[03:29] No problem. So for the folks in my audience who are not yet familiar with you or your work, let’s start there. Who are you? And what do you do?
- Nice to meet your audience. My name is John Lincoln, I run Ignite Visibility, been running it for seven and a half years. My whole mission is to help people through digital marketing, use profits to reinvest in client success, employee success in the community. So we drive a mission-driven digital marketing agency here in San Diego, and I love what I do. Multi-channel digital marketing strategy, it’s my pleasure to help people become number one in the space or help people who are already number one in the space reach their goals.
[04:10] And your company has been on the Inc. 5000 a couple of times now, I believe, right?
- Yes, pretty proud of that. We’ve had great growth, and we’ve been working at it for a while. We’re a four-time Inc. 5000 company, we’ve made it the last four years in a row. And we do the same type of stuff that we do for clients for ourselves. So, we invest a lot in digital, and we really enjoy, kind of scaling our own marketing efforts and using those same systems and strategies we come up with for clients.
[04:37] Okay, so the agency space, super competitive. You’ve got to really do some different things to set yourself apart and achieve levels of growth like you’ve achieved,, And so what I’m hoping to uncover for the audience in this interview is some of the unique things that you’ve done because they may be applicable to folks who aren’t necessarily running agencies. Obviously, that would be applicable to someone running an agency, but also to other people running other forms of online business.
So I know when we talked in our pre-interview, you talked about how you like to do one big thing per year. What do you mean by that one big thing per year?
- Yes, good question. Well, yes, it is competitive. But there’s pain points in the industry and competitive spaces don’t scare me. I’ve been going into competitive spaces for a while. That’s what gets me excited, a good challenge. So that point, what’s one big thing per year? Well, I mean, everybody should have a quarterly marketing campaign or an annual marketing campaign that they’re putting a ton of effort into. From my perspective, we’ve done it for Ignite in clients. But, I had a book I wrote one year called Digital influencer. The next year, I made SEO: The Movie. The next year, I made another book called The Forecaster Method, and also Social Media Marketing:The Movie. So two movies, two books, one big thing a year, one big marketing push.
You mix in there, an industry study every quarter, some other types of marketing campaigns that get your target demographic involved, and you’ve always, always have something kind of new and exciting to talk about. And so that’s what it’s all about, for me just always keeping the brand relevant, exciting, and something I always try to do. I mean, even this week, I’m going to be doing some recording for some events that we’re doing with Microsoft, and Yelp, and Google. So just always kind of keeping the brand top of mind is really important.
[06:32] So for folks, let’s talk about the book for a little bit. Most people—so, but I think it’s fair to say that most people think writing a book would be this overwhelming task that they would never have the time or the bandwidth to do. And they might wonder, “Well, what would I write about? What do I have to say?” and so forth. There’s hacks in the world for that. There are ghost writers, there are book in a box services and so forth. How did you go about writing your book? And why did you write your book?
- So that’s a good question. There are services that will do the whole thing for you. I mean, there’s a million different ways to approach it. The first time I tried to use a ghostwriter and give them an outline. And I had to go back in and rewrite the whole thing, and it took so much longer. So the first book was on how to be a digital influencer, how to become an influencer in the space. I was working on the same problem myself. I had kind of cracked the code on some level. I wanted to take it to the next level and I wanted to help clients and subject matter experts with that same strategy. So, I used the book as a learning experience, and then also bringing my own experience to people who want to learn, and it’s a very, very good process for getting ideas out there to the world.
The second book was on forecasting. And I believe that that’s one of the biggest pain points in digital marketing right now is what’s reliable forecasting looks like? How do you set up reliable tracking? How do you take all the guesswork out of digital marketing? How do you make it so that digital marketing is not really digital marketing, it’s actually future cash flow, that you can actually see exactly your CPAs now, and then what that looks like in the future with the amount of budget that you’re going to invest in that. So I’m just obsessed with that.
I’m obsessed with being able to go to a client and hit daily, weekly, quarterly goals based off of our exact strategies and in spends and tie that all together. So that’s what I did with The Forecaster Method is really kind of crack the code on that. And we really did a good job there of bringing that program to clients.
