Digital Marketing Hacks
This episode of Essential B2B is with Travis Tyler, Senior Digital Content Creator for PandaDoc. Travis offers up loads of expert knowledge and tips and tricks for boosting your content for 2023! He also brings in HUGE energy right from the very start of the podcast, which makes for a really enjoyable listen!
Joe: Hello and welcome to the Essential B2B Podcast. I’m your host Joe Ducarreaux. This episode is the audio taken from our webinar Digital Marketing Hacks for 2023. For this webinar I was joined by Travis Tyler, Senior Digital Content Producer at PandaDoc. Travis was a great guest on the webinar and he came in with big energy. He’s a very entertaining listen and he knows a thing or two about digital marketing.
So without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the Essential B2B Podcast.
Joe: Hi Travis, how are you doing?
Travis: What’s up Joe? Good to be here, my man. I’ve got to bring the high energy.
Joe: Big energy straight out of the gate and I’m sure that’s definitely a caffeinated beverage you’re sipping on there? Absolutely. So, Travis, you’re very active on social media. We’re big fans here of the stuff that you produce. What are your top tips for producing content that really cuts through the noise?
Travis: I think one of the biggest tips I have is to look outside of business. If you are a business and you want to engage and entertain people, I think you need to step outside of the business world and get some inspiration from other sources. So for me, I try to blend together a few different areas. I watch a lot of sports shows. Sports broadcasters notoriously, big personalities, silly, they’ve been doing it for decades and they know what they’re doing when it comes to creating engaging content. Over here in the States, I enjoy NPR. Specifically, I really like Fresh Air, which is an interview series by Terry Gross and she is an inspiration for me on how I interview my guests, how I ask my questions, and how I prepare for my show.
Then a few other sources that I get inspiration from in how to engage audiences and create content is an educational podcast I absolutely love and recommend for everyone. It’s called Freakonomics with Stephen Dubner and a comedy podcast, and I will give a warning here. It is very dirty, it is very raunchy and it is very inappropriate and I know my European friends will love it. Americans who are a little more prude will probably be like, oh, my God, it’s a comedy podcast called Your Mom’s House with Tom Segura and Christina P.
I try to blend these sources together. So that’s my tip for folks: try to find inspiration in an adjacent area to business that is not necessarily right in your wheelhouse and you might find a little more spark in your creativity.
Joe: I suppose if people are seeing the same sorts of things over and over again, like graphs and bits and pieces, here’s how we did this with X number of things. Getting inspiration from elsewhere and then just bringing that to the forefront of your audience, that’s the key is it? Taking it from, as you say, almost an outside of business perspective and go, right, we’ll just bring this over and reframe it.
Joe: Fantastic. Are there any hacks for influencer marketing within that at all, then?
Travis: I think there are definitely places you can draw inspiration from. I will give a shout out to my friends who have created an amazing community to be a part of called Social Social. It’s run by Will Aitken, Jen Allen and Nick Capozzi and they recently were doing a live stream, I think, last week or the week before. They were showing Mr. Beast over on YouTube. The guy knows what he’s doing. Love him, hate him. He’s a millionaire, he knows how to create content. Looking at influencers and how they create marketing.
But one thing that we’re doing that I’m really excited to share with you, Joe, is I have turned inward. We have 850 employees at PandaDoc and I have a lot of talented people at my company. We’re trying to create internal volunteer influencers so that it’s not just always my face on every single video coming out of PandaDoc. So this year specifically, I’ve come up with a strategy. It’s on a document, so it’s official, Joe. Where I have monthly requests I put in from four or five different employees here at my company and I outline a recommendation, I show a script, I have links to the vertical video, whether it’s an Instagram reel or a TikTok, and say, hey, we want to recreate this, can you record yourself and here’s how you’re going to record yourself, just send it to me, record it on your phone, upload it to Google Drive and then I’ll take care of the rest. So that’s how I’m tapping into influencer marketing in an internal way.
My tip here is don’t just pick anybody at your company. I found people who were already creating vertical videos on their own for fun. I was like, oh, can you work with me? Do you want to work with me? They were like, yes, of course. So there’s not that much coaching involved. I don’t have to teach people a whole lot of how to record themselves, they get it. They watch TikToks, they’re on the platforms, they understand it and that is my tip.
