A couple months ago, the Kissmetrics blog suddenly disappeared.
Any time you clicked on one of their results in Google or any other place that pointed to their site, it would redirect you straight to Neil Patel’s site.
There was no formal announcement of the news ahead of time – just some commentary on twitter.
(Kissmetrics has since confirmed the sale to Neil on their twitter account)
My favorite mention of the news came from my friend John-Henry Scherck, who is the owner of Growth Plays, a consultancy helping B2B companies with their lead gen.
Here’s the tweet that John-Henry put out:
It’s been a week or two, but I’m still thinking about how @kissmetrics sold their blog to big deal neil. It makes me think a lot about the future of B2B content, the cost of content, and aligning marketing goals to content production.
— John-Henry Scherck (@JHTScherck) July 13, 2018
So I asked him to come on for an episode of Demand Gen Chat to dive deeper on what B2B companies can learn by looking at what happened to the Kissmetrics blog.
Check out our chat here (full transcript below):
Here’s how to connect with John-Henry:
Mentions from the episode:
- Nick Eubanks
- Ross Hudgens
- Siege Media’s blog
- Traffic Think Tank
- Scaling Content Gap Analysis with SEMrush
- Chaos Monkey
Emil Shour: Thanks for coming out. Appreciate it.
John-Henry: Thanks for having me.
Emil: So, we’re at the WeWork in Hollywood, a little cramped quarters, but we’re going to make do.
John-Henry: I like it.
Emil: You and I actually met, I think I followed you on twitter for a while. I think it was because I really liked your bio. It says the ARR is not my son, but I’ll raise it.
John-Henry: Yes sir.
Emil: Have you had that for a while?
John-Henry: I have. I really liked that one it’s stuck for a while.
Emil: It’s clever so I’m like alright I got to follow this guy.
And then you like posted something about your dog and I responded to that. Anyway, beautiful friendship formed and I found out you actually live in LA, which is so rare to find another B2B marketer living in LA.
Emil: There are so few of us here.
John-Henry: Yeah. It seems like, with like the people here, there’s a lot of folks into crypto in LA. And fashion, ecommerce, but just the B2B stuff and there’s like, six of us doing it.
Emil: I know.
Emil: Exactly. So, I knew I had to talk to you. Thanks again for joining.
I want to talk about a recent tweet you put out, that got a lot of traction. I loved it. You talk about how everyone’s really focused, for so long focused on creating content to really drive traffic.
And, you know what, I’m going to let you just take it over.
John-Henry: Yeah. Well I think just to give the tweet some context, what really set the tweet off, was a company called Kissmetrics recently sold all of their content to an online marketer named Neil Patel.
And as someone who’s done all the competitive analysis, so that’s really where the focus of a lot of work I start is, I look at the competitive landscape and kind of model it off of that.
Kissmetrics was in every competitive analysis for any Mar Tech company ever did. They wrote about everything under the sun and had a gigantic volume of content.
But if they sold all that content, probably tells you that the ROI just wasn’t there, and they publicly said as much on twitter. And that really kind of said to me, said like, the model of their content was outdated.
And writing on everything under the sun, sort of, like the SEO of yesteryear, where you were just creating anything to get traffic, get that email, get into the demand gen flow and surface them to a webinar, get them into a demo. I just don’t really think that’s going to work anymore.
Like, we were talking about this at lunch a few weeks ago, and said you can only demand, you can only hit people so many times with offers and emails, of they just don’t want the product, they don’t want the product.
So, I think really where B2B content is going, is on really deep focus about your core offering, its values, its benefits in the workflows that it supports and really sticking to your topic and owning it outright instead of trying to get a really big blanket of what I would call thinner content like a tips post, or like a really basic template or something like that and then just like hitting that one and done blog post.
Really creating entire libraries about singular ideas, whether it’s setting meetings or really any type of offering, really focusing on the library, to hit every type of question, every type of user intent and really mapping that to the purchase process or the buyer’s journey. That’s where I think content is going in.
It used to really just be about grabbing email. But I think because people do so much research online, that if we’re not at every step of the conversation, we’re going to get left out and we’re going to go a third party and start looking at different reviews, getting different ideas of what they need out of a product.
So, really being present for every step of the purchase journey, ensures that you are able to influence prospects to buying a way that supports your product or to align their purchase priorities around like your offering.
