Strategic Content Marketing

WITH

Kelsey Raymond

The Limitless Podcast

Strategic Content Marketing

with Kelsey Raymond

0:00
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What do all successful businesses in 2022 have in common? They all do content marketing. They create content that’s helpful to their audience, content that solves problems and adds value to people’s lives.

With all the content being shared on the internet, you may think it’s hard to build your online presence and be noticed by the people you want to reach. So before you start creating content, you have to keep this in mind: BE SPECIFIC. Be specific with what the content is about, who it’s meant to help, and what words to use so that people can find you when they search for you on different platforms.

This week’s Limitless episode features Kelsey Raymond, the CEO of Influence & Co., and she has super valuable tips for everyone who wants to build their audience and boost their online presence by creating quality content.

"Don't just write a bunch of keywords on your article for the sake of SEO. You have to bring value to what your audience is reading."

- Kelsey Raymond
@LimitlessShow @franklyco_

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN

  • How to create helpful, engaging and disruptive content on all digital communication platforms to turn viewers / readers into customers.

  • How to specify the content you put out so you’ll be on top of the search results.

  • How to bring value to what your audience is reading / watching.

LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE

Johanna Buchweitz:
How would you feel if time and money were no object? Or if you always knew that the answers you sought were at your fingertips? Or that the creative spark you would need for the next project was always going to be there? You would feel limitless.
I’m Johanna Buchweitz, and it is my honor to welcome all of you to Limitless, the show where we have open, honest and direct communication with extraordinary women in business to provide you with actionable next steps for super growth based on their proven success tactics. Joining me on today’s episode is Kelsey Raymond, CEO of Influence and Co, a content marketing agency working with clients ranging from venture backed startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Kelsey, welcome to Limitless.

Kelsey Raymond:
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to get to chat today.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m so excited to have you here and I’m so excited for this episode because I love this topic and I know so many people who are listening really want to learn more about it. So before we dove into everything, content marketing, I always love to kick off the show with this belief that I have that all driven female entrepreneurs are modern day super heroes. So as the super hero entrepreneur you are, Kelsey, What’s your superpower?

Kelsey Raymond:
Oh, that’s a fun question. I think my superpower is truly curiosity, that I am just a very, very curious person. And so that means that from a business perspective, I want to learn everything I can about running a team and serving our clients and just, you know, in life. I think it serves me very well because I approach things from wanting to learn and wanting to understand and, you know, always have something new that I’m reading or trying to teach myself or learn, which keeps me busy, too.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. That’s beautiful. It’s always learning, always growing. And yeah, I mean, I could see how that definitely would be valuable in business and in life. Awesome! So I love this topic of content marketing because everyone has kind of gotten this idea that they need it. They know that it’s important. They know that it’ll help them with their business.
But so many female entrepreneurs have come up to me and they’ve said, I know I need to do it, but what do I do? Like, if you could just break it down even for the high level, like what is content marketing and why do we all need it? Is it even for everyone? Should every entrepreneur be doing it?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, that’s a great question. And I’ll start by saying when we started my company Influence & Co. 11 years ago, we didn’t even call ourselves a content marketing firm because I didn’t even know that phrase yet. So it’s still relatively new in the marketing, you know, sphere, but like the term content marketing is new, but the concept has been around for decades.
And when we think about content marketing, really what it is is communicating with and educating your audience through some sort of content. So what our company does is mostly written content, but it could be podcast or videos or social media content. And to your question of does every entrepreneur need it? I think absolutely every entrepreneur needs some sort of content marketing.
Now, what that content marketing looks like will be solely dependent on your audience, what type of content they engage with, and what your business goals are. But especially when you’re in an industry where trust is important, where you’re needing to build that relationship, that long term relationship with your customers or clients doing that through content is a way that you can do that at a larger scale than you as one individual having 1 to 1 conversations with people over and over and over again.
So that’s something that I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs about, is that it scales much better than just you as an individual.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love how you just explained that because, one, I feel like you broke it down in a way that it’s a little bit less scary and intimidating by like really just defining what it actually is. And on top of that, like, it’s true because if you think about it, like, Oh, it’s so simple, I get to talk to more people than just one that’s way more efficient.
Like, again, it takes a little bit of the fear out of it, but then it comes down to actually creating the content that you need that will resonate. So what are some examples of types of content people should be creating and where should they be sharing that content?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, the first is, you know, we normally say like if you don’t if you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t have a company blog, that’s like the table stakes. So that is getting started. And the reason that that’s so important is that when people come to your website, there’s a chance they’re not going to sign up for a consultation or a sales call, or if you’re selling something on the site, they’re not going to buy it that first time.
So you need some way to get them to come back. To get them to start that relationship with you and really want to get more content from you and your company. And so a company blog is like very simple way to start, but then you want to have more people coming to your site than just the people that already know about you.
And so that’s where a lot of times we recommend that companies look at getting guest contributed articles published. So content coming from experts at the company. A lot of times the founder published in a publication that your target audience is already reading as a way to get in front of more people. So that’s kind of like filling the if you think about like a funnel at the end on funnel that’s filling the top of the funnel with more people.
So I think those two are great. And then doing things like this, like being guests on a podcast or doing a webinar, those are all really good examples of content marketing as well.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So when someone is, let’s say, trying to be a guest contributor, how do they know where their target audience is hanging out? Like where? Like what publications are actually reading? And once you identify it, how do you even, like, get the opportunity to write something there?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, absolutely. So there are a few tools that I would recommend. Some of these are paid, some are free. They have, you know, the freemium version. But our team uses tools like buzz sumo and Similarweb that have a lot of good features that you can search. Okay. If these are the keywords or these are the topics that I know I want to write about, what publications cover those? So that’s kind of one way of first finding like where is your target audience reading and how large are those publications? Is that worth, you know, would you get in front of enough people? The second thing, as far as like how to know how to contribute a lot of the smaller sites will actually have a page on the website that says like want to contribute or want to write for the site, and they’ll give you guidelines and they’ll tell you who to pitch.
So that is like the best case scenario. It’s written for you on the website a lot of times with some of the more larger sites, they don’t need to do that because they’re getting hundreds of submissions every week. In those cases, it just is a lot of digging. You might have to just try a few different email addresses, look on their LinkedIn to find who the managing editor is.
And the tips that I have for when you’re pitching yourself as a guest contributed author is to focus in your email on what value you’re bringing to their readership. Don’t focus on why your company or you are so great. They don’t want this to be a advertisement. It’s supposed to be educational in nature. So really focusing on what topic are you an expert in that you could educate their audience on and asking if they’d be willing to see an article from you on that topic?

