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Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with Tim Soulo, the CMO and Product Advisor for Ahrefs.
Tim Soulo AhrefsTune in to hear why Ahrefs depends on content marketing to sell its product, how they came to have more backlinks than their competitors and how this keyword ranking company does its SEO.

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Matthew Barby - HubSpot

Hey everyone! Today’s episode is with Matthew Barby, Global Head of Growth and SEO at HubSpot, which is an inbound marking and sales platform.

Tune in to hear Matthew share the various SEO strategies he has employed in and outside of HubSpot (plus his most successful campaign to date), how you can write for top publications, and the importance of knowing the fundamentals of link architecture and Google algorithms so you can solve your own SEO problems, not just employ the tactics.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: HubSpot’s Global Head of Growth & SEO Explains Why Backlinks Are the Most Effective Factor for Ranking

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3 Key Points:

  1. Experimentation should be carried out with these factors in mind: replication, scale, resources employed and potential reward.
  2. HubSpot is planning on being laser-focused on the content that is considered “top of the funnel”.
  3. Understanding the fundamentals of link building and Google algorithms will prove more successful than just employing the tactics.

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How to Start Tailoring Your Emails with Marketing Automation

Today, I’m going to give you a little refresher (or crash course) on marketing automation and tailoring your email messages to people who behave a certain way on your website.

Tag Your Visitors and Put Them into Sequences

Take Single Grain, for example. If you visit our services page or our case studies page, you’re different from someone who has just visited our home page and bounced in a minute or less. So, as the site owner, I want to tailor my messaging based on visitor behaviors.

Single Grain services

How many lead magnets does a visitor download on my site? What kind of content are they most interested in? Maybe they visited my SEO section 5 or 6 times. My goal is to find these interested visitors and tag them appropriately, then send them the correct message. That way it’s not just one general email nurture sequence for everyone. It’s tailored to what I think they want or need.

Marketing Funnels

That being said, you should definitely still have a general email nurture sequence. Give people consistently useful content so they can raise their hand when they’re ready to buy from you. I’ll show you what that looks like. I’m also going to show you a little more sophistication with marketing automation, because a lot of the clients we work with don’t even have funnels built out and they need funnels.

If you need a little more elaboration on what marketing funnels are, just Google “marketing funnels.” We are usually the #2-#4 result (How to Create A Marketing Funnel That Generates Sales). Also check out AWeber and Kissmetrics because they also have great resources on this and they’re great companies.

Google marketing funnels

Email Marketing Solutions

Our email marketing solution, Drip (owned by Leadpages), is basically a cross between MailChimp and Infusionsoft (also known as “Confusionsoft”). MailChimp is a little too simplistic, but they’re getting more sophisticated. Also, I’m not going to hate on Infusionsoft because I’ve seen it do powerful things for Neil. But Drip is awesome because it gives you the best of both worlds.

Drip dashboard

Now let’s see how Drip works. If I go to the Growth Everywhere email campaigns, the content is basically my interview podcasts where I talk to a lot of different entrepreneurs. I’ve done over 200 interviews, so that’s a lot of content right there.

Related Content: Cold Emailing: Best Outbound Sales Automation Tools

Drip email campaign

The great thing about this type of content is it’s helpful to everyone who’s looking to learn how to grow a business, because I’m talking to these people, I’m getting their story, I’m finding out how they grew their business, how they started it, what struggles they went through, etc. The stories are evergreen. So it’s pretty easy for me to put all these emails into a general sequence (because everyone can benefit from them).

The Kind of Email Content I’m Sending Out

Here’s one: How a Middle School Dropout Built a 50 Million Pageview Site. Or how about this one: How Social Triggers Grew to 300,000 Subscribers Using this Formula. So I just keep going and going and I keep hitting them with content. This podcast is once a week, in addition to our new blog posts that are coming out regularly.

The idea is to keep hitting your list with incredibly useful, FREE content over and over and over. You don’t say, “Hey, come buy my stuff.” You keep giving value over time. And, naturally, your list will raise their hands when they’re ready to buy. Yes, you could throw an offer at them, like a webinar, but ideally you’re nurturing them through a sequence.

Learn More: Why Neil Patel Pays $30,000 for Content & Gives it Away For Free

One of the guys from Drip, Zach Grove, actually did an audit of our work flow. When Zach audited our account, he said, “Well you know, you have all these important emails, such as trying to get people to go to a webinar or trying to get people to check out a PDF. But in your current sequence right now, your general nurture sequence, you’re only hitting them once.”

