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Martech Stacked Episode 21: Use this SEO tool to improve your sales pitches - with Chris Green

Blog Post Author – David
David15th October 2020

I’m joined today by a creative and lateral thinker with an analytical mind. He’s a SISTRIX Certified Trainer, an OnCrawl Ambassador and the Head of Marketing Innovation at Footprint Digital - welcome to Martech Stacked - Chris Green.

Listen to Martech Stacked on Apple, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Here are the 3 top tools in Chris' current martech stack:

#1: SISTRIX Visibility index, competition and opportunity analysis and historical data through professional-focused modules aimed at SEOs and digital market analysts.

#2: OnCrawl Made for technical SEO and data science experts, OnCrawl Labs provides a portfolio of algorithms to address strategic SEO issues and work on R&D projects.

#3: ActiveCampaign ActiveCampaign gives you the email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM tools you need to create incredible customer experiences.

Full transcript:

David Bain: I'm joined today by a creative and lateral thinker with an analytical mind. He's a SISTRIX certified trainer, an OnCrawl ambassador, and the Head of Marketing Innovation at Footprint Digital. Welcome to Martech Stacked, Chris Green.

Chris Green: Hi, there. Thanks for having me, David.

David Bain: Yeah. Thanks, Chris. Great to have you on here. Of course, you can find Chris over at footprintdigital.co.uk. So Chris, explain what Footprint Digital does, and how you use marketing technology to make it better.

Chris Green: So Footprint Digital, essentially a digital marketing agency with quite a heavy preference to what we say, joining the dots. So we learn to stitch together parts of digital that don't happen frequently enough, so we're trying to drive insight from joining things up, which is a fairly big ambition because the job is still harder than it needs to be in this day and age. But that's part of it. I think our key services, our key focuses are SEO, paid search, conversion rate optimization, and then the tracking the analytics parts as well. So they're the main key areas, but we also work with email and do a lot of content based campaigns.

Chris Green: So from that sense, offering of a fairly traditional search agency, I guess, to that end. But one of the things that we're trying to do and we're constantly building on, although, we'd never say we'd achieved it because there's a whole degree of the minute you think you've solved this, you fail this. We're trying to find ways of tying together and using data better. That's not in the way that we mean that these kind of larger, more substantial brands and companies that can do when you're running into sort of tool costs, thousands or tens of thousands a month.

Chris Green: It's actually, how can we use the data that we all have better and how can we empower people to do that? That's kind of a key. The underpinning motto is helping every business achieve more online. So technology is a huge part of that. The key for us fundamentally is there's only so many hours in the day, how can you help everyone achieve more? And we do that more a number of ways, but one of that is how we use our kind of internal tools and partner tools and technology to gain insight far quicker.

David Bain: So I'm sure, like most marketers, digital marketers, however you want to call people nowadays, it's a challenge to just select three key marketing technology tools rather than actually make a list of all the 20 or so by the sound of the tools that you use. So it must have been a challenge for you to actually decide on the top three. But let's zero in on them and ask you. Starting off the number three, what are your top three tools in your current martech stack and why?

Chris Green: Yeah, brilliant. I think you've kind of already mentioned two of them by virtue of what I do and who I'm involved with day-to-day. So of the top three, I think firstly, first things first is SISTRIX, which is German based search visibility kind of dashboard or piece of software, which I've been working with SISTRIX for nearly two years now and I'm a certified trainer. I use this data literally on a day-to-day basis in the sense that my fault, for all my sins I'm in SEO or have been in SEO for well over 10 years. I'm kind of involved well beyond that now, but search intelligence is kind of the key and it's a key tenant of whatever we do. So that's that's number one. And as I said, I think if nothing else, just by the frequency of use, that has to be at the top of the list.

David Bain: Okay. So, we'll do it in that order. We normally start off number three and work up towards number one-

Chris Green: Oh, no I did it the wrong way!

David Bain: ... big drum roll, but that's okay. We'll we start out from number one. Just driving into SISTRIX a little bit more, I'm aware of SISTRIX. I don't believe I've actually actively used them. I've used loads of SEO type platforms in the past. What makes SISTRIX different compared with other tools out there?

