Strategic Alliances Webinar

How does your agency or digital marketing platform work together with other agencies or data providers? How do you work together with other agencies or tool providers that might otherwise be considered as a competitor in some way?

That’s what Dixon Jones discussed on episode 29 on Old Guard vs. New Blood with Paul Stainton from Agency Analytics, Laurence O’Toole from Authoritas and Laura Hogan from Sweet Digital.

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Transcript

Dixon Jones

Hello to everybody. This is Old Guard New Blood episode 29, Strategic Alliances. Thanks very much for coming in everybody today. Got a brilliant panel as usual, and we’re going to be talking about what it’s like to try and go into business with somebody that may in a different world be your competitor or a co-opetitor, and the idea about why it may or may not be useful to make strategic alliances in business. We’ve got a great team with us and I’m going to start with you, Paul. Hey Paul. As we say in game show world in the UK, what’s your name contested number one, and where do you come from?

Paul Stainton

My name’s Paul Stainton. I’m with AgencyAnalytics, and I am located just outside of Toronto in Canada. I’ve been in the digital space, including strategic partnerships, for about 23 years, so I would definitely classify as new blood for sure. Definitely new blood.

Dixon Jones

What, we’ve been in for 23 years? Okay. Now, we’re putting you on guard, mate. I’m sorry about that. You’ve kindly set up a whole relationship of the Majestic stuff that you’re using at agency.com/majestic. Is that right?

Paul Stainton

agencyanalytics.com/majestic.

Dixon Jones

AgencyAnalytics. Yeah. So if anybody wants to know how Majestic is working with AgencyAnalytics, or rather it’s up to AgencyAnalytics, how they work with our API, then go have a look at that. And you can see the relationship between AgencyAnalytics and Majestic at agencyanalytics.com/majestic. And in the technology space as well, I also have Laurence. Laurence, who are you and where do you come from?

Laurence O’Toole

Thanks Dixon. My name’s Laurence O’Toole. I’m the CEO and founder of Authoritas. I’ve been in the SEO game just as long as Paul. So there’s a veterans category, you can put me that in that. We build SEO tools and SEO platforms as cloud based platform. That’s used by agencies, enterprises, and we’ve been doing that for, I don’t know, since about 2009. And I’ve been working with Majestic for, I don’t know, over a decade now.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. It’s, it’s been a long time, but it’s not just using APIs. You’ve got some pretty unique technologies of your own, I think, particularly in the eCommerce space, I think.

Laurence O’Toole

Yeah. Whilst typical SEO platform, all customers can use us regardless of the walk of life and the business they’re in, but we do love working in the eCommerce space. We’ve got some interesting partnerships there, and also with big query and big data and analytics, data studio, that kind of stuff. So do a lot of work with agencies in that space too.

Dixon Jones

And so moving on to the new blood of the panel, the one that hasn’t yet got disillusioned with agency world and is still going there, because we’ve all gone over to the technology dark side, Laura, who are you and where do you come from?

Laura Hogan

Hey. It’s good makeup that makes me look young. You can’t see the bags at the moment. I’m Laura and I own a little agency called Sweet Digital. We’re based in Birmingham in the UK, and we’re going to be hitting on the side of agencies working with each other and that tricky little minefield.

Dixon Jones

And just before we came on, you are wearing glasses with headphones embedded in them by Lucyd, who are actually one of your … Lucyd, L-U-C-U-Y-D, who are one of your clients.

Laura Hogan

Yeah, Lucyd are a good friend of ours. Yeah.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. Very good. Well, we can give them a plug. Awesome. They look great. They’ve they’re fantastic, and our-

Laura Hogan

They’re prescription too-

Dixon Jones

Prescription glasses with built in Bluetooth headphones. That’s absolutely amazing. Our producer was knocked away. Talking about our producer, David, how are you?

David Bain

Very good. Thank you.

Dixon Jones

Good, and is there … What’s happening? Is there anything I missed before we get into this that I need to talk about? How can people hear about us?

