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    Categories: Interviews With Experts and InfluencersInterviews WIth Leading Marketers

Ed Leake reflects upon the Future of Digital Marketing and the Importance of Building Exceptional Products

Ed Leake is one of the Top 100 Digital Marketing Influencers and an influential PPC Marketing Expert. He is currently the Founder and Managing Director of Midas Media, a UK based digital marketing agency. Along with all these, Ed Leake is also a part of the investor relations platform, VestDeck, where he is working as a Non-Executive Director. He is one of the most sought after marketers by small, medium, and large corporations.

If you want your business to generate leads and sales at a rapid, sustainable rate,  and have a scalable revenue stream, then Ed Leake is your go-to person. He is a treasure trove of strategies on how to utilize PPC, social, and other traffic driving mediums for scaling revenues. We recently got the chance to interview him.

And, honestly, the replies are an amazing read! Ed offers insight into what the future holds for Digital Marketing and talks about how products and the corresponding service, needs to be exceptionally good to ensure customer satisfaction. Give it a read. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Cloudways: Ed Leake, let’s start with a simple question. Tell us how you entered the Digital Marketing field?

Ed Leake: Somewhat by accident. I have always been into technology and “the internet”; I was building websites and writing content 20 years ago. However, I took a detour via the corporate world and came out the other side with a bad taste. That was the point when I decided to setup my own thing, and eventually, an agency.

Cloudways: You are an influencer in Marketing with years of experience under your belt. What do you think is the future of Digital Marketing, PPC, and SEO, considering the rapidly growing AI and VR industry.

Ed Leake: The ‘internet of things’ is still sprouting new shoots, but there will come a time when humans would be mere walking and talking databases.

Putting ethical and privacy concerns to one side, even today we are data hubs – gathering, storing and transferring information. This will only increase with time and with it ‘Big Data’ turns into mountainous data.

  • Google will dress you and drive you to work in the morning.
  • Work will be a VR world provided by Facebook, with sensory touch, smell, and sight. However, without the overheads and distractions of nice furniture and room to move, and of course, other people – Facebook can provide those too, but in an efficient virtual way, of course.
  • Out with the open plan office, in comes your connected pod experience instead. Now you merely think work. The AI and procedural learning systems provided by IBM and Microsoft will do the actual work for you.
  • You can also relax because, when you return home, Amazon has fully stocked your fridge and Uber Chef™ has cooked up a three-course meal.
  • Digital marketing, PPC, and SEO? They are long gone – we are in a world dominated by big corporations and the internet as we see it now, doesn’t exist.

Okay, so my example is extreme to prove a point. However, what concerns me is how the smaller business and marketing teams can work and deal with this future. I fear that the giants in our midst will take control and hone the complex technology to a point where everyone else is lagging or redundant.

Cloudways: B2B marketing is difficult to undertake, especially in PPC. LinkedIn, one of the major social mediums for B2B, has quite a lot of average advertising content. What are your views about LinkedIn advertising? Which medium(s) do you think are the most economical for B2B companies?

Ed Leake: LinkedIn is like Facebook when it comes to advertising. It is a demand generation platform. Unfortunately, people still don’t treat it as such and go straight for the jugular – buy my stuff!

The value from paid social comes from utilizing your advisory and objective content to help your target market build a buying mindset, biased to your offering.

Content enables you to take cold traffic (strangers) and warm them up gently. It allows you to build segments based on their level of engagement and nurture them down a path at a speed that suits both sides of the arrangement.

PPC and SEO are all about satisfying demand. Paid social is for generating demand.

Cloudways: Startup companies operate on a tight budget. What would you recommend to startup companies looking to utilize the PPC channels?

Ed Leake: The problem with tight budgets is that they restrict testing. The lucky few win on the first hit. Therefore, to stack the odds in your favor, a little due diligence is required:

  • If you have multiple offerings, pick your best seller and focus on that.
  • Build target personas, even if they are your best guess – speaking to someone specific is better than trying to attract anyone who will listen.
  • Testing is a necessary evil, so stack the odds in your favor by keeping things tight. Test one message, to one audience and give them one reason to take action.
  • Before piling money into paid search, think about the end goal. Do you want a purchase, an email or a call?
  • If you want a call, try geographically targeted ‘click to call’ ads on Google.
  • If you want an email/sign-up, build a landing page dedicated to the message and stop sending people to your homepage!
  • If you are selling products, remove >90% of them from your ad campaigns and focus on your best sellers only.
  • Get traction, even if it is break-even, before scaling up spend!

Cloudways: You are one of the top 100 marketing influencers. What advice would you give to young fellows who are trying to make a mark in the field of online marketing?

Ed Leake: Don’t worry about ego numbers like followers or likes. They represent a very thin veil, often with little substance. I am not suggesting you do not pursue social media, what I am saying is – don’t let it consume your every waking hour.

You might aspire to be a ‘growth hacker’ or T-shaped marketer, but you need to get really good at one thing. Obviously, you need to ensure you enjoy that one thing, too.

When you become a genuine expert, with experience and hands-on know-how, you are able to write, talk and promote the subject matter confidently. It takes time but with some effort you will attract the right kind of attention and build your audience who value what you do.