So I think like the get a lot links, a lot of page views that don’t necessarily generate demos that have high bounce rates. I think that’s going to be less of a priority but yeah, that’s where I see it’s kind of, a little bit of a ramble, but…
Emil: No that’s good.
You know what I think does this really, really well is ahrefs, you know, they create content and they talk like literally within a post right they’re talking about SEO.
They talk about how their tool helps SEO’s do SEO better. I love that. Do you have any other like examples of people who are doing this really well?
John-Henry: You know, I think Drift really owns the term of conversational marketing.
They do that extremely well.
Intercom writes entire books about the topics that they trying to own.
Emil: Right. Like anything around messaging and consumer facing stuff.
John-Henry: Also, just to give a shout out to a company called Teachable. They are an e-learning platform they do online courses, extremely strong content. If you are trying to create an online course, or you have a question about online courses, they’ve mapped content to every single question, every single problem that someone who’s creating a course can have.
It’s really, it is really impressive to see. And now they rank through every sort of head term and the large topic around like online courses or what is an online course?
It’s like paid off in spades for them.
Emil: That’s awesome. So, why do you think so many people focus on, you and I were chatting about this before we started recording, why are so many people are just focused on like traffic as that metric for themselves when they’re focused on like SEO and content?
John-Henry: Yeah, I think it’s really a good question. I think, the analytics are difficult and especially when you have a really deep understanding of analytics, communicating the nuances between certain metrics and explaining visitor behavior and how people actually buy the product and multi-touch attribution is really complicated.
So to throw a traffic stat on the board is really easy. And like from every site that I’ve worked with, generally the 80/20 rule is 20% of the pages drive 80% of the demos.
So you don’t want to admit to the C-level that like, oh yeah, like out of all the content we created last quarter two of them drove revenue, the rest was essentially like email marketing fodder and like brand stuff.
So, it’s tough to really like, when you get down to brass tacks and like these 15 pages drive value, these thousand don’t, like that’s just not a position you want to be in. So just saying like, we drive this much traffic and the conversion rate is 3%, but really it’s like these five pages actually have an 8% conversion rate.
So, when you speak in generalities, it looks like everything you’re doing is creating value.
But it’s also a good way to sort of say like, hey, we are doing a lot of stuff over here then like don’t focus on like what’s happening with social or that the blog isn’t getting the engagement that we need, but we are still converting on these pages.
Emil: Are people going to know, you know, sometimes people will say, well, you know you got to put a lot of stuff out to know what’s hitting. And so it’s like, is that just people not doing their research ahead of time or is it just kind of what you have to do in the beginning and then you evolve?
John-Henry: That’s a good question. Part of it is doing it well. But I think like the teams that are really successful do a lot of different stuff, they don’t just pick route and execute.
So there are some teams that are like our growth strategy is content and I’ve heard that from like a lot of startups. Like we’re going to do inbound content and creating a self sign-up business and they have no traction in that space yet, but they want to do it because it’s an attractive business model and it really, I think you need to figure out how your customers want buy and that’s the better way to approach it.
Emil: Yeah. So, what’s like, can you explain your process about maybe how you do that when you’re helping businesses?
John-Henry: Yeah, I think the first place I look is I want to see which pages are getting traffic. Ahrefs is a great product for that. I also use SEMrush, they’re a bit bigger on the paid side. Generally when I’m first starting with the business, I look for paid acquisition as a primary channel first because it’s just an easier way to generate demos.
You know, with the content there’s generally a longer demand gen flow, but you can just throw up an ad and say like, do you want to see this product? And I’d much rather have people asking to see the product at lower conversion rate than opting in for an ebook.
So, that’s definitely where I start.
Emil: Plus in the early days, it’s like a lot of businesses aren’t maybe, their lead flow is low and you want to be talking to people coming in. Right?
You want to be talking to as many people as possible, seeing do you have the right messaging, do you even have the right product?
So like all that nurture stuff is good. But like when you start out with someone, right, your focus is how do we get leads in the door now so we can be having conversations and all that.
John-Henry: Yeah. And when, when it’s possible, and like, depending on what state they’re in, if it’s legal, recording those calls is a really valuable way of going about it because, the calls that come in from growth channels like PPC or like if you’re like running LinkedIn ads which I know you’re big on…
John-Henry: …they’re going to be really different than the brand driven leads that come in through the homepage.
