Your Digital Marketing Coach with Neal Schaffer

Top 5 B2B Content Marketing-Aligned Lead Generation Strategies [Jeff Baker Interview]

March 28, 2022 Neal Schaffer Episode 257
Your Digital Marketing Coach with Neal Schaffer
Top 5 B2B Content Marketing-Aligned Lead Generation Strategies [Jeff Baker Interview]
Show Notes Transcript

Content Marketing. Blogging. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Email Marketing. How do these all fit together seamlessly and strategically to help generate new leads and business?

This is the broad topic that I speak with Jeff Baker, CMO of the leading content marketing agency Brafton, about.

By the end of this conversation you will:

  • Understand B2B leads: from the buyer persona to the user intent.
  • Learn how to create a cohesive content marketing strategy that drives leads.
  • Learn the differences amongst the top 5 strategies: Lead magnet, Free tools, Original research, Case studies, Newsletter.

Key Highlights

[01:37] Introduction of Podcast Guest, Jeff Baker

[02:43] Jeff's Journey to Digital Marketing

[05:32] What is SEO?

[09:30] Should I Create Content Using AI?

[15:10] Looking At Search Intent and Buyer Persona

[19:13] The Importance of Adding Value to Your Audience

[19:35] Why Blogs Exist?

[20:07] Selling by Teaching

[22:51] What is a Lead Magnet?

[23:00] Five Strategies to Lead Magnet

[27:02] One of the Best Lead Magnets

[28:55] Tool that Jeff Recommends for Lead Magnets

[31:01] Creating Original Research

[35:57] Writing Case Studies

[39:02] How to be Successful on Newsletter

[45:25] Connect with Jeff

Notable Quotes

  • The new SEO strategist is going to be a content strategist. 
  • The soul and really caring about the topic, and showing the unique perspective is what really is going to differentiate that content and which is going to help not just in search engine rankings, but generate leads as well.
  • Most of the time, when I see people getting this wrong with lead generation, it's they're mismatching the intent of their users with the goal that they're trying to accomplish.
  • So for me, my best recommendation is to follow the intent all the way through to the end. So understand that my intent for this particular topic, this search is information, I'm just looking to learn and don't break that pathway and offer me something that adds value to my current mindset.
  • When creating the strategy, the informational, and just understanding those intersection points, and really trying to knowing that some of that content is going to more directly generate the leads, and the remainder is really going to indirectly.
  • Same point with the lead magnets. It doesn't need to be an earth shattering, lead magnet or tool that nobody's created, or nobody's ever thought about. It just needs to add some value, you know. And the good point is that, we always assume we need to provide a lot more than the user does.
  • Start with the assumption that nobody wants to read it. And what that's going to do is it's going to force you to create something way out of the box with your subject line and with the content that you put in there.

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Neal Schaffer:

sure you're doing content marketing, but is it aligned with a lead generation strategy? We are going to talk not only about how you can get your content marketing aligned but we're going to go through the top five b2b Content Marketing align lead generation strategies. On this next episode of The your digital marketing coach podcast. Digital social media content influencer marketing, blogging, podcasting, blogging, tick tocking, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SEO, SEM, PPC, email marketing, who there's a lot to cover, whether you're a marketing professional entrepreneur, or business owner, you need someone you can rely on for expert advice. Good thing you've got Neil, on your side, because Neal Schaffer is your your digital digital marketing marketing coach, helping you grow your business with digital first marketing one episode at a time. This is your digital marketing coach. And this is Neal Schaffer. Hey, everybody, welcome to episode number 257 of the your digital marketing coach podcast, you have heard me talk a lot about blogging, and content marketing, and search engine optimization, and email marketing. And I know that a lot of you who are into b2b marketing, this is your bread and butter. Even if you're in b2c, I want you to keep listening because this episode, this very, very special interview with Jeff Baker, who is the CMO of Brafton, one of the absolute elite top content marketing agencies out there really brings all of us together all of this advice. In this one episode is going to help you virtually kill many birds with one stone. I'm really excited to get your feedback on this next episode. So without further ado, here is my interview with Jeff Baker. You're listening to your digital marketing coach, this is Neal Schaffer. Hey, Jeff Baker. Welcome to the your digital marketing coach podcast, you are dialing in today from Columbia. And I'm sure there's a story behind that. But before we get to Columbia, you know, we had a discussion beforehand, you know, you're you're introducing yourself to me, a please introduce yourself to our listeners, you know, talk about SEO, obviously, content marketing Brafton. You know, what do you do now? And how do you get started and all this?

