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In this week’s episode of the Marketing Nerds podcast, I had the privilege of speaking with my long time friend Wil Reynolds, who is the Founder and currently Director of Strategy at Seer Interactive. Wil is not only one of the smartest guys in digital marketing today, but has contributed in numerous areas to the progression of our industry as a whole, so to be able to pick his mind is always a personal honor.
Wil and I cover a number of topics and it there is definitely a value to hearing it directly through the Podcast, but here are a couple of the main topics we touched on, along with some highlights from Wil:
Using paid elements to accomplish outcomes that you used to get from SEO
The thing that’s got me really excited about SEO today, is doing paid search to accomplish outcomes that I used to get from SEO. Once you start to see the levers that are pullable by paid search or social targeting, it’s like a whole new world. I actually can’t peel myself away from AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, because it just seems like every day I’m like, “Wait, you can do that too?”
The ability to pay to get in front of a very targeted audience, or to re-target those people with very advanced tactics, to me that crap is just fun. It feels like it’s a whole new world for me.
Creating content that stands the test of time
For me, content that stands the test of time is content that you write today that you know when somebody hits that piece of content two or three years from now, they’re still going to get value from it. It’s still going to help them to make a decision better, or to learn something that they didn’t know in the past.
Identifying older content that can perform for you today
Earlier it was much more of a gut call. You would go in analytics and you look at are people sharing it when they get to it and what not. Today, what we’re doing now with our assets is we’re really tagging them well. For instance, if I have video on my content, now I can actually tell are people viewing that video. How far are they viewing it through? I’m looking at scroll depth on the content. I’m looking at people hovering over the share buttons.
Now what Seer is starting to do is get much more strategic in setting an asset up in the first place, where we can to be able to have the right tagging in place. We can truly tell does this feel like an asset that when people are getting to it, they’re actually engaging with it, and it’s solving their problems. If so, then we know it’s worth pouring our time into re-purposing it, or putting more time into it.
One of the things that I’m also looking to do now that I’m playing with ad words and re-targeting is now I’m able to realize, and tagging, that if I say someone has scrolled 75% of the way down, then I can put them into a custom audience. I can set up a pixel to put them into a custom audience into Facebook, into Twitter. I’ll say this tag will just continue to build me an audience of people who got that far through the content.
Then what I can do is when we go to update it, I can then turn that audience live, and say start showing ads to people who got to this point in our content over the last X number of months. With the fact that we’ve just updated this piece of content to bring them back in, and get them to reengage once again when we update it.
That stuff to me is super cool, because you start thinking, okay I’ve got an asset. It took off, it did well. It’s starting to get a little bit dated. I can update it, but then how am I going to let the world know it’s updated? If I start setting up re-targeting pixels from the beginning, those re-targeting pixels are starting to build an audience. When I go to update it, I can just advertise right back to them automatically.
Whether Google+ has a future and how important the social site is for companies today
I think one of my responsibilities for my client is to help them to figure out where they should have a dog in different fights, because they know they can’t be in all of them. They’re saying, “Strategically where should we put 5% of our time to make sure we don’t miss the boat?” For a while it was Google+ for me.
Now I’m really starting to peel that out, unless there’s proof that there’s an audience that is really into what they have to offer on Google+. The auto community is pretty strong on Google+. I think Ferrari has an amazing Google+ set up. They got a great community there. If you look at photography, great Google+ communities.
Outside of certain niche areas, I’m starting to tell my clients, “I’d rather us look at spending our time in social targeting, Pinterest, or other areas.” Google+ to me, given the decoupling, Google tried to force it for a long time. Once they realized that that wasn’t going to take, even when they tried to connect it all, the fact that they’re starting to parse these things out.
Their photo app is amazing. It blows away anything else that I’ve seen out there. I can type in rear view mirror in photos now, and it’ll show me photos where I’ve taken pictures of rear view mirrors. That’s insane.
The funny thing though is they’ve taken a Trojan Horse, that they could have used to continue to keep us on Google+ and decoupled it. They’re taking hangouts, which was the other thing that they did amazingly well, or pretty well, they’ve decoupled that from Google+.
I’m a little bit concerned about having my clients spend any real time there, unless there’s data and proof that their community is on that platform.
Wil’s work with Covenant House, who provides services to homeless and runaway youth
For me, the Covenant House was one of those organizations I started with like 12-13 years ago. When somebody explained to me the fact that at 18 and older, our government treats you like your an adult when you go from being 17 years old in 364 days to the next day when all of a sudden you’ve just miraculously matured and you’re on your own. I understand that there’s needs for cut-offs, so I’m not blaming anybody for that.
However, you realize that kids don’t just mature over night. Unfortunately, they’re just pushed out on their own as kids in adult shelters. The Covenant House is really there for kids who are usually 18 to 22-23, who are still trying to figure things out, and get them back on their feet.
I got involved with them like I said 12 or 13 years ago, just started really working with kids. I think at this point in Seer’s trajectory, it’s pretty easy for me to write checks, but I’ve always valued seeing other perspectives.
I’ve worked with kids when I do my annual sleep out, which is usually in November when it’s cold out or late October, I’m sleeping out over night. To have a 17 or 18 year old kid describe to you how to set your box up, and keep yourself safe at night when you’re sleeping out in the streets of Philadelphia. I’m sleeping out there with maybe 20 or 30 other people.
You’re like, “Damn, at 18 years old I was at college, hanging out, hitting on girls, hanging out with my boys.” At 18 years old this kid who was given a different hand in life was thinking, “How do I stay safe? How do I look outside of my box at night? How do I stay warm?” It’s always just touched me, and I’ve always wanted to be a part of that organization.
It’s brutal sometimes. I’ve done it four years in a row now. One year we got lucky and it was 45. Then last year I think it was 27. It was so cold. I mean you’re numb super early by like 12:00 o’clock you’re numb. Then you’re just like, “I can’t leave until 6:00.” You’re sleeping outside somewhere in Philly, usually it’s in Germantown, which is not the best area, in a parking lot. We’re safe kind of, but there’s a vulnerability you feel when you’re outside, and you hear a backfire and you’re out in a box. You think it’s gun shots, because you just feel so open to the elements and to whatever happens.
It’s really interesting to feel that vulnerable. For me it’s a great reminder that as “stressful” as this life could be with running a company, and Google making changes, and all that stuff; it really helps me to keep that part of my life in check to realize that that’s really not that big of a deal.
The things that are “stressful” or tough ain’t shit compared to what some kids are going through every day on the street. It helps me to keep my life in check. I probably get more out of it then even the kids do.
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