Chris Green: Yeah, I think there's quite a lot of close comparisons in the market out there and you notice it's difficult to try and kind of run through them all now. But essentially, the reason why I get more out of this, SISTRIX, and what I kind of take from it is first things first is in the UK, in US, they have circa 10 years plus of data for search engines and that's built on the same kind of keyword set broadly speaking for that entire time. So when you look at the visibility of any website in search today and you compare it to the start of that index, that benchmark is entirely comparable for the entire length of that period. A lot of what I do on a day to day basis is someone will bring a domain or a website to me and we'll usually say, "We've got a problem or this has happened." One of the key challenges always finding out, actually what has actually happened to a website.

Chris Green: You always get an account of what someone thinks has happened, but being able to look back 10 years or more in a website's history by how Google seen it, so how visible they've been through Google for that period of time, you can understand quite a lot of things. So for example, you can pinpoint the executives, for example, that they may have switched from HTTP to HTTPS. You can monitor migrations across domains and see what the step change or difference in visibility is. That's only scratching the surface. So I think that completeness of that data is really, really kind of useful. I think that the way that it's kind of pitched and presented, it's much more geared towards people who are really experienced in search.

Chris Green: They just basically give you the data and effectively, you just query it however you would using the user interface. So the barrier to entry for some can be a little challenging, but it's for completeness of data and the way that you can visualize it, I don't think there's a better proposition out there. When you know where stuff is and you kind of start getting behind, sometimes the complex infrastructure of, it's really strong piece of equipment.

David Bain: That seems like a good tool or platform to have in your arsenal because I think a lot of similar tools that SEOs use at the moment, I think give you a great picture of where a website is at the moment, how a website is doing at the moment, but that historical data to me almost looks like a combination between SimilarWeb and even Archive.org where you're actually seeing that the history of that website, because of that, you can get a feel for what they've gone through, and I guess from that history, what we may be impacting its present performance.

Chris Green: Absolutely. One of the ways that I never expected this would be really useful is actually in a sales capacity, so developing new business working leads. Within about half an hour of being told that I need to speak to someone, given their domain, you can go into that meeting knowing more than sometimes the people sat around the table and say, "Oh, that migration two years ago, these mistakes happen. Don't make them again." For example, just that little snippet of information and a slide to back it up is incredibly essential. Context is hugely key in this. Obviously, we start going back years and years, or as we go back years and years for website's performance, we then have to account for algorithm changes within Google and other search features and other one's like that.

Chris Green: SISTRIX is endeavoring to put those in there, as far as I'm aware, and the information is very good. But yeah, it's knowing where someone is today is useful if you're going to then set the benchmark against the future, but there's always a need to go back a bit and find out what's happening. There are other tools out there, their index of data... Try not to hit the microphone. Their index of data is constantly expanding and growing. Unfortunately, when that happens, your ability to look back is clouded by that ultimately, because you're not comparing like for like. So if you really like the integrity of data and you like like for like comparisons and you'd love to go backwards as well as look forwards, it's such a good opportunity for that.

David Bain: I love the fact that you touched upon it's actually a great pre-sales tool as well, and you can go into a client pitch and you can be, as you mentioned, a lot more informed, perhaps even than they are about why certain things have happened and what's something that may have occurred historically may have affected things. You could pinpoint URL change or HTTPS change, as you mentioned, that may still be resulting performance today. They could have actually received so much more organic traffic in the past and just not knowing what happened or perhaps, you've put it down to a Google algorithm change that they couldn't have done anything about it, but actually, it was something that they did internally with their own site structure that you can still pick up upon and suddenly, hopefully gain a lot more traffic as a result of them identifying that.

Chris Green: Absolutely. I think the real strength, and this could be said of any technology that does this, but obviously, you can see what's happened in the past and how do you know if it's an algorithm change or it's something that you've done concretely. One of the really good ways to show that is you can overlay competitor information, certainly a lot of the key graphs and tables. So you can say, "Well, at this point in time, an algorithm update hit and you went down, but all your competitors went up," for example. And again, it just helps build a little more context. Or conversely, an algorithm hit. No one was impacted, but then you made this change and only you dropped. Narratives involving competitors is an area that can work really well or it can backfire massively and I think you've got to be careful how you play that.

Chris Green: Some businesses are fundamentally driven differently by that kind of information. Chasing after what someone else has got, isn't necessarily the best kind of way in my experience, but it's perfect for the context of it. And again, the more intelligence, the more insight you can have by this, the better. Actually, this tool and a couple of the others that we'll talk through, they all output to Google's data studio as well. They've all got APIs and end points, and that whole ability to say, "Well, how do we make this more into our processes?" So rather than build it in their reporting suite and then copy and paste it into a document in a fairly kind of tedious process, it's, let's just pull that data in. Let's just plot that main visibility line and we can tell the story with that. Then we can dive into other data underneath, in our own branding, in our own format. It just feels a bit slicker as well, which is cherry on top.

