Tag Archives: podcast

Infographic: Your Brain On Visualization

I’m not going to lie – visual communication is incredibly more effective than just using plain old text. I’ll prove it to you. Which set of instructions is quicker to understand and more effective overall? This: Or this: Obtain a pair of scissors. Hold the bag out in front of you. Locate the perforated seam at the top of the bag. Using your scissors, carefully cut along the perforated line. Discard any excess trimmings. The bag is resealable – so close after using to preserve freshness. Which set of instructions is going to help you get the job of opening…

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Infographic: Your Brain On Visualization

Neil Patel’s Advanced Content Marketing Summit

The best part of attending a conference is getting all the latest juicy knowledge in one place, all at the same time, and before the rest of the world knows about it. When a conference is good, you frantically write down notes, future to-dos, new strategies and you can’t wait to get back to eagerly implement all your newfound knowledge. But then there are the down sides: Booking flights and hotel rooms Remembering to do all your expensing Forgetting something at home Completely fudging up your schedule Putting your dog in the kennel And the sheer exhaustion by the end…

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Neil Patel’s Advanced Content Marketing Summit

How Unbounce’s Marketing Team Grew From 1 to 31 [PODCAST]

Hey podcast listeners! You can listen to all previous episodes of the Call to Action podcast on our brand-spankin’ new episode hub here.

Imagine being one of the only marketers on the team at a budding startup.

You need to know the best practices for all sorts of campaigns: paid, content, social, email, partnerships… the list goes on. What’s more, you’re responsible for both strategy and execution (no matter how brilliant you are, there are only 24 hours in a day… and fewer if you want to, y’know, sleep).

full-stack-marketing-650
That’s a lot of hats to wear. Image source.

Sound like a nightmare? Well, it was the reality for Georgiana Laudi back when Unbounce was just a baby company. Today, she is the VP of Marketing and has watched the department grow to have more than 30 employees.

And while the role was surely stressful (wearing a lot of hats can make you look goofy), Gia’s hands-in-everything position taught her a lot about being a marketer and a manager.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Gia gives her take on:

  • The ideal time for teams to start moving away from hiring “full-stack” marketers and toward creating a larger team of specialists
  • Why Unbounce held off on performance marketing for so long in favor of an inbound marketing strategy
  • How marketing teams can do a better job empowering women on their team to start a family without feeling like they’re compromising their careers

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Mentioned in the podcast

  • Call to Action theme music brought to you by the great folks at Wistia.

Read the transcript

Gia: Hi, I’m Georgiana Laudi and I’m the VP Marketing at Unbounce.

Dan: I believe today is actually your fourth Unniversary, as we like to say at Unbounce. So I was thinking, let’s start at the very beginning just to provide some context. What were you doing before you started at Unbounce?

Gia: I was consulting, actually. I was doing web marketing for some startups and some mid-sized businesses in Montreal. I had been doing that for about two years. I was also running a couple of tech events in the city and was pretty active in the technology community and startup community in Montreal, which helped, obviously, to sort of feed my freelance gigs and keep me very, very busy.

Dan: What enticed you to move all the way across the country and join a young, fledgling startup?

Gia: It’s funny because I actually didn’t think of Unbounce as that young then because I was working with a lot of startups that were significantly younger and smaller. I saw a job posting that was shared on Twitter, and the job posting was just so compelling. And I had been wanting to try Unbounce for clients for a while. I had already heard about it and was considering using it. I wasn’t using landing pages at the time. And then basically what I did was I worked from Montreal for four months before moving. So I did do a little bit of due diligence there.

And then I went out to visit the office. There were only about 15 people in the office at the time and everybody there was super enthusiastic, super smart, super in love with the product. Unbounce’s customers also really sold me on joining because they were super vocal about how amazing their experience had been with both customer success and how much they loved the product. So it was just those two things combined. I felt like there was actually a ton of momentum already.

And I kind of regretted not getting on board sooner, to be honest — like I was late to the party, a bit. Yeah, that was when there were 15 people and obviously, there are a lot more than that now.

Dan: I guess the company was already a couple years old, though, wasn’t it?

Gia: It was almost two years but they hadn’t actually –my understanding is they didn’t actually make their first hire until a year in. So many of the employees – there was an early developer, and Ryan (Engley) and Jacquelyn (Ma) were actually one of the first three employees, and they only started about six months before me. So it actually hadn’t been that long that they’d been hiring.

Dan: One of the benefits of having six cofounders is they’re able to be independent for a while.

Gia: For much longer, yes.

Dan: There’s a story floating around about one of our cofounders driving your car across the country. Do you know what I’m getting at, here?

Gia: I do.

Dan: So it’s true.

Gia: It is true. And actually, the part of that story that you’re missing is that he actually crashed my car. I don’t even know if a lot of people know about this. It was basically – I mentioned my early-on visit to Vancouver and to HQ. And during the negotiation process of discussing whether or not I was going to join the team, I raised the big issue: all my stuff and my car are on the other side of the country. We didn’t have these hiring and relocation budgets back then so yeah, Oli basically offered to drive my car from Montreal to Vancouver.

And I think just as he hit the Ontario border… did he roll it? No, I don’t think he rolled it but it spun out. Anyway, it was pretty bad and he was delayed – I was already in Vancouver. So it actually took him a month longer to get my car fixed.

Dan: What? He didn’t get very far if he was just at the Ontario border.

Gia: No, he had only been driving like 45 minutes. It was pretty bad.

Dan: That’s funny. Well, it probably wasn’t funny at the time but it’s pretty funny now.

Gia: No, it wasn’t funny. It took about a couple of weeks to be funny. It was funny to everyone shortly thereafter, but at the moment, no. It wasn’t funny at all.

Dan: Fair enough. So what was it like being the first full-time, full-stack marketer on the team?

Gia: Busy. Really, really busy. Like I said, when I had first visited and first met the team — everybody being so in love with what they were doing and so dedicated to what they were doing — it was just sort of par for the course that we all just worked like crazy and we loved it. So I did a lot of evenings and a lot of weekends for the first year and a half, two years. I remember it being surprising to me when people would leave the office at 5. When that started to happen, that was a moment in the history of the company. Like wow, people are going home for dinner. What a concept! Or I should say 5 or 6.

But yeah, it was really intense but it was great because the stakes were really high. There was a ton of ownership. If we did really well, it directly reflected the work you were doing. If we did poorly, well, you had to own up to that, too. It was sort of this environment of learning. It was really, really cool actually, and super rewarding. The immediate results of hard work were the best reward for that.

Dan: Do you remember the moment when it became clear that you needed to hire more staff?

Gia: Yeah. That was sort of baked in just because of the nature of the company and how quickly we were growing. We knew that within not a very long time, we would be growing out this team. That was always sort of the plan. It was just a matter of articulating a job posting, to be honest. I think I made the first hire in marketing within nine months of joining the company. The blog was – and still is – a large percentage of the efforts being made within the marketing department were focused on the blog, and big marketing, big content stuff.

What we were posting at the time was two or three times a week. I wanted to amp it up to five because what I had seen was a lot of our acquisition was largely coming from our content marketing and largely from the blog itself. So I wanted to amp it up to sort of run a test. I started doing that, Oli and myself, we went up to about five. So I started inviting a lot of contributing authors to the blog. But you know as well as I do, that is like almost more work than it does save it.

So yeah, we put a job posting up and that was actually the role that Stefanie Grieser was hired for. I brought her on to help with social and the blog management. So the three of us sort of went nuts on blog.

Dan: She’s now our International Marketing Manager, Stef.

Gia: Yeah, exactly. Stef’s been around since the early days, too. And so has Corey because actually, Corey was hired only a few months after Stef was and that was mainly because it became so obvious that our analytics were suffering. I don’t even know that we had GA properly installed on our website. That’s how chicken-with-my-head-cut-off it was. That’s how we were operating the department: just like one campaign after the next.

It was all about getting people to try Unbounce so even the foundational stuff hadn’t really happened yet. So that’s when we brought on Corey, too, to start thinking more about performance and funnel-type driven marketing. Yeah, that actually was three years ago at the end of this month.

Dan: Do you remember what your vision was for how you would build out the team from there?

Gia: Yeah, I remember early on looking to Moz and Rand (Fishkin), actually. The Moz blog — then SEO Moz — had a couple of posts about how to build to a marketing team and I remember one that sort of resonated with me, which was – I don’t remember what the post said, exactly. But what I got out of it was I had sort of imagined a marketing team broken into four. And so strategic partnerships and business development was a huge, huge part of our success for marketing in the marketing team at the time, as was our content marketing, as was our performance type marketing (so like funnel-focused stuff), which we were sorely lacking, like I mentioned why we hired Corey.

And then also social and PR; I saw a big opportunity for that, too. And so those were going to be sort of the four pillars that I had planned to build out on. I sort of went with okay, let’s find the team leads for these four areas to build out and those were my first four hires, including yourself, Dan.

Dan: Yeah. That was just a little more than two years ago. Now we have more than 30 people on our marketing team.

Gia: Yeah, like 32 or something.

Dan: Oh, man. When you think back to that original vision, how different does it look?

Gia: So yeah, it looks very different than it did. The vision that I’m describing is super early days and now – when the company was like 30 people. Now, at like 130 people, nearly, obviously with the addition of people comes the addition of ideas. And I don’t mean just within the marketing department but the whole organization has really changed in terms of direction and recognizing different opportunities. And so actually, what we’ve recently done, actually as of just this year but it’s been in talks for obviously the past couple months. We’ve actually turned towards a more tribe approach.

And what I mean by tribe is squads and chapters. I won’t get into the details of obviously how tribes work, but the organization itself made the decision a while ago that we would attempt a more tribe structure for our department. So the product team, engineering teams – obviously, it’s sort of an engineering approach, this tribe structure. And the marketing team has adopted this, as well, recently. And what we’ve done is we’ve laid it on top of our customer journey. So we now have teams dedicated to different parts of our customer journey.

So as opposed to those four areas of focus that I was describing, we actually have teams dedicated to the different phases that our customer would go through when adopting our tool.

Dan: Right, from awareness to evaluation to growth and expansion.

Gia: Yes, exactly.

Dan: What’s been the biggest challenge for you going from a full-stack marketer team of one who was intimately involved in everything from strategy to execution for pretty much all our marketing campaigns and content, to a managerial VP role?

Gia: Wow, there have been a lot of challenges. The most obvious, though, is communicating that larger strategy and vision when you’re one person, really only comes down to – for instance for me it was, “Can I get Rick (Perreault) on board and can I get Oli on board?” And they were the only two founders that I really needed to get full alignment with on my strategy. Other departments too, of course but only at the highest level. I only had to worry about myself. Obviously communicating a vision and strategy to a larger and growing team becomes increasingly difficult, especially as you add new members.

There was a certain point where we were adding new members on a biweekly and monthly basis. So aligning everyone, obviously, can be pretty challenging. I think that’s challenging for any growing team. Brainstorms were a great way, early on, to determine whether or not everybody was on the same page. So we would often run campaign brainstorms. And after those — I was rarely even the one running them — but I would attend with great benefit to know, “We’re way out of whack on this. We need to do a better job of communicating our strategy” or “Hey, great, we’re all on board.”

Because it would come out at the tactical level — it became obvious whether or not we were all on the same page or not. One of the things that’s been to my advantage is that I’m the type to provide feedback really early and often and immediately, which I think has been really useful for – I mean at the individual level. But also, because I did basically all of these jobs at some point, I have context that I think paired with relying on people’s specialties, which now the people on the team know way, way more about their individual areas than I will ever hope to know.

So pairing that context — that historical context — I think is of a huge advantage now, too. Because I can sort of get into the nitty gritty with everybody as I need to and I’m super happy to back out and let people lead the way. But I have a lot of that early sort of context. So I don’t know. It’s been hard to let go but it’s been so rewarding to let go at the same time.

Dan: Right. It’s got to be tricky to do sometimes to give that feedback, to be that involved and that direct with your communications at every step without coming off and feeling like a backseat driver, I would think.

Gia: Yeah, for sure. Earlier days, I had a way harder time with that for sure. But when it’s a smaller team, it’s an easier process. When you’re like five or six or 10, then everybody is sort of on the same path. But as you’re out to 30 or so, everybody’s got their own goals and their own focuses so I have a way easier time now than I did. Earlier days, I was way, more intimately involved, obviously. And now, I’m super content to let people – you know, you tell me how this should be done. Everybody’s been so, so amazing and enthusiastic and self motivated that it’s been easy.

Dan: One of the great advantages that I see — just to remove the fourth wall for a moment – within this new structure where I’ve also found myself in a bit more of a holistic role rather than in the weeds, is to make sure that you’re there. And we know that you’re there as a resource. Not necessarily as a bottleneck but that you have that expertise and that institutional knowledge. And I think that’s a really unique, valuable role to have within a team.

Gia: Yeah, totally. I’m totally down to get into the weeds whenever needed, and totally happy to stay out of them when it’s appropriate. So it’s just removing the lockers is really satisfying, too, to be in a position where I can remove those bottlenecks or help get things out of the way so people can move forward. That’s also a really rewarding part of being in this more holistic position as opposed to execution.

Dan: Do you think there’s an opportunity to keep growing within a team without giving up the full-stack marketer, have-your-hands-in-everything role, even as you get more senior?

Gia: That has actually probably been my biggest struggle, I’d say. Two of my four years was exactly that. I was struggling with management track versus individual contributor track. And as a generalist, you tend to end up on the management track. Unless you’re going to specialize, that’s just sort of the natural thing you end up in. There are like the Michael Aagaards of the world, who are senior, individual contributors. They’re masters of their craft. So as a full-stack marketer, I think it’s pretty tough to end up as an individual contributor doing executional sort of work like that.

As opposed to if you’re full stack and you have a wider, reaching perspective on your goals and your team’s goals, let’s say. You’d have to stay on a small team and begin the type of role where you get to wear lots of hats. But as soon as you get into a department of 20, 30 people, no, you need to start hiring more of those specialists, individual contributors. That level of expertise is just required at that stage. So yeah, I think it does come down to those two different professional tracks: management versus individual contribution.

Dan: At the same time, you wouldn’t want a Michael Aagaard to stop doing CRO and start managing a team. So I think to provide that path, yeah, you could keep growing your expertise, you could become more senior, your salary could evolve with you without feeling like you’re being taken away from what you’re good at. I think that’s really important.

Gia: Yeah, totally. And that’s the big struggle. We’re picking on Michael Aagaard, here, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for Michael to have a team. But that’s a decision that he has to make at a certain point: am I going to focus more on the management and professional development of my team and less on the actual fun, conversion rate optimization work? That’s a decision you have to make at some point.

It might be something he’s absolutely looking to do, and it might be: no, I don’t want to get into management; I’m not into the operational side of things. A lot of developers end up at this point in their professional careers and the same is true in any marketing department.

Dan: Yeah, I think it’s true almost anywhere. I think of the amazing teacher in school who gets promoted to principal and doesn’t make a particularly good principal, and then you lose that amazing, inspiring teacher. I think at any institution or organization, it’s important to think about these things and to map out those different paths. So you went on maternity leave about a year and a half ago, and you’re expecting your second child in the next few months. Any advice for other marketing teams on – first of all, congratulations! I should say that. I’ve told you before, but now that it’s on record…

So any advice for other marketing teams on how to plan for and manage a smooth transition when a senior member of the team, particularly the marketing director, goes on leave?

Gia: Yeah. I was gone for eight months, and I knew that I wouldn’t be gone for the full year. And I remember these early discussions with Rick and Oli and Corey trying to distribute responsibilities. And we made a lot of mistakes, to be honest. One of which was relying on somebody within the team with their own responsibilities to take over mine, as well, with the expectation that people outside the department would lend a hand when needed. But in retrospect, that was a really bad idea because especially in a company growing as quickly as Unbounce, people are very, very busy.

They’ve got their own problems to solve and depending on three people to fill in on one person’s role was a big mistake and we know that now. Advice? Now I’m in a position again where I’m trying to do sort of the same thing. One of the things that Leslie in HR has been really helpful with driving home and insisting that a very clear role is defined and that there’s a person in place to represent you in your absence. So there’s one person who is responsible for the entirety of your role and responsibilities.

And so they sort of operate as your stand-in in your absence. In the absence of having somebody doing that, you run the risk of causing a lot of confusion when you return, causing a lot of confusion around where your roles and responsibilities fall when you come back. To be honest with you, we didn’t get it right necessarily the first time. I’m hoping we get closer this time. As I talk to a lot of women who have gone on maternity leave, this is a much larger issue, obviously, and I could probably do a podcast about this topic on its own.

But roles will always change in your absence, especially with a growing company. So there’s no surefire way to assure you’re going to come back to the exact, same role, and that you’re going to

Dan: Yeah, and a company where roles change so quickly anyway.

Gia: Yeah, exactly. And you’re trying to take care of your team in your absence, especially when you’re in a management role. But yeah, we do the best we can and I don’t have a ton more to add to that, to be honest.

Dan: Fair enough. How do you think marketing teams could do better in empowering the women on their team to dive into family life without feeling like they’re letting their team down or compromising their career somehow?

Gia: Yeah, that’s a great question. There are a lot of things organizations can do in order to make it a little bit less scary for people to exit their roles. And it’s not just women. Some men decide to go on parental leave just as often as women. I know lots of cases where the guy will leave for months at a time. It remains true; any type of leave is something to contend with and manage, particularly though when we’re talking about gender. There are some biases that have worked into the way businesses are run.

And so there are a lot of things that can be done to remove those biases. Like there are standardization approaches to performance reviews. Again, this is not my area of expertise; I am not HR by any means. You’d be way better off talking to somebody like Leslie (Collin) for something like this. But I think standardizing the approach can help because it does aid in removing bias. And then yeah, what I was talking about before, making sure someone is representing you in your absence is another really important piece to it, whether you’re a guy or a girl or whatever.

Gender doesn’t really come into it. It’s just anybody who is on leave — there are lots of reasons to go on leave. So having yourself represented when you’re not there I think relieves a lot of reintegration problems when you return.

Dan: Right. There’s the question of reintegration but there’s also, I think, feeling confident about going on leave without feeling guilty about it. It sounds like it’s a problem when these things aren’t clearly defined ahead of time.

Gia: Yeah, it’s inevitable that feeling guilty would be a problem for certain types of individuals, particularly at a company where people love their team as much as we do at Unbounce. We believe so heavily in the company and what it stands for, and the founders and our coworkers and our work that anybody leaving that environment will inevitably feel some sort of guilt for – not abandoning ship, but you know what I mean.

Dan: It’s almost like a negative symptom of a really positive culture.

Gia: Yeah, exactly. I can speak for myself that, yeah, it was really hard to leave. When I was on leave, I was like, yeah, nothing fell apart. Everybody’s still there and still happy and still operating, which was so amazing from the outside to look back in for those eight months and know that everything was running along. Of course it wasn’t running 100 percent smoothly, but things aren’t running 100 percent smoothly now, either. But it was really rewarding to know that everything didn’t fall apart in your absence, kind of thing.

Dan: We’re glad to have you back and we have your back when you go away again, so don’t you worry.

Gia: Thanks, Dan.

Dan: Thank you, Gia. This was great to chat.

Gia: Yeah, for sure.

 


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How Unbounce’s Marketing Team Grew From 1 to 31 [PODCAST]

Why Your AdWords Competitors Are Making More Money Than You

frog
Don’t go green with envy over the success of your competitors’ Adwords campaigns. Photo via Kaboompics.

I know, that’s a pretty harsh headline. But it’s true.

Some of your AdWords competitors are making more money than you.

Whether you’re trying to generate leads, get new SaaS users or make ecommerce sales, there’s an AdWords competitor out there who’s able to spend more than you to acquire new business while also making more money at the same time.

But here’s the good news: You can get much more from your modestly sized budget if you’re willing to look at things a little differently.

Let’s take a look at the four biggest things you need to change:

  1. You complain about lead quality, but haven’t adapted your offerings
  2. You’re obsessed with your conversion rates, but not your sales rates
  3. You’re getting conversions, but your sales game is weak
  4. You’re getting sales, but you’ve never tried increasing your prices or upselling

Let’s dig in.

1. You complain about lead quality, but haven’t adapted your offerings

If you have an AdWords campaign that’s serving you well, you may be tempted to pump more money into it.

But don’t assume that more traffic = more conversions.

Your AdWords traffic is composed of a colorful bunch of people with a different set of needs and dramatically different budgets.

There’s nothing you can do to change that.

All you can do is adapt your offerings.

Consider how Google has three different products to choose from when it comes to PPC:

adwords options
Which one are you using?
  • Small mom-and-pop shops may get by with Google AdWords Express where not a lot of customization is needed.
  • Smaller to medium sized businesses might have all their needs met with regular Google AdWords with ad scheduling and keyword targeting.
  • Enterprise level companies might only want to use DoubleClick because of the additional abilities like bidding separately for tablets or access to other ad networks beyond regular Google Search and Display.

With our PPC and landing page agency, KlientBoost, we know we don’t want to work with every single lead that comes through our door. We only want to work with companies that fit our requirements (like a certain amount of ad spend per month).

And in the beginning of our agency journey, we were throwing a ton of leads away since all we cared about was signing up people for our month-to-month services, our biggest bread winner.

I felt like Captain Ahab chasing around a bunch of Moby Dicks.

Captain Ahab
Costa Mesa, CA — that’s where our boat is docked, and our office.

But we all know that whale hunting is ridiculously tough on the shoulders (and illegal). Plus there are way more sardines than whales in the ocean.

So how could we profit off those sardines smaller fish?

Since our lead volume kept growing from our marketing efforts, I had to do something different to take advantage of those fish.

So I started experimenting.

What if the people who can’t afford to work with us on a monthly basis could still get help from us?

