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TJ24 – Blogging: They Ask We Answer Method With Marcus Sheridan

TJ with James and Marcus Sheridan WATERMARKED

 

This week’s episode tells a story of how a “regular pool guy” turned around a struggling business in the height of the financial down turn by writing blog posts that answered the very questions he was asked every day by his customers. This simple yet powerful “they ask, we answer” method is now taught by Marcus at conferences around the world and on his website TheSalesLion.

Does it work? You bet! Marcus’s original website RoverPoolsAnd Spas.com is now the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world. It totally crushes its competitors in the SEO stakes, dominating for most of its target keywords. Marcus says he’s not an SEO expert, however his methods work very well to attract Google search traffic. Listen in and learn how you too can attract more traffic with Marcus’ method.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Epic Blog Posts
  • Effective Post  Titles
  • Grammar – Is It Important?
  • Blog Post Lengths
  • Content Marketing Is A Long Term Strategy
  • Putting Content Together
  • Getting Over The Writer’s Block
  • The Coffee Shop Approach
  • SEO and Social Media with Content Marketing
  • Email Listing
  • Panda/Penguin/Hummingbird Effects

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Hey there listeners! This is James Reynolds and you’re tuned in to Traffic Jam episode#24 and of course this is the podcast show that teaches you how to get more traffic, leads and sales from your website and build a profitable audience online. As always, I am super thankful that you can join me here on the show today, I really do value your time and I hope that you get a lot of value yourself out of the time that you’d invest in listening to Traffic Jam. I think today’s show is certainly one of the episodes with a huge number of takeaways, but not only that, my guest today has really got an inspiring story so I am looking forward to sharing that with you in a moment or two. Of course, as always, we’re going to have the regular segments of the show which is the One Minute Traffic tip, a really short bit of actionable advice that you can go and implement, hopefully right away. We’ve got the news from traffic- all of the news from traffic generation in the past 7 days; that’s the segment we call This Week’s News in Traffic. We’ll have some listener comments and reviews and of course we’ll end the show with our Traffic Jam jam, and today that will be chosen by Marcus Sheridan. He’s the guest.

Marcus has a fantastically inspiring story that I think most business owners would find very encouraging indeed. Just a few years ago, Marcus wasn’t the consultant and speaker at the SalesLine.com that he is now. He, in his own words, was a regular pool guy. He had a company that installed fiberglass within homes. And as you can imagine, at the height of the financial crisis when the property downturn happened, people’s resources and funds for such things as swimming pools had pretty much dried up. So Marcus’ company have found themselves in quite a spot of bother. But Marcus, using the power of content marketing and blogging, was able to turn his business around in to a huge success and create a website that became the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world. Marcus did all of this just with a few hours a day in the evening, blogging about the biggest questions that his prospects and customers had. He calls it, They Ask, You Answer. That’s the concept behind it; he answers every single question that you can ever imagine from a prospect inclined on his website creating valuable content that draws people in to his website primarily through search engine. So Marcus tells us all about this one particular strategy in today’s interview plus lots of other really cool traffic grabbing tips. So let’s get stuck in to the interview right now, it’s with Marcus Sheridan and he’s from the SalesLion.com

James: So as mentioned at the top of the episode, joining me on today’s show is Marcus Sheridan from TheSalesLion.com. Marcus, welcome to Traffic Jam!

Marcus: Hey, man. James, thanks for having me man. I’m excited to be here and hopefully I can say something of value for all those listeners you got.

James: I am sure you will. Well, anyway let’s get stuck straight in. I am not one for kind of a lot of preamble. I want to start off with something actually here, a little bit of fun and a little bit out of the ordinary. When we were setting up this session you told me that you’d like to address some of the issues and attack some of the misses of content marketing so we’re going to play a little game of truth or delusion to kick things off if you’re up for it.

Marcus: Yes, I am absolutely up for it.

James: Awesome! So I am going to give you a statement and you’re going to answer with truth or delusion and tell us why. So are you ready for the first one?

Marcus: Ready.

James: Awesome. Okay, so first one is: to succeed with blogging, you’ve got to create epic blog posts, truth or delusion?

