This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Rev.com Director Growth Barron Caster talks about the company's process for conducting audience research, and how the insights gleaned from that process have enabled them to triple their landing page conversion rates.
If you like detailed, actionable takeaways, this episode is for you. Barron is sharing his exact process, right down to the nine questions he has his team ask when conducting audience research interviews.
This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live, the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford Connecticut and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel. Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS".
Some highlights from my conversation with Barron include:
Barron runs "growthproduct" and marketing at Rev. Marketing is focused on website traffic and growthproduct is about conversion.
Barron believes that the best way to improve your marketing results is to learn from your customers, so he tries to speak to at least one customer every month.
In addition, the team at Rev uses Net Promoter Scores to track how their customers are feeling about the company's products.
He also has a requirement that everyone on his team meet with at least two customers per quarter to conduct audience research, and they have a stipend to support that effort.
To ensure that the information gathered during customer interviews is accurate, Barron has created a one-pager that details exactly what should go into it, who they should be talking to, what questions they should be asking, etc.
The one pager details the nine specific questions (shared in the transcript below) that his team must ask.
All of the team's audience research interviews are recorded and transcribed using Rev.
There are a dozen people on Barron's growth team and they meet for a half hour every week. During this meeting, they share the findings from their audience research in a "quickfire round" format.
They pull key insights from this research and use the actual words of the customer to update copy on their website and landing pages. This has resulted in a 3X improvement in the company's landing page conversion rates.
Another trick that Barron uses to understand customers is listening to what they are asking on the company's website live chat.
Resources from this episode:
Save 10% off the price of tickets to IMPACT Live with promo code "SUCCESS"
I'm your host Kathleen Booth, and this week my guest is Barron Caster who is the Director of Growth at Rev.com. Welcome, Barron.
Barron Caster (Guest): Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Barron and Kathleen hamming it up while recording this episode
Kathleen: This is such a cool interview for me to do because I use your product every single week.
And so for those listening who don't know what Rev.com is, Barron can give a more complete description, but I will just say I do this podcast. If you listen with any degree of regularity and if you visit my show notes, all of the show notes are transcribed using Rev. So I send Rev, through the cloud, I send my audio file, and then usually within a few hours it comes back, and it's this beautifully transcribed, written version that I don't have to do myself.
So I love Rev.com, and we use it for other things too. As a team we create the SRT files, which is what we use to caption our social videos, and many other things as well. So I'm really excited to have you here for that reason.
Barron: Thank you. I'm excited to be here and excited to talk about what you just did for us, which is using customers' words to inform and educate other people, and to show the value of the services you provide. So thank you for the glowing introduction.
Kathleen: Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure. There's nothing better than talking about a product you actually use and love.
Barron: Totally hear you.
Kathleen: Speaking of which, though, I know I only use certain parts of your product. So before we dig into the actual meat of the conversation, can you just take a minute and tell the listeners a little bit more, first of all about yourself, because you have an interesting background.
You've been an entrepreneur. You've been a venture capitalist. You've done a lot of different things, and so I think that's kind of interesting as far as how it influences the work you do now.
And then also give us the quick spiel on Rev and all of its different products so that people listening have a sense for the full breadth of what the company does.
About Rev.com and Barron Caster
Barron: Cool. Thank you. Yes. I'll give a quick introduction on myself. I started with an education in mechanical engineering. I got my undergrad and master's from USC in Los Angeles. And then I promptly threw my degree to the side and became a venture capitalist looking at the wearables, healthcare, and mobile spaces.
And I worked at a firm called General Catalyst, evaluated early stage investments, and realized that before I wanted to spend more time investing, I really wanted to get operational and figure out the inner workings of a great company and see what that looks like. So I joined the fastest growing company at the time. It was called Zenefits.
Kathleen: We are also a customer of Zenefits. I love them.
Barron: You're a customer. Rev is also a customer of Zenefits. It was the fastest company at the time to go from zero to $60 million in AR, and I was there at an incredible scaling time of the company, saw a lot of incredible things there, met tons of amazing people, and then after being there and seeing this crazy scaling period, they started to have some issues, but I saw a future for myself in product, which I was not doing at Zenefits.
So then I moved to Rev, which I'd never heard of at the time, to join as a product manager.
And at the time, Rev only had a few services. I joined as a product manager on our core transcription service. The one that you just talked about so gracefully. Thank you for that. And then I started our growth team.
