On this week’s episode of Performance Delivered, we speak with Juliana Pereira, the Vice President at Flow Commerce, Inc., a turnkey platform for international e-commerce companies to go global. The platform enables merchants to configure cross-border supply chain requirements and fulfill their overseas demand. Julia is a senior marketing professional with experience growing B2C and B2B businesses with her expertise in development of content strategy and product marketing.
We chat about long-form content, as well as:
- Building short and long-term content to fit SEO preferences
- E-commerce in various markets around the world
- Developing multiple pieces of content from a single source
- Determining necessary content to include in a successful SEO website
- Reviewing analytics during the creation of new content
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered. Insider secrets for digital marketing success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.
Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered. Insider secrets for digital marketing success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today we’re going to talk about the importance of website content. Here to speak with me about the topic is Juliana Pereira who is the VP at Flow, a turnkey platform for e commerce companies to go global, capturing international demand for their products. The platform enables merchants to simply configure their cross border supply chain requirements and immediately fulfill their overseas demand. Juliana is a senior marketing professional with experience growing b2c and b2b businesses by developing demand for smart content strategies and other solutions. Juliana, welcome to Performance Delivered.
Juliana Pereira: Thank you so much. Happy to be here.
Steffen: So the only before we get started talking about today’s topic, tell the listeners a little bit more about yourself. And how did you get started in your career?
Juliana: Yeah, absolutely. So I have a rather unusual path that I took. I studied art history in college, but also international relations. And so I always had this interest in international business, but art. So I ended up at a museum actually for seven years. And the job that I was able to get there was writing content and managing the websites for the online store. So with that, I got really excited about digital marketing. This was in the early 2000s. So it was really a burgeoning area. And so I started exploring it. And after I left the museum, I decided to go on to other businesses and launch e commerce websites for them. So that was very exciting. They were niche areas. They were also in broader categories. I was at Ralph Lauren for a little while. And after that time that I was in e-commerce, it was a little more than 10 years, I decided that I wanted to explore the tech side a little more, because I was really interested in that. So I was able to secure a job as the head of digital marketing at a tech firm. And that specializes in translation and localization. And it’s called Smart Ling.
So I was there for about three years. And after about a year, I was promoted into the VP position, I was there running all the different aspects of b2b marketing. And afterwards, I decided I really missed e commerce. And while I was the in house e commerce expert at smartlink, I really wanted to go back to some kind of business that worked more directly and exclusively with e commerce. So I was contacted by flow and the confluence of my experience in retail, and my experience with localization. And additionally, the experience that I had at a museum that was very scrappy, working with a tight budget, that combination being rather rare, just seemed a great fit for a company like Flo, which was post series A at the time, and you know, scrappy and happy. So it worked out really well. And I’ve been there now for about two and a half, almost three years.
Steffen: Sounds like Content has been part of your career since the beginning.
Juliana: Yes, absolutely. Contents are really important. So on the retail side, when I was writing content for the website at the Met store, to the museum store, I was writing a lot of brands copy a lot of heavy informational or educational copy around art history, because that’s what all of the reproductions and products they were selling in the store were based off of different artifacts and different art pieces. So that was really important in terms of establishing the brand. And then the same thing with Ralph Lauren was a lot of the work I was doing there. But then once I came over to the tech side content became also very important in terms of education, brand awareness, awareness of solutions, how tech can solve those challenges that different companies have. So it’s really played an important role in all aspects, both the retail side as well as the tech side.
Steffen: So Juliana, from your perspective, is there a difference to how you develop content for me for e commerce versus technology?
Juliana: That’s really interesting. That’s a great question. So for the e-commerce part, it was very collaborative and working with different folks on the team to make sure we were getting the content in terms of the brand voice for As well as making sure that the content really describes the product. So it was very product driven, very consumer product driven. On the tech side, it’s also very collaborative, of course, and involves a lot of different people. And there is that emphasis on brand voice. But it’s usually longer form content, because you’re developing content for blog posts for ebooks for white papers, for thought leadership articles that are published by third parties. And that longer form content really requires a lot of research, a lot of thoughtful, different approaches, and sort of being very mindful about the industry and staying on top of data staying on top of relevant information. So I’d say that those are very, two big areas that are different, the romance copy of product for an e-commerce or transactional site, and then that longer form more discursive, or analytical essay, aesthetic essayistic type of content.