With that “Aha!” moment, we introduced one-time growth packages where we helped clients set up their AdWords account and landing pages, and then handed them the keys to run it.

We didn’t create new ads, landing pages or change anything in our PPC accounts. Because someone searching “PPC agency” could have a budget of a $1 million a month or just $100 a month.

Fast forward two months and we’ve made $32,500 from that one decision change. Money we’d otherwise have missed out on.

And these new packages then give us the opportunity to potentially work with those customers on a larger scale when they can afford our month-to-month services.

stripe
Here’s a quick look at our Stripe history with some of those recent charges. Not bad if you ask me!

So even if you get conversions from people who are ready to buy, but can’t afford your solution, what are you doing to get their foot in the door?

Have you considered offering them something of complementary value to your core offering?

2. You’re obsessed with your conversion rates, but not your sales rates

If you are doing a good enough job getting AdWords traffic, then trust me, it’s not the quantity of the conversion you should be worried about, it’s the quality of those conversions.

You’ll want to make sure you track and qualify your conversions fast enough to understand if they’re worth spending time on (especially if you’re trying to generate leads).

Let’s use LeBron James as an example. On the surface, some AdWords keywords and display placements could be looking like a superfly LeBron James in a golden leotard with fancy dance moves (getting a ton of leads), but on the back-end, they’re not getting you enough championships (a.k.a. sales).

LaBron James
Don’t be fooled by the pants and fancy dance moves. Image via Giphy.

What your competitors already know is to track the entire process from click to close (first AdWords click to you actually making money) and optimize off of sales, not leads.

If you’re trying to generate leads, your competitors might already know which keywords have the highest sales rates (from paying over the phone), not just conversion rates (from converting on the landing page).

And that’s where your competitors are laughing all the way to the bank.

The flashiness of leads (and golden leotards) inside your AdWords account has you focused on getting more, without realizing that you could cut your budget in half and still get the same amount of sales.

But how do you do that?

The secret is called ValueTrack parameters, and it’s a URL parameter string you can append to your final URLs inside the tracking template field of your AdWords account.

ad builder
The “Ad URL options” field is where you want to add those parameters.

You can custom create your own URL parameter string or adopt what I recommend below:

lpurl?GA_network=network&GA_device=device&GA_campaign=campaignid&GA_adgroup=adgroupid&GA_target=target&GA_placement=placement&GA_creative=creative&GA_extension=feeditemid&GA_keyword=keyword&GA_loc_physical_ms=loc_physical_ms&GA_landingpage=lpurl

Next, you’ll want to make sure your landing page form has the hidden fields (like GA_network, GA_device, etc.) to capture that info along with the form fields the visitor is filling out.

This URL parameter string that you add to your AdWords ads will help you see which networks, devices, keywords, campaigns, etc. that your conversion came from and how much money that conversion meant for you.

hidden field data
Here’s what that hidden field data looks like inside Unbounce.

In the world of lead generation, let’s break this down with a hypothetical example:

Keyword #1 = 20% lead conversion rate and a 10% sales rate

Keyword #2 = 10% lead conversion rate and a 50% sales rate

If you were only tracking lead conversion rates, then you’d think keyword #1 is performing better because of the higher conversion rates and lower cost per conversion.

But if you do the math, it’s keyword #2 that’s making you more money.

Keyword #1 = 1 lead for every 5 clicks (20% conversion rate), 1 sale for every 10 conversions (10% sales rate). 50 clicks = 1 sale.

Keyword #2 = 1 lead for every 10 clicks (10% conversion rate), 1 sale for every 2 conversions (50% close rate). 20 clicks = 1 sale.

As you can see, not tracking the quality of your conversions can be detrimental.

Even without a fancy CRM, you can quickly backtrack and see which areas in your AdWords account are bleeding money. Better yet, increase bids on the keywords and placements that are giving you high quality conversions to get more of them.

3. You’re getting conversions, but your sales game is weak

Did you know that it takes on average between five and 12 touches of following up with a prospect before you close them?

But I’m not talking about manually spending more time emailing or calling prospects.

Because how many times have you complained about not being able to get a hold of your form leads?

Let me guess — quite a bit.

What you do after they convert matters just as much as what you did before they converted.

If your AdWords competitors are smart (and I know some of them are), then they already have an email nurturing program in place to drip value on their leads.

baby chimp
You know, to keep their prospects engaged, fed and happy.

And while some of your competitors may be bigger than you and have more money, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do the same.

For our PPC agency, here’s what our workflow looks like when we’re trying to give someone a custom proposal:

Email 1 What our proposal looks like
Email 2 AdWords screenshots of ongoing monthly improvements
Email 3 Monthly service or one-time package
Email 4 Custom goal setting ideas (scale or get lean)
Email 5 Links to our partner webinars
Email 6 Podcast/interview links (showing thought leadership)
Email 7 Case studies from current clients
Email 8 Call to action of getting a proposal
Email 9 New AdWords screenshots of improvements

The goal of each email is to showcase our skills and the features and benefits we can bring to prospects and their business.

We were super impressed with the continuous open rates (50% average throughout the entire sequence), but even more blown away to see that leads we’ve never heard from initially didn’t reply to us until they got the sixth email (out of nine total).

Which, funny enough, is a link to the podcast I did with the peeps here at Unbounce

email campaign
Here’s a snapshot of our first four drip emails.

So if you’re spending precious dollars on AdWords, how are you making sure that none of your conversions are going to waste?

If you think you can afford to have a “lead nurturing program” that’s made up of only two phone calls and one email, then you’re wasting your time and money.

Because it takes much more effort these days to to turn a conversion into a sale, you need to equip yourself with the tools that sales professionals use on a daily basis.

Here are a few to help you out:

MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the easiest email automation tools out there.

If you can map out five emails that would bring value to your prospects, then turn them into a MailChimp automation workflow.

The goal of MailChimp will be to get your prospects to take a specific action. In our case, it’s a simple response that they want a proposal from us. When that happens, we move them over to Yesware.

Yesware

Yesware is a Gmail tool that helps you track email opens and gives you the ability to automatically remind yourself to follow up with leads after a certain period of time.

Once someone has replied to us via MailChimp, we put them in Yesware as they’ve now moved into our sales funnel.

Yesware helps us track who opens our emails and reminds us to follow up with prospects too.

Autopilot for LinkedIn

Autopilot is a cool tool that allows you to “autovisit” the LinkedIn profiles of your prospects. You set the criteria and the tool will notify your prospects that you visited their profile.

For us, this acts as great touch points without having to manually visit profiles every day and helps us look like we’re everywhere when someone is considering working with us.

IFTTT

IFTTT stands for “if this, then that,” and it allows you to automate some of your lead nurturing touch points.

Let’s say someone comes through as a lead on your landing page. You can then use IFTTT to connect with them on Twitter and LinkedIn (if the emails match) with a certain amount of time delay.

This will make you look like you’re going the extra mile compared to some of your competitors (who your lead could be talking to) to really want to work with the lead.

But don’t take my word for it.

I spoke with Sujan Patel from ContentMarketer.io who gave me a new perspective on the focus of nurturing:

When someone decides to become a lead it means they’ve decided to “explore” or find out more, not purchase (you made a good first impression). Lead nurturing keeps you top of mind (or close to it), builds credibility, trust and helps you passively demonstrate your value.

The same thing applies to AdWords traffic.

If someone finds you via PPC, then they also know they have 10 other options (the 10 others search ads on Google) that they need to explore and will most likely compare all the options.

If you’re fortunate enough to get a conversion, then you must strongly consider the nurturing part as well. Because sometimes, there’s a big gap between getting a conversion and actually making money.

4. You’re getting sales, but you’ve never tried increasing your prices or upselling

I remember my first PPC client.

I just got back from a pitch at a local crossfit gym in Newport Beach and I recall how nervous I was that I nearly sputtered out my price when they asked.

“Uhmm… That would be uhh… $250 a month for everything we talked about, which includes keyword bidding, ad testing uhmmm… negative keywords…”

I felt like I had to defend myself, even though they were clearly interested.

Right after the meeting, I went straight home to my bed and fell asleep because I was so emotionally drained.

Then — to my surprise — when I woke up, I had a PayPal notification showing that they’d paid.

Since then, we’ve increased our average price to be almost twenty times what it was back then.

And it isn’t because we’re trying to keep up with the rate of inflation.

It’s because we know, just like your competitors know, that if our profit margins are high enough, then

  • we can spend more money to acquire a client,
  • we can be okay saying no to more of the smaller fish
  • and we’ll have more time to work on the results for our Moby Dick clients so that we can retain them longer and make more money.

Now I know that raising prices can be a scary thing, especially when you might alienate people who aren’t willing to pay what you ask.

But consider the obvious negotiation tactic of starting high and then going low.

You’ll be surprised how many people are okay to pay what you charge, even if you double your pricing on your next sales call.

And when you do, don’t stop there. Be a greedy pig goat.

baby goat

Because as soon as you have a customer that’s already paying, they’re 50% more likely to buy again compared to brand new prospects.

Another tactic to consider is the upsell. GoDaddy gets aggressive with its upsell, even before you’ve bought anything:

godaddy upsell
Sure, I’ll take .net, .org and .info.

So when it comes to paying a decent amount of money for all your AdWords clicks, strongly consider what you can do increase your prices without increasing your resources.

So what’s next?

Now that you’ve been spending the last couple months improving your AdWords metrics and landing page conversion rates, I hope you have a stronger incentive to learn about the other improvements you could be making (both during and after conversions).

In the long run, the changes above will improve your bottom line from other marketing efforts. It won’t be long until you can’t even see your AdWords competition in the rearview mirror.


Read the article: 

Why Your AdWords Competitors Are Making More Money Than You

Lessons Learned from Year 1 of the Call to Action Podcast [PODCAST]

Birthday cake
Image by Morrowlight via Shutterstock.

The first year of becoming a parent is a rollercoaster of emotions, from terror to pure joy and everything in between. You can’t sleep, you don’t have time to eat and you go from laughing to crying in mere seconds. But in the end it’s all worth it, because like every proud parent, your podcast’s achievements become your own.

Nope, that wasn’t a typo. We’re talking about a different kind of baby — one you can download on iTunes.

That’s right, folks, the Call to Action podcast just turned one, and we’re celebrating as many others have celebrated their first birthday: by diving headfirst into a volleyball-sized cupcake. (I wish!)

Join me, Unbounce’s Multimedia Producer, Stephanie Saretsky (a.k.a. Beansie), and Content Strategist Dan Levy as we chat about the lessons learned during the podcast’s first year, including how dang tricky it is to measure the value of a podcast and why not all ideas are good ideas. On top of that, we chat about what’s to come for season two, and how you can get involved.

Season 1 highlights:

  • Cracking the iTunes ranking algorithm — ranking first in Marketing, first in Business and fourth in the entire iTunes store.
  • Learning that it was Aaliyah and not Destiny’s Child that taught us to “…dust [ourselves] off and try again.”
  • Answering the big question: Are you more of a Tom Haverford or a Ron Swanson?

Listen to the podcast

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Stephanie: This is kind of a special episode. As you know, I’m Stephanie Saretsky. I’m the host of Call to Action. But with me, I have our content strategist, Dan Levy.

Dan: Hey, Stephanie.

Stephanie: How’s it going, Dan?

Dan: It’s going pretty well. We don’t usually talk to each other, do we?

Stephanie: No, I usually kind of just introduce you and then let you interview all of our awesome guests.

Dan: Of course, the secret is that you are in the room next to me when I interview those guests, so it’s not like we don’t actually talk in real life.

Stephanie: It’s true. Behind the scenes, we’re actually always together.

Dan: Crazy.

Stephanie: So today, we thought it would be fun because it’s been one whole year since we launched the Call to Action podcast. It first went live last January 28, which was a Wednesday. So we thought it would be fun to get together and chat about what went well, what didn’t go so well and what we’re excited about doing for this year.

Dan: Yeah, it’s a good opportunity to take a step back and to also look ahead. And of course, a big part of that is to get your feedback on what you’ve enjoyed and what you think we could do better, and what you’d like to see for the rest of the year and beyond that. So we hope that you’ll enjoy this walk down memory lane. We hope there will also be some valuable lessons and insights for you in how to launch a podcast and everything from ranking on iTunes, to how to get guests, to how to treat your guests.

One thing that’s been I think a huge success so far is that we’ve had a lot of guests on, who’ve come to us later and said that they really enjoyed the experience and asking us how we manage things on our end so that they could make sure to give their guests as good an experience on their podcast. So that’s been a huge win for us and we hope to share some of that love.

Stephanie: Yeah, it’s definitely something that we’ve been trying to spread awareness of since podcasting kind of exploded in the marketing world last year. So from posts on our blog to just well-crafted episodes every week, it’s something that Dan and I are trying to really bring, an excellent product. So again, any feedback would be appreciated. You can always contact us at podcast.unbounce.com.

Dan: So talking about when we launched, bring me back. Why did we launch a podcast again?

Stephanie: So this is kind of funny. Something that Unbounce does every quarter is a ShipIt Day. And I’m sure if you work at a tech startup, you’re probably somewhat familiar with the concept. So it’s two days, and one day you spend planning what projects you’re going to work on, and then the second day you ship it. So the marketing team decided that we were going to do our own ShipIt Day because at that point in the company’s history, we weren’t really involved and ShipIt Day was something that the dev teams more did on their own, which has since changed. But our marketing manager at the time thought it would be fun for us to try and do it ourselves.

Dan: It’s funny you mention our marketing manager at the time. That’s Corey, and he actually plays a pretty important part in the genesis of the podcast. I might be skipping ahead here, but one of the reasons we did launch a podcast, before we get to the actual KPIs and everything, one of the reasons, to be totally honest, was because Corey told us that he didn’t have time to read our blog, and that he didn’t really like to read. And so if somebody could just speak our blog post to him into his ear every morning, he’d be a happy camper. And that was actually the seed of the Call to Action podcast.

Stephanie: Yeah, because the Unbounce blog is something that’s been like a flagship at Unbounce since it was started. I came from the radio world so I had a background in audio. And since I started at Unbounce, I was like, okay, a podcast would be something that I would really like to do and kind of throwing around ideas. And then Dan, when we had this ShipIt Day idea, he was like: “Hey, okay, so Corey doesn’t like to read. Why don’t we try to put together a podcast where we’re actually synthesizing popular blog posts of ours?” And I was like: “Sweet, that’s awesome; that’s a super concise idea.”

We have a huge bank of really awesome posts that we can pull from and it should be fairly easy editing-wise because there’s not a lot of post production that needs to be done. So Dan called up Elizabeth Martsen, who at the time was at Portent, Inc. as their PPC manager. And she had written a really awesome post for us about comparing PPC to online dating, which was really fun. So she was super awesome. She was like: “Yeah, I’ll totally do it.” She was able to do it within the next three days. So it was super fast. We got the interview done, cut and edited.

And then we presented the episode to our team, and it went really well. So we were like, okay, I think this needs to be an actual thing. So this was in October, I believe. And then we proceeded to interview six other people. We did that in a span of two weeks.

Dan: And that was one of my faults. I proceeded to go on my honeymoon for a month to Thailand. And so I was like, yeah, let’s do this podcast thing, and I’m leaving for a month. So we rushed to do six interviews really quickly, and then I said to Stephanie: “Have fun.” And when I got back, like a little, nicely wrapped present, they were all edited and ready to go, which was awesome.

Stephanie: Yeah. So that was really – yeah, fast paced but it was really good. We had some really awesome first contributors. And then at the same time, I spent the time putting together the launch brief. So at this time in Unbounce, we had about eight of us on the marketing team so we were still in the instance where I would put together a brief, and I would send it to our marketing manager. And then we would have a meeting and talk about all the strategies, whether we hit the key points and then he would send it back to me, and then I would iterate on it. And then we would finally get to the last iteration of the brief.

Initially, we had wanted to launch at the beginning of January as like a new year, new podcast thing. However, it became clear, because of the pace that we had to record a bunch so that we could launch with a certain amount, and we’ll get to that later. And just the size of the launch that this project was going to entail, that the first of January wasn’t going to be feasible for us. So we ended up moving it to January 28 and the rest is history.

Dan: Yeah, of course when we launch any piece of content marketing at Unbounce, we try to not start – in this case, we did notably want to do a podcast but we do try to start with a goal. And besides getting Corey to listen to our blog, remind me what was the goal on that brief that we set out to accomplish?

Stephanie: The initial goal had two goals. The primary goal was awareness. We really wanted this podcast to reach a new audience. And the way that we saw this happening was through the iTunes store. So right away, the biggest thing for us was to get into the New and Noteworthy section in iTunes and to rank in the top 10 in iTunes. So that was huge. So I spent an entire month researching on how to do that.

And I will let you in on a little secret: it was so hard – or at least a year ago, it was so hard – to find any definitive points on how to do well in iTunes. There’s so much conflicting information. iTunes is notorious for having that stuff on lockdown. Like you can’t do keywords anymore, there’s no –

Dan: You thought the Google algorithm and something like Google quality score was hard to unpack; wait ’til you encounter the mystery of iTunes.

Stephanie: Yeah, and there’s so much conflicting information. So one thing that people say is huge is rating velocity; so how many stars or reviews you get. So that’s one thing. So try and get as many reviews and as many stars as you can. Try and get as many people downloading as many episodes on the same day as possible. So download speed, so launching with more than three. Some people say one is fine; some people say you need at least five.

Some people say that you should be posting your podcast once a day; some people are like once a week. Initially, we had thought we would do biweekly but then we decided to go for a week just in case this download velocity was a huge deal. And we found that at the time, we did have enough in our bank and enough capacity to produce once a week.

Dan: That’s one of the reasons we both recorded a bunch of episodes right off the bat was so that we could launch with several episodes. And also one of the reasons that we did go for the MVP — the minimum viable product — we decided that it was important to keep it as lean as possible. So we interviewed blog authors and limited the scope of the podcast initially to people who we had interviewed on the blog, who we had a relationship with, and that there was a post that we could easily write some questions around and jump right into the content. Rather than creating totally fresh content, doing fresh reporting, for example. That would have added to our workload.

Stephanie: And so this is where something that kind of comes in stats-wise is interesting and something that we’ll unpack a little bit later on is because we were so concerned with our ratings velocity, our download speed and just getting as many people to listen to it as possible, when it came time to launch, we put a lot of effort into an email campaign, a social campaign. And really, even though the main goal was awareness and getting it to a new audience in retrospect we were actually launching to our current audience, and we were really banking on also hooking the people that were reading our blog and being like: “Hey, this is a post that you liked; here is an episode.”

We’re going to go more in-depth on this post. You’re going to hear a little bit of new information from the author’s mouth. And so that was something that we were banking on so that we could have a really awesome launch.

Dan: It’s a bit of the chicken and the egg scenario because we needed that critical mass of people listening to our podcast right away in order to rank in the iTunes store and reach that new audience. And in order to do that, we had to leverage our existing audience. So it wasn’t perfect because we were marketing to existing leads, but we did get our podcast ranking really quickly, which we hoped and we think did reach a whole slew of Coreys out there who don’t read the blog but who like to listen to podcasts.

Stephanie: And launch day was amazing. We quickly went to number one in marketing. We went to number one in business, and we were at number four in the entire iTunes store after This American Life, Serial and –

Dan: Radio Lab.

Stephanie: No, it was Invisibilia, the new NPR podcast. Which is, if you’re a podcast fan – and I’m sure you are if you’re listening to this episode right now, like that is huge. Dan and I were freaking out.

Dan: Those are the three biggest podcasts in the world –

Stephanie: Ever.

Dan: – and number four was us.

Stephanie: It was awesome. I still have that screenshot and I just look at it when I feel sad. Yeah. So that was great. We had an amazing launch and yeah.

Dan: Yeah, the launch was really exciting. Of course, we wanted to then keep our momentum going, and we soon realized that the format that we had originally launched with was limiting in some ways, right?

Stephanie: Yes. Because even though we launched with this MVP, because it meant that it was consistent, it was narrow and we could do a lot of it quickly, which is important if you’re doing a weekly show; it has to be somewhat easy for the producer, which is myself, to actually edit it and be able to do all my other work. It soon became apparent that it was limiting in what we could actually think about. And also, initially, like the very, very first iteration of the podcast, we were trying to promote another core piece of content that we had just published, which was our marketing glossary. So we were starting every episode with a definition, read by our cofounder, Oli Gardner, of a marketing term that would then be featured in the actual interview itself.

Dan: Yeah. So we were excited about that idea. Some of the feedback that we got was that people didn’t necessarily see the connection between that word and then the interview afterwards. They thought that it was filler, or it was just a roadblock on the way to the interview, which is what they really wanted to get at. And so we quickly – I don’t know, how long were we doing that for?

Stephanie: We did that for at least two to three months, actually. I think we moved onto our second format change in about May.

Dan: Yeah, I think once we realized that it was even a stress for us to find words that connected to the interview, that it was time to stop. That yeah, it was convenient in the sense that we were leveraging existing content and that we were promoting it, but it didn’t quite work so we moved away from that.

Stephanie: And we just got so much feedback being like this seems like it’s just thrown in here. So we were like, okay, let’s try and give it more of a story because Dan and I both are super interested in podcasts that have a lot of story content. So we were kind of like, okay, how can we make this more podcast-y, which sounds a little weird but like how do we make this sound like it’s not your typical marketing podcast?

Dan: The podcasters that we were looking up to were those three other podcasts, This American Life, Serial and Invisibilia, Radio Lab — lofty goals because these are radio professionals who this is their full-time job. But there’s also other podcasts that are lower production but that really connect with their listeners in maybe a more personal way and a more informal way. And so we wanted to make sure that we were honoring the tradition. As new as it is, there is a podcasting tradition already and expectations of podcast audience; we wanted to make sure we were honoring those.

