Adam had the pleasure of chatting with my old friend Chris Sietsema of Teach to Fish Digital. He saw what agencies looked like, how they were viewed by clients and figured out his own path. We talk about how individual tactics build the brand. His perspective is a valuable way to understand how our traditionally disconnected tasks get us to our goals.

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Adam Pierno 0:29
Welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything. I’m pumped, because I get to talk to one of my old buddies. A lot of times I’m introducing myself to someone new on these things, and it’s super awkward, but this is going to be like two pals talking over coffee, which I think by the internet, we literally are, we’re toasting. Yeah, we’re I have coffee, and I always have one. So even middle of the day. But joining me today, the digital marketing consultant at teach to fish digital, which is the the firm that he started and runs is Chris Sietsema. Chris, how are you?

Chris Sietsema 1:04
I’m great, Adam, how are you?

Adam Pierno 1:06
I’m doing wonderful. And I was just teasing you about your title. I called it low to the ground, right?

Chris Sietsema 1:10
Keeping it simple.

Adam Pierno 1:12
You keep it simple digital marketing consultant, and no slight on that title. But knowing what is inside your head, and how much how knowledgeable and experienced you are. A lot of people would have a hard time calling themselves CEO or founder or chief. You know, some some fancy title, you keep it real simple.

Chris Sietsema 1:33
Those highfalutin titles just aren’t me.

Adam Pierno 1:35
And I’m going to go to the boss here and ask if they can change my title to something like, you know, real starter entry level. tell tell people for those who don’t know you as well as I do. Give them a sense of your career, kind of where you did, what you’ve done and what you did to build up to, before you started teaching.

Chris Sietsema 1:53
Yeah, for sure. I actually started as an architecture student, believe it or not at Arizona State University. So everything that makes

Adam Pierno 1:59
makes sense to me – I don’t think I knew that. But it does make sense the way you approached it, it does a bit and it lasted a grand total of six and a half weeks.

Chris Sietsema 2:09
Ironically, because this is a lot of what I do now I had trouble. Kind of melding the worlds of architecture theory and architecture and practice, know, like, actually seeing how a building should be constructed and actually drawing it out that that I just couldn’t wrap my head around doing that, which is funny, because it’s kind of like what I do now what we do now. Right? Exactly for brands. So I will get out of there as soon as I possibly could. And marketing because that was in the business school and everybody did business. If you didn’t know what to do in marketing was the funnest one.

Adam Pierno 2:45
You knew you wanted to do business? Some kind of you said we’re going to do some kind of business.

Chris Sietsema 2:49
That’s what we’re better than undecided. I think that was the logic in my head is a 17 year old and it’s in school.

Adam Pierno 2:55
I’ve researched this and actually the most common undecided major is psychology.

Chris Sietsema 3:00
My minor no joke at ASU. Yeah. That was my minor. Yeah. So coming out of school, I worked at a small little agency, a startup company that was starting to build websites. And I was there for about five years. And they luckily gave me more responsibility and work than I really deserved. And so I forced myself to kind of learn everything, which was a curse at the time, because it’s just like as a young kid, but also a blessing because I forced myself to learn everything and got a good appreciation of everything kind of became a digital marketing generalist, if you will.

Adam Pierno 3:37
And you got to see how things connect. Absolutely.

Chris Sietsema 3:38
Yep. Yeah, exactly. So bring it back around to the architecture piece that started make more sense in my head now. I left there because I was just burned out as a 24 year old who was just managing all kinds of people and doing all kinds of projects. And I went to a home builder in town. And did well there was a project manager, my title pair was project manager of lead generation. And that was Pulte Homes, Del Webb.

Adam Pierno 4:06
So I quickly realized, that’s where you started to learn the titles are stupid, exactly.

Chris Sietsema 4:12
The titles are dumb. And I quickly learned, I did a lot of email marketing and paid search and digital advertising and conversion rate optimization. Before that it was even really a thing. This is oh five when I could track because I’m a I’m a stats nerd. As you know, I could track the millions of dollars that I was personally responsible for bringing into that company. This is like in 2005, when it wasn’t hard. Like I remember my at the time, my neighbor next door, put his house on the market. 15 minutes later sold. It was crazy, right? I bought a home during that time I was in Phoenix and in Vegas and parts of Florida was just like that, right? So I kind of saw that there was kind of a bubble. But I also realized that the only way to advance in that company was to move to note, no offense to people who live in this place, but moved to Detroit. And I am a desert kid, you know, so I wasn’t planning on going to Detroit. So I left the Pulte Homes and moved on to back to the agency world and worked there for about five years. And another agency called off Madison Avenue, which was started by a couple of good friends of ours also merge with the mighty interactive at the time, who, which was started by Jason or Jay Baer, and was there for about five years and toward the latter part of that stint at LMA or off Madison of my boss at the time, want to be not only to lead a group of people, but also do business development, and sales for the team, which I was distraught about. I