Joe: And I suppose it’s incredible how quickly then those regular faces, if they keep coming up and coming up within your company, very quickly people will recognise that person from that company and associate it with your brand. We had James Gayle on a little while ago, who runs Shogun Social and he introduced the idea of creating a parasocial bond. Which is effectively, it is exactly that, it is recognition of a brand through someone’s face. That sounds like it is almost user‑generated content but from your company, that’s a real smart idea, Travis. I like that one.
Travis: Well, again, it’s a smart idea. I think so and I’m glad you do, too. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a new role for me, taking a step back from being just a pure creator, which I’ve been doing for the last two years here at PandaDoc. Stepping into more of an influencer management role where I’m directing people and nobody’s reporting into me. So let me not get my ego too big. These are just people who are kind enough to volunteer and say, Travis, I’ll record this for you, no problem. We’ll see how it goes. We’re going to try to run it. But you’re tapping into exactly what we’re trying to do over here, which is creating a parasocial relationship through our social networks and a recognizable face to brand connection.
Joe: Fantastic. So you did mention there that you’ve got this strategy of, okay, so here’s the script. This is what I want from you. Are there any other hacks with content planning that you can share with us? Do you literally plan out every single post or do you leave a bit of flexibility should anything come up? How does that look in your company?
Travis: You’d think at a company of our size, we’d have it super ironed out and like programmatic. Our podcast has become that way due to necessity because it is such a large lift for us and we’re spending a lot of money on it and we’re putting a lot of weight into that. I have come up with a very rigid system where I’m mapping out episodes quarters in advance, lining up guests, pre interviews and then interviews. Working in Monday.com is our program or project management tool and coordinating those efforts with the different agencies that help us with editing, that help us with recording.
When it comes to our vertical video content, we’re not quite there yet. I will say that we do try to leave some room for improvisation and spur of the moment ad hoc creativity. One of my favourite creators on TikTok, who I’ve copied some of his videos and brought them over to PandaDoc and make sense in the business world. He talked about when he tries to schedule out creative time, he doesn’t create anything and that happens to me too, Joe. That happened to me too Joe, it’s the nature of the beast. If you want to create really nuanced content, sometimes blocking out the time to do it, it just doesn’t come to you.
So I recommend folks do what you alluded to in the beginning, which is try to hammer out your processes but leave some room for flexibility and some creativity. There is no, you must create X number of vertical videos this month, Travis. It’s, what do you recommend we try to do this month, Travis? And I say, well, let me try to get at least one vertical video from five different people at my company and I’ll see what I can create in addition to that. That helps us have some magical moments where I’m inspired and the next thing I know I’m in a flowstate and I’m just four hours of costumes and different angles and getting silly and creating what will hopefully be an engaging video for folks.
Joe: You mentioned costumes and I am surprised you aren’t dressed as a panda because you seem to be in quite a lot of your videos. My next question is quite a big one, Travis. I’m intrigued with your answer for this one. How do you get a return on investment from your digital content?
Travis: I will tell you that it’s tough. And it’s not going to be easy for anybody. But the way that I do it is a combination of qualitative and quantitative recognition.
I’ll start with the qualitative piece. I screenshot every DM I get on social that compliments my work or our work and I save that in a folder. Then I whip that bad boy out quarterly and share that with my boss to share with the team at large. Because sometimes the numbers don’t cover at all the impact we’re having.
Our CRO loves to see numbers ticking upwards in terms of engagement metrics and ensuring that we’re seeing more website visitors or conversions coming in from social last attribution touch. But in addition, what can be more compelling and create that warm fuzzy feeling is seeing the screenshot that I share in a Slack channel that shows somebody that’s like, loved the work you’re doing, that post was hilarious, big fan of PandaDoc, we actually just signed up for a free trial. That goes, that’s huge for us.
Right now, I will be honest with you, Joe, we have not a great, not as good of a view into our attribution as we would like. I think this is something that, where we’re a unicorn company and this is still an area that we struggle. We don’t have a great tool that shows us one to one or one to two or two to one or whatever your ROI or your ROAS is on an organic social post.
