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Small Biz Buzz—133—Alex Edlund—What is demand generation?

Alex Edlund, Keap’s head of demand generation, joins Small Biz Buzz to talk about generating demand for your product and business and creating brand awareness. His team is responsible for acquiring new customers via marketing, and a lot of the marketing that Alex does is performance-marketing related. It's about getting more leads, more opportunities and sales so the business can grow. “In demand gen, when we look across my team, it is practically every channel that aids in driving new traffic to the website,” Alex said. “So, paid search, SEO, affiliate marketing, paid social marketing, email, all these channels that can really drum up demand for Keap really encapsulates demand gen.” When it comes to demand gen, Alex said you have to have a sense for who you are targeting. Who's your target audience? What kind of research have you done to figure that out? If you're a small business that has been in business for quite some time, you have loads of information around that, you have your existing customer base, so look at that customer base to figure out what it is about them that makes them unique, or makes them work so well for your business.“When you have a good audience strategy, then it becomes a little easier for you to pick out which channels to invest in, what areas to have a presence in, because you really want to be where your audience is at,” said Alex. “If you know your audience, it becomes a lot easier to determine where you're going to invest your time.”Click play for more.

Transcript:

Dusey (00:10):

Hello, everybody, this is Dusey Van Dusen, and welcome to this episode of Small Biz Buzz. Crystal is still enjoying a vacation, probably in the tropics or something, I don't know where she's at, but I'm trying not to bug her. Laura is helping host today as well, again. Laura, welcome back.

Laura (00:29):

Hello, hello. Thank you for having me.

Dusey (00:30):

Yeah, absolutely. And for our guest today we have Alex Edlund on, and he is the head of demand generation at Keap. Hey, Alex, how's it going?

Alex (00:41):

Hey guys, how are you doing?

Dusey (00:43):

Doing great.

Laura (00:43):

Great.

Dusey (00:43):

You guys have any plans for this weekend? Anything coming up that you're excited for?

Alex (00:48):

Well, I'm going to hopefully go outside and maybe the weather will be a little cooler than it's been over the last week. I've seen the weather forecast and it still looks like we're going to be at 105, so I'll just keep my fingers crossed that it's wrong.

Dusey (01:03):

Yeah. The goal of all Arizonans during the pandemic, just make it outside sometimes. Laura, you up to anything?

Laura (01:14):

My dog's birthday is on Sunday.

Dusey (01:16):

Oh, yeah.

Alex (01:16):

Wow.

Laura (01:18):

So, we are going to take him to the dog park, hopefully yes, the weather is nice and cool. We typically go later in the afternoon so he's not running around in the heat, but yeah, we're just going to take him out there, let him run around with his friends, and give him some treats, and give him a special day. So, we're excited for that.

Dusey (01:37):

Nice. Laura just told me that we have a pet chat internally here at Keap, a channel-

Laura (01:44):

Yes, on Slack, yes.

Dusey (01:49):

I've got to go join that-

Laura (01:52):

You have to get added to that. It's quite entertaining, I love it.

Dusey (01:54):

Yeah, I-

Alex (01:54):

I had no idea.

Dusey (01:56):

Yeah, right? My daughter just got a pet snake for her birthday, so we'll see ... I'm interested to see if people are into that or if they just want puppies and kittens there.

Laura (02:06):

How is that going? I love snakes.

Dusey (02:08):

It's great. It's great, you only feed them once a week, they shed every so often, and they're pretty shy, they're ... Ember, it is an albino-

Laura (02:18):

Corn snake.

Dusey (02:19):

... corn snake, you got it.

Laura (02:20):

Yeah, I love those. When you shared a picture of her, and it reminded me of a class pet we had when I was in fifth grade, we had an albino corn snake named Wildfire, and that's where I got my interest in snakes.

Dusey (02:31):

Oh yeah, that's right, I remember you telling me about that, yeah. Anyway-

Laura (02:37):

Yes, definitely add pictures of her.

Dusey (02:37):

... if you have a favorite pet you would like to share with us, go head over to our Facebook channel and just share your pet and say, "They said it on the podcast."

Laura (02:46):

Yes. Let's start a thread.

Dusey (02:47):

Yeah. Anyways, we're going to dive in, and my first question for you, Alex, thanks for listening to us banter about our pets, my first question for you-

Laura (02:57):

We digress.

Dusey (02:58):

... Yeah, is when I first started at Keap, I had never even heard the term demand generation or demand gen before, so for anybody who's not in the know, let's start very basic right there, what does that even mean?

