Sky Cassidy Of MountainTop Data On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales
An Interview With Orlando Zayas
Grit, Mindfulness, Fairness, and Intelligence. You need a good combination of these and to enjoy working in an ever-changing landscape. Marketing doesn’t stand still; soso, you can never rest. A lot of marketing is competing against other companies and dealing with human nature; thewhile the techniques that work change from day to day. To really be successful you must enjoy solving the same problem over and over in different ways under different circumstances.
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 Sky Cassidy.
Sky Cassidy is the CEO and co-founder of MountainTop Data, a provider of list and data services for B2B marketing. In 2017 he launched one of the longest running B2B Marketing podcasts, If You Market. He is a problem solver and tinkerer, ; and loves to talk about business, science, and philosophy and ─ believes that 2+2 is somewhere between 3 and 5.
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?
I started as a photographer but realized early on I wasn’t going to do what I wanted there so around 2003 I started a photo sharing company; the problem was the iPhone hadn’t been invented yet. I loved the start-up world though and poked around for years with various unsuccessful startupsstart-ups while working in Sales and Marketing to pay the bills. Eventually I focused full time on a data company I was part of and after working through nearly every job in the company I took over as CEO in 2016.
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 other people make marketing mistakes, I find them funny, but my mistakes are not funny, they are sad. I have a hard time laughing at myself when it comes to business, I’m not a serious guy but I do take business personally. I’m not a trained marketer so I have made every mistake there is to make. I’m the Berenstain Bear of marketing. I’ve botched form fills countless times, but the biggest mistake I can recall is probably sorting one column of an excel spreadsheet for a physical mail campaign. , aAnyone whose who has worked with old school excel Excel remembers this issue, causing every mailer we sent out to have the wrong name.
None of us can 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?
I apologize to anyone I’m leaving out, but I had a middle school math teacher, Mr. Hogan, that was good. I was a very poor student, and everyone knew it. At the beginning of the school year, he let everyone pick whether they would take the regular math for the grade or algebra. For some reason I picked algebra and the class literally laughed. W, we even discussed it in class because another student said to the teacher that I shouldn’t be allowed to pick algebra. He said anyone could pick whatever they wanted. Mr. Hogan didn’t specifically help me. H, he didn’t single me out and mentor me or anything. H, he did something much better which was just to be a great teacher that loved what he taught and gave everyone the same opportunity. Up to that point I had been a bad student and, everyone knew it. , iIn math I found the results weren’t subjective;, it didn’t matter what anyone thought about me, if I got the right answer or , I got the right wrong answer. Turns out I was the classic bored student and went on to be one of the best in my class throughout high school, where Mr Hogan was my teacher again for calculus. This carried over to my other classes as well and I went from one of the worst students in middle school to top of my class in high school.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think there are two things. First the list business is overrun with scam companies selling lists of decades old contacts and tech startupsstart-ups with an algorithm that live scrapes the internet and throws the results at you. There are very few true data companies that maintain a database of business contact information like we do. I think we started at just the right time when emails were becoming a thing for business marketing but the drive by data scraping algorithms wasn’t a thing yet. Because of this lucky timing we’re a true data company with modern technical capabilities.
Second, we are a small business, so we still care about our customers. It’s nNot to say that we will stop caring as we get bigger, but smaller businesses provide better service because every customer means so much more to them. Anyone who uses one of the major brands in business lists knows what I’m talking about;, they treat you like your you’re lucky they’re willing to talk with you, that is if you can get someone on the phone.
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?
I evaluate people on 4-character traits:. Grit, Mindfulness, Fairness, and Intelligence. I think I’m pretty good in the first 3 and good enough in the intelligence area. Eventually I hope to be successful enough that I’m not good enough in these areas and need to be replaced. That will mean I did my job and took the company as far as I could.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have a couple irons in the fire ranging from near implementation to loose ideas. One project we’re near close to implementing is around empowering B2B marketers. I’m a strong believer in capitalism and in using it to the benefit of the customer. Sometimes this is a product evolution like the smart phone and sometimes it’s a business process like cell companies letting minutes roll over, but it always results in better companies winning and the customers winning. Our data access platform is designed to work the way the customer wants, even when our sales team complains because we’re making it more difficult for them to get easy commissions. One example here that we’ve already done is not having to haverequiring an annual contract. There are many industries that are so controlled by a couple companies that capitalism doesn’t really work to provide the best product to the consumer at the best price. In these cases, there’s an agreement between the big players not to rock the boat and it just becomes a marketing arms race. I hate that. I believe companies have a duty to always be competingcompetitive;, it’s what brings progress and improves everyone’s lives. It’s the purpose of the capitalism these companies benefit so much from. For example, in the early 2000s when we decided to include emails and sell our data instead of renting it, the list industry had to follow. Even though we were a verry small company they were suddenly forced to follow because there was a company competing for business. We got calls back then from companies telling us to stop because we were going to ruin the way the list industry worked. What they meant was we were ruining the easy life they had created at the expense of their customers. When the choices are all the same there’s no real choice and that’s not capitalism. I can’t say exactly whatHOW, but we’re getting ready to make the industry angry again.
Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, 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.
