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Capturing and Keeping Attention in Content Marketing (Episode 131)

Chad Reid is VP of Marketing and Communications at Jotform, a leading online form and productivity software used by 16 million+ businesses, creators, and individuals.

Chad has 10 years of marketing experience and earned his Masters in Communication at Purdue University. Chad is passionate about maximizing personal productivity and watching new developments in the no-code world.

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What you will learn

  • Chad shares his career journey and what led him into marketing
  • Chad unpacks the lucrative collaboration between Jotform and HubSpot
  • Learn why content marketing is a long game (and why the key to success is patience)
  • Discover a simple guide to writing a listicle post for your blog
  • Find out how Chad structured the SEO team of Jotform
  • Storytelling: Is it the most powerful marketing strategy?
  • Learn how Jotform increases the lifetime value of their customers
  • Discover how Jotform view Google Form from a competitor’s standpoint (this is fascinating!)
  • Find out why investment in technology is central to Jotform’s success
  • Plus much more!

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:03 - 00:00:52

Hi everyone and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show. Today I have with me, Chad Reid. Now, Chad is the VP of Marketing and Communications at Jotform, a leading online form and productivity software used by 16 million+ businesses, creators and individuals. Jotform started in 2006, so they've been around for a while. Chad has 10 years of market experience and earned his Masters in Communication at Purdue University. So he's a marketer that's actually done a formal degree. Many of us marketers today in the digital world just sort of showed up and started playing and learned along the way. But Chad has actually got formal qualifications. So he's special, Chad is passionate about maximizing personal productivity and watching new developments in the No Code world.

Welcome to the show, Chad.

Chad Reid

00:00:53 - 00:00:56

Yeah, Jeff, it's great to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

Jeff Bullas

00:00:57 - 00:01:47

So Chad, you're talking to us from Downtown, San Francisco, which is one of my favorite cities in the world. And we just talked about a place that we both knew about which is the wine and cheese bar at the Ferry Building where a lot of people commute across The Bay from places like Oakland and so on to get to work. And we talked a little bit about remote work, didn't we sort of said and because we're moving to a very interesting world of hybrid work, I think so, and you mentioned something about that the average commute of the staff at Jotform was 55 minutes. That doesn't seem very productive and Jotforms is about being about productivity, isn't it?

Chad Reid

00:01:48 - 00:03:46

For sure. It's been, you know, it's been some trial and error with this whole thing. You know, it's a new world and as a core principle we do believe in person collaboration and that's been something that has been a kind of a hallmark of Jotform and how we've designed our offices and how we work as a company. So it was a big disruption to experience covid and in that capacity and sort of align ourselves with remote work and facilitate that as best we could and now we're back in a position where, you know, people are slowly coming back to the office and we're kind of riding the fence a little bit. But you're right, I mean 55 minutes is a really really long commute time and part of that is because we hired during the pandemic. We had a huge hiring surge and we weren't necessarily finding the people closest to the office as maybe we would or would naturally have happened during a normal on site hiring period, but we were hiring the best candidates that we could that were, you know, reasonably close to the San Francisco Bay Area, which is a very geographically expansive region that has, you know, a bay and mountains and everything else. So it does create a really long commute time. So we're in a hybrid capacity now, we've structured the hybrid schedule to maximize productivity, where we have a certain teams on certain days and it's more focused driven, where we have in person collaboration in those days and then ultimately, you know, people who are individual contributors are still predominantly working from home if they're a writer or an editor of some capacity. So, you know, we're kind of learning as we're going along a little bit, but so far so good.

Jeff Bullas

00:03:46 - 00:04:01

Yeah, it's interesting that everyone's still trying to work out what hybrid looks like. And you mentioned that you try to make sure that your team turns up at the same time in the office, is that right?

Chad Reid

00:04:02 - 00:05:29

Correct. Yeah. And we have, you know, the marketing department has 4 sub-teams, soon to be 5 sub-teams underneath it, so there wouldn't be much value and someone, you know, coming in when the rest of their team or their direct colleagues aren't in the office in those days. So, you know, the partnerships team will be in all on one day, the content team will be in on one day, video team, the communications team as well, and then there's kind of an all hands day every other week and that's always an option if people do want to come in. We have, you know, a number of staffers who are in fact, we had a couple coming today, you know, it's in their off day, but the office is really nice and, you know, it's still a possibility just because we do have such a great work set up. We have a brand new office actually, maybe counter to a lot of the office closures that are making headlines, especially in San Francisco where the vacancy rates are a little bit higher. We actually leased a much nicer office than we had pre-pandemic. So it's actually really exciting for people to come in on those days too, which is nice. It's nice to have a good space. I chose the room without the window. I'm regretting that a little bit, the acoustics are better in this room, but the other windows, you could see that Ferry Building, in The Bay and The Bay bridge which is right outside which is great.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:29 - 00:05:30

Well, maybe we'll have a look at that after we finish this.

Chad Reid

00:05:31 - 00:05:36

Yeah, sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:37 - 00:05:56

I'm sort of missing San Francisco. It's one of my favorite cities and because it's quite walkable as well, and I think one of the best things that happened to San Francisco because I never saw it, was that I think there was a big freeway that ran right next to the water and sort of destroyed in the earthquake. Is that correct?

