SEO is still in the game: Some people say that SEO is dead. Even if Google has now become this ever-changing, mind-bending, frustrating jigsaw, there are still many ways to get traffic and leads with SEO. Of course, you can’t just keyword-stuff your website like in the old days; you have to actually offer value to your readers. Google is trying its best to act like a human, and what do humans want? Answers to their questions. When you have interesting insight to share with a community, along with your product, you can gather quality leads to your website through SEO. We’re the living proof of this: we invest a lot of time and energy in our SEO strategies, and to this day, the majority of our sales still come through organic means.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Antoine Paré. Antoine has been in the fields of digital ecommerce and marketing for over a decade. Ranging from marketing analyst in a large corporation, to web marketing specialist in a small agency, to independent consultant for small and large business alike, he’s been involved in the ins and outs of inbound marketing, analytics, SEO and SEM for years. Antoine started as a marketing consultant at DashThis, where he is now Chief Operating Officer and Partner. DashThis is a digital marketing reporting software for in-house marketers and digital agencies alike.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was always passionate about marketing, even before I knew what it was. When I was young, I loved watching tv shows about ads and advertising; I even dreamed of being a marketing director!
Very soon in my career, at the age of 19, I had to learn digital marketing the hard way; I started as a marketing/e-commerce intern for an insurance company. My first experience was pretty intense: they put me and a colleague in charge of creating a transactional website. Why us? Well, they just assumed my young age meant that I knew about digital technology enough to create a transactional website… me, the intern! We first tried traditional marketing to promote this new insurance product and its website, with mailing promotions, but it really didn’t do anything for us, we had to find a better way.
Digital marketing was still very new at the time, but it was incredibly promising. When I heard about it, I couldn’t wait to try it! The possibilities were endless: you could track everything easily, and even target your audience… it was quite revolutionary. On top of that, it was cheaper than traditional marketing. The minute I started working with Google Analytics and Google AdWords, I realized that digital marketing was the place to be and that traditional marketing was basically dead already.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
Going from marketing consultant in a 8 person team, to COO and partner of a constantly growing digital business, with clients in over 70 countries.
At 29 years old, I went from a freelancer to a partner and COO. These were really formative years; we had to let people go, hire new employees, buy hardware, office supplies, and basically create an office out of an empty concrete shell with wiring hanging from the ceiling. Being both suddenly in charge of not only a business, but also an increasing number of employees was quite surreal for me, thank god my business partners were there to manage a lot of it.
Now we’re Canada’s 58th fastest-growing company, with a staggering 1302% revenue growth in the past 5 years and clients in over 70 countries. We keep up the growth year after year, so we must’ve done an OK job!
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Once, I decided to manually find all the car dealerships’ addresses in the province of Quebec and send them a printed pamphlet by mail, just to try to sell a new car insurance product. It took months of hard work, and nothing, absolutely NOTHING came out of it.
The lessons I’ve learned from this:
○ Don’t market something by traditional mail;
○ Don’t manually search for anything that takes that much time;
○ Don’t do outbound marketing;
○ Do inbound marketing;
○ And, I’m really not made to work in an insurance company.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
DashThis was created to solve an existing problem amongst digital marketers. The number one goal was to solve a problem, not just to make money out of it. A lot of SaaS are created by developers or business-people, and a lot of these companies will think of a product and then wonder what problem it can solve, and how they can market it. They’ll fund their project with venture funding and quickly create a company.
On the other hand, Stephane, our founder, built DashThis for his own marketing reporting needs, at first. He quickly realized that his solution was a great business opportunity, so he then decided to market the tool. This being said, our founder, myself, our CEO, and a large part of the team, are all former digital agency owners and/or employees; we understand the daily struggles of creating marketing reports. Basically, we’re our own target market. We know what marketers need and what their pain-points are, which really helps us provide our clients with the best possible solution.
The fact that we started as a solution to a problem before even thinking about being a business, made us think differently than most SaaS do. We did not get venture capital funding to boost our growth; instead, we decided to bet on a solid product backed by good marketing strategies and amazing customer service. Up until 3 years ago, we did not even have a marketing budget. It was all inbound marketing, all the time. Yet, our bootstrapped company has grown 1302% over the past 5 years.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently improving the way our system fetches data from several of our existing integrated marketing platforms, particularly Instagram. Instagram is relatively new in the realm of digital marketing, but it’s gaining a lot of traction. As this media platform evolves and gains both traffic and popularity, we need to evolve at the same pace and offer an adapted solution for our users.