Steffen: How many words as long form content has to be these days to be relevant, or be picked up by Google and seen as a piece that will help people learn or find information?
Juliana: So great question. So I hate being vague, but it actually depends. So there’s a lot of different lengths of content that’s still going to get and benefit from SEO juice, as I call it, our SEO benefits, right? So I do have on my current website, some very long form content, 2500 words, and these are targeting keywords that are really specific to our industry, they’re ones that the folks who go to that website are learning about cross border e commerce, they’re learning about international selling. And that’s that type of intention. So they come to that page, they stay for a long time. Now, I also have a lot of blog posts on my site. And I do that because they provide a lot of opportunities for backlinking, to different blog posts and to different long form pages that we also have an international shipping and other types of content like that answering different questions related to our business. So we develop different lengths of content, really, so that we’re able to leverage that content for backlinking. We also write content for other websites for other blogs in the industry that want content, original content, and then they have a backlink to our site, either to a blog post or to our longer form pages. And so all of these are really important to Google. So there is the balance between producing regular blog posts that Google looks at because it likes websites that have fresh content on a continuous basis. But it also likes to see really long form 2500 words kind of content or over 2000 word content that’s really rich in information.
Steffen: How do you mix it up the long form of the, for example, blog post content? Is there a specific ratio that you follow? So for blog post one month form? Or is there anything else that guides you?
Juliana: It’s a great question. So I’ll go into a little bit my philosophy and my approach, which I call the content pyramid. So this is how I go about developing a lot of content quickly with little resource. So the way I start and think about it is either I develop a robust research report, for example. So that’s going to be a longer form content, it’s going to be very rich with data, a lot of information, it’s going to be a lot longer than other content, and might be the longest form of content. From there, I can develop a webinar, let’s say that talks about that data, or a short video that talks about that data. From there, I’ll take different sections of that report or that piece of content. And I’ll break it out into perhaps three different ebooks that focus on different areas, asking specific questions that came up in that longer form, but really going into more detail. And then I’ll break those down further into a series of blog posts.
That’ll talk about different sections of that ebook. And of course, avoid duplicate content, we think very carefully about how we’re wording, the content, changing up the structure or the language in there so that Google, Google or other search engines don’t think that it is duplicate content. And then from there, you have this cascading pyramid where you build more and more content, but it’s really derived from that original piece of content. So that’s really how I think about it. So it really is different lengths. So I would say that that top piece of content, being very Critical, it’s, you know, 80% of the in terms of importance. But in terms of the amount that we developed, it’s really just one piece of content or two pieces of content. And then you have, you know, around 70% of the rest of the content that we build it based off of that piece.
Steffen: That’s interesting. So you basically produce one big piece where you do a lot of research, and you use that is then to develop all the other additional assets, as you said, ebooks, blog posts, and infographics and things like that, that almost kind of support the top level piece.
Juliana: That’s exactly right. And we bring in other information as we cascade down to the shorter pieces of content, or we also slice the data in different ways. So for example, I’ll give an example of this, we have a global research report, on our website, it looks at 11 of the top e-commerce markets in the world, or rather the largest market in the world. And so it compares all of them across each other, for different habits of shopping for consumers for cross border and non cross border shoppers, what are the challenges or barriers to cross border shopping, what the impact of translating content has on they’re checking out and buying a product on a website, different demographic information, etc. So all of that is comparing them across the different markets. However, there’s some people who are very interested in the Canadian market or the German market, or, or any other the Brazilian market, for example. So what we did was we took that information, and we sliced it a different way to create 11 infographics that are specific to each market. So now we have a piece of content that looks at all of that data across the different markets, comparing them to each other. And then we were able to build out a lot of other content that looked at specific markets. And were very specific to those markets. And in some cases, we have ebooks that support says infographics as well.
