Content Marketing with Corey Post

by Jonathan Goodman on March 23, 2014

Jonathan Edward Goodman

Hi. This is Jonathan Goodman. Welcome to another episode of the World of Internet Marketing. Today we are talking to Corey Post about maximizing content marketing. Corey is the founder of Agile Leverage, a firm that helps small to medium-sized businesses dominate their market though engaging content. Corey has an illustrative career spanning all the way back to AOL in the early 90s and Legal Zoom in the 2000s to now owning and operating Agile Leverage.

Corey has spoken at SES Chicago and Internet Summit among other conferences. And he’s written for KISSmetrics, AWeber and FeedFront Magazine. I met Corey when he was speaking at Affiliate Summit East last year. Welcome Corey.

Corey: Thanks Jonathan.

Jonathan: Are you going to be speaking at Affiliate Summit East this year?

Corey: I may be.

Jonathan: Good. Well, we’ve got a lot to cover on this topic of content marketing. Let’s get our listeners up to speed.

Content Marketing

Jonathan: What is content marketing and how does it differ from what we always think of as search optimization?

Corey: There’s definitely an overlap there and certainly SEO will have link-building and making sure your code is optimized and it has a function of content of course. But it really gets into providing value from the content itself and gets less into link building. Link building is certainly a function of content marketing, but also providing value for users and having metrics associated with that. And really when you do your content – this is kind of a roundabout definition – but you really want to understand who you’re targeting, why you’re targeting them and the goals of your content to create that value for people.

Jonathan: That’s great. So if I’m a small business and I’ve had a web site for 5 or 10 years maybe, why do I now need a content strategy?

Corey: For starters, it’s getting really competitive. It’s always been competitive, but as Google continues to do updates, it becomes really difficult to get seen, especially if you’re going to search engines and certainly PPC is expensive. So you really want to create content for people and earn your position in the search engines. So as to your question, search is getting very noisy. There’s a lot of content available, a lot of bad content and a lot of good content. You want to figure out how can I create value for my users so when they come to my site, they’ll return. Maybe they’ll link to it. Maybe they’ll opt into an email list because of the value. But you really want to tell your brand story and communicate that story in a way that says that we can solve a problem you might have or help them in some way, our business guys are experts in this. Look at our content and you see exactly why we’re experts at this.

Jonathan: And I think one of the things that industry has kind of changed on is this idea that we’re going to blast everybody with a ton of content making major pages on our website and always hitting the market with sometimes nonsense content. But now it’s really critically important to work on high value, unique content. Is that right?

Corey: Yeah, absolutely. And part of that is really understanding your audience. You should really segment your audience and figure out what their needs are. Even across geography. Somebody on the East coast may have different needs from somebody on the West Coast and maybe use different search terms. Really understand what people’s problems are, how to solve them, understanding your demographics, understanding what they’re trying to buy. If they’re in a research phase, what phase they’re in. And really kind of getting into knowing who your reader is.

Jonathan: So is it less about the keyword in the content and more about specifically focusing on a market and a client, let’s say segmentation? Is there a difference now? Or how does that work.

Corey: That’s a good point. You’ve been around the business a long time like I have and you probably remember when everyone was saying get your keyword density at 2%. Make sure you put it in the headline. Make sure you put it in the first paragraph and the last paragraph. All that kind of bloats stuff and is not really the way to go now. Now you want to look for great value for people. Certainly you want to look at keywords. Keyword research is really important. You can still look at what kind of traffic a keyword is getting. Look for long tail opportunities. Certainly keywords help in your rankings. And it also helps you to direct your content. You want to really understand what people are searching for and use those as clues or hints to figure out what kind of content you’re going to prepare, what kind of infographics you’re going to prepare or even what kind of videos you’re going to prepare. So certainly keywords make a difference. It’s interesting to your other point about SEO. Now we have keyword not provided, which has been coming on for a while. It makes it a lot harder to really understand your unique keywords for your site, so you really have to go in a roundabout way with using keyword tools and looking at where you rank. Keywords are still important. We just look at it more for intent now. And you really have to figure out a way triangularly to figure out exactly what people are looking for.

