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How to use Content to Skyrocket Your Traffic and Build Your Authority

An Interview with Martin Litt

In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser chatted with Martin Litt, co-founder of Quaff Digital. During the course of the interview, they cover the technique of using content to spike traffic and develop brand authority. Watch to create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy Now!

As long as your writing is good and you’re providing value and it’s about things that are asked regularly, you can’t really go wrong.

Martin Litt
Co-founder of Quaff Digital
Hello everyone. Welcome to this episode of E coffee with experts. I'm your host, Matt Fraser. And in today's episode, I have with me, Martin Litt. Martin co-founded Quaff Digital, a full-service Digital Marketing and Web Development agency headquartered in Birmingham, UK. Martin, welcome to the show. A pleasure to have you here.

Yeah, it’s good to be.

We're talking about using content to skyrocket your traffic and build your authority today. What's your process for creating a Content Marketing Strategy?

So, for me, everything about Content Marketing is done to research and gather as much information as possible. And I think it’s one of the areas that is skimped on the most by agencies in the UK, I can’t speak abroad. So, to have as much information as possible from the current market, the current client base or audience to go to them and ask them what they want. The number of clients we speak to say, Oh, we don’t understand our market and client base. So we’ll have you ask them what they think. And they look at me like I’ve grown an extra head. Can we do that? It feels cheeky or too easy? And then you should be doing that, let’s speak to them. And it can be through face-to-face interviews. So I’ve done questionnaires that are put out on mailing lists or pop-ups to gather as much data as possible because once you know the full picture, you’ll know how you’ll access that to get in there.

It's amazing. Well, how much easier it is to create content, and it's something that everybody skips. But how much easier it is when you talk to your clients, you talk to your prospective customers, you build those personas. It is an ongoing theme that comes up repeatedly when I talk to individuals such as yourself. And even enterprise-level clients skip the process, even students in school in some marketing universities want to get right to the tweets and get to the actionable things without building the research foundation. So the fact that you've said that is so bang-on.

Enterprises are the worst because I’m surprised by them. And I say this purely from anecdotal and third-party evidence, I’ve never worked with an Enterprise Client. But from what I’ve heard and would imagine, there’s a level of arrogance that when I say we’re as big as we are, we will tell our audience what they want or already know. So it’s not the case. So you need to write down everything you think your audience wants and everything you know about your client base. Then you need to go and ask them, and then you need to compare the two and see how far off you are. Because I bet, you’re shocked. Not you, they will be shocked.

I know one audience, one company, they heard the story, they thought that their clientele was made up of males, and they ended up not being males. They were females. It was remarkable. There are lots of stories I could recall. So then, research is the most important element of developing content market strategy. So what else would you consider in the process?

Content is about value, especially if you’re trying to build authority. It’s about brand authority. It’s about thinking about all the rest of that stuff. So if you’d excuse my language likes bollocks and memes of bollocks. Most engagement metrics are bollocks. It’s about conversion, and that’s the end goal. Content for your audience and conversion for you. It’s not about having fun or being the wittiest person on the planet. It’s about making enough money for your business to continue doing what it’s doing. So build authority, and if you have a great product or service, then great do that. That’s awesome. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that you are a business. Content Marketing is not about who can go viral. I’m so sick of trying to go viral with drops that make no difference to our audience. If it was ten years ago or fifteen years, Charlie bit my finger or whatever. Oh, it’s completely fucking useless after seven days, but the value is forever.

That makes so much sense if you consider the value and try to provide as much value as possible. And it makes me think of HubSpot. They came on the scene in 2006. And they provided value with content by writing a book, and they revolutionized everyone's way of thinking about marketing. I remember it came from inbound marketing and the value they provide with free tools, reports, and white papers. They're providing so much value to the market that they're naturally getting clients. People are like, holy smokes, you've provided all this value. Why wouldn't we pay for the tools you're asking for when you've already provided this as much value upfront?

