Can you use inbound marketing to get more value out of your paid conference sponsorship?
In this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, GaggleAMP Founder and CEO Glenn Gaudet shares how he's using classic inbound strategies to maximize the value of GaggleAMP's sponsorship of the 2018 Social Media Marketing World Conference, as well as how companies are using GaggleAMP to make is easy for their employees to share branded content.
Listen to the podcast to learn how you can use inbound marketing to gain more visibility and generate buzz when you sponsor a conference, or read the transcript below.
Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome to The Inbound Success Podcast. My name is Kathleen Booth and I am your host. Today, my guest is Glenn Gaudet, who is the Founder and CEO of GaggleAMP. Welcome, Glenn.
Glenn Guadet (guest): Thank you, Kathleen. Thank you for having me on the show.
Kathleen: Tell us a little bit about yourself, the company, the product, et cetera.
Glenn: Sure. As you mentioned, I'm the CEO and Founder of the company called GaggleAMP. It is a company that I actually started back in 2010. The whole idea and the whole premise around it was to make it easier to get stakeholders such as employees to be part of the grassroots marketing effort of the company, specifically in the digital realm.
If you think about it if you are able to tap into your employees and have them take part in various digital activities, whether it might be sharing a piece of content or commenting on something or even writing a review on Glassdoor about what it's like to work at the company. All of these things really help and what's powerful about it, it's the voices that know the company best because they're working for the company.
We've been on this incredible journey of both growth and learning what it takes to do this well. When we started the company - it's a SaaS solution - we did three things. You could share a message in three different ways and now we have over 50 different activities that you can get your employees involved in.
Glenn: It's not just about sharing content. It's also really about engagement. How do my employees engage? How do my channel partners engage? And when I say engage, really engage in relationships online with clients, with prospects, with the world in general. It's just an incredibly powerful tool to have in your marketing arsenal.
Kathleen: It really speaks to how to leverage that power of community and in fact, we're recording this at a time when the Traffic and Conversion Summit is happening out in California right now. One of my colleagues is there and was saying that a big theme at some of the keynotes was community being one of the things that's going to drive success in the future for companies. So, having products that solve for how do you really galvanize your community and get them to be playing an active part in your marketing seems so central to what will make the company of the future successful.
Glenn: Agreed, and I think the key to community is relationship because what you're trying to do is you're trying to have people enter into relationships with other people. Because at the end of the day, people buy from people. People service people. When you take the person out of the digital, that's when things go flat, that's when things don't get the kind of resonance that you want. So you want the ability to make sure that whatever you're doing out there, yes by all means, share content but make sure there's an engagement component to that.
Kathleen: Great. So you started the company in 2010 with this notion that there needed to be a better, easier, simpler way to involve employees and other stakeholders in a company's marketing efforts and obviously, the company has evolved and grown. Tell me a little bit about going from those early days to now. What have been some of the marketing strategies that you've used to drive the company's growth?
Glenn: Well, I think one of the best decisions that we made upfront was a product decision and that was to make the product as easy and as fun as possible because what we wanted to do is not have to have a company spend a tremendous amount of time, money, resources to do training, to help people really understand onboarding. We literally wanted them to be able to just, within 30 seconds, get this thing up and running. That was one of the original design criteria that we have for it.
Frankly, that turned out to be one of the best marketing things that we ever did because today, still one of our major drivers is referral business. You'd have situations where a lot of people in the company will be on our platform. There's movement. People change jobs and when they change jobs, they get to the new company. If they don't have a solution like this, they go to the marketing folks and they say, "Hey, my last company made this super easy for me to be engaged digitally, how come you're not?" And it usually ends up in a conversation back with us to see if we can help them do the same thing. Of course, our platform does that quite well.
My advice to anybody who has any kind software is you have to think about the virality of the product that you're putting out there because ... There's plenty of products that are not viral. They make a lot of money and they get out there and they get into the market. But when you're starting from a place where, let's say, you're not going to go out and raise $200 million (we are a completely bootstrapped company and we're profitable), you make different decisions and having that viral component I think is really important. To all the entrepreneurs who are listening today, think about those pieces of your product that can make it, not only easy to use but, also capable of telling a story when somebody leaves one company to go to another company. Does that make sense?
