Martech Stacked Episode 1: The comprehensive SEO software platform that every marketer should have - with Lukasz Zelezny
28th May 2020
Joining us for the first episode of Martech Stacked is a man who first started working in the field of SEO in the year 2000. Since then he’s headed-up the SEO for several large organisations, spoken at over 100 international marketing events, and he now runs a successful SEO agency based in London - Lukasz Zelezny from SEO.London.
#1: SEMrush Comprehensive SEO software platform
#2: PipeDrive Sales CRM & Pipeline Management Software
David Bain: Lukasz, explain what your business does and how you use marketing technology to make it better.
Lukasz Zelezny: Cool. So, as we know many years my career path, I was working for many, many years in London as an in-house SEO. And the last role was head of a CEO of uSwitch, then when uSwitch had been acquired by Zoopla, I was there as SEO director managing my team. And then I really wanted to start something on my own, and I was thinking that this kind of, if you can call this a boutique SEO agency, which will be run predominantly by me, that would be the right choice. I already had enough inquiries and I could use my contacts. So almost two years ago, I started being on my own, and it's absolutely fantastic journey. And journey is probably the right word, because it's not about getting to the level that, let's say you can sell it, or let's say you can retire or something, it's more about this year by year you changing, you improving.
Lukasz Zelezny: Every meeting with my customer improves me. Regarding to technology I'm using a huge amount of tools, sometimes I'm thinking I shouldn't use that many. Part of them are sitting in the bucket of purely SEO tools, which helps me to manage campaigns of my clients, and the other one is a bunch of tools that helps me to organize my life and my schedules and so on and so on. So I would split this into two buckets, one purely SEO, purely online marketing, the other one purely to make my time more efficient because the day is only 24 hours and that will not change. And you still have family, you still need to sleep, you still need to eat. If you're a one man band, then it's very important to use your time efficiently.
David Bain: Absolutely. So, obviously you're a massive fan of technology and marketing technology, does that mean that you probably use it a little bit too much, or is it impossible to use it too much?
Lukasz Zelezny: I think it is possible to use it too much, I am trying to be efficient but also trying to test as many new things out there on the market. Sometimes I am using relatively old school tools or maybe tools that someone else would say like, "This is quite old." But I get used to that efficient solution and so on. The same like some people are still a big fan of organizing time in an Excel sheets, and I don't see any problem of this. If that works for you, probably that's a good choice-
David Bain: Okay. So just want to jump in and just use technology for the sake of it, it needs to be the right tool, it needs to improve your work life balance-
Lukasz Zelezny: Absolutely.
David Bain: So you used that word efficient quite a bit there as well, which parts of your business are you most happy with that you would say is the most efficient at the moment? You split your technologies into, I think SEO and non-SEO type tools, but looking at very specific aspects of your business, maybe from acquiring customers to ensuring that your existing customers are satisfied or dealing with another specific aspect of your business, what specific aspect of your business are you most satisfied with at the moment from a technology perspective and an automation perspective?
Lukasz Zelezny: So it's very easy to answer for me because as you see this room where I'm sitting, that's pretty much my office, there's a studio as you can see, but what I'm very proud of it is that I'm waking up at morning, it's normally like 6.30am / 7.00am, going to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, coming back here and I can start work. So the fact that I can be 100% remote, or maybe not remote because that's not a right word to describe a 100% work from home, that makes me super proud. Maybe last year I had some time inquiries from customers who are like, "Yeah, that's great. The proposal is good, but we would need to meet first." And that really puts me off, because you know how big London is, and I think lots of listeners who are right now with us also can say the same about their own city, no matter if you are in New York, LA, even Warsaw or Berlin, Barcelona, those are big cities.
Lukasz Zelezny: You wasting so much time to go from one side of the city to another, to meet someone face to face, to have a cup of tea and then return, that every time I was saying like, "Listen for me to go from East London to Hammersmith it's like the day is gone, and I think it's better if instead of me going there, I will just start working." I know that it makes sense a bit harsh, but if someone thinks that the fact I don't want to meet someone face to face, and I prefer video calls, microphones, presentation on the screen is a problem, then maybe that's not the right type of customer, maybe that's too traditional, maybe they have different principles, I respect that, not every customer is for me. But I can see right now, and especially after the COVID and coronavirus, that the trend is obvious, more and more people would be working from home, this is what makes me the most proud.
