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The Human Element in Digital Marketing

In conversation with Lyndsey Maddox

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Lyndsey Maddox, Director of Business Development, Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing, a digital marketing agency located in Chicago.
Lyndsey discussed the importance of human connection in digital marketing, emphasizing the value of passion, adaptability, and sharing experiences. Watch the episode now for some profound insights!

Passion and curiosity are must-have character traits in the digital marketing industry.

Lyndsey Maddox
Director of Business Development at Digital Third Coast
Lyndsey Maddox

Hey. Hi everyone. This is Ranmay here on your show e Coffee with Experts. Today we have Lyndsey Maddox who’s the director of business development, at Digital third coast internet marketing with us. Welcome Lyndsey, to our show.

Thank you so much. Good to see you. Thanks for having me.

Great. Pleasure is all us. Lyndsey, before we move any forward and talk about, SEO Digital Marketing Agency Life and all of that, I request you to introduce yourself and your agency to our audiences.

Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you. Yes. I’m Lyndsey Maddox. I’m with Digital Third Coast. We are a 16-year-old digital marketing agency.

And we specialize in two key areas, SEO and paid media. SEO for us is fairly comprehensive, so technical keywords, content, digital, pr, and link building. And then our paid media team specializes in paid search and Google’s full suite of products. So beyond text ads, display, remarketing, shopping, YouTube, and paid social channels most heavily with meta and LinkedIn.

Superb. You have been in the industry for, more than a decade now. You have seen quite a few summers and winters there. And just wanted to understand from your perspective, how have you seen the industry evolve? And what trends have you seen setting in the last decade or so?

It’s, that’s a good question. That’s we’re hitting it hard first thing in the morning here. Ranmay. I’ll say this. Having lived through a pandemic, I no longer predict the future because I’ve been very wrong when I’ve done it. Yeah. I think the changes in digital marketing happen all the time. Whether we’re talking about algorithm updates or the GA four migration that everybody’s working through right now, or what tactics used to work that don’t work anymore. Things are always changing. I think what stays the same though is. The value of being visible when someone’s looking for you, right?

When we need information or a service or a product, as humans, we either ask our friends or colleagues or we ask Google or Bing, right? Yeah. So being there, and I think keeping that human element in mind and not. Just catering to robots is what’s been consistent. And, 10 or 15 years ago when we focused too much on robots, it backfired, right?

I think it’s, I think what matters maybe more is what stayed the same over time, which is that connection from one side of the computer to the other and being there when someone’s looking for you and needs your products or services. Everything else fluctuates, changes. Yeah. What data we have access to or don’t have access to.

10 years ago we had lots of search terms in analytics for organic results. Now we have none. We have. Less in paid ads even now, right? Yeah. I think we navigate those changes and have to stay ahead of the curve when they’re happening. But if we can keep that guiding principle in mind of what the connection is and what really matters and that user journey, journey, everything works out.

Absolutely, very valid point there. While you are trying to, stay ahead of the curve, it’s very important to not feed in the logic, keeping the machines and the algorithms in mind, but Human personas in terms of their buying journey to make that, online presence actually meaningful, right?

Otherwise, it’s just footprints on your website, but nothing is happening, in terms of not the phones ringing no sales happening, it might end up having a hundred people looking at your website in a day, and if you’re doing it through ads, then you’re paying money for it at the same time.

So the results matter at the end of the day. A very valid point there. Great. And you raised the point of, the pandemic. So the world did go remote for a couple of years, and post that a lot of functions, businesses, they have still, Pride operating or are still operating remotely, right?

So what are some of the challenges that you feel do come with having a remote team or managing a remote team and how do you feel that are the right strategies to overcome those challenges and deliver those high quality work for your clients?

I love this question. And I think we’re still figuring it out, right?

It’s been, yeah, it’s been three years and two months since we went home. And I thought we were gonna be home for 30 days, right? And I went back into my office, there’s like open cans of Diet Coke, right? Because no one thought we would. Be gone for as long as we have been.

And there’s pros and cons to it. On the pro side, a lot of my team loves being remote. It gives them better work life balance. It gives them more time for the things they care about. Gives them more space. More autonomy. It’s allowed us to hire outside of just our geographic area, right?

We’re not bound to one location our team historically was all in Chicago. Our team now is across the country. And so those are all, really valuable benefits. The challenge then is the isolation, right? The loneliness. How do we stay connected as an agency and not a group of freelancers, all doing work on our laptops, So for me it, it’s been an evolving test-and-learn approach. We, I think like everybody did virtual happy hours for a while. And so we realized no one wants to do another Zoom call at four o’clock on a Friday. Yeah. I just wanna be wrapping up, right? Yeah. Correct. Yep. But we do, we get together as a team every Monday morning and just check-in.

