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Most marketers know that personalization can improve conversions. But how do you implement personalization at scale?
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, McGaw.io founder Dan McGaw digs into the details of how companies large and small are building marketing technology stacks that allow them to create highly personalized experiences throughout the customer journey.
Considered "one of the original growth hackers," Dan specializes in building tech stacks that drive results at the middle and bottom of the funnel.
In this episode, he discusses how companies can build and leverage Amazon-like automation without the need for expensive back end developer resources, and how to do it without seeming creepy to your audience.
Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, for details.
Resources from this episode:
Visit McGaw.io to learn more about Dan and his work advising companies on their marketing tech stacks
Text "creepy" to (415) 915-9011 to experience Dan's personalization test
Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth and this week, my guest is Dan McGaw, who is the founder of Mcgaw.io. Welcome to the podcast, Dan.
Dan (00:23): Hey, how are you today?
Kathleen (00:26): I am awesome. How are you?
Dan (00:29): I'm doing amazing. Thanks for having me here.
Kathleen (00:31): Yeah. I am excited to have you here because we get to talk about some nerdy marketing stuff having to do with e-commerce, which is currently a favorite topic of mine. And I say nerdy and I put myself first in line of the list of nerds who care about these things. But before we dig into this topic could you just tell my listeners a little bit about yourself and Mcgaw.io?
Dan (00:56): Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, I'm Dan, I'm the CEO and founder of Mcgaw.io. But I've been in the marketing tech space for over 20 years. So I got my start in 1998, sending mass emails since, before there was even mass emails. So as I like to say to people, I just kind of have seen some I've been around for a long period of time. but some people recognize me for when I was the head of marketing at Kissmetrics.
I replaced Neil Patel as the head of marketing at that company. Before that I was head of growth another company called Codeschool.com. We were one of the pioneers in the online education space for developers. So some people know of Codecademy or Team Treehouse, Code School. We took the early exit. We sold out to Pluralsite, which is the publicly traded company in that space.
Dan (01:36): So as you might imagine, I'm very technical. I'm also very analytical, but I'm also understand marketing and sales really well. And some random things about me. I was coined as one of the original growth hackers, which is kind of terrifying. Somebody called me that one time. And then it kind of caught fire. And I've just been involved with MarTech for a long time, but with Mcgaw.io right, like we're a marketing technology and marketing analytics agency, but it's like, what the hell does that mean? Right. That's just difficult to say in general. We help companies with two main problems. Either they lack of visibility in the customer journey, or they lack the ability to engage in the customer journey. So we help companies choose their tools, integrate their tools, operate those tools, and always are focused on trying to make the money.
Dan (02:14): But the big focus for us is that we are not a marketing agency because we don't do PPC, SEO, content marketing, as we would say that TOFU, Top of funnel stuff. All of our work is on the middle and bottom of funnel, leveraging technology.
So when you think about that, that nerd that you wish you had on your marketing team, that's probably our team, right? When you think about that developer, you want on your team, that's us. But we do a lot of work with Marketo, Amplitude, Salesforce, but we're tool agnostic. So you can come to us with any stack and we'll help you build your stack. And that's really what our niche is, is the marketing stack.
Kathleen (02:45): There is such a huge need for what you're doing in the marketing world right now. And I say this as a marketer who does not come with a highly technical background. I mean, I was like a political science major. Don't ask me how I wound up in marketing. That's a whole story that we don't have time for.
But you know, it's interesting because I've worked with a lot of different marketers over the years and some of the best marketers I know do have unusually technical backgrounds. Like one in particular that I'm thinking of who I've worked with for many years, she has a computer science engineering undergrad, and a marketing MBA. And I was like, man, are you the perfect combination of skillsets? So I love that. That's what your team, you know, that's sort of the profile of your team and what they work on.
Kathleen (03:34): One of the reasons I was really excited to talk to you, as I said, is because of the work you do in e-commerce. You know, if people regularly listen to the podcast, they may or may not know that in my day job, I'm head of marketing for a company that is selling into the e-commerce space. And it's been really interesting for me because I've been in marketing for a long time.
I own an agency. I've worked with a lot of different companies, but I hadn't necessarily done a ton in e-commerce. And it's been fascinating to me to learn just, like, the level of performance marketing that is required to do well in e-commerce.
I mean, you know, it stands to reason, but I think from my experience that I've had so far, the e-commerce marketers I've met are the most data-driven marketers I've come across in my career, hands down by a long shot.
Kathleen (04:26): And I guess, you know, it's because it's sink or swim, right? All their, all of their revenue is coming through digital as opposed to, you know, other types of companies that can get by, on, you know, business development and events and, you know, pressing the flesh at in-person networking things when those come back. You can't do that in e-commerce.
So anyway, I'm going on and on, I will stop, but I'm fascinated by this because it really does take, you need to have a very data-driven mindset and you need to have the right stack in place in order to do it well. So I just want to kind of like turn it over to you to react to that. And, and I'm curious if you found the same thing in terms of e-commerce marketers tending to be more kind of technical and data-driven performance marketers than marketers in other spaces.
Dan (05:13): Yeah. And, you know, I think our views of the world maybe are slightly different. Cause I tend to see one of the things that, and it depends of course, on the type of e-commerce business, whether it's B2B or B2C. But what we have seen historically, and there's a joke inside of our company that B2C marketers, e-commerce is what we're talking about, are fighting basically with sticks and stones.
