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Massimo Chieruzzi is a nerd. Through his career he's been a Radio speaker, journalist, developer, marketer, entrepreneur and angel investor... but he's still mainly just a nerd with too many ideas and too little time to execute them.

At 14 years old he was the youngest Italian guy indicted in cyber crime for running a pirate bbs and making countless intercontinental calls with his modem to avoid paying the bills through boxing.

He later founded Creative Web, the leading web development agency in Italy and biggest provider in Europe for eBay and other companies.

In 2013, after growing frustration for not being able to split test and optimize Facebook Ads at scale, he co-founded AdEspresso, an easy tool for SMBs to manage, analyze and optimize Facebook Ads.

As the CEO he helped set the product vision, scale the blog from 0 to 700,000 visits per month and build a profitable business with just inbound marketing and 0 people on sales, making AdEspresso the most used Facebook Ads product worldwide. 

AdEspresso was acquired by Hootsuite in 2017 and is now part of the Hootsuite family - where Massimo is GM of AdEspresso. 

You can ask him anything you want but your chances to get an interesting answer will dramatically increase if you focus on these topics: Startups, Facebook Advertising, Inbound Marketing.

You can also check his blog here.

  • FC

    flavia caroppo

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Massimo!
    In your bio you say that you created AdEspresso "After growing frustration for not being able to split test and optimize Facebook Ads at scale".
    Thanks to your "frustration", 5 years later thousands of businesses use the app to easily manage, analyze and optimize Facebook and Google Ads campaigns.

    What if you were starting now? What is "frustrating" digital marketers today? Which tool you wish you had? Are you planning on creating it?

    And what would you suggest to a young nerd with a big brain and even bigger dreams (like yourself, basically)? To invest in his/her dream and become entrepreneur right after high school? Or to invest in the tuition to get a Top University education and aim for a well paid job?

    Per Aspera Ad Astra! Thank You :) Fla

    5 Share
    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey @flagolosa ... thanks for the kind words :) I'm actually dumber than you think... and you should know since you gave me my first job as a journalist!

      Let's answer your questions 1 by 1 ...

      Lot of frustrations nowadays as well :) Not all of them solvable, some of them are for sure.

      One thing I really find frustrating is that the promise of tools interoperability through APIs is still far far away. Sure we have Zapier and IFTT and a lot of other tools to make connections between our marketing stack tools but I think an optimal solution is still far and the UX for a marketer still sucks.

      That’s why a lot of 360° tools are getting a lot of traction even tho’ they’re not best in class at anything. But the unified user experience and data management they offer is such a great value proposition!

      In the realm of Content Marketing I’d love to see a more comprehensive tool that focuses on overall content creation and strategy not just SEO or cross channel publishing. Content Marketing is becoming very competitive and less effective. Newcomers with little/mid expertise will need something that can guide them through Keywords research, content planning, topic analysis, competitor analysis and easy interpretation of data in an actionable way.

      I’m looking very closely at https://storychief.io …. looks promising and I’ve just signed up to play with it more.

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      And what would you suggest to a young nerd with a big brain and even bigger dreams (like yourself, basically)? To invest in his/her dream and become entrepreneur right after high school? Or to invest in the tuition to get a Top University education and aim for a well paid job?

      Focus on what you love and be the best... doesn't matter how you get there. Could be university, could be reading blogs. I've never looked at the CV of anyone we hired, I just looked at what they were capable of.

      Artificial intelligence in the next few years will destroy thousands of less qualified jobs (sometimes even high qualified ones) all across the board. You’ll need to really be the best even if in a small niche to thrive.

      3 Share
  • SS

    Sarah Sal

    about 2 months ago #

    Hey Massimo,

    What would you say is the biggest marketing lesson cats taught you?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      @sarah_sal, I’m always fascinated by your obsession with cats :) As the future overlords of this planet, cats can teach us a lot, that’s for sure.

      If I’d have to pick just one thing cats taught us it would be that people don’t go on Facebook to buy your products. They go on Facebook to look at cute kittens pictures. So your ads really need to be engaging and tell a compelling story if they seriously want to compete with kittens for users’ attention :)

      6 Share
  • TW

    Tory Wenger

    about 2 months ago #

    What role do you think AI has (or should have) in the future of marketing?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      @tory_wenger1 I'm actually really scared of AI. It's a huge opportunity for the world but also a serious danger.

      In few years from now AIs will be smart enough to replace thousands of jobs across every industry and this will require a huge political and economical shift that IMHO we're not ready to address. We'll see :)

      But you were asking about marketing! In the short term I see a lot of benefits from AI especially for SMBs with little marketing expertise. Things like bidding, CPC, split testing will be a thing of the past. Facebook and Google will soon (years anyway) be able to analyze your website and create a decent looking ad for you and find the best targeting.

      We'll have more time to focus on creativity and strategy leaving the minial tasks to AIs.

