What does a B2B brand’s website have in common with a SuperBall? A significant bounce rate! Okay, maybe not the funniest joke, but it does transition well into discussing a pretty real issue with many B2B brands: they’re boring! There are plenty exceptions, of course, but far too often, B2B brands end up being, as this week’s guest puts it, “B2Boring.”
Ryan Urban is the CEO & Founder of BounceX, a company that helps brands optimize their websites (and ditch the high bounce rates). In examining countless B2B brands, Urban has gotten a great sense of where these companies tend to go wrong, and so much of it ties to these brands being dull, playing it safe, and failing to show any personality. Their websites and content too often lack story, and end up being “coagulated, congealed buzzwords” that’ll just bounce prospects away like a trampoline. So, if you’re interested in hearing about how brands can be a little more exciting, what landing pages need to be successful, and more, tune in to this week’s Renegade Thinkers Unite.
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Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Ryan Urban
Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew and I’m excited because we’re experimenting here. We’re actually filming and taping at the same time. My guest is Ryan Urban. What’s your title?
Ryan Urban: CEO.
Drew Neisser: CEO and Founder.
Ryan Urban: I’m actually going by the mayor now.
Drew Neisser: The mayor! Nice, because we might need one.
Ryan Urban: I’m probably the Mayor of Chinatown.
Drew Neisser: The Mayor of Chinatown, and you are the CEO of BounceX. Not everybody knows about BounceX but I understand that your employees and your customers definitely know who you are for a lot of good reasons. I noticed that you are number seven on the 2018 Inc. fastest-growing company list. That’s pretty awesome.
Ryan Urban: Yeah, it’s cool.
Drew Neisser: Cool? Are you kidding me? It’s amazing. So that’s one. I think I saw you raise $31 million in VC funding and then I also heard you say “Well, we don’t want to raise that much.”
Ryan Urban: No.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s a lot of money. You don’t look as old as I do, which means that somebody put a lot of trust in you.
Ryan Urban: How old do you think I am by the way?
Drew Neisser: I would say you’re in your 30s.
Ryan Urban: That’s a broad range. Be more specific.
Drew Neisser: 34.
Ryan Urban: Plus, five, all right.
Drew Neisser: There you go.
Ryan Urban: 39.
Drew Neisser: You know, always guess young.
Ryan Urban: I always guess old.
Drew Neisser: Really?
Ryan Urban: I’m not going to ask you to guess my age then.
Ryan Urban: I can’t wait until I turn 50.
Drew Neisser: Really? Well, it’s cool. It’s a good age. They’re all good.
Ryan Urban: I would swap hair right now with you.
Drew Neisser: Really? Well, I’m just happy I have it.
Ryan Urban: You have great hair.
Drew Neisser: Thank you.
Ryan Urban: Yeah, this is why we’re recording the video now.
Drew Neisser: Right. Speaking of hair, I know that, for you, standing out is important. You’ve talked about that and you’ve talked about the hair specifically in articles. Talk a little bit about your feelings about personal branding and branding.
Ryan Urban: It’s not that standing out is important, it’s that being authentic is very important. I think it’s constantly being yourself, finding yourself, and putting yourself out there is important, so I do that.
Drew Neisser: I mean your hair’s distinctive; you’re wearing a scarf today. You’re the first person who I’ve been on video with who has had a scarf on, so that’s cool. You’re also the first person that we’ve recorded live on video. Ooh, what’s that about? Pretty goth.
Ryan Urban: It’s pretty goth, yeah. Someone in my company called me the Chris Angel of tech, so I had to live up to the moniker.
Drew Neisser: The Chris Angel of tech. I think we know everything we need to know now. So, we’ve got a personal brand invested in you, but the business is growing very well. I noticed that you also were among the best places to work in New York City, right?
Ryan Urban: Yes. I think actually that’s more important. If you have a good place to work, then you can attract great people. And if you continue to build on that, you can keep and develop those people, and then you can have a good business. So, it starts with those kinds of things.