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes a lot of sense because a lot of the time you have to be providing value to their audience. Otherwise why would they even want, you know, to be on board? So as long as you’re aware of your expertise and what you can really share and teach their audience, I think that’s so important. Is it difficult then to actually, let’s say, get, you know, all those publications?
So like, let’s say you do the outreach or you fill out on the smaller website that you want to be a guest contributor. What is the time period it’ll generally take to get a response? And if you get a response, when can you expect to actually have whatever you’re writing being on there?

Kelsey Raymond:
Oh, that is a great question because it varies. So much. So our company, you know, we’ve been doing this for a decade, so we’ve developed relationships with a lot of these publications that we know, like, okay, this publication, they’ll publish it in two weeks. This one, they have a 90 day editorial calendar wait period. So it’s not going to publish for at least three months. So it is a big difference depending on the publication. But the one thing I would say is that you’re going to have more success if you make sure that you’re writing the articles with the guidelines for that specific publication in mind, and then you’re only pitching an article to one publication. So what you don’t want to do is say, Oh, I’m going to send this to like 20 publications hoping that one will say yes because it should be tailored to their format, their audience, and they won’t publish it if they think someone else might.
So you need to ensure that you’re telling them like this is exclusive. But yeah, as far as the timelines, I mean, there’s, there’s some editors that we send it to and we follow up two weeks later, follow up again, two weeks after that. And after a month, they’re like, Oh yeah, by the way, we’re going to publish it tomorrow.
And then there’s others where you send it once and they tell you right away they’re going to publish it six months from now. So the only expectation setting I can say there is just expect all over the place because it’s not really consistent, publication to publication.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. Is there like a magic number of how many of these publications you should try to get featured in, at least like whether within a quarter, whether you’re I don’t know what the best timeframe of measurement would be?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, I think the best time frame measurement is probably a year because this is a long term strategy. We always tell people don’t expect to get like one article published and all of a sudden see hundreds of leads to your website and tons of new sales. Like it’s, it’s a long term strategy. But what’s exciting about that is that it does compound on itself over time.
So we’re still getting leads to our website from articles that I wrote seven years ago. Wow. So that’s what’s exciting about it, is that it is, you know, this long term strategy that people might find this content years from now. But what we think is important from a volume perspective is really consistency. So if you can consistently keep up with submitting one guest contributed article per month, that’s great.
One per month is probably like what we’d say on like the lower end. But if you have a support of a content team or this is something that you’re putting a big push behind and you can do two or three a month, then that’s going to be fantastic as well. I think the important thing though, is not just focusing on earned versus owned, but doing all of them.
So if you’re going to be focusing on guest contributed articles, make sure that you have blog content that’s aligned with those topics that you can link back to make sure that you have an email newsletter, that then people are getting content from you if they’re signing up for that on a regular basis. So it’s less about volume of one specific tactic and more about tying a few of those tactics together to really create that ongoing engagement with your audience.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love everything that you just said, and to anyone who’s just listening and not watching, I was literally smiling while she was speaking because this is such like a common theme that happens where like so many incredible people, entrepreneurs come on and they say, like, these tactics are so good, like, you should do them, but you have to consistently do it.
And it takes time. And the return on investment, like of your time and money, like you will see it longer term and like so many people are like, okay, what’s the short term fix? What can I do right now? Like, how can I get an instant result? And I love that because it’s true. And it makes sense that if you’re doing a little bit of everything, that’s just going to even make it more powerful.
And I was actually going to ask you a little bit about that, but you started to touch on that slightly with the blog posts. So when you are pitching, let’s say, to write an article for another publication, yeah, it has to be around the same similar topics that you would love, say blog about. But I assume it’s like completely different titles, different content within itself, but like similar subject matter.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah. So the way that we think about it is on your company blog, that’s like that’s your asset. You own that. So you can be a little bit more promotional because if people are reading on your blog, they want to know more about your company. And so the blog content might be a little bit more promotional. You’re talking more specifically about your product or service or the benefits that your company provides. Where the guest contributed an article maybe on a similar topic, but it’s going to be more general talking about things in the industry and maybe using yourself as an example, but not being ads promotional. So we do a lot of times like we call it like content batching where we’ll say over this quarter, this is going to be a theme that we’re writing on.
