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[Podcast] Content Engine: Rise Above the Noise (Tracey Wallace)

By Bob Sparkins  |  Published Jan 12, 2023  |  Updated Feb 08, 2024
Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A marketer with 17 years of experience, Bob has taught over 1,000 webinars and spoken at over 50 events.

The Lead Generation Podcast Episode 47: Tracey Wallace

Happy New Year to you! We’re excited to bring you our first episode of 2023 by introducing you to one of our favorite marketing minds on the planet, Tracey Wallace.

Tracey is the Director of Content Strategy at Klaviyo, an ecommerce marketing automation platform for sellers on Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and many more. Tracey's experience over the last decade also includes creating and leading content teams at BigCommerce and MarketerHire.

In this episode, Tracey discusses the opportunities and challenges ahead in a world of artificial intelligence, how to think more strategically about your content marketing plan, and how to set your brand apart to attract more business in the year ahead.

Key Takeaways

  • Interview sources for your content. Sharing others’ perspectives within your content provides depth and credibility.
  • Lead with your perspective. Go beyond repurposing existing content and points of view by bringing your own opinions, proprietary data, and conclusions to the table.
  • SEO is a distribution channel. Search engine optimization is not the goal of a piece of content, but rather another way that your content gets seen.
  • Invest your resources in a diverse content strategy. Think of various distribution channels and formats as different types of investments held in a balanced portfolio.
  • Start with a content brief. Outline your goals and elements to include for each piece of content you produce to ensure it has the impact you want.
  • Give your content a chance to reach more people. Repurpose your content into different formats and lengths to distribute across your website, social channels, and video.
  • Seek out connections with leaders in your space. Look for collaboration opportunities to bring more value to your community.

Resources Mentioned

Podcast Block Blog@2x

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Who is Tracey Wallace?

Bob: Tracey, thank you so much for joining me on the Lead Generation podcast today.

Tracey: Awesome. I'm so stoked to be here. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Bob: You and I have known each other for a few years now. Back in your days working with BigCommerce, we had a chance to work and collaborate. We're going to dig into some really cool strategic content marketing conversation today. But before we do that, I'd love to know how do you and the folks at Klaviyo transform the lives of your customers and clients?

Tracey: Well, so I mean, Klaviyo is really all about ownership and profitability, right? Like Klaviyo believes in helping people move away from some of those third-party platforms. I mean, for e-commerce brands in particular, it's kind of paid-to-play, right? From an acquisition standpoint, a lot of folks feel forced to use Facebook advertising, Google advertising, all of that jazz. Those are super helpful channels for brands, important channels for brands. We stand on the other side of that though, where it's like we want to talk more about how you can build your email list, how you can build your addressable audience, how you can build retention and customer loyalty and legacy brands that over time can lean a little bit away from some of those paid tactics and more into owned marketing and brand marketing and really building a brand that is going to exist 10 years from now, 20 years from now, so on and so forth.

That's where we're kind of coming in and trying to help people learn more how to do that in a way that doesn't feel so scary, that drives profitability in the closer term, in the short term. Because one of the big benefits of paid media is that you can often see revenue pretty quickly, whereas with owned marketing there's a perception that it takes far longer. Trying to help folks figure out how to balance both of those effectively.

Bob: Very cool. Then within your role as the manager of all the content that Klaviyo puts out, which is a tremendously valuable resource library of research reports, blog posts, et cetera, give us an idea of what that looks like. What kind of team do you have that you're working with and what kind of ratio would you say you have with internal writing versus anybody that you might tap into externally?

Tracey: Yeah. Right now I have a team of four full-time folks. Two of them are content marketers who manage our go-to-market primarily. They help write the briefs, kind of manage the calendars, but we pay a lot of attention to our go-to-market and distribution and promotion strategies because of course you don't want to just create a piece of content without making sure it gets seen. Then we also have two full-time in-house writers and I would say the vast majority of work goes to them. They did just join our team in 2022 though, so we were split between them and freelancers for most of 2022. In 2023 they will be writing 90% of our content, so we won't be outsourcing as much. A big reason for that though is that we are planning on including proprietary Klaviyo data in 60 to 70% of all of our content, which means we have to have internal BI requests, all of that jazz.

