Experimentation & Failing Forward

Fine Point Grey Jesse Fowl, Managing Director Solomon Solution

Experimentation & Failing Forward

(43-minute podcast)

As a marketer, you know experimentation is essential to building long term success. So, how can you build a culture that makes room for experimentation, tolerates the inevitable failures, and continuously learns? We break open one of our own experiments developing an interactive, personalized whitepaper alternative. We’re joined by Jesse Fowl, Managing Director for Solomon Solution who partnered with us on the project. We also dive into optimizing lead conversion, the complications of marketing attribution, SpaceX, Google, and satellite broadband as well as Facebook ads’ integration of offline conversion data.

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Featured Experts:

Jesse Fowl, Managing Director at Solomon Solution

Guests and Experts


Jesse Fowl, Managing Director at Solomon Solution

Bio: Jesse Fowl is a demand generation expert who turns proven revenue generating strategies into reality. He’s the Managing Director at gosolomon.com, a Demand Gen agency that has worked with Universities, Luxury Hospitality Brands, and leading Healthcare Providers. He’s also a Partner at Prota Ventures, a venture-building early stage investment firm.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Tim Mohler, Sr. Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Tim Mohler is a multichannel marketer with experience building campaigns for travel, CPG, food, beverage, and technology companies reaching both B2B and B2C customers. He’s passionate about building marketing experiences & partnerships that are relevant to a brand’s message, exciting for the customer, and most importantly deliver measurable results. At Point It, he develops digital, social and content campaigns as well as managing PointIt.com on a day to day basis.


Maureen Jann: Hi there and welcome to Fine Point, a podcast featuring news and experts in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, your host and Director of Marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency here in Seattle, Washington. I’m joined by Tim Mohler, our Senior Marketing Manager and Podcast Director as well as Ryleigh Hazen, our marketing intern, at the Point It studios a.k.a. the conference room. Today we have Jesse Fowler, the Managing Director at Go Solomon’s. Actually it’s Solomon Solutions isn’t it?


Jesse Fowler: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: Okay.


Jesse Fowler: That’ll work.


Maureen Jann: All right, and partner at Proto-Ventures and I’m lucky enough to call him a friend so that’s really fun. We’re going to be talking about how to leverage failure and innovation as marketers. Hey man, how are you?


Jesse Fowler: Doing pretty good. Thanks for having me. Sorry I couldn’t make it in person but I appreciate the time that we get to chat together.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it’ll be fun. It’ll be fun.


Jesse Fowler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Maureen Jann: Awesome, well before we get started talking about that we’re going to talk about some happenings in the industry and these are actually tangential industry happenings because I kind of shifted gears. We have been doing the net neutrality update but it was getting too long so we shortened it to just covering an article about net neutrality to keep things simpler. Today the cable lobby conducts a survey, finds that Americans want net neutrality. I’m classifying all of our articles today as good news, good news, and good news. I was glad to hear this. It was nice that the cable lobby found out that Americans really do want net neutrality. What’s interesting about this is the cable companies say that they don’t really have any issues with the core of net neutrality, they just don’t want to be considered a common carrier like the telephone company. It harshes their mellow. 61% of respondents either strongly or somewhat support net neutrality rules and they say that they ISP’s shouldn’t block, throttle, or prioritize certain content on the internet. What was also interesting was 53% of respondents say that governments should have a light touch approach to the internet that allows regulators to monitor the marketplace and take action if consumers are harmed.


The real honest to god irony here for me is that all the answers to the survey support the current federal system and the current state of net neutrality. We want it to stay like it is. There you go. That’s the bottom line. Stop messing with net neutrality.


Tim Mohler: I think it’s interesting to hear the language and the way that they position things in this article. They push federal government and regulations a whole lot and you can kind of see what direction they’re going here because one of the findings was that 51% don’t want them to be regulated as a public utility and they phrase that such that it’s very don’t, almost libertarian-esque don’t get in and manipulate and no more regulations and that sort of thing. I think they’re going to take this survey and probably push very heavily in terms of messaging into over regulation and interference and kind of try to position that way. I don’t think they’re going to listen to the survey and go, oh yeah so we won’t back net neutrality. They’ll keep pushing for it. They just have to figure out how and I think they’ve discovered how with this survey.