And this is what that looks like for a guest contributed article. This is what it looks like for blog content. This is what it looks like for a gated piece of content, like a white paper that we want people to download. So you’re going to have some general themes, but that will look different depending on the type of content you’re creating.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Okay, that makes sense. So like, let’s say for you guys, you have that white paper on your website, which I went through and I think it’s super cool. I read it. And anyone who’s one thing, you should definitely go check it out because it’s so valuable. So like for you guys, if you’re, let’s say, doing guest contributor article and you would write about that topic and you would say, if you want to learn more, check this out, and then you would just link it directly back to you.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah. So I’ll give you a real use case example with myself. We wrote an article for Marketing Process, which is a larger online publication for marketers. It’s one of the ones that we submit and then it publishes like 100 days later. So you got to have patience. But in this article we talked about using a knowledge bank, which is basically a repository for storing written insights from different experts at your company, so that when you’re going to create content, you’re not having to go interview people all over again, but you’re just pulling snippets from things they’ve shared in the past.
So the whole article was about how you should use knowledge banks, why you should use knowledge banks. And we actually created a template that people could use for creating their own knowledge bank that we then linked to from that article. So people clicked from the article back to our website, they downloaded the template and we had I think like 100 and something people download that. So then that’s 100 leads that they’ve given us their contact info that we can go ahead and reach out to. So that’s just an example of like tying those two things together, how that can result in real true business results for your company.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So what kind of tech tools do you use to be able to track those leads? So like, let’s say you were able to get us featured in, let’s say, six publications and maybe they’re all the same cold action, maybe they’re a little bit different. How do you directly track the results of being published in a specific publication?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, so we use HubSpot marketing automation system, so our website is on the HubSpot CMS. There are other tools other than HubSpot have. That’s one of the more expensive ones. But even if you just have simple Google Analytics set up on your site, that’s information that you can find from Google Analytics because you can see where the referring domain is coming from. But I do recommend to people if you’re if you’re going to be looking at doing content marketing for the long term at scale, some sort of marketing automation tool like a HubSpot is really imperative to being able to see the results of your work over time.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. So when it comes to like writing blog posts, how do you gain that visibility? And I know you guys do a little bit of specialty with SEO, so I think that this is like leads to that, right? I assume like that’s the best way to kind of get more visibility onto your blog posts.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah. So everything that we do with content marketing has a foundation in SEO or search engine optimization. And the reason for that is that it really is like that is the way you’re going to see the most success. Probably long term of growing your audience is through organic search. So what I recommend people do here, if you’re kind of new to the idea of SEO and you’re like, I don’t I don’t have 100 hours to learn about this is just to really think through when people are trying to find your company, what are they typing into Google?
What are they searching for? What are those key phrases or keywords? And then again, you can use some free online tools. SEO Mas, I think now is just called MAS is one that will give you insight into like, how often are these keywords being searched? So it might be great that you think people want to search for custom rubber duckies if that’s what you sell.
But if no one ever searches, if only two people a month ever search for custom rubber duckies, it doesn’t matter if you’re on the first page of Google results because you’re not going to get many people seeing that. So you want to first think about what keywords are your audience searching for and then go see what is the search volume for those.
And then that’s where. Then when you’re creating blog content, you want to make sure that you’re using those keywords in the blog content. But also think about that when you’re writing. The guest contributed articles. Because if you get a link from an article on a different publication back to your website, that’s really helpful from an SEO perspective. So those gaps contributed articles even help your on site SEO as well.

