What does it take to quadruple organic website traffic in one year?

For Sales Hacker VP of Marketing Gaetano DiNardi, its all about community-contributed content and a laser-like focus on SEO and keyword strategy. 

In this week’s episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Gaetano shares exactly what he did to achieve dramatic growth in Sales Hacker’s organic traffic, from developing a blog contributor program, to training his content team to optimize blog posts for target keywords, to testing new approaches to content promotion on platforms like LinkedIn. 

Listen to the podcast to hear Gaetano’s tips and get actionable strategies you can use to improve your own website traffic.

Transcript

Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success Podcast. I’m your host Kathleen Booth, and this week my guest is Gaetano DiNardi, who is the VP of Marketing for Sales Hacker. Welcome to the podcast, Gaetano.

Gaetano: Kathleen, thank you very much. Really happy to be here and very grateful to be here. So, thank you.

Kathleen: You have a fascinating background. I was saying this just before we jumped on for this interview, that we have never met before, so I was doing my usual online stalking that I do with my guests before they come on, and I was fascinated to read your story. The fact that you started off in music production and you were working on marketing for fans and you, yourself, are a music creator, you have one of the coolest personal websites I’ve seen. You look like a rock star in the hero image, so maybe we could just start by having you tell the listeners a little bit more about yourself, your background, and what led you to where you are today?

Gaetano: Music has always been a cornerstone piece of my heart and it’s been part of my DNA and identity of who I am as a person, definitely has influenced me as a marketer as well. Long story short, I was in the industry for a while — still kind of am — and actually I have a little side business brewing. I’m building an independent musician community very similar to Sales Hacker, slowly but surely.

Kathleen: Nice.

Gaetano: But before I was a professional marketer, I was a self taught marketer who was teaching myself the ways of how to cut through the clutter, how to get an audience to follow me and be engaged with what I do. It’s the same kind of things that new companies and start-ups go through when they’re a new brand that nobody knows about yet.

Through my time of producing records for myself and doing marketing for bands, I got to work with cool artists like Fat Joe and all of these rappers and stuff, and I realized I really need to differentiate myself from all of the other noise out there. So I started doing online content through videos, articles as well. I started doing tear downs of music industry companies that weren’t doing ethical things, taking advantage of musicians who didn’t know any better. I got tired of that grind, it was really, really … I felt like I needed to do something more.

I fell in love with search engine optimization (SEO), just by doing content on my own site I realized like, “Wow, I’m getting a lot of traffic to my site.” I didn’t even notice, and I was just teaching myself Google Analytics and all this fun stuff.

Then I was like, “You know what? Just let me try my shot at SEO professionally. Let me try to get a job somewhere doing SEO so I can take myself to the next level,” and I had crossed paths with this guy Mike King, who is one of the most well known and well respected SEOs in the world, and he also used to be an independent touring rapper, so he used to go to Europe and he used to do all these things. I’m like, “Ah, this is perfect! This guy has all the same common interests as me and I think he would have a lot of empathy for where I’m at in my career right now.” So I reached out to him and he said, “Look, if you want to work for me I’m starting a new company right now. I need you to present the marketing strategy behind your music. That’s going to be your test.”

So I did it, and I passed the test. I was the second person hired at that company. By the time I left there was about 15 people. Then I went on to Pipedrive to do SEO there and content for about a year and a half. I did some side consulting after that with a couple of eCommerce businesses, and then I made my way over to Sales Hacker, and the rest is history from there.

Kathleen: It’s such a crazy story because what are the odds that two guys who come from that kind of a music background both wind up in marketing and SEO, and then both wind up working together? You both have to be total unicorns, and you just found the unicorn club.

Gaetano: Oh yeah. The stars had definitely aligned. It was totally a timing thing, and yeah, I still pay a lot of respect back to that part of my career, part of my journey, because without that I probably would not be where I’m at today. So I still have respect and a lot of love for that time of my life. It was challenging, but it was worth it.

Kathleen: That’s cool. Speaking of Sales Hacker, I’d love for you to tell the listeners a little bit more about what it is, because it is a community, and I think a lot of the people who listen to this podcast probably ought to be members of it. They certainly, I’m sure, would fit your target audience. So tell us a little bit more about what the community is, and what the intent is, and who the audience is.