David Bain

As always, all I want to say is that, if you’re listening to the show afterwards on Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, please come and join the live stream, because you can interact, you can ask questions, you can have fun. You can do a whole lot of things, so just go to majestic.com/webinars, sign up for the next one live, and hopefully we’ll see you in the audience for the next one.

Dixon Jones

Excellent, brilliant. So let’s get down to business and start with the, a place to start a conversation. And I’m going to start by asking everyone, if they had a one thing. So in my opinion, I’m going to argue strategic alliances are pretty much essential at some point in business. And in your experience then, and people haven’t got time to wait for 45 minutes, what’s the one piece of advice that listeners should take away from here when they’re thinking about getting into a business venture or a project with another business, particularly one that’s in the same field? And I don’t know, I’m going to start with Laurence with that, if that’s okay.

Laurence O’Toole

Okay. It’s always hard, especially for me, to come up with one thing, but I will go with put yourself in their shoes first. There’s an old Tzu proverb, which says before you judge a man, let you first walk a mile in his moccasins or something like that. And so for me, I’m always, always thinking what’s in it for them? What are they going to get out of it? What’s motivating them? And really try, and don’t just think about it in a cursory way. Think long and hard about what they’re going to get out of it. The value that they’re going to get out of it and how it’s going to move them forward, because you want a good outcome for them and not just yourself. So there needs to be a classic win-win, is obviously what everyone talks about, but do spend, give that due consideration.

Dixon Jones

I think that’s a good tip. That’s a good place to go. Laura, what about you? What do you think is an important thing, nugget for people to take away?

Laura Hogan

From an agency side, it’s definitely thinking about the clients first. It can be the case that this is a service that you simply can’t provide and don’t provide. So there’s nothing wrong with recommending companies that you know and have worked with that can provide that. I know we all want an extra bit of money in our pocket, but you’re going to have much stronger retention if you just stick with what you know and what you’re good at.

Dixon Jones

So that also an excellent tip as well. And I suppose then, if you’re going to be thinking about the customer, sometimes it’s not worth having a business relationship. Just say, “Look, this has nothing to do with us. Just go and talk to that company over there.” Don’t have to make anything out of it, except hopefully a beer in a pub sometime in the future. So yeah, good tip. Paul, anything different that you can add into there as an idea?

Paul Stainton

Yeah. I think mine, piggyback on that one, and it’s just really looking at whether or not the alliance will benefit both the businesses and the customer that you’re serving, because I think a lot of times you look at one lens, but not necessarily the other, and I think it’s really important to look at both the business impact and the impact to the end customer or client.

Dixon Jones

So all three of you come, emerge into this idea of a triangle of yourselves, of all the stakeholders, I suppose. There may be other stakeholders in there as well. Might be employees who never want to work with that personal or whatever as well, and I suppose looking through a problem through a different lens is a pretty good skill when you are trying to come together and start thinking about business strategy, because it’s very easy to think about things just from your own perspective. So I think that takeaway is a brilliant one to have right at the start. So thanks very much for those things. So let’s … Yeah, go on.

Laurence O’Toole

Dixon, I was just going to say it’s always hard to come up with one, but obviously on a practical note, in my experience, it is really important to see there’s a good cultural fit and whether you can work together, and one of the quickest ways you can establish that is, because we’ve all had good conversations over the years with people. You’ve met them at a conference or a pub, or I don’t know, wherever you might, at an airport, and you’ve talked about how you potentially could work together and there’s level of excitement there, but maybe one party has been polite and is a bit more excited, less excited than the other and you can get carried away in emotion, but I think what’s important is, if you follow up very quickly, I don’t like to hang around.

I’m not one for bureaucracy. So if I follow up quickly with some bullet points, to try and establish a heads of terms. If you can’t get that done easily, then you’ll establish quickly there’s not a good cultural fit for whatever reason and you’ll save yourself a lot of time. You can’t do that, the rest of the relationship’s going to be really difficult.

Dixon Jones

I think Laurence and I go back a long way, because when I was full-time Majestic, we did that relationship with you a long time back. So I’m very glad I replied to that very first followup, if that’s the case.