They’re going to act differently and have different questions. So like understanding, like you may need to work with like the sales lead to figure out a different way in handling those and qualifying those people.
They may have totally different expectations than someone who’s coming in based off of like your brand’s visibility so far.
Emil: Right. Or like referrals and someone comes to the site, so like, you know, there’s that word of mouth, so they’re much more qualified usually.
John-Henry: So, making sure that these are good is definitely like where I want to start at once the paid leads start coming in.
But I’m a big fan of content gap analysis. So, tools like ahrefs and SEMrush, they spider Google and really can see all their rankings and then you can figure out based off of search volume and the position that they’re in, how much traffic each page is getting and you can sort of see which pages are driving a lot of traffic for all of your competitors.
There’s a post on my blog about scaling content gap analysis with SEMrush. If you want to do it, it’s really easy to throw everything into a pivot table and just see a streamlined view of sort of how your competitors get traffic.
Emil: A lot of the time your competitors have really done a lot of that heavy lifting for you, right? Like all these tools they show you what are their biggest hits.
John-Henry: Yeah. And it’s tough because if you were competing against Kissmetrics you might be saying like, oh, we should make wildly irrelevant content.
John-Henry: But it’s, I think if you pick the right competitors to model yourself off, you can see where there’s demand in the marketplace. I believe like the new stat, 50% of traffic to publishers is coming from Google.
I’m guessing it’s more for bigger B2B businesses. So, really understanding how you could get that high intent traffic. Social ads are great, Linkedin ads a great, but they interrupt people’s workflow whereas like matching that intent, figuring out what people want and giving them what they want to build trust I still think is my primary focus, whether it’s PPC or SEO, just matching that user intent is so strong.
So, figuring out how we can do that and then also really, I spend a lot of time reading and figuring out what other people have done and actually looking at content and figuring out how we can one-up what they’re doing. Because the days of like with SEO, creating essentially the same thing and then finding like random sites that you can build links to prop it up are coming to an end.
Things are getting much more topically relevant. Links need to be much more relevant. So really figuring out how you can create the best piece of content out there that answers the questions your users have and helps them accomplish their goals is really where I try and start is creating like larger kind of pieces of canonical content for an industry.
Emil: Okay. Let’s talk about that a little more. You have a really, really strong background in SEO. Like has it changed a lot in the last year? Or is it really just build really good content that matches user intent and build links?
Or is it like you need to have like the pillar piece with a bunch of other ones that work around it? Like what HubSpot talked about with the topic cluster.
John-Henry: I’ll say the data shows me, like I was in analytics earlier this morning and yesterday, the data shows me that the cluster pieces work in terms of engagement, just like having multiple smaller bite sized digestible pages to bounce around and self-educate as opposed to these like Monolithic blog post.
Emil: Right. Like 10,000 word that SEOs became obsessed because longer ranks better, right?
John-Henry: Yeah. I can’t read that stuff, but it’s like even if it has like the like the jump links and everything it’s just like I bookmark it, I don’t come back to it.
I want to be able to navigate something really quickly. I think that’s kind of core of the Internet. Like you skim it, like you skim the newspaper.
So those cluster pages that are like, we have these different sections they’re all organized by theme or by topic or benefit, and having that sort of the cluster, everything being really related topically, it seems that Google seems to respect that from the ones that I’ve built.
Emil: Versus, again, there’s the really long, I’m answering every single thing about a topic within this post and then the write 8,000-10,000 words.
John-Henry: Yeah, well I think what it was was people would take like, they go to ubersuggest or whatever and get like the longtail keywords and they try and write a post that like included every single variation.
And that’s not what people want.
Google’s looking more like what tasks do people want to accomplish as opposed to, you know I got into SEO like in 2008, 2009 and that was really just like looking for keywords on the page and matching that to keywords in the query.
And the more links you got from like blog comments and article marketing and other just like places that no human would spend their time on the Internet, the better you’d do in SEO. And now it’s really like what industry leaders are linking to you that are relevant, that speak about you. How detailed is this resource?
Google’s done a lot of work with AI and are leading the space in lot of ways, but they really are able to understand in a sensee what a concept is about or what topic is about and all of the related ideas and subtopics and similar concepts.
