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008: The Long Game Podcast: Marrying High Caliber Content with a Demanding Publishing Cadence with Tracey Wallace

Marrying High Caliber Content with a Demanding Publishing Cadence with Tracey Wallace

Tracey Wallace is currently the Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, an on-demand talent marketplace for pre-vetted, expert marketers. 

Previously, she was the Head of Marketing at Eterneva (eternity + eva), the Global Editor in Chief at BigCommerce, and the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Umbel. She studied English, planned on becoming a novelist, and worked in media and journalism directly after college. 

Tracey is a world class writer, editor, manager, and networker. She has a contagious buoyancy and optimism, and truly cares about the quality of the work she puts out into the world. 

In this episode, Alex interviews Tracey on her approach to content, how she marries the perfectionist artists’ desire for purity and craft, with the pragmatists’ need to design systems and automate as much as possible. They also dive into how this plays out in building what she describes as integrated marketing campaigns.

Lastly, she gives practical advice on how to network better and work with influencers. Enjoy!

Connect with Tracey on Twitter or at MarketerHire.

The Long Game is hosted by Alex Birkett and David Ly Khim who co-founded Omniscient Digital to help companies ranging from early-state to scale-ups with growth strategy, SEO, and content marketing. Allie Decker, Head of Content, joins the conversation as well.

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[00:00:00] Alex: [00:00:00] Hello? Hello, this is Alex Birkett and you’re listening to the long game podcast. In this episode, I’m chatting with Tracey Wallace. Tracy is currently the director of marketing at marketer. Hire an on-demand talent marketplace for pre-vetted expert marketers. Previous to that. She was the head of marketing at turn of the global editor in chief at big commerce, which is where I met her.
[00:00:23] And before that the senior content marketing manager at humble, she studied English literature in college plan on becoming a novelist and worked in media and journalism directly. Afterschool Tracy is a world-class writer, editor manager, director, and networker. She has a contagious buoyancy and an optimism, and clearly, truly cares about the quality of the work that she puts out into the world.
[00:00:51] In our chat today, we cover her approach to content, how she maintains that high quality bar, that high standard for putting good stuff out into the [00:01:00] world at scale, how she marries the perfectionist artist desire for purity and craft. With the pragmatists and engineers need to design systems and automate as much as possible.
[00:01:10] And also how this plays out and building what she describes is integrated marketing campaigns at market marketer higher. She also has practical advice on how to network better. Again, she’s a master networker and how to work with influencers. Tracy is a content and SEO genius and a super nice person and a friend.
[00:01:28] I think you’ll enjoy this conversation without further ado. Here is Tracy Wallace.
[00:01:46] it makes sure this question is included in the podcast, but I have a dumb one to start out. So, uh, I was listening to a bunch of podcasts that you’d been on in the past. Uh, and I heard on, I think it was Jimmy daily. He did a super [00:02:00] path podcast that you had worked for, um, a company that does products. Yeah.
[00:02:07] Tracey: [00:02:07] Naturally curly they’re based here in Austin.
[00:02:10] Alex: [00:02:10] Okay. So as you may notice, I am growing my hair out and I’m realizing that I have curlier hair than I thought. And I have no idea what to do. So what are your main tips for hair care products? Anything? I have no idea. So start me from scratch.
[00:02:24] Tracey: [00:02:24] Okay, cool. Well, so first and foremost, I will say you are not alone in the world.
[00:02:27] 60% of the global population has curly hair. Uh, so we should be educating more people all the time on how to handle or not handle, but just like how to take care of curly hair. Um, but some, some of the like bigger differences are, um, one. Curly hair doesn’t need to be washed every day. In fact, Washington, every day can be bad for it.
[00:02:47] It can make it really frizzy and dry. Um, and that’s just because your hair looks really straight right now. So the oils are probably like coding it just fine. But typically when your hair is really curly, it just takes [00:03:00] longer for the natural oils from your head to like coat the hair. So you actually don’t want to wash it every day.
[00:03:07] Um, like shampoo it. That is. Oh, I was going to say like literally no water or no, no. Yeah, you can put water on it. No,
[00:03:14] Alex: [00:03:14] no shampoo,
[00:03:16] Tracey: [00:03:16] right. Or, um, you can use, uh, something called low poo. No, that sounds crazy. It stands for low shampoo or no poo. No shampoo. Those are essentially cleansing conditioners. So they will like lightly cleanse the hair, but they aren’t going strip the oils from it.
[00:03:36] Um, so you’ll just want to look for stuff that is specific. Like, has those labels on it, most of the. Organized or I guess most of the companies that sell stuff for that are for curly hair in particular like diva curl, D E V a has a bunch of really good products. Um, but yeah, so, and, and in case you don’t want to do that, you could probably just wash your hair with like conditioner more often and maybe only use the shampoo every other [00:04:00] day.
[00:04:00] If your hair is like wavy or maybe like once a week, if your hair is really, really curly.
[00:04:05] Alex: [00:04:05] Gotcha. Yeah. I’ve been conditioning every day and uh, they say don’t towel dry and, uh, Uh, what else? Cold water, uh, try to do cold water, not too hot. There’s like so many things that when I had short hair, I just didn’t have to think about that.
[00:04:19] Now. It’s like a part of my routine and I also, this is the, I guess this is a long hair, not just a curly hair thing. It was not even that long yet, but it takes like hours to dry.
[00:04:29] Tracey: [00:04:29] It does well. So, so, um, you don’t ideally you weren’t using like a towel to dry your hair, like a regular, like body towel, but there are like microfiber towels that you can, you can use and, or you can use, um, like, um, cotton t-shirts to like get the excess moisture out.
[00:04:48] It’s just that, um, regular towels can be kind of drying. So that might speed up dry time. Uh, but yes, it does take a long time for longer hair to dry.
[00:04:58] Alex: [00:04:58] Nice. So [00:05:00] you don’t do this on a daily basis. What you do is you are the director of marketing at marketer hire.
[00:05:07] Tracey: [00:05:07] Yes.
[00:05:08] Alex: [00:05:08] And. Well, first off, how did you arrive at this position as director of marketing?
[00:05:14] This is how long have you been there? What, what did you do before that?
[00:05:17] Tracey: [00:05:17] Yeah. Okay, cool. So I have not been there very long. So I started, uh, in September, 2020, before that I was, um, Director of marketing, head of marketing over at a direct to consumer brand, um, called a turnover and helped them get on shark tank and feature in the New York times.
[00:05:35] And, um, uh, did a bunch of stuff. I was even their interim CTO for a little bit. Um, and then prior to that, I was over at, uh, the commerce for about four and a half years as their editor and chief, um, interviewing a bunch of customers and clients, um, educating people on how to start online stores, people from startups all the way up to, you know, fortune, you know, 100, 500 whatever companies I’m doing.
[00:05:58] A lot of talks [00:06:00] about, you know, headless commerce, teaching people about API APIs, all of that jazz. So I came into the marketing world. Through journalism. Um, so I wanted to go into journalism when I was in college, um, and then worked in journalism for a little bit. So worked at Mashable and at L and L at timeout in New York, a bunch of those places, um, and realize pretty quickly that they don’t pay very well.
[00:06:27] Um, and got offered a content marketing job at a technology company. And, um, the pay was really good. I was told I would get to write and I was like, great. All I want to do is make money writing. I think that’s it. Um, so I took the job, um, and ended up really liking it. It was, um, a job at a big data, big data, big data.
[00:06:46] However you say it, data, data company. Um, and yeah, I just, just kind of took off. I, I would say my, like if I had a. I don’t know, super human skill or I [00:07:00] don’t know, whatever it might be a superpower, I suppose. Um, I, I can write, I can make technical topics sound not so technical, um, and explain them really, really well.
[00:07:11] And so that’s. That’s, you know, I think why I did so well at the big data company. And then when I moved over to big commerce, um, that turned out to be really helpful as well, really helping to explain to folks how to start online stores. And then also how to break down each aspect of marketing. Um, not even just marketing operations.
[00:07:28] I mean really how to run an entire organization. Um, and then, because I was at big commerce for so long and interviewing all these direct to consumer brands, um, when I left big commerce, I was like, I know enough about director consumer brands. I’m going to go work out one. And I did for almost two years.
[00:07:45] Um, and it, it was great and amazing though. I will say there are a lot of differences between marketing at a B2B technology company. In marketing at a direct to consumer brand. And, um, [00:08:00] I think I did a really great job at the direct to consumer brand, but I missed it. Tech so much. Um, so that, that is really how I’m I ended up finding marketer hire.
[00:08:11] I, you know, I’ve been in tech for a long time and, um, a contact reached out to me that summer and was like, Hey, no, you’re over, you know, at this D to C brand seems like you’re, you’re really happy. You’re doing really well. I know some folks at this new technology company that are looking for someone to head up their marketing department, I think you’d be perfect.
[00:08:29] Would you talk to them? And I was like, yeah, sure. I’ll talk to them. That’s how it came to be.
[00:08:34] Alex: [00:08:34] That’s cool. Do you consider yourself a writer at heart you’ve broadened your skills since then? Like the director of marketing roles a little bit wider, but it sounds like from your college education, from your early journalism experiences, it sounds like writing spend kind of the needle that threads through all of this.
