Kenny Soto Logo 2020
Interview with Maddy Martin of Smith.Al – Growing a B2B Company The Right Way – Episode #66

“You should be speaking truth and focusing on honesty in marketing…”Maddy Martin is the VP of Marketing for, which provides 24/7 communication & intake services for businesses, by phone, website chat, text, and Facebook Messenger. She has spent the last decade growing tech startups from New York to California, and has expertise in digital marketing, small business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, SEO & content marketing, social media, co-marketing, and event marketing.

Questions I asked her included:

  • Why do email open rates no longer matter (Hint: iOS 15)?
  • What’s the best way to use branding guidelines?
  • Do leads/prospective customers really read e-books?
  • What is the ultimate goal for any B2B company?
  • What is a “leaky” lead funnel? How do you “plug it”?
  • What role do chatbots play in a business’s SEO strategy?

Full Episode Transcript:


Kenny Soto 0:00  

Hey folks, welcome to another episode of the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto and today’s guest, Maddie Martin of Smith AI. Hi, Maddie, how are you?


Maddy Martin 0:18  

Great, Kenny, how are you?


Kenny Soto 0:20  

I’m doing very well. Before we recorded or started recording, excuse me, I started to talk about the audience being entry-level digital marketers in various industries, both b2b to b2c. And now some of them are also B to B to C, which is very interesting. 


And I always start these episodes by asking my guests the same question just so that the listeners can get more context about who you are as a professional. So my first question for you, Mandy, is what got you into digital marketing?


Maddy Martin 0:51  

That’s a very interesting question. It was a little bit of a circuitous path. I was an econ major in college, I then went to culinary school because I graduated early. And then I moved down to Washington, DC, and worked for nonprofits. 


And, and then ended up recipe testing on the side. And while I was at college, though, I was calling people and asking for money for charitable donations to the college that I went to. And there’s nothing that will cut your teeth like that, let me tell you, so I sort of got my voice. In that respect, I understood what it meant to have a constructive conversation with an outcome clearly identified. 


And working towards that goal, you’re calling someone Yes, sometimes during dinner time. And you’re asking them for money, and parting with that for donation. So other kids can have their tuition at least partially subsidized by fire donation to go to that college. So you have to come up with messaging, and often I would come up with things that were beyond the script, I really hated the scripts that they would give us, it was just robotic. So I started, you know, the creative process. 


And basically, you’re doing sales, you know, you’re pitching something, and you’re getting a realized gain from it. And it’s after typically just one phone call. And I really connected with that. It was immediately, you know, impactful, it felt like I was doing something that was good, but I was also, you know, having a sense of power there. 


So later in my career, you know, when I was looking to actually transition to a role at a food company food 52. And there was an opportunity to leverage sort of my writing and communication skills, which I had built up over time at the nonprofits and in, in my schooling, my analytical skills from being an econ major, and then my create my creative, you know, sort of skills that came from the love cooking and, you know, putting ingredients together in new ways. 


And managing that whole process. Really marketing, it’s funny wasn’t too far of a stretch. And when I came onto food 52 Initially, I was an editor, and then I ended up becoming the head of audience development. So bringing in traffic to the website, building up the email list and keeping it engaged, co-marketing content for our syndication partners, like Yahoo, and Huffington Post and life hacker, pitching them instead of just a donor for you know, Hamilton College, I was pitching the Yahoo Food Editor, the best chocolate brownie recipe to get onto the Yahoo homepage so that we could get visits back at, you know, food 52 on their website that would be converted to meaningful ad traffic. 


Now, things don’t work quite the same way. Now, in terms of how we bring traffic to a website, that is an opportunity that we were able to do content syndication at that time was, you know, something we’re not even like, you know, familiar with now it was so easy, and so a relationship is driven. 


And I think we’ve gotten a little bit away from that. But all of that to say that, what looked like a real hodgepodge background for me ended up putting together a package of skills that has prepared me to now be in a VP of a marketing position, because I had the content and writing communication skills. I had the analytics to go through all my Excel spreadsheets and my sales force reports and, all of that to analyze the work that was being done and then the return on the investment. And then the creative element that helps to distinguish our messaging and helps to keep things fresh and alive for the brands that I’ve worked for.


Kenny Soto 4:50  

And can you give context on what you’re doing now as VP of Marketing at Smith die?


Maddy Martin 4:58  

Yeah, so after So 52, I went to your mechanic, which was a Y Combinator company, and they won TechCrunch Disrupt I was in the marketing leadership role there for several years. And I really had gotten bit by the, you know, VC-backed startup bug at that point versus food to do to them with your mechanic. 


And then I had the fortune of meeting the founders, Aaron and Justin of Smith AI at a point when I was looking to transition to a new role. And I was blown away by the, you know, sort of unmet needs that they had identified for small business owners who really had a dilemma, a struggle, they were getting contacted left and right by new leads and existing clients. And they also had work to get done. 


