Episode 027

Purna Virji

Senior Manager of Global Engagement at Microsoft

Microsoft’s Top 3 Marketing Strategies to Adapt to:

Voice Search, Audience Targeting, and AI


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About This Episode

In this episode of The Content Coalition, we interview Purna Virji, Senior Manager of Global Engagement at Microsoft, an American multinational technology company.

Purna specializes in digital marketing, AI, and the future of search. In 2016 she was named by PPC Hero as the #1 Most Influential Expert in the world. 

She is a regular keynote speaker at conferences across the globe such as AdWeek, DMEXCO, The Next Web Conference and INBOUND. An award-winning former journalist, Purna is also a columnist for Search Engine Land and Moz.

Tune in as Purna shares some strategies that you can do to enhance customer experience in advertising, busting PPC myths, voice search, and much more.

What You’ll Learn

  • [01:43] Purna’s humble beginnings before she started at Microsoft
  • [04:05] Discover why integrating bots to marketing engagement is essential for your audience
  • [06:34] How to integrate voice into the digital era
  • [10:00] Learn how you can improve customer experience
  • [11:47] The 3 questions to ask yourself on how to improve your ads 
  • [14:30] How to reduce clutter due to overwhelming marketing platforms
  • [17:05] Purna busted some PPC myths on retargeting campaigns… (like Broad Match)
  • [20:50] 1 thing to implement in the next 48 hours
  • [24:23] Shaina’s thoughts on live captions

About Shaina

Shaina Weisinger is the Founder and CEO of Repurpose House, which turns long-form content into optimized videos and images for high engagement social media strategies. Shaina has a background in video production for digital marketing and is on a mission to show content creators the untapped potential and repurposing power of the content that they already have. She has taught about content in many publications including DigitalMarketer, Inc., and Startup Nation, and continuously offers valuable takeaways by interviewing industry experts from world-recognized brands such as GoDaddy, HubSpot, MarketingProfs, and more through her video podcast, The Content Coalition. She loves to laugh loudly, be obnoxiously competitive on the volleyball court, treat her dogs as her kin, and recover from tripping on or running into almost everything within a five-foot radius. Learn more about Shaina here: ShainaWeisinger.com

Read Episode 027 Transcriptions

Shaina: I’m Shaina. I love dogs. I trip a lot and I happen to have a knack for making pretty sweet videos for businesses. But the more videos we made, the more questions I got about how video and other content can be leveraged to make a bigger impact in their marketing. I mean 44% of marketers say that producing content is their biggest challenge, yet content marketing is 62% less expensive than outbound and produces three times more leads. Now I know a lot but I certainly don’t know it all. So I made it my mission to talk with content, kings, queens and bosses to learn as much as I could about crushing content marketing. And I’m taking you along with me. Welcome to the content coalition.

Shaina: Hello Content Coalition. Shaina Weisinger here of Repurpose House. I have an incredible guest here today. Purna Virgi of Microsoft. She is a senior manager of global engagement and um, she like her lineup and resume is incredible. She was named by Ad Week as 2018 young influential. She’s on the young influential list. She specializes in digital marketing, AI. The future of search in 2016 she was named by PPC hero as the number one most influential expert in the world. I mean.

Purna: Super nerd right? There we go, nerd credentials.

Shaina: I love it. And she’s also a keynote speaker, like everywhere ad week. Um, the next web conference, inbound award winning journalist, she writes for everybody, including Moz Search Engine and Land. I mean, your resume goes on and on and I’m just so humbled and excited to be able to pick your brain for a little bit.

Purna: I’m going to go, thank you for having me. I’ve been so excited.

Shaina: So let’s just start off with, you know, how did you land at Microsoft? Tell us a little bit about your journey so we can get some background story on how you became this incredible like 2018 young influencer. Let’s hear it.

