My guest today is Laura Roeder, CEO of MeetEdgar.com, a social media tool that helps you re-share older content your audience may have missed the first time. Laura is a former social media consultant who built her audience and knowledge to bootstrap and build the very successful MeetEdgar.com.
Listen to Laura’s advice on marketing approach, her recommended resources and simple strategies to be a better non-nonsense social media marketer.
Listen to this Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Laura’s background in a self-employed family and her sources of personal motivation
- MeetEdgar visitor and conversion rate metrics
- Product-market fit, evaluating and growing a business
- Why you should NEVER lie as a marketer
- Using competition to your advantage
- The absolute importance of marketing in consumer purchases
- Current “best practices” in social media that are completely false
- Using software to advance your marketing
- Specific tactics for social media ads
- Recommended resources for marketers
The name will certainly grab your attention! My interview on the Everyone Hates Marketers podcast: https://t.co/31GWwJkY8F
— Laura Roeder (@lkr) April 4, 2017
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath
- Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries
Louis: Bonjour, bonjour, welcome to everyonehatesmarketers.com. I’m your host, Louis Grenier. everyonehatesmarketers.com is a podcast for digital marketers who are sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I interview no nonsense marketers who are not afraid to cut through the bullshit and say things as they are. During the show, we’ll learn how to get more visitors, more leads, more customers, more long term profit by using good marketing, by treating people the way we like to be treated.
Head over to everyonehatesmarketers.com to subscribe to the email list. We’ll notify you before anybody else of our future guests. You’ll also help us to come up with great questions for future guests. You’ll also get access to the number of listens and downloads of the podcast and also quite simply, to have great one to one conversation if you need any help.
If you haven’t listened to the first episode with DHH from Basecamp, have a listen as I give more information about the concept of the podcast.
In this second episode, I talk to Laura Roeder. She’s the CEO of meetedgar.com, which is a social media tool that helps you to reshare older updates that people might have missed the first time around. Laura is actually a very interesting marketer. She started as a social media consultant, then went on to sell social media courses, and then used her knowledge and audience she built in the last few years to bootstrap meetedgar.com to a very successful business. It’s definitely an example of an overnight success that took a few years for sure.
Here is what we learned in this second episode of Everyone Hates Marketers. You’ll learn about how spending time at a particular coffee shop gave her the motivation to start a business and to fight every day. You’ll learn how many visitors they get in a month, how many leads they generate, and how many customers they generate. You’ll learn why you shouldn’t be afraid of the competition and how to use them, instead. You’ll learn why everything we purchase is actually based on marketing and marketing only. You’ll learn how to make your marketing less bullshitty and why you should stop caring about those damn little tricks that really pollute your marketing.
She’ll also explain why you should repeat yourself online even it freaks you out, why marketers ruin everything. Finally, she’s going to share with us the simple formula for some great social media ads. I find this formula quite interesting. Finally, she’d share some top resources to become a better marketer. Have a listen and let me know what you think.
Hi Laura, welcome to the show.
Laura: Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here.
Louis: You’re very welcome. The first question just to get into the thick of the subject, what’s the biggest fail you ever witnessed on social media?
Laura: The biggest fails are always those people that tweet something racist, and they lose their job, and become a worldwide phenomenon. There’s actually a really good book about that. I’ll have to look at the title. We can put it in the show notes, about people who have been publicly shamed on social media and how it’s actually had this far reaching effect like they can’t get a job for the next 15 years.
That’s something really interesting to me about social media because it’s very casual and conversational in one hand, but then on the other hand, you’re publishing information to the internet that lives there forever and can have a real impact on your life.
I feel a lot of people making a mistake of feeling like they have to be too careful or too formal, which is a bad idea but at the same time, yeah, you do need to stop and think for a second before you tweet.
Louis: I’ve been thinking about something particularly in the last few weeks because it’s quite timely. I was imagining myself, what if I run for president one day. They look at my Twitter or Facebook and they dig these tweets I posted five years ago when I was drunk at a party. They blow it out of proportion. I would generally be embarrassed. I don’t have necessarily any tweets that come to mind but there are specific small things that you might have said that could definitely come up.
Laura: Yeah. I think it’s a tricky balance. You don’t want to stress about it too much. The odds of that happening are small and they’re also random. Sometimes, for famous people, things get pulled up and get totally taken out of context and there’s nothing they can do about that. They didn’t do anything wrong and the media just decided to spin it a certain way. Unless you’re an Uber celebrity, I think most people really shouldn’t worry too much about stressing about every little thing that could be taken the wrong way.
Louis: I definitely shouldn’t been worried, is that what you’re trying to tell me?
Laura: I don’t think you need to worry.
Louis: Laura, we just discussed before starting the episode. I’m recalling that I feel I know you quite a lot and obviously you don’t know me at all but it’s all about you in this episode.
