Chris started working in digital marketing after college with no web experience but quickly learned everything he could. Chris bumped into Matt Walde, a fellow web entrepreneur, downtown and shortly after joined him at Advision Marketing in 2011.
Brent Weaver: I’m Brent Weaver and you’re watching uGuru’s, the most watched web series to become a more profitable and in-demand web professional. Today, we’re hanging out at AdVision Marketing in Denver, Colorado. I’m hanging out with their Vice-President of Business Development, Chris Kampfe. Welcome to the program.
Chris Kampfe: Thank you.
Brent Weaver: So, where’d you get your start in digital?
Chris Kampfe: My first career out of college, I was hired by a travel company as a copywriter. And because I was far and away one of the younger folks in the office, I became sort of the de facto we guy, which I had no background in. And fortunately the company was based out of the U.K. and I wanted to do some travel after college and this company just happened to have the, excuse me, a good fit for traveling abroad because I wanted to travel after college. I wanted to get more professional experience in that career, or excuse me, in the digital marketing sector.
And they sent me to England to train with their digital marketing team. So, right out of school I got to sit with their SEO person for six to eight weeks, their paid search person for six to eight weeks, their web designer, their email marketing person, and so it was a pretty comprehensive training which had, I guess pretty much from that point charted the course of the rest of my career and today to be in the digital marketing space.
Brent Weaver: And how did you get involved with AdVision?
Chris Kampfe: So, in 2011, I was doing some independent consulting and was renting some office space down in the Loto area, and I bumped into Matt Waldie who actually had been running AdVision for several years at that time, and we both happened to be from Omaha, and we both happened to be doing a lot of work in the paid search SEO space, and it was just too serendipitous.
So, we after sort of intentionally staying away from each other for a little a while, decided this is dumb, let’s get together, and it’s more or less history from there.
Brent Weaver: And so now you primarily, you’ve got this Business Development title in your name and your title, I assume you’re the one going out there and getting new clients and that kind of thing?
Chris Kampfe: Yeah, to some degree. Well, yes. A lot of our business right now is referral as I imagine, most smaller agencies, businesses or new business generations. The Business Development kind of title for me at this current time in our agency’s growth is more very genuinely just fielding in-bound leads. We’ll get referrals from partners, from existing clients, from just folks that we happen to know like you. I would say, “Hey, go talk to these guys.” And the, I think need for business development individual at our company was not so much that we need a proactive outreach, but we needed a proactive on boarding process to get into the production as seamlessly as possible.
So, it wasn’t, you know going to hit the streets and knocking on doors. It was a lot of people were doing that to us, but it was just managing that influx of interest.
Brent Weaver: So, how would you say you would define a typical customer for AdVision?
Chris Kampfe: By and large, the types of folks that we work with are more interested in lead generation. So, we do have a number of ecommerce clients that we work with or other businesses where the digital objective is very transactional, somebody puts down their credit card and then they just get the product or service instantly, Ala, Amazon, something like that.
But, as we’ve moved more in the direction of in-bound marketing using marketing automation and a lot of content marketing, we’ve found that where we see that work particularly well is in professional services. So, we work with a number of healthcare industry folks, I’m try to think, some web design agencies. Really it . . .
Brent Weaver: So, it’s you guys actually working for other web design agencies doing in-bound for them.
Chris Kampfe: Right, right, yeah, because we actually don’t do any web design. So, the . . . and actually the origination of kind of this type of service in and of itself that we’ve found was when we were doing only paid search a lot of the problems that our clients were encountering were not a derivative of the traffic that was coming to their site, or the lack of traffic, or the lack of quality with the traffic. It was some general feeling, some evidenced and data based feeling that the traffic is good, the site just isn’t quite working.
And we delicately wanted to tell people you need a new website, but maybe they had just gotten a new website. And so when we came to discover different tools like Hub Spot or there’s a number of other ones out there, we realized that we then had the ability to make incremental increases to conversion rates without having to burn their website down and build it up again. That actually led to a lot of relationships with design agencies who we needed to integrate these, excuse me, these software platforms with, and they ended up becoming partners, clients, and so that’s kind of how that started.
Brent Weaver: So, we have a lot of web agencies in our audience and I’m interested. What do you guys see as the number one problem with their websites or what they’re doing wrong to convert some of that traffic into good leads for them?