Chad Reid

00:05:57 - 00:07:13

it's one of the best things that happened to the area to be honest with you. I was just having this talk with someone the other day, you know, they placed this freeway in one of the most beautiful locations in the city right along the water. So yeah after it experienced the earthquake and I think it was the 1989 earthquake, they turned it into a like a flat predominantly pedestrian, you know, really wide sidewalk and it's made the waterfront accessible to everyone. And I think every city should think about doing that. It's so nice and it makes working right across the street from the embarcadero where that highway used to be. fantastic. I can't imagine it any other way because we do have so many nice things to walk to and just peruse along the water and honestly that's a big reason why we chose the office that we did. Our CEO who's Turkish actually, he's based out of our Ankara, Turkey office but when he spends time in the US Office, he wants a view and he wants to walk by the water as we all do. But that was very much a priority when we're looking at office spaces. We wanted something kind of close to the water so it's good to have actually.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:14 - 00:08:52

Yeah, I think there's something to be said for having a nurturing space to work in, you know, for me it's important and that applies to all sorts of places and spaces and restaurants. I'm happy with average food as long as we've got nice ambiance and it's cozy. Yeah, so but yeah, it's really interesting about creating spaces that are good for human souls and to help them be more productive. So I remember I went to Seattle for the first time and I went down to the piers and wolves down there and behind them sits like a three level freeway. And it just, I don't know, it's just something about the cars that date Paris, the cars in the USA, the fact is that the freeway takes over the human space almost. So it's anyway, yeah.

Anyway, we're going completely off. But yeah, so yeah, I think what happened that opened up the bay to the city I think was a wonderful thing. So Chad before we get into a little bit more about Jotform and what you guys do and Jotform started in 2006 and has been around a while and got nearly 500 employees. So what got you into marketing? How was that journey? Where did you start and why did you start your marketing journey?

Chad Reid

00:08:52 - 00:10:36

Yeah. You know, blind luck to be honest with you, I have a curious background I guess for a marketer. I studied journalism and history and undergrad. And then I had the full intention of becoming a professional rowing coach in the sport of rowing. So I followed a couple of jobs. One of which landed me in Oakland, California where I'm actually currently living, but the organization folded and folded in 2010. And then I kind of got to this point where I told myself I could follow more rowing coaching jobs, which by the way didn't pay very well, I could continue down that path, which would likely take me to a different city have to move again or I could just see what my background could potentially get me. So I was looking at Craigslist job searches which people don't even do anymore, but Craigslist for, you know, journalism just seeing what people are taking. So that I found really quickly that marketing departments everywhere need writers, people who can write well who can write on deadline. So I took my first entry level marketing job in 2011 and worked my way up and really enjoyed it. I mean it kind of gets to every part of my brain, the analytic side, the creative side that you know, if you're just hungry to grow something and build something and it kind of scratches a lot of itches. So it's been, yeah, it's been really exciting and obviously been very fortunate to be at Jotform for eight years now.

Jeff Bullas

00:10:37 - 00:11:42

So you mentioned the fact that you did journalism and you talked about that you moved into the writing part in 2011. So that was about the time that the likes of HubSpot rose up. David Meerman Scott had already written his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and we started talking about inbound marketing, which is content driven in other words. And for me, I discovered content marketing, inbound marketing. It sort of together. And as an ex sales person that used to do outbound marketing when you knocked on doors, literally cold call two hours a day before you started, you know, the other things like appointments was cold calling, right. And so that's the outbound marketing, you know, like chasing the customer whereas what I loved about David Meerman Scott's message and also HubSpot message was you can attract a customer with content and you sort of would have started your writing career and marketing pretty well start almost what we call the start of the revolution.

Chad Reid

00:11:44 - 00:14:38

Yes, I know it's fortuitous. The way the timing worked out for me especially, but HubSpot is a great example. And they're a partner company of JotForm but are obviously much larger, but we work with them really closely and we've collaborated on a lot of content with them where they've contributed to our blog, we've contributed to theirs and sort of worked in various product placements into both of our blogs, but they've always been the gold standard in software companies, especially SaaS companies creating content that really drives people. And it's evident in so many ways, I can't tell you how many times I've looked up something completely out of the blue. And HubSpot was the answer for that, even if it was not at all related to marketing automation or CRM, you know, I could look up ideas for you know, company party, I guarantee I haven't looked it up, I guarantee you HubSpot is in the top three for that or how to pick office furniture, they probably rank, who knows, right. Like they are content machines and they create a large canvas under which you can, you know, sort of funnel interest into HubSpot and certainly brand awareness. And we've taken a lot of notes and you know, we've replicated a lot of what they do to some degree. I'll tell you that Jotform me have a few distinct advantages over a lot of companies and that we have very strong SEO and we have a very strong domain like a top close to a top 200 domain strength in the entire internet. So that's given us some possibilities, I guess in terms of content, we're not as maybe diverse as HubSpot in terms of their playbook, but it's given us the green light to create a lot of content. So we're presently, you know, publishing 100,000 words of content every single month. For reference, that's about a 400 page book about that length every month we're producing on our domain. So really compounds over time and obviously the you know, with SEO, it's as is mentioned in some of your previous podcast, it's a long game. You know, those returns aren't immediate for a blog that we post this week, but you know, six months from now if it starts creeping up the ranking or the interest in that particular subject surges, it can really pay dividends. So it's been a worthy investment. It is a time consuming investment, but it's one that's been worth it for us for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:14:38 - 00:15:04

Yeah. Content marketing is a long game. A lot of people think they can rank on the first page of Google or number one within a few days or weeks. Authority, you can quite often, good domain authority, which you guys have. We don't write quite as many words as that. We maybe do 10 to 15,000 words a month, maybe 20,000.