Then we also are dedicated to making sure that we have customer voice in about 80% of our articles. We are planning on interviewing at least one, ideally three customers for 80% of our content next year, which means at least for us, we like to keep that a little bit more in-house so we can share any feedback we get with internal teams. And also repurpose customers who really like talking to us, are excited for not just content like blogs, but also for case studies, for webinars that we might put on, for online conferences, that kind of stuff. Really working on getting more in front of our customers and even creating content that has that stronger profitability point of view and that customer voice in it.

Bob: That's really cool. I can't wait to dig into a few more of those ideas because a few more questions have popped into what I was originally even going to ask you. But before I do that, I do want to just quickly ask a little bit about your journey from, like myself, a humanities-educated person, found your way into marketing, any way that that journey was something to share with our audience today?

Tracey: Goodness, yes. I was an English major and a French minor in college. Then I always wanted to go into journalism when I was really little. I'm from southeast Texas, the swamplands of Texas, pretty small town, and I would force my mom to buy me Vogue magazines and I would edit them from cover to cover every month, which is still mind-boggling to me. But that was my dream job. I wanted to be the editor-in-chief of Vogue, I wanted to work in those magazines or really at any publication. I graduated college in the Great Recession and so could not find a journalism job, but ended up finding a job at a tech company at the time working on SEO. It was kind of my first introduction into content marketing and SEO. Then I did find a journalism job after that.

I jumped over to a site that was called NaturallyCurly.com. I was their managing editor and was publishing a bunch of stories about curly hair, so it was like beauty journalism. And from there ended up getting offered an internship at Elle Magazine. Now I did go from a full-time paying job to a not paying job at all going to that Elle internship. But again, it was just something that I had dreamed of my entire life that I just never thought I'd get the opportunity. Those internships at least were historically notoriously hard to get. I did that for three months and then started working for a fashion startup, the very first one that I'd ever gone through Y Combinator. Up in New York. I was with them for about a year before I decided, "You know what? Enough is enough. I don't want to write about fashion and beauty anymore."

I was going to a lot of fashion shows and I just got to this point where I was like, "I'm tired of selling people little black dresses and mascara that they don't need." That wasn't the only thing I was reporting on, but it really got to me, and I've always been really interested in technology in general. I used to take apart the computers that we had and put them back together and my dad's an engineer, so maybe I got that from that side. But I had a friend who was working at Mashable at the time, and this was back when Mashable was one of the leaders of the space. She got me a part-time role there and that really launched me into what they called my beat was the convergence of tech and fashion or tech and commerce or tech and retail, which today is just e-commerce, right?

But for some reason that wasn't the word that people used then. I was there for a while and then wanted to move back to Austin. I'm from Texas, had worked in Austin before I got that internship in New York City. I hated the cold. That was honestly my main motivating factor to get out of New York City. Moved back down to Austin and got a job over at BigCommerce where I was leading their content marketing operations.

I'll also say making the leap from journalism to content marketing, tech companies paid a lot better. That was pretty cool. And I was under the impression that, "Oh, they just want me to do what I'm doing in a journalism sense over at a tech company," which is true and sort of not true in a lot of different ways. Have been self-taught and content marketing from the very beginning.

I really wanted to work under a team to learn more about the industry, but BigCommerce had let go of my entire team about five days into my job. I had to teach myself everything from the ground up. A lot of the ways that I approach content comes from that humanities background, comes from that passion about content and words and telling good stories that I got from a journalism point of view. For instance, including three customer interviews and every single piece of content. It's not something that new to what I've required my content teams to do historically. We probably wouldn't say like oh, 80%, we'd be like as many as you can get. Sure. But we've also historically said, "Hey, even just asking them questions over email or via questionnaires, that's fine. "

That won't be fine for us moving forward anymore. I'm finding that as more and more companies get into the content marketing space, and as AI gets pretty dang good at writing, it's really important to figure out what is that human element that you can bring to it, that differentiation element? And for me, leaning back on some of those journalism standards of making sure you have three sources and that they're really helping to educate and guide the story, that's what Klaviyo's going to be looking to do next year.

