The Get the Message Podcast
Oct. 3, 2022

Message Points: Attributions, Personalizations and Memes

Message Points: Attributions, Personalizations and Memes

We hear a lot about personalization in content marketing, but what does it mean to add "personalization" to anything? Is your attribution software lying to you or misleading you? If so, what can you do about it? We know that memes get engagement, but...

We hear a lot about personalization in content marketing, but what does it mean to add "personalization" to anything?

Is your attribution software lying to you or misleading you? If so, what can you do about it?

We know that memes get engagement, but can you use them in content marketing and get similar results? Can memes make a company look bad? 

As Google implements its helpful content updates, what should you be doing (and not doing) to take advantage of it and not get penalized? 

Today's insights answer these questions and more in this episode of Message Points.


Gali Soudak on what "personalization" can mean
Chris Walker on attribution vs. real people results
Todd Clouser on using memes in marketing
Jim Yu on Google Helpful Content dos and don'ts 


Hello and thanks for joining me for Message Points. This is the podcast that is released between the discussion shows, and it's here to provide you with additional insights, ideas and pointers on all things communication. So let's get started.


Gali Soudak, a B2B Digital Marketing Strategist on Linkedin wrote this post about something that we talk a lot about here - and that is personalizing content. She says "We talk quite a bit about personalizing content, but what does it mean? Typically we're talking about personalizing the message or tone and being sure to connect to that buyers previous experience with our products or services. But I think personalization happens even before we start creating content. Considering that B2B buyers are digital-first, rounding out our customer personas will help us create truly personalized content. For example, how do they use social media, which digital channels do they prefer and how do they prefer to communicate inmail? Message apps? Shat apps? Email? How many messages are too many,? What would you add?

And of course there's a lot of options there. But when we talk about personalization and thinking about people's user behavior or the customer behavior consumer behavior on social media...I thought about something I saw Rand Fishkin of Sparktoro share on Twitter the other day, and it talked about going a little deeper when considering your target audience on social media.

He said "'Our target customers are on Tiktok,' is very different from "Our target customers are seeking out content and communities relevant to our product on Tiktok.' When marketing is irrelevant to context, it's ignored." And that's a great way to really think about your audience's social media habits.

Next point...

Chris Walker CEO at Refine Labs shared a great results-oriented post about attribution software, and I wanted to share it here because it speaks to some of the things we talk about here when it comes to listening and the overreliance on software and algorithms,

He says, "What customers are telling us about their buying journey is completely different from what attribution software is reporting. You want to see this data? We added a field on our website, high-intent conversion - How did you hear about us?

This form is where almost all of our revenue comes through, and it's a required free text field..."

Now, before I go on, let me remind you that I shared an article not too long ago about some of the ways you can start trying to track dark social and one of the options was adding a field like this - to find out how people are learning about you,

Chris goes on, "We collected 89 qualified opportunities. We win these opportunities at 29% and 15 closed so far. Here's a sample of the responses we received and basically when you go through this list, you're gonna see the attribution software point to things like direct traffic and organic search. Meanwhile, the self-reported insights are showing website, network, podcast, and Linkedin."

He says, "Here are the top-level findings for you:

Attribution software and accurately overweighs search, paid and organic and direct traffic. Not because those channels drove the results, but because that's the path buyers take when they're ready to buy.

Attribution software reports, 92% of our revenue is sourced by search or direct traffic. Meanwhile, when we ask customers they say 100% of revenue and 97% of our qualified pipeline gets attributed to dark social, which is social media, podcast word of mouth and community.

Number two...podcast community, word-of-mouth are major pipeline and revenue drivers and never gets captured by software based attribution.

52% of our total qualified opportunities self-report discovering us in podcast 27%, community 18%, or word of mouth 7%.

Absolutely none of this is captured by software based attribution.

Number three...the impact of social media is dramatically under reported and not accurately represented by attribution software. Social media is a top contributor to qualified pipeline 45% and revenue at 31% as self reported by the customer.

But attribution software under reports the impact of these channels by more than 75%.

What buyers report versus what attribution software reports is different most of the time. Only 7% of sales qualified opportunities matched between what the customer reported and attribution software reported. Attribution software is telling you what captured the demand, and self reported by the customer is usually telling you what created the demand. You need, both of these measurement points to effectively drive the strategy. Imagine how much different your strategy would be if you had these insights.

Listening to customers is greater than dashboards and attribution reports. Marketing teams are following attribution software thinking they're data driven but they're actually being led astray. It's the attribution mirage."

I want more of this. I'm just gonna tell you I want more of this because thankfully Chris is sharing this information to marketers, and a lot of people follow him (as they should) because this is why talking and listening is so important. It's going to be a key driver to figuring out what people want from you, what they're looking for you. It's the only way that we can really thrive as marketers in this era. What Brafton calls the relationship era.