Alex (03:12):

Yeah. Well, you could say it's as simple as generating demand for your product, or your company, or your business, but another way of sort of twisting it is we're really in a position to drive new customers to Keap. We are the team responsible for acquiring new customers via marketing, and a lot the marketing that we do is performance marketing related. So, it's about getting more leads, getting more opportunities and sales so that the business can grow. So, in demand gen, when we look across my team, it is practically every channel that aids in driving new traffic to the website. So, paid search, SEO, affiliate marketing, we've got paid social marketing, email, all these channels that can really drum up demand for Keap, that really encapsulates demand gen.

Dusey (04:08):

That's cool. Yeah, my first earliest understanding of it was like, "Oh, they run ads", but it sounds like there's more to it than just like, "Let's get some ads out on Facebook", right?

Alex (04:20):

Yeah, it's a little bit more to it than that, but it starts with ads. You need a budget that you use to capture people at the very top of the funnel, but for Keap, and I think for a lot of small businesses, it doesn't just stop there. You start to place ads, you start to build interest via the ads, you then drive traffic from those ads to the website, and you continue to create engagement on the website. But we don't stop there, we have an incredible nurture program, and incredible sales team that continues to engage the traffic that we do drive to the website. So, it starts with that, and then it goes all the way down the funnel to the sale.

Dusey (05:01):

So, how does this ... I'm sure a lot of our listeners are familiar with the idea of, "Okay, let's put some ads out there", but where would you say somebody should get started if they're a newer small business, or they're maybe trying to reevaluate their marketing, what are things that they should think about when they're coming up with a demand gen plan?

Alex (05:20):

Yeah, great question. I think it depends so much on the type of business you are. If you're a brick-and-mortar business you might have a slightly different approach to your strategy, or if you're a business consultant, and you don't ... not really confined to a geography to do business, you might have a very different strategy, but I would say there are a few fundamental aspects to great demand gen marketing that you need to sort of adhere to.

Alex (05:49):

Number one, you kind of have to have a sense for who you are targeting. So, who's your target audience? What kind of research have you done to figure that out? If you're a small business that has been in business for quite some time, you have loads of information around that, you have your existing customer base, and so kind of take that and look at that customer base to figure out what is it about them that makes them unique to me, or makes them work so well for my business? When you have a good audience strategy, then it becomes a little easier for you to pick out which channels to invest in, what areas to have a presence in, because you really want to be where your audience is at. So, if you know your audience, it becomes a lot easier to determine where you're going to invest your time.

Alex (06:43):

So, that's kind of a starting point, know your audience, and there's plenty of tools out there, free tools like SimilarWeb, you can use Google Analytics, for example, that tells you a lot of information about the traffic to your website, and there's SEMrush, which is very affordable. You can buy these tools for a relatively low amount, and get a ton of information around that if you don't know what your target audience looks like.

Dusey (07:14):

So, some of those tools, just want to make sure that I understand correctly, what they're doing is they're looking at people that are already coming to your website ... I mean, they probably do more than this, but one of the things they do is look at people that are coming to your website-

Alex (07:26):

That's right.

Dusey (07:26):

... and then tell you, "Hey, these people are also over here on Facebook, or maybe they're really active on Twitter over here, or here's some search terms that they ..." something like that, that you're able to create kind of a profile of the audience you want to go after. You're saying, "Well, if it's working here on the website, then I can go to like-minded places outside of my website to find them."

Alex (07:50):

That's right, you hit the nail on the head, it creates a profile for who is ideal for your business. You understand demographics, you can even get certain psychographics, you may understand where they are spending their time on the internet, interests that they have. A lot of this data is available to you via Google Analytics, or via SEMrush. It's even more than that, you can use these tools to really understand your competitors, because hopefully you have a sense for who you're competing against in the market.

Alex (08:21):

If you're a local shop and you sell a certain product or service, you probably have a pretty good idea of who's in your vicinity that you might be competing with. And all these businesses, I would like to think, have a website, you can look up these websites and you can see where are they driving traffic from? What kind of tactics do they have? A lot of this information is either free or very inexpensive to get if you use some of these tools.

Laura (08:48):

Alex, I just want to ask, is volume the name of the game in demand gen, or is it more important to vet only high converting customers?

Alex (08:56):

Well, it's a little bit of both. You obviously, if you're starting with a very small pool of traffic it's really hard to make a lot of money, but if you're going for the volume game, and you're just sending a ton of traffic via your ads or via other activity, and none of that traffic converts, then you're still not making any money. You have to have a good balance-

Laura (09:17):

Sure.