But yeah, as far as you know, if you feel like, well, I’m writing a company blog, but ten people a month are viewing it and they’re all probably my mom and my aunts. Then really thinking through, you know, how can you get more visibility to that through a search engine optimization strategy, through guest contributed articles, and likely through trying to grow your email list through other tactics as well.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love how you broke that down because I think SEO is again one of those those topics where everyone knows the term pretty much and they know they need to like implement it, but they have no idea how or like where to even begin and it can get a little bit overwhelming. So I do appreciate you simplifying it again.
You’re doing a great job, but I love it because it’s like taking these complex things that make it like super easy to understand, which is awesome when it comes to SEO like and you say that, you know, after you do the keyword search and you see the volume, is there a specific type versus specific amount of volume that you should be targeting?
Because obviously, if it’s too small, like you said, you don’t want it, but if it’s too big, nobody’s going to find you because you’re going to be on like the millionth page and Google.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, that’s a good question. And I don’t have a set like you want this many searches per month or anything like that. But what we do recommend, if you’re in a really competitive industry, so for example, if like you’re selling car insurance, you know you’re not going to compete with Geico on that most likely. So thinking through like where is your differentiation, where is your specialty in the market and looking for more of those longer tail keywords, which just means more phrases. So for example, with influence and CO we’re not trying to rank for marketing agency. There are hundreds of thousands of those, but content marketing agency or even more specific, like getting published online or guest contributed articles, thought, leadership content, those are things that are just more specific to the niche that we have in the market that people would be searching for to find us. So if you’re in a really competitive industry, I would say really try to think through where your differentiators are and focus your search engine optimization on that.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So when it comes to actually writing those blog posts, do you have to make sure that, let’s say those search terms are in there? And if you do like it specifically in each article, are you writing the article first and then finding ways afterwards to like, you know, plug and play words? Or are you like really just writing your entire article based off of keywords?

Kelsey Raymond:
So what we talk about is we write for humans. We don’t write for the Google algorithm. The Google algorithm is so good, though, that it’s basically the same. I mean, and so but we do say like think about, you know, you want to know what your keywords are from the beginning, but you want to write the article like you’re speaking to your target audience, not like you’re trying to jam in a bunch of keywords for the algorithm.
So what would that looks like on our team is we know what the keywords are. We know that in the mind before we’re writing, we write the article trying to make sure those keywords are there. And then when we do the edit on the article, we look again. Okay, did that keyword make it into the article? If not, is there a place that it would be natural?
If not, then we need to look at putting a different keyword in there because it just doesn’t fit. So what you don’t want to do, and this is, I think, what a lot of people did like five or six years ago, and SEO was just write these really poorly written like 400 word blog post that their only purpose was SEO and they were written terribly and just had a bunch of keywords.
That doesn’t work anymore. It doesn’t work for your audience, but it also doesn’t work for Google.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, because at the end of the day, also, you’re trying to add value. And so even if you’re in visibility and you happen to like to match every keyword and you get so many people that come to your website with an article, if it’s not actually helping them, it’s not going to do anything for you. So totally. It makes sense. Exactly. Yeah. So when you start implementing like, let’s say, different strategies, how long does it take for you to realize whether something’s working or not working?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, I’d say for SEO, specifically, six months. I mean, you’re not going to see a change in a month, most likely unless you’re starting from zero. Like if it’s a brand new website, you might see more progress quickly as far as like the domain authority of your site increasing. But as far as seeing like the rankings for different keywords and your organic search improving over time 3 to 6 months as a bare minimum. And really you’re looking, you know, at the kind of trajectory over a year. But we always tell people like don’t expect to see any movement within the first three months.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So for anyone who’s left, they just like redoing their website, but keeping all these kind of things in mind. Is there like a golden number or some kind of benchmark that they can think about whether like, you know, within 3 to 6 months they’re doing X and that’s like a lower average to like, you know, whatever number it’s like on average to something else that maybe is like above average. Is there kind of a range of how that works are just more open ended?