I've been at Rev now three years, and I now run all of our growthproduct, and marketing. So "growthproduct" is one word and then marketing. And growthproduct is a few product managers working on products that once people are actually on our site, convince them to use our services and marketing as all of the things that inform customers about our services.
So you also think about it in terms of traffic and conversion. Marketing is the traffic and brings people awareness and educates them, and then conversion is once they're actually on Rev properties, how do we convince them to buy from us?
Kathleen: Great. And one of the things I thought was so interesting about your background, and I'm kind of jealous I have to admit, is that I have always wanted to go through Brian Balfour's Reforge program.
Barron: Oh yes.
Kathleen: I follow him really closely online. I love every single thing he writes about growth and product market fit, and all of that. You've been through that program, so I'm kind of excited to see how that comes into the conversation, or if it does.
Barron: Brian and everyone from the Reforge program are incredible. He leads the thinking in a lot of ways and has helped define what growth teams look like. I went through the program when we didn't have a growth team at Rev. I think it was a month old, and I was the first person on it working with one of our co-founders trying to figure out what should the growth team look like longer term and what should be build towards.
So by looking at all the frameworks and ways it's built at different companies, that helped us inform what it should look like at Rev because growth teams are going to look totally different based on the company and the people within the company, but it's really good to talk to other people who have done it.
And we do that for all of our learnings at Rev. We try to talk to industry experts and figure out how are the best people doing it.
How Rev.com Conducts Audience Research
Kathleen: Love it. So when you started talking about how you kind of handle marketing and you handle growthproduct and you think of traffic and conversion as those two sides of the coin, and when you and I first spoke, you talked about how a big factor that influences how you approach these things is the audience research that you do.
So maybe we could just start out there and you could talk a little bit more about audience research and where that fits within your strategies.
Barron: I think it should help inform almost all strategies at the company, not just on the growth team but in pretty much all the things that we do. And I think there's just a number of ways that you can do customer research. One of the best is talking to them.
So, take it a step back. A lot of marketers really love... They work for companies. They know what their company offers, and they love talking about all of the things that their company does today because they know the features. They talk to the people that are building them. They hear a lot of about why they're great.
But what you really need to do is get out of the building, talk to your customers and understand why are they actually using you. What value does your service provide? How do you change their lives? What do they like, not like about it. What they want to improve, to really narrow down what is special about your product and service. How are you differentiated?
We do it in a number of ways. I think talking to people is always great. I try to have at least one very in-depth customer conversation a month, even though I'm not even working day-to-day on specific channels or features, just to help inform the sorts of things we're doing.
And then we also have a lot of other inputs from customers, whether it be Net Promoter Score, online ratings and reviews, and reading where people are talking about you online, emails to support, talks from sales, all of these different places are ways to get as much feedback as possible to help inform what you're doing.
Kathleen: And I like that you try to do it once a month. That's something that I'm kind of working on too which is when you're in marketing, you're not always in a position where you have direct customer contact, but it is so important to come up with some kind of a cadence so that you don't become so out of touch.
Barron: 100%. And I've actually... on my team started creating requirements that people get out of the building, we have a stipend for it, talk to customers, meet them in person, hear about their journey, how they found out about us, what they're using us for, what they love, don't love, all those sorts of things for at least two customers per quarter.
It's a requirement even though many people will never have customer interaction in their day-to-day. I think it's essential to have that empathy and understand what are we actually trying to do here.
Kathleen: Oh, I love that. Let's actually get a little bit kind of down to brass tacks here.
You're requiring your team to do these customer meetings or conversations. You're doing some of them. Do you have any kind of guidelines or framework that you use or that you ask them to use for those conversations so that there's some degree of consistency in the information you're getting?
Barron: Yeah. I'm a huge documentation nerd across the board, so whenever I have an idea for a project or things that I want to work on, I write out a document to explain my thinking very clearly and get feedback on it. I think it's extremely important.
So I have a one-pager about the homework, exactly what should go into it, who you should be talking to, what questions you should be asking, all of those kinds of things. And then everyone shares it back in their own format, and then we discuss it as a group.
And I have the questions if you would like to hear them.
Kathleen: Yes. Of course I would like to hear them.
Rev.com's Audience Research Questions
Barron: Great. I like to break it out into almost like the moment before discovery, and then questions around discovery, and then about the service itself.
