Believe it or not, content is the most powerful form of rhetoric. While all other media fade in and out of popularity and fame, content is here to stay.
With content coming back to focus in the field of marketing, this is a high time for some talk on effective ways to content creation for the business.
Are you a content marketer worried about the outreach of your content? Or its ideal structure? Worry not. We have with us here Miles Smith, director of digital marketing at Imaginasium. Be it the how to’s of influencer marketing or SEO strategies for your new piece of content, Smith has answers to all the questions when it comes to content creation.
00:08 – Introduction.
01:03 – Role at Imaginasium.
02:08 – Choosing long-form V/S short-form content
08:07 – Influencer outreach
16:24 – Effective delegation
21:16 – How to create a budget and setting the terms while hiring
25:26 – Review / debrief process
Special thanks to Miles Smith for joining this amazing episode. This is incredibly advantageous if you have your own podcast to promote, since the audience is already listening to podcasts, meaning they’re much more likely to subscribe to your own podcast.
Miles SmithDirector of Digital marketing, Imaginasium
Miles Anthony Smith is the Founder of 'Why Stuff Sucks' and a lead generation/nurturing focused digital marketing agency.
RK: Hello, dear listeners and viewers I have with me Miles Smith from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and he’s the director of digital marketing at Imaginasium. So let’s hear from him folks.
Miles: I RK glad to be on the show and appreciate you inviting me to share some content marketing strategies and tips. So as you mentioned them Green Bay Wisconsin, proud father of three and husband and I bid in marketing in and around marketing for quite a long time, specialising more recently in digital marketing and then even more subs, more of a sub specialty within content marketing, advanced SEO strategies. So excited to be here and share some tips and tricks that I’ve learned.
RK: Great, awesome. So like you said, you know in the content marketing and Digital Marketing Strategies, right? So how, what does your role look like? What do you do at a day to day basis at Imaginasium?
Miles: Yeah, so we focus heavily at Imaginasium on strategy. We have a lot of experts here I am at the advanced SEO and content marketing specialist on this team. And, you know, it’s really where we shine is the strategy, the bigger picture. And then we obviously can execute, do the tactics and the execution of that, which is really important, believe it or not, with content marketing, specifically advanced SEO, there’s lots of little details that you have to pay attention to, to make sure all of those are followed through on in order that you actually succeed. So we really focus on the bigger picture strategy and drive that comes that comes from a lot of experience that we have with quite a few different clients and very different industry.
RK: Great, great, great, thanks for sharing that with us smiles and let’s just talk about the long-form content right. So, a lot of people struggle with writing content for, you know, SEO or it could even be a persuasive writing, you know, to convert the visitor into let’s say, you know, grabbing their attention. So, one thing which you know me and a lot of my fellow digital marketers struggle with is choosing you know, the right way to write the content you know, so, a lot of people say that people’s attention span is decreasing every you know, day by day and then you know, people will not take that time to read through the entire long-form content. But the other say that you know, direct response marketers say that long-form is the way to go because, you know, people are not going to trust you, you know, when you just have a lot of A short amount of content done. So what’s this balance between using short-form and long-form or what has worked well for you?
