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Lead Balloon Ep. 11 - The Emotional Unsubscribe, and other Marketing Automation Pitfalls to Avoid

Updated: Aug 13

With Misty Dykema and Abby Bell from Simantel Group: The difference between "campaign" and "crater" is a razor's edge in the world of marketing automation and CRM.



With great marketing tools comes great responsibility--and marketing automation, email marketing and customer relationship management are no exception.


Use them correctly, and you can tap into the efficiencies inherent in automation, with a demonstrable return on investment. Use them incorrectly, and you can crater your customer relationships with the touch of a button.

Misty Dykema and Abby Bell from Simantel Group have watched these dramas play out, over and over, as they try to coach different businesses through the marketing automation learning curve. They've seen the worst-case scenarios, and often been called in to clean up the mess when marketing technology adoption goes wrong.


In this episode, they share cautionary tales from the front lines, and outline the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.


Plus, Dusty surprises Abby with a podcast karaoke session (watch the video!). Yeah, that really happened.


Transcript:


Dusty Weis:

There are perhaps no more polarizing topics in the fields of PR and marketing than marketing automation, email marketing, and customer relationship management. On the one hand, you've got a set of tactics with baked in metrics reporting, you've got the potential for demonstrable return on investment and the efficiencies inherent in automation. But on the other hand, you have a set of tactics that have the potential to annoy or enrage your customers if they're used incorrectly.


Dusty Weis:

You have significant upfront expenses and you have the disruption and the assimilation process that comes with the incorporation of any new technology into an enterprise. This hope, fear, push, pull of the benefits and costs of marketing automation technology has the potential to cause drama in any business operation. And for Misty Dykema and Abby Bell from Simantel Group, they've watched these dramas play out over and over, as they coach different businesses through the marketing automation learning curve.


Abby Bell:

Man, there are some hurt feelings, Dusty. I'm not going to lie. We're all playing in the same toy box, these are actual human beings that we're talking to, right? I love that you're enamored with your program but is the customer?


Dusty Weis:

Abby says the dreaded "emotional unsubscribe," where a customer feels spammed by your marketing emails and starts to just tune you out, is only one of the potential pitfalls that enterprises face in this process. And in this week's podcast, she and Misty share tales from the frontlines of marketing automation adoption, where the difference between a campaign and a crater can happen in the blink of an eye. I'm Dusty Weis from Podcamp Media. This is Lead Balloon, a podcast about PR, marketing, and branding nightmares, and the well meaning communications professionals who lived them.


Dusty Weis:

Thanks for tuning in. Hope you're staying healthy and productive. COVID-19, of course, continues to rage and if we're lucky, the worst part of that is that we're feeling a little cooped up and cut off from our colleagues. Strategic communication, marketing, and PR are fields we're getting together and telling old war stories over drinks is a time honored tradition. I know this show is a poor substitute for that face to face contact but I hope it helps.


Dusty Weis:

If you enjoy the show, please make sure to subscribe in your favorite podcast app. There's more fun stuff, videos, pictures, behind the scenes stories on our social media. So follow Podcamp Media on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. In marketing and PR, we face a technology revolution of sorts with the adoption of marketing automation and customer relationship management software, and of course, the accompanying problems that spring up occasionally. Misty Dykema and Abby Bell have seen these kinds of disasters firsthand, and it's their job to help clean up the wreckage.


Dusty Weis:

Misty is the principal and co-owner of Simantel Group from Peoria, Illinois. And Abby is a newly appointed vice president there. Misty and Abby, anyone who works with technology is going to tell you that it is a field fraught with pitfalls. If you move too slowly, you risk falling behind your competition. If you move too fast you risk winding up in over your head. And so your firm Simantel is a b2b marketing agency that puts a heavy emphasis on marketing automation in the industrial sector. You're headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, which for anyone who doesn't know is ground zero for the heavy equipment manufacturing industry because it's the home to Caterpillar.


Dusty Weis:

And that's obviously, the elephant in the room that influenced your firm's development. But tell me a little bit more about how Simantel was founded and what your business proposition is for your customers.


Misty Dykema:

Yeah, so Simantel has been in business for almost 40 years now. We started by a guy named Jim Simantel, and the second and fourth employee, Susie Ketterer and Kevin McConaghy purchased the business back in 2003. And then our current ownership myself and two partners, bought the business at the beginning of 2018 and Abby, who's on the line has been instrumental in helping us grow in customer experience and technology, and how we can use technology to become a better digitally integrated customer service firm.


Misty Dykema:

So we, like you mentioned, had the luxury of a very long-term partnership with Caterpillar. But we also work with mighty middle b2b, heavy industry brands from throughout the Midwest, across the nation, and even globally through our network of agencies. So super excited to be here today with you, Dusty, to talk about technology and some of the pitfalls we've seen over time.