David Bain: Staying with SISTRIX for just a second before moving on to the next tool. If we're in this pitch situation and you mentioned there's an opportunity to match clients or prospective clients' data against competitors data, would you ask them beforehand who their biggest clients are, or would actually serve you in better light by identifying the clients yourself and just coming up with everything yourself prior to the pitch meeting?

Chris Green: I think that's a good question because people's perception of who their competitors are and then who their competitors actually are in any given space are often quite different. I've seen some assumptions go really badly wrong sometimes. A lot of it's dependent on your own ability and knowledge to kind of pitch and present that. But as a rule, we always ask Glenn and say, "Well, who do you see as your competitors?" And if their response is, "Well, you should tell me that," is absolutely perfect. I will do, but who do you perceive? And it's the perception part that's interesting. However, with something like SISTRIX having that visibility data, well, if we work out that, for argument's sake, these 100 keywords are their most important. Well, we can, within the dashboard, create a list of who are the competitors just for that 100 terms only, rather than just who does the website overlap with. It's just who overlaps in any given space?

Chris Green: Certainly, if we're talking about Google, they are your competitors in Google. There is no other two ways about it, almost in the sense that they're occupying positions above or below you. Whether they are going to be going head-to-head on the key products and services will vary wildly, and that can be eyeopening as well because typically, people say, "Well, we're not Amazon," or, "We're not eBay." But whether you like it or not, you're operating in their space or where they're located around you is important, even if the goal is not beating them. That's the kind of the killer context to provide there. But I guess, the hell falling with this is if you don't do your research and due diligence around the website, you can pick the wrong competition quite easily. Sometimes that can expose your own naivety around it. So there's a buyer beware. It doesn't matter how much days you get out of the tool if you don't actually look at what space you're operating in properly. You can end up with egg on your face. Hopefully, it doesn't happen to me that much anymore.

David Bain: I'm sure it happens to everyone on occasion. But look, I like looking at competitors or asking people about competitors because as you say, their perception of who their competitor is, it can actually be completely different with regards to which website is taking away more traffic, or which website is resulting in a customer deciding to actually move somewhere else. So perception and reality of competitors is quite different sometimes. So that was SISTRIX. That was your number one. Let's move down to number two. What's your number two martech tool?

Chris Green: My number two martech tool. And this is, again, we sort of mentioned it earlier. I'm the ambassador for OnCrawl. So OnCrawl is essentially... Well, it's turning into a data science platform, or a platform that merges data science and SEO. But I think for anyone who works in the industry, you know it best as a crawler, as a piece of software that effectively tries to crawl and look at a website in the way that Google might to provide more sort of technical SEO feedback and on that website. So it's kind of a vital piece of equipment in any SEO's toolbox and crawlers, like OnCrawl, come in many different flavors. OnCrawl's ability or one of the elements that I like it for the most is it's based on the cloud. So some are based on desktops and are limited to your own hardware and infrastructure, which can be kind of punishing, especially if you're running off a notebook or something small, crawling a large website where a desktop crawler will end it, unfortunately.

Chris Green: So this is based as support with the power of the cloud, but the other kind of key facets and elements that worked really well in this is OnCrawl moving into the data science space. So the idea of you crawl a website, so you look at the website as far as you can do, but then you enrich it with data from other sources, and then you start to try and determine other key elements about it. So whether you're comparing it with a website server logs, whether you're ingesting data from Majestic, like back link tracker, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, they're the kind of the key sort of standard points for enrichment that you can do, but they're starting to move into more machine learning and experimental side of things.

Chris Green: I think within the next sort of couple of years, we'll start to see far more interesting, almost predictive methods of understanding what happens, what happens if we change something based on the data we're getting and we're going in. A lot of that's not, I guess, on the marketplace yet, but it's a direction they wildly signaled as wanting to move into ad it's quite... There's some exciting stuff in there that realistically, I don't use a lot of that on my day-to-day. Fundamentally, someone says, "Can you audit this website?" I plug it into OnCrawl, I click crawl and I come back when it's done and analyze the data, but there there's the other cool exciting bits that nerds like me enjoy waiting as well.