Bob: I was just going to ask you that as my next question was how do you see, now that we're at the start of 2023, there's all kinds of buzz around AI (artificial intelligence) technology between images and the writing, and we have a point of view here at Leadpages, but I imagine you have one as well about how will companies that want to stand out, how can they do so through an authentic approach?

Tracey: Yeah, I mean, I would love to hear y'all's point of view too. I mean, all of this is so new. I'm still pretty malleable in my point of view and playing around with some of those AI tools. They're cool, they're pretty good. I think there's still a lot of editing work that would need to be done on it. There's certainly fact-checking that needs to be done on a lot of it. The way I'm even thinking about it is like, dang, the content I create today is going to educate an AI model tomorrow. The better content I can create now, the better content AI can spit out later, which is kind of fun and interesting and certainly adds even a more important spin on diversity of voice and inclusion and all of that jazz. But in terms of standing out, like I said, I'm trying to figure out how can we as humans, what is that human element that you bring?

And I think something really unfortunate has happened to content marketing over the last five years or so. And to be honest, I may have contributed to it, I don't know, probably. But there's this idea of like SEO content on the internet and it just kind of sucks. It's this idea of people creating content only for the bots and it's just kind of rounding up information from everywhere else, making it just a little bit longer, including just a little bit more keywords, more backlinks, whatever, just to make it stand out a little bit more against someone else's. And it's created this kind of not-great experience on search engines. And Google's trying to fight that in a variety of ways too. And humans have been doing that, not bots, right? There's this content pollution that exists on the internet already. And I think AI really takes a hit at what those organizations are doing because that's what AI can do.

You don't need humans to do that kind of stuff. And I think Google and they've even said is going to actively try to not rank stuff like that as high. What is it then that makes people read content? Why do journalists produce content? Why do people who like to write, produce content? And to me, I kind of just go back to this idea of you want to share a perspective, you want to entertain, you want to educate, but ultimately you want to add to the story, you want to add to the narrative. You don't want to just repurpose the existing narrative. The best way to do that is adding in proprietary data. It's adding in those interviews and actual interviews. I'm not talking about questionnaires. Get on the phone with people, talk to people, interview them. Interviewing is an art. You want to follow the pain in people's voices and learn how to listen to their intonations to understand maybe where there's more of a story in a different direction and dive into that.

It adds some unpredictability to the content that you're going to write, but ultimately should help you produce a piece of content that adds to the narrative that somebody couldn't find on any other website or by, I don't know, any other potential Google search. And I ultimately think search algorithms like Google's and all the others are ultimately going to begin to reward that kind of content far more anyways. Then of course the final thing that you really want all your content to have as a point of view, all of this old content around like what is e-commerce that people were using doesn't really have a point of view and people like points of view, especially if you can back that up with data, with interviews. I don't know, it's those three things that we will really be focusing more on next year. We are already doing them in a variety of different ways, but I think AI has just really spurred us to say, "This is cool."

There's a use case for this in a lot of different ways. Repurposing content, though I think there's still some process work to be done to make that really usable for content marketers. But there's a lot of cool ways to use AI. And I think one of the more immediate ways, and one of the ways that gets me excited is hopefully it can make content creation more creative and relevant to human beings, which is all a Google algorithm even wants you to do. Half of their ranking factors are time on site, making sure someone doesn't click in and then click off. Did someone click on something in there, right?

And what that is supposed to encourage you to do is create content that humans really like to read and that humans engage with. And getting proprietary data, adding an additional interviews, adding a new narrative to a story that already exists, adding a point of view, all of that stuff targets humans effectively. I'm just hoping that we can clean up the content trash out there, at least in terms of it being produced by humans. But I also know and understand how capitalism works and I think we'll probably see more content pollution via AI before we see less.

