In this episode, Stacy sits down with Ryan Cote, the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine Digital. The two discuss five ways to drive leads with digital marketing, and how using this type of technique can help small businesses showcase their big ideas.

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Website: ballantine.com
LinkedIn: Ryan Cote
Facebook: ryan.cote.963
Twitter: Ryancote
Instagram: Ryan Cote

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Transcripts:

Stacy Jones (00:01):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for top experts to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom-line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.

Announcer (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.

Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today, and I want to give a very warm welcome to our guest, the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine Digital, Ryan Cote. Ballantine Digital is a third-generation family-owned direct mail and digital marketing company based out of Fairfield, New Jersey. It has been serving small business clients since 1966 when it was founded by Ryan’s great uncle.

Stacy Jones (01:01):
Ryan has been with his family’s agency since 2003 and today, he manages the growing digital marketing division. From lead generation to marketing strategy for small businesses, the company provides services that rise above the get-featured-quick schemes so often attributed to digital marketing. Today, Ryan’s going to share five ways to drive leads with digital marketing, and he will show why small business marketing does not mean small ideas.

Stacy Jones (01:27):
We’ll learn what has worked for Ryan’s experience, what could be avoided and how some businesses are missing the mark. Ryan, welcome. So happy to have you here today.

Ryan Cote (01:35):
Hey Stacy. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Stacy Jones (01:37):
Of course. Well, what I love starting off our show with is having you tell the listeners a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today. So, over to you.

Ryan Cote (01:48):
Sure. All right. So, on a personal note, I’m married, three children, three daughters. They all dance. I’m a dance dad. I’ve actually had a dance competition this weekend. So, from New Jersey, and like you mentioned, I’m in my family’s marketing agency, been here since 2003. I graduate college with a marketing degree, did not know I wanted to go into the family business. I had two other jobs outside of college, and then at some point, I think when my middle brother joined the business, I think it planted a seed, and I started out as the marketing director of the company for 10 years, and then we added a digital division to the company.

Ryan Cote (02:27):
So, we do direct mail and digital, so I added the digital division to the company, and that’s been a pretty crazy ride because for 10 years, I was just doing marketing, just a department of one, and now we’ve got a whole team here. I’m just trying to figure out how to grow the digital, how to hire people for the team and manage clients. It’s been it’s been interesting last five years of my career trying to get that going.

Stacy Jones (02:52):
How have you seen digital changed in recent years? Because it has changed, and it’s also gotten very much more social.

Ryan Cote (02:59):
Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest thing that with things are changing is that the fact that the platforms are changing so much. I remember SEO used to be really honestly very easy, and now, it’s very difficult, and we still do a lot of it. It just takes a lot more strategy and just resources to get it done properly, and I think that’s the biggest thing. These platforms are changing so much that you have to stay on top of it. SEO, even paid search, obviously, social media. That’s changing every day practically. So, I think that’s the biggest thing is how do we keep driving leads for clients and results.

Ryan Cote (03:37):
For our clients, it’s mostly leads, but it’s not always just about leads. It’s a lot of someone wants sales, someone wants brand awareness, but most of it’s leads. How do we keep on getting the clients’ results with everything that’s always in change? That’s probably our biggest challenge.

Stacy Jones (03:54):
Do you find that you work with more B2B or B2C marketers?

Ryan Cote (03:59):
Right now, it’s B2B. Right now, it’s B2B for sure. A lot of manufacturing/industrial type companies. We work with a lot of contractors. That’s B2C, and we’re working with more dealerships. So, I would say we’re probably 60-40 B2B versus B2C, maybe 70-30.

Stacy Jones (04:17):
Do y’all get involved in any kind of inbound marketing branded content, anything along those lines? Or is it more strictly just straight SEO when you’re doing those types of campaigns?

Ryan Cote (04:30):
No. It is inbound. Usually, clients are hiring us for a whole integrated strategy. So, SEO-paid search, content, social media, Facebook Ads. Usually, it’s just putting the pieces of the puzzle together on what’s going to be best for them. Branded content, I’m not familiar with that though. We do content, like blogs and white papers, but I’m not sure about branded content.

Stacy Jones (04:55):
I say that because I’m in the world of Hollywood where we either work with other people’s content, or we consider you’re creating your own branded content. So, that’s my own terminology I think that I just threw out there and totally rock your confusion.

Ryan Cote (05:11):
No, I’m good. So, we are doing branded content then. Yes.

Stacy Jones (05:14):
Awesome. Yeah, and I think that’s what I see is the biggest differential across our clients is that at least now, people are understanding that they need to blog. They need to actually create their own persona on their website, on other platform, so that they’re establishing their own expertise before they’re trying to just advertise and shove themselves down someone’s throat.

Ryan Cote (05:37):
Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. I agree.

