Speaker 1: (00:01) On this episode of Edge of the Web.
Susan Wenograd: (00:05) Your competition has gotten smarter and they all figured out the same targeting you did, so like everyone started creating a 1% look alike off of people that purchased. So everyone that you’re targeting is probably in like 50 different targeted ad sets, so even at that micro level, it’s just gotten super competitive.
Speaker 1: (00:23) Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trendsetting guests. You’re listening and watching Edge of the Web. Winners of best podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Hear and see more EdgeoftheWebRadio.com. Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.
Erin Sparks: (00:45) We want to introduce our listeners to Susan, and for our listeners, if you hadn’t heard our interview with Susan a while back, go that out because it was really fun. We had a great time. She is the VP of marketing strategy over at Aimclear. She also oversees integrated paid marketing strategies for Aimclear, Aimclear accounts, represents Aimclear by writing and speaking on tactic strategy and case studies of solutions that they’ve been able to implement for their clients. She’s also been a speaker and a columnist who speaks at industry events and company events including SMX, PubCon, Digital Summit Series, Brighton SEO PBC HeroCom, State of Search, and other events. So Susan has been an incredible contributor into the education space of marketing in general, digital marketing and specific social marketing even more specific.
Erin Sparks: (01:32) And we certainly appreciate her coming back onboard to share some words of wisdom. Susan, thanks so much.
Susan Wenograd: (01:38) Absolutely. I’m happy to be here. Interesting to do it at a little over a year since I was there, how much has changed. So the timing was great.
Erin Sparks: (01:47)
And we also touched base with you here because you just gave a presentation over at SMX, advanced, to be able to talk about social media ads, and what’s changing them in the ecosystem here. But first and foremost, can you tell our listeners your backstory of how you got involved in the digital marketing?
Susan Wenograd: (02:05) Absolutely. I actually started on circuitcity.com, rest in peace it’s no longer there. [crosstalk 00:02:11].
Erin Sparks: (02:11) That was a great store, man. That was a great store.
Susan Wenograd: (02:15) I know. I started there as a writer, and I didn’t know anything about websites. Like I had no clue how they worked, I didn’t know what SEO was. And so I kind of got my feet wet there, and I was promoted to an editor. And I started working on the content for their email marketing. And it blew my mind you could see how many people opened the email, and how many people clicked, and what they clicked on. And I was hooked.
Susan Wenograd: (02:37) Like from the second that I discovered that I was like, forget writing, I want to do marketing. So I actually wound up taking over their retention email campaign. So it was worth like $65 million in revenue, I was like 26.
Erin Sparks: (02:50) Oh wow.
Susan Wenograd: (02:51) It was like the wild west days where they’re like, ah it’s this weird e-commerce stuff we’ll just give it to the kids.
Erin Sparks: (02:56) This new fangled thing.
Susan Wenograd: (02:58) Yeah, exactly. But I got to do all kinds of cool stuff, like launch their first abandoned cart email, and run their newsletter content and all that stuff. So that was where I started. During that time I started getting pings from places that wanted freelance work, and they were asking if I knew anything about those ads that appeared on Google. And I really didn’t, but it was a perfect melding of my background because it was words and writing, and marketing metrics.
Susan Wenograd: (03:23) So I started messing around with it and found out I was good at it, and I really enjoyed learning about search intent and conversion rate optimization, and why people clicked on what they do, and why they buy what they buy. So I focused pretty heavily in that for a lot of years, and actually when I first started speaking that was what I spoke about.
Susan Wenograd: (03:40) And then I took the job where I had to learn Facebook advertising, and this was back in 2014, 2013, so it was-
Erin Sparks: (03:47) The early days of Facebook ads.
Susan Wenograd: (03:48) Yeah. It was so much easier. I had to learn about that and I found that even more interesting because it brought in that creative angle that I was really missing on the paid search side, because it was just all text ads.
Erin Sparks: (03:59) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (03:59) And so I loved that there was imagery and copy and Facebook, one of the things they do really well is iterate those ad units to really get attention and understand how users interact with things.
Erin Sparks: (04:11) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (04:12) So I just went all in on that because there weren’t a lot of experts out there that were really good at it. And I just found it super interesting, so that was where I started focusing my time. But I did a lot of paid search and integrated stuff for all kinds of brands. A few different agencies, I was solo for a while. Shen I talked to you guys last year I was operating as a consultant for a bit. So kind of done a little bit of everything. I’ve been in-house in agency.
Susan Wenograd: (04:33) And paid media is just always kind of been where I felt the most comfortable. And I just think it’s getting more and more interesting. Like more and more people are finding it hard, and I’m like, no, this is where it gets good. This is the fun part. So I’m enjoying the challenge.
Erin Sparks: (04:45) But, I mean to your credit, we’re seeing a very very nuanced [inaudible 00:04:54] industry of specialists in these particular ad platforms. You don’t have to be now a jack of all trades in the ad space, in fact, it can actually be a detriment if you’re not really dialing into a particular platform. And that’s what you did, and you’ve been doing that for a number of years on the Facebook side.
Erin Sparks: (05:10) And that’s where there’s almost like this thermo layer of creativity and productivity is that you have social ads, kind of touching the surface of some ROI, some success. You can get another layer there of remarketing, what have you, but if you really dial it in, and you only should be specializing in that. And it comes with a huge bounty as soon as you get that focus, right?
Susan Wenograd: (05:35) Yeah. And I think the thing is too, is it’s like the only reason why I feel pretty equally adept at paid search and Facebook ads, but the only reason is because I started as long ago as I did.
Erin Sparks: (05:46) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (05:46) If I was starting today, I wouldn’t be able to learn for then one platform probably. It’s just too hard, they all have so many nuances. And even on the paid search side, there’s still things that change, that I learn about at like a few weeks later than I probably would have a few years ago, just because I’m in the Facebook piece so much. But I don’t know how anybody could jump in and be an expert in all of them at this point.
