Marketing is fun and these 2 guys who have experienced all sides of it in the trenches bring that in each and every podcast. One comes with a data background, while the other focuses more on the creative. Together, they both love Top Gun way too much...
Expect insight and laughter as they take you through marketing industry news and best practices in the most unique way possible. Hosted by AVP of Marketing Jeff Baker, whose research has been featured on Moz, and VP of Content Francis Ma, who has more than 10 years of experience working with creatives and clients.
Where to listen
Likes from the land down under
Above the Fold, A Content Marketing Podcast • By Brafton • Dec 9, 2019
What did it feel like for New Zealand to be one of the first countries to deal with Instagram's new policy of hiding likes? Francis found a digital marketing veteran named Greg Roughan to speak for the entire country on this episode of Above the Fold. Full Transparency: We recorded this back in August of this year and Jeff just found it under a stack of spam emails. Loyal listeners may remember that we talked about Greg back in season 1, episode 3 when Francis messed up his last name. He still can't get it right.
Meredith Golden is the rarest type of person. That thing Golden does?
People who can’t figure out why their online dating profiles repel romance come to her for help. And she provides it for a fee.
As you might expect, this episode of Above the Fold quickly revealed itself to be one of the most intriguing yet. Here’s what’s inside:
Lots of good advice about online dating
A few examples of what not to do on Tinder.
The eerie realization that online dating is digital marketing in disguise.
On this episode of Above the Fold, Jeff Baker is accompanied by the soporific stylings of Canadian entrepreneur, marketer, co-founder of Kula Partners, host of the Kula Ring podcast and semi-sonic doppelganger of the late, great Leonard Cohen.
The discourse du jour: Reimagining the shape of the sales and marketing funnel.
The year was 2001 and Trent Dyrsmid - founder of the Bright Ideas podcast and Flowster - was earning $200k a year to play golf and go to dinner with stockbrokers.
But he was bored and, in his mind, underachieving. Plus, he never cared much for golf.
So, he did as the entrepreneurs do:
“I decided that I was going to quit that job and I was going to sell everything that I own to start a business.”
The odyssey that followed was both topsy-turvy and immensely illuminating.
In this episode of Above the Fold, listen to the seasoned entrepreneur and prolific podcaster narrate his sidewinding journey to success.
To start season three, Mike Carroll from Nutshell joins us for a harmless discussion about how sales and marketing can work well together. Then, without warning, he turns into a rabid beast and goes nuclear on Facebook.
Baker introduced his guest, Michael “Mike” Carroll, head of growth at Nutshell CRM. There was also some speak of all the weed Joe Rogan smokes - you know, the usual stuff.
Anyway, the conversation tumbled its way toward sales enablement. This part was super insightful and got to the existential core of the age-old rift between sales and marketing.
But then around the 35-minute mark, something extraordinary happened.
Carrol, who must have ingested a Molotov cocktail before recording, verbally unleashed its fiery wrath all over Facebook.
Apparently, a great story plus great data can change a marketing campaign. This is a shocking development for Jeff and Francis. Join us and our guest David Lemley as we dig into why numbers and creative can fuel the bottom line.
Special guest Tommy Griffith of Clickminded talks SEO training courses, college degree scams, and how SEO media has turned into a clickbait industry.
2:00 - Starting a $100k business on the side.
17:00 - The state of the clickbait SEO media industry.
35:40 - Colleges selling worthless digital marketing degrees for $50-100k, before the curriculum is even set.
An expose on the people who have to manually review and censor offensive and violent content on Facebook.
An influencer with over 3 million followers couldn’t sell 36 t-shirts.
Northface caught trying to hack Wikipedia. What?
Rand lays out the case against Google for the department of justice. Because, they definitely couldn’t figure it out themselves.
Your brand is more important than your website when it comes to SEO.
What the hell does that mean? That's exactly what we asked Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive, when he pitched us this podcast topic.
Garrett explains the value of not just showing up in search results for the keywords you are targeting, but also having your brand show up in search results that are not part of your website.
Call it SEO brand reach? Call it Call it guest blogging and online partnerships? Call it reputation management?
We don't know what you call it, but Garrett makes an interesting point that you shouldn't miss as a content marketer.