[00:08:50] Tracey: [00:08:50] Oh, 100%. Um, I love writing, um, All, all I wanted to do from as long as I can remember was make money [00:09:00] writing. I thought I would be a novelist. I still think I’ll be a novelist who knows, um, life is not over yet. Uh, um, so yeah, I I’m a writer at heart for sure. But, um, I’ve also always been really interested.
[00:09:12] Like I said, in, in the technical aspects, I was one of those kids who like took computers apart and put them back together and. Right. Different activities. So writing about that stuff and explaining it, um, in a, in a way that folks can understand is, is a big passion of mine. My mom was a teacher, my whole life.
[00:09:30] Um, and so I have a big passion for, for that as well. So technology really combines all of that, um, in a way that, you know, it makes me excited to get up and do
[00:09:39] Alex: [00:09:39] work. Do you remember when you first realized that you wanted to be a writer?
[00:09:44] Tracey: [00:09:44] Oh, gosh, no, it was, I always wanted to be a writer though. There’s this, um, like card that I sent to my grandparents.
[00:09:53] Gosh, when I was very young, must have been like very early elementary. It was just like, proves how like [00:10:00] talking and how good I thought I was at writing as, as such a young kid, but they, they must’ve like missed some kind of like tea party or something that I had. And I wrote them this like long letter telling them that it was totally okay that they had missed the tea party and, you know, the tea was cold and, you know, I w I know they wouldn’t even have liked cold tea.
[00:10:19] And honestly, really the best part of the whole party is that, like, I was writing them to tell them that it was okay for them to miss it, because my writing’s so good. And that was the, like, Best part of the experience. Um, and so my mom has that like hanging up on our fridge, which is just, um, fun, but yes, I’ve, I’ve always wanted to write.
[00:10:39] I mean, I, I used to like pride myself on. Anytime we’d get writing activities in school. Like being able to like get emotions out of people in the class, at least in all my school stuff, we often had to like stand up and read the stuff that we wrote. Um, I have made countless classmates and teachers cry.
[00:10:58] Um, I remember [00:11:00] particularly after, um, yeah, I mean, nine 11 was awful for everybody, but we had to write, you know, or we, we got to write these letters to, um, fireman. In New York city. And, um, I was the first one, just like by alphabet alphabet, they went like backwards in the alphabet. My last name is Wallace.
[00:11:17] I stood up to read it to the class. Um, and that was it like happy tears. And they were like, that’s it we’re done. We’re not doing anymore. I was like, it’s like that, that seems too easy. Um, but yeah, man, I just, I, I like writing. I like trying to, um, I dunno it, explain things to people. Um, it’s also how I explain things to myself.
[00:11:39] Um, if I, I find if I don’t write, um, I don’t journal now, which I should. Um, but I do write probably like once or twice a week. Um, and I find that if I stop that habit, It’s not so much that my life spirals out of control, but I like mentally seem not to understand what is going on. And the [00:12:00] moment I start writing again, same thing with reading, um, the, those two activities, my, my wife, anytime I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, she was like, have you written recently?
[00:12:09] Have you read something recently? Maybe you’re moving too fast. Um, and she’s absolutely absolutely right. Those, those things always seem to. To ground me. Um, and I think that just comes from having done them for so long than them just being parts of my identity for so long. It’s just something that I’m used to.
[00:12:25] It’s the way my brain works. Hmm.
[00:12:26] Alex: [00:12:26] I, I find the same thing in the morning. I have to write and read and recently I haven’t been doing it. Realized that I had more anxiety throughout the day. And today I read and wrote this morning before doing anything. And it’s almost like my form of meditation. It’s
[00:12:39] Tracey: [00:12:39] nice.
[00:12:40] Yeah. It, it, it sets the day up. Right. And it also though, I think especially doing it in the morning, like that I, I go through, um, Like phases of habits where like, I’ll do that for like three, three months. And then sometimes I’ll like, go on runs for three months. Like I everything’s mostly in three month breaks.
[00:12:59] Yeah. You can’t [00:13:00] like stick to one thing. Um, but I find when you were, we’re able to cut that time out in the morning for yourself, whether that’s writing, reading, at least for people who, you know, really liked to write and read and for whom that’s a big part of their identity. It just sets the day up better mostly because I think, um, you’re prioritizing yourself, like, like you are figuring out what it is that, that like internal voice is really saying.
[00:13:27] And the moment you get it down on paper, the moment is a moment it’s not nagging you in the head anymore. And it, I don’t know, at least that’s how it is for me. It
[00:13:36] Alex: [00:13:36] is it’s, it’s, it’s similar to, I I’ve done this in the past where I’ve gone on runs to solve problems, but now if I like journal quickly, I can kind of get it out of my head.
[00:13:43] Onto paper and it’s clarifying in a way that you mentioned before, um, You had to stand up in front of the class and like read and you, it sounded like you enjoyed
[00:13:52] Tracey: [00:13:52] that. Oh, I love that, man. I love that. I have, I have gone back and forth about like going and, um, [00:14:00] especially when I was in my twenties, when I was living in New York, I would go to all those like live poetry readings that people would do.
[00:14:06] And man, I never got the courage, but I wrote multiple poems and like went sometimes I was like, I’m, I’m going to finally get up there and do it. Um, But yes, I, I love reading things in front of people. I like presenting things. I’ve, I’ve kind of been on those speaking tours. Um, I will say I am a very much an introvert.
[00:14:27] I enjoy them. I get, um, like, uh, like I, I like, I enjoy them because I like teaching. Um, uh, the very first one that I did ever actually was for a HubSpot. At, at the inbound conference. Um, and I spent so long building out that deck. Um, and, and I knew, I knew the deck, like the back of my hand, right? Like I was like, I don’t even need a deck.
[00:14:50] I could just teach people like this content marketing strategy. And I remember the night before we went out to eat with, um, some of the HubSpot marketers, [00:15:00] um, and one of them, I told her that I hadn’t even like. Practiced yet. I was like, yeah, I was like, it’s tomorrow. I haven’t even practiced. But like, I just know it so well.
[00:15:08] And I remember her looking me dead in the eyes when she was like, you should practice, you should definitely practice. Which scared me and made me very nervous. I like didn’t have another drink that night and went back to the hotel room and like practice three, four times, and then again in the morning.
[00:15:22] Um, but I mean, it, it went so well. And I remember telling myself before I started that, like the one thing, the way I would know that I was successful. As if nobody on Twitter, which is like a high goal now is if nobody on Twitter said that I. That I didn’t provide any value. Like, all I want to do with this is provide some sort of value.
[00:15:46] I want to like, make sure, like, even at the end, I was like, if you’ve learned nothing else from this, here are five takeaways. Right. Um, and it, and it would so well, like people on Twitter were talking about how helpful it was. I [00:16:00] got asked to come back the next day and do it again. And there was this long line of people standing outside, like waiting to come in.
[00:16:06] Um, It was, it was absolutely fantastic. And so now for presentations, it’s, it’s always that exact same thing, right? It’s it’s you are invited by and large, um, to educate people on something to, to really teach them how to do something. Um, same thing in my writing, um, at the commerce or at market or higher now, I mean, same concept, right?
[00:16:28] Explain things to people. Don’t skip a beat don’t glaze over something. Explain. How hard it is, explain how easy it is, show them, show them screenshots, show them videos, whatever it might be. Um, which all of that kind of just goes back to, it’s like a personal mantra of mine, which is trying not to waste people’s time.
[00:16:46] Um, and if people are there to learn something for, from you, um, well then you better
[00:16:51] Alex: [00:16:51] deliver. Um, is it possible to please everyone though? Or are you just trying to avoid neutral responses? Like, do you mind if you get a [00:17:00] negative response or I guess like what’s the goal in terms of like that audience response?
[00:17:05] Tracey: [00:17:05] Yeah, I mean, so I have gotten some, some negative responses to things and by and large, I try to respond to all negative responses. I. I read something a long time ago. I can’t even remember who it was was by, but it was like somebody who I admired there were like a big either in the e-commerce or writing world.
[00:17:25] And, um, they were explaining that they responded to every single negative email that they got. They, they must’ve had a big email list. Um, and they like showed examples of some of them. Um, and essentially what the whole point of all of it was, was by and large when people are responding really negatively to you it’s as something more to do with them than it does with you.
[00:17:48] Um, and so for, for negative responses, I do try to like DM or email or whatever it is, people who have nastier responses, um, [00:18:00] I’m lucky and that I haven’t been like trolled. Hopefully this doesn’t make me be trolled. So I have, I had the time, it hasn’t been so many that I couldn’t do it. Um, neutral responses are fine too, but yeah, neutral responses to, to an extent or like failure also because it’s like, okay, cool.
[00:18:15] That was fine. Um, but no, of course you can’t please everybody. Right. Um, but I mean, if you can get, I don’t know, More than 50% of the feedback being like, yes, that was really helpful then like, cool. You’ve done it also on top of that, even if the first time you do it or any presentation that, that you give, um, if all the feedback isn’t positive, like cool.
[00:18:38] It’s just a learning opportunity. Like go and like take, take what people say, talk to people, um, and, and do better the next time. I remember when I was at, um, the commerce. When I put on the makeup big conference, um, the, the immediate feedback when we first launched that con conference by and large was really good.
[00:19:00] [00:19:00] Um, but I did get, I think there were maybe four or five different women who reached out to me who were like, Hey, you don’t have enough women on here. It’s like 75% men. Like. So on and so forth. And my first argument, and I think this is true for everybody. When people first like, say something to you that you’re like, no, I worked really hard on that.