Kathleen: Yeah. That does and you know what it makes me think of - and I'm going to date myself in giving this example - but the original example of virality was, I don't know if you remember the old Breck Shampoo commercial from, I think, it was the 70s-
Glenn: They tell two friends, that they tell two friends.
Kathleen: Yes, "I told two friends and I told two friends" and the screen splits...
Kathleen: Really, that's the same principle. Some of the most successful SaaS companies that have really grown quickly, companies like Dropbox use the same idea in the sense that you're sharing files with people and by virtue of sharing your files with somebody else who may or may not be a Dropbox customer, you're exposing them to the product and then they like it and they see it and then they share and so it kind of is the gift that keeps on giving.
Even with GaggleAMP, it's interesting, when I first came across it, was several years ago. I think HubSpot was using it and I remember seeing the link that some of the posts were using when they were shared and it was a GaggleAMP link. As marketer, I noticed that. I don't know that anybody else noticed that.
Glenn: "What is that?"
Kathleen: And I thought "I need to figure out what that is." I did. I took notice and I thought it was really cool because a company like HubSpot that's growing so quickly and has a lot of employees, that's a really great way to have a larger digital footprint. I certainly stood up and took notice and your viral strategy is working I would say.
Glenn: But you raise a really good point. Let's say you do have a software product and you're shortening the link, well, get a branded link that might lead them back to you. Not necessarily in terms of where the link is going to go but the name of that link. So in our case, we actually have a link that's from Greenland. We got the URL gag.gl. That's our short URL that we use. Anyone that wants to come and create their own link on our platform, they can do custom links. We certainly support that. But most people are just going to take the link that you automatically give them and that one little piece alone gets the word out. There's a lot of little things you can do in your product that really help the awareness and the virality of it and so it's attention to detail like that, that if you're an entrepreneur, if you're thinking in that way, it's really going to help out your marketing.
Kathleen: Yeah, that's a great tip. I used to own my own digital agency and it was called Quintain, Q-U-I-N-T-A-I-N, and we bought quinta.in which is from India for that very same reason because bit.ly has a feature where you can use custom domains for your bit.lys. Yeah, it gave us a branded sub-domain and it is, I agree with you, it's a tiny, tiny little detail that would be very easy to overlook but when you have it in place, it's amazing what that does to reinforce branding and to make your posts so much more visibly from you.
Glenn: Yeah. I think that's a really good point, which is reinforcing the branding. Be consistent about your brand. We just went through an entire process where we updated our branding and at every step of this, there needs to be that consistency because that also helps with the virality of your offering. No matter if they're looking at you on a blog post or if they're just looking at your website or they're using their product. You want that consistency.
Now, there's a challenge that pops up with that of course. When we started our company, we had the same company name but the logo was a little different. We still end up finding things online where it's one of the original logos. I see it and I cringe.
Kathleen: That's the worst.
Glenn: Those are the kinds of things that - if you can find maybe somebody who put it in a blog post or something and the blog post might be from 2011 - that's actually an opportunity to engage with that person. Say, "Hey, here's the latest logo. Would you mind the update? I know the post is 2011." Usually what that does is that creates yet another relationship. Because people are thrilled that a) you actually read their blog post and b) took a chance to help them make it more permanent.
Kathleen: Right, right. So the devil's in the details?
Glenn: It is.
Kathleen: Your product itself has driven a lot of interest in the product?
Kathleen: Have there been other things that have worked well for you in terms of content you've created or other approaches that have organically driven attention to the company or to the product?
Glenn: Yeah, one of the things that we really like to do is we like to share the love. That really comes down to finding reasons to talk not just about ourselves but talk about some great things that other people might be doing or saying. Let me give you an example for that. We're a major sponsor at an upcoming event, which is actually taking place two days from now called Social Media Marketing World, that's in San Diego. We're sponsoring a couple of tracks. We have a trade show booth presence there. What we did is, ahead of the event, we reached out to all the speakers in the tracks that we were sponsoring.