Bob: I think you're right about that. We're already seeing things that are written like they were part of a ninth-grade history classroom, essay writing process with exactly five sentences in each paragraph and all that kind of stuff. But it's a starting point and it's something that's opening the doors for people to have a springboard towards some better writing.

Mistakes to Avoid in Your Content Marketing in 2023

Bob: I have a question for you around those service providers, the coaches, consultants, the folks that are in the listening world right now of the lead generation, how they can become better at strategic content marketing, learning from what you do at Klaviyo. One is, what is a misconception that people may have? We're releasing this episode at the beginning of 2023, they're looking at their next year, some of them are doing some content planning for the next quarter, maybe for the next year, maybe they're not doing any planning whatsoever. But when you think about those folks, what kind of misconception do you think that they have when it comes to strategic content planning?

Tracey: So many, I think.

One, I think let's start by defining strategic content. For me, content marketing in general has two goals. One is to drive eyeballs, right? You can do that through SEO as a distribution channel. There's certainly go-to-market factors that you can use to drive traffic.

Then two, once you get people to the site, you want to convert them. Now typically since it's content, blog content, if it's at the top of the funnel, probably converting them as a lead rather than as an MQL. Then need to treat them as a lead, not as an MQL or an SQL. There's work that needs to happen there, but strategic content should over time drive, have a compounding effect, which is it is driving more and more traffic over time and maintaining that conversion. Those are my two kind of main general areas of strategic content.

Now that will differ a little bit depending on exactly the exact company, all of that jazz. One misconception that I think happens in marketing is the idea that everyone should go after SEO. And I don't think that that's necessarily true. If you are consulting for a company or working at a company that doesn't have, I don't know, a thousand backlinks or a thousand referring domains already coming to your website, which you can check in Ahrefs or SEMrush, and you don't already have a thousand sessions coming to your site outside of SEO, can be from any channel, then you probably aren't ready for SEO. SEO is a very competitive market, editorial SEO especially, but SEO all up, editorial SEO, which is more of the content SEO. It's very, very competitive and it takes time for Google to recognize you and your site as an authority.

If you're a brand new company with not great domain ranking, you want to be publishing content, yes, but should SEO be a big part of that? Probably not. You should be talking to your salespeople and writing content out that helps to solve for their specific problems and repurposing that content into one-pagers and really helping to support the funnel before you start looking a little bit more upmarket. That's one.

The flip side of that though is that if say you do have a thousand referring domains, say you are getting a thousand traffic, maybe you even have a content program going, this idea that you should be producing SEO content, right? Or this idea that content isn't ... It's almost like this kind of checklist that people have where it's like is it a listicle and is it all of this? Your content, even when you are distributing in terms of ... I'm saying all of this, it's not wrong, but I'm getting it very convoluted here.

Here's the second one, not thinking about content as a distribution channel. A lot of people think of ... Or SEO content, A lot of people think of SEO as a means to ... Like as the end itself, but ultimately SEO is a distribution channel. You should optimize all of your content for some kind of keyword and you can go after those bigger, harder keywords over time as you have more domain authority, all of that jazz. But even if you're publishing a case study, you should probably be looking for something that you can try to rank for. In the same way that when you publish content on your website, you make sure that there's a social share image because if somebody shares it on social, which is part of a distribution strategy, you want people to be able to click through, it looks nice, all of that jazz. Not thinking of SEO as that distribution channel I think really hurts people.

It is not an end in and of itself. It should be part of a larger holistic content strategy.

Then the final misconception that I think about is folks tend to go all in on one type of content when in reality content marketing to me is better treated like an investment strategy. Say for 2023, say you're 20 years old and you're like, "I need to begin to build some kind of nest egg so that over the next 10 years and the rest of my life, I can begin to harness all of the return that I ultimately get from my investment." I want to spend 70% of time on these kind of bigger media non-brand SEO plays for 2023 and 30% of my time repurposing that content for lower in the funnel, for the sales team, turning it into one-pagers, gated assets for the paid team, all of that jazz.