Adam Pierno 5:45
think I was not happy about that. what you were doing there. And this is the up in the down of small agencies, as you pointed out in your first job to you’re doing four jobs. You weren’t doing each one, you weren’t working 160 hours a week, but you were doing each one a portion of your 60 hours that you were building correct and not really doing any one of them with focus as well as you hope to do which is up, which is a blessing and a curse of small agents. Correct.

Chris Sietsema 6:13
And it’s small business. Absolutely. If I started naming off all the things that I was doing, we’d be here for the full half hour that we’re gonna be talking. So. So he he asked me, you know, in addition to leading this team and getting this work done, and you know, being productive, and having a good revenue per employee number, all that good stuff that the agency world looks at, he’s like, I want you to do business development. And I said, Oh, my God, I don’t want to do this. This is sales and marketing are two different things in my world. And I only want to do one of those. And so I took a good buddy of mine out to beers one night, he sold us cars, and he kind of gave me his thoughts on what I should do. And I quickly forgot everything. He told me and I said, All right, and you got into an 87 Miata.

So I, I forgot everything he told me, God bless him. And I said, I’m just going to do this, my own personal way, I’m not even going to try and sell if I get an appointment, I’m going to tell them and teach them what I would do in their situation. And if they want to work with us great. And if they don’t, that’s okay, too. And that was it. That was the entire approach. Here’s what I would do. You want to work with us? Awesome. If you don’t, I can absolutely make recommendations for who you should work with in this town or other towns, that kind of thing. And that works so well that I said, I think I can do this on my own. And so at that point, this is 2010, I branched off and did my own thing and named it teach the fish digital. Kind of along the lines of this conversation. The reason I named it teach the fish digital isn’t a I, you know, I like the whole teach to fish moniker, you know, feed a man a fish feed him for a day teach him to fish feed him for a lifetime. And digital at the time wasn’t that really prominent? It was interactive or online marketing.

Adam Pierno 8:00
Nobody knew how to plug it into their greater scheme for the most Exactly.

Chris Sietsema 8:04
So what I did, and this is a little nerdy, you can kind of see this side of me coming out real quick, is that I looked at search Google Google Trends. I look at search trends, and saw what the trend was for online marketing versus interactive marketing, and digital marketing. And at the time, digital marketing ranked third, but it had the highest growth trajectory. It was on the upswing fast and hard. And so my God, I won’t be teach to fish, online or interactive will just be teach to fish digital. And it’s paid off now, because as we all know, we don’t think of interactive marketing as much anymore. Online Marketing is not in our parlance as much as digital marketing is so

Adam Pierno 8:43
no, yeah, we don’t even say either those two things. Yeah. And we don’t put we don’t put in front of everything.

Chris Sietsema 8:48
Yes, exactly.

Adam Pierno 8:51
Exactly. Although that the push towards experience will probably have people figuring out a way to put good point, X’s or ease or something connected every single part they’re doing for sure. chief experience officer. Yes, is a thing. So what I wanted to talk to you about is I was able to watch you run a work a workshop a couple weeks ago with some pretty high level marketers, and break down. You took us through SEO, it generated some questions for me that I thought we should talk about. As you know, my role, my focus is on brands, understanding people better trying to figure out how to connect the goals of my company to what people that are interested in our company actually want. And when you were talking about SEO and all the ways we can figure out what’s happening, I thought you know, there’s so much primarily the calls, you get the inbound calls you get for for teach to fish are people saying, hey, help us figure out a thing like, we want our website to work better, or we’re trying to run ads, how do we figure out how they’re working or, you know, there’s a conversion point that they’re trying to track? Correct.

Chris Sietsema 10:01
We’re trying to get customers from point A to point Q,

Adam Pierno 10:04
right? All in one step. A lot of times, and what I always lament is there’s so much more we can be learning about behavior through this all the rich tracking that we have, and things we can be doing to apply to that we could figure out how to better serve customers, how we can better grow businesses, how we can innovate just based on looking at our own sites. So I want to talk about different approaches that different points of view, and maybe some examples of things you’ve done that. bring that to life, you know, beyond just, you know, sales conversions are clicking, for sure.