Maureen Jann: Hmm. Interesting. Well. The benefit of you having a poly sci background is that you know the ins and outs of the history of this which I do not but I’m learning and it’s super interesting. I don’t know, what do you think Jesse? Thoughts on net neutrality in general, specifically the cable lobby perhaps?


Jesse Fowler: Yeah. You know, I don’t know. It’s an interesting problem to try and solve. I think that there needs to be some amount of fair regulation but anytime the government gets into that things just seem to slow down and it doesn’t really work as we think about from an ideal perspective. In my opinion I think things are working all right. I think changing that and making it like another layer of commercial play to play or pay to play is probably a bad idea.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Jesse Fowler: If it’s not broke don’t fix it kind of thing. You know?


Maureen Jann: I agree. Plus you know, it makes it complex for us as marketers to ensure that we are able to serve all of the different sized companies as it should be. We need to be nurturing small business, not stomping on them by charging them extra to get served to potential searchers. It seems a little unfair as it were.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah. It’s bad.


Maureen Jann: It’s bad. Okay. Well in a related article, article number 2 is all about With Latency As Slow As 25 Milliseconds SpaceX to Launch Broadband Satellites in 2018. Now Tim made a good point so I’m going to pause.


Tim Mohler: SpaceX for anyone who doesn’t know is Elon Musk’s space effort, competing with Jeff Bezos over at Amazon and a number of others. He has actually launched a decent number of rockets, six so far this year successfully. None of them exploding like I believe it was last year so definitely making a whole lot off progress but he does have a habit of over promising and then stretching out the timeline substantially so we’ll see about the timeline but this is way cooler than the last article.


Maureen Jann: Well I mean what I see it as is the insurance policy for the rest of us who don’t have the money to fight the lobbies and not get into the heavy net neutrality fight. It feels like that kind of, you know, but before we go too far into that let’s cover the article because there’s a lot of conversation that we’re having that we’re making assumptions about. Basically SpaceX, a designer, manufacturer, and launcher of advanced rockets, apparently run by Elon Musk, is planning on a constellation of over 4,400 broadband satellites that will launch from a rocket beginning in 2019 reaching full capacity in 2024. The reason for the new infrastructure is because the issues with the satellite internet access traditionally suffer from high latency, slow speeds, and strict data caps. I mean I kind of see this as one of those moments like the Google Fiber effort where we look at it and we say, okay so they don’t want to rely on the cable companies so how do we get around that?


In this case they are trying to improve upon the whole satellite concept so that’s a real viable option. I know I’ve use satellite internet before. It’s awful. It’s just traditionally awful. I don’t know. This is an interesting one. I like the idea of an insurance policy on my internet.


Tim Mohler: Google in particular is insuring themselves. They’ve invested over a billion dollars in this right when it was first announced.


Maureen Jann: In this one?


Tim Mohler: In this one yes. Well between Google and Fidelity. This goes along with the high altitude air balloons and drones and basically, honestly you look at Bezos as well, he’s hugely vested in cloud computing and you just have to, wires in the ground are something that are very difficult to replace. It’s very easy to control and these companies want to make sure that they have another point of access to the consumer. They’re not sure what’s going to play out yet but I think we’re going to continue to see a lot of pressure to make one of these work and I am betting against high altitude balloons personally.


Maureen Jann: I mean ultimately this ends up being kind of a turf war right?


Tim Mohler: It really is.


Maureen Jann: You’re just like this people peeing on trees at a certain point.


Tim Mohler: Well, buying up the trees, yeah.


Maureen Jann: And then peeing on them to make sure their name is on them.


Tim Mohler: It makes me thing of AT&T. They bought satellite. They have cable, a significant portion of cable. You know they also control a huge swath of the wireless spectrum so they’re trying to control every delivery point possible of the internet which is a little bit frightening that we’re having to build entirely new methods of reaching people because these gargantuan companies have been able to swallow up and control not just one channel but multiple channels. Big fight. But as long as it goes to space with rockets come on. Imagine what else we can do with those.


Maureen Jann: Rockets!


Tim Mohler: Maybe I get to see the moon.


Maureen Jann: I don’t know are you pro or con satellite internet and infrastructure there Jesse?


