Episode 105

Rethinking SEO and Content Marketing for 2020

Russ Henneberry - theCLIKK
January 29, 2020
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It’s safe to say that your SEO approach is likely outdated.  If you’re looking for the latest hack, trick or SEO loophole  - you’re barking up the wrong tree.  If you’re obsessing over ranking and traditional keywords then you may be off target.

In this episode we talk about why “intent” is now the most important word in SEO and content marketing.  We look at how search behavior is changing.  We also consider how Google is indexing different forms of content like podcasts and video transcripts and what that means to us as marketers.  

In this episode we dive into: 

  • The BERT Update.  What is is and how it’s the nail in the coffin for old-school SEO.  
  • Why is intent the most important word for SEO?
  • How REI tackles intent and what you should learn from their content strategies.
  • Different content types - articles, podcasts, etc.
  • How do you figure out what people are searching for and asking at different stages
  • How to create content and rank that content for shoppers at different stages of the buying journey.
  • Plus more!

Connect with Guest:
Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook
Via Twitter
Via Instagram
Via YouTube

theCLIKK.com - A Free Daily Email from Your Friends in Digital Business
Via Facebook
Via Twitter
Via Instagram

Mentioned in this episode:
DigitalMarketer - Marketing Tools & Training
Traffic & Conversion Summit - March 31 - April 2, 2020 in San Diego, CA
Digital Marketing fo Dummies Book by Ryan Deiss & Russ Henneberry - Amazon
theSkimm
The Hustle
Morning Brew

Marketing Examples:
Nordstrom
The Home Depot
Lowe's

Episode Transcript

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce, and my guest today is really a legend. He's a legend in this space. You know him, and I'm confident if you know him, love him.

Brett:

Hey E-Commerce Evolution listeners, Brett Curry here. I have a really cool announcement and an invite just for you. In February, OMG Commerce is hosting an exclusive, invite only event at the Google and YouTube offices in Los Angeles. Now, if you've never experienced a Google office, they really do live up to the hype, and the Google offices in L.A. are some of the most unique around.

Brett:

More on the venue in a minute. First, let me give you the scoop on the event itself. It's called YouTube Ads for E-Commerce: Building Full Follow Growth with YouTube Ads. I'll be speaking at this event, sharing some of our best YouTube ad strategies for our most successful YouTube ad templates, and more. And you'll get to hear directly from some amazing YouTube team members, including incredible content from the Unskippable Labs team.

Brett:

Now, I've seen this content before and it's amazing. I'm so excited about this event, but here's the best part: it's free. But it is invite only and you do have to apply and be approved to attend because seating is limited. So, sorry, no agencies, no service providers, this is just for eCommerce companies.

Brett:

Now, as promised more about the venue, this will be held at the Spruce Goose Hangar. This hangar was initially built by the mogul Howard Hughes, and if you've ever seen the movie The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio, then you know all about Howard Hughes and his Spruce Goose. This hangar was recently renovated and true Google fashion. Now it's a cutting edge YouTube studio and Google offices and that's where we're holding this event. It's going to be amazing.

Brett:

So, to find out more, to check out the application, go to OMGcommerce.com/YouTube-event. Again, that's OMGcommerce.com/YouTube-event. I'll also link to the event page in the show notes of this show and I hope to see you in L.A.

Brett:

I'm talking to Mr. Russ Henneberry, and he's the founder of TheClikk.com daily email newsletter about digital businesses, one of my favorite reads. It is one of those things that I subscribe to that I actually read. I subscribe to a lot of things, most of it gets cleaned out by my assistant. I actually do read The Clikk because it's very good. You also may know Russ, from his time at Digital Marker, he was the director of editorial there, on stage at TNC all the time. Also wrote Digital Marketing for Dummies. Dude is no dummy. He knows his stuff.

Brett:

And also we come from the same great state of Missouri.

Russ:

That's right.

Brett:

So, Russ, welcome to the show, man. Thanks for coming back on. If you count the 100th episode, this is your third time on the show, so congrats to you. That's rare air right there, my friend.

Russ:

I'm like Tom Hanks on Saturday Night Live. How many times did Tom Hanks do Saturday Night Live? No, I love doing this show and I love talking to you about this stuff. And I'm excited to be here, so thanks for having me.

Brett:

Yeah, absolutely. So, we talked a little while back, we did the 100th episode and you came on and talked for seven or eight minutes, and we talked a little bit about what's working right now for SEO. We're both SEO guys, at least that's how we got our start, right? That was like the first thing I ever did online was SEO. I don't really do much with SEO anymore, but I know you know the game very well. And so, we're going to dig into this. We're going to talk about this for an eCommerce business, help you lay out a strategy and identify what should you be thinking about as it pertains to SEO in 2020.