I like what you guys do at Meet Edgar because you’re from diversity quite a lot, you have a very diverse team, you are all about bootstrapping. Not necessarily bootstrapping against VC but you’re going to, let’s build products that make money instead of just trying to raise money.
You’re also remote, you guys work remotely, you’re not in San Francisco even though you’re quite close now, aren’t you? You’re in Los Angeles?
Laura: I’m actually in Austin. I’m an Austin type person.
Louis: Yeah, you’re far enough. That’s not even close.
Laura: Far enough away.
Louis: This is all the reason why I want to talk to you today. A few more things that really interest me about your background is that you taught yourself to code when you’re in junior high school. You moved to Chicago, you worked for just two years, and then you moved on to create your own stuff.
Louis: We go about that in more details in the next few minutes. I’m really interested into you and your personality why you’re here today, why you’re such a driven person, because you are. I’m going to ask you a few questions that are really about you. You don’t have to answer all of them. The first one, what do your parents do? What kind of job do they have?
Laura: I was raised in a self-employed family, which I think gave me a huge advantage. My dad is an architect, a residential architect. My mom would help to keep the books and do the administrative work of the business. It’s a little different from what I do because my dad was very happy to be on his own. He had employees for a while. A recession came and he had to fire them and he just never hired them again. He really liked not having a team and being able to do his own things.
It’s a little different for me in that. I enjoyed building a bigger company and seeing how far I can grow it. I think growing up in a family where you make your money from a family business, it certainly gave me a massive advantage because I know so many people when they start a business, their families and friends are really unsupportive and think that’s crazy, most businesses fail and this is never going to work. Where I grew up, where my family made our income from my parents being self-employed. It obviously was a huge mental leap for me to be like, “Okay, being self-employed is a normal way for people to make money.”
Louis: This is exactly why I’m asking this question, that gives a lot into your personality. I was raised by teachers. Exactly as you said, it’s a mental exercise for them to picture how to do things differently but they accept it now.
Louis: I’m interested in hearing, do you have any particular story or event that happened to you that made you who you are today? As I said, this person that seems to be really driven, really wants to change things, and fight for what’s right.
Laura: As far as the driven side, an experience that I think about a lot, when I was in college, I went to University of Texas, here in Austin where I live again now. I would go to a coffee shop and study as we do in college at 10:00AM, 11:00AM, or whatever. At the coffee shop near my house, there is this family that would be there sometimes when I was there. They were a mom, a dad, and a toddler. I would think, “How are they here at 11:00AM? What is their life like? Neither one of them has to work.” I saw them more than once. I knew it wasn’t just a one-time thing.
That’s something that really struck me and stuck in my head of I would like that. When I’m older and I have a kid and I have a family, I would like to be able to take my whole family and go hang out at the coffee shop at 11:00AM. It’s something that I took seriously, that I was really serious about building towards. Then now I do have a two year old and a husband and I do have that kind of schedule where we hang out during the day sometimes.
I think something that I’ve always taken as a truth is if anyone else can do it, then I can do it too. If I can meet a single person that’s done it, then I know that it’s possible. I think I’ve been lucky to meet some very successful people relatively early in my career. Of course, when you spend time with people that are very successful, you see that they’re normal people. They’re smart but they’re not—Einstein is smart—they’re not so brilliant that you can’t comprehend it as a normal human. They have things that they’re really bad at and they have flaws and problems. I think that was always huge for me, whether it’s a couple in a coffee shop or seeing someone who’s really successful in business, thinking, “Okay, well now I know that that person can do it so why can’t I do it too?”
Louis: I’m really curious, did you talk to them?
Louis: Did you track them down?
Laura: No. I just would look at them. It’s probably better that I didn’t talk to them. Probably if I had, they’d be like, “We’re both unemployed. We’re having a horrible time. We hate this.” I think my fantasy is probably better.
Louis: The other side of the story is this couple has been stalked by you for years and they are traumatized that’s why you don’t see them anymore. That’s the other side. It’s like, “There’s this student, she always comes at 11:00AM every time we go in. She looks at us, we have to move out.” You ruined their life.
Louis: Moving on to your business in particular. Edgar is a social media scheduling tool that allows you to really take those social media updates and give them another life all the time. We use them in order to get as much traffic and as much attention that they deserve.
I’m interested in something, you’re really public about the business and your goals. Is there anything that you’ve never shared with anybody about your business that you’re willing to share with us today?
Laura: I would have to say no. Unfortunately, I mean I do. I do share a lot so I don’t think you’ll get anything really juicy that I’ve never shared. I’ll tell you the type of stuff that I don’t share which gets close to your question.
What I don’t share because I just don’t think it’s appropriate is issues that we’ve had with employees. We’ve had to let some people go. That’s always the hard thing because it is a really important part of the business journey. If you’re someone who’s running a business, figuring out who’s the right fit and who’s not is so crucially important.
