Professor Ryan Raiker Of Widener University On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales

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An Interview With Orlando Zayas

Digital Marketing is constantly changing. Trends and practices from last year could be completely obsolete this year. Learning shouldn’t stop when school is done. There are plenty of digital skills training courses available both online and offline, some are even free! Don’t be afraid to invest in your career and to keep learning! As the Digital Marketing space continues to evolve, the best marketers will be life-long learners who are hungry to develop and invest in new digital marketing skills.

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 Ryan Raiker.

Ryan Raiker is an adjunct professor in the fields of business management, communications, and digital media informatics at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. He recently took on the role of senior director of product marketing at software company ABBYY. Before that, he served two years (2020–2022) as the intelligent automation software company’s director of digital marketing, heading content and digital experience strategy globally.

He joined ABBYY after the 2019 acquisition of TimelinePI, now ABBYY Timeline, where he led product marketing and brand strategy. Ryan Raiker is an MBA graduate of Widener University, holds an Executive Education certificate from Columbia Business School, and digital marketing certification from the American Marketing Association and the Digital Marketing Institute.

Ryan actively writes in multiple publications on Medium and with other publishers. You can learn more about him at RyanRaiker.com and follow his adventures on Instagram @RyanRaiker.

The thoughts, opinions, and commentary within this article are from Ryan Raiker and are not the explicit view of his employers, affiliate companies, institutions, or organizations that he may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

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?

Previously I worked in the public sector. My focus was around IT planning, streamlining, modernizing citizen experiences, and integrating enterprise technologies that helped transform government for the digital age. The biggest thing that had me thinking of a career outside of government was the lack of change. Everything in government felt stale and dry; everything moved so slowly. While I have a huge passion for tech, there weren’t enough digital tools in my experience working in the public sector. I worked with people who were still using paper and pen to record constituent service requests and move them from department to department.

I didn’t plan to be a marketer; if you told me I’d be where I was today ten years ago, I’d laugh you out of the room, but things change. Candidly I think I’ve always been quite good at marketing. My analytics and process improvement background certainly helps me understand buyer behaviors, customer analytics, and ways to improve workflow in marketing. However, when I started my role at the technology startup TimelinePI, I was a Solutions Consultant, basically a sales engineer. I suppose I was always around sales and marketers, and maybe I was helping some of my clients with marketing in my consulting business. It wasn’t my main focus. It all kind of just happened.

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?

While perhaps not the funniest or the earliest mistake, I cringe at the thought. When I started at ABBYY, I needed to forward my calendar invites to my new ABBYY calendar. While I was forwarding events to my ABBYY email, or perhaps what I thought was my ABBYY email, I was sending invites to another ABBYY employee named Ryan. I think it was when he received two dentist appointments, a trip to the beach, and a colonoscopy appointment, that he replied, and I realized what I had done. Yes! I cringe! While comical and an honest mistake, it speaks to the lesson about slowing down and making sure things are done correctly, even the small stuff that seems menial and less critical.

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?

Please skip. I do not wish to mention names.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

When thinking about ABBYY: We power intelligent automation. We free the people of mundane tasks and give millions of hours and dollars back to the business. We give businesses the ability to acquire understanding, apply new insights, and enable automation skills related to people, processes, data, and technologies.

ABBYY stands out for its industry-proven portfolio of solutions that leverage machine learning, process mining, natural language processing, and intelligent capture to enable AI capabilities. Coupled with strategic global partnerships with major automation vendors and customer-centric sales teams, we provide customers with the necessary skills to maintain a competitive edge and gain business value. While that sounds like a lot of marketing jargon, it is exactly what we do. We are an innovative technology leader in intelligent automation. Companies like PwC, FDA, Siemens, Deutsche Post DHL, PepsiCo, and Volkswagen use ABBYY intelligent automation solutions to guide action and drive change, resulting in thousands of hours given back to the people and millions of dollars saved. Here are some of those ABBYY customer stories and case studies:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration needed to quickly and accurately process paper and electronic documents to optimize outcomes and deliver the best results to end-users. They turned to ABBYY to digitize and process a thirty-year archive of forms used to report adverse events. The project

also processes current documents, ensuring that critical reporting is captured accurately.

California DMV — The California Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) two primary functions are to license California’s 26.5 million drivers and register more than 34.7 million vehicles. It collects over $8 billion in revenue annually, records ownership of vehicles, and maintains driving records — including accidents and convictions — of licensed drivers.

The Some DMVs will use ABBYY solutions for a digital mailroom that ensures Californian driving licenses are compliant with the Federal Real ID Act — and can be used to help people board flights and enter secure federal facilities in the United States. The deadline for REAL ID compliance is May 3, 2023, which is where ABBYY can help! Currently, applying for a REAL ID requires proof of identity, California proof of residency, and a trip to a DMV office. We will help enhance the REAL ID experience and significantly reduce the need for California citizens to make an in-person visit to a DMV field office.

