Dan Siepen

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Dan Siepen is a growth marketer who's worked with over 40+ SaaS startups and eCommerce brands, ranging from early stage startups, funded startups, hyper-growth companies, and established enterprises. He's also an entrepreneur who has built Australia's biggest group of growth hackers, co-founded Australia's #1 coding school, and sold a successful accounting SaaS startup.

Dan is excited about the future of Web3 marketing and all things growth marketing. He's also a craft beer fanatic, latte drinker and passionate sports lover.

Digital Marketing with Dan Siepen

Welcome to 15 questions with Dan Siepen on Digital Marketing.

Here we cover:

  • Dan's marketing background
  • Dan's take on Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • Peer to Peer Marketing
  • Dan's approach to the changing marketing landscape
  • Web3 marketing.

Let's get started.

Tell us a little about you and how you became a growth marketer?

I’m a growth marketer from Sydney. I’ve been working as a growth marketer for over 7+ years and absolutely love what I do. 

I’ve worked with brands, across many industries, in SaaS, eCommerce and B2B. From Series A funded startups, early stage SaaS companies to then larger corporations. I’ve definitely seen it all. Each stage is quite different when it comes to growth.

I fit the criteria of a “T-shaped marketer”. In other words, I have deep channel focuses (such as paid media channels, copywriting, funnel building/landing pages, CRO, email marketing, content marketing, and overall growth strategy), as well as skills across a range of other discipline areas (e.g. data analytics, programmatic SEO, etc). 

How I got started

In terms of how I got started, I did a degree in marketing at UTS. I was hungry to work with startups which I knew I was certain about in my penultimate year (20 y/o at the time). However, in order to work for one, I needed the right experience and skills. 

I ended up interning at a couple of places, which one ended up becoming my first full time job. In fact, it didn’t just become any FT job, I ended up becoming a co-founder and stayed in the business for 4.5 years. Seeing a business grow from $0 and 2 people, into a $4.5 million p.a. (and 30+ staff) startup in just a couple of years was a good experience. 

From that startup experience alone, it was in many ways my marketing and startup MBA. I learned a lot. 

What advice would you give someone that is starting a career in digital marketing?

There’s a lot of great advice out there already from a lot of successful marketers I respect. I’m sure anyone reading this has their favourites and probably reads a lot of blog posts (or Twitter threads).

For me personally, the biggest advice I can share for anyone who’s starting out in this career, and if you really want to accelerate your learning curve in digital marketing, is to work for a funded startup or scale-up. 

The reason why I say this is that it’s the best environment to accelerate your learning. You will not only learn new channels and skills, but also learn responsibility really quickly, and you’re accountable for the decisions that you make. This will help you to become equipped with the right skills and mentality to accelerate your career path. I’ve seen many junior marketers who’ve gone into senior leadership positions in a short span of time. I don’t believe they would have achieved this career growth if they worked for a corporate. 

Just to quickly clarify, I don’t recommend you go to work for a startup as the only marketer, but find a startup workplace that has, at the very least, an experienced head of growth/senior marketer that you can learn from. 

In conjunction with working with a startup/scale-up, you need to be certain that you’re passionate about what they do as a business. From experience running startups, and hiring marketers myself, you can definitely tell when someone really genuinely cares about what you do as a business. Focus on working for companies that matter to you, rather than a nice paycheck.

What is your favourite marketing strategy or channel, and why?

I have so many haha. Where do I begin? :)

I’ll split it into three favourites. 

1. Ads - nothing beats the satisfaction of building a profitable ads funnel that delivers epic ROAS. 

2. Content Marketing/SEO - Whilst building profitable ads funnels is a lot of fun, I think a new recent favourite I’ve really dived into further as a skill, is content marketing and SEO. This is mainly for three reasons: 

  • The ad platforms are becoming more expensive, as well as more competitive.
  • Whilst SEO can take a while, I've seen first hand how it can really accelerate the growth curve of a business.
  • I love content strategy. Content marketing is more than just blog posts. I’m talking about building content creation teams and the ability to come up with a solid distribution and repurposing plan.

3. CRO / Analytics - The final one for me is CRO and analytics, especially working on big sites. Always a fun challenge to improve conversions and build/measure funnels. 

What does your current day-to-day look like as a growth marketer?

Aside from what I feel like is being stuck in Slack, project management tools and meetings most of the time (haha), my day-to-day does change depending on what the priority focuses are. 

With actual work, it’s a mixture between: 

  • Copywriting (LP’s, Ads, etc).
  • Low-fid Mockups (CRO, LP’s, etc).
  • Analytics (checking campaigns, writing reports, analysing results and what experiments to do next in the experiment tracker). 
  • Paid ads across Facebook & Google

Then operationally day-to-day, it's a mixture between:

  • Checking the project management tools for priority tasks and planning campaigns.
  • Developing strategies and tactics for campaigns and important initiatives.
  • Slack for instant comms and urgent items.
  • Checking each of the paid accounts daily I’m working on.

What’s a common mistake you see companies make when it comes to CRO?

To be honest, there have been quite a few companies I’ve worked with that don’t do the best job of tracking their experiments (or in many cases, not at all), or have a poor experimentation process.

Too many organisations aren’t disciplined enough in this area. Whatever is being tested should be tracked, even if it’s in a spreadsheet. 

Otherwise, how do you know how your experiments are improving over time? 

The best teams, that have done CRO well, know what they’re testing and have a great process around this.

What are some of the 'quick win' changes a marketer can make to their site with CRO?

It’s a bit of a harder question to answer, as it depends on context. 