Miles: Yeah, there’s definitely a place for both of those, I believe, in short form and long-form. However, if you’re getting started with your content marketing efforts, I strongly believe and we do this for our clients, I’ve done this for my own personal site. Start with your long-form content for that pillar content, because you’re going to get your biggest bang for your buck. And this isn’t just writing long-form content for long-form content sake. You need to do strategic keyword research that identify topics that have good search volume, meaning enough people that are searching for them, that when you actually rank, it’s really gonna turn into some significant traffic, but also that it’s not too competitive, given whoever your competitors are, that are, you know, trying to rank for that particular topic. And let’s not forget that. Even once you do that keyword research, there’s a real structure to how you write those articles. Technical SEO on page SEO is still important terms of you can’t use keyword stuff, but you can strategically use your keywords through your H1, H2, and even some anchor texts throughout the article, but you need to be pulling in lots of images, curate videos. And again, you’re trying to build a best of the web post on that topic. So your post your article has to be, you know, that much better than the ones that are in the top 10 that are ranking currently on Google. So there’s a lot of strategy, there’s a lot of work. And I’ll admit it is a lot on the front end. But the reason to do this is that over the long term, even though you got a lot of time and money and resources on the front end, right, over the long term, it’s gonna pay off because you’re gonna be able to now get more traffic, but if you do it well and you have good email opt ins on those pages, you’re going to turn those into leads. And if you’ve got a good email series, that those people get dropped into them to be able to nurture those people to hopefully sale at some point. But the reality is, you know, there might seem like a lot to go through to get to that point. But more more and more people they don’t want to be sold, they don’t want to see ADs, AD blindness as a real thing. So obviously, I’m a firm believer in content, because I’ve seen how it works, if you can stick with it over the long term. And really, digital marketing is coming back to, you know, traditional marketing, which is relationship building, right, you know, building that brand and earning their trust over time before he asked them to buy. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t use paid traffic strategies to get people that are at the bottom of the funnel, you know, to convert into a sale today or in the next few days or week or month. I believe in that strategies, but those are becoming more costly. As those platforms mature. It’s harder to get a direct ROI on those not that you can’t, but it’s just getting harder as those costs are creeping up. And consumers want to be you know, they want that relation. They want you to give them lots of free information and help solve some of their pain points before you ask them for sales.
RK: Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, Brian Dean from Backlinko, he calls it as the power page. Right? So I think he was one of the first you know, digital marketing experts who actually came up with a structure for it and things like that and call it as a power page on his website. backlinko.com And HubSpot calls it as pillar content, pillar pages, right. A lot of people call it different, different terms. But do you have any resources that our listeners and viewers can go through, to understand how to get started with the long-form content?
Miles: Yeah, so there’s several people I’ve learned a lot from Brian Dean. Certainly applied that to my own experience with clients. Robbie Richards is another great example of I don’t know if you know him, but he’s a great marketer. I know him personally. Also, a great person. Great person to be connected to. And those are a couple that I think of very highly because they’re very case study focused. So, you know, you could look at hundreds or thousands of blog posts on SEO and what you should do. I tend to focus on people who’ve been there, done that with case study data, and I could look at it and I can see we’re actually moving the needle because you can waste that you spin your wheels, waste a lot of time, following, you know, marketing advice, or SEO advice that may actually be the opposite of what you want to do. So, case study data is really important to look at.
RK: Awesome, awesome, great. So I have, you know, a link from your blog, you know, that I’d be glad to share with our audience in which talks about 33 critical elements, right that Miles has written that you’ve written about, in very detail in depth, so I’m going to add that into the show notes at the end of the episode.
Miles: Great! Thank you, RK
RK: So let’s move on to our next question.
RK: The term influencer outreach has got a lot of clout these days. You know, a lot of people are talking about influencer outreach and why it is important and things like that. I’d like to hear from you because you’ve done influencer outreach very effectively I’ve seen and I’d like you to share with us some of the easiest ways that someone can get started with an influence outreach.