Purna: Oh my God. And they call me young Shaina, [inaudible] I’m so excited. Any time that happens, it’s like a massive win, right? Like I’ll just take it, I forgot the any other part of it. Young, great. Cause most days I feel like 8,000 and broken Microsoft. Well, I got super lucky. I started off in journalism. I worked in TV for a few years and then I moved over to traditional PR, which was the dark side. But you know, the dark side pays better. It has better hours and better health insurance. I did, I had to cross a prom, so I did. And then I realized that that wasn’t really my true calling, but I was lucky because my best friend in Mungo was working in search and search marketing. She was working at AOL at the time when they were super popular. So she shared with me and others. It’s about what she did.

Purna: That’s cool. I ended up pitching it to my agency boss, I’m, he said, let’s test it small if it works, so go bigger. It’s a long story short. It actually worked and I ended up sort of eating, creating that team and as a service offering. And I found that I am passionately in love with digital marketing and all aspects of that. So since then I worked the agency side. I started, you know, because I’m Super Nerdy, I said, let me share my love. Oh, for marketing. And so I started speaking at events and doing conferences, such a, and that’s where I’ve met a few people from Microsoft and then when they were coming up with a new team about four years ago, um, Michelle reached out to me and, and here I am.

Shaina: Wow, that’s amazing.

Purna: So you see three car make, right? You go out and try to help other people and then good things happen.

Shaina: I love that. I love that. That’s how the good things happen. Right,

Purna: Right. It’s always, it’s like just being service of others. I’m a big believer in that. Like help others and don’t worry, you’ll be okay. Things will go well for you.

Shaina: I love that. Yeah, I see. And that’s what we’re trying to do with the content coalition, talking to amazing people who also like to help others and help everybody else with their marketing strategy. So thank you. I, um, so before we dive all the way into marketing and all of that fun, I saw a stat that you threw up at the beginning of one of your speaking engagements. Okay. Was a little unnerving and it was by 2020 the average person will have more conversations with their Bot than with their spouse.

Purna: Yes. That’s my husband’s favorite stat because it gives them like so much hope for him. Like, no, no, I’ll just use the button at you as well. Like, you know who I am? Isn’t that not it? We’re getting so more and more reliant on technology, whether it’s small things like if you noticed within Gmail, complete your sentences for you, it’s easier to reorder and exalt food. Okay. Amazon Echo. No instruction. Yeah. Oh, it’s like Cortana, which is my title and my work will remind me that print has been the airport now traffic’s building up. We’re just slowly so comfortable outsourcing of our thinking and decision making to the boss because it works. So, yeah. So maybe that’s a, it’s like exaggeration, but I think that that could happen.

Shaina: I don’t know. I don’t know that it’s that, I think it’s already starting and we’re only, I mean this was in 2018 but we’re in 2019 and we’re getting there. So obviously this is something that needs to get integrated in everybody’s marketing strategy because if people are no longer talking to each other, they’re talking to bots. How do you, you know, as a high level, how do we integrate that into our, our engagement with audiences?

Purna: I think it’s all about understanding your audience and where are they going. Do you find the information that they could, you know, we’ve, we’ve gotten broader and broader over the years. Before it was just radio, then it was TV and radio. Then we had just start. But what we’re seeing is that voice isn’t a new interface. It’s not replacing anything else. It’s just additional. It’s one more way that people can find out. And the way the information gets presented through these different platforms is different. So if I went to the main website on a desktop, that’s a different experience than going to an app. Or if I wanted to interact with the brand through my, which list? The student using my voice. Yes. [inaudible] addition express. Yeah. And because voice is getting more and more popular, I think as my kids, we just have to stretch ourselves even thinner and broader and be like, okay, how are they interacting? How are they finding me and how can I best be there? And that’s where we have to think about shit.

Shaina: Gotcha. So how as, um, just like an as a marketer, do we even show up with voice? I mean for me, I’m going, we’re talking, that’s voice technically, but how do we integrate that into, you know, this digital, era that we’re in with people that we aren’t in front of?

