FOUND Friday

A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.

EPISODE INFO

Topic: Content marketing and advertising should work together to optimize content, get their brand found, and create a customer-centric journey.

Speakers:
Ray Grieselhuber, Founder & CEO at GinzaMetrics
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics

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FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Erin: Hey, everyone. Welcome to FOUND Friday. Today is Friday, October 17th. With me, I’ve got Ray, founder and CEO of GinzaMetrics, and I’m Erin.

As always, you can tweet to us live during the show using the #FOUNDFriday. You can also check out the recap of the show or watch a replay on the GinzaMetrics blog, GinzaMetrics.com/blog. We also post it to our Facebook and Twitter channel.

I’m going to go and kick things off. Today’s topic is timely because we just met last week and we’re chatting about a lot of these things. We’re going to talk about the convergence of paid and owned media – using paid to amplify owned and vice versa.

We’ll also going to talk a little bit about some predictions that people have been making for 2015 and what of those things we actually think are going to happen and maybe where they’ll fit on the scale of reality. Because it seems like some of them are maybe like a little bit more of a wish than a reality.

Ray: This is often true with predictions.

Erin: Yeah, predictions to me are either erring on the side of extreme caution in the case of a lot of times financial type things or are erring really just on the fantastical side to get people’s attention. There may be nothing wrong with that but I wouldn’t want anybody to base an entire marketing strategy or line of business decisions on things like that.

As we discuss the convergence of paid and owned stuff – 2015 is probably going to continue the trend of content marketing, mixing some paid and owned stuff to accelerate content distribution. Because now that people have started really talking about content marketing, what they really want to know is a few different things. Not just how to build content but how to distribute it effectively, how to measure it, and how to make sure people fit this end-to-end life cycle.

So the best native advertising stuff really helps build an audience into a long-term business asset, and so people want to make sure that what they’re talking about here will actually accomplish this longer term goal. And we talk about this a lot at Ginza, the need to make smart marketing decisions for content based on a mixture of both paid and owned opportunities and historically these two things have been independent. With these two things being independent, we keep seeing a shift.

Ray: Definitely. The definition of paid and owned of media merging together is really interesting too because historically it was a very simple things like paid search versus organic search and using paid as solely traffic acquisition channel. Where now with native advertising, a lot of that is starting to blend, you could argue very well on either side. Once side would be to say something like, “Native advertising is just some sort of deceptive advertising.” The other side would be to say, “No, it’s actually is content and you’re just paying for the distribution of that content to reach into a new audience that you’ve been trying to build the relationship with.”

I’m personally probably on the later side of the debate where I think that native advertisement is content. I think that it does need to be disclosed properly to users and consumers so that they know that it is an advertisement. But I think it’s a pretty interesting way to get people’s attention and start getting into new audiences.

Erin: I think that traditionally people have looked at marketing, content, advertising, PR, and sales. All is like this spectrum in a funnel. There were traditionally things that people did to get awareness going. Once awareness was achieved, it was like, “Let’s see if we can get some sort of engagement happening.” And then once the engagement it was like, “Okay, now we’re trying to get you to a buying decision and then after that keeping in touch.”

Whether it’s B2B or B2C, that’s a funnel of things that would happen in a variety of different ways depending on your market. What we’re seeing now is that content can be utilized in multiple places throughout the funnel so that where it used to be that maybe a video would be at one point in the funnel it can now actually video as a channel or as a marketing medium can be utilized through many different places. It can be part of advertising. It can be part of PR. It can be sales.

So in 2015, one of the big things that people are talking about is digital marketing is going to have to converge with digital selling. So marketing and sales need to use some of the same techniques for content creation and real-time engagement and that you can’t just run marketing and sales as separate departments, but they need to be one giant consumer facing organization that’s focused on revenue generation.

I actually think that that’s true. I think that that’s what should happen. Now that’s a far cry unfortunately from what probably will happen as we’ve seen since social has been added, e-mail marketing – these things still within silos. Between all the politicking that’ll go on at larger organizations about ownership of a large customer-facing organization focused on revenue, disparate analytics, roles, data types – that’s a really heavy undertaking. I’d say that a good first step is going to be people sharing data.

