Chris Butler: Welcome to the Agency Marketing Matters podcast. I’m Chris Butler.
Lauren Siler: And I’m Lauren Siler.
Chris Butler: And today we actually have a special edition of the podcast. We’re not going to be doing a typical episode of Agency Marketing Matters. Instead, we’re going to feature your new podcast.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, I’m really excited about this. So we have just launched a new podcast called Consider This. And it’s going to focus entirely on content marketing. So as you well know, on Agency Marketing Matters we cover a vast array of digital marketing topics and what we have found through our work is that the content strategy piece of digital marketing tends to be one of the trickiest ones to master. But what we also know is that it’s one of the most important elements to master in order for digital marketing to work for you.
So we wanted to create a show that was designed entirely around how to approach content marketing. So that is what Consider This is all about. It’s going to be hosted by myself and one of our content marketing strategists, Julia Vanderput. And in each episode, we are going to take a common misconception, or misunderstanding, about content marketing and we’re going to unpack it. We’re going to talk about what the nuances of that particular concept are. Why they are commonly misunderstood. And then present some additional information or ways to think about these things.
Chris Butler: So this is Newfangled’s first spinoff podcast. Hopefully the first of several. We have lots of people at Newfangled like Julia, who I think will be great voices to be in your ear. So for those of you who do subscribe to this podcast, we hope you enjoy this first episode of Consider This. Do seek it out. Subscribe to it individually, because this will be the only episode that we feature on this channel. And every two weeks you’ll get an episode of that. Every two weeks you get an episode of Newfangled Agency Marketing Matters. So that basically means you’re hearing from us every single week.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. And if you like it definitely rate it, review it, share it with your colleagues and your friends and tell people about it because that’s the best way for this to get around and for everybody to learn about it.
Chris Butler: Absolutely. So with that, welcome to Consider This.
Lauren Siler: Hope you enjoy.
Hello and welcome to another episode of Consider This, which is a Newfangled podcast designed to unpack common misconceptions about content marketing. I am Lauren Siler, I’m the Director of Content Strategy here at Newfangled.
Julia Vanderput: And I’m Julia Vanderput. I’m a Content Marketing Strategist also at Newfangled.
Lauren Siler: And we’re really excited to dig in on today’s topic, which is all about the blog posts role in your content marketing strategy and in your content marketing portfolio. So the big picture misconception that we want to talk about today is that if your firm is investing time in a blogging strategy, then you’re doing all you need to do from a content marketing standpoint.
Julia Vanderput: No. Not at all. Not at all.
Lauren Siler: Not quite the case. But something we hear all the time. So we’re going to get into that. Just as a refresher because this is a relatively new podcast, so I think for the first few episodes we’ll just reiterate who Newfangled is and what we do. Julia, do you want to give an overview for our listeners?
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. So Newfangled is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and we help firms create business opportunity through a digital marketing ecosystem.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. So that tends to touch pretty much all areas of digital marketing. From the way that you are articulating your positioning in the marketplace. To your content strategy. Your contact strategy, which is the way that we refer to your email database. How you’re getting the right types of prospects inside of that database. And then the tools themselves. Things like a CRM, a marketing automation tool, and a website that is designed in such a way to foster lead development. So we touch on all of those things for our clients and we consult in all of those areas.
And we have a flagship podcast. Actually a lot of our listeners are probably familiar with Agency Marketing Matters, which digs into all of those different elements of the ideal digital marketing model for experts. But what we found through producing that podcast, and honestly just through all of the consulting that we do with so many firms across the country, is that a lot of the challenges come back to content marketing specifically.
Julia Vanderput: Absolutely. That’s so true.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. So we felt like it would be a good idea to launch a podcast that was specific to the challenges that we were hearing around content marketing.
Julia Vanderput: And really because we would end up in the call just going, “Well, did you consider this?”
Lauren Siler: Brilliant name.
Julia Vanderput: Yep.
