Eli tells us all about her humble beginnings and how she came to be the queen bee of search and app marketing!
Tell us a bit about yourself and how your career took off.
My origin story is a bit unusual! My degree is in electrical engineering – nothing related to marketing or business management. However, sixteen years ago, I accidentally fell into SEO while I was looking to earn money during college. By the time I finished my degree, I really liked how working in digital was allowing me to marry various creative and technical aspects. I decided to switch to digital marketing completely. I didn’t have a specific vision of the perfect job but I focused more on projects that I would like to work on.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I was very lucky to benefit from a string of opportunities and I got involved in all sorts of projects and companies, in varying fields such as SaaS, security, gaming, food delivery, travel, and fintech.
I had big responsibilities and budgets at a time when my experience did not match that so I am very grateful to the people who allowed me to get on those stepping stones and get to where I am today.
How did your journey with Apidae start?
I met Clint, Apidae’s CEO and martech expert, when we were both working at Casumo. Years later, when both of us were doing different things and in very different places, Clint reached out to me that he was interested in doing something on his own and he wanted to know if I was interested to be a part of it – both of us were fans of the idea of being digital nomads and we had kept in touch. Soon after, I also met Matthew, our affiliate and performance marketing guru, and the three of us started ideating. The rest is history!
We have very matching personalities, skills, and personal and business ethics. The way that everything gelled together was very seamless.
Describe your role within Apidae.
I handle all the performance marketing initiatives, paid campaigns in particular, for a variety of projects. I do anything from audits and analysis to implementing and managing the campaigns, whether that is paid search, paid social, app marketing, aspects of martech, making sure everything is tracked and we can make sense of data etc.
The other facet that I take care of relates to the content that we develop at Apidae – overseeing what goes out the door and sometimes also being a contributor myself. I am a passionate devourer of anything and everything digital marketing and I enjoy circulating it all as well.
What is performance marketing? What are the best and worst aspects of performance marketing?
Performance marketing is running any type of paid media activity that has a defined goal in mind. It’s not just about boosting a post aimlessly but rather spending budget in a considerate and very calculated way.. It depends on the industry, but most of the time, the end game is purchases and revenue…growth at a profit!
The best aspect of performance marketing is that most of the time, the results are immediate – you can see metrics pop up in just a few hours and/or days. It’s very easy and fast to attribute the result back to the dollar that’s being spent. It brings efficiency to marketing efforts and budget spending. From a data point of view, it is a joy to work with and will definitely appeal to the analytical minds. Being one by training, you can imagine I relish digging my teeth into it all.
The worst of it is that, since it is the most bottom-line profitable side of marketing, it can be used and abused. Sometimes it’s easy to go down the slope of only doing performance marketing campaigns and largely ignoring other areas that fill up the pipeline in terms of interest and consideration. Not to mention community management and customer care – which have become very important nowadays. Many times the aspects of building a brand and devising additional marketing initiatives and campaigns to support what you’re doing are ignored or put on the backburner.
Are there any common challenges that you face with clients?
When we see clients focusing solely on performance marketing campaigns, we highlight what the limitations are. Sometimes people forget that customers still need to come through a funnel, irrespective of performance marketing strategies.
Another common direction we see is implementing aggressive strategies on extended periods of time like heavy discounts, over-targeting people, etc. Hitting the same people with ads over and over again tends to be a problematic strategy because usually companies do not have a backup plan for what comes next and they end up at a standstill when the well runs dry.
Always a delicate part, is agreeing on the budgets and KPIs. This is something that we devise and divulge with the client but getting to the optimal minimum budget that we can start with, that will get us good enough results that will be statistically significant for scaling, is one of the trickiest things to do. It is so sensitive in so many aspects.
Lastly, when you have multiple clients in multiple geos, you need to keep in mind and work according to the digital maturity level of each client. You need to keep things at a pace in accordance with where everyone is at that point in time and what they are comfortable with.
You also specialize in app marketing…is that something every business should invest in?
It largely depends on the business you have. Some industries are very tailored to it, particularly businesses that can be accessed from any device or any place. In some cases, it will not make sense for your business.
Companies have to consider what the app can bring, in addition, to what their website is currently offering and look at apps as not just a vehicle for user engagement. You cannot simply replicate what you have on the website and give your customers a discount for purchasing on the app. This strategy is applied by many businesses in the hopes of getting their users in a new medium that will now allow them to send lots of push notifications.
Those additional services and features ideally have to be app-seamless experiences – this is where they become very successful and stop being just a website extension.
Also, the more you make it interesting and fun, the more people will use it because they like it and enjoy using it.
For the businesses that are already app-centric by nature, I would say the key to successful app growth and profitable marketing efforts is solid data collection and processing capabilities and tracking.
What would you describe as your strengths and weaknesses?
I am very curious and I like to keep myself busy at all times which is a blessing and a curse. I like to learn a lot of things and I’m very analytical in my approach.
I’ve always been a fast-learner and now as I have become more versatile, I’m in a new and interesting place of being able to think more outside the box and throw more perspectives on a matter, something that definitely comes with experience.
Another blessing and curse is my constant strive to perform at the highest levels and always deliver a success! Of course, as with most things in life that is not always possible but it’s ingrained in me…I never take it to extremes though!
When it comes to my weaknesses, I would say I’m sometimes very direct which is something that some people are culturally used to in certain ways, more than others. I learned to tone it down, time it better and be more considerate since I work with people in different cultures. However, it still comes forward from time to time. This directness and honesty always comes from a good place though since I become very passionate and committed to the success of any project I undertake and I’m always looking after the welfare of the respective company and business.
What’s the advantage of being involved in a community such as Apidae?
First of all, coming together with people whose vibe is very similar to mine. Culture is pivotal to the Apidae identity. We work with people who have a similar culture, ethos and ethics so we get to interact with people who have good vibes but are also interesting, hard-working and at the top of their game.
Another great aspect about being part of the Apidae community is that each of us has different interactions, plus we come from different backgrounds, so when we come together, it’s a very productive and knowledge-sharing community. We come up with a lot of ideas and it does foster a lot of entrepreneurial initiatives.
What does success look like for you?
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the word ‘success’. I think about it more in terms of well-being rather than being in Forbes’ “30 Under 30”! I think, for me, success is doing things you love with people you like, in a way that is reflective of who you are and according to your ethics.
That applies to both the personal and professional realm. For me, success is feeling good and feeling like I’m being true to myself and that comes from feeling like I can apply myself – my skills, qualities and interests in a purposeful way. It’s my north star and has guided me through many changes and professional incarnations – and I’ve had a few!
What’s your advice to anyone who wants to run their own thing?
Focus on something that you are familiar with and not simply look at the trending topics. The more knowledgeable you are about your interests and goals, the higher the chance to succeed. Be as comfortable as possible with what you’re doing.
Have a plan which includes your short term and long term milestones and determine how feasible they are. For a lot of people, it’s not easy to go into the unknown and quit their day job so it’s important to dip your foot in the water first and test your level of comfort towards the risky and the new.
Make sure that you foster a network of connections with people that can advise you or help you on the projects. No matter how good you are professionally, business is all about community. You cannot exist as an island.
Lastly, but by no means least, have patience and perseverance. Have the patience to follow through and be prepared for various scenarios in which things can change and momentarily pause the things that you want to do. Be relentless at your goal. By working 1% more on making your goals happen every day, you will eventually get there!