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Head-to-Head: How to Make Your Content Marketing Efforts Reach Further29:48 with Tom Critchlow
Detailed tactics to make every piece of content you create have more social shares, earn more links, and bring more and more valuable traffic to your site.
We've got a problem. I prepared lots of slides today. 0:00 I put a lot of work in—just like Rand did. 0:05 I thought, "I'm going to get across of lot of information, a lot of tactics. 0:09 It's going to help you out." 0:11 And then Wil and Rand and Mike—they stole all my slides, 0:14 and they said all my stuff I wanted to say. 0:19 And I realized—what is it I can get across? 0:21 Like Deloris—this is probably one of the last presentations I might give as an "SEO." 0:26 And I see a problem with our industry. 0:36 Let me make something very clear—SEO is not dead. 0:39 On-site SEO—alive, booming. 0:42 John—wherever he sat in the audience—just made one of our clients 0:45 $10 million a month extra through some on-site stuff. 0:48 Alive and well. Perfectly fine. 0:53 But link building—there's a problem, right? 0:55 Panda, Penguin—got a lot of people running scared. 1:00 A lot of people are being penalized. 1:04 There are people sat in this audience that are being penalized. 1:06 Not an insignificant number of people sat in this audience, 1:12 that are being penalized, that are being hurt. 1:14 Why? You guys were chasing tactics; you were chasing the ask-all market 1:17 and the directory link building—all of those things. 1:21 We talked about that a lot. 1:23 So the industry—and I'm guilty of this as well—we talk about content strategy. 1:26 Rand laid out a wonderful presentation. Strategy—it's not tactics. It's strategy. 1:33 There's a whole point. There's a reason. It takes a lot of work, a lot of energy. 1:38 But the problem with content strategy is that it's been around for awhile, 1:44 and as SEOs, we don't know that much about it. 1:51 We're sat here in the audience talking about content marketing— 1:59 talking about content strategy. 2:02 We don't really know what we're talking about. 2:06 Rand gave a great presentation. I really liked it. I thought it was very emotional. 2:10 That video he showed from Seattle Children's Hospital 2:17 wasn't made by an SEO company. 2:21 Dollar Shave Club—this is an example of content that Rand uses all the time. 2:27 Great content—it wasn't made by an SEO company. 2:30 It was made by BBH—advertising agency. 2:33 Cut Brooklyn—another example of great content Rand uses all the time— 2:38 made by an advertising agency in Brooklyn. 2:43 So we have a problem, right? We want to play in this space. 2:51 We want to create amazing content. 2:57 We want to do things for our clients that have real results. 2:59 When we're pitching it to our clients, internally to our execs, and so on— 3:03 and we're getting beat. 3:09 We're getting beat by creative agencies 3:11 because they've been doing this for forever. 3:14 Okay. So there's a problem here. 3:21 When we talk about content strategy, I don't want you to think about 3:26 the video that Rand showed. 3:29 Of course I'm going to say that. 3:31 But I don't want you to think about that stuff because you can't do it. 3:33 None of you guys sat in this audience can do that. 3:35 Mike King walks on stage—great presentation. 3:38 He rapped for the first 5 minutes. How many of you guys can do that? 3:41 I can't do that. 3:46 I can't create that video for Seattle Children's Hospital, 3:48 so I haven't got it here. 3:51 That's not what we can do. That's not what we're about. 3:54 Okay, we're about relationships; we're about link building; 3:58 we're about reaching out to people—outreach. 4:00 Great. PR has been doing that for forever. 4:02 There's a crisis happening, right? 4:08 I am forward looking. I always get accused. 4:11 Rob sat me down the other day and said, "You look too far in the future." And I do. 4:14 It's true. I'm guilty of that. 4:18 But I see a problem looming around the corner. 4:20 I see a problem with our industry because I see these other industries, 4:22 these other agencies, these other companies are powerhouses. 4:29 They're so good at this stuff. 4:34 And we sit here, we put their stuff up on our screens and our presentations 4:36 and we say, "Do this—" but none of you can do that. 4:40 So I have one slide today, and it's this. 4:46 Because I think I've figured it out. I think I figured out what it is that we do best. 4:49 I want to tell you a story. There was an author. 