But then after I do that and measure its success, make sure it's working, in 2024, I actually kind of want to shift because now that I'm driving that organic traffic, maybe I only want to focus 40% of my time and invest 40% of my time on maintaining non-brand SEO. And that's more of a maintenance. I can continue driving that traffic, but maybe I want to then focus 60% of my time or invest 60% of my time on cooler, more creative programs. Now that I have an audience, maybe I can launch a newsletter, maybe I can do these cooler video programs, maybe I could do awards programs, who knows what it might be. But ultimately the way I see it is content marketing has stages. And at the very beginning you want to get to a place where you can drive a decent amount of eyeballs to your content just in a flywheel motion.

And you need a good steady kind of long-term, and long-term can be a year, investment in ideally organic search in order to start driving that. Then of course build a good go-to-market behind each one of those pieces as well. Then after you do that and after you see it working, you can then move into more of a maintenance phase and begin to put cooler programs out. Now this is where a lot of people get things wrong. You have a lot of execs and founders and I don't know so much about consultants maybe who want to go after those podcasts or launching on TikTok or the YouTube videos or these things that are kind of flashy and cool. And I love that, as a content person I want to go after all of that too.

But I also know that if I don't build an audience into that, if I don't have an audience already coming to me for content, those programs are not going to one, drive the visibility that they need unless I put paid behind them, which is then adding to the cost of programs that are typically already expensive to run. And two, those types of programs do not convert as well as content that ranks organically converts. You ultimately want to set yourself up in that foundational layer, driving non-brand organic search traffic to your site, making sure that's converting and getting some kind of baseline for how much revenue your organization is driving, which can then back you into which of those for the next year, which of those other bigger content plays you can go after and know that because you already have revenue that you're driving and because you already have an audience built in, those programs are likely to be more successful rather than if you decide to go after them now and ignore building that foundation.

I've seen far too many people make the mistake of going after the shiny cool thing now without the foundation and a lot of those people end up fired or laid off within six months to a year because it didn't back into revenue. Did that cover it? That was three things. I know I got a little long-winded in there

Bob: That did, it's really good. And two things that I want to highlight here is one, content marketing is an evolutionary process for any company and it's going to shift and change over time. And I love that you set people up a little bit with the stages that you would recommend them to go through. The second thing that I think should be highlighted is that you're talking about people building an audience and of course at Leadpages we're all about that because of the importance of owning your email list, right? And the same thing at Klaviyo too, right?

Tracey: Right.

Bob: You have to have that because whatever platform you may choose to utilize, whether it's TikTok or Instagram or some new thing that comes out in the next 12 months, you're going to be beholden to that unless you can control the communication with that email list. I think those are really important stages. I love the content you put out on LinkedIn. Quick shout out to you about that. And for those of you listening, please do check out Tracey and all the cool stuff she puts out there. I wanted to ask you about something that I saw you post not too long ago, which is that most people think of content marketing as sitting down, typing up some cool article or recording a video or whatever.

Plan Ahead for Impactful Content

Bob: Content marketing really begins way before you ever hit the first word on the keyboard, right? Or turn the camera on. And I'm going to ask you in a minute about distribution, but from a prior to starting the actual development of the content, what are some of the things that people should be thinking about so that the content they do produce actually does have the impact on their marketing that they want?

Tracey: Right. Yeah. Well, I mean, first you need to know your business and your business goals. You then also need to understand your business' point of view, your business' lens on the environment because that is going to help you as a content person understand one, what keywords to go after. Klaviyo is an organization that cares about, or the business goal in general of course is selling email marketing, SMS marketing tools as well as the CDP. That gives us a little bit of direction in terms of keyword clusters and the types of content we should probably be producing to help support those terms. But beyond that, it's really important that content folks understand what their company's point of view is. And if your company doesn't have one, you need to talk to someone about that because without that you're set up for failure in a large way, because then you're kind of stuck in that producing the generic content versus taking a stance on something.

