Martech Stacked Episode 22: The livestreaming production suite that can also *edit* your videos - with Brandon Olson from AWeber
22nd October 2020
I’m joined today by a man with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of communications disciplines - including PR, social media and email. He’s currently the head of PR and social media at AWeber, a leading email marketing and automation platform that’s helped over 1 million small businesses, entrepreneurs and online creators connect with their audiences and build profitable businesses. Welcome, Brandon Olson.
Listen to Martech Stacked on Apple, Google Podcasts or Spotify.
#1: AWeber Powerfully-simple email marketing designed to help your small business grow.
#2: StreamYard Engage your Facebook, or YouTube, Live audience with interviews and shows; all the tools you need for professional shows right in your browser.
#3: Ecamm Live The all-in-one livestreaming production platform for Mac.
David Bain: I'm joined today by a man with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of communications disciplines, including PR, social media, and email. He's currently the head of PR and social media at AWeber, a leading email marketing and automation platform that's helped over one million small businesses, entrepreneurs, and online creators connect with their audiences and build profitable businesses. Welcome Brandon Olson.
Brandon Olson: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
David Bain: Great to have you on. You can find Brandon over at aweber.com. So Brandon, explain what AWeber does and how you use different types of marketing technology to make it better.
Brandon Olson: Yeah, that's a good question. Thanks for asking. So AWeber is one of the leading email marketing and automation platforms in the world. over the last 20 or so years, 22 years now they've helped, as you said, David, over a million small businesses and online creators, not only connect with their audiences, but also grow their business through email marketing and automation. So it's kind of interesting because when you think about the martech that we use, the marketing technology we use, we're also one of those that falls into that category of marketing technology. So we use a lot of marketing technology in our own stack to better connect, better understand our customers and our prospects so that we can better communicate the types of messages that are going to resonate with them, that they're going to connect with, and ultimately to build a better product.
Brandon Olson: We're using our technology, our marketing technology to better understand our customers, our prospects, so that we can not only talk to them more appropriately, but also know how to build a product that's really going to serve them the best so that ultimately they can grow their business and we can grow our business at the same time. I think that the technology we use helps us in a lot of ways. Not only does it save us time, but it also helps us make better decisions about the business, about our marketing efforts, and also helps us create better experiences for our customers and also our audience as a whole.
David Bain: So has it been a radical shift in terms of the different types of marketing technology that you use within AWeber over the last few years? Or has it been relatively consistent?
Brandon Olson: I'd say it's been pretty consistent. We're always keeping attuned to the different technologies and software that are out there, to make sure that we're not only using the best software for our needs, but that we're staying up to date on what's coming, because it's such a rapidly shifting industry, the martech industry, that there's so many things that are changing, so many technologies that are popping up in other industries that are influencing our industry as well. So it's important for us to stay up to date. I would say that we haven't changed a lot. We may change services here and there, but ultimately we stay pretty consistent and just making sure that we're using those technologies to their fullest, learning what limitations they have and using them more and more in better ways moving forward.
David Bain: Great stuff. Okay, well let's dive into some specific tools here. So starting off with number three, what are the top three tools in your current martech stack and why?
Brandon Olson: Yeah, that's a good question. I'd say as a company, AWeber, there's a lot of tools that we use, but I want to focus some of my top three on the ones I personally use in my role. But when I think of the company as a whole, there's a lot of business analytics types of things that come to mind, like Kissmetrics and Google Analytics that we use heavily at AWeber. But in my role personally, my role is really to better connect with our customers and help them find greater success with email marketing, to help them grow their knowledge and their skills when it comes to email marketing. So any technology that I can leverage to help me better connect with our customers I'm going to pursue.
Brandon Olson: So my number three tool that I use is... It fluctuates, but ultimately the goal is to record demos and talking head videos, so I may use Loom, I may use Ecamm Live, I may use Zoom. I've tried a lot of them. The one that I have been using a lot more lately is Ecamm Live, it helps me develop both talking head videos and screencasts and demos in a very fast and efficient way. One of my roles at AWeber is to develop our YouTube content and direct the strategy on our YouTube channel. And what I've found is that rather than sitting up in front of a camera and then editing everything together in the end, that takes a lot of time and effort, which I can do.