Stacy Jones (05:39):
So, when we were chatting earlier, you were going to start talking about some of… You have five ways that you like to create, drive leads with digital marketing. What is that secret sauce? How do you approach when you’re working with a new client? What’s that ramp-up? How do you go about it?

Ryan Cote (05:59):
Yeah, I mean, so, I think we have to start from the beginning or the foundations. So, most of the stuff that we do, and I think most people listening, it’s driving traffic to their website. We need to make sure that all the foundations are solid. So, obviously, a mobile-friendly website. It sounds like these are really obvious things, but it’s not always obvious. At least in the spaces that we work with, that we work in, it’s not always obvious. So, I’m going to mention anyway, but having a mobile-friendly website. So, mobile responsive. It passes Google’s responsive check, and your phone is very usable and whatnot. It loads fast. So, load speed across desktop and mobile, super, super, super important.

Ryan Cote (06:41):
Having a site that’s really… It’s obviously put together, but it’s free of any broken links, anything broken, broken images, having a really clean website. It’s like if you were a fighter, like a boxer, an MMA fighter, you wouldn’t go into the ring with a sprained ankle. You’re going to be in tip-top condition. So, I look at that as a website. If you’re going to try to generate leads with it, try to make it in tip-top condition. So, mobile friendly, load speed, nothing broken.

Ryan Cote (07:10):
Then the last part is call to actions. We’ll often get clients that have websites where there’s not a real clear path to conversion. “The contact page is buried. The phone number, where is it? I don’t know. Oh, it’s all the way in the footer where no one goes,” like things like that, like trying to make it really obvious as to how you want them to contact you and then make it very easy for them to contact you. So, we’ll often play around with the placement of buttons, the phone number and the header, a sticky bar that scrolls with you, making the contact page very visible, opt-in forms. It would just vary. It depends on the client. So, that was a very [crosstalk 00:07:46]-

Stacy Jones (07:49):
I was going to say… I mean, when we’re looking at consumer websites, like tradition, like Nike’s website. We’re looking at brand websites. Their glitz, their glamor, and I think you’re right. You’re saying these things are very simple, and they should be thought of. I think a lot of B2B marketers forget about really creating and understanding how to create a strong website and keeping it up to date, and they’re like, “I have a website. It’s good enough. I don’t need HTTPS. What’s that? I’m fine with HTTP,” and there’s still marketing you in with “www.” and not understanding that there’s changes in the marketplace now.

Ryan Cote (08:29):
Yeah, and I forgot what the HTTPS. That’s a good reminder. Yeah, secure URL is very important now too. It’s a SEO thing but also for lead generation because people trust the sites more. All right, so five ways. Should we dive into that?

Stacy Jones (08:45):
Yeah, we can, and for anyone who’s listening who’s like, “What is she talking? What’s he talking about with HTTPS?” If you don’t change your website to that, there’s a little error message that everyone gets to see, and it looks scary, and you have a little X on your website, and that’s the best way to make people be like, “Is my information going to be compromised?” They’ll just flee your website.

Ryan Cote (09:07):
Yeah, it says “not secure” in the browser while using Chrome. So, it makes it really obvious that… or makes it almost like a red flag. Even though if you’re not selling something on your site, you still have a form on your site, so it does create that sort of doubt, and I think most people nowadays because most of the web now is secure. So, the amount of sites that have been not secure or the minority. So, if that’s you, then you’re just setting yourself up for less leads, less conversions.

Stacy Jones (09:37):
Abandoning the ship as soon as someone lands.

Ryan Cote (09:41):
Yes, yes, exactly. So, that’s the foundational stuff. You want make sure you have all the foundational stuff rock solid before you start doing anything. For us, for the leads, I just want to go into the strategies, and then maybe give some tips along the strategies of things that we see that work, and-

Stacy Jones (09:59):
Awesome.

Ryan Cote (10:02):
Okay, perfect.

Stacy Jones (10:03):
I can learn from you. I mean, we’re all about B2B leads and marketing, so I’m looking forward to this.

Ryan Cote (10:08):
All right. These are the strategies and the tactics. So, the first thing is content marketing. We look at content as a SEO play because every piece of content you add to your site, or branding content, you are keyword optimizing it, or you should be at least. So, when we’re creating content, we want to make sure that obviously the content is keyword optimized. It’s well-written. It’s thought leadership content, and then each piece of content has call to actions throughout the blog posts even at the end.

Ryan Cote (10:42):
So, when someone’s reading the blog because the problem with blog is typically, it’s attracting information seekers. So, they’re not necessarily looking to convert, but they’re looking for information. But when we have them on the site, it’s an opportunity to convert them, so they’re reading it, and then they’re opting. Maybe they can opt into the newsletter or whatever or a strategy session or inquire about whatever your product or services are.

