Ep. 97 - Conversion Logix COO, Andrew Cederlind

Ep. 97 - Conversion Logix COO, Andrew Cederlind

Conversion Logix is a digital advertising agency that specializes in driving online shoppers to make offline conversions through their new software, The Conversion Cloud. Holding the post of COO in this company is Andrew Cederlind, a digital marketing expert who joined in 2011 as employee #3 and has since helped grow the business to over 65 employees and almost 1,000 customers. A Jack of all trades who has had the opportunity to work at every department, Andrew built a mastery of the company’s systems and operations, enabling him to help it scale and grow. Listen in as he joins Cameron Herold to talk about his journey in digital advertising leadership, and how the company has grown and adapted to an ever-growing digital market. He also shares his experience in dealing with his relationships with customers and the rest of the leadership team.

Andrew is the COO of Conversion Logix, a digital advertising agency that specializes in driving online shoppers to make offline conversions. Their new software, The Conversion Cloud, drives additional leads from their client’s existing websites and helps businesses understand what campaigns are driving the most conversions and how to best optimize for them. Andrew joined Conversion Logix in 2011 as employee number three and has helped grow the business to over 65 employees and almost 1,000 customers. Andrew is a digital marketing expert and has helped build and rebuild the systems to help the company scale and grow. He’s experienced in all aspects of the business and helped a unique opportunity to work in nearly every department. He’s a jack-of-all-trades. On a typical day, he may go from sales call to a meeting about data and analytics to a discussion about project management, procedure overhaul. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his family. In the summer, you can find them boating on Lake Washington or up in the mountains, snowboarding in the winter. Andrew, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me, Cameron.

I’m looking forward to learning a little bit more about this. I love the online marketing for the offline conversions or customers. Can you put that in layman’s terms for us?

Online shopping is growing and growing. It’s been around for many years, but the vast majority of purchases are still made offline. A lot of people choose, especially now with omnichannel retail, you have online shopping pickup in store. There’s still a lot of brick and mortar activity happening. What we do is we have four verticals that we hone in on. The first one, our largest is residential, which is mostly multifamily housing, apartment communities. We also have senior living facilities, Tier 3 automotive, which is a local dealership, and then normal brick and mortar stores like a furniture store or a hot tub dealer or something like that.

What those places all have in common is that they need a face-to-face interaction to close a sale. In the old days, it was easy. You throw up your circular in the newspaper, you might do a little bit of radio and TV and then everyone would come beat down your doors to buy stuff. Now, you’re fighting against online. For multifamily, it’s our core market. It’s all about getting somebody in the community where you have a chance to close that sale. Especially with a lot of supply coming online in the last several years as we’ve been building up out of the Great Recession, there’s a need for apartment communities to do effective digital marketing to then bring people door swinging, standing in front of a leasing agent with an opportunity to lease.

Has that been the core that you grew out of then, was the real estate space?

It started in hospitality and senior living. As the multifamily building exploded, we moved into that space and that’s where we’ve been primarily focused for the last few years. There was a huge supply crunch in that space. As they’ve been building and building for the last several years, there’s been a lot of competition to try and get people to rent these beautiful Class-A and high-rise buildings. You’re near Seattle. You’ve seen all the tower cranes we have down there. That’s the same story all over the country wherein every major metro, there’s a lot of building happening.

Walk us back then to Conversion Logix when you first got involved. There were three employees. You were employee number three. What was it that got you to join such a small business? What did you see?

I was fresh out of school. I needed a job. I started and Dave, one of the cofounders who hired me, he said, “I can’t offer you much. We’re a small company, but if you stick with me, you’re going to learn how to run your own business. You’re going to learn how to run an agency.” I was a sponge and I absorbed everything that came through over the years and got the opportunity to grow with the company. Make an impact and imprint all the different processes and systems in it. Looking back, it’s weird to see where we started to where we are now, but it’s lots and lots of building blocks over the years that have grown us to where we are.