Chris Sietsema 10:41
Yeah, I think the example that we shared with with the group that we talked through, or the internet workshop was, there’s a tool called Google Search Console. Google Search Console is kind of like analytics, but only for SEO, right for search engine optimization. And you can it’s a free tool, just like all the all the quote unquote, free tools from Google that they use our data for. And it was, it’s a tool that you can see like how many people are searching for the terms that you’re trying to rank for? Where are you ranking? what keywords are people using to find your website. And there’s all kinds of little widgets and filters within that tool and one of them, you can actually look at the use of your brand name, right how often your brand name is searched for. And you can see what the trend of that is. And almost by proxy, we can utilize search data to understand the health and the vibrancy of the brand. Right. So if impressions for your brand terms or derivatives of the brand, name are growing, that’s a good thing. And I wonder why that’s happening? Is that due to some kind of outreach program we’re doing? Is that due to a word of mouth effort? Is it due to like new store openings? Or advertising campaigns etc? Or news? Or does news like right PR? Yeah, exactly. Good or bad, right? And if it’s going down, if that trend for your brand is going down? Well, there’s not much I can do from a search engine optimization standpoint to help that, right. Because search doesn’t create demand, it fulfills it. Right. And thus, we can utilize these to understand what we should be doing. In other words outside search, related to branding related advertising related to public relations, and outreach and all those different types of things. How do you help people, your clients,

Adam Pierno 12:35
your partners, just people you’re working with? How do you help them break out of the tunnel vision of conversion focus, or, you know, I think, if I have analytics dashboard up right here, I have 360 up for something I’m working on. And I can get to a, I can get to any specific metric. A lot of times when I open it, I am looking for one metric about one property or page or content module to see one thing that I’ve I just find that dangerous to be focused on any one thing at any given time for, you know, besides answering this specific question for these 10 seconds, to always be tracking that single thing. How do you? How do you show people context, and help, you know, help them understand why it’s important?

Chris Sietsema 13:24
I think a lot of it comes down to the roles within the organization, like who’s doing what, so you definitely have to have people who are tree people and other people who are forest people, right? So that to use the example that you’re using, where you’re looking at a very specific data point trying to understand how to fix a very specific problem, that’s fine. And that’s, that’s important, because it will probably help with that specific issue or that scenario. But we also have to kind of keep our eye on the bigger picture. And us leadership needs to understand what we’re actually trying to accomplish. So typically, when I have conversations about conversion rate optimization, or improving whatever scenario that we’re in, whether it’s getting more traffic, increasing yield, eliminating, eliminating waste, that just for content, or pieces of information that just aren’t working on a website, or app or whatever, I typically pulled back and said like, all right, what are we? What are we trying to do? Like? What is your success look

Adam Pierno 14:24
like? How much do you draw? How much do you hammer home the idea of a lot of marketers, a lot of people use analytics and digital platform reporting as the brain. But really, it is just here’s the collection of numbers, the operator is the brain, knowing how to connect those things is the brain. That’s how your you can any person can benefit from this, if they just know what questions for sure. And with the technology that’s available to us with all those new dashboarding tools, whether it’s, you know, Google Data Studio, or the malware, or any of those different dashboarding tools, I could probably rattle off 15 of them.

Chris Sietsema 15:06
All that like reporting work is done. Like we don’t really have to worry about that. The actual manually pulling and extracting of those numbers should be automated, or it should be pretty simple. Where the analyst earns her keep, is by translating that data and understanding what it means. Like typically, when I train folks who to kind of be analysts, or take up the analyst role within the organization, one of the things I try and say, as for every hour you spend pulling data, spend three or four, analyzing it, right, and trying to translate those insights and find meaning in those. A lot of that is it’s difficult, because when we think of analytics, we think of pie charts and graphs and lines and things like that, which is very left brained. Yeah. The insights party are that’s that’s all right brain stuff. It’s like how do we translate this into a creative, insightful next step on which we can take action?

