TalkingLocal – Interview with Neil Patel
In the latest TalkingLocal interview, we are joined by Neil Patel, who is very well-known in the online marketing industry. Neil is a successful & experienced entrepreneur who has founded numerous online services, including Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics, and Quick Sprout.
As an internet marketing guru and analytics expert, Neil is considered one of the world’s leading content and conversion marketers. He was even recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by The Obama Administration.
Not only does he run his own businesses but he has also sold his consulting services to Fortune 500 companies such as Samsung, Amazon, HP, AOL and Microsoft.
We were delighted that Neil found the time to join us, and very excited to learn from someone who clearly knows a thing or two about building and marketing successful web businesses. We wanted to talk to him about a range of subjects, from his own business interests, balancing workload, local business marketing & the future of content marketing.
Key Discussion Points
- How does an entrepreneur filter good ideas from the bad ones?
- What is the secret to excellent content marketing?
- How much time should go into the planning & promotion of website content?
- What will internet marketers be obsessing over in 2 years’ time?
- Key advice for promoting a local business
Keep a look out for more interviews in the TalkingLocal series coming soon. We’ve got some interviews with big personalities from the world of local search & digital marketing lined up – so do stay tuned! You can also keep up to date with the latest TalkingLocal videos on our YouTube playlist.
Myles Anderson: Hello, everyone. Welcome to this installment of TalkingLocal. If you haven’t caught one of our previous TalkingLocal interviews before, I get together with the great and the good, the very well-known and respected people from the online marketing and search industries. I get to ask them questions about their experiences, their insights, and also their motivations. What sort of thing gets them out of bed in the morning?
I’m particularly excited about today’s interview because I’m joined by a man called Neil Patel. I’m sure most of you know who Neil is very well, and he needs little introduction, but I’m going to give you one anyway. Neil is a very experienced and successful digital entrepreneur. He’s founded numerous online services, including Crazy Egg, KISS metrics, and Quick Sprout. He’s a prolific blogger, and I read his blog on Quick Sprout almost every day.
He’s very well-known in the online marketing industry as a pioneering thinker and also an influencer. He’s one of the world’s leading content and conversion marketers, and he’s sold his consulting services at outrageous prices to blue chip companies like Amazon and HP and GM. He was recently recognized as one of the world’s leading digital entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
Now, I really could go on and list even more incredible accolades that Neil has, but I think you probably get the picture. He knows a thing or two about building and marketing successful web businesses. So Neil, very delighted that you could be with us today. I’m in the UK. Neil is in California, where it’s very early. So, Neil, how are you doing today?
Neil Patel: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.
Myles Anderson: That’s great. Like I said, I’m very delighted that you could join us. Now, these interviews usually take about 15, 20 minutes and I’ve got some questions lined up for Neil. So I’m just going to jump into those. So, Neil, you are a very busy man. You have a lot of different projects that you work on. How do you currently divide your time between the different projects and initiatives you have?
Neil Patel: So funny enough, I don’t really manage my time that way. I do have a system, which helps. My time is mainly taken up by meetings, phone calls, and emails. Right? I spend a lot of my time on KISSmetrics. I’m the chief evangelist there. Other than that, Crazy Egg and two other companies have a team that runs it all. So I help out whenever I need to help, but I prefer to spend my time on KISSmetrics. So it’s not too hard to figure out what I’m going to do for the day or where I’m going to spend my time.
Myles Anderson: So it’s interesting to hear that you spend your time managing your communications so much, because that seems to be a thing that people like to move away from and have someone else manage. Do you do that by having teams around you that are specialists in certain areas that you feel you can give sort of full responsibility and autonomy over to?
Neil Patel: That’s correct. So I’m a big believer in hiring people that are smarter than you. That way, you don’t have to micromanage them, and they can do specific tasks extremely well.
Myles Anderson: That’s very sage advice. So you strike me as a man who has thousands of ideas. How do you filter the good ones from the bad ones? And how do you, as a serial entrepreneur, how do you stop yourself getting overexcited by the next big idea, running off and doing that, and not seeing through the existing ideas?
