Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with IBM, Ford, LG, Unilever and many more of the world’s largest and most recognized brands, to grow their revenue.
Aaron Agius shares with Marketing On The Move his personal take on Content Marketing, and how to gain your competitive advantage amidst the industry’s best and brightest marketers.
Stephen Esketzis: Hey guys. Stephen Esketzis here from Marketing On The Move. I have got Aaron Agius here with me today. How are you Aaron.
Aaron Agius: I am doing very well, thank you.
Stephen Esketzis: Awesome. Tell us a little bit about what you do, what your company does, and share with the guys what you specialize in.
Aaron Agius: Sure. I am an online marketer. I own and operate a Louder Online. We are a search, social, and content marketing business that operate globally. We have staff and clients around the world, and we typically look after medium to enterprise SaaS clients. We have worked with the likes of Salesforce Head Office in the US, Salesforce Canada, and Coke, talked to IBM, Ford, LG, and a number of the biggest companies in the world.
Stephen Esketzis: How did you get into online marketing to begin with.
Aaron Agius: This actually happened a good ten years ago now. My wife and I were actually on an island in Thailand and we were sitting there trying to work at how we can do that forever. My wife was in marketing for IBM for years. She was [Fleet Manager] and I was into technical stuff, a bit of IT. So we sort of combined our skills and we came back to Sydney for about a year. My wife was working while I sat there and learn everything I can about online marketing. We got to a point one day about a whole month in where we doing some affiliate marketing and that day we made our first 40-cents online.
Stephen Esketzis: Wow. What a day.
Aaron Agius: It was a huge day because the thing that we learned at that time and still know now is that making money online can be highly automated and almost infinitely scalable. So we got 40-cents that day and the very next day we made four hundred dollars doing the exact same thing, just scaling it up.
Stephen Esketzis: It is a bit of a story. I know a lot of people who, and I am sure other business as well who came in to online marketing looking a way to — it is more of a lifestyle goal I guess. You come in to make your lifestyle better. For you obviously, it was how can you live that entrepreneur sort of lifestyle way, not in an office, 9-to-5 every single day just working away.
Aaron Agius: It was a hundred percent that. We designed it initially to be a lifestyle supporting business. We were doing a lot of affiliate marketing, we did not have clients. We just worked when we wanted and how we wanted. We travelled for years, lived in Thailand for years, and in numerous places around the world, and it worked really well. We started to transition from not doing very well in affiliate to having friends in other companies saying, if you can do it for anyone the I am sure you can do it for mine. So we started client-working consulting and really just made out way from being a small business all the way up to the biggest companies around the world and that is where our focus. We changed a number of years ago from being a lifestyle supporting business to something that spans the globe. We have this [7G] staff at the moment; I am in different places around the world. Most of our clients are in the US and Australia, some in Europe, some in Asia, and even Africa. It is going well.
Stephen Esketzis: That is awesome. Now you have obviously come a long way since moving from a lots of business to more of a consulting type of business and working with clients. So what is your specific service. Let us say, someone comes to you and says, Aaron, how can you help me increase my leads, how can you help me grow my business, improve on my sales. What is you first point of — what is your strategy. To grow their sales, and what are your specific tasks you guys implement to get them to where they need to be.
Aaron Agius: You have asked the right question because the only thing that matters to us is providing [unintelligible] marketing stand. As long as were able to do that, we are making the client the successful, we are being successful. The main way that we do that is through search marketing. We have a strong focus on organic search and page search and — to be successful in organic search, the only way you can do that nowadays, is to actually be good at content. Content strategy, content creation, content marketing. Now everyone evolves around having great content that people will actually and socially link to in their own website. Once that happens, you are creating search traffic, social traffic. Then we work with the client on conversion optimization to ensure that traffic is actually converting for them.
