Posted on: 09/12/2016

Monica Ohara and Hannah Russin of Datascore on Growth Marketing for Startups

Monica Ohara

Co-Founder - Datascore


Podcast Summary

Monica Ohara & Hannah Russin of Datascore came on the podcast to talk Growth Marketing for Startups. Monica & Hannah are all about the data. In this day and age, so much marketing and advertising is done over the Internet, that you should be taking a data-centric approach to your marketing. Datascore tells you how to do it.

Podcast Transcript

Scott Orn:

Welcome to the Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. As part of our rebrand and new name and moving all the podcasts over to Kruze Consulting’s website, we’re doing a best-of series. And this podcast is with Monica and Hannah of DataScore. They’re super impressive women, great marketers and you know what, after this podcast, I ended up hiring them for Kruze Consulting. They’re doing a great job for us and I hope you enjoy the podcast. Thanks. Bye. Monica Ohara and Hannah Russin from DataScore, welcome to The 1 California Podcast. Great to have you guys here.

Monica Ohara:

Scott Orn:

Great. Thanks so much. Yeah. So for the audience, Monica and Hannah are actually clients of Kruze Consulting. I get to help them with their financials. It’s been awesome working together and they are experts in I call it like, “growth marketing” and so I was like, gosh I think the rest of our clientele and the audience out there would love to just kind of hear their expert opinions on everything. And so I wanted to have you for the podcast. Monica, why don’t you start off by just kind of telling them your life story? How did you get to this point?

Monica Ohara:

Sure. So actually Hannah and I and our CTO Ismael met actually at a previous startup. It was called Speed Date. It was an online dating startup and we had a lot of fun there.

Scott Orn:

I almost gave you guys a term sheet when I was at LightHouse. I actually remember talking to the CEO.

Monica Ohara:

Scott Orn:

Simon Tisminezky? Okay. I talked to him. Yeah.

Monica Ohara:

Yeah. He’s awesome. Him and Dan Abelon founded it and we had a great time there. So Hannah and I were on the marketing team. I led Growth and we grew it to 25 million members worldwide. So it was quite a rocket ship growing from zero to that and we sold it to Match.com about three years ago.

Scott Orn:

I didn’t know that. That’s awesome. Congratulations.

Monica Ohara:

Thank you. So that was fun. Great startup experience and now Hannah and I and Ismail help other startups grow.

Scott Orn:

Very cool. I remember … I actually met Vanessa, my fiancé and the founder of Kruze Consulting at that time and I met her in eHarmony. But I remember being like this video dating sounds pretty cool. This SpeedDate thing might work and I remember like prepping a term sheet to send to you guys. That’s such a small world. That’s totally crazy.

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

Men are really into video chatting. Let’s just say that. So you guys kind of lived it and now you’re doing it on behalf of other startups?

Monica Ohara:

Yeah definitely. So between Hannah and I and Ismail, we kind of cover the kind of full team that a startup needs like from marketing to engineering and what we found is that marketing is so tech-heavy now that you really have to have like a technical-driven focus to your marketing and so we help bring that to startups and that’s kind of one approach that really helped us win when we were a startup. So as a small online dating startup, we were never going to outbuy the huge Goliath Match.com.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. There’s no way you’re getting up in those two top keywords on Google, right?

Monica Ohara:

Totally. Totally. So there’s no way we’re going to pay $20 a click. So what does a little startup do? You have to be smart and scrappy and sometimes apply technology to better and faster rather than brute force.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. I love it. This is as a little bit of an open-ended question. I feel like I’m putting on a TV but tell us, because Kruze Consulting is kind of like this too but like tell the audience how they should do paid marketing. Like what do they … like paid advertising, what do they do?

Monica Ohara:

Sure. So that’s a great question and I think one thing is, preparation. So we notice that you know, Hannah and I have been consulting for a while and whenever we talk to early stage startups, one thing that is like lacking almost 100% of the time is like a good foundation for tracking and that really kind of is the genesis of having a solid paid marketing campaign and being able to know what …

Hannah Russin:

What’s working.

Monica Ohara:

What’s working, right?