Neil Patel: Yeah, a lot of entrepreneurs have ADD. So they just keep jumping around. Richard Branson said it best – I’m going to butcher his quote, so I do apologize. But it’s something like, “Business ideas are like buses.” Right? The question is which one are you going to hop on. At the end of the day, you got to figure out what you’re really passionate about. As soon as you pick an idea that’s big enough, you just got to stick with it. Sure, there are other great ideas too, but just focus on that one business and call it a day.
In addition to that, when you have an idea, you need to survey people. So ask your specific customers, your target audience, what they think, and then go from there. It doesn’t matter what you think. It matters what your buyer thinks.
Myles Anderson: How much, when you’re looking at a new opportunity, a new idea, how much do you focus on, say, the product and the detail of the functionality and the features, for example, versus the people that you bring in to manage it and run it?
Neil Patel: Well, we focus on everything at the beginning. You got to heavily actively, throughout the whole process, you got to start from the product idea, the functionality, and people if you have capital. You can focus on that right away. If you don’t, you can focus on that once your business starts growing and you have more money.
Myles Anderson: Okay. Great. I want to turn to your kind of marketing experience a bit. You are a prolific content marketer. What do you think is the secret to excellent content marketing?
Neil Patel: Writing better content than other people. I know that sounds cliché. A lot of people just write the bare minimum content. If you can go above and beyond and give great information, so much so that someone can be like, “Oh, I can read this and know exactly what he’s saying, and I can implement this,” you’re good. Most people don’t go that in-depth with their content.
Myles Anderson: When you’re planning out a piece of content you’re going to publish, how much kind of preplanning kind of work goes into it, say, before you start actually writing it?
Neil Patel: Quite a bit, everything from figuring out what I’m going to write about, the main points I’m going to talk about, who my audience is. Once I figure all of that out, I then start writing it. After I write it, I schedule it to be published. Once that’s scheduled, I figure out who I’m going to email that can potentially clean it out, maybe ask them for a link to anyone that’s relevant within the article. I’ll write emails to let them know that I linked to them, so that way, they can share it or link to it from their website, whatever it may be. Right? We put in a lot of time into every single blog post.
Myles Anderson: How much time do you put into the writing side of it, versus the promotion outreach aspect?
Neil Patel: Usually half, 50% promotion, 50% writing. If writing takes me an hour, I’ll promote for an hour. If writing takes me two hours, I’ll promote for two hours.
Myles Anderson: Okay. Great. So yeah, I think a lot of people fall short on the promotion side of it and really kind of focus just on purely on the content and hope it’ll get picked up and shared and pushed out throughout the channels. In terms of the depth of the content, what’s your best practice thinking on the depth of content, the length of the blog, etc.?
Neil Patel: I like writing detailed blog posts. I don’t think there is a minimum number or a maximum number. It’s more so if there’s no fluff, and the information is really useful, then keep writing.
Myles Anderson: You’ve obviously got a long track record in working in online marketing and also SEO as part of that. How much time and effort and almost obsession do you put into SEO and link-building these days? Or do you consider that to be a by-product of producing good content and having a strong brand?
Neil Patel: I see it as a by-product of just producing good content and creating a brand.
Myles Anderson: Okay. I’m just trying to understand. I agree with you, and I think it is a by-product. But I know from your early days, you talked more about SEO. So I want to understand more about the marketing journey that you’ve gone through from when you’ve started off in the industry to where you are now and the headspace, and how that might have changed.
Neil Patel: Yeah, it’s really… You just got to pivot and adapt with the market. Right? What works for now may not work well forever. So you just got to continually adapt and change. So that way, you’re on the forefront of everything.
Myles Anderson: Yeah, again, some extremely wise words. So it’s probably a bit of an understatement to say that you’re a name within the online marketing industry. You sell yourself, the brand “Neil Patel”, as much as you do the services you provide. How important has building your own reputation been in success of the services that you run?
Neil Patel: It’s very helpful, and not only helpful for more revenue, more brand recognition. Right? It gets more customers, more press. The possibilities are endless. We found that indirectly that this is a positive ROI.
Myles Anderson: Do you think there are any sort of dangers in you, as a brand, being either dominant or lying too closely with your service? Say, down the line, you want to sell the service, but your name is so synonymous with the service, and that the value is so wrapped up in you. If you want to extricate yourself from the business, does that make it harder?
Neil Patel: It, of course, does make it harder, but anything is possible.