Brandon Olson: But in order to make the process, the production process a lot faster, a lot more efficient, I've started to use Ecamm Live, which allows me to create scenes and create different looks for those different scenes so that I can easily toggle between them and come away with a video that is really ready to upload and put on YouTube without a whole lot of editing. There might be some trimming at the front end and at the end, so that you make it nice and ready to go. But it's allowed me to walk away with a video that's almost 98% ready to go, and I don't have to do a whole lot of editing. So that's really improved the production time and allowed me to get more content out there, but also be able to move on and focus on other projects as well.
David Bain: I'm aware of Ecamm Live because obviously many live streamers use it, but it's more of a Mac tool, isn't it? I don't think it's available for the PC, is it?
Brandon Olson: I don't believe so. That's where I've played around with the different tools. Right now I'm using more Ecamm Live because of the ability to create those scenes and shifting between the two, but I think you can also do the same with OBS and Loom is another great tool. Loom's a free tool. Obviously they have a paid version, but you can create these screencasts right from your desktop regardless of what type of computer you have, whether it's Mac or PC. But yeah, Ecamm Live's been a great tool for me. And like you said, people use it a lot to live stream, which I've done as well, but there's also the ability to just record it straight to your desktop from Ecamm Live, which has been a nice feature for me to really take advantage of.
David Bain: It's a good point. I use vMix quite a bit. I'm a PC guy and that's a tool that's just available on the PC, so I guess that's the main reason that I've gravitated towards that particular platform. But at the same time, it's something quite similar and I've used it to record videos as well and it produces great quality videos. The nice thing about when you're not live streaming and you're recording, you can even record it at higher quality. And as you say, you can bring in different scenes and quite quickly produce a video without having to jump into Premiere Pro or some other really hardcore tool that perhaps takes a long time and time is money as well. So that's very important. So just before we move on to tool number two, obviously you say that's for YouTube and your YouTube strategy. So how has your YouTube strategy changed over the last few months or the last year or so, and what are you intending to do over the next six months or so that's going to be a bit different?
Brandon Olson: In the past we've always viewed and approached YouTube as sort of a place where we just dump videos. It's sort of a storage place where we host them and we embed them across our website or our blog. But in the last year or so, we've changed the way we approach YouTube and are treating it more as it was intended to be treated, as a social platform. So the content strategy is different, where we're creating content that's specifically for YouTube. And this could be demonstrations of our product, but these are also behind the scenes videos that we're doing. If we're going out and interviewing a customer, we do that.
Brandon Olson: We're also doing a lot of live streams, which end up getting put on to YouTube as well. But in the short term we're going to be starting to do more conceptual knowledge based types of videos that aren't necessarily product demonstrations, but tips and tricks on how to use email effectively, how to automate your emails, things of that nature. So we've been treating YouTube less about sort of a place where we dump our videos, and more as a place where we are creating content specifically for the platform and building an audience there and driving our customers to YouTube to watch that content, to engage with it, to comment on it. And I've been paying a lot closer attention to the metrics on our YouTube videos and seeing a lot of great growth there in terms of subscribers, as well as watch time improvement.
Brandon Olson: And my goal is to get more of our videos... Because YouTube is the second largest search engine, it's owned by Google, my goal is to get more of our content being discovered there on YouTube. So we're optimizing our titles or descriptions using a tool like Tube Tubby, TubeBuddy, excuse me, TubeBuddy to help us identify keywords, help us create some really compelling headlines and descriptions and using tags effectively. So it's really all about getting our content discovered because why not leverage the second largest search engine on the internet by playing by the rules and playing by... Creating content that they're going to want to recommend to their other visitors and video viewers.
David Bain: Yeah, TubeBuddy is certainly recommended by many video marketers, and it was actually one of the tools recommended by Mark Asquith in episode number one of Martech Stacked. And Mark Asquith is a bit of a brand evangelist for yourselves at AWeber, so you'll possibly be aware of him. It's funny, YouTube, because Google, in my opinion, hasn't really treated it as a social platform because Google, certainly 10 years ago or so, five years ago even, were focusing on Google Plus and trying to build their own social platform as they saw it to compete with Facebook and the likes, but perhaps they didn't even realize that under their noses, they had this massive video platform, YouTube that was actually a social network as well. It's good to hear you describe that as a social platform as well.
David Bain: and you also talked about building your own audience on there and publishing regular decent content on there. And you, you touched upon the fact that you'd make your audience aware when you publish content on there. So what's your strategy for launching content on YouTube. If you've published a great video that you're proud of on YouTube, do you have a certain strategy? Do you send an email out to your list? Do you use paid promotion on YouTube to actually drive more views to it?
Brandon Olson: There's a number of things we do when it comes to getting our audience to those videos, that video content on YouTube. We'll put it out in one of our emails every week. So we do a weekly series called Weekly Win to our audience where we will really cover a specific thing that they could do within their account. That might be split testing your emails, or setting up a sales landing page. So we'll do this weekly series, which will be accompanied by a video walkthrough and showing how to do it. So that helps drive our customers to that content on YouTube, where they were able to watch it, were able to comment on it, ask questions, and we're able to have a dialogue with our customers in that way.
Brandon Olson: The other team members of the marketing team at AWeber also look at that content that we're producing and find ways that they can incorporate it into the other content they're producing. So it might be a blog post, and they might see a video that we recently did about automating your emails and they think it's a perfect fit for the content they're producing. So they'll incorporate that into their content there. We're also distributing that video content on other social platforms. So we might have some tweets that go out or a Facebook post or LinkedIn post that links back to that YouTube content where they can consume more of that.
Brandon Olson: But I will say that a lot of times what we'll do with our content, because we want to play to the social networks... We want to play within their rules and really do things that are going to make them happy, so oftentimes sharing a YouTube video on Facebook isn't going to be as effective as actually putting that video on Facebook. Same thing with LinkedIn. They're more likely to... They like it when you keep people on their platform rather than sending them off to somewhere else. So if we produced on YouTube and we see a use for it on Facebook, we might take that video, put it on Facebook as well, because we're going to see better results, better reach and engagement if we're keeping people on the platform. Hopefully that answers your question.
David Bain: Yes. I could keep on asking questions about YouTube and we could have a lengthy conversation just upon that, but I'm going to not go down that rabbit hole and say, that's number three, Ecamm Live is your martech tool number three, so what is your tool number two?
Brandon Olson: I mentioned that we do live streaming, so my second tool that I'll highlight is StreamYard. And we do a lot of live streaming to our audience. We do a weekly, what we call our office hours, where our customers can come for an hour and ask us questions. We can give demonstrations on products, new features that we're rolling out. So we've found a tremendous amount of value in connecting with our customers in that way, using live streaming, because it allows us to have that two-way conversation with them. We started those office hours at the start of COVID, when COVID shut everything down, as a way to help our customers in their time of need. And we've seen a really great response from our customers with a ton of engagement.
Brandon Olson: But the real proof in the value that came from doing these live streams with our customers was looking at our customers' activity on our platform after engaging in those live streams. Across the board, we saw retention at 100%, and they began using parts of the platform that they hadn't used before as a result of attending those live streams and learning from us and from the other team members that AWeber on how they can use the platform better. So live streaming has been a really effective way for us to connect with our audience and really strengthen that relationship with them, help them be more successful with the platform. And we're starting to incorporate more users into that live stream. So we're going to be inviting in more of our customers, influencers, some of our advocates on to share their knowledge and expertise and also mix in the ability to teach and provide some support to our customers as they have questions about how to do email marketing and automation.
David Bain: Great. Yeah, I love StreamYard as well. I use StreamYard sometimes actually just to record videos as well, when I'm having a conversation with people and maybe I want them to share their screen and I want to change screens between me and them. It's a very easy way to do that and to get that into the video recording itself, just save the video recording, and then publish it afterwards if I want to do that. Two things that I would love StreamYard to do. Number one, introduce hot keys so that I can use a Stream Deck with StreamYard to automatically change between scenes without using my mouse and having to make sure I'm on the right tab in my browser. And number two, when I record podcasts, I want to record each participant on an individual audio track, and ideally an individual video track. If they had, in their recordings afterwards, the ability to download each individual participant's separate audio, and then for me to save that so I could edit each track separately, then I can't imagine me using hardly any other software apart from the StreamYard. But apart from that, I love it.
