Episode 45: Converting w/ Content Curation w/ Snip.ly CEO Mike Cheng
Learn how to add a CTA to every link you share whether you own the content or not. Mike Cheng explains how to drive conversions through content curation.
00:00 Announcer: You're listening to the Spend $10K a Day podcast, brought to you by the performance marketing experts at MuteSix. This is your source for cutting edge insight into the world of online advertising. From the team with more Facebook case studies than any other agency on the planet. Here are your hosts, Steve Weiss and Stewart Anderson.
00:25 Steve Weiss: Cool guys. Welcome back to the Spend $10K a Day podcast. Today we have an amazing guest, Mike Cheng from Sniply. Mike, awesome to join us. Tell us a little more about yourself and Sniply.
00:40 Mike Cheng: Thanks for having me. Yeah we've been running Sniply for about four years, probably going on five now, largely in response to the huge rise of content curation that started happening about five years ago. That's when you got content marketing becoming a main thing in the business world. People sharing articles on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, but of course at the time you guys are sharing all these great articles, but what does it really mean for your business? And that's what Sniply was build for in response to that need.
01:11 SW: Awesome man, we use Sniply because we wanna re-market to all the traffic that we draw to specific content sites. So we like to use content sites, it's what we call "pre-landing pages" before they actually are prepared to make a purchase. And Sniply has been a tool that we've been using in-house and in our media buying for a long time. And it's awesome to have you on and just... I wanna just pick your brain on what's going on in content marketing, what are some of the smartest marketers who are using Sniply, leveraging, etcetera, etcetera?
01:45 MC: Thanks for having me. Happy to talk more about it. I've learned so much myself over the past four and five years. When we first started it, we weren't really sure what Sniply was gonna be and a lot of the advanced features like the one that you mentioned was something that we added along the way through observations and discussions, conversations just like these where we and our team are constantly learning about what people are doing, what they want to do, and we adapt the technology accordingly.
02:09 SW: So tell us, how did Sniply first start? What is the history of Sniply?
02:15 MC: Yeah, so Sniply started off as a very simple concept, which is, how do you add a call to action to a link that you share? How do I communicate with the audience while sending a curated article? Or in the media as a great example, let's say publication rights about your brand, you wanna share that link of course, but the publication's not gonna go through the trouble of making sure your links are properly in place or your call to action is there. So it all started with that question, "How do we create an opportunity for conversions through curated content?" And so the very, very first version of Sniply was first launched about four-and-a-half years ago. And it was a simple, there's no customizations, no retargeting, you just drop in a link and a simple message, and that little message just pops up on a black bar at the bottom of the screen.
03:02 MC: And it gives you an opportunity to say something to the person who clicked on your link. And that was the first time that someone was able to take control of the link that they share. And then since then, we've evolved to retargeting, which you've mentioned but also customizing your call to action with your own brand, profiles and doing all sorts of things like, instead of a button call to action, but you can also fill in a form. Some people use a telephone button so that visitors on mobile can tap it and call right away. So the technology has evolved a lot since then. And today what we call ourselves is, "Conversion through content curation." And conversion can be through retargeting, it can be through a call to action. But all we do is put the content sharer in control of the links that they share.
03:47 SW: Really cool. So tell us a little more about that. I didn't even know that was possible. So people actually placing a call button into content on mobile. So literally... Tell us about some of the people that are leveraging that and how that actually works, because that's a strategy that I've never actually tested out. I think a lot of the people listening to this podcast will love to learn more about how to collect data from the links that they share.
04:12 MC: Right, right. Yeah. So every company has a call to action. Sometimes that's, "Hey, check out our shopping cart and buy something," sometimes it's, "Apply for this open position in HR," sometimes it's, "Call us to book an appointment." And we're all about giving you the opportunity to do that, empowering the business to be able to... Through their call to action in the links that they share. So one possibility is to use a telephone number in the call to action so that when people click on a link that you shared on Facebook, they see the call to action that you included through Sniply. There's a button that if they tap it, it will actually trigger the iPhone or Android to make a call, so that they...
04:46 SW: You don't actually have to own the content, it could be any content, correct? It could be anything that's...
04:51 MC: That's right, it puts you on... And of course you're not altering the original content. That link, that call to action, the button lives in the link itself. And so you're creating a unique instance of that article. That article is basically wrapped in your environment that you control and that's where you can include your call to action.
