What does it take to be a successful growth marketer?
In this week’s episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Mike Rizzo shares the approach he’s taking at global mobile advertising and discovery platform InMobi, fresh after its acquisition of AerServ. Turns out its a mix of creative marketing, full funnel optimization, and a solid marketing operation playbook.
Listen to the podcast to hear more about Mike’s approach to growth marketing or read the show notes below for a quick summary.
Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success Podcast. This is Kathleen Booth, and I am your host and this week my guest is Mike Rizzo, who is a Senior Growth Marketing Manager at InMobi. Welcome Mike.
Mike Rizzo (guest): Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here. It’s gonna be fun.
Kathleen: I’m excited to have you here too. Tell us a little bit about InMobi, and about yourself, and your background.
Mike: I was actually just recently working for AerServ. We’re based out of Orange County in California. We were about a 70 person shop, helping mobile app publishers make money through mobile advertising. And, InMobi is actually a much larger player in the APAC region, I should say. As they were seeking to extend their reach into the US, they had a presence here, but they wanted to expand upon that. They were seeking somebody who was strong in video monetizations, specifically. They ended up reaching out to us and recently acquiring AerServ in January, actually. So, it’s really, really recent.
Mike: It’s been fun. We have been in the middle of a transition ever since. It’s only been like 6 weeks or 8 weeks or something.
Kathleen: So, we’re getting you fresh off of that transition. You’re going from a 70 person company, now that company’s been acquired by InMobi. How large is the new, combined company?
Mike: InMobi is now, I think the total is over a thousand. So, it’s definitely a change in pace. We have a much larger team to work with, lots of integrations to manage and lots of systems and people operations to network and make sure everything runs smoothly.
Kathleen: I would love to talk a little bit more about this, because I kind of can’t even imagine … You’re going from 70 people to a thousand. In addition to that, you’re combining all of the different tools that you use as companies. You’re putting together 2 different teams that have never worked together before. Tell me a little bit about, as somebody in the marketing department who is really charged with growth marketing, growing the company, how do you … I feel like you’d be trying to eat an elephant, right? And I know you can only eat it one bite at a time, as they say. But, where do you start? How do you even tackle that?
Mike: Right. That’s a really good question. A part of my background that I’ve just breezed over in talking more about, just kind of the recency of our acquisition, is that I started in marketing operations. So, I tend to have a foundation in building systems that are meant for scale and for leaner teams. I’ve always been in more of the start up world. And so, now that I’m part of a larger organization, it becomes more important than ever to make sure that we have systems that are scalable and efficient. So hopefully, my role here at InMobi is going to grow into one that allows for us to do those types of things.
One of the focuses right now, at least the jumping off point, is just figuring out what our marketing stack should be. And, which systems the entire organization should be leveraging. A lot of that will come through the systems that they already have in place. But, we’ll have to figure out what systems we should keep and, which ones that the parent, or the acquiring company should keep. So, for instance, we’re both using HubSpot. We now have to figure out which of those two environments we have to hold on to. Everything from what data fields need to be mapped over, to who needs to keep which environments.
And then at the same time, we both use Salesforce for our CRM. So, it’s like which CRM system do you get to keep? It’s all just figuring out just the basic components of what systems need to be where. But, beyond that it’s moving on past those basic decisions. It’s okay, now that you’ve made those decisions, how is the pipeline gonna work? What other tools do you need to actually run a thousand person organization with multiple marketers, multiple teams, across continents, and multiple sales roles? And so, there’s all these things that have to be figured out. Hopefully I can help out a little bit with my experience in running marketing operations but, we’ll see. I’ve definitely got plenty of tools to offer up to the team and make that transition smooth.
Kathleen: Wow. I mean, when I think about that, the first thing that springs to mind is thank goodness you are all using the same platforms in some instances. You’re both using HubSpot, thank God. You’re both using Salesforce, thank God. It’s going to be complicated enough to combine two different instances of the same thing. I can’t even imagine if you were using different marketing automation platforms, different CRMs. How complicated that would be.
Mike: Yes, it would’ve made things much more difficult. So, fortunately for us it is one to one in terms of systems, at least the two primary core systems. Actually it’s really interesting, it’s I think going to be the first time HubSpot themselves has ever had to deal with a situation like this. People acquire other companies all the time, but never have they had two customers … One acquires the other and suddenly you have to merge two databases. And so, from their perspective, this is kind of a first for them as well.