David Bain: Yeah, you're obviously set up to do that effectively, efficiently before coronavirus, and it's wonderful for your business that you're in that kind of situation. And you touched upon content marketing there as well in that it's how customers discover you, and we'll touch upon that later on in the discussion as well, because what we're going to be doing is we're going to be looking at marketing technology and specifically how that technology integrates with your content marketing strategy. But let's dive into specific pieces of marketing technology now. So starting off with number three, which are your top three tools in your current martech stack and why?
Lukasz Zelezny: Okay. So if you're looking at purely an online marketing/SEO bucket, the number one and it's for almost like 10 or more years is SEMrush, I wouldn't be able to work without a SEMrush since it's absolutely fundamental to ... Yeah, I'm spending a couple of hours with SEMrush, I like how the tool is improving and they have also options to start doing pitches right now, which is called Opti. So yeah, I could talk a lot about this. Another one is Pipedrive, which I'm using as my CRM. So as you can imagine, you probably are in the same place. There is lots of inquiries from different sources like LinkedIn, email, phone, and various other sources you may receive referrals. And to store this, I'm using Pipedrive just to make sure that I have the central point of all my leads there.
Lukasz Zelezny: And then finally, the third one will be quite difficult because I'm using various different sources, various different tools to do two different things. But I feel like I could mention something a bit unusual, which is SigParser, it's another tool to find customers for me. SigParser is a very unique tool, which is connecting with your Gmail account and it's parsing all the signatures of the emails that've been sent to you in the history. And I can find lots of frozen leads, potentially people who contacted me, but then something didn't click, I forgot about this, they are not in Pipedrive. Every signature is different, but they have a common element, name, surname, company name and so on.
Lukasz Zelezny: SigParser can prepare you a massive spreadsheet where you see not only the details, but also how many times you contacted this person, how many times this person responded, when was the last contact and so on and so on. And I can find lots of frozen deals, I recommended this to my customers. And one customer said to me like, "Man, there is so many potential in this."
David Bain: Wow. I love that. I love finding out about tools that I haven't found out about before, I don't believe I was aware of that particular tool. So, you mentioned that you can take data from that tool and create a spreadsheet with that data in it, can you also then take that data to Pipedrive, and then automatically create-
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah. Absolutely.
David Bain: Yeah. And is that a good way to use it or is it better to manually check the spreadsheet first of all?
Lukasz Zelezny: I think it's better to manually check because you don't want to juggle between tools with massive chunk of data. Your Gmail have this data, then your spreadsheet have this data and then the same data in Pipedrive, that wouldn't make sense. You can filter out and say like, "Show me only this contacts that contacted me in last 12 months." And at least there was two responses from my side and their side. And let's say the email was not containing "@Gmail", so you know that it was in most cases a business email, and couple of other things and out of 60,000 leads, then you ending up with 500, but much, much higher quality.
David Bain: Wow. And these are people that you have interacted with beforehand and they've left-
Lukasz Zelezny: You have interacted, yes.
David Bain: You need those signatures.
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah. So I believe that your inbox, your email account is a fantastic source of potential leads, you have lots of hibernated, I call this hibernated leads. People who are very close to convert, but something happened or they said, "You know what? We decided to go with someone else." And you don't know how that someone else is performing. Maybe they have enough of this guy and they may be are in the position like, "Oh, if I would only remember that other guy who is you or me." And then you contact him. And because you are like, say asking me about three tools and I would like to respect this kind of concept, but I think I need to add on top of that, that we are using with Parul, my wife, who is working with me.
Lukasz Zelezny: Gmelius is helping us to share account, so she can see straight away who is contacting me after, also when we send an email to potential customer no matter if that's our current potential customer or someone who we have from SigParser, Gmelius is able to track if the mail was delivered, if the email is open, how many times it was open, we can pretty much see that live, so that also helped me to understand if that what I wrote reached that person.
David Bain: Okay. It's all right. This tool that I haven't heard of either is called Gmelius and-
Lukasz Zelezny: Gmelius, is a Swiss tool.
David Bain: Got you. Okay. So for the listener, for the viewer, what we'll do is we'll make sure that any links to tools that Lukasz mentions is on the show notes at MartechStacked.com, so you just have to check that out there as well. So certainly these four tools, we'll give you links to there as well. So, love the fact that you were mentioning tools that perhaps not many people are really aware of as well, and love the fact that you're actually so focused in on email marketing and getting the efficient interaction going with your contacts for someone that's so SEO orientated as well. It shows you that even if you just focus on specific aspects of marketing to drive customers, you need to be aware of all aspects of marketing and marketing technology to make your whole life cycle of interaction with your prospects and customers as efficient as possible.