I want to be in a place where I want to come in, I love the people I work with, it’s fun, we do things a little bit differently. That’s what I want for myself. And like I said before, you’ve got to be able to be authentic. We’re in New York. This is an authentic place. You got to be yourself. It starts with that.
And the personal brand stuff, I really didn’t even think about that until recently. I was thinking, how can everyone in the company benefit Bounce? I’m a very boring person, so I figured if I go out there, that gives us a little more exposure too and makes more connections with people like you, Drew.
Drew Neisser: There you go. I’m not sure about the boring factor, but we’ll find out soon enough. So, employer brand is an interesting thing and one that is really important to me personally as I work on my second book and one of the things that we think marketers ignore and have backwards. Particularly B2B marketers, they think about prospects, then customers, then employees.
Ryan Urban: That’s right. B2Boring. Yeah, B2B has got to step up.
Drew Neisser: B2Boring. Yep. When I think about employers and employee brands and marketing, what I’m talking about is, when a brand is developing a new campaign, they often don’t talk to their employees enough to develop it, and then they don’t give it enough time internally to make the new brand promise real. Essentially, what that means is you’ve just said, “Hey, we have this house, now we’re going to put a new coat of paint on it. It’s pink instead of purple or blue, and we’re going to market. And by the way, employees, you’re going to love this new color.” There’s nothing real.
Ryan Urban: There’s no momentum built-up. Look, we’ve made the same mistake. It’s one thing changing your visual identity, but your value proposition, your other identity, you really have to get a lot of buy-in on that. One major adjustment we made—we were shopping for a new office; this was a little over a year ago… I think the most iconic building in New York is the World Trade Center.
Drew Neisser: Wait a second. I’m sorry. You meant the Empire State Building, right?
Ryan Urban: The Empire State Building, seven years ago, yes.
Drew Neisser: We’ll take this one offline. Empire State Building is a client of our; they’re our only B2C client.
Ryan Urban: Oh really? That’s cool. Actually, when people come in from out of town and visit New York, there are three things I always do. One, walk the Highline. Two, I go to Grand Central, usually on a Sunday, and I do the little whisper trick, and then you go to the market. And three, usually on a Friday or Saturday night when it’s warm, at 1:00 a.m. I go to Empire State Building because it’s open at 2:00 a.m. If you go at 1:00 a.m., there’s no line and you’re on top of the world. It’s pretty magnificent, so there’s some good stuff there.
However, I don’t necessarily want to work on 5th and 32nd. I thought an amazing office would be at the World Trade Center. There are some floors that no one’s ever moved into, like 74 and 75. That was something that I thought, if our company was there, it would be a really special place. But you can’t just say, “Hey, we’re going there.”
It’s something you have to get a lot of internal buy-in. I took the mobilizer at my company and the person who led our design team and a few other people, and we let it happen organically. The company would come in and decide whether we were gonna go this.
We did 20-something tours, the people at One World Trade set up BounceX on the way in. People in the company would go there, videotape it, post it on their Instagram stories. And a few months in, it was clear that we couldn’t go anywhere else but that place, and we needed to represent New York and go there. But if I did the campaigns and then said, “Here’s the new thing.”
Drew Neisser: “Guess what? We’re moving.”
Ryan Urban: Yeah. Then we also changed a lot of our policies. For example, we relaxed some of the work-from-home policies. You live in Westchester; a lot of people work from home on Friday. Overall, whenever you make a move, the commute’s going to benefit some and not other people. But if you’re at a place near 13 subway lines—Lucy and I were on the way here and we used to be in the New York Times Building which is also an iconic building, even though it’s a newer one. Loved that. We were on the 21st floor. Natural light is so underrated. I used to think natural light was a gimmick like fireplaces.
Drew Neisser: No, it’s really about health. If the lighting is bad, it’s bad for employee health. I want to stop you because everything you said there, all the steps that you took are what internal marketing, in my mind, is about. You were selling the idea that we’re going to move together to this fabulous space. It’s no different in my mind than how you would try to sell in a new marketing campaign built on some kind of new promise and, hopefully, a new product idea that’s baked in.