I posted on LinkedIn, mockingly recently, where I said, what is a new social follower worth to the company? I did it in the Reddit style, lowercase, uppercase, lowercase, uppercase. I basically said, if you have to ask then you don’t understand how people shop anymore. They trust people. They buy from people and it happens on the dark social. Unless you have a form field on your website where you’re collecting demos or free trials or whatever, if you’re a service or a product-based company that says, where did you hear about us? Or what made you sign up today? And people are filling that in and then you’re using that data. Unless you have that set up, your ROI is just going to be like a guess. We’re going, oh, well, you know, engagement metrics, social follower count, share of voice, through a PR tool or a Sprout Social kind of tool, those types of things.
So a long-winded answer to basically say it’s tough, man. It’s hard out here for us creators to show our return on investment.
Joe: Yeah, I do understand where you’re coming from on that one, Travis, to be completely honest with you. Just on the social selling side of things then, how important would you say community is to selling socially?
Travis: I think it’s important as health and I think where I want to talk about this is; Community, to me, from a business standpoint, can mean so many different things. Are we talking about a community of existing customers? Are we talking about a community of prospects? Both. You know, for PandaDoc, we do, I think, a really freaking good job in terms of supporting, enabling, educating our existing customers. There’s always room for improvement, but I would say we do a pretty damn good job of feeding that community.
Where we don’t do an awesome job and we’re trying to get better at and trying to figure out and looking at other folks, is in terms of our prospects. People who aren’t PandaDoc customers, who don’t know about us. I’m of the mindset, dude, I don’t want to be a part of any more communities. I don’t! I have two Slack channels or Slack communities that I’m a part of. The PandaDoc one for my work and Social Social, the one I called out earlier. I don’t want to be a part of any other communities. I don’t. I have so many subscriptions that I pay for.
I realised I was part of Dave Gerhart’s Exit Five community and I got charged for it. I was like s*** I forgot about that one. I was like I’m good and I believe that. I say that in jest but I try to get that point across to my team who wants to build a PandaDoc community. We constantly have internal debates about should we join an existing community? Should we sponsor an existing community that already has a great following, that has legions of fanatics that are fueling it? Do we really need to reinvent the wheel? Do people really want another community to be a part of? So I would say my recommendation and tip here is, if you have a group of existing customers, that’s your community. That is where you should invest in community, create content for them, make them laugh, entertain them, educate them, communicate with them, make them feel special and welcomed. I think that’s a much easier, and going back to your question of return on investment, I think that is a better use of your time, energy and resources.
Joe: We touched on webinars and podcasts, and here we are on a webinar. What are some emerging trends in digital marketing that businesses should be aware of?
The reason I bring up webinars and podcasts is that they’ve been around for a long time, but in recent years, they’ve seen a real growth in people using them. What are emerging trends that businesses need to be aware of? And do you have any tips about podcasts and webinar creation?
Travis: I’ll start with the first question of trends, evangelism. So what does that even mean? I started to see a couple of people I’ve been following on social media with their new titles like Lead Evangelist or Chief Evangelist. I’m like, the hell is that?
It’s going back to what we talked about earlier, Joe, which is, you recognize a face and you connect it to a brand. I think that is going to be continuing to be a much larger trend where you’re reaching out to that evangelist and you’re becoming like an inbound engine for your organisation.
I got hit up today, literally an hour before we started to sit down to do this webinar together, Joe. And I shared it on Slack saying, look, here’s another one that’s come in. It’s not to be braggadocious, but it is to show that like the effort I’m putting into posting and connecting and creating these parasocial relationships is having an impact on the business that doesn’t always get seen by our attribution tools. I would say my prediction is this is going to impact the B2B space so much more this year. You’re going to see plenty more people becoming evangelists for their companies and you’re going to start to know a person in front of the brand. It’s not always going to be your CEO or your Founder. It’s going to be somebody like me, a goofball that dresses up in a panda costume and twerks on camera. So that would be my prediction is a trend, an emerging trend is this evangelist role.