Paul Stainton

I will say that sometimes even the more difficult strategic relationships are easier than trying to build it yourself. You’re always looking at these things when you’re trying to fill a particular gap as to whether you build it, buy it, or partner with it. And I know in my experience, I’ve had a few that have been just complete beasts of bureaucracy, but we had to get through that to get to the end result.

Dixon Jones

You must have a lot of alliances and allegiances in the technology. So it’s a big part of your game.

Paul Stainton

We are quickly approaching 70 integrations, so 70 strategic partnerships that we work with on a regular basis.

Dixon Jones

It’s building up there, isn’t it? You don’t have to answer this one, Paul, but are there things in those relationships where, because one technology’s in there, they’re trying to stop another technology getting in? Are those things that come into the conversations a bit?

Paul Stainton

They may try. We don’t really let them, because our goal is to provide as complete a tool set for marketing agencies as possible. And everyone knows that coming in. So we partner with a variety of SEO tools and they may be like, “Well, we don’t want to be there with our competitors.” That’s what our platform is, because agencies use different tools. They have different preferences for different reasons, and our whole approach is creating that full set.

Dixon Jones

I guess on the tool side, most of the relationships are either formal or there’s terms and conditions somewhere that we can, people can refer to, if required. It’s probably different on the agency side though, isn’t it, Laura? I suspect you’ve got much more soft relationships at times. Or do you try and have hard concrete ones as well?

Laura Hogan

A bit of both. So we don’t white label at all, but we do have strategic partners that we will recommend to people, if it’s a service that we can’t do. Then they completely own the relationship. We don’t have any involvement in that, but naturally in any industry money talks. So we do have commission with people both ways, where if people refer in clients to us, so there’s larger agencies we’ve worked with in the past that have a higher minimum retainer than we do. And then, if they’re referring a client to us and we sign them, we then give them a percentage back for as long as that person was a client with us. That was formalized, and we had twos and C’s for that. The same with web developers, particularly in Magento and some of the more complex-

Dixon Jones

Esoteric, esoteric platforms. Yes.

Laura Hogan

Yeah. The ones that we don’t like is the way that I usually put it. The ones that I don’t like working with. We don’t build Magento. So we have partners that we will refer people to and they then completely own that relationship, but again, we have a commission basis in there and it’s formalized, because it’s the easiest way to keep it clean there. If something was to go wrong with that relationship, we’re not part of it. There’s no worry there.

Paul Stainton

I think Laura brings up an excellent point, is that there’s such a broad definition of what a strategic alliance, strategic partnership can be. It can be anywhere from a referral relationship, content partnership, to a full integration where they live and breathe together. And the breadth is so wide that you can look at a partnership from so many different angles.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, and sometimes you can call it a partnership. Sometimes you can say, “I’m the customer.” Sometimes you can say, “I’m the owner of that relationship.” And the relationship does vary, I’m sure, but I think it becomes very interesting, especially when both partners are in the same space. So just for the wider audience, I was thinking of examples of famous partnerships that are pretty good. Maybe you guys can think of some as well, so the one that I always thought was really, really big in our industry was when Microsoft went to IBM and famously Bill Gates managed to get them to put the code into all of the PCs, but without exclusivity.

So basically, it didn’t become IBM’s operating system, and I think that Microsoft done very well out of that, but it would seem that the IBM didn’t do so well out of that, but that doesn’t mean to say the partnership was necessarily wrong. Because then they went on to do the same sort of thing with Dell and more recently I’ve seen ASOS, and now Microsoft, of course, have their own surface operating systems and things, service pads and computers as well. So that strategic alliance thing for a mature company seems to be inevitable, that they eventually go into that kind of relationship. I don’t know if there’s anything that stands out to want to announce is a famous partnership that’s worked or failed.

Laurence O’Toole

I would just say, I don’t know famous, but some industries are just so heavily reliant on them. You wouldn’t drive a car without the joint ventures and partnerships that occur in the car industry, and probably even more so now. I noticed you looked at people like Rivian, which is a new electric van company. Amazon invested in them, and then later on ordered, I don’t know, 10,000 electric vans from them, and then Ford put another 500 million in. So, especially with the new electric vehicles going forward, the whole new car industry is built on partnerships.