4:57 He wrote a book, and he did 3 things from the sales of his book. 5:00 He got featured in the New York Times—pretty impressive, nice. 5:08 He got featured on Oprah—pretty impressive, yes. 5:14 And he wrote a guest post of this guy. This guy is Tim Ferriss. 5:19 He's also an author. He has a blog—a very popular blog. 5:27 Of those 3 things that he did, the guest post for Tim Ferriss blew 5:33 the other 2 channels out of the water—not even close in terms of direct results. 5:38 Not even close in terms of the impact that it had. Think about that for a sec. 5:45 Media's changing. We know this. 5:54 You read all the time—New York Times can't make any money. 5:56 The Guardian—can't make any money. 5:59 Media outlets—they can't make any money. 6:01 Media is changing. Media is changing to this guy. 6:03 This is where influence sits online. Influence sits with people like Tim Ferriss, 6:07 people like Rand, people that have audiences 6:11 of highly engaged individuals—and we've been reaching out for those for awhile. 6:14 We've been saying, "Hey, we have this thing." "Hey, Can I write a guest post?" 6:24 "Hey, can I just get in front of your audience?" 6:29 We've been doing that for awhile. 6:33 And that's where I think we need to go. That's where I think we go next. 6:36 We can't do ask-all markets and we can't do directories. 6:40 You know what? 6:45 Even the kind of guests posts that most of you are writing right now, you can't do. 6:47 There's a real problem here. 6:52 Most of the guest posts you see are written by voucher codes, UK, 6:54 written by plumbing supplies. 6:59 Hey, Matt Cutts hasn't said it yet. You're in trouble, right? 7:03 Maybe this year, maybe next. 7:12 He's already coming for infographics. Why is he coming for infographics? 7:14 Well if you read very carefully, what he's coming for is the infographics 7:17 also have that crap also generated a link that gets spread to places 7:21 without influence for the link. 7:26 A bunch of people over the last couple of days have put in their presentations, 7:30 "Hey, wouldn't it be great if we could just get a link from that thing that we did— 7:33 that thing that mentioned us and got us all the engagement anyway. 7:38 If we could just a link for SEO—pug that. 7:40 Google's clever enough to understand citations for local. 7:45 Do you think that Google isn't clever enough to understand citations for the web? 7:48 Do you think that an image that you own that someone else hosts, 7:52 do you think that getting a link there is really going to make a difference 7:55 to your bottom line? 7:57 Listen. For small companies, it doesn't matter. 8:00 Small companies—they don't really care whether they hire a creative agency, 8:05 an SEO agency, a PR agency, Joe on the street, whoever. They don't care. 8:08 They're all about that real relationship. They all just want to grow their business. 8:15 And some guy comes to them and says, "Hey, I can help." And they hired him. 8:20 So it doesn't matter too much what you call yourself or what you do. 8:23 But don't you go to someone like Ouzen and you say, 8:26 "Hey, I hear they create content marketing, SEO thing a magig-agig-aty. 8:30 What were the words Rand used? Content marketing strategy SEO thing? 8:36 That ain't going to get you any budget—not going to work. 8:42 And the SEO industry is a PR problem. 8:47 The SEO has a bad rep because we've been doing all this shit for so long. 8:49 So we're trying to change. We're trying to move into content marketing. 8:57 And that's great. I'm all for it. Let's do it. 8:59 But when we talk about content marketing, let's throw out the stuff 9:02 that's produced by the creative agencies, 9:08 that's produced by the advertising agencies, produced by the PR agencies. 9:10 If you want to get there, that's great. 9:15 Internally at Distilled right now, we're having a debate. 9:18 We're trying to understand—should we become a creative industry? 9:22 Because we already have design development, we create some content 9:26 that is really, truly compelling and interesting. 9:30 Some of it's video; some of it's data visualization; some of it is really amazing. 9:32 We created content that gets 50,000 Facebook likes—100,000 Tweets. 9:37 But that still pails in comparison to the (inaudible) stuff. 9:43 So do we need to move in that direction? Do we need to go and compete on that turf? 9:52 Because we can do it. We got hustle. We got time. We got smarts. 