Internet Marketing Interviews

Interview with David Henzel, the VP of Marketing at MaxCDN

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Today we are having a conversation with David Henzel, partner and VP of Marketing at NetDNA - the most innovative and awesome Content Delivery Network service provider.

David calls himself a “serial entrepreneur” in the online space (even though he considers this term kinda clichéd) and has more than 10 years of industry experience in Internet marketing and SEO expertise to back it all up. Before joining NetDNA/MaxCDN, David was a consultant for businesses in Europe and tinkered with eCommerce solutions of his own. Later he understood that he can do much more, but not in the Old World, so he moved across Atlantics and rooted in New York where he chases his American dream.

So let's listed to David, quite so you'll get a lot of useful & interesting information from his answers.

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Lilian Rigo: In your own experience, what activities have you found most conducive to your growth as a "serial entrepreneur"?
David Henzel: There have been so many factors in my life that have led me on my path to become an entrepreneur and so many people that have helped and influenced me whom I can’t thank enough. But when I think about it, there are four main thoughts:

Passion: The only way to stay mentally sane while working crazy hours + weekends and all staying on top of all these hyper focused projects is to really love what you are doing. The most conducive concept that has helped me in business is the love for people, the passion for what I am doing, and being a personal development geek. I would recommend everyone to read the works of Napoleon Hill’s as well as Zen to Done, by Leo Babauta. A very important, but perhaps overused insight: “If you love your job, you do not work a single hour in your life”

By the way, I am not the biggest fan of this word “serial entrepreneur”, I think it is a bit overused. Yet a lot entrepreneurs tend to have the “entrepreneurial ADD” (Attention Deficit Disorder) which drives them to always look for the new thing, the next thing, the fresh challenge to build something bigger, or solving another problem. It is that constant drive pushing them forward which likely results in various Enterprises 🙂

People: When you think about it, it is always about people.. the people in your team, your partners, your understanding / supporting wife or partner, the people whose problem you are solving (your customers), the people that help you get things off the ground, or the people that are opening doors for you by making important intros etc. There is never a one man show.

Habits: Our habits are the key to extreme success and also to big time failure. It really depends which habits and routines you cultivate. Once you have a positive habit down, i.e. working out every day, getting up at 5:30 every morning or checking your marketing metrics religiously, it does not require any effort. Book Tip: The Power of Habit

Networking: It is extremely powerful to surround yourself with the right people and connect with them. You will find these people at conferences, trade shows, meetups, web forums, etc. You will be most successful if you can figure out early on how you can provide value to them and vice versa.

TIP: My favorite tool to keep in touch with the vast amount of people that I meet in business and personal is ming.ly. It’s slogan is taking the “work” out of net”work”ing; and it really does.

I just realized that this was a pretty long answer, I promise to keep the next ones shorter 🙂

Alex Bulat: On your website, you've mentioned about your work with successful businesses in Europe. Curiosity eats us, could you please name them?
David Henzel: My entrepreneurial journey started with a small company that was providing IT support (mainly supporting in house linux servers and desktop system) which has led to my e-commerce business. I had shops in several niches but the one that did the best was surprisingly a hookah store. I know it is kind of random but one of the clients from my IT business was / is the biggest importer of oriental water pipes in Europe. One thing simply led to the next.

I was also involved in my wife’s furniture and home accessory store chain that was run by my wife and her brothers, where I took care of the IT / POS and e-commerce part.

The e-commerce business was a lot of fun and e-commerce is still my passion but, I felt more like building solutions for merchants then selling things myself. Plus, I always wanted to move to the United States (Los Angeles to be exact). Selling my business gave me the necessary capital to get my investor (E3) visa.

Lilian Rigo: In your opinion or experience, what are the best ways to style the home page of a website? (We see that your personal site is designed to be super clean. Do you like a very clean approach?)
David Henzel: My personal homepage is not a good example since I do not really care about it. I like very simple and clean design, but the most important thing is that a site converts. For the business it does not really matter what I like. It has to be a current style (what is “trendy” in the industry), and it has to convey the main theme. Let the numbers speak (AB testing) and go with the design that results from trying out what is converting. So my personal preference does not matter all that much.

At MaxCDN we have recently revived the “long sales page” style and it is working pretty well so far in terms of conversion rates.

Alex Bulat: You're calling yourself a "passionate marketer." It means job is actually your passion? Is this what you always wanted to do?
David Henzel: As I mentioned before, I think it is very important that you work in a field that you are passionate about and that the people you hire share this passion.