I think discussing it in any way that could be like you know who I’m talking about basically would just really not be fair to them. I would say that’s the only kind of bigger theme in the business that has been a struggle that it’s hard to talk about in public form like this.
Louis: When other people are involved, for sure that’s probably where the limit is, isn’t it? That’s interesting.
There’s another exercise I want to do regarding your metrics. I’m going to give you just the metric type that I’d like you to share. You can share it or just say I pass, basically just to have another view of your business. Because I know talking to a lot of SaaS business and SaaS marketers, one thing that they really like knowing is the numbers compared to others. To say, is my conversion rate okay, is it average or is it too low? I think it gives them a little bit of an idea. Successful business like yours have and to see whether they’re in the right track.
We’re in February 2017, just to frame it in the context. How many visitors do you get today on the website?
Laura: I know on our blog that we get around 30,000 a month. I would guess on our home page we get around 50,000 a month.
Louis: Okay. Are you willing to share conversion rates from visitors to leads, not necessary customers but people who request an invitation to Edgar?
Laura: Actually customers, the number that I know off the top of my head. Cold traffic to customer is around 1%, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.
Laura: Actually, I know traffic to lead as well. Yeah, on our home page about 10% of the people who come to our home page opt in for an invitation. We do a different flow than most startups. We don’t start with a trial, we start with an invitation so that 10% rate is for the invitation.
Louis: You know what, I’ve actually used your tool a few times just to try it out but the social media is not a thing that I enjoy doing too much, so basically we’ll talk about that later. When I saw the request an invitation, you generally created a feeling that I don’t necessarily have usually when I go to SaaS product websites, where they say get a trial.
I felt that I wasn’t in control. I felt that you owned the control and therefore I have to beg you, not beg but it felt like, “Okay, this seems to be really exclusive. They seem to know their stuff. They’re not necessarily going to send me an invitation.” Even though you are. It still gives this feeling that, “Yeah, it seems like a valuable product.” I think this is why you’ve done it, which is great.
Around 50,000 visitors a month on the main websites or just the blog?
Laura: I think it was about 80,000 together.
Louis: 80,000 together, 10% from cold unique visitors to invitation requests, and then around 10% again from invitation to customer.
Laura: Is that what adds up to if you end up with 1%?
Louis: Yeah, I think so.
Louis: 10% of 10%, yeah, that must be it.
Louis: If listeners think that we are crazy and we don’t know how to do math, please feel free to correct us but I think that’s the right thing. Great. That was very good.
I’ve read an article recently. You guys have reached more than $4 million on your recurring revenue?
Louis: Congrats, that’s amazing.
Laura: Yeah. Thank you.
Louis: Right. People are probably asking themselves, “Okay, they seem to be really successful, they seem to have a good product, they seem to have the numbers, or how can I do it myself, or at least help the business I’m working in to do it?”
You have a particular story. For those who don’t know how you managed to grow this business that fast, let’s frame it in a question. Let’s say I have a new business or we are in a startup in a SaaS business that is just starting out. What should I do step by step in order to grow in the rate that you’re growing out in the minute?
Laura: I think there’s two phases. The first is what people call a product market fit. I have a different point of view on product market fit than a lot of people. To me, product market fit is not something that you play around with until you get it right. I think if you don’t have it, you need to start over.
I’m saying how I do things. I know other people do things differently. I’ve seen a lot of people waste a lot of time being like, “Okay, we’re going to do a sales tool.” And then it’s like, “Okay, no one’s using the tool.” And then they’re like, “Wow, we just need to tweak it a little bit and maybe we need to add better email filtering.” And then saying, “No, you didn’t make something that people wanted.” Which is fine. That’s a lot of products. You don’t hit the mark but like, “This one didn’t work. Go back to square one. Don’t try to keep tweaking what didn’t work.”
I think what’s lost a lot in the startup world is people focus so much on problems. They forget that they have to have a really, really good solution to the problem in order to get people to buy it. It’s shocking to me how many people will say, “We want to do some software in the project management space.” Because people don’t like their task managers and project managers so they’re always switching around. It’s like, “Yes, that’s true.” It’s because that’s an incredibly hard problem to tackle.
People not being 100% happy with their project management tool is because it’s such a complex problem. You just throwing another tool out there does not mean you have a business. You have to actually create a better tool that people for whatever reason find more effective than what’s already out there. That’s what product market fit is.
“I want to go into marketing next.” But you can’t have marketing if you haven’t created something that you know is useful to people. If you have people buying it, it’s useful. If you don’t have anyone buying it, it’s not useful.
Louis: Let me challenge you there first because I’ve read that a lot and it makes complete sense. People will basically say, “Yeah, of course, build a product that people like.” How does one make sure that from the first try, how does one build a product that people like?