Ryan Urban: That’s right.
Drew Neisser: All that’s cool. How do you measure employee satisfaction? What are the key metrics there? Because when we’re selling in a new campaign, it’s pretty easy: Are they aware of it? Do they like it? Do they embrace it? Do they participate? Do they advocate? But how do you look at it, or do you even bother?
Ryan Urban: We do. We do a whole bunch of things. One, you could look at some facts like attrition, at the tenure of people. Attrition is a really important thing. We do surveys. We don’t burden people with a million surveys, but at least once a year, we do a manager survey, put a few questions there.
We used to do this thing every week called “tiny pulse.” We’ve made the adjustment now, on a quarterly basis, doing different kinds of surveys when doing a performance review. It’s something that you want to take less than 30 minutes time; you want to allocate time for everyone to do it. There are some questions that are really effective, like, “If you had a friend as talented as you, would you recommend that they work at Bounce?” And you can also look at referral rates and employee referral rates: “Are you happy to come to work today?”
Then there’s a whole bunch of the Gallup poll questions that I think are really good too like, “Do you have a friend at work?” At our company, that’s a funny question because people do have a lot of friends, but if you ask that at Google and Facebook, you’re not going to get that. Those are kind of empty places.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. Well, I want to wrap up this segment because it’s been really tight on building an employee brand. I know you have established some new values for the company. You had to move into a new space where you could bring that brand to life, you surveyed the employees…
Ryan Urban: We articulated those values. It’s something we’ve built up over six years, and then we figured out how to articulate them.
Drew Neisser: Awesome. We’re going to take a quick break, and when we come back, we’re going to talk about your business and some of the insights that you’ve gained that will help B2B marketers, in particular, optimize websites—
Ryan Urban: And not be B2Boring.
Drew Neisser: And not be B2Boring. OK, we’re gonna take a break.
Drew Neisser: We’re back and my guest is Ryan Urban from BounceX, who is the CEO and founder of BounceX.
Ryan Urban: The mayor.
Drew Neisser: The mayor.
Ryan Urban: No term limits. CEO is a little too authoritative.
Drew Neisser: And we were talking about B2Boring. Your company specializes, as far as I can tell, in helping folks optimize. Someone’s coming to the website and making sure that experience is personal, that you actually connect with those visitors, and so forth. When you look at the landscape of B2Boring brands, and you go to their websites, what are the first things that you see that make you go, “Oh gosh, what’s wrong with that? That’s bad.”
Ryan Urban: When there’s no story, no life. When it’s a whole bunch of coagulated, congealed buzzwords. There’s just no personality and no authenticity to it. That’s what you need. I think even we could even do a better job of it. You should see what a company stands for when you go to their site. You should feel it.
A lot of B2B companies think they’re playing it safe, but they’re actually playing it risky by not only being boring but having no life. You have to tell your brand story, what you do stand for. Some of the adjustments we’re making—we’re going to put a lot more video case studies, un-gated, on our home page. We put giant quotes. We try to do things a little bolder. I think we’re going to humanize it way more, because B2B is very like, “Hey, we’re up here, and you’re down here. We’re an enterprise. We have this big wall behind us. We have this 1,000-person company, and we sell enterprise software.” It’s got to be way more human.
Drew Neisser: OK, so, we’ve got a story, we’re humanizing it. And once someone comes into the website, this is where your magic starts to happen, right? You guys can identify visitors, connect them, and then personalize that experience?
Ryan Urban: Yeah. We never thought we’d be in this visitor space. There are two ways to improve your website, whether you’re trying to grow your revenue, get more meetings, or whatever else you’re trying to accomplish on your website. And it’s so simple, it’s basic arithmetic. You could either A) get more traffic. You can pay Google and Facebook a lot of money and you can get press and do things to get more traffic. But the whole other side of the coin is, you can improve the rate at which that traffic converts.
