MozCon 2012 – 28 – Rand Fishkin – How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy

ladies and gentlemen there's only a few of you in the room so I'm gonna try and urge those folks who are in the back you can hear me hey come on in also I assume I'm on video in the other rooms I would urge you I know that you have important work to do Mars I know that you guys are busy but this is a good great time to come in and and fill up the room we've got lots of empty seats because lots of folks have to leave early it for flights and that kind of stuff so there's lots of seating so if you're in one of the back rooms you should come on in you you don't need to be on Wi-Fi anyway I'm I'll give you a URL for all the slides Tom will do likewise you won't need it so come on in I'm sorry say again back to your folks yeah so a couple of things about that so the head-to-head format is one of the most exciting things that we do at Moscone and and the Distilled folks have also adopted it at their search love and link love conferences which we love it's very important that you be extremely honest in your voting so what we'll do is I'm gonna present to you for 30 minutes starting in just a couple minutes when everyone's in here Tom's gonna present for 30 minutes as well and afterwards we're gonna ask you for a show of hands as to who gave the better presentation and what I need you to do is judge the presenters on their merits right so you know if you if you work it distilled and you like Tom a lot and you know he's been wonderful to you that's great you need to put aside those biases and judge him on his merits and the same story is true with me right so if you think Wow well rain is all in all this other stuff no no nothing matters until the timer starts in this presentation begins okay that's the only thing that you should be voting on we you know we want to make sure that it's a very fair fight ah the format for the fight or the judging criteria for the fight are just three things the value that Tom and I provide to you personally and to your organization the value that you believe we've provided to the rest of the audience and the quality of the presentation in terms of its its delivery and its substance overall so those three things are the criteria and then I want to say just one word about Tom wolf well folks who are coming into the room so as many of you know Tom crow has been with distilled for for many years now I think more than five years and has helped the company grow tremendously distilled is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the English language market and around the world or for SEO consulting and and my hat is off to all of them and Tom has recently decided that he's leaving distilled he's moving on to Google I think he might mention it in his talk he was recruited very heavily I know the decision was tough for him and they had to persuade him with all sorts of things and I just want to say that Tom you where are you Tom hey buddy Tom has you've been my friend and my colleague for a long time and it means a tremendous amount to me how much you've supported us in our marketing coming and working at SEO Maas for those for those three four months helping in every way possible and I know you well I know your skills I know you personally and I just want to say that I think so highly of you I don't believe Google has done enough to deserve you whatever whatever they've done it's not enough it's not enough to deserve you that said there is one industry that does deserve you this one and I hope I hope that in the years to come you return to us I hope so and I'm sure Tom's gonna give an amazing presentation I am gonna start by saying in my presentation we can kick off the timer you can download it here at bitly Maas content strategy thanks to some last-minute work from Ruth thank you very much Naz content strategy I'm gonna go fast so don't try to take notes alright but all of this is available online at SlideShare publicly you can share it enjoy I see an unfortunate common story in fact I'm gonna tell you two stories but I want to start with this one right so this is the story begins with Homer reading about marketing is this all you know I need I need to acquire customers I must do marketing marketing is how I acquire customers all right let's try some search engines love search engines where people go to those sir engines key words are costing a fortune my god alright screw that SEO alright we'll get it for free oh so many free clothes huh time to get some links gotta get links if you want to rank alright good let's be cool cool people get to keep a white hat so we'll start with some article marketing ya know and then some guest blog a will do a little do follow comment some link outreach request we're only gonna submit to the high quality directories okay and it will sponsor some events and charities send some press release blasts get our partners to link over to us do some advertising right that leads to links whoa hey this this link building think it's really hard you know who has it easy bloggers bloggers just got lays pouring in for nothing but just is so easy alright alright I got it I got a content strategy blog I mean I'm on it let's start a block alright well you will do some cover graphics and displace everyone will watch some linkbait will get senior spear better goal can't go wrong but this is gonna be easier because all that effort only produced it a few links here few links there the blog posts aren't getting us anywhere alright screw this I'm outsourcing can't someone else do it someone else can do it yeah so you get some time and then the rank ease are kind of sitting there and some trouble on the horizon this happens a lot and I mentioned some some tactics in here I'll mention some taxes an x-ray that that aren't terrible that I that I wouldn't necessarily encourage you not to ever do but because it's tactical it's gonna fail let me show you another story because this is not a content marketing strategy not a content marketing strategy alright this one's also very common who you know content I'm a Matt Groening fan here so as you can tell great way to get traffic man we're raking in the traffic we make these graphics we make blog posts we make long-form articles some free calculators and tools how-to videos and they bring in lots of visits from search from social from all these