Intuition: You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of various target demographics and imagine what their motivations, dreams, and emotions are like to craft an effective ad.
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 Matt Ceran.
Matt Ceran is a business tactician & strategist with 13 years of expertise in the emerging fields of Data Science, Customer Acquisition and Digital Entrepreneurship.
Matt gained experience early in his career as an analyst at a Clean Tech Startup, at a Private Equity fund, and at a Venture Capital firm. He ultimately helped manage a sizable Customer Acquisition effort at Silicon Beach staple & subscription e-commerce grandfather, Shoedazzle.com.
Opening its doors in 2013, 565 Media has been a key contributor in helping cost-effectively scale 300+ brands, including well-known startups such as Robinhood, Indiegogo, Hungryroot, Little Spoon, The Black Tux, Ordermark & Clutter via its Internet Marketing & Customer Acquisition services.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Matt went on to receive his BS from Stanford University in the field of Earth Systems, where he was a 4-year letter earner & captain of the Stanford Men’s Volleyball Team.
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?
Of course. In the early 2010s, as a tech enthusiast interested in business, I was drawn to the budding and vibrant West LA tech and startup scene. Through attendance at various events, I slowly got to know the community of angel investors, VC’s, founders etc. Slowly but surely, through various conversations with key contacts who were kind enough to act as a sounding board, I discovered the need in the ecosystem for an outsourced growth marketing firm. I launched with a handful of clients and the firm grew from there.
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?
Early in 565’s history, when we were just maybe 3 people, against better judgement, I once gave a close friend looking for work a crack as a contractor to help run a key channel for an important client who we very much enjoyed a relationship with. This person did not appreciate the gesture for what it was and failed to recognize how important the client was to our business. To my surprise, they neglected the work almost entirely, acting like the situation was under control, and created a lot of frustration with the client at a key moment in their business. Even more astonishing, was that when I confronted the friend, they gave no apology etc. So despite all the success/growth we brought the client, the client was left with a bad taste in their mouth and they decided to stop working with 565 Media because this service was so dissatisfactory and they felt it was time for a larger firm. Now, this former client is approaching unicorn status and a possible IPO, and I so wish we could have been along for the ride. The lesson learned here is to be extremely careful in what capacity and the terms in which you engage with a close friend when considering mixing best friends with work.
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?
It’s really hard to point to one single person in this massive effort. There are so many I should thank once more. A big thanks to my mom for giving me tough love when I tore my Achilles. She encouraged me to stop playing professional volleyball and to get any job by any means. I took a temp job that paid $15/hour while still in my surgery boot from the surgery days prior and was literally pushing papers — there was 0 thought required. It was definitely a grind and extremely boring work, but it taught me the sort of work ethic needed to grind it out at the office and it motivated me to achieve more.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
It’s really our incredible team and how they apply themselves to the work. We hire talent from all backgrounds with the common thread of being intelligent and kind people with a knack for strategy / execution. I love the range of talents and interests everyone collectively brings to the table. In our weekly meetings, nothing brings me more delight than hearing about interests ranging from pro sports, to chess, to art, to video games, to scuba diving, to you name it! The result is a firm with a diverse set of tools and a wide range of distinct problem-solving strategies that each team member brings to the table. Having so many strong perspectives helps us find unique solutions to complex performance marketing challenges.
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?
Industriousness: There is no substitute for hard work, period. No matter your expertise, industriousness just adds fuel to the fire in terms of getting stuff done. Like any athlete, one needs to practice their craft with full focus, enjoyment, and effort as much as possible each day.
Strategic Mindset: Just as important as working hard is working smart. Sharpen your mind by reading useful information, solving puzzles, gaming, listening to elders, making time to organize thoughts etc. to maximize your efforts as you push to accomplish complex tasks and successfully build your castle.
Perseverance: The emotional disposition to continue pushing forward in the face of intense disappointment, negativity, head wind etc. is irreplaceable when trying to accomplish the difficult task of cost effectively scaling a business.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes! We have a lot going on behind the scenes. Most excited about our blooming video production services which continue to help clients scale and the incredible brands we work with better come to life.
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.
Yes, a couple thoughts come to mind here. One is tracking / attribution. It is key to set up tracking correctly so that when spending money on paid ads, the client can interpret the results and how many users are completing key actions (purchases / leads etc.), from which strategies. We inherit accounts where this has not been setup or was set up incorrectly, and I cannot tell you what a waste it is when this happens.
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 a high level I would distill this down to i) research ii) historical deep dive iii) brainstorm + planning iv) execution. In the research phase you gather intel to inform yourself and arm yourself with key information about the brand, vertical, and ecosystem to keep in mind as you craft your plan. In the historical deep dive, every marketer should investigate what has occurred, and garner any takeaways / controls from previous media spend…basic but key. Now armed with the facts regarding the company and history, you can start to ideate and spell out your ideas to lift performance leveraging this informed perspective. Lastly, execution. Make sure to define compelling theses / tests and to be meticulous in your setup ensuring all settings etc. mirror your plan, else you may get a false read on your efforts.
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?
It really depends on the vertical of the client. Google & Facebook are both wonderful platforms that offer a range of tactics and tools to help marketers cost effectively scale their businesses.
Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?
Target demo, existing SEO search behavior, competitor landscape.
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 it depends on the client. Having a firm handle on the existing Customer Journey, available segmentation & associated triggers, as well as purchase patterns of existing customers, can inform what is currently in place and where opportunities may lie.
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?
We are big fans of Klaviyo, JustUno and Unbounce. All 3 are key to conversion rate optimization and growing your email list and converting subscribers into customers.
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?
- Left & Right Brain: Not only are quantitative abilities necessary to interpret data / test results etc. but it’s equally important to be able to dictate how to paint the blank canvas in a captivating and creative way. This is key to any marketing role.
- Communication Skills: Just as important as results, is the ability to build momentum, develop relationships, and create joy in the workplace.
- Determination: Often marketer’s tests fail, they struggle to outcompete a competitor etc. and it’s key to continue pushing and not take the foot on the gas. Stay hungry my friends!
- Information Sponge: The landscape is constantly changing. What is true today is no longer valid tomorrow. It’s key to read a lot and absorb information rapidly to stay at the forefront of the field.
- Intuition: You have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of various target demographics and imagine what their motivations, dreams, and emotions are like to craft an effective ad.
What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I would suggest taking Blueprint or Google Ads classes via Skill share to learn from the horse’s mouth about how these platforms work for starters.
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. 🙂
There is a current movement by companies like Apple who hoard anonymized user data (ios 4.5 update). The regulation and democratization of anonymized user data would be beneficial for the entire ad tech ecosystem to build off and for disrupters / startups to benefit from is key to accelerate entrepreneurship and economic growth in the sector, else we can count on enormous tech companies to continue controlling the keys to the castle in perpetuity and for the level of sophistication in marketing to stagnate without access to this key input.
How can our readers further follow your work?
They can follow us at 565media.com/insights as well as by subscribing to thedailydata.com! Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] and will do my best to respond.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
You’re very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to conduct the interview.