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Jason Widup: Hey.
Alex Rector: Hey. Thanks for joining me Jason. How are you?
Jason Widup: Pretty good. How is it going?
Alex Rector: It’s going good. I’m glad I got to get on with you. I think Metadata is super cool so I’m glad we could talk for a little bit.
Jason Widup: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Sorry I didn’t have the Zoom on there.
Alex Rector: It’s all good. I appreciate you setting up the meeting. I sent one over the last minute too. So I should have sent it earlier.
Jason Widup: Yeah, no worries. Yeah.
Alex Rector: I was sitting in my room looking at myself. So yeah, I mean I just wanted to set up a little interview, talk a little bit more. I’m a user of Metadata. I’m a customer. So I’ve got a little bit of experience in the platform. From you website, first B to B marketing operating system. So creatively put. I don’t know how many other businesses are claiming that right now.
Jason Widup: Yeah, not very many, not yet. Yeah.
Alex Rector: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. So yeah, I mean I guess to get us going, could you tell me a little bit about yourself and Metadata just from a business sense?
Jason Widup: Yeah, sure. So let’s see. Where do I start? So I have been in marketing for a long time, probably about 20 years. I’ve been everywhere from a marketing analyst to marketing operations. Primarily marketing technology has been my kind of area. Led big marketing operations teams at big companies. The biggest was Tableau. I had a 70-person marketing operations team there.
Alex Rector: OK.
Jason Widup: And realized through – I had a goal for myself of like becoming a VP at a public company and I reached that goal and I realized, well, that’s a shitty goal. Like that’s not fun. You know, this is actually not fun at all. So …
Alex Rector: Not what it was cracked up to be, huh?
Jason Widup: No. Got fired from Tableau because I didn’t like politics very well and then started to kind of search for my next thing. This is like, OK, I’m ready to get out of ops and more into just leading marketing because I’ve been around it for so long and I really want to market to like myself because that would be pretty easy because I’ve been sold to and marketed to for so long. I know what I like. I know what I don’t like.
Alex Rector: I was just going to ask you about that. Yeah. I was going to say you’ve lead seamlessly 70 something marketers. You’re working in marketing technology. So you know your target audience.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. And yeah, and so I created this job for myself actually. So I started to hear about our technology in 2019 and I dug in a little bit. I got a demo and because I was so well-versed in marketing technology, I was just immediately was like, “Oh my god. This is different. There’s no other company doing it like this in this crowded space of mar tech.”
It kind of held some of the values that I have in terms of like simple attribution but only taking credit for like sourced marketing things. You know, putting the word “influence” kind of out of – you know, out of our dictionary.
Alex Rector: Right. It’s always a challenge, right?
Jason Widup: Yeah, and optimizing to revenue outcomes, not leads and vanity metrics. So like every part of the platform just really spoke to me and called our CEO Gil. I was like, hey, I would like to buy it and then I would like to help, you know, and I consulted for the first six months and then we got our Series A and I started fulltime day one of the pandemic, like April 1st, 2020.
Ever since then, it has been basically like a – to me it feels like a dream. You know, it’s like I am responsible for 70 percent of the company’s revenue. We’ve grown over 700 percent in the last couple of years.
Alex Rector: It’s amazing.
Jason Widup: From a marketing standpoint, we’re building like an audience and community of people that really like what we’re doing from a marketing perspective. Putting on events and things for marketers. You know, just trying to celebrate marketers, B to B marketers that is. Yeah, and I’ve been able to do what I wanted to do, you know. Use organic social quite a bit to help drive brand.
Alex Rector: Great, yeah.
Jason Widup: Help build my personal brand at the same time. So like if this doesn’t work out, you know, like I’ve got the next thing ready. And yeah, just taking us from about a million to $15 million now.
Alex Rector: That’s great, yeah. I mean I see the value with Metadata. Like this is – I’ve only been using it for a short time, probably like three or four months, and I’ve never used anything like it before. I will tell you that.
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: I’ve been working in mar tech and like I’ve been working for software startups for close to 10 years now. I mean, you know, in different capacities and with a few outliers there. But I mean I haven’t seen something like this before where from like an – like the way it changes, the way you do the ops side of things but also just kind of the full funnel piece of it. Looking at it from a marketing tech perspective, I haven’t seen other tech that really does that well. You know …
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: And …
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: So it has been kind of an impressive situation for me to see that.
Jason Widup: Yeah, nice. Well, yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah, and that’s kind of – you know, that’s what I saw when I first saw the technology. I was like I don’t know anything else like this and it’s partly why we’re in this like interesting nebulous category thing where like we’re not an ABM platform but Gil put us in there before I started because he didn’t know anything different.
So my first year was trying to like claw us out of this ABM category because we would compete with ABM platforms but only because we didn’t know any different, you know. We’re like – yeah.
Alex Rector: Yeah, I was going to ask you about it because I mean ABM, right, ABM is hot crap right now in the B to B world for sure and I mean you look at Metadata and it seems like you would fit like an ABM – if you’re in an ABM op, right? You’re taking that strategy. Then I would think that Metadata would still be a valuable tool. But I was going to ask you, you know, what is really the driver? Where do your customers come from most of the time? Is it ABM shops? Are you looking at folks that are having issues managing their paid ads? Like what really brings them to the platform the most?
Jason Widup: Yeah, I will share our page link. Our ABM isn’t a page. Yeah. We’re able to campaign on this. We gave some T-shirts away and people really like it. Yeah. It was kind of a fun little thing. We’re going to rebirth this thing I think here pretty soon. But no, like we actually complement some. So, I don’t know, maybe 25 to 30 percent of our customers also have 6Sense. But everyone knows 6Sense is a sales tool.
You know, not – most people don’t even – like if you ask even like lay users of 6Sense, like is this a sales tool or a marketing tool? Like oh, it’s a sales tool. You know, it’s like – it’s almost like this runs off the tongue.
So we have like maybe 30 percent of our customers also have 6Sense. You know, the ones that have bigger budgets and can afford multiple technologies in that like demand stack. We also – like you said, we can run ABM programs in Metadata. Of course you can run ABM programs without any tool.