Dixon Jones

That’s a really interesting one actually. I’ve thought, for car companies to work together in that sort of way. Yeah.

Paul Stainton

I’m going to actually throw another Amazon example from my own personal life, which they resisted for a very long time, and that was simply being able to allow Amazon Prime to be casted onto Google Chromecast devices. And you couldn’t do that for far longer than, and in that battle for supremacy in the streaming space, I think that was a real miss on their part that they finally addressed and said, “Okay, yeah. We know we’ve got our own. We know that this is technically a competitor, but we’re just, we’re we’re going to do it.”

Dixon Jones

Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so what do you think, what about you Laura, in your current business, what kinds of … You said you’re doing things where it’s going commissions with people. Where do you not, where would you draw the line in a relationship? When would you say, “Okay, this strategic partnership is not going to work for us,” and cut it off? What are you looking for in a good business relationship?

Laura Hogan

Trust is a key one, really. When you are introducing people to your clients, you want to make sure that they’re going to do the best job for those clients. And also try not to take the work that you are doing for that client. So if somebody stepped over that line and was approaching one of our clients for our services, I’d probably cut the relationship off, because the trust is gone then for me, or also if the client fed back and didn’t have very positive things to say about them, the way that they combined with them, the work that was done, then we probably wouldn’t recommend them again.

Dixon Jones

I guess, so on a lot of your relationship, if it goes sour, you can get out quite quick. It’s going to be harder for Paul and Laurence in the technology space for some of your partnerships. I’m thinking really where you’ve got, for example, rank checking has always been a nightmare for tools like yours guys, and one day I remember, must have been eight, 10 years ago, all of a sudden, all of you suddenly had problems with rank checking, for example. And that’s because there was no formal relationship with Google about getting rankings and stuff. So what are the consequences of getting those relationships wrong? I don’t know, which one wants to jump in there.

Laurence O’Toole

I would just say going back to your first point about the pieces of advice, that’s why it’s hard to give one, because one of the things I always think about, I know it sounds really negative or not negative at all, but how is this? Every deal’s got a lifespan, so how is this deal going to end and why? And if you are thinking about it from their perspective, from the beginning, and you’re thinking, okay, all good things come to an end. Well, what do I do?

So if I take the Majestic API, for example, we knew back in 2010, ’11, we were crawling the web, and we could have carried on crawling the web and built huge costs and servers, and competed with Majestic and probably lost, but we decided not to, which was a good decision in retrospect, and decided to collaborate and partner, but obviously we did that with a view of, well, what do we do? And there weren’t actually that many choices at the time.

There’s a few more choices now, but we knew we had other options. And I suppose you’ve got to have that in mind. So for me, it’s a question of understanding that every deal has a lifespan. Obviously, you normally set terms for that, which might be five years, three years, a year, recurring, rolling, monthly, whatever the terms might be, but you obviously need to know what your contingency plan is, if things don’t pan out as expected.

Dixon Jones

So I guess you need to plan for a natural end and an unnatural end, really. So yeah. Paul, same with you, same sort of thoughts? By the way, I don’t mind you giving many tips, Laurence. That’s fine. That’s absolutely fine. That’s better than it depends, which is a harder thing for me to take.

Laurence O’Toole

I’m trying to avoid saying that today.

Dixon Jones

Thank you.

Paul Stainton

For us, it all comes down to how well it aligns with the ICP. So what our marketing agency’s looking for, and that, so from-

Dixon Jones

ICP, what’s an ICP?

Paul Stainton

Ideal customer-

Dixon Jones

Okay, profile. Yeah.

Paul Stainton

The client profile. Sorry. It is what do they need? And that’s where things change. And that’s where it comes from the lifespan standpoint, because platforms and tools will come and go, and we need to make sure that we are providing the tools that they need. So we’re adding new integrations. Haven’t yet experienced a situation where an integration goes away since I’ve joined AgencyAnalytics, but I’m sure that will come. That will happen, but it’s an interesting point of how do you project when you’re building that partnership, how and when that partnership will likely end?

Dixon Jones

Yeah.

