. It's, it's such a huge team effort. And, you know, if we didn't have product marketing and the, the rock stars that we have on that team, helping us drive the message the right way you know, demand gen needs that we, you know, we're not the stewards of all of the information and knowledge like these guys are so good at helping us craft the right message, put the right thing out in market and just knowing what to do with it, watching the numbers and, you know, working from there. Kathleen (28:26): So what do you think if you had to narrow it down to three or fewer key things that were the drivers of your success with, since you've joined the company, like in, in, in achieving what we just talked about, what do you think those three things would be? Lindsay (28:41): Oh, well, the first, the very first thing is, I mean, it might be a standard answer a lot of people give, but it's, it's teamwork. You can't do this by yourself. You need all of these people to, to be bought into the process. So I would say that I would also say another key success metric is vulnerability. You know, you really have to be vulnerable with with some of the folks who you're, you're working with to help them understand, you know, this should work. I'm not going to promise you that it will. This has worked for us in, in different industries that we worked in. But I had to be really vulnerable with them to, to say this, this industry is new for me, that we could go in on this and it could flop. And they were like, okay, well, let's take the ride. So I think that was, was another, another big one. And I think trust, you know, I mean really like my manager, me and my team trusted me. And if they didn't, if they, if they weren't along for the ride, if they weren't bought in it, it would not have been so successful. You can't push a boulder up hill for that long. Kathleen (29:54): The other thing I'd want to ask is you talked about collaboration and teamwork, and I feel like people use that word sometimes and everybody kind of tunes it out cause it's like, yeah, yeah, yeah, teamwork. But I mean, I live this all the time, you know, we're, and we're not as big a company as you are, but having to collaborate between products and engineering and customer success and sales and marketing everybody, I think, does it differently, I'm curious, like how do you achieve that collaboration? And like, if you could be specific, like, is there a certain cadence of meetings or, you know, cause I think when it comes to teamwork and collaboration, it's very easy to err on the side of like death by meetings and talking too much and not getting stuff done. But then it's also easy to air on the other side of just like, screw it. I'm going to go do it all in my son, my own and I'm going to get it done, but then you're not, you know, you're not being collaborative. So what is your, how do you balance that? Lindsay (30:48): That's a really great question, Kathleen. I have a cadence where I have a, a full hour team meeting every week and beginning of the week. I have one-on-ones religiously with every person every week for 30 minutes. And they, and I've encouraged some of my leaders to go out and I'm like, well, collaborate with so-and-so or collaborate here, see what you guys can figure out. Now they do it all the time. So I'm not in a million meetings anymore because they take it and they come back with a strategy. They work together. So that was a big part of it. I think the other really big part is just across all of Trimble. Different groups are starting to come together. We have like a little brain trust. That's all content people. We have a little brain trust. It's all demand gen people and we share and we share and we get ideas. And then my team gets excited because they learn something or they share something and there's so much positive feedback. So those are really big values. You know, for not only myself, but for the whole company is to foster that kind of collaboration as, as far and wide as we possibly can. And I love it. Oh my God. I love it. Kathleen (32:02): Do you have any like set recurring meetings with other teams within the company? Like, do you have a meeting with your sales team or your customer success team or anything like that? Lindsay (32:14): Right now I'm, I'm, we're working on getting better. Cause you know, as marketers, we, we do death by meeting. I'm getting better at meeting more with my BDRs meeting with the BDR leader. And so next quarter I've made a promise. I stayed there like they just promised two days ago. I said, next quarter, I'm going to make sure that every month both of our teams are sitting down and we're talking through this it's kind of like, you know, you're, I'm trying to chunk it out cause it doesn't get that. Kathleen (32:41): I feel like I'm a professional meeting, goer. All I do is go to meetings. Lindsay (32:45): It is, it's like, oh, it's back to back and back to back. And you know, and I often laugh because sometimes I have to take the laptop I'm in my shed, which is, you know, across the way from my house. And I see if had a bathroom in here, it'd be much more convenient. But you know, my husband will see me on the ring, the ring system, walking across the yard on a call with my laptop. Cause I just don't have time in between meetings. And I'm like, if this meeting's about to end then I'll have 30 seconds. Kathleen (33:12): Yeah. It's, it's hard. It's hard. I mean, I love your story. I love that you have been able to affect the results you have in the amount of time you have that's so, so impressive, especially cause it's easy to do something like that. If you come in to a startup like I'm in, because you're nobody nobody's been doing marketing before, but it's, it's really especially impressive to come into a company like yours, where you have an existing marketing team and to achieve that level of results in a short amount of time. So again, kudos. All right. We're going to shift gears because otherwise we're going to run out of time and we could talk forever. I, I know we could. But I always ask my guests two questions and, and I want to make sure we squeezed them in here. The first being you know, the challenge I hear from most marketers is that it's what we've been talking about. Like doing, doing it all. How do you do it all? And one of the things that often falls by the wayside is like continuous education and staying on top of everything that's happening in the world of marketing. So I'm curious, how do you do that? How do you continue to educate yourself? And do you have certain sources of information that you rely on to keep yourself up? Lindsay (34:18): Oh yeah. No, there's so many, first of all my team and I were about to do a, an exercise in values and one of my core values that I shared with them was education. We do a quick 10 minutes of what did you learn last week? Every single meeting. But I love digesting Chris Penn's Almost Timely News. Kathleen (34:40): I love him. Lindsay (34:42): Love him. And he's a, he's a Baltimore guys and Maryland guy like us. But I, his stuff is absolutely phenomenal. So I, I do a lot of that. And then I do a lot of books on tape, like just listening to things. I mean, in right now I'm trying to focus a lot on, you know, leadership qualities and capabilities. Cause I'm now leading leaders. So, you know, I'm trying to make them the best leaders that they can be. So I'm really digesting a lot of Brenee Brown right now. It's just, there's, there's so many different sources that, that I love. Chief MarTech. Scott, Brinker. Love his stuff. Keeping up with the technologies that are out there and the processes that you put in place for those. So those are some of my top ones right there. Kathleen (35:28): Those are some good ones. And I love the Christopher Penn shout out. He was a guest at one point. He was my last interview of the year, I want to say two years ago. He closed out, maybe it was 2019. I'll have to look but great guy. Great guy and super smart. All right. Second question. Along these lines. Of course this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or individual right now that you think is really knocking it out of the park when it comes to setting the bar for being a great inbound marketer? Lindsay (35:59): Oh my gosh. I always go back to this and I can't help myself, but myself and my team, we just read and we just devour everything that HubSpot puts out. And you know, even though we don't use HubSpot internally, their methodology and you know, what they're doing is just spot on. But lately one that's been taking over HubSpot for me is Drift. Nick Sal has really done a lot for that company along the lines of education, certification teachings and trainings that he's putting into place there. And I'm loving them. I'm digesting them like candy. It's amazing. Kathleen (36:40): Because people who are listening probably don't know, but Nick Sal is a former colleague of mine. We worked together for two years, one of my favorite human beings on the planet other than Lindsay Kelley. Of course. So now I'm gonna, I, it's funny, I don't know if I've interviewed Nick Sal, so maybe he's going to be my next guy, but you're right. He's amazing. He was in HubSpot for many years was like one of their leading HubSpot Academy professors, you know, and now he's back in, in a role that really allows him to show his incredible skills at Drift and another amazing Boston-based company. So love that name. Lindsay (37:19): Yeah. Yeah. Really, really great stuff. I highly recommend checking it out. It's not just like conversational marketing sales. They have events certification for virtual events and it's, there's just so many nuggets of wisdom in their Insider's club. It's absolutely phenomenal and it's free to join the insiders club. Kathleen (37:37): That's so great. Okay. I'm definitely gonna gonna go do that after this. Lindsay, if somebody wants to learn more about what you've talked about and connect with you online, or ask you a question, what is the best way for them to do that? Lindsay (37:50): Definitely LinkedIn. And I am the super easy one, linkedin.com/Lindsay Kelley. So I'm there. I'm listed as a Trimble employee and I would love to love to connect. Kathleen (38:06): Great. And I will put a link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes. So had there, if you want to connect with Lindsay and if you're listening to this episode and you liked it or you'll learn something new, which I hope you did, I certainly did. Please take a moment and go to apple podcasts and leave the podcast or review. That's how people find us. That's how we acquire new listeners. It would mean so much, especially if you're a loyal listener. Who's been listening to the podcast for a long time. So head there and leave a review. And if you know somebody else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork and I would love to have them be my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much, Lindsay. Lindsay (38:49): This was a ton of fun. Thanks for having me.

    Ep. 207: How to price your product or service Ft. Kathleen Booth

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2021 36:40

    Pricing a new product or service is one of the biggest challenges you may take on as a marketer. What do you need to know before embarking on a pricing exercise? This week on the Inbound Success podcast, podcast host and clean.io CMO Kathleen Booth talks about pricing. From who should be involved in determining pricing, to what type of research you'll need to do, choosing a pricing survey methodology, and evaluating different pricing structures, she goes into detail on how to conduct a pricing exercise and what you should expect once you nail down initial pricing. There's plenty of actionable advice included in this episode, but if you want access to Kathleen's full swipe file on pricing (including sample presentation decks for customer research calls), all you need to do is Tweet her or send a LinkedIn DM and she'll give you full access. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the clean.io website Connect with Kathleen on LinkedIn Follow Kathleen on Twitter Transcript Kathleen (00:01): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth. And this week, it's a little bit of a special episode because I don't have a guest. We are over 200 episodes into the podcast and I generally try to really shine the spotlight on other marketers who are doing, you know, outstanding marketing work and learn from them. I mean, I learned so much when I interview them and I figure if I'm learning then, so are you well, this week it occurred to me that there's something I've been working on, that when I set out to do it, I really didn't know anything about, and I didn't have any good resources that told me how to do it. And so I thought today I could be my own guest and share with you the experience I had specifically with pricing. So some of you may or may not have been responsible for pricing in your career. Kathleen (01:08): It's one of those things as a marketer, that when you are given ownership of it, it can be very intimidating because pricing is something that goes out to the world. It has a direct and immediate impact on the attractiveness of the product, the likelihood of people to convert, how you're positioned competitively, as well as how much revenue you bring in. So knowing how to price is such a valuable tool to have in your marketing tool set. And yes, marketers are, you know, people who should have some responsibility for pricing. Very often though, I will start by saying that, you know, very often in companies pricing is a committee exercise. It's something that more than one person within the company does. And so I would suggest that whether you're given ownership for pricing or your company's talking about pricing, step number one is to form a pricing committee and who, who is on that will depend on how your company is structured. Kathleen (02:07): But certainly if you have anyone that owns product marketing, they should definitely be involved if not be in the lead position, but you would want to have somebody from, you know, product slash engineering, somebody from sales, certainly. And you know, you can, you can add other people to that committee as need be perhaps customer success, if you have people in those roles. But the whole idea is to get cross-functional people on the committee so that you get all of the different perspectives on how pricing could impact not only customer acquisition, but retention and also the sales perspective as to how it affects your ability to position yourself competitively. So the first thing is to form a pricing committee. And once that committee is formed, really the next step in a pricing exercise is research. And that really starts with what I guess would call economic value analysis. Kathleen (03:03): That's sort of a fancy term, but the bottom line is you want to study the economic impact that your product has on the customer. You know, are they saving money with it? Are they saving time? And does that translate into money? How does it affect their sales velocity, et cetera. Now, some products won't have a direct financial impact, but the whole idea of this exercise economic value analysis is to begin to quantify whether there's any sort of an economic impact that the product has on the end customer. And there are a variety of ways to do that. You know, if you do, in my case, I was pricing out a SaaS product that actually did have a direct economic impact. So it, it held the potential to save money by reducing the incidents of sales that were affected by discounts or promotions. Kathleen (03:58): And so we had a variety of market research tools we use to figure out like, what percentage of sales would this affect, how large are those sales? If we're able to prevent promotions from being activated in this case at checkout, what, what size of promotion are we talking about? Like, is this a 5% off, a 10% off, et cetera. So these dynamics are going to be different for every company, but really understanding what that impact might be is, is crucial. And then looking at industry benchmarks for pricing. So in our, in my case, as I said, this was SaaS pricing. In some industries it's easier to find competitor pricing than others. You know, if I used to own a marketing agency and at that time, so many agencies were posting their pricing on their websites. So it was very easy to, to benchmark and to figure out like what the market was willing to tolerate for SaaS. Kathleen (04:56): So I turned to open view partners and their mastering SaaS pricing research to understand industry benchmarks around average revenue per customer, by customer target segment. And that was really helpful for me, as I began to think about how I might segment our customers. And then, you know, I also looked at a competitive analysis. So what were other companies in our space charging? What, not just how much were they charging, but what was the structure of their actual pricing? So this is where you definitely need to, as a marketer have already done your research. And usually let's face it usually with pricing, you're talking about a new product. So at this point you have to have already done your research and really settled on who is the audience that we're targeting, who is the, and what other, in this case, software products are they buying? Kathleen (05:51): So whether you have a direct competitor or not, you know, what are the other players in the space and are they structuring their pricing? So that would be what I would call a peer cohort, right? You identify your peer cohort of SaaS solutions and then figure out what they're charging. So in my case, I looked at a number of different companies that sell products that affect checkout for e-commerce stores, because that was what we were really selling into and looked at the structure of their pricing. So in some cases, these companies were charging a fixed monthly fee plus a variable fee. For example, it might be a percentage of the customer's revenue. So like if you are selling something into checkout, presumably your product affects e-commerce revenue. So the, a lot of these companies had a variable amount that would scale as customer revenue scaled. Kathleen (06:46): In other cases, there was a fixed fee plus a fee that had to do with the number of orders processed. So there's a lot of different ways to do it. Some companies only charged a fixed fee, some only charged a variable fee, but the more I dug dug into it, the more you started to get a sense for the actual pricing structures that these companies were using, how they were developing different customer segments, how that pricing scaled whether it was annual or monthly, et cetera. So there's a lot in there that's really important to understand so that you can figure out, first of all, why is pricing structured that way? Is it because that's what, you know, the customer set is used to seeing is that what they're comfortable buying because if that's the case, then having a pricing structure that's dramatically different than what they're comfortable with is going to introduce friction in the process, which is not to say that you can't do it, but it's something that you need to factor in when you're thinking about your pricing structure. Kathleen (07:45): The other thing you have to look at once you've done that competitive analysis is really how do we want to structure our pricing? And so there are a variety of common pricing structures, there's usage based pricing, which aligns really closely to the value that a customer receives from the product and enables you to fully monetize customers who use the product more. So, you know, there are, there are plenty of examples out there on usage based pricing you know, everything from I do rent the runway and the more I do a monthly subscription and the more items I want to include in my monthly shipments, the more I'm going to pay, right? That's an example of something that I guess you could call it SaaS, but it's really sort of a, more of a subscription model. Volume pricing is a little different that gives one defined price for all items purchased with the price per item, determined by the total quantity purchased, meaning put simply quantity discounts, volume discounts. Kathleen (08:52): So the more you're getting the less you're paying very common when you're buying hard goods, especially if you're buying them wholesale. For example you see that in a lot of different in a lot of different industries, then there's tiered pricing, which allows companies to offer multiple packages with different combinations of featured features offered at different price points. That's really common in SaaS. We see that all the time, you know, there's your silver, your gold, or your platinum package, or, you know, it used to be a HubSpot partner and they had basic professional and enterprise and the feature sets differed pretty dramatically based on what was included. And then there is value based pricing, which uses the perceived value of the product as a benchmark for price setting. And based on the rule of thumb that I saw generally, you want the value that the product provides to be at least 10 X the price. Kathleen (09:52): So, you know, and I mentioned, I had a marketing agency earlier. That's an industry where I think you do sometimes find value based pricing, for example when you hire agencies to do rebrands or big strategy projects those are not often like time and materials contracts. There's a perceived value for brand work for strategy work that is very high compared to more commodity type services. Like for example, Hey, we'll write your blog for you. There's usually a fixed price for that. And it is somewhat commoditized and, and therefore you can charge as high of a margin. So usage based pricing, volume pricing, tiered pricing, and value based pricing. You really need to start to narrow down from your research, what pricing structure you want to go with before you can get to the next stage in the pricing process. So everything I've described so far, just to recap, it's all background research, it's all information that's publicly available, whether that's what competitors are charging based on information from their websites, or whether that is research into, you know, what buyers can tolerate as far as pricing or whether that is you know, economic value analysis and what you think you'll be able to state as claims to your customer, that the product will have as an impact on their life. Kathleen (11:18): All of this research goes into then helping you narrow down, what do I think my price structure should be? And what incentives or disincentives will that provide the customer once you get there, once you are at the point where, you know, what you think you want that structure to be? In my case, it was a fixed monthly fee plus a variable fee that was based on the number of orders, the customer processed every month, because we were present at checkout. And so we felt that that would enable our pricing to scale with the customer, larger customers that processed a high volume of orders could pay more than customers who processed a lower volume of orders, but it would also allow us to peg that fee in a way that as the pricing scaled, it would, can keep a degree of consistency in terms of how it affected their revenue and their margins. Kathleen (12:14): So they could budget really easily for it. So that's what we settled on in my case, once you think you have your pricing structure and your pricing committee is all in agreement about this, because let's be honest, if you have a committee, that's really what it's about at this stage is consensus building. Then you want to enter into the next phase of market research, which is actually speaking to potential customers. And in our case, we decided to onboard free beta customers before we did our pricing research, so that we would have at least 10 to 15 users who were experiencing our product and could speak to the value it was delivering. And so we did our customer research with our beta users. I got an, they weren't paying anything prior to this and these customer research interviews, they take 30 minutes or less. Kathleen (13:10): They're really pretty quick. And I had, I got some great feedback from other SaaS marketing leaders. I know who shared with me really fantastic examples of presentation decks to use for these calls. And if you're somebody out there who's going to be charged with doing pricing, and you want an example of a deck like this, tweet me at work, mommy work, and I can DM you and get you a link to a template for this. It saved me a ton of time. And let me just tell you, it worked incredibly well, but the basic structure that we used for these 30 minute customer conversations was the following. So I would let them know in advance that I was going to be asking them questions about the product and about pricing. And I made sure I had the right people on the phone. So people involved in, in making decisions about purchasing the product and about using the product. Kathleen (14:03): And then I had my deck ready. And I started out with just a quick overview of the, kind of the rules of the conversation. So like, I really want your feedback. I need you to be honest, there are no wrong answers, et cetera. It's really important to do that table settings so that people aren't trying to be polite. If they have negative feedback, you need to really encourage them to be completely candid. Then I would go into a recap of what the product did. And I'm sorry, before that, then I would actually ask everybody on the phone, what their role was with the product. So are you involved in making purchasing decisions? Are you involved in using it? Who else that's not on this call is involved or would need to be consulted just so that I could get a sense of, you know, who the players were on their side and what that customer journey might be like leading to a purchase. Kathleen (14:53): Then I went into background description on the, on the product, even though they're already using it, everybody uses it differently within a company. And so I wanted to level set and go in with a shared definition of what the product was just in terms of functionality. Then I made a list of, from all of the conversations I had had prior to this and all of my research, as well as all of my assumptions, I made a list of what I thought the pain points were that the customer might be experiencing, that our product could address. And in my case, I kind of was able to sum those up into six distinct pain points. And I, I framed those as first person statements. So an example would be I feel like I can't trust my attribution reporting for my affiliate marketing program. And I put those in quotes. Kathleen (15:47): So it's like, it's like a statement coming out of a customer's mouth. I had six of them, each of those six hit on very different pain points. And then with the group on the phone, I had those pain points listed out in a table on a slide. So I had a slide deck that I took everybody through. And the first the first slide I showed them on the pain points, had the list of the pain points. And then it had a second column. And I asked everybody on the phone to force rank the pain points, one through five, one being the most painful five being the least and just put them in order. And they all had to agree. So they went through a conversation, they agreed, I made notes on the screen so they could see it as they were talking. And we came up with a rank choice, a list of pain points. Kathleen (16:35): And in order from worst least, you know, at least effecting, okay, then this is where it got really interesting that tells you like, w you know, in what order do they prioritize the pain points, but it doesn't tell you like how much more painful is one of those things than the next. So the next slide was the exact same list of pain points. But this time, instead of saying rank them one through five, I said, okay, I'm going to give you a hundred dollars to spend to solve the pain. And I want you to tell me based on how painful each of these five things is, how would you allocate that $100 across these five pain points in order to solve them? And what was fascinating about that is in many cases, like the pain point that they had previously ranked number one, they would say, you know, we want to put $95 on that. Kathleen (17:31): And then $1 on each of the other ones, like that's how much more painful it is. That's so, so, so telling in terms of, you know, giving you the information you'll need later to hit on in your marketing, but also to understanding that when you do your pricing, your pricing needs to speak to how, how the price correlates with the value the product will deliver and solving that pain that they're saying they really want to get rid of. And so, in my case, what I learned when I, when I summed up all of these kind of dollar based questions, like the, the more qualitative questions around pain, I learned that there were two themes that really emerged that our customers felt very keenly. The first is the need to take back control over something that they weren't able to control previously. And the second was to increase their profit margins. Kathleen (18:28): And so immediately we knew those were the two themes we had to hit on in our pricing and in our marketing messaging then, so still on the same call, we did the exact same exercise, but we did it for product benefits. So it's kind of the other side of the same coin. Like I listed out the pain points. And then on the other, this new slide I listed out here are the benefits that I think our product will deliver. So examples of those were re retain more revenue from your sales, in other words, increase your profit margins. Now one was, get better insights into how customers are using your coupon codes. Another one was improve the accuracy of your attribution reporting. So there were five or six different benefits that we listed out. And I went through the same exercise. So the first slide where I asked them to rank to force rank one through five, the benefits, one being the one that was most important to them, five being the least, and then the same exercise where I asked them to put the dollars behind getting those benefits and the same thing, funny enough happened again, there was one benefit that like leaped out far and away above the others, and it had to do with revenue retention or incremental gains in profit margins. Kathleen (19:39): So that was really interesting. And it was a really fun exercise to go through. The, what I would say is that at, at the after that, then in that conversation in those customer interviews, I went into, this is going to be a bunch of big words, a simulated van Westendorp price, sensitivity analysis. So I'm going to pause here and explain what I mean by that. There are a lot of, not a lot. There are a few various, very common well-known methodologies, very scientific methodologies that you can use to conduct a pricing survey. And at some point, if you're doing pricing, particularly if it's SaaS pricing, you're probably going to need to do a survey. And I knew that, that we were going to eventually get there. We happened to wind up using Qualtrics for this because they were able to supply us with a really good audience. Kathleen (20:34): And after all the research I did, I settled on this methodology called van Westendorp. And I liked this methodology because it's really simple and straightforward and quick in the sense that it gives you a very clear picture of exactly what your price should be. So the reason for that, and the way van Westendorp works is this, it is really just four questions. The first question is at what price would you consider the product or service to be priced so low that you feel that the quality can't be very good. That's the question. Number one, and effectively that sets the absolute rock bottom floor for pricing question, number two is at what price would you consider the product or service to be a bargain, a great buy for the money. So still kind of honing in on the lower end of the pricing scale, but like in a way where it becomes very attractive and would incentivize someone to buy it because they're thinking I'm getting a deal question. Kathleen (21:36): Number three is at what price would you say this product or service is starting to get expensive? It's not out of the question, but you'd have to give some thought to buying it. So this starts to get into the upper end of the pricing band, where if you do price something at this level, it, it would begin to introduce some friction. People might question whether something was worth it. Question number four, the last question is at what price would you consider the product or service to be so expensive that you would not consider buying it? So questions one and four are the absolute lowest and the absolute highest you could possibly ever charge and questions. Two and three are the ones that are meant to really hone in, in that middle area, which puts simply as like your pricing sweet spot. So I knew I was going to do this survey through Qualtrics. Kathleen (22:29): But I decided to verbally ask these questions in my customer research interviews. And the reason is that when you do an actual survey, you need to have a sense for like, what scale are you giving, letting people answer on your, it's not an infinite scale. You're not saying like on a scale of zero to 3 trillion, right? Like you need to know we're talking about between a hundred and a thousand dollars a month, or, you know, 5,000 and $20,000 a month, whatever whatever's appropriate for you, but you need to know where to set the floor and the ceiling. And that's where I think questions, number one and four can really help. If you ask them verbally in customer interviews, they will help you understand where to set that scale so that when you develop your survey, whether you're using Qualtrics or some other product like survey monkey, you'll have a good starting point for that. Kathleen (23:20): So I did ask those questions, got some really great answers. And I was able to kind of like put that together into an analysis in order to come up with like, Hey, we need to be within this range. We know that based on these conversations and the other great thing about the customer interviews is you can ask why. So I had some people say a certain, you know, upper limit for pricing. And then they explained like, Hey, the reason I said this upper limit is that that's similar to what we pay for this other tool. And every single person in our company uses this other tool, but with your tool, we think only one department would use it. And so paying more for a tool that only one department would use would be much harder, you know, in comparison. So that was just fascinating. Kathleen (24:05): It was really interesting to understand the why behind some of the answers. And so if you do these customer research interviews and you get some of these pricing answers, I encourage you to dig in and ask why that's where the gold is. So then lastly, I also, in these interviews showed customers a loose product roadmap. I, I shared with them over the next nine months. You know, these are 10 to 12 features that we're thinking of introducing to the product. If you could choose only three of them as being most important to you, which three would you choose. And that was also a really interesting exercise. It helped me understand, like, you know, what really do customers want out of this product? Where do they want to see it go? And then even more importantly, I asked, what's not on here. That should be so interesting. Kathleen (24:54): You know, not on here in terms of product features, product roadmap items. It was so interesting because almost everybody answered the same thing. Like we had missed. We had missed a thing that in hindsight seems so glaringly obvious, but we never would have caught it where it not for that question. And so that was incredibly valuable, even just on top of the pricing insight we got. So that really kind of sums up the pricing interviews with customers. I think the last thing you do in those meetings is you give them an open forum. Hey, any other feedback you have for me? Any questions you have, anything you think I should know, it's just a wonderful opportunity for some back and forth for you to understand, you know, what's happening with your customers, how they're experiencing your product, what their pain points are, what they love, what they hate, et cetera. Kathleen (25:41): I did I think it was between five and 10 of those 30 minute interviews. And that gave me a really nice small data set, but a consistent data set. The feedback I got was consistent, which was really helpful going into structuring the actual van Westendorp survey. So in this case we settled on what was called a sort of a three part tariff, which is like a combination of a fixed fee plus a variable fee every month. But it also included a base amount of let's call it usage in the fixed fee. So if they exceeded that there might be an overage charge and there are a variety of reasons for that. Partly, you know, we felt that the fixed fee component should be value-based because we wanted it to convey the premium nature of our product. We wanted the variable fee to be based on a volume metric so that it would scale with customers and, and they would as though it was worth it to continue paying for the product as they grew. Kathleen (26:49): And we wanted pricing to incorporate elements of a tiered approach by providing customers and higher price brackets with premium feature sets. So it could be more support or other value added features like enhanced reporting, things like that. That was, that was what we went in thinking three-part tariff. So then, then we needed to segment our customers. And you know, we, again, this is where your competitive research can really come in handy. But we, we decided to segment them based on order volume, you know, the number of orders they process every month, which was sort of a proxy for revenue, which is also kind of a proxy for, you know, stage of growth, if you will. And we, we did a lot of research using, you know, publicly available kind of database information on how many companies in our addressable market fell into each of those price buckets so that we could see like do these pricing segment sizes make sense. Kathleen (27:53): And a lot of that information you'll find whatever industry you're in. It's very publicly available with all of that. Then we went out and did the survey, and of course the survey was those four basic van Westendorp questions that I explained earlier, but then it also had other questions I threw in because I simply wanted to know the answers to them. So I wanted to be able to segment people's answers based on their company size and some other demographic criteria. So I asked them for how many orders they processed every month, that would give me a sense of which of our customer segments they would fall into. I asked what their job title was, what their job function was, or are they marketing? Are they finance? Are they sales, et cetera. And all of those questions super helpful. Then I asked them a few other questions that had to do with whether they were a good fit for our product, but in any case, we got the results back. Kathleen (28:49): And I think we, I want to say it was, it was, you know, thousands of answers which was really helpful and we processed it and what's great is on the internet. There are actually Excel spreadsheet templates that you can download that do van Westendorp analysis for you, and they will show you where your pricing sweet spot is. So as a result of this, we literally knew exactly where we needed to land with pricing. And then it was just a matter of assigning that pricing based on customer tier and coming up with our feature sets for each customer tier so that they felt differentiated. Sort of the last question we had to answer was, should this be a monthly subscription or an annual one? And we started out with it as a monthly subscription, because that seemed to be what was most in our marketplace. Kathleen (29:43): I'll get in a minute to why we've changed that in what we're playing with, but we felt like monthly would help to, you know, help us focus on new customer acquisition, which is what we were optimizing for at that moment. Versus, you know, later down the line, when maybe you're optimizing for reduced churn, when annual contracts can be really attractive. So there are a lot of different considerations there, but I think you need to look at what is your competitive set doing? What is the customer going to expect? And you know, honestly, like what can you get away with? Like, I know a lot of VCs like to see annual contracts because there's more revenue predictability. And especially if you're going out to raise another round of venture capital funding, that might be really important to your business. So sometimes it has nothing to do with the customer. Kathleen (30:30): And it has a lot to do with like positioning yourself as an investment target. Now that has to be balanced with customer needs because you can't, you can't structure pricing fully in favor of investors in a way that would harm your ability to acquire customers, but they're, they're all things to consider. So we made that decision and then honestly, you know, when you, once you've kind of quote unquote, settled on pricing, the most important thing to understand is it's going to change, right? You will have gone through this massive exercise and feel like you've accomplished so much. And you know, you pat yourself on the back and you go to market with pricing, and then you're immediately going to start to get impact from the market, right? As soon as you start to try to sell, and you begin talking about pricing with people, they're either going to love it, or they're not. Kathleen (31:15): In our case, we went, you know, we knew we were going to need to change it, but we wound up changing it much more quickly than we thought we started getting immediate feedback that people either didn't understand the pricing or it wasn't exactly what they would prefer. And so we did adjust not so much the amount of the pricing, but how we were determining our variable fee. I think it started out as a percentage of revenue, the customers revenue, and we switched it to being a percentage of their monthly orders or based on a percentage of their monthly orders. It just was a metric that they could wrap their head around more easily. So, you know, your feedback could be different. Somebody might say that's too expensive or that's, you know, that seems really cheap. Is it really worth it? Is it good? Kathleen (31:56): Is it any good? You, that's why a pricing committee is so important and that's why it's so important to have multidisciplinary people on your pricing committee so that you start in the beginning, you meet once a week after you launch your pricing, you meet once a week and you get sales feedback immediately. What are you hearing in the market? What are people saying on your sales calls? And as soon as you start to see consistent patterns, a feedback, that's when you can test different variations to pricing. This was one reason we did not publish our pricing on our website in the very beginning, because we wanted to retain the ability to test different pricing models in our sales conversations. In general, I'm a huge fan of published pricing, but this is a great reason why in certain cases you might not want to do it. Kathleen (32:43): So in the beginning, test those different pricing levels, structures, et cetera, get it to the point where you're really happy with it and you feel comfortable with it, and then you can always publish it and, and then you can still adjust it once it's published. It's still easy to do. It's just that you can do it much more quickly and nimbly in the beginning if it's not published. So that is a, a very quick overview of how I approached pricing. I have a huge swipe file on this, including, like I said, sample customer, interview decks and links to articles on van Westendorp, pricing methodologies. I'm happy to share all of it. You know, when I first started this podcast, it was all about helping people learn how to get better results from their marketing in a way that was really actionable. Nothing drove me nuts. Kathleen (33:35): Drive drives me nuts more than going to a conference, sitting through a session that's supposed to be educational and coming out and feeling like somebody talked all about why to do something like in this case, it would have been like why to do pricing. Or why do you use the van Westendorp method and not how to do it? Like how is so important? We're all under tremendous time pressure. We all need to produce results. So we all need to know how to do things. So I hope that this was helpful to you. And if you do think that my swipe file could be valuable, like I said, tweet tweet me at work, mommy work. Or if you're not on Twitter, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. And I will share all of my resources with you. And hopefully then if, and or when you are made responsible for pricing, you'll have an easier time of it than I did when I first set out to learn how to do this. Kathleen (34:26): But it was a great exercise to go through and, and I'm grateful I had the opportunity to do it, and it made me understand so much more about our customers than I otherwise would have those customer interviews were invaluable. So with that I will just segue and say that, you know, the podcast is slightly over 200 episodes. Now it's been going for four years, which I can hardly believe when I really think about it. And we're at the point where I need your feedback. I want to keep going. I learned so much from my guests, but I want to do it in a way that provides value to you. So whether you're a longtime listener or somebody listening for the first time, I would really be grateful if you would just take a moment. And again, either tweet me or DM me on LinkedIn or email me if you have my email address and do two things. Kathleen (35:21): Number one, tell me what it is you love. And don't love about the podcast in its current format. And to send me the name of somebody you think would make a great gas too. I have not yet interviewed let's figure out who the next kind of chapter of great marketers are in the history of the inbound success podcast, and let's do it together. So with that, thank you so much for listening. I, you, the fact that you dedicate, you know, 30 to 60 minutes of your week listening to this podcast, it means so much to me and I truly hope I'm delivering value to you. Have a great week. Thanks for listening. Leave a review. If you haven't done so already and tweet me at work, mommy, work. If you know somebody else who's doing kick marketing, cause I would love to make them my next guest. Thanks for joining me.

    Ep. 206: How marketing helped Planful thrive during COVID, ft. Rowan Tonkin

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 2, 2021 44:24

    What happens when you take on a new role as CMO and develop a new marketing strategy, only to have a pandemic hit just months later? This week on the Inbound Success podcast, Planful CMO Rowan Tonkin talks about his experience since taking on the role of head of marketing at Planful. It all started with a complete rebrand (including a company name change) that was rolled out at a company meeting in January 2020, just prior to the onset of COVID. Rowan explains how a focus on the customer, and their needs and pain points, helped his team determine how and when to shift their marketing strategy, and he talks about what it means to create a new category (including why it's so important that your competitors embrace it).  Planful's ability to remain nimble and adapt to their customers' changing needs helped fuel significant increases in pipeline and revenue, much of which was driven by organic and branded search. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the Planful website Connect with Rowan on LinkedIn Follow Rowan on Twitter Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is Rowan Tonkin, who is the CMO or chief marketing officer at Planful. Welcome to the podcast, Rowan. Rowan (00:27): Thanks Kathleen for having me. Really excited to be here. I've listened to lots of episodes of inbound, and I'm really glad that I can, I can actually be on the show. Kathleen (00:35): I'm really excited to have you here. I think you have such an interesting story, especially in the last few years, and I can't wait to dig into it for listeners. Before we do that, maybe take a moment, introduce yourself, tell us who you are and your background, and also what Planful is. Rowan (00:52): So firstly, you may notice from my accent, I'm not American. I grew up in Australia in a little place called Woolongong, which is about an hour south of Sydney. And I actually started my career in, in technology in Australia, working in customer support for a marketing company back then we would provide services to agencies and white goods and brown goods manufacturers to basically get the best images for, for, for catalogs, right, for, for the things that we all receive in our, in our letterbox. And and that turned into a MRM space where I worked in pre-sales. So for those that are familiar with MRM, it's kind of like the old Asana and Monday.com and helping marketers do all that project management, budget management, things like that. I moved to London for 10 years selling MRM software, working with lots of marketers over there. Rowan (01:44): My role was increased sales and customer success and doing actually implementation work as well. And I managed to convince myself that product marketing was actually where I had most fun. So I joined product marketing and and have been in the marketing space ever since. I'm now at, at Planful. Planful is a financial planning and analysis platform for finance and accounting professionals. We basically help finance professionals basically become super agile in the way that they work by getting them out of spreadsheets and getting them into a connected and collaborative platform. And you know, my background in marketing planning, if you will, helping marketers manage their budgets has kind of translated into me telling the stories of, of those finance professionals and how they do their work for, for all of us. Right. If you think about the team of finance you know, there's the accounting team that are recording everything that happened and there's fantastic FP and A teams that are kind of helping us trying to figure out what will happen in future. Kathleen (02:47): Yeah. And speaking of what has happened and what will happen, you joined the company, was it in 2019? Is that right? Rowan (02:54): In September of 2019. Yeah. Kathleen (02:56): Yeah. So, you know, at interesting time and I know that you came on board and there was a lot of change already happening in the company. And you proceeded to, to make some really significant changes on the marketing side, and this is all happening, like on the eve of COVID, it's crazy. I say 2019 and that feels like a really long time ago, but, but it really wasn't and a lot has happened since then. So let's actually rewind the clock and start when you came in and, and what was, what were you setting out to do and what was the scenario when you joined? Rowan (03:31): Yeah, sure. So Planful had been actually called Host Analytics before that. And many of your listeners may know of Host Analytics. And we were acquired by a private equity firm in December of 2018 and they went on the search to to find a new CEO and they found someone that I'd worked with before. Grant Halloran. And Grant joined as CEO, I believe like 1st of July or something like that. And in 2019, 3 months later, he brings me in and had devised a lot of the strategy. And the strategy that we were going to to execute upon was to really focus on segments specific segments. So what we call the lower mid-market and the upper mid market and selectively play in the enterprise, right. And, and traditionally, you know, Host played across all of those segments. So we really wanted to focus. Rowan (04:24): The second thing that we wanted to do was reposition the company. The world of FP and A, and the space that we play in has a category definition called enterprise performance management or, or corporate performance management. The funny thing is only analysts talk about that. Buyers don't call it. They call it FP and A software or planning, budgeting, and forecasting. They don't, they don't call it CPM or EPM. And so and then unfortunately for Host Analytics created by Jim Eblen back in 2001, the word Host and Analytics has changed a lot in that time. Right. And so really important to us that as we repositioned, we decided to change the company name. And when you think about doing that, that's a really intense exercise. So we decided to just put the guard rail of let's do it in 12 weeks. Kathleen (05:17): Ripping the bandaid off. Rowan (05:20): Correct. Yeah. And, and so actually we did that at our company kickoff. We everyone walked into the company kickoff in January at San Diego all of the swag. Yeah. And, and everything was branded Host Analytics. Everyone got their gifts as Host Analytics in the keynote, we dropped the big reveal, switched to Planful and all the signage and everything had been changed outside the room. And everyone had new swag bags and everything like that. And at the time we, we repositioned the company to, from, from enterprise performance management to what we continuous planning. And that's now the kind of category that we, we have tried to define if you will. Now as you do that, you want to create new campaigns and new things to go to market with. And we did a lot of that and continuous planning sounds great now, after everyone's been planning for the last 18 months, but back then it was a new concept. Rowan (06:20): And we were trying to evangelize that concept and created lots of great top of funnel campaigns, ready to launch posts. That event had them live for six weeks and then the pandemic hits. And we're sitting there with this fantastic campaign that was beautiful for the moment. Beautiful for the time, very positive, very uplifting, very empowering for our audience. But as soon as the pandemic hit, that's not what they want to hear. Then like they're in, we call it the ambush they're in the ambush mode. If you think about what your finance team may have been doing in the middle of March, it was trying to figure out, are we going to thrive, survive cashflow. Kathleen (07:03): It went from, I imagine, continuous planning to crisis planning. Rowan (07:06): Effectively. Yeah. Cashflow forecasting became, you know, scenario planning. What if analysis became the, the top use cases, if you will, or the top things that finance professionals wanted to care about. Right. And capital management, liquidity, all of those things. And and so we're sitting there with this fantastic campaign that we've spent lots of money and worked with some amazing agencies on. And and the, the other thing is our audience. We're just in a bunker trying to figure out what's going on. They didn't want to talk to us. So we went very like many companies, we went very much into support mode, right? How can we help our audience through this? What can we do? And did a lot of those things, built communities, hold weekly meetings, you know, how can we support? You tried to educate them on, you know, different ways that they could use the platform. Rowan (07:59): And and, and internally I, I, I converted my product marketing team to a research analyst firm, you know, who will survive, who will thrive and, and how can we go and target those people and educate them on what we do, but the message just wasn't right. You know, selling and telling the story about continuous planning in the middle of that environment, wasn't what people wanted to hear. And so we spent you know, we spent probably too long trying to continue to evangelize that, you know, the, the commitment and consistency of like, oh, we put this great thing together. Let's just keep doing our work. Kathleen (08:39): Gosh darn it, we planted our flag in the sand. Rowan (08:42): Exactly. And so you know, I had a conversation with Grant one day and I said, I just don't think like, this is the time to, or this is the place to be pushing this message. And and, and we thought back to kind of core marketing principles, and many of your audience will know about, you know, the five stages of awareness from, from sports. Right. And so we looked at that and we said, well, where is where is continuous planning fit here? Right. Well, it fits for the most aware people are customers or people that have bought this technology before, and they really understand it. So we can keep pushing it to that audience for the completely unaware per person. It makes, it actually makes sense as a thought leadership play as a play around storytelling and, and actually evangelizing that. Rowan (09:30): But for the people in the middle, right, the people that we're actually trying to get to buy or get you know, get into our final or convince them to buy versus a competitor, it didn't work because they were trying to figure out, well, actually my pain point is not continuous planning. I kind of, you haven't really even explained what that means, what that is, how that works, you know, where am I on that journey? They want to know, how can I do scenario management? How can I do cashflow forecasting? Can I do direct method, cash flow, forecasting, or indirect method? Where are we with our, what if scenario analysis and, and those types of things. So what we did was we stepped right back and said, all right, let's create a use case strategy. Very tactical, very much at the pain point level of, of what our audience is going through. Rowan (10:22): And so, you know, as, as all businesses where, you know, we're going through, what's going to happen for us. And, and actually coming out in the back of you know, that first initial ambush, we were hitting record pipeline numbers in kind of Q3, right? Amazingly everything was going well, we had this use case campaign. It was going well, what we did tactically for that campaign was create landing pages all around. Those specific use cases, I actually used the pandemic. One of my strategies as I was planning to come to, to plan for we we'd been very much a lead acquisition company. And I wanted to use the reposition and that mode to, to move the market into demand creation mode, as opposed to lead acquisition mode. Now it was kind of good because everyone was just so focused on, you know, how many opportunities are we getting every day into our, into our funnel. Rowan (11:23): And so effectively, I was able to turn off every MQL report that we ever had which is great. And now no one really asks me about MQL. They're always asking me about, you know, opportunities. And so I was able to use that time to transition away from, you know, classic sales and marketing, talking about MQL calls. Well, now we're talking about pipeline creation and, and what we call, you know, stage one opportunities, S ones. And so during that period, I was also trying to shift our strategy away from very much, you know, purchase nurture leads, right? And, and then hopefully that they convert over time. I wanted us to move to a, build a brand, build awareness in the market and, and, you know, bring them to us. And and, and over that time, that sort of started to happen which was great. Rowan (12:18): And, and we saw the results of that in Q3. And then as the second wave of the pandemic came again in Q4 and Q4, for those that don't know, every finance professional is about to enter their either favorite or their worst time of the year planning season. And so again, you know, these people had been planning for so long Q3 was pent up demand, and then Q4 became a really hard time for us as well, because, you know, you're starting to see people get back into their planning season. And and, and, and now we're back into that mode of just really accelerated growth. I mean, we've, we've hit all of the kind of records that we would want to be hitting as a software company this year, so far growing like crazy, which is, which is really fun. And a lot of that is off the back of the fact that we really just stepped back to basics and created these use case use case plays. And so, as I was saying before, it's a landing page. It's a, an ungated demo on that landing page. It's having case studies on each of those landing pages. It's, it's the social proof inside of that. It's telling a story about how you go from use case to use case and the value chain that is associated with that for someone when they buy a platform, right? Because like most technology, we're a platform. You can do lots of things with it. Kathleen (13:40): So I have so many questions for you. Going back to the beginning, you talked about coming in and the company being founded in the early two thousands and being called Host Analytics. And what had changed in the time from when it was founded to when the PE firm bought the company. And it was funny, you, you said something along the lines of like the meaning of Host had changed. And the first thing that popped into my head was, was it that Airbnb happened and everybody thought, you know, is your company about analytics for like hosts who rent their houses out? Or like, what were you alluding to there? Rowan (14:18): Yeah, actually we'll say, let, let me start. So Host Analytics and the name was, so Jim Eblen founded the company, created the name. Back then we were taking a box into someone's office and hosting their financial analytics for it. Right. So very literal and, and Host actually means army of angels. And so that was another reason for the name, you know, the army of angels are coming to help you with your finance department. Now, you know, fast forward to 20 where hosting is now all about service providers, right. Or in your, in your mind, Airbnb? Kathleen (14:59): Well, certainly not on-prem software. Rowan (15:01): Yeah. Yeah. Correct. And actually host was the first FP and A platform, EPM platform to move to the cloud. So I think we did that in, in 2011, 2012. And and then there was a race for, for cloud financial planning platforms you know, Anaplan and, and Adaptive Insights and some other other companies came along. Rowan (15:25): And so there was this, you know, a big race for, for people to, to move to the cloud from the on-prem world. And and so Host was a big part of that, that, that race and that shift from on-prem to the cloud. And unfortunately though, like, you know, if you sit back in the middle of 2019, and you're calling someone in finance, and you say I'm from Host Analytics, the first thing that I think of is maybe Airbnb analytics, depending on their industry, or most of the time it was what you're going to analyze my cloud service usage or something like that. Like, they, they kind of be like, actually there was this cognitive dissonance that people would have, and ultimately they wanted us to like, they're like, oh, you should speak to it. This is, this is not for me, I'm in finance. Why, why are you trying to talk to me about hosting and analytics? Like so that was the major trigger there. In terms of what had changed is frankly, just cloud, on premise, all of that had changed and, and the term hosting had become synonymous with, with cloud cloud platforms, cloud software, cloud. Kathleen (16:38): Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. When I hear you talk about this, you know, the CEO was new, you came in, you were new, the company had just been acquired. And the it's the first big meeting of everyone. And you introduce a new brand and you start, like I said, earlier, you rip the bandaid off. Right. I feel like that could go in two directions as, as somebody who's been a head of marketing has navigated rebrands being the new people. If you don't play it right. It can definitely, I think exacerbate like friction, fear frustration, et cetera, amongst people who've been around for awhile. If they think, oh, this new person's coming in and they're changing everything and they haven't taken the time to like really understand us and, you know, kind of build consensus, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. Or it could, or if you navigate it correctly, it could really engender a lot of excitement and breathe new life and et cetera. So I'm curious, how did you navigate that in a way that it built excitement and trust and momentum and didn't cause friction? Rowan (17:45): I don't think you can do a rebrand without causing friction. This is my second one that I've led. And you're going to have naysayers. I think, you know, for anyone listening, that's contemplating a rebrand. You're going to have those people that basically say, I don't like the new name. I don't like why you're changing it, what's wrong with the current name, you're going to get all of that. And, but most importantly, you've really got to focus on you know, what's the intention and why are we changing it? We weren't changing the name for, for our employees. We were changing it for our audience, for our customers. Like they, they deserve a name that is more befitting of, of what they actually do. And so for us, when I think a couple of things helped us. Rowan (18:40): So firstly Grant and myself had come from this space before and we had created, Grant,was the CMO at one of our competitors and had created a category over there. And that company is doing very well and had gone public. And so there was a perception that, okay this new CEO is coming and he knows what he's doing. I'd also led rebrands before. So, you know, able to sit there and say, Hey, I, I also know what I'm doing as part of this process. So we were able to create some trust because it wasn't, you know, the first time it wasn't a first time category creating it. Wasn't the first time rebranding. Secondly we anchored the rebrand very intentionally on our customer. And at the same time we were going through things like a rebrand at a culture level, we had a new chief people officer and she's out building a new company values, right. Rowan (19:40): For the new new company and our number one value is customers. So as you think about that, we're able to anchor on, okay, well, we now have our new values and isn't it befitting for our customers to have a name that recognizes them. And if we think about financial planning and analysis folks, they are Planful. It's a real word. It means to be rich and methodical and full of plans. And that's what our buyers and our audience and our customers are. They espouse that every day. So that was really the way that we tried to overcome a lot of that by, by making it or intentionally making it about other people, other than us, it wasn't us trying to rebrand the company. Cause we, we like rebranding companies. It's very expensive to do. It's very hard to do, and it creates lots of friction and you know, lots of people, you know, people believe and perceive that there's lots of brand equity as well. Rowan (20:40): Right. And so lots of people had those questions. Well, what about, you know, we're an 18 year old company, what about all the brand equity that we've built up? And those types of questions are really important that you have answers, which is okay, that's, that is true. Yes. but actually psychologically people move on for a rebrand really quickly. They adapt we humans, we adapt really well to things and, and also we wanted to espouse the new vision for the company. Right. And, and having a name that fits that new vision was also really important. Kathleen (21:15): Now you have mentioned a phrase a couple of times that I want to ask you about, because it's a phrase that gets thrown about a lot these days in the world of marketing and that is category creation. And I feel like it's, it's almost become this very generic term that people use for a lot of different things. So can you just explain a little bit about when you think about category creation, how do you think about it? Why did you think it made sense to do that? Because, I mean, it's something I've looked at, and I know it's, it's, it's quite an undertaking and you have to go in with your eyes open and be realistic about what you're going to be able to achieve. And then, can you just talk a little bit about your strategy for doing that in this case? Rowan (21:59): Yeah, so, I mean, I may be quite simplistic in my view of category creation, but I think you need to just think of it from your audience's perspective, your audience needs to quickly recognize what do you do and where do you play in the ecosystem? And your definition of that category, if you will, whether that's creating a sub category, if you, if you've you know, read those books from the 22 immutable laws, right. If you can't create a category, create a sub category. The that's the simple way I look at it, right? And, and we had been playing in the enterprise performance management category, and when buyers are searching for for products, they're not looking for that they're looking for planning software. So the first thing that we wanted to do as we were going through this category creation and reposition, rebranding, the company, reinvigorating you know, changing the way that the company operated new segmentation, things like that, where it's to make sure that people could find us really easily. Rowan (23:08): And so if you think about that, it's okay, well, what do you do? Well, we're in the planning space. And you know, we also have capabilities, you know, you know, in our platform for, for accountancies and things like that. But the majority of people are looking for a planning platform. So we wanted to create a category inside the planning space that play to our strengths. And so when you think about planning, what we have is some capability in our product that allows us to do that more frequently than other competitors. So that's continuous, right. And, and that had already been coined by other analysts. So we were able to basically co-opted from them and, and then use it as our position. And, and so when I think of category creation, I think we just simply think of it as, how do I want my buyer to perceive me, what ecosystem do they want to think about me in? And and then can they find our USP inside of my category description of that? Kathleen (24:11): I like it. So it's funny that you, you, you phrased it that way, because one of my questions was going to be, when you set out to do this, were you hoping that, that, you know, analyst firms would build a quadrant around you, but I really didn't hear you say that. I mean, I heard you say analysts have used the term, but it sounds like success for you. Is, are customers using the term not so much is like Gartner using the term, is that accurate? Rowan (24:34): Yeah, that's accurate. I mean Gartner have changed in our category, right. So they have gone from FP and A to what's called XP and A, and they're going to have now two quadrants for us. Other analyst firms call it the enterprise performance management category still. Now we want them to change away from that whole term because that's, that's pretty old. Now it's about 30 years old as a category. And our perception is buyers just don't use it. Consultants use it you know, us in the industry. We use it, that buyers don't use it. They don't know what it means. So we'd rather, they yes, we want them to change it, but I don't necessarily mind what they call it. And yes. Do we, do we care about being in those those quadrants, those waves, those, yes, absolutely. Rowan (25:28): But it's not about naming, like trying to define the category for an analyst. I think the, you know, this is a it's a more mature market as well. So the analysts already have their perspectives of, of what's in the market. And so our positioning was, should never really have been about trying to do that for us, like at our stage, at our maturity of market. I think if, if I was at an early stage company where there was no quadrant, yeah. You'd absolutely be trying to get them to, to redefine or create a quadrant around you having been there before you, the other thing you have to do though, is you have to go and get your competition to also call it the same thing. So that becomes interesting. Kathleen (26:13): There's no such thing as a category of one. Rowan (26:16): Yeah, correct. Kathleen (26:17): Yeah. So, so one of the other things I wanted to dig into you, you talked about you joined shortly before COVID hit, you did the rebrand, you had all these plans, then the pandemic hits and the customer's priorities started to change, and their immediate pain points started to change. Talk a little bit about how that changed, how you approached your strategy. Rowan (26:43): So the first thing I think it's really important to recognize is prior to that, you know, customers had gone through their annual planning cycle, right. And they were in the midst of rolling out and trying to operationalize their 2020 plans, you know, finance teams or like, okay, well, we've just, you know, some of them hadn't even closed Q1 yet. And normally we all joke, you know, every, every annual plan is, is dead on arrival. Well, that is even more true of 2020. Everyone's plans had been thrown out the window for a finance team's perspective though. Their first thought was, how do we make it through like firstly, a lot of customers just delay payments, right? Cashflow becomes super important. So rather than have a net 15 on invoices, my new standard is net 60 net 90, and you're trying to hold all the cash inside of your business. Rowan (27:45): Everyone's doing it to each other. And so, you know, cash becomes king. And so one of the use cases that we can operationalize with our customers is cashflow forecasting. So firstly, we wanted to make sure that customers of ours that had an implemented that use case realized that they could do that. And the other thing that became really important was speed became super important. You know customers and prospects, aren't going to want to go through a big finance transformation in the middle of a situation like that. They want things to happen fast. So we created a package of implementation services. We call Planful now, right. Get up and running in less than 30 days, make it make the, the folks that do want to buy or can buy, make them realize that it's not a, it's not a 12 month ERP implementation or CRM transformation or anything like that. Rowan (28:43): So very much focused on, okay, what can we do for people? What can we do for them right now, if it's if it's an existing customer, how can we help them with, with those key priority use cases which were cashflow forecasting for them and scenario on what if analysis, you can imagine the, what if analysis that folks needed to do in in kind of March and April of last year, that's all many companies were doing was trying to figure out what if, what if, what if, and looking at it from all sorts of lenses. Kathleen (29:14): Yeah. And then I also loved the thing that really stood out from what you said to me. Cause I really believe this so strongly is about really focusing on brand and knowing that if you, it, it, it is very much a kind of a longer play. But knowing that if you build a really strong brand, the demand is going to follow, right. People love working with brands that they love and it fo it, it functions like a magnet to pull in the right leads. A lot of times though, and I, and I've talked to other marketers, who've experienced this you can, as the head of marketing strongly believe in the power of brand but unless you work for a CEO and and you are a part of a leadership team that also believes in the power of brand, you can get a lot of pushback because it can be very tempting for those people to say, no, we just need, you know, keep the MQL flow going. And sometimes during that pivot, when you're like really shifting your focus, sometimes things can slow down as you do that, but you have to kind of like do it, knowing that you're slowing down to speed up if you will. So I'd love to hear just what your experience was with that. Rowan (30:32): Yeah. So, so firstly, I think your key point there was having a CEO that understands the power of, of brand. And I'm thankful that Grant was a CMO that is a blessing and a curse for those that ever want to go work for a CEO who has been a CMO. They can get right into the weeds as well. And that can be, you know, not as enjoyable as you want it to be. But it does mean that they understand the power of the marketing machine and you know, Grant has very similar philosophies to me on, on that. Like he's done rebrands before. He's done brand refreshes. Really cares about the power of brand. And that's a lot of what we talk about. You know, position brand, narrative, things like that. We talk about that a lot. Rowan (31:23): And so as I think about going through that exercise, it was much easier, right? I didn't have you know, it was part of why I came was I knew that we were going to get to build a brand and rebrand the company. So that was part of the excitement of joining the company was, oh, wow, we're going to do this. This is going to be fun. Now I wish, you know, I wish the timing had been different because as I said, we had a great campaign ready to go. It was really fun. And we had, you know, all this spend that we wanted to put behind it, well, in the middle of a pandemic, you know, you're not going to get the same return for that dollar. Right. As I said, our, our audience was ambushed. So we pared back a little bit responsible thing to do, make sure that we hit our growth goals in an economical way. Rowan (32:14): The, I think the second part about brand that you mentioned is the leadership team actually also valuing that. And I think that's something that I was lucky to have. Here was people that understood that this is a transformation and to do the transformation we needed the power of a brand behind it, as well as the flexibility to to really go through that change. Now, the I guess the, the benefit of doing that through the middle of the year, like 2020 is, no one knows what the numbers would have been like before. Right. Like, you know, we talk about this a lot internally, like never compare to 2020 cause who knows what those numbers should have been or could have looked like. So we always do a lot of, you know, a year over year, but year over 2019 as well. Right. Rowan (33:07): Because that was a more normalized year. Yeah. So I did get the, the lock or the the challenge of doing that through a pandemic. And that meant that no one knew what the numbers would have been anyway. So I was able to focus on what we wanted to do, right. The intentionality of, you know, the power of that brand. And so there was no, well, we're expecting this many MQL this week, this month, and you're not getting them because we weren't expecting a normal period at that time. So that was actually I won't say luxury. Kathleen (33:44): It sounds like take advantage of those black Swan events when they happen. Rowan (33:49): Take advantage of a crisis. And so frankly, that's what we were able to do. And actually, that's, that's also, when you think about how you want to build that brand, we want to do it in the most economical way possible, right? Like when I worked for a PE company, I don't just have billions and billions of dollars to spend on, on brand. So we're able to focus on the places where building a brand actually makes sense. So I have a podcast like you have a podcast, right? We very much focused on organic social and doing that in a way that is, is really powerful for us. We focused on being more creative than our competition. So as you look at our advertising, you look at our color scheme, it's very different to what's out there and that's all intentional to, to kind of be a pattern interrupt for our audience. And so those things allowed us to, I believe, build faster. You know, a lot of our competition do you use blue, right? What's a safe, trusted finance finance colors, right? Blue, everything's good, no red. We're able to use color and creativity in a way that our competitors aren't using. And so that's how we're trying to stand out to our audience. Kathleen (35:03): I love all of that. I'm a huge fan of the pattern interrupt. And it's funny because I've always, I've always worked in B2B tech and my dream has been to work for a company where I can have the primary color and our brand be purple just because nobody ever picks it. And I'm like, the fact that no one picks it is why we need to do it. Like let's pick crazy colors and go with that. But I, you know, still working on that, the dream of purple someday. Rowan (35:29): Well, I'm getting to live the dream of purple and for those that ever want to know why, why purple. Well purple actually has association with royalty, rich and richness, and wealth. So it's actually a great color for a finance company. Kathleen (35:43): Yeah. And sometimes, honestly there doesn't need to be a reason, like just the fact that it's different is great reason. Right? well, we're coming close to the end of our time. And so I want to sort of wrap up this segment of the interview by just asking, can you, are there any like results that you can speak to? Like we talked about the journey coming in and changing things up and then having to grapple with the pandemic hitting and your customer's priorities suddenly shifting, like what's, what's been the outcome of all of this so far? Rowan (36:18): Well, so I think in, in a couple of key things, so firstly right now in 2021, we our, our pipeline creation to one ratio has increased by 5%. And, and well, not by 5%, it's probably by like 150% or something silly like that, but it's a five percentage point increase if you, if you compare the two numbers. And so that means we're getting high intent buyers coming to us. And that means our deal velocity is much faster. So, so that cycle of what we're trying to create with a brand, people come to us, giving us that momentum has absolutely worked. Our website traffic is up you know and it was 180% year over year, and it's like 140% year over 2019. And, and that is all organic. So not the paid stuff, it's not paid, that's driving all the website visits. Rowan (37:16): That's, that's organic traffic. Branded search terms are up, right. So people are looking for the words like continuous planning or Planful. And, and so that's really important to us. Ultimately for me, it's about it's about revenue and, and that's up, you know, we're we're about to have a press release soon. And, you know, our, our revenue numbers, sales, bookings numbers are drastically up like year over year, but also again, you're over 2019. And so that changes significantly that marketing shift, that, that fundamental shift is starting to have the realization now. And a funny blessing is that now also lots of other organizations are using continuous planning. And I, I suspect that's because everyone planned continuously last year. So we were lucky in the fact that we kind of coined it and owned it prior to everyone realizing that that's actually, it's the new, it's the new normal. Rowan (38:19): So everyone is planning all the time and it's going to be an interesting for us planning season, because for those folks listening in marketing, go and give you a finance professional, a hug, please, because they have been going through a really, really tough time, consistently planning, planning, planning, re-planning. And now they're about to go into planning season again, which means sleepless nights for them. And we really want to make sure that we can alleviate that. And I think burnout and finance teams is something that's going to really appear soon. And we're hoping to alleviate that for, for organizations. Kathleen (38:56): Amen to that, because I work with an amazing CFO, Josh Shenker at my company clean.io, and he has been continuously planning for, since I've met him and we are already in planning for next year. So everything you just said is absolutely spot on. So shout out to Josh. All right. Shifting gears. I have two questions that I always ask my guests at the end of every interview, and I'd love to hear your answers to them the first being I, you know, and you just really gave me the perfect segue, which is that things change so quickly in every industry, marketing certainly being one of them. You know, in marketing, we have the added elements of, you know platform changes, algorithm changes, regulatory changes, et cetera, all of which affect how we do our jobs. And I think most of the marketers I talk to say that staying on top of all that is one of their biggest challenges. And so I'm curious how you do that. How do you keep yourself educated and are there certain sources you turn to, to stay on the cutting edge? Rowan (40:00): I would actually counter that and say, I, you know, you've heard me talk today. It's been a lot about brand. It's been a lot about fundamentals. And so you know, I started my career very much in the tech side, always being like, you know, very big fan of Scott Brinker's MarTech slide, and always priding myself on knowing who was what and who was who and how it was all going. And then I couldn't keep up. You know, I don't think even Scott could probably keep up. And so what I found myself gravitating back to is actually more of the fundamentals, more of the psychology, more of behavioral, you know, behavioral understanding of buyers, psychology of things like color and words, and, and coming back to basics of things like copywriting. Now I have a great team, thankfully that stay on top of all of the technology aspects, but I also see the trends going away from more relying on that technology now, you know, with all of the Apple's privacy changes and impending, Google, privacy changes and things like that. I actually think coming back to basics is, is what more of us should be doing. And so I've been doing a lot more of that, like rereading the classics and you know, going in you know, a lot of kind of persuasion and reading a lot of psychology books which has been interesting, but that's what I've been doing. Kathleen (41:20): Well, I think that's, that's so smart and I agree with that. You know, if you solve for people, you will always win. If you try to solve for machines, the machines are trying to solve for people. So you'll just be one step behind the machines, right. So solve for the people. It works every time. Second question is the, in terms of this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular person or company that you think is really setting the bar for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days? Rowan (41:56): So I work with Eddie Schreiner at Very Good Copy. And I think Eddie, like it, I look forward to Eddie's email every week, right. So if I think about inbound marketing, right? Yeah. That's outbound, but I'm excited to get his email all the time. And so, you know, I think someone like Eddie is out there creating demand for his services, but doing it in a way where he's consistently educating me and my team and I'm sure his audience the other folks that I really admire right now is the team at Metadata. Some of their advertising captures my attention. We talked about pattern disrupts, you know, they're doing things that other companies aren't doing. And, and even though it's, you know, it's, it's MarTech and it's one of the things that I'm not keeping up to date with. They're using more of the core principles to actually get my attention. And so I would say, you know, the, the folks there at Metadata are doing really good. Kathleen (42:55): Awesome, well, we'll have to check those out. And I also love Very Good Copy. I get that newsletter and I'm a huge fan of it. So check that out if you haven't done that already. And if you are listening and you want to get in touch with Rowan, Rowan, what is the best way for somebody to do that? Where can they find you online? Rowan (43:15): Yeah, so definitely my LinkedIn is the best for business chat. My, my Twitter, which is @RowanTonkin is mostly golf and rugby. So unless you're, unless you're in that golf, rugby and marketing cohort, I would go to my LinkedIn and simply just Rowan Tonkin. You'll, you'll find a picture of a man behind a purpose. Kathleen (43:34): All right, fantastic. Well, I'll put those links in the show notes and if you are listening and you enjoyed this episode, please consider heading to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leaving the podcast a review. And if you know somebody else, who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork, because I would love for them to be my next guest. That is it for this week. Thanks so much for joining me Rowan. This was a ton of fun. Rowan (43:57): Well, my pleasure. Thanks so much, Kathleen.

