Martech Fireside Chat

Martech Fireside Chat: Taylor Ryan, Valuer.ai

American marketer and startup junkie Taylor Ryan stops by to share tough truths and actionable tips on growth hacking, marketing amplification, analytics trends, and much more.

Diana Daia
May 07 · 8 min read

Our Head of Content Diana sat down with Taylor Ryan, CMO at Valuer.ai, to hear his thoughts on marketing growth, analytics hacks and what the future of martech holds. Here's what we found out!

What are 3 growth tactics that you find meaningful when it comes to driving a successful marketing strategy?

1. Frictionless forms

There are plenty of great tools out there that allow for data enrichment in real-time. If you give people longer forms to fill out, you run the risk of losing them just before converting. Here are two staggering statistics:

  • Reducing the number of form fields to 10 or under increases conversions by 120%
  • Reducing the number of form fields to 4 or under increases conversions 160%

Using data enrichment just based on a visitor’s email address, we’re able to pull information on the company, their full name, and in some cases even the phone number. We saw a drastic 1000% increase in conversions after we moved the conversion form and added the frictionless feature to the form. I talk at length and link to some of the documentation to set this up when I was a guest on Earnworthy podcast.

2. Internships + a shitload of training

I often write about this at length. It’s tough finding people with the skills needed to step right into a marketing team. Honestly, most of the stuff I see taught in school is so far off from what we do at Valuer.ai that students with Master degrees in Marketing don’t actually possess the skills necessary to do anything besides researching topics to build lists for content.

It takes a village. Any given content piece that comes out can have as many as 5 people working on it at any given point. Marketing has evolved to a point that you need more than a theoretical understanding to get anything worth scaling done. I teach a new growth hack, lesson on marketing, or technique to boost engagement every week on Wednesday or Thursdays. These learning lessons help people stay ahead of the curve. It makes people re-examine what they thought they knew and SHOCKER; they get better.

I constantly want to evolve as well which means I’ve got to continue to bring new concepts and projects that challenge the standard way we’ve been doing things around here. Furthermore, each intern gets their own projects. They need a chance to mix things up, make mistakes, figure things out, and ultimately take ownership of what they’re working on.

Stop using the same old techniques that were total shit 5 years ago and expecting them to work well today. Marketers get comfortable and fall into narrow fields.

3. Amplification

I’ll never understand why people spend countless hours producing high-end content only to post in one place and hope the world will discover it on their own. Every piece of content we produce, we amplify it to the dozens of online communities that are closest to the subject matter: Social Media - Facebook, Linkedin; Forums - Quora, Reddit

Then we focus on direct outreach to people that create content that is very similar. The concept is pretty straight forward, if you wrote at length about a subject you’re more likely to engage or even link to an article that covers your topic from a slightly different angle.

Using some really simple automation, virtual assistants, and some hardcore amplification hungry interns; you’re able to knock out some really powerful outreach. The results speak for themselves.

Every original article we put out on our blog goes through this process and that’s why most of our content gets triple digit engagement. Nobody does it because it’s hard and it takes time.

Which 3 marketing and SEO 'hacks' would you like to share with our community?

1. Foundational back-link building

It’s a million times easier to rank for keywords and drive traffic once you’ve built up enough authority. I never received any guest blogger inquiries when we first got started here because we ranks in the single digits a year ago. Now I get five or more every day.

Most of them aren’t creative and the work is even worse, but it’s nice to know that your site carries weight. We focused heavily on listings, directories, and other low hanging fruit to register our site so that we could start growing.

The other steps to backlink building is give away a lot of great content. Every article we produce takes hours of work and editing in the hopes that we can get 2-3 backlinks from the high authority site it lives on. That’s why you see the crazy hockey stick growth of our backlink profile (which is also one of the biggest indicators of growth).

2. Guest posting like there’s no tomorrow

We write a ton of content that ends up all over the web. We target niche industries, small + large publishers, and everything in between. We incorporate a lot of the guest post outreach in our amplification, so it kills two birds with one stone. There are tons of great growth hacking guides online for this type of thing. It takes time and energy but the outcome is that these drive referring traffic for mostly relevant visitors and continue to boost my domain rating.

3. Wrap it in tin-foil and call it low fat

We re-release content ALL-THE-TIME. Our top preforming post, 50 examples of corporations that failed to innovate consistently out-ranks any other page on the site. We push it live once every 3 - 4 months.

We update old posts and make them new again and re-release it like it’s first time we put it out there. The best stuff constantly continues to get great engagement. Nobody messages and says, “uhhh excuse me, I saw this three months ago. I want my attention back.”

We continue to grab keywords by adding more content to old posts and re-releasing it, it also boosts the SoMe engagement all around.

We often insert keywords and elaborate on keywords that we lost only to see it ranking a few days later. It’s a great way to plug holes and increase opportunities to rank.

What are the high-level lessons that you’ve learned about scaling marketing?

1. Every marketing department needs to act like their own agency

I operate my marketing department like a marketing agency with one client. We do everything in-house with the exception of outsourcing manual/mindless tasks to virtual assistants for next to nothing.

