Discover how Jesse Mullins from Ooze Studios helps clients build their successful branding and revenue growth by applying data to digital marketing strategies. We’ll cover:
- Q: Can you introduce yourself and share with the audience about your inspiration? How did you get into digital branding and marketing?
- Q: How do you see applying data to digital marketing and digital branding? Do you see it’s a benefit to your clients?
- Q: When you first work with new clients, what is the very first thing you do with them? Do you create a client brief?
- Q: How do you collect data for persona development? Do you use some tools or analytics or interview the client?
- Q: What are some of the services you are helping your clients these days?
- Q: Can you walk us through your process for creating effective content for your clients?
- Q: What do you see that some of them miss in their process that would make their content more effective?
- Q: Do you have any tips or bad practices for that scenario where the writer requires short services?
- Q: What advice would you give to startups and companies who have a low budget but want to do content marketing effectively?
Q: Can you introduce yourself and share with the audience about your inspiration? How did you get into digital branding and marketing?
My background is that I graduated with a degree in mathematics, and I didn’t know how to use it, so there were a few options to go down after it, and I didn’t want to go into theory and go too heavily into its science.
I wanted to get into real-world practicality, so I went on this journey about eight to ten years long, working both client-side and an agency side, working for finance and marketing, and so through that, I gained what I think is a pretty unique set of skills.
I can look at both the finance and the marketing simultaneously. I’d say five years ago, I quit my job and started Ooze and have been working with it full time since, and it’s been an incredible journey. But what’s the core of it is the power of content. The path of content is excellent.
We need to look at the last 100 years worth of bad power of content and how the ad in the industry has changed and evolved. Content marketing has been diluted through social media, and there are as many discussions around that. But what I wanted to get back to was the power of quality content in digital branding and digital marketing as well.
Content has always been at the core of branding and what’s interesting is that 20 years ago, it was all about the content being king. We’ve seen an adverse reaction: the quantity of content is king when the core is quality content. So that was a driving force because I saw a huge opportunity to create that quality rather than quantity for digital branding.
Q: How do you see applying data to digital marketing and digital branding? Do you see it’s a benefit to your clients?
Yes, it does 100%. I always advocate for measuring and setting your measuring stick before going on your content adventure. So what does success look like? Because When you’re talking about a brand awareness campaign or digital branding, a general content marketing campaign is the biggest flaw; you don’t know if it’s been a success or not.
The content marketing strategy should revert to an ROI even if it’s brand awareness; there should be a calculation. There are going to be more assumptions than an acquisition campaign. It will be more clinical when you can see direct money in and direct money out.
But there should still be some assumptions beforehand to have that measuring stick. I’ve just seen it too often where there’s a pay and spray method. There’ll be a hundred articles created for the sake of it without any deep understanding as to whether it’s working.
That mass background has also not only given me a real insight into data but it’s given me the scientific marketing approach. What is the hypothesis? What is the method, and what is the conclusion that we’re expecting from our digital marketing strategy?
Because again, if you’re doing everything with insight and you’re doing everything with foresight, it means that your campaigns are going to run better, and you’re going to learn from it.
Because at the end of the day, with content marketing, in general, you’re not talking about doing ad spending; you’re talking about creating content, whether it’s video or articles, or social media posts.
So that still has a cost of someone’s time, someone’s project managing it, someone’s making it all time. Therefore, understanding those insights and foresight the hypothesis and conclusion can help drive better results of brand strategy.
Q: When you first work with new clients, what is the very first thing you do with them? Do you create a client brief?
This is paramount to every new client we deal with, and we do deep and meaningful research. We look at both internal and external data, both quantitative and qualitative. So it’s essential to get people’s opinions as well as stats when creating a digital branding strategy for them.
We don’t make any assumptions like a traditional assumptions. The client feels very confident about x; therefore, that must be true so that we will listen and hear, but then we’ll try and validate that assumption. Because if this is not true in all cases?
Generally speaking, clients come to a digital marketing agency because they’ve got a problem; either the marketing isn’t working, or they want to try something new for a digital brand.
There’s a problem because there have been the wrong assumptions in digital brand marketing. So it’s vital at the start before a pen is put to paper, fingers put to the keyboard, that those assumptions are validated.
There are many different techniques that you can do to develop a digital brand strategy, but it comes down to good research skills and again coming back down to the hypothesis method and conclusion.
Once we’ve worked out who we’re talking to, what are their pain points? What are the considerable benefits that they want to encounter? Then we identify a macro feed, and that macro theme will usually last a quarter or a season.
Once we’ve determined that, we’ll create a bunch of subtopics underneath that. Because what’s important is you don’t just create content for the sake of creating content; it should be part of a good customer journey and a good customer experience. So if you can help the client’s customer, I’ll just refer to them as the customer and the end-user.
If you can help the end-user and have a better experience, a better journey, then you’re doing your job well, and everyone’s busy. That’s the fact, and that’s part of life. You have a few seconds or potentially a few minutes depending on how engaged the audience is.
Still, the quicker you can convey the message of these sub-topics connected to a macro theme, the more likely you are to share this macro theme.
What helps us get across concepts to end-users is not just creating from the center. There is a quarterly structure and a quarterly macro theme, and we see good engagement because the regular end-users can see that interconnectivity.
They can see the connection and start getting this new concept or product line. They get it because I find marketing to be very interlinked with communication. If you want to change an individual or a group of individuals’ point of view or if you want to change their mind, you have to say the same thing over and over in different ways until they get it.
So that’s what marketing is. You need to tell them the same thing repeatedly without changing the message, without changing the images, and without repeating the same thing. That’s not going to work. Repeated communication in different styles and formats to convey a macro topic is a perfect way to start.
Q: How do you collect data for persona development? Do you use some tools or analytics or interview the client?
