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E8: Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Talks “Content Chemistry”

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Andy Crestodina is a well-known personality and overall ‘super bright guy’ in the world of digital marketing and web design. A founding Principal of Orbit Media in Chicago, Andy is a prodigious writer and speaker as well. He recently wrote one of the most useful manuals of content marketing I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. The book is called “Content Chemistry” and, needless to say, it comes highly recommended. Andy’s book is a perfect marriage of concision and comprehensiveness. In the book, he gives you the 50,000-foot strategic overview of the content marketing process, as well as the intelligence necessary to execute the crucial tasks in the content marketing workflow.

In a wide-ranging but compact broadcast, Andy and I talk about many ideas critical to successful content creation and promotion, including:

  • Using ‘content hubs’ to gain initial traction in your marketing efforts on the web. This practice allows new content marketers to establish beachheads of relevance in new content areas. Later, as these efforts succeed, your brand’s digital presence can grow outwards from these initial efforts.
  • Matching Content to Brand Mission (or not). Does your brand’s expertise align neatly with content topics your prospects want to read? What if you’re principally a technology company, but your market is Chief Marketing Officers? Understanding how to accommodate content to the consuming interests of your target audience can be tricky. We discuss.
  • Content atomization. This is the idea of getting the most bang out of your content marketing buck. Has your brand produced a meaty, comprehensive white paper in your vertical? ‘Atomize’ it by breaking it up, repurposing it and reassembling it into many smaller, supplementary forms of content.
  • The role of promotion (social media.) The rule of thirds still governs content marketing success. If you aren’t making significant efforts in promoting your content, it’s unlikely to get noticed.

I hope you enjoy this episode with Andy Crestodina. It was a pleasure to interview one of the sharper minds in our industry and I urge you to check out his book.

Episode Transcript

David Hitt: 00:18 Hello, and welcome to another episode of Site Unseen. Site Unseen is the digital marketing podcast which covers issues related to the digital marketing agency of today. On our podcast, we look at trending topics which lie at the intersection of digital design, development and marketing. Today, we’re happy to welcome a well-known figure from the world of content marketing and website design, Andy Crestodina. Andy is a Co-founder of Orbit Media, a digital agency in Chicago, and he recently finished a book called Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing.

David Hitt: 00:50 Andy, welcome to our show.

Andy Crestodina: 00:52 Glad to be here, David. Thank you for having me.

David Hitt: 00:54 I just gave the very sort of canned introduction of you, without actually consulting you. Everything I said about you was just derived from my research on the web, so tell me if I had it right in the first place.

Andy Crestodina: 01:07 That’s all perfectly accurate. That is in fact the bio.

David Hitt: 01:10 Right. How do you describe Orbit Media these days? Because I’ve known about… I think I’ve been on your mailing list for a few years, probably like lots of people, and it seems as though you’ve sort of evolved, in terms of the scope and breadth of services you offer. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Andy Crestodina: 01:28 Well the original core is web design, and that’s what we started as in 2001. And we dabbled in other services at different times, I had another partner at one time that offered video production as part of Orbit, and we even did some branding, and positioning work, and graphic design.

Andy Crestodina: 01:47 We’ve come back to that central core, and we are basically a Chicago based web design and development firm. But there are certain projects, certain clients, that have us come in and do website assessments, content audits, analytics assessments, basic digital strategy. People who have complex, multiple domains, and content marketing programs in different places. There’s a strategy piece that goes with it as well.

David Hitt: 02:20 Right. But just to sort of elaborate, you don’t stop with development, you’re really a full service content, marketing and development agency, correct?

Andy Crestodina: 02:31 No. It’s not correct actually, and I know that there is this confusion out there, so kind of fun you brought it up. And I’m not surprised, and I don’t blame you for the confusion.

David Hitt: 02:39 Well you just wrote a book on content marketing, Andy.