You know, it’s the proof. But the way we like to think of it is ABM is just not a technology. You know, ABM is an approach. It’s a strategy. It’s a very specific thing. In fact the term “ABM” was started in the 1990s. You know, I was around. It was when we were starting to sell like these huge technology infrastructures like Siebel and Oracle in these big enterprises and it was like Jesus Christ, like these are hugely complicated sales. Huge dollar amounts in the billions sometimes. Like AT&T Wireless spent like $2 billion in 1999. You know, to like implement Siebel.
Alex Rector: Wow.
Jason Widup: You know what I mean? It’s just like so, that’s where it started. This was like, well, this is a long sales – you know what I mean? And there’s like a lot of different stages and things you have to do and then, you know, demand base just glommed on to it and they did a great job in marketing.
You know, and so like through just marketing, this category became a real thing and then people started associating, you know, technologies to it and then you started to hear CMOs just say, “We need to be doing account-based marketing,” you know, and they didn’t even know what it meant.
But because there’s this buzzword and it sounded right and people could be like, well, of course we should be – of course we – well, we’re not marketing to accounts. No, you fucking are but like we just haven’t talked about it that way. Like …
Alex Rector: It makes so much sense when you just say – just the phrase. It just sticks with everybody. I mean from executives to sales folks, to marketing folks, it’s like oh, accounts and marketing. OK. That makes sense.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah, I can make it. I can draw a line between those two. So yeah, so anyway, you know, that’s the dilemma we’re in. We’re a demand gen platform. We’re a – in the future, we will be a marketing operating system. And what does that mean? So, you know, we’re in the middle of creating a category at the same time as just trying to grow and to help people understand, “Well, where does this fit?” You know, how do you justify? How do you pay for it?
What budget category can you pay for it through now until we have that new category in your budget, you know?
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Jason Widup: That’s kind of how – that’s what we’re doing now.
Alex Rector: So what kind of – like what is like a big win for you guys whenever you look at clients?
Jason Widup: You mean like the type of company?
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Jason Widup: I mean I think at this point, we’re looking for customers, obviously B to B. High tech is the easiest because they understand high growth and like they need to be efficient and you’ve got to be spending at least like $50,000 a month I would say on digital because of – you know, for the experimentation part of the platform to really work.
Yeah, and so it’s customers that have big growth goals, you know, and they need to – they’re not doing a lot of experimentation because they just don’t have the time. Maybe they don’t have the resources.
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Jason Widup: They’re optimizing the vanity metrics like leads or even MQLs and they’re just like, “Oh, why isn’t that turning into revenue?” And yeah, so it’s that kind of makeup. Usually like we haven’t gone huge with enterprise yet because we’re trying to grow fast and like enterprise deals are just slow and, you know, we only have – we’re trying to grow our sales team. It bogs them down.
But this year, we’re moving – every year, we will just move a little bit more upmarket and do a little bit more enterprise and yeah, so right now it’s probably like if you’ve got between 500 and, I don’t know, 500 and 3000 employees, it seems to be like a good sweet spot. But it can also be 75 employees and just got a Series B and you’re like, “Oh god, what do I do now?” You know, and we have a lot of those as well.
Alex Rector: Yeah. I see that too. I think that – I mean whenever you guys are bringing on clients, like what does that process look like? How long does it take for a client to get started with Metadata? Do you have to go through the whole like implementation and sales process with each client or is it like they come on, they get access and they just start building?
Jason Widup: Yeah. I mean we – the team takes the three As approach. Let’s see if I get it right. Audiences, ads and assets basically. So we always start with audiences first. You know, just build out a bunch of audiences. We immediately try and get our customers to go outside their comfort zone because we’re experimenting, right?
It's like they will tell us, oh, this is our direct ICP and it will be really, really tight. Great.
Alex Rector: Tiny audience. Yeah.
Jason Widup: You know, like OK, cool. That and let’s try this. Like let’s maybe go up or down seniority a little bit or let’s try this flex and this title or let’s try these new industries and we keep all those audiences separate and we don’t mix them so that our customers can tell, you know, and also so the system can optimize based on these different audience types.
Alex Rector: And there’s a lot of value there. With the audience building, I see that as a really helpful tool and it’s a selling point for sure for Metadata because we’re looking at like tech platforms or social platforms like LinkedIn and they’ve got certain ways that you’re supposed to build the audience if you go in through that platform. But if you use Metadata, you can do things like apply some different filtering, exceptions, things like that, that you wouldn’t be able to do within the platform typically.
So that’s really helpful when working with executives or working with other like high level marketing folks that want to have that really granular delivery and we can’t really – you can’t really do it the way you want to with just the native like audience building.
Jason Widup: Yeah, exactly and I think – I don’t know what the count is. We have like 15 or more ways of starting to build an audience. You know, some of them use data from partners. Some of them use your own Salesforce data. Some of them use G2. You know what I mean? Like we have all these different ways of starting audiences and yeah, like we don’t put any cap on the number of audiences you can build because we’re like, “Why would we …?” Like you’re trying to test. Why would we limit the number? So we …
Alex Rector: We’ve built a ton of them.
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: We’ve got a whole bunch of audiences we’ve been trying different …
Jason Widup: Yeah. You don’t have to think about like oh, if I build this, I’m – I only have 10 left. You know, it’s like no, just as many as you can and then what you’ve probably seen too is the preview feature. It’s like oh, I built an audience. Preview it. Oh, company, title, location. These are real people.
Like yeah, that looks good. Those are who I want to target. So the targeting part, the meta match, is probably the easiest to understand for marketers. You know what I mean? So it’s like super clear and it’s really helpful on Facebook of course because Facebook doesn’t have any of this.
So we really unlock business targeting on Facebook and you’re not like – you know, as you know, personal interest or, you know, you’re not going to use the lame Facebook.
Alex Rector: Right. Yeah, the Facebook targeting is – the native targeting is really weak and if you’re in the Business Manager – plus you just don’t even want to go in that Business Manager. It’s so dirty. Facebook, that whole thing is such a cluster. I try to avoid it at all costs but there are so many people working there every day. So anything that makes it easier to do some targeting through Facebook, it’s really valuable.