Susan Wenograd: (06:09) They all have different strengths, different quirks, different creative formats. Just all of it’s so different from channel to channel. It’s really hard to know all of them very well.
Erin Sparks: (06:19) Yeah you’re absolutely right, but there does need to be kind of not only an appreciation, but there as to be a reference to cross-platform attribution because your consumer’s not just in Facebook. Your consumer’s going to be interacting with all the other mediums, all the other advertising platforms, so there has to be consistency across the board. And that’s part of what you were talking about in your SMX presentation.
Erin Sparks: (06:41) Catching up with you, your presentation was Smarter Selling With Facebook Ads, 2019 and Beyond. So what happened in the world of social media ads? I thought the gold rush was still happening and successful ROI was soaring. What happened?
Susan Wenograd: (06:55) There are a few things that happened. With Facebook ads they ran out of inventory in their news feed a couple years ago now. And so they had warned advertisers, like hey there’s no more. So they’ve been trying to innovate around that, and acquiring Instagram was probably the bests move they ever made. That’s really helped with that problem. But they’ve tried to create pockets. Like there’s ad units in messenger, and there’s ad units in marketplace.
Susan Wenograd: (07:21)
So they’re making these small gains where they’re trying to offset the inventory problem. So the inventory has been an issue, but the other thing that’s happened is that there’s always this tendency, and I mean it was like this with paid search in the early days. That when there’s a new paid platform and competition is low, it’s very easy for it to be like the magic jackpot machine. Where you put in money, and you get money out. And it is not that difficult to do because there’s just not a lot of competition.
Susan Wenograd: (07:46) So it wasn’t as hard to win in Facebook ads because most businesses kind of really didn’t know how to do them well. Their creative sort of sucked, and so if you just had a few steps to gain ahead of a competitor, you’d do great. The problem is, now, people have gotten really smart about what works on Facebook, what doesn’t, they’re innovating a lot faster. So the competition has ratcheted up times a million.
Susan Wenograd: (08:13) So you got this environment where there’s humongous demand, there is static supply, your competition has gotten smarter. And they all figured out the same targeting you did. So everyone started creating a 1% look-a-like off of people that purchased.
Erin Sparks: (08:25) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (08:26) So everyone that you’re targeting is probably in like 50 different targeted ad sets. So even at that micro level, it’s just gotten super competitive. It’s just been a challenge I think, we’ve really started to notice it like last spring. Things that had operated very reliably started to have major erosion, especially in the e-commerce space.
Susan Wenograd: (08:49) We started to see things that had always been like mid 300s in return on spend dropping to like mid 200s, low 200s.
Erin Sparks: (08:55) Oh wow.
Susan Wenograd: (08:57) Yeah, so the things is though, is that I think part of the problem is that people were used to much faster sales, and I think that’s the third part of the equation is that because there was less competition, people were like oh cool product I’ll buy that. Well now they’re seeing 50 cool products a day on Facebook, and they’re like whoa I just like … They’re getting blind to it.
Erin Sparks: (09:17) Yeah.
Susan Wenograd: (09:18) So [inaudible 00:09:19] cycles are taking a lot longer than they used to because you’re kind of stepping over all these competitors who get the person to recognize your product. So you’re having to talk to them so much longer, and for so much more frequently that advertisers and brands haven’t adjusted their patience level for that. It’s like they run something they’re like, we ran it for a week and it didn’t work.
Susan Wenograd: (09:40) And it’s like, yeah but it worked within a week a year ago, but now you have to run it like two to three times as long. So we just have this short attention span and this short patience because we got really spoiled by how well it worked out of the gate, and now that it doesn’t people just kind of assume it doesn’t work at all. But it’s just about expectation management.
Erin Sparks: (10:00) Well, I want to talk about the maturity of the marketing, the marketing departments of … And just in general different marketing brands. But before that I want to talk about the users. The users, us all being users, there’s been an evolution, right? There’s been a [inaudible 00:10:18] change of guard, so to speak, is that users are like you said, they’re getting saturated with so much information. But you talk about user burnout and ad blindness.
Erin Sparks: (10:30) So, we got users that they’ll have their own favorite platform, and they’re getting inundated and burnt out on ads and on top of that they’re getting burnout on ads from marketing that doesn’t change. That don’t go deeper into their own buyers journey. Right?
Susan Wenograd: (10:48) Yeah.
Erin Sparks: (10:48) But are they also getting burnt out because of all the other ad platforms that they’re just getting inundated. Now that they’re seeing so much, it’s almost like a glut of advertising, that anything that again like you said, was effective on that particular platform, you have these additional variables of other ad platforms that were kind of in their own space, all clouding and numbing that user now.
Susan Wenograd: (11:14) Yeah, and tied to that I think the other thing that you see a lot of, that ends up permeating all the platforms is, someone will figure out something like when the first person figured out that, hey emojis work well for click through rate. And that stuff spreads around. And because someone sees a case study, and so then everyone starts doing it. And everyone starts using Bitly links in the body copy instead of the headline.
Susan Wenograd: (11:39) You know there’s all these small things that even video styles. I mean you’ll start seeing, you know there’s like for a while, and I think they’re kind of fading out, but you’ve had the bar on the top, the bar on the bottom. There’d be the video in the middle and there’d be like emojis and a headline. Even the formats of the videos, of how they did the creative started to all look the same between all the advertisers. Because they’d be like, they’d look at what they’re competitor was doing.
Erin Sparks: (12:03) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (12:03) And say, oh we should be doing that. And then it’s like this ripple effect where they all start doing it.
Erin Sparks: (12:08) It’s like [inaudible 00:12:09] in marketing is-
Susan Wenograd: (12:10) It totally is. It totally is. And so it just ends up being where people can’t even distinguish between brands because they’re all using the same type of creative, they’re going to all these different platforms and still seeing the same type of creative. So there’s just this dilution of brands because they’re all so busy focusing on what the other one is doing.