David Bain: So the four tools that you mentioned there, let's just dive slightly deeper into them. And I believe that what you're saying is because they're very different tools, it's very, very difficult to rank them as one, two and three, or did I hear correctly-
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah.
David Bain: ... you saying that actually SEMrush is probably the most important tool for your business?
Lukasz Zelezny: Well, SEMrush is like operational tool, that's the centre, that's something where I am helping, because it's also important to say that I'm mainly doing consultation when I'm helping in house team, when I'm teaching in house team. When we are sitting together through the video call and we are thinking, what would be the next few steps that we can perform? Is this a gap analysis? Is this something else? Are we trying to attack featured snippets to make my customer more exposed in the search engine results pages? So that's definitely this part of like, "I have a customer and I need to deliver."
David Bain: So are you saying that SEMrush is a great marketing technology tool, but it's something that's more important for your type of business because you offer SEO services, and for another type of business, you'd recommend SEMrush but it wouldn't be necessarily as important in a martech stack?
Lukasz Zelezny: I think SEMrush should be like industry standard, many considered as industry standard. So no matter you working in SEO or PPC, in this two cases, definitely. Also, content marketing itself, there is lots of solutions that you don't need to be an SEO, you don't need to care that much about the SEO, but you can pivot a little the way how he was working until now, and work a little different under influence of SEMrush, and you will get much, much better results in terms of how your content will be consumed and so on, because you will put a little of seasoning about SEO, not even thinking about this.
David Bain: And why are you using SEMrush primarily rather than another similar tool out there?
Lukasz Zelezny: Because there is so many tools inside, that for me it's like a Swiss knife. Also, I like the way I can share project between my customers, and I think it's value for money is fast, is reliable. For me, it's like no brainer at the moment, it's not like something which can do one or two things, you can do much, much more on that of those plenty of other tools that are mostly using from time to time, but SEMrush is the central point.
David Bain: And you mentioned Pipedrive as your sales pipeline management software-
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah.
David Bain: ... that you use, so did you consider other software and why did you actually decide to go for Pipedrive?
Lukasz Zelezny: I went to Pipedrive because, funny, I was using Hunter to find emails, and they had integration with Pipedrive. That was many years ago, 2016, maybe. And I was like, "What is a Pipedrive?" And that was the first CMS that really convinced me, the setup is almost like Trello, you have cards, and so on. I was like, "Yeah, why not? Let's use it." You don't need to learn that too, this is how it should be.
David Bain: Very intuitive.
Lukasz Zelezny: ... it's not always possible that you cannot learn, but you don't need to learn how to use the tool, but it should be, I would love to have every tool that's simple as Pipedrive.
David Bain: Okay, great. So it was a pleasure to use, but it's also really effective in-
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah.
David Bain: ... certain areas of your business. Got you. And then to focus in on your email marketing or the measurement of your Gmail success, and also your identifying of lost contacts within Gmail. Did you consider other software tools for those particular areas in your business?
Lukasz Zelezny: I don't know about any other software. The funny story is when I purchased the account, the author of this tool called me because they are not ... I think it was more or less like a site project or something that I had really clicked, it's a bit like the story you can write in the books. There was a problem, and the guy found the solution-
David Bain: Got you. So did he design a solution then for his own needs initially before reaching out to the market?
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah. I think it was designed for himself maybe, I feel there is a bit of artificial intelligence inside this tool that can easily protest where is the name in the signature, where is the surname? Where is the returning mail, and so on and so on. But overall, it's this kind of tool which sits on top of your Gmail and telling you lots of things about how you're using this Gmail, how you're contacting people, you can sort this by the most contacted person, which probably in many cases will be your wife or your husband to whoever is listening to us. It was like that in my case. So, you have additional layer of view on this data that is stored in Gmail and people are never thinking, or rarely are thinking about Gmail in that way.
Lukasz Zelezny: It's a bit like growth hacking, I will tell you different story. It's a bit like you exporting your contact from LinkedIn, loading them to Facebook, creating custom audience and start showing adverts on Facebook to your contact which are mainly on LinkedIn. I was testing this back in the day and it's shockingly efficient, because people who normally knows you from LinkedIn now they see you on Facebook and there is not only this typical normal goal which is, see my advert perform an action, but there is additional subconscious effect like, "Oh my gosh, I noticed it from LinkedIn, now he's on Facebook, what's going on here, he's everywhere. You know what I mean? So, yeah.
David Bain: And can you just remind the listener then the names of these email tools that you recommend?
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah. So we were talking about SigParser, we were talking about Gmelius. We were talking about Pipedrive, and we were talking about SEMrush.
