Interview with Sarah McIntyre Founder and Chief Strategist at BRIGHT Inbound Marketing
Steve Wetmore – Good morning Sarah McIntyre calling out of Sydney, Australia area. Sarah is Founder and Chief Strategist at BRIGHT Inbound Marketing. Sarah, could you take a few minutes and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do and talk also about your experience within the industry from a credibility perspective?
Sarah McIntyre – I’ve been a marketer for over 20 years, I started my career in tech companies and startups, move to a few big global multinationals and then started BRIGHT Inbound Marketing in 2009. Mainly because I wanted to execute some really great campaigns and put best practices in place. I think when you work for big companies, that doesn’t necessarily happen. And I was excited about the growth of content marketing and the growth of and the technology platforms that were available to really get much more personalized with your marketing and, and deliver a good customer experience. So, for the last nine years, I’ve been working with organizations to help them build some momentum with their marketing. I think there’s for a lot of business owners with a lot of confusion and frustration about marketing. There’s so many different tactics and shiny and new things to try that it’s just overwhelmingly confusing for a lot of people. So I help them to really define their strategy by focusing on delivering great customer experience.
Steve Wetmore – Excellent. That’s something that everyone needs.
Sarah McIntyre – There’s so much noise in the marketing world, it’s so hard to know what to do and what to do next. And it’s easy to get distracted. And there’s, you know, lots of different organizations pitching different things like, you need to do Facebook ads, or you need to do video, well, you need to do this or that. And so it’s very hard to for for people to filter through that noise.
Steve Wetmore – I agree with that. So talk a little bit about what you’ve been able to accomplish in the industry, if you if you speak at any events, or if you sit on any committees or boards.
Sarah McIntyre – This year, I was a judge for the Stevie awards, which was really great. I got to see heaps of great different content ideas coming out of the Asia Pacific region. So that was really fun. And then I’ve been I’ve been a HubSpot partner for about nine years. And I think even more importantly, I’ve helped my clients really grow their businesses, one client in particular, we grew a whole million dollar revenue stream for them in under a year with no paid advertising, just by leveraging the content that they already had. I mean, they were they were very unique. They’re not like, Is there an outlier, that they’re a very unique client, that they had an incredible amount of traffic and incredible, valuable content that people kept coming back for that they just hadn’t figured out how to monetize it.
Steve Wetmore – That is an excellent segue into what we’re going to talk about next. So I’d really love to hear the story of how you leveraged some some great content and helped organization convert that content into cash. And and if you can try to relate it to SEO.
Sarah McIntyre – Well, this particular client had portals that they would produce really great content so that people would be accessing it all the time without actually giving them any data in exchange using it. So it was quite obvious that they needed to put some forms in place, do some basic profiling forms for people to provide info before they get access to the content that they were already producing and publishing. So we put some forms in place and credits of content around those great assets to lead people to the form and then we had we had their information. And it was quite a simple process of saying to people, “did you find what you were looking for?” I feel that before we’d say, “did you find what you’re looking for?” You know, and it was a very personal, very simple follow up. And people would reply back to that email and say, Oh, actually, no, I was looking for this, or that and didn’t quite find that. And so then the consultant had great data to start having a conversation and see what there is opportunity there. It was really, that simple. It wasn’t rocket science. It was just they hadn’t connected the dots on how to capture all this great traffic that they’re getting.
Steve Wetmore – So essentially, you created a content locker. The people provided there. Yeah, exactly. And then and then you by asking some questions, you created conversation.
Sarah McIntyre – And then on top of that, we created some summary ebooks at different segments of the content. So we could create a summary ebook about a particular demographic region that was really topical and interesting, promote that on social or just organic social, and then an email because they had a great email database, and then that would that would drive more traffic and conversions.
Steve – Wetmore – Very good. So do you have any other examples that you could share with us? That again, would how you how you’re using content marketing to improve or change SEO?