Mike Smith: Yeah, influencer outreach is interesting, because it’s like a lot of things in marketing. You know, you’ve got to, you can learn everything you can from other people that have done this, and you should, but you’ve actually got to do it and make it your own and you’ve got to succeed and you might have some minor setbacks or failures. So I’ve certainly gone through those and it’s, it’s kind of an evolution. There’s certainly some best ways to start with, but then you’ve got a depending on your industry and what you’re doing, what you’re trying to accomplish, you know, kind of tailor that to what you’re doing. So for me, I mean this out influence outreach has been many benefits the relationship-building part of it, you’re becoming more known in your industry in your niche for the topics that you’re talking about. And if you’re doing long-form content, which I believe in very strongly, you’re going to position yourself very well with those influencers, that you really know what you’re talking about. Because they are, you know, they’re very educated and very experienced themselves on that particular topic. So you’ve got to demonstrate that first and foremost that you really do know what you’re talking about. So again, leading with that long-form content. So it establishes and builds relationships and rapport with other influences and that particular niche. You can use it to get quality backlinks again if you do that well and even some press I mean, we’ve for clients, we’ve even gotten some articles, infographics listed on like, Forbes, on their website, so there’s a PR aspect of digital PR aspect of this as well. But I will say that there comes good with the bad. So when you start doing this, you’re going to learn a number of things. But don’t be discouraged. If you get an email back from somebody that’s really ticked off that didn’t like your outreach. Obviously, you want to be sensitive to that. And if you did something you can take and learn from that and tweak and modify that for the next campaign. certainly do that. I’m not saying ignore that. But don’t get discouraged. for me, I would say I probably get for every positive response, I get back to my influencer email outreach, I might get one, one negative to like 10 or 15. positive. So you are going to get some, in my experience, you’re going to get some people who don’t like just don’t like email outreach period. So if you’re getting a higher ratio than that, that I would be or a lower ratio more concerned, if you’re getting a lot of negative feedback, then I would pause that campaign and really go back to the drawing board. But again, I’ve had just I’ve had way more people reach out and say, Hey, thank you for sending me this article. This is a great article, I’ll consider linking to it or sharing it socially. Or in some cases, this doesn’t happen very often, they’ll actually set it up for their email list, gives you some additional distribution that way.
RK: Perfect, perfect. So let’s say that I own a brand that sells let’s say, you know, skin products to that helps you to, you know, help you blow your skin right. So, so, how can I actually get started, you know, whom should I be targeting? And how should I how should my approach be structured?
Mike Smith: So, first and foremost, you know, with influencer outreach, start with content, you’ve got to, if you don’t have some good content that’s not salesy and focused on selling. You’ve got to start there. But in terms of building those lists, I mean, the way I do it, it depends on the type of influencer outreach. So sometimes I’ll use a tool like h refs to pull down a specific set of articles, and people that are linking to those articles. And I’m trying to reach out to influencers that have linked to the highly ranking articles on that topic. So I’ll use address in that case, at that I’ll use somebody on Upwork usually use people to Philippines or Mina states, they’re great with English speaking, and they’re really good at the work. And then they marry the names and email addresses up with those lists through a couple of processes. They’ll use some software like hunter.io. There’s others you can use as well. And then there’s some manual processes to to fill it a few additional email addresses that we can’t get with hunter that we can get off the website or other more manual methods. So and then you Then a final step would really be cleaning that list to make sure it’s those emails are accurate and then using some sort of cold email outreach software, like mail shake, not to be confused with MailChimp and mail shake. I want to make that really clear. If you’re doing influencer outreach. You do not want to use a permission based opt-in email service provider like MailChimp, there are others, but use a cold email outreach because it’s different strategy. And again, I want to reinforce that you want to be reaching out with content first, don’t reach out with sales using a cold email or influencer outreach approach.
RK: Perfect, perfect. So if I were to summarize, you know how to get started. First, I would start writing a lot of great quality content, very helpful content on my website. And then I will, you know, use tools like h refs and others you know, buzzsumo and things like that to find out who are the influencers, for that particular keywords that I’m targeting. And then I will create, I will generate a list, you know, like, you can find out emails, right, like, either find out their email address or contact information for the website, or use a tool like hunter.io or any other, you know, email finding software. And I create a list of all the contacts and probably save it in a Google Sheet or something for it. And then I use a software like mail shake, which is a cold outreach tool, and import that list of influencers inside and I started reaching out to them, and with an email saying that, hey, this is a this is some content that I believe will be very helpful to your audience. So would you mind promoting this to your list in a better word in a better way of approach? Right? And you ask them to promote it to their list by or even you know, Share this bit under social media and things like that, right?
Mike Smith: Yeah. And I would say that the reason you use something like mail shake is that you’re automating those emails. So I usually send around a four email series follow up, and unless they answer, they get all those four emails and a drip series, unless they reply to me and then I start a copy to a manual one to one conversation with them. So it just helps automate that process rather than doing an initial email and forgetting about it, they forget about it. And there’s there’s because we all are busy, right, you know, and it just because they didn’t respond to the first email doesn’t mean they’re an interest. Yes, they made slightly busy and have missed it.