And there just wasn’t enough time in the day, Spam was on the rise. So they didn’t know if an unknown number on their phone was going to be the best new lead, or if it was going to be some spammer yet again, trying to sell them something they didn’t need. So they really had a problem, which is where I allocate my time during the day, I think I have a good idea of it, but I can’t seem to achieve it or execute that plan. 


And that was a daily basis, it was a reset every morning of committing to yourself, I’m going to do the most important thing, and then the phone starts ringing. So when I started realizing, you know, not only are there noises coming through on the phone, but also on our website. 


If you have chat contact forms, you’re getting emails, you’re getting text messages, you’re getting hit up on Facebook, it really seems like we were at an inflection point where the cost of technology had come down, Aaron and Justin had figured out a phenomenal way to empower receptionists to work from home and serve these businesses remotely. 


And to portion them out in such a way that any small business could get access to this growing team of receptionists that we had. And I just thought wow, like this is really getting at my almost charitable mindset, or how am I helping someone who otherwise wouldn’t have access to this resource, right? 


And the marketing opportunity, because it’s such a feel-good story where everybody wins, you know, we have a viable business model that also is delivering services to those who wouldn’t otherwise have this access to a resource, they’d have to spend a lot more money on a full-time receptionist, often that they don’t have or they would miss if they even did have a receptionist, the after hours and weekend calls that were even at that time, you know, four and a half years ago starting to increase and now we see you know, 25% plus of calls coming in, you know, after normal business hours. And it’s become even more important than it was back then. 


Because those channels are increasing now in WhatsApp and you know, all the Instagram messages and Tik Tok, right, so the channels are not slowing down, the business owners are still just as strapped for time and energy, and money. And we’re in a perfect position, especially during COVID, when a lot of offices shut down and people move their work to their homes. 


They needed a flexible, responsive solution like a Virtual Receptionist service that could at least give them peace of mind that in the face of so much disruption, there was a service that had their back that could provide that friendly, fast response, no matter what was being thrown at them that day. 


And that might just be teaching your kid how to do math problems on your tablet, being the adjunct teacher for that day, or maybe it was, you know, working on a big business deal or working on, you know, client work that they had been paid to do. There just wasn’t enough time for them and the resources weren’t flowing so substantially and steadily and consistently through that they felt alright, I’m going to be able to afford a full-time receptionist or 24/7 receptionist. 


It was really a huge eye-opening moment for me to say, Wow, this is a business I hadn’t considered and look at how well Erin and Justin are running it. And look at the receptionist’s also who are getting access to jobs, who otherwise maybe in a rural area would not have that opportunity to great flexible work at a solid pay rate or in an urban area. You know, it’s very challenging to find work where your employer is committed to you and your success personally because you feel replaceable.


Kenny Soto 9:56  

Yeah, and you brought up a consideration But I think all of us should be thinking about where not only our new channels come up all the time. So there’s like a juggling aspect or analogy there. And ours are expanding because now these channels give us the ubiquitous communication funnels where someone can reach out to you on Saturday because they saw content hopefully, that they engaged with. 


And they were interested enough to drop an email through a CTA, but you also have this new coming about of global markets. And you don’t necessarily need to be targeting clients only in the United States, you can be targeting clients in South America, Europe, Australia, what have you, which also brings the need to have a tool that allows you to scale your communications as much as possible. Would you agree with that?


Maddy Martin 10:51  

Definitely, I think you also have to be very careful to not spread your time and money too thin as a marketer. I know that you know, yes, the world is, you know, open to us, the world is our oyster, but oftentimes that results in noise, and losing sight of those communities that have started to bring, you know, a blossoming of growth, if you then abandon that garden, you know, it’s no one else is going to water it but you if you spread your attention elsewhere. 


So, you know, it’s the sort of thing where you start to see maturity and you determine, can I open up a new market, because, you know, it seems like one area of the business, at least in this respect of marketing. 


As soon as we start to do that, we sometimes lose sight that a lot of these existing channels do need nurturing and maintenance, and the people who might be in a Facebook group, for example, you know, Smith AI see a lot of success in being an advisor to some of our clients, Facebook groups, where it’s like-minded peers looking to improve their productivity, the profitability of their business, etc. If you have a cohort, a group, an environment that is working well, and then you say, look, this is going really well, I’m going to turn my attention to the UK, you know, English speaking, let’s say business dynamics are relative, you know, similar. 


It’s not like you’re going to start doing business in Japan, where you might have some different dynamics to deal with. At the same time, do you have the resources to actually keep an eye on and maintain the channels that are working well, for you, which presents a lot more risk, if they stop working? Well, then the opportunity to expand presents more, you know, revenue, gain, etc. 