We talk about data all the freaking time. Why? Because Jeff likes it and Francis cries when he has to think about charts.
But in this episode, we talk with Chuck Leddy, a lifelong creative who explains the importance of crafting a brand story. Because yes, a brand story CAN and DOES translate to revenue.
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that puts privacy at the forefront of their business model. Seriously, you will get ZERO search customization, because you are anonymous. But is that what people want? Are searchers happy to give up their information in exchange for extremely customized results?
It seems to be a mixed bag. People seem to want the customization, but NOT the tracking. But what we can say for sure is that DuckDuckGo is gaining market share.
Tim Soulo, CMO and product advisor of Ahrefs, and industry-leading SEO tool, joined us for a discussion on searcher-intent, and SEO trends.
Tim explained how a simple modification to a high-value page brought their rankings from the bottom of page one to the top, effectively 5x-ing their traffic within days.
Tim also dropped a bombshell on us; Ahrefs is creating something BIG. We are talking game-changing BIG.
What happens when you have a deep dive into AI for an hour? You find out Jeff is a closet Taylor Swift fan (according to a chatbot) and Francis has real fear of a robotic Barbie. This all happens thanks to author James Vlahos joining the show who, coincidentally, wrote a book about AI called Talked to Me: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Think. That's right people, loopholes are real and they are spectacular.
Eli Schwartz, former Direct of Growth and SEO at SurveyMonkey joined us to talk about all things SEO, search trends, and the value of surveys.
It's been a while hasn't it? This is what happens when your two co-hosts end up taking vacation on opposite weeks. On this episode we welcome SEO and survey expert Eli Schwartz as a guest to take the boys through the finer points of enterprise SEO and surveys. And interestingly enough, the conversation may just reveal a recipe for how content could go viral (spoiler alert: it's weird stats). All this and random sounds from Colombia as Jeff was still there when this was recorded.
Nick Eubanks, CEO of the From the Future company joined us to talk about his article that blew up on SparkToro a month ago. In this article he did something crazy...
He opened his books to the world, breaking down his exact cost of doing business. Why does anyone care? Well, for starters, nobody has ever done it before, considering cost structures as "proprietary information."
Most importantly, this level of transparency led to a great conversation about how to express to clients and prospects why digital marketing services are considered "expensive." The cost of creating quality content is fully built into the cost structure of high-quality agencies. And as we know, high-quality content is the ONLY content that performs on the web.
In short, if you want results, you need to pay for them.
Have you ever seen a 97-slide presentation and lived to tell the tale? Jeff and Francis have and now they know what the future of Digital Marketing is going to look like: a Flywheel. Can either of them explain what that is? That's questionable.
The presentation is courtesy of Rand Fishkin, CEO/Founder of SparkToro who goes in detail about what the problems are with digital marketing today and what to do to change it.
The entire podcast is dedicated to the presentation, along with wild veers off topic. You'll hear about how social media is faring (though you can probably guess) and how position zero is changing things. Enjoy as always.
Below the Fold is completely unrelated to marketing and probably a waste of your time. But, sometimes banter about Chuck E. Cheese creating Frankenpizzas is way too hot to leave on the cutting room floor.
Also, Jeff is traveling to Colombia, and we have no idea if he will ever be heard from again, so we figured we would get as much mileage out of our recordings a possible.
Times are a-changing. Francis and Jeff explore how the internet is evolving from Google potentially turning into a publisher to engagement on Facebook experiencing a downward trend. Where does this all lead to and are we in a Black Mirror episode? Or do we just need more digital and IRL friends? All joking aside, there are real changes in play that could affect digital marketing and upend the search industry. Regardless, the boys do find a silver lining, tying our future to a surprising industry that has a track record with making or breaking new technology. Go ahead and guess, but you likely already know...
94% of content created generates ZERO backlinks, and 1.3% of articles take 74% of all social social shares. Most content does not work, but why? Is it better to be "small data" rather than "big data"? DuckDuckGo addresses this question by collecting zero data about its users, and providing a high-privacy platform.
Topic 1: DuckDuckGo
Inspired by this article: https://www.popsci.com/google-duckduckgo-bing-comparison
What is DuckDuckGo and why does it exist?
