This week, Gabriel sits down with Mark Irvine, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Wordstream, to discuss the importance of adapting your PPC ads to the current times. Between re-purposing your advertisement budgets to the areas you can shift for success, you won't want to miss this episode of Martech Masters!
Listen to the Podcast version of this episode:
- Introducing Mark Irvine and Wordstream (0:55)
- What are Companies Doing Regarding Advertising? (2:30)
- What Current Opportunities are Available? (8:38)
- Creating Brand Affinity With Content (11:53)
- The Importance of Tone (13:13)
- Everyone Has Different Sensibilities to Offers (17:29)
- Everyone is Learning on the Fly (18:51)
Gabriel: Hello, everybody! Welcome to MarTech Masters! Today we are with Mark Irvine from Wordstream. Hi, Mark how are you doing?
Mark: I'm doing well. How are you guys doing?
Gabriel: Well, considering what's happening around the world, I believe that we are very grateful for being in a house, safe and healthy, and keeping our families healthy. How are you doing?
Mark: Considering is kind of the most correct answer that I've heard these days, you know, again I'm doing as well as anyone really can a lot of what I've been doing is understanding exactly how well I can be during all of this and accepting that, focusing on what I can make changes to and not stressing out over you know the state of the world.
Introducing Mark Irvine and Wordstream (0:55)
Gabriel: Of course, so why don't you tell us for people that don't know you and in Wordstream why don't you tell us a little bit about you and in the company so they understand why we're talking today?
Mark: Yeah absolutely so Wordstream is an online platform that allows advertisers and agencies to manage their online advertising across Google, Bing Facebook and Instagram and one easy to manage platform so they can optimize and get the most out of their advertising in about 20 minutes a week and my role as a senior data scientist is a really cool role given the fact that we have about 30,000 individual advertisers who use this platform. It means that first, we're able to make a lot of changes at scale across advertising but as a senior data scientist, I'm able to view a lot of the trends that come in across 30,000 individual advertisers, see exactly what they're testing, what's working, what's not working, and who's secretly getting the best performance. So what we can begin to do across more accounts to help people make smarter decisions.
Gabriel: That's awesome and of course these are very tough times for everybody and I've heard from all kinds of different sources our own customers, you know, other agencies, agency owners, business owners that they're pausing advertisement and again during times of crisis it has been proven after you know the Great Depression and like all kinds of different eras throughout history that advertising is actually a very powerful thing to do during a time of crisis in most companies that do advertise somehow and they do it right will come out better than they came in through the crisis but at the same time a lot of people are trying to save money and in the first thing they see is that that pay-per-click ad budget or their Facebook ad budget and they're like okay let's cut on that right away do you have any advice or have you seen any companies doing cool things with this maybe reducing the budget so they don't lose all their authority like tell me a little bit of what companies are doing about this.
What are Companies Doing Regarding Advertising? (2:30)
Mark:Yeah so a lot of like what you said to contextualize this situation is a hundred percent true. People in times of uncertainty is the cliche word that you're going to hear a lot but in times of uncertainty, people look towards finding discretionary budgets that they can cut and advertising is at the very top of that list so you can easily pull back your campaigns and not have them run and yes there are studies that are out there that prove the fact that a lot of the brands that we know today started being really successful during a period of time like the Great Recession or the Great Depression or something along those lines because they invested in a relatively cheap advertising market when a lot of other people wouldn't so there's absolutely truth to that.
I will acknowledge the lens of yes this is someone who is in the ad industry telling you that it's valuable to advertise but more broadly like that doesn't necessarily mean that the budgets you go about cutting are going to have to be the advertising ones a lot of what we've been doing at Wordstream and a lot of what it sounds like you've been doing is having this conversation with clients. People are panicking from an emotional level, we're stuck inside all day, we're with our families all the time, we're reacting to a market that we don't know the future of and what buttons do we have control?
Well, we have control of our paid search budget, we have control over payroll budgets, we have control over discretionary budgets. Certainly one of the big things that we can do and as business owners or as marketers or whatever your role is is really take a step back, stop, go for a walk, come back and really assess like what does that need and that need is generally a financial need right?
A lot of what we're doing right now is defining how we can help our clients be set up for success with those cash flow issues so we do have a lot of clients who are restaurateurs or in hospitality for example or something like that and you know there's a cash flow issue in that a restauranteur isn't built to run 28 days of their business with no revenue so how do you go about getting them into an SBA loan? How do you go about having them apply for a PPP? How do you go about navigating individual laws around unemployment on furlough benefits?
You know, there's a lot that you can do to answer those questions in the financial realm and then begin to answer that question of well what does this restaurant or what does this business look like in the online marketing world. There are a lot of places particularly right now where all the sales all the leads no one's going in doing a retail store visit everything is ECOM right now.
"A lot of these traditional businesses now have in fact an increased need to go digital and find a digital solution for that, so it's a very different persona and a very different conversation than I was having with our clients and our prospects from January. But it is still all the same song-and-dance of yes, if you look to stay in business during this crisis and after this crisis, well, quite frankly this is the make-or-break moment for your business."