David Bain: What's the most similar tool to OnCrawl that's available out there that people would potentially also be using and what makes OnCrawl different or perhaps, a little bit better to them?

Chris Green: That's interesting. So other tools that are similar, DeepCrawl, Botify are kind of two big ones that occupy quite closely in the same space. I think probably maybe DeepCrawl would be the one that most would be familiar with. What makes it different? Quite often, the difference between a lot of these tools is the pricing and the packaging relative to what you get need from a capacity and a scaling sense. They typically, each of these tools, tends to pitch at a different level of, I guess, enterprise brand to, some are SME based. There are other versions out there that I didn't list that are even proper enterprise space that only go coming quite high. So the level varies wildly. Why is OnCrawl better? I think there's a couple of elements. I think for me, OnCrawl just presented a really, really nice way of ingesting and analyzing a lot of data in one.

Chris Green: Actually, I think it'd be unfair to say that maybe Botify don't do that because they've all accelerated, moved at different paces. I know Botify got there quite early with a log file analyses and that kind of auditing, but from a price point, they were quite high. They are certainly prohibitive for the clients I was working on at the time and OnCrawl presented a really good value option for that. So I think initially, the price point and the value is where OnCrawl kind of really came into its own, but I think it may be would be unfair to say that that's their main kind of selling point. Now, I think the customization of the dashboards and essentially, I've got my own preference on how I like to do an audit. I've kind of gotten used to work flows.

Chris Green: I've got gotten my way. I think being able to build these views, reports or tables or custom setups, and you'll know what you're looking for in an audit. This is an e-commerce website of a certain size. These are kinds of problems I'm going to get. Okay. So this is the table view that I need to import to surface that data. So those kinds of things just help speed up that audit process quite quickly because you're not so much sifting through trying to look for things. You've already got your, I guess, I like to think of them as recipes. This is my recipe for identifying this problem, but then the other side and what's been really useful time and again is it lets you classify page groups. So when you're working on a large website, anything over a hundred thousand pages or more perhaps, page by page level is actually not that useful.

Chris Green: You almost want to be looking at your groupings of pages of what kinds of things am I looking at. OnCrawl let's you can find that via URL level, which is very useful. But in cases where you can't define that in a URL level, it actually let's use other means to match it up as well. So you can look for page elements and say, "Well, anything that has these elements, we need to group." That is a incredibly powerful tool when you need it because not every website is able to... You can't distinguish page types from the URL if the URL structure isn't represented there fundamentally.

David Bain: You mentioned a hundred thousand pages there. Do you offer the OnCrawl service for every one of your clients? Or do you find that OnCrawl and similar kind of services are only suitable for websites over a certain page number?

Chris Green: Good question. Yeah. I wouldn't... As a barrier to ordinary... Sorry. As this sort of standard, it's not always necessary. So I mentioned desktop based crawlers, so Screaming Frog or Side bulb are kind of two of the key incumbents in that space and Screaming Frog is still a staple that will be used in the agency. If a client comes on with a couple of hundred page website, for example, it's quicker sometimes just to run it via Screaming Frog and you've got the data there, and then it's almost firing up a AWS instance to crawl it isn't always necessary. So it's not a blanket thing that we do. But yeah, it's almost anything over a hundred thousand pages, we would run it through OnCrawl mainly just for continuity sake. So if we're working remotely at the moment or we're kind of changing, we're all on laptops, if you need to run a large crawl of a large eCommerce website and it's got to run on a desktop or a laptop, your chances of that crawl failing is quite high.

Chris Green: If it's taken a day to crawl or two days to crawl, and then you find out on day two, it's failed, it effects timelines as well. So the robustness of the infrastructure is not there, whereas OnCrawl, you can monitor it from anywhere. You've got the dashboard. Different members of the team can check in. If we see that across is not working as we need it to, you can pause it, adjust it, or you can cancel it mid flow and start again. So for the large stuff, that's essential. There are ways to work around it with Screaming Frog and others, but they come with a bit of a technological kind of need that we don't have if it's all based on the cloud.

David Bain: Yeah, I think the fact that teams are becoming a lot more remote now it is, and perhaps that's not going to be changing any time soon, if ever. It's more important now to use cloud based services that won't take up so many resources from a local machine, and I guess will run day and night as well.

