Inga: Welcome to the weekly “MarTech Braintap,” weekly insights from Marketo consultants in New York. I’m Inga Romanoff.
Robert: And I’m Robert Vo.
Inga: All right. And today, we have a special guest. Boris Bauer and I have actually known each other for a few years. He started TEMPO Strategic, which is a digital agency that’s harnessing technology to master business growth through evidence-based marketing. Every time I speak with Boris, I’m left full of insights. And I’m inspired because it’s just so interesting how you think of technologies, how you think of leveraging them, how you actually stay a bit ahead of the trends. And even though you might be in a traditional space of a digital agency, how innovative you are about combining all these tools to drive the growth. You want to say a couple of words about yourself?
Helping marketers leverage data
Boris: Sure. Good morning. That sounds really nice. Keep going! Well, I think, obviously anybody that is in marketing right now is a decision-maker and is very well aware of the incredible pace that we’re having. The martech stack is getting ever more complex. The decision-makers in marketing, they’re often already working, typically more than 60 to 70 hours a week. And many still have, in my observation, a very siloed approach in marketing, or at least, multiple vendors and reports. So, decision-makers get to the end of the month, they get all these automated PDF reports that everybody dumps on them. And nobody really consolidates all the reporting and insights, and says, “Okay, here’s 40 pages of PDF reports. We looked at this and this is what it means to you. These are the decisions you need to make, these are the actual insights.” So even if they have the data, they’re not leveraging it in real time.
And of course, at the same time, marketing is often under fire from the sales teams who are in the front trenches and see everything and feel everything that marketing is or isn’t doing. They feel it in their salary and their bonus in the end of the year. And they often really don’t or can’t make really the connections to all the fancy stuff that marketing is doing.
Marketers succeed when they bring everybody to the table, when they includes sales, and show how our initiatives impact the deals that they’re trying close. That’s a huge step in working together. But there are clearly still many, many gaps in the process, and that is what we’re trying to fill in.
Helping marketers keep up with changes in digital platforms.
Inga: I’m going to ask you a question later because in our last conversation here in our office, you mentioned something that really piqued my interest about how marketing works for sales. But I wanted to also ask you, how do you…not just hear about the technologies. I actually enjoy reading your blog as well. How do you sort of process that? How do you internalize that? And how do you make decisions on what’s right, how to use it? It seems that you always sort of…I ask you about a technology, how to use it, and you have a very clear understanding how it works, but have a unique way to apply it. How do you keep up with the martech stack and constant innovations in the space?
Boris: Well, everybody has the same tools to their availability. So when people hire us, they’re paying for my expertise, for keeping the tab on what’s going on, on how platforms compare, on what’s coming out. We identify holes in their approach. And say, “Okay, here’s where you have a gap in skill maybe or, the C-suite doesn’t utilize all the data that you have” or, “This is what you could do with your CRM.”
And so, it’s part of my job to constantly keep up. Before we started this recording, we talked about this marketing blog that I’m listening to which is really good, “Perpetual Traffic.” They go in-depth about Facebook. We have Facebook certified planning and buying capabilities in house, so we can do more and more with Facebook as they increase the capabilities. We have a very good relationship with LinkedIn and other platforms. We talk with them about what we need the platform to do. We’ll get on the phone with the developers and ask, “can you give me this feature? Because my client needs it.”
I recently sat together with a company that developed their own programmatic platform, and we basically spent an afternoon discussing everything that’s new and everything that’s coming up. I said, “Okay, give me everything that’s new, what’s happening? Anything that I should bring in to my clients.”
Inga: That’s the real secret.
Boris: Sure. Sometimes, we find like little nuggets ourselves. For instance, Quora.com, the question and answer platform that’s sort of replaced Yahoo Answers. Just two months ago, they opened up a self-serve advertising platform. And we looked into it, looked at the requirements, and we said, “Look, there’s actually one client who always gets fairly high-quality traffic from Quora because they’ve answered a couple of questions. Let’s run the test.” And we shifted a little bit of the budget over, and Quora, right now, is driving as many conversions on the website as Google natural search and we’re paying 10 cents per lead.
Boris: And I told the client, “Look, this is probably because nobody else is playing this right now. The second people figure this out it’s gonna get a lot more crowded and probably more expensive.