Adam Pierno 16:09
Please go on and tell me how you take a sip of coffee, there’s gonna be a long give me a long answer, I think so the listeners to this show are the people that are hunting insights that are responsible for generating and finding insights, that are desperate for turning the data into that art that they can be that can be translated for a greater team to do something with to be inspired by? Help me? How, how can we do that? How can I do that? I have a dashboard up as I said, right? To do that exactly. It give me some step by steps here. This is not a tip show. But But I tell you already have this worked out a little bit. I’m ready to go.

Chris Sietsema 16:49
Okay, so let’s go. Let’s work our way from simple to advanced. Okay. simple ways to go about it. Is this, the way that you construct your dashboard, or your custom report should allow you to see deltas very quickly. Right. So you should see from from last period or the previous period to this period? What changed? Right? Now the analyst is the analyst job is not to say, Oh, look, that number went up, done? No, yes. Why did it go up? Why do we care? And what are we going to do about it? So that’s where the kind of the art comes into play. Right, that the report does its job by telling us what went up? Or what went down? And what changed? What modified where the deltas are? The analyst says, Why, like, why did this happen? And if it’s a good thing, how do we get more of it? And if it’s not so good thing? How do we curb that now? The other the other little, I’ve got a little cheat sheet. And I can actually send it to you, Adam, and you can share it with the audience if you want. But I’ve got a list of like 52 questions. And they’re organized. In segments. One, one group of questions is all about the audience, like who is coming to our website or app who is coming from our campaigns? The next is like acquisition, like, Where did they come from? And are those are those channels working for us? Are they not working for us? And what is their role is their role to be kind of building brand awareness, there’s their role, like we talked about earlier to convert. And another group is all about behavior. So when people got to our website, or app or whatever our experiences our landing page, what do they do? And finally, the last kind of quadrant is just conversion rate metrics, like were they successful? And how do we make them more successful. And so there’s 52 minutes, and I’ll send it to you, it’s almost like a deck of cards. And yet, so that’s the cheat sheet that I rely upon. Now getting to the, to the more advanced way of doing this, when you break it down, in my opinion, like I mentioned this earlier, we’re really trying to do three things, not just in marketing. But like in business in general, with respect to gauging success, we’re trying to increase volume, like we want more, we want more traffic, we might want more eyeballs, more people downloading our brochures, or whatever it is. That’s what we want to improve yield. So if you’re like every other business on the planet, your resources and budget are limited. Right? So how do we get more juice for the squeeze? How do we do more with less? Right, like I talked about earlier there? The third kind of category is, how do we eliminate waste? So how do we find things that just aren’t working, and either change them or just kill them? Like, let’s get rid of that stuff. It’s just a waste. It’s not helping, it’s not lifting up the bigger goals that we have. Let’s get it down off the side or Let’s stop running it. Let’s if we’re investing money in it, let’s save that money moving somewhere. I’ve got it, you got it. So within those three little columns, increase volume, improve yield, eliminate waste, there are multiple things that we can look at to figure out how to improve on or to improve toward an ideal state, right? We might not ever get there. But those are the types of things that we’re looking for. Right? So within the improve yield, what one example is like, all right, how do we find content that just has magnetism? Like, so for example, I work for a nonprofit that does different, like sustainability type projects. And they’re kind of promoting that that idea of sustainability. And for whatever reason, they just got a lot of organic search traffic naturally for water sustainability. Okay. And so it’s like, all right, shoot, how do we, how do we create more of that stuff? And what do we do the other areas of our content marketing ecosystem, that aren’t doing as well, they just aren’t getting as much organic traffic, right?

Adam Pierno 20:49
So figure out what is it about water sustainability in that content that draws that pulls, if it’s just the subject, then do we have something that actually pays that off, you know, maybe they don’t have, for example, if they don’t have a program or a product that is really about paying that off, then they have a fork in the road of well, we could send them to a partner, we could create more content that’s like that similar but towards the product, the services, we actually do have to make a give a payoff and offer a way for people to engage with us, you got a crossroads that you get to with each piece exactly

Chris Sietsema 21:22
right. And this discussion is a perfect example of the kinds of discussions that they kind of come out of, of those meetings in which we’re saying, hey, found something, here’s why it’s important. What are we going to do about it? So for every insight that we have, we have to have an action?

Adam Pierno 21:36
How much of it is if if Are you working more on the ground with analysts? Or are you working with marketers and senior people that are not in the dashboards that are looking for the answers are looking to figure out insights? And are two steps away from from the dashboard itself? And are you know what I mean, they’re they’re hearing the report, are they reading a report, but they’re not? tech, they’re not in this tools? So how are they How are they working to get to the answers to maybe do something about brand health, which is a totally different set of metrics and questions than conversions or, you know, improving content.