Andy Crestodina: 02:41 I know. Well this is actually a really interesting point about content strategy in general, because if I’m going to be relevant to the buyers of our services, marketing directors, VPs of marketing, marketing managers, how can I stay in front of that audience consistently over time? Well if I only wrote about our core service, which is web design and development, I think that my list and audience would be mostly developers. I mean I can’t hold the audience of a VP of Marketing over a span of years, which is what I have to do to be top of mind when they need my services, if I only talked about my main service.

David Hitt: 03:20 I understand.

Andy Crestodina: 03:21 Yep. And it’s not uncommon, it’s normal for people to … for content marketing strategies and content mission statements to jump out into all the adjacent topics, but it’s not weird for there to be confusion, and I generate an insane number of leads for storage optimization, and content marketing, it’s just not… but we are basically a web design and development firm with a very strategic approach, and we think lots and lots about content marketing and analytics.

David Hitt: 03:53 It’s interesting that you note the phenomena that sort of compels you to sort of write books on content marketing for instance. Because when I was starting this podcast I… you know, like everybody else in our business, I read best practice outlines, and I sort of labored over the idea of whether or not to get really specific in terms of what I covered on this podcast, or to be more generalized. And of course everybody sort of advocates these days sort of siloing yourself. But I looked at the guest list of for instance other SEO podcasts, and they run out of a pool of guests eventually. I mean how many times can you interview Rand Fishkin? You know, it’s like… The reality is…

David Hitt: 04:41 That’s one reality that sort of compelled me to sort of go more general, but also like your experience, we interact with so many different sort of… If it’s a complicated Venn diagram, there’s so many overlaps, in terms of the disciplines that we interact with on a daily basis, and, especially, I think, the smaller the client, the more generalized your services I think have to be. And you just need to know about all of these things, and it becomes a lot more interesting too, and holistic I think, in terms of the appreciation you develop for how complex digital marketing has become these days.

Andy Crestodina: 05:20 I agree, and we’ve all… I think everyone arrives at that conclusion eventually. There is a famous post… Rand might have written it, or I don’t know where the idea started. But the idea is to be a T-shaped marketer, and that’s a big crossbar at the top, and a vertical depth in the middle. And so we know a little bit about a lot of things, that’s the horizontal bar on top. And we go very, very deep on one or two topics, that’s our deep expertise on a specific tactic, or channel, or strategy. For me, I know, I mean, beyond web design and conversion, I’m known as an SEO and analytics person mostly, but I of course have to know about social media, and email marketing, and brand, and lots of other related things.

Andy Crestodina: 06:08 In our businesses, later, much later, it occurred to me that in our businesses we also should probably position ourselves, and many companies position themselves as T-shaped companies that offer one main thing, and do it really, really well, or do it for one specific group. But to do that well, you have to be able to vet a lead as in fact needing that niche, that deep expertise in your topic, by knowing what all the other options are.

David Hitt: 06:35 Right, sure.

Andy Crestodina: 06:36 Otherwise, to a hammer… Or to a what is it? To a hammer, every problem is a nail. So, the best paid social marketing companies, and professionals, also know paid search. And they also know earned social, and they have to… Because it’s not unless you know all the possible approaches to solving a problem that you can qualify your solution as being a good fit for that client, and do great work for your… for the people who need you the most.

David Hitt: 07:12 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 07:14 Yeah.

David Hitt: 07:15 Well put. How do you find time to write books?

Andy Crestodina: 07:22 That is a content marketing tactic itself. Here’s how it’s… This is not exactly what I did, but this is an approach that would work. Probably 2012, or ’13, I wrote an article for Jay Baer, I was on this guest posting kick, called Nice Blogs Finish Last. And I laid out a hypothesis that a marketer can blog into a book by first creating an outline of all the topics that they know, and in fact that theory worked well because years later when I did create that outline of what they call the LBOW, the L-B-O-W, the lifetime body of work.