We take interviews where possible, but it’s always not possible. When possible, we interview the clients and the team members. If it’s not possible, we do a pretty detailed internet search. You’d be surprised at what people like to write and how frequently they want to give their opinion.
So through some very selective processes and areas, we can pick up subtle nuances based on what people write on forums and various platforms. So that’s qualitative research. Then you’ve got the quantity which is more around keyword trends, more around industry trends, and then going deep dive into industry reports and using SemRush tools l to help get that deeper macro understanding.
But the thing I would advise, though, is always taking that macro understanding with a pinch of salt. It gives you a guide, but it’s about combining that macro and micro because the quality of the opinion is about the individual.
It’s one person at a time that you’re getting information from, and that’s the micro; you’ve got the macro which is the general search trends, et cetera. It says where these two pools of data intersect. If you want to get geeky, it’s about what that Venn diagram looks like, and that middle intersection is where the juices are.
Q: What are some of the services you are helping your clients these days?
We haven’t niched through pain and grip. It’s an easy option to identify a particular industry, one specific service, and go hell for leather in that; we specifically didn’t choose to do that. We have gone broad and horizontal.
We helped b2b clients BDC clients, allowing us to double in size over the pandemic. Because we are so agile and the reason we can be so agile, we use a marketing scientist approach at the core of all of our digital marketing strategies.
We can help any industry of any size, any client, and help them grow. We can help them acquire new clients, retain current clients, and create customer advocacy.
We can provide some nitty-gritty services, like content writing, PPC, and advertising through Facebook instead of Google, youtube, LinkedIn, etc. We are good at digital PR strategies as well.
Q: Can you walk us through your process for creating effective content for your clients?
Fundamentally, the two most important things are having an upside-down triangle format and a hook. The upside-down triangle format is where all your best pieces of information within your content piece sit at the top or are at the start.
If it’s a video, you have little seconds to grab someone’s attention and keep them watching. I often see that the best pieces are left to the end. But, by that point, you’ve lost 90% or more of your audience.
Therefore, that takeaway that you want to convey, you’ve lost that opportunity for that. So I get the strategy of putting the juicy stuff at the bottom because you’re trying to entice people to read all the way to the bottom, whereas I’m telling you that the data says that it doesn’t work.
You have seconds and then the hook that could be a title, first sentence, or subheading. No one will bother reading it if you don’t have an attractive hook. That’s true for email, articles, ads, social posts, and everything else.
As humans, we’re curious. I don’t advocate for clickbait; it’s a lie. You’ll see at the bottom of most major news publications now all these ads have “celebrity x has done x,” and then you click on it, it goes to an entirely separate article; that is the definition of clickbait. But, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to lie.
You have to create and intrigue; that’s the fundamental component. Instead of making statements, ask questions. Instead of giving away the whole central point in the headline, create an entry to find the answer to your major factor statement. Because if you do that, that will increase your engagement both from open and reading.
Q: What do you see that some of them miss in their process that would make their content more effective?
I have seen a few content writers that they’ll be given a brief, and they’ll go straight from brief to article creation. Sometimes, that works if the subject is relatively straightforward if the client needs no subtle nuances; that’s almost like a standard process.
But what we found is that whenever there’s a semi-complex content idea or content message to get across, there should be an intermediate step, and then there’s an outline. Later on, that outline allows the content writer to convey their research to show their ideas and enable a feedback opportunity with the client or the brand.
Some people might see it as extra work, but that extra step saves a lot of time. Again, it might sound simple, but you’d be surprised at how many content writers skip that, and then they have to do three or four revisions at the end because they missed that.
Q: Do you have any tips or bad practices for that scenario where the writer requires short services?
In that scenario, you’re going to need the outline stage. No matter how good a content writer is, how senior, or how experienced or excellent they are, they’re never going to get it the first time. So in this instance, you don’t have that one-month onboarding phase but just be prepared for short feedback loops.
Because you don’t want someone spending eight hours going off on the attack, going down the wrong road, going off on a tangent because it was miscommunicated over a couple of sentences in brief. It’s almost like herding wild horses.
You found this fantastic horse; you wanted to ignore that analogy. I would go on a random route without taming the horse, but you don’t want to tame the freelancer; that’s a weird analogy. So the point is those short feedback loops are significant, don’t expect them to get it the first time.
Q: What advice would you give to startups and companies who have a low budget but want to do content marketing effectively?
With new businesses and startups, you have to be lean. Lean is paramount, so I’d say keep it lean, don’t create a piece of content for every platform or every different channel. Think of it as if you have a content idea; you can choose to create a video of it, you can decide to make a long article, a lead magnet, or whatever medium you choose to convey that idea across.
Then choose your distribution channels, and then you’ve got this one idea that you spend a lot of time on. That’s where the quality comes in because you spend the time on it and then distribute it in your channels.
What I see, many people create, dilute the idea, and don’t spend a lot of time on the idea. They’ll spend a lot of time on the different channels to promote it. While the focus should be at that very start, the focus should be on the quality of the content.
The other strong piece of advice I’d give is that not all social media platforms are created equal. So there are only two social media platforms at the moment that have good organic growth; that’s TikTok and LinkedIn.
On the other hand, you need to pay pretty much to get a following like on Facebook and Instagram. On Instagram, you can grow organically, but you need to spend more time. As a business owner and a startup, if you spend all that time organically growing your Instagram account, you’re not spending it right.
If you get someone at a meager cost per hour, you’re still not getting a good ROI; however, on LinkedIn and TikTok, you can get good organic growth; it depends on your audience. If you’re a consulting firm, LinkedIn works.
If you’re an energy drink, tech talk is a better solution. So don’t treat all social media platforms the same, and those two platforms I mentioned are still good at organic social growth.