RubyApps Insights: 5 Must-Asks for Marketers

RubyApps Insights interviews Jaron Rubenstein, Founder and President; Scott Rubenstein, Partner and Director of Client Services; Alex Berman, Senior Project Team Lead; and Julie Barbarese, Project Team Lead; on the five questions marketers must ask.

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Episode Transcription

Alexander Kotler: Marketing today is all about choice. Which persona should we focus on? Which channel is most viable? Which technology can we deploy to engage our audience? With so many different ways to slice your proverbial bread, how you choose to do it, which spread to apply, how you serve it, and to whom can be overwhelming

Marketing isn't as easy as sliced bread, but it doesn't have to be difficult either. Today, we're joined by four experts from RubensteinTech, creators of RubyApps. They include Jaron Rubenstein-president and founder, Scott Rubenstein-partner and director of client services, Alex Berman-senior project team lead, and Julie Barbarese-project team lead. We're gonna discuss how marketing bread makers can become breadwinners by highlighting five must-ask questions and hopefully, we'll stay away from stale conversation.

So rise with us for this episode of RubyApps Insights.

Hello (pause) everyone.

Scott Rubenstein: Hey Alex.

Alexander Kotler: (laughs) Hey guys, hi! [crosstalk 00:01:28] Yeah!

Julie Barbarese: Hi Alex.

Alexander Kotler: So who's excited about today's conversation?

Julie Barbarese: I am.

Scott Rubenstein: Me too.

Alexander Kotler: Alright, that's some faux enthusiasm. Let's keep moving forward. In today's conversation, we're gonna try to help our bread makers become breadwinners by highlighting five marketing must-asks. So we're gonna start with the first one which we'll broadly refer to as 'content strategy'.

I will ask Jaron. What's so important about having a content strategy?

Jaron Rubenstein: As a tech-first organization, a lot of our work is delivering content to our audience. How that content gets managed, how that content gets produced, published, tracked, analyzed, all of that. Before you can produce, deliver, publish, track all of that, you need to have the content itself. And a lot of the efficacy of that content, if at the end of the day, a lot of the success of any content marketing effort comes down to having a solid content strategy, defining who your audience is, what content is most pertinent to that audience, and what they are looking for, what information they need to do their jobs, to make their jobs more effective, more easy. And how that ties into what your organization can provide them overall.

And so defining your content strategy, defining the audience for that content, and following through on that is the first step in having an effective content marketing effort.

Alexander Kotler: Is there any organization that's out there that you think does this particular ask well?

Jaron Rubenstein: I think whenever you think about content strategy and content marketing, everyone likes to look at the big consulting agencies, they like to look at McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, both have terrific content marketing strategies and content marketing efforts underway. You know everyone likes to point to elite business publications like Harvard Business Review, and what, you know, how that content can often tie back to the prac-, practitioners that are writing it to the authors of the articles and to the way that that content conveys and demonstrates expertise for the originators of that content, for the firm or for the professionals that are creating it.

Alexander Kotler: Julie I thought I saw you potentially nodding there in agreement. So does that resonate with you, it make sense?

Julie Barbarese: Yeah, I was thinking about other companies that do that very well. Spotify being one of them.Oftentimes you'll see these ads in the subway and the thing that they do, which I like and I think makes it even more sort of approachable is that they customize their ads so that they actually are talking to people. And oftentimes these billboards or postings that they will put up, would be targeted towards a person's playlist. So it would be, you know, I'm gonna look it up right now and just sort of read one out. So, one of their billboards said, "Skip dinner invites from the people who added these songs to their cooking playlists." And so, "Slippery", "All of Me", and "DNA". They put as their three examples, and they're just really funny and I think that they do a really good job of not only making themselves personable and approachable but also by really reaching a huge audience.

Scott Rubenstein: I mean content strategy for me, put just really simply, is how you communicate with the outside world. And how strong your content strategy is, I think, is reflected in how accurately you present yourself and portray yourself to the outside world. Knowing who your audience is, is important because it, it will affect what you're communicating depending on your organization and what your organizational goals are. And you know, your content strategy in addition to your general website strategy, in my mind, is all about goals. And setting goals and achieving goals.

‘Cause you want to assess your return on investment on your content strategy, on your website, and on your marketing endeavors in general.

Alexander Kotler: I wanna go back to what Julie said for a moment to segue into one of the next questions we want to address. You mention how Spotify took a personable approach and so the idea of personalization, understanding your target audience, and reaching them in a particular way that resonates with them. Alex, first of all, maybe you can help refine our understanding of it and give us a working model for how we can think about personalization.