And if your content doesn’t include the core ideas of your industry of the topics you’re trying to own, like if you’re writing about Apple computers and neither mention Steve Jobs, or the iPhone pr the iPad, it’s probably not a great resource. And Google is able to compare your content to all the other similar content out there and you’ll say like, “Is this helpful? Is this complete?”
And we’re seeing that the more complete, bigger, better resources are winning out. Long-form content or like longer content still does well, but I’d say really it’s about covering everything and giving people what they want so they don’t jump right back to Google and have another similar search right after if they didn’t get the answers they were looking for.
Emil: Yeah, makes sense. We actually tested this back at my…
John-Henry: That’s your water, sorry.
Emil: …dude, enjoy.
We tested it previously, we wrote this huge post on healthy snacks back at my last gig, SnackNation. Drove a lot of links to that one, the pillar. And then we worked on a lot of the content around it, like healthy snacks with protein, healthy snacks on the go. All these things and link to it within that one. And because we own the topic and we had all these clusters, like all those cluster, longer tail ones just started ranking naturally without us having to do a bunch of link building.
Emil: We found like kind of similar. Links still matter. We all know in SEO links still matter. Is it when you have that strategy, is it about linking to the topic?
John-Henry: Well I think it’s really about, once it’s a rising tide raises all the ships kind of a scenario. So like if those cluster pagesget a lot of links that will flow back. One thing that I am seeing that I think is interesting is I find that Google ranks the hub page a lot more than like the sub pages.
Even when it would likely be more relevant to land on one of the sub pages. A lot of the times, it tends to just rank that main page because it looks like, it seems to be a better landing experience.
But yeah, I think that Google’s looking to do. Sort of like, if you look at bad sites like eHow, and like the Demand Media site a long time ago, where it was like you get one piece of information about like healthy ways to do X and then you get nothing else to go to and you just have to leave because the business was pageview generated revenue so they didn’t have a lot of incentive to keep you going and have you to dig deeper
So I think that’s sort of what Google doesn’t want to reward anymore. I think they’re looking for things that really take people from awareness to making a decision.
Emil: Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s a better place to be.
I want to talk, we’ve touched on briefly, but when you’re coming into work with a business, right, what are the channels that you look for to grow the business? There’s so many things you can focus on – SEO, PR, video like we’re creating, different content marketing.
Where do you come in and say, this is where we’re starting and here is where we’re going to expand to, like how do you evaluate all those?
John-Henry: Good question. I think that also really depends on the stage of the company. If they’re in an established category, and they are the new upstart and there is sizable search volume for their core offering, PPC is the first thing I’ll do. I will spin up an Instapage account and just create landing pages quickly, test headlines, test offers. The first thing we’ll go for is demos because that’s what we’re all here for.
If Demos don’t work, I’ll switch to product centered collateral like a buyer’s guide, or if the buyer’s guide is unavailable maybe it’s a self assessment so they can see all the weaknesses. If there’s no product-level interest and it’s sort of like a new category, you got to go for a white paper that explains the industry.
Those are tough, that starts being more about building an email list and you have to look at the cost per click on that to make sure it’s going to be worth it in the long run.
Emil: Right. And with those, do you go after like broader topics with a white paper?
Like again, you’re probably saying you’re using the white paper when there’s maybe like less people searching for like time tracking software, right? Like really specific, someone wants a solution, but if there’s not that kind of stuff, is that when you’re usually going with a white paper?
John-Henry: Yeah, I work with some companies that do, I’d say like some pretty new types of engineering with microservices and it’s just, people are in an educational state right now.
They’re not even solution aware.
So a lot of times with newer technology, specifically like server type backend server technology people are, they want to learn about it before they even hear about what types of offerings are on the market so they can understand if it’s something worth investigating.
That’s with one client right now. We are able to turn it into demos luckily, but you know, that’s sort of the top, top of the funnel and there’s, so I would work my way backwards from a paid perspective.
Then depending on the content, get a content calendar in place, you want to own the topics that you have. I would try and setup a regular cadence with writing and really plan out sort of 20, 30 pieces of content that will help establish like what we’re about, what we’re doing and what our focus is on.
It’ll take a while to see the results from that. So that’s why I want to start with paid, but really covering everything from an intent standpoint.
Hopefully once content is operating and you have freelance writers that are pumping out or if you have a content team, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to have those resources in house, I’d probably focus on then moving to like B2B ads like LinkedIn.