David Hitt: 08:10 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 08:11 If you make an outline-

David Hitt: 08:12 Or oeuvre.

Andy Crestodina: 08:13 Yeah. What is an oeuvre? U-V?

David Hitt: 08:17 O-U-E-V-R-E. It’s a French word meaning body of work I believe.

Andy Crestodina: 08:21 Oh.

David Hitt: 08:21 Oeuvre. Oeuvre.

Andy Crestodina: 08:22 Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. No, I… I thought it was an acronym. But yeah, your forte, your expertise. But specifically the lifetime body of work would be everything you create, not just what you know.

Andy Crestodina: 08:39 Okay, this is the Davidpedia, you outline it all. And you know this, and this, and this, and you make… And you structure it such that it flows into an outline. Now you begin to create content, and fill in the blanks. Or make sure that these things fit together, which as a marketer is quite clever because you create good internal linking opportunities, and you make a mini version of Wikipedia for your category, and it encourages visitors to stay much longer on your site. You make sure to cover things from more exhaustive, complete, thorough ways.

Andy Crestodina: 09:18 I did that for… I wrote for years, and then turned probably 20 or so different articles into version one of the book. Now it’s too tactical and specific, and mentions too many tools to stay up to date, so the book forced me to keep updating it. If I wanted to have this book, I had to keep improving the book. The one you’re holding there is version five.

David Hitt: 09:40 Wow.

Andy Crestodina: 09:41 I’ve rewritten this thing over and over because tactics have all changed, and as I’ve done so, when I had to update part of the book, “Okay, that could be repurposed as articles.” Or I reread articles, “Okay, that can fit into a later version of the book.” There becomes this kind of ecosystem, or eco chamber of content.

Andy Crestodina: 10:01 All it’s doing basically is a really big picture repurposing program, where you have thought… You’ve put in a bunch of forethought, a lot of structure, and as you made things, you also made things that fit. And then the day comes when you’ve got 60% of it ready, great, now your job is to set the alarm, get up at 4:30, write for two hours every day for three months. You’ve got a book.

David Hitt: 10:33 Okay.

Andy Crestodina: 10:33 You just do it all together. The very end it was a challenge to just… I’ve got little babies at home, so my trick in the end was to get to bed very early, and get up very early and write, and that’s how I filled in the blanks and added the glue.

David Hitt: 10:51 Okay. That’s a very thoughtful and illustrative answer.

Andy Crestodina: 10:59 Work.

David Hitt: 11:00 Yeah. Work. Structured work.

Andy Crestodina: 11:02 Lots of work.

David Hitt: 11:03 Structured work. Right.

Andy Crestodina: 11:03 Forethought, persistence. Yeah, these are the keys to success in anything I guess, right?

David Hitt: 11:07 Just about. Yep. The book is really beautiful. Talk about that. How did the visual look of the book come about? And did you folks design it internally at Orbit? Or how did that work?

Andy Crestodina: 11:22 Well, Orbit is a web design company, so we don’t really have graphic designers. And books are laid out usually in InDesign, or a similar tool, and that’s not what my team uses. It’s a friend, Bridget Gannon. Bridget, we’ve known her forever, and she’s done each version of the book. And the brand standards are really well defined, so that’s an advantage. I think that there… The content that was repurposed was already digital content, so there was a lot of visual emphasis on it from the beginning.

Andy Crestodina: 11:59 When creating content for the web, I think there’s… Kind of the prize goes to the marketer who can make it visually interesting at every scroll depth. Here’s a tactic for our listeners here, is that if you’re writing a piece of content, and the visitor is consuming it, and they can get down to a scroll depth at which there’s no images, you’ve got a problem. The visitor is much more likely to leave.

Andy Crestodina: 12:21 Part of the… One of the common tactics for content marketers is to add multiple images, so that there’s something of visual interest no matter how far down they scroll.

David Hitt: 12:28 Sure. At all resolutions.

Andy Crestodina: 12:31 At any resolution, on any device. Yeah. It’s got to look… Diagrams and charts. And plus the things we’re teaching tend to be more visual with like screenshots and all kinds of graphics, and charts, and things.

David Hitt: 12:42 Sure.

Andy Crestodina: 12:42 That lent itself well to the book, made the book more visual. I know that online or offline, people like to scan stuff, so I knew from the beginning it was going to be called the Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing. But the cohesiveness, that’s really Bridget. I shouldn’t… I mean, just a find pro. Whatever you’re doing, just find the person who is the best at that thing, and just let them do their work, and give them very little feedback, and just watch them kick ass. That was my tactic and it worked pretty well. Bridget Gannon.

David Hitt: 13:11 One thing I really… The first thing that struck me about your book as I was reading it was the sort of integrated and comprehensive understanding that it had of the content marketing process. And what I mean by that is I think the marketplace is loaded with books that tend to silo into different disciplines, a family of disciplines, that are all included within the context of doing content marketing well.

David Hitt: 13:40 For instance, there are lots of books out there about social, and there are lots of books out there about… Technical, around page SEO, and keyword research, and all of those sort of tool sets that one uses. And you… But you put them all together in this book, and sort of outlined, and underscored how each of these falls within the service of an overall strategy.

David Hitt: 14:02 And I really appreciated that, and I think I would… It would be really useful for many of the sales prospects that I talk to, to read your book because so many clients come to us at least looking, thinking they know what they want. Thinking that they just want one service from us. But what they’re really wanting is content marketing frankly, or some of sort of overarching strategy to drive content and conversions on their website.

David Hitt: 14:35 And yours was one of the few books that sort of took that approach that I’ve read. And I’d like to hear your thoughts about that sort of integrated, kind of holistic perspective that you seem to have.

Andy Crestodina: 14:52 Well thank you for saying that first. That was a huge part of the challenge, and has always been my thinking, just to be comprehensive enough to let the audience consider all the possible options and concepts, without being too prescriptive, knowing that there’s so many possible approaches to things, and different challenges that you need the whole tool box.

Andy Crestodina: 15:17 I have tried to always stay agnostic, and the fact that I’m not… That we don’t offer marketing as a service has allowed me to not choose a favorite tactic, or channel, and focus on that, the way that a lot of my friends, who own marketing firms, it’s like they do paid social. If you talk to them, they’re going to have a paid social idea for you. These guys do organic search, talk to them, they got an organic search idea for you.

Andy Crestodina: 15:47 In web design, I just need everybody. And I’m sure you do too, we all do. I mean every kind of business. What I’ve found is that there are companies that have huge natural advantages in certain channels, and helping them understand the marketing options in that channel, in addition to offering help to build the platform, build the website. And some clues… Sometimes it jumps right out at you. I’ll meet people who… That they invented something brand new, and no one in the world is looking for it.

Andy Crestodina: 16:19 One example I used once, there’s like a company, local company here that built like an exercise bike that sits under your desk, that you pedal while you work.

David Hitt: 16:27 Wow.

Andy Crestodina: 16:28 Very cool, but zero people are searching for that.

David Hitt: 16:31 Right, yes. And if they were, there would be a remarkably diverse set of keywords they’d be using probably to describe such a device.

Andy Crestodina: 16:41 Yeah. Right. I almost automatically ask myself when I meet someone like, “People looking for this are typing what into Google?”

David Hitt: 16:49 Right. I actually wrote a blog post on precisely… Everything you’re talking about right now, where I just… I took bizarre images from the web, and said, “How would you describe this? If I were to tell you just based on this image, if you came across this image on the web, and you were trying to search to discover what it was that you were looking at, how would you describe it?”

Andy Crestodina: 17:09 Oh, that’s great. Oh, put that in the show notes. I want to… I definitely want to see that.