There weren’t really a lot of people focused on that. They’re just like, “Oh! Here’s some testing software, go figure that out. Go test the headline.” So, we just said, “Hey, we’re gonna do this other side of the world.”
It just happens that we went down a path of, if we’re able to recognize who a visitor is, then you can roll the red carpet and make a way more relevant experience. And also, not just on the website, but how do you make any email or communication you send truly one-to-one? We only do stuff that’s one-to-one, so we invented most forms of triggered email, everything outside of [inaudible] we invented.
It’s like, “What are the things that people want to get?” We think from a consumer standpoint. I’d say we’re B2B2C2C. I’ve just made this up. B2B is business-to-business.
Drew Neisser: Because that’s who you’re selling to.
Ryan Urban: Yeah. B2C is business-to-business-consumers, so we’re selling to businesses that sell to consumers. We’re not selling other companies to other businesses, but we really think about our customers’ customers first. At Bounce we put our employees first, then we put our customers’ customers first, which is B2B C2C. It’s the last C that is the really important thing. Then when you really think from that person’s perspective, we don’t look at them as visitors, we look at them as humans.
Drew Neisser: Wait, they’re humans?
Ryan Urban: They’re humans.
Drew Neisser: Are you sure?
Ryan Urban: They’re not hits. It’s not traffic; it’s not users. They’re actual people. So, who is the person there? What’s going to benefit them? And when is the right time to ask that person?
We built the business around that. We’ve got to recognize people, figure out what’s going to benefit them, what’s the right timing for that, how do you interact with them when they’re on the website and through email and other channels. It’s just simply starting with humans and benefiting humans.
Drew Neisser: I’ve got to cut you off because there are way too many good nuggets in there. We have to break them down.
Ryan Urban: Chicken nuggets? What’s your favorite dipping sauce?
Drew Neisser: I’m a mustard guy.
Ryan Urban: Regular mustard? Honey mustard?
Drew Neisser: Like, a horse-radish mustard. You?
Ryan Urban: I like a lot of variety in my life. I’ll do a buffalo ranch on one side, a spicy barbecue, and a honey mustard. The horseradish stuff, if I’m a little nasally, maybe I’ll do that.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, it clears out the sinuses. I think this is highly relevant because we’re being humans. Human-to-human is what we’re talking about, human-to-human communication. I had one insight when I was watching an interview that you did with a woman from Inc. about your business.
The problem that you solve, in a very simple word, is bounce rate. That’s the problem, and that’s why your name is BounceX. That was a light bulb moment for me. It was like, “Oh I get it.” Anybody who’s ever managed any kind of website knows that bounce rates are an issue. I remember a client had a 90% bounce rate, and we were like, “Wait we’ve got to fix this!” We’re not in the web business, unfortunately, so it wasn’t our cause. But, solving the bounce rate problem, if we just start at that point.
For Renegade, people search the word “renegade,” and we come up first because we own the URL renegade.com, which is kind of cool. But it means that there’s a lot of people who come to our site who are thinking they’re going to see something else. So those people leave. Fine, see ya, because that’s not really the opportunity.
The opportunity is when the right person, a marketer, comes in and says, “Who the heck are those renegade guys and what are they doing?” what we want to do, of course, is make it easy for them to get to the information that they thought they needed in order to give us a call or hit the email button.
So, I know you’re doing this for B2C brands, but what are the things that we need to have on our landing page to start helping this bounce rate issue go down?
Ryan Urban: Yeah, or just on the homepage in general. The way I used to think was like that, what’s the problem your business is trying to solve? If you look at any VC-funded company, it’s problem-solution. I don’t think that way anymore.
Drew Neisser: OK, you’re thinking bigger.
Ryan Urban: I’m definitely thinking bigger, but I think problem-solution is wrong. It’s more about what’s the biggest opportunity. Sometimes your biggest opportunity is not solving the problem. It’s almost always, what are you doing well, and how do you maximize your strengths? It’s, what’s the biggest opportunity for impact? If we go back to our business, yeah, we’re solving the bounce rate problem, but it turns out, just like you said, you’re getting all of these bounces from people in on the word “Renegade,” but that wasn’t really relevant.
