The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Mining Customer Insights From Search Data w/ Derek Mabie


You know you need clearer insight into your customer to build better products or deliver more valuable services. One way to get that insight is by listening to your sales and customer service teams. What are they hearing firsthand?

But there's another source of insight that you might not have thought about — search data. What can you learn from the words your prospects and customers type into Google or YouTube before they decide what to buy?

In this episode of The Manufacturing Executive, Derek Mabie, former president and partner at Evolve Digital Labs, talks about how real human beings search for and buy products online.

Here's what Derek and I discussed:

  1. What you can learn from the search confessional
  2. Tools and tactics you can use to process search information
  3. How to marry qualitative and quantitative data to get fresh insights

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When I think of Voice of the customer, this is the most uninterrupted or unadulterted version of the voice of the customers. What happens in the search engines. So pulling that stuff out and organizing it can give you such great visibility into what your customers needs are. And then, what we think, is where the opportunity exists for innovation as well. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a cofounder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six. There are a lot of ways to better understand your prospects and customers, what they care about, their needs, their pains, the outcomes they're trying to achieve, so that we can build better products and deliver more valuable services. Some of these things we learned just by doing the work we do day in and day out. We can gather these insights by spending more time with our sales wraps, account managers and customer service folks, by soaking up what they're hearing firsthand. Their customer interviews and Voice of customer work. All important stuff and I encourage all of it. But there's one source for insights that you might not have thought about when it comes to R and D and product development, and that's search data, the words your prospects and customers physically type into Google or youtube or Amazon to help them find solutions, get questions...

...answered and ultimately decide who or what to put in their consideration set when it's time to buy. My guest today has built his career on the back of search data and the way that real human beings look for information online, and he's going to break all of this down for you. So, on that note, let's get into it. Derek maybe was most recently the CEO and founder of evolved digital labs, a business intelligence and digital consulting firm headquartered in St Louis, Missouri. You've all was purchased in June of two thousand and nineteen by Blue Holdings LLC. Ten years after its inception, under Derek's leadership, evolved has perfected and innovative digital framework for healthcare organizations that not only minimizes the risk of marketing waste, but also strategizes growth around completing patient and consumer jobs to be done online. Evolved was an INC magazine five hundred fastest grown company and back to back years and made the top one thousand three consecutive years, a rare feat achieved by less than twenty five companies per year. Derek was probably the driving force behind evolves innovative and data focused approach and aiding healthcare organizations to identify and resolve their digital product and transformation challenges, as well as strategizing actionable and holistic opportunities for predictable and profitable growth online. Derek helped broker the successful relationship between evolved and Washington University in St Louis to develop a data science internship program that became a critical component to developing talent to meet the growing demands from evolves clients. During his tenure, Derek and evolved digital ABS were tapped by companies like paypal, Mark, charter communications, Siteman, Washington University and enterprise rent a car to help fuel growth, innovate online and delight customers. Derek has been invited to speak at industry conferences and his work has been published in Forbes, Mayo Clinic Publishing and the Wall Street Journal. He wrote the first syllabus for search engine optimization class at the University of Missouri St Louis and taught the inaugural semester. Prior to starting evolved, Derek worked in Kansas...

City for mmgy global, the largest travel and hospitality advertising agency in the country, and attended the University of Oklahoma's Price Business College in Norman, Oklahoma, studying management information systems. Derek, welcome to the show. This is the Derek maybe bio podcast. That's quit a long yes, it is. That was quite long. So version two will will interview you. So we'll wrap it up. You know, it's funny you put those down on paper. Sometimes it doesn't seem that long and then you read it and you're like, okay, that was that was a lot. But you know what it's you got some good stuff there. So it's led you to where you are. So excited to talk about that. Yeah, thanks so much for having me and thanks to the audience for indulging that. That unauthorized biography. Awesome. Well, so, Derek, we go a long way back at this point. We're like old friends now, even though we're we don't it doesn't feel like I'm that old, but but I guess when you look at everything we've been through since I can remember, you and me and John Franco, my business partner, who you know well. He's sitting on the corner of you could and Maryland and the St St Louis is central West End, a coffee cartel which is no longer there, and we were talking about are very young at the time marketing businesses that were you were a solo preneur. I think I was just like me, John and one other guy maybe, and figuring out how we were going to build something from nothing. And I guess a lot's happened since then. Huh. Yeah, no doubt about it. It's been an awesome ride and frankly, some of the best parts are the friendships that you make, the relationships that you build with guys like you and John and watching your organization grow and all the amazing things that you guys are constantly doing and for me just reaching that point where someone said, Hey, we like your business so much, here's a check to leave. It's pretty awesome. We grabbed dinner, I remember, at what Chris is steakhouse, probably a year and a half, two years ago. One of it was when you you sold your business, and I remembered thinking like wow, this is like a pretty amazing moment of watched, you know, you do that over over the course of ten years or so. It's pretty cool. You know,...