Andy Crestodina: 17:15 There are people who are like innovators or inventors, and they have no opportunity in search because no one is looking for that thing. In that case, social can work well. But there are people who ask for help in social media, or think they want to hire a social media marketer, when really nobody is doing that thing in social, right? You should be over here in search, so it helps me to… And email marketing is yet another channel. But the distinction between people in search and social is part of the fun, and diagnosing and prescribing approaches for different marketing challenges comes partly down to this. In targeting, in social media, you know everything about that person. But who they are, but nothing about what they’re thinking.

David Hitt: 18:03 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 18:04 In search, you know everything about what they’re thinking, but nothing about who they are.

David Hitt: 18:09 Nothing about who they are. Right.

Andy Crestodina: 18:09 Right. So, in search you want to be… You want to meet expectations. In social, you want to be slightly unexpected. They’re like exact opposites. And I meet people and I can tell right away, like, “Ah, all you need to do is win for this narrow set of key phrases and you’ll create tons of demand.” Or, “Wow, the people who you want to connect to can be described so specifically you can find them very easily in social.”

Andy Crestodina: 18:35 If I had a strong bias toward a specific marketing channel, I wouldn’t be as good of a kind of general practitioner at doing digital strategy, and guiding people towards the channels that will be most effective for them. That’s kind of the idea.

David Hitt: 18:51 I’d actually like to talk a little bit more about social within the context of an overall content strategy. You sort of breakup your approach to content marketing into… I mean there’s more phases outlined in your book, but sort of generally speaking, research, content creation, technical SEO, on-page SEO, keyword research, that sort of stuff. And promotion.

David Hitt: 19:18 And one thing that I’m… We don’t do social here in our studio. And I think the people are frequently confused about the sort of multiple roles that social media can play in multiple circumstances. Just talk about how you perceive social media to be most helpful within the context of promoting content.

Andy Crestodina: 19:42 Well I’ll give you some over simplified generic examples.

David Hitt: 19:47 Perfect. Perfect for a 25 minute podcast.

Andy Crestodina: 19:52 And everyone wants prescriptive advice anyway. If you’re a B2C company, you can create tons of visibility in social media, and that may be one of your goals, is just brand awareness. If you’re a B2B company, social media may not… May be less likely to drive high quality visitors. In fact, visitors from social media almost never convert on B2B websites. It’s a very low quality source of traffic. But the B2B company has an amazing opportunity in social to do audience research, and to find influencers, and find collaborators, like you and I are collaborating right now.

Andy Crestodina: 20:30 What I love about social media for B2B is that it emphasizes the networking aspect, which is almost the more social part of social media, where you just find the editor of the website that you really want to write it for.

David Hitt: 20:40 Right, sure.

Andy Crestodina: 20:44 Or the… That person who is the expert, potential contributor to this article that you’re about to create.

David Hitt: 20:49 Right. So, the phenomena that everybody is describing is influencer marketing these days, which seems to be-

Andy Crestodina: 20:55 Exactly. Or digital PR you could call it.

David Hitt: 20:58 Right, right.

Andy Crestodina: 20:58 Or just blogger relations.

David Hitt: 20:59 Sure. Yeah.

Andy Crestodina: 21:00 You know?

David Hitt: 21:00 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 21:03 I mean whether or not that’s like a B2B, B2C distinction, could be debated. But there are two main uses for social media. One is for networking, and one is for content promotion. In my experience, it’s the networking aspect, the one with the indirect benefits, the one that doesn’t show up in analytics. That’s the much more powerful aspect.

David Hitt: 21:25 It frankly is one of the reasons that I’m doing this podcast to be honest with you.

Andy Crestodina: 21:28 Oh.

David Hitt: 21:29 Because doing this podcast-

Andy Crestodina: 21:30 That’s brilliant.

