Interview with Tod Maffin, Digital Marketing Strategist

Tod Maffin has been doing digital marketing since before most people even knew what the Internet was. One of his early projects in this area, for example, was when he worked at the PR firm Haibeck Group, and he created the corporate website for Price Waterhouse (before they merged with Coopers & Lybrand). This was such early days in the Internet that webpages were completely static and the only background colour you could have was grey. Since then, he’s held such roles as VP Marketing at Emerge Online, Executive VP Marketing at  IMEDIAT, national technology columnist for CBC Radio, and founder and CEO of Mindful Eye, a firm selling services based on the patented “Lexant engine,” which performed analysis of public opinion to monitor the “mood” of the public on stocks 1Sadly, Mindful Eye got caught up in the burst of the dot com bubble.. He is currently the president of engageQ digital, a digital marketing training and consulting firm. I recently had the opportunity to interview Tod to see what I could learn from his years of experience in this field.

What Does A Digital Marketing Company Do?

Tod’s current company, engageQ digital, a digital marketing training and consulting firm that:

  • advises companies on their social media strategy
  • conducting digital marketing audits, resulting in an in-depth highly actionable report)
  • designing advertising campaigns on social media, predominantly Facebook
  • content posting for brands (They have several strategists with different areas of expertise who do this)
  • moderating brands (and their related markets) on various social media channels (Knowing that speed is important when it comes to social, staff monitor the clients’ brands, competitor brands, and other conversations going on about their clients’ markets, in order to respond quickly and appropriately to whatever comes up).
  • engaging with customers on various social media channels
  • training a company’s employees on ROI-based social media campaigns

They work with medium-to-large companies like OK Tire, Ivanhoe Cambridge, CBC, Abbott Nutrition, and the Vancouver Sun Run.

During our interview, Tod provided a great example of how they use social media to add value to customers in unique ways. People like to tweet things like “I’m bored waiting for my car at OK Tire.” When that happens, the person at engageQ who is monitoring will get notified of that tweet and will see what kind of device the person is using (e.g., iPhone, Android phone), and will quickly respond to the client with “the top 5 android games to kill time while you wait!” It’s a little thing, but it provides a great example about how you can easily have a positive interaction with a client, providing them something of use and leaving them with a positive feeling about the company.

What Are Clients Looking For?

There’s a huge amont of interest in Facebook right now, as companies want to harness the power of Facebook to hone in on their target audiences. In response, Tod developed an intensive training program on Facebook advertising – which ran live last summer and which you can now “attend” as a series of 7 online modules.

Another area that companies are looking for help with is what to post about. I found this surprising, as I always feel like I have way more things to blog about than I can ever find time for, but many brands are at a loss for content ideas. Providing ideas – and even content if you have the expertise in the area – is very valuable to clients.

What Are the Biggest Mistakes That Companies Make With Respect to Digital Marketing?

So I asked Tod what he saw as the most common digital marketing mistakes that he sees companies making. And he replied, “Watch my free training video – the 5 Mistakes You Are Making With Facebook Ads!”

Among other things, common mistakes include:

  • not having any specific goals (meaning, among other things, you have nothing to measure against)
  • if they do have goals, they aren’t strategic goals – (e.g., companies wanting to increase numbers of “likes” or “followers”, without actually thinking about what value that would be to the company)
  • they don’t measure conversions (e.g., Facebook will tell you how many people clicked on an ad, but unless you install conversion tracking, they won’t tell you how many of those people did what you actually wanted them to do, such as signing up for your newsletter or buying your product)
  • they don’t do A/B testing (where you  test different versions of, for examples, ads or landing pages to see which ones are most effective)
  • they don’t do re-targeting (where you follow people who’ve been on your website after they leave, targeting then with banner ads on other websites they go to in order to encourage them to come back to your site. )

Tools of the Trade

Chatting with Tod, I learned about a number of tools that he uses to facilitate his work, including:

  • Tweetdeck – like Vancouver-based Hootsuite, Tweetdeck is a flexible dashboard that allows you to monitor and manage Twitter engagement.
  • Sprout Social – is the dashboard that he uses to monitor other social media. A nice feature of Sprout is that it has “tasks” built in, so if the person on the team responsible for monitoring at a given time isn’t the best person to respond, they can send a “task” to another person on the team who needs to do something (e.g., go research an answer to a customer’s question).
  • Buffer – allows you to schedule postings on social media channels in advance.
  • qwaya.com – a Facebook ads manager. While Facebook’s native ad manager is quite good, it doesn’t have automation, which Qwaya does. For example, Qwaya will track a Facebook ad campaign and you can set up a rule like “if after 2 days, I’m spending more on this ad then I’m generating in revenue, pause the campaign and email me, or stop running that ad and run this other ad instead.”
  • Unbounce.com – a Vancouver-based company, it lets you build and test different landing pages to find the one that converts best – makes A/B testing really easy!
  • Edgerank Checker – great resource for doing engagement audits.
  • Perfect Audience and Ad Roll both help you do re-targeting
  • Olark – allows you to chat live with people who are visiting your website and track where they go on your site. Free for the basic stuff, but you can get more advanced features with the enterprise version.

They also built their own in-house escalation database 2Sorry, no link to that one since it’s internal to engageQ. for any situations where someone from the client company (as opposed to the monitoring team at engageQ) needs to handle an issue.

Advice for Someone Wanting to Start a Career in Digital Marketing

Tod’s advice to anyone interested in pursuing a career in digital marketing is to specialize. There are a lot of digital marketing generalists out there, so it would be wise to become an expert on something, like pay-per-click campaigns, Google Ads, Facebook Ads; how to increase conversions; expert in the science of landing pages; or multivariate testing. Importantly, you should become an expert on something that is linked to profit!

For more digital marketing tips, check out todmaffin.com and engageQ.com

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Sadly, Mindful Eye got caught up in the burst of the dot com bubble.
2. Sorry, no link to that one since it’s internal to engageQ.
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