Scott Orn:

Yeah because you don’t know what spend is translating to what if you’re not tracking things, right? You’re just, oh great we got some more customers this month but you’re not even sure if those customers came through your paid marketing, right? It could just have been some word of mouth or something like that.

Monica Ohara:

Exactly. Exactly. And tracking I think to people who don’t marketing day in and day out, tracking can be like very confusing and kind of difficult to wrap your head around and so we try to really help bring that data-driven focus by saying like, okay, here’s what you need to do. Here’s what you need to implement and make it really easy for them to make sure they have the relevant tracking in place. And to complicate things, now, there’s so many different platforms. There’s web, mobile web, mobile, Android, IOS and more. So you just have to think through like where do your customers live and what do I need to do to know if they’re coming to me?

Scott Orn:

This probably is an oversimplification but like, I always kind of default to like Facebook and Google for like this kind of thinking. This is like my R on ramp, right? By the way, we are joking before we hit record that like startups start trying stuff and start experimenting a little bit and that’s exactly where we are and probably most of our clients are. We want more clients, our clients want more clients. We don’t exactly know how to do it. So I was thinking like okay, Facebook. Most of the world’s on Facebook. Most of the people are searching for Google. But are those the right places to start and if so, how do we do that? Or if not, where do we start?

Hannah Russin:

So it really depends on what your overall product is and how expensive your audience is. Like cost varies wildly between what type of product you’re selling, how competitive the market is and what your geo restrictions are. We do a lot of marketing for products that are only available in certain geographies and that’s really cost-restrictive and it’s also channel-restrictive. Like many ad networks aren’t good at finding customers just in one specific part or city. So depending on what your goals are and kind of what your space is, we would choose channels accordingly. I that think Facebook and Google are always decent places to start. The real question is, if you’re in a brand new category space, you could be doing brand evangelism which is expensive and ROI is not good. But if you’re looking at just getting a sense of where your customers are or testing out different messaging, Facebook is great for that. It’s a great crosssection of everybody who’s out there. It’s great for lifestyle brands. And a lot of the B2B customers that we work with could use sort of that direct response marketing technique. Pretty successfully as well. If you’re in finance for example, credit card companies or financial services, those keywords and audiences can be pretty expensive. So you’re going to choose accordingly and base your decisions on ROI.

Scott Orn:

Got it.

Monica Ohara:

Yeah I think when startups begin to think about growth, there is a pretty big menu of things to select from and it can be confusing for what to try. So let’s maybe kind of think about the avenues first. So there’s definitely paid marketing and Facebook and Google are really fantastic sources of traffic that are generally part of most companies’ core marketing portfolio. So those are avenues and there’s lots of other avenues as well like within that, there’s like Pinterest, Instagram and other different ad networks that you can buy from. Then there’s also kind of other ideas that you can get into like “growth hacking” and I say that with like air quotes because I think a lot of companies or people have a difficult time understanding what this means and I think the way that it’s come to be known like in the startup world is that getting users without “having to pay for them”, so not explicitly setting up a campaign on Facebook ads and paying per click for a customer. So we’ll do a lot of these kind of campaigns for customers depending on what’s appropriate for their niche and what we find really successful sometimes is outreach to relevant influencers or bloggers for their category. So we do a lot of that. We actually ended up building some inside tools that we also use for our clients and also sell externally. One of them being ListBuilder.io which allows you to basically scrape a bunch of emails for relevant bloggers and then email them.

Scott Orn:

No way. So like obviously let’s use for Kruze Consulting as an example, if we wanted to have a bunch of big shot accountants talking about us or big startup people talking about us, we could use ListBuilder.io and actually like send them a cold email or a friendly email and say, “Hey, we’re actually really good about what we do. We just want more people to know about this. Can you help us?”

Monica Ohara:

Totally. And it’s not just about sending the cold email but like actually engaging with them, right? So like thinking of it almost like a BD partnership or kind of like a PR play where you’re trying to get the contact information for those influencers and bloggers but at the same time, will also get you like Twitter handles and Facebook pages because one thing we find is like people are so inundated by email now that you have to really stand out as a real human to these influencers and quote on their blog, give them comments on their blog and tweet at them and they love that stuff. Because everyone wants to feel special.

Scott Orn:

Yeah.

