In this episode, Melanie Deziel and Jeff Julian discuss building a content studio and share interviews with the Atlantic and Washington Post.Read More
Do our web developers know the buyer’s prerogative? Do they design for design's sake, or to grow business?
Modern web design and coding are intricate beyond most marketer’s understanding. We need to measure our success in flowing capital though. The web development team wants to make an elegant product, but occasionally misses the point when it comes to transferring beauty-in-design to the bottom line. "Clicks" and "likes" can create an analytic view of what our customers are drawn to, it falls on the marketers to sell the design.
A cognitive bias can be formed when sales tactics and development methodologies collide. Synergy is a bit of a stale term, but it really does apply here. Communication and goal setting between departments is paramount.
This week, our hosts Jeff Julian and Andy Crestodina discuss the complexities of modern marketing agencies.
Side Note: I am very sorry for the focus issues in this video. Life lesson as a marketer, if you are the only one who is around and you are both shooting the video and are in front of the camera... 3/4 of the time you will be out of focus and something will be wrong with the audio.
Listen to the show
Welcome to the Explicit Content Podcast. Here are your hosts, Jeff Julian and Andy Crestodina.
Jeff Julian: Hey everybody, this is Jeff Julian. Well, things have been interesting the past couple weeks. We've been traveling a lot, and getting the shows all lined up has not been very easy. But we are going to roll this week with a special edition of a little piece of content that we created when we were in Chicago a few weeks back with Andy Crestodina. And so I hope you enjoy this background into the agency world and what it's like to work with marketing teams and software developers and just kind of a raw conversation between Andy and myself. So enjoy this week and return for next week when I talk with Pamela Muldoon about content marketing.
So, Andy, this is a great time for us to get together if .. Get to visit your office here in Chicago, and I'm impressed. I mean, you've got code on the wall. I mean, you never see that.
Andy Crestodina: It doesn't actually work, I think. It's supposed to be in a computer. The wall paper doesn't actually ... It's not functional. But I don't know, it's ... I'm glad you like the space. It's awesome that you're here. You're my favorite part of this space right now.
Jeff Julian: That's awesome.
Andy Crestodina: This is a pretty basic office as they go these days. I've been here for ten years. But yeah, I still get good feedback. I mean, I think people like colorful walls and open ceilings and happy Orbiteers. It's a good spot.
Jeff Julian: Yeah. And your job is Chief Marketing Officer, right? I want to do a little behind-the-scenes on ... because you do everything. And that's one of the things that when we first met that attracted me to you because I was like I saw me in a lot of what you do when you're kind of a jack of all trades and you care about customer experience, your own engagement, and then doing lots of stuff. So what does the day-to-day life look like for Andy?
Andy Crestodina: I get up very early because I have meetings back to back through most of the day. Or I'll be out of town for a conference or something for a day here and there. So to stay on top of email, I need to wake up very early. So I wake up, today 5: 00. You know, work from 5: 00 to 7: 30 to do things like scheduling a promotion, updating presentations, watching presentations, reading research that I found the day before, and email, lots and lots of email and calendar management. Then the day starts, and I do some sales work. I do some service work. I am a consultant for a select few clients where I'm actually digging into their analytics. And then I find time to do a little bit of marketing, which is the same kind of marketing that you know and love. You can imagine what that would be like. It's about half of my time.
Jeff Julian: Yeah. And so you actually get in and engage with the clients. Do you get out, teach guys here? Do you do much training around here?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah, it happens in process during projects. So like yesterday we were looking at a site we'd launched. Checking the analytics, making sure everything is tracking properly. Found a few opportunities to transfer some skills to the team. "Oh, they're using Marketo, they've got subdomains, it looks like their own site is a referral to itself. Ah, let's go to the property settings and add their own site to the referral exclusion list." "Oh, I didn't know you could do that." "Yep, you can do it right here." So, it's kind of on-the-job training, which is almost the best time because it's always practical.
Jeff Julian: Yeah, I used to ... After I became a developer or left development and went into marketing, I started speaking at developer conferences on why marketers hate you. And it was like, "13 things you can do to make your marketing team happier." And it's just some of the basic things that are configuration.
Andy Crestodina: Like what?
