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In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt hosted Jenna Hasenkampf, Managing Director of MKG Marketing Inc. Jenna elucidated ideas on how to use data to improve marketing decisions and the essential data components influencing decision-making. Watch now for some great insights.
Success requires that you reach out to your customers in more than one way.
Thanks, Matt. I’m excited to be here.
To simply put it, it validates your efforts. So I’ve done traditional out-of-home TV, print, etc. And all of that tends to be measured on the people you might reach. And you do a lot of potential views of people driving by your billboards when you’re doing campaign recaps with your clients. You can do your best to work with locations, channels, and content that fits your personas. But it’s about the size of the reach and a niche audience. So you can spend a lot of money reaching the wrong people or the right people at the wrong time. When you’re using data, it lets you slice and dice your audience to not just who they are but also where they are in that customer journey and customize your messaging and content to meet their needs.
Why would you even advertise digitally and not use data if your analytics aren’t set up and someone’s not doing your job right at your company? There’s so much data available and many ways to track it, including many free tools. Using data to build out your personas and better understand what they need and how to provide that means you have more money to spend on developing your products, building your sales teams, and compensating your team?
Yes, but you can also build that with data doesn’t have to be one or the other.
When we come to clients, we always do an analytics audit. And sometimes, we’re setting up their Google Analytics, to begin with. They already have a functioning site, and Google Analytics isn’t set up. It happens more often than you would think. And then that’s not even considering whether Google Tag Manager or something’s being deployed to track, like what you said, what people are doing on this site. So building a persona or building your funnel is knowing the purpose of your pages and content. So you should have what we call referential pages, which is the top of the funnel where you’re establishing; that I am an important source of this topic. I am Extra here like I should be showing up; people should find what I say valuable and earn their trust that way. So knowing your goals for those pages, you’ll want people to spend time on them. You might want to see people go to more than one page. You would expect a high bounce rate because those people are coming in to learn something; they’re not coming into engagement yet. And you’re not necessarily having a lot of conversion points on this page, and it might be signing up for a newsletter. But setting the right conversion points. So you don’t look at that and think it’s a failure. Because if you’re looking at a referential page, you’re like, well, nobody’s clicking the contact me or downloading the white paper or doing this, things like that. Because the intent to do those actions doesn’t match the intent of the people coming to this page. So I’m going to use intent a lot in this conversation. But I think starting with intent in your buyers or your demand on funnel and mapping out what those intent pieces look like, and then making sure you have content on your website to match all these different stages. And then, what would you consider the actions to be? And then you can use data to prove that or disprove it. So I think product management is very similar to this, where you’re coming up with many hypotheses and then using data to prove them or learn. So what I’ve always said to clients when we’ve deferred on a direction is that we can always change that; we’re going to do what the data tells us. It’s not an ego game for us. It’s not about making a big splash with greed or anything. We want to see that our strategies are working, which we will see because everything’s plugged in and firing, and we’re looking at data on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis and figuring out what’s working and what’s not, and when to pivot.
I think everybody has had that time. In 2020, everybody went in with all of these marketing strategies and all of these plans. And then we had a global pandemic. And all of a sudden, no one was going to conferences, and no one was going into physical stores and selling. So everybody had to pivot where their resources were going, which was a very crazy time because nobody knew how long the pandemic would last or what the long-term impacts would be. What businesses would be viable or not, based on what was happening because it was unprecedented? Nobody had any data to fall back on. I think that everybody’s business who survived should give themselves a pat on the back. Because that was the biggest pivot, hopefully, knock on wood, any of us would ever face with strategy.
We went from everybody slashing budgets because everyone is panicking; nobody knows what’s happening. And in the year’s second half, everybody threw more budgets because we were doing SEO, pay-per-click, and digital analytics. So we were where people could funnel money to build their sales funnel. All the conference money got thrown into PPC and SEO because conferences weren’t real anymore. And most places were not ready to take their conferences fully digital. I think that’s changed where there are a lot more digital or hybrid conferences, which is very cool. But in 2020, it wasn’t happening.