But the main thing, if you’re looking to write a book, get ready to lock yourself in a room for six months for a couple hours and really put in the work because, and ignore a lot of people in your life, if you want it to actually come from you. And I highly recommend you take the time to do it yourself. And you can use a third-party service to embellish some things, but no matter what, it’s you at the end of the day. You’re gonna have to read it, you have to go back through, you’re gonna have to edit the whole thing. If you’re gonna do an audio version, you’re gonna have to either do it yourself, or you’re gonna have to find somebody to read it for you. It’s a huge undertaking.
[09:10] Okay, so you didn’t take any of the shortcuts, you did lock yourself in a room for six months for a couple of hours each day and devote that time to writing the book. Is that right?
- I did, yes. In both cases, I did. And I’ve got a journalist background, I was an editor at a magazine for four and a half years. So, I’ve been a writer and a blogger, and essentially, you just lay out all the chapters. You can pull in some third party stuff. If you’ve written blog posts in the past, you’ve got some content that’s out there, you’ve done presentations. I’ve done some industry studies, pulling all that data. But I guess maybe one tip would be if you’ve done a ton of content marketing, or you’re gonna do a ton of content marketing, why not align that with a book that you’re going to write? So I did a little bit of that, like I tried to with both books, take the best of everything that I had done. And then also try to align the content marketing strategy I was going to be doing in the future with the book chapters, and then you can kind of wrap it all together. So that’s a good little hack for you, I suppose.
[10:14] Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about what people would learn when they read your second book, because I think that that is—there’s going to be some really great nuggets in there that people can take away. And hopefully, some of them might even go and buy your book.
So you talked about treating digital marketing as a way of forecasting the future, if I understood what you explained correctly. So can you give us an overview of what that means and what the structure looks like? And how to actually break that down and make it actionable in a business?
- Yes. So, I was a teacher of analytics at UC San Diego for seven or eight years in the digital marketing program. So I just became obsessed with Google Analytics, right? So in analytics, you have mediums and sources. Mediums, a bucket, underneath that is a source. A source is a specific piece of traffic, like Facebook, or email marketing. And essentially, what you can do is you can look at audience size, click through rate, conversion rate, cost per acquisition, and then you can build an entire business model around your spend, around your efforts. And then you can build a forecasting system. So that, if you turn the dial a little bit, you can increase the amount of input into your funnel, and then you can see, as that user, in those buckets of users go further and further down in the funnel, where’s the break in the chain? And if there’s a break in the chain, you can fix it.
So the book really teaches you how to do all that, and it teaches you how to not only set that up, and set that up from a clear reporting perspective, but also how to convert that traffic for less over time, because I believe that the future of the web is building audiences, but then also finding ways to convert those audiences for less, because it’s going to become, basically a land grab for how much all these different people can spend. But if you have the best conversion process, then you’re going to win in that game. So that’s kind of what the book goes over.
It also goes over what a program looks like from start to finish. So if you’re just getting started. You’re a $1 million business, it talks about what that type of program looks like, all the way up to multi billion dollar business. And I’ve had the tremendous opportunity throughout my career to see every single stage in the journey for clients from when they start to when they become these full blown billion dollar companies. They’ve got athletes, they’re doing billboards, they’re doing sporting events, they’re doing all this stuff. And it’s very much the same framework that you see within this type of journey from start to finish. So we go over that in the book as well. So, it’s really kind of like the modern day CMO’s guide, and digital marketer’s guide and entrepreneur’s guide to going into digital, measuring it correctly, forecasting, and then just plotting the program from start until finish.
[13:03] So let’s assume—because I want to try and give as much value to the audience as I can, even if they don’t buy your book. Let’s assume for a moment that the book was no longer available, and you’re sitting in a room with a client talking to them about how to develop the strategy for their digital marketing over the coming year. What would be some of the things that you would be focused on very initially? Would it be coming up with your promotional and editorial calendar and laying out the cadence of your promotions? Or does it start someplace else?
- Well, we could go through an exercise. So the first question I would say is, “What are your goals?” Right? So give me, what’s a goal that maybe you would want to hit in a quarter?