I enjoy a lot of aspects in business but somehow I gravitated towards marketing. This is actually happening a lot at MaxCDN. We hire smart and highly motivated people for a certain position and we find that they may gravitate to another area, so we reposition them. Best example for this is our marketing rockstar Justin, who started out in support.

What really excites me about today’s marketing is that the old push marketing / megaphone method (TV style) is not working anymore. Inbound and viral marketing is way more fun. Plus, it forces you to build an awesome product and to treat your customer very well, so you turn them into advocates for your brand. Nothing can beat word of mouth rocket fueled by social media!!

Today's web world forces companies to be 100% real and transparent. Shady stuff doesn't fly anymore. If you treat your customers poorly or if you provide a shitty service... a social media bushfire will start immediately.

So in a way social media is cleaning the world from bad products and shady companies. Yelp® is a great example for this. Back in the days, a restaurant at a tourist destination was able to provide mediocre service, since most people will not come again anyway. But nowadays the tourist will just whip out his iPhone, check yelp or a similar service and know where to go and where not to go. The result is, the restaurant either get’s it’s act together or will run out of business. The amplification of social media is incredibly exciting to me. It is uplifting the good and killing the bad 🙂

Lilian Rigo: Let's get back for a while. How did you find (or stumble, as the case may be) your way into MaxCDN?
David Henzel: After a visit to L.A. fifteen years ago, I always wanted to live here, so four years ago I made it finally happen. I had sold my business in Germany and I went to L.A. to figure out what kind of options I had in terms of starting a new business. Chris Ueland, one of my business partners + great friend and mentor, had just sold his web-hosting business and was in the process of starting MaxCDN and was looking for partners / investors. It was a natural fit.

Even though I was in tech and e-commerce before I had never heard about CDN’s and the benefits of a faster loading website.

I do not want to be salesy in this interview but I think everybody should have a fast loading website. In case you want to try out MaxCDN, feel free to use the coupon code “templatemonster” for a 25% discount 😉

Alex Bulat: Internet has radically changed the world and especially the ways how people are made to buy stuff. Your predictions, what possible marketing techniques are waiting for us in the nearest future?
David Henzel: Marketing automation like eloqua, pardot, marketo and hubspot in combination with content marketing and social media is being adopted more and more. It allows businesses to gather info about their users to provide them better targeted offers. It also allows them to do Lead scoring (link) which makes to job of an enterprise sales guy a LOT easier 🙂

Context is more important than ever to be able to stand out from all the “noise”. Send customers the right marketing message for them at the right time goes a very far way.
I am working on a project called STICKY, which allows e-commerce merchants to set up rulesets to segment users and show them the right pitch.

Another feature is the social wish-list functionality which allows users to make better buying and group decisions.

Alex Bulat: Can you specify some innovations you've introduced into online marketing, in general?
David Henzel: I just mentioned STICKY, which is used by TemplateMonster as well by the way, so in case you want to check it out just go to any product page on templatemonster.com and click the add to shortlist button or on the little hearts in the product listings and share the list with a friend via facebook or email.

Your friends will receive a link like this one: http://goo.gl/aqlYy where they can give you feedback about your selected templated.

Group decisions made easy 😉

Lilian Rigo: Which marketing techniques, which you had personally applied, turned out to be the least effective?
David Henzel: Banners, advertise on sites that are not 100% targeted. And pretty much everything where I did not give proper focus. It takes a lot of attention and tweaking until you make new marketing channels really work well.
Lilian Rigo: We know you had been working on various e-commerce solutions in the past. What opportunities do you see in e-commerce field over the next years? What are the trends?
David Henzel: It became very very easy to setup and online store. Just find a niche, a dropshipping provider, install PrestaShop, buy a cool template on TemplateMonster and you are in business. It feels like there is an entrepreneurial renaissance happening right now.

Mobile is of course super important so make sure you buy a responsive theme 🙂

Providing targeted offers to your customers at the right time. One feature that we are currently building is a “watchlist” functionality for Sticky. It will allow your customers to follow certain categories and receive an email alert as soon as new products are available. People are always looking for the latest and greatest.

Alex Bulat: What's your global goal for the next let's say 5 years?
David Henzel: Goals are very important and everybody should have his 5 year plan and his bucket list. But to not sound too crazy I will leave it at: Raising my daughter who will be born in early September 🙂
Alex Bulat: Talking about productive environment, what tools/services/products help you be more productive in workplace?
David Henzel: As I told you before I am a productivity geek, I have tried almost every tool under the sun. Here are a few tips.