Lauren Siler: So, that’s kind of how Consider This was born. Because as Julia was mentioning, when we’re consulting with our clients we get a lot of objections to content marketing or we get a lot of reasons why content marketing might not be right for you specifically. And while it’s nice to think that you’re the exception to the rule that content marketing needs to happen, it’s not always the case. So what we want to do is take these episodes to dig in on those common objections and hopefully present new ways to think about them. New ways to maybe present the ideas to your firms and your colleagues and hopefully get you over whatever hump it is that’s preventing you from being successful with your content marketing.
So, with that said the topic today, as I mentioned, is all about the blog’s role in your content portfolio. So the idea, or the misconception, is if you are investing time in a blogging strategy, then you’re doing everything you need to do from a content marketing investment perspective. And that’s actually not true. So before we get into the details of why that’s not true and present some alternative ways of thinking about it, Julia can you first start and just talk to us a little bit about what do we mean by a blog post? How are we specifically defining that?
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. So a blog post is what people typically think of in traditional sort of content marketing. They think of a blog post and it’s going to be just text on a page, really, is what we’re talking about here. Specifically, indexable word counts. So, if we could have a glossary for this podcast, indexable would definitely be on there. So we what mean by indexable is just that search engine crawlers can read it, can index it, can understand what’s the text that is there. So what that means is that you don’t have to fill out a form to access those words. Those words are readily available on that page. And it might have an image. It might have maybe some graphs on there. But the idea is that there’s a lot of text on a page and that’s the blog post.
Lauren Siler: Right. Yeah and I think it’s important that we start with the definition there because the format is different than the methodology you take to produce the format. And we’ll get into what we mean by that, but there are many different methods to creating a blog post based on what your particular engagement style is. How you think. How you learn. How you teach. All of these things are directly mapped to the most optimal way for you to be creating content on a blog or any other type of content. So one of the biggest impediments that I see in working with firms is that there’s this idea that well, I’m not a natural writer and therefore I can’t be a natural blogger. And that’s not typically the case.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. I mean I’m sure you’ve run into this with your own content teams, but I can think of a few different content teams that I’ve worked with where let’s say we ask someone to do a video post or an audio post. And it ends up that that’s not their thing. It comes off a little awkward and they’re just better with pen and paper. This is really where their light shines through with their thought leadership. Whereas other people are just natural born speakers. They do really well in front of a camera or doing an audio post and they’re not so good at writing things down and figuring that out that way. So it’s kind of beautiful to have a diversified content portfolio in that way because you’re really helping your thought leaders be thought leaders in the best, most natural way, right?
Lauren Siler: Yeah, definitely. I mean we’re drifting into territory that easily could be its own episode and probably will be at some point, but you’re right. I mean taking the time to assess the natural strengths and weaknesses of the people who are going to be contributing to your content plan and then designing the content strategy such that you’re amplifying those strengths. If somebody’s better at talking, then maybe you have videos in your content planner, or you have a podcast, or you have webinars where they get to present. If you’ve got people who are natural writers then sure, you’re going to have more text rich pieces. And the diversity is key.
But to get back to the format itself, so the blog post is important because of really the point that you’re bringing home here, which is it’s indexability because that’s going to sustain a really great SEO strategy for you. So when we think about the roles that content marketing has in your digital marketing plan, there are two big jobs that it needs to do. One, it needs to attract the unaware prospect to your website through your content. So the way that that happens is that you are writing a fair amount of indexable content and publishing it to your site. And then Google is indexing that content and it is presenting the most relevant findings to match the search queries that people are typing into Google.
So blogs are really wonderful on the attract side. They struggle with job number two, which is to engage. So once you’ve attracted your prospects to your website through your content, or maybe driven them there through your outbound strategy, something like an outbound marketing email, the job of your content is to engage these people at various stages of their buy cycle until they are ready to get in touch with you. Until their later stage and they want to submit a contact form or get in touch about a potential project.
So I want to unpack each of these roles a little bit and talk about how blogging is great for one and not so great for the other. Where should we start on the attract side? Why are blogs great for that attract role?