However, quick wins in my eyes would be making sure you: 

  • Have an experiment tracker.
  • Have a process for reviewing your analytics at least a few times per week.
  • Know how to prioritise which initiatives to work on that move the needle.
  • Use a heatmapping tool and a session recording tool (e.g. Hotjar, Lucky Orange, Full Story).

If you do the above, you will identify quick wins in a flash.

What type of brands and verticals would benefit the most from Conversion Rate Optimisations?

Simply put, all brands.

All types of businesses, especially eCommerce, SaaS, and any business at a decent size, should be making CRO a focus.

Which companies are you most impressed by when it comes to CRO?

This is also a fairly hard question to answer, but it is a great one.

Whilst you don’t get real-time insights into CRO changes of brands (not easily anyway unless you use a competitive intelligence tool), and knowing how frequent they make changes, if you’ve been in this industry for a while, you do pick up when brands are testing various forms of their marketing (e.g. landing pages, ads, etc). 

For me personally, I know, just from observing over time, that these companies are always testing: 

  • Amazon
  • Hotjar (obviously)
  • Gumtree
  • Catch.com.au

And there are many others I like. These are just a handful of examples.

Quick Tip: I recommend saving some of your favourite SaaS/eCommerce brands into a bookmarks folder, or by creating your own “swipe file”. Bookmark their main landing/product pages, save their social media profile links, screenshot their ads, etc. You get the picture.

What's your take on peer-to-peer marketing, like customer referral programs?

Peer-to-peer marketing is the ultimate goal for marketers and brands in my opinion. 

It simply means when existing customers and users recommend your product/services to their friends, family, colleagues and other peers. 

As mentioned in the question, one of the best strategies to encourage strong peer-to-peer activity, and activate users into action by making it easy to recommend your products/services, is through setting up, and growing your own customer referral program. 

Why are referral programs crucial for your business (especially more than ever)?

  • Ad platforms are becoming more and more expensive.
  • Epic ROI (especially when you get it right).
  • Automates growth and new customer acquisition.
  • Retention and LTV metrics are usually really good.
  • Turns your existing customers into brand advocates.

What are the ingredients for a successful customer referral program?

These are the main ingredients for a consumer referral program, in my opinion;

  • You need to have a decent audience base. Minimum 2,000+ active customers or users. Anything less and you won’t see the benefits.
  • Double-sided programs are your best bet.
  • Put effort into the design and UX.
  • Ensure good copy and use awesome visuals.
  • Ask at the right time - don’t put effort into inactive users or non-paying customers.

Another key thing to remember is making sure users can easily find it. I’ve seen quite a few companies who hide it on a separate subdomain and not mention it anywhere apart from a simple email 3 days after purchase. To make a referral program work, make sure it's accessible and remind users from time to time.

These ingredients don't necessarily apply for non consumer referral programs, like for B2B businesses, services or employee recruitment.

Which companies have had the best referral programs in your eyes?

You’ve got the famous referral case studies from the likes of Dropbox, Airbnb, Harry’s and Uber, which everyone talks about. 

However, there are many other brands that are doing a stellar job. These are some of my favourites (just type into Google “X company” ‘referral programs’ or ‘refer a friend’ to find them).

  • Hellofresh
  • Casper
  • Koala
  • Frank Body
  • Adore Beauty

There are many others I’m sure you will find.

How are you or your organisation(s) navigating the changing advertising landscape with third-party cookie sunsetting?

Yeah, this is a hot topic (naturally) with all the companies I work with.

It’s a fairly big topic to condense into a simple answer.

A big focus right now is moving to first-party data solutions, tracking setups, and ideating on first party strategies and tactics we can implement in marketing campaigns.

Some of the data collection activities we’re focusing on in regards to product and analytics include:

  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • User registration
  • Event-based tracking
  • Customer feedback/polls

Another major focus (even despite cookies sunsetting, just due to competition across ads) is CRO-based tactics such as newsletter options, referral campaigns, affiliates, etc.

How do you think Web3 will impact marketing as we know it today?

I think it’s going to have a significant impact, especially with the sunsetting of cookies. 

Even right now, companies are moving fast and seeing Web3 as a big opportunity to get away from the reliance on ad platforms. This is particularly evident with what’s happened with iOS 14.

On top of that, you’ve got more consumers who are just getting smarter about their privacy and cookies.

So, in many ways, companies have no choice but to adopt a “Web3 mindset” and start implementing key Web3 marketing strategies. 

Four core Web3 strategies include: 

  • NFTs
  • Referral programs
  • Loyalty/VIP programs
  • Metaverse

This is only scratching the surface. Each of the above can have different tiers/levels. 

I can certainly see many of the above being applicable to eCommerce brands who want to get away from the heavy reliance on ads as a customer acquisition source. 

Are you excited about the future of Web3 and marketing?

Absolutely. As I answer these questions, we’re still very much in the early phases of Web3 adoption.

A lot of the Web3 marketing strategies I’ve found so far to be quite unconventional, especially in the NFT space. 

One thing I have found amazing is the number of notable household brands that are really taking advantage of NFTs and incorporating Web3 initiatives into their business. 

Some notable brands include Coca-Cola, Disney and Gucci. Definitely look up what they’re doing. 

There are also many exciting platforms that are being built or moving to the focus of Web3, just like Gather. 

That’s why I’m so excited to be on this journey with Iz.

It’s going to be building awesome tech around referral, loyalty/VIP programs, NFTs, and more. 

In your opinion, what can companies do today to take advantage of Web3?

You should definitely consider incorporating Web3 strategies. I believe it can unlock a new revenue opportunity for your business. 

That means NFTs and loyalty/VIP programs. Research and look into what some of the top brands are doing.

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