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Digital Marketing Advancements and Incorporating AI

An Interview with Jesse Perreault

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Jesse Perreault, CEO and Partner at SOAP Media Inc.
Jesse discussed the impact of advancements in digital marketing, such as data analysis, machine learning, and AI. Jesse also highlights the significance of maintaining a personal touch in client interactions, and balancing automation with a human element.
Watch the episode now for some profound insights!

Focusing on core SEO elements like content, user-friendliness, and backlinks yields better results

Jesse Perreault
CEO and Partner at SOAP Media Inc.

Hi

Hi Everyone. This is Ranmay here on your show, E-Coffee with Experts. Today, we have Jesse Perreault, who is the CEO and Partner at SOAP Media with us. Hi, Jesse. Welcome to our show.

Hey, Ranmay, thanks for having me.

Great. Just before we move forward, I’d like to introduce yourself, talk a bit about your journey and what Soap Media is all about, and then we’ll take it forward from there.

Absolutely. Soap Media has been around for 12-plus years. A lot of our growth as an agency has been primarily probably in the last four or five years. We’re family-owned and operated. I’ve worked with my wife for a very long time in the business. My business partner is my father-in-law. So I am part owner of Soap Media, and we’ve grown it. We primarily help companies in North America, and that’s fixing their foundations, which is typically a website or some form of converting traffic, and then figuring out the right channels for said company to get the business they need. That’s a little bit about me. I have a background in the space, probably for a little over a decade at this point. I started my business when I was a kid. Some failed, some succeeded more than others. Did a lot of different things. I was in the insurance industry for a bit, but it always ended up coming back to marketing, specifically digital marketing.

Great. Yeah, I just see as a CEO and partner at Soap Media, you have extensive experience in leveraging tech to analyze and grow businesses. From that perspective, how do you see these advancements in digital marketing, such as data analysis, machine learning, and now AI coming to the floor, and has transformed the industry? How do you incorporate these innovations into your strategies?

Yeah, it’s a good question. I would say the space as a whole, we’re very fortunate in digital marketing that I don’t have anything wrong with traditional marketing, but we have leverage with clients. At Soap Media, we have a philosophy where we try to have half of our growth every year come from existing clients. Naturally, the only way to do that is for our clients to see us as a worthwhile investment. If our clients are growing, we’re going to grow. Data becomes a big part of that puzzle. At the core of what we do is tracking. Through Google tag manager, we get all the tracking set up to track the form fills and whatever it may be. Once we have that piece of the puzzle, especially with paid advertising, any ad network, you need to communicate whether it’s Meta ads or Google ads, what a conversion looks like. That’s core to what we do. Having that ability allows machine learning to go out and optimize toward those goals. We get a lot of businesses to reach out to us and they’re like, I did Google ads, but it didn’t work. Then I asked them, did you have the tracking set up?

They’re like, I don’t know. I run an HVAC company, I don’t know. Then we take a look and sure enough, they didn’t have tracking. They’re trying to leverage machine learning and smart bidding strategies, but they’re not telling the platform what a conversion looks like. So they’re failing to communicate effectively to the paid advertising platform. So that’s just one means. Also notice with data like GA4 or Google Analytics 4, for instance, it’s not doing the work for us marketers at this point, but just the machine learning behind that to say things like 49.2 % of your last touch point was an organic search or something like that. So I find that’s going to be a transition to get used to is GA4, Google Analytics 4 to be a catalyst for change, whether we identify a problem or a solution with it. We’re getting more and more insights from analytics.

Talking about tools and technology, there has been an increasing reliance over all these years on tech and automation, and marketing. Amongst all of this, how do you strike a balance between utilizing these tools and mentoring a personal touch in your client interactions? How do you ensure that the human element remains central to your approach to building this business?

Yeah, I think that’s a with software, automation, AI, and a lot of buzzwords thrown around. Neil Patel was talking at the I can’t remember what it was the Rio event there. They’re talking about faceless companies and people are getting sick of faceless companies. AI is going to be very effective and it’s growing to have more involvement in what we do, but we’re not reliant solely on that. I think it always comes down to humans working with humans. Yes, companies work with companies, but you always remember how someone makes us feel. And of everything’s numbers and mathematics, typically not going to get that differentiator. So what we do here is we use software, we use artificial intelligence in various forms, but at the end of the day, it comes down to communicating effectively with the clients and also understanding them, their business, their goals, and their pivot. If you don’t do that, I feel like it’s a huge challenge to grow an agency. For example, say, I’ll keep the age fact example, a client has a product with a rebate and they want to push it. We’re not going to know that unless we communicate with them. We’re also not going to know their goals unless we communicate with them.

That’s a really big thing we are customized to each client. We understand the client, and what they’re looking to achieve, and we make it very clear that when you have something in your business like an operational change or you want to push a new product or service, communicate it with us, and together we brainstorm and strategize. That goes a long way we found making them feel like they’re cared for and that we’re listening, not just we’re running your ads, we’re doing your search engine optimization, here are some numbers that you don’t understand. We make sure that it’s digestible and that they understand everything.