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. So because there are a lot of indexable words there, because they’re readable, scannable by search engine crawlers, their job is really to bring in a whole lot of traffic. Because what’s happening there is you’re putting words on your site, search engine crawlers, Google is what we mean, is reading that and is understanding what your site’s all about. What your thought leadership is all about and connecting you with the people who are searching for that type of content. So that’s why we want to have indexable words there. And in fact, we do have numbers, quotas, that we want to work for, which is on Newfangled we do this annual data pool every year and consistently, I think in the last two years it’s been the same number of indexable word count per month that makes your content strategy successful for lead gen. And that number is we never want to dip below 3,000 words a month in indexable word count. I would even say give yourself a buffer. Add another 500. Add another 1,000 in there. The more the better.
Lauren Siler: Our high performing firms are regularly publishing, I would say, on average three to five thousand words of indexable content to their website each month.
Julia Vanderput: Right. So the question I get a lot when I say that is, “Well, okay great. So why don’t I just put one blog post a month and it’s 3,000 words and that’s the end of that.”
Lauren Siler: Right. Don’t have to think about it for another 30 days.
Julia Vanderput: Right.
Lauren Siler: I’m done.
Julia Vanderput: Right. I’m done.
Lauren Siler: I’m done marketing. Leave me alone.
Julia Vanderput: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I mean the problem with that is we want to hit a balance between frequency and volume. And we want to do that because every time you put new content up on your site, you’re indicating to search engine crawlers that they should come to your site more often. That you have content up. It’s almost like training a dog, is usually how I put it. So you want it to come to you when you whistle. So whenever you’re putting new content up, search engine crawlers are reading that.
Lauren Siler: Google’s your new, less furry, pet.
Julia Vanderput: Exactly. So we want to take that over 3,000 word quota per month and we want to spread that out quite evenly throughout the month. So that’s typically about once a week you want to have new content up.
Lauren Siler: Right. And again that can take many forms, but the blog is really great for that because it’s a nice vehicle to write about a variety of topics throughout the month. So you can break up your thinking and break up the perspective that you’re sharing across multiple blog posts that are say, 500 to 750 words. And you’re starting to hit that frequency metrics so that every time Google comes back to the site there’s something new for it to look at. Something new for it to index and that gives it a clue, “Hey, these people are publishing really regularly, so I need to be indexing, crawling this site with a lot of regularity.” As opposed to, as you mentioned, just publishing a content bomb on the beginning of the month and never touching the site.
Julia Vanderput: And it’s worth noting that this is SEO strategy. We haven’t used those words, but that’s what we’re talking about here is this is good SEO strategy.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. Definitely. So that’s on the attract side. The indexability is key and we mentioned that there are different methodologies for getting to publishing those indexable words on the site. So there’s the classic putting pen to paper, which works really well for a lot of individuals who are just natural writers and who can express themselves in the written form quite easily. But as your thinking about incorporating a blog regularly into your marketing strategy, just consider where your strengths are. If you are a natural speaker, if you are a natural presenter, you may want to consider other mediums and then have the audio transcribed.
So an example of that could be, so you’re listening to this podcast through wherever you get your podcast or we do post the videos of these conversations on YouTube, so you may be watching this on a YouTube channel. If you’re listening to this though through the podcast, keep in mind that we are still getting SEO equity for this episode right now.
Julia Vanderput: A whole lot too, because what a half hour, 20 minutes, is going to give us a ton of words.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. So here’s a useless piece of data for you. I think the average person speaks at roughly 120 words per minute. I think we are actually above that threshold-
Julia Vanderput: I’m not surprised.
Lauren Siler: ... by quite a bit. But in any case, if you want to get a rough estimate of how many words your audio posts are going to yield you, you can do a quick calculation that way by basing it on that 120 words per minute metric. So why are we getting SEO equity from these podcasts?
Julia Vanderput: Because a podcast gets transcribed. So everything we’re saying right now is going to be transcribed and posted to our site with the audio and also the transcription. So what’s happening there is Google can’t read the podcast. It can’t understand what we’re talking about. But it can understand what those words on the page mean.