Steffen: Now that sounds like quite a bit of work to to do in order to get all of that together, I assume you’re not going to sit there and writing all that content. So tell our listeners a little bit about how you structured your content team. And flow.
Juliana: Oh, great question. It’s very, very scrappy. So it’s mainly me and an external writer or two that I work with. But there’s a couple of different ways that I leverage a lot of different people. So for example, first off, it’s a lot less work if I’m deriving content from other content. So I gave the example the global research report, and then using that exact same data that I already had, and building out other content for those topics. And same thing for long form content on the site, like the international e commerce page that I have, if you search for that term, where the rich snippet at the top, where the first result that comes up on Google, there’s a very strong page, and then from there, taking different sections and building out blog posts and stuff. So that doesn’t take a lot of time. So I talked to my writers, and asked them, you know, look at this page that you wrote, now break out these different sections and reword them and flesh them out a little bit more. So we can have blog posts, so they’re able to turn that around pretty quickly. With that. However, I also leverage other people on the team.
So I reached out to, for example, or head of logistics, and I asked her, Hey, what are the three biggest questions you get about international shipping? Or I reach out to our CEO? And I say, Hey, can you send me three bullets, three to five bullets on what your predictions are for international e commerce or cross border e commerce for 2021. And they just shoot that very quick notes, quick bullet that takes them five minutes, because they’re experts in their field. And then I take those bullets, and from there, start fleshing out with different topics could look like, which I hand to my writers, and then they can turn out very quickly some blog posts and other content for us to get up on the site. So I’ve heard before the people actually say to me, oh, you must have quite a big content team, or at least one or two content writers full time on staff, to which I say Actually, I don’t have a couple of freelancers that do a couple of hours a week. And then I heavily edit and also write content. So very scrappy, but we’re a startup. So that’s how we approach it.
Steffen: Yeah, you have to work with very little to make things happen. And, you know, some challenges or challenges that companies also have is identifying the right writers that can help them produce this content. How did you go about finding the two people that you’re working with?
Juliana: That’s a great question because it’s not easy for our area of cross border. So flow I was lucky to find a writer who I could really train and the team here was training to become an expert and international and global e-commerce. And so for her, she got on boarded pretty quickly. But I also provide a lot of notes. So we’ll have a monthly call where I will go deep into different topics that I want her to write on, or that I’ve been thinking about four different thought leadership pieces that I’m writing. And, you know, she writes a draft or an outline, I review it, I add a lot of notes, I call it free writing, I just go in and spend 15 minutes just banging out a ton of ideas and thoughts I have. And then she essentially goes and organizes them. And she does some research to get some stats, the pepper in there. But otherwise, you know, she, she really just gets it out there. Now that she’s more on board, as she’s been working with me actually, for about two years, she’s really become an expert in the field. So that’s been great.
So now it’s a much less amount of editing that I need to do. Our other writer, she’s really great. She has a lot of business experience. And she, she, the topics I give her are a lot more maybe high level market. So it’s areas that she has more of an expertise in more of a business expertise, but and with a cross border, looking at it through a cross border lens. But she doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert in the field. But she’s also very interested in what we do. So she’s been learning more on her own so that she can come up with other ideas to pitch to me about topics to write.
Steffen: Okay, interesting. And so, taking a step back, um, you mentioned a few seconds ago, that you reach out to people internally to get a little bit of sound bites from them, and you use them to develop content. In general, how do you choose the topics that you want to write about or that you deem as important to write about to get flow visibility when your target audience is basically searching for information?