David Hitt: 21:30 Well I mean there’s… One of my goals for doing this podcast was to establish deeper relationships with more people in our profession, and as a… Trying to find guests for instance has involved a lot of Twitter use. I mean Twitter is my preferred social channel. And just as an individual it’s what I find to be most effective. And I’ve used it to facilitate relationships that have essentially resulted in getting more guests on the show, and expanding our sort of little footprint within the digital ecosystem.

Andy Crestodina: 22:05 Very powerful. Yeah. It’s rare to meet someone who does not want to be interviewed.

David Hitt: 22:12 Yeah. It is actually.

Andy Crestodina: 22:13 Yeah. People like-

David Hitt: 22:13 Although-

Andy Crestodina: 22:16 Yeah.

David Hitt: 22:16 Although there is a little bit of primal, sort of sizing up the relative value of the opportunity that goes on. I mean I have encountered that.

Andy Crestodina: 22:27 It’s short sighted on their part.

David Hitt: 22:29 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 22:31 I think that the networking benefit to the guest is as high. I mean it’s… I could… If anyone turns you down, send them to me, and I’ll tell them why they should turn on their mic and have a short conversation with a smart guy on important topics.

David Hitt: 22:46 Okay.

Andy Crestodina: 22:46 Like, there’s zero downside.

David Hitt: 22:48 For sure. For sure. I’ll send them your way. Talk about the atomization of content idea. I found this concept, and this was an idea that you have that efficiently allows one to repurpose larger pieces of content, and I really liked it. Talk about that idea.

Andy Crestodina: 23:08 Well it’s the converse of the earlier concept of blogging into a book, where you combine smaller pieces into a big thing. There are actually quite a few people who produce big things, but then fail to turn them into small things. People who run conferences, and fail to seize the opportunity to produce a short video series from that content.

Andy Crestodina: 23:29 Or this right now, this topic would be at least our third from this conversation that would be beautiful to reproduce as short form articles, visual memes. And several times during this conversation, I’ve seen images in my mind of like that describe well what we’ve discussed.

Andy Crestodina: 23:48 And even better examples besides live events and podcasts, but there’s a lot of people who do the big e-book, or who do the white paper, or who write the case study. Here’s a very simple example of a sub atomic content particle. The metaphor gets weaker.

David Hitt: 24:06 Nah, it’s okay.

Andy Crestodina: 24:07 Where they take a… There’s a lot of people who have really compelling case studies on their websites. And buried at the bottom of the case study, there’s like a statistic that has the impact of the work. I have found incredible eight word combination statistics and phrases at the… Deep in the basement of case study content, that should be at the top of that brand’s homepage.

David Hitt: 24:31 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 24:33 A quote from someone at a famous brand. Or the numbers that indicate ROI.

David Hitt: 24:40 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 24:40 You know, put your best foot forward obviously.

David Hitt: 24:42 Critical nuggets of information that should be more prominent than they made them.

Andy Crestodina: 24:46 Yeah.

David Hitt: 24:46 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 24:47 Yeah, yeah. Atomize those… Find those little pieces. We should always be scanning for anything that supports something else, and making that connection, or moving that piece out.

David Hitt: 24:56 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 24:59 Atomization is just a fun way to put it.

David Hitt: 25:01 Sure. No, it was really valuable to me because… Just from the standpoint of efficiency, clients are always looking to get the most from any work that’s produced from them. And we struggle with this with our own clients. I don’t know where you fall on the idea of… We have clients that produce video, or audio content, and have asked us the relative value of producing written transcripts in HTML.

Andy Crestodina: 25:27 Send them to me, David. I’ll explain how search works.

David Hitt: 25:31 Right. Well, yeah, precisely.

Andy Crestodina: 25:34 I mean it’s…

David Hitt: 25:36 But it is… I mean, what have you folks used internally? I mean this is something you must have encountered as well. Do you use a transcript service? Or how does that work for you?

Andy Crestodina: 25:47 In a way we could break a video into two types of video. Now there’s this whole category of social media video, which just starts playing as the person scrolls past it in their feed.

