What skills should UX and content marketing people focus on?

Omnichannel Podcast Episode 15

In this episode, we hear from Mariah Obiedzinski, AVP of Content Services at Stamats. 

She and Noz Urbina discuss current and upcoming trends in the omnichannel space, including crucial methodologies and technologies that drive results.

“The ability to listen to what your audiences are doing. What they want from you and what they’re asking before they’re forced to ask. Being proactive and translating those findings into real applications. Keeping that relevance and your user experience top-notch at every point you can will drive that brand stickiness and loyalty generating even more positive sentiment over time.” – Mariah Obiedzinski


What you’ll learn

  • Omnichannel Strategies: Understand the importance of connecting with your audience across various channels and how to ensure consistency in your marketing approach.
  • Content Research Techniques: Learn how to implement social listening, short surveys, and face-to-face interactions to gauge audience needs, helping refine your content strategy.
  • Customer Journey Mapping: Discover how user journey maps can pinpoint key moments to enhance with personalised, value-adding content.
  • Collaborative Governance: Gain insights into effective cross-departmental collaboration and top-down governance for better alignment among marketing, PR, design, and more.
  • Technology and ROI Optimisation: Learn how platforms like Marketo and Sprout Social can improve your data strategy while providing measurable ROI through increased conversion rates and sales-ready leads.
  • Audience-Centric Personalisation: Explore how to use data such as personas and behavioural triggers to personalise content for specific audience segments effectively.

Also listen and download on…


Noz Urbina
Noz Urbina
Urbina Consulting

Full session transcript




Noz Urbina  00:02

Hello, everybody. I’m your host Noz Urbina, and this is the omnichannel podcast brought to you by omnichannel x, where we interview leading minds and content design governance and systems from around the world. If you like this episode, remember to like and subscribe on whatever channel you’re using and check out omnichannel x dot digital. For more info on our annual conference blog and mailing list for exclusive offers and content. Now enjoy the show. Hello, everybody. Welcome to this episode of the podcast. I am very I am Noz Urbina. I’m your host for the day, and program director of the omnichannel X conference and, and podcast. I have with me today, Mariah all Budzinski, Senior Director of Content services for stalemates. Hi, nice. Hi, there. Hi, Brian. Thank you so much for joining us, I’m really excited to have you. Mariah was top rank 50 influential women in marketing, and also three times cm world speaker, and who has quite an interesting background, and and recognize expertise in our space. So without any further ado, I am going to pass over now and start introducing it to our guest speaker for the day. Mariah, please can you introduce yourself to our audience and tell them a little bit about about what you do?

Mariah Obiedzinski  01:24

Sure, as as NAS mentioned, I’m Mariah Oba Jetski. I’m the Senior Director of Content services at stalemates. We are a fully functional end to end Marketing Services Agency, primarily working in that education, health care and b2b space. So we cover all the bases. Right now I manage a team of content strategists and writers, we create functional, thoughtful web content, which includes content marketing, blogs, podcasts, social static web content, you name it,

Noz Urbina  01:52

what brought you into this into this area?

Mariah Obiedzinski  01:56

Well, I spent a lot of years as a marketing assistant and really enjoyed that helping to create and deliver that the content that we would get from our clients, both internal and external, I spent a lot of time in the healthcare space several years before transitioning to more of a leadership role. And in that capacity, I led to several teams that created enterprise content for mostly academic medical centers around the US. You know, I wanted to really diversify, get into a kind of a new challenge. So stay mates really offered that opportunity for me to expand outside of healthcare, into that b2b and ad space, as well as the retail market. I found, you know, over time, they’re, they’re wildly different markets, but there’s a lot of crossover opportunity, a lot of similar channels, just kind of a different way that people use them,

Noz Urbina  02:42

I think that’s something we we often get a bit too stuck on is imagining that each, each industry is so unique, when if you do work in big agencies, or you do have a diverse background, us, there’s so much commonality, and we have a lot more to learn from each other than then there is that it’s different.

Mariah Obiedzinski  03:01

Absolutely, absolutely. And you know, especially in that user experience space, and in terms of call to action, how people get from point A to point B, their preferences, whether that’s which channels they want to use, whether that’s video or text, you know, audio or video, whatever it might be, there is so much that’s different between just the the industry or the vertical that you work in, but the demographics of your audience, you know, age, gender, all of those things, and then those, just the just the journeys that are so, so different, but so unique, you know, for example, healthcare, there’s a very specific journey that people use, you know, when they’re researching who is going to take care of me who’s going to take care of my children, as opposed to, you know, am I going to buy this type of sneaker or that type of sneaker, it’s it’s different, but a lot of the same decisions have to be made just at different points and different levels of of importance.

