Getting Good At Content Marketing: In Talk With Andy Crestodina

April 14, 2021
Authored by:
Emily
Featuring:

If you’ve been studying or doing content marketing, you must’ve heard the name Andy Crestodina. He is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Orbit Media Studios, an award-winning web design company, which has completed more than 1,000 successful website projects. 

Some of Andy’s favorite topics include search engine optimization, social media, analytics, and content strategy. He has written more than 100 articles on content marketing topics. So, if you’re looking for inspiration or ideas in those categories, you know who can help. 

He is also the author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more that Andy has achieved over almost two decades. In this exclusive interview with us, he shares his thoughts on content marketing, content promotion, and everything in between.

1. When did you discover your passion for content marketing?

We do web design. So our clients really only need us once every 3-5 years. After working with dozens of companies over seven years, I finally realized that I needed a way to keep in touch with these people over the years. But how?

The answer: email

My idea was to simply write an article and then email it to everyone we’d worked with. This was 2007. Really thought of it as “blogging with a newsletter” rather than “content marketing.” I wrote the first three articles in a single weekend, but the frequency was monthly.

The response was good so we kept going. 

After a year or two, we started to call it content marketing. And we doubled down. I started writing, publishing and sending articles every two weeks. We also adapted our content program a bit:

  • 2010: We added a monthly live event, inviting people to come in and learn about digital marketing
  • 2011: We started adding contributor quotes to articles in an early version of influencer marketing
  • 2014: We started publishing original research, which led to huge jumps in content quality
  • 2015: We started shooting video versions of existing blog posts and posting to YouTube

So the passion for content was born from necessity but evolved out of an obsession for quality and the goal of always upgrading to more engaging formats.

2. What are your thoughts on platforms such as Medium and Quora--do they help?

Medium is a useful syndication tool.

You wrote an article last year. It was a strong piece of content and you promoted it well. You sent it to your list and you shared it on social media. But your audience has moved on and traffic to that URL is close to zero.

Now it’s time for “syndication.” And it’s easy. Simple copy and paste the article into Medium (or LinkedIn) and republish. Make a few edits first to improve the quality based on any feedback you got originally. Maybe rewrite the headline, reusing whichever social media post got the most traction last time around.

Boom. The content is suddenly in front of a new audience. If you’re concerned that this doesn’t meet your traffic goals, go ahead and add a call to action at the end of the article. Even if the click-through rate is low, the effort took very little time and cost no money.

Quora is an amazing research tool.

If you have an idea for an article, you can go look up the topic on Quora and see what people are talking about. You can see their answers, often supported with links to research. You can connect with experts who may be open to collaborating with you on the piece. And once live, you can post the answers from your article on the related questions on Quora, linking back to your piece.

From ideas to research to collaboration to promotion. Quora checks every box.

And if you’re an SEO, there’s one more opportunity. Find the phrases that quora questions rank for and go write answers to those questions. Here’s how:

3. When building a blog from scratch, what are the three most important things one should keep in mind?

Great question, here are my top three...

First, align the content with your goals and the information needs of your audience. 

  • If you publish helpful articles that people love but aren’t relevant to the problems you solve, you’re doing charity work.
  • If you publish purely promotional articles that don’t build loyalty and love, you’re doing advertising. 

Content is powerful because it pulls an audience toward you. Publish something great and promote it well. It will get ranked, get shared and get opened in inboxes. And content marketing is durable. Ads disappear as soon as you stop paying for them. But that content will live on forever. You can keep promoting it. Keep sharing it. Keep using it to drive traffic and brand awareness.

Next, work hard on the calls to action in your email signup form

Every visitor to the site has a greater potential to subscribe if you have compelling email signup CTAs. A great CTA meets three criteria:

  1. It’s obvious, because of color, size a placement (prominence)
  2. It gives people a reason to subscribe, telling them what they’ll get (promise)
  3. It adds some credibility by showing the number of subscribers or a testimonial (proof)

A bad email signup CTA leads to a zero percent conversion rate. A great CTA supports email list growth, which helps free your content program from being reliant on Big Tech for traffic (Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinstagram, etc.)

Finally, make sure that Analytics is set up to track things well.

Once the website and content programs are launched, there’s going to be a lot of activity. There are a lot of moving parts that all have to work well. And Analytics is your best tool for finding out what’s working and what’s not.

Here’s a list of 40 items that all work together to generate leads.

Source

4. What's the one mistake you'd ask marketing professionals to avoid at all costs?

Website problems are the most expensive. It takes so much effort to drive traffic, but if the site fails to get visitors to take action, nothing else matters.

Some of the biggest problems are structural. Does the site have the right content on the right pages?

Every visitor to every page is there for a reason. They clicked and landed here because they want some information. The first job of the page is to meet their expectations by answering their questions. The ideal page anticipates their questions and guides their eye through a series of answers.

But some websites still have an FAQ page ...which is really just important information out of context. If the question is truly frequently asked, why not put the answers directly onto the pages that are relevant for that topic?

If you have an FAQ page, don’t get rid of it yet. Especially if it has expandable accordions, you have an opportunity to do a bit of analysis and potentially align it with FAQ page best practices.

Add a click heat mapping tool (like Plerdy) to the page and see which questions are getting expanded. These are your visitors’ top questions. The other questions? Maybe no one cares

5. You're in a parallel universe--what is that one thing you're great at?

So many things I wish I knew...

I wish I had better video production skills.
I wish I was a better headline writer.
I wish I was good at Google Data Studio or Tableau.
I wish I was better at persuading clients to make good decisions.
I wish I could speak Spanish.

But my main job these days is unrelated to digital. I have little ones at home. My goal is to be the best dad I can be. It’s the hardest and best job I’ve ever had and I love it.

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