An international telecommunications vendor drives all of its operational improvement and automation through data-driven insight using ABBYY’s process mining solution Timeline. The estimated savings is upwards of $8 million+ a year and a 70 percent reduction in the total time and cost compared to historical manual efforts.

First Home Bank — Last year, the U.S. government’s latest COVID-19 relief efforts for small businesses included the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) with two rounds of funding, $349 billion and $310 billion, respectively, allocated by Congress. It was designed to serve as a lifeline for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees until the economy reopened. First Home Bank knew that they needed to automate their loan applications during this time, as the daily demand for loans is more than the SBA processes in an entire year and loan applicants were frustrated with the amount of time it took to process the loan applications end-to-end, including filing and receiving timely status updates.

To keep up, First Home Bank partnered with ABBYY, Lateetud, and Blue Prism to automate the entire end-to-end loan application and submission process, helping them save around 85,000 jobs, secure $770 million in loans, and process 99% of the loans on the day of the application. They also used the technology to automate upstream and downstream activities like application validation and loan closures, respectively.

Additionally, some benefits the bank has received after automating its SBA PPP loan approval process included:

  • 10 digital workers have the capacity to process up to 14,000 loan applications per day, production ready in less than two days,
  • it’s 30x faster than completing the process manually,
  • they received enterprise security and scalability, and more.

Another customer Scena, a UK creative construction and protective solutions company, leveraged ABBYY to automate their invoice & credit notes process. The combined ABBYY and Engeneum invoice processing solutions removed the need for time-consuming manual entry. This saved Scena 60% of the time it took to process invoices and provided the finance team with more time to concentrate on managing the data.

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?

Understanding, Empathy, and Compassion

Being understanding with employees helps to validate what they’re going through. It improves collaboration, raises levels of trust, and enhances loyalty. Oftentimes leaders are removed from the work, but it would benefit them to understand what their teams are experiencing. All leaders should walk a day in the shoes of the team and lead from within. My approach is to work with the team hands-on and I think that makes a great difference in team performance and team morale.

Empathy in leadership and team dynamics creates stronger connections between people and leaders. Research shows that empathy is perhaps the most crucial leadership skill. Ultimately it comes down to genuinely demonstrating care for others and paying attention to team members. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort and is easily attainable for managers. Leaders can effectively demonstrate empathy in two ways. First, they can consider how someone else thinks. An example of this is taking a different approach” “If I were in their position, what would I be thinking right now?”. They can also focus on a person’s feelings using emotional empathy as in looking at situations like this: “Being in their position would make me feel how?”. Leaders can use this approach and really make a difference when they express their concerns directly and actively listen to employees.

Compassion contributes to positive relationships, improves organizational cultures, and drives results.

Honesty, Consistency, and Perseverance

I am brutally honest, but you will always know where you stand with me. Good or bad it’s out there. While sometimes, people don’t like what they hear, it is the truth, and I believe authenticity, transparency, and honesty will go a long way.

Showing up and doing it on time and doing it repeatedly. I took every Spanish language course I could back in my high school days. I always wanted an A. The best I could do was a B+, but it was a consistent B+; never more, never less. No matter how many study sessions or extra help lessons, I went to B+, and that’s okay. I never gave up on those classes, and I continued to challenge myself, just like I do today. Keep on pushing.

Failure isn’t an option. The famous Thomas Edison story goes that he failed to perfect the light bulb so many times that it took him 10,000 attempts. However, rather than accepting failure 9,999 times, he is quoted as answering questions about his failures: ‘I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work.’. If you haven’t found your perfect one yet, you have to keep looking.

Hustle, that go-getter spirit, “a chip on your shoulder,” and Confidence

It cannot be overstated — there’s no replacement for believing in yourself and what you’re doing and then going to get it. No one is coming to save us. It is up to us. When we identify what we want and work to get it, we can achieve what seems impossible.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At ABBYY, I am responsible for leading the company’s process intelligence product marketing. Today’s intelligent automation technologies require understanding business operations to deliver better customer experiences and business insights. Process mining is a technique to analyze and track processes and how work is performed. Traditional business process management is done with process workshops and interviews, which results in an idealized picture of a process. Process mining aims to turn event data into insights and actions for transformation. It is an integral part of data science, fueled by the availability of event data and the desire to improve processes.

We recently released on new version of the ABBYY Timeline with an improved focus on how people perform tasks understanding within processes. Understanding the intersection of your people, processes, and data is the starting point for true business transformation. The ability to connect the dots between user task data, system logs, and business data empowers organizations to reduce process friction, improve customer service, and accelerate digital transformation. The future of work requires us to think about work in a more fluid way. We must reimagine how work gets done, across multiple people, machines, and interactions. Breaking work down into tasks is the most sustainable way to segue into a sustainable hybrid human and machine workforce. I am eager to see more companies save time and money with process mining and intelligent automation.

