Podcast Episode 333 Allie Mills, Digital Marketing Manager at IMS
How to Create Amazing Content That Builds Investor Relationships
The Investor Acquisition System:
- Find More Investors
- Raise Money Online
- Finance Your Projects
WHITE BOARD WORKSHOP
Allie Mills is the Marketing Manager at Investor Management Services and her title doesn't do her justice. In fact, if Allie had told me she was the CEO of the company, I would've had no doubt!
Today, you're going to learn how you can implement some incredible digital marketing practices to ensure your content gets seen. If you've ever wanted to leverage content to increase your investor-pool and widen the aperture on your prospective real estate projects, this is the episode for you.
What You're Going to Learn
* How to Use Search Engine Keywords to Create Great New Content
* Creative Ways to Plan Your Content Production
* Why Fresh Content is Better than Recycled Content
* How to Educate Your Prospects with Written Content
* How to Highlight Pain Points to Attract Prospects
* Using Plain English to Explain Complex Concepts
* How to Be Sure that People Will See Your Content Online
* And much, much more.
Listen To or Watch the Full Podcast Here
Using Search Engine Keywords to Create Great New Content
Adam: First was you very casually mentioned that you create content. So, let's dive into what that process actually looks like. How do you actually do that?
Allie: Absolutely. We take a couple different approaches just to make sure that we're putting out content that people- one, that they want to read, and two, that's going to be helpful because the last thing you want to do is think you put out this fantastic piece of content, and it turns out that no one really cares about it, or no one really needs that information.
We go through and do a lot of just keyword research to see what people are searching for and what that volume looks like. We also talk a lot with our relationship management team and our support team and ask them what are some trends that clients are bringing up, or questions people have? Also, just keeping an eye out for the industry and where our product's trending to.
We have a phenomenal marketing team over here, and they are absolutely rock stars when it comes to content creation because we take it from every single angle; anywhere from if we have a prospect who works in multifamily, we'll put out a lot of multifamily content; but then, also, content about storage units. A lot of people don't realize that's a huge market for commercial real estate. So, really trying to make sure that if someone is looking for the content, and if they want to know it, we'll provide them that information with a lot of strategic research on our part.
Adam: You do keyword search, which is SEO.
Allie: Yes, sir.
Adam: Right. So, describe that process a little bit. That's obviously a huge rabbit hole we could go down, but we do that, as well ... I find it incredibly powerful. I also really like- you didn't use the term, but the FAQ approach - what are people actually asking on a regular basis at the sharp end. Describe just briefly what the keyword research side of it looks like. How do you do that?
Allie: Absolutely. To put it to a broad example, if I have a question about something, nine times out of 10, I'm going to ask the Google machine, to put it colloquially. I will actually go through and see the queries that people are asking Google about related to commercial real estate to really understand what that need looks like.
There are a lot of fantastic tools that can give me the keyword- really what that data looks like; what the volume is. You can also hop into the Google Ads platform and run those same keywords and see what Google Ads, which is that pay-per-click tactic, to see what the monetary value is on these keywords.
Another great way to use content to really boost up your online presence and drive leads ... For example, if there are keywords that cost you an absurd amount of money per click and that, if we don't want to spend that much, we can always build up organic content around that keyword, organically rank for it, and that way, we put out content that we know people need. But we also did it, making sure that were the best keywords of our budget.
Adam: Yeah, exactly right. So, a keyword is used- you would pay for keywords when you advertise, but if those are found organically because you've written good content around them, then the traffic that you generate organically, you can actually put a dollar value on that.
You can. For example, if we are having ... If some of our people navigate to the website, and they found the website based on that one keyword, I can actually look and say, "Hey, we got these clicks for little to no budget because we didn't pay per click. We got these organically.".
Another really good way of looking at that is as you build up, you have search engine optimization, and we build up authority around those keywords and authority around those topics, and we're proving to Google that, "Hey, we know what we're talking about. You should show people our responses." All that does is it really boosts up our overall authority online, and we really have that- that just dominate the market, in general.
Creative Ways to Plan Your Content Production
Adam: Now let's chat a little bit about the actual process of producing content ... We understand that you've got some concepts, or you've derived some ideas from your front-line people who are dealing with customers; those customers and prospects are asking questions, so there's your FAQs, right? So, we know we want to answer those, and you're doing some SEO research. What is the process that you employ to actually produce the content?
