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Time for Marketing

Jun 2021

#39 - Lucy Dodds - How to Create a Comprehensive Guide Hub That Your Audience Cares About

Lucy is a content marketer and SEO and works at the great UK agency https://www.evolvedsearch.co.uk/. Lucy talked at Brighton SEO, the Best SEO and marketing conference around. (seriously guys, I can't make his more obvious, you need to invite me as a speaker to Brighton :D)


Content hubs are something that a lot of companies try to do, but also something that is somehow easy to fail at. Lucy has experience in building them and tells that in detail on how you can do it too. Done correctly, content hubs can be a great addition to your content and a big SEO asset.


Lucy: And then we try to see how we can categorize those in a way that makes sense because you'll result in hundreds, if not thousands, of question based keywords, which is really confused.

Peter: This is time for marketing the marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend

The marketing conference.

Peter: But before we go to the podcast, my name is Peter and I'm your host. I'm an NCO myself. I help internal and external teams and companies, start ups and agencies move their CEOs step forward. If you're looking for an SEO audit or help with your SEO strategy, find me at SEO as SY. Hello and welcome to the Time for Marketing podcast, the marketing podcast that brings you the best marketing conference speakers and makes them sum up their presentation in five minutes. My name is Peter, and I'll be your host today. This is episode number 39, and we're slowly approaching the 40 second episode. Well, you will get all the answers to all of your marketing questions, and then I'll probably stop. If you can get people that are interested into marketing. To listen to this podcast, send them the URL. Time for marketing dotcom. This is time and then the number four marketing dotcom. Or just tell them to Google. Time for marketing. We are having a great episode tonight with me on the podcast recording is Lucy Dodds. Lucy, how are you?

Lucy: I'm great, thanks. How are you?

Peter: I'm all right. How is life on the Big Island next to Europe that used to be Europe, but isn't anymore?

Lucy: It's OK. Lockdown is hopefully ending for us. Soon everyone's getting vaccinated. It's hopefully going to be a much better summer than it was last year.

Peter: All right. And of course, working on a marketing agency, everything is crazier. There is more money that is more work and everyone is buying online. Is that right?

Lucy: That is definitely right. I think we've felt the busyness. Very much so, especially in the last few months. But it's really good to see clients are able to grow up because of unfortunately, a lot of businesses have had some bad times because of COVID. So I'm really excited that people can take this opportunity to start growing their businesses and now things are getting going again. So it's a really good thing now.

Peter: You work at the evolved search, you're the senior content marketing consultant. What is what do we do?

Lucy: Yes. And so evolve. Search is based in Newcastle, upon Tyne, and we are a search agency that specialise in automotive, retail and finance clients. And my role as a content consultant is a mixture between creating the onsite side of content and doing consultancy for my clients on that, as well as creating content marketing campaigns for digital PR link building things like that. But it's mostly the onsite side that like.

Peter: Newcastle, is that a different Newcastle next to the Newcastle upon Tyne,

Lucy: As a Newcastle upon Tyne and further down the country as Newcastle under Lyme? I think there's a bit of a confusion on that, but we're not

Peter: Good, but you ought to do big city Newcastle. Ok. Yeah. What's your favourite at work when you do content marketing consulting?

Lucy: I think it's a bit of a cop out because this is what I did my talk on, but it's probably going to be guides just because I've been able to learn a lot about them in my time across a national career, and it's been just really good to see how they can get better, how they perform, learning a lot as I go and just getting them working for our clients.

Peter: Hmm. How much is your work as CEO and how much is content marketing and how much are those two the same?

Lucy: So I think that the most of the time I'd probably say 50 50 across clients in general. And just because I think all sites need a degree of link building to get some high quality, topical and relevant links. But you also need to see the on page content is working well for Google and users, and so it kind of depends on what the client really needs at the time. Well, I'd probably say half and half for the majority of my.

Peter: All right. Excellent. I've invited you to the podcast because of your presentation that you had at Brighton SEO, and the presentation was called How to create a Comprehensive Guide Hub that your audience cares about. How was Brighton SEO online conferences? It's getting boring, right?

Lucy: I don't want to say a bore, but yeah, I've been to the in-person one in September 2019 and it was just so, so good. And I did love the virtual ones still, because I did learn a lot from other people. It was great to do my first talk there, ever, but I am very, very excited for the future ones. I think summer one is in person and just fingers, fingers crossed that it's going to be on.

Peter: Would you say that you listened to more speeches when the conference in online than in the offline world because, you know, you only really can only listen to only one track and Brighton is now really already multiple track. And you know, there's a lot of other things that you can do during the speeches. How would you say, how does that work out?

Lucy: Yeah. So the past that I had for the virtual conference meant I could access everything, and I did watch a lot more just because it wouldn't be possible at the in-person conference. So I guess it would be great if in future things were all recorded. I think probably the way that COVID has happened, there probably will be. And just in general across any conference, just because it makes it a lot more accessible, I could learn a lot more. So, yeah, I think I did definitely see a lot more. But it'd be nice to just have access to both sides.

Peter: Hmm. Hmm. Or a podcast that has everything submitted in a short time. Very good idea. All right, Lizzy, let's not beat around the bush. Let's go into your presentation. Here are your five minutes.

Lucy: Bob, thanks. Ok, so when I first started my career in SEO, I was in house doing on site only when I moved my first agency, it was the same. Anything on page was for me. I didn't even think about link building until like two years ago when I started involved. And just because I'd worked with separate teams and I had no involvement. So when I joined involved, I felt like I had a lot of untapped knowledge, and I really want to share that with the team and build on what we already had. So I think my first job to do what evolved for a client was building a guy to help. And I was like, Cool, this is what I know. And I think all the time, I've just learned so much more about them. I've got so much advice and inspiration from all our SEO experts in the Evolve team instead of just me doing the research. And now I've been able to create really great guide hooks for all my automotive retail clients and finance as well. And now that I've been able to see how those perform in a. Great setting with all of our expert team members. That's kind of why it made me want to do this talk. So that's why I chose this guide content as my topic for right now. It's a I think it will be very successful, but I see a lot of sites don't have this, so they have a gap in their content, which is going to be off putting for a lot of users.

Lucy: So because like any service or product buying online, I'm going to be researching it in some way. And I think that every site needs these guides to some degree, as user research is going to be behind every decision. So there's more obvious decisions like getting a credit card or choosing a car online. They need a lot of research. But even things like how to grow my cactus in my home office or say there's like a new style of dress that's on trend. I'm quite tall, so maybe I need advice on how to wear it. Will it suit at all person and so on? So no matter what your site or your product your service is, I think everyone could do with having some kind of level of guide content in an easy, accessible hub. Just because then you're helping users with that research. And while I found the guides that don't result in direct conversions, but that makes sense because users are still doing that research, they're not going to be buying right now. But I found that these guides do convert two times more than blocks and for one client, made up to 200 200k in assisted revenue. So they are just a step basically in the users buying process, but you really want to be part of that before your competitor does. And I think because so many sites don't do this or don't do it well, it's such an opportunity because like you can say, if I just pick a question and I'm going to look at it in the search and what's displayed already, sometimes it can be really rubbish.

Lucy: So you can you can really take that opportunity for your own site and do really well. So the first part of my talk was just explaining that part of why I think everyone should have them. And then I started into some keyword research to look for all of those questions that users are asking about the product or the service that my client's site will provide. So any implied questions I was looking at like pros and cons, for example, of, say, a credit card, that's still a question because someone's asking what was the benefit of a credit card? We have any user research like customer inquiry date, if people are constantly calling and emailing with questions like we should fulfill that online and then we try see how we can categorize those in a way that makes sense because you'll result in hundreds, if not thousands, of question based keywords, which is really confusing to look at just a giant list. So one way I think I gave in the talk was you would organize them by your product offering. I think my example was a website called Wix, who have their guides categorized by kitchens, gardens and bathrooms. And that's how you'd sell your keywords as well. In the same way, because, you know, users are going to be either looking to redo their kitchen or they're looking to get some new things for the garden. So you consult your guides in a way that users would want to see them on your site.

Lucy: Although I guess it would be kind of different depending on whoever the client is, but in general, that's a way that's worked for me or any e-commerce client. And then after I went into some practical tips on how to create guides, so best of all, I was looking at title text and descriptions. Often, if you just type in that keyword question, you will see that the title tags are always the same, so we need to make sure they stand out. I also check competitors formats. That's another thing that you must do when you're creating your guides. So if someone's doing a listicle or someone's got a really long form guide that's really detailed and then make sure that you should be replicating that as well, but not copying. You should also forget word count. I think that people get really hung up on word count, but I just never copy this. Just make sure that you provide the information that's the most relevant and accurate to whatever you're trying to tell your user. You don't need to have loads and loads of words to explain some things. And even that will be dependent on what they're asking in the first place. Maybe something on credit cards will need a lot of detail, but perhaps styling address might not need so much. My next part is unique, a show of some unique expertise. The guide content that does do well, sometimes if you read to the surface and competitors will have content that is kind of saying the same answer. So if you want to be the best, you show your original expertise that your client would have or you will have if you are the site owner.

Lucy: And so that's kind of things like having all the bills with good descriptions to show who you are or that you really have the credentials to see what being said. And even if you aren't talking out about like a really serious way and while your money or your life topic, then that's OK because your personal interest is going to be still more important than, like the average person would have the next part. I look for featured snippets. Now, otherwise, I don't copy. But in this case, I do have a look at what the current featured snippet is. So these kind of things, when I type a question into Google, I'm going to see the snippets either a paragraph, a bullet point list, the numbered list, whatever it is, and I replicate the past by looking at the source code of the current snippet. So I'm going to look at it, see if they've got see H2S and then bullet points that I'm going to do the same. So my question will be in the H2 and then I'll have the bullet point as well. My next part was for internal link opportunities. It's only really unsophisticated, but a lot of people don't have access to tools like refs to find internal link opportunities. So I just do like I Google my brand and I'm working on and say a word that is related to the guide that I'm talking about, or you can do a site search for the same thing.

Lucy: So say, if I was doing a mattress cleaning guide, I could just type say my kindness mattress online, do a site, search for mattress online and then type clean after. And I say all the articles that I might be able to link to. And then my final tip was just to take time with guides. And so in my SEO talk, I did have a site and I had sorry. I had two sisters who are in a similar space and have very similar guide hooks and one has. Great backlinks. It's a more of a trusted brand, and people know who they are, the website's more technically sound, but the sessions are very low on their guide hope. And then another site that I work on that isn't very trusted doesn't have many links. People don't know about that brand yet. Their guide hook is. It has a lot more sessions, and I think it was something like five times more sessions as what I said in my talk, I'm pretty sure that's still right here. And the problem is, is the first site kind of a rush, their content, they've been like, they've been hastily produced. There's a lot of different writers and it's not very original content. Well, the other site is put like a lot of effort and a lot of detail into them. So I think just take your time with guides and eventually the results will pay off. If you can get them right. And I think that's it. Yeah, I think that's everything.

Peter: Yeah, that was very in-depth. A couple of questions for those people who are not. What is going to happen, what exactly. When you say a guide, what how do you see them? What is it?

Lucy: Yes, a couple of clients, I'll ask this as well just about like what the difference is between guides and blogs and is it not just the content yet? So I'll say the best way to describe guides is for users who are at an awareness stage. So they are aware of your product or service and they're thinking about getting it. Well, they need a little bit more information before making that decision. So say, if my client was selling credit cards and then I might need, you know, like what is interest? What is a credit card, how do they work? All those kind of questions that I find through keyword research. I need to be answering to give the user that kind of trust in me, that I'm not just trying to sell them this serious financial product. I'm actually going to help them make a decision that will benefit them.