We have nine key questions and then a couple bonus questions, but they are how did you know that you needed a transcription service? Before Rev, were you using a different transcription service or doing it yourself? So those are kind of how did you know had a need, and what were you doing?
Then how did you find Rev? How did you evaluate Rev, or which transcription service you wanted to use? Those are kind of on the once you've discovered it, how did you actually evaluate it?
And then more into the use case. So what do you use Rev for? What does that process look like? How has Rev changed your life is a really interesting question because it forces them to think about the value you provide and quantify it, which can be very hard for marketers at times to figure out the specifics of value that you add to people.
What is your favorite part about Rev? Least favorite part about Rev? This one is a personal favorite. How would you describe Rev to a friend? What is your service from their perspective? And then who else do you know that might benefit from using Rev? So what other use cases can they think of top of mind that would be relevant?
And then my two bonus questions are what other product app services do you use and love? So you're usually talking to someone who is not like you but they use your service, so what is the typical person that uses your service? What else are they doing? What other things are they reading online? What other actions are they taking to try to see if there are any nuggets in there about other things that you could be doing to get in front of other customers and users. And then also what are your favorite newsletters, podcasts? Like what information do they consume on a regular basis?
Kathleen: I love that. And I really like that you ask that question about how would you describe Rev to somebody else because what's that famous quote they say that, "your brand is what people say about you when you're not there?"
Barron: Yeah, exactly.
Kathleen: That's really what it is. You're finding out what your actual brand is out in the marketplace, as opposed to what you want people to think your brand is. And hopefully-
Barron: I totally agree.
Kathleen: ... those two things match up, but they don't always.
Barron: You want them to, and then if you don't, then you can dig into why.
Deriving Insights From Audience Research
Barron: And then another big requirement around this homework assignment is that all of it is recorded and transcribed using Rev.
So another big piece of it is dogfooding, which is another thing that marketers sometimes don't always do. They take their products at face value instead of really using it, understanding the nuances of what actually looks like for a customer to be spending money on this, and what is the value that it adds back to their life.
So when I ask people what are the insights from it, they actually have to go back, read through our online, easy to use, interactive transcript viewer, and highlight things, comment, do all of those sorts of things, but it really gets them in the mindset of dogfooding and what is the user experience. How should we be talking about it?
Rev's Transcription Services
Kathleen: I'm going to digress for a minute because you as a company have two different transcription options.
There's the one that I have always used which is $1 per minute. Really reasonably priced in my opinion, and it's very accurate, so I don't have to spend a ton of time cleaning up the transcription after I get it.
But then I saw that you recently released, and I'm not sure if it's still in beta or not, a new option that is going to be 10 cents per minute. It sounds like it's AI powered, and it's a great option for people who want like really quick results. Could be a great application for which could be exactly what we're talking about right now which is audience research interviews.
Can you just talk about that for a second and then we'll pick up where we left off?
Barron: Definitely. Rev historically has had a lot- Rev.com has had many human services. We have human audio transcription. We have English captioning for English videos. And then we have foreign subtitles for English videos, and foreign document translation. And it's always had these human services.
But over time we have served many transcription customers, and... over 100,000 transcription customers, and we have all of this information and data about accurate transcription. So we decided as a company to make an investment a few years ago in speech technology. And we said we have the world's leading English dataset around English transcription. We want to create a speech engine around this.
And we have and we launched a consumer version of this under a separate beta brand called Temi.com. For a number of years it's been incredibly successful.
So now we're going to put that automated service that has industry leading accuracy because we have top speech scientists working on our incredible data to make the best engine out there, and we feel like it's in such a good place that we're going to serve it on Rev.com.
So we've been doing it under a separate brand name for a number of years, and we feel like it's more than ready for prime time, so we're bringing it to all of our happy Rev customers who may have always used our human services, and we feel like this will be a great option in addition to our portfolio for certain types of audio.
As you were saying, you don't always need perfect transcription. For this podcast, we're going to have perfect transcription because we want to know exactly the things that were said, but in certain cases, you have tons of interviews and you really just need to know the gist of what people were talking about or pull out some key quotes here and there. And that's when the automated version is ideal.
So right now it's still in early access and we're rolling it out for prime time for all new customers starting in a couple weeks.
Kathleen: That's great.
Barron: And we're really excited for that.
And then we also serve it directly to developers through an API as well under a brand Rev.ai.
