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185. Content Strategy With Russ Henneberry
Ash RoyNov 30, 2019 1:41:33 AM56 min read

185. Content Strategy With Russ Henneberry

Content Strategy With Russ Henneberry




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Ash Roy and Russ Henneberry Video Transcript (This transcript has been auto-generated. Artificial Intelligence is still in the process of perfecting itself. There may be some errors in transcription):

Russ Henneberry: 00:00

Well, let’s say I’m in retail and I’m a small retailer in a small town and I read a customer story about somebody using your software and having success. That is the kind of stuff that tips me towards your solution over your competitor. And those are the kinds of pieces of content marketing that can be produced deeper in the funnel and are worth a thousand blog posts or a thousand podcast episodes to a business whose goal is sales today.

Ash Roy: 00:35

Hello and welcome to the productive insights podcast. I’m Ash Roy. I’m the host of the productive insights podcast and the founder of I recently had the pleasure of meeting Russ Henneberry at digital-marketers-down-under where he moderated a panel, which I was featured on. The panel talked about content marketing, and until recently Russ worked for as a content marketing expert. I’ve done his content marketing mastery course on the digital marketer portal and I’ve got a lot of value from it. So when I was introduced to Russ, I had to ask him to come and be a guest on the productive insights podcasts because I think he’s got a ton of value to share. So I’m delighted to welcome Russ Henneberry from Welcome, Russ.

Russ Henneberry: 01:25

Hey, how are you doing Ash? Good to see you, man.

Ash Roy: 01:27

Good to see you too, man. It was fantastic meeting you at digital-marketers-down-under and I particularly liked your incredible Aussie accent. So can you just, can you just do this? Just give us a bit of a feel of that “Good day, good day, mate.” Can we have that?”

Russ Henneberry: 01:49

Sure, “No DRAMAS”

Russ Henneberry: 02:19

Well, I’ve put back from Australia for guess a month or so, so, I’m starting to lose my Ozzie accent. I can’t wait to get back down there.

Ash Roy: 02:27

Well, you just need to keep talking to me, man. I’ve got the strongest Aussie accent, no, I’m just kidding. Yeah, my accent is kind of mixed between Aussie and Indian and goodness knows what else. I lived in England for some times though. Okay. So Russ, we here to talk about content marketing and man, I really am expecting no pressure, but I’m expecting a lot of value from you because you really know your stuff. Russ, you managed a lot of digital marketers content and their content strategy. You were essentially a queue writer if I’m not mistaken, you decided on who would speak at traffic and conversion summit for many years. So you’ve got a very strong background in content marketing. Can you tell us a little bit about your history and how you contributed to digital marketers in the content marketing space?

Russ Henneberry: 03:16

Yeah, totally. So thank you. I started out in digital marketing. I started a business like Ohfour that was my first company. I started a website and start to figure out like, Hey, why, why is this site ranking above my website and all this stuff and come to find out about SEO. And I started playing around with pay per click marketing and really fell in love with the digital side of business and digital marketing and, and haven’t really looked back since in about 2008 I would say it’s a little over 10 years ago, I kind of rebranded myself from an SEO guy to a content marketing guy. And I remember when it first got started, it was like I was going into people’s offices as a freelancer and telling them, you know, they needed content marketing and they didn’t know what the heck I was talking about.

Russ Henneberry: 04:07

And it was pretty interesting to watch the transformation from about 2008 to let’s say 2014 or so, about six years of, you know, content marketing becoming a real well-known discipline amongst the business community. You know, I was starting to get people reaching out to me saying like, Hey, I hear you know about this content marketing thing. Like what is that? Like how do I, you know, people were putting me on stages to talk about it and it really came from, from this idea of understanding that that search engine optimization, you know, the act of, of trying to improve a piece of content to get more organic search results is really a sub-discipline of content marketing. Right. You know, when I kinda got started in all this stuff, Ash like that, you could do all kinds of weird stuff to get a page to rank in the search engines, even though the content was no good.

Russ Henneberry: 04:59

I started to think like that’s the point of meeting trapped these low-quality pages. Like they don’t convert anybody in anything. And I kind of went on this quest to, to figure out, you know, how do I take this content marketing discipline and really start to connect it to business results because content marketing is always one of those soft disciplines and digital marketing as opposed to something like email marketing or paid traffic copywriting, like these direct response. Like, you know, I send an email, I make money, I put out an ad, I make money. Content marketing and social media marketing always have been one of these soft disciplines that been difficult to connect back to revenue. Yes. So I kind of wanted this quest, like how do I develop the content marketing processes and strategies and so forth to apply to businesses so that they get real results.

Russ Henneberry: 05:57

And then how do I communicate those results to the stakeholders, whether it’s my clients or you know, my own properties that I own. And so throughout that quest, I’ve worked for I worked for Neil Patel at crazyegg. I started, started that blog for him and ran that for two and a half years or so. Learned a lot from Neil. And I worked for Ryan Deiss at, works for a lot of smart people, working with a lot of smart people, did a lot of experimentation and played with a lot of things and I learned a lot of things along the way. But yeah, you know, my role at digital marketer was the director of the editorial and so I was in charge of the team that is putting any of on the front end and I was also in charge of the product itself because we actually produce content for sale. So it was my department to be a steward over the product and over the content that was driving awareness kind of on the front end. Right.

