Steve Floyd on What Marketing Works Best #SEJSummit

As the CEO and Founder of AXZM, Steve Floyd has a wide breadth of experience in all things marketing, from local search to content strategy. He will be sharing his insight and experience a speaker at the upcoming SEJ Summit in Dallas on March 31st. The conference ticket cost is being covered by our partner, Searchmetrics.

Searchmetrics delivers enterprise SEO and content marketing analysis, recommendations, forecasting, and reporting for companies who want potential customers to find them faster.

Want to attend? We still have a few spots open – so if you are in the Greater DFW/Houston area and want to learn from Steve and other great speakers, sign up for an invite now. If you aren’t in the Dallas area, don’t lose hope! The SEJ Summit will be at five other locations this year: Chicago, London, New York City, Atlanta, and San Francisco.

1. You’ve been a long-time active speaker and influencer in the Dallas area. Why do you think Dallas attracts so much top SEO/marketing talent?

I think it’s a combination of things. The fact that we have so many Fortune 500 companies operating here side by side with a diverse range of independent small to medium businesses is definitely one of the driving factors. Lots of Oil & Gas, Financial Services and Investment Firms operate here as well. The money and work available can very much shape the type of businesses, culture, and careers that thrive in a particular market. Dallas is no different from any other place in that regard.

We have so many SEO personalities old and new based here/from here as well. It has created a really competitive environment. By that I mean that to compete – or carve out a niche here in digital, you kind of have to be a bad ass to survive. Like a lot of other major markets, it’s really saturated.

Aside from over-saturation – it can be a lot of pressure to satisfy the typical business owners’ expectations here, too. Our business culture is just so demanding. A lot of people are workaholics here, it’s not healthy at all. If you can handle it, I think all that pressure creates diamonds over time, though. What we deem as a normal work week is considered above and beyond to a lot of people we’ve worked with on the coasts and abroad.

2. You have experience with a lot of CMS platforms, like Joomla, WordPress, and Magneto. Do different CMS platforms work better for different industries (and why)?

To some extent, but it’s really about choosing the right tool for the job, not just going with whatever technology stack other people in your industry are using. You look at budget, features / technical requirements, organizational requirements, as well as who will actually be using it. Like a lot of technology decisions in business, it’s about the least path of resistance. Also, we ditched Joomla! support at our shop back at the end of 2008. I don’t want to trash the platform, but there was a big case of the dummies going on with their core team for a while there and I didn’t have time to wait around for them to figure it out. I’ve heard they’ve improved it a lot over recent years but like a lot of other people on the topic of Joomla!, I don’t really care.

We primarily develop and support WordPress, Drupal, and Magento based websites these days. More and more we have been contracted to do highly custom web applications that are architected around a company’s specific business logic. We have our own frontend and backend development frameworks and tend to stay away from using anything from third parties. I like the piece of mind of knowing something won’t break when a customer clicks on update! Plus, you just can’t put your customers website stability in the hands of a third party. It’s just not a good business decision.

3. I’m also impressed by your background and speaking experience in content marketing. How do you think content marketing fits into an organization’s overall marketing strategy?

I would not define myself as a Content Strategist or Content Marketer at all, although I get grouped in with them quite a bit. There are far more brilliant minds than me in Content Marketing. My area of expertise is in the strategy/planning and technical aspects of content. Coming from a design and development background and doing business development and sales for my own agency over the years, I have a very different perspective than the typical copywriters and communications people you come across.

You’ve seen a huge buzz in the SEO world the last year or so around “Content Strategy”. I enjoyed that buzz a lot more when I was in the front row of Kristina Halvorson’s talk about Content Strategy for The Web at SXSW Interactive back in 2007. Those of us who have been around a while know that just two to three years ago, that word wasn’t in the average SEO practitioners vocabulary. It was all about Content Marketing on the circuit just a few years ago (and still is to some extent).

I point that out because a lot of people I see talking about it are not really doing it justice and / or are flat-out getting it wrong. Content Strategy extends far beyond a blog, an editorial calendar or a specific channel. It affords for all online and offline communications and how that content ties into the businesses goals of an organization.

It’s about the CMS you choose. It’s how that CMS is documented and the who, when, and how of the content your company is going to publish in it. It looks closely at exactly who each piece of content is made for and even how that person is going to access it. It’s a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the content you have. It’s knowing what to get rid of, what to keep and what to repurpose for other channels. It’s the way the content is presented across various devices. It’s really, really hard and involves a lot more moving pieces and considerations than I commonly see anyone talking about in the SEO space.

Conversely, I think the job of an SEO is just as technical and hard, but with other things. That’s why I’ve always said Content Strategists and SEOs need each other. Content people are often like a Pollyanna in the process. So many feelings. Such pie in the sky hopes. If the world only worked that way. It’s no wonder you hear a lot more about failure than success coming from those camps.

SEOs, on the other hand, are blunt and to the point, often to a fault. If we could each learn from each other and take the best from each others unique set of skills, we would be unstoppable. More often than not we compete for power though and both end up getting ditched for the big agency brand marketers who swoop in and take our budgets with better creative.

Overall, content marketing for the sake of content marketing will not help you reach your business goals. With the zoo of algorithmic changes Google has been making over the last few years, I would submit that content without a strategy will become a liability to your business.

4. What are 3 types of content a local business can create to increase their traffic and online local presence?

I provided a ton of resources on this in my State of Search presentation “Hyper Local Content Marketing”. The three that I think are most impactful at the time of this interview would be:

  1. Local Influencer/Celebrity Interviews: For this to be effective, you really need to make sure your blog is at the quality and standard a local influencer or celebrity would expect. Do not approach people with a low quality theme and five scant blog posts and wonder why they won’t return your email. The bigger the name, the better results you can expect. All the more reason to take the time to make sure your site and content are top-notch before approaching them!
  2. Local Events/Meetups: It is so easy to start a Meetup group based on your  industry and promote content around that group. You can also give away prizes for those in your area who blog about the event and share it on social media. The context of the content, coordinates of social interactions and topical relevance is local SEO gold.
  3. Local News/Publishers: Beyond local bloggers, making yourself newsworthy to the local media is a great way to send local signals that are more in line with the direction the Pigeon update is headed. This could be done through a charity drive, an after school program you or your company sponsors, or even just providing expert commentary for local journalists who are covering a topic that relates to your industry.

5. One of the things I love about our industry is that it’s always changing. What is the main area of digital marketing that you think is still “behind” (e.g. more people need to embrace or it’s not as useful as it one day will be)?

I think the vast majority of digital marketers are missing the boat on the API economy. I presented a talk at Big Design last year called “Growth Hacking With APIs” , where I touched on the way companies can use APIs to lower their cost of acquisition while increasing customer retention. As the business cycle winds down, cost and efficiency is going to be increasingly more important.

If digital marketers want to stay ahead of the curve, they need to help businesses stay competitive by doing more with less. I suspect in the near future everyone calling themselves “Digital Marketers” now will be calling themselves “Growth Marketers”.

I just feel bad for all the confused baby boomers who think we are all are peddling tumors.

Luckily, we are tumor free over here! Thanks for the great insight, Steve.

Have your growth hacking and content efforts been successful? Let us know in the comments.

Remember, you can still see Steve speak! Spots are still open for our upcoming SEJ Summit in Dallas on March 31st. The SEJ Summit will be at these other locations later this year: Chicago, London, New York, Miami, and San Francisco.

Featured Image: Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock