Inventory Management + Growth Summit Marketing Panel

September 29, 2021

Fishbowl brought together four brilliant marketing minds to discuss a number of strategies and tactics that can benefit your business. The panelists are:

  • Ben Ard, Senior Director of Demand Gen at Weave
  • Brett Swensen, Vice President of Marketing at Kizik
  • Jasmin Rock, Vice President of Advertising at 97th Floor
  • Adam Smith, Director of Demand Gen at Fishbowl

What Marketing Have You Found to Be Successful During COVID-19?

Ben Ard is a presenter at the Inventory Management + Growth Summit.

Swensen: They shifted to 100 percent online instead of their traditional retail and wholesale model. It’s paid off because now they keep all their inventory in house, and they focus on what they do well, such as demand gen.

Rock: As an agency working with many different clients, they had to assess what everybody else was doing to see what would work well for each client’s business model. For example, overseas sellers had to worry about shipping. Another focused on selling more through Amazon instead of their own website. They adapted strategies on a case-by-case basis.

Smith: Understanding how COVID-19 changed businesses and how your services are still important to them has been the biggest shift. If they’re short-staffed, you can explain how your product helps them do more with less.

What Is Your Go-to Channel for Reaching New Customers?

Smith: His background is in search engine optimization. It’s a long-term strategy that’s difficult to master. But once you get to the top, you just need to maintain the right balance to stay there.

Ard: Any specific tips to get started with SEO?

Smith: If you want to start boosting your SEO, check out YouTube. Sort by date so you’re getting the latest information on optimizing on-page factors. Or you can find an agency that has experience helping businesses like yours. Ask for references and case studies. There’s a lot of free and paid advice online if you want to do it yourself, but don’t expect quick results if you go that route.

Are There Red Flags to Watch Out for in an Agency?

Brett Swensen is a presenter at the Inventory Management + Growth Summit.

Smith: If someone doesn’t have a solid content strategy for structuring your website to send relevant signals to Google, it will fail. No other factor can make up for on-page SEO failures.

Ard: Jasmin, what advice would you have for people looking for a good agency?

Rock: Find someone who’s going to be a strategic partner for you. They need to take the time to understand your business and do the work well. Technology is constantly changing, particularly with SEO. So you need someone who is able to change with the times. They should be willing to support you long term as you strive to overcome new challenges.

Ard: No matter how you reach out to people, you need to provide value. Then there will be power behind your SEO and agency efforts. Dive into your customers’ needs and show that you’re using marketing as a channel to meet those needs.

Smith: When looking for an SEO agency, you need to think like Google. Google is such a successful company because they have been able to deliver valuable results to the end user. SEO agencies need to have the same mentality of delivering value to end users.

Rock: You also need to find a service provider who’s not just going to provide the base-level metrics of SEO traffic, but how that traffic is converting. If it’s not converting, then all your efforts are for naught.

Ard: When you look at marketing, there are many measures to track success: website traffic, number of email opens, clicks, etc. But they don’t always align with your company’s goals.

How Do You Measure the Success or Failure of Your Marketing?

Jasmin Rock is a presenter at the Inventory Management + Growth Summit.

Swensen: They take it down to a pretty easy level to understand: money out, money in. They’re on many channels, and they want to make sure each one is performing well.

Rock: Revenue is always going to be an important bottom-line metric. But you have to also measure the lifetime value of a customer. Privacy updates and murky conversion data make it difficult to measure that. Do your best to aim for long-term relationships, not just the initial purchase.

Smith: Revenue is the end goal, but there are plenty of other metrics along the way.

How Do You Handle Budgets?

Swensen: His team handles both sales and marketing. Their primary focus is on video content that is high quality. They have certain goals they have to hit, and they keep tabs on budgets on a quarterly, monthly, and weekly basis. Facebook and other sites keep shifting their tracking, making it a moving target.

Smith: It depends on ROI and your company’s strategy. Software companies and local businesses will have different ROIs and, consequently, different revenue percentages to produce them.