Allie: Absolutely. Content is a really ... We're putting out probably about two or three pieces of fresh content each week. So, we definitely have streamlined that process substantially. A lot of times, about once a month, the team will sit down and say, "Let's just brainstorm some blog pieces or some content pieces," and we'll just start spit-balling and just throwing different ideas out there.
A lot of that we're pulling from reading world news. What's going on in the world? What's going on in commercial real estate? What's going on with the finance industry? Just making sure that we're looking at that from a holistic standpoint and making sure that we have a list of topics that make sense and that we know that people are interested in and that we've seen really picking up traction in the media, in general.
We'll put that list together of just ideas. Then, from there, we're very lucky that we have a room of just pure industry experts. We have people who have been working in the commercial real estate industry for 20-25 years. Luckily, they are a wealth of knowledge. We'll sit down and have meetings with a couple of colleagues and be like, "Hey, here's what we're thinking about. What are your thoughts? Here's what we're seeing." Nine times out of 10, they'll give us a new angle to approach a topic that's fresh, and exciting, and will really draw people in, but you're still getting that core information and those core resources that you need.
Then, from there, a ton of research goes into the actual topic, itself, to make sure that we don't sound like we don't know what we're talking about because the last thing you want is for Google to see you as an authority and then, if our quality starts dropping, well, then Google will say, "Their content's dropping, their rank's dropping. They're probably not who they used to be. We'll just keep pushing them down." So, it's paramount that everything has to be just good quality content.
Why Fresh Content is Better than Recycled Content
Adam: All right, so let's say you've got a ... You say two or three a week. In the course of a year, you have enough new content for one a day, approximately; a new piece of content every single day. But when that content goes out, let's say, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter, or wherever you distribute it, only a very tiny proportion of people who are in your prospect universe will see it. So, why not actually re-present that same content every three months, for example, because you know that each time it shows up on social media, a whole different group of people are going to see it?
Allie: Absolutely. That's a great question. It's something that we've really run into because there are some topics out there that will just never go away; for example, commercial real estate best practices. That's something- that topic will never go away, but it's all about fine-tuning that, and reworking that, and taking it from a different angle.
Also, in all reality, if we're putting out content, and three months later, people are still trying to research that same topic, I would wonder - was our content not high-quality enough? Did it not answer enough questions? Did we not put that out on the web as well as we should have?
There are some topics, absolutely, that will really never go away and that we'll definitely refresh, but the big idea is that you want to make sure that the title, itself, of the article is a little different, but also making sure that you're putting in new ideas, and fresh ideas, and content that you have recycled and pushed out. You just want to make sure that everything is fresh.
Educating Your Prospects with Written Content
Adam: So, now you've got these brainiacs, internally, and you do some great research, and then, just ... How do you actually produce it? Do you have writers internally? Do you create- do you have a studio that you film stuff like we're recording, on a Zoom call? What's the actual mechanism, the production mechanism, if you like?
Allie: Absolutely. We have an absolute rockstar marketing coordinator, named Amber, and she is just a blog-writing, content-writing master. She is fantastic. She'll go through and put the actual content together. Then, myself, and our product marketing manager, named Jenny, we'll go over, and we'll proof everything; read over it; add things, if needed; just making sure that we fine-tune that.
If there are topics that are a little more difficult, we'll even have someone on support go over and read it and ask, "Hey, if you were a client and you read this, does this make sense to you?" Just making sure that we are speaking to our audience and asking the people who talk directly to our audience, which are the relationship managers and support. So, we have a really great in-house process. We don't send any content out for- like to white-label content. We do it all in-house.
Adam: Fascinating. Most of what you produce, Allie, is written content, is it?
Allie: Yes, sir. We do a lot of written content; probably to blog weeks- blog posts per week, excuse me. White papers are very popular, as well. We put up a lot of e-books, as well, just to make sure that our current customers have that ongoing training, just make sure that everyone is totally happy and engaged.
At the end the day, what we have is a software solution. If our clients and customers are confused, or not given the resources to understand it, then we did them a disservice. That's why we have a huge focus on making sure that if someone wants the content and wants to learn about it, we'll write it for them.
Highlight Pain Points to Attract Prospects
Adam: How do you then use a piece of content like that to convert somebody from an interested reader into a client of IMS?