Jason Widup: Yeah. What I love about it is the way we’ve set it up is it’s our own closed ecosystem, that targeting data, and the end result is just a bunch of email addresses, right? Personal email addresses of people that match these targeting criteria.
What’s nice about that is it’s applicable to all these channels. So like oh, you want to unlock connected TV. Well, guess what. Connected TV uses personal email addresses to basically create the match.
There are so many. TikTok, great. Be able to like – so like the foundation of the audiences piece makes it just so easy for us to like, yeah, do your business query in here. The result is just all these personal email addresses and we just send those into the – whatever platform, you know, and it creates the matches.
So it has been nice. It’s nice that we built it that way, not relying on cookies or IP addresses or, you know, email addresses. Those aren’t going to go away and …
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Jason Widup: You know, and platforms like ad platforms will always have the ability to target based on email address, you know. So …
Alex Rector: Yeah, exactly. I mean but like what really clinches the deal for you guys usually? Like are you guys – like are they looking for that full revenue view? Are they looking for – they just want the ad ops to be easier? Like what is really the linchpin here?
Jason Widup: It’s the focus on the revenue outcomes, you know. It’s the like, OK, yeah, you know, I can run campaigns by myself in LinkedIn. I mean you can’t do it at the same scale but, you know, sure, you can run ads on LinkedIn. You can run ads on Facebook, you know.
You can manually look at those and optimize those. You can pull reports from LinkedIn and marry them with reports in Salesforce and then hope you’ve got the connection right. But you probably don’t because it’s on UTMs, you know, and it’s not on people.
Whereas Metadata is a very clear line. It’s like this person converted on this ad and they became an MQL. Then there was an opportunity created after the date that the lead came in and the lead is a primary contact or a decision maker on the opportunity and then that opportunity turned into revenue.
You know, and we can see that entire thing happen because we’re attached at the email address, you know, through the whole thing and not like this fuzzy like either the UTMs make it through and like do the UTMs go to Salesforce and like – then it’s still not – at a personal level, it’s still this aggregate like averages area. So yeah, it’s really that like – a lot of our customers are like I try to build this. You know, I’ve tried to basically build this myself of like getting just this automatic connection between the ads and the revenue.
Then we just say, great, we can show you that but then also just have the platform make automatic optimizations based on that. So yeah, so that’s really where it usually kind of comes to a head is like oh, you know, like the tie to revenue and I can – I really can see where my ads are going and what the return on those are and yeah, all that stuff.
Alex Rector: I thought that that would probably be – the whole shift like the mindset move to really tying revenue together with the marketing. I figured that’s probably the driver for your whole solution. You know, folks are definitely looking for this right now.
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: And like you said, everyone – if you’re in digital marketing, like me, I’ve been in digital marketing or worked with AVM shops. You know that’s like a big thing. You’re trying to tie together your marketing initiatives with, you know, what’s happening in sales, where things are working together and just figuring out that whole function. You know, what is the op all the way through? Where is the impact happening? Where are things falling off? And to have just a visual funnel of that. Like you guys do on your dashboard. If that’s working properly, that is just – that’s the bomb and that’s what people want to see.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alex Rector: And I think that the ad deployment is a huge win too. You know, just deploying a lot of variations of ads quickly.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and that’s one thing we’ve – we haven’t done a great job at like highlighting that benefit. You know, we’ve been focused so much on the performance improvements. But now because it’s – sometimes it’s hard to quantify, right? For a marketer to like oh, you say you’re going to save me 10 hours a week. Really? Like where did you get that?
So we’re actually doing a study with Forrester now to try and like really understand from our customer’s perspective. OK, great, the performance lifts from using the platform and getting your ads in there, great. That’s one thing.
But then did we save you time? You know, and if so, how much? And then what did you do with that time? You know, that you wouldn’t have been able to do before and trying to tell both sides of the story because like honestly, if you just come to Metadata for just ad performance alone, it could be expensive. You know, you can be like, oh, Metadata is a little expensive. You know, it’s like huh and let’s just take this scenario where let’s say you’re spending $30,000 a month on ads and if our platform cost you $6000 a month, then you automatically – you know what I mean? That’s 20 percent. You know what I mean? Of your ad spend.
So like the platform has to immediately provide a 20 percent lift, you know, and it’s like well, hmm, you know. So – and we have some $20,000 a month customers, you know. So it’s like OK, and they’re getting value. You know, so like OK. How do you justify it? Oh, it’s a cost savings.
You know, so I’m actually able to do these other things at the same time. So that’s what we’re trying to tell that side of the story. So we’re not just like looked at as a percent of ad spend for example which some people do.
Alex Rector: Well, it could enable like another marketing leader or your marketing director or someone else that’s not necessarily like an ad specialist to get in there and kind of manage ads and during the day and not be like all-encompassing work. You know, if you have to activate 20 versions of the different ads or different audiences and things like that, I mean building on the native platforms.
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: No one is going to do that. Most people aren’t going to do that unless they’re going to outsource that, you know.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then you’re left wondering like did the people time. You know what I mean? And then all the time we’re making mistakes, you know, because we’re humans and the copy-pasting and like the monotonous clicking through. Bound to make a mistake in there, you know, and waste some money that way too.
So that’s ultimately the vision for the product and that’s why the marketing operating system as a visionary category comes to play because our ultimate goal is to just remove the tedious work from the B to B marketer, you know, and it doesn’t matter where in the funnel.
But paid campaigns, when we looked at it, when Gil first built the product, he’s like that’s the place that I’m wasting most of my time. So I’m going to focus the platform there first. But later this year, we’re starting to introduce features that go beyond paid campaigns. You know, it’s like, well, what happens after a lead comes in? They don’t automatically turn into revenue, you know. There are other things that have to happen.
You know, you got to maybe nurture them and yeah, there’s marketing automation. But what happens today? I just drop them in the static. You know, like the static sequence that’s timed out.