Mike: Their account management team is gonna be up for a little bit of a challenge with this one, I think.
Kathleen: It’ll be very interesting to see how that turns out, and if it goes well it’ll be a great precedent then for future customers who are in a similar situation.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Kathleen: So, you’re in a position as a growth marketing manager. Tell us what that means. What are you charged with?
Mike: I’m tasked with building the funnel. Everything from top to bottom. So, it’s conversions at the top, conversions in the middle, and then product adoption at the end. Once users get into our funnel, I have to try to figure out how to nurture them along the path, like any good inbound marketer. But also, once they reach the product, we have to figure out how to drive adoption. We have a free-to-use product, so every publisher can come into our platform, sign up for free and start monetizing their inventory. The challenge therein is figuring out how to get them to actually take those actions, and then go beyond just the first step of signing up. How do I get them to add a new type of ad placement inside of their mobile app? How do I get them to start using our core technology? Which is our mediation platform that allows them to bring in other ad networks and other advertisers from other sources and increase their revenue.
If they don’t fully understand those concepts, we have to be able to explain those things to them, and then get them to take those actions inside of the product. So, we use different tools and technology to be able to understand how our users are actually moving through our funnel. HubSpot is our core as I mentioned early, our core automation technology. But, we also use tools like Mouseflow, Datanyze, we’re incorporating … Oh gosh, what is it called? Intercom. We’re about to integrate Intercom into our product, and try to better understand how users are interacting with underlying principles of the product. So, it’ll pass back really interesting information on like, has used this type of ad unit, but hasn’t used this type of ad unit. We’ll be able to try to drive product adoption through those practices as well. So, as a growth marketer I get to look at the whole funnel, and experiment all over the place in terms of what is it gonna take to get somebody to really leverage the power of what we built here at InMobi.
Kathleen: And how many people are on the marketing team?
Mike: I was a solo marketer with AerServ. Technically I’m still a solo marketer. I do have support from my boss and a designer here in-house. But, with the greater InMobi team, there’s a staff of, I want to say, six or so out of North America. There’s another four or five that sit in Bangalore. And then three in China, I think. So, we have quite a large marketing organization spread out all over the place. But, on the platform side of the business, which AerServ’s product is going to be the forward facing platform for InMobi, it’s just me at the moment. And so, we’re trying to figure out how to leverage each others skill sets and merge the teams. That’s all kind of TBD right now. It’s still early days.
Kathleen: Wow, and so with a big global marketing organization, different time zones, different countries, different languages, each taking charge of a different piece of the marketing puzzle, I imagine that having really solid systems and platforms, and tools is critical to your success. I’d love to have you talk a little bit more about what you have in place and what you’re working on, because I know you do come from that marketing operations background. So, that’s really where you can kind of make things sing. How do you tackle that?
Mike: It’s always a beast. One thing that I do that I think is unique for my role, and I hope that it actually is more widely adopted than I realize, but for me it seems like I’m the only one promoting this, is I build what I call the marketing operations playbook. What that is, it’s essentially a tool that the organization can use to answer kind of four questions, more or less, that are pretty fundamental. Things like, what is the different between an iMQL and an MQL? And that’s like “What’d he say? What does that mean?” So an iMQL is an instant marketing qualified lead versus a marketing qualified lead. And if you think about that from the inbound terminology, somebody comes into your platform or your product or your website and they say “Hey, I want a demo.”, that would be considered an iMQL. Right there, an instant MQL, you meed to get those guys up to sales like stat. And speed to lead is a big concern there. You have to pass it across to the sales team as quickly as possible, make sure they follow-up as quickly as possible.
The other side of that is just a traditional MQL. The distinction there is somebody who’s come into your funnel and maybe for the more traditional inbound approach, they downloaded some content maybe, been in a nurture campaign for awhile, visited your website ten or fifteen times and then filled out a contact form and so on and so forth. And before you know it, they’ve taken enough action that you can say “Hey, no, we think this person’s ready to talk to sales.” So marketing is now gonna say this is an MQL, let’s pass that across to the team, see if we can move this down the funnel.