Yeah, absolutely. Once you have communicated that message to your target audience is so crucial that your marketers who are going to present your message online need to understand your message in the first place to further communicate it to the market as a whole. Yeah, exactly. Talking about communication, content becomes so important. It is often used as a powerful tool in driving brand awareness and establishing hot leadership. What advice do you have for businesses looking to create compelling and engaging content that resonates with the target audience and also helps Google mark up those signals to rank it higher as well?

I think we have a lot of clients world’s aware of the chat GPT force and such. So I think one of the first things I would say because clients say all the time, why should I invest in the content if I can just give AI to do it? And truthfully, we’ve explored the copy AIs and that use the core foundation. But we found that just relying on AI to generate it, once again, back to the human element and differentiating its lackluster, we’ve explored starting with AI, but then going through a process of our team to then add the specific feel to it and completely changing the content, but the foundation might be ridden by AI. I think that’s one thing I would caution is anyone thinks at this point at least that AI is going to do the trick. It’s not. We know our clients well, we know how they are, and we know certain clients want to be funnier. That’s their personality. So we try to capture that personality as much as possible in the content. And then obviously, readability is a big component of it, making sure that it’s scan based in the sense that people get the snippets they need.

It’s all evident there. And it’s not just going to be content for the sake of having content. We got to make sure it’s valued.

Yeah. It is so relevant to the customer journey, which has become so much more complex with multiple touch points channels involved. In the past conversion, it was not that simple with that buy button which was there earlier in the day. In our sales market, our job has become all the more difficult as well because of the multiple approaches that one can take in their buying journey or in fact, the decision-making journey to buy a product or service. How do you approach or how do you drag these multi-channel marketing and ensure a consistent brand work schedule is put across multiple forums and then across various platforms and devices for that matter?

Yeah, that’s a great question. There are many times in this industry where we put a lot of time and thought into something and we’ve been proven wrong, and it’s the simpler things that work. It’s always split testing. But what we found with clients, let’s say we have a client that sells an ERP software in the US, $100,000, like bigger ticket items that have a larger sales cycle, we find those typically are going to have a much longer customer journey with multiple touch points, whether it’s on LinkedIn, Google, on Facebook, Instagram, whatever it is. There are usually more touchpoints depending on the size of that sale. But the $100,000 is going to typically be more. Needless to say, clients of ours, let’s say a paving client, a paving client might be a couple of touchpoints, Google ads organic, and then some remarketing on meta or something along those lines. But at the end of it all, we start with what we think would be the most impactful, and nine times out of 10 end up pivoting. You might start with the first touch point is meta advertising, and we remark it on Google display and convert more that way, or it’s a hybrid, or we might completely reverse it.

The data usually tells us the answer, and we’re always testing new things. That’s typically how we determine what that multi-channel approach looks like.

Absolutely. You touched upon SEO during our last discussion. SEO is a multi-personality discipline that continues to evolve. With Google being the big Daddy that it is, with all the algorithm updates, What are some of the advanced SEO strategies and techniques that you employ to help your clients achieve higher search engine, rankings, and use organic traffic? Now, we do not expect you to give all the tricks up your sleeve, but if you can put in some ideas there.

Yeah, certainly. I always give the analogy of Google’s algorithm and SEO in general, it’s like a puzzle. The company with a more completed puzzle consistently typically wins Google. What we realized as an agency is with hundreds of a lot of little ones, whether it’s Altex, we have our priority order here at Soap Media. So we know that as long as we address the biggest pieces of the puzzle, we’re going to have a more completed puzzle than others. So we finally focus on some key areas, content being core, making sure that you need the right content if you’re ever going to rank, making sure their sites are user friendly, the load time is phenomenal, making sure all the metadata pieces are there, active backlink generation coming to our client site. What we found is we focus on the core pieces of that puzzle and our clients have the success they have as a result of that versus trying to get too nitty gritty and spending too much time on the little things, which technically helps. But if we can spend that time on a piece that’s more impactful and more weighted, that’s where we find we get our clients the success.

Absolutely. Getting backlinks has become so crucial. It was not an easy task in the day when it was a number game. Even when you were stuffing for that matter, you just put your favorite keywords and you get that. My life has changed. Life has changed, life has come a long way from where we were back. But talking about backlinks, what is your opinion on it? How difficult it is to get high-quality backlinks? How do you suggest small businesses, especially if you find it tough to build the domain authority and fight it with the giants in this space to build those high-quality backlinks there?

It is a challenge. Before we started recording, you mentioned some good things, and it’s not just about domain authority. There are other factors to look at. The backlinks, generating high-quality, relevant backlinks, low spans, or high domain authority, and all those other wonderful criteria, is a challenge. We spent years trying to figure out the best processes to do it, and we’re still learning that we have a complete outreach team. Our SEO team does that and goes out and out those backlinks. It might be we find 2,000 sites that we find are relevant, then we filter that down to 500 based on the spam scores, then we filter it down. Then once we find that we figure out the best strategy to go out and obtain it. For small businesses, many of them can afford agencies, but some of them can’t. And for the ones that can, I usually send people to Harrow, help a reporter out, or I also ask them, do you have existing partnerships that you can leverage? If you’re a flooring supplier, maybe, or you’re a flooring company, maybe go to the suppliers and they’re willing to include you on their website or whatever it may be.