So I would say the most important thing, especially right now, when we’ve gone through so much disruption in the last two years, is to make sure that you have steady and consistent growth before trying to branch out that you delegate effectively if it’s you. 


And if you’re in a role, where you feel like there’s you’re biting off too much, and you can’t do it all, then you need to ask for resources to help you maintain that so that you becoming a strategist can go and move into other markets. 


Now, obviously, when it comes to advertising, let’s say you’re running, you know, Facebook, lead gen ads, or LinkedIn, conversational ads, running a test and expanding to new GEOS, or occupations, if you’re in b2b, or household income or interest groups, and, you know, whatever it is, whatever your target audiences are pretty easy to scale. 


At the same time, you know, it takes time to get your messaging, right? And that matters, it takes time to get your landing pages and your you know, funnels and all the follow-ups, you know, tailored to that new audience. And, you know, do you need to change your language around to meet the expectations of that new audience? What else needs to be factored in? 


Are they using different internet providers that are gonna affect accessibility? Who knows what it is? Right? And I would say, make sure right now that you’re diving as deeply and, you know, saturating as much of what’s working as possible, and testing, you know, incrementally a little bit more conservatively. 


Because what we’ve seen in the last two years is that what we thought was really stable wasn’t necessarily like, you know, CPC. Obviously, Google paid you to know, that PPC has gone way up. And in markets that are not even that competitive, just a small search volume just to get that which you thought was is no slam dunk traffic or leads, those aren’t as easy anymore. People have less attention, you need to make sure that your campaigns are meeting those new expectations sets. 


But I would just caution that you’re not spreading yourself too thin and letting anything wallow just in the last place you left it, the engagement. And the connection with brands is more important than ever. And you might actually find the influencers and others who can be outsourced can help you with that, as you think too, personally, as the internal contact expands new channels.


Kenny Soto 15:40  

Here’s another random question that I guess is a direct follow-up to what you were just talking about. It’s not necessarily related to advertising, although not only with Google but also with Facebook and iOS 14, there’s a whole mess of new things that we have to consider. 


But with iOS 15, if I’m not mistaken, there’s going to be ramifications in regards to their anonymous email feature, where open rates are suspected to go up tremendously because of that sandbox kind of environment where any email that a marketer sends to someone who uses Apple primarily will have their email automatically open by that anonymous proxy. What are your thoughts on this new development? And how do you think it’s going to affect email marketing, specifically for b2b marketers?


Maddy Martin 16:30  

Well, I have a pretty short and easy answer, though, I’m not sure it’s popular. I think that open rates are one of the most uninteresting statistics today in marketing, and I hardly ever look at it, because yes, frankly, you can have exceptionally high open rates. 


We did some work last year, where we tested open rates for a totally new audience, an audience that was looking to basically get free content from some of AI and the open rates were outstanding, and we put a lot of resources into it and the outcomes, the actual return, meaning, at least, you know, MQL, is marketing qualified leads at new business revenue, right? Like what actually came out of all of those email sins, and not a whole heck of a lot. 


So I would really caution against looking, you know, so high up that funnel, yes, you can have a lot of games that you’re playing with the subject line with the emojis, with whatever, you know, with different tools you’re using to warm up your domains and make sure that they’re getting through, you know, the open rate is something that we should not really be looking at anyway. 


And I have no concerns about whatever, you know, tinkering is going to happen around that, that we cannot necessarily control. I’ll also say that email is, yes, it’s still an important channel, but it’s not as important as it once was. And being on social channels and being in the conversation that’s already happening. 


I mean, look at the clubhouse, you know, look at tick tock, look at the Facebook groups and all the money that’s being made in those all the MLM, like, you know, those are not really driven by email. All of this is being driven by engagement and messaging and repeat sort of opportunities to engage with brands and those products that are being sold or maybe services. 


So did you get someone into the funnel? Are you following up and scheduling time? And are you getting an engagement that is much more indicative of the lifetime value of that? You know, whether it’s b2b or b2c consumer, that is much more important, did they, you know, click on the email, alright, maybe that’s interesting. 


Did they send an email to your sales or support themselves to say, I read this thing? And I’m interested? Did they take the action that you wanted? Did they sign up for that webinar or download that ebook, or reply to say I am or I’m not interested? That’s really what I’m looking at. I couldn’t really care less at this point. If you know, we know what works on subject lines. You should be doing that anyway. 


And we should have enough data anyway to say like, here’s what’s effective on a subject line. I think we all know that you know, shorter, punchier, with emojis, typically, much more effective sent from a person, not just a brand, necessarily. There are a lot of different things that we’ve learned over the last few years and there are best practices we’ve assembled. Is your message hitting the right audience? Is it clear enough for someone to click and do they take an action then that’s really What we need to be looking at


Kenny Soto 20:02  

Now, tying into branding? And this is also a question I’m asking myself when you’re considering branding guidelines, are these guidelines? Do they need to be made before you start a marketing strategy? Or can they be made in parallel alongside a marketing strategy?