Erin Sparks: (12:30) Okay, and that means that there’s no true marketing strategy, it’s just mirroring what you’re seeing out there.
Susan Wenograd: (12:36) Yes.
Erin Sparks: (12:36) So you’re paying attention to your competitor, and there’s no guarantee that that’s actually working for them.
Susan Wenograd: (12:44) That’s why I’m like, you don’t know that it’s working for them.
Erin Sparks: (12:44) It’s like fricking lemmings, right? They’re all falling off the cliff.
Susan Wenograd: (12:47) Well and I was talking to a friend in the industry this morning. And we were saying, one of the things that I think still really plagues paid media managers is that there can be this expectation with brands that if they just throw money at it, it’ll fix it. And the fact of the matter is, if you don’t have a good marketing plan, and you don’t have a long term vision for how you’re going to build brand recognition, you’ll never get off the paid media treadmill.
Susan Wenograd: (13:12) You will always be beholden to what’s your return on spend did this day or this week? Because you don’t have anything building a foundation that’s going to go longer for you.
Erin Sparks: (13:21) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (13:21) And that’s one of the things that we’re very big on measuring at Aimclear, is we’re big believers because we have the data and we’ve done it, of showing what staying present in social in front of a brand will do to things like your brand search and your direct traffic. Because there are these halo signals that happen when you stay in front of users. It’s not different than TV commercials or anything else, it’s the same idea.
Susan Wenograd: (13:45) But we’re so conditioned to brands thinking that paid media has to be this direct response medium and that’s all it’s good for. It’s still a very old school way of thinking. And so that’s been something that we focused on super heavily is building out the data capabilities and our ability to report on those things so that clients understand like, this is incrementally what is happening to your brand. Because we’ve just seen so many brands end up failing, or just again becoming beholden to what the algorithm does that day. It’s just not a way to build a longterm business.
Erin Sparks: (14:13) Yeah, absolutely. So I want to unpack that maturation model for businesses. The last point I want to ask about user is that, are users now pushing more away from like a hard push, call to action? Are they looking for that brand relationship more?
Susan Wenograd: (14:33) I feel like they are, and the reason I say … And this is anecdotal again, I mean this is Susan’s scientific gut theory.
Erin Sparks: (14:41) Dot com.
Susan Wenograd: (14:41) Just not really scientific. But what’s interesting is that you still see good engagement on things that aren’t necessarily hard selling. So especially that kind of squishy middle of the funnel area, where it’s like they’ve been to your site, they’re probably not ready to buy yet. But if you have really compelling content in the mean time to stay in front of them, we see really great strong engagement with that. And in fact one of the things I still see work very well on Facebook is to optimize for engagement first, and then re-market to people that engaged with your content or your ad unit.
Susan Wenograd: (15:17) That actually still is a funnel that works really well for me. But it also capitalizes on the fact that you’re staying in front of these people for very low cost. Because the other problem you run into is if every campaign you run is optimizing towards a conversion, it’s a super expensive CPM. I mean, that’s the most expensive media that Facebook’s got. And it’s not always the most effective. I mean you’re asking Facebook to kind of guess, like hey who’s going to buy my thing within 28 days? Or whatever your attribution window is.
Susan Wenograd: (15:44) So the nice thing about some of the other campaign types are that they get that user along on that buying path, it’s just that it’s misaligned with how brands want to measure. They still keep wanting to measure, did it have return on spend this day or within three days? But if you look at the actual things like engagement metrics, they still do very well. So people will still interact and watch stuff. It’s just there’s just this hyper focus still on direct response that I think takes away from the role that those things play.
Erin Sparks: (16:16) All right, so let’s get into that. Let’s talk about how marketing teams can mature that. Because you’re missing so much if you’re just looking at the conversion model. So you talk about brand lift, and I’m wondering, are we still … A little editorial come out, I still think we are actually binary marketers, like you’re talking about. It’s black or white, it’s either in the bucket or they’re not. Right?
Susan Wenograd: (16:42) Yes. Yeah.
Erin Sparks: (16:42) So are we able to expand, or embrace our view of marketing data to view this behavioral now? Because what you’re really talking about is mapping user behavior, in particular archetypes that you can rely on, right?
Susan Wenograd: (16:56) Yes.
Erin Sparks: (16:57) And all of the different mediums have different trigger points, different key … Well not key performance … Or key performance indicators, but it’s removed from that transaction. They’re still making transactions, they’re making these micro transactions.
Susan Wenograd: (17:11) Yes.
Erin Sparks: (17:11) And there has to be some consistency of how we actually measure that as well. There was a sprout social study of a number of different marketers, and they said the majority of the marketers actually … 72% count a social media post likes or comments as engagement. And 62% include shares or retweets. About 60% count interaction with consumers, they count it as social media engagement, but across platforms they weren’t seeing the same thing. So we got to get our game straight of even how to measure that behavioral set of triggers, right?
Susan Wenograd: (17:47) Yeah. And I think the thing is too is that because each platform does things well differently, having an understanding of what each one does well, but making sure you follow that user as they go to other places is super important. So the example that I usually give is like, the LinkedIn world is so expensive, right? Everyone’s like, oh my God it’s like cost prohibitive, it’s so expensive.
Erin Sparks: (18:09) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (18:09) That’s one of those platforms where I’m like, if all you do is measure it by whether you sold your enterprise level software from it, you’re never going to find an ROI. And people are like yeah, but still it costs like $30 a click. But what’s funny is that those are usually the same advertisers where they never talk to those people again.
Erin Sparks: (18:30) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (18:31) They’re like, I spent this money and they didn’t download my white paper. I’m like, so you didn’t re-market to them anywhere. And I think some of it’s just kind of overwhelming. So one of the things that I really encourage digital marketers to do is just UTM, tag the hell out of everything. Like just UTM everything to death. And even if you don’t use it, or you do. Like LinkedIn’s a great example.
