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Interviews 2013 - 2016

How Marketers Stay Productive: Jordan Skole of Ambassador

September 4, 2014

This week we feature Jordan Skole, Minister of Marketing at Ambassador. Ambassador provides referral marketing software enabling companies to reward their customers for word of mouth (WOM) referrals.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at Ambassador, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.

Your location: Royal Oak, MI

Jordan Skole

Your favorite gadget: I have a stainless steel Sharpie that brings me joy every time I use it.

You start your day with: My dog and a latte.

Your top 3 blogs you read daily: inbound.org, growthhackers.com, Martin Stellar.

“Bigger customers have bigger timelines, so we know that the path to purchase might take some time.”

Describe an average day at Ambassdor?

I wake up at around 6:30/7:00 am and take my dog out. Really she gets me up at 6:30/7:00, I don’t have a choice. It’s still helpful though because it gets me out of bed and off to a fresh start. I’ll typically make myself a poor-man’s latte to cut the time and expense of stopping by Starbucks on the way into work.

Every morning I carpool to work with my fiancé. Not only do we save on gas but it gives us time that we can spend together that we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

I usually get to work just before 9. I start my day by checking my email, Twitter, growthhackers.com and inbound.org. I participate in as many conversations as I can provide value to, and then add all the best posts to my Buffer for the day/week.

Next I check my marketing kanban board. I use Zapier to create automated weekly tasks. These are the same every week:

  • SEO Crawl errors for our blog & our main site
  • Queueing up social media posts for the week and participating in conversations/answering questions
  • Checking for upcoming conferences and running twitter leadgen campaigns
  • Check our adwords/paid performance and make adjustments
  • Check our video retargeting and make adjustments
  • Rotate copy/assets on our display & retargeting ads
  • Run Google Analytics reports
  • Check out the health of our content board and add new topics based on identified SEO opportunities

Once the chores are done I’ll switch to content management, and will order content pieces based on which ones I think are the strongest. We work with a number of different freelancers, guest bloggers, and internal content pieces. I’ll try and select the best posts and schedule them based on when they will get the most traction. The best post typically get published on Wed mornings.

Then I’ll dive into editing content as a final draft. This includes drawing custom images. I’ll try and expand on topics that the author touched on to make them more tactical and actionable. I’ll gently optimize the posts for SEO, and making sure any citations fit in with our company objectives. I’ll then throw those off to be QA-ed a final time before posting them.

After that I get into the fun part. I’ll typically have 1–2 big projects that I am working on, that are more technical. These vary, but are what I would call the “growth hacks.” For example we setting up Google DFP to serve our own ads as dynamic CTAs was one project. Another recent project was using Drip’s unreleased automation feature to move leads from our email crash course & resource downloads to a nurturing blog posts campaign.

As a marketer, what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

My most important productivity hack is to turn my phone to airplane mode as soon as I get into the office. I’ll typically leave it on airplane mode all day except for the commute home from work, unless I am driving.

I also turn email and Hipchat notifications off unless I am explicitly mentioned. This helps me stay focused on a single task at any given time.

I use zapier for all kinds of automation. We send leads to a spreadsheet and to Hipchat for example. I’ll use it to fire tracking events that never happen on our servers. For example we’ll setup chargify webhooks to ping a zapier catch webhook attached to a post route to Segment.io when a customer makes a billing payment. Since we know the user’s id we can tie CLTV directly to a channel, or a campaign even.

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3–5 tools you use?

There are plenty of tools that I use.

As you can imagine, there are probably close to 100 different tools that I use on any given day, and need to really be a master of all of them. That being said, my favorite 5 tools all share a similar theme; they are all very modular. For example I can use Trello for any type of Kanban system; marketing scrum, content marketing, even to helping me plan my upcoming wedding.

Zapier — One of the best kept secrets of zapier is it’s extensibility. If you don’t see a service you can just add it. You can take any service that utilizes a RESTful API and create both triggers and actions for it. Even if it isn’t RESTful you can still add it with a little bit of pre scripting javascript magic.

Segment.io — Imagining life before Segment gives me mental breakdowns. Segment allows us to keep all of our internal tracking methods consistent across all of our different integrations.

Google Analytics — KISSmetrics and Mixpanel are great, but the truth is, Google Analytics continues to be the most robust analytics platform available. The problem is, most marketers don’t really know how to use it. You can do event-based tracking no problem, and after their new UserID update you can do “people analytics” as well. Just make sure not to send PII to Google and you’re fine.

Evernote Web Clipper — There is no possible way that I could read every article that comes across my twitter feed. Clickbait headlines have exacerbated the problem substantially. I use the Evernote web clipper to save every article that I think looks interesting. Later that day or week I’ll go back through and read the ones that still sound interesting. Most of the article’s I have clipped don’t sound as interesting the second time around, when the opportunity cost of reading them is leisure instead of work. This helps me focus on only consuming the highest quality content.

Your company has a growing community of users. How do you use this treasure trove of customer insight to power your marketing efforts?

Case Studies! We love to see how our customers integrate our referral program and seeing their success. We’ll put together case studies that we can share with the larger community to show off how our customers are integrating. For example we have this case study about how SendGrid increased their customers by 25% by using Ambassador to power their referral program.

Another great example we like to share is how lunatik.com realized that a lot of their word of mouth was taking place in real life. Instead of assuming there was nothing they could do, they built the Lunatik rewards iOS application.

What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?

One of our biggest problems is evangelizing on behalf of the industry itself. There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to referral marketing programs, so we try and create as much content as possible that is;

  • Entertaining
  • Educational
  • Inspiring

We also understand that even though startups can use our software to get a referral program running quickly, bigger customers will get the most value from us. Bigger customers have bigger timelines, so we know that the path to purchase might take some time.

That’s why its important for us to create valuable content that educates marketers about the referral channel in general. We produce content that alleviates myths, highlights nuanced distinctions, and informs marketers how to leverage referrals for success.

Is there any advice you’d like to give to budding marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

I know it’s a bit cliche but learn to say no more. Early on it can be really tempting to take the any money, even if it doesn’t fit in with your longer term objectives.

Any modern person involved in startups knows that they should create an MVP, find their customers, and pivot the MVP into a product that will sell. This is helpful advice, but isn’t the entirety. It’s sometimes difficult for present-day customers to share your vision of the future.

If you say yes to everything, even if you sacrifice a vision you are passionate about, then you’ll constantly end up chasing the next big thing instead of getting out in front of it.

Startups, like life, are all about balance. If you are confident that you are building something meaningful, then stay focused. Cut out the distractions, and don’t over ‘pivot.’

A big thanks to Jordan for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check out Ambassador.

The ‘How Marketers Stay Productive’ series asks marketers their tips & strategies for staying productive. Every week we’ll feature a new guest and the tricks that keep them working smart. Know someone you’d love to see featured? Email Us.

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