Dusty Weis:

Yes, certainly. And that much said, I know from my own experience, that new technology adoption, no matter the goals, no matter the industry, it's a tricky proposition for firms to navigate. When it's done wrong, it can really paralyze an operation. It can tie up staff time, it can eat up an enormous amount of capital. And of course, it just feels like you're putting all of your effort into advancing this technology without actually advancing your business goals. So doing what you do, you've had a front row seat for some disasters like this.


Dusty Weis:

In fact, I understand that you guys get brought in pretty regularly to clean up the wreckage when someone's foray into automated marketing meltdown completely. And so you've agreed to share some of these stories. But out of respect for the clients that you work with, we're not going to name names per se.


Misty Dykema:

Exactly, Because I think, Dusty, the truth of the matter is, all the clients experience the same challenges. So, while maybe some of our listeners can pick up on some of the clients that we might be speaking to here, I don't want anyone listening, to feel that this is specific to a very unique client because at the end of the day, we're all marketers dealing with the same things and we all are experiencing the same pitfalls. So definitely, we'll let Abby speak to some of those stories. But I'll talk more in themes about what I tend to see across the client base.


Dusty Weis:

And ultimately, I think it's an important process to go through because I don't know about you, but if somebody's standing in front of a whiteboard and telling me best practices, I kind of tune out a little bit. But when I'm hearing about the mistakes that someone made. Mistakes are how I learn.


Misty Dykema:

Absolutely.


Dusty Weis:

And if I don't have to make those mistakes myself, personally, that's all the better for me. So let's walk through this minefield together then. In the technology implementation process, what's the first trap that we have to be on the lookout for?


Misty Dykema:

Well, the story always starts with the purchase of a technology. I think Abby and I have found that when our clients are sold a piece of technology, and that can come from a lot of levels, right? Whether it's the big guys, Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, coming in and saying, "This technology solution is going to solve all your marketing problems." That's really where the ground level is.


Misty Dykema:

And whether that's an executive of the organization, seeing the vision, and believing that this technology is really going to solve all their problems, or whether it is some middleman that's a partner of these technology firms coming in and saying, "Hey, we resell this thing. We can fix this for you." Typically, when Simantel gets brought in, it's when one of those two things have happened, and somebody at a higher level have spent a lot of money on a platform, but maybe they don't really have a plan for using it.


Dusty Weis:

And so, to me, this harkens back to what I feel is a common problem in public relations and marketing in a broader sense, which is the old notion of getting the cart before the horse. It's choosing a solution before you've identified and analyzed the problem. When I used to work in politics, it was a politician walking into my office and saying, "Hey, I need a press release about this."


Dusty Weis:

And me pumping the brakes and saying, "Hang on a second. What is your goal? What is the problem that we're trying to solve with this? Is a press release the best solution here?" And you see this play out in technology adoption, with people coming in and saying right off the bat, "Oh, we need Adobe or we need Oracle." And you being put in the tricky position of saying, "Well, hang on a second, do you?"


Abby Bell:

Right. Yeah, I would say, Dusty, that a big part of my job is having really difficult conversations, right? It's starting that discovery process with, "Let's all take a breath, you're not alone, and it's going to be okay." Sometimes that's because we bought this technology and we thought it was going to be a bandaid to fix all of our marketing problems, right? And what we say is, "Well, let's start with the strategy first, and then find a way for the technology to execute your solution."


Dusty Weis:

How do customers react when you try to redirect them like that? Are they receptive to it? Or is there that pushback of, "Well, hang on a second. This is a poker hand and we've already bet half of our stakes so we're pot committed now on this particular piece of technology that we thought we wanted."


Abby Bell:

There's always some pushback, and I think it's okay. But I have to show ROI this quarter, Abby. And I'm like, "Cool, we can do that. But first, Tell me your story." Right? And I think it's a little bit of almost therapy for them like, "Well, here was my problem and here's what I did. And here's what's still not working." And if we can get clients to that point of vulnerability, where we're really transparent with each other, then we can get to the point where the work that we do really matters.


Dusty Weis:

Can you think of a time when walking someone through that process has been particularly onerous or particularly challenging for you? And how you were able to guide them along and help them see the light.


Abby Bell:

This was way back and probably my first year at Simantel, when I was a marketing automation consultant from Texas. And I think the eyes of Simantel were still upon me like, "Is this going to work out?" So we're in a pretty large workshop with the client, and we'd done two to three weeks of discovery before the workshop to try and figure out a little bit more about the company, the sales process, the leads process, how did things work today.


Abby Bell:

And what we found out was what you actually need is to revamp your lead process and make it measurable. What the client wanted was a nurture program because that's what this new platform does. So, that's what we're going to put into it. And so the client, kind of a person that just really owns the room, finally, just stood up because we're volleying this pushback, back and forth, back and forth and stood up and said, "Abby, are you telling me that I can't have a nurture program in this platform? Are you telling me that I need to completely start over with what we're doing when we get this package?"