Laura: I don’t think you can know for sure until you sell it. There are ways to pre-sell it or stuff like that but I don’t think you know for sure until someone has given you money. I think the easiest way to make something that you have a good guess people will like is that–what we did for Edgar is we took something that exists and we just made it a little bit more effective in a certain way. Edgar customers are usually using another social media tool that they’re coming to us from. They’re not people who’ve never used a tool before.
I think a lot of people get scared of competitive spaces. Competitive spaces are really great because you’re like, “Okay, we already know that hundreds of thousands of people purchase social media tools. We’re not trying to sell them this new idea of maybe you need this thing that you’ve never thought about before.”
If hundreds of thousands of people purchase social media tools, we created a tool that we think is really useful, is useful for us more so than the other tools who probably be useful for other people. That gives people a pretty good shot of being like yes, a certain amount of people will agree that your point of view is a good way to do it. I don’t think you can know it. I think it was totally possible that we would have launched and we would have been like, “Well, we thought this was a better way to do it but I guess other people don’t agree.”
Louis: Before you started Edgar, you had a consulting company, social media consulting. You switched and fired all of your clients-I need to ask you all about that later-and started to sell courses instead. You had 75,000 people in your email list. Therefore, you were able to market with them with Edgar. My gut feeling is that you were able to create a very good product because you knew your customer inside out.
Laura: Yes. That is definitely true.
Louis: That’s why I was trying to lead you in to answer as well is that I think and I agree with you, it’s very difficult to get product market fit when you have no clue whatsoever on which industry you’re selling to.
Let’s say you have no experience in the insurance company sector and you try to sell this cool new tool. To them, I don’t think it’s going to be easy because you don’t know those people. This is what I think worked for you very well. You knew your customer inside out and therefore you’re able to create a good tool.
Laura: Yes. Yeah. When I said that you have to have a great solution, I think you raise an important point. That’s part of having a great solution. Yeah, if you’re creating a tool for the insurance industry, you need someone who’s an insurance veteran crafting that tool with you. You need them. If that’s not you, you need them helping you with all of the product and feature decisions so that you know that it’s helpful for that specific type of customer, that you have created a great solution for them.
Louis: First step, product market fit. It’s black and white basically for you. It’s like you either have it or you don’t.
Louis: Second phase, marketing you said.
Laura: Right. Second phase is marketing. This is another area where you see a lot of startups who are like, “We want to grow bigger. We’re not sure exactly what to do.” They’re not really taking their marketing seriously. They’re still really focused on the product.
Of course one of the biggest fallacies is trying to add features in order to grow the business. It sounds really obvious when you say it but how would people know those features are there until they’ve already paid for the software. Sure, you can publish a blog post. Not many people are going to read it, not many people are going to see it. They still don’t totally understand until they use it.
I think what a lot of people forget, because this fact is so painful for developers, is that people are buying your product not based on the product but only based on a marketing, because they have not seen the product.
If you’re selling a trial, obviously you’re trying to get them to use the trial solely based on marketing, not based on a product actually. Maybe you’re trying to convert them from the trial. But I think developers really, really hate this fact because it’s not how a lot people like to see the world. We don’t like to admit that everything we purchase, we are just buying based on marketing. With the exceptions of objects that we’re actually able to use before we can purchase them, that’s it. Everything you’ve ever bought off Amazon, you are buying due to the marketing, you are not able to experience that product until after you’ve already paid for it.
It’s such an important fact that I just think really gets overlooked. People, I don’t know, it makes them nervous and they want to find another way around it. Because the dream is just that your product just seems to be so great, you won’t have to market. Because people are scared of marketing. They think it’s icky, slimy, and gross, and they don’t want to go down that road. They’re like, “I’m just going to have a product that’s so great that it’ll just sell itself.”
It always needs communication. Products that sell themselves, it means they’ve been sold via word of mouth marketing and your customers have sold it instead of you. Someone had to describe this experience of what using this product just like in order for someone to buy it.
Louis: You’ve explained it very well. It’s actually the perfect way to say. The thing is, I think a lot of companies selling products that failed think that they don’t need good marketing because they have a good product. But the go-to example and there are many, many, many products that have been developed by Facebook, Google, companies with millions and millions of revenue, billions even, of budgets and yet they fail still. Even though the product was developed by the top developers in their field, that’s because of marketing, because the foundation of marketing were not there. If you don’t understand your customer, if you’re not able to explain what your product does in their own language, then you’re done.
Laura: Right. I think also people think that trials are a way that they can get out of this whole thing. They’re like “Oh, I’ll just give people free trial and then they can experience for themselves.” One, like I said, you have to convince people to use the trial, which is a whole thing because people are really busy. People have a lot of information, people are really busy, they’re not just happy to spend the next three hours trying to figure out how to use your software and if it works for them, and what the use cases are. All the stuff is certainly stuff that my company can get much better at, I know we’re actively looking to improve.
So much software, they put you on the trial and maybe you have some little intro or demo but then they don’t have the like, “Here’s a bunch of ideas for how you can use this.”
