Interview: Douglas Karr of DK New Media
Welcome to our series of interviews with local (and sometimes national) leaders in the social media and technology industry that will be featured on the Tourism Tech Corner. Today’s interview is with Douglas Karr of DK New Media, an Indianapolis-based, globally-focused new media agency.DKNewMedia.com MarketingTechBlog.com @DKNewMedia @DouglasKarr @MktgTechBlog
Douglas Karr – DK New Media
Author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, Chief Blogger/Founder of the Marketing Technology Blog and CEO of DK New Media. Douglas and his team specialize in performing due diligence analysis of marketing technology companies for venture capital and investment firms. DK New Media also consults on an ongoing basis with large companies who wish to leverage online strategies to build inbound marketing efforts using search and social media.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and DK New Media?
I’m Douglas Karr, author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, and I helped start up Compendium (Indianapolis-based corporate blogging company). I’ve been blogging for a long time on the Marketing Technology Blog – I think I’ve been blogging for about six years now – and have a tremendous following on the blog. We get around 40,000 unique visitors a month on the blog and it’s a very centered demographic. The core of the visitors are CMOs and directors of marketing.
DK New Media is the agency that I built up. I had done email work at ExactTarget and blogging work at Compendium and started doing a lot with SEO and pay-per-click and all of these other vehicles and what we saw was there was a gap in the industry as far as people who understood how to put all the pieces together and conduct what Forrester calls an omni-channel approach to marketing. DK New Media does a lot of “outsourced CMO” work, where we’ll be your CMO-for-hire for companies that may not have many resources. For other companies like ChaCha, we’re a trusted advisor and for folks like Webtrends it’s a hybrid where we do a lot of the work, but they also have some incredible internal marketing minds.
Our job is basically to prove ROI to our clients. So what we do, more than anything else, is inbound marketing – setting up analytics properly, getting a wholesale approach and adding a piece at a time – and then always showing clients their return on investment and how to measure it. I think that’s a differentiator in the industry because a lot of people, social media consultants especially, don’t actually go for the ROI for their clients.
Most companies now realize they need to use social media – what do you feel is the most effective medium for reaching consumers?
That’s a good question. We tend to stray away from that question and instead find out where the audience is. For some of our clients, the audience is on Facebook, so that’s where we want to meet them. But there are advantages and disadvantages to that platform. Maybe your audience is there, but are they really ready to buy? Are they really ready to engage with your business?
I think we tend to back up and go a different route and actually test the mediums. We’ll test Twitter, test LinkedIn, test Facebook, test blogging, test all these things and start to measure the reaction. Over time, we can then hone in and say “We’re getting more out of this, so let’s start investing more here”.
B2B clients sometimes gravitate toward LinkedIn, our smaller businesses tend to do really well on Twitter, large businesses that have a large following sometimes can get traction in Facebook, so it all depends on the company.
How important are blogs to a company’s digital strategy?
Well, you know blogging is dead! We hear that all the time. I think there are people from outside the industry that think blogging is dead because they can’t even recognize what a blog is anymore. A typical website that has a blog just looks like a standard website now.
Blogging is the engine to the car. Blogging is doing for marketing what the production line did for Henry Ford.
Now, we’re able to put out content easily and as often as we want, and represent it well in social, in search, maybe integrate it on other platforms or even syndicate it out via other mediums, even in email, and do it really effectively and with minimal effort.
I tend to look at blogging, when clients are culturally able to blog – when they have the resources, when they have the time and the patience – as a real centerpiece to their strategy where, for example, people are coming from Twitter, to the blog, to a call to action, to a landing page and then converting. It ends up being that blog – the unique post that’s relevant to the right person at the right time – that ends up drawing them in, so it’s a centerpiece for DK New Media. The Marketing Tech Blog is the center of the universe for everything we’re doing.
What are some things that you wish organizations knew about social media metrics?
I’ve always thought about social media as an amplifier. When you look at what PR accomplishes – and I’m a proponent of having a PR strategy, we have one for ourselves – PR amplifies the message. You do something special and PR helps you get the word out. With social media, that’s exactly what I see too. Companies that have a great foundation and have information that people what to know about, when they use social media, it just amplifies their message and gets it into the right hands. I think a lot of people are thinking that there’s social media, then there’s email then there’s something else – all these silos.
Social media isn’t something where you just hire an intern to retweet for you, social media is something that has to be integrated into everything you’re doing.