Now, we don't pick the speakers. The event producers pick the speakers and we don't even know the speakers. We're just sponsoring the event. We get the word out there. But what we did is we reached out to these speakers and we said, "Listen, we'd like to write up a little Q&A about you, maybe what you're talking about so we can help promote you prior to the event."
That did a couple of things for us. One is it allowed us to have some very, very natural engagement with a speaker and give them some additional love. Now, what happens is we make it super easy for them. We send the questions, they can do a Q&A that way or we'll interview them. One of our writers reached out to them and actually formally did an interview to make it super, super easy. Then we write it up. We put it on our blog and then we get that content to be amplified and engaged with by leveraging our own product. But then we also reach out to the people who are listed in that blog post, and now they start promoting it. Then we take their promotion and we give it back to the people who are part of using our platform and that raises that up some. So they feel the love, we get the word out there and it creates buzz around that community prior to the event.
Kathleen: That's really cool. I think there's so many marketers who do events. Either they have a booth, or they're sponsoring. There are a lot of different ways you can participate in conferences and trade shows but particularly when it comes to corporate sponsorship or corporate presence, I mean having been an agency owner for many years, I've seen so many clients pour a lot of money into these things. Done poorly, the ROI can be so dramatically negative as to be shocking. But I love this example because it does point to how there's so much you can do in advance of the event to really lay the groundwork for success. You're sponsoring, you're going to have a presence there.
Kathleen: And you reach out to all the speakers in the tracks. Now, were you given their contact information? Did you find it online? Did you tweet them? How did you do that?
Glenn: Well, most events will not just ... they won't give you a list of the attendees, they won't give you a list with the personal email addresses of the people who are speaking but frankly, at the end of the day, they're listing all the speakers there. We just reached out to them. We were able to quickly find their names because most of the speakers there, they have a corporate email that is easily found. If that's shocking to people out there that your emails are easily found, well, they are. You can easily find those emails and then we just reach out to them. We said, "Hey, we're sponsoring the track that you're speaking in. We're not trying to pitch anything here. We actually just want to highlight what you're going to be talking about because we think it's pretty interesting." Most of them actually responded and we were able to do some incredible content around that.
Kathleen: This is where I think a lot of marketers really trip up. I agree with you that it's hard to get event organizers to give up contact information and even if they do, a lot of times, what results from that is marketers kind of spamming people. "Come to our booth. We've got this or that." I love that you guys took the approach of, "Hey, there's no pitch here. We're not trying to sell you anything. We want to help you get more butts in seats for your presentation by shining the light on what you're going to talk about." How was the response to that?
Glenn: It was fantastic. We got great responses to the content. Most of the speakers got back to us, which, and you know this, when you're sending emails to people who don't necessarily know who you are, you really don't get a response.
We didn't want to put them in a drip campaign. We didn't want to send them 10 emails asking them. Frankly, we just sent them one and we just said, "Here it is. If you like the vibe that we're taking about here, great. If you don't, we totally understand. We'll see you at the show." I think it's one of those things.
To some degree, you almost have to trust. The challenge that some marketing people run into is they don't necessarily trust the authentic nature. So what they end up doing is they over compensate for that. If you're being genuine, if you're being authentic, you have to be able to live with a no. If you're okay with that, I think that, that's the foundation, not of a campaign but, of a relationship. That's really what we were trying to achieve here. Now, these people, they're going to go to the event, they're going to speak at the event, they're going to have great feelings around that, they're going to come by and they're going to say hello. "Hey, I talked to so and so at your company. They interviewed me." And so it's a great opportunity now for us to have a deeper conversation with them and they learned something about what we do and that never hurts.
Kathleen: That's great. And it's so funny because you talk about marketers overcompensating and I always think of it as marketers ruining everything. I've joked about this on the podcast before. Kipp Bodnar from HubSpot wrote a great blog post on that, why we can't have nice things. Because marketers hear something works and then they all jump on it and then it doesn't work so well anymore. To your point about reaching out and getting responses, it's interesting. I recently interviewed Peep Laja from ConversionXL, CXL as it's now called. He was sharing that with emails, he gets the best responses and results when they're very short, like two sentences or less. He gave the example, the subject line would be, "Do you know anybody who can teach a course on X?" And the body copy would be, "I'm looking for someone. Do you have a name?"