I had lunch with Wade from Zapier the other day. Zapier is such an amazing tool. Its use cases are just endless. We use Zapier along with MailChimp. It allows us to not use one of the more advanced email automation tools. In our common, Zapier and MailChimp together can do everything we need. Zapier has replaced InfusionSoft or something like that.
Zapier has all these incredible use cases. For them, there’s so many that it’s so hard to even know where to start. They do start, they send out emails about it but it’s easy for me to see for another company how much they could—they could have an entire campaign selling Zapier just as an email marketing solution. A lot of people sign up for Zapier and they never know that it can do that. Every piece of software has all these use cases that you know innately as the person who created it and you don’t realize that it’s not so obvious for the customers.
Louis: It’s the concept of job to be done, isn’t? Intercom uses that really well. They’ve done a lot research and job to be done. That’s exactly this. What is your product being used for? Not what do you do with it but what’s the actual job behind all of that. Exactly your example, Zapier plus MailChimp is basically email marketing on steroids, even if I don’t get. Yeah, that’s a very good point. The job that your product does, not what the product does only sell, which is very interesting.
Let’s move on to social media in more particular because this is where you specialized in. Even though you don’t necessarily do the marketing for your company anymore, you’re still pretty much knowledgeable in social media, I think. Let’s reel down into marketing and social media. Are there any conventional wisdom or best practices being shared around in social media that you think are just plain wrong, are just lies that we need to stop?
Laura: Yeah, lots of them. Our whole point of view with Edgar is that you should be repeating your content on social media, which has become a less controversial idea. A few years ago, there were people saying, “You should just shut down your account.” If you’re ever even scheduling anything, some people think you need to be sitting there live, posting everything, don’t even use a scheduling tool. Now a lot of people have accepted, “Okay, scheduling tools.” But this repeating thing still freaks people out a lot. They’re like, “I don’t want to be a robot. I don’t want to annoy people. I don’t want to spam people.”
I actually just looked this up for a presentation that I’m doing tomorrow. I looked up the impression rate for my own Twitter account. It’s funny because there’s been a lot of hoopla around Facebook reach and how much it’s dropped, because it has dropped significantly. Twitter reach is just as bad. They just make you calculate yourself when you look at the stats, they don’t calculate it for you so I calculated my own, because they show you the number of people that see a tweet versus the number of people that follow you.
Twitter has between around 2%, ½% to 3% of people see in your one single tweet that you sent. That means that to be generous, 95% plus of the people who follow you do not see any tweet that you sent. It’s actually is more complicated because some of the people that did see it don’t follow you, shared or retweet or whatever, so it’s not including your followers. But so we know for sure 95% of people are not seeing it. It does not make any sense to create fresh, custom content multiple times a day every day for the rest of your life that 5% of people are seeing.
By the way, these numbers are true across marketing. In email marketing, if you’re getting a 20% open rate, that’s considered a good open rate, that’s a good open rate. That means 80% of people did not open the email and yet people are so scared of like, “I don’t want to email too much. I don’t want to bother people.” Even though you can be smart if you want to and even send to those that didn’t open. People get very scared for their own business of saying too much.
You have to remember that you read everything you write. That’s why this feels overwhelming. I see every single tweet that I send out. The ones that get retweeted, I see again, my mentions, I see it all. To me, when I share something again, I’m like, “I just shared that a few month ago.” I remember because I saw it come up. 95% of people did not see it the first time. They obviously don’t remember.
By the way, if they do, this is the other thing, if you see repeated content, people have this idea their followers are going to be so angry if they ever see them repeat something. That’s literally what trending content is. When content is trending on the internet, which means it’s good, that what we’re all going for, it means it got posted lots of places but you saw it over and over again. This is a normal thing on the internet.
Louis: My contrary in the hats, I’m going to wear my contrary in a hat now. I haven’t say 95% don’t see it, which makes complete sense. 95% of those 95% will forget you in the next 10 minutes anyway.
Louis: However, let’s say you have 1,000 people following you on Twitter. It’s probably a good assumption to say that maybe 20% of those followers are responsible for 80% of the engagements. 20% of those people will follow you and check Twitter more regularly. Maybe those people would see your stuff more often and you’ve basically are never able to reach those 80% because they’re never on Twitter anyway.
Laura: Actually no, not on Twitter. That argument does make more sense for Facebook since it’s favouring the stuff people are engaged with. In Facebook, that makes a lot more sense because Facebook, the more you engage with something, the more likely Facebook is to show you that page. Twitter has added a stuff you missed section at the top, which is a non-timeline. In general, Twitter is still very straight timeline based.
What you’re saying is actually not true because you don’t see more of the people that you like the most. It totally depends on time of day, it totally depends on people that you follow like how many people I follow. If I only follow three accounts, I see all of those three accounts tweets no matter how much I care about those three people. If I follow 10,000 people, I see very little of anyone. That’s just the nature of Twitter.