Jesse Fowler: This is a game changer you know. It’s inevitable. I think it’s going to happen and I think the reason why I think you see Amazon and Facebook and Google and now Elon Musk, it’s just because imagine how much money is in this. If I could be the sole internet provider for the world, right, even if you’re charging five bucks a month but more important that that is to be able to have the data which is why personally I think Google Fiber exists, Facebook is doing it’s cloud internet in the hot air balloon thing but it’s all about the data. If I can control the foundational pipe of that data then I can insert myself into the conversation when it’s most applicable. For Amazon it’s just common sense. If you’re searching for this then here’s this. You know if you are the internet you have an insane amount of power by being able to collect all of the data. I think it’s going to be a race. I think SpaceX may be the first but I think there’s going to be multiple versions of this and that might be good for competitive pricing but this is the angle. I want to control all of it and then that makes a lot of other companies obsolete. All the different ISPs, telecoms, just being able to have the right amount of bandwidth.


If they’re able to satisfy all data needs you could run telephany, internet, everything off of this type of always on connection. It could be just a game changer both for the consumer in terms of having access but then for whatever company really owns that real estate in terms of being able to analyze that data and then take advantage of it. It’s insane when you really think about the long term consequences.


Maureen Jann: I’m curious whether or not you feel like, what is the lesser of the two evils because when you talk about owning the data it’s like cable companies owning the data or a conglomeration of technology companies owning the data?


Jesse Fowler: Same people that own the data today right? Okay we’re going to create a search engine. Everyone is going to come here to search for what they want and they’re going to direct the traffic outward so it’s, if you think about it from a historical sense the people who have gotten the richest are the people who control the goods and the movement of those goods back and forth. You have railways and shipping and those guys became mega mega mega rich. Now you have Google and now you have Facebook and they’re controlling the conversation and a conduit for where people hear about things and what products come up. Now you can go deeper a layer and you can think about this is the internet and this is the internet that can always be on. It’s cheaper than your cable company. Any media you can just use this. Sound good? Great. Well now I’m the conduit for all of the information and marketing and pretty much everything that’s happening from a data perspective which is more and more everyday. I think, I don’t think it’s an altruistic goal to provide internet for the world. People understand the economics of this and that it would then be one of the largest revenue drivers for whoever owns it.


Maureen Jann: I guess that is my question though is that being that currently the cable companies own the internet, right?


Jesse Fowler: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: Now what happens when Facebook, Amazon, Tesla, all those guys own the internet? Is it better or worse?


Jesse Fowler: I think it’s just more of the same. I think it’s better than the government owning it. Right? I really like how innovative private enterprise is and how there’s going to be competition and it feels like the private sector is able to move much faster and effectively than the public sector. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know Elon. That’d be an interesting coffee chat right? I don’t think he’s a diabolical person but I think he’s a brilliant businessman just like Bezos and I think that they understand like the long term impact of this and I think they’ll use it to their benefit for sure but it just depends on what they end up doing with that.


Maureen Jann: I would like to manifest this and put this out into the universe; Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, if you ever want to come on the Podcast you just let us know. We’ll totally talk it out okay?


Tim Mohler: There’s some big challenges to be overcome from a regulatory perspective how do you regulate space based internet? One of the big challenges right now that they’re facing is getting a consistent amount of megahertz, getting a consistent wavelength across the entire world so that’s a big negotiation point that they’re working on at the moment and I can just tell you from a practical perspective, I have Fiber into my house but that Fiber ends up in Everett. There is a perceptible lag between me going to look for a webpage before it hits Everett and can deliver that webpage back to me with the initial request. There’s just no way to get around that distance. There’s definitely, even if they deal with the bandwidth issue there’s still going to be a little bit of laginess to it. It won’t work quite as well for Skype conversations and things like that. You know there’s definitely big challenges here but I think with that much money behind it the sky is the limit, well actually it’s not the limit.


Maureen Jann: Not the limit. Oh hey I love it. They actually say that speeds should hit a gigabit per second is what they’re expecting but once again Elon Musk promises, etc. Here’s to hoping. That’d be super.


Tim Mohler: Definitely.