Susan Wenograd: (18:53) If I’m going to pay $30 to send someone to my site, I just bought some really great data. Like I know they’re job title. I know what industry they work in. There’s so much I know about them that I don’t know in Google Analytics. So if I UTM tag them, I’m going to pop right into Facebook and I’m going to create a custom audience with the UTM tagging. Because then as they come into Facebook I know exactly what to show the. I know if they’re a decision maker. I know what they care about.
Susan Wenograd: (19:20) So there’s all this data too, like you kind of said, where it’s not just what they do, but how you’re able to target the user. That each platform kind of does each thing really well. But if you don’t leverage it across them you’re still going to be stuck in these separate sandboxes that don’t talk to each other, and you’re going to be like, well LinkedIn doesn’t work. And it’s like, yeah it does, but it’s a six month selling cycle. So you have to figure out how to tag these people and be present in other places for them.
Erin Sparks: (19:46) So you’re-
Susan Wenograd: (19:47) I feel like that’s one of the biggest missing pieces right now.
Erin Sparks: (19:49) Absolutely. And for those playing at home if you don’t know what UTM tag, and we certainly have a number of shows regarding that, but it’s literally you’re categorizing your content, categorizing your message, categorizing the medium so you can then have that type of research. And that’s a very good statement, you’re not buying that user’s transaction, you’re buying their data.
Susan Wenograd: (20:09) Yes.
Erin Sparks: (20:09) And that’s an incredibly valuable as long as you have the ability to siphon that off and position that in not only back into that same advertising campaign, but also having it structured that you can pick it up and translate that almost like an XML gateway to be able to push it over to another platform, right?
Susan Wenograd: (20:28) Absolutely, yeah. And that’s one of the things that we’ve looked at too is when people are like, gosh Facebook took away all this great targeting. Yeah but programmatic still has it. You know, so it’s like you need to adapt. So is the creative as compelling on programmatic? No, but you’re able to get such a specific subset of people that if you could make your creative just interesting enough to get them to click through, now you’ve got them. Now you can re-target them on Facebook. You can re-target them on Pinterest, you can re-target them wherever because you UTM tagged them.
Susan Wenograd: (20:55) So if you can go into it knowing two things, one is that your job is to build remarketing tools. Like that is your job as a marketing-
Erin Sparks: (21:03) Amen.
Susan Wenograd: (21:03) -you are to build remarketing. That’s what you do.
Erin Sparks: (21:07) Preach it.
Susan Wenograd: (21:09) And then secondly just know that the money you’re spending, some of it’s to buy data. And that’s what’s going to bring you success later. It’s [crosstalk 00:21:17].
Erin Sparks: (21:17) You’re investing in yourself, absolutely.
Susan Wenograd: (21:19) -the pressure of like, did we hit goals today? It’s like, you will, but it’s going to get so much easier later if you treat this as a data buying exercise first.
Erin Sparks: (21:28) You mention in your presentation the other factors of brand lift that you should measure, direct traffic, paid brand traffic explicitly.
Susan Wenograd: (21:37) Yes.
Erin Sparks: (21:38) But there’s also other factors to be aware of, and that’s the reading time. Right? On the page. If you’re rolling out polls or surveys, the returning visitor, right?
Susan Wenograd: (21:50) Yes.
Erin Sparks: (21:50) Making sure that you’re paying attention to that because not only from a remarketing standpoint, but those are brand signals that you’re doing something right. But ultimately, it all comes back down to the destination, which is the content on that page, the creativity, and the messaging, and the utilitarian aspect, is this useful for that consumer? Because if they’re still getting a hard press, a hard push, right? You’re breaking all of that learning system because you didn’t think through what that final brand communication was.
Susan Wenograd: (22:22) What they care about.
Erin Sparks: (22:22) Yeah.
Susan Wenograd: (22:22) Absolutely.
Erin Sparks: (22:24) So shifting the campaign and then you really rolled into the creative being at the heart of everything. This is what we’re kind of going into here. Creating compelling creative, and that’s also I think you probably are of the same opinion, that’s one of the areas that are the least invested sometimes from the AB testing and the change of messaging to meet those buyers where they are. It’s almost like, okay we’ve done [inaudible 00:22:54] creative and it didn’t work, therefore we’ll just change the entire concept, right?
Susan Wenograd: (22:58) Yes. Yeah, and I think some of that comes from the fact that a lot of agencies that are running this stuff, they’re heavy in media buying, they’re not necessarily heavily in creative. So I think sometimes it’s a struggle because the person that’s managing your paid media might be amazing at numbers, and more tedious technical aspects, but they might not be a creative person.
Susan Wenograd: (23:19) So that can create, I think angst a lot, because if they just have limited creative ideas and they push them out and they don’t work, then it’s kind of like okay is the medium just not working? Is our targeting wrong? And almost every time a lot of us say this, it’s like when you just get the creative right you’re going to find that you’re targeting is probably correct. If it’s not working, it’s usually not a targeting thing, it’s usually a messaging and creative piece.
Susan Wenograd: (23:44) But it’s not something that’s really been built into us because we didn’t have to for a really long time. And I think there’s a big distinction between people that are kind of the more soft and feeling and creative type marketers, versus the people that are the media buyers. But a lot of times we’re called upon to do both jobs. And that’s a challenge.
Erin Sparks: (24:01) And I mean a core of this, all marketers, wherever you are in the creative side or the media buying, have to incorporate their inner data scientist. They have to pull that in. So from a creative standpoint, you got to be able to UTM the different aspects of your art. Different aspects of your creative. Otherwise you can’t tell the difference of what’s happening, it just falls like a thunk because you were looking at some sort of conversion metric, and you weren’t looking at what the signals were from your audience. Right?