Juliana: That’s a great question I think about so the way I approach it is, like I mentioned before, or I might have touched on, I think about content in terms of evergreen topics, and then more specific topics. So the way I approach that is looking at personas, looking at our value proposition, what are the most important messages we want to get out there? And now, what are the questions that those people are asking in order to get that information? And the way I think about those questions is always open ended. So thinking about questions, let’s start with what which how, why when, where those types of questions that aren’t yes or no. And, and then thinking about, okay, if someone is looking for a next generation solution for cross border e commerce like flow, and I’m trying to position flow as that company they should work with, what would they be asking to search for this solution.
So they’re going to search for cross border e commerce solution, they’re going to search for international e commerce, how to approach it. If they’re a little bit more savvy in the area, they have more experience and cross border, maybe they’re going to search for how do I invest my budget in international e-commerce. And I also do a lot of work, I have an agency I work with. And we do a lot of research. So we look at what our competitors are searching for. And we also search for different terms that are related to our industry. So international cross border global, and related to shipping related to commerce related to selling e commerce, all of those combination. And then we look at how hard it is to bid, both in PPC for paid search on those terms, but then also what the opportunity is in terms of search volume per month on those terms. And so then we prioritize the questions based off of those terms each quarter. And we look at that, and then we start developing content that will answer this question.
Steffen: Interesting approach. Do you use any software solution to help you hone in on some of the topics obviously, you can have terms that are more did a broader terms will be much more difficult to rank for those? And then there are more long term or long tail terms where I don’t want to say it’s easier, or it’s easy, but it’s easier to to to rank for any software solution that you use on a day to day basis or, you know, during the month.
Juliana: Yes, so with my agency because I do have to outsource a lot of what I’m doing. And again, these aren’t full time people, but I’m still able to leverage the time that they give me To get the biggest bang for my buck. So with this agency that I work with, they use a number of tools like what used to be called SEO Moz, or Moz. They also use Screaming Frog. They also use the Google tools that you have the Google suite around SEO and content. And we also look at, you know, for paid search as well, the AdWords tool, analytics. And so that’s how we start, we look at the content. So we’re also checking analytics all the time to see what pages people are visiting the most, depending on the pages, they’re visiting the most on the site, then we know, oh, they’re interested in this topic, they’re probably asking questions like x, y, or z. So an example of that is we wrote a blog post, not super long, it was called cross docking versus direct shipping.
So it talks about what cross docking mean, which is when you’re shipping International, you ship the product to a warehouse or cross dock that then ship the product internationally, versus direct international shipping, which obviously means shipping it directly from your warehouse as the brand to the end consumer. So we talked about why and direct shipping, which is something we do, which is unique in the industry, why direct shipping is better than using a cross dock, because that wastes time it’s more expensive, and all those things. So that blog post we wrote started getting a ton of traffic. And so we looked at that and said, Hmm, okay, why don’t we make that a longer post, so that we can really rank at the top for it, and kind of win that face. And maybe there’s more content we can build around the international shipping team. So looking at these tools have really helps us to kind of hone in on where the greatest opportunities are.
Steffen: Yeah, so you’re basically you’re basically looking at which condom pieces are successful. So successful in this case would mean generates traffic. And then if they don’t sell opportunities, you’re basically built up further topics or around that.
Juliana: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Steffen: Yeah. Um, now you’re looking for other companies to use your software solution, obviously. So everything that you do is geared towards an end goal, which is someone using your software. So you want to generate leads? How do you look at your content, the content that you generate, from a league perspective, so generating leads, but also ultimately generating a sale? Does that play a role in which pieces you, you know, spent more time on you flesh out? talk about that a little bit. udana?
Juliana: Absolutely. So I, as the marketing leader at slow, I look at the funnel, which is, you know, bringing in leads all the way through turning into a customer, but also retaining those customers, I see marketing as touching all those areas. So all the way from the customer to the top of the funnel. So I do think about content differently. And we do develop different types of content. So again, using the example of international e-commerce, that’s very much an awareness piece of content that’s kind of answering the question, How do I sell internationally? What does that mean? Do people do that? Does it have a benefit? How do I approach it? So those types of questions, that’s very, what I call awareness, content. So that’s very top of the funnel.