Ray: Yeah, definitely. It’s one of the things that we’re really seeing a lot of our customers care about and talk about and through our own research, we’re seeing that as well where there are just so many different silos of data. And this has been a problem literally since the beginning of the Internet, ever since companies started to try to reach people online. But it’s a really big problem now because there’s just so much out there, there are so many different ways of interacting with people. We’re starting to hear about it more and more as an actual priority that everybody from the CMO on down are starting to take seriously and invest in.

Erin: I think that this idea of investing in this change or looking at this change is difficult. One of the things that I hear when I chat with some people is, at the executive level by the time a CMO or CEO may know about these things, unfortunately they’ve been likely so removed from the day-to-day implementation of a lot of this stuff. It’s hard for them to even keep track of all the different technological changes. How are you going to lead a convergence of all of these things if you haven’t actually deal with any of the technology and data that people are working with nowadays? So that’s a big undertaking.

Internally at organizations, we talk about this a lot, but there is this idea of data scarcity and fear that if you share your data and your numbers, somehow if numbers don’t look great or if a campaign doesn’t perform like you wished it had that people are going to look down on you for those numbers and so you either create these reports that make it look like things are better than they are, which doesn’t help anyone. Or you sweep it under the rug and put something else out there.

I think that that is a systemic problem that industries need to get over. If something doesn’t work, own it and just say, “Hey, this doesn’t work. Let’s optimize or change course,” and allow people to really own that. Making people fearful of something not working out once it’s in the market is rarely a good thing. I think that you have to look at why didn’t it work? Is it bad management? Because that actually is a problem. Or is it just, “Hey, we tried it. Not great.” This happens internally with us all the time. We try some of the stuff, those stuff works. We try some stuff and it goes not amazing and we just change course.

Ray: You had an interesting way of bringing it last week when we were talking about some of the stuff. There are a couple of ways of dealing with this problem when people being afraid to use and share data as KPIs because they’re afraid they’re going to get in trouble, for a lack of a better word. I think one of the things that was interesting is you said, “Obviously you need KPIs and you need data.”

There’s no way around that at some point, but the way that you can interpret that data would be to treat those as alerts or structure those as recommendations. So start to do some analysis on the data, which goes back to the other point that we’re talking about, which is why are you gathering this data in the first place? Are you running experiments?

This very same conversation happens all the time in the development. If you treat the output of hiring a bunch of programmers to build something, if you treat the output of that as something that comes at the end of really long monolithic development cycle, then you get a very binary output. It’s either successful, it’s either on time or it’s not. It’s either on budget or off budget or over budget.

You can look at the advertising processes and marketing processes in much the same way where we say, “We’re going to allocate $1 million and do something over the next three months and it will be successful.” And then when it’s not, people start to get fired or they lose motivation and that’s a really big problem. So I think that treating things as a much more experimental thing, breaking them down into smaller chunks, trying new things is really important. But it’s only really possible when you have all the different missing pieces of the data, all the different disparate data sources connected in a way that actually lets you move through that process without worrying – without spending all your time and people’s time on actually collecting and managing that data.

Erin: We need to share the data situation is really big only looking at one factor of things. I cannot explain enough how horrible of an idea this is for the people at the top levels of organizations. Kind of this convergence of marketing, public relations, advertising is going to have to accelerate faster. So right now it’s been slow. People are trying it but this needs to move beyond like “Maybe we’ll try it and if people don’t like it after a couple of weeks, we’re going to give up on it and go back to the old way.”

Honestly, it doesn’t matter if people like it or not, it’s the way that things need to be. People are resisting to change – that sucks. It’s going to be hard for people that have been in position for a really long time to get on board with sharing all the stuff that they’ve never had to share before. Sorry, your horseless carriage is going to just need to be put on the road and drive that thing.

Ray: Yeah.

Erin: I think that content creation, search engine optimization, social media existing as silos right now is crazy pants. So content marketing as a thing is really young. We talked about it last week. Social media itself is also still very young. We talked about the really long timeline it’s taken e-mail marketing to sort out some of its stuff, and so social is still only what? A third as old if that as what you know marketing is. And so it’s not surprising that people are having a really difficult time breaking down some of these barriers considering e-mail marketing in a lot of cases is still a silo in some people’s organizations.

