Martech Stacked Episode 4: The video hosting & video marketing service every marketer should be aware of - with Phil Nottingham
18th June 2020
Joining us for episode 4 of Martech Stacked is a brand and video marketing strategist who finds it very irritating that so many big creative and advertising agencies make a lot of money while reporting on bad metrics! He’s a former SEO consultant and video strategist for Distilled, a current brand and marketing strategist for Wistia and a current freelance video strategist - Phil Nottingham.
#1: Wistia Video hosting & marketing
#2: SparkToro Market research & audience intelligence
#3:Hubspot CRM Contact management software
David Bain: Joining me today is a brand and video marketing strategist who finds it very irritating that so many big creative and advertising agencies make a lot of money while reporting on bad metrics. He's a former SEO consultant and video strategist for Distilled, a current brand and marketing strategist for Wistia, and a current freelance video strategist. Welcome, Phil Nottingham.
Phil Nottingham: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.
David Bain: Yeah. Great to have you on here, Phil. So Phil, explain what your business does, we're obviously focusing on Wistia today, and how you use as a brand, marketing technology to make it better.
Phil Nottingham: Sure, so Wistia's marketing is kind of all led by brand. Our view is that our kind of mission in the world is to try and make business more creative, more human, and to really scale the person to person communication that often gets lost when we add a huge amount of technology into the situation. Somewhat paradoxically, we have tried to use marketing technology, which is a tool that often allows us to automate much of our communication. We've tried to use that to kind of scale creativity, so to try and enable us to be bringing the best, most creative selves and scale that to more people in a more effective manner so that we can really communicate almost like one-to-one in a meaningful way with all of our customers. We view the way that technology works best is when it's able to harness sort of the essential, good forms of creative communication, and that's what we do. We work out what we want to do creatively, and through our brand, and we then use marketing technology to scale this up.
David Bain: So you're really looking at marketing technology through the prism of content marketing, is that the main focus of marketing technology at the moment within Wistia?
Phil Nottingham: To an extent. To the extent that sort of Wistia, most of our marketing is content led, but I would say it's more always through the lens of that creative communication. Even with email, we're thinking how can we do this more creatively? How can we kind of engage people in a more personal way? That's sort of the way we do stuff. It's about do we build those connections between brand and customer in a way that really helps build that relationship that lasts for a long time.
David Bain: Okay. Even though it's obviously a video brand, the majority of your content marketing isn't necessarily just video, you still have the full marketing mix to focus on.
Phil Nottingham: Yeah, sure. I mean, with video is our kind of primary lens and our view is if it can have a video, it probably should. We have a big team called Wistia Studios that are in charge of creating all the video content. But certainly we also obviously use a lot of imagery, a lot of photography, we write a lot of blog posts, we do a lot of emails. There's a whole kind of spectrum of media types to work with and we try and do them all.
David Bain: Great, okay. Well, hopefully we'll get a little bit more of a flavor of your current content marketing model a little bit later in the discussion, but let's zero in on at your top three MarTech tools at the moment. So starting off in number three, what are your top three tools in your current MarTech stack and why?
Phil Nottingham: Sure. So for number three, I'm going to go for the HubSpot CRM, which we use really to understand more about our customers and deliver more personal communication to them. Our focus is to sort of integrate all the data we have across our website, across video playback, across all the different tools that we're using to communicate with people and build an understanding of our audience through that lens, and the CRM is a great kind of repository for that and a way in which we can manage all those communications.
Phil Nottingham: So things like email, personalized content on the website, particular forms of outreach down to actions with our sales team, we all do this through that kind of essential HubSpot CRM architecture. And it allows us to understand more about the particular people that we're speaking to on any given day and then change the way we're communicating to match with the things that they're likely to want or the way in which they're likely to want to be spoken to. So things like the content they've consumed, the products they've used, how far they've got through each particular training course type content that we offer. Then this gives us a spectrum of understanding of kind of their progress and development towards using our product, which is video marketing technology itself.