You’ve got a pretty rare insight. There are not a lot of people that have started a company right at a school and stayed with that company for several years in this era. That was typical, maybe 50 years ago, but not in the last 10, 20 years. More Gen Y is always talked about as being the job hoppers. You have bucked that, but you also joined a company that was small and got an opportunity to build it. The third part of that is it’s the only thing you’ve ever seen, which is amazing as well. Walk us through some of those changes. Have you seen any defined hurdles or stages in the growth of the business that you can talk to us through?

One of the first stages of growth that happened was breaking into actual segmented departments. We had everybody did everything mentality and then you get to a certain size where it’s not the most efficient thing to do it yourself. It’s not the most efficient thing to have three people in a room. When you’re small, you prioritize efficiency over scalability because you’re trying to get everything you possibly can get done. It was a few years ago that we started to find departments, but in the last several months when our growth exploded, we sat down, built out our teams and have a dedicated client services team and ad operations team and created the workflows that people are much more siloed than they were a few years before.

It was a big transition for me and the rest of our leadership team. Even now it’s still hard when you want to go and you want to charge like you used to back when you were small and changed direction. We’re still nimble. We’re 75 people or so. It’s not impossible to change direction, but me learning that it’s not the best thing in the world to have it be the most efficient thing. You need to sacrifice efficiency in order to bring everybody up to speed and have scalability. That way it’s not relying on you being in the room and saying, “Here are the four things we need to do. You do this and let’s all go charge. It’s letting it grow beyond you, your small team. That was a big note and still learning it as we continue to grow.

How do you bring them up to speed?

In terms of meetings or in terms of communication?

Everything, you’ve got that opportunity or that idea that to be nimble and fast, you have to compromise. Sometimes to get everyone on the same page so you can scale as what you said. How do you get everyone on the same page?

We have a weekly management or leadership team meeting. All of the heads of our departments are in the meeting. Most of the time, we’re still a digital agency as our core business. We’ve built some of our own software as well, but the core of what we do is serving our clients. Our day-to-day is reactive in taking that in. It’s more of an opportunity for everyone to get on the same page of what’s coming down the pipeline, “We have these campaigns launching.” What that Monday meeting is for is to get any problems or issues that you see coming down the pipeline.

We think about things in weekly sprints. We have a monthly cycle that we also work in as well. When things go wrong or there’s a fire or something needs to get fixed, most of our team is in one office. We have people scattered throughout the country. We also have an office in Austin that we opened in 2019. It’s being fast to get on the phone or being fast to get everyone in a room on a Slack call. Not letting something sit, but as soon as you see a few things going back and forth where people are trying to, “What about this?” Let’s get in a room and figure it out over five minutes and then have our action plan and leave. Sometimes I might be involved in those other times. It’s, “Go figure this out and then let me know what you decide and I could weigh in after the fact.”

What was the impetus to open the Austin office?

One of the founders of the company decided he was tired of the Seattle rain and wanted to open our opportunities up in new markets. Austin being a huge tech hub similar to Seattle, there’s a good growth opportunity down there for the people that gave us access to. The location is sunny all the time, which is always helpful.

SIC 97 | Conversion Logix COO
Conversion Logix COO: You need to sacrifice efficiency in order to bring everybody up to speed and have scalability.

 

Have you noticed anything in terms of any disconnect happening or any struggles in opening that new office and keeping those people on the same page?

For the longest time, we doubled down on our software business. We hired a CTO and we grew that team. That’s primarily happened down in Austin. We have a couple of developers in our Seattle office and a few contract workers. For a while, it was this is the software office and then the Bothell office and the rest of the country is the advertising media side. In the last few months, we’ve been focusing on hiring more of our core business functions down in that office as well. Making sure we have client services team members down there so that way we get time zone advantages.

