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For this episode of E-coffee with experts Ranmay Rath interviewed Clemens Rychlik, CEO of Bourbon Creative and Barcinno. Clemens delves into the dynamic world of AI-driven SEO and content marketing. Clemens discusses the pivotal role of sustainable SEO strategies, the synergy between AI and marketing professionals, and the necessity of personalization in the ever-evolving fintech landscape. Gain valuable insights into the future of digital marketing from a true industry expert.
Watch the episode now for more insights!
AI is not a replacement for marketers, it’s a virtual assistant for them.
Hey, hi everyone. Welcome to your show E-Coffee with Experts. Today, we have Clemens Rychlik who is the CEO of Bourbon Creative and Barcinno. Welcome Clemens to our show.
Thank you Ranmay. Very happy to be here.
Great. Clemens, before we move forward and pick your brains why don’t you let us know about your journey this far? And what do you guys do at Bourbon Creative and Barcinno and how you guys are different from all the agencies out there?
So yeah, I think this topic to start it off maybe just to give background on Bourbon Creative and Barcinno the company, and then we can maybe go down into my journey as well.
On Bourbon Creative, we like an SEO and content marketing agency where we focus on mainly tech companies. So we work with both startups including Fortune 500 companies. And we just try to help the innovators, reach and connect with their audience. That’s basically what we do.
We have a bread and butter. Barcinno is the number one English-speaking media company focusing on technology, innovation, and startups in Barcelona. That’s the easiest way to explain what we do there we like cheerleaders of the ecosystem, trying to help them, promote them, and put them on the map.
Sure, when it comes to my journey to be quite frank, it was a bit of a wild ride, you can say. So I had some different experiences where I had to adjust what I was discovering about myself. It’s funny because I did start on a business degree, so I don’t know, how it’s in other countries, but in Austria, it’s like the typical thing that you do when you finish school and you’re not quite 100 percent sure.
Where you want to go next, you study economics and business because that’s where you get all with jobs. Yeah. And I do remember that in this job like when I was studying we had marketing courses and I was like, never going to work in marketing. I was a bit cynical.
I was not the marketing kid. It’s just changing fonts and colors, and I didn’t fully understand the impact it has that I do right now by having the experience doing it. So it was quite funny that little did I know back then that this is what I would end up doing. When I finished that, I started to work in the financial industry with different banks because I had a bit of finance background in my degree but the traditional banks, I figured out for myself were a bit too slow, too rigid.
So it didn’t work with the kind of the way or the pace that I work on to have to be where you can make things happen, be a bit more innovative. And then eventually using that learning, I moved to Spain and started work for a consulting company that focused again on tech companies and startups.
That was a great experience. And we did a lot of like around Go to market strategies, helping them and different markets. For me, that was one of the biggest learnings, I probably did more sales than I wanted at that stage, but I learned that I don’t like doing outbound sales, but I do enjoy inbound sales, inbound marketing, and I do enjoy working with second companies and startups.
So it makes sense for me to then pivot. And so it was an inbound marketing and I ended up in the company where I’m at right now, which is doing exactly that, doing marketing for tech companies and it was a perfect fit for me. And I just had a bit of patience, I started first doing some basic freelance internships where I was doing some qualifications and publishing, some basic things that you do as well as to eventually, moving up and being in a position right now as CEO and running their marketing agency.
Great. Yeah, lovely. Quite a journey. I must say, right?
You have been a driving force behind BCN FinTech, right? And which is a leading community for Barcelona’s FinTech ecosystem. So in your view, how has the FinTech landscape evolved over the years? And what are the emerging trends that you foresee that could significantly drive or impact the way FinTech startups approach their marketing strategies in the coming years as well?
Yeah, so that’s very passionate about. I think you asked maybe before there’s a quick. Just for people who may not know, it’s a local community in Barcelona as the name gives away. And I was very fortunate that I was co-founding that with my friend Elliot.
So again, just want to shout out to him. And of course, all the other volunteers who joined us on the journey, because to be honest building a community on yourself is difficult to do. So I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off on myself but yeah, coming back to the topic.