Stephen Esketzis: I know you worked with guys like Neil Patel, and you look at some of other big companies out there — even the big SaaS companies that have the infusion software that are focused on content marketing because it really brings in a high quality lead that are looking for results. Obviously when you see a SaaS company that can deliver that result, that is knowledgeable, it gives you a lot of — it builds that trust and rapport again. It is very competitive, the search industry, with people creating blogs and contents, especially in the business of SaaS companies. How do you differentiate between one blog to another. If I am starting a new business and I am releasing a software about how to build a website for example, how do I differentiate myself from someone else who is also a writing a blog on Facebook advertising or content marketing or stuff like that.
Aaron Agius: Everything comes down to quality content and the quality of what you are writing. Long form content just absolutely kills it. It does well because it attracts so many long term searches online. You are creating long form content, it is spaced correctly, you have the right font, you are actually solving problems and answering questions and providing true value in every single post that you do consistently. Then you have to understand that so many people will start a blog and then drop it. So many people will think that they can throw in a three to five hundred words in post and that is content marketing. It is just not, it absolutely is not.
Stephen Esketzis: Starting blogs are looking for an authority site. Obviously long posts do really well, but even after five, six thousand-word posts, and obviously you can go to extremes and keep writing further, and this evergreen content. So things like Facebook ads — all the other evergreen content. The people that actually read that, are they high quality leads that are going to invest or are they just looking to learn and do not have deep pockets to actually purchase your products?
Aaron Agius: There is always going to be people just looking for information and are not interested in buying. In that case you are putting yourself in a position of authority in the industry, and at least they are going to want to share your content or link it to their own website, which helps on the other side to those that can afford it. People are buying through this method. What we find most of the time is that we create this sort of content to such level and with such conviction and quality that people come and rate this and simply say, that is exactly what I need. I cannot do it. I would rather pay someone to do it. That is happening and thats how we landed Patel.
Stephen Esketzis: It really depends on the type of content you are putting up, the quality, who you are presenting it to, and the offer and all that. There is a lot of things that come into it.
Aaron Agius: Definitely. There is also the volume that you are creating and the places that you are actually creating it. You can have blogs with zero traffic and you are just posting amazing content on that blog and no one sees it. It cannot get you anywhere but that is you reaching out, and contributing in places like Entrepreneur, Hubspot, and INQ, and all those places with huge traffic. You are getting your brand noticed, you are able to then drive traffic from those places back to your own site. That is when things start working.
Stephen Esketzis: How valuable is it really to get a backlink on a big websites like Entrepreneur or those big ones with the big domain authority and rankings and things like that. Is that what will really bring you the traffic and the rankings within Google. What is the weight between a good long content and a backlink from an authoritative figure?
Aaron Agius: I am not going to choose between one over the other. You need them both. You need content but if you have no links to it, then it is not going to get you anywhere. If you are building link but if you have no content then you have nowhere to lead them to. The value of those links is huge. The value of links from those is what people should be targeting. I am looping back again. You have no chance of ever getting links from those places unless you are creating those sort of content that is of value to those readers and to people riding on those sites.
Stephen Esketzis: Now that makes sense. Now obviously you want put yourself in the position where this sort of publications and these big authoritative websites are going to link at you. So you have any methods to acquire a link on that or to reach out to these big publications or do people just need to reach out and just blog more until someone comes to them.
Aaron Agius: Definitely create a basically on good content on your site and be consistent, but then at the same time but rather than just reaching out and saying hey give us a link, research who the publishers are that are writing on your sort of topic, make sure you are commenting on their posts, and follow them on social, and engage with them wherever you can so that you are forming real relationships. Then take steps from there. Never ask for something, but make sure you are always giving.
Stephen Esketzis: It is a really old rule, giving. You have to give all that value up front. That’s a great point and that sort of capitalizes on all the content that you are putting out. Going on a little bit off-tangent, I noticed on your website, Louder.online, you have a little tool that lets you analyze your site instantly. Which i really like because it is like a little lead [gentle], which is embedded as part of your website. Tell us about how this little mini-tool, how successful they have been if you have used them, on your website or have your other clients’ website use them as well.
