Chris Jones Of Markacy On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales
An Interview With Orlando Zayas
Create a highly successful career as a digital marketer include having a client-first mindset, being a team player, deploying data-driven strategies, hard work, and having an entrepreneurial spirit and being solution-oriented.
Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.
In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Jones.
Chris Jones is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Markacy, a digital marketing strategy firm. He co-founded Markacy in 2018 after working in financial services, both in corporate banking and strategy consulting for a Big 4 firm for over a decade. During that time, he advised Fortune 500 companies through mergers and acquisitions and led teams as far as client strategy and workstream project management. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Maryland in Financial Economics and a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got started?
My partner Tucker Matheson and I co-founded Markacy in 2018 after both working for a Big 4 firm. We were noticing that strategy consulting was beginning to increasingly converge with marketing and identified a white space at the intersection of the two sectors. In this new digital world, we knew we could bridge this gap with a financial-results-meets-marketing strategy approach and founded Markacy. Now we enable DTC brands to launch, scale and grow their e-commerce operations across different sectors.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or takeaways you learned from that?
When I first launched Markacy, I was hyper-focused on managing each component of a client engagement project on my own because we didn’t have the dozens of experts on our team to lean on each day, like we have now. I had prior experience managing teams, but it was an opportunity to learn how to better delegate tasks, and how to identify talented individuals who could specialize in specific areas of our business when building our team. Today with a growing team and numerous senior experts, we’re able to balance out the workload much better and lean on what everyone excels at to best help our clients. We still revel in the start-up mindset of working hard to get things done for our clients, but our business and how we balance our workloads looks much different than it did just a few years ago.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
We think the world of our team and we would not be as successful as we are today without them. I like to think that we all help each other grow. For example, a pet brand worked closely with a number of our team members including one of our media directors, Chris Rigas. Chris’ strategic advice and expertise helped them grow through his driving efficiencies on the brand’s core media channels. He was also able to leverage his analytical skills and guide them through various periods of supply chain difficulties and seasonality, which was critical to the business’ success. The client was so impressed with his work and leadership, and complimentary of how his work in particular helped lead the company to achieving a significant fund raise, which just punctuates his commitment to excellence and inspires not only our team, but also inspires me every day.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver financial results. Our results are both quantitative and qualitative. From a quantitative perspective, we are delivering superior results in a competitive digital marketing landscape. Digital marketing performance is a lot like the stock market — one week it’s up and another it’s down — so having a trusted advisor to guide brands through it. We have the ability to show our clients the value of our work both from a revenue perspective, as well as through performance data. From a qualitative view, we tune into our clients’ individual needs and we have honest, transparent conversations with them about expectations, which we believe is our core differentiation and puts Markacy at the intersection of marketing and consulting.
For example, we worked with a high-growth personal care brand. We devised a financially-driven approach and took time to understand their product line. Our team worked to grow customer acquisition and retention by using a fully integrated media and growth strategies. We launched a holistic email marketing strategy that resulted in a 400% email list growth, improved CRO and SEO for their website, and devised a paid media acquisition strategy that resulted in a 475% revenue increase in a single year.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The three traits I believe are most important in my personal success as a business leader include being an active listener, having attention to detail and desire to excel, and to always put our team members first and client service first.
Being an active listener is a trait that is dynamic and must be learned over time. It is critical to listen to what people are saying — or not saying. This means listening for cues, or the solution a person is looking for, and often asking questions to clarify and ensure I understand what is needed, so I can deliver on those expectations.
Early in my career, I learned the importance of attention to detail, everything from little things like sending emails or putting together internal presentations, making sure they are thoughtful and will have longevity. Having the desire to excel even in attention to detail for seemingly simple tasks can be major drivers for quality.
Finally, a major factor in not only my role as a business leader, but our success as a company, is that we place an emphasis on putting our team and our clients first. I believe that if our team members are set up for growth and success, then that directly impacts our client service. Making sure our team is supported helps them tune into the needs of our clients to ensure we’re aligned and that we’re meeting their priorities and expectations. It’s key for us to fully understand our clients’ business, their needs, financial objectives, and any other core key performance indicators. From there, our team can create and tailor media and marketing campaigns that will help our clients meet their goals.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have several really exciting new projects in the pipeline, and a major focus of our work in 2022 is going to be helping brands with digital transformation. The pandemic has accelerated the need for companies to have a digital presence and a seamless experience online. Having personalized online interactions that are personalized to the same extent if not more as if a consumer were in a brick-and-mortar location, along with a robust e-commerce strategy, will maximize opportunities to grow revenue and brand reputation.
Sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.
The number one mistake we’ve seen companies make when starting digital marketing is underinvesting in, and under prioritizing ad creative. So many companies are willing to spend money on the campaigns themselves and will commit a significant portion of their budget to it, but not enough budget to high quality creative that will resonate with customers.
Another common mistake is not having realistic expectations when starting to use paid media. Paid media can drive profitable ROI, but it takes time. Brands and their marketing teams should regularly evaluate what is working and what is not and make adjustments as well as give the algorithmic platforms time to learn and optimize.
To that end, companies can be pressed to see immediate results and may see some marginal returns initially and then get discouraged when the cost of acquisition rises. This is to be expected, so brands and marketing teams should build paid media plans 6, 9 and 12 months in advance, setting realistic expectations and KPIs. When starting a paid campaign, businesses often target broader demographics, which tends to be less costly. Over time, the marginal cost of acquisition rises in effort to continue to reach new audiences. This is not unusual, but many businesses are deterred by it. Diminishing efficiencies can be leveled off over time, but having an understanding of the marketing principles and managing expectations in terms of how they work.