Peter: Okay. Ok. Yeah, that sounds a great definition. When I see the guide hubs, I see that often companies think about going to a different CMS or a different system to show the content on the web page. Sometimes I don't know if nothing else they'll use like their support system like Zendesk has something to show up to show guide. Do you think that's a good idea? Should they should? Should people use a specific system that is very good for the hubs or should they just use what they have and make the best of it?

Lucy: I would honestly say whatever's easiest and best for that client. I do have clients that have separate hubs just on WordPress and separate to the main CMS. And it does make it easier, I think, just for organizing and finding content and creating it, especially if you have a large company with a lot of content writers and if they're in various parts of the website, then it makes it easier for them. So it's better for scaling. It's also better for like if you've got a smaller team and say there's only one developer, but only this one developer can offload content or something, then it makes it easy if you don't have to kind of get them to use that time, because I think that WordPress get really easy to use after a while. So, yeah, so I guess just whatever's going to be easiest for you. But yeah, it just depends on the site, I guess.

Peter: Ok. Ok. And one more thing you mentioned. People should look at their competition and see what kind of style does the competition have? When do you think we should replicate the style and when should we go in a different direction? I know it depends on how good the competition is, but still, sometimes I think that CEOs and content marketers now are just, you know, re republishing or making stuff to look as good as similar to the competition as possible. But I feel that that's not a good guide on how to do it. What's your opinion on that?

Lucy: No, no. I definitely agree that we shouldn't just copy what's out there. I think the best way for me is I see what's in the top 10 results in the search and see what they kind of have and just try to understand why that might be performing if it is a certain format or not. So I think say if I'm going to use credit card again, like I know that that's an important topic that's going to need a lot of detail. So I already would expect there to be some pretty long guides about this topic. Well, if it's going to be something which like I don't expect people to be doing some really deep research into, then I might go what I think was what I think instead and make it like less so. And because I agree that my that's more digestible than really big wall of text. So I guess it depends on what your product or service is. You could always test it. And if it doesn't work out, then you might have to go back to what other people are doing. But I guess Google has chosen those results for a reason. And if we think that, yeah, actually it needs to be a bit longer and more detailed, it's probably for a reason. So I would just always test it and see what happens.

Peter: Hmm. Hmm. All right. Excellent. I think we gave people a very good idea on how their content hubs should be structured, prepared keyword research and how the content should be published. Lucy, if people want to talk to you about market or content marketing, where can they find you?

Lucy: I would absolutely love people to do that so they can find me on Twitter. It's just my name, which is Lucy, Alice Dodds, and you can email me as well, if you like, which is Lucy at Evolved Search scored at UK.

Peter: All right. Excellent. Lucy, thank you very much for being on the podcast and taking the time out to sum up your presentation, I hope that we can go and have conferences in real life very soon.

Lucy: Most definitely, and thank you very much for having me. This is my first podcast, so it's great to be here. Thank you very much.

Peter: I'm very glad that you were here. Thank you and have a great day.

Lucy: You too.

Bye bye. I know.



May 2021

#38 Lars Maat - How Messengerbots will make you more money

This time with Lars, the CEO of the advertising agency Maatwerk Online about how you should be using Chat or Messenger Bots to get more traffic and more sales on your website, or even more leads if this is what you aim for. You can find Lars on Twitter.

Don't forget to subscribe and rate this podcast on your favorite podcast app.

Here is the transcript of the podcast:

My name is Peter, and this is podcast episode number 38. If you can, go and comment, go and rate this podcast on the podcast app wherever you listen to us, and tell your friends that this is the place where they can get the best info on what is going on in marketing conferences, even if people are not able to go to the conference, every presentation in five minutes. Today, we are going to the Netherlands, where I'm very glad to welcome Lars.

Lars: Hi, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Peter: Lars Maat, thank you for being here. You are the rising star in PPC. At least a PPC Hero said that. You are the owner of the Maatwerk agency. What do you do in the agency, and what are your things? What's your favorite thing on the internet?

Lars: To be honest, the rising star was back in 2020. It already feels like a light year ago.


Lars: Yes, that's true. PPC Hero made me a rising star in the PPC business. I think mainly because that year I spoke at PPC Hero Conf in London. I was announced best speaker of the conference. I think that gave it a boost, but, yes, my name is Lars. I'm currently owning online marketing AC. My background is really purely PPC. Google ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, Microsoft ads, stuff like that. At the moment, at the AC we are with 30 people. We are doing online marketing from A to Z. Basically, the only thing we don't do is build apps.

We build websites, webshops, we do SEO and PPC, of course. I'm focusing on developing the business at the moment, try to implement new things. Innovations in our industry are a weekly thing as you might know. [chuckles] We try to keep up and then make sure that everything is set in place for our clients.

Peter: You are one of those people who likes a lot of stress every day because advertising campaigns fail all the time and the algorithms change, and the number is going the wrong way. Do you enjoy that?

Lars: Let's just say there's never a dull moment in an online marketing agency.

Peter: [chuckles] See, this is why I like to do SEO. It's everything a bit more-- We have a couple of months to do stuff. In advertising, it's hours.

Lars: To be honest, sometimes I'm really jealous of my SEO colleagues because, let's say, we are having a call with a client and a client is a little bit stressed about something, for example. We know if something goes wrong in a PPC account, you have to fix it right away. If something goes wrong on the SEO stuff, you just pick it up in one week or two weeks. It doesn't matter because you got the time. Yes, sometimes I'm a little bit jealous about the fact that I started to learn the wrong business.

Peter: [chuckles] I know, but on the other hand, your business is the sexy thing in marketing, I think, for the last 10 years. SEO is somewhere not really the public favorite.

Lars: Yes. I can understand. To be honest, we went to New York, we went to San Jose, California, on an invitation from Google, and my SEO colleagues are all jealous of me, so--

Peter: [chuckles] My wife is actually an advertiser. We've met in an agency where I was the SEO. She was the advertiser. It's very obvious in our personalities and things, how we see the world and everything, how we are very different. Lars, I've invited you to the podcast because you spoke at BrightonSEO. It was a bit different Brighton as we know it from the past, how did you enjoy the online version of Brighton this year?

Lars: To be honest, this was my first BrightonSEO conference. I've spoken to a lot of speakers and colleagues who went to previous versions. I was invited for this one. I was really excited because, from what I've heard,Brighton is really a nice environment to be at, let's just say to go to the tops. Yes, it was an online version, of course. My presentation was about Messenger bots, so not really an SEO thing. I was really curious about how that presentation would be received by the audience, but yes, it was pretty nice, actually. It was a good first experience with BrightonSEO.

Peter: Brighton, a couple of years ago, started to move away from- it still has, from my opinion, the best technical in-depth SEO presentations, but the other advertising and other tracks are also being very developed, better and better, and BrightonSEO is now a Brighton conference, not an SEO conference, but yes, departs from the pier, the best.

Lars: Yes, so I've heard. [chuckles]

Peter: All right. Let's not beat around the bush. Let's go and check out your five minutes with your presentation on how Messenger bots will make you more money.

Lars: Yes. I'm going to try to do this in five minutes.


The presentation in Brighton was in 20 minutes and I had to rush that as well, but let me just start with telling you how Messenger bots work, what they are, and stuff like that. Messenger bots are basically a way to automate your Facebook Messenger chats. Normally, when you are advertising on Facebook, people will see an ad. They can click on it and then a lead form will pop up, or you will be redirected to the website, to a landing page, where you can leave your telephone number and stuff like that, in order to get some information from the advertiser. With Facebook Messenger, it's possible to send people to the business page and to start chatting with those people.

Of course, that's fully automated. You can use it to generate leads or you can make appointments right away in a Messenger chat, and the beauty of this is that it works really well. It's fast. People have the feeling that they are texting with somebody, or a company, but because of the fact that it's texting, it sounds like texting, people feel the need to react immediately. It's a really quick way to get in touch with your audience. The reason why I started to use Messenger is because of the fact that I think it's a really good platform, but also Facebook is really pushing Messenger. They are integrating Messenger with WhatsApp and Instagram as we speak.

I really think that Messenger bots will be bigger and bigger. At the moment, they are releasing it as well on WhatsApp and Instagram. Yes, it's a pretty good thing at the moment. At BrightonSEO, I talked about small step-by-step guides for building Messenger bots. I think it's a good idea to name that here as well. The first step is, obviously, you decide what you want to accomplish with your Messenger bot. You don't need to make a bot just because I'm telling you. [chuckles] You really need a good idea or you need a problem that you think you can solve with Messenger bots. The second step is to draw your, let's say, dream conversation on a paper.

We called it a flow. Let's say you have to write down, "Okay. What do I want the bot to say to the audience, and what are the answers that I need from the audience in order to get all the information that you need?" As soon you have drawn that on a paper, you can start building that flow in a Messenger bot tool. There are numerous tools you could use. I'm a fan of ManyChat. ManyChat is one of the biggest tools out there for Messenger bots. MobileMonkey, Chatfuel are also some big names. Then I think the most important step. Once you have decided what you want to use in your flow, and you've built a flow, you really need to test it.

I see a lot of Messenger bots not working very well. I think mainly because people forget to test it. Testing the bot is really important. Once you've tested, you can start to promote your Messenger bot and start getting those results. Two ways in order to promote the bot. There are more ways obviously, but the two I think are the most popular. Advertise with it. Let the audience see an ad, and once they click on it, the chat will open. Another one, and this is also one of my favorites, it's keyword-based. You can put a post on your Facebook page, it could be an ad. It could be an organic post. As soon as somebody reacts to that, so with the Facebook comment, a chat will open and you can continue to conversate with those people in the chat. That's also a really good way to promote your Messenger bots. I think that is what Messenger bots are in a nutshell. Of course, I talked a lot about some rules which apply to Messenger bot, like the 24-hour messaging rule. I really advise to look into that. I gave some tips how to be successful with Messenger bots. I could name them pretty quick right now.

You need to be conversational. You need to make sure to interact with the audience. You need to automate as much as possible. I really love the tool- how to pronounce it right, still not sure whether it's Zapier or Zapier or Zapier, but I think the majority of the marketing audience will note it too. It's a really nice tool to automate. Feed your CRM system. Get those telephone numbers. Get those email addresses from your target audience. Get those sales, basically. Was that in five minutes or--?

Peter: Tell us a bit less, but that's great. I have questions. Can you give us an example of what is the best thing that you can set up if you have e-commerce shop? People should be able to check out where their packages, so tracking, or should that be selling, or--?

Lars: It could be both. There are some possibilities in which you, let's say, do the track and trace for your package. There's also a thing called "one-time notification." For example, you visit a website and you see a product that you like, but it's out of stock at the moment. You could tell the Facebook Messenger page, "Hey, send me a notification once this product gets online again." As soon as that's the case the, the page could send a message to you saying, "Hey, Peter, as requested, the product you were looking for is back online. Do you want to purchase it right away with a call to action, to go through website and a product page right away?

There are some possibilities. You could also work with abandoned carts. I know that, for example, we work with ManyChat, and I know that ManyChat has an integration with Shopify, for example. There are some numerous possibilities. The only thing that's really bugging me at the moment and a lot of Messenger bot builders are the rules on Facebook.