I know that you’re testing stuff with Quora, so the test has got to be…
Emil: The Quora stuff, dude. I stopped.
John-Henry: You stopped?
Emil: I know people are having success with it, but I don’t know, I’m having a tough time cracking that nut.
John-Henry: So, I’d move to ads where I could like target audience pretty well. LinkedIn has worked well for me in the past but that would be a sort of the demand gen front early on, like sort of the first 30 days. I would love to get PPC up and running first, SEO plan out the door and being executed, and then going to paid social ads to get sort of the mid-funnel targeting.
It’s tough to get demos out of Linkedin from what I’ve seen. I do know some people can do it but I have a feeling that I probably want to start more mid funnel just because of the nature of the channel.
Emil: Yeah, makes sense. I think that’s good. I love that. It’s really well balanced. It’s like all right let’s, let’s get PPC going and in the meantime we need to get content going because you know, usually that’s the cheapest channel and it’s going to take the longest amount of time. So like, let’s get that going while we’re focused on getting people in the door right now.
John-Henry: Yeah. And I think for me recently, content takes so long to do a content audit, so for my consultancy I’ve really taken a big focus on using AI to do a lot of the research and the planning and there’s a few companies out there doing some really interesting stuff. One is MarketMuse, they’re pretty impressively.
They have a lot of sort of the SEO logic built into the platform so it can read everything out there about your topic, kind of grade everything by search volume, show you what you need to create and then provide you with the directions to actually create that content, kind of scale of brief process.
Emil: Holy shit.
John-Henry: It’s cool. It’s a cool product. And then there’s other ones that, say like SEMrush has a really interesting topic modeling and content template. I think that’s not quite as heavy duty but very interesting.
There’s some interesting upstarts like Phrase.io that can just like rip through news articles and summarize them, or blog posts and summarize them, so you can really get a feel for the entire industry without spending an entire day reading about every last thing when you’re trying to create content.
And I’d say without those AI tools, it would be really hard to maintain an efficient content planning process, so really investing in technology upfront to speed up research and then letting the writing to be done by people with domain expertise is how I’m able to do it because I don’t know a ton about all of my clients’ industries, it would be impossible.
So outsourcing that research process to bots has been a big focus and so then it’s really freed up a lot of time.
Emil: Awesome. That’s amazing. I remember talking about that over lunch. I was like, my mind is blown.
Let’s go into like contractors. You’re a consultant. You have to find a lot of contractors to help you be able to do what you do.
What’s been your process for finding really good contractors from designers, writers, graphic design, all that stuff?
John-Henry: You know, it’s tough because I’d say really good people tend to get scooped up.
So every great designer that I’ve worked with has taken a really nice in-house job. So I’m stil trying to figure out that one. And then I do, I came from the agency world, so I do have some friends like moonlight in design, but even their cues get backed up and they have a lot of work on their plate.
For simple tasks where it’s like finding these email addresses where I can validate the work, Upwork is great. But you need to have a really tightly, finally tuned directions and no room for critical thinking.
And if you’re very process oriented and you can write the spec docs and everything, it’s great. And there’s even like courses that you can take that train you in how to write better spec docs.
But at the end of the day, a lot of the work that’s been done requires some level of creativity. So I tend to, I find people that are creatives, whether it’s like writers in LA or English majors that I meet through my personal network and said, you know, “Would you want to do some writing, do you like this?”
And I try and really find people that are, that have domain expertise. So, you know, in the B2B space, there’re tons people that are like, “Oh, I love to write. I’ve been doing HR for 10 years. I would love to make some side cash”. So those people definitely, I try and find people that work in the space.
When it comes to premium writing, I have used services like Contently or Upwork to find people that have some domain expertise.
Also just going to all your competitors sites and seeing who is guest blogging for them, who is writing on their blog, who has the bylines in the space and seeing, finding those people and seeing if they’re for hire.
Emil: Yeah. Maybe they wrote for them like a year ago and now they’re like, yeah I’ll write for you. I already know how to talk about this.
John-Henry: Because that’s tough. I have tried to get people to write about the B2B space who don’t have a B2B background. Actually even just like the sales and marketing space, they did a B2B background, but the person I’m thinking specifically came from a support background and it just, it sounded like they watched Glengarry Glen Ross five times and I was like, this isn’t that accurate.
