182 podcast episodes 🎙️

It’s a never ending task in figuring out the most effective way to create sustainable goals and compelling interactions with clients for acquiring more web-traffic and leads.

Tune in to today’s episode of WPMRR and take some advice from our guests who dominate in sales and marketing.

Listen to full episodes below:

What to Listen For:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:12 Building the foundation of your website
  • 01:47 Many people drastically overestimate their website traffic
  • 03:10 Get clarity to talk about what you want to do
  • 05:57 Do you need to keep running paid ads?
  • 08:37 Organic traffic on older content
  • 10:07 Historical optimization versus creating new content
  • 12:42 The benefits of having a user-experience audit 
  • 13:57 The advantage and disadvantage of an open source
  • 15:12 HubSpot and automated contact form
  • 18:26 It’s not the disconnected tools that creates the problem
  • 20:42 Building on WordPress is hard
  • 23:54 People don’t want to fill out long forms
  • 25:13 Feature functionality and delivering great user experience

Podcast Transcript:

What kind of client do you want? What is the kind of client you want to attract? What’s the kind of work that you want to attract? What kind of projects do you want to get? Building that foundation into your website, so that when someone gets to your website, they move down that path to fill out your project inquiry form. Because you can’t start with just lead generation tactics, because if you do that, you’re going to invest a bunch of money in lead generation, and they’re going to get to your website, and if they don’t convert, what was the point? Right?

So it moves through identifying kind of the ideal client, the ideal project, getting that foundation in with your website, building in a inquiry form that segments your leads, and a system to manage your leads, so you’re not overwhelmed doing that, you’re not spending a ton of admin time doing that. And then moves into online and offline lead generation tactics for your business.

Speaker 2: I love that. One reason I really love it, is because you have one course going from sales to product launch. And then from that, you got feedback from that, and people needed something else. So you said, “Okay, now I have a second product that comes to precursor that, and those two courses can now work in tandem.” So when people finish one course, they buy the other course, which in itself is kind of a way to add a lot of value to people. Now I can take you through the whole process of it. It’s just you pay for both the courses, which is really cool.

I would love to hear a little bit more about from your experience, what are people’s biggest challenges? Let’s start with the more recent one we’re talking about, which is lucrative leads. Where do people struggle the most in that area? Is it actually trying to gather email addresses? Is it trying to drive traffic to their website? Is it kind of all of the above? Is there one surprising thing that you find a lot of people feel like they’re struggling with?

Speaker 1: I think that most people drastically overestimate how much traffic they’re getting to their website. Yes, so they think, “Oh, my website’s not converting. I need to get…” And this is in general across industries. “My website’s not converting, I’m not getting enough leads coming in, I need to redesign my website.” But I think if you dig a lot deeper, it’s the traffic problem, not necessarily a website problem, a lot of the time. Or the issues with the website can be fixed, usually fairly simply with content and things like that. We get a lot of people, especially through our agency over the years too, that came in wanting a whole redesign, and we’re talking them out of it. Saying, “You really need to be spending your money on traffic.”

So where we find that most people struggle, is effectively talking about what it is that they do in a compelling way. So the person they’re talking to says, “That’s what I need. That’s what I’m looking for. I am a good fit for that,” so they self-select, or self-identify as an ideal client, and say, “How do I learn more? What is the next step?” So most people don’t have that comfort, talking about what it is that they do.

They don’t have clarity about how to phrase their message, so that people self-select or self-identify. And because they don’t have that, they go to networking events, or they go to conferences and people ask them, “What do you do?” And they flounder. Or do you know, how many times have you walked away, and you’re like, “Dang it. I should’ve said this,” or, “I wish I said that,” or, “why didn’t I say this?” Or they default to, “I’m a designer. Oh, I’m a developer.” And that generally doesn’t interest… Everybody knows somebody who does that.

So I think once you get clarity on how to talk about what you do, and what your message is, and what the benefits and the risks are, a lot of people never think about, “What’s the risk someone takes if they say no? What do they risk if they don’t take action?” Right? Once you know those things, you can show up and really powerfully talk about what you do, and the value you deliver, and the benefits people experience when they work with you. And those are the things that emotionally connect with people. And those are the things that get them to fill out that inquiry form and say, “I want to work with you, let’s talk.”

Speaker 2: I think what you said is so important, just about copywriting in general. I think a lot of people have this idea, “I have this really beautiful website. I have to have this UI that’s just so incredible.” Like, “The user experience has to be phenomenal, or no one’s going to convert.” And people, I think often, especially when they’re starting off, or even when they’re pretty far along, copywriting is not something that they focus on very much.

