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First-Party Data, Community Building, & Other Stuff

Posted March 6, 2023
First-Party Data, Community Building, & Other Stuff

Jessie Lizak, CMO at BDEX, joins our host, Camela Thompson, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Jessie shares her insights on how to build a first-party database, how to treat the data we earn, and how often she uses email marketing.

Jessie is the CMO at BDEX. She is also the co-founder at Reveting. Jessie and her team are behind Whiskey Wednesday, a LinkedIn live event that is also streamed on YouTube and Twitter. Jessie is a  mother of two and lives in Columbus, Ohio.

How do you build a first-party database as a new business or as an enterprise?

Let’s talk a bit about building that first-party customer database. In marketing, we used to rely on list purchases. The old way was to find somebody in B2B who buys this kind of technology and then just blast them with emails. That doesn’t work anymore. At the start of this chat, Jessie discussed at length what she found works when it comes to acquiring net new names.

“I would say build your brand. Dark social is a real thing. Build your network. Your social capital will help you build your financial capital. That’s why we do things like podcasts and being active on LinkedIn, Twitter, or YouTube. It’s really that that’s where the people are. And that’s who you are marketing to. So we are trying to find out exactly where our audiences are and there are all these different sorts of groups. It’s crazy. I found on Facebook these groups of media buyers and there are all these different little micro-communities now where your buyer lives. So it is just your job to go out there and find them. I’d say dark social is a very real thing. It works to focus on it as well as personal branding. It is about empowering your team to be themselves online and also represent the brand at the same time. 

“I think personal branding will continue to be important, even more important than it is now. Look at things like Web 3.0. Everybody will have their own wallet. It will be associated with a person. I think personal branding now and in the future is a really safe place for marketers, revenue-generators, and salespeople to focus on.”

At least right now, we are finding it helpful to start with somebody with a large following and then pile on as a company as opposed to beginning with the company and then having the employees amplify. Jessie has noticed something similar and offered some tips and tricks to make this strategy work.

“There is a lot of value in having a larger audience on LinkedIn since when you get to post to that large audience, you will be posting to 10,000 people. How much does that cost to get if you were going to run an ad? And organic is always better. So when it’s your friend, if this is someone you’re connected with on LinkedIn, there’s a bit more of a meaningful touch there. I think the goal is always to get people to come to you, at least from my perspective. You talked about building your list. Is it buying lists? No. I’d say it is building your customer list in an organic way so that people who want your product will come to you.”

It is interesting to see value as an enterprise organization with plenty of awareness and an established base focusing on acquiring existing customers and who are the best buyers and who have been really good on an upsell track. I can see a ton of value for that. But with new, scrappy, small companies and even the larger companies, I see many companies developing a persona and almost an attitude on social that their employees amplify. It has become a bit more human and that seems to work pretty well. Jessie agrees.

“I guess you are right. It’s like satire. I’m thinking of you. You are making me think of Chris Bogue. I don’t know if you follow him on LinkedIn at all. He does these satirical and theatrical videos that are so sarcastic. They do resonate well with people. So I think you’re probably right. This is like the stuff Todd Klauser does. He is hilarious. And then Whiskey Wednesday, even to a big extent. People love to party in the comments and have fun. It isn’t a webinar. It is an event. People just want to laugh and have fun and people connect with people, not brands. Therefore, if you can get your people to connect with people like that, it helps to close the trust gap and it works well for the brand.

“There are many employers out there who make you feel you shouldn’t post on LinkedIn because you’re just going to be trying to get yourself hired. I’ve definitely in prior situations felt pressure like that. I know what it feels when people say you shouldn’t post on LinkedIn. Luckily for me in 2012, that election, I was still working in politics and for myself, just taking different contracts.  So I did pretty much whatever I wanted on LinkedIn and then I went into B2B SaaS. I thought, I am going to keep doing this and I’ve been in B2B since 2015. 

“I think it was 2015 or 2016. Since then, I have been on LinkedIn testing out all these different things. In the beginning, I’d say I was more spammy, making 4 posts a day. It was total output galore, not engaging with people. But over time, you learn that it is all about engaging with the right people and adding value to them by commenting on their posts and liking their posts. And I have seen in a social setting, that working right within the comments of a LinkedIn post, people can close deals.”

What are your recommendations on how a marketer can build a strategy that keeps people around?

“I would say focusing on quality over quantity and always engaging with your customers when possible. And being a fly on the wall on these sales calls to know. It is up to the sales team to always be inviting the marketing team on those calls since it will be to their advantage. When marketers can listen to those calls, especially live gun calls, cool! But being able to be almost part of the conversation in many ways. They will be talking about things and you will be able to say, oh, we have an article about that! Check this out! They can then engage with you. Sometimes the sales team doesn’t like that, but then they should just communicate that with you. I’d say having communication is key, but marketers should always get on sales calls whenever possible.