And if we're just sitting back thinking of software is gonna tell us everything we need to know - it's just not like that anymore. And one of the things that I talk about so often that you've heard me talk about here is that, you know, there might have been a time where that was okay. But we've had several years now of learning of what's happening on the internet, what's happening with consumer behavior, and we've got a lot of insights now that are telling us we can't rely on the easy stuff anymore.

Attribution software is just one example and like he said, think about what you're missing and how that can impact your business. If you can get some of those answers, it almost fits that phrase I use about too many companies going on The Price is Right with a chance to win $10,000, but they'll accept 500 and be happy you know?

Well the attribution software at least gives us something, but I think what you're seeing here is there's a lot out there you need to be learning and you're missing. If you're just relying on technology to just figure something out through an algorithm or a program to tell you something - it's not the whole story.

Speaking of Refine Labs,

Todd Clouser who's the Lead Brand Marketing Manager over there, shared a Linkedin post about using memes in your marketing strategy, and before I get to what I immediately thought of when I saw him share this, let me share what he says in the post.

He says, "Should memes be part of your content strategy? The way I look at it is memes have two purposes. Number one, they cast a wide net different types of content have different purposes. They can dive deep on a specific topic and provide a ton of value. Or they can cast a wide net and bring more people into your audience. Memes fall into the wide net category. They are easy to resonate with and unlike video, you don't have to worry about the audience watching the whole thing. That's why they get such great engagement.

Number two, they stop the scroll memes by themselves. Cast a wide net. But when you pair them with deep insights in the text portion of your post, they become even more powerful, stopping the scroll and getting attention to your content is the hardest part of the process. You may have some hot content, but not a great delivery method. Memes can be an easy way to attract more eyeballs to it. So should they be part of your content strategy? Sure do it, but have a strategy for what you're trying to accomplish with them. Are they simply a dopamine hit like some have said? No, memes can be very effective in helping you build an audience to deliver your insights to. Do they add any value or contribute to creating new business when used properly and paired with helpful content? Absolutely."

So a couple of things come to mind here. The first thing that came to mind was a few weeks ago when we talked about Mark Schaefer, his post about relevance and the guy who videoed himself going down the street drinking Ocean Spray, listening to Fleetwood Mac and how that went viral and just boosted Ocean Spray just about every level just by him doing that.

And the bigger question was, can you imagine somebody going into a marketing meeting and pitching that idea. There's so many reasons why the typical marketer would go, "Heck no, we can't do that, no one's gonna care about that. The guy is not part of our audience and you know, skateboarding and drinking doesn't tell anybody anything. And you know, it's probably dangerous and we don't want to be associated with that." And, you know, all kinds of reasons, or really the bigger thing is that's just too out of the box and just too fun. You know, we are a serious company and we need to be posting serious things.

But I think what's being said here is, you know, you can find amusing things that aren't embarrassing or going to get you in trouble, aren't ruining your brand, but they do stop scrolling. And if they fit really, that's the important thing.

When I worked in Public Radio. I remember that one of the things that stations were always trying to figure out was how can we offer thank you gifts or big thank you gifts without sounding gimmicky, you know, because they felt that hurt the brand and that obviously makes sense.

You know, we're a serious news station, we put out these, we put out this content, we're saying we're serving the community by providing this. We really can't be talking about the importance of giving and put all this weight into why they should feel good about doing it and then sound like that the real reason they're doing it is so they can win a trip,

So they were trying to figure out a way to balance the two. And I remember that when I went to a conference about all the different strategies people were considering, they gave this example because stations were starting to use trips, you know, as big gifts, usually as a drawing during fundraising drives and they're like, "Okay, well we have this trip to Australia, how can we go on the air and talk about the importance of all this without hurting our brand by sounding like, you know, a game show host talking about how you could get a trip to Australia?"

And one of the ways they did it was they tied it to a report, a news story, a previous news story done by NPR about the wilderness or the animals out in the outback in Australia and you know, gave the on air talent and opportunity to tie that in and go, "Imagine you could be there because so many of the stories had sounds and you really kind of felt like you were there even during the report." So it's like, you know, you want a chance to really experience that, just like you do on this station. It just, it provided a route without forcing a situation where all you had was gimmicky sounding copy and messaging.

Um, and that was something I worked with the Dallas station a lot. So I think the same thing goes for this type of thing, as long as it's not a total disconnect, and as long as you're not using a screen shot from something controversial, I think you can make this work and then just like the message on the Australia trip, you know, if you put good quality copy around that, as Todd is talking about here, it can really, really be effective.

And I love the point about how the meme, you don't have to wait for someone to finish watching the funny video or the engaging video, they're gonna stop because it's there. And then psychologically, I mean think about your own behavior, you're wondering, this is funny, what's the context behind this? You might actually stop and read what the context is, whereas if it was just the context, you may not, especially depending on what you have going on that day.

