Marketers keep saying that content is king, and indeed content marketing is essential to any online business nowadays, if you know what you’re doing.
Successful content marketers start from the right mindset, an ROI-driven content marketing plan, and know what are the best content marketing tools
to use in each campaign.
In this interview we will learn the fundamentals of content marketing from Pat Ahern, Co-Founder of Intergrowth
, a data-driven content marketing agency with a portfolio of 50+ clients and growth rates over 900% in a year.
Please introduce Intergrowth to our audience. What’s your story and how has it evolved so far?
Intergrowth empowers the underdogs. We partner with high-growth businesses to overtake the industry leader as fast as possible.
We identify the themes your customers search for online every day. We write the best resources on the internet about those subject matters and optimize those resources for search engines. Then, we build links to those articles from the best websites on the internet so you outrank your competitors and win the customer.
Intergrowth started back in 2016. My business partner, Dave Freund, and I were working at another digital marketing agency. We had grand visions of evolving that agency during our first six months there. Understandably so, the agency had been growing for the past decade and wasn’t going to rebuild their business based on the opinions of two twenty-something-year-old kids that worked there.
Six months in, we decided to start building our agency. We built our agency on two core beliefs:
- The freelance economy and remote work are the future
- Process should drive everything we do.
More and more people were gravitating towards working as freelancers every year. We wanted to build an agency driven by the most talented people in the world, rather than the most talented people within a 30-minute drive of our office.
We had seen a recurring trend at other agencies: agency hires an employee as a specialist at X. Eventually, the employee leaves. Agency realizes the employee never documented how to do X. Agency goes out to frantically hire a new specialist at X. New employee tries to rebuild the system from scratch while managing a full client workload.
We believed the solution was to build a process for everything we do. This would ensure the most consistent results for all clients so we could always offer services that helped businesses grow.
In November 2016, we set out to run our agency full time. Originally named Junto, we started working six days a week in a 10-square-foot corner of Dave’s apartment, offering content marketing and web development services to growing businesses.
Over time, we began to build a name for ourselves through the quality of our services and the educational content we published. We got an office space, hired our first employee, and began to grow.
In 2021, we decided to rebrand and divide the company into a few different businesses. “Junto” became “Inter.” Dave shifted his focus to a SaaS business named LeaseLeads and our web development services. I shifted my focus to Intergrowth, focusing on helping businesses grow through SEO-centric content marketing.
Today, Intergrowth consists of fifty people spanning 15 U.S states and nine countries.
What makes you stand out from the competition?
Every member of our team follows the same framework for helping businesses grow. The result is consistent excellence in everything we produce through a streamlined framework that allows us to drive far more business growth per dollar invested than other agencies.
Why is having a content marketing strategy so important these days?
Content marketing is getting more buy-in from industry-leading brands every day. Smaller brands must be strategic with where they choose to compete. Otherwise, they’ll find themselves struggling to compete with businesses that have more resources at their disposal.
The most successful brands identify the goals of their content marketing efforts and create the types of content that set them up to achieve those goals as effectively as possible.
What are the essential elements of a content marketing plan?
The best content marketing plans focus on producing four types of content. We use the following terms to define those types of content:
- Awareness Content — educational content defined based on the topics your customers seek out on search engines every month. The top 1% of content marketers will see Awareness Content generating the most organic traffic to their site, helping them to connect with potential customers. This content will drive visibility, but few leads/sales, which is where the second type of content comes into play.
- Sales Centric Content — resources designed to increase revenue for your business. In most cases, few of your customers will go to search engines for themes related to your solution. As a result, this content won’t drive much visibility from search engines like Google but will generate significant revenue per reader. We break this content into two subcategories:
- Revenue Creators drive more revenue to your business by showing potential customers how you can help them solve their problems and achieve their goals. Examples of Revenue Creators are case studies about how you helped past customers and “vs” articles that compare your business to a competitor.
- Revenue Preservers create a better experience for existing customers through product training, customer service resources, and more. These resources will help your customer to succeed after they make an initial purchase, and thus make them more likely to continue paying for your product/services (in the case of ongoing service fees), or purchase from you again in the future.
- Thought Leadership Content — resources that showcase your expertise in your industry. These resources are designed to demonstrate your expertise to others in your industry, who will then be more likely to share other content by you with their audience in the future.
- Culture Content — resources that share your team culture and information about employees at your company. Culture content helps build the personal brand of everyone on your team and demonstrates to potential hires why your company is a great place to work.
We dive deeper into those four content strategy components here.
Based on your experience, what are the biggest challenges marketers are facing today?
The biggest challenge today’s marketers face is keeping their audience’s attention in an era of information overload.
A 2009 study from UCSD found the average individual consumes 34 GB of data per day. I’m confident this number has only increased.
Today’s marketers must master the art of:
- Catching their customer’s attention,
- Keeping their attention long enough to deliver their message,
- And convincing their audience that their product/service is the right solution for that customer
- When that customer is ready to make a purchase.
Beyond that, marketers are responsible for finding the data points that reveal which initiatives generated more revenue for the business. Marketers must identify the 3-5 data points that make it easy for their boss to see they’re trending in the right direction while having more granular data points that speak to follow-up questions they receive.
And what marketing trends are going to be key in the next few years?
For those focused on search, we’re in the early stages of seeing a monumental shift in how search engines operate. Google has gone through a significant evolution over the past ten years in its ability to understand the intent of a search phrase and serve pages that help searchers find what they’re looking for.
Google appears to be taking this to an entirely new level with their Multitask Unified Model (MUM) algorithm, which they first announced in 2021. The businesses that succeed in search in the long term will continue to be those that prove to be reliable information sources, provide a great user experience, and make it easy for search engines like Google to understand their website. However, we expect a monumental shift in search engines in the next 5-10 years as MUM continues to develop.
For those outside of search, I suspect we’ll see a similar trend to what we’ve encountered since the rise of social media in the early 2000s: every few years, a new social media platform or community will emerge. Users will flock to the community. Marketers will follow soon after.
Rather than predict the next TikTok, my advice to marketers would be to continue to monitor where your potential customers spend their time, test different types of content to see what message best resonates with that audience, and focus on providing value to those individuals.
Lastly, any exciting news or developments that you would like to share about Intergrowth?
Every day, we are actively working on implementing new business improvements. The most thrilling aspect of our efforts is the imminent introduction of several innovations to our Growth Hub on YouTube in the upcoming months. These innovations will empower our clients with comprehensive visibility into their progress as we collaboratively enhance their business as we grow their business together.
We built this platform to give clients complete transparency into the status of all deliverables we work on together and to make it easier for clients to share feedback on deliverables through every step of the process. We’re rolling out a full analytics dashboard to give even more transparency in our results together.