Today I would like to introduce my friend Andreas Ramos. Recently I interviewed him regarding his book Content Marketing Strategy and Tactics. But before moving forward let me introduce Andreas. He is an online marketer when Netscape was the primary web browser used by people, when no body was even aware of what is Google . He is the guy who designed PPC campaign for MIT OpenCourseWare, he was the SEO and Analytics strategist for Stanford. In addition to this he has also authored 6 books about the web and digital marketing.
Below is the transcript of interview with Andreas.
Me: Hi! How are you Andreas?
Andreas: I’m fine. What about you?just working on my book which will be released in April.
Me:I’m fine Let’s start our interview .What do you think about Content Marketing as a new tool of Marketing?
Andreas: Content marketing is an entirely new thing. Some people are just using content marketing to create and post lots of content. That’s not different from spam.
Proper content marketing goes far beyond “just post lots of content.” Web 1.0 introduced low cost distribution. You can post an article and over a billion people can (in theory) see it, for practically free. That literally kills tradition media because they can’t compete with free distribution.
Web 1.0 also brought us search engines, web analytics, and pay-per-click. That means tracking and metrics.
Web 2.0 added AJAX and social media, which allows interaction. Suddenly, your audience can talk with you and with each other. Traditional media never had that.
Now tie all of this together. You can create and distribute all kinds of media: text, photos, illustrations, video, and voice, for free. Your target audience can find it, share it with each other, and discuss it. You can track all of the activity. That’s content marketing.
Me: You have been involved with Internet for two decades and as one of the persons who has watched Dot Com crash very closely how would you define the social media boom(or coming crash) of our time. Of course there are some companies who will survive in the long term. But practically it’s not possible to have ten Facebook-like social media companies that each have a billion members when the population of our planet is only six billion. What’s your take on these new social media companies which are popping out almost every day? I don’t want to sound cynical but when companies without a tested business model, revenue, or profits are able to secure millions of dollars in funding just because they say they have a wonderful idea to change the business landscape, I think it’s time to worry.
Andreas: I lived through the dotcom boom, when there were startup launch parties nearly every night, and the crash, where over a hundred thousand people in Silicon Valley lost everything. I became very cynical about venture capital and startups.
In the dotcom boom, there were many real companies with good ideas and honest teams who were building sustainable companies. But there were also hundreds of billions of dollars, which attracted every shark, scoundrel, and swindler. It was easy to fake the traffic, hits, and eyeballs, so they posted charts of hockey stick growth curves, which were certified by $50,000 payoffs to Wall Street analysts. IPOs were massive swindles of the small investors. Everything crashed because the fantasy had to end.
It’s happening all over with some of the social media companies. Some of these are run by honest people who really believe what they are doing and have good intentions. But other social media companies are based on fake members and fake traffic. It’s easy to create 100 million members with fake profiles, photos, interests, backgrounds, and so on. Investors put in a million, pump up the valuation, and sell it to the next round of investors for $20 million, even with companies with no revenues or even a way to make money. Some of these investors have turned $4 million into $70 million. Social media will crash and the workers and investors will lose their stock.
Social media is nice. It’s fun. It’s a great to stay in touch with your friends. But it doesn’t make money.
Me: There is a question which we frequently hear from CEOs, CMOs and management of businesses, it’s about the ROI of social media and content marketing. What do you think are the best metrics to measure social media and Content Marketing ROI? Or is there any way we can measure ROI from web marketing because many people believe that it’s quite difficult if not impossible to measure ROI of SEO and Content Marketing.
Andreas: The first thing to do is to turn the question around. It’s not a matter of measuring the ROI of social. The real issue is to know the company’s business goal. That’s what matters to the CEO, the CFO, the board, and the investors. For them, it’s a simple goal, such as “increase revenues by 15% by December 31st. If they reach their goal, they get a bonus. If not, they get to spend more time with their family J
So what’s the ROI of social? The task is to align social with the company’s business goal. If the CEO has to increase revenue by 15% by December 31st, then how can social support that goal? If you can come up with tactics to do that, then you can measure it and get a bonus. But if you can’t support the goal, then frankly, it’s just a cheerleader at a game: it’s nice but it has no impact. That’s the problem with social: engagement, likes, sentiment, and so on don’t have a direct impact on the bottom line or top line.
SEO and content marketing on the other hand can be measured in terms on leads, sales, and revenue. You can use web analytics to tag the pages, track the visitors, and show how many sales and revenues it produced.