Jonathan: Right. We talked about this last week with Danny Dover about the fact that in the Google Analytics, you really don’t see any of the keywords that we used to really know when somebody clicked through what keyword they were previously searching on. That has all radically changed. Yes, I have been in the industry for a very long time and I’ve seen radical changes. And this seems to be Google laid down Panda and Penguin and also advised us in terms of user generated content (we’ll talk about that a little later) and spam filters and all that. They’ve done a very good job at pushing us into a corner while educating us in how they really want us to behave.

Corey: Sure. Absolutely. To your point about all these updates particularly with keyword not provided, it makes it less than pure SEO where I’m going to find out what keywords historically I’m ranking for and increase my ranking. I’m going to move you onto the first page for a buy keyword or research keyword to now we don’t really see the keywords. So it becomes even more about content and creating a user experience for somebody. Where it’s providing value both for the customer and for the client as an agency through the content creation.

Jonathan: Let’s back up for a second. You mentioned long-tail keywords. I think that some of my audience doesn’t really understand what that means. Could you explain that?

Corey: Sure. Long-tail keywords might be something like ‘tents’. And the more terms you add to it – camping tents, red camping tents – you really get deep into the users intent when they’re searching. So consequently, the benefits of long-tail keyword is you’re more targeted often easier to compete for, which allows you to rank a little bit easier, although today it’s difficult to rank for even long-tail keywords. But the real benefit other than ranking is getting in the user’s head. That really helps you for your content creation as well. Because when you look at the long-tail keywords, creating content around long-tail ideas specifically catering to somebody’s needs creates a real opportunity for particularly the small and mid-sized business without a lot of resources.

User Generated Content

Jonathan: Let’s move into the user generated content, which we really talk about as UGC. That’s the abbreviation. What is user generated content?

Corey: A real good successful example of that is Amazon product reviews. One of the moats that Amazon has around it, you go to research a product and Amazon is often the first place you go because other people write about that experience, that product. Users vs. sales people will review it and give you their thoughts. Ironically, some of those reviews I would imagine – I’m not saying this what Amazon does this – can be created by sales people. But generally speaking, you can go there and understand user’s intent. That’s one example of user generated content. Another example is contests when people fill out and write up a paragraph about something. We can talk about that in a bit. But basically user generated content is getting your reader to contribute, from forums to chat to even when people email you. That’s a form of user generated content too when they email you about a question about your product. Anytime a user vs. a sales person or the company. Somebody who doesn’t have a vested interest in the actual sale of the product or who is not a stakeholder of the company. When somebody like that creates content for you, that’s UGC.

Jonathan: In terms of the email, I think that’s interesting. I think a lot of our listeners might be questioning the usage of that email. Can you explain that to us?

Corey: Sure. We create FAQs on our site to explain and better sell a product and offer value. So people understand going back to the camping tent analysis, you might have FAQs on how to set up the tent, how to waterproof the tent. But a lot of times people won’t really understand the instructions. Or if they have a further question, like is this tent good in snow if I’m doing winter camping? How many people does this tent fit? They’ll email you questions. And those are questions that are user generated content just like in a help forum. And you can take those questions, with the users permission of course, put them on your site and now you have FAQs generated by user and that creates a huge amount of value. So when I say email, it’s really kind of a one-to-one communication with your buyer who is talking to you about their product. The way you can optimize that is get their permission and use it on your site.

Jonathan: That’s amazing because it really goes beyond just what we would immediately think of as e-commerce. It could go for anything from service providers like contractors and lawyers and dentists. Service providers get these questions all the time. It could be in a one-to-one conversation. And if they just wrote it down. What do they say? When one person complains, 100 people hear it. And when one person gives a positive thank you, five people hear it. So it’s that same kind of thing where somebody asks a question, then you probably have multiple people asking that same question, but they’re nervous to. Or they don’t know how to ask the question.

Corey: Absolutely. The questions are good, right? They give you information about what your buyer or your prospect is thinking and it gives you an opportunity to create a relationship. To really facilitate that, put a forum on your site, not just an email me one, but a forum on your site that maybe prompts people through the questions and answers. And have a human being answer and connect with them. It creates a connection with that person. It gives the person the opportunity to not sell them, but to educate them on what the value is and through that, create a relationship. Then if you have a good relationship with that person, maybe they’ll review your product for you.

