If you’ve spent any time in our Community forums, you’ve probably heard from or read responses from @digibomb, otherwise known is Brendan Sera-Shriar. Brendan is a member of our Unbounce Experts program, which is comprised of brilliant digital marketers who provide insight to the Unbounce Community and add exceptional value for other marketers. Brendan is our newest addition to our fleet of Unbounce Experts and we’re super excited to feature him this month in our Community Spotlight.
Brendan is a creative, technologist, and brand developer. He’s also a designer, blogger, social addict, professional speaker and event organizer, father, published author, and founder of DayChamp from Montréal, Canada. He’s an extremely accomplished individual who we are thrilled to include in our group of Unbounce Experts. Among other things, Brendan has worked for agencies and owned his own, he’s taken part in the startup world, he’s built and sold companies, written books, won awards and has been mentioned online and in print. Right now, his passion lies in design and marketing.
1. What area(s) of digital marketing do you specialize in?
I’ve been involved in digital marketing of some kind for roughly 15 years. I’ve seen many trends come to pass and I’ve learned a lot from those who’ve been around longer than me. Where do I find myself today? Well, at the risk of sounding pretentious, I consider myself a conversion strategist. Is it a speciality? I don’t really believe you can specialize in any one particular area nor do I believe there are true “masters”. You focus. You find something that you are good at and like doing and push the boundaries as far as you can driving more and more success for your clients. That’s what I do everyday!
2. How did you first become interested in Online Digital Marketing?
By accident! At a very early age I started my first business and had to learn very quickly to pitch - old school. This was before the startup hoopla of lean, scrum, get out of the building, blah blah blah. We knocked on doors, made cold calls and paid our dues. Luckily for me I have the “gift of the gab” and selling anything, and I mean anything, was never a problem.
By high school I learned to code. I was inspired by the movie War Games when I was younger and in my teens by the movie Hackers mostly because I had a crush on Angelina Jolie. This lead to many adventures, I’ll save that for another time.
Skipping a few years …
In college I studied design and animation, and moved away from code. I started my “digital” career in the late 90’s in television and film and interned at Disney as a 2D compositor. I eventually made my way stateside, New York City, and became a professor at Long Island University while working for a design agency. A few years later I was offered a teaching position in Canada at Seneca College - I took the job and moved back.
While there I began to play with early social media and other web technologies. Slowly moving more and more towards the world of open source which, in turn, lead me to working with Firefox, Google, WordPress and whole whack of other companies at the time as an “Evangelist”.
Professional speaking taught me a lot about marketing combined with community management and early social engagement. This world was very new to most agencies, so by default as a community manager/evangelist you would be placed in the marketing department.
Skipping a few more years …
In 2012 I finally decided to start a digital marketing company. My partner and I grew the business to 30+ employees, a fancy office in old Montreal, $1M in revenue and so on. But, it all began with Unbounce! How you ask ask? Our very first client used Unbounce. And in turn we started using it to grow our business.
In 2015 I sold my agency and decided to start DayChamp, a business solely focused around conversion design and strategy. Today my partner, Markus Dressler, and I have continued to drive success for our clients with Unbounce as our go-to medium. It is also a big part of of how we grow our own business as well.
3. What brand or company do you admire in the digital marketing space, and why?
This is a very tough question to answer. I think admire is a very strong word. There are many brands that I think are doing it right when it comes to “digital marketing” like Oreo, Coca Cola, Red Bull. But I’m not so sure I necessarily admire them.
If I have to choose people in this space that I admire, it would not be a brand, but an agency. I really dig what the guys at Sandwich Video are doing. This is the team behind some of the best TV spots for tech companies like Slack, Osmo and Airbnb. I also really love the guys over at Thinkmodo. Thinkmodo is a real grassroots guerilla marketing firm that designs crazy “viral” campaigns for large brands like the telekinetic coffee shop and the baby devil attack.
4. What is your basic go-to strategy for A/B testing?)
Oh boy! You had to ask, eh?
Well here’s the thing. You speak with any “digital marketer” or “conversion specialist” and I’m sure they have this answer down pat. It’s probably in their pitch, “We will start by testing the value prop, hero backgrounds, CTA’s, form fields, etc…”. But honestly, there is no go-to strategy. How can there be? Every single brand, product, message and the campaign that follows or precedes it is unique. It’s unique at every level. At DayChamp we test based on data. Data we already have or data that we will gain. We start with fact finding. We learn as much as we can about the brand we’re working with, their product, industry etc. We look for examples of good and bad campaigns, and we build personas which in turn become our channels.
From there, we can begin to build a prelim strategy: possible tests and why, which channels and ad spend. This is all based on the above research. Once we launch and the data starts to flow we can optimize our strategy along with our ads and LP.
5. Any predictions or trends you foresee dominating marketing in the next 5 years? How about any trends you foresee fading out?
Let me check my crystal ball…
Marketing is unpredictable. Trends come and go, and some stay too long. I feel like we’re at the beginning of a major shift. What that shift is is still unclear, but I believe it will be conversion-centric with a big focus on PPC, split testing, etc.
The role of strategic planning for corporations and businesses is a complete waste of time. Too many BIG brands still spend BIG money on marketing agencies for a one directional digital strategy. This is dangerous. It leaves you option blind. No room to adapt. There MUST be room to tinker and play and test and optimize.
I think FOCUS will be a big keyword for the future. Agencies are dead or dying. There’s no more need for brands to have an AOR (Agency of Record). What brands big and small need are people, like us and our partners, who are focused on a “specialty”. Hire the right people for the right job.
That’s what DayChamp does best! We optimize and test by tinkering, trial and error, until we reach the best conversion rates possible. It’s what we love and FOCUS on. If our clients need PPC we find them a FOCUSED PPC partner like Webistry. If they need developers, we find them a FOCUSED dev team. I think you get the point.
6. Why Unbounce? (Go on, pump our tires!)
DayChamp has used other platforms and sometimes still does because we have to. But, Unbounce is like family to us. It has helped me grow two successful businesses and been a HUGE factor in much success over the years for our clients. Put simply, it does what we need it to do and it does is REALLY well!
Also, we really LOVE the community of people both employees and users. There’s so many great things happening and so many wonderful people to meet. We always get our questions answered.
7. What is one thing you can’t live without?
8. If you could have dinner with any 5 people from history, dead or alive, who would they be?
I thought about this before as I’m sure most people have. My list tends to change often. I’ll start with Jim Morrison. I was introduced to The Doors when I was very young by my father. Their music has always been very special for me. Also, as a published poet myself, I have always enjoyed his poetry and song writing. This leads me to my second choice Brendan Behan an Irish poet who I was technically named after. Next, Albert Einstein. I’m a HUGE science nerd. If I could move to MARS right now I would! Then there’s John Malkovich. I’ve always been a fan of his work. I feel like dinner conversation with him would be pretty surreal. Finally, Robert De Niro. Like John Malkovich, I have been a long time fan of his work. Plus, he seems like a really cool guy. I would gladly have a glass of scotch with him any night of the week by the fire.
Co-Founder and Conversion Startegist, DayChamp