Stephanie: But the challenge was then also making sure that the interview was actionable at the time.

Dan: Exactly. Because something that we’ve always talked about is that Unbounce content needs to be actionable. And if you read our blog posts, they’re super tactical, they’re really in depth. We really break down a marketing problem and how to solve it. And that’s great in blog form. In podcast form, I think there are limits to it because people listen to podcasts at the gym, washing dishes, in the car; they don’t necessarily have a pen and paper.

They’re not in deep learning mode. They want to learn something, they want to get something out of it for sure but it’s not necessarily the same type of – they’re not looking for the same type of content that a blog reader would. So the challenge was how to keep it actionable without getting too bogged down into tactics and details.

Stephanie: And that was something that we noticed when we were able to suss out what made a really good episode last year, was we had a few episodes that were super technical; topics like PPC come to mind, where it’s a lot of great information but pulling that out and making that interesting to listen to was difficult.

Dan: And interesting for us.

Stephanie: Yeah. I won’t – never mind.

Dan: Yeah.

Stephanie: Whereas, say, some of our really awesome episodes last year, and one that comes to mind for me is an episode that we did with HubSpot’s Ginny Soskey, which is one of my favorite episodes today. Was that it was actionable but it also was very conversational and you guys were actually discussing the state of content marketing and the thought of publishing a lot of blog posts, or publishing a little blog posts. But it went beyond here was our experiment and this is what we saw.

Dan: That’s it. Because Ginny posted this amazing, in-depth report on this blog publishing experiment that they’d run. And the numbers were there, and the charts were there, and it’s just a really great post, but just recounting that is not nearly as interesting as the way she impacts it in the post itself. So we realized that this wasn’t just about talking blog posts, but it was talking around them and getting a little bit deeper into the bigger ideas and the bigger issues behind the posts. So there might be a post about a blog publishing experiment, but what’s the interview about?

Well, maybe it’s actually more about what is this content marketing stuff about?  How do you stay on goal while still providing value to the audience?  That’s a much more interesting conversation, I think, to have than charts and numbers, which could get a little bit tedious in the verbal form.

Stephanie: Yeah. So it’s just not as fun, and then it wasn’t as fun for Dan and I. So we found that they were received better by our audience, but then also more enjoyable for us to actually work on.

Dan: Yeah, and the other thing that you hint at there is that we moved beyond just talking about our own blog posts; just talking to authors who had written for our own blog. We realized that there’s a whole ecosystem of really smart, amazing marketing content out there and we wanted to speak to those authors, as well. So we started to talk to the HubSpots and the Buffers and really great marketing thought leaders who may have published elsewhere to bring those insights to our audience.

Stephanie: Actually, what are some of your favorite moments from the last year?

Dan: Good question. Somehow Parks and Recreation keeps coming up, and I actually didn’t even watch that show until really recently. One of my favorite moments was when Allison Otting from Disruptive Advertising asked me if I was more of a Tom Haverford or a Ron Swanson. And I kind of like played along for a little bit and then I was like, I don’t actually know who these characters are. I thought that was pretty funny.

Stephanie: Yeah, that was a really good episode. I actually had forgotten about that at this point.

Dan: How about you?

Stephanie: I think one of my favorites… that’s a hard question. Actually –

Dan: If at first you don’t succeed…

Stephanie: Oh, yeah. Oh, my gosh, yeah. This was the best. Jonathan Dane was on and actually, at this point, this has been one of our most popular podcasts because he really – he can take something like PPC and make it sound like the most fun thing in the entire world. Actually in that title was a huge come around for us. It was something like why PPC is just like Nerf guns or something?

Dan: Right, PPC as explained through Nerf guns.

Stephanie: Yes, that was it. It was awesome. And so at the very end, we ended off on this kind of inspirational note of like if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again. And then –

Dan: I think I said – what did I say?  I said something like in the wise words of Destiny’s Child?

Stephanie: Yeah, Destiny’s Child. And then Jonathan was like no, no, I think that’s Taylor Swift. And then – oh, no. Did you say Taylor Swift and then he said Destiny’s Child?  Anyway –

Dan: You know what he said – I’ll tell you what happened. I got this.

Stephanie: Tell me, Dan.

Dan: So he said something about shaking it off, which is a Taylor Swift reference. What I heard was dust yourself off, which of course is Destiny’s Child reference. However, Stephanie kept her mouth shut, you know, like a good professional, until she couldn’t take it anymore and she set that straight.

Stephanie: Yeah, so it was actually Aaliyah.

Dan: We were both wrong.

Stephanie: Which was hilarious, and then we actually put the song into the end of the episode and it was, yeah, really funny and a really excellent way to end it. But then I also think that one of just the more enjoyable interviews that we had was when we had our own Haley Mullen, who is our community manager on the show. And Haley’s hilarious, if you’ve interacted with the Unbounce Twitter, ever. She’s so funny and it was just a really awesome interview to produce because listening to you and her talk was just fun.

Dan: Yeah, and I realized talking to somebody that you do have a previous relationship with, but you don’t necessarily have these specific conversations, they go in really interesting, unexpected places.

Stephanie: Also another good one that we did for us, we did our April Fool’s episode.

Dan: We did, yes.

Stephanie: Which was pretty funny, actually. So usually how a Call to Action episode gets started is that I’ll pull questions from a post and then Dan will edit them to be in his own voice. And then we’ll actually interview the guest, usually on a Thursday. And so what we actually did for this one is we did a full script with read-throughs and everything, and then we went in and actually recorded it like a radio play.

Dan: Yeah, and that actually went through several iterations because the first time we played it for some people and they were like: we don’t get the joke. We thought it was hilarious. But then we realized that – I think we played it a little bit too straight. And we rerecorded it where I was a bit more of a proxy for the audience in asking – being a bit more skeptical myself and slowly getting irritated by this character I was interviewing, who was like this total, arrogant blowhard marketer. And we think that the result was a lot better in the end.

Stephanie: Yeah, which is actually a really important content lesson. That something that you might think is really funny, or even really just awesome, it may just be you. Just run it past some people and be like, how does this sound?  And they’ll tell you: “We don’t get it. Is this actually a thing that’s happening?” And we’re like: “No, obviously we’re not developing landing pages to infinity or the Uber for landing pages; that’s silly.” They’re like: “No, it sounds real.”

Dan: Well, that’s it. And it goes to show how far off the rails digital marketing sometimes can get when something that’s so absurd could actually sound plausible to people.

Another episode, on a more serious note, that I really, really liked was my interview with Kevin Lee from Buffer. Where suddenly, the tables turned. I forget what we were talking about exactly but I asked him a question and he got, like, really quiet. He’s a really thoughtful guy, Kevin, and he’s the kind of person that doesn’t say anything without really thinking it through.

And if he doesn’t know the answer, then he’s really, in true Buffer style, kind of transparent about it and really humble. And so he said something like: I don’t know, what do you think?  And I got really quiet because, you know, I’m the interviewer; I’m not really used to being asked that. And then suddenly, I started kind of pouring out my guts to him and it became this back and forth; it was almost like content marketing therapy.

Stephanie: Yeah, I think you guys were talking about how do you tell people what you do.

Dan: Right.

Stephanie: And what is content market, basically.

Dan: Yeah, it got super existential.

Stephanie: Which, as we were talking about before, is a place that we actually do want to take the podcast to. Because you know, we want to be actionable but at the same time, the podcast is really one of the mediums at Unbounce that we can address these existential questions that we maybe can’t really do on the blog or we can’t really do in, say, like a video marketing or any other content form that we have.

Dan: Yeah, I think we’re always – as marketers, we’re often moving really quickly; we’re in campaign mode. There isn’t always the time to take a step back and reflect on what we do as a profession and on the craft of marketing. And I think that’s an area that we really enjoy exploring. We’re marketers talking to marketers. We have a tool for marketers, which helps them with their marketing. It’s all very meta and we think this is a good forum to take a step back to sort of share best practices, to be open about where we maybe have made mistakes, about things that we’re not quite sure of yet and to be able to talk those things through with each other in what we hope is a safe space.

Stephanie: Yeah, which actually brings up something that I addressed earlier that I kind of want to go into a little bit more, is the stats problem with podcasts. Because that’s actually something that we’re at right now, is we’re kind of evaluating how the podcast is performing as a company tool. And it’s really hard if you are familiar with podcasts, or if you have one yourself, you know what I’m talking about. Because podcasts are almost impossible to track as a KPI. Like you can get download rates; if you have awesome analytics, you can get download rates.

You can see what country they’re from, what device they’re on but it’s just a download. You don’t know if they listened to it. You can’t see how many subscribers you have. So basically, my rule of thumb would be to just track the numbers for the first couple of days and if they’re standard, I assume that’s how many subscribers that we have, which is very nebulous; it’s not an actual –

Dan: By subscribers on iTunes, right?

Stephanie: Exactly. So in my head, I’m like, okay, say, the morning of, like two hours after it launches we have 300 downloads every week. I can assume that at least 30 people are downloading this podcast automatically, meaning that they’re a subscriber. But iTunes isn’t telling me this. There’s no stat that says how many subscribers you have. So it’s not really – you can’t tag an individual listener and you can’t tell if they’ve actually listened to the episode; you can only just see that they’ve actually downloaded it onto their device.

Dan: Yeah, and that’s just like the most high-level KPI: how many people are subscribing and listening to your podcast. Once you get further down into the funnel, into like generating leads and even to tracking conversions down the line, it gets really, really dicey. And I’m not saying it’s impossible but I think we’ve made a decision here that we’re going to treat the podcast very much as a top of the funnel discovery channel. And so it really is about speaking to a fresh, new audience; getting them aware of all these marketing problems that we talk about and, of course, how Unbounce might help them find that solution.

But for us, it’s not a direct conversion channel. And I think that’s okay. We’re conversion centered marketers but we’re also inbound marketers who really trust and believe in our overall strategy. And we know that we have tons of pieces of content: we’ve got PPC, we’ve got email marketing, we’ve got lead nurturing, we’ve got much more conversion centered content that we create that’s doing that job for us. And so that frees us up to treat the podcast at what we think a podcast is good at, which is just communicating with people, engaging them and making these new relationships that hopefully we could then nurture further down the line.

Stephanie: So we’re kind of entering into this brave new world of not relying on our email list, as we had talked about was a big thing for us, at lunch. And distribution, trying to figure out where we need to be posting this to, who we need to get onto the podcast so that they can share it with our audience – tactics like that. But then internally, as well, now we’re just trying to figure out if our KPI is awareness, how do we actually move the needle on that?  So, say, if we’re getting 2,000 downloads on an episode, does that provide as much value as, say, 200 hits does on the blog post?  How much more engaged is a podcast listener compared to a blog reader?

So we’re really trying to make sure that we’re measuring the podcast against our awareness blog posts because those are the posts that are more in line with what the podcast goal is, and so we’re going to have a better chance of figuring out whether or not the podcast is providing value.

Dan: Right. In that case, we’re comparing apples to apples, right?  We’re not comparing a podcast against something like a webinar, which is much more conversion centric; but to compare it against a piece of awareness content that lives on the blog, for example, or a guest post does make sense. And so we’re trying to make sure that we’re still data driven and that we’re still measuring results, but that we’re measuring the right things and not getting distracted by: hey, we’re not able to track this to sales and conversions. Well, that’s not necessarily the point but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be tracking it at all.

Stephanie: Yeah, because that’s the thing. Because there’s always this knee-jerk reaction to be like: oh, if you can’t track something definitively, we should cut it, or it’s probably not valuable. But when you have something that’s purely an awareness channel, and something that is unable to be tracked exactly like podcast, that’s where it becomes a little bit more grey and where, say, we’re kind of campaigning to be like: no, we swear that this has value. We’ve gotten feedback and we believe in it. Podcasting blew up last year and so obviously there is something there. And so it just comes down to actually figuring it out; how to show that.

Dan: Exactly, yeah. There’s a reason so many brands are tripping over themselves to advertise on podcasts like Serial or This American Life. I heard a film ad on Serial the other week.

Stephanie: Really?

Dan: So like a major motion picture, Hollywood studio.

Stephanie: Like a trailer?

Dan: Yeah.

Stephanie: Cool.

Dan: Yeah, I think it was the Coen brothers, the new Coen brothers’ movie. And I was like: holy shit, like that’s entering –

Stephanie: That’s new.

Dan: Yeah, that’s new. And that’s like, to me, podcast entering the big time when they have Hollywood studios advertising. So the value of a podcast listener from a human standpoint, first, we don’t take that for granted because we realize how valuable your time is and how tenuous – how much content is out there and how we want to make sure to never break that trust. But I think that also bears out in business value, that we’re seeing in the industry that the value of a podcast listener compared to, let’s say, a blog post reader; if you compare podcast advertising rates to banner ads or even native advertising, that there’s a huge difference there.

And so we do not underestimate the value of this podcast. Just like anything else; a matter of figuring out how to measure that in a way that makes sense to the medium.

Stephanie: So along with figuring out the way that we want to evaluate it, we’re also having discussions on where we want to see the podcast going this year. So Dan, would you want to share some thoughts that you’ve had around where you’d like to take the podcast?

Dan: Yeah. I would love to talk to even broaden up the scope even more in terms of who we’ve talked to. So we’ve talked to the writers and editors of some of our favorite marketing blogs; some of our favorite SaaS blogs in particular. I’d love to talk to all sorts of thought leaders in the agency world, in the design world, brand marketers, also people in very specific industries like law and real estate. I want to know how they approach marketing differently. I just want to talk to as many marketers as possible to I think just broaden the scope of our understanding of things.

I think that, like anything else, the marketing, the digital marketing world, it could sometimes feel a little bit small, a little bit like an echo chamber. Everybody’s reading the same blog posts and looking to the same stuff. But I think that there are connections to be drawn to other industries. I think the world is actually a lot bigger than sometimes a cursory glance at like your Twitter feed or your Facebook feed would make it seem. And so we really want to make connections throughout the marketing world to help marketers do better and try new things that haven’t just been blogged about over and over again.

Stephanie: Yeah, and speaking on new things, too, just even playing with the format a little bit is something that I’m excited about. Like this episode is something we’ve never done before; just having an actual conversation and not like a standard interview, like actually –

Dan: I’d like to talk to you more.

Stephanie: Yeah. So from now on, we’re not having guests. It’s just gonna be Dan and I.

Dan: Just – you know, just chilling.

Stephanie: Just shooting, you know, the stuff. That was me censoring myself for iTunes.

Dan: I was gonna say and then I stopped myself so I said just chilling.

Stephanie: Because that’s something. If you swear on iTunes, you will have to have an adult rating. The more you know.

Dan: You know what?  We should test that. I wonder if having an adult rating would actually increase our listens. Maybe there’s a certain cache to that.

Stephanie: Because people would be like, wow, that is a naughty marketing podcast.

Dan: I feel like a naughty marketing podcast would be something else, but…

Stephanie: Yeah, so like aside from just a standard interview format, having more chats, more discussions. Something I’ve even kind of toyed with is having debates or just really having more actual kind of documentary style, journalism style, reporting, potentially.

Dan: One thing I’d like to do more of is share our experiences here at Unbounce. Because I think we’re very wary of being too self reflective or too self centered, which is I think why even this episode, talking about ourselves, feels like a little bit weird or against our nature. But you know, in the last two years since I’ve been here, our marketing team has gone from five people to 35. And there have been so many lessons along the way. There’s been some pain, there have been some triumphs. We’re constantly trying to improve on our structure, on our processes. And so I think that there probably are a lot of lessons that we could share.

And one of our values as a company is to be transparent and generous in terms of what we share with the world. And I think there’s an opportunity in this podcast to do that, as well. Plus, like we have all these amazing thought leaders within the company that we never had before. Like we never had a PPC specialist, an email marketing specialist, a CRO – the fifth top ranked CRO works for our company, now, Michael Aagaard. So I think we should be tapping that expertise more than we have been.

Stephanie: Yeah, and it’s something that we toyed a little bit at one point when we moved from definitions. We did a little, quick Unbounce employee story, which I actually really liked and I thought it was kind of an interesting way to segue into the interview. But we got some feedback that it kind of seemed a bit more like filler, again. So I think there is something to be said from talking about the kind of roadblocks and solutions that we have experienced as a company.

Because it is – again, we get that more intimate feel in the interview itself, and it’s something that we also know intimately which can allow for fun format changes. We’ve experienced all these issues that people are writing blog posts about so we may as well just talk about it in a real situation.

Dan: Yeah, and we also want to know what you guys want to hear more of. Like, does that sound like insufferable to you, to hear us go on about ourselves?  Is that something that you’re interested in hearing more of?  Is there anybody in particular you’d like us to have on the podcast?  Would you like to be on the podcast?  Let us know because we’re obviously doing this for business value but, like any good piece of content marketing, we’re doing this for our audience, first. And if it doesn’t resonate with you, then there’s just no point in doing it.

The feedback that we’ve gotten so far has been amazing. The reviews and the ratings have been great. We’re so appreciative of all the downloads every week. But we want to, like true conversion centered marketers, we want to keep optimizing and keep improving. And so please let us know how we could do better.

Stephanie: Yeah, so you can do that by either emailing us at podcast@unbounce.com. If you’re not a super big fan of email, you can tweet at us. I am @msbeansie, that’s M-S-B-E-A-N-S-I-E.

Dan: I am @DanJL, D-A-N-J-L.

Stephanie: So email, Twitter, you can – well, you can’t really phone us because we don’t really have phone numbers but yeah, just –

Dan: Look us up on Skype. There’s a lot of Dan Levys but you could find me.

Stephanie: If you find the right one. Yeah, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear your feedback. It’s super important for us. And like we said, this is the year that we really want to play around with the format and get a lot of new people on, so we would love to hear what you want to listen to.

Dan: Hey, Stephanie?

Stephanie: Yes, Dan?

Dan: Is that your call to action?

Stephanie: I think that was my call to action.

Dan: All right, then. Play the music. Thanks so –

Stephanie: Thanks for listening.

Stephanie: One, two, three.

Both: Thanks for listening.


View this article: 

Lessons Learned from Year 1 of the Call to Action Podcast [PODCAST]

Beating Copywriter’s Block [PODCAST]

beating-copywriters-block-650

We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread.

You’ve got your pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), but your mind is as blank as your Google doc. And your landing page copy isn’t going to write itself.

Before you throw up your arms and abandon your work, listen to the latest episode of the Call to Action podcast. Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy interviews Grant Lingel, Content Manager of professional service provider Bunny Inc. about tricks he’s used to break free of the prison that is writer’s block.

You will learn:

  • How you can find the happy medium between landing page copy that delights and landing page copy that converts.
  • What mirror neurons are and how they can help you get out of your copywriting rut.
  • Why you don’t have to feel guilty about the hour a day you spend browsing your Facebook newsfeed (turn your procrastination into productivity!).

Listen to the podcast

Download via iTunes.
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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan Levy: So writer’s block is something anyone who writes can relate to, but you usually hear more about it in literary circles rather than in the context of online marketing. Why do you think that is?

Grant Lingel: That’s a great question because it’s definitely true. And as a writer, you know, writer’s block can definitely happen to anybody at any time. But in my eyes, I think writer’s block typically occurs more in the world of fictional writing as opposed to nonfictional.

Dan Levy: Right.

Grant Lingel: Now, as a writer, I’ve worked with both fictional and nonfictional. With online marketing and copywriting, usually the writer’s pretty well versed in the topic or at least very well briefed about what they’re working on, and not just that, who the audience is gonna be. So they have a much better idea of what they’re getting into as opposed to somebody who’s in the literary world where they’re usually creating characters, building a whole new world, developing storylines, trying to connect everything in an engaging, fun way that’s gonna keep the reader turning the pages. I think that’s why writer’s block affects fictional writers more so than copywriters and online marketers. So, with that said, writer’s block can definitely happen to people that work with copywriting and people who work in online marketing and content marketing worlds. But at least in my opinion, I think it’s a lot more short-winded and it deals usually more with struggling to find the right wording and not so much being lost altogether and unable to continue or needing to take a few days off or −

Dan Levy: Yeah, that makes sense. They have to wait for those moments of inspiration where you’re obviously working within a preexisting constraint, which is to persuade people to do something. At the same time, copywriters don’t just have to worry about their writing being really great; they also have to make sure it converts. So do you think that variable makes your job easier or harder?

Grant Lingel: I think both. First of all, I’ll say why I think it makes it easier. So going along the lines of what I was just talking about with writer’s block, writing copy entails not only knowing the topic but understanding the audience and understanding the business you might be working for or the product or the service that you’re writing about. Because the writer needs to do a lot of research to craft the copy in the right way, to drive conversions and to a very highly targeted reader, they’re able to focus on building up the content to make the call to action essentially the climax of the story. I mean, this’ll keep the writer focused on the task at hand, which is to create engaging copy. And that will ultimately drive conversions. So I think that makes it easier because it keeps the writer focused. I think focusing on conversions can make it harder as well. I know it’s kind of saying one thing and then saying the other, but because it’s harder because if you’re writing just a blog post, for example, about your favorite restaurant, you don’t really need too much research. You don’t really need to think too hard about it. You went there, you had a meal, you enjoyed it, fantastic, you can write about it. You still wanna do a good job because you wanna drive people to that restaurant. But instead of just understanding the topic that’s being covered, a copywriter also needs to understand who they’re working for, the product in question, the audience, trying to do it all in a specific word count that contains the right amount of keywords and is polished for SEO purposes. All these factors make the process a lot more intensive. So you can’t really take shortcuts, and if you do, you’re gonna pay for it down the road.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I think sometimes having those constraints is helpful creatively when you know you’re constrained or at least you’re focused on a particular goal and a particular business goal. It gives you a context for your writing that you don’t have when you’re just writing fiction or writing for some other reason. At the same time, you’re definitely more accountable to your words, aren’t you?