Ash Roy: 07:05

Well, there are some interesting names you’ve mentioned there. Rand Fishkin was a guest on episode 38 or 39 I can’t remember which one exactly on this podcast, and we actually talked about exactly this topic at the time. He was the CEO of SEO Mozz and he started to allude to this conversation around content marketing is kind of becoming the new SEO. I’m not saying that there is no such thing as SEO. Absolutely there is, but SEO and content are kinds of more and more a continuum. You know, you alluded earlier to you could do various things to rank on page one of Google, like by battling send, keyword, stuffing and so on. But Google algorithms are getting smarter and smarter and they push you down the rankings. Now if you’ll do these artificial black hat or gray hat stuff. So ultimately Google has one objective and one objective only as Rand Fishkin said.

Ash Roy: 07:59

And that is to give people the best possible search experience. So if you can fulfill that objective that Google has, which gives people a result and solve a problem with your content, then over time and overtime as the important phrase here, you are going to do well on search results. Neil Patel was on episode one, the very first episode of this podcast, so that’s pretty cool. And you were actually in touch with John Morrow at one point, who was my mentor, who taught me how to write personally and he was featured on episode three. John Morrow is a phenomenal writer, isn’t he?

Russ Henneberry: 08:37

John Morrow is a phenomenal human being.

Ash Roy: 08:38

Yes. I was about to say that next.

Russ Henneberry: 08:41

Yeah. And a phenomenal writer. And I knew his writing before. I knew him as a human being and a, yeah, I owe a lot, you know, my success or at least getting started in this business from John. But yeah, it just goes to show you, right? Like we’re all standing on the shoulders of giants, you know, you know, Rand Fishkin, John Morrow, Neil Patel, Ryan Deiss, like these people, you know, the more you can learn from them and watch what they’re doing and just sort of mimic what they’re doing, the better off you’re going to be.

Ash Roy: 09:10

And you know, John Morrow was actually trained by a guy called Brian Clark, the founder of Copyblogger. And I actually had the honor of grabbing a beer with him when he was here in Sydney. He was, he spent about six months in Australia last year and he was in episode 116 so if you’re interested in this kind of stuff, if you’re listening or watching this on YouTube, check out episode 116, okay. So Russ, let’s get back to what we’re talking about. You’ve touched on how content marketing can be profitable for businesses because ultimately it comes down to solving a problem, creating great quality content and being the solution that often could lead to a purchase decision. So an example I remember discussing with Joe Polizzi in episode 75 the founder of content marketing institute, the analogy was this, if you’re creating washing machines, there’s no point in creating content about why your washing machine is the best in the world. If the person that is checking out Google to buy a washing machine is trying to decide on the difference between a top loader and a front loader. So in that scenario, a better of writing content about top loaders versus front loaders first, which then naturally leads to a purchase decision. And if they see your content that helps them solve their top loader of versus front loader problem, they’re more likely to buy from you. So could you give us a little bit of your take on that particular approach to content creation?

Russ Henneberry: 10:35

Yeah, so I call it a full-funnel content marketing, right? And full-funnel content marketing is about understanding that content marketing is not blogging. Okay? Content marketing is not podcasting. The misnomer here is, you know, sometimes I’ll go to a business owner, say, Oh, you’re doing some content marketing. Are you doing any content marketing at all? And they’ll say, yeah, yeah, we’re blogging. They feel like if they checkmark the blog box that they’re doing content marketing and while blogs are, you know, I love blogs and I like theirs, supercritical, I love podcasts. They’re actually just a component. Correct? If we want to connect content marketing back to business results is we need to look at the full funnel. So let’s talk about what that looks like. Let’s talk about awareness. All right? So you’ve got awareness at the front end.

Russ Henneberry: 11:21

No one can buy your stuff unless they first know that you’re, they become aware of you and your brands and your solution. We could get people aware and engaged. Then we move on to the next stage, which I would call subscription. All right, so in digital marketing. One of the beautiful things about digital marketing is we can get people to raise their hands and say, yes, I’m interested. I would like to hear more. I want to give you permission. And you know, Seth Godin, now, ancient book, permission marketing, right? I to give you permission to continue the conversation so they will subscribe, right? And typically that’s in the form of an email address these days, right? Yes. After subscription, we’re looking for purchase, right? We’re looking to move to a point of sale. The fourth stage that I think a lot of people forget about in content marketing is the support stage, right?

Russ Henneberry: 12:13

So the post-purchase content marketing, which you know the goals, their post-purchase are to increase retention or reduce churn. You know, however you want to describe it, and increased cross-selling, upselling, right? So get people to buy more, get people to buy more often. So when you look at your content marketing from this perspective and you’re approaching a business, let’s say you’re an agency or a freelancer or you’re looking at your own business, but you need to ask yourself is, you know, which of those four goals do I want to attack right now? Do I need more awareness and engagement? If so, yes, start a podcast, start a blog, right? Those vehicles are really, really great at what we call the top of the funnel at getting a lot of awareness and engagement, producing a lot of value in advance, growing authority, growing trust, all that stuff.

Russ Henneberry: 13:10

But if your goal is sales right now, right? Don’t go start a blog, right? Don’t go start a podcast. Instead, look deeper in the funnel at pieces that could be created in your content marketing that would assist the sale. So this would include things like a demo of your product. This would include pieces that compare your product or your product or your solution against competing solutions. This would include things like customer stories, which are very much a part of content marketing in the way I define it. Where you know you’re going out there and you’re, you know, let’s say you’re a software company and you provide accounting software, go out there and interview and tell the stories of your customers, right? Because if I’m in the consideration, I’m getting ready to purchase and I’m looking at a few different counting solution products. Yup.