Marcus: Delusional in terms of the way people define epic. I think that’s actually one of the biggest misnomers in the industry because the way we define epic or awesome or amazing or even great varies from person to person. I mean, ultimately, James, if we’re trying to be helpful, I think giving help is pretty awesome. And informative to me is pretty stinkin’ awesome. And if one person reads your content and says, Ah! Now I understand. Now I have the answer to my problem. Now I have a solution to my issues. That therefore is epic stuff. It’s not epic the way that the rest of the world might expect. They might think that it’s got tons of visual this and visual that and numbers and graphs and charts. We just get overwhelmed with all these epic stuff and nothing great gets accomplished for most companies.

James: Yeah, delusional. And it is one of those buzzwords out there right now so it is one of the first questions I want to attack. I think there is quite a lot of pressure perhaps on business owners to really get in the state of overwhelm in content marketing so I am glad that you’ve answered that one in the way that you have. Alright, we’ll hit the next one, share your very best content even if that means you’re at risk of educating your competitors, truth or delusion?

Marcus: If that’s fully true, I don’t care. You should never base a single marketing decision based on your competition. And so until the competition pays your bills, they should not even come in to the fray of the argument and the discussion of what is going to provide value for our prospects and our existing clients. And I just don’t understand why companies will not publish something for fear of what the competition, who has no impact in their bottom line in a good way, whatever the competition will feel, will see, will hear or say – we give the competition too much credit for taking our good stuff. We really, really do. Produce it and whatever you do, who cares?

James: Yeah, sure. Cool! Well let’s roll on. The best blog post titles are intriguing, funny or outrageous as they’ll find the most clicks.

Marcus: Delusional! Delusional 99% of the time; here’s the thing, for most businesses that don’t have this massive list of thousands of subscribers, let’s look at it like this- if you’ve got a huge email list and you’re trying to get people to click through, you might want to come up with writing catchy subject lines, but when it comes to your website, blogs, articles, etc., you shouldn’t try to be witty, or funny or snappy or any of those things. Because guess what, the search engines don’t know what the heck you are talking about. And if they don’t know what you’re talking about, they won’t like your stuff. And regular people, they just want to know what you’re talking about. If they’re confused at all and they have to interpret what the hell you’re going to lose them. I think the number one mistake, I mean it is easily in the top three of all mistakes I see for most businesses, except for those who are on content marketing and blogging, they come up with witty, and catchy, and all these other types of titles. Well, it is not a newspaper, it is not a magazine; you’re not trying to get someone to pull it off the shelf. It does not work like this so you have to be a straightforward. The best article I ever wrote when I was a pool guy was How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost? What is witty about that? None of the stuff that I do that is not that so many articles that have been read so many times and it’s not about some amazing title, tell the people exactly what you’re going to tell them!

James: Got it! Okay cool, next one – grammar is really important and slag should be avoided as it’s unprofessional – truth or delusion?

Marcus: Delusional! And I would say in this regard, if you look at the internet, the companies that are great with this are the ones that are willing to make mistakes on the fly. Sometimes as an individual they’ve never made a blog and they’re not great reader. I am telling you what, James, if you look at my stuff from four years ago it’s like this big mass of content turd. I mean there’s grammatical mistakes, there’s just a bunch of problem and one would look at that, like the internet police that they have today, they would have looked at that and they would have said, oh look at that guy over there, he’s got bad grammar, he’s not a good writer, and I would have listened to them and get all upset. Well it’s a good thing I did not listen to anybody and I did not really care. I was just trying to get better, I was just trying to lead traffic and sales to my website. Am I seeing that you are irresponsible and unprofessional? I am not saying that, but I am saying, if you would have asked me a question at a coffee shop, and I answer it in a certain way, that’s the same way I should answer on my blog for the most part. Yes, I want to be professional, but I want to be personal too! And there is a beautiful mesh between the two if you can find it.

James: Yeah! Got it. Okay, cool! Well I’m going to hit you up with the last one and that’s longer blog posts are better as they rank more strongly on Google, truth or delusion?

Marcus: It’s a really good one! I’m going to say truth based on if you have 2 good pieces of content and let’s say they both have the same title, the same basic group of words, one is 500 words one is 1500 words – the way that hummingbird is now working, the way Google is now working, the 1500 words will outperform the 500 words.

James: Okay, so what you’re saying is- where possible, aim longer if you can.

Marcus: If it makes sense. I don’t think you should stuff words in there that don’t make sense. But if you’re providing the value whole way and if more means more helpful, not just words, then it makes sense to do it and you should do it. Yeah.

James: Got it! Okay, awesome! How fun was that?