Brandon Olson: It's great, yeah. It's been a super easy tool to use, especially for a lot of our customers too, where they may not have a lot of experience with live streaming. StreamYard makes it very, very easy to get started with live streaming.
David Bain: Do you use it to record a podcast or anything else as well?
Brandon Olson: No, actually we haven't used it for podcasting or recording other videos. It's mainly been just live streaming to our social channels. We've also used Restream in the past as well, and we still have an account with Restream. But until recently, before... I think recently they made it available where you can actually schedule live streams in advance through Restream. We haven't used Restream because of that, because of that limitation, where if we wanted to schedule stuff in advance, let's say a week out, we couldn't do that. So I think recently they introduced that feature so I'm looking at the two of them now and figuring out which one we want to use. So we'll be testing out. And that's one of the things I focus on, is I know martech is ever evolving, so always revisiting and testing is an important part of marketing technology.
David Bain: Definitely. Great point. Because tools stagnate. Something that's great may not be updated, and then just may not work with future versions of browsers or whatever so very quickly it can go out of date. I use and like Restream as well. I think Restream isn't quite as good as StreamYard in terms of the studio that they have. Restream, I believe, were first to offer 1080 HD video and I think also stereo as well, although StreamYard's caught up with that as well. But it's always great to have two different competitors pushing each other along and hopefully both improving more rapidly because of it.
Brandon Olson: Yeah, and I think it's important to just make sure you're familiar with the other technologies too, because if something happens where StreamYard crashes, for example, you need to be familiar enough with another platform as a backup so that you can not miss a beat with your marketing efforts.
David Bain: Great point. Yeah, so Ecamm Live, martech tool number three, StreamYard, tool number two. What is tool number one?
Brandon Olson: Well, I saved the best for last, and one of the tools that I use on an everyday basis is our own platform, AWeber. So we like to talk about eating our own dog food, and if we expect people to use our platform, we need to be using it ourselves, and we need to understand it inside and out. The team and myself, we use AWeber on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day, not only to create and send out emails to our audience, but also to build out landing pages and automated campaigns, to analyze our results, see how our emails are performing, what we can learn from them, how we can improve future emails and optimize those.
Brandon Olson: So that would be my number one tool, because it's such a versatile tool. You can send emails, you can build landing pages, you can build signup forms. Very soon you'll be able to use a web push notifications in AWeber to target your website visitors, not necessarily your email subscribers. So there's a lot of things you can do when it comes to AWeber that... What we like to call our powerfully simple email marketing tools that really allow you to do things that are very powerful, but are very easy to use at the same time.
David Bain: I've had an AWeber account for longer than many marketers have had careers. I think since about 2007, 2008 or so. And it was certainly one of the first platforms to offer an easy to use online interface that you could just get on there and you could create an autoresponder, you could create an email newsletter and just get it out there quickly and easily. Obviously in the last 5 to 10 years. So many other options have become available and that the way that marketers and people communicate has evolved. You touched on web notifications there. What would be a key use of that, and perhaps what's one or two other areas that AWeber have evolved over the last two or three years that a marketer that perhaps hasn't used it in that time may be surprised?
Brandon Olson: I'll start with web push notifications because I mentioned that there at the end. So this is a product, a feature that we're going to be rolling out very soon. We announced it a month or so ago that it was coming. But basically what web push notifications are, is these are notifications that you can actually push out to people regardless of where they are on the internet. So they might be on Facebook, or they might be on someone else's website. You can push out a notification which pops up a browser notification that says, "Hey, I've got some new content," or "I've got a new podcast episode," or "I've got a new event." So it allows you to reach your audience directly regardless of where they are on the internet, and it doesn't require them to provide you with any information like their name or email address.