Purna: Well, the one good news is that a lot of the things that we’re doing already, all super helpful for voice. So I think I just, if anyone’s getting anxious about the, okay, there’s not enough hours in the day, how do I do it? Don’t worry. Like at the state that we are right now, a lot of the best practices that you’re doing, let’s say for an SEO, like if you’re going to write better content for featured snippets for example, that’s also going to help you because that would be the one answer that additional assistant will read out. So I think if you can try to think about, hey, what are common questions people are asking me, what’s the best way to present that information? And while I’m writing my content, I should think about what sounds good for the eye. Does it also sound good spoken out loud?

Purna: So it’s just that one additional filter that you can add on top of what you’re doing. It’s much easier. And you know, I love your all about like repurposing content and taking one piece of effort and doing it a million times. The same principle applies here. Um, I’ll give you another example. Let’s see if you are running a shopping campaign on PBC. If you spend a little time optimizing the feed, like the title and description, yes, it’ll help you with your PPC campaign. Yeah. But again, if I’m asking, Hey, you know, x, Y, z assistant, what is the best Calvin Klein? Yes, that’s mini land in like size, whatever it’s going to go to pull that Info and put it up or things like that. Or like, you know, oh, made the shoes that Kate Middleton was wearing, you know, that’ll show that up. Right.

Shaina: So what’s really cool about that is it means that anything that you’re writing online now feels way more conversational.

Purna: It does. And it’s gotten much more national than we, no, I can engage with technology like it used to be. That’s the funny thing. Like number one, like I said, back in the day, it would be like, what is the temperature of yesterday? And now we’re got to like temperature. Now we’re going back. So the Benjamin binging.

Shaina: Yeah. And it’s crazy. It’s because my background is video production for marketing. So like, um, I’ve had companies come to me with scripts and this is where like I kind of, this translates really well for me. So they would come with scripts that are, you read it out loud and you’re like, oh gross. Like that doesn’t sound like a normal person talking. So a lot of like what I used to have to does that help companies with would be like, listen, I know that this is the idea you want to get across, but let’s have the conversation. Like you’re talking to a person, like you would say it yourself. So it’s essentially the same thing, but now just for most writing online and that’s, that’s exciting because I love making it feel more conversational anyway. And the fact that that’s where tech is headed and already kind of is, is super, super exciting for me.

Purna: I like it that we’re expecting technology to okay. And relate to us in ways and we speak to other humans or engage with them, which is I think a really good place for technology to be.

Shaina: Yeah, agreed. Agreed. So, um, speaking of being kind of in this where other people are, let’s talk about customer experience in advertising. I know that’s something you’re super passionate about. So, um, how obviously everybody knows that it’s about the customer experience and if you don’t, then you should know that. So, but let’s dive a little bit deeper into that. What is something that you really think that people need to know or don’t do enough when it comes to customer experience?

Purna: I think the biggest thing people need to notice that there’s, well will you for improvement. I was reading the other day online and I saw this stat that said that, you know, if you ask companies, did you present of them? I think that they’re doing a pretty good job with customer experience, but if you ask consumers the same question, oh the 8% say they think yes they do. It’s a huge disparity.

Purna: Focusing on customer experience and putting the customer first impacts, not just the bottom line, but it means really the right thing to do. If you can put people first, does enough proof in history that people will choose. You think about the winners, the companies, if you think like people like the Uber’s or the AIRBNB’s of the world, they just, they took something and made it super easy that an existing traditional model they don’t have. Or if you think of the people who actually lost out, I think of a company like coding. Okay. Was it over a hundred years old but it still went bankrupt mainly because they didn’t keep up with, um, the digital technology that they actually even invented a lot of it too. So, so clear. You do compete to stay profitable, you just have to focus on yeah. The customer and what’s best for them.

Shaina: Is there anything, um, well I know that we can talk specific to advertising, like user experience is a huge deal on solving problems that are relevant to now. Like you’re saying, Kodak didn’t exactly do that. They stuck in, you know, their hundred year old model. Um, as far as advertising goes with the user experience, what are your thoughts on something that is underlooked right now?