Chris Kampfe: Good question. First of which I’d say is probably persona development. For us, that’s a very commonly overlooked aspect that we help our clients with is trying to really understand who are you trying to get in front of and what are the needs that they’re trying to satisfy that you might have a solution for. So, if your client is an independent business owner versus a marketing director, they probably have two very different needs or they’ll use two different sets of language to describe what it is they’re looking for, for you to solve.
We start there as the origination and a lot of marketing companies probably do the same thing. But then understanding iteratively how to take that persona and create an ongoing dialogue with them to establish you as, I guess the source of trust and truth in helping them solve that problem. So, if you are a design agency, you might look into . . . Well, you start with the idea that you’re trying to solve a problem, but then follow-up with, how can I establish that I’m the best person to solve this problem?
So, first problem is, we’re not getting enough business from our website. Okay. Well, what type of business? We’re trying to get more clients for our such and such business. Well, what are your client’s interested in? What types of magazines do they read? How do they engage in different types of content online? How can you replicate or produce content that looks like what they like that addresses either the specific type of problem that they’re trying to solve or issues that are ancillary to that.
And then third, how do you integrate technology to support that dialogue. So, is it a drip email campaign, is it getting blog subscribers, is it, you know whatever that might be.
Brent Weaver: Do you find a lot of other web companies come to you with, oh, we work with small business or something like really broad and how do you guys help them to kind of focus their energies a little bit?
Chris Kampfe: That’s a really good point, very good question. I don’t know that most companies come to us with, we work with small business, but it is broad to your point. It’s probably more along the lines of, we really like working in a particular industry, but the industry is very general. So, it’s like, we really like working in healthcare. Well, does that mean you work with actual practitioners, do you work with insurance companies, do you work with companies that provide supplemental services to the healthcare industry, and really try and laser in on that because a marketing message for a physician’s clinic is very different than an insurance company.
And so what we try and do is actually get . . . help them navigate within the larger vertical, what are the more core verticals that we can segment off a message to specifically.
Brent Weaver: What would you say the percentage of your clients that are actually web pro’s versus just mainstream type businesses?
Chris Kampfe: Actually we don’t work with a whole lot of web pro’s specifically. We do work with a hand full. I would say from a percentage basis it’s probably 5% web professionals, 95% a wide array of industries.
Brent Weaver: Okay, that definitely makes sense. So, you guys say you do in-bound marketing. So, it comes to like that work. How much are you guys doing versus how much are your clients doing? I guess . . .
Chris Kampfe: Sure.
Brent Weaver: Mostly around like content creation or ad campaigns and those types of things. A lot of web pros I talk to, they’re not sure, like how much they’re supposed to do versus how much their client’s supposed to do.
Chris Kampfe: Yeah, great question actually. This is something has been a big push of ours to solve over the past probably six or eight months because we’ll work with clients that are in very niche industries that we don’t think that we have the expertise to actually write about it. So, maybe it’s a very obscure piece of software and that software appeals to a very niche industry that we don’t have any experience in, and initially we would have looked at something like that and said we can’t write about this. I don’t know anything about that area and can talk about it with a level of specificity that’s going to be reflective of the expertise that our clients are looking for.
What we ultimately found was that from just a project management perspective, one of the biggest hurdles that we’ve dealt with personally, that web professionals that we work with, as partners deal with, is getting content from clients whether that’s image assets, whether it’s copy, whether it’s video, whatever it is it might be. And to circle back on your question, initially we probably allowed 50% of our clients to do that themselves. And now, we probably handle 95% of it. And there’s always a little bit of a battle because everybody thinks, oh, well I can blog or I can write an eBook. And the debate is not over whether they can do it, it’s the debate over whether they will do it. And more often than not, they have their own businesses to run, so they don’t have time to produce an eBook or something along those lines.
So, we’ve gotten some pretty good systems in place to harness the knowledge that they have and use our resources to actually produce the content that hopefully everybody feels is reflective of their expertise and their thought leadership.
Brent Weaver: How do you guys structure your in-bound projects? Are these, like mostly retainer based projects or are you guys doing one off campaigns through your clients?
Chris Kampfe: They’re almost entirely retainer based, but that’s almost the nature of the longevity that is required for them to really work. So, it’s not that we would help somebody out with just kind of a onetime project, I guess if you will, but the nature of content marketing is as we believe it and understand it is that your primary goal is to establish trust and expertise with your clients, and within your industry. Being that it’s not a transactional relationship like Amazon, you go to Amazon, you want that book, somebody buys that book. It’s a longer term relationship, so it requires more content and it requires a longer term nurturing exercise.