[13:47] Okay, well, we’ll use my software company as a guinea pig. So right now, we are at a point where we are making some—we’ve created a product for a new target audience. And we have enough historical data to know that certain aspects of the product are absolutely going to resonate, but there’s some uncertainty because we haven’t created exactly this product for exactly this target market, so we need to figure out our go-to market strategy. So that consists of creating some content ranks, running some ads, running some micro tests, looking at the data, at least, that’s my perception of what it can consist of. So let’s use that as our scenario.
- All right, so let’s say that you say, “Hey John, I need to get a thousand signups in a month for my new software.” First thing we would do is figure out who your customer is. We would figure out where your customer spends time online. We would look at all your competitors. We would look at all your competitors ad, spend by every single network. We would look at their ads. We would look at how much you’re spending versus how much they’re spending. We would look at the cost per acquisition framework, a projected cost per acquisition framework to get a customer from every single different network, every single different audience and then we would build a business model for you.
So we would say, “Okay, you want a thousand people to sign up, it’s going to be $100 a sign up, we think, for this network, 150 for this network, 300 for this network. If you invest in this, we’re going to be able to build a dashboard for you that’s going to show you exactly what that acquisition framework looks like.” And then you’ll have the opportunity to say, “Okay, this is working, put another 5000 in this, another 5000 in this.” and scale, and scale and scale. Of course, along with that, the landing pages are very big deals, so there’d be custom landing pages. And then what’s really working well now is top of funnel to bottom funnel, and then remarketing specific strategies by ad network.
So what I mean is, we kind of introduced them in a nice positive, non-conversion way. And I know you know some of this, but just for your listeners, then we nurture them further and further down. And then those bottom funnel ads are really just direct conversion-based ads that get them to that final conversion-based landing page.
We’ll also set up specific landing pages for specific areas in the funnel. So, the top of the funnel landing page might be just a webinar or something that captures an email address. We build an email marketing program off of that as well, kind of nurture them further down. And then the post-conversion remarketing type of stuff is really good. If you’re doing account based marketing, and you’re looking to sell them additional products and additional services, I know you have other companies, so that’s something that you could look at.
But, generally, what’s nice is we’ve got a really great tool called Pathmatics. We’ve got a bunch of other software around here. And that allows us to see, in any space, exactly what the top players are spending, and then we try to build a model for you that’s a little bit more niche, high converting, and then allow you to slowly scale to that top area. So that’s kind of how we would approach something like that.
[16:51] Is Pathmatics a proprietary tool? Or is it a tool in the marketplace that you just use?
- Good question. So Pathmatics is a software anybody can sign up for, it’s really cool. It’s kind of like some SimilarWeb. It shows you all the data that’s out there. It’s incredibly expensive but we have a subscription for that. We do have a proprietary tool, it’s called our Forecaster Method. And what it does is it pulls in all the industry benchmarks and then overlays a conversion rate. And it shows you how far off you are from all the other people in the industry and where the delta is for every different type of medium there is in digital marketing and source. So that type of stuff. It just takes all the guesswork out of it.
And for me, just doing analytics for so long, and I’ve been doing this stuff all day, every day in it, and really more obsessed with the analytics side than anything. It gets me really excited to be able to go to a business and say, “This is everything everybody else is doing. If you do this, you’re gonna be right here within range.” And then you can decide if you want to have a business model that follows that.
And the last thing I would say is, one thing that’s made us a four time Inc. 5000 company, and is also in that book, is I have a rule. And the rule is I never take my foot off the brake for marketing, and I try to encourage clients to do the same thing. So if you consistently reinvest 10% in your marketing budget, and you don’t change that, you don’t change allocation or anything, that’s going to consistently drive growth. And then it’s just a matter of the organization making sure you’re set up operationally to follow. And the last point I would say is we’ve cracked that code, too. So now, we have all of our digital tied to our operations. We’re forecasting, we’re able to hire, we’re able to do all this stuff way in advance to make sure we never have any lapses or any issues. So I like talking to business owners about that, because it’s like, I can kind of help that whole business consulting side, too. It excites me, so.
[18:49] With your background in analytics, which is, I would say not one of my strengths, not anywhere near yours, that’s for sure. As you’re building, what you just described, is Google Analytics, the central repository for all the data that you’re using to make your decisions?