The opportunities are: Who are the people that are going to your website, calling you, and filling out information right now? And who are the people that are thinking about doing it? Where are you most successful? How do you become more successful in that really relevant pocket?
So, it’s not about who’s bouncing and how do you get them to go to another page? It’s, who’s really engaging, and how do you get them to take the next step and engage a little deeper? That was the magic moment for us when we got away from problem-solution and more into figuring out how you can maximize your strengths and find the biggest opportunity for impact.
I would talk to the people who actually contact you, and say, “What was your path? What made you decide to contact us? What did you read on the website?” Our tech happens to be able to see that stuff. And “Is it a case study? Is it a video? What was the language?”
You’ll see when people navigate your website, you’ll have all this information on the homepage, but they’ll barely go through that, they’ll go to other pages. So, you have to think, what’s the most important content, and you need to reinforce it everywhere.
The most successful marketing organization of all time isn’t Apple, it’s the Catholic Church. What they do really well is they reinforce over and over and over again. I think marketers, especially B2B marketers, are afraid of redundancy, but it’s not. Everyone in the advertising industry knows you have to watch a new commercial three to five times before it’s effective, and a radio ad five to ten times before it really settles in. But on a website, you’ll have the one most important piece of information buried below the fold, and you only say it once.
The most critical things to your story, to your value prop, your selling prop for what you represent; you need to reinforce it over and over and over again, the same thing in different ways, everywhere, on every section, and every page.
I think what B2B companies really miss is what they stand for in employees. Like, I came in here—you have a Red Stripe in the fridge. He has tall boy Red Stripes. I’ve never seen this before. So, when I leave, I’m going to come back to the office and think, we need to get a Tall Boy fridge like Drew. It’s very unique. I come in, it’s really good energy. Tall ceilings in the office. It’s like, how do you treat the people who work at the company? Why do people want to work there? Highlight those people. That’s something that we’re going to a lot more of on our site.
We’ve always done that with the news, and we’ve put a lot of cultural stuff, but we’ve put it in the career section. Now we’re going to move that. Our boiling plate, the way we talk about ourselves, we speak much more about internal and how we treat each other. And I think that’s a big opportunity.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. We’re going to take another break and when we come back, we’re going to keep talking.
Drew Neisser: We are back for the final segment. My guest is Ryan Urban, BounceX mayor in perpetuity.
Ryan Urban: Yeah, no term limits.
Drew Neisser: No term limits.
Drew Neisser: I love the fact that in the first and second part of our conversation, it kept coming back to employees, why it’s so important, and how brands can keep that in mind. But before we get back there, you were talking about repetition, and I’ve actually seen studies that suggest that it takes about 24 different impressions to sink deep into someone’s soul so that you really understand a brand and are committed to a brand.
Completely with you in the Redundancy Department, which is an old Monty Python skit, that you do need to tell the same story. It needs to be a focused story. We talk about a six-word purpose-driven story statement that embodies the whole idea. We should be able to discover that right away, and then everything should sort of roll back to that.
Ryan Urban: Right. And there could be some sequential-ness, but you need to reinforce the same message.
Drew Neisser: So, what do you think, right now, is the core of the BounceX brand in terms of that message?
Ryan Urban: Well, taking a step away from BounceX, I think it’s really important—if you happen to get someone to go to your website, which is really, really difficult, you need to have great videos, great headlines, personality all over the page. But the simple thing people forget, and what B2B marketers aren’t good at, is when they do page search, they’ll do a landing page with a whole bunch of input fields, and say, “Hey, to get this guide, you do this thing.” But on their website, they’re very bad at continuing conversation.
There are two ways to continue the conversation with someone on your website because that person’s gonna leave your website at some point. One is that you hope and pray they come back. Maybe they leave a tab open, you hope and pray they come back. The second way to continue the conversation is to offer something in value for them to put in their email and maybe their phone number.
