Episode 18: Importance of Digital Engagement and Activation with Jason Reynolds

Episode 18: Importance of Digital Engagement and Activation with Jason Reynolds

Today we talked with Jason Reynolds from 3M about content development, SEO, digital engagement and activation.

About Jason Reynolds

Jason is the North American Marketing Manager for 3M Abrasive System Division, North America. When I met him he was in sales, selling diamond cutting tools for precision applications, such as aerospace, and the company was acquired by 3M. During the transition he became a sales training manager before jumping into marketing.

Unless you’re in this business, it’s very difficult to draw a correlation to how it touches everybody’s lives every day.

Jason Reynolds

Show Notes

[14:48] [Jeff Byer]

Today we have Jason Reynolds.  Jason is the North American Marketing Manager for the Abrasive Systems Division at 3M.  Full disclosure, he is my cousin by marriage – my wife’s cousin. He married my wife’s cousin and so he’s family to me.  When I met him, he was selling diamond precision cutting tools and the company that he was selling for got purchased by 3M.  He was doing sales and then went into sales training for 3M and now is the Marketing Manager. Welcome, Jason.

[15:30] [Jason Reynolds]

Thank you, Jeff and Matt.  It’s a pleasure to be here with you.  

[15:35] [Jeff Byer]

To start up, will you tell us a little bit about your role and what you’re doing for the 3M Abrasive Division?

[15:45] [Jason Reynolds]

Absolutely.  Like you mentioned, I work for the Abrasive Systems Division.  I work for a unique business within the ASD division. It’s Precision Grinding & Finishing.  It came about through that acquisition of the prior company that I was working for, which was the Winterthur Technology Group.  We came to 3M through that acquisition. We brought along with us a unique product portfolio that 3M really didn’t focus on nor have in their portfolio.  So it was a nice complement to their Abrasive’s product portfolio.

Currently, I am the North American Marketing Manager.  So I have responsibility for portfolio management, pricing, promotional strategy, new products commercialization, project management, for the key business segments for our Precision Grinding & Finishing business for North America.  So I work very closely with sales, manufacturing, application engineering, business services, as well as the global PG&F team, which is based out of Europe. Really, all in an effort to maximize our competitiveness [??:17:04].

[17:23] [Jeff Byer]

Specifically, I’m interested in what the end goal is of this website is that you were telling me that you created.

[17:40] [Jason Reynolds]

This was a digital activation project.  It really came about because of two things.  One is that we had a new, innovative, first-ever, 3D-printed abrasive product that we wanted to showcase, that we wanted to promote, that we wanted to get out into the market.  And then secondly, we knew that we wanted to revamp the PG&F landing page. And so it was really a two-pronged approach digitally with the focus being around that new 3D printed product.

[18:24] [Jeff Byer]

So not only introducing the product, but also gave you a good excuse to rebrand the whole division?

[18:31] [Jason Reynolds]

100%.  Our particular business segment within ASD, we had built out and developed the first-ever landing page about two years ago and at that time, it was really somewhat benign in content and overall call-to-action.  We met the objective of having the page but we really wanted to improve the content, improve the user experience, improve the call-to-action based off of that page.

[19:20] [Jeff Byer]

Can you tell me what some of the clients are that you work with?  For me, Abrasive System is just not…

[19:27] [Matt Ramage]

Yeah, I was also going to ask what the audience is.  Demographics, things like that.

[19:36] [Jason Reynolds]

Unless you’re in this business, it’s very difficult to draw a correlation to how it touches everybody’s lives every day.  But if you think about it, from waking up in the morning, from taking a shower, the fixtures within your bathroom, within your sink – to the car that you drive from various components of the body to various components of the engine, camshafts, crankshafts, valve-train components, gearing – to taking flights in aerospace market with jet engines, with landing gear.  So we get involved in abrasives on the precision side that really touch our lives and the products that we engage with, each and every day. It’s cellphones and the various components that go into the cellphone; the glass that goes onto that cellphone.