Abby Bell:

And I had to just look and say, "Yes, that's what I'm telling you. If you don't start here, two years from now, you're going to regret it because everything is still going to be broken." And that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to say to a client. But their response was, "Okay. Well, then let's do that." And so this huge sigh of relief comes over me, right? Like, "I got away with it and I'm still employed. This is awesome." So, yeah, that was one of my war stories, for sure.


Dusty Weis:

I feel like in the field of marketing, we face this additional challenge of like when people go to the doctor's office, they don't necessarily want to get bad news. But if there's bad news, they want the doctor to tell them, there's bad news. Well, nobody wants to get bad news from a marketing consultant. It's unfair in that way.


Abby Bell:

For sure. Yeah. They want everything that we do to be super slick and sexy. And unfortunately, that's just not always the case.


Misty Dykema:

I think what Abby's speaking to is often when there's a technology purchase, there's so much foundational work to be done. And I'm not just talking about data and content. That's certainly a piece of it that is our world from a marketing standpoint. But a lot of it is just foundational strategic conversation between, in this case, the marketing and sales teams. And so when executives purchase a technology, they don't realize how much work shopping has to be done, just to get people to talk to each other about how they want things to be working.


Misty Dykema:

And so that's where I feel like Abby is so wonderful. She not only understands the technology but she understands the business strategy to come in and make people say, "What are you doing today? How do you want it to be working? Marketing, what do you not like about sales? And sales, what do you not like about marketing?" And it's through those conversations, ultimately, that the strategy emerges?


Dusty Weis:

Well, and Abby, not to necessarily put words in your mouth or in your job description. But I've always felt like in order to be an effective advocate for technology, your job is part demonstrating ROI, but part translator, in a way, because you have different stakeholders that speak different languages. You have a sales team that speaks to themselves in one way, and you have executives who speak a completely different language and understand problems and solutions and a completely different set of terms. And then, of course, you have technology people who might as well be speaking Greek.


Abby Bell:

Right.


Dusty Weis:

How some of us are concerned. How do you go about translating that?


Abby Bell:

Yeah. So I think it's a little bit about making everybody feel heard, right? I started my career in sales very early on in my career, then moved into marketing to understand all of the technologies. And now, that I'm helping Misty to run this company, I see the 30,000 foot view. And so being able to sit at the table with those three groups of people and say, "I get what you're saying. Let me put it in terms that your neighbor will understand." Right? That, to me, brings such satisfaction because it is translation and it is helping everybody to feel heard. And more importantly, get the most out of that technology or process or strategy that they've hired us to do.


Dusty Weis:

To that challenge, that Misty set up a moment ago, this technology adoption by executive mandate where an executive who's at that 30,000 foot level, and maybe not a boots on the ground kind of person, decides that we're going to go down this technological route and that's just the way that it's going to be. Is that more challenging than some of the other issues that you have to troubleshoot because it's coming from such a position of power?


Abby Bell:

100%. I think if we can get that one on one conversation with the executive, to get them to the point where they say, "This is why I bought it, and this is the result I'm trying to get." "Cool. Let me slow that information down through your teams and figure out how to make them successful while carrying out this initiative, right?" And sometimes it's because we're an Oracle house or we're a Salesforce house. And so this next piece just fits into the puzzle.


Abby Bell:

And if that's it, and that's the only reason, that's okay, right? We just need to know that going in so that we can set your teams up for success. And I think that building that relationship with the executive to get them to the point where they will tell you the real why is probably the biggest challenge.


Misty Dykema:

I would add to that, Dusty. I've been in countless conversations with executives who've sold a piece of technology maybe to their board or to their CEO. And they said, "I just need to show that we're using it. It doesn't even have to work."


Dusty Weis:

No.


Misty Dykema:

And so this idea of adoption, instead of ROI is actually one of the first metrics that we're held accountable to out of the gate. And so you're often caught in between this instance of, "Do we just execute to show that the platform has data and content in it? Or do we facilitate these larger strategic conversations?" And to further complicate it, what often happens is there's two technology platforms running. So the executive is sold up the ladder, a new technology, while at the same time has no plan for the legacy technology. And so you're paying double. And you need to get things out of the old system into the new system quickly so you're not continuing to bleed money.


Dusty Weis:

And that, of course, opens up a whole new can of worms then with what to do with the data from that legacy system that you're replacing. And does that data play nice with the new system that you're trying to move into. And technology for technology's sake, I've always said is is a pitfall in and of itself. Equally dangerous is this notion of data hoarders. Very recently on Malcolm Gladwell's podcast, he's been talking about hoarding as a psychological construct that empowers people to feel like they're in charge of something.


Dusty Weis:

And what you find in really massive legacy organizations is that people become these masters of these big piles of data that they've just accumulated for years. And it just sits there and it doesn't do anything. And if you could get them to just let go of it and give it to the broader team and the piece of software that you're trying to implement, there's a mountain of value there. But just siloed off on its own and ignored, data isn't doing anybody any good.