David Hitt: 25:55 Right. We’re not talking about those.

Andy Crestodina: 25:57 Right. But well I actually do not transcribe them, but add captions to those because captions are almost you’re only hope of stopping that person whose scrolling past your LinkedIn post.

David Hitt: 26:06 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 26:07 And video… Short video commercials of an article with captions in LinkedIn is… Turns out to be like an incredible way to use social media by the way. I feel like I’m… That this one is so effective, that I’m almost hesitant to tell the world.

David Hitt: 26:23 To share it.

Andy Crestodina: 26:24 I actually wrote about it once already. Yeah, we do want to promote a piece of content in social media, and you are a B2B company, make a video of you pitching that content, or describing its value in a minute or so. Just talk to the camera, and then use like Camtasia, or something similar to not transcribe, but put captions in.

David Hitt: 26:42 Sure.

Andy Crestodina: 26:43 Make that a video social media post in LinkedIn with a link back to the article. I’m getting hundreds of clicks over four or five days from a single social media post. Now it takes like 20 minutes to make that, but still, like that’s awesome results.

David Hitt: 26:58 That’s a lot of return on investment.

Andy Crestodina: 27:00 Yeah.

David Hitt: 27:00 Right.

Andy Crestodina: 27:01 But the real answer to your question was about the transcription. When I do a video, it’s normally… I create an article first, and if that article is getting longterm results, like it ranks, or it has a high conversion rate from visitor to subscriber, then I want to enhance that article because it’s in that top ten percent of things that are worth investing more in and improving.

Andy Crestodina: 27:26 Then I make a video to go along with it. I made one yesterday, I’ll be uploading soon. And I upload it to YouTube, and I embed the YouTube video at the top of the article. It’s like a… It’s just a video version of the blog post. The text already exists basically. It’s like a mini version of… It’s like a five to ten minute presentation like I’d give using PowerPoint or something. Kind of an alternate format for the written content that existed already.

David Hitt: 27:54 Right. You write really well.

Andy Crestodina: 28:00 Thank you. Wow, you’re so… You’re making my day. This is…

David Hitt: 28:03 Well I excerpted a couple of quotes. And having given you that piece of flattery, you need to reassure me that these were original, because they really… I like them a lot.

Andy Crestodina: 28:17 I’ll tell you if they are.

David Hitt: 28:18 Okay, all right. “Content strategy is the bait to use, but audience strategy is the pond to fish in.”

Andy Crestodina: 28:27 It sounds familiar. I don’t remember writing that, nor do I remember hearing it anywhere else.

David Hitt: 28:33 Right. Well just-

Andy Crestodina: 28:35 Actually I do remember where I read that. And it is…

David Hitt: 28:38 It’s in the first part of the book, where you’re talking about research as opposed to-

Andy Crestodina: 28:42 Yeah.

David Hitt: 28:42 Research informing, I guess content strategy.

Andy Crestodina: 28:45 Yeah. No, that’s original.

David Hitt: 28:46 Elaborate on it though.

Andy Crestodina: 28:48 Well you can produce content, and attract an audience that is irrelevant. By knowing first what audience you want to attract. Right, this is strategy. You are confirming that you are in fact attracting the right fish, and you’re in the right pond.

David Hitt: 29:05 Fishing in the right place.

Andy Crestodina: 29:05 Yeah, yeah.

David Hitt: 29:06 Right, right. Okay.

Andy Crestodina: 29:08 It’s a… It’s an important aspect that I don’t think I went into very deeply, but yeah that’s a nice way to explain it.

David Hitt: 29:17 Here’s another one. “Visitors convert into customers when the hope for a solution is stronger than the fear that they’ll be disappointed.” I really love that one because it frames my… The sort of… The way I think… You know, I, like many people that use the internet and shop online, or look for services online, or try to find something through local search for instance, often times approach the process with a sense of resignation.