And then when you talk to a B2B marketer, typically not going to be e-commerce right, but typically fighting with machine guns and crossbows and all kinds of stuff, which are really intimidating.
So I, what I will say is I, while I am saying somewhat I disagree with you, I actually do agree with you on the data-driven part heavily. And the reason why I say that is in B2B companies, when you have this larger transaction, that's a sale through Salesforce, you lose track of that, the time that it becomes a lead, right?
Dan (05:58): Like it becomes a lead and then its in Salesforce and like, okay, well that's sales's problem. So there's hence why there's a little bit of that separation there. And then same in SaaS, like there's that first purchase, but then there's this subscription, right.
Which they don't really track, but in e-commerce right, the marketer is heavily responsible, even more so than in any other company for the purchase, which is the only thing there is now, the marketer is also responsible for the repeat purchase, which is usually what marketers are not responsible for in any of those other situations.
So I will agree with you in an e-commerce there's this innate focus on performance marketing, and then as well as the purchases, because that performance marketing, paid media, whatever it may be in there is so directly connected to their success and failure that it's just, they're, they're extremely focused on that.
Dan (06:42): And I think performance marketers in general are very, very data-driven on that that spectrum of what they're looking at, but it's also a shorter cycle. Like I think about, so one of our clients is Hydro, right? Hydro is the Peloton of rowing. And they are super focused on paid media because that's where all their stuff comes from. So we are constantly analyzing their data and looking at that tiny little funnel. So there's definitely a big data-driven focus, but the way that they look at that data compared to like some of my SaaS companies or my B2B companies, very, very different. And I'm not saying anything is lesser or more on either side. I'm just saying the way that they look at the data and what they're looking at of course is very, very different.
Kathleen (07:19): You make some really good points and I should actually append my comment to say that there's, it's impossible to make sweeping statements about quote unquote e-commerce because that is a very, very large basket of companies.
And I think the companies that we've started to deal with tend to be maybe on the mid market side, as opposed to the micro side, there are, it's a lot of teeny tiny mom and pop e-commerce businesses that I'm certain are not employing you know, world-class growth marketers. So I should clarify those comments that I made.
Dan (07:51): I mean, I have to say so, and we, we have very fortunate to work with hundreds of clients at this point. Some of the biggest companies that we've worked with, like, and I'm not going to say their names, but like large companies, their marketers were, we were like, how do you guys even sell this stuff?
Like, how did you, but then you realize, okay, well, not everybody wants to work at a large company. Like in the mid market, that's where you see some of the bad-ass people cause everybody, and especially with millennials and even more so now gen Z, they want to make an impact and they want to see growth. So at a big company, they can't make an impact. There's just, it's just too, what am I going to do?
I'm going to make one thousandth of a percent of a difference? Like I don't care. So I think the mid market where you're talking about for sure, you're going to see a lot more of that like, let's get this. So yeah, I think some of the best marketers I meet are at small companies and they're just so smart that their company is small because of it. So it goes both ways. It goes both ways.
Kathleen (08:46): Great point. Well, one of the things that I think is interesting is you've done some work on the concept of personalization and how marketers can use that through the customer journey in order to improve outcomes. Tell me a little bit more about what you're doing there.
Dan (09:04): Yeah. So personalization to me is amazing, right? Like I love being able to personalize every single thing to the individual we're interacting with, whether that's online or offline. So I definitely like to be able to consume as much data as we can.
And we've done everything from personalization, like hardcore personalization and direct mail to obviously retargeting programs, email things SMS, every single channel you can imagine we've been able to do really, really hardcore personalization. And just as a, as a fun test, and I don't I don't know how well your audience is, is it okay that I have an SMS test and show everybody something to test out?
So in, in marketing naturally, there's the ability to do data enrichment. So what we did is we felt that we would try to make people aware with just your email. We can kind of come up with some creepy information.
Dan (09:47): So what I want ever to do is pull out your cell phone and I'm going to tell you to text the word creepy to this phone number. And if you do this, and you're well known on the internet, it tells you everything we found out about you on the internet.
Kathleen (10:03): Oh can I do it as we're talking?
Dan (10:03): Absolutely. And it's about your company and it's about you and things like that. Now, I haven't tested this service out. We made this for a conference and it did very well, but the phone number is (415) 915-9011. So I'll say that again. (415) 915-9011 and text "creepy" to it. When you text creepy to it, give it a little bit, it will text you back and it should ask you for your email.
Now, if it doesn't email you back and if it doesn't text you back and ask for your email, shoot me an email at email@example.com because I want to know why it's not working. But that being said, you should get a text back in a little bit. That then says, Hey, tell me your email. When you get that email, give it your email and go through the process. And then we'll come back to this conversation later.
Kathleen (10:48): I am super interested to see what this turns up, especially because like, side note, I can definitely be found on the internet, but it's really funny. I got a Google alert for my name. This was several months back. And it was an article that was written saying that I was one of the top 10 women in computer science.
And I was like, what the heck is going on here? And there's a famous woman named Kathleen Booth who invented like computer programming language, who I don't even think he's alive anymore. And Google was pulling my picture for her Wikipedia entry. And so when people were writing this article, they like tagged my Twitter account and put my picture.
Kathleen (11:25): I was like, really? Wow. I wish I could take credit for all that, but I can not.