Lauren Siler: Right. So we’re essentially producing this medium for two different audiences. Our intended listeners that we expect to listen to this, or watch it on YouTube, but Google will read every word of that transcript and then we, Newfangled, will get the SEO equity from that transcript. So that’s an example of what we’re talking about in terms of being creative about the means by which, the method by which, you produce your blogs. So it doesn’t have to be the classic put pen to paper in order to work.
Julia Vanderput: You made a great post with Holly the other day.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. Oh, that’s a great example. Yeah. One more example. So we were actually recording an episode of our Agency Marketing Matters podcast with Chris Butler and our Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, Holly Fong. And we were talking about lead nurturing and we got into some really interesting territory that we didn’t have time to really get into on the podcast itself. We had to wrap things up. So Holly and I were talking after we recorded and we said, “Man, that would make a great article for the site.” And I could just see her losing interest.
And if Holly were here she would totally cop to this, so I feel fine calling her out a little bit, because Holly is brilliant. She is a brilliant marketer. She is wonderful at consulting her clients on lead nurturing strategies. She deeply understands the technology that is required to be great at that. But she doesn’t love to write. She can do it and you can go to the site and see the stuff that she’s written and it’s great. But it’s not her preferred method of expressing her expertise. She’d much rather sit down and talk about it, or coach it, and that makes sense because she’s a great teacher. It’s what she does for a living. So what we decided to do to just knock out this article, I grabbed her we went up to … In our building there’s this beautiful lounge-
Julia Vanderput: The Sky Lounge?
Lauren Siler: Yeah. We call it the Sky Lounge on the fifth floor. It overlooks the town of Chapel Hill where we’re based and there’s lots of windows and it’s really quite beautiful. But anyway-
Julia Vanderput: It really is.
Lauren Siler: … I digress. We went up there for about 15 minutes and I just used a voice memo on my phone and recorded a conversation about lead nurturing strategies. And we got into some really interesting detail with zero prep. We debated a couple of things. We threw out new ideas. It was a really awesome conversation. It took 15 minutes of Holly’s time and then, I don’t know, maybe an extra half hour of mine. I mean I sent off the transcription to rev.com, which is what we use as a transcription service. That’s R-E-V.com. They’re awesome. And then it was I think a 3,200-word article and I don’t know you put it on the site with relatively little time, right?
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. The beauty of that kind of content is that it doesn’t really have a whole lot of production to it. Like you mentioned, there’s a voice memo. You schedule a meeting. Talk through things and that’s great. What I really liked about that post in particular, and really that kind of post is that it really shows people what the team dynamics are like. It shows how you and Holly talk about stuff. And you guys weren’t soft balling each other. You disagreed on a few points.
Lauren Siler: We did. Yeah.
Julia Vanderput: That made for very, very interesting content.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. Mediums like that really do bring out the true personality of the person behind it. That’s why video is so engaging and that’s why audio is so engaging. But what is cool is that you can take those natural benefits of those channels and you can put it into a written piece if you need to. So all of that to say, there are a lot of ways that you can sort of harness the thinking and the perspective of your thought leaders and get it into an indexable format that will fulfill the blogging requirement. So that’s one consideration here.
Now, the other side of this, the other role that your content has in order to be effective for you in your digital marketing strategy is to engage people. What do we mean by engaging people?
Julia Vanderput: So engaging people means … really nurturing them is what that means. It’s getting them to take an action on our site. To really be a part of our site. To continue to engage with our thought leadership. So we talked a lot about indexable words, a video post, diversity of blog style posts. So that would be ungated content. But what we want to do is we also want to provide people with gated content.
Lauren Siler: And what’s gated content?
Julia Vanderput: So gated content just means you need to do something in order to access that content. So that might mean … Typically that means filling out a form.