Chris Sietsema 22:18
So I work with both those audiences. And I almost have to chameleon myself a little bit. That’s going to be hard, totally. But it’s fun, I enjoy it. Because I can go super deep, or we go very high level and talk it kind of an executive level. And the reports that that I create, and that we create with my myself and with my clients that they create, I help them create them. They’re very much a reflection of the audience. So for example, the analyst audience is might be a couple pages, right? We get a lot of detail to dig through and a lot of different things we want to look at and make sure that we’re checking all the boxes and dotting all the i’s and crossing all the T’s. The executive level is like half a page. Here’s what you need to know. Ready, go. Break? And that’s it. Yeah, you’ll you’ll break their mind if you give them too much.

Adam Pierno 23:07
Yeah, just open open interpretation data points. Yeah,

Chris Sietsema 23:10
the tricky part is when you’ve got an executive that does love the data. And so you’ve got to play both sides to that a little bit, which

Adam Pierno 23:18
well, it’s like any, any presentation to the executive team, you have to be able to bottom line, make a bold recommendation, and then be prepared for that person who loves who knows enough to ask detailed questions and have those in your appendix you can jump to slide 81 real quick and say, Okay, what? Okay, I’m ready for that question. Let me show you what, how I got to this conclusion that’s represented 16 hours of work, but it’s represented as one bullet point, for sure,

Chris Sietsema 23:43
yeah, you’ve got to be able to pull that. Pull that something out of your bag of tricks there just in case they want to, they want to get nasty.

Adam Pierno 23:51
So how do you guide those those people that are out of the data to get to the information they want? You know, if it’s a if it’s a brand strategist, a brand manager like a CMO? You know, they’re not they’re not unless they’re at a particular kind of business. They’re not that obsessed with necessarily conversions, or they’re not all gross marketers, although growth is always good. They may be looking at brand health, like we’re like I’m focused on here. That’s really my metric affinity and help. How that How the hell do you measure that? Yeah. So how do you guide people to and I’m not asking you to triage my How do you get? How do you shape the questions that to address that?

Chris Sietsema 24:37
Yeah, typically, we? That’s a great question. And the way that that I tackle that is more about trying to understand where they’re where they’re trying to go. And typically, that brand manager has to report to someone else. Right, that they, they have to kind of explain, here’s what’s happening with the brand to even more senior leadership. This, I want to understand the questions that that that group is asking. But it always kind of depends upon what we’re trying to do. So at the analyst level, it’s very particular, here’s all the data at the at the executive level, I typically don’t steer them on where to find that data, I typically just give it to them. And I don’t know that that’s the best way to do it. Often. Oftentimes, because I’m trying to fish digital, I’m trying to empower people to find their own data. It’s just difficult to do. A lot of times when someone who’s not really into getting into the weeds and going way below the surface to find all that detail, to actually show them how to do it for brand. For brand metrics, a lot of it relies upon a few different things we use as proxy, such as search, volume, search impressions. I don’t do a lot like in unaided brand recall studies type things, but I will pair the information that I can find from the digital world without with that, quote, unquote, offline or traditional research.

Adam Pierno 26:08
Right. So the more things you can, you can add and look at side by side, the more information you have,

Chris Sietsema 26:12
right, the more more context each thing all of a sudden takes on new media. I wish. Exactly. You got it. And I wish there was kind of a silver bullet metric for brand health, for example. There’s isn’t I don’t believe there is.

Adam Pierno 26:27
I’m working on it, right? presentation on what metrics are going to help us understand that and how we’re going to crack it over time. Because surprisingly, social listening platforms seem to have cornered the market on the idea of brand health through some kind of black magic. And pseudo metrics, and it’s like, this is what we can measure. So here’s how we’re going to make it work versus give me science that shows that you’re, that’s really proving it.

Chris Sietsema 26:58
Yeah, it’s kind of like, when my kids are having a fight, you know, and I figure I’m trying to figure out who’s what actually happened. And they’re both in the right, and they’re both in the wrong a little bit. But yeah, you need to talk to, I’ve got to say, I need to talk to both of them, and maybe the neighbor kid who watched the whole thing,

Adam Pierno 27:15
get and get a really good understanding of like, all the different perspectives. Now it turns into an episode of mine, Dante, where you’re, all of a sudden you’re taking apart the whole thing. You’re doing interviews on tape, and Jonathan.