Some of the other questions the marketing operations playbook answers would be things like “What tools do we use for CRM and marketing?”, “How do we manage the marketing campaigns in general?”, and “How are resource attributes actually sourced back to the data?” So how do we actually tie our leads back to the sources they come from? And so this marketing operations playbook would take all of those types of questions and outline all of those details. And I would usually breakout all of the tech stack that goes into that too. What are the demand generation tools that we have? What do we need? What are the sales tools that we have? What are the internal communication tools that we have and need to be able to run our business efficiently? What are the life cycle management tools that we need? And at the end of the day, what are the digital asset management solutions?
I was fortunate enough to work for, for a very brief amount of time, in an industry called Digital Asset Management, which I wish I had known about in earlier parts of my career, because a digital asset management product is honestly the solution everybody needs and people say “Well, what is that?” It’s not Dropbox, it’s not Google Drive, it’s something quite more. And it allows you to control who sees what assets from which countries, and piecemeal all these slide decks together. It’s a really powerful solution that more marketers and more organizations need to try to adopt and try to stop thinking in terms of “Oh yeah, we’re fine. We’ve got Google Drive.” Or “We’ve got Dropbox.” Or The Box, or whatever cloud storage system, or One Drive, right? The file sharing and permissions controls on those things aren’t exactly what every organization needs and frankly, as you start reaching 200+ person company, you actually need a lot more advanced control over that stuff.
Kathleen: I’ve actually had some clients in the past that sold DAM solutions, digital asset management solutions, and so I became very interested in those as well. My observation has been that they’ve definitely been adopted at the enterprise level but there is a huge gap in the market, in the mid-market and in the small and medium size market. I think if you’re a really tiny business, you don’t need a DAM, you can certainly use your server, your Google Drive, your Dropbox, what have you. But I do agree, the larger you start to get, there is this whole mid-market audience out there of companies that, I’m not even sure they’re aware that DAMs exist and that there is that option. And in some places, I think it’s a failing of the market too, because a lot of the products that exist are really built for very large enterprise companies.
Mike: Yeah, I agree.
Kathleen: There aren’t a lot of them that are doing a good job of providing solutions for the mid-market. So maybe there’s an opportunity there for someone to create something.
Mike: Yeah, yeah, maybe. Who knows but yeah, I agree. There’s definitely a made market play for sure. I wholeheartedly agree that a lot of mid-market companies don’t even know it exists. You get stuck on your ways with Drive or whatever. It’s kinda where you’re at.
Kathleen: Yeah and funny enough, I also at another point was working with a company that was a MAM, which is a media asset management platform, really more for video and rich media like that. So there are a whole range of options out there. So if you are a company that is getting larger, that’s opening offices in different countries, if you have a distributed marketing team, it’s definitely something to look into.
Mike: Yeah, without a doubt, it’s a good thing to check out.
Kathleen: So, when you and I were first talking, one of the reasons I was excited to have you on is that you do have so much experience in marketing operations management and I love this idea of the playbook because even in a really smaller company, if you have more than one person working in marketing, I think that sort of thing can really be valuable. But also, even if you only have one person working in marketing, at some point, if that person leaves the company, all that knowledge of how we do things leaves with them. And so the notion that we should document and have shared definitions of how we define the MQLs and as you called it, the iMQL, how do leads get passed off?
There’s real value in doing that for just about anybody and so one of the things that excited me about talking with you was that a lot of the time, when I do these interviews, we focus on campaigns and ” What did you do in a campaign to get a lot of leads?” Or “What tactic are you using to get tons of visitors?” And there’s many great lessons to be learned there, but what we don’t often discuss on this podcast, at least, is what foundation do you need to build so that the campaigns that you do come up with can run efficiently and smoothly and scale with you as you get larger? And it seems to me like you are someone who’s doing a really good job of building a strong foundation.
Especially as you go from a company of 70 people to 1,000 people, it’s almost more important than ever to have that in place. So tell me a little bit more about how that plays into executing your marketing, running things smoothly as the company gets larger et cetera?