Aaron Agius: Yes, they are quite successful. We have just recently launched that tool and it was a bit of a soft launch. I am still working on it but it is doing well already. We are driving a lot of leads to the business and it helps to be out there. I can, in a snapshot, put myself in the position of authority and say we know all sorts of things that matter to your business, we can analyze these things quickly, we can show you the whole — and what you are doing and just cut to the chase. It is like we can help you, and this is what we can do to help.
Stephen Esketzis: I have worked a lot with sales funnels. What sort of metric do you see from that. Do you calculate how many people fill out the tool, how many people opted for consultation, how many people you closed on the firm. What are the sort of numbers do you see with tools like this, and how do you just come up with something like this.
Aaron Agius: The funnel that you discussed is exactly what we look at and unfortunately I cant share numbers at this point. Like I said it is still in its soft launch and we are not driving the sort of traffic in it just yet. I do not feel comfortable sharing the numbers, but they are sort of — with the blogging that we are doing, and some of the other content marketing, the leads are coming through without us having to put any additional method yet on driving traffic. So it is all pointing in the right direction. I have seen the number of a lot of other places, and Neil has them on Quicksprout, and on Neilpatel.com. He has the design version of it and I know that it does very well for him.
Stephen Esketzis: I remember that you had social media checker that would give out a report, I remember seeing that one, and i know that it would have crashed it with the analytics especially on established websites already. Even some of the big guys use something similar with tools like that, there is a lot of variations of this lead generation based tools which give value and then, you ask for the optimal or firm number or you qualify people on getting them on the demo of your product.
Aaron Agius: Yes tools do really well. I am talking about Neil again and I am pretty sure he wrote a post on Quicksprout on tools and the value of them and he put in some hard numbers in there so it might be worth checking out.
Stephen Esketzis: Yes I would be super interested. You have all these content marketing, you have the value of your clients which are awesome, and I know all this inbound work obviously drives really hot leads. How do you compare your inbound marketing versus putting an ad on Facebook or just Google display. Have you found that the leads are a lot more higher quality or do you do a combination of both, like do you do recharging based on total blog posts. How do you see pay per click and your inbound marketing.
Aaron Agius: In Pay per click the sort of leads that we are trying to drive as a business and consulting leads is expensive. When we are looking at inbound marketing and blogging, it is pretty high value for us because it goes beyond just driving that leads straight away. You pay for that click, you get them in your funnel when you get an inquiry with content marketing. With inbound marketing we are able to do more than just drive that lead in terms of getting interviews, in terms of getting round up request on other peoples posts where they are then linking back to us. In terms of brand awareness, a lot of intangible and immeasurable things that come along with the actual inquiry as well.
Stephen Esketzis: How does social media play a role now. Everything is sort of in the website and that defeats the purpose of backlinks and link building, but you get in front of the right audience and where they are hanging out. Do you just specifically focus on building your website as a base, getting those links and rankings, and using Google, or do you look at social media as an extension to your website.
Aaron Agius: The way that we do it is that most of our content is actually done offsite. Much of the places I contribute to — the Entrepreneur, Content Marketing Institute, Hubspot, Business Insider, Business.com, and a ton of different places where I know there is a lot of traffic interested in what we do, and it is easer to leverage that traffic over there and get the links. It creates a referral link, brand awareness, rather than simply — it is about building the blog at that time, so we mainly focus on the other sites at the moment.
Stephen Esketzis: So you are building this authority site that is doing really well. Let us say you are starting from scratch though. Do you have a timeframe, say if a client comes to you look I am looking to build an authority website in something like a job training or something like that. Completely zero, no links, no content. Do you have a plan or a timeframe that you have roughly seen form experience that would take to start bringing in some qualified leads in and start ranking, or does it depend on a whole bunch of other variables like how much to blog and the quality of the links.
Aaron Agius: It does depend on a lot of variables but in terms of bringing leads in, that can start happen after three to six months. In terms of actually putting yourself in a position of authority and having an authoritative website, starting from scratch, you are looking at about a year at minimum.