I actually put them into an intelligence sequence is just for them. That’s fed with AI. You know, both the timing, the subject lines, the body copy and it’s designed to really like get to that meeting, you know.
Then what happens before paid campaigns? Well, how do I figure out how much budget I’m going to spend on different things and like how do I break that out? How do I build a media plan? So maybe we will build something like that with some AI in it to help you understand where best to put your budget.
So we will start to like do these concentric circles outside of paid campaigns in all directions until we’ve – and that’s that operating system concept. You know, it’s like let’s – an operating system that you and I are using right now, it’s not like I’m having to be in the background, telling you how to transmit video. You know what I mean? From like, OK, I’m on AI.
Alex Rector: Exactly.
Jason Widup: Yeah, transmitting video, you know. Like …
Alex Rector: I get what you’re saying because like, you know, if you’re using HubSpot, you’re using some other platform like Salesforce or Marketo or something, yeah, you’ve got all these tools to do like automations and you could trigger things and you can build out logic. But you’re still in there building out that automated logic.
You know, like you said, you don’t have an AI tool that’s helping you and they’re probably working on something like this too. But, you know, it’s like – it’s a powerful thing. You know, new AI tech is coming up like all over the place right now. There are so many AI startups happening out there.
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: But, yeah, I mean I can see that that could be very powerful. I’ve seen like AI for like other areas of marketing too. Like AI for content. You write your own ads for you kind of thing.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah. We’re going to start to …
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Jason Widup: That’s actually coming into our platform.
Alex Rector: OK.
Jason Widup: Like ad copy. Yeah. So like you will write one version and then our platform will basically pop out four different versions. You know what I mean?
Alex Rector: Cool. Yeah, that’s cool. That’s good stuff.
Jason Widup: Yeah, and we’re not going to build that technology. We’re going to go partner with like the best one out there, you know, and that’s kind of our philosophy too is like we’re not trying to be the best at each of these things. We’re going to unify them like orchestrate it all. You know, so like I’m not going to try and build a better Outreach. Why do I do that? Everyone is going to use Outreach, you know.
I’m not trying to build a better LinkedIn, you know. But I think that these things can be operated in a much more effective way together, you know, and that’s what we’re going to try and tackle.
Alex Rector: OK. Yeah. That’s huge. If you had something like that where you’re like building ads and then you’re getting recommendations for ads that are actually like viable and the marketers are going to rag on that, I’m sure. But it’s …
Alex Rector: That’s the other thing. It’s like marketers are so difficult. Like you marketing to marketers and dealing with marketers every day, you know. I mean how is that? What kind of objections, what kind of problems do you run into dealing with marketers? I mean they’re so flipping – they’re going to move on to their next shiny thing every few seconds.
Jason Widup: Yeah. Yeah. I think, you know, their – our authenticity helps us around that. You know what I mean? So like we’re very authentic in our marketing and we’re very just like hey, we’re doing the same thing you’re doing and we know it’s hard, you know, and we’re not saying we’re the best at it. So like a lot of our stuff is very much like salt of the earth people. You know, we’re very authentic. We’re the same people as you all, you know, and I think that resonates. We also try and – you know, we’re trying to be fun and entertaining and B to B marketers appreciate that. So …
Alex Rector: And I see that kind of vibe. I’ve seen that ad all the time on my LinkedIn feed with the guy. Gosh, what does it say? He has got like money bags, you know, in the ad.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah. The one the …
Alex Rector: Yeah. The statement seems so absurd too like in the ad. You know, just like, yeah, sure, Mr. Money Bags.
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And like I have some ads that – so I do an incentive for some demo ads and it’s usually just $100. I was like, hey, let’s try just the most random number you can think of. It was like $123.75. You know, like – and it gets people like, “Wait, what?” Why is that around $123.76? You know, like what?
Alex Rector: It’s specific.
Jason Widup: Yeah. So we’re just trying to be fun, you know. We’re trying not to take ourselves too seriously. So it’s fun on one hand because I feel like I know what marketers want to hear and see and on the other hand, it makes it more challenging because like we got to show them things they haven’t seen before to stand out, especially in mar tech.
Alex Rector: Yeah, there’s so much – there’s just so much out there.
Jason Widup: Yeah.
Alex Rector: It seems like I’m checking out a new technology every hour almost. I get so much advertising and so many emails and LinkedIn messages about different mar tech all the time and some of it is interesting. You know, like it’s not all just stuff I’m going to ignore. Some of it, I actually go look at it and check it out.
You know, I looked at this other site the other day. It’s called Aurum and they do AI call routing for sales team. Like they help you find the correct routes to reach the person through AI on the phone call, which is really cool, really cool stuff. So this is like run it by the sales and hey guys, I don’t know if you’ve seen this. But it might save you some time calling. I don’t know.
Jason Widup: Exactly, yeah, yeah.
Alex Rector: It’s just amazing this stuff that’s coming out.
Jason Widup: It is, yeah. Yeah, I love it.
Alex Rector: But you guys, you’re coming up with some really cool stuff. I guess with your platform and people, you have a lot of users now. You guys have had a lot of success. Clearly, you’re growing fast. Like what areas in the platform do you want to see people make better use of? I mean like are you tracking utilization? Do you have like product goals that you’re working on?
Jason Widup: Yeah. We want it to be more self-serve. It’s one of the areas. We focus a lot on the backend technology, you know, that powers all of it versus putting a lot of effort into like the most – the easiest, cleanest user path like through …
Alex Rector: Yes. And you know what? This is what – like whenever I deal with our account manager, well Kevin, you know, when I deal with Kevin, we’ve got two things we can do, right? Like we can send a spreadsheet and have your guys like do this stuff, do the lifting for us, which the spreadsheet has got a lot of stuff we got to venture too.
Jason Widup: Yeah, right.
Alex Rector: So it’s kind of like we’re doing the work but we’re not doing the work. It’s like we got to just like get – you want to get to the place, right, where the user experience is so intuitive that they don’t really have to like do this kind of spreadsheet back and forth business, right?