Marcus: I had a lot of fun! It was way better than like any other interview that I had so it’s awesome man! Here’s the thing, we do these types of interviews, first of all, nobody wants to hear about me at first until we get going. And they might not want to hear about me at all because the truth is, they just want to know how to solve their problems. That’s what they’re really interested in. and a lot of broadcasts, they just take too much time to get to the meat so it was beautiful because we took care of the meat. If we have advertisers, fine. But we took care of the meat already and it’s beautiful.

James: Awesome! Well I am going to ask you to tell your story now because you have not always been this marketing who travels the world and speaks at conferences and talks to guys like me on podcasts. You were once a humble pool guy. Tell us about that whole evolution of where you got today because I think it is probably quite relevant for our listener and a little bit inspiring as well.

Marcus: Yeah, it’s relevant and I am going to give you the quick 101. I started a swimming pool company that installs in ground swimming pools with two business partners in 2001 and things were going okay until the end of 2008 when the market crashed here in the United States. Nobody could get a loan for a pool anymore because home values were down so much. And so we went through a period in 20009 where we were three straight weeks overdrawn in our bank accounts and every consultant that I talked to told us to close our doors. And so I had to generate more leads than I ever had in a terrible, terrible time to save my business, otherwise I was going to lose my home, I was going to lose everything I had and I did not have any money to do all this stuff. I could not advertise, I just could not throw money I the wind, so I started reading about social and inbound and content marketing and all these things. And the way I understood it was if I’d become the best teacher online about that thing that I do, I’m  going to get rewarded by people and the search engines alike and that’s going to generate more traffic, leads, and ultimately sales. That’s how I saw it. And so what we did with river pools  was that we said okay, we’ve gotten hundreds if not thousands of questions over the years about pools. Why don’t we make our philosophy, our golden rule – they ask we answer, which I think is the ultimate golden rule for anybody today who has been great online. Whenever they ask a question, you answer it. And you should try to give a good answer, an honest answer, a transparent answer. So that’s what we did. We took every question, good, bad and ugly – and turned it in to that title of the blog post. And then we would answer it, and it would be transparent as heck and what happened is, few things: from a search perspective, we just started to blow it up because Google said, finally somebody’s willing to answer these questions that nobody else seem to want to address like how much will the fiberglass cost? That’s the famous one. Also, people started reading the site and they started reading tons of pages on the site. To make a long story really short, River Pools and Spas today is the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world. It gets about 200,000 visitors a month, it saved the business and because of the success that river pools has had, I started writing about the success about a year in to it and started what was at that time just a blog called the sales lion and it turned out to be a great move because people started wanting me to come to conferences and tell that story and teach about what we do at river pools. And so today, that’s what I do, I travel the world and I speak and I consult. My company’s called the sales lion and it’s great life and river pools continues to blow up, the sales lion has blown up, and I am just trying to help everybody see that best teacher in the world at what you do and if you’re the best teacher, you hear better than anybody, you hear what the customer says, what the consumer is saying, you think like them, you feel like them, and even if you address the concerns that they have in the way that they want to get it, you’re going to be incredibly successful.

James: Yeah, I think, I mean, think about how you’ve got going with all of this. Because content marketing, let’s face it, it’s not a short term play, it’s a long term strategy. What gave you the courage and persistence to keep at it early on when your business in such trouble?

Marcus: Well, I think, first of all, we can’t define how quick this is going to work. I know of clients that I have, they will write a blog post today, they will get a lead in a week, there will be a customer in three weeks and that’s a big deal. I’ll see other people write their blog post today and they will not see their first lead for a month or two, maybe three. It is rare it takes that long especially if you are doing it the right way. But we can’t put a timeframe on this but what we can say is we all see where the train is headed, we see how consumer behavior has changed. We see how it all see Google as the source of all light, truth and knowledge that we go there and we want to ask it every single question – crazy questions, odd questions, consumer based questions, buying questions, best of questions, how much is it question, compare this question, we do it for every single thing that we are thinking about. And because of this, and because it is only going to get worse, it’s not going to change, we are not going back to the yellow pages, we are not going back to the paper, we are not going back to these things, we have to see forward and embrace it. And so it does not really matter how long it’s going to take. That is irrelevant to where we all are It’s interesting to me because there was this little period of time, about 10 years ago when a lot people said I just don’t see how a website is relevant to my business. Well it is impossible that anyone today does not have a website. Pretty much 99% of all businesses, they have a website before they go in to business. It’s almost like you don’t have a business until you have a digital footprint, right? But that was unheard of 10 years ago. Well today, if you don’t have content and if you don’t try to be a teacher, if you don’t try to be informative, you’re going to get laughed off at the end of the day at this digital stage. People will laugh you by and you will just be wondering what the heck happened.