And the reason I asked that question is that in the small amount that I’ve done so far, I found that oftentimes, there’s disagreements with what your Facebook reporting is showing you versus your landing page software, what that’s showing you, versus what Google Analytics is showing you, and in other interviews, this has come up. And I’ve been told that, once you start going across domains and the funnel data can get lost or things get mixed up. And then you have less than ideal data to show you whether or not the campaigns that you are running are as successful as you think they are or not. And obviously having great data is pretty darn important to making good decisions.
- Yes. So you just hit on the number one pain point in marketing right now, which we have worked really hard to crack, which is attribution. So we have an analytics team. We have a big data team here. We have people who just do custom analysis. So there’s linear attribution, which is just you attribute the conversion all to a straight line. There’s last click attribution, there’s the last click, it’s all the credit. There’s first click attribution, you can remove certain things from an attribution window. You can attribute conversions based off of just a view-through, and the view-through conversions, like if somebody just watched an ad, and they convert, that does not integrate well with last click. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can track conversions. There’s also like over the top TV and programmatic and they just will attribute a conversion based off of a pixel on your phone, and then your location that will trigger it.
So the question then becomes, what type attribution do you have for different types of businesses? And that’s a question that every business needs to figure out for themselves. But generally, what I recommend is a weighted attribution model, and then also looking at something called multi-channel funnels. Multi-channel funnels basically shows you every single-assisted conversion within the attribution process, and so, you know everything that’s contributing to the marketing mix. And then also, if you’re going to be doing view-through conversions, you need to come up with a brand lift or a conversion lift model as a result of that. So if you get a thousand view-through conversions, and you can isolate that data, then you can say, “Okay, that generally results in about 20% more last click conversions.” There’s also the option to have like coupon codes on stuff like that, or have a unique URL, or a unique domain, that’s what they do with a lot of the TV tracking and radio.
But to just break it down a little bit more, what we do is we set up the attribution for you, we give you a strategy for your attribution, and then we make sure that it hits all your KPIs. And if you have questions about some of the weird stuff, with the view-through stuff that’s kind of like half-baked right now, we build a custom report for you, but it’s a pain point.
[22:04] So again, I want to follow up on this. The thing that I’m trying to figure out is, for folks who are not working with you, who are listening to this, looking for actionable takeaways. If they’re working on—it’s great that you have a method for this, but they’d have to come and sign up to be your client, for you to do that method for them. What I’m trying to extract from you is, if they’re not, for whatever reason, they’re not going to end up working with you, what are some of the best practices that they can do to get attribution figured out? Should they be, what are the tools that you recommend?
- No, I’m not going to tell you. Just kidding. No, I’ll tell you. The tools that I—sorry if I did not directly address that. Yes, so I recommend you do this, listeners, please do this. Use your multi-channel funnel report, and look at your assisted conversions and your last click conversions as the main things that you look at, for your attribution. Also, when you’re running ads, tag every single one of your URLs with the URL tagger inside of Google, so you can see any ads out there. Those three things will get you 90% of the way there.
And then the last thing that I would recommend, is set up a custom dashboard for yourself. You don’t need to pay my agency or anybody for any of this stuff, you can do it all on your own if you have the time and the energy, there’s no question about it. I really like Google Data Studio. That’s a free thing where you can go set up just a beautiful dashboard for yourself. And then I also like Ninja Cat. Ninja Cat is not free. But Ninja Cat, what I love about it is you can kind of go top level to bottom level from your goal. And then you can go medium source all the way down to the ads, and it’s got more granularity than Data Studio. So those would be the things that I’d recommend.
[24:01] And so the assisted conversion, then last click conversions and tagging URLs, is that all stuff that you perform in Google Analytics?
- Yes, that’s all Google Analytics. Correct.
[24:11] When would be a use case when someone will be using Google Tag Manager in addition to, or in replacement of Google Analytics?
- Well, Tag Manager is a way to deploy analytics, right? So Tag Manager is, okay, what Tag Manager is a container, and a container that can hold anything you want. So it can hold your Google Analytics code, your Google Search Console code, your Bing code, whatever code you want to deploy. So you should all have Tag Manager deployed on your website, no matter what. It’s like, you log into a back end, they give you a piece of code you put on your website and allows you to deploy all your other code on any page that you want, makes it super easy to send out Facebook, pixels, and stuff like that. So definitely do Tag Manager. If you don’t have it set up, you should. The main benefit of it is, gives you more flexibility. It’s way easier than putting code, like inside of the code of your website, and makes your site faster, too. Because you’re not deploying all these different scripts. It’s one script that deploys them all.