Kathleen: Neat. That's going to be a game changer as far as I'm concerned because I have no problem paying $1 per minute for the podcast as you said because it's important. I'm publishing that text. And it's for a variety of reasons, for accessibility, for somebody who wants to read and not listen, it needs to be legible and accurate. But it would be cost prohibitive if I were going to use that service to transcribe every sales call my team did, every meeting we had, every audience research interview. That could get expensive. And so this makes it so... I love that it makes it so accessible and you almost don't have an excuse not to do it, right?
Barron: 100%. And we at first, when we launched our own automated version, we were a little bit worried about cannibalization. We're saying, "Are we disrupting ourselves too much?"
And when we started giving it to customers, we saw no, instead of switching from human to automated, there were actually just recording more and getting more things transcribed. So we saw a lot of lift instead of shift. So we're really trying to broaden the market and make transcription more accessible to a wider audience.
Kathleen: Well, and I can say just... Here's a little bit of audience research for you. Again, we've used it extensively for podcast transcription. I haven't used Rev for transcribing audience research interviews. I will now. It just is... It's so simple. Not trying to do a commercial, but I do love the product, so I wanted to say that.
Barron: I knew you'd turn this into a commercial.
Kathleen: You guys... So you do these interviews. You have the question set. And then I think I heard you say that everyone shares the results of the interviews in their own format. But part of that format is having the actual transcription, correct?
Barron: Correct. We share the transcripts and Rev invests heavily in our online transcript viewer so when you get a transcript back from us, it doesn't just come in a Word doc. It used to, and we realized that people wanted to collaborate around them, so sharing learnings around a transcript.
So we invested heavily in making a very simple, easy to use but robust online editor that people can share with teammates, make comments on, highlight key things, take notes around. Almost like a Google Doc where it's like a online viewer that a lot of people can share and look at together. And that's... yeah. So everyone shares the transcript with other members of the team.
How Rev's Team Uses The Insights From Audience Research In The Company's CRO Strategy
Kathleen: So you're having periodic meetings. How often do those take place where you all get together and review these findings?
Barron: I do quick-fire rounds so we do those like once a quarter based on recent findings, but I encourage people all the time to talk with customers, and we have a budget for that where people can go out and get them transcribed no problem. And I urge people to always share learnings in a transcript back whenever they have them, and then we have a more formal meeting around it once a quarter.
Kathleen: Tell me more about what a quick-fire round is.
Barron: Oh, well we have almost a dozen people on the growth team, so we have a half hour meeting every single week to talk about different key topics. So when I say quick fire it's just everyone talking for a few minutes about the key findings that they had or any interesting insights or use cases that they discovered that weren't on our radar before.
Kathleen: So you're sharing all of this feedback with the team. The team's sharing it with each other. Can you talk a little bit about then how you actually incorporate this into your marketing and your CRO strategies?
Barron: Definitely. Each person on the growth team is working on a different project. So for the marketing team, we're much more channel focused, so we have someone who runs our paid marketing, someone who runs content, someone who runs SEO, someone who runs influencers, and social, and PR. So whenever you hear a customer insight, people on the team try to think about, "How can I incorporate that into the things that I am working on?"
And CRO at Rev lives under the product side of things, and I did CRO for my entire time at Rev. Almost my entire time at Rev.
So when we were working on conversion in A/B testing, we used customers' own words to inform the tests we were doing and actually use it as our own copy. Because we believe that customers understand the value of our services a lot more than we do because they proactively sought us out, started using us, and find value to keep coming back.
So they really understand what value Rev has to offer, and we want to use those insights to help inform the next batch of people that may come across us.
Kathleen: So it's true like voice of the customer application, you're pulling quotes out. You're using those quotes... Or is it full quotes, or is it just instead of calling it a transcription, we call it X kind of thing?
Barron: It's a combination. We have customer testimonials on our website as well, and we also have a Twitter feed that shows real tweets from customers, just more forms of social proof, so that's actually using their own words that they have written. But then we also just use it to inform the landing page copy. Like what are the types of things that customers say about us?
And I could pull up an example. Let's see.
Kathleen: Let's do it.
Barron: On our website, Rev.com/transcription, Audio Transcription Made Simple, that's been a tagline we've had for a while. That's because all of our customers say we're so easy to use.
And I manage our entire self-serve business so it's my job to make sure it stays that way, as easy to use as possible.