Dan (11:30): Use your corporate address when it does ask you for your email, but it takes a few minutes for it to respond back. It's doing some backwards math right now. So, but use your corporate address that way and also give you your company email. But for us, when we think about any one of our clients or anybody out there doing personalization is there's all these other places to get information from. So with just an email address, you can ping full contact com.
It will give you all kinds of demographic information. You can ping clearbit.com. It'll give you firmographic, demographic and technographic information. You could ping builtwith and just get technographic. You can ping Tower Data. You could be super expensive and go to Melissa Data or Experian. The creepiest thing that I ever got was I wanted to test out Experian data. They have it on their website. I don't know where, but you can put in anybody's email and they'll tell you what they know about that person.
And I put in my wife's email Meredith at amazing corps.com. It told me that she has kids, she's into soccer, she's into baseball, she drives a large SUV, like, and it gave me like 35 attributes. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is so creepy. But that's, that's the truth.
Kathleen (12:31): Use your powers for good and not evil.
Dan (12:34): Yeah, it's totally. But like I've done some crazy stuff in personalization. We learned this from OkCupid. There's a, when we know where you are from your IP, we know exactly where you are, your lat, longitude. We know where you are basically within a hundred miles guaranteed. And if we ask you for your zip code, we know where you are within usually five miles, right? So if we know the weather, we can change the experience that you're going to have on our website or in an email or in a text message because it's now raining.
So as an example, and I can't say the client's name, unfortunately, but just imagine you're Banana Republic, right? Very, very large company. They have the budget to do this. And you go to their website because you're trapped inside because it's rainy. And as soon as you come to the website, you start seeing people in rain attire.
Dan (13:16): Well, you were immediately connected to that experience. There there's, there's a one-to-one match. You're going to be engaged. Now, if it's sunny outside, you can make it so there's a sunny experience. You're going to be engaged. So by simply knowing the local weather, you can, you can engage the consumer at a much better way and optimize their experience and sell more products.
And this is done, even like Burger King. Burger King is the best. I think they, they did the best thing. If you're within 500 yards of a McDonald's, we will give you a free Whopper. Just download the Burger King app and we'll prove it to you. You would drive within 500 yards of a McDonald's and you would get a notification. You have five minutes to claim your free Whopper, go to a Burger King now.
Kathleen (13:58): That's genius. I have not heard about that one before, but Burger King has such good marketing. I mean, so good.
Dan (14:05): Because of their stack, they bought a contract with mParticle and Radar, and they, they built this amazing stack to do these cool things and the campaign crushed it. Like, just so those are the types of personalization, things that like, I get super focused and excited about because you're starting to take into consideration all the things that maybe people aren't telling you as well.
Kathleen (14:24): So I have a lot of questions, but before I get to them about, specifically about the stack and about personalization, the one that immediately prings to mind when I hear something like this is like, is this the kind of thing that smaller companies can do? Or do you have to be like Burger King or Banana Republic? Or what have you.
Dan (14:43): Great question. And for me, yes, as a small company, you can do these things. It is going to take a little bit of elbow grease, not going to lie. It is going to take some work, but you can definitely do it. So in my book, so I wrote the book Build Cool Shit. Really, really short book, about 125 pages. It's got color pictures in. It makes it nice and easy to read. What I always struggled with is I've worked with some of the, I mean, I've worked with some of the best companies out there and I get to work with some of the smallest companies. I always feel bad because they're not playing at the same playing field, right? Like, so in my book, if you went to mcgaw.io, my book is offered for free in the top of the headline.
Dan (15:17): You can definitely go there and do it and get a free copy of it. And the whole point is about talking about how do you break down the stack to make this easy for a small business to understand, and then also hook them up with the tools which are going to be free for them to use.
So, as an example, we love using Segment to implement our stacks because it makes integration easy. Well, Segment is free for most small businesses. Maybe it's a hundred dollars a month, right? Maybe it's a hundred bucks. That's not that much of a cost for the value that you're going to get in return out of it.
If you set things up correctly, you then have Autopilot, which is the marketing automation tool that we recommend. You can get Autopilot for less than a hundred dollars a month, but it does a lot of powerful stuff.
Dan (15:51): You can build SMS bots with it. You can do direct mail directly through the product. You can do email marketing, you can do on site pop-ups, it does pretty much everything. And it's extremely easy for a small business use. You just have to invest the time to learn it. I'm actually staring at my Autopilot dashboard right now, waiting for your text message to come in, which it just pinged the system.
So you should get a text back in just a second, by the way. Naturally Autopilot is easy, but if you then set up Amplitude, don't get me wrong, it's not the easiest platform in the world is set up but you can do it. Just hire somebody on Upwork, you know, have amazing marketing analytics and amazing way to pass your customer data and an amazing way to do marketing automation and engagement. So you can do these things. It just takes some, some elbow grease. It's not going to be easy, right. But a small business can afford it. And a small business can definitely do it.
Kathleen (16:36): So Segment, Autopilot and Amplitude are the ones that you've just mentioned is that right?
Dan (16:42): Yep. Segment, Autopilot, Amplitude would be the three easy tools to get set up. So you can have interesting superpowers.
Kathleen (16:47): And I, I'm not familiar with Amplitude. What does that one do?
Dan (16:50): Yeah, so Amplitude. So you have Google analytics, which tells you kind of what's happening on your site, but it tells you more about traffic and channels. Amplitude is going to enable you to be able to see much more of the behavior that somebody is using and then track what an individual user is doing.