Jeff Baker:

Thanks so much for having me, Neil, I appreciate being here. I've got a weird story. Man, I gotta tell you, I started off as an electrician, maybe about 15 years ago, became a Mosquito and Vector Control exterminator for a few years. And then dove went full 360 or 180, I guess, and then started getting my roots in SEO about 1011 years ago or so. And then since then joined Brafton, which is a content marketing agency, it's basically anything if it's digital, and it's marketing, we do it. I mean, it goes from creating content, to manage strategies, SEO, all that kind of stuff. And got my start in SEO with Brafton kind of started moving up the ranks and then generalized a little bit and became cmo about three, four years ago, something like that. And since then, basically was responsible for a couple of things. One is responsible for all inbound lead generation. So we flip flop, we went from pure outbound hammer, and the phone's just like boiler room full of people screaming into phones, and we said conversion rates suck, we got to switch to inbound, because we convert it like 15 to 20% versus 3%. And that's when I got tapped and said, Jeff, we need to create an inbound strategy, you're responsible for all lead gen and all channels that create lead gen. So that's part one. And part two is just taking all that stuff I learned about SEO, and converting that into something usable for the website. How do we generate leads sustainably through SEO and continuously through SEO. So we use it, we use the website as an SEO channel to generate a ton of leads. But on top of that, we use it as like a testing ground really my passion lies in testing SEO strategies, and most of them fail. But the few that do actually work, I get published, and we end up turning that into a product for our clients. So it's basically my my role is twofold, one lead gen and to just kind of like a testing ground for SEO strategies, and hopefully some of those stick and actually turn into something usable.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, and for those listening that may not know Brafton you know, before Jeff reached out to me Brafton is a company that is really, really Famous in the b2b content marketing space, I'd say definitely, you know, top five agencies. So a job well done. And for those that are looking for a b2b content marketing agency often comes highly, highly recommended high quality. And which leads to another question, which is you got started in SEO, and your content marketing agency. And there's generally a lot of confusion between what is SEO? And what is content marketing, they're obviously separate, but there's a lot of alignment, how do you sort of explain that to your customers and potential customers?

Jeff Baker:

So that's a damn good question. And these lines between content and SEO, they used to be very clearly defined back to the day people would think of SEO is very technical, like, Okay, I'm doing technical things, indexing, title tags, meta descriptions, all that kind of stuff. Other side of the house, you think of content writers, okay, they're just kind of writing content that needs to go on the website. These lines are not, I would say blurred, but that's not enough. They are now like intermeshed. And I would say content is SEO, really all of the old, traditional SEO ranking factors, the things that you think of as classic SEO, title tags, meta descriptions, keywords, and all that kind of stuff, his given way to very, very good content that fully satisfies the intent of the searcher. So really, the new SEO strategist is going to be a content strategist. And the typical things that I used to do, are really gonna get phased out, because if you think about it, like a lot of technical SEO, I'm gonna, I may piss off a lot of people by saying this, a lot of the technical SEO concepts that we understand are just more or less diagnostic checklists. And these are things that can be automated, anything that could be automated, will be automated cannon will be automated. And a lot of these, these traditional SEO roles, will start to phase into really, really strategic content creation. Because when it comes down to it, SEO is just finding topics that people are very, very interested in, and then writing content that fully satisfies the intent of that particular topic. So you've created a better piece of content than anything on the web for that particular topic. And that's really the new SEO and that's the evolution of, of how we've how we are where we are today.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, amen to that, Jeff, I couldn't agree more. And on that note of automation, so I'm gonna give a shout out to Kieran Rogers, who is the host of the Digital Marketing Podcast, one of the top 10 Digital Marketing podcasts, and we're having a conversation the other day. And he was talking about, we've seen automation, not just in, you know, those SEO reports and tasks, but also in content creation. And there's a new generation of AI content generation tools I'm sure you're aware of. And he was a really big fan of something called Jasper, there's also like niche. And this is another one we hear a lot about. And he's like, Neil, there are people that have written books, using Jasper. And I'm just curious, are we not? No, obviously, you need a human voice. You need to be able to tell any II tool what to write, you need to be make sure that it represents the thoughts of a human and there's still a human that has to be involved. But are those tools a wave of the future? Is this something that those that are listening now should start to experiment with? Or are they just pure evil, and they have no place in our system?

Jeff Baker:

I've used Jasper actually. So I do have a little bit of experience with that. Have you played around with Jasper before?

Neal Schaffer:

I have not enough played around. So I use a tool. And I've talked about on this podcast before called phrase. Hmm. And I use phrase to sort of make sure that I'm covering topics in my blog posts, and keywords that are being covered in basically the top 20 search results for that keyword. So it makes sure I'm not missing out on things that keeps my content aligned might suggest I might use more or less of certain words. I've looked at niche Enos. And I think if you just want to generate 10 different variations of ad copy for like a Facebook ad or something very, very simple. It hasn't used and it can recommend things that it's like, oh, I never thought about that. It makes sense, right? But I've never thought about taking it one step further, in terms of fleshing out more long form content on it, which is why I'm really curious is what you think. And Karen said Jasper, which is really surprised it actually learned as you went and it was actually really, really intelligent the way they implemented the tool. So curious to see if you agree or not.