It's almost like ,when you do outreach like this, I feel like most marketers would default to writing a long email and framing the value proposition and putting the bullet points in and the call to action, when really, maybe the best approach as you said, is to be very authentic and write it as one person to another and just say, "Hey, we'd love to help you get more attendees at your session. Are you interested in talking? Book a time and we'll write up a post on you," or something like that.
Glenn: Also, make it easy for them. In our situation, we'll send you the questions, we'll do an interview, whatever's easiest for you. What do you want? How can we make this easy for you because we'd really like you to participate?
Kathleen: That's great. You have these really good responses and what form did the resulting content take? Was it individual blogs on individual speakers? Were they roundup posts?
Glenn: They were they roundup posts. We did a few questions from it and we put them in roundup posts. So in any one post, there might be three or four of the speakers in there. Usually, it's around the theme of what they might be speaking about and ties it to. But what's really interesting now is, for the people that we did longer interviews with, there's an opportunity to create that content in longer form. We want to time this out. You don't want to overwhelm somebody but then again, they go to the event, they have a great experience and what we can do is we can invite them to our podcast to keep that enthusiasm going for that speaker and that topic.
Again, it really is in the process of giving, we get so much in return. Sometimes, I think, we forget about that as marketers.
Kathleen: Oh, definitely. Well, I would love to include some links to those roundup posts in the show notes if you've got them and that way, people can see examples of the type of contented you created. I think that's a really easily replicable approach to a company that's paying for an event sponsorship to get more out of it. And I have to believe that the event organizers love it because it's free marketing for them-
Glenn: Yeah, so we have a combination. We're kind of the friends and family. We call it a Gaggle, so we have friends and family Gaggle, we gave an employee Gaggle, we have other Gaggles that have been curated over the years for people who are really interested in social media content. Depending on what we're trying to achieve and whether or not we think it would be good for that particular audience to actually be part of the engagement, that's where we will put things like this.
Kathleen: That's really cool. So when you put it through the Gaggle - whether that's a tweet or another kind of a post that's getting shared, that goes out through those individual people's networks, correct?
Glenn: Yes, but it goes beyond just the sharing of that. We also will suggest engagements. It might be, "Hey, here's something to retweet." That's kind of like sharing content. But, "Here's somebody that you probably want to follow on Twitter."
Kathleen: Oh, I like that.
Glenn: Now, we've got the speakers and we can say, "Hey, the speaker really has some great content, why don't you follow them on Twitter? Why don't you connect with them on LinkedIn?" All of those activities now, again, we have over 50 of them, that you can actually get people to truly engage that wouldn't necessarily know, "here's somebody I should follow, here's somebody I should engage with, here's a website I should interact with."
Kathleen: Have you been able to gamify that at all or incentivize people to participate in those kinds of things?
Glenn: Yes. There's what we call points. So you get points when you actually participate in the activities and those points go to a leaderboard but the marketing manager can decide whether or not those points could also provide some rewards as well.
Kathleen: Oh, great. I love that. So that's a big trade into the product then, correct?
Glenn: A trade in, yeah. Again, the whole idea is to make it super simple for not just the people who will be engaging on your behalf but also the marketing folks who are responsible for deciding what it is the engagement should be.
Kathleen: Beyond tweeting and retweeting, or Facebook likes or things like that, what other types of activities can you encourage people to take through the platform and what other types of platforms does it work with?
Glenn: Sure. It actually works with a variety of different social platforms. Let's see. We have all the majors here in the United States. We have LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram. But we also have, we have the German equivalent to LinkedIn, we have the Russian equivalent. We're working right now with some Asian networks as well. It's really interesting and a lot of this is driven by customers. We have worldwide customers who say, "Hey, we really want to engage this part of the world. Twitter just doesn't do it or Facebook just doesn't do it in this country." We work with them and we develop a range of what we call activities around that. Because whenever you do any of this, it's got to be more than just sharing a piece of content. You really have to have an engagement component, otherwise again, it falls flat.