So as somebody who's using your website, you can of course, track who that person is, see what pages they visit to see what's going on and better understand their analytics. Amplitude is a little bit more advanced, but it is going to give you the ability to track your e-commerce funnel. It's going to give you better ability to track repeat purchase rate. As you might be familiar, Google analytics doesn't track repeat purchase rate. It also doesn't track revenue per customer. Amplitude is going to be able to give you those features.
Kathleen (17:27): Oh, shoot. I just responded to your text with the creepy experiment and my phone auto corrected my email address. Just something different. So can I still send the correct one or is that, is it now not going to work?
Dan (17:40): It's not going to work.
Kathleen (17:41): Okay. I'm going to start it over.
Dan (17:45): So you cannot. Let's look the logic, so to see what happens, it is going to take your email. Oh, you're, you're, you're so trapped in it.
Kathleen (17:57): I'm so sad now because I was really excited about that. Darn autocorrect!
Dan (18:01): Wait five minutes and then it should correct itself.
Kathleen (18:07): So I can resend the creepy?
New Speaker (18:11): It has a five minute delay, so that at the end of five minutes, it will kick you out of the journey and you can start it over again. So we'll try it again in five minutes.
Kathleen (18:18): Cool. I'm like so bummed out. All right. So, so it's accessible to small businesses. Let's talk about as the, as the business gets larger, what other tools are in the toolbox? And like, talk to me about like really, how does this play out in terms of how this information is used in the customer journey?
Because my one thing about personalization is like, I get that you can use it a million different ways, but I do feel like there are some things you can do that, like they're fun and they're novel, but are you really going to see anything from them? You know what I mean? Like is the juice worth, the squeeze kind of thing.
Dan (18:55): Yeah. And that's definitely a big one is a lot of companies don't understand which juice is worth squeezing. Right. So, cause if you squeeze lime juice, like naturally nobody cares. So it would totally agree with you there. I think the biggest thing that we have to focus on is one, how do we as part of the customer experience, tailor that experience, so they're going to purchase more, right? Just because you can create magic doesn't mean that you should.
And I think a lot of companies where this really goes awry, just because you can create automation, they create a ton of it. And just because you have automation doesn't mean you should know the hell out of me. Like if you sat in a restaurant, somebody leaned over your shoulder and was like, Hey, you want to buy the glass of wine.
Dan (19:28): You'd be like, I'm good. But if they did that every 35 minutes, right, while you're at the restaurant, you're like, I'm never coming back to here again. Right. So you make sure that you do it ethically and kind of with a right frame of mind to get them to purchase. But when you think about trying to like, keep it really, really simple in regards to like personalization, try to help people pick up where they left off.
Right? So we worked with a company called Carolina Designs Realty out of the Outer Banks. They're one of the largest vacation rental realtor companies. When you go to the Outer Banks. So they have like 300 something homes all over the place. They're like the premier vendor, great company.
One of the things that we did to help them really be able to maximize their revenue was is that when people basically came in to check out houses, we set it up so that every single time they looked at a house, their marketing automation tool would save the URL of the previous house that they were at.
Dan (20:17): So as they're going through the website, they also have the ability to save a listing. So they would hit save a listing. It would save that listing, save it in marketing automation, send them an email with their saved listing. Great.
We saved their listing. We sent that on. Now that wasn't rocket science to build, but it really helped get people back into the process. So having the ability to favorite something in an e-commerce store and then saving that, and then emailing it to them, that's personalization, that's still personalizing their experience.
Now what you need to do to make that even more effective is that when you then send your newsletter or your thing, the bottom of the email, add a little spot that says pick up where you left off. Show an image of the product that they last looked at, the name of the product and anything on it, and then offer them a 10% discount on it, right?
Dan (20:58): Like, come back, pick up where you left off, we'll offer you 10% off. Just use this promo code. Building those systems, while it sounds really difficult, really isn't that hard? Yes. If you need help, email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll send you to the exact webinar where we show you how to do this.
I talk about it in my book as well, but that kind of little personalization is how you get people back into the funnel. Right. And that's what a lot of this stuff needs to be focused on is how do we get them back to purchasing, but making it more personalized to them.
Kathleen (21:27): So I will, if you send me the link, I will definitely include the link to that webinar in the show notes to make it easy for people to find it. Cause I do think that that would be interesting. When does personalization, speaking of your earlier experiment, get creepy? Because there is a little bit of a big brother aspect to it. Just because you can doesn't mean you should, there's the annoyance factor, but then there's also the creep out factor,
Dan (21:55): Super, super creep out factor. Right. So definitely happens, not gonna lie. So I have a talk that I did called When Personalization Gets Creepy and How Not To Do It Wrong. And that's where this whole automation came from is this whole creepy request. Right? So either way, there's definitely times when it goes wrong.
So, and I'll use just a couple simple examples. I mean, Target, as an example, got really, really creepy back in the early two thousands. Target can predict with 85% accuracy that you're pregnant.
Kathleen (22:27): Oh, I heard these stories.
Dan (22:28): Yeah. And they sent a mailer, a direct mailer to a 16 year old girl who was pregnant based upon her loyalty card usage. And the father lost his mind. The father then had to apologize. He went to the news, complained. He then had to apologize because come to find out his daughter was pregnant. Now that's pushing it too far. Now Target made a mistake. It is what it is. Like, whatever.