James: Yeah, it seems strange right? I’m thinking back 10 years now to that sort of decision process that was happening every single business at the time, shall we or shan’t we embrace online has now become a – well, it’s not even an option now right? We have to go there, otherwise you’ll be left behind, and perhaps even go out of business –

Marcus: Well, that’s it James. That’s exactly why if you look at the last ten years, we’ve constantly relived the story of David versus Goliath and there’s all these digital Davids and because they did not have a huge budget to compete with the media of some of these huge brands they just went right under it all and they did it through the internet, and many of them have overcome the big brands now because they were able to be just like a David quick and nimble and fast and outside the box and they embraced these things early. I tell you who stinks online – the companies who have a bunch of red tape, they have to give every single word that they write on their website approved by some stinking lawyer, by a board of trustees or whatever it is, those are the companies that are dying on the vine while the ones that like are said are quick and nimble and fast, they’re the ones that are doing unbelievable things. They’re generating the most attention, the most trust, and ultimately because of that the most sales.

James: Yeah, good. Well I really want to talk about now Marcus the kind of the practical application of this stuff because you’ve clearly got a formula for this for the question based blogging method that you use, with your approval would you share the overarching strategy or structure of how you put this type of thing together?

Marcus: Well, yeah sure, and I mentioned it a little bit, we do this with every single client, we do it the exact same way, and the first thing that we do is we get in the person of the company that talks to the prospects, and communicates with prospects and customers and clients on a consistent basis. That might be somebody. Sales is the best ones, customer service are the great ones too. And so we say, what are the questions that you get every single day? We brainstorm those questions. Now I have never seen a company do this the right way and come up with less than a hundred questions. And lots of times, they’ll come up with 200 or 300 or up to 500, sometimes in the thousands depending on how many people are doing it. I believe it is on your website. And so take each one of those questions and you turn it in to a title of a post, again that’s just a page of your website. And you don’t say it in incomplete sentences, in other words, you won’t say how much does it cost, you say, if I go online, how much does a fiberglass pool cost or what is the cost of a fiberglass pool? That’s how someone would think it, that’s how someone would search it as a consumer, therefore that’s the way that a post should be titled. You do that transparently and honestly and you just go and go. The best companies are the ones that know how to leverage those answers from their existing employees. And so a company that has got 10 sales people in them should have 10 content producers. And the main areas where people should start with this is what I call the big five, the big five are the five subjects that move every single industry. I don’t care what it is that somebody is buying; the big five are what they are going to be thinking about first. Yet most companies are afraid of the big five. Now what are the big five? #1 it’s cost and price based articles. Anytime anybody’s ever asked you how much something costs, generally the answer is it depends. So people are afraid to put that answer on their website. That’s a really dumb methodology because you’re essentially inviting people to leave your website and go to somebody that’s willing to address this subject and this question. And so you need to take every one of these questions that are cost related, you need to answer them on your website but you need to say, if the answer is it depends, you need to explain why it depends. Explain to me why there are variable prices, explain to me what my options are, explain what drives the cost down or up. Those are the things that I want to see as a consumer. That’s #1. Number two is problems, issues, etc. I’ll give you and I’ll example of what I’m talking about. People used to ask me lots of times – okay Marcus, I am thinking about a fiberglass pool but be honest, what are the potential problems that I might have if I buy a fiberglass pool? So another example is I am a representative for a software called Hub Spot which is an email marketing software and people would ask me all the time what are the potential issues and drawbacks of using Hub Spot? Those are questions that are very relevant and very important. You shouldn’t shy away from those questions; you should answer them on your website. So if you go online right now and you type in what are the problems with fiberglass pools or what are the problems with Hub Spot, You’re going to read something that Marcus Sheridan said because I actually addressed the subject. That’s #2. Number three is versus/ comparisons. We love to compare stuff online it’s because we are fascinated and obsessed with knowing the best and the worst. And so if you’ve ever been asked about your product or service a comparative based question, you need to answer that on your website. So if somebody says which is better, your thing or their thing? Why? Which methodology is better, yours or theirs? Why? And the key in doing this is you need to do it in such a way that you’re honest. You say here’s the pros and cons of our stuff, here’s the pros and cons of their stuff, or their way, or their methodology, whatever it is. Now you can decide which is the best fit for you, because that is what consumers want so that’s number 3 – versus and comparisons. Number 4 is reviews. People are fascinated with review based stuff. They love to do reviews and so they go online and they search reviews, hubs, such and such so you need to write review based articles and you need to do it often. And then number five, you need to address best of questions. People love best questions, they’re obsessed with it. They go online and say what’s the best restaurant in England? What is the best construction architecture firm in such and such town? That’s the way that people think. They love asking best based question. Think of how many times you’ve been asked what the best is such and such in your field and your industry. There’s so many best opportunities and that’s number 5. So to repeat, cost, problems, versus, reviews and best. Those are the big five. You start there and work your way up. Those are the essential questions that people want to know. Once you answer those questions, now you start to see categories for them, you take those categories as you form, and you have 10 or 20 or 40 blog posts in each category. Now you produce guides and e-books from those. So let’s say you have a category that is specific, you’ve got 5 categories and you’ve written 10 blog posts in each category, now you take those, you turn them in to 5 e-books or guides. And all those guides, you integrate them in to your sales process. You have your sales people send them out to prospects and to clients before you have your first engagement, during your engagement, at your engagement. You also have them available on your website, on your social platforms, your lead captures and conversions and this way you have lead intelligence. You can build your database. And so that’s where it all starts; it all starts with knowing the questions and listening well and thinking just like the consumer. Once you do that and you really start to embrace that teaching, that’s when the magic occurs.