Misty Dykema:

100%. Before you can even have the technology conversation, we so often have to back up and say, "You don't have a technology problem, you have a data problem. What data do you have? Where is it stored? And how do you get access to it?" Right? "And is it structured in a way that we can usually use it?"


Abby Bell:

Yeah, I will say if you have 99 problems, data is definitely one of them, right? If not more. So I do think that data hoarding, I love that word, and the data democratization, right? Two totally different ends of the spectrum. And the thing that I try to get marketers to understand is, you don't need all of it. Let's just figure out the two or three pieces that are going to give you the lift you're after. And let's just ask for that. And those data hoarders are like, "Okay, I won't give you all of it. But you can have these two or three things and go along your way." Right?


Abby Bell:

And then once we can show what an impact those two or three pieces have, they're more willing to open up those channels a little bit more, right? Piloting and testing, those types of words make people feel like, "Okay, it's not a huge commitment. Well, let's just see if this Abby girl is right, and if this is going to work." And that's okay, right? We can prove out the things that we're hoping to execute.


Misty Dykema:

But building on, Dusty, what Abby said earlier, same story, same client want to use this platform, can't execute their nurture. Part of their challenge was that they had a really complex distribution system, right? So they were a national company. And they had layers upon layers of distribution before reaching the end user of their product, many of which, in a geographic territory, those distributors were overlapping each other.


Misty Dykema:

So the only way to figure out how we were going to distribute leads to the right distributor who could impact the customer experience was to literally interview the salespeople and say, "If this customer has this need, who do I send it to?" And so building Excel spreadsheets of data so that we could map that manually so that we can automate it in the long-term. This is a conversation Abby and I have a lot is like sometimes you have to do things manually so that you can automate them in the future. And that's a huge part of what we do.


Dusty Weis:

I can imagine that trying to make the case to a client that they have to go in and manually manipulate this data is a bigger sell than telling them, "Hey, just give us a pile of money, and we'll fix this problem for you."


Abby Bell:

I'll try that next time, Dusty, and I'll let you know if it works. But it gives back to the person, right? Especially, if there's one person that's using all that tribal knowledge that Misty talked about, "Well, this zip code overlaps two counties but because they want this product, I'm going to send it to this salesperson versus this one." They're like, "Dude, do you ever want to have a weekend off? Do you want to not be checking your email at nine o'clock at night? Let me help you." Right? It's like the Jerry Maguire scene.


Jerry Maguire:

God, help me. Help me, Rod. Help me help you. Help me help you. You are hanging on by a very thin thread.


Dusty Weis:

If you've ever confronted data hoarding in your organization, you know that hostility and mockery are likely reactions you might face. But Abby says in her dealings with enterprises that are moving into this space, there's another nugget of wisdom from Jerry Maguire that can help get the point across.


Jerry Maguire:

Show me the money. Show me the money.


Abby Bell:

The tribal knowledge sits with our regional sales managers. And we're not going to bother them to get that information out because they're responsible for sales, right? And so what we did is we just took a couple of high performing regional sales managers and had a workshop, right? We had everybody in the room and gave them a taste of their own medicine, right?


Abby Bell:

So we're sitting there, looking at body language, making sure they have coffee and snacks and being very personable and just making them feel the love, and said, "What if? right? What if I could show this for your region? What if you could see which leads are coming to which salesperson? What the status is for each? And look at what the performance is for each of these people in your region? And more importantly, what if enterprise could see how your region is performing on a daily basis?"


Abby Bell:

Then you get people sitting up in their seats, right? It's kind of a, "Oh, crap." Moment. Because getting them to the point where they can see how this will actually impact their day to day is how you get those doors of knowledge to open. And once we have that hour long conversation, they're like, "Abby, what do you need to know? I'm here for you, buddy." Because it is a way for them to not only be successful, but to show their success to their enterprise and to their headquarter company.


Dusty Weis:

So once you've rested that data away from the hoarders, what else can you use it for? Well, coming up after the break, how data can help make one of the most hated forms of marketing, a little bit less detestable. The importance of averting disaster in email marketing.


Abby Bell:

I'm getting the emails but I'm not looking at them. I'm not clicking them. And that's the worst. Because in your data, they're still showing as someone that wants to get your email but you know they're not paying attention to you. And Google knows it too, right?


Dusty Weis:

And then later in the program, what happens to Lead Balloon podcast guests who list their favorite karaoke jams in their website bios. That's coming up in a minute. You're on Lead Balloon. This is Lead Balloon and I'm Dusty Weis. Marketing automation offers enterprises the ability to revolutionize their customer relationships or completely disintegrate them at the touch of a button. Look no further than my Gmail unsubscribe list for evidence of that.


Dusty Weis:

So for Misty Dykema and Abby Bell of Simantel Group, one of the most important steps in coaching clients to marketing automation success is in managing that human element to the process.