Kathleen (22:48): They also did similar things and targeted women who had just had miscarriages, which didn't go over really well.
Dan (22:55): Yeah. That doesn't go off well. Pinterest did the same things with brides. Just because you're looking at wedding dresses doesn't mean that you're going to have a wedding. It just means you like the dress. So that was super hysterical. And then Shutterstock had a snafu with baby pictures, people looking at baby pictures, congratulations on your new baby. And it's like, this is not my baby. So, so people, we always make mistakes and sometimes you have to understand like whatever, like we're going to make a mistake. And I think sometimes we get too worried about being crazy.
But there are times that you shouldn't be telling people, Hey, we know where you are like, Oh, like, you don't need to tell me that. So like there's definitely ways that you can kind of push that line. But the thing that we always try to tell people is like, don't use their images and stuff. Like try not to sound if it sounds creepy, like just, just put that little bit on there.
Kathleen (23:51): It's so funny. Cause as you're saying this, it's reminding me of that little, like song about Santa. He knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake. And I'm like, Santa sounds really creepy now.
Dan (24:03): I totally agree with you on that one. Right. So Santa can sound really, really creepy sometimes. Yeah, I would agree. But yeah, just don't be creepy is the big one.
Kathleen (24:13): So talk me through, if you would some actual examples of companies or customers and you can anonymize them if you need to, but like use personalization as part of their marketing and like what really have the results been. Because again, I think there's many ways you can use this. Not all of them will actually produce results. So I'm curious to know like what kind of a lift does it give you?
Dan (24:38): Yeah, great question. So we worked with an easy story that I can think about is we worked with a large vegan company. So their job was to sell vegan products. Vegan softwares, vegan stuff. And people really, really know of them in this market. So people would come to their website because they found a vegan recipe or because they found them through their content or something like that. And they would, they would download a recipe, right? They'd type in their email.
Here's your vegan recipe. We sent you an email with that recipe. Check it out. Now with that email, we would also ask the question, Hey, where are you at in your vegan transition? Because if you don't know, most people who are looking at vegan recipes, aren't vegan. They're trying to become vegan. They're vegan, curious as we might say. So we had to understand where were they at in that buyer's journey to make sure that we could deliver the right products to them at the right time.
Dan (25:28): And this was the best type of personalization. If you're vegan, you probably liked our dressings or our grain kits. If you're not vegan and you're trying to become vegan and failing, you probably need access to our cooking school or our meal planning service or something else. You needed more help there.
So the first email you would get would ask you, where are you at in your vegan journey? Are you just vegan curious? Are you trying to become vegan and struggling? Are you currently crushing it and need more help? Or are you completely vegan and you don't need us for anything? People would click on that button.
It would have a UTM parameter, which you know what a UTM is right. So click on that. They go back to the website, the website would know the UTM parameters. We now see that in Google analytics, which was great. Our automation tool would save that and then bucket all of those users into the right journey.
Dan (26:11): So with that being said, the user would now their next email would be focused on products which of course would be better able to serve them. So as an example, if I'm vegan curious, and I don't know what it is, I'm going to be sent information. This is why you should become vegan. Maybe you should look at your heart. Maybe you should look at your diabetes. Maybe you should look at these things. What we're able to do, what our major metric was, is you don't want to look at purchase rate cause sometimes that can be a little skewed based upon the people you're getting. What we looked at, what we were most focused on, was the average lifetime value of a customer. Could we get a customer from spending $25 to spending $50 or spending more? And then we track each one of those cohorts of users.
Dan (26:47): So the users who were already vegan, we weren't making any money on them because we kept sending them stuff saying, why don't you sign up for our cooking class or sign up for a meal planning class. They don't need that. They're already vegan. Well, because we started sending them the things they would actually use, like grain kits or something like that, or cereal, something that they could actually eat. We're actually able to double their lifetime value in a very, very short period of time because now they're actually being served stuff that they care about.
That's the easiest personalization you can do. I mean, that's list segmentation. So that type of stuff makes a massive impact. But going back to leveraging Segment, leveraging a good marketing automation tool, having Amplitude, I had Amplitude in that case. So I could actually see those metrics. I could see those cohorts. I could see the amount of money I made for each one of those cohorts because I had the analytics. I could really track that stuff.
Kathleen (27:31): That's cool.
Dan (27:34): So, okay. So I got a notification. I hate to text. You can text creepy. You've been kicked out of the journey. I do know that you're I did get some facts about you, which have already been populated into the system.
Kathleen (27:45): Is it the right me?
Dan (27:47): Well email@example.com.
Kathleen (27:50): Yeah. It's missing the o. Auto-correct removed it.
Dan (27:53): I got you. I got your your address. So from the mistake, is the company in Annapolis?
Kathleen (28:00): Nope, that's my home.
Dan (28:02): Oh, see, look at that. Right. I got your zip code and Annapolis already. Don't even have the correct email. I apologize to interject with the creepy thing again.
Kathleen (28:13): That's good. I love this. I love that we're doing this real time. It's awesome.
Dan (28:17): The segmentation is huge. So we did the same thing in my book. If you, if you check out the book, we use a company called realthread.com. They're actually a company. They make t-shirts.
Kathleen (28:27): I know Real Thread. I used to be head of marketing for a company and they, we had a partnership with them and they did all of our t-shirts for our conferences and they would actually send a team to the event and like screen print on the shirts live.
