Episode 40 Overview
In this episode, Ben Shapiro and Marlon Glover, the Searchmetrics Content Services Team Lead dig into the importance of building out the early stages of the content funnel before leaping into the bottom of the funnel. Marketers that ignore the information and educational stages will find their bottom of funnel efforts to be less effective. If you aren’t teaching, informing and guiding them, someone else will be.
Listen in to understand how to craft content that meets the unique needs of buyers for every product line, rather than applying a one size fits all approach to the buying stages of the funnel. Marlon also digs into how hard consumers work to avoid engaging with sales organizations and how you can customize your content to address the detailed questions consumers have as they work to avoid your sales and customer support organizations.
Ben: Welcome back to Content Optimization Week of the Voices of Search Podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, covering what you need to know to optimize every stage of your content marketing funnel.
Ben: Joining us for Content Optimization Week is Marlon Glover who is the Content Services Team Lead here at Searchmetrics. He is responsible for shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic clients to content marketing success, and today we’re going to hear Marlon’s tip for optimizing the bottom of funnel conversion related content.
Ben: But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses, monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complimentary digital diagnostic. A member of our digital services group will provide you with a consultation that reviews how your website content and SEO strategies can be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to searchmetrics.com/diagnostic.
Ben: Okay. Here is the third installment of Content Optimization Week with Marlon Glover, Searchmetrics’ Content Services Team Lead.
Ben: Marlon, we’re halfway there. We’re at the bottom of the funnel. Welcome back to the Voices of Search Podcast.
Marlon: Thanks for having me again, Ben.
Ben: So, let’s talk about what most marketers would consider getting people across the finish line. We’ve talked about building awareness, getting in front of people that are in our personas, talked about helping them build credibility and get educated on our class of products or services. But now this week we want to talk about the bottom funnel. How do we get people to buy something, whether it be a product or a service? Talk to me a little bit about the strategies behind building your product content.
Marlon: Yeah. Well, this is actually a really fun topic because for me I can quickly point out to a client the value and the importance of building content at other stages. Because if you haven’t effectively taught clients earlier in that process, then it’s going to be very difficult for them to make the decision that you as a supplier or someone that can solve their problem and fulfill their need. So first and foremost, that is critical. I mean, I know we see in the car buying process there’s typically 900 or so digital interactions, this source from another study from Google. There’s 900 interactions, and it’s important …
Ben: 800 are emails that you didn’t subscribe to. But go on.
Marlon: It’s true. But I think that just kind of helps us validate this point, and that point is if you aren’t present throughout many of those interactions, if you weren’t present when they’re looking to learn online, then you have less credibility when they’re looking to determine if your solution is right for them. So that’s the importance of some of that earlier content. If you’re not teaching them, then someone else is, and they’re likely leading them to their solutions. So that’s first and foremost.
Ben: There’s a dating metaphor here, and I’m going to try to say this without being crass, vulgar, or rude. But I will turn it back into a product conversation. If you’re trying to get across the finish line and you haven’t put in the leg work over a series of dates and you haven’t sort of shown, in our case, that you’re a gentleman, it’s a tall ask and likely something that’s going to be turned away and aggressively turned away. If you go directly to the sale, people are going to think that you’re being pushy or aggressive. So, I totally understand what you’re talking about building the relationship, building that credibility, starting the customer journey earlier through awareness and education. But once you’re building the relationship the right way, what are some of the tips in terms of types of content that you need to have on those product pages to make sure that they’re visible, showing up, and that they’re converting?
Marlon: So first then, I’m impressed that you managed to keep that analogy PG. Great job there.
Ben: Podcast isn’t done. It could go sideways at any point.
Marlon: So, let me say this, I think we spend a lot of time talking about eCommerce, and I do want to talk about some traditional eCommerce approaches and types of content that align with this kind of purchase and buying stage. But a large part of my background is in the B2B space, and in the B2B space, there’s typically multiple stakeholders involved in the buying process. Certain individuals get involved earlier on, other individuals may get involved throughout the middle stages, and then you may have some unknown stakeholders that tend to come into the mix in the later stages. And so what we found in the B2B side is that there’s some very unique and specific types of content that may be needed for, let’s say, a CFO that hasn’t been involved in the earlier stages, the process, that may not care about the solution per se that you’re solving for the head of marketing, right?
Marlon: In those instances, we’re looking to create pieces of content that uniquely address the questions that they’re asking later on in that process. So maybe that’s a calculator to show the value of the ROI in your solution. Maybe it’s some other type of downloadable content that your internal champions can leave on the desk of a CFO as a lead behind to help solve the value of that within an organization.