Jason Widup: Exactly, yeah, and the spreadsheet specifically is one of the first things we’re replacing. You know, that’s like janky and, you know, it’s like let’s just put it in the platform and then if we put it in the platform, maybe that’s how it goes into the campaigns. You know what I mean? It’s like …
Alex Rector: I look at it like it’s kind of like babysitting, all right? It’s like you’re babysitting your client to help them get the info in the right fields and really like if you go into Metadata, it’s not rocket science to get it done. But again, like if you’re dealing with some like high level marketing folks, you know, people who don’t really have time to like learn the platform or don’t want to learn how to do it, you’re going to have this issue, right?
Jason Widup: Yeah, yeah.
Alex Rector: It’s not going to go away easily.
Jason Widup: You got it. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, that’s what we’re focusing and that’s where I like to see, you know – but every single release, we’re adding more AI that takes more of the work off of people and so we will have improvements in those areas as well. But …
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Jason Widup: I think those are the main areas.
Alex Rector: OK. Well, you know, I think we’re getting close on time Jason. I want to be respectful. I don’t know if you have a meeting …
Alex Rector: Yeah, I think you’re going to get taken away. So I don’t want to end abruptly here. But I really appreciate the conversation. Where can people go to learn more about metadata? Anything else you want to drop out to the listeners right now? You know, let it roll.
Jason Widup: Yeah. No. Just, yeah, check us out, Metadata.io. Yeah, just get entertained, get educated. We do focus a lot on just general B to B marketing education. You know, platform agnostics. So check out our resources area. We do podcasts. We do guides like – and it’s all ungated. So have at it.
Alex Rector: Awesome. All right. Well, thanks so much Jason.
Jason Widup: Awesome. Thanks Alex.
Read the transcript
Alex Rector: All right. So recently guys, I shared a post about marketing through voicemail and some different cases where it might be a good thing to drop a bulk voicemail. I thought it would be an interesting topic because a lot of people have strong opinions about voicemail in general.
In my career, I’ve worked with two camps, you know, people who think it might be worthwhile to spend and try out voicemail drops and then folks that think voicemail is just out of the question and they would never stoop so low as to drop voicemails in people’s mailbox.
So I’m curious to explore what other businesses and marketers were doing. Today I’m joined by someone who’s an authority on the subject, the President of MobileSphere, Mr. Toufic Mobarak and please correct me if I completely butchered your name Toufic.
Toufic Mobarak: Close enough, close enough.
Alex Rector: Close enough. OK, great. Toufic, thanks for hopping on today. To get started, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. MobileSphere does ringless voicemail but that’s not the only communication service in your lineup.
Toufic Mobarak: No. Actually they are the inventor, the patent holder of ringless voicemail. We started this back in, yes, 2010, 2008, 2009, around that and we got the patent I would say 2014, a few years later and so the first app, we did the ringless voicemail, was an app called SlyDial. It was extremely popular, front page on the New York Times articles. It hit it very hard but then once we get that, we said, well maybe we need to do it as more a business tool versus just a consumer product.
Then this was when we launched SlyBroadcast which is kind of a service – a software base, web base and an app base targeted for businesses to be able to send voicemails to a larger audience. The advantage of voicemail is it’s personal. People’s voice is a signature. It’s very personal versus a text. You can pretend it’s you but it’s a text. Your text will sound and look exactly like mine. There is no difference.
Alex Rector: Right.
Toufic Mobarak: So that’s – what is my voice and your voice are very different, very unique.
Alex Rector: I got you. So everyone understands SlyDial – now what’s the difference between SlyDial and SlyBroadcast?
Toufic Mobarak: OK. SlyDial is an app, a smartphone app and it’s for one-on-one communication, right? So let’s say I want to leave you a voicemail. I want to call you and leave you a voicemail. I don’t want talk to you. Just I want to leave you a voicemail. I would use SlyDial one on one. That’s on the phone. It’s integrated with the contacts. You just – SlyBroadcast is a web tool where you can record the message and upload lists and it gives you reporting in addition, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s one to many versus one on one plus significantly more advanced features as well as reporting. So you get how many people delivered, what the cause of the failure, et cetera, et cetera.
Alex Rector: Got it, yeah. And, you know, I’m familiar with SlyBroadcast as a marketer and my background.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: We’ve talked about using SlyBroadcast in our campaigns, ahead of events. There’s all sorts of use cases we’ve considered SlyBroadcast. Now whenever you look at your lineup, what is your – kind of your bestselling different services that you offer?
Toufic Mobarak: So – and then let me finish with the – and then we have a texting platform called SlyText which we launched maybe four years ago, five years ago and it’s a two-way communication and you can send videos, you can send text.
In addition, we SMS-enable your business VoIP or landline. So now the text messages can come from your landline or so people are familiar with it. Let’s say you are a real estate agent or you are a small business shop or you are – you have a law office. You have your landline and then now the text messages can come from your landline versus some random number. And it’s – all our services are voice-enabled. So if somebody wants to call you back, they can call you back.
Alex Rector: OK, yeah. That’s great.
Toufic Mobarak: You see, so it’s not like – or they can text you back. So it’s more communication, two-way communication. So the lineup and then we have – we just launched a couple of other products for overseas market which integrates with WhatsApp but it’s for mostly Europe and Asia. So I will not address those here. I mean they’re all – you know, each product has a fit in our product line. Like SlyDial, it’s an extremely popular app. It’s free with ads and what we use Sly Dial, we advertise our other services.
Alex Rector: OK.
Toufic Mobarak: So for us, it’s a lot of – a lot of our customers come from using SlyDial. It’s free. I mean you have a premium version if you don’t want to get the ads. But most of our customers use this for free and it’s kind of a marketing vehicle for us for the other products we have.
Then we see a lot of use cases where people want the voicemail and texting, right? So for some instances, voicemail makes sense. It’s more personal. You know, more the human element that’s much, much more important whereas text, it’s more informational, right? So let’s say – again we go back to real estate or real estate agents can send you voicemail and then send you a text. Hey, the house opening, it’s 125.
So in cases where the information is important, you know, whether I’m giving you an address, I’m giving you a date, I’m giving you a phone number. Texting is a better vehicle. The other one where it’s more the emotional aspect and the storytelling aspect if you will of the – then voicemail is significantly more important because it’s you. It’s your voice. Your voice is you. It’s your signature.