Brett:

And so, before we get into kind of the meat of the how-to and the specifics, and all that, I want to talk about what I think is the most recent big algorithm update. And that's the BERT update. Now, I guess, you and I were just talking about there was a core update that just happened a couple of days ago maybe, at the time of this recording, but there's not much information out about that yet. So, talk to the folks. What is the BERT update and what does it mean to us as marketers and merchants?

Russ:

Well, so, basically the BERT update the long story short on this thing is that Google has been improving its algorithm year after year, month after month, day after day in order to rank the best pages that have the most relevance for any keyword phrase. And this BERT update is just another step towards making the best content win, the most relevant page win, and not the spammer or the person that's manipulating the algorithm. So, there's not a whole heck of a lot you need to do if you're hearing about BERT, the BERT update and you're trying to figure out, "Oh, what am I supposed to do with this update?"

Brett:

What are the new tricks? What are the new tips.

Russ:

Right.

Brett:

What are the new hacks for SEO?

Russ:

There's no new tricks. It's just continuing to double down on understanding that really SEO is a subcategory of content marketing and understanding that you need be building just superior pages, and you're never going to probably have another update from Google where it's like, "Oh, there's these new loopholes and there's these new hacks and tricks." Right? All they're doing these days is just ratcheting down its ability to understand the nuances of language. For example, if I said to you Brett, as a human to human, if I said, "Do you want to go play some squash?" Who plays squash anymore?

Brett:

Yeah, I would like to watch someone play squash. I don't know how to play squash.

Russ:

Well you know what's hot? Is pickleball. Let's use pickleball.

Brett:

Pickleball is popular. I even know some that like pickleball. I've never played. It looks fun. I've got to play some time.

Russ:

But if I typed that in, how does a search engine or an algorithm understand the difference between pickle as something that is associated with the game versus the food group, right? Or being in a pickle, right? Which is a very nuanced way of using the word pickle. Same with the word squash, and you could play squash, you can squash a bug, you can eat a squash.

Brett:

You eat squash, you grow squash.

Russ:

And so, all this algorithm continues to do, and the BERT update's just another iteration upon, another layer on here where, where they're starting to understand the nuance of language. And so, I think we're going to get into some of this today, but understanding that long tail keywords are the game today, right? And the BERT update make long tail searches even more understandable by the, by that Google algorithm. They understand long tailed, very nuanced searches better after BERT than they ever have before.

Brett:

Yeah, I love it. And as an SEO guy that lived through the Panda and Penguin updates, kind of the original spam updates, getting rid of spammy content, spammy backlinks and all those things. I personally love the way where Google is headed because, for the most part, the best content, those that have the most readable, useful, relevant content win. And I think that's why it should be that that's better for the ecosystem in the long run and ...

Russ:

Yeah. I mean it's, it's great, right? For those of us that want to build an actual business, we want to build a sustained business. We aren't looking at churn and burn, a bunch of affiliate sites or do a bunch of weird stuff like that. All they keep doing is just weeding out those business models and those types of models, so that you know what you're getting in the Google search results is going to be an actual business that's not here today and gone tomorrow, but actually has a product and is going to be there for their customer for the long term.

Brett:

Yep. Love it. Love it. You'd mentioned something when we recorded before that I thought it was great and I'd like to dive into it just a little bit. You said that intent is the most important word in SEO right now. What do you mean by that? And why is that?

Russ:

Well, a lot of it is because the intelligence of Google these days. But even beyond that, if you want your SEO to be anything more than just a parlor trick, right? Where it's like, "Hey look, I got this page to rank in the search engine." Right? You need to back up a step. Because you and I have known forever and I think you and I have even ranted about this before, where we've maybe had a client or you've been talking to a business person and what they're really focused in on is rankings, right? They're like, "Oh man, why is, why is this competitor ranking above me on this?" And then you get people that get a little bit deeper and they understand that, "Okay, so maybe it's not about rankings. Rankings I can't take to the bank. Rankings don't help me put my kids through college. Maybe it's traffic that I'm really after."

Russ:

But it's really the folks that understand that, at the end of the day, the business metrics that matter, typically for us, are lead generation and sales, right? And so, if you want to go beyond thinking about SEO as a way to get rankings, which if you are, that's fine, but you're not driving business metrics when you do that. And it's really not about traffic either. It's about whether or not you're able to move somebody along that buyer's journey. And to do that, you've got to back up a step from, "Okay, how does SEO work? And what are the different little tricks and different things like that?" And go back to the very foundation of SEO, which is the keyword that you're looking to go after in the first place. The type of resource that you're going to build to satisfy someone's problem, right?