There hasn’t been a disconnect other than it’s easy to force yourself to do the check-ins. I talk with our team a lot about you don’t want to ever assume that they’re on the same page as you. They don’t have the same information as you. If you feel like, “Why do I need to check in with them with a couple of calls every week?” They’re out there on an island, you’re over here. You’ve got to make sure that they’re not feeling isolated. They’re surrounded by people, but that aren’t doing the same thing as you versus up herein our Seattle office. You have a room full of people that can all collaborate and bounce ideas. More communication is better than less communication, err on the side of more communication.

Talk about yourself, Andrew, if you were to think back to your skillset now versus your skillset when you joined several years ago. You’ve clearly grown as a leader. How have you grown?

Being hungry and then wanting to educate myself. I’m conscious of the fact that I haven’t been anywhere else, as you put it and making sure that I’m always reading blogs, yours included. I’m reading lots of books. I’ve never wanted to stop learning or thinking that I know the best answer. The biggest thing is always assume you can do it better and always be looking out for those that have gone before you and see what they’ve done to get through where you’re at.

You’re typical of our COO Alliance members as well, that self-driven learner who’s hungry to find best practices and pull them in. It’s an important trait to have one of our members of our COO Alliance. At one of our events we were talking about growing people and the company’s role is to grow people and grow leaders. One of the members put her hand up and said, “Why don’t we focus on hiring more self-driven learners?” We’re like, “Shit, of course.” It’s such a great trait, but we don’t look for that often. Do you look for that internally at all when you’re hiring?

We hire a lot of fresh college graduates. That’s been our core. When we hired our CTO, we went and found somebody with a lot of experience in the market and brought them in. We hired a chief revenue officer who has a long history. For some of these, we love bringing fresh talent into our organization and growing them. When we bring somebody in, we have a spot where everybody starts, which is our client services team, which is the air traffic controller. They’ve taken all the client requests, make sure that they get sent out to the appropriate departments.

Somebody might not be the best fit for that type of role, project management role, but that’s where they have to learn the business and learn how we operate and they can, “You look like you’re an analytics data type minded person. Why don’t you go over here?” The biggest thing that we look for is people that take ownership and then people that are self-starters. We do move quickly. We process a lot of requests. We have a fast turnaround for any changes or updates that we make for clients. Being able to process those and manage all these projects and the whirlwind that comes through the office, you can’t sit and watch everything that somebody is doing. You have to make sure and trust that they can make sense out of the chaos that comes their way.

Are there two cofounders?

There are two cofounders. There’s Dave Pavlu, who is our President. He’s down in the Austin office. He heads up the software side of the business. He is the classic entrepreneur product visionary and that’s who I’ve worked with most closely over the last few years. He moved and then I’ve been working with our CEO whose name is Jeff Jobe. He’s been the head of our sales side for a while. We hired our chief revenue officer. He’s going to take more of a general overview, less focused on driving. Our sales organizations got too big for him to manage themselves. He’s got to put a little bit of separation in there. Those are the two founders and then I slot in underneath them.

What areas of the business do you run?

I focus on classical day-to-day operations. For us, our client services team, our ad operations team and then graphic design, a little bit of our marketing and analytics. I end up having to pivot, adjust and I have the benefit of having done every single job in the organization at some point. Having that allows me to run the gamut as far as, “I can weigh in and be helpful over here.” For the most part, my core day-to-day is focused on almost 1,000 clients. We have 2,500, 3,000 different campaign strategies running in at any given time. We have lots of requests coming through and making sure that the wheels stay on the bus, making sure that everything happens the way it’s supposed to. Doing a lot to help our young team to grow and provide feedback and insight for them when they have either communication issue with somebody on their team, or a problem of, “We’re trying to figure this out,” and helping them work through a solution.

How have you as a company had to change? Conversion Logix over the last few years, how have you as a company had to iterate? What used to work that no longer works now?