David Bain: And obviously HubSpot is a bit of a Goliath tool out there. Do Wistia use HubSpot to its full extent, i.e., do you use it to create landing pages as well and every single aspect possible? Or do you just use certain aspects of, of HubSpot?
Phil Nottingham: Yeah. We only use part of it. We just use the CRM. Our website is built, the CMS we use is called Contentful, and we've sort of built on this. It's a headless CMS, so it has a lot more flexibility and we like to create kind of unique landing pages there. So we have a kind of a semi-custom solution for our website. We don't use HubSpot, which in my view, is perfectly good CMS, but it's quite restrictive and buckles you into doing things in a certain way that doesn't necessarily work for us. So we really just use the CRM products for our sales and marketing. It's really about that essential customer database and communication that we use it for. And in my view, that's the HubSpot's best product at the moment, and obviously the one that they've been running with the longest.
David Bain: Did you consider other platforms for a CRM? Why did you actually choose HubSpot?
Phil Nottingham: Yeah, we have used Salesforce at various points. We've used MailChimp for a bit. Over the period we've ended up using all these different platforms. I think we've landed on HubSpot just because of the detail that we're able to input for each particular user, and the way we can integrate everything with the rest of our tech stack. So the Wistia product itself allows you to track how much people have watched a certain video, how far they've got through, which call to actions they've clicked on, and we send all that data to HubSpot and then build our lists off the back of it. So in terms of marketing automation, it's provided the most comprehensive system for us so far. It's not to say that we wouldn't move to another one in the future, but for us, it's definitely kind of hitting that nice midpoint of simple to use and able to manage with lots different people, good level of data and integrations as well.
David Bain: Lovely. Okay, interesting. You talked about potentially moving to something else in the future, I know you're not actively considering that at the moment, but I just had a conversation with Teresa Heath-Wareing and she's using software called Kajabi to manage as much as possible. And my fear was that it locks you in a little bit too much and makes it a little bit tricky to move elsewhere because you're doing so much with it. Is that a concern of yours? Should that be a valid concern for marketers?
Phil Nottingham: I think it should be. I don't personally think it's a concern with HubSpot. I think they're pretty good and transparent and it's not too difficult to move away and you can export the data. But certainly I think if you're with any tech stack and any new tool that you're building, make sure you're not locking yourself in forever to this thing. That might be as simple as knowing that if you do want to migrate in the future, there's support offered to help you do that, or there's kind of migration tools offered as well. Nothing's worse than kind of getting yourself locked in and then being stuck with suboptimal technology and being unable to actually shift to something better just because the company had been keen to be clinging onto your revenue without actually providing any value.
Phil Nottingham: And particularly the enterprise world, this is a common trick, I think. It's not one that I'm a fan of. I think always be cautious when you're choosing a provider and making sure that they're very transparent with the pricing, that they're not locking you into excessively long contracts, and that they have a clear way for you to migrate away from them in the future if you want to. I think that's also usually a good indication of the quality of the tool because good products don't require lock-ins. You use them because they're good.
David Bain: That's HubSpot, primarily it's CRM for tool number three, so what would you say is tool number two?
Phil Nottingham: Tool number two, I'm going to go with a relatively new one that has just completely made its way into my day to day workflow, which is a SparkToro, which is created by Rand Fishkin, he used to run Moz, and Casey Henry, who is an ex-Wistian himself. Kind of nice little duo team there. Basically it allows you to sort of do audience insights so you can input certain topics, certain keywords or hashtags or whatever, and it will tell you more about the kind of people that are interacting with those and using those terms across social media. What this allows you to do is really to just get a complete, more detailed understanding of the people that you're speaking to, and specifically like what other communities and cultures they're part of.
Phil Nottingham: So let's say I was running a company doing plumbing. I might discover, through this tool, that actually loads of people who are into plumbing are also really into cars. That gives you a really clear indication of how you can communicate with them on a more personal level and sort of say, okay, well there's clearly some people would like to know how to set up a van to include all their gear. That's the kind of thing they'd be interested in. So you can kind of just understand more about that wider community that you're speaking to. I've found that incredibly useful in terms of ideation and research and development for new content.