Purna: Yeah, well it’s mainly speaking to people the way that they want to be spoken to. And I think it starts with that like before you even attempt to change your advertising, you want to ask yourself like four questions. One like who all the different audiences that I am speaking to. Yeah. What does good customer experience look like to them? Like what would they say is good customer experience and then how can you change your own behavior to adjust to that.

Purna: That’s really important that it sounds very simple because it’s three questions, but if you put in the time, even if it takes you a month of two months to get the answers to that, you’ll still set yourself up with a very strong foundation to make changes and then there’s so many new technology products and features that have come out that you can then take advantage so you can true. Yeah. Okay. Much more relevant. Everyone is living our own sort of personalized experience online. Okay. We are up tolerance levels for things like both random billboards or those banner ads that are irrelevant has really gone down. So many of us, I think will, our perception of an entire brand will change if we don’t like some of the advertising would be like, forget it, I’m not buying from the right. Okay. So again, we have to stop doing what we [inaudible] worked even five years ago and think about getting much more specific.

Purna: It’s more work, but it does pay off and different search engines and things like that make it a lot easier. For example, both Microsoft advertising and Google ads offers something called in marketing audiences, which is there essentially their AI has put together or they’ve identified a group of people in the market to buy something. So I am put it on audience, which is about people who want to buy a pair of running shoes. Then a Nike or an Adidas would be more, would see better results showing an ad to me versus let’s say my husband who is does not wish to buy it. And for him it’s irrelevant. So it’s things like that that’s also easy and it really takes all of five minutes to set up. So if you think about things like that, it’s simple, simple, small changes make a big difference.

Shaina: Great and I know we were talking earlier about just overwhelm, how like there’s so many different platforms and ways that we can reach out to our audience now and as a marketer myself, like I look at it all and I’m like, Oh man, it’s just so much between like all the social media platforms, all the video platforms like actual paid PPC, um, than chatbots now or you know what? Yeah, to reduce clutter. Like do you have any suggestions or thoughts for people like me who are vastly over, I’m learning about so much when I get to talk to amazing people like you that it’s impossible to implement everything. Like where, where does somebody just decide what works or what do we want to try at least. And how do you down that scope?

Purna: For me, I always go back to audience targeting because it is like the glue that holds all the other channels together. So let’s say somebody came to your website from an email outreach campaign you did, or for something like you’re doing a brand awareness push on Facebook for example, and they’ve been to your website, the engaged ones. How do I make the most of that engagement? How do I bring them back if they’re our customer already, how can I cross sell, upsell them, increase lifetime value. Or if they sort of came to me but then I didn’t really do anything. How to them back. And again, that’s why I find it audiences, cause no matter whether you’ve created a white paper or anything, if you put these certain tags, it’s just like the tracking pixel on every page of your website. Then whether it’s a Facebook landing page or an email landing page, I now have information about what did they, where did they come from and what was the last message that they saw.

Purna: And then I can do, I can serve them the right ad, have the right messaging based on what they’ve seen. So, for example, if I’m a large company that’s pushing a breast cancer awareness marathon for charity, then I could have a PPC ad that showed up to somebody if I knew that they, they came to the landing page about my run. But again, that’s not trying to sell them anything. It’s more like don’t forget to sign up, but you know, here’s how, uh Huh your participation would help so much and then kept them back and then you can give them another you different word. Really it goes back to that. It’s can I find more opportunities to engage with the engage that person regardless where they’ve come from and the results are really, really huge. I could even tell her messaging something that’s unique. Do Microsoft advertising for example, is linkedin profile targeting.

Purna: So I can even adjust bids and speed to somebody if I’m a company that sells those marketing collateral, like all the swag items, I can really did hire for people who work in marketing as opposed to sending it to, you know, the spray and pray approach. Right. Let’s see. My one tactic will be looking at the audiences and how I can connect with them through different PVC options.