When trying something new many people try to do it themselves. When you do that, you’re a country mouse going to the city with no guide and it’s not going to end well if you don’t learn fast. I’ve made this mistake multiple times. Whatever you’re doing you need a guide if you don’t have experience. This can range from a consultant or trainer to outsourcing the service to someone that knows how to do it well. Trying to manage a new digital marketing technique by just reading the instructions is going to cost more in waste than just paying somebody that’s competent at it already. If you’ve never used Google Ads sign up for a free account and see how far you get. It’s like jumping into the cockpit of a 747, you may be smart but you’re going to get countless little things wrong, and those mistakes are going to be costly. You need an experienced guide.
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.
I’d like to focus on small businesses. If you’re a small business with limited budget and resources I don’t think an all-encompassing digital marketing blueprint isn’t what you need. I would advise companies to look at all options: , Google Ads, FB, SEO, email, YouTube, affiliate marketing, and any others that may fit your business. Identify the 1one or two that are likely your biggest ROI with the lowest short-term risk and focus on those. Manny small businesses feel like they need to do everything, but all that does is spread you too thin. As your revenues grow you can outsource more or add to your marketing team, but initially keep it simple. The one channel I’d recommend for every business is direct email. Email is great because it’s an owned channel and building your in-house list always pays off.
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?
My experience is all in B2B marketing, so I’d have to say Google Ads. You want to be where you have a good ratio of where your customers are, and your competition isn’t. Google has the most audience, but if Google Ads are saturated with competition, it drives the cost up and a platform like LinkedIn may be worth trying.
Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?
First you need experience in the platform you use, or to haveengage an experienced guide. Next you need to know your audience and what they search for when looking for products/services like yours. Finally, you need an effective landing page. Getting the right people to your site is good, but to be effective you need an effective landing page that will convert them.
Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?
To run effective email campaigns, you need accurate data. If you’re using an in-house list from newsletter signups and other opt-in contacts, you’re good, but if you’re enhancing your campaigns with purchased lists, the accuracy of the email and getting the right targeted contacts is critical. NotNot just emails that don’t bounce ─ but you must have identified the correct target audience and your list source must be able to accurately provide those companies and contacts. Next you need a delivery system that lets you send campaigns to cold email lists. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and HubSpot , these are all great email systems, but you can’t use them for a purchased list. For this you need something like Inbox25, ClickbackClickBack, or SalesNexus. Finally, you need a good email creative. This includes both the subject line that gets your audience to open the email and a good call to action in the email body. Once you’ve got that in place it’s just a matter of testing, being consistent with sends and incremental improvements.
What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?
For small businesses the phone is great; , that’s digital, right? right 😊. But seriously marketing doesn’t have to be complex, there are lots of great ABM platforms, and I think once companies get larger influencer marketing is great. In B2B influencer means people the public wouldn’t recognize, but that have a lot of recognition in your space. Influencer means generally ‘popular’ in B2C but in B2B it’s just known by your audience. Influencer marketing lets you leverage the connection or trust the influencer has with your audience. It’s a way to quickly have a more direct connection with a large audience in your space. A, any tool that helps you connect personally in larger volumes is great. Make sure it’s a personal connection and not a fake personal connection like some LinkedIn spam programs;, people generally just find pretending like that you’re connecting personally to be really annoying. For example, tools like BombBomb and Bonjoro can help your team quickly send personalized video messages to your highest value targets.
Here is the main question of our series. 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?
I go back to the 4-character traits I mentioned earlier. Grit, Mindfulness, Fairness, and Intelligence. You need a good combination of these and to enjoy working in an ever-changing landscape. Marketing doesn’t stand still; soso, you can never rest. A lot of marketing is competing against other companies and dealing with human nature; thewhile the techniques that work change from day to day. To really be successful you must enjoy solving the same problem over and over in different ways under different circumstances.
What books, podcasts, videos, or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I’m a big podcast listener and listen to audio books. My favourite podcasts for marketing are Duct Tape Marketing, Marketing Over Coffee, Marketing Smarts by Marketingprofs, Marketing School, and The Marketing Book Podcast. I’m regularly adding and removing shows, but those are the ones I listen to the most right now. I also host a podcast on B2B marketing, The the If You Market Podcast. A little secret, if there’s an area, I really want to know more about I will find an expert in that area and invite them on the show.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I love this question because I’ve already answered it. Use capitalism for good. I’m convinced that most things people think are broken could be fixed by private industry, but most of those things are broken because of private industry that isn’t forced to compete. If you want to fix health insurance, start a company that does it right. The best companies are companies that solve a problem, so find a problem and fix it. What I’d really like to see is wealthy philanthropists stop giving money to causes and start giving it to startupsstart-ups that want to solve the problem. Don’t give someone a fish, and don’t teach them to fish, start a fishing company and hire everyone that needs fish. The problem with teaching someone to fish is it ends there, and it still relies on charity. It’s not self-sustaining, there’s no mechanism for ongoing change and improvement in general. I’m convinced that when companies solve a problem, they can force all others to follow in their footsteps. If, if you don’t like how something is done start a company that does it the way you think it should be done. Not only will your solution now be an option, if you are right the whole industry will have to follow you and you will have changed everything for the better. This is the power of capitalism done properly.
How can our readers further follow your work?
The best place to find me is on LinkedIn.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
Sky Cassidy Of MountainTop Data On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.