You need to understand what buttons you all the buttons you have not just buttons you're used to pressing. I was not a finding financier I did not know what the SBA was a month ago but here I am an expert in filling out those loan applications.
So, the first step is just taking a step back and really identify like what is the business need and how can we answer that business need and that may or may not be a paid search solution or an organic solution or a video solution or what have you but at the end of the day how do you go about answering that question.
Gabriel: Of course, of course, and you have certain businesses that are going to be losing complete control of their financials and they don't have the money to spend or invest on advertising and not even marketing or anything like that like restaurants or people in trouble or things like that but then you have the businesses in the middle that are adapting to a whole new way of doing business to running their business online running their business with video, doing more zoom meetings or videos on the go with Soapbox and things like that to connect at a human level and they need to run their business in a different way.
They're doing you know curbside drop-offs and things like that that they didn't exist before and then you also have a good example of that is telemedicine you have all these healthcare communities, all the this healthcare companies, that have to adapt to that but then you have industries that are growing so there the message like you said the buyer personas are completely different because you have software companies may be growing or you know people in certain industries that manufacturing or things like that that are gonna be having an incredible amount of need to accelerate to do more things so yes the conversation is different.
Do you see opportunities across the board to actually do certain types of advertising that could help the people in the middle people are adapting I think that's the ones that are first of all you have people suffering that won't spend a dime and people putting more money than ever what are people in the middle that are adapting what can they do what other opportunities are out there?
What Current Opportunities are Available? (8:38)
Mark: Yeah, so I think that a lot and I think a lot more people could find themselves in the middle than they necessarily think they are so for instance like one industry that people immediately kind of discard is is travel because people are not currently traveling today. Now I want to be super clear about this the second all of this is over I'm getting out of Boston exactly and I'm sure that I am NOT in that camp alone and so a lot of what businesses across the board really need to be thinking about is yes now is going to be a difficult time to acquire a new customer, how do I currently go about marketing to people who are either already in my funnel and my sales path or how do I go about remarketing and re-engaging my past customers, my loyal customers and that might be again if you for most of us we think about marketing and paid marketing and advertising about acquiring that next new customer and that's where most of our budget goes understandably.
If we're talking about reducing our budget and playing to our reduced operations and what the reduced need for us you know that's still going to be your largest immediate opportunity whether or not that's while you're trying to work in in a COVID world or what the first people you're going to sell once all of this is over it's going to be those kinds of customers so part of this is you know how you go about keeping your ads out in front of those very high-value audiences and that might be something like you know remarketing across Google, across YouTube, across Facebook across social or attaching those specific audiences or those specific email lists to your own paid search campaigns through a customer match kind of list.
There are definitely ways to be very specific about that high-value audience that you expect would convert more and particularly as we talked about like if your business is having this uncertainty then a lot of those businesses that might be your customers are similarly going to be in that uncertain moment and so yes maybe people were not buying the first two the last two weeks of March because they have to take that assessment I know that I was originally planning to come down to Florida to visit you guys and then this all went a certain direction, still very interested in making that trip but that's going to be a trip that I now make later, so I'm still going to make that purchase at some point in time how that airline that hotel all of those places get that money from that particular trip is going to really depend on how they that brand stays in front of me during at this point in time because that's when I'm going to make this purchasing decision.
Creating Brand Affinity With Content (11:53)
Gabriel: That's a great point it is not so much about advertising the trip itself or saying book now for later it's more how is that brand engaging with me, what kind of brand affinity is that brand creating with me, so I believe that they are there for me and not just by sending an email saying we can help like everybody else is doing but what kind of content they're putting on what's the tone of that content and is it helpful for businesses and individuals so depending on the industry that could make or break how you engage with a brand and how you feel about that brand right?
Mark: Yeah exactly, so think of like think of a gym right now no one's going to be able to go join a gym right now but people are still online looking for that solution it could be a place a perfect place for your brand to allow people to join a free class or download some kind of white paper or sign up for a newspaper a newsletter subscription or something like that during this crisis you've shift the CTA you shift the offer and then now you have this their contact information to engage with them post-pandemic and so did you stop marketing?
No, but you shifted the messaging you shifted the CTA and the goal right now if you're not sure when you're going to reopen it’s so that the goal right now is quite frankly so that when you do open that your sales team has something to go do once day one hits.
The Importance of Tone (13:13)
Gabriel: Definitely, and that takes us to the conversation of tone one thing we're saying to everybody is to go review let's review our workflow so anything that's automated let's go check your emails, let's go check your social messages, everything has to be the right tone you can't be like cheery happy hey vacation right now because that doesn't exist and also even if it's right to the times the tone is very important to do you have any recommendations about that reviewing you know PPC either keywords, messages, ads, tell me more about what you're seeing out there?
Mark: So, firstly, number one thing is to do exactly what you suggested review the message that's in the actual ad copy the idea of going viral meant something completely different two months ago right?