Yeah. It depends because every client has a different amount of data. Some have none. So what we generally do. Again, we’re like focusing this from the SEO and PPC side of it is anything that we can get on their website and start seeing like, what are your valuable pages. Which ones are getting the most traffic, and where actions are coming in. But we always want to pair that with the client’s expertise, leaning in on the product and sales expertise if we can get it. Because the product can tell us what the key differentiators are and what they’re selling. What language are they using to describe that? What are the nuanced bits of information that make their product different? But then the sales is the proof because every successful product solves a problem for somebody, and the sales people have that direct pipeline to hear the questions that our potential buyers or existing buyers are asking. Here are their pain points. Here’s what they’re happy and excited about, you get a lot of really great installs. So if you combine that with data, that’s really where you can start to have a keyword list, you can start to build your content strategy, you can start to research competitors and see how they’re showing up and how they’re talking to these problems. You can even just Google some of the problems and questions that customers bring to the sales team, see what’s showing up, and do research that way. And that I think is the best way we start; sometimes we’ll get to inherit a bunch of existing paid ads or intellectual parts that we can dig into, and things are a little further along. But that’s a great fresh place to start that isn’t requiring too much from the client side that they’re not already doing.
It’s super important because there has been a shift in the last couple of years with the targeting and what you can now do and what we’ve learned about targeting, and the term is psychographic. So targeting used to be all around demographic like where people were, how old they were, if they’re married, was usually considered in that too and what their gender was. And now there’s been so much more detailed targeting done around psychographics, where it’s if you can have two people that are the same age live the same place, and one of them is your target, and one of them isn’t based on just what they need and what their life is like because people are very different. And using the psychographic side of things, you can get into and discover who they are. So I think pairing my data with your personas is important. Like what do they do for a living? How do they live? Where do they lean politically and sometimes talk about like, not your product? What do they tend to spend their time doing? Which gives you targeting information that you wouldn’t have. And some of that can come from your customer team. But also, you can use sites like Reddit or social and see if you don’t have access to Sales Team information because either like launching soon, or they just haven’t been recording it that way. If you learn enough about the product and the problem they’re trying to solve for their consumers, you can search Reddit or any of those other topics and see what people are complaining about, asking, and doing. When I worked on Nike women, we were doing their Facebook page back when Facebook’s algorithm hadn’t made everything like a pay-per-play, when it was actually like real organic growth.
We got feedback from some of our most passionate customers, and it was great because we could see, are you excited about this? Do you like this? Alright, you don’t like that we’re going in this direction. And you could just keep going. And I think that’s an important thing with their personas. You don’t want to overdo it with, like, changing them, but they should never be like in-stone things. They’re going to be constantly developing because your product is going to be innovative, and their needs are going to change. Again, with the pandemic, everybody’s needs accelerated, like what people needed three years ago versus what people expect now; it’s very different. I mean the fact that we have the student call right now. I’ve been using zoom for five years at my agency because we’re remote. But yeah, now it’s like, everyone has used zoom. Like, what a crazy thing to happen to your product!
I’m not in the analytics as to the Manager, but I do work in many of the team’s reporting and analysis side. So my answer is a little like a higher level; I think it’s great to find tools that you’re comfortable with the interface. I think that’s a big one. Everybody loves slack because of the way that it slacks interfaces. We use Zoom chat; it’s fine. It’s got some pluses, but we all miss slack. Because that was the interface. And the reason I say that is because data can be intimidating. So finding a program that makes you feel comfortable there is very helpful when you’re already done jumping into the deep end of learning data if it’s something you’re familiar with. For us, we use SEMrush right now for SEO.
We’ve used different tools. We also use tools based on what’s already installed on clients. But the ones that we like the most for just the accuracy of data, the flexibility with it, and the responsiveness of the team are SEMrush. Using a data aggregator, if you are a larger, more sophisticated client, where you have like Salesforce data or stuff like that, you’re going to need something to be able to bring your data sources in and look at it together. So we use Ninja CAT. And then I know we have clients that use Adobe. So I mean, there are a lot of different options there. So there are so many different data options that it is easy to be overwhelmed. But I think there are a lot of companies out there doing an outstanding job of simplifying things and making them more user-friendly. Like I know, I have a former coworker obsessed with HubSpot and how easily they make things work. But the cool thing that I’m not sure everybody knows, too, is that most of these sites have a free version. So if you’re a smaller company, just figure it out. Or, if you’re one employee trying to wrap your head around this or make a use case to sell it in, you can usually set up a free account. And they also most of them have invested in a lot of free training available on their sites because they want you to know how to use the tool successfully. So, there’s a lot that you can do to figure out what tool is right for you. And you can kind of go at your own pace before talking to a sales rep.