Lauren Siler: Right. Exactly. And the reason that this is important is if you think about the calls to action that are associated with a blog on your website, they’re pretty minimal. So if somebody comes to the site, let’s say that they discover you organically. This is the content marketing dream. Somebody types in an unbranded, organic search phrase and Google tells them that you are the authority on that particular topic. So they click through and boom, they’re on your blog. And let’s say that they read that article. Maybe they click through, they read a few more articles and they decide, hey, these guys know what they’re talking about. I want to regularly receive their education. So I’m going to … Excuse me. I’m going to sign up to be on their blog newsletter sign up. So that means that forever more I’m going to get the blog emailed to me whenever there’s something new.
Apart from that blog signup, there’s not really another call to action that would be associated with a blog because you’re not going to sign up for the same blog twice. That would be silly. You’re already on the list.
Julia Vanderput: Right, unless you have gated content.
Lauren Siler: Right. So that’s the importance of gated content is that once I sign up for the blog at that point, before I’m ready to actually submit a contact form, there’s a lot left in my buy cycle journey. So what we’re looking for on the website is a way to add additional points of conversion and additional points of engagement on the site so that people can stay in touch with your brand before they’re ready to get in touch. And you have that opportunity to sort of nudge them along the buy cycle. But to Julia’s point, that requires gated content.
Julia Vanderput: Right. And we’ve talked about how we can diversify the content that is ungated. The blog post style. But we can also diversify how gated content’s presented. So I think the number one thing that pops up when people think of a gated content is something like a white paper. So what that would look like on a site is you would have a little bit of text up front before the form letting people know okay, this is why you need this. This is why it’s useful to you. This is what you’ll get out of filling out this form and then people fill out the form. They’re giving you their information, which is great. It’s what we want. And then they access that content. That white paper would just be long-form text on your page. But that’s just one kind of gated content. We can also look at things like webinars, which are fantastic pieces of gated content.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, can we take a moment to just be fan girls about webinars for a second?
Julia Vanderput: Oh yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk about it.
Lauren Siler: Okay. So webinars are amazing types of content to incorporate into your content strategy. And actually, we do … I shouldn’t spend too much time on this because we have an Agency Marketing Matters episode called We Want You To Do Webinars. But webinars are great because they are a gated piece of content in that people typically have to register for the event. And then after the event is recorded, people would need to submit a form to access that recording later on. So it’s great from that perspective.
But it also provides a lot of opportunities for outbound touchpoints, because it’s like this thing, there’s this event that you need to register for. And then as it’s coming up you’re reminding people about it and then after the event, you can send out messages to people who showed up or maybe people who registered and didn’t attend. So there are a lot of built-in touchpoints around webinars. But here’s the cool thing that makes webinars different than a lot of other types of content is that they also pull basically double duty because you get a ton of SEO equity out of them.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah, they’re the best of both worlds is how I see it. So once you’re done with your webinar, it’s recorded and transcribed and it’s living on your site. What ends up happening is people can access the recording by filling out the form, but we got the transcript before the form. So it is indexable and for an hour long webinar it’s between 8,000 and 10,000 words right there. I mean it’s fantastic.
Lauren Siler: There’s your content bomb.
Julia Vanderput: Right, exactly. Content bomb. Yes. We love those.
Lauren Siler: Yes. Webinars are a great example of how you could diversify your gated content portfolio and the same rationale holds. For people who prefer to present than to write, the webinar works really well. I do a lot of sales meetings with our CEO Mark O’Brien, and he loves to talk about how he doesn’t really like to write, but he’s got the most indexable words of content on the site of anybody who works here. And it’s because he runs our webinars. Yeah, as you’re saying, what, that’s like 10,000 words of indexable, really valuable, insightful content that goes on the site every time we do one.
Julia Vanderput: Right. So we talked about white papers, webinars. But you can keep going. I mean I’ve seen tool kits come out of gated content. I mean what else have you seen?
Lauren Siler: Assessments work well. Let’s see, podcasts can be … Well, I guess podcasts wouldn’t be gated. You would just subscribe to those similar to a blog. eBooks can do well.