So, you have to be very sensitive to that and also understand the fact that hey all of a sudden your personas have changed whereas you may have previously had several a high-value personas now all of the sudden your high-value persona is at home with their husband and kids and has a very different set of needs in March and April than they did back in January in February so this is actually a beautiful time to go through an exercise of a reevaluating your personas making sure you understand what it is that you provide to whom and see what messaging can you value prop here.
The word contactless delivery didn't mean anything to me two months ago but now it's quite frankly a necessity so the details around epidemiology and social distancing and flattening the curve all that meant nothing and the even like to your point automation we would normally be having a March Madness kind of play or we'd be getting ready for an Olympics marketing campaign if you've got marketing campaigns that were scheduled and have creative put aside for those well quite frankly right now nothing sounds more tone-deaf than talking about the big game or a sporting event or something like that so yeah you do have to review those specific messages those that are specific content for that Sensibility but it's also like that great time to include new messaging.
This is a great time particularly in our search message to test something new that we wouldn't traditionally test just because people have different sensibilities and it's good to know that the people like I have a very different set of needs and this point of time not having kids then everyone who's trying to work from home with their school-aged children and not being able to the socialize as frequently with these people you're going to find the fact that like you as a marketer all of a sudden don't relate to all of these personas that you think you know so well so this is um a great time in search to use an item called responsive search ads and that basically allows you to feed Google a number of different headlines, a number of different descriptions and allow Google to message match those a little bit more for you and effectively attempt to serve the right message to the right user at the right time.
It is a little bit of machine learning, it is a new form of automation that a lot of people are uncomfortable with because they don't have control over the machine but what we're seeing is that particularly during this point in time it's very successful compared to manual efforts because it's doing tests that we as marketers wouldn't normally think to catch.
Gabriel: They know the interest and the the the in the intent of these people because of other things they're searching, therefore, Google can decide okay this person is searching school from home kids at home how do I get my kids you know entertain how do I keep you know to give good healthy food to my kids then Google knows again I know this might sound scary for people that don't know this but this is how the advertising world works.
Google knows your household is a household with kids so they might be able to adapt and change that messaging for you depending on the different things that and categories that you set up right?
Everyone Has Different Sensibilities to Offers (17:29)
Mark: Yeah exactly it's one of those things like we all have different sensibilities when it comes to messages and offers even though the one I always go back to is whether or not someone prefers to hear that something's made in the USA or something is imported like those are some people look at imported as a value prop and some people look at it as a so it's very unique and Google is better at understanding how you engage with those messages as you would get exposed to those ads thousands of times a day and how you engage on with different offers throughout that period Google can tell whether or not you genuinely prefer one message or the other and can show you that add more relevantly so it's a very interesting thing that we as marketers like again and that is a thing that as a marketer I come into that conversation with a bias of well I prefer free shipping to 5% off but someone else reacts very differently so it's a very different conversation there.
Gabriel: Awesome awesome Mark this has been amazing and thank you for sharing all of this anything else you want to share anything else that you want to share about Wordstream?
I know this is not a sales pitch what we're trying to help but what how are the things that Wordstream can help people figure out how to optimize their efforts and also anything else you want to say it's your time now!
Everyone is Learning on the Fly (18:51)
Mark: Yeah certainly so I'm not going to pretend like I have all the answers and no one should try to pretend like they have all the answers.
One thing that I'll be very upfront is this is we're learning in this together. I'm working very closely with a crisis management team over at Google dedicated to a COVID solution even Google is learning on the fly with us here we don't know how long this is going to go on we don't know exactly how people are going to react as the economic and as our behaviors change. What we have made the commitment to is as a data scientist that has access to a lot of accounts every week I'm publishing something on the Wordstream blog related to COVID and how search marketers or how online advertisers are reacting and what kind of trends we're seeing.
There's a lot of interesting things in terms of again the keywords people are searching for the times a day people are searching for the devices people are searching on there's a lot of things that are shifting things are not stopping in the world so it's very interesting it's very exciting and every week we're trying to at least one date a heavy post on the Wordstream blog there so definitely if you haven't checked it out Wordstream.com/blog. It's right there we promise we publish something and we're trying to publish one data-heavy thing on COVID at least once a week.
Gabriel: That's great and we'll definitely share that on the blog I've heard even opportunities where because people are pausing then you want to actually be there because it's cheaper to actually advertise with certain things so those are the kind of day that that's the kind of data we want to start analyzing and I love that you guys share so much about it from so many customers aggregated data from people that actually have it is going to be crucial in a time like this so we really appreciate you guys and your partnership.
Wordstream has been amazing for us adding that layer of intelligence that actually allows us in less time to optimize all of our paid efforts for our customers and get better and better every week is it's really critical for us to deliver more value for our customers every day and of course during crisis times this is even more important than ever so thank you mark again for being here today thank you for sharing all of this Thank You Wordstream for the partnership and thank you for everything we'll stay in touch!