Every improvement we make is to help marketers and agencies save time by providing them with easy-to-understand data. No marketer or agency has time for complicated big data analysis or business intelligence (BI), they just want to know if their marketing campaigns paid off, if their CPC is good, what they need to change in their marketing strategies, and what’s working out. They don’t need to spend hours trying to digest meaningless numbers. That’s why we help marketers gather all their marketing data, and keep reporting as simple as can be for them.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lessons that others can learn from that?
Once, while I was working in an insurance company, I asked for a promotion. My boss wanted to give it to me, but said she simply couldn’t, due to the very tight structure in place. That’s when I understood two very important things: 1) That the typical big corporate structure wasn’t for me, and 2) That I needed to go get what I wanted myself and never depend on anyone else to get to where I want to be.
From then on, I became a lot more fearless, and started taking risks in order to be where I wanted to be. The steps I took from there were the ones that really brought me to where I am today, and that’s when I started being successful.
The lessons I’ve learned is that you can’t expect to score a goal without shooting. In other words, you can’t expect success without trying, and taking risks. The only way to be sure you’ll never succeed, is to never try. Once you stop fearing the worst, that’s when you start having success. It might not always work out, but at least you’ll learn from your experiences and you will be ready for the next opportunity.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
First off, always be open to trying new methods and strategies — not only are you more likely to thrive and find success, but it’ll keep you on your toes, keep you from getting bored, and keep you asking yourself questions that’ll help you grow as a marketer.
Another very important piece of advice is to work with a great team that will help and support you; people with different backgrounds and qualities that can complete yours, challenge your ideas, and even kick your ass whenever it’s needed. Having the support of your peers, boss, and employees is crucial, and will help you thrive and get through any tough times.
Last but not least, as important as it is to work hard, you also need to listen to yourself and respect your limits. Stop for a minute and see if you’re still going in the right direction. You don’t want to get exhausted for no reason, working on a project without knowing if it’ll bring you anywhere in the end.
And remember to keep in mind that marketing isn’t everything. Drop your phone, go out, breathe. It’ll be good for your personal health, but it might also help you find the solutions you were looking for. Some fresh air can give you the inspiration and ideas you simply can’t force out of your brain sitting in front of a screen.
How do you define “Marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
People seem to think that marketing is all about ads and promos, that it’s a one way street of marketers feeding ads to the public. In reality, marketing is all about understanding your audience, finding a way to give them a product that will provide value for them, and making it accessible. Marketing starts with understanding your audience’s needs, building the right product, choosing the right price, the perfect distribution method and finally, creating a promotion strategy. The promotion part is simply one of the numerous steps involved in marketing.
Not only that, but marketing is also about starting and maintaining a conversation with your audience. Every piece of a marketing strategy is a method of “talking” with certain people. Everything from your price point, to advertising campaigns, to content marketing… these are all your brand’s way of educating people on what you do, how you do it, and how it can help them in their own lives.
The more you understand your audience, the more you can give them what they really need.
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 about that?
My business partner, Phil.
He gave me the chance to prove myself while he was owner and co-founder of the agency I was working for. He helped me grow tremendously and enabled me to take a major role in the agency over time. Years later, while I was working as a freelancer, we talked about having our own project together. He then introduced me to his former associate, Steph (DashThis’ founder) and the 3 of us decided to bring DashThis further, as business partners.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
DashThis is obviously a crucial marketing tool to have. It’s particularly important for small businesses and agencies, since they have fewer resources and less time on their hands to create their marketing reports. Automating their reporting process gives them more time to work on marketing strategies and gaining new clients. Also, it gives small business owners a quick and efficient overview of how their business’ marketing efforts are paying off, which in return gives them the power to understand and act on these strategies.
Besides DashThis, Google Analytics and AdWords are also very useful when creating marketing campaigns and tracking website performance. It’s perfect for small businesses since these softwares are both cheap and relatively easy to use. They give small business owners a view of their paid and organic reach, therefore enabling them to understand their audience and adapt their strategies.