Maddy Martin 20:24  

That’s a very good question. I would say, how urgently do you need clients? Or customers? But in all seriousness, I mean, that is a factor, you know, do you have time to figure that out? Or did you just put, you know, your last dime into this business? If you’re, if it’s your own business? Or, you know, what is the pressure being put on you by the organization you’re a part of? And what control? Do you have over that, you know, if you are in a market or starting out in their career, just a few years, then you probably don’t have a whole heck of a lot of control over the branding. 


You might be more concerned with the platforms where you exist and how are you positioning your brand? And how does that language flow naturally from you to your, you know, customers or your leads, it’s what we’re seeing, especially with the ebooks, and the downloads, and the webinars and all of this sort of like hidden native content, where you aren’t necessarily sure, if you’re being marketed to or if this is just a really relevant article for you. You ended up seeing diminishing visibility of that brand, right? Like it’s more of a watermark, it’s less in your face. 


And there are some things like, you know, what Salesforce has done with the characters they’ve developed that are iconic. But most brands have a bit more flexibility than the biggest brands in the world, which are obviously less mutable. 


I would say, if you’re working for a small to medium brand, you can have a refreshed, later on, it’s not the most important thing, you should be, you know, speaking the truth, you should be, you know, focused on honesty and marketing, and you should be trying to use as few words as possible to get the message across, because people just are not paying that much attention to the actual words that are being used anymore. And it’s more about the visuals is that on brand, are you evoking an image of the potential client of your constituents?


There’s a bit of testing there. And people’s attention spans and memories are very short. So if you need to change things later, because you’ve already started the marketing, then you can do so. And, you know, the industries are very tolerant of marketing updates and branding updates. So they’re not going to hold you to that brand forever. 


And even in new naming conventions, look at you know, clubhouse project management software, they just change their name and brand to shortcut. You know, there’s a little bit of stumbling early on, and then, you know, you just get used to it. So I wouldn’t worry too much about that. 


The question is, you know, why does there need to be a change? Is it leading to a misinterpretation? misunderstanding, missteps with? When do you make that connection with your leads? Or when your clients are engaged with your brand? Do they not want to share things? Is it not feel that it’s of them? Do they not feel that connection, you know, that can be a really great time to use surveys, and to make sure that you’re getting the words right from their mouth. 


But one example that I’ll share with Smith AI, a couple of years ago, you know, we didn’t have any human faces on our website. And, you know, we would struggle because we went to trade shows and events, I would be on a podcast, and somebody would visit the website, and it would say, so you’re just an AI technology that’s answering calls, and I would say, No, no, no, no no, that’s not at all the case. We are life, you know, 24/7 professionals, who are answering calls and chats and texts and Facebook messages. 


And I just remember feeling like, wow, we really have to hit people over the head with it and be a lot more clear. And then you’re in a position where you have to marry what was a very beautiful, clean, coherent brand, with now the introduction of photography, which doesn’t always meld so well. 


So it did lead to a lot of decisions that, you know, we’re still working on, to be honest, and I would just see it as fluid but your marketing goals are going to be there whether you like it or not, so don’t spend more time than you need to that you know is in your weight class. You know, punch up a little But in a, you know, do we need to have a discussion about it from a company leadership standpoint or a marketing standpoint, there are a lot of stakeholders that they come to the table for those discussions. 


So it’s not going to be immediate, you know, solution. And it might even require outsourcing firms so that you can continue focusing on your work, while there is a brand, you know, refreshed or anything like that, I would, I would maintain focus on what’s working with marketing. And if there are obstacles that the brand is presenting, driven by that brand, and some disconnect there. 


That’s when you definitely have to say something to, you know, the leadership that you’re hitting roadblocks that seem preventable, that would unlock a certain amount of growth. And you have to make that case. And that’s where, you know, I would say, being an econ major for me, it’s been really helpful being able to work with that data and present it coherently. If you’re not already familiar with, you know, tools that can help you present that information. I would, I would get familiar.


Kenny Soto 26:05  

Now, I want to ask a question. And this is just for context coming from the perspective of a b2c marketer because that’s the world I live in. So take what I like about the approach of the question with a grain of salt because it probably still works. 


But for me, I still can’t see the use case or the usefulness of using ebooks anymore to capture leads and nurture them through a funnel, do lead still read ebooks? And if they do, what is your strategy for presenting them? Because I know you shouldn’t always just do a plug-and-play? Send the ebook at the top of the funnel. Like there should be best practices around that, too. So what are your thoughts on ebooks? Are they still useful? When do you deploy them? And when don’t they work? Hmm.