If you have a good metric established for the lifetime value of a client is and how much you’re willing to pay for that lead, you’re in a position to test. And we always test for our clients, always. Different things, different platforms, that’s part of our job.
Inga: That’s so interesting.
Helping marketers align digital initiatives with their customer journey.
Robert: I have a question for you. Could you talk a little bit about the natural search again? Because I want our audience to hear your thoughts on how many years or months or weeks it takes to leverage that or really get a sense of how that works and take advantage of it?
Boris: Well natural search is obviously still one of the biggest drivers to anybody’s website. And when you rank well and you have valuable content that you deliver for your clients, it’s probably also the cheapest way of getting leads. Paid search has the big advantage that we can assign a budget, we determine how much you want to spend, we push out the message. It’s instant.
Search takes a long time, but in the end, it’s by far the highest-quality indicator for your positioning as a company. Because people are researching certain topics and you being on the first page of Google communicates to them that you have a authority in your field and expertise. So, you will get a lot of business based on that trust.
But it’s just one part of the marketing. I think many people are still stuck in the old form of search where it’s like, “Oh, I want to rank for this keyword.” But that doesn’t work anymore. This is really about understanding your audience and it’s very classic sales, right?
You have the sales funnel, awareness, interest, consideration, intent, action, right? And for each stage there are marketing tools that work best, with some overlap, of course. For instance, if you wanna drive awareness and interest, you have to push out the message. Search means they want something, and the goal is to get them to get it from you. Once people have come to your website they are nearing the end of the consideration and intent phase. That’s where email marketing automation is clearly a workhorse that delivers. But it’s always surprising to me how people just wanna focus on the best practices and on-site optimization. It needs to be done, but it’s pretty basic, right?
And then, we talk to clients and we say, “Look, have you really worked out your main buyer personas? What are those people that are buying from you like? Let’s get sales to come in and explain the people that make the decisions.” For example, is it always a decision-maker or maybe also procurement that at some point comes in and does some research? So, you need to have that mapped out, so you can say, “Okay, what are those people’s needs? How can we really help them?” If it’s a broad audience or a retail sale, we might put some focus on keyword phrases. But for a complex sale you have to ask “Okay, how can we deliver value content to them?” Out of that,we develop a publishing calendar we discuss with all the teams. Is there an in-store promotion or event that sales knows about that we can push and support? Is there an important buyer in a market we want to influence? Those pieces should inform any channel from email marketing, to pay-per-click, to display, what those topics are, what we want to communicate.
Helping clients identify their real competitors and customers.
If a client has a more comprehensive marketing budget, we start out with an audit where we figure out exactly, what each page is doing well for, who are your real competitors, why do your competitors rank, and what do you have to do in building content to outperform them? Because people will tell us who they think their competitors are based on whatever impressions they’ve built up over time. But online, it’s crystal clear.
Robert: From your experience, what’s the percentage of marketing and sales teams that actually get that right, right, sort of developing the personas? Or do you always go in when they don’t know how to do it?
Boris: I think, in general, what I find is that sales and marketing often have the knowledge, but it’s not really written down and shared, right?
Robert: Right, I’ve seen that.
Boris: They may not call it a persona, but the salespeople can tell me exactly, “Okay, here’s a typical scenario, this and that and this and that.” In marketing, they often come more from like a brand point, branding communications message, they’re focused on what they want customers to know. But once you bring them all together and say, “Okay, let’s just take an image, give that person a name and just use a template for persona creation and fill it in.
Then start to see the overlaps of the personas, what they need, what they need when they first become aware that they have a problem? What information they need when they’re getting interested in solving it or when they start considering you as a platform. The exercise gets everybody in alignment across all the different channels, marketing, and sales.
And then, usually once you get the clients really involved in that very classic user experience, like creating the top three to five personas that we wanna service, like they start realizing how complex it gets and how it informs every single inch of their marketing initiative and sales strategy. Then everybody usually gets really onboard and very excited quickly.
And then, the Holy Grail is when you have a professional platform like Marketo that feeds into Salesforce. And salespersons are there and they log-in in the morning and they see, all of a sudden, somebody that they’re working with, and they can see, “Wow, this guy has been to the website like five times. He looked at this content. He looked at that content. He opened up my emails. He downloaded the white paper and all. He scored now 100 points. So, I should give him a call right now. He’s ready, he’s prime.”