Jonathan: And sometimes when those questions come in, they can actually be long and detailed enough to be an entire article unto itself, right?

Corey: That’s a very good point, yes.

Jonathan: That’s great. So we’ve got reviews, we’ve got questions, and you mentioned forums. That seems like a very ‘90s thing to me. Does that still happen?

Corey: Yeah, it’s probably a function of my AOL background when I first started out. But certainly people get on forums and special interest groups to discuss things. Going back to the camping analogy, camping enthusiasts might go to a membership site. And get in there, have a profile, talking about their interest. People go back and forth and really share ideas about a subject or a passion.

Jonathan: Last week, we talked about writer’s block. If you’re on a forum, if you’re maintaining a forum for either a volunteer organization or for camping or for some type of specialty group and there’s a conversation taking place and information being passed back and forth, that too can allow your content generators to think of great ideas for articles.

Corey: Absolutely. One of the best qualities of a marketer is the ability to listen. And listening means really getting out there and understanding what people are talking about in their sphere. That keyword idea. What keywords they’re using in actual language, what they’re writing about, what their problems are, what their pain points are and finding ways to help people move forward using your product or service.

Jonathan: But I almost wonder. As I’m sitting here listening to you, I’m wondering if I’m limiting this conversation by wrapping everything into the thought that it needs to be an article. Obviously, the FAQs is one thing, but is there another way to produce great content for your website? Let me rephrase that. Is there another thing that you can do to produce great content for your website?

Corey: Absolutely. Certainly articles are one thing, universal search and video. Getting out there and creating multimedia formats and content. So you have a variety of areas. You have video, of course. YouTube. You have slides. SlideShare. Create a PowerPoint. Put it up on SlideShare. Embed it on your site. That’s an opportunity to leverage Slideshare’s audience. Articles as you mentioned. FAQs is another. Newsletters. Infographics are popular, although they may be getting a little overused now. But still, there’s just an opportunity holistically to communicate beyond just the article. And that gets into another point that I think might be interesting to discuss, which is repurposing content. You take a seed of content like this interview. You can take this interview and transcribe it. Now you have the semblance of an article that can be indexed by Google search. You can create a podcast out of it because you have the audio. It’s almost like taking a meal or the leftovers from Thanksgiving and repurposing it to other kinds of food items for later. Really just kind of look at repurposing as another way to get more mileage out of the initial content creation. And that means you would need to have other forms of content beyond the text.

Jonathan: As many of my listeners know, this podcast or videocast, as we like to call it, is actually a 10-step process. This is where we start and it goes through all the mediums. We pull the mp3 from the YouTube. We’ve discussed this before. Everybody is sick of hearing this, so I’m not going to go through it, but it’s a 10-step process that really allows us to create an enormous amount of content. Press releases, we go back into YouTube with the transcription and the whole nine yards.

Contest Marketing

Jonathan:  I met you through Affiliate Summit East when you were talking about contest marketing. How does contest marketing fit into content marketing?

Corey: What I love about contest marketing – a lot time people think about the contest from the end user point of view and what price can I win? – but as a marketer, you should look at it as an opportunity to not only relate to your audience, but give the audience the ability to create content for your site. So you could have a contest around, uploading a photo of you camping and the best photo sent in wins. People vote on it. All of a sudden, you have a variety of photos. You could make a video and put it up on your site. Create a gallery through WordPress that people could look at and index. You could do multiple images. You can create a ton of content by giving people a window and an opportunity to create. Provide incentives for them by creating a prize that’s related to your product or service. As I talked about at Affiliate Summit, you don’t want to just give away an iPad unless you’re a technology company, in which case, you probably don’t want to give away Apple’s technology. But maybe let’s say, for example, that you own an app. Maybe you want to give away the iPad with the app installed. But you generally want to stay away from the iPads because then you’re going to get iPad hunters. You really want to give away products or services that relate to your product or service. Certainly, one way to do that is time. You and I both consult, so one prize that we could give would be a free SEO audit to the person who submits the best SEO tactic to our site. So really relate it. That way, you’re getting people who are actually interested in your product or service creating content for you. And you can create relationships with people who are really interested in what you do and are in the market that you’re trying to service.