Maureen Jann: I’d love having another option. That’s exciting. Okay. Great, well the third article we’re going to cover today is Facebook Lead Ads Just Got A Whole Much More Useful With Offline Conversion Data. Okay so I actually am really excited about this one because it’s a perfect example of bridging the gap between online and offline. It’s the whole, the new offline conversion solution aims to help advertisers tie lead ads to downstream conversion activities on offline systems such as CRMs or Point of Sales or Call Centers. So automatically connects to upload the outcome of leads generated by a Facebook campaign into their ads manager. They have a built in connector from Marquetto and Sales Force and it’s been in beta since November.


This part I get really jazzed up about this because I love the idea of being able to see that full funnel and the idea of the full attribution of one particular lead that came in through a particular source. It’d be better if you could see it from multiple channels and it wasn’t just Facebook but this is the holy grail we all search for. I thought this was particularly interesting considering what you guys do over at Solomon around Marketo. I know this is new. I think this is only last week but have you guys started monkeying around with this at all over there Jesse?


Jesse Fowler: Yeah I think this is another area that we’re really excited about because marketers are concerned, we love the sight of innovation and new ideas but when it comes down to it the success of a marketer is really going to rely on how much revenue they’re driving being able to use the limited marketing budget that we have to always optimize for what’s actually attributing to the most revenue. The ability to connect Facebook ads and especially the lead ads where you’re actually gathering customer information, you’re creating a new lead. You’re nurture that new contact hopefully to a deeper relationship and move involvement. Then it moves into CRM where there’s a sales guy that actually interacts with that individual. Then does he close it or not? Are they qualified leads? Are they not qualifies leads? Then tying that first interaction, that first entry point into actual close revenue. That’s what it’s all about because not all leads are created equal.


It’s understanding how much revenue is this activity actually responsible for and then adjusting the dials as needs to get an optimized lead acquisition campaign going. That is what it’s all about and so for us using Marquetto we’ve been huge proponents of our clients using Marquetto’s Ad Bridge which includes a lot of prochromatic, different channels like Facebook and LinkedIn but the most important part is the ability to attribute a lead and follow a lead as they go through your nurture paths and then finally into the opportunity stage with a CRM system so we’re really stoked about this and we’re excited that Marquetto and Facebook have been partnering so heavily together to be able to provide this for marketers because I think the ability to show how much revenue you’re generating is really important from a career trajectory perspective. It’s like, hey guys I just brought in 3 million in revenue. I’m getting pad $110,000, how about doubling that? If you can actually substantiate the amount of revenue that you’re driving. This is a step in the right direction in my opinion.


Maureen Jann: It’s a little frustrating that it’s only for one channel though. That makes me sad. It’s like, you’re right but I don’t think that Facebook lead ads are the be all end all of my marketing strategy. Great step in the right direction but still frustrating that you can’t do this with other places.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah and that’s where other tools come into play like Visible, Full Circle, different products that can augment that but that can be able to provide that same level of intelligence so you can figure it properly which is fun. Yeah. I agree. I think there should be more native integration, especially with the major ad platforms but hopefully people catch on.


Maureen Jann: Yeah it feels like we’ve been wanting this. We’ve all wanted this.


Jesse Fowler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tim Mohler: Facebook coming on with an API to do this. That’s a huge step forward. If you figure the more channels start marrying into this and buying into the idea of being able to track full funnel conversion the more likely we are to eventually get there, please, please, please, eventually, hopefully. We were mentioning before that nobody does these things for charitable reasons and from Facebook’s perspective if you think of the last time you sold someone something how nice would it have been to know how valuable what you’re selling is to them in terms of revenue? That’s what Facebook is getting out of this. It allows them to much more aggressively price advertising potentially over time, especially for larger advertisers. They will be using that information as well.


Maureen Jann: Sure. It’s a case study builder without question, hey this really works. We know because we have everyone’s data.


Tim Mohler: I also feel like this has a little bit of the Google Analytics problem in that the person doing the measuring tends to claim the credit so they’re going to, I’m thinking particularly retargeting, they’re going to be claiming credit for absolutely everything they touch and what is it 64%, 76%, something like that of the US adult population is on Facebook so if your ads are even remotely well targeted and they buy is sufficiently large you could very easily hit your entire possible purchasing population. It will be interesting. I think it goes back to being able to do cross channel attribution eventually.