Russ Henneberry: 14:07

And I go and I read a story that’s very similar to my business. Like, let’s say I, let’s say I’m in retail and I’m, I’m a small retailer in a small town and I read a customer story about somebody using your software and having success. That is the kind of stuff that tips me towards your solution over your competitor. And those are the kinds of pieces of content marketing that can be produced deeper in the funnel and are worth a thousand blog posts or a thousand podcast episodes to a business whose goal is sales today, right? If your goal is lead generation for example, and you feel like, okay, the problem is lead generation, then you need subscription content. So this would be things like lead magnets, right? So lead magnet is a, is a piece of content that is behind an opt-in. All right?

Russ Henneberry: 14:57

So somebody’s got to give you their email address. So that the same accounting software could create a white paper or they could create a checklist. You know, here are the things you need to be thinking through before you do your taxes in 2020 right or 2019, whatever, right? And opt-in to get this piece of content and that’s going to generate leads for you. Don’t go starting a podcast. If you need a subscription, they’ll go starting building lead magnets if you need awareness. And then, you know, of course, if you’re looking at a business as you’ve got a client or stick rate, right, you’re not able to keep people, uh, from churning off of your solution, then you need support level content. So I’ll tell you a quick story. I am starting a new project and so this is just quintessential perfect content marketing. I started a trial with four different software companies to see which one was going to be the right solution for this project that I’m working on.

Russ Henneberry: 15:58

And you know, this software, this solution has gotta be able to do a couple of different things the way I need them to do it, you know, for me to choose their software solution. And so I start asking questions and I start asking those questions on Google like, can campaign, monitor, do X, can active campaign do Y? You know, and I’m using Google to try to figure out whether or not the software companies have these very specific features. These are features that would not be listed on their sales page. Right? And I was finding the content that I needed sometimes. Sometimes I was finding it from the brand. Other times I was finding it from independent people that were like hey or you know, here’s a YouTube video showing you how to do this with campaign monitor or active campaign. But this is a tremendous opportunity right here for point of sale content marketing where if active campaign knew that, you know, during the course of a month, 25 people go to Google and ask Google if they can do, if they can merge address fields into the thing, let’s say that’s what I need.

Russ Henneberry: 17:07

That would be a very fantastic page to create on their website. That’s called what I call a money page, right? Because 25 people that’s, that’s worth more than thousands of visits to some blog posts about, you know, 10 tips, 10 email tips and I’m not downing blogging and I’m not downing podcasting. What I’m saying is you need to know what the goal of is, right? Absolutely. Talk to your clients, talk, think about your own business and think about where do I want to, what do I want to effect here? Is it churn retention? Is it sales conversion, is it a lead generation or is it more of a top of funnel-like, and I would say this like as you probably heard this before, I’d ask like where somebody says, man, I have got the best product. If anybody just knew that I existed. Well, you’ve got an awareness problem. Yes, start a podcast, start a YouTube channel, start a blog, but don’t expect that blog to necessarily really have that much effect on the back end of your height, your churn numbers or your even your point of sale numbers. So

Ash Roy: 18:19

so many points you touched on, this is why I wanted you on the podcast. I really like what you say about full-funnel marketing and how you distinguish the different stages at which content needs to be created. You talked about awareness, you talked about subscription, you talked about the purchase decision and I completely agree with you and this corresponds to the five stages of awareness. There is a tendency in online marketing for people to just think lead magnet, nurture sequence, sale. But what is missing often in people’s thinking is that the kind of content that needs to be created at each of those points is a little bit different. So what you talked about there, you know, comparison content, active campaign versus campaign monitor. That is what Rand Fishkin calls searcher intent. It’s tapping into search or intent. It’s looking at a detailed comparison between two products.

Ash Roy: 19:15

That means the searcher is pretty close to making a purchase decision versus a searcher typing in what type of email software do I need. That’s much earlier in the funnel in terms of the full-funnel that would be, you know, just after maybe awareness stage. So that’s a great point. It’s important to build a mailing list but you should be aware of general data protection requirements that apply to people in the European Union. I think that’s a very healthy practice. It just requires you to have what is called list hygiene and Richard Lindner talked about that really well in episode 171 you know you don’t want to email people about stuff that they haven’t subscribed to this business of buying lists and you know, just emailing people ad nauseum is not a good idea. So definitely check out episode 171 and I did an episode with a guy called Bobby Clink who’s a lawyer and he talked in detail about general data protection regulation and how you can make sure you’re compliant with that.

Ash Roy: 20:16

Now, yes, it only applies to the European Union at the moment, but I think it’s a very healthy practice. So think about that in the full-funnel content marketing process. You talked about being able to produce content and deliver it to people at the right time and have their right stage on their journey. In episode 177 I spoke to a guy called Barry Moore who talked about tagging in active campaign and I think tagging is a super powerful strategy. Andre Chaperon talked about this in episode 140 where he said he tends to tag people and he uses largely automation sequences to email as people. The keyword is relevance. He stays relevant to people and I think if you have an intelligent tagging strategy, then you can email people with content that they want at their stage in the journey. So you’re not just blasting everybody on your list with an email.

Ash Roy: 21:12

So those are some things to definitely think about. You also mentioned case studies or you said stories. The case study format is great. I learned that from, I think it was James Schramko or maybe Tuckey Moore, and basically you look at the before stage, you look at the work that you did together and then the after stage, and that’s the format for creating a case study and you can build a story around that. I found that to be extremely valuable and when I presented at digital marketers down under, I actually used a couple of case studies in my presentation that was well-received because your audience can often put themselves in the shoes of the person who you’re presenting as the case study and it gives them an opportunity to think, yes, this could work for me. And as Ryan Deiss said in episode 170 people aren’t just thinking, will this product work? They’re often asking in their minds, will this work for me?