I feel everything over the last few years has broken. We scaled out of a lot of our systems. The biggest thing for us as we started forcing more and more through our project management system. I saw a tweet that was talking about omnichannel workspaces, the equivalent of omnichannel retail, where you got a couple of main offices and then everyone else is remote. That’s how we are out of our 75 people associated with our company with sales and everything. We have 35 or 40 in our office and then maybe another 40 in Seattle and then 8 in Austin. There are 25 people that are scattered across the country.

In doing that, we’ve had to force communication through Slack. It is our biggest communication hub that we try to make sure that stays up to date. We don’t do a lot of internal emails unless it’s a report status update type of stuff. Forcing everything through the project management system, because that’s the only way you can truly measure what’s happening. It’s easy to all be in a room and say, “I need you to handle this project for me. Let’s get it done.” When you don’t have that visibility and then you increase the volume exponentially by the number of items that you’re working on, it’s imperative that you can see into exactly what does our queue look like? What are the projects we need to get done? What are the launches we need to get done and make sure that we don’t drop the ball for a client? We are making all the updates and changes as necessary.

What project management tools do you use?

We use a heavily modified version of Podio. We use the Podio core structure and then we’ve built our own system around it, with custom intake forms. We have our own database that all the Podio data has housed into. We use that to send workflows to the appropriate people. It’s pretty tuned up and it’s pretty automated. That whole system over the next several months will need a fresh overhaul again to get us to the next level.

How about your specific skills? Have there been a couple of things that you’ve worked on over the last few years? The company is definitely hitting its next inflection point if you’re on 75 employees. I’ve always said that a company’s inflection points are the 1s and the 3s. You have 1 to 3, to 10, to 30, to 100 employees. The $100,000, $300,000, $1 million, $3 million, $10 million, $30 million, $100 million are these weird natural inflection points. You are coming into the next one. Are you working on any specific skill areas for yourself when you have this team of teams and teams of professional managers? Is the CRO the first real outsider that you’ve brought in that was senior?

Our CTO was the first outsider that we brought in that was senior and that was about several months ago. CRO is our second one. For me, it’s hard to pinpoint something. Focusing more on the leadership aspect, understanding, going back to the scalability thing. If you got hit by a bus, would the team be able to function well without you? Hopefully, that it can. That’s going to be my focus over the next several months. Also doing my best to forecast into the future and make sure that whatever systems we move to or whatever processes we need to change. We’re not focusing on the 5% improvement. Something I’m trying to work on is think through what would be the game changer improvement for us internally to help us go to the next level and re-imagine what our project management systems look like.

SIC 97 | Conversion Logix COO
Conversion Logix COO: You can’t cast the vision once at the end of the year about the next year and then expect that it’s going to stick.

 

It’s easy to get drilled down in the day-to-day when there are many things flying around in many different initiatives and things that you’re working on. More future-oriented growth, thoughts and mindset when it comes to building systems. Applying that same thing to the people side and making sure that our managers and our people on our leadership team are growing and scaling as their teams are getting more remote and making sure that they feel supported in helping their teammates be satisfied with their job, work and continue to grow.

Our theme for our next COO Alliance event is budgeting, forecasting and goal setting. I’m tuned into what you were starting to talk about there. When you’re thinking about your business and planning your business out for the next few years, are you forecasting where you’re going, or do you guys decide where you’re going to go and reverse engineer it and figure out how to get there? What’s your methodology? How do you approach that?

We do a little bit of both. We’re 100% bootstrap so we grow at an appropriate pace. We’re not the, “This is the target we’re going to hit. It’s going to take twelve more salespeople.” We have to think about it in a little bit more gradual step. We’ve had a long ramp-up to the point that we are now. It’s understanding the core functionality of how many clients a salesperson can reasonably manage and making sure we understand everyone’s bandwidth. From there, if we have a path where we want to get to, making the personnel investments of where we think we want to be and then letting that play out over the course of the year.

Walk us through your leadership team meeting. You mentioned your weekly leadership team meeting. I want to go back to that and trickle off there.