Sarah McIntyre – Content and SEO go hand in hand. You need the technology infrastructure, platform and any conversion strategy. I think they’re all interlinked. So you know, I’m even podcasting, you know, it’s all interlinked with with the strategy if you just do a podcast on its own and not thinking about how you can convert those visitors into subscribers, or should you be emailing that content out then it’s just a wasted opportunity. And I worry that people sometimes do content in silos and don’t hook it up to a broader strategy, their board and lead gen strategy. So in terms of content SEO, you 100% need to be specific about the keywords that you’ve got that you’re going after. And making sure that you know, that you’re doing all the right technical things from an SEO health perspective, you’re linking internally and linking externally, you’re using your h1 tags and page titles and all that good stuff. But I think also what I’m seeing a lot of is people collaborating with content And that’s great for SEO, and great for social sharing and great for building a community and a good experience is that you collaborate and introduce people and then you link to them and then they often link back to you. They share your content, they’ll featured in on their website and link back to you. So it’s all a very collaborative way of link building and a collaborative way of growing your community.
Steve Wetmore – Agreed. We are heavily involved in social media marketing and in our onboarding conversation with new clients we’re very transparent in that we say, “Don’t rely on any one platform or any one thing to drive traffic. If you’re driving traffic from social followers don’t rely on any one thing to get that done. And it’s also the same message that we’ve been getting across the board from almost every single one of these SEO interviews. All SEOs agree that, when I asked them, “what’s the one thing that that you would want to leave with us today? What’s the one statement?” Almost everyone wraps up with it’s that the whole thing about SEO is it it’s not . What you said is accurate and it’s really important that we continue to internalize this message and not forget.
Sarah McIntyre – Yeah, don’t build your house on rented ground right?
Which is is social platforms, right? You don’t have control of Instagram, you don’t have control of Facebook, you don’t have control of anything that Google does. Google last year changed the algorithm over 3000 times. So it’s like, you are never going to win. You really need to think about ways you can build your own community. And essentially, that’s your own email database. And that’s, That’s the asset that you need to be thinking about building. After all these tactics in social media and SEO; building your own list in your own email database is where you’re going to get the best conversions, and where you are going to create the best revenue opportunities for yourself and ultimately where you have the most control.
Steve Wetmore – Right, I agree. That’s good advice. So do you see anything controversial out there in terms of content marketing and inbound marketing. You’re looking to maximize the inbound traffic, the number of qualified leads you get, the close rate and increase the customer lifetime value. So what what do you see as the challenges right now to get that done?
Sarah McIntyre – I think there is definitely challenges focusing on channels where you’re going to get the best bang for your buck because you can’t be everywhere. So many different there’s so many different things you could you could be doing. The challenge is to pick one and and do it consistently for say 6 months, not just for a month and then get all “that didn’t work”, You really do need to put the put a consistent effort and I’m talking yearly effort, not not a couple of months and then scrap it and start again. So yeah, consistent focus on a particular channel will deliver the results but it’s not sexy, you know?
Steve Wetmore – Since your activities or your business is not centered around SEO as any agency, you are practicing certain certain best practices to improve your SEO get traffic, you know, do all do all the right things. I’m going to ask this question a little differently than instead of what tools you use, what would you say your top three channels would be to, to reach your inbound marketing objective?