Kelsey Raymond:
It’s just so dependent on the industry and your target audience because, you know, for example, aldiss ourselves and as an example, because I know our numbers. So like we get, you know, 15 to 20000 visitors to our website every month. That’s a decent amount for a marketing agency. Now, if I was in when clients are signing on with us, they’re spending, you know, somewhere between five and $10,000 a month. So for us, out of 20,000 people, if we can sign on two of them as new clients in a month, that’s great. If you’re selling something that’s, you know, a $10 product, you probably want to have a lot more than 20,000 people coming to your site because you need to sell a lot more than two of them a month.
And so that’s kind of how I would think about it is less of the there’s a perfect number for each industry and it’s more kind of working those numbers backwards. Of how many of your product or service do you need to sell each month in order to be growing and be profitable? How many people do you expect to convert from a visitor to a client or a customer?
And then you can kind of do that calculation to see what is your goal for the number of visitors that you want to see coming to your website every month?

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. And I love that you’re actually really focused and talking more so about like the blog post and those other publications because I think so many of us, when we hear content marketing, our first thought is only social media, and a lot of people get scared by it. Actually, someone even asked me the other day they were like, How can I grow my business without having to create a ton of content on social media? Because we’d all like they were like, we don’t really like social media. And like usually that’s like such a foreign question because everyone’s eyes only social media. So I think it’s great to know that there’s these like other areas that we can really focus on and see. So much benefit from. And also we own it, right? Because even if like you are writing on someone else’s publication, you’re directing them back to you.
And then you get to like increase your own database and like, like you said, you grow your email list as well, which I think is awesome. So when it does come to social media is there a specific thing that people should really be focused on when it comes to creating content? Like, is the content how it how different is it going to be context wise, from, let’s say, like a blog post or when they’re writing on another publication?

Kelsey Raymond:
So I’ll start by saying I’m not an expert in social media. It’s not something that Influence and Co does, but we do have a sister brand. We’re part of a portfolio of brands now called Social SEO that does that. They would be able to answer this question way better than me but I’ll try. So on the social media side, it’s again just thinking about who is your audience and matching the style of the content to the platform. So the same way that you want to follow the publication guidelines when you’re writing for an online publication, when you’re posting something to Instagram, you want it to fit with the lifestyle of that social media network. So with Instagram, you’re probably going to have more success with short videos and images than you would with posting something that has a three page long caption that you’re trying to basically like write a blog post on Instagram. So, you know, really thinking through which, which platform makes sense for this message, what we do with influence and CO as we use our social media for a lot of visuals. So we’ll take, let’s say a blog post that’s like an 800 word blog post and we’ll repurpose it into an infographic and then that might get shared on Facebook or Instagram.
We might pull out an interesting quote from it and share that on Twitter with a link back to the article. So you can repurpose some of the same content you’ve created and just making it meet the, you know, the format of that platform. But the other thing that I would say to think through is you might have different goals for the content that you’re creating on social media versus the content you’re creating on other sites.
So since we really sell to other businesses like we’re a B2B company, we noticed that our social media, like our Facebook and our Instagram and even our LinkedIn, they weren’t really driving any new business leads for us, but what they were doing was getting in touch with a lot of people that were interested in working for us. And so we started shifting some of our content to be more employer branding type content on social media and really thinking about how we showcase our company culture and how we talk about the different roles that we’re hiring for.
And so there’s a different strategy for us with social media content marketing than there is for the guest contributed or our blog. And that’s okay because we’re reaching different audiences with that different type of content.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that and I find that so interesting too. And I think it’s great that you were able to kind of recognize that trend and be able to shift the content accordingly to benefit you guys. So once you start, let’s say, growing your email list and you know, whether it’s through your blog, you’re getting all these leads to your website or, you know, any other avenue, what type of content or what type of things are really important when it comes to like content marketing from like the email side of things.