So FinTech, if we look at how the landscape evolved, I would say, I like to put it into two different brackets, but I think the first phase, which I think we’ve come like almost at the end of it, I call like the gold rush, the gold rush phase, like all the hyper ones in tech. I think that’s where we’ve seen competition grow finally in the financial industry.
We’ve had, I, as I said, I worked in the banks before, it’s like a very traditional industry that moves very slow. On purpose, it’s an industry that focuses more on being risk averse, not taking a risk on technology innovation and just being the trustworthy and reliable partner that you need.
And we’ve seen just in the last decade or more that it was more and more competition coming on. We had all the regulations, open banking regulations, easy to be free. Open almost like floodgates for newcomers finally being able to come in and compete. So that’s where we have all this different stuff coming in.
Then we had a 2nd trend with embedded finance where any company even if a non-finance company, you could start for financial services pretty easily by just collaborating with different and better finance providers. Again, more competition for the traditional players. And then finally, we have the big tech companies here.
We have some Zoom pay and Google pay. We have Apple launching other products. Awesome at the playing field. There’s a lot of competition happening. And then apart from that, we also have the blockchain and crypto trends, right? So we have more solutions coming from that stage, which offers alternative solutions to what we already have on the market.
So yeah, I think the obvious stage that had to happen was the second phase, which we are in right now, I think, which I call like a growing up and like the maturity phase where we just realized, that maybe we have too many companies, do we need having more than a hundred new banks and having a new bank for every niche industry out there or does it make more sense to have some sort of consolidation, and obviously with the whole economic situation we have right now we have seen that funding has dried up in the companies. This is happening right now, the business models that don’t work, are starting to disappear. They are either. No, shutting up a shop or being sold. So we see consolidation there. And I think in the end, it’s very painful because of a lot of people in the industry.
So it’s painful when you see some of them don’t work out. But I think in the long term, you also see it as it was like a natural selection, right? So the companies who offer value come hit on the right business model. Other ones are going to be paving the way going forward.
So that’s like for me, the biggest development in the landscape. And then I think that, when we look at the trends and especially how they affect, the syntax and especially the marketing side of it, I would say that two big things are happening. The first one for me is AI and the second one is personalization.
And I think the beautiful things like how now with where AI is, how they start to play together, because. I think AI has been present for a long time, but of course, with like chat GPT it’s now on everybody’s tongue, everybody’s able to use it but it’s just like a great way to enhance marketing activities.
It makes it so much more efficient, right? If you know how to use it. Yeah. And even in the syntax space, it’s been used before. Yeah. It’s not like something new. But I think where it comes in is that now it’s becoming more accessible to more people, right? Maybe if before there were only very, that’s called like a corporate expensive solution that was available to the big companies, for example, I know Adobe has been rolling out amazing marketing products in the past that focus heavily on personalization AI to improve the user experience, but those were like very expensive solutions, we may talk about, I don’t know, maybe a million in terms of licensing fees, so obviously like a syntax service to use those, but now with Chat GPT, bard and all the different tools, these types of companies can use it in marketing as well.
So it levels the playing field a little bit and especially allows personalization because I think, especially in fintech personalization is so important because I’m a good example, like if, for example, to take something from my personal life, if I’m saving money, I don’t know to buy, I don’t know, maybe a car and have a certain amount of cash on my bank account.
I don’t want to be constantly sold like a loan if I have enough savings there. And at the same time, if I have, if I need a loan, I want to get offered a loan and not get offered investment opportunities for an investment fund. If you don’t get the right targeted measures to, do what I need, I feel like the bank or whatever your provider doesn’t care about you.
So I think personalization is just getting more and more important. And with AI now, finally Yeah, more scalable to pull it off. Because how do you do personalization for hundreds of thousands of people or millions of people? I think without AI, it’s almost virtually impossible to do that.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And since you touched upon AI, given the potential of it to automate. Certain aspects of SEO or digital marketing for that matter, how do you envision the role of SEO professionals evolving in the context of startups and what skill sets they should develop effectively, leverage AI as an asset rather than a replacement, which where everyone was scared of in the very the beginning of it.