Russ Henneberry: 22:06

That’s right. You know, and Ryan taught me this, it, it’s not that they don’t think it will work. It’s not that they don’t think that you can do it. It’s not that they don’t think that other people could do it. Your job as a marketer a lot of times is to convince them that they can do it right, that for some reason, for whatever reason, and customer stories go a long way, you know, helping them overcome that fear that this won’t work for me. It won’t work for my circumstances. If you can tell a similar story, somebody will relate to it, right? That can go a long way in conversion.

Ash Roy: 22:39

Absolutely, and you can also use that format in podcasts or in other forms of content. So in episode 80 and episode 150 I did a case study format interview doing exactly that. The before stage, the work that we did together in the aftershave, the results, and that produced a lot of interest towards what digital marketer would call the bottom of the funnel because that’s closer to the purchase decision style content. Okay. Russ, in terms of content creation versus promotion, Neil Patel often says, you know, you spend, if you spend 20% of your time creating content, then you should spend 80% of your time promoting it. Would you agree with that?

Russ Henneberry: 23:20

Yeah. I mean I become much less interested in producing a lot of new material and much more interested in finding new audiences for material that I know is working. So one of the things that’s changed a lot, you know, we talked about, you know, when I got started in this business, the general, and it was true, is that volume was an, it was a, it was important, right? You needed, you needed to put, be producing a mass volume of content, especially if you wanted to, to get a lot of search traffic. Today what I’m looking for is the next hook that’s going to win to my audience. So what I talk about a lot is putting as many hooks out in the water as you possibly can use whatever you’re most comfortable with producing. So let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re somebody that likes audio, right?

Russ Henneberry: 24:18

Audio is an easy way for you to produce content. Go ahead and produce audio and put out a lot of hooks, right? So and what I mean by a hook is what topic and it’s not just the topic, but the way you described that topic is going to hit with your audience and if it does hit, you’ll see it, right? You will see it because you’re going to get five times the downloads on that podcast episode or you’re going to get, you know, 3X the open rate on that email that you used that hook in the subject line or that blog post is going to get shared more often and you want to be watching it almost using your analytics as a little bell. That will go off when you say, Whoa, right there. That piece right there, that’s a hook that is working with the audience and once I find my next big hook, I’m going to go and wear that thing out to a lot of different audiences.

Russ Henneberry: 25:16

I’m going to buy traffic to it and then I’m going to also repurpose it. So I’m going to turn it into a webinar. I’m going to turn that, I’ll take that podcast up. So use the same hook and turn it into a webinar. I’ll turn it into a stage presentation. I’ll turn it into a blog post. I’ll turn it into a lead magnet. I’ll turn it into a lot of different things. And you know, it won’t always work as well. But typically when you find a good hook, so I’ll give you a really great example. From my time at digital marketer, we had a hook for a piece of content that we produced called the $10 a day traffic plan. Okay? So it was something that we produced with Molly Pittman and we went out there and we went to like six or seven different people that were buying traffic.

Russ Henneberry: 26:00

So media buyers, and we ask them, what would you do if you only had $10 a day to buy traffic? How would you spend it? And each one of these people gave us a different answer. So we went to like Ralph Burns and Justin Brooke and Keith Krantz and all these other experts, right? Ryan Moran, like all these people. And we had the, everybody gave us a different answer. A really good piece. Yeah. But the hook itself at the $10 a day on traffic, it’s a hook, right? It’s a, it’s a spin on a topic that gets written up. You know, we write about it every day. We’d write about traffic and buying traffic, but the hook of $10 a day really, really resonated with the audience. And so we said, wow man, that did 10 times better than anything we’ve run in the last three months. So again, we ran it out as a webinar.

Russ Henneberry: 26:49

We turned it into an information product. We did it as a stage presentation. Like, you know, each one goes into more depth, right? Like the information, the product was really in-depth. Here’s how to run a $10 a day traffic plan. The stage presentation was 45 minutes. The webinars, 45 minutes, right? So what you’re looking for is not volume, right? Unless you’re a publisher and you really need to sort of, that’s kind of a yes or no question. Are you a publisher? Are you tech crunch? Are you Mashable? Are you New York times, right? Are you in the publishing business? And typically if you are, you’re selling advertising or subscriptions to your content as your revenue model. If you’re not doing that, if you’re not doing that, then forget the volume game, okay. Instead produce really, really incredible stuff. And then go out there and find new audiences to show it to.

Russ Henneberry: 27:46

And here’s the other thing is go back, go into your Google analytics right now and go and look at, you know, the last six months on your website and take a look, uh, go into your podcast stats, go into your webinars. If you do regular webinars, wherever you’re producing content, and you’re throwing hooks out, and look at the stuff that you’ve produced over the last six months of age, five winners, there’s gotta be two or three winners in there and run those back out again. Okay? So instead of producing another podcast episode, if your episode with John Morrow just literally crushed, go out there and run it again. Like people, people don’t understand this, but, and I did it for a long time. I was like, well, you can’t run something again. A blog post goes out, it gets what it gets and then it’s done.

Russ Henneberry: 28:38

That’s it. The life of it, it’s over, but the fact is you want to be treating your content much more of the way Wikipedia treats its website and its content. Do you want to be continuously updating the same pages on your website by making it better, making it more relevant, making it more timely, and then go out there and re-energize it and throw more traffic at it because it’s what’s winning, right? That you know, you’d be much better off today to go back and look for something that won last year and rerun it right, updated a little bit and rerun it. Yes. Then you would be to sit down and produce another piece today because you might swing and miss with that piece. I can promise you that audience, they responded to that thing a year ago. They’ll respond to it again.