Jeff Julian: Like, you know, site maps. Kinda required today. Most CMSs don't give them by default. You know, it's a plugin. Most developers don't think about it. Canonical tags. All these things. They're just like no-brainers or a decade.
Jeff Julian: Oh yeah, especially with this push for React and Node JS and Angular and all these websites to be single page, preload. It's like none of that stuff works for SEO. None of that stuff is landing page generated and just ... It's such a nightmare.
Andy Crestodina: This would be great. So it's not just why marketers hate developers. It's why analytics hates web design.
Jeff Julian: Yeah.
Andy Crestodina: So, that would be a deep well of issues and tips and practical advice about structuring things that they work well for analysis.
Jeff Julian: Oh yeah. Imagine if Google Analytics was designed for web applications. So, like your own line of business applications. Everything would change. It wouldn't be a single snippet insert.
Andy Crestodina: No.
Jeff Julian: And you'd have to truly understand things like Tag Manager, other components that would allow you to pull that data out. And if you think about how hard it is to connect systems, interact with systems, come up with a individual ID for all your users that ... across your platforms, right? If I have an email signup, how do I identify them with the other platforms? Google is prime to be that, but it's the enterprise scale where they would go for doing something along those lines.
Andy Crestodina: Yeah, because it's-
Jeff Julian: Adobe is the same way.
If I were designing an analytics tool for web application analysis, I'd want to know things like which of these drop-downs are people spending more time with? Or what drop-downs get opened and closed without a selection? Analytics has no idea. But if you had data that said that people are spending 30% more time on this drop-down than another without making a selection or scrolling through extra time, I don't even know if that's ... Inspectlet? There might be tools that try to do that. I guess screen or-
Jeff Julian: I can't think of any.
Andy Crestodina: ... session recorders?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah.
Jeff Julian: But the Internet's so fast now. Everything's performing. Then you let the AI engines start to snoop for things that you didn't know about. That's where I think the real power is.
Andy Crestodina: When that happens, that super blunt low-res crayon drawing of a metric called "Time on Page," how much information is in the Time on Page? I mean, what's happening on the page? When you applied AI to that and you correlated Time on Page with other things, and the machine learning deduced insights from all the possible interactions that happened on these pages and findings lumps in the batter or patterns or what ... You'll probably some day ... I'm not the first to predict this, some day the analytics tools will do actual analysis, not just reports, make the recommendation, and if they're integrated with your CMS, allow you to change your website with one click. Imagine.
Jeff Julian: Yeah, exactly. But, I mean, we are still in this weird paradigm where we've got the human factors folks who can actually find that data, optimize it, who are supposed to be focused on experience, but they have no seat at the table anywhere because it's a made-up name, a made-up field, that never existed in the organization. You've got the software developers who do not give a rip about customers, most of them don't know what the customer is, don't know what they do, they've never ... they don't have a single ounce of empathy or sympathy even, in their hearts.
And the marketers who feel like everything has to be in their wheelhouse and they have to own this all. And everyone else ... I mean, they were like, I don't know, it feels like they were beaten for so long, they're never given tools, made arts and crafts department for so long. Now that they have power, they don't want to engage with anyone, right? They don't want to sit down with the developers and teach them empathy. And they don't want to sit down with the UX folks and try to figure out customer experience and not just whether or not the button's in the right spot. So we've got this showdown between these three different divisions that they all need to work together.
Andy Crestodina: I should probably defend developers a little bit because right behind you there's 12 developers. And probably what they would say is that they care, but their priority is to get it to work. It's just not their priority to focus on the experience yet. They have to make sure that this thing works and works using all the things that can be done. It's pretty complex, right, to get things to work in a browser. Not easy. But, yeah, I think you're right. I mean, what we're basically describing here is the tension between marketing, persuasion, experience, business outcomes, and nuts and bolts under the hood, how does this work, who controls budgets, who controls decisions, and how do these things combine to achieve, you know, cooperation and successful teams and great outcomes for the business and for the audience? Or do they fail? Do they fail because the developer wanted something that was easier, or the marketer wanted something that was unreasonable, or it was made so kludgy that it couldn't ever be updated, or it's built in a way that's beautiful but can't be easily tracked. It's complex.
Jeff Julian: It gets back to the ... Have you ever read 1984?
