How to Write Marketing Copy that Converts More Leads [Video]
You’ve heard “Content is King.” It’s time to meet three content queens and learn how they write marketing copy—articles, eBooks, social posts, and emails—that:
- rank higher on Google
- gain more clicks
- convert more users
- and build better customer communities
Join us for a fast-paced video hour full of tips and laughter.
Mia is the Director of Demand Generation for Finalsite where she has risen through the ranks while training a dynamic team of writers and digital marketers. She is also the co-host of “The School Marketing Show,” a weekly look at boosting communication for schools.
Anna Grimes brings a career’s worth of public relations and crisis communications work to Golden Spiral. She helps create content for both our agency and our clients and maintains dozens of relationships with influencers and journalists who report on B2B tech issues, topics, and companies.
Taylor Underwood is a content strategist at Golden Spiral. She develops and edits copy to support our clients’ marketing initiatives, ensuring clarity and consistency with each written piece.
On Writing, Stephen King
Synonym Finder, J.I. Rodale
The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate, Eugene Ehrlich
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White
A Whack on the Side of the Head, by Roger von Oech
Online Resources Discussed
Google’s Predictive Search
Zoom meetings with peers
Recent Articles by Mia Major:
Quotes to Remember
A clear, bold assertion is the cornerstone of leadership. — Anna Grimes
Mark’s Video Presentation on Writer’s Block
Mark Whitlock (00:00:00): Welcome to this special video edition of Studio CMO Live. Hi, I’m Mark Whitlock. And today we’re going to be talking about writing, talking about all things, putting words together, and you know, sometimes that’s harder than it looks, and we’re going to have some fun talking about how to write for the web, how to write for your audience, and more, most importantly, just how to put reasonable sentences together that communicate something. And we’re excited to be here today. I’ve got two of my coworkers with me and I’ve got one of my favorite writers on the planet here, too. We’ll start with her. Mia major is the director of demand generation for Finalsite. Finalsite is the preferred marketing communications platform for more than 5,000 schools worldwide. I got a chance to meet me a couple of years ago, and when she’s not helping me be a better writer, she’s helping me laugh. So Mia, thank you for being on board with us today.
Mia Major (00:00:52): Thank you so much. You are. I feel like too kind. You are really building me up here. I feel like an author like M J K Rowling, but I really just write blogs about marketing. So thank you so much. I’m I said it’s
Mark Whitlock (00:01:04): Well, you’ve helped me a lot. Uh, like I said, well, there we go. Uh, Anna Grimes is joining us today from our golden spiral team and is the marketing and communications manager for us and, uh, heads up a few accounts and just does all things in the thing that we love most about Anna is that she can slip into the most delightful old Southern accent at any point and lighten any meetings. So, and over grateful you’re on board today.
Anna Grimes (00:01:29): I’m glad to be here.
Mark Whitlock (00:01:31): And Taylor Underwood is with us. Taylor’s our senior content strategist. And I think, uh, for this year holds the record for the most times, receiving the BOM award at golden spiral. Uh, every week we give out a bomb to the person who has made a significant contribution, uh, on our team. And Taylor’s just been knocking it out of the park. Uh, so many times this year. Taylor, thanks for joining us today.
Taylor Underwood (00:01:58): Thanks Mark. I’m glad to be here.
Mark Whitlock (00:02:00): So the thing that all four of us have in common is that we have to string words together and we’ve been doing this for a while. And, uh, so if you’re watching, you’re, you’re probably having to write something to at a minimum, a tweet at the maximum, an ebook or a white paper or something else, or who knows. Maybe you’ve got something burning in your heart to, to write something, actually, a book, a real book. Did this still exist yesterday? Uh, uh, thanks for joining us. We’re going to be talking about a whole bunch of things today, so Hey, I wanted to start out today, guys. Taylor will come to you first. I’ll just put you on the spot. When did you start loving to write and tell him, tell us about something back in the day of learning, how to write and love and to write.
Taylor Underwood (00:02:41): I think that it all started because there was a pretty big reader as a kid, loved boxcar children, babysitters club, um, got, got those delivered to my house every month and we’re just kind of tear through them. And I think being a lover of reading made me curious about writing and, uh, I know I wrote my own short story when I, I was probably eight years old about being a baseball player and a ballerina. Um, that’s where it all began for me. Um, and then I story, I majored in English in college and, um, it was always just the subject I was drawn to, um, and got real joy out of putting words together and making content, um, readable and digestible and, and being able to look at something you produce and think that it sounds really great. Does your, dad’s still have a copy of that story? It must be somewhere. I I’m. I hope so. Hopefully it’s at my parents’ house. I haven’t seen it in decades.
Mark Whitlock (00:03:43): Oh, wow. How about you, Anna? What got you to the place where you loved writing.
Anna Grimes (00:03:47): I’ll have to say that, that at least initially it was difficult. Um, my first research paper I wrote in ninth grade and, um, what I, what it taught me was how, how hard it can be, but it also taught me that, that, you know, to take pride in that finished product. And so the rewards of, wow, you invest all this time and sometimes it can be excruciating to, to get all those words on the paper, but boy, when you do, um, you know, and, and I was a history major in college, so I, I didn’t come in by way of the English. My, my, um, enthrallment with it was, was primarily from reading the subject matter. And then to kind of, um, pick up on what Taylor said, um, to sort of help explain things to somebody about a historical topic. So my training as a historian really kind of helped, and it really has come into hand in handy when you’re writing. I mean, when you’re writing marketing blogs, because you have to cite your research, you have to know how to go and find things. Um, and so, uh, and then the fun part though, with this is for the, for the most part in writing my, anything with history, I don’t, I can’t talk to like the actual people, but this, you know, now you can, sometimes you can interview somebody and that’s kind of cool too.
Mark Whitlock (00:05:15): Great, Mia how about you?
Mia Major (00:05:18): So I guess my beginnings are much different than Taylor and Anna’s cause I actually don’t like to leave that much and never have I was that kid during SSR who would like pretend to read on the beanbag. Yeah. But I’ve always loved writing. And I think I can like pinpoint basically two main memories. So the first one I was in elementary schools, I believe I was in first or second grade and I wrote this poem that I’m sure looking back as total, like just not good. And I just specifically remember the teacher, like calling me up to the front of the room, telling me how good it was. She wanted me to read it at the school-wide Memorial day assembly and invite my parents. So my dad took off work and like my mom came and then my mom at the end of it was like, there wasn’t that great looking back.
Mia Major (00:06:07): But I was like, mom, I was like seven. Like it was like really given it to me as it is. She’s a great Simon cowl in my life. I really appreciate her honesty through all these, all these years. Um, but I feel like that was really like when I think I became one of those kids that I was clearly the creative and not the mathematician. And I really thrived in like all my writing classes, all my English classes, um, ended up taking AP English as a junior and high school and just completely fell in love with storytelling more than just writing. I had this amazing teacher who my God, yes. To be in his nineties. Now he retired mr. Tremor. I sent him an email during COVID and just like, Hey, just checking, make sure you’re alive. Cause I’d love to see you when I moved home next year, he’s still alive.
