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For this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, we have Maia Morgan Wells, the director and host of the Marketing Hero podcast. Maia reveals her top tips and tricks for creating high quality content that ranks well on search engines. Watch now for some deep insights.
Meet people where they’re at and give them the nuggets and cool content that they can just read right there on that platform.
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of E Coffee with Experts. I am your host, Matt Fraser, and on today’s show, I have with me a very special guest, Maia Morgan Wells. She is the director and host of the Marketing Hero podcast. She has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Colorado, a master’s degree in sociology, and a doctorate in philosophy, all from UCLA. She is a digital marketing veteran with over 15 years of experience working with coaches, teachers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to connect with their purpose and build a business that not only generates revenue but also makes a difference in the lives of others. She is an expert in content strategy and a word nerd who can’t get enough of editing and writing good content. Her one-on-one coaching clients rave about her magic touch, earning her the nickname ‘The Content Doctor’. When not hosting the Marketing Hero podcast, Maia enjoys spending time with her rambunctious, beautiful four-year-old daughter. Maia, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
Hey, no problem. So, how would your university professors describe you as a student?
Oh, well, that’s such a great question to start out with because I’ve also been a university professor myself, so I’ve seen it from both sides. I think they would describe me as the most annoying, engaged student possible. I say annoying because sometimes you just want to go do your job and go home as a professor. Right? But yeah, got this student asking you all kinds of questions and trying to form a relationship with you and trying to get deeper with things. And that was me. I was always a schmooze, I was always trying to relationship building, and I was the one that always got the A on the assignment and always turned it in on time. So, I think that in some ways that’s a positive thing, and in some ways that tends to get annoying because you’re like, okay, kid, settle down and just turn off your brain.
You just mentioned you were both a student and a professor. Have you seen someone like yourself as a professor?
I have a couple of times. Actually, those are the students I nominate for awards, those that I praise, or other faculty. So, I kind of joke a little bit about it being annoying because those types of students will go far and be engaged in whatever they’re doing. And that relationship-building aspect is always there with those great students, and it helps you to remember them. And so, if anyone out there is in college and looking for a way to build their network and stand out, one of the best things you can do is ask questions and form relationships with your current professors.
Yeah. Did your parents encourage you to go far in education because not everybody gets a bachelor’s and master’s, and doctorate in different disciplines? I would use the word ambitious to describe you if I didn’t know you. So, was that kind of education encouraged by your parents?
I’m going to get a little deep with you here on this one. So, I am a first-generation college student. I was the first one in my immediate family to finish at least my bachelor’s degree. Shortly after that, my dad finished his bachelor’s degree, which was cool. He was going to night school when I was in high school. I just knew as a young kid that education would be the way, sort of out of the situation I had grown up in. Not that it was terrible by any means, but we didn’t grow up with the money, we didn’t grow up with a family that was very educated, and for me, I saw school as that one place where I could really shine, I could really be somebody special, and so I think I got that into my mind as a really young kid. I would love to have all A’s, even a little elementary school report card. I was that achiever from the beginning, and I’ll just say my parents, bless their souls, have been so encouraging with whatever I needed to do. They may not have known all the steps to take, but they always had my back. So, I applied for college myself, I applied for financial aid myself, and those types of things. It made me a resilient person to explore those things on my own and those things to happen on my own. And so, yeah, my dad has always told me you could do anything you put your mind to, and that always sticks with me because he truly believes that. And then the real short, deeper part that I want to tell you is that all of that achievement, achieving advanced degrees, doing those things sometimes always doesn’t come from the right motivation, and I’ll speak for myself. Some of that didn’t come from the right motivation because it was an act of proving. It was an act of my worth, proving myself. And as I’ve gotten older now, I’ve become a mother, and I get a lot deeper into these things. It’s like, why did I really feel the need to prove myself to that level? You know, am I not worthy as a human being without all of that? Something interesting to think about. I think with me, it was a little bit of all of that. It was a little bit of proving myself, proving my own worth, and impressing others. And then, you know, on the other side, it was like really being interested in figuring out how sociology and the study of people and groups relates to something like marketing. We use sociology and everything that we do as marketers, which is what I am now. I’m a writer and a marketer, and so that’s kind of how those two things tie in together. Yes, of course, there is the academic exploration and really wanting to know the stuff, but there’s that other hidden side that I think a lot of people don’t talk about, which is being so ambitious because you want to prove your own worth, which is not always necessary. We’re all human beings just as we are.