You’re also passing your customer base and weeding out the crap. Because once you start to provide a particularly enough spot case, once you start to provide so much value, the people aren’t going to read it. And the people who aren’t going to engage with it will become your clients. But the people who do will almost definitely become your clients. So you’re an audience of a million. And some marketers might say, yeah, but you will turn off 900,000, you go great because they’re not going to give me any money anyway. So I don’t care. I want to fully engage 100,000 because they will give me all their money. And I’ll keep trucking out value, and then every year, I’ll get another 100,000. And I might lose another 1000. But it doesn’t matter. Because if they’re not going to pay now, they won’t pay me later. And they’re not. It gets to me how the size of an audience has become a buzzword. People talk about how many LinkedIn contacts they’ve got and connections. Or how many followers they have on Twitter or whatever? But you think, okay, but how much of that is active? How much of that is monetized that you take advantage of? The rest is pure vanity, and I’ve got no time.

You can have an email list of 100,000 people, and barely any are engaged. And I've heard that somebody has a list of 1000 people and they are engaged people. So when he sends out an email, they'll buy from him. Whereas the 100,000, barely any will because they're not engaged. And maybe because the person has just looked at vanity metrics, rather than segmenting his list, providing value to get the right people on his list or in his audience. How do you do that? What process have you gone through with clients to find out what that value is to provide? Is there a, for instance, you can share?

We work with a local aquatics business down the road, which is okay. And with these guys, we did a customer questionnaire with 50 questions. We did one on Google Forms, and we did one they could load up on iPads, and staff would carry around the shop and say to people, look through this, and we’ll stick you in a draw for 50 quid. And we got about four and a half 100 responses in about three days. And then, we built the ideal customer personas we now use. That was about two years ago, so it’s probably time we had another look at tweaking those to ensure we’re not missing anything. And from there, we’ve got five personas, and we create all the content for them digitally in terms of social media posts, newsletters and whatnot. Everything that goes out is targeted at one of those five, or a couple of newsletters will have sections to target each one. And the way we know it’s working is I target myself to get between 10 and 15 unsubscribes to every newsletter. That’s because I don’t want the people who aren’t interested. So I want interested people. So I want to get rid of as much deadwood as possible. The list is growing. It started at about four and a half thousand. It’s now about seven, so it’s not astronomical.

But so significant for a business.

Well, consider the amount I’m sloughing off every two weeks. So, I get rid of between 10 and 15 subscribers every two weeks. I send a bi-weekly newsletter list.

So one of the ways you've learned to send value is by creating a newsletter with content.

They had this list we took over with maybe four and a half now 5000. But they hadn’t contacted anyone on there for two years. And they said, we need to leverage this, I said we do. But if you go straight out to these people and start selling them immediately, the most engaged will be turned off. So I said, give me six months, and we will turn this around into an engaged audience that will start buying regularly, and you will have a lot more disappear, so just be prepared for that. So we went in a bit earlier than we thought. So from the third newsletter, we started getting orders from it directly, which we tracked through MailChimp, which is easy. And it’s going well, it makes them a couple of 100 quid. The biggest one was about 1500 quid every two weeks from extra bits and pieces we stick in the newsletter. And we send it to fifteen subscribers every time because it’s written to exclude them.

So it's to provide value but exclude the people who don't even want to be on the list. Absolutely.

We don’t want to waste anybody’s time, so we have a big unsubscribe button. It is nice and has big blue cotton.

And you might as well write. I'm not sure how the laws are in the UK, but in Canada, you cannot make it hard for people. At one time, the Canadian anti-spam law was some of the toughest in the world. I remember when it came out, somebody removed me from their list. They said this is way too ridiculous talking about legislation. I'm not going to risk sending to a Canadian because they're getting fined by the government. I've identified your IP as being in Canada, so you're off my list. I was a little pissed off. I wanted to be on the list, but like it is what it is. So giving people that means to unsubscribe, there's nothing wrong with it. Like, don't try and hide it, they don't want your junk, and if you provide enough value, they'll want your stuff.

I’ve worked hard writing it cleverly to eliminate them. So, missed the opportunity.

What other ways did you create value, like through blog content?