So marketers are dealing with this “storm of things” that have all changed and it’s combining digital and traditional marketing types along with data analysis and business intelligence and throw on top of that the rise of user-generated content and it’s no surprise that people’s heads are kind of exploding.

Ray: For people who graduated college maybe a year or two ago, they’re probably going to have a much more native familiarity with a lot of the different tools that are out there. What they’re really lacking is context and experience and understanding of why a lot of this stuff matters. And for someone who’s been doing this for ten or 15 years, they’re going to have all the experience and context of stuff that at least used to work and they’re going to understand the major stories but they’re going to be missing out a ton on the latest tools, the latest techniques, the speed in which innovation is happening right now. So it’s a big challenge and both groups of people need to be flexible and maybe willing to learn from the other I think in order to actually make that work.

Erin: Yeah. You talk about the idea of context and to me that is a really important layer that too many people rush to force on a younger person just because they happen to understand the tools. Understanding tools does not denote understanding strategy and strategy is not meant to say that a 21 or 22-year-old person cannot be a strategic thinker. People can think strategically at many ages and people without college degrees can think strategically. So there’s no like, “You have to be this thing or you have to dumb this to think strategically.” It’s not about thinking strategically. It’s about understanding the strategy of an industry, of a business, of competition, of interworking working parts and a lot of that comes with experience.

The onuses on both groups as you mentioned to be flexible within these paths and for people who can think strategically but may not have experienced a lot of things to be a little bit patient and continue to be smart about tools and to continue to learn what they can and not dismiss people who may not know a ton about tools because they may know a lot about where the industry has been, where it’s going, a lot about competition, so keeping an eye on that.

And then on people who may have a lot of experience and – in strategic thinking from kind of that top level. Get to know the tools. Just because it’s not your job to use it every day doesn’t mean you don’t need to know about it. Sit down on some training classes. Try to figure some of that stuff out. It’s difficult and kind of clumsy at times and you feel – I’m not going to lie. Like I sit in right now on some stuff and want to get trained on some things and I feel stupid constantly. I’m like, “Wow! What has happened?” And I feel like an idiot. You can’t be afraid to feel like an idiot. You just got to laugh about it and be like, “Whatever.”

Ray: One of the coolest anecdotes I’ve heard of was when we were speaking with Tommy from Airbnb a couple of months ago. He’s a marketing guy. He’s done SEO for a long time but he’s not an engineer or anything. It’s probably worth mentioning that there are a lot of different types of tools out there, as well. There are marketing tools. There are more technology-oriented tools. There are publishing tools and everything else. There are a lot of different tools out there, as well.

But one of the things that he said that really helped him tie a lot of mirror concepts together was to sign up for this startup engineering course made available by Stanford. I think it’s a course there but one of these online education sites. He said that what that helped him do was basically just give a lot more context around if you’re a digital company like Airbnb is, all of your content is produced online and distributed online, it helped him understand some of the larger pieces that were moving in terms of what is the publishing cycle like, how hard is it to create new content, what’s involved and actually asking product managers to make changes to the way the site is laid out from an SEO perspective.

I think it’s a pretty interesting thing where there are courses out there like that that provide a broad enough overview on the different types of things that go into this that he understood what it meant at the end of that course to say, “We need to submit upon request to make changes to the way the site is structured and have a much more relevant conversation with people who are actually involved in changing.”

That may be a little bit of an extreme example but actually a really interesting one because there’s so much interesting relevant online education out there that taking something like that that might seem like it’s geared towards either someone who’s starting a new startup or maybe even someone who’s in an earlier end of their technical career might be more focused on but it can be really useful to bring in that sort of skillset to something that’s not traditionally/necessarily geared towards this. I think it’ll be a cool thing to see a lot more going forward.

Erin: There’s this feeling that you can’t know everything about everything, especially when you are in an executive level position. It’s just an unreasonable request. You have people managing things because you can’t manage everything. So there’s no suggestion here that says you need to do this.

I think what we’re talking about is, like with the convergence of paid and owned media – and this is across multiple things, right? Because paid and owned encompass a lot of different things. It’s not just advertising and your blog. It’s a lot of different things. It’s social, it’s user-generated content, it’s videos. And then it is advertising. It’s advertorials. It’s made of advertising. It’s all these different things that are coming together and it’s the idea of what can you learn about owned media from advertising and what can you learn about your advertising stuff from your own.