Tips for recording webinars and doing podcasts. I got this tip when I was first deciding that we wanted to create a podcast, an ongoing audio, video, multimedia series here at Pandadoc, which is the world does not need another sales podcast or insert marketing podcast. I think that when you sit down to create a new form of content or an ongoing series or limited series, whatever it is that you’re going to put all your time and energy into, can we not just do what everybody else is doing? Let’s bring something different, even if it’s a slight differentiation. That’s why when we created the Customer Engagement Lab podcast. We were like, we’re going to blend comedy and education. Yeah, there were a few people already doing this, but they weren’t doing it in quite the way that we were.
So that would be my tip, try to find some sort of differentiation where you can confidently say to yourself and your team, there is nowhere else anyone can go for this specific type of content. We are the ones that can do that in a way that nobody else is quite doing that.
Joe: I think you’re absolutely right. If you’re creating a new podcast, it needs to have a fresh format, doesn’t it? It can’t just be, oh, we take a sideways look at the week’s news. It is ubiquitous, there’s so many of us, you absolutely have to nail down a new format and a new way of doing things. I think you’re absolutely right there. So then, how often should you review or tweak your content, even, to find out what’s working?
Travis: I would say our format for how we review and tweak content is, when you’re first starting out, my biggest recommendation is to do a pilot. Just like network television runs a pilot episode of their show, do this internally and it’s a great opportunity to get feedback in a proof of concept format. So rather than some pie in the sky script that someone’s reviewing, some founder or C-level is like, the hell is this? You want to create a podcast and these are the questions you’re going to ask? No, no, no. We actually recorded a pilot episode and we want to show it to you. I know you don’t have a lot of time, can you just watch 15 minutes of this 30 minute thing? I know, it’s never going to see the light of day, but we went bold and we wanted to try something different. This is your opportunity to say, I like this, do more of this, I didn’t like this, here’s why. That’s when you’re first starting out and then that way you can make those tweaks and those adjustments.
When should you review your content? We do like an annual outward feedback period pretty much every year with our video content, our podcast and our social media content. We send out a survey both internally and it’s voluntary. So it’s just like, hey, have you liked what you’ve seen? As an employee of PandaDoc, do you like the content we’re covering? Would you like to see different topics? Here’s some suggestions and recommendations. I actually got that, I think it was Spotify sent me a survey, I want to say this year. Hey, as a Spotify premium user or podcaster or whatever it was, we’d love your feedback. Can you give us 10 minutes? They were like, we have this idea of a concept of something we want to bring to market, as a Spotify user give us some feedback.
I took the style of questions and copy and pasted them into a document and then I put it into, not SurveyMonkey, but one of those tools and then sent it out both internally first and then externally to our customers and any of our prospects that we’re on our subscriber lists of email. I think I got a couple hundred responses, which was good. Then used that feedback, shared it with the team and then used it to kind of make some tweaks.
An example, Joe, if you’re like, okay, cool, what kind of tweaks have you made? It started out where our podcast was me and my co host, another PandaDoc employee and we would occasionally………, our format was basically 10 or 15 minutes of him and I, joking around, covering a topic, doing a segment together and then we’d bring in a guest for about 15, 20 minutes. So it was kind of broken up into those two halves.
Then, unfortunately, my co-host, he quit PandaDoc, he went to go and work in another company. So I took ownership of the show and I asked for some feedback and wanted to make some tweaks to the show. I wasn’t sure who I was going to replace him with. I ended up never replacing him. I just kind of have a recurring, like, rolling door of guests coming in. But one of the pieces of feedback that I loved was somebody was like, I would love it if Travis could do a round table with multiple guests and multiple voices. That’s now become a staple of our show where every three or four episodes, I do a round table with me plus three guests. I play host and then you get to hear a bunch of different voices and opinions and that has become some of our most popular episodes. So that tweak came directly from audience feedback.
Then the last question about how often should you review? I do a quarterly review for metrics and engagement. We look at a couple of different areas, mainly three areas, audience growth, social followers, impressions, engagement, email subscribers, podcast streams. Second one, is brand growth, share of voice, share of search, new and unique website visitors.
Then the third area that we review and do analysis on is on conversions, visit to inquiry, conversion rate and then core trials. Again, this pertains specifically to PandaDoc because we’re a SaaS tool, we have a free trial option. We report on those quarterly. It’s part of like a slide deck of all hands marketing and then that reports back up into the executive team, etc, etc.