We deal with abrasives and precision abrasives that go into the manufacturing of those products that you would touch each and every day that you would drive, that you would fly in, that you would ride on the water, in terms of the boats.  We touch each and every one of those products with an abrasive product. We tend to get involved on the more precision grinding side of it, which tends to deal with engines, and turbine blades, and various engine [??:21:27} components, medical and you name it.  It’s quite a varied product group for about 5 key markets that we focus on. And our customer tends to be the process engineer. This tends to be the person that is overseeing the project, that is overseeing the manufacturing of their product. That’s who we tend to get involved with, to engineer a custom solution for their product.

[22:06] [Jeff Byer]

How are you targeting these people?  

[22:12] [Jason Reynolds]

A lot of it right now is through the various companies that we had previously.  It originally started out as Plant Dunnington, which was specifically super abrasives, diamond CBN products.  Wint was purchased by Winterthur. So, really, it was through the current customer base – the markets that we were involved in.  At the time, it would have been through literature pieces and catalogs that we had available at the time. If you think back to those days prior to 3M, there was really no digital presence, no digital strategy.  It was really through word of mouth and through our presence in the marketplace and how we were known in the market. So we really didn’t have a good digital presence.

[23:14] [Jeff Byer]

Can you talk us through some of the different digital strategies you’ve used to increase brand awareness and sales?

[23:23] [Jason Reynolds]

Absolutely.  We had an opportunity with Onset at the beginning of this year and it was really involving that two-pronged approach.  One, it was to really develop a digital strategy around that new product, that new 3D-printed abrasive product and then secondly, the opportunity to improve our website.  What we did was we had to define who are customer persona was and in doing so, you define who it is that you’re really marketing to, what you’re building this digital experience for.  And so without having that person, we found at 3M that you tend to not have a very focused or successful approach because it may be too broad-based. So we went through this customer journey mapping process.  Essentially, for this process engineer, taking this engineer from their original research and awareness to testing the product, to getting production [??:24:38], to full-scale up.

[24:41]

We took that engineer through the customer journey and we identified gaps in that process.  And we were much more involved in the back-end – so from testing, to scale up. Where we found the gap was in that awareness, was in that research, because we didn’t have good digital presence.  And so we identified two really main key areas, which was a need for improved research around our business, and then also a need for improved contact to be able to nurture that lead through the process.  It was all through the front end that we determined where the two gaps existed.

[25:38] [Jeff Byer]

Was this all internally, or did you guys bring in an agency to help you with this process?

[25:44] [Jason Reynolds]

We have a good team and set of teams at 3M.  So initially, in determining who are persona was, we used our 3M Insights Team.  They really do a lot of the research on these personas and what drives them, what motivates them, what peaks their interest.  We utilized the Insights Team to help define the process engineer and who we were targeting. And then we have a digital team at 3M, who I was assigned to.  It was about eight individuals strong who all have varying degrees of talent and things that they focus on digitally that I worked with to build out this digital strategy and presence for PG&F.  Really highlighting those two main components of the new product and then the PG&F landing page.

[26:52] [Jeff Byer]

With this new persona, what action items were your team going to take?  Was it the content or the messaging/advertising? Did your division perform all those tasks?

[27:10] [Jason Reynolds]

Absolutely.  We determined the two gaps, what we call epics, which is really around the research and then the contact portion, and we essentially put a strategy together – how to improve not only the content on the page, but to improve how much content and the additional pages that we had on the landing page.  But rather than be somewhat superficial, you go to a single landing page – there’s maybe [??:27:53] literature. We built out a full structure. No matter how the customer went and viewed themselves as doing research, we allowed the user, no matter how they came to our site, and no matter how they research, to get to the same result.  So whether they see themselves as an application, as a market, as a technology, essentially through the strategy and structure that we built out, you get to the same result.

And we did a lot of research on keywords, key phrases, within the major search engines that we are aligned with.  We recognized gaps within our content where we really weren’t relevant in searches. We were hitting about page three or four, which you guys know rarely does the user go beyond page one.  So we weren’t ranking very high in keyword searches.

[29:10] [Jeff Byer]

You would think that just being on a 3M domain would give you so much extra link juice and respect and quality, that anything you publish with a keyword would be automatically “1.”  It’s fun to hear that even with a huge domain like 3M, you weren’t able to get the rankings that you needed just by having a page.

[29:35] [Matt Ramage]

Is it a standalone site or is it a subsite under the 3M overall domain?