    Ep. 205: What it takes to dominate organic search ft. Jeff Coyle of MarketMuse

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 26, 2021 55:28

    With search engine algorithms constantly changing and the level of content saturation on the rise, what does it take to create content that will both delight readers and dominate organic search? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, MarketMuse founder and Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Coyle breaks down the factors that search engines consider when determining how to rank organic content, and explains what content marketers can do to solve for search engines and the humans that will be reading your content. From pillar content, to visitor intent profiles, establishing authority on a topic, building site sections and more, Jeff gets into the nitty gritty technical and organic SEO details that factor into modern search engine rankings. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the MarketMuse website Email Jeff at jeff@marketmuse.com Follow Jeff on Twitter Transcript Kathleen (00:02): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Jeff Coyle, who is the co-founder and chief strategy officer at MarketMuse. Welcome to the podcast, Jeff. Jeff (00:31): Thanks so much Kathleen. I'm looking forward to the discussion. Kathleen (00:35): I'm really looking forward to this because I have a lot of guests that come on who are MarTech vendors. But not always are they from MarTech companies where I use the product and MarketMuse is not just a product that my team uses, but we love it. So, so we'll talk about that a little bit, but we're also going to talk about some really interesting things around organic content strategy and how you can craft a winning strategy, how you can really start to understand what the ROI of that strategy is going to be. So before we get into all of that, let's take a minute, and if you would tell my audience a little bit about yourself and who you are and also what MarketMuse is. Jeff (01:19): Yeah, sure. So I'm Jeff Coyle like you said, I'm the co-founder and chief strategy officer for MarketMuse and what chief strategy officer means, it's actually a role that I just transitioned to this year and I'm focused on some of our really not even yet released products you know? Real significant data innovations and also kind of horizon scan. So where is the company going? But prior to that, I managed both the product, data science and engineering groups and the marketing group. And now we have a CTO and a Vice President of Marketing. So I've moved on to do even wackier things. But I've been in the search engine optimization, content strategy and lead gen space for gosh, 22 years would be kind of a scary frame of reference. But I was really focused on anything that would lead to, you know, traffic coming to one, the site, and then converting it into something meaningful, whether you're a publisher, whether you're a B2B tech, you know, person or affiliate person, or you're just, you know, building content sites. Jeff (02:24): And you know, we're now things are so, so, so driven by quality and comprehensiveness. And it goes very well for MarketMuse and our mission, which is, you know, I, sometimes I say, you know, it's ridding the world of bad content. But the actual mission statement for MarketMuse is setting the standard for content quality on the web. And what MarketMuse really does is it gives marketing teams the information that they need so that they know who they are, what they're about, where they have, where they have strengths and they can build actionable plans and cut down on the manual work that people don't want to do. So whether it's the, you know, ideation phase or having to prove why on a pro on a content plan, I know we're going to talk about that today is, is a lot of teams go through their entire content journey with a business and they never have, they never put a why on a content plan, right. Jeff (03:27): And then all the way down to execution and our most familiar solution is MarketMuse Optimize which is, you know, you can put in a, a page, your page, a draft that's then published. A paragraph, some other URL you want. And it will tell you how well it's written from a standpoint of quality and comprehensiveness. And when I say that, I don't mean, you know, some sort of hack it's, it's really telling you if you were an expert and you were covering a topic comprehensively, how would you do it? And it gives you that juxtaposition instead of just giving you a, you know, make your title eight X D characters, and, you know, update this page tag, which as we know is, you know, only gets you it might get you the half of an invite to the party, but it definitely doesn't get you through the door these days. Yeah. Kathleen (04:18): The thing I love about MarketMuse well, and so I'll preface this with saying, so the way my team uses it is when we're creating new content for our blog or for creating new pillar content, we run the topic through MarketMuse in the very beginning to understand like some of the things that need to be incorporated in order to really optimize it well, and then also run it through later, just to make sure that we've done that. But what I really like about it is, you know, we've, we were all trained on how to, to do good organic content. We all understand SEO. And in fact, you, you used to be a HubSpot partner, correct? Jeff (04:57): Yeah, absolutely. Kathleen (04:59): As was I, and so this is another thing we have in common. But you know, and so we worked with clients for years on this kind of stuff and, and it's, there, there are many best practices out there. There's, and, and I think good marketers know that if you want to rank for something, you got to go out and figure out what's already ranking number one for it are the top three, and you need to make something better. Right. And the better, there are a lot of different ways to define better. I'm doing air quotes, which you can't see if you're listening. But the thing that I like about what you guys have done is it's one thing to look at a piece of content in isolation and say, is this good content it's entirely another to say, is this good content? And, oh, by the way, how does it compare to what's already out there that's ranking? Well, because that's really important. Like you ha you still have to do better than the next best thing if you really want to get found. And I really appreciate that. It gives you essentially a simple, stupid roadmap to creating the best piece of, for that topic on the internet. Jeff (05:59): Yeah. That's really the progression with our, you know, for, for people using artificial intelligence to accelerate each of the stage of the content creation life cycle. So whether it's the research, whether it's the planning and prioritization content briefs, which, you know, we can talk about more, you know, the actual writing and editing, you know, pre publish, you know, tuning and expansion, and then post publish optimization, tweaking, you know, regardless there's ways that you can make that a smarter process in a less manual process. And what you're speaking about is really that, you know, I want to make sure that I don't have any blind spots. I want to make sure that there, I know how I'm differentiated or how I'm going to be better for the pages that you know, for the topics that I care about and what the specific intense, because it's, it's important to not just copy other people whenever I'm talking about competitive analysis, you know, a lot of people take it in there. Jeff (06:57): They think it's just, we're, we're, we're doing what everyone else is doing, but it's good to know what those table stakes things are. So the things that you must do to tell the story that you're the expert, you know, I always like to use recipes as examples and say, you know, if you're, if you're making beer and you forget water, it's not really a great recipe. And, and, and so the, you know, a lot of these times you write stuff and you have a, you have a bias or your writer, or maybe they weren't as much of an expert, maybe your brief, wasn't very good that you sent to them. There wasn't a single source of truth that really got into the outline. And they're going to have significant blind spots. And so what we do is we build our recommendations by looking at every article that we can find about a topic, not just 10, 20 of them. Jeff (07:42): We're looking at sometimes hundreds of thousands of topics. And we're distilling that into an easy, you know, easy map to what it would mean, like what you have to do. And then some things that are maybe ideas that would differentiate. And then when you're building content briefs, which are, you know, outlines effectively for your writer, it's giving them those topics, but it's also giving them a proposed structure for the page. It's giving them questions to answer. It's giving them internal and external linking recommendations. So it kind of tells them the whole story. And the whole point is really that writer is an expert on writing and telling a, building a narrative. I want them to focus on that. I want them to focus on building a beautiful page, high production value. I don't want them worrying about what words they have to include if they, if they take that. Jeff (08:28): And then they expanded and add another section. Great. You know, if that helps the narrative, but my dream was always that MarketMuse would bridge the gap between an editorial lead, a subject matter expert, and the search engine optimization team who traditionally just throws a word at the writer and the writer's like, girl, you know, I don't want that word in my page. And how can you make that actually make sense? So everybody accelerates and then, you know, you're on that single source of truth with the writer. So when they give you that draft back, you are editing it west. Your trust in them goes up their trust in their collaborative desire to collaborate with you goes up nothing is worse than when you write it. You're a writer and you write a draft and you, it gets marked up by the editorial lead. Then it gets marked up by the SEO team, and then you get it back and you're like, wow, this, now this doesn't even represent my view or my narrative because it's gotten, so it's kind of hacked up so much. So what we're trying to do is really raise all boats by making that less abrasive. And, and what it ends up doing is it makes it, yeah, I was to say, I've seen that. Kathleen (09:43): Yeah, I've seen that. I mean, I have a full-time writer on my team and, and he would tell you when he hasn't used MarketMuse, like we come back with more edits. And so he's sort of been like, yeah, I just need to do it in the beginning and saved myself a lot of time. Kathleen (10:01): So, so I want to kind of like peel back some layers of the onion here, because the way I understand this and tell me if I'm wrong, but you've built this tool to effectively mimic what a human being would do if they had a whole lot more time to really do a super thorough best in class content strategy and kind of optimization process. And so, so we can talk about the tool, but like these, I always come at these conversations with the assumption, like not everybody can afford this tool. So let's back up and talk about if the tool is built to mimic that, what does that look like? Like today? Where, where are we are now given everything we know about how search engines work? What are those components of the best in class organic content strategy and optimization process? Jeff (10:53): It's a great question. Just to talk about it. And if you had to do it manually, because I think it really starts at the, you can start at the page level, right? And then dive all the, you know, go all the way up to the site. I'm doing hand gestures too. I'm originally from New Jersey, but we're on a podcast, so you can't see them. So I went up to the site level, but if you're also a publisher and you work within a publishing networks can be network level. And you also need to understand your landscape. The various workflows though, a lot of like events at the page level, if you're just working kind of in a box, and this is where a lot of outsourcing proposal based or outsourcing brief based workflows breakdown is that the writer has no context. They don't know anything about your site of that much. Jeff (11:45): There've been given a proposal and they write a page and will that page actually effectively fit into the structure, your site, funnel it up to the section of your site and the structure of your site and will it actually perform. So the workflows that we're liking, we like to do kind of solve all of those potential process issues. But they really start with, if I'm looking at something at a site level, I want to inspire someone to be able to prioritize. And how do you prioritize, like just what you're going to write or what you're going to update. Kathleen (12:22): Let's, let's pick a topic just to use as an example cause I think that'll help. It's definitely gonna help me to like, make this more concrete. So I'm gonna let you pick the topic. Cause you're the one who's having to explain this. Okay. Jeff (12:34): I'll give you a great example. And this is one that is a content plan in process for MarketMuse. I mean, we are avid users and so we identify, so we write content briefs, right? Content brief, you go search for content brief in Google. I hope we're number one. Right? But 99.9% sure we are. Right. And what we identified was using MarketMuse, that there were other intent profiles for people who were looking for content briefs, that they were landing on our pillar page for content brief, which is very informational. It's what is a content brief? It gives basic overview of why one would need one. But a lot of the intent profiles that we identified were maybe some more specific intent, like content brief examples were content, brief templates. We also look for different types of briefs right. Jeff (13:32): So it was marketing content briefs. It was creative briefs. And they were all finding this page. So we identified that we might have those other pages or those topics covered in other pages, but they're not the ones that are performing. So we're both identifying the gaps in that cluster of content. For these intents that we're getting to our page, we may be ranking very well, or we may write maybe ranking on page two or, or somewhere else for these other variants, but there was intent mismatch. So if I looked for content brief examples and I landed on this page, I might look at and go, okay, well this gave me a great overview, but it didn't give me examples. So I referenced that as an intent mismatch. And so one plan dimension that MarketMuse identifies and that you should always be doing as part of your process is do you have pages that people land on and then they're not happy? You know, it's not just reporting bounce rate it's did they make them, were they successful? Right. Kathleen (14:32): This exact thing happened by the way, I love it. Then we had an article that we wrote called what is influencer fraud. And all of a sudden we had this like 4000% traffic increase in a week on this article. And it was because there was this like related thing that it, it must have happened. The news. And everybody started searching on that and landed on our article. And it really wasn't what our article was optimized for. And so we did see an increase in the bounce rate, but then it was like, so we had to think through like, are these people that, that are good fits for us? In which case do we want to try and keep them? Or is it just sort of like, yeah, go ahead. You can go. Jeff (15:11): And did you, do you want to, do you want to capture that? Do you want to do something with it? Is it valuable? And so in, in our case, in this example, this intent mismatch it's, we need to go build out templates and examples, even maybe putting a content upgrade into this page that is, you know, download these top N content brief examples and, you know, maybe like ebook or so there's all these different strategic gains you can get by thinking about intent mismatch. That's just one example of ways that you can find situations by looking at a site and understanding where you have strong content. So one thing we use, we have our own metrics for authority. So we're basically telling you where you have authority on a particular topic. And that doesn't mean just, you know, you got a link, you got a bunch of links. Jeff (16:05): Authority is quite often misused as generic link data. It's not how the search engines calculated authoritativeness, their search engines calculate authoritativeness. I don't, I don't usually get into this much detail, but at the site section topic level combination. So just unpack that for a second. It's if you're familiar with computational power, it's a big O, M times N challenge. The only people who could even think about doing this, it's like this crazy permutation, would be people like Google who have this massive computing power. So they're calculating basically on this site section and this topic combination, is this person, is this entity, have they written great content on this topic? And that's one of the components of authoritativeness. So we do what we feel is the best job of getting you that data point. So, you know how well you've covered this particular topic on this section and then rolled up to this site. Jeff (17:07): And so we can confidently say effectively, what's your momentum on this concept? And that's your breadth of coverage? How much content you have, how in-depth and how well intertwined or interwoven or linked together is this content that's related to this topic. Do you have any really great standout pages? And then we can cross reference that against the competitors. So by the way, I'm comparing, I'm saying all this, because you have to do this manually, right? You have to know, like, I mean, if you want to go in and say, I've got 10 pages about cookies or what content briefs I've got, you know, I wrote two long form ones. I've got four support structure pages that just answer specific questions. I've got these many pages at this stage of the buyer cycle, right? This is the work of a content strategist. Jeff (17:54): You need to know where you're at, and then you also need to know your wins. And then we do that for all of your competitors. And we do it for this particular topics, competitive landscape. And we factor in off page factors like links, but that is not the dominant net number. And compare this to some traditional SEO practices that just look at links, they're completely correlative. And they basically say for this keyword, right, what is the link profile of the top end ranking pages? And they say, if you are within this range, you can have a chance. That's not good enough. It's not predicted you might as well roll dice. Kathleen (18:39): Not only is it not good enough, but I feel like of all the things that we've talked about, it's the thing that is the least within your control, right? Somebody else has to agree to link to you. And I know I'm on the receiving end of those requests all the time and 99% of the time I ignore them and delete them. Jeff (18:56): Well, not even that, it's just, it. Doesn't nothing about that. Read your content and tells you whether you written this stuff and no matter what, right, you there's the, the, the, imagine the graph is a crazy log logarithmic graph, right? Unless you're super mega powered at the top end, first of all, I'll give, I'll tell you a little anecdote about the top end of the power chart, which y'all, everybody needs to be thinking about this, something you said earlier that like gave me a little bit of a trigger, which I'll get into. But unless you are, you can't go out and write something about grapefruit seltzer today and then kitty cats tomorrow and guitars and guitars the next day you can't. Right. So if you're just looking at links, those links could have come to your site through a different section of the site. They could be about something else completely. It's not giving you any information about whether you can rank for this topic. Kathleen (19:55): Well, and I feel like at the end of the day, it's solving for machines and if there's one thing I've learned in my marketing career, which is as long, if not longer than yours, by the way, it's that when you focus on solving for machines, you set yourself up for failure because the rules that the machines go by will change. That is inevitable. And if you, instead, if you focus on solving for human beings and their needs, that is the thing that the machines are trying to solve for. So you're really like cutting to the chase and doing yourself a lot of favors by focusing on people and not machines. Jeff (20:26): Exactly. And longevity. I mean, it was another thing, a lot of the advice and the and the, what you hear about how this stuff works, comes from people who are, they don't really care about the longevity of their sites. A lot of them are affiliate marketers. I love affiliate marketers. We have a ton of marketer clients, right. And, but the thing is they're, they can be a whole lot riskier than you, if you're a B2B brand or a major publication, because if you screw up, you're a B2B brand, you can't just change it overnight and you have to build stuff that's going to have. And you're also thinking about the people part, that's why, like some of the SEO tricks, they, they bug me out because it's like, I actually, I might be able to do this a couple of times and build this operational practice, but wouldn't it be better if I had a team of my four writers and search engine optimization professionals and content strategist, all on the same page so that we actually launched 30 articles that were great, and we all liked, and we still like each other, then we did some crazy trick that was risky. Jeff (21:34): I mean, it just doesn't even, it doesn't even compute. And when we were talking about the doing things for the machines, the machines get smarter, that's the nature of the gang. So, you know, there's a lot of these, I was like web dot archive is my web.archive.org is my source of truth for the opinions and the the opinions and the thought leaders in the industry go back to their same pages and see how often they update what they say is best practice. Right. And so, yeah, if you have a, if you have a four hour break, go look at all of it and go back through these articles and look how they change over time, because stuff changes the best. So these, these tricks, you know, they don't last forever. And so I much rather build my house on a strong foundation. Jeff (22:25): And one that also creates harmony inside my organization, and nothing does that better than quality. And, and you, you know, that that's really, and that's where you're gonna end up getting your longevity from anyway. But what I will, the one thing I did want to mention and then we can dive back in is when you were, you said the top performing pages, when some of when, when those pages are in the top elite pool of sites, so are, you know, the dominant publishers in the world, the dominant entities, depending on what industry you're going for, they play a whole different game. They're on a, nothing, not even, they're not even playing a different sport, they're on a different field. They're in a different gravitational level than you are. So if you're copying Amazon, if you're copying you know, three letters, three levered, or three-letter publishers names, if you're copying Wikipedia, you're in for a world of hurt. Jeff (23:26): For so many different reasons, which could take, you know, a three hour podcast. But I see so many folks dive off the wrong end of the pool because they think that mimicking their idols is going to be the way that they can be successful in organic search. And it, trust me, it just doesn't work. And, and it's you know, when we're talking about predicting outcomes, what I'm trying to do is give advice. That's going to be dramatically more predictive than 50, 50, 50. And is this gonna work or is it's not and that's where the one thing I've seen time and time again, is, is mistakes made from, because a lot of the pundits they'll say look at the top three ranking pages that have in, in, and then do do it, ideally the skyscraper technique. Right. It's great. It's great. If those articles it's great, but there's a list of disclaimers. Like Kathleen (24:30): If their Alexa rank is, is 80 and yours is 15, it might not work that well. Jeff (24:37): Well, it's, it's just to say, make sure that they focus on the same intents, make sure that they're within the same cluster structures make a lot of things have to be cohort. They have to be similar in order for that to actually work. And it's it, there's too many gotchas in that in that, in that problem. And then also, you know, Google is getting so great at understanding the intent behind queries. And if you're optimizing for a topic that has what we call intent fracture, it means that a user is diving in and I'm like, oh, I'll give an example. Then there's an esoteric concept. There's meaning ambiguity. So I'll use the word shell, right? If I, I always pick a different one, but if you just type the word shell in to Google yeah. Who the heck knows what you're looking for. Right. Nobody knows there's, there's both meaning disambiguation, you could be looking for an actual thing you'd have on the beach. You could be looking for the company shell. Right. You could be looking for, you could have mistyped... Kathleen (25:47): Outerwear. Jeff (25:49): S H E A apostrophe L, you know, possibly it could be the outerwear. Right. and so what Google has to do, if you type in shell is it is saying, okay, fractured intent. I don't know, I'm looking at all the data I have. I'm going to present to this person based on a lot of detailed data points, who they are, where they're at their history, if they're in incognito mode and through a proxy, right? That's when you get them the most ambiguous, they throw out what they call their favorite intense, and they, it might be a blend of them. You know, if you wrote the word back, you know, these are things that it meaning ambiguity, ambiguity, but there's also intent ambiguity and intent fracture. So if I type in CRM software, for example, CRM, softwares, you know what it is, it's CRM software, but I don't know where the person is in their journey. Jeff (26:44): I could be what they may be looking for a definition. They might be looking for lists of software packages that they could be anywhere. So the way I like to think about it is how much fracture is in my query from the buyer journeys perspective versus ambiguity. And when you're just analyzing search results to look at competitors, some of those pages may be at different stages of the buy cycle. Some of them may be different meanings if you smush all those together and try to copy that, and you're in deep trouble, could you be creating, I've seen the funniest pages in the world, right? Where they, they smushed together two meetings of words. And like, there's a section about some people when they're thinking about bats are thinking about these flying, you know, flying animals, but other ones are talking about baseball bats. Jeff (27:31): And they actually that, and that's, that's that mentality, right? But it's just as bad if you're writing a content page that is not comprehensively covering the buy cycle, but you weave in concepts that are good for a beginner early stage awareness. And you also were touching on bottom of the funnel. You're creating the logical content. You're creating content. That doesn't make sense for someone to consume all in one place, because buying a, you know, buying a CRM package is not going to happen in 2000 words of reading. So if there's these, these, just these general concepts, and I love this because it dovetails well with our conversations, like how do I build great content? You build great content by understanding the client and speaking to all the possible levels of understanding they may have and covering the whole buyer journey and throwing it, the idea that you should create one page for each keyword out in the window, you create one package, maybe even a site section on this topic, if that's what somebody would need. So that every time anyone has a question about this topic, or they're at any stage of the buy cycle, you have the right page for them. Kathleen (28:47): Can you just define what you mean by site section? Jeff (28:51): Sure. so you may need based on where you are, based on your authority you may look at, and we have a metric in our system called personalized difficult. It's the laser beam for organic searches, if the deadly weapon. All right. And it tells you based on your existing authority, based on your momentum on this topic, right. And how hard it is to rank for this topic based on us reading all the articles that we can on this topic. And, you know, what's out there how much content you need to build. So we can actually tell you with the degree of predictability, how much content you need to make on this topic, where related topics in that cluster. So what I'm saying, the site section, I'm looking at this from saying, let's say I have no existing authority on this topic. Jeff (29:42): And it's a really hard one. I'm not going to be able to get away with just adding pages to my blog on it. It's not going to happen for me with any degree of speed. I'm going to have to devote an entire wing of, of my house to building a foundation on this topic, and then expanding on that. I just, I haven't earned it yet. I haven't earned the ability to just build a cluster. So I'm actually going to have to build out significant foundation on this. And that's a possible situation. One might be in it. It often comes up in a situation where someone wants to start to cover a topic, but hasn't gotten there yet. Is it, Kathleen (30:26): Is it like, are there structural things you need to do? Meaning is this building out like a sub-directory with that topic name, or is it more about creating, is it that sort of pillar content approach where you need to create the really long form, massive piece first and then build the cluster around it? Like what, how does that play out? Jeff (30:45): In, in an ideal scenario where so the site, the actual URL or the structure there's different schools of thought on that of whether it works or not. In the end, if you're talking, if all variables were taken out, kind of doesn't matter on that front, I like having topics, topics driven sub-directories in my instructors that I'm building out ideally and as long as they are smartly structured, if everything's bucketed in, you know, one pool of pages, it's still going to be grouped logically by the way that it's linked. And then the inbound links that those pages get, which also inform the search engines on what these pages are about. And cause every link passes, both, it passes a lot of information. It's information about the page that is linking to the other page where, you know, the actual node on both ends, the strength of those have been information. Jeff (32:02): And so when I'm saying site second, I just mean somewhere in a logical place. Yeah. And, but it's just, it gets to the sense of like what what breadth of coverage is needed with respect to your entire pool of pages. You're not going to get there. Like, let's say you have a thousand page site you're not going to get, and it's a, it's a big lift. You're not going to get there with a couple of pages. It's just, it doesn't mean Rome wasn't built in a day. It doesn't make sense that you're the authority on Gibson guitars on your personal blog. If you've only written three articles about Gibson guitars. And I see this all the time, people are like, oh, I just had to go out and write a cluster. They write a six page cluster about, you know you know, red wine. And I'm like, you are not the authority on red wine. I mean, and even though you wrote this great cluster, I can't break out of page seven. Kathleen (33:06): Oh, I will say the opposite can be true. Some of my favorite moments in my marketing career had been when I search a topic and I find no exact match results for it. And I'm like, yes, universe, you've handed me this opportunity. All I have to do is write one blog and I can rank, right. Jeff (33:25): That's the trick. You've absolutely nailed it. So if you go and that's where an intent mismatch is beautiful. That's where a no rank authority. So a no rank authority is where you can assess that a site has authority on a topic, but has no pages represented, has no ranking pages or is ranking very poorly with an unrelated page. Those that's your, those are your dream scenarios. That's what you get out of bed for, right? Because you can go write one page. Sometimes you don't even have to write one page. Sometimes you just have to add a section to an existing page, and those are really dream scenarios. And so those sweet spots, they happen all the time and they require a lot of work to find. And we've built technology that just finds them. Kathleen (34:15): Well and I think sometimes they require a lot of work, but sometimes they're literally sitting in front of you. But the quote, unquote marketing best practices give you, make you blind to them. And what I mean by that is I ran into this at my last company. We sold a, a product that had a very, very, very niche use case. And in most cases, when you learn about content strategy, like I don't care where you learn it. Usually when you're taught how to do a content strategy, you're told to look for keywords with a certain search volume, right? And yes, if you can do that and succeed, it means you'll get more traffic, a higher volume of traffic. But in our case, when we looked at the, the highest intent keywords for, for the product that we were selling, there was like zero measurable search volume. But, and oh, by the way, there was the only other source that was ranking for those keywords was the National Security Agency. Kathleen (35:10): Cause this was in cyber. But the thing is, if somebody is actually searching them, there could be 10 people searching a month, but those 10 people are like perfect, amazing fits for us. And you know, it was, we were a business to government sale. And so one contract was worth a lot of money. So it was like doing a whole content strategy around what effectively might be 10 searches a month was totally worth it. And fast forward now a year. And that company is getting a ton of really high quality leads that are leading to actual pipeline and revenue from that. But because we're taught as marketers look for search volume, I feel like people see that they'll do their homework and they'll say, but there's no, there's no search volume for this. And then they say, so I can't do it when, in my opinion, it's like, oh my God, do it cause nobody else is, right. Jeff (36:00): Preaching to the choir for search volume. And you know, search volume is a point of reference. But it is the most misused data point in content in, in SEO. And I always give a test for folks right on this one. And I, and I can walk through why I love that you've walked through this, by the way I call it the search volume illusion. It is, it is a, it is a blankie. It's a blankie for content strategists. It's a blankie for large enterprises because they say you can't write a topic that's higher, low that isn't over this, right. It's such a mistake. Kathleen (36:43): And the, the high search volume ones are always the most competitive also. Jeff (36:47): But it allows, it allows really smart search engine marketers to wreck you. If you can see that a competitor writes against Google AdWords Keyword Planner sort and descend by search volume and has a line, right. You can actually chop their legs out from under them with a good content strategy. It's about chopping down the tree. And so if you see that that's happening and you can watch that strategy occur, it is, it makes you so susceptible to competitive risk. And what, the way I always explain a great example of this is pick your favorite search volume for something you were successful with, right. Let's say it was 10,000 search volume and you got number one and your click-through rate on that page is you know, 10%, I'm just making a fake. So you're supposed to get a thousand entrances. If your prediction, if your, if your math and your guide post was right, you're supposed to get a thousand answers, go look at your analytics for that page. Jeff (37:50): And let's say that page is now getting 3,800 entrances. Well, you look at, then you're like, yay, that's a win, right? But what it tells you is that the frame of reference for using search volume was worthless because you couldn't come close to a predicted the gap between those 1000 and that 3,800. And that pool is called a term pool multiplier. And that term pool comes from adjacent variance comes from concepts that are one-time searches. It comes from maybe things that are intent mismatch, right? And you couldn't have predicted those. And the same is, goes for the opposite direction. And so when you're, when you're looking at pages and they rank well, they're also ranking for lots of other stuff that is trackable and they're renting for lots of other stuff that isn't trackable. The amount of intent fracture is that term pool multiplier. I have a huge article about this on my blog. I believe it's called keep search volume in the keyword research delusion or something. I love it. I love it. And so you go to check that out. It actually walks through how to do that process manually to prove your point intern. The goal of this piece is to prove your point internally, that search volume should not be your north star. Kathleen (39:07): Wow. I totally agree with that. You don't have to convince me because every time I tried to go after high search volume keywords, it's just, it's been a lot of work for very little pay off. And the opposite is true for low search volume keywords. So I don't know. That's, that's just been my, you got it. I mean, Jeff (39:28): You got for me, I just want, I want to set expectations properly. I mean, I, I, I've owned, you know, multi-million search volume tops positions for seven plus years, right? I've also given advice to B2B companies that an entire content strategy for their entire year is on stuff that's below 10 and it's either, you know, it has to be a fit for the, for the company. And the cool thing is knowing how much work you need to do to get that money, you know, to get, to get that money. You know, I mean, we had so, you know, good, another good example. You said you can give a lot of examples, you know, content strategy, right? I believe I'm still number one for content strategy. I hope I still have. Kathleen (40:17): That's a tough one because there's some really big guns going, Jeff (40:21): Right. And to gun down, somebody who has that much power, it's a different strategy. You have to do some of those things I was talking about. You have to pick them apart at the intent level, at the question answer level at the zero search volume level, they're giving away some of my tricks to build the foundation. They're not going to build, you have to know their strategy. You have to document what they're likely going to do, and that's painful. And that's really hard, but to win in the big leagues against the big players, you have to actually know exactly what they're going to do, where their gaps are. You need to know, did this writer leave and they were really good at this. So they're not going to update those pages. I mean, getting into that level of detail, which we have to, I mean, to beat off spot, we have to that's HubSpot was the one that was in the back of my mind when I was in there. Jeff (41:17): I mean, that's what we had and we, we're kind of doing it, the proof points, right. Because you know, how much actionable conversion do I get off of that? I don't know. But it's, it's one of these things where you have to think cutting your money, where your mouth is, and you got to think like them into to really get it done. Yeah. And you know, I was looking at a a customer of mine site yesterday, funnily enough, it brought me and it was a three letter word that is a common networking acronym. I'm not gonna say it out loud, but I said, yeah, a person I was speaking to this, this page has ranked for seven years on this term in the top five. And I said, and he also has another one of the ranking pages in the top five. Jeff (42:11): And we walked through and said, you know, the only way you will move on this high volume mixed intent keyword is to truly put yourself in the mind of the content teams publishing and you're going to have to do a whole lot of work and is it worth it? And then we walked through the way we're actually gonna make moves there, the way you make moves on head terms, isn't publishing against the yeah. It's publishing against the infrastructure. Yeah. And then the head term moves. It's the rising boat. You know, the rising tide raising all boats scenario and a lot of editorial teams that don't get it. They don't realize that that head term will move along with the mob. The mob is the rest of the, of the mob is the rest of the fleet. Right. So mixed metaphor. I could literally nerd out on this all day with you, Kathleen (43:07): But we're going to run into a time constraint, right. So so I mean, I think you've really covered the ground on a lot of the basic building blocks for how we should be thinking about content strategy and how to really like the David versus Goliath, if you're trying to do that, how to, how to approach it. Can you share, do you have any, like, just recent examples of having done this and what the results were? Jeff (43:31): Oh yeah. Have a few, gosh we work with so many teams and it, you know, some of them we can, you know, get into the details. So when we I'll give you a great example and it's going to be an upcoming case study. We worked with, and I'm going to have to be a little abstract with the company. So we worked with this company and they are one of the most prominent brands in this B2B technology space. And just an amazing team led by their, you know, wonderful SEO, wonderful content, wonderful conversion rate optimization team really understands everything, but they had a competitor who is an exact match brand name for the term they were firing for. Right. And, and they weren't. Right. So you know, so let's just say you were, you know you're you're, you were called Halo, right. Jeff (44:35): And the competitor's name were remote speakers and you were trying to rank for remote speakers. So they had this, then they had a goal and they were trying to outperform for this query and the opposing company's brand within it. And they also internally had a problem where they wouldn't allow their team to publish for, I think it was below 400 search volume. Yeah. And we dug out that route, tossed to the side, built up a huge infrastructure around this concept in bridge out. And now they outperform that exact, like exact match hybrid competitor. Right. Fun fact on that one, because we're anonymized, I can talk a little bit out of school, right. Is when this all happened, everyone got jealous internally. Right. And they want, they wanted some of the other, the juice from this. And it was like, wait, we'll wait. Jeff (45:36): But not all these pages are set up for you know, it's content upgrades and all this other stuff. And so I just love that because it's like, okay, you've moved on from this one challenge of visibility. And now you've moved on to this next level of maturity where it's like, all pages grow the business. Now you got to figure out, once you got the eyeballs, now you got to figure out how to monetize it. You got to figure out how you look for those intent fracture situations. And we see it. That's a great example of one where, you know, you did the time, it felt hard. But you're trying to get to that next level where, you know, I, you know, what is, is it is, it is a website I used to manage what is.com? And so many early, early stage awareness definitions that just own it. Jeff (46:27): Right. And a lot of the conversation was how do we get those people into some sort of level of conversion, right? How do you progress them? What I like to say is your content has to answer the next and the questions, not just this question, if it needs to be the source of truth, but it also needs to escort them across the journey. If you're in e-commerce and you're on a category page, that's your chance to present all the content you have. That is part of the buyer journey, not just a picture of the pair of socks. And that's it, that's the other piece of it. If this fits for any type of content, like you want to escort them through all you got and where that, that, that if you're in a pillar page, don't just think you are, you're escorting them across the entire inventory. You got to go back to your old content and update it. You got to do all those things so that when they land there, they truly know who you are and all that you have to offer. So many times I, I talked to the strategist, I land on their page. I can read it. I'm like, whoa, this is really good. That's it? Jeff (47:38): You know, and so often because they didn't give me their, they put their best foot forward. And that's what you have in a lot of these teams where they're not thinking about the journey and that they are escorts, they're Sherpas. And I don't want someone coming, reading my 3000 word article, and then not knowing that I actually have six other great articles for this. You know, that that's where you know, the user experience is so important and conversion rate is so important. So I love that. Kathleen (48:08): All right, we're going to switch gears and I'm going to ask you the two questions that I always ask all my guests. The first one being, you know, this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or individual that you think is really setting the bar for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days? Jeff (48:25): Oh gosh. So many. One person I'll call out. I like to call different people out whenever I get asked these types of questions, but one person I'll call out is, his name's John-Henry Sceirk and J H S, J J H S is his first three letters. And you can look it up. John-Henry Scherk Gowth Plays is his agency. If you've never read anything that he's written, you have a whole weekend and you will be 10 times smarter, that's on all topics and he just gets it. And we've been friends for a very long time. But I find so, so many people, like, unless you're in this kind of B2B content growth hacking space, you kind of, you, maybe you didn't hear about him cause he's not writing for a big blog, but I love everything he reads and everything he writes. Jeff (49:19): And yeah, J H S, he's a superstar and he's doing it. He wrote a lot of stuff about working with Notion lately. And really do, he just, he has his he's always ahead of the game. And I like to think I'm ahead of the game too. But like Dave, sometimes he's ahead of the game. I should interview for this podcast. Yeah, you definitely need to get J H. I'm happy to make that intro. But yeah, go check out his Twitter. It's, it's, it's really hot. Kathleen (49:49): Awesome. All right. Second question. Most marketers I talk to say that their, one of their biggest challenges is just keeping up with all the changes, whether it's an algorithm change or regulatory changes or best practices or new platforms, are there particular sources that you turn to, to really stay up to date other than JHS? Jeff (50:08): None other than John Henry? Yeah, there is, I'd say though it's changed for me over time and I rely a lot on the communities that I'm in and my mastermind groups and things. Because I'm like so overwhelmed. I have two small children you know, I run a business and, you know, multiple that says and I also, you know, my job probably is four jobs at MarketMuse too. So I have to rely on, I can't do it. Right. And so I really rely on my peer groups, rely on my team to surface things. I think if you have a Slack or something in your office, like have a learning channel, we do, we have a learning channel where everybody posts the stuff that led to information gain for them. Right. And then you have 10 minutes. You read what the, you know, in my case, the 35 to 40 people that I love so much what they learned from this day, you know, sometimes there's some dumb stuff on there, but it's usually really good, but, but also my other, the other community is the content strategy, collective slack channel, which is a community that we manage. Jeff (51:18): But also I'm in an entrepreneurs group called Rhodium. The Technical SEO Mastermind led by Pat Stox and a few others. But like whatever your space is, I think get into these groups so that, you know, you get their collective like hive mind impact because, you know, Twitter can be noisy. You could like be really hard working one day and miss a whole bunch of stuff like, and because you didn't do your updates and you follow 3000 people and especially if you're doing a lot of different things I think that that's key don't just rely on a few influencers to filter, like try to get a kind of a hive mind approach. That's the way that I'm able to do it and still keep my sanity. I still miss stuff though. Yeah, you're gonna, you're gonna miss something. Kathleen (52:08): You are human. Jeff (52:08): A big, big one for me is like, MarketMuse doesn't really get into a lot of the structural type analysis and of sites, but we don't do a lot of the speed and or core web vitals. And that's the hottest topic right now in organic search, other than, you know, content strategy and natural language generation, you know, which I'm in. Right. And I'm building products in generation. and the other one is core web vitals, but like, we don't do anything on it. So I've had to rely on like my, my crew really like, and get that from Haas MOSIS. And luckily, you know, a couple people that I mentioned, all that notably Patrick stocks, who, if you haven't read his stuff about core web vitals, just type in P a T R I C K S T O X core web vitals. It's the you now will be as smart as, you know, 98% of the SEOs in the world. Kathleen (53:11): I love it. There's some good resources you're dropping here. Jeff (53:15): Build your network and and just like find ways to give them, you know, a little bit of your time and you're gonna, you're gonna get to at least sound smart. Yeah. It sounds smart at parties, right. Or not be ignorant. Right, right. That's a good, a good goal to set. Kathleen (53:35): Well, this has been so amazing. If, if somebody is listening and they want to learn more about MarketMuse, or they want to connect with you online, what's the best way for them to do that. Jeff (53:43): Go check out MarketMuse. We have on our blog, it's it's an amazing blog. We have a content strategy crash course is kind of, it's like a huge walkthrough. If this is something new to you. We also have hundreds of articles that get into the details. Go check out that keyword volume, keyword search volume one from what we're discussing, but there's also a really cool, really cool ones on there about kind of myth-busting some common practices. Jeffrey underscore Coyle on Twitter. Jeff@MarketMuse.com. And I'm very active on LinkedIn, but please, please shoot me a note. DM. I answer everything. I love this stuff. I'm extremely passionate about it. I even will. If you give me, you know, your site, your page, I typically will dive way too deep into the details. So as long as you don't have thin skin, feel free to shoot me anything you want me to look at. I love it. Kathleen (54:35): That's an awesome offer. So I will put all those links in the show notes. So head there if you want to get in touch with Jeff. And if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, please consider heading to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leaving the podcast a review. That helps other people find us. And if you know somebody else doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at my crazy Twitter handle, which is @workmommywork and I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me, Jeff. Jeff (55:05): It was awesome. What a fun discussion. Cheers.

    Ep. 204: Maximizing your traffic to maximize conversions Ft. Jordan Mederich

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 19, 2021 42:33


    Outside of emails, landing page copy and offers, what are the levers that marketers can pull to get better results from their conversion funnels? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, DropFunnels Founder and CEO Jordan Mederich explains the importance of what he calls "building your house on rock as opposed to building it on sand" — or why it's so critical to nail certain fundamentals on your website in order to drive big results from your conversion optimization and lead generation strategies. In this episode, Jordan discusses how things like page load speed, social proof, and landing page design can all play big parts in boosting traffic to your site and ensuring that the visitors you attract stay and convert. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the DropFunnels website Email Jordan at jordan@dropfunnels.com Transcript Kathleen: Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth, and this week, my guest is Jordan Mederich, who goes by Jordo, so that's what I'm going to be calling you after this. He is the founder and CEO of DropFunnels. Welcome to the podcast, Jordo. Jordan: Really glad to be here, I appreciate you having me. Kathleen: Yeah, I'm excited to talk with you. I love getting into deep technical levels of marketing nerdiness, and I think that's what we're going to do here today. So let's start out by having you just do a brief overview of who you are, what you do, and what DropFunnels is. Jordan: Yeah, sure. And anyone who's here, hopefully we can give value and new insights, regardless of anyone who's just starting out, or you've been doing it for a really long time. So I've been in the marketing game for, I'd say about a decade, actually I came from the filmmakers' perspective and training, I was in very much the creative space. And I make commercials for a long time and had films produced on Amazon Prime, and we've been seen on all the big networks and whatnot. And I realized that there was this big switch that I kind of had to make from kind of the mass market branding, corporate level of marketing, and realizing that I was blown away and shocked by the amount of waste that occurred specifically in marketing, corporate level businesses. I did work for Sony and Verizon, I was like, "Wow, there's so much money, billions of dollars being spent on advertising with no attributable results from most of those marketing efforts." Jordan: And so I dove deep into the direct response marketing world, and I was building sites and whatnot on WordPress. So WordPress powers 34% of the internet, it's Google's number one favorite platform to rank. But it's also extremely technical. It's very powerful, in that sense, it can do a lot. But you better have a marketing or development team, a designing team, you better know what you're doing, you better have great servers and all those things. And so I was building new marketing funnels on WordPress, and building new sites in businesses on WordPress. But about six years ago, there's this resurgence, and it kind of started with ClickFunnels, and Kartra, and Kajabi. It's the sales funnel builders, hard coded platforms that made it more simple, I would say, easier to build your business on a platform and they had the psychology of sales. Jordan: So we know that sales funnels blow away as far as conversion rates are concerned any corporate website and can really help you to get new leads and sales. And so they had this psychology but not the technology. And I look back and I realized as I was making the switch from corporate marketing into more direct response marketing, WordPress really has the technology, but not so much the psychology, it's really difficult to build on. So a couple years ago, I was looking back and I said, "Why don't I just combine these two worlds? Why don't I bring them together and make it easy to have the psychology and the technology at the same time? Make an entirely drag and drop, remove the code and the difficulty," and so we're the first platform ever to combine these two worlds. And to give you unlimited sales funnels, your websites, your blog, all of your courses into a WordPress based infrastructure, so that your sales funnels can rank, you build true domain brand authority, your pages load at around two seconds, which is really powerful for both paid and organic traffic. Jordan: And it gives you the absolute strongest foundation to be building your marketing on outside of having a massive team of servers and devs and all of that if you're going to go build it on your own, DropFunnels is really the all in one platform to help make that happen. So since we launched in early 2020, we've seen unbelievable tremendous and very rapid growth, and we're breaking things all the time and re-innovating and reinventing what we want to see the marketing world to be like, and we're seeing some amazing growth there. So that's kind of the history of DropFunnels and where we are. Kathleen: Well, the first thing that stands out to me that you said is that you launched your business in early 2020, what a time? It's a lot to do business, wow. I mean, granted now what you're doing is mostly online thing, but I'm just curious, how were you affected by COVID? Jordan: So being online was a huge blessing for sure at the time and everyone who was already established in the online space pretty much won, everyone won through with that whole thing. Zoom obviously exploded, all these online companies did, and what I saw was a lot of people who were doing physical business or brick and mortar business wanting to move online and really struggling to learn how to do that, to make that happen. So for us, it made us step up our training and our onboarding processes, because we had to make it not twice as simple, but probably four or five times simpler to help them to get moving, because it's such a foreign game for most people. Jordan: I think this morning, actually, I had a call with a client who is very brick and mortar, physical business, and just even using the verbiage, the vernacular of sales funnels in direct response marketing is so foreign that it's more of an education play than it is a service or marketing play. It's like we have to help the world understand how to reach people online instead of physical business. But I think it was a wake up call. Kathleen, I think for a lot of people running physical businesses and having no digital presence at all, it's like, "Wow, this kind of stuff can happen like that, and when it does, if you're not prepared, it can sink the ship." Kathleen: Yeah. It's really interesting the way you describe that, because in my day job, I am head of marketing for a company that sells software into e-commerce. And we saw something really similar where, at least in the retail industry the data that I've read indicates that COVID sped up the shift to e-commerce by something like 10 years within the span of a year. So it was this massive acceleration, and you're right, a lot of people weren't really ready for it, but they were sort of forced to make themselves ready. And so it was an interesting time for sure, just to see the people who would normally not be the early adopters or the technology adoption curves sort of being forced into a place of discomfort and having to do things sooner than they otherwise might. Jordan: Yeah. And I'm super well clearly thankful for it, but in a universal sense, it's like we needed some kick in the butt. The industry, the marketing world, the business world needed a kick in the butt to say, "Hey, it's not 1992 anymore, you have to adopt these methods or you're no longer competing against the guy down the street from you, you're competing against guys like me who live and die marketing." And so when you move into the space, it's this new world of early adopters, right? It's now a new phase of people who have never done it and never had an incentive to do what they have to do it. Kathleen: Yeah, it's funny because I was going to say I said early adopter, or innovator, but those are actually the wrong terms, Because those people have already converted to digital. So this is the... I don't remember what the term is, the laggards, the laggards are now being forced to move more quickly than they otherwise might have. Jordan: Yeah, I'm glad. Yeah, because I think it serves them better, too. Kathleen: Yeah, agreed. Well, one of the things that I was really excited to talk with you about is just, obviously with all direct response the goal is conversion and there are a lot of ways to get there. And one of the things that you've talked a lot about is getting to better conversions by improving traffic. And I wanted to sort of open that up to you and hear your perspective on that and then maybe we can dig in and get a little bit more nerdy on it. Jordan: Yeah. So I think there are two audiences to speak to as it relates to conversions in the online space. So for people who are doing really high volume traffic to specific offers, it's really the small hinges that swing big doors and identifying where the key measurements to really make a big move and dial-in processes. So what we see for example, in every single study on the planet that's ever been done, you find that your page load speed is one of the biggest movers as it relates to your conversion. Amazon found that in their own individual test, every 100 milliseconds of latency could cause a 1% decrease in conversion. Obviously, their mass traffic mass, mass appeal, and I think a lot of people realize, "Oh well, maybe one second isn't going to make that big of a difference, because I'm not that big yet." Jordan: But you have to realize that if you ever have that desire to be big the time to fix it is right now. And as we spoke before in our previous conversations, that it's really the comparison of building your house on the rock instead of on the sand. Building it on the rock means starting from day one on a strong infrastructure where you have the best chance to win versus the house on the sand, which is like, "Hey, I can just get this going, it'll be fine for now, and eventually, we'll go solve this," or "Eventually we'll go make this." And I kind of liken it to, if I were to get married to someone and say, "Well, it's not that great right now but it's going to get better later." We don't know if things and everything will be better, right? It's just not the case and it makes it harder to solve a problem down the line. Jordan: Whereas building it on a strong, firm foundation, where it's fast from the get go... I always wondered, I asked the question, "How many sales are you willing to sacrifice because of one thing that you could control from day one?" So high volume, page speed is important, social proof is important. And actually, this is something to kind of nerd out on, which is probably good for both high volume, but also people just starting to get into the game, we find that in our marketing, specifically direct response, so direct Facebook ads or YouTube ads directly to the landing page, we find about 30... This is going to blow your mind, about 20 to 30% of our traffic who go to a funnel, we're directing them to a funnel not to a home site, they're leaving the funnel and often on mobile or desktop, they're leaving it and going to the root domain to go get more information. Jordan: So we're seeing that even if we have an offer, maybe it's a coaching offer, or a course or whatever that is, and we send them to that funnel, they leave and go to the home site and then they'll go back to buy again, or they'll go buy a different product. So we realize that for marketers who are just relying on a sales funnel, or that infrastructure, and you have no home base authority there's nothing there to go back to go learn more to establish some of that trust, you're losing between 20 and 30% of your buyers, potential buyers there, and only about three to 5% obviously, depending on the funnel are ready to buy right now, right? And so we're losing so much of this and I feel like a lot of the general answer to marketing is you need to go spend more on traffic, you need to go spend more, spend more, get more traffic, more traffic. Jordan: And I say, you're not maximizing the value of the traffic you have right now, you are hemorrhaging traffic, because they're leaving for whatever reason, to get their design, or the offer doesn't really make sense to them on the page so you have to retarget them. And we know it's true, that's why retargeting is so valuable and follow-up sequences is so valuable, because just expecting them to go to a page to buy right away, it's the smallest percentage of the people most problem and solution and product aware audiences who can actually take an action on that right there. So it's all these pieces, I would bet that anyone listening to this year, you could literally double your sales by not increasing your traffic at all but by maximizing the traffic you have available to you right now. Kathleen: So Alright, I have a ton of questions. First, and we're going to kind of try to break this down. The first thing you talked about was page load speeds. So obviously, everybody's got their websites built on different platforms and we can't control that. I mean, of course, people can change, but assuming everybody is where they are, are there certain low hanging fruit things that you usually see that somebody can do to immediately improve page load speeds? Jordan: The first thing you want to do... There's lots of tools out there, our favorite is gtmetrix.com, and you can run it directly through there to find out where you're at. And here's the benchmark, if you're over four seconds in total page load time, you're losing conversions, period. It's undeniable, every study on the planet from Harvard to Stanford to Google and Amazon, they've all done the studies, you're losing money, period. So when that happens it's time to take some radical action. Inside of that page load report you'll see a waterfall breakdown, and it'll tell you what's slowing down your speed. If you have some developers who can help you and your more advanced in that way, you can defer some of your scripts to load later, that can help, crushing down images to be a small file size as possible is one of the biggest movers, or eliminating images at all, if you can. Jordan: Backgrounds, don't have images in backgrounds, embedded videos can slow things down quite a bit as well. Kathleen: By the way, is there a certain image size that you want to target to be under? Jordan: Yeah. I don't think that there's a universal answer as it relates to what that would be. If you had one image on the page that could be larger than if you had 20 images and they all need to be under a certain benchmark. But generally pages that are over 123 megabytes in size, they're really going to start to load slowly, especially on mobile. And mobile is what you want to optimize for first. So I always say build with mobile in mind and then move into desktop, where it could be a slower loading experience because desktops can handle that. So images and embeds of videos and those types of things can can really make a big difference. And you'll really want to watch out for any external tool that you're depending on their servers, right? So here's an example. Jordan: If someone was on DropFunnels right now we're extremely fast, the average is about 800 milliseconds in load time, but everything you add to the page slows it down beyond that. So if you added a hot jar traffic recording tool script on there, that's going to depend on their servers. A Wistia embed is going to do the same thing, a social proof widget pop-up, a chat icon that you can click to chat. Now each one of these things you want to keep in mind can really help you with your tracking and your overall conversions. But again, you want to start as the baseline and say, "Okay, a page with nothing else on it, how fast can we get that to load?" And your goal is under three seconds, for sure. As of today it needs to be under two seconds. Kathleen: I was going to say, I feel like even three is too long, for sure. Jordan: It can be, for sure. Especially if there's no other tools on top of it, right? So your base page you want to shoot for under two seconds, and then when you add a tool on top of that what's the impact going to be in that regard. Kathleen: So say the name of that tool that you mentioned again that's a good way to test. Jordan: Yep. So gt, the letters G-T, metrix, M-E-T-R-I-X.com. Is a great place, throw in your URL, you can test from different data centers depending on where you are. And to get a complete breakdown... And actually, they've just optimized to be kind of based on the lighthouse code base, so it's more recognized by Google as to how they see page speed. Kathleen: Got it, that's interesting. Okay, so that was the first thing you mentioned. So definitely run your site through gtmetrix, and dig in and see what's slowing it down and where the biggest issues are, and that's step one it sounds like in squeezing the most juice out of the orange you already have, meaning the traffic that's already coming to your website. The second thing you mentioned, if I remember correctly, was social proof. Is that right? Jordan: So I think that's one of the easiest things you can do immediately. I think we're in this third era of marketing, where now that consumers are more knowledgeable, they have information at their fingertips that we've never seen before. So it's like the used car dealer type of comparison back in the 80s and 90s, you'd go to a car dealer, and you hope he doesn't swindle you because he's the one with the information. He's like, "Hey, this car does this, and this, and this." Now, you don't even go to a car dealer with not an idea of what you're going to... You know the car, the color, the mileage on it, you've done a Carfax report on, you have all the information and it's the powers in your hands. Jordan: So when you show to the dealership, they're not trying to get you into a different car, they're saying, "I want you in this car, because I know this is what you want and you've researched." So with that what we find is, you can't over educate someone to buy, it's much more a trust and a relational play. And so we see that testimonials, quotes, any videos or text that you can do actually will have a bigger conversion rate change than adding more copy to the page to try to convince them to buy something. Kathleen: So a question on this, and I'm 100% with you, I am a strong believer that you've got to have social proof. One of the things that I hear though a lot, and I used to work in cyber from some companies is like, "I work in an industry where my customers don't want anybody knowing that they're using my product," either cyber or I don't know, my husband is VP of a company that makes competitive intelligence software, and so you don't tell your competitors what software you're using to track them, right? So what's your opinion on how to handle that? Is it still valuable to have a testimonial, where it's a little anonymized where you say like, "Head of marketing for this type of company," and you don't name the company or the person or do people just see that as BS? Jordan: Well, such a great question. It's like the overall question is, is social proof if you don't know who the person is? Is that even social proof? Kathleen: Yeah. Jordan: So like a tree falling in- Kathleen: And sometimes I feel like... I don't know, I wonder can it hurt you if people think you're making it up? I don't really know the answer to that. Jordan: Yeah. It would be tough for them to know whether or not you are making it up, I hope people are more integrous than that but I know that there are those cases. I would say that if it's not a reputable name, it's tough to have social proof that really carries any weight, so that can be tough. I think asking the right way can generate testimonials to say, instead of saying, "Hey, would you give us a quote about us using your service?" You could say, "Hey, we'd like to feature your company as one of our cases, would you be open to us featuring you?" And it becomes more of a marketing play in that sense. Jordan: Again, I think for most companies they'd be fine to scratch backs in that way, but in more specific niches where it's kind of guarded and confidential. Yeah, that's a tough one. I haven't thought about some ways to kind of get around that other than just asking whether or not, maybe even just a logo could be fine. Kathleen: Yeah. I mean, I think there's still definitely people who are going to say no across the board. It's so funny, because I actually saw a conversation about this recently, where somebody said that the best way around it is to give your customers awards. And because everybody to brag that they got an award, and so it was like, if you can figure out a way to make it about an award and not about your product, they'll consent to mentioning it effectively in that's sort of a backdoor way. Jordan: Yeah, that's a great play. I think, recognizing them or even doing a case study on their business specifically, you'd be like, "Hey, here's how these guys got this x result." And again, it feels like it's more of an ego play then, really. Kathleen: All right. So that was social proof, we already talked about page load speeds. And the third thing was- Jordan: Yeah. I think the overall concept is about optimization of the funnel flow. So it doesn't matter what you're selling, I can't tell you how many websites we see that are just... It's a hose with holes all over it, you put in leads and are going to go all over the place. There is no benefit to linking to Facebook from your primary corporate page or your funnel, there is no benefit. No one is sharing it enough to make any quantitative or qualitative impact on your business. So I say for almost all offers, strip away everything that doesn't serve you. Jordan: And frankly, we only build sites like they were in the '90s in that same way today because it's what's always been done, not because it's- Kathleen: Right. And I feel like some of those features come out of the box also, and so people are like, "Well, it's there, so it must be a good thing." Jordan: Yeah, exactly. It's the De Beers Corporation kind of invented wedding rings and we still do that till today, but for the longest part of history that never existed. It's like we do what's been done because it's been done and that's what I should do. So I say just be a little bit adventurous, in the sense that you have permission to not do what everyone else is doing. And if someone goes to DropFunnels.com, for example, there's only one call to action on the entire page, every button really for all intents and purposes, almost every button is called an anchor link and it drags people down the page to more information, instead of moving them to About Us, no one cares About Us. No one cares about me or what we're doing, they care about themselves. Jordan: So I think they want to know, is this end result going to help them? So we really try to focus all marketing efforts towards a single call to action. So and I think it's important that companies get clear on that strategy. What is the main thing that you want them to do? Is it driving them to a lead magnet or an ecosystem offer? Is it booking a consultation call or strategy call? Is it adding them to a Facebook group, because that can be advantageous as well, but push them into the main ecosystem, push them where you want them to go. And it's easier to optimize around one point, around one metric point instead of 30 and hoping, "Hey, I don't even know where these people are going, they're clicking here and going there." And even in Google Analytics, you can track where people are going, but the more links you have you'll find the more erratic people are, because they don't have a plan, it's your job to point the plan for them and to give them that path. Jordan: So for us, I think optimizing around clarity and simplicity in all of your digital assets, even like, "Hey, let's kill some sacred cows here." Is the fact that you have a blog is it actually serving you? Linking to your blog and your homepage, does it actually give you any output? I mean, you can track those things. Is having any social share buttons or any links to social or a billion things for people to do, does it actually serve you? And I think those are the tough questions we should have. Kathleen: So you mentioned something interesting when you were talking about this earlier, which is that, even if you have, say a landing page where you've got your offer, a lot of the time somebody will actually jump from that landing page and go back to your homepage, whether that's to research something or just learn more about you or to find some other information. Knowing that's the case, it's funny to me because the traditional kind of thing that you're taught as a marketer is don't put navigation on your landing pages, right? To your point like, "Let's not distract anybody with links that aren't absolutely necessary." Kathleen: So they find a way to get back to your homepage despite your best efforts to not lead them there, what does that imply for what you should do to the design of your homepage to make sure that they don't drop out of your funnel? So that they stay engaged and ultimately convert? Jordan: Yes, and that's exactly what I was just mentioning about being so clear about that call to action, that for us it's very circular and it feeds itself. So if someone goes to a funnel and we're recommending a software or a trial, or whatever that happens to be, if they leave that and go back to our homepage, they're going to end up right back to the funnel, because our homepage will push them back into that way. So I would say that there are a lot of great companies do this well. One of my favorite funnels of all time, it's through this company called Get Sunday, and they're a lawn care company. Kathleen: Oh, I used them. Jordan: Yeah. We probably bought through the exact same funnel, it was genius. And hopefully, people are buying things even just on propulsion of seeing an ad and going to buy just to study what they're kind of doing- Kathleen: That's 100% I was targeted with an ad. Jordan: Yep. And I met with them for two years, I don't know anything about lawn care, but I was so entranced by their funnel. But it was a perfect example of the experience of going through that funnel is really in synergy with what their homepage is doing. And I'd recommend anyone go to their site to take a look. I think Basecamp does some interesting things, they're very an analytical company, but their page is, I think, very well done. But generally speaking, if you have a landing page, I promise you people are leaving your landing page and your funnels to go check you out on your homepage. If you don't have a home site with that domain and that brand reputation there, you're losing sales, period. Jordan: And on that, instead, again, eliminate what doesn't serve you and focus everything on to getting them back to that funnel, either with a complimentary or identical offer, so that because when they do that you don't want to lose them when they finally land on your page and suddenly it's some rabbit trail that takes them off somewhere else. Kathleen: So for those who haven't experienced it, can you just describe a little bit about the Sunday funnel and what you liked about it? Granted, you're going to have to do this from memory, so it won't be exact, but what stands out in your head as what worked so well? Jordan: Yeah. I have this kind of rule when it comes to marketing and when we're consulting with people as well, the best words that you can think about it's two words, it's for you, for you. So even in sales calls or any of that, it's the best phrase, I think that you can use. Is that people when they have high amounts of information, especially in competitive markets, and there's lots of people to compare to, personalization is absolutely key. My buddy, George Bryant, he actually coined the phrase, "Relationships beat algorithms." And it's not always the best offer gets their wallet, it's whoever gets to their heart gets to their wallet. Jordan: So what Get Sunday does that I think is so unique and I think a lot of brands are tapping into this as well, is the for you experience, the personalization. So you literally type in, I think it's your address, I did it a year and a half ago, I still remember it. It's your address, and they show you a satellite image of your house. And then you draw these lines or whatever around your lawn about what's... They're, "Okay, based on this, hey we're going to send you this soil kit." And it's just free kit or whatever it was part of it, I don't recall it exactly. They sent out this thing, it came the next day, it scooped out some soil, and actually my kids got into it too, it was kind of a fun science experiment. Jordan: Gave them that and then they sent back this custom report, "Okay hey, this is the acidity, the phosphorus, all the chemical things, this is the for you experience. Hey, we've also looked at the weather patterns for the past 12 years, here's how much rain you're going to get this year, here's how much sunlight based on the geography of your land," and I was like, "Holy cow, they know more about me than I do, right?" Which is so critical. And through that process, I ended up taking every upsell, everything there is because I felt like it was so personalized. And they said, "Hey, Jordan, for you, this is what is going to be a good fit." Jordan: And to put a cap on that, one of my favorite phrases is that a prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. Prescription without a diagnosis is malpractice. And so when you get a diagnosis and you're given the prescription to not take that is insanity, right? So they're telling me, they know my lawn better than me, they know the geography, they know the weather, they know the soil better than I do, if I have any desire for the end result, which is they have a beautiful lawn, what else am I going to do? Am I going to go figure that out on my own? No, I'm going to go give them my money and they're going to tell me exactly what to do, and ship it right to my doorstep. Jordan: And so some of these home kit companies have really tapped into this as well, "Based on your diet, based on your preferences, what is it that you like?" So I think all of us, all these kind of technical aspects are sometimes almost a moot point if you're not delivering to someone some for you experience, some way to make them feel like they're not a number, that they're a person and that they've been diagnosed as a specific prescription to what's going on. If we can tap into that psychology more often, I think, you could have a 12 second loading website and you could have a personalized experience, you'd probably be fine. Kathleen: Yeah. It's so funny to hear you talk about Get Sunday, because that's the exact same experience I had. And I went through it, and I was like, "Wow, clearly they've tapped into, I don't know, Google Earth, or whatever it is, and they're measuring my lawn and checking my weather and the whole thing," and I was so enamored of it. So I definitely became a customer based on that funnel, I have a feeling they're doing pretty well off of it. Jordan: And as anyone will experience if they go through it as well, you get a phone number to your person, your consultant, which I mean, it was a heart check for me too like, "Man, what are we missing out on the support aspect?" I think I've utilized it once in two years, so it's not like I'm using it, but knowing that it's there will probably keep me on for a very long time. Kathleen: Yeah, definitely. They've nailed it. I love that example and how specific it is. Anything else that you want to add beyond? So we started with three things, we started the page load speed, social proof, and then shoring up the leaks in the bucket, if you will. I mean, and the last category really encompasses a lot. So I just wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything before I move on. Jordan: No, I think that's like drinking through a fire hose probably for most people. So it's- Kathleen: Yeah no, that's great. So you obviously have worked with a lot of different companies, you've got a lot of different brands using your platform, any examples from the DropFunnels world that you think are notable to share in terms of before and after results from doing some of these things, even if it's just your own marketing? Jordan: So, this is less technical on maybe slightly more mindset. I would say, for most people, and again, we're a more advanced platform than many, so people are looking for click button done type of thing, it's not really a good fit. It's meant for those who really want to dive in and- Kathleen: You don't need to be a developer though, do you? Jordan: No, there's no code at all. Kathleen: That's what I thought, yeah. Jordan: But just things are in different locations. It's like you move your house, they say the two most stressful things in life is divorce and moving. So moving your business is no different, sometimes it... Well, we've got migrators that can help people in that regard. But I think the mindset for most people is that, we're all duct taping so many tools together between autoresponders, and CRMs, and call floors, and dialers, and website, and funnels, and courses, and all those things depending on your business model. And for us, I think the biggest thing that people fall in love with is how many tools they can subtract, so getting more by doing less. Jordan: Here's an example. We have this tool and I actually built it in, we might be one of the first ever to build this, I'm not sure. But I added a feature that allows you to collect a legally binding signature on a checkout form directly through mobile. So when someone's going to go in and purchase your product, there's actually Terms and Conditions box that normally you would check, but I instituted a finger scribble sandbox that generates a PDF that would help you against refunds and chargebacks to ensure that you're collecting those terms specifically. So for some people they'll cancel like DocuSign through that because they can use that as an actual legally binding contract generator. Jordan: So I think it's an example of that, of having fewer tools, fewer monthly subscriptions. And again, I don't want this to just be in advertising for DropFunnels, more a mindset about get more by doing less and simplify as much as possible so that you have less mental real estate being lost, right? Kathleen: No, I think tool sprawl is a real problem. And it's not just a problem from a psychological standpoint of like, "Where is my information? Where is my data? How is it all talking to each other?" It's a huge financial problem. I mean, as somebody who owns a marketing budget for a company, by far the biggest line item for me is my tech stack. And so if you can eliminate things that frees up money to do other things in marketing, which can have a big impact, potentially. So I definitely think that's important. Kathleen: All right, we're going to shift gears because I've got two questions I always ask all my guests before we wrap up, and I want to make sure I know what your answers are. First one is, the biggest pain point I hear all the time from marketers is that it's like drinking from a fire hose trying to keep up with everything. And so are there particular sources you rely on to stay up to date and educated? Jordan: I'm probably the worst person to ask that, because I kind of live in a cave for most of the time. But I stay connected with a couple people in different industries, so I think masterminding is really important, networking is important. And I listen to a lot of audio books as well, so that's helpful. I just finished actually, for the first time, The Richest Man in Babylon, which was a great short listen, for most people a great mindset book there. And doing a lot of that, I also have this remarkable tablet, I'm holding up for those on the podcast, the- Kathleen: My husband has one of those and he loves it. Jordan: Yeah, it's super cool for doing some deep work and writing without any connection to the internet. So I guess my answer is, I tend to feel escape when I get off of the internet and consume a little bit less, because there's so much kind of noise going on there. So I find that my relaxation and escape comes from disconnecting, but I'd say audiobooks are big, I actually really like going on YouTube and listening to some TED Talks, and they're quick bite size- Kathleen: Any particular favorites? Jordan: Everyone says it start with why, but there's actually some really... I mean, it's fine. Simon Sinek is great. I like Malcolm Gladwell stuff, and there is actually one on... I don't know the name of the guy, but it's about addiction. And he lays out this thesis for I think it's called The Hidden Truth Behind Sobriety or Addiction or that kind of thing. But he lays out this incredible thesis that, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection, its like this perfect theorem of why we get addicted to things, and the recourse from that, etc. So I couldn't recommend that more, it's one of the most watched ones on there. So TED talks have been a really good way to stay. Kathleen: I love that, and I've seen that Ted Talk, it's very good. Jordan: Yeah, very good. Kathleen: All right, second question. Of course, this podcast is all about inbound marketing, and is there a particular company or individual that you think is really knocking it out of the park and doing inbound marketing well these days? Jordan: I think most companies doing really well or really maximizing both and turning... There's a guy named Cole Gordon, who is in the high ticket closing space and is a master at, I think both inbound and outbound. And so he maximizes all of his inbound with additional outbound outreach, and whatnot. And so he's just so masterful at that, so that's Cole Gordon, I think it's Gordon Advertising, people could probably Google him. I also see Gary Vee and some of those influencers, they're doing a lot of like, "Hey, text me, get out this number," and getting people onto your list with a more relational SMS. Which by the way, I'm fairly convinced is the future of marketing is going to be SMS. Jordan: Email rates are deplorable, Facebook, the algorithm is getting harder all the time, and I think SMS has about a 99% open rate. Kathleen: It's very generational. I mean, I have kids, when you look at how our kids communicate, it's so different than how we do, it's crazy. Jordan: Yeah. And I think it's probably going to change as new... Man, it's probably eventually going to be TikTok, and- Kathleen: Or I was just going to say Discord. I have a 14 year old and they're all on Discord playing their video games and talking to each other. And I think that's already starting to happen, the number of private communities that are cropping up. I just attended, Shopify had its Annual Developers Conference, and all of the chatter around it, all the conversations, they set it up in Discord. And they created a room, I don't even know if that's the right word, because I'm not a big Discord user but I did do it. But yeah, I was like, "This is really interesting." I see my 14 year old on it, I see Shopify having official conversations with its audience on it, I definitely think there's a move in that direction too. Jordan: Yeah. And actually I'm to the point, we just did it this week, that we're pretty much eliminating our post purchase Facebook support groups and moving even into Slack to do- Kathleen: Yeah, Slack is huge. Jordan: Slack is good, and people say Discord's like Slack on steroids, I haven't done much on Discord. Kathleen: Well, I just used it for the first time, I was a little intimidated, but it is. If you are a Slack user, it will feel very familiar to you. Jordan: Right on, yeah. But I think the social channels and social media and whatnot, they're going to start to kind of wane. And people are wanting to go into more private servers, and Telegram groups, and eventually, it'll all be on the blockchain and everything will be completely anonymized and encrypted, it seems like that's where the world is going. Kathleen: Yeah, for sure. All right, well, we've come to the end of our time, and so before we finish, importantly, I need to ask if somebody has a question about any of this or wants to learn more about you or DropFunnels, what is the best way for them to do that? Jordan: Yeah. I'd be happy to give my personal email, it's jordan@dropfunnels.com. If anyone has any questions, or if I can encourage you in some way, J-O-R-D-A-N, and it's my personal email, so it'll go straight to me and would be happy to respond with any insight that I can. And then dropfunnels.com is the main place if you want to check it out and kind of see even as an example of how we turn standard sites, or how we utilize standard sites into a sales funnel type psychology. But I'd encourage anyone to no matter what platform you're on, or whatever you choose to use, to just remember that those principles are true, a confused mind will do nothing. Jordan: And so simplifying, make things faster, think about your strategy, what do you want people to really do? And in any infrastructure that you're on right now, push more people into that way and eliminate the things that don't serve you, and I really think that that's a way to grow very quickly. Kathleen: That's great advice. All right. Well, that is it for this week. If you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, please head to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. And of course, if you know somebody else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me @WorkMommyWork because I would love to make them my next guest. That's it for this week, thank you so much, Jordo. Jordan: My pleasure, thank you.