Peter: Yes, that you are only able to send a message if, in the last 24 hours, the person gave you the okay to send messages.

Lars: Yes, that's correct. Also, I think it was in December, 2020, yes, December, 2020, they announced some new rules. According to Facebook, it was about privacy rules, but it really didn't make much sense. We had to rebuild all our bots, and then, I think it was in the end of January or February 2021, they pushed back the rules, so we could rebuild, rebuilding our bots again. That's the power of the big company.

Peter: When talking about selling on the Facebook Messenger, how important is it that you have your webshop connected with the Messenger bot? You already mentioned that ManyChat connects to Shopify, but if I have my own CMS, I know that's generally not the best idea, but should I look into Messenger bots if I know that I cannot able to connect my webshop with them or not?

Lars: I think it's tricky. If you have your own CMS system, it's really difficult to degenerate sales in an automated way with Messenger bots. I think Messenger bots could work as well for you, but probably in a different way. Let's say, use it to get some traffic to your shop, use it to generate email addresses, which you could use for email automation, stuff like that. Otherwise, I think it's really difficult to connect a Messenger bot with your own CMS system.

Peter: Okay. On the other hand, when we talk about bots, there are others next to the Facebook Messenger. For example, HubSpot is very big with pushing their own. Do you have any experience with them, and comparing them with Facebook Messenger, which one's better? Why?

Lars: Yes, there are a lot of chat possibilities, of course. The big e-commerce sites are building their own chatbots as well. I think it's not new, but it's not that embraced by the audience at the moment. I think there will be a lot of developments ongoing for the next months and even years on chatbots. I haven't had some experience with the HubSpot bots, for example. The reason that we are purely focusing on Messenger bots at the moment is because of the integration with Facebook. When we are using the Messenger bots on Facebook, we could get all the name, the profile location, and stuff like that, the telephone number, email address, through the Facebook API, which basically means that, as soon as you send a message to my page, my page could reply with, "Hi, Peter. Is it true that this is your email address?" You basically just have to tap the email address that the Messenger bot is showing because it pulled it out of your Facebook profile in the Facebook API.

That's really good benefit for using Facebook Messenger, but it makes sense. Let's say that the popularity of Facebook will decline even more, I could say. That would have some impact on Messenger bots, of course.

Peter: We'll see that in the future what happens with that. I think that's it. We're on our 15-minute mark. Lars, where can people find you if they would like to talk about Facebook Messengers or any other marketing on the internet?

Lars: I think Twitter is the best way to go forward. My Twitter [unintelligible 00:16:25] my name, Lars Maat. I think it will be also available in the comments and stuff like that on [unintelligible 00:16:33] will be shown.

Peter: True. Lars, thank you very much for being on the podcast and talking about Facebook Messenger.

Lars: Yes, thanks for having me.

Peter: Have a great day and go enjoy-

Lars: The bad weather? [laughs]

Peter: -the bad weather. Thank you. Bye-bye.

Lars: Thank you for your time. Bye-bye.

May 2021

#37 Lea Scudamore - Digital Accessibility and Compliance Essential for users, good 4 SEO

Another presentation from the Brighton SEO conference on a topic that is really new, but important for every website owner. Website accessibility is a hot topic because lawmakers all around the world are writing laws that require you to make your website accessible to people with different disabilities. Luckily, a lot of the things that you have to do will have a positive impact on your SEO.

Lea is an SEO expert and understands the link between those two. You can find her on Linkedin, Twitter or on the company website.

Here is the transcript of the recording:

Hello, and welcome to the Time for Marketing podcast, the podcast that brings you the best marketing conference speakers and makes them sum up their presentation in five minutes. My name is Peter, and I'll be your podcast's host. This is episode number 37, and if this is your first time you're listening, please go back in the library and find the excellent guests that we had in the past, that I had in the past. There's some gold in there, because I try to find people who have evergreen content. There are excellent episodes back there. If you have other people that you can promote the podcast to, I'll be glad if you do that. I'm very glad that I have today's guest on the podcast. Lea, hello, and welcome to the podcast.

Lea: Hi, thanks for having me.

Peter: How is Lake Superior?

Lea: It's gorgeous, as always, deep blue and angry. [laughs]

Peter: Me and Lea, we talked before, and I'm very intrigued by the name of the lake at which she has the office. She was kind enough to show the lake view from her office. Lea, you are the SEO analyst at Aimclear in Minnesota US. What are you as a company, and what do you do there?

Lea: We are a digital agency company, award-winning. We love our US search awards. We do everything from web development to paid and, of course, SEO, like I do. Then also with SEO, we roll in accessibility and work between the teams to make sure that we're checking things like contrast and all text and all the things from the ad side to the web dev side.

Peter: For you personally, why SEO?

Lea: SEO I fell in love with almost 20 years ago. I worked for a company that built websites for dealerships that sold power sports. I just really fell in love with the idea of helping those small business owners get found and sell product. When I figured out how to move the needle, it was really exciting. Then I started leading a team, and that's what we did. Then after that Aimclear was the next big challenge because I wanted to see what else I could do, so applied it and here I am.

Peter: What do you do in Aimclear? What are the things that you do daily, and what are your favorite things to do?

Lea: I do SEO. SEO. [laughs] I also work with accessibility to make sure that the stuff we put out is accessible to as many people as we can. That's what I spend most of my day doing. I really love it when we have a site that is not performing come in, and I get to take it by the reins and make it show up and help meet goals, sell stuff, find dealers, or find leads, and that sort of thing.

Peter: Excellent. I invited you to the podcast because you had a presentation at Brighton SEO, probably my favorite marketing conference. The presentation was called Digital Accessibility and Compliance: Essential for Users and Good for SEO. Why accessibility?

Lea: Why have I chosen to go down the accessibility route?

Peter: Yes.

Lea: Oh. Short story is, I had a really good friend that was diagnosed with ALS which is a neurodegenerative disorder that takes your ability to speak and use your arms and things like that. It's horrible. While we were helping her sell her house and move her mom into assisted living and then help her find a place to live, she'd stopped communicating with us. It was because things like Facebook's Messenger doesn't rotate, and things like, Twitter doesn't rotate. She couldn't communicate back and forth in the text messages the way we used to do it.

I was really frustrated when I wasn't being communicated back to, and I was trying to help her with things, and then realize that it wasn't her, it was the software, or it was the phone, or whatever. For whatever reason, once it was mounted on her wheelchair and it was mounted at horizontal so that the fonts were big enough to read, literally things wouldn't rotate. That was the starting point. Then, from there, I realized how important SEO actually is to accessibility and how they are siblings. They're brother and sister, and you need one for the other, and vice versa.

Peter: A lot of basics SEO stuff is actually also a lot of basic accessibility stuff, right?

Lea: Yes. If you actually look at core web vitals, it's accessibility. If you go through the pieces of core web vitals and what they're asking us to do and how search console is notifying us, "Hey, this is too close together." These are accessibility elements right at their core. Google might call it something different, but that's what it is, and you can see it.

Peter: Lea's presentation is going to get you to be in line with your local laws. It's going to help more people see you. It's going to help you be in line with Google. It's going to help you with web vitals and all of the updates that come. Whatever Lea says, has to be gold for you.

Lea: I just want to open everybody's eyes because a lot SEOs thinks the elements aren't as important as they really, really are.

Peter: With no further ado, here are your five minutes.

Lea: My main goal is to change the perception so that SEOs and developers and designers and content creators start thinking that accessibility is about people, because a lot of times we get hung up on- they're not our customers, and that's not the truth, they have wallets, so they're your customers. We need to make sure that we're thinking about accessibility because if we're States side, we're talking about one in five people need accessibility when they're using the web. If you talking about the UK side, we're talking about 22%, which is a little bit more. There's one in five people need your site or need your app to be accessible, so that they can use it easily.

Accessibility is really important because it bridges the gaps between physical disability like location, but also socioeconomic status, education, language, gender, and so many more things they can-- The list is endless. Accessibility, it focuses on people with disabilities or that have a disability, but it greatly benefits everybody around us, including our aging parents. It's really important that everybody thinks about accessibility as empowering users to use your stuff. Use your app, use your website.

When we go through, and we talk about accessibility, and everybody's working to get their website to revolve around core web vitals and getting your site up to speed and making it fast and nimble, without considering accessibility, you're ignoring 10% to 15% of the global population, and in an age when we're all responsible for making money or hitting that bottom line, why would you just automatically cut off that many people? It doesn't make any sense. Since we're all in the process of meeting the core web vitals, and making sure that we don't miss any of those potential sales, because we're not ranking well, it's the same thing as working accessibility into your websites.

There's basically five things to look at. If you haven't started a web accessibility site or information on your site, start by making yourself an accessibility statement and just owning up to the fact that you haven't gotten there. Make sure that you do some tests. Just try tabbing through your website and make sure you can do all the things on your website, like make a purchase, contact fuzz form, things like that. Whatever the main goals of your site or app are, see if you can do it with just having. Then, when you get down into that stuff, go use your site on your mobile.

A lot of people test, test, test on their desktop, but they don't actually take their site outside and see if it's really easy to see during a sunny day, or make sure that everything's easy to click on and nothing's too small, or nothing like a pop-up as the X isn't off the screen. There's little things like that you can do. Probably the biggest thing is having people with disabilities at your table when you're making the plan. That is the biggest thing I need to advocate for because we as a group, SEOs, we don't know all the things that actually need to be done, and having people that need the assistive technology or need these elements put in place, having them at the table during the planning stage is imperative.

Peter: That's it. Excellent.

Lea: That's it. That's the big one. Those are the big things.

Peter: How do we get people to our table, people that can tell us how they practically are using our website? I get the idea. You've done this a couple of times. What's the most practical way to do it?

Lea: It literally depends on what your budget is. [laughs] As everything, right? You can hire within, hire people within to do testing and to work on your dev team, or work in your SEO team, you can do that. There are resources out there, there are companies out there that they have testing available, and it's beyond the computer. Anything that gives you a badge just because a computer tested it, said you're good to go, even the WAVE tool, which is created by the W3C, which is leading the charge and accessibility.

Even if you have that, those badges really don't do anything if they don't have individual people testing in the background. Look into companies that offer accessibility testing with live humans that are going to go through your site. That'd be beautiful.

Peter: When should we involve them? Should that be when we start thinking about new web page, when we start developing it, or graphics, wireframes? What is the best time to do that?

Lea: Right at the beginning, because they're going to have tips for you to help you get started on the right foot, because you can go through the whole website and build it all out, and every website goes over timeline. It just does. There's always something like, "Oh, we forgot to tell you we needed a whole blog system," or, "Oh, we forgot this," or, "Oh, you know what? We really, really want it." We get those comments after things are already built, right? I can see you. Every SEO or dev person right now is calm faced, right? They all have had that experience.

Having them at the beginning is really important because retrofitting rarely works. It gets really expensive, and at the end of the day, you most of the time end up scrapping the whole thing and starting over. Yes, start planning from the beginning and test, test, test all the way through.

Peter: I feel that if I want to have a very accessible web page, I have to put aside all of the great ideas that my developer had, how we're going to have a unique website. I have to have the F structure and everything has to be squared, and colors have to be four different. How do you answer that?

Lea: I'm not a dev, I'm definitely an SEO. I can read enough code to be dangerous and a lot of times be like, "It's broken somewhere right here." Our designers, they think about accessibility and color right from the beginning. When I see a design idea or the first mock-up, that's the first thing out of my mouth is, "Is it accessible, are all the contrasts?" Then I'll look at the colors and we'll test them because the math.