Robert: So, I assume you close that deal. Right.
Boris: I think that’s kind of like the Holy Grail because once the sales team can see our marketing efforts directly impact the deals that they’re trying to close, a business that they’re trying to grow, they’re all onboard, always. I’ve never had anybody come back going, “Nah, doesn’t work for me.”
Robert: That’s very interesting because like Inga and I talk a lot about how sales and marketing is fairly siloed, I mean, a high percentage of the companies that I’ve worked with, consulted with, typically I’m in the room mainly with the marketers. Of course, because when I was at Marketo, that was sort of our key audience, right? But I feel a success perspective when we do involve the sales team at the very beginning. And that’s like you were mentioning, right? That’s kind of a challenge for a lot of organizations right now. But hopefully they’re kind of turning a page on that, turning the corner, and realizing that if they work together, they’re actually working together for their company.
Why we call the company TEMPO
Boris: To your point, our name is TEMPO, and how we came up with it is because it’s all finding the right beat and the right rhythm, and creating harmony. It’s like you can’t have an orchestra play a beautiful piece of music if you don’t have a conductor and they don’t play all together, right? So a lot of our effort is to get everybody that is part of that big orchestra that makes up the company, everybody who is a stakeholder in the sales process and marketing process, get them all together and make sure that there’s an orchestrated harmony whatever the activity.
Take trade shows for an example. Once time we actually had a client who was launching a new company at a convention and walking the floor, and we were tracking leads through Marketo and Salesforce, and were able to call them and say, “Hey, this person at X company is checking you out. They read the white paper. We researched them and they are a potential partner. Go talk to them.”
There’s also so much like offline you can do, event registration, trade shows, proprietary research that you can share. I mean, there’s so much where like, many departments can chime in and really work together, and that’s, I think, still one of the big things that’s missing.
Robert: Do you find that difficult, to convince organizations to kind of be the orchestra, I mean, to actually act like an orchestra?
Boris: I mean, that’s always kind of like our ideal thinking as an agency/consultant, our goal is to help the clients think this way.
Boris: But it sort of like, it depends really on the clients, like what their gaps are, what their budget is, and where their learning curve is. So we’ll say “Okay, let’s have a conversation, figure out exactly where the gaps in your in-house skill-set are.” And then, next we discuss, “Okay, do you wanna bring this in-house or you wanna outsource it until you see the ROI on it and then make a decision?” For example, when we started we offered more social media content. But when Facebook went public and the algorithms changed, the ROI fell to the floor. So we don’t emphasize it as much.
In general, we have to be extremely flexible because our goal is to make it work for each client and they’re all at a different stage. We fill in as much or as little as they want. So it doesn’t help if we say, “No, we gotta be the digital agency of record.” And some of our clients are extremely smart marketers that are just as on top of everything as I am. And they say, “Now, look, this is my game but I really need more help with marketing automation. Will somebody just look in at the analytics and keep tab of all of this?” So we’ll do that for them. Another client said, “We have a great content team, we have our email strategy, but would you guys work with the rest of the team just to do a LinkedIn strategy or maybe LinkedIn and pay-per-click or something like this?” And we’ll happily fill in where the client needs us. There are still start-ups and “grandfathered” situations where we can go in and do everything and set it all up nicely from the start, but for most clients, they’re past that. They’ve got the basics, now they want to improve.
Helping clients use search beyond Google
Robert: We talked a little bit about Google, Facebook, LinkedIn. Are marketers leveraging search elsewhere?
Boris: It’s definitely a big struggle going on right now. The big platforms, for example, Amazon now, I can buy Amazon-purchased data on everything. So, I can say, “Show me everybody that in the last two years has bought books and audiobooks, and paid for any kind of content that is related to getting an MBA or executive education.” And then, I can get that data and the IDs and overlay that with programmatic to serve display ads, right? So it’s interesting because even Amazon that was never a big data player woke up and realized, “Wow, we have 20 years of shopping data.”
LinkedIn certainly has ramped, and I think they’re doing a fantastic job. They dropped a lot of restrictions on budget and they are ramping up the services they offer, the quality of service. And you don’t have to spend a minimum of $20,000 for a quarter any more.