At BounceX, we’re very good at doing this ourselves, but for all of our clients, it’s like, what’s the benefit of that person being on your email list? They know you’re going to contact them. What are all the benefits for that person? We help figure that out, and sometimes, if there’s not enough benefit, we say, “Hey, you have to have a much better benefit.” It doesn’t matter if it’s the Nikes of the world, if its publishers, we figured out how to get people to opt-in on emails on almost every major publisher to CNN.
Part of it was coming up with more relevant stuff, more benefits to consumers there. For a B2B company, it’s, what is something of value you could do a fair exchange for with the prospect consumer on the other side? Figure out what those things are. Different people on your website are going to have different things that benefit them—that’s why we had to build technology to say these are different people in different sections, let’s offer them different benefits. That’s the most important thing. Then you can continue the conversation over email and remarket to them or reinforce your message.
Drew Neisser: My language for that is the give-to-get economy. You’ve got to give value, and you may have to give two, three, four things in order to get your prospect’s attention and/or their email address. You’ve got to give, give, give. OK, so when someone’s coming to a B2B website, what kind of value are we talking about?
Ryan Urban: Give me an example of any B2B company.
Drew Neisser: How about ADP?
Ryan Urban: So, ADP does payroll and they do a lot for large, medium, and small businesses. Let’s say it’s large businesses. So, someone comes to ADP’s website. First, is this an ADP client, or not?
Drew Neisser: I have first-party data, so I know that. Right?
Ryan Urban: Well, if they’re logged in. They may not be logged in, but if they are, ADP might have some other services outside of payroll that is beneficial to that person. So, they need to know who that person is, and think, what’s this next product? Maybe it’s helping them consolidate vendors or save money on something.
If that’s the case, I would put out a 50-page piece of content, a real long-form piece of content that’s the best in the industry about consolidating vendors and saving money, how important it is to save money by doing this, and the authoritative content in whatever that product is. Then I’d say, “We just put out this 2019 report on how to consolidate and save money. Would you like to access this report for free?”
If they say yes, great. Here, where should we send this to you? Maybe you already have their contact information but maybe you get some more information, and say “Are you interested in this?” You could do some pre-qualifying questions there.
If someone is a prospect, someone that’s just interested in doing payroll, you could have “How small businesses like you have switched to ADP and saved money, time, and have efficiency.” Or I’d put that I’d come up with a cost savings calculator or an efficiency calculator, something to give away to these small businesses. In exchange for that, you’re gonna give me your name, email, phone number, number of employees, estimated annual revenue, whatever it is to qualify.
Drew Neisser: Do I need all of that information?
Ryan Urban: You can take the minimal information. What I usually do is ask for the minimum, and after they submit that information, say, “If you answer these two or three questions, we can send you more qualified and relevant content, and shortcut you to a more qualified rep.” Usually, you get 80 or 90% of people fill out those questions if you word it to why you’re asking for them and what’s the benefit for them. I call it the post-submit.
Drew Neisser: Got that. So, what we were just talking about is really good content that is enough to get someone to say who they are. I had the impression that you can do that on a more personalized basis, much more granularly, because you talk about one-to-one. Maybe we have to move to B2C to get clarity on that because I can’t produce 50-page white papers for every single visitor. Can’t do that kind of research.
Ryan Urban: But if you’re a B2B company, you might only have five solutions. So, if you have a solution, if you sell something, one, it should be the best product out there. I race to the top. I want to have the most premium product, and we probably charge five times more than any of our competitors.
We’ll just have the best quality product, the best quality service, we’ll do a few things, we’ll them much better than anyone else, and we’ll be very expensive because we’re worth it. I think that if you are going to put out a product or service, you should also put out the best piece of content that benefits people and maybe some free organic content. If you have something that’s verbose, long-form, and if you can’t put out the best piece of content on that thing you’re selling, then don’t sell it. You should have the best product, the best service, and the best piece of content on that.
Drew Neisser: It’s interesting, so, you see yourself as a super-premium brand in the category. You charge more.
Ryan Urban: Yeah. We provide more value.