Mia Major (00:06:49): He, um, is a volunteer, um, writer at a charter school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Um, but he, he was one of those people that I felt also just gave me brutal honesty and really just made me always want to be better than I was. And I feel like he really pushed me to open up in a way that I never had in my writing before. And I feel like his life lessons and his just unique take on storytelling and writing has just stuck with me over the past 20 plus years. And every time I write something, I’m always just like, would mr trimmer be proud of this? And I think sometimes in the world of marketing blogs, I’m like, no, he wouldn’t that be proud of a test? Like this is so for Google, this is not written for anyone but Google. Um, but I’d like to think that most of the work that I do still has that, that little bit of storytelling at heart, that he would be proud of.
Mark Whitlock (00:07:44): Very cool. I fell into it backwards too. Uh, I was a ham I could get up in front of any classroom and BS my way to an a, uh, but whether I did the core reading behind it or actually could write anything was a whole other story, but somehow or another, along the way I started writing songs and I had this crazy dream to be a songwriter. Didn’t want to be a performer, but I wanted to be a writer. And then when I got to college, I had, you know, all these A’s on my report cards from BSE, my way to them, uh, came home to roost. Cause I was in the honors program at the university of Georgia. And I had to write all the stink and time essay after essay, after paper, after paper, uh, for the first two years. And I kind of got to the point where I was like, I need to learn how to put this stuff together.
Mark Whitlock (00:08:32): I learned, I learned how to love to read during my freshman and sophomore years of college. And therefore I learned how to love to write and, uh, started actually feeling traction. When I would write radio scripts. I was a stringer reporter student reporter for the NPR station. And I had in man, my work was scrutinized because it was carried on the entire Georgia network. So I had like three or four different editors, including people I’ve still never even met at, uh, at the, at, in Atlanta. I was in Athens at the university of Georgia and they were in Atlanta and it was crazy. Um, so I kind of fell into that way. And then, uh, uh, riding has kind of been that thing, that vein that’s been common to everything I’ve done in my career. And so I’ve, I’ve hope hopefully in getting better and better at it. So anyway, that’s, that’s cool. Those are some cool stories. So we’re gonna post, uh, the great poem that Mia did and Taylor’s story on being a ballerina and a baseball player at the same time on the show notes. Now I’m joking. I’m joking. We’re not.
Mark Whitlock (00:09:34): So we’re, we’re talking about the tools for writing, how to be a better writer, how to write better marketing copy, that gets better results. And so let’s talk about some stuff. We all have stuff on our desk or things on our desk or resources on our desk that are the go-to things that we use, or maybe our desktop would be a better way to say that on our computers. So Mia what’s, what’s something on your desk or your desktop, that’s a go-to resource for you that helps you get writing projects started.
Mia Major (00:10:02): So besides my Ernest Hemingway inspired method of writing, which involves chugging a bottle of tequila or writing, I would say my inspirational pens and my day planner, I feel like I’m the type of person. And I feel like my phone, I’m the type of person where like, I’ll be on a run or a walk with my dog and I’ll have this great idea for a blog. And I like need to write it down because I, and it never happens to me. I feel like when I’m sitting at my desk, I have written so many blogs on like the notepad on my phone, like literally dripping wet out of the shower. Like I just had this great idea. So, um, I don’t know what people did before them. Like I imagine they had to get out of the shower and like fully dry themselves off and write down their ideas. And for them, their idea was probably just gone at that point. Cause that’s usually what happens to me. It’s like, if I don’t do it in that moment, then it’s not going to be remembered. But definitely I love my little inspirational pens, anything to braid my space, despite what you might see in this very bland background behind me.
Mark Whitlock (00:11:00): Yeah. So I, I, I’m a, I’m a book guy. I actually have physical books. Um, and most of the time I never even crack them anymore, but they’re there to inspire me. Uh, for instance, I, even though I’ve only read like two of his novels, I’ve got Stephen King’s excellent book on writing, that’s there. And you know what? This book reminds me to stop using adverbs stop using L Y words cause he preaches a long, long sermon in a chapter on that as well as just, um, it also tells another story about an uncle who had a toolbox as massive toolbox. It was incredibly heavy to carry. And when he would go to fix a window like a window screen or something, he carried this entire big, massive toolbox. And the point that Stephen King makes in the book is that take all of your tools with you to whatever you’re writing, no matter how small or big make sure you have all of your tools there.
Mark Whitlock (00:11:51): So don’t, um, the way I would translate it is don’t write a Facebook post without at least thinking about it. As a writer, don’t write anything. A thank you note always be a writer because you’re always having a chance to hone your craft. So always take your tools with you. And then I have a dictionary and a thesaurus. And my favorite, the source of all time is the synonym finder. I don’t know if you guys know this or not. Now again, I haven’t opened this in all that time. We’re going to be talking about one of our tools later on that I use every day, but I keep this to remind myself to use better words along the way. And a friend of mine who, uh, uh, always got made, made jokes out of me using big words that I probably shouldn’t ever use bought me this for my birthday one year, it’s the highly selective dictionary for the extraordinary literate. And again, I can’t even understand half of what’s in here, but it’s fun to have on my desk and to look at and to remind myself not to be hoity toity. So anyway, those are the things that are literally in my line of sight when I’m writing to help me out. How about you Taylor?
Taylor Underwood (00:12:56): Um, so as far as physical items, I don’t have too much on my desk. Um, I’m working on three small desk in my home office, but I, uh, I have my, my notebook and, um, I’m pretty formulaic. So I make the same to-do list every week. And then on the other side, there’s a blank page. And, um, as I’m, whatever I’m crafting, I typically, um, have to go to that blank page to jot down a few things, to get my brain going. Um, once I start a project or once I’m just playing around with different words. Um, and, and so that’s, that’s how I operate every week. And, um, and then do we want to talk about stuff on like what my browsers or anything just sure.
Mark Whitlock (00:13:38): Yeah. Yeah. So that are our go-to is go for it.
Taylor Underwood (00:13:42): Um, you may have, uh, you may, we’re going to talk about this as well, but a word hippo is my synonym finder. So that’s the bookmarks I have. Um, just if I get stuck on a word that I’ve used three times and need stop using, I go into word hippo and try to find a synonym that’s normally pretty helpful and that’s a free resource, right? It is. Yup.
Mark Whitlock (00:14:07): So super fast, cool way to find good words,
Taylor Underwood (00:14:10): Right? Yeah. There’ll be a lot faster in the synonym finder
Mark Whitlock (00:14:17): For sure. So how about you, Anna? What’s what’s surrounding you. What’s something that you are always are always reaching for.