Joe: There’s a very actionable tip you’ve given there in terms of sending out the surveys, both internally and externally, that’s fantastic. So I’m going to reference the AIDA model. And for those of you who aren’t aware, that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. Is this something you keep in mind when creating your content?
Travis: Absolutely, we use a similar framework. It’s a little bit different. It doesn’t have as cool of an acronym, but basically our four kinds of funnel, I forget what you would call that, I guess, stages, would be Discover, Learn, Try, Buy.
Again, that is because of our product, it’s a little bit different. Most of the work I do is going to fall into Discover and Learn. I’m not necessarily a PandaDoc product expert. I know it pretty well but there are definitely people that know it way better than me, and I tend to tap those people to work with me occasionally to create more of the Desire and Action or Try Buy stages of our funnel.
My creative process, like we talked about earlier, Joe, would be a little bit too constrained. If I started with that framework every single time and then worked outward. Like I said earlier, I do leave some room for flexibility spur of the moment creativity. I try to figure out which of the buckets it falls into, and then we’ll categorise it that way.
I’ve only recently, after two and a half years of creating content consistently, become much better. You will find if you are in marketing, creators are not always the most organised people. Sometimes creativity and being bombastic and big personality, it doesn’t always go hand in hand with being super forward thinking, great planning, super structured, type A kind of people. So I try to do my best and that’s where we’ve had to hire some other people on our team to keep me in line and keep me on track and help me stay organised and a bit more mature about how we go about organising and planning out our content.
Joe: Travis, I have one final question for you. If you could give everybody watching this one final top tip, an actionable hack to take away today, what was the one key thing you want everyone to go away and do following this conversation?
Travis: Can I give one piece of advice and then one actionable tip? Is that allowed?
Joe: On this occasion, I will allow that. That’s fine.
Travis: Alright. So my piece of advice is life is too short to either market or sell a crappy B2B SaaS product that you don’t use or really believe in very much. I learned that the hard way. I have worked for companies where I just didn’t believe in the product and it was just because it wasn’t a great product. So life is too short. If you’re lacking in motivation because you’re like, I don’t even use this thing, or like, I don’t know how it benefits my company or benefits me.
One of the other questions that I prepared for, but you didn’t ask and I’m going to answer it anyway, is what does success look like? And for me, success is having fun at my job. This is what I love doing. I love meeting with people like you and creating relationships and friendships, Joe and following your career journey. So that’s the first part.
Second part is, if I can make an impact on my company’s bottom line, that’s awesome. I really want to help. I know the goal of a business is to make money. I get it. I’m not disillusioned. I want to try to help. Then if I can help the people in my network, in this stage and journey of my career, I work at a digital document e-signature company. They need a digital document tool. Awesome. I think PandaDoc is a great one. There’s other great ones too. I would love for them to check it out. So those are the three things that give me success and I want people to recognize that as well. That’s my life advice. Life is too short. Go work for a company you believe in. Maybe you’ve worked at a job and you used a tool and you really liked it and you’re like, man, you know what? I could be an evangelist for this tool and go to that company and market the hell out of it because I’ve used it before. That would be my actionable tip, is when you’re interviewing for a job, whether you’re in marketing or you’re in sales, you’re in customer success, you’re in demand generation. Don’t necessarily just go to work at any old company. Scrutinise their product or their service. Test it out. Try the free trial. Get a demo of it like a sleuth customer and see how it goes. And you will have a much better time working there. I promise you. So that’s my actionable tip.
Joe: Travis Tyler, thank you so much for joining me for this coffee time talk.
Travis: All right, thank you.
Joe: Well, there we go. That was Travis Tyler with Digital Marketing Hacks for 2023.
Our key takeaways then:
Look outside of the business world for inspiration and blend different sources such as sports shows, educational podcasts and comedy podcasts for your digital marketing.
Use internal volunteer influencers to add variety to your digital marketing. Have a strategy in place for monthly requests to your employees to create their own content for the company.
Review your marketing annually by sending out surveys to get feedback from internal and external sources.
Don’t be afraid to pilot the content and get feedback before making any changes to that content format.
Thanks again to Travis and thank you very much for listening. We’ll be back with another Essential B2B podcast next week.