It’s quick. For the most part, I had the inspirational “rah-rah go, get them” type of meeting, or at least I try to make it that way. People go around and give us an update on where they’re at and what they’re seeing coming down the pipeline as their top priority things. Anything that they want to make sure that somebody else in the room, on the phone or the call knows that they might need assistance from, “This is a top focus for us. We’re trying to get these clients live on this system, on this chat app we’re building. There’s a bug over here. Can your team come and debug with us quickly so that we can get it launched?” That type of thing. It’s focusing more on the tactical execution of, “What needs to get done this week.” A little bit of a higher level of, “This week, I would be pushing your team.” A couple of weeks ago it was, “Thinking about your operating system.” I was starting to read the book, Traction and thinking about, “If you got hit by a bus, how would your department function without you?”

As we’ve gotten more remote, the operating system of the department becomes more and more important. Encouraging them to be thinking and encouraging their team to be thinking of the operating system and making sure that, “If you go to do something and you see this guide is not up-to-date anymore, go in and update it. Don’t let it sit and, ‘I know how to do it anyway. I’m going to get it done because that’s my task.”’ Right now, take the five seconds, update the guide and then it will be ready for the next person.

That’s critical when a company is scaling, especially when you’re going from that jack-of-all-trades, master of none to now this team of teams that have some expertise is putting those SOPs in place, putting the playbooks in place for everything that we do. The book, Traction, Gino Wickman did a good job with that. It’s a smart one for you guys to be reading. Another one for you to pick up and get every employee to read is the book Meetings Suck.

I was reading that.

I’ve known Elon Musk for many years and he sent a tweet out in 2019 about if you’re in a shitty meeting, stand up and leave the meeting. I sent him a text message after. I’m like, “No, don’t tell people to leave shitty meetings, fix the meetings.” If you fix the root cause, they won’t be in shitty meetings. Teach them how to run them and how to manage them and also how to participate in them. The whole purpose for writing Meetings Suck was so people didn’t have to leave bad meetings in the first place. Talk about the leadership team and how you engage in conflict. I’m working with a company that I coach. They’ve got a 750-person company, a very seasoned management team, but they’re not good at dealing with conflict and getting into the issues. You mentioned silos. How do you prevent the silos from happening and how do you get your team to engage in good debate and conflict without it getting personal or do you?

We haven’t had much conflict. We’re at that size where everyone still can see the value of what everyone else is bringing to the table. It’s more of the team environment of, “We’re going to have to work together.” We have a benefit in this area because we’re client-focused that it’s not about you. It’s not about your team. It’s about taking care of the clients. We have five core values, hustle, focus, toughness, kindness and service. Those last two had helped a lot. The last one service is we’re here to serve our clients. The reason that we’re all here, we get to come to work every day, is because of our clients.

Nobody’s ego is bigger than what a client needs. If it’s a debate around something internal that we’re doing. We want to work on this piece of software that this feature needs to happen because my team is dying without that. Everyone pleads their case. We make a decision or I make a decision or somebody makes a decision and then we run with it. That’s how it’s been so far. As we get bigger and as the decisions are less visible to everybody in the organization, conflicts will come a little bit more, but for right now, we don’t have a ton of it.

The conflict can be a good conflict too. Maybe I’m not phrasing it the right way, but how do you get the good, healthy debate without it becoming dysfunctional? Maybe you’re saying that you’re not even at the stage where we need to debate because we’re all in. Every project is moving us in the right direction.

Everything is mostly moving us in the right direction still. I can’t think of anything off the top. We do have some good debate of, “This is why I need these three things to happen on our tools. That way my team can save this much time and we can make this process faster.” Whatever the request might be. We do have some conflict about, “What are our priorities? What do we want to work on?” Everyone understands that there are limited resources and time in order to get your priorities through. We’re client-focused that it’s less about I need this thing. We don’t have a ton of conflict in that area. It’s more of a team environment.