Some of the other activities too could be, "Here's a blog post. Could you comment on it?" On Indeed, "Here's where our employer section is, why don't you write what it's like to be day in the life here at this company?" You can do things like that but you can also just say, "Hey, here's a video, could you just watch it." Don't share it but just watch it, consume it. There's all sorts of things that really allow the marketing manager to really help the rank and file person understand how they can better be that digital citizen. If they're a better digital citizen and they're leveraging the know-how of the corporate experts, then it's a win-win.
Kathleen: That's great. Going back to the example you provided of your sponsorship of Social Media Marketing World, I think it was neat that you said you didn't just use the Gaggle to promote the roundup blog posts, but then from what you said, it sounds like if one of the speakers promoted the posts, then you would also feed that back in and say to the Gaggle, "Hey, could you retweet what the speaker said?"
Kathleen: "Could you like that?"
Glenn: That's right.
Kathleen: And so it really brings it full circle.
Glenn: It does. Again, it can't be all about you. It can't be all about yourself. When you are selfless, what we find digitally anyways, the more we share others, the more we find others share our stuff. We want to give as much as we can because it just comes back to you. It really does.
Kathleen: Nice. Tell me a little bit about what types of companies are successfully using GaggleAMP for their own marketing. Who is this product right for?
Glenn: Yeah. It's interesting, when we started, it's like whoever's willing to give you some money, you'll take and say, "Yeah, there you go." We really found it to work in a full range of scenarios. On the SMB side, the small to medium business, it tends to be really, really powerful in those small to medium business that at least have a marketing resource in-house. The reality is if you don't have any marketing resources in-house, then you're not really going to have anyone that actually can put in the activities that the employees or the other stakeholders can actually leverage. On the SMB side, you definitely need to have that.
On the enterprise side, we find this is a really interesting thing that occurs. Usually, what will happen is a large company will come in and they'll start with trying to put everybody into this one thing, one container called the Gaggle. Then they realize that they can actually create segmentations so they create different Gaggles for different regions, different business units. Then what happens is now all of a sudden, they have a distributed approach and now they get what we call Gaggle managers for these different business units. You have this worldwide distributed model that allows a local presence to actually be influencing as well as having the corporate presence providing some things as well. It's a really, really powerful multi-tier approach when you get up to the enterprise.
Kathleen: Now, what I'm dying to ask you is how often is your buyer from marketing and how often is your buyer from HR? Because you talked about being able to encourage things like Glassdoor reviews or Indeed. Do you find that you have just as many HR buyers as you do marketers or is that more of an emerging area?
Glenn: We are, right now, probably, 95% marketing and I would say the other 5% might have a little bit of HR, a few internal comms. What we have found is the HR folks tend to be very focused on things like recruiting. So it tends to be a very narrow use case. Whereas the folks in marketing can incorporate the needs of HR but they have the broader content strategy and the digital strategy that really can feed this well so that people are not just in a solution where all they're getting is, "Oh, can you please let people know we're hiring for this position."
Kathleen: Right. It's fascinating to me because, again, I first got exposed to the product years ago just seeing tweets come out through HubSpot and it's really interesting to me how the web of activities people can engage in and the networks that you interface with has expanded in that time. It's really, really impressive. I'll be curious to see what comes out of Social Media Marketing World. It sounds like that's going to really be a different kind of an event sponsorship for you and maybe we'll even have another conversation where you can share some of those results at some point. But I think there's some great lessons learned in there for companies that are looking at participating in conferences and trade shows and want to figure out how to get more out of it.
Quite honestly, you don't even really need to be sponsored to do what you did. Somebody could say, "We have a booth and we saw you're going to speak." It's a very scrappy, agile way of, I think, getting more mileage out of your participation in an event.
Glenn: Agreed. Agreed.
Kathleen: Kudos to you on that one.
Glenn: Well, the thing is it doesn't stop at the event. We have a digital strategy during the event. We also have a post-event digital strategy as well. We're going to come back and we're going to be providing love and thanking people. There's a lot of things that we're going to be doing post the event, too, to keep the conversation and the relationships going.
Kathleen: Great. I can't wait to see how that turns out. Now, there are two questions I always ask every one of my guests and I would love to get your answers to these. One is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?