Gaetano: We started off as an events business. This was before I was part of the team. Then we started making this pivot toward digital, because we realized that it kind of sucks if people can only meet each other and be engaged with each other in person at these conferences. People are busy. So now we’re at the point where we’re scaling down conferences a little bit. We still do two major conferences a year. We do one mega US conference in San Francisco, that’s called the Revenue Summit, and that’s a sales and marketing alignment focused conference around B2B tech.

We also have Sales Hacker London. Last year was our first year of doing it. This year we’re doing it again and it’s more hardcore sales driven. The way we do it in London is we position it as, “Look, you guys have never really had an event like this here,” and it drew a lot of hype. We had an amazing turnout last year, so we’re looking forward to doing it again.

But aside from the conference stuff, we really are an online digital platform. We do webinars, eBooks, we do four tactical educational blog articles a week from various contributors in the industry, whether it be a VP of sales at a SaaS company, to your account executive who is experimenting with new things and tactics in the field and wants to report their findings. 

We have a contributor network as well. So if you want to become a contributor you can apply to that, and then we’ll cherry pick you out whenever we need somebody to deliver a talk at a conference on sales operations. We look in our database and ask, “All right, who’s really good at sales ops?” And then we’ll get them to get involved in webinars, and conferences, and all these things.

Then the last thing that we do is this thing called a virtual event, or a virtual conference, where we do a conference, but online, and we make it really easy for people to sign up. We try to make it an all day thing that’s very relevant to whatever your interests are. We try to do two tracks — like if we do sales development we’ll usually do something for the outbound reps, and then the inbound reps, and stuff like that. So we really try to cater content journeys to the various audiences that we serve.

Kathleen: That’s great. I think somebody is brilliant in how they select conference locations, because the fact that you guys have your two big events in San Francisco and London is pretty awesome. Those are two of my favorite cities.

Gaetano: Well, we kind of have to do San Francisco because all of our partners are there. We have a partnership program where we work with various different SaaS companies for various different things. If you’re a SaaS company that needs thought leadership for your CEO, for example, we give a really nice unbiased platform for your CEO to get up in front of our audience and really flex that thought leadership muscle. But even if you need something like demand generation or leads, we do that through the webinars. We help get you targeted leads. It depends on who you’re trying to reach, and we can get pretty narrow in terms of who you’re trying to reach and generate leads for.

Kathleen: Who are the members of the community?

Gaetano: The way that I break this down is we serve actually three different types of people. The first type of people that we serve would be just the consumers, the audience, and the audience who consumes the content. That would be demand generation marketers, sales development representatives, account executives, sales managers, sales leadership, marketing leadership, heads of growth, VPs of sales, those types of people.

The second audience that we serve are the actual contributors — the people who want to write blog articles with us, get their name out there, start developing their own thought leadership, that sort of thing.

Then the third category of people we serve are the actual brands that want to partner with us and work with us. So they would be considered our customer, if you want to call it that. That’s the way we look at it. Customers, contributors, and consumers of content.

Kathleen: Great. Where does the community live? Is it just on your website? Do you have any owned properties, or presence on other channels where the community exchanges information, ideas, discussion?

Gaetano: This is one thing we’ve been struggling with. We’ve been doing it through our LinkedIn group. Now the problem with the LinkedIn group is that — I’ll just be straight up honest with you — it’s become nothing but a spam factory as of late, and it’s really, really difficult to change that. Now, we’ve been talking with the head of product at LinkedIn on this because we are their prototype master user of this, because we’ve been power users so to speak, and now we’re helping them bring it back to the forefront. Now you’re going to start seeing things like group notifications in the newsfeed, because there’s so much hype going on in the newsfeed and stuff. But we’ve pretty much just relied on the LinkedIn group, and we were really thinking like, “Damn, should we migrate this to Slack, or Facebook, or something like that?” But we have so many people in this LinkedIn group now, almost 12,000.

Kathleen: Wow.

Gaetano: We have a database in our Active Campaign account of 80,000. We have almost 30,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook has been non-existent for us, but it’s really just been about LinkedIn. We’ve been struggling to figure out if we should move this to Slack or something, because the promise of LinkedIn groups coming back to the forefront and being powerful and mighty again has been the dream that we’ve been holding out for.

We’re hoping that this year is the year where LinkedIn delivers on their promise of making groups great again, but who knows when or how that will happen? So right now we’re in limbo, but most people just engage with us at our conferences, through LinkedIn, and through our blog comments. They hit us up through Twitter and other social media platforms, so it’s a little bit of everywhere, but we’re hoping that LinkedIn groups will be that centralized place where we can continue building that true community.