Chris Green: Absolutely. I think the running at the night is a key part as well. It makes life so much easier and it's just a continuity thing. I think that's the great thing about a lot of the tools we use now from a continuity segway. It's all cloud-based. So actually, our robustness of it is really simple. All you need is a log in and an internet connection and you can resume services required, which it's hard to put a price on that. But if I went back 15 years or 20 years maybe and said that this would be what we're working on, you kind of wouldn't believe it. I certainly wouldn't anyway.

David Bain: Well, even in even the last 10 years, things have changed radically. I was involved in SEO as well. I probably got started about 2005 or so, but actually working for an agency in 2012. 2012, most SEO consultants were running everything themselves rather than actually using cloud-based third party tools. I don't recall them existing or certainly not being used at that time.

Chris Green: Yeah. I'm trying to think what I was crawling on back then. Xenu's Link Sleuth was one that is quite a really, really old one, and then you've got IS toolkit and they've kind of been a whole range of. But you're right. They were all desktop based. I think Screaming Frog was pretty much around then. I'm almost certain it was then. Yeah, I think the way it's all moved to the cloud, I think it's become something that wasn't attainable to something that in theory, the vast majority of practitioners can use and the barrier to entry has dropped significantly too. 10 years ago, you wouldn't even engage on this. I certainly wouldn't be engaged on a sales call them because most of these tools costs several times more than the average client retainer in the business case for them, for what extra value they provided was just simply just not doable. Yeah, the dynamic has shifted completely now. You absolutely can do now.

David Bain: So before we get into a real SEO geek out, I'll just say that SISTRIX was your martech tool number one. OnCrawl, number two. What is your martech tool number three?

Chris Green: Well, yeah, this is great because I actually stopped the SEO geek count now because this is something slightly different. So my actual tool number three is a software called ActiveCampaign. And this is a marketing automation platform primarily used in an email context, but it's something that I only really got into using because we'd had a couple of clients that were using it and that essentially said, "Well, we need some support from this marketing automation standpoint. We need some workflows that can support the customer journeys. Have you used this before? Or can you help us?" I've used HubSpot and Salesforce and a few others in various different flavors over the years. If you understand the principles of marketing automation, the execution is relatively straightforward, a lot of this kind of good marketing.

Chris Green: So we jumped head first into ActiveCampaign and actually, it's quite a powerful piece of software for what is essentially fairly entry level in the market, I'd say. Pricing-wise, it's sort of pitched around a MailChimp level and albeit MailChimp bringing in a lot more automations and similar kind of functionality, but the fundamental kind of point that this enables, and it comes back to some almost cliches, but the silos of marketing activity kind of don't really exist anymore. I suppose they didn't really exist. They only existed in the minds of the people who did it rather than the customers. Obviously, customers don't care, but ActiveCampaign helps us realize that transition across media, across platforms. It helps join up how we actually tell stories. To go from super technical SEO, one's talking about telling stories using software, but this is much more a case of someone signs up from a form or received an ebook, and then through that process, we can send them several different mail shots.

Chris Green: We can put them into different Facebook audiences. We can retarget them. We can get them back. We can then send them through our own bespoke landing pages and all that while you can score these users on how well are they engaging? How much do they spend? What do they like? This targeting can be as granular as you want it to be. The only limitation usually is the budget that you're willing to push to get these people reengaging again, but just how that's managed and how that's tied together is so unbelievably simple. Yeah, because of that, it just a very powerful tool. What you do with it is limited by your imagination, really.

David Bain: So I've had a couple of guests saying that ActiveCampaign's the number one choice for them. I've had a couple of others actually say, "No," it's not quite right for them because it's a little bit overkill. They prefer something simpler like ConvertKit or MailChimp, as you mentioned. I even had one guest, Gavin Bell, say that he moved from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign, and then back to ConvertKit again because the ActiveCampaign was a little bit too much. I also had the founder of Demio come on and say that ActiveCampaign was possibly a little bit more suitable for just e-commerce brands because they could take full advantage of all the automation it had to offer and all the options for delivering different messages to people visiting different webpages. So it's a long way of saying, is ActiveCampaign perhaps a little bit overkill for an agency? Or do you find that you're really taking advantage of all the features that it offers?

Chris Green: Good one. The answer to the second part, are we making advantage of all the features? No. I think you're right. It's quite a heavy sort of piece. I think for me, a complexity and large amount of features doesn't really put me off, but I think a large portion of my job is using tools and testing new ones and speaking with people about others. So because of who I am, I guess, and what I do, that's fine. But equally there is some elegance in simplicity. So I get that. Actually, I do still use MailChimp too for certain things.