[00:19:21] You’re like, no, I have to defend myself. And I was like, well, I’m in all the videos and I’m a woman, they rightfully were like, ah, that’s not enough. Um, and they’re right. It wasn’t enough. Um, and so instead, um, one apologize to all of them acknowledged it. And then when I was leaving big commerce actually left before the second one.
[00:19:42] Um, but before they started putting together the second one, um, but I left a long list of like the things to do for the next conference. And the first one on that was have more women on the conference. Right. Make sure that you find women [00:20:00] who will talk to us and not just in one, in one section. Right? I think most of the women that I had for the it big conference.
[00:20:07] We’re talking about how they had grown their businesses from like zero to a million with like no funding. Um, and then all the men were like in the other sections and like that also not good. You need to think about how to get like proper, you know, representation across the board on all the different days.
[00:20:24] So, um, yeah, not all feedback has been great, but you can certainly learn from it. So
[00:20:30] Alex: [00:20:30] performance, uh, conferences and feedback. I’ve got another question with regards to performance in general. So writing for yourself, writing in a journal to me is a completely different experience than writing for an audience.
[00:20:43] And there may even be a difference between writing for an audience and performing live for an audience. Do you, do you look at them similarly? Do you say like that piece, that you’re reading in front of the class, uh, that conference talk that you’re giving, is that the same thing to you as writing a blog post that.
[00:21:00] [00:21:00] Hits the ether online, or do you separate those mentally? Do you get a different kick out of, you know, one or the other?
[00:21:07] Tracey: [00:21:07] Um, I mean, in general, when I’m writing or giving a presentation, I have, um, like an individual in mind. Um, not so much when I’m standing up in class reading something, but, um, with, with writing blogs and, and giving presentations, I usually do so at big commerce.
[00:21:26] My inspiration was, um, you know, I, my, my family has a family business. It’s a B2B business. They sell cotton, um, make and sell cotton and pillows, um, in bulk and they, to this day are still not online. Uh, but. Really what I was doing for those four and a half years at big commerce was I was like imagining my aunt who’s the CEO of the company.
[00:21:52] Like I was thinking about her in terms of how I was explaining everything, how I was making the case for everything. Like. [00:22:00] That was the audience that I had in my mind, truly trying to convince my family who has a very successful offline business. Like if I were to guide them on how to get online on how to do XYZ thing, how would I explain it to them in a way that would make sense?
[00:22:14] Same thing with the presentation. It was typically them unless the presentation was like to a very specific audience. And then I could certainly think of that. Um, at marketer higher, I am by and large thinking about, um, essentially all of my colleagues, right. That over the last, you know, Five 10 years have either tried or who have hired marketers.
[00:22:40] Um, whether that’s full-time, whether that’s agencies, whether that’s freelancers, um, specifically if articles are targeted towards like educating in-house folks. Um, and then for the articles that we’re making that are targeting towards educating freelancers, I mean, I’m thinking of like individual friends of mine who are freelancers, who I [00:23:00] know have had.
[00:23:01] Bad experiences. Right. And like, what could I write to them? And for them that would make it easier. That would make it better. So, I mean, I, I, I do by and large, what, and this is true as I’m editing too, right. It’s like, as I’m going through, like, does this resonate with me, is this relevant to me? And then also what I send this to, like my friend Donnie, who’s like one of the best social media marketers that I know.
[00:23:25] And like, Suggest that this could be something that would help her. And if that answer’s no, that I’m, it’s not a very good piece.
[00:23:33] Alex: [00:23:33] Did you do that when you were freelancing too? Or is this something that you’ve just come up with recently? Uh, since big commerce?
[00:23:38] Tracey: [00:23:38] Nope. I do it a lot with freelancing as well. I will say it’s often harder when you’re freelancing a lot of times when I’m.
[00:23:48] Freelancing. So I, I write content typically when I’m freelancing. And in that case, a lot of the times the person I have in mind is the editor themselves, right? Because like, [00:24:00] that’s, that’s technically who it is that you’re trying to please, right. When they read this, is this something that’s going to hit?
[00:24:05] What they’ve told me, are there. Goals. Um, I also do ghost writing for, um, some, for a few, uh, exact same thing there. Right. I hop on the phone with them. I interview them and I’m not just interviewing them about the topic. I’m truly trying to interview them about like who they are, their viewpoints in life, because what I’m trying to get from that is like, it is that person, right?
[00:24:29] Like I am writing. This in their voice, trying to at least, um, to be sent to them so that when they read it, they get it, it resonates with them. So that then, you know, they feel like they can share it out.
[00:24:43] Alex: [00:24:43] Yeah. So as close as you can get to the, the audience, the reader, the customer, et cetera, it seems like that’s really the key.
[00:24:50] So like, I’ve talked to people who are basically their own customer, right? Like they’re in a space where like they know the customer because they, it it’s like they’re scratching the itch that they want to solve for [00:25:00] themselves. And then there’s like doing research and getting as close as possible via that.
[00:25:03] So it seems like. Like big commerce. You knew that persona, you knew because it’s your family. It’s like you, you know, like that’s the closest you can be. And then you do the research for something like marketer hire. Um, and you, you have friends and you can kind of like act as a proxy, like, you know, that person.
[00:25:18] Um, and then freelancing, like you’re kind of one step out because you’re doing that through the lens of the editor who is hopefully doing the research and figuring out who that person is, but it seems like it’s all sort of fractal. And like that centerpiece is like as close as you can get to the actual voice of customer.
[00:25:34] Tracey: [00:25:34] Right, right. As close as you can get to the voice of customer. Um, I also think that like on the freelancing side, and this is true of any employee, um, the ultimate goal of a freelancer is to make the, like it is to make the person who hired you, at least in my case. Right? Like my goal as a content freelancer is to make my editor’s job easier.
[00:25:56] Um, and if I don’t do that, even if the content [00:26:00] piece is amazing, like I’ve. I failed. Right? So one of, um, the things that I started doing over at big commerce, it actually made it into our editorial guidelines over there. Is, um, you know, there is like take any keyword that anybody wants to go after and Google it.
[00:26:18] And you will find that in, you know, typically the top 10 articles, there is at least one, if not all of the examples. Are the exact same screenshot, right? They might’ve like annotated them or whatever, but like people aren’t finding things that are necessarily net new. Um, and at the commerce, we banned that as early as we could, because it’s just lazy.
[00:26:41] Like you’re just not actually doing the research. You’re just trying to get something out. Um, The same thing. I do the same thing in my freelance work now. Right. And a lot of that comes from me having been an editor myself before and knowing that when I got things back from freelancers that I could tell were just scraped from other [00:27:00] places, um, that it was a waste of my time.
[00:27:02] Right. Like I, it made me feel like, um, I mean, yeah, I don’t know. It was just a waste of my time. So I have tenants like that where I’m constantly trying to think through, okay. How can I produce something for someone that is going to, um, be as close to what they want as possible. And again, with the freelance stuff, it’s really trying to produce something for the editor to make sure that they’re having to put in as little time as possible to edit, edit it for their audience though.
[00:27:30] I hope they are editing it for their audience at least a little bit.
[00:27:34] Alex: [00:27:34] Mm, I love that rule. So it’s basically, you cannot use examples or images from the currently ranking top 10 articles.
[00:27:42] Tracey: [00:27:42] Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Oh, find your own examples. There are plenty of tools out there. Like there’s mail charts. If you need email examples, if you need SMS examples, like, I don’t know, go to like 2:00 PM, go through all of the, like D to C brands and sign up for their [00:28:00] SMS messages.
[00:28:00] Now you have a ton of different SMS examples that you can pull into something like do the research for the article, because that’s also going to give you insight, right? Like say. Say, um, this happens a lot in, in SEO, right? Where like the Google bots are telling you, the Google gods are telling you that you have to include, um, so you’re wearing something on like, I don’t know, 10 like email trends.
[00:28:28] And one of those email trends is like highly personalized welcome emails. And like, that’s what Google is saying. You have to include on there, but you have signed up for a bunch of different. Emails from a bunch of different companies you’ve gone through mail charts. I’m sure there’s other things like mail charts, where you can browse a bunch of different emails.
[00:28:45] So like you’ve done all that and you can’t find more than one example of that happening because the other role at big commerce that, that I continue over here as well as if you can’t find people doing something. If you can’t find three different people doing the same thing, [00:29:00] it’s not a trend. Like it’s just, it’s just not, it’s just like one company.
[00:29:04] Who’s doing something and it could or could not be working. Right. Um, so if you’ve only been able to find one and it’s not a trend, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to include it in the article. Cause if you want the article to rank, you probably have to, but you can say in there we looked through XYZ websites, we signed up for 20 different emails, like whatever it is, and this is the only example we could find of this trend.
[00:29:27] If this is something that you want to do. Move cautiously, probably not something to prioritize, or if you want to be an early adopter say it’s like, I don’t know a really cool brand that is actually following that trend then, Hey, maybe your company can be the very next one to do it. Maybe we are talking about something that’s like a very, very early trend though.
[00:29:48] Typically that’s not the case when things are showing up, uh, from the Google gods to include in an article, it’s typically because a bunch of other companies have included something, um, Maybe [00:30:00] sometimes without necessarily doing the research behind it.
[00:30:03] Alex: [00:30:03] Yeah. So I love this. This is like a heuristic that you can use as an editor.