Grant Lingel: Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. But at least for me, and I know a lot of writers who think the same way, that added pressure is fantastic for productivity. I mean, being under the gun when it comes to deadlines and knowing that you need to get it done in that certain amount of words or in that certain timeframe, it’s like cramming for an exam. You have to do it or else you’re gonna lose that client; you’re gonna lose that project. And obviously, that is not at all what you wanna do. So having that added pressure, I think, is a fantastic motivator to get it done and do it in a great way.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Also, there actually is such thing as right and wrong when it comes to copywriting.

Grant Lingel: Definitely, yeah.

Dan Levy: If it’s persuading people and making people convert, then you’re doing it right. If not, it doesn’t matter how pretty the words are — you’re ultimately doing it wrong by definition.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, you might have a way with words and tell a beautiful story, but if it’s not doing the end goal of converting readers into buyers or users of certain services, you need to go back to the beginning and figure out what you did wrong and focus on what’s gonna drive those conversions.

Dan Levy: All right. So your post outlines nine ways to dig yourself out of those kinds of ruts and find inspiration for crafting your landing page copy. Can you talk about how something called mirror neurons can help?

Grant Lingel: The whole idea of mirror neurons is really interesting because essentially not until long ago in the 1990s, humanity had no idea why we cringe if we see somebody take a sip of rotten milk or why we get warm and fuzzy inside if we see a family embracing at the airport. It makes me feel good. The answer? It’s because of mirror neurons. When you witness an event like this, you put yourself in the place of the person to whom it’s happening. So when you see somebody coming home and embracing their children, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy because you can feel that. You don’t need to be in that hug. It doesn’t need to happen. It might never have happened to you. But you can put yourself there, and that’s because of mirror neurons. So, although it may not seem like it if you watch the news a lot, humans are actually very empathetic creatures. So mirror neurons let you connect your own experiences to experiences that are currently happening around you. So because you know that, for example, rotten milk is absolutely disgusting, you’re gonna gag if you see your sister unknowingly take a sip from a cup of funky milk. So by digging deep into your own past and using your own experiences for inspiration, you’re already gonna have an idea of what kind of content that you wanna write and what kind of reactions you’re gonna receive from the people who are reading them. So if you can put yourself into the eyes — or the mind rather — of the reader, you can already draw certain emotions and certain conclusions while you’re writing, before it’s even published. It’s a great way to connect with your reader on a very emotional level without even having to talk to them, without even having to know them, because they’re gonna be able to experience what you’re writing just from reading it. They don’t even need to be in the room. They don’t need to be with you. The mirror neurons in their brain are gonna relate their own past experiences to the words that they’re reading on the screen. It’s a very interesting concept, and I think it can really help a writer because you can honestly put yourself into the position of the reader without doing anything but digging into your own experiences.

Dan Levy: I love it because we’ve talked about empathy on the show before in the context of copywriting and just great marketing in general, and it’s always felt genuine, but it’s also felt a little bit touchy-feely and a bit of a squishy concept, especially for more conversion-centered marketers. But what you’re saying here is that, no, this is actually rooted in science.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan Levy: And I think that’s a language that a lot of data-centered marketers understand maybe a lot better, so I love how we’re kind of bridging the science with the human emotion here.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, it’s great, because emotion drives everything. People wanna hear a great story. So even if you’re talking about copywriting or creating a landing page for a product or some service, you can sell it based on telling a beautiful story and making the people relate. Touching on those emotions is one of the most important things there is when it comes to selling a product or hooking a reader, making them feel like they’re more connected to a company instead of just a wallet waiting to buy something at the other end.

Dan Levy: Well, talking about good stories, no pressure, but can you maybe give an example of how you’ve used your own experiences and memories and empathy to inspire your landing page copy?

Grant Lingel: Well, that’s tough, what’s the −

Dan Levy: So a good story.

Grant Lingel: − I mean, one specific story? I mean, it’s not a fantastic story, but it’s something that’s stuck in my mind every time when I’m writing for a landing page. Writing copy for landing pages needs to be done in a way that drives action. Otherwise, there aren’t going to be any conversions. So, if there are no conversions, what’s the point? You’ve got to start over. So when creating the right copy, I think back to all the experiences I’ve had reading copy on other sites to see what piques my interest and what leaves me uninterested or bouncing away quickly. So this one time, I saw an ad on Facebook that I thought looked fantastic. It was about a skateboard company. I’ve been a skater for ages. And the company made handcrafted longboards, and the photo was beautiful. The text was simple in the ad, and it was effective. I clicked. I went to the landing page. And when I got there, I was just knocked over. I was completely bombarded by just so much information. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing because it was the opposite of what the ad looked like. Their colors clashed. There were images everywhere. Some were black and white; some were in color. There were multiple headlines, big, chunky paragraphs that just rambled on and on. It took me way too long to find the call to action because it was buried below mountains of random text, reviews, images. It was just a mess. By the time I was able to find the call to action, I had to actually scroll down to get to it, which is a big no-no right there, and I left. But I did like the page on Facebook. A few months down the road, they posted something on their Facebook page, and I was like, all right, I’m gonna check it out because it looks great, and it was different. It was a much different experience. Somebody must have gotten on the horn and was like, “Yo, you guys really need to change this because it looks terrible. It’s not working. You’re not selling these boards.” So when I got there, the new page was crisp; it was beautiful, and I ended up buying a board. I use that experience every time I write landing page copy. I always think about that skateboard company and how awful the experience was the first time, and then a couple months later, it was completely different, and it worked. It’s funny because the board didn’t change. It was still the same fantastic product that I use to this day, but the sales experience, the whole experience between me and the company changed and that’s what made the difference.

Dan Levy: That’s a great example because it shows you the opportunity there and the opportunity that’s lost when you do succeed in making that emotional connection and speaking to somebody’s lived experience and their sense of anticipation and then you completely crush their hopes when you show them the landing page that just doesn’t speak to that at all.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, it was really surprising. And I felt fantastic when I went back a couple months later and saw that that was resolved, just gotta keep it crisp and to the point. You don’t wanna go crazy and lose people before they get to the call to action.

Dan Levy: You also recommend looking to books and TV shows and movies and even tabloids for copywriting inspiration. In a sense, it sounds like you’re just enabling my bad habits here. But can you paint a picture of how you’ve applied something you’ve seen in a book or on screen to your landing page?

Grant Lingel: A lot of different things that I’ve done with inspiration that I’ve seen from TV, but it’s not like a specific show. It’s more of a specific technique actually. I’ve always been a big fan of standup comedy. Standup has always been huge in my life. Comedians like George Carlin, Mitch Hedberg, Louis CK, Dave Chappelle, they’ve always influenced me because they take the obvious and they shed this brilliant light from a totally different angle that really makes you think, obviously makes you laugh as well, but it makes you think. And you’re gonna hear something that they say, and you’re gonna say, “Wow, why didn’t I think of that?” or maybe you had thought of it. Why didn’t you say it? Why didn’t you go on stage and tell that obvious joke? And it’s because what they’re pointing out are things that are not only true but they’re things that are relevant to almost everyone. I mean, they’re things that almost anyone can relate to. So when I’m thinking of the right one-liner or the right title or the right slogan, I think of these comedians and I think of different ways to grab people’s attention by pointing out something obvious but in a way that might be hidden. I mean, I’m obviously not doing it for laughs. I have a terrible delivery when it comes to comedy. I’m doing it to leave people thinking. I want them to think what I think when I hear a great joke from one of the best comedians. You know, “Wow, that’s so true. Why didn’t I think of that?” When you do that, whether you’re writing subheads for a listicle post or a catchy title for a landing page, you’re instantly gonna leave the reader wanting to read on and learn more about whatever the content is about because you’re gonna catch them with just a few words and I think that, especially now today, people don’t have amazing patience. People are just surrounded by endless information. So if you really don’t catch them right off the bat, you’re gonna lose them. So you need to figure out ways that’s gonna make people think because if they’re thinking or smiling or laughing or whatever, they’re gonna wanna see what else is coming.

Dan Levy: It’s funny because, on one hand, we’re marketers and we’re reading these case studies and blog posts and a lot of these best practices that are floating around. But we also all watch Netflix, I’m sure, and we read either books or trashy magazines and go to the movies. And I don’t think a lot of people are necessarily making that connection. They think that these are two separate worlds, but a lot of these storytelling techniques and even these persuasion techniques and these ways to connect with you emotionally exist in these other media as well. So I think that’s a great piece of advice to pay attention.

Grant Lingel: Absolutely. It’s all connected. I mean, storytelling is everywhere. It’s on a box of cereal. It’s not just in the literary world or movies or TV. Everything is telling a story. So if you can connect with who’s listening, that’s it. You win.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Actually, another thing you suggest in your post is Facebook and Twitter −

Grant Lingel: Oh, yeah.

Dan Levy: − which I think again sometimes feels like a bad habit and like a total time suck.

Grant Lingel: Oh, absolutely.

Dan Levy: But there are also ways to turn that social media procrastination into productivity, right?

Grant Lingel: Oh, for sure. I mean, I try and keep my time scrolling endlessly and mindlessly on my Facebook newsfeed to a minimum because, like you said, it can absolutely be a time suck. And when you’re just browsing through endless photos of friends’ babies and cats and what they had for lunch, you can just feel like, “What am I doing? I should be productive right now. This is awful.” But when it comes to finding inspiration for what to write, especially for something specific like a landing page, Facebook can be a great source of inspiration and productivity. When I go to Facebook or Twitter for inspiration, it’s to look at current trends and to see what people are sharing and not just what they’re talking about, but how they’re saying it. Most of the things that are popping up on newsfeeds these days are links to blog posts and product pages as well, so that’s another excellent way to see what people are sharing and to discover what it is about the copy in these posts that is so sharable. Why are they sharing this and not the 5 billion other posts that are going live that same day? It’s astonishing how much is out there. So to see what people are sharing is a peak into what it is that makes something sharable and therefore valuable. So when you start browsing through posts on Twitter and posts on Facebook and landing pages that are shared across social media, you begin to recognize patterns. You see what style of storytelling is being used and how it’s being displayed. And if you look really closely over a period of time, you can see the transition from one trend to another. If one major site or influential post by somebody with 5 million, 10 million followers, if they do one little thing differently, the next day you’re gonna see everybody doing that one little thing differently and then that becomes the new trend. Soon enough, that becomes the norm. And until the next makeover comes along and leaves posts looking a little bit different again, you need to follow those trends. So it’s not good to just sit around on Facebook and do nothing. It’s great to catch up with friends; it’s great to see every once in a while what’s going on. But to be productive with it, to find inspiration with it, it’s good to follow the trends and to see why and how people are talking about certain things because trends change pretty quickly now, so you’ve got to stay on top of things.

Dan Levy: Yeah. You also recommend looking at your competitors for copywriting ideas, right?

Grant Lingel: Oh, for sure.

Dan Levy: How do you do that though without, you know, like, stealing?

Grant Lingel: You never wanna steal, ever obviously. But you should definitely take into account what your competitors are doing. The reason is to check out the competition because you wanna see what they’re missing out on. You wanna see what they’re doing but you wanna see what’s not there as well. You don’t just check out their landing page as the competition, looking for ideas and then jacking those ideas. You wanna look at their landing pages, not as a competing writer business or landing page creator. You wanna look at their landing page as a potential customer. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was interested enough to click over from an ad and who may wanna buy what the landing pages are offering. And then you look at it. You think, “Okay, this looks great, but is there something missing? Are the colors off? Does the text say too much? Does it say too little? Are there any emotional connections being made from the copy?” If you break down the competition, you can craft a landing page that fills in the missing pieces from the competition.

Dan Levy: Right. It sort of goes back to what you were saying earlier about clicking through that Facebook ad and being disappointed by the skateboarding landing page.

Grant Lingel: Definitely.

Dan Levy: You could learn a lot by clicking, just clicking around and seeing the opportunities that your competitors and your peers and just other marketers are missing out on.

Grant Lingel: Oh, for sure.

Dan Levy: And of course, often it’s as simple as that, right? Follow up with a landing page that actually matches what you offered in the ad. It’s so basic, but so many people are missing that opportunity.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, constantly. I mean, with that skateboarding company, I wanted to just email them, be, like, “Hey, guys, let me help you out. I mean, I wanted −”

Dan Levy: “I’m trying to buy from you. I’m trying, but −”

Grant Lingel: Yeah, “Please stop ruining my purchasing experience with your loud landing page. Please let me help you.” But luckily, they figured it out on their own.

Dan Levy: Well, not to bring back any painful memories, but to circle back to what we were talking about before in terms of maybe being faced with that writer’s block or not knowing exactly how to start writing your landing page copy, can you recall a time in your career when you’ve been in that situation and you were able to dig your way out of that hole by using some of these tactics?

Grant Lingel: Oh, yeah, for sure. There’s always gonna be writer’s block. There’s always gonna be a time where you have no idea how to get started or how to continue where you left off. I wouldn’t call it a painful memory because a lot of time, writing itself can be very painful.

Dan Levy: True that.

Grant Lingel: But every writer has been hit by writer’s block. It happened to me while writing my books. It happens to me all the time writing blog posts, outlines for future blog posts, landing pages. Heck, even sometimes I get writer’s block with emails because I want to word an email properly, but sometimes I’m like, oh, man, I’ve got to just − I’ve got to get out of here, and it happens.

Dan Levy: Oh, for sure. I think of all the copywriters and content marketers that we have in house, and I know that just hearing you say that is gonna provide so much comfort and reassurance because everybody’s in that boat sometimes.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, of course, because writing is intensive. It’s hard on the brain. It’s a lot of mental work and stimulation because you’re not just trying to create something out of nothing. You’re trying to use everything in your brain to get to that creation point. You’re reading, you’re studying, you’re researching, you’re pulling from your own experiences, you’re trying to create something out of thin air. So sometimes your brain just gets really tired and doesn’t want to write. It just wants to chill. And I’ve found for me, getting outside and getting as far from technology as possible is the best way to dig myself out of the hole. And being in nature has and it’s always been the answer to my problems. Even when I lived in New York City, a quick walk in the park would help just destroy my writer’s block because I was able to reconnect with a setting where I feel more comfortable. I know New York City’s not like the ideal place to experience nature, but just getting outside and feeling some sunshine on your face and watching the clouds breeze by and feel the wind and listen to the birds, and while you’re doing this, you’re gonna be putting a smile on your face. And if you’re putting a smile on your face, you’re gonna feel better. And when you feel good, you feel motivated, you feel inspired, and when you’re inspired and happy, writer’s block is not going to affect you.

Dan Levy: All right. Well, I’m feeling inspired. I think I’m gonna go outside −

Grant Lingel: Nice.

Dan Levy: − even though it’s snowy and cold, I think it’s time for a walk.

Grant Lingel: Yeah.

Dan Levy: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Grant. This was great.

Grant Lingel: Yeah, of course, yeah, it was great chatting, and thank you very much for talking with me.

Dan Levy: Thank you.

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Beating Copywriter’s Block [PODCAST]

The No-Shortcut Approach to Building a Credible Content Marketing Strategy [PODCAST]

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Image by Jens Lelie via Unsplash.

“New year, new me” is a phrase I’m sure you’re all hearing lately. For those who actually need to restructure their content teams or strategies this year, that phrase might be ringing especially true. But how do you figure out which changes will bring about the biggest benefits?

Our content strategist, Dan Levy, nerded out with Jay Acunzo of NextView ventures about the different ways to grow a high-performing content team, and why developing a credible content strategy is hard work, but absolutely necessary. Plus, hear Jay talk about his issue with the growth hacking trend.

You will learn:

  • The pros and cons of different team structures
  • How to get the most mileage out of your best performing content
  • The issue that Jay has with terms like “growth hacking” and “the one secret to…”

Listen to the podcast

Download via iTunes.
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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Stephanie Saretsky: Hey podcast listeners! Happy new year! I hope you had a good break and that you missed us here at the Call to Action podcast. We saved one of our favorite interviews for you so we could start 2016 off with a bang: If you’re concerned about growing a content team this year, then this is the episode to listen to.

Jay Acunzo: I’m Jay Acunzo, VP of Platform and Content and NextView Ventures.

Stephanie Saretsky: Our Content Strategist, Dan Levy spoke with Jay and they nerded out on the different ways you can grow a content team and how to customize your content strategy to your unique company or agency structure. Plus, hear Jay tell about Dan the issue he has with growth hacking. Check it out.

Dan Levy: So you’re an experienced content marketer who’s gone from traditional journalism over to Hubspot, the inbound marketing monster, to the world of start-ups and venture capital. What’s been the most surprising part of that transition so far?

Jay Acunzo: Probably that people keep paying me to create things for a living.

Dan Levy: Pretty awesome.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I’m incredibly thankful for it. It’s awesome that we live in this era where that’s actually a job function that people want and need and actually it’s a growing need for a lot of companies. So that’s great. I actually started my career — you didn’t mention it — but at Google doing ad sales. And I remember one day I went home and I was hyping this YouTube video to my friends as the greatest thing ever. And when I started to play it, after they were all leaning forward into my laptop, I hit play, and obviously what happened? A pre-roll ad hit.

And the thought I had was, “Damn it, Eric,” which is a weird thought to have when you see a pre-roll ad pop up. But I thought, “Damn it, Eric,” because I knew the colleague of mine at Google that had sold the ad campaign to make this terrible, frustrating experience possible. And then I had this really terrible thought after that which was, “I have the same job as Eric at Google.” So someone somewhere was cursing the name of the person responsible for this awful experience, and they didn’t know it, but that person was me. And obviously with Google’s scale, that wasn’t one person. That was thousands, if not millions and millions of people. So I’m very thankful that I’ve found my way into content marketing, and it’s a role that allows me to actually create stuff people want. I like to say, “It’s better to make stuff people want, not make people want stuff.”

Dan Levy: Cool. Well, can you talk about your role a little bit? I don’t know how many in-house content marketers there are at other VC firms. So would you describe yourself as a consultant whose job is to support the start-ups in your firm’s portfolio, or are you focused on building thought leadership for the firm itself through content marketing?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, so my job, they call it Platform. It means a lot of different things at a lot of different VC firms, and it’s definitely an emerging trend. I’d say NextView was one of the first to move on it, especially in the early stage venture world on the east coast. My job is to help start-ups gain initial traction through scalable resources. So it’s very little consulting — although I do a lot with marketing one to one with our start-ups — but really, my job is to figure out what are the problems facing either the start-ups we’ve invested in, or communities like Boston, New York, San Francisco, nationally, here in the US. And what are those problems? What are all the steps that founders are currently moving through to solve those problems? And then how can we create something to take out some of those steps?

Dan Levy: Okay. So not to get too bogged down in semantics, but I notice the term content or content strategy seems to mean something different whether you’re in agency circles or in the start-up world, or even in inbound marketing tech companies like Hubspot or Unbounce. What would you say are the challenges of working on another company’s content strategy compared to being an in-house content marketer?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. I mean I definitely help with the start-ups that we work with their content strategies, but I’ve really been in-house for the bulk of my career, including at NextView. I do a lot of content to further our brand.

Dan Levy: Right.

Jay Acunzo: But I think a lot of this is about having extreme empathy, which sounds kind of squishy, but I think it’s about acting like a vessel, almost like a journalist does when they first start. They’re not a topical expert in whatever field they’re reporting on. They just get really good at asking questions, listening, absorbing, picking up on the nuance of both the subjects that they’re talking to and then the audience they’re trying to reach. And so, I think that empathy idea is really, really important. And I think another is — and I’ve noticed this as people start to leave former start-ups that have gone public or exited some regardI think people that have had success doing something one way and then try to apply it elsewhere fail fast.

So I think another big part of this idea of helping someone else versus in-house is knowing how to approach problems and test for answers, but not being too prescriptive. So just because something worked for me when I was at Google or Hubspot doesn’t mean it’s gonna work exactly that way at exactly this moment with exactly this other company and their audience. So it’s more about the framework of testing hypotheses to find what works than actually tending you have the answers for another business right away.

Dan Levy: Okay. And those two things dove-tail, right? You need to start with the empathy, thinking about the end user, thinking about why they need this content, and then, of course, test that insight or that hypothesis to make sure that’s borne out through A/B testing and through more, I guess, more database means.

Jay Acunzo: Oh, totally, and I think, this thing happened to me at Hubspot that I’ve taken with me since then that’s really helped me work with our start-ups, which is we gave away a bunch of templates that acted very similarly to the product. And I realized we were basically giving away dumber, less effective versions of the software.

Dan Levy: Right.

Jay Acunzo: And they were wildly successful pieces for us, and all I could think of was, “Wow. Why do we do content? Why do we create a product or a service as a business? All of this is about solving a customer problem.” So I think if you frame content marketing as solving the same problem or fulfilling the same desire that your product or service has to offer. Your product is ostensibly built so solve some sort of problem, and start-ups, that’s why they start. It becomes a lot easier to go and advise somebody else, especially in the start-up world, because you sit down and you start talking to them about why did you start the business? Or what is your product great at?  Or why do customers love you?What problem is ailing your customer today?

And then it’s just matching that between the product and the content, and it aligns it so beautifully, too. That’s the other thing, is all this has to align and drive a business result. So that one definition of content marketing solving the same problem that your product solves I think can go a long way in helping someone who is a consultant be a very good one.

Dan Levy: Right. And of course your products could change; your company could pivot, if you start with that mission or that problem.  Then it’s easy to adapt your content and to pivot in the right direction.