Hannah Russin:

So I think to add on to that, when you’re looking at a mass audience of bloggers, you can afford to send emails in the hundreds or thousands and just see who raises their hand and replies and says, “I’m interested.” But if you’re looking at a very select audience, it’s free to do this but it’s actually really time expensive. So a lot of these growth hacking techniques tend to be time expensive. So you’re going to look at LinkedIn, you’re going to read their recent articles, you’re going to mention their Twitter mentions and sort of see what you can grasp on to be like, “I’m paying attention to you. You’re special to me. I’m going to create a custom program just for you.” Like bloggers are really just mini-journalists and you need to treat them with good gloves and make them feel like they are your everything. Each and every one of them. So yeah. But I think there are some really cool ways to growth hack. It’s just the cost is not as upfront but it’s still there.

Scott Orn:

The time expensiveness is I totally get that. And then we actually … because we’re on a bunch of mailing list and people kind of know who we are, we get a lot of cold emails too and when they’re not well done, they’re actually detrimental to your brand. It’s like, oh. We actually had someone, I will not say who this is but someone emailed us to be a client and like generally want to be a client and then somehow a week later, I was on their growth hacking whatever and their emails are so bad. I was like, oh, I just don’t … I don’t think it’s a good … I felt bad for them that their emails just … there was no real connection. It was just kind of like, clearly just my email was added to something and they put me in a program and there’s no customization at all. Yeah. Go ahead.

Hannah Russin:

So like just for example, if you are going to set up a program like this and for example you wanted bloggers to send you traffic and see what traffic converted, your first step is setting up that tracking infrastructure. Making sure that you’re either using your Google Analytics or your Mixpanel or whatever you’re going to do to see exactly what that traffic that each blogger sends you does because some are going to be like intrinsically more valuable than others. And then you’re going to test, right? So you’re going to do batches of say, 50 emails and see what comes back. Then you’re going to see what the value of each of those bloggers means to you in terms of ROI and then you’re going to scale that effort. So I think you know, Monica and I talk a lot about looking for tracking, looking for testing solutions and then looking for traction. And sort of rolling that out in a programmatic way and scaling it up. What can we do in this market that we can copy and do in five markets and ten markets? And just sort of create that playbook of success. That’s really how we would approach a project like that.

Scott Orn:

I love the playbook. You’re talking about kind of regionalized plays or city-by-city or something like that.

Hannah Russin:

Yes. Which happens a lot these days. Especially with app-based projects or products. Like a lot of mobile apps roll out city-by-city now. And so how you are going to sort of enter each market. You can have a general playbook and then you’re making it market-specific. So if you go from SF to Seattle, you have to tailor your messaging, tailor your images, tailor your offers but the same types of activities will likely work.

Scott Orn:

Interesting. Is that like a lot of your client base? I actually really like companies like that and I invest in something like Angie’s List back in the day and my friends started UbanSitter and I love how you can replicate kind of what works in what market. Is what you guys are finding a lot of success?

Hannah Russin:

I think again, it really depends on the product and also I think a lot of product/market fit. If you have something that works and your customers love you and you’ve sort of shown that you can be successful in one city, you can be successful in multiple cities. If you’re still kind of figuring your stuff out and you haven’t really locked down your operations in each city and then you try and scale too quickly, that’s where we see people run into bad Yelp reviews, bad Angie’s List reviews and those things can really stop you in your tracks. So if you’ve sort of cracked that code of being successful in one place, it’s likely that you’ll then have enough product/market fit to scale it up and each of those market entry points can be done through a combination of offline events or fliers or direct mail or radio and then online.

Scott Orn:

Interesting. So you guys do all that stuff for people?

Hannah Russin:

Yeah. I mean it’s really like we’ve both been a sort of like a singlepointed marketing contact at a bunch of companies and so you sort of dabble in a bunch of things and sort of figure out what works quickly.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. Early in the conversation, you kind of … you referred to consumer startups and then like B2B startups. Maybe just touch on a couple of high level points for each category because we have a lot of clients that are consumer and then we have a ton of SAS clients like how do you … how does the playbook differ for different categories and what do you advise those people just sort of very high level?