Andy Crestodina: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Jeff Julian: At the end, whenever it starts to open up the box and to say, look, we're just building products because if we don't, society goes off the rails. So we have this war that's fake. And one side will take the other side and we just continually fight each other so we can produce product to then destroy it. And now-
Andy Crestodina: I'd forgotten about that.
Jeff Julian: ... If you think about, like, the developers, they're focused on building the product. But if the product isn't usable or doesn't drive enough value because it's exactly what the customer needed because they understood it, then it could be the prettiest thing in the world. Another developer's going to come around and say we need to rewrite that.
Andy Crestodina: Yeah. Shelfware.
Jeff Julian: You know, there's a new language. And it goes away, it disappears. And the marketing teams and everybody ... It's like if you look at like wartime production, when every factory gets turned down because we're going to start building missiles and ammunition and all that stuff. There was one mission and everybody gets around, right? The Rosie the Riveter time. Everybody is focused because they've got a goal. And I don't think most teams have the same goal to get behind because they don't understand what the overall objective is.
Andy Crestodina: Yeah, I think that it's ... For some reason, it's not as simple as you'd think. I think maybe I'm partly to blame here because I keep saying like we should be more strategic. That just begins to sound like a buzzword. I'm really talking about being goal focused. Or what is this page? What is the purpose of this page or this feature or this paragraph or this piece of content or this landing page or this email or this whatever? What's the true story in the life of the visitor that brought them here? What is the information ... And here's one way that I've begun to think about it.
There's really two kinds of content, on a sales page at least. There's what they want and then there's what we want them to find. And what we do here, building websites, is partly a matter of constructing these things so that it satisfies their needs, right? If they don't see the answer they're looking for, they'll leave. But also then injects the information we want them to have, evidence and social proof or sales copy or calls to action. So to be goal focused, it's really ... it makes sense, right? It has to focus on this audience. But it also has to meet the business goals and it has to work. So pretty soon you've this kind of Venn diagram of like what is goal, how do you reach the goal. It really has to satisfy a lot of criteria to meet the goal, so ... Probably I could do a better job of just documenting the big picture and saying that at the front of every meeting.
Jeff Julian: No. Yeah.
Andy Crestodina: But still it's ... the execution of it is still pretty complicated.
Jeff Julian: Yeah, oh yeah. Totally. I mean, and the thing that adds to the complexity is this new focus on employee-first mentality of businesses, right? We need to make this a happy place to work.
Andy Crestodina: Sure.
Jeff Julian: And that adds even more complexity-
Andy Crestodina: It does.
Jeff Julian: ... because now it's like everyone's ... I had competitors that would like pop champagne when they deployed a product and they're all excited, happy time, and they would also say like whatever their agency is life afterward. Hashtag this. The customer didn't know they deployed. The customer pulled all their employees in so they could get the content pushed to the new website because the other one went down, and the customer now has their line of business people saying why is this here, why is this data not here? Customers pissed off, other departments pissed off because the focus was happy life and not happy customers, right?
Andy Crestodina: And the other side of that balance could be a problem too, you know. There's a joke of a project methodology called the Death March where everybody has to just work continuously until it's done, and you burn your team, no longer a sustainable business, to meet the customer's expectation without ever sharing that combined responsibility in some cases or ... It's just ... I guess it just comes down to it's very different.
Jeff Julian: Oh yeah.
Andy Crestodina: But we all do this.
Jeff Julian: Because then it gets back to who promised what and why.
Andy Crestodina: Yep. Expectation setting.
Jeff Julian: And did they do that to make themselves feel good, does the customer truly need it? Yeah, these are complex issues that we won't solve.
Andy Crestodina: Another good topic for us, right? Explicit Content Podcast. The confessions from inside, you know, agency confessions or true stories from-
Jeff Julian: But that's one thing I think most marketers don't understand is inside their own business, what are the dynamics? Understanding what the sales guys are going through, who they're interacting with, who's buying this stuff. Everybody's trying to get to a person that they don't necessarily know. Are they the ones that are actually buying it, right? Everybody's thinking CMO this and all the officers. The officers don't buy anything, right? It's the office manager who picks the software most of the time. And, you know, the person who updates the website, you know. They don't care about all the bells and whistles and things like that. They just want to put words on page, hit Save and not touch it anymore.