05:10 SW: That's really cool. Because I think when I first started using Sniply, besides just the amazing ability to re-market, I didn't really realize that you could actually customize the content without actually changing the content. You could actually customize the experience for each user. That's huge because a lot of people are sharing links on social media, they're running traffic. They wanna make the ads look very native to whatever platform that they're marketing. So using a Sniply link or having a lead capture forum or phone number to call in, could be an amazing funnel just to get going, correct?
05:46 MC: Right, yeah. That's absolutely right. So one example we've seen really smart is Dropbox uses Sniply for HR, which is a really cool use case, 'cause they're promoting, they're trying to fight for talents. They're trying to get as many people to apply for their open positions as possible. So they're sharing links where publications are writing about Dropbox work environment or work culture. But of course just simply reading about the work culture is not a direct call to action, what they have is a direct call to action that they add using Sniply, that lands directly to their job page, which then they can target specifically to show a call to action for developers, or business development manager, so that they can cater that call to action and direct the 'apply' button directly to the job opening that they would be interested in. So the implication goes beyond just sales or direct conversion, there's also lots of non-commercial activities like hiring or, Greenpeace, for example uses Sniply to sign petitions 'cause you read an article about an issue and then of course, the natural next step is, "Hey, click here to sign our petition for the cause." And so there's lots of non-profit use cases, educational as well.
06:52 SW: Yeah. I would describe it as making content direct response, but building customized calls to action inside a content... And Sniply works really good on mobile, too, correct?
07:05 MC: Yeah, yeah. That's right. It works on all screen sizes, we have a number of different themes and basically these themes adapt to the screen size. On mobile it'll show slightly differently than on a tablet, than on a computer. And all of the designs are tested against conversion data so that we're always trying to improve the... We call it a "fine balance" which is you can't be too intrusive. It's so important for us that the visitor, that the focus is still on the article that it's still on the content, that when somebody clicks on the link the focus is the article they're there to read, and when they're done consuming the content, they have the opportunity to engage with a call to action. So everything we design is based on some percentage of how much of the screen should we take up, how visible should it be, and that's something that we're constantly improving upon.
07:47 SW: So most of the people who listen to this podcast, most of our listeners, are obviously e-commerce store-owners. So we're always trying to give them the most valuable tools to scale their campaigns, to spend as much money profitably. Tell us a little more about how do e-commerce brands have been using Sniply, what have been some of the best use cases for e-commerce of how companies have grown by leveraging Sniply?
08:10 MC: Yeah. So the best e-commerce use cases definitely what I have seen done are stores that are sharing articles about the need, why someone needs a product. So for example if you're selling clothes, for example, you might share an article from Cosmopolitan about fashion or fashion tips, fashion advice for 2017. And then of course the next natural step that the visitor wants to do after reading fashion advice is to go shopping, and that's a great opportunity for you to include a call to action with a link directly to your shopping carts. And so they read about fashion advice, they see the call to action, they click the button, and they land straight on your product catalog. E-commerce is a great and direct way to point people directly to the products that are most relevant to them, and it also works really nicely 'cause there's so much content out there, but in all sorts of different niches. So depending on what products you're selling, you can find the influencers or the brands that are talking about that space, the articles, the content is what generates the desire to interact, and the call to action gives them the opportunity to actually take action.
09:13 SW: So two strategies that we're using with Sniply is obviously writing, and writing a really cool... We take the actual comments off of a Facebook ad, of what makes a product interesting, and then we'll write actually a blog post about that product, and then link to that product using Sniply in the blog post. Then on top of that, we'll actually use that audience data and re-market to it. That's one of our strategies. And another thing we're doing with Sniply is we're getting articles in BuzzFeed and other content sites that where we can't place the pixel, and then we're using Pixly to re-market to audiences that we don't... Or on pixel?
09:50 MC: Right. That's absolutely right and I'd love to go a bit deeper into retargeting 'cause it's also one of our most popular feature in recent years. And to elaborate on that, normally for people who haven't worked with retargeting before, you can only retarget people who visit your websites. So Facebook gives you a pixel, you drop it on your HTML code. And so as you mentioned there's lots of great content out there that we're sharing on our social channels, but we can't retarget people who click on those links 'cause they're not our sites, and we can't drop a pixel on a site that doesn't belong to us. And what Sniply enables users to do is you can drop the pixel into your links, so then no matter what you share as long as people click on it, they'll be re-targeted and then you can show them ads based on the links that they've clicked.
