Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host, Arlene Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Jeff Coyle, who is a data-driven search engine marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience in the search industry managing products and website networks. Jeff is the Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for MarketMuse, where he is focused on helping content marketers, search engine marketers, agencies and e-commerce managers build topical authority, improve content quality and turn semantic research into actionable insights. Before joining as Co-founder at MarketMuse, Jeff owned and operated his own inbound marketing consultancy and managed the Traffic, Search and Engagement team for TechTarget, a leader in B2B technology publishing and lead generation.

Welcome to the podcast, Jeff.

Hey, thanks. Well, that’s a pretty great intro.

Thank you. We appreciate you coming on. I’m really excited to talk to you before we got started. I don’t know that we are new clients of yours, actually, with your product market news. And my business partner is excited about getting into it. We’ve heard about you guys prior to us sign up, so definitely excited to see how that’s going to help us. And so since you’re really a expert in the field of content marketing, that’s really, really where we’re going to be focusing our discussion today.

But of course, before we get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background, specifically how you got into what you’re doing today?

Yes, I’ll tell you the quickest version that I can, but not when I went to Georgia Tech for computer science as a computer science background. Usability theory focused on some things related to search engine design, early, certain tech manipulation and Internet type things. I worked at a company called My First Job. I was still a junior in college, went and worked at a startup called Knowledge Storm from ninety nine thousand all the way to twenty seven when we were acquired by Tech Target, who you mentioned.

The in-house team in that time really focused on the earliest stages of content marketing. It was like basically selling people on the fact that that mattered. We were generating leads with constant white papers, case studies and that kind of stuff. In a world where B2B technology companies didn’t have any content on the websites, really nothing that was driving inbound. And from there it was really about understanding, lead gen understanding, conversion, rate optimization and earliest forms of search engine optimization pay.

And then when we were required, I worked with that to grow their practice, to really be a machine, to both generate amazing content as well as monetize it, make sure that it worked, delivered results. The cool thing about that story is that when I joined when we when I started at Target after that acquisition was the first time that I was able to interact with editorial leadership and award winning amazing content leads and content strategists and editorial practitioners or subject matter experts.

And what I found was that the search engine optimization workflows till then. Right. Were not fit for editorial. Right? I mean, it was oil and water and the value that that time period had and how it connects to market uses. I realized all these workflows and how painful they were or how subjective they were or that connected to content. What should I be writing? How should I craft this piece? What should the outline be? How long should how should it be interwoven into my site?

All the none of these questions had answers other than finger in the air subjective or I know this space or you can’t write any more on this. I already have all the subjective garbage that was in the air. My path was to create manual processes, to start to integrate data into those decisions. Flash forward seven years in. I find a mine now co-founder of Market News, while I was still at work and he had built the earliest technology archipelagic, brought the earliest technology that now still powers market news.

And what that technology is, is based on topic modeling, a technology that’s been around for a long time. But it was a new artificial intelligence approach to it that basically tells the story about what it means to be an expert on a topic. So basically, if I’m going to cover this topic like an extra. How would you do that, and that powers all of the interaction that all the applications that we built to tell the story of if I’m going to research something, how do I research as an expert?

What if I want to do a competitive analysis? How do I go and build the expert level research and then overlay against my competitors, not just copy my competitors, which is a common approach. So we’re taking the approaches of how do we take this expert lens? And the cool, fun artifact of that is editors, editorial leads, content strategies and subject matter experts. That’s what they want to hear. They want that to happen. They want their search teams to be thinking like they do.

And the search teams want is for the editors to want to have organic search success and bringing those teams together and allowing them to work together and focus on the same goals. And that’s really the spirit of what we’re doing.

Gotcha. Gotcha. Good stuff. Yeah. I mean, I think the whole content marketing, because you say industry, if you will, is is definitely not going anywhere. I know several years back, the old catch phrase of content is King was kind of birth and people were throwing that around saying, you know, it’s all about content, all of our content and you know, how it is in the world of these catchphrases kind of circulated. And then people are saying, oh, it’s not that important.