Russ:

And to do that, we have to back up, we have to start thinking about this word intent. Like what are our potential customers and our existing customers, what is their intent online and can we anticipate that intent? And then, can we then build a resource and optimize that resource in a way that satisfies that intent? There's a mouthful there and I think as you go along here you put some flesh on those bones, but the concept here is: we need to step back, consider intent, consider what people are trying to accomplish when they go online and use that to inform the keywords that we target, and inform the resources we're building.

Russ:

What this does is it keeps you from creating a bunch of just stuff to go online, and instead starts to align what you're producing, the assets you're producing, by assets I mean things like podcasts, blog posts, videos, sales pages, comparison pages, demo pages, whatever, all these different pages are, they should be built to meet the intent of one of your potential buyers.

Brett:

Yep. Yep. And it's one of those, it's the process of understanding, "Okay, my ideal customer, what questions are they going to be asking? What are they looking for at the different stages as they go through this shopping journey as they hopefully land on and decide on buying my product? What are the questions to ask along the way? How can I answer those questions in a way that's authentic and true and that makes them say, "Hmm, I really like this product." And then eventually, you know, hopefully it leads them to buy."

Brett:

And I think a couple of things that go into this, we talked about this last time too, people are getting more and more comfortable with search engines, right? It's a natural part of what we do. We search on Google often dozens of times a day. We're now very used to, very confident making specific queries, very detailed and specific queries. And part of that is fueled by voice, right? We like voice searches, easy and accurate now. And so, I think all these things kind of play together, right? We're searching in a very detailed fashion, we've got lots of things that we want to buy. I talk a lot about ads now, but this stat I'm about to share really applies to ads or content or whatever. But the number of touch points now that someone interacts with prior to purchase has really gone up, and it's gone up because it's just so much easier, right?

Brett:

So there's a study done by Think, published by Think by Google talking about how looking at some real customer journeys where a guy's buying a pair of noise canceling headphones and he has 300 touch points, and that includes blogs and videos and searches and websites clicked on and stuff like that. Or there was a lady looking for hypoallergenic makeup and it was 120 touch points, or something like that. We're doing that because it's easy and we can bounce back and forth, and we're on our phone and then we're on our desktop and we're able to just do our research pretty quickly.

Brett:

So, what I think it'd be helpful, Russ, is let's look at the stages of the shopping journey and how to identify what people's intent is at those different stages and then how do we create content to satisfy that intent at those different stages?

Russ:

So, when we think about intent, the way I like to think about it is that there's four stages of intent, right? And certainly, depending on your business, you could go and carve this up in any way you want. But a great exercise to do with your marketing team is to sit down and draw four columns. And at the top of each column you're going to write, at the top of the first one you're going to write research intent. In the second column, you're going to write compare intent. And then you're going to write buy intent in the third call, and then a type of intent that I call succeed intent in that fourth column.

Russ:

And each one of those columns represents a different stage in the journey from, "I don't know who you are, bro." To, "Not only am I purchasing but I'm also referring, I'm buying other products you sell. I'm a repeat buyer." Which is sort of that holy grail where we all want to get, where we've acquired a valuable customer, the great lifetime value that's referring and promoting us.

Russ:

So, if you think about it each one of these stages is going to, your potential customer is going to go to the web, going to go to Google and ask it different questions, and query different things at each of these stages of intent. We were talking earlier about using the example of an espresso machine, right?

Russ:

Heck yeah. Nice high ticket item. And it's probably going to represent hundreds of touch points a lot of times before someone buys one. And so, they're going to spend time in that research intent stage. And when they do that, what kinds of things, and I sit down and make a list because in a lot of ways, a lot of times the best keyword research tool is your brain, right? Just sitting down and writing some things out. And then you go to the tools to verify some things, and maybe tighten some things up, maybe use a synonym here or there because you see it's a little bit less competitive. But, at the end of the day, this is about you sitting down and thinking through your potential buyer and thinking about what types of things is this person going to type in during that research stag?. And then making a list of the ones where it's like, "We need content that satisfies this intent." Right?