Kathleen: Yeah, the issue of LinkedIn groups is so interesting, because I’ve been in this business for more years than I would like to admit, and there was definitely a time where LinkedIn groups were probably the top generator of traffic and leads for some of my clients, especially clients that maybe had a lower profile and were looking to expand brand awareness. They could post really good content to groups and drive traffic back to their site. But you’re right, as marketers do with so many things, they ruined that by just spamming groups so much.

It’s interesting to hear you talk about this because I’ve observed that in the last probably two to three years there’s been this gradual withering away of groups, and most groups are wastelands of useless content. But I’ve heard exactly what you’re saying. I’ve heard a lot of rumors and buzz about LinkedIn really renewing their focus on this, so I’m super curious to see what they’re going to come out with. I feel like they need to make a red hat that says, “Make groups great again,” as you said, but no, I’m really, really curious to see what’s going to happen, because I think the potential is really there, it’s just that right now it’s underutilized.

Gaetano: Exactly. Yeah, that’s exactly it. The other thing we’re a little scared of too is, imagine if we did make the commitment to like, “Yeah, let’s move this all to Slack. Let’s make a Slack group.” I’m a big fan and follower of FlipMyFunnel. I heard you guys talking on the podcast about this very same thing, and they did make a move to Slack, and it’s working out great for them and that’s awesome, I love that. But our worry is that if we decide to make a migration to a Slack group, then what happens when LinkedIn does make their groups great? Then we’ve just wasted time and effort and it will be a deflating sort of experience.

So, we’re going to give them a little bit more time, but if this time around by next year it’s still up in the air, then we might have to pull the trigger on something.

Kathleen: It’s a really interesting question, because we have a private Facebook group that now has close to 3,000 people in it and I’m mentally struggling with the same question, especially given everything that’s happened with Facebook recently. I don’t remember who it was. I was interviewing somebody, maybe it was Ian Cleary at RazorSocial who said something that made my blood run cold, which was that Facebook is going to start to try to monetize groups like they’ve done with the newsfeed, and your group updates won’t show up as frequently. So in my head I asked myself the same question, “Should we move our group to Slack?” But just like you’re struggling with, these are very fragile balances that you have to strike, and you can’t ask your audience to move too many times, and you certainly can’t ask them to split their attention between two different places. It’s a scary prospect, I’m right there with you. Maybe you and I can be each other’s support group as we navigate this process?

Gaetano: Exactly. I’m curious, how has Facebook groups been working for you? Because for us, we’re seeing a lot of clutter in the Facebook group arena in sales tech, there’s a lot of them out there, and we figured that since we already have leverage in the LinkedIn side, we’ve been building that for years, we weren’t going to make as much of an investment into Facebook groups, but I’m curious to know how it’s been working for you?

Kathleen: Yeah, it’s been good. Our Facebook group is called IMPACT Elite, and anyone can ask to join. We actually have a full time person on our team, Stephanie, who’s amazing — shout out to Stephanie — who is our director of audience engagement and community. Her job is to screen everybody who asks to join Elite, and she has three questions she makes them answer as a part of the process. You don’t have to write a term paper, but we want to see that you’re coming in for the right reasons.

I think she does a really nice job of screening applicants and that really helps to keep the quality level up, and then, once they get into the group, she’s developed a nice set of community guidelines about what you can and cannot post. She’s the nicest person on the planet, but she’s also not at all hesitant to call people out when they cross the line, and to kick people out if they do it more than once. I think that’s really the key to success with groups.

Gaetano: Definitely. I agree with that. You definitely need someone on it, moderating and making sure that quality is uphill. That’s the difference maker when it comes to these communities and groups. 

Kathleen: Hopefully the platform owners don’t screw us over.

Gaetano: Exactly. There’s this concept in marketing of owned and earned media and all this stuff, and I really love the fact that Sales Hacker focuses more on the properties that we own, because like you said, if something were to happen with Facebook someday, they make you pay to play or something like that, then a lot of effort is wasted in a lot of ways.

Kathleen: Yeah, definitely. Well, I could go on for hours, days about this, because it’s pretty much what I spend my time worrying about too, but you have a really interesting story that I want to make sure we share, which is that Sales Hacker last year saw a tremendous growth in its website traffic, and that was achieved almost entirely through community generated content. So maybe you could talk a little bit more, give us the background on that, set the stage?