[00:30:07] That’s, it’s a forcing function. Maybe not to create good quality content, but to avoid bad quality content, which I think is important. Especially if you’re working with a lot of freelancers. If you’re working with in-house employees, it’s a really good way to parse out and like kind of strip away bad.
[00:30:22] Quality and laziness, but, um, I want to see if you have a rule or a process for, um, value additive content. So when you were talking about how you could write an article from your perspective at big commerce, because you were writing for your family or at market or higher for your freelancer friend, is there a way that you can.
[00:30:42] Teach others on your team to do that. If they don’t know the person, I don’t know. Do you have an example of a person you could say, like at a freelancer that you write for at market or hire or would that be like embarrassing to them
[00:30:51] Tracey: [00:30:51] or no, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll send this to them. So my friend Donnie is a Donny Mara, a fantastic social media marketer who freelances, [00:31:00] um, And yeah.
[00:31:02] I mean, I think, I think about them a lot when I write content.
[00:31:06] Alex: [00:31:06] So, you know, Donnie, but what about somebody who you’re working with on your team who doesn’t know Dani? Like how, how do you translate that same idea of the end audience and how do you put that in their head? Um, so they can create similarly high quality content for that person and have that bar, or is that just the editor’s job to basically say pass, fail?
[00:31:23] Tracey: [00:31:23] I don’t, I don’t think it’s just the editor’s job. So two things, one, um, luckily at Marc, better higher, our audience is by and large marketers and everyone on my team is a marketer. Um, so they have that firsthand experience. So it’s often easier to like tap into like, Hey. Why does this matter? Right? Like, explain why this matters.
[00:31:46] If you were reading this, why would this Senate matter following that sentence? Or like, why would this chart matter to help explain something? I will say over at, um, big commerce and this, this might be a [00:32:00] better bar, um, because not everybody is a business owner, right? Not everybody wants to be a business owner.
[00:32:05] And it was something that was challenging at big commerce. Um, Uh, a lot was trying to help people understand how business owners or executives at D to C brands or B2B e-commerce friends, like whatever, like how they think. Um, in fact, one thing that, um, I remember learning very early on is not all brands want to grow.
[00:32:30] Not all, not all brands are like, yes, I want the hockey stick growth. I want to invest so much money and just like blow it out of the water. There’s a lot of brands out there, particularly B2B commerce brands who just want to like, keep doing the same that they were doing the year before. Right. And they want that for a lot of good reasons.
[00:32:47] Not necessarily that they’re afraid of growth, but if they grow really quickly, they’re not going to be able to hit the demand and they’d have to hire a bunch more people. And they, they don’t necessarily have the like, Maybe they’re in a small town [00:33:00] somewhere and they can’t necessarily recruit those folks and then they’d have to get machines so on and so forth.
[00:33:04] It’s a, it’s a much longer thing. So explaining that to people, um, was really hard. Um, especially, you know, as like sometimes, you know, I think, um, content people, um, at least this is how it was historically, I don’t think this is true so much anymore, but there were times where like, you could feel like you’re on your own little Island interviewing customers, doing things, you know?
[00:33:27] Um, but yeah, getting that across to others was really challenging. So I started really early on doing two things. One. Requiring that everyone on my team, at least once a quarter held a case study interview, talk to an actual client. And in those case study interviews, um, Of course, you want to actually get information relevant to a case study.
[00:33:50] Um, but there’s a few questions at the end that I think are required to ask. Of course the, do you like this product? Would you recommend it? Why typically it’s there on a case study [00:34:00] with you answers? Yes. The next one though, is what do you not like about it? What makes it hard? What makes it challenging?
[00:34:07] And then after that, it’s okay. Well, why, why those things? And if you can, one, those are great product feedback, tips to take to your product team and hand to them and be like, yo like XYZ company. That’s this big, hates this feature for these specific reasons, but also. If you overtime collect enough of those, what you’re going to find is that like, the reason why they don’t like those things is ultimately getting down into things like takes up my time.
[00:34:35] Um, makes me feel like I can’t be successful. What, whatever it might be like it gets. Some of those core, like human instincts. And I think once you get somebody on the phone starts to start asking those questions, start getting to know those customers, those customers then become the person that they have in their head when they’re trying to explain something, right?
[00:34:55] Because sometimes something you don’t like about a platform is actually a platform feature. API [00:35:00] APIs can be confusing, but they aren’t necessarily not like they’re a feature for a lot of platforms. So how do you write an article that explains to a business owner, what API guys are and how to properly use them, knowing that maybe this API feature has historically made them feel like they can’t grasp new concepts.
[00:35:21] Right. So like how do you break that down for them in an effective way? So I did that. The other thing that I, um, required was, um, as essentially in this works, I guess I could still work now. This was pre COVID days. Um, but as I was onboarding folks, um, per user, per usual, I think this is pretty common at most companies where, you know, folks go and interview with people like meet people, sit side by side with them in particular on sales calls.
[00:35:47] That one was really important for me. You need to sit on at least five different sales calls with people and like here. What the problems are that the person is having when they call in.
[00:35:58] Alex: [00:35:58] This is as you’re joining the company for [00:36:00] the first time on your first month or two?
[00:36:02] Tracey: [00:36:02] Yeah, yeah, yeah. As you’re joining it for the first time.
[00:36:05] Um, and then I would ask them to create a presentation, um, and present it to our like small content team. Right. Like what did you learn? What did you hear and what content would you create to solve those problems? Um, so that was, so they had to do that one for the customers that they, that they heard. Like calling in.
[00:36:25] And then we had a very specific set of questions that they would ask, um, new, like that they would ask team members as they were onboarding. So these are just other internal marketers. Right. So things like, um, how can I make your job easier? Like how can content like really help? What’s the hardest part of your job?
[00:36:45] What’s the most frustrating part of your job? Like, like you clearly like your job a lot, and you’re really good at it. Like, you know, what, what happens on those days that like, You’re not feeling great. Like this time, get away from you. Like what, what happens and our goal there they’d [00:37:00] have to then do a similar presentation internally for the organization for XYZ roles.
[00:37:05] Like what are the biggest frustrations? What kind of content would you produce to help? Um, yeah, that was how we would do it. And I guess that, that second one might sound like it’s not as relevant, but at a tech B2B company. I mean B2B people where our audience, right. And the same things that internally frustrate your own people likely also frustrate either people using your product or just people in general.
[00:37:33] It’s ultimately about figuring out like psychology and teaching people, how to figure out how to take. A complaint and attach that complaint or map that complaint back to core human desire and then figure out something to write or some way that content might actually be able to help.
[00:37:52] Alex: [00:37:52] I love both of those ideas.
[00:37:54] Um, they flip the script a little bit. I was back to you to say maybe something centralized, like [00:38:00] documentation personas, you know, baking this info and content briefs. But, um, this is decentralized. So this is something where you’re empowering the individual marketer or the individual writer to learn from their own experience instead of.
[00:38:15] You know, putting a picture of my guitar on a persona document and saying like, this persona loves music, you’re bringing them to a concert, you know, you’re, you’re helping them experience it from their own standpoint. So then they actually have generative value, additive ideas and not just like fit within this box kind of ideas.
[00:38:34] Tracey: [00:38:34] Right. Well, I mean the, the goal is to teach people how to ask better questions, right? Ask better questions, and then also figure out how to. Actually one actually listened to what you hear, which is like part of that reporting back. Did you actually hear them? And then, like I said, mapping that back to a core.
[00:38:51] Human desire and need all of us. I mean, what, and like this is even just something, I guess, to think about when like for any [00:39:00] audience you’re writing for, right. Like all of us have very, like, very, very basic needs. Like we get angry, we get frustrated. We all want love. We want our time to be respected. We want to provide for our families, whether that’s a family of one or larger, um, All of that in my mind can fit into pretty much every single piece of content that, that you write.
[00:39:27] Right. I mean, it goes back to like how you’re setting it up. Respecting people’s time, not just repeating, what’s already out there and mean those rules didn’t come up. Just like from nowhere, it came up from me being like, look like we need to write content that is better. Um, That and that people will actually read because here’s the thing, SEO articles are so long.
[00:39:51] Oh my goodness. Like nobody reads them. Right. Or that would be the thought. So like, how do you get people to read them? Is you, you set good [00:40:00] expectations. Um, you, you promise, um, and then actually fulfill on that promise to not. Not dumb things down to not lie, to not make things up to not, um, just copy stuff from other places.
[00:40:16] Now I will say there were times where we would we’d have like two examples of something and we’d be like, Oh, this third example from this other site was really good, right? Like rules can bend for sure. But as we’re onboarding folks, it really is like, no, the, these are the rules. These are the guidelines even actually at, um, at marketer hire.
[00:40:33] Um, my senior editor created editorial guidelines. And there is a very big immediate policy on there on plagiarism and plagiarism applies even to some very, very short words, like or short little sentences, like we need to be properly citing everything that we use and then writing out and explaining.
[00:40:55] Things ourselves. Um, and so in there, it’s, it’s highlighted in [00:41:00] yellow and it’s, you know, plagiarism will not be tolerated no matter how small, um, it’s, it’s lazy and it isn’t respecting either your editor or your colleagues time, but it’s also not respecting your, your audience’s time.
[00:41:13] Alex: [00:41:13] So these skills, um, it sounds like are much more along the lines.