David Bain: Superb stuff. So we also mentioned, touched upon content marketing, in fact, in your last point there, you talked about LinkedIn and Facebook, so it's a nice segue into the next section here. I'd like to get a feel for what your overall content marketing strategy is, and how marketing technology really fits with that. So just as an overall picture, what is your content marketing strategy look like? Where do you regularly publish? What kind of content do you regularly publish? And do you plan out a lot beforehand?
Lukasz Zelezny: So, I have seo.london as you mentioned, and I am publishing there often like, how, what type of articles, because I noticed that all the queries with how are very, very often giving you good traffic, because people have a problem. They want to visit your website, they want to read this, maybe perform some action. And that's one thing, I have also aside of seo.london couple of other websites, zelezny.uk. I have couple of Polish website because I also speak Polish, which is socialmedia.pl wordpress.pl. But what is the most exciting it's that I am using my content marketing. Also, I'm trying to use this a little more sophisticated than normally like writing, posting on social media, maybe do some syndication, and that's all. So mainly the one thing is that I am using DeepL, which is artificial intelligence translator, which is much more accurate than Google.
Lukasz Zelezny: And I'm using a plugin called TranslatePress. So my seo.london in fact, is in five or six languages right now, automatically translated. And I know how it sounds automatically translated that the quality will be bad. Actually, I was reading articles that had been translated from English to Polish, and because I'm fluent in Polish I can kind of rate how well it was translated. Then the quality is really, really closely perfect, 95% of the text was absolutely nicely translated. This 5% that left, you can either do manually, or you can say this is the cost of saving tremendous amount of money and time for translation, this manual work. So this is one thing, automatic translation, indexation, trying to gather traffic from Russia, trying to gather traffic from Poland, Spain, Portugal, and so on, Germany and Netherlands.
Lukasz Zelezny: And the second thing is that I am trying to make sure that my website is perfectly optimized in terms of all the aspects around SEO. So you know that I'm treating myself in that moment as my customers-
David Bain: Got you. So essentially your content strategy starts off with a lot of what actually Marcus Sheridan recommends in his book, They Ask You Answer, and that is focusing in on what questions customers or potential customers are asking, what challenges that they're having prior to being likely to be a good fit to your services, and you're trying to deliver as much of that content as possible, then you're being as efficient as possible with the translation of that content to publish elsewhere. You mentioned social media there as well, do you tend to syndicate your content from your blog, from your own website and publish it elsewhere? Do you only publish snippets from your website content and publish it elsewhere on drive back to your website? What's your strategy with social media?
Lukasz Zelezny: Always snippets because of the duplication of content, mainly on LinkedIn. I like LinkedIn a lot, I think LinkedIn is the future. I'm not that big fan of other social media platforms, I'm using Twitter, I'm using Facebook, I'm using Instagram, but it's more for fun rather than this something serious. LinkedIn gave me so many leads and so many really business, and there is so many real people who need my service that I really, really stick to LinkedIn. And right now I crossed 30,000 followers. I have close to 30,000 contacts and more than 30,000 followers, and now the next goal is 40,000.
David Bain: Superb stuff, double mine!
Lukasz Zelezny: Yeah.
David Bain: So I think we've got a good sense for how you use SEMrush or how you integrate it into your business, and also the email support tools that you recommend as well. I'd just like to dig slightly deeper into Pipedrive as well, and how you go about actually taking people who are interested in you and talking about you and what do, and defining them as prospects for your services. So do you have some kind of opt-in sequence that helps to define someone as a good fit for use of your services? And at what stage do you take them into Pipedrive?
Lukasz Zelezny: I'm taking them to the Pipedrive when they will respond to me. The first response is a justification. Obviously, as long as this is not like proper refusal, if it's like, "Oh, let's have a chat or let's move forward or let's talk about this, that's a good sign, that is leading to Pipedrive.
David Bain: And is that automated sorry, or is that something that you manually do yourself?
Lukasz Zelezny: I'm doing the semi-automated, I'm just BCC responses to the email address that is connected to my Pipedrive. And that's one thing. And what was that? Ah, I don't have any proper funnel, I am purely B2B and I don't think that funnels, offering ebook would work in my case. Obviously, there are some good industries B2B that it works, not necessarily with me. I feel like a proper conversation via email or video, ideally that's the way to start working because it's more like partnership less than business.
David Bain: Yeah. Wonderful stuff, I've been in your website and I've seen that you've obviously got, book a session with me on my calendar is a call to action there as well, did you find that to be quite an effective call to action?