Yeah, no. And I think, To be frank, it was like a normal reaction. I think every time we have a new technology, it can seem scary, especially when you see all the reports that like published figures which professions are going to get replaced, or can be more replaceable by AI or bots and stuff.
And marketing was like somewhat pretty high on that list, so I think it made a lot of sense that a lot of us like, had some thoughts on that. But I think we also see now that we have more time to use them. And we know. What they can and what they actually can’t do.
We have a good idea of what it means at least for right now. From my perspective, the learning I had is. At least for right now, it doesn’t seem at all like it’s going to replace marketing professionals, especially experts, because the way I would see it is more like, it’s like a virtual assistant that now everybody has available to them if they want to use it.
I think if you don’t want to use it and you’re not using it, you’ll be falling behind the game because other smart people are going to find crazy ways to be like, unlimitedly more productive than you are. So I think in the end for professionals in the space, what I see is like.
It’s really about learning how to command and master those tools, just play around, experiment with them, find ways, as I said, there are some things you’ll find out that work well, where AI is great, and other things where AI, quite frankly, it’s not good at all, so by testing it and just getting experience, you will figure it out.
But in the end, you understand that, especially maybe if you work with like startups and you have a smaller budget, it’s huge potential to make you more productive, to even cut out a lot of the boring stuff. So if some of the tasks that we do get replaced are the boring stuff, it’s great, I think, right?
Who of us wants to spend a lot of time on research if we can do it with a click of a button and then, spend 30 minutes instead of 2 hours on research, or if we need to structure data, if we can do it with AI and we don’t even need to have coding skills or anything, we can just say, hey, Google.
Yeah. Order this table by filling out the top 10 posts and give me all the best companies that I mentioned in the FinTech space or whatever. It’s just like a much more efficient way to do it, and I think that’s where it’s really interesting. Yeah, and then to come back, maybe on the side of the anxiety of it.
I think it’s always good to, maybe look back and see what technologies have been out there, because if we are all very honest, AI power tools have been around for a long time and, Grammarly has not replaced editors. ClearScope has not replaced SEO specialists. In all those instances, it’s like enhancement or assistance that we have. So we learn how to use them and then they will get a value. But it’s not like we want to fully rely on the technology. Even again, picking Grammarly how many of us when we use Grammarly always click accept all you still want to double check one by one.
So you don’t end up having something that sounds very odd or removes come on your style. So I think that’s some of the things I think are important and then maybe on a bigger scale, things, strategy. I think with strategy, I think it’s very dangerous to just fully rely on AI tools.
I know that people are very excited about technology and probably it’s going to get more and more advanced in what it can do, but. I think we always have to remember that these tools are not experts. Even if you tell it, even if Chat GPT acts as your expert, it doesn’t mean that it is an SEO expert, so you can get some great insights for your strategy if you know what you have to ask it.
But I think you always want to have a human who gives the command and also then reviews what comes out of it to then use it in the best way with their own experience to form the strategy because I think the strategy is something that I wouldn’t trust AI to work on, especially because it’s almost it’s virtually like a black, right?
You give it a command, and you get something out of it, but you don’t know what size to look at what positions did it take to give you this output, right? So we have to have to have a huge leap of faith, to only rely on this type of tool to give you the strategy. So I think, again, coming back to things that work and things that work a bit worse or better with AI, I think strategy, I would be really careful to like fully relying on an AI application for that.
It is never really the final product, that gives you a start, but can never be a final product.
You people have been the number one content marketing agency in Spain, which is a remarkable achievement. Now, could you shed more light on your content strategies in terms of how you ensure to delivery of exceptional content that resonates with both audiences and the search algorithms at the same time??
Yeah, of course. First of all, it’s very rewarding to see this type of awards or achievements. I think the best one, probably even more important than awards is when you have customers coming back and working with you whenever they change jobs or have a new opportunity. But to come back to your question that you had I think it’s probably 3 things.