Noz Urbina  03:52

Yeah, I think that’s a the research one is a great example. You know, option comparison, you know, taking on a complex product, regardless of what kind of product it is. There’s a lot of commonality there. So, speaking of commonality, and in the space it Where do you think organizations should focus their attention? Now, for the greatest long term payoff is so many challenges that are coming out in the market that are presented by omni channel changing market expectations, more technically literate customers? In terms of methodology and skills? Where should people in user experience marketing content marketing generally, where should we be putting our putting our focus? That’s a really

Mariah Obiedzinski 04:45

good question. I think, I think really, it comes down to the ability to listen to your audiences to listen to your colleagues internally and externally and really connect with people and forge relationships. That might sound like kind of a soft answer, but it really encompasses all lot of the work that we do in marketing, and public relations and sales and just about every branch of that an agency or a vendor would work with, you know, live events, content marketing, digital experiences on the site, that user pathway, just really the ability to listen to what your audiences are doing, what they’re wanting from you what they’re asking before, they can have the chance to ask it or before they’re forced to ask you, being able to be proactive, you know, really knowing them, and then translating those findings into real application. So keeping that relevance, keeping that user experience top notch at every point that you can really drive that brand stickiness, and that loyalty, generating even more positive sentiment over time.

Noz Urbina  05:41

First of all, I want to comment on the on the relationships being a touchy feely thing, you know, as as a as the program director for a conference that is specifically set its mission to improve the the brand audience relationship at scale, I want to put put my hand on my heart and say that I completely agree there, that that is central to moving forward in a better way. Relationships with any institutions these days are are delicate things and maintaining trust, and building and maintaining trust are essential in those relationships. You said some also some things about that kind of put an emphasis on research. What both research and continuous monitoring is what I got out of what you were saying, Are there particular kinds of methods for how you get how you how do you listen from? Like, how do you listen to that, when you talk about that? Are there particular methodologies or, or processes which you’re seeing taking on that are helping?

Mariah Obiedzinski 06:43

Yeah, so I guess I would bucket that into two, three chunks. And two of them people are probably very familiar with and the third is a little bit newer, but the first two is just, you know, being out there being in front of your brand. So across all of the verticals, that stalemates works in, we are always out there at conferences, we’re always at on site visits with our clients. We do a lot of networking events where we’re getting in and we’re mixing around with people, you know, what are you looking for? It’s not always to drive sales. It’s really to just connect with our audience and say, What are you looking for? What are we giving you that you enjoy? What are we not giving you that you need? And just having those face to face conversations? I think another opportunity, really is that touchpoint people don’t always think about digitally just asking, you know, we do a lot of surveys with our audience, just keeping them very short one to two minutes. And it’s always optional. You don’t have to, like, you know, sell your soul to Google to get information and to give information. But we always ask, I mean, just the worst that people can do not respond. And so that’s that’s telling in itself. But you know, the third thing is, is social listening, that is really critical for agencies success. And for vendor partners success. It’s just crowdsourcing that user generated information, it’s not creepy, it’s not weird. It’s things that people are just saying out into the social atmosphere, and that public space, but the ability to gather all of that information and really drill it down to what matters to the segments that you’re looking at, whether it’s prospective students, whether it’s individuals in a certain industry, whether it’s buyers, at a certain point in the user funnel, you can use that data to proactively connect with your audience and really increase your credibility in the space. But more importantly, you know, as you alluded to earlier, give those users and give those potential users an opportunity to have a really great experience with your brand.

Noz Urbina  08:30

I’m fascinated by social listening, I think is, especially for enterprise customers, which is the ones I’m most familiar with, is a big one. And online surveys, but I’m actually the first one I was most interested when you say actually kind of face to face. Is it like almost informal contact, just literally like, because there’s a lot of philosophy around the human beings in the brand, representing the brand. So you’re actually getting out there and making like human to human contact?

Mariah Obiedzinski 09:02

We do. Yeah, absolutely. So we we have a b2b arm of our business. And a lot of the functionality that goes into that is being out at conferences, being out at trade shows, we host a lot of hosted buyer events where we’re actually inviting individuals in the industry and individuals that are, you know, third party sales or distributors to come and do speed networking. It’s almost like speed dating, where we partner them up one on one, they can just sit and have conversations together. We can come in and have conversations as well. But we’re really there as the host, we’re really there as the the friendly liaisons, you know, we’re not trying to sell them anything. We’re not trying to, you know, butt into their conversations. We just want to help people make those connections. And you know, if we, if we were remembered as the group that helps them make those connections, all the better for it.

Noz Urbina  09:49

I have not heard an agency like that, using those kind of techniques before, honestly. So I think that’s great. I really love it. The fact that you’re doing the human touch like that I’m, on the other end of the spectrum, what technologies are becoming? Or what do you think will become more viable for the medium to large enterprise that should be high on our list to be exploring,

Mariah Obiedzinski 10:12

I think anything that has an algorithmic component, and I say that, you know, take that with a grain of salt, because in a lot of articles, and a lot of studies have been coming out in the last six months or so that really talks about bias and inherent bias that goes into the creation of these algorithms. You know, I think in anything that is human made, you’re going to have some sort of bias. I think, using platforms like Sprout Social, using platforms, like HubSpot, that give you the opportunity to mass mass gather data is is really a wonderful tool that people can use. But it should be used as a guideline, and not necessarily indicative of everything that’s happening. You know, there are a lot of segments out there in our population that are underserved, or that might not be represented as much. And then it also comes back to the teams that are distilling that data. So when we work with data like that, when we work with things that our audience team gives us, our research team gives us we try to create a very diverse internal panel as well. So we have men come in, we have women come in, we have people of color come in, we have just, you know, different age groups come in and look at this data from our from our own company, of course, and say, What do you take away from this personally, what’s your idea about this personally, and just really try to get as holistic as we can a view of that data before we go and report back to the client. You know, especially because we work with clients all across the country, in the US, our population here is so diverse, it’s just very important to have all of those points of view, considered and represented in that data.