Ryan Cote (11:05):
One thing we like to do with blogs is we’ll create fresh content with transcription strategies where we interview our clients, and then we extract their knowledge out of their brain. Then we turn it into a really expert-level piece of content. So, we’re always creating new content, but one thing that I think your audience could do that would be really valuable because we see on our end organic traffic always spikes when we do this is take old blog posts and refresh them. So, upgrade them. Add more content to them. So, maybe we have a 600-word blog post that was doing well or that is doing well, and then we add more content to it.

Ryan Cote (11:40):
So, when you give Google more of what it already likes, we usually see an increase in organic, so then what that means is it’s more eyeballs for your call to actions, which could lead into more leads. That make sense?

Stacy Jones (11:51):
It totally makes sense, and it’s also good to refresh because your old blogs might have lost a little bit of relevancy if there wasn’t something in there that was completely modernized. So, you could bring it up more to date, which is nice also.

Ryan Cote (12:08):
Yeah, I agree, and also if you’re doing paid search, you’re probably doing remarketing, which means they leave your site. They see your banners. It’s an opportunity then to bring them back, so they get to your content. They find that Google ranks it. They come to your site. They’re reading it. Maybe they don’t click on a call to action and then convert into a lead, but then down the road, they’ve seen your banners, and it’s a better time for them, and then they convert. So, that’s why all these things feed off each other.

Stacy Jones (12:35):
You’re chasing them down. You’re popping up in all of their lives as they’re searching for what they’re buying for their baby shower for their friend the next day and off you go.

Ryan Cote (12:48):
Yeah, and see a good example. Just going to Amazon, put something in your cart, and you’ll be haunted for life.

Stacy Jones (12:55):
That’s awesome. How many blogs do you typically suggest that B2B marketers need to be doing on a whether it’s monthly or weekly basis? What is your best numbers and suggestions?

Ryan Cote (13:07):
Our range is two to four per month. That’s what we shoot for. Generally, the more the better is almost… because as long as you’re keeping the quality up to a certain level, and you have your checklist. We have a checklist for our content, keywords, and LSI-related keywords in the content, and internal links, external links, images. We have a whole checklist. As long as you’re following that checklist for each blog, generally speaking, the more the better because you want to give Google more content to, I guess, absorb and to read. As long as the content’s good. You don’t want just four crappy blogs that’s like 300 words with nothing going on. That’s going to end up hurting you more because then you’ve got the site that’s just bloated with all this thin subpar content. But if assuming the content is good, yeah, two to four is a sweet spot for us at least.

Stacy Jones (13:58):
Okay, awesome. That’s great.

Ryan Cote (14:00):
Okay, so that’s tip number one, I guess. Yeah, tip number one, sort of like tip 1.5 with the remarketing, but all right. So, next thing is Google My Business. This is more for local clients or clients that cater to a local audience, which is really probably a good chunk of people listening, and I’m actually going to tie it into even anyone that’s not local because what we’re seeing, it’s becoming a big driving force for a lot of things. So, Google My Business fuels Google Maps. So, clearly, it’s good for local SEO, local clients, because people are using maps to find a local business, and then Google is injecting the local results in regular results.

Ryan Cote (14:43):
So, for a local business, it’s no-brainer, but we’re even seeing clients benefit from it that have a national audience because for Google, when you fully utilize Google My Business between the reviews and the posts and everything, it’s a really strong credibility authority signal to Google, and we’ve seen that benefit rankings even for clients that are not just local.

Ryan Cote (15:09):
So, I think this tip applies to really anyone listening. The tip is go to Google My Business, verify your listing, which most people listening probably have done that, but then fully, fully, fully utilize it. So, your category, your website, hours of operation. Fill out your products and your services, those attributes. Your description. Upload your photos. Geotag the photos if you can. If you’re taking pictures with your phone and location device is on, those photos will automatically be geotagged. When you upload them to Google My Business, it has the information as to where the photo was taken.

Ryan Cote (15:52):
I guess the last thing I would say is invest in some citations, which means like your name, your address and phone number being put out there, local directories. You can sign up with a service like Yext. It pushes your information out across all the major directories, and it gets your information out there, and that helps your Google Maps rankings, and we’re seeing it to be a good driver of calls, leads, website visits, direction requests, so forth.

Stacy Jones (16:17):
I miss Google+. I loved it, and it was the weirdest social media platform ever, and I know this is the replacement for it, and you can do posts on it, but what I loved about it is anytime we did a Facebook post, a Twitter post, anything like that, we would also mirror it over into Google. So, what we’d find is all of our rankings would show up first page because Google loved us, and they didn’t really look at anything for Facebook and Twitter, and it was phenomenal for SEO, and I’m still so sad that it went away.

Stacy Jones (16:45):
But what this does is instead of being able to keep long-term posts up, you can put posts still and content up, but it only gives you a short window before it expires. So, you’re constantly needing to update the content material that you’re putting on it, correct?