Gaetano: Yeah, this is a big stage to set. So basically, if you go to our blog, you’ll see all of these different various contributors, and before I was at Sales Hacker we still had that, but we just had a blog editor running content. Blog editors who don’t have experience optimizing content for search are just going to really make it look nice editorially. They’ll maybe structure it, but they don’t know how to align topics and concepts back to keywords that people are actually searching for. The problem with that is you just have this endless hamster wheel of content on your site, and you’ll maybe hit something once in a while — by luck you’ll hit something that can rank — but for the most part you’re not going to get that.

When I took it over, I’m like, “Wow, there’s so much gold in the reservoir of content out here. All I need to do is go back into the old articles, align them back to the target keywords that people are actually searching for for this concept, structure the metadata in a way that’s going to work, do a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL, distribute it and amplify it through our normal content promotion channels, and we can see some serious buzz with just the articles that are already there.

Then, going forward, having a little bit of an SEO strategy around, “Okay, let’s say practitioner XYZ wants to submit a cold calling article. Well, we’re not going to go for the keyword ‘cold calling,’ because we know it’s going to be too difficult. We’re going to go for a longer tail variation of that that is more achievable because it’s less difficult.”

We’ll use really basic stuff too. We have SEO tools that we use like Moz and Ahrefs and all of this stuff, but a really quick and dirty way to do stuff is just to check auto suggests, and then compare the keyword difficulty metrics in Moz, or Ahrefs, or whatever, to see like, “All right, how many links will we need to rank for this? How comprehensive does that content need to be?”

So, long story short, every single piece that goes out on Sales Hacker is run through a pretty rigorous SEO process now where we know that the writers are not going to be able to follow an SEO brief, we’re not going say, “Write these keywords in your article.” It’d be too hard. They’re not going to know how to do it, but we tell them, “Look, we have editorial discretionary command over the final say, so if we need to tweak your intro to incorporate a certain key phrase or a variation of key phrase, if we need to tweak your title, we have the discretion to do that because it’s going to go further, it’s going be optimized for search. It’s going to be better for you, better for us, and it’s just going to be more clear.”

SEO content that ranks well tends to be very, very cleanly formatted, easily digestible, and it’s just adopting things to the way that consumers really want to consume content at the end of the day. Because sales writers, sorry to tell you, they like to ramble and rant and brain dump, and it’s our job to clean it up, make it easy to digest, and it’s just a win-win for everyone. That’s been the whole game.

Kathleen: Do you have an actual documented process, or checklist? Or something that you run these contributed posts through?

Gaetano: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. We do have an on-page optimization master checklist that lives in our server. We have our main content development, project management tool, if you want to call it that, and every post has to pass through this checklist criteria. For example, if we want to optimize for the keyword ‘cold calling tips,’ we will have to first search Google to see what is out there and what do people want when they search that. Do they want a list? Do they want a comparison table of some sort? Is it video?

You have to do what they call a SERP Analysis, a Search Engine Result Page Analysis, to see what’s already out there, and then you have to make sure that you’re doing content that’s even better than what’s out there.

The one thing that I always see is lists. 10 ways to do this, eight ways to do that. If you build an article that says only five ways to do this, users will automatically perceive your content as not as comprehensive and it won’t rank. That’s one of the things we always do, if we see, oh, HubSpot did 10 ways to do this, we’ve got to come out with 20 ways.

Kathleen: Double it.

Gaetano: Double it, damn it. Yeah, and then another little title tag hack we always do, is we do “in 2018.” There is this concept in SEO of a query deserves freshness, so Google tends to favor fresh content. If we see that we’re being outranked by HubSpot or Salesforce because they have a massive domain, we can still get away without ranking them in some cases if they have an article from 2014. We just say, “Look, we’re making a piece of content that’s not only more comprehensive, but we’re using that ‘in 2018’ in the title tag to show users and Google that it’s fresh,” and it will tend to outrank the giants.

Kathleen: Okay, my next question is when 2019 comes along, are you updating that post and then changing it to ‘in 2019’ and doing a re-direct?

Gaetano: You have to. Yes, yes. You have to, you have to. We have a recurring task in our master project management tool. January 1st of 2019, we did this last year in 2018, we keep track of every title tag that has 2018 in it, go back and put 2019. Refresh it.

Kathleen: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Wow, that’s really cool. Who is responsible for doing all of this?