Noz Urbina  11:43

If you’re interested in how we balance that data versus getting through the bias, blind spots in the data, turning people too much into numbers rather than people. Then one of the previous sessions we’ve recorded to actually, with Gina Balor. And, and she’s, like, specialize in that area. And she had some really cool things to say about how how personas that we develop are maybe a little bit inadequate, because they become demographic data, snapshots, rather than talking about real human motivations. And how you need a balance between real research and the kind of humans stuff that you that you’re doing at stalemates versus the data data informed. And I think I think we’re, there’s a big enthusiasm for everything algorithmic and everything automatic. But we, you know, we’re realizing that it’s not there yet, we’re not, we’re not in a position to be throwing our jobs over to the machines quite yet.

Mariah Obiedzinski 12:49

Oh, yeah. And a couple of years ago, at a conference that I spoke at and attended the the rest of the sessions, much of the conversation was that nervousness about oh, AI is going to come in, it’s going to take all our jobs. But I think the way I look at it is it’s going to give us it’s going to take away some of that administrative process of distilling information, or, you know, gathering that information and giving us more time as human beings with our own emotions and our own backgrounds and perspectives, to really distill it out and make sense of it, as opposed to spending all of those hours just gathering it and then having to rush that analysis portion.

Noz Urbina  13:23

There’s so much grunt work still, even even if you’re like a high level professional today, in a, in a job, content professional, there’s so much junk we’ve got to do to get everything together to be able to think, and I think anyone can identify someone who has an excess of that time where you’re able to think and reflect.

Mariah Obiedzinski 13:48

Oh, yeah. And we’re finding even with our interns, we have a lot of students that come to us in college and want to, you know, get into marketing and omni channel marketing, you know, 10 years ago, we might have had them pushing paper. Well, now we have them doing, you know, alongside of us, of course, that working very closely with us on parallel strategies and, you know, helping helping us distinguish, you know, what does this mean from your age, from your perspective as as an individual at this point in your life and having them help us not just post things and publish things and, you know, gather reports, but really get in there and get involved and I think it’s a crucial thing for students for people young in their career and people older in their career to to always have that curiosity to learn and always look at data differently no matter where it’s coming from.

Noz Urbina  14:33

Oh, that’s, that’s great. Its value, its value added work. Absolutely non value added work. So, another thing about the AI and content is that a, if anyone’s scared of AI is taking the job. You can always remember that any intelligence, whether artificial or organic, has to learn from something. And so there’s always going to be a demand for content because the all these all these intelligences which are being created, they need to be able to ingest sensible structured content so that they can make sense of the world. And so if you are in content or designing content or something, user experiences, I think there’s still quite a lot that these new artificial consumers will still need from us.

Mariah Obiedzinski 15:24

Oh, definitely. And there’s so many tools that can put together a baseline of an article or a baseline of a piece for you, you know, outline it, grab information off off of the universe and put it together into something simple and generic. Well, anybody could do that, you know, anybody on your staff could do that, whether they’re a content strategist or not. But when you use the power of AI, and you use those tools to create those baselines, you can see what everybody else is doing. I mean, that’s what it’s grabbing. And then you can make that information your own, whether that’s incorporating people in your audience to put in their input, whether that’s just taking it and finessing it, and adding your own data. But it gives you the opportunity to see what people are doing out there in the world and differentiate yourself from that. And that’s, I guess, that’s why I’m not nervous about AI taking my job by any means. Because everything that is human to human ultimately needs that human touch before it can be effective. That’s all

Noz Urbina  16:17

like all great stuff that you know, that will help us move forward. What do you think, conversely, is holding us back from preparing properly? What do you what are you seeing as a recurring anchor? That’s that’s holding up in the past?

Mariah Obiedzinski 16:29

Yeah, I mean, small to large, the clients that we’ve worked with across all the industries have always come to us with one concern that these programs that they can use to get that sort of data, or even the CMS programs for some companies are just cost prohibitive, they can’t, they can’t afford the license year to year, they might be able to afford at once, but that doesn’t do them any good. And you know, 2025, or 2030. So we found a lot of success in kind of a co marketing approach. So as a corporation, as it as an agency, we are able to offer our clients access to some of those tools, we flip the license, we take care of all of that, and we can help them access the power of those tools without them having to pay for that license on their own. Especially because so many organizations don’t have that sort of specialists, on staff to really know how to use all of the functionalities there, we provide all of that for them, and just kind of share. So, you know, we can help them with their financial aspect. And they help us by sharing their different fresh perspectives, that allows us to use that to really bring out the creativity in their project and make it super unique for them.