Chad Reid

00:15:05 - 00:15:06

That’s a lot.

Jeff Bullas

00:15:06 - 00:15:09

Yeah, because we take the podcast turn into text as well.

Chad Reid

00:15:09 - 00:15:10

Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:15:10 - 00:15:59

I used to do all my writing initially. So I was a bit of a writing machine inspired by HubSpot and David Meerman Scott's book. I'm intrigued by when you mentioned the word and search engine optimization. And so what's your strategy with content marketing? So do you use SEO research to help you drive keywords that produce the messaging to get people to find you? What's your overarching strategy with content in the marketing team? Because as a VP of marketing comms you said you had five sub teams. So number one, how important is content marketing in your marketing strategy and also what is your content marketing strategies at a high level?

Chad Reid

00:15:59 - 00:18:22

Yeah. Extremely important to us. I'll start by saying I made a mistake or a mis assumption early on when we were building out content marketing in thinking that the people that we needed to come to write for us needed to have some SEO background or you know they needed to have some technical expertise or I was maybe expecting that the people who would come and do the writing for us would have as this arsenal of ideas on how to develop keyword research. And then you slowly realize that those are two very different jobs and both of which require full time effort. So we have a whole team dedicated to keyword research. We have a content strategy team that's actually housed under our growth team, which sort of works in parallel with our marketing team, and then on the marketing team we do all the execution for writing, editing and then there's a lot of collaboration and kind of placement and everything else, but with Jotform, our products can be used in so many different ways, and it is used in so many different industries that it's given a lot of flexibility and ideas for where to position our product more broadly speaking, and then create content that is going to drive searches for that used case or that intended used case that drives a lot of it and then periodically well you know, if we have a new feature, we'll kind of try to replicate the same thing, We have a new product launching, will try to replicate the same strategy and then yeah, it's been successful, you know, they can't all be wins you know, even post that sometimes we think or ones that even get a lot of traffic don't always turn into users. And then some of them, you know, kind of the inverse where maybe it was more of a throwaway post that we weren't sure about, but, you know, it turns out to drive a lot of new sign ups. So yeah a bit of a numbers game but definitely a lot of strategy involved for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:23 - 00:18:29

So you said you had the research team. So how large is that team?

Chad Reid

00:18:30 - 00:19:26

I want to say about half a dozen. I could be misstating. But yeah, we've built that team more and more. You know you have come to realize SEO is not free and it's not an inexpensive, you know, your organic search. And then some conjures up this idea of inexpensive marketing but it's truly not the case. We've invested so much in our hiring, our analytics tools for it, our agencies and freelancers that we work with to produce all this. So it's a big prodigious effort to get it done but it requires a team. I can't remember exactly how long our content strategy team is specifically but we've got a number on that team for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:19:27 - 00:20:35

So all right so let's have a little one area I really haven't talked about much before another. So you're going to launch a new product for example. So what would the brief, for the SEO team in doing research they would be looking for top key phrases that you think are going to be useful that rank for that product and then go and find. And then the other question that you can answer this any way you like. But then you go in and say, okay, we're gonna be looking for key phrases that you don't want to go for using great content, right. Key phrases only get 100 searches a month. That's not going to be a good use of time. So is there a strategy in terms of what is the search volume per month in terms of key phrases? And how do you find those key phrases? I'm intrigued by that because that's almost at the core of creating content to drive traffic to your website and rank on search for the new product for example.

Chad Reid

00:20:36 - 00:22:01

Yeah, there are a number of ways, I think almost more important than the volume, although obviously the keyword volume is very important. But what we imagine user intention is, or once we've identified with the user intention, you know, we do how to do something for something post designed for doctors or whatever that we've done the research, our product team has done the research that we know that this is why we're designing this product. So those how-to articles are really powerful, what would have been very powerful for us, our alternative post or competitor alternative post, and if we know we're entering a new market with a new product or a new feature that is going to be competitive in this various, you know, landscape, I guess then we do, you know, insert competitor alternative, or best insert, you know, competitor alternative post, and then that's a very, very high sign up intention or user intention post, right. People are actively looking for that, so that always makes it into our new launch or new feature launch, SEO strategy as well. Because those tend to be really successful posts. So yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:22:01 - 00:22:17

So what would that headline look like for your competitor alternative? I'm not quite clear what you mean by that. So what would a headline for that be? Like would you include the name in it?

Chad Reid

00:22:17 - 00:23:20

We would, I guess there's two ways to do it sometimes, yeah. And typically will write them in a listicle style. So in this particular case we obviously want to position Jotform really well and we're not gonna put Jotform in something that we don't think that we're the best at or think that we deserve to be a reference to the top, but we'll create nine Google Forms alternatives. I'll say them just because they, and then, you know, but sometimes that, in our product, within our product suite, we enter new spaces in which we're going to have new competitors, and we can sort of introduce those articles and because we have a strong domain and we've built up a really strong domain, partly due to the efforts with our content marketing, we're able to rank with those posts and then ultimately, you know, position ourselves well when people are searching for an alternative to our new competitors. So it's cool.

Jeff Bullas

00:23:20 - 00:23:29

So, that's interesting in terms of listicles as we've all discovered as content marketers over the years, that listicles still work.