Jay Acunzo: Totally. It also helps a lot of start-ups start blogging and creating content now to get results in the near term or maybe a few months down the road before they have a product, or before their product has product market fit. Because they know the problem they wanna solve. They know the advice they’d like to give to the world, or the things they’d like to say, or the answers that they might have. They don’t have the product built yet, or if they do, they’re still figuring out how to sell it to a lot of people. But they can start with the content piece very easily, and build an audience that they can test against and convert later.

So it’s a really nice way to frame your content marketing, because I think it actually lends itself to getting early results as a start-up. And if you’re a larger company and you haven’t been thinking this way, try giving away a little piece of that product that you have, like a template for example. Because you’ll start to see people downloading it in droves, and then every sell that you make to people who have downloaded that thing is like an up-sale. You’re already doing this thing, or you’re already trying to solve this problem. Well, oh by the way, we happen to have a product that’s way better at doing that. And that’s a much easier sell than ripping the cord and running over from what you’re using today as a customer to use my product.

Dan Levy: Um-hum. Yeah, here at Unbounce we launched our blog I think something like nine months before our product was even ready. So we can definitely relate to that.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, that’s awesome.

Dan Levy: Okay, so I know you’ve done a lot of thinking around the organization and structure of content teams, which is something that we’ve been thinking a lot about here as well. And at risk of going down a rabbit hole, let me ask you this: Do you think content should be treated as a distinct channel within an organization, with its own producers and creatives and strategists who operate independently within a team or within an agency? Or is content more of a discipline whose tentacles should be spread throughout the organization?

Jay Acunzo: So I honestly, and this is a hugely important question, but I honestly think —

Dan Levy: It’s also a huge question, I realize.

Jay Acunzo: It’s a huge question, for sure, but it’s also hugely important. I honestly think there are many ways to handle this, and it depends on the company’s stage and culture and the specifics of that company. So also if you wind up with one right structure that every company tries to apply, and one general direction, I think we’re all screwed.

Dan Levy: And sandwiched in there, I had teams and agencies, and obviously those are totally different set-ups.

Jay Acunzo: Totally, yeah. So what you can do, actually, is talk about the pros and cons of each structure, and then make an informed decision. So, for instance, I gave a talk a few weeks ago to a large enterprise marketing team. And they dedicated meaningful time — this is an off-site to talk about big-picture things and what’s ailing them — and they dedicated meaningful time to talk about what tools that different areas of the department was buying and how they didn’t know what was going on, or how they could better interact with their in-house creative agency, which was centralized to do all the content.

So I think the pros of centralizing is you get this domain expertise group together, but then there are silos and frictions that emerge between departments or sub-teams. Then on the other end the pros of spreading throughout the organization is that you create this great content culture, you might get a swifter response to produce the content based on the goals you have team to team, you’re more integrated between teammates, and you can tailor that content accordingly. But you might have a Frankenstein monster of a brand if nobody’s looking out for the consistency of quality and feel and all that. Documentation could help, but I just don’t know anybody that truly pays attention to internal documentation, right?

So the solution might be somewhere in the middle. And I’m painting with massively broad strokes here. Again, I don’t think one prescribed structure is the answer. But something I saw work really well at Google on the sales team that I think could work with content teams was to have we called them product specialists at Google. — you could call them content specialists at your organization — where basically we had these large verticalized sales teams that were either generalists or owned a certain type of client, and we had a lot of products to sell:  YouTube, mobile, search, display, the list went on. And we had a few people that volunteered to go really deep on our teams in those products, and then they had a dotted line reporting back to a centralized product team, which would provide best practices, communication, suggested approaches, case studies, tools, mentorship, all that.

In content, it might be, for example, a centralized editorial board or creative unit. And then you have these individuals dispersed throughout the company to do the frontline work, and have the nuance of each individual team or case kind of grocked. So maybe something like that would actually work really well.

Dan Levy: Cool, yeah. There’s so many ways that you could approach it, but I think the key, like you said, is not to just read a case study and then try to apply that to your own organization and assume that it’s gonna work.

Jay Acunzo: Right, right. I think the major takeaway from all that is somebody has to do something centralized. It can’t just be all distributed. I think there has to be some kind of consistency, which is hard. But whether that’s a whole team doing all the content in one place and kind of being treated like an internal service bureau, or it’s just an editorial review board, or something like that, I think that’s gonna vary case by case.

Dan Levy: Yeah, and something that we’ve been looking at internally, which is based on what our developers actually I do, which I believe is based on the Agile framework, is to split the team into squads and chapters. So the squads would be organized around, let’s say, the customer life cycle, and it would go through marketing to sales to all the way to the customer’s success, but they would be self-contained, so they would include, let’s say, a strategist and a producer and a creative, and then maybe like a communications person. And they would all work together, maybe sit together, but all those creatives and all those producers and all those strategists would also be part of their own chapters.

So you could think of those as the disciplines, the editorial discipline, the creative discipline. And so you would have people overseeing those chapters through all the squads to make sure that the editorial voice is consistent, that creatively your brand is consistent. I thought that was kind of an interesting way to approach it.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, I mean that’s awesome. That’s definitely — it kind of speaks to the same thing of you’re moving between both ideas of people who are very, very specialized or even centralized, and people that have to understand there’s nuance across lots of individuals’ work, and lots of goals and ways you’re measured, and you kinda have to account for both things.

Dan Levy: Yeah, plus these are disciplines. In terms of professional development, you wanna develop your creative skills. You wanna develop your editorial skills. And I think it’s important to have mentors and people whose job it is to oversee both the consistency from a brand perspective, but also to help develop those skills on an individual level.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, you bring up a really good point. We talk a lot about organization of teams in content, but we very rarely think about well what is the individual gonna find most fulfilling and rewarding to create a vibrant and fulfilling career for themselves, right? Nobody in a creative field — and I’d argue that content marketing as a large creative component to it — nobody wants to be a short-order cook. And so I feel like if you put those content producers that you have or editors or writers, either outsourced to an agency or internally, if they’re centralized and they’re just taking, almost on a ticket system, they’re just reacting to the demands of your organization, that’s really unfulfilling, right? And so you have to do really, really strong communication. You have to make sure you’re meeting face to face, do all these things to smooth over on the communication side, things that you wouldn’t face if you were integrated across the company.

So you just gotta be cognizant. I think we have to stop talking about people like their little dots on an org chart when it comes to content marketing teams, and start figuring out how do we get the best possible results from our people, which is what a business wants. It’s also what the individual wants, right? And so talk to the people on your team. Figure out what’s gonna motivate them the most. Figure out what they wanna do in their careers. Maybe they don’t wanna be CMO. Maybe they do wanna be a creative agency. And then act accordingly.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Well I wanna get into a little bit more of that personal, professional development stuff later on. But first, switching gears a little bit, you had something kind of weird and cool happen to you a little while ago that you wrote about on your blog. I think you described it as both encouraging and discouraging. I think you know what I’m getting at here.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah, yeah. The worst — so I’ve been writing on the internet for years — the worst thing and the most pointless thing that I’ve ever written just became this viral post on Medium.

Dan Levy: Right.

Jay Acunzo: And you have people in the tech world, on the investment side, like Chris Sacca, who was recently on Shark Tank, early investor in Twitter and Uber and all these big guys, David Cancel here in Boston, former Chief Product Officer of Hubspot, now he’s founder of Drift and he’s a serial entrepreneur, Heaton Shaw, who everybody knows in the SaaS world, all these people were recommending this post. And I was like, “What is going on?” It was sitting on the top of the homepage of Medium for a week.

Dan Levy: It’s always the posts that you slave over, right, that go nowhere, and the ones that you think are toss-offs that all the sudden rack up the shares. It’s so heartbreaking.

Jay Acunzo: Well, what was heartbreaking about this — I can read you the whole post and take only a few seconds of your listeners’ time right now — the title was “The One Secret Thing All Successful People Do.” When you click the headline, the article was this. Number one: they don’t look for secrets to success in freaking blog posts. That was it. That was the whole post. That was the whole post. It was one sentence. It was like 5:30 on a Friday. I thought that would be a funny joke. I had just gotten my fill of links in my feed about promising all these secrets to success that are always full of crap, and I was just amazed that there’s this shortcut culture, and disheartened by it.

But there was this encouraging and discouraging piece to it. So it was encouraging that lots of people read something I wrote on the internet. That was nice. But it was one sentence long, literally one sentence long. The encouraging part, again — this is me debating in my own head and having this existential crisis as a writer — I was sort of like well maybe a good writer can even convey meaning in one sentence, and it doesn’t matter that all my longer form things didn’t go viral.

Dan Levy: Right.

Jay Acunzo: But then I was like, wait. Oh. Hold on. That doesn’t matter, because people actually believed there was one secret to success that they didn’t know. Like it was gonna solve all their problems. They clicked the headline because they’re like, “Oh, one secret? Yeah, sign me up.”

Dan Levy: Well, hey, you identified a problem. People are — a need — people looking for that one solution, that magic bullet. And then you broke their hearts.

Jay Acunzo: Well I was kind of like trying to hold up a mirror to the internet, in some way. And what was actually encouraging — and this is where I ended my reflection post that you’re talking about where I just had to make sense of this in another article — the last thing I landed on was it was encouraging because a ton of people got the joke and shared it and laughed at it, and it was awesome.  There were some people that totally got upset. They wanted the secret, and they were mad that it was a joke. And the analogy I use is if you’re a Family Guy fan, Lois says to Peter in one episode, “Well, Peter, I bet you learned a valuable lesson today.” And Peter just goes, “Nope!” And it’s like, it was the same thing. It was like, “Well, internet, I bet you learned a valuable lesson today about seeking shortcuts.” And the people that were angry, all they were saying back to me was like, “Nope!” So it was quite the experience.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I think trying to teach the internet a lesson is like a path to ruin.

Jay Acunzo: Yes, says someone who would know. I feel like you honor the right path of creating great work whether you’re from Sparksheet to Unbounce. You clearly care about your craft of writing, so I think you understand the agony and the dichotomy that I had in my own brain of this is positive but it’s also negative.

Dan Levy: Yeah. No. 100 percent. That really resonated with me. You wrote another short post on your blog recently, though not quite as short as that, where you asked marketers whether they’re creating content for the delivery or for the response. What did you mean by that?

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. So to me this is the idea between reaching someone and resonating with someone. And the analogy I use — actually a story that really happened — a buddy of mine who works for Hubspot, his name’s Eric Devaney, he’s one of the greatest content minds that I know. I’ve hired him twice. I would hire him a million more times. The guy’s great. He was getting married a few months ago, and I was catching up with him and his now wife. And they were talking to me about their process of writing their vows.

And Juliette, his wife is a product manager, and Eric is a writer and a creator, like in the truest sense. And he was making fun of how she kind of used her approach to product, very logical, very systematic, to write the vows. As soon as they decided they were gonna write their own vows, she wrote on a bulleted list. And Eric was kind of making fun of her for that. He was like, “I love you Er-ic.” is how he framed it to me. But Juliette started with: I have to write vows. How does one write vows in a vacuum?Whereas Eric was starting with: I have to write vows, but what are vows for?What do I want out of this reading?I wanna trigger the best possible emotion from Juliette, from those listening, and how do I do that?

And I think in marketing, we talk a lot about tools and workflow and tips for publishing something faster, more efficiently, getting to the end basically to ship it out the door better, faster, quicker, whatever, more. And we should totally talk about that stuff, but also we have to consider why are we doing this in the first place? It’s not actually to publish something. That is not the reason we do this. It is to get some kind of intellectual or emotional response from people to have them click, spend time with us, share it, act in some kinda way that benefits our business. And I think too many of us think about just simply delivering the thing into the world, and then we stop. We seek things like ideal word counts for blog posts, shortcuts and ideas that we can put on repeat over and over again, and we kind of corporatize and optimize, because we’re just so damn busy trying to reach people that we sorta forget that this is actually about resonance.

Dan Levy: Well another aphorism of yours, and I feel like you’re a content marketing Buddha or something, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Jay Acunzo: I’m an English major, and if I don’t speak in a certain number of isms per week, I don’t get an ROI on my English degree. I think that’s really it.

Dan Levy: Okay, yeah. That make sense. So you say that when you stumble upon something that works, you shouldn’t do more of it. You should do more with it. Can you untangle that one for us?

Jay Acunzo: I feel like when something works, when your audience tells you, even if it’s a small qualitative response that you get, when your audience tells you that they like something, you should lean into that harder. Don’t drop it and say, “Good job us,” and then go run away and go do something else. And this happens across the board in marketing, whether you do an ebook and you assume, okay, that one ebook worked. Let’s do more ebooks, rather than try to get mileage out of the one ebook. Or, you’re just spread across too many channels. And when one starts to work, it’s a relief, because now you can focus on the ones that are not working, when I think you should pursue these moments of success, and then just drive into it as hard as you can.

So one example is I published a slideshare on the NextView Venture’s account that did a roundup of podcasts, because I wanted to promote our own podcast that we were launching.  And it didn’t do that well. So I immediately dropped it. I didn’t try to put it on other channels. I didn’t try to do a blog post out of it. Then I published a board deck template on slideshare, something you would download and use practically as an entrepreneur, and it killed it. It did a lot of really good things for our audience. But initially it was just lots of people saying lots of nice things. And I thought, okay, what else can I do with this thing? Should I take excerpts out of it for the blog? Should I re-promote it through different social channels? Should I talk to the partners here at NextView about — they sit in board meetings every week. What would they rethink if they were starting from scratch about how board meetings with start-ups are run?

What else can I do with the stuff inside the container that our audience is clearly telling us they love? And so that’s kinda what I mean. When something works, don’t do more like it. Don’t do another slideshare. Do more with it. Do more with the thing that’s working — the topic, the stuff, the material. And by the way, this is how you get really efficient with your publishing, because if you see any of the great thought leaders in our industry, and you see some thoughts that they publish across channels, right? Because they identify something that resonates with their audience, and then they repackage it, and repurpose it, and put it in different places in a way that’s native to each channel. But they get mileage out of what works.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I could totally relate to that, and I think one of the reasons, at least, that so many of us are guilty of spending so much time on the content creation and not enough on the promotion and the leveraging of that content is that we — time’s a limited resource. Any suggestions and — I don’t wanna go into quick and easy tip territory here — but what can we do to finally prioritize that component of content marketing? Is it about scaling back on the other stuff, scaling back on the content creation?

Jay Acunzo: So I appreciate that you’re saying that you don’t wanna get into kind of tips and tricks and hacks territory. Because I think if — I mean, to be completely blunt — if anyone tells you, “Oh, don’t worry. This content marketing stuff can be simple,” they’re lying to you. It’s hard. It’s super rewarding. It can be really fun. But it’s really difficult.

When you’re selling a software product or a service as an agency, in the content marketing space you can’t say this, but if I were selling to a marketer today and I was being completely honest, I’d say, “Look. Over here you have content marketing. It’s gonna take you more effort. It’s gonna take you more time. And it’s gonna take a very specific type of person and skillset to do it well. However, it’s gonna get you really good results. It’s gonna play into how modern marketing in the modern world works. And it can do lots and lots of good for your business in a scalable way that gets you lots of ROI.” And then I’d say, “Over on the other end, you have things like buying an email list, or even less spammy, just paying for audience and renting that audience like banner ads and PPC and things like that. That’s more efficient. It’s gonna be dollars in, dollars out. That’s how it’s gonna work. You can’t really get return for free down the road like you can from a blog post, but it’s gonna be a lot more of a timesaver to do it that way.”

And that’s really how to think of it. So the more we do shortcuts for content marketing, the worse our results get. I’d rather, if someone is really pressed for time, think about other ways to do marketing, because the people that are gonna win, especially as our industry gets more mature, are the ones that actually honor the craft of what we’re doing. They have to produce content that matters. All this shortcut stuff makes my BS detector go crazy.

All that said, I don’t wanna leave everybody high and dry. The best thing I can say is to find a weekly process and cadence, and stick to it like it’s gospel. I love this quote from John Cleese from Monty Python fame, who says that creativity’s not a talent, it’s a way of operating.

The other thing, too, is I feel like there’s a need for clear direction. That helps your process, right? If you’re — this is a leadership thing — if you have guardrails and goalposts and you know why you exist and you know how you’re being measured, that really does help you do a lot of a lot.

That’s kind of how I’ve approached this world of content. And you shouldn’t look for the shortcut, I guess is what I’m trying to say. I feel like we have to start saying this. Stop looking for shortcuts.

Dan Levy: No, no, I hear you. And to go back to what you were saying about that you have two options, to nurture a content marketing strategy or to look to paid marketing and PPC and things like that. I have to say where we’re at right now is a bit of a privileged position in that we’ve put the time and we started off with a content strategy because it wasn’t easy, but it was relatively cheap to get started on, and to start nurturing that market with. And now we have these internal experts — PPC experts, CROs, SEOs, to help us layer in that testing, that experimentation to optimize what we’re doing. So that mix between the craft and then the performance side of things, and the optimization side of things is, once you get your team to that level, then the opportunities there are huge.

Jay Acunzo: Totally, and I think you understand this moment of like — because you love to write — where you wanna improve something. It doesn’t sit right with you when you’re reading it. And you’re like, “I gotta go home,” or “I gotta ship it soon.” But you wanna spend that extra hour agonizing over it. And it’s really for yourself that you’re doing it, to feel pride in your work as a writer. I feel like that mentality would fit well across any marketing function, where you just have to have this insane pride in what you do. And when I hear people talk about finding an ideal word count, I just think of people putting their brains on auto pilot. I think our industry’s too saturated. There’s too much content out there for any of that to even be effective. So it’s also a bad use of your time. It’s a bad use of your company’s time to think that way. And that’s what causes all the shortcut culture out there that causes me to write a one-sentence post and have this existential crisis. But that’s a problem for another podcast.

Dan Levy: Yeah. And not to minimize the craft — content marketing is a craft, and I think it’s very clear that you and I are really passionate about that, but so is conversion rate optimization, right? So is PPC done right. So I think it’s about hiring people and surrounding yourself with people that are as passionate and methodical about the way they do that stuff as you are with content, rather than trying to, again, look for a quick and easy tips and hacks to layer on top of what you’re doing.

Jay Acunzo: Right. And let’s take craft out of the world of frolicking in the field creativity, and put it into a business setting too. I think people that are craft-driven, they think a lot about the process. And so, part of thinking about the process is finding pockets of being efficient. Part of it is thinking about things you can outright steal that inspire you from other industries outside the echo chamber. Part of it is understanding pockets of time you’re not using well.

So people that are craft-driven are not like the artists that are painting one thing every year, or the marketer that gives a great keynote but can’t go execute. I think it’s about figuring out: I need an end result, but rather than just trying to skip all the way to the end result, let me figure out this process. I’m gonna write a blog, and I need to figure out a way to do more blog posts without skimping on quality. So if I can dive into the paragraphs, how do you write a great intro, how do you write a great hook, how do you do different things for SEO quickly and easily? If you study the process itself, the end result goes us and the process gets easier over time.

I call this creating ugly. You wanna do little things to poke down an avenue and put something quality out in the world. But it’s not a pretty process. You’re not searching for the best practice. You’re just launching, learning, operating a little bit like a start-up internally. I’m gonna learn, I’m gonna grow, I’m gonna improve. Oh, we were running right? Let’s run left a little bit more. And eventually you find this repeatable path for quality. You wanna find the easiest repeatable path to quality.

Dan Levy: So where content marketing, I think, differs from traditional publishing is that it does, ultimately, exist to serve measurable business objectives. I think we could both agree with that. But in your latest blog post, you argue that it’s time for companies to lend more credibility to things like creativity and craft and editorial excellence in content marketing. Obviously you’re preaching to the choir here, but how do you make the case for why that’s not just a vanity thing, why that’s not just a squishy thing, but actually crucial to the success of content as marketing?

Jay Acunzo: So in terms of quality, when I started doing content marketing, it wasn’t called content marketing. I was Director of Content at a start-up, and we never tacked on the word marketing to it, but it was clearly that. I heard all kinds of stuff flying around me in the industry, doing my research as to how to do my job, and I heard things like, “What is the ideal word count of a blog post?” I heard chatter around buying tools to make your publishing easier, questions around curation and hacks and shortcuts and SEO tricks versus original content. And I was just new to it, having left Google and left sales, and I thought well, I don’t know about all that, but I’m just gonna try to write really well and do right by my audience, and hopefully doing that will help me avoid needing to panic about all that other noise. And I think it’s served me decently well so far. Part of me wonders what kind of business or leader is actively avoiding things like quality? Like who really wants to be living that life or working for that company?

Dan Levy: Well that’s it.

Jay Acunzo: And I know it’s much more nuanced than that, by the way. But the fact that we have this debate of quality versus quantity is really disheartening, because they aren’t actually opposites, right? A journalist has to do both. So I think it’s all about taking a long-term view. If you’re better at the craft, if you’re better at the process, if you’re better at creating, if you’re better at getting more stuff or more effective stuff out the door, and more importantly, more memorable stuff, things that people actually like it sticks in their brain and causes an action. That will by definition get you better results. And I said long-term view. It’s not even long-term view. It’s just order of operations. Create the content, distribute it, measure the results, etc. So I think we just need to give more credence to the creation part as part of our overall process today.

But for a sea change to happen, I look at the individual content marketer. So it’s so interesting to see businesses take the mentalities of scale and programmatic, and apply those to content marketing, because this is a profoundly human endeavor. Imagine if the staff of Grantland, RIP, was now suddenly working at a content marketing organization or a marketing team. They would crush everyone else out there because of the people, because they’re such great writers, because they think about the craft and they’re able to do things with ease that we think are totally unthinkable, like quality and quantity together.

Dan Levy: But would they ever wanna be part of a content marketing team?