Misty Dykema:

So often, this is a journey, right? New issues are bubbling up all the time. And so the personalization issue, all of us as marketers want to get to that one to one omnichannel experience where the customer is really experiencing your brand in all the places but what we're finding is so many of our clients who purchase an automation technology, let's say they want to be able to automate emails. They haven't thought through what impact is that going to have on the website experience? What if I want to deliver this in social or SMS? And where is my content going to live so that I can deliver it in all those channels.


Misty Dykema:

And so I've seen memes on this. You buy one technology and you realize you need five more to make that technology work. That's where so many of our clients are, they don't have a content management system that has a taxonomy that is tagged, that they can do distributed content on a regional or global basis. And so, so often, that's often a piece of duct tape that we have to do manually so that someday, the clients can really deliver on the dream.


Abby Bell:

The realization that content needs to be portable is something that I've been talking to clients a lot about lately. And the bottom line is, "Do you want to pay to continue to recreate content?" "No, nobody does, right?" So let's figure out a way to make it portable. Let's figure out a way to indicate which channel it's safe to go to. And more importantly, let's give it a hook, right? We're all humans, we all buy things, we all have an eyebrow raised every once in a while on Facebook or whatever our channel is. Let's not lose that human touch because you're selling to someone that likely shops on Amazon every day, right? So you have to stay relevant. And you have to do it in a way that's scalable.


Misty Dykema:

Dusty, if you think about us serving the b2b industry and all that heavy equipment product lines, you can imagine all the content that lives in the spec log space, right? Features and benefits of product. And so one of the things we're doing is trying to help clients understand that would have been an asset or a PDF that you produce, that you use to shoot out via email. Now, we need to think in bite sized chunks of content and facets, we call them.


Misty Dykema:

And that's very hard if you're working with an executive that doesn't live in a technology system every day, where they can see, "Oh, that's where the headline goes. That's where the body copy go. That's where the metadata goes? And that's changing the way we think about having technology conversations because you can't do technology without having the content to go along with it.


Dusty Weis:

Well, a PDF doesn't just become an infographic on its own. A PDF doesn't become a q&a on its own. There's a lot of steps in between A and B there. And I really like the way that you tie this back to the equipment industry there because that is an industry that has produced gigabytes and terabytes of content that is, for all intents and purposes, sitting on a server inaccessible.


Misty Dykema:

Absolutely. Just sitting there in one place. And that's what Abby said just having to repeat the process of recreating it over and over for all the different channels.


Dusty Weis:

Landing a successful email marketing campaign feels good. Watching that CTR climb, seeing the conversions, get the kudos from the sales team, it feels so good. You want to do it again and again and again. Every department wants in on the action. And Misty says that point, right there is a disaster waiting to happen.


Misty Dykema:

We recently had a client... I don't think this is unique to any one customer. I think a lot of heavy industry, manufacturing companies that work in different matrixed organizations experience this, they were realizing that, specifically, through their email channel, they were bombarding their customers because they had dozens of email campaigns, all hitting the same people. And so this is an example of us needing to back up and say, "Wait a second. What is our business strategy on how we want to reach customers in the future?"


Misty Dykema:

And so we brought multiple stakeholders together and we started to talk about, in this ideal world, how would you create a program that met the customer where they are at their specific point in the buyers journey and only offered the content that is helpful at that given point in time?


Dusty Weis:

I want to interject here for a second because what I'm hearing is... What I've discovered to be a common problem in email marketing, which is you've got a large organization that gets hold of your email. And they've got multiple different teams, and everybody is given equal access to the email marketing. And they just send out their particular piece to everybody that's on that list whether or not it's relevant to them.


Misty Dykema:

Absolutely. And Abby can add on to this. But like I said, this isn't unique to just any one client. How many of us have different groups within our organization that all want to be communicating our message to our customer and we're just overwhelming the customer?


Dusty Weis:

Oh, it drives me nuts. I hate that. There's no faster way to my unsubscribe pile, than bombarding me with 10 emails a week, nine of which are not relevant to me in any way, shape, or form.


Misty Dykema:

But I think the key is you have to find the person who's going to own and champion and be brave enough to bring all of those stakeholders together and say, "Let's not look at this through the lens of the business. Let's look at it through the lens of the customer."


Dusty Weis:

Abby, how does this play out when you go up to a group of people and tell them, "No, that email lists that you really like sending emails to, you can't do that. We're taking away your toy."


Abby Bell:

Man, there are some hurt feelings, Dusty. I'm not going to lie. We're all playing in the same toy box, these are actual human beings that we're talking to, right? And we have this poster in one of our workshop rooms. And I often just point to it, and it says, the customer trumps all, right? So I love that you're enamored with your program but is the customer, right? Once you start seeing those engagement rates fall and unsubscribes go up just like you said, Dusty. Or worse, the emotional unsubscribe, right? Where they don't hit the button.


Dusty Weis:

I love the notion of an emotional unsubscribe because-


Misty Dykema:

It's so true.