Ash Roy: 29:24

Okay. A couple of questions. When you say the words, run it again. What does that mean? And Darren Rouse, who’s also been on this podcast actually talks about this specific thing. He wrote an excellent blog post about this. He’s the founder of pro blogger and he wrote us about how to go back and update your, one of those ideas is you changed the headline to the current year, but then you make sure the content is consistent with the promise the headline makes. So you actually go through and update the content to make it relevant for 2019 so I get that part. But when you say run it again, what does that mean?

Russ Henneberry: 30:00

Well, so let’s talk about this as it applies to SEO because it is an important part of SEO. You know, one of the problems that Google is dealing with right now is that there’s a tremendous amount of dead, what I call dead timber on the web. So everybody that’s listening to this has probably got a website or 10 that is dead and is no longer being updated, but it’s still online. You’ve probably got parts of your website that I call the back room where you throw all the clutter when somebody comes over to your house, right? It’s the room. You don’t want anybody to open the door and go into when they’re over at your house because you through all the crap back in there, right before they came over. These are the pages that are on your site that you don’t want anybody to really find, but you don’t know what to do with them.

Russ Henneberry: 30:48

They still online and Google knows that there’s just a tremendous amount of the web that is this dead timber. Well, what they’re starting to do, and they’ve been doing for a couple of years now, more and more, is they’re starting to reward people that tend to the content that they already have online. Instead of just leaving these blog posts to wither and die and become outdated, links break, images break, all the stuff. You’re better off to go in there and do what I call the now with more process. So I call this process now with more. Okay. So rather than, because you know, marketing was all about words and how you position things. One way you could go out to your audiences, you could say, Hey, I ran this, this post last year. Yeah, it was good. So I’m running it again. I’m gonna, I want you to go read it again.

Russ Henneberry: 31:36

So I’m dustin off an oldie but a goodie. That’s not a real compelling way to get people to go and experience your content. Instead, which you want to do is you want to say, Hey, this was one of my best pieces and now it has more, right? I added an infographic or I added a couple of videos, or I added a whole section on X or Y or Z, or I update it for, you know, what you’re going to need as we head into 20, 20, or you know, whatever it is. But you want to, you want that to be communicated when you go out to promote it. You want to be saying now with more, right. So it’s like, you know, and you see this a lot of times with food items or you know, it’s like, Hey, like you love Oreos and now they have more, there’s more stuff inside of them.

Russ Henneberry: 32:22

Or there’s more. So the whole now with more process. And what I mean when I say promote is, I mean, you know, you should have a process in place when you produce a piece of content, especially at the top of the funnel, a blog posts on podcasts, a video, whatever it is, you have a process where you go out and you and you promote that to the audience, whether it’s your email list, your social channels, right? You’re going to buy some traffic to it. I encourage you to go back, find a winner from the last 12 months, 24 months, apply on now with more process to it, add stuff to it, make adjustments to it, make it better. And then go out there and run it out to your email list, your social channels by some traffic to it. And what you’ll see is you’ll see that post will get a spike of traffic.

Russ Henneberry: 33:06

Of course, right? You sent some email traffic guy that you bought bots and trafficking, but if you look at your SEO traffic to that page, it will return back down to a new normal and it will be higher typically than it was before. And it’s because you’re treating your site more like Wikipedia, right? So Wikipedia published the very first Abraham Lincoln page back in 1998 that page had about 200 words on it about Abraham Lincoln. All right. Today that page has gone through tens of thousands of iterations and improvements. Today that page has about 15,000 words on it. It has about a hundred pictures of Abraham Lincoln and other types of things. It’s got a table in there about the time he was in and who is secretary of war was or whatever, right? And so that same page on that Wikipedia site has been updated and updated and updated. It’s become better and better and better.

Russ Henneberry: 34:04

So rather than writing a new Abraham Lincoln page and re-publishing on some other URL, they’re just going to continue to update that same thing. And that’s what I encourage people to be doing today. If you’re not a publisher. And even if you are that you can apply some of this, but if you’re not a publisher, go and look for a page that’s doing, I call it close but no cigar, right? So it’s, it’s not getting a ton of traffic from search, but it’s getting some right and you, and if you’re fancy, you can go into Google search console and you can actually see the average position of a page and how close it is to get good traffic. Pick a page that’s getting, you know, some exposure to Google but not a lot. And add that now with more process to it and then go and re-energize that page with traffic by traffic.

Russ Henneberry: 34:56

You know, even if it’s just 10 bucks, buy some traffic to it. Use the boost post button on Facebook and buy some traffic to it. Send it out to your email list, put it out to your organic social channels, get traffic to it and then repeat. Right? Right. And you can make this your entire content strategy at the top of the funnel. For 2020 is I’m not gonna write anything new. I’m not gonna create anything new. I’m just going to find what worked last year. I’m going to improve it and I’m going to put it back out there.

Ash Roy: 35:24

So what I’ve been doing lately is I’ve been producing fewer podcast episodes, but I’ve been trying to make every single one of them a big hitter and I’m trying to produce concentrated high-quality content. So I love what you’re saying right now in terms of repurposing, I’m trying to create transcriptions. They’re not perfect because they’re done by AI. But I don’t think they have to be perfect as long as they’ve got reasonably good subheads and I try and use those transcriptions to turn it into some kind of a useful lead magnet for my users. But man, I’m loving this now with more strategy. I want to know more about it and I’m going to come back to that in a second. So more tips I have for our listeners though. What you can also do in terms of SEO and in terms of cleaning out the crap from your website and cleaning house is you can go back to your old blog posts and link forward to other blog posts or podcast episodes that may be relevant through the old blog posts because yeah, sure.