We do a lot of dive dashboards with that. It’s very cool.
It’s not my forte. So I don’t think I’d have anything useful to say, but it’s something that our PPC experts use because a lot of people need more than one touch in digital. And that’s another way that data is if you get sophisticated like one of our clients, Extrahop, that we’ve worked with for seven years now. So we’ve had a lot of time to work together to build out their data; they can track multi-touch so we can see how many touches. So what I mean by touches is how often someone has observed something or engaged with you digitally before becoming an actual sales prospect. And it’s always multiple. If you’re dealing with a B2B product or a higher-end, even consumer product like a car, people aren’t just doing one touch and going in, or very rarely, so it’s great to see what works. Like what content did they engage with? What did they download? Did they see PPC ads as well? So, knowing that bigger picture of what it takes to get them into that final decision. And then it also helps because if your data is only tracking that final step, it gives you a very skewed picture of what in your marketing is working. And I think that’s a lot of mistakes that people make with SEO because it tends to be more on the top of the funnel side of things, seeing it as not a revenue driver when it’s a really important piece to building your demand gen side of things.
That’s the opportunity to learn. If someone falls off, or usually we’re focused on more than one person, but a group of people falls off, understanding where they fell off and why that might have happened.
Yeah, I say general, whether it’s B2B especially. But last year, we were brought in to manage a portion of pages for a SaaS company transitioning from startup to rapid growth. So they are getting a ton of funding then. And then, during this, our brief and client contact change; because of the rapid growth, things are always written in pencil, not a pen, when that’s happening. So first, we were focused on optimizing gun lead quality. So like, are the leads paying off in the sales funnel? Are they trying to go from figuring out what you’re strong quality leaders and then trying to scale it versus the opposite? But then the opposite was requested because they needed the quantity over the quality because of how quickly they were growing; they didn’t have the time to say, alright, let’s nail down our specific lead type, and then scale it up. They’re like, No, we need to get as many people into this pipe as possible, which is valuable. So it can go either way, depending on your client’s needs. They have to turn on the firehose instead of the tap. So when you’re in digital, it’s easy to pivot. And we did, so we started optimizing the number of people converting. And yeah, it can sound like the wrong strategy because it’s quality over quantity. But again, as I said, if it’s a growing company, you might need that on a lead to really, one be driving enough product sales, keep funding the level that you need, but also to get data quickly. You turn on the firehose, and you suddenly are getting 1000s of people going through the funnel or dropping out, and you see their engagement with different ad copy and landing pages. So it’s a ton of data in a short time; it just costs more. But there can be a payoff with that. It helps you build your personas much, much quicker. So we were doing that. We were making tweaks like we learned that there was a certain word, but if we had at the beginning of our ads could increase performance, and we had enough data to conclude that because we were talking to so many people. We dialed up specs and a search and display because the just search can be a little iffy, depending on the keywords, but the display is usually a cheap option to get out in front of many people.
Yeah. So there, it’s easier to scale.
If you’re working with Google display, you’re not buying it through a third-party site if you’re working with Lo-Fi ads, which you can do with the display. And you’re focusing more on making sure, like the copy and the targeting is going, it’s just another vehicle of Google search. It’s a great way to get a ton of exposure for cheap, but it also tends to have fewer quality leads. So again, there’s a trade-off. And then we’re still working on Facebook and LinkedIn because of SAAS, both great options. But with Facebook, we realized we had to expand the audiences to accommodate the fact that many people don’t list their job titles there on Facebook. Because that’s not the purpose of that social network. There’s a ton of psychographic information there. If you know that about your potential client, whereas LinkedIn, as we all know, you can target by the place that they work besides the industry, their title, all that good stuff.
