Q&A with Erik Newton, Vice President of Marketing at Milestone Inc.

Media 7 | October 12, 2021

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Erik Newton, Vice President of Marketing at Milestone Inc., is a full-stack marketing leader driving acquisition, engagement, and retention from messaging to product to acquisition and through renewal. He is a marketing thought leader with more than 150 blogs and pieces published. Erik has managed marketing teams, covering product marketing, acquisition, retention, media, mobile, advocacy, display, search, affiliates, e-mail, web development, and site content management, e-commerce, multivariate testing, and sales forecasting and budgeting. He is also the proud author of the book, Hack the Corporate Fast Track: Accelerate your corporate maturity.

Marketing has to strike that balance between internal and external focus more than any other department.



MEDIA7: What inspires you the most about the marketing industry?
ERIK NEWTON:
There is a lot of variety in what we marketers do with 10-20 programs running all of the time, and that keeps it stimulating and engaging. Marketing has to strike that balance between internal and external focus more than any other department. We always ask ourselves: “What problem are we solving for the customer? What is the right thing to do for the customer?” Marketing requires both creativity and quantitative skills to succeed. I lead Milestone Research and use statistical modelling regularly to develop original findings and value for our community, but I was an English major in my undergraduate studies. Marketing shapes the storytelling the company uses, which is a mix of art, science, and social proof. I am starting to experiment with non-linear flexible presentations that will allow the prospect to influence the direction and content in a dynamic, interactive presentation.


M7: Milestone is the first to have an SEO-first CMS in the industry. What are some of the different benefits marketers can get from using this?
EN:
SEO is the largest channel by far, contributing about 60%+ of the traffic (excluding direct). An SEO-first CMS enables customers to build and maintain a high-performance website that has built-in discovery support. That means the site infrastructure helps improve visibility and clickability to bring more customers to the site. More specifically, the Milestone CMS provides: fast page load speed, schema markup, AMP, FAQs with schema, and accessibility that affect both discovery and conversion. All of that adds up to more search impressions, more search traffic, and better conversion. There are more than 3 trillion searches on Google per year. Understand that all search queries are questions, all search results are answers and make sure your content answers the questions that your customers and prospects are asking. That is why FAQs as content are such a huge and ripe opportunity for customers.


Remember that the customer is the hero of any story you tell, and your product is a guide for that hero.



M7: How is marketing different than ten years ago?
EN:
So much more of the customer journey is self-curated, so companies need to invest even more in their websites and the assets it provides for that journey. Brands and vendors should be keeping their websites fresh and updated and plan for redesign about every two years. Many of the new start-ups use product-led growth, which often means free trial and an effective value gating and conversion system. Email is most effective when the recipient is fully aware they have given permission to be marketed to. Bulk email campaign impact has been blunted by excess volume, spam controls, and the Focus/Other Outlook Inbox. Paid is still significant and growing but has become more sophisticated in its use of retargeting and AI-driven logic to find and engage the relevant prospects. Marketers need to prepare for paid marketing that does not rely on third-party cookies within the next year or so.

No one wants to admit it, but AI is already creating content and will contribute an increasing share each year.
This will create more volume and content clutter, so marketers need to compete with human originality and leverage their ability to answer questions and solve problems. Database hygiene has always been important and continues to be, especially when used as a driver for account-based marketing (ABM). Garbage data degrades the decision making and campaign performance. Marketers need to identify and focus on customer problems first, value creation, and product promotion after that. Remember that the customer is the hero of any story you tell, and your product is a guide for that hero.


M7: How does Milestone’s Schema Manger provide better SEO and omnichannel results?
EN:
Entity search is the basis of modern organic search strategy because entities are topics and connections Google use to understand, index, study and retrieve answers from the Internet. Structured data and schemas are fundamental to that function. The Schema Manager enables customers to deploy and maintain error-free advanced schemas. That means they use about a dozen schema types and dozens of attributes in a nested architecture that makes it easier for the search crawlers to find, index, and rank the site content. The Schema Manager makes it easier to select and deploy the right schema types and attributes and monitor them to make sure they are error-free. Milestone drives customer acquisition by enhancing the digital experience and content visibility through SEO, Local, Website, Paid, and Social. We offer a marketing platform called the Milestone Presence Cloud and can provide managed services as needed to supplement customer team and resources. We work with more than 650 customers across industries, including Fortune 100 banks, restaurants, and technology companies.


Remember to focus on the prospect experience more than the channel and the media.



M7: What are some of your preferred marketing channels, given your target consumers?
EN:
We use most of the channels but focus on SEO, Local, Referral, Email, Webinar, Events, Paid, ABM, and Social. We are kicking off some new virtual event formats this quarter: SEO Office Hours, Audience Roundtables, and Knowledge Competitions in small groups of 10 to 20 customers and prospects. We find that people are saturated with Zoom presentations and would enjoy a more interactive format. Remember to focus on the prospect experience more than the channel and the media.


M7: What is your advice to young marketers stepping into the industry today?
EN:
Start your career with something specific and difficult that not many other people want to do, like email marketing, analytics, SEO, or ABM. Consider starting in an agency, so you can work on many accounts and learn faster. Learning on the brand side usually goes way slower, especially between campaigns. Learn the popular platforms: Google Analytics, Salesforce, WordPress, Hubspot, and Adobe Suite. Get good at Excel and PowerPoint—no one loves it, but it is not going away. Focus on your own corporate maturity. Optimize your relationship with your boss, listen carefully, and do what you agreed to with high quality and on schedule. Be very transparent and avoid people in the company and in life who create drama, complain, and gossip. Listen, follow directions, and be coachable, especially in your first 5 years, if you want people to help you succeed. Pick a growing company as probably the best way to accelerate your own advancement. Find and solve problems with a positive attitude. No one likes being told, “no, that won’t work.” Learn how to use commas and apostrophes correctly; not many people can do it consistently.

ABOUT MILESTONE

Milestone helps businesses create, organize, and amplify their digital information by enhancing their digital presence to make data more accurate, consistent, and visible. They do this with a digital presence platform and add to it as much or as little service as needed to help our clients be everywhere their customers are. They work with major brands and mid-size businesses across industries to drive traffic, engagement, and revenue through omnichannel marketing fueled by SEO. Learn how to leverage their proven approaches at www.milestoneinternet.com or email them at sales@milestoneinternet.com.

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