Klaviyo's point of view, of course, is focused around ownership and profitability, helping marketers better own their careers with e-commerce brands and helping founders and execs better own the company as well as drive profitability. That's going to inform a lot of the content we produce. If we produce a piece of content on e-commerce advertising, our point of view on profitability is going to make that a very different type of content than a lot of organizations are going to publish, right? That's great. We can still go after that keyword and still infuse Klaviyo's point of view in there and make it something that fits the brand, that fits our general view on life. And it also helps the more we publish content like that, the more people associate your brand with that kind of feeling, with that way of approaching things, which should ultimately help drive more and more people into your funnel.

Now you can't do any of that work if you're just like, "Cool, I'm going to go write a piece on email marketing." It's like, okay, well that's pretty big term. What about email marketing? What's interesting about that? If you want to even interview customers or pull proprietary data into that, you're going to need to get a lot more specific than thinking you just want to write a piece about email marketing. There's a lot that goes into it upfront just because you got to know the business, ultimately what the business is selling, what the business's priorities are, and you want to align with those. We have to understand the point of view, the specific point of view for the audience you're going after too. Klaviyo targets small business and mid-market. Our point of view isn't terribly different between the two, but there are nuances to them. We want to make sure we're pulling that through.

Then of course once we have all of that, and maybe we've even determined the keyword, we need to go write a brief. Like okay, who are the people we're going to interview for this? Are they the best people we could get on this? What about these other folks? Do we need to include partners? Also, if we write a piece of content like this, what's our go-to-market plan for this? Will our other marketing partners like this? What about sales? How does product marketing position this? We build whole documents before we hand something off to a writer who then reads through it all, does additional research and then ultimately writes a piece for us. We spend a good amount of time in the research phase prior to even getting to that writing phase to make sure we're hitting the business goal, the point of view, the target market, making sure we're taking into account all of the other internal roles at Klaviyo that might need to use this content, making sure we're getting the right customers on the phone at the right time, asking them the right questions and then we can synthesize information and write.

Bob: I love that. And this is one of the biggest things I think I've learned at Leadpages from being an entrepreneur running my own business for a decade. And when I was thinking of content marketing, it was, "I have an idea, I'm going to write about it" or, "I'm going to turn a camera on and start talking." And instead having these briefs, which are simply a fancy way of saying a Google doc in our case, with a series of questions that we want to ask before we start writing, which is what you're talking about. Then that letting you guide what you actually create. There is some purpose behind it.

And even those of you listening who are ... You know don't have a content team, you are your content team, you wear that hat as well as the CEO of your company. Just sitting down with yourself and listening out these ideas I think is hugely beneficial to save yourself time, even though it feels like more work, it actually has much longer legs and pays off for you. Which brings me to my next question, which is about that distribution.

Getting More Eyes and Ears for Your Content

Bob: Let's assume people have a piece of content. We're going to talk a little bit in a minute about gated or ungated, but talk to us about how you get the eyeballs. Once you've hit publish, how do you get people to see it?

Tracey: Yeah, well, so marketing has a lot of different distribution channels, right? SEO as we talked about a little bit ago, is one of them. And in order to distribute properly for SEO, you need a plan for it, even in that briefing stage, and then right up until publish, including with interlinking, backlinking. Then you also want to make sure that you're distributing across social. Do you need specific types of social assets in order to do that? Videos often do better on those platforms. Gifs often do better on those platforms. Yeah, just so the ones that move.

Bob: You said it correctly, that's why I'm clapping, because you said it correctly.