Noz Urbina  17:34

But it’s an interesting approach. So just by offering a wider both technology and humans and consultative service, you’re getting over what you what you perceive to be one of the biggest hurdles.

Mariah Obiedzinski 17:47

Absolutely. That kind of covers two hurdles, I guess,

Noz Urbina  17:50

I find it fascinating, you know, I I’m a little bit biased in my perspective, because I tend to work with the larger companies, but I do look at the price tags for some of these systems, and it makes your eyes roll back in your head. And that’s just license implementation and configuration are then can be a couple times that so it these these brands are spending, that is definitely a market. You know, we there’s definitely need. I always wonder whether the brands who are investing are getting the value out of it.

Mariah Obiedzinski 18:28

Yeah, that’s a that’s a really good point. And we’ve found that, you know, the value, the cost, the price tag of these programs is well worth it, if you have the staffing and if you have that expertise. So we’ve worked with several agencies that have larger status than ours, that that are just like, Nope, we’re good. We’ve got it. And we’re like, great, and we can learn from them sometimes. But the majority of organizations just don’t have that kind of budget. So if we can kind of share across, it just makes it all the more, you know, better of an experience for everybody the outcomes are better.

Noz Urbina  18:59

Yeah. I, I cannot say you know, that I have seen many organizations who are even getting half the value out of the amount of what their systems can do. And these are the top top end systems, global brands, and they’re like they’re highly capable theoretically. But they’re using it to, you know, load webpages or just do some very basic personalization based on some very kludgy parameters, nothing sophisticated nothing, but it’s really worth all that investment that they made.

Mariah Obiedzinski 19:41

Tools like Marketo, we use Marketo a lot and we love it. We love all of the functionality and the data that it minds it’s just phenomenal. We’ve seen organizations that have invested in similar programs and they’re sending you know, onesie twosie emails, and it’s just kind of heartbreaking. I guess from that perspective, like oh you you are selling a lot for this and it is so worthwhile. But you have to have that expertise to really drive those strategies. And a lot of the time when we’re working with groups, we’re not necessarily doing the work for them, we’re really working on a consultative basis, where we can teach them some of the ways that they can use their programs that they’ve already invested in. They’re already, you know, quote, stuck with for some time, and help them get more out of it,

Noz Urbina  20:21

trying to get an amen, because I, it’s really, I find that frustration when you go into client when you can see that the the agencies have created intentionally created dependency,

Mariah Obiedzinski 20:34

oh, you need this, you need this, and you need this. And now how are you going to pay for it? Oh, you know, we’ll be here we’ll help you. Yeah, it’s just not a friendly approach.

Noz Urbina  20:42

Yeah, no, I think intentionally keeping the client ignorant, so that you can continue building is just not a long term, they’re going to realize what’s going on? And even if it’s 10 years or something, I don’t know, I just don’t think it’s the way well for you. Yeah, it’s not gonna Well, it’s not gonna end well for the brand. So I’m glad to hear an agency’s saying that. So I want to talk about some of the bugbears which I see and want to know if you’re seeing them, because they also, I’m also picking up on some of the repeating issues that I’ve had on some of the other podcasts, particularly personas has been coming up. And I you do a lot of diverse work a lot of different types of organization. And do you work with many departments within those organizations?

Mariah Obiedzinski 21:34

We do a lot of the time. So PR, and communications and a lot of our groups are are separate entities, which has kind of always been mind boggling to me with a journalism background. But we found there’s a lot of miscues, there’s a lot of lack of communication between those groups. And so we work with kind of like a liaison, I guess, between the different parties. And that works out really nicely for us, especially when we’re doing a large, full web redesign project with a client which can get super heated and super political. But we oftentimes will serve as kind of the liaison, the friendly neutral, the but the authoritative, you know, this is what has been decided, you know, globally, between multiple different organizations. So PR, communications, it design and development, just for starters, then you get into the upper level stakeholders, the C suite, and so forth. But it has to start from the top is what we found, and that trickle down has to occur before anybody can really feel good about communicating their wants and needs back and forth, and then really having those tough discussions about what’s necessary versus what’s it just nice to have.

Noz Urbina  22:41

So when you say it’s got to come from top down, for me, that’s a governance concern, which has to do with Do we have the structure in place? Do we have the buy in in place? And do we have the clear accountability in place, so that people are aware this is happening, you know, we’re going this direction, there is a strategy, and you’re part of it. So any questions or concerns do do the following. I find that that’s very, very difficult to come by. And then a lot of organizations are still trying to fight kind of a grassroots up, because the user experience or content or design, or any of the things that we talked about, at the conference, they’re still not, except for, I’m not gonna say unicorn, because it’s, it’s better than that. It’s better than it was 10 years ago. But there’s still a lot of organizations who just don’t see that as their business, they see their business as, I don’t know, making widgets selling this kind of service, whatever. And all this extra experience, the content, the stuff is a cost like they have to pay for plumbing, or the building, etc. Are you are you seeing like a positive shift? In that? Top down awareness? And by him?