We have one-on-ones. We have meetings by the department. We use tools like Slack and Zoom and Teams to stay connected and have that ability to look at each other from time to time, even if we’re not in the same room. And we do, fun virtual events too. We did a trivia night last week.

It’s about finding that connection with your team in a new way. It’s not the same. Correct. But it’s still totally possible. And I think shared learnings and shared experiences are really valuable towards driving better client results as well. If you just learns in a silo, we can only learn so much.

Correct. But if we learn as a group and share information, it’s exponentially greater. Whether that’s, Results of an AB split test or trying a new approach and seeing how it works. And sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. But sharing those things so that we each benefit from each other’s experiences.

Absolutely. Each one of us is trying to, still strategize it out in some way or the other. But yeah. A very important point in terms of being able to hire beyond the geographies that you used to at one point. The talent pool and your reach to the talent across the country has definitely, increased many folds so that there is a team which used to sit out particular location used to come to office. Now you have the entire country. In fact, beyond that, if you find the right. Fit for your organization to hire from. So those are the booms there. Great. And talking about, all these tools that you mentioned in terms of zoom, slack, what are tools generally do your team uses to stay connected and, ensure that work is being done on time and the deliverables are there?

Yes. Yeah, great question. We run all the video conferencing channels, right? And for all the advancements in AI and machine learning, I would love one video conferencing solution that worked a hundred percent of the time. But there’s always some hiccup or update or something’s happening.

So we have Zoom, we have teams we use a project management tool as well called teamwork. Yeah. And we rely a lot on Slack for communication, but we have a general rule that if you’re going back and forth on Slack or email and it’s a lot of back and forth, that third or fourth time just hop on a call cuz it’ll be easier to solve.

Yeah. In conversation whatever we’re trying to solve in that moment. We use a lot of different communication tools. Which I think at times can be overwhelming and distracting, but we also have limits to them. So within our Slack channel, if someone is going into deep work, if they’re going to be, digging into a technical audit, for example, they just put up that do not disturb and we don’t slack them.

You can email ’em. There are ways to get in touch, but we don’t have that constant disruption when we’re trying to get that deep work done.

Absolutely. It makes a lot of sense. That phase, great. Agency life in itself, we are both on that side of it, it can be rewarding and it is also challenging, extremely challenging, where in terms of long us challenging projects, high-pressure ones what advice do you give to the young, younger professionals, just starting out or probably considering a career in agency or digital marketing?

What do you think are the important qualities one should persist to be successful and an agency mode of operation?

Yeah. That’s a great question. And I think there’s two sides to it, right? What do you need as an individual and what do you need to provide as an agency, right?

So the balance of agency is always team versus clients, right? How many team members do we have to execute and how many clients? I call it Goldilocks Dilemma, right? And I tell my team, a third of the year, I’m gonna have too much work for you. A third of the year, I’m not gonna have enough and a third of the year I’m gonna get it right.

And there’s balance. So one week may be more work and one week is less, but it should balance over time. And I think as an agency, it’s our responsibility to ensure that balance so that no one is working crazy long hours all the time. And I think that’s a key to running a successful agency and retaining top tier talent is never getting them close to a point of burnout because we’re not managing that workload better. As an individual, what I look for on my team certainly, some level of experience I really value but more than that, I value a. genuine passion behind the work they do. I don’t think we live in a space where you can like, just come in and do the job and leave and that be effective, right?

Absolutely. It has to be that, authentic interest in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, testing new ideas. Curiosity and a love of learning are absolute must have character traits. In this space because without those, there’s no way to just follow a process all the time. Yeah. We’ve talked about changes in digital marketing in 10 years.

They’re happening right now. Yeah. And yeah, really making sure it’s something that brings some level of joy to you, right? To see results come in, to see the impact of your work, to see. We spent X dollars, but we got Y back. I think that like genuine interest is really more important than experience or skillset.

Even skills can be learned, but passion cannot be taught, right?

Absolutely. It is an ever-changing game, in our industry. So you need to be on top of your game at all times, to even stay relevant. To the industry, right? So not taking clients into the discussion, not taking your agency into the discussion you yourself, has to be passionate enough.

Understand the game and stay relevant to your own field. Even if it is, let’s say, seo, ppc, local seo, link building content, every space in itself, every piece of digital marketing is evolving so much. That you have to be actually reading a lot, staying, no, spending a lot of time apart from your job.

As in terms of Just doing good enough to understand how it’s evolving. That so yeah, what you said is a very valid point there in terms of being passionate because if you are in, and if you just walk in and walk out, then it’s not gonna hold up, for very long. And unfortunately that’s the game we are in and that’s the fun part as well.

There’s a lot of learnings there.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’m fortunate to work with Nathan our director of Paid Media, who is one of, if not the best paid search marketers in the country. Just like exceptional level of experience and talent and expertise. And he will tell you it’s do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

And that changes all the time. All the time. So his love of learning, his like constant pursuit of. More information. What’s changing, what’s next? How do we now navigate, these pmax campaigns and Google ads that work at the beginning and taper off, what do we do with the limitations on the data we have access to now?