Tracey: Yeah, I was going to say I worked over at Mashable and I was there when we interviewed the guy who started them and he said that it is gif, it is what he said. Anyway, so that's like my one Mashable takeaway. I was all like I learned how to say gif, but yeah, so just gifs typically do better on social. Do you need to have that go through your creative agency? Are you going to put paid media spin behind this? If so, what does that creative look like? What is that story like? Then I know you said we'll talk about gated assets versus not here in a little bit, but my team will often repurpose blogs either into shorter form gated assets or one pagers, or even just take the blog itself and turn that into an ebook. Well designed, all of that jazz and put additional paid spin behind that because technically you're targeting different audiences, one that's coming in through organic potentially, or maybe already following you on social channels versus one that you're trying to get this in front of them and ultimately trying to capture leads there.

I mean, as you were mentioning earlier, for the folks here who are the founder, the content creator, the distributor serving as everything, another myth that I didn't talk about earlier is that you have to publish an insane amount of content in order to be successful. That's not true. You could publish one to two pieces a month and just repurpose the different aspects of those into gated assets, into things that you can use on social. Different creatives are really going to help you here in order to do that. But don't think that you need 50 blogs a month or a quarter. That's a lot to publish and you're going to really suffer, especially as an individual one, mental health-wise doing that. But two, in terms of the quality of that content versus if you just focus on, "Hey, I'm going to get this one piece out and it's going to be really impactful," focused on the specific thing and create a lot of supporting distribution methods behind that.

Create a talking head video where you're just on your Zoom recording real quick and off giving people a one minute kind of overview of what it's about. Get different creative for it to go on all of the different social channels, put a little bit of paid media behind it to send to a gated asset. Work on getting those inner links set up properly. Maybe even see if you can't get some backlinks, drop it in some of your lifecycle streams. There's so much you can do with a single piece of content that most larger teams, when you see these larger companies producing a blog a day, one of the things that those organizations are very often not doing well is distributing that content. What's happening at those organizations is they're publishing an insane amount of content and maybe only 10% of it actually gets seen and leveraged versus everything else.

It's almost like this kind of spray-and-pray model. That takes a lot of resources. Typically only those big organizations can do it unless again, you're publishing low-quality content, but as somebody who is running a company, needing to do content, all this stuff, you don't have that much time to put all of your eggs in the content basket, but you should put some of them in there. One piece a month in and of itself is good enough. Then really thinking through how can I distribute this? How can I add additional legs to this, use this across all of my different channels? Put it on my blog, put it on my homepage. Especially if it's something that answers questions that prospects often ask. There's a lot you can do with one piece a month and then over time you could add two pieces a month. You would be surprised how far you're going to get working in that way in a year and two years as you kind of march towards that profitability.

Bob: Yeah, and I think we could have another whole conversation around outsourcing a lot of the writing or content creation to a team of freelancers, whether they're through MarketerHire, who used to be connected to or other services.

Turning Readers, Viewers, and Listeners into Customers

Bob: There's a lot of people that are willing and able to jump in and do that content for you with the right direction that you do with your content brief. Which again, we could add another bit to, but what I wanted to dive in for just a second about in this kind of space is what are you making sure is included within your content that then turns it into a marketing event? In other words, the content is getting the eyeballs. How do you turn that into a new customer?

Tracey: We have a content download on every single one of our blogs. We have probably 150 to 200 blogs and we probably have about 14 to 15 different gated assets. Every single blog, we use Klaviyo as our lead gen tool, a lot of folks use HubSpot, right? In both of those tools. You can create forms, you can put those forms on a blog as a CTA and begin to drive leads through there. That's the primary way that we're driving leads through those channels. Of course, we also have “start a demo,” “start a trial.” We consider those NQL, so we have that as well. But our conversion rate from session, organic session especially, but just session down to downloading a piece of content that's relevant and related to the blog that they're already on is like it varies from month to month, but it's between 3-5%, which is pretty good.

Then as you grow traffic, and again it's not even the more content you publish, but the more consistently you publish, the more you think about distribution as you publish, the more you build SEO is a distribution channel into the piece as you publish, that traffic should be compounding over time and hopefully maintaining that conversion rate. You're just getting more and more leads into the system. Then of course that's where your email marketing and nurture streams really need to be able to pick up.