Absolutely. I suffered from imposter syndrome and probably not on post-secondary education, but the interesting and different courses and so on and so forth. I guess I include my degree in that. But yeah, I probably spent more money than I even want to admit on camera regarding education. The only accreditation I have is a diploma in media design. But beyond that, there are so many courses that I invested in, and I look back and the same thing with you. It was because I was insecure about proving that I knew what I was doing or didn’t believe I knew as much as I should. So, thank you very much for sharing that. Much appreciated. It’s very valuable to be able to hear other people talk about those things. Do you think the experience you gained at We First Branding helped you develop as a digital marketer and entrepreneur?
Yeah. You know, that was quite a long time ago. I think it was 2012. Ten years ago, I was involved in the launch of a New York Times best-selling book about how social media can kind of change the world and help big corporations see the value in corporate social responsibility and social initiatives because of the power of social media to share those things and because of the power of us as consumers as we have such a voice through social media, we can call out corporations or companies that we don’t think are doing the right thing, for example. So, that was an eye-opener regarding the power of social media beyond just posting cute pictures of yourself from Saturday night. It was an eye opener toward what could really be done with social specifically. And Simon Mannering, the author of that book and the founder of We First Branding, is an incredible writer, speaker, and an incredible person in general. And so just learning from by watching him, learning by osmosis, how to present myself better, how to speak better, all those types of things. So, even in things beyond marketing itself, just having a mentor like that was super important early in my marketing career.
That’s awesome. He did you transition like, you know, not many people would think that you would go from sociology and philosophy to marketing. But I do because I’m a marketer, and I understand that marketing is all about people and understanding people and understanding why they do what they do and so on. But what was the link between that and doing marketing, for instance, were you just doing it as a side hustle while you were in school to pay the bills? I know some people have done that. What’s the journey that happened between school and getting started in marketing?
Well, it’s a little bit of a layered journey because I did not go to graduate school right after undergrad. So, I went to undergrad in Colorado, and at that time, I really wanted to be in the music industry. And I thought I was such a big fish in a small pond in Denver, Colorado. I needed to get myself out to L.A. as soon as possible. Right. Like everyone needs to do that. I laugh at it now because almost 20 years later, it’s just kind of funny to me. But at the time, Denver did not have as much going on as it does now and things like that as a cultural center. I was very into music at the time. I had a radio show in college. I worked for different record labels when we had to pass out fliers at record stores. Both of these things don’t even really exist anymore, and that was my very first start in marketing, working for record labels and promoting their releases when I was in college I graduated, I ended up getting a job at a music magazine in L.A. So, I thought that was so cool, and I quit the job that I had then and moved right out to L. A and I spent about nine years in and around there. At first, I was in the music industry, and this whole line to all of us is writing. So, that’s kind of the point you can grab onto here. I was writing these reviews, writing features about artists. And as part of that job, I kind of got pulled in as a marketing coordinator or marketing assistant. They had a sister company at the magazine that was doing youth-oriented experiential marketing for brands like Scion, Reebok, and Canon Cameras, and at the time, if you remember, early 2000, Scion was like the big cool brand, and I always talk about dealerships earlier. So, Scion was the company that I worked for, it was an agency that made the emblem for the very first Scion, the little S emblem that was made by the agency I worked for. So, that’s where I started to really see marketing as a potential career alongside music. So, I was doing a lot with hip hop, Scion, and Reebok. So, you kind of see the marriage of that, and I was promotion director for a local radio station thereafter that job, and then I met a really big hip hop artist through that who needed a manager. And so, at that time, I managed a hip-hop artist for a couple of years, which is pretty outside what I do now. But it was always kind of like, how do we do the brand partnerships and how do we get sponsorships for this event or what about the tours? Marketing is always kind of a part of it, and so as much as I loved music and I loved underground hip hop at the time and all of that, I started to kind of see that through marketing, and I started to actually really ask myself the question, why do advertising agency, their marketing agencies, why does it work to align with like a culture like underground hip hop as Scion did. Why do these cultural connections work?
Like Red Bull?