9:56 But if we do it, that's not SEO. Most of you guys won't move in that direction. 10:02 So what do we mean by SEO? 10:07 What do we mean by the content marketing that we can do? We mean this. 10:09 We mean building things of real value and getting them in front of audiences 10:16 of highly-engaged individuals. 10:19 Advertising works by creating emotional content and getting as many 10:24 freakin' eyeballs as possible. 10:28 That's no good. We don't want to go after that. 10:31 We want to go after results. We want to go after that thing that they struggle with. 10:35 They struggle to tie that content back to real value. 10:39 I loved Fabio's presentation talking about building content for a big e-commerce retailer. 10:42 And I love the idea of looking at monetizing your good content—those infographics. 10:47 Monetizing them by adding special offers to them. 10:52 That's the kind of thinking a creative agency or an ad agency is going to miss. 10:56 I'm generalizing, obviously. There's some good creative agencies out there and so on. 11:00 But that's the kind of thing that our industry—you guys—everyone sat here— 11:03 that's the stuff that we can do. 11:10 That's where we can add value. 11:12 And I don't think that means we should try and shrink our reach. 11:15 If anything, it means we should go higher up the food chain. 11:19 We've been working very hard at Distilled to move higher up the food chain in our pitches. 11:22 We've been trying to not pitch to the head of SEO— 11:27 trying not to pitch the VP of marketing, the CMO, or the CEO. 11:29 Because they're the people that have the kind of audience 11:36 and kind of leverage internally to enable us to build these kinds of projects, 11:38 because they're still tough. 11:43 But we're building the kind of content from the outset that is designed with results in mind. 11:45 We're not building kind of content from the outset with eyeballs in mind. 11:50 Because you know what the other thing about eyeballs is? You can just pay for them. 11:55 You can just buy eyeballs. You can buy sponsor videos. 12:02 You can buy sponsor Tweets. 12:07 But we think of ourselves as an industry that doesn't need to rely on those budgets. 12:10 So we need to rely on these people. 12:14 We need to rely on those highly-engaged audiences. 12:16 And what I want to do now is I want to say all this stuff we're talking about— 12:20 Links are Dead—Ian Lurie, Real Company Shit—Wil Reynolds, 12:25 Content Strategy—Rand Fishkin. 12:29 What do we do? What do you do? 12:33 And I think the answer is you build content capabilities, 12:38 and you build outreach capabilities, and you get them in front of these people. 12:43 And you measure it by measuring relationships. 12:49 I'm not going to give you a spreadsheet to download. 12:51 I'm not going to give you a new tool. I don't have any of that stuff. 12:53 But let me share some of the things we've been doing within Distilled. 12:56 We have 3 creative-content creators. 12:59 We have 3 front-end developers and designers—3 people. 13:04 We have 3 outreach people. 13:08 Between them, they manage the production of really amazing content 13:11 and the relationships with people like this. 13:17 I did some analysis over the last 12 months. 13:20 I looked at 1,750 links that we built within Distilled— 13:24 manually built every single one of those links. 13:29 Every single one of those links has been a real relationship. It cost 29 projects. 13:32 Out of those 1, 750 links, 716 of them—sorry— 13:41 out of those 1, 750 links, they were from 716 sites. 13:46 Now I haven't got the exact formula for you. I haven't got the exact magic source. 13:54 But what I'm getting at here is that we should be building relationships. 14:00 We should be building relationships with these people, and it's nothing new. 14:04 You've heard it before. Of course you have. 14:08 But there's also a missing component—content. 14:13 Do you know how this guy got in front of Tim Ferriss? Do you know what he did? 14:16 He wrote a guest post. 14:22 Content—it's just words. You need writers. 14:26 We have a whole team of freelance writers at Distilled. They're an outsource team. 14:31 They're not full-time employees, but they might as well be. 14:36 We hand vetted every single one to be high quality. 14:38 We know every single one personally and individually. 14:41 And we use that content for leverage. 