other places just kind of kind of badass it's great social media they get shared all over the web but you know the problem is is the conversion rate sucks like all this content isn't isn't telling that the narrative story that's gonna get us to conversion in fact it's not converting our visitors into buyers now in the short term not a long tour we're just you're just not making it so we got to work on improving our conversion rate optimization right get that funnel better so let's make you know what let's make the calls to action more relevant but throw them up all over the site we'll get people dragged into the site will enforce email collection so if you want to access the coolest content you know get a give us your email address that way we can market to you later with the hypnotoad it's not great for user experience it really isn't right but it hurts the viral sharing they're not gonna share it as much but we have to have this content carry its weight I'm tired of this content freeloading right it's like the inbound team is just what are they doing man they're not they're not pulling in their conversions the way they're supposed to and what happens content that keeps cruising along a little bit you know it doesn't do quite as well engagement sharing on a drop a little the conversion rate goes up but only a tiny amount and total conversions are are falling somehow you see this with many organizations who invest in content marketing and then and then decide to reject it might decide that it wasn't a good strategy big brands in particular do this because this is not a strategy not a strategy a strategy does not mean getting together in a room and coming up with a list of content you think is gonna go viral that's that's not strategy it's not a list of tactics that you think are gonna earn you links it's not that's that's not strategy nor is it a list of influencers and publishers where you want to be mentioned places where I want to get to on the web I'm trying to reach these spots what is content marketing strategy it's tough it's tougher it's more subtle than we think I'm gonna go to my classic strategic slide sure many of you've seen it build a product create something hopefully something amazing right acquire customers profit classic the rub is that content marketing is a particular way of solving the customer acquisition problem and the strategy is the plan that's going to deliver those results that means backing way way up from a blog or or links or we're gonna do content marketing and asking yourself is content marketing really the way for us to do this and there are people for whom it's not true there might be people in this room who are like oh my god I i loved will Reynolds's talk I love my Kings talk I love these talk sign on content marketing and I'm so inspired and I want to go back and do content marketing and it might be the wrong decision it might be there might be better ways to reach your audience will give you a roadmap for determining this strategy and figuring out if it is the right thing you only have to answer a few questions just a few what are the ultimate goals what are we what are we trying to accomplish some marketing is designed to accomplish certain types of goals like customer acquisition some marketing I'm gonna speak to you a little bit later about some of our content marketing efforts and they are not designed to acquire customers in fact we have massive content marketing efforts right now that are designed for something completely different hire to recruit primarily in the software engineering field that can be a place where you go for a content marketing strategy you have to ask yourself why am I even investing in marketing what does marketing at this company do why does it exist acquiring customers is only one of the things that it might be but usually it's one of these four things its traffic its awareness traffic is is very very common when you have an advertising based business model even some leads based business models conversions very very common when you have an actual product to sell or something that you're trying to get or an email address you're trying to capture retention can be a part of what you're trying to accomplish you heard Joanna Lord up here earlier talking about how we have an entire retention strategy and a big retention cross team team across the company at Moz then ask what do I have to do to reach that goal who do I need to reach start with who and where are they who do I need to reach remember totally different audience if I'm trying to reach press in order to give us we've tried this as well reach the press in order to boost our company profile so that we'll have an easier time fundraising that's actually a strategic reason to use content marketing and where is that group they might be on on many of these social networks they might be searchers they might be classic old media users you have to reach them where they are they might be drivers I'm I'm not kidding you I have seen billboards that have a higher conversion rate than searches billboards in certain cities and they they know how many cars are driving past and they know what their rate of people going to the URL in the billboard is and it's better now granted these are like amazing billboards in just the right areas and all that kind of stuff but boo who or what is influencing this target group and what is the experience the the the end and brand experience the Britax perience I have to provide on the site in the message that I'm putting out across whatever channel I'm putting out across the experience that I provide in my product that's going to earn me familiarity likeability trust these are the three things that get people to take the actions we want them to take and keep them coming back that's what we're trying to do with a content marketing strategy and then secondarily on top of that as an almost like a sidebar a very very secondary sidebar what's gonna get me those metrics I need the links the shares the engagement the conversions right that the raw numbers and then once you have that mapped out you ask yourself what's the ROI of this channel what's the ROI of content marketing itself should I be putting it into content marketing should I be putting into social media marketing should I be putting into search marketing try putting it into paid or display whatever it is that you are