Myles Anderson: I just want to switch a little bit onto purely local marketing. I’ll give you a scenario. A friend of yours starts a local business, be it a restaurant or an accountancy firm. They come to you, and they say, “Hey, Neil. I’m starting a business. I really want to get it off the ground to a flyer.” What advice would you give them? Say three bits of advice around how best to promote themselves for long-term success. What are three bits of advice that you would give to them?
Neil Patel: So you’re talking about a business that’s a local business, and how can they promote themselves for long-term success?
Myles Anderson: Correct.
Neil Patel: So for local businesses, I would make sure you do whatever you can to promote excellent customer service because that affects Yelp reviews, Citysearch, Google reviews, whatever it may be. It impacts the businesses quite drastically. Two, make sure you’re in all the local directories. So there’s a firm called Getlisted.org. It helps you get listed in all the local places, which is very valuable.
The third thing is go above and beyond, bringing your customers back in. Your customer base is very targeted to whatever location you’re in. So loyalty programs, reward programs, whatever it may be. That’s a great way to get people to keep coming back. The next one would be focus on Facebook. It makes it really easy to do location-based marketing.
Myles Anderson: How about content marketing? Given that a lot of local business owners like running their service, you know, if they’re a salon owner, they love cutting hair and working with customers. They’re less comfortable putting pen to paper and writing a blog post, therefore creating good content to go on the site. How might you encourage someone like that who is maybe less inclined to put their thoughts onto paper and communicate that way? How would you encourage them to see the virtues and benefits of content marketing?
Neil Patel: Yeah, I think for local businesses, there’s so many other things that they can do that’ll produce a good ROI. Content marketing is fine, but it works better when it’s targeting a much broader audience. For local businesses, I would avoid it. You should do it if you have the extra time, but it shouldn’t be one of the first things you do.
Myles Anderson: Okay. That’s interesting. That definitely is not what a lot of people in the local industry preach, but everyone has a unique perspective. In fact, I’d like to kind of almost cast a vision to the future, look in the crystal ball, around digital marketing. We have a tendency to move around, slightly like sheep, around the next big thing, like a flock mentality almost. If you cast your mind forward to, say, two years from now, what do you think we’ll be really concerned with and really obsessing about in two years?
Neil Patel: I think in two years, one thing that we’ll be really focused on as marketers and businesses, is converting visitors to customers. The trend in marketing, is that it’s getting more and more expensive on paid ads, the SEO, the content marketing. It’s all adding up. So if you can’t convert your visitors into customers, you’re not going to get a high ROI. I think there’s going to be a big shift in marketers that are going to go from just being topic experts to also learning psychology and conversion optimization tactics.
Myles Anderson: When you provide your consultant services and you advise businesses, how much of your time or effort is focused on the lead generation, top of the funnel piece of marketing, bringing customers into a site? And how much is focused on actually kind of converting those customers through the different steps? Which one do you personally prefer working on? Which do you find more interesting? And where do you see more value can be created?
Neil Patel: I spend 50/50, so 50% of my time on customer acquisition, 50% on conversion. I enjoy both equally. So for me, I’m passionate about both topics.
Myles Anderson: Okay. Final question, an opportunity for you to plug your services. If a local business owner is watching this or a local digital agency, which of your services do you think would be kind of best for them to utilize? And what value would they get from them?
Neil Patel: Quick Sprout is great if they’re just looking for online marketing advice. Crazy Egg is great if you’re looking to figure out how to improve your conversions. KISSMetrics is more for bigger, broader companies that aren’t localized. Hello Bar is also another good tool because it offers personalization, in which people can end up doing customized messages to the visitors based on their location, what they’ve done before, etc. Then the last one would be Stride. If you’re doing sales or you have a sales team, where you need to manage your leads, Stride is a great tool for CRM that helps you manage all that.
Myles Anderson: Okay. Great. In fact I signed up for Hello Bar yesterday. So I’m looking forward to implementing that, see how that works. So Neil, that’s great. Thank you very much for your time this morning and for sharing your wisdom with our audience. I really appreciate it, and I’m sure they will too. So please, have a good day, wherever you are.
At everyone who’s watching this, thank you very much for watching our TalkingLocal interview with Mr. Neil Patel. I found it particularly enlightening. We have some other TalkingLocal videos coming up very soon, so please look out for those on our YouTube channel and also on our site. Take care. Have a good day, wherever you are. Thank you.