Alex Rector: Yeah, and I think that’s definitely the biggest selling point for using something like SlyBroadcast. You can state what you’re trying to state away that you want to say it and really if – there’s some kind of complex idea you’re trying to communicate or there’s some – there’s a certain way it needs to be delivered, then using your voice is clearly a great way to do that.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: Are you typically – like whenever you’re working with businesses, who are you usually talking to? Is it usually marketing folks or are you looking for service folks?
Toufic Mobarak: It depends because – it depends on the nature of the business, right? So our product is used – marketing obviously but not only marketing. Notification. In the healthcare, we use it because it’s HIPAA-compliant. Text is not HIPAA-compliant. People use it in political campaigns.
So it depends which organization and the type of – what – the type of use case they’re going to do. It depends. It can be marketing. It could be people responsible for logistics. It could be people responsible for internal human resources. A lot of companies use us internally to communicate.
So again it all depends on what the use case are. So marketing is one of them, an important one. I’m not underestimating that. But it’s not the only one.
Alex Rector: Right, that makes sense. Those are some great examples too.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah. And the way we can – you know, and any communication we have, there is always – kind of communication have different – so you have different components if you will. You have the emotional component, right? You know, humans who are not just communicating information. It’s the storytelling, the emotional component of communication is critical.
Then you have the pure informational component if you will. Let’s say I’m telling you meet me at 12:30 at 25 Main Street. There’s no emotion in it, right? Or I can tell you, hey, meet me up, you know, and then even if the same component, the same informational component in it, the emotional component can be very, very different and for humans, emotional is much, much more emotional than anything else. So text messaging is great for just if I want to communicate with the information. Emojis can add some emotional contact to it but voice is definitely – in addition to having the content of the information, the emotional component is so much more enhanced.
Alex Rector: That’s great, yeah.
Toufic Mobarak: So it’s, you know …
Alex Rector: Super important. I think that people won’t remember what you said or who you are but they will remember how you made them feel, right?
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: So …
Toufic Mobarak: Oh, yeah.
Alex Rector: Depending on how you deliver the message. That could be very important and that’s a big reason to tap into and potentially consider voicemail or a kind of recording of a message as a vehicle for communication. But whenever I bring up like SlyBroadcast or I’m trying to pitch this as part of something that we might use in a marketing campaign, working with the executives, working with other decision-makers. I get a lot of objections and I’m just curious. You know, how do you overcome some of the stigma around voicemail that you …?
Toufic Mobarak: What kind of objections do you get?
Alex Rector: So I run into people that are – you know, they’re worried that voicemail might hurt their reputation, if we did a voicemail drop and they just have a negative …
Toufic Mobarak: Versus what?
Alex Rector: Versus just doing something like email or doing like a mobile text messaging. They just have a negative connotation about voicemail. I’m just curious what you see out there.
Toufic Mobarak: Everything, we are comparing A to A, right? B to B or orange to apples. So if you are comparing a text message to a voicemail, voicemail is a lot less intrusive. It’s more personal. You know, where you get a notification and you jump and it’s oh, you know, and the other thing is not – and we would like to keep it this way. It’s not as used, right? I mean it might be counterintuitive for our business interest, right? To say, you know, what I tell my customer, less is more. With us, less is more. So it’s not – don’t send them 500 voicemails every day.
No. Send them once. Even though it’s against our pure financial, selfish financial interest. But for the long term, we believe that’s a sustainable way is less is more. Versus texting, you know, you get a text. I don’t know if it’s more annoying or less annoying but definitely annoying versus there’s a voicemail. You can listen to it at your own leisure and as I said, the emotional content is there.
If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. This way, don’t answer. If the content is relevant to you, you can always call this person back. But it’s definitely the – it’s not intrusive. Non-intrusive versus a call which you have to call and you say, “Oh no, sorry. You know, I’m not interested,” and to relay the information, you relay what they’re talking to you about. It's not heavily used like the email. I mean how many emails you get a day honestly? It’s like 90 percent goes – 99 percent probably go to delete.
So there, listen to it and again I repeat. With us is less is more and the value of the voicemail is that it’s there when you need it and it’s not – you don’t have to listen to 500. Usually it’s two or three days, this is what you get and that’s it. I would like to keep it this way.
Alex Rector: Yeah, and I think that’s really the power of the voicemail these days. Whenever I look into it, voicemail doesn’t happen as much as it used to. People are not leaving messages all the time whenever they go to voicemail anymore. So …
Toufic Mobarak: That’s correct.
Alex Rector: And people aren’t getting a lot of voicemails in general. So whenever people get voicemails – I know I listen to all my voicemails.
Toufic Mobarak: Oh, you – absolutely and this is what – the biggest objection we got is not what you mentioned the biggest objection. But nobody – I don’t leave voicemail. That’s exactly the point. When you get a voice maybe sent, it must be very important. Somebody left me a voicemail, you know. So yes, out of – look at it from your personal view, that you are calling somebody, a friend, and he or she doesn’t answer. No big deal. But if you have something important and he or she doesn’t answer, you leave a voicemail. When you do, you know, they’re going to listen to it because scarcity equals value. Scarcity equals importance.
Alex Rector: And that’s how I look at this too. That’s really what my argument is whenever I’m talking about using voicemail. I think that there’s one other issue that comes up that I had a question about and that’s the challenge of kind of like the ambiguity or not knowing where a phone number is going to go. Like if they have – like if I’m working marketing, right, and I’ve got a database of contacts and we split them up into different groups that we want to reach through different channels. Well, how can I guarantee that I’m going to deliver these voicemails to these people? Is there a way that I can – like a method for me to figure out? Like if the voicemail is going to go where it needs to go, if I do like a bulk send?
Toufic Mobarak: Oh, well, it goes where the phone number is. I mean that’s – if your phone number is not accurate, there’s nothing we can do about it, right? But the phone – and then we – the report will tell you if it was delivered or if it was not delivered.
Alex Rector: OK, yeah.