Anna Grimes (00:14:26): Well, Mark contemporaneous to your sometimes almost insidious use of, of nomenclature that can get a little esoteric. Um, I think, uh, no, I’m, I’m kidding. I think, uh, that what I, ironically enough, I do, I’m like you, I have books that I haven’t cracked in a long time. This is The Handbook of Wood English. I don’t know if you can see that. Um,
Anna Grimes (00:14:52): And then my Strunk and White is around here somewhere, but I think we, uh, um, my husband and I teach Sunday school and we were, we were doing a session and on Sunday and they were saying, you know, um, you know, we were talking about books that inspire us. And so Tom has, so I think my Strunk and White is in the other room, but Strunk and White, it’s usually around here and for the audience that doesn’t know what that means is, um, this was for kids who went to college. When I went to college, I’ll just put it that way. This was like on every, you know, if you were an English or a history major, this was always a book that your teacher was asking you to buy. And so, you know, so mine, um, my first one actually just fell apart. So this is, uh, uh, I think that’s Tom’s version of it, but it was written by, um, white and Alan Strunk, I think. And, um, ed white, of course, who wrote, um, Charlotte’s web and Stuart little and, um, but he was a longtime editor for the new Yorker and he, uh, it’s just about how to, um, write clearly and plainly and authoritatively. And if that’s not what you need to be writing, good marketing copy. I don’t know what is so strong and white handbook of good English. And I’ll have to say, um, just like Shakespeare used, the Bible has got some great similes metaphors and, and yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s always here. I’m a big Oxford annotated version and there’s about 900 different versions of the Bible, but that’s the one I liked, um,
Mark Whitlock (00:16:33): Idioms have entered the English language that most people don’t even know the source of it. And it’s from,
Anna Grimes (00:16:38): Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Yep. Yep. Um, I’ve actually got that book too that says, you know, here’s the, it has the list of all the biblical idioms that we have. So,
Mark Whitlock (00:16:50): All right, before we get it, we’re going to talk about research, but before we dive into that here, here’s a question I didn’t warn you guys about, and that is brainstorming. Are there any tools that you guys love for brainstorming or getting the creative juices flowing when you need them when you’re, when you feel it, when you feel stuck, anything along those lines while you guys are thinking, go ahead and yeah,
Mia Major (00:17:11): I have one. So one of my favorite brainstorming tools is Google. Um, so I’m a typical marketer, right? Like I have nothing inspiring your creative to say no, but I, one of my favorite keyword research tools, or just ways to start brainstorming is like, let’s say, I want to write a blog this year has been really tough for us as I’m sure it has been for a lot of people because there isn’t that same amount of keyword research that there once was for old blogs. Right? So we work with schools and, um, I can give you one example where back in March or April, I wrote a blog on virtual graduation ceremonies that blog in and of itself had like 500,000 views this year. And it got,
Mia Major (00:17:50): It was insane and it just like blew up. But I just like wrote that out of like the, Oh, people are going to have to have virtual graduations. Like that’s just a matter of life right now. But if you actually back in April and March, when we were trying to come up with a word for the blog, there was no keyword research around it, but we’ve actually had a very difficult year trying to come up with what to write with, but what I’ve actually leaned on quite a bit is just going to Google itself and saying like how to do blank. And when you start typing in anything, Google predicts what you’re trying to say, but it does that based on Google trends data. So what a lot of people are searching for right now. So while you’re not going to get that same historical keyword data, it’s a really good way to brainstorm.
Mia Major (00:18:28): So for me, it’s like, if I know I need to write something or I want to write something on giving Tuesday or Thanksgiving email marketing or anything, but I just don’t even know like how to get started. I almost always start in Google. Um, another way that I brainstorm is I like crawl Facebook groups. I look at the questions, people are asking the comments, people are making a see if I can formulate that into anything. Um, and I feel like if both of those yield no results, I just result to a good old fashioned zoom meeting. Some of my favorite colleagues to see if we can come up with something. But I think when it comes to topics, I think I can almost always come up with something based on what I find in a Facebook group or what is, um, what Google is telling me. People care about it in this exact moment.
Anna Grimes (00:19:15): Yeah. I, I would, I would concur with the search engine, um, Google, uh, uh, tool. Um, but, but also just for research, cause it’s like, okay, I’m trying to express this and then I need to support it with this. And then Google can be really helpful when I’m like, I don’t even know if this statistic exists, but, but it can be really helpful. And just by doing that, it clarifies your own thinking. So it’s kind of a brainstorm tool there. My other brainstorm tool and just overall is just the notes function that on my laptop. I mean, I use that all the time for grocery lists for packing lists, but also for, I mean, I was just, just before we got on this call, I was working on a new business plan for a client and I’m coming up with a new tagline and I just was like, I was like, all right. And I set the timer for X number of minutes. I was like, write as many words that you can just word salad. And so I just put the word salad on there and it’s just, and then I, I got off of that to get on this call. And so I’m going to go back and look at that and go what, but it, but it’s kind of like what you were saying. Um, Mia is, I just had to get it down, you know, before it like left my brain,
Mark Whitlock (00:20:38): I would say the timer on my, my iPhone is one of my favorite tools. I will give myself a goal of, you know, get out and get off the dime you got to this. So here’s five minutes, you know, try to write whatever you’ve got to write in five minutes and try to get it done. Uh, and again, and then going back to another book, one of the things I love too, is a whack on the side of the head by Roger VanEck. And this book came out in 1983, if that tells you anything. But, uh, I use this book, uh, I use the point and click method, so to speak, I’ll flip it up in any page and pointed at the page and I’ll read what he has to say. And this is just a book of creative, uh, exercises. It’s kind of his methodology.
Mark Whitlock (00:21:17): It’s just full of exercises and I’ll, I’ll take his, uh, his advice to heart. I also do, what’s called photo storming. It’s where I’ll look at a photo, I’ll go to, um, like Unsplash or, um, stock photos or somewhere, anywhere on the website. And I’ll put in the search, like when I’m writing about, and it’ll bring up pictures that have those keywords associated with it, and I’ll be inspired by the picture. If it’s got a person in it, what’s that person doing? Where’s that person going? What’s that person thinking? Um, why are the colors of the way they are? And it gets me out of the sense of, I have to come up with five ways to do X or, um, something like that. It gets me to remember, you know, what’s going on and if it’s symbolic, it gives me shapes or symbols to, uh, to start thinking about. And I like photo storming a lot. Um, I also talk out loud. I use the voice memos on my iPhone all the time. I won’t necessarily write down notes, but I will use voice memos. And, uh, then I use rev to translate those. I mean, transcribe those for me, uh, later. So I do a lot of brainstorming on voice memos as well. How about you Taylor? Anything you wanted to add to that discussion?
Taylor Underwood (00:22:30): Yeah, I’d say, um, Twitter is pretty helpful for me and just kind of knowing where my client’s trade publications are, which ones are important to them and their industry and checking in on those publications, checking in on their Twitter accounts, hashtags, seeing what people are talking about, what if I’ve missed any big news that would be relevant. Um, and as always on top of that, so we’ll check in with her too. And, um, she’s a great person to brainstorm with, especially when it comes to healthtech and making sure that we understand the bigger picture, because when you understand the bigger picture of what’s going on in the industry, then you can figure out where does your client fit into that bigger picture and then figure out your angle from there.
Mark Whitlock (00:23:15): And that leads us. Go ahead, Anna.
Anna Grimes (00:23:18): I was just going to say that and healthcare is, is unusual. I think, you know, people talk about health, Twitter, healthcare, Twitter, or medical Twitter. Um, you know, you can find those subgroups kind of like Mia was saying with Facebook groups. Um, but a lot of those thought leaders are very active on Twitter. Um, and so, and I, I hear that, um, legal is too, um, I’m just not as involved in that, but, um, but yeah, for, for to support to Taylor’s point is I’ll, I’ll hop on Twitter to say, okay, well, what’s over here, got waves, got to say with Craig Topo talking about today, what’s, uh, dr. Halanka doing and, you know, um, uh, the guy who just left Cleveland clinic, whose name I just lost in my head, but, um, you know, and then of course Kaiser health news and, um, Liz Xevo and, and folks like that, just, you know, what are they writing about? What’s going on that, you know, maybe it’s not about, COVID amazing.