When we put out a press release for one of our clients, we have an integrated social media campaign to measure results. When we do email, we’re promoting social media in our email and we’re also promoting our email on social media. It’s a cog in a whole machine and too many people think of it as an isolated piece – I’m just going to blast out through social media and not monitor, not react, not measure – and they look at it and think it was a big waste of time and they’re not getting any results…of course you’re not getting any results.
What do you see as new on the horizon for social and digital media? Is it location based networks, which was the big thing last year, is it QR codes, which are becoming bigger now, or is it something else entirely?
I’ve got a unique view on QR codes because I think we’re already getting to the point of logo recognition for smartphones. Look at [AR app] Layar, where you can look through your phone’s lens and the app can identify landmarks and provide data on that, so I think QR codes are kind of a short-lived thing. I think you’ll eventually just be able to point at a logo on someone’s shirt and be able to find out all the information, website and anything you want instead of having to scan a QR code.
Geolocation of course is huge. My hope as a sophisticated marketer is that we stop just looking for eyeballs. With one of our clients, we actually dropped traffic to their site, but they’re getting greater conversions. It’s because they were getting a lot of bad visitors. The analytics field is finally catching up and they’re getting to the point where they’re able to look at what’s going on off-site that’s leading to onsite conversions and leading to actual business.
So, to me, the next big thing is finally the ability for marketers to not have to code and do all this technical stuff. We’re finally going to have true plug and play systems that work well at communicating with one another. Facebook has opened their back door with WebTrends to get analytics into their platform. Bit.ly has mobile SDKs so whether you’re on an iPhone app or visiting the Facebook page, they’re going to be able to show what your interaction is and target and present different material.
To me, all of the silos we have right now – that’s the problem in the industry. As a marketer, you know you have to make a decision about where you’re going to spend your time every day and we keep adding things to marketer’s plates: mobile apps, twitter, QR codes, etc. It’s unmanageable and finally we’re getting to a point where we have app platforms where you can (for example) build your own polling app for Facebook – you don’t have to code anything, you just drag and drop, build it and publish it. We’re finally getting the tools to allow us to not have to hire third party developers and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re getting the technology that allows us to bridge the gap. The goal is that we’re not fighting for social dollars or SEO dollars or email dollars; it’s that we can now finally invest in a package that does dozens of things for me, does it well, measures the results and gives me what I need. That’s the exciting thing that I see on the horizon.
That’s really interesting – I think you’re the first person I’ve talked to who has said that the democratization of code is the next big thing. There are more and more applications that enable you to create what you need without having to know HTML, CSS, PHP and other programming languages.
Yeah and we need to be there. We’re moving so fast now. I was talking to a company who hired 45 developers to develop their mobile app platform and within a year they backed it down to five people and the mobile app wasn’t even used very much. Everyone said “We need a mobile app”, you know, the CEO got an iPhone, so they made this massive investment and it was all for naught. The exciting thing to me is that we can go out and buy a platform license for five or ten thousand dollars and we get all these pieces. That, to me, is the next wave and that’s where we see companies like ExactTarget churning and burning. They have CoTweet and email, now they’re working on their Interactive Marketing Hub and enabling one place to monitor everything.
Making it easier for the marketer to do their job…
Right. I think we (as marketers) tend to work in our area of expertise. If you’ve been doing email for ten years and you need more prospects, you’ll tend to send more emails. We now finally have these tools where we have the options of what we want to do and you can test to see what performs better. I think it’s the next wave for us.
Any final thoughts? How should readers get in touch with you?
Well, of course, DKNewMedia.com and the Marketing Tech Blog. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, we’re giving away a ton of stuff, including a new iPad 2. The Marketing Tech Blog has really evolved. We’ve got videos, a radio show (every Friday at 3:00), the newsletter is unique content that goes out weekly and if you’re a marketer and have a great story you want to get out, pitch it and we’ll put it up there on the Marketing Tech Blog. We have about 60 bloggers on there now. I still do the majority of the blogging on the site, but it’s becoming quite a centerpiece for marketers to get inspiration and assistance.
Douglas Karr, is the author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, Chief Blogger/Founder of the Marketing Technology Blog and CEO of DK New Media. Douglas and his team specialize in performing due diligence analysis of marketing technology companies for venture capital and investment firms. DK New Media also consults on an ongoing basis with large companies who wish to leverage online strategies to build inbound marketing efforts using search and social media.. You can follow DK New Media on Twitter (@DKNewMedia).