Mike: During my time at MavenLink, I was a part of a team of two or three and we grew to ten before I left there. I spent about three years building up that marketing organization, as far as the operations are concerned. I was not responsible for building the marketing org, however, the foundations of what we built there were all about aligning sales and marketing. So the marketing operations playbook isn’t just for … it was great, you are right. It is great for like the day I was no longer at Mavenlink, somebody could pick up what I had been laying down, quite literally, laying down the foundation for the business for the last three years. And for the most part, keep moving forward. Granted there’s questions, naturally, that come up. I made myself available for those things but it’s much better foundation to start with.
And so this plan that we laid out, actually was used across the teams to help the sales team also answer the questions about “What is it that marketing’s doing?”, and “When should I take over versus when are they gonna take over?” It almost acts as like an SLA, a service-level agreement between the two teams. Although there are probably better SLAs out there, this is just a really big one. And so for us, in terms of laying a foundation, I think some of the core elements that kind of go into building your tech stack, are just … I don’t know if your audience would necessarily take value in just seeing examples of the playbook but I definitely have a template and outline that I would be happy to offer you guys. ‘Cause talking through it could get a little mundane.
Kathleen: The short answer is yes, I certainly would love to see it and I’m sure other people listening would as well because hearing you talk about this, I know I have a lot of work to do in that area. I need to start documenting all this for us at IMPACT, and having those kinds of examples is fantastic. It’s definitely a way to make that work easier.
Mike: Cool, I have it on my Medium blog. I’m @mikedrizzo on there. And then I have mikedrizzo.com, it’s one blog post there too. But I can just make sure you guys get a link to share with your audience.
Kathleen: That would be great, I’ll put that in the show notes.
Mike: Be a lot easier.
Kathleen: Good, so looking forward with InMobi, you’ve just come in, it’s been less than six weeks. You’re getting your footing in the new organization and it sounds like the company has some pretty ambitious growth goals. They acquired you guys and that’s part of it. When looking at the challenge that you have ahead of you, to grow adoption of the platform, what are some of the strategies that you’re thinking of employing?
Mike: That’s a good question. So at the moment we have everything kind of at our fingertips. The really traditional stuff for us is making sure we have a brand presence out in the market place. InMobi is really strong, they have a really strong name outside of the US and they’re starting to grow here in the US. So what we’re gonna continue to do is show up for conferences and make sure that that brand presence is there. We also make sure that we get on boards or at least advisory groups and participate in the discussions that are really the leading edge of mobile advertising. Making sure that we have at least some bit of a voice there and that we’re bringing our customers voices in to that conversation too because we work with both sides, the publishers and the advertisers. So we want to make sure that we’re always up-to-date with the IAB and what they’re pressing forward on. So that’s kinda of events and partnerships that we’re pushing forward with this year.
We’re also going to, from the platform side of things, we’re gonna being focusing on actually relaunching an entire new version of the product which will hopefully drive even more adoption of our mediation product and platform. And to do that, we’re going to interestingly, leverage tools like HubSpot for inbound marketing. So today we’re offering, I think, three white papers or I should say PDFs really, they’re not white papers. They’re informational one sheeters on our website and that just kind gets people started on the journey of “What does it mean to do mobile ad mediation and monetization. And then from there, I’m usually dropping them into probably … roughly a two and half month nurture program, spread out over many weeks. I try not to email them more than once a week, just kind of as a best practice. It’s different for every business though, I’ve discovered. So that’s not just the rule of thumb to live by, it’s just how I’ve been doing it.
And then from there, we’ll pass them across to the sales team as they reach the end of that funnel and make sure that they have kind of a white glove service, to getting them into the product and making sure that they can adopt it. Once they’re inside of the product, we’re actually gonna start leveraging other tools. I think I mentioned earlier, we were talking about Intercom and be able to understand whether or not somebody has actually adopted a certain portion of the product or even seen that page or not. So we’re gonna leverage those tools to take that really rich data and pass it back to our data team and myself and start doing effectively in-app, pop-up notifications to try to drive more awareness about something that the publisher or our user may not have previously been aware of.