I think one of the greatest things I experience here at Valuer.ai is the autonomy of letting marketing do the marketing. I’ve been in other companies where everyone has to stop what they’re doing to take orders from a micro-managing CEO with no experience in the field or a head of sales demanding something they don’t need.

Of course there are one off projects that pop up, but we’ve delivered results on a shoe-string budget that most companies couldn’t do in 3 years. It’s practical. There’s trust based on solid results. Every once in a while we take risks and sometimes they pay off, like when we created the post: 30 Entrepreneurs Who Started Out As Drug Dealers

2. Self Management + Passing on the skills

We’ve found that it’s not possible to operate effectively without challenging people to manage themselves. I have four different managers that only have so much time to execute on a dozen projects at once. Once they understand how a process works or how to implement a tool, they optimize it, then put it in writing as a guide, then teach it to intern and offload the future projects to others.

This allows them to continue to build competencies and also give interns a chance to teach each other.

If you’re not learning, you’re not living. Take chances, make mistakes, try stuff out.

Could you name one trap marketers are currently facing?

Stop using the same old techniques that were total shit 5 years ago and expecting them to work well today. Marketers get comfortable and fall into narrow fields. Many of us, especially those that get to a higher level try to do as little as possible to challenge themselves and focus on “strategy” or “branding.”

In order to to stay relevant, you need to get your hands dirty. All channels are evolving so fast that you get rusty and lose your edge if you stop running campaigns. Theoretical understanding is worthless. Put in the time to fully understand a platform and maintain your expertise by using it regularly.

Also, it should be part of the fun of marketing. If you’re not learning, you’re not living. Take chances, make mistakes, try stuff out.

What are the 3 metrics you can’t live without in your work?

Conversion Rate: Daily / Monthly Conversions

Unique Visitors: Daily / Monthly Traffic

Impressions / Reach + Engagement: SoMe engagement across different platforms

What advice would you give to fellow marketers to drive more impact?

Get inspired

Find examples of what others have done and then make something better. You should constantly be on the look-out to be inspired by something new. Pick parts of someone’s tech stack or use their approach to content as something to try next.

There is so much great content out there. What’s better is there are so many places to go that give you a step by step breakdown on how to do anything. You can learn how to do anything if you put in the time.

I give away all my secrets these days because 99% people don’t end up using them either way. Despite having every intention of trying out one of my growth hacks or techniques, most people get default back to the way they’ve been doing things. Because getting something new off the ground is hard and people are lazy.

My team fluctuates in size from twelve to thirty depending on the time of year. You wouldn’t be able to keep up with our output much less surpass us if you tried.

We often try to push meaningless metrics to show “growth.” Traffic is great but if it’s converting at zero percent, it’s not the RIGHT traffic.

What are the tough truths that we don't talk a lot about in the analytics & martech ecosystem?

A lot of metrics don’t actually point to anything in the way of real traction, they’re called “vanity metrics.” We often try to push meaningless metrics to show “growth.” Traffic is great but if it’s converting at zero percent, it’s not the RIGHT traffic.

More followers on social media is cute. But if there is no engagement and none of the people following you becomes a customer, what’s it all that for?

On the other side of the coin, I think there’s a lot of misinformed marketers that don’t look at attribution models. Although tracking is tough, we’re often not able to see a full picture of how people initially engaged with us and perhaps they later found us again.

Lastly, there is so much in product marketing that many marketers don’t want to touch. If you’re onboarding someone, you should engage them differently in your outreach to pull them back in based on their previous actions. It’s basic stuff when you think about it, but a lot of people are missing it.

Prioritization

Prioritize the stuff that has the highest chances of reaching your target audience and converting more. There are plenty of projects that just seem like, “fun.” If then you need to prioritize, pick stuff that takes the least amount of energy and has the highest chances for measurably high results.

We spend an exorbitant amount of time producing content and that’s how we’re able to see nearly 79% of all of our traffic come in from organic. That’s hard to do. But that’s how great content works.

There’s a lot of misinformed marketers that don’t look at attribution models. Although tracking is tough, we’re often not able to see a full picture of how people initially engaged with us and perhaps they later found us again.

If you were to predict 2020’s biggest analytics trend, what would that be?

Better Targeting Tech in Marketing

Better targeting on campaigns using better user behavior data seems to be popular in a lot of circles. I think Linkedin will eventually have to open up part of its api to give people a chance to develop smarter tools to boosting engagement and retargeting.

Big Data / Machine learning

I think there are a ton of really cool tools with integrations that will make things easier for marketers to attribute the same user to multiple devices. This type of thing is already out, but I think it will become more widely used as more marketers get technical.

If there’s an out of the box solution that also attaches more data to individual users across different devices and SoMe platforms, there’s an opportunity for a machine learning based approach to draw conclusions on user segments. From that, I think ideal customer profiles and machine learning could produce some really interesting opportunities in that space.

Video

Of course video isn’t going away and I think a lot of people will try to create more opportunities inside videos and getting better at producing better videos using automation like lumen5 or inVideo is going to make things interesting.

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