Now, I also think of the buying process for tech, and this isn’t quite as relevant to ecommerce sites that are more transactional. But for b2b tech, there are three different buying cycles, as I call it. The first one is the awareness cycle. So you come to us, you’re learning a little bit about what international e commerce is, and then you go away, and, you know, go go work on your business or think more about that, then you come back, and it’s the educational cycle. So that’s when you really start diving into Okay, what are the solutions out there? What’s the benefit to me? How do I make the business case internally? What else do I need to think about? So that’s education. And some people they go away, or other people they say, and they move into the next cycle, which is the actual buying cycle, now they’re trying to validate our solution, they’re looking at perhaps a couple of different solutions, we’re trying to convince them this is, you know, this is the right path forward, we can really help them. This is how you make the business case. And then they turn in to a customer ideally at the end.
So we build up content for all those three areas. And I also build out content for clients. And so I work very closely with the customer success team, to then be able to leverage our clients for webinars so that they can teach other clients how to improve their cross border, strategy and approach. But then those can also be those webinars and case studies can also be used to feed At the top of the funnel, so then again, we’re repurposing the content for different aspects of the buying cycle. And so you know, again, creating that awareness type of content and thought leadership at the top of the funnel, creating more educational, specific content around how to approach this challenge you’re trying to solve. And then the validation content that talks about our solution, being the leader in the space, this is why you should choose us, and then content that creates that education and ongoing learning for our clients specific to our product, but also how to solve problems that they’re, you know, trying to still solve. Even after buying our product, they’re still thinking about how to develop their strategy and that kind of content for them.
Steffen: I love that. I think a lot of companies, they fail exactly at this point, they don’t think about what type of content First of all, what kind of type of content Do I need in each of the stages that you just described. And most of many of them don’t even think about in stages, they’re just producing content that they think is relevant. And it’s like, people start engaging with them, because they have like a top level. So awareness stage piece of content, they’re interested, but then there’s nothing that you know, in the consideration areas on a mid funnel, that kind of brings them back and entice them closer to them to then further lead them down the funnel into the action stage, whether that actually is a lead or, you know, a sign up for software solution. In your case.
Juliana: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
Steffen: And I think one thing, one thing a lot of companies miss, is that part that you described last, which is you need to also have content to keep your customers engaged, right, you want to show them that you are at the forefront of your, of your industry of that part of the industry that you are in, right? Because there are enough companies out there that provide similar solutions. And if you are not on top, they will swoop in and you know, next time when they have to renew your contract, they might be gone. Right. So I think that’s that’s a really smart approach to think about not only, you know, the buying cycle, but also the retention part.
Juliana: Right. And, you know, to answer your second question from before, which was how do you know which area to focus on, you know that that is a balancing act? Because you can’t fire on all cylinders, and build robust content and all parts of the funnel, especially with my scrappy team of freelancers, and me focusing on content. So the way I think about that is, where do we have a breakdown in the funnel? Or where is it most important right now, to build content. So when I first arrived at flow, a lot of it was based off of awareness, because we were the smaller guy in the space, we’re growing, we’re series a post series A. So it was I did a big push there. Now, I’ve been doing more educational content, and validation content, and also case studies. So it’s been a little bit of a balancing act. But we’ve been focusing more on those areas to give them a little love. But I’ve also more recently gone back to focusing on that more top of funnel and educational part of the funnel, as I’ve been building out my sales development team and really focusing more on prospecting.
Steffen: Good question to what you just said, and for what would you recommend to a company that, you know, just after listening to this, says, you know, what, yeah, we really need to get a grip on our content in order to rank organically. But where do we start? We start with the top of the funnel, and, you know, in the area where there are a lot of people potentially looking for their solutions, or should we start more of content, the action stage, so we can start, you know, scraping the people that already, you know, are ready to make a decision? What would your recommendation be?