Sarah McIntyre – Okay, so we’ve been using SEMrush and hooking up Google Search Console to HubSpot. HubSpot provides a consolidated platform for all of our integrated efforts; landing pages, forms and your contact database. And you can hook it up to Google Search Console to see the keywords that are being used that are coming into your blog. It’s a blogging platform, it’s a social publishing platform, it’s an emailing platform, all in one, which is fantastic. But otherwise, you just have to kind of stick it all together with duct tape and different systems and bit of WordPress, a bit of MailChimp a bit of you know, Hootsuite, whatever, pull stuff together, which just creates a big technical nightmare, that businesses struggle to maintain. So we use HubSpot a lot, as a as a as a sort of base platform. And then I’ve been doing a lot of work with LinkedIn and both organically and an empire. on LinkedIn, okay, and it’s a real, it’s still, if particularly for b2b customers still a really great as continues to be a great platform to use as it still got legs organically, particularly with video. You know, it’s not as competitive as a face and Facebook situation, I think. Also on LinkedIn, people are expecting to have business conversations. Whereas I know when I’m on Facebook, you know, I’m not really, you know, in a business friend of mine, or an Instagram Live, and I’m not really in a business where I’m on I’m on scrolling, looking at people’s beautiful holidays, or their lovely houses or stuff like that. I’m not really picky about my work when I’m on Instagram. But on LinkedIn, I am and I’m more open to having business conversations, which is why we focus a lot of our efforts on that social channel.
Steve Wetmore – Excellent. So when you advertise You can geo target.
Sarah McIntyre – Yes, LinkedIn is great for targeting, you can do you can geo target, you can target by a person’s job title, you can target by the skills, the skills that they’ve self selected. So you know how you know he can self select skills in, in LinkedIn, you can target people that by that. You can also target their seniority in an organization or tenure. You can create custom audiences, targeted accounts. you can load up a list of companies that you want to target and only show your content to those companies. It’s incredibly rich from a business marketing perspective.
Steve Wetmore – Interesting! And you manage that yourself? You don’t have a consultant doing that for you.
Sarah McIntyre – No I do it myself.
Steve Wetmore – Well, very good. So is I’m changing gears here quickly. HubSpot; it’s an app that consolidates a lot of activities. Is it integrated with your website?
Sarah McIntyre – HubSpot Is my website.
Steve Wetmore – I’m looking at your website now. And that platform is HubSpot basically. The tool the “inbound marketing ROI calculator” is that part of the HubSpot platform?
Sarah McIntyre – I got someone to build for me. But still using HubSpot infrastructure. So yeah, it’s all it’s all in one which is the genius of HubSpot. Is it as a platform is that it is an all in one platform you can I run everything on HubSpot. I’ve got videos in it, you can host videos there and get tracking, on how long someone has watched the video. I can integrate Eventbrite if I’m going to do a live event. It takes care of all the event registration then it goes into HubSpot again to integrate my webinars with zoom webinars, and integrate those with HubSpot. You’ve immediately got a list of people who attended and who didn’t attend, so you can send your follow ups. It’s just a really flexible, powerful platform. And it’s a CRM as well. So my deal today and contact today and it is also a customer support that’s got chat. It’s got some haka, such as the whole 360.
Sarah McIntyre – So getting back to you, I think we were talking earlier about customer experience. HubSpot was a great platform for building a full 360 picture of your customer experience. So whenever you’re looking at the content record you can see the marketing content that they’re consumed. Whether they’ve downloaded the latest piece or open demanders email, you can see if they’re a prospect or if there’s work happening from a sales perspective, and they can also see if they’ve got open tickets so that if it is it is going to support issues, you can see that at a glance that this is what’s going on with this customer. That’s really hard to do. Oh, yeah, that’s gonna enterprise grade level visibility of the customer experience, which a lot of small businesses just don’t have.
Steve Wetmore – I’m not aware of any system for small businesses that provides this level of functionality.
Sarah McIntyre – Yeah, I mean HubSpot continues to grow, great synergy not so much for smaller business because you’re looking at a grand a month for the full suite. So it’s pretty much for the mid market businesses, we’ve got 20-30 employees generating at least 5 million revenue. This size business group is still massively underserved with marketing technology. They’ve got the enterprise level players you know, the Salesforce isn’t on marketing automation, Oracle Eloqua marketing automation tools, and then there’s nothing that’s as fully integrated as HubSpot.
Steve Wetmore – Thank you very much for talking with me today. Very useful insights, a little off the SEO path, but it’s all relevant because you’re trying to create those social signals and links and get your customers visibility.