Maddy Martin 26:56  

So yeah, I think that there’s not enough testing in general, but ebooks for b2c are very challenging, especially because the attention span that you’ve got, and that sort of, you know, the heavy wordy platform is pretty challenging. 


It might be the case that you have an audience, for example, gamers, and there are a whole bunch of best practices, or it’s more of a lookbook or, you know, how do you set up your you know, gaming station and its product recommendations in you know, form of, you know, format like wire cutter puts out or something right, like, it’s your, it’s your buyer’s guide, it’s your best of it’s your Voyer, sort of like content that might work for b2c really well, I haven’t been in that space in a long time. 


But at the same time, when it comes to b2b, the ebooks, there is intention there, I think to read them. And even if they’re not read, there can be one sheet or one-pager, a calculator tool, things like that, that help to get that lead sort of magnetized to your brand. 


But what also works without any ebook at all, are these lead gen ads, where you’re just asking for time on the calendar, or you’re just sharing a shorter resource or one of those calculator tools? Or maybe an app that allows you to see how the makeup looks on you, you know, I mean, it could be anything, but are you actually reaching the right audience? Do you know? And then how much does it cost to reach that audience was, which as I mentioned, you know, is getting more and more expensive, and it depends on your business that the holiday time is more or less expensive for you. 


But right now, as we are in, you know, the beginning of November, I think on everyone’s minds is, you know, how much attention am I going to get at the end of this year? And then should I be thinking just about January November and December? Is that a wash? Or for b2c? Is that your biggest time of year? That’s basically your Super Bowl? It really depends on when I was at food 52. 


Let’s say that we had these guides, these downloadable resources for putting together the best thanksgiving, you know, many recipe books or ebooks or things like that. It’s very much like a b2c-friendly thing. You could even do that for b2b, maybe you sell, you know, restaurants, equipment, and they need something similar so it’s not necessarily a b2c versus b2b issue. 


I mean, they’re human beings at the end of the day, but are you giving them something that you have a really good sense that they’re going to be interested in? And then are you following up with them? Very, very quickly, because the easiest thing is to get off of their mind if someone downloads an ebook, and they know it’s sent to their email or they look at it briefly. They’re, they’re not necessarily taking action. 


And then it’s on to the next thing, they keep scrolling in their feed, or they get an email for work, and they have to, you know, refocus their attention. The most important thing is to actually follow up immediately, and say, Hi, I saw that you downloaded that resource, you know, what interested you about that? Or can we get, you know, a call on the calendar with our, you know, sales rep, or whatever it is? That responsiveness is always shown to be the most impactful thing more than the resource itself. 


Yes, you have to have something someone wants. But if you don’t follow up extremely quickly, you know, within five minutes, then you are probably losing any recollection that lead will have that they even took an action with your brand.


Kenny Soto 30:49  

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Because as a marketer, myself, there are many times where a lot of Mark tech tools will present, you know, a good CTA, I’ll get hooked, download the resource. And like you mentioned, I’ll probably get a notification from my team, or something else might happen, that distracts me, I only get one paragraph into the ebook, forget about it, delete it, or save it into, like, my education folder in my Mac. And that’s it. And then I never use it again and never open it because there are 17 other ebooks that I opened during the rest of the month.


Maddy Martin 31:27  

Right. And I mean, there’s obviously the infographic maybe you’ll read that maybe it’ll share it. I mean, there could be a sharing sort of opportunity there. But if there is not, let’s say that you had fall makeup styles like an ebook and you know, looks for your holiday parties or whatever, I’m just making it up right. 


Now, it could be like a b2c mini little lookbook, ebook, whatever. I mean, would you do an ebook? Or would you just send them like, you know, the YouTube videos, as ads, the video clips are short little promos and promoting the product, you can try both. It might be a mix, along with a discount too, you know, get that makeup for you in time for the holidays. I think there needs to be a sense of urgency, though, no matter what you do. 


So if you are doing video, it’s easier to have a call to action if you’re, you know, you’ve got the person’s attention. If you have an ebook, it’s really hard to capture that attention if you don’t have an immediate human being following up. And that’s why, you know, one of the things that we’ve been doing at Smith AI is making outbound calling campaigns for our clients even easier because we want that to be something they can basically program in and say look, I’ve got an ebook I’m going to be you know, marketing into this audience we expect this volume of leads to be I don’t know what’s a five a day or 10 a day or something, you know, we want Smith AI to follow up and call every single ebook downloader and, and see if we can get a consultation booked. 


Or if we can get a product kit out to them like a little you know, goodie bag or whatever, whatever you need them to experience, whether it’s a product or service, it could be a consultation, it could be product samples, get it in their hands start to make them feel like they’re going to experience that brand, then you’re really somewhere then you know, they’re going to probably at least look at your emails. If you send them retargeting ads, they’re familiar with that, because you’ve actually brought, you know humanity to it, instead of what we see right now if you’re just blasting messages and you never bring in the human element, you know, you’re a brand that is going to find the environment right now extremely expensive and competitive.