RK: Absolutely. Yep. The Magic isn’t the follow up, you know, like, in the first email when people don’t respond, you know, when when you are persistent. And, and following up with valuable information, you know, it should not be like you should never use words like I’m following up with you or things like that. Right. It ‘ll be like, you know, an insult to follow up. But this is great because you know, with a tool like mail shake, you can actually automate a lot of manual tasks. Right. And that makes a lot of sense. Great, great. Thanks a lot for sharing that information with us tonight.
Mike Smith: Sure.
RK: Alright, so writing content or you know, building a list and things like that a lot of these marketing intensive activities, right, so once you figure it out, once you have a process that works, the next step is to actually hire a team or hiring contract resources, you know, on, on Upwork, or, you know, places like that to actually delegate what you are doing right now, so that you can scale in your efforts, right. So a lot of times we get stuck, that we have to as a business owner, or, or a higher head of marketing. You know, we feel like we have to keep on doing it all the time. But I’d like to hear from you on how you were able to effectively delegate these activities to an effective way of doing this over and over again.
Miles Smith: Yeah, I’ve been there too. Okay. I mean, I’ve been you know, you have to do everything really, especially when you’re smaller, that might be the case. Maybe you have limited resources for your startup. That, and there’s something, I think, good and right about that. I mean, you know, you have to start where you are wherever that is. But at some point, you will have to get out of that mode, because you can’t stay there. Otherwise you won’t be able to scale and you’ll just kind of be hitting the ceiling where you just can’t seem to get them off. So for me, I mean, Upwork is a big part of that. And really, I would say goes beyond upward for me to the writing resources. So I use some Upwork writers, I also use some US-based writers. And I’ve had great success in using my LinkedIn network to identify high-quality long-form writers. So that long-form writing which I’m a big believer in because I’ve seen the power of it and how it works with advanced SEO and how to bring in lots of traffic for Google and convert those people with leads. It takes a certain level of writing skill to write something That’s 2345 6000 words long, that is engaging, that people really want to read and consume and share link to right. So in most cases for long-form, I will leverage my LinkedIn network. And I’ve built the kind of network of writers that I rely on that are more used to my process. Now they’ve kind of got trained, and they know what I’m looking for and what we need to do for deliver for those clients. Now, in some cases, as simpler long-form article, if it’s just a simple list post, I will use somebody on Upwork. Particularly in the Philippines I use, I really use exclusively people in the Philippines, and I’ve used quite a few of them for you know, some of this simpler long-form writing or maybe they’re just creating a writing landing page. And then certainly on the list building for influencer outreach, I use that quite a bit. And again, all people in the Philippines. The main thing there is they’re there. I mean, you’ve got to vet them out and check them. Right? But more of them are really good at speaking English well, because communication is important.influencer outreach list, So I use. a little bit of my LinkedIn network. And again, I’ve leveraged that and kind of expanded that to just keep on directly connected with Who do you know, and, and it all this stuff takes time, right, you know, to build your process. So I think the main thing is to not get discouraged in the middle of that because I’ve been discouraged at times, seem so overwhelming, even there’s so much to do. Just take it one step at a time, wherever you’re at wherever you are. take that next step and the next step and eventually, you know, you’ll you’ll start making more progress. And that would become a bit of a flywheel and you’ll, you’ll see more momentum. But again, even once you’re at that level, you’re delegating, you’re doing up work and using people like din, there’s still an element of you got to keep moving forward and learning and growing, and finding ways to continue to scale those efforts.
RK: Perfect, perfect. So how much can I expect to pay someone for writing a long-form content? Do you have any standards? I know it is very relative, you know, content is all about links, creative. Art, right? Like, different people will charge you in a different scale based on their experience and their influence. But still, you know, like, if you have to really be very ROI centric, you must have some kind of a budget set aside for content marketing efforts. So if you can walk me through I know how you create a budget and also when you hire someone, how do you Set the terms.