14:45 Here's the thing that most people don't tell you—I was on my phone 14:49 quickly Googling that Seattle Children's Hospital Video. 14:52 It got picked up by the Huffington Post. It got picked up by CNN. 14:56 It got picked up by Time. That's great. Do you know why it got picked up? 14:59 Because the content was so amazing. 15:04 Do you know how we get content picked up? We have really good content. 15:06 And then we have to go and write content for them. 15:11 We write content, and we make the placement ourselves. 15:13 That's the kind of guest logging that still works. 15:18 That's the kind of guest logging that isn't just linking back for anchor text 15:20 at the bottom of the post. 15:24 And I think that's where we need to go. 15:28 And then, how do you measure it? 15:33 How do you measure the impact of that kind of activity? 15:38 And I don't have all the answers for you. 15:42 But within Distilled, what we're building of value is that network of relationships 15:45 combined with the assets to do outreach. 15:51 When we do outreach to these people, you need something of value. 15:55 What is that thing of value? It's a transactional relationship. 15:58 What is that thing of value that you can build? And what do we do well? 16:03 We do data well. So we build data sets. We build small data visualizations. 16:07 Things like infographics are great as things like guest posts. 16:14 We build the kind of good content for these kind of people that you might put 16:17 on your own site as link bait. 16:22 I hate the word link bait. Stop using it. 16:24 But most of what you guys are considering "link bait" is actually better off done 16:27 in front of highly-engaged audiences. 16:31 But here's the rub—if you're not going to get that byline— 16:34 if you're not going to get that anchor text, the post needs to be about you. 16:37 It needs to be about you. 16:43 You can't do the kind of infographic where you're talking about 16:45 something fancy and it looks great, but no one knows it's you 16:49 unless it has that footer link. 16:52 So you need to get people to talk about you—digital PR. 16:57 And you know what we're doing? 17:01 We're doing digital PR and we're beating the PR agencies at their own game 17:03 because they haven't figured it out yet. 17:06 They're getting that, and they're moving fast. 17:08 And that's why we need to stay ahead of the game. 17:10 We need to be in front of those people to build relationships with these people— 17:12 these highly-engaged audiences. 17:15 One of the reasons that I love that we're able to get in front of these 17:17 highly-engaged audiences is that we know where they live. 17:19 Not that many of us actually have a marketing background. 17:25 We talk of ourselves as marketers, but not that many of us 17:32 have a marketing background. 17:34 We're musicians, poker players, coders, entrepreneurs, 17:36 —whatever it might be. 17:44 We have a weird, diverse set of backgrounds, 17:46 and not that many of us are marketers. 17:48 But the advantage that gives us is that we understand those weird niches, 17:50 those weird corners of the Internet. 17:55 I like getting coverage on the Huffington Post, but when you get coverage 17:58 on the Huffington Post, it often doesn't drive you that much traffic. 18:01 And that's why I'd rather go for this place. 18:05 I know about 4chan. I know about the weird forum in this niche that I'm researching. 18:07 I can find that. I can find the blog with the highly-engaged audience. 18:13 But in order to do this—in order to get that buy off from the clients, 18:17 we need to be smarter. 18:22 We need to start talking—excuse me Rand—about domain authority, 18:25 because we need to stop talking about the link. 18:31 I don't care if it's not a particularly powerful site. 18:33 If it has a highly-engaged audience, I want to get in front of it. 18:35 And we're good at understanding what level of content we need to create 18:39 to get in front of that audience. 18:44 But above and beyond all that, it takes time because content production 18:54 is a skill that most organizations need to learn. 19:01 Rand shared that great graphic from The Everywhereist. 19:06 It takes a long time. But you also not Geraldine. You're not that good at writing. 19:13 She had years of training as a writer before she even started her blog. 19:21 I haven't got the slide. But there's an e-book by Kapost—K-A-P-O-S-T— 19:28 if you just Google "Kapost e-book." 19:34 They did an e-book about content marketing, and they break down the resources 19:37 and the budget required to do content marketing in real situations 19:43 for different sized businesses. 