Ryan Cote (17:02):
Right. You’re absolutely right. I think it’s a week, I think it is, or five days. I can’t remember, but yeah. We post weekly on there. What do we post? Well, announcements, blog posts, anything that’s a good piece of… because basically what happens, when someone googles your name, the sidebar, what you see there, that’s Google My Business. It’s taking your information. It’s the reviews and everything, and then your post. So, if someone’s considering doing business with you, they’re going to probably google your name. So, someone’s going to type in… They’re going to go to Google, type in “Ballantine Corp,” and in the sidebar, they’re going to see all our information, our reviews, the posts that we’ve done, our social media profiles.

Ryan Cote (17:38):
So, it really pre-sells the person before they actually visit your site to then convert into a lead. So, I don’t know. I’m really hot on it right now. Actually, we’re going through some more training right now. Here’s a team. I’m badgering them to go through all this training, and then we’re going to make some changes because it’s like we talked about in the beginning, everything changing. Well, this thing, this Google My Business, it’s changing too. So, just trying to stay on top of what works best for… Oh, actually, one more tip on that, I just thought of.

Ryan Cote (18:10):
You have the ability to ask questions in Google My Business. So, if you ever seen like, “Ask this business a question,” that’s a really good engagement tool. So, you want your customers asking you questions through Google My Business because it’s a good engagement tool. Put yourself in Google’s shoes. If they see a listing with it’s fully filled out, geotagged photos, services, descriptions, everything, and then they see a lot of questions and answers flowing back, that’s a very engaging listing with reviews too. It’s going to make sense for them to show that listing in the map pack versus another business that’s quarter of it just flatlined.

Stacy Jones (18:45):
Yeah, and then on the content that you’re posting, and you said you’re updating it on a weekly basis. Does it have to be fresh content? Can you post the same thing every week because it’s expiring or is Google going to penalize you for repetitive content?

Ryan Cote (18:59):
That’s a good question. We post always new content. So, I don’t know if it’ll penalize you, but I would… I don’t know the exact answer for that, but if I had to guess, I would say, “You want fresh content.” You go back to SEO. Duplicate content’s a bad thing. I don’t think that carries over to the post, but I think logically speaking, if they see the same thing being posted over and over again, they’d probably devalue it if I just had to make an assumption.

Ryan Cote (19:24):
Our typical client with all the content we produced for them, there’s never something not to post about. There’s always something fresh to post about, but what you could do is recycle old stuff. I’m sure if you go back three months because it’s only up there for a week that everyone’s going to see it. It’s like a social post. There’s those tools out there that recycle old posts because social media is very fleeting. So, not everyone’s going to see it, so you can post something.

Ryan Cote (19:49):
You can in theory post on social media something every day, and new people are going to see it every day. So, with posts, I would vary it up, and maybe three months, two months down the road, go back to other stuff. Get the old stuff and then repurpose it. I think that would be fine.

Stacy Jones (20:02):
There’s a software called MissingLettr, and they’re not paying. They’re not promoting. Just we use it, and what it allows you to do is put in your social post, and then it will create different artwork for you. It will change the text on it, so you have your live link in there, and it will restructure it so that you can take one piece of content and then it will magically… I love AI. It will magically repurpose and create multiples of the exact same thing that you can then schedule out throughout a year time period, and you can set up a posting schedule with it.

Stacy Jones (20:37):
So, that’s a really good way, guys, to look at something where you’re not going to be like, “I am going to be creating content for the rest of my life and tools that are handy.”

Ryan Cote (20:52):
What’s it called? MissingLettr?

Stacy Jones (20:52):
It’s called MissingLettr, and I think it’s M-I-S-S-I-N-G-L-E-T-T-R because it’s the last little E that’s missing. Missing letter, yeah.

Ryan Cote (21:01):
Okay. I haven’t heard that. I’m a big fan of tools. My brother Scott here, he has reined me in on the expenses because I’m always like, “Oh, this tool. This tool. This tool.”

Stacy Jones (21:08):
Me too. I own the agency, and I’m the one that’s supposed to rein me in, and it’s a very dangerous thing. My team’s always like, “What do we have now? What is on that password board? What is it that you’re saying we have to try to use?” I’m like, “Yes. Try new technology.”

Ryan Cote (21:23):
Oh, that is so key. We use Trello for keeping track of all the clients. We even use Trello for our graphic designers and web developers, their tasks, and I just couldn’t… What would you do without it? Email would just be a nightmare. So, technology, when you embrace it-

Stacy Jones (21:38):
It’s fantastic.

Ryan Cote (21:40):
Yeah.

Stacy Jones (21:40):
Yeah, Canva also. Super easy for making all this content. Love Canva. Love Canva.

Ryan Cote (21:46):
Yeah, that’s a big one. That’s a big one. So, now, I’m forgetting what number we’re at, but I’m just going to keep on going.