Lukasz Zelezny: Oh, this is really cool. Actually, this is a niche product. So I noticed that, especially from central Europe, there is lots of companies that may not be able to afford London rates, and may not be looking for full 360 degree audit, SEO audit or a proper monthly consultancy. So instead they're looking to sort out some few problems, they're looking for an answer for a few questions. And like you mentioned, I'm using Calendly in the pro version, which is integrated with my PayPal. So when you go into my website, there is an emergency SEO session, and people can click on this. There is a little form when I want to know who is your competitor or who you considered to be your competitor, is your website at least 12 months in the market, name of the person who is booking and so on and so on. This form is not that complicated.
Lukasz Zelezny: And at the bottom before you can finalize, there is this last step which is a PayPal payment, and then potential customer needs to pay, and then the booking will go to his calendar. And that works really well because I'm using this links always manually during the conversation, sometimes on Slack, someone is asking like, "Oh, I have this problem, that problem, who would help me?" And then there is a link from me to my Calendly, they can book, we can meet the same next day and they are very happy.
David Bain: Lots of things for our listener, for our viewer to think about there. But as your business grows, what would you say is an example of a process that you currently do manually that you may wish to automate using marketing technology in the future?
Lukasz Zelezny: Reporting. Unfortunately, reporting I'm still doing in many cases manually the same with audits, because very often you need to add this kind of personalized message, personalized bullet point, and that's quite difficult for me to automate. It's sometimes just delusion that what I'm doing it will be faster, but it's just a delusion because maybe initially to design something that will be fully automated would take a bit more time, but at the end of the day that would be fully automatic. And then on the other hand, I could still do the same repeat task, and this automated system will always win for the long term. So this is something that I would like to move. Also, I've never been like a big fan of artificial intelligence because for me it was like kind of a buzzword, until recently when I could start listening to tracks, that'd been composed by artificial intelligence, you just need to choose what type of music you like, cinematic or hip hop or something, and artificial intelligence will do this. You don't have any problems with copyright and so on.
David Bain: Important to let the listener know that you're a good musician as well!
Lukasz Zelezny: Well, because I am quite efficient in organizing my time, I have a bit more time for my music. Yesterday I had nine singles on iTunes, this is also something, if anyone who is listening to us is into music and would like to be on iTunes, there is right now plenty of different distributors like DistroKid that I'm using, you paying them and they're doing everything else, they're uploading everything and they're checking your cover if you have rights and so on, or TuneCore, there is another one, but this is topic for different conversation.
David Bain: Absolutely-
Lukasz Zelezny: And one thing to add, the thing I'm missing really is, SigParser is parsing everything automatically to a spreadsheet. I would like to have a CMS that is automatically doing pretty much everything by artificial intelligence. Somehow even Pipedrive, it reminds me a little like filling sales in Excel. I know they are doing lots of intelligence stuff after, but I'm looking something like a next step, something that I don't even need to think about this, because again, the day is 24 hours and you could hear already five tools I'm using, and that's not even 10%.
David Bain: You gave the listener a lot to think about there as well, but also in terms of the structure of the overall podcast Martech Stacked - we're just starting out here and podcasts always morph slightly over time. Your last comment there gave me a thought that perhaps to finish off conversations, it might be good to ask the guest what is something that you got in your mind that would be a wonderful piece of marketing technology that perhaps doesn't even exist yet, but you would love to see created. So that could be a nice closing off question-
Lukasz Zelezny: Absolutely.
David Bain: You've offered a lot of great tools there as part of our conversation, what would you say is the key takeaway for the listener from today's discussion?
Lukasz Zelezny: The key takeaway is, one, that you cannot be too comfortable. We always need to be ready to change because this is what makes people progressing, this is what makes your company progressing. So don't stick with things that, "Okay, now it works. Don't touch this. We always been doing this like that and so on." I think this is the main problem we have right now in the world. If you take a book published in the end of 19th century, people are thinking that they will be flying to offices and so on, almost like super futuristic. We are not doing this because I think that many of us were thinking during last 100 years that this is always how it was, we need to stick with that.
Lukasz Zelezny: So, my advice to all our listeners today is don't be too comfortable with things you are at the moment because tomorrow you may need to change many things.
David Bain: Well, thank you so much for your time and your tips sir, what's the best way for the listener to find out more about you and what you do?
Lukasz Zelezny: Absolutely, seo.london. That's one of the way. The other way is to go on LinkedIn, where I'm pretty much always, just type my name Lukasz Zelezny, and you can find there's only one Lukasz Zelezny, so you will not be confused.
David Bain: Wonderful stuff - thanks again Sir!
Lukasz Zelezny: Thank you very much.