Andy Crestodina: 29:47 Yeah.

David Hitt: 29:49 And this quote sort of perfectly encapsulated the frame of mind that I think a lot of people bring to the process of looking for goods or services on the web.

Andy Crestodina: 30:01 Yeah. I think what I like about that… Explaining it that way, is that everyone immediately connects to it as a consumer-

David Hitt: 30:09 Yes.

Andy Crestodina: 30:09 Because we are… Like you said, we’re all… Like, later today, you and I will both be on webpages, and we’ll be looking at something, or we’ll just be considering clicking on something. And it’s like, “Is this worth clicking on?”

David Hitt: 30:20 Sure.

Andy Crestodina: 30:20 “This email? Or this social post?” And that’s the math we’re doing. The two ways in which you can improve a click-through rate, or improve a conversion rate is to change the math in the mind of the visitor, the R and the I. The return or the investment.

David Hitt: 30:36 Sure.

Andy Crestodina: 30:37 Because basically what everyone’s doing all day long everyday on every webpage is a super fast ruthless cost-benefit calculation. And before you buy anything, you’re deciding whether or not the benefits would exceed the cost, or the return would exceed the investment. And that’s basic. And so a lot of what marketers can do to improve conversion rates, or click-through rates is to make the perceived benefit higher, or the perceived cost lower.

David Hitt: 31:05 Exactly.

Andy Crestodina: 31:06 That’s pretty much conversion optimization right there.

David Hitt: 31:08 Sure. Pretty much.

Andy Crestodina: 31:10 “Chat with an associate now”, that reduces the cost. Right? I’m just chatting, I’m not buying, and I can do it when? Right now. Sounds immediate. Or, “This is the best… This product is the best seller.” Or this testimonial from someone who loved it. That’s increasing the benefit.

Andy Crestodina: 31:29 Every action we take as we build websites, or construct pages, or write a headline, or a subject line, we’re all… Whether we know it or not, we are all trying to… We are either winning or losing in the cost-benefit calculation in the mind of the viewer when that appears in front of them.

David Hitt: 31:47 Sure.

Andy Crestodina: 31:47 And that’s just the psychology of the internet.

David Hitt: 31:51 It is. Andy, thanks so much for talking to us today. One of the nuggets of insight that I got from your book was that podcasts on average should be 23 minutes long.

Andy Crestodina: 32:03 Yeah, yeah.

David Hitt: 32:06 Actually I’ve been shooting for a half an hour in the last couple that I’ve done. And I think you’re right by the way. I mean, I just… Just anecdotally I’ve never noticed myself listening to even very good podcasts for more than 20 to 30 minutes.

Andy Crestodina: 32:23 Yeah, they debate that one. But Seth Godin is launching a 20 minute podcast, so I think that supports our hypothesis.

David Hitt: 32:30 Right, right. Well I know… Do you ever listen to Jeffrey Zeldman’s podcast? The Big Web Show?

Andy Crestodina: 32:36 I do not.

David Hitt: 32:37 Okay. Well I mean it’s a great podcast, and I love listening to him. And I put it on in the office sometimes, but I do find that after about 30 minutes, my attention wanders, and I’m doing something else. I’m just not there any longer. It has been truly exhilarating and pleasant to talk to you.

David Hitt: 32:57 I again, can’t say enough good things about your book. And obviously you’re a… You bring a level of insight to the topic of content marketing that evades most people, even most other “experts,” so I really appreciate the opportunity to chat with you.

Andy Crestodina: 33:18 Thank you for all the kind words. You’ve been so generous, and I thought this was a great conversation. We covered so many interesting things.

David Hitt: 33:25 Yeah.

Andy Crestodina: 33:27 This was really big picture and I enjoyed it. Thank you.

David Hitt: 33:30 Great, great. Thanks. Thanks, Andy.

Andy Crestodina: 33:33 My pleasure. Thanks again.

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