It’s not about content, it’s about links, link building. That’s all it’s about. And so you always have these different kind of paradigms shifting around and people thinking they understand the Google algorithm and they understand, OK, what it’s about. But at the end of the day, I think it really is the heart of everything is really is really the content, because, of course, with this podcast, we have a lot of e-commerce businesses, a lot of businesses selling products, services online, typically.

And from what I’ve seen, just interacting with e-commerce businesses, I think a lot of times newer businesses and people that are just kind of getting out there launching a product. Content, it seems like it’s almost an afterthought, I think a lot of businesses think that they can just throw products out there on site, have a shopping cart up there, throw a bunch of money into paid advertising and call it a day. Yeah, you can you can definitely get some money that way.

You can definitely get some sales. But I don’t think that’s the route to go as far as sustainable growth. So my first question to you is just as far as content marketing for e-commerce business, how do you really address that when you’re fresh out of the gate you’re coming into? Maybe it’s a niche that is a crowded space. I’ll give an example. One of the things that I’ve seen, we’ve had several clients that are in the sports nutrition space, whether it’s a drink, whether it’s some type of edible food or whatever.

Let’s say you’re in that space and it’s very crowded, very competitive. How do you even begin to think about content that’s even going to compete in that kind of space? What do you do?

I mean, that’s a great kind of walk through of the most common challenge for a new ecommerce where you’re selling direct or dropship. Right. Is your product or you’re not necessarily only ineffably you may have an affiliate network that you power. The first thing I’d say is the outcomes that content generates. Right. Is going to be similar to any other traffic jam. Right. But there’s going to be nuance into who comes in and how you progress them into being conversions.

So the first thing I like, if you want to use the sports drink analogy, is you might have a predictable cadence with your paid campaign. That is bottom of the funnel that converts at a predictable rate more power to you. That’s what you have to have a portfolio to truly grow and rise all boats in a way that doesn’t have a linear cost associated if you especially if you’re off margin and you’re just trying to get started. But the value of that content is in.

It’s going to generate more visibility at all stages of the buying cycle. And the cool thing about this is, is commonly if this is your product, this is your business, this is your life, the offering that you’re putting out there, you know the audience, you know the audience and what they want. You know, your unique differentiated value. You also know kind of the traditional journey of buying, whether it’s socks or a sports drink. There’s still a buying journey.

There’s still information about the audience that they want to know. And so you’ve got to basically go six degrees away of the actual product and go backwards to the buying journey from I don’t even know that I want this to I want this kind of thing to I want one of these things. I want your thing. And then don’t forget about post purchase troubleshooting and adherence or championing right there. It needs to be content there. So the first phase is to go away from just products, features, product descriptions and to go into the buyer journey and covering it with the common things that people want.

And then you start to shoot up one more level to say how well do you know the audience and the things that they care about? How does this buyer journey map to a particular industry that’s in that zone or maybe an adjunct concept? So maybe you’re writing about things or you’re building a community with your content around sports, around a really specific one. Maybe you’re building awareness so that you what do you want to be at the end of the day?

Right at the end of the day, are you a person who sells this drink or are you a collection of content that tells the story that you’re the expert on sports nutrition? That journey is the journey e-commerce managers have to make a decision about when they’re marketing their brand. Is are you the expert or are you the person that brings that community together and then they just all happen to be drinking your drink? And that’s the spirit of where content changes you from Sullinger products to thought leader to community engagement to the person that drives me through the fun.

Because what happens if I go drink that drink and I’m like. This is just like any other drink, and then I’m posting online or I’m looking for information about like it was this thing harmful or oh gosh, I kind of had a headache from this one. Where are they getting that information from? Someone else, not from you. So even with post purchase, adherence and troubleshooting and championing, you want to create champions with your product, whether you have thought about that or not, or just blowing your mind here, like I have to do what with that?

No, but you’ve got to you’ve got to cover the gamut. You’ve got to be the expert to put yourself out there and say, I know everything there is to know about affiliate software. And all this content tells the story that I do. And you’ve got to have that story for yourself.