Ash Roy: 36:30

When we produce a blog post or a podcast episode, we link back to other episodes that might be relevant. I’ve mentioned like 10 of them or something in this episode. So we’ll probably end up linking to a bunch of them, you know, retrospectively. But we can go back to those episodes and look forward to this one as well once it’s published. And this business of linking internally is important as long as it’s done in a way that improves the user experience. So that is definitely something to think about as well. But man, I’m loving this cleaning house and removing the dead timber. So tell me, how do our listeners find this now with more solutions on modern publishers? Is it on there?

Russ Henneberry: 37:13

So I’ll be rolling out a course on content marketing fairly soon, but I don’t have right now like a course on the now with more process. I’ve talked about it on stages several times and if you’re a member of and the whole process is outlined in there as well.

Ash Roy: 37:33

Okay. So they can go to digital marketer and look for content marketing execution plan?

Russ Henneberry: 37:40

Yes. So if you join digital marketers lab program, there’s a, there’s an execution plan in there called content engine and a, it’s a course that I produced years ago, but I’ve continued to update with, you know, what’s working now with content marketing. Very tactical.

Ash Roy: 37:58

What are your plans for producing something similar on your website?

Russ Henneberry: 38:04

well, I’m getting a lot of requests from people to produce a course, a super tactical course on content marketing that’s in the product roadmap for sure. Definitely interested in producing that. I’ve got some new things to add as well. So

Ash Roy: 38:20

what are the biggest challenges Russ that you’ve seen people face when it comes to getting started with full-funnel content marketing or improving their content cleaning house? And what’s the best and easiest way to overcome those challenges?

Russ Henneberry: 38:35

Well, as I said, I think, you know what most of us think of as content marketing, we think of as at the top of the funnel. You know, we start to think, okay, if I’m going to do this content marketing thing, I’ve got to commit a ton of time and a ton of energy to it. And if I do that, I’m going to take my eye off the ball. You know, I’ve got a business run, I don’t have enough employees. All of those kinds of things. And what I’m here to tell you is that you know, if you’re not a publisher, once again, you know, we’ve qualified that you don’t need to be writing a blog post a week. You know, you need to back off from, take that pressure off, produce you know, one thing a month when I call it is that you want to improve your batting average with these pieces.

Russ Henneberry: 39:21

I don’t know if the, in cricket they use the word batting average, but okay, well and baseball up here in States we used to certain batting average. And what we’re looking to do is we’re looking to create or like to, they get the maximum ROI out of the energy and the time that we spend on our content marketing. So if you’re going to produce a blog post or if you’re going to produce a lead magnet or if you’re going to produce, you know, whatever it is, you need to make sure you’ve gone through a few steps. One is that you know, the piece that you’re gonna produce is going to affect some business goal that you have. If your goal is subscription. In other words, you need more leads. Don’t go and spend your energy on producing a blog post instead, go and produce a really killer lead magnet or a really killer webinar, right?

Russ Henneberry: 40:06

So webinars are another really great way to generate leads. So you want to make sure that the vehicle that you’re using is going to affect the business goal that you want it to effect. And then the second thing is you want to create a piece of content that’s going to attract the ideal customers. So often I see people produce content that just kind of throwing spaghetti against the wall, trying to make sure, trying to see if something will stick. But you know, you want to ask yourself a few questions before you go and actually produce a piece of content. Things like what would my prospect be researching before they would go and purchase my product? Yeah. What problems are they looking to solve before? And this is important that before. So if I sell mountain bikes, you know, my prospect is going to be looking for things like, you know, they might be Googling things like mountain biking equipment or you know, mountain biking.

Russ Henneberry: 41:08

They might be looking for whether or not there are any mountain biking paths in the area before they go. And they spend all this money to become a mountain biker. They might want to research the trails. And the paths and all of that kind of stuff. Yes. Things I’m thinking about, I’m researching and I’m trying to solve before I go and spend that money.

Ash Roy: 41:27

It comes back to that searcher intent thing and Rand Fishkin was talking about.

Russ Henneberry: 41:32

The intent is the most important word in content marketing is intent, right? If you can determine the intent and it starts with knowing your customer, right? It starts with understanding what their problems and goals and values and all of those things are. If you can understand that, then you can start to say, okay, well what? What kinds of things are they looking for? What kinds of things are they searching for?

Russ Henneberry: 41:53

What kinds of things can I either produce and try to get them out there via SEO or you know what? I’ll go out there and buy the traffic, right? The key is, you know, people are always thinking like I wouldn’t buy traffic to a blog post or a podcast or any of those things, but we do it all the time. And the reason is that I know I’ve produced a piece of content that will attract the exact person that I’m looking to attract. Yes. And it is going to overcome, maybe overcome some objections. It’s going to build authority for me, it’s going to build value. So yeah, we buy traffic to content, just pure content all the time. But we need to make sure that it’s a piece of content that’s going to fit in with the flow towards, you know, what it is we’re ultimately selling.

Ash Roy: 42:42

Man, this has been so informative. I’m just going to do a quick roundup and then talk about action steps. This is my favorite part, so feel free to jump in at the end and tell me if there’s anything I’ve missed out on and you’d like to add anything. So we’ve talked about full-funnel content marketing. We talked about the awareness piece at the subscription piece and then the purchase decision piece. We talked about the importance of being compliant with general data protection regulation requirements and basically having a clean list and being very permission focused, asking your audience what they want to hear about from you and then trying to only send them that information and that can be achieved using an intelligent tagging strategy, which we touched on in episode 177 of this podcast. Bobby Clink talked about the GDPR regulations who can learn a bit more about that in that episode.