Monica Ohara:

Sure. There’s definitely a few best practices across the board. So like in terms of tracking and testing, I think that is a bet practice no matter what kind of product that you have. So then there’s really kind of a spectrum. So there’s pure consumer place like the B2C market and then on the other side, there’s the huge enterprise B2B but there sort of started to be this emergence of something in the middle kind of like a prosumer or maybe they’re SMB where it’s like utilities for consumers. So it’s kind of business-oriented or …

Scott Orn:

Or developer tools or things like that.

Monica Ohara:

Exactly. Exactly. Where you have not necessarily like a huge chain of people that need to approve something and sign them all to your contract, like you said, like a developer could just use this and then now the company uses it. So that’s definitely kind of been an emergence. So we see something really interesting on that side of things. So in terms of channels, in terms of paid marketing, they can live across like a lot of the similar channels and one thing that we see that’s really interesting is actually marketing B2B products in consumer channels, but targeting the right people. So that’s just kind of an unexpected thing I think for a lot of people.

Scott Orn:

Is that because like everyone’s on Facebook at night? Or something like that and like you can get the CIO of an enterprise company on Facebook if you’re selling a SAS product?

Monica Ohara:

Yes. The level of hyper-targeting that’s available now in online marketing is crazy nuts and that leads to … that hyper-targeting helps you get the right decision-makers from the click of the button. It’s really amazing.

Scott Orn:

I had a friend who used to target VC firms and actually specific partners at VC firms. This is back in the day through LinkedIn. It was more of a joke. He wasn’t actually trying to sell them anything. He was sending them like crazy messages. It was one of the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. But I know what LinkedIn and some of these other online problems are capable of.

Hannah Russin:

So like for example, let’s say you wanted to reach partners at ten VC firms and you had looked on LinkedIn and identified which partner at each VC firm was the most relevant to you. You could go onto ListBuilder, type in their URL and their name and potentially find an email that is valid to reach them at and then craft a custom email being like, by the way, noticed you’re doing this and really tailor your approach so that you’re speaking to them on a one-on-one basis. That’s kind of the timely best practices way to go about it. If you wanted to reach a thousand VC firms and you had to be less picky, you could certainly scrape directories and then willy-nilly email them all.

Scott Orn:

Those willy-nilly emails don’t work that well though.

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

Not for VC’s. Yeah. But in terms of, I think your point about how you can get B2B buyers through consumer channels, I think that’s super interesting. Like have you guys dabbled with like Instagram or some of these other kind of … or Snapchat? I don’t even know that much about their marketing power. Are they effective? Like what are you seeing?

Monica Ohara:

So I think that these new platforms as they come available like Snapchat and Yik Yak or whatever it is that’s hot at the moment are really awesome opportunities for growth hacks. So one thing that seems to be a common use case for a lot of startups is being the early adopter on a platform and figuring it out before anyone else has figured it out. Whether that’s figuring out in terms of growing a user base and then being able to market to them effectively and speak to them effectively and capturing their attention. So I think for startups, it’s really important to be on the pulse of whatever is hot and current and what is emerging because you’re going to tap into early adopters if that’s your user-base. That might be where you want to be.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. That’s Facebook like six years ago, right?

Monica Ohara:

Scott Orn:

Exactly. Yeah. And so have you guys done any programs on Snapchat or Instagram? Or are you seeing it … is anyone doing that kind of stuff?

Monica Ohara:

So I think that kind of stuff tends to be a little bit under the radar in the realm of growth hacking. So those are kind of things …

Scott Orn:

Are you saying you can’t disclose it?

Monica Ohara:

That might be kind of things that we can’t disclose right now but in like five years you’ll hear about like on some podcast.

Scott Orn:

It’ll be like you’ll be driving down the road in your Ferrari and be like, yeah Snapchat really worked in 2016. It was awesome.

Hannah Russin:

We definitely done some tests, Periscope, video, they’re not really a podcast. They’re more like almost like video vines for various dating products that have been pretty fun to produce.

Scott Orn:

Oh wow. Periscope’s like the real-time live video right? On Twitter?

Hannah Russin:

Yeah. Just trying to see how we can get communities to show up for different things and what really resonates and then flip that around for our clients and be like, do this.

Scott Orn:

As you noted earlier, men really like video chatting so I’m sure they’ll like Periscope too.

