Welcome back everyone to the e-commerce marketing podcast. I am your host Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest Laura Laura is an experienced CEO marketer and strategist with proven ability to develop and Market award-winning products built. Create profitable business models scale businesses as well as profitably exit over 25 years of experience leading the design development launch and continued commercial growth of high-profile successful global technology products and services public spokesperson and recognized industry thought leader frequently sought out by the media in the cloud mobile security collaboration and internet services area.

Deep functional leadership in global sales marketing product development and delivery and business Partnerships strong leader strong ability to partner with technologists and build teams to accelerate results in capture market value. She’s a passionate multi-lingual internationalist with expertise in building Global business.

Welcome to the podcast Laura that is quite an impressive by going. It’s going. Well, you’re very kind. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Yeah, not a problem. So, you know before we get started, why don’t you you’ve got quite a bit of an experience in your field? Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background how you got to where you are right now a little bit of what we are doing day today.

Sure. I’d be happy to so I left after I graduated from school. I headed west to Silicon Valley and I’ve been here working in the technology world. 88 I spent the first half of my career working on Enterprise software products and then I switched to the consumer field. So I led development of the Netscape browser.

I also was then general manager of Yahoo mail and led that product to growth then. I was working in the consumer internet security. So the Zone alarm firewall and then I went into the startup world and I was. Sugar sinking catchin one of the common threads really in the last 15 years 20 years is I love working on and user productivity and communication oriented software and so obviously male and that’s Cape browsers productivity sugar saying, you know file sync and share about collaboration the content side of collaboration and now mobilize is really very much focused on collaboration.

Building Community helping people come together and it’s you know communication platform design for that. And so it’s been really exciting getting to work directly in this on the type of product that I’m so passionate about gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah. That’s that’s awesome. Yeah. It’s I’ve talked to a number of different guest on the podcast.

You know some of the background where they are coming from Silicon Valley got a lot of experience working with the diverse group of businesses and various verticals. And they’re at the point now where they’re you know, looking to leverage that experience in their own startups. And so that seems to be kind of a common Trend, um amongst people that are kind of I guess in a similar space that you’re in, you know, just kind of looking for the next life.

I guess you could say. Leveraging all of that experience and skills that you have and so that’s that’s awesome. Now, you know today’s topic of course that we’re going to be talking about which I know you’re very knowledgeable about is you know, how connected is your Brand’s community and really why it’s important and I know you’re dealing with this day-to-day through your your business now with mobilized and so one of the things that a lot of our audience and guests alike are always want to know.

Is you know these days really? What are some of the best ways that a small start-up e-commerce business can grow their Community, you know, especially those businesses that are just starting off. They maybe have a small mailing list of friends and colleagues, but that may be about it. Where did they begin because we always are hearing about you know, you gotta grow your community grow your community build your audience, but what are some ways they can do that sure, and I think it’s so important because.

You mentioned a mailing list and of course it’s you know, you’ll want to occasionally email your prospects of your customers, but people are getting very tired of too many emails and things being pushed at them and being called, you know, just being called on the phone. And so how do you draw them to you?

How do you sort of bring them into the fold without being intrusive and I think Community is is a great way to do that. We all desire Community. We all want to have a sense of belonging. And that can happen even around products people will feel affinity mean even from the earliest days of Apple user groups in the 80s.

They were using people feeling a sense of community with their local user group as a way to build Affinity with the brand. Okay. So that’s the goal then your question is how do we do it? Like it’s easier said than done right? So I have a couple of suggestions. First of all, you know, you have a.

List of prospects and customers, you know invite them to a community. So rather than inviting them to buy something or inviting them to refer you or spend money invite them to a community and then of course you want that Community to be a place where they can see values so content is very very important.

So, you know, the leader should see the community with with great content, so. For instance. Maybe you have some type of tool that your company sells software tool could even be a physical tool. So your community could be seated with content about how to use it examples of people who have used it successfully examples of how it has helped that person grow their business or be more productive in their life.