How do you stay on the same page with the two founders? Is there a way that they continually articulate the vision of where they’re taking the company or where the company is going to go? How do you guys get that vision? I almost liken it to a homeowner who wants to build a home. The homeowner knows what they want to build. The contractor gets the vision out of their head and creates the blueprint or plans to make the vision come true. The homeowner can move to the side and then the team can make the plans happen. How do you get in sync with the leaders on that?

That was the push from Dave, he came in and flew in from Texas and gave a large talk about, “This is where we’re going for 2020. This is what we’re focused on. This is why we think that we have a unique solution. For us, it’s this combination of the media, the advertising, and then the software to help convert the people that come to the website.” Talking through why that’s important. That something we don’t necessarily do enough of going back to assuming, casting the vision. You can’t cast the vision once at the end of the year about the next year and then expect that it’s going to stick.

Something I usually try to bring up in our weekly meeting is to highlight some of those wins and, “Here’s a win, we launched this app. Here are the results so far for our beta customers and this is why we’re excited for the future.” For us three and then as a C-Suite as a whole, there are five of us. We have a Slack channel that we communicate in and bring stuff up. I’m on the phone a lot with our team in Texas or Dave, specifically making sure that we’re on the same page and picking his brain for stuff that’s going on organizationally up here in our home office.

I was watching a couple of my kids playing video games in 2019 and even over the last number of years now where they’re playing these multi-person games. They’re always on audio with their friends talking and collaborating on how the game is being played, which is different from the era that I grew up in where you either sat across the table playing a board game together. If you were online, you were playing by yourself. Kids these days are learning how to collaborate, problem solve and work together as a team and communicate quickly, both in chat and audio, and dealing with people all over the world playing in this one game. They’re being groomed to manage and run businesses the way businesses need to be run now. The days of working from an office, are you moving towards that now? I know you’ve got your two offices now in Washington State and Austin. Are you moving towards getting rid of offices at all or are you going to always have those two to think?

We’ll always have the hubs. Our team will continue to expand remotely. I don’t think that we’re going to expand much more in our home offices. Classic software development, you run everything on a sprint, you score everything points that you’re trying to work toward in this sprint. We started scoring a lot of the different work items that come through for us. We think of everything in a weekly sprint. Having every item gets scored, and then being able to measure the score, look and see where people are excelling, where people are struggling, and try and fix those gaps, having that level of transparency into the work that’s happening. That’s a big building block that we put in place over the last few months. That’ll allow us to have fully remote people that I don’t care where you live. You can live in the Silicon Prairie in Nebraska and come in and work in our system. We’ll have everything laid out for you and you can help our team grow.

One of my team who works on the CEO Alliance side, we were talking and he said, “Do you mind if I go and live in Portugal for three months?” I’m like, “No, I don’t even know where you are now.” He started laughing. He was like, “I’m in Sedona.” I’m like, “I didn’t know you were in Sedona. What does it matter to me? We’ve got Slack and Asana. We are using Pipedrive and we’ve got Zoom. I don’t care where you are as long as you can be at the five events we have every year.” Off he is, he’s living in Portugal. He’ll be at our event. It doesn’t matter to me where he’s based out of. It works great.

SIC 97 | Conversion Logix COO
Conversion Logix COO: The biggest thing that companies can do better is taking control of their lead generation and their pipeline.

 

The true Tim Ferriss The 4-Hour Workweek goes into South America.

I’ve been good friends with Tim for a long time. I took Tim to his first Burning Man several years ago now. Stupidly, Tim brought a friend in that Burn and 2:00 in the morning, his friend was pitching us on this business idea he had, and the four of us that were listening all said it was the dumbest idea we’ve ever heard. He was pitching us on Uber. This was Garrett Camp, who was the Founder before he hired Travis Kalanick to come and work for him. Garrett was in our camp at Burning Man staying with us and was pitching us on the idea. We were like, “This is the stupidest thing we’ve ever heard. Is the app store beside a 7/11? Is it in a mall?” He goes, “No.” We didn’t understand.