They’re only going to see that email one time and then they’re going to move onto the next thing. Chances are, most people aren’t going to click these emails.

He was right. My open rate was 57% on the first one, but it started dropping and dropping until it was averaging around 20%. Instead, you should be hitting your list over and over with the same email (with minor variations, mostly in the headline), until they actually open it.

If they don’t open it over a 5-email span, we’re going to move them to the next sequence. But we want to give them more opportunities to view our main offers. That way we’re going to convert more people at a higher level.

Have a Solid Email Workflow

So, after learning this from Zach, I made a Single Grain “important emails” workflow and anyone that opts into Single Grain or Growth Everywhere is going to move through this sequence.

Drip workflow

If they subscribe, great, they’re going to be put into a delayed sequence. And then we’re going to send them a campaign, like a “13 customer acquisition campaigns” webinar. Once they open the email, they’re tagged and then they move to the next sequence.

I can also make a segment where if they’ve viewed all this stuff, I know that they’re really qualified and I’m going to try and send them additional offers because they’re further down the funnel.

Single Grain Marketing Funnel

But you’re not able to do this with a basic email marketing tool. You need something that’s more sophisticated, like Infusionsoft or Drip.

For access to Drip, just go to

Eventually, once someone has moved through a lot of the workflow and they’re ready for more commitment, I start sending them to webinars. And then from the webinar we might send them our case studies or our marketing roadmap. I’ll send them a backlink campaign as well.

And if they view this backlinks campaign, guess what? I’m going to send them our Airbnb backlinks case study.

Analysis of 1 Million Backlinks Airbnb

This is a study on 1 million backlinks, this is another one on 1 million Udemy backlinks. We have 10 of these studies, and this is just one sequence. Overall, we put people through 420 days of content.

That’s 14 months of content in addition to the general nurture sequences we run and that’s okay. That’s worth it, because a lot of our clients actually start working with us maybe a year or two in. Our sales cycle is pretty long; usually it takes about 3-4 months to close. And this is true for many agencies.

So, if you have all this content, why are you not doing a better job of getting it in front of the right people? If you have amazing stuff, it’s your job to put it in front of your audience.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:


This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

4 Steps To Expand and Promote Your Epic ContentStop me if this sounds familiar…

You’ve worked hard on your latest blog post, and it’s finally ready for publication. You take it live on your website, blast it out to Facebook and Twitter, then you sit back and wait for the views and comments to start rolling in. You engage a bit with your audience, but before you know it, it’s time to move on. Your editorial calendar never stops chugging—just as soon as you’ve finished one piece of content, it’s time for the next one.

Now, I’m not going to say that this is totally wrong. If your choices are to do content marketing like this or to not do it at all, then by all means, do content marketing like this.

But if you aren’t satisfied with the results you’re getting, there’s a reason for that. There’s a much more effective way to do content marketing and—as an added bonus—adopting this alternate approach can seriously cut down the amount of time and energy you put into content creation.

Here’s how I go about maximizing the value of my content:

Free Bonus Download: Get more actionable info about creating 10x content not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Step #1 – Make Sure Your Content Is Actually “Epic”

I know the title of this post implies that you’re already working with “epic” content. But since so much of what I see online—even long-form posts—is basically rehashed nonsense, this is an important step nonetheless.

So what makes content truly epic? Ask yourself the following questions before you even think about hitting the “Publish” button:

If your answers to these questions reveal any weaknesses, address them before putting your content out into the world.

Step #2 – Repurpose Your Content

eric1So, you had a great idea. You wrote about it in a blog post. And now you’re ready to move on? Hold on a second—this kind of “once and done” approach doesn’t serve you or your customers.

You’ve probably got a few avid readers, but most of your website visits likely come from people who encounter your site elsewhere on the web (and click through to one specific piece of content) or from regular fans who check back now and again.

The problem is that, in both of these scenarios, there’s a decent chance that readers who would be interested in your latest posts will miss them—especially if you keep up a rigorous publishing schedule. To increase the odds that they’ll see your work (and to reach those who have different preferences about how they consume content), try repurposing your content using the following formats:

This isn’t it when it comes to repurposing your content, either. Sites like Periscope, Vine, Snapchat, Quora, Google+ and others could all be powerful allies in getting your message shared, depending on your business’s individual aims.

Read More: The Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat

Free Bonus Download: Get more actionable info about creating 10x content not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Step #3 – Publish Your Content Elsewhere

In addition to creating new content pieces based on your original idea, be sure that your initial piece gets as much traction as possible by publishing it in as many places as possible.