Brandon Olson: All they have to do is, and I'm sure you've seen them if you've been around the web, you might see when you get to a website, it pops up and says, "Hey, do you want to want to subscribe to our notifications?" And you click allow or don't allow. When you click allow that gives them the ability to push that notification out to you whenever they want and wherever you are on the internet, and it brings them back to whatever the call to action is. So some good use cases when it comes to that is if you're a content creator, if you've got new content, a new podcast episode, a new blog post, a new YouTube video, you can notify your push notification subscribers to let them know, "Hey, I've got this new content, come check it out right now." If you're a retailer, if you've got a new product or a new sale, you can push that out directly to your audience, regardless of where they are on the web. So those are a couple of the most common use cases that we hear about when it comes to web push notifications.
David Bain: So just while you're chatting about that, while you're thinking about web push notifications, do you have any thoughts on best practice with that? Because it's obviously a technology that could be overused and could potentially annoy people a little bit. How often should a marketer perhaps send one of these notifications or does it simply depend on how engaged the customer?
Brandon Olson: Yeah, that's a good question. I will be the first to say I'm not an expert yet when it comes to web push notifications. And speaking of live streaming, one of the things I'll be focused on in the next couple months is finding some of those experts that we can bring on as guests on live streams to really dive into web push notifications and some of those tips and best practices. But in general, think about your audience and think about your email cadence. So if you're sending out notifications to your emails, to your audience on a daily basis, they're used to that. So you might align your notification cadence in the same way. That being said, when you use the push notifications, you are pushing something in front of your audience, so you have to be mindful of not overloading your audience with those notifications. So be mindful of that and limit just how much you're sending out to them.
Brandon Olson: And make sure it's important. So because you're pushing it in front of them, it's got to be important. It might be new content that you've got. It might be a new product or a new sale that has a very timely trait to it. So I would say it's going to depend on your audience and what they expect from you, but you can pay attention to your unsubscribe rates and see, "Okay, am I pushing too much? People are unsubscribing a lot." And that could also mean that they just don't the content you're pushing out to them. So it's a matter of testing things out, watching your metrics, and making sure that you're not seeing huge spikes of unsubscribes when you push out those notifications. And if you are, maybe it's frequency or maybe it's the type of content you're putting out there, but I think you've just got to be mindful of that and pay attention to the metrics.
David Bain: Good answer. I think it all depends on the consistency that you deliver your communications and what expectations your users have. I mean, Groupon's not as popular now as it was a few years ago, certainly in the UK, but when people signed up to those deals to begin with, they wanted and expected emails every single day. But if you're a business that hasn't sent an email for six months and suddenly you send an email every single day, quickly you're going to annoy people.
Brandon Olson: Yeah, exactly. So it's important to stay consistent, set those expectations with your audience. If they know to expect a weekly email from you, make sure that you're not abusing that and sending them daily or multi daily emails to them. And don't go quiet for six months and then all of a sudden expect them to respond in a positive way once you start emailing them again. You'd asked about some other things that that we've been focused on the last couple of years. Landing pages is another one. So up until, I would say maybe five or six months ago, you haven't had the ability to build landing pages in AWeber.
Brandon Olson: We rolled out our new landing page builder about five or six months ago, which now allows you to build complete landing pages on AWeber that are very rich and robust. You can put images and video and text on there. But beyond that, we just launched a new smart content element which allows you to embed some smart content there, some more interactive content. So you've got a podcast, David, and you can embed your podcast player right onto your AWeber landing page now using the smart content element, and all you really need is a link to that podcast episode to put it right there. Spotify, Buzzsprout, I don't know what platform or host you're using-
David Bain: It's hosted on Captivate.
Brandon Olson: Okay, great. Mark's company. So you can embed things on there, if you're a podcaster or if you want to put surveys on there, you can embed those on there. So it's an ability to really create a really robust landing page. Even if you have a website, if you just want to spin up a quick landing page to drive people to sign up for a webinar or an event or what have you, you can do that. But it's great for those who don't have a website and need somewhere to send people in order to sign up and to opt in. But beyond that, it doesn't have to be used just for opt in pages. You can also use it for sales pages and to direct people to make a purchase as well.