What my typical investment is in the company is in the $10,000 to $25,000 range. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting and doing a show. Maybe I would be, maybe this would be a cost and project. I wouldn’t be focusing on money anymore. Tim did well off that one. Tell me about the two-day sales meeting that you had. You mentioned that you brought in the whole sales team. Walk us through what a two-day sales meeting with you looks like.

On the first day we were focused on the vision casting. Our sales team is the most remote team we have. They’re all over the country. We’ve made a lot of changes again with our software, The Conversion Cloud. We have all these salespeople that are focused on selling, marketing, and advertising services and then asking them to come through and, “Here’s the software.” You have to talk about software. The software helps the marketing advertising work better and helps you measure it more and capture more leads from it. It’s a mindset shift. Our team thinking about it and how they think about our product offerings as a company. Bringing them in and deep diving and walking through, “Here’s where we were over in 2019. Here are the apps. Do you have any questions?”

Making sure that they understood the roadmap for 2020 and where we were going. Day two was about getting a little bit of one-on-one, but also each of the department heads getting time with the salespeople and saying, “For the ad ops team, talking about optimization of campaigns,” and letting them ask questions that are a little bit deeper than, “Can you look into this campaign because the client is wondering about this keyword,” or whatever it is. Being able to get into the nitty-gritty of questions and deeper conversations around how the campaigns are structured and topics like that. It’s the deeper dive topics.

Without throwing any of your specific customers under the bus, where do your customers waste time and money? If you guys were to say, “I wish they would do this, they’d be much more efficient.” You’ve got some good insights when you’re trying to drive front end revenue, I’m sure they’re screwing everything up on the backend. Where could they be better? Where can companies learn from?

The biggest thing that companies can do better is taking control of their lead generation and their pipeline. For example, if you think of the multifamily space, you’re going to do some paid search. You’re going to do some Facebook ads. You’re going to do some email. That’s all stuff that we do. They also have this budget that’s dedicated to some of the listings services like Apartments.com and things like that. What happens is those places will generate a lot of leads that come through, but they’re not true first-party leads that are for that specific community. They’re somebody that they fill out a form somewhere on Apartments.com saying, “I live here and I’m interested,” and that lead goes to everybody.

You have less than a 1% close rate on that lead. That’s where you’re focusing on. Owning the process of getting the people to your website, building up your own presence and then making sure you convert those people. You have an all-star team to convert them on the back end. We think about it in three parts, the traffic generation, the conversion that happens on the site and then the follow-up and the close. For the first eight years, we were focused on driving qualified traffic with all the standard digital advertising techniques that you would use. We built The Conversion Cloud, which is taking us into the second step of helping clients convert because most websites have a horrible conversion rate.

If we can come through and throw something on there like Schedule Genie. It’s one of our first apps where it’s a tour schedule or an appointment setter where they can go on and they choose a time, “I want it at 2:00 or tomorrow at 2:00 PM,” versus they send out a contact form into the ether and you have no idea what’s going to come back from. We have a few different apps and each is designed to mix and match, and each one has a different call to action. Being able to place a simple offer on your website, “Four weeks free. Come to where this community is right now.” They’d claim the offer. That gives the salesperson or the leasing agent an opportunity. That lead that is on your site that claims an offer has a much higher chance to close than some random one that came in through a third-party site that they’re looking for a place that is in this general area. They don’t care if it’s you or your competitor right across the street.

It sounds like you’re merging or morphing a little bit into the SaaS space as well then from being a pure digital marketing firm. Is that true?

That is true. That’s where our focus has been heading over the last few years. We think of SaaS as a way to help our campaigns work better. The more that we can, the more leads we can generate from our campaigns. We’re also working on the attribution side where we’re able to see the journey on the backend of, “This person converted on January 6th, but they came to your website on January 1st from Google. They came back through a Facebook Ad on the 3rd, and then they converted on the 6th.” Being able to see that path to conversion, they can see what campaigns are working, what isn’t. They’re very much tied together, but we’re going SaaS focused and helping our communities solve this conversion issue that they have.