Stacy Jones (21:53):
Three. You’re on three. [crosstalk 00:21:54] one-

Ryan Cote (21:54):
Three.

Stacy Jones (21:55):
… which was the blogging and 1.5 with redirecting, and then we went into Google My Business.

Ryan Cote (22:03):
And the foundations.

Stacy Jones (22:04):
And foundations, yeah.

Ryan Cote (22:05):
Yeah, foundation.

Stacy Jones (22:06):
Four. We’re on something.

Ryan Cote (22:08):
Yeah, so the next thing… I mean, we can do SEO and PPC. They’re separate strategies. So, it could be three and four, but it’s really like I lump them together because it’s going after keywords, search engine, marketing, going after keywords just organically and then paid. So, SEO, you’re going after the organic side. The organic listings paid, you’re going after the paid traffic. Both are very key drivers for leads for us because we’re going after… If you think about a typical manufacturer, they’re looking for… I mean, maybe they’re looking for opt-ins for newsletter, but typically they’re looking to us for inquiries like, “Hey, I want more information about your products.”

Ryan Cote (22:48):
So, SEO and PPC are very key because those are people that have a need. They’re looking for something. That’s why they’re on Google. It’s not like social media where we’re getting in front of the right people and just hoping the timing is right. Their timing’s right because they’re looking. So, let’s give some tips around SEO first. Some of the stuff I talked about in beginning, and Google My Business applies here. So, Google My Business is organic. It’s SEO. It’s just a Maps version of the local version.

Ryan Cote (23:20):
Then having a mobile responsive website, a fast-loading website. Like you mentioned, secure URLs. Those are all definitely ranking factors in Google. Other factors… I’m trying to think of things that your audience could implement right away is making sure that all the pages have a keyword strategy behind them. There’s a tool. Can I mention tool on here? I’m not affiliated with it, but-

Stacy Jones (23:44):
Yeah, of course. I’m not affiliated with any tools. You can mention tools away. Yes, yes.

Ryan Cote (23:48):
Okay. I’ll tell you what we use. So, we use SEMrush for a lot of things with SEO: keyword research, monitoring, and site health, the health of a site, a lot of different things, keyword tracking.

Stacy Jones (24:00):
We use it as well.

Ryan Cote (24:02):
Oh, do you really?

Stacy Jones (24:03):
Yeah, we do. Yeah.

Ryan Cote (24:04):
Okay. I’m about to go down a rabbit hole, but I think it’ll be valuable. So, I don’t know if it’s a new tool, but it’s new to us. They have this thing called content template where you put in a primary keyword, like let’s say digital marketing or whatever, and then it’ll scan the top 10 for that keyword. It’ll tell you the average word length for each listing in the top 10, so you get in the same ballpark, and it will give you all this information. It’ll tell you related terms that you should include in your content. So, it’s basically giving you a blueprint for making that content rock solid.

Stacy Jones (24:39):
Really?

Ryan Cote (24:39):
Yeah, it’s called content template. You plug in the keyword and boom. It just gives you the whole recipe.

Stacy Jones (24:45):
Very cool.

Ryan Cote (24:46):
So that’s SEMrush. It’s fairly expensive. A cheaper alternative that’s becoming really, really good is Ubersuggest. It used to be free. It’s still semi-free. Now, it’s $10 a month, which is still very affordable.

Stacy Jones (24:58):
That’s Neil Patel’s business.

Ryan Cote (24:59):
Yes.

Stacy Jones (25:00):
One of his spin-offs, yes.

Ryan Cote (25:02):
Yep. It was free for a while and still semi-free. It’s still $10 a month. I mean, for what he’s giving with that tool, it’s so worth it.

Stacy Jones (25:12):
I think SEOrush is, I think, around 100 to 150, somewhere in there.

Ryan Cote (25:18):
For a single user or license, yeah.

Stacy Jones (25:18):
For a single user. Correct, yeah.

Ryan Cote (25:21):
So, I would say start with Ubersuggest. It’ll get you 90% the way there, and for a really good price. So, anyway-

Stacy Jones (25:32):
SEMrush. Yeah, I like making things up. I’m like, “SEOrush.” It’s SEMrush.

Ryan Cote (25:36):
SEMrush.

Stacy Jones (25:37):
SEMrush. Yep, yep.

Ryan Cote (25:38):
Semrush.com and then ubersuggest.io. The domain names. So, having a keyword strategy behind each piece of content. So, if you go into Ubersuggest, you plug in your keyword, or you plug in your domain, or you plug in your competitor’s domains. You’re going to get a whole list of keywords back with the SEO competitiveness of it, just a whole plethora, like search volume. So, from there, you can start to map out exactly what your target audience is searching for. So, what we like to do is out of that whole spreadsheet, we mine through the keywords. We have the spreadsheet. Then once we have the spreadsheet, we map the right pages to the right keywords.