Jeff Baker:

It's scary. And let me just I'm going to talk about Jasper but I'm also going to talk about there are two different pathways you can go to creating content using AI. So the first pathway is like like kind of what you were just describing topic identification. So if you've got a particular topic you want to write about, you can use AI tools like the ones that you were the one that you were talking about along their scope and there's a number of them right scope in marketmuse a little preferential to market news and and just for The listeners aren't aware of these things. Basically what they're doing is you taking a topic, and it's going to scrape the top 10 results for that topic, it's going to identify and prioritize all of the main subtopics you could possibly talk about. So in essence, you're left with a blueprint of all of the possible topics you could possibly talk about, for that, for that concept. And so, in theory, you could really create like a Wikipedia page for that topic and give the the user no reason whatsoever to go back to search results to weave together a complete answer. So in theory, you're creating a more comprehensive piece of content. So that's the one pathway and go second pathway is a scary one where it's writing everything for you. And I've done that before. And what you do is you, you do need some human interaction, you need to give it a prompt, but it can be such a vague prompt as like, write me an article about the history of baseball, and then you just hit the go button. And it'll just start spitting out words that make sense. It's unbelievable, it really, really quickly, it'll give you an introduction, it'll start giving you like an outline of things it's going to talk about, and it'll spit out an article. And you can't just hit publish, like, the output is not ready. Like it's not. It's not show time yet. But it's getting pretty close, you have to come through it, you have to read it, because there are some redundancies, and then it'll include some every now and then these these weird things out of nowhere that it found on the web, that doesn't make sense. It all of a sudden, you start talking about hockey slap shots, like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, let's back up. I need to edit that out. So it needs a little bit of hand holding in the prompting, and in the editing afterwards. But it is getting damn close. It's getting there. And will it have a soul? Will the content have a soul? I don't know. Does that matter? I don't know. Probably depends on what you're going for. Because it for me, I'm just going to learn something I want to learn about the history of baseball, I don't care who wrote it, I'm there my intent is to learn that matter where it came from. So now it doesn't necessarily need a soul. But if I'm going to read a book, or something that's meant to be, you know, emotionally enriching, you're probably gonna want to know that a writer wrote

Neal Schaffer:

it. Yeah, it's really interesting. I think that for some content, there's like research based content or within your blog post, like, you're gonna write a blog post to say influencer marketing ROI. And inevitably, most of the top results will begin with h2 that says, What is influencer marketing? And these are types of things where that bot generated content, if it's just research, and I mean, you can explain in your own words, as well, but there are certain like research based things where you don't need the soul, as you said, and it might make sense. At the end of the day, you still need, you know, human guidance. But yeah, I know, we didn't plan to talk about this today. But it's sort of Top of Mind. Yeah, just I think we get a sense as to where the future this is going. But yeah, that that soul and really caring about the topic, and really showing the unique perspective is what really is going to differentiate that content and which is going to help not just in search engine rankings, but generate leads as well, would you agree?

Jeff Baker:

Yeah, I would agree. And actually, using these types of strategies makes a big difference we had before, before I came into this role, we just kind of had flat traffic, it just sat there for six, seven years. This is what it's gonna do. It was a perfect model of mediocre consistency. And then we started using some of these AI tools and our page one keywords went up 1,000%, something like that our traffic went up, maybe 15% 15 100%. Incredible. So like, these things do work. And it is, it is something worth considering. So for your listeners, take a look at it. I mean, you can get I think Jasper has a free plan where you can you can just mess around in there, put in a couple words and just see it spit out these sentences because it is mind blowing. It's scary, or you said, is it evil? It feels evil when it's happening. But the results might might make you think otherwise. But only only Tom's gonna tell

Neal Schaffer:

if you're a traditional writer, it absolutely is evil. We're not traditional writers. You know what I mean? No, no, no man. And I would argue, you know, and I interviewed the CMO a phrase a few months ago on this podcast. So that's the first step for me. And AI is really starting with that analysis, analytical aspect of leveraging AI, you know, marketmuse, clear scope phrase, there's a number of other ones out there, pick your poison. But yeah, Jasper, I'm gonna, you know, take a look at Jasper and start to experiment with it as well. So maybe we'll have to have a future episode talking about that. But, you know, people tuned in to this episode, they saw this title of content marketing alive lead generation strategy, and they're thinking, Neil, were you taking so I'm gonna get back to what I promised our listeners we were talking about today. Obviously, this is all equally important, but, you know, b2b, content marketing and user intent. So I believe that's user intent also from an SEO perspective. There's search intent that we talk a lot about. When we look at user intent and the buyer persona, how does that help us better understand b2b leads?

Jeff Baker:

Yeah, that's a really good question. And most of the time, when I see people getting this wrong with lead generation, it's they're mismatching the intent of their users with the goal that they're trying to accomplish. So let me give you a very clear example. Let's go to a very basic keyword search. So imagine you're searching something very informational, I'm looking to learn about the best social media channels for 2022. Usually, what you're going to get, as a result, a lot of results that are like blog post is very informational intent, I have no intent on buying something. So my intent is matched up with the right type of content, which is going to be search results with blog posts are very informational. I go to one of those blog posts, my intent for that piece of content is to learn it is not to buy anything. And where you break this pathway is when business owners website owners don't understand the intent and they start littering blog posts with commercial intent types of actions, they've got an expectation that somebody is going to buy something from a mindset where I'm just trying to learn, and you kind of break that that intent lifecycle. So for me, my best recommendation is to follow the intent all the way through to the end. So understand that my intent for this particular topic, this search is information, I'm just looking to learn and don't break that pathway and offer me something that adds value to my current mindset, what am I going to give you for an informational piece of content, I might give you an email for a newsletter, or a value, add an ebook on that topic that I just searched. Sure, that is that matches my intent and my pathway perfectly, it adds value, you get valued, because I'm not ready to buy anything, but you get an opportunity to nurture me with my email, you can continually send me emails. And at that point, when I do need that service, you're top of mind, because you did it right, you match the pathway perfectly. complete opposite is true as well. So if you've got like a commercial landing page, business consulting services, social media consulting services, I searched that I've got a buyer intent, I'm probably comparison shopping, and might even have my checkbook out on my keep on my on my laptop, I might be ready to buy. And if you've got a landing page set up, that enables that type of mindset, you've got form completions that are very clear and visible, possibly pricing expectations of what happens afterwards, after I contact you. My pathway is perfectly clear from beginning to end, my intent was by you showed me by your content, you gave me a very clear pathway to make that kind of thing happen. So from when it comes to lead gen for b2b, it's just, it really is all about the user and their intent and making sure that you're matching the right content to the right intent with the right types of goals and business outcomes that you want to be want to achieve. That makes sense.

Neal Schaffer:

And you've just given the user manual for why people that listen to my podcast know that I'm a big fan of sem rush. And when you do keyword research, they've actually added these intent labels that describe exactly what you're talking about. That just came blue, but and it's really funny. And those that listen this podcast also know that I, you know, I've had a lot of success with influencer marketing related keywords, because, you know, companies do the keyword research. And they find all these keywords that the intent is informational, yet they're pushing product or the information they provided is so skewed towards selling their product, that it's just bad content, right? And I've just without, I don't want to sell any product, right? I just want to give information and sell my book. So I've been able to really get good rankings, I think, partly for that mismatch that you talked about that, you know, companies are looking at, I guess I'm a traditional social media marketer. So when I look at blogging, the blog side of content marketing, it's it's not promotional. It's it's really adding value and information. And I think that more and more companies really have to realize that instead of looking at it all as promotion promotion promotion,

Jeff Baker:

that's 100% Right? And I can't tell you, maybe 90% of clients come and say well, how come my blog isn't selling products? You don't understand why why a blog exists blog exists to add value, rank for good keywords, gets a lot of exposure and capture email addresses the blog side of the house, that's two sides of the house, got business side of the house, your office, you got your entertainment side of the house with your blogs, blogs belong on that side, collect email addresses, talk to people foster relationships until a point where they're actually interested in buying something.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah. And I want to get to the next question, I think I already sort of know the answer. But one blog post that I work together with a partner on that has done really well on my site is like how to how to find fake followers on Instagram. And actually, it's something where people are looking for information. But if you're able to show your tool and show screenshots, and so and say, you know, well, here's how you do it. And then if you use a tool, this is sort of what it looks like, whether people buy the tool or not, you've you've sort of hopefully generated interest while also solving that problem. So you know, is that the way that we create this cohesive content marketing strategy that drives leads that we have this combination of purely informational, while looking for those intersects where we can have our tool as the solution?

Jeff Baker:

That's, that's an incredible example where you're selling by teaching, really, like you're, you've sure you've you've accomplished that I am helping and then you add an you've got to add value, or you've got a tool that continues to help into teach. And then they see the value of a product, but they didn't realize that they needed. So yeah, when you're able to that's a sweet spot. That is a that's a goldmine. Absolutely, I am, anytime I can find those, which is very rare. Absolutely. That's a beauty.

Neal Schaffer:

So when creating the strategy, the informational, and just understanding those intersection points, and really trying to knowing that some of that content is going to more directly generate the leads, and the remainder is really going to indirectly, and then we're going to use one of these top five strategies that we're going to talk about shortly. To try to bring these leads into our funnel is sort of the way to look at it.

Jeff Baker:

That's it took the words out of my mouth, I wouldn't have described it in any different way.

Neal Schaffer:

Ma'am, my my work is released today. Okay. Sorry, third cup of coffee. Oh,

Jeff Baker:

God, I'm only on one, maybe maybe I would have had some more ideas. But I think you absolutely nailed it. So

Neal Schaffer:

let's now talk, let's dumb this down. For lack of a better word even further, the listener is like, Okay, Jeff, I get it. I want to kick butt like Brafton doesn't content marketing. But I want to better understand the strategies of people coming to my blog posts. They're not buying, they're not filling out a contact form to find out more about us. And they're just bailing. And how do I start to generate leads from this. And before we talk, you mentioned, there were several different strategies, and you have this top five in mind. So I'd like to go a little bit further and really give some actionable and tactical advice for the listener. And they can decide which of these is better suited for the product. But, you know, the first one is one that I've talked a lot about in this podcast, I'm a huge fan of which is the lead magnet. So how do you? How do you define the lead magnet? And what sort of lead magnets should companies that are listening be considering to create