Gaetano: I have a team that I delegate these tasks out to. Yeah, we have a phenomenal content marketing manager Alena. She’s new to the team, I’ve been training her up for the past couple months and she’s been a fast learner and doing really well. We also have a content coordinator Joan, who does a lot of these tasks for us as well. We do have a content team that works on this stuff.

Kathleen: Are they both trained in SEO, as well as true editorial skills?

Gaetano: Now they are, yes, because that’s my background, but before this they weren’t. When hiring, I like people who are green, because I can shape them and mold them and teach them good habits from the beginning. What I find with experienced people sometimes is that they’re difficult to change. They may have bad habits, or they may have biases or whatever that are difficult to change, but if I mold them to my process, I know my process works, so I want people that I can show my process, they can take it, they can internalize it, they can inherit it, they can run with it full speed and ultimately crush it. That’s what I want.

Kathleen: How long does it take you to get somebody up to speed do you think?

Gaetano: I would say after six months they’re doing pretty good. After a year they’re going to be flying, yup.

Kathleen: That’s great. The other thing I’m really curious about is the other side of this equation, which is your contributors. Here at IMPACT we’re actually launching a contributor program, and so out of pure self interest I’m curious to know how you vet your contributors? When somebody comes to you and says, “I’d love to write for your blog,” what does that process look like? What are you looking for? Then, do you have any set of expectations that you hold them to in terms of either publishing frequency, or other requirements you have for contributors?

Gaetano: Yeah, this was actually a massive problem for us. The more noise you make on LinkedIn, the more excitement and hype that’s around your brand, the more people are going to want to work with you and contribute. It got to the point where Max and I, and various team members, were getting requests every day, “How do I contribute? How do I speak at your conference? How do I write a blog?” Too much, like we couldn’t keep up. We had to figure out a system to deal with this, because it’s a good problem to have at the end of the day, but you just don’t have time to get back to every single person. You just don’t have time … it’s just tough. We’re trying to run a company here too.

We came up with this contributor page — contributor network application page — where we had Max make a video explaining what exactly it is, and there’s a link to a form that you have to fill out. We had various things in that form that we ask that help us identify immediately who is going to be good and who is not going to be good. We asked for links to past work, we ask for links to things that you may have written, what your current job title is, how many years of experience you have, your level of seniority, what it is that you actually do, why you think you would be a good fit. Links to conferences you may have spoken at, webinars you may have given, anything that can help us create a profile for you. Then we segment by your specialty. We have a checklist of, what are you great at? Mastery level experience? Sales operations? Demand generation marketing? XYZ, ABC?

Then we have this database that has all of this information in a massive spreadsheet for us and we just sort and filter by various things. If we want somebody who’s super experienced to deliver a talk on sales enablement, we’ll be able to find that within two seconds, but then we also creep their LinkedIn and do the online stalking as you so mentioned earlier in this chat, but that’s pretty much the process for us.

Kathleen: Now, when somebody is accepted into your contributor program, do you have any kind of a requirement, like you have to publish with a certain frequency? Or is it just like, “Hit us up when you have something to say?” How does that work?

Gaetano: Yeah, usually if it’s somebody we’ve never worked with before, it’s like a trial. If the process went well, if our audience has reacted to it in a good way, it’s gotten a certain number of shares, a certain number of page views in a month or whatever, like we’ll know, “All right, wow, this is a really, really good article, we’ve got to work with this person again.”

If it’s something that didn’t maybe perform so well we try to take into consideration, “All right, well, why? Was it not promoted as well? Was it an obscure topic that we were just experimenting with?” But to answer your point of will we invite that person back, it depends. I think we don’t set them to an expectation of like, “Yes, now you have to be a quarterly contributor.” It’s more so along the lines of, “Look, whenever you have something really interesting to say, or something valuable, then we want it.”

But we definitely have more than enough. Like honestly, I could shut content down right now and we would have enough to take us through to 2019. We have probably hundreds of drafts, ideas, old posts that we could update, like I could shut it all off tomorrow and be fine. It’s a good problem to have at the end of the day.

Kathleen: What we first started talking about was that you had tremendous traffic growth last year and you’ve now walked us through this process you used, which had to do with really looking back and optimizing the content for search engines, and working closely with contributors to build upon the content they’re creating and make it more search engine friendly. What was your traffic like before you started that, and what is it like now?