For this particular client, I also write two monthly blogs for them. I do one long and a short one. I don’t subscribe to the word count debate. I know that rages all over the place about what’s the best word count. I think a lot of it is chance, and I think a lot of it is good writing. So as long as your writing is good and you’re providing value and answering questions asked regularly, you can’t go wrong. So I’ll do one at a round of three and a half to five thousand words, and I’ll do one around the 1500 mark. We tie those in with the Digital Marketing and sales strategy we put together every 12 months for the business. So the bricks-and-mortar and online businesses are pulling in the same direction. So it’s nice and easy to track people through the website from the knowledge base article and then to products checkout, done by great that’s earning money that’s got more people to the website that’s doing a good job. And again, these are all targeted at the five personas. So it’s all about interest, at least one of them with value to the fishkeeping hobby. It can be tips on equipment or fish themselves or anything. Something that will be useful and answer a problem in any of those people’s lives. And people make Content Marketing very, very difficult for themselves. So always put yourself in someone else’s shoes, what would piss you off, and find the answer. That’s it. That’s all you have to do, and everything will look after itself.

So, are there any specific tools you use to develop ideas for writing your blog posts?

So there are a few main competition businesses, both nationally and locally, and we’ll look at what is working well for them and what has worked well for them over the last 12 months. We’ll also keep abreast of industry publications and look at what they’re talking about and what’s on their websites. So then, on the other hand, we’ll do stuff we hear in the business a lot. So half of it, I would say, is reactive, going along with the flow, and the other half is taken directly from customer questions, grumbles, or feedback that I have all the staff members listening out for. So every week, they go to my contact there, Molly, who’s brilliant. She puts all their thoughts in an email to me, and I try and answer the ones that come up the most are the most prevalent or easiest to write. So I am answering questions for clients in the business and why they want to do it.

Yeah, that is so smart.

Did I say you need a good relationship with the staff?

It's interesting that you brought it up because I was talking to another Marketer in your country the other day. She is on the sales floor of a business or tea shop, and the content comes from her and the staff listening to what questions the customers are asking and using that as feedback to generate content ideas. So it's so smart to know those things. And sometimes, it's a challenge, it sounds like this business has some engaged staff.

They do. A lot of them have been there for five to seven years plus. That doesn’t sound massive, but I’d say 90% of the staffs are under 30. So they’ve been there from 17 or 18 into the mid to late 20s. And they’re invested in the business and each other. So it’s a good bunch of people. So the idea of listening I got from a conversation with a lady called Jessica right after COVID when I started doing Digital Marketing. She ran a social listening business, a concept I had never encountered. She said we do social listening as I don’t know what that is. So we find out what people are bitching about and provide the answer. So I’ve incorporated Jessica’s model with what we do. But for this particular client, it works very well.

Yeah, it makes me think I haven't gotten the knack of using it yet. But Buzzsumo, I'm not sure if you've heard of it. I've tried to use it, but I don't have enough time to learn how to use it.

Are all these fancy bits of software getting more and more difficult to use?

I don't know, it seems like it.

Oh, yeah. That other bit of software that was big three months ago does all this, but no, ours does this as well. And you’re like, well, I don’t have a 1000 Page textbook. So I don’t want to go through that to learn how to use it.

And it seems to be working what you're doing because listening to the customers is the easiest way.

Keep it simple. I mentioned before you hit record that I’m very much on the brutalist side. I don’t pay out for fancy software. I don’t think it’s necessary. The whole idea behind this fancy software is to reduce the time spent on research. It’s like using Google, if you go into an industry or a space you know nothing about, and people google it, and come up with an answer, say medicine is a great one, Google your symptoms, and you will always have cancer, regardless of what you have. Google will tell you at some point you’ve got cancer. Because you don’t know what the right questions are to ask. So if you’re programming that software to go and do your research and listen for you, you don’t know the questions to ask, you don’t know what you should be listening for. So what you get is probably about 60% right and 40% garbage, and you’ve made that into content, and you put it out, and it doesn’t do very well. What do you expect? It’s arrogance on a digital scale to say I have the luxury of working with a very small client base. I can pick and choose the clients I do this with, industries that interest me, and I want you to do this with. So now I can visually identify about 17 different breeds of coins, and I can break them down and put them apart upon pump with my eyes closed. That’s from research and answering questions that customers and clients are bothered about, taking you down all avenues. So now I know how the fountains at the Palace of Versailles were in the river sand in the 14th century because people were interested. They go. I like fountains are these are some beautiful fountains. I wonder how they work. And I go, Well, I can tell, and I write about it.

How do you figure out which topics are worth pursuing when you get that feedback?

I don’t need to because they’ve already told me it’s worth pursuing. Because I know there’s an audience awaiting.

They've given you multiple things to discuss. Is it that the more frequently a topic comes up, it's worth pursuing over another? How do you prioritize?