Kelsey Raymond:
Well, so when we think about email marketing, that kind of falls into two categories. There’s the like ongoing nurture campaign, which is what we call it, these are people that signed up for your email list or downloaded something on your website. They might not be ready to buy right now, but you just want to stay top of mind with them like that is your goal is to stay top of mind so that when they are ready, you are the company that they think of.
So with that strategy we normally recommend a weekly or the very minimum monthly newsletter that you’re sharing content that is relevant to the readers. So you don’t want that to just be product releases or just bragging about the company, but really sharing things of value. We a lot of times we’ll share some articles we’ve written and even articles that our competitors have written that we’re like, This is really interesting.
We want to share it with our audience. So we call it content envy, things we wish we would have written. So I think that that’s one aspect of it. And then the other aspect is thinking about drip campaigns. So a sequence of emails that are going to people with a specific call to action. So these are normally going to be like 4 to 6 emails that are automatically sent that you’re trying to get them to take an action.
And that may be to set up a sales call with you. It may be to purchase something on your website, but those are going to be less educational in nature and more like promotional tool and saying like, click here to set up a sales call. And a lot of times we say, you know, you’re going to be sending those to a much smaller list of people that you think are really primed to come on as a client or a customer with your company.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So those would be more like warmer leads.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, yeah.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Okay. And so when you’re writing those like drip email campaigns, like, is there something you have to keep in mind? So it doesn’t sound like too salesy because at the end of the day, you still obviously want it to be super clear what you’re doing. You’re not trying to be shady. You’re like, Here’s the call to action. I think you’re a great customer.
I want you to buy from me. But is there a way to do so in kind of this like beautiful way so that they don’t feel too like bombarded like, oh, here’s another email. Someone trying to sell me something.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, I think it’s all about humanizing the brand. And so at Influence & Co., we have a woman named Cherish who writes these emails and she’s hysterical. And so her humor comes out in these emails. She has pictures of her little bitmoji like sitting on the couch drinking a glass of wine, and she’s like, This is what I’m doing while I’m waiting for you to reply to my email
So like using being human and not writing it like a robot, but also seeing how can you do things that can be done at a large scale but can also be customized to the individual? So using this email sequence as an example, what Cherish does as she has templates, but she’ll also spend 15 minutes researching a company before she sends that first email so that she can customize the first few sentences to really be applicable to them and their company.
So it’s not just customizing it with, you know, insert name here, but it’s looking at their website understanding. This is why I do think they’d be a good customer for influencing CO and letting them know that. So showing them that you’ve done some research, you are another human who is reaching out and you have something of value to share, I think is what has for been successful for us of making it feel more like an authentic relationship and not just super hard press salesy because that’s not authentic to who we are as a brand.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that because even though you do have like some automation and efficiencies in place, like it’s still like you said, it brings the human into it where someone doesn’t feel like they’re just on a large list of targets. Like they actually feel like, Oh, you care about me. Like I want to work with because you understand my brand. Like it makes sense. And that personalization, I definitely could see how like that would make such a big difference in a company wanting to choose you versus, let’s say, one of your competitors when it comes to those weekly or monthly emails, how does someone increase their open rate? Because maybe they are delivering so much value they think the content’s amazing. But some people are just not even opening their email. Yeah. What do they do?

Kelsey Raymond:
Two things I recommend that have worked for us and for clients. The first is putting emojis in the subject line. That might sound silly, but it is something that we have tested and we have seen that subject lines with emojis in them and it doesn’t matter which ones. I mean, it should be relevant to the content of the email, but that is something that we’ve seen has increased open rates.
So test that out. The second thing is look through your email list and if you have a large list and you have thousands of people that are never opening it or even hundreds of people, send them an email letting them know that you’re going to remove them from the list because they haven’t been opening it. But they can click here to stay on the list because that’s going to clean up your list of people that are just truly not engaged.
Like if they’re never going to open your emails, you don’t need them on the list, you don’t need to be spamming their inbox. And that also makes sure that from like the email client that it’s going to improve your deliverable rate. So some things happen sometimes when people are sending out a ton of mass emails that whatever email client they’re using, whether it be Gmail or something else, if they notice that a lot of them are not being opened, it might start putting more of your emails and spam in people’s accounts.
And so by doing that of sending like, hey, click here if you want to stay on the list, you’re getting people to re opt in, which will help with those deliverable rates. So those would be two things that I would recommend.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Those are great recommendations. I think when you first said that some people listening were like, Oh my gosh, I have to delete people from my email list. Felt horrible.

Kelsey Raymond:
I worked so hard to get them. It seems counterintuitive, but it really, you know, because it’s not about how many people are on the list, it’s about how many people are engaging with you. And so that’s what’s more valuable ultimately.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, for sure. And it totally makes sense because at the end of the day, like, you want people who are engaged with what you’re doing, who find it valuable and the hope they like are that they would be potential customers. But if there’s absolutely no chance of that happening, it’s better that you don’t spam them, like you said.
Also, you don’t want to like trigger that. So more of your emails go to spam anyways. And I think that that’s really great idea. Is there a specific percentage of an open rate that people should really be targeting to feel like comfortable with?

Kelsey Raymond:
Oh, it’s so it depends. Again, I think that MailChimp, this is I don’t know the numbers at the top of my head some instead going to say Google this because. MailChimp does a report every year that they give like benchmarks in different industries for open rates, since they have all that data for all of their clients. So that would be a really great resource to look into the Mail Champs Report. So you could see like for your specific industry, how do you compare to other companies.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That make sense and with the same kind of thing apply for like the time of day that you should be sending an email? Is that like industry specific or is there like a general like timeframe that’s usually best?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, we laugh that if you Google this question, you will find like 85 different answers. So I don’t think anyone really has it. Figure it out. I’ll tell you, the approach that we take is and this is where having an automation system like HubSpot is helpful, we do it to where it sends at our weekly emails, like our email newsletter sends at nine and send your 9 a.m. in that individual’s time zone so it knows what times on their end.
So it doesn’t just send all at once. It sends so that each person it at 9 a.m. their time, which we’ve seen, seems to work. But, you know, I think that you’re going to get a ton of different responses on that. And I don’t think anyone really has the magic number.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, no, that makes sense. I mean, as you can see, there’s a trend here. I love data, so I always want to see.