Alex (09:19):

... and over time as you're ... Hopefully you have a website, I would just advocate for anyone who's a small business to have a website so you can build up some of that knowledge that you may not have otherwise about your customers. But you have a website, and so you're able to really determine what's working and what's not, where you're getting volume that may have a lower conversion rate. Your conversion in this case might be a lead, you want to generate the maximum amount of leads to your website, but if those leads don't result in a phone conversation, or a sale, then you need to adjust your strategy.

Alex (10:00):

So, by having a web analytics tool like Google Analytics, again, for free, and very easy to set up, and if it's not easy for you, you can always hire people affordably from companies like Upwork or other services, then when you set it up you can really see where are you getting those leads from, and where is it not efficient? I always advocate to start in a few different places and then start testing, because your initial approach is likely not going to be the perfect approach. In fact, it's very unlikely to be the perfect approach-

Dusey (10:35):

Not first time-

Alex (10:35):

... and you're just going to have to test your way through what works.

Laura (10:37):

Yeah, not first-

Dusey (10:38):

Nobody gets it first time, Alex?

Alex (10:40):

Well, I will say, I mean, a lot of small ... my brother has a small business and he sells solar panels. He sells and services-

Laura (10:48):

Oh wow.

Alex (10:49):

... or installs solar panels, and I've been in this space for a very long time, and we started off doing search ads. So, ran it through Google Ads, we got a free account, we add a $500 budget to it and we just started buying a few different keywords just to test out the market. What we found was, A, it was really expensive for him, and B, he wasn't able to get as many leads for the dollars he invested. So, instead of just saying, "All right, advertising doesn't work", we started investing in paid social leads.

Alex (11:21):

So, we went into Facebook and we ran a few simple ads, nothing fancy, and it was like night and day, just much better success, a ton of volume there. You do need to figure out a balance. At the end of the day, you have the best understanding of what cost you're willing to invest to acquire a new customer, and you know what your margins are, and so your marketing budget should naturally make you a profit, I would like to think.

Alex (11:55):

If you are okay with not running a profit that might be okay for a little while, but as a small business your margins are low, and you want to make sure you make more money than you put into advertising. So, that is really what you should be looking at, and if you can keep doing that, and keep testing, and keep learning, then ultimately you will figure it out. But every business is different, and what might work for some as far as some may enjoy paid search better than others, it just depends on what you're selling.

Laura (12:28):

It's definitely an endeavor in trouble shooting, and making sure you're getting the most ROI, that's definitely a good point.

Alex (12:34):

For sure.

Dusey (12:35):

And it's probably something, from what I've heard is you need to kind of keep monitoring that as you go. If you find something that seems to work you can kind of set it for a little while, but things change and shift over time, so it's like you keep coming back and keep tweaking it. There's a story that I'm sure many of our listeners have heard before, because Clate's told it a few times of when they were first starting Keap, and they were looking down payroll, and there was a section that says mark, and I think he goes to Scott, "Who's this Mark guy, and why are we paying him more than either of us?" and it was like, "Oh, that's our marketing budget." "Oh, okay."

Dusey (13:13):

His point with that is like you have to ... what would you say, I guess, to somebody who's hesitant about, "You know what, I've mostly run word-of-mouth, I've got ..." if they're a service that travels out to people's homes, "... I've got stuff on our fleet or on my vehicle.", like, "I'm not using ads and I'm not sure that advertising is for me", what advice do you have for someone that's hesitant about starting to put some spend into a marketing budget?

Alex (13:45):

Well, it's a great concern. The reality is that there is a lot of waste in the advertising landscape, and if you're not careful you do have the unfortunate ability to rack up expense and not get the return. I always advocate, create a good foundation first. You have to have a couple things in place. Make sure you have a website. If you're a business consultant, make sure you have social media account where you're actually sharing expertise that you want others to pay you for. Make sure that if you are in the business of creating a lot of content make sure you have a blog.

Alex (14:24):

A blog though is not something that everyone should take advantage of. If you're a small business, a brick-and-mortar store, you may not want to spend five, 10 hours a week just writing articles, it may not actually benefit you. But if you're trying to build up authority and expertise in your area, you want to be the subject matter expert that someone wants to pay you for, you need to have these, you need to have the website, social media account, you need to be where people are researching your types of services. So, create a really good foundation. Lots of small businesses, they forget to keep their reputation solid, and they forget to respond to reviews. You have to respond to your reviews. Make sure-

Laura (15:07):

Oh yeah.