Jeff Baker:

lead magnets are incredible. And when you when you break down the numbers, the people that are landing on your website, 80% of all searches online are informational intent. So just assume the vast majority of people coming to your site are not ready to buy anything. So what can you do? What added value? Can you give these people? Well, you get something at the same time. And that's a that's a lead magnet. And people ask what is the lead magnet, lead magnet can be a lot of different things. But just think about it as like an additional high value asset that adds to the user's experience while they're on the page. So a good example, a very clear example would be like an ebook. So for those of you that aren't familiar with an ebook, it's kind of like a blend of a white paper with all the expertise of a white paper, that deep dives particular topic. And an infographic, it's very, very visually rich. It has a lot of charts and graphs and statistics. And it's very, very easy to digest. And generally, this is a gated piece of content that is available as a PDF or in some sort of reader form, where you submit some contact information, maybe as little as an email address. And in turn, you get the value of these deep insights, deeper insights than what you just see in the blog post. So it's kind of a trade off, you get a deep dive informational value add and all you have to give is an email address. And you can expect that you may be getting added to a newsletter or something like that, where hopefully, the provider of the ebook will continue to send value add types of content and nurture you to a point where he might convert. So eBooks are a good example of white paper as well. Maybe getting a little bit phased out depending on the industry, in favor of ebooks. Lead Magnet could can also be well it leads into number two, which is a tool which you mentioned earlier, which which can also be thought of as a lead magnet. Let me give you an example of a tool very clear one would be like, like a mortgage calculator, right? So if you want to, you're going to a real estate website like that is a beautiful house four bedrooms, I could put my family in there three dogs, the whole nine yards. I want it, I have no idea what it's gonna cost me mortgage calculator, you put in your down, deposit your estimated APR, and it'll spit out what your estimated monthly payments are. After you submit your email address, you give a tool that provides an answer to your question in exchange for an email address. Another good example, I'm actually building an SEO diagnostic tool, which will if you've got a problem, you choose your problem. I can't rank for a keyword. And then you go through this multiple choice selector that takes you through like your basically decision tree brings you to this may be happening. Is this happening? Yes or no? Is this happening? Yes or no? takes you to the next phase? Right? Before you get the last phase all I asked for your email address. And then once you submit that I give you the answer to your problem. So it's a tool that helps solve a problem. That's a value add. So I would while that is a different category free tools, I also see it kind of related to a lead magnet, it acts in a similar way.

Neal Schaffer:

I want to take a step back with lead magnets because that what you talked it talked about is really the traditional way b2b paradigm. People are looking for information. They want to know how to do the work better find a better solution, and therefore, you know, you talked about traditionally white paper now ebook, but it's more in depth. And on the other end, when I listen to like b2c bloggers, and content creators, they're like, you don't need to write a whole ebook for lead me it can be a checklist template. And so you do a search for you know, top lead magnets, and you'll find very, very short form content. Now, obviously, this depends on the company, industry, the product, but what you know, could that be, if that makes it easier to create, and it adds value are those as relevant you think today, as more you know, several 1000 word eBooks are,

Jeff Baker:

that's a good point, you don't necessarily have to invest an e book can cost 1000s of dollars, depending on the depth and the length that you need to get into. Yeah, that's not necessary. One of our best lead magnets is just simply like a content marketing Audit Checklist. Really, it's just a template where you just copy it from a Google Doc, which was no design free. And people just make a copy of it and fill it out themselves. So yeah, it can, it can range from super expensive, expensive and very, very polished and very produced to just a Google Doc with your brand logo on it. So yeah, that's a good point. I don't want the audience to feel discouraged think, well, maybe I can't afford to put together a usable lead magnet, you can you know your space. And if you know your space, you know, the types of tools that will help people. And if one of those tools happens to be something very, very simple that your audience doesn't know about, you know about, yep, build it, absolutely engage that thing. And on

Neal Schaffer:

the same note talking about the free tools. So part of some of the content I've been creating recently is when I look at the top keywords for I, you know, blog a lot about influencer marketing and Instagram as part of that there's all these engagement rate calculators. Uh huh. Right, and there's a ton of them out there. And then I realized there are tools out Pro. And that's just one of many, where you can sort of create your own calculator, right? Or your own that mortgage calculator example that you gave, I'm sure there's a lot of companies that have them. They're not all, you know, they don't all have software developers that are uniquely creating something, they understand how to program a tool like that. So is that sort of the tool that you would recommend? And I'm sure there are others. But that's something that listeners if they want to go the tool route, it just like the lead magnet doesn't have to be this 100 page ebook, the tool might be a lot simpler to create than they might think, what do you think about that?

Jeff Baker:

It can be yes, I actually just recently created a tool. And it is 100%, based on Google Sheets, very, very simple formulas. And all you do is basically I handed it to my developer, I said, this cell does this to that cell, this cell does this to that cell. And the output should be like multiplying all three cells. Very, very simple stuff built in a Google Sheet. Didn't need SQL. I didn't need any coding experience. I just handed a very simple concept to my developer and they said no problem. Very cool. Okay. So yeah, your point, same same point with the with the lead magnets. It doesn't need to be an earth shattering, lead magnet or tool that nobody's created, or nobody's ever thought about. It just needs to add some value, you know. And the good point is that, we always assume we need to provide a lot more than the user does. Because we're experts in our space, whatever it is that you're doing on your website for your brand. You're the expert in your space. And you have to assume that people come in your website, no less than you and you Don't need to provide insanely in depth stuff, you know, you can go lighter, and you can still provide a lot of value. And you may find that you're over complicating things and you don't have to.