Jay Acunzo: That’s the problem, is like brands lack this historical credibility, this historical care for editorial that lends itself to that credibility needed to attract a team like at Grantland. But I do know that thousands are kind of like me, and you’ve kind of heard my tilt in the interview here. I want a meaningful career creating quality work, and I know there are thousands and thousands more like me in the industry, and I think they’ll flock to organizations that allow for that. In this style of marketing, the talent matters. It’s very human. It’s not programmatic.

You can do some things on the periphery to make it efficient and programmatic, and you can disagree with me, and you can chest-beat, and you can growth hack all you want. But all I know is I know tons and tons of marketers that showed up to this industry because they wanna create things that people really like and react to, and they wanna focus on resonance, not just empty reach. And for me, if marketing switched to becoming purely ad buys again, which I don’t think it ever will, but if it did, I would go work in another industry.  I’m here to write cool stuff. That’s what I like.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I think you get at it right there. It’s actually not a luxury, it’s an existential issue for companies, for agencies that if they wanna attract the best, whether it’s the best content marketers or the best conversation rate optimizers, of the best strategists, then they need to put that emphasis in their culture on quality, or else nobody’s gonna wanna work there.

Jay Acunzo: Absolutely. And I think there’s this dialogue that we’ve been having for a while that we’re all in this arms race for attention. I think it’s actually the byproduct of what we’re actually in the arms race for, which is the best talent. I think we’re now all in the business of trying to act like a publisher not in a figurative sense, but in a literal sense. How do we create an environment that cultivates and also attracts truly prolific individuals? People that, again, who we all assume in marketing is unthinkable. They’re multimedia creators. They black out and have all these great ideas while we’re all agonizing and slogging through this idea of quality versus quantity. They don’t need the tools that we need to be efficient, to be quality, to understand an audience, and do something that resonates with them. Those people do exist and we either need to attract them from outside of our industry or groom them from within.

But I think either way you look at it, it’s all about people. And if I look back, personally, and say I had a fulfilling career someday, I think it’s gonna be because I’m trying to be loud about that right now. I’m trying to support people and celebrate people who get results not by taking shortcuts and churning out more crap into the world, by bolting on technology to a human process. I’m trying to help and defend and support and learn from people that get real business results by being brilliant at delivering what audiences actually love, the people that agonize over their craft, the people that are creative. And if you spend that extra moment down that mental rabbit hole on a piece before publishing it, you’re so caught up with making it great when no one around you knows why the hell you’re doing that and not just shipping it, man, you’re gonna be the most important part of our industry the next few years. If you have that mentality, if you’re that type of person, we need you so bad.

Dan Levy: Amen, brother.

Jay Acunzo: Awesome.

Dan Levy: This is awesome, thank you. It’s so good to talk shop with you about this stuff, so thanks so much for taking the time to chat.

Jay Acunzo: Yeah. My pleasure.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


Read this article: 

The No-Shortcut Approach to Building a Credible Content Marketing Strategy [PODCAST]

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Does Your Lead Nurturing Strategy Stink of Spam? [PODCAST]

Psst! We’re taking a lil’ break for the holiday season but will be back to our regular podcasting schedule on January 6th.

We all know what spam looks like when it lands in our inbox, yet we’re quick to approve email marketing campaigns that are strikingly similar…

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Are you serving prospects spam? Image source.

That’s the realization that Steven Moody, founder of Beachhead Marketing, had one day — and what he cautions against in our latest episode of the Call to Action podcast. In the episode, Steven chats with Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy about how to woo the people on your email list (so they don’t mark your emails as spam).

You’ll learn:

  • The secret ingredients of a successful email course that will continue to capture the attention of subscribers.
  • How to give your biggest content fans that extra nudge they need to go from handing over their email to handing over their wallet.
  • A creative trick that one software company used to re-engage a segment of its inactive email subscribers.

Listen to the podcast

Download via iTunes.
Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan Levy: You open your post with a story that I think we can all relate to: starting your morning by deleting and unsubscribing from a bunch of spammy emails. But then you said you had a revelation later in the day while approving your own email campaign; what happened?

Steven Moody: Yeah, so I work with a lot companies that use marketing automation, and kind of this growth of this great thing that isn’t quite spam because it’s officially allowed, but it’s just kind of not something anyone likes. So I found myself going to my mail in the morning and kind of grimacing, as I think a lot of marketers do when they see all of their emails, and all these outbound emails that say, “Hey, you know, why haven’t you responded to me?” and these kind of tactics. And then I was doing a campaign for a client and we’re getting set to do the same thing, I was like – I just stopped – I was like, why, why am I doing this? I know it’s not what I would want as a user. Why are we creating marketing that we wouldn’t actually want to receive ourselves? And just thought, you know there has to be a better way.

Dan Levy: Right. Well your post is about lead nurturing, and I feel like you hear a lot good lead generation these days, but not nearly enough about what happens after you generate that lead. Why do you think that is?

Steven Moody: Yeah, it’s kind of like dating. Everyone talks about how to get to a date, and no one really talks about how to maintain relationships once you have them – there’s not a lot of conversation there. All the tactics are around how to trick someone to do something. And I think it’s the same with marketing – it’s all this information on A/B testing and these things you can do to get more people to sign up. And there’s this excitement when you get a new lead, especially when you have a tool that sends you an email that says, “There’s a new lead.” And it just feels great – it’s this dopamine rush. But nurturing is actually where the magic happens. It’s when someone’s already downloaded something and you have the chance to create that relationship; you can actually show that you’re a business they want to work with and show your colors, and unfortunately most companies show their colors by just trying to go for a close. But properly nurturing is talking to people that just aren’t ready to buy yet, but they might buy in a year, and just having the foresight to say well, this might be a prospect a year from now, but we should still be talking to them.

Dan Levy: That’s such a good point. There’s so many dating sites and dating apps – sorry, I’m stuck on your dating metaphor here – but no relationship maintenance sites. I wonder what that would even look like.

Steven Moody: Yeah it’s like the opposite actual of Ashley Madison, right, like why –

Dan Levy: Yes.

Steven Moody: – is Ashley Madison even exist? There should be – as an aside actually, a few years ago I was at a hackathon and we built a tool that it was like a Tamagotchi for your relationship, and if your girlfriend commented on your Facebook on your post you’d have like a minute to reply back, or like the emoticon for her would go down to an unhappy face.

Dan Levy: Okay.

Steven Moody: And it was kind of as a spoof of like what’s going on, and everyone thought it was creepy, but it also – it was really about a thing that we need to actually measure the relationships we have. And I think also with all social networking we’re kind of in this mindset of grabbing as many friends and connections as we can. I think I have a thousand connections on LinkedIn now, and how many of those people do I actually, would I actually trust to come over for dinner? I don’t know.

Dan Levy: Right.

Steven Moody: There should be a balance there. It has to be kind of a shift back to that – of thinking about the people in your network as opposed to trying to just keep expanding your network.

Dan Levy: Well, the post breaks down four lead-nurturing recipes that marketers can use to nudge prospects without spamming them along the way. The first is creating a targeted newsletter for blog subscribers. How are blog subscribers different from other leads who fork over their email?

Steven Moody: Yeah, it’s a real interesting question. I think – there’s been a shift in a lot of companies in the past couple of years. I don’t see as much in technology companies – they’re not quite aware of this, but there’s this idea of someone subscribes to your blog or they subscribe to your newsletter versus they download a white paper or an ebook versus they subscribe to your newsletter and the ebook is a bonus. And that’s a really interesting shift, just in intention, you know, when someone knows what they’re going to get from you and they get it. That’s very different from someone signing up for one thing and getting something else. And I think a lot of people will sign up for a blog – they kind of just want to get something. It’s kind of like exiting through the gift shop and making sure they don’t lose touch. But it’s not really clear what they’re going to get when they download an ebook, or a white paper they know they’re going to get that and then they kind of brace for impact knowing they’re going to probably get something else and they don’t really know what you’re going to get.

Dan Levy: Right. They know that’s a transaction. It’s like we’re going to give you this piece of content for free, but in exchange you’re going to give us your email address and you can expect further marketing down the line, whereas with a blog you’re actually giving the email to get something very specific in return, which is blog posts.

Steven Moody: Yeah, the blog subscriber is your best in a way. They might be less qualified as a buyer, but they’re the person that actually appreciates your content so much they want to get it more, and so they’re sending such a strong signal, and it’s not transactional, right. It’s much more like they’re asking for more as opposed to the other one, which is kind of their trading their email address, which is worth something, and in exchange for something they think they might want, which is probably just an overblown sales brochure.

Dan Levy: So how do you put those blog subscribers on the path to conversion without pulling the whole bait and switch on them?

Steven Moody: So most marketers, they have a product and they know they have to sell so they kind of are focused on getting that done. We’ve been lucky in the past few months not having a specific product that we have to sell. We started just go back to our list of subscribers and asking them where their problems are and what they want to solve, and it actually had great success just reaching out to people and identifying and recognizing that they subscribe for something, like a lead nurturing course or they subscribe to the blog, and acknowledging that in the email and just getting on a call and hearing what their problems are. And that’s hard to do if you have a product because you just want to qualify them as fast as you can, so I’m not sure there’s a thing there to do except your subscribers are potential referrals – they don’t have to buy from you to know someone who will buy from you, and so just shifting the thinking from every person is potential customer to every person is a potential evangelist first can really change how you message your subscribers.

Dan Levy: Right. It sounds like what you’re talking about here is patience, and also trust in different pieces of your marketing doing what they’re intended to do. So, your blog plays a very specific role in the funnel, you could certainly nurture them through the content that you’re creating, but don’t try to jump the gun and like hack your blog email list for a quick conversion because that’s not what it’s there to do, and I think you’re going to lose a lot of trust that way.

Steven Moody: Yeah, and your subscribers can sense that, right. People are always kind of on the lookout for that in their mind and they unsubscribe – the biggest reason I think people unsubscribe is it’s just not relevant to them. So relevancy is just so important, and it’s so easy to get off that track. But if someone subscribes, and you can see what they subscribe to, just send them more information. I think the essence of marketing and content marketing is gifting someone the knowledge that they need, and in doing so you become the person that they trust to give them that knowledge, and then whatever problem that they have they’re eventually going to start thinking of you as the source for that knowledge.

Dan Levy: Can you share maybe an example of a blog newsletter that you receive that you think stands out from the pack and does that well?

Steven Moody: Yeah, so I was mentioning the blog post newsletter I was really inspired by was a16z; it’s Andreessen Horowitz the VC firm in Silicon Valley. They put together this newsletter every week that is just incredible information on what’s going on, the future of technology and the internet and funding and it’s not – I’m not even completely in the audience, I’m not trying to get funding, I’m not, you know, necessarily a technologist, but what’s interesting about it is they’re giving it away for free, and they’re not even doing that much work. If you look carefully, what they’re doing, they’ll often have someone on their podcasts that’s – what I think they’re doing is they’re researching a bunch of information about that person’s topic, and they’re finding the best articles about that topic and putting them in the newsletter around that podcast. So they’re creating basically a read more section around their main content. So it’s, it’s not even a lot of work, but it’s this incredible, it ends up being this incredible newsletters. Just because they’ve taken that small extra step and said here are the best authority top pages on this topic if you really want to dive in. And they just know  their audience very well. I think they’re a targeting kind of product-focused founders and entrepreneurs and so it’s very, very dense. They don’t waste time with too many words. They don’t add images even though everyone will tell you that you images in your newsletters. It’s lightly formatted, but it still has some color, so you realize it’s not a text they’ve put some work into it. It’s just really well done, and we’ve taken a lot of our ideas for our newsletter from that and have had a lot of a lot of positive feedback.

Dan Levy: Cool, check that out. Moving away from blog subscribers, here at Unbounce we run a lot of webinars almost weekly, and also have a bunch of ebooks that we give a way through our blog and your email list for free in exchange for someone’s email address, like we talked about that, that transaction there. Can you talk about what sets these subscribers apart?

Steven Moody: Yeah, so the big difference to me of someone who registers for a webinar or does anything like that, downloads an ebook, it’s just the education level. You can talk to them about where they are at that level of what they’re trying to and how much they know. So someone downloads an ebook on how to get started with A/B testing – now you know that they have an intention to get started with A/B testing, and they have some idea of what that means if they read the ebook, or if they attend the webinar and you think they might know something from the webinar, in reality it might not be a very high amount of retention from that knowledge. So there’s a limit to what you can assume there, but overall I think the big thing is you know what you can say next, and you can kind of move them along the buyers journey by figuring out what’s the next thing that they would want to have in that process.

Dan Levy: Yeah, you suggest ecourses as a good way to follow up with people who download an ebook or who register for an webinar. Where do ecourses succeed where maybe regular sales type of emails don’t?

Steven Moody: Yeah, I could talk for hours about this. What do you guys use at Unbounce for lead nurturing, do you have any products in place?

Dan Levy: It’s funny we are currently running a – we call it a slam. There’s four people in a room right now and they will be for two weeks to completely overhaul our lead nurturing process here.

Steven Moody: Wow.

Dan Levy: So – yeah. I think like a lot of marketers realized that we’re putting too much emphasis on lead generation and not enough thought perhaps, or that it’s time to refresh our lead-nurturing strategy, so we just switched over to HubSpot, so that’s going to be our tool, and right now we’re figuring the strategy as we speak – pretty exciting.

Steven Moody: Yeah, that’s fantastic. It’s great to hear because also I think a lot of companies when they have a product they get focused on that right, so Unbounce, you guys are so good at acquisition it’s easy to ignore lead nurturing. We use HubSpot as well and it’s great for email courses and setting up nurturing, it’s not the best but it’s a very effective. What – lead nurturing is difficult because people have different ideas of it. I talked to one person and they think that means just send an update from your blog. Another person might look at and say, it’s trying to get someone into a track of specific content. So there’s always different ideas about lead nurturing, but an email course is this plutonic ideal of lead nurturing. I hate the phrase growth hacking, but it really is a growth hack in the definition of Patrick Vlaskovits, one of the early guys to coin that term.

Dan Levy: Okay.

Steven Moody: He defined a growth hack as content or offer that’s perfect for the channel, so Instagram using Facebook was a great growth hack because people kind of were automatically using Facebook for images and so they could quickly get into the feed.

Dan Levy: That’s such a good definition, and I feel like 99 percent of growth hackers probably completely ignore that, right, they don’t go for the tactic that’s perfect for the channel. They maybe go for like the easiest tactic or the lowest hanging fruit, but keeping the channel in mind is so key.

Steven Moody: Yeah, and so when you ask someone to download an ebook, the channel they’re on is your website or your blog. They’re consuming content online in Chrome, or Firefox, or Internet Explorer, Safari, and they might be on their phone, they might be on the computer, and then you say, hey, I want you to talk to us by email. I want you to give me permission to send this thing to your email. We both know we could just give you a link to this, but we want you to pay with your email address. And so you’re making them switch channels. And people will do it, but they may not even use their email for a channel, they kind of know that you’re doing it to get their email address so you can talk to them and those there’s this weird feeling there like it’s like someone buying you a drink at a bar, you don’t really know why and you just hope it’s worth it.

Dan Levy: You don’t –

Steven Moody: With the –

Dan Levy: – you don’t even know what drink it’s going to be.

Steven Moody: Yeah, exactly. But an email course is amazing because first the only way to get an email course is by email, so of course you need their email address, and so you know in the back of your mind you’re not wondering why you’re signing up with your email address, you do it automatically. And we’ve found that people will actually – so we don’t get fake email addresses for a course, you know it’s like less than one percent of our signups because people actually want the content. We don’t get temporary email addresses that expire after an hour because they know it’s going to be a seven-day course.

Dan Levy: So to be clear you’re not talking about having people subscribe to or download an ebook or register for a webinar and then be put on an ecourse, you’re talking about people actually subscribing to an ecourse and knowing that they’re going to get that.

Steven Moody: Yeah, so what we discovered – it was a surprise to us because lead nurturing is not usually thought of as top of the funnel – but an email course actually makes it top of the funnel because it’s something someone signs up for from the beginning. They kind of want to get educated on a topic, or category, or how to think about what they’re doing, and so they immediately go to a course. So it’s a way to use lead nurturing very early on where most companies don’t have that. They kind of get someone in the process, they don’t know where they are and then they try to kind of guess by sending them different offers and see what resonates, but they really don’t know what they’re doing. The other big thing especially using a tool like HubSpot and Marketo is with the email course you actually know how much they read, so when someone downloads an ebook and white paper you have no idea if they actually read it, and we tested cold calling people after they downloaded a white paper and they would have no idea what we’re talking about. It turns out a lot of people will go online and download 20 white papers from different sites and then put them in a folder and then forget about it. So you get a very small impression from a white paper. It’s not as much as most marketers want to think it is, and maybe that’s why they’re usually not very good, because we all know no one’s reading them. But with an email course you get a chance to talk to someone every day, or every other day for a while and have an actual name behind it, because we’re used to reading these emails this way. And when you call someone after seven days of emails to them they actually recognize your name. They actually know who you are, and you know who’s going to know who you are because you can score them based on who’s actually opened all the emails.

Dan Levy: Right.

Steven Moody: For us we only get about 10 percent of people who finish the course. We’ve seen other companies we work with, they get about 30 percent to open every single email. But what’s amazing to me is that before an email course you couldn’t even get that information on that ebook or white paper, you have no idea. And I guess you can use some tools to kind of put it in a hosted online PDF so you can track what they read, but no one wants to use that. People want to use the formats they’re used to, which is download a PDF or read something in an email. So it’s a natural way to get this visibility into what’s happening and actually know what to do next.

Dan Levy: That’s awesome. Okay, so I’m a content guy. I get that first and foremost these email courses have to have amazing, relevant content in order for people to sign up for it, in order for people to keep receiving those emails and not unsubscribe after the first or second one, but the success of those courses, it’s ultimately measured by how many people end up converting further down the line, if not right at the end of the course. So how do you go about working in that sales pitch, or that call to action in a way that seems natural?

Steven Moody: So I see it very differently. We’ve kind of approached demand general marketing from a naïve perspective because I built my own team for the products we had. What we realized is most marketers think in terms of campaigns and they think about how do we get this person to buy. To me the measure of an email course is how many people actually would pay for it, so – especially because an email course it feels like you’re learning something. It’s appealing to the person, not the business because it is going to this one person. It’s actually harder to share within a company, so it’s really for, it’s really a consumer product in a way. And we started actually asking target customers, would you actually pay for this course? And that’s our criteria for, is it effective. So we see a course as a way for every company to have a freemium version of their product. So for Unbounce, for example, you should be teaching people in an email course you know, how to get started with doing your own landing pages, how to do A/B testing yourself, how to work with the developer you already have for your website. There’s a lot of ideas around what you’re doing where people might just – they might need to try it themselves before they appreciate how valuable it is to work with Unbounce.

Dan Levy: Right.

Steven Moody: So if people are going to do it themselves anyways you might as well share the information you have on how to do it and then let them try and hit their head against the wall, and then they’ll naturally come back to you because, okay, yeah, that was not the great way to do it. Other cases the email course can really be something like a buyer’s guide in a way where it’s here’s the five things to think about in this space. It’s more of a larger sale in the middle of the funnel. So it definitely depends on your audience and what you’re doing, but in principle, in general, we see an email course as a product on its own. We will go to customers of our clients when we build these courses and actually make sure the customers want this course. And we found that if the customers actually sign up for it then that means the prospects will probably want it too and it will end up working.

Dan Levy: Don’t you think though that if your ecourse is solving a particular problem, like let’s say in our case not being able to easily build customized landing pages, or not knowing how to optimize them and A/B test them, and the content addresses that problem and then part of the solution is your product or service you’re not almost obliged to let them know that towards the end of the course, that, hey, we actually have the solution for you.

Steven Moody: Yeah, I think you should. It can even be in every single email, just at the bottom. You know, most people read the PS so you can just put something in the signature: hey, by the way, here’s what we offer, want to make sure you’re aware of it. And if someone’s looking for it they’ll be happy to see it, and they’ll actually be more comfortable with you because they know why you’re doing the email course, and there’s an understanding of what’s involved. I don’t think it has to be a big call to action. So we worked with a client and set up outbound emails to really try to push people to a free trial, and everyone loved the email we wrote, it was really heavy hitting direct response, and got sent out to 10,000 people and got one sign up. Then we looked at an event that was coming up and we created an information page around an event that they knew that their audience was going to go to, but it was a curated page around their audience, around their specific problem set, and we had more sign ups to a free trial even though there was no offer, or call to action actually in the email, and we had people were replying and saying thank you for this email, it was useful to me. And I think that’s a criteria – we’ve lost the standard in marketing of what it means to actually have a good email, but the criteria should be that people actually respond to your email and say thank you.

Dan Levy: Totally, yeah.

Steven Moody: If they’re not doing that then you’re wasting your time.

Dan Levy: Yeah, that makes, that makes a lot of sense. Actually just last week on the podcast we talked about you need to measure your marketing by the numbers, but you have to remember that behind those numbers is a person, a human being engaging with you, and so I think, you can’t lose sight of either of those things. Yeah, you’re ultimately looking for results, but that’s not going to happen unless you’re reaching people speaking to them and that kind of qualitative feedback, that very human feedback is super important along the way.

Steven Moody: Yeah, my favorite example for this is Ramit Sethi from the iwillteachyoutoberich.com. Have you seen any of his other stuff?

Dan Levy: I don’t think so.

Steven Moody: He’s probably one of the best copywriters in the world, and he doesn’t write for anyone else so it’s easy to miss, but he writes incredibly engaging emails. He’ll launch an information course, a paid course, and a thousand dollars for many of them, but he’ll go through a two-week campaign where he’s warming people up and he’s sending them very useful information, a lot of free information around the same topic. And his basic principle is he gives away 95 percent of his knowledge for free, and you’re going to pay a lot of money for that last five percent. I think that works for a lot of spaces and a lot more than most people try because if you want someone to really use that last 5 percent of your product then you should make sure that they get the first 95. And it doesn’t matter whether they pay for the 95 or not, so it depends on if your goal is to get them to use the first five percent or the last five percent.