James: Yeah, I’m sure with you just keeping your eyes open and your ears open these questions must come up every single day. I mean I’m just thinking through my business, I just have to take one look inside our helpdesk, record a few telephone calls, and make some notes in speaking to customers day in and day out and these questions are just everywhere.

Marcus: This is the mistake that most companies make because who is the person or who is the department James that usually has to address all these questions on the website? The department is the marketing department. And this is where it all gets jacked up because when was the last time somebody at marketing really spent a lot of time with a prospect or a customer? It doesn’t generally happen that way. And that’s why marketing, independent of itself, should exist in asylum otherwise it’s all screwed up. That’s why sales and customer service has to be involved in the marketing process because nobody hears the questions like sales does. Nobody answers the questions nearly as much as sales do. I had a software guy – a guy who worked for a software company telling me- I am not sure what to write about, I don’t know. And I said when the last time you spent with a sales person was? He says I have never spent any time with a sales person. That’s why you have no idea what to write about. This is what you need to do. For the next 2 days, I want you to shadow your best sales guy. I want you to read all of his emails with him, I want you to listen in all of his phone calls and I want you to be on every face to face meeting that he has and write down every single question that he gets during that time period and now you can have enough content to go in until the end of time. He said, well that sounds interesting; he literally contacted me the next week, he said, you know Marcus, it’s crazy I have enough content year and as the case beforehand, he did not have anything! This is where everybody screws up and we have got to change it.

James: Okay, well I guess you have proven it doesn’t have to be as hard as people imagined. But I am guessing past that phase of collecting ideas and questions for the content, do a lot of people actually get stuck writing the content itself?

Marcus: I would say yes, some people do tend to over think it. They don’t have the coffee shop approach. I would say the biggest problem James is that many don’t write in a way where you initially trust them and so most people, when you initially teach this and they start it, they just want to come out and say how awesome they are. If you go to the homepage of anybody’s website, it says about how awesome they are, how awesome their product is, how awesome my service is. And then you get in to their articles in their blog content is like here’s why we’re awesome and it’s like one big bag of awesome vomit. And so what has to happen is that the conversation has to change. So how does it change? Instead of saying you’re awesome, you take the question and you say, if I was an unbiased business person and really present this in a way that is going to induce trust, the best way to do it generally is you have to present two sides to every question, two sides to every story- what is the best, what is the worst, why are you good, who are you not good for? Let me give you an example, do you realize James it is more important on your website that you say who you’re not for, then who you are for? but yet how many companies on their site address who they’re not for? Almost nobody! If you read though, let’s say you come to my site, for example let’s do pools cause that’s an easy example. And I say to you fiberglass may not be for you, If you are looking for a pool that’s longer than 40 feet it’s not a good fit for you. If you’re looking for a pool that’s wider than 15 feet it’s not a good fit for you. If you’re looking for a very, very customized, unique shape, it’s not a good fit for you. But if you are looking for a pool that is less than 16×40 and is offered in the line that we have available, and you’re looking a low maintenance pool that is going to last you a lifetime, it might be a great fit for you! In your mind, you are thinking to yourself, this is awesome because I was thinking of a 16×32 pool and low maintenance, this is a big deal! This is great! Instead most people don’t ever go down that road and so what happens? Nothing good!