Yeah. Exactly, like Red Bull is doing this whole cultural phenomenon, which is just kind of starting for my career at that time. So yeah, it was partly that, and it was partly we were going into the Great Recession in 2008, which is right when I went into graduate school, and so all the timing has kind of worked out in my career very well, which is great. So, I was already in marketing, and then I wanted to know more about why that connection works, which to me is psychology and sociology. So, I got a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in sociology at UCLA, and it was just an amazing opportunity. I don’t know if many people know this, but in most Ph.D. programs, when you get accepted, it’s paid for. So, I had that whole experience at UCLA paid for, which was awesome. During the recession, I didn’t have to worry as much. So, that was why, when I looked into it, I was like, oh, should I get a master’s degree? And then I kind of realized, if you just stop at a masters, normally it’s not paid for by the university that you go to. Just a little quick tip on that, if you’re going to go for a master’s degree, you might as well go for a doctorate.
So, I thought that I wanted to be a professor. As we see in the movies, it’s still glamorous to be this professor that walks into a big classroom, and everyone’s listening to you, right?
Academia is not like that in real life. I did have some of those experiences teaching in a big lecture hall, and awesome stuff, and I loved the interactions with the students. You can tell I like to talk. I like to have relationships. So, that student aspect I really liked, but as a researcher and as a professor, that’s only maybe 20% of your time in most cases. Most of the time, you’re writing these research articles that no one ever reads. It is really hard to get them published. And I got my first professorship offer, and it was almost half of what I was making in the marketing world, the money part of it and all of that. It just was like to get a full-time professorship, you had to be open to moving anywhere, I mean, anywhere. And I was really stuck in California. I didn’t want to stay in California. If I’m not getting a job at UCLA, USC, or Loyola, I don’t think I’m into this academic stuff. And so it’s kind of that, and it was kind of like some feedback I got on my first couple of articles where it was the reviewers from these academic publications like two different reviewers were telling me the opposite thing about my research, for instance, you need more of this, you need less of this, and I just was like, You know what? I think I’m going to stick with marketing. It’s more of a real-world tangible life. I think because of academia, you’re, in many cases, not going to speak for everyone. I feel like you I was going to be in a bubble, and I wasn’t going to be really interacting and teaching students very much, and the money sucked. I’m just going, to be honest. So, in that time so I went ahead and finished. She wrote a dissertation and did all that great stuff. And then, yeah, I went into my first real digital marketing role back in 2015 and, at that time, was still on the agency side and started focusing on software marketing and content marketing. And that is where I’ve really found myself, have found my stride. As I mentioned, I’m a writer.
Content marketing is a good fit for me because I can understand the customer, what they might need, what they might be feeling, and all those kinds of psychological and sociological things. And then marry that with the product, service, or whatever. I’m trying to market and create a content program that’s really going to connect with that person. And so that’s kind of what I do now. And it’s great. I can work at home. I don’t have to travel to campus and be on campus all day teaching. You know, there are positives and negatives. Of course, job security is not the same as being a tenured professor. But my lifestyle is perfect for being a mama of a young kid and working at home and all of that. So, digital marketing is where I ended up, and I’m still a word nerd after all this time.
Yeah. What do you love about it the most?
That’s a really good question, I think. I think there are two competing themes that I love the most about what I do now. One is relationships, just speaking with people like you, speaking with people that I work with, and interviewing people for my podcast. And outside of the podcast, I work full time as a content marketer inside of a software company, so I am doing this every day and talking about it. I know that’s kind of a great thing to say, but it’s talking to people, being with people, learning from others, and having relationships. Then I guess sort of the second thing is writing. I still love writing. So, a lot of what I do in my current job is assign content to people, and then I get to edit it. But when I had a project recently, the company I work for updated their brand voice from being kind of corporate speak into way more rebellious, like you bet you’re going to do some good marketing, like that. That’s really fun translating the jargon. We hear so much jargon in marketing, translating it into just a conversation, and it’s like something more authentic, visceral, and real. And that has been really fun. So, I enjoy building relationships and writing.
Yeah, that’s amazing. Is it also the impact that you can have? For instance, I saw the work that I did impact an entire business, an entire department of employees, and so on and so forth. So, you write a piece of content that maybe gets ranked on Google or achieves the KPIs which it was written for, is that also another aspect of it, like seeing the impact of what you can do, and you bet that your work has on a business and people?