Russ:

So, for an espresso machine, you can play it out in your head because I actually was in the process of buying an espresso machine. You're going to be researching everything from features and prices. So, espresso machine features, best espresso machine, and adding modifiers, what we call modifiers to that seed keyword of espresso machine, which is what you want to buy, right? You want to buy an espresso machine. You're going to add little modifiers to your search that indicate that you're in that research stage, and that's where you need to have a resource built or not, right? You could choose like, "You know what? We're not going to target that. We're going to get deeper and we're going to go deeper in towards compare stage or buy stage."

Brett:

Maybe you're saying, "Hey, we're just going to create content for people that are a little bit closer to purchase, and so maybe that higher in the funnel we're going to wait on resources and content around that potentially."

Russ:

Yeah. So, if I'm in the compare stage, so I've moved past research, means I've probably put some things together and there's certainly gray area and bleeding across in these stages. But compare stage STO is really, really fantastic SEO for eCommerce because you could go out there, and let's say you sell espresso machines, you could create pages that compare the two different products, very specific branded keywords, and SEO for those brands, so it's Nespresso F51, I'm just making things up versus ...

Russ:

... Nespresso blah, versus another brand. Types of espresso machines that maybe be unbranded, you can write articles about that, and these things tend to be low competition, but think about how high the intent is there, right? It's super intent. And really from an eCommerce standpoint between the SEO of your product pages, and your category pages and stuff like that, this is a fabulous, fabulous place to spend some time, is what resources could we build that help people make better buying decisions when they're comparing the products we sell, or even comparing products we don't sell? So, it's something we sell versus something we don't sell, right?

Russ:

And being kind of honest about it, like, "Don't buy this machine if you don't want to keep buying the rechargeable pack, the little packet things. If you want a something that grinds your coffee, this is the right one." And help people make the right decisions. Now, the best way to do this and defining these kinds of keywords is to type the name of the brands in to Google and then type VS which is versus, and then watch what Google suggests after that.

Brett:

The Google suggest is such a powerful tool and one of those underutilized, I mean, it's based on popularity, right? And it really gives an idea, it gives you an idea of, "Okay, people that are typing in this way, this is what they're looking for, what they're asking." I love how you said one of the best, the best resource was your brain, so start just by thinking through the process. And I think another one of those underutilized tools is just Google Suggests very powerful.

Russ:

Yeah. So, we're live with no net here. I just typed in Nespresso versus, right? So, what did I find, Nespresso versus ... Google is going to suggest keywords that lots of people type in. So there's lots of volume here. You're in this compare intent, so you're past research intent, right? People aren't now researching like what is espresso, or what is an espresso machine, different things like that. You're now in this compare stage where somebody is deeper in the funnel, which is why I really love this stage for eCommerce.

Russ:

And what Google is suggesting that I'm trying to type in here is Nespresso versus Keurig, Nespresso versus espresso, and Nespresso versus a Breville, Nespresso versus DeLonghi, Nespresso versus coffee, Nespresso versus Starbucks. So, another tip here is, so I just typed in Nespresso versus, I can type in the Nespresso versus and then just type the letter A.

Russ:

Now when I typed that letter a, now I get Nespresso versus AeroPress, which I've actually had an AeroPress.

Brett:

AeroPress is fantastic. Really easy, very simple.

Russ:

I like the AeroPress. I take it when I travel.

Brett:

Yeah, it's a great cup of coffee.

Russ:

It's A-E-R, right? So, it's starting to recommend all of the things to recommend to create a versus piece of content about, that start with the letter A. And you can do this for B, C, D and if you really get nuts, you can go and do this for AA and AB, but that's probably a little over the top. But Nespresso versus AeroPress, Nespresso versus automatic espresso, Nespresso versus Aristo. And so, you almost run into this situation where you have an unlimited amount of compare intent resources that need to be built. And so, you make a list of these things and you start to prioritize, right? Like what should be built first? And create that content to satisfy that compare intent.

Brett:

And thinking about, "Okay, what do I have something to say about? So, now I know something about AeroPress and I can actually speak from experience there and this could be a valuable resource. I'll start there." Right? Or Nespresso versus Breville, I've used both, Breville. I personally talk espresso machines. I like to be able to tamp, right? I like ...

Russ:

What is your recommendation, then?

Brett:

So, we have the Breville One Touch, at the OMG offices. It's great. It's pretty automated. At my house, I have a Breville that's a little less automated, but I like it. And I don't remember what the one at home is. But both have got a built in grinder but you use the tamp. And then, the one touch that we have in the office, like you pick, you know, hey, this is a flat white or this is the cappuccino or it's a latte and it's going to do the foam and all that on its own. It's like all fully automated. The one I have at home, it's just you get the wand and you're looking, and you're creating your ratio of air and thickness of the milk. and all that fun stuff.