    Ep. 203: YouTube advertising strategies ft. Shash Singh

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 12, 2021 35:27

    Who is YouTube Advertising right for, and how to top brands get big results from it? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Linx Digital founder Shash Singh breaks down his approach to YouTube advertising. Shash and the team at Linx are YouTube ad specialists. It's all they do, and as a result of that specialization, they've been able to get great results for a wide variety of brands across a range of industries. In this episode, Shash explains how YouTube advertising works and shares the ad formats that he believes deliver the biggest bang for your marketing buck. He also digs into details around how to film your ad, how long it should be, and how to set up audience targeting. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the Linx Digital website Check out Shash's YouTube channel Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Shash Singh who is the CEO of Linx digital. Welcome to the podcast, Shash. Shash (00:32): Yeah. Thanks for having me on here. I'm really excited. Kathleen (00:35): Yeah, there should be a fun conversation because we are going to be talking about YouTube advertising, which is something that I have touched on a little bit in former interviews, but we really haven't dug into to any level of depth. And I do feel like there's so much potential there, but also so much potential to screw it up if you don't know what you're doing. And so I'm really excited to pick your brain, but before we do that, can you just tell my listeners a little bit about yourself and Linx digital and how you came to be doing what you're doing? Shash (01:06): Yeah, so basically I got started with YouTube ads five or six years ago. But one of my friends, he runs the fitness program and like a fitness coaching business and his his business called you know, body. And he basically wanted me to run YouTube ads. And at that point I'd never run paid ads ever in my life before. So it was an interesting experience, but within two weeks we were profitable and I think within three weeks, we're scaling to $5,000 a day ad spend. So it was pretty impressive in terms of how powerful this platform was. And after that, I kind of fell in love with YouTube advertising, did it for a bunch more clients started an agency about it. And now we do trainings about it. So basically just kind of really enjoyed going in deep into this platform. Kathleen (01:49): And so does Linx digital really only do YouTube advertising or does it do other things as well? Shash (01:56): Well we occasionally do some Facebook advertising or some little search advertising, but our core focus is YouTube ads. So that's what people come to us for. Kathleen (02:04): I love that. I love that you've been brave enough to sort of plant your flag in the sand and say, this is what we're going to do, and we're going to specialize it in it. And we're not afraid to, you know, go really niche. I think that's, you know, these days with digital marketing things change so quickly and the only way to really develop deep expertise is to focus. So that's awesome. All right, so, so let's get into this topic of YouTube advertising. I guess I would start with who is YouTube advertising, right? For, because I have to imagine there, there are certain types of businesses or certain audiences you may be able to be trying to reach that are a better fit for it than others. Shash (02:44): Yeah. Honestly, at this point, I'd say you do, that's going to work for a lot of different types of businesses. Even you know, B2B, B2C e-commerce courses, anything really lead generation for local. The main thing you have to keep in mind is can you make the numbers work? Right? So for example, if you're selling an e-commerce product, you want to sell something that's a little bit higher price, because if you're selling something that's $20, it's most likely not going to work in a way that's profitable for you. On the other hand, if you're selling an $80 e-commerce product, I usually have a much higher acceptable cost per acquisition, and that kind of makes those numbers work. So that's the key thing there in terms of audiences at this point, pretty much everybody's on YouTube. I believe one of the fastest growing segments on YouTube is actually older demographics, right? Shash (03:33): So I don't think it's an issue of like, oh, is this person on YouTube? Even if you're in B2B, right? You can actually use some of these advanced audiences that Google has. For example, they have custom audiences where you can plug in a competitor's URL and basically Google will go and try and find people that are similar to that. People who visit that website. So we've even for many B2B companies basically it can work quite well. And we've worked with some SAS companies as well that have done really well with YouTube ads. So really can work for a lot of different businesses. Ultimately just want to make sure that, you know, you have a solid funnel and a backend and the numbers work out for you. Kathleen (04:12): So, so it sounds like almost any type of business could use it. And then you said something which resonated with me, which is just like, you know, everybody's using YouTube, right. I certainly everyone from my 14 year old son who is on it basically all day long to myself, like I watch things on there as well. So I think it's safe to say that we're all familiar with YouTube as users, but advertising is a very different side of YouTube. So could you just talk a little bit about about that? Like how is YouTube advertising set up? What are the different types of ads we'll start there and then we'll see where that takes us. Shash (04:55): So you do have a bunch of different ad formats. The one like we like to focus in on are the in-stream ads. So the in-stream ads are basically the ads that show up before you're about to watch a video. So let's say you click on a video and before, you know, you have another ad show up, it's like the five seconds to skip. Basically you have five seconds and then you can skip afterwards and yeah, that's the main format, right? And that's basically the format that gets the best results for us. Now, there are other ad formats, for example, this responsive which kind of shows up in a bunch of different places, but typically most of our budget is spent on those entry mats. And then there's a lot of other formats as well. Right? So we have the basically for the in-stream ads, what we do is we use TrueView for action, which is really focused on getting conversions, but there's also ads like bumper ads and for six second in-stream ads that basically you can't skip, there's non-skippable 15 and 30 second ads as well. So there's different ad formats, depending on what you're trying to do. If you're doing direct response TrueView for action, in-stream ads are what you want to do. Kathleen (05:57): True view for action. Okay. I have a lot of questions. All right. The first one is why do you focus on in-stream? What is it about in-stream that, that you feel is so valuable? Shash (06:11): Well, I mean, it gets results now that are just like discovery ads, which are kind of like, you know, you'll, you'll click on it. It shows up in the search results, you click on it and it will take you to a video. However, in-stream just works really, really well. Right? Like it's pretty much in every account. It's like the majority of our budget because it just performs so well. You're basically able to just go in and grab people's attention and be able to compel them to take action. And YouTube has put a lot of, Google and YouTube have put a lot of resources into making that whole in-stream ad format work really well. Kathleen (06:41): Okay. So, so you mentioned Google, Google, and YouTube, the relationship there, you know, people who are listening, I'm sure have done lots of advertising on different platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. Many of them have probably done Google pay-per-click, what's different about the YouTube advertising kind of interface and management. Shash (07:03): So basically the YouTube so like obviously Google owns YouTube and because of that, you're using Google ads as a platform. So if you're running search campaigns, display campaigns, you do campaigns, essentially doing it from the same account, same place. So that makes things a lot easier. And one of the benefits of Google owning YouTube is you get to use Google's massive source of data, which is the world's biggest search engine is Google. And the world's second biggest search engine is YouTube. So the massive scale is something that really is cool with YouTube ads especially because you can go and leverage the data from Google in the sense of somebody can search something on google.com and, you know, they could search for example, the best enterprise software for small electricians, right? And you could target that search term on YouTube. So you could show that person an ad on YouTube. So that's really powerful because a lot of times these search terms on google.com are extremely expensive, extremely cost per click is very high, but then if you reach target, basically if you're able to target them with a video ad, you're going to be able to get significantly cheaper click costs. So these custom intent audiences basically are incredibly, incredibly powerful. And one of the key reasons why I love YouTube ads so much. Kathleen (08:17): So, so you use the Google ads interface and there, it sounds like there are a lot of different ways that you can set up targeting. You mentioned targeting for keyword search intent. Can you, you know, I'm familiar with a lot of the other ways that Google allows targeting. Can you use those same targeting approaches such as custom audience match lists lookalikes you know, what are the options there? Shash (08:49): So, so as I mentioned, custom intent, which is basically a type of custom audience where you target people based on what they search on Google. There's custom affinity, which is a custom audience based on a URL or even an app that you can put in. So you could literally put in your competitor's URL and Google will try to find people that are similar to that. So, and the reason they can do that is because they have all this data from Google analytics from basically you know, obviously search engine, et cetera, where they have massive troves of data to make these assumptions and help you with these audiences. And these audiences often are favorites and on other audience types include keywords. So basically based on the metadata of YouTube videos, so the title, the description, and so on, where you're able to target videos that are about a certain topic. Shash (09:39): You also have placements where you can specify the target channels are videos. So if you have a competitor and they have a YouTube channel, you can show your ad in front of them, which is really, really powerful. If you're basically trying to get your competitor's audience base right into your funnel. And then there's in-market audiences, which is Google's basically audiences of people that are interested in buying something. So there are in market audiences for let's say, automobiles or home and garden for beauty, there's like all kinds of categories, right? So you could dig in and this, I believe there's even like hair, hair extensions for hair lashes. Yeah. So you literally have so many audience types. There's topics, which are videos about certain topics, like broad topics there's affinity, which is basically based on interests. So it's like, oh, these people are interested in X, Y Zed. And then there's also similar audiences, which is kind of Google's version of lookalike audiences. So there are a lot of different options. And a lot of times in certain pumps, some work really well, some work don't work well, but because of you have this vast number of options, there's definitely a lot of different things you can do with that. Kathleen (10:50): Wow. So you mentioned earlier cost, how does the cost per click compare on YouTube to maybe other forms of Google ads, LinkedIn, Facebook, et cetera. Shash (11:05): So the cost per click, for example, as compared to Google search, it'll be significantly lower. As compared to let's say display, it's going to be more expensive because it displays usually far less qualified clicks. And as compared to Facebook, it can really depend on niche. Some niches, it can be a little bit lower, some niches, it can be higher but the traffic is very, very qualified. Typically find that YouTube graphic and works well. And usually they're, long-term buyers that people who are usually very interested, especially if you're targeting them with a targeting option that, you know, they're basically, let's say they're watching a video about that top. Right. That's a really good lead. Kathleen (11:42): Yeah. Interesting. So, I mean, it sounds like it makes sense to consider for almost any business. I think the thing that might seem intimidating to people is like, it's video. Right? I got to, I got to create a video, correct. Like if you're doing an industry mad, you're creating video for your advertising. Right. Shash (12:01): Absolutely. That's, that's something that scares a lot of people. They, but it's actually not that hard. So for example, if if you're running an ad for, let's say a software company, right. It's not that hard. You could literally take kind of a, you know, basically a selfie video as like a selfie iPhone camera, and then pair that with a lapel mic and be able to shoot simple ads. There are a lot of people who run softwares that have been able to do that. Now, obviously you can go the whole production route, but basically what Grammarly or monday.com have done, but you can just start simple with a selfie video ad. So the key thing to understand is you've got to start somewhere and that video in general is a huge competitive advantage today, if you're not using video, it's basically one of the formats of communication. That's just the most effective and consumers love video, right? There's been so many studies on it, landing pages with video, typically perform better product pages with video, perform better. People kind of want to see and watch basically video of what they're about to buy because you get so much more information than images and touch. So it's absolutely something that's you, you, you should dive into. And basically any business that has a core competency competency than video, typically their marketing efforts just do so much better. Kathleen (13:18): So you talked about using your cell phone camera and a lapel mic to create video, but I have to admit I'm skeptical because I feel like, yes, it's easy to do those kinds of videos, but I also have to believe that there are certain things that you need to do to create a video that's really going to drive conversions because it's not about just like getting your video out there. It's obviously about, you know, inspiring action. So can you maybe like break down what you found in your experience makes for a high converting video? Shash (14:54): Absolutely. So you need to follow a structure and you need to basically be able to hit those persuasion triggers. The first piece of that puzzle is the hook, right? Like you've got to grab their attention basically the way you want to think about it, as you need to like basically grabbed them by the throat would be like pay attention. So the way we do that is real often say a controversial statement are we'll call up, call out our iden audio. Our we'll call out our ideal audience with their major pain point. Right? So we'll say something like, Hey, are you let's, let's go with a local electrician example. Right. I don't know why I came up with that idea, but let's say, are you a local, are you an electrician? That's just tired of of your expensive software bills for a program that you don't even know how to use. Shash (15:43): Right. and then basically that steep and you've grabbed their attention. And it's also something that kind of calls them out and they're like, oh yeah, this, this ad is for me. Maybe he has a, there might be a solution to this pain point I'm having write down. Right? So the key to any YouTube ad is really knowing your customer's pain point and being able to really grab their attention with that pinpoint. Right? So they're, you know, motivated to keep watching. And after that, what you'll want to do is you will want to start building some authority and credibility. You'll want to show them how your product works and why they should even consider basically checking out whatever you're giving them. And you'll want to make sure that it's very strong call to actions. So to give you to continue on with the treadmills as electrician. Shash (16:29): So let's say, Hey, are you in a local electrician? That's just tired of overly expensive software that you don't know how to use and that's buggy. And it's basically, it's not helping your business in any way. So that's, and then the second part of that I imagine would be something like, so I used to be a local electrician had that, that was a huge pain point for me until I decided to build my own software specifically for us, because, you know, I'm an electrician as well. And so I decided to build this software called whatever. And we basically used we talked to thousands of electricians to figure out how to build a best solution. That's, you know, doesn't have let's say this common issue that they have typically that their software or this issue, and then actually show them the product and perhaps show them that. Shash (17:24): Yep. Imagine if you could just let's say call up all or imagine if you could send out a quote and just one easy click, right. And imagine if you could let's say be able to get your subcontractors to bill you in one easy system. Right? So now you're actually showing them what that is about. So from there, you'll go into call to action and tell them, Hey, if you want a free trial click, the link or below, or if it's like, for example, what we do a lot is send them to some sort of case study. So one angle you could go with this is if you want to see a free case study on how we use this tool to double the revenue of our business in less than a year and all the tactics and strategies we use, then that's a big to do it. Shash (18:07): So a lot of this, you know, as you brainstorm it, you come up with it, but you kind of have that base structure, which is cook. You want to call your audience out. You want to show them the products and its benefits. You want to build some party and building, right? Like why is a, you know, for e-commerce products, right? Often I've seen some of them use research or other others have used, you know, personal experience, right? Like I've actually done this or I've, I've been in your position. So that's one way of building a party and credibility. Another way is, Hey, I've helped over 5,000 people with this problem. And then from there, your first call to action, where you tell them, Hey, click the link above or below to go get this free training, free trial, free you know, basically lead magnet, case study, et cetera. Shash (18:51): Right. And then from there, you might want to show some social proof and show them that, Hey yeah. Maybe show them as basically a sliding wall of testimonials and the videos. So like half, half the video just be testimonials are, you can even clip in videos of happy clients, like quick 10, second clips. It could even be potential, you know, other forms of social proof, like you've featured in Forbes magazine, et cetera. So from there, you can have another call to action because you always want to have at least two call to actions and you wanna tell them, Hey, click the link below to go sign up for this free trial. And the key here that you got to understand is once you actually start running basically YouTube ads, you will get a good feel for it. But also the biggest thing to do is you gotta be, you gotta do preparation for us, right? So number one is use this tool called Vid Tao dot com, vid Tao, T a o.com. And this is a completely free tool. That's what we use to find really great video ads. So we will just use that and be able to just basically enter in a competitor's name final to video ads. And then you can see how many views that ad got. And typically if it's gotten a ton of views, you know, that that ad has done really, really well. Kathleen (20:08): Oh, that's a good tip. It sounds like timing is really key. So you mentioned in the beginning having a hook and is that because with in-stream ads? I mean, at least my experience has been like, you have a certain number of seconds before the person is given the option to skip the ad. Shash (20:25): Yeah. So you have five seconds before they're given the option to skip that. So you want to really grab their attention in the first five seconds. Kathleen (20:31): So you have to have the hook quick, you know, don't bury the lead as they say in journalism. Okay. And then, and then I also would imagine from a timing standpoint, that overall length of the video is pretty important. Like have, do you see people drop off after a certain amount of time? Is there like a standard length that you think performs really well? Shash (20:54): I would say we've had ads from 45 seconds to three, four minutes long work. Typically what I say the ad is as long as it needs to be. So don't try to artificially make it longer, but if you need to add more length, do cover the key persuasion points or the cover, the key benefits of your product. You may need to add a little bit more to it, right? Because some products are softwares may just need more explanation, right? So our, some might be super simple and might only require a 62nd ad so that ultimately the length is something you can test, but the key is you don't want any fluff in there. If there's fluff, you want to get rid of it. Kathleen (21:34): And is your call to action always at the end? Or do you ever have anything sort of in the middle Shash (21:39): Typically two call to actions at the minimum, sometimes even three, but typically one call to action. That's maybe, you know, somewhere in the middle, right? Like at least 30, 45 seconds in, and then you'll have the second and third call to actions be a bit later. They could be different, but usually you'll, if you're, let's say sending them to a case study, right. You, there's probably only like a couple of different ways to say, click the link above or below to go check out this case study. Right. you could do different variations, but it's like in the first one you could focus on like click, click the link above or below to check out this case study where we show you how we doubled our client's revenue with a strategy. And then the second one could be perhaps another benefit point, click the link up or below to see how the reduced amount of time you know, our client works in his business by 50%, right? Like it, if you have perhaps multiple parts of the case study, you can kind of play on that and use different CPAs to basically get clicks from people who are looking for different things. Kathleen (22:42): Okay. So, so let's say somebody does this, they get their video, all done, they get it set up, they have their audience ready to go. And then they go to launch the ad from a budget standpoint. How much do you think somebody should expect to spend in the beginning in order to have a viable chance of the ad being successful? Shash (23:02): So with YouTube ads, I would recommend a minimum of a hundred dollars a day as a test budget. That typically gives you some good data fairly fast with, if you're trying to be more aggressive, you can go up 200, 300 a day. Usually you'll want multiple ads. So the one to test the ads, the hubs you can look at and you can edit them in that way, you can get some variations and you can see which hook grabs the most attention. And then but we typically will also recommend that, okay, you want to have a couple different bodies, right? So we might have two different pubs, two different bodies, that's four variations. And that allows you to kind of have a much better idea of what's working and not working. And then based on which ad does the best you can go and modify the landing page to basically be congruent with that messaging. Shash (23:51): Ultimately it comes down to testing a lot of ads and then tweaking your landing pages to be able to figure out what's working and not working, or sometimes you'll get lucky. And your first kind of ad and landing page combination just works amazing. If you've done a lot of Facebook ads and search ads, it's going to be a lot faster for you because you already know the process of testing kind of creators. You already know how media buying works. If it's your first time doing media buying, it's probably going to take a little bit longer. Kathleen (24:17): So that was going to be one of my questions. So it's like once you get it all set up and it's running, how much time should you give it before you like make that keeper cut decision? Shash (24:29): That's a good question. Ultimately what I would say is it depends on a few things, right? The first thing is before you even run ads, you've got to figure out if it's realistic to make YouTube ads work for your offer. What we find is higher ticket offers for well e-commerce offers that a higher price info-product offers at a higher price or SAS products that are either, either you have some way of collecting money up front, or you have, you know, basically you're okay with, you know, spending a couple of months of basically revenue from the recurring to get that right. So if you're selling a software, you know, your lifetime value is like $900 and that's over nine months, let's say it's 99 a month, nine. So nine months or 10 months, that's a $900. And let's say, it's the average cost per acquisition for a hundred dollars a month. Shash (25:23): Customer is $350. So if you have venture capital, then that's a no-brainer deal because you know, you're going to make $900 and you spent $350, however, it's, you don't have venture capital. Then that makes it really tricky because you don't have three and a half months of cashflow to basically put into it. So what you need to do is figure out a creative solution and usually software companies that have been able to do that, what they do is they'll typically either do a bundle. So you'll have maybe a year upfront or they'll perhaps have a training or some sort of front end offers. So what that, what I've seen softwares like click funnels do is they will literally have a $997 info product that as their front end offer and then click funnels to bundled in the back. And I've seen this with multiple different niches. Shash (26:05): It's basically you have the training program, but maybe a couple months of the software. And then because you're collecting a thousand dollars upfront, you're profitable on the front end, and then you also have the recurring on the backend, and that's just purely a way of how you structure your offer. Now, on the other hand, if you're trying to just, you know, basically let's say you have a 10 month based customer retention rate, they stay for 10 months and you make $900 from that. But the issue is that you're spending $350 to get them and you don't have the capital for that. Then your YouTube is not going to work for you unless you figure out either a venture capital or you figure out how to structure your in a way where you collect that money upfront. So that's really, really important is just figure that out before you run ads. Kathleen (26:49): Okay. That makes sense. And then once you're running your ads, what's, what is your kind of routine for how often do you check back in and kind of watch performance so that you're able to tweak and optimize? Shash (27:03): I'm checking every day. So every single day go in and chat. So basically the way we optimize is on the ad level. So, you know, there's the campaign level does the ad group level and then this the ad level. So we usually just look at all the ads and if an ad starts getting out of KPIs, then we'll just pause it. Kathleen (27:19): Okay. All right. So let's shift gears for a second and we've talked a lot about how it works and kind of what you should be doing and watching. Let's talk about some examples, cause you've worked with a number of different clients. Can you share like some stories, success, stories, or examples of where you've done YouTube ads and what kind of results you've been able to get with them? Shash (27:41): Yeah. So for example, B2B, the ran ads for a software company called helium 10, I think they probably spend like a couple of hundred thousand dollars over the lifetime. And it was, it was a pretty good traffic source for them fairly profitable in terms of their long-term customer value in terms of companies that are more in the info-product space. So if you, nobody's a really good example because basically I got in there started running the ads and we're spending a new year's 5,000 a day and making 10 to 15,000 a day back. And it also got him device magazine because the ad was just so so interesting and so controversial that he was kind of talking about it. Shash (28:28): I see. So it was a nice little bonus as well on top of the profit. So that's a great example of where not only did the generate really great direct response results, but we also ended up getting a lot of branding out of it because a ton of YouTubers started, started making videos about it's add a ton of people on different farms, started talking about him. Everybody just started talking about the ad and, you know, it led to the point where the organic growth from the ad was probably just as powerful as the pay pros from the ad. Other clients we've worked the amazing selling machine, the renter ads for a couple of years. And yeah, YouTube was just a huge, huge basically revenue source for them generated multi-millions from YouTube. And ultimately just came down to there. They had a really good funnel and the ads were really good. Shash (29:16): So we scripted a lot of these ads and then they will just execute it because they just had a videographer and the founders, Matt and Jason would just jump on the camera and shoot ads. They were really good about it. They've all finished ads. So that's a great example as well. So yeah, basically different niches indestructible shoes, for example, that's an e-commerce brand. So we were able to generate 1.2 million for them with e-commerce YouTube ads. So e-commerce can work as well. E-Commerce is often easier because of the fact that there's less competition. You just got to figure out the video part. So you've got to put more effort into the video for them we found a production agency that we partnered with to create video ads and those video ads just absolutely did so, so well because they were well thought out well-produced you know, kind of just there was effort put into it, right? So if you're doing e-commerce YouTube ads, you do have to put effort into it unlike with Facebook where you can just put an image ad on there. Kathleen (30:11): Yeah, that makes sense. What do you see as the biggest mistakes that brands make when they start doing YouTube advertising? Shash (30:19): So usually the biggest mistake I see is they've tried to take their Facebook ads, creative and strategy, and use that for YouTube ads. So Facebook ads, campaign and optimization strategy, audience strategies, and then also the creators where, you know, on Facebook, a lot of times you can run like the super simple video ads, just slide shows, and there's no voiceover, there's just some music on the background and they do well on Facebook, but on YouTube, they don't work because on YouTube number one, people expect the human touch, right? They at the very least expect a human voice, even if there's not a person in the video, even if it's not after they want somebody that's guiding them through this video, right. They don't want it to be kind of just like background music because of the fact that everything on YouTube has basically a voice, you know, even music videos have a voice. Shash (31:07): There's usually somebody that's a lot of commentary videos that people will share their screen or, you know, show like a video game while they're commenting or they'll do animation with a voiceover or they'll have live action where they're basically in front of the camera, even if it's selfie style or if it's just them pop in front of camera. But this all is that human element. Right. And a big part of that is when you're running a YouTube ad, right? The video ad isn't muted by default, while on Facebook, a lot of times, you know, you'll see a video ad on the, on the newsfeed and they're all automatically muted, right? You have to click the button to listen to sob. So that's something that just makes a huge difference where you need to make sure you have that voice or human element to it. Kathleen (31:48): Is it important to have captions on your video ads and YouTube Shash (31:53): It's worth testing? I don't think it's absolutely essential. It does help as a visual aid. It doesn't even necessarily need to be like captions of every single word you say, but it could be literally like key key emphasis moments. So you could emphasize that, but we've definitely used a lot of captions in our video ads and that definitely helped significantly. And in split tests, we've run. However, in certain ads you want to just make sure it doesn't look, you know, if you have a really cinematic app typing captions on the bottom that are like hard coded and it's, it just looks can be distracting. Yeah. That's for sure. Yeah. Kathleen (32:25): Interesting. All right. We're going to change gears again because I have two questions that I always ask my guests. And I'm curious to hear your take on these first being of course we talk all about inbound marketing on this podcast. Is there a particular company or individual you think is really setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days, inbound Shash (32:46): Marketers? Huh? That's a great question. I would definitely say in terms of pure marketing genius, I like Alex Becker. He's, he's got really good marketing skills, some of the best I've seen. Yeah, I think he's just really good at understanding human psychology and being able to hit those triggers and pain points and being, you know, not necessarily being the most sophisticated marketer, but being the most efficient and effective. Like he's very good at that. So I really, really liked his his marketing methods. I also think this marketer it's that whole crew over there, they're doing a great job. I love to just cut out things. Yeah, those, those two are two that come to mind. Kathleen (33:34): You just, you just cut out when you said your second one, it like totally cut out. So can you start over when you said, I also think and just, just start there. Shash (33:43): Yeah. Yeah. So I also think that my second pick would be Ryan Deiss and the whole Digital Marketer crew. They just do such an excellent job. They're really, really good. Kathleen (33:53): Yeah. They're great. I know those guys and they're very sharp and Ryan is a real go-getter. Awesome. All right. Second question. Most of the marketers I speak with their biggest challenge is just keeping up with everything that's changing in the world of digital marketing, staying on top of, you know, the new regulations, the new algorithms, the new tools, the new strategies. How do you personally keep up to date and keep yourself educated? Shash (34:19): So, I mean, the number one thing is you just gotta be inside the ad concept because that's where you're gonna see stuff first. Number two is obviously I, I would say just having the network of people who do the same thing. So for me I talked to a lot of YouTube marketers. So on top of our own media buyers, the also I talked to guys like Tom breeze and like, they're basically other experts Brian Moncada, for example. And these are guys that I often communicate the then, you know, basically being in that circle, you kind of get that information first because sometimes you might dig into an issue and bring it to attention, or sometimes they'll do it. But typically if you surround yourself with marketers who are doing the same thing, you'll get it a lot faster. Kathleen (35:13): Great. All right. Well, if somebody is listening and they have a question for you or they want to learn more, what is the best way for them to connect with you online? Shash (35:26): Yes. So the first resource I would check out is our YouTube channel. If you look up Shash Singh, so S H A S H and S I N G H. So we got a lot of videos there. That's probably the spot to kind of just learn stuff and that other resource I would, if you need to get in contact with me, I will check out our website, which is Linxdigitalagency.com. And I can throw links to that as well. Kathleen (35:54): Awesome. And I'll put those links in the show notes for anybody who's listening. So had there to get more information. And in the meantime, if you are listening to this episode and you liked what you heard, or you learned something new, I would love it. If you would head to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice to leave a review, that's how other listeners find us. And if you know somebody else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork, because I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me Shash, this was really fun. Shash (36:25): Thank you for having me.  

    Ep. 202: Using conversion rate optimization to increase revenue, ft. Joris Bryon

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 5, 2021 45:40


    In the hyper-competitive world of e-commerce, how to the top performing brands drive continuous improvements in conversions and revenue? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Dexter Agency CEO Joris Bryon talks about the importance of A/B testing, and why small improvements to your website can drive big increases in revenue. From the process he uses to identify which website pages need to be optimized, to how he determines what aspects of the page are underperforming and the nitty gritty details of setting up and running tests and user surveys, Joris lays out, step-by-step, a process anyone can use on any type of website to improve conversions and pipeline. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the Dexter Agency website Connect with Joris on LinkedIn Check out Joris's book Kill Your Conversion Killers Transcript Kathleen: Welcome back to the Inbound Success podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. Today, My guest is Joris Byron, who is the founder and CEO of Dexter Agency and the author of Kill Your Conversion Killers. Welcome to the podcast, Joris. Joris: Thanks, Kathleen. Great to be here, actually. Yeah. Kathleen: I am so excited to talk to you, but I have to start with a question. Kill Your Conversion Killers, is that kill or be killed, conversion rate optimization style? Joris: Actually, it came from the baseline we had when we started the agency. So it was Dexter Agency. And Dexter, the serial killer who kills... Kathleen: Oh, yeah. I didn't even think about that [crosstalk 00:00:55]. Joris: ... serial killers. Yeah. And that's where it came from. And conversion killers is a thing, actually. So we kill conversion killers, and it's a bit of a play on words. And that's where the title came from and the baseline for the company as well. Yeah. Kathleen: I love it. So speaking of the company, maybe you could just briefly introduce yourself to the listeners and talk a little bit about your background and what Dexter Agency does. Joris: Sure. So I've been in marketing for 20 years now, and I started my career in traditional advertising agencies and actually did that for about 10 years. But I got fed up with the typical discussions you have with clients, like make this blue, make this red, put this on the left, put this on the right, that kind of stuff based on nothing. Well, I discovered online marketing, and I started learning about SEO, PPC. I went working for an agency as well. I had to stop in between where the company, it had failed. And then I went into digital marketing. But anyway, in that visual marketing agency, I learned a lot about digital marketing. And at one point, I fell in love with conversion optimization. And that's how it all started. And I ventured out on my own. I learned everything I could about conversion optimization. And first, I tried to implement that in the agency where I was working. And it was a great agency, but back at the day, conversion optimization was still pretty new. And there weren't any clients prepared to start doing that, so I had to venture out on my own and started out as a freelance CRO consultant, and that grew into an agency. And yeah, here we are now doing this for six years already. Kathleen: And I saw in my notes that you have done over 1,500 A/B tests. So you have a ton of data that you bring to this conversation, which I love. Conversion optimization obviously is a broad topic. We're going to focus specifically on e-commerce, which is an area that historically we haven't talked about a ton on the podcast. Although, I've started talking about it more lately because selfishly I'm working in the e-commerce area. And so I'm really interested in learning more, and so I'm excited to dig into this with you. Let's just start with a background on conversion optimization because I don't know that everybody fully really understands what it is, why you should be doing it, how it works. Give me just a really quick summary on that. Joris: Yeah. I'd say conversion optimization for me is trying to make more from what you already have. You already have visitors; try to make more out of the visitors you already have. They already buy from you, so why don't you try to increase the average order value? And you have them as customers, so why don't you try to sell to them again? For me, that's conversion optimization. It's basically working with what you already have. I know there's definitions out there that focus entirely on conversion rate optimization, but I think that's too narrow. It creates wrong expectations. I don't think conversion rate optimization is a great name for the discipline as such. So if I have to say something about it, I usually say conversion optimization as you do rather than conversion rate optimization because that creates false expectations. Kathleen: Yeah. I spent a little over a decade as the owner of an agency, and I used to always talk about this and frame it as if you want to double your revenue and you look at a traditional marketing funnel, there's two ways to think about it. You could say, "Well, I have these conversion rates and this number of visitors and this number of leads. If I want to double the number of visitors who ultimately turn into customers, I can double my traffic, and if the conversion rates all stay the same..." And I'm going back to conversion rates right now, so I'm deviating a little from what we just said. But I think it's a helpful rubric. You can either try to double your traffic and just stuff twice as many people in the top of your funnel, hoping that it produces the same outcome, or you can work on converting more of the people that are already coming into your funnel. And in a perfect world, you're probably doing a little bit of both, but the reality is that the fastest path to more revenue is the second thing that you focus on. It's much harder and longer term effort to double your traffic than it is to double the number of leads you're getting that ultimately turned into customers. And I'm sure the same is true of repeat purchasing and things like that. Kathleen: When you talk about ultimate impact on the business, trying to squeeze more juice out of the orange you already have is always a better approach in the short term, certainly, than trying to grow more oranges. Joris: No, absolutely. And I think a lot of business owners, they're so focused on traffic that they forget there's other ways to double their revenue. And I get it. In the beginning, the fastest way to grow is adding more traffic, and especially PPC. If you pay for that traffic, it's going to get you quick growth. But at some point, you'll hit a plateau, and it's going to get harder and harder to attract relevant traffic because you can dump the traffic on our site. But if it's not relevant traffic, why bother, and why pay for it? And what I feel is by then, most business owners are so stuck in a traffic mindset that they look for ways to still make it work. Maybe I try something new, some new campaign or some new channel or fire their agency, work with another agency, whereas they miss out on the opportunity of working with what they already have and try to improve that instead. I think one question that helps is, do you want more traffic, or do we want more revenue? And when you put it like that- Kathleen: That's a pretty easy question to answer I would hope. Joris: Yeah, yeah. Right. And that's a bit of an eye-opener, but most business owners are so stuck in traffic mindset, whereas there's a lot of potential in increasing the order levers. I think for e-commerce, the formula that I always use is revenue equals your traffic times your conversion rate times your average order value times your purchase frequency. There's only four levers that you can grow your e-commerce. There's nothing else. If we're talking about your own life story, you can start selling on marketplaces. That's a different story. But if we're working on your online store, it's still those four levers. Yet, most companies focus only on traffic, and they miss out on the other three levers, whereas if you look at that formula and you can increase these three other levers by 30% each, which is pretty doable, then you double your revenue. And doubling your traffic sometimes it's going to be very, very hard. For me, it's sometimes a mystery why people get so stuck in a traffic mindset when there's auto levers that you can pull. Kathleen: Well, and I think everything you just said honestly applies to, really, almost any type of business. And in fact, I just had this conversation last week. I have a weekly marketing meeting with my team, and we had been tracking traffic and conversion rates and all that stuff. But we're also tracking marketing source, pipeline and revenue. And it was really interesting meeting because I've been feeling lately like I'm beating my head against the wall trying to increase traffic. And it isn't working as quickly as I would like it to, but my marketing source revenue is really good. And so I finally said, "You know what? I'm not even going to report on traffic anymore," because, clearly, it's not a good leading indicator for what really matters. And I don't want to keep pouring a lot of time and energy into changing a number that isn't going to get us necessarily where we need to go. It's not that I'm not going to ever work on traffic anymore, but I do feel like as a marketer, I could let it really eat away at me when it doesn't need to. So I think your point is really well taken. Kathleen: But what I want to start with on this topic is, how do you know if your conversion rates aren't good? How do you know if you're functioning in a way that there's real low-hanging fruit from conversion optimization? Because I think a lot of the marketers I've talked to in principle are fans of it. Everybody says, "Sure. We should all optimize our conversions to the greatest extent possible." But I do feel like there's this feeling out there that, well, I already have a pretty well running system, so why should I invest in that? So how do you look at your existing funnel, your existing business, and identify whether that is the right thing to invest in and when it is the right time to invest? Joris: Yeah. That's an excellent question. I think, first of all, I've never seen a site that cannot be improved. So we've always made our clients a lot of money. You can always improve. So never assume that you're at the top of your game and you cannot improve anymore. The second thing is always look at, for me, it's Google Analytics. So look at the data and try to figure out where you're losing money. So it's really about finding those areas on your site. Maybe there's a huge drop off in a certain page. Look at bounce rates as well. If you drive a lot of traffic to a certain page with very high bounce rates, start there. So look at those numbers in Google Analytics, and that'll tell you where you have opportunities. And whenever you can, try to also put a number to it in terms of dollar value. Joris: Let's say you have on a cart page on an e-commerce site. So you have a 50% drop off. So people reach the cart page and 50% drops off. There's always going to be drop off. But what you try to do there is, what if we can get it up to 60% going through to the checkout, so only 40% drop off? What would that represent in terms of annual revenue? Then you can look at, let's say, checkout pages and see what the drop off is there and what would be a more normal level and try to put a number to it or a dollar value to it on a yearly basis. And then you know where you have to start because if one page represents a problem that could, basically, if it's fixed, maybe you can get a $200,000 a year extra. And the other one is $1 million a year extra, you know where to start and start digging further to understand why that is happening. So we always start with where it's happening, and then you try to figure out why that is happening and try to solve that problem, basically. Kathleen: I like how you frame this. If I look at my Google Analytics and I find a page that has a really high bounce rate, in this case, maybe it's my cart page, I've identified where. And then how do I go about identifying why? What's that process look like? Joris: So there's different research methods that you can apply here. What I find is one of the most effective ones is user testing. So basically, you give a couple of assignments to regular people who they have to do those assignments. They have to comment out loud what they're doing. And if you're doing that remotely, you'll get a screen recording of it as well. And you see them moving through your site trying to do the assignments that you gave them, and they have to comment out loud. And it's going to give you a lot of insights. It doesn't always have to be that kind of setup. You could just ask someone random, I don't know, in a Starbucks or something and pay them for a coffee and say, "Hey, do you want to take five minutes and go over to my site and say what you think," something like that. Just try to get feedback from people who actually use the site. And that's usually going to be one of the most valuable things. Joris: Obviously, we look at it ourselves as well. We are conversion experts, so we know what might be issues. But you always have to test it and never assume that you're right because as an expert, we sometimes get it wrong because what works on one site doesn't necessarily work on another site. And I know a lot of people don't grasp that idea. They think, oh, it should work on every site, but that's not the case. So you can look at click maps and scroll maps. You can record visitor recordings so that you see people moving through the site. So there's a bunch of research methods that you can use to get some qualitative feedback. You can also, which is very good one, is on the checkout. So basically, on a thank-you page, you can trigger a survey, ask a couple of open-ended questions so that you get valuable, qualitative feedback because that's the thing. It's not always about percentages and the hard data that you find in analytics. You have to understand the why. So the qualitative feedback is going to get you so much further than trying to look at the hard data. And you really have to try and step into the minds of your consumers. That's where tools like user testing and surveys come in and can give you very valuable insights. Kathleen: I love those little surveys. And I know there's a lot of tools out there from Hotjar to Lucky Orange and platforms like that that you can use to create them. But I've tried using them before, and I don't get many submissions. And so I'm wondering, what is a typical survey response rate? And are there any ways to increase the odds of getting somebody to actually fill it out? Joris: So there's two ways to do it. You can set it up before someone checks out, so before they buy. So it's visitors, not consumers, and that's different. Your response rate is going to be lower than when you do it after the checkout, for instance, or you send them an email with a questionnaire. In that case, you're going to get a lot of responses. If you trigger that Hotjar pop-up to any visitors, it's really going to depend on the quality of your traffic as well, the timing of the pop-up because I often see those pop-ups really being [inaudible 00:15:05] after five seconds. And I don't even know what you do yet, And you already asked me what your experience is on the site. Kathleen: How long do you think it should be? Or should it be on exit? Joris: Well, it could be an exit, for instance. If you look at the average time on site in Google Analytics, that's when you know it's probably going to be somewhat qualified visitor already. They've spent some time on the site. And I would start there and trigger it there, and then you can start playing around. Another thing that helps- Kathleen: Wait, I just want to make sure I understand what you just said. Do you look at Google Analytics for that specific page and see how long people spend on that page or the overall session length? Joris: Yeah, session length. So basically if you see a session length is on average one minute 27 seconds, then you trigger it at one minute 27 seconds to start with. And you'll see what happens. You'll get much better feedback also because people that bounce usually are not interested anyway. It might be a mismatch, so it's not only about the amount of responses that you get but also quality of feedback that you get. So you've got to play around with those things. And there's no one formula for that, but it's just a couple of criteria that you can use and play around with it. Another thing that you can do is ask two questions, and the first one is a yes or no question. And then the second one, you expand on that and have an open-ended question because what happens is people want to be consistent. So if they've clicked on yes or no and then you ask them a follow-up question, you'll get better feedback. More people will fill that out. So that's a good way or another way to test. Joris: Never make it longer than that if it's one of those pop-ups before someone buys. If it's after the checkout, you can ask more questions. People will be more involved already. So I don't have a hard answer there. It should be this percentage, but you just have to try and improve what you already have. I think that's the main message here because it can vary wildly. Also, if you have a site with a lot of diehard fans and you have a good, interesting brand and a lot of brand fans, you're going to get much more response. Yeah. It's [crosstalk 00:17:19]. Kathleen: No, that's good feedback. I like the idea of looking at session length. That certainly is a little bit more scientific than just randomly picking a number of seconds. So I have a bunch of questions on this topic. So I've been in the situation before where I know I have a page that has issues, and it's that feeling of like, oh my God, where do I start? And you can certainly go to user testing, and there are other things like that. But I also know there's some gold to be mined within Google Analytics. And sometimes the issues you have have to do with devices or browsers. So how do you approach sussing out whether the issue is something that's on the page or whether it's more of a device or browser issue? Joris: Yeah, that's an excellent question. And I think it's a matter of keep asking the right question. So when you see a number that looks off, then you have to think, oh, okay, is this only on mobile? This is on desktop as well. Is this on a specific browser? So you start checking all those reports. There's no one way to go about it. You start very high level to see if there's some numbers that seem a little bit off, and then you start digging and look at segments and apply other reports and that kind of stuff. And it's a matter of asking the right questions and being curious and really trying to figure it out. And you can spend a lot of time in Google Analytics before you find something that is off and find a reason for it. Joris: It could be bot traffic for instance as well. If you see very high bounce rates, then you might want to look into, is it a specific browser or even a browser version causing this? Is it only on the homepage? Is all the traffic going to the home page? Do you see 98% bounce rate or 99% bounce rate? It's probably a bot. If that then comes all from one location, it's very likely it is a bot, and you have to exclude that traffic and it's just skewing your data. So you really have to keep asking questions to find the answer. And I start at high level and then dig deeper. Kathleen: So wait, the bot traffic thing is fascinating to me. What do you do about it? How do you fix that? Joris: Yeah. You can exclude some of the bot traffic if it's really clear. If, let's say, it's all from one particular location, you could [crosstalk 00:19:46]- Kathleen: Meaning one IP address? Joris: ... for instance. Yeah. You could just exclude that. Or it could be, let's say, even on an old Internet Explorer browser version, sometimes you see that it's sending bot traffic. And if you're like, oh, the only traffic that's coming in is from that bot, you could exclude that particular browser version as well. You try to find a unique identifier for that bot, and then you exclude it. Sometimes it's just impossible to do, but at least you give it a try and see if you can find one unique identifier that you can filter out. Kathleen: And then, I've always been taught with any conversion optimization or any A/B test you only change one thing at a time. So walk me through when you're trying to really optimize a specific page. You pick one thing, and how long do you let that experiment run? Is it a matter of time? Is it a matter of volume of page visits? How do you know when that experiment is up and it's time to move to the next thing? Because I'm assuming these all layer on top of each other. You're testing multiple things sequentially, correct? Joris: Yeah. So typically, we test on several pages at the same time. So you could have a test running on all product pages. So we don't test on one product page, but on all product pages at the same time, when I'm collections pages or category pages, one on the cart, one on checkout pages. So you could have those running simultaneously. Well, you have to have enough data before you call it. And usually, what we look for is, to make it simple, It's more complex than that, but is at least 300, 400 transactions per variation. So you need quite a bit of traffic to pull it off. And I like to or I prefer to say the number of transactions rather than in traffic because, ultimately, that's the main conversion that you're tracking. So you need at least 300, 400 transactions per variation, and you always have to let it run in increments of seven days. The reason for that is you can see a big difference. On a Thursday night conversion rate, could be totally different than on a Sunday morning. And a variation on a Thursday night could work better because it triggers something in your consumer that is relevant at that point, but it could work not so well on a Sunday morning or the other way around. Kathleen: Right. The type of person who shops on Thursday night might be completely different behaviorally than the type of person who's shopping Sunday morning. Joris: Absolutely. Yeah. Especially if, for instance, you're going to buy something you need on Saturday, so you need it to be delivered on Friday. Then you're going to decide a lot quicker than on Sunday morning. So there's different times of the day, different days of the week that have different conversion rates and different behavior from your consumers. So always run a test in increments of seven days. So if you have enough data after five days, sit it out. Wait until you have full seven days. If you have enough data after eight or nine days, too bad, you have to wait 14 days. We had one client where we joked about it because on Friday nights, it was always like, oh, this variation seems to be winning, and on Monday morning, it was totally flipped. So the behavior- Kathleen: Interesting. Joris: ... on the weekends was usually completely different there. So it's really something to do to be very strict about. And if you do this for clients and you look over your shoulder and you look in the A/B testing tool, you have to educate them on that because they're going to be like, "Yeah, but we have enough data. This version wins. Let's implement it." No. Just be calm. Let's give it some time because you don't want to implement something that ultimately ends up being a loser because then it's going to cost you money. Kathleen: Yeah. So this is interesting to me. And I started thinking about this as you were talking because you mentioned doing something on a category page or product page, a cart page. Any given customer, and I'm not telling you anything you don't know, goes through a journey. And when they're on their path to purchase, even in an individual session, they're going to visit a lot of different pages on your site. And so I already mentioned once changing only one thing. So if you're doing an experiment on your cart page, you pick one thing to change and you test it. But how does that reconcile with the fact that a customer has this journey, they're visiting all these different pages on your site, if you have experiments running on your category page, your product page, there is a chance that that person in their single journey to purchase could encounter three different experiments at once on three different pages. It's one thing to say we're testing a change on the cart page, but if there are experiments going on three, how do you know what really led to that purchase? I feel like that's where it starts to get complicated. How many things can you have going at one time on different pages? Joris: That's a very good question. And it's something that a lot of people struggle with. Just the easy version is as long as you equally divide the traffic for every test, there's no issue because let's say you have two tests running, one on a product page and one on a cart page. Now, 50% of your traffic is going to see the one on the cart page. No, sorry, 25% version A on the cart page. 25% is going to see version A on the product, version B on the cart. And 25% is going to see version B on the product and version A on the cart. And 25% is going to see version B and version B. So it's hard to follow and very hard to explain without a visual, but bottom line is if you divide the traffic equally, there's no issue. Kathleen: So it basically allows you to create cohorts, and each cohort has one single experiment running for them. Joris: Yeah. You could also double check all of that in Analytics, for instance, by making a segment. So anyone who's seen version A here, if you suspect some influence from one to the other, then you can basically make those segments in Analytics and see if there's a different behavior and a different outcome. So you could double check that. Apart from that, there's also something like a multi-page experiments. So let's say you want to test something that is on several pages at the same time. A typical one would be the navigation or the footer or a benefits bar with all those USPs you typically see on an e-commerce store. That's something that is across pages. That's not an issue either because it's very consistent across all those pages. So sometimes you want to set up a multi-page experiment as well. If someone does something on the product page and this needs to happen on the cart page, that could be an option as well. But I'm making it a bit complicated. So it really depends on what you're testing, but if it's two separate tests and you split the traffic evenly, there's no issue. Kathleen: So as I listen to you talk about this, I'm fascinated because this is not my primary area of expertise. But I'm also a little intimidated because it's starting to sound like you, A, could potentially need to be really, really well-trained in this, and B, it sounds like it could be a complex tech stack to support this, having these multiple experiments running with different cohorts going through your site. Can you talk me through really what does it take to pull this off? Joris: Yeah. So I think in terms of tech, if you have Google Optimize, it works perfectly fine as perfect tool to get started. It's free. We still use it a lot for a lot of our clients. There's other tools out there as well, but don't spend any money if you can do it with Google Optimize. So that's the tech side of things. For the rest, it's a matter of understanding a couple of best practices as well in terms of how to set up a test, like let them run in seven days, let them run long enough, how you need to analyze those tests. I describe all of that step-by-step in my book without making it needlessly complex because what I find myself is the whole CRO community likes to make things complicated and sound very high level and a lot of statistical stuff in there as well to make them look smart. Kathleen: Yes. And it makes me feel really dumb. Joris: Absolutely. Kathleen: [crosstalk 00:28:43]. Joris: No, no. Absolutely. I think that's a mistake from CRO community because we alienate people we do this for because they don't understand it. And it is complex. There's a lot going on when you do a conversion optimization. At the end of the day, you need to know a lot about design, about copywriting, psychology. This takes research, all that kind of stuff. So it is a hard discipline to grasp, and there's a lot of misconceptions about it. And clients don't always understand it. And then on top of that, as a CRO community tend to make it look much harder than it actually is. That was one of the reasons I wanted to write my book, is make it as pragmatic as possible without... My objective was not to make me look smart but really to help people out. And usually, people in CRO community want to look smart. I had a discussion about that the other day on LinkedIn, where someone was attacking me because I didn't share all the statistical stuff behind an A/B test. And it was like, I think that's not always needed. It's about inspiration, about opening their eyes. [inaudible 00:29:55]. Obviously, that's our duty as well. But if we use all that statistical stuff around it, we scare people off. And as you said, they, they feel dumb themselves. Kathleen: Yeah, and then they check out. Joris: Yeah, absolutely. And we're marketeers. We say it to our clients. Hey, you have to understand your clients and speak their language, and then we don't do it ourselves. So there's a big gap there, I think, in the CRO community and a big responsibility in the CRO community as well. But most of the CROs, they just want to look smart, and that's a mistake, I think. Kathleen: Well, I appreciate that, that you are focused on making it accessible, because I will be the first to admit that sometimes I read this stuff, and I think I just must not be smart enough to fully understand it. So I want to do a few rapid fire questions for you on this theme of debunking myths and making it more accessible to people. The first one is, and you alluded to this earlier, why should people be running A/B tests? Why can't they just read a best practice somewhere and do it on their site or look at what their competitor's doing and do it on their site? Joris: Yeah. We see that all the time. So there's something called best practices. I prefer to call them prototypical principles or common practices because what we see is when you test the best practice on a site, it may fail and cost you money. We've seen that many, many times. So there's just no way of predicting it. Those are great way to start. If you're just starting out, use those best practices by all means. But then at some point, you'll have to start questioning is this actually working for me. And if you have the volume to the test, then you definitely should start testing it. So the word best practices is very misleading. Joris: The second part of your question, following what anyone else is doing, that's also thinking, first of all, they know what they're doing. Kathleen: They're right, exactly. Joris: So you assume that. That's not true. Or you think like, oh, I know they're [inaudible 00:32:00], but then you're assuming that they've already beat us at that, which may not be the case. If it's, let's say, a call to action, maybe they haven't even tested it yet, so it may not be working. It may be a problem for them. And then you're maybe implementing problems on your site. You don't know their data. You don't know anything, and you just assume that they are doing a good job. And you just implement it. And it's very dangerous to just follow what your competitors are doing. The only situation in which you can do it for me is when you see you have a problem and there's an issue and you're looking for inspiration on how do other people solve it or go about that problem and maybe work around it, and then you start testing different solutions. So you can go out there and look for some inspiration, but don't just follow it and implement it. Kathleen: That makes sense. Use it as the basis to inspire your tests as opposed to assuming that the test has been successful. Joris: Absolutely. Kathleen: So if somebody is listening and they're in e-commerce and they're thinking, okay, I'm willing to give this a shot, what are three things that you think they should start out doing A/B tests on? Joris: Yeah. First of all, start doing the research. You'll know where your problems are. But where we often see a lot of opportunities is anything around value proposition on the homepage. If you don't have that yet, that's usually a good area to start. Then anything else that underlines your USPs, basically, and that gives people a reason to buy from you, and especially if those reasons are unique. We see a lot of value around that as well. And then what I think is usually a good place to start as well, product pages, anywhere in what I call the decision area. So anything near the picture and the button, anything you can improve there is usually also a good place to start. But product page in general usually is a place where you can make a lot of improvements. Joris: But do the research first, and try to understand where your biggest problems are because I remember one time where working for client, and we were testing on the product pages. We just looked in Google Analytics, and we saw they had a huge drop off in one of the steps in their checkout. So they were losing millions of euros, a Dutch client, of euros a year in that step in a checkout, but didn't even know it. And they were testing a product page, which was acceptable at every product page at the time. So look at the data first. That's the best place to start. Kathleen: So on that note, look at the data first, and you mentioned Google Analytics. We've all got it. It's the one tool I think all marketers use. At least all marketers that listen to this podcast I'm sure use it. What do you think? If we're going to rely on the data there, we better be looking at it correctly. Are there certain mistakes that you find that marketers make when looking through Google Analytics that somebody should be aware of if they're listening? Joris: Yeah. I think a lot of people focus on the wrong data. So focus on those data that are actionable and [inaudible 00:35:06] metrics. What I would say as some test if you're looking at the right data, always ask yourself, how can I use this to improve my site or my marketing? How can I use this number to improve it? If it's time on site, for instance, you can use that to trigger a Hotjar pop-up, but that's about it. If time on site increases, it could be that people have a harder time to find what they're looking for. So you can not really use that metric. Yet, some people look at that metric. So ask yourself that question. I think that helps because what I find is that most people don't have a lack of data. There's not a lack of data but lack of insights. And they get overwhelmed by the amount of data and analytics, and they don't really know where to look. And so we always ask the question, how can I use that? And if you don't have an answer, then don't use those data. Kathleen: Yeah. Your point is so good about session length and time on site. It seems like it would be good to increase it, but it's true. If somebody is frustrated and not finding what they want, they could have a long time on site or, what I find often happens, if they're a job seeker and they're reading all of your content. I'm in B2B SaaS, and the DIYers, the ones who are never going to buy from you, but they're like, I'm going to read all the educational content so that I know how to do this myself, those are the people that spend a lot of time on site, whereas somebody who comes in knowing they want to buy often has a very short time on site because they're high intent, going right to your contact us page and filling it out. Kathleen: And it's funny because I used to look at this too when I had my agency. We would try to look at patterns of people who bought from you, how many pieces of content did they consume, thinking, gosh, is there some rule where if somebody consumes more than 30 pieces of content, then they're a good lead? And I found actually it was almost like the inverse was true, that the customers that were converting consume very little content on site because they came in ready to buy. So it's really interesting, And I do think you have to question the assumptions that you have as a marketer before you go and try to implement changes. Well, last question on conversion because I am just curious. What is a good conversion rate? And I guess we'll talk about e-commerce because that's where your expertise is. Joris: Yeah. Absolutely. And it's a question I get a lot. And the only right question is a good conversion rate is one that's better than last month's. Just look at yourself because there's I know there's benchmarks out there, and people always want to look at benchmarks. But that doesn't really help you. Benchmarks usually you mention it's 2%, 2.2%, but it depends on so many variables. Kathleen: And is that for a visitor to purchase conversion? Joris: Yeah, yeah. Kathleen: Okay. Joris: Yeah. But it doesn't mean anything. If your average order value is $20 and you have a 3% conversion rate, you might think based on a benchmark that you're doing all right. But I would say your site probably sucks because it's only $20 average order value. You could probably get it up to six, eight or maybe even higher. And so you could be complacent about it. Whatever. It's 3%. I'm doing good. Whereas if your average order value is $1,000 and you're a 2%, yes, then you're probably doing pretty good. Or you might be at 1% and thinking, oh, I should be improving a lot. I can easily go to 2%, maybe more. [inaudible 00:38:46] a little bit difficult to get to 2%, but you could probably get it to 1.2%, 1.5%, and it could be a lot of money as well. So there's a whole bunch of factors out there, also the quality of the traffic that you drive to your site. So I would suggest don't pay too much attention to benchmarks. And I get it. People want to have an idea. Am I doing all right or not? But basically, just look at your conversion rate from the past and try to improve that. The only good conversion rate is one that's better than last month's. Kathleen: That's great advice. All right. We're going to shift gears because I can talk with you about this forever, and I feel like I'm getting a masterclass here. But I have two questions I always ask my guests. And I'm just curious about your viewpoints on this. The first is, of course, this podcast is focused on inbound marketing, and the definition of inbound has evolved quite a bit. And so I really look at it as anything you're doing to attract the right type of customer to your business. So when you think of it that way, is there a particular company or individual that you think is really raising the bar or setting a great standard for what it means to be an inbound marketer today? Joris: Yeah. I think there's a couple of marketers that I follow and I look at. I tend to follow people more than brands. And you could say they're brands, so all their personal brands. I think when it comes to anything B2B on LinkedIn Marketing, I very much follow Matthew Hunt. He's doing a great job in anything small business marketing and startup marketing related. I really look up to Noah Kagan from AppSumo. Makes great YouTube stuff and great videos, and you just keep binge watching them. And he has a great style but also great advice. And when it comes to e-commerce, there's two people. I tend to follow Ryan Daniel Moran and Ezra Firestone. I think Ezra Firestone, he does a lot of inbound marketing the right way. And he experiments a lot and invests a lot of money in trying new techniques and then sharing those findings with his audience. I think Ryan Daniel Moran is really good in terms of building e-commerce brands and making it less complex because we tend to over-complicate things, and he makes it less complex and helps you focus on what really matters. Kathleen: Oh, interesting. I'll have to check those out. Those are some new ones for me. All right, second question. The marketers I've talked to consistently say that one of their biggest pain points is just keeping up with everything that's changing in the world of digital marketing. How do you personally stay educated? Are there certain sources of information that you really rely on to stay on top of your game? Joris: Yeah, it's hard to stay on top of the game. Fortunately, in conversion optimization, it's pretty evergreen. New things emerge, new tools, for instance. And obviously, you want to follow all of that. But if you look at a global digital marketing game, it changes every single day. And there's a lot of marketeers that suffer from shiny object syndrome, I guess. And you see something, you want to try it out, whereas I believe that you got to be consistent and try to find what works and give it a real shot because don't try it just today and then give up tomorrow. Sometimes you have to make a choice and stick with it for a while. So I suffer from that myself, shiny object syndrome. So I try to stay away from too many things that distract me from the real path that I want to walk on. Joris: I think in terms of getting new trends, LinkedIn is my source of information. If my network shares, it's probably going to be worth reading. So that's where I spend most of my time, is on LinkedIn. And that's where I discover. And then when I see there's a topic that really is important to go deeper, I just buy a course or read a book. So I stay away from too many blog posts because it's so fragmented. You don't know who wrote it. You don't know if they know what they're doing. And when it comes to courses, I think CXL Institute is a really good source of high quality courses. So that's where I look first as really... Yeah, CXL for me is benchmark when it comes to marketing courses. Kathleen: Well, I am a huge fan of Peep Laja, so I definitely agree with that. He was an early guest on the podcast too, and he's doing great work and, in fact, when it comes to message testing has a really neat new platform called Winter, W-I-N-T-E-R, that if you're listening and you haven't checked it out, you should, for sure. Joris: Yeah, absolutely. For B2B, it's a great tool. Kathleen: Yeah. I found it really useful in my experiments. Actually, it's funny. I recently interviewed Chris Walker from Refine Labs, and he talked about how at a certain point in your career, you really can't rely on outside educational materials to stay on top of your game. At some point, it has to be about doing your own experiments and doing the work and testing. And so I feel like as somebody in the field of conversion optimization, you have a leg up because that's literally what you do for a living. So that's great. Well, if somebody is listening and they're interested in connecting with you or learning more, what's the best way for them to find you online? Joris: Yeah. So on LinkedIn, I'm pretty active there. So just to add me on LinkedIn. And then you can also email me, joris@dexter.agency. And if you want to learn about this yourself, you can download the free PDF version of my... You could buy it on Amazon, but you can download a free PDF version on dexter.agency/free-book. And there, you can get a free PDF version of the book. If you want to get started yourself, just check a few things, like what are best practices about A/B testing, what we talked about. So that's all in there. Kathleen: That's great. And I will put those links in the show notes. So if you're listening and you're interested in connecting with Joris or getting a copy of the book, just head there, and you can hit the links and get all of that information. And if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, you learned something new, please consider heading to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leaving a review. That's how other folks find us. And, of course, if you know somebody doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @WorkMommyWork because I would love to make them my next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you for joining me, Joris. This was so interesting. Joris: Thanks for having me. It was great to be here.


