EP 20: Breaking into Community with Digital Marketer

Customer to Customer marketing is still new, many are still breaking into this budding industry. That’s why we talked with Justina Fenberg who is a Community Manager at Digital Marketer. Justina herself recently broke into the Community Manager role so we got her take on how she got in.

Those who have “Community” in their title come from many places but one place they commonly come from is customer service. Justina was incredible in her role in customer service but found out that “Community Manager” was a role and realized she could help customers at scale but still in a personalized way. She was then able to find Suzi Nelson who helped her realize she could break into community. Justina’s suggestion was to find a mentor in the space and get to know the community team or even community-minded people at your company.

Since she shared that one of the most powerful things she has found that community can do is turn a negative experience into a positive one. She shared how they had some marketing campaigns that were more general or going to people that it might not have been as relevant for. Being a marketing company the community asked why they didn’t have more segmentation in their emails. Then, a VP at Digital Marketer hopped in to address with honesty and transparency saying that they too are experimenting and learning the community was right in their suggested improvements. This really humanized the company and showed people that everyone has room to improve, Justina saw that people really appreciated the company responded inside the community the way they did.

Justina also shared the values that Digital Marketer has as a company and how they shape the community and create a great space for customers to learn. Their first core value is “Loving, Protecting and Respecting the Customer”. That leads to them realizing they needed a space not to sell more but to help, provide value and foster customer to customer connections.

Transcript


[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:03.8] DA: Welcome to the C2C Podcast. I am your host, Derek Anderson. After holding my first event in 2010, I went on to create Startup Grind, a 400 chapter community based in over a 100 countries. Along the way, I discovered the greatest marketing tool of all time, your customers. Yet, I couldn’t find anyone sharing how to build a community where people could experience your brand in person or at scale.

On this show, we talk with the brightest minds and companies on the planet about how to build a customer to customer marketing strategies and create in person experiences for your brand and customer before your competitor does.

Today we’re going to talk to Justina Fenberg who is a community manager at Digital Marketer, a company that provides tools and training for, you guessed it, digital marketers. Justina will share how she broke in the community, how you can take negative experiences from the customers and turn them into positives and why values are so important to building trust.

Have a listen.

[INTERVIEW]

[0:01:09.6] DA: Justina, you initially started off in customer experiences as an editor which isn’t too far from community but I’d love to know what prompted your move into the community world?

[0:01:20.5] JF: Mine was actually a move of circumstance, really. Like you said, I’m really fortunate to have a background in customer facing roles, so I was a social media manager for a while, I was a blog editor like you said and I’ve also been on customer support and led support teams. I hadn’t actually really heard of like community management as like a business focus until Suzie Nelson who was Digital Marketer's, former community strategist kind of, you know, we were chatting one day and she made me feel like you could take this on. This is something that you could do and I had now idea that it was my skills kind of overlapped on that area.

She’s just been an incredible mentor to me and really help build my confidence and those role even since she left. I really think that having these people or having like community managers who are so willing to talk about this, I’ve heard people refer to it as the wild west and it really does feel like the wild west of something kind of new and different in the business space.

You just have so many people that have such great ideas and are willing to share them. She built my confidence up and then honestly, I work with such great people and because Digital Marketer is so learning focused, that’s what we do. I have incredible coworkers who are excellent teachers also.

[0:02:36.9] DA: It seems like Digital Marketer is really invested in the community. I mean, I’ve – prior to us meeting, I’ve heard about it through a number of different sources over many years and people talk about what a great community is. Why do you think Digital Marketer believes in customer to customer community so much?

[0:02:53.8] JF: DM itself was actually launched out of our annual Traffic and Conversion Summit which is a huge – it’s north America’s largest marketing conference and we actually just celebrated 10 years, that was really cool to see but as they were growing, the T and C summit. The attendees themselves kind of formed like naturally evolved into this IRL community.

People were coming back year after year and they were reconnecting and they were strategizing and networking and so when DM launched the core product, digital marketer lab which is our subscription service. Our leadership team kind of realized that there was a need to also create a place online where subscribers could feel confident or comfortable asking questions about marketing as it’s evolving and changing and sharing, you know, the things that they’re struggling with and all their successes and they, you know, wanted to create a place that had peer to peer accountability.

Digital Marketer Engage was born as a Facebook community that purely focuses on creating conversations about strategy and what’s working now in marketing. I think the thing that’s really different about this community is because It’s linked to our product, that’s a resource for our product. It’s not just us like talking at people, you know, that’s what our trainings are for, you know? We’re a training and resource platform but the community space itself is for our members.