investing in you have to ask yourself these same questions great answers are gonna give you a great strategy and from that strategy I can't tell you how beautiful and wonderful it is to be executing against a strategy that is well defined it's a fantastic thing let me give you a couple examples because this can seem a little theoretical and then I'll actually give you a checklist too so two examples does anyone recognize this anyone in the room recognize this can you raise your hand tom yeah great awesome so this is in Dana that's respectable it's 2 out of 810 this is from tableau software it's a chart that uses their unique data visualization software to show a fascinating fascinating case study it shows how long and at what rate companies that reach very very high numbers right of Revenue 50 million revenue how long it took them to get there and at what rate they grew so you can see these like very long lines they took took long out of time this is fascinating data this is kind of data that in fact will reach a very specific audience of particularly entrepreneurs right and so tableau has defined the things they need to do they know their goals what are we trying to do we're trying to build awareness and acquire customers for tableau software who are they they're business analysts they're entrepreneurs they're big data users they're Excel junkies where are they they read the press a lot of them read the press and are not exposed because they're not actively searching out solution they don't even know that they need this solution some of them are but not all of them so the blogosphere and the tech news sphere and old media is gonna be really important who are the influencers well the big one I mean a big one if your tableau is the Wall Street Journal and in fact what this is it's a case study that they did specifically for the Wall Street Journal and they'd let the journal launch it first to show how effective their software is at mapping this stuff and all they asked for was kind of the bike read the byline this is the most the furthest thing you could imagine from kind of the classic SEO world right this is working with press this is working with PR people to create relationships to show off something in an old media publication but it's a genius content marketing strategy and then they know the experience they need to provide they need to provide that beautiful usable UX that's interactive so that people can take off like show me all the companies let me zoom in on the map here on the graph give me some meaningful insights and then they do an ROI comparison against boy it's is there any way that we could achieve this same result for less effort nope nope brand advertising – shotgun – expensive no way to reach all the same people and by the way if you're in the Wall Street Journal with ads day after day after day people might know your name but they'll never have the same association that they have when you show this chart it's so memorable they literally haven't had to do a ton of follow-up that's how effective it is second one very tiny small business I like this example a lot urge you to check it out when you go download the slide deck it's an illustrated guide to criminal law it's on a tumblr block it is hard to find through search because this particular attorney who put this together would who did a great job respect to him but it's it's not very findable it was very socially shared but not very findable and this attorney realized something unique you realized that building awareness in the NYC criminal attorney field is a matter of referrals that referrals are the primary method by which people who have committed crimes or have been accused of committing crimes soon wanna say every nobody not everybody in New York is guilty until proven innocent uh how many how do they find people they find them through referrals they ask their friend right ask their friends who should I go to and so he knew that in order to create a presence he's gonna build something up that's gonna be a universal resource is gonna be shared all around and this comic is fantastic it really is finally after reading it I was like oh that's what entrapment means you will have the same experience if you go and read it you'll be like oh it's the movies fascinating so he knows he needs to reach social blogosphere press a little bit of search here and there right he wants to get some links and some awareness in tensioning and rank and the influencers are primarily gonna be Facebook friends and colleagues and family right oh no I'm in trouble dad I got picked up by the cops I know who to call all this guy who made these comics no seriously and the experience right is enjoyable to read and it's easy to get through as high-quality and it's very very good information very high-quality information the ROI comparison is that paid search right which is another way or or local which would be another way to get people to your small business your local attorney website would be a very very expensive I'm sure you can all imagine what the PPC is on NYC attorney and I see criminal attorney and it's not gonna reach the right audience you're gonna get the bottom feeders for many of you who are in the SEO industry or in the online marketing industry in general right and you've ever tried to rank for those keywords I remember for a while SEO Moz ranked number two and number three for a little bit for like SEO services SEO consulting SEO consulting company mostly you know geo-located to Seattle maybe sometimes the US I can tell you that the the leads who came through there are the folks who don't know anyone they're not sophisticated because they don't know anyone who knows anyone in the industry I hate because then they'd go that direction which is which is usually a far higher quality experience and if you do those searches today as well Reynolds has pointed out numerous times the results are a little sketchy so here's the checklist I promised you a check you could literally take this and apply the information I provided and this will get you a strategy if you have great answers to these questions this is the goal right that that I want you to have a strategy and I want you to know when you invest in content that it's the right way to reach the right people so we need I've I have five recommendations I'm going to show you one example a more example at the end