    Ep. 201: Multi-location and franchise marketing, ft. Amy Anderson

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 28, 2021 43:34


    When it comes to multi-location or franchise marketing, the key is balancing centralized brand control with hyper-local marketing. This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Wild Coffee Marketing co-founder Amy Anderson explains how her team approaches managing the marketing strategies for some of the countries biggest franchise brands. From working with Franchise Advisory Councils (FACs) to leveraging technology to deploy consistent marketing messages across geographically distant franchise locations, Amy shares insider tips and insights on how her team helps franchises achieve their growth goals. Check out the full episode to get the details. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.) Resources from this episode: Check out the Wild Coffee Marketing website Connect with Amy on LinkedIn Check out Propellant Media and Strategus to learn more about geofencing Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I am your host, Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is Amy Anderson, who is the co-founder of Wild Coffee Marketing. Welcome to the podcast, Amy. Amy (00:24): Thank you so much for having me, Kathleen. I'm super excited to be here. Kathleen (00:27): This is going to be a ton of fun because we're going to talk about something we have not talked about yet on this podcast, which now that we're almost 200 episodes in is, it's pretty rare. So I always get really excited about these episodes. But before we jump into our discussion topic, tell my audience a little bit about yourself, what Wild Coffee Marketing is and kind of how you ended up doing what you're doing. Amy (00:50): Well, I can't believe it's been almost 30 years of a marketing career that went by very, very quickly. And I actually started in the media business in New York right after college, I moved there and I worked at 17 Magazine and I loved the pace of it. You know what, 21 year old woman does not want to work at 17 for a bit, but I had a really hard struggle with the accountability and the performance of print bothered me back then. And so I ended up in broadcast actually at Calvin Klein cosmetics, where I was managing $70 million of co-op funds for radio and television. And I love that we at least had Nielsen data, right? So at least we understood audience and then pure play internet media came on. Right? So in the mid nineties and I worked at the New York times digital, I was part of the original group that had launched with my times.com and that was gated content, right? Amy (01:41): So you had to register, you still do, and now it's paid, right? So that was my first foray into sort of personalized content, registration, data, user data. And I've sort of been obsessed with it ever since. And running marketing departments then and B2B and tech and financial services. So I stayed home for a few years raising my young sons. And when I went back into the market, I would have had to have a really sort of senior job at that point. Cause it had been 20 plus years and I wanted the flexibility to be able to raise my young kids and started consulting. And I joined forces with my former boss who is now my business partner, Solomon Wancier. And we founded Wild Coffee Marketing, knowing that there is a place in this market for sort of this hybrid model, right part consulting firm and part agency. So we're very heavy on sort of strategy and advisory services, but we also implement what we recommend or we can. And it's been a really great three and a half years so far. Kathleen (02:41): I have a bunch of questions, the first one, and I'm sure you've gotten this many times in the past. How did you come up with the name Wild Coffee? Amy (02:50): Well, I was living in Miami for 17 years and an area called Coconut Grove where you'd have to like knock back all the weeds and foliage with. I mean, it is jungley and there's a native plant called Wild Coffee that grew all over my property and it was hardy and beautiful and sort of energetic plant that was hard to keep back and it attracts birds and butterflies and bees. And I was sitting in my office one day and I said, you know, if I ever form a company it's going to be called Wild Coffee. And it's been a lot of fun for us because it has a lot of fun brand extensions that we are able to work with. Kathleen (03:25): Yeah, that's neat. I had to sort of chuckle when you talked about Nielsen ratings being the thing that got you into being like a data-driven marketer, because wasn't it, I feel like in the last two months, Nielsen has come under fire for mismeasuring just recently. And it's just, it just points to like how far this stuff has come in that time period. Like in a short amount of time, the way we measure has gotten so much more sophisticated and we're able to have such a higher degree of accuracy. It's, it's pretty fascinating to me to, to track. Are you still doing a lot in broadcast now or no? Amy (04:03): They're doing some OTT actually the over the top for one of our actual multi location franchise clients and that, you know, I always preface it when I'm at a cocktail party or at a meeting or speaking to a group and you have to sort of say, I know the creepy factor is there that we're kind of continuing your journey from the internet into broadcast in your home, but there's also no sort of margin for error anymore with tracking right there last, you know, last attribution and things like that, that you can't be wrong. So when Nielsen comes on their fire for things like that, it's just, it's unacceptable at this point. Yeah. We're expected to be accurate all the time. Well, Kathleen (04:39): And I also feel like, yes, there are a lot of people out there who, who complained vocally about being tracked and all that. But I've had a lot of conversations recently, recently, especially since apple started doing a way with, you know, cookies and things like that, where people are saying, I kind of want to be tracked because I want the ads I see to be relevant. Like I was joking with somebody who said, you know, my advice to all the men out there was get your mother's day presents before apple, deprecates the cookie, because all you have to do is go look in their feed and see everything they like, and that's not going to be there anymore. And so it is interesting that I think there are people who, who it's, we're very divided as a society in terms of what we want. Amy (05:23): I agree. And you want things to be personalized and relevant, but there's a price that comes with that. You know, some of the geo-fencing that we're doing. I mean, I'll tell when we have multi location, highly localized marketing that I know if you've been in Orange Theory or Publix in a shopping center and it's highly effective for us in some ways, but I understand sort of the creepy factor of it, but at least I'm going to serve you something that makes sense to you. Kathleen (05:49): So let's actually get into that a little bit because the topic that we're talking about that we haven't talked about before is multi location or franchise marketing, you know, and we've talked about probably every aspect of marketing in some way or the other for single businesses or single locations. But it's very interesting to me when you start talking about franchises because not only are we talking about multi location, but with franchises specifically, we're really talking about multi owner as well. And like, how do you craft marketing programs that, that are manageable with such a broad constituency for them, but then also protect the integrity of the core brand. I'm fascinated by that, because this is the kind of thing that if it's not managed correctly could like really do a lot of damage. Amy (06:39): We talk about the rogue franchisee, right? So that's a thing. It's interesting for us. It's fascinating because it is a, it's like, it almost is a marketing program that has tension in it, right? So you have the corporate roles, which is, you know, brand, getting new franchisors franchisors on board, multi unit location investors. So you have this sort of corporate aspect and then you have this theory sort of hyper localized and they have different goals, right. So one is brand value, equity, consistency of message. Growth. And then at the local level, it's like, okay, that's all really nice and well in science, baby, give me the leads. Yeah, exactly. Amy (07:27): Meets the road for sure. Absolutely. And it's two totally different strategies. So how do you bridge that? And I think you have to have two disparate programs. I mean, there has to be a corporate marketing team of corporate marketing focus and plan that may be PR, right? So we have, one of our clients has a hundred plus locations. They recently hired a celebrity, sort of endorsed her, but he bought 20 locations. So what do you do with that and him and PR at a corporate level, but then how do you make that translate into local markets? And one is that we use pretty sophisticated technology and platforms to push whatever we want at a corporate level, to the local level. So we'll say, Hey, you can pick from all this social content in this platform that we use, but we're also going to push some things and you have to be okay with that because there are certain messages that have to trickle down, but otherwise we're going to give you evergreen and promotional content that you can pull. Kathleen (08:19): And I assume that that's all baked into the franchise agreements so that the framework is there from the start. Amy (08:27): Yes. And we actually have another client that has a hundred corporate owned locations, right? So that's a little easier because they're corporate owned, you have more flexibility. Franchises usually will even have a council, right. They call it the FAC and those people are representing interests of the individual franchises. So you've got this local strategy, delivering leads, putting together that sort of program. And then they come to you as a group with, okay, this is what we need to have you do to improve this. So it's just a lot of sort of moving parts, a lot of dynamics and you have to be super flexible and focused on performance and focus on overall growth at the same time of the actual brand. Kathleen (09:06): And it's interesting because prior to my life in marketing, I actually worked in what I would call stakeholder consensus building for, for large public sector reform projects. And it was about building up grassroots support at the ground level so that these projects could like could, could go through their life cycle without getting derailed essentially by opposition. And I feel like what you just described is exactly also that, because like, if you, from what I'm hearing, if you go into this and you haven't got the, not just the buy-in of corporate, who I'm assuming is your customer, but then you don't take the time to really socialize what you're, what you're going to do with the franchisees, or at least this CA this council of representatives, then that's going to cause a lot of problems down the road. Is that accurate? Amy (09:52): That's absolutely accurate. Yeah. And it's, it's, it's representing lots of different interests showing performance results, you know? Yes. The corporate, the corporate group and the C-suite is our client, but we also care very deeply about these people who in many cases have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars. They're small business owners, right? So maybe 41 of our clients, all the locations are owned by 48 people out of 110. So some have multiple, but we really care about what happens. And I think you've probably seen this over the years in B2B marketing and in marketing, if you don't love and care about your salespeople and their experience and their needs, you will never be successful. And that's sort of the case here that I see that they have they're with customers in store, they have their own set of challenges, especially in COVID. Right. So I just think that sort of empathetic approach to those people and delivering their needs is a foundation for a lot of our strategy. Kathleen (10:53): So now, in terms of how you work with these companies, you said often corporate is your client, is that right? Yes. And are you doing the corporate marketing and, and some of the PR as well as the actual local marketing, or are they bringing you in to take on the local piece? Amy (11:10): That is a really good question. It depends, in some cases we will actually manage the localized digital agency. That's doing lead generation for a fee per location. So they'll be doing sort of local paid digital. And then we handle it, the corporate level SEO overall all of the PR and then social media usually, although, you know, that's sort of the agreement that you have is okay, please, because really sort of genuine engagement at the local level is super important. So go ahead and create your own social, but we are going to provide you a library to supplement that. And then we're also going to push things to your page sometimes, cause that's really important too. So it's sort of creating this hybrid model of that and we love managing the localized agencies cause they're typically very good at what they do. Franchises usually get a choice of three to four to work with. Kathleen (12:06): Interesting. So when you come into a new client, walk me through how you break it down because this feels like, like eating an elephant. I hate that analogy, but I'm going to use it anyway. Like you've got to do it one bite at a time. And so there, cause there is a lot that could be done here. So, so how do you, do you have like a mental model for how you tackle this? Amy (12:28): Absolutely. I mean, any engagement that we start with always has a positioning, right? So we all use April Dunford and work with her. You know, we love all, I love her too. So we all sort of have that foundational work that we do with the brand, right? So you have to identify who all your personas are, what matters to them. And once you mobilize all of that in the positioning, we usually start with corporate, understand the growth targets, understand what's worked, what hasn't, where they're trying to go. We have a client now that's trying to go from one 20 to 240 locations. They are a stretching gym and they have had zero problems after COVID, which is incredible. I think people are ready to be out and wellness is very important to all of us. So really sort of working at the corporate level and then going in and looking at their funnel, right? So what's the awareness phase, what's consideration and conversion, and then starting to deploy local strategies on top of that, for example, we know 97% of consumers engage in local search when working, looking for a local business, right? So what do those Google My Business pages look like? What is happening with all their directories? And imagine all the directories times a hundred locations, the scalability is tremendous. So you have to have a centralized sort of command center to start doing that. Kathleen (13:49): And are there any particular tools that you find really helpful? I mean, I know I've used like some rushes, local SEO bolt-on there's Yext there's there used to be Moz local. I don't even know if it's still exists anymore. Like, are there certain platforms that you've found to be really scalable for that? Amy (14:06): Absolutely. We use Yext for some of our bigger sort of enterprise clients for that we're actually using a platform called Soci. So I don't know if you've heard of them. They're meant for multi location marketing, they offer the localized local pages, directory pages, social. So when I talk about creating those folders, pushing social app chat, we use them for, and really what's been super helpful recently is reviews. So right. So up to maybe 30 to 40 locations of a business, you can do a lot of things manually. You get to 50 plus, and that's where the scalability sort of shifts at a hundred. Plus you, you have to, so to look at reviews across a hundred locations has been super interesting. You get an sort of scale of sentiment, right? So you can see how's my, how, how am I? How's the health of all my locations? Amy (14:58): That visibility is really important. And then what we've seen, we actually have a formal ware client with a hundred locations rolling up in a single brand and that starting to happen. I'm in the middle quarter of the US. And you know, there's a lot with prom emerging. We're coming out of COVID massive mandates lifted. All of a sudden problems are happening. My son has a mock prom this weekend. It's sort of a fake one, but they're all going. And we're starting to see individual sort of tuxedo, formal wear specialists who are like rock stars in the market. So even helps you see visibility down to who likes whom and what stores and how can we surface that into social media content with like Tufts tips with Terry and things like that. That really give you three content ideas when you're actually looking at reviews and things on those pages. So tell Kathleen (15:48): Me, you said Soci. Tell me how that's spelled. Amy (15:51): S O C I. Kathleen (15:53): Okay. Interesting. Amy (15:54): Soci.com to look that up, but we work with them on, on several different deployments and it's just been really effective in helping us scale. Kathleen (16:03): It makes sense because it does sound like you would need a specialized program, rather platform for this. You talk about pushing updates out to different accounts and you know, I, I owned an agency for 11 years and, and boy, I remember the, when you first start working with brands, how, how terrified they are to give you you know, control over social, especially. And so what does that look like? Is it, is it complete control where you're able to come up with the creative and send it out? And as I imagine, then there's a process to get there with the trust or is it you're coming up with the creative, sending it to corporate, having it vetted and then pushing it into the system? Like what, how do you, how do you handle that? Amy (16:48): It's sort of a hybrid model. I think with that, you know, the local stores or local locations or studios, you know, whatever you're working with, really, they should be doing their own social media. We don't want know, say a restaurant chain came to us and wanted to do social. I mean, imagine us trying to take, you know, it just doesn't work as well. That'd be boring, it'd be stale. It feels corporate, right? So there's a lot of, a lot of, sort of in-store in boutique things that have to happen. We did launch associated with one of our clients and we did have an approval place process in place because there were some rogue Zs as we call them. And there were a lot of sort of off-brand graphics being used, maybe language and copy that wasn't quite on brand. And so we had it going through an approval process. Amy (17:37): We were, we were looking at posts, approving or giving feedback or suggestions. And then once that trust started to build, and once we started to push content out, then sort of that trust loop was closed. We stopped approving. That's great. Okay. You guys can fly on your own. And then we give them good content with good folders promotions, and it's all organized. And so she said they can pull down and then super important sort of corporate wide announcements, then they're like, okay. Yeah, that's interesting. You can go ahead and push it. So it's really trusting each other. And then everybody gets more comfortable. Kathleen (18:11): It's so important because I mean, having done this for several years and worked with different types of clients, like the, to me, the biggest problem with, with really succeeding on social very often is speed. Like you have to be able to capitalize on something's happening in the world and you, you comment on it or a trend pops up, you know, like I think back to the Bernie Sanders meme with him in the chair and the mittens and like the worst thing was when people were posting that a month later as though it was news and it's like, no, Amy (18:40): Three days, even three days later it was sort of done. Right? I feel like it peaked with the one of him on Melania's dress. There were so many good ones. Oh my gosh. But yeah. Kathleen (18:52): I mean, if you, because I worked with a lot of financial services firms and everything had to go through compliance and there came a point where it was like, why bother? You know, like if you can't move fast, it's not worth doing right. Amy (19:04): Well Matthew McConaughey was on Jimmy Kimmel talking about Al's former lawyer and we had a post in 45 minutes. So, I mean, that's how timely, I mean, even big days it makes you irrelevant sometimes. And you're absolutely right. That the speed is important. We are on it like that. And something came up recently about one of our clients was like, well, should I have one social media person in-house, you know, and named a very low salary level. And I said, that's so interesting that CEOs think that interns do social when it is your most visible right. Potentially vulnerable and most on-brand things you have to do. So, you know, we do have an in-house director of brand strategy who does social, she's a brilliant writer, PR crisis management background. You can't just throw that at, at a, you know, an entry-level person on your team and expect that it's going to really fly. Kathleen (20:03): Absolutely. And I think a lot of people confuse young with inexperienced. Cause there are, there are definitely a lot of young people who like, naturally get social really well. But there's a difference between young and understand social, but has no good judgment and young and understand social and how to use it for business, like, and the young and understand social and how to use it for business as the one who like gets paid the big bucks. Amy (20:29): And they're hard to find. They're a little Unicorny and this market we're always on the lookout for them. Because it's hard to scale that part of the business. Being in the agency world, you know this. Kathleen (20:41): And throw in sense of humor. And they're like the unicorn of unicorns. Amy (20:44): Well now we have short form video content, but if you get wrong, get really, really wrong, you know, and it's an area that we're ramping up more than more. I mean, I'm, I'm advanced in my career. You say Tik Tok to me and I start to sweat, you know, I look at my teenagers and I'm like, don't worry. Mom's not going back. Kathleen (21:01): I know I'm like, I've, I've, I've given it up on Tik TOK. And honestly I have to be on a Snapchat too. Like I just can't, I don't have the, I don't have the energy, but I also don't have to because I market B2B software. So luckily it doesn't hurt my career. Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, so let's talk a little bit about the hyper-local marketing because this thing it gets really interesting. And what I find fascinating about this is I think that franchise companies do do this really well because they're like able to do it at a micro level, but at scale. And so they have that experience to bring to bear, but everything they do is so applicable to other hyperlocal businesses that maybe just don't have the same experience and resources. And so I, I love this topic because I feel like if you own a local business and you really want to kill it, you can, if you're willing to put some effort into this area. And so I'm hoping that like, we're going to cover this and yes, there might be some, some things that like are out of reach for somebody who's local, but I also think there's going to be a lot of really good takeaways. Amy (22:04): Let's absolutely, I mean, the areas that we look at right first Google My Business. What does your local listing look like? I mean, that is your, the cornerstone of your digital footprint in search. Kathleen (22:15): Are you keeping it updated because especially during COVID, this became really obvious to me that there were people who maybe had taken the time to set up really good listings, but then didn't update them with their new COVID hours or protocols or what have you. And that there's nothing more annoying than going someplace to patronize whether that's a restaurant or another type of a business and showing up and they're closed. Amy (22:39): Absolutely. And in images in your Google My Business listing people sort of overlook that it's good to change them. Right. And we recently did a big, a hundred locations push of directory listing content. And we did not override the photos on the local level because again, it needs to have, even if the storefront is not the most beautiful glossy sort of aligned with corporate brand that you would want, it's still the base of the store and that's what people are looking for and it's theirs. So that's that balance. We talk about Mary with that. What we also I think is really important is what is your review program of a local business? Are you asking for them, are you responding to them? And that's another aspect that Soci gives us. We can look across a hundred locations, how long it's taking someone to respond to a review. Kathleen (23:28): So I'd love for you to talk a little bit about what you've seen work well, as far as asking for them, because I think that that is where a lot of businesses stumble is they either they're not asking or the way they're asking is sort of doomed to failure. So, so what's successful in this area? Amy (23:45): I definitely think a follow up email if you have that customer data, right? Texts will work also if you have a platform installed. But I think asking in a subtle way that really leaves it up to them. You know, if you liked what you got from us in this location, we'd love for you to let us know. And then there are platforms grade us we've used grade.us where it enables you to ask for them, you have your own sort of landing page for them. But I, I think multiple asks is probably not the way you want to go. Right. Ask ones, leave it up to them. And then, and then go from there. Kathleen (24:22): Is there a point in time or place when it's most impactful? And what I would equate this to is, you know, like you're in the grocery store, you're going to check out and if they, whatever food they seem to put in the checkout aisle is what flies off the shelves because you're stuck standing there and it's like, you're about to hand over your cash. Right. It wouldn't hurt to just take that pack of gum. So is, are there points in time or place with local businesses, whether that is, I mean, you mentioned email and I'm assuming that's immediate post-purchase, but if it's more of a physical interaction, is it like slipping something in their bag if it's retail or, you know, putting it on the receipt? I know, I know lots of places do that. Like what, what works well now? Amy (25:03): I think in store, it's definitely having that conversation there. I think that's okay to say it was really nice to meet you. And I'm so glad you were here putting a personal note on a receipt. Absolutely. Sometimes. I was on an a flight recently and I flew to Seattle and actually the flight attendant gave me a card with his name on it and said, and you can review him too as well. And that's the first time I've had something like that where I've had a flight attendant. Yeah. Solicit that. So I think it's more immediate and it's conversational when, when they're in store for sure. Email wise. Yeah. I like the 24 hours sort of the same as the abandoned cart cadence that we love, which is 24, 48 72 that we put typically will email with an abandoned cart. Kathleen (25:48): So, and then you mentioned responding, which I hope everybody, I think everybody out there listening, because I do tend to have a fairly sophisticated audience, knows that like you gotta respond. You gotta are you Amy (26:00): Surprised? Well, cause they're also in store, right? In many cases right now there's a lot happening, right. We're transitioning out of this period in time of business and they're busy and they're making sales, but this is a really important part. So that's almost like a corporate process and culture and educating them on the importance of it. We're doing a lot of just sort of screen-sharing videos for them because they're using associates, well, training them, communicating the importance and the impact of their business, how it helps them in a positive way. And maybe there's a little bit of that. Oh wow. Now I hate to say corporate right. Or home office or, but the reality is, that's what it is. They can actually see what we're doing a little bit more easily. Right. So I wonder if that creates a little bit more of a sense of urgency and I don't think that's a bad thing. It's not an over monitoring. It's Hey, we're here to support you and help you create a better customer experience. Kathleen (26:54): Well, and it's all about also taking the high road when you respond. Because I mean, I've had restaurant clients in the past and I've seen firsthand just how heinous people can be in reviews. And sometimes it's because they had a bad experience and sometimes it's because like their friend used to wait tables there and didn't like getting fired for stealing something. You know, it can be anything, but I, you know, I think you have to, there's an art to responding to these things and not like going on the attack back at somebody. Amy (27:24): Absolutely. We actually can put responses like that in the platform for them so they can see like five issues. We can have canned responses and groups of five, right. So we give them so much content to sort of help them along the way there too, which has been really helpful to them. Kathleen (27:40): That's good. All right. So let's talk about geo-fencing because you mentioned that and I'm fascinated by it and that technology has changed so much. So how do you tell Amy (27:50): We actually we'll use a couple of third-party platforms, which I am not as familiar with them as my team is. But I know when we first started about two years ago, the response rates with click-through and leads were really low and I'm seeing a big change in that. So recently we launched a campaign that had a 2% conversion rate on geo-fencing and we're actually fencing the area around the stretch gym locations. And it's super fun. Cause you can offer them an offer. You can give an offer. We usually tie a sense of urgency to it. It's in app with things that they're using. And so I think it's sort of come a long way with that in that way. And we're having a lot of success with it at the super local level. We've also done some trade shows too in the B2B world. I don't know if you've done any geo-fencing that way where you'll fence the convention center. Kathleen (28:42): I have not. So talk to me more, what platforms are you using also? Cause this is super interesting. Amy (28:51): I do not know which one they're using right now. And they're, I know there are two, so it's, I I'd have to ask them. Kathleen (28:58): I'll tell you what, if you follow up with me afterwards, I will put it in the show notes. Amy (29:03): Thank you. And they'll probably, they're all, they'll probably be listening like oh great. But she doesn't remember and it's put through. Kathleen (29:09): Well, we can't be expected to know everything that the teams are doing. Amy (29:11): So did you know that I had a conversation recently about how wide we're expected to go and how deep now is, you know, just the number of platforms alone we use are probably over 15, but we, yeah, we had a medical device client at a dental show and we were sending people to the booth by fencing the convention center. And then we're also doing it sort of at a hyper-local with competitive fitness centers, trying to get people interested in wellness to do a free stretch. So that's where we've seen some really good lead forms. And it just really, as, as marketers and we just talked about how data has to be accurate performance is critical for us as outsource marketing teams. And so you have to be bold to try different things and be really sort of creative, courageous about it. And I think that the geo-fencing is one area that we're going to start going down a lot more. Kathleen (30:05): How does the cost per acquisition for geo-fencing compared to traditional pay-per-click? Is it more? Less? Amy (30:11): It's around the same. Kathleen (30:12): Okay. Oh, that's great. Because I do feel like traditional pay-per-click is getting harder, you know, with cookie deprecation. Amy (30:20): Well we just went through an election cycle. Right. So now we've gotten much more astute at really sort of looking at budgets around major life sort of events times of the year, managing expectations with that. And cost sometimes are going up five times at certain parts of the year. Kathleen (30:37): Yeah. During the election cycle, during the holiday season, when it gets more competitive. Absolutely. Everyone's like, well it's like half the year now, like Amazon prime day, I feel like it's like four months before Christmas. I don't know what happened, but it starts in August or even sometimes July. Amy (30:55): It's like 4th of July is going right into Halloween now. Kathleen (31:00): So depressing, like don't start releasing things that are flavored like pumpkin until after the summer is over. Amy (31:04): Although I do, I love my pumpkin spice memes that come around in the fall. Kathleen (31:08): Yes. so I there's so many different aspects to this. Maybe you could just share, and I don't know if you can talk about specific clients or not. It doesn't really matter if you name names, but can you just give us a sense of like what kinds of results you've you've seen and, and what, what has driven those? Amy (31:24): Sure, sure. What, what has been most remarkable is the increase in social traffic and that's something we didn't anticipate. Right. So before COVID to after COVID, so we have these two sort of worlds, we don't even look at things versus 19 versus 20 quarter over quarter with this client is sort of pre COVID post COVID, right. Kathleen (31:43): BC and AC, right? Amy (31:46): Right. We actually saw a 36% increase in social referral traffic. And what I think has happened is I know that these locations, as much as they want that autonomy of posting, they're also starving for content. So in many cases it was probably infrequent, not optimized. You can set when we're going to post right. And optimize in that way. But now we're just seeing engagement rates go up and actually referral traffic has really increased a lot, which has been great. And I mentioned before with our formal where client really surfacing content ideas and creating like mini rock stars of people out in the field has been super effective and just bringing to life the brand. Kathleen (32:32): Do you see a trend across the content that you push out where anything that's user-generated seems to perform better? Amy (32:40): Well, because we're in bridal. Kathleen (32:42): I'm sure it depends too though. Like there's that user-generated content. Amy (32:47): But do you know, just the time that it takes to review UGC is, is pretty significant, right? So our social team, I mean, I'm sure they time block UGC time. Right. And so it takes a lot of time, but it performs really well. It's authentic. Right. Which when we talk about sort of brand voice and trends in 2021 and what's happening, I think people, I don't, I don't want to say that they're cynical, but they're going to see through sort of glossy corporate materials. And I think to be genuine is really important and you could see sort of it connects with them better. They can identify with it a lot better. Kathleen (33:24): You can see yourself in the advertising much more than you can with stock photos or really slickly produced things. Amy (33:30): Yeah. Stock photos, right. The necessary evil that we all sort of try to run from and find different ways. And, and I was recently in a meeting with a commercial, actually they do residential, mostly mortgage lender. And I looked at the CEO, they just did a $10 million round and they're taking off and, and struggling with scalability because I said, you know, it was really, I empathized with them. It's really hard to be a financial services CEO and have to be a publisher. And just for them to be able to keep up with the volume and the engaging nature of it. So when you're in a market that has a lot of user generated content, you're really lucky. Bridal is fantastic. Kathleen (34:14): Oh, I was going to say, I mean, it's, like I said, I'm in B2B software and I used to be in cybersecurity, which is the worst industry for UGC because nobody wants to even say like what solution they're using. So you can't even get testimonials and case studies there. So I'm very jealous. Amy (34:33): Well, especially with brides, right. And all looking to be the most original, I mean, it's sort of the Instagram bride, right? It's not even in Pinterest anymore. These brides are all on Instagram and they're very generous in the industry with tagging each other. And they're so they're so much of it that it's as, as a formal wear supplier or a bridal designer, we have a bride designer client in New York. It's just, it's so helpful to us in social for sure. Kathleen (34:57): Oh, I love that. Well, I feel like I could talk to you for hours about this. But we're going to switch gears because I want to make sure I squeeze in the two questions that I always ask my guests. So the first one is, is that this podcast of course is about inbound marketing. And so like naturally attracting the right buyers to you. Is there a particular company or individual out there that you think is really setting the standard for what it means to do that well right now? Amy (35:19): Well one of our values is always learning and as marketers, we have to be all the time. So I really follow a lot of our software providers that we work with. Because even yesterday we were talking about AI and how we're deploying it, how we're using it to optimize of our digital campaigns. And I have to say, I love Unbounce. They have just a lot of sort of reminder content. I consider it that's a little bit more surface and then they get really in depth. And then if you're a landing page company, I want to see what your landing pages look like all the time. You know, they really do. And there are standard for us and I really love to see always what Uber and Lyft are doing. I think they have, hyper-personalized sort of content it's very specific to your location. How they've ate, been able to sort of do that at a hyper-local level. Has been really interesting example for me to follow and watch for sure. Kathleen (36:16): I love that. Well fun fact, Oli Gardner, who is the CEO of Unbounce or at least he was at the time I interviewed him was one of my first, probably 30 guests on the podcast. Great guy. Amy (36:29): He's great. They're so smart. Kathleen (36:32): Yeah. all right. Second question. And I really can't wait to hear this answer because you said you, one of your values is always learning. And the biggest pain point I hear from marketers is that it's so hard to keep up with the changing world of digital marketing. So what are your personal like go-to sources that you use to stay on top of what's happening? Amy (36:52): Absolutely. So I find that LinkedIn is, has become my New York Times. Right. I love the New York Times. I have subscribed since the mid nineties, when I worked there, I did get a free paper every day when we worked on New York Times digital. So LinkedIn is sort of my news source. So my new my, where I go for all of my news, I love Reforge, I've got a lot of great stuff there and we actually for business management, we use a system called EOS. I don't know if you know, entrepreneurial operating system. Kathleen (37:25): I ran my agency on EOS. Fun fact, hold on while we're sitting here. Yeah. I have a Gino Wickman book right behind me. Traction. Yeah, yeah, no, this was, this was my Bible. And in two years, it was towards the end of when I had my business. And then the two years I used it we, we only have joked that we got more done in two years than we did in the prior 10. And it's, it's really not, oh my God, amazingly, amazingly. And I still use a lot of aspects of it. Amy (37:54): What did you love most about it? Kathleen (37:55): I loved the IDS process. And when it's, which is identify, discuss, solve for those who are listening and when we would have our team, I also, I liked the, the very consistent meeting cadence. And when we would do our team meetings, we made everybody who worked for us, read the book and educate themselves on how it worked and what IDs was. And we would come up with these lists of challenges and just, we were able to so methodically work through it. And I remember the day when we had been doing it for like nine months and somebody on my team said, it kind of feels like the issues that we're working through now are really small. And I was like, isn't that awesome? Like, we've tackled all the big, awful, hairy ones that had been on our plate for years, like it's working, but it was just a funny, it was a funny inflection point. So how about you, what is your favorite part? Amy (38:42): Well have to say that we run a hyper accountability sort of culture, you know, and the fact that there's one task per person, right. One to do, and one accountability per person. So it's just very clear how we're hiring. Right. I already know the next four positions we're filling and it's not just scaling one role it's rains that are sort of outside the function of our company now. So we know what we want to add. And just always having that in mind is, is really incredible. And then I love the aspect of one person is doing one thing and it may sound really simple. But, but it really is sort of transformative. And then everything's, date-based, you know, and those issues that get you in a, in a small company like ours, we have 16 employees and, but we've always sort of run it like a big company because we're always anticipating growth and scalability and onboarding new clients and onboarding new employees, which you and I talked about how, you know, that is the sort of the, the challenge of our business to have a system that sort of helps you get through the things that are difficult to talk about that you wouldn't normally identify in a public setting. Amy (39:48): It has just been really, really helpful to us and help us grow. So I do look at a lot of EOS content and because I'm always looking for ways other companies are implementing it and other ideas that they have, and then I can't, I can't quit AdAge. I love it. Every morning I get the wake up call. I like to see what big brands I like to see agency movement. I like to see where people are going and why what campaigns are working. They tie in some timely political news, but that too, and sort of world news. And then I do use Twitter quite a bit. And that's more of my, sort of my news news. So we do take clarity breaks. So I don't know if you've ever scheduled time for learning. Kathleen (40:33): Not as much as I should. Amy (40:34): That's for sure. Yeah. So we, we reinforce that idea of clarity breaks and it could just be, go take a walk. It could be a power nap if you need that. Right. We're all working from home. So it's not as though we have people lying in pods or on the floor, but you know, we have people working at home. We do think that that sort of, that break of just clearing your mind. And then if you want to listen to a podcast, you know, go and do that on your walk, but it's really important to sort of clear your mind and then also be always learning and Superman. Kathleen (41:04): That's great. And it's funny enough, this is why you and I get along so well. So one of the five core values I had at my agency was also, we call it continuous learning, but same idea. And as learning and continuous teaching were like two that kind of went together. Amy (41:22): I liked that. We have energy is everything, which is sort of not a typical one, but I find that things are moving so fast and you need to be able to pivot. You need to able to sort of be ahead one step ahead of our clients. I mean, we're in the C suite, so we're going to weekly executive meetings with our clients. We are highly embedded with them. And as consultants, you always have to be proving your value, right? So, you know, that sort of energy is really important. We do have laid back people on our team, not everyone is, but they put the energy into their work. So it's not your disposition, but really kind of putting that. And, and it's, it's worked really well for us. Kathleen (42:01): That's great. And it sounds like you're getting some fantastic results. Well that brings us to the top of our hour. So before we go, if somebody is interested in connecting with you online or learning more about Wild Coffee Marketing, what is the best way for them to do that? Amy (42:16): Well, the best way is just to go to Wildcoffeemarketing.com. And there, you can see some examples of our work and sort of the areas and capabilities that we work in and see a little bit about the team. Kathleen (42:27): All right. I love it. So head there, if you want to learn more, I'll put that link in the show notes, and if you're listening and you enjoy this episode, or you learn something new, I would love it. If you would head to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. And if you know somebody else, who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork. Yes, that is my Twitter handle. And leave me a review or leave, not leave me a review, send me a tweet and let me know who I should interview. This is what happens when you do interviews at four o'clock on a Friday, on a Friday. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Amy. This was a ton of fun. Amy (43:04): Thank you so much for having me, Kathleen.


    Ep. 200: Rethinking your approach to B2B lead gen ft. Chris Walker

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2021 54:10


    What would happen if marketers forgot about leads and demo requests, and focused solely on pipeline and revenue? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Refine Labs founder and CEO Chris Walker breaks down his unorthodox approach to B2B marketing and explains why he believes most marketers are doing it wrong. Refine Labs hasn't been around long (it was founded in early 2019), but in the few short years since Chris launched the company, it has experienced what most would term hypergrowth and now boasts more than 30 high growth SaaS brands as clients. At the same time, Chris has become somewhat of a household name in marketing circles due to his consistent content creation on LinkedIn and his often contrarian, but always thought provoking, takes on B2B marketing best practices. In this episode, Chris breaks down his approach to marketing and shares insights on why B2B companies should rethink how they approach lead gen. Check out the full episode to get the details.  Resources from this episode: Check out the Refine Labs website Connect with Chris on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and my guest today is Chris Walker who's the CEO of Refine Labs. Welcome to the podcast, Chris. Chris (00:32)Great to be on here. It feels like just recently you were on our podcast and looking forward to diving into some topics today. Kathleen (00:39)I love, I love the podcast guest swap. No, I'm, I'm really excited to talk to you because your name comes up a lot. LinkedIn is my favorite platform these days. It's the one I'm the most active on. I really enjoy it. And I hear your name all the time and I'm so glad we're finally getting a chance to get to know each other. So before we jump into deeply to our topic, for those who may be, haven't heard of you, or don't know you, can you just give a brief synopsis of who you are, what you do and how you came to be doing what you're doing today, Chris (01:19)For sure. Yeah. Hey everyone. My name is Chris Walker. I've been in B2B marketing for almost decade now and have done almost all types of marketing for product marketing, field marketing, demand gen and brand. And I use them all together in a lot of different venture funded companies, both as an employee and now as a, a consultant or business owner. At the moment I run a company called Refine Labs. We've been growing rather quickly and we currently work with about 30 enterprise SaaS organizations throughout the US, EMEA and APAC to transform their demand generation programs with the core understanding or belief that the marketing game has changed dramatically, or the go to market game has changed dramatically from lead gen, high volume lead generation to feed sales with people that don't want to buy right now to marketing, executing demand generation, to generate high intent leads that want to buy for sales at a lower volume. Chris (02:12)And that is the core thesis about how we operate, which requires a lot of different changes inside of companies, changing your metrics, changing tactically what you're doing, changing what success looks like at a campaign level, from leads or conversions to something that matters a little bit more deeply like qualified pipeline or revenue. And so that is what we do. I've been operating in this sort of like demand gen framework for the past five years, both as an employee and now as a business owner with a lot of different companies and just find that, objectively, the way we work works way better. Kathleen (02:46)Love it. And what I think is really interesting about your journey is, so my background is I used to own a marketing agency for 11 years, and marketing marketing agencies is challenging, right? Because you're, you're trying to stand out in a very crowded field of all people who are good at marketing. Right. And it is, it's an interesting challenge. And that is why I think when we talk about the inbound success podcast and my profiling people who are doing inbound really well, you really stand out to me because, you know, you're, when did you start Refine Labs? Chris (03:24)April of 2019. Kathleen (03:26)Oh, okay. So this is not, you know, a company that's been around for 10 years. This is a relatively new company that came out of nowhere. And in just a very few short years, it has a ton of buzz. As you said, you've got 30 clients. Kathleen (03:39)Your name is getting talked about a lot throughout the industry. So I feel like if you can, in two years managed to do what you've done and stand out in arguably one of the most competitive industries in which to try and stand out against, you know, a playing field of people who know by and large, what they're doing. If you can do this, then there are massive lessons to be learned for anybody. So I want to talk about how you've done it. And then at some point dive into what you do with your clients, which I suspect is... Chris (04:13)Sorry to interrupt you, but I actually don't find it to be competitive, which I think is the challenge. Like, I don't think that marketing agencies are very good at marketing themselves. And a lot of one's not very good in operating for their clients because they execute a service that is, gets measured on top of funnel metrics that don't matter to a business, which is why the agency doesn't do it for themselves to grow their company. And so I think it's pretty easy when you start scoring on pipeline and revenue and looking at it that way and then reversing back to the activities that are required. One, it creates a massive product development pipeline for our company. And two, we know very clearly it's driving the business because we can measure it in our own revenue. And so it's weird. Like a lot of people say that it's competitive, but I think that from, for the most part, marketing agencies are actually quite poor at marketing themselves. Kathleen (05:04)So let's break this down. You say that the problem has been a focus on top of funnel metrics. And so I'm assuming you're referring to, you know, website, visitor traffic, and then just leads like in a broad category. Is that accurate? Chris (05:19)Yeah. Marketers tend to not spend time in the CRM where actual business data gets generated and tracked. And so anything pre CRM is what I'm talking about. Kathleen (05:30)So, so what does that look like? You're, you're focused on the CRM. You're focused on pipeline opportunities, revenue. What does that look like in terms of how you then market differently? Chris (05:42)So by focusing on pipeline and revenue in the CRM, it actually frees marketers from optimizing for top of funnel metrics. You can get scored later funnel, which gives you a lot more flexibility on what to do. If you're a marketer and you come into a company and they say, we need 3000 MQLs. So this month, and here's your budget and it we're projecting, it's going to cost $30 per lead. Then you actually have no money to do anything else, no money, no time, no mindshare to actually go and figure out how to do a podcast or figure out how to do LinkedIn by scoring on a metric that actually matters to a business. You give your marketers a lot more flexibility to do things that could actually work better from an experimentation standpoint. I think you also free marketers from channel attribution performance marketing, which is really I think hurt marketers over the past decade to a level where it's highly transactional and easy to track. Chris (06:32)And therefore they love doing it because they can track it. But if they actually looked at the stuff that they're tracking, they would realize that they shouldn't be doing it that way. I do that with enough companies and analyze the data of performance marketing lead gen campaigns and how bad it is at a customer acquisition cost payback standpoint period. And like, like, I, I don't, people love to do those things because they can say we got a bunch of leads from LinkedIn, but they never look at how much that customer costs that we got from LinkedIn with all those leads. And that's what I'm suggesting that people do. And so once you get over that that path and you're measuring on qualified pipeline, for instance, one, the numbers get smaller, right? So I don't need to go out and generate 3000 leads. I actually just need to generate 10 leads that convert to a two qualified pipeline. And so it changed once you change the volume metric, you can actually change the tactical level things to having a high intent buyers that convert to qualified opposite 80% versus low intent leads that convert at 1%. And that's what I'm suggesting people do. Kathleen (07:33)So when you come in and I'm assuming you've done this with your own business as well, but like when you look at at a company and you take this approach, you I'm, I'm guessing you start by looking at the deals. They have one to try to look at what has driven those, is that, is that where it starts? Chris (07:54)Yeah. So most of the companies that are operating today from a SaaS standpoint because they get measured on top of funnel and they are obsessed with attribution, everything is tracked. And so it's very, very simple to go into the CRM and track all the different lead sources, all the way to revenue and then calculate things like sales cycle length, lead to win rate, average deal, size, different things like that. That gives you a sense about what is the efficiency of that lead source. Should we even start, keep doing that? You could, if you're doing advertising, you could do direct customer acquisition costs on those things. And what we find is that almost everything that a company is doing from a paid standpoint or a lead gen standpoint is not generating a customer acquisition cost that's anywhere near acceptable. And so once we present that data, it allows executives to help change away from this lead gen mindset. Chris (08:41)And when you look at where the actual revenue came from, which from a marketing source revenue, or however you want to say it, inbound revenue, it's very clear the way that people come in to you to buy stuff, it's they come there on their own to your website. And they ask for a demo or ask to talk to a sales rep, or they have to get pricing. If you don't publish your pricing. And I would say almost any company could do that analysis and at least 70% of their revenue comes through that way. And so it's, how do you use all of the wasted money in advertising? That's happening over here to collect leads and change how that's being used to influence more people to come through your website and ask for a demo or to talk to a sales rep and is ready to qualify and ready to buy. And that's what we're focused on. Kathleen (09:22)And I believe if I'm not mistaken that you call this the revenue growth optimization framework. Chris (09:28)We call that part of the process, split the funnel. So what I find is that companies build their you know, demand waterfall from serious decisions in 2009 and put together one spreadsheet and say, we have to get 30,000 leeds and have blanket conversion rates across the whole funnel. Not respecting that different conversion sources have dramatically different intent levels from buyers and therefore converted significantly different rates. And so by splitting it out by lead source, it helps you identify what are the actual winners here. Kathleen (09:55)So what has worked really well for, for your, how you market your business because you're drinking your own champagne. I don't like to say Kool-Aid, it's sort of a dark metaphor. What's working for you guys? Chris (10:11)Podcasts, LinkedIn events, influencers, organic social. Kathleen (10:16)So dig into that a little bit for me. Let's start with podcast. Chris (10:20)There's a couple of things that work for us here. And I think that what people miss is I just laid out tactics. And I think that people miss on the strategy side, like we are a, we have air quotes for the listeners here of "marketing agency" with a highly differentiated product, sold to a very specific niche that I know needs it that's strategy, right? And so if you don't have a differentiated product and you don't identify your ICP and you start doing these tactics, they may not work as well for you. Strategy first right? And so we have that strategy walked in on who we're selling to, why they need us, why we're uniquely differentiated amongst their alternatives and different things like that. And then we think about it, just content marketing with effective distribution across the channels where people pay attention. Chris (11:08)It's like basically what it comes down to. And so while other agencies continue to write blogs for SEO and spend a hundred dollars a click on marketing agency pricing and all the tactics that people have been doing for 10 years that are mature, expensive and flooded. We continue to do marketing on LinkedIn and still, I don't see any marketing agencies executing well on it. Linkedin and podcasts has been a gold mine for us over the past two years and will continue to be because companies are very slow to react to new opportunities and they have the wrong mindset when it comes to content marketing, which creates a huge opportunity for people that do like our content marketing. I'm not, I'm not measuring on how many leads that I got. I'm not measuring it on transactional. And so just the mindset about how we approach content marketing is the, is the secret advantage for us. Kathleen (12:01)There are a lot of marketing agencies with podcasts. What makes yours different? Chris (12:07)It actually makes an impact for the people that listen to it. I think it's, it's way more actionable, distributed at a much higher frequency from people that actually do progressive stuff. And I think that's why people tune into it. And we get plenty of notes. I would say probably at this point 20 a week from people said, Hey, I listened to your podcast at the beginning. I thought you were full of. And then six months later, I started doing those things and we stopped running ebook downloads on LinkedIn. And we started doing it more like the way that you said, and our pipeline went up by 300% this quarter, the first quarter of this year. And that's what people say. And so I know that it's making an impact. I'm not sure that you get that on other podcasts. So, Kathleen (12:49)So for those who haven't heard of it the name of the podcast, state of demand gen, and it's published how often three times a week, and it is available it's video and audio video Chris (13:03)On YouTube micro video on LinkedIn and long form audio on apple, Spotify, and all those other different channels. A key thing for people to think about there. And I've been talking about, we consult for a lot of people that are doing a podcast, and I hear this thing a lot. We need to make it short because people's attention spans are slowing down or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So we want to do the seven minute podcasts. We, our average podcast length of somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes. Yeah. And so it has nothing to do with the length it has all to do with, is your content good enough to justify someone listening to it for that long? And I want people to think about that if they're getting ready to start a podcast as well. Kathleen (13:42)You're preaching to the choir on that one, cause I, mine are usually 45 to 60 minutes and I always tell people it's going to be as long as it needs to be. Yeah. It's, it's the boring guests that, that would be a really short interview. Try to avoid getting those lines. Chris (13:59)Okay. We'll try and get the 60 minutes that are misaligned. Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Kathleen (14:04)So, okay, so that's the podcast. Now I want to talk about LinkedIn because that is such a core part of your strategy. That's where I, at least to me, I feel like you've been very visible and very successful. So can you kind of break down how you think about LinkedIn and how you advise others to think about LinkedIn? Chris (14:22)So when it comes to LinkedIn, I consider it a a highly effective content distribution, medium, and by acknowledging and understanding how dynamics of social platforms work, it can give you an advantage on how to use them. And so I'll give you a couple of examples about, and people think that if you like execute on LinkedIn, that you might miss on something else, but what they, what they don't understand that you build skills that you take with you to new platforms, right? And so in 2014, I spent time on Instagram. One of the most important things was trying to build an audience on Instagram. I figured out how to do that. And in 2019, when I saw LinkedIn working, I knew how to take the learnings of how to build an audience and move that over there, which is not just wait for people to follow you. Chris (15:10)It's having a proactive strategy to get more people into your community audience. And so one of the things that we started doing probably in may of maybe for the past two years, is 30 people a day and connect with, with people that are active on the platform have posted in the last 30 days like content. That is like the stuff that we pump, we publish that's one, one consideration. The next consideration that we see across a lot of different channels is that I try and do all of the work in the feed, meaning that I'm not looking for someone to click on a link. I'm not looking for someone to comment. They're like, blah, blah, blah, like some algorithm hack to make a comment so that you can send them an email with a PDF. I'm trying to get to places where people consume and anyone that's listening to this you'll know that you're much more likely to consume something that's in the feed versus a link that moves off the platform. Chris (15:59)And it's also better for LinkedIn. And so inside of the feed and the last one is 100% selfless, just con giving away the best stuff that we do. I publish stuff that people pay us a lot of money for. And I publish it on the internet because I know that it creates a huge inbound interest for us because we are considered the best, the smartest, the most forward-thinking because of the content that we produce. And so we publish that. I also know that a majority of people will never use it. And so those are a couple of key pillars in how we operate LinkedIn. And then the last one is just pure consistency. Like I don't think that marketers really understand. I think maybe they get, they get bored of doing the same thing. I've been posting videos on LinkedIn almost every day for 18 to 24 months. Chris (16:46)And I'm not, I'm not bored of it at all. It's pure marketing is about finding something that works and then being incredibly consistent at delivering it while also innovating on a micro level. So you've known, you'll notice that we've changed up how we actually do the videos and how we film them and what quality it's in and how we cut them in different things like that. But we're still leaning into video mainly because a lot of people don't do it. And so I think it's just a huge, huge white space as a marketer on LinkedIn, it might feel like a lot of people are using LinkedIn and publishing content. They're good, but go look at other channels, go look at how competitive it is an SEO. Go look at how competitive it is and Google search ads for a trade show booth. Like all the places where you spend money are way more competitive from a cost of maturity standpoint than places like LinkedIn or a podcast. Kathleen (17:33)So I'm interested to know how you work with clients on this, because I think as marketers, in many cases, we are naturally more comfortable putting ourselves forward on a platform like LinkedIn. But I do hear from a of executives, a lot of subject matter experts, this reluctance, and sometimes it's driven by, I think, fear that they don't have enough to say, you know, I think, you know, somebody can be an expert in something, but still have that almost imposter syndrome of like, well, am I do I know enough to really, to really put it out there? And then sometimes it's also driven by I can't come up with something every day. How do you do that? So like, how do you, how do you counsel somebody who, who doesn't come from a marketing background to develop this muscle memory, to be able to do this regularly? Chris (18:24)Yeah. So I know how to do this because I've done it before at a company, as an employee in 2017, we were selling into hospitals and we had our subject matter expert VP of medical education. That was a practicing physician. That was our subject matter expert that people in the community found credible that had was an evangelist that had used the technology as a physician for more than 10 years. And so we had, and then became an employee of our company afterwards. And so we had that person. And the way that you figure this out is instead of trying to have forced that person to create information everyday, where they have to think about it, it's a marketer shop to put them in situations where they're going to demonstrate expertise anyway, create a fireside chat, do a round table, have them present on a webinar, on a new clinical trial, whatever those things are. Chris (19:11)And then you record that event. And so I liked that also from the subject matter experts side, those people prefer that than recording a podcast in a, in a zoom on their own. They want to be out in engaging with people and talking with people. We had some of the most success, cause I, I heard people say, Hey, like this isn't worth my time to write this blog. But then when you say, Hey, we actually got you a spot to talk about the same thing that, you know, I didn't say this, but the same thing that we were going to write the blog about, but we're actually going to do it in Tulsa, Oklahoma with 12, you know, the best physicians in Oklahoma. And you're going to be speaking at that dinner and then we're going to record it. And it's a completely different story. And so people need to, I think, change the way that they set up their subject matter expert to allow it to work. Kathleen (20:00)That's interesting. And then are you, are you publishing those recordings through that person's profile? Chris (20:09)It was mostly through the brand in 2017. I think dynamics have changed quite a bit since then. But we could go just straight brand on Facebook, organic and a crushed back then. And like, it's just not, it's just not like that anymore. And so the distribution mechanisms over the past almost five years now have changed a lot. And I would at this point switch to some combination of brand and personal, depending on the platform. Yeah. Kathleen (20:33)I mean, I really feel like today the power, the real potential is in marketing through personal brands. I mean, you can just from my company, you know, we publish a lot of stuff through our company, LinkedIn page, but I find it gets just dramatically less traction than anything put out by our CEO or head of product. The, you know, and so one thing is how do you get the content out of them, what you just addressed. But then the interesting challenge that, that introduces if you are going through the personal brand is how do you, how do you then make sure there's engagement on the backend, right? Because a great post with really good content is going to get engagement. It's going to get responses and questions. And so it's one thing if you, as the marketer are going in through the company page and engaging with comments, but then when it's on, you know, your CEO's personal profile, are you training that CEO to engage? Are you somehow gaining access to their account so that you can engage on their behalf? How, how do you, how do you think that should work? Chris (21:34)So I'll talk about the ideal way and then maybe like a different, the ideal way is that whoever it is, it could be the CEO. It could be another person in your company recognizes how important this is and does all of it, right? Like I've never had someone else leave a comment for me or answer a message or anything. That's all me, the reason is because I recognize how valuable it is. I recognize that at the moment I can have, you know, a thousand touch points with different potential buyers in the market on my own by myself, and have 50 conversations this morning through comments on a LinkedIn post that I made versus what other CEOs might do, which is like go to a dinner once every couple of weeks to meet with one person. And it just get way more scalability of interaction this way. Chris (22:20)I wish people would understand that. And so presenting that to people because I did this as an employee in 2007, around the same timeframe as I would run Facebook ads of the content of that this person was creating. And then I would engage in the comments and I recognize, Hey, I'm having a hundred conversations a day with buyers. Our sales, our sales team gets three connections when they go outbound in a day, like what what's going on here? Why doesn't the company recognize that this is a way better way to do what we're business development. What we're trying to do is connect with buyers in a way that they want. And so yeah. Yeah. I Kathleen (22:57)Mean, I think it's really interesting to me because I don't think you can underestimate the importance of engaging. What I always say is like, you might get comments you could have a great post and you might get comments, but people aren't going to continue coming back to comment and engage with you. If you don't respond to them, you know, it's like a one-way conversation at that point. Chris (23:18)Yeah, because people think that social media is about pushing out, not, you know, being social. Kathleen (23:26)Yeah. so we've talked about the podcast, we've talked about LinkedIn, I'm curious to know how you approach written content on your website. You know, what are your thoughts around the classic kind of written blog? Are you doing much of that or is most of it like repurposed podcasts content? Chris (23:50)We don't, we don't even repurpose podcast content on the website. It's just like, I believe that the the idea of what a website is for, for companies should change and we're trying to pave the way on it. And I'm also interested cause I'm very interested. It'll probably be within the next, you know, it'll be soon where we can say that we hit 10 million ARR and we didn't spend a second on SEO and companies can understand that there's a different way than writing long form blogs and different stuff like that. I'm interested in proving some points there. And so, no, we haven't done almost anything from a written blog content standpoint. Because I just feel like the way that people discover and research products has changed and they're doing it in specific places that are different than Google in 2009. And so our website and what I think companies should consider for their website is buyer enablement and a path to a high intent conversion. And that's it. And so if those, if we're serving those two things on our website, publishing pricing, case studies messaging about what we do, how we work and a way to get in touch with us to start a scale sales conversation and everything else that we're doing is in places where people actually are. Kathleen (25:00)So you talked about how the way people buy has changed. What, how would you describe the modern customer journey? Chris (25:08)I think the key that people I think the key that people need to understand in, in the difference in change is the access to trusted peers that B2B professionals have, that they didn't have five to seven years ago. And so I can interact with 30 marketers and understand what tool they use and what tactics they're doing in different things like that on LinkedIn and on Twitter in revenue collective through a text message through a private slack message through call through a zoom, all those different things that were much more difficult to do in 2014 as a B2B professional, you know, that you didn't interact with your peers in the way that you do today in 2014. And because you didn't have access to trusted peers, you trusted a couple of sources. You trusted analyst firms, you trusted conferences and you trusted Google search because you didn't have access to people. And that's the major change that's going on here is that now people get their information through their peers that they trust. And so leaning into that as the core shift is what I'm talking about, which I think would be very heavy on customer success and very heavy on effective content marketing and what I would consider the dark funnel, AKA social and other places that are difficult to track in attribution. So Kathleen (26:27)Where do you review sites fit into all this? Because that is sort of a, a way people get peer feedback, but it's not the same as your connections on LinkedIn or the people in the slack channel. I know there's a lot of companies, especially in the software space that spend a lot of money on peer review sites. I'm curious what your take is. B2B Chris (26:46)Companies love every channel that is lower funnel filled with intent. So because they can easily track it, the person's in buy mode and they can run performance marketing against it, which is why review sites, Google paid search. I don't even think contents indication fits into there because there's no intent, but review sites and Google paid search are lowest funnel, high intent. And that's where people are going to going to do things. What I think is actually more impactful is getting to the people before they have intent. And then they're not looking for a review site. They're just going to Google and searching your brand. And that's what I think people need to think about people. People fight companies fight over the small amount of buyers that are actively buying that have no preferred brand. So you're just competing with three vendors for somebody that doesn't care, it's going to be shopping on price. Doesn't have certain features, you're going to win some of them, but you're gonna lose a lot of them to, as opposed to figuring out what you need to do at the top of the funnel so that people don't even compare other vendors. And that's what we do. Kathleen (27:44)Yeah. You gave me the perfect segue into my next question. Cause you talked about people going on to Google and searching for your brand for refined labs. What percentage of your traffic is direct? Chris (27:56)I don't, I don't know. And I don't care. Kathleen (27:59)I mean, I have a theory. I'm so curious to know if it's, if it's true. And that's something that I've seen. It's really interesting, even just with the company I'm at that, that the, the percentage of direct traffic as, as a part of the overall mix is, is growing. And I would think that yours would be a very large percentage direct Chris (28:18)Or direct organic search. Yeah. I'm not sure how Google chucks it up. I honestly like what I'm looking at is something that's way further down the funnel than where it's being sourced from. Cause I it's weird as a marketer, when you get to this level, it's just you, I don't need data. Like I can, you can just feel what's going on at qualitative insights. What's happening in the CRM, inbound volume qualified pipeline where our conversations starting, we have conversations started in LinkedIn, DM through our website revenue collective through a text message through inbound emails from buyers. And so like, you can just feel where this stuff coming from, why what's going on. And I love being in that spot. Of course we use data. But nowhere near to the level that marketers obsess about it today. Kathleen (29:04)Yeah. I feel like we spend a lot of time and waste a lot of time just on tracking and reporting. And a lot of times we're tracking and reporting on metrics that even by traditional marketing logic are a waste of time. So that's really interesting. You talked earlier about having started out on Instagram and then moved to LinkedIn and I sort of put a mental pin in that and I wanted to come back because I do feel like marketers by and large suffer from shiny penny syndrome where like a new channel is hot. Like in the last year it's tick talk and it's clubhouse and this and that. And all of a sudden everybody's like we have to be there, right. Because everybody's talking about it. I have really strong opinions on that, but I'm really curious to know what your take is. Chris (29:56)So I think what people obsess about is they look at a channel or tactical level, not looking deeply at whether their content strategy was working. If you're, if you can't produce content that people like on LinkedIn, you have no business trying to go to Tik TOK right now, at least for B2B marketing. And so I think people should think about those different things. When I mentioned being an Instagram, it was Instagram in 2014, selling a $60 product, organic yeah. Influencer marketing posting every day, building an audience, engaging with the community and watching sales grow. And so I just had a clear understanding of what that dynamic was in that channel. And LinkedIn's no different, right? And so once you understand the dynamics of one platform, you can move them to another one, which leads me to a place like if Tik Tok does become a place where it's important for B2B to go, we have a content strategy, we have the operational infrastructure and capabilities to support it. And we know how social networks work and we're going to be able to win there. And so that's the way that I look at it. But I think the companies look at it too at a channel level and not holistically at like their organizational capabilities. Kathleen (31:03)Yeah. Amen. I mean, that's my whole thing. Somebody asked me when clubhouse first came out, you know, what my thoughts on it were. And, and I, I, my thing was like, it's not for me. Right. It could be for somebody else, but I am. I'm all in on LinkedIn. I know I don't have the bandwidth to do two channels really well. Like you gotta, I, I think you gotta kind of pick your, pick your channels and it doesn't have to just be one for other people. It could be more, but you have to understand your bandwidth and your ability to really dominate and master the channels that you've chosen before you start to spread yourself. Chris (31:37)Yeah. And it was just clear, like I'll find, I'll find the clip. I think it was late 2020 where I said this, where it was very obvious that some but that other platforms would copy the clubhouse feature because that's the same thing that happened with Snapchat, right. Instagram and Facebook, and all of the other platforms now have stories and clubhouses audio thing is now getting rolled already rolled out in Twitter and it's coming out on LinkedIn. And it was very obvious that that was going to happen from that standpoint and other people that don't understand those dynamics, stop doing everything else. And when all pot committed on clubhouse and now you watch your user growth fall to the floor because it's available and put channels that are far more popular. And that's what I think that people need to think about. I think that the scariest part is that companies stopped doing things that are working in order to chase something else. Kathleen (32:31)There seems to be this like weird feeling that you have to be in the early adopter crowd. Of all things. I don't know if you, if you know Chris (32:41)That it's gonna work. Then being an early adopter is when I would consider myself an early adopter on LinkedIn, at least from a high activity standpoint. And it certainly benefited me, the algorithm reaches nowhere near what it was two years ago. And so if you know that it's going to work, then, then I think it's a good move to be early. But I don't think that I think a lot of marketers just read a report or some, see some ad or see some content about a new platform without knowing whether or not it's going to work or how it's going to work for them and then just try and do stuff. And that's, I think that the difference is having the experience to really know how it's going to work. Yeah. And you Kathleen (33:18)Talked about that when, when we spoke on your podcast about you test things on yourself and on your own marketing, kind of you use, you use yourself as, as a Guinea pig, if you will, before we roll things out to clients, can you talk a little bit about that? Chris (33:34)So at the moment we have a system where we can experiment more with a lot of things underneath the Refine Labs brand. Test, measure, characterize. Show companies what good looks like. And basically it becomes an R&D arm for our company to roll in new quote unquote products for our customers, which bleeds into our idea of just continuous innovation, which is not something that marketing agencies do. Marketing agencies get married to one channel and then try and make it as profitable as possible, which is why you see SEO agencies that still don't do anything else. And so ours is, we are trying to constantly disrupt ourselves when there's a day where Facebook ads don't work anymore, then I'm going to be pumped to have six more things that we can roll into the mix, other companies aren't. So they're going to keep telling their clients to run Facebook ads along the lines of why there's a lot of agencies that still tell their customers to run display ads. Chris (34:26)And so we have tested a lot of different things from the beginning. The reason that we, that I know is because people told me that they weren't going to work. So podcasts, LinkedIn, the way that we execute events, the way that our top level content strategy with a subject matter expert works, influencer marketing, both for other, with other people, with us and myself, with other brands direct mail account based marketing in a thoughtful way, not like, you know, the way basically it's sales driven way. The companies execute it today. There's a million different things that we're incubating and testing here, and then we'll eventually productize. Kathleen (35:05)So let's talk about a couple of those. You talked about events, the way you run them. So what makes it different? Chris (35:13)It's driven on ex in-person experiential combined with digital amplification to create, reach and awareness of a content strategy versus collecting leads to try and sell people. And so B2B companies run events to co to have people register so that they can do sales to those people versus having people register to create an experience for them so that they can participate in content creation so that you're creating content that other people want so that you can amplify it on the internet and the more people see it. And that's the core difference about the way that we look at events. And I would say that a lot of companies don't even execute events at all. They're too busy building trade shows at least events in the way that I've stated them. And so just completely have been doing that since 2017 as well, just looking at our trade show booth expenditures and saying, how else can we spend this money to get a dramatically better return? Chris (36:08)And I think the key is creating real life experiences that then get amplified digitally. And then once they get amplified digitally, it can feed the future in person experiences. Kathleen (36:20)Give me an example of what that looks like. Chris (36:24)Back in the day in like February to February, 2020, we were, we were heavy on these. We're going to do one a month, the whole year of 2020. Obviously we couldn't do that, but we did one in January and February. At that point, like Justin Welsh was operating as CRO at a high growth SaaS company, him and I got together and I invited him to do a fireside chat. We handled the event, you know, 40, 50 CEO, CRO, CMOs were there. We presented in person. Yeah. How to scale out your revenue team to 50 million. Like what Justin did. Chris (36:59)We talked through different things between sales and marketing, and what's changed since he started there in 2015 to 2020. And if he could change things, what he would do, we went to Q and A for 30 minutes. We had high production, film and audio there. We created a nice video with B roll. We created the whole long form interview. It became a podcast. We had people come inbound to us five months later that were attending that event, but we didn't try and sell them right there. And doing that at a specific cadence to feed your top level content strategy, I think is a really smart idea. Kathleen (37:34)Does that only work if you are, well let me rephrase that. So you're, you're in Boston, correct? Chris (37:43)Yeah. Kathleen (37:44)Did you hold the event in Boston? Chris (37:46)No. Kathleen (37:47)Okay. Okay. So the, where I'm going with this as, like, if you're somebody who's in some small market where, you know, 50 of your ICPs are not within 50 miles, do you, I'm assuming you need to hold these events in a, in a location where it's pretty easy to get folks, because generally they're not traveling for this. I would assume. Chris (38:08)I would say that generally people aren't traveling for them, but you should travel to them. You're, you're traveling to a trade show booth and spending $150,000 to build a structure that gets torn down three days later. And so what's a flight to LA to put on an event. And so that's, that's what I'm thinking is you go to the places where you think that there's a high, a high density of potential people and the, you mentioned 50, I think these can be properly executed 12. I think that people get caught up in numbers a lot as well. Yeah. Kathleen (38:39)That makes sense. A couple other things you mentioned. So you've talked a few times about influencers and I think a lot of times when marketers hear the phrase influencer marketing, they have a very rigid, traditional definition for that, right? They think about, well, a lot of people think Kardashians. But they think about traditional paid influencer partnerships, which I think is only one subset. How do you look at influencer as part of your mix? Chris (39:06)I want every B2B company to listen to this real quick, to understand that they all do influencer marketing right now. And the way that B2B companies do it right now is analyst relations. And an analyst firm is an influencer. They just had a lot more influence 10 years ago than they do right now. And so what I'm suggesting is if you were going to have a, what I would consider a brand collaboration or a sponsorship with somebody else that wasn't an analyst firm that you actually consider structuring it, like you do with an analyst firm where they, you know, have, you know, make a video and content about how to use your product, they review it, they interact with people. They maybe take a couple of calls with people that are interested in purchasing it. Like that's an interesting thing to do with 20 people that influence buying decisions in your market. Chris (39:57)The people look at it and say, it's influencer marketing and blah, blah, blah, blah. And we haven't even gotten to the measurement point, which is another reason why companies don't do it, but I would challenge them to try and quantify the impact of their relationship with Gartner. Yeah. And so I'd never said that clearly before, but a lot of companies just look at it in the, I think in the wrong way. And so from an influencer standpoint, yes, there is like the strict, like paid, you know, paid promotion, post type of thing, which I don't think is the way that this is going to play out. I think there's this like analyst firm relationship with people that are smart, that can, that I just laid out that I think is a very open area, collaborating on content, whether that be an in-person like physical event, digital content on a podcast, you know, whatever, from that standpoint, there's an interesting one with evangelists that I think companies consider, which is like basically making a, like a VIP customer list with people that are influential. Chris (40:52)Some people call it a customer advisory board, whatever you want to do, where these people get more stuff. Maybe they get flown out to a specific event that's hosted by your company, that they, that they get a lot of different stuff. They already love your products. Why don't you just do surprise and delight so that they're more likely to tell people how great your stuff is. And so those are some of the potential open opportunities that I see there. And again, like when it comes to measurement companies won't do this because they can't track attributable ROI. They want to have affiliate marketing, not influencer marketing. And that's the part. Kathleen (41:31)You talked about direct mail and piqued my interest. Tell me your thoughts about direct mail. What's the way to do it right? Chris (41:41)I think that companies and people listening to this should consider the differences between direct mail and gifting. I think that most companies that are executing what they think is direct mail are actually doing gifting, which is just sending a gift to someone either to say, thank you, but most likely just to bribe them into having a meeting. And I think there's a different way to run direct mail where it's more experiential and actual marketing that can still be driven toward conversion. That's more easily measurable. And that's what I would, I would consider what would be an example of that. So let's see here, let me try and figure out one that we're not actively running. So you, you're a company that sells to massive banks. And at the moment you have bank of America and chase, and you're trying to get whoever the other six top banks are. Chris (42:38)And so you put together a, a package that has, you know, a thing, maybe a nice bottle of wine, a QR code on that thing, somebody who receives it scans the QR code, there's a video of how Bank of America implemented your product and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And they have an opportunity to book a meeting there. And I think that there's some micro then companies go for such scale and not thoughtfulness that they wouldn't do something that can only send a six people, even though those accounts are million-dollar accountants. And so I think that that's an interesting one. I think that you also could go for scale as a different conversion mechanism than outbound sales that might work better too. Kathleen (43:15)So are you suggesting then that gifting is the, the way to look at it? Chris (43:22)No, I'm suggesting that companies consider a different way of running direct mail, which I would say is more marketing than gifting. Kathleen (43:30)Okay. Yeah. It's interesting that you mentioned the smaller scale because, and this was one of the reasons I wanted to ask you about direct mail. When I had my agency one half of what we did had to do with promotional products, which I hate calling it that because it sounds super cheap, but my husband became really, really good at what you're describing. We called it dimensional mail, but I'm sending to small lists, like really curated packages with, and like tying what was in the package and with the messaging. And it was amazing how he was able to get meetings for people with that approach. And I think part of it is like, nobody likes, nobody likes to throw away a box, right? If you get a box, even if you have a gatekeeper, like a secretary, generally you're opening in that box to see what's inside. Chris (44:15)And I think from a direct mail standpoint, what companies need to look at is not the conversion to a meeting, but the conversion after that, I think it's pretty, pretty easy to get a, to get a meeting. I think it's really hard to get a meeting with somebody that wants to buy an actually bought. And I think specifically on direct mail companies will optimize to the meeting by giving people a a hundred dollars gift card to sit on it or to do all the other dumb stuff that they asked to do. And all those people move immediately to close loss and it does the business. No good. And so I think companies should just think about when I'm mean when we're doing our tests with direct mail over the next three to six months, it's not about the meeting conversion rate. It's about the, it's the met the meeting to proposal, we're meeting the closed won rate that I care about. Kathleen (44:58)Right. you just said a word that I'm really interested to probe a little bit more on, which is gift cards. Kathleen (45:08)This is another one that I have a lot of strong feelings about, but I want to hear what you have to say. Cause there's, there seems to be this like movement that has happened, especially during COVID, it's gotten much more widespread, like get a gift card for sitting through a demo of something. What do you think about that? Chris (45:23)It's just, it's companies optimizing for a metric that doesn't matter and, and building it into their customer acquisition costs and considering it, and probably not looking at it afterwards and just measuring it on demos. And what I've always been interested in from for a very long time is instead of having to bribe someone with a gift card to sit on a demo, how do we do great marketing so that they want that demo? And that that's the difference between giving away a gift card and doing marketing. I don't consider giving away a gift card doing marketing. I consider it a way to do sales, buying a lead or doing sales. Kathleen (46:04)Yeah. I feel like there's also a perverse incentive there where like, you, you, people are doing your demo because they want the gift card. Chris (46:10)I know I've audited enough Salesforce instances to do this. All of them go to closed lost after the demo, your sales team hates it. I don't know why. I don't know why people still do this, but in the only place that I've seen, I've seen it or heard about it work is in MarTech and that's great. But when you're selling to it or finance or HR or any of the other functions that are not revenue generating, I think that you're going to struggle in the data that I've seen shows that. Kathleen (46:38)Yeah, I would, I would agree. I always feel like it attracts the wrong kind of buyer. And it sort of cheapens what you're doing. It is, it is very like transparently pay to play. Chris (46:54)No, but, and again, I, I think that when a lot of companies move on dumb stuff like this, it creates a massive opportunity. I just don't think that people consider the opportunity of going in a different direction. Whereas I want, I'm going to earn my demos. When people sit on those demos, I'm going to earn them. And so in the future, I'm not going to need to give away gift cards and more people are going to do that. And so companies don't look at that. They look at the hack to get to the next round versus building something that's sustainable with IP and talent and operational infrastructure to actually execute on that longterm and continue to build on it. And that's the way I think companies should look at it. Kathleen (47:31)All right. We are rapidly coming up on our 60 minute mark. So we're going to go rapid fire for the next few questions. And on time the first one is you talked about getting companies to shift the way they think about marketing and to focus on, you know, pipeline generation or you know, revenue generation really is better put it. I would assume in the short term, then that there's, while that shift is happening how can I put this? It might make a lot of people very uncomfortable because many of their leading indicators, if they're changing the way they're doing marketing and they're doing some of the things you suggest like many of what they think of as leading indicators to pipeline are going to start to dry up. And so how do you handle that panic that I have to believe sets in initially and convince people to stick it out, to see the results? Chris (48:23)First showing the company that what they're doing right now and what they're measuring, doesn't align to what they're trying to accomplish. So getting aligned that I get that you're hitting your MQL target. I've had these conversations 50 times marketing continues to hit their MQL target. We continue to miss our qualified pipeline and revenue targets on the sales side. And just by surfacing that information and then knowing why that's happening. I think the key is that a lot of people keep doing that because they don't know why, or they don't know what to change. And so by first showing them that what they're doing right now, isn't working. And second centering on sales, qualified opportunities, because when you center on sales qualified opportunities at a stage that matters not you advance with an SDR and book the meeting, but the AEA had the meeting, there's still an amount attached to it and that's qualified. And so in that case, and you sent her on that, that number should never go down. When you change your marketing model, when you shut off your performance marketing, it will have no impact on that number. And that's why if you center on sales qualified opportunities, there's nothing to be afraid of. Kathleen (49:22)Yeah, that, that's interesting that you said that because my next question was going to be, and I assume one of the people that panics the most is the sales leader, because they want to keep their sales team busy. But if you're focused on SQLs that.. Chris (49:33)Right? The wrong sales leader, the sales leader with the 2011 mindset would panic that way. The smart sales leaders that I interact with are pumped that their SDRs don't have to follow up with 3000 leads a month that don't close and they can do strategic outbound using intent data or a million other higher productivity activities than following up with content downloads that don't want to talk to you. And so smart sales leaders should, should appreciate this. Should enjoy it. It's like a path to building a better company. Yeah. Kathleen (50:00)All right. Shifting gears. I always ask my guests two questions at the end of the interview. So I want to hear what you have to say. This podcast is all about inbound marketing, which I define kind of loosely. It's not the traditional, you know, put an ebook up and wait for leads to come in. It's basically pretty much what you're talking about, which is doing your marketing in a way that your ideal customer seeks you out and comes to you. When you think about inbound marketing defined in that way, other than Refine Labs or yourself, who is doing it really well right now? It can be a company or it can be an individual person. Chris (50:47)I'm trying to think. Hmm. I don't really have a lot and on, and honestly, I don't want to shout someone out as like a, as endorsement of someone that I don't think is doing an awesome job. And so I'm going to pass on this one. Chris (51:04)Yeah. I could shout out a customer. Kathleen (51:08)You're the first person I've interviewed who hasn't given me a name. I don't know how I feel about that. Chris (51:15)I definitely don't follow the grain, so I get it. Kathleen (51:19)Alright. Second question. I hear marketers say all the time that one of the biggest challenges they have is just staying up to date on everything that's changing with the world of digital marketing. How do you personally stay up to date and keep yourself educated by doing it? Chris (51:39)And so by by consistently pushing boundaries in places where I don't need a report to tell me what to do that I went and did it. And then I would be the one that publishes the report on what to do. That's where I think marketers should strive for. I think that a lot of marketers just get information and copy tactics from people. Like I imagine that there's plenty of people that take B2B enterprise, SaaS marketing and copy what's happening with ClickFunnels to sell a $60, $99 course and then try and sell that, do that, to sell a 100K ACV SaaS and fail. And so I think the company people should really like look deeply at what they're doing. And the reason that I know something's working, something's noticed because I've tried them. And then I understand the dynamics from the buyer standpoint. And I know, and so, and it builds experience to know in the future, if you're thinking about something, whether or not something's going to work based on past experiences. And so I would encourage people to listen to customers and then start executing and testing new things for themselves. All right. So learn by doing yeah. Kathleen (52:45)Well this has been great. I can't believe 60 minutes has passed so quickly. I feel like we could have definitely gone longer, but I have another five minutes that we're going to wrap up. So if somebody is listening to this and they want to learn more about you or connect with you or ask you a question, what's the best way for them to do that? Chris (53:04)So you can you can connect with me on LinkedIn, Chris Walker, and then questions feel free to shoot them in the LinkedIn DM. And we will cover them on a future episode, or I'll just answer you there Kathleen (53:15)And definitely check out the podcast as well for lots of really interesting conversations. And if you're listening to this episode and you liked what you heard or you're learning something new and I hope you did, cause I sure did. Please take a moment and head to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review so other folks can find us. And if you know somebody else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork, which is my Twitter handle, as bizarre as that is. And I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thanks for joining me, Chris. Chris (53:50)Nice. Thank you, Kathleen. This was a blast.