Neal Schaffer:

Yoast is always telling me that my blog contents like at PhD level when I should be done on eighth grade level. And by the way, Jasper has a way of dumbing down, you choose your grade level of dumps, which is really fascinating. But anyway, that's right, it does a point well taken. So what about and we were talking earlier about that, you know, we have the lead magnet strategy, the free tools, and those are might be a lot easier to create than we thought. What about the third strategy, which is original research? And I've seen, you know, we studied 100, you know, 50,365, Facebook ads, and this is what we found. And they're incredibly I mean, those titles, just grab your attention, not just in social media, but I'm sure in the search engines as well. Is that what you're talking about here? And if so, how the heck can we examine that much content, and be able to create this original research,

Jeff Baker:

my heart is, this is my baby, my heart set about 120 beats per minute, right now, this is probably the number one tool that I would recommend, because it has legs in there, you can get so much mileage out of these things. So when I say original research, I'm talking about studying things that people haven't studied before. So let me give an example. The very first piece of original research I did was for Moz. And I was trying to compare the accuracy of all the different keyword difficulty tools out there for SEO tools. So a lot of SEO tools will tell you, they'll give you a number that says how difficult is it to rank for this keyword. So I took blog posts over a year, and I compared the actual rankings versus the keyword difficulty for six different tools. And I use the correlation coefficient to determine which of them were the most accurate. And I've done many studies like this since then that's just an example. And what you get off the end of that is you get a blog post, with a really catchy headline that people want to click on. Because it's now you get tons of snippets, social media snippets from these things, you get beautiful looking charts, you've got a number of different percentages that you can highlight X percent of blogs, use XYZ, and then put a little chart on it. And that just explodes. And you can PDF it, which we do, you can turn it into a webinar, which we do, you can turn it into a podcast, it's it's like the Swiss Army knife of marketing tools that can be converted into just about any type of media. And on top of that usually generates the most links, our best performing content is original research content, because that's what people are looking for. And you get authoritative links back to the site builds up your site's strength. It's, it's an all in one tool. It's incredible. But you're I know, you're gonna ask Matt, do you have to go crazy with it? Do you have to do a year long study like I've done right? Maybe that's where you go? Maybe not. But no, you don't actually we've we've done original research studies where it was like, two questions. And we sent it out to a newsletter list in a Google poll, a Google survey, and just ask them what tool you're using for SEO or something like that, just like a very, very simple question. And guess what? That's original research got 100 responses. And it says X amount of people are using sem rush versus x amount of people using hrs that kind of thing? How long did it take 30 minutes crafting email, 30 minutes craft poll and Google and then condense the results create a graphic.

Neal Schaffer:

So and I was just thinking about this, because sometimes we overcomplicate it, I wrote, it never really got much traction, but I enjoy doing it. But you know, in Twitter, you can actually see the source of the application that people use to post the tweet. And there are tools you can use to sort of aggregate that information. So I have a post on, you know, the Forbes list of this top 50 social media influencer list. So these are the top Twitter tools used by the top social media influencers, because if they're using a tool, then chances are, you know, you may be interested in as well. But on the same note, you know, this is using a third party tool we can also use or if we have enough of our own data, you said asking your newsletter, I suppose I have 475 blog posts published in Neal schaffer.com. I can compare the search engine rankings the traffic of one verb versus two word versus three word versus four plus word slugs. And I mean anything right? So anytime does we don't have to look far or there's so much you know, there's Buzzsumo. There's all these other tools we can use to help us it's really just how creative can we get? And does it solve a problem that other people are looking for a solution for?

Jeff Baker:

If you're collecting data on your marketing programs, you can create original data stuff. I mean, it's as simple as I gathered maybe like a year's worth of newsletters we've sent out so just 52 newsletters, I compare open rates to positive sentiment and the headline versus negative sentiment sentiment to headline and compare to open rates, so as to the original research, and then you just get a little bit curious, right? Like, do longer, like 75 character, subject lines get more opens or very, very short ones. What if you swear in a subject line? God forbid, right? Well that get more open

Neal Schaffer:

emojis, right? Yeah.

Jeff Baker:

What emojis do Yeah. What about emojis? There's data on that, too. Just just get curious with your data, look at it in different ways and say, you know, I wonder if this does that, and then get an answer. And it doesn't have to be correlated. It doesn't have to be a yes, it can just be No, and people will still read it. Does this do anything? No, I'm just as interested in the yes as I am the No.

Neal Schaffer:

And you'll still get the links when people writing content that want to find something that you know, backs up what they're about to say. And yeah, my emojis. Here's the proof. Right? Exactly. Yeah, that's awesome. What about and maybe this is related to like white paper ebook. There's some overlap. What about case studies, as this fourth type of, of strategy?