A really good tip right off the bat is go look at your website. If you have gray font on a white background, people that have glasses have a hard time reading that on their mobile phone. Skipping gray font, gray font is font spam, and it isn't a good experience for anybody. Black is best. If you're doing a black background, white font is best. Make sure that that contrast is there so that it's very easy to read. From the beginning onward, you can still do really beautiful sites. Our designers and developers are doing really beautiful sites that are accessible, because we're starting at the beginning.

Peter: Okay. Yes, probably start at the beginning is the same way. Linking accessibility to SEO. How does that work?

Lea: Okay. Accessibility when you go through the W3's website. The W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium, right? They have the w3.org/wai. WAI, it stands for Web Accessibility Initiative. That part of the website takes you through everything. Accessibility is related to alt text, because if you have really great alt text that actually explains the image or the reason for the image, that also helps with search. We know that. We know that if you do alt text that images help. We know that Google is moving more and more and more towards image in the SERPs.

Because we're doing more and more images in the SERPs, we need to make sure that those images are relevant to the content. You can do beautiful design elements, but then we just mark them as an alt. The things that would rank it would be make sense and ask yourself, "Are my users searching an image search for this content or for this information?" Then make sure that your alt text is relevant to what they were likely searching. That's one.

Accessibility relates to SEO through headlines. A lot of people, there's a lot of websites out there, where they think that H1 is just to make big, pretty font, and so there's multiple H1s on the homepage. abc.go, the ABC News station's website, that entire homepage is nothing but H1s because it's just--

Peter: It's good for SEO.

Lea: It's not. [laughs] It's not. It's really horrible for people that are going through and doing the use kit. My computer, I have set up to go headline to headline. People using their keyboard to navigate versus a mouse, because, say, they have low vision or no vision, then they will do Ctrl and H for next headline and they will pop through and listen to the headlines to get to the story they want to listen to or read. Those headlines, if they're in improper order, they're sending people all over. It doesn't make any sense and they're going to bounce off your site.

Again, remember, it's one in five, need accessibility. You're really limiting the number of people to your site. Those are just a couple of the ways that it is related, but they're pretty big ways.

Peter: Very important. I'm really happy when I get people talk about things that I haven't really thought about, talked about.

Lea: Thought about? Yes.

Peter: Yes, that word. Getting something new to the podcast is great. Lea, thank you very much for that. If people want to talk to you about accessibility or SEO, where can they find you?

Lea: You can hop onto aimclear.com and reach out through the Contact Us form and they'll connect us. That's probably the easiest way. Otherwise, you can find me on Twitter, Lea Scudamore. Just no H on Lea, it's just L-E-A. Three letters, really easy.

Peter: I'll add that into the show notes so people can find you there.

Lea: Yes, so you can find me there, too.

Peter: All right, excellent. Lea, thank you very much. Do you ever go and swim in the Lake Superior, and does that make you superior?

Lea: It doesn't make me superior, but it is a great time.

Peter: I'll do that once.

Lea: Yes, please. Please come. Please come to Duluth and come hang out at the lake with us. Come in mid-to-late June, beginning of July, because we're still talking snow here right now.

Peter: See, this is why I was yesterday at the Croatian seaside where we had 20 degrees Celsius. We were almost able to go to the sea, but in shorts and stuff. This is why we go to Croatia. Croatia is great. We're just rambling, I'm rambling. Lea, thank you very much to be in the podcast. Have a great Monday.

Lea: You, too. Thank you so much.

Peter: Bye-bye.

Lea: Bye.

May 2021

#36 - Max Woelfle - The Truth is in the Logs

This episode talks about how you analyze your website logs, which tools to use, and what to look at. Max is an expert in them and tells you how he uses logs to better understand how to get your webpage crawled and indexed.

Max is the Marketing Lead at https://www.comparis.ch/  a website that helps people in Switzerland manage their money better and brings excellent practical examples from his work to the podcast.

Apr 2021

#35 - Deasy Natalia Mulaniari - Prove your SEO ROI

Deasy Natalia Mulaniari spoke at the SEO CON 2021 on the topic on how to prove ROI for an SEO campaign from an SEO agency point of view.

Natalia (her LinkedIn) is the General Manager at BLUWave.ID, an SEO agency in Jakarta and has extensive experience in SEO.

Here is her presentation:

Mar 2021

#34 - Michał Suski - Data driven content strategy for any business that Google will love

We are back and with a bang. Conferences are back, even if they are online only. I've chosen Michal to talk to because the topic is extremely important in SEO and SEO is extremely important for your business.

Michal will speak at the SEOCON 2021 that will take place in March 2021. Listen to the 4 key points that he prepared and check out his presentation at the conference!

Michał is the co-founder of https://surferseo.com/, you can find him on LinkedIn.

Here is the transcript of the podcast recording:

Hello, and welcome to the Time4Marketing podcast, the podcast that brings you the best marketing conference speakers sum up their presentations at the podcast and gives them to you in a short time slot. My name is Peter, and we are back. It's been almost a day, almost exactly to the day of the recording of this podcast since we've stopped doing the podcast in 2020 March, while it was the time where all the conferences were more or less canceled and there was nothing for us to report on.

I've waited. The pause was a bit longer than I anticipated. I thought they we're going to wait for a couple of months, but this is something that we can say for the whole Corona time that's a bit longer than we anticipated. We are back and coming back with a big bang. I'm very glad that we have Michal Suski here with us today, Michal from Surfer SEO or Surfer SEO tool that Michal is going to tell us all about. Michal, hello, and welcome to the podcast.

Michal: Hello, everyone. Thanks for having me. That's a big pleasure for me to be on the restart of the podcast, the first guest interview. That's a huge thing for me. I'm happy to be here.

Peter: You're very, very welcome. It's great that conferences have come back. I know that in the last year, we had conferences but we had to unlearn on how to be physically at conferences and learn to how to be online on conferences. You spoke in a couple of conferences in the last year. How is your feeling about how did going to the conference change? Is it better? Is it different? What do you feel?

Michal: It is definitely different. Well, I like it but I also don't like that we cannot meet in person and do those long hours of discussions after the stage is empty. I miss that part a lot. However, regarding the online conferences, there is this big impact on presentations quality, I think, because everyone goes to the conference now, I mean goes to the conference to get the best information out of the stage. Speakers have to push their limits to deliver the best piece of information they can. I feel like it's beneficial to the whole industry that now, everyone concentrates 100% on the presentation itself. The bar is raised a little bit. That's cool about it.

Peter: That is less fluff. The audio should be the most important part and because of that, the message must be clearer. Of course, as we used to say, after 10:00 PM at the bars, the best Lynx were sold. Probably, this is what we're missing on.

Michal: That's true. The networking part of the conferences, in the past, it was the biggest incentive for me to go for the conference to do the networking, to meet people and make those deals you mentioned. Right now, I'm missing it a lot.

Peter: I would agree. You're located in Poland. How is Poland? Are you allowed to go out? Are you allowed to able to go for a beer outside?

Michal: Yes. It's not that bad. We can go out. We can walk to the park, do hiking, and so on. However, we cannot go to the bar and have a beer. The bars are closed, and it's only delivery. You got to have a meal but you have to have it at home, which well, that's fine but better than nothing.

Peter: That's how most of the Europe or most of the world is working right now. Michal, you are the co-founder at Surfer. Tell us a bit about what Surfer is, what it does.

Michal: Sure. Surfer is a content intelligence tool. It takes you from execution and ideation. It streamlines the whole process of content creation and stretching your domain in the right direction so Google can really treat you as an expert in specific industry. The combination of tools that we have is made just for that. You can do the ideation process and then execute the content creation with the SEO-friendly approach in place. That's what we do.

Peter: It seems that there was a shift in the way how SEO is done in the last couple of years from the backlinking, to the on-site, to the specific on-site. How do you see that and how Surfer fits into that?

Michal: During the last couple of years, it turned out that Google really pays attention to putting the best answer to the query they can. This way, they have to evaluate the content much better than they used to do in the past. This is probably why on-page optimization has bigger impact than it used to have 10 years ago. That's definitely a major change and especially because Google invested tons of money into, for example, NLP with the BERT update and so on.

They just keep on learning how to understand the content much better, and this is why the content just has to be pinpoint when you want to really not only rank, but maintain rankings. This is pretty, pretty important these days. I feel like Surfer hit the nail in the head regarding the date of premiere of the tool, and the early stage drove and so on. I'm really happy about the timing of releasing the tool and everything around it, really.

Peter: Before we go to the conference, to your presentation, we are nearing the time where the web vitals are going to become an important factor in SEO. How do you think that that is going to influence a factor in SEO? How do you think that is going to influence what we're doing?

Michal: First of all, we have to know that Google cannot shuffle the search results entirely. Even though it may be important ranking factor, they can't afford on completely reversing the search results. Right now, they present the best answer they can, and if the core web vitals will become 80% of their algorithm, most likely, we will end up with totally messed search results, which they cannot afford. My opinion on this is that they will be doing this shift in a period of time. Its impact may be growing over time. However, we cannot expect in May or whenever they will release it. For real, we cannot expect a massive change in the search results. It can be significant, but it won't be overhauled.

Peter: Similar to the previous announced changes where we were waiting for doomsday but it never came, right?

Michal: Yes.

Peter: I've invited you to the podcast because you spoke at the SEOCON 2021 with a presentation called Data-driven content strategy for any business that Google will love. That's a big title, especially for the "any business that Google will love". Usually, I would ask you how the conference was and how it's being at the conference, but because the conference is online, there's just nothing to say. I'll just let you directly go into your presentations. Michal here are your five minutes.

Michal: Sure. I tried to record the presentation in the way like I'm not sitting in front of the microphone, but I actually arranged a stage and had the projector putting the slides on the wall. At least it feels a little bit more like on the real presentation. I think that's cool. Regarding the presentation itself, I created a four take-aways from that presentation. The first one is growing topical relevance based on data. It's all about not throwing topics on your page from your gut feeling so you decide, "Okay, I will write about this, and I will write about that." Instead, you should list your top-ranking competitors and export their visibility to find out which topics bring them a lot of traffic.

You can find this way look-alike topics. Stretching your content by covering those most common topics first will take you to the stage where you can start the snowball effect that I will explain in a few moments. Regarding how to actually make it happen is that you have to leverage the keywords clustering, which is all about that. The whole presentation is about creating the right keywords cluster for your domain. You are an expert in the niche that you want to be performing the best. Of course, there are many ways of keywords clustering. I have four prepared, and two of them are rather gut feeling-based and the other two are based on the Google algorithms itself.

I will just quickly mention that you can do a clustering manually or semantically to find out the semantic commonness. These two types are rather manual for the small projects that you know the industry well, so you can connect those clusters together, I mean those keywords. Regarding those two more advanced methods that incorporates Google algorithm into the equation is that you can use either search results of two keywords to compare whether they have the same URLs ranked for both, and this way you can decide if Google presents the same content, you can write for both keywords together. That's one way.

The other way is comparing sets of keywords that pages rank for. If there is a big overlap between two sets of keywords that Google ranked the same content, you can decide, "Definitely, these keywords are related and I can tackle them within the same article, even the same URL in general." What is important in that is that Google creates clusters, too. How Google creates clusters, basically by ranking pages on a multiple keywords. As you know from your experience, page can be ranking on dozens or even hundreds of keywords.