Kelsey Raymond:
You in the thread where I’m not the person to be like is the exact day and time because I don’t have the data to back that up.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, but apparently nobody else does either. Because if you are getting so many different answers on Google, I think everyone’s in the same boat trying to figure it out and trying to see what makes sense and what works when it comes to creating content, art and we talked about a lot of different ways that we can do that and think about it.
But are there certain ones I know you said, like, you know, as the art specifically is more longer term, but are there certain places where you can kind of see a faster ROI, like a faster like instant results versus the slower a longer term building awareness and building trust?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, we’re I think you get the fastest results is when you think about content marketing as a sales enablement tool. So if you are a company that you have sales people, even if it’s just yourself for the sales people. But if you have people that are reaching out to prospective clients, having sales, this is where content marketing can be really impactful really quickly.
Think through or talk to your sales team about what are the questions that you’re getting on like every single sales call, what are the objections that you’re getting? What are the things that when you see it on a sales call it, people’s eyes light up and you can tell that excited and write articles around those topics and then have your sales people use those as a reason to stay engaged with those prospects over time.
So if you have a longer sales cycle, you know, your sales person doesn’t want to follow up every week, just saying like, hey, are you ready to get started yet? Or you know, can we send the contract over? But if they have something of value to share, if they say, hey, you know, last conversation we talked about that you were struggling to get buy in from your boss.
We actually wrote an article about how to get C-suite level buy in for content marketing initiatives. I wanted to share it with you because I thought it’d be a good resource. So that’s using content marketing as a way to engage with those prospective clients or customers. And we’ve seen that be something that like we create two articles for a client, their sales team goes and starts using them and they’re getting immediately immediate results of getting people on the phone, having better conversations, closing more deals.
So that’s where I think content marketing can be really in the short term and then obviously doing all the other things that’ll be more impactful long term.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. That’s great advice. I know myself, I will definitely try to implement that too because I think that’s really cool when it comes to actually writing the blog post, like is there one person that’s supposed to write all of them or is it okay to have different people like because not everyone loves to write blog posts? I definitely don’t. But like, is it okay to have like a different tone or does there need to be like the same tone for consistency over time?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, what we recommend is having some guidelines that are more like the companies editorial guidelines. So when we’re doing a blog with a client, we start with creating editorial guidelines for the blog, but then each individual person is going to have their own style, their own tone. And I think that’s fantastic because it should come from an individual, not from the brand.
People relate to other people, they don’t relate to brands. So I think having different people write it is great the approach that we recommend if you’re not working with an agency but you’re doing this in-house, is to have one person who is probably sits on the marketing team who’s leading up the initiative, but having them interview different subject matter experts who will be the authors of this blog post. Because to your point, not everyone enjoys writing, but also not everyone’s a good writer. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have awesome insights that your audience would benefit from. So when we’re working with clients, we interview them and then we write the article. So if you’re doing this internally at your company, you know, interviewing different subject matter experts and then you write in the article getting their feedback, their approval on it, but that can also make sure that you’re having some consistency and like the quality of content and the style of content, while still allowing for that uniqueness and tone and voice for different subject matter experts.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. And when it comes to like the actual lead magnet or the white paper, like, are you supposed to change that over time? Like, or and if so again, like it like time. Why is like do you keep one line backing it up for a specific amount of time? Is there like a best practice? Like keep it up for six months and then swap it out changed every three months.
Like, how can we think about that?