And I think that is the biggest time suck I’ve had as a marketer is getting back creative and just being like this isn’t right and now I need to edit it and I can’t. It’s like, how do you outsource editing midway into a project? It’s very tough. You have to download the entire project to an editor, tell them what you need and get it from there.
So if you end up with just kind of sunk cost fallacy, like I’ll just do it. And that’s where you end up losing like eight hours of time trying to resuscitate content that just doesn’t quite pass the mark.
Emil: I know that feeling well.
John-Henry: Yeah. It’s not a good feeling. So I’m a bigger fan of like looking for domain expertise when it comes to creative or anything that has to connect with an audience and paying more for that.
But when it comes to finding 500 emails with journalists or whatever, the prospects, I will definitely outsource that all the way.
I would highly recommend double check everything, still. I’m always suspicious like once you, once you work with a contractor for a long amount of time, you can build that trust, but everything needs to be checked double for those first few rounds.
Emil: Yeah. Makes Sense. Good tips. How do you go about finding new growth ideas to test as a marketer?
John-Henry: Twitter’s great. For just like getting ideas. There’s, there’s some great people to follow on twitter.
Emil: Any shout-outs you want to mention?
John-Henry: Nick Eubanks is a really interesting person to follow on twitter. He does pretty interesting growth experiments. There’s… can’t remember her name right now, but the woman who’s leading content for SEO at Merkle is doing all types of absolutely fantastic tests right now.
Seeing the stuff that like Ross Hudgens shares, he’s pretty inspirational.
Emil: Yeah. You and I were talking about Content and Conversation.
John-Henry: Yeah good video series. Ross if you’re watching this, been enjoying it. But you know, I did use to spend time on sites like Inbound and Growth Hackers, but it finally got a little spammy.
Being honest, and this isn’t like, I don’t know if this is a tip that everyone can use, I would say private communities like closed Facebook groups. Slack channels that are very niche specific, before…
Emil: Yeah but those became spammy too.
John-Henry: Yeah they do. They become like upvote circles for like Product Hunt, which I think is a gigantic waste of time. Sorry, sorry if you’re into this, if you’re super into Product Hunt’s audience, but it’s just, I don’t, I don’t see the value.
But yeah, I just like, I think they’re time sucks and distractions and I think I really want to be with the people who are doing it day-in and day-out, so I’m in some Facebook groups of people that are running similar businesses or creating separate types of content and then the stuff that people will share in there is just, it’s fantastic because there’s trust and privacy.
And then like there’s one great slack group called Traffic Think Tank and it’s all just people running very unique tests sharing what they’re learning in a safe and friendly environment, but it’s all people that are doing it.
Emil: That’s Nick’s group, and Matt Barby.
John-Henry: Yeah Nick and Matt Barby’s group. Really solid group. Ian Howells is in it too, the Director of Marketing at LendingTree, or Director of SEO of LendingTree. Like they have some really smart folks in that group and people are sharing stuff daily about sort of like the wins and the mistakes and that’s a lot more helpful than like a vague blog post about like loose marketing tactics that you can potentially apply your site and they say, “I did this and it failed and here’s where I got it wrong”. And that’s for me, seeing tangible examples is really what I need. But like the 10 tips post can only take you so far.
Emil: Yeah. The people I follow on twitter, that’s usually where I get content from. Growth Hackers has some good stuff. But yeah, like the people you trust and build relationships with on twitter or wherever, and you’re like these people are really smart. They’re almost like content aggregators, I’ll listen to what they’re putting out for sure.
John-Henry: Yeah. There are people that do a great job sort of just recapping the internet and collecting all the information. And I get the Growth Hackers email now, which is great.
Emil: That one’s good.
John-Henry: Yeah. I just don’t… It becomes it’s own little thing with like upvotes and it’s like spending time on Reddit.
It’s a like if you were to read it and then just like go do something immediately, you go create growth, it would be awesome. But I find that I just kind of say, “I’ll read something else”.
Emil: Yeah. Reading too, like even random books that don’t even have anything to do with business. Sometimes you just get inspiration from really random stuff. So I’ve found books to be good as well.
You mentioned mistakes. Any fun, interesting mistakes that you could share and what you learned from them?
John-Henry: I think…
Emil: They’re never fun but interesting or…
John-Henry: Yeah. I have worked inhouse at a few places, was at a few agencies and I would say the biggest piece of advice I’d have is focus. And, the biggest mistake I had is lack of focus.