According to AA Trust case study, there is this case study somewhere on the web, you can find it out, but basically, the clusters can be big and Google cluster keywords as well. It is a great opportunity for us SEOs that you can use that knowledge, that Google creates clusters, and you can compare these clusters that Google created already. With comparing them to each other, you can base your decision on data, which keywords should be ranked together and which keywords should be separated into separate articles or shouldn't be place on your website at all.

Basing your content strategy that takes into account these clusters that Google already created makes this a bulletproof strategy, and you basically know what to write about next from the perspective of the topic that you analyzed. The last takeaway I mentioned at the beginning is the snowball effect, and this is real, really. You can definitely win a small niche with the small domain with just the content. This is a live case study that I presented on the SEOCON that even fighting with big players like Etsy, Amazon, like big e-commerce source, you can build this topical relevance through these clusters and win the serves with content, because you become an expert in specific niche.

What is crucial to achieve that is that you have to publish with regular cadence, you have to stay within your clusters and not trying to write about every single topic from IT. Focus on specific element. If you are about gardening, focus on like organic gardening. Don't try to be an expert in rakes, seeds, and pots, and everything. Keep the pace right, optimize content, and you will get there. That's it, that's the best summary of the presentation.

Peter: I fully agree with what you were saying. The keyword research, and looking for keywords, and organizing those keywords is probably one of the things that should be done a lot, but it's always underdone, if that is a word. How should we get people to do that more? How should we get clients to understand how that is important? How often should people do that? How often should they come back to the research and do the analysis?

Michal: Underdone is definitely a good word, because keywords clustering is extremely time-consuming if you don't have the right tools for that. Imagine semantic clustering when you have 10,000 keywords to group together, and the only way you can join them is that based on their semantic commonness. You include all of the keywords that contain shoes, t-shirts, I don't know, trousers and so on, the other apparel stuff into buckets, and these buckets, you can divide by the color, by the type, by the model.

The keywords clustering is not so common yet, because there are not so many tools that can help you automate that process. Actually, you can build a tool on your own. It is not that expensive, and it is not that time-consuming. I explained that as well in the presentation, that you can use some Python algorithms borrowed from science, and even basic Python skills will be enough to build such a cluster that will compare sets of keywords to each other and decide whether this set is similar to the other so we can join, or this set is definitely different, so it's a separate topic and you have to treat it separately. Results speaks for themselves when it comes to convincing clients.

You had another question about time frame and reviewing it. I would say that you can create a content strategy for three to six months, and it will be a good idea to redo the clusters again based on real-time data. It is important, because your competition won't sleep during that six months. It will be a good idea to revise your priorities and decide whether you have to redo the clustering and, well, change the order of executing articles based on how common they are, because your competitors may start covering a topic about like- I don't know, new headphones, and you want to be up to date with what they publish. Three to six months is a good timing.

Peter: The clustering should mean that we should always cover the group of the keywords for the specific niche, do everything in there, and then move to a separate niche or to a common [unintelligible 00:16:48] or similar niche. Would that be whatever needed, maybe five, maybe 50 articles or landing pages on that topic, and then move to the next one. Is that going to allow us to a better rank, not only for that niche but for the whole together?

Michal: It is important to mention that we have two levels of clusters. The first level of clusters is like cluster of clusters. Cluster of topics for the domain. Regarding the specific URL, you have a cluster of keywords. If you are considering cluster of the domain, you should cover as many topics that were found during the clustering process as possible. Regarding covering keywords within the specific URL, you have to provide this comprehensive information to the end user.

If Google created the cluster, including like 5, 10, maybe 15 topics and they should be joined together, you have to make sure that your article is comprehensive enough to provide information for all of these topics, all of these questions in that manner so the content will be complete, and you won't get those negative behavioral signals from your visitors because they aren't fully satisfied with the result.

Peter: People who are not a Python programmers like myself can use tools like-

Michal: Surfer.

Peter: -or others. I just wanted to check on that. All right. I think that's it. I think we got a very good idea on how to approach the clustering keywords here. Michal, where can people find you? Do you have any future conference plans? Where can people find you on the internet?

Michal: The best place to connect with me is LinkedIn. You'll find me there by searching my name. Regarding the future plans for the conferences, well, not really, unfortunately. Looking forward to the changes in the market.

Peter: Let's see what's going to happen. Once summer comes, I'm very eager to go to the creation seaside and see what's happening. I think that's it. The podcast, for everyone who's listening, go and subscribe. We will be back every 14 days, every two weeks, with new per speakers from all the different conferences. We started with SEO because SEO is close to my heart. Of course, we started with Michal because the topicality is extremely important and extremely timely in SEO. Michal, thank you very much for being a guest. Everyone else, have a great day and see you.

Michal: Thanks for having me.

Peter: Bye-bye.

Apr 2020

#33 - Peter Mesarec - We are on a break

Hey, this time we don't have a conference marketing speaker, because all the conferences are canceled because of the New Corona Virus. I'm taking a break from the podcast, probably till the fall when the conferences pick up again. You can listen to all the previous 32 episodes that are in the archive for free. 

Here are my favorites:

#29 Rebecca Hugo - 6 Findings from Testing the World’s Leading Checkout Flows
#10 - JP Sherman - Delivering better on-site search results
#9 - Prabhat Shah - Amazon SEO Tools I Wouldn’t Avoid
Episode 1 - Tyler Lessard - The Art of Creating Customer Experiences with Site, Sound and Motion

I would love to hear from you, what did you like on the podcast, or what is your favorite episode. Check in at info@time4marketing.com or on Facebook or Twitter

Mar 2020

#32 - Jente De Ridder - A Vision for Sustainable Analytics Implementations

Superweek is a Hungarian conference hosted on the top of a hill, you can't run away, you can't hide. But Jente sais, he liked that, because everyone has to talk to everyone. To each his own :D Jente is on Linkedin here and if you would like to talk shop, chat him up on the business website.

Here are the links to the things we talked about on the podcast:

And here is the full presentation from his talk on Superweek so that you can follow along with the podcast.

Here is the transcript of the talk we had:

Jente: The framework has been implemented. What we've done is we've decided to make the framework open-source. It's available for everyone who wants to use it, it can be shared in the notes afterwards.

Peter: This is time for marketing. The marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend the marketing conference. Hello. Welcome to the time for marketing podcast, the podcast that brings you the best marketing conference speakers directly to your podcast listening app. My name is Peter and this episode number 32. Well, we will be going to a conference in Hungary. Before we do that, as you know, podcasts are usually things that people should listen to. You, yes you, can help me to get more people to listen to this podcast. If you like the speakers that I had in the past, and I know you will love today's speaker, just tell anyone. Just people that you've heard that are using podcast. Tell them time4marketing.com is a great website where you can get an interesting podcast. Now, we go directly to Belgium. With me today is Jente De Ridder. Jente, hello and welcome to the podcast.

Jente: Hi, Peter. Thanks for having me here.

Peter: How are you doing? How is Belgium? I've always imagined Belgium as one of the European cold countries, is this so?

Jente: Well, we have global warming also here so it's getting better. [chuckles] It's true, we have a lot of rain but we do have our nice days as well.

Peter: And loads of chocolates, everything is better in Belgium. Do you also have a lot of fries or is that only a Dutch thing? The fires [inaudible 00:02:06]?

Jente: It's definitely a Belgium thing. We have the best fries in the world, the best chocolates, and also over 100 very good beers so for all those things, you should come to Belgium.

Peter: All right. You should be paid by your tourist community to help promote Belgium. Jente, you are the managing partner and a digital analyst at a company called Stitched. Tell us a bit about the company, and more interesting tell us a bit more about what you do. What is your everyday work like?

Jente: I'll start with Stitched. Stitched is a digital analytics boutique consultancy firm active in Belgium and in the Netherlands. What we do is we help enterprise clients to get more value out of their data. We are mostly focused on their digital data so our mission is actually to help those companies make use of the data they're gathering in tools like web analytics. Because what we often see is that those companies that have BI team or data scientists in-house that those teams are used to working with CRM data, point of sale data, but they don't really understand how the digital data is gathered.

Because digital data it's imperfect data, of course, and this can be quite hard for them to get their minds around. What we do with Stitched is, from our experience in the digital data, we team up with those internal BI teams or the data scientists and we integrate the digital data in the entire data sets, the entire data warehouse of the company. We mainly focus on challenges like how do you cope with identification in a digital environment and those kinds of things.

Peter: How did you get into analytics?

Jente: I started analytics over eight years ago now by working in a online marketing agency. I learnt everything involved in online marketing there, the advertising part, social, content creation, search optimization, and also analytics. It was really that data part that motivate me the most. After a year, I decided to switch to another company I could pick up a full-time web analyst role and I've been building a team within that company since then.

Mainly, everything that I know about digital analytics I learned it myself by reaching out to the measure community, reaching out to other people, reading blog posts. It's hard to start in digital analytics as there's not really an education course preparing you for it. It's really your own motivation and your drive to really understand things and go look them up yourself.

Peter: I've invited you to the podcast because you had a very interesting presentation at the Superweek conference in Hungary. That's a conference at top of a hill, how was that?

Jente: Well, it was a really nice experience. I've been to Superweek before also as a participant and I really love that conference. It's one of the leading conferences within web analytics or digital analytics in the world at the moment mainly because many of the thought leaders are there for the entire week and you have, of course, great presentations being given. The most valuable part is that everyone is there in the hotel for an entire week. There's nothing in the neighborhood around, so it's indeed on top of a hill, more than an hour drive away from Budapest.

It's in the middle of nowhere and all you have is the hotel, the lobby bar, there is a big campfire every night outside, you have a hot tub, a swimming pool. There's a lot of room for exchanging ideas with your peers, really going into discussions about analytics and that's what makes the experience really nice. I would recommend it to everyone active in the digital analytics sphere.

Peter: I've seen the pictures of bonfires at night at front of the hotel, that looks really, really interesting. Your presentation was called a vision for sustainable analytics implementation. We've chatted enoughI hink, let's go directly to your presentation. Jente, here are your five minutes.

Jente: What we've done with the team of Stitched with one of our clients [unintelligible 00:06:43] in the Netherlands. It's energy supplier, they're a market leader in the Netherlands and over two years ago we were asked by them to implement a new data layer because they were switching from hardcoded [unintelligible 00:06:54] implementation to a Tag Manager implementation and they also [unintelligible 00:06:59] a new data layer. They have a really complex landscape, they have different departments, multiple brands, so many platforms. There were like eight different platforms with all different CMSs being managed by different development teams, different marketing teams.

It's your typical enterprise environment where there's a lot of complex things and not everything is aligned. As a business they require to have numbers across those brands, across those platforms, and they want to compare those numbers only one dashboard, those kinds of things. We start thinking from there what is the best approach to implement a data layer here so one unified data layer across all those platforms.

Also taking into account the challenges within the web analytics that we saw, where one of the biggest challenges was, of course, that's normal, the original web analytics is page-based, so you track every time your route changes. That is not really sufficient anymore because more and more development frameworks are modular, like Angular, for instance, you have single-page applications. It's not enough anymore to know that the page has changed but you want to know what was on the page at the moment.

Same when you look at different devices being used, the screen size of people coming into your website is always different. What do they see actually, instead of which page has been loaded? Same when you look at personalization, we show different things to different people on our homepage, so just having a report where you know that your homepage has been seen 10,000 times doesn't tell you what was on that page at the moment people visited. Those challenges we also try to solve them with our approach that we're looking for. There was also the fact that the implementation of this new data layer would be really quite a heavy investment from the organization because of the scale of the platform.