Chris Sietsema 27:27
Yeah, so you’ve got to look at it from multiple perspectives, I think to get the, to get the full story and those multiple perspectives, one of which for sure, social. I don’t think that’s the silver bullet, though. I think you’re alluding to that belief as well. One one component, yet one component. So that’s like one kid. And

I think search volume and that kind of thing,

is a helpful component. But But both of those components rely upon the fact that people actually utilize these tools to get to go about their daily business. Well,

they’re always representative of the entire sample.

Adam Pierno 28:04
And the other the other question is, as the as the strategist and a lot of organizations, as I’ve already said, it’s not in the tool, maybe has some guidance on Hey, I wish I knew this, in comparison to that. So search volume is a great example where if you’re an agency or if you’re at a big enterprise, you don’t, you probably don’t have control over what what dashboards are being created, and how things are being reported to you. So you might say, Oh, I would love to have search volume in this report. But you have to go figure out who’s the person that collects that data that adds it to a dashboard that gets sent back to you, or sent that up the food chain until the executive you want to see it sees it. So it can be really challenging sometimes to know the answer, but not have your hand on the steering wheel to be able to, to drive it and recommend for sure. And in the year 2019. I think the the issue is not the ability to access data, because we got data for days, and weeks and years and millennia. Our issue is how to tame that data. And how to make sure that we are we’re aware of what the data points are that are available to us. But we’re only selecting those that we really need. Right. So one another fun metaphor that I use often is that reporting, whether we’re looking at brand health or conversion rate, or email metrics, or whatever, reports are kind of like icebergs, like, if you think of all the data that’s available to us, it kind of is represented by this gigantic chunk of ice that’s floating on the ocean somewhere, but only, like a small portion of that data resides above the surface. That’s the stuff that we show. And we chose that shows that stuff.

Chris Sietsema 29:45
Yes. Those are the things those are our KPIs. Right, the things that we are utilizing, to start the conversation, and to show our reporting audiences that these are important, and here’s how we’re engaging our success. Amen. So you just said start the conversation, the reports, the reporting, the dashboards are not the end all. That’s not it? Is it? Is the conversation starter? It’s like the agenda for sure. Yeah, like I said, the reports are the easy part like the, the digging below the surface, or to look at all that other chunk of ice that’s way below the surface. That’s where all the magic happens. That’s where the prize that’s so above the surface is what we show below is what the analysts must know. Like, when when we see items in the report that say, ooh, that number went up. I wonder why that question. Why could lead to an hour half digging? and trying to figure out what’s going on?

Adam Pierno 30:37
Right, or 20? more slides? Yeah, no, they didn’t see this news story on Business Insider about. Okay, let me show you what what it was and what actually caused it and what the foundation was that was from this social.

Chris Sietsema 30:49
Exactly. And over time, if we’re doing it right, that report, the way that it looks today, probably shouldn’t look the same way six months from now, right? Like as, as we evolve, as our brands evolve as our needs change, as our target shift, we probably need to adjust our reporting to reflect those those alterations as well.

Adam Pierno 31:10
Cool. I have a question for you that has been tugging at me for a while. And I’ve been I’ve been asking this question a lot as well. There’s a seems like for a lot of people in the digital space, there’s a line between conversion and brand. So anything we’re doing, you get to pick in my role and and a lot of people’s worlds. I Why do I have to pick, I want to do things that could potentially convert or designed to convert, but that don’t harm the brand, or actually improve the brand through experiences we are trying to. And I think part of it is the language. So in the SAS space, it’s thinking about how we can reduce friction, but improve brand experience to increase affinity for the brand, even if they don’t use that language to keep people entrenched in staying in our loop in our product loop. But it seems very much when we’re talking about reporting or digital. There’s this invisible line between Well, we can optimize for conversion, or we can optimize for brand. Now what just get your take on that I’m throwing that out at you. And I wanted to see what what your responses to that. How do you approach that challenge?

Chris Sietsema 32:26
I I hate to pander to the podcast host. But I would agree like

Adam Pierno 32:32
no, I actually encourage Andrew,

Chris Sietsema 32:35
I’ll give you my address for my gift.