Alex Berman: So personalization for a lot of companies is about taking a very broad holding of data. And then using user choices to make it so that the data that's presented to a user matches whatever their preferred, you know likes, dislikes are. That's really I think what personalization sort of boils down to, is you have a huge amount of content. How do we make it so that it's, it's, it's usable by an individual in such a way that doesn't require massive staff, as well.

I think a company that does that really well and sort of mixes all the different elements that we've talked about so far is Casper. So Casper sells mattresses, which is B-to-C. They also opened up a publishing arm, which is B-to-B. Because there are a lot of--and I found this out when I was buying a mattress--there are a lot of mattress blogs out there that use affiliate links to drive revenue, and so Casper saw that and thought, "We need to get into this space, we need to support this space because it will then establish a good relationship between the reviewers and us. And then it will also, through those blogs, help establish a dominant position for us, between, you know, Casper and the consumer." And they've been extremely successful with that and they made that choice to go through this publishing platform and then throw out a wide range of personalized content through these different blogs.

Alexander Kotler: Okay, so what I understand from you there would relate to the idea of integrating content strategy into how they're building their business. Can we get a little bit more, I don't know, pillow talk-y, if we can speak metaphorically about how I as a potential consumer would be able to feel this personalized content.

Alex Berman: So you, I mean you would do something as simple as like do a Google search and you'll find that different bloggers use different languages, they use different vernacular. And you would eventually find one that sort of fits with you, if we're gonna keep with the Casper model. And you find a, they speak about the things, like maybe you like a really soft mattress, or that's something that you're really focused on. And that's something where you could find a blogger who does that and they are likely supported by Casper.

Julie Barbarese: I also think it's about finding a message that is relatable. So it has to be personal but it also needs to be relatable to a larger audience and people can appreciate it in some way. And I think Casper does do a really good job of that where they'll say things like, we all know mattresses cost incredible amounts of money, and they basically have this message that says, it doesn't have to, we all have been there. And it's creating sort of like a dynamic of unity but also at the same time making it about a one particular individual and you feel as though the brand is listening to you.

And then from there, it's reiterating that message consistently, and often so that your content strategy overall is always aligning to that end goal that you had determined in the first place.

Alexander Kotler: Jaron, I know that you have a lot of experience in the B-to-B space so I wanna ask you, this is a great example about Casper. What about within the business-to-business market, how can we identify personalization, why is it important?

Jaron Rubenstein: It's interesting because B-to-C marketers usually have a much larger audience that they're talking to and so the more sophisticated amongst the B-to-C marketers are able to really drill into the analytics behind the performance of their campaigns and their sample size, the number of potential audience members is much, much larger. So most folks in the B-to-B space don't have that advantage. They are usually talking to very niche or very specific markets of a much smaller size. And so I think that there's a lot of ideas that we can take from the B-to-C folks and bring into B-to-B. You know, I think Alex you our director of marketing, have said in the past that people that work in businesses are still consumers, and so they're being taught through these B-to-C campaigns how to buy, how to react, how to in-, intake content and then how to react to that content and hopefully buy the products. And so I think that that's where we stand the most to gain from B-to-C marketing, is understanding what, what seems to be working for them (laughs) and then trying to adapt that to the B-to-B marketplace.

So personalizing content, trying to tailor your specific message to the audience member that you're looking for, the persona of the audience member you're looking for is so critical.

Scott Rubenstein: Yeah, and I think, I think I liken the user experience when it comes to personalization on a website to the buying experience when you're in a store, you know. So you can, like others have said, you know you want to personalize it so that the content was made for them and you can sort of compare it to the difference between going into a K-Mart, where everything is just there, versus going into a Nordstrom, where you have a personal shopper and everything's tailored to you. And when you're in the different experiences, you feel a lot more comfortable, and you're more likely to buy something in a Nordstrom when things are personalized for you, or, perhaps,  click or read something or purchase something on a website when you feel like things have been placed there just for you.

And it's really about adding value. And so Amazon does this particularly well in one facet of their personalization when they have the 'frequently purchased together' feature. So if you're buying a humidifier, you know maybe as you're, while you're on the page looking at a humidifier, there might be like, "Oh well, you might need a filter or an extension cord; these are frequently bought together, buy them all for $50!"