Alex (15:07):

... you actually have a My Business page on Google. If you are a service that fits in the Yelp sort of environment, make sure you have a Yelp listing, and make sure you're listening to that. Nothing is going to be as profitable for you as maintaining a good reputation and growing that reputation, and that means keeping track of what people are saying about you. And if you do have an unhappy customer, make sure you reach out to that person, try to make it right, and try to get to a situation where you might be able to mitigate that negative review, because the reviews are, I mean, so important nowadays, right?

Dusey (15:48):

Yeah, yeah.

Alex (15:48):

And if you can just do some of that stuff then you may not have to spend as much in advertising.

Laura (15:54):

I've actually made decisions based on how businesses handle negative reviews and how they engaged with those people, and how they, like you said, they try to mitigate, they try to remedy the situation, you know-

Alex (16:05):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Laura (16:06):

... and a lot of times people like to complain, so is it a legitimate negative review, or did something really go wrong and the business is either saying like, "Hey, this customer wasn't really a customer of ours, they were jaded because they broke up with their boyfriend, and he drives a truck for us." I'm not kidding [crosstalk 00:16:22] that's a real scenario when we hired a moving company-

Dusey (16:25):

That's so great.

Alex (16:25):

Yeah.

Laura (16:27):

But yeah, that's absolutely important, and so speaking to that, are you an advocate for guerrilla marketing? Would you say companies need to think outside the box as far as advertising goes in marketing?

Alex (16:39):

It's a good question, I think guerrilla marketing is great if you have the time. Small businesses may not have the time to do that, but at the same time, there's a lot of free opportunities, just put a sign next to a stop by the street that advertises your business, and it's completely free. There are lots of other things you can do within guerrilla marketing that might work. But I feel like if you want to go in that direction you probably need to be pretty marketing savvy and understand what that really means, and then have the sort of energy and time, and really the passion to invest in that, because absolutely it can work. Just posting simple videos on YouTube about a solution that your business helps to solve can be the thing that's going to really drum up demand for your business. Have you guys heard of PewDiePie? Everyone's heard of PewDiePie, right?

Dusey (17:40):

Oh yeah.

Alex (17:41):

The guy that is like the biggest ... he also happens to be from Sweden, which makes me really proud, but he ... I mean, this guy just wanted to play games, and he wanted to share that with the world, and he didn't spend a single dollar on any advertising to get attention to that. People love his personality, he spent a lot of time editing, I mean, the guy spent most of his day putting together these videos and editing them to make them exciting and fun. So, you don't need to spend a lot of money on advertising if you are really ... if you have a plan on how to get visibility on some of these platforms.

Alex (18:24):

That doesn't mean that that's going to work for you the same way it's worked for PewDiePie, he's probably more of an exception than the rule, I think that would be a little disingenuous to say everyone can do it like him, but you can certainly try those things out, and if you're not able to build momentum then maybe what you need is to run some small pulse campaigns to promote some of these videos, get a little extra attention and get a little momentum from that, and then you might be able to ease off of advertising over time.

Dusey (18:56):

Yeah-

Laura (19:01):

Yeah, it's very cost-effective to do something like that too, that would generate a lot of traffic.

Alex (19:03):

Totally.

Dusey (19:03):

Yeah, and like in his case, his content is his product, right?

Alex (19:08):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dusey (19:09):

And so that's when you think of content creators online that's the thing that they really focus on, but there are definitely examples out there of a company that has great content out there, and then that content ... while its purpose is to drive them traffic, the content it itself is good enough that people just come for the content, and then you begin to build a long-term relationship with that brand, right?

Alex (19:31):

That's right.

Dusey (19:33):

And you talked about using some ads maybe to kickstart it, or to start to get the word out there, and in the world of YouTube I've noticed a trend recently of some people just taking their regular content videos, not specific ads meant to drive to anything, and putting money behind running that video as an ad. So, here's this like 10-minute ad like, "What is happening here?" One, it's to help people find that content because if it is ... there have been one or two cases where I've seen that and gone, "Oh, they nailed exactly what I'm interested in and I'm going to sit here and watch this long ad", because maybe it was already someone I was even subscribed to that I'm like, "Oh yeah, I like this guy's videos, let me watch this."

Alex (20:12):

Yeah.

Dusey (20:12):

Or didn't even realize it-

Alex (20:13):

Well-

Dusey (20:13):

... was the ad and not the video, right?