Stephen Esketzis: There are costs involved in writing these blogs such as time costs and such as if you hire a writer. Do you recommend people hire writers. If you are writing a full 4000-word post everyday that can add up, and you may also not be the best person to write it. Do you think outsourcing to writers is something that you guys look into and work with, or do you generally have the person who owns the blog writes most of the content.
Aaron Agius: We have done all of it and in the early days I have talked to writers and if you go cheap, you get cheap. You get poor quality. So we ended up building our own internal content team and we build that out over time. Whether you are outsourcing to other writers or doing it internally, the key thing is managing is the person, building out a solid content strategy, and covering everything from [unintelligible] and voice, to content length and structure, internal linking, competitive analysis, aligning with business objectives. You need to build a solid body of work around by the age and in ensuring that he topic that you are coughing up is the things that people are actually interested in, and it is not just guess work. There is solid editorial plan and calendar so that you can ensure consistency. Once you have all of that, the actual writing job becomes a lot of easier and it will always adhere to that at the same time and everything else that you are aiming for. Rather than say do you insource or outsource to your hire, I would say build a strong structure and then you can use a lot of options.
Stephen Esketzis: So it is about building that process where whether it is you or someone else that writes the topic, all your bases are covered. You got your images, your strategy, how often it is going out, where is it going out. It is more about the actual process itself to make sure that the contents are of high quality.
Aaron Agius: Actually, we did not even touch on the distribution of the content and getting the eyeballs on that. We did not talk about how to create it.
Stephen Esketzis: One thing which I have always thought about is say you are writing a mailing post. Let us talk about the dog example on dog training. What if I get that link and target people who are interested in dog training on Facebook and send that out. Will that help build the website as an authoritative site or would that just bring people to the site. They might opt-in, do something and then leave, or will the traffic on site help build it and rank it in Google somehow, or not really.
Aaron Agius: Indirectly. Google does care in its rankings about user experience and what it is that people do when they are on site and their time on site, and if those metrics are really good that help in your rankings. You also touched on getting those eyeballs on the content, and rather than just to do it socially there are others ways to do it as well to drive your traffic and help your rankings.
Stephen Esketzis: Can you give me an example of one of the successful campaigns you have run or a client that works really well that our listeners can learn from. Have you ever written a blog post that worked really well, targeted the right audience, poured in a ton of leads, that you might be able to talk to us about.
Aaron Agius: On a smaller scale, there was one I posted on. It is about content marketing and the actual distribution of content. I identified the sort of content people were looking for, put together a real quality page, and dealt with it through a rigorous editorial and plan. Once that was done, I identified where it would be most effective and where there will be an audience that will be very interested in it. Then we reached out and got that page published. One of the reason it turned out well was because it was ranked in the top 50 or 60 pages of online marketing content of the year. That was one that did well and generated a lot of referral traffic and we were [unintelligible] with some of the leads that we got through that.
Stephen Esketzis: I am a numbers guy. Do you work out your costs, say you get an x amount of leads per post or is there some way where you guys can calculate your actual ROI on an individual post so that way you can say, awesome this round up with 20 entrepreneurs on list building gets me x amount of dollar roughly or x amount of clicks opt-ins versus this other post. What are your KPIs.
Aaron Agius: We try but it is tough and hard to manage it to that level especially the off-site posts that we are doing. There are tons of numbers tracking and it can be quite tricky. That question makes me think of a fantastic post that was written quite some time ago and it’s pulled by Siege Media. I have measured ROI content and if you can do that you will find that it is something we have been trying to implement as a business and it is a really goo d way trying to put in numbers against each piece that you are creating and ensuring that you have a positive ROI.
Stephen Esketzis: Yes I can imagine content marketing would be pretty hard especially if something gets shared as well to a social channel. Say one influencer shares that to his list, then that could just blow it up, and that could be the reason why it did so well versus the other one that did just well organically, got a whole lot of traffic, and ranks number one on Google. So it is a pretty tough way to measure. How important is it to build an email list. Content marketing and list building go hand in hand. How do guys confront that. What do you look for and how do you make an improvement.