Use Collaborations to Grow Faster

Bob: Very cool. My final strategic question for you, Tracey, is around collaborations because one of the things I've always admired about you over the years is you always have your eyes and ears out for companies or other people, other thought leaders to work together with to produce some content. Give a tip or two around when and how to work in collaboration with some folks outside of your own company.

Tracey: Yeah, so I think about this in the same way as I think about Soho House. I'm not a Soho House member, but I have met Jay-Z because a friend invited me to a Soho House once and so I have this perception in my mind I'm like, Soho House is this place that you can essentially buy access to a lifestyle that you don't have, right? Again, I'm not a Soho member. That is probably not the way that they would market it, but that is my perception. That's what I try to do in a lot of the content that I produce too. Whether it's blog posts, whether it's online conferences, it's always trying to think, okay, if I am producing for e-commerce business owners or marketers, how can I go to the people that they most want to talk to and learn from but don't have time to get in front of, right?

They're busy, they're busy running their businesses and they're busy trying to hit metrics and running their own careers. How can I help them learn from those folks and really fitting in the organizations I'm working for as that conduit of connection? Making us the Soho House, if you will, as much as possible. That's really the way I approach it, which is like, okay, who do these people most admire and how can I go begin to build relationships with those people and bring their insights and thoughts to folks? Whether that's through interviews or questionnaires, whether that's through those folks writing content for me. That typically takes a little bit more relationship-building over time to get to that point. Whether that's them coming onto webinars or podcasts or online conferences. Then of course one really easy way to get those folks to say yes is arguing or convincing them on behalf of your audience.

You could be like, "I have 10,000 or 50,000 or a hundred thousand of these specific types of people coming to my site every month. You are one of the people that they look up to the most. I would love to get you in front of them. I would love to get your insights in front of them." And especially now because we live in this influencer culture or this creator culture, it's even easier now to get those folks to say yes because they very much understand the power and benefit of their name showing up in all of these different places and them cultivating that audience across a variety of different channels.

Bob: That's really cool. Awesome. As we wrap up, Tracey, I want to first congratulate you on the birth of your impending child with your wife.

Tracey: Thank you.

Bob: My final question is maybe there's a quote or a thought that you've always kind of looked back to that you'll be teaching your child to look forward to the way the world works or the way that marketing works or anything like that. Is there a quote that you know just said always sticks in your mind as something that you think more people should know about?

Tracey: Oh goodness. There's two that come to mind though. I'm probably going to butcher both of them. One of them is a Virginia Woolf quote, which goes something along the lines of, I hope you have enough leisure in your life to stand on street corners and just wonder. I'll have to go find that. I don't think that's it exactly, but wonder and linger. But just like that you're not always so rushed that you have time to think and follow your mind down a rabbit hole and ponder the universe in general. The other one, I can't even remember who said it. I think it was something that was once published in Elle Magazine by some advice columnist.

And again, I can't remember exactly how it goes, but it's something along the lines of you are on a planet spinning at X, however fast, in a universe spinning however fast, at the end of the day, very little matters like. It does and it doesn't. Like the most important things are your friends and your family and the connections you have. Us being here is a marvel in and of itself. We often get really caught up in just the act of being alive. We care about our jobs and our bosses and our work and all of that simply because we are alive. But at the end of the day, the most important thing that any of us have is that we're alive and we don't have all that long to make the most of it.

Bob: Awesome. Thank you so much, Tracey, for joining me today on this episode, and I can't wait to see what else comes from you in 2023.

Tracey: Awesome. Thanks. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

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Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A former high school history teacher turned entrepreneur and marketer, Bob has educated business owners worldwide on how to leverage lead generation to grow their brands for over 18 years. Bob is a conversion expert, specifically when it comes to landing pages. Hosting over 1,000 webinars, he has walked thousands of business owners through advanced strategies to help them optimize their pages and maximize their leads and sales. Bob works with Leadpages affiliates and users to ensure they have all the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to build high-converting landing pages that grow their businesses.

The Lead Generation Podcast Episode 47: Tracey Wallace
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