Chris Green: I think for us, it helps to just be aware and use the same technology as a lot of our clients do because... And it's something I learned when I'm going through the HubSpot inbound marketing process years ago. At some point, to help deliver the best service for someone through a tool, you have to have done it for yourself and actually understand and appreciate what it is you're asking for. So that's a long windy way of me saying, I want to get stuck in with those tools that we need to be using and that's you learn a lot via that.

David Bain: I think that's a great point there. I was looking at it initially from the point of view, is it overkill for an agency and possibly, it is overkill for an agency. However, if that's the tool that the majority of your clients want to use, you kind of need to be using it all the time to be comfortable using it and to be able to consult with your clients on how best to get full use out of them.

Chris Green: Absolutely. There are so many... We're spoilt for choice with regards to what marketing automation platforms we can use. I'm still experimenting or toying with the idea of going open source in setting up a server with more tips on there, which is a completely open sourced version of it just because I'm that way and inclined to want to experiment with it, see how it works and whether that can provide any additional value there. It comes down to preference. One, we had a client come in the other day saying, "Oh, I'd had a previous agency tell me to avoid MailChimp like the plague. Are they right?" And the short answer is, "Well, no. That's quite an unhelpful statement because MailChimp is a perfectly functionable platform for the things that it's built for. What is your individual use case? You mentioned ActiveCampaign links into Shopify really, really well. And if you've got your customer data flowing straight into it, the power related to that is immense from related sales, upsells, cross-sells, et cetera.

Chris Green: But if you're never going to ever want to do that, then that's not necessarily essential. But if you do need that, don't go to a tool provider that you'd have to kind of find your work around for because there are a couple of tools, the names escape me now, that are much more... They let you build the logic essentially, and they let you go in much more granular. So you can build really intricate solutions, but they're not very stable or they're not always very stable because the more you build yourself, the more custom logic you put into it, it doesn't get supported then and it's just not the same.

Chris Green: Yeah, I think... Does an agency need it? No, probably not. But equally, the landing page stuff that they do, the forms, the capture, the fact that it's got a built in CRM can also be incredibly useful. Although, we do actually have a separate CRM. So I would never use that CRM if we've got our own because the last thing you want is too closely matching, but out of sync CRMs. That causes so many problems, probably more problems than it fixes in my experience.

David Bain: So you're obviously someone that loves technology and perhaps, getting into doing things manually yourself as well, and then automating things as well. So I'd be interested to get your take on the next question, which is, as your business grows, what's an example of a process that you currently do manually that you may wish to automate using martech technology in the future?

Chris Green: Oh yeah, that's a good one. So I think our sales process is relatively manual in the sense of how the data's kind of fed through and it works perfectly and it has done for a while, but that's one I'm itching to automate in much more depth. We put out quite a lot of content, quite a lot of bespoke content to people, whether they're clients, whether they're prospects or whether they're partners or related. We do a lot of that manually, which has worked to date because the output isn't that high, but our content output is going to explode over the next six months because we've finished writing with kind of the book of our training course. We filmed the training course because we couldn't teach it because of COVID. We suddenly got this library of content that we need to get out to people and it's got to be through marketing automation. The list segmentation needs to be up to date. How old is the customer? What's the customer's value? When did they last interact? Who last spoke with them?

Chris Green: That data needs to be segmented within an inch of its life, so we can build some really kind of good funnels and workflows that target them and talk to them appropriately. I think that's one thing that is kind of the keys is just talking to people appropriately without needing to be on the phone with them. That's the big martech challenge that we've got. The blessing in sky, we're not doing face-to-face meetings anymore, which kind of sucks in many ways, but what it's given us the opportunity to do is have more of an impact across a broader set at once, but if we're smart about it and that's where lists, list data... I think I talked to a lot of people about lists and data sources at the moment, and they tend to roll their eyes at me, but this is kind of why because it's the fairly unglamorous and almost tedious part of making that whole machine work. Yeah, so that's our goal. It's going to be a lot of me staring at CSVs, I feel, for the next couple of weeks.

David Bain: I tell you, that answer gives me so many potential tangents that I could take and walk through, but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to ask you, what's something that you have in mind that would be a wonderful piece of martech technology that perhaps doesn't even exist yet, but you would love to see created?