Yeah, definitely. I think that’s a fun thing to see. I think it’s hard to see oftentimes the individual impact or even the impact of an entire content marketing program, for example. There are many reasons for that: unclear reporting or attribution and that type of stuff. It’s kind of hard to see the impacts in some ways. I will say one project I did for Clear Pivot, which is an agency I worked for, they were really trying to get into the software and SAAS market a little bit more. They had been in marketing for like medical device clients and different types of clients. We want to make a significant push into SAAS. And so, I had the pleasure of learning about and writing and creating a pillar page, which is kind of a content marketing concept you can go into in a minute if you want to, but creating a pillar page on SAAS marketing and that still gets thousands of readers all the time. And when you look at the reporting, you can see the contacts it’s bringing in, the leads that it’s bringing in for that agency. And it was something I wrote two years ago and keeps updating a little bit here and there each year. And the reporting that we could get because it was marketing by the agency for the agency, there were a ton of other constraints involved departments, people involved. So, that means that we could really see the results of what we were doing. So, that’s one example I think that you can really see the results. And writing that whole suite of content that then links into that big page usually works. And so that company is still getting page one of the results for SAAS Marketing Agency, for example, and which is a great keyword for them to rank for. And so, I like seeing those like seeing the plan come to fruition and then work. I will say that it’s often hard to see that depending on the other things that are involved, other departments are involved in how the reporting comes out.
I guess it was easier for me to see it because I was just working for a mom-and-pop dealership that didn’t have anybody but me to do the work. So, you know, it’s like, who else is doing it? Well, just me.
When you have a bunch of layers on, sometimes you can’t exactly see that so clearly. But I think it’s the best place to see results and feel that feeling of achievement or satisfaction is in event marketing. And that’s why I started my career with events, and we did first branding. We did a branding seminar, basically for lack of a better word, and had huge attendees from Coca-Cola sustainability and other stuff. And I put together the event itself, hired all the vendors and all the staff, and did the video. I remember distinctly as it was ten years ago. I still remember standing in the back of that room, my arms folded, just going. Well, look at this, people are laughing, people are taking notes like they’re engaging, and they’re getting something out of it. And we pulled it off, and that’s a cool way to see the results of your actions. In certain cases, with content, it’s not as apparent. Do we love seeing the views on something we’ve written? Absolutely.
For sure. That’s awesome. So, you mentioned pillar pages. What is your process for developing pillar pages?
I’m so glad you asked. This is one of my favorite things to talk about with content marketing. So, if anyone is out there figuring out their next move for content strategy, this is a really good thing to try and what it is as you choose one thing that’s very important to your company. So, for that agency I mentioned, they wanted to do SAAS marketing and write software as a service marketing. That’s a good keyword. Maybe it’s a certain keyword to do with your product, your service, or what your business does. Currently, the company I work for is very focused on marketing for manufacturers. So, one of the pillar pages is the ultimate guide to manufacturing marketing. So, I think it is one topic or one audience, one keyword that you want to rank for and make a huge page about that. And they’re often times called the ultimate guide or the ABC guide and something like that. And it literally is everything somebody would need to know about that topic. Like, almost like a masterclass in that topic, and it just is a huge, long web page, and you need to have it linked in your navigation. That’s the important thing. LinkedIn and the navigation and have it been a really clear URL. Like something dot com slash, manufacturing dash marketing. Like very simple, and there are reasons behind all of that for those of you who are good with SEO, you want to have a URL. You want to have it in your header tags and in your site title. So, you create this big one page, and then you think about what are the specific topics around this general topic that I want to go deeper into. And oftentimes, those are like subsections or paragraphs in your big, long page that become their own blog posts. Then think about that as the center of your pillar page. Then go around, and the spokes on that will become your blog posts. You know, they can also be webinars, podcast episodes, or any other type of content around that. Let’s take the example of manufacturing marketing since we’re kind of talking about that. Your one blog post actually just wrote earlier today as manufacturing marketing trends for 2023. These search manufacturing marketing trends could be a great keyword or marketing automation for manufacturers. So, each of those little topics becomes its own blog post, and then the key to this whole thing is actually linking those things to each other. Like link the pillar page to the blog post and link the blog post to the pillar page and do it naturally. Just like in the text, find a word that will be hyperlinked double. Like finding the good phrase and then linking it to that blog post, and what that is, it creates a content cluster that Google, for lack of a better term, sees better. Google’s algorithm is looking for a page with great authority. This page is telling me everything I need to know. It’s linking out to other resources on the same domain. Those resources are linked to this. So, you create this like a bowl of links, and I found at least that’s that marketing example. That is exactly what took us to page one, and it’s exactly what took us to slot one on page one for that keyword. So, I would highly recommend planning your content in clusters like that.