We find there’s often low-hanging fruit for those small companies that can’t go to an agency and have the software and the teams to get the backlinks that are relevant and high quality. Help a reporter. I’ve helped a lot of people out by just pointing them in that direction. There are other sources where I give them a little bit of a template. They don’t have the budget to work with us, but if I can help them and say, try this out, you might get interviewed by some people. And if you get a couple of articles where they’re linking to, then that’s valuable. And most of the time people try.

And local search also becomes so crucial for these small businesses, apart from side patients and let’s say buildings. So what is your take when it comes to local search and map optimization? And what are the key factors or best practices that businesses should focus upon to increase their visibility? Because this has become such a cluttered market because all of a sudden they have realized the importance of online presence because of Covid and they become all the more particular about their presence online. What do you suggest to your clients or our listeners in general today?

I think when it comes to the business profile coming up in the app pack, I know the algorithm is slightly different. There’s the review component, right? Reviews play a role in it. We always encourage clients to get reviews naturally in the due diligence process of anybody buying a product or service, reviews are important for conversion rates, but it’s also important for that local search. We also try to get them to get their clients to reference because there’s a tagging section for a business profile for those reviews to reference, let’s say, the DJ and that they do weddings to have the client leave the review but mention wedding in the review if possible, so then other people typing in wedding increase the probability of that local business profile coming up. Then obviously the proximity as well. If you have the option to choose where your address is located, you can pick it strategically. Many of our clients have expanded to multiple business profiles as they’ve expanded their companies. It’s another good practice we encourage to further that on the local side of things.

Great. Before we wrap this up, I’d like to ask you one final question, Jesse, about social media marketing. It does become a key component of digital marketing overall. What are your tactics for maximizing organic visibility and engagement on social media forums? How do you nurture those relationships through social media channels for your clients?

Yeah, it’s a good question. On the organic side, we found personally as an agency that doing organic posting on Facebook and Instagram is a challenge to show a return. That’s just us. I know other agencies that they thrive at that. So we’ve grandfathered clients in that we manage their social media. But what we found is very impactful is meta advertising, specifically Facebook and Instagram ads. So what I’ve always enjoyed about the social paid advertising platform is you get a compounding snowball effect because of social proof. So if we get a really good piece of content, you can do similar things on other platforms, Facebook, Instagram, especially, you get that compound effect because then all of a sudden you get organic reach from running ads. If it’s very engaging and we’ve done that where we get just as much organic reach as we do from the ad dollars for a client and almost double or triple the exposure. People start sharing and it just keeps going and going. So that’s one thing that we find we’ve done very well for clients is get an amazing video film for them that gets people talking.

I remember one client of ours, I guess the technical term is letterbox, but with the titles, see what’s replacing Ashfold and adjust. People are like, Well, can they just keep sharing it? If you can get a really good piece of content or a couple of pieces of content that have that ability to get people talking, that goes a long way.

Absolutely. Thank you for answering our questions with such patience, Jesse. I’m sure our audience would have loved it and would have benefited a lot from it. But before we finally wrap this up, I would like to play a quick, rapid-fire with you. I hope you’re game for it.

Yeah.

Great. What was your last Google search?

My last Google search was something related to a GoDaddy login. I can’t remember some delegate access, I believe.

Okay. Favorite book.

Favorite book. Oh, geez. Oh, my gosh. Probably start with Y by Simon Sinick.

Okay. Let’s say we have to make a movie about you. What genre would it be?

I like to think of an action movie just because I like action movies, but I don’t know if I have the psychique these days to do it. But that’s what I would like.

Okay. Are you a morning person or a night person? That would help us understand the f psychique part as well.

I’d say neither. I like my sleep, but I could choose, I’d probably say a night person.

Okay. I’m not really any further. One last one here. What is the best thing that you like about your job? Let’s say our industry in general.

I like the understanding that I’m making a difference in the world by connecting people. That’s what we do. We connect people. This is going to be a bit of a longer answer, but I think about it a lot why I do what I do. We connect people. We’re connecting businesses to wonderful services and products, and we’re putting bread on the table for families within that business because that business employs people and they have to pay everyone. At the end of the day, we’re connecting people and we’re helping people. That’s fulfilling for me.

Great. Love that answer, man. Great, Jesse. Yeah, it’s unique in itself because the answer is correct. A lot of people do not think of it that way and the larger impact that they’re responsible for, apart from just making the phones ring or putting the phone on to a website. It’s actually beyond that. It’s about that business, especially if you’re working with small medium-segment local businesses for whom it’s all about the phone ringing and the product and services getting sold. For large-scale enterprises, the game is different. But yeah, really nice. I love that approach, man.

Thank you.

I agree, Jesse. Thank you so much for taking the time for this podcast. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Thank you for having me, Ranmay. I appreciate it.

Great.

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