Marlon: So, on the B2B side, that’s what that looks like, and I only bring that up because I think that there is some parallel in the B2C side as well. So for customers that are looking to make a purchase at the later stages, they’re looking to answer this question of which solution is right for me, right? So I’ve learned all of these things earlier in the consideration stage. You address all of my questions. You’ve even helped me uncover things that I wasn’t considering, and now I’m looking to determine if you, as a provider, are actually helping me solve for those things. Are you actually providing those needs that you helped me identify?
Marlon: And so I think based off of those specific needs, those solutions, we should really take some careful consideration around the type of content that we create to help answer those later stage questions. Sometimes that content can come in the form of videos. So I’ve told you, and I think we’ve used this example in the past, that the blender example, right? I’ve told you the things that you should be thinking about when you’re choosing the right blender. So let me show you the blenders that we have and the unique features and specs that we offer that aligns to the things that I told you before that you should be considering, right? So that type of content may be in the form of a video where we show you how that blender blends and how this type of blade performs when you’re cutting up this type of vegetable that you taught you earlier on in this recipe content.
Marlon: So at this stage, we’re looking to understand, to answer the question of which solution is right for me, and that should be unique to every product that you offer. It should directly link to the unique problems that you addressed earlier on in that consideration content.
Ben: You’re talking specifically about the feature set, which is very important. You need to be detailed about what your product or service does to make sure that your customer, when they’re in the point of making a purchase decision, understands the value you’re going to provide. I think that there’s a second component here in terms of credibility and belief, right? Hopefully throughout your process you’ve built that credibility. You’ve gone on your multiple dates, and you’ve shown that you’re a gentleman and someone willing to commit to. But as you get farther in the purchase process, people are going to want to check your references, and to me there’s the notion of having testimonials, reviews, and even questions and answer content. I’m actually just thinking about what is on Amazon’s product pages. You mentioned videos, detailed descriptions, product features, even comparisons to some of your competitors is another thing you could do. But really it’s like great, you’re saying you can do all of these things. How do I know that I can believe you?
Ben: Talk to me about some of the tricks and hacks or ways that you can build credibility to add to the funnel to get somebody over the finish line.
Marlon: Well, first let me say, using that analogy, thank goodness that there isn’t a platform that allows our exes to write reviews about us. I probably wouldn’t be married. No, I think the point that you made, Ben, is pretty accurate. We all know that Amazon is a nightmare for a lot of these retailers out here. So it is a good rule of thumb to go to an Amazon product page to understand what are the elements and components on that page that we should be thinking about. Also, using to build some credibility of our product at these later stages. So you’re exactly right. I think reviews, user generated content are things that are slightly outside of our control but have the ability to create significant credibility. It allows us to, as a product provider, as a solution provider, it allows us to be able to show that everything that we’ve said that you should be considering, everything that we’ve said in terms of our product being able to deliver on those promises, that type of content allows a potential buyer to see that I actually believe them, right?
Marlon: No, that type of content is significantly important.
Ben: I think moving beyond just focusing on eCommerce, I think we used Amazon as an example of somebody that’s obviously done a great job building out a ton of valuable product pages. But the reviews and the testimonials, you can use that methodology or that sort of idea of credibility building in your B2B SAS pages or whatever your website is for, and it could be something as simple as our services are used by these clients, right? And you’re putting the logos of other companies that are there. This is less about SEO optimization, more about how to build credibility, right? You can always put more content on the page, and sometimes that’s not always the answer. More content is great, but a lot of the times it depends who’s writing it and who’s tone and point of view you’re sharing as well.
Marlon: Yeah. I mean, we mentioned in our last podcast that one of the sources of information are some of our other teams within the organization. So folks that directly interact with clients. So at this stage, we’re looking to answer some of those questions for our sales team. Folks don’t want to get on the phone and talk to a salesperson anymore. They don’t want to go to the car dealership. They want all the information available to them, and they have that information available to them whether you’re answering it or not. So that’s exactly right. They want to know who else you’re working with. They want to understand case studies, testimonials, all of that content, all of the things that we’ve traditionally known to be right at later stages of the buying process, and that sales teams are being asked before a customer makes a purchase is still very relevant. So the question is how do we bring that to life in the digital marketplace?
Ben: So how do you do that? How do you go and build that credibility? Let’s talk about specifically if you’re early on, you’re starting out, you don’t have a lot of that content created, what suggestions do you have for building that credibility, getting other people to talk about your products, getting your reviews?