[29:46] [Jason Reynolds]

It’s under the 3M domain.  We had to follow some of the guidelines laid out before us and one of those is linking to the 3M domain.  But subsequently, we were also able to build out our own content, our own standalone pages, but yes, we are a part of the 3M domain within their metalworking page.

You hit a nail on the head.  Even with our 3M presence within the search engines, which we do carry a lot of weight, it just goes to show you that if you don’t have the right content on your page, it’s not focused content, it’s very generic, you will really miss the mark in terms of high rankings and SEO optimization with those keywords within our business.  We were missing the mark clearly and we knew that.

[30:57] [Jeff Byer]

Gotcha.  So we’re trying to find the page.  Is it the metalworking-us page?

[31:07] [Jason Reynolds]

Yep.  It is 3m.com/metalworking…it you type in “3m precision grinding.”

[31:22] [Jeff Byer]

That’s your keyword?

[31:24] [Jason Reynolds]

That’s the keyword.  I’ll type along with you.  And…

[31:33] [Jeff Byer]

#1 organic result.  And nobody is buying ads against it.  So you’re in a unique space there.

[31:41] [Jason Reynolds]

That’s right.  So we also recognize that we had the opportunity to own a lot of the keywords within our business and within the markets that we target, by just improving the content on our page and within the individual pages that we’ve built out.  Much of the look will change over the next two weeks. The project, which was a 12-week project, is coming to its conclusion in the next week and a half. So a lot of what you’re seeing now we actually improve even further. So it’ll be a nice new look, very clean, with some nice call-to-actions on each one of the individual pages.

[32:33] [Jeff Byer]

Yeah, this is great.  I just got in a Twitter conversation with Kevin Indig.  He’s in SEO at G2 Crowd and I was talking to him. He was doing a case study on somebody with a top-level domain, but all they did was change the quality of their content and they went number one for thousands of new keywords.  I was telling him, quality over quantity is now winning, especially on Google.

[33:04] [Jason Reynolds]

Absolutely.  

[33:06] [Jeff Byer]

Did you do any advertising or Social Media to support this?  

[33:11] [Jason Reynolds]

We’re working on that right now.  This digital activation is 12 weeks and it’s involved 6 individual sprints.  Each one of those sprints is 2 weeks long. And so they ad piece, the social piece, was a part of this last sprint.  Awareness ads have been pushed live and it’s really videos that showcase the 3D technology. We’ll also engage on a social front as well, to really improve the demand generation.  But a lot of other components had to be in place on the website – in terms of how we process an incoming lead, how they contact us, who it goes through. So, in going through this digital activation, it also made us aware that some of our contacts process was lacking and so we also took the opportunity to improve that because studies will show you that a nurtured lead or a nurtured customer will actually increase their purchases with you, in the total purchase amount, the more that they are nurtured along the buying process.  We are really doubling down on that to make sure that’s part of our customer’s experience by going to our site.

[34:56] [Jeff Byer]

I’m working on a blog post right now that’s talking about the customer journey and how to hit them in each phase of their decision-making process.  And how to categorize them, and change your ads, and change your content based on where they are at in the process. And you can tell where they are at in the process by the keywords that they choose.  There’s a guy who did this for his retail company and he created a spreadsheet that had a custom algorithm in it that would pick out. He would just run a report of the top thousand keywords for specifically what he was trying to target and if it had certain conjunctions or certain specific words, he was able to use this algorithm to assign it a stage of purchasing.  Whether they are just researching or…. So it’s fun to hear that you’re going through that same process as well.

[35:55] [Jason Reynolds]

Yeah. Absolutely.  It’s been a nice learning experience for me in just that.  And going through this customer journey, and exactly what you mentioned, is really now being able to look at the metric of what we’re doing digitally and then what kind of results that we’re getting.  Already, just through organic traffic, not really pushing any major demand, nor activities in terms of these [??:36:26] and the social, is we’ve seen a huge uptick from a little less than 200 hits a month to now over 500 hits a month over the past two months alone.  And we’ve not even really pushed anything live to generate that demand. So we’re seeing some really nice organic traffic just by improving our content and our relevance in search.

[37:00] [Jeff Byer]

Yeah.  That’s great.  Jason, what type of CRM are you using to nurture the leads and keep tabs on that?