Jonathan: I definitely hear you that if you own an auto body shop, you shouldn’t be giving away an iPad.

Corey: No. I’m not a car guy, but I imagine a free car detail or something like that would make a lot more sense. Particularly a lot of that is labor, right? So your cost of goods sold is a lot lower when you’re factoring labor into a price and people think, hey, I’m going to win a free car detailing at Dave’s Auto Body Shop. All of a sudden, you’ve got people talking about Dave’s Auto Body Shop with the words ‘car detailing.’ People write about it, they tweet about it, there’s an opportunity to rank for that term locally particularly. And holistically it helps you in search, it helps you in social. People when they create content, they tweet about it. They put it on Facebook. They want to brag about it. They want to show their friends. People rightly so are proud of what they write and what they say and user generated content, particularly related to a user generated content contest gives people the opportunity to share their creation and their thoughts with their friends and family.

Jonathan: That’s excellent. One of the things I recently did was I signed up for a Woobox account. And I’ve been testing out this contest stuff. Do you think Woobox and these merged easy-to-use platforms are the right way to go? What’s your advice in terms of that?

Corey: I do contests for clients. And I like to do customized contests because I feel like anytime you have something that’s readily available for everybody else, like SEO for example. You can hear Matt Cutts railing about this all the time and why we “can’t have anything nice in SEO.” Anytime something is readily available through a turnkey solution, it gets abused and the value of it gets overused. And its effect go down. So something like that I think works for a while, but eventually the value of it isn’t great and you really want to have custom solutions. It can be a little bit more expensive, but the rewards can be immensely greater.

Jonathan: You 100% own that entire built contest, right? So you’re not sharing the data with like a Woobox, if that’s what they do.

Corey: Yeah. And also you create a system that you can repeat for other prizes and other ideas. And from a consulting point of view, that’s a great opportunity that lends value to the client. You create a system. Here’s how they should enter their contact info and here’s how we’re going to judge a contest. Here’s how we’re going to give away the prize. Here’s how we’re going to announce the prize. It’s like a fingerprint. Nobody else is going to be doing what you’re doing because it’s a unique, custom solution and through that unique, custom solution, you’ll earn links, shares, tweets and you’ll get a lot of value for your business in the long run.

Jonathan: Yeah, I had a lot of problems with it. I kept it up for two months and then I wasn’t able to. This isn’t meant as a slam to Woobox. I think it does work well for what some people need or what some of my clients might need. But what I found was that when you really sat down with marketing and you really understood what they were trying to do, that easy solution of Woobox just didn’t fit into what really needed to be created. Part of it is that if you expand beyond that, you can offer so much more to the potential contestants. You can offer them so much more. You can allow them to go onto YouTube and create a video, you can do photos, you can do whatever it is. And then adding in Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and all those places where they can spread the message really allows you to control the contest and push it through social media as much as you want to.

Corey: Absolutely.

Jonathan: Now how does a small company launch a successful contest marketing campaign?