Yeah. So, the pillar page concept creates a cluster around that important keyword you want to get traffic for.
Absolutely. And do you write the pillar pages? You mentioned something there about some of the paragraphs becoming their own blog posts. So, do you make sure that you keep those paragraphs, for instance, that paragraph you talked about could also be the entire blog post, the entire article on the pillar page? So, you purposefully make sure that it’s just a paragraph so that you can actually write the separate blog posts on their own to link to that pillar page on purpose?
Yeah. I mean, I think you could do it either way. I think if you put the entirety of each topic in the pillar page, it will start to mess with your user experience. If you want that user to be able to get a lot of information but kind of have it be balanced. And also, beware of duplicate content. So, you’re going to write three, four, five, ten paragraphs about that topic in the pillar page, and there’s no rule against that. But you definitely don’t want to just copy and paste that out and create a blog post from it because it will not do any good to have duplicate content.
No one at all.
Yeah, I think for choice, I would say keep it short on the pillar page and then expand upon the topic so that you can maybe entice people to click on that link.
Yeah, absolutely. For internal linking, doing it manually would be challenging, I think. I know that there’s a gentleman I can’t remember his name right now, but he came up with a WordPress plugin called Link Whisper that actually allows you to do internal linking pretty easily.
I need to look into that.
Yeah, it’s called Link Whisper.
Because I do it manually, usually what I’ll do is I’ll create a spreadsheet. And if your marketing automation tool or your content management system doesn’t already have this, which some of them do. There are tools for creating content clusters that are out there within certain marketing automation platforms. So, what I do is I just have a spreadsheet that has, like, okay, here are my 15 blog posts, here’s my e-book, here’s my webinar replay, here is my podcast episode, and I just make sure I check them off like, this is in there, that’s linked in there. Okay, great. Then I make sure in each of those that they all link back to that same killer page. And then another side note that I think is really important on this pillar page idea is to take that content that you’ve created, that long-form content, and make it downloadable PDF from it. You don’t even have to make it different. Just take the content, give it to a design team, put it in your template for your ebooks or whatever, and then offer it as a download at the very top of that pillar page. You would be surprised how many people will give you their email addresses to get the PDF of the same thing on that page already. And that’s actually where a lot of the leads came from that SAAS marketing pillar page that they did a couple of years ago is legit. Just that little email box, you know.
To get the PDF version.
Yeah. And it’s the same content. You don’t even have to write new content. Just use that content to make a PDF, and that’s a perfectly gentle machine right there because the page itself is bringing in organic searches. I mean, that’s the purpose of it, if it’s working, to bring in organic traffic, and then you’re just immediately capturing that with a small form. I don’t want 20 fields on this form, I want one.
Yes, that’s it. Then you put them in your nurture campaigns, and you just go crazy from there. But yeah, so that’s one important point for pillar pages. You also want to have some kind of chance there for them to convert on something, and the easiest thing for them to convert on is the same topic just as a PDF.
Yeah. And so that pdf is made prettier though with graphics, and like you’re not just taking the content and creating a boring word document, but you are jazzing it up right?
Using a design template. You’re probably going to have some illustrations or some photos or something like that’s kind of taking you through it. And then, I will stay on that particular example. But really, this is a tip for any pillar page, it shouldn’t just be a big block of text. Put in examples, but in screenshots from other companies and, like, the one I created, how is a photo, gif, or even video every few paragraphs? So that’s really broken up, and we’re doing a lot of practical tips right now. I want to get my notebook. So, you also want to have a clickable table of content, maybe even on the sidebar that follows you down the page. The user has the opportunity to interact with the page. If you just dump your Google doc onto a page and it’s ten pages of text, no images, no way of clicking back and forth and interacting with it. Your bounce rate is going to be super huge. So, you know, the time on the page will be zero. So, you want to give your audience a valuable resource. It will teach them something they really want to know and make it easy to navigate through the different sections because not everybody needs to start from the beginning, like what is marketing? You know, like you may want to skip that if you’re in this game, you already know that. You want to know some of the examples, some of the new answers, how I go deeper, how I use data better, and that kind of stuff. Then you just click on that section, and you can skip all the other stuff. So, the one thing that does get lost in translation there, if you’re doing it into a PDF, is, of course, you can have, you know, video in that and those types of things. So, you will lose some of the interactivity. But I actually love to study and ask about the PDF we download in those situations. How many of us ever pop them open and actually read them? And I will be willing to bet not that many, but as marketers, I hate to say it, but we don’t care if they read it.