Alex (20:16):

... I think people like to watch something that isn't so clearly an ad as well. If it feels genuine and it doesn't feel too edited or too made up, and in the first five seconds you're able to say something that really captures the viewer's attention, then ... by the way, I've been in the same boat, I have seen ads that were like three, four minutes long where I've spent two minutes just kind of hearing this person out, what they're having to say, and it works, it does work. I think on YouTube, by the way, it can be really efficient to run those ads, and that gives you visibility that you're just not going to get on your website, and you can drum up a lot of interest by that.

Alex (21:02):

But sort of the other aspect of this, which will help you close more business without having to spend so much money on advertising is your sort of follow up. So, once you get a lot of ... if you get traffic to your website, and you get people to fill out a form, make sure you have a really good way to follow up on that traffic, on that lead. A lot of small businesses still rely on manual follow up, they sort of get interest, and then they don't get back to the leads within the hour, maybe several days go by, and then the lead has already decided to go with a competitor, or it's no longer interesting. So, you got to have a system or a tool that can really automatically do that kind of stuff for you, unless you want to spend hours and hours every day checking your phone, and making sure that you're following up quickly, that's a good way to go.

Dusey (21:59):

Yeah, that's really at the core of lifecycle marketing, of making sure if you're going to put that money out there into advertising if you don't have a good journey for them after that ready to go, it seems ... that money may just disappear that you put into that, right?

Alex (22:16):

Yep.

Dusey (22:16):

And maybe let's say it is super successful, and you get a ton of leads, and you're trying to follow-up manually, there are going to be some who fall through the cracks if you don't have a plan for them. And then, again, those ones that maybe aren't ready right then that you do follow up with, well, maybe they're close, or maybe they'll be ready later, but having a system that will follow-up with them instead of you either forgetting to, not having the time to, or spending all day making follow-up points of contact with them, whether it's calls, or emails, or whatnot. Yeah, it seems like you want to have that system, a little bit of a funnel, and a nurture sequence of emails ready to go to feed those ads into so that machine can kind of keep working on its own, right?

Alex (23:01):

Yeah, because a lot of ... unless this lead has this burning desire to just immediately make a purchase decision, a lot of people require time to be sold to and to be persuaded that they need this product, they need this service, and that they need it now, and that doesn't happen by just clicking on an ad. Well, I will say, very rarely does it happen that you see an ad-

Dusey (23:30):

It does sometimes-

Alex (23:30):

... and you're like, "Oh, I got to have this right now." It doesn't tend to lead to ... you want to have engagement, you want to be able to engage with this visitor, and one-time engagement probably isn't going to work. That's why so many companies focus on building great content to start the conversation. The content is not necessarily meant to sell the product or the service, it's meant to bring people in so you can have a conversation, and then you do ... as you pointed out, then you have your automated email follow up, you have your nurture where you educate the lead on the many benefits of your service, and over time that leads to better customers.

Laura (24:14):

I just want to ask a question, Alex, as far as social media platforms go, do you think it's more advantageous to work across many different platforms at once, or do you think it's more feasible to focus just on a couple and provide constant updates just to kind of streamline the process?

Alex (24:30):

Yeah, I think you can certainly go both ways, but if you know ... part of the answer to that question might lie in knowing your customer and where they actually spend time. Most of us end up spending a lot of time on some of the main social platforms, you go to video sharing sites like YouTube ... I think YouTube pretty much is the only video sharing site out there. Dailymotion used to be one, I don't know, but YouTube is the place to go. I still use Facebook a little bit, I know a lot of people that are my age and below my age don't use Facebook, they use Instagram, they use Twitter. So, understanding where your customer spends time would probably help answer that question, but there are very affordable tools out there that can syndicate your message across all these platforms. So, you go into the tool and you post whatever you want to post, and that's just distributed across all these platforms automatically. I'm not sure what tools are available right now, it's been a while since I've researched them, but Hootsuite used to be around, that was a popular tool when-

Laura (25:39):

Hootsuite's good and so is Buffer. Those are good [inaudible 00:25:43] sites for social media, you can kind of schedule different posts at the same time to go out to many different platforms. So yeah, it's definitely efficient.

Alex (25:53):

[crosstalk 00:25:53] I used to-

Dusey (25:53):

And it sounds like ... Sorry, it sounds like what you're saying is, yes, if you can get one of those and use one of those to get it out to everybody, that's awesome. It's kind of like if the price is right there's no reason not to syndicate it out to a bunch of different platforms, but the most important thing is if you do know that, "Oh, my audience tends to be here in these groups and these places", make sure those are the ones you're paying most attention to, and then if your audience isn't super on Twitter, "Well yeah, okay, my stuff kind of goes out on Twitter, and it's just there for the few that are", is that-

Alex (26:25):

Right. Yeah, yeah, pretty much. I mean, and then of course, you evaluate ... again, it goes back to this little test and learn mindset that you need to have when you go into the ad space or even looking at posting stuff on social media, you look and see what works. If you post a bunch of stuff on Twitter and you don't get engagement, maybe that's a good indicator that that's not the place to be and you stop doing that. If you post a bunch of stuff on Facebook, you're not getting a ton of engagement over time, maybe that's not the place to be.