Dusty Weis:

That basically, describes my entire approach to Facebook in the age of COVID right now. I just need to hit the emotional unsubscribe. I can't.


Misty Dykema:

Exactly.


Abby Bell:

It's true and Gmail has picked up on this, right? If you go to your Gmail, it'll pop a little balloon that says, "Hey, you haven't read emails from Acme company." You'll want to go ahead and unsubscribe. And they're measuring the same thing, right? I'm getting the emails but I'm not looking at them, I'm not clicking them. And that's the worst. Because in your data, they're still showing as someone that wants to get your emails, but you know, they're not paying attention to you. And Google knows it too, right? That's why they're offering that option in Gmail.


Abby Bell:

And so, definitely, some hurt feelings. But if we really try to put what the customer wants ahead of our feelings, either for a specific product line or a specific part of the company, then that is what's going to get us to our goals. A certain automotive company presented at a conference that I was at, and they had the same problems, right? And solved it with a similar approach. We're going to put the customer first and we're going to let them tell us what they want, either by behavior, which can include engagement, form submissions, click throughs, offline behavior, if we can figure out a way to suck it up into the system.


Abby Bell:

And they saw huge, huge lifts in their engagement. It was like a 200% lift in engagement. And if you overlapped the website metrics, right? The visits, so Google Analytics, and overlapped the email sense, you could match the spikes exactly to where our heavy traffic days are the days we send out these genius emails. And so that was a huge, huge call for me to say, "All right. It's time to go have some more of those tough conversations." And they've all proven out. You got to give the customer what they want.


Misty Dykema:

Dusty, you said it earlier, our b2c experiences are driving our b2b expectations, right? That's what we hang our hat on as a company. Because if we understand what those users expect. So when you think about the emails we get from Amazon... For me, I'm a big Kohl shopper, right? And you have all these little squares that you might be interested in. Oh, and here's your 30% off coupon.


Dusty Weis:

Get the Kohl's cash. Got to get the Kohl's cash.


Misty Dykema:

Right. Exactly. Yeah, and your loyalty number. Like bringing all of that information on a very personalized communication, really changes mindset from a very linear, "I'm going to send you this 10-step nurture program too. I'm just going to send you the content and piece parts that you actually want because of something I saw you do online." And I will never forget the day Abby had to stand up in front of our organization with one of those huge white post-its and she literally had us walk up and put little post-its on it.


Misty Dykema:

And it just was like, "Oh, that's how it works. We just got to figure out what those little post-its are and where we're going to store them so that we can do this." And it was such a light bulb moment.


Dusty Weis:

So wait, can I back you up there? I want to hear more about the post-its. What were you illustrating with the big post-it and the little post-its?


Abby Bell:

So I had several volunteers, again, in a workshop environment. So going out on the ledge here. And the big white post-its like the kind that are poster size are one business line worth of content, right? And so we had our one customer and I was stacking up post-its in her hand, right? And saying, "Oh, hey, you visited this page. So now this business unit sends you an email." Just like you said, Dusty, right? They're attacking you with all these emails.


Abby Bell:

And now, we think that you might be interested in this. So you get another big post-it. And wait, what about our brand newsletter? Let's give you this. And we did something for COVID. So here's two more emails, right? And so this person is literally standing there with a chunk of giant post-it sheets. And then I had another volunteer and I said, "Okay, now, this person is getting genius emails." Right? That's my air quotes. And they have one big post-it and now, we're going to give her one little chunk of brand content, right?


Abby Bell:

So she feels good about the brand. And it's like, "Yeah, I'm in line with these guys. They're cool." And then we're going to give her one piece of... She filled out a form and selected a product of interest so we definitely want to tell her about that. And then at the bottom, we're going to maybe give her a customer testimonial that says, "This is going to work out in the long run." And this poor person over here holding eight, nine, 10 giant poster sheet post-its, she's drowning. But this one right here that just has the one magical genius post-it, she's still getting all the information she needs, but it's just one post-it or email.


Dusty Weis:

Very cool. I think that's a great way to visualize this concept that we're trying to communicate here and kudos to you for coming up with that. And also, for coming up with the term emotional unsubscribe, which is going to be my hashtag for the remainder of 2020. Dow Jones industrial average, emotional unsubscribe. Don't want to follow it right now. I just don't have the energy.


Dusty Weis:

There's an old parable about a house built on sand and a house built on stone. And Misty and Abby say that marketing automation is like a house built on data. And data can be a treacherous foundation.


Misty Dykema:

So, typically, what happens is after you've got everybody excited and rallied around how they actually want to use the technology, unfortunately, there's sometimes a need to step back and look at how the technology was implemented in the first place. We call it laying the pipes, right? Were the pipes laid in the right way in terms of an infrastructure to be able to use the system how you want to.