It’s where our members go to build connections with each other and it’s your marketing family. You know, it’s a place to strategize and to make friends and to get help when you kind of feel like there’s so much going on and it could be like something tech related or it could be like, I don’t understand why my Facebook Ad isn’t converting or I’ve never ventured into the Pinterest space, can somebody tell me about that or people can get questions about different platforms, you know?

Really, it’s such a great – I think DM really appreciates that about our community because it’s also space for them to tell us what’s important in the space so we get a lot of ideas for content and we get a lot of ideas for what to focus on as a company from our customers. It’s a constant feedback loop and that’s what we’re so proud of with that relationship that we’ve built with them.

[0:05:10.6] DA: What are some of the core metrics that the community team gets measured against?

[0:05:14.7] JF: I’m not a math person. I’m still learning this space, analytics is not my strong suit but I recognize that, you know, this is a company that you do have to be able to provide some information. This is actually coming at a funny time because I’m in the process of figuring that out still but right now, I’m actually, I’m going through kind of a process where I’m verifying everyone’s subscription statuses. So I’m making sure that our actual number of people in the group is relevant to the number of subscribers we have.

A lot of people will say, the number of people in your group is kind of a vanity metric. It is true for us, it’s actually more – it’s good to know how many people in the group compared to our subscription numbers so that we know how many people are taking are using our Facebook group versus subscribing and maybe don’t know that it’s a feature that they have access to.

We want to really make sure that that’s as close as possible. But I think, active members is such a more accurate statistic to look at because you want to make sure that people are coming back to the group day after day, month after month or a week after week and not only posting but actually commenting on people’s posts and just participating in group learn and group discussion.

I also like to keep a number, or keep an eye on the number of post in the group so it’s a common interactions but I try not to freak out if there’s a dip because we found kind of over the last couple of years that this niche has definite ebbs and flows. For example, summertime has kind of lower activity because people spend more time with their families than on their business versus the holidays which are huge because you know, everybody wants to take advantage of it being the holidays and wanting to like get final sales through and stuff.

You have those natural kind of ebbs and flows and so I don’t put a huge amount of stock into my god, we have a couple less post than we did this time last month, what’s going on and then like over post and freak out, it’s kind of just really trust in yourself and learning to step back and just evaluate what’s going on in the community.

As long as everybody feels a sense of – that they’re getting tier questions answered, to me, that’s why- that’s my purpose is making sure that people get their questions answered. It’s making that member to member connections and just kind of creating that sense of unity and ensuring that that is ever constant. Even as you know, the number of post might decline or go up and down. It’s an ever evolving kind of thing.

[0:07:47.4] DA: One of the company’s values, loving, protecting and respecting the customers and it’s very thoughtful, I love that focus. How do you think those values have helped shape the community or how does that value make an impact in the day to day work that you and the community team are doing?

[0:08:07.4] JF: Loving, protecting and respecting our customers is actually our first core value, we have nine total and we live those everyday as a company and then also as employees. It’s actually kind of what attracted me the most in the interview process to this company was just that idea that it’s that golden rule kind of thing, you know. You treat others the way you want to be treated.

There’s always kind of been this stigma about the shady marketer who is always trying to make a buck. But we believe that when you serve people well, it has a trickledown effect. I think our members see that we really care about training them well and we really care that they make an impact in their markets and that we have their back and that’s you know, if it’s not a good fit for whatever reason, if our products don’t work for them, we understand that.

We’re not going to force them to make a commitment to our program. In turn, I think they applied that to their businesses and it just makes marketing just more of a human to human experience and that is what Digital Marketer focuses on is there is business to business and B2B and B2C but we consider everything just human to human H2H. So just really trying to bring that back in and just improve the world in reverse space and as the best we can.

[0:09:26.8] DA: Absolutely, how to you see customer to customer or human to human in community industry in general, how do you see it evolving over the next few years? I know you are new to the industry but what things are getting your company excited and what are you getting excited about working on or seeing over the next rest of this year or next year?

[0:09:48.6] JF: Transparency to me. So that was one of the things that I think also when I started here was seeing like, “Wow are team is so transparent.” Like they really do. We tell it like it is and there is no beating around the bush. We look at numbers, we talk about things but yeah, that transparency I think is getting more and more expected with customers. So I think that companies who really value those connections with their communities and with our customers.