Laura Hogan

You also have a lot of spans from the agency side too, because if you are referring work to each other, the agency that’s referring work to you may drop their minimum retainer. So the leads you get dry up. It may be that the agency sell players. There’s a lot of lifespans as well, so you need to have … I always think you need to have quite a few on the go, if you’re using that as a lead source for safety, like Sweet was pretty much built off of referral partnerships and strategic partnerships in its initial six to nine months. Most of the leads that we got on close came from that, but some of those partners we don’t get much from anymore, because their business has changed and how they want to operate has changed. So yeah, the lifespan is just as important this side of things too.

Dixon Jones

Well, that’s, you bring up an interesting point there, the idea of strategic alliances generate leads for your business. So it’s not just about the technology side of things. Both sides can do things. I suppose we’re doing that right now, by we’re all sharing a platform to have this conversation and hopefully highlighting some of the benefits of working together, when you could be working against each other at times. What about the relationship that you might have with a strategic partner? You’ve already said Laura, that you would pretty much keep everything very transparent in terms of go and talk to these people. And so you wouldn’t put their service behind another, behind yours, and then pretend it’s yours, but that’s the whole model technology wise of AgencyAnalytics on the other end, where a large part …

Well, not a large part, but a part of your system is having a white label. In fact, I think Authoritas too, have got a white label-ish approach to some tools. So at that point, Laurence and Paul, or Laura, if you want to jump in as well, to what extent do you hide the relationship or celebrate the relationship with a technology partner? You’re allowed to say it depends now, but you’ve got to say it depends on what. Does making that transparent or not depend, whether, on a number of factors? And if so, what factors? I’ll let Laurence go first, because he looks like he’s thinking.

Laurence O’Toole

Yeah. Well, I think, so I’m not going to say it. My view is that generally I think it adds value. These partnerships add value, and it’s great to talk about them, because there’s so much to be gained. Like we do joint webinars or joint exhibitions or joint marketing collaborations. And generally, it works well to be transparent about who our partners are and the value that they bring. And also the value we add over and above what they perhaps bring to the table. So in the example with Majestic, we’ll take Majestic’s API in, but we will re-crawl all that data and we’ll look at the content, and look for relevance to the ranking site. So we can give you topical relevance metrics. So we’re always talk about Majestic when we’re talking to clients about our platform, always. It’s on our website. We’re very transparent about that. I think generally that would be our role.

I think there are a couple of examples where we might have key partnerships with people where we’ve, perhaps it’s a bit left field. It’s not from the SEO field, but we’re working with someone that gives us access to, for example, I don’t know, millions of IP addresses, and we might not want to talk about that for strategic reasons. And it’s not really relevant to the end customer anyway, because they’re not buying an IP address. They’re buying the end product. So in that example, without giving too much away, it gives us a competitive edge. We run our own networks, so we’re not reliant on anybody else. We wouldn’t talk about it.

Dixon Jones

Okay. And Paul, what would be the occasions when you would go one way or the other, or lean one way or another?

Paul Stainton

I just wanted to clarify, we have multiple tiers, right? We are very transparent to our clients, the agencies of the integrations, all the integrations are branded. So you can connect Google Analytics, you can connect Majestic, you can connect Facebook Ads into the dashboard. From the white label perspective, we let the agencies white label our platform. So we have that strategic relationship or alliance with them, so that their clients see their brand, not our brand. That’s-

Dixon Jones

And then that’s entirely up to the agency as to how much the share of that, and that’s put the decision in their hand.

Paul Stainton

It depends, I think I will connect to what Laurence said. I think, if it provides value, and people are connecting or looking for that particular piece of the puzzle that they want to add to their world, I think it makes sense to be transparent, where if it’s something where having that name attached to it doesn’t provide any other value, I think that’s where you would probably white label it and absorb it in. I think to Laura’s example, some agencies will just have that completely transparent. I’m going to pass this along to this person. Some agencies will hire that SEO person, but it keeps the same contact, it keeps the same account manager. They’re just outsourcing that work in the backend and the client never even knows. So it really depends on how you want to build that relationship and who you want to be to that client.