Chad Reid

00:23:29 - 00:24:44

It still works. But you know what, I read them. I know I'm being gamed or click baited sometimes, but I maybe, I've just trained myself to enjoy them, but I really like this tickles that they're so scannable, you're getting so much information up front, you know, I think a lot of human nature loves the idea of ranking something, you know, we would love rankings, we just do even if it's a SaaS companies or, you know, alternatives or whatever, you know, you kind of want to see where things are measuring up. So I think they're inherently interesting to read. I like writing them too for that same reason. It's kind of fascinating to play around with things, but from a content marketing side list pickles are great and then they're not just from a search ability perspective because I think obviously these posts are searching are popping up really well within Google, But you know, as we've discovered as many marketers have discovered their great or generating clicks, you know, if you throw them in a newsletter or a subject line, those are going to be winners for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:44 - 00:25:17

Yeah. One of the tactics we've pursued over the years is writing alistical and we might be doing a collaboration with a sponsored content partner and we actually will write an article like Top 10, you know, forms to use, for example, use that Google. But then what you do is you put the, you're actually writing about your competitors, but you actually then put yourself as number one on the list because that gets about 40% of the clicks.

Chad Reid

00:25:17 - 00:26:51

Oh, the distribution between like, you know, as you click further down is enormous. I just, I don't know if I'm letting you in any kind of a secret here, but so back to HubSpot, right, HubSpot is the king of listicle posts. I mean, just the king, they do a massive amount of research, don't get me wrong, but they will have alistical for every single type of service that you can possibly imagine and they do this very deliberately. They're getting a lot of traffic, they're an authority. So people are reading this, but Jotform has been included in a number of these listicles and sometimes our placement within alistical has changed. Maybe we've convinced them that we were more deserving of the, you know, the second or first spot then the sixth or seventh for, through whatever means that we had of convincing them. But the difference that shows up in our analytics or what, you know, the traffic that we're generating from being listed three spots higher than that. Very same listicles is substantial. And you can see, you know, if we've gotten steady traffic for a period of months and then there's a jump and then it stays steady and you can just tell it's exactly due to that placement change. So yeah, to your point, it makes a big difference. Very, very big difference. Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:26:51 - 00:27:36

And we, when we talk to our partners and affiliate partners on that sort of thing, we'd say we're going to talk about your competitors in this post and they're going, no, don't do that. They're going, look trust us, this works. But we don't want to talk about, you know, you actually, you be number one, your competitors are ranked down the list, and guess what it works, it's because it just hits the corporate ego. You know, the company is like where number one just talk about us and going, well no one's gonna trust you because you're just talking about yourself.

Chad Reid

00:27:36 - 00:28:22

That's the thing, I mean it's so true. I had my own reservations about it early on too. I thought why are we commissioning all these posts that have so many competitors that we don't want to dare utter the name that were, you know, mass producing under the full knowledge that this is going to be read by thousands of people. We are putting our competitors there. But at the end of the day, of course, placement matters so much and we are then viewed or read as an authority and not only the minds of Google but the people who are reading it and we've done our due diligence and we're fair to our competitors and how we're positioning them but certainly, you know, we wouldn't do it if not for great benefit that we're receiving as well.

Jeff Bullas

00:28:22 - 00:28:32

You know, what you're doing is you just put a little bit more rose colored glasses on your particular product. Truthfully, of course.

Chad Reid

00:28:32 - 00:28:33

Of course.

Jeff Bullas

00:28:33 - 00:28:53

So you got the team doing research and do they come up with headlines or they give phrases to the writing team then? Is that the next step? Is it phrases or is it headlines? What's the engagement to an SEO and the writers then?

Chad Reid

00:28:54 - 00:29:45

Yeah, they create great briefs that will have keyword phrases, the keywords specifically. They'll usually have search volume next to each of the targets that we're going after. And generally SEO tends to win out on the headline unless it just doesn't make sense for what we're doing. And that's well, you know, we'll have some video power I guess if it truly doesn't, you know, if it means something different or whatever it is it doesn't read correctly. But generally it's pretty aligned, you know, and there's a reason that SEO is driving that because that's ultimately what people are looking for and we want to write what people are looking for. So it's very collaborative in that way and it's not too much back and forth if they have a great suggestion for a name.

Jeff Bullas

00:29:45 - 00:30:08

Yeah, you mentioned that one of your most successful strategies is to do case studies. So tell us, and the other question I have on that is where does the case study appear in the sales marketing funnel? So number one. So give us an example of some great case studies that you do and also how that appears in the marketing funnel.

Chad Reid

00:30:08 - 00:34:16

Yeah for sure. So we do case studies that appear on the blog at a minimum and will always appear in the blog. But we've also done a number that we've gone and visited the customer and done some great videos and we've produced nearly 30 customer case study videos. We have an in-house video team. So we're really flexible about this. We're very much a do it yourself company from the top down. I mean everything from product to what we offer to, I mean I can go on about that, but as such, we've developed our own video marketing team that would go on site, we visit users, but they're kind of three core things that I look for when identifying a case study subject. You know, one of them is, are they a high profile users or you know, are they name that people identify with or that will recognize and that's going to help the weight carry the weight of the case study a bit. Another one is identifying a core use case. You know, if we're trying to create marketing around how people are using Jotform for application forms and we really want a good example of a company doing that, then we'll target companies that are using it for application forms and, you know, if we find one that's willing and you know, easy enough to get to and says all the right things then, you know, we want to get them on camera and write about them as well.