I appreciate it. Yeah, it was. It was great culmination. Awesome. So you've taken this wealth of knowledge that you've accumulated about how marketing you know, how marketing effects people, how people buy, how companies approach product innovation, and now you're building something from those experiences, which is really awesome. So tell us about Click score. Yeah, thanks so much. Yeah, I'm really excited about what we're doing at Click score. So when you're sitting on the agency side, you definitely have one perspective. After selling evolved, I started helping and investing in a few companies and and getting them up and running and starting and and one of the constant challenges we would run into was the hiring of digital agencies and, most specifically the hiring of the agency that we were going to and trust our very precious capital to place media. And what I quickly realized was the difficulty in the decision of who you're going to hire and then how much control you hand over to this this agency, are this digital media professional. And so, with my previous experience and some things I've been toying around with, I decided to start Click score, which is essentially a credit score for your digital media buying. Right now we're doing it for the Google Properties and later this summer we're going to roll out facebook properties and then ultimately we're going to try to move into the Amazon space as well. But it's really about trying to bring a meritocracy to media buying and to get that verified trust I think that most businesses are looking for when they're placing these digital media dollars into what really is like big text black box. So we just want to bring some visibility to that and an effectively. Click scores just measuring that Delta between what you could have paid for a click...

...and what you actually paid for a click, and we think that in that Delta there's probably twenty, forty some cases. What we've seen, after going through about three hundred fifty accounts, as much as sixty or seventy percent gap between what you could have paid, what you should have paid, and what you ultimately paid. So we're excited about the opportunity to give companies that visibility and hopefully put some more growth to their top line by reinvesting or saving that money and reinvesting that cash. Now it's great and it creates accountability on the marketers and because I mean frankly, like you and I, have come up in this digital era of marketing. I was talking about this recently on one of my podcast episodes. But, like, I graduated college and Oh five, and it was that fall when Google analytics like came out right, and so, like you, prior to that, think about accountability on the marketing front, there was hardly anything, and it's getting better and better. But I think it's really important because, like you said, like people who are buying marketing services, you're just you're taking a big gamble, right. Yeah, really absolutely. And what you have to remember, I think, is most of the time big tech and the media buying agency are really tightly aligned. They're going to be compensated based ultimately on your success, but there's a lot of time between what where you may be able to determine what success is and how much money is spent to get there. And and so the alignment between the agencies and big tech is is one that is like, okay, let's help them run better campaigns, but let's also get a larger share of wallet from them and and some sometimes I think that comes with some compromised decisionmaking and and certainly it puts a challenge on the motivation. And so what we want to do is really bring some visibility into the value of the changes that agencies are making and just provide that verification that things that are being placed are... your best interests and changes that are being made are in your best interest. I think it's great. Thanks man. So, Derek, as you know, we know we are very focused, like our audience is the manufacturing sector and midsize manufacturers specifically, and I was talking to you a few weeks ago about Lee what how can we take some of your expertise and apply it in their world? And something that really stuck at stuck out to me when you and John and I were catching up a little while back here is, you know, this idea that we can use search data to actually impact Rd and product development, and so I just I jumped on that right away because, you know, I will get into this a little more later to but, like the we really were big advocates of doing customer interviews and Voice of Customer Work and things like that, which I think are really, really important because they the words of your customers can affect these things to our Indian product development in addition to your marketing strategy. But I don't know that I really have thought about search data as having an impact on our Indian product development, and if I'm not thinking about it, I'm certain that most of our manufacturing clients are not either. So I'd love for you to talk a little bit about that. Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that we were really digging into at evolved prior to my departure was this idea of the search confessional, and what we meant by the search confessional was our belief. Our notion was people will go to search engines, whether that's Google, Youtube, Amazon, whatever, and they will search for things, they'll type things in that they want it typically say out loud right and that's because the wall has been broken down of fear of judgment or most inhibitions. And so we got this idea that, you know, if we could collect large amounts of data on...