Russ:

Again, I'm getting stuff here, you know, Brevile One Touch versus X and Y and Z. There's going to be shortage. So, think about both branded, so what I'm doing here is branded, right? These are called branded keywords, so I have a branded product, it's a Breville One Touch, right? And then I say versus. But you can also go unbranded where you're your like, "Automatic espresso machine versus manual espresso machine." And do things. So, those are going to be unbranded searches. That'll bring people in before they're even starting to look at a brand. Now they're going to have a little less buyer intent, but it could still be a great keyword for you guys ...

Brett:

But still better than someone just typing in espresso machine, right? Because now they're at least thinking about, "Oh, I got different option. Do I want automated? Do I want a little bit of manual? What kind of espresso machine do I want?" And that means they're a little. At least a little further down in the buying process.

Russ:

Absolutely.

Brett:

Great. Do you have any suggestions for how do you decide what content to create? So, we could create video, we could create a podcast, we could write a blog post. And one interesting thing to talk about as we're looking at different formats, and you have, I'm sure, more details here than I do, but I know Google is working on where you ask a question and Google surfaces a YouTube video that answers that question. It will be queued up to where the answer is in the video. And I hear the same thing as coming with podcasts as well. I'm beginning to see podcasts show up more in the search, more in the search engine results page. And so, I love that, and I like creating content actually.

Brett:

But any suggestions on do we write a blog post? We do we create a video, do we create a podcast or do a little bit of everything? Any suggestions there?

Russ:

Right. So, you're right, I mean, I'm seeing the same thing. There was recent news coming out that that a smart ID to get your podcast into Google podcasts because they are starting to index podcasts. They are indexing, obviously, video and there's a lot that can be done there. I am still a text guy, still an HTML guy, but with with something like an espresso machine or really any physical product I like video as well to augment that page.

Russ:

And so, I wouldn't call these resources at the compare stage, especially, blog posts. I would build pages that, so I recommend that you build pages and you can see, if you go into Google, you're listening to this, I use it as an example a lot in the software space type in FreshBooks versus, and you'll see the whole bunch of lists of things that people try to compare FreshBooks again and click on FreshBooks versus QuickBooks, and you'll see that FreshBooks has really smart, they've built a compare stage intent page that compares FreshBooks to QuickBooks.

Russ:

And you go in there and you'll see this is not a blog post, it's a page that literally lays out the argument for FreshBooks against QuickBooks. And so, I wouldn't really consider it a blog post. Although it is meant to be informative, it's also quite salesy, right? It's like, "Look, this is how we stack up against QuickBooks and you should choose us." And of course the call to action inside that page, and this is why I really love these kinds of pages, a great place to start for software companies, but definitely for eComm companies is the call to action in there is, "Go buy the product."

Brett:

Yeah. Buy it or do a free trial.

Russ:

Take a free trial. So, REI in the physical product space, REI is really, really fantastic at creating content at the research stage. So, they'll create a piece like the ultimate mountain biking checklist. And it'll be a big blog post type thing, but it's just riddled. Home Depot, Lowe's, they do the same thing riddled with links to buy these things. So, it's like here's the helmet, here's the bike lock, here's the shoes, here's all the stuff you need to do this. So, while it's designed to be super informative and meet somebody at that research stage, the call to action is, "Go on over there and buy the shoes, buy the bike, buy everything you need to be a mountain biker."

Brett:

Yeah, I love that. And it's a different mindset than sitting down, "All right, I've got to create my intro paragraph and then my second paragraph." It begins to feel like an English term paper or something rather than this is a resource that has visuals that's got a side by side comparison. It's a bullet list and it's a little salesy at times. Those things can work very well for this kind of resource at these stages.

Brett:

Excellent. Let's talk about the buy stage and the succeed stage as well, but any other thoughts on deciding what medium to craft your resources in?

Russ:

Well, there's a couple of things there that we could talk about. One is medium, and if you want to call medium, is it an image? There's really only four different ways we create content online. It's either text, audio, image, video, right? So, again, I do like HTML text on a page, with all the on page SEO done and augmenting that with, if it makes sense, some kind of demo or something like that of the product on these compare pages. But the other thing to think about is the channel that we use, because today SEO is so much bigger than Google, right? And somebody said, "But Russ, between Google and YouTube, they own 90% of the market." And it's like, "Absolutely."