This was also something that they were willing to do, but of course they don't want to do this every two years for instance. What is the case in many companies that you see today is that there are new implementations happening every two or three years because all too often development implementation is based on the specific vision of one person. The person that's in charge of the implementation at the moment [unintelligible 00:09:13] for instance. Once that person switches roles or goes to another company, someone else comes in and he has his own vision and they must go through an entire implementation again.

We want to prevent those kinds of situations and just make sure that the investment was worth it for doing it once and you don't have to do it every couple of years again. That's when we came up with a framework that we've called the Generic Digital Data Layer Framework, where we changed the vision of [unintelligible 00:09:40] starting from page-based tracking to event-based. Everything that happens on our webpage can be considered as an event because already it's all the user interactions happening that are already seen as browser events. For people who are familiar with a bit of customization policies they already work with those events probably.

Again, we want to track things like someone clicks on a button, someone submits a form, a specific piece of content has been seen by the user, those are all events happening in the browser. What we've done is we've made those events abstract as possible. We start thinking, "Don't think on a specific page level." Don't look at what is on that page and what do we want to track now, just think on the component level of a CMS. Within your CMS, your developers, they build components which can then be used to create pages by Content Manager. It's based on those components, that level that you will start thinking about your tracking.

Every time a button component, for instance, is being used we want to know if that button has been within the view of the visitor. Has the user seen that button, and we want to know if someone has clicked on it? Those are two events that you want to know for every button. We'll tell the developer start implementing those events on the component of the button and once [unintelligible 00:11:01] on the page, the track is already included and we don't need to edit them.

This has some advantages. That one, it's clear where the responsibility is for implementing tracking, it cannot be forgotten because it's already present in the CMS. Also, as an analyst, you know that that tracking is available and you don't need to create specific briefings every time a new page is created by someone. There's a lot of time saved there for the web [unintelligible 00:11:27] that you would normally be spending on creating briefings you can now spend on analyzing data. That's how we start our vision, really abstract events happening on the page.

We ended up with a list of I believe 15 components that are typically used within CMSs to build pages and on those 15 components, we had 20 or 25 different events happening. That's our entire list. We have a [unintelligible 00:11:54] with 25 events and then for every of those events, we just add in the variables that you need to know because as an analyst it's great to understand when something's happening, when is an event occurring. To make sense of it, to really be able to give advice based on those events you need to understand the context of events, that's when the variables come in.

For every event, you define a couple of variables that need to be present to be able to make your analysis. For instance, again, back to the example of our button, for every button component we want to know the name and the placements for where is the button placed on the page and maybe also the text of the button. This can be different variables being used for every button that is in place on the page. That's the idea of the framework.

The other challenge is you want to make it sustainable, you want to be able to be sure that you only do implement it once and not again every time someone comes in again, new people enter organization or when new tools are being used by the organization the organization switches from Adobe Analytics to Google Analytics. Those situations also would need [unintelligible 00:13:00]. What we've done, we want to make our framework completely [unintelligible 00:13:04] agnostic and we started there with not building a real data layer because the data layer is always agnostic, it uses specific syntax based on the tag manager you're using.

Google tag manager has their own syntax, Adobe doesn't even really have a syntax that they prescribe, they refer to the W3C guidelines created almost three years ago, Tealium have their own syntax for data layer. All those vendors have their own syntax. What we've done is we decided to just all the implementation stuff, the implication of the event itself, we decide to stick with simple vanilla JavaScript and HTML data attributes for the variables. We've created these JavaScript that just listens to those events happening on the page. It puts them in an array, just like an event queue.

We have an invent queue that builds up when those events happen on the page while the user goes through the websites and then we have a translator script that translates the entire event queue to the syntax that is expected by your tag manager. When you use Google Tag Manager, those events will be translated to a data layer low push syntax, if you have a Tealium the data layer will be translated in another way.

What we have is JavaScript in HTML data attributes being implemented on the platform. That's the responsibility of your developer and he does that on the CMS template level, not on the page level. Next to that, you have one script that runs on the website which will listen to those events, which are our event subscriber and then you have a translator script that translates those events to the syntax as expected by your marketing tools. From then on, it's the responsibility of your web analyst that's in charge of the tag manager to decides what events need to be sent to where.

He can decide we need the tag manager, I want these events to be sent to Google Analytics, to Adobe Analytics, to our marketing platforms, to our Facebook pixels, those kind of things. That's all in the tag manager. Again, you don't implement different codes for Facebook for Google, it's just one implementation, one event, and it can be sent to multiple tools but not by implementing the two specific code on your platform itself.

The benefits are, of course, the mutation is much clearer hence all the vendor-specific or the tool-specific things those are-- you expect that the web analyst [unintelligible 00:15:23] people work with those tools, that they understand how those tools expect the data coming in. That's a bit the framework that we implemented and what we've done is-- [unintelligible 00:15:33] I present this framework I got a lot of nice feedback on it from the people present. We decide to make the framework open source so it's available for everyone who wants to use it. It's not something that we claim so the open-source codes can be shared in the notes of the podcast afterwards for those interested.

Peter: We'll do that. That's excellent and good to opening your code up to people. Your framework sounds great, the question here is how big of a company should it be for it to be a good idea for them to switch to your framework and not go specific to one of the tools that they can implement themselves?

Jente: Some of the ideas of the framework in there just best practices which I would recommend to everyone. Using event-driven approach is something that everyone should start using. It's also what you've seen with Google Analytics switching to the new prescribed measurements protocol, they are switching to more event-driven approach. Data analytics is something very specific so for the size of the company to make this useful, the benefits are larger for large corporations. To give you an idea, some of our clients that are using it at the moment is actually in the Netherlands with over 3,000 employees, multiple brands.

We have Bose from the sounds systems, they have implemented it on their platforms worldwide, we have an insurance company in Belgium who has implemented also 2000 employees. It's the large corporations who are using it at the moment. The framework enables on any platform the thing is you need to do an entire new implementation of your data layer.

What we mostly recommend to our customers is when you will do a new implementation anyway do it in this way. You know it's future proof, it doesn't matter if you will be changing tools somewhere in the future or not but if there's no need at the moment to redo your implementation or existing platform then just stick with what you have and you can continue building on that. Because it's still quite an investment to just implement your entire data layer over again. That's really useful when you go to a new platform or are switching tools at the moment or something like that. That's a good situation to implement this one.

Peter: Will be a good idea when you're redoing your web page to also redo your whole data layer or would you first say that first to do all of the technical stuff for your new web page and then go do the analytics?

Jente: No. If you would redo your website just take the data and the analytics part with it from the start, just make it one of the requirements that needs to be included. Because also in the organization we work with, within the definition of done for an organization working in a [unintelligible 00:18:28] way, the definition of done includes analytics components as well. Tracking needs to be present and needs to be verified by an analyst before something can be released.

Peter: If people would like to talk to you about analytics implementation, where can they find you?

Jente: They can always reach out to me via my LinkedIn profile or on the Measure Slack community. For people active professionally in analytics it's called Measure Slack, go look it up if you're not part of it yet.

Peter: Add the link to the show notes to that?

Jente: All right. We go into MeasureCamp Bratislava within a month, at the end of March. Probably I'm also at MeasureCamp Amsterdam but I don't have a ticket yet, I'm on

the waiting list there, and also MeasureCamp Brussels later this year. I'm quite a fan of MeasureCamp.

Peter: [chuckles] I wanted to ask you what conferences would you recommend to people to go to but it seems that Superweek and MeasureCamps are the places for analysts to go?

Jente: Yes. Those are really community-driven events and I myself get the most value out of those events where you have a lot of time for networking and discussing with your peers. I often value those more than just really good keynotes but that's my point of view.

Peter: All right, Jente, thank you very much for being the guest on the podcast number 32. It was great pleasure hearing about the framework for analytics that you've

developed. I think that's it, you can say goodbye now.

Jente: All right. Bye, and thanks for having me, Peter.

Peter: Bye-bye.


[00:20:30] [END OF AUDIO]

Jan 2020

#31 - Mark Colgan - Building a lean, mean, lead generating machine with outbound prospecting

Mark (here on LinkedIn) talked at the DMSS 2019 and he is a professional outreacher. His presentation was called Building a lean, mean, lead generating machine with outbound prospecting. And he knows how to help others do it. He is the CRO at TaskDrive.

We have his whole presentation here:

Here is the transcript of the talk we had:

Mark Colgan: HubSpot is the biggest advocate of inbound marketing, yet they spent over 60% of their budget in the first few years on outbound. Really, the answer is that inbound alone doesn't work, and you need to support it with outbound prospecting or outbound marketing.

Intro: This is Time For Marketing. The marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend the marketing conference.

Peter: Hello, and welcome to the Time For Marketing podcast. The podcast that brings you marketing conference speakers from all around the world, and takes their presentations, smoosh it up into five minutes, and you have a small package of knowledge. My name is Peter, and I'll be your podcast host.

If you would like to check out the previous episodes, timeformarketing.com, or you can also subscribe to our newsletter, and of course find all the links to the iTunes Google podcast, Stitcher, and every else places where you can listen, and review, and rate, and do all of the great things that you do with podcasts. Today with me is Mark Colgan. Mark is the chief revenue officer at TaskDrive. Mark, hello, and welcome to the podcast.

Mark: Hey, Peter. Thank you very much for having me. I'm really looking forward to sharing the presentation.

Peter: Thank you for being here. Mark, you are a chief revenue officer. What does that mean?

Mark: Yes, that's a great question to start with. A chief revenue officer has a few different definitions, but in my understanding and interpretation, it's somebody who aligns the different departments within a business in order to achieve revenue. Those departments I look after at TaskDrive are marketing, sales, customer success, and product. I make sure there's no silos, and I make sure that our customer is first in terms of our priority. We do everything we can to increase the quality that the customer has with us, which helps us reduce churn, and also helps us increase new customers through the sales and marketing activities too.

Peter: What is TaskDrive? What are you doing?

Mark: Good question. TaskDrive is a service-based business. Our mission is to help b2b sales and marketing teams focus on high-value activities. We do that by offering an outsourced lead generation and data enrichment service. We help companies build new lists of prospects. We also help them enrich existing datas, then we also help companies that sell into enterprise with their account-based insights to helping them expand their reach and increasing their sales velocity by giving them a detailed view of the stakeholders within the decision making process.

Peter: This was a complicated way to say you help companies with their prospects, with their leads, is that right?

Mark: Yes, but it's not just leads because we help them-- A lot of companies are faced with the fact that they have a lot of data that they've amassed over the last few years which has gone fairly out of date, so we also help them with data enrichment. Yes, one of the use cases is lead generation for prospecting.

Peter: Your presentation comes from the Digital Marketing Skillshare Conference that is organized every year in Bali. You were there this year. How was the conference?

Mark: Yes, it was fantastic. A really great conference. They originally started out with an SEO focus but over the last few years, have broadened that out to other tracks. There's people talking about marketing, pay-per-click advertising, as well as email marketing. I covered the outbound sales and prospecting through the presentation there.

Peter: What was your favorite presentation at Bali? Is there one?

Mark: I personally really enjoyed Mark Webster's presentation. He's from Authority Hacker, and he spoke about building and selling online courses, or online IP, basically, your knowledge as a personal interest of mine. I really enjoyed that talk and got a chance to speak with Mark after the event as well.