Dan Levy: That’s really interesting. Well, the last group of leads that you tackle in your post are what you call inactive prospects. Can you talk about what that means and also how Citrix used an American holiday to reengage a segment of its inactive subscribers in one lead-nurturing campaign.

Steven Moody: You know any company’s going to have a lot of people that stop engaging with the content and with their email. A lot of reasons that can happen: someone might actually just not get the email anymore, Gmail’s tabs might move them to a spot where they don’t see them, they might have changed jobs and the company didn’t set it up so the email address would bounce, so if might still just be going to an empty inbox. But some people just might lose interest and get busy. So there’s a few ways to approach that, and kind of just keep emailing them, which I think is what most marketers do because they measure themselves by the size of their lists.

Dan Levy: Right.

Steven Moody: And so they think, well, we can’t rid of these people, but it’s actually really useful to just ask them if they actually want to get the content and clarify who’s in your market. Sales people understand this, right. The biggest part of sales is not actually trying to close, it’s trying to qualify if someone’s in your market, and marketers who think the same way would look at their email list and ask, you know, how can we get visibility into the real size of our list? So I was working at a division of Seagate a few years ago, and we were sending webinar offers all the time. We’d get maybe 100 people to show up to webinar – it’s a fairly large company, a hundred million dollars or so – and then we actually sent an opt-in request to the list and about 80 percent of the people on our list did not opt in. There was a massive loss of a list and it was like, oh, wow, that’s scary, right. You’re like, oh, there goes the job. But then the next offer to a webinar actually had doubled the attendance. So there’s immense value in actually someone identifying themselves as wanting your content just by taking any action, and then they’re going to be consistent in the future once they’ve taken one action in that direction they’re going to start to see themselves as the person who wants your content. Another example from for Ramit Sethi is really interesting, he’s launched in his course in the past week and he had this specific email trying to get people to go to a 40-page Word doc – and very long, very great at copy – and the first line was something like, hey, if you don’t want the course, here’s three other links you might find interesting. They were just very funny things like here’s a YouTube video of a cat doing a somersault. And it’s amazing because what he did was he wanted to know if someone’s not clicking on this course is it because they’re not getting my email, or because they’re not interested.

Dan Levy: Right.

Steven Moody: And so someone clicks on this irresistible link and they don’t click on the course then you know that they’re just not interested in the content. And it’s really hard to get that information, so that’s a great way to just to figure out what’s so irresistible to your audience that they’ll click on that but not on your thing. So it’s almost a way to do – it’s not quite A/B testing, I guess, but something similar where you can just get a perspective on what’s your total clickable audience.

Dan Levy: That’s really smart. I like that. Of course, isn’t it possible that these leads are inactive because they’re just not that into you?

Steven Moody: Exactly. And that’s the best reason to send them something else, figure out what they would be into. That’s why we – most weeks our newsletter is a 100 percent other people’s content. And what I realized by accident making this newsletter, we really started it because we wanted to try a different way. We liked the a16z approach and also I had someone on my team who needed to learn marketing, so it was a way for him to really get in tune with what people are thinking about. What we discovered is if someone clicks on someone else’s link in your email, one, you know what they clicked on and so you know their intention, you know what they’re trying to achieve, and you actually know they clicked and you know you’re engaging them. We had a link to HubSpot’s recent post, ten interview questions from a real CMO and, and we immediately put that in the post, and we know anyone who clicks on that is either hiring or trying to get hired. And so there’s incredible knowledge in just seeing who clicks on what. Our list is small enough I can personally go in every Sunday and kind of see who’s clicking on what and get an idea in my mind of what they’re thinking and build that up. But you can do a lot of thing if you want to see who in your audience is trying to get funding, just put a bunch of links around how to think about funding. And now you can actually segment your audience on that, and you can send them specific information about that. So we get stuck I think as marketers trying to always do our own marketing, our own content, but the curation is more important than actually having it be yourself, having it be your own content. Just knowing that someone is interested in something saves you a ton of time, and that interest is so easy to measure in email but most marketers just don’t take advantage of that.

Dan Levy: And if they’re not interested then at some point it’s okay to just let them go, right?

Steven Moody: Yeah, if they’re not interested – there’s a downside in marketing to letting someone go because you feel like there’s no cost to email them, so why would you want to let them go. There’s a lot of hidden costs though: someone might be marking you as Spam, someone might be on a company list that is used by Barracuda, who’s using all this data to determine what should go into people’s inbox.

Dan Levy: Right.

Steven Moody: So you might actually be unable to get someone else’s inbox because no one opens your list. And then there’s just the fact that you think you have a bigger list than you do. So the easiest thing to do if you’re worried about it is just create two different lists, one of everyone who’s actually opened an email in the last six months and one list of everyone who hasn’t, and send separate emails to them – the same, maybe the same content, but separate ones and measure them differently, and you might find that you think that your open rate is five percent and you feel like you’re not doing a good job, but it might turn out your open rate is 40 percent among a certain tribe, and your list wasn’t very good. So just understanding over time how that group of people that are interested in you – are they still interested, are they maintaining interest or are they losing interest – is much more valuable than just kind of these general open rates.

Dan Levy: Yeah, I guess what all this boils down to and what the discipline of lead nurturing boils down to is stop just being obsessed with growing the size of your list and start thinking a little bit more about the quality of your list and who are the people that you’re actually sending emails to.

Steven Moody: Yeah, there’s real people behind most of these email addresses, hopefully. And they actually want something from you, and they have a chance to buy what you have but they’re probably a little scared about buyer that. So just treating them like people and thinking about what they would want, and understanding how to have a human connection with them and while being scalable – it’s not easy but it’s doable – and not thinking of it just as a giant list you have and trying to measure it by the numbers, because there are people on the other side and if you lose sight of that then it’s easy to do tactics that you wouldn’t do to your parents.

Dan Levy: Cool. I think that’s a great note to end on. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Steven.

Steven Moody: Yeah, thank you.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


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Does Your Lead Nurturing Strategy Stink of Spam? [PODCAST]

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Behind Every Click, There’s a Person [PODCAST]

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Image via thestoacks.im.

Every marketer (and their mom) knows the importance of running campaigns that are data-driven.

But if you’ve got your head down optimizing for conversions, you can become blinded by that data — and forget that behind every click, there’s a person.

Creating better marketing experiences for the person behind the click was a recurring theme at MozCon 2015 — and it’s what Chelsea Scholz, Campaign Strategist at Unbounce, discusses passionately in this week’s episode of the Call to Action podcast.

You will learn:

  • The three key ingredients that make up a solid brand strategy.
  • Why content written for everyone really winds up being for no one.
  • Unbounce’s recent outside-the-box marketing campaign idea which has been effective at providing value to people and collecting leads.

Listen to the podcast

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy, interviews Chelsea Scholz, Jr. Campaign Strategist at Unbounce.

Dan Levy: All right. You wrote in your post that if you’re feeling frustrated by the results that you’re seeing from your campaigns, it might actually be because you’re focusing too much on the medium that you’re using to reach people and not the people themselves. What do you mean by that?

Chelsea Scholz: So we get really focused on doing things like writing emails to see click-throughs or optimizing a landing page so that Google recognizes it. And that really ends up making us forget the who that we’re actually sending these marketing initiatives to. We’re sending emails to our customers and we’re creating customers for our leads. Those are people back there. And they’re ultimately what drives our bottom line; not the metric. So I find it to be kind of like one of those things that seems so obvious. It’s not obvious. We focus on the analytics when there’s a person back there who’s making that happen for us. And the more we understand that person, I think we’d see a better lift. And we do, in fact, see a better lift in our conversions than our click-throughs, what have you, because we’re focusing on the person.

Dan: Right. And you take us through different strategies that you could use to make sure you’re creating more person-centered marketing experiences. The first one was kind of surprising, though. It was developing a solid brand strategy. And I feel like the word “brand” is a bit controversial, maybe; like some use it way too loosely and vaguely while others tend to dismiss it as, like, fluff and not a tactical word. So I was wondering, what does the term “brand strategy” mean to you?

Chelsea: Brand strategy to me means that you’ve developed a solid core reasoning behind why your business does what it does. And you’ve clearly developed the story around that. It’s a bit like building a snowman. Your business is the snow but you present it to the world in a way that’s delightful, recognizable and interactive by creating snowballs. And then you decorate the snowman with a hat and buttons so that it’s uniquely your own. And this is something that I’ve heard from a lot of different people, that you should envision your brand as a person. In my case, it’s a snowman but same dif, you know?

Dan: How about the carrot nose? What does that represent?

Chelsea: The conversion carrot, Dan.

Dan: Oh, of course.

Chelsea: Ho, ho, ho. There are layers, right, like to your brand and it has to be organized in such a way that everyone can buy into it and believe in it, both internally and externally. Otherwise, you just end up with a pile of snow in your front yard that looks like anybody else’s yard, you know?

Dan: Yeah, so at MozCon, Dana DiTomaso said that the idea of a strong brand strategy needs to go beyond what most people think about it, which is like logos and colors and just dressing, and that it involves three key ingredients. Can you take us through what those were?

Chelsea: Sure. So for the record, Dana is one of my favorite marketers on the planet. She is incredible and I loved hearing her talk –

Dan: She’s great.

Chelsea: – at both MozCon and our own CTA conference this year. So her three key ingredients to a strong brand strategy are keeping it as simple as possible, which again seems so obvious. It’s not obvious. It’s not rocket science. Just lay it out there in really clear, simple language. So the second is keeping it consistent across all channels, both online and offline. So for example, if you host an annual conference each year, and that looks and feels nothing like an email you’d send on an average day, there’s an issue there. And number three is make it a living, breathing document that is a true expression of your company and reflects your company’s core values. So this is something that really resonated with me because it sparked a conversation between believing in brand coaching, not brand policing. So there are companies that have one person who lives and breathes the brand and that’s fantastic. But if everyone at your company doesn’t understand why somebody is doing that, it comes off as a brand dictator of sorts. What you want is to be able to explain and embrace the brand among a lot of the people at your company – if not everybody – by coaching them through why you do what you do, as well as things like what colors you should use and what logos go where.

Dan: Yeah, so I mean I guess you said a living, breathing document meaning that it needs to be something transparent and accessible to all people in the company, that they could kind of refer back to and use as a bible, right?

Chelsea: Yeah, definitely.

Dan: Cool. Well, one thing I know you took away from Wil Reynolds is that when you understand the people behind the click, you’re coming up with a solution that can easily be disrupted. Can you unpack that one?

Chelsea: I think what Wil was talking about here is that you get to a point where you know your audience so well that you can picture a face and a name that you’re talking to. That’s personas, right? But when you do that, you’re crafting a message so targeted and so convincing because you’re talking to the person like a human; it seems really, really simple. You can convey a message properly because you know them intimately. And when you do that, the person feels connected to you, to your brand and to your product in return. This makes your service or whatever you’re offering indestructible.

Dan: Right, because I guess the market could change and tools could change, but people fundamentally will always be the same.

Chelsea: Right. Companies pivot all the time, and it’s especially true of startups. So if you establish a brand that’s so strong and you talk to people like you know them, they’re gonna come with you.

Dan: Well, you mentioned personas, so let’s talk a little bit about personalization and segmentation, which seem to be major buzz words this year. Kristina Halvorson, I think, said that if content is for everybody, then it really is for nobody. And you know that resonates with me as a content strategist; that applies to campaign strategy, as well. And Cara Harshman at Optimizely proposed a three-tiered who, what, how framework for personalization. I was wondering if you could break that down and maybe tell us what that would look like in the context of a campaign that you’ve actually worked on.

Chelsea: Yeah. So again, it’s all about relating back to your user. If you know who you’re talking to, it’s going to be a much better experience for everybody involved — as the marketer on this side of the computer, as the recipient on the virtual other side. So the best example I can think of is something that we recently did — the email marketing for CTA Conference. Our goal was to sell tickets in an online medium to attend an offline event. And it can get tricky. But we broke down a series of emails based on target audiences, messages and intent. Big props, again, to our event marketing manager at the time, Stefanie Grieser as this was a bit of her brainchild. Together, we looked at where people were physically coming from to attend the event and came up with an email campaign called “You Fly, We Buy,” and that email had us target people who weren’t in driving distance of Vancouver. And we sent them an email explaining that we recognized that they’d have to travel a long way to get here and would give them a huge discount on tickets if they paid for their flight over. It worked tremendously well because we understood their dilemma; that flights in combination with tickets was going to be too expensive for them. Similarly, we targeted people who were actually in the area or within driving distance of Vancouver, like Oregon and Washington, and gave them also an incentive to buy a ticket because they were so close to us already.

Dan: Oh, that’s cool. So in that case, you used the fact that they were close so you might as well take care of a ticket for them?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Dan: Then what were some of the results of these campaigns?

Chelsea: Those are one of the two highest-performing emails we had had for the Call to Action Conference. I really attribute it to the fact that we recognized what somebody’s problem might be. Because attending events can be expensive and cause a lot of travel. You’ve got to take time off, you’ve got to go through your boss to get some sort of networking budget to cover going to these things and justify your reason to go. So we put that all into a simplified email. Our language showed our solution to their problem was simple and those emails had an incredible conversion rate to people who actually bought tickets.

Dan: It’s funny. I feel like sometimes just letting people know that you understand their problem is half the battle.

Chelsea: Amen.

Dan: Right? Then they’re just more likely to say – especially when it’s an event — “Well, actually these people really understand and they understand where I’m coming from as a marketer so I’ll probably get a lot of value out of this event.” So it actually dovetails pretty well with the content that you were providing.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean think about it like you were standing on a street corner and you had two different people trying to sell you tickets to the same event. One guy is just repeating the name of his conference over and over and over again at you. And you’re kind of like: oh, that’s weird and robotic. And then you get another guy who is like: hey, Dan, I really want you to come to this conference but I know you live far away. So how about we work out a plan where you buy your ticket to fly here and we’ll help you out on the ticket cost for the actual event? And then we can both hang out.

Dan: Totally, yeah. And you know, that guy’s like: I’m a marketer, you’re a marketer; I understand your problems.

Chelsea: Exactly.

Dan: And I guess that’s one of the benefits of being marketers marketing to marketers is you kind of get that.

Chelsea: Yep.

Dan: So your post is a great distillation of the speakers at MozCon. But you went to Seattle to launch one of your own campaigns, as well, which was live note taking. Can you tell us where you got the idea for that and what it looked like?

Chelsea: Yeah, totally. So earlier this year, around February or March, we were talking about sponsorships for conferences and what we could do that was different that made us stood out as a company but still provided a lot of value for the audience we were hitting (instead of doing something just like a trade show booth). And what we found valuable from one of our last conferences was when you take notes, it’s a really easy way to distribute and pass along information that’s valuable to a lot of people who are there and not there. So what I came up with was a way to turn a landing page into a live blogging tool where we embedded a Google Doc and had a couple of writers live note take the entire conference. And then in return, we would advertise during that conference — on things like social and via word of mouth from networking — that you could download a PDF of these notes at the end of the conference and that there were a couple of writers from Unbounce who were just taking care of this for you. And it was a wonderful campaign because it was a way to highlight different way of using landing pages, how our tool worked, and offering a valuable marketing piece for those who were attending because you always want to take notes back to your boss, or to your other colleagues… or just plain remember what you had listened to while you were there. And what I turned our live note taking into was an incentive for brand awareness, as well as a way for us to capture new subscribers for our blog list.

Dan: And what were some of the results? I know that you did this I think at a couple other conferences as well, right?

Chelsea: Yes. I did this at Hero Conf in Portland –

Dan: Yep, I was there. I was a note taker there.

Chelsea: You were? Traction Conf in Vancouver, which you were also a note taker for.

Dan: Yeah, I was the note taker at that one. That was exhausting.

Chelsea: And then we did it at MozCon and I actually switched roles a little bit and was a writer there, along with our other Unbouncer Cody. That was a different experience for me. I totally understand some of the pain you go through, now. Of course we do it for our own conf, as well. But I think MozCon was definitely the most successful of all of those this year because of the size and the kind of audience that Moz already brings in. they have over 1200 attendees, I believe, and they have a similar audience of marketers to what Unbounce has. And we have a great relationship with them as a partner. So it was all around a great fit and we were a sponsor of that conference. My main goal for the note taking part for that campaign was brand awareness, of course, followed closely by blog signups. And I set a goal for myself of 1400 unique, non-customer users to my landing page which would essentially help hit almost every marketer that was attending and some outside that maybe couldn’t make it. And 250 new subscribers for our blog as a result of people wanting the PDF.

Dan: So that was your goal.

Chelsea: That was my goal. And what I actually ended up with was 2,063 unique non-customers to my page and 372 new blog subscribers in just one month after the campaign had run.

Dan: Wow, that’s awesome.

Chelsea: Yeah. And I’ve also found that these note taking landing pages have withstood the test of time, as people always want to read about conferences even if it’s well after they’re over. So today – I checked back this morning – and we have over 800 unique new blog subscribers as a result of that note taking initiative from Moz alone. They can live forever. They act as a great way for people to come up and search for you if you’re doing your SEO right. And a couple other of my posts had been picked up by other publications so it kind of spread that message again and it’s just been a great way and a great campaign for brand awareness and blog.

Dan: Yeah. Yeah, we’ve used it – talking about conversion carrots, we’ve used that in some of our blog posts and also in some of our blog posts that have been syndicated in other places like Search Engine Journal. It’s a great way to continue to get that content out there and continue to generate leads from it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Dan: So the year is drawing to a close, believe it or not. And I think now is a time when us marketers get a little bit more reflective. So I was wondering, what would you say were your biggest lessons of this year in terms of what goes into running a successful marketing campaign?

Chelsea: Yeah. For me personally, I think the biggest lesson was that we need to market for the man and not the medium or the metric. And it was a really big wakeup call for me because as marketers, we get really focused on performance reports and hitting KPIs. And you forget that there are people back there that are interacting with your product and paying you for your product. If you can relate to them a little more by interacting with them as a friend and as just a general person, it really helps conversion rates. It’s easy to forget this because we’re shielded by our screens. You wouldn’t talk to your sister or your best friend like she was a stranger, so why would you do that to somebody you want to join your mission?

Dan: So have you taken that lesson and applied that to the way you approach campaigns that you’ve run at Unbounce?

Chelsea: Well, specifically for email I find myself asking, like, if I were to read this cold to my personal Gmail, do I relate to this person? Do I understand, like am I seeing a face, are we using people that are real? Do I feel like this person actually wrote this email and it’s not just coming from somebody as a sign off? Like I really try and work with our copywriters to get to the core of the thing.

Dan: I was just going to say it’s funny because you talk about writing emails as if you’re just a human writing an email to a friend of yours. But at the same time, you mention like multiple reviews. So I imagine that with like multiple people reviewing an email and weighing in, it must be difficult to maintain that singular human voice.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean this is the challenge marketers face, right? Like if you’re a one stop shop, it could be easier to pull that off. But at the same time, it’s really good to work in collaboration with some really smart people, but you have more cooks in the kitchen. So I’m finding a really good balance between having one copywriter right now and one or two reviewers because we all understand the brand, we all understand the message of the campaign and it’s actually not that bad when trying to solidify a single voice. It comes with challenges, of course, and sometimes you’ll never agree. But again, like I mentioned, the pure thought of just going through that process with the goal in mind of talking like a person and reading like a person helps immensely.

Dan: Right. And I think what you said about actually putting yourself in the position of the person receiving the email, like imagining you getting that email in your own inbox probably helps a lot because you’re not just thinking about your voice and the voice that you’re putting out there, but you’re thinking about the person receiving that message and what they’re hearing. So you are getting back to that singular person in that case.

Chelsea: Yeah, definitely. And we at Unbounce have a really good culture of like talking about other people’s emails and how great they are, and how personalized they feel. Or like, that image was great. And so I think the conversation is always open, which is really nice; we’re not stuck by any means. And we’re even starting to do experimentation with things like plain text emails. So it even just looks like somebody just wrote you a straight up Gmail email.

Dan: Right, something that our copywriter is putting together based on our brand voice and our brand guidelines is like an email specific kind of editorial bible that everybody could refer to.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.

Dan: Any other big lessons from this year that you want to share?

Chelsea: Yeah, I think aside from like doing things like being more personal and getting a really strong brand strategy, I think it’s really hitting home lately that we take more risks and we move more quickly where we can. The internet really waits for no man, right? So digital marketing needs to do the same and the more we can kind of make those quick wins, the better it will be. And it gets harder the bigger we get. But keeping that in mind is allowing us to do exactly that and I think 2016 will be filled with areas for us to take more risk and disrupt ourselves a little bit more.

Dan: I wanted to ask you about that. What are your New Year’s marketing resolutions? What do you hope to do better in 2016 than you did this year?

Chelsea: Besides hitting the gym more often?

Dan: That counts.

Chelsea: I’d like to keep developing our brand in email strategies and keeping them fresh. It’s something I’m very active and passionate about and I can’t wait to keep getting really personal with all of it and working with our team to do that same sort of brand coaching where we all get it, we all understand and we’re getting right there to the point with our emails where it’s one-on-one, it feels like, with our audience.

Dan: Yeah, and that’s a really good point about keeping it fresh, as well. Because once you do have your brand set in writing and guidelines there for anybody to go and refer back to, I guess the danger is that you – they’ve become canonized and they’ve become stuck and you don’t want to get yourself in that situation, either, do you?