Russ:

But think about all the different apps that we use, the massive websites that we use every day. They're all search engines, right? In some capacity. They all have search functionality. And the cool thing is that most of them are light years behind Google, and are much easier to get ranked inside of, for example, Pinterest than it is to get ranked inside of Google for the same keyword phrases. Pinterest is still very reliant on weaker search engine technology that's just looking for exact match, where it's like ... You remember the old days when people are spitting out bestespressomachineintheworld.com? That kind of thing, where you're creating pins and boards and stuff like that have exact matches to the keywords you're looking to go after? That stuff still works over in these weaker search engines and you can drive traffic out of these channels much easier than you can get traffic, especially if you're just getting started through Google with a low authority site.

Russ:

So, what kind of content are we producing? Is it audio, is it video? I don't hate video either. For eComm, I really, really think video's strong but I'm still, if you were to tell me, |I'm looking to get my SEO started for eComm." It depends on what your business goal is where the opportunity is. I would either be telling you to spend time optimizing for compare stage intent, building pages with HTML text on them, augmenting the video if you can. If you don't have the bandwidth or resources, forget the video, but just create a page that compares this PA, this product to that product.

Russ:

Or I'd be telling you, if you're less interested in the front end where you're trying to acquire new customers and you're more interested in retention and loyalty, I'd be more interested in building content at the succeed stage, that last stage, which is very unsexy, much less actually then acquiring new customers is selling more to the ones you already have and getting them to promote and refer and and cross sell and other things. But you know, we've also learned ...

Brett:

It's extremely valuable, and a lot of people don't think about that from the content strategy of how do we influence that succeed stage of, one, making sure someone has a great experience with the products, so content to help them really enjoy and use the product well. And then content that's going to cause them to buy more, buy something else, refer ...

Russ:

Deflecting refunds and deflecting customer service issues, tickets and calls and stuff like that. If that's an issue, you're going to get that too. Take our espresso machine. So, if we skip past that bias stage, which is a little obvious, right? What are we looking to optimize for the bias stage? Well, we're looking to optimize probably a product or a category page. But when we think, it's a little bit different, is to think about SEO as it pertains to the person who already bought your product before.

Russ:

So, in the case of the espresso machine, Brett wants to create amazing espresso. He wants to dazzle his wife and his family with his amazing barista skills, and his friends, and all these things, and he wants to have great espresso. And so, how do we make him more successful with the product we've already sold him? That's one thing. But how do we avoid creating frustration?Because if you're like me, and I think most people are these days, we don't read the instruction manual. We take the thing out of the box, we start playing with it. And then, when I run into a problem, I'm like, "Oh, I really want to know how to make that cute little heart at the top of my ... "

Brett:

Which is really hard by the way, which I feel like I'm a pretty good barista. People want to come to my house and have my espresso. But the heart is difficult. When I'm creating latte art, I like to call it more like a Rorschach test. So, I'm going to make something, you're going to have to see what you see in that, and maybe we could psychoanalyze that, but it's more of a Rorschach thing, but it's going to taste amazing.

Russ:

Yeah, I mean, totally. And you think that's silly, but that's a great piece of content, especially for video, for an espresso maker and somebody selling espresso machines. But even before that, thinking about how do you reduce the frustration, the friction of getting your products set up, like you get a piece of technology, typically you're going to have that little quick start guide in there where they're just trying to get you onboarded as quickly as possible, and get you to have some level of delight with the product as quickly as possible.

Russ:

Well, nothing slows that down more than they don't know how to get it set up. They don't know how to install something properly. The most unsexy example in the world is that we bought a new dishwasher, ordered in online, I'm here in my office, I come home and it's installed right? And I'm like, "Dude, boom, there it is. Sweet." And I look at it and I'm like, "Look at all these buttons on here. Look, this is just a fancy dishwasher." Well, I went to the web, I went to Google to figure out what is this button, what does it do? And I'm a nerd, but I think I'm like most people where more and more we're turning to the web to succeed with the products that we buy.

Brett:

We know the manual is going to be written by some techy that doesn't speak our language. We'd rather go to Google, find something that's quick and easy or ask a specific question that's maybe buried in the middle of the manual or something. We'll just search for it, find it. Or maybe we'll watch a YouTube video. I actually watched several YouTube videos setting up the espresso machine because it was step-by-step and a little bit easier. But sometimes I prefer to read. So yeah, we'll go to Google to get to be successful. It makes sense.

Russ:

Yeah. I like to smoke a cigar once in a while. Like a good cigar, okay? Like really good cigars. So, I buy my cigars from JR Cigars online and they ship them to me. But content that they produce, a lot of times this kind of content can both attract new buyers and support the succeed. So, what they do is they create videos that help you to pair your cigar with the right whiskies, with the right after, is this an after dinner thing? Is this a ...