So, just as an example, if you were going to some professional for services that would be thousands of dollars and you really wanted to trust them first, you would go visit their site multiple times. You would vet that person. You would, I guess read different pieces of content that they’ve produced to really understand either, A, is this person truly an expert and B, does their service philosophically methodologically align with what I’m preparing to spend a lot of money on. And so just the nature of the fact that the buying cycle in professional services is so much longer leads into us having longer term engagements with the folks that we work with. And it’s generally our belief that if we can continually show a positive ROI on that effort, those will be relationships that’ll last a long time.
Brent Weaver: How important is paid search within you guy’s content marketing campaigns you guys are doing.
Chris Kampfe: Critical. We actually started as a paid search agency and iteratively evolved into other services. From a content marketing stand point we really sort of see three primary service components of what we do. The first of which is traffic acquisition. The second of which is going to be onsite optimization. And then the third is going to be lead nurturing, lead management, database management.
So, from a traffic acquisition stand point, there’s quite a few channels you can pursue right now and there’s only an increasing number of them. We would typically make the argument that paid search is going to be the lowest hanging fruit from a traffic acquisition stand point. So, search SEO and paid search people are always going to debate one way versus another. They’re all good as far as we’re concerned. Paid search just has a level of predictability to it that makes it the lowest of the low hanging fruit. If you’re looking for a Denver dog walker and you’re doing SEO, which you should be, you have a somewhat mitigated sense of control over your ability to drive organic traffic because at the end of the day Google very much controls that.
In paid search, Google levels has actually given you more direct levers that you can pull and it may cost a little more. It does cost more in most cases, but the level of predictability that you get and the guarantee that you get associated with those dollars, I’d often argue it’s worth it.
Brent Weaver: How do you push kind of the organic boulder up hill in terms of selling, right, because that’s a question that comes up all the time is, my client wants to know when. When will I be number one? When will I be on the first page of Google? How do you guys position? I assume that’s part of your pitch at some point.
Chris Kampfe: Sure.
Brent Weaver: If you’re doing organic, how do you guys position that with your clients and what kind of promises do you make?
Chris Kampfe: Sure. It’s a great question. Well, the promises are, I guess kind of two-fold. We don’t promise results. Anybody that does results, I think is exposing themselves to a degree that it’s probably uncomfortable. It’s probably a scenario where you’re setting yourself up to have a difficult conversation with your client, but we do promise that we’ll never do anything that would adversely affect you, we’ll never do anything that Google has outright said this is bad. We do promise that we’ll deliver what we say. We do promise that we’ll make you aware of any trends that are coming up in SEO, any best practices, any shared use cases of somebody who’s maybe in a similar industry has SEO’s that we have seen work.
But, in terms of responding to the question, you know when am I going to be at the top, it’s a tough question to answer. If you were starting a company right now where you had a new idea for a credit card, it’s incumbent upon us to tell you what Visa, and MasterCard, and American Express are doing from an SEO perspective, the years of, I guess back log credibility that they have in the search engines, and just what’s in front of you to overcome that. Often times those conversations go down the route of, well, let’s look at a different channel. If you were . . .
Brent Weaver: So, essentially you’re saying like we could look at SEO, but the likeliness of you actually getting any results from that are like nothing. You could pay us to do that, but it’s very likely…
Chris Kampfe: Well, it depends. If you were starting a Denver dog walker, the likelihood that we could get you on the first page or even the first position in a matter of months, potentially weeks is very high. And we have a number of case studies where that’s true. Typically what we try and do is just look at a cost benefit of the competitiveness of your industry and the budget required. It’s not that even if you’re in a hyper competitive industry, you couldn’t find ways to make SEO work, but it’s all a cost benefit analysis. So, SEO like anything else is also something that we encourage people to think about as one tool in their marketing belt. It’s just the tool that you have to exercise the most patience with. It works phenomenally for some people. It works, I wouldn’t say poorly for others, but if they’re in an industry where it is very competitive you need to tap our expectations.
Brent Weaver: So now, you as an individual, you been in this market and this space for a long time. Do you have any daily, weekly, or monthly practices that you’ve been able to keep up on that have helped you get where you are today?
Chris Kampfe: In terms of my own sort of professional development or . . .
Brent Weaver: Yeah.
