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Ask an Expert: Scaling Digital Processes

Our Scaling Digital meetup speakers discuss how they scale marketing. Hear from Rhea Drysdale, Chris Le, Joe Griffin and Cindy Nieves Boynton.

Scaling Digital: An iAcquire Meet-Up – Meet Our Speakers




Small-scale marketing activities rarely make any waves. Brands must learn how to take small wins and scale them into grander campaigns – all without sacrificing quality and maintaining efficiency.

As we prepare for iAcquire’s September 25th meet-up in New York City, “Scaling Digital: Making Big Processes Work,” our panel of speakers mull over the meaning of scalability. Read on to hear the insights of our meet-up’s panel: Joe Griffin, Co-founder and CEO at iAcquire; Chris Le, Software Engineer at Conductor; Rhea Drysdale, CEO at Outspoken Media; and Cindy Nieves Boynton, Director of Operations at iAcquire.

We Asked:

1) What does digital marketing scalability mean to you?

2) How do you appropriately scale marketing tactics to make them work on a grander scheme? And, How do you maintain quality?

3) Cite an example of how you have taken small successes to the big stage.

 

They Answered:

 

rhea-drysdale-high-res (1)1) Scalability in the field of digital marketing looks like process development, prioritization, and investment in tools. Those make or break marketing campaigns daily and it’s a rookie mistake to not consider all three. Put too little or too much emphasis on each area and you’ve wasted time and budget. I don’t know about you, but I have neither to waste.

Let’s look at process development–whether they take the shape of daily operations, quality assurance, or long-term planning, there are standard operating procedures that every marketing team needs to scale efficiently. Without those SOPs in place, the team is at the whim of a few key individuals holding onto the majority of the knowledge. You can’t scale manpower without process development.

You also can’t scale without prioritization. What I mean by this is that some projects, clients, or team members simply won’t produce work that is scalable. They have something intangible that make them successful. While that’s wonderful, magical unicorns aren’t scalable. If you’re trying to scale your marketing efforts, you need replicable growth. To achieve this, you have to stay focused on what is important over urgent.  Don’t get distracted by shiny objects, be meticulous about prioritizing your digital marketing efforts on what produces consistent, qualitative results.

Lastly, tools are essential for scaling digital marketing. At Outspoken Media, we don’t build tools, but we spend a heck of a lot of time researching, purchasing, training, and using a suite of tools that allow us to implement the aforementioned processes and priorities. With a reliable tool set that fits our needs, we can handle big accounts with a small, boutique team. Constructing or simply utilizing the right tool for your needs turns a wimpy digital marketer into a weaponized marketer ready to take on the most difficult challenge.

2) Quality assurance needs to be baked into every digital marketing campaign. From inception it should be clear what the objective of the campaign is, how it will be measured, how the objective affects broader business goals, what tools will be used, how the work will be reviewed and approved, etc. Ultimately, quality assurance comes from people, not tools. While we can setup any number of guidelines and filters, it’s vital that human review remain an active component of quality assurance.

Think of Google’s algorithm. Google employs thousands of human quality raters to validate the efficiency of the algorithm and help improve it over time. You cannot lose the human element of sound judgment. However, we also are our own worst enemy – it’s important to build standards that hold people accountable to a predetermined definition of quality.

3) I think the point of scalability is that it’s not necessarily a big stage, but many small stages tackled in unison. To this extent, we built a blog quality matrix for a client last year that allows us to quickly review industry relevance, domain authority, and social factors. Those three areas plotted on a matrix tell us whether to pursue a particular blogger or not. The end result is that we’ve developed one of the most successful, reliable, and easily scaled link building methods in the history of our company and it’s driving both repeat and new business for us and the client. What makes the quality matrix work is its flexibility.

You can’t scale digital marketing long-term without recognizing the need for change and situational variance. Technology and society are changing daily, we have to plan for that or a rigid marketer will crumble. Want the best example I think of outside of the field of digital marketing? The United States Constitution. We can learn a lot by examining our forefather’s decision to embrace flexibility through the elastic clause, an amendment process, and judicial review. Build a similar framework into your business and digital marketing efforts and you will be unstoppable.