Ryan Cote (26:17):
So, once you have that blueprint of the keywords married up to the pages, well, then you’ve got a clear direction as to, “Okay, I’m on this page. These are the keywords. I need to include these keywords in the content and the metadata and image tags,” what’s called on-page optimization. So, basically just making sure that each page has a clear keyword strategy behind it. That’s going to help you rank better, and it’s going to help you get more leads. The more optimized your pages are, the more people are going to find it organically and then the more leads in theory you should get.

Stacy Jones (26:48):
And it gives you the ability to have topics for your blogs that you’re going to be writing as well that are actually going to be found versus you writing on something that’s so esoteric, no one ever looks it up.

Ryan Cote (26:59):
That’s a great point, yes. So, what we like to do there is use the long-tail keywords for the blogs and then use the more competitive terms for the service product home page type pages, and then I would say that’s definitely something that your audience could do right away. The next thing would be, it’s still important believe it or not, link building, getting other sites. So, basically write for other blogs, get a link back to your site. Submit your site to the local directories. When you exhibit at trade shows, you give to charity, usually, you get a link back from that.

Ryan Cote (27:35):
Just look for opportunities to get other sites to link back to your site, and that is a vote for your site. It’s going to raise your SEO. It’s a key factor still.

Stacy Jones (27:47):
You can knock on other sites’ doors. The easiest way to do it is find blogs that have some relevancy to your business. Look to see when they’re linking to your competitors, or if you’ve created content, you can knock on that site’s… that company’s door and say, “I read this article, and I would love to contribute and let you know that we have written this article that you could link to. We’re happy to promote this within our organization through our socials and bring you more eyeballs.” I mean, I will tell you, we get dozens and dozens of requests-

Ryan Cote (28:25):
Yeah, me too.

Stacy Jones (28:25):
… from our agency on a weekly basis to do this on our blogs because we’ve been running since 2012. We have really good Google authority. We have great ranking. We have a really wide leadership. So, we’re very highly sought after by these people, and we’re still happy to do it on occasion if it makes sense because it’s going to expose our agency to their audience, because they’re going to be taking our link and sharing out through their… whether it’s Facebook Twitter or whatever it might be, and that’s nice, and that gives me a new potential lead source.

Ryan Cote (29:05):
You’re basically utilizing their network and piggybacking off of their network as well. So, when you’re giving them the good content, and they’re giving you shares and links, I think that’s good for SEO. I mean, the content upgrade I mentioned before, that’s really key for SEO. Whenever we do a content upgrade, at least at the time of this recording, we always see an increase in rankings and traffic. So, I think that’s another SEO strategy that your audience can implement right away.

Ryan Cote (29:39):
Then with PPC, that’s a pretty… What I would say there, it’s a pretty complicated beast. It’s very technical, and you can easily lose a lot of money. But if you’re going to manage it yourself, what I would say is make sure you’re focusing on your negative keyword list, basically, trying to filter out the search terms you do not want to be shown for. That’s where most of the budget gets wasted is that you’re running ads for keywords at a broad match, so you’re getting this flood of traffic, and half of it or most of it is not really going to ever have a chance of converting because it’s not related enough, so you have to build and really focus a negative keyword list and make sure that the traffic you’re getting is high quality as possible, so that when you’re getting clicks over to your website, they’re the right audience, and then they’re going to have a higher chance in converting into a lead.

Stacy Jones (30:33):
That’s where you’re going to be wanting to look at more of a long-tail keyword, something that is multiple words versus just one or two words to direct you there, so that you don’t get lost in all of that, right?

Ryan Cote (30:45):
Yeah. I mean, especially on the niche, some clients are in the finance space where clicks are mega expensive. So, it’s a matter of like, “How can we still get the right keywords?” But like what you said, long tail, a little bit less money, still have search volume. We like to experiment with office hours. It’s like only running ads during their office hours, so that if a lead does come in, it’s a phone call. You can actually get them on the phone right away because if you don’t get back to the lead right away, the chances of closing them, or they… It gets harder and harder as more time goes on.

Ryan Cote (31:18):
So, if you run ads during office hours, and you get a call, you’re there to answer it, and then you have a better chance to turn that into a customer or client.

Stacy Jones (31:26):
Do you use chat boxes as well?

Ryan Cote (31:30):
No. We do not. Chat bots. No, we don’t. We run ads like Facebook Messenger, but we don’t use chat bots on our site or anything like that. It’s interesting idea. On WordPress, sometimes, we experiment with this plug-in that adds a little phone icon on your phone to make it very easy to call them. I know it’s not the same thing, but why? Is it effective? Chat bots?

Stacy Jones (31:55):
Well, maybe if you actually staff it correctly, it is because there’s a certain AI component, which is great, but then if they actually want to speak to someone, there’s supposed to be someone on the other end of that. You can chat back and actually talk to someone, right?