Hannah Russin:

They do. They do. And it’s really about what you don’t show in sort of like in a very soap opera way. How do you get people’s attention by being engaging and sort of telling a story without actually showing anything that meaningful.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. That’s a good way of describing that. I love it. Hey we’re taking a quick break from our interview with Monica and Hannah from DataScore for a word from one of our friends in the community.

David Bergeron:

Hey this is David Bergeron from T3 Advisors. I wanted to say thank you Scott for having me on The 1 California the other day. I also wanted to make sure everyone knew if you needed real estate help for any of your technology company, founders, friends, et cetera, don’t hesitate to give us a call. T3 Advisors, David Bergeron, hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

Scott Orn:

Okay. So I interrupted you but you were talking about the first step is kind of setting up all your tracking and then starting the test and like what are some ways that people test? Is it like buying $50 of Facebook ads a day or is it … like what do people do that works? Or what would you recommend?

Monica Ohara:

Right. So the second most important thing is definitely testing and coming out of the gate with a really well thought out segmented plan. So from the start of things, your goal isn’t to spend a ton of money and scale right away because you don’t even know what works. So to know it works, what we generally recommend is we have a rule of thumb that you should spend your first several hundred dollars of your budget trying to understand what works by testing as many permutations as you can. Your limit to testing is really only what permutations you want to test and when I say permutations, that can be a combination of ad copy, the physical creative in it, the targeting and all those different combinations can produce different results for you. And so you’re really only limited to your budget and how many permutations that you want to test. And our rule of thumb is that whatever your target acquisition cost is to acquire a new customer or a lead or whatever it is that you’re trying to produce, you want to have devote at least three to five X. Your CPA, we call that cost per action or cost of per acquisition to testing. To understand if that permutation works. So that’s kind of a good rule of thumb and so we usually out of the gate set up a multivariate test and see what works and then go from there.

Scott Orn:

So if a lead is worth or you’ll pay $50 for a customer, you would recommend spending $150-$250 testing a bunch of different permutations out.

Monica Ohara:

Scott Orn:

Exactly. By different copy like hey, try whatever that get people’s attention or maybe different photos in the ad or whatever it is.

Monica Ohara:

Letting that one permutation run for that budget because otherwise if you spend too little, so there’s kind of like two errors that can happen in this side of things is people test too little budget and get a new jerk reaction and turn things off too fast before they’ve even had enough chance to optimize itself and you know, to actually see what’s working on a statistically significant basis.

Scott Orn:

Don’t people need to see an ad a couple of times before they click? It’s like some awareness actually helps? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just one of these people like I’m not going to click on something the first time but if I see it a couple of times, it’s more real to me. Something like that? Or am I just weird?

Hannah Russin:

No I think certainly if you are doing advertising on a couple of channels, something like TV or radio, you do need to hear it multiple times and be like, oh okay. They’re still around. I’ve been thinking of doing it. I’m going to take that action right now. For Facebook, I think a lot of what you’re seeing is probably retargeting where you click on an ad one time, you went to J. Crew, God help you and then you’re seeing J. Crew ads for days. Sometimes I think that might be a little overzealous on their part. You can set frequency caps so you’re not like stalked on the internet.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. I’ve been stalked by many retargeting but it’s also pretty effective. Like you do remember it, you know?

Hannah Russin:

You can do for example on retargeting something like time delayed messages. So the first week you see one message, the second week you see another. You can thread coupons in there. You can also do retargeting based on if somebody visits a website that’s like yours. Certain companies offer that service as well. But it’s really just figuring out who your target customer is and how to hone in on wherever they are online or offline and sort of speak to them in their language. It’s not that you’re selling the product itself, you’re selling the end result of what that product is going to give you. So is it peace of mind? Is it like more energy? Whatever it is, that’s what you want to convey in your ads.

Scott Orn:

That makes sense. And just for the audience, I may butcher this but retargeting basically like Facebook or Google gives you a little piece of code that you can put on your website and so whenever any of us go to that website, you’re now kind of like automatically entered in this database of a visitor and you could retarget up to six months. And so you may go to J. Crew and they may send their first retarget out a month later.