The other thing I think about two is how many sessions presentations I've been to about really important marketing things given by people who have strong brand reputations and they're using memes all the time in their presentations because it just makes it a little more engaging. And while you're learning something serious, you laugh a couple of times, it's just fun to make the connection between the meme and the point, which might even help you remember it.

Sometimes I've had discussions with brands before and companies before about similar things and that's usually the first thing that comes up. It's, "We're too serious. We need to be taken seriously. We can't be doing silly internet things like that because that's going to hurt the brand."

Who on the consumer side? Again, this is why you don't just think like a marketer. Who on the consumer side sees a meme on a social media post and goes, "Who do these people think they are? Gosh, there's supposed to be a serious brand and and they put this in there. So I'm never doing business with these people ever again."


Nobody thinks that if you're in an industry where everybody in your space, let's just think about your top two or three competitors are doing the same one dimensional corporate marketing type things on social and you start doing things like having conversation, sharing memes to get some attention....guess what your competition is gonna be doing if they see that working.

But it won't matter by that point because you would have started the whole thing. Clearly, I could talk about this for a lot longer, but that's not why you're listening. So let's move on.

Finally, Jim Yu wrote an article at the Content Marketing Institute about the Google Helpful Content Updates we've been talking about here and what he's done is he's giving you some dos and don'ts to help you adjust your content strategy based on what's happening.

He says, "Given the updates site wide impact any domain with a high amount of low quality content is at risk of seeing a decline in its search rankings." Let me read that to you again, "Given the updates site wide Impact any domain with a high amount of low quality content is at risk of seeing a decline in its search rankings."

To me how I apply that to some of the things that I talk to companies about this is when you need to make sure you're gonna write blogs, that you're not just doing the bare minimum - writing generic things that people are probably already writing about and have already probably seen from other people just to fill the blog roll.

You see this all the time. This is about not only people finding the content but spending time there and Google being able to recognize that while they're there they're getting plenty of value.

He says the update uses machine learning to determine whether a site's content is helpful and sites found lacking in this regard will be penalized accordingly. This update is yet another reminder that quality should always be a top priority for everyone looking to improve their search rankings.

So he says follow these five steps to ensure that your content attracts searchers and higher rankings.

Number one - conduct an audit look for areas on your site such as pages, articles and posts that have stale and unhelpful content.
Number two - monitor keywords and rankings. See what content is working and what content isn't in real time and over a long time span.
Number three -leverage data and insights -  understand where opportunities are and aligned with reader intent.
Number four-  target audiences relevant to your business with content that's relevant to their needs
And number five -  write better content keeping in mind humanity along with the need to display expertise, authoritative nous and trust worthiness.

So moving on to seven don'ts to ensure google see your content is helpful.

He says must do guidelines are often followed by don't guidelines. According to the new guidelines you should avoid
AI-generated technologies that automate creating content around keywords.
Number two -  targeting trending keywords outside of your site's core competencies.
Number three - repeating content from other websites or manufacturers descriptions.
Four - Over-optimizekeywords on pages,
Five  - Clickbait titles that do not align with what the page offers.
Number six - Pages that would require the user to go back and do another search to get more detail
Finally - Summarizing what other content says without adding value.

I tell you I love the insights we got on this episode because it really encapsulates in a very short span of time examples of so many things we talk about here when it comes to how we can't rely on old ideas from the Internet from 10 years ago. We can't rely solely on technology to do the work for us, we have to really define what it means to personalize communicate and listen, and we have to start figuring out how we can stand out, provide value in a space in a time where people really want that.

And that's one of the reasons why Google is doing this. They know that just like you and I know that the internet is just loaded with generic crap or maybe it's not always just crap, it's also just things are so repetitive, and if you're in a space where everybody's writing the same types of blogs and the only variation is this or that or somebody just saying why their product is better in the whole thing that just that just isn't going to lure anybody.

And a lot of times we should know this because when we're on the other side of it and we have something come across our social media feed or something we're searching for, we can make instant decisions based on things that we've already seen other places and, "Yeah, yeah, I've seen that before or yeah, it's just gonna be generic stuff at the end. They want me to buy something from them, just like the other company, it's not gonna be any different."

And I know one of the most challenging things if you're on a marketing team is sometimes being able to tell the people at the top of the changes your company why things need to change. And that's why I hope Get the Message and the insights you here on this podcast are going to be able to help you provide comprehensive reasoning, you know, research and advice from other thought leaders to help you fundamentally change what you're doing to better your business.

And one of the ways that you can do that is getting the links to all these, which I will have for you on the show notes for this episode at Scott Murray Online dot com. If you are finding value in this show or Get the Message, please tell others about it so they might be able to get some of the same value.

And that wraps up today's Message Points.