How important is result customization versus privacy? Users will need to consider what they value more.
Topic 2: Why Most content doesn't work
Inspired by this report by Brian Dean and BuzzSumo: https://backlinko.com/content-study
Massive report from Backlinko that looked at 912 million blogs.
Longer headlines perform much better than shorter headlines. Also that shorter headlines can feel like stock headlines, meaning they are generic, and that could be a reason people are turned off by them.
There is no correlation between social shares and backlinks.
Topic 3: Do marketing agencies practice what they preach?
Inspired by the headline "Do Agencies Practice the Content Marketing they Preach."
We talk about the history of Brafton marketing.
1. Bye Bye Big Data - Hello to Big Ideas (8:00)
Is it a bad idea that brands are touting "big data" with data security being all the rage these days?
Probably, because people aren't impressed by how much information you have about them.
2. State of Remote Work (16:30)
Working from home isn't a passing fad. Workers are embracing the new world of remote working in droves. And employees and employers are finding it to be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Jeff and Francis discuss a new report outlining just how prominent the new trend really is.
3. Silicon Valley is on Fire (47:00)
Why is everyone leaving Silicon Valley? Data shows that infrastructure sucks and isn't improving, housing costs are terrible and isn't improving, and the companies people work for aren't exactly the model for business ethics.
This week we were joined by Nadya Khoja, Chief Growth Officer of Venngage.
Nadya has created 12 awesome techniques for coming up with topics your audience will go bananas for.
1. The 12 Principles of Viral Content (there's likely more actionable takeaways here)
Nadya has developed 12 super actionable techniques for creating topic ideas that will blow your audience away.
Major takeaway: don't write content for yourself, write it for your audience.
2. This Gillette ad seems a bit... contrived.
They have changed what they consider "The Best a Man Can Get", but are they wading into political waters for genuine reasons?
Her advice: Don't do something stupid.
3. What Nadya gets out of speaking events
Have you ever thought about attending or speaking at conferences/events? Nadya talks about what you could stand to gain both personally and professionally from participating at conferences.
4. Getting to know the real Nadya
We asked Nadya:
-Her favorite cocktail.
-The last song she listened to on her phone.
-How she takes her coffee.
-Hard tacos or soft tacos
You know, the important stuff.
Fyre in the hole! (10:30)
The Fyre music festival documentary on Netflix was mind. blowing. And there were marketing lessons to be learned.
This dumpster fire demonstrated a perfect "A" with regards to marketing, and a perfect "F" with regards to execution.
We were shocked to our core by the sheer incompetence of the organizers, and cried tears of joy watching "Influencers" and selfie culture catch some serious heat.
Yelp can take a punch (30:00)
A lawyer tried to sue Yelp to get a client's negative review removed. The court told them to take a walk.
But where is the line between writing or saying something that is completely accurate, and publishing content with malicious intent?
We touch on bad reviews; how brands can respond with in one of three ways - refuting the review publicly, ignoring it, or admitting guilt and apologizing.
Facebook thinks we are all idiots (41:00)
FB is integrating WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram... and they are trying to tell us that these apps are not going to share data. RIGHT. How stupid do you think we are?
FaceBook has two things going against them: 1. It's no longer cool, and they are bleeding users, and 2. Nobody trusts them.
What will the future look like without FaceBook?
ATF’s 2019 opener, featuring Andy Crestodina, reiterates the need for authenticity
The opening episode of season 2 is Andy Crestodina, cofounder and strategic director of Orbit Media, and God bless him for gracing Episode One with his presence. If not for Crestodina’s ability to navigate Ma’s meanderings and Baker’s bluster, turning their verbal play-dough into cogent content marketing takeaways... who knows where we’d be.
He elaborates that the content piece - “the cheese to the traps” - will generate the links and authority to rank for commercial-intent keyphrases and address demand. But the rest of the formula, which includes utilizing influencers, shareability, posting in a variety of places and savvily employing visuals, hinges chiefly on connection.
Be personable. Be relatable. Be authentic. It’s not a bad rallying cry for a new year’s resolution, right?
