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This is the credo under which Hal Werner operates. As Global Manager of Digital Marketing & Strategy for Mitel, he’s responsible for overseeing the telecommunication company’s marketing programs from a holistic view, and understanding how all the pieces fit together.
Coming from a background in copywriting and content strategy, while also possessing considerable experience with SEO, PPC, and analytics tools, Hal believes the key to unlocking success in this modern era of digital marketing resides at the intersection of creativity and data.
“You find that companies are really good at one or the other,” he explains of the art and science of marketing. “And that gives you good, but when I see great, it's almost always when the two are together. So you have a really good insight that's maybe based on data, you have a data-led execution, and you have a creative execution of that idea. That really makes it shine because without either those parts it, can fall flat.”
[bctt tweet="You find companies that are really good at the art or science of marketing. That gives you good, but when I see great, it’s almost always when the two are together. @halwerner #MarketingStrategy #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]
In our wide-ranging interview with him for the Break Free B2B series, Hal shared his thoughts on sophisticating attribution, merging content strategy with SEO, and creating operational structure to get the most out of your people, roles, and positions.
Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Hal Werner
For a sampling of what’s inside, you can check out a few highlights from our chat below.
Nick: One thing we talk about here at TopRank is purpose — whether that's your company having a purpose beyond its business function, or even down to the granular level of every piece of content you create. It's very easy to get caught in this pattern of just churning things out. So it's really good to take a step back, right? And just review and say, well, what is what is the purpose of this single thing we're creating?
Hal: Yeah. If you want to create a piece of content about a topic, but you can't create the best one, why are you creating it? Someone's already covered that. I think it's the same way with function in a company, right? If you don't truly believe that you can outdo your competitors in the space for that function, then what are you wasting your time on?
[bctt tweet="If you want to create a piece of content about a topic, but you can't create the best one, why are you creating it? Someone's already covered that. @halwerner #ContentStrategy #B2Bmarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]
Nick: Given your background in search engine marketing, I'm really curious to get your thoughts on the intersection between content strategy and SEO. I really see them becoming sort of the same thing. Are you seeing that trend play out?
Hal: I think the most successful companies are doing that and the tough thing is, it's hard to operationalize. It's easy if you have a person who understands all of those things and how they work together, and they can either do it or direct it — then you're in a good position. But if you just have a team of disparate people, it gets much harder. So I always like to start every project with an insight. If there's not a core insight at the beginning of a project, then I tend to not actually pursue it because I think it's kind of empty.
I think those insights can come from a lot of places, and they have to funnel into content and SEO. Sometimes the insight might be a keyword, you might see something on Google Trends blowing up that you can get on top of, or it might come from the sales team, right? The boots on the ground, ‘Hey, guys, we're always hearing people asking about this.’ And you can feed it in that way. You might find out one topic, go plug it into a tool and find out there's a lot of other questions people are asking to really enrich what you're going to create.
Nick: Tactically speaking, what do you see as some opportunities to push back against the trend of diminishing organic reach and really firm up your brand?
Hal: I think there's a couple things you can do. For one, we might actually see a little bit of reinvestment into some of the traditional branding channels and advertising channels to do that. I also think there may be some shift from a lot of digital channels that have a strong demand generation or e-commerce focus. I think a lot of those channels you might see more usage for branding. Display is an area where some industries are already doing that. Other industries may follow a little more. But I also think one of the interesting things, one of the things you guys do, is influencer marketing.
If your channels aren’t getting that reach, then these people in these other channels might be able to help your brand get out there, right? So whether whether you earn it or whether it's paid for, you're going to need more voices putting out there what you're about so that not only people see you, but you begin to be associated with that thing at a critical mass.
Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:
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Be compliant or be complacent. These are the two options facing brands and marketers today, as data privacy laws continue to increasingly take hold.
For those paying attention, it’s been clear for some time that Europe’s GDPR regulations were only the beginning of a global effort to formalize and enforce protections for internet users and their personal data. But with California’s landmark privacy legislation, CCPA, set to become enforced in 2020, data privacy is no longer a distant foreign concern for American businesses, if it ever was.
[bctt tweet="Be compliant or be complacent. These are the two options facing brands and marketers today, as data privacy laws continue to increasingly take hold. @NickNelsonMN #dataprivacy #digitalmarketing" username="toprank"]
What is the CCPA?
At a high level, the purpose of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is quite similar to that of GDPR: It’s about giving people transparency into, and control over, how their personal data is used by companies.
As the epicenter of technological advancement in the United States, California is a logical launch point for this type of legislation. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in summer of 2018, and after a period of back-and-forth amending, it’s slated to officially go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
To cut through the complexities and narrow it down, the CCPA includes three primary mandates. Starting next year, residents of California must be able to:
Access their personal information (what’s been collected, by which companies, and why)
Request deletion of personal information (via, at minimum, a toll-free phone number)
Opt-out from having their personal information sold (via link on home page of company website)
Now, it bears noting that there’s a fair amount of specificity in the CCPA. For example, the companies that fall under its scope must satisfy certain thresholds in terms of annual revenues, amount of data possessed, and percentage of revenue derived from the sale of consumers’ personal information.
The new law is also ostensibly localized in one state, although that’s a bit misleading: Any company doing business in California is subject to CCPA’s guidelines. The International Association of Privacy Professionals estimates more than half a billion U.S. companies will be affected.
Plus, as Len Shneyder writes at Marketing Land, the Golden State is hardly alone in pushing for data privacy laws: “Bills in New York and other states are making their way through legislatures, all with similar yet nuanced provisions, protections and, in many cases, breach notification requirements.”
Be Compliant, Not Complacent
Whether through the proliferation of state-level laws like CCPA, or the eventual enactment of a similar federal legislation, it’s only a matter of time before data privacy regulations are in place across the United States. For marketers and brands doing business in California, compliance is no longer optional. And I’d suggest the same is true for all others, because the alternative – complacency – is only going to set you back while putting customer relationships at risk.
Incurring financial penalties shouldn’t be the only motivation here, though, and maybe not even the primary one. As I wrote here earlier this year, when addressing the growing trend toward data privacy legislation, “brands everywhere should take a hard look at their own customer data practices, not just because of these looming legal implications but even more so because it’s plain-old good business.”
By no means would I advise that marketers stop collecting and leveraging user data. This information is often necessary to form accurate customer insights as a basis for resonant marketing programs. But we do need to ensure we’re being very up-front about the what, why, and how. Complacency just ain’t a good look.
[bctt tweet="By no means would I advise that marketers stop collecting and leveraging user data... But we do need to ensure we’re being very up-front about the what, why, and how. @NickNelsonMN #dataprivacy #digitalmarketing" username="toprank"]
As a starting point, here are some general advisable practices when it comes to transparent data privacy:
Ensure you’re making very clear — on your website and any other applicable digital properties — what information you’re capturing from visitors and how you’re going to use it. This is crucial.
Collect only the data you need, and nothing more.
Make it extremely easy for your audience to opt out of everything. Consent is king (that’s how the saying goes, right?).
Implement multi-layered security measures wherever customer data is stored — especially in cloud-based services.
Make data privacy a central and persistent talking point in your organization. Everyone involved should be part of the conversation.
Meanwhile, getting specifically compliant with CCPA and its core principles will put virtually any business in a good position going forward. To that end, here are some helpful resources:
You’re also welcome to reach out to our team at TopRank Marketing if your organization is looking for a partner that understands the data privacy landscape. We’ve been working with several clients under GDPR guidelines since its inception, so we’re no strangers to its scope and implications.
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