I use this example all the time. If there are keywords or topics that are performing really well on your existing content, like things that you own like your blog and your website, then you should consider using those in your advertising efforts and in paid efforts because it means that it’s something that people are buying into on their own. They are self-selecting and saying that they’re interested in this thing. So why not share that information?

I use the same thing with e-mail subject lines. Whatever e-mail subject lines get opened the most? Or whatever offers or content gets clicked on the most through e-mail is obviously something that people are interested in, so why not bulk up some content and some SEO around that as well as cross-pollinate with some paid advertising, paid content, advertorial stuff? There are just so much interesting ideas that can be learned from this.

What we were saying about taking some courses and learning things is, as a manager, as a VP, as a director, executive or whatever the situation is, you’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t know what the tool can do. You’ll never know what all could be done if you have no idea how any of this stuff works or what features the stuff you’re paying for potentially offers.

It also means that your employees hold all the cards and that’s a little bit scary, I think, for any manager. You and I have had this conversation which is, if you give somebody the keys to the kingdom and you have no idea how to deal with this, let’s say e-mail marketing. You don’t know how to use Marketo, how to operate Marketo, but you have Marketo and there’s somebody in your office who’s running it, and that person decides to leave. You got to hire somebody to run Marketo ASAP, stat, pronto! And you better hope that that person doesn’t tell you that they want $1 million a year to do it because you’re going to have to pay him. That’s how people with these kinds of skills get in these positions.

Ray: Definitely. There’s so much out there you can specialize. The options specializing in a lot of these tools are really big. It’s actually something that’s probably pretty good. Career advice for someone who’s just getting started in the industry: to pick one thing to really specialize in it. Getting really good at e-mail marketing, getting really good at certain types of online advertising can really help you because once you learn how to do one of those really well, you’re going to have a lot better skillset to expand on by starting to look at other channels too.

Erin: There’s another thought that optimization for paid and owned is going to move beyond these individual tactics and focus a lot more on an overall customer experience across all channels, more of an idea of participation marketing with the community. Getting more involved and integrating content advertising and social engagement to create this one experience and that you would be as marketer, advertiser, PR person, salesperson curating an experience.

I think that there are people who do a really good job of this in the B2C world. I will say that some people who have historically done this really well are really high-end hotels and things. From their advertising to your reservation creation, from follow-it-up to saying, “Hey, we’re confirming this. Can we get you involved in these activities?” to when you first walk in the door and check in, to when you get to your room, to when you check out – they are curating an experience that you have. So they don’t want to do anything that takes you out of that experience. Once you’re in the experience, they don’t want to change it.

Like being in Disney World – Disney World experience. Everybody there is an Imagineer or whatever. They’re all cast members, not staff. They’re all there to make you believe.

To me, that’s where all of marketing, advertising, PR needs to go. Once a customer or a person is in this experience, don’t do anything to shock them out of the experience. Let them live in whatever this situation is.

Ray: Absolutely. I think that treating a lot of these roles as much more creative roles and as part of more of an ensemble, you bring together whatever you’re trying to achieve over the next two to three years can be actually a really interesting take on things.

Erin: I think you and I talked about this almost two years ago. We were having this conversation about bringing things together almost like a magazine, a publication type of a situation.

Similar to what Red Bull Media has done, you don’t have to leave and go to a bunch of other places. They can curate a lot of different content and experiences for you and it’s all under the guise of this one larger umbrella situation. But it means that they own the content from start to finish. They actually push the guy out – they didn’t push him, he jumped – out of the plane thing to jump down. It would’ve been more interesting because he didn’t know that it was going to happen. They curate that entire experience. Their branding is on it. Then they own the distribution for it and they own how you experience it, yet there’s a lot to be said for what that really means.

Focusing on working with the existing community is a good step. So I would say that that doesn’t actually require a lot of internal shake up or expensive technology. What it really requires is regular meetings of strategy, department heads, and things like that to figure out a cohesive customer experience throughout the life cycle. So everybody needs to get together. Somebody, from a strategic standpoint, needs to talk about what the best idea is and people need to be agnostic. You can’t fight for your department. You have to fight for the customer experience regardless of what department that falls in.