Dan (28:42): I loved it. Yeah. Oh, that's awesome. So Real Thread has been a client of ours for five years. Like they've been around since like the beginning. I'm buddies with the founder and stuff like that. Now we did the same thing when people signed up for their email list because they have multiple different personas.
So, Hey, thanks for joining our email list. We just want to make sure that we don't send you crappy email. Are you a designer, a business owner, a t-shirt a marketer, like, what are these things? People click on the button, we then change their experience.
So now when we send our newsletter, instead of sending business owners, you should choose the right Pantone for the inks that you put on your shirt. The CEO doesn't care about pantones. If you don't know what pantones are, those are colors. Some. Very rarely, right. So this same thing is in my book, it talks about how you can create that system to make it so you can segment your list. And I think that's what most people really, they don't ask enough questions.
They make assumptions. And it's like, your customers are nine times out of 10 willing to give you the information. If you phrase it in a way that's going to make their experience. Everybody uses Facebook, even though they know their data is being sold because they know it makes their experience better. Right? Like tell we're going to make your experience better. And they'll tell you information. Yeah.
Kathleen (29:44): It's the whole principle behind like, choose your own adventure. You know, and I love the idea of years ago I spoke to somebody at HubSpot. It was a woman who ran their email strategy and they, they made a change along these lines where after you first converted on something they would put you into this, this nurturing sequence that was like the first immersion I think they called it. And the first email you got was exactly like what you're talking about. And it was sort of like, which of these problems are you trying to solve? And depending upon which one you clicked, that would then determine the rest of the nurturing sequence, which makes all the sense in the world. So choose your own adventure. Definitely works. And that, that kind of like leads me to what my next question was going to be, which is, you know, we're talking about how to use it in e-commerce and it's so clear to me as a buyer, just the value in having like reminders about things I've looked at or favorited and customized product recommendations. But how do you apply this in B2B?
Dan (30:46): Yeah, so B2B. You perfectly teed up my next story, which is great. So this is hysterical that you asked that question. So I'll use the email example because this is really, really simple. And I can't talk about the company name, but they are very large video hosting company. So I can say that. So this video hosting company basically sells a high-end video player that you can put on your website, right? And when you come to their site, let's say, Dan@mcgaw.io, I sign up at that moment in time. We ping a service called Builtwith and Builtwith knows every technology that's on every website on the internet. So we hit Builtwith.com. Builtwith then spits back a payload of all the technologies that are on that website. So very easily, we now know that the company is using Marketo. Hey, we know they have money, right.
Dan (31:30): So that's great. But with, they also get all the video streaming they're using. So YouTube is on there. Vimeo was on there, things like that. So when that happens, our marketing automation tool, which was HubSpot, interestingly enough, HubSpot then knows in their first email, after their welcome email, we now need to focus on the value props we have over Vimeo. What do we do that Vimeo does not? What do we do that YouTube does not? And then when that email would go, and it would explain our value props in an order where we knew we were strong and where we knew they were weak, right. So we can actually compete with that. We never once said the creepy, this is where people get wrong with the creepy. We never once said, we know you have Vimeo.
Kathleen (32:08): We notice upon stalking your site.
Dan (32:12): Yeah. Now in an automated email, you don't want to say that. Now in a sales email not so bad. Right? Cause we automated sales emails.
Kathleen (32:20): That just means you've done your homework.
Dan (32:21): We didn't do our homework. They were automated. You just thought a person did their homework.
Kathleen (32:24): I mean, like when you send a sales email it means you as the sales person have done your homework, if you say, I noticed on your website, X, Y, and Z, like fine. Yeah.
Dan (32:32): That's totally fine. Even though automation may have happened. So either way this, these emails were sent out and we were able to increase engagement of the emails. Now, I can't remember, this is nearly five years ago. I don't remember the exact statistics on that, but I do know that we have very good lift on the engagement of those new emails. And then of course, being able to get people to stay involved in the email sequence. And that is a very stereotypical way to get people's attention, leveraging that data enrichment once again, to better personalize, better segment that email for that person. And we were able to get much better engagement out of those emails. And of course, turning into purchases.
Kathleen (33:06): It sounds like you could easily get into a territory where you're using a lot of different tools to put these kinds of programs together. And in doing so, data is moving between many different platforms. I mean, like, you know, you talked about using HubSpot and my company, for example, we have HubSpot and Salesforce and those are, you know, just enough work to keep those two systems of record in sync. Do you find that when you get into these areas of, of cobbling together, different systems that you need to put like a customer data platform in place? Or or are you finding that the tools are getting sophisticated enough that they can all talk to each other in a way that keeps them in sync?
Dan (33:55): Yeah, really, really good question. So I definitely think so, going back to, I definitely think companies should start out with the right CDP. So a customer data platform is really helpful. And I think the reason why a customer data platform is helpful is not what usually people were thinking of. Segment as an example, which is the biggest CDP in the market. The primary value that Segment started with is that you basically send all of your data to one thing and it distributes that data to everything else. This is a great reduction in developer time, right? So instead of spending five hours implementing this new tracking event or this new thing, I only have to spend maybe a half an hour because I only have to write the code once compared to having to write it 16 times for all these different tools. So that's the, the real initial value of where like the CDP kind of came into place is distribution of that, that stuff.