No, we don’t. We just want the email address.
Yeah, and it’s not a mean thing. It’s not like we want your email address to spam you, but we want your email address to show what value we can provide, whatever company it is. As a service provider, as a product creator, whatever. That’s an opportunity to continue showing value, and we use the email address. We really don’t care how cool the e-book is as long as it’s cool enough to get the email.
Hey, what about have you seen this strategy work like building a pillar page, the ultimate guide to renovating your kitchen? And then having the lead magnet be the renovation hiring guide checklist, Seven Mistakes to Avoid Before Hiring Renovation Contractor. Have you seen something like that work, and do you think it’s a viable idea?
Yes. Well, with the pillar strategy that covers one piece of your marketing program, organic traffic pulls people into that keyword and allows them to convert. Making your site seem authoritative, all that great stuff. But there’s also a need to move contacts down the funnel. So, when I hear something like a checklist, I think of that as coming a little bit later. Then in knowing the email nurture program, for example, you can offer that. You know, it seems like you’re getting really close. Like, we all know about the customer journey, right? So, is the consumer moving further down that journey, and we want to qualify them for our sales teams? And we want to see that they’re actually moving down that journey. So, a checklist is really a great thing to send at that point. I love comparison checklists like going against your competition. Like, Hey, we’re legit. We can show how we compare to the competition and why you should choose us.
Oh, that’s awesome.
If you’re confident like that, you can do that. A comparison checklist. I mentioned I work full-time at a software company. One thing that worked really well for us recently was a checklist to switching solutions. So, it’s a marketing automation software, and most people who are advanced in marketing have some marketing automation platform. So, the customer that we’re trying to go after with that type of thing is, we call them Disenfranchised. For example, they may have a Marketo and say, gosh, it’s just always so hard to build in Marketo. Like, I feel like I need an expert opinion every time and things like that, right? So, those types of customers, when they come to Act-On, which is the company I work for now. We call them disenfranchised, like artists working in a sprint platform. I just am so over it I need something new. So, catching that sentiment and catching them at a later stage in the buyer’s journey, like they know what marketing automation is. They don’t need that guide from us. They don’t need to know how to use data and your marketing programs. They probably already know that they probably do it for years. They just want a better tool that’s easier to use and that type of stuff. That’s where a checklist works for us. We used a guide to Switching Solutions, like make sure it can do this, make sure it can do that, in the back of my mind when I’m writing. I already have those things.
I’m writing down the pages that suck, that they may have, or they suck, or like, whatever. So, I’m leading that horse to water even with my checklist. And so, I see that as stacking on top of each other. So, you don’t need one or the other. You need all of it. You need that early top-of-funnel content like the pillar page, the blogs you know, and informative videos. And then you need things like your checklist, your comparison guides, your pricing sheets, feature guides, and all that kind of stuff later in the process. So, you do need all that, and I think it’s important for content marketers to plan on your ICP, your intended buyer, and on that journey. So, you’re kind of doing who the buyer is and where they are in their journey at every point in the process.
Yeah. You know, there is so much to unpack there. You just said, and I’ll try to just reiterate a little bit because, like. Number one, marketing is complicated. When I was at the dealership, they just wanted leads. That’s all they wanted. But they didn’t understand that we need to set a foundation and all the things you’re trying to and you’re talking about. I wanted to do this, but I was limited from being able to do it because they did not understand marketing, let alone digital marketing. And so, for instance, like when I got there, they were driving traffic to VDP, a vehicle detail page. It’s like a single product page, and they want to get into and go there, and then SRPs are like search results pages of the inventory, and they were driving traffic from Google ads to empty pages that had no pictures, no vehicle descriptions, no video, no nothing, and wondering why they weren’t getting any leads.
Picturing just money being flushed down the toilet.
