This article was originally published on the Stream Creative Blog in preparation for Experience Inbound 2016.
As technology changes, so does the buyer journey for the customers of many businesses and organizations. Marketers who are not relying on data to make important modifications to strategy, design and other elements focused on connecting with prospects and existing customers, may soon be left in the dust. In this Q&A interview with Kyle Lacy, Vice President of Marketing for OpenView Venture Partners and Experience Inbound 2016 keynote speaker, you’ll learn why creating moments is more important than marketing and why it’s becoming critical to rely on data to drive revenue. As a new dad, Kyle also shares some pretty great productivity tips for juggling the demands of both work and life.
Congratulations on being a new dad. Any good work or life balance advice for other busy, sleep-deprived parents?
I tried to be proactive before my son was born and spent some time with a productivity coach. Dr. Julie Gurnertaught me something incredibly valuable about planning every day. She suggested that each day, I block two to three 60-minute work sessions where I eliminate distractions and grind through my to-do’s for the day. That means no messaging, email, Slack, etc. I also do this every Friday for the upcoming Monday. This strategy is called time blocking and it has helped me keep my workday to 7:30 a.m. / 8:00 a.m. – 5:00pm everyday. Before using this time management tactic, I was booked with meetings – many of which could have been reevaluated.
I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as work life balance. At times, everything in our life integrates but if you are efficient, you can disconnect yourself in the evening and on the weekend.
Writing a book is a big accomplishment and you’ve written three on social strategy, CRM and personal branding. What was your motivation for completing your first, Twitter Marketing for Dummies?
I started a marketing agency right out of college. For the first couple of years, my partners and I tried to compete with larger agencies and soon realized that we would lose out on acquiring business. We looked like idiots because we were so young. We realized that we needed to differentiate ourselves and social media was just emerging as a trend. We started doing social media consulting and we found success. Partnering with Wiley helped us gain exposure and Twitter Marketing for Dummies was a good branding play. Once the book was published, it allowed our agency to be competitive.
What are some of the biggest changes in digital, social and content marketing you’ve experienced over your career?
I would say there are two or three changes happening right now marketers should consider. There is a transition taking place between social media and private networks that will cause a massive shift in how people think about their social communities. Ning.com tried to facilitate this shift a long time ago, but they were too early. The same group has now started a company called MightyBell – I think this is the next phase of social.
There is also a shift to the inbound model to be a more targeted outbound model. Marketers are going to be consciously spending more time and energy to find the right people.
The other shift I’m seeing is toward data-driven content which means marketers are making decisions based on data. The focus is no longer about time on site or bounce rate — it’s about what actually drives revenue. As marketers, we’ve been spending way too much time and resources on vanity metrics rather than true revenue generating tactics. It’s kind of like taking the sales funnel and flipping it on to its head. Rather than starting with tactics and then creating goals, we now need to start with the target in mind.
There is a lot of talk about digital artificial intelligence – how do you feel it will change the way brands communicate with their prospects and consumers.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning (the age of BOTS) is just beginning and marketers really need to learn how to work with these systems.
Some organizations and publications are experimenting with these systems by using narrative science – software that transforms data into narrative. Now, rather than manually analyzing or manipulating data, software systems can intelligently interpret and communicate insights automatically. The accuracy of these systems is quite amazing.
Machines are going to augment the way we do things and marketers need to be aware and prepared for the shift. This shift will require us to ask, how do we change in order to be better at what we do?
What is the role of creating experiences in the world of content marketing?
I dislike the word content marketing – isn’t it really just marketing? There’s been a customer revolution that started in the early 2000s when mobility allowed us to be more vocal around brands. It provided many more choices for people and a need for brands to create experiences instead of just content. This means personalizing the web experience for someone like designing content, a whitepaper, etc., to speak directly to a target.
It’s time to put ourselves in our prospects shoes. Everyone is different and everyone has his or her own experience. It really doesn’t matter who you are (marketer, sales professional, CEO, etc.), because the only thing that is relevant is the experience a customer is having with your brand.
Can you suggest a few key technology modifications marketers can make to change consumer behavior?
There are certain processes that if not already in place, marketers should consider implementing. It’s important to have a system in place that allows you to track customer behaviors, like HubSpot, Marketo, etc. In addition, as humans we are not perfect, so it is also important to have a process in place to ensure data is entered correctly across functions.
We must start using numbers to not just keep score, but to drive better actions. For example, if an AdWords campaign is driving a sales cycle that is longer than a direct mail campaign that has a better conversion – then you should be using direct mail. However, most marketers can’t tell you what is really working, and this is a perfect example of why it is imperative that we start using data to drive decisions.
What is the #1 takeaway you hope attendees walk away with from your session at Experience Inbound?
Tactics aren’t as important as the experience a customer has with your brand and the data collected. It’s common to do a lot of tactical stuff and hope it supports our goals, but in actuality, it should be done in the opposite way. We need to know why things are or are not working. I hate to say this bluntly, but if you’re a marketer that doesn’t do this, you’re not going to have a job when machines can do this for us. It’s about finding the fine balance between creativity and data.
Have you ever been to Wisconsin? What are you looking forward to most?
I’ve spent some time in Wisconsin because a colleague of mine has a cheese factory called Lake Country Dairy, in Turtle Lake, Wis. I’m definitely looking forward to the cheese!