And I think that no matter what industry you’re in, the people who are going to buy what you have, whether it’s service or product, they’re going to read your copy. Right? I feel like that’s a pretty easy assumption to make. A lot of people scroll and maybe don’t read everything, but the big banners in the big areas, people reading that F-shape, right? They’re going to read the basics, and if you don’t catch their attention right there, then you’re going to lose them.

So I think that that’s something before, like you mentioned, talking people out of doing redesigns. People need to get the basics done first, and if you can get to the point where you kind of have a base conversion rate, even if it’s low, and you can say like, “What’s the actual problem here?” Because if it’s a simple copy change, I’ve talked to people in the WordPress space who’ve been like, “I just changed a copy on top of my homepage, and my conversion doubled, and my lead generation doubled.”

It’s like, “Yes,” because some people like the copy on the right top of their website. If you’re working in enterprise, you have a little more leeway, because you can have this solution, blah, blah, blah, but most companies should probably just have, “Here’s what we do, here’s the customer we work with,” or, “here’s the problem you have, here’s how we fix it.” Free demo, see pricing, contact us, whatever it is, some call to action. Those are just the basics people have. So I think copywriting has a big place to play in the future.

Speaker 3: I do think that content marketing does get a bad rep. When people think about, “How do I generate leads or sales now?” They’re thinking about cold calling, or they’re thinking about running paid ads. And paid ads are really easy way to see immediate return if you’re doing them well, but it’s not sustainable, you continue to see decreases in ROI. What actually happens, is with all that data you get from running paid ads, you can actually start a really targeted content marketing strategy, using the keywords that you’re already targeting through paid, because you can actually see which keywords are converting. And instead of paying for those keywords, you can actually just start ranking on those keywords organically.

And so it’s a little bit ironic when people say, “Oh, we need to keep running paid ads,” but in reality, it’s not mutually exclusive. You can be doing content marketing strategies, start ranking for that keyword, not have to pay for it anymore. And if you do decide to keep paying for it, you actually rank multiple times on the first page of Google. So you do win if you put more effort into content marketing. And there was a mattress company I was looking at, I like to look at the content strategy of companies that I buy products from, because I’m just curious. And I’m curious how these companies got so popular. There was a mattress company that I saw ranks for the phrase, “How long does a sloth sleep?” Which is great. For some reason, there’s a ton of volume around that phrase, but that has-

Speaker 2: I just searched that the other day. I searched that 10 times the other day, [inaudible 00:07:28].

Speaker 3: No one’s going to buy a mattress after reading how long a sloth sleeps for, but this website’s ranking for that phrase for whatever reason. So it’s one of those things where I’m sure it’s great that they see traffic coming in, but it’s not going to generate sales. So it’s a very top of the funnel keyword to rank for, which is a whole different thing to talk about for content strategy.

Speaker 2: Yeah, that’s funny. So we had to do some keyword research for ourselves as well, and I’ve just looked up to see what we rank for, outside of what we’re trying to rank for, just like random keywords are ranking for. And WP Buffs is kind of a funny company, because we ranked for some kind of random stuff around Buff. Totally irrelevant to what we do, but somehow we’re still ranking on the first page for some random Buff term. And there’s some crazy stuff in there that we weren’t at all trying to rank for, but just kind of it showed up, so I guess that happens as well.

Speaker 3: I don’t know if you’re willing to share it, but what’s the strangest thing you’re ranking form, that you see right now.

Speaker 2: Oh man, you can put me on the spot. I can’t even remember what it was. I think it was some gym thing, some sort of strength training, something, but it wasn’t related to digital stuff at all, so that’s always kind of funny. So one thing I kind of actually wanted to talk about, now that we’re talking a little about content marketing, is so we obviously, since inbound marketing is so important for us, it drives so many of our leads and partners, and website traffic and all that. So we measure that, usually it’s on a month to month basis, but I’m kind of digging in a little more frequently, because I just like to look at that stuff. But we found March to April, just looking at those two months, we found we actually lost traffic somewhat significantly for the first time, really in my memory. I think we lost 5% to 7% of our overall organic traffic.

So I’m kind of looking in, seeing what’s happening, I see there’s a big update in March. I did some digging and some research, and what I found, was we actually lost some rankings in some older pieces of content that we had, that we hadn’t really done a significant update to in a while. And we had gone from like number one, to number two or three, for like 15 or so different articles. And we were getting good traffic from those. So over the course of all those, we lost, I don’t know, it was like 20,000 unique views or something, which is significant.