Me: As we are aware soon you are going to publish a book on Content Marketing Strategy. If you’d like to share some advice with our readers on Content Marketing tactics then please share and also tell us what your book is about.
I worked quite a bit with Fortune 500 companies, so I write about this with the goal of it being used by those companies. There are examples of corporate-quality brand guidelines, creative briefs, editorial calendars, and so on, plus how to use all of these.
I show how content marketing fits into the general business context of business goals, metrics, and KPIs (key performance indicators) such as cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale.
I’ve also included “the little guys,” strategy and tactics for the mom-and-pop businesses. Many of my friends run small companies or they have family who have small companies. They need something they can use. I’m also on the advisory board for five Silicon Valley startups, so I’ve included strategies for what we call “pre-seed stealth startups,” which is the technical name for two women and a cat in a Palo Alto garage trying to build a company J (and yes, friends of mine are doing that.)
Me:As we have seen last year many top ranking sites were hit by Panda and Penguin updates. Google has this time disrupted the whole business of many content based websites such as Hubpages, eZine etc. Even now almost a year has passed but even the genuine sites haven’t recovered fully from the effects of Panda and Penguin. How do you think Content Marketing has changed after these updates and the future algorithm updates which Google has announced
Andreas: Web 2.0 is the death of Google. During Web 1.0, people built lots of websites. How many? Oh, 175 million or so, with perhaps 1,500 billion pages. So we needed a way to find stuff. Voila, search engines! That’s why Google exists. Because there are lots of pages.
But Web 2.0 killed that. How many pages are there? You can count them on the fingers of one hand: Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, Youtube… what else? That’s it.
Google has 7,500 engineers who work on search engine. Facebook has… twelve. That’s it. Twelve. Why? Because search doesn’t matter to Facebook. If you and me and Laura and Wendy are good friends and we all work in (say) aeronautics and Wendy finds a good app to measure fluid mechanics, then she’ll tell us about it. We don’t need no stinking search engine. Friends share stuff with friends. You don’t need a search engine to find out what music your friends are listening to. Social doesn’t need search.
It turns out that some of the stuff Google does isn’t good for you. For example, Google bans copycat pages. There can be only one official version of that article that you wrote about your new farm tool for artichoke harvesting. If you post ten copies, Google ignores nine of them. Spammers can’t copy your article and put it on 100 sites. Google blocks those copies too.
That’s great for Google… but bad for you. Why? You want all the artichoke farmers all over the world to see your article. It’s best for you if your article is posted to the 300,000 artichoke websites. But Google blocks that.
So you should do two things: make your article “SEO-compliant” so Google can find it, index it, and that one original version for the people who search on Google. At the same time, go around Google’s back and distribute your articles to as many sites as you can. The more distribution, the more your audience will see it, and the more artichoke farm tools you’ll sell.
Me: I believe that we are in a content race where companies are trying to build a presence on every content sharing platform such as Slideshare, Pinterest, Linkedin, Facebook etc. And most content marketers are advising to create more and more content. Do you really think that it’s practical to be present on every social media site or just creating more content is the answer. As I believe that very few people are focusing on quality the main thing people especially marketers have in mind is to create as much content as possible. So where do you think content marketers must focus on quality or quantity. Please share your thoughts on this issue.
Andreas: Yes, this is huge problem and you stated it precisely: quantity vs. quality. The difficult thing is that you must do both.
As for quantity, you have to be on many websites, forums, and social sites. You have to be on all devices, incl. desktop, tablet, mobile, wifi-enabled dishwashers, and whatever crazy new thing will come out of Shanghai next week. And you have to be in all formats: PDF, Powerpoint, ebooks, video, podcast, infographics, photographs, and many more. And more formats come out every other week. It’s obvious you either keep up or fall behind. I talk with US$30 billion companies and they can’t keep up. I’m the SEO advisor to a leading global university and they’re trying to figure out what to do.
As for quality, you must maintain high standards. If you release junk content, it will damage your brand. Once you’re released it on the web, it’s out there forever.
What to do? Hire people who are fanatic about staying in front of the wave. Give them the tools and get the hell out of their way. It’s amazing how much noise those people can stir up. At the same time, have clear business goals, write a good brand guideline, and set up a robust metrics system. That gives you the structure to grow very explosively.
Me: Thanks for your time Andreas. Hope we will see you again soon. Any message for our readers?
Andreas Ramos: If your readers are interested in getting my book then they can sign up at my site www. andreas.com/content-marketing/.The book comes out April 15th. Visit my site and join the mailing list. I’ll send a free copy to the first 1,000.
Palo Alto, March 17, 2013
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