Andy Crestodina: And then there's the request of like this minor feature, it's a nice to have, how much would it cost? Oh it's $4,000 to do it the way that you asked for. But did the person who made the request understand the alignment with the goal and the business outcome? And did the person at the agency who gave the quote understand why that was asked for in a certain way? Is there a much easier way to do it at a much lower cost that achieves the result? So everyone just needs to keep asking why, and then once you've agreed on why, look at the thing and ask what the desired outcome is, work backwards from that. Ask how. Is there a plugin to do this? Does it have to be that custom? Is the weird interaction you said you wanted, does it have to work that way because I can do it, get you the same result for a tenth of the cost if we did it this way.
Jeff Julian: Yeah.
Andy Crestodina: So, it just takes curious and skeptical people at every step in every interaction in every client relationship to get the best outcome. It's so easy to waste time and money. It's the high risk if we don't stay goal focused.
Jeff Julian: And it causes our whole markets to shatter and shake because customers can't palate $5,000 minor features.
Andy Crestodina: No.
Jeff Julian: But it takes, like, that much to have a developer sit on something for that much time. I mean, it's-
Andy Crestodina: Research options, build it in development, test it. Did it work? You know, try to break it with something else. Put the content in or adapt it or does it, you know, browser compatibility. Try it, you know. Push it live, test it again. So anytime you hear a client say "it's just this," you know, slow down and set expectations carefully because rarely is it just one little thing.
Jeff Julian: I have a theory, another Julian Law.
Andy Crestodina: Uh huh. Julian's Second Law?
Jeff Julian: Is if the price of a feature or functionality is between the salary of that person and the paycheck of that person that it becomes personal and it becomes something that they can't usually understand what goes into it and they've simplified that job so much that it becomes a harder sell. I can sell a $500,000 website and a $500 feature so much easier than I can a $2,500 feature.
Andy Crestodina: Huh.
Jeff Julian: Right? Because it's ... that money is associated with something in their mind at a bank account, you know, something that they're getting.
Andy Crestodina: Interesting.
Jeff Julian: You're going to try to sell a $40,000 something and all of a sudden it's like, "Whoa, I can hire somebody for that," right? They start to equate it to people and places and well, we suggested this, and it's like they dismiss everything that goes into the business requirements, the team that you have, the environment, the tools-
Andy Crestodina: Interesting.
Jeff Julian: ... and all that stuff. It's just pure salary comparison, right? So, it's almost like always price high, you know, outside of those ranges.
Andy Crestodina: It's a cognitive bias maybe.
Jeff Julian: Yeah.
Andy Crestodina: Yeah it is.
Jeff Julian: I would always have friends that would get into the small business websites and they're always fighting for $15,000 projects. And I'm like, you know, for me it's so much easier to sell something really big to a really big company and do a really good job and have that hand-to-hand touch than it would be to go after somebody who's $15,000 is a lot of money.
Andy Crestodina: So interesting.
Jeff Julian: All right. Well, we should probably let you go. But this has been fun.
Andy Crestodina: I love that you're here. This is like a huge treat for me. And it's so cool that you're in town. So you've got a presentation today? You're teaching at Digital Summit, right?
Jeff Julian: Yeah, yeah. They-
Andy Crestodina: What are you talking about?
Jeff Julian: We're doing Renaissance Marketer again. So the idea of looking at Da Vinci, who ... He only had education until he was 12, right? I mean it was just pretty much writing and reading. And then outside of that it was all like craftsmen I sit underneath somebody as an apprentice and follow them and a desire to make people happy everywhere.
Andy Crestodina: Awesome.
Jeff Julian: And so you think of all the stuff that he did, right?
Andy Crestodina: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeff Julian: And, you know, the guy who did the Mona Lisa also designed like sewer systems and freshwater systems for towns, did plays and wrote the plays, and then built the sets and did all the mechanics behind them.
Andy Crestodina: Renaissance.
Jeff Julian: Yeah. As marketers. And I think it does. It centers around love. If you love the people you're marketing to, you will create whatever you have to create to provide value to them. And it's-
Andy Crestodina: You are the perfect person. You are the perfect person to teach that topic and to deliver that message.
Jeff Julian: I think you could do it too. You've got some good stuff going on here.
Andy Crestodina: Thanks, Jeff. This is great.
Thank you for listening to the Explicit Content Podcast. For more information, check out Enterprisemarketer.com.
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