Not exactly in midseason form
Poor Crestodina. It’s unclear whether anyone prepped him with any sort of agenda for the discussion. He handles it well, despite Baker handing off segues with the grace and efficiency of a 6-year-old flag football quarterback. Not sure whether Andy was compensated for doing this - hopefully we at least sent him a Brafton tumbler.
Undeterred, the author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing casually drops digital marketing dimes like:
Digital ink is never dry
Great content marketers are collectors
Use screenshots, use charts. Every image should further the express intent of adding value to the piece.
To be more productive with a larger content production task, break it into smaller more manageable tasks, like you would any other major undertaking.
2019: The year of stock reckoning
We fly down the homestretch with a lighthearted yet pointed discussion on why stock photos are canceled. Apparently Crestodina’s been “angry” (Ma’s words, not his) about stock images because they represent a missed opportunity to be authentic. A stock image neither assists the content around it nor can it be the focus itself. People are out here saying “it’s so hard to be original, so hard to differentiate,” Andy opines, and then they use a stock photo. Pssh.
Many, many thanks to our guest for hanging with us and being genuinely good-natured, while providing lots of fodder for thought as we trudge through the winter months. Crestodina has a set a high bar for as-yet-unspecified future guests, and set Season Two off with otherwise unattainable credibility. We’ll see how our favorite yahoos fare in using that credibility for good. .
We realize podcasts aren’t necessarily supposed to have seasons. But hey, Congress isn’t supposed to ask stupid questions of powerful tech CEO’s, either.
Yet here we are with a season finale chiefly about Congress doing just that thing. Rules were made to be broken on “Above the Fold.”
For the last time in 2018, bamboozling tangents that involve San Diegans throwing scooters in lakes, important ethical questions about Google’s societal responsibilities, and a healthy dose of luddite shaming await you.
Starting with Congress’s ‘saga of ineptitude’
A lot of ignorance sloshed around the hearing room when Congress attempted to grill Google CEO, Sundar Pichai – and Jeff and Francis were quick to call it out.
But the biggest farce is what wasn’t discussed at the hearing. Such as the fact that Google’s algorithms are in a black box. Nobody fully understands them, or for that matter, the full extent to which Google uses data.
And what about the moral integrity of its algorithms? How do you encode ethics into a massive database that determines so much about what content the world sees? Do you even try, or do you let the results truly mirror some societal consensus, as Google claims it’s doing?
Congress had a huge opportunity here to probe Google’s more cloak-and-dagger qualities, and they squandered it by focusing on things like why “idiot” is equated to Donald Trump in search results.
Marketing under the influence. Episode 17 revisited a topic from a recent show: influencer marketing. The trend (think Instagram celebrities and personalities using their profiles to market products from partner brands) has gained a lot of attention lately, and not for the best reasons.
It got very weird, very quickly in the penultimate episode of the first season for "Above the Fold" during which we were joined by digital marketing sage Shane Barker — who may or may not be Paul Rudd, just based on his voice.
Is influencer marketing inherently bad? Are there ways to make the strategy work for you? What is a good amount of emoji comments?
Scratch that third thought — at least, because emojis don't equal real engagement in influencer marketing. But what does constitute true results? The guys try to answer that question and nail down how influencer marketing can be successful.
We shared a wide-ranging conversation on influencer marketing and smart marketing that had its fair share of detours into the strange and unusual, with plenty of jokes and sidebars along the way.
The deep, dark side of influencer marketing is starting to take shape. Jeff and Francis discuss a Wired article that depicts an unregulated, wild wild west scenario where legitimate businesspeople are torpedoed and extorted to be successful.
The story discusses Sahara Lotti who started a B2C cosmetics company called Lashify. Lotti was told that she would have to "pay to play" in this market, which included paying influencers upwards of $100k for endorsements.
Little did she know, "influencers" are not only paid to endorse products, but also to take down competitor products. This happened to Lotti, in an attempt to torpedo her business. An online war ensued, resulting in light being shed on the mafia-esque nature of influencer marketing on Instagram.
Data ownership! Make sure you check your contracts with your marketing vendors so that you own your analytics data and your website login details.
It's a damned good thing Google didn't roll out comments for ALL Google searches. Fortunately it's going to be limited to sports scores.
Red Dead Redemption has a hilarious feature that watches you crash your horse into everything, all in cinematic glory. Francis explains "cowboy time, and the incredible amount of time he sinks into this game.