Ash Roy: 43:33

I like what you said is if your goal is sales, then don’t start a blog and do the top of funnel content. So I like how you reframe things. You’re talking about thinking in terms of full-funnel content marketing and that there are different aspects to the funnel. Decide on what your objective is, think about your searcher intent in terms of where their surgeries on their journey, and then create content for that. So if a searcher is close to a purchase decision, the intent is going to be around purchasing and their content. They may be searching forward more likely to be comparison type stuff as opposed to should I or should I not do this thing kind of content. You also talked about cleaning house, so there’s a whole lot of rubbish most of us have on our websites. Go back into your past content, updated, clean out the trash.

Ash Roy: 44:22

Because Google is looking behind that closed door that you’d think no one is looking behind and Google wants you to have a clean house. Things have changed. Volume is not the only play anymore. Volume is important, sure, but it’s good quality content and you’re better off having less high-quality content than a whole ton of rubbish. So try and clean up the internet, do your bit and make the internet environmentally friendly. The other thing I liked that you said that’s actionable is go back to your Google analytics. Look at what’s been happening in the last six months, which pieces of content are performing well and think about how you can optimize it or updated and how you can perhaps use it to serve your audience better. Maybe your audience is ready to purchase now and you produce that content a year ago and it was more top of funnel content.

Ash Roy: 45:19

Maybe you want to reframe it around the purchase bottom of funnel type content. So that’s an important thing. And the other important thing I liked was if you are not a publisher, in other words, if you’re not the verge or New York times, then you don’t have to publish every second minute. Publish stuff but make it good quality and then focus on amplifying your content, figure out how to create hooks that help your content, get to the right people. So use Facebook targeting and Facebook remarketing to your advantage. I did a great episode with Keith Krantz and another one, Ralph Burns, where we talked about these things. Anything you’d like to add to that, Russ?

Russ Henneberry: 46:00

Yeah, so two things. One, when you go into this clean house exercise, don’t go out there and just delete pages off of your website. Google will not like it if you just go in there and start deleting pages. So if you don’t know what you’re doing with that consultant SEO professional about it, but you want to be doing, you want to be redirecting anything that you’re going to remove from your site, you want to make sure that it’s redirected so that when Google comes in there to access it because it’s been there for eons, right? Yeah. That they get redirected somewhere instead of sent to a 404 page. They won’t like that. And then the second thing is when we talked about full-funnel content marketing, that fourth stage was something that you didn’t mention, which is content that reduces churn content that increases cross-sell.

Russ Henneberry: 46:47

You know, and I don’t need another project, Ash, you know that. But if I was going to start an agency today, a content marketing agency, I would start an agency that does nothing but produces post-purchase content. It’s the easiest content. You take existing businesses that have a strong business, they are very, very interested in retaining the customers that they have or supporting customers after the purchase. You know, whether it’s somebody selling software or vacuum cleaners or whatever it is, producing content that makes their customers successful with the product that they’ve already bought, right? That kind of content is unsexy.

Ash Roy: 47:30

Okay? It’s not the big lead magnet that gets all the leads. It’s not the, it’s not the killer blog posts that went viral. What it its money in the bank. What you’d be working with, if you know, very strong businesses understand that retaining the customers they have in selling more and more often to the customers they have is where it’s at. And content marketing is the perfect way to support the customers they already have. So whether that’s support articles or videos that show people how to do interesting things with your product or how to have more success with your product, that stuff is very, very powerful. And something that, whether you have clients or whether you’re looking at your own site, take a good look at that as, a strategy because there’s just nothing but pure money there. So let me ask you this. I recently launched a membership site, which by the way, you can access that, I’m accepting founding members at a very discounted price right now. How do I use this post-purchase content strategy to deliver more value to my existing members?

Russ Henneberry: 48:39

So what I was using a lot when I was with DM and we have huge members subside called digital marketer lab, which we’ve mentioned a couple of times. Yeah. You know, producing content that supports the existing information products that I already have and giving that away out external for free. And what I would do is I would take about midway through an article about let’s say the articles about landing pages and landing page optimization or something like that. But midway through the article, I would say if you’re a member of digital marketer lab, you can get all the information, more information about landing pages in this information product you already have access to it, click here and go across. If you’re not a member of digital marketer lab, you can click here and learn more about this new market lab, right? So what these pieces of content were doing was it was adding value, right?

Russ Henneberry: 49:30

So it’s adding value to people whether you are a customer of digital marketer or not. But I was also saying I was adding more value to people that were already a member of digital marketer lab by saying, Hey, did you know there’s more information about this in the premium level of digital marketer? You know, and you’re doing that here, right? You’re doing it. He literally did the exact same thing a minute ago. You said I’ve got this membership. If you want more about this topic,, if you’re a member of you can go get more information out of this, this piece of content that’s in the members’ area or this training that I did on X or Y or Z. But if you’re not, go check it out cause it’s pretty cool. So what you’re doing there is you’re supporting the existing people that are already paying you, with content.

Russ Henneberry: 50:17

But I’ll tell you where, I mean, where this really is crazy, incredibly powerful is in the software space. In the physical product space in the services space. Okay. So, so when people are selling software, for example, as I said, you could start an agency that would do nothing but produce support articles that would live freely out on the web that people could find through Google search and other means that would just retain customers. Right. And by the way, that kind of support material also acquires customers because I don’t know about you, but before I buy software I go and I see how well laid out there. Their support material is. Yes, absolutely. And I’m checking features before I buy and I’m trying to figure out like, you know, how good are their support and all of that kind of stuff. And then with physical products, like I bought a, we literally just got a new dishwasher.