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. And I think the interesting thing that I caught what you said is that. The focus really has to be on really resonating with the particular audience and giving them really what they need, what they what they want and not really focusing on really what’s going to be attractive in the eyes of Google, because I think a lot of times people are so focused on the CEO. What do we got to do on page to rank?

And they forget about it at the end of the day that they have to have that connection with the audience. They have to really understand that target demographic. What are their needs? What information are they looking for? How do they create that community around them?

Yeah, the the technical side, the markup on your pages, whether you’re relevant for you to have product review, markup schema on your pages, off page factors. Right. I always like to say those are the invite to the party. If you don’t have those straight, you’re likely not to have a chance to come to the party, right? You don’t even know about the party, right. But what gets you and is content and it actually get you in and it allows you to actually thrive in that environment.

That’s the content. And that’s when you’re turning this into like a real force to be reckoned with. Because if you’re relying one hundred percent on pay, you’re completely susceptible to risk, to competitive risk. You’re susceptible to factors out of your control. And that’s dangerous for any business. And unless you’re willing to just stand up and walk away from it, that’s where and you said something before, you know, the battle of the links and content is, you know, all those factors are Riegle

I always like whenever someone said content is king, I said content and links are regal. And it’s because you can’t have one necessarily without the other. And if you do something wrong. Right, that’s something to think about for for sure. I appreciate that. You know, one of the things also, as far as content is concerned, you mentioned, of course, you’ve got to try to find your your target audience. You’ve got to get your ideal target demographic.

And that’s going to help you with the content. I think a lot of times businesses struggle with finding the right channels, the right distribution networks to to get their content out there, because as you know and I know everybody listening, there’s a ton of a ton of ways and channels to get content out there. I mean, how do you specifically narrow that down and find out what are the ideal content channels to get my content out there and what are the ways of looking those up?

I mean, again, it’s some of it is about knowing your audience and paid campaigns are a great source of data retrieval. So testing the waters on things to so paid campaigns on BBC with with with their getting search, Google AdWords or with Bing ads or Facebook is a great way to see who’s out there and how much space is there, the types of intense that you’re appealing to. And that can also create those positive ROIC channels that can be scaled even at risk, though.

They can be scaled. They can be maintained well, from a content distribution perspective, content syndication. Isn’t necessarily something that is. I’d say what should be that much of a priority for an commerce e commerce owner, but you really have to understand your omni channel strategy. So if you have content, for example, on other channels, let’s say it’s Amazon, Wal-Mart, if you are getting your your items on the stores, that content needs to be managed independently and actively.

And you really do need to understand those experiences as well, not for some sort of CEO concept. It’s because you want to make sure that your site brings unique differentiated value, right. So your site shouldn’t just be a replica of the same information that one is receiving and you should be able to be thinking about on those other channels that you’re spending time and you expect money to come in from. You should be understanding why somebody would come to all of those channels and have a great experience, a unique, differentiated experience.

And so that’s really when where the real magic happens for any commerce managers to, say, an e-commerce product owner, someone that’s selling it online is what’s the content that I can put on my site that no one else can write? What is that? A lot of things. It relates to showing them that you know them, which I mean the audience. Right. And so what are those things? They could be interviews. They can be content that comes from the data that you have that manages this product, how you got started, differentiated aspects of what you do.

It could be imagery of people using this, the value that they’ve achieved, whatever it may be, it could even be things that are more traditional marketing where, you know, you’re you are especially if it’s a product, you may have a promotional vehicles that relate to other brands or to individuals or influencers. And you’re weaving that story together with your content if you just plop the image on a page. You’re not getting the bang for your buck, you need to be thinking about any time I’m spending money on media that isn’t text.

I need to spend the money on making it text, yeah, and make it pop with the text and that goes for podcasts. Hey, you ain’t transcribing. If you’re not transcribing, you’re not getting the biggest bang for your buck. You’re not getting the value for the time you’re spending. If you’re doing infographics and you’re not writing content that walk someone through that info graphic, not getting the bang for the buck. So always with marketing is any time you’re spending money on something that isn’t making it to your site, try to think about ways to make that same value happen on your site.