...certain subjects and then organize it in a way that makes sense for a particular industry or product or customer type, we could get this really valuable insight into what needs the customers actually have. And when I think about a manufacturing business, one of the challenges because you are in most cases pretty far removed from your end user, right whether it's you have a group of clients that are coming to you asking you to make a very specific product for them, or your manufacturing and then ultimately delivering something to the end user inside that manufacturing plant, that facility, your good distance away from your end user, and so that's one issue. The other issue is, can you get everybody in a room that are the decision makers and stakeholders of your company and agree on what customer needs you're trying to solve for that sometimes, I think, is a real challenge to we all know the solutions that we sell and we have a sense of what job the customers trying to get done, but it's difficult to agree on what are the needs of the end user, in the customer, and what are the most important or satisfied needs. And so that's where we really see search coming in and making a big difference because we get this very transparent, unbiased view from the customer. When I think of Voice of the customer, this is the most uninterrupted or unadulterated version of the voice of the customers. What happens in the search engines. So pulling that stuff out and organizing it can give you such great visibility into what your customers needs are. And then, what we think is where the opportunity exists for innovation as well.

So how do you first of all, I love I love that. It's I think it's so smart. I mean, you know, it's like you're gathering insights, but the person the customers en doesn't is in on. Does it feel like they're on stage or having to having to say what they're expected to say? It's, you know, it's not framed. It's not framed by an interviewer, it's not contextualized by another audience. Right, it's it's we think there's something very raw and important about that point of need. Right. So think about all the Times that you go to your phone to Google something because of, in that moment, that need, right. So we want to mind that out when it's relevant to Your Business and your service. Sure, okay. So to speaking to this manufacturing audience, who may not have a ton of level, a huge level of marketing sophistication, or at least on the you know, the search front. That's like your world. You ran a SEO heavy agency for many years. What tools, what tactics like? How do they how can they go start to try to process some of this information? Yeah, that's a good question. So my recommendation would be to the leadership of these manufacturing companies, if they have someone inside their organization in charge of marketing communication, to start the conversation there, to say hey, I just learned about or have just started thinking about Google in a different way, Amazon in a different way, and I'd really like to build a database, a list of the queries or the questions that our customers are, our clients, and they're in users, are out there searching. Let's just get a little smarter about that. I think that that's an easy step one, right, and essentially what you're asking them to do is to make a keyword list. Okay, to make a database of the queries related... your customers, are clients and users. I think that's a that's a great step one, and you can start to see that language, that Voice of the customer, in that in that database. I think the critical second step is to start to get a sense of or organizing that data in the order in which these customers search. So, in other words, are they starting a search with the outcome in mind or do they already have your product or service in hand? Right, and start to organize those two different types of queries, because they're going to mean different things for your company and the Innovation Opportunity that exist. I think that's great advice. Is Good, very simple way to start. Lean on the people in your organization who have a little bit of understanding of this and and yeah, now, because you know this is the type of stuff that people are used to hearing about, to help craft content right, like you, you lean into what people are looking for, the questions you're getting on sales calls, things you're getting in customer interviews. But now to look at the Rd and product development side of Your Business and say, okay, how do we apply the I mean, these are the same insights. It's all about what? What? What does your audience care about? Right, what are the needs they have? That's right. What are they? What are they struggling with? What are the pain points? The the place where you want to essentially map out right, if you can visualize in your mind a quadrant, right, that x and y access, and on one side you're doing importance and on the other side you're doing satisfaction, you want to look at these queries and volume and frequency of these queries will give you an indication of how important or how satisfied are these needs. Right. And so to connect the dot and bring it all full circle, now that you have this information, or you have the right questions to ask, or you have the right understanding of what the customers needs are,... you can go into a room and ask your customers are ask the end users. Tell me about this problem. Tell me when you are trying to solve for this what gets in your way? Right. And so it's a quick, easy way to map out that importance and satisfaction based on how they're trying to get this job done with the search queries and going into the room and knowing what are these opportunities for us to improve this product or improve this process to help this customer get the job done better. That's great. So let's think about this in some real world application, right, yes, that's exactly where I was going to go next, like, how, where have you seen? How you seen this applied before? Yeah, so let's let's think about something. Let's do a thought of experiment that we could all relate to. All right, Joe, you and I both have kids. That means that we eat we eat pizza at least once a week. Right, that's the that's a guarantee. Okay. So let's think about how people historically have ordered pizza. Right, you went to the phone book, you called up the pizza place. You go to Google, you call up the pizza place. Okay, now let's think about that. How that can be measured. Right, you can measure incoming phone calls. You can measure the amount of time your brand is searched. Okay. So what if we took a brand like dominos? Dominos says, okay, our brand is searched this many times, this in our phone rings this many times and we have this many sales orders. Right. So why do I have all of these additional calls that don't turn into sales orders? Well, I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that a meaningful amount of time people are calling is because they want to know where the hell there pizza is, right, and so you're putting...