David Bain: I love your use of the word Wistonian, I think that's a nice way to describe people in the company there. SparkToro as well, I've certainly used it a little bit as well, not a massive amount. Would you say it's a tool that's very useful just for particular industries or types of businesses, or can any brand take advantage of that?
Phil Nottingham: I personally think is very useful for any brand, and this comes from a kind of wider view that I have on the future and the development of creative content, I suppose, in that increasingly it's harder to speak directly to your customer. This sort of funnel centric marketing where you try and latch onto this specific person and then guide them through this customer journey process, it kind of breaks when we don't have control of everything through Google and Facebook and everything is pay to play. And so the way to kind of beat that is to basically build up a word of mouth engine, and the way to about word of mouth engine is to find the communities that people are a part of and build content and relations within that community, such that you can actually engage people and become a trusted source.
Phil Nottingham: I think that marketing towards subcultures and communities is increasingly far more effective than marketing towards a customer persona, and I think this is where SparkToro becomes incredibly helpful because it allows you to unveil and understand what's going on behind the scenes and who these people are kind of speaking to on a day to day basis. Because if you really ingratiate itself with an active community, then you build that brand affinity that will allow you to just launch a product and all the people immediately jump aboard and want to use it because you've cemented yourself and you've built up that reputation that is very, very hard to lose. I think that for that particular type of marketing, it's an invaluable tool.
David Bain: Yes. I love it. I've been fortunate to speak to Larry Kim quite a few times and interview him a few times. He calls one of his marketing models, the reverse unicorn model. And what you mentioned there actually reminded me of that in that, if you want to market to very niche groups of people who are likely or more likely to respond to your content on a platform like Facebook, then if you can actually target what appears to be two disparate groups, but perhaps the traits or the passions of a particular group. So if you wanted to market to plumbers who also happened to be fans of Lord of the Rings or something like that, you would use Lord of the Rings imagery within your market and talk about the plumbing industry or something of concern to your target markets. And then you're much more likely to get interaction with that. I would assume that SparkToro could really help with identifying those kinds of subcultures.
Phil Nottingham: Yes, I think that's exactly what it does better than any other tool I've come across yet, which is why I love it.
David Bain: Superb. Okay, well, that's number two. What is your tool number one? Phil Nottingham: If you'll permit a little bit of self-promotion, tool number one will be the Wistia product itself. So the Wistia product itself is really, what it allows you to do is to kind of build a Netflix for your website. So allows you to create your own video channel that has all of the kind of tracking, the consumption habits, the kind of focus that you would expect from a digital TV streaming platform. We've just found this is so much more effective than shoving all your content on YouTube from a standpoint of consumption.
Phil Nottingham: Because if somebody lands to your website and you're sending them a series of videos and you're able to kind of have this up next system, you're able to build people in, you can just increase the level of consumption of all this content. There's no ads, there's no sort of distractions or anything like that. So you can build a network and infrastructure that really allows people to just delve deep and immerse themselves in all your content. And through that, kind of track all of their consumption and interactions, build that again to the CRM, and then market to them more personally and that kind of thing.
Phil Nottingham: Building this sort of owned infrastructure around a video channel, I think, is an incredibly valuable marketing tool that very, very few companies have actually taken advantage of yet. We're really finding that's the most effective and valuable form of marketing we've ever done. We're just able to build a real engine of kind of referrals and lead generation through this that we'd never most do before. So it's kind of moving away from using all video on social media and instead of building a kind of owned platform that you control, and that's essentially what the Wistia products allows us to do. We really believe in, if we have to be our own best customers, and if you're not eating your own dog food no one else is going to. So we've kind of really gone for this and found it to be... We've adapted the products to ensure that it does what we need to do to market the business, and that's sort of made it, I think, a very effective video marketing tool.
David Bain: I don't think that's overly self promotional. It's a great platform. I think more importantly, I think, which you touched upon, a lot of businesses don't really contemplate losing people out of the funnel readily enough. And quite often, people will embed a YouTube video, for example, on their website, and not think about having featured or related videos at the end of that video. Not think about things like having a link to YouTube at the bottom of that video as well. People will go back to YouTube and then find something else and forget about your brand completely. So having that professional video suite, at least for videos viewed in your website, or for your customer funnel, is this an essential way of upping your conversion rates.