    Ep. 199: How Equinox sped up content production time by 400% using Airtable, ft. Archana Agrawal

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 14, 2021 36:01

    When COVID hit, many businesses were forced to pivot. How did Equinox Group quickly revamp its entire content production process to support the move to virtual classes? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Airtable CMO Archana Agrawal explains how Equinox Group used Airtable to build an entirely new content collaboration system as part of its shift from in person to virtual fitness during COVID. By improving how the Equinox team organized, accessed and shared information about content and the content production process, and by layering in automation, the team was able to increase the speed of content production by up to 400%. The new process didn't just improve the team's efficiency—it also had a dramatic impact on how customers used the Equinox app. Equinox's experience holds important lessons for any team looking to improve how it collaborates on content production.    Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear more about the Equinox story, along with Archana's insights on how a tool like Airtable can streamline workflows and improve collaboration. Resources from this episode: Check out the Airtable website Connect with Archana on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And today my guest is Archana Agrawal, who is the CMO of Airtable. Welcome to the podcast Archana. Archana (00:22): Thank you so much for having me here today. Kathleen, Kathleen (00:26): I'm excited to talk to you. You have such an interesting background, especially as a marketing leader and the stuff we're going to talk about, the topic today is also really interesting. So before we jump into that, can you take a moment and maybe share with my listeners a little bit about yourself and how you came to be in the role of COO of Airtable and then also what Airtable is? Archana (00:48): Yes. Love to, so let's see. Now I've been here at Airtable for a little over a year. And before this, I was at a company called Atlassian, also a builder of collaboration software. I think a pattern you'll find here is I just somehow seem to follow a product I absolutely love and that I have used or have seen used out there in the wild and that just make it so obvious that they have such a transformational impact, you know, on the way people work. And that took me to it last year. Gosh now maybe eight years ago and brought me to Airtable. Quick, quick introduction on Airtable itself. Really the way I think about Airtable is just really this platform that allows people to build the kind of tools and solutions that they want. We provide almost like the Lego blocks, you know, the building blocks that you can pull from as a non-technical user and create solutions that match exactly the need you have. And I'm sure we'll talk more about that. Kathleen (01:51): Yeah. And I can say I've, so it's funny, I've been a user of Atlassian products, JIRA and Trello specifically, and, but I've also been a user of Airtable products. Yeah. And, and all in marketing capacities. And so that's one reason I'm very excited to talk with you. And I also, one of the things I found fascinating about you particularly is that you, your undergraduate degree was in computer science and I have met one other marketer who did her undergraduate in computer science and she is actually the best marketer. I know. So I have this theory that like having a computer science background really is like a hidden superpower for marketers, especially in today's world when marketing has actually become quite technical. And if you understand how to make tools and software work for you, like it's, it's very powerful. So, so I'm really interesting, interested to dig into that a little further today. Archana (02:46): Yeah, absolutely. I'll I'll actually at least tell you two things about that. The first being you're, you're completely right in marketing just as a, as a craft has changed, right. When you think about it, it now feels like it's equal part creative messaging, you know, telling the story of your brand, but also creating data-driven customer touch points to be able to really take them along that journey. And so I do think some of that background where, you know, you can come back with, from hypothesis around the initiatives you have, or even taken a data driven approach to everything ranging from messaging to campaign certainly helps. It also helps quite frankly, having the technical background to understand sort of the diversity of talent that is needed today to actually make marketing work, right. Because it's, it's, you then know that, ah, this is all creativity that also really needs to be pulled into all of these channels. Archana (03:38): And this is engagement levers that we need to use to pull into the channel. So certainly helps to realize that, gosh, this is really a medley of many, many different skills. And then the other thing I was going to say is being a developer and now working at Airtable almost feels like I've come full circle because the idea behind like, you know, originally went and started my, my degree in computer science and wanting to go that route was effectively because the power that software developers had, the creativity and the innovation that's possible is just inspiring. Right. and now at Airtable, I mean, we get a chance to maybe unlock that power for even the non-technical user for allowing them to create solutions that they want. And so it's almost like the bringing together all the way back, the origins for making my career choices. But, but really in a very different context. Kathleen (04:38): Yeah, it's fascinating to me because, you know, I was just talking to somebody about the fact that there's a lot of data out there that points to in many cases, marketers have bigger, it budgets than the it departments within the company. You know, our tech stacks are really large these days. And, and so much of what we do in marketing can be made more easy via technology. But you know, and, and for many years you really did have to have a degree of, of developer knowledge in order to really make a lot of these tools sing and work properly and, and work together. But now we're, we're living in this funny time where it's now coming a little bit full circle because there are so many great low and no code tools. I think Airtable would be kind of in that category, certainly that, that it is beginning to make it more accessible to the rest of us who did not learn how to code in school. Kathleen (05:29): So that's a great thing. Airtable. I, so my experience with Airtable was when I first, when I worked at an agency and we needed a way to basically organize information across multiple teams and, you know, a simple Google sheet or Excel spreadsheet was not going to do it for us. And also it lacked, I think some of the visual elements that we needed in order to really make our information. And so we, we used Airtable and I was blown away by how much more organized we were able to become as a result of it. And without a lot of time invested upfront in getting there, which that was the really impactful thing for me. And now today I experienced Airtable also as a user because I'm a member of an organization called revenue collective and they have their entire membership database built on Airtable. And it's so wonderful because we're able, as members we're able to go in and, you know, so quickly and easily find information, I can sort by my local chapter by title, by location and everything's right there. So just a big shout out to Airtable for making that so easy to deliver that kind of information. Archana (06:43): It is so wonderful to hear stories like that. And, and I mean, honestly just, Kathleen, I mean stories that like, that just brought me into Airtable as well, right? Because that's, when you realize that you can bring people together, you can bring things, make things much quicker, the flexibility of the solution. You talked about it in marketing, but then you also talked about it in membership management. And when I, when I really try to simplify it at the end of the day, a lot of the power of Airtable comes from the fact that it's actually built on a relational database. And it has made that relational database available to folks that don't really otherwise have easy access to be able to program the way they want to program the data models and in a database. And then to add to that, it's like effectively made it so easy for folks like you and me to go in and put in business logic, which means that if someone's new to the if there's a new member that comes in a particular location, notify someone about it, you know, or kick off an onboarding process, it's just simple. Archana (07:44): That's what we would want to do. But without the actual tools available to stitch that journey together, sometimes it tends to be very fragmented and it doesn't really give you that seamless experience that you want to provide your, your membership base as an example, Kathleen (07:59): You know, you made me think of an interesting question that I want to ask you before we get into the, the specific story we're going to talk about today, which is that that is so powerful. And, and you've pointed to like how there are so many different use cases for what is in effect at its heart or relational database. But as a marketer, the first thing that made me think is that's so great for the user, but what a challenge as head of marketing, because when you have a product that can be used in so many ways, almost infinite ways. Like I related to the, what I like to call the cheesecake factory dilemma, which is when you go to lunch at the cheesecake factory and they present you with a menu that is 40 pages long, and you're like, this is terrible because I will never be able to decide, you know, and, and I don't think there's anybody out there who knows what all the options are. And so as a head of marketing, how do you tackle marketing a product that has almost limitless use cases? Archana (08:58): That's a great question. And I want to, I won't pretend to know all the answers just yet, but I will tell you it's exactly the way you and I began this conversation, which is sharing our stories about what actually drew us to the product and, and actually candidly being most more than just open to our customers. Because at this point in time, we learn so much from them, right. Which is, there's so many use cases of the product, actually being able to understand and see how it's being used out there just really enriches it even more. So for the, for the next set of people that are going to use the product. And so to answer that question, it's really focusing on customers and sharing their stories, giving them the avenues to share their stories as well. Because it is truly a product that you feel it when you see it in action and and experience it in that way and being able to then you know, have not only customers talk about it and showcase their stories, but also learning from them and productionizing for the next set of customers that will come really sitting at our front seats. Archana (10:08): What, what do we see making people successful? How do we see people engaging quickly with the, but one of the things you said it happened so fast, it was easy to get started with, and the way we've been able to productionize that is just by learning how other customers are actually able to engage with and use the products. What really makes it quick for them. Kathleen (10:28): Yeah. And I imagine there's probably people doing things with it that even the team at Airtable never imagined. Archana (10:34): Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's why I say we learn everyday from how we feel the product being used. Kathleen (10:41): That's so fascinating to me because I feel like most marketers are, our job is to teach people how to use the product. And it's, in some ways, it's, I imagine the reverse for you. So, but on the bright side, the best marketing is always about making the customer the hero of the story. So this is a perfect marriage of things within this. So let's talk about one of your customers, because I think this is a fascinating story to me, and this is the perfect example of how this works, right? Like you have a customer who was facing a real challenge and it has to do with the pandemic and how you pivot your business model. And I think this is a great example of exactly what we've touched on, which is that, you know, necessity is the mother of invention and they found a way to make Airtable work for them. But that is, it was, was very kind of customized to their situation, but really unleashed a lot of capabilities. So the company is the Equinox group, correct? Yes. And just do a little table setting for folks who are listening about how did this all begin because they were already a customer of yours, correct. When COVID hit, Archana (11:45): Correct. They were, they were definitely a customer and using the product. Right. But when COVID hit there's so much change and so many different businesses you know, I was reading a study the other day where McKinsey searches the number of digital customer interactions that businesses had most from somewhere in the mid thirties to almost 60% in the matter of the first six months that we had that. Right. So I think the idea was currently think about it, Equinox, really their business was built around their customers going into the gym and being able to actually experience their programming and the gyms. And now when COVID hit and they had to actually overhaul how they engage with their customers, they ended up having to really deliver a lot of their programming via content. And that's a very, very large pivot. When you think about it company that having to change how it really delivers the product, the end product to the customer. Archana (12:46): And so Equinox media media, which is a subsidiary of Equinox group was really a large part of making that happen. And they did that, what they call their Equinox plus platform, which includes both their mobile app, which is how they were able to deliver some of that content to, and the soul cycle at home bike. And, and really at the time of COVID, even though they were customers, it gives them that moment to actually take a step back and really get everyone onboarded and to re, to look for the new, new workflows that they had and be able to deliver in this new model that they had to Kathleen (13:25): It's. It's amazing. So how were they using Airtable before COVID Archana (13:30): Their marketing teams were using Airtable, but it was more in this format where it was just a part of the process, right. And now suddenly content became the most important part of the process. Like how do you start from collaborating with folks, external vendors and others who can actually provide help with the programming to all the way, how do you actually deliver the content into the app? And if you think about the number of teams that get touched along the way, then you realize, well, you've got to keep all of these people in lock step, and it's a new process and it's a remote customer base and presumably a remote team as well at this point in time. So in terms of the visibility of the information, that's required, both from a planning and an execution perspective, a lot of that comes right before, right. Archana (14:24): And then it's, once you actually deliver the content, it's also about bringing sort of that video back into the system, to the marketing teams. Then as an example, can come in and they can create the assets that they need, and they can create everything that they need to actually promote and the schedules for it. And so when you think about how it was used before versus later, you can think about a completely different workflow that then got engaged in order to do that. They also by the websites ensuring that they had their publication system on Airtable also improved to be able to work with their own APIs. And so that helped reduce the time to publish, which is, which is very important. That's amazing situation, right? Kathleen (15:13): Yeah. So as I'm listening to you talk, I'm kind of like categorizing all the different things they did with it. So it sounds like prior to COVID, it was like a internal team collaboration tool, and then COVID hit and it went from them selling experiences in the real world to selling basically digital media content products. And, and then it sounds like they, it's almost like they used Airtable to combine what otherwise would have been four or five different platforms. So what I'm hearing is collaboration and workflow management digital asset or marketing asset management. And then, and then this whole element of the publishing and the APIs, I don't even know how to classify that because that's, that's very interesting, and I think bespoke. Archana (16:05): And in this case, you know, you can actually almost think about, and the way I think about it, I, I, I'm not even sure if that's the way Equinox would frame it, but really that there's ultimately at the end of the day, a single ID of that piece of content that's actually used in all different locations and where it turns around to be in that way is effectively or single source of truth of what's happening around multiple different teams. Right. And so every little detail that you need to find out about the asset, its shareability, when can it be sort of published, what's the next step there, all of that. And all of the maintenance that actually happens with the asset later on in the process as well, comes an idea we'll see, right? It's not only sort of workflow and collaboration, but then actually even improving it to be able to take advantage of it, publishing it. API is, it becomes the way you distribute things, the way you market things. It becomes a core part of all of that. Kathleen (17:04): My mind is kind of blowing right now because this, you just said something and it was, it was four words that were super important, which was a single source of truth. As you know, I run a marketing team and, and my company is nowhere near as large as the Equinox group. Hopefully someday we will be. But I, the, one of the big challenges we have is sales enablement materials, right? Like the, who has the most up-to-date and authoritative version of the sales deck or the case study, or, you know, the, the one sheet or the sell the sell sheet that is a constant an ongoing battle and having a, to define the single source of truth, but also keep it updated because I think you talked about that. Like, it's not a static thing. This content is always being updated and refreshed and being able to like point all, we have a way to always point people in a direction that they know they're going to find the latest and greatest is really empowering youth cross-team collaboration. Archana (18:10): Yes. And, and if you would add one more sort of layer to that, then we recently did a survey, but it wouldn't be new information to most marketers, which is like 80% of the marketing teams that we reached out to said that they actually had felt a sharp increase in their workloads. This is not, not surprising, right. Kathleen (18:34): I, 100% in the beginning of the pandemic, I heard people talking about things like, like learning new languages and taking up hobbies. And I don't want to sound insensitive. I mean, there are definitely people who lost their jobs, who, you know, made lemonaid out of lemons and did that. But like, if you were working everyone I know who was working just started working more and more and more in the beginning. Archana (18:55): Yeah. And that is the way customers were engaging with the business. It's just changing. And if marketing's job is to drive growth, then marketing is going to have to change that customer. Right. So it seems like, yeah, it makes sense. Now the good news, in some ways, when I think about it as marketers, we're kind of ready for, for, for change, right? Because we've seen this all the time. Anytime there's a new platform, anytime there's a new media, there's new competition, there's a new product, there's a new region introduced and the teams rally together and sort of change and, and, and a large way. Right. So I think when we were talking about, yes, all of this is very important to have a single source of truth, but then the volume of work and the quantity of work, people were doing the amount of change that they're going through is also rapidly increasing. And, and when you combine those two, it becomes so critical that if you really want to be productive, and if you really want to have more real time and image, it moves in the market, operational excellence is absolutely got to be second nature to a marketing team. Agility is absolutely got to be second nature to marketing team. Kathleen (20:07): Yeah, that's very true. And I think there's another aspect to this that is really interesting, which is it's not just that Equinox or, or really any company at the beginning of the pandemic had to completely change the way they did their work. But all of that was happening at a time when, in many cases in person teams were forced to move and go remote. And so being able to collaborate and be on the same page, but also move fast when you're not physically together is hard. I mean, it's hard even for teams that have done it for years, there are many that still struggle with that. And so can you talk a little bit about how using Airtable helped Equinox with that? Yeah. Archana (20:48): I think that's the aspect around things around both real time visibility, you know, and, and I'll, I'll tell you in the context of Equinox, but even like, I'll, I'll live and actually talk to you about Airtable. I don't have really status meetings with my team anymore because I can go into now table base and I can understand the status of where things reside right now, but whether we were in the office, that would be true, or whether we are remote. That is also true. Right. So now going back to the Equinox story, yes, they're not only talking about remote teams, but also remote customer base at this point in time. And to be able to then move your sort of workflows in real time to take advantage, to sort of take advantage of what you have at this point in time, take advantage of the content, the best way you can, the folks that you have at, at that point, the realtime nature and the nature of what I actually think about as easy business logic, that's huge, right? Archana (21:54): Because Oh, a piece of content is ready for approval, have an automation get going to the person, give them the notification, let them know that we're waiting on them. It gets done, goes to the next stage of the cycle, right? Just that simple idea of otherwise what used to be a lot of manual intervention? Oh, I need to take this from here to, there tends to be I'll go back also to the other survey that we did, it came through there, that marketing leaders said that they spent on average 13 hours a week with operationally manual tasks. Right. And I can imagine that you just talked about the rich MarTech landscape that we have right now, the proliferation of tools, how cross-functional marketing is you're not dealing only with marketing tools, honestly, you're dealing with many different other functions in your company. And so again, going back to sort of that team of operational excellence, to be able to do that in a remote environment requires, you know, knowing that you can go in someplace in real time, that you can depend on things like being notified when things are time sensitive or, or the ball's in your court. Archana (23:10): And being able to build a solution that works for the way our team works very hard in this remote environment to get an entire team to change its working style, to match the way another tool might want to work. But if you can program that yourself and you can get the, the, the, the sort of solution to work the way our team works, there's huge. Just huge leverage in that. Kathleen (23:34): So I have two follow on questions to what you just said. Cause there were some interesting things in there. Number, number one is less of a question actually in more of a comment, which is when you talked about meetings, I perked up because that is always been my biggest challenge as a marketing leader is I call it death by meetings. Like I'm in meetings all the time. And then, and you come up with these lists of things to do when you're in the meeting, but then you realize you have no time to do them because you're going to more meetings. It's terrible. So if there's, if this product can reduce the number of meetings that alone as a value proposition is amazing. But no, the thing I was going to ask you is you talked about automation and and I don't, I don't know if I realize, so does, does Airtable have automation built into it also? Absolutely. Yes. I did not know that Archana (24:23): More about that. You cannot, you can, as things change into your system, new information comes in. You have a whole, you have an entire system there where you can go and program. As I said, just trying to abstract the way as a programmer. If you were trying to build a solution, you would need to be able to build business logic. And that's what we've tried to put in the hands of marketers or only sort of frontline workers, right? So if you need someone to actually be alerted or you need to post something to Facebook, or you need to schedule a notification to go out, right, it's all of those things that you need to know that they're going to get done. I don't need to go in and actually make sure it happens. That itself is sort of like an incredible, I think I'll, I'll tell you my own introduction to Airtable was when I was actually supposed to be a speaker at a conference and the speaker intake form came through Airtable. Archana (25:19): And the minute I filled my information, I got a DocuSign with the speaker liability forms. Right. And similarly, when I, when I sort of put in information about dietary preferences, et cetera, I saw the, my as an, as an outside person, not knowing anything about the tool, my own experience was so much more enhanced because I just saw how things were orchestrated. Like, how do you actually manage the speaker experience was all orchestrated. And I thought, Oh my God, I run event teams as a marketer. I should be doing that. And I mentioned, I, I look at, I follow the products I love. And that was my aha moment as, as sort of a marketer, which is, this is how, how we need to do it. Not actually have, you know, I don't know previously like the spreadsheet and all, we've got more registrations and these are the actions now that we will take with those registrations and get it all done, that it orchestrate to the system, you know, what you need to do, you know, what, how you want to build a great experience, go ahead and do it and let it all happen. Kathleen (26:24): That's amazing. I had no idea that that was built into the product. So now I have a little action item for myself to go to the website and dig deeper because now I'm really interested in all the different ways I can use it. I want to go back to Equinox though. And, you know, the, the, the premise of this podcast is always about results and leaving people with actionable things they can do to get better results. And so we've talked about the, about how Equinox used Airtable, and we've covered the actionable side, but we haven't talked about the results and they had some pretty interesting results from this. So can you maybe speak to, I know time to publish improved and there were some other metrics like actual outcomes in terms of adoption of customers using things. So tell me a little bit more about what came out of that. Archana (27:12): Absolutely. It should be ongoing, you know, putting the production tracking system, as we talked about an Airtable they went and they built it out to support their publishing APIs, right. They could publish much faster than this, improve their time to publish by 400%. Kathleen (27:25): Wow. That's huge. Archana (27:29): But I think as a, as a customer centric business, as they are, what was really cool, which is that when they really looked at the, since they launched the Equinox plus platform in March, and they looked at it through the end of 2020, and then the members that used the app working out nearly 20% more per month, compared to what they had done in 2019, that's a pretty phenomenal customer outcome. If you ask me and I, it sort of resonated more with me, just, you know, given that time when I know how important sort of like exercising, both physical and mental wellness had recommend all of our lives, the fact that they were able to move that outcome for their customers and get their customers moving and exercising was huge. Kathleen (28:16): Yeah, that's amazing. Both of those stats are amazing and it really speaks to great outcomes. All right. We're going to shift gears for a minute. And I have two questions I always love asking my guests. And I'm really curious to hear what you have to say on these things. The first being, you know, we talk all about inbound marketing on this podcast. Is there a particular company or an individual that you could point to right now that you think is really setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer today? Archana (28:47): I think it's a, it's, it's a pretty large large range in group, right. I personally am always gravitating just even by nature. And I think a lot of inbound marketing does too, with the idea of simply allowing or scaling it in a way where your customers are able to participate in the process. Right? So we talked a little bit about customer stories, but places where you have strong communities, where people can get together and authentically speak to each other about their experiences or places where you can actually engage with enjoying conversations about your product. I've, I've often, like when, when folks ask me, you know, what, what is sort of the, the biggest marketing myth I'm like, that we love to believe that we can control the message, but really our job is to join the conversations and the conversations and the experiences with our brands will help really the outcome of that. Archana (29:48): And so when you think about really, and they're just so many dimensions, when we think about all of these customer centric brands that try to do that and be there at the right time, at the right place, but with the, with the messaging, I hope I hope one of these days, but someone is going to answer with Airtable as their answer to you, but that's certainly what we're hoping helping to do, which is actually be able to meet prospects and customers in their journey. You know, give them the right information at the right time to scan the, you mentioned a note I took in my head, as we were talking is Kathleen said that she she uses Airtable, but she didn't know about automations. And so that's something, you know,, that I need to go and, and, and think through how that happened as well. And so that is yeah, th that's sort of my, my, my thing is about, you know, thinking about in the company. So think about that experience in the product led growth world, it's called a funnel, but think about that as your product, think about that engine as your product, as well as a product and manage it just like you would any, any product you manage, which is go in and fix the bugs and go in, enhance the features in it to be able to have measurable outcomes for the customer. Kathleen (31:08): And you met, you talked about community, which it's funny that you said that because as the whole time we've been talking, that's kind of been in my head that, you know, for a company that has, you know, is really trying to elevate user stories. And where so much of the product innovation is coming out of the customer community community obviously is, is a key part of, of that strategy. Is there any company out there that you think is doing community really well, that, that you look to as a great example? Archana (31:36): Yeah, I've I mean I've always looked up as an example to Salesforce as a brand that does community management very well. I'd like to think you know, the role that Atlassian plays in helping engage the communities is a very strong one as well. But, but I wouldn't want to be limited to those two brands because I do feel, I do realize that there's so many more marketers like us are coming for to, to, to understand what's the best way to give customers a platform, to understand it with the brand, but also with each other. And, and that's becoming a very strong sort of part of every market still, I believe, as we move ahead. Kathleen (32:18): Yeah. I think that's one of the good things that's come out of this pandemic is it's been a forcing function to speed up this movement towards community building. You know, I, I've always been an avid fan of like joining, joining different online groups, but the number of like really high quality, for example, you know, private Slack channels that have cropped up in the last year has been just amazing to me and the conversations that are happening in those walled gardens have been, have really added a lot of value to my life as a marketer. So I think that's going to be a great thing in the years to come that I hope, hope we keep up with, Archana (32:52): Yeah, th there's such rich conversations, right? Because we're all, we're all humans, we're all inspired by people who take actions and, and, and sort of enrich themselves. And we want to learn from them. And at the same time when we find that things have helped us, we like to share those stories, whether those are shared at events or in community forums or socially, or even in a conversation like this, I think it's a core part of how we all operate. Kathleen (33:20): Definitely. All right. Second question is the, one of the pain points I hear from a lot of marketers that I speak to, is that trying to keep up with all the changing things in the world of digital marketing is a little bit like drinking from a fire hose, whether it's changing technology or, you know, privacy regulations, or what have you how do you personally keep up with at all and, and, and continue to educate yourself? Do you have certain sources of information that you really rely on? Archana (33:48): Actually podcasts like this, which have become much more easier fortunately to access in our current current world where I feel like it brings forum for folks to learn from each other. So it's an easy way to say it. I wouldn't say I have any specific go-to ones there, but I certainly for a lot of companies in sort of the same area and that I follow them, product led growth companies or other enterprise B2B companies, where the leaders are speaking at it. I really like to go and listen to what's working for them. What inspires them? What are they looking forward to as changes that are coming? So that's certainly a, a big part of that. Kathleen (34:32): That's great. Well, I've really enjoyed speaking with you. Archana if somebody is listening and they want to learn more about Airtable, or they want to reach out and connect with you online, what's the best way for them to do that? Archana (34:44): So I'm at Airtable, of course, the website. But we also, you'll also find us on all social channels and I'd love to engage with anyone who would want to connect. Also find me on LinkedIn at the best, and that's the best way to reach out. Kathleen (34:57): Great. Well, I will include those links in the show notes. So head there if you're listening and you want to learn more about Airtable or connect with Archana, and in the meantime, if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, or you learned something new, I would love it if you would head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. That's how other people find us. And finally, if you know someone else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork and let me know about it. Cause they could be my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you, Archana. This was a lot of fun. Archana (35:29): Thank you so much Kathleen. Same here.  

    Ep. 198: Lead nurturing strategies, ft. Rich Quarles of glassCanopy

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2021 42:40

    Getting new leads is just the start. Once that happens, how do you nurture leads in a way that increases their propensity to buy? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, glassCanopy Marketing President Rich Quarles breaks down the topic of lead nurturing and shares his thoughts on how to structure a lead nurturing campaign that will drive higher conversions. From how many emails to send and how often to send them, to how to use display ads to increase brand awareness and stimulate higher email conversions, Rich gets into detail and shares actionable advice to improve your lead nurturing programs.   Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear Rich's insights. Resources from this episode: Check out the glassCanopy Marketing website Connect with Rich on LinkedIn Follow Rich on Twitter Email rich at rich@glasscanopy.com  Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I am your host Kathleen Booth. This week. My guest is Rich Quarles, who is the President of glassCanopy Marketing. Welcome to the podcast Rich. Rich (00:21): Thanks. Excited to be here. Kathleen (00:23): Yeah, I love, I love your company name. What is the story behind that? Rich (00:28): So when we first started the agency 20 years ago you know, I was coming off of my previous experience working at one of the early web services firms here in the Bay area. And what really struck me was how limited the services a lot of the company has provided and how sort of they used to do a lot of shell game around, like who was working for them, who were freelancers and, and a lot of companies, you know you would take somebody who wasn't necessarily the most qualified to do a job because they were taking up desk space and salary. And and so glassCanopy was originally conceived as providing overarching services. So, you know, full spectrum of communication services with totally transparent you know, how we got it done, how we did the work. Rich (01:32): So, you know, we eschewed a lot of the marketing bullshit. I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. So there was a lot of bullshit, right? Like about what we chose this color blue for, you know, explicit reasons. And we were much more results oriented. So it was just really more the openness about what we were doing, how we did it and that that's the, the glass, the clear part. And then the canopy was the overarching you know, services that we provided. Ironically, we're now like one of the most niche agencies out there. We're still transparent about how we get it done, but we really focus on really lead generation content generation and lead nurturing. And that's all we do. And we do it for a very limited number of companies. Kathleen (02:23): Great. Well, you just answered what was going to be my next question, which is to tell me about the company. So we're good on that, but I love that you guys focus so narrowly on, you know, lead gen and content and lead nurturing. And I think lead nurturing is actually what we were going to talk about today because I, and this is something that I've always been really interested in because I feel like there are a lot of marketers that are actually pretty good at lead gen. I don't know. I mean, lots of people do need help with that, but there's a lot of marketers that have figured out how to generate leads, but there's a lot of marketers for whom those just sit there and don't ever turn into anything. And so lead nurturing is one of those things that lots of people talk about, but I feel like few have really mastered and you guys have gotten some great results with lead nurturing and it is your bread and butter. So I guess let's start by having you talk to me about how you think about lead nurturing in general. Rich (03:21): Yeah, so I think, I think first of all you know, we went through a very similar journey as an agency to what you just referred to in that, you know, we, we really changed our focus from being a full services agency to really focus on content marketing and lead generation. And about seven years ago, six or seven years ago I came back from marketing profs in Boston and was just like, I see the light, we are going to change what we do. We are going to do less, much less. And and we got really good at bringing in top of funnel leads. And, and I think, you know, for us, what was a little different is that we, we never focused on just, you know, leads, but the right leads. So all of our clients are B2B clients with really complex, very expensive solutions. Rich (04:16): So typically six, seven, eight figure deals. And so of course, there's, you know, six to eight people in every deal and 99.99, nine, 9% of the population can't buy their products or services or influence it in any meaningful way. And so, you know, we started out with this really strong focus on getting the right kinds of leads. So, you know, we would call a marketing qualified lead irrespective of the scoring system that a particular client was using essentially the right title at the right firmographic type of company. And that really felt like a big accomplishment when we first started doing it, because typically when we came in, clients, a lot of times they were still focused on, you know, metrics like number of clicks or impressions or things like that. Kathleen (05:07): Following their Facebook page is one of my favorites. Rich (05:13): And then they were, they were only, you know, just kind of starting to really count the number of leads that were going into Salesforce. But, you know, there was a complete disconnect between marketing and sales. And so, you know, every time we came in there was that conversation with marketing saying we delivered 5,000 leads and sales saying, and they all sucked. And, you know, for most of our clients, it's a fairly defined universe of whom they can talk to. And so, you know, that first step was okay, we're only going to count a lead if it's that the right, the right lead. And then that started to open a conversation with sales, where they were like, Oh and we would kind of go through LinkedIn profiles of the leads that we brought in and that who are interacting with marketing and, and saying to sales things like, well, what about this person? Rich (06:11): Do you think you could sell, you know, your $7 million widget to this person? And they're like, Oh yes. I'm like, well, but start down that process. But what we found was that there was a huge disconnect between those top of funnel leads that we were bringing in and the revenue numbers, because again, you know, we were dealing with a relatively few number of deals. And so we had the luxury of starting at the bottom and looking at all the deals that sales had closed in a given quarter. And then, you know, desperately trying to find a connection to anything marketing had done. And you know, and very often you know, that became an attribution issue is we, as B2B, marketers are always facing, right? So Susie downloads, the asset, passes it to Tom who sits on it and then shows up and sales was like, look, we got this deal. He just called us. It was inbound or came out of my Rolodex. And, and you're like, well kind of, but there was additional touches beforehand by other folks in the organization. Kathleen (07:20): I literally just got off of that phone call. I am not kidding you. For the last hour. So yes, 100% that happens all the time. Rich (07:33): I remember sitting in a client's conference room six or seven years ago, and I was just like, we're going to right now, we're doing this manually, but we are, we're totally going to automate this probably in the next six months. I'm talking to some other outside consultants and some, some data scientists on this where we'll have this nut cracked, and I hate to say it, but we still go through and manually double checks. You know, some of it, we can automate some of it we can see, but the asset getting passed from person to person sometimes in the same organization, sometimes not, that's, that's much harder to track. But I think having the luxury of being able to actually manually attack that, which most even B2B marketers can't can't do, it gave us a lot of insights in terms of who and how, and why did people end up having a conversation with sales and making that transition from an MQL to an SQL and a sales opportunity. And so, you know, we started applying that as, as often as possible. And I, you know, it's not rocket science, like much of marketing, it's really more an execution play. But what I feel like is it, it really comes down to how many times and how many different can you, you know, follow up with that initial lead from the client and do it in a consistent, non bothering way to really increase that flow down the, down the funnel. Kathleen (09:11): I that's true, but I also think it's really easy to screw it up because if like, I can just think about my own situation. You know, you've got a ton of new contacts coming into your database and they're getting different emails for different reasons, whether those are marketing emails, whether those are lead nurturing, you know, then there's also different sales stages. Like when they first convert, there's a, there's like a certain need that they have at that first stage. Like they need to get to know your company. And then there's later when they've been in your database for awhile. And so, like, I feel like it's really easy to mess it up by sending too much, too soon, by not slow rolling in the beginning and not like properly introducing them to your company and almost like a welcoming or an onboarding sequence. And, you know, it, it also depends on their behavior. Like if they download five things in a day, are they getting enrolled in five different nurturing sequences? Or do you have a way to like reconcile what they hear from from you next? I like, I don't know. It's, it can be very messy if you don't approach it properly. Rich (10:16): No, absolutely. And I think that, that's one of the things that that, that we all struggle with to a degree, but that you can tackle by having sort of a unified approach in how you're following up with a given lead. Right. So that they're only in one bucket or classification at a time. I think when I think of the, the amount of times you can touch a prospect, it's not in a single channel. Right. So I think that we sort of default to email but email is appallingly inefficient in terms of getting a prospect's attention, right. So, you know, if you've got a lead nurture stream, that's getting clicked on at two or 3%, you know, that, that feels pretty good. Sometimes depending on what the call to action is, right? So if you've got a content call to action, then that would be terrible. Rich (11:15): But if it's, you know, get a demo for a $7 million project, you'd be probably pretty good with that. And so, you know, I think that what's helpful is to have a unified campaign within your nurture sequence. So you're addressing, you know, your best gas, are they trying to find out more about the solution category and, and they haven't gotten to like narrowing down vendors in which case, the more objective information that you can provide that allows them to start getting down that process, the more trust you build and the more likely you are to be in that final list or are they at the point where they've already got their short list of three prospects and three vendors that they want to talk to, and you're really trying to push through that. Or is it a different stage? Like, you know, I think one of the most frustrating things about plotting this out is that no one follows, you know, the lead process that we have in mind. Rich (12:17): You know, I mean, the folks here, linear funnel, yeah. The linear buyer's journey is I, I, you know, and people have suggested all kinds of different metaphors for it. And I don't know that one works better than another, but, you know, we all know the linear customer journey almost never happens. And when you look at any given customer, it looks more like a drunken stagger then running in circles, chasing tails is but I think the, really the more the more ways that you can reach out to the customer, so more platforms, right? So just emailing, somebody will just get you, them trained to ignore your emails or unsubscribe, or you end up in, you know, spam or near spam folders. But if you add layer on say, you know, retargeting ads across a bunch of different platforms, you know, almost nobody clicks on a retargeting ad, but we see that, you know, increase our email lift by almost 50%. Rich (13:31): And then how so, well, we've just won a number, different experiments. So if you're, you've got your email nurture stream going, and it's just email, it's just coming out of HubSpot or Pardot or Marketo or Eloqua. And then you add a synced banner campaign, not necessarily the same offer, but aimed at the same stage. Right? So, you know, if they're still figuring things out, maybe you're offering a webinar by email, but your, your banner ad campaign is, you know, offering a Gartner report or something like that, or a deep dive into how that solution works. You're not going to get a lot of people clicking on those banner ads and filling out the form and, and downloading your offer. But you will see an increase in responsiveness to your email campaign and you'll see an increase in the SDR BDRs success rate when they're reaching out. Right. You know, if branding didn't work we'd all be out of a job. And so that's very helpful. That's interesting. So, so at what point do Kathleen (14:52): You start to nurture, are you, is everybody getting nurtured in some way, or is it only the people that have converted on something, or like you mentioned SDR and BDR, like, do you have your database of outbound outreach that you're doing and they're enrolled in nurturing sequences? What is it that like triggers them to be enrolled in nurturing? Rich (15:16): So we, as an agency, don't do any outbound. Obviously a lot of our clients do. I'm not a big fan of the cold call, whether that comes via email LinkedIn or the phone. I think that, you know, inbound is really the way to create engagement and, you know, whenever we have measured that we see it very consistently. I mean, people just don't buy extremely complex business solutions based on a cold call. They develop a need, they have an interest they investigate and they, they move forward from that perspective. So, and I've lost track of the question, Kathleen (16:00): How do you determine what's the trigger that determines who gets enrolled in nurturing? Rich (16:04): So, so for all of our campaigns, you know, we need a prospect to raise their hand to say, I am interested. And, and very often that is downloading a content asset first. So, you know, a lot of times our lead asset might be a very in-depth, but non salesy objective way discussion, maybe 20 pages or so of how to solve a given problem. Now we don't expect people to read them but they're very scannable. You know, if you flip through it in a minute, you get the gist of it, but it, it actually feels and is substantial. And so a surprisingly large number of people will download it or print it out. However, they kind of shuffle their digital assets. And when we follow up you know is shockingly large number of times, they will brandish it and they'll be like, I've been meaning to get to this. Rich (17:01): And so, you know, there's gotta be some sort of meaningful engagement on behalf of the prospect, or you're just hammering at a closed door. And so, you know, based on what it is that that initial engagement is that really determines on where they're going to go into the nurturing prospect, right? And so, you know, we're also really big believers and you only ask for as much information as you need. And I have this argument with, with sales and customer teams all the time, but the only piece of information you need as a business email, everything else is a little bit of work from a yeah, from a data augmentation point of view. There's a little bit of work, but you want to know their address, their phone number, their job, title, everything you can get all of with their email address. And so, you know, taking that that allows you to build a profile based on you know, who they are. And then you've got a good starter point based on what was that first interaction, what was the subject matter of that? Kathleen (18:06): So when somebody does first interact and raises their hands, you know, it could be on any, any given thing. It could be on an ebook on a webinar. It could be that they subscribe to your blog. It could be that a meeting with a sales rep, people are coming in and all different ways. Do you generally have some sort of like singular welcome experience or are you contextualizes how you begin nurturing them based on what it is they converted on or raise their hand for? Rich (18:34): Yeah, that's a great question. It's always contextualized based on how they came in with, with one exception which is the newsletter. And, you know, I think this is actually how you and I reconnected a couple of years ago. We both simultaneously, but little posts on how nobody wants to read your, your news, your company newsletter. And so, you know, the newsletter is never about the company. It's never about their product. It's about the customer and their profile and, and the business challenges that they face that are included in, or adjacent to, you know, where the solution that we're representing plays. And, you know, for the most part in as much as I can convince my clients it's, it's third party articles, because that's what customers find most useful. We've already got their business email. We already know where they live. Rich (19:29): We don't need them to register for more stuff. We don't need them to click on stuff. We're just there to provide value and interest. So if there's a McKinsey article out there that kind of goes in depth or a Harvard business review article, that really talks at a theoretical level about how to solve some aspect of their job, it's really valuable for us to kind of serve that up. And, you know, we'll, we may have multiple newsletters for different personas. So, you know, oftentimes we'll call them the sayers or the doers. Like, you know, the folks that are in there using the software, using the hardware on a daily basis versus their bosses who did use that kind of hardware 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. And they've got different, you know, business issues that, that were progressing, but everybody kind of gets that once or twice a month newsletter that kind of helps them stay up to date on, on problems that we're presuming there, they're interested in based on their interest in our solution. Kathleen (20:31): Right. So you kick off nurturing based on what they converted on. You have your email nurture. It sounds like you're doing ads as well. And then you might have like, newsletter, are there other channels that you're using for nurturing beyond ads, email, and, yeah, Rich (20:48): So we encourage our clients to connect on LinkedIn with folks that have come in again, it's not like a, Hey let's connect, right? Because everybody ignores those, but offering an additional piece of value, often an ebook or something along those lines, you know, saw you saw this, here's an ebook that solves what we think probably you're looking at or talks about in depth. Would you like to connect and I'll email you a copy and, you know, we see about a 15%, 10 to 15% action rate based on those kinds of emails versus, you know, maybe a 2% or 3% connection rate, if you don't have an offer, but you sort of customize it and then a Bismal numbers, if you're just spamming people. Kathleen (21:40): Hm. That's interesting that the connection rate is so low without like, without an offer, because I don't know. I feel like I spend a lot of LinkedIn connections and, and as long as I customize the message and it's like, here's, here's why I'm reaching out to you. And it's, as long as it's not a pitch, I feel like I have a really high acceptance rate. Rich (21:58): Well, but how often is your "I'm reaching out to you because I want to feature you on my podcast"? Kathleen (22:03): No, no, no, never, never, never. I don't. I actually, it's funny cause I'm at the point now and I'm really lucky. I realized, but four years into this podcast, almost everybody that comes on, I either get pitched or it's an introduction from a past guest. So, or it's like somebody I've been friends with for years. I don't, I, I only maybe once or twice if I done cold outreach and funny enough when I do it, it's usually on Twitter. So no, it's usually like, Hey, you know, I saw that you're, you are like a big expert in this. And I'm really interested in that. And I would love to add you to my network. And it's just funny, like I've found maybe it's that people are so jaded by just getting the one where nobody customizes it and they press the button, which is like, I'd like to add you to my network and there's no personal information at all. So maybe the bar is so low that as long as I put some tiny amount of personalization and people accept it, I don't know. It's really interesting. Rich (22:58): That is interesting. I mean, I, I think that what we're finding is it the, the, the, generally the people that are doing the connection requests are SDRs or BDRs. And so it's sort of obvious that they're. Kathleen (23:16): So maybe it's because they're in a sales role and people are like, I don't want you to sell to me. Rich (23:21): With other, you know, like CTOs and other folks with different titles. But because, you know, your LinkedIn account is, you know, personal to you. If people, if you're doing that at scale, it becomes actually quite hard to manage that, that inbound flow, if that's not what you consider to be your job when, once people reply, you know, you have to kind of deal with that manually. And then to hand that off becomes a little awkward. And again, you know, I think we're not trying to, we're not trying to bother anybody, right? Like, that's not the way to get that sale either. It's, it's a way to, you know, come to make yourself available at different times in different places so that, you know, the customer is, you know, feels in control because ultimately they are in control. Yeah. You know, I, I think for me, you know, the, that moment where I was like, Oh, content marketing, that's, that's where we have to go, because ultimately you're just not going to be able to reach people unless they want to be reached. And, you know, one of our, one of our niches is reaching physicians. And, you know, they're sort of the ultimate. Kathleen (24:42): They're hard to reach. Yeah. They don't give out their emails anywhere. Rich (24:45): They don't, and they've got a whole phalynx of, of folks that are lined up, you know, to guard them from interactions that they don't want to have with people trying to sell them stuff. Yeah. And you know, one of the interesting things that, that we've seen from the pandemic is, you know, prior to the pandemic, maybe half of the physicians in the U S would let you know, reps of various types into their office. And, you know, obviously with the pandemic that went to zero, and what we're hearing loud and clear from the physician community is you're never coming back. Kathleen (25:23): We like it this way. Rich (25:24): Digital has worked out just fine. We don't need you to send reps to buy our, our folks lunch or anything like that. We'll contact you if you, if we want to hear from you. And, and I think the whole world is, is, is moving that way. We all have increasing control over who gets to contact us which I think is a direct reaction to marketers ruining everything. Right. Kathleen (25:51): So speaking of ruining things, let me ask you a question. I want to dig a little deeper on the email side, just with her, just talking about email nurturing what are your thoughts around how often and how many times? Rich (26:05): So I have dug through and seen so much conflicting data on this that I will, I will fess up and say, I feel like this is basically a personal preference. Kathleen (26:19): That's why I said, what is your feelings? Yes. I don't buy any of the data because it's also different by industry. It's different by role, but like, I always like to hear people's personal takes on what is the right approach. Rich (26:30): Yeah. So personally, I feel like you need a followup directly after the contact you know, where they're asking for an asset and that's not like an instant auto response. It's something a day later after that, typically we go either 13 day intervals or 15 day intervals. And we very deliberately didn't want to go on two week intervals because we want to hit on different days of the week, because everybody who you know talks about, well, on average Wednesday at 10:00 AM is the best time to send well, yes, that may be when the majority of people are, are the largest number of people are, are most likely to be available, but there's somebody who always has an opening at Tuesday at 10:00 AM, somebody else who only goes through their emails on Saturday morning. And so if you want to get everyone or give everyone a chance, you know, you want to kind of space it out. And so, you know, we, we do 13 to 15 times, I feel like twice a month is, is enough plus with the newsletter. And if there's a BDR outreach on top of that, Kathleen (27:39): So twice a month for six months is about what you're doing. Rich (27:44): Well. So we will typically do a cycle of about five emails on a specific topic. And then if graduate that prospect to a new cycle and again, that's, that's pretty customized based on who they are or what vertical they're in or what product or solution they've shown some interest in. So we, we do try to, to change that up. And there, there's typically a pause of an additional two weeks or three weeks or so as we transition. And it's not just the email that changes, you know, the banner ads that they're sent to, if we've got a parallel conversation going on, LinkedIn will change that as well. And after six months we'll rest, and then we've got the rescue emails, right? Like you're never going to stop getting marketing emails until you say, please stop. Kathleen (28:42): Yeah. so do you, and then, so you don't, you don't stop for disengagement. Like if somebody is not responding, there's not, you don't have a threshold beyond what you, you sort of do a list hygiene purge and say, I'm taking you off my rolls. Okay. Rich (28:59): For the most part we do not. And that's based on our data when we've got someone who, you know, ignored our emails for six years and then clicked on, I want a quote and the deal closes in, you know, record breaking time. And we we've seen that in a lot of different long-term engagements where, you know, we've got that tracking data and, and, and folks come back. There are, you know, it's a little different by industry and that, like, you know, for instance, cybersecurity after six years, they're probably not there it's going to a bot. So you, you know, there are no absolutes, but for a lot of a lot of our audiences, you know, no news is just no news. Kathleen (29:56): So talk to me a little bit about some real world examples. And you can, if you can't name names, that's totally fine. We can be anonymous, but like, I, I'm interested to know how, you know, you're getting great results. Like, how are you measuring the results and what kinds of results have you seen? Rich (30:15): So I can talk a little bit about a enterprise software company that we were working with. And the, when we first started working with them, they were sending out cadenced emails out of Marketo and getting almost no response. Right. And so when we dug into the, the, the list data, and I always believe when you're getting bad results, it's not, it's never because of the creative, right. It's always the list. And so, you know, we, we really started digging in and seeing that, you know, a lot of the list was from conferences that people had attended another sort of pseudo opt in. And so, you know, we started a new and I don't remember the exact number, but I want to say the engagement rate was like 0.2% 0.3%. And so we started a new content campaign with some high-level ebook solutions that were promoting and contents indication and targeted advertising campaigns and the engagement rate for those campaigns. Rich (31:41): And there was a threshold to, to be qualified as an MQL and the scoring system varied, but essentially you had to take at least a couple actions after that initial action to get to MQL. And we were bringing 35% of the incoming leads to MQL status within a quarter. Kathleen (32:02): Wow. That's great. Rich (32:03): And, and that, that went from, you know, essentially no engagement at all. And, and we saw, you know, distinct levels as we increase what we were doing in the marketplace with those. So, you know, that's one of the places that I saw, and it's pretty consistent that when we add those banner ads that are, are synced, it doesn't seem to help if it's just random branding banners. But if they're synced to the campaign that you're, you're hitting those particular prospects with, you see like a 50% lift in terms of engagement. Even though like, I mean, the engagement rates with banner ads are honestly vanishingly low. Kathleen (32:43): Yeah. And it's only going to get worse, I think as cookies start to go away and, or third-party cookies at least start to go away. So yeah. Rich (32:51): Yeah. The tracking issue, cause that's a whole nother podcast that I look forward to. Yeah. Kathleen (32:55): Yeah. Seriously. Well, I just, earlier this week, I just published an interview with somebody about the Apple iOS 14.5 update and what that would mean. And soon we're going to have all the Google stuff coming down and it's just constant fun, getting harder and harder every day. Right. well, I want to shift gears because I feel like we could talk about this all day. But I always have two questions I like to ask my guests. And I'm really curious about what you have to say about these. The first is we, you know, we talk a lot about inbound marketing here. Is there a particular company or individual that you think is really knocking it out of the park when it comes to inbound marketing these days? Rich (33:34): Yeah. So I'm going to go a little outside of B2B here. There's a fellow by the name of Cameron Hughes who had his own winery label that was mainly distributed at Costco for many years. And he, his model was essentially buying wine from first rate wineries that was going to go unsold, putting a private label on it and signing, you know, 19,000 NDAs, if he wouldn't disclose where the wine came from and selling it at a discount through Costco. And so for various reasons that that business didn't quite work out, he ended up selling it. But about a year ago, sort of the beginning of the pandemic, he started a winery or winery distribution, I guess, called de Negoce. So I'm not sure totally on how it's pronounced, but essentially it means a wine negotiate. Rich (34:36): And same business model only he was, he's selling it as futures. So he signs the contract with the winery. I'm going to buy 500 cases of your best wine and that you sell for a hundred dollars a bottle and I'm going to sell it for 12. And then he pre-sales, it collects the money, gets the wine, bottles it, and then ships it to you and the catch is, because it's just been put in the bottle. It's not really drinkable for like between three and 12 months. So, you know, there's that, that pain involved of having to store the wine, which for this particular audience, I think it makes it all the more appealing Kathleen (35:22): I was going to say. I bet there's people who are like, I can't wait. I'm tapping into it now. Rich (35:28): And, and so I can hear you thinking, like, what does this have to do with inbound marketing and where it comes is there are bulletin boards devoted to people guessing where these wines come from. People splitting bottles and the, the founder will show up every once in a while dropping little nuggets of hints or, you know, discussion around what happens. And, you know, they don't have any kind of formal ambassadorship program, but I know I have introduced, I think, six or seven people or time to the, the concept because it's such an interesting business model. And he sends out these emails and texts. I actually subscribed to a text telling me about the new wines that I could buy. And I love them. It's the first thing that, like my phone pings and I'll sit there and read through, and the descriptions are amazing. Rich (36:32): And you don't think that you can read that many wine descriptions. I feel compelled because there's only so much wine a reasonable person can drink. Kathleen (36:42): I feel like you'd need to have an affiliate code because everybody listening to this podcast is probably like, I got to go check this out now. Rich (36:50): Well, you would think so, but I, this is what I really love about it because I feel like he has captured that sense of authenticity that is so critical to everybody's marketing efforts. And, and I think that, you know, in B2B marketing, we, we sometimes play this line that, that feels difficult where we want to be salesy, but we know that actually our, our prospects don't really respond well to that. And so, you know, I think that one of the reasons that this, this wine company is so successful is that they are treading that line perfectly and not having an affiliate program, I think makes that ambassadorship and that you see it's kind of rampant that much more authentic. Right. And so it's sort of like, you know, when you think about, Oh, I want to send something to this prospect. I want to add that to my lead nurture stream. Rich (37:53): Right. I want to give them a physical thing. I want to do a direct mail at dimensional direct mail piece. And it's always like, but you don't want it to look like a bribe or feel like a bribe, right? You want it for them to have a joy, but essentially the worthless, because you could be breaking company laws or company rules, you could be breaking laws if it has a value of more than a hundred dollars say or $50 even. And no one ever wants to admit that they were influenced by, you know, something along those lines. And yet, you know, you want to give something of value. And so that sort of lack of salesmanship makes for really effective sales. Kathleen (38:44): Yeah. Oh, that sounds like a great one to check out. All right. How do you spell it so that I know how to find it? Rich (38:50): D E N E G O C E. Kathleen (38:56): Okay, cool. I'll put the link in the show notes for anybody who wants to check that out. I'm sure we have lots of wine enthusiasts out there who would love to check it out. Rich (39:02): That's great wine. I have to say like the value is amazing. Kathleen (39:08): Awesome. All right. Second question is the pain point I hear most from marketers is that they find it very hard to keep up with all the things that are constantly changing in the world of digital marketing. How do you personally like to stay educated and up-to-date on all that? Rich (39:22): So I belong to a round table of agency owners called the Agency Management Institute. And it's, it's a larger organization, but the, the round table that I belong to is 12 different advertising agencies that are located across the United States. And we get together physically get together when there's not a pandemic going on every six months for two or three days. And, you know, we, we, we both talk about our, our, our businesses, but also, you know, industry challenges and how we're tackling them. And, you know, typically we'll have a speaker or something like that. And so I find that to be a really useful step back from the day to day of operations. And, you know, everyone brings a big idea. We offer a a hundred dollars, crisp a hundred dollar bill. So there's 1200 bucks on the line and everyone brings their, their best idea. And, and any time I travel outside my bubble and turn off my phone for a couple of days, I always feel like, you know, I'm able to reflect and think of something that is useful. And I always come back from those meetings with something that, you know, is of use to many or most of my clients. Kathleen (40:41): Great. I love those private networks. And I feel like a lot of them have really kind of grown considerably since the pandemic started, because it's, whereas a lot of us used to do so much meeting in person that has disappeared. And so having these peer groups, having these Slack groups, these communities, whatever form they take has become tremendously valuable. Rich (41:01): Absolutely. And I think, you know, as, as marketing professionals, we, we lean on each other. And you know, I think that that's why the state of the art has advanced so quickly over the past 20 years after really being stagnant for 30 or 40 years. Kathleen (41:18): Yeah. That's very, very true. All right, well, we've reached the top of our hour. So what I would love to know is if somebody is listening and they have a question or they want to learn more about what you're doing, or what talked about here, what is the best way for them to connect with you online? Rich (41:37): Just shoot me an email at rich, rich@glasscanopy.com. Or you can go to our website at glasscanopy.com and fill out a form or chat with us. We try to make ourselves available. Kathleen (41:49): All right, fantastic. And I'll put those links in the show notes as well. And if you're listening and you liked this episode, head to Apple podcasts and leave a review. And of course, if you know somebody else doing amazing inbound marketing work, send me a tweet at @workmommywork, because I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me Rich. Rich (42:09): Thanks so much for having me, Kathleen.  

    Ep. 197: Email and landing pages that convert Ft. Salena Knight

    Play Episode Listen Later May 31, 2021 51:05


    What are the top three low hanging fruit opportunities that ecommerce brands can take advantage of to drive more conversions, and what lessons do they hold for B2B marketers? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, The Retail Academy founder Salena Knight talks about three marketing tactics that ecommerce brands can implement quickly to drive massive results, and how those tactics can also be used by B2B, B2C, or really any kind of marketer to increase conversions. Salena says it's all about focusing first on what you don't do well, understanding the customer journey, and where along that journey they are most likely to say "yes," along with the importance of segmenting your database so you can give the right offers to the right people at the right time.   Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear more about Salena's top three tips. Resources from this episode: Check out Salena's website Connect with Salena on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Salena Knight who is the CEO of The Retail Strategist and founder of The Retail Academy. Welcome to the podcast, Salena. Salena (00:23): Hi Kathleen. I am so excited to be on here because I totally love geeking out about all things marketing. Kathleen (00:29): Oh my gosh. I'm the biggest marketing nerd. And so we're going to do just fine. Right? Great. Yes. and I, I love, I'm really excited to talk to you because you know, the podcast is all about inbound marketing and for whatever reason, historically, I've tended to have a lot of B2B marketers on my show, but obviously inbound marketing can be used in all different sectors. And, you know, in my day job, I do a lot of work with e-commerce brands. And so I was really interested that you specialize in retail because I think that there are a lot of ways to use inbound marketing strategies there as well. And I think a lot of brands are not tapping into them, at least from what I've seen. So we're going to dig into that a little bit, but before we do, can you just share a little bit about your background and what The Retail Strategist and The Retail Academy are? Salena (01:19): I would love to, and I think before we jump in, that is so insightful of you saying that you can take away e-commerce strategies because it's so often is the case. When I chat to people who aren't in retail or e-commerce, and I say some of the strategies that we're using, and they say, why are we not doing that? And the biggest one is, is something simple as capturing, like doing a customer database Facebook ad strategy or an ad strategy to get, to build the customer database, rather than just going direct to lead or direct to sale. But we'll talk about, let's see, we already geeking out. Kathleen (01:54): I know! We're getting ahead of ourselves. Salena (01:58): So my name is Salena. I own The Retail Strategist, which is a boutique marketing agency for retail and e-commerce brands, but I'm also firstly, the founder of The Retail Academy, which is an online training hub that gives the knowledge and the confidence to retail and e-commerce store owners to build their brands. So I'm a retail growth strategist. My focus is on scaling brands. I don't work with startups and I, I focus on independent brands. And the reason I do is because I had this instinct need for gratification. And when you work with independent brands and I'm not talking to still even small brands, some of these brands are high seven figure turnovers, but they're very agile. And they're always excited to put strategies into place. There's not 27 levels of hierarchy. And by the time they implement it, that thing's been in gone the internet and e-commerce and everything that we do, that's technology based these days is moving so quickly that you don't implement fast. Then you could be lost forever, and you can definitely lose out to competitors because in a lot of cases, it is first to market. Even if it's a little bit messy, even if it's not necessarily the prettiest, but the first to market is the person who gets, who wins the prize and gets that market share. Kathleen (03:19): I just have to say, I love what you said about independent brands, because I owned a marketing agency for 11 years before going in house as a marketer. And I used to talk about this all the time. Like I never wanted to work with really big companies because I always wanted my client to be the one who could give me the yes. And it was really a yes. Right? Like not run it up the chain. Yes. Not decision by committee. I want to, I want to go to the source and get a yes. And then just act on it. And so I totally relate to what you just said. Salena (03:49): Yeah. And look, that's me. Other people love working with big brands with, with, you know, endless pockets of money, but I like to see results. And I think that's one of the reasons why my, my philosophy in who we attract as a business is very different to everybody else. So we have a philosophy that is, if you focus on what you're crap at for 90 days, you will see exponential growth. And too often we're told, you know, all the lots of gurus and pace, people like Gary Vaynerchuk, it's like hustle, hustle, hustle, be known for one thing, like just Excel at one thing. But the problem with that is, and I was actually having this conversation. I was at a retailer awards dinner last week and I was talking to a very high eight figure business. They're a marketplace. And we were just chatting, chatting, chatting, chatting. Salena (04:36): And, and then the question came up, what do you do? And, and I told him, and I told him, I, I, I'm a little bit, I'm a bit contrary. Like I'm a little bit challenging. I kind of go the opposite of what everybody else is doing it. And this is my philosophy. If you do what you're crap at for 90 days, I didn't use the word crap. If you do what you're crap at for 90 days, you'll see exponential growth. And he looked at me and he just said, Oh my God, that is brilliant. And I said, I know. I made it up. No, no, no, no. Now that you've just said that I know the thing that we're crap at, and it was customer service delivery. And he said, I've, it's been playing on my mind for a really long time that it's something we need to focus on. Salena (05:21): And he said, just wait here. And he went and got the CEO of the company and he came back and he said, you have to listen to what she has to say. And I said, it's not that exciting. It's like for 90 days and you'll see exponential growth. And he said, and he smacked the guy on the back of the back of the back. And he goes, we are crap at customer service delivery. And he said, yeah, we know. And I said, but if you knew it, why, why have you not done anything about it? And he said, well, you know, we're always focused on acquisitions or we're always focused on the sale, or we're always focused on our marketplace experience. And I said, right. So if we tweak those got a growth that you're going to get. And he said, Oh, it's less than, you know, if we can get 1%, it's great. Salena (06:06): If we got 3%, everybody would be out of the park. And I said, well, I've worked with brands who, when we did this, they got a 30% increase in growth. And he said, yeah, I could see how that could work if we could it's customer service delivery. Let's be honest. If you can fix that, you're probably going to get more repeat customers. Yeah. Yeah. And he said, I could see, we could get 30% growth if we fix this thing. Okay. And it was like a light bulb went off for him. And he said, why, why have we not done? We've known for so long that this is the problem. Why have we not tackled it? And they didn't have an answer between the CEO and the chief growth officer. They didn't actually have the answer. I can tell you the answer. It is safe to work on things that you are good at. Salena (06:49): It's comfortable. It doesn't push you out of your comfort zone. You've got metrics there. You know, like you said, if they got 1% growth, they were super excited. So your team has a metric that they can work towards. It's, it's no fear of the unknown. And we do this in business. If you're a smaller business, you quite often revert back to busy tasks because they're easy for you to do. You can cross them off the to do list. Like I said, I work with a lot of seven figure businesses. And you think by the time you've got to $7 million in turnover, you've got your crap in a pile, but I can just, they don't necessarily. And even when you're at that high eight figure business, there is always going to be something that you need to focus on for whatever reason. But it's the thing you are going to focus on. Salena (07:35): There's generally going to be that safe, easy thing. So I'm happy to give you a whole bunch of tips on how we can leverage email marketing, the caveat that only steps into place. If marketing is the thing that you need to focus on, if you know that you need to increase conversion rates, if that is the thing that right now is holding your business back by all means, go ahead, implement this stuff. If not save this episode, come back. When you know that this is something, listen to it, absorb the information, but don't go and implement it as another shiny thing, because we can do that. Especially as business owners, we love hearing all these new tactics and we just want to rush it. Yeah. And implement all the things. And I can tell you is a very horrible feeling to have, but I've made my team cry by doing this and not cry because they were upset, but cry because they will maximum bandwidth with all the other amazing ideas that I have wanted to implement, that they just didn't have any mental space or any hours left in the week to do it. Salena (08:39): And when you make someone cry because they can't fulfill you, the feeling that you get is just horrendous. Yeah. And so I vowed never to do that again. Like I'm never going to make somebody cry because they couldn't fulfill my dream because they didn't have enough, like anything left in the tank. And so that's kind of where this whole strategy. I mean, when I, when that happened, I didn't have this strategy and it kind of took a few years to work out. But when we did that and we started on focusing on the thing that we were bad at quite often, we had to bring somebody else in to do it because the reason you're not doing it is because you either don't have the skills or you don't have the resources or you don't have the time. And so it actually ended up freeing up a lot of my team because they weren't wasting time trying to work out how to do these things. Salena (09:26): We just said, all right, this is the thing we're going to focus on. Let's just get somebody to do it for us. And then we can go back and do the things that we're good at. Yeah. And so that's whether you're a CMO or whether you're the CEO who's listening, that's your job is to be the leader and to identify the areas of your business, that your team, or you need to focus on. It doesn't mean that you have to go and do these things yourself. If your job, as the leader is just to identify them. Kathleen (09:52): I also just, I have to say it resonates with me so much when you said like making somebody cry because they couldn't fulfill your expectations. Because I, I mean, I've definitely found myself in that position as well when I own my own business. And, and, and I'm somebody who's guilty of having a lot of ideas, you know, people listening probably. Yeah. Yeah. And like, I think a lot of really good ones, but I'm also guilty of trying to do them all. And if there's one real weakness, I have, I think that that's it it's, and, and that's something that I've had to really work on as I've grown in my career is saying no to things, you know? And that's so hard to do because like, if you're enthusiastic and you love what you do, you want to be able to do it all. You want to try it all. You want to see what works you want to test. Right. But knowing what to walk away from and having the discipline to focus on the things that have the highest chance of getting results is, is a real talent. And it's something that gets naturally Salena (10:51): No, and look, it tends to be that more visionary role that has all the ideas. We think everybody else thinks like us, but they don't. A lot of people think quite linear. They quite, they need the detail. We're great at coming up with the ideas. We need people to put the detail in place because we just move on to the next shiny thing. But I can't tell you how many marketing campaigns I started. And we actually have a little flow chart that we give to either our clients or our, our students. And it walks you through the steps for putting a promotion in place. Now this could be it's a product promotion, but it doesn't matter what kind of promotion it is. I think there are 102 things on that checklist to do, to, to create a high converting campaign. I can guarantee you most people do about 10. Salena (11:36): And the thing is, if you actually put the time in, and this is why we say you can't run a really good promotion in two weeks, because it takes two weeks of preparation to actually at least two weeks where the preparation to get all those things on that checklist into place. But when you do it, when you actually say, you know what, we're going to do this, and we're not going to half-ass it. We're just going to put the effort in and give it a try 100% all in and see if it works. You do get huge results because you've put all of your energy and you haven't gone. Oh, but actually let's not do that bit instead. We'll go over here and do this thing as well. Oh, I just listened to this podcast with Kathleen. I want to do that. I want to put this welcome sequence thing in place. That focus is really difficult for people who have lots of ideas, which is why we say 90 days. I mean, someone way smarter than me worked out that 90 days was a great sort of chunk that we can work in. Well, I've worked at, and I had this conversation yesterday with a recruitment agent because we're trying to hire some more team members. They said, what's your five-year plan. And I went, I don't have a five-year plan. Kathleen (12:38): Who has a five year plan anymore? Salena (12:40): I know what I want to have achieved within five years, but I can tell you that if we work on the things that we're crap at, I can't even map out 12 months because the things that look like a problem now, aren't going to be a problem in 90 days. We'll have different problems. Kathleen (12:55): I only can work on quarterly plans, too much changes. And it's ridiculous. It's ridiculous to think. You'll know what you can do throughout a whole year when so much of what you should be working on, especially in marketing is dictated by the results you're getting. And so as you get those results, if you're not tearing your plan up and rewriting it, then you're doing something wrong. Salena (13:16): I, I, I agree too. And as I said again, technology, and obviously the environment right now move so quickly, your five-year plan that you did for the last year gone, like everything changed. And so you have to, and this is again why I like working with independent businesses. That being nimble being agile. And we have seen enterprise companies do this through COVID, but the wheels of change are much slower. I can pull out so many examples of independent businesses who just went, let's try it tomorrow. Let's just focused on it. Okay, great. That's our next 90 day thing. Let's do it. And, and seen huge amounts of growth, but also huge, a huge amounts of engagement and customer loyalty because independent brands are happy to kind of put their heart on their sleeve and say, this is why we do what we do. And customers resonate with that. Salena (14:07): And if customers have a choice and we saw this everywhere around the world through COVID, if you have a choice of buying a snack, Nike sneakers from the bricks and mortar store up the road, or from the Nike website in those kinds of challenging times, people opted to go to your local store because they wanted to support local. And so building all of this into your marketing campaign means that, like you said, if you're not tearing it up at the end of 90 days, you have to have a really clear idea of what you want and where you want, you know, what you want to achieve, but how you're going to get there. It's going to change every single, every single 90 days, because the market is going to dictate what you do. You're your clients. If you're a marketing agency are going to dictate what you do and the economy is going to how you react to that. Yeah, Kathleen (14:52): Absolutely. All right. Well, let's nerd out on email now, because we're going to go into this one topic where there's, it was funny when I spoke to you, you know, for anybody listening. When I first spoke to Salena, there were so many different directions. We could go with this conversation because we're both total marketing nerd, but I was like, we got to pick something to focus on. And, and I thought, what was really interesting was your thoughts around specifically a couple of email strategies that are really like, I would classify them as missed opportunities. Things that we as marketers kind of take for granted. And it's like, it's like undeveloped real estate. Right? Totally. So let's, let's dive in. Salena (15:30): I can't believe how many people you say these. I was telling you these things. These are not maybe the third one, but the first two are definitely like slap yourself in the forehead, put a big L on your face and go, why the heck am I not doing this? And, and brands aren't doing it. So the first one is going to be your welcome email now, hilariously. And I'm sure this is not the people listening to you, but hilariously 66% of people don't have an immediate welcome email that goes out. When someone signs up to your email list, customers expect that to be immediate. They expect that if they signed up, they'll go to their inbox and that thing will be there. Now your welcome email is the second highest email that gets opened. So your second highest open rate, but the order rate on a welcome email is actually the highest, but how many people actually sell on that welcome email? Kathleen (16:28): So, so the welcome email is the thing that somebody gets when they first give you their email address, correct? Yes. Yes. And we're talking about e-commerce, but like, honestly, this is a great example of one of those things where like, there's no reason we should even classify it as just an e-commerce strategy, because any business where you're getting somebody's email for the first time, it's about like, it's about what does that onboarding experience look like? Salena (16:52): Yes. And most people will because I'm quite lucky, I guess, because I get to straddle both lines because we've worked with e-commerce brands, but we are B2B. So how we implement this strategy is how you guys could implement that strategy in e-commerce and retail nine times out of 10, that email is going to be the, Hey here's your 10% off coupon. None of the brands that I work with have 10% off coupons. Just to just a fun fact, an extra fun fact, the tipping point for making somebody buy versus they're just taking the profit out of your pocket is 30, 30 to 35%. So to get somebody over the fence that was thinking, should I buy this? Or shouldn't I buy this? Like, do I really need it? The discount is 30%. Anything less than that, they were already going to buy. If they go ahead and buy it, they were already going to buy. Salena (17:44): So you are literally just losing profit. Interesting that we're already going to so 30 to 35%, but on that welcome email, two things tend to happen. You either send them an email, telling a little bit about yourself and say, shop now, or you deliver the thing that you said, whether it's the coupon code, whether it's the ebook, whether it's a lead page and you probably some that say something like that, book a call if you're a B2B company. Yeah. But they have already taken that step. And this is a, this is a psychological thing as well. If they've already taken that step to give you their email, it's kind of like handing over money. They know that there's, they know they're getting something in return. It's a very low risk transaction. So why not then give them the next low risk transaction. Maybe this is where you put your trip wire in. Salena (18:31): It's your $7 product, you $19 product, your $27 product. Smart people do this in their email funnels like smart marketers will do this and have at least two upsells on the post. But like, you'd get the download. And then there'll be, Hey, get our 17 email templates here for $17. So if you're not doing that kind of funnel on the opt-in pages, why aren't you doing it in the email sequence? Because somebody is just giving you their email. They were excited about the thing that you said you were going to give them. So they're in their inbox waiting for that email to come. They get it. What is the next step? Now? Booker call has no instant gratification. People are not doing that. Most people are not doing that. So why not get them ingrained into your business? Why not get them, give them the taste of what it's like to work with you by giving them the next step. Salena (19:22): Now that next step has to be relevant. If you've said download our ebook and that ebook is three email things that you're not leveraging, go and give them some templates. Let them buy the templates for a really low risk price. Because then you're kind of putting your money where your mouth is. You're saying, you know what? This is the kind of stuff we deliver for $17. Imagine what we're going to deliver. If we buy a $30,000 package from us for a year, like if we're giving this for you for $17 and we're blowing your socks off, imagine what it's going to be like working with us. But I really think, I think that if you give people that, that taste of what it's like to hang out with you and that tastes okay, you've already bought right in inverted commerce. When you gave me your email address, here is the next step. Salena (20:09): It's already pushing them up the conversion path. Like once somebody spent $17, they're highly motivated to spend more. They're highly lot more likely to book a call with you after they've spent $17. And so putting something to buy on that welcome email is my second least leveraged place in the email funnel. It's not the first it's the second, but the stats show that people buy the highest buy rate is on the email, on the welcome email. So if you're not selling on there, clearly your competitors are, some of your competitors are, and they're their interest away from you. Kathleen (20:49): All right. So welcome emails. And it works for e-commerce, whether you're presenting products that somebody could sell and it, or it works for B2B where you might have some low, you know, low entry point into your business, whether that's a course or a paid event, or what have you a membership. Salena (21:09): Yep. Yep. Okay. And you can keep selling to them further down the line. But the whole point is to see if you can get somebody to press, I was gonna say, get out their wallet, get out their credit card from their wallet. But these days, no one does that. We just press like Google pay or Apple pay and do it on the screen. You can get somebody to make that click with the payment details. The chances are that they'll buy something higher from you skyrockets from there. So Kathleen (21:32): I would say in B2B, even if you don't have something small to sell, like if you, if you only sell things that are very expensive, I do think that like having an offer, even if it's not a paid offer, like a next step offer in that welcome email is really important because it's about getting somebody to say yes, another time it's the same price, right? Salena (21:51): Yeah. It is the reason I like it to be a paid offer. And it doesn't, I don't give it a dollar is because it is training people to purchase from you. So most, most of our things are more than $1,500, but we have some workbooks that are part of a course. And so we'll sell a workbook for $35 in our welcome, in our welcome sequence. Every person who's ever bought that welcome book has gone on to buy something else. So it's just that low value. So, so my question was, what could you develop? Like what could you speak if you spent one, if one person in your business spent one day developing and you could just reuse something, if it's an email template, go to a client that you've built an awesome email template, take it out, take out any incriminating words, swap them out and it's ready to go. Kathleen (22:43): Yeah. Templates are great for that because I feel like even some of the templates that you use yourself, we often undervalue how useful they are to other people. Salena (22:51): Yes. Yeah. Swipe copy is great. Even examples. I've purchased Facebook ad examples in the past to be able to give to clients and my team and say, look, here's an example of what works and what doesn't. So just repurpose what you're already doing. What are you already good at? Package it up into something small, but that will knock their socks off and just put a low value price on it. Yep. Kathleen (23:17): Agreed. All right. So there's tip number one. Salena (23:20): Tip number two is my, is my highest converting, but it's not my favorite. It's my second favorite. Ah, it's in the middle. Okay. So I'll get you the stats on this one, the email that has the second highest open rate. I'm sorry. The email that has the highest open rate because the welcome email was the second highest is can you guess, Kathleen, what do you think is the email every person opens for e-commerce? Kathleen (23:46): I mean, I would think it was your purchase confirmation. Salena (23:52): It's your purchase confirmation email. Yep. How many people sell on that email? Kathleen (23:59): I'm guessing not very many. I'm guessing Salena (24:01): Less than 1%. So order confirmation email has your highest open rate. It has your highest click through rate, which is actually quite astounding because you already know what you want. I tested this out on myself. I bought some stuff from a, a woman's fashion online store and I waited for the order confirmation email. And I knew I was coming on the podcast and I knew I had this stat. And I was like, what is my knowing this as a marketer? What is my behavior when that email comes in? And it was an email that had a picture of all of the things that I had bought and sure enough, I've re clicked on one of those pictures. I was like, but you just bought it. You literally just went through the cart, you know exactly what you bought. Why did you click it? Salena (24:50): It's clearly a human nature thing. So it is the highest open rate. And it is the highest click-through rate, but nobody leverages it less than 1% of people leverage it. Wow, it's weird. Right. And in this day and age, we have technology that allows us to get people to add back to cart within a certain time period, without having to re enter their credit card details. It's generally about 15 minutes. So there's a couple of things that we can do. The first one is sell on that email. Like honestly, there's studies that show that your endorphins are at their highest seconds after you've clicked buy now and got that order confirmation on the screen. You're excited. Why don't people leverage it now in e-commerce some people will leverage it with what we call post-purchase upsells. So you get all the way through the cart and then it will say, Hey did you want to also add this? The take up rate on those is between 10 and 30%, which is huge. In my opinion, imagine being able to get extra money, the average order value sits between 30 and $50. So imagine if 10% more of your customers added an extra $30. Yeah. Kathleen (26:07): Because like the average website conversion rate, just even like visit, I think it's it's like one to 3%. I want to say one to 3%. It's super low. And so if you have a chance to have like a 10 to 30% conversion, that's enormous. That's basically 10 times. 10Xing your results. Salena (26:26): Why wouldn't you do it? There's a few other ways you can leverage this as well. So if you don't want to put that in place for whatever reason, using the order confirmation email, whether you sell back on there and it could be something as simple as, Hey, did you forget something? And you could put the stuff that was in their wishlist, or, Hey, have you got buyer's remorse? Did you really want to add that thing? If you go back in the next 15 minutes, put a countdown timer in, then you can grab that with a simple click. The other option is getting them to go back to the website in whatever way, shape or form, and having a pop-up that comes up that says, Hey, you were just here. Did you know if you add to cart in the next 12 minutes, you can just do it with one click. Salena (27:07): But the stats show that 10 to 30% of people are going to add more stuff. And it is the highest click, highest opened and highest click through rate of all the emails. So why don't we leverage it? Why are less than 1% of people leveraging it? Like it seems to me that this is just the missed opportunity. It's the one that's kind of the, the one I geek out on because you can get such great results. And even this is sort of another way where we've just that example. We were just talking about where, when somebody, if it's B2B, when somebody takes your opt in that you're able to, or whatever, with your welcome email we can put the offer the offer in there. But imagine if you did this twice, imagine if you worked out your customer journey and you had that offer on the order confirmation, and that goes first, because you can time all this stuff. Salena (28:02): And then you have another offer on the welcome now, or you do it vice versa. However you want to do it. But again, now we have two more opportunities for you to say to your clients, you know, what, what for you? Awesome. And here's some really good free stuff, but actually the really, really good stuff is what you need to pay for. So you're training your customers to buy the good stuff and that everything is not free because you don't want this giant list of free pool. That's what we call them. You don't want people who just are in there for all the free stuff. I mean, you have a podcast. If they want free stuff, go and listen to them. Kathleen (28:38): Right. I always call them the DIYers, you know, like there's going to be a lot of them. And yeah. And that's why it was funny. I just posted something earlier today to LinkedIn talking about why I feel like companies should ungate their content, because I'm like, if you ungate it, then you don't clutter your database with all the DIY wires. But the really good people, the good leads will read your content and then they will still want to convert. And so it's, it's funny, like there's, there is that whole phenomenon of people who are never gonna become good customers for you who take up real estate in your marketing. Salena (29:12): Yeah. And you'd have to pay for them at the end of the day, you're paying for them in your email subscriptions, but you're also paying for them because if they're not opening the emails where you sell, you get reduced deliverability. If they're not opening, you get your overall, they're going to reduce your click through rate. And of course you can segment them out in all different ways and shapes and forms. But do you really want to be servicing customers who will never buy from you? Like really? Is it worth your time and energy? Why not just reduce it by a third, reduce it by half and actually have the people who really love what you're selling and what you're saying and just service them because the other people would be like, yeah. You know? Yeah. Oh, that was good. That was good. But with no skin in the game, they quite often don't get the results. Kathleen (29:58): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. All right. I love that. And it also reminds me a little bit, if we go outside of email again, back to like non e-commerce examples, thank you, pages. Right? Somebody converts on an offer and then they go to a thank you page. And usually people are just like, thanks for asking for this. Here's your link to download it. But very few people then go that next step to like, have another offer on the thank you page. So you've gotten yes. Once. How can you get another? Yes. How can you get somebody to buy from you? And I'd love your point about training them to purchase. Salena (30:26): Yep. And just book a call. I know it's the easy call to action, but realistically, the person hasn't even downloaded the thing that you've sent out. Kathleen (30:38): That's right. It going straight from meeting somebody to asking them to marry you. Salena (30:42): Yeah. Yeah. They have no idea what it's like to work with you. So, I mean, if you're getting a high click-through, if you're getting a high booking rate of something like that, I expect that they would be very low value customers because they have no idea who you are at that point. They literally haven't even opened the thing that you've sent them. So why would they book a call? Like, it just doesn't make sense. It's like asking somebody to review a product before they've even seen a picture of it. Kathleen (31:10): Yep. Agreed. All right. Now I know you've saved your favorite for last. Hmm. Salena (31:15): This came about from a client who was a premium brand and didn't want to put anything on sale. They didn't want to sale section on their website because they didn't want to lower the value of the brand. So we were looking at different ways that we could get rid of excess product because in retail, you have to get rid of excess product. You know, it shouldn't be on your, it shouldn't be in your store for more than 90 days. So we had to work out a way to do it. And one of the things we came up with was segmenting out a section of the database who always bought the lowest valued products. And then we created a secret sale section on the website. So the average person, it wasn't in the navigation. You had to have the link to get to it. Salena (31:57): And we sent out an email saying it was a surprise sale and they were a VIP and they would get access to it. And then I think we sold 70% of the stock in a weekend. Now, the reason for that is one. If you know that you always buy the lowest value products and someone tells you that you're a VIP and you talk to your friend and they didn't get the email, you feel pretty special. And I think a lot of this has to work. You have to work a lot of this on the copy as well, and really work to those. We call them the currency of the customer. So they're very aspirational. Those customers, you should never, ever overlook sale customers. And it's really easy to do that because we have, we call them customer loyalty, your top 4%, they're going to give you a lot of money. Salena (32:43): But the people who shop in the sale section are highly aspirational. They love what you sell. And they're looking for any excuse to buy it. But cost is a factor to them. And so one of the, well, one of the, one of the first after the first few, the obvious emails, the next segment that we always create in our customer's databases, when we, when we set up all their segments for them is the sale section. So people who have shopped in the sale section, we do it more than two times. You can work it out yourself and then they go into their own segment and they get sneak, peeks into the sales section. So they might be notified the day before stuff drops, or they might be notified of extra things because your VIP customers, there's someone who's spending $1,500 on a jacket. Doesn't want to know that that jacket is now 700. Yeah. Kathleen (33:35): Yeah. That's so true. That purchase regret. Buyer's remorse. I think whatever it's. Salena (33:43): Not only that, they're not interested in the sale section. You're people who generally buy from the new end collection, the ones who want to be, you know, they want to have it first. They want to be able to be the ones who seen with the latest thing. They don't care about what was in fashion six months ago. And so they don't even want to see that you are literally just cluttering up their inbox by showing them stuff. That's in the sale section. So having this segment, and this is not an one email, it's a segment having this segment of people who regularly purchase in the sale section allows you to move stock really, really quickly. It allows you to nurture those customers because quite often, those customers do go on to be better customers as, as their income goes up. But it also creates what we call boomerangs and drum beaters. So boomerangs are those customers that come back again and again and again, and drum beaters are the people who will tell everyone about you now, drumbeat, beta customers. Aren't always your best customers. In fact, quite often than not your best customers. They're those highly aspirational customers who, who love hanging out with you. And they will tell everybody how fantastic you are. They won't tell you necessarily that they got this thing in the sale section, that they would say how much they love your product. And they love you. Yeah. Kathleen (34:53): I would venture to guess they will make efforts to hide the fact that they shop in the sale section. I think sometimes, sometimes you have to, I'm one of those people who are, yes, there are people who are like, I just got the best bargain, but I think there are also a lot of people who want to be perceived as though they've paid full price. Salena (35:10): Yes. So why not let them, I mean, moving sales stock is such a, like, it's such an important part of your inventory management and constantly having other sales section in your store or sales section on your website. I mean, it has to be there, although we've proved you don't have to have it there. You can just stick it in a sneaky place, but having that place for those customers who love what you sell, and we'll tell everyone about you and, and you're able to fulfill their need on that level. And I mean, some luxury brands will do this by having like a department store brand like an offshoot. That's a department store brand. They have their luxury brand and then they'll have their department store sister brand, but not everybody is in a position to do that. So I'm just trying to think, how could we do this as B2B marketers rather than e-commerce Kathleen (36:00): I was thinking about this. And I think, I think the fundamental takeaway is about segmenting your database based on how much customers are spending from you and with you rather, and understanding like how to market differently to them based on how you want your brand to perceive, to be perceived. And so I don't know that there's like an exact parallel to like sending them to the sales section. But I do think it's about like, not marketing everything to everybody and, and totally in some things it's, it can be counterintuitive. Cause like on one hand you might think I should let my best customers know about my sale as a reward, but I really like your point that like, they don't necessarily want to have a sale and, and, and alerting them to a sale actually could do more harm than good in some way. Salena (36:49): Yeah. And I think that's totally about you understanding your customer journey and, and taking the time to, I mean, we do this in our own email database, we will pick a, pick a person and go, what have they clicked on? What did they read? Especially once somebody buys from us, we love to know what the part, like, how long did it take from when they hit that email database. And we'll just randomly pick, you know, once a month we might pick two or three people and go, what was their customer journey? What's that interaction like? And so just spending an hour a month, picking out 10 customers at random and saying, what did they, what did they click on? What is this person interested in? And then what did the next person, Oh, actually these, both these people clicked on this piece of content or both of these people clicked on it. Salena (37:33): Maybe that's something we need to look at is that a segment of Emma, how many more people clicked on that. And so understanding that customer journey, it doesn't matter what business you're in and then personalizing the messages. So we say the right offer to the right person at the right time. So the offer that you give someone on the order confirmation page, or once they've done, the thank you on the download has to be entirely different to the offer that you give to someone who's just spent $20,000 to put you on an email marketing retainer, right? They don't need the same thing. They already know who you are. They already think you're wonderful. So we, my suggestion in, in e-commerce is you send out at least three emails a week, but those three emails, not everybody gets it all comes down to segmentation. So you might have this week, you're sending an email to your VIP list to your sale list and then a general newsletter next week, it might be to people who've purchased a certain type of product. And so really shelling out that maximum engagement. But in this day and age, people expect the content that they're getting in their email to be personalized. Like if you have different services and I've shown no interest whatsoever in one of them, don't keep sending me 27 emails about it. Like I clearly do not want that thing that you have. So the more you send me the stuff I don't want, the more likely I am to unsubscribe or to just get quite annoyed and just not even open your emails. Okay. Kathleen (38:55): So you could get marked as spam. They could unsubscribe all of it's going to hurt your deliverability big time. Salena (38:59): Yeah. Yeah. And so having that, taking that time to personalize the journey and to map out the customer journey, but also taking the time in house. And that's why I said, my caveat came with, don't do this unless you got to do it properly. If you know that you haven't mapped out that customer journey, or you're just sending one email to all your clients, I would rather you spend the time to look at the journey, segment those people out and then come back and implement this stuff rather than just saying, Oh, that sounded like a great thing. Let's add an offer to the welcome email, because do what, what does that offer need to be? How does it, you have to take the time to look at where you want the customer to go after that offer? Kathleen (39:40): Absolutely so many good tips. And I love how we kind of like drew that connection to non e-commerce because I think these lessons are very universal. You know, and it could be B2C, B2B, B2G. Like there's so many different ways to, to like apply these across sectors. So we're going to shift gears now because we've covered our three email strategies. And now I want to go into the two questions that I always ask my guests. And I'm curious what you have to say. Okay. So the first one is, of course this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or individual that you would point to who you think is really setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer? Salena (40:24): HubSpot? Words, words can't even describe. I can give you a gazillion e-commerce examples, but every time I download a HubSpot thing, or every time I go to a search and it's HubSpot, I know I'm not going to walk away disappointed either. There's going to be, I mean, you talk about engaging content. I'm pretty sure they've, ungated everything like, sometimes you have to put your download in to get the worksheet or spreadsheet or whatever, but they give away so much amazing content that I know. If I ever click on that link, I will not walk away unhappy. Kathleen (41:02): That's. I mean, they are, they're the ones who pretty much invented it. So that makes sense. All right. I'm going to challenge you though. I want you to give me one example for me, in ecommerce. Salena (41:10): Oh, one example from ecom. So many I love. Adore Beauty. There are a company here in Australia and they, everything is on point. Everything they test and measure. I'm going to, can I give you two? Yes. Okay. So I love the fact that they test and measure everything. So whatever you see today could be completely different to next week. And they, they even got, did. They do beauty products and they have a standard. So they're a reseller. They don't sell their own products and they're a reseller, but they worked out that this is the kind of testing and measuring. They did that, even though a lot of their main demographic is women over 40. When they started using models in the picture of women over 40, their sales went down, were all aspirational. No one was. No 40 year old lady wants to look a. Salena (41:58): Apparently no 40 year old lady wants to look at a 40 year old lady. Depressing. It is very depressing. And, but they were trying to, you know, women's empowerment, all the thing. They were trying to meet the market where they thought the market was at. But the fact was when it came down to dollars, the market wasn't there. So adore beauty would be we use those in, in our test, examples everywhere, but, and you're probably gonna laugh at this next one. The one, the next one that I would talk about would be Vista Print. Salena (42:29): If anyone has been to Vista Print, you're like, Oh my God, how could she say that? I can, I can say that because they spend more than $40 million a year on research and development of marketing. I can say that because putting that horrifying upsell in place, turned them from a company that was losing money to a company that made money over literally overnight, the next morning they had made money. They, when they put the upsell in place, I clearly, I love upsells when I go, I'm terrible. When I go to shops and I get sold, I'm like, I don't need that thing, but kudos to whoever trained you like that, that was good. When they put that in place, they were hoping for a 2% uptake and they ended, and they had a bet. They had like a piece of paper on the staffroom wall and people had to put how many, what the percentage was. Salena (43:21): And it was 23%, took the upsell. Wow. I mean, I love making people money, but that's my prime goal is pretty much making people money and, and growing their businesses. And so when you can do that overnight and then go on to now, they're the, they're the biggest printing company in the world. And they spend more than 40 million or 40, $40 million a year in research and development. So I love just, this is, this is how much we are marketing nerds. I go through people's shopping carts just to see what happens. I'm so sorry to all those people where I go through your shopping carts and I don't buy anything, but I will go through their shopping cart just yeah. On random. When I feel like procrastinating to see what they're doing, because they work in six week, roll-outs everything has to be in development. So they're like the exception to that enterprise rule. Salena (44:12): We were talking about everything runs in six week rollouts. So they have an implement, you know, design, brainstorm, phase design, phase implementation, phase testing phase. And then at the end of that six weeks, it either stays or it goes, and it moves on to the next thing. I know. How awesome would it, I mean, I was like, if I was still doing implementation, how exciting would it be to be part of that team? Like six weeks, six weeks. So I always say, look to someone who is bigger than you. It doesn't matter how much bigger always look at what they're doing and work out what you love as a customer, and then what you do. Yeah. Kathleen (44:46): Love as a customer. Yeah. It is about like experiencing it as taking your marketing hat off and being a human being. Salena (44:54): Yeah. And then just leveraging the leveraging, both leverage and not copying at all. I don't think you should have a copy, but going, Oh, we, we've never tried that. How could we implement that in our business? Or that was really disappointing. So why don't we make sure we add that in to our customer experience? So that's my big, so I gave you two there, but my big tip is, is going through it with your marketers hat on, but then also going through with your customer hat out and going, what can we leverage? What can we take away? Because people who are bigger than you are spending way more money to see if this stuff works. Kathleen (45:26): Yeah. That makes sense. All right. I love those tips. My next question is the thing I hear most about as a challenge from marketers that I speak to is just keeping pace with all the change that's happening in the world of digital marketing. So how do you stay up to date and keep yourself educated? Salena (45:42): I love going to conferences. I, I just love the energy and I know that that's been really, really difficult. I went to my first conference just before Easter and it was supposed to be a three-day conference. I was actually speaking on day three and we got shut down due to COVID on day two. But being around those people reminded me of how much energy I get from being around other nerds. And it was hilarious because my husband messaged me and just said, you know, how was the, how was the day? And I was at the after party. And he goes, how's the after-party going? I said, Oh my God, it is amazing. We are drinking margaritas. And I'm on this team of people who have to pitch this made up product, which was French fry, smelling room spray. And so he said to me, I've no idea what you're talking about. Salena (46:31): Seems like you're having fun. Enjoy that's how much marketing it in the after party where marketing like that's how much it is we are, but it was just lovely to hang out with those people. So staying, I always think that it is my job in my business. It is that's. My job is staying abreast with what is happening in the market. What's happening in the industry, what's happening with technology. And then I filter it out and say to people, this is what you should be implementing. And the only way that you can do that, I love hanging out on LinkedIn because obviously you see lots of information there, but it's just people. Yeah. Like, hello, like this is, this is even more hilarious. My daughter's friend's parents invited us over for dinner the other night. And he works in the tech industry and he said, Oh, I hope I'm allowed to say this. Salena (47:18): They're working on this product where it integrates with the banks, I guess. I'm not sure. I'm not sure. Anyway, you know, when you buy something from from a, and you're like, it says X, Y, Z proprietary limited, and you don't know, you can do a charge back cause you have no idea with their app, with their code software, whatever it is, it will actually show you the individual products that you bought. It will be like an order confirmation. How amazing is that? The chances of me ever knowing anything about that. So having a glass of wine over dinner, and I was like, I had people I could introduce you to. So people, 100%, it is just hanging out with people preferably in real life, but Kathleen (48:06): It's been a tough year for that. Salena (48:09): It really has, and I've really felt it, but there are so many online virtual summits that we and networking and all that kind of stuff. We have. There's a Shopify meetup that went online and I was thinking, Oh, I won't go to that. But actually I was like, maybe I do need to go to that for that exact reason. It's like, I haven't hung out with real people. So what's the one thing that you can do that. I mean, you need to choose how you get your information. Not everybody likes hanging out with people, but if that is the way you do it, don't keep fobbing off all these virtual events. If you can't see people in real life, just say, all right, I'm going to go for an hour. Like, I'm going to jump into that thing, the networking thing for an hour, or I'm going to jump into that discussion for an hour. So I could just feel like I'm keeping up with the industry. Yeah. Kathleen (48:53): That's great. That's great advice. And I found a lot of value out of groups like that similarly in the past year. Yeah. So, all right, well, we are, we're at the top of our hour. And so my last question for you is how can people find you online? I'm sure people are going to have questions about this, or want to see some of your other tips. What's the best way for them to do that. Salena (49:11): Okay. If you want to hang out with me and talk about marketing nerd stuff, head over to the bringing business to retail podcast, it is retail and e-commerce related. But like we said, I listened to lots of podcasts that aren't in my industry and I always walk away with something. Generally in social media, hanging out on LinkedIn, I kind of got a bit of social media, Instagram, Facebook burnout. So I tend to hang out on LinkedIn. Kathleen (49:33): Right there with you, by the way, right there with you. Yes. Salena (49:36): If you go to my Instagram page, you'll maybe see something once, twice a week. Yeah. You know? But on LinkedIn, I feel like that's where my people are hanging in. I can, I can read stuff that I find interesting. And then if you just want to read about me or look at what we do as a marketing agency, we're over at SalenaKnight.com. Kathleen (49:52): All right. Well, you heard it there. I will put those links in the show notes. If you want to find Salena online, head over there, and you'll be able to connect with her on LinkedIn and find her websites. And if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave us a review, that's how other folks find us. And finally, if you know someone else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, please tweet me at @workmommywork. Yup. That's my Twitter handle. That's all another story. And let me know about them because they could be our next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much, Salena. This was a ton of fun. Salena (50:27): Thank you for geeking out with me at what is 7:00 AM at my time, right? Way to start the day. Kathleen (50:33): Yes. All right. Have a great week.