[00:41:16] Like a really good editor. You’re a great editor. I’ve worked with you before, um, or like systems thinking, right? Like you’re, you’re kind of approaching this from like a standardization perspective from a multiple components perspective, not just like. Here’s an individual piece that I’m writing, but how are we going to do this at scale again and again?
[00:41:32] Yeah. How’d you learn how
[00:41:34] to
[00:41:34] Tracey: [00:41:34] do that? Oh gosh. Big commerce man. I was hired there, uh, and my first seven days, uh, everyone else on the content team got fired. Um, I didn’t even, I didn’t even have access to WordPress yet. Um, I was not supposed to be the editor in chief. I became editor in chief at big commerce, just cause like nobody else was there.
[00:41:53] Like it was just me.
[00:41:55] Alex: [00:41:55] Were you the last one standing like you were the only. I was the only one
[00:41:59] Tracey: [00:41:59] just me. Oh, [00:42:00] wow. Um, and I, it was, it was crazy. So the first two, maybe even two and a half years that I was there, it was just me and I had $0 for a budget. Zero. It was make this blog better, make it as good as Shopify guys, despite the fact that they had six centers, um, like that, like that was it.
[00:42:22] That, that was my like, go ahead. Right. Um, and so one, I learned how to do it. Myself, essentially. Right. Which was okay. I would wake up every morning and figure out, you know, I would have two to three articles. I was going to publish every week. I was grateful for the fact that I was being paid to write.
[00:42:44] That was what I had asked the universe for. And it was happening even if it, you know, did it always like, feel like the thing that I, that I love to do. So just got really good at. Producing consistent work, building out rules for myself and ways of thinking for myself. [00:43:00] And then when I was allowed to bring on a team, when the blog really started, started working and things were going really well, we scaled pretty quickly.
[00:43:08] I went from just me to like five people, um, and I needed to learn very fast, how to take all the stuff that was bucketed and my head and share it with everybody else. And I, um, am not good at documentation. Um, I am not like as much as I like writing, uh, as much as I like teaching, I just documentation.
[00:43:32] It’s just like the worst thing. It’s great. It is amazing. And it is necessary loom. It’s my best friend. Um, it’s made documentation so much easier. Um, but I’m not, I’m not very good at that. And so I needed to figure out, um, how to project manage really well. Um, how to edit really well and how to build out, um, rules and like, and systems ways of thinking so that other people could produce.
[00:43:54] The same type of content, but by the time I left the commerce, I was project managing the, the entire [00:44:00] marketing team, um, which was 50 people. So I am not a project manager by trade, but I can do it. Um, and in, in an effort to get everybody, you know, rowing in the same direction,
[00:44:12] Alex: [00:44:12] left to your own accord, are you, are you just like, uh, let’s just do it personally, or you just dive in and like, just figure it out as you’re going 100%.
[00:44:21] I’m the same way I’ve had to learn. Well, I haven’t had to learn too much about project management and documentation a little bit through HubSpot work, but I just found a business partner who was great at it. I’m still the bowl in the China shop.
[00:44:33] Tracey: [00:44:33] Yeah, it’s fine. I mean, I will say I, I remember, um, there’s, there’s this woman at big commerce.
[00:44:40] She was on our email marketing team and I, I can’t remember exactly what project it was, but I will just like. Forever. Remember this conversation where like we were sitting in the kitchen and I was explaining to her like what I was trying to do, and I couldn’t get anybody else, anybody else on the marketing team, like onboard [00:45:00] with it.
[00:45:00] Right. Like, and I was like, but like, I’ve created this thing. I have all these partners, like I just need to like, do X, Y, Z, like whatever. And she looked at me and she goes, Oh yeah, you just need an integrated marketing campaign. And I go, what. And she was like, yeah, you just, you just need to. And she just like drew it out for me.
[00:45:19] Fun fact, she was an integrated marketer. That was like how she has come into the world. Um, and she drew it out for me and explained it for me. Keep in mind, I came into marketing through journalism and through startups, I didn’t study marketing or business. I studied English, literature and French. Like I never learned what integrated marketing was.
[00:45:39] It was. The first time somebody had, had ever said integrated marketing to me. And she drew it out and explained it. And from then on forward, I had her in every single one of my project meetings. Cause I was like, Oh my God, things go 10 X better when she’s here because she knows how to think through. Okay.
[00:45:59] If [00:46:00] you’re going to do this. And you need it to get in front of XYZ people. Well then you’re probably going to need this person over here to make sure that they launch some kind of campaign and, Oh, they’re not going to be able to do that until April. And so I know you wanted this to go out in may, but actually could you like pull it up?
[00:46:16] I’m like that matters, right? Like it’s, it is so incredibly important and it changed. Mo my ability within big commerce to like really get huge projects across the line. It also really helped the commerce become a much more content focused organization in general. And so ever since then, I just, I just always think in an integrated way.
[00:46:39] Why, why wouldn’t you, it makes things easier. I actually had my senior editor again at marketer hire told me on Tuesday and all in our one-on-one that, um, This role is the first role where she is truly felt like her work or her writing work is being used in [00:47:00] like across the board, across the organization.
[00:47:02] And it was because, um, in response to she had written this great piece and I took that piece. Send it over to the sales team, wrote up a sales email for them to some of our like closed loss leads who were in nurture though. And I was like, Oh, this is perfect for this specific segment. Let’s send it to them.
[00:47:19] Um, and she was stoked about it. We sent it, you know, a dedicated email to about 500 people and that had a clear CTA sending to her article and she was like, yeah, No one’s ever done that before. No one’s ever thought to do that. And like that is integrated marketing. That is more sophisticated marketing.
[00:47:35] Like that is what I think people mean when they’re like, you can’t just hit, publish and think people will come. Like it’s not at all just about social media. Like there are integrated pieces within your organization that you really need to light up. And I am forever grateful to Lauren. is her name, um, from, from big commerce who taught me integrated marketing really from the ground up?
[00:47:57] Um, mostly probably because she was frustrated with how I was a [00:48:00] bull in a China shop. Um, and she taught me how to be much better, which was great.
[00:48:05] Alex: [00:48:05] So this is integrated marketing is just taking the pieces, the disparate things in your organization. Maybe it’s a product launch coming up, organize product.
[00:48:13] Marketers may organize that with like launch materials, sales enablement. Then you’ve got the blog team and you can kind of coordinate which content you’re writing around the week of launch that goes into the social media approach that made go into pay. Like all of it fits together as opposed to like us each isolated, like operating in our own tunnels and, and not getting the maximum value from that piece of content.
[00:48:33] Tracey: [00:48:33] Right, right. Yeah. It’s about breaking down silos, um, and, and silos exist for, for good reason, right? Like you do need people. Specific marketing disciplines to be heads down and doing the deep thinking to create things. Right. But then like when, when you were thinking about larger strategy, larger distribution, larger messaging, like those silos just don’t work.
[00:49:00] [00:48:59] Um, and, and the best way that I know how to break those silos down is, is integrated marketing, which is planning for it from the beginning, constantly thinking about, you know, W who you were producing that content for. Right? So like we use air table as a content calendar at market or higher. Now in each one of those pieces has like the type of role we’re targeting.
[00:49:21] Are we targeting clients? Are we targeting freelancers? Are we talking about remote work? Are we talking about digital marketing? E-commerce the future of marketing? Like. Like, what are we like, what are we talking about and why? Um, and then we’re mapping that back to the type of audience segments that we have.
[00:49:38] Right. And if we have a good audience segment that we haven’t sent an email to and a month to some kind of dedicated email, and we just published a piece that features. You know, really smart people in that specific industry, will you bet we’re going to get an email up and running and we’re going to send it to them cause it’s relevant content.
[00:49:55] Um, and get, gives us an opportunity to get back in front of them, especially cause [00:50:00] we’ve, we’ve already got them in our system. Right. Um, and then of course that’s, that’s just the email marketing back inside. There is of course the, okay, now that this piece publishes, like making sure that it gets on your social team’s calendar, that graphics are, you know, in a.
[00:50:14] Place where they can easily grab them. They can share them out all of that jazz, which we are still working on at market or higher. I did create the air table for when a blog post published. It would then. Also publish over to the social calendar. Um, it was like an automation. It broke the other day. And so I just have it off right now.
[00:50:33] I swear one, one night I was telling people on Twitter this the other day, cause I was talking about how much I love air table for content calendars, but I was like, no, I need to just like pour a glass of wine and fix it one night. And I haven’t yet, but I will.
[00:50:46] Alex: [00:50:46] So I’m picturing, especially with the automation stuff.
[00:50:49] Like I can’t remember the name of these machines. Um, Is it a Rube Goldberg machine or something where it’s like the domino falls and it hits like a, [00:51:00] a Seesaw thing. And that like fling something into a ring and the ring drops, you know what I’m talking about? Where like each piece kind of connected. It’s a little rad.
[00:51:09] Yeah. So that’s what I’m picturing this integrated content marketing operation, but what’s in your organization. What’s the initial impetus? Like what, what drives the initial idea? Is it. Did you, or are you driven by SEO or are you driven by like product stuff?
[00:51:25] Tracey: [00:51:25] Like, right. I mean, it, it, it depends. And, and I, and I think it should depend, right?
[00:51:31] It’s like that, that part of it should be. Left open. Um, on the marketing side, when we were coming up with new content, 100% SEO is an important part of it. Um, but also, so is trending topics, right? I mean, I’m, I’m of the belief, um, that, you know, the. The Google algorithm changes a lot. Um, I love SEO content.