Aaron Agius: We say that it is exceptionally important how many people — online marketers will let you know that one of the most valuable online asset that a business can have is a strong quality list. There are multiple reasons because they have chosen to be a part of your brand, chosen to receive your content, they are already engaged with you and conversion rating to selling to your leads is much higher than pretty much any other channel. There is also the fact that you are bringing traffic back to you website. The minute you got a new post and go live all those go to your leads. This engages people coming back and check back what you have, what piece of content you put out next. There are so many reason for big strong leads and push them really hard to their clients and let them know that it is something that is going to bring you a very positive ROI in the future.
Stephen Esketzis: I can see how it would work with a SaaS company but what about guys who are not looking for list-building advice. Is that more for brand awareness. How do you do it if those are not you main goals.
Aaron Agius: With the likes of Coke, we speak to them and say that their goals are more traffic to their site. More people seeing the content they are putting out, so my quick answer to that is where is your list. That is just going to come back and the minute you have a new post they are going to hit that site. If they have chosen to be involved, they are going to be very good for your business.
Stephen Esketzis: I can see that it jus works across the board, doesn’t it. There is nothing really groundbreaking about it but it just works. I think you probably agree that the biggest problems is that people just do not do it consistently with their blog posting and list building. They will do it for a while and then it will stop after two or three months because they are not seeing results.
Aaron Agius: Yes, it is hard. There are so many value points. People get easily disheartened and I have see it time and time again. The other part of the education process in ensuring — there is so much content about content marketing. It is ensuring that some people do not just think that it will happen fast and that you will get miracle results. It is something that gets great result over a long period of time.
Stephen Esketzis: Does it ever end. How do you automate this once you get it off your plate. Do you move it off to someone else’s plate. Do you hire a writing team. You may wan to work on the growth of your business rather than working in the business. Do you have any tips in to automating this process or where to find good writers and have you start moving away from the trenches once you get to that 12 to 15- month period.
Aaron Agius: You already have people working on the business. You are a single business, and you are trying to work on the business as well. You should actually be getting out of doing every part of it yourself a lot faster than that. There are already very good people there. There is also identifying some good pieces you have seen online and tracking down the authors and reaching out to them to see if they are interested in helping out. There is actually training for people that are able to write different types of writing and different types of content. You have that rigorous structure around it then people should actually be able to follow it. Getting out of being involved as soon as you can is important so that they can help handle that process and you can focus on the other gaps that you probably have not been doing like distributing that content, driving the traffic and the eyeballs. That is how business grows. If you are in content marketing you get your writers, your editors, and marketers to help distribute the content, and hopefully at some point, it is taken care of. Or you reach out to people like us.
Stephen Esketzis: Check him out at Louder.online. One last question before we go. One thing I have noticed a lot in my time blogging and content marketing and building funnels is the part of an attractive character. Having someone out there to represent the brand, when you actually write the emails to your list, all that, they are actually drawn to the attractive character that is writing them. Do you think that plays a role in building a website or can you just build a website with just the brands just as easily?
Aaron Agius: I completely agree with you. The head person — the people being able to relate to the author, and not seeing it as a faceless corporation or brand, I think that is quite important, and that comes through. Always talking to the one person or the one individual, and not just to everyone who might be there. That sort of stuff I think is incredibly important especially in an industry where you have most agencies in content marketing seem to have one known person in that agency. That is how the industry operates and that is what we are trying to do as well.
Stephen Esketzis: In that same sales funnels that I have built, when you have one guy or girl that is there all the time, it jut builds up the relationship and rapport a lot better. It is just fascinating how it works; it is like people bought from people. Is there any last words and where can people reach out to you if they want to fin out more.
Aaron Agius: They can search for me, Aaron Agius. You will find me in a hundred different places, or my content at least. Otherwise come and see us at Louder.online and if you want to reach out, I would love to hear from you. Comment on the posts or make an inquiry. We’re happy to help anyone.
Stephen Esketzis: Sounds good. Appreciate you coming on today. We will talk soon.
Aaron Agius: Thanks and I appreciate the opportunity.