Toufic Mobarak: So if it’s delivered, that means it’s 100 percent delivered. It’s not like oh, yeah, no. With us, it’s 100 – if we tell you it’s delivered, you can take it to the bank. It’s delivered. If it’s not delivered, we give you the reason why, whether the phone is disconnected or it’s full, the voicemail is full, the voicemail is not set up, et cetera. Like three or four cases where the voicemail cannot be delivered but the reporting will tell you.
Let’s say you have 100 numbers. You send 100 voicemails. Let’s say 90 got delivered. These are 90. You know they are delivered and the 10 that didn’t get delivered, then you know they didn’t get delivered for whatever reason. If the voicemail is full in that setup, then you know you have to use another alternative or if the phone is bad, then you know hey, this is a bad number. Remove it from the list.
So we allow you also – you know, it’s kind of use it as a clean-up tool. This is not what we market it as but it’s a side benefit, right? You know, hey, if the phone number is disconnected, remove it. That’s the person no longer has this number. So that’s an additional value provided in the reporting. But again, the reporting tells you the story.
Alex Rector: Yeah, that’s great. Yeah. We would definitely use that to help clean up the database as well. At least we would do some due diligence to figure out the numbers are right, right?
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alex Rector: But yeah, I mean I think that’s probably the other thing that comes up the most whenever I start talking about SlyBroadcast with other marketers and folks that are involved in the decision-making process on that. They just don’t have confidence in their own database with the mobile numbers, right?
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: So there needs to be some cleanup done ahead of time usually or some kind of ops work. It has to go into it before we would actually even try it, right?
Toufic Mobarak: Yes, absolutely. As I say, all attitude – garbage in, garbage out if you have – you know, so I mean …
Alex Rector: That’s so true.
Toufic Mobarak: You know, so you have to – the starting point has to be good.
Alex Rector: And so thinking about marketing and sales, what are some different and like interesting ways that you’ve seen your products used or integrated into like campaigns or sales processes? Does anything come to mind, that sticks out?
Toufic Mobarak: I keep saying it. I keep coming back to the same thing, personal. It’s a personal message. This is not the radio ad. This is not the Facebook ad. This is a personal message. So you are reaching and today, the world we live in, the personal contact is huge. It’s missing. It’s missing in all the – like all the promotional campaigns. You mentioned whether it’s email, whether it’s text message, whether it’s social media, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, whatever social media.
The personal aspect, the personal connection is missing and I think this is – if you tell me what is the single most important element to our success is that as well we provide the personal connection to your customer and there is nothing more powerful – for me, there is nothing more powerful than this.
Everything else is – yeah. Everything else is qualifications, modifications, but the single most important element is we provide a tool to be personal with your customers and I don’t think of any other tool that allows you to do this.
Alex Rector: Yeah, and I think – yeah, when I thought about using like SlyBroadcast, some different like options where we could integrate it, where – you know, like something like ahead of an event where we’re having like an exclusive event, you know, high-level decision makers. We need to have onsite somewhere and we want to deliver like a really kind of – a more personal invitation. So like record the message from the CEO of the company.
You know, then he could really put the – communicate it in the best way possible as a personal invitation to the folks receiving the message. I think we – like the challenge is like you can’t really personalize it through this specific person so much if we’re doing like a broadcast, right?
Toufic Mobarak: But it’s personal.
Alex Rector: But yeah, I think there are ways to make it sound like it’s more like a personal message, right? We just left it for them.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: So I mean that’s the way that – that’s one example that I’ve had discussions about in the past.
Toufic Mobarak: My favorite example of a use for our technology, we had – we donate our service to Make-A-Wish Foundation, to all their chapters. Make-A-Wish Foundation functions – it’s a national organization that is divided in chapters and the chapters act fairly independently.
So we had – and we give it – you know, I don’t know how many we have. We have maybe 30 chapters right now using us and they were doing a fundraising, the chapter in Arizona, Phoenix. They were doing a fundraising and to have the children record a message, to have a group of children, five – I don’t know, a small group of children and …
Alex Rector: Wow.
Toufic Mobarak: Yes, and then they had – the message is sent to the donors, thanking them and inviting them for their annual event that was taking place. And the chairman of the organization for Make-A-Wish of the chapter in Phoenix got the message and he was giving his speech on this and he played the message that he had received from this child and everybody was in tears.
So go back – you know, everything is personal, is emotional, is – all this is kind of – all what we have been talking about comes – it’s all reflective in this message that these kids have sent to their donors because it addresses the emotional, it addresses the personal, the personal connection, et cetera. The other one that was very popular is Ryan Reynolds. You know, the movie star.
Alex Rector: Yeah, of course.
Toufic Mobarak: OK. Ryan Reynolds owned a mobile company called Mint Mobile.
Alex Rector: OK, yeah, yeah.
Toufic Mobarak: OK. Mint Mobile did a campaign with us when COVID started and they – Ryan Reynolds sent a voicemail to all his customers saying that we are going to give you a free – it was a free month for data or something for COVID, right? I don’t recall what the offer was, but this was free data. I don’t know if it was free in gig or free month. I don’t recall the details but it was a bunch of free data they were offering to their customers and you should see the reaction on social media. You know, oh my god, Ryan Reynolds had left me a voicemail. Oh, yes for this. I’m going to – you know.
Alex Rector: That’s so great, yeah.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: I love that.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah. So all this – again, all this personal connection that voice creates, it’s unmatchable, unmatchable.
Alex Rector: Yeah, I think that’s a really interesting use case. Both of those are great. I think you got the emotional element. You’ve heard it with the children. That’s very powerful. Awesome idea, you know. Whoever came up with that, that is so great. Ryan Reynolds. I mean if you could get an influencer, someone huge and famous like Ryan Reynolds to do something like this and do a bulk send, you know, for a marketing offer, I think that is a great idea. I love that.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: I didn’t think …
Toufic Mobarak: Cool. You should too. Cool, cool reaction. You should see Ryan – do a Google. Ryan Reynolds voicemail, right? And the reaction on Twitter, on all – it was hilarious. I mean a huge success for them. It was not – because they gained two things. One is the voicemail they delivered and the other thing is the reaction, the expanded media they get on the – and social media. It’s huge. Yeah.