Ray: One of the things that’s an interesting corollary to that is the idea of where does a company try to get their value out of creating that experience. In the case of Red Bull, you could argue that they really make their money when someone buys their drinks. But if they only treat all the stuff that they’re doing as some sort of marketing funnel to get people to buy that drink at the end of the day, I would argue that that entire experience would be far less authentic than it really is, probably far less engaging than it is currently.

I think that the thing that these really smart companies have gotten right is that they’re doing the experience for the sake of the experience and the branding that comes along with it, the increase in sales that comes along with it are the benefit out of that. But the only way you get that paradoxically is by focusing really on just creating an experience for the experience’s sake. That’s a hard thing to explain to people but the companies that have gotten it right really seem to have nailed it.

Erin: Try to explain it in the way that gets somebody to buy off them like $1 million worth…

Ray: A hundred million.

Erin: Like of experimental fun budget. Like, “Let’s have a guy jump out of a plane and see what happens.” This goes back to the idea of publicity stunts from back in the day. And Hollywood realize on these things for everything. People assume that somebody is always watching, so everything is kind of choreographed. From who goes to lunch with whom, who wears what where. Even if it’s a casual, “I wasn’t planning on being seen,” yes, you were obviously because there’s always somebody curating how people perceive you. So there are very few honest moments now for celebrities.

It’s becoming a little bit that way for brands. Any time a brand posts anything, does anything, appears anywhere, this is an intentional thing for most large brands. This is all a curated experience of how we want you to perceive our brand.

I think a little bit of that is what’s causing a problem for consumers because it is this convergence of, “We’ve created this stuff. We paid for this experience. We’re trying to make you see us in a certain way.” But that comes across as disingenuous when not done correctly. Somebody has to have the right intentions for wanting to do that. Instead of saying, “I just want more Facebook likes or more YouTube views,” it’s like, “I want to do something really, really cool and I hope that people like it as well.”

Ray: An analogy would be setting up shop at a trade show with your booth and you pay a lot of money to have one of the prime real estate locations on one of those things. But then you just stand there and you expect people to come by and you may put up some attractive visuals and stuff. But you’re not really there to benefit people. You’re creating it basically as a way to get people to learn more about your business.

It may work for some companies that happen to have a super hot product. But I think a lot of companies that say that they don’t have a great experience doing that, you could probably look at the experience that they’re creating and how they’re actually creating it for people. I’d say that the instances of even something as mundane as a trade show, exhibition for a lot of companies can be really turned around by focusing much more on the audience members who are there.

Erin: Wrapping up today’s show, talking about this convergence of paid and owned. I think we probably didn’t approach this from a traditional view which would have been, “Oh, the convergence of paid and owned – here’s how to converge the two.” It’s more talking about why it’s important for these two things to happen. It’s important because there are really good lessons in optimization across all areas of marketing, advertising, PR, and sales that can be taken from these things. So salespeople could craft better e-mails by learning from what’s working from marketing, advertising, and PR. Marketing, advertising, and PR can listen more across all channels including sales to create better content.

So we’re talking about all of these things coming together. We’re really talking about this idea of a more genuine user experience that needs to happen and that you need to be curating an experience for people across all of these different channels. The idea is that hopefully you’re doing it for the right reason. You want somebody to have a great experience. By you genuinely wanting somebody to have a great experience, they probably will. And when they have a great experience, they will in kind probably be more likely to use your brand, purchase your product, and work with you.

Ray: Yeah, for sure.

Erin: That wraps us up for this week. Ray, thanks for joining as always. We will be posting the video again to our YouTube page, YouTube.com/ginzametrics. If you want to check it out, there are also older episodes on there that have a ton of different stuff. We try to do these weekly. It doesn’t always happen based on our schedules and things like that. Last week I was traveling and then ill because every time I travel somewhere with Ray, I get sick. I blame you. It’s not Ebola, so please do not throw me into quarantine.

You could also send us your suggestions if you want to have show topics brought up. We love suggestions. We also love suggestions for guests. If you want to be a guest, if you want to join us, feel free to either e-mail erin@ginzametrics.com or tweet us using #FOUNDFriday or tweet @GinzaMetrics. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

That’s it for this week and we will see you next week.

Ray: Thanks.

Erin: Bye.

Ray: Bye.

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