Welcome back to this new section of interviews to businesses using WordPress. This month’s guest is Scott Frangos. Scott, founder of the Online Marketing Agency Webdirexion, is a content marketing strategist, web developer, and site optimization consultant with a strong career history in advertising, marketing, graphic design, sales, seminar and training instruction, analytics, SEO, PPC advertising, ecommerce, and web technology. He is also the author of “The Marketer’s Concise Guide to CRO” with full of tips, tactics, and techniques to increase qualified leads via Conversion Rate Optimization. But let him explain his experience. Let’s welcome Scott Frangos from Webdirexion!
Thanks for joining us to share your experience, Scott. It’s a pleasure to have you here! For those who might not know you, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for the opportunity to interview, Ruth. Professionally, I am a lifelong marketing communications professional with experience in copywriting, graphic design, publishing, and sales. In the 90’s I worked as Advertising Group Team Leader for a global corporation publishing sell sheets, and directing ad campaigns for 6.5 years. My last project for the company (ESCO Corporation) was the company website. I then launched out on my own under a series of business named from FCOM to WebFadds, to Webdirexion LLC about 5 years ago. Webdirexion LLC is a Digital Marketing Agency specializing in custom WordPress sites, content marketing (where we use your excellent Nelio Content product a lot) and advertising and marketing online. On the personal side, I live in the pacific northwest part of the USA, near Portland, Oregon with two publishing dogs — Spirit and Steggman. When I’m not working I enjoy trips to the coast, tai chi, coffee, pizza and craft beer… not necessarily in that order. My parents live not far from here, and I grew up in the area so I see a lot of old friends from high school and college.
Scott, regarding Webdirexion, what are the biggest challenges that you face with your customers?
First, like all businesses we are challenged to acquire new customers and grow our business. Then there’s the need to educate customers so that they understand newer digital marketing strategies and tactics.
As you know, at Nelio we specialize in WordPress and we often write about it on our blog. Your business uses WordPress on your site. Could you tell us why you chose WordPress among the different CMSs available in the market?
Great question. I go back to around version 1.2 in 2004 or so, when it did not even handle “pages” beyond simple blog posts! At that time, I knew that “content management systems” where the coming thing because they solved so many administration challenges. I was trying Drupal and Joomla (then called Mambo), among others — there were literally hundreds of scripts out there then. But it seemed clear from reading blogs that there was a shakedown of 3-7 leaders. Besides, another factor was which ones hosting companies and cPanel were carrying and supporting. And… I just plain liked WordPress for how it was engineered and its ecosystems of plugins and themes.
When things were simpler, I built a couple of themes from scratch and we engineered a plugin. We dove in with WordPress and never looked back — satisfied all the way (wait.. I think I DO remember a few buggy releases, but they mostly have an excellent set of developers there).
Many of our readers are plugin developers like us. One of the problems we all have is reaching our target audience, as the plugin marketplace is huge. What process do you follow to find the plugins you’re looking for? Any recommendations on how to help developers reach potential customers?
Another excellent question. We were marketing our own plugin about six years ago, but did not make it to the commercial version we envisioned so we dropped it. Kudos to your team for the smart work you have done in developing two commercial plugins.
Open source is great, but you have to make money to pay the bills. How to market plugins? My answer is that you take a comprehensive marketing strategy approach to it just like any SaaS company would do (and how Nelio is doing it). Think smart sales funnels: ads(paid)/social and content marketing (not paid but takes time) ⇒ Landing Page ⇒ Giveaways for leads ⇒ follow up with automated marketing (we like MailChimp and a couple of others).
Speaking of how to reach your target audience… You’d probably agree with us that, first and foremost, you must offer a product or service that deals with a pain your customers have. So, let’s help our readers here: what problem(s) do you have right now with WordPress? Is there anything you’d like someone to improve (or even create from scratch)?
We should talk in person about this — maybe we will revive our old plugin which helped call out a variety of excerpts and links to archives generated by WordPress. In my mind there is a borderline for what you want WordPress to do versus using an independent service. I once thought, for example, that I wanted a sophisticated newsletter application WITHIN WordPress. I worked with a developer out of South Africa who still markets such a plugin to this day. He has a good product, but I find that the more features you add, the more you can find usually better solutions using SaaS like MailChimp. There’s the integration with other products factor — MailChimp integrates with our CRM, for example. With your products, we have quit using Hootsuite in favor of Nelio Content because Nelio Content does what we need it to do more efficiently. For your Nelio A/B testing, which we like as well, we still use a handful of services because of the variety of features and efficient interfaces. I am comparing a number of these including yours in my course on CRO (CRO Power) and will get you some good discount coupons for your readers and customers.
Thanks Scott, I’m sure our readers will appreciate that! In Nelio we aim to help our customers succeed with their marketing goals. To do so, we offer two services: Nelio A/B Testing and Nelio Content. You’re currently using Nelio A/B Testing and Nelio Content on your own website, but that’s only one part of the equation. How do our plugins help you? What other marketing actions do you take to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns?
Nelio Content helps us extend reach and our writers can just do it when they write a post. Nelio A/B Testing helps us not only with simple split testing, but also with heatmaps… AND… something a lot of marketers forget — testing visitor flow site wide. It’s not only about simply testing landing pages, it’s also about testing navigation UI, etc. We think of this holistically in terms of a sales or lead funnel. You optimize your ads (after first perfecting brand messaging), then you optimize for visitor behavior and conversions on your site, then you follow up with leads you acquire in both an in person and automated way.
You learn more from failure than from success. There’s plenty we might be doing wrong with our marketing campaigns and it’s quite common to carry out marketing actions that are less effective than what we’d expect. Could you share one of your worst experiences on this subject with us?
First, I agree with you and tell my team that mistakes are permitted. And yes — we do go through failures like anyone else. One big mistake we made delivering automated content via RSS feeds to social media was that we did not screen out for certain words and a hotel we were representing found a couple of articles about prostitutes working in hotels in their news feed. Automation can be good, but in the end you need to slow down and carefully manage what you do in social media.
Most of our conversion rate test results are not as dramatic as the big hits reported in case studies, though we do see iterative increases most of the time. Sometimes the B version does not perform as well as the A version we already have in place and you have to revisit your testing hypothesis. Often a simple change in wording makes a huge difference. One example I give of that in my book, is that once in the 90’s I was doing a sales job and the company (Office Depot) wanted us to sell upgrades for office chair coverings. Customers could select from over 50 types and colors of fabric and 8 different leather colors. I was telling them they could color coordinate with their office by upgrading. Little sales. In fact, for a while I was at the bottom of the list for upgraded fabrics on chairs. So I called up some of the leading sales people and asked they what they told customers. Turns out it was not the range of colors and matching their decor that mattered. It was durability. When I switched to saying, “for just $20 you can upgrade your chairs to a fabric that will last 5-20 times longer”, it changed everything and I was lead in sales for the district. Research. Think like a sales person. Try a different “pitch” in your headlines and A/B testing. It really does improve your ROI.
Finally, did we miss something you’d like to point out? Any final words of advice?
Whether is the tools you use, the tactics, or the strategies — just do it. You will never avoid honest mistakes. Sometimes I think about all of the people BEHIND the websites we build, from the teams at the host, to the WordPress core crew, to the teams like the Nelio folks behind great plugins, right up to our own development and marketing members. How amazing is it to think of all that goes on behind the scenes? Most clients really have no idea of this. It’s a great community effort and I am lucky to be doing what I enjoy among such talented people.
Wow! Thanks, Scott, for answering our questions and your great contribution. And thank you all for following us and reading these interviews. Stay tuned for the next one!