Now, to be totally clear, I’m not suggesting that you take a single article and post it on every site that’ll have it (although syndicating content to sites like Medium and LinkedIn may be appropriate). That’s 2008-era SEO, when spamming article directories was considered valuable marketing.

Let me give you an example to highlight the difference…

Over on my Growth Everywhere blog, I regularly interview leading growth hackers and marketing experts. Once I’ve completed an interview, I’m not just going to publish the final video to my site and hope for the best. To get as many eyes on it as possible, I’ll also publish it to:

I don’t even spend that much time on sites like YouTube and LinkedIn, but just publishing there can score me 4,000+ YouTube views and 400 website visits from LinkedIn members:


It’s not much, but it’s more than I’d get if I didn’t push my content elsewhere. And over time, it all adds up.

Learn More: A Step-by-Step Checklist For A Successful YouTube Ad Campaign

Step #4 – Leverage Influencers to Aid in Promotion

The last step you want to do to expand the reach of your content is to work with well-established authority figures in your industry.

One of the best ways to do that is to take the content you’ve already published and, assuming it’s high quality, use it to pitch these influencers on potential guest post opportunities on their sites. They’re much more likely to accept your request if you can prove that the content you’ll be contributing is worth their time.

eric2This strategy is part of a larger marketing approach known as “influencer marketing.” And since it deals with the creation of entirely new content—versus using what you’ve already produced—there’s one last tip I want to leave you with.

Before you move on to creating new content pieces, take one last look through your blog post and see if you’ve mentioned any influencers in it. If you have (and you really should have), take a second to message them, let them know about the mention and encourage them to share your work with their followers.

Not everyone will respond to your requests, but you might be surprised by how many do. Brian Dean, founder of the popular Backlinko SEO blog, estimates that he gets an 11% conversion rate on content promotion emails.

So there you have it – four steps that’ll help you get more out of every content piece you create.

Free Bonus Download: Get more actionable info about creating 10x content not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Are you using strategies like these already? Leave me a comment below sharing how much of a difference content expansion has made for your business’s performance!

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casey winters pinterestHi everyone, today’s interview is with Casey Winters, the mastermind behind leading growth at Pinterest, a visual bookmarking tool which is absolutely on fire. Though Pinterest can’t share lots of numbers, they’re estimated to have over 72 million users, and have secured over $1.3 billion in funding. Beyond that, they’ve got over one billion boards with more than 50 billion pins.

Besides his work at Pinterest, Casey was also the first marketer hired by GrubHub, which he grew from three to 600+ cities, making it the dominant national player in online food delivery.

Throughout the interview, Casey shares some of the best SEO tips and strategies we’ve heard to support drastic growth, so this interview is definitely worth a listen.


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A Growth-Focused Career Starts With Classifieds and Ends With a Social Media Giant

Casey’s been working in online growth for a little over 10 years. He started working in online classifieds with a company called Classified Ventures, which was also busy starting a lot of new companies from within.

After learning about all the initiatives that grow an internet-based business like paid search, organic search, and email marketing, Casey started working directly with them.

After Classified Ventures, Casey went to GrubHub as their very first marketing hire. They were already in three cities with $1 million in Series A funding, but they needed someone to help them scale to a national level.

There, Casey focused on growing the consumer side of the business through organic search, paid search, email, conversion optimization, loyalty programs, TV ads, and so on.

He helped them grow from three to 600 cities. They also acquired a bunch of other companies along the way, and after going public in April 2014, they’re now valued at over $2 billion in public markets.

After that success, he decided he wanted a change in weather from cold Chicago to sunny California, and ended up at Pinterest. There, he leads the growth team of engineers, designers, product managers and analysts.

Today, they’re especially focused on international growth. Pinterest is already a 40% international service, but they really want to be majority international.

Growth Trends That Carry Over From Startup to Startup

When you have a lot of content and pages of content, says Casey, search can be a really strong way to grow a business.

But the building block of creating an organic search strategy, says Casey, is figuring out how to organize your content in the same way people search for it, so if they land on your page, it boosts their experience. And to scale, you need to be able to do it without hand-curating every single page.

For example, GrubHub was all about creating a page that would tell people everything they needed to know, show them restaurants that delivered to their neighborhood, how to order, and so on. Then, they needed to find a way to scale it that would work for any neighborhood, zip code, college campus, or city someone might be in.

A big part of it was building a back-end system that let them see when they had enough restaurants in a given location to turn on a page, or enough Chinese food in a certain city to turn on a page specifically for that.

Differentiating One Online Listing Service From Another: The Race of Innovation

When GrubHub started, it wasn’t focused on online ordering as much as it was simply showing you all the restaurants that would deliver to your neighborhood.