That’s a good rule of thumb for e-commerce.

Yeah, definitely. For sure. And I totally agree. One of the I think concerns I think a lot of businesses have with regards to Konta, because there’s a lot of ways contin can be deuterated if you have an in-house person. Right. Or you outsource it or if you have created is the only determining factor as to what is quality content and what is not quality is going to be is it the end result or do they have some way of determining what’s quality and what’s not?

Because, you know, let’s say they outsource it. They get some writers to come up with it. You know, how do they know if it’s good or not? It may seem good. It may seem like it answers all the questions that they think the customers have. But, you know, we don’t they don’t know what is really quality.

This is like Jeff Randt, when you ask that question. Right, that’s this is my this is my life. So I’ll answer that question in a couple of different ways. One quality there’s a lot of aspects of quality that have been people have been looking to solve objectively. People have been looking to evaluate objectively. So you have things like readability, you have things like expertize level more from a tune and tone and style. You have grammar and spelling.

Those are things that people realize can be evaluated because there’s been methods for years on that manual. Methods where I focus is evaluating content, quality and as a metric of comprehensiveness and exhibiting the signals that a subject matter expert would exhibit. So when I define it, I’m saying if I were an expert, now we’re covering this topic well, so comprehensively, but still succinctly, what would I write? What is the content that I would create? And when you take that concept and you apply it to multiple pages or an entire site, it says, if I truly were the expert on sports nutrition, what would the collection of content that I would write be?

Right. That’s when it starts to answer. And this is the way that the search engines think. This is the way that the search engines evaluate their evaluating authoritativeness, not just at the page level, but the site section level and at the site level. They’re breaking down domains into sites, they’re breaking down pages into sections. And they’re trying to identify, for example, the Johns Hopkins job page isn’t an authority on medical advice, but the rest of their site is right.

Just know that. Right. And it goes all the way down to really understanding who your audience is, understand what type of advice you’re giving. And you need that collective of information to tell the story that you’re an expert. You also need citations, you need inbound links, references, because that’s natural. It’s natural that if you truly were the expert that. People would reference you in their content, in their experiences, and so you also have to be thinking about that and trying to do that as like a business development function.

So that’s talking to you. If your e commerce manager, that’s talking to your partners, that’s talking to your promotional channels and trying to figure out ways to create content that they may be able to strategically distribute as a team. So all those types of things can be woven into this. But the outcome is quality, comprehensiveness. It fits in the narrative that you are an expert. My dream and what Mark users dream is to really set the standard for content quality.

I want to be the standard for content quality, but I also want to rid the world of really bad content.

OK, yeah, there definitely is a lot and a lot of it. And that’s that’s kind of part of the problem that we’re in right now. And I think we’ve all kind of contributed to this beast called the Internet, where there’s just, you know, there’s some unheard of information out there. And it’s it’s a lot of times it’s hard to sort through. But we we’re we’re all victim to it and we all are responsible.

And there’s a there’s a great data point. Colleen Jones from Content Science, she does a survey every year, and it’s how quickly people assess a site for whether it’s a hit or a miss. And it’s I forget the number, but it’s like microseconds and the number of people that evaluate and judge the site on the merits of the first page. They see it goes up and up every year and it’s quicker. So you can’t afford for somebody’s first experience with your brand to be on a low quality content item.

And because and you may sit back and go, got the traffic Amol good, your brand’s dead and never even got a chance. And it’s because when they landed on your site, it made no sense. It didn’t tell the story. You are an expert and worse off it was gerbrandt. It was confusion created confusion for why you’re even there in the first place. So really focusing on show them, you know, with your content Chelm, you’re the expert and that will push you through.

It’s a big investment. Content’s a big investment and it’s not something you can do and then you’re done. That’s another reason why there’s so much low quality content. People look at it, they did value it. They think it cost one hundred dollars a page and they just have to do it and then they’re done. First of all, it does it mean for so many reasons the opportunity cost of writing bad content is painful? You could have written good content.