Julia Vanderput: Data reports, which I guess would be under white paper, do really well also because you’re sharing information that only you have.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, that’s true. Oh, another good one that I’ve seen that yields a lot of engagement are Q&A sessions, interviews. And I would advise you to gate them, actually, especially if it’s a notable person who’s being interviewed in your industry, or that would maybe travel in your prospect circles, but even if they’re not particularly well known. I’ve just noticed that the interview style if you gate that, it seems to pique the interest of the audience enough that they’re willing to submit the form to get the full interview. To get the full transcript.
Julia Vanderput: I can definitely see that. For sure. And I’ve seen our own content when we’ve brought in thought leaders, right?
Lauren Siler: Yeah, that’s true.
Julia Vanderput: The ins, etc. Just the amount of engagement we get from that.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. Bringing in outside perspectives I think it’s a nice way to shake up your content plan. And in some ways, I think it’s validating for your audience. It’s establishing your own credibility through the mouths of others because you can talk about your own expertise all day long. But if you’re getting somebody sort of outside of your organization to sit with you and sort of validate that expertise, I don’t know, it sees to go further for the audiences.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah, absolutely. I know what some of the questions we’re going to be talking about today and I want to get into to them because one of them is really, I’m like, yes, I want to talk about that. So do you want to walk people through what the Q&A portion of our episodes are going to be like?
Lauren Siler: Yeah. That’s a good idea. So basically how these things are going to be structured is each episode Julia and I will introduce a concept like we have today, and then we’re going to move into a Q&A section of the episode toward the end here. So we want you to submit your questions, your thoughts, your specific scenarios that have been challenging for your firm when it comes to content marketing. And as those are submitted either through Twitter or Facebook. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get in touch with us through where else?
Julia Vanderput: Yeah send it. Twitter also works, @ConsiderThisPod. Facebook, @considerthispod. Also, probably not the best way to get in touch with us, but by the way, SoundCloud also has our feed and that’s Consider This pod. Email is great. We also don’t want just questions. We also want to hear your feedback and what you think and any thoughts you might have.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. Thanks. But for these first few episodes what we’re going to be doing is just talking about questions that we hear when we consult our clients all the time. So this is what Julia and I do every day. We work with firms who have struggled to implement their content strategies on their own. So we design the strategies for them. We do all of the persona development and market segmentation. We design the messaging strategy. The editorial plan. And then we work to help hold them accountable to that plan on going. So we manage all the logistics around their content plans. All of the deadlines. We serve as an editor.
So I bring this up because we’re a partner in every step of the way for content marketing and we hear all of these interesting objections and questions. So we do have a few that we want to talk about today and it sounds like you had one that you wanted to jump right into.
Julia Vanderput: Well, it’s this whole idea that some people … So we just talked about how valuable gated content is. I’m hoping our listeners are sold on this. They’re like, yes, absolutely going to start doing gated content because it’s fantastic for lead gen and for a million other reasons. But every once in a while we get this one question from people, or this one objection I should say, which is that it’s not part of our brand to gate our thought leadership. Did I phrase that right? Do you want to add something to that?
Lauren Siler: No.
Julia Vanderput: Okay.
Lauren Siler: That’s good.
Julia Vanderput: No. Yeah, so sometimes we get that. And I like the sentiment. I like the idea that they want to have an accessible thought leadership out there. It’s a nice sentiment.
Lauren Siler: There’s a sense of benevolence to it. That we want to be generous with our education. We don’t want people to feel like they have to give up something about themselves in order to access our thinking. That feels too distant or arrogant or removed or just not quite in line with who we are as a brand.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah, exactly. So I appreciate it, but I also think that if you were to think of gated content as a trade. That can be really helpful in understanding how to present something really valuable for people so that they may fill out the form and give you their information. So when you’re thinking of well what’s going to be really, really useful for my audience and write and create your gated content around that. Then that’s going to be a good trade and everyone wins here.
