David Koves of R2G Digital: “You need a team of great experts in their respective field”

You need a team of great experts in their respective field. If you are hiring, hire people that are smarter than you. You want to be there to facilitate but you want to give them the ability to really handle and lead their own respective departments so that you can focus on growing your company […]

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You need a team of great experts in their respective field. If you are hiring, hire people that are smarter than you. You want to be there to facilitate but you want to give them the ability to really handle and lead their own respective departments so that you can focus on growing your company independently while the team is working on delivering the most exceptional results that they can. Enable people, give them responsibilities that are just a little bit out of their comfort zone and your efforts will pay off 10 fold.

Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.

In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Koves.

David Koves is a former Googler who decided to follow his passion and make digital growth easily accessible to online businesses. As the CEO of R2G Digital, he has built the company with his co-founder Gabor Kalman. Daily, he runs general business operations including finance, accounting, HR, and culture. His background prior to R2G Digital includes studying his Master’s at IE Business School, Madrid as well as working at Google building and leading teams responsible for the success of the company’s multi-million dollar projects. Together with his remarkable team, he works daily to help brands scale to 8 figures in revenue by analyzing data, gaining business insights and formulating strategies for various clients of all shapes and sizes in the ecommerce space.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I grew up in Hungary and thoroughly enjoyed living there but early on I wanted to strive for a better and more challenging life. This was the catalyst for my entrepreneurial journey. I left Hungary at the age of 19 to study abroad and after spending a few years in Vienna, I landed in Madrid. I joined the IE Business School, a top ranking international business college and was granted a $15,000 scholarship as well. Since I was studying at IE and was actively involved in the digital marketing community, Google reached out to me. They flew me to Dublin where I went through a rigorous 8-step interview process and they hired me to work for the Google Ads Department. Given how Google is such a well recognized name the world over, I knew this would be a game changer for me. I spent 2 years in Dublin to then be moved to the US and offered my “back-then” dream job! 2 more years at Google made me prepared for the entrepreneurial world. That was over 6 years ago, as since then, I’m focused on running and growing R2G Digital, a boutique ecommerce focused performance marketing agency out of New York, NY.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I started my career at Google, we had to work on a lot of account builds, optimizations. One of my clients was dealing with beds and mattresses and as it turns out, a lot of people are looking for “non-family safe” terminology on Google, involving beds and mattresses. Shortly after launching, we started noticing a large amount of traffic on the website, with a very unusual bounce rate. Essentially, a lot of people clicked and left right away. When I investigated, I realized that many of these users were following terms that would better fit in the “adult category” versus our desired audience. Needless to say, I have quickly reviewed the negative keyword lists and corrected the initial mistake, making sure, no NSFW traffic can ever reach my client’s site again. Main takeaway: Use negative keyword lists extensively!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There are so many people along my journey that I owe my success to. Firstly, my strong family background. Growing up in a Hungarian Jewish family really helped me shape my values about life. My grandfather taught me to always take risks and don’t be afraid to embark on an adventure on my own. He survived the Holocaust and came back stronger. He was always a role model for me. He was the one that recommended me to fly to Madrid for an in-person interview (vs the online alternative) and I strongly believe that I got admitted to one of the best Masters programs in the world because of the extra mile I was willing to take. I always tried to go above and beyond when it comes to giving back and creating long lasting connections, as I firmly believe that a good deed won’t go unnoticed in the big scheme of things. I would not be where I am today without the countless allies and friends along my journey, including my peers at school, my friends with whom I grew up together, my always supporting family, and the countless mentors I encountered along the way in Google. Above all, I would not be anywhere without my current team at R2G. Each and every one of them are brilliant, highly knowledgeable in their respective fields and share the same mindset as I do. We are a unit and I wouldn’t be talking to you if it weren’t for their hard work and dedication.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My company, R2G’s mission is to help digital businesses break out from the old silo system and achieve meaningful revenue growth through innovative and data-driven advertising techniques. To give you an example In 2020, we successfully launched an e-Commerce strategy that helped several clients reach 7 and 8 figures in revenue leveraging the power of ads, copywriting and creative design all under 1 umbrella. One of our biggest success stories include bringing a client from just under $1M in revenue to over $12m within 16 months. As a company we are focused on our vision and values and believe that success will follow. I also strongly believe in having hands-on relationships with my clients which helps us create more meaningful work for them, making them value our partnership. We are a small company, and this allows us to take on a small number of high priority clients (vs the volume-based mindset in bigger agencies)

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I feel that being hungry for success, focused and having the ability to take risks was instrumental to my success. You have to be hungry enough to be willing to go the extra mile. Do you need to stay up late to achieve your goals? Do it. Do you need to learn a new skill to be able to support your clients better? Do it. When you are young, anything is possible. I was relentless when it came to enhancing my skill set and serving our clients the best way possible. I also feel that one must not forget their humble beginnings and find more meaning in their work by helping others.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we are working on a new tool that will help ecommerce businesses seamlessly optimize the customer journey on their respective websites. Conversion Rate Optimization will become more and more important in our field and having the right ads with the right creative and right conversion funnel is a recipe for success. We are currently running a Beta program for our AI tool and seeing early signs of success.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.

  • One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is that they do not reach out to their consumers with a consistent story which ensures that their brand identity remains clear over time. Consumers want to connect with a brand on a personal and emotional level and they want something to buy into, so that they feel proud for supporting your brand. The sooner companies realize this, they will be able to build on consumer loyalty.
  • Another thing that many businesses forget about is that they need to layer their marketing efforts to be truly successful in their digital marketing efforts. For instance, in the top of your marketing funnel, you should simply be focused on creating awareness. This is where your potential customer will meet you for the first time, and you want to be sure that they come back for more. In the middle funnel, you need to reiterate your messaging and pitch your story. If as a business you have done well enough with your first impression, then consumers will want to journey deeper into your story to learn more about what you really have to offer them.
  • At the bottom of the funnel, this is where you will want to make them feel confident in their choice to open themselves up to your brand/story. Here, you will want to create an environment in which they will feel safe to invest their time, money, loyalty, etc. It all begins — and ends — with a clear and strategic CTA.
  • Lastly, I would strongly suggest anyone who wants to grow digitally to try out multiple channels for acquisition, including Facebook, Google ads, and Email marketing. You can’t just focus on Facebook as your customers are all over the digital sphere. You have to stay away from the old silo-approach and diversify your efforts until you find something that works for you and your customers.

If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

At R2G , we have identified 4 key elements to creating a highly successful digital marketing campaign. These 4 differentiators are:

1. Product-Market fit — It is important that the product you are trying to advertise is unique and it has unique characteristics so it can speak to the market and customer. If your product is widely available on the internet, on Amazon or Google, then it is not unique. If it is available in other places at a cheaper price, then it is not going to work. It is important to have a product that is unique to the target audience you are trying to reach as well as a product that has the ability to connect with the customer. It has a story, some history and background that people are able to connect with on an emotional level.

2. High-quality creatives (images and videos) — If you have the right product, it is also very important that you actually spend some money on getting really high quality imagery and videos to work with. People are visual beings and their purchase decisions are often impulsive. The best way to show them how your product is unique and different is by telling a story with your creative assets, showing your prospective buyers a video of your product, your customer testimonials or letting them experience the “arrival of your product” through an unboxing video. Those are extremely important elements to creating a purchase intent among your audience.

3. Outstanding copy (ad-copy and website-copy) — Even though you have everything you need, you have to be able to tell a story. For that you need to be a storyteller. By telling a story, you make your customers imagine the product in an environment that feels relatable and comfortable. You also have to be able to tell a story with your ads. For example, when we worked with a well known home goods company selling weighted blankets, we really tried to tap into the customer’s needs and the uniqueness of the product. We told a story about how it helps people feel more relaxed, sleep better and eventually reduce anxiety. We also took a playful turn with the ads and showcased people sleeping under the product while sheep were jumping over them as they fell asleep. Essentially a twist on the counting sheep concept. I think it’s extremely important that you can connect your product with a deeper purpose and a genuine attempt to help your customers.

4. Superior advertising expertise on multiple channels — Last but not least, you have to have superior advertising expertise on multiple channels. If you only rely on Facebook, for example, it can be a very choppy, sometimes unpredictable experience. For that reason, you need to work with a team that understands how to leverage different channels at different times of the year, and how to make sure that your money is being spent based on platform performance at any given time. Sometimes Facebook is being a little choppy, we reallocate some money towards Amazon or Google, and vice versa. So we have the ability to really move things around, based on what we see in the overall market. Keeping up with the latest changes on each platform will enable us to waste way less money than someone who just started doing this. We understand exactly how your market is and how your target audience responds. As a result, we are able to create a truly accurate shopping experience for your customers that they will enjoy and eventually end up purchasing your product.

Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?

That’s a loaded question. I think it depends on a wide variety of things. The product, the audience, the offer, time of year, targeting method… etc. We usually look at it this way. If you have an already established brand that is in need of scaling, you should use the mixture of Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon ads to fully saturate the market with your product. Facebook is very good for creating awareness and recognition about your brand as you have the ability to use innovative, eye-catching images and videos. Facebook is an impulse based platform where people are inclined to buy your product as a result of the emotion/connection you are able to generate with your advertising. As opposed to Facebook, search based platforms like Google, Microsoft or Amazon ads are intent bases. People are searching for something, they are further down the purchasing funnel and are closer to actually buying the product they are seeking. For that reason, Google ads can be used as the middle and bottom of the funnel.

On the other hand, if your brand is new and there is no brand recognition, I would advise to start with Facebook/Instagram ads to generate enough interest and connection around your brand. Once that is established, you can look into retargeting with Google (Retargeting for search ad campaigns).

To finish up, once you have both Google and Facebook taken care of, you can think about introducing more channels like Microsoft ads or Amazon. (Amazon can also be a standalone solution, depending on your market, product and price competitiveness)

Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?