Kenny Soto 33:57  

Now MADI I want to workshop an idea that I’ve been mulling over for I think now four months, I haven’t really been able to vocalize it until now. But I do think it’s directly applicable to any b2b company. And I like to title this idea, the ultimate goal of any b2b company. So I want your opinion on this. 


I’ve been thinking and seeing firsthand that a b2b company really starts to have fast growth or maybe this is just a signal of growth when other companies require that come to that tool to be in a candidate’s resume. So for example, HubSpot, and Salesforce, they’re notable brands, we know they exist, at one point, they weren’t requirements for certain positions, but now they are. So my question to you is, is the ultimate goal of any b2b company need to not only gather leads over time and grow like any other business but more importantly to become a skill?


Maddy Martin 35:10  

That’s very interesting. I think that’d be a bay can mean a lot of different things. It could mean steel for home construction. It could mean you know, obviously software, it could mean you know, Mar tech and what you’re talking about and HubSpot becoming its own certification and things like that. In the best possible world, using, you know, these brands as part of your staff to such a degree that there are consultants, and there is an academy and there are skills based on you know, those platforms, obviously, that is a huge achievement and undeniably beneficial to those companies. 


But then you look at something like we work. And if you are not adding value and working above board and have a sound business model that isn’t as isn’t so fragile, or over-committed, you know, I think that we see a lot of these brands like, you know, a HubSpot and Salesforce, and we see how much they commit to the market. And we think, oh my gosh, like, you know, how is that even possible to realize back that revenue, they have economies of scale at this point where they can indulge in the academies and promote those and productize those things. 


For most, you know, b2b, marketers and companies, you are still much closer face to face with business dealings with the clients themselves with the products and services that are going out. And I would argue that it is much more important if you’re going to get something is done that is adjacent to just more product sales. It’s not actually education, but it is the empowerment of clients to know enough to refer. 


So if they feel like they’re having a great experience, the next step action is not, you know, am I learning everything I possibly could Am I becoming an expert in this, but do I know the bare minimum and feel compelled to make referrals because there is nothing stronger in the b2b space than those referrals. 


And I would argue b2c has those dynamics, too. I think that’s the first step down the line, the certifications, the education, the establishment of that skill set, as a normal thing that we expect marketers to be familiar with, and to know how to use I think it’s a little bit debatable, there will always be consultants who can do that and be brought in, you cannot substitute the referral aspect of that as much as you can substitute the educational skill building an asset of that I can supplement my skills if I need someone to come in and program Salesforce in a different way. 


For me, I cannot supplement my client base, who is not referring as much as I want them to, let’s say, that’s much, much harder and has a deeper root cause that I would say, if you have figured that out, you’re probably on your way to more efficient and high scale growth where you can indulge in conversations, like academies and education and skill building for consultants and the like.


Kenny Soto 38:49  

Now with referrals that tie straight into my next question, which is, what is a leaky lead funnel? And how do you quote unquote, plug it?


Maddy Martin 39:02  

I love this term, and I use that in a lot of my presentations. So a leaky lead funnel is one that is basically you know, bleeding leads unnecessarily imagine a colander strainer, where you’ve got, you know, the pasta sauce instead of the pasta, right? Like, you don’t want to be losing your pasta sauce and it shouldn’t be in a container with holes in it. 


But you didn’t put the pasta in there that could contain the tomato sauce. I mean, that’s a huge problem. And we see that every single day in and out people are losing leads because businesses are losing leads.


But really it comes down to people who are not allocating their time towards stopping the holes and plugging the holes so that when they realize the results of their marketing and their sales efforts, first of all, there is actually a true was no loss, less handoff between marketing and sales, which is massive in terms of impact and growth? And then you say, Okay, what are the smaller holes and the smaller holes and the smaller holes? So you really get to a nonporous sort of material. 


And what I mean is like, if you’re not looking at are the biggest holes are and the most leads are falling through, you know, I would look at what is your responsiveness to calls and texts and emails and website chat, Facebook messages, and social messages, because most of the time, a lead is going to work with you because of your response time. 


As long as you’ve caught their attention, right, so you’ve brought them into the funnel, and then do they find their way out, because no one has followed up? Yes, and often, and we lose a ton of money that way because we don’t think that we need to invest in the follow-up beyond the drip emails beyond the text, automation and you know, ringless, dropped voicemails and all these things that sort of separate and distance us from our leads, technology is only as good as it empowers like the funnel to be more efficient. Technology is not just good for its own sake. 


So you could be dropping voicemails. But if you never actually make a connection with that lead, if they don’t respond well to that, then it’s a useless technology for that application.