It does have a lot to do with how the tools actually work. Sometimes even your biggest fans who are the most engaged, it doesn’t matter if you’re not sending out a tweet during that hour that they’re on.
Louis: That makes sense, total sense. Let’s come back to marketing just the way before and what I like to call marketing bullshit. Because in this show, we can actually curse because we are just plugging into iTunes. You are more than welcome to curse.
Only 2% of people trust marketers. That study that’s been done by Hotspot. It’s true. They trust us less than politicians I think, or maybe these politicians are the only one that don’t. I think yeah, lawyers, or anything that’s in that type of profession. Why do you think marketers have such a bad reputation?
Laura: Because marketers ruin content. That’s just true. This is the face of social media, content. Everything starts out with just pure non-marketing content.
Instagram is just a very clear example that we can all see since it just launched in the past few years. First on Instagram, you just follow your friends. It’s just one of those all the social networks where in the early days just the people that you actually know in real life taking pictures with their dog, are checking on out on Instagram. Then, as this platform grows, you start to follow influencers or celebrities, which are people that you don’t know. Obviously soon enough, these celebrities and influencers start to be like, “Hey, I have 100,000 people. Somebody is going to pay me to put some ads in my feed.” And they start putting their own ad. Instagram starts being like, “Hey, this is going well. We can put other people’s ads to pay us in the feed.”
Social media, online marketing, and content marketing is all about these channels for content. The channels can only survive with marketers and with advertising. We’ll see how the internet evolves, that’s just been how the internet works, that’s been the pattern. This big thing that just happen with medium, they were like, “We want to make money off ads.” And then they’re like, “So we have to fire everyone and we don’t know how we’re going to make money now.”
Medium is saying they want to find some new way to exist on the internet but no one has discovered that way. You can either pay it. The New York Times has tried to do this pay wall although they still have tons of advertising as well. People haven’t been able to make the pay wall work. This is just the nature of when you have a space for content, it has to be supported somehow. Marketing and advertising is how it’s supported.
Unfortunately, in a perfect world, we would all rather have just the content. I would rather just have the pure content and not have the marketing. That’s how we all feel but that’s not reality.
Louis: How can we make internet suck a little bit less then as marketers?
Laura: One of my things that I follow as a marketer is don’t lie, which sounds really funny. If you just follow don’t lie, your marketing becomes much less bullshitty, as you say. It’s amazing how often lies are used and how many little opportunities there are for them to creep in, whether it’s fake deadlines or fake offers that you’re saying, or limited, aren’t really limited. That’s why we’ve had to be innovative.
On our home page, there’s language of requesting invitation. What we want is give us your email address if you’re interested in the software. That’s what we’re looking for. If you’re interested in Meet Edgar, give us your email address so that we can follow up on you with information.
We don’t say, “There’s only five spots today and you have to tell three friends if you want one of those spots.” There is a grey area in what you imply. Yeah, invitations does sound exclusive so it might sound like it’s limited. Maybe some people would say they just that implication is too much and we shouldn’t even do that. That’s how I draw the line. Is it true? As long as it’s true, we can say it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.
Louis: It sounds really simple but it’s really true. It’s difficult for us, for marketers to never lie because you want people to do what you want them to do. Yeah, you tend to always hang out in this grey area. I would say, my personal opinion on your way of asking people email, I think would still be a grey area because you release invitation to everybody.
Laura: Right, yup.
Louis: Is it as bad as pure lies or anything? Because I don’t think so far from it. You’re not polluting the internet which is you ask on anything like this. You’re fun. It’s a good answer. I like that. Two words, don’t lie. Three words, do not lie. We could make internet a better place and marketers a better name.
I’m going to re-put my contrarian hat on a little bit because I like to tease you a little bit with that. Facebook, Google, Twitter, more Facebook and Google, they’re those big, big, big machines now. They have more power than most countries worldwide. They can basically change the algorithms and everything in a heartbeat. They can change their algorithm for search rankings. Facebook can change their algorithm to show a specific person to the timeline. Do you think those basically monopolistic power should be forced to publish how they operate internally?
Laura: They can’t, because the marketers would just totally ruin everything. Facebook cannot publish how its algorithm operates because then Facebook would be 100% spam. Actually this has become the bread and butter of our blog at Meet Edgar. Almost every week, we’re able to post an update about some algorithm change that Facebook has and our whole angle is explaining how it applies for a small business, do you need to take action or not, those are always our most popular post.
I’ve just seen since I started doing this, whenever Facebook gives a little hint, marketers ruin it, people go nuts with it. They recently said that they were favouring videos so people did this weird loophole where they created a junky animation. But because it moves, it’s like a video and then they somehow started to autoplay on their page all the time. Like you said, marketers ruin things. Marketers will totally ruin any space.