Chelsea: Yeah, everyone faces that problem with developing and maintaining a strong strategy for brand. It’s something that needs to remain constant but requires work. It’s like a marriage, in that sense. You put time into developing and growing together and it’s really great when you finally have that bible and you get married. But if you don’t work on the relationship between you and your brand, you’re headed for a big, colorful divorce.

Dan: Right. Yeah, it’s good to keep growing but you need to grow in the same direction.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, I really like it. I really like talking about this stuff to you and I think aside from the additional stuff we talked about, with like what are the biggest things I learned this year, I really hit a point in my career, personally this year, where I think my shtick is like human-centered marketing.

Dan: I like that. Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve been thinking about that and the term I’m using is like humanistic marketing.

Chelsea: Yes!

Dan: I’ve actually been thinking about writing a blog post about that.

Chelsea: Yes, yes, yes. Sometimes it’s really, really hard for me because I’ve worked with people for so long who are so numbers focused. And I get it. I get that it’s important and we’ve got to reach certain targets. But it kills me a lot of the time to think about the person and how they’re feeling, but what is the number?

Dan: I think that’s one of the things that sets us apart, though. Like really important in, like, definitely in content. Andy Cresodina calls it empathetic marketing or empathetic content marketing. It’s like you start with the person’s problem and how you could solve it.

Chelsea: Yes.

Dan: Well, thank you so much for the marriage advice and the marketing advice, Chelsea.

Chelsea: No problem.

Dan: Great to chat.

Chelsea: It was great. Thank you so much for having me, guys.

Stephanie: That was Chelsea Scholz, Jr. Campaign Strategist at Unbounce.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


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Get More from Social by Doing Less [PODCAST]

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So many social networks, so little time. Image via Flickr.

Facebook users react to and interact with content differently than Twitter users, and you won’t see results from your social media campaigns if you’re blanket publishing across all networks. But with all the social media platforms out there, it can be a real pain in the booty to tailor every piece of content to each specific network.

But as we learned in the latest episode of the Call to Action podcast, there’s plenty that can be done to streamline the process; Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS, shared some analytics hacks to help you see better results without having to work harder.

You will learn:

  • Why you should use UTM codes to keep track of the performance of your content on social media.
  • How data can help you determine which social media network is right for each piece of content.
  • How Ryan got a marketing post to go viral on Reddit (hint: he started by collecting tons of data).

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS.

Stephanie Saretsky: With all of the different social media platforms out there, it can seem like a pain in the booty to tailor every piece of content to each specific network. But if you’re mass posting links and not seeing great results, then you probably subconsciously know the answer to your problem.

So, how do you figure out where’s the best place to share that awesome post on 9 Marketing Tips From Your Office Dog?

It’s all in your data, my friend. Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy spoke with Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS, about the analytic hacks you can use to beef up your social presence and maximize your time.

Dan: You opened your post by saying that social media is quickly becoming one of the most time-consuming marketing channels, what do you mean by that?

Ryan: You know, I’m very big on native content and native publishing. So what I mean by that is when I publish something to my Instagram, I don’t push it to Facebook because it’s not technically native, right? I mean, the content that shows up on Instagram is significantly different than the content that shows up on Facebook. So the strategy that I’ve developed and what I’ve really seen working really well is creating content specifically for each network, specifically on Facebook. I mean, Facebook right now is on a crusade to keep traffic within Facebook. I mean, you look at what’s happening with pages over the last couple of years. You know, the “organic reach” has gone down. Some people view that as a bad thing and kind of jump ship from Facebook. But if you just play by their rules and just try and keep traffic within Facebook — though you have to ask yourself the question, “What matters, is it traffic to your site or is it people consuming your content?” So taking a different approach and actually creating content that lives within Facebook, especially like native video, native long form posts, images — I mean, this type of content just crushes it on Facebook. But it’s a different type of metric, it’s not traffic to your site. It’s content consumed, it’s views, it’s likes, it’s shares… so in that sense, as a business owner, I don’t have time to do that and it’s become a very, very time consuming process, but a very important process nonetheless.

Dan: That’s really interesting. I guess that speaks to the whole conversation about owned media versus earned media.

Ryan: Yeah. You know, it’s crazy because us as marketers, you know, one little thing changes, we get used to doing something. We finally figure out how to rig the site — that we finally figured out how to get that click the rate up — and next thing you know everything has changed, right? And it’s frustrating as a marketer, but as opposed to taking the time to take to a blog and write about it and complain about it, if you just understand that Facebook doesn’t want you to leave. You know, they don’t want you to man your page, but there’s things that they want you do, and just understanding that… I mean, like I said, video right now — Facebook is making a tremendous push to get YouTube off the planet. Facebook wants to be the video hosting platform because video is the fastest growing content on the planet. So instead of posting a YouTube link and obsessing over YouTube views and obsessing over ranking those YouTube videos, just post it to Facebook. If you upload it natively to Facebook you can get like 10, 20, 30 times the reach of a YouTube link. So again — and this is kind of stealing stuff from what I’ve heard BuzzFeed talk about over the couple of years — when they look at their metrics, they look at combined page views. They look at combined views, so they’re looking at Snapchat’s use. They’re looking at Facebook embed views. They’re looking at YouTube views. They’re not looking at traffic pages per se as part of the metric, but they understand that, you know, our attention spans are fleeting and they’re fleeting quickly. And our attention is where we want it to be: it’s on Twitter, it’s on Instagram, it’s on a blog post. So understand that you’re not gonna reach everybody with blog post and one piece of content. You have to repurpose it across channels and take advantage of what those platforms offer. And it’s a lot of work, but you look at somebody like BuzzFeed who has taken over the world with what they’re doing — it’s really the way of the future, especially for content marketing and social, really.

Dan: Yeah. So your blog post is all about how you can streamline that process. But before you can streamline, you need to make sure that you’re tracking things correctly, right? And you talk about using UTM codes.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dan: I don’t want to get too technical here, but can you explain why these codes are so important? And I’m curious to know how many marketers you think are actually using them correctly?

Ryan: That’s a great question. So a UTM code is just – you know, if you’re not familiar with analytics this is gonna kind of sound like Greek – it’s a URL parameter. And what it does is it literally just injects text into the end of a URL stream, so it tells Google Analytics where that traffic is coming from. Because if you post 100 links to Facebook, they’re all gonna show up in your analytics as Facebook unless you look at a pages report of where you sent that content. But still, it’s not effective. Because if you’re posting three links to the same page from Facebook, you’re not going to be able to tell which one of them at what time is driving traffic. What a UTM code does is it breaks down each link that you post into a separate line in your Google Analytics. So you can actually see every single link that you post across Twitter. Wherever you’re posting a link, it tracks it, including internal links on blog posts and stuff like that. So when you’re looking at stuff like, “When should I be posting? What should I be posting? Where should I be posting?” That’s how you really start digging into those answers because you can really nail down exactly which post is driving what. And in terms of how many marketers are using them, I don’t know. If you have any sort of paid search background or paid advertising background, you use them because they kind of auto append from Google Analytics. But I think if you’re in the social space, very few people use them unless you’re working for a big agency. I run a small agency, but I’ve worked with big agencies before, so I understand the difference, and big agencies understand analytics, and their team understands analytics. I would probably say more than 75 percent don’t use them for sure.

Dan: Yeah, so that’s a huge opportunity.

Ryan: A huge opportunity, yeah.

Dan: We’ve talked about on the podcast before how in many ways the world of social media marketing and content marketing are converging with the world of paid marketing and marketers who are able to bring that paid marketing experience and that data-driven outlook to the table are at a huge advantage.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I’m an organic SEO, “expert by trade.” That’s how I got into this digital industry, that’s where my interests mostly lie. But just because of how dynamic organic search is in the touch points with content, the touch points with social — even understanding how offline advertising plays into organic search — branded search, and increasing the rankings through that, driving demand and stuff like that. I mean, I’ve really learned kind of the full gambit of marketing as a whole, offline and online. But what’s happening right now is really interesting because ads just don’t work anymore. Like, banner ads just don’t work like they used to for a number of reasons. I mean — banner blindness — they’re annoying, they’re obtrusive. You know, we’re at a point where value matters. That’s really why content matters, because it’s about adding value. And when you throw a paid spend in, so like what we’re doing is we’re creating really, really advanced targeting using Facebook. Facebook has just an insane amount of data. I mean, you know where people have shopped. If you think about all the websites that you log into with your Facebook account, Facebook has that data. It’s really valuable data, but like a paid search doesn’t have that type of data. So if you can take a way to combine those two, you know, taking that information from Facebook and retargeting across search — and even across banner if that’s what you want to do — it’s powerful. So what we do is we create like very specific types of content. Very good blog posts. It may be like a gated piece of content, and we take advantage of the paid promotions. I mean, it’s really cheap to promote a post on Facebook, drive a ton of traffic to a landing page and really target a specific audience of people using that Facebook data, get them to a landing page, cookie them, and then retarget across search and social. So we’re building custom audiences using content, if that makes sense, and it’s like ridiculously powerful right now.

Dan: Yeah, we actually just had one guy from an agency in Chicago who is running Facebook ads for New Balance. And they found that once they were able to optimize their ads for Facebook website conversions or landing page conversions, that they were able to get way better ROI out of that than, you know, I guess what you were talking about earlier, which is just keep people in the Facebook ecosystem. So I guess there’s a time where you want to keep people in Facebook and focus on clicks and views. And then when you’re looking at conversions in particular, you want to start looking at pinning them to a landing page, which is actually what I wanted to ask you about next. You know, social media is typically seen, I think, as more of a top-of-the-funnel channel, so are conversions really the right metric to track on social?

Ryan: I think it depends. I mean, in short, yes. I mean, number one, it depends how you’re tracking conversions, right? I mean, if you’re doing last touch attribution, first touch attribution… basically what that means is if, you know, somebody discovered your website through Facebook first and then ended up converting through organic search, or if they came through paid search first and ended up seeing a Facebook post that you didn’t convert to Facebook. So that’s the difference between first touch and last touch, so it depends how you’re tracking it. But just understanding that you can no longer ignore anything if you really want to. You know, you can have success online, or you can have success as a business by just being really good at paid or really good at organic. But if you really want to crush it — like really dominate on the web these days — you can’t ignore anything. Because it’s understanding the customer journey, it’s not just like, “Oh, let me type in, ‘Buy a pair of shoes’ right now and then buy them,” right? That’s just not the way it works anymore, right? I mean, we have so much information available to us. there’s so many different touch points and discovery points of really getting to know a brand and getting to know a product that you can’t just be like – you know, I hear it all the time from clients: “My customer isn’t on Snapchat.” Or like, “I’m not gonna waste my time on Instagram because it doesn’t drive sales.” But you can’t look at it like that. You have to take them all seriously. And I understand if you don’t have the resources to pay somebody full time to post to Snapchat. I get that and I’m not going to force that on you, but I am gonna tell you ahead of time that you can’t ignore it, especially because it’s by far the fastest growing medium on the planet, and whether or not your audience is there right now, you better believe in a couple years that they will be. That’s just the flow of social, right? You know, it’s tough to say. Does social drive an ROI? I’m gonna say yes because for me I source a lot of clients off of Twitter, off of Facebook, Google+, so I’ll say it drives an ROI for me. But again, I also know that they’re not just seeing a Facebook post and calling me up and paying me money to do stuff. That’s just not the way it works.

Dan: And I guess the bottom line is that maybe Snapchat is a top-of-the-funnel channel for people right now. Maybe at some point it will be more at the bottom-of-the-funnel channel. But when it comes down to it, social has a place at all parts of the marketing funnel. You just have to figure out which network makes sense at which stage, I suppose.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dan: So where’s the best place to start when you’re trying to identify whether your social efforts are driving conversions? Should you look at your posts overall and how they’re converting, or really figure out which network is most lucrative for your business?

Ryan: Again, what we’re talking about all lies in your data, right? I mean, I would get active on everything. Tag everything with UTM codes. Even if you don’t have a presence, do what you can and just look at your data. Understand where the value is coming from by looking at black and white data. Is it driving conversions? Is it driving traffic? And again, going back to understanding that while conversions do pay your bills and keep the lights on, they shouldn’t be the only goal. There should be sub-goals, or even separate goals. I mean, branding is kind of a buzzword. It’s’ thrown around, but I think it’s really making a resurgence because of social. I mean, you can create like a mini-BuzzFeed. That just like kind of sprung up over the last couple of years. That’s just a powerhouse right now, and it’s because of social. I mean, they do 80 percent of their traffic from social media. So again, it does lie in your data and understanding just how to dig that out — which obviously I talked about in the post — is incredibly valuable. And it really saves you a lot of time too, so you don’t have to ask these questions. You can just look at a report and you know if it does or not.

Dan: Yeah, and your post goes through lots of really useful reports, which are more interesting to look at and talk about. But I wonder if you could give us an example of how you’ve maybe taken the data that you’ve collected from one of these reports and then used it to optimize your social strategy accordingly?

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, one of the biggest things that I do is optimizing time of day that I post. As an agency owner, that started for me as a consultant and it’s growing really fast. I’m unfortunately still at the point where everything runs through me. I’m building my team, but I’m doing it at a pace that I can keep up with. So my time is absolutely by far, by none, the most valuable asset to my agency right now, because if everything has to run through me, then it’s all dependent on my time. So understanding how to get the most out of social media with the least amount of my time, and even being able to pass that on to a junior person is incredibly valuable. So I really, really, really dig into, you know, not so much conversions, but I look at more front-end data, like engagement on Twitter specifically. You know, what time is my following most active? When are my posts getting the most reach? So that way what I can do is I can just automate it with like a Buffer, or a Hootsuite — whatever suite you wanted to use — and really get the most out of my following. But also understanding that you have to consistently test because if you’re growing your social media following like you should be — you’re getting new followers and they have a different schedule than your existing following when you’ve done analysis. So it’s important to really be mindful of your data and keep a constant eye on it, but it’s really not that difficult. You know, once you understand exactly what to look for, you can get in and out of there in less than three minutes for them, and you’re just setting up one report and looking at it.

Dan: I mean, I guess platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it easier to figure that stuff out, but not all channels have that sort of built in analytics function. I read about an interesting case in your post, where you were able to drive — I think it was like more than 1,600 views or something — from Reddit by just optimizing the timing of when you posted on that channel. Can you tell that story?

Ryan: Yeah, Reddit’s tough. You know, it’s funny, if you look at the amount of times that I’ve failed miserably on Reddit versus that, you probably wouldn’t even look twice at it. But yeah, I mean, I understood the power of Reddit as a platform, in terms of how many people were in it and the traffic that it can drive. It’s all desktop too, which is rare these days. So you’re getting desktop traffic, but also just because I had never had success on it before because it’s a very, very difficult platform in its terms of the users, they’re overly honest at times.

Dan: It’s not a place where people appreciate being marketed to all the time.

Ryan: Exactly. That’s well said. But I understood the value of what it could have in terms of link generation, traffic, exposure, all that stuff. And if you get something to go viral on Reddit, I mean, you’re talking traffic in the millions. But, you know, I looked for a lot of resources on how to growth hack it, but what I found was that there really is no growth hacking Reddit. It’s just one of those things where, number one, you have to abide by the rules of Reddit, like post in the right subreddit, post with the right titles, post the right content. As boring and lame as that advice sounds, if you don’t do that you’re never going to have success. But the other big thing was looking at when people were most active. So really, all I did was I just start to research the subreddits that I wanted to post in. and then, in the subreddit, it tells you how many people are online at that time. And all I did — really lame, but I took data for like a week or two. I checked three times a day every day for like seven or ten days: how many people were online in those subreddits that I was targeting? And then I just charted it out and it was easy to see when the most people were online. And I just kind of got lucky by hitting the right subreddit at the right time with the right content. And 1,600 — actually in the grand scheme of things, it’s the best data that I have on it, but in the grand scheme of Reddit, it’s not that much, but it was very targeted traffic. It was coming from marketing business type subreddit, so the traffic actually had some value to me.

Dan: It’s funny, I guess sometimes the most effective tactics aren’t like the sexy growth hacks, but just the, like you said, the lame boring keep a spreadsheet for a week manually and then you might actually have some pretty good results out of that kind of like old fashion police work.

Ryan: Yeah. And I think people really underestimate the value of – you know, I think growth hacker is kind of buzzword for just a really good marketer, really. But the best growth hackers are the ones that really pay attention to data. I mean, they might not talk about it as much because it’s not really that sexy, but you cannot have success, you cannot have explosive success because if you’re just kind of just pulling things out left and right, you’re never going to be able to growth hack that process, because it is a process. If you want to have success in this world, you’ve got to do things the right way. There are no shortcuts. But understanding how to get there quicker is because you know how to get there, and that comes from understanding what works. And that comes from your data.

Dan: Yeah, so the results might be awesome and explosive, but the process itself is actually usually pretty geeky.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely, not sexy.

Dan: There are sexy geeks, but I guess it’s a different story. So the last tactic for streamlining your social marketing that you share in your posts is to zero in on who else is sharing your content on social? Can you break that one down for us? What’s the opportunity here and where’s the best place to start?

Ryan: Yeah, it’s a big opportunity. And this kind of ties into the non-conversion type stuff. But, you know, I’m very very big on building communities. I don’t think it’s something that as marketers we talk about enough, or even deliver to clients. I mean, everybody does it, you know, like building a Twitter following, building a Facebook following, you know, and email this. We all do it, but it’s not talked about enough. And communities are really built from adding value. And a big way to add value is through communication. You know, especially as you grow and people recognize you for being genuine and people care if you talk back to them if they tweet you. They appreciate if you respond to their tweet. If you reply to a comment on Facebook, comments on your blogs, it makes a big difference. And there are tools out there that can help you do it. You know, Mention – I think Moz might do it now. There’s a lot of tools out there that can do it. And within analytics too, even though it’s not the best admittedly, there are ways to track mentions and it’s incredibly valuable, incredibly valuable. Again, it’s not something that you’re gonna necessarily see a dollar sign ROI from, but to me that’s how brands are built, on a micro level anyways.

Dan: Yep. And I think as we talked about, you need to make time for conversion centered tactics, but also not forget about things like community building and brand building because that stuff in the long term is just as important.

Ryan: It makes a difference.

Dan: All these reports you talk about in your posts and all these tactics sound really great, but they still kind of seem like a lot of work. So I’m wondering where the streamlining, time-saving part comes into all of this?

Ryan: Yeah, it’s a lot of work. I mean, like I said unfortunately I work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, but I’m working on that. You know, there aren’t really many shortcuts. I think if you really want to do things — this I just my opinion obviously — but there are very few shortcuts in this world to getting to where you want to be. But, you know, with that being said, like when you look at that post that I wrote, if you don’t actively access analytics or your data, then it’s daunting. You know, before I really started paying attention to data I had no interest in it. I would look at a post like that and fall asleep. And that’s why it would take so long for me to do anything because I was doing it the wrong way. A lot of people look at analytics like it’s Greek, it’s just they’re not comfortable. That’s the biggest thing I hear is, “I don’t know how to use it,” but if it you just put in some time and understand that the answers to so many of your problems are just a few clicks away. You know, answers to major business questions, you know, like, “Where should I be investing my money? Where should I be investing my time? Do I need to hire more people?” All this stuff, I mean, it really truly lays in your data. It might not be your analytics data, but it’s some form of data that you just – you need to consult. So it’s tough to growth hack that process, but you can shorten the process by just learning the tools and understanding the tools a little bit better, I guess. I mean, it’s creating dashboard. You can just click a dashboard and look at all the reports that you need to within 25 seconds and you’re good, and then just dive in deeper if there’s some issues.

Dan: Yeah, I guess when it comes down to it, if you’re doing things that are informed by data and informed by what’s worked in the past, then that’s going to help you focus on only the things that you know work, and that in itself is more efficient and is going to save you time and energy in the long run from doing the wrong things.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan: So what’s one step social media marketers can take right now to make their campaigns more streamlined and data-driven?

Ryan: Use the network for what they’re intended to be used for. I mean, I’ve started seeing tremendous growth – I mean, I don’t want to say tremendous growth. I don’t have like a million followers or anything, but I have seen a lot of growth. I built a Facebook community; it’s got about 3,000 people in it now. My Facebook fan page, my Twitter page, my Google+, all of this stuff really started growing when I started creating stuff of value. So creating content I think is a humongous part. And again, content doesn’t have to be a blog post. Content could be, if you’re a designer, like create cool stuff in Photoshop, I don’t know, I mean, that’s a form of content. So understanding valuable content and creating large amounts and consistently, that’s number one. And number two is using the networks for what they’re intended for. Like it drives me nuts when — I unfollow people on Twitter all the time because it’s like, “Dude, I don’t want to just get blasted with links to everywhere you’re posting. That’s not why I’m on Twitter. I don’t go through Twitter to go to your blog. That’s not why I’m there. I’m there to get short stackable whatever, and it’s really a communication tool for me.” So understanding what these platforms are used for and what they should be used for and just playing kind of by their rules, instead of being like, “God, I don’t want to use my Facebook page anymore because every time I post a link to it it goes nowhere.” Well, then maybe you should stop posting links to it. Using them what they’re really meant for, and this is like the buzzword of the year, it’s like native content. You know, create stuff for those platforms. It’s a lot of work, but if you really want to have success? I mean, you look at anyone who has success on any sort of platform, like the people who get huge on Snapchat or Instagram or Twitter, I mean, they’re not just on Twitter posting links to their blog. Like, no, they’re out there communicating with people. They’re talking to people. They’re posting interesting stuff. So again, it’s not a shortcut by any means, but if you really want to have success on social, I think, you need to be social and create that native type content for that platform.

Dan: Got to respect the platform.

Ryan: Got to.

Dan: Thanks so much Ryan for taking the time to chat, this is great stuff.

Ryan: Yeah, any time.

Stephanie That was Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


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Get More from Social by Doing Less [PODCAST]