Gaetano: Oh yeah. When I first took it over in January 2017 I think we were getting around 40,000 visitors a month to the site. Right now we’re getting about 160,000 visitors to the site, which is pretty nice, and the bulk of that came from organic. When I first took it over, organic was around 15,000 visitors a month, and now we’re around 90,000 visitors a month, just from organic search.

The rest of the channels that do pretty well for us are direct — so people that just type our names in the browser, SalesHacker.com, or Sales Hacker. Then social media does pretty well for us, LinkedIn being the biggest driver for sure. We have a cute little content promotion tactic that we do on LinkedIn that you may or may not be familiar with. Be happy to share that with you.

Kathleen: Oh yeah, I want to hear about it.

Gaetano: We don’t do any paid search, no PPC, not a relevant channel for us. The other thing that works pretty well is email marketing, obviously. When you have a big list, you can send a dedicated email out for something and it moves mountains for us. That’s another thing that we could talk about too, but yeah, if you want to learn about the LinkedIn tactic, I can break it down.

Kathleen: Oh yeah, I’m not letting you off this podcast without you telling me about that.

Gaetano: All right. I’m sure that you’ve seen a transformation on LinkedIn in the newsfeed from people just straight up sharing links, to articles, to people breaking down stories or key takeaways of articles. I like the fact that you have to be concise, you only have 1,300 characters to tell a good story, or break down an article. Because if you think about the way people consume content now anyway, and this makes sense even when I’m optimizing content on the blog for SEO, there’s no more big blocks of paragraph text, big blocks of paragraph texts like you might see in the New York Times articles, like it’s different.

With us, it’s like subheader, couple lines, space, couple lines, space, image, couple more lines, subheader again, and that is a result of the age of digital distraction. We don’t have time to read line, by line, by line, we just need to pick out what we want. So the LinkedIn content is exactly that. It’s a story that’s separated by a couple of sentences per line, and at the end we say, “Check out the link in the first comment.” Some people hate that because you have to sort when the comments get too long. Sometimes I get 90 comments on something-

Kathleen: But that’s a good problem to have if you’re getting 90 comments.

Gaetano: It’s a good problem to have. Now I usually write really controversial stuff on LinkedIn, like, “Why do marketers suck?” Or, “Why do-“

Kathleen: We do not.

Gaetano: Right? But something I did recently was like, “Worst marketing strategy ever. CRM company that only talks about CRM,” and then I went down a huge list in a rant of all the things that I see that annoy me. I drop a link into the first comment of like, “Here’s how you do it right,” and then we had an article on B2B marketing strategies for lead generation, or something like that.

Kathleen: That’s great, yeah.

Gaetano: Yeah, we UTM tag it so we can see how many clicks and what kind of engagement we get from that, and it’s usually pretty good. In a week we could probably get 1,000 and 2,000 clicks, which is not bad because a lot of these stories and rants they tend to go semi-viral. I’ve gotten 100,000 views on some of these things in two days, and now I’m averaging 30 to 40,000 views every couple days. Every time I do one of these they just hit, so I don’t see any reason I should slow it down, so I’m going to keep it going.

Kathleen: Now I have to go back and stalk your LinkedIn profile for a second time armed with this information so that I can pay better attention to exactly how you’re doing this.

Gaetano: Yeah, yeah. You’ll get the formula, you’ll see it. We did a full webinar on it actually, on how salespeople can create viral content on LinkedIn through storytelling and being a little bit different in their approach to sharing content.

Kathleen: That’s great. I love that. I think LinkedIn has so much potential. I did an interview recently with Dave Gerhardt from Drift, and he talked about how they hacked LinkedIn and basically — not literally hacked, but they did this thing where in one day they had everybody on their team upload a video of themselves. Not the same video. Every individual person made a video to announce their new email product and posted it on LinkedIn. He said it was the highest traffic day they’ve ever had, and so I think with LinkedIn the key is definitely all about getting creative and thinking outside of the box, just like you talked about now — just like Dave talked about in our interview –and I think there’s a lot more potential there than most marketers are realizing.

Gaetano: Oh yeah. For sure, for sure. I agree with you 100% about the creativity part and stepping outside of the box. There’s a reason why if you write an article on LinkedIn Pulse, that it doesn’t get as far as the newsfeed updates go. It’s just the nature of LinkedIn, the nature of the beast. People want fast, quick hit, bite sized, consumable, pieces of little tidbits of content.

To your point with Drift too, we did a webinar series with Drift about two weeks ago, and we did something very similar to that. We did a LinkedIn takeover, where we had Dave on Max’s account. “Hey, I’m taking over Max’s account here,” and then we did that too with our head of partnerships. It got a lot of buzz and traction and we ended up getting almost 2,000 signups for that webinar. We normally get 1,000 or 1,500, but that little extra boost is definitely the difference maker that you get from LinkedIn promotions. It’s great.

Kathleen: Yeah, that’s a great idea. I love that example. Well, so many good tips here, and if somebody is interested in getting more involved in the community and reading your content, or potentially contributing, where should they go online?

Gaetano: We have a contributor page, so go to SalesHacker.com. You can go to our contact page from there and then there’s a link to our contributor application page right there. You can check that out and apply and feel free to get involved through that. If you’re feeling really ambitious and you have a good outreach plan, and you know how to stroke my ego a little bit, feel free to get up in my DMs and hit me up on LinkedIn if you want to.

Kathleen: Nice. Now, I can’t let you go without asking you the two questions I ask all of my guests. The first one is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?

Gaetano: Yeah, there’s so many people that I look up to. Not in any particular order, I’ll just run through a list of companies and people that I really like that I study and follow. Neil Patel. Brian Dean from Backlink.io, I think he’s the best in the game when it comes to YouTube SEO and backlinking strategies. A big fan of Eric Siu, an awesome content marketer. I would say content marketing extraordinaire. That guy is on another level, he’s an animal.

Kathleen: Yeah, he’s been on the podcast too. He’s great.

Gaetano: Oh yeah, awesome. Yeah, he’s great. Steli Efti from Close.io — he’s one of the rare examples of someone in a sales organization who is a brilliant, brilliant marketer. Their SEO and inbound is on point, all their content is … it makes me jealous sometimes when I see their stuff. I’m like, “Damn, they’re good.”

Then just some of the giants that we face in the sales content world. InsightSquared.com — really good SEO, really good inbound. HubSpot, obviously giant. Salesforce.com, giants. Then TheBalance.com. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them or seen them, but they have so much content, and they just tend to rank really well because their content’s super good, and they have really good inbound. 

Kathleen: Oh, there’s so many websites now that I have to go check out after this. So you’re somebody who is very deeply entrenched in the world of digital marketing, how do you stay educated? How do you keep on the cutting edge?

Gaetano: Yeah, it’s very tempting, I think, to want to subscribe to everything, and read everything, and be everywhere, but there’s only a few things that really keep me in the loop of what’s going on. I would say follow Rand Fishkin on Twitter, he’s somebody I look up to and admire a lot. I check out this guy Dan Shure, he has a podcast called Evolving SEO, I think that is the best SEO podcast out there. I’m a big fan of obviously the Inbound Success Podcast. Google Webmaster’s Blog, I subscribe to that because you’ve got to be in the know of what’s the latest and greatest within the world of Google, and that’s a must. Then the other websites and blogs that I subscribe to are Ahrefs, Search Engine Land, ConversionXL if you want to learn how to be a really good landing page optimizer. Conversion optimization science, I love that blog for that, and of course Growth Hackers, they have just a great round up of interesting experiments and growth driven marketing in inbound and all that fun stuff. That’s probably my shortlist there.

Kathleen: Lots of good stuff there. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Gaetano: Yeah, thank you.

Kathleen: Well, I’ve really enjoyed this, and I’m sure people are going to have questions, so I will put links in the show notes for the Sales Hacker website and for your LinkedIn, since you’ve so graciously offered to allow people to DM you there. I’m also going to put a link in to your personal website, because it is that cool.

Gaetano: Aw, thanks.

Kathleen: If you do go visit that website you guys, you have to listen to some of the music tracks that he’s got on there because it’s really neat.

Gaetano: Thanks! Yeah, feel free to check that out. If you go to my videos page you’ll see a video I did in the studio with one of the top guys that’s produced for Chris Brown. We had a video on a channel called Machine Masters that have a half million views and still going strong. So that’s been a cool little driver of amplification from what I do in the music world, so free to check that out.

Kathleen: That’s awesome. All right, well that’s it for this week, thank you so much for joining me. If you are listening and you liked what you heard, please consider giving the podcast a review on iTunes, Stitcher, or the platform of your choice and if you know somebody doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at workmommywork because I would love to interview them.

Thanks Gaetano.

Gaetano: Awesome, thanks Kathleen.

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