Every time Facebook gives any kind of little hint, it’s like, “Guys, you’ve ruined it for everybody. Now Facebook can’t tell us anything again.” I just don’t know what else they could do. In order for Google to do its job and serve you the content you’re looking for, that’s what Facebook is doing as well. Facebook is trying its hardest to put content in your timeline that you actually want to see. They can’t reveal how the algorithm works.
I think for people who don’t want to be bulshitty marketers, all you have to do is keep the long game in mind. All these dumb little tricks, hacks, and stuff. I get asked about them all the time because people love them on social media. People are like, “Ah, I got this bot for Instagram that adds 2,000 new followers a day.” I’m like, “Why would you want 2,000 fake followers every day? How is that going to help your business?” It makes no sense.
It’s not complicated. All you have to do is be like, “Will this get me quality leads and quality customers long term?” Same with all the sales stuff. Whenever you’re trying to panic people into buying what you have, that can work but they’re obviously not going to stick around if they’re not a good match, if they don’t get value from what you’re offering. You’re just going to create I guess if you just keep doing it finding more people to panic but you’re not going to be able to build a long term sustainable business that way.
Louis: I’ve never thought about this way. I guess it makes sense. As soon as those big boys, those big companies release the rules of the game, then you’re going to try to play with their rules.
Louis: That makes sense. I have something else for you. I’m sorry, I’m trying to get everything, every bit of knowledge out of you as much as I can. There’s a report that has been published last year, I think the state of the American customer. They were saying that 62% of consumers say that social media had no influence at all in their buying decision. Only 5% say it had a great deal of influence. Is social media really useful or is it just a waste of time?
Laura: That’s always an interesting question about what influence people’s buying because people are terrible at knowing what’s influence their buying. One, it’s just honest subconscious level. If you ask someone what are the last five TV commercials you saw, you usually wouldn’t remember what they were. Sometimes even if you just watched the commercials, because you were zoned out. However, you’ve now heard of those things. It’s maybe you don’t remember watching the commercial but now that brand is in on your head as one that you’ve heard of before.
People also don’t like to admit/genuinely don’t know when advertising has influenced them because that’s not how we like to think of ourselves. We don’t like to think that we’re just this dumb blob that a saw shampoo commercial and it was like, “Oh shampoo.” And then went out and bought it. It doesn’t make it sound very intelligent.
I just don’t think you can ask the consumer, “Did this influence your decision?” Also, I always notice when I am influenced by things then I can notice because most of the time you can’t. When I do notice, I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to make note of that pattern that happened.” I noticed the other day that someone tweeted about a piece of software and he said it was better than another one. I went out immediately and downloaded the trial. It was the very fast from the first time I’ve heard of it to actually downloading it, which is rare so I noticed it.
I think if someone asked me how did you hear about it, I would say, “A friend told me about it.” I might not even remember that he had told me via Twitter because in my mind it went to the category of, “Oh James uses that and he said it was good.” I think it’s just impossible to know which channels are influencing people to what degree.
Louis: It’s a great answer. It’s difficult to get any bad answer out of you today. We might have to catch to you again in a bad day. It’s exactly true, people are very bad at explaining their own behaviour. The only way you can really truly judge whether social media has an influence is to watch them or see how they actually behave, not what they say they do.
The interesting thing is there is this tool from Google, you probably know it, whereby it gives you per industry which channel is responsible for the conversion. Assisted conversions compared to the final conversion. Social media is always in the middle. It’s never really a channel to take decisions but it’s almost never as well not responsible for the purchase. Exactly as you said, it’s brand building, it’s awareness, it’s just continuous marketing, really.
Laura: Oh yeah. We just have so much media around us. I’m just looking at things on my desk that I purchased. I have this notebook. I picked out this one because I liked how it looked and felt the best. But then why did I go, I bought this at an American chain called Paper Source. Why did I go into Paper Source? I obviously had a knowledge that they sell notebooks, did I drive by? Did I see a blog post that they published? Did someone else mention that they had bought a Paper Source? I don’t know. I don’t know how I knew where they were and to go there but obviously that information in turn, my sphere in some way but I have no idea how.
Louis: That’s a good example. The listeners are unlike you because they can’t see how beautiful your note pad is. The beautiful roses and it’s all pink, it’s beautiful. It’s very true. To be serious, it’s very true. I don’t even remember what I had for lunch so how can I remember how I discovered a brand or anything like this.
Right, moving on to SaaS in particular, let’s say we are part of a SaaS business around your size or that kind of size, midsize and great quickly. How do you use social media to generate traffic, to generate awareness?
Laura: The very simple formula is take evergreen content. Meaning, it can be repeated. Not all content makes sense to repeat, obviously. If you’re publishing what you think is going to happen in the stock market tomorrow, no one wants to read that three months from now. Most small businesses, most of their content is evergreen style content. Meaning, it’s how to, tips and tricks, strategy, all that stuff.