So then, let’s say you start responding. And you realize that they’re just some round leads slipping through the square holes, because they’re just really not the right fit like you’re looking for the square, not the round for your client base, cool, you’ve got the wrong shapes, you need to refine what you’re actually putting into the lead funnel. 


Now that you’ve stopped the leaks, and you’re looking for better-fit clients, more lucrative clients, or whatever other parameters you have, then you can start refining what you’re actually putting in there. But until you get to have a conversation or an engagement with the viable leads that are actually in that first funnel, you don’t know if someone is not working with you because you didn’t reach out to them. Or because that leads not the right fit, or because your business hasn’t addressed a key question that I may have. 


So you need to have that conversation or to get the data to then be a better marketer. And if marketing and sales are not working together, you often have a huge gap in the handoff, or in the leak in that funnel. Let’s say that you’re going from the marketing funnel down into the sales funnel, you have a lot of loss if you don’t have an immediate response. 


And that’s the single biggest thing that marketing teams and frankly marketing agencies have realized much more severely imagine if you are not a junior marketer, working at a company, but instead, a marketer who is running an agent who lives and dies by you know, the client base and the monthly recurring revenue from that base. 


They are expensive to acquire clients and you really need that recurring revenue to stick around to maximize that return in that lifetime value. If you send, let’s say you start a campaign, and you’re spending $10,000 a month on marketing, and the client only needs you to know, five leads, they’re a law firm, they make $2,000, you know, per new lead or client, whatever, then you have five times to make your $10,000 back, the law firms not unhappy you optimize from there and you make it profitable. 


Great, simple right? Now, if you don’t have that law firm answering the phone, then you have a problem because their conversion is totally affected by the pool of leads dramatically going down because someone who is looking for a law firm is not waiting around for someone to reach out to them. 


They’re Googling and looking for a solution immediately. And they’re gonna go with the most responsive firm, if you’re the marketing agency, and you are not looking at what’s happening with that response. And this matters for the house and the agency is a great example because the agency can be fired much faster typically than a marketing team would be in-house. Right? So you have this vulnerability that I really encourage in-house marketers to think about to motivate the conversations that happen after marketing initiates sort of an engagement 


What I mean is, if the marketing agency says, we spent $10,000 on this campaign, why is our client not happy? And the client is gonna say, you know, why is it our fault? We’re not available to answer the phone, like, why didn’t you, you know, prepare us better for that or take care of us when we needed to answer the phones were off doing busy, valuable attorney work, legal work, right, which is totally reasonable from both sides. 


And you have a mismatch there where an agency feels like, you know, we did everything in our power, we set up the campaigns properly we have great leads who are coming through those who do connect with the law firm and are converting at a really high rate. And the law firm is saying, like, you know, you started this campaign, how are you not in control of every aspect of it, we’re not able to answer the phone, we have more important things to do. And you have a problem where you cannot be successful, if both parties think that, you know, a piece of it stops and ends with each of them. 


And there’s no connection point. So a lot of agencies now are saying to their clients, you know, we’re not even going to start a marketing campaign. And we’re not even going to increase then until we have a solution in place to ensure responsiveness 24/7 Because we can’t be successful if we don’t have those placements, that website, chat, text answering phone answering, etc. 


And that connection into maybe the CRM to say look, that lead is now in Salesforce or HubSpot, and let’s trigger the marketing automation that we’ve set up. Let’s get that calendar, you know, that console on the calendar, all of those things stem from that engagement, that handoff between the agency and the sales team, if we look at that house, and say marketing is doing all this stuff, they’re sending all these leads, sales is you know, following up or, or just showing up to the consultations or fulfilling the orders that are being brought to them. 


You have a problem because it’s always going to be a game of pointing fingers, as you know, marketing should have set up the, you know, initial response or engagement better to sales. Sales don’t want the noise, the only thing to do is to have that be, you know, a joint agreed upon approach where just like the agency and client, the marketing and sales departments need to work hand in hand to make sure that there is no loss in that transition from a lead coming into a lead getting engaged by a member of the sales team.


Kenny Soto 47:40  

Three more questions. The next question is in regard to chat automation and chatbots. What role do chatbots play in a business’s SEO strategy?


Maddy Martin 47:53  

So that’s an interesting question. I love it. So chat has so much content that we neglect to capitalize on. When someone is typing questions into chat. That’s often like the not provided keywords that you would see typed into Google that Google doesn’t always give us as we all know, very often, we don’t see that information. 


So if you have chat on your website, then you’re able to actually see the question, the originating question that probably brought them there to your website. So let’s use a lot of examples again like you know, do you handle divorces? Or are you available for a divorce on I’m in, let’s say, San Jose, California, that person probably searched divorce attorneys, San Jose, California, you have a pretty good idea of like, you know if that’s a good audience match for you, is that a good lead? 