Drew Neisser: How do you prove that value? How do you demonstrate that value to prospects?
Ryan Urban: For us, it’s really easy. We sell to see CMOs and VPs of e-commerce and don’t really pull them on what we should build. We observe. And how we observe is by figuring out what they’re gold on. It turns out its really simple marketers are gold on growth and revenue. They need to increase revenue by 10%, 30%.
For us, any product we roll out has to increase revenue. If we happen to improve the website and the one-to-one email experience, it increases revenue. How is that measured? Well, we have our analytics, but clients have their own analytics.
So, we said, “Hey, let’s make sure that anything we do can be measured in our client’s analytics, and they can see independently the increase in revenue growth we drive. If we do that much better than competitors, we don’t need to use buzzwords or anything like that. We can just have the results, charge a premium for them, and build a reputation.”
Drew Neisser: All right, so tying to revenue is really smart because you can say to your client, “Do you want to grow 10%? We can do that.”
Ryan Urban: By the way, being on the revenue growth side, there are cost savings, time savings, and revenue. You can charge way more for the revenue side. To anyone listening here, if you have both of those things, optimize towards the revenue side, growing revenue because there are bigger budgets for that stuff. We got into this media budget, which is great because we can drive clear revenue growth that’s in our customers’ analytics.
Drew Neisser: So, the money for you is coming out of media?
Ryan Urban: Typically, yeah. After our test budget. It’s a growth budget. It’s kind of the same budget people spend on Google, Facebook, brand dollars. We’re the growth budget because we drive growth.
Drew Neisser: Right. And again, your customers’ customers are consumers, right? Because you basically work with e-commerce sites, that’s your core.
Ryan Urban: Yeah.
Drew Neisser: And those folks that are hiring you have a sole purpose, which is to increase yield and get more people to their website.
Ryan Urban: That’s right.
Drew Neisser: That’s it. I mean obviously, increasing yield is not just the yield of the customer visits, but it’s also optimizing sales per customer over a long time. Have you developed a product that also helps in that area in terms of helping them get more increased lifetime value per customer?
Ryan Urban: Yeah. We do everything but get that first person to come to your website for the first time. That’s the only thing that we don’t do right now. We’ll eventually do that too. Google, Facebook, and TV dollars—that won’t get that first person on your website for the first time.
Drew Neisser: Right, the minute they arrive…
Ryan Urban: The second.
Drew Neisser: The second they arrive, pardon me, the nanosecond that they arrive, you are ready to help your customers optimize that experience, identify that individual, give them something personal and valuable that can then convert.
Ryan Urban: Yeah, just have a website that’s made for you and an email that’s made for you.
Drew Neisser: There you go. I’ve talked to a number of people on this show that would have different opinions on certain aspects of what you’re doing or variations. I had Dave Gerhardt from Drift on the show, and their solution is that it’s not about gated forms, it’s about conversations. They have these little bots—chatbots, which are very common with B2B these days—but also the opportunity for human chat. Have you experimented at all in that world?
Ryan Urban: Yes, and there’s a big difference when you’re SMB and enterprise. When you’re selling SMB, if you’re like MailChimp or Shopify where 50% of the people on your website are qualified, to be hyper-aggressive with live chat… When you get to a website and live chat comes up, that’s like when you’re at the mall and people at the kiosks come up to you, saying, “Hey, do you want this?” [Inaudible]. Those kiosks definitely sell more stuff. They annoy the hell out of a lot of people.
Drew Neisser: …but they’re effective.
Ryan Urban: The problem is when you’re like a website like yours and mine where you’re very particular about who you work with. We probably have 1,000 companies in our target market, in our real target market. We’re getting 50 times that amount of people on our website every month. For us, it’s like maybe 1% of the people that come to the website are really people we want. So having a proactive live chat or even a phone number is actually harmful to us.
We need to be way more surgical, so that doesn’t really make sense. And yeah, you could talk about the un-gated world. There is some content that you may want un-gated. But if you have five solutions and I’m spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe millions of dollars. putting together the best piece of content in the damn world on this topic, I’m not gonna charge anything, but you’re going to give me your email. I’ve earned the right to have your email for this piece of content and know who you are.