10:32 MC: And so in your, for example Facebook page, you may be sharing different types of articles, again going back to the fashion example, you might be selling men's fashion, but also women's fashion. And so what you can do is based on who clicks on what and logically speaking, the men are clicking on the men's fashion article, the women are clicking on the women's fashion article, you can then tag both audiences, then retarget them using something like a Facebook ad campaign where you show a male-oriented ad, for the people who clicked on the male fashion advice article, vice versa for female. So it simply opens up the opportunity for you to retarget with curated links rather than just your own website.
11:11 SW: That's awesome. That's exactly what we use it for, and I tell a lot of people that I talk to about Sniply over the... That in the e-commerce space about how amazing it is. 'Cause all these companies they all get great press. They worked so hard to get press and some awesome publications. But the press, whether you're LA Times or whoever, they're not gonna put a conversion pixel for every advertiser they write about or a remarketing pixel on every one of their pages. So how you leverage that press or that social proof in your paid campaigns, and I think Sniply is the main tool to leverage social proof and press in your paid acquisition campaigns.
11:51 MC: Yeah. And that's absolutely right. Another extra layer that you get with that is the on-page analytics, so one thing we also look at is, normally when you're sharing articles from major press, you can get click data, so Facebook will tell you, "Hey, a million people clicked on this link." But you really have no idea about the engagement, what happens after they clicked on the link. Normally, if you just know a million people clicked on a link, what if the balance rate is 99%? What if people spend less than three seconds on the page? So what Sniply enables you to do is because Sniply keeps them on the link while they're reading the article, you can get interesting on page analytics such as how long are they spending on the page, what's the bounce rate, what's the engagement rate, how many pages are they visiting after they clicked on your link, and that in turn gives you the ability to revisit your content curation strategy 'cause then you can measure, "What content am I sharing that's getting the most engagement after they click through to the link?" 'Cause you want people to spend 30 seconds, maybe a minute, really absorbing the contents, especially if it's talking about your brand, and so it gives you more data to work with to further refine your retargeting campaigns, curation campaigns and so forth.
12:58 SW: From a measurement perspective, are you able to measure the amount of leads, or the amount of calls and attribute them directly back to a Sniply link? Is it...
13:05 MC: Yeah, absolutely.
13:07 SW: Okay.
13:07 MC: So within the Sniply dashboard, there's two pixel areas; one is the retargeting pixel where you can drop in Facebook, and Google pixels and so forth. The conversion pixel is generated by Sniply and that code you put onto your own destination website, so you might put that on a "Thank you" page, or on a check-out page. Within the Sniply dashboard you can set attribution windows just like how you work with every other conversion pixel, so you can say, "Anybody who clicked on my links, if they check out within 14 days I want to attribute that to Sniply," and so all of that is under the users control.
13:40 SW: Awesome. And what's the pricing model for Sniply? How does it work as far as how you guys bill? You guys bill like a monthly fee or do you guys bill based on amount of ad impressions or... Just walk everyone through that, that's interesting.
13:55 MC: Yeah. So the great thing about Sniply is we have a fantastic free plan and that's how we've ran for years. And so the free plan supports up to 1001 clicks per month and that gives you access to a lot of the features that we offer, and what happens is on the 1000th click, the alternative functions will no longer work until the following month. So for example let's say, you add a call to action on a page that is gonna show up for the first 1000 visitors to your links within that month and then you have to wait until the following month for that call to action to show up again. So the primary pricing model is depending on the volume of clicks that you're gonna serve through your links and you can get that information pretty easily, you can flip both in Facebook analytics or Twitter analytics to see how many link clicks you get on a monthly basis to assess how much you actually need from Sniply. So we offer a number of different plans. The basic plan for example is 5000 clicks per month, then it goes up to 20,000 clicks, 50,000 clicks, 250,000 clicks per month and they are charged in monthly subscriptions, but we also have annual subscriptions available as well.
15:01 SW: Awesome. Give us a little insight to what the future holds man. What is the future of Sniply? What are you guys working on in the laboratory? Where's the product going? You guys are obviously experts at marketing, content marketing for direct response, so give us some insight into what the future is, man, 'cause that's what I'm always fascinated by. I was like, "What's next? What's the solution that we're providing next?"