Hannah Russin:

So it’s not quite as creepy as that sounds. You’re not at a database. You’ve been cookied and there’s nothing wrong with being cookied but basically, they’re tracking you in a non-personally identifiable way. So it’s not you but it’s your browser and you went someplace and now you’re going to see those ads. And six months is a little long. I feel like most cookies usually have a life of two to three months max these days. Even less. Depending on how people purge their cookies. But yeah. It’s not that we know everything about you or your name.

Scott Orn:

Also, this isn’t you Monica and Hannah doing this. It’s like Facebook is doing this or Google’s doing this.

Hannah Russin:

Yes. Exactly. Yeah. Or AdRoll. There’s companies that specialize in just this service. So yeah. The degree of specificity of the ads and the types of targeting that they can do change a little bit but yeah. It’s just online.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. That was a good public disclaimer right there.

Hannah Russin:

Got to catch those things.

Monica Ohara:

Yeah. It’s a hot topic in online marketing but I think relevance is good for everyone. I’d rather see ads personally that are more relevant to me than not relevant. So hopefully that’s used for the good and not for these evil things that could happen. But on the testing side of things, here’s a pretty easy kind of like three-step testing process that we recommend to everyone. So the number one thing that people forget to test is what you say to your customers. So your ad copy and then maybe the image if you’re doing anything visual like in your creative. So the copy is a super powerful way to relay what it is that you do and why they need you and to get them to buy it now or sign up now. So those components are things that should be iterated on all the time. Even simple word changes like saying ‘Buy Now’ versus ‘Shop Now’ can have like a really huge impact on your ultimate lifetime value and conversions. It’s really kind of mind blowing. So number one, don’t forget to test various ad copies and creatives for your campaigns.

Scott Orn:

On that note, because I’m huge believer in copy. I worked at an e-publishing company and I learned how powerful copy was. Do you recommend someone works with an expert? Like how do you folks service your clients in terms of copy?

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

Talk to your customers. Interesting.

Hannah Russin:

If you can’t hire somebody, please talk to your customers. Ask them what they liked about your brand. Why they bought your brand. What they are interested in and what resonates with them. If you can’t talk to your customers or you don’t have any customers, survey people. Go to a mall, take detailed results, go have about twenty conversations. That’s the cheap and dirty way to do. Then there’s things like Survey Monkey or UserTesting.com but you know, a lot of your initial copy suggestions should come out of exactly who you think your target audience is and what they told you was the best thing about your product.

Scott Orn:

That’s really great advice. That’s amazing. Yeah. And people do forget to do that like all the time.

Hannah Russin:

All the time. Surprising. That’s sort of one of the number one things that we ask. Have you talked to your customers lately on a regular basis? The happy ones and the unhappy ones. Taking that time is crucial.

Scott Orn:

Unhappy is a really good call too. That’s interesting.

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

Yeah. Okay. So working on the copy, that’s the first step.

Monica Ohara:

Yes. And then, after you’ve actually run a couple of ads, if the marketing platform that you’re using to produce those ads allows you to kind of slice and dice the demographics, you want to see who has been responding to your ads. So like for example on Facebook, you can do an audience report and see is it men or women that are buying? Is it people who are over thirty or under thirty? And I think a lot of times, our customers are super surprised that who they thought was their target audience just isn’t. So …

Scott Orn:

Like what’s an example of that? Like you know, you thought women were buying stuff but it was really men buying it as a gift or something like that?

Hannah Russin:

So we worked with a company that deals in sort of sport experiences and there was a strong hypothesis that we had that their customer base was going to be mainly male but it turns out that women really like the idea of a not exactly chaperoned but a guided experience. And so we think that it’s resonating a lot more with women because men just like to go out and try things on their own whereas women might be more comfortable with having somebody who knows the ropes and wants to sort of get a feel as they try something brand new.

Scott Orn:

If you break your leg in the wilderness, there’s someone there to save you.

Hannah Russin:

Oh that would be so nice. Yes exactly. Rock climbing alone, not a good idea. Don’t do that. Yeah.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. Okay. Awesome. So kind of breaking down the audience report and making sure you know exactly who’s buying from you is super important.