Corey: One of the challenges I think with small companies or really any companies, but particularly small companies, is their resource constraint. If you’re an auto body shop, you’re most likely working on cars or if you’re managing customers, it’s really hard to run a contest. So it’s always good to get third party advice on something like that. But generally speaking, assuming you have the resources to do it, just as in content marketing because contest marketing is a function of content marketing. I mean, a contest is content, but you’re user generated content, really trying to figure out your goals. What are your goals in this contest? You want to figure out KPIs. Because if you don’t have KPIs as your goal, you’ll know if you’ve succeeded. And if you don’t know if you’re succeeding, you don’t know if you have something that you can replicate or something that you want to replicate. So figure out what your KPIs are. For some people, its leads, meaning email addresses, phone numbers. For other people, it could be links. It could be page views. It could sales, although I generally don’t like to go off of sales for a contest simply because I want to use the contest to develop relationships with people, as well as build a library of content. It could be the number of submissions and the quality that get indexed by Google. So figure out your KPIs and your goals. That’s the first step really, as you know, with any marketing program, including contests. Figure out how you’re going to measure those KPIs. Do you have a way? Do you have Google Analytics? Do you have a thank you page? A goal page? Do you have a way to track? Because you can’t measure if you’ve met your KPIs or your goals. So that’s the first of two things I do. And then as a function of your KPIs, maybe one KPI is to get a lot of user engagement of content. So a goal could be content submissions or photo submissions if I’m running a photo site. Maybe I’m a camera guy and I want to get panoramic photos. So I could have the number of photos submitted, original content photos, as something that is a big KPI for me. Figure out a way for people to upload technically those photos. And then you want to get into the messaging. How do you communicate the value of these contests? Or even if this contest exists. Are you going to buy ads in Facebook? Are you going to tweet about it? Do you have people on Facebook you can push to organically? Best of all, do you have an email list that you can push out to and let people know? When people come into your store, your camera shop or your auto body shop, how are you going to tell them about the contest? Are you going to have a flyer? Figure out how you’re going to promote it. That’s something else that is really important. How long is the contest going to run? I think you had mentioned a couple of months or so. One of the things I found is that with a long-term contest, people hesitate and they forget about you. Too short of a period doesn’t give people enough time to create something. If you’re asking people to create a video and you only give them two days, you’re not going to get enough submissions and you’re not going to get enough quality. So anecdotally, I’ve found a couple of weeks to be a good timeframe. People feel like its enough time to do a quality job and conversely it gets across this idea that I’ve got to get moving soon. I once ran a contest at LegalZoom where users could submit a video about how LegalZoom helped them form a will or incorporate. And we did a lot of cool user generate videos. So one of the things I really like in contests is videos. The reason I like videos is, one, you can put it on YouTube; two, you have the ability to transcribe it; and three; I think videos are very engaging for users. So that’s another thing I would look at. Figure out if you’re doing a content contest, what kind of content you want. Videos are a great way to do it. Then the other thing I think you should do is figure out how you’re going to announce the winner. Just giving away a prize is certainly utilitarian, but make a big deal out of it. When somebody wins something, they’re excited. So give them an opportunity or a platform to talk about it. Interview them. Tweet about it. Have them do a video. Have them do a podcast. Awarding somebody a prize is a huge opportunity to one, promote the person, but also promote your company as an extension of you’ve allowed somebody to become winner. That’s a fantastic feeling for your audience and for the person that you’re awarding the prize to.

Jonathan: And from your side, hopefully you’re pushing out a press release and doing a lot of marketing behind it. But it really isn’t the type of thing even if you’re a small business to wake up in the morning and say ‘I’m going to do a contest.’ There’s a lot of hard work that goes in almost really the month or so before. Depending upon the size of the contest, you sometimes need to plan this thing out.

Corey: You’re absolutely right. Certainly there’s legal involved. You want to make sure you’re following all of the state laws. You want to make sure that you have a technical stuff. The first thing you want to do is say, hey, we’re having a video contest. Upload your video. When people go to upload and the pages doesn’t work. That’s a really bad experience for the user and it looks really bad for the company. So you want to make sure that technically you’re sound. You want to make sure that you’re very clear about how you’re going to choose a winner. And all this goes into your planning. What you don’t want to happen is for people to come back and say, I won that contest. For example, you might say whoever gets the most votes wins. Then you have somebody come in and figure out a way to scam it and create 1,000 votes using some IP funnel. All of a sudden, you have a legitimate winner and somebody that you know has all these phony votes. So who are you going to award the prize to? You want to give it to the legitimate winner. But now you’ve given somebody a real opportunity to talk about in the social media that they’ve won this contest and they weren’t awarded the prize. So you want to be really clear about how the winner is going to be determined. And that all goes into pre-planning that can take a month or two in advance of the actual contest.

Jonathan: I just want to back up again. Because we have such a diverse community that listens to the show, can you explain KPIs?

Corey: Yeah. Those are Key Performance Indicators. KPIs are what you actually look at to judge success. Particularly in marketing. Many times you want to make it quantifiable. Something that has to deal with a number or something that can be measured. That’s what a KPI is.

Four for Friday – Questions Everyone is Asked

Jonathan: At that end of the show, we always do my Four for Friday.  We do four questions for Friday. So I’m going to hit you with these questions and you’ll give your best answer. What’s your idea of perfect Internet happiness?

Corey: Perfect Internet happiness. For me, its user generated content. I love creating sites for clients and myself where people are involved and invested and have an opportunity to create a community. So for me, Internet happiness is being part of a community or creating a community.