19:46 And it's one of the best e-books that I've read in a long time 19:48 because it actually showed what it takes. 19:50 As an organization, what do you need to sign off on to get this done? 19:53 And the big take away for me for that was it takes 2 years. 19:58 On average it takes 2 years to equal the ROI of pay channels. 20:03 If you invested all that money you invested in content marketing and instead 20:13 put it in paid channels, it will take me 2 years to break even. 20:17 That's a long time. That's a real commitment a lot of businesses have to invest. 20:23 So what does that mean if your job is link building. 20:34 If your job is link builder—and I know many of you have that job title 20:38 and many of you have link builders in your organization. 20:41 How do you make the transition? 20:46 I think we have to start using the metrics of relationships instead of links. 20:50 We have to start measuring the value 20:58 that individual piece of content brings in terms of traffic— 21:02 and potentially conversions and so on and so forth. 21:07 It depends where you are in the funnel and what kind of content 21:09 as to the exact number of direct conversions. 21:11 But it should be driving engaged audience. 21:14 And we need to cut out the crap—cut out that tactical stuff that Rand was talking about— 21:19 cut out the stuff where you're doing it for the quick win, 21:24 because what you're talking about building is an asset. 21:27 There's a big myth as we move from SEO to inbound. We lose our heritage a little bit. 21:31 We lose those roots of being "organic." 21:37 It used to be organic versus paid, and it's much more subtle now. 21:42 What we need to do is we need to start investing in content. 21:46 We already invest in the actual content, but we don't invest in the outreach. 21:48 We don't invest in the promotion. 21:53 We need to get better at understanding the channels by which our content 21:55 can get in front of these people. 21:58 And we need to start investing in them. 22:00 So if you have a link-building team or if you are a link builder, you need budget. 22:02 Just like you need the budget to produce the content, you need the budget 22:07 to do the outreach. 22:11 This is the downside to having no slides—I forgot what I was going to say next. 22:23 Bear with me. Oh, yeah. 22:29 Here's the thing—I'm talking about creating content for highly-engaged audiences. 22:32 There's a direct corollary to that theory. 22:39 It's that that content only has to work for that one person. Again, this is where we win. 22:45 You look at the Seattle Children's Hospital video that Rand played. 22:54 You look at Dollar Shave Club—it has mass appeal. 22:57 Content for Tim Ferriss only has to work for Tim Ferriss. 23:01 So there's something that we've done at Distilled in our content process. 23:06 It's actually tip from Steinbeck—the author. 23:09 He talked about writing his books for a single individual. 23:14 Forget the madding hoards. Forget them. 23:20 Write it for one person, because you know damn well that if you 23:25 wrote it for that one person, they'll like it. 23:28 You nailed it. 23:33 You nailed that top to bottom experience of giving that content for that person. 23:35 And that's what we do within Distilled. 23:38 Let me give you a case study. We built an infographic. 23:40 We knew where we wanted it to go—Mashable. 23:45 The infographic was about social media. 23:47 So in this case we're not looking at Mashable as a distribution channel, 23:49 we're looking at Mashable as a target. 23:52 The highly-engaged audience is Mashable. 23:55 So what do we do? We build a relationship with somebody at Mashable. 23:58 And we ask them, "What do you want? 24:04 We have all this data, and we're going to build an infographic. What do you want?" 24:07 And they said, "Hey, well it would be nice if it was kind of like this," 24:10 and they were already interested in this—so we built it for them. 24:13 We showed it to them and they said, "Hmm—it doesn't quite fit what we want." 24:16 So we changed it, and we sent it back. 24:21 You don't have to worry about "launch." 24:26 You don't have to worry about, well if we change it for Mashable, 24:28 is it going to screw up this other thing over here? 24:32 It's only built for Mashable. 