    Ep. 196: 8 frameworks for content creation Ft. Greg Digneo

    Play Episode Listen Later May 24, 2021 49:41


    What's the formula that Content Guppy founder Greg Digneo has used to massively increase organic website traffic for companies like Time Doctor? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Content Guppy founder Greg Digneo explains how he went from creating blogs that saw short term traffic increases but no meaningful long term impact, to seeing significant and sustained increases in organic traffic. His big results were the product of a content creation formula based on 8 specific blog post frameworks. In this interview, he breaks down each of the 8 frameworks in a way that is immediately actionable.   Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to learn how you can apply Greg's frameworks to your own content strategy. Resources from this episode: Check out the Content Guppy website Connect with Greg on LinkedIn Follow Greg on Twitter Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth today. My guest is Greg Digneo, who is the founder of Content Guppy. Welcome to the podcast. Greg (00:20): So glad to be here. Thank you so much for having me. Kathleen (00:23): Yeah. We're going to talk about content creation today, but before we do that, can you tell my listeners a little bit about yourself, your story and what Content Guppy is? Greg (00:33): Sure. So content, well, I'll start with my story. This is actually my third company. First one, when I started in college, it was a solar panel company. Second one was a failed marketing agency, which is a story all unto itself. And then finally after a few year hiatus of entrepreneurship, I am I've launched Content Guppy, which is a SEO content agency where our goal is to help people and companies turn their content marketing or their blog into their biggest lead gen channel. Kathleen (01:11): I love it. And who does not want that? And that's pretty much what we're going to talk about today, which is how you create content that drives, you know, massive increases in traffic and lead gen, et cetera. So one of the things I thought was interesting, cause we talk about content a lot on this podcast. And so whenever I talk to prospective guests, I'm always like, we can't just talk about content, you know, in general, right. It has to right. People who listen to this tend to be pretty savvy, especially about that topic. And so you have a specific framework you use for content creation. And that really intrigued me because I think we all know we should be creating content. But it's more intimidating than it might seem on the surface, at least in my opinion, you know, like do people go to sit down and write and it's like, what should I talk about? What should I write about how should I structure it? And so I would love to talk about this. Can you share, share how you think about content creation and your Greg (02:10): Okay, so I actually don't think about content, first of all, I don't think about content creation in terms of how much traffic this is going to drive. I think about it in terms of how much, how many leads or sales or whatever your metric is. Excuse me, I'm so sorry. Kathleen (02:30): Yeah. Greg (02:31): I, I have bad allergies. So so I think about content in terms of how many leads or email subscribers or signups, whatever your, your key metric is to move somebody down the funnel and to to become a, an eventual customer. So, and I'll give you a quick, for instance, like just on my very own personal blog, I have a a thing called blog names. It's like something like 10 ways to a creative blog name or something like that. And, and then I have another, and then that gets about 2,500 searches per month. So it has the potential to drive like five to 10,000 visitors a month. I also have another site another post on there, like called B2B content marketing agencies, right. That gets 200 searches a month. Maybe the, the, the 200 searches a month, way more valuable to me as a person who's running a B2B content marketing agency or a content marketing agency than the blog view that's going to get five to 10,000 visitors a month. So think about the way I think about traffic is how valuable is it going to be for me? I'd rather have less traffic that's actually relevant than more traffic than has no relevance at all. Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. So I will write posts that get a hundred visitors a month, all day long, one, they're usually easier to rank and two, they are especially if they're relevant traffic, man. It's just, you're just going to convert every day, all day, every day. So definitely. Kathleen (04:05): Interesting. You say that because I'll share an experience I've had you know, I've, I've been head of marketing at a couple of different companies and I, and I always call myself like a content first marketer. I really believe in content. Yeah. And so that's one of the first things I always do when I go anywhere, which is like, what's the content we're going to create and how can we do a lot of it? Right. Right. So the last company that I was at was in cybersecurity and they made a very like niche product. And it was interesting because when most people teach you how to do a content strategy, they talk about finding keywords that have certain search volume. Right? Yep. And that aren't super competitive. Hopefully like that's the Holy grail high search volume, low competitive. Well, when we looked at our product, we realized that we, that qualified leads are searching this very, very, very, very specific term. Kathleen (04:59): And when you go to do your research on it, there's basically like no traffic that shows up in Google. I mean, people are searching for it, but not enough that Google even picks up on the numbers. And we decided to go after it because we were like, nobody's targeting this. Right. The in fact, I think the only, the only result for it was like Wikipedia. And so we optimized for this particular search phrase. We were, we did a pillar content topic, cluster strategy, which people listening, probably know what that is. We immediately owned all of the search results for it. I think we even beat Wikipedia. We beat that one of the U S government results for it. And it was because nobody else was going after it. Right. But literally every single person who searches that term is an amazing lead for that company. And it's funny because it did like really produce business for them, but it flew in the face of the logic that everybody teaches you and they teach you how to do content strategy. So I love that you talked about like a hundred is better than a thousand all day long if it's the right topic. Greg (06:04): So there's actually, so most people teach two two key ingredients to that. The two things you were talking about, keyword difficulty and search volume, right. More searches, less flow. But the one that we actually found that we, when we score content in terms of our prioritization, we actually factor in a third term and we call it business relevance. So how relevant is this to your business? And then on a, you know, on a scale of like one to 10 and 10 being the highest score, obviously. And so that if you actually factor in that third ingredient and you're gonna, you're gonna see just such a change in the prioritization where you're going to downplay the difficulty and the search volume and see, okay. Like, okay, this, this is really important for us. We should go after it. Kathleen (06:52): And so is business relevance, essentially a proxy for search intent, meaning like this shows hot or purchase intent rather, I would say like high possibility for purchase intent. Greg (07:05): Not necessarily. So because there are some instances where you're gonna like, so some people are like, the buyer intent is, is usually a a metric that people get from like how much are people spending on this? And sometimes that's not always a good indicator of, of is this relevant to my business. And I'll give you another example. I'm sorry. At a, at a company that I worked with, it's called Time Doctor. And we built one of the features inside of the app was time sheet, time sheets software. Okay. So what we did was we said, we're going to create a, a, a a blog post with a template called free time sheets free time sheet templates. It gets a lot of traffic, but if you were to look at free time sheet templates at the time that we were doing it, I don't know what it is now. Greg (08:00): The cost per click for that was very low, because nobody wants a free, like, people are selling free time sheet templates, right. Nobody wants to buy that traffic. But what happens is, is when people go to that page they get the free time sheet template, and then they say, I don't want to do this manually anymore. Let me try, let me buy the software. Right. So that business relevance was very high, even though the cost per click, which would have been the buyer intent that which is kind of what's synonymous with buyer intent was pretty low. Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah. So it's not always, it's, it is a good indicator at a lot of instances, but it, you know, you have to look at like, it's more internal to you than external to what Google is saying. So is there a direct relationship between this post and then leading somebody down your funnel versus, you know, just that traffic makes sense. Kathleen (08:57): All right. So let's talk about your frameworks. Greg (09:00): Okay. So we can talk about all of them or a couple of them. It doesn't matter. So we'll see what we can talk about. Kathleen (09:06): All of them. Greg (09:09): Let's do it. Kathleen (09:10): Let's not leave anything off the list. Greg (09:12): Yeah, absolutely. Then let's do that. So first one I have is a tools posts, and I'm going to explain why I like each of these frameworks when I go through them. So a tools post is literally a list of tools that you are that you are, that your customers use that your ideal customer uses. So the thing I love about this framework is there's three things, actually, one there it's really easy to promote. Two, it actually gets to your ideal buyer to your site. And three, it generally drives leads, right? And so what do I mean by your ideal buyer? Let me just it's people who have money and need your product and service. So for instance, if you're like an if you're in the content marketing, if our content marketing agency like myself, you know, even though I don't sell a tool, like, you know, I want to do blogging tools or content, marketing tools, SEO tools, things like that, right. Greg (10:11): Because those are people who need my service, right? If you're in, let's say productivity software, then you could do things like best online collaboration tools, right? Best tools for productivity, obviously things along those lines and get people to your to your site. Now, the beauty of this kind of a post is that if you have a huge list of tools like this, you have a huge list of people who within incentive to promote it for you. So what you could do is literally go and find the social media manager or the, or the email marketer, whoever of each of those tools, shoot them an email and say, Hey, I've written about your tool here, or even better. Hey, would you like to add your tool here to this huge list that I have? And then if they say, yes, they're going to promote it for you. Right. So you can get an instant surge of traffic, you know, straight away. Kathleen (11:09): I like that. And so, and it sounds like that type of post it's equally as important, how you write the post as how you then like, do outreach and promotion for it. Greg (11:21): Correct. So you want to, so you're going to structure it in a list post and as a list, but it's not going to be like you know, let's say we're doing like email marketing software, right. I'm not going to just say, you know, MailChimp and then get response and so on and so forth, but it's going to be, you know, a couple hundred words per you want to list the features, the benefits, why somebody is going to want to use that tool, you know, who it's made for that kind of thing. Even throw in some pricing in there as well. And then what I always love to do is put in some customer testimonials and things like that from the from the the website or something like that, throw them in there as well. And each post in each little blurb is probably about 300 or so words long, and it makes people want to share it. And that's kinda like the idea, right? Like why would somebody want to share this? It's because you're talking, you're, you're making a really great post about them. And you're kind of really talking to them up Kathleen (12:26): A question for you. So you're obviously highlighting other tools in these posts, which makes complete sense. How do you build in a way to, to drive people down funnel towards your product? So is it placing CTAs in the post? Greg (12:43): CTAs. And we could get more into that in a couple other posts as well, but yeah, you're going to put a CTA. We'll have pop-ups and things like that throughout the, throughout the the blog and stuff. And, you know, so we will do that. Depending on your strategy, are you driving people to a guide or are you driving them straight to a trial or are you driving them to a phone call? You know, you're going to want to put a, some sort of inline popup or a sorry, line, a CTA or a pop-up or something along those lines. Yeah. Kathleen (13:12): All right. That's framework number one, let's go to framework number two. Greg (13:16): So best product like category type of post. Nobody writes this. So what happens is, is your, your homepage is usually optimized for your for, for your product category or your service category, right? So your homepage, a lot of times companies will be like, whatever it is, you know, world's best productivity software or something on like that content marketing agency whatever it is. But if you write a blog post around your product category, so something like 21 best productivity apps or 21 best employee monitoring apps, whatever it is you're going to be, it's easier to rank those posts than it is to rank your homepage in a, in Google, especially if you're just getting started. And you're not like the big player in the space. So what you would do here is you would literally list you and your competitors. Greg (14:18): And don't worry about this because you're going to put yours first, and nobody's going to read past the first two. Anyway, we've put all kinds of like apps on to monitor how far people read down, nobody reads past the first two or three, and if they do, then God bless those people, but you put yours first put, make yours like really comprehensive, like your, you know, sell your, sell your app, your business, your whatever it is. And that as your first thing, you know, put a call in inline, call to action, try us out or whatever you want to do. And you could rank for, and you could create a ton of these types of posts around because most people are fit in the multiple categories. So you can create a ton of these types of posts, right? So, so you know, if you're an accounting software, best small business, accounting software, best P&L software, you know what I mean? All these kinds of best enterprise accounting software find all of these keywords around the accounting software, because everybody fits in the multiple categories and you can start build literally building tens of pages around these types of category posts of like really low hanging fruit content. Kathleen (15:31): Now I've seen the same thing that, that, that those best keywords really get a lot of search volume, but I will say I am very skeptical of one thing you said, and I want to, I want to debate that a little bit, which is that, which is that you should rank yourself first, because I feel like people reading that will see right through it, because they see it on your site. They see you listing yourself first, and then they like don't trust it. So the way I've always, I've always approached it is you have like an opening call. It set of paragraphs where you say, as a leading provider of like call it small business accounting software, you know we get approached a lot by people asking who are the other players in the space or something. And like, so then you list maybe the top 10, you're not in the list, but you're starting out by kind of establishing yourself as a leader. That's how I've always approached it. I'm curious. I'm curious though, like how you've seen it work because I, we, I don't usually swear on this podcast, but I'm going to say, I think a lot of people would call if you list yourself first, Greg (16:34): I'm sure they do, but I have no doubt that they do. But I also think that while I also know that a lot of people that, that post converts a lot of people. So no doubt that a lot of people are like. Like, yeah, of course this has manipulated. This has manipulated, but, but I think, but I think people are, I think people in general are coming around to the fact that yes, there is this multi-trillion dollar industry of people like me manipulating Google to get there. Kathleen (17:04): Well, and I think it's interesting because so like one of the people who evangelizes the approach I talked about is Marcus Sheridan. And he's always like, you don't list yourself. Now, the only thing I will say, which I'm going to counter my own argument on this is because I love playing devil's advocate against myself apparently is that since he espoused that approach, Google has introduced featured snippets and the danger that I could see in not listing yourself in the list is if you get picked up as a featured snippet and the snippets will just list usually like the title and then they'll list your, your, your header tags. And so if your header tags are the names of your top category providers, and you're not in that, then all of a sudden, if somebody is doing a no click search and they see the list in the featured snippet and they don't see you on it, I could see where that would really hurt you. And so I guess I'm intrigued, and maybe I'll have to test this now that I'm thinking about it, because Greg (18:06): I was going to say two things. One is absolutely test. And second don't like, when we write these posts, it's not like, Oh, we're the greatest. And everybody else's crap. Right? Like everybody gets a really good review in our, like, if you read every, you know, every, all the, the, the, the the, the, the entire list, everybody gets a glowing review. It's not like we're, we're trashing anybody and whatever. Kathleen (18:33): It's supposed to be easy to write, because the information is usually all out there and like, Oh my gosh, Greg (18:37): That's why I love them. You can write, you could write 10 to 20 of them, and you could outsource almost all of them and not have to worry about, like, you know, somebody could do the research and everything like that for you. And then you kind of come back edited and all that good stuff. Yeah. Kathleen (18:52): So that's interesting. You're now causing me to rethink, now that I thought about this featured snippet angle, I'm rethinking my own advice. I'm not sure where I land yet, but I will have to test it. Greg (19:02): It's a pretty easy test. Kathleen (19:04): Yeah, for sure. Greg (19:06): But you're right. People will say and this yep, absolutely. Kathleen (19:10): Okay. Framework next up. Greg (19:13): Alternatives post. The thing I love about alternatives posts is if you have like a gorilla, like an 800 pound gorilla in your space, you could use that momentum to your advantage. So if you're an email marketing software, like 21 best MailChimp alternatives or something like that and every single product or service category has an 800 pound gorilla in their space with a very recognizable brand with people looking for their competitors. So two things are gonna happen here. You're going to get two types of people to this post. One is people who are using that product or service and are looking for somebody else or the other per the other type of person is I'm I know a very little bit about the product category, and I know that this is the big player in it, but I want to see who else is in there. Yeah. So you're going to get very great, a lot of buyer intent. Kathleen (20:11): I like that. And I assume that works kind of like the, the prior framework where you're doing your writing relatively unbiased summaries of all of the different players. Greg (20:23): Yes, absolutely. Always, always unbiased. And if you don't think you can be unbiased, like if you don't think you can be unbiased about it. Honestly, even if you can be unbiased, can be unbiased, just hire somebody to write it for you. And then they will give you an honest, it'll be an honest to goodness post. Right? Kathleen (20:40): Well, the, one of the tricks I always find that's helpful for those kinds of posts is go, if there is a software review site that has information about who you're writing about, you just like literally pull quotes from the reviews. Greg (20:51): Yep. Absolutely love it. Yeah, we do that all the time. The other thing that you could do is in your post again, if you want to be like re and we do this too, if you like to be like, totally upfront, just to tell people, this is who my content is, this is who my business is for. This is who my app is for. Like, we service small businesses doing 1 million to 5 billion in revenue have 2010 plus remote employees, whatever it is. Right. Like just be super specific. And you know, you're going to be, you're going to have a filter right there and just get people to do that. Kathleen (21:29): That makes sense. All right. So that's the first, how many did we do? Three. Greg (21:34): Three. Yeah. I'm trying to check these off now. So you have the tools posts. We had the category, post alternatives alternatives. All right. So next one is one that is meant to wow people. And it's a 101 list post. You're going to put, they're going to make a huge list of, of a type of thing. So it could be any one of these things like email marketing software could be tips. It could be whatever it is, but you're going to put 101 items in the list. Why 101 I've tested a hundred and they don't work quite as well as 101, that's the only thing I could tell you, Hey, whatever works, right? Yes. That's the only, I don't know. I don't know if that's an empirical test. I don't know if that was like, there was nothing. I wrote like three posts. Two of them were one Oh one, one was a hundred and the two that were 101 words. Kathleen (22:34): There is actually data. That odd number listicles work better, even. So even if it's like a lower number, 13 is better than 12. Nine is better than eight. It's like the most bizarre thing. I don't know why it's must be something psychological, everywhere. Greg (22:51): Okay. So but each, so each one just write like maybe, you know, 20 to 50 words like this is, this post is a bear to write. I will give you that, like, like these things could take weeks to write. So if you could hire a researcher to do this, this research for you, put everything together, an Excel spreadsheet and a spreadsheet, whatever it is. But you know, because you're going to write 101 times let's say 50 words is, you know, 5,000 words right there, plus an intro and outro and, and all that good stuff. So, okay. Kathleen (23:25): I suppose you could also crowdsource that, like, I've seen people send out Google forms to, you know, everybody they know and be like, share your top tip with me. And then they just basically like copy and paste what other people have said and plop it in. And then it's less work, I suppose. Greg (23:39): I, you know what, that's actually, I like that a lot better because then again, they have a built in excuse to share for you. Like, not that the other folks don't, but if you've already got them engaged on the, on the creation, they're either, they're much more likely to share it on the promotion side versus just listing people. But again, it's one of those things where after you have, now you have 101 accounts to reach out to, and just, was it after hitting publish? Yeah, exactly. So we have 101 accounts to say, Hey, so-and-so, I I've mentioned you here in my big post. What do you think about it? And you know, that 10% of the people are going to share it. Kathleen (24:19): Yeah. So, all right. Yeah. That's another good one. Yep. Greg (24:23): All right. So the next one is what I call a tips post. Greg (24:29): And basically these are going to be 17 to 22 tips. And when I say tips, we're talking step by step by step tips. So each quote-unquote tip is going to be five to 700 words. There are many blog posts in between each each tip. So let's say it's going to be I don't know, 17, 17 ways to build high quality links. So tip one is going to be resource page link building say right then under resource, page link building, and it's going to be step one, find resource pages. Here's how to find resource pages. Right? Step two. Here's reach out to these people. Here's here's the email templates or reach out to them. Step three, negotiating the link. Here's how to negotiate the link. Right? So each one of these is, is a mini blog posts. It would it like each one of these, think about this. Greg (25:24): If you were around in like 2006 to 2008, each one of these would have been a blog post back in 2006 to 2008 when people were writing, you know, 600 word posts. Kathleen (25:35): Yeah. That's cool. Yeah. So next one. Greg (25:40): All right. So next one is like, we kind of touched on it and it's like the jobs to be done type of framework. So what is something that you do that can be done manually that your business automates for the person? So for instance, we did time sheet templates, free time sheet templates got a lot of people to that post. And then people were like, I don't want to do this manually anymore. Yeah. Another good one is there's a PR outreach tool. Oh gosh, I forgot the name of it. Outreach Ninja. I believe it's called, they'll kind of run the scene to me, but what they did was like they said how to get pressed through, Hey RO help a reporter out.com. And then they went through this super manual way to go and get pressed through through help a reporter out.com. And then at the end, like throughout the, the blog post, they have like several calls to action that are basically like, you know, do you want to automate your PR your outreach? You know what I mean? So just hire, just use our service or our tool or whatever it was. So whatever. Kathleen (26:48): It's not so much, because there are like, there are a ton of people out there that are going to search that stuff, but very few people are going to want to take the time to do it themselves. And the ones who truly are going to do it themselves are not your, usually your ideal customer in my experience, like usually those are the people who are not, not to be crass, but they're cheap. They don't want to spend the money. And so like sometimes I think people are like, I don't want to tell people how to do it manually because I'm gonna lose customers. You're not going to lose customers. You're going to lose poor fit prospects. And you're going to save yourself time because they then will not call you because you've told them how to go out and DIY it. And they're not going to waste your time asking you for pricing information when they can't afford you. Greg (27:30): Exactly. So it's kind of like one of those things where 90% of the people who come to your site and search that kind of term are going to be looking for something for free. Right. Right. So they, they're not going to buy, they're not going to want to hire you anyway. So you're going to get, it's kind of like the thing with like a lot of traffic, a little buyers. So you're going to get a lot of traffic to these posts and not a lot of buyers. Got it. But the ones who do, like you said, super qualified. Yeah. Kathleen (27:59): Okay. What else you got? Greg (28:01): All right. Ultimate guide. This is kind of like a there's there's like the, how to post, like the tips or like the, how tos, like the mini, how tos the ultimate guide is to take something super specific and right. You know, it's going to be like a 5,000 word. Here's everything that you, sorry, I hit the table. Everything that you need to do to accomplish this task. Kathleen (28:29): Okay. So sometimes like we might call that pillar content, like the most authoritative source of information on this topic, on the internet. Greg (28:38): Exactly. I want to leave absolutely nothing out. And then even from there, you're going to link out to your own pages and all that good stuff. So a lot of people are even going to, you know, create beautiful designs or infographics things around those things like that to make this, like, like you said, that single most authoritative thing on the web, Kathleen (29:00): Now, these consume really intimidating for people. Like, I feel like a lot of people know they should do them, but they're like, Oh God, it's like writing a term paper or a thesis, or what have you. It is. So how do you break it down and make it less intimidating? Greg (29:13): Okay. So here's what you do. You create a very detailed outline. I mean, super detailed. So it's going to be, you know, A, B, C, D all the way down through, right. And then what you do. And so that's going to automatically break it up. You fill in your headlines, your sub-headlines, your H3 tags or whatever, and that's just going to break it up into much, much, much smaller pieces. And then what I do is I'll write, you know, one each, you know, one or two pieces each day or whatever it is, you know, until it's done. And again, this is, this is one of those that is going to take, like, you're not going to probably finish this in a day or two, right. Like this is going to take, you know, two weeks to kind of, especially if you're doing it by yourself two weeks to put together, because you want to get all the images and stuff like that together. But yeah, it's it, it is, it is a little bit of a bear to write. So, you know, I recommend five to 700 words a day on it and then put it down for tomorrow. And just, if you kind of get into that habit, eventually you're going to get it done. Kathleen (30:18): Yeah. All right. So we've got our massive guides and then, how many do we have left? Two? Greg (30:25): One. So we're going to do two because I have a bonus one. The first one is going to be a case study. And again, I don't mean like, you know, the little thing on like, the little blurb case studies. I mean, like, you know, you're going to want to tell a full-on story of, of, you know, beginning, middle end hero, problem, problem solved what it looked like when the problem was that has ended. Right. So, and how they accomplished it as well. This is very similar to a guide or the most authoritative piece kind of thing, but it's a little bit more powerful again, in that you're telling a story, you're not just saying how to do this. Like you're saying, you know, Kathleen started here and then she did this and this, and this used our tool or our business to do this, this and this. Greg (31:15): And, you know, now she has a, a full working solution to the problem. That makes sense. So, yeah, again, it's, it's going to be another 3000 word kind of piece, very in depth. Okay. And then the bonus that works really, really well. And they're, they're kind of hard to pull off. So I've only written like three of them or four of them in my entire career. And that is a pattern interrupt case study. So what, I'm going to give you a very specific example, if you Google something like if you Google, like how to use an employee monitoring software, right. You're going to get all of these case studies into like, you know, here's all these articles like how to use employee monitoring software and, you know, step by step by step. Just like we talked about, I know how to find how, how to find like people who aren't working and things like that. Greg (32:15): I don't want to get into the morality of an employee monitoring software, but just go with me for a second. I'm sorry. So what we did was we've wrote why employee monitoring software doesn't work, which is a very big pattern interrupt. When you're looking in Google, like, wait a minute, I was looking for an employee monitoring software. What do you mean it doesn't work? And then what we did was we started and we listed all the flaws of an employee monitoring software and how we, as an employee as, as also an employee monitoring software solved all those flaws. So one of the, so one of them, so one of them might've been like, you know, automated mouse movements, like most employee monitoring software can't detect automated mouse movements, but ours could that kind of thing. Kathleen (32:59): That's interesting because I, so I it reminds me of like two other formats that I've used. Sometimes one's called the problems post, which is like, here are the problems with the thing that you're searching for. Right. Calling it out and being super honest about it. But it also reminds me of like the concepts behind the challenger sale, which is basically like you ever, when somebody is looking to buy something, everybody's going to try to say, yes, I have that thing you want to buy. And so therefore, everyone selling, it sounds the same because they're all using that same narrative of, I have the best of those things. Whereas if you come to the table and you say, you don't really want that thing, because there's all kinds of problems with that thing, but here's what you want instead. Like that's, I'm way oversimplifying it. But when I think of the challenger sale, that's what I think of. And, and it is I like that you called it a pattern interrupter, because that's exactly why it works. If you're one of five competitors trying to get somebody's business and all the other four saying, yes, I know you want that. And I have the best one. And you're the only one who says there are a lot of problems with that. That is a pattern interrupter. And that makes you stand out. Greg (34:06): Absolutely. Absolutely. It's like, kind of, and I'll kind of get back into a little bit more into that in a second, but it's kind of like, you go to the grocery store and you see milk, milk, milk, milk, silk, and you're like, huh, what is this? Right. Especially when people weren't, didn't understand what soy milk was. Right. So it was kind of one of those things that, you know, it was not that soy milk, I don't even think needs to be refrigerated, but it was in the refrigerated section of my supermarket because it was the pattern interrupt. Right. But going back to the problem thing now, if you actually put a face to the name of that, of the of that pattern interrupt case study, or a face to the problem of that pattern interrupt case study, and you're saying, you know Kathleen used a timesheet software. Greg (34:51): That's actually software a, an employee monitoring software to try at, because she had a bad feeling that this person wasn't working or whatever, and, you know, but the mouse was still moving. And then she tried our pro our, our employee monitoring software and realized that, you know, that we were able to detect somebody was using an autumn, a movement software, that kind of thing. Like now all of a sudden you're like, Oh, wow, this is a real, this is a real person with a real problem that I have. And, you know, so, so yes, you don't want a regular time. You don't want an irregular software. You want, you know, this specialist. Kathleen (35:25): Yeah. Yeah. I like that. Yeah. So we have now nine frameworks, not just eight by cause we got a bonus and I want to talk for a minute about conversion. So you've mentioned CTAs. Obviously you're going to create all this content and if you do it well, and if you play your cards, right, you're going to get traffic and some of it's going to be qualified traffic. So how do you approach turning that traffic into leads? Greg (35:54): So there's a couple ways. One is if you, if you create the structure of the content, right, it's just going to naturally convert people into leads. So, you know, any one of these tools, alternatives, whatever it is, like, you're getting pretty qualified buyers to your site. And you're going to be talking about your product or service within the context of the, of the content anyway. So that's one way to do it, right? Like just so structure the content that features your business. Atrust is so good at this. I don't know if you've atrust.com/blog. Check out any one of their articles. They are amazing at it. Second one is, the second way is you, you create lead magnets or like popups to lead magnets, things like that. And we, I am not one who likes to gate a whole lot of content. Greg (36:46): So what I do is I will, I personally just create a very long case study to give to people when they sign up. And again, the case study, once they sign up for my quote unquote lead magnet is designed to sell using basically one of these frameworks that the case study framework. So those are the ways that I like to do it again. I'm not really one to create like white paper guides. And like, I ungate as much content as I possibly can. I'd rather get the traffic, the qualified traffic via search or SEO or referral versus gated content. And, you know, have people kind of opt into there. Kathleen (37:30): I'm the same way. And I found that that honestly, if you give the content away and then you say, Hey, do you want a PDF version that you could print? Like, and you just say, all you have to do is say, give me your email address and I'll send it to you. A lot of people convert because yeah, because what it does is allows them to see that the content is good and therefore they are more willing to give you their email address than they might otherwise be Greg (37:53): Like me in that I've become a super jaded. Like, I, I am so judicious with who I give my email address. So like, it's free, but it's like, yes, but I don't want to go into your sales funnel. Right. Kathleen (38:11): I'll be honest. I have a throwaway email that I use for this purpose. It's like, that's what drives me nuts about gating is you're going to get so much crap because there's so many people who don't want to talk to you, but if you just give the content away people that are like, that's actually really good content. And so I don't mind giving them my email address because they're going to send me more, really good content. That's exactly right. Yeah. Greg (38:40): Yeah. So lesson. Gate as little content as you possibly can. Kathleen (38:48): When people get their case studies. Greg (38:51): I guess. Yeah. I don't get a fit either. Kathleen (38:55): Practice ever for a marketer because case studies basically are what people want when they're trying to decide whether to buy from you, they've already realized they want to buy something and they're like, should I buy it from them? Or that other company, Kathleen (39:09): You get your case study and you're making it harder for them to pick you. Like why? Greg (39:13): I don't get that either. I don't get like, like my, I do get my one case study, but it's literally, but I will, you don't actually have to go. But like, but that case study is published everywhere else on my blog. So you don't have to like, actually sign up to my email address if you go there. Like you're going to read that story a hundred times on my site. But yeah, I don't get it either. I just don't understand the marketers. Kathleen (39:36): We, I always say when we put on our marketing hat, we lose our people brain. Greg (39:41): Right. Kathleen (39:44): Anyway, I could go on and on about that. So, so give it, ungate everything. How do you use CTAs? Like, do you people have different theories on where CTA should appear in blogs? Greg (39:56): So I do inline CTAs. I don't know how many paragraphs down. I usually just kind of guess it's usually like five, six paragraphs down. Let me just note though, my paragraphs are typically one to two sentences long, so I have a lot of white space okay. Kathleen (40:14): Tested and it's like, it totally flies in the face of what you're taught in English class growing up, but I've tested it. And the short paragraphs always perform better. Yeah. Greg (40:23): I never have a paragraph. My paragraphs aren't so much as like breaks in thought process as they are breaks in text, blocks of texts. Kathleen (40:33): Yeah, because content, when you're content marketing, writing. Yup. Completely different and expository writing. Greg (40:40): Yep. Absolutely. So five, so five or six paragraphs down. So basically five or six sentences down. I put an in-line call to action, just like, you know, a little blue, you know, my brand is blue. So a little blue box that says, you know, sign up here. And then I also do an exit intent pop up and that's it. That's all I do. So my eat, my like blog is like most of I always again, because I want to focus on creating content that converts, like I'm not going to have multiple columns with multiple CTAs on a side column or anything like that. My, my blog is always one column. It's just, there's nothing on the sides. It's white background, black text, that kind of thing. Very simple. So yeah. Kathleen (41:29): So let's switch gears now and talk about results because you've used this a variety of times. What have you seen in terms of results? And you said you measured results based on leads or by revenue. So talk to me. Greg (41:42): So I measure results based on trials and I could get into a couple specifics trials basically are pre, like, lemme, let me define trial in the context I'm talking about is basically no credit card added trial. Okay. so you don't need it. You could just sign up and give her your email address and give it a shot and set it up and all that stuff. So if you write a tool, an alternatives post, like, so we, so if you're one of the, one of the posts that we wrote is toggle alternatives. And again, it's one of those posts where it gets so little search. I think it gets maybe 10 to 10 to 50 kind of things, you know, in your keyword research tool, but it brings in like four to 500 visitors a month kind of deal, but that that'll convert 2% of the people into trials. Greg (42:35): So that's you know, the, the cool part about these is, like we said before, super easy to write really easy to rank. So you could do you know, you can write 10 to 20 of these and they're all going to get anywhere between 50 diff you know, up to the higher end 500 searches, 500 visitors a month. And they're all going to convert in that one to 2% range. So yes, it doesn't sound like, you know, those four or five customers per month, that you're a four or five trials per month that you're adding sounds like a lot. But then when you multiply that by 10 to 20 start, start to pile up the trials. Kathleen (43:11): I mean, honestly, like when you consider the fact that it's a one and done, you write it once and then it's like a dividend, it just keeps paying you. Greg (43:19): Absolutely. Think about thinking about your content in a term. I don't want to say exactly the same as, as an ad because in an ad it's like, literally today you're going to put in a dollar and today you're also going to get $3. But think about it like this, let's say it costs you, I dunno, $500 to write the article and then $500 to promote it. We'll make it easy math. So it's a thousand dollars to create and promote a piece of content. The question you have to ask yourself is, and I like to ask this. When in six to nine months, however long, I think it's going to take the rank. Will I get 3X the, will I get 3X the ARR per month? So what is the lifetime value of a customer? Will I 3X that every month? So at a thousand dollars, I need, I want to try to get $3,000 in additional ARR every single month. And that's how I think about it. Kathleen (44:16): Why 3X? Greg (44:16): I don't know. It just seemed like a good number at the time and I've just stuck with it and it works for me. So, yeah. Kathleen (44:24): All right, cool. So, so I love this. It's a super easy framework to follow. And you know, as you said, you can either use your in-house team to write this stuff, or you can outsource it if you feel like it's too overwhelming. I'm going to shift gears now because I have a couple of questions I want to ask you that I ask all my guests. First one is, you know, you've worked with a lot of different companies and you're, you're squarely in the field of inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or a particular individual that you think is really setting the bar for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days? Greg (45:04): Yeah, there's a couple of them. I'm going to go with, I'm going to actually go with so-so for, from what I see too. So company, I'm going to say trust. I absolutely outside of Time Doctor, cause I, I know we talked about them, the inner workings of what they do, but Ahrefs is a keyword research, is a SEO tool, SEO suite of tools. And I love what they do from an inbound marketing standpoint. They are able to combine their their, they have three things that I really love. One is their content converts. It's very heavily focused within like these frameworks and I'm biased to these frameworks. Second, they have a really cool YouTube channel. That drives a lot of SEOs. It's almost my squash in the SEO industry. And then the third thing that I really love and I think is so underrated, they have a personalized face to the brand. Greg (46:00): When you think of Ahrefs and in the SEO space, if you're not familiar, you think of a guy named Tim Soulo or however you pronounce his name. And yeah. And I think having that pur that, that face, that brand is super important a lot, you know, because they're, that's, that's what I think like inbound is it's about connecting to a person. I actually don't even know who the founder of Ahrefs is, but that's unimportant. It's I know who Tim is. I've talked with Tim, you know, Twitter, email, whatever, and he's just out there all the time. And I think that's, that's really critical. Kathleen (46:34): I feel like that's how Rand Fishkin was at Moz when he was. Greg (46:37): Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. You want to, like, there's, there's a guy there, you knew you weren't just buying from a company. You were buying from a PR, a set of people who, you know, you believed in their work. And I think that's a paramount to the success. The other, the other guy is a guy named Noah Kagan. And this guy, he's, he, he's the founder of a company called AppSumo and they in and of themselves are okay. Inbound, like, but they built a big company. What I love about Noah is, again, he's just creating so much content, the videos that he, that he creates, if you're an entrepreneur, you're just getting started. There, that's a much watch video series. So I, I really, and again, he's super personable. He's just always out there, you know, who he is, you like, you're friends with him. And so I really like what he's doing with with, with inbound in that sense. Kathleen (47:36): All right. Those are two good ones. And I'll link off to those in the show notes. Before we wrap up, I'm sure there are going to be people who listen to this and have questions or want to connect with you online. What's the best way for them to do that. Greg (47:51): Twitter @gregdigneo is the best way. And then if you want the frameworks kind of just give you a link to this. Yeah, of course. Content Guppy.com/frameworks. Awesome. And you could, they're not going to be gated. So as we've discussed yeah. Not gated. And yeah. So that's where you could grab those and yeah, that's, that's basically it. Kathleen (48:19): All right. Well, head to the show notes, I'll put those links in there. If you want to get the frameworks or connect directly with Greg, thank you so much for sharing all this with us today. This was great. You made it really simple and actionable, which is what I always love. Greg (48:32): Oh. So much. I hope, I hope everybody gets some value out of it. Kathleen (48:35): Yeah. I'm already planning my first pattern interrupter posts. So I'm excited about that. I'll I'll let you know how it goes. Greg (48:41): Absolutely. That sounds great. Kathleen (48:44): All right. Well, if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, please head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice. And I would love it if you would leave the podcast a review. That's how we find new listeners. And if you know somebody else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork. Yes, that is my Twitter handle. That's a whole nother story and we can make them our next guest. Thanks so much for joining me this week, Greg. Greg (49:09): This was great. Thank you. Take care.


    Ep. 195: Designing human-centered chatbots Ft. Yiz Segall

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2021 50:32

    A poorly designed chatbot can create major friction for website visitors. But get it right, and the impact on the user experience and conversions can be massive. This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Yiz Segall gets into the nitty gritty details of how to build chatbots. From what his best-performing opening line is, to who should man the chat and how to use chat logs to optimize your landing pages, he provides step-by-step instructions for creating effective chatbots. Yiz knows what he's talking about, having designed hundreds of bots for clients. And he has the results to show for it, with data showing that website visitor-to-lead conversions increase between 6 and 15% once his chatbots are implemented.   Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear Yiz's advice for designing human-centered chatbots. Resources from this episode: Connect with Yiz on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:01): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and today I'm joined by Yiz Segall who is the senior marketing manager at Group 8A. Welcome to the podcast Yiz. Yiz (00:26): Thanks for having me. Kathleen (00:27): Yeah, you're coming from, from far away. You're based in Israel, correct? Yiz (00:31): Yeah, I'm based in Israel. Kathleen (00:34): It's 7:30 AM my time. What time is it where you are? Yiz (00:39): 3:30 PM. Kathleen (00:40): Nice. All right. Well, I love, I love that we're going global and I'm particularly excited about our topic today, which is about creating human centered chatbots. Before we jump into that though, maybe you could tell my audience a little bit about yourself and your background and what you're doing today at Group 8A. Yiz (00:59): So my background is kind of split into a number of different things. I started off in, mostly in my paid acquisition. I started sort of direct figuring things out myself. I was just going along and then I realized that marketing automation had a lot of like power to it. That there's a lot we could do with that, it to make it more efficient. So I started working with that and as I grew that I realized that I needed to develop more content in order to make it work. So I got more into content strategy as well, and I've sort of been keeping my horizons, always open, sort of looking at new things that can not just not so problems per se, but allow me to do the things that I want to do better. And that's sort of also how I got into chatbots as well. And I only really use the technologies that I know that can actually help me at Group 8A, mostly run paid acquisition, but I also do help the sales team with sales automations and with chatbots. And and I help a little bit also with content. Kathleen (02:09): So I have a question and we didn't talk about this before we got on, but I'm going to spring it on you anyway. Do you see there being a connection between paid acquisition and chatbots and explain to me if the answer is yes. Like how you see those two working together? Yiz (02:26): So yeah, I think there is a little bit of a connection between them. And in any case, anytime that you are, that you bring traffic to a website, especially if it's like intent based. So if you're using Google, less so with Facebook, more so with LinkedIn, that's easier to gauge about the intent of the person coming in. And so you can, once you can measure that intent, if that page isn't, isn't really satisfying the intent completely, that's when chatbots can come in and support that. So if they need more information or then that page can provide, or if it's not, or, or if it doesn't really answer their questions, as much as they want it to that, they're covering for a little bit more, a chatbot could definitely come in and really like supplement that and the additional touch to it. And it seems like more conversational is a lot more easier if it's done correctly, it's it feels a lot more like it feels smooth and it feels like a little bit more natural than just reading through a page does. And so it can really help with acquisition as well. Kathleen (03:36): Yeah, it's interesting because I've observed we, so we, in my company you know, I came on as the first head of marketing about six months ago and we started doing paid acquisition campaigns a couple of months back. And I noticed that when we turned them on our bounce rate went up, which didn't surprise me because all of a sudden we're bringing in a completely different type of traffic. You know, and so, and I had a theory that if I turned on a chatbot and, and made it more about helping people quickly find the content they were looking for, that we could decrease that. And I'm still sort of in the middle of that experiment. So I'm wondering if you've ever like, tracked that, do you know, like, can it help with bounce rates? Have you ever tested that? Yiz (04:23): Yeah, actually one of the cases that I ran, one of the experiments I ran recently was just for a campaign for actually, for a YouTube campaign that we were running, it sent about, in a bit of like two weeks, it sent, it sent around 67,000 people to the website and all of that segment, about 30% of those ended up using the chatbot, which is, which, which in my experience is really hard. Usually it's between depending on what they want. It can be between like five to 15% like chat, right? Like chat initiation rate. But this was a particularly high engagement rate. And like out of that, we had like 16% ended up closing. Kathleen (05:08): That's awesome. That's a really high conversion rates. Yiz (05:11): Yeah. So it, it was because it was because I knew exactly. I, I started off very simple with my chatbots. And then as I saw things move along as I saw more people ask different questions. I didn't, I didn't make it like you see in a lot of bots where you have like specific answers they can click on. And I wanted to do a little bit more exploration. So I allowed a little bit more free writing. And with that, I was able to build up and then use, based on those questions, built out multiple chatbots, a little bit more branches and that's, and then ask different questions, as well as my like trigger message, allow me to build up like a much higher engagement by engagement. And that also did get brought down bounce rate quite a bit. So let's Kathleen (05:58): Back up for a minute because I think when, if people are listening, I'm sure they've heard of chatbots. Some of them might have chatbots, they might have experience with it, but there's definitely different flavors of chatbot, you know, I think of it like, there's the, there's the fully automated ones, like you said, with the answers already kind of like filled in there's chatbots that are slightly automated and have a lot of human intervention, like do some table setting for me. I would love to hear your perspective on, when do you think a brand should have a chatbot? Like, is it something every website should have, are there certain conditions that you need to have in place to put a chatbot there? And then how do you know what type of chatbot is right for you? Yiz (06:43): Okay. So my starting point is, and I think I've audited something like 50 to 60 different companies that use chatbots. And one of the main mistakes that I see and is that companies see chatbots and like they focus on either having a chatbot and the type of chatbot rather than what a chatbot actually provides. A chatbot is just a tool that is used, but what a chatbot actually is, it's marketing automation in real time. And if you think of it, it just happens to have that high context and that real-time context of being on the website, but it is marketing automation real time. And if you think about it like that, and you say, okay, somebody is on my website now, how, how do I get them from point A to point B or let's say, I have a landing page, and I want them to fill out a form, but in this case, it's not the form. Yiz (07:39): It's how do I initiate that chatbot and what I want them to do with that? Or what could I get them? What could I possibly get them to do with this chatbot? Well, and I think of it in terms of, as if it was marketing automation, then the actual type of chatbot doesn't really make a difference. It's just, what would I do in a situation of marketing automation, but sped up a lot. So, so different things, different types of chatbots require different situations. So for example, if it is processing or for something more sensitive, or if something's a bit more complicated than you do want to get a person you don't want to get a person online, also support questions. Chatbots do tend to have, probably around a quarter of them, tend to be a bit more support based questions as well. Yiz (08:30): My actual first foray into chatbots was to use it primarily as a support tool. And we only branched out afterwards when we saw it, when I saw that was actually quite a powerful sales tool as well. And then and then moving forward to show that I used it to sort of accelerate people's like actual research research journey as they were going through it. And it sort of went in those stages. So it depends of on the type of page that you're on. So if you're on a pricing page and the pricing page is complicated. So then, well, first of all, you have a problem with your pricing page the second, but while you're still fixing that up, having somebody to explain it in human terms and understand like, sort of more of the nuances of what they're really confused about is a lot more appropriate than if you're on like a lead form page and they still, and they still have a question about something, or they're not on the homepage or of their own, a piece of content. Kathleen (09:28): So do you typically have a different chatbot for every page? Or how do you think about like tailoring that experience based on where somebody is on the site? Yiz (09:38): Okay. So I started off, I developed my chatbots in three different sprints and it really depends. It really depends on manageability, like, like the size of the website, the structure of the website and and sort of what you really want to be dealing with. Like, I guess that's part of manageability, so you don't want to be managing like 50,000 different chatbots. So I always start off with three to five different chatbots. I create a catch-all across the entire site, and then I create specific ones on important pages. Then I start moving onto channel specific chatbots where I basically say, okay, we have different channels. I can kind of understand what they, the, why they're coming in and what they coming in, why they come to this page and I'll have something specific that I'll also split between people I know, who are already in the system and people who aren't already in the system. And then I'll move to much more content specific context, content specific chatbots, which is more about like either the category. Yiz (10:51): And this is where it becomes a little bit more advanced and complicated when you develop content. Oh, I guess when, when I did, this should be when somebody should develop content. They, it should fit into a certain place in the funnel or into at least it should fit into an understanding of what your, like your target persona about them and it, where they should, what, what they, what is trying to, what's it trying to answer. And you should know from that piece of content, a what they could possibly be confused about and where they should go, where they could go next. So if you want to, once you get, once you've passed the basic stages, you can create either on a content by content piece or on a sort of like group of content piece. And that's generally where as complicated as I think is necessary, where you move on and you and you have like a grouping of content where, you know, answer specific questions, and then you use that bot to accelerate the process to say, okay, either ask a question about that content or move into the next point. Kathleen (12:00): Yeah, we did something like this, and we have a very simple chatbot, cause we've only just sort of started this process, but you know, we follow the pillar content, topic cluster approach for SEO. And then we have what I would, we kind of internally jokingly refer to as Uber pillars, which is like category research resource pages on our website, essentially. So we, once we have a piece of pillar content created, then we have a lot of articles in the cluster. We might have some case studies that are related. We'll build a page that literally links off to all of it in one place. So like if somebody comes to our website, for example, and they're interested in e-commerce all of our best content on e-commerce is in one place. And it's not really like a classic resource center. It's more like it's more like the definitive, the definitive page for everything on that topic, if you will. And I found that to be a really handy thing to have when building chatbots, because especially if you have a site where, where you deal with different topics that are very, that are very distinct from each other, it's helpful to be able to say, what are you interested in? And then point somebody immediately in the direction of like a one-stop shop for that thing that they're interested in. So I'm curious, like what kind of content in your experience is important to have developed in order to be able to build a robust chatbot? Yiz (13:27): I mean, it's a good question. So your chatbot works around your normal content strategy. So, so long as you have so long as you're working in an intentional framework where you built the content with a purpose to answer a question, and they could go in different directions from that point. So then a chatbot is relevant in the case of your new case of your pillar. So you could send, so that's a really long page. So the pillar content pieces, they're massive, especially if the, if the actual page, if the actual topic is complex. And so you could use the chatbot to sort of say, okay, go to this point, but you could also use the chatbot at the same time to, not to point into a point on that page, but to send them to like a segment that you've developed into a separate blog post. Yiz (14:23): So it actually seems like to your actual audience that they're now progressing to a different point. And it also makes it seem like that it's a new topic, so it's not like they've skimmed through and they didn't see it. It, it, it seems like, okay, I didn't know this before it wasn't on that page. It also helps simplify it by focusing the actual content piece where they're actually looking at. But I've also found that the difference between it, from what I, of successful chatbots and non-successful chatbots, basically comes down to three different things. The first one is your actual opening message. So if your opening message is "hi, how can I help you?" So, so if they need, it's not an engaging message and it's very easily ignoring something. So you want really, you want increase your, your engagement rates a lot, because, because only if they have a problem, but they're not on your page to solve it. Yiz (15:30): Like they, they haven't read through the content yet. And they don't know if they have any further questions. So, so they don't know if they, if they actually need help, because they're not actually in a, in a, like a crisis mode yet. The second point is, I guess it lends to the first one, is timing. I see a lot of chatbots that as soon as they, the, the webpage opens, they have that opening message. And the problem with that is especially if the messages and engaging is that it becomes now something you ignore. So you sort of, you sort of acknowledge it in the corner of your eye, but it comes one of those elements that you just ignore from the page. And so even if a chatbot could be good for that situation, it won't be because I've ignored that feature of your website they've know that, that message that either closed it and they've gotten frustrated like they would, if there was a popup or they let it be, and they've ignored it. Yiz (16:23): And I found that that timing is everything. The timing on the actual message is everything with how you actually, when you actually implemented the chatbot itself, when you pop up that message. I found it depends on the page. So I found that the length of the page, it's usually between three to seven seconds or scroll certain specific scroll depth, scroll depth, depending on what platform you use and it's sort of capabilities. I have found generally if you give it enough time, and then you have a really engaging message. The one that I usually, the one that I usually go with, I actually took from Drift. They have some great examples. And then it's just, "can I ask you a quick question?" Kathleen (17:07): I like that. That's, it's interesting that you bring this up because I have definitely noticed that what you open with is key. And it's not just what you say. It's like how short you keep it, right? Because a lot of these chatbots like, one of the biggest mistakes that I see rookie people make when they first build chatbots is they try to pack too much into one little message and chatbots. It's like, it's like the people who are perfect chatbot, creators and operators are really young because they've grown up communicating by text and they know like you shouldn't write a paragraph for a text. It should be like a snippet of a thought because you want the person you're communicating with. Doesn't want to wait and look at the three dots while you're typing. Right. They want to see your message. And so several years back when I was running a marketing team and, and we built the first chatbot at the company I was at, at the time, our first chatbot operator didn't do that. Kathleen (18:06): She was writing like paragraph answers and it was terrible. And then we had somebody new come in who was a little younger, who was sort of from a generation that texting is their first kind of, their first choice of a way to communicate. And she just instinctively knew to chunk it out and like break it up into little tiny bits. And so there are so many nuances like that, that I think are easy to miss. And your opening statement or question is, I would totally agree. It's like, it's like the equivalent of the email subject line, right? Like you could have a great email, but if nobody opens your email, it really doesn't matter. Like it's all about the subject line. And it's the same thought. That first message that somebody sees before they click on it and open it up. That's the most important thing, because if nobody's going to click on it, it doesn't matter what, what comes after. Yiz (18:53): I, I, I would even go further and say that that opening message is like your creative or, or copy on a programmatic ad because then like because then when you're on an email, you're looking for an email to open when you're on somebody else's website, you're not looking for that. You have to be distracted by the quality of that ad creative and copy in order to then not only pay attention to it, but then actually click and engage with it. And you're doing the same thing with your chatbot on your own website. And then, so then you have like, then you have like a third thing, which I think is where also a lot of companies miss. So you actually mentioned something that is part of it, is that sort of the way that you structure, like it has to be short sentences. Yiz (19:45): And one of the, one of the things that I actually found is that I guess kind of like a myth is that you only can ask the limited amount of questions and the truth is that it doesn't make a difference so long as your questions are relevant to them. And it's not just gathering information. One of the actual things that I found is when I put, when I put like asking name or email, like even like, sort of like, just in case, like we get cut off, like, what's like, what's your email, try to like, make it more natural and introduction to like, for I'm, whatever. This is my name. I'm like, I'm YizBot. And like, what's your name and stuff like that. When I put that earlier on, I had zero follow through. People didn't want to go through. But when I established that later, like five or six questions, I tend to get people answering those questions a lot more, which led to going from about capturing like five emails to catching about 600 emails in the span of like two weeks. Yiz (20:48): So it all depends on, you don't have to have, doesn't have to be such a short, sort of a short, like small chat. It can be as long as so long as it's engaging so long as you ask like, questions. And that's where sort of like the human side gets to it a lot is because what I did with the chatbot is that I knew why they would come to that website. So I showed empathy straight away. So for example, on, for an example this is a B2C example. It was, it was a medical product and I said, are you, I said, all right, can I ask you a quick question? I asked the question, are you suffering from you? Are you suffering from this? And usually they say yes. And then I also try to add in like a humorous answer as well, to the options that I gave. Yiz (21:40): And then I was like, has it really, has it really stopped you from living your life properly? Like what had, and then what has stopped you from doing right? So I try to sort of like empathize with the empathize with the fact that I knew what that problem was, but also that it's impacted their lives before I went further. And actually sort of, are you looking for a way to be able to do that again? Are you looking for a solution? What have you tried? And some of that I cut out. I tried different things throughout the process. When I asked for like, have you tried for this particular one? Have you tried surgery? I realized that was a wasted question and I didn't actually need it. And I actually got much better engagement when I, when I cut it out, but I had like seven or eight different steps in my process. Yiz (22:26): And the length didn't make a difference because it wasn't just gathering information. Or from that perspective, I was empathizing with them while I was presenting a solution at the same time. So when I actually presented that solution, when I, which that solution doesn't have to be a sale, that's the way she just needs to be getting to then next desired outcome. And when I was doing that, I ended up not only getting more leads, but I ended up also getting higher intent sales. Like I said, out of, out of the 600 people I got emails from, I got around about 400 of those were high intent, right? And over that period of two weeks, we closed around 30 to 40 sales. And we closed another 6% later on. So, so it wasn't about the length. It's about like, understanding that problem and understanding why they're there. And that's when having multiple chatbots and understanding, let's say going back to paid acquisition if you know, why there's ads, you know, why they're on that page and why they came to that page, then you can build out a really human chatbot. That is, that is time correctly has a really great opening message. And you have short questions that show that you care, and then you can answer that, then you can provide your solution or that next step Kathleen (23:53): You mentioned the, the topic of a human centered chatbot. And that's obviously the the, the topic of, of what we're discussing. And I hear people complain about this a lot where they're like, people go on rants on LinkedIn and on Twitter saying, chatbots are the worst. Why do I want to interact with a robot? And this and that. Beyond kind of showing empathy and really understanding somebody's problem, are there other aspects to this that can make a chatbot more human centered, less annoying, less robotic. Yiz (24:27): So those complaints come down to a few different things. First of all, if the chatbot is really rigid and is, has no branches, if it doesn't have the ability to understand what that person is saying. So if they write something in and it's still very inflexible, then they don't like it. I have chatbots are sort of pretending to be a human and it's really a chatbot then that's really annoying. And the other thing is when it is so certain situations call for human intervention. So if you're somebody who's really confused about, let's say your pricing for your product, you, what you should always have, especially during trade hours, you should always have an option to allow us human, to intervene and to actually join the chat if need be, and you should give them the option to request that or to, or to book a time on somebody's calendar. Yiz (25:25): If it is, if it is if it is something that's confusing, confusing, or complex, and that's where people also get where they also ranted, one of the reasons why they also rant against chatbots, but ultimately, so as long as it's done, right you have a little bit, your mail, you make it seem conversational. It's not like sort of to, it's not promotional in the sense it's not like way too salesy or even really that tells you at all. It's supposed to feel like a conversation. You acknowledge the fact that you are a chatbot. Like I will have, for example, if somebody puts in a, a message and, and I have no idea, and the chatbot doesn't understand what's going on. So a lot of times I'll implement a chatbot on HubSpot's free, on the service. So service free or whatever it's called, right? Yiz (26:19): So they're a free chatbot and they can't do any branches. And I have no idea what's going on, but I'll say if I find email or whatever it is, they put something in. And I, and it's not what I'm looking for. I'll say, look, I'm a simple chatbot, icon, understand anything? I don't know what you're saying. I, I, and I can only look at, I can only read things in a certain format. And so you acknowledge that. You use a little humor, a little bit of empathy, and you know, you're not trying to be salesy, and you'll be fine. Kathleen (26:50): I want to talk about chatbot operators, because you mentioned like, in a perfect world, you'd be somebody who would be able to have a handoff to a real person, right. During the chatbot experience. If they have a complex question or the bot can't answer it. I have a lot of opinions on this, but I'm not gonna say them. I'm curious to know what you think in terms of, what do you look for in the person who's going to man, your chatbot? What, what sort of skills experience, et cetera, do you need? Yiz (27:25): Are you talking about the, now the person that, that is now handed off to live chat? I've seen different companies do different things. Hubspot has a sort of like hybrid sales support kind of idea. I think, I think somewhere in between you need, like, it should probably be like, you can have like a branch that sort of splits and say, like, use what, they're, what they're actually looking for to decide if it should go to sales or to support, or you have some, or if you can't do that, get somebody in support who's also trained in sales. Kathleen (28:16): Yeah. That makes sense. And I've always thought again people who are, who really are comfortable, like, like I said earlier, with texting as a format who understand, like, keep your answers short, be quick, send little snippets. And then, and then people who just have incredibly sunny dispositions, bright outlooks, who are, who are, because some of the stuff that comes in through chatbots is not nice. Let's be honest. People come a lot of times they're there because they've encountered an issue with the product or they're frustrated with something. And so having somebody who is able to like roll with the punches is a really, really good thing. Yiz (28:55): So that's where support comes in. That's why they're the ideal person to run the chat over sales for a number of reasons. Number one, they are, they do have to deal with like the, the worst part of client client's humanity. Quite often, they have to deal with the punches and they have to know it, that they have to take the punch. A lot of the time, they also know the product cold and they're also not motivated to make everything a sale. They're motivated to help. So while they should have some sales training, they, it should, they are, they have like more of a human element to them than like a sales person, which makes them like then the ideal person for it. Kathleen (29:48): That makes sense. So, any other particular tricks that you've found work really well with chatbots? Like you talked about your opening line that that's worked really well. Do you have anything else along those lines that, that you've discovered through trial and error works well? Yiz (30:04): So my, what I generally do is that I started, like I said, I work in three sprints, right. I keep it basic and then I get complicated going on, but that's also in terms of the chat itself, I allow for a lot more free writing in the beginning, especially in the beginning to get more so, and then I go through the chat. I go through like the chat statistics in terms of like progression, see where the choke points are, the breaking points are. And then I get rid of them or change them. But I also run through a lot where I run through like, I basically go through every single chat. And one case, it was talking about going through like 2000 different chats within like a very small period. And I go through them and I looked through what exactly they were writing about, what they asking. Yiz (30:57): And then I will then take that information and I will create new chatbots based off it. I will create new branches. So I wouldn't start by making five or six different branches in any sort of chat. It makes it too complicated. You don't need all of that in the beginning. Just create a few simple ones. Allow more free writing. And then and then adapt. And the other thing is, put energy as much energy, as you can into what you're writing. So unless it's like support, like somebody who's like angry is crazy, but you have to convey passion for what you're doing. And, and add more human elements, like humor as well. And if it, if it's done properly, they'll feel that as well. And then they get excited to progress further. It's like, think of it as like a normal human conversation, right? Yiz (31:55): Let's say you're talking to somebody else. I'm coming up. I want to talk to you about a given topic. I'm not trying to sell you anything. I want to talk to you about your experience in inbound marketing, but you're having a chat with somebody else, or you're reading a book. I come up to you, my opening line has to be genuine and it has to get your attention. So you stop what you're doing and you start talking to me, but then I have to keep your interest throughout that time, weigh the questions, understanding on the topic that I brought. I understand where you're coming from. And I understand what I'm talking about as well in a way that I can help you while I'm still learning from you what exactly I want to learn from it as well. But I have to also put energy into that. If it's like a dull conversation that's in monotone, then you lose interest and that conversation ends. Kathleen (32:42): So, okay. That's interesting. And I agree with you, but I think that's one of those things that like, unless you see examples of it, it can be really hard to understand. So I'm wondering, and I'm gonna put you on the spot here. Are there any companies that you think do this really well, any chat, particular chatbot experiences that you've seen that that are great examples of this? Yiz (33:08): So there are a few, there are a few that, so there's one that has like some sarcasm in it. It sort of disarms, they put it in their opening message, which I don't like. And I don't know the statistics of it if they put that in later, but basically it's a marketing agency and the marketing agency says, it starts off by saying, "I guess you're here to solve a marketing problem, but if you're just here to browse, we don't judge." That's Marketing Envy. Kathleen (33:41): I'm going to Google them right now as we're, as we're talking. Yiz (33:42): So I, I actually really enjoyed that because it it's very, I found it very funny that they sort of had a bit of sarcasm. They weren't afraid to sort of say something a little bit, like. Kathleen (33:58): It says, "Okay, unless you're hobby is checking out random marketing agencies, weird, but no judgment. I'm betting you have a marketing problem you're looking to solve." Yiz (34:06): Yeah. So I don't really like that as an opening message. It's way too long. But it's sort of perfect in the way that it sort of feels human. That it has like an energy. It feels like a normal person would say that or write that. Kathleen (34:25): Well, and I suppose that, and I'm going through their bot right now as we're talking. I suppose that it also naturally attracts sort of the right culture fit client, because if somebody was annoyed by that, it's probably not going to be the right fit for the agency. If that, if that chatbot is really representative of that agency's personality, it is one way to sort of screen out non good fits. Now I will agree with you though, like their next, so I clicked something in their bot and then their next thing that popped up, it's like, it's like five different sentences. So I would say, I don't want to do like a chatbot tear down on them so much, but like, it's interesting when you start to look at these things in the wild, you begin to realize like they had so much in their next thing, that it wasn't all available in one, like without scrolling in the chatbot, which I would say is not great. Yiz (35:17): So, yeah. Kathleen (35:19): Yeah. Interesting. So I'm curious then all of this is, is so spot on, but at the end of the day, I'm sure what everybody's wondering is like, so what, right. Like, does it lead to any results? So you've worked on a ton of different chatbots. What kinds of have you seen them produce? Yiz (35:41): So I've worked, like I said, about like about 50 to 60 companies with chatbots and that could span, like each company could have like between 20 to 30 at least like different chatbots. And it depends on the funnel, but I've seen like what the, if it's on a content piece, if it's a pricing page by page, or if it's I've also seen in used chatbots to weed, to like weed out spam, like there's annoying there's annoying sort of contact like emails. You get, somebody submitted a form, but they want to guest post, or they want to, they had not had an SEO agency or something like that. So I've used chatbots. So you have a lot more, a lot less spam in your email. You can also use it to for demo requests to basically just book a meeting straight away. And so I've seen higher conversion rates on that as well. We got a lot more meetings based off that what I tend to see, in general is that the not, I've never seen a conversion rate go less than 10% of people that use chatbots. Your main problem is engagement. So usually your, your rate will be about six to 15, between 6% to about 15% you're doing. Kathleen (37:08): Six to 15% of the people who come to your website? Yiz (37:11): Yeah. Kathleen (37:11): That's actually really good because in my experience, the benchmark for like visitor to lead conversion on a typical website is like one to 2%. And if you're getting six to 15% of people engaging with a chatbot, that's pretty massive. Yiz (37:27): Yeah. It's because you're essentially in it. It might seem a little bit too good to be true. But if you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense because you're getting the person while they're in that, like I said, it's real time marketing automation. So you're getting somebody while they're in the zone looking for something right now, and you're accelerating that process. You're giving them exactly what they need to know now and what they need to know next. Right. So while they're in that mode, then not what let's say, 20, 30 minutes. So however long they're spending on your website, they have the ability to get everything they need to know in one session or two or three sessions, how are doing so you're accelerating the entire process. So you do see, you do see a lot shorter sales times as well. So right from first contact to actual to a lead being generated or to an actual, depending on your actual like sales funnel itself. Yiz (38:22): But you do see shorter time like sales times and, and you do, and it also qualifies them so that if you do it right, so you're getting them, you're getting them not only informed that you're also getting them passionate. They're conversing with you right now in a non salesy way about something that they're interested right now, not something that they spoke about two days ago or a day ago, even like six hours ago before they get their first marketing automation, email the sequence. So you get them while they're fully energized for that research. And so you accelerate it and you get higher intent. Kathleen (38:58): I think one of the, my favorite things that you've said is about what you can learn from the chatbot, because I was really just interested to hear your approach that early on you let people do more free typing and, and there's so much rich information in there about what they're really interested in. Cause I think that's, I feel like what a lot of people struggle with when they build a chatbot it's you kind of have to assume, you know, what somebody wants, right. If you're going to try to supply all the answers and build all the branches and not allow any free typing, there's a lot of assumptions that go into that. But if you're able to do the free typing thing, then it seems like an amazing source for audience research. Yiz (39:36): Yeah. It's incredible what you can understand and how you can then use that information to, to also tailor your landing pages, because they're asking you, they're telling you exactly what they're looking for. So you get enough qualitative data without actually having to really survey them in a way that feels like surveying them. They're giving you that information and then you can go back and also tailor your landing pages. So your chatbot process can actually help your entire content strategy and your landing page strategy. Kathleen (40:07): That's a great point. So you've mentioned two different platforms for chatbots. You mentioned Drift. You mentioned HubSpot. Do you have any favorite platforms or are there certain favorites for certain use cases? Yiz (40:24): So I haven't had extensive use of Drift, but it is my favorite nonetheless. First of all, it integrates nicely with HubSpot itself. So you get that in there, but also they have an an AI add-on that allows you to get like really good like interpretations from like the semantics of what people are writing. So you can actually, even as you develop, you can allow a lot more free writing and still being able to create a lot of sophisticated branches based off that. And then they also have like Drift video and they have like their system tied into that. You can end up sending them back like an actual personalized video afterwards as well. So I do enjoy them a lot more. They are in terms of just shot that definitely. Definitely my favorite. I like HubSpot just because it's one, it's like one interface that I have to deal with. I don't like using multiple programs when I can use one. Kathleen (41:30): A free tool HubSpot is pretty good. Yeah. Yiz (41:34): Even the free Drift doesn't give you like a chatbot, like, but HubSpot does. So it is very good for free chat. And it's just that if you want to get, like, I think you need Service Hub or Professional. Kathleen (41:53): I think Marketing Free has it too. Yiz (41:53): All of the Free's have it. I think you need, to get the branches, you need either Professional or Enterprise. And it comes out to be more expensive than you would get for paying for Drift, but you do also get a lot more. Kathleen (42:07): Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I guess it depends. I always say to people like what marketing automation are you using? Because if you already have HubSpot professional, start out with it. So with that chatbot, you know, get your feet wet, see, you know, and play around with it. And then when you feel like you're comfortable, when you start to bump up into limitations, then look at Drift because it definitely does have more functionality. But yeah, there's, there's so many tools now available. Yiz (42:35): Yeah. The one thing that I do like about Drift, which I also saw on Intercom. I, I've never really used, I've only been like I've only been on the chatting end of Intercom, but is that from the user side, you can see your past chats and you can continue them to that extent on HubSpot and Intercom, which means that if you do get cut off, you can just restart where you're up to. And then whoever takes over from that chat, they can just read the chat, going back instead of having to restart your conversation over and over again for support requests, for sure. Even for, even for other requests, like if I'm on HubSpot and then I need to get off the computer for awhile. And so I leave and I come back in an hour, I have to then re-explain to another, to another rep, what I'm looking for, what my question is and and go through the entire process again. Whereas with Drift, I can just click that conversation that I left off with and just basically restart saying, I want to continue this again or ask another question to restart, ask the person to just read the previous chat, to get, to get context. And then you continue from where you left off. And that's an incredible user expense. Kathleen (43:55): That's a very good point. Well, I think we can talk about this forever, but we do not have forever. So I'm gonna shift gears and ask you the two questions. I always ask my guests. The first one being, we talk a lot about inbound marketing and this podcast. Is there a particular company or individual that you think is really knocking it out of the park when it comes to how they're doing inbound marketing? Yiz (44:15): So I have a few people that I think so that, that are doing inbound really well. They're actually on LinkedIn. I don't know if they do other things outside of LinkedIn, but the main company is thinking one of them is a guy named Alex Sheridan. So what I like about what he does is that he solves your problems while showcasing exactly what he offers. So he, his whole offering is based around the creativity that he can give you and your business on LinkedIn or in video in general. And what he does is that he has different formulas for a lot of the different videos. So you can see that he's not repeating the same formula. So what he does, he actually educate you about how to use the platform. And he also educates you with his content on video different, different things that you shouldn't shouldn't be doing. Yiz (45:15): So he uses that, but he also does it in a way that's really creative. So you not just get the information that you need, but you also then see while he's doing that exactly that he can actually fulfill his promise, which is being creative in video in an incredibly intense fashion. He, when you watch his videos, there is an emotion behind the doc. I always use, I, I leave every single one of his videos, thoroughly entertained and really informed. And so, and I, so I, he does also, I'm also subscribed to his email and that was because I really enjoyed his he's actual his, his videos. And I get a lot of information from that as well. So I don't, I don't know what his success is, but I think he has basically put his entire solution throughout his process. So all his, what he offers is throughout his entire, like, is that from the beginning stage, from track, all the way to close, you can see in an action as you're researching what you're looking for. And it also has a bit of demand generation there as well, because he's also talking to people who aren't necessarily looking for his product right now. And you can sort of when you watch his video or a few of his videos, you get this belief that he can do the same thing for you. Kathleen (46:38): Yeah, that's cool. All right. I'll have to check him out. And you mentioned you might have a few others as well. Yiz (46:44): So another one is that I really like is a content writer by the name of James Lorraine. I don't know how to pronounce it. So what he does as well is that he rewrites, he has a whole section on LinkedIn called LinkedIn ad rewrites. And what he does is that he takes a piece of copy. That's predominantly boring, and he writes it in a way that's engaging. And again, it's very entertaining. You see his craft, he explains what he's doing, and you can see his craft in action. And you can know, like while you're looking at what he's doing, you know, he can do the same thing for you if you gave him the chance. That sounds great. I love it. So I liked that sort of combination of showcase, not just informing people, but entertaining and inspiring them, and also seeing it as much as an action in time throughout the entire process, which means that connect to what he's doing even while you're in the earliest stages. Yeah. Kathleen (47:49): That makes a ton of sense. So one of the other questions I'd like to ask is, you know, the world of digital marketing changes really quickly, and it can be very hard to keep up. So how do you personally stay educated? And on top of all of the many changes that are happening Yiz (48:05): That is a really good question. So I wish I could say I listened to tons of podcasts. I do not. I don't have so much time in my day for that. A lot of it is I read I, I follow like Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Marketing. So I read a lot of that. I listen, I follow a few key influences as well. And I tend to like look at some of my industry industry sort of like articles, like I said, like just search engine marketing, stuff like that. I listened to some podcasts. I like the ones with interviews a lot more because they tend to sort of have multiple different opinions and you can see where they agree that it's where they agree on a single point. You can see that, that it actually, that it's not just one person's opinion. You can see that it's actually spreading a little bit more. So I get a lot of benefit from that and I experiment with different things. Kathleen (49:06): Yeah. Learning by doing that's the best way to do it, I think, but not everybody learns that way. We all learn differently. So that's great. Well, this has been super interesting. If somebody wants to ask you a question, reach out, learn more, what's the best way for them to connect with you online? Yiz (49:24): Just message me on LinkedIn is really the best way. I'm there every day. I spend a few hours on it and I'm always happy to answer questions. Kathleen (49:32): Great. And I'll put the, the link to your LinkedIn profile in the show notes. So head there if you want to check that out. And if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, you learned something new, I would love it if you would head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. And in the meantime, if you know somebody else doing amazing inbound marketing work, send me a tweet at @workmommywork, and I would love to make that person my next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much for joining me Yiz. This was a lot of fun. Yiz (50:04): Thanks for having me. It was a blast.  