Maureen Jann: Yes.


Tim Mohler: It all ends up there.


Maureen Jann: It all ends up there.


Tim Mohler: But we’re getting closer.


Maureen Jann: No close enough. Talk is cheap people. Talk is cheap MarTech. Come on now. All right so let’s move into the interview portion. Like I said we’re talking to Jesse Fowler and he’s the managing director over at Solomon’s Solutions. We’ve had an opportunity to work on a couple of products together which has been really fun and it’s really what’s fueled today’s topic around innovation and failure. But first before we dive into that –


Jesse Fowler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Before we dive into that let’s just get an opportunity about the perspective you’re coming from. What does Solomon Solutions do? What do you do for them? All that good stuff.


Jesse Fowler: We do marketing.


Maureen Jann: So do we. Clearly we are in competition.


Jesse Fowler: Dang it.


Tim Mohler: You are on the right podcast.


Jesse Fowler: Aw man. Well we do marketing way better.


Maureen Jann: Oh, I will cut you.


Jesse Fowler: All right. So Solomon, GoSolomon.com, we’re a marketing automation agency so we really focus on how do you take all those leads that you’re getting and then close them through nurture campaigns using marketing automation and then also when you hand those leads that are qualified to the best of your ability to the sales team, what anything are the systems that they’re using to close more deals and become more efficient and that’s the CRM stuff so like 80% of what we do is Marquetto and SalesForce.com.


Maureen Jann: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Jesse Fowler: Yup.


Maureen Jann: You are basically after the click and we are before the clicks and that’s how that works. Very complimentary.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah we high five on that stuff. We’re not those people and you’re the expert on that but then we can come in and really help people optimize their ad spend by nurturing those leads to close so that’s what we do.


Maureen Jann: Hurray. It’s a beautiful thing.


Jesse Fowler: I like it.


Maureen Jann: I like it to. I do. I’m a big fan. We actually met at a Marquetto happy hour about two years ago.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah we did.


Maureen Jann: Yeah we did.


Tim Mohler: Marquetto has the best happy hour.


Jesse Fowler: Then what happened?


Maureen Jann: What did happen?


Jesse Fowler: I betrayed you.


Maureen Jann: Oh but like in a cute way so it’s fine.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: Well the other part that we did together over the years, what was that?


Jesse Fowler: You just want to gloss over that and move right along.


Maureen Jann: Yeah we’re totally glossing over that.


Jesse Fowler: All right.


Maureen Jann: Good lord. Way to air dirty laundry on a podcast. What’s your deal?


Jesse Fowler: I stole one of Maureen’s good people.


Maureen Jann: Yes but she’s very happy so it’s fine.


Jesse Fowler: That’s good.


Maureen Jann: The other thing we did together which was less dastardly was a project called Readyfortheholidays.com which was an interesting beta project that you and I worked on with one of your side deals called Maple IQ.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: We had a lot of learnings out of that so that was a really interesting conversation. The whole thing was an adventure so I’m going to let you explain what Maple IQ is and then I can talk about what we did and we can go from that.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah okay. Sounds good. Maple IQ is a new way of getting people to convert on a landing page. You’ve got lead pages and unbounce and all these different static landing pages and basically, especially for B2B marketers which I’d say that’s 75% of our business, you’re trying to direct them towards this amazing white paper that you created and this white paper is so good and maybe you’ll even put a brief description of that white paper and have a picture of it. It probably looks like an amazing notebook. Then to the right of that you’ll have a form and that from is like first name, last name, company name. All sorts of different things and people look at the form and they’re like, I know what’s going to happen. I’m going to fill this form out and then I’m going to get a call from a brand new SDR and they’re going to call me probably like five times and then I’m going to get a bunch of emails from that person too so I’m not gong to fill out that form. The bummer is that used to work really well because it was a new thing and you would gate content.


What we found is that for marketers who are leveraging marketing automation and nurture marketing just overall like our clients were seeing dramatic decreases in the effectiveness of gated content. Maple IQ is different. Yeah it’s supposed to be different so what it was, remember those books from where you were a kid it was like choose your own adventure. All right you know you turn to page 17 if you want to go in the ice cave. Turn to 27 if you don’t. Okay you’re dead. Right?