[25:17] Okay. That’s great. actionable advice. Thank you for that. All right. So before we round up—we’re still okay. We’re gonna skip past the movie. I know, we talked about it in the pre-interview, but I think that’s going to be—just so the concept of making a movie would be so overwhelming for the vast majority of people listening that they’d be like, “Well, that’s interesting, but I’m never actually going to do that.” You did mention to me that you landed Tony Robbins and Fox. I’m assuming Fox News or Fox something, as clients? And there’s some good stories there. So let’s dive into those.
- Okay, well Fox was the—I worked on all the Fox Movies, so like X-Men and stuff like that. We would make websites for them, push it out, run their social media campaigns. That was a ton of fun. And Fox was somebody I worked with for three or four years at the last agency that I was at. So I was the main person on the account.
Tony Robbins is, yes we landed him. We brought a lot of value. He’s been a client for six years. His mission, all the stuff that they do is really near and dear to the business. They’re a huge client for us. I’m working on all their stuff all the time. And I’ll tell you what happened. It was manifested the way that he became a client.
So I was like, 25, I was really into some of this stuff. And I was kind of going through a couple things and wanted some motivation. I wanted some life purpose. That’s kind of how I came up with digital marketing as my mission, to help people in the community and reinvesting in client success and play success in the community. So I sent out a tweet, and I sent out a tweet to Tony Robbins said, “I’d love to do your SEO,” we’re doing mostly SEO back then.
[27:05] When was this?
- This is, like 2013. 2014, a year later, we get an RFP. So an RFP comes in, and guess who it’s from? Tony Robbins. RRI, Robbins Research International. So I worked all weekend on it, just put a ton of effort into it, a ton of time, ton of energy, I loved a lot of this stuff. And then their team comes in, they come in, they say, “John, this RFP was so well done, I can tell so much about the brand. We’re ready just to sign up right now, this is just a formality,” which has never ever happened to me for an RFP before. So they became a client.
And it—again, it’s been about six years. And then since then, we’ve helped them with so much stuff. Launching books, content marketing, running all their paid media, email campaigns. A lot of the stuff in the forecaster method comes from the frameworks that we’ve built for multi-channel marketing, around the stuff that we’ve done for Tony. We’ve been able to consistently scale that business. And then yes, just turned into a great relationship. So now we’re launching his new book with Peter Mallouk, who’s from creative planning, which is this really great company that does financial planning, and that’s going really well, it’s on Amazon. And it’s one of the one of the top books, I think it’s number two right now in retirement planning. So yes, it’s just fun to work with him. I love the mission driven organizations stuff, all the surrounding businesses. And, and so that’s that story.
[28:43] Well, who knew that sending a single tweet would result in such a tremendous outcome?
- You know what, you should—everybody listening, give it a shot. I sent out a tweet the other day, I said, “Hey, I’m looking to buy business.” I had four people who reached out to me, and now I’m talking to people about purchasing businesses and new business partners. A tweet is very powerful. So…
[29:06] Do you have a lot of followers on your Twitter account? Or did you use hashtags? Like, how did you get visibility on the tweet?
- I got about 180,000 followers. So there’s a good amount of people there.
[29:17] Okay, and how did you accumulate 180,000 followers? That doesn’t happen by accident.
- I’ve been doing digital marketing for a while, right? So it’s like something I’ve worked on. I’ve worked on my own personal brand, a good amount. And, really, as far as Twitter goes, I’ve spoken at a ton of events. I’ve uploaded email lists that I’ve captured email addresses there and connected with those people, connected with pretty much everybody I’ve met. And then consistently just interacted with people on Twitter. I’m also a writer for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc. All these different publications, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, as well as our own blog, it gets a couple hundred thousand visitors a month. So it all just kind of accumulated together to get a following.