Chris Kampfe: Sure. So, one of the things actually that we did, I guess we started about a year ago was came to the realization that none of us are sales professionals. So, we did hire a sales coach that helped us in a variety of capacities. I think, I would argue one of the most useful capacities was really understanding how to properly scope a project. Under promising and over delivering are two kind of concurrent things that we strive for and so being able to ask the right questions that set you up to scope a project where you can almost ensure that has been really helpful.
So, we keep regular hours and meetings with our coach.
Brent Weaver: Is this just at a leadership level or everybody in the company kind of gets taught how to sell?
Chris Kampfe: It actually started company wide and then as it became apparent that we all needed to have individual areas of expertise, it became more or less siloed into me being the main point of contact, and the main person that develops that for our company. But, it definitely trickles down into everybody else as a project comes in. The people that are actually in the production execution of that have a strong understanding of the way that it was sold so that they can execute on it appropriately. Yeah, just sorry, does that answer that?
Brent Weaver: Sure. What kind of trends are you guys following right now?
Chris Kampfe: Content marketing in and of itself is going through a very interesting trend. I think the idea of content marketing in its inception was just really being viewed as an authoritative figure in your space. So, the more you wrote about a subject matter, or produced video, or blog, or whatever it is that you might be, that in and of itself would be enough once snowballed to get our business or get you to the top of the search engines, or whatever it is it might be.
As that, I guess mindset effectively proliferated and more people were actually doing that, it opened up, I think mental space for people to say, I know I need to be producing content, but I could also be doing something more clever with that content. So, the first aspect of that became probably a integration with email marketing. So, moving away from sort of the if you build it, they will come, if you just have a lot of content on your site, people will find it. While that still rings true to some degree then we had to proactively get that in front of people. So, we built an email database where you go about acquiring that, however some people do and get your content proactively in front of people that might not be looking for you.
Right now what we’re seeing a lot of is ad serving platforms that are really built specifically for content marketing. Some of these things are Outbrain or Meltwater. Essentially they operate very similarly to other publisher networks, but their value proposition really seems to be aligned with somebody who is reading a piece of content online, maybe on a news site, and your piece of content gets integrated into that site. So, those platforms operate very similarly from a logistical stand point how many other media buying channels would. As simple as a Google display network, but they just serve your media differently. That’s probably the most interesting one to us.
Leaning on top of that, the Publisher Network and the Data Exchange Network with the content syndication is really probably one of the forefronts of what we’re trying to really solve right now for our clients. If you have a particular content type and you have a very specific demographic audience, and a very specific sort of niche within that demographic, so they’re into crafting. How do we use your content to get in front of this demographic that has that interest off of your site and then bring them back on? That’s probably one of the more interesting things in our space right now that we’re trying to figure out.
Brent Weaver: So, like, I mean can you give me an example that like when I read an article and then used one of those networks to publish that article then drive that content, that traffic back to my website.
Chris Kampfe: Yeah. So, let’s say you worked for an organization that made supplies for people that were into crafting. Well, on the one hand you know from a, I guess a demographic stand point who your historical clients are. So, maybe they’re men in between 30 and 40, but there’s a lot of men in between 30 and 40 that are not interested in crafting, but you know there’s a subset in there that is interested in crafting. So, if you just hypothetically went to ESPN.com to push your content to that ad network, there’s a high likelihood that you’re going to get in front a lot of people that aren’t interested in crafting although they are your target demographic,
So, that’s where you layer in the Data Exchange Network. So, the Data Exchange Network is going to ensure that you can still show on ESPN.com to a male demographic between 30 and 40, but you’re actually just showing to the people who have as a by-product of their historical behavior online, shown an interest in crafting in some capacity. And so it’s marrying your content to the persona type, to the sites that they go to and making sure that those are all in line, that you are having a very targeted ad spend, and mitigating any waste or fat in that ad spend.
Brent Weaver: And how do you guys bill your clients in terms of Ad Spend? Is it . . . Do you guys have a flat rate and then just Ad Spend is above that? Are you guys charging a percentage of . . .
Chris Kampfe: We usually have a floor with a percentage that scales. The idea being that as the ads perform more effectively, hopefully the data will elucidate that, you’ll increase your spend, and everybody wins.
Brent Weaver: Cool, very fascinating. Well, Chris, we appreciate you taking the time to hang out with us today. I wish you all the best. Hopefully, we can check in with you some time in the future.
Chris Kampfe: Absolutely, thank you.
Brent Weaver: All right. Well, stay tuned for more good content from uGurus.com.