      This is in the short/mid term. In the long term.....

  • BS

    Brad Smith

    2 months ago #

    Yo Max!

    What was the hardest transition point/period going from agency -> software?

    <3 U :)

    • BS

      Brad Smith

      2 months ago #

      Also, AC or Inter?

      • MC

        Massimo Chieruzzi

        about 2 months ago #

        This is weird... I had answered this one! Actually none of them :) I live in Milan but I'm not from Milan so the answer is Juventus!

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      Pretty generic but the scariest part was moving from a $1M/year business to a $0/year business at the very beginning :)

      But I’d say there was an harder transition point later on. What I didn’t realize at the beginning was how critical the agency part of the business was to have a close contact with customers and inform the software business decisions. At the beginning you don’t realize it because you still have contacts with your old contacts and because at least in our case, I was AdEspresso end customer.

      As we grew bigger it became harder to stay in sync with the market needs. Having thousands of customers is cool, but also reduce the interactions with them, while with an agency business you always have a very healthy communication channel open with your users.

      This point is explained much better by Rand Fishkin in his book Lost and Founder (Which I reviewed with my own comments here: https://divbyzero.io/lost-and-founder-review/. Rand makes a great point on how useful his consulting business was to build Moz.

  • GD

    Giles Dawe

    2 months ago #

    How did you initially promote AdEspresso and which big influencers contacted you first?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      All of our initial promotion was done through Content Marketing. We created our blog before we even knew what AdEspresso would have looked like.

      Next we built a funnel to convert the traffic into leads and then customers without being too pushy. We always managed the company like we had two businesses: A software one and a publishing one.

      We knew that as long as we were providing great information about Facebook Ads to our potential customers, sooner or later they would have discovered we also had a product to sell.

      It worked great. Probably we could have been a bit more aggressive plugging the product inside our content and it would have been ok for our users ... but nevermind :)

      I'm not a big fan of influencers marketing. It works great, especially for b2b ... it's just not my cup of tea. We never reached out to specific influencers. We just did our job the best way we could and sooner or later they discovered us.

      We never asked for a plug into their content or affiliate agreements. We just built a relationship with them meeting at conferences and other events and with some of them we became friends, some of them started working for us... some of them still hates us :) I'd say except for those that we hired who had a terrific impact on our team, no influencer really moved the needle in our acquisition strategy,

      4 Share
  • AO

    Abid Omar

    2 months ago #

    What's the future of Messenger Marketing? Do Messenger Ads will work more than other types on Facebook?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      @iamabidomar We are very early on in the Messenger Marketing world.

      If the market community will threat it like any other channel just to get more eye-balls it will probably not bloom... but I see very good signals here and great examples of companies using Messenger Marketing to seriously start conversations, engage with customers and build loyalty.

      Also from a tooling standpoints more and more companies are releasing great tools to help SMBs adopt messengers.

      It's gonna be an interesting ride and a very big trend of the future... especially if you look at it together with voice based devices like Google Assistant and Amazon Echo... a lot of unexplored opportunities there as well!

      3 Share
  • MB

    Melanie Broder

    about 2 months ago #

    If you starting to create Facebook ads from scratch today, what are the three most important things to know?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      1) People don't go on Facebook to take decisions. People go on Facebook to avoid taking decisions. Your ads should be engaging and not try to sell immediately to a perfect stranger

      2) The problem is not that Facebook Ads are too expensive for you. That's a market condition. The problem is that you're not making enough money from each customer. Up-sell, Cross-sell, add a subscription based part to your business and focus on maximizing your LTV.

      3) Don't be scared. Take that smartphone out of your pocket and record a video ad :)

      5 Share
    • MB

      Melanie Broder

      about 2 months ago #

      you were*

  • JS

    J Social

    about 2 months ago #

    When choosing a niche — how do you decide which to go with and when to change?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey @j-social ... tough question :)

      I usually don't think in terms of picking a niche but rather focus on "What problem do I want to solve".

      Then of course that result in a niche I have to target and my main concern is that the niche should be big enough for my long term business goals and growing rather than shrinking.

      Of course the approach is totally different when dealing with eCommerce businesses... but that's a business I don't focus a lot myself.

      3 Share
  • PS

    Piero Savastano

    about 2 months ago #

    You are a master in content marketing. How do you expect this specific sector to develop in the next years? How does it combine with other trends in tech?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      That's a great question @piero_savastano even tho' I'm not a master in content marketing :) Let's just say I love the content marketing space :P

      I think content marketing will become more and more competitive and less effective over time (it's already happening).

      There are a bunch of reasons for this:

      1) Everybody is jumping on board and adopting Content Marketing as a primary strategy. This makes the market more competitive and ranking harder. Being first to market will become more important. We had a great success with AdEspresso blog, being among the firsts to cover the topic helped a lot. I would be really scared if someone tasked me to replicate our blog success starting today instead of 5 years ago.