you want to improve the content marketing a value that you're getting from content marketing my number one tip here is invest for a long ROI I have a friend here in Seattle his name's Dan Shapiro he recently sold a company called spark buy to Google he came and spoke at the Moz Plex for those mothers who were there great entrepreneur fantastic I just been a great friend a great colleague I was about to write a book with him and I couldn't do it I just couldn't come into it and he's writing it now it should be very exciting and one of the things that Dan loves to talk about is how 50% of his time 50% of the time that he spent his at his company was doing a single task that he called creating serendipity creating a chance that one weird off chance that this person that I'm gonna have coffee with now is gonna be incredibly helpful to my business two three four or five years from now and so he took tons and tons of these coffees that produced no real value he would give his insight and experience and help he would fly to conferences which takes a long time right out of a CEOs day to fly to a conference to take all this time off of work to not have access to the Wi-Fi to not be helping your team to be on the road to potentially meet that one person have that one snippet of influence at very frankly I love this advice and I invest in it all the time myself I fly like crazy I I write a ton I I do a lot of things that are not directly beneficial to SEO Mazdas business in order to create serendipity but the only way you can invest in serendipity is if you invest for the long-term so this this is one of my very favorite slides I absolutely love it because this is actually a snapshot of my wife Geraldine's travel blogs traffic and what's amazing here is that she had a little bit of success the first couple of months that she launched it and then the traffic flatlined she was blogging every single day and her posts in my opinion you can go back and read them but they're just as good as the ones that are coming out way way over here way over there they are they're just as good so what is it because most people would end the blog here right they'd have a little bit of success it would go back down to normal and they'd say it's been a year and a half nothing is happening here's what happens if you let nothing happen for long enough and you stick with it anyway you guys all know the story of SEO Moz right that that for six years Jillian and I did nothing but go into horrific debt that we were as unsuccessful as you can imagine not just unsuccessful unsuccessful is like your revenue is low our revenue was negative like we are staying in business and we are losing money while we stay in business and yet we keep going to work this is the definition of a crazy person insane but sticking with it having that five year ROI does the trick number two whenever you're thinking about your content strategy and whoever those people are who are influencing the audience you need to reach consider rather than targeting them saying how do I get them to write about it how can I involve them well think about the example I just showed with tableau software they didn't say how can I get the Wall Street Journal to write about me they said how about I give them something that's going to get them thousands and thousands of pageviews literally it's one of their most linked to pages on the was one of their most linked through pages on the Wall Street Journal they redirect the URL so many times that I can't keep up I'm sure alex is doing a good job of keeping them under control now but this is the internet defense league project I got an email from them six months before they ever launched the project asking if I would be a participant in helping to build not-not-not a way to defend against things like SOPA and PIPA but rather the bat-signal of the Internet can you imagine you get an email that says will you help build the bat-signal of the internet hell yeah I will um yes please I'll take two of those so super cool that we weren't one of the featured companies but we are one of the supporters and so are a lot of other foundry investment companies number three good artists borrow but great artists steal do not be afraid to take the insight that you see from others and simply do things better so if there's a great strategy out there and you're worried but people have seen it before I can't tell you how many examples have people shown during this conference up on this stage and said have you seen this and the only people who raise their hand we're you know a handful of folks in the audience and maybe some of the speaker's we think we get in our brain that oh well up I've seen it everyone's seen it nope you can steal you can steal very effectively one of my favorite places is highly tactical one of my favorite places to steal is from the media because the media is just trying to drag eyeballs that they're not creating that branding experience that you can create this is a fantastic calculator for well it's a mediocre calculator for plugging in some variables and seeing what your a height and weight distribution your body mass index is compared to lots of other people all around the world and of course I saw it on Twitter and I'm like how are they I know I shouldn't try it but I have to try it how am i doing right like I've been losing weight putting on pounds it's not great right there's a bunch of flaws with it rebuild it you have the technology this is this is a great graphic what I what I hate are complex infographics that go on forever what I love are very simple ones that tell a story immediately look at this and tell me the story it's telling you you see Africa see China and the United States and India and Europe all fitting in my god I don't think until I ever saw I saw this map that I ever had any idea how big that continent is fantastic you've opened my eyes you've done a great job this one's really simple do you have anything that's that fits inside other it works right clearly works number four I want you to expand your idea of what content means you are probably extremely familiar with blog posts and articles and educational resources and video and slide acts and animations in photos yeah that's content Oh API is in platforms yeah that's it that's kind of an interesting form of content the boring pages on your site the 404s shout out to Will and