Drew Neisser: Just to push back on that a little bit, because my conclusion on this is that most of the time in B2B enterprise, they’re so far down the way that I’d rather have you try to figure out who this person using a lead feeder or some other technology than I would ask them to gate to get to the information that they need.
There is very little content out there that, in my opinion, is worth gating. That’s the real issue. Like, my next book, that’s gated content, because I’ve put hours and hours of research into it. But your basic piece of content, unless it’s really truly Forrester proprietary research where you’re a consultant and you’re providing that…
Ryan Urban: And we have three of those pieces, too.
Drew Neisser: OK, fine, you have stuff that is truly exclusive. But most content out there is just regurgitated Google searches.
Ryan Urban: It is. We’ve probably produced a few hundred webinars over the years. If you just give your information once, you have access to 300 webinars and we do really good content there. So, you want 300 webinars? Gives us your information. I think that’s a fair trade.
Drew Neisser: That’s a fair trade.
Ryan Urban: If you want to see a case study, here, you don’t need to pay for that. We don’t do 300-word blog articles. Fluff content, I call it snackable content, we don’t snack, I want a full meal.
Drew Neisser: No snacks for you.
Ryan Urban: No, I’m hungry. That’s one of our core values. Come hungry.
Drew Neisser: Come hungry. Very cool
Ryan Urban: Family style, big meal. I want it all.
Drew Neisser: We’re going to wrap up this episode. I’m gonna provide some observations and you are, too, but I’m going to give you a second to think about the top two takeaways—or two dos and a don’t for you.
My top takeaways are, one, as a company, really get your employees on board with all aspects of the company. Getting the culture and the values right is sort of ground zero when it comes to building a brand. Interestingly, we pivoted into this area of premium brands, and not being afraid to charge more and offer more. Race to the top. Lastly, we had an interesting conversation about content and trying to personalize it as best you can for the audience that is coming to your site. Those are three pretty good takeaways. What do you have? Two dos and a don’t.
Ryan Urban: When you talk about premium, whether you’re selling to consumers or your business or an agency, what everyone wants is bigger clients and moving upmarket. You want people to spend more money, you want to sell more expensive stuff, whatever it is. It’s not being afraid to do that, it’s like, hey, if you move upmarket, you have to provide more value.
Think about, what would it mean, if you had something that was five times as much as right now, what kind of quality would it need to be? I recommend everyone thinks through that, then go and try to do that. Going down-market is difficult. Moving upmarket, everyone does eventually. You might as well pull that forward. I think that’s a big takeaway.
Next is your brand. Your brand starts with your employees. Even saying the word to your employees is uncomfortable. It’s the people you work with. Your brand starts there and building bottoms-up momentum of getting buy-in for different kinds of things is really critical and making sure information about your company starts with your brand, which starts with the people you work with.
And when people are on your website, to continue that conversation, don’t hope and pray. Offer them something in exchange for their email. That’s it. See how many visits you have, how many emails you’re collecting, and make it the goal to collect five times as many emails when people come to your website. It works every time.
Drew Neisser: All right. There you heard it. Collect those emails. And it does matter because we’re ultimately talking about building one-to-one relationships.
Ryan Urban: Then you could do one-to-one, yes. Then make sure you can do one-to-one emails. Whether it’s a human or you use tech like BounceX, do the one-to-one.
Drew Neisser: Speaking of one-to-one, thank each and every one of you for listening to Renegade Thinkers Unite, I’m so grateful for your time. And I just want to remind you that my cell phone is open to ideas. I’m always looking for things that you think are problems that we need to solve here and put our Renegade Thinking Caps on. Speaking of that, until next week, keep your Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.
Ryan Urban: Game on.
Drew Neisser: Oh, by the way, thanks for being on the show.
Ryan Urban: Pleasure.
Drew Neisser: Thank you.
Ryan Urban: Thanks.