Juliana: Yeah, so that’s really interesting. So, again, a slightly vague answer, but I’ll try and make it specific as possible. So I would say when you arrive at a company, or when I arrived at a company, I think about how is it structured? How is the sales and marketing organization structured? And where do we have the most opportunity? So for me, because it was a small company I arrived at for flow, I really focused on top of funnel for that awareness because we were, we were smaller at the time. And now we’ve really grown quickly. So I’m focusing on content in different areas. When I arrived at martling, and I was responsible for the website. There, we had a ton of content, it was just staggering. So there was so much content on the blog, there was so much specific content on the site. So that was really fun, because then from an SEO perspective, I had a lot to play with. So there I was really focused on backlinking. Between the blog posts, I was focused on, you know, updating content on the site backlinking to other content, working with a product team to really develop that content and be more specific and updated and relevant to how the product has developed.
So that would have been more The validation type of content, so I worked a lot more in that area, because that was what they needed at the time, or that’s what were the gap was. So and then also case studies, they had a number of case studies, but we weren’t leveraging them enough at the top of the funnel. So how do we serve surface those better on the website. So it really depends the larger company, you’re going to come in and focus on different parts of the funnel, according to what you already have to work with. Flow I had the blog was launched two weeks before I started. So it was just there was no SEO. So there it was, okay, we got to produce four to five blogs, we’ve got to produce at least three ebooks before the end of the year, and a couple of big white papers. So it was very top of funnel and starting to build that out.
Steffen: Make sense? Now, Juliana, we’re coming towards the end of this podcast today. And before I let you go, and one last question, how do you own your industry’s keywords for SEO? How did you achieve that? And how would you recommend, you know, fellow marketers out there should approach this?
Juliana: Absolutely. So this is true for I would even say transactional sites, e commerce sites, definitely very important for tech sites like flow.io. But the way you rank so Google, it’s really understanding the algorithm on Google, it changes a lot, there’s always updates. But there are essential pieces that haven’t changed. So avoiding duplicate content. When we repurpose content, we change the structure of it, we change how the sentences are written, we use different language, we describe things in different ways using different examples. That’s one way to avoid duplicate content. backlinking is really important. So finding content on your site and backlinking it or rather linking it to different blog posts, different types of content, that’s how we got our international e commerce page, really well ranked, and some other pages as well was doing heavy backlinking there so that then, when the search engine crawler comes to our site, it looks at that page and says, Wow, there’s a lot of different content on the site pointing to this page. And let’s be very relevant. So let’s start ranking it.
And the way Google works with that is they sort of test rank, you know, you’ll be down in a very low spot, and then you’ll sort of jump up a little bit. And, you know, if you’re on the first page, and no one clicks on your link, or they click on it, and then they bounce off the site immediately, that will signal to the search engine crawler, okay, maybe this is not quite as relevant. So you have to be careful about that and constantly think about that. Google also looks at the amount of new and fresh content on your site. So I talked about that a little bit before. So I spent a lot of time developing a lot of blog posts in the beginning, if you if you go on our site, flow.io slash blog, you’ll see that in the beginning, especially we had four or five blog posts a month now we’re scaling back a little bit because we have a ton of good content. So so really having that fresh content, that’s a great way to build up authority domain authority on your site.
And I would also say another way is thinking about this strategy, which is I run behind the scenes, I go straight, a lot of articles, both for, for publishing on large publications where we have relationships, and those always have a backlink to our site, but also for these smaller blogs that might have the same domain authority as us or a little bit more. And then we add a couple of backlinks and they publish it and it comes to our site. So then the search engine crawler looks at that, and it sees Oh, wow, not only are there internal links to this page, but there are also external blogs pointing to this page. This must be a very relevant page. So let’s bump this up. And then of course, there’s other tactics and things I’m not going to go into. There’s just so many different factors, but you know, happy to talk about that and in more detail later.
Steffen: Great. Well, Juliana, thank you for sharing all the knowledge today. Um, if people want to find out more about you, um, and Flow, how can you get in touch?
Juliana: Oh, absolutely. So my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And our website is flow.io. And we have a plenty of content there in our resources section in our blog section that people can check out.
Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you liked the Performance Live podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.
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