Content is King as they say um, and if people come to the community and see good content, they’ll want to come back thought leaders. Can you have thought leaders in the field be part of your community and people want to join with those? Thought leaders to that that can be a good way and oftentimes those thought leaders can refer either to the community and then that of course keeps the content ball rolling.

Right? One. Other thing I want to talk about is sort of the logistics of how do you set up your community? So making it easy to join? So for instance with mobilize you can have a link on your website to a form many of our customers are doing this where people can join their Community from their website.

If they’re enjoying the community, it’s very easy to refer others to the community because it’s you know, there’s a simple link and by the way with mobilized you can have a be open you can have be closed. You can have a be open where you approve members. So, you know, obviously every business has a slightly different use case and the way they want to set up their permissions but so structure is important and then I’d say the third thing to to keep in mind you have the the content sort of the infrastructure to.

It really easy is what’s the experience like when people come so moderation is important, right? We’ve all been on a thread in Facebook, you know, especially lately with the difficult political environment where people don’t feel safe. They don’t feel comfortable. So, you know, it’s very important to have the moderator make sure that the community feels safe and open and comfortable for members.

Yeah. That’s that’s very important and I think. A lot of what you mentioned is could be some of the reasons why some business is kind of shy away from it because you know, it’s good to keep create a community. But you know, it does take a little bit of effort to maintain and manage it. You can’t just kind of start a community and expect people to just instantly engage you do have to kind of foster conversation or dialogue whether that’s through content that you have whether that’s through a like you said open type of.

Portal where you’re giving them access to specific areas. Maybe these are for just for your customers or maybe these are for for everyone. And so, you know, there’s a little bit involved in you know, of course moderating it is key there too. Because you know, you want to make sure it stays focused and you want like you said for people to feel safe.

One of the things that you mentioned early on is that providing not only content which is King but giving your community access to to thought leaders in. And because you know these days people that are let’s say in your particular community and your Niche whatever that is. They want, you know, they want to learn they want to know what the bottom line is.

They want to know what to do. You know, let’s say you’re on the retail side. Let’s say you’re in retail fashion women’s fashion and you’re in that business and you know, you have a community where you know, maybe you sell to other businesses, you know, those are. Businesses want to know, you know, they want to know what to do.

And so if you have thought leaders that are contributing to your site, it can be done a number of ways and this is what we’ve been doing a lot more of these days you can encourage leaders to do a guest blog post. A lot of times these various thought leaders are bloggers are influencers are looking for channels and vehicles to get their names out there and it’s to get the word out there and even to grow their content and build links back to.

Site, so that’s that’s one way to do it. So I think it’s very important and a lot of people don’t realize that it’s even though it takes a little bit of Outreach on your end. It’s definitely I think well worth it to to help grow your community. So you’re not the only one contributing to the content where you have other experts that are kind of putting their voice in their right and then I think experts are really important, but then I think some of the users hearing it in their own voice, you know not.

Really edited so almost like a case study but in a very authentic way where someone says, you know, I’ve used this product. I’ve used this technology. Here’s my experience. Here’s how it’s worked for me. Here’s how it’s helped me and then you know, you can pin those posts to make them make them visible.

Right? Right. Those are kind of like almost. Case studies I guess if you will or even testimonials where yeah, those definitely will resonate, you know, what with your audience as opposed to just the experts that you know, people could see as you know kind of preaching down from a quiet but the wire but rather people that are more at their level so yeah.

Yeah we make sense and I think those two sides of it are very complementary right the expert and the. Person in the Street Experience. Yes. Yes, definitely and you know at the same time it kind of brings me to my next question is when you’re growing these communities what we see here at Omni star when we’re trying to grow our community with our blogs and such we always want to make sure that you know, we’re not coming off as just you know, fails or anything like that where we truly want to provide value to our customers.

And so. Like what’s really the best way to facilitate a two-way communication, you know between you know, you and your your audience. So I think people can really see through a pitch. That isn’t genuinely that is salesy that is being painted as not right. I think it’s really about being authentic and and then it’s okay to sometimes sell but.