Shaina: So let’s talk about, I know you wanted to talk about busting some PPC myths. Um, which to me is exciting because we’re just starting to build out a whole bunch of our retargeting type campaigns too. So, um, let’s, what is the biggest PPC myth that you find is circling around the marketing space right now?

Purna: Okay. Oh, that’s a good one. So the first one I would say, I would say that the, the biggest myth is about broad match. And I’m sure like I can hear this collective grown from everybody because you know, we’ve all started in broad match. I mean we started with PPC use broad match, God burned and then cried and were like never again. This is my hazing of getting into PPC and I’ll never do it again. There is only that you can make it work super well tie it in with your [inaudible]. So let me give you an analogy. If you left a 20 year old free with like okay big jar of fingerprints and left them in a room by themselves, yes they would have it. But if you put them in a chair or a piece of paper, like supervise them, then you get pieces that you would have on your wall. So what we want to do with broad match is that, or use it for all of the beauty that it can bring and the x, this is the advantage.

Purna: We want to keep a little fence on it to prevent it from running wild. And that’s where if I tied broad match to my remarketing or retargeting campaigns, it’ll be a big help. Why? One, your retargeting ads will only show if somebody does a search. So RLSA has Google calls that are remarketing as we call it at Microsoft. Your ads will only show if somebody searches. So how do you increase the odds of somebody doing searches? Plus if we think about how our behavior is changing every month, we see about 20% of all our queries on being, I’m brand new, never searched before. Google has similar stats. They’ve said 15% of all of their searches are brand new and we’re also seeing much longer queries. I have, for example, on being a, on the Microsoft network, actually probably 1% of our queries are five words or longer. So you just, your regular strategy kind of count fold of this. But abroad mash can help and show up more in the right places. And then if you’re restricting it to just the people who know your brand or been to your website before, it’s a much safer, less competitive, higher too convert campaigns. And so that’s my big myth. I was like, let’s, I want to help you fall in love with broad match again because it really, really works.

Shaina: So just with a little bit of restriction,

Purna: the remarketing list is your fence is the, and then you can go wild.

Shaina: Awesome. Very, that’s amazing. Thank you for, for the in philosophy, uh, the new search terms populating. That’s, that’s pretty cool. That safety, that 15% on Google.

Purna: Yes. 20% on being at 15% on global a brand new.

Shaina: That’s the world that we are now living in. And that’s probably due to a lot of the voice recognition. I’m assuming. I heard the voice search as well.

Purna: Yes. That and we’re just getting used to technology talking to us the way that we talk to other humans. So, so that’s evolving our behavior. Again, we are very easy to train as humans. Like I’ll ask you this question, like before you had a camera and you’re in your cell phone, like how often in a year did you take okay, right. Buried like birthdays, holidays, vacation, I don’t know. But now it’s like I can’t eat a meal without taking them easy to train. So as technology evolves, okay, the way we behave evolves and then again, technology catches up. Okay.

Shaina: Awesome. Right on. All right, well let’s chat. Um, something that anybody who’s listening can implement in the next 24 to 48 hours. I mean, you’ve given so much information that I’m like, I have 9,000 things I’m going to go implement. But what’s something very pointed and very specific that somebody without a huge, massive team or massive budget can go and do that we’ll just um, get them ahead of where they are today. Whether it’s user experience, PPC, you name it.

Purna: Okay. I think something that will, all of us can do as marketers regardless of the discipline you said it could be more inclusive with our marketing and something that’s super easy and tangible and easy to implement today is specifically designing and applying it for accessibility. So let me explain for a second. If you think about it globally, there’s over a billion people across the world, all living with a disability according to the World Health Organization. Okay. And how we love to think about it at Microsoft is that there’s a principle that came out from our interests of design team that says if you solve for one, you actually solved for many. So if you think about the spectrum, let’s say for somebody who [inaudible] visually I like prominent, for them having content read out to them would be a good solution. What is also great for somebody maybe who hasn’t yet temporary improvement, like they’re recovering from ice surgery. So that moments to house them. Well four, the broader reach of us, it’s just convenient. I’m cooking. I’d be like, Oh, what? You know, your boss has sent you an email. Oh, what did he say? Like I really want to know, but I’m cooking. If you sold for one, it helps for many. So as marketers we can really make a big difference to this.