If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.
At Markacy, we take a unique approach to building a digital and e-commerce strategy, starting with a comprehensive audit of a company’s performance. That includes historical marketing performance, as well as an audit of its financials. We want to learn if there is a tactical playbook for approving core channels, strengths and weaknesses, what happened in prior periods and what we can expect moving forward in terms of gains from any targeted optimizations. This helps us create a detailed media plan that reflects what we’ve learned in the audit. We determine how to allocate to core channels, how to potentially perform better in those core channels and decide which expansion channels might be a fit and how to allocate to those. Then we set goals and KPIs for each channel, create a roadmap for next steps and regularly review how things are going every few months.
Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?
When it comes to PPC, Google AdWords is still the most effective platform. Google AdWords still has the biggest brand search demand, the best performing campaigns and ability to scale, because it still has the highest volume of users.
Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?
1. Understand Your Goals & Budget: Before beginning to launch a paid search campaign, it’s important to have a full understanding of both KPIs and budget needed to achieve those goals. Paid search can be used for a variety of purposes including generating leads, driving revenue or increasing brand awareness. Based on your objectives, this will help define your budget, ad copy messaging, audience structure and other aspects of the campaign such as bid strategies to help achieve those goals.
2. Define Your Keyword List: Keywords are the very foundation of your paid search campaign and the performance of each keyword and overarching keyword category will largely help determine the bids you assign to each of them to achieve your KPIs. A few considerations to keep in mind when building the keyword list is to leverage keyword tools to help identify keywords in your category that have enough search volume and understand what it will cost to bid on them, tailoring keywords around what your customers might be searching to find your business or service, and reviewing what searches your competitors are appearing for to ensure you have coverage across a variety of keyword variations.
3. Map Out A Testing Agenda: Testing is a core piece of running a successful PPC campaign to continue improving performance and understanding key learnings for future campaigns. By aligning on specific items to test you’ll be able to refine what’s working and continue to improve performance and scale spend. Testing can include keywords, ad copy, landing pages and bid strategies among other aspects within a campaign.
In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?
The three things that are critical to run a highly successful email marketing campaign are understanding the client’s business, products, and creative strategy; designing strategic automation flows, and having a monthly newsletter cadence.
Understanding a business’ products and creative strategy is key to recognizing what types of creative and messaging resonate with consumers at various parts of the lifecycle — new customers, existing customers, and the most loyal customers. Then, having automation that is designed with strategic triggers can maximize recurring revenue at various touchpoints. Automation should be designed for things like a welcome series, cart abandonment, browse abandonment and post-purchase to enhance email touchpoints with the customer. Finally, having a newsletter cadence that focuses on the top marketing events each month is another way to drive revenue. Share product releases, holidays or milestones, sales and other relevant content such as recipes, then tailor the quantity and segmentation to each audience to maximize performance.
What other digital marketing tools are you passionate about? What are they and how do you best leverage them?
Even as a foundational aspect of most brand’s mar-tech stack, Google Analytics is incredibly valuable. There is a lot of power in the ability to access real time analytics that can help assess performance by channel at a deep level, at a campaign level, and can show where consumers are dropping out of the funnel. In addition to Google Analytics, we also look at the attribution and available reporting within our media engine UI to make strategic decisions. Our gather reporting includes a spreadsheet and business interface dashboard that combines both media engine and google analytics to standardize campaign performance in one central view.
Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Five things that are necessary to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer include having a client-first mindset, being a team player, deploying data-driven strategies, hard work, and having an entrepreneurial spirit and being solution-oriented.
All of our media directors are experts in their respective fields and platforms, but what sets each of them apart are their individual analytical abilities. That quality, along with having foundational industry knowledge, helps our team stand out because we critically analyze what is working well for a client, identify trends, and optimize media spend across existing and expansion channels. Marketing and media are something that we can be taught with time teach, so when we’re hiring, we prioritize candidates with backgrounds in diverse fields along with critical thinking ability along with .
What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I’m an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, and The Economist, along with several marketing publications such as eMarketer, AdWeek, and Ad Age.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Marketing is essential for elevating awareness and for sharing resources and opportunities for different causes and can and should be used to lead the charge on essential world issues such as climate change, the importance of high-quality education for people of all backgrounds, and income inequality.
Over the years, a lot of marketing efforts have elevated awareness and resources for people who are on the Autism Spectrum (ASD) range — but so much of it is dedicated to those who are high-functioning.
My brother-in-law has Angelman Syndrome, a genetic disorder which is syndromic of ASD. It is not a well-known condition but causes delayed development, problems with speech and balance, intellectual disability, and sometimes seizures. He cannot walk or talk, but people with Angelman’s often smile and laugh frequently, and have happy, excitable personalities. While a lot of ASD range disorders are more recognized now, and there is education around them, growing up he was very misunderstood and still is today.
We are both very passionate about elevating awareness for people with rare diseases like Angelman Syndrome, and if we were to start a social impact organization, it would likely be in this space. I believe I could use my experience to help families navigate the dynamics of dealing with challenges associated with families providing proper care and financial support for their loved ones, among other things. It’s critical to raise awareness amongst the broader community about specific rare diseases so that those dealing with these conditions are never misunderstood. That way, both those experiencing them, and their families would have easier access to a wider range of support and resources available.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
Chris Jones Of Markacy On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.