Mariah Obiedzinski 24:03

Yeah, we really are. And I think a lot of it is to do with, you know, the availability of more data. So oftentimes, when we go into an organization, whether it’s a hospital or a manufacturer, or a college or university, we get that as our first line of defense, you know, this is who we are, this is what we’re about. And this is what we want to talk about. So when we can show data that says, you know, okay, we can try that. But here’s what’s going to happen, and we do some testing, and we bring to them, you know, this type of content or this design that is very org centric, or organization centric, has, you know, very little effect, you’re not getting the conversions you expected, you’re not getting the engagement. But when you show them the B test, the very user focused the audience focused content design development queues, and they can see that big shift where people are engaging because they’re getting what’s in it for them. They’re getting that information they need that really has allowed us to to come in stronger and have a better baseline to say, Okay, this is the best business decision, not just haha, we win, like, you know, agencies might have in the past, you know, we know this is a best practice because well now we can show this as the best practice because this is what your audience is reacting to.

Noz Urbina  25:16

Yeah, I think the I think that’s great. I think that the, we do have more ability to and rapidly and lot as expensively as we would have two years ago. Do that kind of proof case. On the the other side, I’m playing devil’s advocate and a pessimist isn’t me saying the kind of people who hire people like you and me, are the ones who already have a minimum of a minimum of management buy in, or else they wouldn’t even gotten the funding to go that far. So I’m always Yeah, I always have this kind of question in the back of my mind. So I want to I need to get more more brands on the on the podcast and ask them how they’re feeling their feelings. But I wanted to ask you specifically mentioned personas. A bugbear for me. I don’t know if people use the term bugbear in North America, but something that makes me crazy is the personas cropping up like mushrooms, personas, like created on a per project basis or a per agency basis? Are you seeing examples where personas are being shared and maintained over time across departments, product campaigns and projects? Or are you still seeing them as a campaign level acid?

Mariah Obiedzinski 26:31

That’s a really interesting question. And I’m going to kind of give you a wishy washy answer. And I think that for certain industries and certain audiences, you’re going to have that baseline. So in 2020, when we’re working with higher ed agencies, there are certain things on that prospective student in you know, audience, wherever you are in the US, wherever you are, perhaps abroad to that are just going to be better just going to be the same regardless. So the age will be industry level. Yeah. Okay, industry stuff will be the same. But when you get down to the regional and the community, and what that particular institutions goals are, is when it gets more granular. So you can start with that generic, but you do have to kind of build out to that personal level with the group that you’re working with. And we are really lucky here at stalemates, to have a research group and an audience group that does nothing but work on that brand level, they work on the national and organizational level as well. And distilling all that data down into actionable things that makes sense for that specific organization, we sometimes will take it down to the campaign level, it just really depends on what that goal is, and you know, the tenure of the project and all of that, but we want them to be able to walk away with something that they can use for a year, two years, three years going forward, not just focus all of their investment on this one project.

Noz Urbina  27:53

Okay, that’s for me, that’s the thing that makes me a little bit nuts is that if if we consider personas to be just for the project, then it’s it’s as if who we’re talking to changes on a project project basis, which it doesn’t, you know, our audiences or audience would, they may have relationships with us for years, decades. And so this, I’m seeing the same group of people like the same team is doing the same function, just different project happened to kick it off with a different agency, maybe or kick it off with a different internal team and new personas, who are we talking to you again, as as if as if you’re brand brand customer relationship has a reset, because you want to you want to launch something or you want to you want to do a redesign or you want to do a campaign? And that I think that’s the kind of thing that makes people feel dropped? You know that they’re not that their relationship isn’t real, is that I agree techniques like that they have bad habits we have of new campaign new personas. So I’m beating the drum about trying to get this going. So I’m I’m glad that you’re that you’re trying to make persona something that persists rather than a throwaway thing like, like a wireframe or first draft.

Mariah Obiedzinski 29:18

Oh, yeah. And any agency that’s worth their salt will always ask whether existing brand work is available. So you’re not using their resources for that project to go back and do work they’ve already done, you’re not going to frustrate their stakeholders in that regard. You’re not going to waste your team’s time when, when things have been done already. So of course, we’ll go back and read it and see if it makes sense to us if there’s anything that should be added based on our cumulative experience, but a lot of the time, we can just pick up right where that agency left off, maybe make some tweaks and then push forward on the next initiative.

Noz Urbina  29:49

I don’t know if I’m fully in line with your estimation of the of the average agency. Because I do I do see some shocking practices out there. But I If I support the sentiment, I hope that I hope that more agencies do take that that perspective. Okay. So I wanted to ask comes. So we talked about personas, customer journey mapping, that’s another thing that I know was very popular last year’s conference. Some people call it experience mapping, user journey mapping, is that a technique that you’re that you’re using for for content and experiences?