People to be like, oh, okay. I’ve been enjoying this community. I’ve gotten to know people I’ve learned a lot and okay. Here’s a special offer for the holidays. It is what it is. I wanted or I don’t want it. But I think when people try to put an offer or something that’s too salesy with like this community rapper.

That’s almost the worst. Right because people are very sensitive to that. Yeah, that’s definitely true. Yes, and it’s okay to. Sometime self just you know, people know that it’s a business and people are trying to make their businesses, but you want them to be able to trust when it’s when it’s a true Community posted it is how it’s being presented.

Right, right. That’s really the bottom line is just trusting getting them to trust trust you and not just thinking that you’re going to be selling them every time, you know, you put something out now when a business small business is thinking of creating a community. What do you think are some of the best platforms or technologies that Lynn well to organically growing a connected community.

Sure, so there’s really two kinds of tools that we see and they each have or there’s gonna be more than two. But the two that I’ll talk about they have pros and cons. So of course everyone is familiar with Facebook, right? Right, probably any of your any members of your audience, they have a Facebook page and you know, they want to get people to like it and share it and the great thing about Facebook.

Is that sort of viral reach where? Followers can concerto others so you want to take advantage of that ability with Facebook, but the problem with Facebook is that you as the business don’t own the database right? Right and don’t have control over the feed. So for instance, let’s say you have a really important post and you put it out there to your Facebook followers.

You don’t know if they’re going to see it. Right? Maybe they’re not going to see it because their their feet is filled with you know, their friends holiday parties or you know, the latest about the election. So now in a community for instance that that you can host in the platform like mobilize, of course, you won’t have any of those distractions people when they’re in the community, they’re focused on your community, but you don’t have that Viral reach so.

We encourage. Our customers is to Leverage The Best of Both platforms use Facebook or other viral mechanisms to invite other people and then within that flow, you can invite them with a simple link to join and register to the mobilize Community or if you’re hosting a community on another platform, you know invite them there and then of course once their members there, you know, you know who they are and you can Market to them in a much more manageable.

So I don’t see it as either or I think it’s using both types of platforms is really the you know, like The Best of Both Worlds gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, that’s definitely definitely make sense. I mean one of the things that you mentioned is far as Facebook is concerned. Is yeah definitely rang true to me because you know, of course you can kind of try to grow an audience through, you know, your Facebook followers and you can put out content to them.

But you know, like you said all of that can get lost in the mix of you know, cat photos funny videos the latest politics and you know, everything else that’s across someone’s the so they can get lost. I mean, we’ve I’ve encouraged others that I’ve advised before. To think about even starting a Facebook group which which is also another way to do it.

You can create their very popular these days you create a private Facebook group for your audience members to be able to communicate and facilitate dialogue back and forth. But you still kind of do when the same issue where if somebody is subscribed to the group. You know any pole star gonna get still could still possibly get lost in there, right?

Because that’s that’s exactly what I was going to say. So it’s it’s a step closer. Yeah or step stronger than just having them be followers, but you the group leader still, you know don’t have control. They’re not in your CRM one comment. I want you to make I maybe didn’t say it emphasize it as I wanted to before is.

When you’re using Facebook to encourage people to sign up to your community what’s cool is you’re inviting them to a community. You’re not inviting them to your mailing list. You’re not inviting them for you know, like they’re not going to. It has a different feeling than just sign up its join a community come into this place where you’re going to get information.

That’s interesting and appropriate to you over you can connect with your peers where you can learn so I think it’s a much more attractive offer right proposition for your members or free or followers. Gotcha. Yeah. It’s definitely a definitely makes sense now. As far as you know communication goes when you’ve got the community I know with you you guys immobilize is a variety of different tools.