James: I guess they’re worried that they might isolate the corner of the market that might not even be available to them anyway just by being specific about who and who they can

Marcus: You said the magic word! I say, people what are you afraid of? Well they say I’m afraid if I do that I’m going to lose a customer. I’m thinking myself, they’re not going to be a customer. The power of this, the greatest content marketers and marketers in the world are the ones who have a very clear identity of who they are, who they’re not, who they want to do business with, and who they do not want to do business with. And they never sit there and say I am afraid to lose a customer. They’ve more afraid of starting a relationship with somebody that’s really a bad fit.

James: Yeah, it’s crazy. Ok, cool! Marcus we have kind of covered how we prepared this content and how it’s structured. Once it’s posted on to our site, what happens next? Do you actually announce this content anywhere? Is there any form of kind of an SEO done on the post? What’s the strategy post publishing?

Marcus: I think SEO is very relevant. Some people who believe in this odd utopic society they think that SEO is dead and not really relevant. They have not really run a successful content marketing campaign with a lot of businesses because not many businesses are social. They just are not. And because they’re not social, SEO is really important because it is used to make up for not having social. I’ll give you an example of what I am talking about, for some reason, people don’t go online and bragged that they just spent $50,000 on a swimming pool. You don’t really see it. That’s why on River Pools there are articles that have been read like half a million times but they’ve just been tweeted once or twice. You say how is that possible? They have generated millions in sales! Because that’s SEO that’s why you need to pay attention to page titles and URLs, meta descriptions and things like that. In terms of the actual words on the post, you do want to be natural there. You want to be as natural as possible. But you do need to pay attention to the front end of SEO which is page titles, URLs and meta descriptions. I have written all about at the Sales Lion but they can’t be overlooked. Social is important certainly in some industries. And the social platforms, in their order of importance change from industry to industry and company to company. To give you an example, River Pools don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter because there is almost no return from the time we turned on Twitter than the time producing  content, producing content is way better! Notwithstanding with the Sales Lion, my marketing consulting company, we have a ton of social movement. We depend on social to drive a ton of traffic.  We use social to generate traffic, leads and sales. Customers as well as new leads so there is a great mix there. There’s a lot of SEO and a lot of social. It just depends. I do think that most companies should do two things; they should focus on SEO no matter what, no allowing it to mess the content up by following best practices, that’s number 1. Number 2, I think they should choose one social platform that will provide the most returns for them. For the majority of businesses, especially in the B2B world, it’s LinkedIn. Nobody pays much attention to LinkedIn but LinkedIn is awesome from a B2B perspective and even B2C oftentimes. LinkedIn is great, but it’s not like that for every single one which is why you have to experiment a little bit and figure out which platforms is the ideal fit.

James: Got it! So is this strategy really a new visitor front end strategy or would you recommend, let’s say for instance, announcing this post once you publish them to your email list. Is that going to be a good use of time or are we just going to frustrate or annoy people sending them answer to questions all the time that perhaps are not relevant?

Marcus: Well, it depends. I mean, obviously you’ve got people that subscribe to your content an that’s great. They’ve given you permission to happen. And then you’ve got your email database. How often should you email them? Well, again it depends for everybody. It depends on what you sell, it depends on your business model, it depends on what you are targeting. I think the most important question is- are you experimenting with your database? Are you sending out emails? Are you watching what happens? Are you following the results? Are you following best practices? Are you putting in calls to action that move people? That help generate leads for your business? Are you doing those things? I’ll gie you an example, with the sales lion, I have a lot of subscribers who get stuff automatically through email or RSS feeds. Then I have an email list, I’ve got almost 20,000 on that list and I probably email them once a month, not very much, and I might mention a few major pieces of content but I don’t wear that list out. Some marketers are different. Some just blow through their list and that’s because they just have a different business model. Everyone is different so unfortunately there is not a great answer to that question.