- Rhea Drysdale, CEO at Outspoken Media


joe-griffin1) Scalability means growing your digital marketing initiatives as much as you can before hitting the point of diminishing return.

2) In order to scale marketing tactics you really have to cover every basis of the process. You can’t scale anything without defining every possible avenue of flow. What happens if the lead price goes to high? What happens if your sales team starts slowing down the response rate? How will you cope with rising media prices? Do you understand every threshold? Getting the right software, metrics, and process in place is critical to scale. You also need to think hard about marketing automation (like Marketo) as you scale. Every one percent better conversion really adds up when you grow your marketing spend and tactical approach.

3) iAcquire is all about executing small and diverse projects to determine marketing tactic efficiency. We regularly deploy internal case studies on the success of campaigns. We often refer to these as SWAT projects, and we even launched a project called iAcquire Tests to give people more insights into some of these projects so they are able to scale our efforts to their business. To be specific though, shortly after Google Authorship launched we began testing its validity. After seeing positive results we decided to crawl the Internet (that’s not a joke – we do that sometimes) and build our own author graph. We’ll be rolling out a formal author scoring system soon called VoiceRank™, and that will tie directly into ClearVoice™ (an iAcquire brand). ClearVoice will allow publishers and brands to connect writers with high Google Authorship clout, so they are able to scale their content marketing efforts on a grander scheme.

- Joe Griffin, Co-Founder and CEO at iAcquire


Chris-Le1) Digital marketing scalability means being able to do more things but with less effort. You can do that many different ways. You can automate things with a computer. That’s what I do for a living.  But you can streamline a process by removing steps you don’t need or removing decision points that slow things down. Sometimes, streamlining is a lot cheaper and more effective than hiring a developer to automate an inefficient process. In the end digital marketing scalability is achieved when you can get more people thinking and being creative than hitting control-c, control-v all day long.

2) One thing I’ve learned about scaling is that you have to fix problems while they’re small. It sounds obvious but it’s counterintuitive. You might think, “Oh, it’s a small problem. We can fix that later.” But in reality your problems will scale too. Small problems become really big ones. Those problems, whether they are technical or not, become black holes for resources. They take up everyone’s time, money, and, most importantly, brain power. It’s like blowing up a small picture. All the small flaws you didn’t notice before will get magnified. It’s better to fix those problems now while they’re still small before scaling up to the next level.

3) I remember when the SEO Toolbox was a very small tool for a few people in the office. They found it really helpful so I expanded it a little. While expanding it, I had to fix a few small issues so that when more people used it I wouldn’t get an inbox full of questions. Next, I had a lot of people asking me how to use the tool. I needed to streamline that process so when I took it up another level, I created a small internal website with examples. I iterated many times to get the site to a place where the tools and website was really helpful.  Each iteration was bigger than the last. By the time it went public the small problems were fixed and the process for getting up and running was streamlined. That’s when we decided it was ready for the big stage and go public.

- Chris Le, Software Engineer at Conductor


Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 2.01.12 PM1) Digital marketing scalability means having the right balance of quality and productivity in rapid execution of our marketing goals.

2) You have to build the process first by engaging your team and making them part of the development of that process.  By including them in the solution, they own the process and will effectively be able to teach others, build, and scale that process.

3) One example of how I have taken a small success to the big stage was by cutting our content production lead time by 60 percent at iAcquire. We found that we were not utilizing our resources as efficiently as we could have, so we cross trained team members into different roles to help with shifts in (content) volume and demand. This allowed us to streamline content production by increasing our throughput and our flexibility.  With a lot of communication, training, and clear expectations we made a big impact to a critical part of our operation.

- Cindy Nieves Boynton, Director of Operations at iAcquire


Additional Reading:

If you haven’t signed up yet for our meet-up do it now. You’re not going to want to miss gaining insight into building and implementing processes, gauging content credibility, and working with developers to maximize your organization’s digital scalability!