Technology is an enabler. Setting up a blog on WordPress could not be simpler. The barrier to entry is very low and if I were starting afresh, looking to carve out my place in the market – I would start with a blog and content I enjoy producing.

Cloudways: Let’s talk about Midas Media. How did you come across the idea of the agency? Kindly share a brief history of the agency.

Ed Leake: Little chance, a lot of graft and a big desire to create something great. It all started, as it so often does, from my spare bedroom, with no money.

I have never had any debt or investment. The business has been built on blood, sweat, and a few tears along the way.

I got to a point where I was turning over a few hundred thousand from my spare room, running a dozen freelancers and contractors, and realizing that I simply didn’t have time to continue doing it that way.

Soon after came an office and permanent staff, slowly weaning us off contractor help.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Cloudways: You manage some clients on a daily basis. You develop websites, handle social media ads, and are drinking espressos. How do you decide upon the hosting provider for your clients? What factors, according to you, are most important when deciding a managed hosting provider like Cloudways?

Ed Leake: For me, it is all about performance, performance, and performance. We do not do cheap; we want to know that any service we buy just works.

I know a lot of hosting providers rave about their support function, but surely if everything was performing as it should be, support should be the last of my worries? That is a little glimpse into my contrarian view of the world!

Cloudways: Every agency needs to have the perfect set of tools to carry operations smoothly. What tools do you use to run your agency operations? What are your top 3 recommended tools?

Ed Leake: I am going to sound a bit boring now, but from a purely operational perspective:

  • ActiveCollab project software, so things are kept on track and reported – complete transparency.
  • Slack because it allows quick internal communications and sharing, but that comes with the downside of people being ‘always’ accessible and therefore potentially interrupted.
  • Moreover, finally, my raft of spreadsheets! I love calculating data and crunching numbers.

Cloudways: Everyone is scared of failures. What do you consider to be your biggest failure? How did you overcome such a failure? What tips would you give to overcome setbacks?

Ed Leake: Cards on the table here – I think my biggest failure in business is my hiring record.

Hiring and firing people is particularly difficult, often you are forced to hire quickly when you know you should be taking it slow. Even when you are taking it slow there are many pitfalls – did you ask the right questions, did you get honest answers, will they fit the culture, will clients like them and so on.

I can create things; I can market them, and I can sell them confidently, but hiring… yeah, that is hard.

There are no excuses either if you look a candidate in the eye and tell them they’re hired – then from this point forward, if it goes wrong, it is all your fault!

Regrettably, that happens a few times over the years and each time I feel like I have failed.

What I have learned is that I need a more robust hiring process and to take even longer than I expect normal, to find that ideal person to join us.

Cloudways: Customer advocacy is hard to achieve. This is when your consumers become marketers and recommend your brand to their network. This is a win-win for both sides. How hard is it to convert customers into brand evangelists? What are the roadblocks that a brand comes across?

Ed Leake: Looking at the two key categories, they vary in difficulty.

Product – making an amazing product is not easy, but thankfully a good product can win if your customer experience and service are exceptional. Social media can pave the way in this regard. From a brand message position, not pure sales – where the attitude is about informing, entertaining and enlightening – being key to success.

Service – delivering a high caliber service, day in, day out is hard enough (I should know). However, what separates advocacy is those service providers who make their customers aware of efforts and the star of the show. Communication and understanding are 80% of the relationship, where a company doing an ‘average’ job can get away with it because they communicate very well.

On the flipside, doing an awesome job but with average or sub-par communication is not going to be as effective.

Ultimately and where reasonably possible, always over-deliver.

Cloudways: Let’s step aside from work. What do you do in your free time? What are your favorite activities to refresh your mind?

Ed Leake: I am a racing driver! Well, I hold a racing license but rarely get time to pursue my hobby. I do however enjoy Motorsport as a viewer, and again, time permitting, I like running and cycling.

I also read a lot and enjoy audio-books too, for when my eyes need a break. I have notepads scattered around the house for ideation as and when it comes to me, often off the back of reading.

However, otherwise I am my worst enemy, I do not take time off and aside from Christmas day I work every single day of the year.

The price of success? Maybe.

Cloudways: Whom do you consider your best buddies to hang out with within the digital marketing niche?

Ed Leake: Get your violins ready because I do not have one specific online buddy! Offers on a postcard, maybe?

Cloudways: Networking is important for success. Do you attend marketing events? Which marketing events do you look forward to the most?

Ed Leake: I have never networked.

I know, odd isn’t it? I have also never attended any marketing conferences to date because my mindset is that my business needs my time more!

It does not seem to have hindered me up ‘til now, but I do have it on my list for next year, get over to the United States for a conference and perhaps one or two at home in the UK.

Cloudways: Finally, just for our readers, could you please send us an image of what your desk or work-space look like!

Ed Leake: Oh dear, well my office is a dump because I’ve in-between filming – but here it is!

Umair Qureshi: Umair Qureshi works as Assistant Digital Marketing Manager for Cloudways- A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform. He loves combining creativity with skills and marketing with technology.