[00:51:54] I’ve, I’ve been very successful building SEO content. Um, but I also think that trend [00:52:00] pieces and talking about the news and getting interviews with really smart people on that news, um, can be really, really helpful. And in a way it’s a little bit of an influencer strategy. And for marketer hire. Which is not even two years old yet.
[00:52:14] It’s important for us to build trust and show that, you know, we, we can talk to these experts, um, and in a way that can provide value. So that’s a big part of our strategy as well. Um, our senior editor comes from built-in where that was her job, always looking for news and trends and marketing in particular.
[00:52:32] And so that’s what she’s doing over here. For us or our content calendar is pretty fluid in that way. Um, and then we have another, um, editor managing editor who runs our SEO content side of the house as well as help build out sales, enablement work. Um, often those things can be one and the same, sometimes they’re not.
[00:52:50] Um, so just kind of depends. Um, but she focuses more on that. Her work is more set. So like right now, you know, she has two pieces that were pretty much [00:53:00] ready to go live with. Whenever one is supposed to go out next week. But in the case, Facebook’s iOS are not Facebook. Apple’s iOS 14 update happens and we’re able to hop on this interview call with this expert.
[00:53:11] Who’s already told us the moment it drops, he’s calling us to do an interview. Well, then we’ll release that story instead. Right. So we’re w we’re making sure that we’re agile and as many ways as. Possible. And then of course, um, some things do do come from product or from sales needs, right? Maybe. Maybe the, you know, maybe for the first two weeks of the month, call volume has been low for our sales team.
[00:53:32] Maybe they aren’t at, you know, the percent they want to be. Okay, cool. Well, we need to figure out some kind of, um, content or sometimes some kind of campaign to reach out to folks to see if we can’t activate some more of our lists. Do something that can help. Um, so that’s one side of it or, yeah, maybe there’s a new product launch.
[00:53:53] Um, a good friend of mine, uh, who struck over at the hustle, just joined a marketer hired not too long ago and is running our [00:54:00] new revenue department, which is essentially like she gets to build cool products. Like test them out. Right. And we were on a call earlier today when she was like, okay, well, when might we be able to test this product out?
[00:54:11] And she was like next week. And I’m like, no, not next week. There’s an aggravation next week. And was a holiday next week. And also like, like we need, like, let’s not rush it. Right. Um, but like that that’s. Part of the integrated marketing plan. It’s okay, cool. Now we can get this in front of the marketing team next week.
[00:54:28] They can think through it a little bit. It’s only a test, so yeah, doesn’t need to be perfect. Right. But how do we build it this into the messaging that we’re already planning? Um, part of a lot of this too, is making sure that I, especially as a leader, um, I’m constantly thinking about how to. Not burn my marketers out.
[00:54:49] Um, I have two writers, two writers, editors, right? Um, In general, their writing and editing, you know, anywhere two to four pieces a week. I try to keep that [00:55:00] closer to the two route or the, the, the two area, but, you know, say we’re going to launch some kind of product in a couple of weeks, and I need to tell that to them next week, the week before we’re going to do it.
[00:55:11] Well, then the question becomes, okay, well, what, what drops as a priority? Right. What, what do we need to move around? Um, and I think, I think when you have really great integrated marketing, that decision is a lot easier to make because it’s okay. Cool. Well, like this is for the benefit of the company, not just the marketing department, not just organic results, not just whatever we’re, we’re moving things around to ultimately, um, help the entire team hit, hit, hit a goal.
[00:55:38] Alex: [00:55:38] Hm, when you, so when you first mentioned the idea of integrated marketing in that whole system, it popped in my head that that was probably a rigid system with a lot of planning, but the way you describe it, as way more agile and way more flexible than I had pictured. So it sounds like it almost enables that agility and that like.
[00:55:56] Ability to adapt if something comes up
[00:55:58] Tracey: [00:55:58] this week. Yeah, [00:56:00] 100%. And if, if it sounds like that, and anybody who’s like listening to this, it’s like, that’s not integrated marketing and everyone can go. Thank Lauren Riazi. She taught it to me. Um, and, and, and again, she, she taught it to me knowing that I was, um, that, that bull in a China shop who was like, we need to get these things out.
[00:56:18] I have this new idea. Let’s move, let’s run. Um, and so the type of integrated marketing, I like makes sense. Makes room for that. What we’ll put in guardrails up, right? Like you don’t want a bull in a China shop, but bulls aren’t all bad. Right? There’s a lot of times that moving quickly on something can, can be really good stirring things up can be really good.
[00:56:40] Um, you just need to have guard rails on it. Um, so that again, people don’t get burnout or that other departments don’t get surprised or that you’re not just producing something. That’s like, Really cool and great. But doesn’t see, it’s like true potential because you forgot to tell the sales team that you did something like what, what a miss.
[00:56:58] Alex: [00:56:58] Absolutely with those [00:57:00] guard rails, uh, things may come up, you may change as you go. Do you have like a, do you think of it like a portfolio in terms of like the different ideas that are going out there, the different thought leadership, do you have a bucket for that? I know. So this is a very simplistic version, but at omniscient we use like the barbell strategy.
[00:57:16] So we have a portfolio of about 80%. Of our content assets, our blog posts are going to be very predictable, SEO driven, um, you know, typical, it’s going to be keyword driven stuff that we’re going to have a predicted output. And then we have about 20% that’s in this buzzworthy bucket. And that could be to build links that could be to build a thought leadership.
[00:57:36] It could be product launches, whatever, but that’s our bucket for like experimental content. Do you have any models like that or is it. Is it a little bit more agile,
[00:57:45] Tracey: [00:57:45] I guess it’s more agile. Y’all have thought about it a lot more than I have, and I respect that. That’s good. Um, I, uh, our team, I actually, I mean, I guess a big commerce, we didn’t really follow, follow that either.
[00:57:58] Right? It was. It was [00:58:00] there at least when I was there and definitely at marketer higher now, a lot more agile, the one rule I have, but it still gets broken a lot for a variety of reasons. But I do like to try to publish at least two pieces of net new content a week that can be broken. Um, and the case that, you know, maybe one of those pieces is like a huge SEO piece.
[00:58:23] Like cool. We don’t need to publish anything else. It’s fine. Um, but that’s, that’s ultimately the goal we’re marching toward is to get in that kind of cadence. But again, um, we’re, I mean, we’re in the business of one, educating people on marketing, um, and covering marketing trends and topics, which is like not a business.
[00:58:44] I would recommend many people get it and marketing changes every single day. And so they’re, you know, any given week there’s, you know, a ton of different types of stories we, we could run after and go and try and tell. So we are trying to have a balance between the SEO work and [00:59:00] the, you know, Storytelling pieces, but a lot of that balances, um, at least right now, a lot more based on our individual writer, editors, bandwidth, and their own passion versus, you know, having the being stricter and, and, and that might change, right?
[00:59:14] I mean, I, here in September though, January is going to be our highest organic traffic month ever with our highest organic traffic leads ever. Um, so I’m stoked. We’re, we’re beginning to see the, the, the fruit. Uh, PA payoff from all the hard work it’s going to be about 30%, 30% increase over the last highest month, which is exciting.
[00:59:35] Oh
[00:59:35] Alex: [00:59:35] yeah. That’s awesome. Do you ever feel personally like a conflict between the, uh, systems and sort of engineering mindset? You’re talking about like automations and planning, all this stuff out and integrated campaigns and the sort of craftsmen like, um, I dunno like the passion-based content creation.
[00:59:53] Do you ever feel a conflict between those or did they pretty much align perfect. No.
[00:59:58] Tracey: [00:59:58] No. I think there’s always a conflict, [01:00:00] but between them, um, my, my senior editor, the other day, actually a piece she was working on, which was more of like an interview passion piece. Um, she just got a bunch of really great quotes for it, interviewed a lot of people for it.
[01:00:12] And when. As a result, it essentially became an SEO, like piece. There’s just so much content and it made more sense. And again, like back to that, like don’t like just build something to publish it. Like, make everything like, you know, like get the most value that it possibly can. This is actually our marketing trends piece that, that just went live.
[01:00:33] Um, and. She’s new to the SEO process. I mean, we’re dropping stuff into clear scope, you know, I’m showing her how to like update and edit things. And she just messaged me and was like one day we need to have a show about like, how to publish good content. That’s optimized for SEO and like where you can make like trade-offs and where you absolutely should never make change.
[01:00:55] And I’m just laughing cause her, her and I think those lines are in different. Yeah. Spots and that’s okay. [01:01:00] Like that that’s good tension. Right. Um, I also think she’s a much better editor than, than I am. I’m very specific about what I like to see in articles. Um, but I’m, I’m not a hugely detail oriented person and she very much is so, so it was a good compliment there.
[01:01:16] So her line. Is way stricter than, than mine might be.
[01:01:21] Alex: [01:01:21] Your edits are ideological and hers or grammar or I’m, I’m the same as you. I basically ignore all the grammar, all the sentence structure.
[01:01:30] Tracey: [01:01:30] And I’m like, like no one cares. It’s more like comments all the time, all the time. I’m like this doesn’t sound interesting.
[01:01:39] That’s it. That’s my comment. Not helpful though, though. I have a personal rule for myself that I try to abide by, which is, you know, if, if you don’t have, um, a particularly, if you don’t have an idea for a solution or a suggestion and something is like, okay, Like leave it, let [01:02:00] it
[01:02:00] Alex: [01:02:00] rock the boat. It’s you’ve got like a budget of, um, being annoying, I guess.