You need to know your audience. If you don’t know who you are targeting, you might as well throw your money out the window. You also need to know how to target your audience with the various tools these PPC platforms offer you. Last but not least,you need to know your numbers. You can only be successful if you are 100% aware of your cost of acquisition, return on ad spend, margins, average order value, customer lifetime value and overall finances of your organization.

Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?

Again, you need to know your audience. You need to know what makes them tick and you need to have the ability to offer them a solution to their problem. (pill vs vitamin) People need a pill, but they don’t necessarily need a vitamin. So, be sure to be the pill to their issue. Other than that, you need to be able to write your message in an engaging way. If you are able to tell a story with your emails, people will be more likely to relate to your brand or offer. 
Thirdly, you need to know the technicalities of email marketing. Deliverability, SPAM issues and other technical requirements for successful email marketing.

What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?

I love tools that help us do our job better. We use various automation tools to create a better customer experience when it comes to ads. It start from research (Spyfu, Junglescout, Internet Explorer) and goes all the way to script based automations (eg. Optmyzr). On top of these, we also love getting inspiration from Google Trends, Facebook ad library and our own conversion rate optimization tool, Datamilk.ai

Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?

1. Great interpersonal skills — This means that you need to be able to adapt to your environment and anyone you talk to. You need to understand their personality and understand what they need. You cannot just start pitching to anyone you talk to, at any given time, you need to listen. Listening skills are extremely important. And by understanding what people need, understanding their pain points, you can really address their deepest emotional needs. By providing exactly what they need after listening to their problems, issues, aspirations and dreams, you will be able to create a strong bond between you and your potential customer. When you work in a business like this, you have to be able to hop on calls when needed, and meet people if needed. You have to be able to really adapt to the environment in which you are in. Be genuine and honest about your intentions and about your desire to help people. If you are able to do that, people will like you, people will sympathize with you, there will be chemistry, and that’s already a good start.

2. Uniquely identifiable expertise/specialization (backed by past experience) — You need to be able to offer something that’s different from everyone else’s offer. It can be a simple thing or it can be a very complex new system you came up with. Overall, you just have to have some special sauce that will get people to listen to you. For example, in my case, that meant that after working for Google, my uniquely identifiable expertise was Google ads. I was able to start talking to prospective customers by explaining to them how I am uniquely qualified to work on their exact problem, addressing their exact need. That’s a unique expertise that you back up with past experience to allow you to really create unquestionable authority in your field.

3. A highly organized system — Nothing works without a system, you can land 10 clients today, but if you don’t have a system to process everybody, a system to help you stay on top of your tasks and your deliverables, everything is going to fall apart. What you really need is a project management system where you log everything. If you are working with anyone, you need a great communication system, where you can quickly and easily check on each project. Systemized processes help you create and follow standard operating procedures that will become the lifeblood of your business. For instance, what do we send out before each call? How do we put together a report for each week? How do we create a strategic plan for the brand? What do we look at on the website to determine whether it’s going to be successful or not? Every single question can have a standard operating procedure and the better you are with systems and organization, the higher your chances of scaling your company.

4. A team of great experts in their respective field — You need a team of great experts in their respective field. If you are hiring, hire people that are smarter than you. You want to be there to facilitate but you want to give them the ability to really handle and lead their own respective departments so that you can focus on growing your company independently while the team is working on delivering the most exceptional results that they can. Enable people, give them responsibilities that are just a little bit out of their comfort zone and your efforts will pay off 10 fold.

5. A good amount of luck — This is something that is not measurable. You just need to believe in being lucky because luck I believe is created. It is not just being given to you. You need to work really hard to be lucky and the harder you work the luckier you get. Obviously, you need a lot of luck in life in general. Sometimes you just need to go ahead and put your head down, put in the work and luck will follow.

Those are the five things that I consider the blueprint, so to say, to being successful, but of course everybody has their own story. Everybody has their own version of how to become successful. But I believe if you take care of these four elements, and then you also get lucky, you should be at a good place.

What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I read a few magazines like Entrepreneur or Fast Company. On top of that, I’m always on the lookout for conferences that will help our team get better at what we do. These include Retailx, Traffic & Conversion, IRCE and a few more. Other than that, I like to listen to mindset podcasts and read about consumer psychology as well.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would try to make advertising universally accessible to anyone that owns their own brand. If we could start a movement, it would definitely be focused on providing a 360 degree infrastructure for people in need. I come across several brands that have a good idea, maybe even a good product, but they could never afford high quality content or a full-scale agency to work with. What ends up happening is that these small brands start working with freelancers of questionable expertise, and get burnt.. Oftentimes get burnt more than once.

As a result, they usually give up on their ideas and stop pursuing them. This is heartbreaking as there are so many people that put in their blood, sweat and tears to make their dreams come true. Only to realize that building a brand from nothing will cost them a serious amount of money.

If there was a universal solution that would help these brands excel and experience growth in an organized way, we could change a lot of lives!

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can visit us at www.r2gdigital.com and sign up for a call to discuss how R2G is changing the game for ecommerce businesses.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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