Mariah Obiedzinski 30:27

It is we start all of our projects that way. And we’ve just found that it’s the best way to internally get our teams on the right footing before we dive in. But externally, absolutely, it’s the best way for our our clients that we work with our partners that we work with, to really tell us if we’re on the mark with who we’re talking to, what that audience’s challenges are and the pathways and channels that they need, and that they prefer to get to that business goal that our client has set. So we walk through all of the different ways, for example, on a content marketing project, which is kind of the world that I live in, we work through all the different ways that somebody might get to that landing page or that ad, you know, they might be clicking through a site about XYZ topic and just land on a native ad, they might be receiving an email from us or paid social posts from us. And coming in that way. It’s not always through that front door that clients like to think, you know, this is the process we have in our mind. And that’s what’s going to happen. There are so many backdoors that you have to account for. And the journey mapping is really a great exercise to help them understand that and help them get comfortable with that.

Noz Urbina  31:31

I like to use the term backdoor. I like the I’ve had clients use the term to my face. Just show me the happy path. And I’m going Nah, no, because if we just designed for the happy path, then when someone’s not on the happy path, we will be totally unprepared to support them.

Mariah Obiedzinski 31:50

So alienating them really, if you’re not out there in that space where they are, where they’re not maybe expecting that message, but they need it and they don’t know that they need it, you’re really leaving them out and doing a disservice if you’re not accounting for that.

Noz Urbina  32:02

Absolutely. I think that journey mapping as let’s paint the ideal journey that we want to shove customers along, is misusing the technique. Absolutely. So there’s, you know, and and the the fantasy, the journeys are always linear, like, you don’t fail, you know, you don’t mess up and have to go back and start again, or get stuck, like the journey mapping. But that’s as you’re describing it, where you’re taking those edge cases and going well, what if that’s, that’s where you can find out whether your content, whether your design is really robust.

Mariah Obiedzinski 32:44

There’s so many touch points for digital users. Today, we’re a very savvy organization, you know, organization, or population or audience, no matter if you’re 20. Or if you’re 15. Or if you’re 45. You know what you want sometimes, but sometimes you don’t. And you’re going to do a lot of research before you invest your time and you invest your money into a certain organization or a product you’re going to spend that time looking at it could be seven, it could be 10 touch points before you pull that trigger and decide to convert whatever that conversion looks like.

Noz Urbina  33:12

Absolutely. And then there’s also the post sales journeys. So there’s actually i We did not work because we’re talking about content marketing and marketing. Do you do like, quite a lot of the, for example, building up of audience building advocacy, long term brand relationship? Or is it kind of mainly pushing towards some sort of conversion?

Mariah Obiedzinski 33:38

We do? Absolutely. We call it demand generation. And so we do a lot of that build up up front, we do all of the implementation throughout and partnering with our clients. And then that last section, the lead nurturing, the ongoing relationship is really our bread and butter. We love that part. Because it means our client gets more and more out of that audience. And not just you know, exploiting them, I don’t want to sound like we’re just, you know, hammering these audiences. We’re giving them what they’ve told us that they want what they’ve told us that they need and what helps them down the line. Absolutely.

Noz Urbina  34:09

So my, my one sentence, a definition of content marketing is marketing that has its own value proposition.

Mariah Obiedzinski 34:17

Yes, I love it. I love it.

Noz Urbina  34:19

Thank you. So the i when I’m talking to a true content marketer, like yourself, who, who, who’s realizing that this is not about advertising, but delivering value so that we’re building something over the longer term, because then you’re creating a win win. And that’s how you build a sustainable long term ROI model.

Mariah Obiedzinski 34:41

And I think this is how you know that you’ve been in your career for over a decade because when I started out in content marketing, we didn’t have any tools really to show ROI. It was always just, you know, this is future facing and five years, they’ll thank us and you know, smile and handshake. And now, you know, a decade later, 15 years later, we have the ability to show that long term data ensayo look how this has worked for you taking that opportunity to really reach out to your audience in these ways that they want you to reach out to them, giving them that ongoing information, that evergreen touch point has really benefited you. And it will continue in the future, we can give them that real time data.

Noz Urbina  35:16

Can you give me an example, about metrics? And how you? What how do you demonstrate ROI? That’s, that’s? There’s lots of people who can do it. There’s lots of people who are going, I don’t know, I still don’t know how to demonstrate ROI on content or experience. Yeah, absolutely.