Russ Henneberry: 51:11

My dishwasher went and crapped out on us. So we bought a new dishwasher and it came in was this new fangled thing, right? Well, you know, they install it for us and then they left and I was like, wow, look at all the features on this thing. So I ended up over on Google, you know, looking up how to use this and how to use that with this new dishwasher. That is all stuff, all of those pieces. I was finding these videos where they were showing me how to use this and how to use that and they just support articles. All of that stuff makes me a happier customer, more likely to buy from this company again and more likely to refer. So literally post-purchase content marketing is, it’s the lowest of low hanging fruit. If you have an existing business or your clients already have a lot of business, don’t you know, unless that’s what they want, don’t start with the blog necessarily. Ask them like how awesome would it be if I could make your customers buy more frequently or refer more frequently or you know, not cancel their membership or subscription by producing these hundred and 50 different pieces for you.

Ash Roy: 52:23

Absolutely man. I mean in memberships, I’ve run the numbers on this, you know, retention is as important if not more important than acquisition. And when I did my MBA was like, what, five to nine times more expensive to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. And I don’t even think that particular statistic was talking about memberships.
Russ Henneberry: 52:44 So here’s an incredible book that I just read. The automatic customer.

Ash Roy: 52:48

Yes, John Warrillow

Russ Henneberry: 52:50

Required reading for this for these days in a business where everybody’s moving to this subscription model, right? Where we’re looking to get recurring revenue and this conversation around content marketing that supports subscription and recurring payment and you know, selling more and more often to the customers you already have. If you’re interested in all of that, I would check out that book. It’s a very very tactical read.

Ash Roy: 53:17

Russ, how do people find out more about modern publisher? Can you give us a little bit of a feel for who modern publisher and how they help them?

Russ Henneberry: 53:28

So a modern publisher, my, my background is in building information products and selling information products. So I’ve built dozens of courses that have sold for millions and millions of dollars. And modern publisher is my portal. Just like you have a, where I sell training on how to, how to get into this business, you know, and how to be successful as an information marketer, right? So you’re an information marketer. Tony Robbins is an information marketer, Marie Forleo, Oprah Winfrey, like a lot of the people that we don’t realize we’re actually info businesses, right? They sell not, they don’t sell markers and stuff like that and they don’t sell services. They sell us between their ears. And I love that as a business model, I’ve been successful in it and me, I teach people how to get into that business, how to build online courses, how to build an email list, how to run a good webinar or how to, so that kind of stuff.

Russ Henneberry: 54:28

And so anybody that’s either already are looking to get into the info business, you know, selling courses, selling events, selling books, selling, all that kind of stuff. Anybody that wants to sell this, what’s between their ears? I’d love to have you as a member over at and you can get, go over to there’s a link, a few links on there to something that I call the business growth canvas. You can get jumped on my email list. I sent a couple of emails a week that are filled with content. I also sell things, so expect that I will tell you about my products as well. But as I give a ton of value over there, I love talking about this stuff. But if you’re in this awesome information age business or want to be, go over there and opt and get to business growth canvas and a lot to talk to you.

Ash Roy: 55:17

Cool. Well, man, it was really awesome having you on the show and you know what? I think we need to have another conversation sometime about now with more approaches. I really like it. I think we could do a whole episode on it.

Russ Henneberry: 55:31

Oh, we could do a whole episode on, on very, very tactical ways to build compelling content that doesn’t take forever to put together. That would be a cool episode. I am impressed not only with your interview style cause you’re fantastic. But you remember all these episode numbers. Anybody else like floored by is like episode 172 I did this episode 18 it was that. And you know,

Ash Roy: 55:54

yeah, a lot of people say that. I don’t know how, I don’t actually have a photographic memory or anything, but I just remember them. Maybe I feel so passionately about them and that’s why I remember them. It’s a fantastic way to cross-promote content and to be able to be relevant but still give people the option of going back and listening to other episodes if they’re actually getting value out of this episode, you know, they’ll know, Oh okay next I’ll listen to that. And I’m finding that it really helps to develop a deeper relationship with my customer, or my listener. And that then is obviously more likely to turn into a customer relationship where they join my membership at

Russ Henneberry: 56:37

I mean it’s the same principle just like it’s, it’s easier to sell more and more often the customers you already have, it’s easier to get somebody to listen to a second podcast episode or third podcast episode if they’re listening to this one. Yes. So yeah, I mean what you gotta do is in today’s day and age to be thinking less about how do I go out and get more and more and more and more stuffed into the top of the funnel and start looking at the people that are already giving you the attention already giving you money and seeing what you can do to help them more. Right. How can you give them more value and you’re doing a fantastic job. You’re just totally living it. By cross-linking throughout your episodes.

Ash Roy: 57:14

That is the biggest takeaway for me from this episode and that is don’t try and get a broader reach. Try and get a deeper reach and deeper connection with your content. Content is about deepening your relationship with your existing customers, your existing audience or existing listeners. So thanks so much for being on the show, Russ and man, we’ve got to tee up another one of these.

Russ Henneberry: 57:37

I enjoyed it a lot too. Thanks for having me on.


Ash Roy

Ash Roy has spent over 15 years working in the corporate world as a financial and strategic analyst and advisor to large multinational banks and telecommunications companies. He suffered through a CPA in 1997 and completed it despite not liking it at all because he believed it was a valuable skill to have. He sacrificed his personality in the process. In 2004 he finished his MBA (Masters In Business Administration) from the Australian Graduate School of Management and loved it! He scored a distinction (average) and got his personality back too!