Peter: Of course, Mark is a big podcaster in the marketing world. I think we should go directly to the presentation. Mark, you spoke on building a lean mean lead generating machine with outbound prospecting. Here are your five minutes. Tell us what your presentation was about?

Mark: Thank you for having open mic, Peter. This presentation was actually around 50 minutes, so I'm going to do my best to bring everything into 5 minutes. I spoke about outbound prospecting, and throughout the presentation, I covered a number of different sections. I started out with what outbound prospecting is, what the four stages of building a lead generating machine is, how you can then scale that outbound prospecting. Then I gave some bonus tips and additional reading, which are all in the slides for those who are listening.

I'll start with outbound prospecting. It really it's a direct channel where you can identify and target customers and directly reach out to them, and introduce them to your company its products and services. The goal of this is to start a conversation, and it's also to position yourself as a trusted adviser. You're not going to sell- especially in the b2b space, you're not going to sell directly to consumers in a cold email, so you need to remember that.

Also, you need to remember that it's just one lead generation strategy, so you've got search engine optimization, social media events, webinars, side projects. Outbound prospecting just fits into your lead gen strategy. It's not the be-all and end-all. It's part of the sales process. It's the beginning part because once you generate leads, you then need to convert those leads by sales calls, or from demos, or free trials, and close them into paying customers, and then you need to fulfill those needs.

Fulfill those customers and deliver the value that you promised, nurture those customers, and ensure they're successful, and hopefully, they become advocates of your business. Outbound prospecting works for most companies who have achieved product-market fit. They have an average order value of over a thousand dollars per year, and you can also scale the delivery of your service or product. It's really important to distinguish those.

Also, as we approach 2020, there's a couple of things that I believe personally you need to do in order to succeed with the outbound prospecting. These are, you have to come from a attitude of offering value and giving without expecting anything in return. You need to understand the buyer's journey of awareness consideration of the decision, and people within your prospects are going to be at different levels of that journey. Also, only 3% of your market are actively buying at any one time, so that means 97% of people aren't looking to buy right now.

If you're selling and pitching to a hundred people, only 3 are actively looking and 97 aren't. You need to make sure that what you're sending in your messaging is building value, and position yourself as a trusted advisor, and not just sending a sales pitch. For the sake of time, I broke down the lead generation machine into four different steps. I'll just go through those in a bit more detail.

The four steps are planning, research, message, and launch. Planning really comes down to understanding who you're trying to target with your ideal customer profile, as well as the individuals within those companies. Those are your buyer personas. The best way to create these is to look at your existing customers and any sales or prospects in the funnel and just identify what they have in common. What pain points do they share, what characteristic characteristics they share as a company?

You then need to move on to understanding what their pain points are, what problems are they trying to achieve or overcome from a account level as well as a personal level. In their role, what are they trying to overcome? Then you want to split out your ideal customer profiles and buyer personas into different campaigns. That might be via location, by industry, by job titles or seniority. Then you also need to prepare your email for outreach.

One of the most important things to do is not use your main domain to send out these emails because you run the risk of hitting the spam traps, and then blocking your email deliverability in the future. You also need to research, spend a lot of time personalizing the outreach, so you can research on an individual persona. On an account level, make sure that your outreach is personalized, and you can use merge tags for the outreach. You put those things that you find in your research into the emails which builds relevance with the individual, and also it encourages them to reply.

You then need to find those leads. There's a number of places you can look at. LinkedIn, you can go to directories, you got to the podcast, you could use paid databases like-- discover. There are hundreds of different sources for the data, but you'll only be able to know where they are when you've done your ideal customer profile and buyer persona research.

Again, skipping through quite a lot here [chuckles] to try and get it into five minutes. Then we're onto your messaging. Here, you need to understand what your strategy for cadence is. That is, how many touchpoints, how many times are you going to try and attempt to contact people, over which media or channels, what the duration of the outreach is going to be, how much time in-between each of the messages, and what that content is.

There's a number of ways to select media channels. The easiest way is the cheaper or smaller. The shorter the cell cycle is, the less effort you want to put in. The more longer the cell cycle is, and the more expensive your product is. You'll want to use channels such as Direct Mail, personalized video, and personalized experiences because the effort is worth the reward.

Then the final element after you've got the messaging is to-- Sorry, then the messaging comes on to these four elements of the cold email. The subject line whose job it is to get the email opened. An opening sentence, which shows that you've done your research and it's a relevant email or message for the person who's received it to read. The main body, which connects your opening sentence to the value proposition that you offer. Then a call to action. The simplest call to action can be, "Would you be interested in finding out more?"

The last thing you need to think about is the launch. This is where you select the right technology that you can use to send out these emails. The most simple technologies for email outreach where it's just email, you could use outreach.io, Lemlist, Amplemarket, or Reply.io. If you're combining your outreach with other channels, like direct mail, phone calls, and voicemails, you might want to use a tool like SalesLoft or outreach.io.

Once you have that technology in place, you just need to set up your outbound sequence. All of the tools out there will help you do this. What you can typically expect is if you're doing this right, you can get an open rate of 60%. A reply rate of 45%, a conversion rate of 20%. If you're good at closing those deals, you want to be aiming for 50% close one.

Obviously, you want to aim for 100%, but it won't always happen. That really is the key to building a lean mean lead generating machine and how you scale this is that you learn, you iterate, and you repeat. Once you've effectively done this for one fiscal or one campaign, you can launch multiple campaigns at a time and add more leads to the top of the funnel.

Peter: All right. Thank you, Mark. A couple of questions. Outbound versus inbound prospecting. I feel that we're mostly, in the last couple of years talking about inbound. What is the difference and even more important, how should people decide which of those two channels should be more important for them?

Mark: Great question and one that I like to usually back up with a fact which is escaping me right now. HubSpot is the biggest advocate of inbound marketing, yet they spent over 60% of their budget in the first few years on outbound. Really, the answer is that inbound alone doesn't work and you need to support it with outbound prospecting or outbound marketing. That's really key.

I think when it comes to inbound, you're relying on the fact that your content is going to be picked up. You've got the right keywords and you've got the right audience segmentation that they're going to read your content and then convert or contact you. `Whereas what you can do with outbound prospecting is because you know who an ideal customer is, and you know the particular triggers and signals that you look for or you can see when somebody is right for you.

Say for example, one of your buyer personas has started a new role and you offer a product or service that would help that person in their new role. You could actually reach out to them at the time where they're starting a new role with a bit of content or with some value that you can share with them to start the conversation. That you can't really do with inbound because you're not controlling the process, whereas with outbound, you can control the start and the initiation of a conversation.

Peter: All right, you said that outbound is for companies whose customer value per year is around $1,000. How did you come to that number? Why?

Mark: It's a rough rule of thumb. I'm not saying it wouldn't work for customers who have a smaller lifetime value, but the more the better. The reason being is that there's often costs associated from a tools and technology process. Some of these tools can cost 70 or even hundreds of dollars per month, and that's to send the emails out. You need to spend time doing the research. You also need to verify the research and you probably want somebody doing it for you because it may not be the best use of your time as a founder or even as a marketing or sales director.

You've also got to be prepared to play the long game because not everybody converts on the first message. Often you see that sequences have over 30 touchpoints. In addition, because email alone may not work, you might need to include phone calls and voicemails, videos and direct mail. There's just a lot more labor costs in it. If your unit economics don't work out, it may cost you more to acquire a customer than it does if your average order value is low.

Peter: Do you have any tricks to write email subjects?

Mark: Yes. I would say the best subjects are short. They invoke curiosity, you could potentially use humor, definitely personalize with an account name, the company name or the person's first name. Those would be my main tips. Also, I shared in the presentation on the day that the best performing subject line for open rates is, I've got your wife. That will always get a lot of opens,-


Mark: -but you will have a lot of angry and annoyed people because you've tricked them. Never trick, be honest, be sincere. Use humor only if it's right with you and your audience. Some audiences you'll be able to get away with more humor than others.

Peter: I like that idea of not using the main domain for the email outreach, could you briefly speak about that, why and how that works?

Mark: Yes, sure. The best practice really is to pick a domain which isn't your main one. Let's say that your domain is companyname.com. Try and find a domain which is very similar, but it's .io or .co or whatever variation it may be or you might want to say getcompanyname.com. What you want to do is, even if you're doing everything right, you're taking time to research your ideal customer profiles and understand your buyer personas, you really understand their pain point and you have a fantastic product or service that can solve their problem and you're not spamming people and you're sending small volumes out at a time. You've warmed up your domain, you can still get triggered as spam.

You can do everything right, but send the message to somebody on the wrong day and they mark you as spam. Also, if you're not personalizing your outreach and you're taking a very template shotgun approach, you will also be sending the same message out over and over again. That's what the spam filters are looking out for and it reduces your chances of delivering emails in the future.

The main reason why we say to use a spare domain is because whilst you be able to do the right things, you still might be marked as spam on your cold email outreach domain which means that it can affect the deliverability of your main domain if you're not using a separate one. That means that your internal emails to each other, to your team members, may not even be delivered because you've been marked as spam so much. I've seen personally, companies who have really struggled with this in the past.

Peter: All right. One last question, everyone who is from the European Union and you being from the UK, still count. They would ask, of course, how does that work with the privacy laws with GDPR and others?

Mark: What I'd always, first of all, is to say get professional legal advice. This isn't legal advice, but if you can find the email address and it's publicly available and you have legitimate interest to message them, then you should be okay in using their email address to send. Also, you could do the research on LinkedIn and connect with individuals on LinkedIn and not even have to do email for the outbound prospecting. That's what I see some of our European clients doing with the data that they're using. However, the majority of our customers are in the US and not affected with the same privacy laws.

Peter: All right. That was very very interesting and a lot of great info. We will be able to attach your presentation to the podcast notes so that everyone can go into to check out for the whole presentation. Is that right?

Mark: Excellent, yes, that's perfectly fine.

Peter: Excellent. All right, Mark. What are your future conference plans and where can people find you on conferences or where can people contact you online if they would like to talk about everything that you do?

Mark: Great question. We're planning our 2020 conference plans at the moment. There's still a bit TBC. I'll certainly be speaking on more podcasts and online summits, but if you'd like to speak to me in the meantime, the best place to find me is on LinkedIn, where you can search for Mark Colgan, that's C-O-L-G-A-N or you can email me at mark@taskdrive.com.

Peter: All right, and I will, of course, add all of those links to the show notes so if you're listening to just open your podcast app and find all of the links to Mark. Mark, thank you again for being on the podcast. Have a great day enjoying the sun and hope to see you around.

Mark: Thank you very much, Peter. It's been great. Thank you.

Peter: Bye-bye.

Jan 2020

#30 - Alexandra Tachalova - Smart Link Building how to stop following best practices and start getting links

Alexandra Tachalova (Linkedin or Twitter) is the organizer of the Digital Olympus conference and she does one thing in life. Generates backlinks. So if you want more backlinks, you should listen to what she has to say. This is her presentation from the DMSS 2019 in Bali, check out her presentation below.

Podcast transcript

Alexandra Tachalova: So when I was the very first time doing link building, I spent the first three or four months painting those features and well, I believe I did notice one or two links.

Peter: This is Time4Marketing, the marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend the marketing conference.