Mike: Okay, there’s this really cool tool that we’re gonna try out, it’s called Elev.io. It’s spelled E-L-E-V dot I-O and it’s basically an onboarding solution. So it’s really neat. It allows you to build these custom journeys for your users as they come into your product and try to guide them through discovery. So that’s another way we’re trying to increase the retention rates of our sign-ups and new users. When you think about growth marketing and making sure that you drive adoption. Most of the growth marketers out there … Sean Ellis is a friend of mine, he’ll talk about one of the most important metrics is really about retention and making sure that you get that stickiness factor, that ah-ha moment. It’s called all these things, right? And so what we need to do is help get people to that ah-ha moment as quickly as possible and reduce the steps. But sometimes that means literally walking them through those steps. And so that’s one of those tools that we’re really excited about introducing to the new product.
Kathleen: That’s great. Yeah, it’s interesting to me because in my work, I work with companies, clients that are, some of them are in SaaS vertical and some of whom have asked, others that are in much more traditional industries like financial services, professional services, et cetera. And I find that the SaaS and mobile app companies really understand that marketing doesn’t end when you get your customer, it’s equally as important to focus on retention and product adoption and renewals and all those things, as it is to bring the leads in, in the first place. Whereas a lot of the clients that we have that are in more traditional industries are so hyper focused on regen, that they forget that the same tools we use for regen can be used so effectively to prevent and reduce churn. And improve the customer experience cross-sells and up-sells. There’s just so much opportunity there-
Mike: Yeah, without a doubt.
Kathleen: And I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from technology and from SaaS.
Mike: Totally, and you’re right, I mean you’re spot-on. So for instance, I’ve been using HubSpot for, gosh, five, six years now and one of the things that you can actually do with HubSpot as well, depending on what plan you’re on, I think you have to be on the enterprise priced plan, if I remember correctly. You can actually pass back these special little events, they’re called custom events, they allow you track events on your website. So say somebody clicks on a button or clicks on a page or whatever it is. You can actually pass that back in a custom event to HubSpot and then start building lists off of that. Which is really impressive, right?
So like I want to target everybody who has clicked on the demo button but never seen the confirmation page, and so you can totally build a list off of that and then it starts doing email campaigns or nurturing or whatever. And then it actually allows you to take that information and see “Okay, for everybody who’s completed X event, how many have actually become customers thereafter?” And it’s actually really, really interesting.
It’s similar to using a tool like Intercom because they basically do all those customer event tracking for you, it’s built more for that in-app experience but if you don’t want to go pay for another solution, you can find ways to kinda hack together similar experiences using your existing tools. Again, I know you have to be on probably an upgraded plan but you can make it work.
And so to kind of echo what you’re saying in terms of there’s just ways to make technology work through the entire funnel, it’s absolutely true. You could still pass back those custom events for everybody who … you want to find everybody who has used all of these products inside of your app because that’s the leading indicator that they should be using the other one, if they haven’t yet. So you just send a campaign blast out to them to make sure that that’s happening. All of that is definitely possible with a various amount of the tools that you’re doing.
I think I wrote an article one time about how marketing automation isn’t the … it’s not like a magic flip of a switch, everything just works, you have to have somebody invested into this stuff. You have to have somebody who’s there to really drive ROI for the tool. And I think like that is probably one of the tricky things about probably all tech but in particular when it gets into marketing automation. It just seems like it’s this magic black box, that’s just a flip of the switch and it just starts working. Like “Oh, I bought HubSpot.”, or “I bought Marketo.”, or whatever, and it’s just gonna happen. And it’s like “no, part of your investment has to be having somebody really own the tool and drive the success of that.” I think that is totally crucial for every team, to build with that in mind.
Kathleen: You know, it’s so funny. I knew there was a reason I liked you a lot. I wrote a blog once called “The Number One Mistake Companies Make With Marketing Automation” and the whole focus of the blog was on this notion that people think if they buy the tool, it’s going to magically solve their problems. And it is all about how you use the tool and the consistency with which you use it and so we’re 100% on the same page there. Because I see that all the time and I see it a lot with clients we work with, where they think that if they purchase HubSpot, the leads will come and they forget that they still need to write blogs and send out emails and that type of thing. So I agree with you.
The other thing that’s really interesting to me and you kind of just really got at this was that just looking at HubSpot for example, and this is probably true of all these other tools that are out there, there’s so much data inside of HubSpot that is buried and if you are somebody who is intellectually curious and moderately, technically skilled, you can extract it and really do a lot with it. A great example, and you talked about it with essentially attribution modeling, you can figure out what things people are looking at that are driving them to convert and become customers. There are some tools in HubSpot for attribution modeling but I would say they’re not perfect.