But then under the fold, and under the main call to action, we say, "Rev's transcription service help you capture more value from your recorded audio." That came about from me from a customer interview. They said that. They said, "You helped me capture more value from all the things I'm recording."
Kathleen: Great. I love it.
Barron: And we used that, and now we put it smack dab on the page, and people relate to it, and they understand exactly what it means because that was a real problem that someone had. They said, "We're recording all this audio. We're not sure how to get value and insights from it." And they used us, and they said, "This is incredible. You changed the way I work," and I said, "That's amazing. Everyone needs to know that." Right? So that's one example.
And then throughout the page there's other pieces that we've gotten from customers over time.
Kathleen: Great. I love it. And so it sounds like the key to what's making it successful for you guys is having a very systematic approach of everyone's getting out there and doing the interviews. Everyone's having them transcribed. They're coming back. You're all sharing the learnings, and then that can easily be applied.
The Results That Rev Has Seen From This Process
Kathleen: Can you talk a little bit about some of the results you've seen from the experiments you've run using the voice of the customer?
Barron: Yes, I can. And I read a post about this on Medium as well, but in using customers' own words we have managed to triple the... landing-page-to-paid conversion rate for three of our services.
So for the audio transcription, our main service on mobile, we managed to triple the conversion rate, so that means tripling the effectiveness of your ads because you're paying for every time someone comes to your page and you want each of them to convert.
So we've done it for our main transcription service. We did it for our automated transcription service. And we did it for another Rev side project that we ended up actually shuttering a year ago because Rev always tries new ideas and businesses, and we experimented with one that ended up not working, but it wasn't because of our acquisition. It was because of other issues with the business.
Kathleen: Wow. That tripling of the conversion rate, is that kind of an average across the board, or... and are there some pages that have had amazing results and some that are smaller? Or is it usually quite a big impact that those kinds of experiments have?
Barron: We experiment on our main service landing pages. We spend a lot of time and energy getting people to understand what the service is and what value it provides.
I will also say it's easier to test on your highest volume pages because you have more data to make more informed decisions. And you have more customers that you can talk to and learn from as well.
So most of our work usually starts on our highest volume services, and then we transfer those learnings to lower volume services as well. The lion's share of my work has been on our transcription businesses because those are Rev's most mature businesses.
How The Rev Team Conducts CRO Tests
Kathleen: And can you just talk me through how you manage those experiments? Are you starting with a hypothesis and just choosing one variable at a time like classic A/B testing, and how long do you let the experiments run? Is there a defined time period or does it just depend on volume of sessions to the page?
Barron: Those are both great questions. So the first question was how do you run experiments, and it's very hypothesis driven, but I would say you can't start with a hypothesis. You have to start with learning that helps inform what your hypothesis should be. Right?
So for our website, we realized that... I watched a lot of user sessions. I talked to people. And I realized they weren't actually reading the words on the page. We had so much copy on our website... this is two and a half years ago, and people just weren't reading it.
We had all the information there; it just wasn't packaged in a way that people could digest. So we made it a lot more digestible, and we saw that it was working. But the hypothesis was people aren't actually reading even though the content is there. We need to make it better.
So I'd say start with learning that will help you develop your hypothesis.
And then in terms of how we test, yeah. Sometimes we'll package a couple ideas together into one bigger test, but it will always be testing a singular hypothesis because if you just make a bunch of changes that you're not sure will be beneficial, you could end up hurting things and you wouldn't know.
Another thing is once you have a certain number of... Actually, I'll say really quickly that Andy Johns who is a venture capitalist at Unusual Ventures, and he was a founding member of the growth team at Facebook. He's worked at Twitter as well, I believe, Quora and Wealthfront. At Wealthfront, I believe, he was the VP of Product and Growth, and now he's a venture capitalist. He has a great framework for thinking about experimentation as a size of the company and your maturity level.
When you are a small business you don't have a lot of data so you have to spend tons of time and energy working around crafting the hypothesis the right way. Is this the right way to test it? Being very, very thoughtful around each test because you don't have enough data to move quickly with. So you have to be very, very thoughtful before putting it live.
And on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have people that have tons of data such as a Facebook or a Pinterest, and they are well known, their growth teams, for testing so many things as quickly as possible. Because they have all the data in the world, so they can run an A/B test statistical significance-
Kathleen: In like hours.
Barron: ... in minutes.