24:34 That Mashable post got 35,000 stumble-upon stumbles, 24:37 over 5,000 Facebook likes, and 179 linking root domains. 24:42 And it's about the client. It's about us. That's what we want. 24:49 We want to build that content about a highly-engaged audience. 24:54 So I've got a few minutes left. I want to talk about some theory of content marketing. 25:02 How many of you here know about Coke's Content 2020 vision? 25:08 All right. A few—a highly concentrated portion of people over on this side right at the front. 25:17 So I highly recommend you watch them. 25:24 It's 2 ten-minute videos from Coke talking about how their content marketing strategy 25:27 by 2020 is going to work. 25:30 It's insightful. It's informative. It doesn't mention SEO once. 25:33 And there's a lot of that that our industry can get involved with. 25:37 We can buy into a lot of what they're talking about. 25:39 They talk about highly-engaged audiences—finding those niches. 25:41 And there's a phrase in there that scares the shit out of me. 25:48 Through that content marketing strategy, they want to gain a disproportionate share 25:55 of popular culture. 26:00 A disproportionate share of popular culture. 26:02 Hmm. I really like Coke holding a disproportionate share of popular culture. 26:08 I kind of liked it when they did billboard ads, and I knew what was Coke. 26:15 TV ads—I know it's Coke. 26:20 But when they're running highly-engaged audiences online, 26:23 where do you draw the line? 26:27 It's a dangerous world out there. 26:31 And these are the people we're going to have to play against. 26:33 As we talk about content strategy, we need to bear in mind that there's content strategy 26:36 that we can do that these creative agencies—these PR agencies—aren't going to do. 26:42 Think about the example we just had from Jeff—building all those videos. 26:49 That's the kind of thing a creative agency struggles to get their head around. 26:54 Building a Q&A forum on your site to capture long-tail traffic— 26:58 that's the kind of thing a creative agency struggles to get their head around. 27:03 Building an audience of guest posters like SEOmoz did 27:08 with the SEOmoz's associates— 27:12 that's the kind of strategy they struggle to get their head around. 27:15 And that's the kind of strategy we should be owning as an industry. 27:18 Like I said, this works fine for those smaller companies. 27:23 But as we step above that, that's the kind of strategy that we should be talking about— 27:26 that we should hold our heads up high and be proud of owning. 27:30 And if we want to move into the creative-agency space— 27:34 into the ad agency, PR agency space—that's fine. 27:36 Do it. Go for it. 27:39 But we're going to run into them. 27:42 We're going to be trying to steal business from them, and that's dangerous. 27:45 So how do I end? Hmm. How do I end? 27:52 What do you guys want? What's going to change your mind? Where do we go? 28:02 Guest posting still works right now—even the way that you guys are doing it. 28:11 I'd go with that. 28:17 And I'd say that between Wil and Mike's presentation, you have all the tools you need 28:19 to pitch the content strategy that we believe in. 28:25 And I want to end with an idea of SEOmoz. 28:30 Mike ended his presentation with a content strategy of SEOmoz. 28:35 Sorry Mike—I didn't like it. Do you know why? It involved product. 28:40 His content strategy was, "Hey SEOmoz, go and build a better product." 28:47 How many of you have tried to pitch that to your clients? 28:52 Are we product consultants? Are we product-marketing consultants? 28:54 Yes, for small companies you can absolutely do those things. 28:58 But as you move higher up the food chain, they're just going to swat you away. 29:01 There's no way you have the authority or power to be recommending 29:05 that kind of change. 29:09 What should we be pitching for companies like SEOmoz is highly-engaged audiences? 29:11 What's going to make the difference for them is reaching out to people that aren't here. 29:15 Where does that audience hang out? I believe that audience is CMOs. 29:20 I think they could write content about CMOs and place it on communities 29:24 where CMOs hang out. 29:29 There's plenty of them—CMO Institiute, cmo.com. 29:31 SEOmoz doesn't really feature that very often. 29:36 And I think that's the kind of content strategy that we should be pitching. 29:39 Thank you very much. [applause] 29:43
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