“I think that’s overlooked many times. It’s also safe for the sales team members to create their own PDFs and be creative to some extent. We all have different skills and needs and it is helpful when we can all participate because then that’s something you can send off to the marketing team and say, hey! This is what I have in mind. Can you guys do something with this? 

“Oftentimes, the copy you get from your sales team is some of the best copy that you can find. Your job is to make it concise and use it. So alignment is key in terms of communication since you’re in the pipeline of having quality content. We are even seeing Google making changes again. More quality content. Less crappy content, which is a result of marketers having these crazy goals like hey, write 5 blogs a week, and then, of course, you’re going to get really big fluff about whatever you are writing about.  It is like machine learning and advertising.

“We need to do a better job of telling stories with numbers and surveying customers. We did a survey of voters for this political campaign we were running. So we had their real attitudes that we could write about and those quality pieces are more likely to land and get placed somewhere. They’re more likely to be of interest to your readers who are actually going to learn something new. It is all about creating quality content, going back to revamping your old content, and then also thinking about distribution. Where is your audience hanging out? Are they on LinkedIn? 

“For us, that was easy since we can target by titles, we are B2B, right? Job titles, industries, and company size. Also, Twitter and YouTube are useful. There are still 2 billion people or something like that on Facebook. So like love them or hate them, your audience is likely there if you find the right community or group that they’re all chatting in. I think community-led marketing is something that needs to be brought more into different strategies because these people are on Slack, and people in these groups communicate in a chatroom style and make real connections. It’s important that you have people in those places where your audience is. So that you don’t look like an ad and you look like real trustable people.

“Once you have their data, those are all pretty important things to consider alignment, quality content, and finding your audience for distribution so you may repurpose your content as well. For example, one piece can be published in several different posts in several different ways. It is all about finding your message and being able to repeat that message over and over again differently and creatively. If it is satirical and theatrical, that is probably to your advantage.”

First-party, data-privacy, How should we treat the data we earn?

I am stoked because as we found out on our Deconstructing Data Podcast, we both have a passion for first-party data. We have talked about it multiple times on this podcast, but we are seeing changes in data privacy laws. We are seeing changes in privacy-first construction, particularly on the browser side. It’s getting harder and harder to get those names into your database. Jessie explained why though nobody wants to sound like chicken little, we should probably be worried by this trend.

“Everyone has their opinions. We have made a lot of changes as digital marketers based on everybody’s opinion on what they think data privacy is. We saw many browsers changing early on including Safari and Firefox. However, we are still waiting for cookies to deprecate on Google, which they have just pushed back again. I think it is the fifth or sixth time they have done that. So it’s not any big surprise that we are going to deprecate third-party cookies on Google. There is still that anticipation of what we are going to do once that happens. 

“The question becomes, does that really help data privacy? What is data privacy? It’s interesting. There is a lot that’s going on for sure and many changes to keep up with. Nevertheless, one thing that is for sure is using your first-party data, be it on a political campaign, your first-party voter data, your supporters, your best donors, or in a revenue-generating B2B company, who are those highest-paying recurring customers that are easiest to work with? 

“Let us compile that data and understand those people and market to people who are more like them. Therefore, it is the full idea. Use your first-party data regardless of everything else that’s going on around us. Because even if you can use third-party cookies, I would argue that first-party data is better anyway.”

Touching on some of those browser changes and what they mean. So Safari and Firefox have such a small market share, but Safari and Apple iOS are much higher. They have instituted some pretty restrictive rules around third-party cookies. If you are in marketing, and you’re noticing and have been noticing them for a while, big changes to your digital advertising numbers and your tracking information, it’s probably a pretty good culprit. Jessie discussed other ways these changes are impacting marketers.

“I would say there are still a lot of ad fraud and click farms and bots out there. And we are going to see these bad players no matter what. Nevertheless, speaking of regulation, where is regulation? First, help with that problem. But at the end of the day, that is what makes it cool about working at somewhere like BDEX, where we get to help marketers clean up their consumer data. It’s crazy how much you can save on your ad spend when you are actually targeting real people and not bots or click farms. There is just a lot of crazy stuff going on out there. I would say ad fraud is something that marketers should keep an eye on since there is plenty of wasted spend there. However, it is all just sort of side effects of where attention gets placed within regulation.”

How often do you use email marketing?

Jessie briefly explained how often she uses email marketing.

“We have a newsletter. However, it’s just the data dive, right? So basically, it is a way for us to repurpose our content for people who are interested in receiving it that way. We only send it to people who subscribe. But I’m also a fan of what some people like Jesse Ouellette do on outbound email. There’s a way it is an art and a science. Some of it can be spam, but yeah, I am more of an inbound email marketer and emailing people who want to be emailed by us. And then keeping that email trail going throughout their product experience as much as possible. If that’s how they wish to communicate; if they want SMS, send them a text message. I am all about making it as easy as possible for the customer to communicate with you in whatever way is good for them.”

For more expert interviews and advice, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.