So the correct answer and the answer I should give you is I look at the frequency and write about the most. But I write about the one that interests me the most. Because I believe that a well-written article is in the business’s tone of voice and agreed on phraseology, but you can tell if someone has enjoyed writing something over someone who’s putting something together. And I don’t know what it is, it’s intangible. But you can always tell it is nicer to read. So pick the one from the list. I’m not just going to pick something that I want to write about. But it will always be something that has inherent interest for me so that I can enjoy writing it. It takes a while to write a 5000-word blog on something people think about later on and then format it and make sure it’s user-friendly because user experience on those things is a nightmare. So sticking all your anchor LinkedIn and ensuring your images are good and sorted. Yeah. That takes time. So I’ve got to enjoy the process.

I wrote a 3000-word article on how to install WordPress manually on C-Panel. And it took me a very, very, very long time to write. So I know what you mean. It was painful. I got a WordPress training website I'm trying to get up and running, but I haven't had time to put too much effort into it. Can you tell me an example or a case study about a result of what happened because of you doing all these things for this business? How much of a lift did they see in sales and traffic?

I started these for my business networking meeting. The other week, someone asked me this exact question. Well, we’ve been working with them coming up to two years. They invested with us so far 37,800 British pounds and have seen an increased turnover on their website at 416,000. So, that’s good.

Yeah, that is going okay. They invested about $38,000 and haven't received more than 400,000 in value.

And some other clients have invested less and got pretty good returns. We work with a jewelry designer and maker, my partner Kate, and I have worked with in the last nine years. But in the last two and a half years, she’s invested 7000 with us and got a 124,000 increase.

I'll take that investment.

And the florist, who has spent eight and a half and they got 124,000 increased on their website. So, we only get the results for clients willing to put the cash in because then we can put in the time. I don’t know what your marketplace is like, I don’t know the average budget for your services. In Birmingham in the UK, at the smaller end of SMEs, people are looking for websites for between fifteen hundred and three grand, and getting a decent one that’s going to do what we need as soon as possible is not going to happen. So the challenge is you need to find someone happy to chuck in five to 10,000 and work with us long-term. Anything that’s going to cost you 8000, they say well, Chappie down the road can do it for 1800. So you go great. We could do ten times your investment back within two years. What can they do?

Sometimes people think a website can be built for five hundred bucks. I'm like, good luck with that. It can, but it's not going to do anything for you. Coming up with the USP alone and writing the content and copy is a process in and of itself. And I read Donald Miller's book on story brands, Developing a Story Brand, and his philosophy about building websites. And if you consider his philosophy, some websites work, and he teaches the framework for doing it. And it's very successful. Most of the story brand agencies, they're right up front, say, look, we're not for startups or smaller companies that don't have an investment in developing your story brand. But, as you said, if you develop and invest the money, you will get a guaranteed return on investment. And the formula that he's created is quite interesting.

The more you put in, the more you get out. It’s the same with anything, the more time and effort, the more EQ we invest, the more of you will get as a return. And the same in any aspect of life. People often say, Oh, I don’t want to pay that much. Well, you’re not. So if you’re looking at it as a thing to pay for, you’ve got the wrong idea, and we shouldn’t work together anymore. It’s an investment.

Hey, what's one takeaway you'd like people to get from this episode?

Not all English papers are as dour as I am.

Well, we have an audience mainly, I don't know where they're all located.

My biggest takeaway that would solve most of my bugbears with the industry is to do your fucking research.

I agree with you and do your research.

Oh, and don’t take on clients for SEO if their website isn’t built to handle the increased traffic. Because too many agencies do that, it seems like a license to take money from clients. It’s daylight robbery, and it’s wrong and needs to stop.

I agree with you. So, how can our listeners connect with you online?

I don’t do a huge amount. It’s one of those things, and I’m sure you’re the same; you do very little on your stuff because you’re too busy working. So the website is quaffdigital.com, or they can find me on LinkedIn. There are not very many Litts; there’s a couple in America. Only a few.

So Martin Litt on LinkedIn. We will make sure to put it in the show notes. Hey, I want to thank you for coming to the show today. It's been a pleasure having you here. And thanks for taking the time.

It’s been my pleasure, my honor. Thanks.

Thank you very much, and have a great day.

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