David Bain: Certainly something for people to test that haven't been on AWeber for a while, so great sharing. Thanks for that. Let move on to asking you the next question, and that's, as your business grows, as AWeber grows, what's an example of a process that you currently do manually that you may wish to automate using marketing technology in the future?
Brandon Olson: I thought about that question before the interview and I kept coming back to being able to identify the right influencers to partner with and to work with. And there may be a technology out there, but one of the things that we've been in manual mode for a long time is discovering the right influencers to work with and to partner with and to collaborate with.
David Bain: SparkToro? Have you tried SparkToro?
Brandon Olson: No, I watched Rand's episode with you and I'll have to be checking that out as well. But I think one of the things that we do, the team and I at AWeber do a lot manually right now is searching for the right people. It might be in our customer database. It might be outside of our customer database, but we spend a lot of time trying to identify the right people to work with and the right people to partner with. So it'd be great to be able to automate that and be able to discover those influencers and the right people to work with in the future in a little easier way, and it sounds SparkToro might be a good option for us.
David Bain: Yeah, definitely. And listener if you haven't listened or consumed Rand's episode yet, please go do that. He doesn't hold back. Opinions about many different things. And what's something that you have in mind that would be a wonderful piece of marketing technology that perhaps doesn't even exist yet, but you would love to see created.
Brandon Olson: Yeah, that's good question. Thought about that one and what I kept coming back to, and this is an age old challenge for marketers and specifically PR pros, and that's kind of my background, is in public relations, and one of the things that we always struggle with is measuring the impact of awareness. And this could also be tied to attribution as well, but how do you measure awareness without launching an expensive market research project or effort or paying thousands, tens of thousands of dollars to perform that market research? If I could find a piece of marketing technology that would allow us more easily and effectively measure awareness and measure attribution, that would be a big, big deal, a big one for me, because it is one thing that... It's hard to measure. It's easy to measure direct traffic and direct conversions, but when it comes to just brand awareness, that becomes a little tougher to measure.
David Bain: Definitely. I think the main challenge with that in bigger companies is the fact that it's harder to justify spending lots of money on that internally, and it's easier when times get tough or just any time to say, "What's the direct impact of this particular traffic referral source?" And if you can say specifically, "This referral source drove this number of signups or resulted in this income," it's easier to say that. But the challenge is that if you don't build brand, your paid ads aren't going to be as successful, your click through rates on your organic listings aren't going to be as successful as well. So everything ties together.
Brandon Olson: Yeah. And that's the hard part of marketing is it all ties together, but sometimes it's really hard to measure all those different things unless you've got, like you're saying, those direct traffic and the direct sources that you're able to track.
David Bain: Brandon, we've talked a lot about many different things in the discussion over the last half hour or so from video to brand to email, even web chat as well. Is there any particular - web notifications rather - is there any one key takeaway that you would like to leave the listener with?
Brandon Olson: I think the main takeaway that I would say from our discussion today is that you need to find ways, use this marketing technology to better understand your audience, and that will pay off in a lot of different ways. It will pay off in better content, better messaging to your audience. It will pay off in the better product or service. And it will make your processes and efforts a lot more efficient and a lot more timely and time savings when it comes down to it. So understand your audience and use your marketing technology to do that. If you're not understanding your audience through the technology that you're using, then you need to find ways that you can use it more effectively, because that's really what it's intended to be used for, is to better understand and better communicate, better connect with your audience and I think that's one of the biggest benefits of the mark tech that's out there on the market today.
David Bain: Great advice. Focus on your audience and actually use that insight to deliver a more effective, targeted, appropriate communication for that audience and hopefully improve your conversion rates over the longterm because of it.
Brandon Olson: Yeah, absolutely.
David Bain: Super. Well, Brandon, thank you so much for your time and your tips. What's the best way for the listener to find out more about you and what you do?
Brandon Olson: Oh yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks for having me first off, and I'd love to connect with anyone who's listening. You can find me on LinkedIn at Brandon P Olson. You can also find me on Twitter, that's my handle, BrandonPOlson. And if you want to send me an email, it's email@example.com. If you want to learn more about AWeber, we offer a free account so you can start for free at aweber.com.
David Bain: Superb. Thanks again.
Brandon Olson: Awesome. Thanks so much.