Ryan Cote (32:10):
Yeah.

Stacy Jones (32:11):
And if you don’t have it staffed, and someone’s at lunch, then you get angry people. So, we did a little one-month test on that, and it was just such a fail that until the technology evolves a little more or our agency is able to figure out how to actually be glued to our screen to see that little popup and know that we need to respond to someone very quickly, they’ll send you a text message or an email and have someone hypertuned in to respond to it.

Ryan Cote (32:38):
That’s right because it could end up going and working against you if you don’t have someone that’s knowledgeable to answer the chat, and we’ve got one of our larger manufacturing clients. They just implemented chat onto their site, but they’ve got a team I think of three or four salespeople that it just round robins amongst them. So, they know the answers to the questions because they sell the products, and that case is the perfect scenario for chat.

Stacy Jones (33:04):
Perfect. Yeah, don’t expect that you can put an intern on your chat box.

Ryan Cote (33:08):
No [crosstalk 00:33:08] to answer the questions, you know?

Stacy Jones (33:11):
Yes.

Ryan Cote (33:11):
Have you ever been to wine.com? They’ve got live chat in their site, and I think their chat, or at least it appears they’re staffed by experts.

Stacy Jones (33:20):
Really?

Ryan Cote (33:20):
I can’t remember their names, but wine expertise, but they’ll make recommendations. They know what they’re talking about. So, right there, that’s a good user experience, and that’s what you’re going for when you’re looking for chat for lead generation.

Stacy Jones (33:32):
And now we know that Ryan shops and likes wine.

Ryan Cote (33:38):
Yeah.

Stacy Jones (33:38):
So, [crosstalk 00:33:38] Ryan something. Wine would be a good thing.

Ryan Cote (33:38):
Yeah, red wine. It’s fine.

Stacy Jones (33:40):
There you go.

Ryan Cote (33:41):
I accept gifts.

Stacy Jones (33:42):
Perfect.

Ryan Cote (33:45):
We use WordStream for PPC. It’s a second layer, sort of AI-ish. That might be something your audience might want to look at if they want to manage the campaigns themselves, but they’re nervous about it. That is a little sidekick for PPC that makes recommendations. Yeah, so then I think the last thing I’m going to talk about is social media. Social media advertising and generating leads.

Ryan Cote (34:10):
For us, for our typical client, we mostly use social media for more brand awareness and content syndication, like a content delivery network almost where we’ve got all this content. How do we get it in front of the right people? Well, yes, we’re going to put it on the site. Google’s eventually going to rank it. We’ll add it into an email newsletter and use that to get more eyeballs for the content, but then social media is a natural fit for that. You do a post on it, and you boost the right audience.

Ryan Cote (34:40):
For getting leads, we’ve had the most success in terms of lead generation with social running the lead formats. So that’s where someone clicks on the button that they’re interested, a popup shows, and then it’s got their name, and their name and information pre-populated because Facebook already has all their information and LinkedIn as well. So, we’ve had a lot of success using that to capture emails, free quote requests, softer sells like that. Not selling something, but just a soft lead like an opt-in.

Stacy Jones (35:18):
Okay, that’s awesome. Are you finding, because I know what we’re finding, but with social media, if you’re creating content, and you’re following all the rules and you’re following schedules, if you don’t actually put more dollars behind those posts that you’re doing, you’re not actually getting any more real eyeballs on it. You have to boost posts and content now, right?

Ryan Cote (35:38):
Yeah, honestly, that’s a good transition to a whole nother topic here about frequency of posting. So, we have been taking our clients down and down and down in terms of frequency of posts because unless they have these gigantic budgets, which most of them don’t to put ads then behind every post, it’s just a real wasted effort. It looks good. Client sees it, and they’re happy, but it’s not really doing anything for them. It’s just sitting there with no one seeing it except for the people that are maybe visiting their Facebook page frequently, which is not the norm.

Ryan Cote (36:08):
So, you’re right. You have to put ad spend behind everything. But in the budget we have, we will boost posts. We’ll do remarketing on social media. We’ll do the lead form ads that I spoke about, standalone ads. Standalone, meaning it’s not on the page. We’re just running a standalone ad. So, there’s experiment with the different options to see what is the best fit for them, but you’re right. You need to put ad spend behind it for sure.

Stacy Jones (36:36):
Yeah, otherwise, you’re paying your team to post, or you’re using these magic platforms, but they’re still putting the information in the platform for it to repopulate, and it looks lovely until you see the fact that there’s really no engagement and no comments and no anything, and you’re like, “What am I doing? Why am I spending this money?”