Mark Whitlock (00:24:17): Yeah. And that’s a, it’s a good chance to pause right here. And we’ll, we’ll do a couple of things here in case you’re finding us on LinkedIn or YouTube and streaming this, let me tell you a little bit about who we are. Golden spiral is a full service marketing agency based out of Nashville, Tennessee. And we specialize in the health tech space, those who are creating software or other technological solutions to improve healthcare. And we’ve been doing this type of integrated marketing, full service marketing across the spectrum with a great integrated team for almost eight years. And we’re also the host of studio CMO, which you can find on any podcast platform you want. And we’ve had some of the strongest leaders, the strongest marketing executives in our space as guests on our show. So hope you’ll get a chance to, uh, come check that out. Subscribe the studio, CMO, check out golden spiral marketing.com as well. And Mia, tell us about finals.
Mia Major (00:25:14): Ah, thanks, Mark. Um, so final say we are, um, a, the preferred marketing and communications platform. So we’re more than 5,000 schools around the world. So what we do is we provide award-winning and digitally accessible designs, uh, website designs, and then as powered by an easy to use content management system. And we have hundreds of partners and integrations to basically help your school, tell its story and recruit and retain new families. So we work with all different types of schools, public schools, private schools, international schools, charters. Um, we really take a lot of pride in serving the education market, especially in 2020 and beyond where things are just changing by the minute. And it’s been great to partner with so many schools and just help them elevate their story and improve their communications during this time where communications have never been more important.
Mark Whitlock (00:26:06): The, and you can link to, uh, both golden spiral marketing.com and final site.com from the show notes. So come to studio, cmo.com/writing tools, studio cmo.com/writing tools. And if you’re driving and listening to this or doing other things, that’s your verbal cue. So you can remember where to go on the web, uh, later on. So let’s dive into some research failure. You’ve got some great thoughts about, uh, how you research, uh, for what you’re writing for the marketing writing you’re doing. So walk us through some of those ideas.
Taylor Underwood (00:26:40): Sure. Um, typically if we can get an with our clients, um, that is a great first step and to hear from their mouths, what, um, what they’re seeing as the biggest trends and how they respond to it. Um, we also have a list of third-party research organizations that we have on the golden spiral blog that I’ll reference. And that’s from consulting firms, research organizations, um, trade publications, and broken out into different categories. Um, it’s pretty important to have, make sure you’re not just talking from your own perspective, but pulling in, um, credible research and, and third party opinions so that you can support, uh, your overall thesis. Um, so I, it, every blockbuster right, is got to have a few of those. So those are the standard places. I look, Deloitte, Accenture, PWC, um, you know, kind of those are the big guys like that. And then getting into like healthcare, it news, modern healthcare, um, for yourself care and those kinds of publications.
Mark Whitlock (00:27:43): And we’ll be linking to that article from the show notes as well. So just come on over to studio, cmo.com/writing tools, and you can link out to the article on top research organizations. Great. Who wants to go next?
Anna Grimes (00:28:00): Uh, I’ll give it a shot. Um, you know, a lot of times it, it does really help if you can, if you can engage with, uh, certainly the client, but if the client can also then, um, direct you to an expert within their organization. So sometimes the client, you know, so for us, it’s, we’re a marketing agency. We, we generally have one point of contact with the client and, but there’s lots of subject matter experts at the client. And so it really helps when you can talk to one of those folks and, and, um, and they, it’s, it’s funny because they’ll, they’ll all go, Oh, well, you know, they get really nervous about being interviewed, et cetera, et cetera. But, um, once you can kind of get beyond that barrier and people love to talk about what they do. And so, uh, just get getting them comfortable. And, and you’ll often find that you may, you may get an insight from them that may or may not be relevant to that particular blog topic or that particular white paper you’re writing, but it, it might sort of spark another blog post or, or what have you that’s happened many times. Um, so I do think that that primary research of interview is really valuable. Um, and again, you may not use all of it. You may not use any of it, but it certainly helps, um, set the groundwork for what you’re trying to do. Um, and then I’ll just echo what Taylor says, which is, you know, um, we are mostly just not able to get out and do the kind of networking in the same way that we did before, but, um, there’s lots of available online tools to help you get your research uh jump-started and, uh, to sustain it.
Anna Grimes (00:29:49): And we’ve talked a lot about a lot of those already, but, um, I would just add that, um, a lot of these, like, you know, PWC, Accenture, these are all those former accounting firms. Who’ve now diversified into management consulting and sort of becoming quiz, I think, tanks. Um, they’re really thinking about that big picture. Another is to think about, uh, the analyst reports that you can that are not behind a paywall, um, that are not gated from IDC and Gartner and Forrester. Um, and then in the health tech space, uh, Kloss does a lot of research reading things like leapfrog surveys for hospitals. Um, those can all help inform, um, again, we’re, we’re talking specifically health care, but, but I’m sure there are counterparts in other, uh, subject matter areas, uh, to draw from.
Mark Whitlock (00:30:49): Cool. So research for me, uh, starts, and we were all assuming this already, and that’s one of those crazy things because, uh, it’s all built into our marketing DNA, so to speak. And that is just a deep, deep understanding of the customer. I always start there. And at golden spiral, we have a proprietary system called the buyer matrix, where we get into the mind of, uh, of our customer. I would say that it’s, it’s, uh, akin to a cat scan. It’s, it’s really, really deep analysis as opposed to looking at them through a binocular. And, uh, it gets us, uh, that deep into understanding who, who the customer is. And so if we’re not writing out of an understanding of who the end user is, the end writer and reader is then, uh, we, uh, we don’t, we don’t really have any business writing. So that’s, that’s where my stuff begins because I’m writing marketing material, unlike Taylor and Anna, you’re writing for our clients, uh, I’m primarily writing for us and creating content for us. And so I have a different audience, uh, to be aware of and a different, different group of people. So I always start there and I use a lot of the same resources. How about you? Tell me about your research process
Mia Major (00:32:04): And mine’s pretty similar to yours too. I think what’s really interesting about working at finals site is we really are the known thought leader in the space. So I think we have quite a, I feel like in a lot of ways, we’re similar to HubSpot, like people who don’t use us, even in our market, come to our website to read our blog. We end up creating a lot of research ourself. We have a database of more than 5,000 clients. So we’re able to release data on, you know, email marketing, benchmarks, inbound marketing benchmarks. The usually do annual reports on marketing communications. Social media is that we actually be the source of what other people are researching for. Um, but all of that does STEM from understanding what our, what our clients need and our clients want. Um, another huge part of my research is, um, a lot of what we talk about is obviously marketing communications related, but also web design related.
Mia Major (00:32:56): So we launched about 300 new websites every single year. And with those 300 new launches come, lots of things that you look at, you go and love things that you look at. And you’re like, wow, that’s really cool. So I think that there’s always this mix of my research. Like every time a new website launches, I go and I look at it and, you know, you might see a trend of good things. You might see a trend of bad things that either inspires you to write a blog about mistakes and how to fix them or a blog about something that’s really new and upcoming that everyone should be doing. So I think a lot of my research stems from just what’s going on. I think what’s, and I’m sure it’s like this in every field, but what’s in the school field in particular, these people who are like managing websites and writing blogs and sending emails are seriously like one person shops that are also doing under in one other things.