      2) Google is trying to answer most of the questions directly inside the search results. this erodes the amount of traffic even someone in position number 1 will receive.

      3) New generations have the attention span of a goldfish. While to succeed at Content Marketing you need to publish the most complete content out there, you'll also need to re-purpose it in shorter formats like videos ... or Instagram stories sigh.

      4) Long form blog posts perform incredibly well on desktop. But we're now living in a mobile world. And information are often discovered rather than searched.

      That said I still think it will be critical to focus on producing less content but with way higher quality and re-purpose them in different formats: Text, Audio, Video. Building a brand and a loyal community will also be key for long term success!

      4 Share
  • MC

    Massimo Chieruzzi

    about 2 months ago #

    @barbara_bonfim1 I'm not finding a way to directly reply your question so I'll just write it here :)

    Yes we were reallyfocused around content and over time we adopted a lot of different tactics. Here are the most effective ones:

    1) Produce 10x content. It's super expensive both in terms of time and money but it's worth it and creates evergreen content. For every article we analyze the top 10 results in Google and aim to create a better blog post than all of them

    2) Keep the content fresh. Whenever one of our top performing articles gets outdated, we refresh it. Google love uptodate content.

    3) We hired a professional editor in chief coming from the printed media world to run the blog (@flagolosa) to keep the quality high and have a clear editorial line

    4) For each important blog post we try to have a matching lead magnet. We should do this more but we try to.

    5) We leverage AdEspresso data to make all our content data driven and unique. That's something no one else in the market can do and it's been critical for our success!

    • BB

      Bárbara Bonfim

      about 2 months ago #

      Thank you for your answer!

      It's amazing to see how you really put content at a very important spot of your strategy. I suppose you manage a way to engage people from others teams with your content production - suggesting ideas, with technical approval, even writing some things. Maybe @flagolosa can help with this one, but how did you manage to synch all those people and different activites?

      I'm really into content management and it'd be great to understand a bit more what successfull content teams have been doing.

  • NM

    Nick Marconato

    2 months ago #

    Max! Thank you so much for taking the time for this. A couple of questions about attribution, the “holy grail” of marketing. How strongly would you agree with the following statement “attributing credit to all sources of ad exposure is guess work”. And: what is your take/process/recommendation to a handle view through attribution for ecommerce sites. Thank you so much.

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Nick! OMG... attribution is likely each marketer's biggest headache.

      I totally agree with your sentence but I actually have no smart answer to your question. Actually I'd be curious to hear your recommendation :)

      I'm struggling with this problem right now, trying to understand the impact on the business of each traffic source and of top of the funnel activities like content marketing. Super challenging!

      3 Share
  • MM

    Marc Mekki

    2 months ago #

    Messenger Ads and Messaging as a target, either as a conversion or traffic ad, is relatively new. How would you rate this as a strategy, and any best practices or tips?

    • MC

      Massimo Chieruzzi

      about 2 months ago #

      Hey Marc, check above the other answer around Messenger Ads.

      Overall I'm bullish they'll work great, you'll need either a lot of time or very good bots (ManyChats is a great solution).

  • BB

    Bárbara Bonfim

    about 2 months ago #

    Hi Massimo!

    What a journey you got, huh? One achievement that really caught my eye was the impressive milestone of 700k visits/month! I assume it has something to do with an organizational culture evolving around content, right?

    Can you talk more about the tactics you and your team used?

    Thaaanks!

  • AG

    Abbas G

    about 2 months ago #

    What was that one thing you learnt during the aquisition

  • GS

    Gabe Solberg

    about 2 months ago #

    You mentioned the of tools 'interoperability through APIs is still far away' as a digital marketer always exploring new tools I have definitely found this to be true. Simultaneously I have also found tools offering features that pretty quickly become embedded within the native advertising platform. Now I think that the walled garden effect will always be present (I don't think Facebook, Google and Amazon will ever join hands) which means there will always be a need for API interoperability in the Martech world but at the same time platforms have a much faster iteration and rollout process than the past with ever improving features making many third-party platforms partially or fully obsolete. I guess this ties to your comment about needing to be the best as AI starts to kick into high gear. The question I have for you is: How do you keep Ad Espresso relevant as Facebook improves its advertising service?

    Secondly, I have a SaaS product that solves a very specific pain point for digital marketers (automating Facebook Ad tagging and mapping cost and session data in Google Analytics) and the idea came when I was experiencing this problem first hand and could not find an available solution. Given the saturation of content marketing these days what tactic would you recommend as the most effective growth hack in creating product awareness?

  • JS

    Jun Song

    about 1 month ago #

    Jun from StoryChief here just checking in to see if there are any follow-up questions or feedback I can assist with.

    We agree completely with your assessment of the Content Marketing arena. And we are hungry for information via user experience. We're all ears. So if there are StoryChief users among you, please don't hold back!

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