Misty Dykema:

And so Abby has been so helpful to me as a non-technical person and understanding that the pillars that you lay in a house and how you put the roof on impact, who can access what parts of the system and what data lives in what part of the system. And sometimes those things are just not helpful in terms of the marketers being able to execute. So Abby, maybe you can explain that better than I can.


Abby Bell:

I like to use visuals. I think it's also prudent to say that I teach elementary age school children on the weekends. And so this is where I get a lot of my genius ideas, Dusty. Just boiling it down. So with the house, I try to say, "This is where we are in the process. Are you just choosing a technology? Or are you just setting up governance?" And I'll literally throw up an image of just the foundation of a house like the slab of it, and say, "Now, this is where you're going to be in two years."


Abby Bell:

And it's the fully furnished McMansion with the pretty landscaping and everything and say, "Okay, if you want to get there, let's figure out where the pipes are going to go. Before you cement over them, let's make sure that all the data is getting in and out the right way. And let's make sure that everyone who needs access to it can get that data." This really impacts enterprise sized companies, especially, those that are global.


Abby Bell:

When you start getting into data privacy requirements and legal compliance, and we have to have a server in this country to store the data etc, it's super important that the house is created on a good foundation and that those pipes are laid the right way. Because once you put that cement over, right? What happens then? You got to bust it out, you got to get a new contractor, you got to start all over. And we've been there for some clients that have done that. And it's sad.


Dusty Weis:

It's a bad feeling. It's a good analogy because I'm actually going through that in a very real world sense right now, where there's a problem with the plumbing in my house. And I brought in a plumber to look at it and said, "So, how can we fix it?" And he's like, "Well, we're going to have to tear out the entire load bearing wall in your garage." And I said, "What?" And that's a bad feeling.


Misty Dykema:

Yes.


Dusty Weis:

There's this looming sense of existential dread and perhaps a very, very large check that I'm going to have to write to fix that. Have you ever come across an enterprise that is so far along in their process with the wrong pipes laid? That you just had to tell them, "No, it's time for an entire gut job."


Abby Bell:

Unfortunately, we have actually. Yeah. We have been there. And it's a matter of stop building on this house. Let's stop and let's check. Think about the millions of dollars that you're going to have to put into this product to make it work for you. And now, let's reevaluate on the other side of the balance thingie, right? What happens if you start over? You're still early enough in the process, and by that, I mean, a year and a half, two years in, where we can fix this. Let's simplify and start over.


Abby Bell:

And it's one of those difficult conversations, Dusty. But I have had it and it has worked out for the better to just start over. Because continuing to build on there, every six months, you're going to have to go in and jack up the foundation again, right? Let me build another story. Hold on. Got to fix the foundation one more time. Nobody wants that. And so it has happened and I think it's all a matter of investment, right?


Abby Bell:

Trying to weigh that return on the investment that you've already made, versus the investment that you're going to have to make to get it where you want it. And it really comes down to a spreadsheet with two columns. And that's literally how we looked at that situation with that client.


Misty Dykema:

The investment in marketing technology doesn't end. And I think that's one of the things that's hardest when working with the executives that's sold it up the ladder is that they may have budgeted for a year, two years. In some cases, even in the best case scenarios, maybe they have a five-year plan but being able to convey to leadership that ongoing investment in technology is not just the technology itself, it's the content, it's the people, it's the training, it's the business process governance.


Misty Dykema:

It's really changing all of our jobs as marketers and giving us a seat at the strategic table about how do we reorg the technology team of the future on what people need to do to support these systems.


Dusty Weis:

Yeah, all these, of course... All the stories that you've outlined here are just the kinds of disasters that unfold behind the scenes. And so very often these don't get seen out in public but they're the kind of things that just make your toes curl when you hear about them. But I've always maintained that the only thing that is more dangerous than technology is a fear of technology. It's not a thing that you can run away from, you can't hide your head in the sand and do things the way that they've always been done, or someone quicker and more agile than you is going to come in and disrupt your business model.


Misty Dykema:

For me, I think that at the start of any new client relationship, setting this expectation from the ground up is critical. And so talking about the idea that it is our job to bring you new technology solutions all the time. I would hate to have a client that couldn't take advantage of the latest and greatest technology like you said, Dusty, because they were fearful that it was going to add cost or process or team or training.


Misty Dykema:

So right now it's about roadmapping with the client as Abby made the point about building on the house. And if you articulate that from the start, it's much easier for clients to embrace that. We're going to keep coming at you with new things, and we're just going to help you integrate them and add them on to the house.


Dusty Weis:

Misty, I would be remissive if I didn't highlight that you're a bit of a disrupter yourself in the marketing space. Outside your role as the principal at Simantel, you're also the host of Simantel's Marketing Sweats podcast.


Misty Dykema:

That's right.


Dusty Weis:

How'd you wind up in podcasting? What do you like about it? And what do you use your platform for?