Phil Nottingham: That's absolutely right. And to your point that you made about my pet peeve originally, one of my great frustrations is people not recognizing that the data doesn't tell the full story, and you don't know when someone just leaves your website because they've clicked on the link in a YouTube video and gone off, it just appears to you as they left. These kinds of behaviors that are untrackable but very negative are a major problem, and it's much more effective when you actually understand the full story and you're trying to think about how you can own and capture and look after and nurture that audience rather than just sort of trying to hit people as many times as they trawl around the web. I'm kind of very keen on shifting away from a model that thinks about touch points, towards a model that thinks about active consumption and interaction.
David Bain: Got you. Okay, no matter where people consume your content, it doesn't necessarily have to be within your funnel?
Phil Nottingham: It doesn't have to be within your funnel, but it's also, there's a point that somebody watching a video on Facebook, as they're just scrolling through on their phone and it just scrolls past, is in no way near as valuable as someone coming to your website and watching it there. And yet, they're both tracked as a view, but these are not comparable interactions. My view is, let's sort of qualify interactions based on the time spent, the choices made.
Phil Nottingham: So whether this is something that somebody watched because it was thrust upon them is radically different than somebody choosing to watch it. So if we can add this kind of qualification to interpret the value of interactions, this allows us to really understand our audience in a much more effective way, and takes us from a kind of a funnel centric view of the world, which I don't think is terribly helpful, towards a kind of audience centric view of the world, which allows us to understand a bit more who we're communicating to, what their needs are, and how we can kind of better serve them. Which I think is ultimately what all businesses need to do in order to capture and retain customers.
David Bain: So talking about the value of different views, do you actually have an attribution model that attempts to put a financial value against video views in different places?
Phil Nottingham: Not financial value, because again, that's something that you can't track. If somebody watches a video on Facebook and then converts on a later date from a PPC ad, there's no way that I can often connect that. It just will look like a hundred percent attribution towards PPC. So I don't think that measuring ROI or trying to kind of put a dollar value on all interactions is actually a valuable thing to do. What that ends up doing is just prioritizing all actions that lead to conversions and nothing that actually starts the ball rolling. The kind of brand interactions, the more educational engagement, that kind of thing.
Phil Nottingham: We don't attribute in terms of money, but I do an attribution model in terms of consumption. Something that is somebody chooses to watch initially, is offered a higher level of attribution than something that is just forced upon them, and then it's all about the actual time spent, and the level of commitment. So time spent in terms of like actual minutes watched, and then commitment in terms of, well, have they signed up for an email? Have they subscribed to this? Have they downloaded that? It's that kind of level of what have they decided to actually commit to. Have they signed up for a free trial, that kind of thing. So it's all about commitment and consumption, and those are those two things that form into kind of the lead tracking and measurement.
David Bain: Do you track all that inside Wistia, or do you use HubSpot to track some of them?
Phil Nottingham: Yeah, both. Wistia kind of collects the data and then sends it to HubSpot, and then HubSpot is our kind of home for all of that information. We also use Mode Analytics to track a bunch of audience data as well, but primarily HubSpot is the CRM that we use.
David Bain: Okay. Mode Analytics. And that's on top of Google Analytics, I presume?
Phil Nottingham: No. That's something separate that we use for... Obviously we use Google Analytics and data studio and what kind of stuff. We also use Mode to track a lot of the kind of integration between the product and the websites. It's going to be able to tell you, for example, who has uploaded more than five videos, has embedded three, and also has looked at these four blog posts. You can kind of understand a bit more about the active habits of the user tied to the habits of them on the website. It's combining those two data sources and allowing us to really understand that full method of engagement that this particular user, whether they're a customer or not, has gone through and we can then qualify them on this basis. It's just proprietary. We've done our own tracking and we've set up all the data in Mode, which is a great platform for kind of building your own analytics and graphs and data analysis.