15:26 MC: Right, right. So Sniply runs on a basic concept where you come to us with a link, and we give you something in return. So if you recall back to the four years ago minimum viable product, you give us a link, we give you back a link with your message on it. We're taking that same concept and we're now working with video contents. Over the past few years as I'm sure everyone who studies marketing have heard, video content is just taking over, and so what we're doing now is we're working on a new artificial intelligence project. How it works is you give us blog posts and the system actually gives you back a video, so it creates some very interesting opportunities.
16:02 S2: Wow, that's interesting.
16:04 MC: 'Cause normally to create a video is very complicated. You gotta download a bunch of software, maybe hire an editor to produce the video and it could take days, maybe weeks. Our goal is you give us blog posts, and the system spits you out a video that you can share within minutes. And again, it can talk about fashion advice, going back to a previous example, and then adding the call to action to the video post through a lot of the new tools that Facebook is now offering or even a video ad. So you talk about the full circle. You're retargeting with Sniply, you wanna show them retargeting ads, but video ads are now really effective these days, but how are you gonna get the video? So we really wanna cover the full cycle of not just retargeting, not just content sharing and earn media and press component, but also the actual content itself that you're sharing. We wanna help users move into the age of video 'cause we're just seeing that videos can get you 10 times more reach on networks like Facebook, higher conversion and engagement rates, videos auto-play, and they work great on mobile, and you also have new video platforms coming out all the time like Instagram Video, Snapchat and so forth.
17:11 SW: Interesting. One other question, you're saying so much interesting stuff and you're just... My brain's moving at a million miles per hour. [chuckle] You're just lighting a forest fire of intelligence to my brain. So, I'm just thinking of other ways to leverage Sniply and I'm just curious, I know I'm going a little bit off-topic, but has anyone ever used Sniply for influencer marketing, literally...
17:35 MC: Yeah, for sure.
17:36 SW: Because I feel like we do a lot of influencer marketing and if an influencer could put a link and being able to re-market to all the people who click on that influencer link and that could be actually be a really unique way to measure the actual sales that could be attributed back to an influencer. Am I correct?
17:53 MC: Yeah, that's right. Influencer is definitely one major use case that we've seen as well. Another adjacent, but not directly similar is "internal marketing" they call it. So you're distributing a link to your employees for a larger organization. Let's say you have 500 employees, that actually becomes really powerful when you pass on that Sniply link, and have them share it to their private networks to further expand the network effect that you have to better tap into the audience.
18:21 SW: That's awesome. 'Cause we're always trying to figure out how do we attribute sales from an influencer link all the way back up the funnel, to where they came in? 'Cause then you can actually quantify how much you can pay an influencer posting their page. You know what I mean?
18:31 MC: Yeah, that's right. That's right.
18:33 SW: It's interesting. So it's pretty much all the questions that I have in my mind. You've done an amazing job sharing incredible intel. Sniply's a tool that we love. It's made our lives, as direct response marketers, so much easier by being able to direct link to Sniply links and being able to monetize all the content that we're sharing and running paid ads too. Appreciate you coming on our podcast. If someone is already using Sniply, who's listening to our podcast and they have questions, or is there... Or would you love to... Or if they wanna get a hold of someone at Sniply, is there any way to get a hold of you guys? Tell us the easiest way to reach you guys with questions, comments, or concerns.
19:11 MC: Yeah, definitely. So on the right bottom corner, on all our pages, you'll see a very easy way to reach out to us through a message box. Other than that, email is also very good, email@example.com. We answer every email generally within 24 hours, maybe slightly slower on the weekend. But we're extremely responsive. Everything from feature requests, to bug reports, we're always around to take care of everyone. Feature requests is one thing that we're especially excited about, 'cause we're always looking for ideas on what to build next, how do we make people's lives easier, how do we help you generate more conversions? A lot of the features that we built in the past have come out of feature requests. So definitely if you're an existing user of Sniply and you have some ideas for how we can make it better, firstname.lastname@example.org is where you wanna send them.
19:52 SW: Cool. Once again, Mike Cheng from Sniply, email@example.com if you have questions. Thank you so much for coming on our podcast and sharing your amazing wealth of knowledge, man. Hopefully we can stay in touch. And we use Sniply literally everyday here. It has been an amazing tool. Thanks for listening to our Spend $10K a Day podcast, and we will talk to you soon.
20:16 MC: Yes. Thanks for having me, and take care everyone.
20:17 SW: Yeah. Thank you.