Misty Dykema:

For years, Dusty, my clients would say to me, "What are your other clients doing?" And so we had tried some things through the years of bringing together round tables where people could share confidentially, and learn from each other. But I just love talking to people. And I thought, "What if we could do that on steroids?" Right? So our season one was really about bringing those brand marketers to the table to tell their story, similar to what you do, right? Their successes and failures.


Misty Dykema:

But our season two, we've really branched beyond our client base. And we're talking to industry thought leaders about marketing and technology and I've even brought in some business coaching and strategic consultants because at the end of the day, even though, we're all in marketing, we all have managerial jobs to do and we're all trying to champion new leadership ideas. And so, my podcast is really about opening our eyes and our brains and our ears to all these things that are bigger than ourselves, and hopefully creating a conversation around it.


Dusty Weis:

Let's play the ROI game. How's the ROI on your podcast?


Misty Dykema:

You know what? I love that you brought that up? Because I have a meeting right after this to talk about it. For me, I'm all about benchmarking. So I know where we are right now. I know what it's costing me from a hard cost standpoint to get a download, if you will. And for me, it's about improving from here. But I do find... I don't know if you agree with this long format content like this in the way of engaging audiences in conversation is even sometimes better than just content in the written word that people digest and move on because it creates a relationship over time that's reciprocal.


Misty Dykema:

And so, it's not so much about what you're investing to get the content but it's about the long-term business opportunity that comes from understanding somebody's story and sharing yours and seeing what you have in common.


Dusty Weis:

And not just understanding somebody's story, but understanding somebody as a person.


Misty Dykema:

Yes.


Dusty Weis:

The people that have reached out to me, for potential client work, after listening to this podcast, have not come out to me and said, "Hey, I really like the technical prowess that you exhibit in the production of your podcast." They get to that point, eventually.


Misty Dykema:

Sure.


Dusty Weis:

But what they say to me at first is, "Oh, I listened to this episode, and I really liked getting to know you as a person and you seem like somebody I could do business with." And so that, I think, is one of the most powerful aspects of podcasting as a marketing tool, in my humble opinion.


Misty Dykema:

Absolutely. And we agree with that. And we've loved getting to know you, Dusty. We feel like we have lots of common with you and you are somebody we're going to keep in touch with for a long time, for sure.


Dusty Weis:

Oh, geez. Well, I'll look forward to that. While we're on the topic of hidden microphone talents, I also understand Abby is a pretty accomplished karaoke singer.


Misty Dykema:

She is.


Abby Bell:

I don't know about accomplished just because I like something doesn't mean I'm good at it, Dusty.


Dusty Weis:

Do you have a favorite karaoke bar in Peoria? Or where do you have to go for your karaoke fix?


Abby Bell:

Basket Case in Peoria is my favorite.


Misty Dykema:

It's the best.


Dusty Weis:

Basket Case. Okay, when all this COVID nonsense is done, we'll have to get together at Basket Case sometime because I've been known to tear down karaoke stage myself from time to time in my career.


Abby Bell:

Bring it, man.


Misty Dykema:

We'd love to take you there.


Abby Bell:

Yeah, we'll do some Garth Brooks. That's my go to, Dusty. So bring it.


Dusty Weis:

You mentioned that. I know that, social distancing being in full effect, I imagine that you're going through as much withdrawal as I am. This may be a little bit unorthodox but I may have a solution queued up for you here. Do you want to hit it?


Abby Bell:

Dusty, you're my favorite person ever.


Dusty Weis:

Here. I'll lead it off. *singing* Blame it all on my roots. I showed up in boots and ruined your black tie affair. Last one to know. Last one to show. I was the last one you thought you'd see there." Take it, Abby.


Abby Bell:

"And I saw the surprise and the fear in his eyes when I took his glass of champagne. And I toasted you said, 'Honey, we may be through.'"


Dusty Weis:

Here we go.


Abby Bell:

"But you'll never hear me complain."


Dusty Weis:

"Well, I've got friends in low places..." Oh, that's wonderful.


Misty Dykema:

You guys are the best. I love it. I can't believe you did that.


Dusty Weis:

That seems like as good a note to end on as any. Abby Bell, the vice president, and Misty Dykema, the co-owner and principal of Simantel. It has been a pleasure revisiting these low places with you. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Lead Ballon.


Misty Dykema:

Bye, Dusty. Good chatting with you.


Dusty Weis:

Just in case there was ever any doubt, I do read the bios of every guest on my podcast. And if you list your favorite karaoke jams there, I'm going to ask you to sing. Round of applause to Abby for being a great sport about that. Thanks for joining us on another episode of Lead Balloon, which is produced by Podcamp Media, where we provide branded podcast production solutions for businesses.


Dusty Weis:

Check out our website, podcampmedia.com. Catch our bonus material on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We bring you new tales of PR and marketing disasters each month. So please subscribe in your favorite app. And if you've got a great story worth sharing my email is dusty@podcampmedia.com. Till the next time, folks, thanks for listening. I'm Dusty Weis.


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