Susan Wenograd: (24:33) Exactly. And what you’re expecting the creative to do. I mean people, like they’ll run video and be like, oh we ran this video and it didn’t sell anything. But then you look at the watch stats, you’re like, but people watched 100% of it. It did its job. You know what I mean? It’s like they’re relying on the creative sometimes to do more than it’s capable of doing on its own.
Susan Wenograd: (24:51) Kind of like relying on a single ad to just sell your stuff when no one’s ever heard of you. It’s the same thing. So you’re kind of like, no, the video actually did its job but you have to followup appropriately because you got their attention. But there’s just this expectation it’s like, well I got their attention and they didn’t buy. It’s like, right, you’re going to have to ask them a few times-
Erin Sparks: (25:09) Yeah, do a few more steps.
Susan Wenograd: (25:11) Yeah.
Erin Sparks: (25:12) Are you going to buy … Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes, right? It’s a rarity except when they’re like Batman product, because I’ll buy it in a heartbeat. But, it’s a rarity-
Susan Wenograd: (25:23) We all have those weaknesses, that’s just [crosstalk 00:25:24].
Erin Sparks: (25:24) We really do. It’s a vice. I could have worse vices. But I mean literally how often are you going to buy right there from that video? It goes into your consideration pile, right?
Susan Wenograd: (25:36) Right.
Erin Sparks: (25:37) So you see that Roomba and you see the other three possible Roomba’s that you’re thinking about buying because you really want to get the house clean, right? So you’re not going to buy right there, you’re still going to be comparing them. And probably come back to that video multiple times, that’s why you can save videos in Facebook, guys.
Susan Wenograd: (25:54) Right. And that’s also why the UTM piece of it’s so important because then you go into something like Google Ads where if I go into Analytics and I create separate audiences based on what they viewed on Facebook and what they were targeted. And then I pull them in as remarketing audiences on the search side, I have great visibility into these people went on to search these things, and I bid more on them because I know they already saw my video, so I want to stay present.
Susan Wenograd: (26:18) They’re just basic cross channel stuff like that, that I think part of it’s hard because sometimes it’s not the same team managing it. I mean, there are a lot of instances where brands will have one set of places managing the search, one set of places managing the paid social. Sometimes they’re trying to compete for the same ad dollars. Like there’s a lot of reasons why those things don’t get done. Sometimes it’s an internal thing where they’re just siloed, like the paid social lives with the social people. And paid search is over here in nary to the two meet.
Susan Wenograd: (26:44) But that’s really where the true power is, like that’s really where we see brands start firing on all cylinders is when they really integrate that stuff. So it’s difficult when it’s just like a politics issue or a people problem, because you’re like, you’re standing in the way … Like you have the holy grail, you have al this traffic on both sides but you’re just not putting all the pieces together.
Erin Sparks: (27:03) Yeah, you have to connect the dots and be able to talk to each other. And share that data, because you’re capitalizing on the learning model. And we’ve talked about machine learning here on the show, a number of different shows. And that’s part of that is mapping your learning model so you can leverage the machine learning tools, right?
Susan Wenograd: (27:23) Yup.
Erin Sparks: (27:23) And you have to be able to all speak from that data scientist mindset, creative or otherwise. You got to dig in there. You said in your presentation, brands and agencies cannot execute it … that can’t execute and be nimble on creative will not survive in Facebook and the Instagram landscape.
Susan Wenograd: (27:42) Yup. I am a big believer in that. It’s happening already where things like … And we’re still seeing really good pretty instant results with Instagram stories. Shout out to Andrew Foxwell who’s just super brilliant, he’s so amazing at this stuff. And he actually helped me with Instagram stories because I’m like, I don’t get them. I feel like I’m old, but I was struggling to create decent ads in them. And he took the time to go through it with me. And the second I did, I immediately started seeing results.
Erin Sparks: (28:15) Oh wow.
Susan Wenograd: (28:16) But the thing is, A, they’re time consuming. So they do take longer to create than a newsfeed ad. And they give great results, but they do burn out quickly. So you have to be ready to change them out. So there’s a time consumption piece that goes along with that. So when I say that they have to be able to adapt and be nimble, it’s like A, they have to have the creativity. But B, they have to be ready to like pretty rapid fire execute it. Because as soon as something starts failing, they have to have something ready in the hopper to push back out.
Susan Wenograd: (28:44) Because from what I’m seeing, the story stuff, people last for about a week, week and a half, and then you start seeing a decline.
Erin Sparks: (28:51) Oh wow.
Susan Wenograd: (28:51) Yeah, it’s pretty quick. But they work great. Like the return’s fabulous, it’s just it’s very time consuming to keep up on that treadmill of creativity. So that’s where I think the agencies that either have in-house capability or partner with the right people have a really distinct edge because that’s what’s going to keep them fresh.
Susan Wenograd: (29:09) And I think things like stories, you know for those of us that are number nerds, it’s even harder because now you’re dealing with landscape versus portrait, and vertical, and how it’s cropped, and the stickers they have. And you can have polls and different fonts and different colors. Like it’s just … it’s crazy. So it’s like, I kind of tend to be both left and right brained, so I can get my way through it, but I feel for my friends that are really media centric people because they’re like, do I need to put stickers on stuff? This is taking me forever.
Erin Sparks: (29:39) Oh wow.
Susan Wenograd: (29:40) They just want to push stuff out and get results. So I think that’s going to be a major differentiating factor of a lot of agencies as we go forward.
Erin Sparks: (29:47) And that’s the difference is that you got to specialize in those particular platforms, but you still have to be able to try to translate what you’re doing into UTMs so you can actually feed data back to the other platforms. Now you’re not going to be-
Susan Wenograd: (30:00) Yeah absolutely.
Erin Sparks: (30:01) You’re not going to be seeing stickers show up on the LinkedIn ads, yeah we get that.
Susan Wenograd: (30:05) Correct.