James: Well I think you’ve wrapped it up brilliantly. I think we have to look at each individual scenario and the case in point for most things, not everything is the right fit for everyone so just review your own scenario and see if it’s going to work for you. Marcus I want to finish up this conversation just along the topic of SEO. How is this sort of question and answer, blog and strategy been affected by recent Google updates? Did you see any difference in terms of traffic for these big Panda and Penguin updates or the most recent Hummingbird one?

Marcus: James, I tell you what bro. I just smack my forehead when I see companies falling out left and right over these new updates because all of my clients are doing better than they have ever done, and Hummingbird was the best of the three and I think everything is coming out in the wash. There’s a couple, you know, you have some anomalies of some websites that were washed over and it wasn’t their fault but 90%+ most of the time. If people try to trick and short range the process in Google they have paid the price. In other words, if you dance with the devil you’re going to get burned. And a lot of people have gotten burned over the last few years because they did things like unnatural link building or buying links or just general keyword stuffing or manipulation, all these types of things and I’m like of course you’re going to get kicked right in the middle and frankly you deserve it if that happens. I have been in this game for 4 years hard core. I have paid attention to SEO and I could have done all those things but every time I tell myself, #1 it doesn’t feel right, #2 I believe that the search engines are going to be smarter than humans in times in terms of grading out content and a lot of people laughed at me when I said that but it’s proving to be a hundred percent true, and that’s why the philosophy is they ask, you answer we do what Hummingbird said. Hummingbird said what you’re going to do we want to address the questions exactly like the people search them. I’m like duh! I’ve been saying this for 4 years! If you think like a consumer and you say to yourself how exactly, if they had that problem right now, how would they go online and find the answers, what would they type in, then you’re going to come up with the right title in the right content, but if you think in a different way especially in the way of manipulation, you’re probably going to do poorly and so you reap what you so in the digital world and a lot of people are reaping what they sowed for good and for bad, I’m doing great.

James: And I’m doing great so this is exactly the sort of stuff that I teach and certainly the advice I give our listeners here and my clients to really address your content to serve the purpose answering the questions that your market have and ultimately Google want to do the same thing as the market. They want to be able to answer those queries with the most relevant results and if that’s what you give to your consumers you’re going to be given the right thing to Google as well so I am glad it is all working out for you Marcus. This has been awesome stuff, there’s plenty of actionable content that you’ve shared today. If people want to go and find out a little bit more about you or follow your stuff in more detail, where can they go and do that?

Marcus: Yeah man, you can find me at TheSalesLion.com, I’m @thesaleslion on Twitter, there is one free e-book it’s called Content Marketing Made Easy, it’s on the Sales Lion,  it’s free so they can go there and download it and I think it will have a huge impact because it is literally for the people that have lived and applied and it’s changed thousands of businesses and lives and it’s my gift to the world. It took about 2 and a half years to write, it’s about 250 pages long. But that’s the best way to find me, and thank you James for this opportunity. I just love what the internet does, people like you and me, completely across the pond, where ten years ago these were different markets. But today, you’re like a local business to me and your listeners are a local market to me and I am local to them, and everything has changed and it’s all because of the power of digital.

James: Awesome! Let’s leave it on that note, Marcus from The Sales Lion, all of those links that Marcus has mentioned will be in the show notes, I guess this is from James, over and out. Marcus, thank you!

Marcus: Thank you buddy!

 

This Week’s News in Traffic

I have spoken several times before not only over here but also in my tips and training over at veravo,com about how important page load speed is to the performance of your website. I see a faster loading site will not only have a reduced bounce rate because people will want to stick on the site because it loads quickly but it also has a positive effect on where your site ranks within the search engine results. You’ll be pleased to know that Google Analytics have just added a report inside the Analytics dashboard which can be found in behavior, site speed, and then speed suggestion that will give you ideas on how to make improvements on how to make your site load faster. So well worth checking out, this report is perfect for website owners, and one of the things that I really do recommend you spend some time optimizing.

YouTube have made a change to their commenting system and now it’s actually powered by Google+ comments. The change of the YouTube commenting system is supposed to allow for better interaction between commenters. It should do such things such as moved the top comments to the top of the list, show the comments from your friends and people from your Google+ circles and more easily allow you to moderate comments if you’re the channel owner. It has been met by a little bit of controversy especially from the Google co-founder Joward Karim; he actually said, why the bleep do I need a Google+ account to comment on videos? I thought it was kind of funny but anyway, go check out the commenting, I kind of like them especially since I am fully integrated with Google+ but go check those out for yourself.