And now, the latest reaction was that Google, in the next version of Chrome, which is like the biggest browser, they’re saying, “We’re gonna have a prebuilt adblocker built-in.” You can see where it’s going. There’s a big phase right now where it’s really about who’ll be dominating the market? So Google might do an adblocker for example, that filters, all Facebook ads, to force you to use Google.
Helping clients with the struggle for content
Boris: Google, it’s this monopoly that has all this information because we all own our Androids and Siri, and use Google Maps, so we’re becoming more and more audio-driven, using natural speech pattern search instead of keywords. So I see our clients always struggle to create more and more content. And it’s hard, right? The second you start to write stuff, every word is like… I just talked yesterday with somebody about this, every word, once it’s written down, has to be tweaked and people get so stressed out, and then the outcome is that like you get out mayb one blog post every three or four weeks, which is certainly, in most cases, not enough.
But yet, at the same time, you can take any expert and let them ramble. My dentist who I’m working with can talk for hours about his expertise. He teaches at Columbia, so he can talk for hours. So we record it, get a transcript and edit it down.
Robert: It sounds like we need to sign them up for our podcast, so they could talk, right?
Boris: We’ll transcribe this, definitely. Because five minutes of conversation is like 3,000 words. Try to write a 3,000 word blog post. And Google said now they’re gonna make their rankings based on the mobile index. So, for the first time, websites are not gonna be evaluated for their desktop content, but for the mobile version. Think about how many mobile websites you still see that have sort of a smaller version of the desktop website. The vast majority of our clients now see 60%, 70% of their traffic coming from either mobile or tablet. So any website we now build, we start with a mobile version. Because that’s 65% of your traffic. And I think that changes everything.
Robert: Do you have like a unique story or customer experience that was unanticipated by…, when you went in, you didn’t anticipate sort of the outcome? But the outcome was like pretty amazing that you felt like, “Wow, okay, that’s pretty cool.” Any experience like that that you wanna share with our audience?
Boris: So, one of our clients is Yale School of Management. We’ve worked with them for a few years. And at some point, we were running some tests called prospecting. We worked with our programmatic partner and said, “Okay, we need to boost results, let’s try something.” And we found some inventory of a company that got acquired by Yahoo. But for some reason, their inventory hadn’t been fully, taken over by Yahoo, so it was basically running ads in the Yahoo inbox. And we started testing it and it was like somebody opened up the floodgates. It was amazing. Once we had a proof of concept that they were high-quality leads at a really good price, we shifted budget over there and ran with it. And then, it changed. It got expensive, Yahoo woke up, whatever. It ran dry.
We’re always trying out something new, . But we love being agile and being able to test…finding something that works and quickly talking to the client to shift the budget and monetize it as much as you can. We keep finding good new sources of driving very high-qualified leads for them.
Inga: I’m listening to this, and thinking “Boris has been in this for more than 15 years, created all kinds of campaigns.” And your method is, we have a conversation, and then we tested, tested, tested. You don’t have a hard answer. Like you said, being agile and nimble is really important not only because things change all the time, but also you kind of have to find that sweet spot.
Robert: So we obviously see a pattern here, it’s just a question if like marketers are really doing a lot of the testing and reviewing the analytics right after the test.
Inga: Yeah, that’s where martech comes in.
Boris: Yeah, because, sometimes you maybe get in fantastic click through rate, but you don’t get the leads. You need to figure out the disconnect. Are people clicking by accident? Typically people interact with an ad, they show intent, right? So, they get to a landing page and somehow they drop off. But if you get the clicks, they clearly show intent but they’re not converting, there’s maybe something wrong with the landing pages, something wrong with the connection between the ad and the landing page or the content that is on the landing page, so you have to keep on it constantly.
Inga: Yep, that’s exactly what I was gonna say. That’s where martech comes in and gives that ability to measure, which then you can modify and optimize constantly.
Inga: All right. Well, it’s been a great conversation. Thank you again.
Boris: My pleasure.
Inga: To connect with Boris, go to tempostrategic.com, TEMPO just like music. And if you have any questions or you would like to join our podcast in the future, text your email at 646-860-5601. Thank you for joining the weekly “MarTech Braintap.”