Hello, and welcome to the Time4Marketing marketing podcast, the podcast that invites the best marketing conference speakers to come and sum up their presentations in five minutes. It's 2020 Happy New Year to everyone. My name is still Peter and I'll still be your host for this podcast episode. If you would like to know more what is going on on the podcast, you could visit the time4marketing.com website when you have forum where you could subscribe to our email newsletter or just subscribe to this podcast.

If you want to talk to me, you can find me on my web page, seos.si. Enough about me. I hope you're having a wonderful new year. With me today is Alexandra Tachalova. Alex, hello and welcome.

Alexandra: Hello, Peter. Thanks for having me. Such a pleasure and honor being here today.

Peter: Alex, I'm very glad that you are here with us. Where are you located?

Alexandra: I'm based in Saint Petersburg, which is not in Florida, but in Russia. Well, we are based on the same continent with you, not really far away from you.

Peter: True, true. But Russia sounds very cold. Is it unbelievably cold right now?

Alexandra: No, it's not unbelievably cold. We are going to have a Christmas and New Year without snow. Right now it’s +3 +4 five. Yes, just rainy.

Peter: Alex, you are the founder of the Digital Olympus Conference. Tell us a bit more about the conference and tell us a bit more what you do in your everyday job life.

Alexandra: Well, first of all, let's chat a little bit about the Digital Olympus Conference. That's going to happen on the sixth of April in Kraków, which is based in Poland. We have very, I think inspiring lineup. We have Aleyda Solis, Michal speakers, Lukasz Zelezny, Fernando Angulo, Leonardo Saroni from Booking, Judith 'deCabbit' and many, many other quite well-known experts. We are a very affordable conference because the cost, our POS is less than 100 that.

That's more or less about this Olympus Conference and hope to see you guys maybe-- by the way, you don't even need to go to our conference. You could also join us online because we do a free live stream. Even if you can't come personally, then you have an option to join us just online. When talking about what I do besides Digital Olympus, I do link building. I have a quite small agency and it's just under the same brand, under Digital Olympus. Well, actually we built links mostly for B2B clients. That's what I think I know very well and that's my areas of expertise.

That's the reason why I'm talking about link building quite a lot and write about link building covers intellectually. Did write a post for the MOZ Blog about the economics of link building. I highly recommend checking it out. Get tons of positive feedback. People were writing to me across different channels and they really love this stuff because not a lot of experts sharing it, the real cost of link building and why like different options cost different- costs differently. Yes, that's a good one, I think. Let me add one more thing about my personal life.

If you go to any of my social media channels, you'll find me and my horse. I'm really into horse-riding, in particular dressage. That may be my second fashion after digital marketing.

Peter: To go to your presentation, you spoke-- Well, you speak at a lot of different events. But I contacted you because you spoke at the DMSS in Bali in 2019 with--

Alexandra: That was my excuse to go to Bali.


Peter: That is a lot of people's excuse to go to Bali. It’s business. I can write it off on business expenses. Your presentation title was How to Stop Following the Best Practices and Start Getting Links. Alex, here are your five minutes for your presentation.

Alexandra: I was talking about how exactly we built links here at Digital Olympus, what we do. First of all, we don’t follow any best practices. If you go to, just you know, to Google on quite well-known digital marketing blog, you'll find tons of- they're sharing how to do link building like 66 best link building strategy that you need to do today or tomorrow. Don't do that because they are quite useless being honest. The reason behind it that they're overused. Also, well, I have something more to share here besides like, they are useless because we've already tried them and they don't work but besides me there are some data.

For instance, some time ago, Brian Dean teamed up with Pitchbox, which is an outreach tool and they analyzed thousands of email outreach pitches. Well, they found out that their average response rate is quite low, in fact, below 9%. That's the reason why I think doing link building by following those strategies is not the right way to go because, let's imagine if you sent 100 emails, you might get only one or two links because the response rates while any link builder know that response rate doesn't equal to getting a link. What I suggest doing-- First of all, what we don't do, definitely we don't send mass emails because they have a quite poor response rate.

Instead of these, I would recommend going to people that are already aware about your brands, so with whom you've already established a relationship. The reason behind it that they're much more responsive and eager to communicate with you, so your emails won’t be ignored. Plus they know you, they trust you so you could try to get a link from them.

But for sure it's not just because you are so good and your content is so good, you need to give them something back or visit it because people understand the value of links. My recommendations will be, well, if you want to work with though then do it like really do link building.

That's actually the most beneficial way of doing it because if you partner up with a company that doing link building on a scale, so they’re also investing in this process, then you could build much more links because they know more people, they write to more blogs. But you need to return them links back. That's where we are coming to an indirect link exchange. You need to contribute to other blogs but not to build links because it's very expensive. Well, for sure you could do this, but it's much more like, it makes much more sense to do it, to return things back to people that could also generate links, so you are doing indirect links exchange.

Well, for sure not only links can be cured as something available for people, someone or connection the rest of others with hype or like, for instance, your clients. If you are checking your circles. What you do, you check your clients, your social media followers, your partners as well. Anyone who basically knows your brand and their whereabouts, your existence. Well, if you talk about liners, they might want to, something like your specs, they might want to, so you send them your secs and get a link. Well, for sure don't do like the majority of people do like sending here is what like-- send an email, how does it look like?

For instance, I deliver this awesome blog post and I've been following you for ages and then the reason why you need to give me a link back, well, quite stupid. They don't owe you a thing so don't do that. Instead of these, what I would recommend doing, first of all, connect with them and do something valuable for them. For instance, like link back to them, sending soundtracks. Only after these, ask whether there is any chance to link back to your awesome, insightful blog posts. That's very much it. The last tip will be, if you want to find people that write across various blogs within your niche, most probably they're doing link building because that's the reason why they write to different blogs.

On a regular basis go to BuzzSumo experts, the list of contributors because at BuzzSumo allows you on the most popular blogs and then search via those author names inside BuzzSumo. Going back to BuzzSumo and see whether they write across different blogs or only write on this one article. Your goal is to find those that write across a quite big number of blogs like me. For instance, I write on different blogs like Moz, Search Engine Journal, co-marketing [unintelligible 00:10:50] excel, and et cetera. That's very much it.

Peter: Okay, excellent. Alex, how important do you feel are links still in SEO and even more, are they getting more important or less in the last years?

Alexandra: I think they're like, there should be one more guy here that-- there will be a very interesting conversation because I'm sure, yes, for sure I say links, the main reason why sites are ranking at the top of Google results and then we need an opponent here, someone who is really- truly believe that technical SEO on-site is so then the reason why sites are ranking. The thing here that I know how to build links and I see that when we build links to our clients' websites, the clients pager they grow. I see how it works. Then the reason why I believe that links are really important. However, I don't really do technical SEO so I don't see any correlations between technical SEO. I'm not observing them because I don't do that.

Each time I just meet people that do technical SEO they are like sharing, "No, you don't need links, you only need to just to nail your calls or whatever it is." There are one more very important thing that everyone should remember.

If you have a small website, I mean it's not a big e-commerce brand, you don't have tons of pages. I don't think nailing your technical off-site SEO would help you like really change your situation, especially if we are talking about highly competitive niches like IT, well, digital marketing or something like that. You could do whatever you want with your website. Make it very fast, make it very, very beautiful in terms of your course but unless you have links, it's not going to work.

Peter: Especially business to business websites are usually in such a way that it's small content.

Alexandra: Yes, just because your competitors are doing this. The problem with all those things that related to links, if people around you within your niche heavily invest in link building, then Google sees it and reacts on those additional forces that are impacting the SERPs. Then the problem is, well, imagine no one would be doing link building and then I could imagine that links won't be so important because Google will be looking at other factors. Since we have links and links are the core of Google [unintelligible 00:13:56] still because they are recommendations.

We are recommending something like in real life. When I recommend something and I'm a trustworthy source because, for instance, I recommend something because I really know I think the digital marketing, I am a trustworthy-- people believe me. That's the same with links. When you are a trustworthy website and do you say like, "Okay, I linked to this website," you basically say that the website that you're linking to is also trustworthy and that's how Google overlays things.

Peter: Probably links are going to be important for always. Another question--

Alexandra: I think so. yes.

Peter: If I'm a company and now what is the distinction, when should I decide to find someone from the outside to help me with my link building and when should I do it by myself inhouse? Is the size of the website, the criteria or-- When should I look for someone to help me with my link building?

Alexandra: When it comes to digital marketing, well, I'm a big believer that you need to try it on own. When I have a potential client that tell me, "Look we might hire you or might not because we are right now considering doing it on our own." I say like, "Look do it on your own because you see how it's hard, first of all then if you see how it's hard, then you might see a value in my services." You just try it, you see that it's very hard because it's very hard, you barely-- Even if you do guest blogging, it's very expensive so you would just spend the very few months just trying to pitch something to someone and receive a lot of no most probably.

The thing with link building or when I think you need to outsource these types of things, well first of all, when you want to do it faster. You hire an agency. Because the main reason why people hire an agency like us or agencies like another like other guys because they've already established those relationships so they want it just to capitalize on what we've already done. Starting from the very first month, we could build up to 30 links per client. We've already know people so we just simply sent emails and they said, "Okay, we'll do this." They need to do everything from scratch.

When I was the very first time during link building, I spend the first three or four-month painting those features. I believe I do notice one or two links so if you linked that was all I was very frustrated and I was like why? Because you need to spend around two, three years establishing those relationships and then everything is easy. The second situation when you need an agency when you need very specific links. You've already a well-known company-- well, you don't need average links, you need very specific links to very specific pages. For instance, category or it might be even commercial pages.

Then you could try to go to a link building agency and ask them whether they could help you. Because you have such clients from an enterprise sector, They are very well known company but they want to run better by some of their category pages because that's their commercial pages, that's where all the revenue stream is coming. Yes, in some cases, you could do this. The best thing about email, personalized email outreach is that you could even build links to those pages as well. Not for each and every company but if you are talking about well-known and if you know, people, you could do this. Actually, we have a few clients for whom we are building links to commercial pages.

Peter: Excellent. All right, I think that's it. Alex, if people would like to contact you or talk to you more about link building, where can people find you?

Alexandra: That might be LinkedIn but please, if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, write down a short message. I have already 200 connections that are pending. I just want to be sure that I'm not going to skip your connection request. Just write down something like, "I heard you on podcast something like this and then the reason I'd love to connect, I just greatly appreciate it." Or you can just go straight to Twitter which allows you to connect with me directly by following me and asking me question there without sending any super tracklist to connect. [chuckles]

Peter: All right. Thank you for being on the podcast. I'll add all of the links about the stuff that-

Alexandra: Thank you,

Peter: -talked about in the show. I will also add your presentation into the show notes so if people want to go deeper into the content, they can-

Alexandra: Awesome.

Peter: -do that. One more thing, do you have future conferences lined up? Where can people find you if they want to see you speaking live?

Alex: I think the biggest one that I have in my calendar is BrightonSEO in April, so if you'll be around- If you plan to come to BrightonSEO hope to see you there and for sure I'll be speaking about link building, which is a quite hot topic right now. It's on the rise. If you are based closer to me in Eastern Europe then SEO zraz in Bratislava, right? I think so in Bratislava, will be in February and so well, our own conference. I won't be speaking there, but I'll be there and so well, I'll be just taking care of technical things at Digital Olympus and if you're based somewhere in Poland, hope to see you at our own event.

Peter: All right. There's a lot of opportunities. Okay. Alex, thank you very much for being on the podcast. It was great talking to you and hope to see you around.

Alex: Hope to see you, Peter. Thank you very much for having me. And have a lovely Christmas.

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