As time went on, online delivery became the stronger value proposition they needed, so that adapted that service offering.

But after a while, their competitors caught on, so they had to adopt a new, stronger value proposition of customer service.

To do that, they promised that GrubHub would take ownership of the order no matter what problem occurred: if the food was late, the wrong item arrived, it didn’t taste good, etc.

With most startups, says Casey, if you’re doing something that works and are growing faster than others, your competitors will respond.

If you start winning, he says, everyone else will just adopt your tactics. So it just becomes one big race of innovation.

Building Up GrubHub’s Restaurant Inventory

To get restaurants on board to grow GrubHub’s national reach, they used a sales team and used a replicable city launch process.

For example, when they decided they wanted to launch in LA, they would send a couple of sales reps to talk to restaurants for a week, and then they would have 50 restaurants to start with that were ready to work with them. (Often times, they would start focusing on the most popular neighborhoods first, and then expand from there.)

Then, they would put all the restaurants into their backend system and create landing pages for anyone looking to order from those restaurants.

Then, they’d go to the press in that market, and ask the press to link to their SEO pages so they could get better rankings.

They’d keep sales people in those markets to keep growing and growing the service. But as national awareness grew, they found they didn’t need to send people directly to the market to collect restaurants, they could cold-call restaurants over the phone instead… but it took three years to get to that point.

Casey also attributes the move from in-person restaurant sales to cold calling to the fact that after three years, the cities you’re launching to start to get smaller and smaller

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Growing Pinterest to a Massive Scale

Casey says that growth from one million to 10 or 50 million still requires the same tools in your tool kit and the same type of work as growing from 1,000 to 10,000… it’s just that the scale graphs look very different.

For example: SEO.

Pinterest has lots of pins and boards that individuals take the time to curate as the best content on the web, so their content is really high quality.

The challenge, though, was that they were images, so by default, Google didn’t have any idea what the pages were about. This took a lot of work with users and the data they were able to generate to really explain that one certain page was about woodworking, for example. But once they figured it out, it really helped them grow.

He also still uses email marketing.

He says it’s very effective with bringing people back by showing them new content, as long as you make sure all the content is very personalized, because people on Pinterest have widely diverse interests.

Challenges in Growing SEO for a Site With 50 Billion Pages

The thing is, search engines will not crawl all 50 billion pins or 1 billion boards, so Casey and his colleagues had to figure out which pins and boards were worth showing to search engines.

To get better at this, particularly with their level of scale, they had to build an SEO experiment framework.

Because they have so much content, in order to understand if the changes they were making were helping or hurting the understanding search engines had of their pages, they have to split things out by page level and do experiments that way.

For example, they’d make a change on 10% of the boards (rather than on user profiles or pins) to see if that particular change enabled search engines to send more traffic or not.

The Specs of This A/B SEO Framework Pinterest Put Together

First, says Casey, you have to identify what pages you can group together based on their similarities. (Like pins, boards, etc.)

Then you need to create a mechanism to randomly sample a group of boards or pins, and be careful to note that not all boards and pins are created equal.

Once you’ve got your sample group, make a change that a search engine will crawl in the enabled group, but not see in the control group, and then think about which metrics you’re aiming to improve with the experiment, and run the experiment for at least three weeks.

Casey says it’s actually not a supremely daunting task, but if you’re only getting 100 visits from Google per day, it might be a waste of time. This kind of framework becomes helpful once you get into the millions.

Challenges of Going International

In 2014, Pinterest was translated into over 20 languages. But since then, they’ve found that simple translation is in no way sufficient for international growth.

For example, Pinterest is a platform that’s all about content that gets surfaced.

So the early adapters in other countries who used it before the translations were using it in English, and posting all of their content in English as well.

So, for example, even though Pinterest has been translated into Japanese, Japanese users would still be shown a ton of English content, even though the majority of the Japanese population couldn’t read it.

For this, they had to reconfigure how their discovery engine worked to prioritize local content and train users that if they are pinning in their country, they shouldn’t feel a need to write things in English.

This is an on-going process that doesn’t scale everywhere, so they pretty much have to make the effort on a country-by-country basis.

SEO is also very different internationally.

There’s lots of well-ranking content in the US, but Pinterest abroad doesn’t get credit for that because it’s not in the local language. So to get discovered by Google, they had to create some really detailed organization systems so Google found the local content rather than the English content, which was also quite difficult to do at scale.