Dan (34:40): Now they do help with integration, but at the same time, you're not going to replace HubSpot and Salesforce's integration. You're still going to need that. A customer data platform does not solve that problem necessarily. It can, but it, it now you're working with some really, really big, expensive CDPs, which just are usually pricing a lot of people, a lot of people out of the market. So in that case, when you're trying to keep two systems up to date, one, a CDP is helpful. Segment is of course going to help us so that you have a live stream of data getting in there, but that's going to be really where you start getting into the place of where you're leveraging tools like Zapier, right? Zapier is going to help keep that stuff together. And there's, there's more enterprise competitors, Zapier like Tray.io or Workado that are becoming really popular.
Dan (35:20): If there's also a technology called hull.io and they're beta basically a data orchestration tool. And then if you get super crazy, you leverage tools like Fiveran or funnel.io or Stitch data. These are going to manage large, large, large datasets, but for most people, right, HubSpot and Salesforce, they have a great integration. Right. And just make sure it doesn't break. And then when you're trying to make data get into all these tools, cleanly, that's where a CDP really comes in. But the CDP I would say is higher up the funnel compared to like, where I would say, HubSpot and Salesforce is kind of in the middle. And I would say Zapier is below the funnel. It's interesting. I have an online course, which I always forget that I have this course. Kind of embarrassing.
Dan (36:04): I have an online course at cxl.com. So CXLInstitute.com. It's how to build a MarTech stack in like class three, which is also a free webinar on my website. You don't have to buy my course. You can go to my website and get the webinar. We talk about the three types of integration.
You have platform side integration, you have service side integration. You have clients that integration, it's important to understand those three and how you build things out as marketers. We're more so using the platform side integration, HubSpot, Salesforce, Zapier, and for anybody out there who says Zapier is Zapier.
Kathleen (36:34): That is the GIF v JIF debate of the data world.
Dan (36:38): Yeah. When you go talk to the founders and you're talking about it, they're like Zapier makes you happier. And I was like, totally get it. So, I'm doing my service to help them out and get the right name out there. So I always recommend Zapier to try to hook all the things together because you can do some really, really cool stuff with Zapier.
Kathleen (36:55): I do feel like though, and I agree with you. I love Zapier. And I've interviewed, I've had a couple of interviews with people like big, big company marketers, but also like teeny tiny dot com company marketers doing unbelievable things with Zapier.
Like I interviewed one guy who was pretty much a solopreneur attorney who does his own marketing for his own solo practice. And that guy has like built marketing automation out of Zapier. Like he's, he runs his entire business on it. And the only thing that makes me nervous when I hear stories like that is, I'm like one thing breaks and the whole house of cards comes crumbling down. It's that, that makes me so nervous.
Dan (37:33): No, I, I can totally understand that. And that makes me nervous as well. Right? Not going to lie with like running everything through Zapier, but at the same time, I mean, I have over 50, 50 zaps right now, but most of my zaps are like automating my calendar, adding my zoom link to my emails and my Gmails and like my favorite use for Zapier in our company.
So when we win a deal, we have to create a Trello board, create a Harvest project, create a Slack channel, inform the sales team. And for the services team, all our sales rep has to do, is move the opportunity to closed won, and everything is automatically created. Everything's handled. And our assistant just goes in and does some polish and it's all automated. So to me, that's really the use case of Zapier is a lot more workflow automation.
Kathleen (38:16): Yeah. I would agree with you. All right, well, we're going to switch gears because we could talk about this forever, but we do not have forever? So I want to ask you the two questions I always ask all of my guests. The first one you know, the podcast is all about inbound marketing. Who do you think, either a company or an individual, is really doing great work in the inbound marketing world?
Dan (38:39): Yeah. So I thought about this twice, right? So like I had to have two answers, one, I think Segment.com. I know we've talked about them a lot, but Segment has some of the best content on the internet and they do a great job with their inbound stuff. I think they really, really focus on helping people.
And it's less on trying to be a it's more altruistic than like, Oh, come to my site so I can hit you with 55 pop-ups. And they just, they really have great content and they cover a lot of different people and it really drives a lot of traffic. And I have to say it, even though I don't want to. So I was the head of marketing at Kissmetrics and I learned a lot about content marketing while at Kissmetrics. I mean, we were the number one digital marketing blog for a long time.
Dan (39:16): And we drove a ton of traffic and Sean Work who worked with me. I love that guy, cause he ran the blog for me and did a great job. But Neil Patel, man, I used to work with that guy. Very, very smart, smart gentlemen. He has really figured out the content marketing inbound marketing game, even though sometimes he can be a little slimy and a little creepy, I guess, because he's super pushy.
He's a great guy, like personally, like, I know Neil. Like he's one of the only people that I still see at conference circuits. How's your wife, how the kids, right? Like just such a, I don't know, maybe I'm on his good side, but he's a good guy, but he's just really, really talented at inbound marketing.
And the Neil Patel blog just sucks up the internet. Like just honestly sucks up the internet, whether you want to get there or not. If you search for anything in marketing, you're going to wind up with the Neil Patel blog posts in the top page, like on the first page. So I've got to hand it to him.
Kathleen (40:05): Yeah. It's it's funny. Neil Patel is one of those marketers that, that I feel like is polarizing in an interesting way because people either love his stuff or they really, really don't.
Like when I ask this question, I've had a lot of people say, you know, Neil Patel, but then I've also interviewed people who, who are like, not Neil Patel. Yeah. I mean, but I, I think that's great. Like I've always said, if everybody loves you, you're definitely doing something wrong because you're not like, you're not putting your stake in the ground hard enough.