...all that workforce through a second iteration of effort for the exact same customer. Right. So if some marketing folk and technology folk are sitting in the room and they're seeing this, it's easy for them to understand how a digital experience could help take the burden and manage the expectation of this customer. Right. So enter the domino's tracker. Now, not everybody uses that APP, but what I can assure you is that the amount of times that people have searched dominos and needing that second touch point decreases because of the innovation of that Domino's tracker. And so it's a way where, by using search data and leveraging it against your own internal knowledge, you can start to identify areas for innovation, whether it's a better customer experience like this provides, an ECOMMERCE system like maybe this provides, or reducing the work burden that they're challenged with at that point in time. Right. So opportunities to innovate exist in all of our companies like that. The challenge is, how do I one identify them and then to prioritize them? And what we've seen happen with companies that can make this a piece of their R and D or innovation process. They've been able to uncover these types of opportunities and in it existed all different formats. Right, the Domino's tracker is a digital format, but it might also be a simple additional feature that you add to a widget. It might also be an additional service, our benefit, that you add on to your current service offering.

So you know, it's that search data that gives us inside into demand in need and then, ultimately, that alignment with Your Business Information and your business goals that can drive real innovation and real value. Yeah, that's really well said. makes a ton of sense. So, Derek, you you've all I know you've been a numbers guy for much of your career, if not always in I can remember actually your old office prior to the last one you were at with involved. I can remember you like you busting out this eight hundred page excel book like a decade ago and you were telling me about all this stuff you're learning. I'm like jaws drop and so like a gorilla were we're one hundred percent behind a, you know, a qualitative way of collecting insights and identifying patterns. Were also very big advocates, as I said earlier, about you know, quantitative and qualitative right, like customer interviews, Voice of customer like. We love this stuff. It impacts marketing strategy as a whole. It impacts specific content to you know that we see our clients needing to create. How do you put those things together? Like you started to hint at this, but you know, because, because it's both important, but marrying the qualitative and quantitative insights as as a business owner, as a marketer. Yeah, it's a great question and I do think it's one of the big challenges and in fact I would say that inside of bigger organizations, this probably is the major inhibitor to innovation, because there's one school of thought that is going to be all about exercising through qualitative and there's another school of thought that relies so heavily on quantitative right. But I do think it is the marriage of the two that that brings the art and science together that allows companies to be truly great. I think the key to being able to do that is to understand the role in the place that each have in what...'re trying to accomplish. What I don't think it's very easy to do with things like search data or web analytics. It's really difficult to understand how you should be speaking to your customers and what communication strategy resonates. I think that that is better served coming from interviews with your clients or your customer base, or conversations with your sales force or those customer service representatives who are interfacing with those clients. But what I do think that the data helps drive and sets the table for that that qualitative action is prioritizing. What problems and what segment or elements of the market are you going to pursue right and so I think that the real work for the quantitative is to size and prioritize, and then the qualitative comes in and answers that question. You marry it together and it starts to answer that question of what are we going to say, who are we going to say it too, and why are we saying this right. Why does this matter to people? Google has gotten so good at answering the questions in a search engine result page that they've taken the burden off of the searcher to add very much context or color to what they're doing. Right. And the reality is each one of these big tech platforms are going to continue to take away the amount of information over time that they're going to give to you, for free especially, and so that information is going to have to come from those customers in those and users. So I think it's use the data for logically mapping out what your product challenges are, what your innovation needs are. Use that qualitative to start to understand what are the colors, the...

