Today our SEMrush Pro Talk guest is Phil Byrne, internet marketing specialist and blogger. Phil has been an internet marketing specialist for more than 15 years, and is the author of "Head In The Clouds: The Location Independent Office" and "SEO For Content Writers & PR Pros."
We asked Phil for his thoughts on content strategy, customer service and five components of good text.
Phil, tell us, how did you get started? What helped you become an expert?
I'm "old enough" to have worked in web design and internet marketing right from its early dial-up access beginnings in the late 1990s. I started my business life as a graphic designer and event organizer, but quickly jumped online when the internet came along. I made my first-ever website with Netscape Composer, well before the days of Dreamweaver! Right from the beginning I always mixed working with clients with creating and promoting my own sites. This combination has allowed me to learn how to promote a variety of business types online.
The biggest tip I can give to anyone looking to create an online business is to really focus on the customer. We usually start a business because we want to do well in life, earn more money or to show the world what a clever person we are. All of those reasons are focused on us, not our customers. Try to create something your customers really want, rather than your own clone of what they have already. Create — and do — amazing things for your customers and everything you personally want usually follows.
Blogs, social media, press releases, articles — should all content be produced under a unified strategy? Or is various content in different channels the best way to go?
I think everything we do in marketing, both on and offline, should come from a central unified strategy. That strategy is not just about "how" we are going to promote our business, (e.g. through the channels of PPC, SEO, social media, content marketing etc.), it should also focus on "what" we are going to promote, too.
We mentioned above the importance of doing great things for our customers, focusing on them and not ourselves within our business. Having this as a business aim means that we’ve become truly customer-focused by default. This in turn makes marketing so much easier, both on and offline.
Our web marketing strategy needs to ensure that the great things we do for our customers are central to, and reflected within, all of the content we create and promote. It's a competitive world out there. If we know what makes us different and how to make that the core of our marketing, we'll motivate our customers, our brand and ourselves to strive further in what we do. There are many phrases used online to describe finding and promoting unique selling points. I call these "brand positive" qualities.
What do you think is the right amount of interaction among an SEO specialist, PR manager and social media manager?
As much as possible without infringing on getting the actual work done. There is so much to do in web marketing these days; it's very much a team effort. Teams have to communicate in order to ensure everything they do benefits and enhances what everyone else is doing.
Overall, someone has to be the web marketing manager and look to keep communication flowing between all parties. Furthermore, they should also look to ensure that everything promoted online focuses on the brand positive qualities we discussed above. Everything has to flow with the same tone, style and selling points. Communication is key in achieving that.
How do you estimate the quality of content? Should it increase sales? Should it just be informative? Or both?
I think that's a great question: how do we measure what we do? The first thing I believe we have to do is really think about the web marketing channels we are using. What can we expect SEO to deliver that PPC cannot? Or, what can social media deliver that PPC or SEO cannot?
The best way we evaluate web marketing overall is to look at the visitors we attract. I split website traffic into two main kinds: "Buy Now" and "Connect Now" visitors. "Buy Now" visitors have already made a decision to purchase something, and are now looking for the best place to buy it. "Connect Now" visitors are intrigued by something, and they want information to learn more about how something can enhance their lives.
There are always way more "Connect Now" visitors than there are "Buy Now" ones. PPC is perhaps the most powerful way of attracting "Buy Now" visitors to our site. Content is useful to both kinds of visitors, but more so for "Connect Now" visitors. Good content marketing gives "Connect Now" visitors the information they want, and also aims to inspire them enough to happily have us stay in touch with them. This way, should they become a "Buy Now" visitor in the future, we already have a relationship with them intact.
So, to answer, should content marketing increase sales? It can, but more importantly, it should increase new and relevant connections. Judging content marketing by the number of connections it generates for your business is a better way to evaluate it.
What are five components of good text?
Authenticity: Create content around what you really believe, based on your ways of doing things that are unique to your business. This way people get a real impression of your business and business methods. People Buy People: Sometimes we hide the people in a business behind a corporate voice and style. With content, let your people come forward and share their personal expertise and experience. Customer Focus: Give your customers information that is really useful to them, that solves a problem or deepens their knowledge of your world. Look for a Connection: As discussed above, don't push people to buy. It's a big jump from visiting your pages/content to becoming a customer right away. So, at first, look to build a connection with people interested in your expertise. Accessible and Easy to Follow: We digest content quickly online and in a variety of formats. Your content needs to be cross-media and easily digested should people want to learn more.
Thank you, Phil!