I think that you can’t do both, I think in my view, and this is coming from the person that’s that’s that did conversion rate optimization for 15 years straight. And I’ve got the scars to prove it. Sorry. Yeah, it was rough. That’s my mom. I, I think that only focusing on conversion rate optimization, or just conversions general, is a very short term strategy. When at any agency I worked at whenever we got a new client, there was a lot of excitement from all the team members except for me. Because I would always like All right, great new client. Who are they? Because if they didn’t have a healthy brand, that meant Doomsday for me for the next six months to figure out how to build a campaign for an organization or a product or service that nobody knows about yet.

Adam Pierno 33:32
So therefore, if they don’t know that they’re not searching it, right. So you can optimize the three people a week that go to the website. Yeah. But wouldn’t it be better to be optimizing 3 million people a week? Exactly.

Chris Sietsema 33:43
Right, exactly. And so but on the on the opposite side of the coin. When we got a new client from a brand that had health and people knew about or was on the come up in terms of demand and interest, I was the one doing backflips. It’s like, All right, good. My job is gonna be easy, because it’s going to be so much less friction when there’s familiarity. Right?

Adam Pierno 34:10
Well, you mentioned before I needed awareness, I did not prompt you to do that that was an unaided response. And unaided awareness is everything. I go to Google, and I type in Jimmy Johns. I’m going to Jimmy Johns, if there’s one nearby, right if the map pulls it up. But if I go there, and I typed in sandwiches, or ringing that out, again, lunch near me, I’m getting further and further away from converting to that brand. And so when the brand is healthy, and I know what it is, and why like the Arby’s example, you know, it’s like, oh, I want a roast beef sandwich, man. That’s not likely. I want a sandwich with me. Okay, now, since like, it fills my brain cells, my search panel becomes an easier thing to go find.

Chris Sietsema 34:50
Yeah. And sandwiches with me are the best sandwiches. I have

Adam Pierno 34:54
to agree. All sprouts is just land. Yeah. Worth 50 bucks. So

Chris Sietsema 35:01
I Yeah, exactly. And so the way that Google does that, when you just search for like sandwich shop, or sandwiches with meat is they they they’re doing the same thing. And their way of determining popularity of familiarity, is looking at the metrics that say, all right, how many people have been to this place? How many reviews do they have? And what are the quality of those reviews? Right. And so in that, in that way, the review engine is their way of measuring the health and vitality of that brand. And it could be an Arby’s or it could be like, you know, Joe’s sub shop that we make, maybe I’ve never heard of, but people in that neighborhood love.

Adam Pierno 35:39
And I love when I do get a good recommendation that way. But it is usually I usually see a list of three or four things I’ve never heard of, and I have to go into I feel like exploring right now. And I just want you know, especially during the week, like something I know, because I need a shorthand. I’ve got 20 minutes, I gotta go knock this

Chris Sietsema 35:55
out. For sure. Yeah, I mean, and to go back to your original question, like, I don’t think it’s like peanut butter and jelly, right, like conversion and branding have to go together? They have to. Otherwise it’s kind of a planned program. And we’ll have you Oh, go ahead. Go ahead. I was just gonna say that, um, if they’re in those scenarios, where we didn’t have a great brand already, I would be the one talking to the creative folks or, or the strategic marketing folks on the team, then we’re going to create this program to support this with search, however, how are we going to improve that the search volume, like what are we going to be doing from an advertising a branding standpoint or PR standpoint to improve the number of searches? And that’s the number of chances we have to succeed? Absolutely.

Adam Pierno 36:42
Right, right, because I can, I can optimize it. But if it’s a very small thing I’m optimizing, it’s, it’s only going to yield so many results, right need to be filling that pool. And it

Chris Sietsema 36:50
gets difficult when when you’ve got clients with limited budgets who want it all, but can only afford one of those two things.

Adam Pierno 36:58
What are a couple of things, you look at indicators of brand health, I mean, you already mentioned search volume, I would assume organic traffic is another measure, you know, direct traffic, people just getting right into your site or using your your digital products and go right to your messaging, your content, any other hidden brand indicators that you see a dashboard so that you’ve you’ve kind of glean, you hit on the big

Chris Sietsema 37:25
ones, you hit on the big ones for sure. So search impression search volume for the brand branded search. Also, direct traffic, like you said, is a good one. From a paid advertising perspective, I always like to see if there’s other competitors who are vying for positioning for the brand who are bidding on our on our client or our brand, right? That’s always a pretty good sign.

Adam Pierno 37:51
So if there’s intense competition for people bidding against your own brand, and your brand must be valuable. Yeah.