Laura Hogan

Yeah, 100%. We have some relationships where we work with agencies that white label us in. So the client doesn’t know that we exist, but we’re the ones doing the work for that agency.

Dixon Jones

Okay. That’s interesting. That’s interesting. Does that feel, does that make life difficult? Do you then have to try and remember to send emails from their email address accounts and things like that? Is that a difficult thing to manage at times? Does it leak out accidentally?

Laura Hogan

We’ve not had it leak out, so we’re very careful, I say.

Dixon Jones

That’s fine. I’m not asking you to reveal anything. No.

Laura Hogan

It doesn’t make it too difficult. It’s just remembering, isn’t it? You’re the analytics for that, client’s on a different email address to what you might usually log in for, or you might need to remember, if you make a document, to make sure you’re in that email address. It’s a nice way of doing things. And we have a couple of agencies that we work with really regularly, that their clients don’t know that we exist, but we’re helping them out with bits and bobs. I suppose it’s slightly less stressful in some respects, because you’re not dealing with science on the account. You’re doing the work and-

Dixon Jones

In agency world, clients, end clients could be the hardest part of the agency relationship, can’t they? Getting them to, I don’t know, to buy in all the way down the customer funnel and stuff like that, but if you’ve got another agency protecting you brand wise from that, you can do exactly what you’re told and let them deal with the the fallout, when suddenly what you were told to do was not what the customer thought was going to happen.

Paul Stainton

There’s probably a bit of a downside in that too, in that you’re dealing with a bit of broken telephone, and that you’re getting the direction second hand.

Dixon Jones

Yeah, or Chinese whispers.

Laura Hogan

Yeah, but it’s down to the agency to make sure they’re feeding what they’re wanting right from the client. There’s another kind of way that we have worked with other agencies in the census too, where we’ve actually had an email address for their company, and we still talk to the client, but they think that the employee from my company actually works for this other company as well, to the extent that this person’s even put on that company is meet the team page and things like that. For me, it’s just always whatever’s going to be easier for the clients. So technically the agency is our client in that respect, but if we as Sweet are ever recommending anybody, we don’t white label it. We just go, “Here you go. This person’s great at this. Go talk to them and deal with it.”

Laurence O’Toole

I can imagine some work it must be easier to white label than others, because you must have found yourself in a situation where, I don’t know, you’re white labeling for someone, if it’s SEO work, and they say, “Okay, we want this done,” and you might go, “Are you sure you want that done? Or do you really want that? You don’t want that done. You want this done?” And have that dialogue with them, as opposed to something like, I don’t know, can we just get all these posts out on social media? Which anybody could do kind of thing.

Laura Hogan

Yeah. For sure. There can definitely be pushback on things. If we don’t think the strategy is right, that they’re suggesting, we’ll put it through. You don’t always win. You’ve got to be prepared for that sometimes, but at least, if you’ve put it out there, worst case scenario, they might put it in for next month. They might not be able to change this month, but they could put it in for next month, but that’s on us as well, to make sure we build a really good relationship with the agency that’s white labeling to us. So that almost teaching them, if they’re not too familiar with SEO, which would be the reason that they’d want us on board, because they don’t necessarily know it themselves. So we try and spend time teaching the basics at the very least, so that they know what they’re talking about. And especially when it comes to technical, they need to know what a canonical is. They might not need to know how to fix it, but just so they can explain it to their clients.

Dixon Jones

Got to use the right words in the right place. Otherwise, they get caught out very quickly. Yeah. I know what you mean. Well, the truth of it must be, or the success of a business relationship must be about the problem definition really. In the tool space, or even the car space as you went once, or the operating system space and computer space, whatever, the problem definition is really well defined. As long as the API has reasonable documentation, you can assess what you’re going to get for your money before you go through all the process of building that relationship up. Laura, you must find that, that only works on day one, if the problem, definitely, the thing that you’ve got to do is really, really well defined. And the more it gets consultative, the harder that relationship’s going to be.