...shapes, the sizes were going to use, what are the words on the page we're going to use? I think those things are still left best tested and understood hearing it straight from the source, right. So it is that marriage of understanding, that prediction comes from the math and science element of these things, but the brand and the additional value comes from the communication side, and I think that's the qualitative side. Great Answer. So, Derek, what didn't what did I not ask you here that you want to add to this conversation, if anything, and is there any additional advice you'd offer a manufacturing leader about, you know, putting some of this stuff into practice? Yeah, so I guess a couple things. You know, in terms of putting it into practice, most organizations are trying to figure out what data means to them and whether it's some sort of Internet of things data coming from devices or it's their assembly lines. And you know you've had guests on talking about automation and AI and all that stuff in the factory. That's really great for the efficiency and effectiveness in which you're deploying resources. But what I would encourage these leaders to build what I think are truly innovative and great companies. You really don't have to look too much further than these big tech companies and look at what they're doing and how they're using information right and borrowing from their greatest resource, which is the customer base they have, the user base they have in the day that it produces. And so learning how to extract valuable data from those platforms about your end users, about your customers and clients, will allow you to build the products and services that your customers and clients want, and so your ability to create more valuable experiences can come from these other platforms...

...where it's harder to, I think, look at just the act of creating the good and know just from how it's produced what the next innovative step for the organization is. So it's not something that let's go back to that quadrant system. Most companies are good at products and process or sales and communication. It's really, really, really hard to be a company great at both. We have a lot of companies here in the Midwest that are really great at product and process but need other third parties or somebody else to come in and do sales and communications stuff for them. I think if you can start to develop a discipline up here in sales and communication from a data perspective, you will buy osmosis almost just by momentum and effort. You'll start to get better at that sales and communication aspect right and a lot of the skill sets to extract that data and to analyze that data exists inside of these companies. Right. You talked, you joke about the cell deal. Look, most organizations of meaningful size are starting to bring in people who are good at Excel, people who have business intelligence backgrounds, people who have data science backgrounds. That's all you're really asking these folks to do is to clean, organize and analyze data. It just is coming from sources that aren't necessarily secondhand to two manufacturers, but getting involved in that. I just cannot express that enough. It's I've heard Google as the best mousetrap on hgh right. Like this idea that they have so much information and understanding about your own customer and your business. Borrow from that, borrow from that, right. And then the last thing I want to hit is how great does it feel to be a Milwaukee's buck... today? I've had I've been ask that question quite a bit. I bet you have. I was just talking about earlier today to somebody. My senior year of high school is two thousand and one and I remember going to buffalo wild wings and watching like every buck seers game too, almost make it to the NBA finals. I was twenty years ago, and now that now we're back. So was that Glenn Robinson? So, yeah, big dog and Big Ray, Allen, Sam Cassell. Yeah, so that's right. All right. Well, good luck to the bus and men. Thanks so much, Jo. Yeah, thanks for doing this, Derek and before we let you go, and I let you give yourself a plug here for Click score and like. Where can people get in touch with you and and learn more about what you're doing? No, I appreciate that. So Click score dot ioh. If you're trying to hire a new media agency, we can help with that. We can write the RP and take you through the whole process. If you're using an agency, are a freelancer or even your own inhouse team and you just want to a sense of where do we sort of shake out in the market? How much of a Google tax are we paying? Go to Click score dot ioh and you can find that out for free. Set up an account and you can reach out to me there. Derek, got maybe at Click score dot io or find me on Linkedin. It's not a lot of zerk maybe's out there, so it's not too hard. Awesome. Well, Derek, thanks for doing this. Man, this is great. Oh dear, it was a pleasure. Thanks so much. Show you bet. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for BTB manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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