Duncan it to still to have I think in the top five four or four pages on the web comments comments on other people's sites right here's all my disgust comments I plan on making that get a lot bigger news did you guys see the funding announcement for SEO Mose Perl almost certainly saw it I was it was very exciting yes but what Brad said I agreed to put in the 18 million dollars because they let me put the word in a press release that's right that was literally his quote for the press when he was on the press call for all the journalists that's what he said it appeared in the Seattle Times they had to edit it out right because they can't they can't print what Brad had to say so awesome this is news but it's its content is another foundry company this is from full-contact whose api was talked about earlier today earlier yesterday and and is a fantastic company and their content is their vacation time because said they said paid vacation isn't cool what's cool is a paid paid vacation meaning we pay you to go on vacation if you agree to disconnect completely from the company for an entire seven days we will pay up to seven seventy five hundred dollars towards your vacation only if you agree not to check your email what it isn't that the I thought startups was what way to go way to go that's content your workspace can be content and ours really is in fact ours a is a content with it is content with a very specific strategy our strategy is we need to recruit great people Seattle as a competitive market and our office has to be incredible our next office is going to be compared this Moz con – Moz con 4 years ago that's what our next office has to be compared to this one because very frankly you know Google is offering between fifty and a hundred thousand dollars more than we can possibly pay engineers and so this is a very challenging right physical goods can be content all right a lot of content ideas advertisements can be content they they so know me I think endo Chino did what Marty Wine travel I think they worked with him because they know me so well let me show you how well they know me can you zoom the camera in very close on me do you see they know me I saw this ad on the web I wasn't even looking for a suit now completely cheating but I tweeted at them and they invited me up to think so when I'm in Vancouver I'm gonna go by their offices and buy a crap ton of suits probably content marketing I promise you the slide would be back right my last final tip number five choose short men and tall women I wrote about this in my blog that I launched recently and I'm sure many of you read about it I want to explain the concept because it can be difficult to grasp this is data from okay trends right they have one point I think at the time that they ran this they had about 1.2 million active users on the site messaging each other dating hooking up all that kind of great stuff red are women blue or men and you what you can see here is the unsolicited messages per week by height what is the same this is saying that tall men get disproportionately large numbers of messages unsolicited from women on the dating site and short men get massively disproportion look at that this is what I'm urging you to do not just in business not just in mark in all of your life I have no better life tip at this time than to tell you to choose short men I'm serious what happens is no no listen what happens is we unfairly bias against artificial things think about yourself right so let's say you're a young woman right now and you're you're 25 years old and you're searching for mating you go on – okay trends you have a bunch of criteria criteria that you can't really express I want someone who's smart and who's funny and who's cute and who will care about me and who will support me in my life like I you know I'm looking for it for a long-term partner here I almost guarantee you that you will have far better success if you bias to saying I'm gonna look for the guys who are very short then if you look for the ones who are very tall you will you will have more success if you do this in business and in marketing you will have fantastic success as well if you invested in SEO in a phenomenal sort of white hat inbound marketing strategy strategic way in 2001 when nobody else was you would be IMDB it would own your vertical no one even can touch you they can't get close to you find those elements today find the short men you will win all right last I'm gonna end with a video this is one of my favorite content marketing examples because they do so many of these things absolutely right they've built their this is Seattle Children's Hospital local charity we've been supporting them for many years consulting with their team I think Gerard Cavalli's and and Steven are you guys both here they used to work at Seattle Children's on the on the web team on the SEO strategy team fantastic phenomenal guys started their own agency now and you can see right who are they trying to influence they're trying to influence northwest families and potential donors right where are they going to do it not through search I mean search is great they can get some traffic to the site they can they can help you belong but really it's gonna be press it's gonna be broadcast types of media display types of media and they're influencers are going to be places like Seattle journalists the mainstream media friends and family what they have to deliver is an experience that's emotional and positive and completely uncontroversial the ROI comparison is that brand advertising is an option and children's invests in it today in fact if you go to Westlake Center which is just a couple blocks from here you will see a big Seattle children's pavilion they're doing all sorts of branding advertising but I think this is their most powerful marketing piece ever let's watch it so I I have some contact with the folks at Seattle Children's and so what I'd like to do win or lose regardless I would like to encourage all of you to test this let's do some testing let's see how effective this video really is today sometime before midnight if you would like go to Seattle Children's website you can make a donation from their homepage hey I know it's sad and and whatever the Delta is on what's donated on an average day versus today geraldine and i will match that you

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