Alex (26:58):

I think there are a lot of examples where people, particularly consultants, coaches, and experts, where they just advertise on YouTube, or they just post on YouTube. That's the only place, because there they have an ability to post much richer content, longer-form content that is more engaging and educational, and they know that a lot of people go to YouTube to search for those things, or they go to Google and then they end up coming to YouTube via Google search, "How do I do this? How do I do that? What can I do to improve my this X, Y, Z.", and they end up going to YouTube and they end up learning that way. So, some people, again, I think it depends on the business, I've seen a lot of people in that sort of professional services space be very successful both in advertising and posting free content on YouTube.

Dusey (27:53):

Yeah. Yeah, on the organic side of YouTube of not posting ads but just posting content up there, there is a tool that we've started to use called TubeBuddy, and one of the things it can do is help you figure out how much ... look for high volume low competition keywords to go after, right-

Alex (28:14):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dusey (28:14):

... in YouTube, right there in YouTube.

Laura (28:16):

It's a great tool.

Dusey (28:17):

Yeah, so we've definitely had some success. Earlier you mentioned psychographics, and the psychographics video that we had was one of those where we were able to kind of hit the nail on the head with all of those that we saw that, "Hey, nobody ..." there are people searching for psychographics, there isn't a lot of competition or a lot of great videos that explain what psychographics is so we made one, used those keywords, and to this day, that was a couple years ago, maybe three years ago now, to this day that's one of our top performing videos just because that's what people were looking for, right?

Alex (28:48):

Yep.

Dusey (28:48):

So, spending some time to understand, "Well, what are people looking for that's in my realm that I can make some content for them?", and again, tools out there like [crosstalk 00:28:57] can help you do that.

Alex (28:59):

Yeah. And I don't know if I mentioned this tool, but SimilarWeb is also a great tool that you can, it's free, there is a paid subscription, but you can use it for free where you can look up your competitors, or you can look up websites that you really love and you feel are relevant to your business, and it tells you all kinds of stuff about the keywords that they're driving to the website, the channels, whether it's display or paid search, or a lot of it's maybe direct. It tells you all kinds of really interesting information, and really the only thing stopping you there is time, and that shouldn't be an excuse. You get on there, you put in the domain that you're interesting in learning about, and it gives you all kinds of great insights.

Laura (29:49):

And speaking of keywords, Alex, I just want to bring up the concept of search engine optimization, SEO. I've been working in SEO for 10 years, in fact, I'm the SEO copywriter here at Keap, and you mentioned something about blogs not always being conducive for certain businesses, what advice would you give in terms of SEO for a business that's just starting out? Where should they start, and be conscious of ... it's very diverse, it changes so much, and how can they keep up with what's expected and how they can be successful?

Alex (30:24):

Yeah, it's a big topic, and there's so many different parts of SEO that have evolved over the years, but there are some truths that you got to adhere to. By the way, Laura, when you started off in SEO space it was probably really simple to just change your page title, maybe your meta tags, your meta description [crosstalk 00:30:48]-

Dusey (30:49):

Stuff some keywords in there.

Alex (30:50):

Stuff some keywords on your page, and then Google [crosstalk 00:30:52]-

Laura (30:50):

Yep. Exactly.

Alex (30:54):

... was just like, "Ooh, this website's relevant.", and then all of a sudden you're in the top three. That is no longer as useful. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't do it, but it's not going to be what's going to determine whether you're ranked number one, or number 10, or number 20. If you create a website, and a lot of these hosting platforms, or website builders, have sort of built-in SEO scripts, or plug-ins that you can search for, I remember those plug-in for WordPress called Yoast SEO, and you just put that on your website and it sort of automatically made sure that what you had on the page title and the meta description was applicable and relevant, but that's one idea.

Alex (31:42):

I think you should read up a little bit on some of the basic SEO best practices. There are lots of websites out there, the ones where I started to learn about SEO was Search Engine Journal ... Now I'm blanking on the website, but it was SEO Journal, Clicksbee, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land was the website-

Dusey (32:08):

I remember some of [crosstalk 00:32:09]-

Laura (32:08):

Nice.