But another example, and this is just a small thing, but one that I think is fun to play with, is several times I’ve experimented with exporting all of the social media posts from a given HubSpot portal. And you can do this in the social tool and it will export the actual posts along with all the data about what platform did it go on, what time was it posted, how many clicks did it get, how many shares did it get, et cetera. And if you export that spreadsheet, you can basically run a pivot table and find out the exact times of the day to publish based on clicks and engagement records from the past. It’s kind of mind blowing to me that HubSpot hasn’t built functionality into the tool to just tell you that, because that data’s in there, right?
Kathleen: But you can’t click a button and magically see that report. You have to export the data and play with it. And I think that’s like the tip of the iceberg, there’s so many more things like that and that really goes to your point about you have to have a team working on this and you have to have team that really wants to dig in and pick apart the information in there.
Mike: Yeah, I legitimately like, I kinda, I’ve always fancied myself like “One day, I’ll manage a team and we’ll all get to go do all these great things.” And I’ve often been stuck doing, either building the operational foundation or just being a solo marketer. And so I hope that in this role and in roles to come, I get to kind of see … have all that stuff come to fruition. It’s just here it is, this is the team I get to build and I totally agree. With a tool like HubSpot, for example, you can literally, if you look at the way that they kind of align the inbound funnel in terms of top, like TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, all of that stuff. Top of funnel, Middle of funnel, bottom of funnel, you can actually align anywhere from one to three people in each other those TOFU, MOFU, BOFU locations and have them do different things. Actually the former CEO, excuse me, CMO of HubSpot, Mike Volpe, did a really nice job explaining his hiring mentality and his process. You can go find it on SlideShare somewhere, I’m sure and I think he’s actually improved upon that since then.
Kathleen: And I’ll actually post it because he spoke at our conference last August, IMPACT Live, on that topic, so I think I might have a recording of it, which I’ll put in the show notes.
Mike: That would be awesome. So I have found his SlideShare and I’ve often tried to rework what he had done at the beginnings of HubSpot into “Okay, how would I build an organization around inbound marketing?” And I’m not kidding, you could assign, at the very least, one person to each part of the funnel and you could have them do social, you could have them do product marketing, which support everything from sales to just product messenging to PR to general demand generation, from the top of funnel, so that’s everything from paid to organic regen but it’s … you could absolutely rebuild entire programs around these tools. And frankly, you should, it shouldn’t just be one person but at least if you have one person, make sure that they are curious enough to dig in deep and really try to figure out “How am I gonna make this tool sing?”, right? Because we’re spending a lot of money on it.
Kathleen: Yeah, and there’s always more you can do. It’s funny ’cause earlier you said “Maybe one day I’ll have a team and I’ll get to do all that stuff.” And I had to laugh when you said that because Iowned my own agency for 11 years before I came to IMPACT and I had a team of, I think when we were at our largest there were 13 of us. Now I did not have a big team doing marketing for my company and so I always used to say that. I was like “Wow, someday I’ll be focused on marketing just one company instead of marketing for a portfolio of clients. And when I can focus on just ones company and I have a team, imagine what I could do.” And now, I am in that position, right? So I do IMPACT’s marketing, I don’t do our clients marketing. And I have a team of five people, soon to be eight, and I will tell you, not to burst your bubble, you still don’t have all the time that you want. But no, it’s great. That’s why, like you said, you need the right people because if you don’t have people that are just naturally very hungry and very curious to dig out that information, you’ll never make the time to do to it because there’s so much in there.
Mike: And to go back on what you were saying earlier about HubSpot needs to build something that’s easy for social media insights, their reporting tool does some of that stuff for us but it’s certainly isn’t as robust as I’d like it to be. It’s a little funky to get to at the moment but they are doing a pretty good job on the email side of things and so one of the things that I do like is their ability to say “Hey, don’t send this,” like it auto checks a box for you to like don’t send this email to people who have low interactions with your email. And then they have some insights that pop up on the left now that say “Oh, based on all of your sends,” well, first it’s like “Based on the sends with customers like you, maybe you should send at this time,” and then after a certain amount of time, you’ve sent an email enough times through their system, they go “Okay, now based on your data, this is the best time for you to send an email.” So I think they probably just started on the email side of things, which is ironic because email actually came last, for their product build. They did blogs and all that other stuff first, but email is now such a huge component for them.