Totally washed. Like you wouldn’t believe. They’re flushing down the toilet. I don’t want to give out details because I don’t want to bash them too much. But the point I’m trying to make is that it’s so important to understand the customer journey of who your customer is, and I hear it time and time again, and maybe you would agree with this like even big brands, they don’t know who their customer persona is. I’m talking about really big brands. I won’t name them because I don’t want to get sued. But like I talk to people on these episodes and off camera have told me, and it’s so important. So, my question is do you think that it’s going to become more and more important as marketing gets more and more sophisticated for businesses, even small business owners like the contractors, to actually figure out who their customer is and map out the customer journey and work with people like us to actually figure that out and figure out different content pieces that need to go into play to maximize. Because you and I both know you could turn a website with content marketing and marketing automation. You can literally turn a website into a 24 seven salesperson. I think people realize out there how much that can be done, and it’s just mind-boggling. So, would you agree with that like those key pieces are going to become more and more important as we move into the future?
Yeah. I mean, and without it, you’re just completely flying blind and just throwing money all over the place and hoping that you get a customer. And from kind of the executive level down, there’s like this huge demand for attribution for data on what we’re doing for information on return on investment, return on that spend. Like, we spend this much on PPC. What was the cost per lead? Like all of those incredibly annoying acronyms that we hear all day long now, like what was the CPR, are you doing in the PPC, or how about the NQ? Oh my gosh, come on, marketers, we love our acronyms in marketing, but being able to answer the acronym questions if you don’t know the customer and there are so many tools out there and so much data available now that if you don’t even have the basics for what you’re looking for, you have no idea how to apply that data and use that data to grow your business. So, I would say to anybody here listening to that, if you’re in doubt about creating a buyer persona or writing down your ideal customer profile, your ICP. Do that this weekend, do it now because now you’re just flying blind, and your persona is not just, oh, I’ll sell anything to anyone. If you’re going to sell to anyone, let’s start to break that down into at least a few categories because behind all of that, people expect immaculate customer experiences right now. They want it to be personalized and segmented. I want you to know where I am in my journey, I want you to know they purchased a sweater from you two years ago. Like, I want to be seen, right? I mean, don’t we all? That’s why we started the episode that way. You know, we want to be seen by friends, family, and humans and by the companies we work with. And so if you get the wrong offer at the wrong time, this happened to me just last month. This is a silly example, but I ordered a little soccer jersey for my four-year-old. Super excited to get the first soccer team and the first jersey ever, and it was back ordered until after the season was over. So, I was like, okay, I’m just going to cancel this order. I don’t need it. I just found a jersey from another mommy, and it was fine. But yeah, a couple of days later, I got a request for a review for that jersey that I never got and that I canceled. I wrote back, and I’m like, you need to have your e-commerce platform talk with your marketing software because I was actually pretty unhappy that I had to cancel this order and not get my child a jersey for the season.
And now they are pissing you off more.
And now you’re asking me for a review. So, rather than leaving the one-star review because, I mean, whatever, it’s not the jersey itself, but it’s like those types of things. Well, if I had a choice, I would never go back to that website ever again because of that. We only have these few moments to talk with and impress our ideal customers. And if you end up in a situation like that, you’ve lost them forever. So, should we know our customers? I answer yes. We should. It’s not just your size. It’s the basis for everything.
Yeah, absolutely. And you and I both know that one simple marketing tag would have prevented all of that from happening. Like, all they had to do is create a funny deal that you remove from that and add the tag, and it stops the ad campaign.
et’s get a little effort and logic going on. I won’t mention the name of the site.
Yeah, exactly. It’s all right.
If we don’t have to get jerseys from them in the future. I would never shop with them again because of that. And it’s like a silly little thing, right? Like most people, they didn’t get that and canceled the order. But yeah, knowing your audience to like knowing that the soccer season in this town or whatever is at this time. So, I can’t really be back ordered till December because the kids are done playing. So that type of stuff just made me feel like they did not understand the audience at all, and that’s a silly example. But apply that to your own business and think about how your customers would feel if they experienced something like that. They’re not going to trust your brand. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing. So, yeah, that’s why it’s super important.
I absolutely agree with you. Hey, Maia, there are, I think, 30 other questions that I wrote that I could ask you, but I see we’re coming to the top of the hour. What’s one big takeaway you want people to get from this episode?
Well, that’s one thing we didn’t even get to. So, I’m going to point it out right now.
Sure, go ahead.