And then the other one is, if they're just interesting or using the product in an interesting way or if they're visually grabbing or zany or just kind of something that we know is going to be interesting just by the virtue of them being a fascinating company or organization will kind of go that route So where they fit in the sales funnel for us, traditionally it's just been not sales per se, but you know, we're a self service premium product at our core and that's kind of how Jotform has been around for, you know, since 2006 only until recently we had an enterprise product that people go through one of our sales people and purchase an enterprise account, so we create case studies for that. But basically these case studies, they provide a lot of social proof and we really love that we can tell, you know, different ways to use our product and, you know, we'll put them out on Facebook or YouTube where we get a lot of use, you know, the blogs themselves, if we're highlighting a used case on how to, you know, create an order form that we want to be able to have that that case study in there. And we've had, you know, some reporting done on the fact that these blogs that were injecting video tend to convert a little bit better, you know, more people are likely to sign up for something if there's a quick video of a real user describing how they're using it. So we've had a lot of success doing that, and it kind of humanizes our product of it, you know, ultimately we're as interesting as I think online forms but our users are fascinating. I mean, just fascinating people and what they're doing and these, you know, solo preneurs are doing and these nonprofits who are changing the world in what they're doing, that's just inherently a better story than anything that I can come up with, so getting them to tell their story and then we're kind of interwoven into their story on how they're being successful, that's just great. It's gold. I mean, anyone that's watching that is getting a sense of, you know, what we're a part of just by through the lens of these great organizations or schools or nonprofits. So, yeah, I couldn't recommend investing in that more, it's been a huge part of our content marketing for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:34:17 - 00:34:23

Yeah. In other words, you're really doing that, you're actually getting to storytelling.

Chad Reid

00:34:23 - 00:34:26

For sure. Very much so. Very much so.

Jeff Bullas

00:34:27 - 00:35:24

And storytelling is much more powerful because it comes from a much more emotional place. So in a good case study that something really interesting, how they got there and maybe the problem that created it, whatever that becomes a very interesting story now. So the other thing I'm intrigued about is that essentially the funnel is really quite simple in one way, number one, you've got to get their attention. Okay. So you write an interesting article, so you got their attention. Now, the next part of it is that attention creates trust and credibility. The next part of the journal is okay, I need to capture a lead and then the last one is to convert that lead into a sale. So let's talk a little about, what some of the best tactics you use to actually create leads after you've got their attention through writing a great article. So what are some of the best lead magnets for example you use?

Chad Reid

00:35:25 - 00:38:02

Yeah, it kind of depends on how you want to classify someone as a lead with Jotform, you know, we make signing up frictions. I mean you can go from just learning about Jotform to using Jotform in about 45 seconds, you know, and we make sure that you can sign up using your Google account or Facebook and then, or if you just want to give a simple email address, you know, and sign up that way, you're creating your own username, whatever the case is, we don't ask for anything else beyond that. I mean we have optional capabilities when people are on boarding, if they want to give us industry information or title or anything like that, but at the end of the day we want people to be able to use the product immediately and we have a really robust free offering and we've always had that it's kind of a, you know, we have users that have used Jotform without paying a dime for years and years and years and years and they use this every month but they haven't reached a limit that would necessitate that they pay. So because we have that premium, you know, we have premium pricing worked out really, really well, that enables the people, we don't ask for much more than that really, if they see Jotform within an article, we tend to gravitate them toward a landing page or a sign up flow that makes sense for the use case. You know, if they're reading about order forms, we will have them link out to a template for an order form gallery or you know, a particular type of template or something like that or an order form landing page, that kind of gives more information about how to use it in that specific way. You know, we don't make it very random, but we have hundreds of landing pages that Jotform and I'm not exaggerating when I say that we have a landing page for every type of use case that you could possibly use it for. So we use this strategically within pieces of content but once they click that, you know, we want them signed up and then as they go through their user journey, they're going, percentage wise several of them are going to turn into paid users of those paid users, there's a number more that will turn into enterprise clients or they want you know multi license plans basically under a larger organization but it all starts with you know a really simple CTA somewhere within a post.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:03 - 00:38:07

And that would be basically a premium.

Chad Reid

00:38:07 - 00:38:18

Yeah almost everyone that sign up for free, very rarely someone will give us their money before we've asked for it but you know there are few and far between for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:19 - 00:38:33

So once you've got them signed up and the premium then they then become a paying customer. The next part is trying to increase the lifetime value of the customer, isn't it? So this is the phase, so what some of your tactics you do for that for example?

Chad Reid

00:38:34 - 00:39:30

Customer education, you know it's something we can all do better but I think we've put a significant emphasis on that as soon as someone signs up by the way they're getting a number of education emails and ways to use it and there are a couple indicators that if we get people using certain features or certain integrations, especially, it's going to reduce their churn, it's going to increase their lifetime value, you know, so those are great things to highlight. They obviously provide a ton of value, but to the user, but then we're getting better users out of it because they're solving more problems through their automation is that they're, you know, if they're, if they become a HubSpot integrated user, and they're discovering that within the first month that's in that ultimately is gonna increase their lifetime value for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:39:31 - 00:40:04

So in terms of competition in the marketplace, Jotform has been around since 2006 in a long time business, you're very targeted, very focused in what you do. So, and there's some elephants that have come into the room and the one I'm thinking of that is, but not that focus is Google. So, I don't know how long Google, you know, they start to produce, I think forms and templates as well a little bit, aren't they?