That helps us stand out because there are so many providers on the market and you have agencies, you have freelancers, and all different types of ways you can go. Right now we also have chat GPT right? So that’s number one that you could work with. But I think for us that always stood out, were like three things that, that we think add the most value.
One is like sustainable SEO. So I’ll explain in a bit what I mean by sustainable, The first and second is like, Focusing on results that matter, and then the last one for us is like having tried and tested teams, processes, and methods, right? Touching on each of those now a bit more in-depth.
Sustainable is something that I like to promote more and more because I think I have a huge personal belief in that. Google is really smart and clever. They have so many resources. They just constantly going to get better and better at what they do to deliver on the mission that they have.
And the vision that they have is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and very useful, right? So I think, especially the last part, the usefulness is something that we should always keep in mind because there are innovations out there. Ways at any given time, how, you can hack or maybe cheat Google a little bit, some techniques that you can use to have some short-term gain.
But as we’ve seen, we have a lot of strategies in the past that focus on this type of thing is Google eventually, fills in the cracks. And then not only will you see your traffic drop significantly, like suddenly out of the blue one day, you may even get penalized. So I think that’s what we try to preach is sustainable SEO in terms of really genuinely seeing and understanding the vision that Google has and taking that on board because I think we want to make sure that we deliver results, not just in the short term, but also in the long term, right?
So not that we take a strategy that, yeah, you get Next traffic this month, but then in two months, you’ll have like, how’s the traffic you had at the start? No, that’s not the point of it. So we try to focus on everything that we do. It’s reasonable. So what I mean by that, for example, is things like, we’re caring about the quality of your content, not just slashing out of content on the cheap.
You’re trying to make sure about everything. To add a unique element, add some value to the content that you produce. Because I think, especially now with CHAT GPT, there will be so much out there that frankly, only the ones who have the highest domain authority will get the benefits of producing at scale.
All the other ones will probably have to set up the game and offer something unique. So even something that has a better quality has the unique insight and perspective of an expert on 12 leaders, or maybe even as unique data that nobody has held. So those are the things that I see for sustainable SEO.
I think that’s important for customers to have this approach. And result-oriented for me is, with agency there is a trap sometimes where it’s easy to sell different things. I remember when I started and I had some experience with other agencies as well. I’ve seen they focus on kind of vanity metrics or metrics that like companies don’t pay you for that.
Whoever works with you is not getting paid to optimize those metrics. So the biggest example is, that there are still some companies doing that, which is like focusing on the traffic numbers. I can bet that no CMO cares about traffic numbers. They just care about how many leads they can generate.
And always the overall traffic could be one of the broad metrics that can influence somewhat lead generation. But it’s not the most important one, because if you’re like really selective about your content, the keywords, and the audience that you target, you may be better off by having a lower amount of traffic that’s going to get small leads rather than having like huge amount of traffic that nobody cares. After all, it’s not going to be the audience that going to buy your product.
So for me, that’s a really important aspect as well, making sure you can track the right metrics and you optimize for the right metrics in how you take positions. And even Things that we do, for example, like this help and also like to improve how fast you get results, right?
Because you can live the long game where you publish just like the content around long-term keywords. And then hopefully some people start reading that and maybe they’re going to convert that works somewhat, but it takes time. What we try to do is have a short-term strategy where you can get the metric that you care about currently, which is the regeneration, so maybe you do some more bottom-of-the-funnel content and maybe do some comparison articles or articles focused on alternative solutions. But just trying to impact conversations and searches and queries where customers are ready to buy, or they’re looking at different solutions and want to pay to get something.
And I think that makes a big difference as well. I think just like the mindset, I think is a huge thing. All right.
Relevant traffic is so important, versus just getting the numbers to drive home those conversions, or in fact, to have the phone ringing as the very first step of the conversion process.
Clemens, it was lovely speaking with you. I’m sure our audiences would have benefited a lot in terms of what they heard, and the insights that you shared, and thank you so much for taking out time and doing this with us. Appreciate it, man.
Thank you, Ranmay. I appreciate it. It was fun to speak with you and yeah, anybody who has any questions, just reach out to me.
Happy to talk.
Thank you, Clemens.
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