Jeff Baker:

Yeah, we'd call that more in the bottom of funnel range. And this is where you've started to establish some commercial interest in your business, maybe had been your baby been nurturing them with all of this other stuff, good blog content, good ebooks and that kind of thing for a while. And now they're starting to get some sort of buyer intent, they've got a need. And now they need some sort of social proof that you're saying what you do, actually works, right. So case studies are, everybody probably knows cases you've read them before, it can be just a user, or a customer review of what you've done with them. That explains usually what the problem was, what the solution was, and what the outcomes were. And it's very specific to a company. So it's not, it's not what you'd call, like a white labeled success story, you can actually see who the person in the company was. And generally, bigger companies more, you know, recognizable, companies will have a little bit more weight. And you want to feature these kind of things. Because it's actual proof that says you do, you can do what you do. And it's a huge part of the decision making process. I've reverse engineered, a lot of like nurture turned into client pathways. And almost all of the time they go through case studies before they submit a contact form. They want to do that you're doing your due diligence, same thing in b2c, like, if you're going to go buy a product, I'm going to read reviews and reviews and reviews, I want them to be unbiased. I want to know, What's their problem, the same as my problem? Yes or no? And if it was cool, what was the solution? What were the results? Okay, now I've got a mental framework for what might happen for me. Super important.

Neal Schaffer:

Yeah, I just I go back. So my background for those that know me is, is b2b, and it's actually more on the sales side than the marketing side. And when I was selling technology, you know, there's a lot of storytelling, but there's also a lot of social proof. Well, this company is using our product. And this is the way that that inevitably, I mean, they wanted to see a demo as well, but that inevitably helped us get to the point where they would consider us right. And, and therefore that, you know, when we relate that to content, you can see the power that that case study has, especially if you don't have if you're not the gorilla in the market, right? Why are people going to trust you? And and that's a great reminder. Finally, we have one that, you know, when I was asking what the top five strategies are, and you said, this was one of the top five, part of me was like EA and part of it was like, Really, so I want to get your feedback on this, which is the newsletter. So obviously, part of the idea is we want to get people to opt in to our list and hey, we got the ebook or the tool, and then you do see those pop ups. Okay, join our newsletter. And in fact, a lot of people say don't don't do that, because no one's gonna join it just no one wants to receive email. So I'm curious. I have seen actually good success of my own newsletter, but I'm really curious to hear your stand on the senior suggestions.

Jeff Baker:

Newsletter is so powerful and people always think that they always think oh, God, I hate pop ups. I don't want to subscribe to newsletters. Guess what people do? At a very, very high rate. As a matter of fact, we had a we had a newsletter, and I read I read an entire book on newsletter marketing's I didn't know anything about it and about five years ago or so, and said, Well, do I need to put a pop up in there and this book said, you can increase your subscription rate by 300 to 500%. Despite people hating pop ups, I hate pop ups. I fought against it and I said screw it. I'm just going to put it up. Our newsletter subscription rate went up 532% I kid you not pop ups absolutely work. People will read your newsletter. And the beautiful thing of of newsletters is we send them out once a week. And this is an opportunity to keep you top of mind I know that sounds super freakin cliche. but it absolutely works. And in our newsletter, what you can do is like, start with a framework of the best advice I can give for a newsletter. Start with the assumption that nobody wants to read it. Because most people aren't going to open your newsletter, if you get a 30%, open rate three out of 10 people in a newsletter opening it, doing a pretty good job. Alright, so just reverse back your way into it, assume most people aren't going to read it. And what that's going to do is it's going to force you to create something way out of the box with your subject line and with the content that you put in there. So if you just assume they're not going to read it, you're going to go way over the top with extra in interesting stuff, something that's going to really, really capture people's attention, and then iterate on it a B test that ABC test subject lines. And the idea being is you just want once a week is what we shoot for is you want to get something very interesting in somebody's inbox. And it's one of the few opportunities one of the few mediums where you get to communicate directly to your audience exactly what you want to say, right? So your words in their head, they're going to see it. So you get the opportunity to frame your brand and your message, however you want for just a split second. And people may not pay attention to it. But some of them are three out of 10 of them. Or maybe maybe 1/3 of those are actually going to read the newsletter. But if you keep doing it every single week, or bi weekly, or whatever, they're going to remember you if you keep giving them value, add content. And then when they actually are ready to buy something, we see it over and over and over and over again. It's usually somebody that's been opening the newsletter for six to eight months, and then boom, they confer and they become a new customer. So it might be counterintuitive. I know people think people don't subscribe to newsletters, they hate pop ups. It's wrong. We've got a newsletter of, of 75,000 something people like that constantly reading it 1000s of clicks a week. It just got to trust the numbers. And it's one of those one of the few instances where you say, Don't trust your gut, and just trust the numbers because they are there.