Erin Sparks: (30:06) But, I mean there’s this construct that you have to start building for this inter relationship between ad platforms. So you talk about compelling engagements. I want to ask one quick question, do you think that there is the factor of negative brand experience for users that are seeing the poorly developed ads, or the poorly executed ads in context of all the other ads that they’re seeing? Do you actually think that these brands can also run the risk of just nose diving if they’re not maturing and being agile about their creative?
Susan Wenograd: (30:40) Yeah, I think more often though, you see it as the advertiser with just declining engagement. I don’t know that people necessarily take the time … Usually the negative comments you see are because they don’t like the brand, or they feel like the copy’s manipulative. Like it’s usually something directly about that as opposed to feeling like it’s just a rehash of something else.
Erin Sparks: (30:59) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (31:00) But where you will see that happening is when you look at things like your engagement rate. And Facebook has this stuff that tells you how you’re doing versus the average when it comes to engagement or return, or that kind of stuff.
Erin Sparks: (31:11) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (31:12) So I think those are really good quality indicators for, am I just screwing this up? Am I not hitting the mark? If you know how to read those metrics, and kind of like you and I said, is the creative doing what it’s supposed to be doing? Is really the question. If it’s not, something’s off. You know it’s like if your messaging’s wrong, the visuals aren’t compelling, I think that’s where you see that data come back to you.
Erin Sparks: (31:34) So they’re not flying, they’re playing to a cliff, or to a wall. But at the same time, if they’re not paying attention to the data, then those are kind of more softer signals from the consumers-
Susan Wenograd: (31:48) And you’ll see reach drop. You know if it’s not doing well, it’s like usually you’ll spike out after two to three days, and then sometimes it just won’t even spend the budget. Or you’ll look and see where it’s serving it and you can kind of tell it’s serving it in like remnant inventory and the industry mads, like you can kind of tell you’re not getting filet mignon placement. If you see that happening. So there’s signals like that, that you really have to look for.
Erin Sparks: (32:10) Got it. Now, circling back around. You talk about the funnel, the Facebook funnel. You also opened up the entire concept of the cold, warm, and hot lead generation. Well, the cold and warm are rarely getting the due focus that they deserve. Can you expand upon that just a little bit?
Susan Wenograd: (32:32) Yeah, so I think a lot of time, and I see it in so many accounts I go into, where they’ll be targeting what they believe to be cold traffic, but when you look at it, and they’ll be like oh this one’s doing so great. We’re getting this great return. And you go in and you see that they have not excluded remarketing audiences. So the first thing I’ll say is, okay we need to exclude everybody that’s visited your site in the past 30 days. We’ll still target them, but they’re going to be in a separate group.
Erin Sparks: (32:57) Yup.
Susan Wenograd: (32:58) And then once they do that they see that they’re actually getting like no sales from the top of funnel.
Erin Sparks: (33:03) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (33:03) Effort.
Erin Sparks: (33:05)It’s like we talk about [crosstalk 00:33:06] nepotism a little bit earlier. Literally. Oh wow.
Susan Wenograd: (33:10) Yeah, so and I think some agencies probably do that knowingly. And sometimes it’s just a genuinely like it’s someone that’s running it that doesn’t know. And it’s not something that would occur to you, and Facebook certainly doesn’t encourage you to separate them because it makes them look amazing. But the thing that it’s always good though is even though it’s a painful thing to go through, it illustrates to people, it resets those expectations.
Susan Wenograd: (33:35) Because you’re showing them, look, no, you’re not getting a 5X return from cold traffic. You are getting it from remarketing which is not a bad thing because it means that you are selling something that they want. But what it does mean is that A, we have to get that brand awareness to be cheaper. Like we don’t want to be paying a $15 CPM to talk to people that don’t know who we are. I want to be paying $5 bucks, I don’t want to be paying 15.
Susan Wenograd: (33:57) So it enables you to have that conversation, so it’s like a painful lesson at first, but then it’s like the good news is you have something that someone is buying. And when you follow up with them they do buy it, so there’s nothing wrong with the conversion piece.
Erin Sparks: (34:11) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (34:12) But it’s just that you’re always going to have a limited audience if you’re not refilling the top of the funnel with the right people.
Erin Sparks: (34:18) You’re dealing with tainted data at that point in time.
Susan Wenograd: (34:19) Yeah. You’re not looking at what you think you’re looking at.
Erin Sparks: (34:22) You can’t steer from that. So it’s better to have non-transactional data, clean lines, to be able to try out and test your message. Because otherwise you’re never going to get out of your own echo chamber, right?
Susan Wenograd: (34:37) Exactly. And that’s also the problem that I run into is people are like, I can’t scale. And I’m like, because the bottom of your funnel is finite. Unless you make the bottom of that funnel larger, you’re always going to be stuck with the same 3% conversion rate, and your audience is only this big. So it’s only ever going to be that many people, unless you’re taking some of that and re-funneling it into the top.
Susan Wenograd: (34:57) And that’s usually the part that’s hardest for people because there’s that waiting period again. Where they’re like, well I used to be able to put money in, and I got results. And it’s like, well we’re still doing that, but these are the results that are going to bake and come out two weeks from now. So there’s managing that expectation of like, yes we are deliberately spending this money top of funnel, not expecting it to convert today. That’s still very hard for people, and I think some of that’s just also leftover from the paid search culture that was really the first paid media that existed.
Susan Wenograd: (35:23) Like they’re just used to bottom of funnel, that’s what just people are very accustomed to that. [crosstalk 00:35:28]-
Erin Sparks: (35:27) -very rudimentary concept. And we’re in a much more mature environment, the tools are there, the machine learning’s there. Like I said, you got to get your scientist hat on and get in there. And on top of that the sea level has to appreciate that next level of complexity because that’s when you’re really tracking with that consumer all the way through.