On top of those two things, there’s been a lot of localization and culture-based work. (For example, photos of people running for fun definitely would not work well in some cultures, accents need to be able to work well, and some words have totally different meanings in different languages.)

Country Code Domains vs. Sub Domains

Right now, Pinterest uses all subdomains ( rather than country-specific domains (

A lot of the country-based domains were purchased by squatters, so having consistent top-level domains in every country just wasn’t possible, so they use subdomains everywhere.

But if you’re a startup that wants to go international, says Casey, you should buy all the country code versions of your name… it’s money well spent.

Because Pinterest is stuck using sub domains, for example, their click through rates from search engines is a litter lower than it would be otherwise.

Building a Marketing Team in a Consumer Technology Company

The main thing when hiring a good marketing team, says Casey, is to remember that there are two types of marketing to be done: growth marketing and brand marketing.

Growth marketing is everything surrounding analytics and measurements. It’s product-focused initiatives like conversion optimization, SEO, and paid marketing.

Brand marketing, on the other hand, is focused around the company message, positioning, and softer channels like social media and PR, which are less measurable and more story-based.

Typically, these two types of marketing require two very different skill sets. Ideally, you’ll want a CMO or marketing lead that understands the value of both. And if you’re hiring, you need to know the difference between those skill sets and what value they’ll provide.

The earlier you are, the more you’ll probably focus on growth marketing, and the more sophisticated your company becomes, the more you’ll focus on brand marketing.

Selling the Importance of SEO & Backlinks to Executives Who Don’t Get It

Ultimately, you need to prove yourself with data. That’s just how most tech companies are run.

Marketing is normally well-understood as a function, says Casey, but technology companies don’t have a default respect for the discipline.

With SEO specifically, says Casey, you need to be able to do experiments and show the results.

Backlinks, though, are way more complicated to explain. It’s almost impossible to prove the value of link building from an analytical prospective, so you need to do a little theoretical persuasion.

Basically, if you decide not to do link building and your competitors do, you have more of a chance of dying. So if all you need to do is link-build to make sure you don’t die against your competitors, it’s generally the profitable thing to do.

Growth Tactics Beyond SEO & Email

Casey says that for Pinterest, they also work with publishers and partners.

On Pinterest, every single piece of content comes from somewhere else. So if publishers optimize their content to drive traffic to Pinterest, it ensures that they have a good experience on their site, but also that it can generate clicks back to their content.

Getting publishers to add the Pin It button to their sites, for example, drives brand recognition for Pinterest, but also encourages people to save the content they’re reading by creating an account.

But from an over-arching perspective, says Casey, Pinterest grew mostly via word of mouth, especially since it was invitation-only for a long time.

Free Bonus Download: Get our effective SEO guide here:
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Hiring Good SEOs

Casey admits it can be difficult to find good SEO professionals to hire… particularly in the case of Pinterest, which is operating at a scale that is fairly unique in the SEO challenges they deal with. After all, not many services have over 50 billion pages that are shown to Google.

To help overcome that challenge, he’s sought out companies that he sees relatively often when he’s searching and recognizes that they’re operating internationally and are good at scale. He creates an open dialogue with them as long as they’re not competitive to see the things they’re seeing.

As far as hiring, he says seeking out people doing really great SEO at other companies has been the most valuable thing to do.

Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self

“Learn to code.”

On a personal level, he’d tell himself to starting thinking about exercise and building a healthy diet. He says 25 is around the age that your body starts telling you things that you can’t continue to do at the same rate.

On a professional level:

“Your career is really about the people you meet and the skills you collect.”

He says it’s important to focus more on collecting skills, what you’re learning today, and how to learn more rather than being preoccupied with a job title or certain role you want.

Weekly Working Structure

On Mondays, Casey does a lot of one-on-one meetings to figure out what people want to accomplish for the week, what challenges they’re having, and to uncover any insights he needs to think about. He also sets the tone for the week with a metrics meeting where they look at the previous week, what happened, why it happened, and ways to improve the good and mitigate the bad.

On Tuesdays, he focuses on deep-dives with sub-teams. For example, within growth, they’ve got an acquisition team, a conversion team, an engagement team, and an international team. Here they break down the metrics on a deeper level and do a deep dive on one specific initiative they’re working on.

On Wednesdays, he doesn’t do meetings, and the entire growth team focuses on hammering through the large-scale things they want to get accomplished.

On Thursdays, he does a lot of outside chatting (like this podcast), gets perspectives from other people, and meets with the product team to understand other things that are going on.

Four Must-Read Books

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Khaneman
  2. The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb
  3. Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey More
  4. The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt & Jeff Cox

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