Maureen Jann: Well yeah, nailed it.


Jesse Fowler: The concept of Maple IQ is like hey here’s our value prop and then you respond. It’s like who are you first off, are you an in house marketer or an agency marketer? Then depending upon what they clicked, then the message that followed would be different. It was kind of mirrored in a conversation and what we thought is that we designed it, and you can go to like readyfortheholidays.com. I think that page is still up right?


Maureen Jann: Yeah. Yeah, it is.


Jesse Fowler: Okay. The way we designed it was to kind of mimic like the experience that you get on an app, on like an iPhone because 65% of all media that is consumed is done so on a mobile device and you know as well as I do that as soon as you see a form on a mobile device you kind of like, I’m bummed out. Right? We mirrored like an app experience to be able to get people to interact with this concept. We had this idea that this is going to be so awesome. It’s going to drive so many new leads because the message is going to resonate because we’re talking to people and we’re asking them questions and it’s going to be this massively successful thing and Maureen is going to win like and Addy award.


Maureen Jann: Right. Which was the actual, that was what I was secretly hoping for for sure because not only were we solving a critical digital marketing challenge of getting ready for a holiday season as a retailer and the digital marketing industry is huge, right? That’s a big deal is making sure you’re prepped for that. We were offering these awesome, not only was it beautifully designed –


Tim Mohler: It was fantastic.


Jesse Fowler: It looked good. It looked awesome.


Maureen Jann: It was this whole idea that if you answered a few questions it would actually give you a customized digital marketing strategy. Even the form was like a mad lib so I thought I just nailed it, just one after the other.


Jesse Fowler: People still love that form.


Maureen Jann: Because it’s awesome.


Jesse Fowler: It was good.


Maureen Jann: Yeah so we went into this with some pretty high hopes. This project was like, I spent endless amounts of hours, a good solid 40 hours on designing it, building it. We sent another, like some money on getting it written, like a 7,000 word document if you compiled all the copy in one spot. We did a video shoot. I mean we just did everything and we thought we really did all the right stuff and then ultimately I think we had one conversion. It was so sad.


Jesse Fowler: It was super, that’s a mega fail.


Maureen Jann: That was a mega fail.


Jesse Fowler: It was a mega fail.


Maureen Jann: The silver lining is that’s the whole conversation right? We’ve got to try new things as marketers. We can’t sit on our hands and wait for the same thing we always did to get more effective. That’s not going to work.


Jesse Fowler: Right. You know I mean I think that that’s 100% true and some companies are not down with that. They’re not going to innovate. They’re fine doing what is proven is successful and they don’t have to spend any budget or hours on innovating but I think the high growth companies that do innovate. They get the massive results right? In terms of customers are really smart. They’ve figured out that gated is horrible. They’re going to get barraged with sales calls so that’s an old strategy that’s just not going to work so if you’re doing that today you’re only hurting yourself. Those thinking about, okay what is the new way? How do we provide really good quality content and be generous but provide enough value to where people are going to feel good about giving me their information and actually converting. I think that’s still a challenge that we continue to try and put innovation and experimentation towards and I think that’s what we want to talk about for the rest of the time.


Maureen Jann: Yeah absolutely. I would love to hear your thoughts about, we talk about ideating and trying new things like how are you validating marketing experiences using data? That’s what we came to right, at the end of the day it was like this isn’t converting but what else can we learn? In our case, you were telling me some of this yesterday. We learned a couple of other things and it turned out the metrics we thought we were going to expect weren’t actually the metrics that were useful metrics so –


Jesse Fowler: Yeah. Yeah I think there really needs to be a measured approach. Creating new ideas, marketers I think by nature are very creative people. It’s really easy to come up with a lot of amazing ideas if you just spend 10 minutes with your team you’re going to think of a bunch of new ideas but ideas are like useless. We have an internal thing which we ripped off from some Pinterest quote at Solomon which is like, Ideas are hallucinations without execution. Creating a culture of actually executing on those ideas is often the most important thing. Like every other good start up we leveraged the lean start up model but when we think about, okay these are all of these experiments that we’ve run. We want to run a new interactive landing page. What are we looking for? That’s where now things need to get disciplined so I think the first step is counting the costs. That’s why we’re a finance driven organization. We want to stay in business. Every new idea also gets entered into a [inaudible 00:31:30] where we’re trying to list out what are the real costs, what is the expected return, and then what is the profit margin that we want to hit?


