I’m a tour guide at heart, and I happen to work in tech. It may sound very different, but both jobs are actually quite similar:
you tell a story → you aim to drive engagement → you hope the audience will act a certain way.
When I was a kid, just like everyone I loved the idea of spending time playing outside...unfortunately, there wasn’t a (paying) job for that when I grew up.
I did manage, however, to find the next best thing, something that filled my love of outdoor activities. I became a tour guide at the SPNI (society for protecting nature in Israel).
It was my dream job (just second to being a ski instructor in the Austrian Alps later on). Someone actually paid me to travel across Israel (and a few other countries) and tell stories. It was not only about telling the story, but also about changing people’s perception and behavior.
A few years and a couple of roles later, I decide to make a 180-degree turn in my career path, from a very low-tech industry to a tech one. I had a little experience in online marketing and a degree in business management, but nothing else in the field.
A friend who worked at Google referred me to an entry-level opening in the Israeli marketing team. After a series of interviews, I landed the role and joined a new digital marketing team that manages Google’s online acquisition marketing across EMEA.
Starting to work there, I was very worried. I wasn’t sure I had the right experience and skills to do marketing for a tech giant (as well as lead search and display acquisitions….). But shortly after I joined, I realized something important – my storytelling skills from my travel guide days are transferable. Storytelling is storytelling. It can be in the middle of the desert telling a group of teenagers about the importance of something, and it can be a lead generation landing page explaining small businesses how digital marketing can grow their business.
Today, while helping businesses grow through digital as Head of Google’s B2B Marketing team in Israel, I still use methods and insights from my days as a tour guide.
Setting start-up like operation at Google (and growing revenue by 1500%)
My first position at Google was in a newly formed digital marketing team. We were a 3-person team, with the mandate to re-build and manage digital marketing for Google’s B2B products across EMEA (6 products, 45 markets, 27 languages). We managed to convince Google’s marketing leadership to invest a small budget to test our work, and to promise us that if and when we show strong traction and a positive ROI, we will get more funding,
I was leading and working on basically everything (Search/ Display/ Social optimization, creative, landing pages, email marketing and anything else that came up).
Imagine – 3 people, 45 markets, 6 products. Just like a start-up, but in a big corporation.
Shortly after we started, we realized that this is not an easy task (and definitely not a task for 3 people...). We knew there were no shortcuts and if we wanted to succeed, we would first need to build a super strong funnel and then optimize each element across the user journey. We managed to get some support as part of Google’s famous “20% projects” and slowly improved the funnel, optimizing the operation and scaling it.
It took time, but super strong results were sure to follow. In 2 years, we managed to increase the online acquisition revenue by 1500% and reach a $25M quarterly budget growing to a team of 60 people.
Some insights on growing the project and scaling it:
- There are no tricks or shortcuts. Constant optimization and A/B testing will improve your results. It took us a few months of optimization to bring our display marketing to a positive ROI.
- Each step in the journey counts. At some point when we already managed to build a strong lead generation machine, we still struggled with lead to acquisition conversion rate. Introducing a simple lead nurturing path of 4-emails increased our conversion rate by 40%.
- Innovation. While optimizing is an ongoing process, there is also room for innovation. One example from our activity is an automated script we created that scanned our results in real-time and identified small placements that could drive good results after a few impressions. We ended up with hundreds of niche websites that have ~100 weekly impressions but generated 1-2 conversions each.
- Consistency and story. At the end of the day, it is still about storytelling. The story should be consistent across the user journey. It is amazing how much results improve when you have the same message throughout the funnel - from banner ads, to landing pages, emails and sales support call scripts.
- Scale. It is possible (and efficient) to manage multi-country online marketing with one team. While language may be a barrier (can be solved with local support), the advantage of cross-country campaign optimization is huge just in terms of the ability to run multiple tests in different markets and scale the winner faster.
My 3 top tips for startups to optimize their use of Google AdWords
AdWords is complex, has many features and options and is ever-changing. This complexity and the multiple options offered is great for marketers, but you will need proficiency if you want to see results. You can become a pro yourself (it is not rocket science), hire a digital expert or outsource to an agency (sometimes that will bring the best ROI).
In addition to the tips above, there are a few more things that can differentiate between a good AdWords campaign, and an outstanding one:
- Analytics and tracking. It is all about optimization and that is based on tracking and good analytics. This is critical for your success. Make sure you have the right settings from day 1 (that will also be ready to evolve as you grow your operation) to help you understand the results better (this too can be done by professionals, and sometimes it’s worth the initial budget invested).
- The secret sauce. The secret sauce for AdWords is relevance. Make sure everything you do is relevant to the user. For a certain keyword or placement, show something that is relevant and point to a landing page that is relevant. It sounds simple but that it is the secret.
- Don’t forget creativity. Usually, creativity is not a top requirement when you think about AdWords, but it is not only about good analysis, A/B testing and data based optimization. There is also room for creativity across the different formats and steps in the user journey (even in text ads!)
The most common mistake I’ve seen with startups is that they invest in marketing prematurely. Make sure that once there is a product-market fit, the team invests time (and resources) in thinking about the story and the best ways to get to users. In many cases, companies skip the marketing and storytelling part and launch digital marketing campaigns when they are not ready.
Tools I use religiously for my marketing work:
We have many internal Google tools for most marketing activities (email marketing, web assets, marketing insights etc.) but in terms of external tools my top picks are:
- Google AdWords 🙂
- App Annie
- Google Analytics
- Google Insights tools - Trend for marketers and Consumer Barometer
Websites and blogs I follow:
Feld Thoughts - blog of Brad Feld, Managing Director at Foundry Group and co-Founder of Techstars
Both Sides of the Table - Mark Suster's blog
You can connect with Dan through his LinkedIn page.