I know you had mentioned you guys use some next-gen messaging tools. What are some of the Technologies and things that you use or think that you guys could. You could recommend a small business to use sure. So I mean I mobilizes built on, you know, essentially the the most modern technology platform in terms of how we do our messaging to make sure that we you know, they’re delivered and it’s a good experience for our members.

We have a mix both emails and messaging and what’s cool is that people can choose how they want to be communicated with. If they love apps and want to see everything in an app they can use our mobile app, which is I’m not objective but it’s gorgeous and really really easy to use. Okay, um or there any ml person and they don’t want to download a new app, they want to get the emails or you know, they they want to see it on the web.

And so I I really believe that you want to meet your customers or prospects where they are and where. They went to work and how they want to work. And also what we find is that often changes right at the beginning might be like, maybe I’m interested. I’ll check it out. I’m not downloading yet. I’m not sucking up yet, but you can email me.

There’s this expert in my field who had an interesting post. I I think I want to actually, you know, be more connected. I’m gonna go to the next step. There’s really cool members here. I want to be on this platform so I can see who else. Here maybe see who else is in my neighborhood or subfield. So it’s it’s a bit of a journey and it’s important to have a platform that has that flexibility.

Yeah. Yeah, definitely and I think a lot of it has to do with your audience is, you know, the demographics of your audience their age I think has a lot to do with it, you know these days we know the millennials. Mobile is huge. If your demographic is the Millennials, you got to meet them at the mobile device.

Whether it’s through an app like you said where you can do notifications push notifications on where they can communicate through the app through text messaging, you know, that’s one thing but you know, if your demographic is a little bit older, you know, maybe they’re the, you know, the Gen xers or the gym wise then you know, maybe email is the thing or pushing content.

Um updating content on your website or within your portal and then notifying them via email. So I think that has a lot to do with it. You’ve really got to figure out who your audience is and then you like you said meet them where they are and it a lot of it does depend I think on their age and you know, the particular Niche that you’re in right?

So for sure and so one of the things that we always like to wrap up the the podcast with is the final question, is that what what is. One thing that any Commerce business can do right now, you know to help the business grow get traffic and get sales and it you know, it can be anything doesn’t necessarily have to be regarding growing a community.

I really believe that Community is is really the future of marketing that people affiliate with Brands really to be in a sense part of a community and so for you know your audience who you know is using. The latest and greatest, you know advertising and affiliate and marketing techniques and and that’s great and you want to you know be best-of-breed there.

I definitely would encourage them to consider starting a community and inviting inviting Their audience to the community. I think I think they’ll find a very. Both an Roi from a revenue point of view and just tremendous satisfaction from that. Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah these days the one thing that I will stress is that you do have to think of your business you thinking of marketing and reaching people you’ve got to think kind of outside the box and things are these days definitely our life different than you know before and the traditional types or the traditional ways of meeting your and customer are a lot different.

Yeah. Oh, yeah. I just want to add once. One small comment to that which is I think it’s true for both b2c and B2B and I I know your audience is is both I mean so consumers let’s say they are getting a fitness product. They want to be in a community of other people who are exercising but let’s say you’re a sales person and you’re using sales technology and you want to be in a community with other sales professionals, right?

And so if someone is is my. Being a new technology for business people. Let’s say that example the sales people. They just as much want community and want to to learn from their peers. So it might be a professional development then social type of community, but I I think it’s it’s very important.

Cases, right right. Definitely for sure. Okay. Great Lord. Will I definitely appreciate all of your wisdom that you imparted to our audience treasure great help in learning about growing a community and if anyone wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to reach you Laura mobilized or immobilized?

We’d be happy to talk to them. Okay, great. That sounds awesome. Okay, Laura. Will you have a great day and thanks again for joining. Here at the e-commerce marketing podcast. I pleasure. Thank you for listening to the Commerce marketing podcast to access the eCommerce videos and other resources to help your business.

Grow. Please visit get forward slash videos subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for e-commerce marketing podcast, and please leave a rating and a review. Thanks for listening. See you next time.

Podcast Guest Info

Laura Yecies
COO, Mobilize.io