So all the time spent between the time when you have bad to the time you have good is total opportunity cost. And just imagine how much that could cost you if you were doing PPC replacement with that. I mean, it’s all day long. You’re going to want to win with all the channels, but yeah. And rant.

Oh yeah. No problem. I definitely appreciate that and I do a lot of good takeaways from that. But as we get ready to wrap things up, I want you to leave us with a couple of quick takeaways. With your experience, what would you say would be the number one do as far as content marketing is concerned? And then the number one, don’t lose one thing you should do. You should definitely not do.

One thing you should do is tune up your mirrors, know what you have, know who you are, what topics you cover and where your expertize lies. That’s the first thing you got to know that so that you have a chance of getting that onto a page. Right. And really be thinking of the customer as far as a don’t don’t try to manipulate anything related to off page factors. Do not try to manipulate links. Do not try to do those in any other way, then truly something that will help your business development and your business develop.

Because if you want to do that, fine, you have to be willing to walk away from your business because you’re leaving it up to someone else to decide on your business success and you never don’t take the gun out of your hand.

Yeah, great, great analogy. Definitely. And I know a lot of business owners are tempted to do that because, you know, everybody’s looking for the quick win. But as you and I know, there really is no such thing as a quick when you know, there’s you got to stay in the trenches.

And can I get a quick a little quick sub line on that dirt, make sure the information you get on content and SEO in general is for you as the audience. If you’re a product owner and an e-commerce product owner and you’re getting advice from somebody telling you how to market an affiliate site to different prerogatives, they’re willing to pack up and go with their site crashes. You’re not you’ve got an inventory. That’s the kind of product. You’ve got a business.

They have a site that generates clicks. It’s a different business. Don’t. Take advice from someone who doesn’t understand your business.

Yeah, great piece of advice, and there’s a lot of marketers out there that tell you how to market these affiliate sites, these niche sites. But like you said, it’s a totally different animal because if something happens to those, they could shut it down easily, walk away, go to the next niche site. So, yeah, great piece of advice. Well, Jeff, it’s been awesome talking to you. I really appreciate you coming on. I’ve definitely learned a lot.

And I know our listeners, an audience has as well. But before we let you go, I always like to switch gears here so our audience can get to know you a little bit better. So if you don’t mind answering this, if there’s one kind of closing fun fact that you think our audience would be interested to know about yourself, what would that be?

A fun facts. I am also the co-founder of a beer brewery based in Georgia. So most people don’t know that. And sometimes I don’t even talk about that because that’s a fun fact and I’m really into it. So if you want to hit me up on Twitter at Jefferey, underscore Coile, if it’s about SEO content or, you know, beer, I’m cool with that.

OK, beer brewing. That’s that’s awesome. These days, craft beers are the thing. And, you know, these, you know, kind of niche breweries, you know, is kind of where it’s at. So. Yeah, I know. Yeah, definitely. I know you have fun with that. Well, I appreciate you coming on, Jeff. And like I said, we’ve learned a lot today. But lastly, if any of our listeners want to reach out to you, pick your brain any more about content marketing or any, you know, digital marketing subject, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Jeff, at Market News.com Specific questions, detailed questions. I answer everything. I love getting emails from people who are in your in your situation, whether you’re crushing it or whether you’re just trying to figure out what to do. Jeffrey, underscore Coile on Twitter, also active on LinkedIn. I have a community of content strategists called the Content Strategy Collective. If you’d like an invite to me that a note. I’m also getting into this clubhouse thing, amoun clubhouse a lot

Go check it out and connect with me. Also, maybe if you need an invite, I have like sixty two of them or some crazy number, so if you need one of them so. But yeah. Anyway, you know to me I give you my cell phone if I could.

OK, sounds great. We appreciate it. Jeff, thank you for joining us. Thank you for coming on to the e-commerce marketing podcast.

Just thank you for listening to the e-commerce marketing podcast. 

Podcast Guest Info

Jeff Coyle
Co-founder and Chief Product Officer for MarketMuse