Erin Sparks: (35:50) So do you have a favorite tracking tools, UTM tracking tools, as well as behavior modeling tools that you’d love to share with our audience?
Susan Wenograd: (36:02) I hate to be one of those people to plug our own agency, but we actually build all that custom.
Erin Sparks: (36:06) Ah, cool.
Susan Wenograd: (36:08) Because we have a data scientist, we have a dev group that that’s all they do, they build amazing reporting. We use Looker to build all our reportings, so we can literally plug into any API.
Erin Sparks: (36:20) Oh cool.
Susan Wenograd: (36:21) But what we found is that we looked at a lot of the standard platforms and a lot of them don’t do that cross-channel analysis very well. Like they’ll report on each channel, and you can combine all your paid medias and see your overall ROAS and all that stuff, but it doesn’t really give you a lot of information. And we have ones that aren’t D2C where the buying cycle’s so much longer. So like longterm enterprise sale B2B SAS, they’re like eight months, 10 months to buy.
Erin Sparks: (36:52) Geez.
Susan Wenograd: (36:53) Just relying on the tools that were out there, it just doesn’t get us there. So we’ve done a lot of modeling off of Sales Force, understanding how long it takes to get from lead to MQL, MQL to SQL by each product line. And backing that into the math to figure out, okay it might take eight months, but we have the math to know that way back in the beginning this is how much we can afford to pay for a lead.
Susan Wenograd: (37:16) But we never found a platform that did that well, so we just build it ourselves. And it’s so different for every client that we were like, one size fits all, we can’t use the same thing for like a B2C as we could for like an eight month sale B2B. You know? So we just couldn’t find anything that did all those things, and we service clients from all over like that.
Erin Sparks: (37:36) Right.
Susan Wenograd: (37:36) So we just wound up building our own team, and that’s really where we’ve pushed our chips in the middle of the table, that and creative. Because we’re like those are the two areas that we constantly see problems with. That’s always where the gaps are when we take over accounts.
Erin Sparks: (37:48) That’s interesting, we’re hearing that more and more as we interview different marketers such as yourself, is that … And we’ve known that for a while, there’s only so far that these tools can take us. And then you are actually building your own recipe of how you do your marketing, how you do your data tracking. So you can still get a good feed from these tools, but when it gets down to it, you’re going to have to build your own to be able to-
Susan Wenograd: (38:11) Yeah, you wind up having to customize it. And I mean for a while when I was a consultant I used Ad Stage, and they’re fantastic, I really loved them for the work I had. And for what they do, they do great. And they’re starting to integrate a lot of those capabilities where you can have like a customized setup where they’ll work with you on that. So I think that tools are starting to come around, but I empathize because it’s not something that’s easily scalable.
Susan Wenograd: (38:33) And for a lot of them it has to be something that serves the majority, that’s going to be scalable as more platforms and stuff come on. And when you have to make it that specific to a client it’s not something that I think that they necessarily want to get into, because it’s just not going to be profitable for them.
Erin Sparks: (38:46) Nope.
Susan Wenograd: (38:47) So I empathize, like I understand why there’s not a one size fits all tool, but I think it definitely puts the pressure on agencies to be like, you got to step it up and you can’t just be adjusting bids and expect to grow a humongous agency at this point.
Erin Sparks: (39:00) No, and on top of that an agency that does, that has to invest in the ongoing learning of the platforms that are constantly changing out there.
Susan Wenograd: (39:10) Yeah.
Erin Sparks: (39:11) So there’s that other factor is that you can build something and all of a sudden a lot of the attribution falls apart because the model’s different, or they’ve removed certain data sets. So you have to keep on looking back.
Susan Wenograd: (39:24) Kind of like we were talking about before where it’s important that us as media people, also recognize that ultimately we are marketers and we have to think that way. It’s kind of becoming the same way with data, and even developers. Where before it was kind of like, there were the marketers that would request what they wanted, and then the dev team would build it, and the marketers are like, that’s not at all what I had in mind.
Susan Wenograd: (39:45) So there’s also this issue, and we’ve seen this even in the platforms like with Facebook. Like you could very clearly tell what was built by a developer.
Erin Sparks: (39:51) Right. Absolutely.
Susan Wenograd: (39:51) It was not thought through from a UX person, or a marketing person. But I think we’re starting to ask the same things of the data scientists that we deal with. Where it’s like, okay, you just gave me all the statistical analysis, but I need to know what that means from a how we need to pivot their marketing. You know it’s like, what does the data say about if this is the conclusion, what should we be doing differently? What should we double down on?
Susan Wenograd: (40:16) And I feel like that’s one of the hardest things to find right now, is you can find devs that are really great, but you almost always have to have someone that can be a liaison between the marketing and the dev people. We’re lucky in that we focus on having marketing analysts people that have moved into those roles, so they understand what we’re trying to accomplish.
Erin Sparks: (40:36) Got it.
Susan Wenograd: (40:36) But it can be very hard. I see it in-house a lot with clients where they have a dev group, and then the marketing group. And they just never seem to speak the same language. And I think it just makes all that attribution stuff, and all these disparate channels, it makes it even harder to get them to work together because it’s tied together by coding that is understood by people that don’t do marketing. So its’ kind of this weird …
Susan Wenograd: (40:57) You have like four different islands all getting together trying to negotiate [inaudible 00:41:01] language. It’s really difficult.
Erin Sparks: (41:04) That’s so disheartening too because we were talking about this 15 years ago.
Susan Wenograd: (41:07) I know.
Erin Sparks: (41:08) That creative and data had to work together. And we’re still, come on, just force them into the room to get along.
Susan Wenograd: (41:15) They’ve gotten closer, but I think it’s still going to be a continuing evolution.
Erin Sparks: (41:19) Okay. Well, Susan it’s always a pleasure talking to you. Thanks so much for unpacking a good deal of your presentation. And I hope you found value in exploring a good deal more of this conversation. I know our listeners certainly do. So to wrap up, what final thoughts would you give to the social advertiser, explicitly the Facebook social advertiser and what they’re trying to do for their organization?