Cyrus Shepard, previous Head of Audience Development at Moz and current founder and owner of Zyppy, joined us to talk about the latest news in digital marketing.
We opened the conversation with discussion about some automated brick-and-mortar developments in San Francisco. Jeff had his first experience in an Amazon Go store, a weird, Orwellian experience to say the least. Then he went to a robotic coffee shop where all coffee is made by a robotic arm. Cyrus makes fun of Jeff for losing the the remaining human contact left in his life.
We discuss voice search, where we are less worried about the trend for increasing amounts of voice-based searches, and more worried about complex voice answers, and featured snippets that are pulling away clicks.
Influencer marketing brings us into a weird territory of ethics, again. We discuss the issues of quantifying results, and overall transparency.
When you hear about Google's workplace, you think "ooooh nap pods and gyms and free lunches", right? Apparently not. 1/5 of all employees around the world walked out on their employer due to a host of issues, including paying off top execs for unethical behavior. Francis explains you can't create culture with beanbag chairs and lunch, you need to create a positive workspace. Has their slogan gone from "Do no evil" to "Do no evil, unless our reputation is at stake?"
27:00 - Zero click searches! Google is pulling more content into SERPs, provided by content marketers, which is resulting in less traffic being sent to the owners' of the content. In other words, Google is taking our content and populating it on SERPs to keep people in search results, rather than sending the traffic to your page. Not nice!
TikTok is the fastest growing app in the world...but it really seems like Vine v2.0
Pour one out for Vine, because it has re-emerged in the best way possible.
Francis and Jeff react to 2 stories in the news and plunge into the crisp, blue waters of influencer marketing to attempt to make sense of it (for better or for worse). Surprisingly, the conversation covers the idea of ethics in the industry, and leads the boys down some interesting and surprisingly roads.
6:20 - Michael Arnstein is going to jail for trying to get his bad reviews off of Google, which leads to a conversation about reputation management. How much do bad reviews affect a website? Is there a way to claw back from a bad review? Jeff provides an answer thanks to a story about a bad experience he had buying a car and how he turned into "that guy" on yelp raving about poor customer service.
20:00 - A New York Times opinion piece by Kara Swisher lays the groundwork for a conversation about the prospect of a Chief Ethics Officer position for tech companies. Is this role needed? And what does it say about the tech industry that a role like this is even needed? Francis also talks about an app called iFart. Keeping it classy as always.
31:00 - What is influencer marketing and is there a place for it in a content marketing strategy? For Reebok, the prospect of it was enough to create an entire in-house team. There's a light and dark side to this, and Jeff and Francis explore the nuances of both. And the dark side is something the really grinds Jeff's gears.
Francis, Jeff and new guest Sonny Sharp dive into a Forbes article that lists the 5 most important content marketing trends in 2019. Hint: some of these "trends" are absurdly useless.
7:00 - Content marketing will become "marketing." Basically, everything is all moving online, so basically traditional marketing has just turned into content marketing. Is there a place for direct mail? Is there a place for bus ads?
16:00 - Strategy will be important in 2019. Are you kidding me? This is a trend? How could a premier publication like Forbes have nothing more insightful to add than "strategy is good." Sonny and Jeff rage out on SEO agencies for perpetuating the lack of education in the market.
28:00 - The marketing funnel has to die. It assumes a linear and homogenous path for every type of visitor, when in reality, the funnel only makes sense in our heads, and not in reality.
40:00 - Our bold predictions for 2019, including the singularity taking all of our jobs.
5:00 - Using empathy to create more compelling content. Sonia Simone wrote an awesome article that explains how to walk the line between having a brand voice and personality, and not offending half your audience. The gist of the conversation is around how to be the Chief Empathy Officer for your audience - how do you create content that's really going to solve their problems? How are you going to select topics that truly matter to them?
18:00 - Creating content as a team activity. Imran Tariq brings up an interesting concept: using a team to create content. Jeff and Francis talk about how this strategy can be extremely useful, and how it can quickly become a major detractor. Listen to the intern, listen to the CFO, but make sure the specialist decides which ideas are good and which are bad.