Mia Major (00:33:46): So, you know, whatever I’m writing a blog, I never, ever, ever want to put out a blog that just says like, this is the research. Or like, this is the concept. No one finds that helpful in 2020. It’s like, yes, I already knew that. That’s how I ended up here. It’s like, I want it. I want to know. So if I’m researching a topic, like I need to be able to tell someone like what the issue is, how they can solve it, and then exact examples of what it looks like when it’s solved. Like, don’t just tell me, I need to lose weight. Tell me exactly the foods I need to be eating every single day and the exact exercise to do. And then maybe I’ll do it. You’re going to, there’s a much higher chance that I’m going to do it if you give me precise directions.
Mia Major (00:34:29): So I think for me a huge part of my research is making sure I can put those three pieces together. And if I can’t, unfortunately I don’t write the blog until I can put those three pieces together. Um, and sometimes that means serving our clients and getting some internal research. Sometimes it means leaning on our client success team and being like, Hey, do you have any examples of, um, great landing pages from clients? I can’t find any, do you have any? And then I have to wait for those. So a lot of pieces, but I, I, uh, take a lot of pride in the content that we put out at final site, because we don’t like to put out anything that’s just fluff. Like we really try to be super helpful. Um, so a lot of research goes into everything at all, all ends of the spectrum there,
Anna Grimes (00:35:10): Mark, go ahead. I was just gonna say, um, I think, uh, Mia brings up a really good point about the data. I think our marketers are awash in data and kind of to her point about don’t tell me that I need to lose weight. Show me what foods. I think one of the biggest jobs for any writer in the marketing space is to take all of this data and make sense of it for them. So that means though, is the onus is on us for whatever writing assignment comes to us is we have to have a crystal clear understanding of what this piece of content is supposed to do. You know, who are we writing for? Why are we doing it now? When does it have to come out? How long does it have to be? What are the major points to make? And, and, but the big thing is why are we doing this? And, and I think then it makes it easier to then, then you can eliminate a lot of that and it makes the task seem less daunting. But I think too, we, you know, we, we were talking about how wonderful Google is in terms of helping us brainstorm, et cetera, et cetera. But sometimes Google is like, there’s just too much out there. So I do think it’s helpful to, to really have that conversation with yourself or your team, or however your workflow, uh, uh, processes to just really catch that thematic understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Mark Whitlock (00:36:42): Our CEO, John Farkas is often fond of saying, I want to make meaning, or let me make meaning out of that. Or I’m looking asks our podcast guests. So make some meaning out of that. That’s an interesting phrase. And I think it that’s, our job is to make meaning out of all of the data we had. [inaudible] who is the CMO for survey monkey on episode 27 of studio CMS, you go to studio cmo.com/zero two seven, and you can hear the interview with Leila. And we talked a lot about how companies need to do that core research. The final site does to be able to have that database, not only to, um, peruse your own contacts, but to ask like-minded people or who have similar needs to get a larger base of information, to be able to market out of a sense of knowledge out of a sense of, Hey, we’ve looked into the magic ball and we know what, what needs to be said, and here here’s what’s going on. So if you’re interested in doing more research on your own contacts or on, uh, context, similar to yours, uh, check out that episode of studio CMO Taylor, I think I interrupted you by accident. Where were you going to say?
Mia Major (00:37:51): I think it was me. I was going to, um, just try him into and kind of reiterate what we were speaking about earlier in the episode too, is just the fact that this is a year to create research. That I often find that when I’m trying to write about a topic like case in point, and again, I’m not writing about things for the healthcare industry or the tech industry. My stuff is much fluffier. So, um, I was reading a lot of Facebook groups that, uh, people are having a lot of issues, boosting morale with parents, teachers, because everyone’s like major burnout. So other than just saying like, you know, whatever, it’s, let’s celebrate Christmas early, we’re just, we’re done now. Um, I put a blog post together ways to celebrate your community the month of November, nothing exists because no one has done this before.
Mia Major (00:38:40): There was no data on how important it is. There’s no data from our clients of past performance. There’s hardly any examples. And the examples I can find from previous years are so lackluster because you’re not sharing gratitude in the same way. Yes. You’re just sending a simple email that says happy thing. We’re so glad you’re part of our community, but the message this year needs to be so much stronger. So I find, at least in our realm, a lot of the times we’re writing a blog it’s we don’t even have any research to go off of. Like, I’m just sitting there like making things up, just like this seems like a good idea. Like you should give this a try. Um, and that’s actually what happened with our virtual graduation blog back in March and April and it took off and, um, we ended up getting really good feedback out of it, but I think that’s kind of, my caveat is don’t be afraid to be the first person to write about something.
Mia Major (00:39:30): Um, or don’t be afraid to put it out there. I think that you can put it out there and be willing to say, Hey, look, these are just our thoughts. These are some ideas. Um, does it take them, leave them? Like, hopefully even if you get nothing out of this post, maybe it just inspires you. Maybe that’s your leapfrog moment. You’re like, okay, I know I need to celebrate my community this November. Um, the drive gratitude parade and the cheers for peers, postcards totally didn’t resonate with me, but I, that had inspired me to do something else. So I think when the research doesn’t exist, don’t think that that’s because it’s not important. I think we’re in a time where a lot of the research we’re looking for to answer questions does not exist and it’s a really good time to create it yourself. Right.
Anna Grimes (00:40:10): And I think a clear, bold assertion of any kind, a clear, bold assertion is the cornerstone of leadership. And, and you know, where we are is, is again, uh, our CEO, John Fargus says it’s a noisy place, you know, marketecture, um, MarTech and marketing is a pretty noisy place. So when you can just say, you know what, I don’t know, let’s just see what we can come up with. Um, and of course that takes me back to my early career days when we didn’t have all of this research. So we were making stuff up all the time. I think that’s what people did, like at least in the nineties, like I’m a nineties baby. I’m pretty sure that was like the decade of winging things. Like it was just on the cusp of research being readily available, but people were just like, we’re just going to keep, keep going par for the course here.
Mark Whitlock (00:41:10): All right. Before we shift gears and talk about the actual craft of writing and the process of actually writing what we need to write, I got to pop a pop-up question for everybody. Uh, one of my writing mentors talks about that some writers are plotters P L O T T E R S plotters or were outliners. And some are pantsers P a N T S E R S. Meaning they, they by the seat of their pants. So I’m a pantser I ride by the seat of my pants. All right. How about you, Taylor? Are you a plotter or a, pantser
Taylor Underwood (00:41:42): Definitely a plotter. Um, I don’t do anything by the seat of my pants. Uh, yeah, so that was, that’s one of my knee. The next step in my writing process is always to get all of my research together in a Google doc and then, um, build out my outline from there so that I, I know where I’m headed.
Mark Whitlock (00:42:04): Cool. Anna, how about you? Um,
Anna Grimes (00:42:07): I’m a plantser.