Chris Sietsema 38:01
And I also think to just the other other kind of proxy metrics, like, I know, it’s, it’s a vanity metric, but in a way, like the number of followers you have on social is kind of a good, kind of a good metric for that kind of thing, especially recent subscribers and followers and things like that. Like what the trend of that is, if you got all those followers back in, oh, you know, oh, wait, that’s cool. But you know, it’s if it’s the same ones, that’s a problem. So looking at the trend of that growth. And then in down seasons, if the search volume stays the same, that’s always a good sign. So for businesses that do have some kind of seasonality, if the level of searches remain the same for the brand, that’s always a pretty good sign

Adam Pierno 38:47
on it. So if you’re like Leslie’s pools, we can anticipate that web traffic cuts in half starting in right now, Labor Day probably cuts off as people cover their pools in the northeast and the Midwest. Not out here in Arizona. Yeah, I’m still swimming in mind. But I’m

Unknown Speaker 39:03
still sweating, and mine is too hot. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 39:07
But if we,

Adam Pierno 39:08
if their brand is really healthy, they should still be getting they should be doing things on their site and on their digital channels, where they’re still generating interest from people who like the brand. Correct. And there should be an expected lol. But if it’s not too depressed, that’s that’s typically a good sign. Right year over year, I guess your goal is to pay How can we how can we improve that next year? You know, this, this falls traffic? What did we see that we liked? And how do we improve brand health next fall? That’s our opportunity. And then in summertime, what do we do in store, either online or in person that makes people get into that virtuous loop where they like engaging with the brand enough to read about things that we’re that we’re doing or watch our videos for sure. And kind of a kind of attached to some of those metrics you had mentioned with direct and organic search, volume and impressions. It’s also interesting to try and understand and draw correlations between marketing activities that might have had an impact, like indirect impact on those metrics. So for example, display campaign, or display in general kind of gets crapped on a lot, right, because it doesn’t provide conversion. However, it’s interesting to do flights with display, to see what the search volume is for the brand, when the display campaign is on full blast. And when it’s when the budget for display is suppressed. even beyond view through you’re talking about does this generate enough mental impression that people are reminded of the brand? And I’ve that’s funny that you say that because I would look at, in my big social listening heyday, to I would look at social listening during times where we have display flights going that are not on social and see bumps and mentions, even though nobody ever clicks a banner. Yeah,

Chris Sietsema 40:54
the challenge there is it can be dangerous from an analyst perspective, right? Where you might be giving credit to display. For, for getting all that that boost when it was actually something else. Because it’s, it’s hard to see. It was a correlation. It’s not called There you go. Yeah, the other one that I’ve got an example for is, I worked for a company in the Midwest that sells farming equipment. And they did some YouTube work and some YouTube video production for just one category of equipment. And they promoted the YouTube videos for this particular piece of equipment or this equipment category. And they didn’t promote anything else. And during the time that they did search volume for that particular equipment category increased, the others remained flat. Oh, we didn’t have anything else going on. So being isolate that is valuable to

Adam Pierno 41:46
it’s hard when when some brands have so many channels and so many things, especially for something like that category where there’s a sales force, it’s hard to create a controlled environment for tests like that. So that’s a pretty rare opportunity for sure, for sure. Well, Chris, where can people find you online? This has been a fantastic talk from from my selfishly, I am really working on a deck that that dovetails right into this conversation. So I probably you probably should invoice me for this.

Unknown Speaker 42:15
For all the good ideas you just gave me.

Chris Sietsema 42:17
So I’m on LinkedIn, Chris Sietsema on LinkedIn, and then I’m on Twitter @sietsema

Adam Pierno 42:26
you’re not really time to time.

Unknown Speaker 42:30
Not really on Twitter. I do get noticed. I will.

Adam Pierno 42:35
I will link to both of those things. And I’ll link to teach the first

Chris Sietsema 42:38
I’ll send you those 52 questions to everyone.

Adam Pierno 42:42
I think that’d be great. I really appreciate you making time to join me today. This is wonderful conversation always good to catch up with you. We should do it again soon without my

Unknown Speaker 42:51
phones. Definitely. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 43:01
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Unknown Speaker 43:29
Strategy inside everything and hosted by Adam Pierno. For information about the show, or to find out how to be a guest, you can go to Adam slash podcast. For information about Adams books, under thinking and specific or to find out how to invite Adam to be a speaker and an upcoming events. Please go to thanks for

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