Dan (40:36): His company LLC is I'm a big deal LLC. Right? So like, just gives you an idea of his character. And I have no room to talk at all because Neil and I got along great. My company name before it was Mcgaw.io Was called F'in Amazing right. Because that's just me,
Kathleen (40:54): Which I love. I, when I saw that on your your bio, I was like, Oh, I really liked that name.
Dan (41:00): Yeah. And I'm bummed that we had to change it, but Oh man, since we changed the company name and we've doubled in size, like it's just, we should have changed years ago. But at the end of the day Neil has his persona. He lives his persona. And I mean, he's making millions of dollars. Right?
So like that for him, you don't have to like Ian Lopez or whatever that guy is that's on YouTube making $400 million a year, but he's making, I should say 400 billion a year. I think his networks is like 400 million or something now. You don't have to like him. Take the money.
Kathleen (41:34): That's great. All right. Second question. And particularly interested in your answer because of what you do. A lot of the marketers I talked to express that one of their challenges is that the world of digital marketing is changing so quickly that it's like, you know, keeping up with the pace of technological change in particular, it's like trying to drink from a fire hose. You are very immersed in marketing technology. So how do you keep up with all of it?
Dan (42:02): Yeah. I I'm so bummed for the answer that I have to give here. Cause I am like the last person to do innovation. Right. So I am against the hipsters. Right. So everybody's like, let's sign up for Webflow and I'm like, no, like I'll wait three more years. I'm good with WordPress. Like I don't need to change my solution.
Kathleen (42:17): You're not the guy camping out in front of the Apple store when the new iPhone comes out.
Dan (42:22): Hell no, I didn't get it. I wasn't. I was like the last person that I knew that was on Facebook. Now, when I think about like, I'm using, I've been using Segment for nine years, so naturally I'm on the bleeding edge of some technologies, but it's very, very rare that that really happens. And I actually did not become a fan boy of Segment until about four years ago.
Like I advise my clients against it until about four years ago. And I wait, I'm the early majority. When you think about Crossing the Chasm, but where do I get my information? That's what really, what we wanted to ask first, LinkedIn, I get probably 75 to 85% of my stuff from my LinkedIn. I follow everybody. I don't use Twitter too much. My feed is really from LinkedIn. I follow a lot of really, really important people.
Dan (43:02): I connect with everybody. I mean, I have 25,000 connections, but I follow a lot of smart people. So I get their updates and then that's going to be where I get most of my news. That being said my team keeps me probably up to date with a lot of the crazy technologies because they're interfacing with our clients and our clients are actually the ones that exposed me the most to new tech.
Now what's sad is I have to tell most of my clients, no, we're not doing that. Like that's just too hipster, bro. And for every one of my clients now that has Webflow, I always tickle them and make fun of them and tell them you're a hipster. Let me get you those new glasses. So like I always push back on brand new technology because the internet doesn't work with it.
Dan, let me give you 50 grand to fix this. And I was like, sure, I'll take your money. Right. But why did you have to move to the single page application? Because you were a hipster. If you would've stuck with the, the legacy stuff that would've worked just fine, you would have saved yourself a bunch of money. So I just pushed back and say, sometimes I don't care about staying on the cutting edge. I actually like being old and lame.
Kathleen (44:23): I'm right there with ya. You stick with what works, right.
Dan (44:27): If it's not broke, just maintain it.
Kathleen (44:32): All right, well that brings us to the end of the interview. So before we wrap up, if somebody is listening and they want to learn more about you or connect with you, ask a question, check out some of the resources you've mentioned, what's the best way for them to do that?
Dan (44:48): Yeah. So what I would recommend is you're going to want to go to this website called utm.io, right? Go to utm.io, sign up for a free account. And I'm going to personally email you and say, what's up. And then you can directly communicate back with me. Now I tell you this because I'm of course shamelessly plugging my product, UTM dot IO. And I want to talk to you about how you use UTMs. But that is definitely one of the best ways, I'm on LinkedIn. Follow me on LinkedIn. That's usually where everybody hangs out with me is on LinkedIn, but I don't want to miss out. We messed up this whole creepy text thing.
Kathleen (45:18): Well, we're waiting for the second.
Dan (45:20): We'll text you. There's a, there's now a, it used to say, it will not text you again in one minute, but now the rule has been changed to one hour. So I got an error notification saying someone with this number tried to text in and we can't text them back because it happened, the same message we sent to them one hour ago.
Kathleen (45:39): So tonight I'm going to send one. There you go. I'm going to make this work.
Dan (45:45): And in your next podcast, you're going to update everybody. So you've got to not only listen to this podcast, but the next one to find out.
Kathleen (45:50): Right. Stay tuned for part two. I love it. I love it. And if you're listening, make sure that when you test it, you put a space after your email address to see if your phone is going to auto-correct your address before you hit send. I did not do that, which caused the entire problem. So user error, you can't, you know, there's nothing you can do about that.
All right, well, thank you so much for joining me, Dan. This is awesome. We are wrapping up now and if you're listening and you liked this episode, enjoyed what you heard, learned something new, I would love it if you would head to Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast a review. That is how other people find us. And if you know somebody else who's doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork, because I'd love to make them my next guest. That's it for this week. Thank you so much, Dan.
Dan (46:41): Thank you for having me. Great to meet everybody.
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