[01:02:04] Like that’s how I feel like you don’t want to waste it on like an okay thing. Right? Exactly. It’s gotta be like a game changer, like deal breaker, and that section’s got
[01:02:12] Tracey: [01:02:12] to go. Right. Well, so like we have, you know, one of our, um, we, we have HubSpot for our CRM and we’re, they’re implementing, um, Like naming conventions for our workflows.
[01:02:23] Right. And so I was looking through the one pager the other day and it all seemed really confusing to me. And I commented on a couple of things, but on the spot where I was supposed to like, you know, approve it, I was like approve and commented. I’m like this, all this seems confusing. I only read through it in like 10 minutes, honestly, if nobody else thinks that I’ll probably get it, it’s fine.
[01:02:44] Cause I don’t have a solution. I’m like, I mean, this seems like. That’s a good way to go about it. And I don’t know what a better way to go about it would be. And I know somebody worked really hard on it and yeah, I’ll get it eventually.
[01:02:57] Alex: [01:02:57] Yeah. There’s something I love, um, that I think [01:03:00] only a couple of people I’ve talked to have this where like you have a balance of like the systems and engineer mindset with the passion side.
[01:03:07] So I remember everybody’s doing this now, but when I. I w w I think I met you when I was at CXL. And when you were at big commerce and you would do these like, surveys with like influencers for quotes, right? Like you would send those out for articles. And if it was applicable to a given niche, I would get sent like CRO articles.
[01:03:26] And I feel like everybody’s doing those now, but they’re lazier. So the way you would do them, you would you curate the people? Well, I know that for a fact. And like, I know that after that you would also edit the quotes into the article and like a tasteful journalistic way. And, um, I don’t know if this is just a statement or a question, but I think like the way that people do it now, it seems a lot more cynical and yours seems like not cynical.
[01:03:51] So like the, the way that people do it now is like they’ll send, or they’ll get as many people. Who are looking for backlinks. Like I am on this [01:04:00] email list, send it out and basically copy and paste the quotes in this, like really just like patchwork Roundup posts. But you were able to like build that system component where it took some work away from you.
[01:04:10] While still maintaining the quality of the article and I’m sure that was on purpose.
[01:04:15] Tracey: [01:04:15] Well, so, um, yeah, it was, it was very much on purpose. We did not send, um, those questionnaires to just anybody and it, it took us a long time to build up that list. So yeah. T, I mean, I was mostly sent, well, let, let me start here.
[01:04:33] I had, um, a really great boss over at, uh, big commerce. Um, he joined, I think about maybe two and a half years and sent me being there. Casey Armstrong. He’s the COO over at ShipBob now. And the very first thing he said, or probably not the very first, you know, the very first thing was one of the first things he said.
[01:04:51] Um, when, when he joined it was me and I’m a pretty new SEO manager was, uh, he encouraged us. To start [01:05:00] every single week, reaching out to people. Again, this is pre COVID, um, reaching out to people, um, that we thought would 100% not say yes and ask them to go get coffee, right. Just like, Hey, want to, like, I like your job title.
[01:05:15] I’m interested in what you do. What does like, uh, an experience manager? What does that even mean? Whatever. Um, Fun fact way more people say yes, then you think they will. Uh, and so that list that, that we built out, um, well, one first he encouraged us to do that every single week. And then about once a month, he would ask us like who the people for that we had met.
[01:05:37] So it wasn’t like you absolutely had to do it, but like he was keeping, he was keeping tabs. It’s like, Oh, you only mentioned two people. You didn’t do it every week anyway. Um, but we started building from that. A list of all the people who like we really liked talking to. Right. Like people that, like, we were actually like becoming friends with, like, I mean, these are people we respected [01:06:00] in the industry, but also people that we were like, damn, like they’re smart, like went and got coffee, went and got drinks.
[01:06:05] Like I liked the way they. I think I know what they’re trying to do would love to help. And so we would just list all those people out, put their emails in, say who like the owner of the relationship was. Right. Um, the kind of stuff that they, you know, could typically talk on. So for you next to your name and email was probably CRO or content, like whatever.
[01:06:25] Um, and then when we had something on that we would go and look at all the people we, we had for that and send them, send them an email, right. Or it’s like, Hey, Alex, Really great seeing you a couple of weeks ago. I hope everything’s going well, you know, over a big commerce, we’re going to be putting some pieces together.
[01:06:41] Some of them are going to be talking about CRO would love, you know, if you have five minutes to hear some of your thoughts, you can fill them out here, might be able to get you a back link or something. Anyways, let me know if you need anything. That is how we built that list. It was truly, nobody was added to that list that we hadn’t personally met and begun to build a [01:07:00] relationship with.
[01:07:00] And I think, I think that made those lists. It’s a lot more successful than some of the ones that I see now. And then of course we also curated on the back end. So once we got answers in, we didn’t use answers that weren’t good, um, or thoughtful, um, And, and we would, there are two different ways we would do it.
[01:07:19] One is combine them, like you mentioned in an article that like makes it look more journalistic style. And in fact, that marketer hire that marketing trends piece we put out was done in that kind of fashion. Some of them were live interviews. Most of them were, were quotes from our freelancers. Um, Or if we got a bunch of really good, um, like quotes back, we would create an entire new piece.
[01:07:43] Right. Or it would be like, you know, 51 trends in CRO from the experts. And then we write a headline or we’d write an intro to it. And then we would group the quotes. Right. Because as you’re reading through them, you can start to see like, Oh, like, All these [01:08:00] people are actually kind of talking about the same thing, right?
[01:08:03] So like maybe we’d get, you know, 50 quotes, but it would be like eight trends. And then we would just put those quotes in under those trends. Right. So it’s like, you know, so people can go through and see like what all the different people actually have to say on a given topic. And again, going back to that, like rule of threes that we had with the images on even how to tell if something or the examples on how to tell something’s a trend.
[01:08:27] If somebody only mentioned something once it’s not a trend. Right. So anytime there was three or more people mentioning something where like, Oh, like this is important in this matters. Right. Um, those pieces of content did so well and are way easier to create because all you’re writing is an intro. And then you’re just relying on the expertise of others.
[01:08:47] But of course you have to, in order to do something like that, well, you, you have to, you know, make sure that the people giving you information, um, Give you good information. And I, in my experience, the best way to [01:09:00] do that is to have personal relationships with them.
[01:09:02] Alex: [01:09:02] Um, well, I did the same thing at CXL, but I didn’t have a S a system, um, as robust as that I think, but it was w one pep there’s no way pep would want me to write the bullshit Roundup posts, like I would have gotten fired for sure.
[01:09:15] But, um, we wanted to add value. No, for sure. Like he was right. A hundred percent, but, uh, we wanted to add value to it, our audience, and there’s very technical topics. AB testing user experience, like all of that stuff. So I would reach out to the experts in the space who were speaking at conferences. I used to do the coffee thing too, and I never had a boss tell me to do that.
[01:09:36] It works. Yeah, it’s amazing. Yeah. I used to go out at least twice a month and get coffee with somebody new and just have those conversations. But through that network, I started to just like, Build up, I would reach out for quotes, but it was fully in interest of creating a better piece of content, not in like getting a hundred people on the list.
[01:09:56] They’d all share it or something like that. Cause that was going to ruin our reputation on the [01:10:00] backside. That was never going to be something that CXL wanted to be known for. So I, I love it. I don’t know what to say. Other than that, I love that.
[01:10:07] Tracey: [01:10:07] That’s yeah. I mean, yeah, it, it works. I mean, I think when you go into.
[01:10:12] The content process. And I think there are a lot of people out there who have hopped on this like content marketing idea. Cause they’re like, Oh, well it’s like worked for all these companies. And like, yeah, it has. Um, but I think when you go into it with, you know, that, like we just need to produce content, we need to get backlinks kind of thought process.
[01:10:32] I mean, I, I just can’t imagine you’re going to be too terribly for successful for, for too long. Um, when you’re coming at it from the actually wanting to educate people, actually looking to build relationships. I mean, it, it changes the game. And Hey, it might, it might move slower, but I’m telling you, I was a one-man band of a single human being at Vic commerce two and a half years.
[01:10:54] And, and we got ourselves up to parody with, with Shopify without doing [01:11:00] nearly as much as they were doing. Um, and I, I think that’s because we were building those relationships. We were really, really focused on educating folks. I mean, and, and so with Shopify, right, right. I mean, I became friends with Shopify as editors because they messaged me and be like, well, that was a really good piece.
[01:11:14] And I’m like, yes, Like inception, I’ve done it.
[01:11:19] Alex: [01:11:19] Well, that’s you followed one, uh, way to success, which is actually giving a shit. I think that’s something that people can, they can really tell it’s a fingertip feel kind of thing, a qualitative thing. But, um, that actually leads me. I didn’t write down many questions, but I wrote down this because you said this in an interview with a workable.
[01:11:38] Uh, I’m of course, on affiliated with that interview in any way. Um, I come from a family business background. I know how hard running a businesses. I know how helpful, sorry. The light in here is weird. You know, how helpful that, that says this information can be? I wouldn’t send an article to my mom or to my brother to read, to help our family business.