And so we’re putting a big plan together right now to go back. Instead of putting our resources into creating all sorts of new content, in terms of written content, we’re actually steering back our resources and saying, “Let’s go back and redo some of this old content.” Is this something you hear pretty frequently that people do? Especially when they’re running blogs that have content that they wrote maybe a year, or two years ago? It’s a little bit out of date?

Speaker 3: Unfortunately, I don’t hear it often enough. Of course at HubSpot, we created a name for it, we call it Historical Optimization. So our-

Speaker 2: Of course. Inbound marketing, we’ll invent this term, historical. What is it? Historical what?

Speaker 3: Optimization? We love creating names. But that’s wonderful that you do that, because our belief is, “More content is not necessarily better.” And if a company has already started creating some sort of content, there’s plenty of opportunity to try to generate more opportunities and optimize that content, than creating new content. So that’s something that we would like people to do more of, because it means that they’re likely going back and making it more valuable, updating it so information is more relevant, and that goes not just for improving it for SEO purposes, but also for potential conversions. If you’re getting traffic to it, maybe you could be testing it so that you’re getting more leads from that blog post, or that you’re getting more sales.

Speaker 2: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I’ve also been thinking a lot, as we’ve been going back and restoring old articles, obviously, there’s kind of the primary reason… I don’t even know if I’d call it primary, one of the reasons, is we want to make sure our rankings go back up. And that Google sees us as having the most authoritative piece of content in whatever area we’re trying to rank for. And the second, just like what you said, we want to keep driving leads, that content. We want people that come to that content, really be like, “This is really great content. So impressive in fact, that I’m going to download this ebook, or I’m going to go sign up for this webinar, or I’m going to go listen to this podcast.” That’s how you win on the internet.

But the third piece I’ve actually been focusing on a lot, as I’ve been going through old content, is we run a blog that gets a 150,000 unique visitors a month. That’s a lot of people that come to our blog for advice.

Speaker 3: That’s a fact.

Speaker 2: It’s actually really important for us to update our content. Not just because of those two things, but because if we give out outdated advice to people, and 10,000 people visit this blog post and get outdated advice, that’s on us. It’s kind of our responsibility to make sure our content stays updated, kind of for the good of the web. So that’s something I think that I’ve been thinking a little bit about, that I think is also true. It’s like if you run a blog that’s big enough, it’s getting all this content, it’s kind of your responsibility to maintain that content too.

I’m not saying it’s easy to do that, or that it doesn’t take resources to do that, because it definitely is… I’m putting this big plan together and it’s a lot of stuff, but it’s important to do that for the good of the people, and the good of the WordPress community in the WordPress space, I think.

Speaker 3: Yeah. I do love that you do that. I honestly don’t hear that very often, and it’s funny that you bring that up, because at HubSpot, we recently started doing kind of this user experience audit across our product, across our website. And we realized that well, there are some pieces of our product that we definitely wanted to improve, and we’re always working to get feedback and improve that. We also realized that the blog, while it worked in a sense that it functioned and there weren’t any bugs, we found blog posts from say, 2007, that were completely outdated, of course. We-

Speaker 2: Wait, wait, are you saying that SEO isn’t the same in 2019, as it was in 2007? It’s changed?

Speaker 3: I mean a few things have changed, [inaudible 00:13:15]. But yeah, we had to make the decision, do we remove this blog post because it’s completely irrelevant, or do we update it? And depending on the blog posts, whether it was ranking for certain keywords, or if it was actually valuable or relevant, some, we updated, some, we actually just deleted. But we’ve been going through this process that we’re calling Content Pruning, another term that we just decided to creative, of the content can either be updated, deleted, or redirected to something more relevant. And that’s how we continue to just make sure that the quality of our blog stays good, or as good as we can keep it, besides those stray things that just happen to show up that is not linked to anywhere.

Speaker 4: When I think back to my experiences, either in starting a website or building websites for other businesses, that are pretty thriving businesses, the beauty of open source, is I can go pick anything I want and put it right into my environment. The challenge with that, is with every additional plugin or tool that you incorporate into your tool belt, it doesn’t just add one more level of sophistication, it actually adds, I think, maybe a factor, an N factorial level of complications, because now you have one more tool that has to connect with the seven other tools you already have.

And so starting a business and starting a website, is actually really easy today, with easy hosting and themes, and then you can pick the plugins. But when you start to begin your growth endeavors, is where that tech debt, that system begins to really fall apart and break. And that’s what we’re trying to solve here, is we’re not necessarily the best form tool. We may not be the best live chat tool, but we’re working hard to try to make our pieces of the puzzle really good. But we’re going out and building world-class integrations with the best in-class companies, where Gravity Forms just released about a month ago, their HubSpot add-on, that makes gravity forms and HubSpot works seamlessly together.