Allie: Absolutely. So, we will put out content for- essentially more like prospect content. If we're writing this content for prospects, and we know that's our audience, that differs a lot from the product marketing going towards current customers.
For example, with prospects, we want to go out and highlight pain points. We know that you probably have a ton of contacts that you don't have organized. We know that you're probably losing months, and hours in Excel. You're probably losing money left and right. So, really highlighting those pain points, and explaining why we can solve those, and giving examples of how we have solved those.
A lot of that comes with case studies. You'll see that a lot with different white papers that we put out, just making sure that ... We understand that there are a lot of pain points out there, and we want to highlight those and then, give you a solution for and really tie that in together.
Using Plain English to Explain Complex Concepts
Adam: What are the biggest challenges that you find developers have? How sophisticated are they in the kind of things that we're talking about now, in terms of digital marketing?
Allie: So, you mean developers on the software side or commercial [crosstalk].
Adam: No, I mean developers, as in people that put bricks together, and paint walls, and lease spaces.
Allie: It's definitely- it's fascinating to really try and change these very industry jargon terms down to what people are normally searching. It's kind of going back to that natural language, and it's kind of an ongoing challenge for me to make sure that, one, we divide up our market in different personas. So, who in the company would be using our platforms? Making sure that we market towards that. At the end of the day if someone doesn't understand what a Reg-D offering is [crosstalk]
Adam: You know it. Right.
Allie: -it's going to be a very tricky marketing. So, it's really just putting in ... Just talking to people the way that I guess they would want to talk about a product. It's very tricky, especially with something as difficult as commercial real estate, but I think slowly, but surely, people are getting more savvy with the jargon.
Adam: Okay, hang on a second ... I think you answered my question but let me try and rephrase it slightly.
Allie: Sorry about that.
Adam: No, and I'm pretty sure you did, but I'm not entirely. So, what I was getting at was are ... Let me put it this way - are developers, real estate developers, aware of and familiar with digital marketing? That was the question, actually [crosstalk]
Allie: Oh, my apologies! I definitely think that they are becoming more aware of digital marketing, especially going into 2020.
Adam: Your answer actually came at it from a different angle, didn't it?
Allie: Yes, sir.
Adam: Right, but the point that you were making was that no matter what you're trying to discuss with a prospect, you can't assume that they know anything at all about the subject that you're talking about, right? That's kind of the point.
In other words, this is where we started - the idea of taking a very complex concept that you understand intimately and explaining- understanding that the person that's listening to what you're saying maybe doesn't understand anything at all about that, right? When you start- when you put together your content, some of it is very complicated. So, how do you ... What's the approach that you take to explaining complicated ideas without patronizing or talking down to your audience?
Allie: Absolutely, because last time I checked, I don't think anybody wants to feel talked down to or anything in articles. So, it's really important to make sure that our voice and our tone is more of, "Hey, we're just talking to you person-to-person, not trying to talk down to ... A lot of that we can tackle with our tone.
Also, a lot of times, we'll put in examples ... Infographics are really helpful. Similes and metaphors are great to use when trying to explain really complex items. There are a lot of different just literary approaches we can take just make sure that people, one, if they don't understand the topic, they do now. Then, also, it's in a way that is new and creative, not just definitions and having an appendix on an article.
How to Be Sure that People Will See Your Content Online
Adam: Now that you've got this huge library and machine of content production, what are you finding are the most effective means of getting that content out there? Is it paid search? Is it social media? Is it the webinars? Is it email? What are the most useful avenues for you?
Allie: It's a little bit of everything. I don't blast our new content out on paid search just because that would be an incredibly expensive endeavor. We really want to keep our paid search solely to prospects. With the new content, it's really popular for our members of our sales team to put those on their LinkedIn, or to directly send those to prospects, or current customers.
We do a lot of email marketing, as well. If people have opted in the fact that they want to hear more from us, then we'll definitely make sure that we send that out. We also, on our website, have a very, very robust resource center. We always put our content on that resource center, so we have a backlog. You can always go back and revisit.
It's a little bit of everything; just making sure that if anybody from sales, or support, or client relations, all the way up to the CEO and CFO, making sure that they're pushing out the content, as well. So, really, any way we can get it out there in a respectable way, we will.
The Investor Acquisition System:
- Find More Investors
- Raise Money Online
- Finance Your Projects
WHITE BOARD WORKSHOP
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