Ryan Cote (36:57):
It’s [inaudible 00:36:57]. If you look at big brands now because we just like to see what big brands are doing. If you look at… I mean, lots has changed since I last checked a month ago, but Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup, they’re barely posting on social media anymore. They’ve got ads running like crazy, but they’re not really posting much. I think one thing worth mentioning here too because this comes up a lot is the targeting for Facebook. The fact that it’s so stripped out. Now, the targeting options, what do you do about that? Because we used to be able to literally run ads to people that buy cheese at the food store. That was one of the options. Now that kind of stuff, it’s more like interest and basic stuff.

Ryan Cote (37:39):
So, one way we’re getting around it, I think it’s something your audience might not know about it is we’re basically… We have a data provider. There’s tons of data providers out there, but you can upload lists to Facebook and then find the matches and run ads. I’m sure you know that, but one workaround to the interest being stripped away is we’ll buy hash data from our data provider, people that are of a certain interest, demographic, behavioral selects, whatever the case is that they have intent to buy a Toyota in next six months or whatever, and they give us that hashed file, meaning it’s encrypted, I guess, and then it’s uploaded to Facebook. The matches process, and then we have an audience of really targeted people that we can run ads to.

Ryan Cote (38:20):
So, we’re not relying on the bare bone interest selects now at Facebook. We have the actual real targeting data that’s uploaded to Facebook. Then we run ads.

Stacy Jones (38:29):
Yeah, and even looking at like lists of anyone that is your already current customers. You can leverage that and do something. That’s a similar search for that too. So, they can do some cross-pollination on that.

Ryan Cote (38:43):
Yeah, you upload your list on Facebook, and then you’re sending emails to them. They’re getting your Facebook ads in their feed and then it’s just like you’re surrounding them.

Stacy Jones (38:51):
You’re a sales marketing beast.

Ryan Cote (38:54):
You’re everywhere.

Stacy Jones (38:55):
Yes.

Ryan Cote (38:56):
I think that’s it. This is very, very tactical here. Hopefully, it was helpful for your audience.

Stacy Jones (39:00):
I think it’s awesome. It was helpful for me. It made me think back to some of the things that we’re doing and what we could change and what we could oomph up. So, no, thank you so much.

Ryan Cote (39:09):
Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Stacy Jones (39:10):
Yeah, so any last parting words of advice for our audience?

Ryan Cote (39:18):
I mean, I can give parting advice that’s not anything related to marketing if that’s okay?

Stacy Jones (39:23):
Sure.

Ryan Cote (39:23):
Okay.

Stacy Jones (39:25):
Besides red wine selections?

Ryan Cote (39:27):
Yeah, no. I won’t make recommendations there unless you want Pinot Noir. Go for that. But I’m a big fan of morning routines, so I’m into personal development like Jim Rohn kind of nut. So, I think this ties… It doesn’t tie into marketing, but it ties into just general business because the more you take care of yourself, the better you’re going to be during the day. The better you are during the day, the better you’re going to be at your job and so forth and so forth. It’s like a ripple effect. It also changes how you show up for your team. It just has this ripple effect. It just influences everything.

Ryan Cote (39:57):
So, I’m a big fan of morning routines. A morning routine can be different for everyone. It just depends on what you’re looking to do, but I do meditation, gratitude practice, and then a light exercise like kettlebell swings, like a light exercise plan. I always change it. I find that if you listen to past podcast episodes, I’ve done where I talked about this. It’s a little bit different I’m always tinkering with it, but my current thing is just that set of tasks, and the bottom line is do a morning routine. So, get up a little bit earlier. Start your day off on the right foot. Check off the boxes on things that you should be doing, like taking care of your mind and your body, and it just influences the whole day. I don’t know. I’m a big fan of it. I always tell people about it.

Stacy Jones (40:38):
That’s great advice. Then how can our listeners, if they’re interested in reaching out to you, how can they reach out to you? How can they find you? We’ll have information in the show notes as far as your social handles and business website, but share some more.

Ryan Cote (40:54):
Sure. Yeah, so I’ve got a page set up for you guys, for your audience they can go. If they go to it, on there’s an opportunity to connect with me on LinkedIn. I know, very exciting, and then also on there is an opportunity for a free video review where I go through your site through screen share, and I just give you my input. I go through a 10-minute video and just give you my feedback, and if you go to Ballantine.com/marketingmistakes, you can request it there.

Stacy Jones (41:24):
What an awesome gift for everyone. Thank you.

Ryan Cote (41:26):
Thank you.

Stacy Jones (41:26):
So, everyone will need to get a Ballantine dot-

Ryan Cote (41:30):
Dotcom.

Stacy Jones (41:31):
Dotcom. Straight Ballantine.com. Perfect, and back slash marketing mistakes to find it, and we’ll put that in the show notes as well. Awesome.

Ryan Cote (41:38):
Awesome.

Stacy Jones (41:38):
Well, Ryan-

Ryan Cote (41:39):
All right. Thanks, Stacy.

Stacy Jones (41:40):
… thank you so much for being here, and to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning into Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I look forward to chatting with you next week and until then, have a wonderful time.

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