    Ep. 194: How content can improve the customer journey and drive pipeline Ft. Helen Baptist of PathFactory

    Play Episode Listen Later May 10, 2021 47:30


    You've invested the time and money to create great marketing content. How can you use it to directly influence customer experience and drive pipeline growth? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, PathFactory COO shares her perspective on how brands can create content experiences that improve the customer journey, shorten sales cycles, and close more deals, faster. With so many brands now investing heavily in content and inbound marketing, there's a massive opportunity to do more with our content. That's exactly what PathFactory is solving for.  Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear what Helen has to say. Resources from this episode: Visit the PathFactory website Follow Helen on Twitter Connect with Helen on LinkedIn Email helen at helen [@] pathfactory.com Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and today I am excited to share that my guest is Helen Baptist, who is the COO of Path Factory. Welcome to the podcast, Helen. Helen (00:26): Thanks Kathleen. I've long admired you and your, your journey. So I'm thrilled to actually spend some time with you. Kathleen (00:32): I feel like this is incredibly overdue because I have known you for a really long time and you are doing just amazing work as a marketer. Path Factory is growing like gangbusters, and this is a classic case of, of, I, for some reason it has felt like I must've already interviewed you, but I didn't. And so when I finally thought about it, I was like, how have I not had her on this podcast? So it's about time. It's about time we did this. Helen (01:00): Yeah. And likewise, I've followed you for a while and I, you know, you're, you're a mighty woman in terms of the things that you do. And I admire you across the board as a single contributor, you know, first person in on a company I'm doing all the marketing that you're doing and coordinating everything and then, you know, standing up podcasts and keeping that running and, you know, your posts on LinkedIn are prolific and I aspire to be like you one day, but I just don't have that kind of, and with an energy is what I would say. You're probably a lot younger than me. Kathleen (01:30): I actually, I don't think so. I think I'm, I think I'm just crazy. I bite off more than I can chew all the time and whatever I, then I have to figure out how to swallow it whole yeah. You muscle through. But but you're so sweet to say those kinds of things. And I am really, really excited for our topic today because I feel like my audience has a lot of people in it who are pretty experienced with marketing. And I always tell my prospective guests, like the basic topics don't do well with these people. They know what they're doing. Like they, for example, content marketing, this is an inbound marketing podcast. They know a content marketing is they are producing content. And so I always love when I get to talk to people who enable me to dive in a level deeper and, and really think about kind of, so you've mastered the basics then what, right. Kathleen (02:18): And that is totally what this is about because you guys do some interesting things at Path Factory. The product is interesting. So I'm going to ask you to just start out, first of all, by sharing your story, because you're a unique guest in the sense that you're not just a head of marketing, you're a chief operating officer who, who is also a head of marketing. So if you could talk a little bit about yourself and your journey and how you wound up doing what you're doing, but then also tell us a little bit more about what Path Factory is. Helen (02:44): Yeah. And I, I think it's an interesting perspective because I actually started as a secretary at an advertising agency. Kathleen (02:50): Oh my God, it's working girl, the movie. Yeah. Helen (02:53): You know, I'm not going to start singing, but you know, I think the the, the, the rise to where I am has been a long journey and there've been a lot of people who've lifted me up and helped me get there. The, the, you know, the first position after being a secretary, I helped with RFPs, believe it or not at the agency, we won Ikea at the time, back in late early nineties. And th you know, this idea of one-to-one marketing or direct marketing as it was called back then in the true sense of, you know, it wasn't male, right. Primarily really fascinated me because it was below the line in terms of it wasn't all TV advertising. It wasn't meant it was measurable. Right. And so my career has really been around things that are measurable and outcomes that you can actually point your finger to, and be proud of. Helen (03:45): Like, yes, it's great that you have a TV commercial, but what, what did it actually do for the business? And so that was my passion coming into this arena when I first joined. And that's exactly what I do now. Right. I think that the difference now is that I see the entire customer life cycle from marketing through to, you know, customer success and churn, which is like acquisition to out of the back door and stopping the leaky bucket. And how does that infinity of going back and forth really play together so that you can scale your organization so that you can become these growth machines that the, you know, the, the, the private equity and the VC firms are looking for. I'm not in the legend status of some of our colleagues in the, you know, the CMO coffee talks, but I have a pretty good track record for the investors. Helen (04:33): This is my third ride with the same CEO. The same PE firm has jettisoned us in and you know, really helped break down silos that really exist between marketing and sales and CX so that we can be much more fluid and grow the business organically with the ones that we already have customers we already have, but then acquire new logos based on the successes of what we, what stories we have. So that's kind of the view that I have and rev ops reports to me, BDRs report to me like, Oh, the whole revenue bag I carry as a burden for the organization, but, but, you know, I'm proud of the team. We've, we've had record busting quarters, four quarters in a row. Our retention rate is through the roof both on gross and net and, and, you know, that's a Testament to the team that's behind me and working with me and it's a team effort. It's not just an individual sport kind of thing. Kathleen (05:31): I was going to say, how do you handle all of that? Because I know it can be challenging enough just being the head of marketing at a company where growth expectations are really high, but you're heading up marketing sales and customer success or customer experience. So how, I mean, did you, did you do stints in each of those areas? Like how did you get to the point where you were able to effectively oversee all of that? Yeah, I think it goes back to Helen (05:58): Agency land, right? I did marketing for customers. In my earlier days, I ran loyalty programs for British airways as, as their vendor, if you will. And some other major companies I've been out on the client side, I worked as a consultant for AARP, and I was an employee there for awhile, large organization for people over 50, because I was going to be 51 day and thought I could change the world. And anyway, that's come and gone 50, by the way, Kathleen (06:26): Let's say it's 50 felt like it was really, really, really far away until it wasn't exactly. Helen (06:33): And then hit 55 and it's even more further away. The, the other side of it is, is, you know, on the CX side, you learn that from managing relationships when you're on a bet, you know, when you're a vendor or a partner the, the one thing that is really interesting is tying the sales motions with the CX motions and really understanding the interplay and the levers that you can pull to really drive organic growth. You know, customer advocacy, customer marketing, I think is probably one of the most underrated marketing functions, and probably the least respected in terms of, you know, everybody's looking for DG people or, you know, ABM people or whatever that, that's what the market is hot for. But I think this idea of really leveraging your customer base to tell the story for you versus you shouting that we're the best is the way that we've grown a lot of our business. Kathleen (07:29): That's so great. So, so tell me a little bit about what Path Factory does. Helen (07:33): Yeah. So Path Factory is currently known as a content experience platform. You know, we serve up frictionless content experiences that, you know, people can consume as much content as they want. We know people are doing research to buy things. Our customers are B2B marketers, and they're trying to provide an, an, an experience that allows me or you to explore as much as we want to, as frequently as we want to, and then know where you are in the sales cycle. So there's these, there's these intent databases that we can buy, right? That are, what did you look at across the web? That's a source of intent, but I think this idea of what topics and you know, taxonomies are you really looking at really tell you where you might be in the buying cycle? I, you know, one of our big customers or our big customers are Cisco, Adobe, Oracle, these guys are selling multiple products and how do they know what sales motion should play? Helen (08:28): Right. they, they manage their partner relationships through us. So they they're really, you know, serving up the right content at the right time and the right stage of the buying cycle or the customer life cycle or the partners life cycle, or even the employee life cycle with people using us for HR engagement as well. And so I think this idea of, you know, making sure that your omni-channel and understanding your content and what's how it's performing and how it's driving revenue really is like the ultimate. We can put all the outbound messaging we ever want, but people have to consume something. Right. and rather than stopping at a dead end or a form, let's, let's do some testing around how far do we let people read a white paper, a Gartner report? Yeah. I said Gartner you know, how, how far do you let people read before you engage them with a form, if you want to use forms. Right. so this idea of really testing and learning where people are and how much information you can collect in the life cycle, that their content journey with you is what Path Factory helps. Kathleen (09:37): So, as I listened to you talk about this, what comes to my mind is that, and you tell me if this is accurate, it sounds like you guys are like the Netflix or the Spotify for content in the sense that, like, I go to Netflix and Spotify and it's watching what I'm doing. And it's then using its artificial intelligence engine to like dynamically serve up something that makes sense as a next step. And it sort of, it, it like incentivizes me to binge to like go down that rabbit hole and follow it wherever it's going to go. And is that, is that fairly accurate or, Helen (10:15): Yeah, I think that that's the one side of the coin that we offer, and that has been our primary emphasis. This idea of an intelligent content platform is where we're moving towards and this idea of really understanding the construct of your content, the attributes of your content. So if you go and buy, you know, a can of Coca-Cola, you know, all the attributes of that can of Coca-Cola, there's called what's called the, you know, the, the nutrition panel is on there. And so you really do understand the construct of that can of Coca-Cola in terms of what's in it, most marketers don't know what's inside their content. And so this idea of really understanding the attributes of your content, the effectiveness of those attributes, are you compliant? Are you SEO for accessibility, for example, are you optimized for SEO for your keywords that you're picking? Helen (11:03): Does your content reflect that? And so this idea of really understanding your content much more holistically first, or even retroactively, because most marketers walk in and they've got hundreds of thousands of web pages and they've got thousands, right. And most marketers life cycle is what, 18 to 24 months. They better pretty ha have a pretty big impact pretty quickly. So this idea of you really don't know what's working and what it's made up of and why it's not working is where we're moving towards. I think serious decision, you know, and released a report recently that said 14% of CMOs understand what content they have, which is pretty scary, the amount of money that is spent on content, right? Whether it's a video, whether it's a syndication or whether it's syndicated content, or even your own people, writing content copywriters, as they were known back in the day now, fancy name of content writers you know, they, nobody really has this good handle on what is content and what is good content. And how long should it be sitting out there in public? What's the decay factor of your content is really the insights that we're starting to deliver for our customers. I'm pretty jazzed about it. We've stolen some plays from the CPG industry and applied those back into B2B markets. Kathleen (12:17): I think it's so cool because I have long felt, and I've been guilty of this that, you know, when you think about the Pareto principle, the 80 20 you know, I've, I have long believed that 20% of your effort should go into creating the content and then 80% should go into promoting it and, you know, going back and historically optimizing it and just like all the things you do with it once it's written. But unfortunately, I think for most marketers, it's probably the exact reverse. We, we pour a ton of time and attention into creating it. And I mean, guilty as charged, I'm doing that right now, but that's also because I'm kind of early on at a company and we have to sort of now it's about building the foundation, but, but there, you know, a couple, a couple of companies ago, I was working at impact, which is where I first met you. And there is a place that has tons and tons of content. And I, you know, I'll give credit where credit is due to Bob. Who's the CEO there, he's always had a big emphasis on things like historical optimization, but even still, it's very hard, even when you have a strategy to do those things, it's very hard to keep track of it all. And it inevitably becomes an insanely manual process. And so having a tool like this that can kind of figure it out for you is huge. Helen (13:27): Yeah. And think, think about it like a content audit, right? Like baseline your, do you have alt text on your OG images? Do you have actual titles on your OG images? Like, do you have OG images on your, your assets that you're trying to use for digital and and so this idea of kind of really baseline understanding of what you actually have and is it optimized for step? Is it too hard to read? What's the readability score? And then the topics of taxonomy that are below that and what, how much content do you have in a word cloud in one topic, are you overloaded versus where you want to go? And so this idea of really optimizing logically you know, the content that you have is something that we're working towards. I think the, you know, I think we were on a coffee talk one time, and one person said, well, we have 240,000 pieces of assets, assets of content. Helen (14:17): And there was a 2005 price list on there. That's not really relevant for my sales team so, so like, how do you make sure that you are decaying, what you should decay? And you are understand when the lifeline is what the lifeline is. A lifespan of that piece of content is I was talking to my product manager the other day. And he said, you know, I, when I was at, you know, the company before this, I was the marketing manager and I'd paid lots of money to syndicate a white paper. And it was $80,000. And I got two leads out of it. The decay on that was two days I should have just stopped paying for it. Instead we went and renewed it again. And so had I had that insight, I would have stopped and saved myself $80,000 and applied that somewhere else. So did he buy it properly in the first place? Probably not. Cause he didn't look at it in relation to what other things were working for him. So I think, you know, content is kind of a, it's not something that people talk about a lot. We talk a lot about the motions, right? DG, ABM, but what is actually behind that is structured content data. Kathleen (15:25): Yeah, and you pour your heart and soul and your money and your time into creating it. And then if you don't take advantage of it, shame on you. Right. it, I'm curious to hear you talk about like, as somebody who oversees also customer experience and sales, you know, better than anyone, you know, from a marketing standpoint that all of this content creation is in service to those two things, right? Like it's about the customer journey and it's about driving pipeline. So I would love to hear a little bit about how you in your marketing have, and I'm sure you're using some of your own tools, how you have handle that and what your approach is. And side note, if it sounds really crazy while we're recording it's because all of a sudden in April, there is a, like a tiny hail storm happening. So there's like a lot of noise outside my window. So if you're listening and you hear this thunderous sound, that's, that's what it is. Helen (16:21): You can't hear it. So maybe it's not being picked up, but I'm sure that you'll be safe with a, with a hailstorm in April. Is that an April fool's joke? It's April 1st as we're recording. Kathleen (16:30): Well, that's a whole nother topic. Crazy, crazy weather. Helen (16:33): So I think the, you know, the first thing that I do when I typically go into an organization and cause I look at the customer experience from the outside in what is the customer journey that we are delivering. Once somebody raises their hand through to the time that they expire with us and expire is capital E not that they've passed away, but the contract is gone, right. I used to work at ARP and we'd talk about it anyway. The, you know, the, the, the really understanding the touch points and the impacts that you really want to have. So the first thing we do when somebody signs a contract with us is within 15 minutes an email from the CMO goes, Oh, sorry, the CEO goes to the stock, the contract signers on the, you know, the right contact roles inside Salesforce. Helen (17:20): That was a challenge in its own, right? Cleaning up data in the database so that you can do effective marketing. But I think this idea of not just customer marketing or, you know, dummy branded demand, let's put it up at the front there, whether it's ABM demand gen or traditional ways of doing things. But this idea of, you know, tying the two together for this contiguous sales motion, right. That somebody feels good at any given stage that we're in the sales motion with them. So part of our, our, our, our sale motion is we do a mutual action plan with the customer, and it's not to the end of the contract it's to the end of their first compelling event, whatever that is first campaign, they want to get out in the marketplace, but also for that individual, what do they want to get? Helen (18:05): Do they want to be on stage? So they want to speak so that we can leverage that for advocacy to fill our pipeline with stories from customers, right? So it's a sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The, the, you know, I can't do an AB test with, or without Path Factory at Path Factory. But I was a customer of Path Factory before I joined here at my last company at item master, which got acquired. And we've done some really cool work with some customers where we're actually tying CRM data to you know, be with Path Factory without Path Factory, to really understand the revenue impact for content engagement. When, when people do traditional marketing without Path Factory, we see a slower, slower closed, no loss closed, lost faster close, yes. When they use Path Factory faster, close, no, because, so then the rep can move on to their next sales motion set and sales attack, whatever they want to do. Helen (19:10): And we're seeing, you know, people really become creative around, you know, does it work for a specific segment, like my SMB, where it's it's product led growth. And I don't want to high touch with lots of sales reps versus an enterprise play, which is much more, you know, journal journalistic in terms of the journey that you're on with them. We, we understand completely which area of the funnel drives, which segment for us. So for example, for example, our customers who buy from us in the enterprise segment typically engage with at least two to three pieces of top of funnel content in over a period of two sessions versus you know, the SMB team is typically middle to bottom of funnel, creative content which, which is really interesting. It helps me make sure that we are building the right pipeline efforts to, to, to create demand and leads and contacts and that kind of thing for the two segments that I oversee. And that's, those insights are pretty profound when, you know, what kind of content people want and what makes them buy. Kathleen (20:26): So are you using the intelligence that you're getting out of it to develop your editorial calendar then? Helen (20:29): Yeah. And that, and I think that's the other part is what, what topics, what taxonomy is really resonating with a specific vertical or a specific type of customer or a segment, right. And, and those are the insights and Intel that, that content audit really can help us with and really is helping build kind of this more true marketing campaign, marketing calendar kind of thing. Kathleen (20:53): And do you, are you able to look at the data that you're extracting from the product in terms of actual content consumption habits? And, and I know you can like retroactively look and say, like, you just had like two pieces of content for enterprise, top of funnel. That's a good lead, but do you, is there any sort of almost predictive element to it where you're like, I'm seeing that this prospect is enterprise and has like started going down that top of funnel path. And so, Hey, that should kick off like some outreach from the sales team. Helen (21:26): It hasn't gotten to that stage, but that's the desired end goal. Right. I think the, you know, this idea of Netflix is, is that you have a destination that you go to and you, you get served up the right recommendations for you. So, you know, I don't do horrors. I do, you know, Downton Abbey. Downton Abbey and, and Reign, and, all those British dramas. Kathleen (21:47): Okay, so then recommendation, we're going to digress for one second. You should watch Home Fires. If you're into the masterpiece theater, Downton Abbey kind of stuff, Home Fires, great show. Helen (21:57): I'm writing it down. Kathleen (21:58): I'm giving TV show recommendations right now, but this is what we do in the pandemic, right. It's all Netflix and chill. Helen (22:03): Yeah. Well, not in the true sense, but anyway the, the, the idea that a sales rep can actually see what that person has consumed. Absolutely. That is one of our key differentiators. We have, you know, the ability to send alerts from our marketing automation platforms. And we do when somebody is a fast moving buyer where they've consumed the content criteria, scoring that we've set in Path Factory, as well as met the required that, you know, the lead scoring inside of marketing automation. But this idea of serving up the next best content is based on, you have to go to a destination at the moment, right? And so our website website tools functionality allows for that to happen in more, more and more real time. And I think we have like seven or eight different types of recommendation services based on the account you're coming from, based on people like you, meaning you're coming with firmographic data not necessarily account, right? Helen (23:02): So people who are in, you know, $50 million companies or even industries. So this idea of serving up content based on your history, based on what you've viewed in the past, there's lots of different ways. Those recommends can work, how you serve them, how you manifest them can be done. Two ways with us. One is out of the box. We have to, you know what I would call PR web promoters, one's called guide. One's called concierge more like a resource center page. Th the other is the, we have an API. So for large enterprise customers, we know that they're not going to buy those out of the box visualizations. They have their own CSS. So we are going to serve them up an API that they can then create, we'll get the engagement data back. We'll tell them what kind of contents working for them. Kathleen (23:47): So I love the idea of this, and I can totally see the use case. The one question I have is like, when you first put it in place, I'm like, I'm going to put my hat on as though I were still back at impact where we had tons and tons and tons of content. Like if we decide we're going to put Path Factory in place, we want to do sort of more of a content driven customer journey. How hard is it to set up? Because it, like, I am, I can see on the one hand, it could be amazingly difficult where you're like, we have to classify all this content and, and tag it to different buyers or stages of the buyer's journey. Or is it like all automatic magic, press the button, does it for you. Helen (24:24): Well there's two there's two ways, right? Helen (24:26): Obviously data ingestion, content ingestion is, is our core competency, right? We've been around for 14, almost 14 years, I think. So understanding content is really one of our core competencies to set up is, I mean, it depends how far you want to go. We do crawl walk runs, right? Depending on the severity and the, and the maturity of the marketer depending on whether they want to integrate with their marketing automation platform, depending on whether they want to integrate with their CRM, there's all these other considerations, but to get going, it's pretty darn easy, especially if it's your website, it's a tracking script. And you know, that's, that's a JavaScript copy paste out of our, our platform and put it on your pages and away we go, we can scrape your data and understand that we can also understand how your, your visitors known or unknown are tracking against that combine the two together. And it becomes very powerful, but this idea of really understanding your content is the first step. And, and a lot of customers don't know that because it's relatively new concept. So we're, we're, we're testing it out right now. And I'm pretty psyched about the possibilities of that stuff. Kathleen (25:32): I mean, why I get so excited about this in part, because I'm just a big marketing nerd, but also in part, because I, I do talk a lot publicly about how I believe that marketers need to think more like media companies and like your con, you need to treat your content like a product. And, you know, it's funny because like the media world is struggling. Journalists, journalism is struggling, but I think it's for the opposite reason, like they have great content, but they just don't have like the marketing mindset that, that we do. And I feel like if we could all meet in the middle, we would have the perfect organization. But you know, and when I was at impact, I was working on just that building a media company around a company that was selling B2B products. And what's interesting to me about this is at the time I really struggled as head of marketing because like, I got the need to think like a media company, but there were not software tools available to me to support my ability to do that. Kathleen (26:39): So I had marketing automation in place, and that was great. But one example, like it didn't let me generate reports of content performance by author, which like blew my mind. I just, that was such a, it's such a small detail, but I was like that, that is odd that they don't do that. And it would be insanely useful. Cause I had a lot of writers working with me and I was like, I just want to be able to report to them how their content is doing. So that was like, that was the thing that initially kind of caused me to go out, searching for another solution. And then as I started doing research into all these different platforms, I realized how much more there was that I was missing out on in terms of reporting on what my content was doing for me. You know a lot of what you mentioned, like really, how is it contributing to pipeline? Kathleen (27:25): What is this? This also blew my mind because I've been a HubSpot user forever and, and HubSpot has all the data to basically tell you if, if it wanted to, what a closed won customer's content journey was, right? Like, you should be able to clearly see that. And you can, if you, if you like manually go into each customer's timeline, but who's going to do that, especially when you're operating at scale. And so this is one of the reasons I love talking about this because the need has to me, at least so clearly been there for so long. And it's fascinating that nobody has come in to fill the gap, but it sounds like that's what you guys are doing. Helen (28:03): Yeah. And I think the key is, is that there's these early adopters, you know, the Jeffrey Moore book Crossing the Chasm. Right. And I think of you as in that early adopter and really, you know, leaning in forward edge thinking woman, I, I think people have taken content for granted. It feels kind of like the ugly stepchild that nobody pays attention to, but it's kind of the sexiest thing that people put out. Right. and, and it really is definitive of your brand and the personas that you are talking to and, and who you want to be as a brand as well. And yet people don't know what's effective or working. And it drives me crazy that, you know, I've got people creating content for the sake of creating content because we need to build pipeline. Well, what content should we build? And I think this is this idea of sitting between kind of the CDPs. The CMS is right. The content management systems, the DAMs, even sitting between those and the activation layers, whatever you want to call that, whether you want to call that marketing automation platforms, ABM platforms, even us to some degree, we're an activation layer, but this middle piece in between what is my content finished artifacts and what do they look like and how good are they and how do they perform is not really owned by anybody at the moment. And that's what we're working towards. Kathleen (29:29): Well, and I think I'm just guessing, but I would be willing to bet that there are probably a lot of marketers that actually don't want to answer that question because they're not going to like what they see. Like when you talked about content kind of not getting the attention it deserves. I totally agree with you. And I would liken it to like, the approach we've taken with content is somebody once told us we should do it. Right. And so as an industry, I it's like a game of darts. We were like, somebody said, you should play darts. And so we went and we got to the dark board and we picked up a handful of really pretty crummy, cheap darts that don't work well. And we took the handful and we threw it, all of them at the board at once. It's like, okay, check. Kathleen (30:10): We've created content. I'm done. Now make it rain. Right. yeah, I would venture to guess it's sort of the same conversation that happens around when you talk to marketers about, do you want to be judged on the revenue or in the pipeline you drive, or do you want to be judged on leads? A lot of marketers are like, don't open that can of worms. That's going to start a whole conversation. I don't want to get into. And and, but it, but it reinforced not talking about it reinforces the status quo, which is, there's a lot of really content out there. Helen (30:45): Yeah. And I, you know, this idea of revenue marketing as opposed to, you know, to demand generation and then customer marketing as two separate entities. My purview is it's revenue marketing. It doesn't matter. It's sales and marketing together to the end of revenue. And I put sales, you know, CS does, has CS customer success has responsibilities for bags too. Right. in terms of carrying a bag on that, you know, the, the, the retained revenue, if you will particularly in a SAS model. And, and so this, to your point, my, my, my hypothesis is that there is a FUD out there that CMOs won't admit to, which is, I don't know if I really want to open that can totally, what is my content, right? But I think if you can do it in a safe and prescriptive way that they can then make informed decisions on, around building their revising, revitalizing, optimizing their content strategy, sunsetting things that are not working quietly, without everybody knowing that they're sunsetting them paying smarter for contents indication, they become a more efficient. Helen (31:52): And I think that the impact is both top line and bottom line. They're spending how much money with writers, creating content to what end, you know, I was talking to a customer at an enterprise account the other day. And he said, I have spent more than $5 million already this year on content creation. Wow. And that kind of blew my mind. Cause you know, I work with small that's company just on content. Right. And, and, and I was like, so how do you know what's if he says, if you could tell me what was efficient and effective, I would love you forever because I could slash and burn and put, do outbound activation stuff. So there's this, this two-sided coin of driving top-line and saving on the bottom line. Right. Cost efficiencies in this play that we've got. Kathleen (32:41): I was going to say, I like, I know it works and I know it's worth investing in because I have, I mean, heck I've interviewed a ton of marketers for this podcast. I've heard a lot of stories, but then I've also done some experimenting on my own. And I've seen countless examples of people who have like done away with 70% of their blog content because they know it's not serving them and it's not performing and they sunset it, as you said, and then what's left actually performs so much better because it's all high quality, it's all directly into the pain points and the challenges of other, other audience. And so like what a, what a low hanging fruit way to get better results. It's like, it's like Marie Kondo saying your, your content. Helen (33:26): I, I, I think, I think it's, it's twofold. It's making sure that what you do have is discoverable first and foremost, is it hidden so far down in back channels of the, the, you know, the dirt dirty dark alley of blogs or is it a discoverable in its own? Right. And is it valuable? And if it is valuable, then bring it up in discoverability. Right. And, and SEO optimized based on the keywords and the taxonomy that are in there. So I think people, you know, have really what effect story I'll, I'll expose some dirty laundry. When I first walked in, I was like, what content do we have? And it took somebody like, like two months to do an, a content audit. And now if I could run this scraper through your CD, your, your CDP or your CMS, I can give you an answer tomorrow which is kind of, and it's all in dashboards and it's, it's, it's a proof of concept for us and it, but it's pretty darn exciting. I saw some stuff the other day on, on, on our website and it's profound that, you know, the number one word in the cloud in the, in the, you know, the word cloud is landing page. That's not relevant right. For the buyers. So how do we make sure that we have the right words that are, you know, the most prominent ones across things that we're putting out there is awesome. I'm pretty, pretty excited. Kathleen (34:47): I just love it. I love it. I love, I love stuff like this that like makes it easier to do your job while also like it's like helping you squeeze more juice out of the orange that you already have. Helen (35:01): Yeah. And I think it's too full. Like for me, there's like three steps in this lifecycle of content, right. First is really understanding what you have the content audit. So, you know, what's the, what's the nutrition label, look of your product. What's the discoverability, what's the SEO optimization path for that content that you have? Is it accessible? Do you have the right alt text on, do your, do your, you know, do you have old texts? The second part is, you know, this idea of content performance in its own, right? So content performance is which content is working in which content is resonating with whom demographically from a graphically, et cetera, et cetera, right. Known and unknown. How big is your buying committee? We can see who's consuming what by account. And then the third is your content revenue performance. What content is driving your revenue for you? So tying that to CRM data really allows us to then start to be laser-focused in terms of what to put into the content hopper, what to remove and when to remove it in the licensing. Kathleen (36:06): Cool. This is so exciting. I have a feeling, a lot of people listening are like their ears have perked up, and they're thinking about all the past possibilities of using something like this. And so the question I'm sure everybody has been asking is like, who is this right for? You know, and is it, is it a, an enterprise tool? Is it something that smaller businesses should use like an end or is it, is your applicability as a customer determined by the volume of content you have? Or how do you determine that? Helen (36:37): I think it's all of the above. I think, you know, we have, we have a ton of SMB customers who are using us today, who aren't doing this content audit piece yet. Like I said, proof of concept, it's coming, stay tuned. But this, but we have a lot of people on our platform who are running content, who are either manually curating based on their best intuition or they're using our AI technology recommending a Netflix. And I think the other part of it is our activation side has three levels of activation, right? We have this website tools that I talked about, which is always on recommendation, serve up your content the way you want to understand the journey, et cetera. We have our legacy platform called module called campaign tools, which is campaign centric. So send out an email, you social bounce people back to Path Factory pages, and you have the list of content that's applicable, either curated or manually or curated by a human or curated by the machine. Helen (37:34): Does it, the other part of it is when we, we had this ask from customers that want it to see this unified vision of my customer in my content journey. So we were asked to build a virtual event platform at the beginning of the pandemic, and that's not our wheelhouse, and there are a lot bigger companies in there. But I think the difference is is that people who are doing campaigns can now see whether somebody is coming for an event. They can see whether they're consuming the same content in two places, two experiences to, you know, to messages. And they can then see if they're seeing it on the website as well. This idea of a unified vision of your customer across all marketing channels. Kathleen (38:10): Yeah. It's a holistic customer journey. Not like, not like just the part of the customer journey that I care about. Yeah. Helen (38:18): And it's, and it's a complete comprehensive content journey too. So if you're serving up recommendations on one page or you serving up the same recommendation when they're doing a campaign, the answer should be no, they should be the next best or the most related to whatever that interest was or whether it was their history or their firmographic data. So this idea of, you know, serving up relevant content becomes much more pure in the way that you and I would think about serving it up as opposed to, you know, one-to-one in the 19, 1990s and two thousands with Don, Don peppers and Rogers, you know, peppers and Rogers. I worked with them, they were the, the grandfather and grandmother of one-to-one, but I think this vision is now really coming to life. Kathleen (38:56): That's really cool. The possibilities are kind of amazing when you think about it. I'm going to shift gears because we're gonna run out of time and I could talk about this forever. So I always ask my guests two questions, and I'm really curious to hear what you have to say first is that, of course we talk, this is the inbound success podcast. We talk all about inbound marketing, and I'm always interested to hear if there's a particular individual or a company that you think is really like setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days. Helen (39:27): Yeah. And I, I tried to look at it from two lenses. One was, what do I get? Right. But I've worked in MarTech. And so I'm a bit more cynical about what's coming into me. And then I, you know, the, the, I tried to look at it from a customer perspective, cause I'm always customer centric is the way that I look at the world. I don't look at inbound, you know, inside out I look outside in. And so I think, you know, a couple of our customers are doing some really great work and I'm going to shout them out. So Druva is a company that I really respect in terms of the work they're doing. They're doing some really nice things on their website. Druva.Com. Pragmatic and Pragmatic Institute. And a lot of people who are in product management probably know that company, they are the people that you can get your product management certification through. Helen (40:14): They've been doing some really cool things. They've obviously had to pivot from in-person training to online training and and change their business model. And I think that they've really adapted nicely to that and they still are growing which is a great sign on the, on the marketing technology side or as a, as a purchaser of software, I think there's a couple one would be gong. I think gong does a really nice job of, and, and Panda doc is another one for signatures and we don't use them. So I'll give them a shout out. They, they do a nice job of really making it human. And I think sometimes we get wrapped around the axles in our own terminologies and, you know, it's the, you know, you're creating a new category, you're creating a new topic or you're creating and we need to have the best terminology, but nobody knows what the hell you're talking about. Helen (41:07): Right? These two, these two companies do a really nice job of putting the human language, basic language that, you know, not Washington post or not the financial times, but it's kind of in between USA today and the Washington Post that the average reader can understand what they're trying to achieve. And I think this idea of, you know, really strong readability scores on content is where I'm laser focused is making sure people understand what we are talking about. I think people need to really sit back and say, is this language that, you know, my fifth grader or my, my five-year-old could understand if I explained it to them while we're pushing them on a swing or something like that, Kathleen (41:46): Examples, those are great. I'm definitely gonna check them out. And there's a few new ones in there that I was not aware of. So I'll put those links in the show notes. And then the second question is that so many marketers I talk to are insanely busy, overwhelmed, and they, a lot of them say that one of the hardest things is just honestly keeping pace with how quickly digital marketing changes, you know, just when you think you've figured out, for example, Facebook, you know, the algorithm changed, but what have you, so how do you personally keep yourself educated, stay up to date and stay current? Helen (42:19): Yeah, like I, I think I'm curious by nature. So I Google a lot. Probably the algorithm for Google is really messed up with me, but I think, you know, I have people who are on my board of directors, my personal board of directors, who I refer to who are not in the same industry at all. I think that that's important. So I have a friend, a very good friend who is the head of CRM and loyalty for Red Lobster. She's B2C. She's not in software. She buys from vendors. So I talked to her a lot. So she's doing some really fun things, obviously with Red Lobster going through the pandemic. And you know, I think there are different communities that I belong to as well. Obviously the CMO Coffee Talk and Last Sip Clubs are of interest to me. Helen (43:07): I belong to probably five other Slack groups that are not my core ballywick, so I belong to MOPS, right. I belong to Customer Success channel. Those are really insightful ways for me to crowdsource intel. But then obviously, you know, there are other books and blogs and things like that that you read. And, you know, you, you've probably heard the list, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time, but I, you know, at the end of the day core principles of operating are the things that keep it grounded for me. So we operate by two credos at Path Factory. Intelligent speed, which means you need to be 80% confident that the decisions that you're making are the right decisions for the company and for the customer and for you that there's no risk to any of those three parties. Helen (44:01): So 80% nobody's ever going to be perfect. So 80% competent that it's the right decision. So that means that gives us grace when there are changes to algos, to new new things, it allows us to test. Right. and the other one is level five leadership, which is Jim Collins' Good to Great philosophy, which is lead with humility. There are no egos at the door to check them. And I don't, and don't read my emails with Tom. I'm, you know, I'm, I'm straight to the point. It's about moving at intelligent speed. If I write. Yes, it means yes. If I write, no, it means no. But I think those two have served us well. They broken down the silos a lot. And, and the other one is not, everybody's invited to every meeting. Like those are the three big ones for us. In terms of you'll be invited when it's right for you to be invited, you'll be filled in and contextualized and, and we'll move from there. Kathleen (45:01): Love don't read my emails with tone. So much gets misread in written form. Helen (45:06): Yeah, I don't write them with tone. Sometimes I do, but then I don't send them. Helen (45:11): I let them sit for 24 hours and then I go back and clean up the tone. But don't read my emails with tone. Don't read my Slack messages with tone. Kathleen (45:19): So good. I'm going to use that. Well, I'm sure there are people listening who are really now want to learn more about Path Factory, or have a question and would love to connect with you. What is the best way for them to find you online? Helen (45:33): A couple of ways, Helen, Helen, at Path Factory. I'll put my email address out there, helen@pathfactory.com. I'm on LinkedIn, I'm on Twitter. I'm on Facebook. Facebook is personal, not professional. Twitter is opinions are my own, take them. Helen (45:52): I do post some business stuff on there, but I have an opinion or two about politics as a relatively new American. And yeah, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm happy to connect. We've got a great community of people who would love to talk to you about us. We've got advocates up the wazoo. NPS is through the roof. And so we're happy to talk to anybody who wants to learn more. Kathleen (46:16): I love it. Well, I'll all of those links to all of those profiles will go in the show notes. So if your listening, head there and you can connect with Helen, you can learn more about Path Factory, and you can check out some of the companies that she mentioned earlier that are good examples of inbound marketing. And if you are listening and you liked this episode as always, I would love it if you would head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. That is how other listeners find us. And finally, if you know somebody else who's doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork because I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much, Helen. This was a ton of fun. Helen (46:55): Thanks Kathleen, for having me. I really appreciate your time and as always much respect for you and what you do. Kathleen (47:00): Oh, right back at ya. Helen (47:02): Cheers.


    Ep. 193: How Doist's unconventional marketing playbook has fueled its growth Ft. Brenna Loury

    Play Episode Listen Later May 3, 2021 47:29


    How has productivity app Doist acquired 25 million customers without tracking KPIs or using paid ads? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Doist Head of Marketing Brenna Loury shares the company's unusual growth story. An all remote company from its start, Doist has experienced steady growth as a result of a clear vision and mission, a product-led approach, and deep empathy for the customer. Today, the company is experiencing 100% year over year organic growth, has more than 50,000 email subscribers, and more than 25 million customers. Incredibly, it wasn't until the past year that they began measuring and tracking KPIs, looking at Google Analytics, or using paid ads. In this episode, Brenna breaks down the three things that are the secrets to Doist's growth. Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear what Brenna has to say. Resources from this episode: Visit the Doist website Follow Brenna on Twitter Connect with Brenna on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:01): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is Brenna Loury, who is the head of marketing at Doist. Welcome to the podcast Brenna. Brenna (00:24): Thank you so much for having me, Kathleen. I'm so excited. Honestly, I have been listening to your podcast all week in preparation and I can't wait to be here. It's such an honor. Thank you. Kathleen (00:35): I'm really excited to talk to you because I am a big fan in general of not always playing by the rules. And so quick preview. What we're going to talk about today is how you can not play by all the rules of marketing and still get great results. But before we do that Brenna, can you tell my audience a little bit about yourself and about Doist? Brenna (01:00): Sure, definitely. So I have been with Doist since pretty much the very beginning of the company. My background. I studied communication and business in college and for one reason or another ended up graduating and then going to live in Chile for a while. And I was working for the Chilean ministry of economy and a program called startup Chile as the head of communications and PR. And that's actually where I ended up meeting Amir who is the founder of Doist. He was participating in the program at the time. And then I left the ministry of economy to go start my own sort of boutique PR firm for tech startups in the Latin American scene. And Amir was one of my first clients with ToDoist. It was about 2012. And he was getting getting ready to launch the first versions of Todoist for iOS and Android. And I was helping on the PR side of things. So that's how I got involved with Doist and have worn a lot of different hats ever since. And yeah, I just, I started taking on more and more responsibilities and eventually became a full-time employee of Doist in 2014 and have been growing the marketing team ever since. Kathleen (02:32): And tell me more about what Doist is. Brenna (02:34): Yeah. So Doist well, we're, we're a fully remote productivity software company. We've been fully remote since day one. Today we're about a hundred people in, I think, I think over 35 countries at this point. And so we create tools that help people live more productive and healthier lives. And so our main as I mentioned before is called Todoist. It's a personal productivity app that has been on the market since about 2007. We have about 25 million users of Todoist these days. And in 2017 we launched Twist, which is a team communication app that we created out of our needs to communicate remotely. So yeah, those are our two products then we've been remote since the very beginning. So it's been kind of an interesting ride in the last year with COVID to see, you know, the whole world switching to remote and yeah, it's, it's been very interesting so far. Kathleen (03:40): Yeah. You guys were really ahead of the curve with with your remote team and and so I think it would be, I feel like we could do a whole nother podcast just on like what companies that are transitioning to remote should know. But but one fun fact for anyone listening, because obviously they cannot see you, but Brenna is literally going on maternity leave. Like what tomorrow? Brenna (04:10): So today is Wednesday and my last day is Friday and my due date is in two weeks from yesterday. Kathleen (04:18): So you are just on the cusp. Will this be your first? Brenna (04:21): My second. Yeah. So I'm trying to combat pregnancy brain at as much as I can. So I'm hope I'm coherent enough for everybody today. Kathleen (04:31): Oh, I think you're going to do just fine. And that's exciting. So congratulations. I remember the last few weeks they tend to go a lot slower than you want them to Brenna (04:42): Yeah. Counting down the minutes basically. Kathleen (04:44): Yeah. Yeah. Well, one, like I said, when we started out, the reason I was so excited to chat with you is that you guys have an unusual story. You've grown considerably, as you mentioned, you have a huge user base, you've introduced additional products. But you really have not followed the traditional marketing playbook. So I guess let's just start out by, by having you share, like what, what have you done for marketing and what do you credit to your success? Brenna (05:15): Yeah. I personally really love talking about our story with marketing because it has a lot of different aspects that I think today would kind of be impossible. So it's hard honestly, to make sort of a playbook out of it, but it is really fun to look back and see what worked for us back in the day, because like I mentioned so to Doist was created in 2007 by Amir. He posted the app while he was in college. And then a few years later, I think it was in 2011, he kind of started noticing that the app was taking off. People were starting to pay for it. So to be honest, we have been a profitable company from day one which is why we've never raised any VC funds. So that's another part of being against the status quo in our history. Brenna (06:16): But in terms of marketing, it has been a fascinating ride because we started out super small team and we are still a small team like today we're a hundred people and we manage two different software apps and three different brands. So we don't have like this crazy bandwidth that a lot of other larger companies have at their disposal. So when I started my expertise was in PR and for those of those people listening, like the PR landscape has changed dramatically. Like very, very much since I was working in this in 2012. So PR was a huge portion of our initial success, I think because we really invested a lot of resources in that. And by resources, I mean, like me writing out press releases, which today, like you can't even imagine, you know, writing a press release. Haven't done that in years, but so we started out with PR and a lot of journalists really engaged with Todoist and began writing about it organically, which I think contributed to a lot of our initial momentum. And from there, Kathleen (07:39): Sorry to interrupt you, but a question. In those early years, when you were working on the PR, you know, I I'm sure a lot of my listeners do PR. My take on it is that it's worth doing a press release if you genuinely have something newsworthy, like, you know, there are definitely things that happen that, that, that are easy to get coverage for because they're, they're big news. You know, that could be well and big news is all relative, but like that could be raising a S a substantive round of venture capital. Like what you said you did not do. It could be you know, integrating with another platform that's more well known. There, there are a lot of different things could be getting a huge client. What was it that you were doing your press releases on that, that enabled you to garner coverage? Brenna (08:29): Yeah, so I'm, I'm having a flashback right now of like the first few press releases that we wrote. And I think that the first big one was when we launched our first mobile apps and this was in November of 2012. So if you kind of like take a walk back, you know, at that time there weren't like a ton, the app ecosystem just is not what it is today. And so there were far fewer companies that had mobile apps especially for like the personal productivity space. So we were one of the first ones who actually created apps for both of these two platforms at the same time. And yeah, I'm trying to think back to the, to the other ones that we would, that we would write. It was always product based. We've always been a very like product led company. And a lot of, most of our marketing is, is led by the advances that we make in the product. Kathleen (09:37): Fair to say that the coverage was driven by news around innovation? Brenna (09:41): Yeah, definitely. I mean, we never had any press release that yeah, like you said before, we never raised any funds or we never had any like fancy people to our board. We don't have a board. So every press release we did was based around product news. But today, you know, I wouldn't even like almost dream of writing a press release for one of our product updates. Even when we do a massive product update, we don't do press releases anymore. But that's partly because we have close relationships with journalists and things are just very different these days, to be honest, like Product Hunt didn't exist back in the day. Kathleen (10:23): I just did a Product Hunt launch a week ago actually. And it's, it's true. It's interesting. Like we, we wound up number one product of the day and I did get lots of reporters reaching out to me. So it, it's funny how there are these other channels. Brenna (10:38): Yeah, yeah, definitely. So I mean, that worked really well for us and PR has, you know, it was a huge piece of the pie chart of our marketing, but today it's, it's considerably smaller to be honest. Kathleen (10:56): So I stopped you, you were talking about how back in the day you were doing press releases, you were getting press coverage and then you were going to kind of go onto something else. And so I want to, I want to go back to that. Brenna (11:06): Yeah. So I think a lot of, you know, one sort of fun anecdote about marketing and Doist is, you know, this is the year 2021, and it was only in 2020 that we began like barely dipping our feet in paid advertising. So, you know, from when I started working on marketing at Doist in 2012, until 2020, we never spent a cent on paid advertising. All of the other marketing campaigns were really focused on like creating a community around our existing users like announcing these big product updates to tech blogs and things like that. And for us, that was, it worked really well. Like we have grown organically and never invested anything into paid ads. And I'm, I'm looking forward to talking more about like, you know, how we how our mindset around empathy for the user and, you know, putting ourselves in their shoes has helped us grow in this like very unconventional way. Kathleen (12:18): Let's dig into that because you and I talked about that a little bit when we first met, and I think this is something that I, that I find really interesting because there, a lot of people talk about authenticity and empathy and things like that, but, but there's no handbook for it and you kind of can't fake it, you know? So, so let's break down. What do you mean when you say empathy for the user and, and describe to me how that plays out in your marketing? Brenna (12:44): Definitely. So it's, it's, it's really interesting because we have these two different brands, right? So we have these two pretty separate apps. So Todoist and Twist. For Todoist in particular, what we've learned along the way is that people tend to download like this, you know, task management productivity app in kind of times of like personal crisis, to be honest, you know, if, if or not necessarily crisis, but like, you know, something big is happening in somebody's life. You know, they're getting married or starting a new job, or you know starting a new semester at school and they really need a way to get themselves organized. So there's this kind of driver that leads people to, to sign up for the app and really putting yourself in their shoes and understanding what they're going through in that moment has been, has been key for us. Brenna (13:38): And it's similar with our other app called Twist because it's also this sort of like light bulb moment that people have for those who are listening that don't know, Twist is a team communication app. That's based like very heavily around asynchronous communication. It's very much like an anti Slack, anti Microsoft teams tool that allows people to disconnect and spend, you know, a couple of hours working on what they need to work on without getting distracted. And so, you know, when people start searching for this app, it's clear that like something in their workflow or in their teamwork is not working and trying to meet those people at that sort of moment of that light bulb moment or that moment of crisis and providing them the education and the resources that they need to kind of come to this conclusion a little bit sooner and get onboarded into our products. I think has been yeah, pretty beneficial for us. Kathleen (14:41): So how does that play out in your marketing? Like, I would love it if you could share some examples of say, you mentioned the example, for example, of somebody who who's going to college and they need to get, or getting married and they need to get organized. How do you, how do you weave that into your marketing strategy? Brenna (14:58): Yeah, so we have a big portion of our marketing is content marketing. We have a blog that I am very proud of. My team is very exceptional. So we create a lot of content that is very in depth and like very comprehensive in terms of like creating a guide for students, for example, or, you know, for Todoist in particular, we have like a bank of templates, you know, if somebody is starting a new semester in school, like how can you organize your tasks to make the most out of your education, for example. So we do work pretty heavily with like we're really into SEO, sorry, I'm having like a brain of disfunction there. Like SEO is very important for us. We have increased the organic traffic to our blog, like a hundred percent compared to like 2020 compared to 2019. So that's great. Just really giving people the resources that they need to like have this light bulb moment and then take action on it as best as they can. Kathleen (16:17): So to that point, and this is sort of interesting, like we have a lot of content marketers that listen and they get basic SEO, but but the debate I hear a lot is around like how top of funnel do you go? And so I'm curious, we'll use the example of the person who's getting married. Are you publishing content around how to get organized for getting married or is it other topics around getting married? Like what does that strategy look like? Brenna (16:47): Yeah. So if we're going to use that example it would be something like the keyword would be, you know, wedding checklist or wedding checklist template, something like that. And then we would create content around, like, you know, this to-do is template that you can import into your own to do is and probably, you know, interview some productivity specialists that may be active in the, you know, wedding planning space, who knows. But we, we are pretty particular around like the breakdown of our content attacking like the different stages of the funnel, because we do have a lot of active users of our apps that, you know, want to know what's going on and what is the latest news product updates and to do list. And then also kind of like killing two birds with one stone, I guess, in terms of finding people who are exploring these topics and, and might need a tool to, to them. Kathleen (17:50): So when you say you're particular about how you break down, I guess I would characterize it as like the customer journey or the steps in the funnel. How, what do you mean by that? Brenna (18:01): Yeah, so we have different sort of categories of content on our blogs. So for example, a post that we published recently was around how to plan your day. So the keyword there is, you know, I think just planning your day basically. So that's anybody who is looking for some guidance on like how to deal with the work that they have to manage. So that will be the top of funnel, obviously like anybody who's Googling, you know, how, how do I plan my day? And then in the middle, we'll have content that is, you know, more related to our products, maybe some news about like new integration partners or things like that. And then at the bottom of the funnel, we do we do regular product updates as with these like what's new campaigns. So we'll gather, you know, two or three months of product updates and package them into a campaign called, like what's new in Todoist, or what's new in Twist, where all of our existing users can go in and read about what we've been up to and what's new in our apps. Kathleen (19:08): So is that all on the one blog or do you have separate blogs for your like educational content versus your product content? Brenna (19:15): Yeah. This is a fun question we really grappled with for a while, at the very beginning, we had separate blogs and ultimately we ended up bringing those under one umbrella under our Doist brand. So it's just you know, the newest blog and that encompasses all of our, you know, everything basically. But we do have separate sites. For example, we have a compilation of like productivity guides and a productivity quiz for Todoist users and that lives on its own site. And we also have a set of guides for remote working and that lives on the Twist domain, but everything else, yeah, it's under the Doist umbrella. And that was honestly like a really, really hard decision to make back in the day. Because the audiences are, you know, while we create productivity software, like the audiences, not aren't necessarily like seeking the same content at the same time. And then we have this other audience on top of that, that is looking for content related to like thought leadership around remote work. So it's, it's kind of a lot of puzzle pieces to fit together and doing that well is yeah, it's, it takes a lot of thought actually. Kathleen (20:34): So I really want to pick your brain on this selfishly, because I'm in the same boat, I worked for a company that has two products that loosely fall under the umbrella of digital engagement security, but they are very different products for very different audiences. And so, and I'm sure there are people listening that have this situation too. I'm I'm curious, I guess first, why did you decide to put it all together? Brenna (20:56): Yeah. it's, it was a tough decision. Like we deliberated about it for a long time. And even to this day, I think there are some times where we're like, Oh, should we have done that? You know, would these things live better in their own domains? But at the end of the day, like we use our dual brand umbrella to kind of guide everything that we do. So that means like do us as a company, we are really like, our mission is to help people live more productive, calm, fulfilling lives. And part of that is, you know, the way you work part of that is the way that you manage your day, you manage your time. And so these things kind of like loosely fallen together. And our reasoning was that like, you know, if somebody is interested in being more productive in their day and they're a Todoist user, like what's to stop them from being interested in content that will help them be more productive in terms of teamwork as well. So it was really driven by our company's mission and our vision for the future that we ourselves want to work in. So I think your brand, like the parent brand really dictates, like if those should, should live together or separately, Kathleen (22:18): That makes sense. And how do you functionally manage creating blog content and also I'm assuming you have some email marketing thrown in there, like how do you manage all that in a way that you don't leave, like part of your audience feeling alienated or, or how do you prevent unsubscribes too? Because that's always a worry if you're creating content for lots of different audiences at different times in their lives, it's very hard to solve for everyone all at the same time. Brenna (22:49): Yeah, that is very, very true. We have a very talented content team. I have to give all the credit to them to be honest. They're just very thoughtful about this and methodical about how we package our content together to make it as appealing as possible. And in terms of email marketing with our blog like not taking into account the email marketing that we have for our different products, but just for our blog. For example, we only send one newsletter a week, so we're not sending people a newsletter every time we publish a new blog post, because we figured if we did that, then that would be kind of spammy. Like, you know, if I'm a Todoist user and I'm receiving like a an email about a new Twist feature, like what, I don't know, it just, it doesn't compute. Brenna (23:48): So that's why we decided to package all of those into just one single weekly newsletter. And the way that our team does that is like finding a common theme and then kind of like cherry picking the different content from our products, thought leadership and packaging that together in a way that is coherent and doesn't necessarily feel like, okay, look, here's this section about Todoist. Here's a section about Twist. Here's a section about remote work. It takes like a lot more thought than just, you know, going post by post. And I think that has worked well for us, our newsletter blog newsletter list just crossed, I think the 50,000 subscriber milestones. So that was exciting for us. And yeah, I think it's working and you send it out every week, every week. Yeah. And, and that's new. We had just sent it out every two weeks, but you know, our content team is kind of on a roll these days. Brenna (24:55): And so we figured it we could, we could bump the cadence and I guess that is sort of another component of our unconventional marketing. Like we are really entrenched in the mentality of like, not spamming our users. Like we don't send people push notifications. We only were like very, very mindful about the communications that we send out to our users and you know, try not to bother them during their day because we know that they're busy and I have a lot of stuff going on and they don't need to be reminded that, you know, Todoist or Twist exists all the time. So that has something that has just been ingrained into all of our brains on the marketing team. And I think it's, it's different because a lot of other companies don't operate, operate that way. And a lot of the marketing playbooks, like, I don't think take that into account. Kathleen (25:55): Yeah, yeah, yeah. You definitely have to be careful. So you're, it sounds like you're investing a lot of time and effort into content. You mentioned that, that that's a big focus for you. How are you getting your content out in front of your audience beyond, you know, organic search? Brenna (26:13): That's a great question. And honestly, I think that's something that we could do better. It's the content that we have on our blog is really top-notch. And I think, you know, the, the increase in organic traffic speaks for itself, and that has been really gratifying to see, but at the same time like we also have never experienced with like, or never experimented with running ads based on our content or doing performance marketing with our content. At this point it's pretty much just our, like the email newsletter that I had mentioned are on our social media channels. And then also we do kind of pepper in our, our content into the, like the product email life cycle as well. So we try and find useful places where our content would fit like in the user life cycle and include it there, but it's a challenge for us. Like our team is very small. We only have two people who work on content full-time and they're writers and editors and, you know, coordinators at the content calendar doing a little bit of everything there, right. The newsletter. And it's, it's honestly hard to find the bandwidth to like, explore all these other different channels. But that is definitely on our radar for this year. Kathleen (27:39): And, and what percentage of your marketing effort goes towards acquiring new customers versus marketing to the customers you already have? Brenna (27:50): Yeah, that's, that's a great question. Honestly we focus most of our marketing on our existing users because Todoist, for example, has grown essentially organically since day one. Twist is a little bit of a different story that has been more of an uphill battle. But because we haven't had to kind of focus on filling the funnel for new users. We've tried really hard to like aim most of our marketing efforts at people who are already using our product. Kathleen (28:29): Do you have any referral campaigns? Like where, where do most of your new customers come in from? Are they just finding you in the app store? Brenna (28:37): Especially before people find us in the app store, we have like many thousands of downloads a day, so it's, we're almost like we don't want to fill the funnel anymore. We have this like very strange problem of like, we have a lot of downloads and new users and trying to figure out how to best onboard them and everything is, is a challenge for us, for sure. So yeah, a lot of our, our users come just from the web, from the Apple app store, Google play, and then for Twist it's a lot more word of mouth and people find us a lot more frequently through our content marketing because it's, yeah, it's a very different user journey that people have to go through. So they're both very different, like you know, marketing to us is, it's somewhat of a challenge because the journeys for the products are so different. And they require like very, very different tactics. And I think it's interesting. Kathleen (29:42): That you're in the app stores because I mean, I, I have not done any marketing for an app before. And my understanding is that it is very much its own beast. I would imagine that getting reviews is a big piece of that. And so can you talk a little bit about any efforts you've put into increasing your visibility in the app store? Brenna (30:00): Yeah, definitely. So we have experimented with that more frequently in the last few years before we would just kind of like, you know, throw our screenshots up and have our app description and not do too much about it. Like we didn't have any prompts in our apps, like asking users to, to write reviews. But we do now. And that has been very useful for us to find like this very specific moment in the user journey to ask people to give that feedback. Definitely a trial and error process. But yeah, having the reviews is, is key. And then we also do spend a lot of time on the screenshots and graphics themselves making those look beautiful and it's a science in itself of like, you know, how many characters and, you know, what should, what should be on the, on the screenshot and how much does the app to show. And it's kind of a science and we have started experimenting with Apple search ads. So that's new for us this year as well. And it's going pretty well, but yeah, the app stores are our huge source of new users for us. Kathleen (31:23): Now, so, so recap for me your results, because I feel like that's what makes the story so interesting. You talked about a hundred percent year over year traffic growth, I think it was from your content. Are there other results in the, in the form of like user acquisition or any other growth metrics that would be good to add to that? Brenna (31:44): Yeah. I mean to date, I, yeah, we have had like over 25 million people sign up for Todoist. So that has been exciting. Like one really cool marketing campaign that always sticks with me that we did was in 2016, I believe. And that's when our users crossed the 1 billion completed tasks threshold. So that was a really exciting moment. And we created a really special marketing campaign around that, like asking our users, what is the most important thing that Todoist has helped you achieve in your life? And the answers we got were just like, so mind blowing and emotional and really touching to be honest. And, and that it has all been done like organically, to be honest. So, and we're also very much an anomaly in that we don't track our data or ROI of marketing really at all. Brenna (32:52): We've never really had to, until we started investing money in ads this year. So we've never really been a data-driven company. Like a lot of the work that we've done has been based on our gut feeling and you know, how we want our users to interact with our apps and like our hopes and dreams that we have for them in terms of like living a more productive, fulfilling life. So I guess that is another, another weird aspect of working at Doist is like, we, we just, last year, I think started like looking at Google analytics and things like that. So I don't know, like not a lot. I worry that people can't take much out of this this playbook because it is so unconventional and different than like a regular startup. Kathleen (33:47): But there's some really important lessons here. And as I listened to you talk, I think there's like three that really stand out to me. And this is a very strong illustration of how you can, you know, follow the classic marketing playbook and still not see results, or you can not follow the classic marketing playbook as you did and see great results. And so the three things that stand out to me are number one, a very clear why, like you said earlier on that you have this really clear vision of the world that you want to live and work in, and that you, and you want to share that with your users and you want to attract the people that, that share that feeling. And so I feel like defining that sort of vision, mission, and values, and being really clear about it and, and putting some emotion behind it is something that every marketer really, really needs to start with, because that makes everything else that much easier. Brenna (34:46): Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you totally hit the nail on the head, Kathleen like everything that we do at Doist, like any marketing initiatives that we do, we have this like a campaign brief and at the top of the campaign brief, it's always like a section that starts out with why, why is this great for the user? Why is this going to improve their life? And that goes from like even the biggest marketing projects we have to like the smallest sort of like release announcements that we do. So that is huge for us. And I think it's a huge like kudos to our founder, Amir. He has been very clear about that since day one. And so again, like I had mentioned this phrase before, but like, this is just embedded in our DNA. Everything we do starts with why and everything we do is formulated under this umbrella of like, what is the future that we want to live and work in and how can we like fast track this future for more people as well? Kathleen (35:51): I love that. And that comes through very clearly when we hear you talk. I would say the second thing that jumps out at me is you talked about being a product led company, and I've always said, and I strongly believe that the best marketing in the world cannot make up for a poor product. Right. And so having a focus on the product first and letting the product honestly do the work for you, having a great product, focusing on continuing to improve it, continuing to add functionality that solves for the needs of your users. Like that's big, and that's not just a marketing thing, that's a company thing. And, and I would say the vision mission values as a company thing too. Brenna (36:27): Definitely. Yeah. And in terms of the product, I think there are a few other takeaways that I could mention that might be useful for people. Like one other sort of unconventional thing that we have done is like, we always translated all of our apps into, I think, like almost 20 different languages. So all of our apps, all of our help center content, all of our lifecycle marketing. Part of our company's DNA is being like a, a global company. Like I said, we've been remote from day one. Our, our team is spread out all across the world. And so we are really passionate about like providing products for users in the language that they speak. So that has been one really important driver of growth, I think for us. And then just in terms of like always trying to like innovate and not rest on your laurels, like, you know, a lot of our competitors in the productivity space have been acquired and or, you know, kind of fallen off the wayside. Like everybody knows that like the, you know, the to-do list app space is very extensive. But just continuing to kind of like keep our heads down, focus on like what we want to see out of the app and not looking at competitors has, has worked out really well for us. Kathleen (37:54): That the third thing that to me jumped out of this conversation was this sort of like obsessive focus on the customer and the journey that they're on and you referred to it as empathy for the customer. And, and to me, that, and how that plays out in terms of solving for the needs of the customer through content. Like those two seem very married together, having deep empathy for the customer and then creating content that solves for them. I feel like when you add these three things together, the clear vision and why, the product led approach, and then the deep empathy for the customer, how that translates into a content driven approach. Like you have basically thrown out all the rest of the marketing rulebooks, but you did those three things really well and it allowed you to not do the others. Kathleen (38:47): Like, honestly, that's where your success sounds like it came from. And I love that because the three, those three things are things that transcend trends. It's, they transcend technology and it transcends tactics. So like a lot of marketers get caught up in what's the latest, you know, Google algorithm or what's happening with Facebook ads and what's, what's, you know, clubhouses new, should I be on that? And all of those things are like channel changes and tactics and technology changes. But if you stay true to the three core things we talked about, which are timeless and marketing, then none of the rest of it really matters, it seems to me. Brenna (39:28): Yeah. I mean, for sure, like our brand you know, since I started at Doist, like, we have been kind of like maniacally protective of our brand. And in fact, I was listening to your podcast earlier today with Nandini Jammi about like the you know, not letting your company's ads run on these like not great websites. And that for us has been like a really great North star ever since beginning. And that allows us, like knowing what we want out of our brand. And like knowing that the products that we create, you know, we want people to be more productive. So for us, that's like, okay, well, productivity probably doesn't mean that like, people are going to be on Facebook all day. So what's the point of like running ads, because that's essentially against like everything that we're going for. So for us, that has been kind of essential in our process of elimination in terms of marketing tactics. Kathleen (40:34): I love that. I love this whole story. You know, we're going to run out of time, so we've got to change gears now. And I have two questions for you that I ask all of my guests, which you've probably heard since you've been listening. First one being, of course, we talk a lot about inbound marketing on the podcast. So is there a particular company or individual that you think is doing really amazing inbound marketing work? Brenna (40:57): Yeah, so besides my team, because I am so proud of them, everything that they do I guess my best example, these days would be Peloton. I know it's like such a hot topic. These, you know, with the COVID and, you know, people ordering bikes and stuff, it's like very trendy these days, but coming on the heels of what you just mentioned, like, I don't notice that many brands that do like this Y based marketing as well as Peloton, like as a user. I really appreciate the communication that they have with us. And I feel like it's very authentic. Like there, I find one of the few brands that walk the walk and talk the talk. Like if they say that they are investing in diversity, like you can really tell that they're investing in diversity. And they have just done like this insane job of like building a community around the product. And getting people like super hyped up into like all of the different offerings that they have. I appreciate us as a user. They like do beta testing and invitations that make you feel like you're part of the product roadmap. But more importantly, I feel like it's a brand that I just, I really appreciate their authenticity and their dedication to like putting their money where their mouth is. Kathleen (42:31): Well, I too am a Peloton user. And so you can ride with me at kathslat, if anybody wants to join. I'm usually on it every morning from what is it, like 5:45 to 6:30 AM? Otherwise it doesn't happen, but no, I totally agree with you. And in fact, I posted something on LinkedIn recently about how they're like a marketing masterclass, because it's community, it's gamification, it's the personal brands of their instructors that they've, they've led with. The instructor brands which I think is really smart because people like to glom onto people. There's so much to the Peloton model that I, I totally agree with you. Brenna (43:13): Yeah. It's kind of like a never ending story I would love to read. If somebody would be interested in writing like a book on Peloton marketing, I would totally buy that. Kathleen (43:22): Yes. As would I. All right. Other question, marketing changes really quickly. How do you keep up to date and stay educated? Brenna (43:32): Yeah, I actually like every Wednesday, I block off a time in my calendar for learning. So this is very important for me. It's very important. Like part of our team ethos at Doist is to maintain like your professional acumen. So there are a few sites that I regularly peruse on my Wednesdays on my learning Wednesdays. One is the blog that Open View Partners writes. So they're, they're kind of experts in product led growth. So they tend to have pretty good content about that. Reforge, which they focus on growth marketing, Brian Balfour. He's really good. Yeah. Marketing examples. Awesome. Just like really bite sized marketing content that's super actionable. First Round Review, which is another VC fund that has a really fantastic blog. And then anything by your previous guests, April Dunford, who I'm like, I think I've read her book like two or three times. So I'm a big fan of hers, but honestly, when I was thinking of this question, I do feel like I struggled to find like really well done content about marketing that is big picture and like, not necessarily focused on like the minutia of marketing. Like I would really love to read more content. That's like bigger picture branding, positioning, product marketing. And I, I find that it's challenging to find that these days, to be honest. Kathleen (45:18): Yeah, there, and there is a sea of marketing content. There's so much of it. And so we didn't have to find the gems is tough, which is why I'm asking this question and, you know, hearing what other people have, have zeroed in on in terms of the needle in the haystack. Brenna (45:34): Yeah, it's, it's, it's a challenge. Like there's a lot to sift through. So if anybody wants to share me their gems, you can find me on Twitter at BrennaKL. And I would definitely like to read some new content these days. Kathleen (45:48): You know, it's funny, I should put together an article with all of the answers to this question that I've gotten from different people and share it out because it is a huge challenge. So thank you for sharing your sources. You just mentioned one way people can find you that is on Twitter. Any other particular ways people should reach out and connect with you online, or how can they learn more about Doist? Brenna (46:11): Yeah. So Twitter is the best place for me. For the time being I will be completely disconnecting from work as of this Friday, but otherwise you can learn about Doist, Todoist, and Twist at Doist.com. And yeah. Thank you again, Kathleen, for having me on it was a real pleasure. Kathleen (46:35): This was a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing your story. And, and if you're listening and you learned something new or enjoyed this episode, of course, I would love it if you would head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. And if you know somebody who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, please tweet me at @workmommywork, because I would love to make them my next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much, Brenna. Brenna (47:00): Thank you for having me.