Neal Schaffer:

Well, thank you for that. I tell people look, if you think email marketing is dead, just go to any e commerce website where that 10% off coupon pop up. It's, you know, it's everywhere. And there's a reason. And I talk about one of my clients, they're a b2c company, but they generate more business from their emails. And they are man, I think they're even less than 10,000 subscribers, then they do with the six figure Google ad budget, from emails, right. Wow. Yeah. And I want to get more data around this. Maybe we'll work together on a research study on that. But on another note, do you have I run into this issue. So a lot of content marketers are able to plan their content in advance, but a lot of newsletter content is like news, right? Newsletter news, it's timely. And so I get into this, this challenge of I want to be there providing this news on a regular basis, you said weekly, which which I do as well. And then I know that I can write sequences, and I can automate the dripping of this content over time. So it looks like a newsletter, yet, I'm able to sort of scale and and publish it efficiently. What would your recommendation be for like this timely, you know, on the fly, and I know if an Han they was on this podcast, she you know, hey, it's got to be a love letter. It's got to be you know, it's got to be what you think, versus being able to scale with the sequence based nurture type of email for a newsletter. What's your feeling about that?

Jeff Baker:

Well, my answer, right or wrong, it's been successful is that we do both, right. So we've got like, what you call an onboarding sequence. So for when somebody first signs up, we're going to take, we're going to drip like you mentioned, some of the more evergreen content that isn't timely, and it's going to be the best stuff using analytics, we're going to find out which of the articles gets frequented the most often, which past articles we've sent out got clicked on the most often. And we're going to set up this master list of top performers. And we're going to set up a drip sequence so that those people never miss the top performing evergreen style content. And then on the other side of things, you do want that newsletter with the timely stuff. So what we will do is on a weekly basis, like I said, we've got a weekly newsletter. And we'll include a few different things in that newsletter. So on the top part, the very first thing we're gonna include are the most recent articles that we've written. Some of those will be very, very timely updates in the industry, that kind of thing. Some of those will include some evergreen content, which may evolve into drip content. And then on the bottom part, we're going to include some external links from the industry that other people have written. Say somebody, you know, Cyrus Shepard just published something new on SEO. It's sure it's not Brafton content, but that doesn't matter. We want to add value, and it's timely. So we're going to link out to that kind of So I guess our answer is a combination of both. Both of these strategies are very unique and effective in their own way. So we don't want to lose any opportunities just by going all in on one or all in on the other. Some of these things can complement each other very well.

Neal Schaffer:

Makes a lot of sense, Jeff, this has really been incredible. I know our listeners are gonna get a lot out of this. Where can people go if they want to find out more about Brafton? Or about yourself?

Jeff Baker:

Yeah, definitely. So you can find us@brafton.com We're on all the major channels, so LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, all that kind of stuff for putting a little bit extra push in Instagram. You can find me on LinkedIn. That's LinkedIn, backslash Baker, SEO. And you can also if you have a question, I love talking about this kind of stuff. Drop me a line, Jeff Baker at Brafton, calm, happy to answer any of your questions. Like I said, I'll even hop on a phone call. This is my life. I love doing it. It's not worked for me.

Neal Schaffer:

And you're in Colombia. So you probably I'm not gonna take a lot of time in your hands. But you're able to be flexible with the time I'm assuming while you're there, which is one of the reasons why you're there a

Jeff Baker:

little bit. Yeah, exactly. I get an opportunity to work from different workspaces. Go to my favorite coffee shops eat at my favorite places. Yeah, that's kind of a flexible lifestyle. Very cool. You want to talk about that to digital nomadism. It's a whole different branch that we can go down happy. Yeah,

Neal Schaffer:

yeah. Well, I'm sure a lot of listeners are quite envious. Thank you so much for spending your time with us. And I hope that the listeners, if you're interested, you'll definitely reach out to Jeff. He's a great guy, and you'd be foolish not to take advantage of the expertise that he has. Thanks again, Jeff.

Jeff Baker:

Thanks so much for having me, Neil.

Neal Schaffer:

All right. I really hope you enjoyed that interview with Jeff Baker. And hey, if you're listening to this, and you're thinking, Man, I don't know where to start with all this, or we're supposed to be doing this at my company, but it's really not working. I would love to help you. For those of you that don't know, I help businesses in two different ways. I have a fractional cmo marketing consulting service so that you can utilize my time to serve your company in a very, very part time consulting role, but it can be extremely cost effective, or I have a limited seating mastermind group we meet four times a month, we have a private Slack community as well. And I can help you as being a member of my group as well. So regardless if it is for the fractional CMO, consulting or for the digital first mastermind, community, I hope that you'll reach out, go to Neal schaffer.com, where you'll find all the information or hey, just send me an email, or hit me up on social my email is Neal at Neal schaffer.com. I am the real meal that's spelled ne al s ch a FF er. Alright, well, that is it for a another episode of The your digital marketing coach podcast. This is your digital marketing coach Neal Schaffer signing off. You've been listening to your digital marketing coach, questions, comments, requests, links, go to podcast dot Neal schaffer.com. Get the show notes to this and 200 plus podcast episodes, and Neal schaffer.com to tap into the 400 Plus blog posts that Neil has published to support your business. While you're there, check out Neil's Digital First group coaching membership community if you or your business needs a little helping hand. See you next time on your digital marketing coach.