Russ:

And this is content marketing at its finest, and it's SEO at its finest. I'm searching for the right experience, and so I might be in that research compare stage out front, or I might already have the product in my hand and I want to have more fun with it, or I want to have a better experience, or I want to be able to use it better. And depending on where you want to attack, you could keep a content team busy on either one of these sides of the purchase, whether it's on the backend where you're looking to really grow a rabid, loyal group of people that want to buy more cigars, or espresso, or whatever from you. Or you could look to drive more demand on the frontend with a lot of compare intent type content. But either way, you could keep an SEO and a writer and a content producer very busy.

Russ:

And you know, then, if you're the one ... And really, I believe this, it takes a marketing mind, not a writer, writers are sometimes not the same as marketers, or a content producer's not always the same, it takes a marketer to set this strategy and look and say, "Okay, who's the customer? What will their intent be? And what resources need to be built? And then you can go set your content producer to go produce that stuff, write it, shoot it, record it, whatever. But you as the marketer should be the one setting that strategy and determining intent. If you can determine intent, then you go set your content producers off to do the work of producing that stuff.

Brett:

Yep. I love it. So, you mention REI before, and REI's a great company at creating content at these different stages, who else would you recommend people pay attention to? Because I think sometimes the best way to learn is get on some email lists, follow some sites, watch them re-market to you and what are they sending you? Check out someone's blog, things like that, who do you recommend?

Russ:

So, in the clothing space, I like Nordstrom actually. They create a lot of content that's right there up against the buy stage. Things that would cause you to have friction between the purchase, whether it's in-sore or online, I really like a piece of content like the suit sizing guide. It's on there, it's telling you ...

Brett:

Which is confusing for a lot of people. It's not easy to pick out a suit, not just an XL suit, there's all kinds of stuff you've got to think about.

Russ:

Absolutely. And if you're going to order something online, or if you're coming in-store and you're online, you're looking for a suit and maybe you're on Nordstrom's site, this creates friction between, and you might be embarrassed, like, "I don't know what the different cuts of the suit are." And this removes that friction. Give me another category.

Brett:

We've talked apparel, we've talked cigars.

Russ:

I mean, Home Depot and Lowes, and stuff like that, fantastic in their categories. But you could picture, like if you were selling fitness products, man, there's never-ending things to compare in that space, and a never-ending amount of intent at the succeed stage because these people want to get more fit, they want to lose weight, they want to do these things. This stuff is not super hard to figure out. Once you sit down and you say, "Well, dang, you're right. What would they be comparing? What's Google telling me they're comparing? Let's build resources that satisfy that intent and what kinds of things were they looking to do? What are their goals and how can we help them achieve them better? It satisfies an intent at that succeed stage as well.

Brett:

I love it. I love it. This was so good. This was the type of thing that everyone should go through, this exercise of thinking about how to influence at the different stages. And I really like the idea of the compare stage and the succeed stage, those may be the most immediately impactful stages. The compare side because that's when there's still lots of searches for some of those queries but someone's closer to purchase. The succeed stage really is about helping someone enjoy your product more and then refer more and buy more, and that can move the needle very quickly.

Brett:

The buy stage is relatively straightforward because it's really your product detail page and your.

Russ:

Yeah, it is. And it's hard to rank. You're going to have a hard time outranking Amazon for that page.

Brett:

You are.

Russ:

And so, if you want to take just a step outside of SEO for a second, because you and I are not necessarily in any one discipline of marketing, we know that this is a holistic approach, this type of resources you build, these compare stage and succeed stage resources, let's think about a page you've built that compares the Breville this to the One Touch that, right? That's a good piece of content to go out to a prospect email list, to go out to do paid ads, to drop out onto social media. It's not the sexiest thing in the world, but the clicks you're going to get are very high intent, that's why the word intent is so important.

Russ:

If I click on a comparison between this and that, man, you've got a potential buyer right there.

Brett:

For sure.

Russ:

And if you can find a way to either ascend them from that page with a call to action, or re-target them, or use all the different things we have at our disposal to bring that person back into the funnel, these are really powerful, I call them money pages, this is a money page that you're building, and that's what you want to be building is money pages.

Russ:

And then, on the backend with that succeed stuff, using your email list to drip out succeed stage content to people that bought your espresso machine, or whatever it is you sell. Would Brett a week after he bought, if there's a well-timed email that dropped into his inbox that said, "How to create the heart on the top of your espresso machine." He probably would watch that video.