    Ep. 192: What Apple's iOS 14 updates mean for your paid media strategy ft. Tim Keen

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 26, 2021 46:09

    How will Apple's upcoming iOS 14 privacy updates impact your ability to use paid media to achieve your marketing goals? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Loop Club Co-Founder and CEO Tim Keen explains what will happen when Apple rolls out iOS 14, how it will impact Facebook specifically, what it will mean for marketers' ability to use retargeting, and what brands should be doing now to prepare for it. From simple steps like verifying your domain in Facebook ads manager and doing more testing on ad creative, to advanced solutions like server side tracking, Tim shares actionable steps that marketers can take to ensure their paid media strategies continue to deliver value. Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear what Tim has to say. Resources from this episode: Visit the Loop Club website Connect with Tim on LinkedIn Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Paul Cowan, who is the COO of FreshBooks. Welcome to the podcast, Paul. Paul (00:23): Hi, Kathleen. Great to be here. Kathleen (00:25): Yeah. I'm excited to talk with you. You have an interesting story and you've been at FreshBooks for about a year and a half, and a lot has happened in that time. Before we dive into it though, can you tell my listeners a little bit about yourself and how you wound up doing what you're doing now, and what FreshBooks does? Paul (00:41): Yeah, for sure. So firstly FreshBooks. We're a cloud accounting software platform. So we focus on helping small business owners manage their business, really managing their finances for non-financial managers. So, you know, the key differentiator between us and other folks in this space that you've probably heard of is that we really focus on the small business owner. So others have built their platforms for accountants. We were started by an owner from a pain point that owner had. So, we kind of started on a point solution 15 years ago and then have grown into being an accounting platform for business owners. Kathleen (01:19): I so needed this when I owned my business. I owned a digital marketing agency for 11 years and I don't know how other marketers are, but the reason I became a marketer is I was terrible at things like accounting, which I did study in business school. Paul (01:36): It's funny. Marketers are one of our strongest verticals. So we kind of target service-based businesses or people who kind of their invoice and their client relationship is kind of the core pieces of how they operate. And so our software is really kind of built around that. And I was actually a FreshBooks customer in 2013 and 2014 when I was doing some consulting. So I do know the space and the need to actually arrange your books appropriately as well. Kathleen (02:07): Yeah, it's a big deal. I mean, it's funny. They always joke. There's that running joke about how doctors make terrible business managers, business owners, but I, for me, the same was true of me as a marketer. I, again, cannot speak for all marketers, but I was just not good at the money side so I can see the need for the product for sure. Now you came in about a year and a half ago and you've done quite a bit of work on the brand and, and on the marketing strategy, let's start by just talking about that. When you, when you got there, what did you find and what path did you start to chart for yourself as CMO? Paul (02:46): For sure. So, so like most when most companies are looking for a CMO, it's generally indicating that some sort of change is going on. So, you know, I was, I was running enterprise and SMB marketing for Shutterstock and, and so I was selling stock imagery and videos and custom content to marketers. And I was having a grand old time doing it. I really liked it. And then FreshBooks came calling and, and, and they were really looking to go through some growth. And so they'd been investing a lot in product. They've been investing a lot into new channel activation and, and they were, they'd been on a hunt for a CFO for a little while, and hadn't really been able to find the right kind of person. And, and I think part of it was like the founder, Mike, he, you know, it was the founders CEO of a, of a company he wants to make sure you're getting people in there who get the pain points, get the problem. Paul (03:40): And, and I kinda came in with like, I'd had B2C experience. I had B2B experience. I'd been an owner of three different companies in the past. I'd gone through all the trials and tribulations of what an owner had. So he was like, great. Like you, you know it, so, we got along very well and, and I joined the company cause they're like, you know, we need to, we need to go through this time of growth. So you know, I came on board to, to, to help kind of get a couple of things right. It, in terms of the, the organization that, you know, there was just some, some, some structural challenges that were there. So, you know, I came in and did the two things that every cliche CMO does. I reorganized the team and I rebranded. Paul (04:23): And so, you know, the reorg I knew was something that I needed to do. So there was just a lot of challenges within the company in terms of like, not all the marketing kind of disciplines were together as a, as a full marketing function. There were some, some things that the company was doing in terms of like investing into a direct Salesforce, which it really hadn't had, it made a significant investment there before, and most of our business was done through self-service channels. So we needed to have self-serve, we needed to have demand generation. We needed to make sure we were kind of managing those two types of customers differently. And get the structure, the right structure in place. So I came in and did that stuff fairly, fairly early on in my tenure there. The brand stuff was kind of interesting because the company had been going through a two-year process, like re-evaluating who it was and insuring and reaffirming its commitment to its customer. Paul (05:20): So I kinda came in at the tail end of that, like all the logo and the design elements and all that stuff was done, but they just hadn't been pushed over kind of the finish line. And so so my role there, like, I didn't come in and say, Hey, we need to rebrand. I came in and said, man, we've done all this work. Or you guys have done all this work. You really just need to kind of move this forward and progress things so that we're making an indication to the market that we're changing as an organization. And, we're representing something slightly different in the eyes of our customer. Kathleen (05:52): I have so many questions. In no particular order, let's start with the team, because that's kind of where you started. How big was the team when you got there? Paul (06:03): Yeah, so I think it was, we were probably 45-ish type of people within the marketing group and in the companies around you know, right now we're at about like just over 400 people globally in a couple of different offices. Kathleen (06:17): And talk me through how you restructured it. You mentioned not all of the different disciplines work together. So what did that look like the before and after? Paul (06:26): So really it was kind of a tale of a couple of different departments. So you know, we had an acquisition team that was, was doing a great job in terms of driving top of funnel activity, but they weren't really too accountable to the conversion metric. Within that attrition funnel, we drive a lot of free trials and then those trials convert into paid users. But, but that team was really kind of focused on like optimizing that front end of the funnel. So we needed to do some changes and bring in some folks who weren't just going to be performance marketing oriented. We needed to bring in marketing strategy, the people who got demand, build the actual B2B capabilities. And then get that kind of funnel activity structured right then we had a pretty functioning customer marketing team or life cycle marketing or CRM. Paul (07:18): However, you want to kind of frame it. The one area that we needed to just get in order was the marketing operation. So we just needed to kind of centralize that and make sure that that team was all together, that we built out like a capability in terms of how we managed our MarTech stack and centralized all that underneath our customer marketing lead product marketing wasn't in marketing, it was in product. So we said, Hey, let's shift this back over. Comms wasn't in marketing. Kind of critical. So it was sitting within our strategy group. We had an event team that was doing event activity that was not tied to any of our lead generation activities. And they were just kind of off like running more of what I would call brand or community oriented activities. Paul (08:01): And that was underneath our BD team. So, there was just a lot of like weird stuff going on, but just how the company had, had kind of structured a grown up and done things. So, just first needed to get everybody together and align under, under one marketing strategy, understanding what the goals were that we were trying to drive to and and just bring it all together. And, really, it was like a game of efficiencies in terms of content generation. And in terms of all the types of things that we could, we could generate by just like optimizing against like that, that customer journey. Kathleen (08:32): Yeah. Wow. That that's a lot of moving parts, but I also am very curious to hear how you navigated just from a relationship standpoint and coming in as the new guy and, and looking at these different marketing functions that are sitting under BD and under strategy and under all these other places, how you navigated the relationships with the leaders of those parts of the company to I'm going to take these people and move them under me. Paul (08:58): Yeah. I mean, thankfully we had a lot of adults at the table and there wasn't a lot of territory issues. I think most of the folks there were like, Hey, you know, I know that this really shouldn't be under me, but I've been shepherding it. Well, we haven't had someone who's seen the full picture. So I think just like previous regimes of leadership within the marketing group, either leaned maybe towards like direct marketing only, or performance marketing or, or, or in other areas. So they really didn't kind of bring all the activities together. So, so the organization knew it needed someone to kind of do it part of it. Half of like, yes, just like putting it down on a page and doing it. But I think, you know, you're alluding to the whole change management exercise and, you know, it was really more about like, how do we get you know, how do we get all the different people to then work together and make sure that, you know, because we're taking things that they may have built up and it's great within the, their, their portfolio, but it wasn't because it wasn't tied to like a demand gen activity. Paul (10:02): And we weren't really kind of assessing the ROI of some of these action that we were running. It's like, you know, they were a little bit more under scrutiny, but, but really we're just like, how do we take these things and dose everything with, with gas so that we could just light this whole thing up on fire and, and, and get way more efficient with everything that we were doing. Kathleen (10:20): Yeah. And you mentioned one of the key areas for kind of reorganization or, or streamlining being around your top of funnel content efforts, it sounded like your inbound efforts really aligning those with your strategy to pull prospects down the funnel. Can you dig into that a little bit more? Paul (10:41): Yeah, absolutely. So a couple of things that were going on really well when I got there was like our, our SEO game was off the hook. Like we had a huge amount of volume and the team had some real solid SEO experts and, and they just were, were focused on, on what we needed to do to build out and to, to just like, make our site magnetic and make sure that we're covering off, like all of the terms within the invoicing accounting payment space that, that we needed to be in. So, so like all of that activity was going, going really, really well. You know, we have like this performance machine, right. So we needed to, we need to make sure we're filling that machine. One of the things that I think we're ignoring the most previous immediate to me coming in was really the messaging we were putting into that performance machine. Paul (11:27): So, you know, we had some great kind of stuff going on in the, in the SEO space where, where, you know, we're, we're getting people in our performance media and our ads. We are great in SEM, but not great in any other channels. Mainly I attribute that to just being like the creative felt like everything else in the space. So like everybody's out there saying all in one accounting solutions and you could rip the logo off and it would be for any other company. So we tried to pivot that and just be more focused on like appealing to the owner and the mindset of the owner. So that was a big portion of what we were doing purely from like a top of funnel ad content space, get our differentiation rolling and tie it into everything that we were doing from a branding and brand strategy standpoint. Paul (12:09): The content game, like underneath there was, was pretty good. Like our blog is, is, is great. You know, we, we get some good traction. We just weren't doing things like webinars or, or, or other types of layers to our content strategy. So we could build a big piece in and you set apart. Or we weren't like taking research reports that we were doing and turning them into smaller blog posts. So a lot of the effort was like, Hey, let's look at all these assets that we currently have, that all these different teams are doing. And then how do we just like, get smarter with them so that we're not going to, we don't have to keep reproducing more and more and more and more. And so a lot of the effort, even now that our blog team does is just like repurposing old posts and just making sure that they're optimized and, and kind of rinse repeat. And now we're, we're taking a slightly different approach to how we really look at the content that we're going to generate and, and kind of put across the whole funnel off of some of the stuff that we really know about our customers. Kathleen (13:05): So when you say you're taking a different approach, is it just shifting topic-wise or audience-wise, or is there something else to that? Paul (13:11): Yeah, so a couple of things. So one area that I'm a huge believer in is like, you know, I think every company has some under-resourced assets or some sort of like gold or oil around that it's just not tapping into. And so, you know, one area that I see is like, Hey, we've got like a whole bunch of customers that are using our, you know, doing, entering their expenses and invoicing within our platform. And we have a big opportunity to start to reveal that to our customers or to the market as a whole. And, and, you know, there's, there's some gold within there. So it was actually interesting because through the whole pandemic and when the first, when the first downturn kind of happened in, in March of last year, what we found was like there was a lot of different government agencies that were looking to understand what was actually happening within the small business sector. Paul (14:03): And so we said, we've got all this data on the small business sector, and we were able to see how much small businesses were actually impacted. And in terms of the revenue that they were, they were they were producing over that timeframe and when they actually recovered and, and so the government was like, Oh, great. We'd have to wait for like a census next year tax time to, to really understand what's going on and to inform stimulus packages and things of that effect. So we're like, Hey, you know, this is really valuable yes. To the government also to businesses, just for them to kind of be able to understand how they're performing versus their sectors, the industry as a whole, and that kind of thing. So what we're really kind of focused on is like, how do we take our data and use that as like a big magnet to bring people in? Paul (14:48): So let's like publish this data back to the, to to our audiences and to owners, so they can understand different things that are happening within their verticals, within their sectors and that kind of stuff. And, and there's tons of like lots and lots of examples of, of, of companies who do this, like, you know, MailChimp or HubSpot. They do a lot of great stuff like that, where they'll, they'll publish like benchmarks in terms of email, open rates and these kinds of things, but we've got like what might be much more harder to get data. Kathleen (15:16): Yeah. Now what does that look like for you? So, because I've worked on this too, we have lots of data in our platform, and we do a quarterly report where we sum up, in our case, what's happening with malvertising attack patterns and threat levels. It's very nerdy to the ad tech world. And, and that's something I think a lot about is it's one thing to say, we're going to share our data. It's entirely another to really conceptualize the right way to share it where it's not just digestible, but it's, it's kind of like set up for vitality. And then the question is, do you do it in one big report or do you chunk it out? And so I'm curious how you guys are approaching that. Paul (15:54): Yeah. So like, I'm a huge fan of, of just like doing indexes, like being able to give someone a tool that they can, they can use and, and be able to understand what's actually going on. So, you know, we've, we, of course first started with reports because that helps us be able to build the different types of things that we would need to build, whether they're indexes or otherwise. And then, and then kind of piques our curiosity around where do we want to go deep and where do we want, not, where do we want to be very kind of general? So, so the first thing we did was we produced like a women's report and, and how women were, were negatively impact or women-owned businesses were negatively impacted by COVID and still are having a hard time performing at the, at the pace of, of their male counterparts. And, and so we were finding really some interesting findings there. We have our general report, we started going into trades and construction. That industry has actually fared really, really well through the pandemic. Like it had a big downturn, but then they're exceeding historical patterns in terms of revenue generation. And, and, you know, I think the obvious is obvious, like around things like, Hey, there, you know, people are at home or disposable income, they're, you know, trying to improve their home office and all of that kind of stuff. Kathleen (17:09): We sit around all day staring at all the things that are wrong with our houses and that we want to fix. My husband would tell you that our project list has grown exponentially since COVID started. Paul (17:20): Yeah, absolutely. So I think from there, it's like, Hey, do we want to do quarterly reports? Or do we want to build a tool that people can just access all the time? And so we're, we're building a tool right now so that people can get there. We have a bunch of reports. But you know, I've looked at other companies that I really like, you know, there's companies in the lending space, like borrow well. And they've like, they have, like, from an inbound perspective, they've got a credit there, so do loans and borrowing and and so they have a credit score calculator and that thing doesn't matter what else they do. Their credit score calculator is their magnet. It just brings everybody to their site. They fill it out, they use Facebook and lots of other places it's become such a lead engine for those guys that they sell leads to other creditors or people that they would not want to ever loan to. Paul (18:12): So they've created this like revenue machine that they can go in and refer people to other places. So, you know, I see that as is, you know, that'd be a great outcome for us if we able to bring people in. But I also think like beyond even just our market that we're servicing today, like there's lots of people in the VC space, like who would be really in the investment space, who are really interested in this data as well. So, so I'm also interested in like, Hey, is there other markets that we could actually be servicing with this, the state of two that we could potentially monetize down the road as well. Kathleen (18:44): Now, do you foresee the tool that you're building as really kind of destined to be a lead magnet like you described, or, or do you foresee at some point that the data or the tool you're building with the data could become a product in and of itself that you sell access to? Paul (18:58): Yeah, absolutely. Both. So it's, you know, we're, we're kind of the sharp end of the spear to say, Hey, like, let's just show that there's demand for this in market. And we've seen it already. So, you know, both from, yes, the government's interested, but just purely from a PR standpoint, we have like a huge amount of hits on, on just like that woman's report to say to, for us to just talk about it and, and, and go deeper into what's actually what people are, what we're seeing in the data. And, and so, yeah, and then I think that there's kind of two places. One is like, Hey, is there a place that we can actually take this and turn it into an actual product? And whether it's via API or otherwise, like, do we want to sell this data, or also, how do we bring this back into our platform and go a little bit deeper into it? Paul (19:42): So, you know, if example of like you being a, a marketing services person, and you're kind of saying, Hey you know, what should my billable rate be? And, and us being able to surface those types of things, because we have that like all anonymized of course, but if we're able to say, you know, if you're up in North Dakota and you're doing graphic design work, here's what all the graphic designers are actually charging from a an hourly rate standpoint. And so here's where you kind of should, should really be thinking about it based on, on your business. Kathleen (20:13): That is awesome. And you sort of answered one of the next questions I was going to have, which is around PR because whenever I think of original data and research, it's like, you know, candy for organic press coverage or earned PR press coverage. So have you, have you, have you done any specific pitching to the press around it or is it just getting picked up? Like, do you have a strategy to support that? Paul (20:38): Yeah, we're, we're absolutely. So we're, we're absolutely tying it into our PR activity where we're just really kind of getting the ball go in there, but we, we took like, our women's report, for example, is one of the lead things that we wanted to see if there would be some, some market interest in and through January, we got a ton of pickup on it. So lots of people leading into obviously leading into international women's day. Like, so January, February, where some big months for us in terms of getting a lot, a lot of interests really across North America in terms of pickup for it. But yeah,  I think where we want to go with this is then turn this in and also, you know, use, use the media as, as a as a partner with us to also help, like, where do we want to interrogate the data and what's next? Paul (21:23): And, you know, there's some obvious things like, you know, as vaccines start to roll out and travel restrictions get lifted, there's going to be like an uptick in travel. And so we'll be able to look at like the travel expenses within small businesses that they're logging and say, look at like, how are they actually increasing their travel expenditures and where are they actually spending their money? So are they spending money on Airbnb? Are they going to the chains? Are they spending on airlines? Like trains, like how travel patterns changed at all since, since in the past as well, Kathleen (21:57): This is the clearest indication that I'm a huge marketing nerd, but like, I get so excited when I hear this stuff like, Oh, fun to dig into that data and turn it into things. Paul (22:07): I think it's one of those things where, you know, we could have easily just kept going down the route of like buying a bunch of buying a bunch of units competing for keywords, doing all that kind of stuff, or, you know, which we still do, but we can also look at other ways that we can, can really kind of create and drive like this organic activity, which all marketers need to be really trying to figure out. Kathleen (22:28): Yeah, absolutely. All right. Shifting gears a little bit, let's talk about the branding, because you mentioned that you came in and there was a rebrand and you specifically explained that like, logo and a lot of that was already done when I hear that, I feel like, Hmm, that could be a double-edged sword, because if you literally have just come in as a CMO and somebody says, guess what? We just redid the logo and the colors and this and that. I knew that it could be like, Oh, great. Yeah, no, cause then you're stuck with the new one and you can't be like, let's change it again. But it sounds like in your situation, it was not that way. Paul (23:05): Yeah. It was the greatest way to come into a company. The biggest, the hardest part of it, any kind of rebrand or branding activity is getting, doing the change management and getting organizational buy-in. Yeah. That was done. So the entire brand effort was built up from the ground up. There was a brand council that brand council was like working on like what were the things that we needed to do and represent in the minds of our customers. So we had an agency called son and sons that was, was helping kind of, really kind of do that inward look. And also then, you know, what's what's role, what's the customer's role and how do those things, two things come together and, and getting down into like the, the challenges that every small business owner faces and in their journey of growth. Paul (23:57): And then what our role is within that, when I came in and the first month it was this big brand fair, where there was the entire company was mobilized and to generate ideas and around, and it could be anything, product marketing, M&A, anything in terms of like, how do we action this for our customers? And it was just basically like a huge kind of session that where people were pitching their ideas. And so you know, I came into that and so people were bought into it. They had already knew what was the place that we were going to occupy from a brand standpoint and a positioning standpoint. So I'm like, Hey, this is great. All I need to do is like, choose a logo. Kathleen (24:39): I feel like that's sort of a risky move on the part of the company and it paid off in this case. But like, yeah, when I think about that, it's like, Oh, we're going to hire a CMO. I would be like, we got to put the brakes on all of this branding stuff, because we don't want to do it and then have them walk in and be like, here you go. Paul (24:55): Well, I think there was part of that, like what I needed to do was like, you know, a lot of the work had been done in terms of crafting a story. But then we needed to get it down into like a strategy. So, so, you know, people got it and got what we doing now. We needed to make it tight and, and, and really just make sure that we can kind of bring it down so that once we engage other partners in, in trying to make this thing come to life, that once we kind of build up our story again, in terms of what we are doing externally, it, it made sense. So like, it was, it was really about like, you know, my it a great thing too, with the company is that like, it's very, very customer-oriented in terms of, of, of being able to when you like, so for example, when you come into the company, you have to do four weeks of customer service training and product knowledge. Paul (25:41): So you spend basically two weeks doing classroom sessions and then two weeks doing ticket and, and customer support. So you get to know the product in and out and you get to know the customers in and out. And whether it's their pain points, their joys, their hates, it's like everything about their experience with the product. So you kind of exit when you go into your seat, like you, you get it, like you get what these people are trying to do and how they think of FreshBooks in their day in day in and day out lives. And so, so that part of it is like such an interesting dynamic, but I've never been in an organization that is so customer-focused like this. So so, so all of this stuff is like, how do we now take this in and externalize it and make sure people understand that, that we get them. Paul (26:26): And we get them at a, at an emotional level that not a lot of other companies do. And so that's where, where it was like, for me, it's like, how do we now take that and, and tell that story to our customers. And that's the journey that we're on right now. So we've done a ton of stuff there. Like we launched a campaign before, right before the pandemic hit in, in Texas, where we took a bunch of markets and we were looking at the lift that we would generate through a bunch of different media plan media that we had in market. And we had like a big coordinated, integrated campaign and with OTT and performance media and some traditional media. And, and then of course, like everything got shut down. So it's like plans. So it's like, Hey, now we have to pivot on everything. But it was great. Like all the early warning kind of early warning indicators are coming in very, very positively. So it kind of told us like, Hey, everything's right. Like we need to launch this thing and just get it out in to prime time. But when, cause the you know, COVID, so, yeah. Kathleen (27:30): So when you, when you think about that, you know, you talked about, like, we had the, we had the, the story, we had the brand, it just like really, wasn't kind of like delivered to the market. When you think, when you came in and you were thinking about how do we take, what we've, this, this baby we've developed and like, put it out there into the world. What does that look like? I mean, obviously you had a lot of balls in the air and you talked about an integrated campaign. Can you give me sort of a high level overview of how you think about taking a new brand to market? Paul (28:00): Yeah, sure. So you know, I think you know, most people don't care is like customers don't care whether or not you created a new logo or not. And, and, you know, I come in you know, I came in really with that type of mindset that like, we can go into market. This is more about us than it is our customers. So you know, this was about us just confirming a commitment as a company to what we're doing and, and moving forward. You know, we sure we got some feedback from customers when we launched the logo and things like that, but, but really the feedback that we wanted to get was, you know, if we're saying that we're in, we understand the, you know, the feelings that customers have, the isolation of being a business owner, and if not, we're here to help them through those times. Paul (28:50): Like, are we credible in saying that? So it was really just testing that, making sure that, that, that message resonated well, that, that, like, it, it ticked off all the kind of key things that we needed to do from a brand tracking standpoint. And, and just go with it and really, you know, we got that feedback. We tried to line it up more with like, you know, kind of market moments and, and the things that we do, because we're a small business, we're, you know, we're a mid-market business, but we have lots of learnings. So everything we do, we try to then help tell our customers why we're doing it and give them a little bit of of an insight into you know, why are we changing our logo and what that actually means to us. So we wrote a big, long blog post about not just like why we're changing our logo, but how we did it. Paul (29:35): And, and just like, so if you're thinking of changing your logo, here's like the playbook that we did. So everything we do, we try to like, then kind of turn it and take a little bit of a different slant on it. So it's not like, you know, bang the drums. We have a new logo, everybody come here and you'd be amazed with it's with this design. It was really a very like, Hey, we did this. And if you're thinking of doing it, here's like the thought process that you could go through. Here's like the tools and the, the different types of things you can read on, on doing that. So, so we always try to take that from the lens of, like, why would an owner really care about this? Well, maybe they're thinking of doing this type of effort to, Kathleen (30:11): So it's been about a year and a half, and I'm, I'm sitting here feeling kind of blown away by how much you've done in that time. It's a lot, and a lot has happened in that time, because we've had COVID and all these changes, as you indicated, like, and it was funny listening to you talk about it too, because I started not this job. I started a new job a little over a year ago, January as head of marketing at a company did my whole, like after 30 days, I had my whole plan, my whole marketing plan mapped out, and then the pandemic hit. I was like, well, throw that out the window. You know, and it's, it is, it's incredibly disruptive. And so it's amazing what you've accomplished. I would love it. If you could speak a little bit to, you know, what, what that has done in terms of transformation of your marketing, you know, and I know there's only certain things you can and cannot share, but like, can you, can you get into a little bit of like before and after for me, or, Paul (31:06): Oh, of course. I mean, as I kind of mentioned before, we're going through this, like a growth phase. So, you know, we were built out like, you know, we're building out our B2B capability and capacity and building up that, that whole kind of ability to just do demand gen do a lot more kind of intent-based marketing, building up our capabilities in that space, along with keeping our, this kind of a tree, this big funnel kind of going on our self-serve side. But, but really it's like it, I mean that the pandemic just like blew everything up because all of the assumptions that we had didn't know if any of them were gonna keep going. So we did three different models in terms of where we thought the year would end up, that we took to our board. We got feedback, like there was people coming with nine, 10, 13 different types of bottles for like, well, you might as well, why not? Paul (31:56): If you're at 13, why not 20? Right. But, but it's, it's so we, we just said, Hey, let's take this case scenario. And then be very, very, very flexible with our cash. So, you know, like most companies, we can track that a bit, like in terms of we thoughtfully just like, let's like remove some costs from the equation. We think we're going to go through a bit of a downturn. Let's you know, pull back on our spending, but be really, really ready to just like open the flood Gates if seeing what happens. And, and really, we didn't see a tremendous down downward impact on our business. We saw some cancels. I think we were kind of pulling forward what may have been some cancels or some churn that that would have happened regardless. But then we stabilized very, very quickly. And then saw like the summer, like last summer was a very good time to be spending cause a lot of people exited the market. Paul (32:45): The economies in terms of driving CAC were great. And, and so, you know, of course we're then doing re-forecasting. And, you know, our August re forecast was then our 2021 reforecast, but then as new people entered the market in the fall, then, then the economy's changed around hot day. Yeah. And so, and so, you know, and so a lot of the assumptions that we made even in our, in our 21 plan are not coming true because we were doing them in a time when, when we were seeing some real, when a lot of people that just exited the market. So so it, you know, right now we're just in this continuous cycle we reforecast a lot now just within the marketing team. Paul (33:28): I think the main thing that we're doing is really just trying to make sure that, that you know, we're hitting the core metrics that any SaaS company we really mindful of our LTV to CAC. So we look at our costs. We just look at all, all our early warning indicators in terms of people engaging in trials and making sure like our pipeline is healthy and all of those types of things. And it's right now, it's just being really, really ready to shift, to turn, to pivot, to pull back to. And it's, it's at a very, very like a channel by channel level now, like is mobile is our mobile channel working is, do we need to pull that back mobile web versus desktop versus, you know, it's so it's, it's a very it's w the, the folks who are on the controls right now, they're very hands on the controls. Kathleen (34:11): Nice. Well, I mean, unbelievable. And, and I would love, I know I can't, but I would love to get a look at like how you guys do forecasting and modeling. I feel like that's something that we're grappling with. I'm at a, I'm at a series, a startup, and we're constantly re-evaluating and we've new products launching, and you come up with your kind of, back of the envelope forecast, and then you have to re forecast as soon as you start to see a little bit of traction. And so I'm always fascinated by that process, but that's for another podcast, right? Paul (34:39): Yeah, no, absolutely. And I'd love it. It's such a fascinating area that I think a lot of people just don't really understand how much marketers spend on, on that and how much are our, you know, database assumptions, how much are WAGs or wild-ass guesses and what it takes to actually make all this stuff come true. Kathleen (34:58): Yeah. You know, we go into marketing thinking, we're not going to be stuck in spreadsheets and jokes on us. Paul (35:03): Yeah. That's why I, I love our FP and a team and having some good marketing, finance people are always a, a valuable thing to have within any, any department. Kathleen (35:11): Amen. let's change gears now because we're kind of coming up to the end of our time. No problem. So there are two questions. I always ask all of my guests. And I'm curious to hear what you have to say. The first is, of course, we talk a lot about inbound marketing on this podcast. Is there a particular company or individual that you think is really kind of setting the bar for what it means to be a great inbound marketer? Paul (35:33): Yeah, so one company that I can really appreciate today is Clear, but, and particularly because they're all over my social feeds promoting their social targeting capabilities. So when we talk about does the practitioner or the subcontractor have a really nice home, it's nice to see a company that's actually promoting its own product through the channels that it's actually promoting. So I'm like good, good for them. I give them a big round of applause. Companies that I kind of, I look at, like, there's a couple of folks you know, within this data space, there's a company. I look to a company called drop loyalty. They they're like kind of a millennial money. It's a little like a latent loyalty and rewards program for millennials. And they built out this product called Cartify, which takes the data. And then they've been able to build out some awesome types of insights there. So I think those guys are, are, are absolutely killing it in that space as well. Kathleen (36:34): Oh, I can't wait to check those out. Second question. All the marketers, I talked to say that one of the greatest challenges they face is just keeping pace with the incredibly, you know, fast changing world of digital marketing. And so how do you personally keep yourself educated and up? Paul (36:49): Yeah. so I will never recommend a book because I find books are generally out of date. I've in my career path, I've done a lot of different things. Like if you, if you look at it, you might say, Hey, there's some sort of rhyme or reason to that, but I've just gone into areas that I've been interested in, whether it's programmatic or whether it's data science or machine learning. And so I just find like, I get really obsessed with something and just read everything I can about it, and just try to target subject matter experts in that space. So, you know, I think nowadays, there's, there's so many different forums whether they're different Slack groups or, you know, I haven't spent a lot of time in clubhouse, but, you know, I hear it's the place to be if you want to go and learn some stuff. So there's, there's just like so many places that you could find those subject matter experts. Now, I think it's just like immerse yourself. And in that topic, I find personally, it's hard to do multiple topics at the same time. So I just, I just try to do one thing at a time. Kathleen (37:46): Yeah. And it's funny, you mentioned clubhouse because I can't get sucked into it. Because for me, LinkedIn is the place. I feel like what I always say is you have to pick your platform and like go deep in the platform that you're going to commit to. And maybe, maybe you can have two, I don't know. But like, I, there are people I see who are on, who are everywhere and I'm just like, when do you actually get your real work done? Paul (38:07): I know, I know it's a lot. Yeah. And I spent a lot of time doing social media consulting in like the late two thousands or working in a SAS company in the social media space. So I've I've, I've, I've let that all become very lax after like 2012. Kathleen (38:23): Yeah. It's nice to be able to do that every now and then just say, you know what, we're going to turn that one off. Great. Well, speaking of social media and the web if somebody is listening and they to learn more about what you've talked about here today, or connect with you online, what is the best way for them to do that? Paul (38:41): Yeah, they could just, if they Google CowanPKC, all of my socials will show up or I'm just Paul K Cowan on LinkedIn. And people can shoot me a note and just make sure you mention the podcast. Kathleen (38:57): All right. Great. And I will put these links in the show notes so that they're easy to find. And any other resources you want to direct folks to. Paul (39:05): If you're interested in finding any information about like the small business resource stuff and what we're doing, you can just go to our website. If you could just go to freshbooks.com, just head over to the resources or press area, and you'll find all that stuff. Kathleen (39:20): I'm definitely going to check that out because I'm working on data stuff. So awesome. I love seeing what other people are doing. All right. Well, Paul, it was great having you here today for those who are listening, if you learn something new or you enjoyed this episode, I would love it. If you would head to Apple podcasts and leave the podcast a review, that's how other folks find us. And if you know someone doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork, because I would love to make them my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much, Paul. Paul (39:49): Thank you, Kathleen. It was awesome.  

    Ep. 191: How FreshBooks pivoted during COVID ft. Paul Cowan

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2021 40:19

    How do you make marketing lemonade out of a pandemic? This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, FreshBooks CMO Paul Cowan explains how the company pivoted when COVID hit, and made use of its proprietary data to create content and insights that drove a new marketing strategy. When Paul joined FreshBooks, he inherited a 45 person marketing team with a strong SEO game. After reorganizing the team, he built on that foundation by adjusting the company's messaging to target an owner/CEO audience, while unearthing new content opportunities within FreshBooks' customer data. Fast forward to 2020, and when COVID hit, the company was ready to launch a massive new original research series focusing on the financial health of various industry sectors based on their invoicing behavior. In this interview, Paul talks about navigating an internal restructuring, revamping the company's brand and tech stack, and how its new content efforts have fueled significant increases in brand awareness for FreshBooks. Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to hear Paul's story. Resources from this episode: Visit the FreshBooks website Connect with Paul on LinkedIn Follow Paul on Twitter Transcript Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Paul Cowan, who is the COO of FreshBooks. Welcome to the podcast, Paul. Paul (00:23): Hi, Kathleen. Great to be here. Kathleen (00:25): Yeah. I'm excited to talk with you. You have an interesting story and you've been at FreshBooks for about a year and a half, and a lot has happened in that time. Before we dive into it though, can you tell my listeners a little bit about yourself and how you wound up doing what you're doing now, and what FreshBooks does? Paul (00:41): Yeah, for sure. So firstly FreshBooks. We're a cloud accounting software platform. So we focus on helping small business owners manage their business, really managing their finances for non-financial managers. So, you know, the key differentiator between us and other folks in this space that you you've probably heard of is that we really focus on the small business owner. So others have built their platforms for accountants. We were started by an owner from a pain point that owner had. So, we kind of started on a point solution 15 years ago and then have grown into being an accounting platform for business owners. Kathleen (01:19): I so needed this when I owned my business. I owned a digital marketing agency for 11 years and I don't know how other marketers are, but the reason I became a marketer is I was terrible at things like accounting, which I did study in business school. Paul (01:36): It's funny. Marketers are one of our strongest verticals. So we kind of target service-based businesses or people who kind of their invoice and their client relationship is kind of the core pieces of, of, of of how they operate. And so our software is really kind of built around that. And I was actually a FreshBooks customer in 2013 and 2014 when I was doing some consulting. So I do know the space and the need to actually arrange your books appropriately as well. Kathleen (02:07): Yeah, it's a big deal. I mean, it's funny. They always joke. There's that running joke about how doctors make terrible business managers, business owners, but I, for me, the same was true of me as a marketer. I, again, I cannot speak for all marketers, but I was just not good at the money side so I can see the need for the product for sure. Now you came in about a year and a half ago and you've done quite a bit of work on the brand and, and on the marketing strategy, let's start by just talking about that. When you, when you got there, what did you find and what path did you start to chart for yourself as CMO? Paul (02:46): For sure. So, so like most when most companies are looking for a CMO, it's generally indicating that some sort of change is going on. So, you know, I was, I was running enterprise and SMB marketing for Shutterstock and, and so I was selling stock imagery and videos and custom content to marketers. And I was having a grand old time doing it. I really liked it. And then FreshBooks came calling and, and, and they were really looking to go through some growth. And so they'd been investing a lot in product. They've been investing a lot into new channel activation and, and they were, they'd been on a hunt for a CFO for a little while, and hadn't really been able to find the right kind of person. And, and I think part of it was like the founder, Mike, he, you know, it was the founders CEO of a, of a company he wants to make sure you're getting people in there who get the pain points, get the problem. Paul (03:40): And, and I kinda came in with like, I'd had B2C experience. I had B2B experience. I'd been an owner of three different companies in the past. I'd gone through all the trials and tribulations of what an owner had. So he was like, great. Like you, you know it, so, we got along very well and, and I joined the company cause they're like, you know, we need to, we need to go through this, this, this time of growth. So you know, I came on board to, to, to help kind of get a couple of things right. It, in terms of the, the organization that, you know, there was just some, some, some structural challenges that were there. So, you know, I came in and did the two things that every cliche CMO does. I reorganized the team and I rebranded. Paul (04:23): And so, you know, the reorg I knew was something that I needed to do. So there was just a lot of challenges within the company in terms of like, not all the marketing kind of disciplines were together as a, as a full marketing function. There were some, some things that the company was doing in terms of like investing into a direct Salesforce, which it really hadn't had, it made a significant investment there before, and most of our business was done through self-service channels. So we needed to have self-serve, we needed to have demand generation. We needed to make sure we were kind of managing those two types of customers differently. And get the structure, the right structure in place. So I came in and did that stuff fairly, fairly early on in my tenure there. The brand stuff was kind of interesting because the company had been going through a two year process, like re-evaluating who it was and insuring and reaffirming its commitment to its customer. Paul (05:20): So I kinda came in at the tail end of that, like all the logo and the design elements and all that stuff was done, but they just hadn't been pushed over kind of the finish line. And so so my role there, like, I didn't come in and say, Hey, we need to rebrand. I came in and said, man, we've done all this work. Or you guys have done all this work. You really just need to kind of move this forward and progress things so that we're making an indication to the market that we're changing as an organization. And, we're representing something slightly different in the eyes of our customer. Kathleen (05:52): I have so many questions. In no particular order, let's start with the team, because that's kind of where you started. How big was the team when you got there? Paul (06:03): Yeah, so I think it was, we were probably 45-ish type of people within the marketing group and in the companies around you know, right now we're at about like just over 400 people globally in a couple of different offices. Kathleen (06:17): And talk me through how you restructured it. You mentioned not all of the different disciplines work together. So what did that look like the before and after? Paul (06:26): So really it was kind of a tale of a couple of different departments. So you know, we had an acquisition team that was, was doing a great job in terms of driving top of funnel activity, but they weren't really too accountable to the conversion metric. Within that attrition funnel, we drive a lot of free trials and then those trials convert into paid users. But, but that team was really kind of focused on like optimizing that front end of the funnel. So we needed to do some changes and bring in some folks who weren't just going to be performance marketing oriented. We needed to bring in marketing strategy, the people who got demand, build the actual B2B capabilities. And then get that kind of funnel activity structured right then we had a pretty functioning customer marketing team or life cycle marketing or CRM. Paul (07:18): However, you want to kind of frame it. The one area that we needed to just get in order was the marketing operation. So we just needed to kind of centralize that and make sure that that team was all together, that we built out like a capability in terms of how we managed our MarTech stack and centralized all that underneath our our customer marketing lead product marketing wasn't in marketing, it was in product. So we said, Hey, let's shift this back over. Comms wasn't in marketing. Kind of critical. So it was sitting within our strategy group. We had an event team that was doing event activity that was not tied to any of our lead generation activities. And they were just kind of off like running more of what I would call brand or community oriented activities. Paul (08:01): And that was underneath our BD team. So, there was just a lot of like weird stuff going on, but just how the company had, had kind of structured a grown up and done things. So, just first needed to get everybody together and align under, under one marketing strategy, understanding what the goals were that we were trying to drive to and and just bring it all together. And, really, it was like a game of efficiencies in terms of content generation. And in terms of all the types of things that we could, we could generate by just like optimizing against like that, that customer journey. Kathleen (08:32): Yeah. Wow. That that's a lot of moving parts, but I also am very curious to hear how you navigated just from a relationship standpoint and coming in as the new guy and, and looking at these different marketing functions that are sitting under BD and under strategy and under all these other places, how you navigated the relationships with the leaders of those parts of the company to I'm going to take these people and move them under me. Paul (08:58): Yeah. I mean, thankfully we had a lot of adults at the table and there wasn't a lot of territory issues. I think most of the folks there were like, Hey, you know, I know that this really shouldn't be under me, but I've been shepherding it. Well, we haven't had someone who's seen the full picture. So I think just like previous regimes of leadership within the marketing group, either leaned maybe towards like direct marketing only, or performance marketing or, or, or in other areas. So they really didn't kind of bring all the activities together. So, so the organization knew it needed someone to kind of do it part of it. Half of like, yes, just like putting it down on a page and doing it. But I think, you know, you're alluding to the whole change management exercise and, you know, it was really more about like, how do we get you know, how do we get all the different people to then work together and make sure that, you know, because we're taking things that they may have built up and it's great within the, their, their portfolio, but it wasn't because it wasn't tied to like a demand gen activity. Paul (10:02): And we weren't really kind of assessing the ROI of some of these action that we were running. It's like, you know, they were a little bit more under scrutiny, but, but really we're just like, how do we take these things and dose everything with, with gas so that we could just light this whole thing up on fire and, and, and get way more efficient with everything that we were doing. Kathleen (10:20): Yeah. And you mentioned one of the key areas for kind of reorganization or, or streamlining being around your top of funnel content efforts, it sounded like your inbound efforts really aligning those with your strategy to pull prospects down the funnel. Can you dig into that a little bit more? Paul (10:41): Yeah, absolutely. So a couple of things that were going on really well when I got there was like our, our SEO game was off the hook. Like we had a huge amount of volume and the team had some real solid SEO experts and, and they just were, were focused on, on what we needed to do to build out and to, to just like, make our site magnetic and and make sure that we're covering off, like all of the terms within the invoicing accounting payment space that, that we needed to be in. So, so like all of that activity was going, going really, really well. You know, we have like this performance machine, right. So we needed to, we need to make sure we're filling that machine. One of the things that I think we're ignoring the most previous immediate to me coming in was really the messaging we were putting into that performance machine. Paul (11:27): So, you know, we had some great kind of stuff going on in the, in the SEO space where, where, you know, we're, we're getting people in our performance media and our ads. We are great in SEM, but not great in any other channels. Mainly I attribute that to just being like the creative felt like everything else in the space. So like everybody's out there saying all in one accounting solutions and you could rip the logo off and it would be for any other company. So we tried to pivot that and just be more focused on like appealing to the owner and the mindset of the owner. So that was a big portion of what we were doing purely from like a top of funnel ad content space, get our differentiation rolling and tie it into everything that we were doing from a branding and brand strategy standpoint. Paul (12:09): The content game, like underneath there was, was pretty good. Like our blog is, is, is great. You know, we, we get some good traction. We just weren't doing things like webinars or, or, or other types of layers to our content strategy. So we could build a big piece in and you set apart. Or we weren't like taking research reports that we were doing and turning them into smaller blog posts. So a lot of the effort was like, Hey, let's look at all these assets that we currently have, that all these different teams are doing. And then how do we just like, get smarter with them so that we're not going to, we don't have to keep reproducing more and more and more and more. And so a lot of the effort, even now that our blog team does is just like repurposing old posts and just making sure that they're optimized and, and kind of rinse repeat. And now we're, we're taking a slightly different approach to how we really look at the content that we're going to generate and, and kind of put across the whole funnel off of some of the stuff that we really know about our customers. Kathleen (13:05): So when you say you're taking a different approach, is it just shifting topic-wise or audience-wise, or is there something else to that? Paul (13:11): Yeah, so a couple of things. So one area that I'm a huge believer in is like, you know, I think every company has some under-resourced assets or some sort of like gold or oil around that it's just not tapping into. And so, you know, one area that I see is like, Hey, we've got like a whole bunch of customers that are using our, you know, doing, entering their expenses and invoicing within our platform. And we have a big opportunity to start to reveal that to our customers or to the market as a whole. And, and, you know, there's, there's some gold within there. So it was actually interesting because through the whole pandemic and when the first, when the first downturn kind of happened in, in March of last year, what we found was like there was a lot of different government agencies that were looking to understand what was actually happening within the small business sector. Paul (14:03): And so we said, we've got all this data on the small business sector, and we were able to see how much small businesses were actually impacted. And in terms of the revenue that they were, they were they were producing over that timeframe and when they actually recovered and, and so the government was like, Oh, great. We'd have to wait for like a census next year tax time to, to really understand what's going on and to inform stimulus packages and things of that effect. So we're like, Hey, you know, this is really valuable yes. To the government also to businesses, just for them to kind of be able to understand how they're performing versus their sectors, the industry as a whole, and that kind of thing. So what we're really kind of focused on is like, how do we take our data and use that as like a big magnet to bring people in? Paul (14:48): So let's like publish this data back to the, to to our audiences and to owners, so they can understand different things that are happening within their verticals, within their sectors and that kind of stuff. And, and there's tons of like lots and lots of examples of, of, of companies who do this, like, you know, MailChimp or HubSpot. They do a lot of great stuff like that, where they'll, they'll publish like benchmarks in terms of email, open rates and these kinds of things, but we've got like what might be much more harder to get data. Kathleen (15:16): Yeah. Now what does that look like for you? So, because I've worked on this too, we have lots of data in our platform, and we do a quarterly report where we sum up, in our case, what's happening with malvertising attack patterns and threat levels. It's very nerdy to the ad tech world. And, and that's something I think a lot about is it's one thing to say, we're going to share our data. It's entirely another to really conceptualize the right way to share it where it's not just digestible, but it's, it's kind of like set up for vitality. And then the question is, do you do it in one big report or do you chunk it out? And so I'm curious how you guys are approaching that. Paul (15:54): Yeah. So like, I'm a huge fan of, of just like doing indexes, like being able to give someone a tool that they can, they can use and, and be able to understand what's actually going on. So, you know, we've, we, of course first started with reports because that helps us be able to build the different types of things that we would need to build, whether they're indexes or otherwise. And then, and then kind of piques our curiosity around where do we want to go deep and where do we want, not, where do we want to be very kind of general? So, so the first thing we did was we produced like a women's report and, and how how women were, were negatively impact or women owned businesses were negatively impacted by COVID and still are having a hard time performing at the, at the pace of, of their male counterparts. And, and so we were finding really some interesting findings there. We have our general report, we started going into trades and construction. That industry has actually fared really, really well through the pandemic. Like it had a big downturn, but then they've like, they're, they're exceeding historical patterns in terms of revenue generation. And, and, you know, I think the obvious is obvious, like around things like, Hey, there, you know, people are at home or disposable income, they're, you know, trying to improve their home office and all of that kind of stuff. Kathleen (17:09): We sit around all day staring at all the things that are wrong with our houses and that we want to fix. My husband would tell you that our project list has grown exponentially since COVID started. Paul (17:20): Yeah, absolutely. So I think from there, it's like, Hey, do we want to do quarterly reports? Or do we want to build a tool that people can just access all the time? And so we're, we're building a tool right now so that people can get there. We have a bunch of reports. But you know, I've looked at other companies that I really like, you know, there's companies in the lending space, like borrow well. And and they've like, they have, like, from an inbound perspective, they've got a credit there, so do loans and borrowing and and so they have a credit score calculator and that thing doesn't matter what else they do. Their credit score calculator is their magnet. It just brings everybody to their site. They fill it out, they use Facebook and lots of other places it's become such a lead engine for those guys that they sell leads to other creditors or people that they would not want to ever loan to. Paul (18:12): So they've created this like revenue machine that they can go in and refer people to other places. So, you know, I see that as is, you know, that'd be a great outcome for us if we able to bring people in. But I also think like beyond even just our market that we're servicing today, like there's lots of people in the VC space, like who would be really in the investment space, who are really interested in this data as well. So, so I'm also interested in like, Hey, is there other markets that we could actually be servicing with this, the state of two that we could potentially monetize down the road as well. Kathleen (18:44): Now, do you foresee the tool that you're building as really kind of destined to be a lead magnet like you described, or, or do you foresee at some point that the data or the tool you're building with the data could become a product in and of itself that you sell access to? Paul (18:58): Yeah, absolutely. Both. So it's, you know, we're, we're kind of the sharp end of the spear to say, Hey, like, let's just show that there's demand for this in market. And and, and we've seen it already. So, you know, both from, yes, the government's interested, but just purely from a PR standpoint, we have like a huge amount of hits on, on just like that woman's report to say to, for us to just talk about it and, and, and go deeper into what's actually what people are, what we're seeing in the data. And, and so, yeah, and then I think that there's kind of two places. One is like, Hey, is there a place that we can actually take this and turn it into an actual product? And whether it's via API or otherwise, like, do we want to sell this data, or also, how do we bring this back into our platform and go a little bit deeper into it? Paul (19:42): So, you know, if example of like you being a, a marketing services person, and you're kind of saying, Hey you know, what should my billable rate be? And, and us being able to surface those types of things, because we have that like all anonymized of course, but if we're able to say, you know, if you're up in North Dakota and you're doing graphic design work, here's what all the graphic designers are actually charging from a an hourly rate standpoint. And so here's where you kind of should, should really be thinking about it based on, on your business. Kathleen (20:13): That is awesome. And you sort of answered one of the next questions I was going to have, which is around PR because whenever I think of original data and research, it's like, you know, candy for organic press coverage or earned PR press coverage. So have you, have you, have you done any specific pitching to the press around it or is it just getting picked up? Like, do you have a strategy to support that? Paul (20:38): Yeah, we're, we're absolutely. So we're, we're absolutely tying it into our PR activity where we're just really kind of getting the ball go in there, but we, we took like, our women's report, for example, is one of the lead things that we wanted to see if there would be some, some market interest in and through January, we got a ton of pickup on it. So lots of people leading into obviously leading into international women's day. Like, so January, February, where some big months for us in terms of getting a lot, a lot of interests really across North America in terms of pickup for it. But yeah, I think, I think where we want to go with this is then turn this in and also, you know, use, use the media as, as a as a partner with us to also help, like, where do we want to interrogate the data and what's next? Paul (21:23): And, you know, there's some obvious things like, you know, as vaccines start to roll out and travel restrictions get lifted, there's going to be like an uptick in travel. And so we'll be able to look at like the travel expenses within small businesses that they're logging and say, look at like, how are they actually increasing their travel expenditures and where are they actually spending their money? So are they spending money on Airbnb? Are they going to the chains? Are they spending on airlines? Like trains, like how travel patterns changed at all since, since in the past as well, Kathleen (21:57): This is the clearest indication that I'm a huge marketing nerd, but like, I get so excited when I hear this stuff like, Oh, fun to dig into that data and turn it into things. Paul (22:07): I think it's one of those things where, you know, we could have easily just kept going down the route of like buying a bunch of buying a bunch of units competing for keywords, doing all that kind of stuff, or, you know, which we still do, but we can also look at other ways that we can, can really kind of create and drive like this organic activity, which all marketers need to be really trying to figure out. Kathleen (22:28): Yeah, absolutely. All right. Shifting gears a little bit, let's talk about the branding, because you mentioned that you came in and there was a rebrand and you specifically explained that like, logo and a lot of that was already done when I hear that, I feel like, Hmm, that could be a double-edged sword, because if you literally have just come in as a CMO and somebody says, guess what? We just redid the logo and the colors and this and that. I knew that it could be like, Oh, great. Yeah, no, cause then you're stuck with the new one and you can't be like, let's change it again. But it sounds like in your situation, it was not that way. Paul (23:05): Yeah. It was the greatest way to come into a company. The biggest, the hardest part of it, any kind of rebrand or branding activity is getting, doing the change management and getting organizational buy-in. Yeah. That was done. So the entire brand effort was built up from the ground up. There was a brand council that brand council was like working on like what were the things that we needed to do and represent in the minds of our customers. So we had an agency called son and sons that was, was helping kind of, really kind of do that inward look. And also then, you know, what's what's role, what's the customer's role and how do those things, two things come together and, and getting down into like the, the challenges that every small business owner faces and in their journey of growth. Paul (23:57): And then what our role is within that, when I came in and the first month it was this big brand fair, where there was the entire company was mobilized and to generate ideas and around, and it could be anything, product marketing, M&A, anything in terms of like, how do we action this for our customers? And it was just basically like a a huge kind of session that where people were pitching their ideas. And so you know, I came into that and so people were bought into it. They had already knew what was the place that we were going to occupy from a brand standpoint and a positioning standpoint. So I'm like, Hey, this is great. All I need to do is like, choose a logo. Kathleen (24:39): I feel like that's sort of a risky move on the part of the company and it paid off in this case. But like, yeah, when I think about that, it's like, Oh, we're going to hire a CMO. I would be like, we got to put the brakes on all of this branding stuff, because we don't want to do it and then have them walk in and be like, here you go. Paul (24:55): Well, I think there was part of that, like what I needed to do was like, you know, a lot of the work had been done in terms of crafting a story. But then we needed to get it down into like a strategy. So, so, you know, people got it and got what we doing now. We needed to make it tight and, and, and really just make sure that we can kind of bring it down so that once we engage other partners in, in trying to make this thing come to life, that once we kind of build up our story again, in terms of what we are doing externally, it, it made sense. So like, it was, it was really about like, you know, my it a great thing too, with the company is that like, it's very, very customer oriented in terms of, of, of being able to when you like, so for example, when you come into the company, you have to do four weeks of customer service training and product knowledge. Paul (25:41): So you you spend basically two weeks doing classroom sessions and then two weeks doing ticket and, and customer support. So you get to know the product in and out and you get to know the customers in and out. And whether it's their pain points, their joys, their hates, it's like everything about their experience with the product. So you kind of exit when you go into your seat, like you, you get it, like you get what these people are trying to do and how they think of FreshBooks in their day in day in and day out lives. And so, so that part of it is like such an interesting dynamic, but I've never been in an organization that is so customer focused like this. So so, so all of this stuff is like, how do we now take this in and externalize it and make sure people understand that, that we get them. Paul (26:26): And we get them at a, at an emotional level that not a lot of other companies do. And so that's where, where it was like, for me, it's like, how do we now take that and, and tell that story to our customers. And that's the journey that we're on right now. So we've done a ton of stuff there. Like we launched a campaign before, right before the pandemic hit in, in Texas, where we took a bunch of markets and we were looking at the lift that we would generate through through a bunch of different media plan media that we had in market. And we had like a big coordinated, integrated campaign and with OTT and performance media and some traditional media. And, and then of course, like everything got shut down. So it's like plans. So it's like, Hey, now we have to pivot on everything. But but it was great. Like all the early warning kind of early warning indicators are coming in very, very positively. So it kind of told us like, Hey, everything's right. Like we need to launch this thing and just get it out in to prime time. But when, cause the you know, COVID, so, yeah. Kathleen (27:30): So when you, when you think about that, you know, you talked about, like, we had the, we had the, the story, we had the brand, it just like really, wasn't kind of like delivered to the market. When you think, when you came in and you were thinking about how do we take, what we've, this, this baby we've developed and like, put it out there into the world. What does that look like? I mean, obviously you had a lot of balls in the air and you talked about an integrated campaign. Can you give me sort of a high level overview of how you think about taking a new brand to market? Paul (28:00): Yeah, sure. So you know, I think you know, most people don't care is like customers don't care whether or not you created a new logo or not. And, and, you know, I come in you know, I came in really with that type of mindset that like, we can go into market. This is more about us than it is our customers. So you know, this was about us just confirming a commitment as a company to what we're doing and, and moving forward. You know, we sure we got some feedback from customers when we launched the logo and things like that, but, but really the feedback that we wanted to get was, you know, if we're saying that we're in, we understand the, you know, the feelings that customers have, the isolation of being a business owner, and if not, we're here to help them through those times. Paul (28:50): Like, are we credible in saying that? So it was really just testing that, making sure that, that, that message resonated well, that, that, like, it, it ticked off all the kind of key things that we needed to do from a brand tracking standpoint. And, and just go with it and really, you know, we got that feedback. We tried to line it up more with like, you know, kind of market moments and, and the things that we do, because we're a small business, we're, you know, we're a mid-market business, but we have lots of learnings. So everything we do, we try to then help tell our customers why we're doing it and give them a little bit of of an insight into you know, why are we changing our logo and what that actually means to us. So we wrote a big, long blog post about not just like why we're changing our logo, but how we did it. Paul (29:35): And, and just like, so if you're thinking of changing your logo, here's like the playbook that we did. So everything we do, we try to like, then kind of turn it and take a little bit of a different slant on it. So it's not like, you know, bang the drums. We have a new logo, everybody come here and you'd be amazed with it's with this design. It was really a very like, Hey, we did this. And if you're thinking of doing it, here's like the thought process that you could go through. Here's like the tools and the, the different types of things you can read on, on doing that. So, so we always try to take that from the lens of, like, why would an owner really care about this? Well, maybe they're thinking of doing this type of effort to, Kathleen (30:11): So it's been about a year and a half, and I'm, I'm sitting here feeling kind of blown away by how much you've done in that time. It's a lot, and a lot has happened in that time, because we've had COVID and all these changes, as you indicated, like, and it was funny listening to you talk about it too, because I started not this job. I started a new job a little over a year ago, January as head of marketing at a company did my whole, like after 30 days, I had my whole plan, my whole marketing plan mapped out, and then the pandemic hit. I was like, well, throw that out the window. You know, and it's, it is, it's incredibly disruptive. And so it's amazing what you've accomplished. I would love it. If you could speak a little bit to, you know, what, what that has done in terms of transformation of your marketing, you know, and I know there's only certain things you can and cannot share, but like, can you, can you get into a little bit of like before and after for me, or, Paul (31:06): Oh, of course. I mean, as I kind of mentioned before, we're going through this, like a growth phase. So, you know, we were built out like, you know, we're building out our B2B capability and capacity and building up that, that whole kind of ability to just do demand gen do a lot more kind of intent-based marketing, building up our capabilities in that space, along with keeping our, this kind of a tree, this big funnel kind of going on our self-serve side. But, but really it's like it, I mean that the pandemic just like blew everything up because all of the assumptions that we had didn't know if any of them were gonna keep going. So, so we did three different models in terms of where we thought the year would end up, that we took to our board. We got feedback, like there was people coming with nine, 10, 13 different types of bottles for like, well, you might as well, why not? Paul (31:56): If you're at 13, why not 20? Right. But, but it's, it's so we, we just said, Hey, let's take this case scenario. And then be very, very, very flexible with our cash. So, you know, like most companies, we can track that a bit, like in terms of we thoughtfully just like, let's like remove some costs from the equation. We think we're going to go through a bit of a downturn. Let's you know, pull back on our spending, but be really, really ready to just like open the flood Gates if seeing what happens. And, and really, we didn't see a tremendous down downward impact on our business. We saw some cancels. I think we were kind of pulling forward what may have been some cancels or some churn that that would have happened regardless. But then we stabilized very, very quickly. And then saw like the summer, like last summer was a very good time to be spending cause a lot of people exited the market. Paul (32:45): The economies in terms of driving CAC were great. And, and so, you know, of course we're then doing re forecasting. And, you know, our August re forecast was then our 2021 reforecast, but then as new people entered the market in the fall, then, then the economy's changed around hot day. Yeah. And so, and so, you know, and so a lot of the assumptions that we made even in our, in our 21 plan are not coming true because we were doing them in a time when, when we were seeing some real, when a lot of people that just exited the market. So so it, you know, right now we're just in this continuous cycle we reforecast a lot now just within the marketing team. Paul (33:28): I think the main thing that we're doing is really just trying to make sure that, that you know, we're hitting the core metrics that any SaaS company we really mindful of our LTV to CAC. So we look at our costs. We just look at all, all our early warning indicators in terms of people engaging in trials and making sure like our pipeline is healthy and all of those types of things. And it's right now, it's just being really, really ready to shift, to turn, to pivot, to pull back to. And it's, it's at a very, very like a channel by channel level now, like is mobile is our mobile channel working is, do we need to pull that back mobile web versus desktop versus, you know, it's so it's, it's a very it's w the, the folks who are on the controls right now, they're very hands on the controls. Kathleen (34:11): Nice. Well, I mean, unbelievable. And, and I would love, I know I can't, but I would love to get a look at like how you guys do forecasting and modeling. I feel like that's something that we're grappling with. I'm at a, I'm at a series, a startup, and we're constantly re-evaluating and we've new products launching, and you come up with your kind of, back of the envelope forecast, and then you have to re forecast as soon as you start to see a little bit of traction. And so I'm always fascinated by that process, but that's for another podcast, right? Paul (34:39): Yeah, no, absolutely. And I'd love it. It's such a fascinating area that I think a lot of people just don't really understand how much marketers spend on, on that and how much are our, you know, database assumptions, how much are WAGs or wild-ass guesses and what it takes to actually make all this stuff come true. Ka