Mariah Obiedzinski 35:35

I can give you an example from a client that we worked with last year. This was a commercial lighting distributor. So they’re a great, a great big manufacturer that ships lighting products all over the US. They ran with us and omni channel campaign. It was both print and digital, which was really cool. Yeah, their campaign was, you know, centered around this downloadable white paper. It was a Gartner report, we did podcasts with them email outreach to their target audience, which was facility managers and commercial building owners, kind of a really niche audience that we focused intently on with our buildings publication in buildings.com. So we were able to reach out across several channels, social media, you know, print, digital, all of that good stuff, it was really successful, we were able to increase their ROI by 800%. Just about for sales ready leads, because with our previous group, the campaign’s were less targeted, they were just kind of running that generic pump and dump sort of a campaign. Whereas we were looking in digging in taking that content marketing thought leadership approach, and helping them push things out that our audience that we know a lot about, has asked us for, you know, over time, has engaged with this type of content over time, and has shown us on social that they’re sharing it, they’re engaging with it. And so, in large part due to that segmentation, and their willingness to really put themselves out there as yes, we are the experts in this, and we are the thought leaders, their outcome was incredible.

Noz Urbina  37:05

You mentioned the you know, the you I think you said blogging or podcast. Did you add? Did you add channels to the mix that they hadn’t been using?

Mariah Obiedzinski 37:15

We did, yeah, they had not historically been doing a lot on social, they have not historically done podcasts. So they, they’re fortunate in that one of their leaders, is really comfortable writing, and they are a really great writer, we were able to go in with their articles that some of them were pre written, some of them were new, but optimize them a little bit for SEO, optimize them a little bit for social just based on our data from our audience, and really help increase the visibility of that through our distribution channels. But it all starts with their expertise. I mean, we could write about things till we’re blue in the face, but they’re the ones that really know. And that’s what our readers want to hear from we’re just we view ourselves kind of as the conduit to get these highly successful people connected with the people that want their information.

Noz Urbina  37:57

Conduit was a word that was on the tip of my tongue. That’s really interesting. So I want to zoom in on the on the omnichannel bit, of course, because that’s that’s my job, what the way we define omnichannel is essentially the fact that the channels are collaborative rather than parallel, you know, then you’re not, you’re not just running a blog and some social and some print. The What do you do in terms of encouraging the channels to come together? You know, encouraging people who pick up the print to go to listen to the blog, etc, etc. Have you? Have you seen? Have you got any stories of before and afters or improvement over the years, where you’ve been upping your game in terms of really creating a holistic omni channel experience versus simply going out on multiple channels?

Mariah Obiedzinski 38:46

Oh, yeah, definitely. So I think podcast is a great example. You know, five years ago or so, maybe I’m dating myself here a little bit. But podcasts wasn’t really a cool thing. People were nervous about it, they thought it was a highly produced thing that was really difficult. And I’m not saying that it’s easy. But you and I are right here, you know, doing this right now over over the internet. And it’s, it’s, it’s easy when you think about it in that regard. But a few years ago, that wasn’t the case. And so now, just within the last five years, we have taken our clients and help them get comfortable with it to a point where not only can we share out podcasts in the traditional fashion. So using tools like anchor that pump it out across you know, pocket, play google play all those things, but incorporating those podcasts pieces into print pieces, even so we’re able to just put a link into a print piece. If you want to hear more about this, go to this link. And then you can listen to this while you’re commuting. We can put it out through email and it’s the same thing. We can either embed a little button that says Listen, now they can listen right there. We can pump it out through social, of course, you know, just as an audio bar. One thing we found that has been really successful is to put a little call to Action button within a related story. So for example, the client that I mentioned earlier, we could take one of their podcasts and embed the audio piece as maybe a middle of the article, call to action to listen to this related content and just drive people to that different media. It’s all centered around that kind of hub concept that’s always been around in content marketing, you take your one big piece, and then you distill it out. But using that omni channel approach, you’re able to really tie it together and connect it and make it more of a journey instead of well, we have 10 pieces, look at all of these pieces that maybe you don’t care about, right?

Noz Urbina  40:34

And all at once. It’s a kind of blam. Here’s, here’s everything we have to say,

Mariah Obiedzinski 40:40

spray and pray.

Noz Urbina  40:42

Yeah. So okay, great. You wouldn’t happen to be able to make me very happy and have some before and after numbers, would you?

Mariah Obiedzinski 40:49

I could share those. But it is unfortunately, something that the client prefers to keep private, we did, we did have a 100% increase in their call ready leads, I can say that,

Noz Urbina  40:58

and that is already very, very cool. And so in terms of personalization, you know, that’s one of my big things that I’m always asking people about and working on these days, Omni channel personalization at scale. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges or successes that you have?

Mariah Obiedzinski 41:15

Yeah, and I think this kind of goes back to what we were talking about before. And as we were talking about the cost prohibition of some of these platforms. There are things like their CMS platforms like Drupal that allow you to personalize everything, and it’s very module based, it’s very easy to upkeep because of the great community of developers out there and the different modules that come out all the time. But things like WordPress, which is a wonderful platform, don’t get me wrong, the personalization just isn’t the same. And the opportunities to do that aren’t the same. So with those kind of less enterprise, or even homegrown platforms that we encounter a lot with our organizations, we can really help them with other strategies to personalize messaging, whether that’s through using our Marketo license to personalize emails, targeting on social media can, you know provide its own level of personalization, just depending on your goal and your audience, targeting down to those demographics that are user submitted. And we can oftentimes give our audiences that cross channel, an interactive experience, regardless of the technology that the client owns. I think that that’s my, I guess that’s my favorite part of personalization, it doesn’t have to be this big site wide, huge, expensive program, it just has to be tailored down to what that audience needs and wants in that moment of their journey.