Chad Reid

00:40:04 - 00:42:00

Yeah, yeah. We've taken a pretty positive approach to Google Forms, for a number of reasons. I mean, we do proceed them, we were around for years before they entered the marketplace, you know, Google, they're in every market, right? I think that's fine. But for us, what we've realized is that they're expanding the market, they're not taking away from Jotform always, but they're largely expand, they're making the pie much bigger even if their slice of it is substantial and we feel that we have enough differentiators particularly with the customization with the advanced features because the fact that it is our sole focus and that we have an entire, you know, 450% company dedicated to making it better and they don't have a team that large making Google Forms better, Google Forms is Google Forms, they look like Google Forms, they're branded like Google, they're designed to do exactly what people want them to do, but if people ever look for Google Forms alternatives and again this goes back to this content marketing discussion, Jotform is going to be there waiting for them with with open arms and it's almost a symbiotic relationship in a way, you know, I think we're providing value to former Google Forms users and because Google has so much reach, it's easy for people to conceptualize the idea of creating their own form without a developer or technical knowledge so they've kind of planted that seed in a lot of people's minds that it should be possible so that's made it easy for us to be like yeah, you know, we've been around for a long time and we're doing this exceptionally well, so I've, you know, from a competitor's standpoint, you know, no problems with Google Forms. It's actually been been kind of good

Jeff Bullas

00:42:01 - 00:42:05

In other words, they've just increased awareness and created a bigger big ocean.

Chad Reid

00:42:05 - 00:42:09

Yes, Yeah. Created a bigger ocean for sure. Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:42:09 - 00:42:15

So, Jotform is a software as a service company, is that correct?

Chad Reid

00:42:15 - 00:42:16

That's correct.

Jeff Bullas

00:42:16 - 00:42:25

So were they always a software as a service company? Because that's the way we sort of moved in the last decade plus. Was there always a software as a service company?

Chad Reid

00:42:25 - 00:42:49

Yeah, I couldn't speak to the 2006 version of Jotform, predates my time quite a bit but, yeah, it always, there's always some version of Jotform, you know, being an accessible, you know, you sign up and get what you get basically.

Jeff Bullas

00:42:50 - 00:43:22

Yeah, and I've been working with a startup, actually right from the beginning of a company called Shadow Rock out of New Zealand. And they've actually, I don't know if you've heard of them, but they take static images just simply and allow you to turn it into marketing videos at scale. Very cost effective. And yeah, so they've labeled themselves as a CaaS, which is creative as a service.

Chad Reid

00:43:23 - 00:43:31

I could see it. I can see it. I wonder if, did they coined that? Because I feel like that's gonna be used all over the place.

Jeff Bullas

00:43:31 - 00:43:36

I don't know who coined it, but I do like it.

Chad Reid

00:43:36 - 00:43:37

I like it too.

Jeff Bullas

00:43:38 - 00:44:39

And essentially in one space the scale, it's almost a hybrid product in the sense that there are, there is human involvement, but there's also, machines and automation to help scale the creative as a service to create marketing videos and there you go. So that, but that has been fascinating to be with them on that journey. And I'm, you know, disclaimed, but I am an investor in them. But the other thing is, video marketing. Now you mentioned you've got a video team that goes out and does interviews. So how important this video to you and also what types of videos are using, are you moving a lot more into short form videos such as TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Short. So I'd be interested in what you think about, you know, video market and also about using 30 seconds or short videos in your marketing. I'd be interested in both those you can ask whatever, whichever way you want to.

Chad Reid

00:44:39 - 00:48:46

Yeah, we do it all, we have a very, try everything approach on the video side, and we've experienced a lot of success, but, you know, the same principles apply to video as they do for written content in a lot of ways. You know, I think we approach keywords in a lot of the same ways. The differences ultimately were generally driving people to our YouTube page and that's not hosted on Jotform.com. So we have to kind of layer in various steps to get them to consider or to click through to Jotform or sign up for Jotform through YouTube, which is, you know, the world's second biggest search engine, you know, and so we've kind of realized that there's a couple of different approaches, right. We can create a library of content that is SEO focus that we're going after every conceivable use case, that Jotform can be sort of injected into a conversation that we can authoritatively have and then you can look at product focus or things that won't necessarily get a lot of search, but they're going to be great videos embedded on our Help guides or blog, or if we want to put them in a newsletter, something like that, where they're announcing a new product. So we have those, we contract out some videos that we that don't require very much product knowledge, you know, there are agencies that can shoot 20 videos, 30 videos a day that we don't have the capability of doing that, or at least very well in house but then we use our internal team if we have anything that really requires a lot of product knowledge or high production quality, you know, we also do our own, well, maybe a little quirky thing about our marketing department, we film our own commercials, so instead of, you know, having an agency or a production crew come in and, you know, do something on a set somewhere. Well, you know, if we know we have a new feature or new product coming up, we kind of, we cast it internally, we find people to play various parts, you know, someone will be a spokesperson and they kind of talk to camera and we shoot it, you know, using our own crew, and because of that, we were able to flip them around a lot faster or be a lot more nimble about it because we have the team and the capability of doing that. So that's another, you know, just completely separate lens of our angle of our video marketing. And they tend not to be very long videos, but, you know, they kind of get the job done. But to your question about TikTok, we have started dabbling in TikTok and I feel like, you know, if you felt like overnight we all of a sudden we had 10,000 followers on TikTok and we, maybe I'm too old for it, I didn't expect that was gonna happen. But I was very pleasantly surprised. So it's like a completely different style obviously they're really sure they're their own thing but, you know, we've seen some success from that too. And then the YouTube investment has been super fun. You know, we've just been intentional with it, putting some time into it. We've grown our subscribers from, you know, I think a couple 100 a few years back to we're closing in on 25,000 subscribers now and because of the volume that we've recently done we're seeing a big surge in sign ups and views and everything else. So, you know, like I said it has a lot of parallels with SEO and written content. It doesn't pay off the next day. It's a slow burn but, you know, fortunately it does create some great evergreen content that all people will discover months and years down the line.