Marlon: Yeah. Sure. I think that we can’t lose touch and a close connection with the folks that are using our products and are getting value out of our solutions. So the first place I look is to go to some of our ideal customers. We need to understand where they’re truly receiving the value in our product and solutions, what their experience looks like, and at best, they feel that they’re connected to our brand. They feel like they’re connected to our growth through this connection, this relationship that we’ve built for them. Then in most cases, they’re going to be willing to speak on our behalf. And so I would say just as a general business model, we should be thinking about close we are staying to the customers that are ideal to us, that we want to continue to replicate. How close we’re staying to them and how we’re differing customer success models and really getting value out of interacting and leveraging them to speak on our behalf. And then there are other influencers in the marketplace that we should be tapping into. Folks that have broad reach to our customer base.
Marlon: So we want to tap into those individual. We want to find ways that we can make offers to them in terms of using our products so that they can, in turn, see the real actualized value of our solution and really provide value to their followers. So the folks that they’re teaching on a daily basis, right? So we want to find a way to integrate into their lifestyle and their world and how they might be solving problems themselves. If they see a real value in our offer, then they’re going to communicate that to their folks as well because they’re looking to produce content on an ongoing basis.
Ben: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that when I think about this format of content, when I think about getting someone over the finish line, you have to start building the relationship early, and that was the reasons why we had two days of podcast before talking about building awareness, building credibility. Doing your product descriptions and making sure that you’re writing detailed descriptions and understanding who your customers are and what features you have that are going to solve their problems is table sticks, right? You have to nail that. You have to knock it out of the park.
Ben: But the incremental things that you can do to make sure that you’re optimizing not only for visibility and reach of your product pages is adding more content that’s going to be around building credibility throughout the sales process, and that gets into your testimonials, your reviews, your frequently asked questions, the other content that you can put on the product page. We’re specifically talking about eCommerce. If you’re in services-based business, it’s putting other customer referrals and putting the other brands that you’re working with on your conversion pages, right? Putting as much content that show that you are a credible, reliable product or service. And whether it’s building relationships in the community with influencers or whether it’s harvesting relationships with your existing customers, either way you’re going to be building relationships and asking people to create that content for you and publishing it in your … really in the pages where the rubber meets the road.
Marlon: Yeah. I agree, and I think it’s critical that we look to every piece of content that we create, particularly if we’re optimizing for a core topic or a set of keywords that we look to the top 20, 30 highest ranking pages to understand how we can build the most comprehensive piece of content we can within every stage of the buying process. But yeah, absolutely that becomes significantly more important as you move down that buying journey.
Ben: Yeah, the last thing I’ll say is we bring this back to the … specifically to the SEO communities. Some of these tactics are not things that the SEOs listening, if you’re a technical SEO, I’m going to use air quotes here that you can’t see that this is not your problem. Right? Harvesting reviews and getting that content is not your content, but it does dramatically affect how your pages are going to rank and how your conversion rates are. So building relationships with your cross functional partners and getting them to build in the feedback loop so you can cultivate the positive experiences and use that content on your product pages is something that you should have a vested interest in because it’s going to make the pages that you’re trying to optimize that much stronger.
Ben: So, while we have talked a lot about how to create content and maybe the SEOs aren’t going to build relationships with influencers, you can put that agenda and try to harvest that content from the rest of your marketing team.
Marlon: Yeah, Ben, and that’s actually a great point. Shameless plug here, right? So we actually do this for a lot of our clients. We offer workshops for SEO teams, content teams, particularly to help bridge that gap between the SEO and the content teams sometimes inability or it can be challenging to work together, to speak the same language. But we actually help a lot of our clients do is to develop that relationship, whether it’s understanding the correct process from SEO insights to content strategy and execution or helping evangelize the value of the SEO within the organization and all of the elements that are involved in doing that. So shameless plug again, but I wanted to make sure that I mentioned that.
Ben: SEO and content marketing team therapy. And on that note, that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search Podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Marlon Glover, Searchmetrics’ Content Services Team Lead.
Ben: We’d love to continue this conversation with you. So, if you’re interested in contacting Marlon, you can find the link to his bio in our show notes or you can contact him on Twitter where his handle is @marlon_glover.
Ben: If you have any general marketing questions or if you want to talk about this podcast, you can find a link to my contact information in our show notes, or you can send me a tweet @benjshap.
Ben: If you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic volume, online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies.
Ben: If you like this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and move back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss optimizing your post sale customer retention content. Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Ben: Okay. That’s it for today but until next time, remember answers are always in the data.