Intercom is also really great! It can help small businesses and smaller customer success teams with the management of their customer service by providing a reliable means of communicating with clients. A tool like Intercom makes life a lot easier for smaller businesses and their client success management.
What are your “5 Non Intuitive Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses”?
– 1- Quality over quantity: It’s easy to get yourself caught up in always wanting more leads, more traffic, more sales. However, first and foremost, it’s important to gather quality leads, quality sales, and quality traffic. Even if your traffic goes down by 50%, if that traffic is more qualified than it was previously, it might be worth it. DashThis is a very niched product, targeted directly at marketers and agencies; since the very beginning, we’ve always focused our efforts on reaching only the most qualified audience, which is a strategy that has worked out incredibly well.
– 2- Invest in your brand: You should not neglect your business’ brand and overall vibe. It might sound strange, but in B2B particularly, people are looking for a partner; they want to work with you. If you have a fun and positive vibe, demonstrate good values that really resonate with your audience, it’s going to help your business a lot. So, invest some time, research, and efforts into having a brand that transpires the message you want to convey. Our website and logo are great examples of the “easy-to-use/friendly” vibe we are.
– 3- Personalized over automated: Yes, we are an automated tool, so we like to automate some of the work we do in order to save time. However, customer service is not one of the things we choose to automate. It might sound counterintuitive, since it’s cheaper and more time-efficient to automate your client service, particularly for small businesses, but personalization is what’s going to retain your users and convince your leads. Opening discussions will lead you to understand your users better, and therefore give them exactly what they need. We started DashThis based on what our first users needed and the feedback we receive from current users still plays a big part on how we decide to improve our tool.
– 5- SEO is still in the game: Some people say that SEO is dead. Even if Google has now become this ever-changing, mind-bending, frustrating jigsaw, there are still many ways to get traffic and leads with SEO. Of course, you can’t just keyword-stuff your website like in the old days; you have to actually offer value to your readers. Google is trying its best to act like a human, and what do humans want? Answers to their questions. When you have interesting insight to share with a community, along with your product, you can gather quality leads to your website through SEO.
We’re the living proof of this: we invest a lot of time and energy in our SEO strategies, and to this day, the majority of our sales still come through organic means.
– Treat your paying customers as you would your leads.
Why should all the romance disappear as soon as we close the deal? Work sales, customer service, and marketing strategies in a very cohesive and collaborative way. A customer doesn’t need to fall off the “marketing funnel” just because (s)he becomes a customer. Existing customer feedback and behaviour can greatly influence how your marketing team approaches new potential customers. At DashThis, our account managers play a big role in client conversion from a trial to a paying customer, and once (s)he becomes a client, our account managers still communicate with them and help them when needed. Romance is never dead.
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to inspire a movement where everyone is honest and transparent. If we could all just be completely honest about our objectives, needs, who we are and what we want, we would stop wasting time in our professional lives (interviews, partnerships, promotions, negotiations, etc.).
Think about all the time people spend trying to appear a certain way to their colleagues or friends, how people don’t communicate their real career goals or personality in their interviews, how we don’t say how much we want that promotion, don’t tell our bosses if we think we need a raise, or even discuss the underwhelming performance of an employee with the employee in question. Life would be so much easier for everyone if we would all just be honest.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
As Nike’s slogan and Shia LaBeouf presses us to so; JUST DO IT!
Success will never appear out of the blue without you trying. Don’t be afraid of failure, just go out there and make success yours through hard work. Dare, be motivated, don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do, just go out there and reach for the top. I’ve always taken every opportunity that came my way and did my best to succeed each and every time. Sometimes it worked out wonderfully, sometimes I failed, but I never regretted the opportunities I took, since they forged who I am today, and helped me succeed.
You think you might fail? Doesn’t matter, just do it. You’re unsure of what people might think? Do it. You’re wondering if you’re going to be good at it? DO IT!
This way, you’ll live your life without having any moments of “What if”: What if I took that job? What if I gave that conference? What if I had actually started my own business?
Take all the opportunities that come your way. If you find yourself being unsure or afraid… you guessed it : Just do it!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can gladly follow DashThis on social media;
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.