Purna: Think about it. They’re such simple, tangible things we can do. Driver websites, do Herbert emails, power points. Let me get very, very accessible and increase the cause. It doesn’t matter how amazing the content you’ve created is. If you’re excluding people, then you’re just not reaching everyone from a business standpoint. And also no one wants to feel excluded. Um, so a few things like in PowerPoint, like did you know that there is a feature built in? It’s literally a click of the button. And then as you’re presenting your PowerPoint, as long as you’re connected to the it, we’ll do a live, um, a, what’s it close captioning right there. Since I’m talking or it can even be designed to do it in a different language. So let’s say I’m presenting in a, in a, in funds it will do, I can change it too. Have my closed captioning is be in front. So it’s life translation that something so small wow is that or if you’re creating, you spent the time to create a video for your landing page, hold in the close captioning for it so that people who co a lot of hearing can hear it. But also if I’m on the train, I’m in the quiet car. I don’t want to listen to your video. I think processes small things like that. And in fact there’s a really cool accessibility tool Shaina that I can send you you and that’s a quick link that you can go in and just do a quick Jackie’s my website accessible. Yeah. And I do. So it really guides you. It’s true for me. I think that’s the one big just that I would say is okay. Deliberately include so you don’t accidentally exclude.

Shaina: I love it. Yes. Please send me that link cause we’re going to put it in the show notes here and I’m going to go do it the second that you send it over. For sure. We just redesigned the site. So I’m curious to see what we’re looking like. And it’s so interesting that you talk about the um, the captions, first of all, I’m Super Jack is we’re doing a webinar series that we’re going to be doing it. I didn’t know that you could have a live captions populating if I’m using PowerPoint. So no, I know that’s what I’ll be using as I’m presenting because I am a big proponent of captions. Like for responsibly we repurpose for social media and 80 to 85% depending on the platform. Listen on you. So it’s there. They don’t listen, they just watch on mute. Right. So you have to have captions. So to think about it in a way where, okay, well if they’re looking at your website, that may be the same scenario. So why aren’t your videos that are hosted on youtube that are on your website also using captions as well. So we have a couple of changes to make. It’s so funny because they seem so obvious. It’s the best. I’ve was told by a guest a while back that the, the most impactful solutions are usually like the most obvious ones that you just didn’t think of yourself. You’re like, oh my gosh, what? That’s, that’s genius. So, um, thank you for that because we already have some changes to make then just based on your implementation.

Purna: it’s so much easier. Yeah, I totally hear you on that. And we’re so trained to be like, let me find that silver bullet. What’s the most advanced? And like, no, let me look at the small basic things and they can have the biggest impact. Um, so yes, and, and if you, uh, for your new website, anything, the accessibility features and usability [inaudible] actually you’re going to have a benefit for your SEO as well. So there are a lot of, um, like I said, it’s very karmic.

Shaina: I love it. Thank you very much. Well, this has been, this has been amazing. Thank you so much for spending time with us and for giving all the incredible info on the PPC in broad search. I’m actually pretty excited that that’s one of the things that you brought up to debunk because that’s a pain point for sure. Okay. So, um, thank you guys, everybody for listening, watching Purna. You’ve been amazing. Thank you so much. And um, everybody, we will chat with you guys next week. Thanks Purna.

Purna: Oh, thank you so much. Bye.

Shaina: Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Content Coalition. Now, whether you’re listening or watching, make sure that you subscribe to the Youtube Channel and to whatever platform you’re listening to at on because you’re not going to want to miss out on the incredible things that I’m learning with these amazing content marketing pros. So make sure you subscribe and we will talk to you next week.

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