Laura Hogan

Yeah. And I think that’s why, when we recommend people, we know what the relationship is with that person and what are they likely to get from this? What are we likely to get from this? And it’s just really clear. It’s a numerical commission. It’s the same every month. It’s really cut and dry as to how that’s going to be. When people are white labeling work into us and we’re doing the work behind the scenes, again, you always want your contract in place with the agency that you are working for, with whatever notice period, et cetera, so that everybody knows where they stand and what the terms are of the work, and what the expectation is.

If they’re asking you to do SEO, it’s you don’t want them to turn around in two weeks time, as they’re asking you to do social, because that isn’t what you’re discussing in contract to do. So I think as long as you’re all clear with each other and just have a really open dialogue at the start, it will make it a lot easier in the long run. We’ve got referral partners that we’ve been working with for years and never had any issues, touch wood.

Paul Stainton

One of the things that I’m sure Laurence has experienced as well, is that one of the challenges you have with the strategic partnership is when the problem definition and the technical capabilities of the API or whatever the integration is don’t necessarily align, where we want to be able to pull in this data for these agencies. The API only provides this data, so how do you bridge those gaps? Or how do you put something out that is valuable?

Dixon Jones

Yeah. That happens a lot, I think. Sorry, Laurence.

Laurence O’Toole

Yeah, I was going to say that’s definitely true. Or putting it other ways, where you work with another technology partner. And it’s a question of you’re trying to bring both your sets of skills and data to solve a problem. And it’s like how do we merge our technology with yours? And should we use your API or ours? Where it’s cut and dried on a supplier side, it’s much easier from a tools perspective. So if I look at suppliers to us, it’s like I want link data, great. If I wanted to bring in, we’ve got our own crawl up, want to bring in crawl data that I could get an API from somebody, but when on the sales side, maybe you’re creating a new proposition. Then it’s obviously we’ll probably get into those complex type of discussions that Paul was mentioned earlier, where actually there’s a proper joint venture. You’re putting in an effort and resources and expertise and data to try and build something that doesn’t exist right now.

Dixon Jones

I guess another danger with pulling in people’s APIs though, is you’ve got to know the pedigree of where that data’s coming from a little bit as well, because right at the start Laurence, you and I probably knew each other when Yahoo’s search explorer was still out. There were lots of tools using Yahoo’s site explorer for link data. And of course that just came offline one day and no one was paying anything for it, but I would imagine that some people had built tools on that data and they were selling APIs on top of that information out to third parties. So I know from, I’m not involved in Majestic at this level of detail now, but I know in their past they’ve been very careful to try and not promise what they can’t deliver for the reasonable future.

Obviously, the world could always change, but I think they’ve been quite good at making sure they’re not building on somebody else’s technology that then stops them from making a reasonable promise to the AgencyAnalytics or Authoritas of this world. And that’s not always the case with all the technologies. Not all can do it. No all. Some of them have to. Rank checking is a very difficult thing, if Google doesn’t want to be rank checked. So it’s a challenge.

Laurence O’Toole

That’s a good point to make actually, and it’s the providence of the data. Obviously, we took that decision. We knew, we met, we came up and met Alex, and looked at the data and what you were doing. And we were like, “Okay. Yeah, you’re going to be much better at this than us. Let’s stick to what we’re good at,” and which was getting ironically getting keyword ranking data, but over the time, the decade or more, I’ve been running this business, or even before in other businesses. Sometimes, you get offers from people that are just too good to be true, and generally they are too good to be true. There’s something wrong somewhere, and for me, you’ve seen that in the SEO industry without mentioning names, but things like these IP-

Dixon Jones

Don’t mention any names, just get into trouble for sponsoring the show.

Laurence O’Toole

What I mean is things like take IPs, and you find out actually it’s not a valid proxy network, but it’s a residential IP addresses. And then people don’t know that their IP’s are being used. And that’s why I’ve got a big problem with click stream data, and you saw what happened to Jumpshot, and then Hitwise, and how that cascaded down the industry, because something I’ve asked, made that data not available, and people are having their data used and they’re not aware of it.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. That Jumpshot click stream data was a very big one for us to turn down back in the day, because we thought, I’m not sure that this is sustainable as a methodology. And so we were lucky that we didn’t get into that, but I would imagine most, many SEOs will steer at that particular point. Sorry, did you want to jump in at all Paul?