Monica Ohara:

Totally and that might change your total perspective on your business because if you find out that hey it’s not men who are buying, maybe that completely changes like who you show on your landing pages and how you frame everything and who you really cater to, right? So …

Hannah Russin:

Even your color choice.

Monica Ohara:

Exactly. So that’s definitely another thing to test and lumping that back into the copy and imagery. And then last thing that you want to check when you’re trying to optimize your campaigns is platform. So we previously mentioned like with tracking, there’s so many platforms. There’s desktop. There’s mobile web. There’s Android and IOS.

Hannah Russin:

Can you tell us what mobile web is? Because I feel like a lot of people actually don’t know what that is and it’s confusing.

Monica Ohara:

Sure. So mobile web is when you go on your smartphone and you open up a browser and you look at things there instead of downloading an app and experiencing the product through that. So mobile web is a huge and growing source of traffic. It’s also the most heavily under-optimized experience that startups and companies in general have. They just don’t think about mobile web because everyone focuses on your website and how that looks on the computer because that’s what you develop on and then your app. But mobile web for a lot of companies is sometimes over 50% of their overall traffic, it’s kind of crazy and it’s super un-optimized.

Hannah Russin:

So it’s like when I’m browsing in Chrome and the first thing that I see is do you want to go to our mobile website or stay within the browser? Is that what we’re talking about?

Monica Ohara:

So there’s definitely two different ways to experience a mobile website like Hannah mentioned. So the old experience on mobile web was to have basically your normal website shrunken down into the browser and then you kind of pinch and zoom to see what you want to see. And that was a really horrible experience for most consumers because I mean no one wants to do that. It’s just difficult. So with the way that things have moved with technology, a lot of companies are now able to produce mobile responsive websites and things that just look really good in a mobile browser and are easy to tap into and expand and having a mobile-optimized site is awesome for your SEO.

Hannah Russin:

And potentially to buy things on like I might just check out on my mobile website for any sort of shopping experience. So you certainly want to forget that if you had say, something you are selling on your website, right?

Monica Ohara:

Yeah. Definitely. I think one of the number one things that we see when we’re trying to optimize a client’s conversion rate is that usually one of their platforms is really lacking in conversion. So as a first stop in terms of optimizing, we might just suggest to turn it off that kind of traffic until they can optimize that platform. But if that platform’s working, awesome for them. We’ll scale that all day long.

Scott Orn:

And you might fix like a lead input form or maybe if the checkout thing or something but there’s like we recently were told that one of our little lead form wasn’t working on I think it was like Internet Explorer or something like that and we’re like, oh shoot but then not many people use Internet Explorer.

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

Maybe you don’t even want those kind of customers. So it’s a good filter. Not many like Series A startups are surfing the web in Internet Explorer but you know what I mean. You just got to fix these things and make sure it’s actually working. Okay so that was a little bit of digression I caused so thank you for answering those questions. So after you do the iterations like testing a bunch of stuff, then you get your kind of report on who’s actually buying and you really kind narrow down who your target is, the third step was?

Monica Ohara:

Getting traction. So now you’re ready to scale and this is like the exciting piece. This side of things, it’s people think you can just open your budgets and then boom, the traffic will flood.

Scott Orn:

Everyone wants to just write checks and have money come back towards them. Not that simple, right?

Monica Ohara:

I mean that would be great but there’s a lot of things that you still have to plan for successful growth and a well-planned growth. So depending on the channel that you’re using, you might need to add more keywords for expansion if you’re doing SEM. If you’re on Facebook, you might need to build out more segments that converts so that you can tap into more reach but at the end of the day, one really important thing that’s also a hot topic right now in marketing is being able to leverage algorithms and programmatic buying. So what that means is that you’re able to use really sophisticated algorithms from Facebook, Google or whatever platform that you’re buying from to help you optimize your campaign. That doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it but you have basically some brain power that can do things much faster than a human looking over your shoulder and helping you. So being able to know what resources are at your fingertips and what levers you have can really help.

Scott Orn:

For example that might be Google or Facebook knows that the people who are converting in your offer actually look like this other sub-group over here that we’re not smart enough to really think about like we don’t think about that but Facebook who has a profit incentive to try to get you to spend more in advertising does that work for you and basically says like oh you should target this other group. They look exactly like the group that’s working for you right now.