Anna Grimes (00:42:14): Um, so, and, and we’ll get to this in, in the actual writing process, but if I’m writing a white paper or an ebook, I have got my index cards, you know, I am saying, okay, I need to make this point and this point and this point and I number them and then I move it around because then I go, I don’t know if that works and the da, and then I’ll, I’ll write from that. I borrow, um, me as technique all the time where I start in the middle and I write out. Um, so, so, and then as I was referenced in the job that I had to do just now, I mean, that was just put stuff down, get it done because someone was relying on me to get some stuff back to them. And so I didn’t have time to write an outline. Um, and of course, you know, which brings to mind my, my favorite quote, which has mostly been attributed to Twain, which is, you know, I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I’m writing you a long one, but, um, anyway, come up, plants are,
Mark Whitlock (00:43:18): Yeah, for me, I have to have to write before I get a plot, I have to write before I have my outline, know what I’m going to say? So anyway, how about you?
Mia Major (00:43:28): I feel like, you know, I’m a, pantser like, I just I’m all over the place, but I feel like for those listening, I there’s, no, there is so much plotting that goes into the actual content strategy. Like second of my time, where I’m putting together blog topics, that the seat of my pants. But if I know that I have to write a blog on email, workflow strategies, that work, I’m just starting out with my favorite workflow strategy that I know works, and I’m going to build it from there. I don’t want to be given a number. I don’t want to know that I have to come up with five because maybe I only come up with three. And I really don’t like, um, being confined by any sort of, yeah. I just, I want to be able to write for really that if I end up with 10 ideas or I end up with three, and I think that, you know, we’re kind of in the decade of listicles, you know, I’m like, I’m such a click baity log title writer. I wrote a blog last week. That was like eight house examples. That’ll make in-person events a thing of the past.
Mark Whitlock (00:44:22): I was just like, I would read that. But, but how that blog started
Mia Major (00:44:32): Was I just had on the blog calendar, it was just virtual open houses and it kind of started like, well, what am I going to say about virtual open houses, then finding all these good examples. And they’re all kind of good in the same way. And it kind of just felt like a really good opportunity to celebrate everyone. But I feel like if someone told me I had to write a blog on virtual open house examples, it would have issued in a totally other mindset than what the blog ended up as. Um, and the blog actually landed me to speaking opportunities this month. So I feel like great. It’s a really good, I don’t know, planting or pants dancing works for me in the writing world. Um,
Mark Whitlock (00:45:08): Yeah. So Mia, what type of tools do you use in the actual writing process? What are, what are some things that you’re, you’ve always have open on your screen or are always thinking about as you go through your writing process?
Mia Major (00:45:20): My gosh, I feel like I’m pretty boring. I have a Google doc. Um, I have a Google doc running. I feel like I’m the type of person that when I sit down to write, I can write an entire blog, start to finish in like 90 minutes. And that’s like the actual writing of it. And then like, I go back in and I like add examples of research, but like, that’s kind of like my mission, my initial like flood. And I feel like it’s kind of how just like my brain works as a human being. Like if I’m dedicating my time to something or like, I want to say something, I’m just like, full-fledged all in like full on concentration, concentration, laser focus. And I feel like for those hour 90 minutes that Google it’s just me in that Google doc.
Mark Whitlock (00:45:58): Yeah. It’s an Anne Lamott crappy first draft. Right.
Mia Major (00:46:02): You know, and then I kinda like, um, and then after that I feel like that’s when tools like word hippo come in or research and client examples or grabbing the stats. Um, and I kind of do, and I liked what you said the very beginning. You’re like, I don’t even know if this stat exists yet. Like me Googling things like percentage of people who do X and you’re like, right. And then you find some like some rogue stat from some random website and you’re like, it was, it was all looks great. It’s fine. That’s fine. Someone agrees with me out there on the internet. You know, it’s kind of like when you’re texting, like you had an argument with someone like your significant other, and you’re texting all of your friends and the first one who agrees with you, you’re like, thank you. You validated my feelings.
Mia Major (00:46:41): All my other friends are like worthless. That’s basically what it’s saying. Data on Google is like, did you validate my feelings? Did you validate my feelings? Did you validate my thoughts? No, no, no. Got to find that one. Step one step that validates my thoughts for this blog post to make it worth it. Yeah. I would echo that except for, I do do one thing. If it’s older than 2018, I just go, okay. Probably not. I guess I go back to the drawing board on that one. Medic competitor is the competitors in the article. Can’t go with it.
Mark Whitlock (00:47:17): Lies, damned lies, and statistics. Yep. 83% of are made up and the other 17% are lies. What, now
Mia Major (00:47:24): That’s how it works. I’ve often felt like anytime I researched something on like HubSpot, like I’m
Mia Major (00:47:30): Just grabbing stats from them and I’m just like, but you’re still missing someone else. And that someone else is sourcing someone else. And someone else is like, where did this stat originate? Like, what is that like 10 degrees of separation? It’s like, you know,
Anna Grimes (00:47:45): Oh, I haven’t, I have a good story from Kevin bacon. Yeah.
Mia Major (00:47:56): I think that’s really a fact of life. It is exactly what you said is all stats originate from Kevin bacon.
Anna Grimes (00:48:07): So I do have a good story about that. And this was some years back. So, so for the listeners who may not be aware, um, natural, you know, up until the pandemic was, was going through quite a BoomTown phase and, and continues to do so. Um, and I was writing for, um, a fledgling health tech startup publication here in town. And, um, one of the things we were going to put in there was, Oh, you know, a hundred people a day are moving to Nashville. And, um, I remember telling my mother about it and my mother is a lifelong Nashvillian and she was like, I don’t think that’s true. And, and I was like, yeah. And then she got me going. And so I set out to try to honor it, that statistic. So, cause it was first, uh, I guess it was the national chamber, I guess, where I got it from or something.
Anna Grimes (00:49:03): I don’t know. Then I, then I got, so I got on their website and then I was like, okay, where did they source? Anyway, long story short. It was a single moving company. And so I called the moving company and they said, where did you get a hundred? And I said, well, uh, w I got this from the chamber? And they’re like, Oh my gosh, I had no idea. That’s what they were. So turns out the 100 was like, it was completely taken out of context. It had nothing to anyway. So long story short, the best way to, to determine, um, how many people are moving is not to call a single moving company and then extrapolate out from said, you get more notes. I was skeptical that because, but what it did is it kind of jarred me to say, why didn’t I question that I just went ahead and put it, you know? And then, so the next time we used it, I, I, I, I said, no, I’m not going to put that in there. And so then I, I think we ended up speaking of alternate statistics. So then I did call and get like some recent housing information from like the greater national association realtors or something, and, and was able to, to, to illustrate momentum
Anna Grimes (00:50:28): In a different way. That was a little bit more valid. And so long in the short of it is eight, a hundred people moving here every day.
Mark Whitlock (00:50:36): Well, that statistic has been quoted by everybody.
Mia Major (00:50:39): Yeah. I have Nashville websites like everywhere. Yep.
Taylor Underwood (00:50:47): So I think that is a good point though, to, I can sometimes get so eager to found what I think is a great supporting point that we, it is important to make sure that it’s the right right context, right? Yeah.
Mia Major (00:51:02): You got to do your best to do like your 10 degrees of separation. Like if you read a stat to try and figure out where it really was originally sourced from, because I think there’s so many people too who like, like HubSpot and I keep referring back to that, how the spikes, like everyone goes to HubSpot for marketing stats, HubSpot might source something and they just put source in quotes. You’re like, Oh, HubSpot quartered did inspired. And like, you actually clicked source. And it’s like something from 2012. And you’re like, so regularly, those eight years ago, HubSpot, like how many iPhones have there been since 2012? I don’t know if I had an iPhone in 2012, like, I don’t know, let’s call them national association
Mark Whitlock (00:51:45): And this is not an advertisement for an iPhone 12 pro or an iPhone 12 mini, just so everybody knows. That’s okay. So Taylor, how about your writing process, the actual sitting down and writing? What, what, what is, what do you want to say that hasn’t already been said?