Jeff Bullas

00:48:46 - 00:48:58

Yeah, you mentioned again and its importance. So how much do you lose sleep at night on algorithm changes?

Chad Reid

00:48:59 - 00:49:55

Very little but I imagine managers probably have a little bit more stress. Yeah, it's tricky. We haven't been hit so hard. But I think if you're white hat and you're doing things the right way, you know, and you're intentional with how you're doing things, you're likely not going to get dinged too much, you know, but you know, we do have people, a lot of our team for sure has to, part of the job is staying up on trends and monitoring any changes and just being aware and making us adaptable. But yeah, you know, you never want to put all the eggs in that basket, maybe for that reason. But yeah, it's scary I guess huh.

Jeff Bullas

00:49:55 - 00:50:45

Well, it can be like I noticed traffic lifted on my side by 40% since beginning of August and I've sort of resumed my writing as we launched a new product called Side Hustle Strategies. A premium newsletter, monthly subscription newsletter. So more traffic means more leads driven to the Side Hustle registration page. Traffic increased. I looked at 40% in the last week. Now that could be a blip, but it's looking like a trend and it was very coincidental with what my, one of my tech SEO guys mentioned said, oh no, there was an update, July 31. Okay and I'm going, well, I'm happy. It's good.

Chad Reid

00:50:45 - 00:50:46

Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:50:46 - 00:51:29

Yeah. And have we changed what we do? Not really. Have we been hit before by other algorithm changes? Yeah, but it's just and we get up to 70-80% of our traffic through organic and that's the good thing about it's not a zero sum game you've got to invest and it's a long game and creating content is not free. So SEO is not free. So it turns out later is free, but that doesn't acknowledge that. There are years of creation that have gone on to get there.

Chad Reid

00:51:30 - 00:51:32

Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:51:33 - 00:52:50

So, interesting about video. Video is something that, I love the crafting of words and, but the other thing I enjoyed, you guys run a podcast because I started a podcast 2.5 years ago, which is this. So up to episode 120 plus and what I've loved about the podcast is it creates content at scale because it creates three different media and we can segment the video. And we're still early in like I think 2.5 years in is still early in, this is a decade game, decade long blame game for me. So hopefully I'll be still alive in a decade. But so, but it is such a long game, but podcast for me is, you know, it's text, it's audio and with the YouTube channel, it's video and then we carved it up into snippets and then we use social to share it. And what I love about podcasting is that I get to meet really smart people such as yourself, I get, you know, I learned so much, I learned more from doing this and I think most other people do. So I just love the insights that I stumble upon in having a fireside chat and a conversation, which I just love so much. And the side benefit is we create a lot of content.

Chad Reid

00:52:50 - 00:54:09

Oh, totally, yeah, no, you're speaking our language. We view it very much through the same, you know, through the same lens. We started a podcast, it's a big undertaking as you well know. Yeah, our video manager hosts doing a fantastic job. So I'm actually in our podcast studio and we have this as a backdrop because we did see the value not only in the fact that it's distributed on, on where people get their podcast, but also on YouTube. So we needed some sort of visual cues. So yeah, we have the podcast discoverability when people are listening to their podcast. We have YouTube, we do have, we tried the snippets to where, you know, we can make them a little more like bite sized pieces for social media and then I want to say we've, if we haven't done transcribe them and put them into blogs, we certainly will do that after talking to you about that, in fact, I actually noticed that on your site as well, that's yeah, that's great. You know, you get a lot of value out of the time spent creating it for sure.

Jeff Bullas

00:54:09 - 00:54:43

Look, I take notes along the way and I get ideas and that's the trouble is either a founder of marketing quite often get a lot of ideas and then you could distract your team by giving them too many ideas. So that was one area I actually wanted to touch on, is that how do you guys come up with new product ideas? Because customers tell you how they're using the product and going, oh, I didn't think of that. So where do your product ideas come from? And do you act on all of those ideas?

Chad Reid

00:54:43 - 00:56:10

Oh, we couldn't possibly act in all of them. I think a lot of it is, yeah, a lot of us driven from from customers coming to us with feature requests or realizing that they're trying to use Jotform in a way that doesn't quite fit in what they're trying, with what we provide and that'll sort of spin off into these other directions. We've had integrations, be a great source of inspiration for us from a product development standpoint. You know, we realize, okay, people are connecting Jotform to this service or a lot of services that are kind of in this category over here. But wouldn't it be better if they were housing or that they didn't have to leave Jotform, you know, once the form, the information is collected. Wouldn't be better if they manage that information within Jotform and you know, that's kicked off several product ideas basically where we knew there was value. We knew that we have identified the market or the use case because there are so many examples. We have, you know, the data of users that are doing this very same thing and then we provide the opportunity for them to do it without connecting to a different service. So that's been a point of, you know, that's spawned a few products as well.

Jeff Bullas

00:56:10 - 00:56:16

Does the product team sit underneath your umbrella?