Okay super. 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.

Not investing in content

Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, Thought Leadership Marketing, Demand Generation Marketing, Media Marketing: these terms are all trying to articulate the same thing — create something people want and give it away in exchange for their contact information (aka a lead).

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.

While it might sound cliché, a perfect campaign blueprint depends on good data and tracking.

For me, a very successful campaign is agile in its approach and focuses on little strategies and small, unique experiences. It meets the modern buyer and audience where they are, i.e., desktop or mobile, audio, video, text, or other. It is always on so that the buyer can find what they are looking for, whatever language they are in, and in whatever time zone or time of day they are working in. It puts the customer front and center and looks to first educate and inform them before selling and closing. This is a shift from the old inbound marketing strategy to become a more informative and trustworthy partner in business, which is more in line with media marketing.

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?

It depends on what you are selling, whom you are selling to and what that audience looks like. If you’re a B2B business, LinkedIn’s ad network is going to be mighty valuable to you. If you’re selling software, sometimes great sites to spend ad budget on are sites like G2.com, Capterra.com, and others. This is because this is where your buyers are going to see customer reviews and evaluations on these sites. If you are B2C, Facebook’s Instagram ads would be your sweet spot — Their optimization algorithms allow small and big advertisers to scale campaigns to reach their targets profitably.

No matter what ad network you choose, investing the time to selectively target your buyer, identify intent, and provide value

Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?

  1. How to use the PPC platform of your choosing

It seems simple but every PPC platform has its own features, targets, and capabilities. You should identify which platform you want to use and try to grasp and understand the network’s best practices. This could be Facebook Ads which allow advertisers to place “sponsored” posts on the newsfeeds of users who identify with specific audience characteristics. It could be Twitter Ads which work similarly to Facebook Ads. Using Twitter’s PPC ad platform, advertisers can choose between eight different advertising objectives — including app installs, new followers, tweet engagements, and website traffic — as well as their target audience for the ads they run. Another and probably the most popular PPC ad network is Google Ads which allow you to pay for high-ranking real estate on Google’s various web properties — including search engine results pages (SERPs). Your campaign can take the form of a Display Ad, a Search Ad, an App Ad, or a Video Ad which places your video on YouTube. These PPC campaigns allow you to set your ad budget, customize your audience, and/or commit to groups of search terms on which you want your search result to appear. Less popular PPC networks include sites where apps and technology are reviewed like FinancesOnline.com, getapp.com, G2.com, and more.

2. Your budget

A PPC marketing novice thinks of their campaign in terms of “my competitors advertise here, so maybe I should try it, too.” They set strict budgets, or no budget at all. Too many times I’ve heard of people literally burning thousands of dollars on poorly placed, or improperly targeted ads. A successful PPC marketer knows exactly how much to spend on leads by calculating their typical close rate and revenue per customer. That information frees them from budget restrictions and makes it possible to maximize sales and set up a PPC campaign that pays for itself. If you are just starting, start small. Even the most experienced PPC marketers understand limiting budgets, daily spending, and targeting specific audiences or keywords. It may be tempting to go all-in, but you should avoid spending your entire budget on PPC campaigns that haven’t proven themselves or paid off financially yet.

3. Landing Pages

In the world of PPC, I find it incredibly frustrating that software companies invest significant time and energy in perfecting their bids only to link to less than desirable landing pages. Once you identify the perfect bid and see clicks, you need to get them across the finish line by converting those clicks into leads. You’ve lost a sale if a qualified buyer lands on your page only to bounce because they couldn’t relate to the message, find your product’s key features, or were put off by poorly placed or lousy stock photos. Optimizing landing pages is critical to successful PPC campaigns and should not be neglected. Do better.

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?

There is probably more than 3 things you need to know, but here are 3 really important things you need to know to run an email marketing campaign that increases sales.

  1. Segmentation

Segmentation is grouping similar users together and sending relevant content based on that criteria. By sending messages to targeted segments within your lists, your recipients will find your campaigns more relevant to them. Depending on the type of organization, B2B or B2C, you can segment your email recipients in different ways:

  • Demographics — for example, gender, age, geography, education
  • Job role, industry, or company type.
  • Purchase history.
  • Current or Potential Customer.
  • Stage in Sales Cycle.
  • Preferences or Interests.
  • Clicks, opens, or content formats.
  • Change in engagement or behavior, for example, if they didn’t complete a purchase (cart abandonment) or if they haven’t opened one of your newsletters in a few weeks (inactivity).

2. Personalization

When personalizing emails, you can get creative with email content, subject lines, and responsive design, creating unique experiences for recipients. For example:

  • Address the customer by their name.
  • Offer the customer a product recommendation.
  • Display products based on their viewing history.