Really, but the basic formula of what we do obviously using Edgar and we advise other people to do is create evergreen content and then send it out a lot more than you think you should. Because every time, every tweet, every Facebook update is an opportunity. The more you’re sending, the more you’re creating these opportunities.
I was just looking into this again. I was preparing for presentation that’s why I was seeing what tweet have I sent that got the most attraction. I found one tweet that I sent a few months ago. They got 141 retweets, which is extremely rare. Most of them obviously get no retweets, some of them get a few. If I get 15, that’s a huge number. This one got 141. The way that that happened is it obviously happened to get retweeted by a few people with big followings and then it was a snowball effect from there and it took off.
This tweet, it was a link to a blog post. It was not anything super innovative that hasn’t been tweeted a million times before. For whatever reason, it caught the right person’s attention at the right time. I have not found that you can really engineer, obviously you can’t engineer what’s going to go viral or everyone would do it.
You can observe and see what your audience likes and what they share and stuff but then you just have to give them a bunch of opportunities. Because every time you send out status update, that’s another opportunity to get traffic back to your site, to get clicks, and more importantly to get shares, because that’s the cool thing about social media, about how you can be multiplied. Of course all these people that reach within me. Now my name and my picture is in front of them, they have the opportunity to follow me.
When I say a lot, yes, there can be too much. You don’t want to send out the same content every 10 minutes all day but the nature of these networks is that you can publish a lot more than you probably think. Also, publish in different time zones. Something that we just started with Edgar. I don’t know why it took us so long. We were just publishing in an extended American schedule. Now we publish from the Edgar Twitter account so that we’re showing out in Europe, so that we’re showing out in Asia, in Australia. Guess what? We started getting a lot more traffic once we did that. That’s why you use these tools because you don’t want to be up at 3:00AM but you have customers that are because you have customers around the world. We would have missed all those opportunities without a tool to do that.
Louis: Step one, create evergreen content. Try to see which ones stick the most and leverage this quite a lot by reposting it at different time, especially at times you don’t necessarily think about. Step two, let’s say I’ve got a bunch of email addresses and I want to note all those leads into becoming customers. How do I use social media to do that?
Laura: That’s an interesting question. The more appropriate thing is definitely to do it more paid advertising. Because the thing about social media of course is that you’re just bombing everyone. When you send a status update, there’s no way to segment who is a lead, who is a customer, who’s a prospect. You can’t do that with ads. I would say where social media place into that more is that’s where the conversation and engagement site comes in.
I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that automation and conversation are opposites, they’re mutually exclusive in some way. I’m either automating my social media or I’m on there having organic conversations. What I find is they’re really perfect complements because you should let software do what software can do.
A software can send out your status updates. Software does a better job on that than you do because Edgar can again be awake when you’re not awake. Edgar has time to send out something every hour, you have better things to do. What software can’t do is write good status updates. The software is terrible. A few tools have tried to do it. Software is terrible about writing status updates.
And software can’t have that back and forth conversation. But the back and forth is the really fast and really easy. Set up a tool to send out all your updates and then you can go in and you can check out who’s responded, what they have said, you can retweet other people. That stuff is super, super fast and doesn’t take much time.
That’s what I do. I have Edgar sending out my social media then I’m going on everyday looking at my replies, retweeting other people’s stuff. That only takes a few minutes and then I’m able to do that relationship building side.
Louis: Do you have any tactics that you would recommend? I’m thinking particularly for Facebook ads to build the right audience and to reach out to those potential customers.
Laura: For Facebook ads, of course the obvious thing is retargeting and thinking about what information they need from where they are in the funnel. Basically, do they know a little bit about you? Have they tried a trial but then they didn’t continue? You can make some assumptions after you’ve talked to people. Hopefully talk to real people and find out what they need to know. And then try to deliver them that information.
Louis: What top three resources would you recommend to people, to marketers in particular?
Laura: Top three books, or tools, or what?
Louis: Anything that helped you to become a better marketer.
Laura: Okay, meetedgar.com
Louis: Okay, that’s number one.
Laura: Automate your social media. Number two, I’m trying to pick what’s my favorite marketing book. I think Made To Stick is a really good one that I like a lot. Obviously, Positioning is a real classic. Yeah, read one of those books. I’ll count them both as number two.
Number three, I’m going to cheat and say do real campaigns and see how they do. I think it’s easy to spend all day reading about marketing. The first time you actually put a marketing campaign in place, you realize that all those articles were not that useful. There’s a bunch of stuff they didn’t tell you, a bunch of stuff you forgot. Even if you’re just doing it for fun, if you’re like, “I wrote this blog post and I want to see how much traffic I can drive to it for free. I’m not selling anything. This is just a fun project.” A project like that is incredibly valuable.
Louis: Awesome. Laura, thank you so much for your time today. It was really fun. I would share the notes and all the resources we shared in the notes. I’ll talk to you soon.
Laura: Thank you.
Louis: Bye bye.
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How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.