I talked a lot about pillar content and setting the content structure for each ICP. Right. So, that’s one thing I want everyone to do, layering onto that, and it’s something that I’m doing right now because I set the foundation in many ways for, like, let’s say, that manufacturing persona that I mentioned. So, we’ve set the foundation in many ways for that. But what we haven’t done yet, which I’m going to do next, is to create snackable content from that, and you’ve probably heard a lot lately about zero-click content. Snackable content. Don’t just post, we have this new ebook click here. So, many B2B businesses especially do that, and I’m guilty of it myself. Don’t even get me wrong. I know that I’ve done it lots, but I’m really keen on this idea now, like, let’s make a video version of each of those ebooks. Let’s take that video version and chop it down into two-minute clips. Let’s take that hour-long webinar with some experts and chop that down into three – five-minute clips that give you all the teachings that you want. And it’s not just a preview; it’s like the full thought, like the full teaching. Give it to them on LinkedIn or wherever, social media you’re out on Twitter, whatever, and just give it. And a lot of people are doing this now. You’ll probably see when you go on LinkedIn it’ll be like Peter Caputo from Data Box does a great job of this. He’ll make a big, long post, and it’s like with emojis like number one, two, three, four, five and gives you this whole teaching of like this is how we need to do content marketing right now, or this is a problem we’ve solved, and here are the five steps we took to solve it without clicking on anything. And so, we have to get comfortable with that as marketers because I just said, how much pressure are we facing for attributing everything we do? Right? Like, where’s the attribution? You know what? Dark Social cannot be attributed. A lot of times, somebody will see something like that on social. Yeah, remember your brand name and then go to Google and search for your brand name. So, now we have organic branded search as the source, but really it was your podcast, or it was some interview you did where somebody right now is hearing me say work for, Act on, and they’re like, Oh, what’s that? They might search the name Act on, but it’s not going to be attributed to, you know, whatever it is, didn’t even come through my current company. So, when we really can’t track it. I want everybody to just be aware of the importance of creating simple non click content. You can even maybe post the link to the thing in the first comment or comment if you want me to send you the link or something like that. But you’ll get much more reach, especially on LinkedIn. LinkedIn doesn’t want people clicking off of their platform. They want you to scroll down and stay on there. So, if you’re scrolling and scrolling and also you don’t want to take yourself out of that experience, if I can sit here on my phone and I’m scrolling on LinkedIn, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want you to click off and fill out your form to get your ebook. So, give me as much information as you can on that post. Don’t make me click. And then I might feel really good about your brand in your content. So, I’m actually experimenting with that right now. I’m making video versions of some ebooks and printing things down like a quote from the e-book on like a slide. And it could be an interactive slideshow, just stuff that’s more engaging that it’s not really just like, hey, come here and fill out my form like people do not want that anymore. So yeah, we’re just trying to meet people where they’re at and give them the nuggets and cool content they can read on that platform.
No, that’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. As I said, there are like 30 other questions I could ask you. I’ll ask you one last question, what are your thoughts on AI-assisted content?
That’s a hard no for me. I’ve been pitched a lot on that leg, even from within my own company, which is honestly quite insulting. It’s like, why don’t you have a robot do your job? It’s like, okay, I think that. My main opinion on it is that you don’t get high-quality content that connects with your ideal buyer. And our job is not just to pump out content for the sake of pumping out content, it’s to pump out content that actually connects and provides value. So, yes, I mean, I’ve heard of it. I’ve actually been asked to look into it in certain ways. And it’s just the quality that you get, I don’t think, is where we’re at as marketers. I think it’s kind of similar to like how old-school vinyl DJs think about the new school, like computer playlist DJs. It’s just not the same craft and for a career-long writer like myself, it’s actually kind of insulting when somebody says, oh, I found this app that can just write it for you. I think it takes away a lot of the art and craft behind the writing. So, I think it tends not to sound human, and human is what we want to be, at least in certain brands. And like I said earlier, getting away from the jargon, getting away from the corporate speak, I don’t think that’s the way to do it.
Yeah. Right on. Well, thank you very much for sharing. If our audience wants to connect with you online, how can they do so?
That’s so Googleable. You can just search Maia Morgan Wells. It’s Maia. A lot of people write with a Y, so I just like to clarify. Then you can get me there.
Right on. We’ll make sure we put that information in the show notes. And thank you so much for being on the show. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here.
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