Alex (32:10):

... Yeah, tons of recommendations on there, but really make sure that your website, when you go into these pages and you look at what the page title is, make sure they're relevant to the keywords you're targeting. When you create content about something, make sure that the content addresses a certain keyword that you want to go after, that's really important. I think local SEO, a lot of small businesses struggle with that, because they don't have some of the basic things set up, they don't have a website that is keyword optimized, they don't have a My Business listing, for example, they don't have the local listing set up.

Laura (32:50):

Right, yeah.

Alex (32:51):

Well, these are so important nowadays, it's a great signal for Google to look to say, "Oh, this website's getting a lot of reviews. That is a sign of authority, and we are going to rank them better because of it." You got to have the reviews set up, and also think about the content that you create. So, a lot of small businesses can generate free traffic by just creating compelling content, but that's why I said I think it depends a little bit on what kind of business you're in. Some businesses probably shouldn't spend 10, 20 hours a week just creating content, because it might not yield as much benefit for them, but those are some tips that I think help.

Alex (33:37):

You want to get traffic to your website via links, so work with people in the community, if you have a good network in your local community, or in the industry you're at, work with other websites, or people, professionals that you respect to try to exchange content, and in exchange for that content get a link, when you get a link to your website that builds up the authority, and that's completely legitimate.

Dusey (34:06):

So, we've talked a lot about doing ads, we've talked about doing some SEO optimization, early on you mentioned that you also help with some affiliate or referral marketing kind of stuff, as well as I know that you guys do some webinar stuff, so maybe I would love to just kind of hear what are some tactics outside of those first two of kind of the ad and SEO realm that are other things that a small business could consider getting into?

Alex (34:34):

Yeah so, we could touch on both the affiliate and webinar, and events, and activities that really meant to bring people together to learn something about what you're trying to sell. For affiliate, I've been in affiliate marketing since I started, and the idea around affiliate marketing's pretty simple, you pay websites to drive traffic or leads to your website. There are affordable affiliate programs out there, one called LinkShare where you're really not paying these affiliates anything unless they actually give you some value.

Alex (35:19):

So, in that sense it's kind of risk free. You typically need to sign up to a network and then once you're in that network, you have access to a wealth of publishers, we call them publishers, but essentially websites, and that's a great way for you to really make sure that you're only paying when you're getting benefits. So, I would recommend anyone kind of look into affiliate networks that can drive benefit to them.

Alex (35:48):

If you're a consultant, again, if you're an expert, coach, speaker, then you're probably going to get a lot of leads via seminars. Do we still call them that? Webinars, I guess, seminars is a little old school, but coaching classes, courses, and you can advertise that, you can actually advertise those courses, but you can also promote them on social media organically, can boost your post, that tends to drive a ton of engagement when you have a compelling message about a problem that people have, everyone wants to double their sales, everyone wants to make more money, everyone wants to find a way to be more successful.

Alex (36:34):

If you're an expert or coach, and you offer that on your website, that's a great way to generate demand for your product, just start by doing educational content, and you start by having a course, and over the course of the course you build demand for your product. You sort of educate people on why it's so important to have this thing, and then at the end you've hopefully gotten to a place where they have the aha moment, they have the, "I know I have a ... this is a challenge that I really need to solve, and here's the solution right in front of me." That tends to be really effective as well.

Dusey (37:14):

Yeah, I think that content ... where my mind goes with that is making sure that you're providing value upfront in that content. Very few people want to sign up for a 45 minute sales pitch if that's all it is, so to me, when I think of that webinar, I think that that's another place that you can ... just like you would provide value on your blog of teaching people not just about what it is that you do or your product, but getting people interested in your service or your product, and teaching them even how to do some stuff one their own.

Dusey (37:56):

It's really easy to want to be real tightfisted and hold onto your industry knowledge, but the more that you can share and give them value upfront, then when they come into something like that webinar, again, that webinar should be giving them value, teaching them how to do something, but then also you're working in where your product or where your service fits into that, so that at the end of it it's very natural of saying, "Hey, so this is how you can do all of this stuff that we've talked about", right?

Alex (38:25):

That's right.

Dusey (38:26):

I really like the tactic of, "Here's how you could do it on your own, but we could just do it for you", like giving them tips on ... A few weeks back, or a couple months back, I used the example of the pool service that I saw online that they were talking about how to make sure that you don't get an algae bloom, which I was having a problem, and I went there-

Laura (38:52):

That's the worst.