David Bain: Okay, so we touched upon content marketing, your content marketing strategy earlier on a little bit, I'd just like to get a little bit of a better feel for what your ongoing strategy is, how you decide what videos to produce on a regular basis, whether or not you produce pillar type content or attempt to answer questions of your audience, length of videos, things like that. How do you go about forming your overarching content marketing strategy at Wistia?
Phil Nottingham: Yeah, so we kind of look annual goals in terms of what we're trying to do, what change we want to see in the market, in our own product. That will have like a sort of brand goal, which is more about your perception and positioning. We'll have a goal around acquisition, how many customers we're trying to get, what level of money we expect them to give us, all that kind of stuff. Then lastly, we will have a... Sorry, I've lost my train of thought there, what was a saying?
David Bain: We're talking about in general your content marketing strategy. You were talking a lot about the metrics that you use to measure things. It would be good to get a feel for what type of content you produce on a regular basis as well.
Phil Nottingham: Sure thing. Yep. We have the goals and we will kind of, from there, decide, well, what are our major kind of pillars of messaging? And then we'll kind of define the goals to find the content. We will normally look at it from a perspective initially of big pieces of content. That's going to be big in terms of length. So that's either going to be like a series, or it's going to be a one off movie type thing, and we'll kind of decide, okay, well what is this big centerpiece asset that we can get lots of people to spend a lot of time on that we're going to really build.
David Bain: Hero content.
Phil Nottingham: Yeah, kind of hero content. But it's not hero content in the way that most brands interpret it, which is more about a kind of big budget ad and the major centerpiece will be a three to four minute ad, and then there's a ton of supporting content that kind of runs on the same thing. Our central piece is a movie or a TV show or a big podcast series. So it's something that has a great deal of length because we're trying to encourage consumption all the time through our audience. We'll kind of define the strategy for this, we'll work out who we're speaking to, what their particular needs and assets and challenges are. We'll go from there to come up with a bunch of ideas.
Phil Nottingham: We're very particular about really coming out with loads and loads of ideas and then rigorously interrogating them. Our ideation process is much, much longer than I think most companies where they'll normally have an idea, decide they quite like it, and then worry about the practical stuff. We come up with loads of ideas, interrogate them all quite thoroughly, start to plan a few, and then eventually decide on one that seems to make sense, given the budget, given the audience and the response. We take a while to really refine that. And that's going to be a centerpiece content for the kind of year, our hero campaigns.
Phil Nottingham: We'll have like two or three of those a year, usually. We then will support that with a load of content for social media that's often around trailers for that center content, supporting assets, images, photos, short clips, that kind of thing. We really just think of ourselves like a media company. We think of ourselves like an HBO or an NBC or something who have made a big TV show, and then we're going to market that TV show. We really use social media to market our content rather than our brand and our product mostly. We do do a little bit of that, but the majority, it's marketing our content and that's our major marketing asset.
Phil Nottingham: We'll then also like take more of a sort of search centric kind of, I suppose, below the line, you might call it, look at our content as well. We'll look at queries that need to rank for, we'll create content that's going to get a match that, and blog posts and videos. We will look at kind of market need based on what our customers is telling us and try and create some content to support that as well. And we'll also have some stuff that just is kind of quick to make that maybe we just had this idea this week, we think it's a low effort, low return piece, or low effort, medium return, and we'll just kind of knock it out as well. It's kind of layered based on investment and we call it like one star content, three star content, five star content based on the effort and the potential return. We try and structure the majority of the campaigns around these big five star hero campaigns, and then support that with a lot of kind of secondary content that perhaps is more evergreen and less campaign centric.
David Bain: I love it. I really love the way that you consider yourselves as a media company. Do you think that every brand should consider themselves as a media company? Obviously they won't be able to do as much volume or perhaps even quality as Wistia can do on a regular basis, but do you think every brand should have that one piece of incredible hero content that they look to produce on an annual basis?