Kathleen: Well that product is always changing, we were joking internally at the office this week that HubSpot is sort of like the grocery store where you have your favorite grocery store and you go and you know where everything is and then all of sudden, they just move where the milk is and you can’t find it. That’s a little like what HubSpot does to us, so they just like to keep us on our toes, right?
Mike: Yeah, totally. I’m in the beta program, so I know exactly how you feel right now. It seems like every other day there’s “Oh, and we’re releasing this,” and it’s like “What?”
Kathleen: Just when I thought I knew where to find the milk.
Mike: Although, I do have to say that some of the pillar content concepts and stuff, I think are really well researched and are totally a brilliant fad. That’s one of the tactics that we want to try to implement here at InMobi AerServ. We want to take this concept of “Let’s be an authority on a particular topic and let’s really expand upon it and link these sub category topics back to the pillar page to really try to ramp up our authority on the subject.” And so in this case, we’re experimenting with trying to become the authority on mobile ad mediation and header bidding. And so for us, we have to go build out these really dedicated resources and pages to that and I think that using tools like HubSpot and the research that they’re doing on that is actually gonna really help us in the long run but again, hopefully we these staff on hand to really go deep on those topics but it’s ambitious right now for us to want to do those things.
Kathleen: Well, we are working on the same thing, pillar content pages so-
Mike: All day, right?
Kathleen: We’ll have to stay in touch and compare notes.
No, this has been great. It’s been so interesting hearing about your experience and I think you’re in kind of a fascinating transition point that from people listening who are in marketing roles will really be able to appreciate the tremendous challenge but also the opportunity that you’re presented with, going from a company of 70 to a company of 1,000 and what that means, so I appreciate you sharing all that.
Kathleen: I do have two other questions for you that I’d like to ask all of my guests.
Kathleen: One is you’re very involved in the inbound marketing community, I know I met you through my connection at the Chicago HubSpot User Group, so you, I’m sure, know many other inbound marketers, who do you think company or individual is doing inbound marketing really well right now?
Mike: That’s a good question, so off the top of my head, a couple of names come to mind. One individual that I’ve been paying more attention to lately ’cause I think he showed up at the San Diego HUG not to long ago, which is a fairly large event. His name’s Neil Patel, I’m sure many of your listeners have heard of him.
Mike: See, that’s awesome.
Kathleen: I’ll have to get Neil on.
Mike: Yeah, you should try to get Neil on, why not? He’s a super smart guy and definitely does a stellar job with his inbound marketing stuff. I think the other company that comes to mind is a little agency that’s out here, I probably shouldn’t say little because I’m sure they’ve grown beyond little at this point, but they’re called KlientBoost, spelled with a K, K-L-I-E-N-T. They’re really cool. They’re a PPC agency but they do really good job with their inbound and just their general marketing overall. So it’s kind of refreshing to see somebody who’s like supposed to be an expert at PPC also being really good at their own inbound marketing strategy. And I just, I know that guy through school actually. We happened to go to Cal State Fullerton together and we stayed connected. We never actually met on campus, which is crazy how this whole staying connected in an inbound world works. I think they’re doing a pretty great job – Klientboost and Neil Patel – I think both of them are awesome representatives of the inbound methodology.
Kathleen: Great, second question, you’re charged with doing growth marketing for this company. How do you stay educated? What are your favorite sources of information on what’s happening in the world of marketing?
Mike: That is tough for me. I do … okay, so I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts and audio books. One of my favorite podcasts, other than the Inbound Success Podcast, of course.
Kathleen: Exactly, I mean, of course.
Mike: Duh! So there’s the StartUp Podcast and The Pitch that are both by Gimlet Media, so many people listen to those. They’re not like your traditional marketing podcasts necessarily. They’re a little bit more on the entrepreneurial side of things but what’s interesting about those is you actually get to hear kind of what’s going on in the landscape of start ups and what it takes to grow a business. I think that helps if you’re a marketer who’s looking to understand … to try to better understand how your boss is thinking. Or how your organization might be trying to figure about acquiring new business and growing a company. I think it’s really interesting to listen to how all these other companies got their start, or what are their struggles and trials and tribulations they got through. So I listen to StartUp and The Pitch by Gimlet Media.