It depends on your goals and your customer profile. But I mean, Google paid ads should be used throughout the funnel because most of the time, you think about it, like when you’re trying to look for a specific product and don’t have the answer in mind. You might be ready to buy; you would still use Google to search it, or are you figuring out what your solutions are for specific problem needs. So you can google searches. So Google’s always a key player in that. I think it just always comes down to budget too. After all, depending on your keywords, even time of year, q4 is always insane how much things cost because everybody’s trying to burn their end of your budget, and you’re dealing with the fact that it is the holidays. We hate starting new clients at the end of q4 with paid because we’re like, your results are going to be super skewed, everything’s going to be super expensive. But you also don’t want to have the lights off. So that’s a little bit rambly. But LinkedIn is interesting because when I started working here five years ago, LinkedIn was a big waste of money. We would experiment with it, usually by client requests, and it was always a waste of money. It was expensive, not a lot of action conversions. And I think it was when it was functioning more in that HR capacity. And now I feel like that has shifted significantly. It’s still super expensive. But the targeting is so much better. And people seem to be interested in actually seeing LinkedIn ads, and one of the ways that we use LinkedIn quite a bit is through events, like if you’re having digital events or webinars or even if you want to like supposed to WebEx getting opt-ins that way. They have great targeting there, and people are there to go to that stuff. Their platform is built to support it. We do LinkedIn streaming events through our agency, where we do roundtables. But that’s a great fit for LinkedIn if you have the budget and general targeting too. If you have a specific job title that you know is your decision-maker, that can be a great place. But Facebook is also.
I joined Facebook when it was one of the six first colleges. So Facebook has been gathering information on me since I was 20. So the number of data people have given for free to Facebook, what they’re interested in, what they like doing, where they go, who they’re connected to, and what pages and businesses they want to engage with? I mean, it’s a ton of information. It’s as scary as people think it is. It’s a great place to reach people if you know more about your target consumer beyond job title. Like if you’ve got a good idea of their lifestyle needs, especially if you’re not b2b. We use it a ton and get a lot of good results. But it’s also easier in the consumer goods side of it, because you know, what they need and what they’re interested in, and it’s not so business tied. But everybody’s going to Facebook, and the demographic gets shifted too. I think about deleting my Facebook weekly, whereas my parents are super active on Facebook. And I think that now like the people you can reach on Facebook, everybody still has their Facebook, but the active people are often a great target for businesses.
That one I can’t speak to. I am not behind the scenes on the Facebook side; it’s always changing.
It can come from so many sources too. It can come from your email list. It can come from your sales list. It can come from downloads on your website. There are so many places you can pull those lists together. I think where we struggle sometimes is depending on the platform; there are thresholds for those lists. So if you are just starting, you may not have a big enough list, but you should be working on building on it.
Well, in SEO, people are like, oh, there is a big algorithm change because they do algorithm updates like daily. They are just not noticed by the general public.
I think I agree. I think if you have a small budget, digital should be exactly where you are focusing on. But I think one of the trade-offs you make with digital is that you are in a very crowded space. Whereas if you have a tv commercial and someone is staying on that channel, all they are getting is your message right then. Yes, there will be commercials afterward. But think about how often you are on the website and getting five different companies stalking you simultaneously. Or search results like all the other results showing up. It’s very noisy, and I think you have the payoffs at the back that you can match and tank much better, but it’s very noisy. Whereas you have great at-home placement, and it makes sense for your brand, the awareness, and it can be very that’s it, and it has to be your city, that’s not true. They are all over the place, and I don’t know why you do that. But if you use traditional in the right placements, you can get a lot of focus that you don’t get in digital.
No, I think it’s interesting. I don’t know the details of it because I just work in show purpose and digital, but I have read that direct mail made a huge resurgence during covid. Because everybody was at home and looked at their mail versus it in the office in a box. I remember walking by one of our agency owners or one of my past agency’s in-boxes, and they have two of them stuffed with stuff. I am getting at that during covid, people liked giving mail even when it was not something they requested, and I don’t know if that’s still stuffed right now. But I didn’t look at the billing that sent those, but like the last few years when they were doing some layoff. I think their company has just exploded, and a few others are in that same space, and it’s sending actual, physical things. People are responding to that again. Who knows how long with hybrid and people returning to the office, but people have more attention to give to that.
Yes. It’s the same idea as multi-touch. It doesn’t have to be traditional but recognizing that you will have to reach your customers in multiple ways to succeed.
Jumping alternating by the largeness of the marketing image. If you feel overwhelmed, there is so much out there and so many sophisticated systems. If you approach it with questions and hypotheses, consider it, and exercise information gathering, you will move in the right direction. There are so many great guides and different tools and best practices out there. As well as digital communities are happy to answer questions or check things out, Marketing nerds are friendly, and we love to talk.
On LinkedIn, I am Jenna Hasenkampf, but many of us are out there.
I am not. I finally deleted my Twitter, and Trump drove me out of there.
Yeah, this was great. Thank you, Matt.
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