Lauren Siler: Right, because it’s not a sales message. And I think a lot of times we end up coaching firms around how to stop considering their own marketing spam. You’re not a nuisance. If you’re doing this right you’re actually providing a service. And I don’t mean to overstate that, but I think that it’s true. When you’re being very intentional about the messaging strategy and you’re thinking about it from the perspective of your prospect. So you’re thinking about what do these people need? What don’t they understand? And how are they articulating their issue? And creating that content that, in a very empathetic way, speaks to those concern, then people are going to want to access that content.
The other thing I would say about it, in terms of whether or not it’s worth gating your content, is to come back to the roles of your content marketing and your digital plan. So we’ve got the attract side and the engaged side and you’re indexable content cannot fulfill the engaged side. And this is really the headline of this entire episode-
Julia Vanderput: So true.
Lauren Siler: … which is blogging is not content marketing. Blogging is a piece of content marketing and people get that wrong all the time. But if you are just blogging, you are doing 50% of content marketing and we can all remember from grade school that 50% is not a passing grade.
Julia Vanderput: I didn’t do so well in math, but I’m pretty sure 50% is not 100%.
Lauren Siler: It’s true. So we need to … And what we want to do is to incorporate a healthy stream of gated content into the plan. It doesn’t have to be as regular as the blog or the indexable content. I would say that if 15% to 20% of your quarterly content is gated, then you’re in good shape.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. I think that’s a good start. I know that for some content teams they are able to produce gated content more often and it works out for them. I mean that’s the beauty with digital. You can try different things. So I’d say that that’s a good rule of thumb, but I think it also depends on your industry and who you’re going after.
Lauren Siler: Julia’s like ready to push everybody to do more. You can do-
Julia Vanderput: You can do more.
Lauren Siler: I see you being this hard-nosed coach like, “I don’t think you look uncomfortable just yet. You could push a little harder on the treadmill.”
Julia Vanderput: Yeah, absolutely.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. So 15% to 20% I think is a good benchmark for people getting into this. And to lead to another question that we normally get, which is I don’t have the time to do this. I’m barely keeping my head above water with my blogging strategy. You’re saying 3,000 words. Then that’s just the blog. That’s just the indexable side. Well, how in the world am I going to make time to create gated content? And to that I would say, don’t get so precious about your gated content. Remember its function. The function of gated content is to have various points of conversion on the site so that you can engage people at various stages of their buy cycle.
That does not mean that every single piece of content that you put behind a form has to be this 30-page research paper. And I would argue that if you’ve been pursuing a blogging strategy for quite some time you could literally go to your site right now, find the five most interesting, compelling pieces of content and stick them behind a form and boom, you’ve got gated content on the site.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah. I think what you’re getting into now is something that I’m sure we’re going to dedicate an episode to, which is what are some creative ways to get that content up. And certainly in the gated content side of things, taking the blog posts and making one white paper out of several blog posts that fall under this theme, is certainly a fantastic idea. You also mentioned interviews, Q&As. That’s also a good one. I can see that being an audio post that then is transcribed and then posted on a site as a gated content piece, for sure.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. I mean there are a lot of methods to get to different development of content items. So we can definitely talk about that more in a future episode. But I guess the big picture I would caution you to the tendency toward being too precious about your own content marketing. A lot of the firms that we work with they’re prone to perfectionism. And while that can be an admirable quality in a lot of scenarios, it can also slow down your momentum and essentially slow your content marketing down to a glacial pace where it’s essentially non-existent.
Julia Vanderput: Which is a great point to make for our last question, which is PDF. So when we talk about gated content pieces, a lot of times the question … Our recommendation is, and I would say our core recommendation because I think it changes depending on what the content needs are, but in general what we typically recommend is for a gated content piece is once people fill out that form you want to keep them on that page. On your site. But every once in a while we get, well, it’s a report. Or it’s a white paper. I want to give them a PDF that they can take away with them. What are your thoughts on that?