Why is attribution so hard to nail down for companies?

It’s hard because it’s messy and even the stuff that we’re talking about now where I painted the picture of the path to conversion to you. There’s no way to understand what drove that person to convert. I can tell you most of the steps that they took to convert, but what tipped them over the edge. We have no idea. We’ll never have no idea. We’re trying to paint as broad of a picture as we possibly can versus when somebody shows up on a site, they say, “How did you hear about us?” “I was driving by and saw your community, or I was driving by and I walked in.”

That’s not how anyone finds anything nowadays. Everyone’s looking everything on their phone. They research especially a place to live or a car or anything like that. They’re going to do a lot of research. They’re going to look at a lot of different websites and they’re not going to tell you who they are. They’re going to stay anonymous for as long as they possibly can because they don’t want to talk to anybody. For us being able to give them a better reason to convert, the what’s in it for me? I’m going to get a tour scheduled. I’m going to give you my information or I’m going to get this killer offer so I’m going to give you my information. That’s way better than submitting a contact form and hoping that somebody is going to respond and not hound me. For us, that’s where we’re focused on and what we’re going toward.

I liked the idea that you should understand your lead as well. People are sometimes spending time on the wrong leads. That was a big one that hit me. We can be spending our time on those wrong leads, the completely the wrong segments. Companies don’t spend much time on that at all, do they?

No. You view every lead as the same, the lead quality and we want to get you more leads. Our whole pitch on it is we want to get you better leads. You know if this lead came in through The Conversion Cloud from my website, I’d better call that one first, even though there’s this other one sitting here from another source. These are the Glengarry Glen Ross leads, not the bargain-basement leads.

I want you to think back to when you were joining Conversion Logix and coming out of school. What skills do you think you wish you had back then or what advice would you have wished you’d known back then that you know now to be true, but you would have loved to have had when you were 21 or 22?

It would be nice to see the future and see where everything took off. When I first started, I took it as a job. I saw the great opportunity and everything, but I was working and trying to grow and expand my skills and everything like that. If I could look back, I would have pushed a little bit harder earlier versus when you’re 22, 23, you’re working, you want to improve and you want to grow. Your interests also lie elsewhere. The stage that we’re at and over the last couple of years has been an awesome growth trajectory and a fun environment and having a blast. Being able to get there a couple of years sooner, which you can’t say that that would happen, but going back, the reverse of a lot of advice, everyone always says, “In your twenties, play slow down,” but I feel like I would want to hit it a little bit harder that way to see where we’re at and get there a little bit quicker. That’s what I would say.

Give yourself a bit of a break too. You’ve got a long runway ahead of you, so congratulations. Andrew Cederlind, the COO for Conversion Logix, thank you for sharing with us on the show.

Cameron, thanks for having me.

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About Andrew Cederlind

SIC 97 | Conversion Logix COOAndrew is the COO of Conversion Logix, a digital advertising agency that specializes in driving online shoppers to make offline conversions. Their new software, The Conversion Cloud, drives additional leads from their clients’ existing websites and helps businesses understand what campaigns are driving the most conversions and how best to optimize for them.

Andrew joined Conversion Logix in 2011 as employee #3 and has helped grow the business to over 65 employees and almost 1,000 customers. 

Andrew is a digital marketing expert and has helped build (and rebuild) the systems to help the company scale and grow. He has experience in all aspects of the business and has had the unique opportunity to work in nearly every department. He is a jack of all trades and on a typical day may go from a sales call to a meeting about data and analytics, to a discussion about a project management procedure overhaul.

When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his family. In the summer you can find him boating on Lake Washington, and up in the mountains snowboarding in the winter.  

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