Miles Smith: Yeah. So for me and other people approach us differently with Upwork. Specifically, they’re either on hourly basis or project basis. I always do project basis. And I but I’m also very clear with my writers and contractors because I want to develop these relationships for the long term. I’m not interested in just, you know, doing a project and saying it’s going to be X amount of dollars and not giving them half of what they need to do. And then they realize later.I’ve spent all this time and now I’m stuck with this project, right?
So that does nobody any good. So setting clear expectations is a big part of that. And I have a good relationship on Upwork I’ll say hey, how did this project go? I know like have a project fixed space, but like, was it more than you expected? And sometimes they’ll say, Okay, I’ll throw you some extra money. A pay bonus on this project, because, you know, I gave pretty clear directions but there was some things we just couldn’t anticipate till we got into it. Right. So having some flexibility with those people, again, think of the long term relationship. business success over time, is not about just what can I get from you now, and you know, just kind of ripping people off really. So as far as the budget goes, like a US writer, I have a flat fee. It’s around $1,000 give or take on the long-form piece of content. Again, they’re following my process.
And, and that structure that I know is successful for my clients, if it’s upwards, you know, writer it can be I’d say anywhere from five to maybe $10 an hour depends on the project, but I mean, it could be if it’s a simpler long-form article be few hundred dollars might be $100 hundred, just kind of depends. So again, I kind of figured out where’s the Spit for an upward rider versus the US writer? And you know, and then obviously, there’s a lot of strategy behind my oversight to that as well. Just because I paid the writer thousand dollars, that’s not how I charge the client, because there’s a lot of oversight, editing and making sure all those elements get into their CMS.
RK: Absolutely. And do you have any process set aside, you know, to set to kind of set clear, clear expectations whether
Miles Smith: So I have a Google Doc template that I have each my writers follow in terms of structuring it using Google Docs to mark those things up within the document so that the person who’s going to put it into the website, make sure they carry over all those technical elements. I have other Google Docs with instructions in terms of how to approach the process. And then some of it is just his feedback. You know that given them the document I also might have a client Dr. Its specific like to brand personality and tone and voice and those sorts of things, that we need to make sure that the writing falls in line with that, again, might seem like that’s a lot to do all that. But to do this effectively, at scale, you got to have that those clear expectations and good communication around what you need accomplished.
RK: So one thing which we all take very lightly as the review and feedback process, isn’t it? You know, so the content is so personal, you know, like, you really, you know, it’s nearly impossible to get it right or get it right as for my standards, right, our standard so it’s very important that we actually have a review and a feedback mechanism. So it gets incrementally better, can get incrementally better with every new assignment that you’ve given to your you know, team so Do you follow any feedback or review or debrief process?
Miles Smith: Yeah, you brought up a really good point RK because, you know, for me going back to that long term relationship with writers, I want them to learn my process I what I need good writers, right? It has to start with a good writer first, gotta be able to write persuasively and engaging way. But I want to develop a long term relationship with them. So they learn my process. And they could do this, you know, multiple times for me for different clients. So as far as that process for feedback, to me, that’s why Google Docs is perfect because I can leave comments, I can be in suggesting mode, I can leave all those there. And then oftentimes will lead up a call to talk through some of those, make sure they understand what I’m trying to communicate. And, again, it all goes back to good communication. So many times having a dialogue as opposed to just comments, a document or an email. You got to start there. I mean, Google Docs is a great place to leave those comments and, and leave that feedback and collaborate in a live situation there, as opposed to Microsoft Word, which is not as easy. You leave comments, but it’s not like you’re resolving comments and accepting and rejecting changes, right? In the same document. So it’s a bit of both. It’s a bit of the technology, and then you still have to have the human element, the dialogue. discussion to debrief on that. And again,that goes back to earning trust and respect. Just because I paid a writer, you know, to do this article, does it mean I should treat them poorly. I mean, they should be somebody that I’m looking to build a relationship with and make sure I take the time to give them what they need to be successful. Not just the money that I’m paying them to do that job.
RK: Right. Great, great, great. This has been very, very useful. Thanks for sharing that.
Miles Smith: Absolutely.
Connect with Miles Smith on LinkedIn and visit Imaginasium for some killer content marketing resources and services.
Here’s a gift from Miles for everyone!