I also listen to Masters of Scale, it’s hosted by Reid Hoffman, who is the co-founder of LinkedIn. He interviews all kinds of really big names and you can get a lot of really cool insights about what it takes to scale a business. And then as for books, I really enjoyed the Hacking Growth book by my friend Sean Ellis and his co-author Morgan Brown. I actually just did that on audio ’cause commuting to work, it’s a lot easier to just download that information.
Then I would say my last channels that I pay attention to are actually Slack channels, specifically. So I have joined probably 100 different Slack channels so far, but specific to marketing, I’m in a group called Online Geniuses that has probably over 1,000 members. I can’t even remember now. Inbound.org has their own Slack group and then Growmance, is another one.
Kathleen: I’m a member of Growmance, too.
Mike: See, there ya go, we could have met in Growmance. You didn’t have to come find me-
Kathleen: I love the name.
Mike: I know, me too. I love that name. But yeah, I think all those are really cool communities, good places to stay connected with other really smart people. And just try to download and absorb as much from them as you possibly can.
Kathleen: Very cool. Well, last thing I wanted to mention, you actually have another little side hustle that you’re working on, and I wanted to give you a quick chance to talk about that.
Mike: Oh yeah, no, thanks. I appreciate that. So I, being a product guy, somebody who’s been using a lot of mark-tech over the course of my career, I am often asked if I can provide my feedback on tools and tech that other companies are building as it relates to my particular skill sets. And so, what happened is, I was asked over the course of a couple weeks to review, I think like four different products, either a friend or a friend of a friend asked me to go check out. I thought “You know, there’s got to be other people out there that like to do this stuff and maybe I could get them paid for their time.” ‘Cause I do it for free all the time.
And so I started a site called ProductFeedback.io and I’m essentially just building a community of professionals who use a lot of SaaS products to go and help other tech brands who are building new features and new products, try to better understand their target market. And so often what’s happening is you’re going to build a solution and you’re doing it on a hunch. And you have to validate that hunch. And the most difficult thing to do is find people who can actually give you good feedback on whether or not your hunch is correct. And so I help to kind of bridge that gap with high quality one-to-one conversations where the product owner or the feature … the team building the new feature in a product can come and say “Hey, I really need to talk to somebody who has used X, Y, Z tools and solutions and is in this kind of a role, in this kind of an industry or some slice of dice with that, to better understand what about my product is the right fit for them.
So far the traction’s been really nice. We fired it up, gosh, like ten weeks ago or so. Maybe a little bit more than that and I have 73 members or 75 as of today, I think. All of that growth has been completely organic through a lot of Slack channels and just talking to people who are in product management roles. And so as a growth hack, if you’re growing a business and you can go find Slack groups and communities that have your target audience in it, don’t break the Slack rules and in those communities just spam the crud out of your company but go in there and start meaningful conversations, and I’ll bet you be able to find some quality customers or members, in my case.
Kathleen: That’s such a great tip. You’re the first person I’ve had on this podcast who’s suggested that approach of finding Slack groups and I really think there’s a whole goldmine there to be uncovered. And it’s a simple, honestly, I think I found Growmance by Googling “Best Slack Groups for Marketers.” You just have to go on Google and there are lists out there for everything. So definitely check that out, great tip. Thank you so much for all the fantastic insights. If somebody wanted to reach you online, ask a question, check out information about you, what’s the best way for them to find you?
Mike: I am literally Mike D as in David Rizzo on pretty much every social channel. So you can find me on Twitter @MikeDRizzo, Medium the same. LinkedIn is n/mikedrizzo and then I have MikeDRizzo.com. It has a contact form on it, and so if anybody wants to ask questions about the Marketing Operations Playbook or anything that I’ve rambled on about today, I’d be happy to help out.
Kathleen: Fantastic, I love it. Well thank you again, and to our listeners, thank you for following the podcast and for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoyed this episode please give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. And if you know somebody else who’s doing really great inbound marketing work and getting awesome results, please tweet me at @WorkMommyWork and let me know. I’d love to interview them. That’s it for this week.
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