And now we’re doing that across every other vertical that sings that narrative of contact management, so that businesses can use any tool they want. But HubSpot becomes the centerpiece of all that contact information, that allows you as the business owner to just know everything about everybody, without having to worry about connecting too many dots.

Speaker 2: Yeah, that’s a cool idea, even just with that one example you said. The way we kind of use HubSpot and connect it to our contact form right now, is we kind of just have our contact form sends an email to this email address, so that email is hooked into HubSpot. That’s fine, right? That sends the contact into HubSpot, we can start the sales process there, but it would be nice if we could have different forms that automatically fill into HubSpot. So that when they come in, they’re automatically marked as a lead, they’re automatically marked as whatever the areas we have in HubSpot. That would be nice. So…

Speaker 4: And to that note, too, I think with that challenge, that’s what our plugin solves today. Is we have this feature that David’s built and the team’s built, called Collected Forms, that actually when you install the HubSpot plugin, it adds a script on top of every form that already exists on your website, almost as a listener. So when somebody fills out that form, and they fill out at joe@wpbuffs.com, that information automatically sinks into HubSpot. So no longer do you have to get that email notification, and be like, “Hey team, can you add this to the CRM?” And then lose track of everything.

Now, [inaudible 00:16:42] also establish on that person, just from the plugin, so that now you can see all the pages Joe’s actually already viewed, the form that he filled out, and then use that intelligently to potentially even serve it up to do an email marketing campaign. Or to have your team reach out to say, “Hey, Joe, we actually noticed you looked at our pricing page and our services page, and we’re also looking at other assets, how can we help you?” So the whole goal is to give you context to your contacts, to make sure that you can healthily, and in a really easy way, build great relationships.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I feel like the personalization of that contact and that communication, is really huge in our sales process. And so the more information we can have, about what people are doing across everything we do, whether it’s a website, whether it’s in HubSpot, whether it’s like in the meeting people booked, the more information we can have, the more informed we can be when we’re going through the sales process. Because in our mind, sales is kind of just education. We kind of treat it as like, “Well, we want to show the value of our tool, as it’s going to be most valuable to you. Or, “The value of our services, what’s most valuable to you.”

And some people are like, they just looked at the security page, obviously interested in security. So we want to talk more about security when we’re either on a call with them or anything. So, yeah, yeah, cool man. It sounds like the plugin is going pretty well.

Speaker 4: So far, I think there’s 80,000 plus active users. I think there’s a four and a half star rating, which we feel good about. We want to get that higher, but I also think with just our whole mission, is we’re going and doing customer research, and talking to our partners and our customers and the agencies. And you’re saying like, “What is it that you need?” And I think a lot of times, everything that you mentioned from disconnected tools, it’s not the disconnected tools that’s the problem, it’s, “Why does that matter?”

It’s then, “Well, I’m doing my work in Mailchimp, and then I have WPForms, and then I have my ads tool with Hootsuite, and then I also have my social media over here.” And then you hire a person onto your team and it’s all complicated, and they can’t grow. So we’re on that mission to help businesses grow better, and figure out a way to do it in a really easy fashion, that works nicely with tools that they may already be using today.

Speaker 2: Yeah, you actually kind of just described exactly what we did. It was like, “We’ve got a lot of marketing stuff to take care of that’s all slightly complicated, and we always try to make it more automated and make it simpler.” But my solution to that, was, “Okay, I’m hiring a marketer.” So now, Caitlin is our head of marketing, and she handles all the marketing, but we didn’t really solve that many of the problems in that hire, of making things truly simpler and kind of all core in one place. It’s a continual journey that we’re always trying to do better at, but yeah.

I mean, I tell people all the time, the way to the way to scale correctly, is to figure out the things that you’re doing over and over again, and to automate them, and to figure out what those hard pieces are, and try and make them a little easier. And if you can do that, you’ll be in a pretty good place. So that even when you do hire someone, they’re efficient with what they do.

Speaker 4: 100%, and then it’s fun too. It’s the systems, I think, is one of the biggest challenges for people today. And I don’t know if that will ever go away, I actually feel like it’s just getting worse and worse with the more tools that get created, but I think in order to do it correctly, you will always have to hire great people. But ideally, the systems take care of all the stuff like you mentioned, that needs to be automated. And then the people can do their job in a system that works, in a way that is repeatable. And that’s what we’re hoping to do with you guys as partners, and there’s all these other companies that we’re trying to help with. And it’s a really fun mission to rally around.

I’m going to put myself in the shoes of the listeners, and either the customers, and perhaps even the agencies out there. Building on WordPress is hard. It’s gotten easier. If you are brand new to the ecosystem or have been doing it before, you sign up for a host, you probably have your domain and live somewhere else. You connect the two together, you spin up WordPress inside that host, you install a theme and a few plugins, and then you make your site look awesome, and then what?

Today, we hear so many people say, “I’m looking to redesign my website. I’m looking to redesign my website,” and we go and look at it, and it’s not bad. So what’s the problem, right? I think the nature of WordPress, and all of these a hundred million plus websites in it, people care more about the look of their website, than the way it actually helps perform their business. I think that’s about to fundamentally change, that’s our guess. What’s happening now, is if you look at the world’s best plugins, there’s a select few that are monsters in the space, and everybody’s using them, which is awesome. It’s the way it should be. I think what happens in the long tail, is it’s very hard to be a new business in the plugin space today, and actually do great.

The service providers out there, like you guys, are adding a ton of value by connecting the dots between these super premium plugins, but how are you growing your business? Right? It still comes down to, “My site looks good and it has good features.” That’s not enough today. The next phase of what I believe will happen inside of WordPress, is this business growth phase. Meaning, how do we take our beautiful website, and how do we attract the right people, engage with them the way that they want to be engaged, and then delight them throughout the process? That’s business model, that’s also operations and systems. And I think what we’re starting to see, and I’ll give an example of it, is you have to now tailor everything you do, not to your desire, but to the desire of the customer.

The example I’ll use, is I have friends that own and operate a big function hall, just South of Boston, called Lombardo’s. They’re if not the best, one of the best in Boston for weddings, corporate events, social events, you name it. Their website, they just went through a redesign that cost them a good amount of chunk of change. And the company that they used, actually killed a bunch of pages that were ranking really well for them.

Speaker 2: Oh man.

Speaker 4: So when you were searching and Googling Boston Indian weddings, they used to rank number one. And that page, because it didn’t fit the mold of the look and feel, was killed. So we had to then go back and say, what the heck do we want to do? Now you look better, but you don’t function better, and that traffic that you were once getting isn’t coming anymore. And this is happening, I’m going to put a guesstimate to it, probably 30% of the time when I hear people do redesigns. “We’re going to slim down our site, we’re going to make it look better,” but yes, that can be great for usability, but it can also absolutely kill everything that you’ve worked hard to gain.

So we looked at it, and we said, “Okay, what are your top performing pages?” They have a weddings page, they have a homepage, they have a corporate events page, they have a couple other ones, but these were the ones from Google analytics with the WPMU DEV plugin, we said, “These are the top pages that people are coming on today. ” Great, let’s start there. We put HubSpot live chat on their site, all through the plugin, and within a two month period, they generated 100 leads.

And the experience that was going through on that live chat, is people don’t want to fill out long registration forms, or say, “I’m having an 150 person wedding on this date with this amount…” It’s too much information, stop it. Let’s now make it feel like texting. Let’s make it feel like customers can come to you and ask the questions, without being scared to fill out a long form, without giving too much information. And so this live chat, and the bot that you can turn on for free using HubSpot, the first thing it would prompt to do, is say, “Hey, we’re your Lombardo’s concierge service bot. Please chat with us, and let us know where you’re looking for help with.” And the first prompt is, “What are you looking for? Wedding, corporate event, menus, catering,” whatever.

When they click wedding, it says, “Oh great, congrats. When are you looking to have your wedding?” They then ask a date. All of this feels human-to-human, but really there’s a bot behind the scene. They generated a hundred leads in two months. So feature functionality and user experience, that user experience is the last bullet that I think is going to start coming into WordPress, and it’s going to come in in a big way. You now have to deliver great experiences wherever people are, and do it in a way that’s unified to their interests, that also helps you engage with them. Where you said it best, “You have a sales team, but you just like to think of them as helping and supporting.” That’s all you can do today, you just have to make sure that you’re converting people and talking to people in the right way. And then now they know everything about them, and can tailor the right information to the right audience.

Speaker 2: Yeah, for sure, man. We use the live chat on our website and it generates a ton of leads for us. We’ve experimented with the bot as well, and it’s all pretty interesting to see how people are interacting with such a… Whether it’s a bot, or truly chatting with us, it’s a much easier experience. It’s more like one-on-one experience, than filling out a form or something. A lot of people dig it, and a lot of people, yeah, definitely generates a lot of leads for us.


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