33:00 - SEO is an $80 billion industry, apparently. Great article found on SparkToro's Trending tool. But the real interesting topic is at the bottom of the article: will Google change the rules? Have we put all our eggs in the Google basket in the hopes that they don't pull the rug out from under us?
8:00: Listen here, folks, we are all about a free market and Google Search is a perfect example of a working system. But when "Mesothelioma cancer lawyer" is fetching $226 per click, then you KNOW these lawyers are fighting like a pack of wolves for those afflicted with a terrible disease. Further, some of the most expensive terms on the list are drug and alcohol treatment-related phrases. Again, people making a killing off people in need. Right or wrong, it seems that the system is working.
19:00: Elon Musk does everything perfectly wrong as a CEO. Most are tight-knit, neutral, sterile, keeping investors happy. Then you have Elon Musk who just wants to create cool stuff, including a Rainbow Road-themed dashboard on the Tesla, to sending a mannequin into space. We will continue to Tweet at him until we get him on the show.
Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, Twitter, SnapChat. Does Facebook truly offer anything that can't be reproduced nowadays?
It doesn't look good for the Zuck, as the platform is regularly bleeding users and it isn't replenishing their ranks with new users. Facebook simply isn't cool anymore, and businesses don't invest advertising dollars into things people don't think are cool. We may be looking at the beginning of the end.
82% of all internet traffic will be streaming video by 2021. But wait a minute...what KIND of video traffic? Marketing reports love to state this statistic as though it represents an opportunity to gain massive viewership from consumers DYING to watch explainer videos. But with a little research, you will see that this data also includes streaming over-the-top devices (AppleTV, Roku, etc.) and...adult websites. No judgment here, but make sure you dig a little deeper into the data!
"Snackable Content" might just be the most obnoxious buzzword in the marketing industry, and to our delight, Andrew Davis absolutely crushed it at CMWorld.
18:00 - Why is long-form content the most attractive person at the bar? Mitch Joel, Dorie Clark, and Hall of Famer Ann Handley explain why long-form content is the only way to safeguard against the commoditization of content (boring content).
27:00 - Original research is BOSS. SurveyMonkey gave an amazing presentation on how original research performs leaps and bound beyond opinion pieces. They also generate the most links.
36:00 - If you aren't podcasting, you're a moron. Jeff discusses statistics that prove podcasting needs to be a mandatory part of a content strategy.
Yes, believe it or not, president Trump has accused Google of doctoring results, but is he that far off base? Jeff and Francis discuss how left-bent silicon valley tech companies Facebook and Twitter were caught favoring content.
Alex, play Africa by Toto. Jeff and Francis discuss a changing world of voice search and how it will impact content marketing and SEO.
What content marketing beliefs need to die? Jeff and Francis share their thoughts on the burnt out, tired phrases and beliefs still being touted today.
How long is it going to take for your content marketing program to generate revenue? Francis and Jeff discuss studies, both internal and external, that answer this question.
Google's algorithm update pulverized the health and wellness websites of the world, possibly due to E-A-T signals. Francis explains what it means to create authoritative content.
Jeff gets a nerdy SEO article published on Moz and discusses some of the findings of the study.
The lost episode - Francis and Jeff record a podcast and lose all the audio. So they hopped on the phone, hit record, and winged it. They talk about the biggest goofs they have made in their careers in content marketing.
Francis gets lost in an absurd analogy of your audience getting lost the in the ether. Jeff bashes whitepapers in favor of ebooks. Jeff explains that most digital marketers have no idea who their true competitors are.
The machine is becoming self aware, and it's breaking into content creation, content direction, and technical SEO
Francis asks Jeff what the hell SEO is and why he cares, Jeff asks Francis when AI is going to put him on the street, and Francis asks Jeff what to publish on holidays.
Welcome to the content marketing podcast for NORMAL people.
We incorporate the human element into marketing discussions. Life should be fun, so we incorporate humor into every discussion we can.
We poke fun at bad practices.
We explain complex topics in Layman's Terms. So everyone can understand the topic.
Want to talk marketing issues? Join us. Want to talk artificial intelligence? Join us. Want to laugh? Join us.
But mostly, we just want to see how many pop culture references (mostly Top Gun) we can squeeze into normal conversations.