3. Timing

It is essential to be strategic about your email’s timing and make sure it delivers the right message at the right time. There are some steps you can take to ensure this:

  • Use A/B testing to find the best send times for your audience.
  • Identify optimal days for your campaigns.
  • Take account of different time zones.

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?

The first would be marketing automation. I’ve used SharpSpring, 6sense, Marketo, HubSpot, Seismic and more. These tools are the unsung heroes of marketing departments. They help increase leads, conversions, and ultimately revenue. Marketing automation is proven to boost sales and productivity and streamline marketing professionals’ day-to-day workloads.

While not specifically a digital marketing tool, these are must-haves for people always on the go and looking to get things done more quickly, efficiently, and effectively. General automation tools, Alexa skills, iPhone shortcuts, and things like IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) and Zapier. Anything that helps remove simple, mundane, and repetitive tasks. Need to send a reply email with your calendar availability? Automate it with an app or a tool.

Thirdly, content management. Every marketing organization will have content and need a way to serve that content to customers, internal sales teams, channel teams, and so many more business areas. Finding one robust platform for creating, managing, collaborating on, and improving your content is critical to your success.

And while I don’t think this needs to be said, but heck… please get yourself on social media! This is opportunity everywhere, but you need to be out there and being seen in the digital world. I had a friend who refused to get on social media. That was until he became a real estate agent and realized it was critical to the success of his business. Don’t wait until it is too late. Get started today!

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?

  1. A Team.

I don’t care how independent or incredibly skilled you are. You will run out of steam and burn out if you try to go at it all alone. Successful teams encourage each other to share ideas, consider solutions and solve problems together.

2. Good Work Ethic.

If anyone tells you being a highly successful Digital Marketing is easy, they’re bluffing. Good work ethic is absolutely critical to growing and becoming a successful Digital Marketing. Anything worth achieving takes discipline and staying focused on the long-term goal. Oftentimes, marketing projects are solo initiatives. While there are support from your colleagues, much of your progress is dependent on your efforts and personal fortitude to push forward. There’s a lot of trial and error, and often people will quit before seeing quality results. It’s the people who keep pushing and trying even after experiencing failures that become successful. Maya Angelou said, “Nothing will work unless you do.”

3. An Analytical Mind.

I have often referred to this as the “Data Hero.” Today’s businesses are discovering new ways to collect and use data every day. The result of this is an increased need for employees with an analytical approach to management who can utilize data, understand statistical and quantitative models, and are able to make better data-driven business decisions. Marketing is data-driven and supported with numerous KPIs and targets.

4. Be Vulnerable.

I am never afraid to say I don’t know the answer to something. While I strive to know the marketing and technology industry, it is impossible to know everything. Admitting fault, failure, or not knowing the answer to something should be viewed as strong emotional intelligence. We should welcome the guts it takes to admit you don’t know something, especially when it’s paired with a willingness to learn.

5. Practice Continuous Learning.

Digital Marketing is constantly changing. Trends and practices from last year could be completely obsolete this year. Learning shouldn’t stop when school is done. There are plenty of digital skills training courses available both online and offline, some are even free! Don’t be afraid to invest in your career and to keep learning! As the Digital Marketing space continues to evolve, the best marketers will be life-long learners who are hungry to develop and invest in new digital marketing skills.

What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

There are numerous podcasts and too many books to list that I enjoy. I am almost exclusively reading nonfiction. There is one that stands out to me. For anyone looking to accelerate their career path, I’d recommend the book The Start-up of You. It was written by LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha to help you adapt to the future, invest in yourself, and transform your career. It is a blueprint for thriving in your job and building a career by applying the lessons of Silicon Valley’s most innovative entrepreneurs.

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. 🙂

Stop people from living for the weekend.

I hear all too often from friends, colleagues, and peers online — “TGIF!”

I’m blown away by people celebrating the end of the week like the weekend is some kind of trophy. Is the weekend some escape from reality? It’s not uncommon to find many people living for the weekend because they don’t love what they do. Living for the weekend is often a sign you are disconnected from what you love and what you want to do in life

If you live for the weekend, it should be a wake-up call. I’m not saying that the weekend is terrible, but when you think about the concept, if you are a person genuinely celebrating Friday, you need to reevaluate what you’re working for. You need to rethink your career and your life. Are you working for yourself, or are you working for that Friday night bar tab or something else entirely? If you genuinely dislike what you do so much that you beg for Friday, this has to stop. Maybe it’s time to break the pattern and do something different. Change. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. You deserve it!

Once you change, find something you love to do, and the rest will follow.

How can our readers further follow your work?

I post regularly on Medium: https://ryanraiker.medium.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ryan-raiker/

Twitter or Instagram: @ryraiker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ryan.raiker/

My website: https://ryanraiker.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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