[30:09] And for anyone who’s listening who would be like to become a contributing writer for publications like those that you just listed— obviously, I’m assuming there’s a little bit of a flywheel effect. That once you get one, it makes getting the second and the third and the fourth a little easier. What advice would you give someone who isn’t yet a contributor to a popular website or magazine like that, and they were trying to get their foot in the door?
- Yes, so it’s, I think you started on it pretty well. So the first thing you do is you want to start on your own blog. Start on your own blog, build a little following, a good author profile, some stuff that you’re really, really proud of, and build a little bit of a portfolio. And that’s what I did at the last company I worked at. I blogged there multiple times a day and took it to 20, 30,000 visitors a month. And then I used that and I went to Search Engine Land, and I said, “Hey, Search Engine Land, look, I’m a great blogger, I’d love to write for you. I’m a director, I’m a blogger, I’d love to write for you.” Then I went to Search Engine Journal, they started letting me write. Then I launched Ignite. I started—I already had those profiles, which is great, because I could use them for more thought leadership. And then I had those two, and then I went to, Inc, and Entrepreneur, and it just kind of snowballed from there.
I will say the national publications are super, super hard. And they’re a big commitment too, so they want you to write like, weekly, and the approval processes are super, super slow, for some of them. So it’s like a job. So I would say before you do it, make sure you’re willing to work for free, basically, for a job and you see value in it because it’s a lot. At one point, honestly, at one point I had, I could write at every major publication, I still can for many of them. But it just became so much where I was writing so many blogs and so much content, I started looking at kind of like the ROI of it and trying to decide what I should really do. And I pulled back a little bit, I started just focusing more on our own marketing.
And so I would just say maybe one piece of advice would be, I think maybe 80% what you do another 20%, pick one or two publications you really like, you’d like to contribute to, you like the people, and that’s probably going to be a good way to go.
[32:25] The name of your second book is, what? Remind us.
- So it’s Digital Influencer, which actually teaches you all that stuff we just went over. It actually has lists and how to reach out and become contributors and all of that. I mean, it’s something anybody can do, so Digital Influencer. The second one is The Forecaster Method. And they’re both on Amazon.
[32:49] Are they available in audible?
- Yes, they’re both in audible, as well.
[32:51] Oh, nice. So far, you’ve done a fantastic job of sharing some really great information with the audience and myself and I want to thank you for that. Before we wrap up, I’m sure that some of the people listening might be thinking, “Hey, maybe I’d like to work with that firm, he seems to know what he’s doing.” What does your customer profile look like? Who do you work best with?
- We work with people who want to be number one in the space, and that can be or who are number one in the space. We’re across all different types of industries, from huge companies like Cox and 5-hour Energy and Tony Robbins and The General Auto Insurance, all the way down to businesses that are a couple million bucks. Usually we start with businesses that are around two to five million or something like that, just because of fees and business maturity and size and stuff like that. We do some new product launches.
But what we do is we run every client who signs up through a forecast. We develop a free digital marketing plan for them if we feel like it’s qualified. So we’ll do like the forecasts, the strategy, the timeline, the project plan, we don’t charge you anything for that. And then we will only sign you up if we mutually agree that it’s going to be a good fit. We get a ton of inquiries. And there’s a ton of options out there. So we really like to have mutual, beneficial, like long-term relationships. But yes, everybody, you don’t need to hire me, I would just love to meet you. There’s a bunch of great stuff on YouTube. And I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, if you’re interested.
[34:27] All right, we’ll make sure that we put links to your social profiles in the show notes. So for anyone who is listening, who wants to not have to go and manually look them up, just come over to the show notes. And I’ll give the episode number here at the end of the show. And you’ll be able to easily find and connect with John via those links.
So John, thank you very much for making some time to come and be on the show. It’s been a pleasure to have you here.
- Yes. Thank you very much, Trent. Appreciate it. Everybody listeners, Trent’s a real awesome guy too. Shout out for all the amazing stuff you do. Thanks for having me on Trent.
[34:59] Kind of you to say, appreciate it.
Thanks very much for listening. To get to the show notes for today’s episode go to brightideas.co/340. And I would absolutely love it if you would take a moment on your favorite podcast listening app and leave us a rating and five star review. Thanks so much for tuning in. Take care. Talk to you again soon. Bye bye.