Taylor Underwood (00:52:00): Yeah, I think that we’ve covered a lot of what I do, you know, really working in that Google doc and, um, planning out what I’m going to write. Um, you know, I’ll, I’ll use some other tools like the CoSchedule email subject line tester, which Mark, you introduced me to that. Um, and then hashtag find me, I think Anna used that as well to just see what else, um, hashtag to find me is good, just to make sure we’re using the right hashtags on social. Um, because that’s something I haven’t really talked about is, uh, social content development is also a process and it’s, um, something that takes longer, it takes a lot more thought than people think. Um, and it requires research and, um, just getting there, getting the right voice and, and hashtag defy me comes in really helpful there to make sure that we’re using the hashtags that are going to get found.
Mark Whitlock (00:52:55): One of the most helpful things for me as a pantser has actually been, um, a, uh, a template. Uh, so all of our blog posts that we published for golden spiral, I have a template, they have certain parts that we want to fill in certain objectives to meet. And so in essence, it’s a, it’s a checklist. Am I doing all the parts and pieces? And so I will go in and I’ll, um, I’ll steal the scene from the movie, finding Forrester and I’ll punch the cage, punch the keys for God’s sake. And, uh, I’ll get my crappy first draft done. And I’ll go back and go, wait a minute, clearly forgot about this. Completely forgot about that and begin to fill in those sections. So I find the template really helpful. Uh, and I have templates that I’ve developed for myself for social posts, for blog posts, for emails and other things.
Mark Whitlock (00:53:46): Uh, I don’t like checklists with actual boxes or lists of things. I like kind of having this, this blank sheet of paper with, you know, things on it that I can go and actually click in and, and fill things in. It helps my brain process. It’s not everybody’s processed, but it’s what helps me. Okay. So let’s talk about SEO. A lot of the things we’ve talked about already are important. They help you be found, which is the goal of, of a lot of this writing that we’re doing. You want your website to be found so that you can influence folks to, uh, use your solution or buy your product. So let’s talk about that. Some, um, how do we enrich what we write so that we’re found?
Mia Major (00:54:27): Ah, okay. So first thing I do want to put a disclaimer on it because I think that when you’re writing for any company, whether you’re an agency listening in and you’re writing for your clients, or, you know, you’re just a tech company listening in and you’re writing for yourself. You have to find a way to strike a balance between content that you writing for SEO and content that you’re just writing to be a thought leader and to resonate with your audience, not every single topic that you put out there Google cares about, but it might be something that your client base cares about or your prospective clients care about. And even though they’re not searching for it, you know, deep down, they care about it and maybe they’re just not searching for the right words to find it. So first things first, if you’re writing two or three times a week, I definitely encourage you to at least allow one of those blogs to always be something that’s just for your community.
Mia Major (00:55:14): It doesn’t have to be for SEO, right? You’re still going to get authority in the sense that you’re putting out good, long length authoritative content. You’re building up that website authority there. Um, I think that w I was a company blog can get very stale very quickly. When all you do is write, you know, five ways to improve X because we see that 500 people a month are searching for how to improve X, right? Like it’s, it’s a little boring, it’s a little mundane. Um, so when we’re writing for an SEO perspective, I think there are obviously some key things that we want to take into consideration. We want to take in consideration the actual blog title. Um, I am obsessed with the Uber suggest plugin, and I know, I know not everyone loves, uh, Uber suggest that they actually created this amazing Google Chrome plugin, where anytime you search for literally anything. So it’s actually very interesting in like my personal life when I’m searching for just like, I don’t know, Boston terrier rescues in Georgia. It’s like 340 people are also searching for this this month. So I like live and die by that Uber suggest tool because it tells me the search volume of certain keywords and that really helped shape title. And also the keywords that I want to use throughout my blog. Right.
Mark Whitlock (00:56:26): Is that a premium plugin or is it free? Hopefully
Mia Major (00:56:30): Like the best it is the best free SEO tool. You can use it as a plugin. You go to Google, you search for anything. It pulls up the search volume, the cost per click, and then any related keywords in their search warrant, the best free keyword research tool out there. Um, I’m obsessed with it. I feel like it does, especially on like a blog by blog. Things is like, if all you’re doing is blog keyword research, and like, you’re on like a budget. You don’t need like SEM rush. Um, as the MRX, Russia’s great for competitor research and overall SEO strategy. But I think if you’re working on like a blog to blog base like basis, the whole team here loves using Uber suggest. Cause I’m just like, okay, I need to write a blog on, you know, virtual admissions. I’m searching for all of the things related to that to see where that keyword volume is, where that cost per click is and build a strategy from there.
Mia Major (00:57:14): So, um, I’m always basing my title off whatever keyword I need to get in there in some way, shape or form. And then of course, we’re integrating that keyword throughout the blog post. Um, we want to make sure that keyword, uh, is also in the URL and that it matches. And I’m a huge advocate of removing any fluff from the URL. So words like to, and, but getting down to just the basics. So if you’re like me and you love writing, click baity titles, eight virtual open house, examples that’ll make in person events, a thing of the past, please do not make that your URL, URL, virtual open house examples. It’s really all you need to do. Um, some other things that randomly help with SEO that you probably wouldn’t think of consistent grammar, Google will crawl your blog. And if you make spelling mistakes or use, um, inconsistent heading.
Mia Major (00:58:02): So if you use sentence casing and one of your headings and title casing and another one of your headings, Google’s like they’re inconsistent. They can’t be trusted. Um, so consistent use of the Oxford comma, consistent use of title casing versus sentence casing. Um, the websites that you’re linking out to make sure they’re not spammy, um, putting, if you are doing like a listicle article, like three, five, 10, 2100 things that you need to do list out those things at the beginning and create jump links to those portions of the blog. So if you want to land a spot at the top of Google, um, especially in one of those, and I’m losing the name of it, but it’s like when you search for something and like the box comes up right away. And I cannot remember the exact
Mark Whitlock (00:58:46): Names. This is crazy.
Mia Major (00:58:48): Yeah. The pre thing. Yeah. The preview thing. And it like, it showcases one blog. We land so many of those in Google because we make that list at the top. And like, there’s always like those really formulaic, SEO things you’re going to put in your blog. It’s like, and it kills me as a writer to write that I’m just like, and this blog, you’re going to learn eight ways to improve your virtual open house. The eight ways are one, two, three. And I’m just like, am I seriously writing this? Like mr. Turner would be so disappointed, but let me tell you that. That’s what gets you to the, of Google, your cute little anecdote about your puppy and your dog. Google. Don’t give a crap that yes, the writer in you wants to write about Google doesn’t care, your intro paragraphs, skip the fluff. Okay.