Phil Nottingham: I think they might do. Whether or not they make it one giant piece or not is another question. But I do think brands should certainly start thinking about themselves as media companies. I would say that we're doing it right now. We're creating a podcast, this a media asset. It's kind of separate from the products or services and it's something that we're really kind of building as a media thing that somebody is going to want to come and consume.
Phil Nottingham: I really think you need to start thinking about things in terms of that media mentality. I would just advise companies to think bigger than they are right now. So if right now they're just creating three blog posts a month, they're sort of using a fairly loosely defined process of trying to match search demand and what they think people might want to talk about to kind of work out what to write, and they don't really know to go from there. It's like, well, how can we think of a bigger idea? How can we think of a media centric idea that kind of maybe will have its own sub brand? Can we kind of evolve into that space? I do think that that's the kind of mentality that's needed, and the best way to start with that, is kind of this thing we talked about earlier with these subcultures and understanding who you're speaking to, what their main interests are, and can you create the best content on the web for that very niche interest?
David Bain: So it certainly seems that Wistia is further ahead than most companies in terms of its use of marketing technology. Can you think of one process that you currently do manually that you may wish to automate using marketing technology in the future?
Phil Nottingham: Yes, this is little bit wishful, but I think we're going to get there in two to three years. Which is, I want to be able to just set up a camera in a room and it automatically shoot and edit a multi-camera setup. Essentially like an interview show that you can just put in a room or, like we're doing right now across video conferencing, and it will automatically edit it with multiple shoots, improve the color, the compositing, and basically light to just record and immediately publish something that will look like a traditional interview TV show that historically has required three high end cameras and a lot of editing and huge members of staff to kind of do it on the fly. We're getting there. At Wistia we have a set up that we use to basically do live switching with multiple cameras. It's probably a 10 grand setup and I want that set up to cost 500 bucks. And I'm thinking we might get there in a few years.
David Bain: That's the kind of thing that I absolutely love as well. I've actually looked into that a little bit. I use vMix to produce a lot of live videos. I'm kind of using it at the moment. I'm only using it at the moment to create an overlay and a green screen behind me, but I've looked into it. There are some kind of third party, I don't know if you'd call them plugins or some associated programs, that you can use to create multi-camera shoots and automatically switch to different cameras depending on who's talking. It certainly seems possible using that. I'm not sure if you've used vMix in the past at all?
Phil Nottingham: I have, yeah. I've tried out a bunch of these things. I think it's a clear indication of where things are going to go. I remember trying to set up a multi-cam stream about 10 years ago and it was a huge effort. Now, it's kind of relatively achievable for most people. I'm just keen to see Moore's law kick in and that's going to become fairly simple and that thing that I spent an entire year learning how to do 10 years ago, I'll be able to learn in an hour and everyone will be able to learn it in an hour too!
David Bain: Well, to close up, what is something that you have in mind that would be a wonderful piece of marketing technology, but perhaps doesn't even exist yet, but you would love to see created?
Phil Nottingham: For me, the main thing that makes all the difference in marketing is audience understanding. Like if you know who you're speaking to, you understand their problems, you can do everything better. And the companies that don't do very well, I think are invariably those that have a very shallow or very formulaic understanding of their actual customers. I think there's a huge amount of space in audience research. I would like to be able to automate the process of getting people in a room and doing a proper focus group and be able to just kind of instantly call upon a resource that had that ability, the means of which we can speak to potential customers, new customers, influencers, and really understand what they think about the world. I don't know how that would even be possible, but that right now is a big laborious challenge. I think anything that can be created to kind of automate that process and make people really understand who we're speaking to and what they care about will be terribly valuable.
David Bain: I love your answers because every single answer you give, I'm tempted to go down a rabbit hole and probe further into each answer, but that's perhaps for another day. So I'm just going to say at the moment, thank you so much for your time and your tips today, Phil. A lot of incredible information you've shared. What's the best way for the listener to find out more about you and what you do?
Phil Nottingham: Probably follow me on the social medias. So I'm on Twitter @PhilNottingham, or you can just drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Bain: Wonderful stuff. Thanks again.
Phil Nottingham: Thanks, David.
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