Brett:

I'd be all over it, man. I'd be all over it.

Russ:

So, that's what I mean, is this isn't just about SEO, this is about anticipating intent and producing resources that satisfy that intent and using whatever traffic channels you have at your disposal. Don't limit this to search. But these are really great search strategies, really great. There's going to be some volume there, and it's super high intent.

Russ:

And then on the succeed stuff, we used to have a metric when I worked at SalesForce, every piece of content that we produced that was in that succeed stage, that would help people use SalesForce's software better, on the team that I was on every visit to that page represented a number, and that number was the amount of money it cost us to pay a customer service representative to walk somebody through that same process that was on that page, it's called call deflection or ticket deflection. It's actually represented in our team's metrics that visits to these pages represent customer satisfaction and loyalty, and call deflection, ticket deflection, right? Reducing the amount of customer service tickets that we were receiving and phone calls we're getting into call centers, using content ...

Brett:

Which is real economic value.

Russ:

Yeah. This is the kind of stuff where you go in, as a content marketer anyway, which none of you guys are necessarily, but this was my goal from the time I started becoming a content marketer all the way through to now is how does content marketing actually affect real business goals? And this is how you do it: you optimize for the comparison of two espresso machines and people start, you catch on to a good ranking there, you're going to make money off that page. You go run some traffic to it out of Facebook, or whatever, or buy that keyword at the top with AdWords, or whatever, and experiment with different traffic sources because this isn't just about search.

Brett:

Love it, man. This was super, super powerful stuff. Very, very valuable. Let's transition a little bit, let's talk about The Clikk. So, TheClick.com, your newsletter. So, why a daily newsletter? What inspired you to do this? Why you doing it? And tell us a little bit about it.

Russ:

So, The Clikk is an email first content marketing plan, on my part, and right now it's the only place you can get the content that I'm producing is by subscribing to this newsletter. The Clikk, it's spelled C-L-I-K-K, somebody said, "Why didn't you get C-L-I-C-K?" I said, "Because the domain was gone." So, it's C-L-I ...

Brett:

..a million dollars for it.

Russ:

C-L-I-K-K. They did, they wanted something ridiculous for it and I was like, "Ah, I kind of like this anyway." So, why email? A couple of reasons. I've been watching a couple of other businesses for a few years now, TheSkimm.com has become a legitimate publisher in this world, they're email first. TheSkimm.com has eight million subscribers, or something ridiculous.

Brett:

Wow.

Russ:

The Hustle, The Morning Brew, these are a couple that are in more of the Wall Street Journal type content space, and they're doing really well. And it's not hard to figure out why. Email is still the most powerful channel when it comes to actually getting pe- I talk to people all day long about business and all this stuff, and they'll talk to me about social media, and using Twitter, and using all these different things, and writing blog posts and doing all these things. At the end of the day, we need to own our media, right? You want to own that media and the best way to own your media still is email.

Brett:

It's still super powerful, yeah.

Russ:

So, creating this business has been about really focusing in on a few metrics, which is my conversion rate on the page, and then what are my open rates? And what are my click through rates in TheClikk.com? And creating the best product that I possibly can to keep those numbers as high as possible because it's a publishing play, right? So, it's going to sell ads eventually when it hits scale, and it's been a lot of fun to put together. I have a team of writers that I work with every day, I have a cartoonist, I have a graphic designer that makes cool stuff, and we are here for anybody that is into digital business, and we're creating what we think is the best resource about digital marketing and digital business news, and what's happening with Insta and Facebook and Google, all the big players, all that stuff. And we have a lot of fun in there. I have a little trivia question that I do in there every day, there's cartoons in there, like I said. So, it's fun, it's been a lot of fun to do.

Brett:

Yeah. It's very informative. As I mentioned, I read it every day, I enjoy it, it is fun, it's engaging. And if you listen to this podcast and you said, "Dude, I've got to have more Russ Henneberry in my life." You can have more Russ Henneberry in your inbox tomorrow. The Clikk.com.

Brett:

So Russ, this has been brilliant. Man, thank you so much for coming on. Had a blast, as always. And look forward to catching up at our next event, or whatever.

Russ:

Brett, it's been a pleasure and I will be down at your house in Missouri very shortly for an espresso.

Brett:

For an espresso. Come on, dude. Yeah, anybody's welcome. I'm happy to play barista for a little bit. So, with that I will link to The Clikk and the other resources we talked about, I will put those in the show notes as always. And with that, until next time, as always, thank you for tuning in.

Brett:

That's a wrap. Really good stuff. That was fun.

Russ:

That was fun.

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