It’s always changing and I would call him an expert. I think he would be hesitant to be titled that because. He’s a student, right? He’s a student of this work and he loves it and is excited by it and has been doing it for 17 years, right? That kind of like longevity and passion, I think is the key to his success and certainly something that I think makes a great personality type for this world.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s good to, have those sort of people around you. It inspires you a lot as well. And the entire team.

Great. Absolutely. And that kind of goes to, how we operate remotely, right? When somebody is excited about something, it makes other people excited and so it helps, yeah, kinda solve that isolation issue that comes up with working from home.

Yeah, absolutely. And in fact, we, as a practice, what we do is, beyond those official channels of slack, zoom, teams and other platforms, if you feel the need, you got excited about onboarding a client. Or you crack something, pick up the phone, call four people.

And just get on a call, and he can shout, he can do anything that you want. That makes a lot of sense.

That’s the joy of the simple phone call these days. It’s beautiful.

Yeah, absolutely. And then just, just. Cherish that moment versus, just operating like robots in terms of saying congratulations to each other on different platforms that we have within office.

We would’ve given high fives and, we would’ve actually celebrated those little successes, and that is what makes us human at the same time. Yeah. And then you touched upon a topic Lyndsey, which was about ai and I cannot let you go about before I, before we discuss this burning topic, of AI ,ChatGPT, people getting scared for their jobs, content writers, and all of that happening and.

And the storm that we all are in what is your take on it? How do you see all of that evolving? Let’s say another six months. Six months is a long time by the speed which we are traveling, right? But how do you see all of this heading, where is this heading as per you.

Yeah. It’s a great question.

Am I concerned about writers losing their jobs? No. Humans, Love humans, right? Robots don’t buy products. Robots don’t buy services. You can’t have a robot. For a human or a human. For a robot. It’s both. Then, and that goes back to, where we started our conversation.

That human to human connection is what matters here. Is it a tool we should be taking advantage of? Absolutely. Absolutely. But the same way that I don’t put a budget into a Google ad campaign and trust a robot to spend it, I don’t put a content budget into ChatGPT and take whatever it spits out.

I’ve spent a just shocking amount of time on ChatGPT and Bard, and I’ll ask them the same questions and I make them write me poems and. Wax philosophical. I think in terms of use I think we started to lean into it a bit to say, okay, I need to write a piece of content on topic X.

ChatGPT, write it, and then we try to edit it and make it human. I think the reverse is the better approach, right? So I’m gonna write on topic X. Then I’m gonna ask ChatGPT too and be able to fill in more information or, oh, that’s an interesting point that I haven’t touched on here. So it’s still your voice, it’s still your content that you’re amplifying versus trying to edit a robot.

Yeah, so that’s been useful for me just in asking you questions, getting a different angle that maybe I didn’t think about on my first draft. Yeah. But I think it’s a tool we should, Use and adopt and enjoy, but I don’t at this point, fear for anybody’s jobs.

Yeah, absolutely.

Before airplanes were there we thought that, a lot of people was, will lose their job. In fact, it turned the other way around. It created a whole lot of industry, and gave a lot of jobs, so yeah, at the entire. Field opened up versus people losing out on their jobs.

And then with AI it cannot really be the final product. Yes, it can give you a brief insight in terms of, to get a head start or like you mentioned, make some changes to it and then get some content ideas. But it can never be really be your final product because, Con is a lot about storytelling, about, having that passion, that empathy, the machine really cannot have those emotional questions, into the game which a person writing on behalf of the business will have.

So it cannot really be your final product that phase.

I, yeah, absolutely agree. And I think that, You know now more than ever your personal brand, your agency brand, your take on any given subject is more important than spitting out facts. Yeah. And ultimately any AI or machine learning as far as I know so far can only learn from humans.

So it does it, it has to be from us to start with. Yeah. Yeah. It has to be from us to finish.

In fact, it is from us because it escapes to the internet for content, right? Which has been written by human at the very cost of it, and it just gives you that information out. So yeah, very valid point there as well.

It, it is from humans and it is going to serve the humans, right? So the person who is reading it cannot be an AI and make a. Purchase on any website. It is a human reading it and has to relate to it in order to make that decision of purchasing a product or a service or whatsoever. So yeah.

We will be in that game for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Forever. Absolutely. Great. So Lyndsey, first of all, I would like to thank you for taking our time for this podcast and I’m, a hundred percent sure that our audiences would’ve benefited a lot, and especially agency owners in terms of, trying to, make those adjustments into, remote work culture.

For sure. Yeah. And thank you for that and really appreciate you coming onto our podcast.

It’s absolutely my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you, Lyndsey.

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