Noz Urbina  42:32

Okay, so what are you using then as a trigger to know where they are in the journey?

Mariah Obiedzinski 42:37

A lot of the times we’re using either data that our clients have provided that they’ve researched about their audiences. And so we know where they are in that funnel, or, you know, we go to our audience team internally and say, what do we know about this segment that our client is hoping to target? You know, what, how often? Are they typically visiting a site before they engage with a call to action? How often? Are they visiting an email? Or what is that open? Right? Maybe that’s not the best channel to reach them, using those tools to get to the channel first, and then get to those? Okay, here’s how we’re going to do these specific touchpoints? Do we reach out to them by name? Do we change the subject line? Do we change the imagery based on what this individual has told us that they like?

Noz Urbina  43:18

Okay, okay. It’s, it’s an interesting one with there’s dependent data and personalization go hand in hand. I think that there’s, there’s difficulty because we have so much data often so little insight. And especially for those organizations who cannot afford to get their arms around their own data. It can be a struggle with personalization, I think it’s I think it’s, we’re making big progress, but I think it’s still one of the big mountains, we have to climb, you know, Omni channel, Omni channel personalization at scale.

Mariah Obiedzinski 43:52

Even as a marketer, I’m still tickled every time I get a subject line from a brand that I that I like, that has my name, and they’re like, hey, Mariah, you haven’t come to see us for, you know, three weeks or whatever. Here’s a coupon code to use at our shop. And I just love that. If it’s kind of creepy, like, hey, random person, you don’t know us, here’s some money you can get in her bag, and it just gets very creepy. You know, you have to do it, right. You can’t just do personalization, just to do it, like the push has been for the last couple of years. So we try to get our clients down to why do you want to do it? And then what do you have available right now that you can keep doing it?

Noz Urbina  44:26

Pro tip pro tip that that’s where customer journey mapping comes in really handy to say, where is the right point? Do we actually are going to leverage personalization to the users benefit as opposed to let’s use IP data to change background images on our on our landing pages like there’s you can do personalization anywhere but it’s it’s in your customer journey map that you figured out where it’s going to be useful. Okay, awesome. This this time has been flying Hang by, I can’t keep you too much longer. But I do want to ask, is there any other resources that you recommend that the audience look out for, for more about the kind of things we’ve been talking about today?

Mariah Obiedzinski 45:13

You know, I always defer back to that person to person thing, I always recommend that you keep talking to other vendors, you know, partners that you work with even competitors. And that’s okay. You know, if you are in a large market, there’s always networking opportunities, get out there and put your face out there and say, this is this is who I am, how are you helping your clients? How are you doing this type of project? Because, you know, a lot of the times you’re gonna find like you alluded to earlier, a lot of agencies and a lot of businesses that hire agencies are still looking at what can you do for me, as opposed to what can you do for my clients, so you can get those learnings just by osmosis, getting out there and meeting people. And then, you know, considering that cross channel, cross industry methodology, when you’re looking at your marketing, so if you are a b2b marketer, look at look at the healthcare industry, for example, take some learnings from how they really personalize and are very thoughtful about their marketing. And you can apply that to retail where it feels sometimes more number based, more generic, but really take that kind of approach and be nice and be kind and be warm and see how that turns out for your brand.

Noz Urbina  46:19

I got to tell the audience that that was totally not at all planned or or, or incentivize on my part. But basically, Mariah you just plugged the heck out of coming to the conference. Well, hey, that worked out for both of us. That worked out really well. So thank you very much for that. I would, I would agree that getting out there face to face. I would agree that looking across industries and across disciplines is an essential learning technique. We we have so much to learn from each other. Today, you know, because there’s no job role. There’s no specialism that does omnichannel experience on their own. It’s designers, it’s content people. It’s IT people it’s researchers. It’s, it’s it takes a village got great thought leaders from companies like Google Accenture, Forrester, love about Cisco, the European Commission, Real Story Group, and I didn’t even get their logo on here yet. Autodesk Margaux blooms team, Jeff Eaton and other thought leaders beyond. So please, please do check out omnichannel x dot digital and then also omnichannel x dot digital slash podcasts for more great content like this. Thank you so much. Mariah for a lovely session and for donating your time today.

Mariah Obiedzinski 47:38

Thanks for inviting me. It was wonderful.

Noz Urbina  47:39

My pleasure. And I hope to see you again soon. Thank you for listening. This has been the omnichannel podcast with Noz Urbina, founder of Urbina Consulting, drop us a comment on our LinkedIn or Twitter and let us know what questions you’d like to answer next time and who you’d like to hear interviewed. See you then.