Alex Rector: I mean that’s great and you know, you compare that with some of the other things out there too. It’s like you got – like Cameo is doing this now. Like they’ve got the cameo, little celebrity cameos. You can hire them through the online and have them come on. I’ve seen a few folks using that for marketing now too. I think it’s something like that paired with a voicemail from the same actor. That could be a really powerful marketing …
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah, absolutely.
Alex Rector: … option there.
Toufic Mobarak: Absolutely.
Alex Rector: But that’s just really cool. Yeah, and it would definitely start a social firestorm, right? If you just nailed it just right.
Toufic Mobarak: Oh, yeah.
Alex Rector: So it’s really …
Toufic Mobarak: And it happened during COVID. So everybody had nothing to do but to be on social media. So they got the double whammy here.
Alex Rector: That’s so good. So clever. Just good, you know. So I also wanted to talk to you about like the technology side with the products that you have on your line-up. As a – working in marketing, a lot of times I work on the ops side, dealing with the tech stack and that kind of thing. The questions coming to my mind is like how can we really best leverage this and I’m curious. As far as like integrations go and working with other – like CRM systems and things like that. How does that work with your products?
Toufic Mobarak: We integrate with a bunch of them. HubSpot, Salesforce.
Alex Rector: Right.
Toufic Mobarak: I mean I don’t know. Maybe 10.
Alex Rector: OK.
Toufic Mobarak: Ten or fifteen. We love integration. We love – we are honestly – if you ask to define MobileSphere, we’re a bunch of geeks. You know, we’re a software company. We’re a bunch of geeks working here and doing products that hopefully people like and found useful and beneficial for their business, personal, whatever they want to communicate, right?
So integration for us is important. So any company that comes to us, we do the lifting, the heavy lifting. We will integrate with anybody. So then we have done quite a bit and we will continue to do those. So that’s a critical part of our – strategically important, strategically. We don’t have ego. We don’t want them to come to our product. As long as they use it through other channels, it’s music to our ears.
Alex Rector: OK, yeah, yeah. I mean that’s great. You hit the nail too from right there. You know, HubSpot and Salesforce are huge. Definitely going to be questions about that if we start bringing this up and like so if you were working with HubSpot or Salesforce in the integration, how does that like – what do you see with – if we were to do like SlyBroadcast? Is there just like an update on the contact timeline or …?
Toufic Mobarak: You know what? They integrate them with their campaigns. So we are just another way in their campaign flow. They just send a voicemail and we integrate with them.
Alex Rector: Oh, wow. OK. Yeah, that’s even better. That’s great.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah, yeah.
Alex Rector: That’s really great.
Toufic Mobarak: Again, yeah, it’s part of the campaign flow. They can send …
Alex Rector: They sent like a nurturing flow and put it together. They can have your – like a voicemail drop as part of that.
Toufic Mobarak: Got you. Yeah, yes, exactly.
Alex Rector: That’s really cool, that’s really cool.
Toufic Mobarak: That’s exactly right.
Alex Rector: Yeah. I think that – you know, I think if more marketers knew about that, they would love to know that they could do that, you know.
Toufic Mobarak: Yes, yeah. We try to tell them. We try to tell them. It’s on our website. So …
Alex Rector: Yeah. Having like a variety with the marketing …
Toufic Mobarak: And then the other thing we agree with, we integrate with is Zapier. I don’t know if you are familiar with Zapier.
Alex Rector: Yeah.
Toufic Mobarak: So Zapier we have integrated with them. I don’t know a couple of years ago. So any tool that integrates with Zapier actually integrates with us. So that kind of – that’s kind of – your door just opened. It just kind of eliminated the …
Alex Rector: Sometimes my critters can open my door. So you get some intruders every once in a while, so sorry about that.
Toufic Mobarak: No problem. No worries and then the – like it integrates with everybody that integrates with Zapier. We have another couple of companies similar to Zapier that are on the website. But Zapier is by far the largest one.
Intechra [0:28:13] [Phonetic] I think is another one that we integrate with. A similar tool like Zapier but Zapier – again, as I said, it’s so – so we don’t know how many companies. I can tell you how many we have done but that many other companies that have integrated or users have integrated through us, through Zapier because they use tool A that integrates with Zapier and we integrate Zapier and the user. So that has been a great, great solution for us.
Alex Rector: Zapier is probably the most well-known and in my experience, widely used like middleware.
Toufic Mobarak: Yeah.
Alex Rector: Software. So I’m totally – I would be excited to know that you can integrate with Zapier. I think that there’s a ton of different things you can do if you can integrate through Zapier. So …
Toufic Mobarak: Yes.
Alex Rector: … that will help with overall dealing with the different tech stack challenges and that’s great, you know. I would love to hear that you guys are working on integration. You’ve got different things. So I think we’re kind of getting close on time here. So I wanted to ask you before we wrap up here. Like is there anything we should be looking forward to with your products upcoming this year? Are there any bigger leases on the roadmap? Is there anything else you would want to share?
Toufic Mobarak: Well, I’m not going to release too much but for us, tracking is the next, tracking.
Alex Rector: OK.
Toufic Mobarak: I think a layer of tracking. That’s what we’re working on.
Alex Rector: OK. Yeah, that’s always great. Have a little tracking going on. I think that’s good. If you are – with our viewers, is there – do you have any like ongoing promotions? Where should they go to learn more or …?
Toufic Mobarak: SlyBroadcast.com for the broadcasting site. SlyText.com for texting.
Alex Rector: OK. All right. You guys heard it. Is there anything else you would like to add Toufic?
Toufic Mobarak: No, thank you for your time.
Alex Rector: Thank you so much for joining us today and best wishes to MobileSphere and SlyBroadcast. We will tap in and hopefully this has been helpful for everybody.
Toufic Mobarak: OK. Thank you Alex.
Alex Rector: Thanks.
Toufic Mobarak: Bye-bye.
Alex Rector: Bye-bye.
[End of transcript]