Alexander Kotler: Absolutely, our microphone here, I was suckered into getting one of these pop filters because it was like, well of course if I'm gonna buy this zoom microphone then I need to get this case and this stand, of course! [crosstalk 00:12:19] Thank you, by the way Jaron. (laughter)

Scott Rubenstein: And so, and so that's, that's an example of a positive effect of personalization. But you wanna make sure that you do it thoughtfully and intentionally, and provide value to the user because with Amazon on the flip side, they have a 'recommended products' or 'related products' where I'll buy the humidifier, then go back to the website and they'll recommend more humidifiers to me.

Personalization is about, you know, your preferences but also your demographics in terms of localization. So one example is of a website we've done for a, a major resort where if you came to the website from Mexico, we would automatically translate the site content in Spanish. So as a Spanish native speaker, I go to the website and I see that it's automatically in Spanish, I see that this has been sort of put for me, it's not an English sort of content. They know that I'm in Spanish country, they want to present to me in my, my native language.

Alexander Kotler: And that would probably increase your inclination to either make a purchase, to explore whether or not you want to make a reservation here with this particular resort.

Scott Rubenstein: That's right, it's about making the user or the customer feel special, and giving them comfort so that they're more readily able or, or willing to purchase or to do whatever you want them to do on the website.

Alexander Kotler: So you talked about comfort, there's a topic now that has been giving many people in the workforce discomfort. That being AI and are the robots going to take our jobs away? I'm gonna put this out there for everyone here. Let's talk about AI. It is important, it's a buzz word, but how can we contextualize its importance for our audience?

Alex Berman: So I think AI is a tool as opposed to something that replaces, in many cases. And specific to what we've been talking about, about, regarding personalization, AI and those sorts of technologies I think take it a step further to curation. Which I think is, is important to differentiate that from personalization and, and curation is the presentation of materials that are curated specifically for you as opposed to personalization where it may be a bit more broad, and I think Scott's example of buying on Amazon is a good example of, of personalization but not curation.

Alexander Kotler: I'd love to offer up an opportunity to share an example of how someone out there in the world or possibly one of the RubensteinTech clients is actually using, I think I've heard Jaron say a few times, intelligent artificial intelligence to create this, as you say Alex, curated experience.

Scott Rubenstein: Well so, artificial intelligence simply is computers obtaining data, parsing or analyzing that data, and then providing some sort of information or analysis or some sort of event. And so an example of that, which we've done at RubensteinTech, is for the Bryan Cave website in search. Bryan Cave is a law firm that has a lot of different content on their site, but a lot of different topics in which they hold expertise in. And so in order to surface up all this different content to a user in an easy, meaningful way, we really, enhance their search using all this different content and putting each of the content and breaking it down into words, putting each of those words into topic models.

And so you have different words are, are topics, and so there's a drone which is also you know, an aerial aircraft, which is also, you know, an unmanned aerial vehicle, and so taking all of these words and key words and phrases, putting them together in a topic model will allow a user searching for one of those things to effectively search for all of those things and then be presented with a just wealth of information for different things that they may not know that they've been looking for but that they actually were looking for, Or didn't intentionally or specifically look for.

And so that, at the end of the day, is providing value. So that's a website that can provide value to the customer, that added value before they even walk into your office and, and actually engage with someone at your-.

Alexander Kotler: Security's a hot topic. Today if you haven't been hacked, you're not cool. I wanna get deeper into what the notion of security is and how it's relevant for marketers, because typically you'd think security falls outside of my domain.

Scott Rubenstein: We've been in business for over 15 years, and throughout I think there's been an evolution of security on the web. We've worked with a lot of industries, a lot of different clients and so typically security was most prevalent with e-commerce, particularly purchasing things on the web. And so, having a secure certi-, certificate on your website or 'https' in your URL would ensure that the connection was secure. And so if I was buying something, giving you my credit card information, I knew it would be secure. But you know since 2014, Google has actually made 'https' a ranking signal in their search algorithm, so sites that have 'https' will now rank higher than sites that don't. And that's been more and more prevalent throughout the years since then.

Alexander Kotler: Julie, I'm gonna come over to you. Is there a site out there that you think is doing this well who is, which is particularly mindful of security?

Julie Barbarese: I actually feel as though I want to answer that with the anti-answer, which is that when I think of security now I think of all of the firms or large corporations that have sort of really screwed it up. (laughs) You're more likely now to get dinged for not being secure enough and it becomes sort of a larger audience conversation and I think that in terms of doing it well, I would have to think on it.