Trello: Probably the best tool to organize groups and todos.

Ming.ly: Great gmail plugin that helps you to become a networking rockstar.

Timedoctor: (Thank you for the tipp Syed!) I am currently trying it out and it is really funny to see how much time you spend on which task, plus it asks you if you are still working on the same task in case you end up on facebook or spend too much time in twitter or facebook.

Mindmapping: Really helps to plan and to visualize things. We use it all the time, also in team meetings. When in doubt mindmap! 🙂

Two monitors: A study by the New York times has shown that a second monitor will add between 20 and 30% more productivity.

ZentoDone: I have mentioned it before but I have to do it again 🙂 Read this book! It is only 30 pages or so.

Lilian Rigo: We know you lead a busy life, full of activities. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it.
David Henzel: I am a passionate workaholic and the things I enjoy most beside spending time with Yurda (my wife) and our dogs is probably meeting with other entrepreneurs and talking about how things can be optimized or just bounce around ideas.

Another thing I really enjoy is reading books or listen to audio books and all are focused around personal development, business or biographies. I have not read a novel in 15 years :p

Regular exercise is also a very important thing for me. My productivity and happiness level drops significantly when I can’t do any form of sport for too long.

Lilian Rigo: Can you please share and rank 5 most inspirational TED talks you've seen lately and explain your choice?
David Henzel: Ted.com is the on of the coolest sites on the web! When I found Ted I was blown away / freaking out.

I do not watch TV and I do not consume any non industry related news for six or seven years now. The first time I heard about this concept was by Tim Ferris’s “4hour work week” and this ted talk by JP Rangaswami: Information is food sums it up!

A funny thing that I have learned from a Ted talk at age 34 is how to tie my shoes properly 🙂

The talk by Juan Enriquez: Will our kids be a different species blew me absolutely away.

The talk by Rachel Botsman: The currency of the new economy is trust because I believe she is dead on and because she is an advocate for collaborative consumption (i.e. airbnb, zipcar, kickstarter, etsy, skillshare, taskrabbit). They are so many reasons why collaborative consumption is awesome. It creates micro entrepreneurs and they help to protect the finite resources of our planet.

This talk by Simon Sinke: How great leaders inspire action shows you why everybody buys Apple products and why other products flop. Very inspiring and important for everybody that wants to build a product, company or brand.

Alex Bulat: Let us know about the most significant challenge you've faced as a marketer or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?
David Henzel: One thing that I have learned is that every mistake is bringing a lot of opportunity with it.

I was devastated after addressing everybody on our MaxCDN customer list with Hi {FIRSTNAME} (using the wrong variable) in one of our back then very boring newsletters. How can such a noob mistake happen to me... Why didn’t I see this in the testmail that I have send to myself?

After thinking quite a bit about, how I can turn this around, I have send another email the next day, which looked like this:

Subject line: ooops....

Body: I know your name, << Test First Name >>! I'm sorry! How Embarrassing!
I accidentally sent it out with out your proper name filled in. I guess I should not do anything prior to my first coffee...

I'll give you an extra 10% Bandwidth on top of our Halloween Special

The result was CRAZY, people loved it. We had never sold as much on a promotional email before and I had an incredible engagement with our customers.

From then on I have written every monthly newsletter email in a funny and edgy way and we had a lot of success with it. Sometimes I went a little overboard in terms of focusing on creating engagement which resulted in me responding to emails for 2 days straight 😉

Lilian Rigo: You are an extremely successful marketer, VP of Marketing at MaxCDN! Three pieces of advice from guru.
David Henzel: I will borrow from smarter people:

"If you want something you've never had, You've got to do something you've never done." - Thomas Jefferson

“Rise early, work hard, strike oil.” - J. Paul Getty

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” - Henry Ford

Alex Bulat: In the upshot, what is the nicest thing you've ever done that no one knows about?
David Henzel: This is a tuff one! Maybe I can outsource this to people that know me and come across this post? But on the other hand, I am German we are not known for being nice :p

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By the by out interview is over though can ask any questions in the comments. Or you can address David in person using the contact information below.

Contacts:

Website: davidhenzel.com
Twitter: @davidhenzel
LinkedIn: davidhenzel

One Response

  1. Great post!

    What is the name of the WP theme for Colored lines?

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