I think faster than hours at times. They just... So they test as many things as possible because they have almost unlimited data. Whereas a lot of people listening to this podcast are probably trying to figure out how do I make the most with what I have? And it's around being incredibly thoughtful for how you do things.
And then you asked how long you test for. We've had A/B tests... So it's always important to set like a minimum bar before starting the test because once you launch a test, emotion will come into it and it looks like something's really hot out of the gate, you said, "Let's call it right now. This is amazing." And then things normalize.
So I've gotten really, really good over time in not checking results early because although it's tempting, it can definitely skew your emotion and your emotional state.
Kathleen: It's like confirmation bias too sometimes when you see-
Barron: Yeah. Exactly. So setting a baseline is good, and there's a lot of articles out there about statistical significance and the sort of time you should wait, but we did it anywhere up to months for statistical significance on key changes because data was limited on certain services, or certain pieces of the funnel.
Kathleen: And I was reading the article that you wrote on Medium where you talked about this, and one of the things I thought was interesting, we spent a lot of time talking about customer interviews and audience research, but I thought it was really interesting that you also look at chats, for example, on the site. I think you guys use Intercom. Is that right?
Barron: Yeah. Not only do we look at chats, I ran Intercom for months on the site myself so that I could fully understand what questions customers are having and what they wanted to see.
By seeing the high volume of people in real time through whatever chat widget is hot these days, whether it be Intercom, Drift, Zendesk, there's a number out there, but getting in touch real time with your customers when they're making buying decisions is hugely important.
So yes, we have a number of ways we're learning from customers, and another very popular tool, and I have another article about different tools out there, but full story, in session viewing, and I know there's tools like Hotjar are out there that do the same thing, but seeing how people are interacting with your site is extremely powerful because you can user test all day long and it will not give you real data what customers are doing. Seeing it live is almost magical. It's really cool, and it will help you be a lot smarter about your decisions.
Kathleen: We use Lucky Orange for the same thing and it's amazing how it also can help you find bugs on your website that you would not have ever realized existed.
We found this weird bug on mobile that was just on like iOS tablet versions X, Y, and Z, and it was because we were seeing, we saw a really strange change in the time on page and the bounce rate for that very specific device and started going into Lucky Orange and looking at user sessions for people using that device, and I was like, "Of course. There's a pop-up that's messing things up." And it's just amazing what you can learn the more you dig. But it is a-
Barron: That is spectacular.
Kathleen: It's a rabbit hole though. It's a deep one.
Barron: I love that. The only other source that I'd say is... sources that are amazing are your support and your sales team. Your support team knows what the biggest customer issues are because they talk to them all the time, and sales is trying to convince people to use your products so they know what the biggest questions are from people when evaluating.
And to help inform that, I've done rotations on both of those teams in the past. If your company would allow that, I highly suggest it because it just helps you understand what the problems are a lot better.
Kathleen: Amen. I was on our sales team for six months before I took on this role as head of marketing, and it was hugely valuable. And we record all of our sales calls, so I still think listening to those is so important.
Barron: Amazing. Yes. And getting them transcribed so you can read them easier.
Kathleen: Exactly. Using the new 10 cents per minute tool.
No, this is great. You have so many good articles on Medium. I'm probably going to put a few of those links in the show notes, so if you're listening and you want to see more of what Barron has written, check out the show notes for sure. And you are @BarronCaster on Medium. I'll put that link in as well.
Barron: Thank you.
Kathleen's Two Questions
Kathleen: And a couple questions for you that I ask all of my guests. I'm curious what you're going to have to say.
First one is when it comes to inbound marketing, which is really what this podcast is about, is there a particular company or individual that you think is really killing it right now?
Barron: Yes. There are many people I think that are killing it.
Kathleen: You can give me multiple names. That's fine too.
Barron: I will. How deep do you want me to go on how I think they're killing it?
Kathleen: Oh. Fire away. I'll stop you-
Barron: Great. I think-
Kathleen: ... if I need to.
Barron: Okay. I think the first name that comes to mind is Neil Patel. I think he's done a great job of building an incredible content library that is extremely extensive, and he touches people on all different sorts of mediums. He's active across all social channels, and he's built up a personal brand that is extremely strong.
And what he's done more recently in the past couple years is layer on tons of free tools that incentivize people to come to his domain to evaluate their website, and see what their SEO is, or look for keyword ideas through his Ubersuggest tool. And I know he's focused on acquiring these different tools to help bolster his audience and provide value to people.