Chris Green: Okay. So the biggest one on my wishlist at the moment... So I'm massively into, or sort of dabbled with SEO split testing; so how can you show Google two sets of data at once or two versions of a page up at once and test what works better? It's a really tough challenge and SearchPilot, formerly DistilledODN, were kind of the first meaningfully to the market and there've been several others since. But what's missing from that is for me, is we've GPT free. I think that's right, machine learning algorithms and their ability to write.

Chris Green: What eventually one day, I'd love to see is a split testing tool that optimizes its own content based on performance and testing. So the e-commerce SEO problem is always product content and it's hard because it takes forever to write and it's a pain and you don't always see the value initially. Whereas actually, if there is a system that runs on the edge on CloudFlare workers, for example, that can optimize copy based on performance in Google using machine learning, that would be the tool that I'd love to be signed up for. Actually, let me in on the beta or the alpha.

David Bain: It's the next stage of AI, isn't it? AI being able to actually create creative content and that that creative content could even be audio or I guess even potentially even video, and the written form as well. I remember seeing a Guardian article that was published by a bot. The question was whether or not actually the text that it produced was as good quality as journalists. It was quite hard to differentiate really, to be honest with you. It's certainly coming.

Chris Green: It absolutely is, and I think it's... In some respects, I'm relieved that it's not here yet because that whole they're coming for our jobs take is a slightly perturbing one. But that article, I think they fed out, they output like six versions of the content and they spliced them together and it took an editorial team to bring it, which, and in fairness, an editorial team has to do that to real human content as well. I know it does with mine whenever I publish stuff, but it's not ready. It's not quite there yet in columns and editorials. But for e-commerce content, for meta descriptions, for all the boring unsexy pieces of content that we resent writing, I think it presents a really great opportunity. It's something that I wish I had far more time to look into than I do.

Chris Green: Fundamentally, my lack of detailed knowledge in the area is probably my biggest prohibitor. I'm not a developer, but I think that would, for SEO, that could be a game changer for quite a number of websites. We're definitely seeing this massive push to online econ that COVID has helped accelerate and that system that can optimize and test content on the edge and just deploy it; tell you when it's done, tell you what's worked, how much revenue have we made extra because of our efforts. Yeah, sign me up. That'd be brilliant.

David Bain: You certainly sound as if you've got a lot of detailed knowledge in lots of areas and you shared many different thoughts with us today, but what would you say is the one key takeaway for the listener from today's discussion?

Chris Green: I'm going to sound like a hypocrite, I think when I say this. So I've talked about lots of different tools and I've picked three, and I think you're right when I could have picked 20 or maybe 40, but actually my biggest piece of advice to anyone who wants to get the most from tools who's not just sort of an enthusiast like me is be really kind of critical over what a tool gives you an actually what tangible benefit does it present you. I think if you're not disciplined, they can be a distraction and at worse, can run counter to what they try and do.

Chris Green: So the more tools that you buy that profess that they do different things, the more different elements, if they're not part of your workflows and you don't make them work for you, they do the opposite. Not only do they cost more, but they slow you down. So I'd actually say, is actually go on a tool detox to a degree and just think, "Well, what do I actually need?" And then remove from there. So that's me being an absolute hypocrite because I'm the opposite. I think I probably work with about 60%, 70% of tools that if I didn't view them again tomorrow, it wouldn't cause me any problems. That's just me, but yeah. Be really critical and streamline where you can.

David Bain: Do what I say, not what I do.

Chris Green: Absolutely. Yeah. No, and this is one of the few. I've told a lot of team members that, and they said, "but you're the worst for that." I go, "Yeah. I know. I'm the voice of experience."

David Bain: Chris, you've offered a lot of great advice today. Thank you so much for your time and your tips. What's the best way for the listener to find out more about you and what you do?

Chris Green: Brilliant. Thank you. The best way to find out, Twitter is probably where you're best likely to get in touch. My DMs are always open, but it's @ChrisGreen87. You already mentioned the footprint, digital website, footprintdigital.co.uk. Obviously, you can drop me a contact there or find me on LinkedIn. Also, ChrisGreen87, I think. I pontificate and talk about this stuff quite a lot outside of it. So if anything comes to mind or you've got any questions, drop me a line. I quite enjoy just talking about it as you might tell.

David Bain: Say hi to Chris, and have a bit of a pontificate with him. Thanks again, Chris.


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