If the numbers don’t work out at the performance stage then you can just kill that idea immediately. I went ahead and posted a simple template of a proforma on our site so gosolomon.com/conferenceproforma. This is just a simple template that you can use in Excel but I think that’s the first step is actually figuring out what do we think is going to be a good list and then what is the value of that so that you can determine whether you want to burn hours on developing it. I think you know specifically for readyfortheholidays.com the second most important thing has been identifying what are the measures that you’re going to use to gage the success or failure of this experiment? I think to determine those measures you first have to document the questions that you’re trying to answer. To take it back to fifth grade, like the hypothesis. For us it was really around will interactive content resonate with new people and cause them to convert to known leads much faster and then the second question we’re trying to answer is will interactive landing pages outperform the static content with regards to the number of conversions. Would you agree those were the two big questions we were trying to ask Maureen?


Maureen Jann: They sure were.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah. I think where we might have gotten wrong is that, okay we said yeah that’s the assumption but then we immediately moved into the design of that page without making everything about the design of the page specifically geared towards increasing those conversions.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Jesse Fowler: When we’ve done kind of like our post analysis we did a little bit of just blind market research study and one thing we found is that someone fresh coming into that website was like, dude this is fun. I’m digging this. And they would play around and go through the different interactive features but then they would just stop at the very bottom CTA. They didn’t really see that that was the whole goal of that journey they had just taken. Unfortunately I think it might have just been something as simple as just the way we designed that final CTA. In any event understanding along that journey what are the different customer feedback measure that we’re going to look at to determine whether something is happening good or whether we need to pivot and change things even in the midst of running that campaign.


Maureen Jann: I’d be curious your thoughts about what did you, I mean let’s say we categorize that as a technical failure. Bummer. Womp womp. Sad trombone. What do you feel like you got out of it as a service provider? What did you learn?


Jesse Fowler: Well I think it comes back to user experience design and why, because the page was gorgeous and the content was awesome. I think that we got so spooled up in the creativity in terms of designing that stuff that we kind of forgot there was a goal in terms of getting people to convert and that all of our design choices needed to really focus on that conversion goal.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Jesse Fowler: Things that we could have done to really improve that I think is making the first message people thing like tee up like, hey there’s a prize if you finish this thing. It’s definitely worth it to get to the end of this because you’re going to get this amazing shiny thing, right, which was the customized strategy white paper.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Jesse Fowler: Then putting like a progress bar I think is a best practice. People start to see, I’m a step 1. Now I’m at step 2. Now I’m at step 3.


Maureen Jann: Then you could have a little start at the bottom that says, strategy or custom strategy or something like that. Yes.


Jesse Fowler: Like confetti. You know. Something like that.


Maureen Jann: Celebration.


Jesse Fowler: I think that because we’re both creative people and we work well together we just got spooled up in the excitement of creating this new thing and we added a lot into it that I think had some interesting results so when we went back through and looked at the data one of the things that we were blown away by was like, whoah. The session time is through the roof on this thing. Compared to the static page, I think the static page was averaging like 13 seconds before people just closed it. Then for this interactive page is was like 1 minute 38 seconds.  People were really reading the content and consuming it. That was like, that was a big win in terms of a compare and contrast but then you know I think the more important measures would have been around the actual amount of traffic first off.


Maureen Jann: Yeah.


Jesse Fowler: How many new people are we actually directing to the site first off because that’s a non starter.


Maureen Jann: That was big learning. If you’re going to do something like this you have to make sure you have the volume of traffic going to it so you get a real test out of it.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah. I mean that was the first identifier for us is okay, let’s crack open those statistic books that we somehow didn’t sell on eBay and let’s determine what is the sample size that we actually need and so we went back to the drawing board and it’s now part of our process in terms of validating whether an idea is good or not or what is the p value that we actually need to isolate in terms of what is the number of customers that need to hit this website before we have a statistically relevant result that we can rely on for future design and product development.