So he always leads with value which I think is incredibly important. So as an individual who is a brand, he stands out amongst the crowd to me.
And then another company that I think is doing really well, is this company called Animalz which is a B2B, content marketing agency that I love and I've been in touch with recently because I subscribe to their newsletter and all their content was incredibly thoughtful and informative around content marketing. So I could tell they did an incredible job because I loved reading and opening their newsletter, and it led me to reach out to them about their business. So because I'm a converted customer, I am a huge fan of the work that they've done in being able to show their value to me.
Kathleen: And that's Animalz with a Z, right?
Barron: Animalz, yeah. Animalz with a Z.
And then the last company that I'm not a customer of but I really like what they're doing is G2 Crowd. Ryan Bonnici over there who used to be at HubSpot has created a content engine that is unparalleled, I think. And they're just producing a high volume of high quality content, which is very difficult to do, and I know they're investing heavily in doing that.
And you're the second person to mention Animalz, so I'm going to have to reach out to somebody there and get them to come on now, because that's-
Barron: If you talk to Jimmy, he's great.
Kathleen: Jimmy, I'm coming for you.
Barron: Great. And what they do is they... Most agencies will shop out a lot of their work to other freelancers, and they believe in value and quality so hugely that they only have in-house writers. They only staff in-house people, which is difficult to do as a large agency, but it helps you keep quality consistent across the board.
Kathleen: Interesting. Well, those are great examples for anyone who wants to check them out. Again, links will be in the show notes.
Second question is with digital marketing changing so quickly, how do you stay up to date? What are your personal kind of go-to sources for great information?
Barron: This is an amazing question. My first answer is that you shouldn't be looking for the latest developments. You should start by going back to the classics of marketing because a lot of the classic principles don't change. It's more of the mechanics that change. So like the people I love and refer to commonly are Claude Hopkins, David Ogilvy, like Robert Cialdini. These like great marketing minds and advertising minds where the principles last forever.
Like I created a robust A/B testing program at Rev, and then I read Claude Hopkins, Scientific Advertising, which was written 100 years ago, and he had all the same principles. I was like, "Oh my God. I would have saved so much time by visiting this first." When before I had been reading all the blogs and trying to figure out what the best tech companies were doing. A lot of the principles are the same. It's more of how you actually bring them to market that's changing.
And for that, I really loved Drift as a brand because I think that David Gerhardt, who runs a lot of their marketing over there, subscribes to the same philosophy. He constantly revisits the classics and then figures out how does that work in today's modern world, but he starts with principles. And I think the principles are extremely important.
And then my last favorite, more general growth newsletter that touches across product development, entrepreneurship, marketing, and growth, is Hiten Shah who's actually related to Neil Patel, and he has a just incredible newsletter that's very informative, and he does deep dives on businesses and their go-to-market that will help inform you about how great brands that you know today actually made it, and the evolution that they went through over time.
Kathleen: I love it. So many good suggestions. Lots of reading ahead.
Barron: I don't mean to overwhelm, but-
Kathleen: No, this is great. I think-
Barron: ... if you have limited time, start with the old stuff and then work your way forward. I'm also a big fan of Nassim Taleb and Antifragile as a book, and he has this thing he calls the Lindy Effect. The longer something has been in existence, the more likely it is to exist for a long period of time. So these older principles still hold true in today's modern world.
Kathleen: I can't wait to check some of those out. One thing I've noticed from doing so many interviews with different marketers is the best marketers are just these voracious learners. They're always wanting to find something more to educate themselves with. So lots of recommendations. If you're listening, go get all the books.
How To Connect With Barron
Kathleen: Barron, if somebody wants to learn more about you, or has a question, or wants to learn more about Rev, what's the best way for them to get in touch or find you online?
Please reach out if you have any questions about anything, or if you have ideas of articles that you want me to write, I would love to hear that as well. I'm always looking for ideas on things that people are curious about so I can answer a question for a lot of people.
You Know What To Do Next...
Kathleen: Love it. All right. Well, thank you so much. If you're listening and you learned something new, which I'm pretty sure you did because I feel like there's a lot of good stuff in this one, I would of course love it if you would leave a five star review on Apple Podcasts or the platform of your choice. And if you know somebody else who'd doing kick-ass inbound marketing work, Tweet me @WorkMommyWork because they could be my next interview.
Barron: Thank you so much, Kathleen. This has been incredible.
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