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah, we really look at a lot of things. What content marketing on quarterly campaigns. So wanting to have some sort of fresh content once a quarter, it doesn’t necessarily always mean creating something new from scratch though. So for example, we just today released or I don’t release internally, I don’t know what’s on our website yet, our guide to content marketing that we first created back in like 2013.
But this is the 2022 edition of it. So we update this once a year because our industry is always changing. So you can have some things that, yes, you do need, like a brand new lead magnet on a whole new topic. But then you can also update past things with some new insights or, you know, new data. If it’s something that you have proprietary data on.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. So when you’re doing all this content marketing and you’re creating stuff for your blog post, your email list, your guest contributing how it is like come into play, is that something that we should be considering as well to try to get again, more brand awareness, but it’s like your company name, it’s being pushed on, let’s say larger or smaller publications.
Again, it just kind of helps hopefully drive more traffic back to you.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yes, absolutely. So we definitely recommend for most companies a digital PR campaign as well. And I say digital PR because if you’re if you’re doing if you’re really focused on this content marketing for your website, you know, it’s more likely someone’s going to come to your website if they read something about you online versus like hear about it on the radio.
So we focus on digital PR and what we normally tell people is you need to make sure that your site is really solid first, that your blog is really solid because when you pitch a journalist, the first thing they’re going to do is they’re going to Google you. And if they can’t even find your website when they Google you or if it’s really poorly done, it’s going to decrease their chances of wanting to cover you. It also really helps when you’re pitching journalists. If you can include a couple of articles you’ve written on your areas of expertize because it also then gives them insight into topics you might be able to talk about in an interview. So we recommend kind of starting with the onsite content and the guest contributed content. And then once you’ve done that for a few months, then shifting to start pitching journalists to cover you.
And the other thing I would say there, this is probably like the biggest like expectation setting we have to do with clients. Everyone thinks that their company is so interesting and so fascinating and obviously a journalist would write about me, but you really do have to have something unique to talk about and like launching a new product or even sometimes like raising a round of funding, they’re getting those pitches all the time.
So we normally are thinking about instead of pitching like something exciting from the company, let’s pitch this person from the company as an expert in something in the industry and try to capitalize on something going on in the industry or in the news that is timely, that would make sense for someone to cover that person or that company.
So just really, if you’re doing your own PR know again that like you need to give the journalist a reason to cover you that is valuable to their readership, not just valuable to you and your brand.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. And at the end of the day, it kind of goes back to everything you were saying, which is that value, right? Like whether it’s a how can I, you know, give value to somebody else’s readers. Same thing when it comes to PR, it’s like, why should you even talk to me? Like, you know, like, let me tell you, I’m valuable, my company value.
But here’s what I can actually talk about as opposed to like, my company’s awesome. You should send all your readers here. Just talk about how great it is. So I love that. I love everything that you’re doing. And for anyone who’s listening who does want like more Kelsey Raymond and influencing co like where can they find you.

Kelsey Raymond:
Yeah so our website is influenceandco.com and spelled out you can find me I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Twitter. If it’s on our website, you can find it Tweetbot, my name or my Twitter handle. But the other thing I would say is that we just relaunched our online course. So we know that a lot of people know they need to do content marketing, but they’re not at a point to hire an agency like ours. And we want to also offer that like that giving style of marketing. So we have an online course that you can find on our website that teaches people how to do everything we do. And just do it for yourself, because it is something that I think any entrepreneur can handle their own content marketing. It just takes a lot of time, effort and resources, but it is doable on your own.
So I would say if you, you know, are not at a point to hire an agency, but, you know, you want to be doing this, definitely check out the online course because that’s going to help you kind of give all the steps along the way to get there.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that and thank you for doing that because that’s so valuable and that’s like everything that I want to do here at Limitless. And I love that because it teaches people how to actually take action and be able to do something themselves. And like, like you said, everyone can and should be doing it, which I think is awesome.
So you are clearly so successful like and everything you guys are doing is amazing. But for you as Kelsey Raymond, what is your definition of success?

Kelsey Raymond:
Oh, my gosh. I love that question. I think it’s twofold. I think from a business perspective, my definition of success with the company is that I, I want to have a company that our employees wake up every day and are genuinely excited about coming to work. And by coming to work, everyone’s remote. So walking over to their desk at the house.
But people are genuinely excited about coming to work because they know that they are appreciated, know that they’re respected, and they know that they’re doing something that fulfills them to me, that like as a as an entrepreneur, having that culture in the company is what gets me excited about coming to work every day. And then success is also helping our clients achieve their goals. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s all we want to be doing from the client perspective. And then for for me personally, you know, all of that kind of comes into I want to be able to run this wonderful company to set an example for my two young sons that all people, men and women and non-binary people, can do incredible things when you work hard and that, you know, I want to be an example to them of that and that you can be successful while also treating people in incredibly well and being really kind and that those things are not mutually exclusive.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. That’s such a great answer. So you’ve given us so much value today and I think taught all of us so many things. I know I learned a ton. So last but not least, before you leave us, could you please share any parting words of wisdom you have that can fit on a tweet?

Kelsey Raymond:
Oh, my gosh. I can put on a tweet. Let’s see. I’m going to go from the content marketing perspective that content marketing is the giving side of marketing. You need to add value to your audience. First and foremost.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Love it. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Kelsey Raymond:
Thank you. This was really fun. Nice to chat with you.

Johanna Buchweitz:
We hope you enjoyed hearing from the incredible Kelsey Raymond. And if you did, please leave us a review on Apple, Spotify or wherever you tune in to listen. Please share this episode with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of Limitless. See you next week for a new episode.

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