Susan Wenograd: (41:48) I would say if they don’t regularly talk to the other paid channels, I would challenge them to set up at least a once a month meeting where they’re coming together and just comparing what’s working, what’s not working. If they aren’t utilizing each other’s UTM tags, start doing that. You’re going to learn so much more from each other, and you’re going to put together such a better picture for the direction that the brand is going. So I would challenge them if that’s not happening in your organization, be the person to spearhead it, because you’ll be so glad you did.
Erin Sparks: (42:18) Amen to that. Amen to that. All right, so I got to ask you, wrapping up here. I always ask two questions, I asked it last year whenever we talked. What really bugs you about your industry right now?
Susan Wenograd: (42:30) I feel like the part that bugs me, everybody knows that they have to think more about attribution. And they’re like, yes we’re going to build a brand, we’re going to build a brand. But then at the end of the day they still hyper focus on what were today’s results. And the media buyers tend to not correct them. It’s like they immediately get knee jerk responsive and they’re like, oh my gosh the client’s upset because the ROAS wasn’t there.
Susan Wenograd: (42:54) And I’m like, part of your job is to help educate them on what they do need to focus on. Because a year from now they’re going to look up, realize they have no brand, and that they can’t compete anymore. And you’re not doing them any favors, so I think there’s just this temptation to kind of do whatever the client needs. And of course it’s important, but it’s also like, we’re also being hired because we know how this stuff works so you have to educate them. So I wish that there was more education going on in the bigger picture.
Erin Sparks: (43:19) You’re certainly doing that for us, so keep the fires burning [crosstalk 00:43:23] on that.
Susan Wenograd: (43:23) I don’t know how effective it is, but I do my best.
Erin Sparks: (43:27) Well, I mean you got to put this show right in front of these decision makers and say, hey, grow up a little bit. It’s not about that ROAS, it’s not about the return on investment. Right now you’re buying data to learn. All right.
Susan Wenograd: (43:40) Yup.
Erin Sparks: (43:40) So conversely, what excites you about your industry right now?
Susan Wenograd: (43:44) I love the fact that I feel like we have to get back to being marketers. You know for a while it just felt like it was this, that magic money machine, jackpot game. And I think the people that are truly marketers enjoy the challenges that we’re going into now because this is the stuff that we really love. Like we really love to build brands, we like to build longevity. We’re not day traders.
Susan Wenograd: (44:04) So I think for those of us that went into marketing because we are enthralled by brand stories and what consumers respond to and connecting with consumers and businesses, I think this is like the best time to be in digital marketing. Because we’re not as siloed as we were, and there’s a recognition that we shouldn’t be. So that’s the part that makes me the happiest right now.
Erin Sparks: (44:26) Very cool. Well said. While speaking here you’ve actually spoken and taught at 10 different conferences from February to June this year.
Susan Wenograd: (44:36) I know, I have like eight more in the fall too.
Erin Sparks: (44:39) Are you like a glutton for punishment? What’s going on?
Susan Wenograd: (44:43) I don’t know. It was just like one of those years where everyone’s like, hey do you want to … And they’re all conferences I love, that I have a hard time saying no. So I was like, yeah sure. And then about a couple weeks ago I’m like what am I doing? I have been living on an airplane. So yeah, I’m off for the summer, I’m going to take some trips, some fun trips as opposed to conference trips. So it’ll be a nice break.
Erin Sparks: (45:03) Absolutely. But we certainly recommend if you want to catch Susan in action, she’s always on the SMX circuit, and there’s a lot of good conferences she’s going to. And certainly appreciate your contribution into the marketing ecosystem, because we need that education, we need that knowledge. And we need the mucksters, we can’t do the wash, rinse, and repeat of marketing whenever there’s so much to learn from the data that we’re getting.
Susan Wenograd: (45:33) Yeah, and I figure that’s the best I can do, is I’m like, here’s what I know and here’s what I’ve learned. Your mileage may vary, but it’s stuff that’s worth looking at.
Erin Sparks: (45:42) Very good. Well, we’ll certainly want to have our audience follow you on Twitter, SusanEDub. On LinkedIn it’s Susan Wenograd. And on Instagram, Susan Wenograd. We thank you very much for your time today. And we’re certainly going to be coming across you. We’d love to have you back as well, talking about-
Susan Wenograd: (45:59) Always willing to come back. You guys are my favorite. So I’ll come back anytime.
Erin Sparks: (46:02) Thanks so much. All right.
Susan Wenograd: (46:04) Thank you.
Erin Sparks: (46:04) Well, you’re more than welcome. So that’s a wrap for Edge of the Web. So thank you so much for listening. Be sure to rate us, like us, give us some feedback on how we’re doing on the show, because that’s how we succeed in the annals of iTunes and podcasting. So give us a little bit of feedback, be sure to join the newsletter, and let us know how we’re doing on that front as well.
Erin Sparks: (46:26) We’re going to be talking to a good number of advertisers and marketers here in the future, and if you want us to talk to somebody who you’d like to hear from, just let us know. Drop us a note and we’ll certainly track them down. Thanks to all of our colleagues at Site Strategics for producing this on a regular basis, especially our guest, Susan Wenograd.
Erin Sparks: (46:46) You got to check out all the must see videos. And on top of that we’re breaking all the news items into the individual news segments and news items. So if you want a quick consumable go over to YouTube and grab a hold of those and we’re certainly socialize and getting that out into the platforms to make sure that you know that we are trying to meet your needs as our consumers as well. So with that, thanks so much for listening and watching. Check out everything over at EdgeoftheWebradio.com. That’s EdgeoftheWebradio.com. We’ll talk to you next week, do not be a piece of cyber driftwood. Bye bye.