Hannah Russin:

I think that makes sense. I think another way to think about scaling up is to sort of think of you found a channel that works. You found a landing page setup that works. You’re comfortable with your ROI. Now how are you going to expand what’s working to different niches? So let’s say for example you have a website about dating and you’ve worked really well with one very specific demographic. Now how can you treat that to expand to multiple demographics? How can you create an experience that works for them just like you did for that first group?

Scott Orn:

And do you go back in that test phase again? Iteration phase and then …

Hannah Russin:

Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s definitely as soon as you’re switching your target audience at all, you are doing that same sort of making sure everything is being tracked correctly, testing and then iterating based on results but I think you want to make something that people love and that they want to tell their friends about and then just repeat that. And so if you are for example just skinning your pages differently and changing your language a little bit but the core product is the same, sometimes that’s actually enough to just make the difference and be like, hey they took the time to make something that speaks to me. They just happen to do that to 150 different groups.

Scott Orn:

But that’s okay. They don’t know that because they’re not in the groups.

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

Exactly. Cool. Okay so this has been amazing. Can you kind of tighten the bow? I know it’s a lot to ask. How do you summarize like your advice for … because that would be like, there’s always an amazing beginner course so that people kind of know how to get going. Part of the answer to this is, hire a professional like you guys, right? How would you summarize this and maybe I’d also just love for you to tell the audience like where they can find you if they have this problem. If they need help in growth marketing like give a little plug on yourself too.

Hannah Russin:

I’ll do some of the summing up and then Monica can help me if I miss anything but first, I think it’s make sure that you’re tracking infrastructure is sound that you know what’s going on when people are actually getting to your site or getting to use your product. Then talk to your customers. Make sure that you’re dialled in to the best agree with who your target audience is and what they say about you. Then you’re going to test channels. So running whatever budget you feel comfortable with and then seeing how those tests go and iterating and then once you find something that works, building that out a hundred, a thousand times until you’ve reached scale.

Scott Orn:

Yeah that’s a really good summary. That’s awesome.

Hannah Russin:

Scott Orn:

I hope so. That was a lot of pressure. I really put you on the spot there. Sorry.

Monica Ohara:

Yeah. So for startups that want to grow in a data-driven way, just focus on the three T’s. Tracking, testing and traction. So tracking, making sure you know who converts, testing so that you know what converts and then traction so you know where to push and how to grow. So if they just focus on those three things, that’s a good step. And another tip that a lot of people forget about is that there’s lots of documentation on the internet that especially like if you’re buying on Facebook, they’ve got great documentation. Go read that. Like you’re not reinventing the way a lot of people have run into the same problems you have. So definitely read that stuff. You can also check out DataScore’s blog. We’re helping people all the time with these things at DataScoreInq.com. And if you have questions, we’re happy to help you too. So feel free to reach out and we work with a lot of startups that are in the same position where they’re trying to figure out their marketing strategy and we’d be happy to help.

Scott Orn:

That’s awesome. Monica@DataScoreInc.com?

Monica Ohara:

Scott Orn:

Sure. Yeah. You can email me at Monice@DataScoreInc.com. Awesome. Thank you ladies for coming by. This has been so informative. This is like really hard stuff. Like you said it perfectly in the beginning like people want to do this. They experiment but they don’t really know how to do it like in a scalable way.

Hannah Russin:

It’s tough. If you figure it out, it’s a beautiful thing. So let us know when you find things that work especially if you have a niche-oriented product. We’re always interested in those stories.

Scott Orn:

Or call or email DataScore.

Hannah Russin:

Definitely.

Scott Orn:

Awesome. Thanks for coming.

Monica Ohara:

Scott Orn:

Thank you. Buh-bye. Thanks so much for listening to The 1 California Podcast with Monica and Hannah from DataScore. We really appreciate you stopping by. On our way out, we’re going to have another one of our friends from the community say a quick word. Take care and we’ll see you next week.

Amber Merrigan:

Hey 1 California. Amber Merrigan here with Avison Young. Thanks so much for having me on 1 California Podcast. If you have any questions about startup real estate in Oakland, I’m your girl. You can reach me at Avison Young, Amber Merrigan, Oakland.

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