Alexander Kotler: Jaron, let me come to you. Let's talk a little bit about security; that's one of the most important things. It's relevant for a number of reasons, as Scott mentioned, to marketers. How do you know if you're doing it well, how do you know if you're doing it poorly?

Jaron Rubenstein: That's a great question. So there's a number of ways that you wanna implement security for your firm's digital marketing efforts. We have an offering called Ruby Shield, which provides a number of different technologies that ensure that your site is secure and that it is regularly scanned and audited to ensure, ensure that compliance with, with security standards. The world of technol-, of, of digital security, of internet security, of web security keeps evolving and there are a large number of attack vectors that get defined by various bodies in the, in the space as well as governmental agencies.

And so there are tools that you can use to scan your site, your digital marketing properties against those issues, and ensure that none of them are present in your, on your digital properties. And so the way that you can ensure security is to run those scans on a periodic basis, to keep them up-to-date because they continuously evolve. Every day, every week, something new comes out. You might remember earlier in the year Meltdown and Spectre were big things that made, like, the world news. But it's a continuous, continuously evolving field. And so you need to be using tools to do periodic scans of your properties to ensure compliance, ensure-- I shouldn't say compliance, but ensure that they are compliant with security best practices.

Alexander Kotler: Finally, our fifth category. The question that we have all been excited to talk about is around content management. So we've addressed the need to have a content strategy, how to tailor it to particular audiences and personalize it so that it resonates with those people that are viewing this content, whether in B-to-B or B-to-C. We've talked about how to surface it more quickly using technology like AI, and then of course, how to protect your content, how to protect the experience and the integrity of it with security methods. I know that RubensteinTech has developed RubyApps.

So what exactly is RubyApps?

Scott Rubenstein: It's about empowering users to easily and efficiently make updates and add content to a website, to an app, to a content portal or a content hub. Any which way that you would utilize content, and I always like to say if you can update your LinkedIn account, then you can update your website. Se built RubyApps in order to make sure that it's an easy to use, intuitive experience for both marketers and technologists alike.

From the marketer's standpoint, someone can go in, update a page, add a page to the website. And from a technology standpoint, you can integrate different data from different systems and do that in a really easy way using the RubyApp's API.

Alex Berman: And so I think the other thing, the other reality that we frequently deal with is the fact that most of these marketing teams are very small. I think for most of our clients, it's no more than like, five people. And five people managing websites that, you know, they can number in the tens of thousands for pages, and the advantage of having a CMS like RubyApps is that it allows you and allows those teams to efficiently manage, manage that content, update that content. We provide them with lots of different workflow management tools. And it also provides another benefit for most of these firms in that they tend to have lots and lots of other systems as well and I think frequently we find that if not initially at least over time, RubyApps tends to become the gold standard for these firms and they use it to propagate data out to the rest of their systems. And so again, as Scott said, if you can update your LinkedIn account, you can update Ruby Apps, and that's really the goal there. And yeah.

Julie Barbarese: I think that what is really useful for our clients is that we are always looking ahead and that there is that added degree of personalization. And we try and make it as easy for them to use and as Alex said they are very small teams and they have a very sort of large message to get across. And part of our jobs is helping to make that as seamless as possible and also as sort of widespread as possible.

Scott Rubenstein: We're constantly looking to amplify the efforts that these small teams can produce. Just about every marketing team and just about every organization we've worked with has a larger list of tasks and asks of their organizations than they have resources to provide. So wherever you can use technology to amplify their capabilities and make them more effective and more efficient, I think that's what excites our team and, and I think that's also what excites our clients in working with us. And so there's a, you know, a lot of our efforts around RubyApps has to do with creating a system that is easy to use, that makes marketers superstars, and that bridges that gap between marketing and technology because that's the biggest challenge right now for most marketers as they advance their digital marketing strategies.

Julie Barbarese: Any parting thoughts, anyone?

Jaron Rubenstein: Yeah, I need to get to Nordstrom; I've never been.

Scott Rubenstein: I've only heard other people say that--

Julie Barbarese: (laughs)

Scott Rubenstein: I actually had to read "The Nordstrom Way" when I was in college. Anyway. Jaron, Scott, Alex, Julie: thank you all for sharing your RubyApps Insights today. And tune in next time for more exciting insights from the team here at RubensteinTech.

Voiceover: RubyApps Insights is recorded at Studio 55 and is hosted by Alexander Kotler. For more insights and detail on RubyApps enterprise software developed by RubensteinTech, visit Until next time, have an awesome everyday.