[37:10] [Jason Reynolds]

So that is Salesforce.com.  And this was also new for us.  We have campaigns that we attach these leads and opportunities to and we found that we needed to have a multiple-campaign structure.  We needed to understand what was coming through digitally versus other legacy means. And we really wanted to track what we were doing digitally and what impact that was having, separate from what was coming in just through our legacy means – through customer service, through our sales reps, through things like that.  We really wanted to partition that and so we built out a multi-level campaign structure where we can really get at the metric behind both online and offline activities. And just like you mentioned, Jeff, is really to understand what impact that is having so we know what we need to adjust to improve our relevance, to improve search, and to improve the conversion ratio of the customers that are coming to our site.  This is really not something that we’ve done before and now the division is even looking out what we’re doing and using what we’re doing as a pilot. This is the SIPG division within 3M, which abrasives is housed under. They’re even looking at our structure and it looks like they will go live with that structure because of the metrics that you can pull and just the pure content that you can pull from that. It’s been a nice learning experience of going through this process.

[39:20] [Jeff Byer]

It’s fantastic.  And seeing how all you do is understand your customer and create a better experience for them and it pays off in traffic searches and engagements.

[39:34] [Matt Ramage]

It’s common sense.  You’re giving the customers what they’re looking for.  It’s a great thing.

[39:44] [Jason Reynolds]

It’s additional content.  The original website was somewhat superficial.  It had links to literature pieces but ultimately it just wasn’t a good overall user experience.  The user couldn’t go there and learn more about a market, about a product, about an application. It didn’t dive into other pages and relevant content.  And now what we’ve done is we’ve built that out. We’ve built out a very nice structure that makes sense and we’ve hit some of the key markets and applications and products to really improve the user experience.  And through those metrics, we’ll really be able to determine where we’re seeing some really good results, good hits on the website.

[40:41] [Jason Reynolds]

Each page will have a call-to-action.  So we’ll see what pages the customers are going to, what they’re engaging more with, and we’ll be able to double down on what’s working really nicely and then we’ll work to improve [??:40:57].

[40:59] [Jeff Byer]

That sounds great and sounds like something that a lot of businesses should be doing, especially Home Depot.  I can never find what I’m looking for when I walk into that place.

[41:12] [Jeff Byer]

We’re just right at about the end of our interview and one of our favorite questions to ask our guests is, “What tools are you using?”  You mentioned Salesforce, but what other digital tools, or otherwise, do you use on a daily basis?

[41:35] [Jason Reynolds]

Just our Outlook, moreso from an email standpoint.  We are using iSmart, which is a sales reporting tool, which was new for us.  We launched SAP in the middle of last year. So along with that came some new reporting tools that we’re utilizing.  We are using PowerBI, which is linked to iSmart and it’s a way to organize a lot of the sales information that you’re pulling from the system and be able to organize that in graphs and charts – things that are a bit more appealing to the eye.  So some very nice platforms that we’re still getting used to but provide us with some very powerful metrics, reporting, and analysis that we use to better our overall business.

[42:52] [Jeff Byer]

And I see in your keyword research you mentioned Moz and Brandwatch?

[43:02] [Jason Reynolds]

These are two platforms our digital team works with to do a lot of their research.  So it’s moreso them having been engaged with those platforms just to do a lot of the analysis as we’ve been doing through this digital exercise at the various stages.  They really utilize those platforms to give us feedback and to also provide direction on what we need to look for, how we need to write and adjust our content. And just make us more relevant.  Those two platforms were very useful for the digital team as we were going through this exercise.

[43:53] [Jeff Byer]

Wrapping up, where can people learn about you?  Learn about the products? Where should we send them?

[44:02] [Jason Reynolds]

If you just type in “3m precision grinding,” you’ll be able to go to your main website.  In another week and a half that’ll have a really nice look. So you can go there and go through all the pages and content that we’ve built out.  I would start there.

[44:26] [Jeff Byer]

Alright.  Very nice.  Well, it was great having you on.  Some great information. It’s fun learning how these worldwide companies are handling SEO and digital marketing.  It’s very fun, very educational for us.

[44:43] [Jason Reynolds]

Yeah.  It was a pleasure.  Thank you, Jeff. Thank you, Matt.  

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