I think with SEO and how it works, it’s very interesting to people. Google’s really powerful. So you get sucked into a lot of conversations and you know, it’s important to, you know, help out, you know, other departments and give them the tips they need, but like the support website may not need the absolutely best to SEO on the planet.
It needs to rank for the terms people are searching for, but like, done is definitely better than perfect. And understanding your priorities in terms of generating revenue instead of like having a crawlable site. Like you’re here to make money and really focusing on how to do that every day and having like three or four big goals for the quarter and just working towards just that. Really calling your shot and hitting it, is the most important thing you can do.
I think like, being that you control, you’re probably going to have some decisions over the website and you’re responsible for how traffic is generated, you’re going to get pulled into a lot of conversations that may not be of the most consequence to you.
And it’s really important to know when to duck out of those conversations and when to just go back to doing your job.
Emil: Yeah, that’s really good advice. You want to hear about a funny mistake I made one time?
John-Henry: I’d love to.
Emil: So we sent out an email to our customers. This is back in my last gig. And I think it was almost a thousand customers, and I was testing out this email, you know, it has “Hi [fname]” and usually it pulls in their first name. So I sent a test one to myself and says, “Hi Emil”. So I’m like, okay, cool. Good stuff.
So we sent out this email and this is when I’m like handling a lot of things, SEO, email, all these different things, not an expert in any of them and realize after sending it that I had sent everyone, “Hi Emil”.
I didn’t catch that I actually had my first name hardcoded into an email so I sent like a thousand customers “Hi Emil”. So that was fun.
John-Henry: Did you do the follow up? Did you be like…
Emil: I did the follow up. “Hey, so sorry. Totally meant to send this to you, (first name).”
John-Henry: It’s always tough. Writing the follow up is like a soul crushing experience.
Emil: My heart just dropped after I sent that. I was like oh my God.
John-Henry: Everyone gets one, is like my rule and in a company when you handle like Marketo or Pardot, everyone gets one. You don’t really get two. Like it’s, everyone finds out about it and it’s just so mortifying.
Emil: Oh yeah. We had a good laugh about it afterwards, but I was mortified for a good 24 hours.
John-Henry: I definitely pulled that trigger before.
Emil: It’s scary with emails like your customers, you got to like quadruple check that. Have someone, the thing I learned is, have someone else check it too.
I don’t know how I would have prevented that one. I guess I would have had to send it to you.
John-Henry: That’s one thing. There is a email marketing program I really like called Autopilot and in their publishing test flow, you just throw in a random test email and send to this person.
John-Henry: So you can always just fire off a test, and so I had a plus test and that was coded with like Bobby Vindaloo or something like that. And so I would always see the merge factors and like have the company name so it would merge that in there. But it was, yeah…
Emil: I wish I had known about that.
John-Henry: Yeah. No, it’s just, it’s like testing that stuff is clunky. There’s not a lot of good workflows for it. I like that Autopilot was like, people definitely need this.
Emil: Yeah. That’s really smart. Alright let’s wrap it up. Where can people find you?
John-Henry: I’d say like twitter, I’m JHTScherck on twitter. It’s a mouthful, but I’m…
Emil: Send him dog photos.
John-Henry: …yeah you can keep up with photos of my dog and some thoughts on like B2B growth. I should probably spend more time on LinkedIn, but I don’t. I blog a little bit on my blog but not much. I’d really say like if I have something worth sharing, I’m going to share it on twitter. So, that’s always good.
And I’m around the LA scene. So if you’re a growth marketer in LA that’s focused on B2B, would love to meet you.
Emil: The unicorns out there.
John-Henry: Yeah, unicorns. Come on down. Weather’s great. It’s much cheaper than San Francisco.
Emil: Yeah. Seriously. I don’t know why more of us aren’t here.
John-Henry: It really, there’s a lot of room for growth here in LA and I feel like there’s a wave coming so I’m excited to. I’m excited to be here for it.
Emil: What about your website, where can people find you.
John-Henry: Jhtscherck.com or growthplays.com.
Growth Plays is more just like a lander, but, yeah, I do blog atJhtscherck. I’ve written a lot about, sort of how to use excel and SEMrush to scale content analysis. So you know, if you want to take, give that a look, I’d be thrilled.
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