Mia Major (00:59:33): If you need to rank in Google, no one wants to hear about your dogs, your kids, your love for hallmark movies. The fact that you’re putting up your Christmas decorations early, no one cares. Well, your readers might care. Google does not save that for like the fluff in the middle, but do not put it in your intro. Paragraph rant over there. I had to go back and redo a lot. I had to go back and redo a lot of my old blogs that I wrote, I’d say between 2015 and 2018. Cause we started a lot of our blogs that way. And while the blogs were ranking really well, we were waking like two or three. And by simply making that switch of me getting rid of my fluff at the beginning and just being like, hello, we are here today to talk about X. Here are the X examples and linking those up.
Mia Major (01:00:15): Like we got into the like number one spot pretty instantly like the second Google crawled it. So I think, um, it’s really hard as a writer sometimes like, let go of your ego and be like, that’s not all I want to, right? Like, this is so bad. Like it literally kills me as a human being as writer, every time I read a sentence like that. But if you are writing for SEO and you’re writing to rank in search, you’ve got to let go of the fluff. Sometimes even though like, you know, as a writer, the fluff is what makes your writing compelling. So
Mark Whitlock (01:00:42): We revamped the entire top end of our blog articles on purpose in order to absorb a lot of the same types of ideas and advice that me is giving. So it’s worth doing work there. Yeah.
Mia Major (01:00:56): Yeah. And I think we usually try to save like a lot of like our fluff for like within the examples. Um, or like within the steps or within the tips, or even just like the meta-description or if you send out a blog digest or you posted on social that’s when you can use all of those anecdotes. Um, we also host a school marketing show. So we have like a show. We go on, live on Facebook every Mondays. And I feel like when we do the school marketing show, that’s when we have a lot of our personality and anecdotes. But then in the blog post it’s very like black and white. It’s like, hi, we were fun on TV, but we are not fun when we write, cause this must rank number one.
Anna Grimes (01:01:29): Right, right. No, messing around.
Mia Major (01:01:32): This is like, like, I really care about you having a great Thanksgiving, but also I need to be number one in Google. So like kind of find the balance. Um, right. And so I think that’s key. Yeah.
Anna Grimes (01:01:45): It’s sort of like, you know, fun parent versus non-fun parent. Um, and so, so like, you know, the old, um, modern family story of like, she turns to Claire turns to her husband and she goes, yeah, this is the kid whose parents send him to school with a hundred dollar bill. There’s two fun parents. Can’t have two fun parents, only one fun parent that we are writing blogs. You, you need to be the unfun parent, but you can be the fun parent when you’re writing, you know, like you said, but, but I would also, it kind of goes back to what you were saying earlier of
Anna Grimes (01:02:20): You need to absolutely write for SEO, but there are times, and that’s when you can, you know, really unleash your creative juices when you’re writing for your community. And, and you’re sort of set aside. So I think, I think that’s a very healthy balance to maintain is, look, you’ve got to get your, you got to get your site ranking. That’s why we’re here. But at the same time, you’re also here to build a community and, and our clients rely on us to be able to do both.
Mia Major (01:02:48): Yeah, I think too one critical piece that we left out. Cause I feel like in my mind I’ve been so hard focused on blogs. Like emails are another really good place to showcase. What about the GIFs without the memes, the emojis, um, you know, talk like a human and I think emails are really good place to do that. And that’s a really nice way to be like, here’s our fluffer Nutter and here’s our very strategic blog posts.
Mark Whitlock (01:03:14): Good points. Good points. All right, Taylor, I know you’ve done a lot of work, uh, writing SEO, critical information, anything you wanted to add to, uh, the Blitzkrieg of SEO content. We’ve just had
Taylor Underwood (01:03:27): Sure. Um, at Golden Spiral, we have the fortunate opportunity to be an integrated team. So I’m quick to turn to the SEO experts that we have here and get their input. Um, we work really closely and when we’re planning out our editorial calendars, um, it’s not just, Oh, here’s a topic. It’s, here’s a topic that aligns with this set of keywords that our SEO experts have researched heavily and have identified as your top opportunities. And so we do all of our content planning and air table, um, which helps us have that integrated approach because I have all the keywords are in there. Um, and then all of the other elements of who’s the who’s the buyer, um, what phase of the funnel are they in? And so I can line it all up and make sure that, um, we have a good balance of hitting different buyers if hitting different phases in the funnel and then also a good content, uh, keyword mix. Um, and then we also rely heavily on Google analytics and reporting to be able to look and see which blog posts or which pages on the site are ranking well and being able to pull in, um, some of those similar themes and new content, because we know it’s what people are going to. So, um, using that data to inform our decisions, um, and from a content development perspective is really important.
Mia Major (01:04:55): Sorry, I know I’m like I have a hard stop, but I want to keep talking, keep talking. I felt like Taylor brought up one of my favorite, I think as if you’re a company that has an established blog, but you still feel like you’re not ranking well in search and you’re trying to get to the bottom of it. I think Google analytics is a great way to track which blogs are popular, but a way that we’ve been able to identify low-hanging fruit is getting
Mia Major (01:05:18): That report of all of the terms that we ranked for and saying like, okay, we’re ranking one, two and three for these like, that’s good, those are golden, but like, why are we ranking number five for this? And then looking to see if our competitors are ranking higher for it instead. And those are the blogs that we focus on, especially if they have a high keyword volume. So I think it’s like finding that balance of the keyword volume, what you need to write about what your competitors are writing about. But I don’t think that they’re at least here at finals Inn. I know at golden spiral too, there isn’t like a single blog post that gets written where it’s not like, okay, there’s people searching for this, people care about it. And um, you know, it’s going to help us and help our clients. And I think, um, if you can take the time, I think now is a really good time, like the end of the year to work with your in-house team or work with your agency, or, um, get to work with someone like that and get that report of all the pages that you’re ranking for get those reports of who your competitors are ranking for and use that as a launching pad for just some low-hanging fruit, because I think it’s one thing.
Mia Major (01:06:23): And again, you might be just starting out and writing and obviously that’s a totally different animal, but for us at Finalsite, that was a really easy way to increase our performance and search and improve our performance in search and increase the number of pages we had ranking one, two and three in Google, um, was literally just going through and like cleaning up pages that were based in like five through 20. Um, and we basically increased our things in ranks. One, two, three, I think by like three or 400, it was like a lot of very significant amount of pages that we ended up increasing just by doing that. So, um, Google analytics, I think can offer a lot of insight, um, as to what to blog about and what to, you know, improve that you already have.
Mark Whitlock (01:07:09): Great. Well, the hour has flown by. This has been fun. This has been full of, of information. Remember to come over to studiocmo.com/writingtools for all the show notes. So that if you’re like, what did she say? Uh, we can find that right there and, and be able to link out to a resource so that you can do, um, a great research like Ubersuggest Chrome plugin or like Strunk and White’s, um, a great book that everybody heirloom it’s a style that everybody has got to have a copy of. Uh, you’ll find all that information there. And if you’ve got questions, comments, groans, gripes complaints, she has her yahoos leave them for us, uh, in the notes of wherever you’re watching this video. And we’ll be sure to, uh, to do some follow-up in the future. So we’re grateful for you being able to click on our video today. And if you don’t like, or you think your school can be improved in the way that they communicate to you as a parent check out final sites, send the people, send the administration from your school over to Finalsite. And if you’re a health tech company who is looking for ways to improve your content or improve any aspect of your marketing, come on over and check us out at goldenspiralmarketing.com. We appreciate you guys for Studio CMO and all of the folks at golden spiral. I’m Mark Whitlock. See you later.