[01:11:59] Then I wouldn’t publish [01:12:00] it. That’s my bar. And it’s not a waste of time to make sure it’s hit. Yep. Do you think your standards are higher than normal?
[01:12:09] Tracey: [01:12:09] No, I don’t. You know, I, no, I, I really don’t. I, um, I was talking with someone on LinkedIn the other day about, um, Hiring journalists that somebody had posted something and it was like, do, do people think it’s good to like, like have that anyone had success with hiring journalists for like content marketing roles?
[01:12:30] And I was the only person it seemed that was like, absolutely. Yes. Like what? Like, of course it’s like all that I hire. And I mean, let me tell you most of the journalists that I have hired have had. Crazy high bars and standards of like content and editorial and fact checking. And they make me better all the time.
[01:12:52] And I, I wish that we had that lens, um, on, on, on all content. [01:13:00] I just, I, I just think it’s useful. Um, there’s far too much content out there that is a waste of time for people that you know, is, is produced just to get an affiliate link or produce just to like, I mean, a million different reasons. Half of them are on page one, right?
[01:13:17] Explain to my family, how things end up on page one of Google, they are shocked. Like, I shouldn’t believe that I’m like, well, I’m you like, look at the, you know, um,
[01:13:25] Alex: [01:13:25] well it’s hard not to be cynical and you learn how the sausage is made, especially when you’re going to like the affiliate space. When you get into like the.
[01:13:32] You know, content farms and whatnot, and you see that being successful
[01:13:35] Tracey: [01:13:35] content farm. So who, but
[01:13:38] Alex: [01:13:38] like 10, uh, $10 articles, like just tons of 400 word pieces.
[01:13:43] Tracey: [01:13:43] I would do those, but I actually worked at a content farm called demand media. It was my first job out of college in 2010. Um, and the, you know, height of the recession and I was a title manager.
[01:13:56] I was paid less. Then 30 K a year, I [01:14:00] believe in Austin, Texas. So I mean, Austin, wasn’t what it, what it is Texas hold Austin, Texas. I could live on South Congress for less than a thousand dollars a month, which was amazing. Wow. Uh, yeah, I, I worked at a content, um, farm and I was a title manager, which meant it was, um, my job to write, talking about not liking documentation.
[01:14:22] Um, it was my job to write out the guidelines. For our title approvers. So demand media at the time would buy a bunch of queries from Google, run those queries through, um, like AI systems to get rid of anything that wasn’t like a sentence or didn’t, it sound like a good headline, but AI could only do so much, you know, like an algorithm can only figure out so much.
[01:14:45] And so we had title. Approvers, who would sit at home should people who worked at home, who would go through and we had this insane guideline on like how to approve something when not to approve something, whatever, and like, say yes or no on [01:15:00] if, uh, On if a query could be a headline to an article and they would make 1 cent per title.
[01:15:06] Um, and then my job was to write the guidelines for them and then audit them in the case that they cause some people would cheat the system. Right. And just be like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Kind of thing. Um, but yeah, man, and I, I was there when they IPO mode and then watch, you know, that whole world kind of fall and crumble.
[01:15:25] So I know the. The backend of that world too. And I, I had come from, uh, from a college newspaper before that, where my editor in chief there, um, came from the Dallas morning news, which is one of the most respected names in, in print publications. Um, and it was, it was a shocking, shocking place to be. Um, so I, I think I found a middle.
[01:15:47] Yeah.
[01:15:48] Alex: [01:15:48] Was this right after college? Your first job? Yeah. And you did, you didn’t enjoy this.
[01:15:53] Tracey: [01:15:53] I’m sure it was terrible. I was there for, I think, nine months. So how,
[01:15:59] Alex: [01:15:59] how did you through [01:16:00] that and still come out the other end, completely passionate and optimistic and energetic to like do content marketing. Well, so did it make you like, uh, I don’t know, curious to see like what else was out there?
[01:16:13] Cause
[01:16:14] Tracey: [01:16:14] yeah. Um, I mean, I, I, I don’t think I knew any better. Right. I mean, I, my, my family, as a, as you’ve mentioned, owns a small, small business, um, and like Southeast Texas came from a small town, went to Texas a and M, which I know is a big school, but I was an English major. I read books the whole time. Like, I mean, I, I didn’t know.
[01:16:33] Um, So, yeah, I don’t know. I just thought it was a bad job. And the next job I got was as, um, a managing editor at naturally curly, where it would naturally website, that curly hair, um, and was there for about two years and got to learn a bunch about curly hair and diversity because there, I mean, who naturally curly is.
[01:16:58] One of the most diverse [01:17:00] online communities, the curly hair community is one of the most diverse, um, community online communities I’ve I’ve ever seen or been a part of. Um, and it’s a truly beautiful thing. If the whole world could be more like that, it would be amazing. So maybe that made me passionate about it again, I don’t know.
[01:17:16] Then into journalist journalism’s messed up too, though. I had a, I had an that I. It was, it was literally exactly like devil wears Prada. It was so miserable. I was being screamed at for like, not capitalizing things and metadata and meta titles, which by the way, does it matter? Um, it, while like my editors wearing like Manolo Blahniks.
[01:17:43] Screaming her heart out at me for that. And then the next day I’m carrying like $30,000 worth of merchandise on the subway. Cause like they couldn’t get me a car, but I better not lose anything. And like, I mean, there are bad jobs out there. Like I don’t think that [01:18:00] that’s not a content marketing problem.
[01:18:01] It’s not a tech problem. Journalism problem. It’s just, it’s just the truth. There’s bad jobs and bad bosses out there. And I just, I just try not to be one of them.
[01:18:10] Alex: [01:18:10] Hmm, I love that. It sounds like through all these experiences you seem most interested in and great at storytelling and this idea of like creating change in your audience, would that be accurate?
[01:18:21] Tracey: [01:18:21] Yeah. Yeah. And inspiring something within them. Hopefully their, their better nature and empathy for others. If there’s, if there’s one thing I can do, I would hope that that would be it. Um, but yeah, I mean, I do, I, I think a lot of it just goes back to, um, I was really close with my grandparents. Um, growing up and my grandfather had started that small business.
[01:18:45] Um, and that side of the family was just very close and I just saw firsthand, like how much it means and matters when, um, somebody can start something, um, that, that fulfills them that gives, [01:19:00] that gives back to their family. Um, I mean, I I’m incredibly lucky. I mean that small business paid for my college paid for the house that I grew up in.
[01:19:08] Right. My mom works there. My brother works there. My cousins worked there. Um, I don’t know. So I, I just have this like real passion for trying to help people make sense of the world around them and find, and do the things that, that. Make them happy and, and that ultimately, um, help help them live their best life.
[01:19:27] I dunno. I think my grandfather did a great job at that. Um, and so I just try to help other people do it too. In small
[01:19:33] Alex: [01:19:33] ways. It sounds like you take it seriously. It’s something that I’ve thought about a lot. There’s so much content out there. And by putting out another article, if you don’t know anything about the topic, maybe you put it out and you don’t think too much about it, but it’s actually a negative it’s pollution because there is so much out there and somebody may take that advice and they may run with it and waste a lot of time or money.
[01:19:51] And that is something that could affect somebody in the real world. So it, there is the case to be made to take it more
[01:19:57] Tracey: [01:19:57] seriously. It’s a butterfly effect, right? I mean, [01:20:00] everything, every single one of us does affects other people. Like the best any of us can do is just be like, try to be your best selves.
[01:20:10] That’s it. And it’s not going to happen every day. I mean, most of us are probably going to publish an article that we hate. Like, I mean, it happens right, but I mean, I don’t know. I think, I think figuring out what your morals are, what the best processes are, and really sticking to those, um, Ju just helps you navigate life.
[01:20:29] Helps you get out of bad jobs, helps you publish great content. Um, whatever it might be. And again, it’s, it’s different for everyone too. And that’s a good thing, right? Like it’s good that all of us have different ideas on what’s good. What makes sense, going back to your, you know, when I was talking about giving presentations, like, you know, not everyone is gonna agree on the same thing and that’s.
[01:20:50] That’s totally fine. You just have to figure out what, what your stuff is. And remember that good tension. There is a, there is a such thing as a good tension. There is a such thing as nuance and gray [01:21:00] areas. Those are the areas you want to be in. Um, because those are the areas where change happens.
[01:21:08] Alex: [01:21:08] I want to talk to you more about this novel writing, uh, aspiration.
[01:21:11] And I want to talk to you more about several other things, but I. Can’t help, but end on that, because that was awesome. So if you’re cool with it, let’s put a cap there. And, um, do you have any the links you want to send? I guess like people, where can they find you online? Um, anything you want to point them to.
[01:21:29] Tracey: [01:21:29] Yeah. So I am trace wall teary, C E w a L L Twitter, which is where I’m most active from like a professional standpoint. Um, Tracy Wallace on LinkedIn, um, also trace fall on Instagram, but that’s just like pictures of my wife and my dog. Um, so follow along for that, if, if you must, uh, and then marketer hire, uh, dot com.
[01:21:51] I mean, that’s, that’s where I’m at now. We’re, we’re doing a bunch of really cool stuff. Um, and building a brand, a business, a blog, um, up from. Nothing. [01:22:00] Um, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job. I’m I’m excited to see where it’s going to be, you know, six months from now a year from now, even longer.
[01:22:07] Alex: [01:22:07] Awesome. Thanks Tracy. .

Connect with Tracey on Twitter or at MarketerHire.

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.