We will see that being honest with them will actually keep people around longer, in the long run and when you build that trustworthy relationship, it is more meaningful than trying to hide your failures and pretending to have it all figured out and you’re perfect. As a company, also one of our core values to celebrate the win. So we definitely celebrate our wins but we are also not afraid to admit our failures because another one is document and show you are learning every day.

So first and foremost, we are a learning company. We try new things, we test them, we make sure it works and then we build processes around those ideas and share that with other business owners. I think that kind of transparency, we are not information hoarders. We want to give people the opportunity to really let their business shine. Our mission is to double the size of 10,000 business and so that is what we are trying to do every day.

And we found that by applying transparency into what we are doing here really helps push that forward a little bit and one example is last year, one of our members have really brought up in the group that he had found it over time our email segmentation was off. I mean he noticed he was getting more emails about products that he had already purchased or products that weren’t really applicable to him and so he talked to the community to voice his concern.

And there were plenty of people that were chiming in and saying like, “Oh yeah, I noticed that too that is so out of character for DM.” You know we teach all about that stuff. That is one of our first products is on email marketing and so we let the thread stay open to accumulate and get as much information as possible. We let it stay open for a couple of hours and then our president, Ryan Dice, who is incredibly active in the community and he is really in there and he answers people’s questions and he’s fun.

People know him, he came in on the post and the first thing he did was apologize for the issue because it was a problem and we didn’t know until somebody really brought that to our attention but he apologized for it and he explained in very clear detail you know why we found that the segmentation was off and thank them for bringing it to our attention but then he also used it as an opportunity to let people know that we were going to improve our email marketing tactics in the future.

And I think the community really rallied around that answer because it let them know that they were being heard by someone who cared who cared about what they’re experience was and it was also I think really interesting for them to hear that we don’t always get it right. We are also testers. We are testing this stuff too, at the same time. So we are not perfect but we were able to take a bad experience that our members were having and turn it into a teachable moment.

That everybody can learn from not just us but it is like, you guys are doing your most segmentation too. This is something that maybe you want to take a look into also as your numbers get bigger. So it was a great learning experience all around.

[0:13:22.4] DA: As we wrap up, I’d love to just hear what – are there any communities that you love or respect or even just you watch that you think are doing a good job?

[0:13:31.2] JF: Definitely and it is funny because I don’t think I really recognize how many communities I was a part of until I became a community manager and I was like, “Oh I am actually a part of a lot of groups,” you know? I have two, can I tell you about two?

[0:13:46.4] DA: Please.

[0:13:46.8] JF: Okay, cool. So the first one is Together in Digital and Together in Digital is a national organization and the focus is to boost the careers of women in tech and so our founder, Alaina Shearer, has this vision for women and allies. It is called Together in Digital actually rebranded for women in digital but we wanted to bring in awareness that we have allies in the community as well but it is bringing in awareness of the need for more women, female representation in the tech industry.

And as a community, we have an incredibly active Slack channel. It is nationwide. So you can connect with members from all over the country but you can also connect with people in your local chapter you can ask for advice on really any issue that you are having. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to your career but any kind of struggle, we give advice to each other. We will help each other find jobs but one of the great things about it is it’s just not online.

Even though it is women in digital like we meet once a month in our local chapters and we have speakers come or speaker panels come and talk about all sorts of things related to giving you career advice and all sorts of avenues and it is a fantastic group and it is just a safe space to go to that you can talk about the woes and all of the things that you are facing and just really have a strong group of women that have your back and really want to see you succeed.

So I do Together in Digital, they are great and then the second one is the Austin Digital Jobs Facebook group. ADJ as it is known locally is ran by Lani Rosales, who is kind of a community manager here of mine. I have a couple so I think the thing I love about the ADJ community even though I am not looking for a job per say but I think it is still a fun community to be a part of because I think the voice that she has established in that group or the voice that prevails, it almost feels like a wolf pack almost.

They have a really strong sense of self and a shared sense of community and so even though people who might come there to find a job if you have job opportunities, they actually stay because it is a group that really champions local talent and it is a great place to make friends and everyone is super funny and really smart and it is again, one of those places that really wants to make sure that you are hitting your career goals and you can come and ask questions really about anything.

So I really do love it there, it is great and they have meme streams on Mondays, which is awesome because it is like they don’t take everything so seriously, which is a breath of fresh air also.

[0:16:18.0] DA: Awesome.

[END OF INTERVIEW]

[0:16:20.0] DA: Thank you so much for listening. If you like the show, please leave a review wherever you listen to this. If you like to see more about how to create your own event community, go to bevylabs.com/pod. Again, that is bevylabs.com/pod.

[END]

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