Maureen Jann: Say that again five times fast. No just kidding, go on.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah right. That was one of the really important lessons for us is if you”re going to experiment you do need to rely on statistics and math to influence really whether if something is feasible or not, whether it’s going to be a sound experiment. Then secondly you know whether it’s something that you really can rely on from a business strategy perspective.


Maureen Jann: She signs heavily. Yeah. You’re right. I think you’re right about us getting spun up into the creativity part of it too. It was really fun and it was beautiful but it had, to your point, had we optimized the entire experience for conversion then it would have been great and increased out sample size. Also excellent. I mean if we’re talking to marketers about, they hear these sad stories and in this sad story that we’re telling right now when you think about that the baseline benefits of trying something new and risking this kind of failure is the learnings right but how do you justify putting, how do you justify a budget towards experimentation?


Jesse Fowler: Yeah I think it’s important that everyone is bought into the value for experimentation right? Why are we doing this? That why needs to be answered and that culture of innovation needs to be created so something that we do, even when we engage with a brand new client is we educate them on hey, here’s how we work. Many clients come to us and they say hey, we just lost our Marquetto guy. We need someone to run our Marquetto instance for us. Can you help out? We can be like sure, but this is how we work. We have an innovate team, an accelerate team, and a scale team. When we start running your instance we’re going to be syncing up all sorts of different ideas for you to consider and this is the lift that we think we’re going to be able to provide by implementing those ideas and here’s how we’re going to structure that. Internally at Solomon we have measures in place to be able to make sure that as a culture for our firm that we’re experimenting. The measures that we track are the number of experiments or new ideas that are submitted.


Then more importantly is the number of experiments that have actually been conducted. That’s regardless of whether it failed or whether it worked but we know that really identifying serious value ads often times hinges on the ability to actually execute experiments. We look at the number of failed experiments and the number of successful experiments as a frequency measure that we should be hitting x measures every single month. Finally is the lag measure is what is the amount of lift that has been derived by all this new innovation that we’ve created and that’s obviously the primary goal but that primary goal can’t be this thing that you’re measuring every single experiment by otherwise people get depressed and they stop doing it.


Maureen Jann: Sure.


Jesse Fowler: Then you just become kind of like a slow to market marketer which is I think not where anybody wants to be.


Maureen Jann: I think that’s fair although there’s research into fair marketing so much like slow food I guess you’ve just got to find your space, find your niche.


Jesse Fowler: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah but looking at Ready for the Holidays what we did is we looked at that data powered by Google Analytics of course.


Maureen Jann: TM.


Jesse Fowler: Thinking about what is the next experiment that we’re going to run so we set up a new interactive page for startuprocket.com which is a protaventure. We started changing some things so let’s make the design of this much more overt for the final conversion. That ended up proving itself out to where we had an 18% lift in the interactive page versus the static page. That is why we’re aggressive and innovating is because when you can drive an 18% lift as a marketer that’s awesome. That’s the kind of thing that you celebrate and that’s the whole reason we’re in this game is that how do we drive higher conversion and speak to customers in more meaningful ways to get them to do the things that we think are going to be beneficial to them like converting.


Maureen Jann: I like conversions.


Jesse Fowler: That’s the whole point for us.


Maureen Jann: I’m pro conversion. That’s excellent. Awesome. Well that was great. That’s really helpful and I think that’s an interesting exploration of a project. If anyone wants to go check out readyfortheholidays.com you can see how magical it is although now with all of your talk about streamlining for conversion I kind of want to revamp it for this year and see if that works better. I don’t know. We’ll have to talk about it.


Jesse Fowler: Yeah that’d be fun.


Maureen Jann: Awesome well thanks Jesse. We really appreciate having you here and we hope you’ll come back soon. Can’t get rid of me. I’m everywhere.


Jesse Fowler: No I always love chatting with you Maureen. It’s fun.


Maureen Jann: Sucker. No I kid. Okay. Well for all of you marketing types out in podcast land we’re delighted you could join us today. All the links we mentioned are going to be in the podcast notes as per usual. If you like the show and want to make sure it sticks around please make sure to rate us on your favorite podcast platform. Follow us on PointIt, Point_It on Twitter to get the latest podcast content, live events and more. We look forward to having you back with us. Thanks for coming and for now stay on point.



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