Paul Stainton

Not necessarily, but I think just one additional thought that I wanted to make sure we cover before we get close to the end is one of the other parts, the other important parts of a strategic relationship is dealing with how your partner is positioning you, particularly when you are one of several partners. And this goes back to I told you I’ve been doing this for 23 years. One of the first strategic partnerships I ever helped negotiate was between the CBC, which was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Blackberry, to create one of the first mobile news feeds. And we really had … Everything else was settled and a big part of the discussion was where did we end up in the list of news between ourselves and CNN, and negotiating where do we fit in that partnership world? It’s an important part of that development.

Dixon Jones

Yeah. I think that’s a very fair point. You know what? It’s been a fascinating discussion and we are pretty much getting close to the end already. So I told you I go quick, and so it’s been, but before we go, I’d love you to all say where they can find more about you and if they wanted to track you down and make a partnership with you, or investigate the products, where do they go? Laura, why don’t I start with you?

Laura Hogan

Yeah. So sweetdigital.co.uk is the website. You can get in touch or you drop me an email to laura@jellybeanagency.co.uk, just for some confusion.

Dixon Jones

Fantastic, Laura. Paul, you’ve already given a URL, give it out again. Or is there somewhere else they should go?

Paul Stainton

Yeah, so again, AgencyAnalytics. So any marketing agencies that want to look at, I guess the recap note is we look at our partnerships or our strategic alliances as the pieces of a marketing agency’s puzzle. And we’re like the picture on the box that helps them figure out where everything goes. So if anyone wants to find out more about how we help agencies, it’s agencyanalytics.com, and for anyone specific to Majestic, it would be agencyanalytics.com/majestic.

Dixon Jones

Lovely, and Laurence.

Laurence O’Toole

Thanks, so Laurence O’Toole. Visit the website, authoritas.com, or find me on LinkedIn. You should find me fairly easily. And in terms of partnerships, we’ve got some great partnerships in eCommerce with people like Group Buy, which are into site search and merchandising. So definitely looking for more partnerships in the eCommerce arena, and also on the big query data and analytics side of things with data studio, where we’re doing a lot of work right

Dixon Jones

Now, for those that are on a podcast, O’Toole is spelled O-T-O oh, oh, oh. It’s like L-E.

Laurence O’Toole

I figured, if Google can have 10 zeros or 10 O’s, why can’t I?

Dixon Jones

Hopefully, can find you just with a couple of O’s, but anyway-

Laurence O’Toole

Yeah, just the two in the middle.

Dixon Jones

Okay. Just before we leave, can I bring back my producer, David, to tell us what’s happening next month and round things off for us?

David Bain

Absolutely. Next month, we’re streaming live on Wednesday the 6th of July 5.00 PM UK time, 12.00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. That will be for episode 30 of Old Guard New Blood. We’ll be talking about SEO QA/testing then. On that particular episode, we’ve got a couple of guests booked already. Myriam Jessier from PRAGM and Gianna Brachetti-Truskawa from Startdowns. So that’ll be a month’s time, Wednesday the 6th of July 5.00 PM UK time. Just go to majestic.com/webinars to sign up for that.

Dixon Jones

And I think we’re promoting you to lead for that one as well. Aren’t we David?

David Bain

Maybe.

Dixon Jones

I’m trying to go down the Danube that day. So if we haven’t talked about that, we may be.

Laurence O’Toole

Live streaming on the river. That’s great.

Dixon Jones

Guys, it’s been a fascinating conversation. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been interesting to look at things through different lenses, and also from different perspectives. I hope everybody out there in podcast land got something out of it. Certainly I did. And just leads me to say thank you very much and see you soon in cyberspace guys.

Paul Stainton

Thanks. It was a pleasure meeting everyone. Laura, I love your glasses. I’m going to have to check that out.

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Comments

  • Shanna

    How does your agency or digital marketing platform work together with other agencies or data providers?

    [Sorry, link removed. We do not allow advertising links on our blog].

    May 24, 2022 at 11:35 am

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