Lauren Siler: Yeah. And the reason that we get that objection a lot, we work with a lot of creative services firms. A lot of marketing agencies and advertising agencies and PR firms, things like that. And they’re incredibly visual. The work that comes out of these shops is absolutely beautiful and they want their content to reflect those values, which I get. The problem with creating gated content that is designed as like a downloadable asset, a downloadable PDF, is that the second that somebody submits the form and they download that piece of content, they are now taken away from the experience of your website.
So from a lead development strategy standpoint, that’s not ideal. What we want is when somebody’s on the page and they submit the form to access the gated content, it’s simply just released to them on that actual webpage. So that they are still wrapped in the container of your brand. They can do things like get to related content materials in a sidebar. Or they can navigate to another area of the site if it makes sense to. You can cross-link to other pieces of relevant content on the page. All of those things are essential to drive engagement on your actual website. And the second that you make it easy for somebody to download and leave your site, you’re losing an opportunity to further nurture them as they’re consuming that content.
Julia Vanderput: That’s so true. And to come back to that point about the content production side of things. So when you add a PDF to the mix you’re adding another layer there of design work, production, looping in a designer. There’s this whole part of it. And it comes down to what the role is of gated content and we want to keep them on your site because your site is optimized for nurturing them. And we want to consistently add this content up to your side and when you add this PDF side of it, if you can’t promise me that you can get it done in a timely manner then that’s just slowing down your lead development system, you know?
Lauren Siler: Yeah. It can definitely limit the momentum. So it’s not like you can’t make your content on the website beautiful. You can be creative in other ways to figure out how to break up the visual experience so that it’s not just words on a page. Although, I would argue that typography can be beautiful. In any case, there are ways to think about including imagery on the site itself. Now some compromises that we have worked through firms with is they do both. So they will make it so that primarily the page is designed so that you consume that information actually in the context of the website. But then at the very end, there is an option to download that PDF and take it away and maybe that’s a different format. And it is more heavily designed. There’s a little bit more creative, or artistic, freedom there.
The final consideration with whether or not you should be creating gated content in a PDF format or consumed on that actual webpage, is the reporting and tractability, because-
Julia Vanderput: Great point. Yeah.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. The second that it’s a PDF, people can forward it along. They can share it. And you have no idea how often it’s circulating to other people and you’re not actually getting true reporting metrics on how engaging that piece was, which would inform your messaging strategy ongoing.
Julia Vanderput: Yeah, absolutely. We want to keep them on site. Now that being said, if I can plug something that’s coming up in the Newfangled content side of things. We typically don’t have PDFs on our site and yet we’re going to have one, as of right now, in October. We’re planning on having one in January, which is going to be what I mentioned before, the data pool for 2017. That’s coming out in, I think, January. It’s going to be a PDF also. But we’re also going to, I think, keep it on our site as well.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, exactly. So we’ll figure out a way to balance both and the nice thing to is that Newfangled has an extremely diverse content strategy. At this point we have articles. We have white papers. We have podcasts. We have webinars. Now we’re going to have eBooks. We’ve got calculators on the site. So that diversity gives us a little bit of freedom to explore new formats for this content because the world for our content marketing reality is just so vast.
But yeah, so I think, you know big picture there’s so much that we could … we could talk about this for hours. But the main takeaway here is that if you’re investing in a blogging strategy, you’re halfway there. But if you want your content marketing to work for you, you’ve got to figure out a way to diversify that content portfolio and get gated content back up on the site.
Julia Vanderput: That’s a good summary description.
Lauren Siler: Okay. So, to wrap things up, this is a new podcast. So for new podcasts it’s essentially that they are shared and talked about. Where can people find us to do that?
Julia Vanderput: Facebook. So that’s facebook.com/considerthispod. At Twitter @ConsiderThisPod. SoundCloud, Consider This pod. We’re also on iTunes. So review and give us feedback on there. And please email us some questions at email@example.com.
Lauren Siler: Yeah. Rate us and tell your colleagues, tell your industry peers, tell your friends. We’d love to spread the word about Consider This as much as possible. So we’ll leave it at that. Thanks so much for listening.
Julia Vanderput: Thank you.