So then they start asking you questions like, well, how much is it going to cost? And what happens if I’m not living in the home anymore? Or? Yes, we have children and three houses together. And what is that going to mean? You know, these are all questions that you shouldn’t be then thinking, wow, I need to address these proactively as pages or blog posts on my website as videos on YouTube. Like there is an incredible opportunity here to take all the chat transcripts in mind for topics that are you know, ranked by importance, and then don’t produce content around that.


Kenny Soto 49:33  

What skills can be hard or soft skills? Have you leveraged this throughout your entire career?


Maddy Martin 49:41  

Oh, wow. I will go back after the Econ degree that I got. I think that being able to analyze and understand the core reason for data analysis when you’re in a marketing function, like how am I showing that I am a good steward of the company’s dollars, how am I producing growth? 


Where am I losing an opportunity, you know, to drive return on investment, if I didn’t have the skills that I had with Excel with, you know, data manipulation tools, understanding, you know, calculus, I want to use the tools that are in front of me that might be automated, like, you know, Salesforce or a Data Studio or a Supermetrics, or KISSmetrics, or H refs, right for SEO, there are so many tools that if you don’t understand the dynamics between keyword difficulty and traffic volume, and CPC, and sort of the relevance for your business, and how much time it takes, what’s the lag to produce results from, you know, an SEO effort, for example, then those factors in the equation will never sort of coalescing. 


And you’ll constantly be needing to ask, you know, others, maybe a data scientist, if you have the luxury of a data scientist, or we’re looking online for help and guidance, and not as self-sufficient. And the fact is, the self-sufficient analytical marketers are the ones who are more often getting promoted and in leadership roles because we need to be able to evaluate at the end of the day, not just our own work, but the impact it has, and the combined work of the rest of the team. 


And put those into a strategic framework for, you know, consistent building growth for the company. So the most important skill that any marketer can have is, you know, an analytical ability, and then also creative, you know, excellent communication skills, because if you are not reading a lot, and if you’re not absorbing sort of the tone, and sort of cultural, like nuances that come through in written communication, or verbal communication, all of those things really inform like, are you in sync with your customer or client base? 


Are you using the words that they’re expecting you to use? Are you in tune with them? And I would encourage you to read not just, you know, for work, but also for fun because it builds your vocabulary and builds your familiarity with, you know, what are the market dynamics today? And what is on people’s minds, what are the trends, culturally, economically, you know, whether it’s b2b or b2c, you really want to be in touch with what’s going on, there’s nothing more important than then making sure your message is of its time. 


So if you have analytics, and if you have great communication skills, you can write well, video is definitely a skill that that will, you know, set you up another notch, I would encourage that you do so and then when you know, have any tool presented to you that’s martech, or something new to learn, or you’re switching from Moz to Ahrefs. Like you have a fundamental understanding. So you ask the questions that get you the answers that build your skill in that new thing much faster. And it’s not about learning things in silos, it’s about having a really strong foundation of analytics and creativity and communication that allows you to learn any tool under the sun because you have a really strong foundation.


Kenny Soto 53:49  

Final question. And this one is hypothetical if you had access to a time machine, and you can go back 10 years into the past, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you accelerate the speed of your career?


Maddy Martin 54:05  

Hmm, that’s interesting. I don’t know if I, if I like you know, the idea of the butterfly factor, you know, accelerating anything because I feel like the tempo has been, you know, something I’m really happy with in my career, but I would, I would worry less about perfecting things and I would move faster with the notion that it’s going to work and then it needs to be at present there to launch it and take more of an engineers mindset of the minimum viable product, rather than being agonizing about you know, did I cross every T and dot every I as I was earlier in my career, and even when I was writing for food 52 Maybe that was about 10 years ago. 


I would really worry about You know, each sentence I wrote and it had to be, you know, perfect. And yeah, at least in my mind, like weave a story in every single blog post, and I probably spent too much time doing that. And I probably could have had a greater impact not only on the company but also on my own skills and career if I had just moved a little bit faster and said, You know what, it’s good enough. I’m shipping it instead of agonizing about you know, it being even better or closer to perfect.


Kenny Soto 55:32  

Amazing. Thank you for that answer, Maddie. And for all of the answers you’ve given today, if anyone wanted to say hello to you online, where can they find you?


Maddy Martin 55:40  

They can find me on LinkedIn. So natty Maren Madeline mark, and you’ll find me under Smith AI as the VP of Marketing there. And then you can also find me on Twitter, Madeline Martin, or by email Maddie, and add [email protected]


Kenny Soto 55:58  

You’ve heard it here, folks. Thank you, Maddie, for your time today. And thank you to you the listener for listening to another episode of the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto. And as always, I hope you have a great week. 



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