Dusey (38:53):

Yeah, right? And I went there and learned all about it, and it's like, "Okay, well, you know what? If I need to buy something, or if I'm going to hire somebody to come do this for me, they're the ones, because they're the ones who gave me all that information to help me get going."

Alex (39:08):

Yeah, because they built trust, they didn't lead with selling you the product, they actually gave you something of value, a piece of advice. So, but there are lots of studies out there when somebody trusts a brand, and someone trusts a person, they're much more willing to invest in that.

Laura (39:27):

And one last thing I want to bring up, Alex, is how do you leverage a follow-up strategy? Wow, sorry. As far as like email, texting, retargeting, do you have any tips for customers that they can use to make sure they're nurturing those relationships with their customers?

Alex (39:48):

Yeah, for sure. We have a pretty robust nurture strategy here at Keap, and I would recommend to anyone to get a tool like Keap to automate I follow-up. But a retargeting strategy, or rather our nurture strategy completely depends on the intent of the user. Sometimes when we have high intent our retargeting strategy is much more focused on selling, when we have low intent, if someone's just coming in for the blog, then it's much more about education, and the follow-up has to be pretty immediate.

Alex (40:25):

So, someone's expressing interest in a blog, we have an immediate automated email that goes out, and then we have a sequence of emails that over two or three weeks in an ongoing are sent out, and the purpose of all those emails is really to educate the person about ways to automate their business, to win more business. And so for follow-up, it's good to have an email marketing automation platform that does that for you. You can set that up really easily in most of these tools, simple templates are available, and that way you are already ... you're talking to the customer without actual having to lift a finger. It's really efficient, and it's really good use of your time.

Alex (41:12):

Retargeting is also a great strategy we talked about display retargeting, or YouTube retargeting. When people visit your website, that's not the end of the conversation, just like with giving their lead information, you actually have an opportunity to continue to talk to them, and I recommend retargeting for anyone to start off, because it's so efficient. It guarantees that you're not targeting anyone except people who have visited your website, and you can continue to sell them on the message that you want them to be sold on. It's highly effective.

Laura (41:53):

Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Alex-

Dusey (41:55):

That's awesome.

Laura (41:56):

Any other points you want to bring up before we wrap up? Anything we missed?

Alex (42:02):

Well, I just want to reiterate that to be a business that generates a lot of demand, you've got to be open to testing and learning. Don't take the first test as a evidence that something works or something doesn't work. In my 13 years of being in performance marketing, I've found that things I thought were true just two years ago are no longer true, or because I changed the approach just a little bit, maybe with my audience targeting on Facebook, or maybe with the message in the creative or in the ad, or maybe just making some small adjustments on a landing page, that's sometimes all you need to do to make something work. So, don't get too discouraged in the beginning if you're not getting the traction, just keep testing, and keep being flexible in your mindset of the areas that you want to invest in, because oftentimes businesses, they quit too early, and they don't really ... they're not able to reap the rewards of a potential of any given marketing tactic.

Dusey (43:09):

Awesome.

Laura (43:10):

They just have to persevere.

Dusey (43:11):

Yep.

Alex (43:11):

Persevere, that's right.

Laura (43:13):

Yep, excellent.

Dusey (43:14):

Well, if anybody wants to dive in more, we've got several guides and articles about lead generation on our blog, you just go search Keap lead generation, Keap demand generation, and you'll see a bunch of stuff about getting leads to your website, a guide for lead generation, using video for lead generation, and on and on. There's tons of resources there so feel free to go check that out if you're dying to really dig into some of the stuff we've been talking about.

Laura (43:41):

Yeah, just go to our website, and go under Interesting Stuff, and click on Marketing Blog, you'll see the Business Success Blog and the URL, and you'll know you're in the right place.

Dusey (43:49):

That's my favorite bar header on the top, Interesting Stuff.

Laura (43:52):

Yeah, Interesting Stuff. Well, speaking of work-

Alex (43:56):

That's true.

Laura (43:56):

... we should let Alex get back to work. So, thank you very much for joining us again here today, Alex, and taking the time to speak with us, speak to our audience, it's been a pleasure. Thank you all so much for tuning in, I'm Laura Dolan.

Dusey (44:09):

And I'm Dusey Van Dusen.

Laura (44:10):

And this has been Small Biz Buzz, we will see you next time.

Dusey (44:13):

Bye.

Speaker 1 (44:18):

Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz. Please take a second to subscribe to the show, and leave a five-star rating, it helps keep the show going. And, if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to keap.com, that's K-E-A-P.com, and get started. More business. Less work. That's Keap.