Chad Reid

00:56:16 - 00:58:00

Completely separate. Yeah. So we, our product team is huge and it's divided into several sub teams basically. But, yeah, they're housed in our Turkish office as well as the biggest team within Jotform, our biggest department, I should say. Yeah. We obviously worked really closely with them, especially, come time to plan a launch and making sure that marketing is completely up to date on what the product is. And if we have enough runway in between, learning about the product and, when it launches, we'll give as much feedback as we can and identify and learn that the users as much as we can give feature feedbacks and all that too, yeah, it's a big, it's a big operation and that's one thing that a drop when we make a big emphasis of, and that's kind of something that's made us different than our competitor is we're such a product first company, you know, we haven't gotten stale, we're constantly churning out new features, new products and that's kind of kept us in news cycles. It's kept us interesting to our users. It's always given us a chance to provide a greater value to our users. You know, I think our users are, have been with us for a while. They're seeing a completely different Jotform now than they were five years ago, you know, before we had all these innovations that we've launched over the last few years and it's just something that we put a lot of resource into and it's kept it exciting from a marketing standpoint because we do always have something new to plan and it's not it's never been boring, I'll say that.

Jeff Bullas

00:58:01 - 00:58:08

And I'm sure Jotform started with a very simple product range of products when it started, I'm sure.

Chad Reid

00:58:08 - 00:58:20

Oh, completely, yeah, you know, our form builder was always our core, you know, it's still very much is our core, bread and butter product, but it's gone through many iterations. Certainly.

Jeff Bullas

00:58:20 - 00:58:42

Yeah. So what, so maybe just wrap it up, what would you put down some of the major reasons for Jotform success because they've been around 16 years, you've got nearly 500 employees. What would you put down as some of the top reasons for the success of Jotform? Why have they been successful?

Chad Reid

00:58:42 - 01:00:24

I think we're successful in part because we have been around as long as we've had because throughout our entire 16 years we've put so much of a product emphasis that when you layer on feature after feature and product after product and integration. After integration, you kind of create a moat where we have new entries, new competitors every year. We do, I mean, you know, you can see on product hunt, there's some company that says, hey, we just launched, we have a new way to create online forms. We have much larger companies, not just Google but much larger companies that build form builders as a sort of spin off to a product that they already have, you know, HubSpot has forms, Asana has forms, Monday.com has forms, but they'll never match our product, you know, 16 years worth of dedicated product development. And that's it's created such a major advantage for us that we've, you know, we've put the resources in early on that when you become a Jotform user you're getting something that you cannot get anywhere else, you know, if you have a simple basic need and you need, you know, six responses a month for your request form or something, you could probably get that other places. But once you really get into the powerful and advanced features of Jotform that's been, we have the luxury of 16 years worth of very intentional product development and that's, yeah that's what's made us. It's given us a lot of momentum, we'll say that. Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

01:00:25 - 01:01:03

Well that's right. So in other words I think this for companies especially startups as investment in two forms of moat Number one is trying to get market share as much as possible. And also number two is a technology depth of IP which is obviously what you guys have done in terms of developed products and then being able to connect them and integrate them with other platforms. So in terms of technology investment, how seriously does Jotform take that technology investment to keep evolving the product technically?

Chad Reid

01:01:04 - 01:02:02

Oh I think it's central to our success and I think that's very much been our CEO’s philosophy. You know, we were profitable, we're bootstrapped company by the way, we've never taken a dime of outside funding very different from all of our major competitors. In fact, we don't have a single bootstrap competitor, but if you look at our user growth, especially by percentage, it's been much higher than their, there's has been, especially recently, but a lot of that is because we've had the chance to reinvest into product development and that's why our product team has become the largest team within Jotforms because that's where we choose to, you know, reinvest and put resources and we have a lot of talent on our product teams. We're super lucky about that. And, yeah, it's been perfect for sure.

Jeff Bullas

01:02:03 - 01:02:07

So what's the future for Jotform? Is there any sort of exciting things coming down the..?

Chad Reid

01:02:08 - 01:03:28

Oh yeah, you know, without disclosing the secrets, we do have some launches coming up this fall that, we have a major product launch, I will say that that's going to reposition Jotform, I think rather substantially, we're entering a much bigger market, I'll say, a $3.8 billion market, which is much larger than the online form space. But we feel like we have something that's going to be different and something that again, a lot of our users have been scratching kind of a, you know, just almost using Jotform in the way that they need too so we realize that there's a real need for this, especially among our own users. So we're super excited. So stay tuned. We think early October, there'll be a major launch from Jotform and then beyond that, you know, just onward and upward, you know, we have a lot of momentum. We just rebranded last year, you know, we crossed these, major milestones of, you know, 15 million users and, a billion form submissions over the, you know, we keep layering on all these fun metrics, but it's gonna keep getting better for sure.

Jeff Bullas

01:03:28 - 01:03:49

Look forward to seeing what emerges out of the future.

Any final words to share with our subscribers or viewers about marketing and how to succeed at marketing and grow our company. Is there anything that you've learned along the way that you'd like to share before we wrap it up?

Chad Reid

01:03:50 - 01:04:16

Don't be afraid to experiment, you know, and take risks. And I will say fortunately we've been given the green light a lot at Jotform and we have a CEO that's very enthusiastic about marketing but, you know, I'd say try things and follow your instinct, that's really benefited us and many marketers before us.

Jeff Bullas

01:04:16 - 01:04:24

And the other thing I did hear you say before was one which is close to my heart is play the long game and persist.

Chad Reid

01:04:25 - 01:04:27

Absolutely, yeah,

Jeff Bullas

01:04:27 - 01:04:49

Yeah. But thanks, Chad, for coming on this show. It's been an absolute pleasure. I've learned a lot, I’m taking some notes and I look forward to maybe catching up in the Ferry Building one day or the office next time I'm in town, okay. Thanks very much. It's been an absolute pleasure, man.