In other news in what has been a pretty light week really in all things traffic generation, Facebook has updated their Like Button which is now supposed to encourage more likes on your post. If you’re using the old button you’ll automatically be updated a new button so no issues there.

From Google+, they’ve launched helpouts. We’ve reported on that a few months ago here on Traffic Jam so you can go and check that out and explore it for yourself.

I would love to get your feedback and opinion on this week’s news stories so please head on over to veravo.com and find the episode page for Traffic Jam episode#24. What did you think of the new Google+ commenting system on YouTube, how do you feel about the new Facebook like button, and go give the Google Analytic Site Speed report a try and let me know what you think of it. I would love to get your feedback and comments. Let’s open up a discussion on this week’s episode page, episode 24.

I’ve got some fantastic reviews and comments come in on iTunes this week and let’s take a few moments to read a few of those out. In no particular order, let’s start with Michelle Macpherson who was from the United States who said, wow great guests. You’ve created the superb list of guests, not just the usual suspects that speaks to your expertise as well. I look forward to seeing who’s next. Top bloke from the United Kingdom – James provides excellent content here by providing excellent guests. Well worth a listen for the snippets and golden nuggets they contain. We’ve got Dino Dogan from the United States also. James does an amazing job of probing some of the most amazing questions on the subject of traffic. It’s not to be missed! Let’s grab one more, there are others, but let’s grab one more, and that is from Belvedeere in the United States and he or she, I’m not quite sure, said, an SEO related question in a format that doesn’t make my eyes roll up in to the back of my head and put me on a coma, and it’s not that the bar is so low any podcast keeps my interest but this one works for me, and it will work for you too! Thank you all for your fantastic comments, you all left me a five star rating as well so thank you for that. If you the listener would like to leave me a comment I certainly would appreciate that and to do it all you need to do is log in to your iTunes account, search for the Traffic Jam podcast and then click on the review and ratings button, select the star rating you want and leave me a comment as well. and if you’re smart enough to leave your website address which actually none of my commenters have done this week, I’ll make sure that  that’s listed on the show too! I look forward to receiving your feedback and comments and I’ll read them out again on next week’s episode.

The One Minute Traffic Tip

In this week’s tip I’m going to suggest that you make use of what might be probably the most underused page on your website and that is your thank you page, the page that people do to after subscribing to your email list. Now you might ask me, James how can a thank you page be used for traffic? People that visit that page have already come to the site and they’ve already subscribed meaning that it can get you back to your site using email marketing later. Well, here’s the tip, on that page, you want to be adding to your social media accounts, Twitter, your Facebook, your Google+ account because at the point of going to your thank you page, that’s when they are most receptive and really interested in your content. So if you can have your visitors subscribe to multiple channels and not just your email list, you have the opportunity of presenting the marketing channels in multiple different places. Join them back to the site and building up a real live audience and fan base. If you’d like to see this strategy at play, head on over to veravo.com and head on over to the Traffic Jam link in the main navigation and you’ll be taken to an opt in page . Just answer your details there if you haven’t done so already and you’ll be taken to the thank you page where you’ll see other social media icons in place with a really strong call to action. This template is working great for me and I know it will work great for you too so if you want to see that at play, head on over to veravo.com, hit the traffic jam link and then opt in.

That rounds out episode#24 of Traffic Jam. Thank you to my guest Marcus Sheridan. I’ll be back next week with another feature interview where I’ll be talking this time to Jeff Bullas from JeffBullas.com who’s built a website that now generates over 4 million page views per year and he’s done it almost entirely sing blogging and social media so that’s what you need to look forward to next week. In the coming seven days, check out veravo.com for more tips and training on how to grow your audience online. To round out this week’s episode with a track by Neil Diamond, it’s called Song Sung Blue and of course it is chosen by this week’s guest Marcus Sheridan so enjoy Marcus’s track and I’ll see you back here in about seven days from now, see you then!

 

 

RESOURCES

MENTIONS

THIS WEEKS NEWS IN TRAFFIC

  • Check Page Load Speed in Google Analytics
  • YouTube Integrates Google+ In Comments
  • Facebook Updates Likes
  • Google+ Finally Launches HelpOuts

ONE MINUTE TRAFFIC TIP

  • Utilize Your Thank You Page For Traffic

THE TRAFFIC JAM

  • Neil Diamond – Song Sung Blue

Enjoy the episode? I’d LOVE to hear from you. Please post your comment below.

TJ 24 Marcus Sheridan

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