Ard: New channels will always be more expensive than established channels when it comes to generating leads and sales. But you need to give it 3-6 months to let it grow and breathe before you decide if it’s cost effective or not.

How Can SMBs Start Producing Videos?

Adam Smith is a presenter at the Inventory Management + Growth Summit.

Swensen: It’s all about your product and your customer. Where can you find them, and what type of content resonates with them? Pick the websites they’re visiting and see if you have internal resources to make something quick and dirty. Contractors and freelancers can help you accomplish what you desire at a minimal cost. Do a few tests to see what might work and pursue it.

Rock: Don’t be overwhelmed at the start. Your first video doesn’t have be flashy and great. People tend to resonate with one-on-one experiences. Start by building a brand and a community around it. Your customers can provide testimonials and other user-generated content.

Smith: Do a simple video about your most-popular products and what their values are. Post it on YouTube and link it back to a page on your website talking about those products. That’s something you can start tomorrow, even if you haven’t nailed down your entire philosophy on video production.

Ard: The one tip I’ve noticed is everyone has excellent video quality, but if you want to stand out, get a professional microphone to boost your sound quality. That will dramatically improve the presentation of your videos.

How Would You Audit Your Website to Find Room for Improvement?

Smith: If you don’t know who’s getting to a page and how they’re getting there, then you don’t know if you’re meeting their expectations. On the Fishbowl website, people are using search terms that indicate they’re ready to buy, and they’re finding informational pages from Fishbowl. What they need are solutions to their issues on those pages.

Rock: Is the copy answering a user’s end goal? Relevancy is a key factor in Google’s algorithm. What content and pages are going to move people through the funnel? The more you can figure out the right path to send people down, the more success you’ll have.

How Do You Start A/B Testing?

Rock: Google has some great free tools like Google Optimize to help with website optimization. Even if you don’t have a technical background, you can make good use of it. Experiment with different ideas about user behavior. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes to see why they might be abandoning checkout or experiencing anxiety. You can also do A/B tests on paid campaigns in which you split traffic evenly between landing pages to see which one performs better.

Ard: Try taking elements out of your homepage to see which ones are the most essential to conversion and which ones aren’t necessary.

Swensen: He has his parents look at Web pages after he makes changes to them to see if they notice any problems. He used Google Optimize to change what collection page he would send customers to, and he saw a dramatic rise in their conversion rate. Hotjar shows heatmaps and where people are falling off.

Smith: He’s also a fan of Hotjar. One of the most dangerous things you can do is to make changes without first having data to back them up. Hotjar gives you that data.

Swensen: Hotjar’s rage click shows you areas of your site where people are really frustrated.

What Resources Help You Improve Your Marketing Skills?

Rock: Podcasts are great, and there are plenty of tools available to help with Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Marketing blogs help, too, like Search Engine Journal, Social Media Examiner, and podcasts specific to Google Ads.

Swensen: A community on Twitter focused on ecommerce enables people to ask questions and get responses within minutes. It also opens the possibility to work with other vendors going through similar things.

Smith: Free-wise, groups and communities on different social platforms are huge. YouTube’s a great one if you know who to look for and listen to. He’s spent more than $100,000 on professional classes from the right people, which has gotten him a lot further in his career than he would have been able to if he had only used trial and error.

Ard: His favorite resource is going to LinkedIn and finding other experts he looks up to. Then he asks them to be his mentors. One tactic is to send them something from Amazon to get their attention and build an instant connection.

What’s the First Step to Improve Your Marketing?

Swensen: Go read reviews and reach out to customers. They’ll almost write your copy for you as they talk about their pain points. It’s quick, free, and you can do it every week.

Rock: Getting started with social media is a good idea. You can get a lot of good ideas and start building a community. See what types of posts and content are performing well.

Smith: Start with a strategy to better understand your customers. What pain points are you solving and not solving? That will improve your product and copy.

Ard: Take a look at the customer journey from first discovery to purchase and see if you can map out every step on it. This will help you find leaks.