Glenn: Oh, company or individual. We're talking companies, not agencies?
Kathleen: You can say an agency too, yeah. I mean anybody really.
Glenn: I was really intrigued by a company called Creation Agency. They're out of the UK. I do believe they're also here in the States. The reason why I even know about them is they're a partner of ours, but they laid out a digital marketing plan that, I've been in marketing for 25 plus years, this thing impressed me.
Kathleen: Long enough to know about the Breck commercials like me.
Glenn: Long enough to know about the Breck commercials. They captured the combination of the technology and the human side in this plan that, I tend to see in a lot of plans, it usually goes way too much on one side or the other. There's not enough technology or there's too much technology, there's not enough people, there's too much people involvement. You know what I mean? There's this really blended approach, which I thought was really good and the whole goal was around lead generation but it had that real kind of, enough of technology that makes it efficient but enough of the human aspect that makes it authentic and that there's a balance there that's so hard for a lot of companies and I think that they are heading in the right direction.
Kathleen: Nice. I'll have to check them out and I will put that link in the show notes for everybody else as well. The other question is, with things changing so quickly in the world of marketing, and particularly digital marketing, a lot of changes are very technologically driven, how do you stay up to date? Where do you go to learn and to stay current?
Glenn: Oh, interesting. It is so funny. Being in my position, there's so much data that comes and washes over me. Emails are really tough, and I have an inbox cleaner. It's amazing to me. I tend to be very selective. I try to curate my LinkedIn contacts for content. I try to curate my time ... Well, not curate but I try to spend my time effectively on Twitter. I don't find the Twitter feed as a way to find things. What I use Twitter for is usually to search for things. If something pops up in my radar in LinkedIn, I might go to Twitter now and check that out. Does that makes sense?
Kathleen: That's interesting. Twitter's great for breaking news for sure.
Glenn: Yeah. You have to really be careful depending on where the source is coming from and so I tend to try to stay away from any of the stuff that the social networks are trying to feed me versus that stuff that I've curated myself. I find them really, really effective in curating the people that I'm connected with. But that stuff that they try to feed me, I try to stay away from because there's a different incentive there.
Kathleen: Yeah, and I think you run the risk of winding up in an echo chamber because everybody's seen that stuff.
Glenn: For me, I don't have the luxury of being in an echo chamber of my own creation. I'm not going to see what competition is going to be doing, I'm not going to be seeing what the general market trends are going to be if I'm just in this little bubble. I need to be out there. I need to be having, not only the digital conversations, I also need to have the personal conversations. That's really important. That's why for an event like Social Media Marketing World, I go out there myself because I want to be talking to people. I want to hear what people have to say. Digital needs to be part of the mix but I think face to face also needs to be part of that mix.
Kathleen: I love that because that brings our conversation full circle right back to the very beginning where we talked about how a community is going to be a real theme going forward as we enter this age of robots and AI and need to keep things human. So, good job bringing us right back to that point. My last question is, if people have questions about some of the things you've talked about if they want to learn more about the product, what's the best way for them to reach out?
Glenn: Well, first of all, if they want to learn about the product, they can go to our website. It's gaggleamp.com. They can actually try out the product for free. No problem. We love people who want to take us for a test ride. If they want to reach out to me, probably one of the best ways to reach me is on Twitter. My handle @glenng, and that's Glenn with two Ns. So, @glenng. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen: Great. Although we just heard your email inbox is really full so it sounds like a Twitter direct message might be the smart move.
Glenn: I would definitely do Twitter over email these days.
Kathleen: Yeah, I feel the same way. My inbox is scary. Well, thank you again. So interesting. I love the event strategy around Social Media Marketing World. Can't wait to hear how it turns out and I really appreciate you sharing your time with us this week.
Glenn: Thank you, Kathleen. Really appreciate it.
Kathleen: If you're listening and you found this interview interesting or got something out of it, I'd love it if you could leave the podcast a review on whatever platform you choose to listen on. If you know somebody who's doing really kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at@WorkMommyWorkbecause I would love to interview them. That's it for this week. Thank you.
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