Jonathan: What is your greatest Internet regret?

Corey: Probably not buying Coke.com 20 years ago.

Jonathan: Well, if you had bought Coke.com, they probably would have sued you.

Corey: Right. No. My biggest Internet regret, certainly you never can pick the winners beforehand, but being part of Facebook for an IPO would be a really exciting opportunity. I would say something like that.

Jonathan: But you legitimately were part of AOL during the height of AOL, right?

Corey: Yeah. I was part of AOL and part of another company that had an IPO. But I think it would be really exciting to be part of a social media company during the current age and feel what that is like and what that energy is like.

Jonathan: What do you consider your greatest Internet achievement?

Corey: That’s a really good question. Writing a contest for LegalZoom was a lot of fun where users submitted video. So I would certainly say that was one of them. I got to see a lot of videos about how people incorporated, how a will protected their family and you really got to see user generated content up front through videos for a major brand. So that was really exciting for me. I would say that was one of them. I’d say the other one is really quite frankly a lot of us have come through hard knocks and testing and trying and finding out what works and what doesn’t work. So I’d say developing a knowledge base over the last 10 years has been very exciting for me just through pure testing and data analysis.

Jonathan: I agree to that point. It’s been such an incredible ride over these past 20 years for me. You would never think how quickly the Internet has expanded to include almost every aspect of our lives at this point. To have been in that and be in that now is exciting. Even in Internet marketing, even in optimization, there’s such a radical change from what was done even four years ago. It’s remarkable.

Corey: Absolutely.

Jonathan: What is your favorite Internet book?

Corey: The World of Internet Marketing.

Jonathan: I always preface this question by saying that people can’t say my book or their book.

Corey: You know, frankly I don’t really read Internet books. Mostly I read blogs, like SEO Book, KISSmetrics. I really like the immediacy of articles that have to do with something that is a real current topic. So actually everything I have is either on a Kindle. I guess those are books, but I don’t really read books about the Internet.

Jonathan: Back up a second. You said KISSmetrics. That’s a news website?

Corey: Yeah, KISSmetrics is an Internet marketing solution, but they have a really good blog that’s really interesting to go read. Certainly Moz delivers its Top 10 each week where you can look at some good stories about what people have done. I really like that. SEO Book has a really good blog, as well as a community, although you have to pay for the community.

Jonathan: Is SEO Book Aaron Wall?

Corey: Yeah, Aaron Wall. So I think there is so much information out there in the “blogosphere,” that you could spend your entire day reading with a RSS reader. So I don’t really do the book thing.

Jonathan: That’s fine. I think that answer definitely qualifies. Corey, when we talked before the show, you mentioned that you’re launching a video next week on how to learn to use Goggle Analytics to maximize content marketing. That’s going to be up on the AgileLeaverage.com site?

Corey: Yeah. I’ll have that up towards the end of the week. If you go there on Friday of next week. Or go there before then. This weekend I’ll put up an email capture form so you can get it delivered to you. What it will be about is figuring out ways to use Goggle Analytics to mine your content for data that can really help you create value for your readers based upon what they want to consume.

Jonathan: That’s really important because I think so many people are just scratching their heads seeing the keywords no longer in there and not knowing that there are other ways to look at the data that can be really relevant to building out their site and improving on their site, right?

Corey: Absolutely. It’s a lot of art, but there’s also a lot of science in looking at the data. I’ll put together an overview video of how to use Google Analytics for that.

Jonathan: Corey, I really appreciate you doing this. Thanks so much to everybody who listens to this podcast. I watch the numbers every week. Now they are at the staggering level that I never thought we’d be at and I’m really happy about that.

Outro

Again, this is Jonathan Goodman and this is the World of Internet Marketing. You can follow me @HalyardConsult on Twitter. New episodes of the World of Internet Marketing can be heard every Friday. You can access the archives of my previous shows on Spreaker.com – user name Jonathan Goodman. The podcast is also available with transcription at halyardconsulting.com and geekcast.fm one week after the episode airs. Thank you all for listening to another episode of The World of Internet Marketing. Don’t forget to pick up my book The World of Internet Marketing on Amazon, and if you like this podcast please share it with your network of friends and family. Have a great week.

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