By focusing on the things that glorify God, such as caring about people, making a positive impact, and using the gifts that I have been blessed with to bring honor to Him through my words and behaviors, then I am able to prioritize what really matters.
Asa part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Kelly Hopping.
Kelly Hopping serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of Capterra, a company that helps organizations around the world find the right software for their needs. Kelly’s passion for branding and product management began at Kraft Foods, prior to Dell, where she managed a variety of brands including Chips Ahoy!, Nutter Butter, Breakstone cottage cheese, and Kraft string cheese. She believes in bringing the art and simplicity of consumer goods brand management and demand generation to the technology world. Kelly holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure if I would call it funny, but more eye-opening…one of my first major marketing launches was when I was an Associate Brand Manager of Chips Ahoy! at Kraft Foods. I was lucky enough to get to be a part of revolutionizing the cookie packaging landscape with the launch of resealable packaging on Chewy Chips Ahoy! This was a game-changer for consumers who hated trying to squeeze the plastic cookie tray back into the package and eat them before they got stale. This new packaging allowed them to access their cookies easier and keep them fresher by pulling back a tab and resealing when they were done. We were determined to brand this thing and to get credit for it in the market. We did a ton of testing and finally landed on the term “Snack ‘n Seal” and then spent millions trying to build the Snack ‘n Seal brand. This lasted only a few months before we finally realized that consumers only cared about the benefit to them, not our own prideful branding or unique technology. Putting yourself in the place of customers allows you to focus on the benefits that really matter.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Explore every aspect of marketing. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into one marketing channel. Each one uses a slightly different part of your brain…some more analytical, some more creative, and others more operational. Over the last two decades, I have spent time in brand management, advertising, creative design, content development, demand generation, product marketing, new product launch, vertical marketing, digital marketing like SEO and SEM, partner marketing, communications, marketing operations, and analytics. They are most effective when they all work together, so cross-functional exposure will help keep you engaged and challenged and should help accelerate your path to senior leadership.
Great advice. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. As you know Google and other search engines constantly update their search algorithms. Today, do you believe that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still an important part of any long-term marketing plan? Can you explain why?
Yes, absolutely because consumers have been trained to go to Google first when they start their search. Great content with a highly connected back end all help our domain authority and increases our search position. However, the fight for SEO real estate is real. Google-controlled content and ad space are increasing, and organic search results are showing up further down the page.
So yes, Google is always changing their algorithm and in many ways, making it more difficult to drive organic traffic back to your site. That said, there is still a lot of opportunities to use SEO as a direct marketing channel and also as a supplemental effort on top of other efforts, so it’s well worth incorporating into your long term strategy. Any business already doing some version of content marketing should consider optimizing at least some of that content for SEO. From the start of the content creation process, SEO tactics around keyword research can be incredibly helpful in understanding what topics people are interested in and what topics require content to help answer. Armed with that information, you can be more confident that any marketing campaign you run (email, paid, social, etc) will have an established audience.
While you’re distributing that content via other channels, be sure to still optimize that content for SEO, targeting folks in other places in their evaluation process. The huge benefit of SEO traffic is that it is essentially free, so it’s well worth your time to repurpose from other channels if relevant. It’s also evergreen, so if you create some content or a page that’s really useful, you have the potential to drive traffic to that page for years to come.
Lastly, as you continue to build helpful content related to your brand, you’re more likely to have potential customers finding you in different places via different, but related keywords, increasing your brand recall with them and multiplying the opportunity they’ll convert on your site.
Can you share some basic Search Engine Optimization tips you have for less experienced marketers?
- Spend a lot of time understanding keyword research and how search intent plays into that keyword research. For instance, if you have a keyword you want to target with a piece of content, spend time digesting what is currently ranking. Is your content on par with what’s out there currently — both in terms of the topics covered and also the quality of content? If you want to target a keyword with a blog article that currently ranks a lot of product pages on other sites, there might be a disconnect.
- Understand the category dynamics. For example, what are the questions in the “People Also Ask” box? What are Google’s auto-suggest outputs? These are easy places where Google is telling you what topics are related to your target keyword. If you want to create the most helpful, comprehensive page related to a keyword (something Google should reward in theory), you’ll want to look to these places to make sure you’re covering everything you need.
- Ensure that content is always helpful, relevant, and aligned to search intent.
What “3 Non-Intuitive Marketing Strategies” have been most effective for you in your industry?
- Embedding form fills into paid social ads — I don’t know what it is, but removing that extra step of clicking on an ad and then filling out the form increases a consumer’s willingness to submit their information and complete a conversion. We tested this concept in Q4 and saw a 77% reduction in our cost per acquisition in the first 3 weeks.
- Running integrated newsjacking campaigns — When there is a macroeconomic conversation happening (think Coronavirus, presidential election, etc), the ability to tap into that dialogue with meaningful data captured in compelling content and then promoting that across social, email, PR, and search immediately creates relevance and trust in your brand. For example, given the public safety concerns right now about Coronavirus, there is a natural opportunity for our business to focus on business continuity and remote collaboration.
- Market to businesses like consumers — In B2B marketing, we always try to limit ourselves to marketing business solutions through the same, boring B2B channels (e.g. LinkedIn, business publications, airports). The reality is that the people making those decisions for businesses are regular consumers. Beyond the B2B channels, they are on social media, they are reading the sports section, they drive down the highway. The real challenge is finding a compelling message for B2B advertising that will breakthrough in the busy consumer advertising space.
If you were only allowed to run paid ads on 1 platform (in your industry) over the next 12 months, what would it be and why?
I would run Google Ads. The sophistication and targeting options of a Paid Search campaign allow you to be effective at any stage of the funnel, against multiple KPIs, whereas most other ad platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Bing, etc) have more limitations around segmented audiences or buyer stages. Also, when you are buying ads on Google, you are investing in your future growth through a relationship/partnership that can support any size of business, against most any tactic, with insights beyond the campaign. In other words, you can leverage things like Auction Insights to find out who your top competition is, get customized solutions from Google to meet your business needs, or gain insights into trends and data in your industry that will transform your long-term strategy.
One more question! You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I am a huge believer in accountability and taking responsibility for your actions. I struggle with people making excuses, finding others to blame, hiding behind the truth in silence, and being critical anonymously. There is nothing more disarming than just honestly, authentically apologizing when you screw up. And, that integrity inspires trust far beyond what it was before that situation. If people could show their flaws and be willing to admit their mistakes, then I think there would be a movement toward real candor and transparency, enabling us to have deeper, more authentic relationships and conversations.
Thank you so much for sharing so much value with us!