eCommerce Podcast

Our podcast is raw, honest and damn right insightful, as we chat to some of the best minds in eCommerce

Hosted by Richard Hill

Ep 82:
Greg Zakowicz:
How to Develop a Content Strategy That Will Skyrocket Your Brand Awareness

It’s safe to say that Greg is a whiz when it comes to creating winning content strategies that not only develop brand awareness but ultimately drive more sales. 

We know a lot of businesses (far too many, in fact) leave content creation at the bottom of their pile of things to do because realistically it takes a lot of time and the results can be difficult to measure. 

However, we’re here to break it to you that it’s not all pretty pictures and fancy words – content is absolutely key to developing a strong online presence and standing out from your competitors.

From sharing content ideas that have had proven success, to finding trending content that’ll keep you on top of your game, listen in as Greg shares his best tips for developing an unstoppable content strategy for your brand! 

eCom@One Presents:

Greg Zakowicz

Greg is the Director of Content at Omnisend, an eCommerce-tailored email & SMS marketing automation platform, that helps businesses increase their sales without increasing their workload.

Greg’s journey into eCommerce started when he went into radio in college, and gradually navigated his way into marketing. He’s now been in the eCommerce and email marketing space for over 15 years. 

In this episode, Greg discusses all things content marketing – from developing content ideas to tracking their success. Content marketing is often overlooked by many eCommerce businesses due to being perceived as a bonus extension to their brand. However with more content being consumed than ever before through a multitude of platforms, content marketing has become absolutely key for developing brand awareness, as well as maintaining control of your brand’s online reputation.

If you want to shape up your brand’s content, then join us as Greg gives practical advice on how to develop a winning content strategy, how to decide which channels are worth your time and how to identify content trends in your industry. 

Topics Covered:

01:34 – How Greg found his passion for content writing

04:33 – How to use content marketing as an eCommerce store?

06:29 – Why should eCommerce stores have a content strategy?

12:20 – Creating and delivering an effective content strategy

18:57 – Choosing the right channels for your brand

22:56 – Key metrics to gauge the success of your content strategy

30:46 – The brands that are currently creating the best content

35:29 – Tools and resources to catch upcoming trends

41:40 – The best way to plan your content for the next 18 months

43:29 – Book recommendation 

 

Richard Hill:
Hi there, I'm Richard Hill, the host of eCom@One, welcome to our 82nd episode. In this episode I speak with Greg Zakowicz, director of content at Omnisend. This is a cracker of an episode. Greg has a wealth of knowledge on the actual frontline identifying capturing opportunities to help companies achieve their goals. In this episode we talk all things content marketing, those ideation sessions that needs to be done to create your store's content strategy. Channels, which channels to spend your time on, the latest trends and the future of content. This one might surprise you. If you enjoy this episode, please make sure you subscribe so you're always the first to know when an episode is released. Now, let's head over to this fantastic episode.

Richard Hill:
This episode is brought to you by eComOne, eCommerce marketing agency. eComOne works purely with eCommerce stores scaling their Google shopping, SEO, Google Search, and Facebook ads through a proven performance-driven approach. Go to ecomone.com/resources for a host of amazing resources to grow your paid and organic channels.

Richard Hill:
And how are you doing, Greg?

Greg Zakowicz:
I'm doing well, Richard, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Richard Hill:
I am pretty damn good to be fair. I think we've got a bit of a time difference. We didn't check that. I always like to get a bit of a feel, but I think we're sitting at about 4:00 PM here in the UK, what are you on at the moment?

Greg Zakowicz:
I'm East Coast U.S. So 11:00 AM, which is nice. And I'm located in North Carolina. So Durham, North Carolina.

Richard Hill:
Brilliant. So you're just getting well into the day, and obviously what a treat for you, being on the eCom@One show.

Greg Zakowicz:
I know, right? So it's all downhill from here.

Richard Hill:
Okay. So I'm looking forward to this one. I think it would be good to give our listeners a bit of insight in how you sort of got into content writing and content specifically, and how you found your passion for writing?

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah, yeah, no problem. So mine has been, I could go on for probably an hour on this. It's been, I'll try to pare it down for you. It's been a long and twisted world. So I went from going to college for radio and then have navigated myself into the marketing world, so that's happened over time. But I've been in the eCommerce email marketing type space for, God over 15 years now. So it's been a long time. And if you think about email marketing 15 years ago, and you're like, "Oh man." And then through either practitioner for email marketing, through consulting, and then through working for an email provider, just naturally moved from the consulting side, the advice strategy side into the actual B2B marketing side of things, so getting into content.

Greg Zakowicz:
And it just became more of a natural evolution. And I think the biggest crux of it was really when I was doing consulting, advising eCommerce brands on how to improve their email marketing and SMS programs. I was always glued to trends of the industry and what was happening from here, and then what does that actually mean for brands, both now six months, 12 months and 24 months out, things like that. And that really leads you down to kind of like this analyst side and just natural side to, okay, how does that impact an actual organization versus just say an individual eCommerce brand, right? Because you've got to also follow those same trends, especially if you're working for an email provider like I was. You've got to follow the trends down the road and then because your clients are right in the middle of those things and it was just a natural evolution for me.

Greg Zakowicz:
So I got a lot of the more speaking of conferences and things like that where you start to interact a little bit more and you start to pick up those content side of things. And that's naturally how I fell into it. I will say the crux of it, if you boil it down is, as opposed to content writing and the love of writing, which I never thought I would be any sort of writer ever in my life. I think it's more to conversations and it's more into insights and trying to engage in conversations that spark people's ideas and spark people's minds and sparked people's conversations with one another. And ultimately that's what content marketing boils down to, it's conversations at what you do at it. So it was kind of a back way, of like a back entrance way for me to get into it, but that's kind of how I got there.

Richard Hill:
It's interesting one is next thing. We talk a lot on the podcast about data and using GA and ads and add this and add that. And ROAS and revenues from paid ads and stuff, but obviously content marketing, huge part of eCommerce marketing. And I think it's one, I think if I'm honest, when we talk to business owners, particularly, it's one they're always a bit shy of. They're sort of more the numbers guys, unless they're creative when it comes to creating the content. So, I mean, in its simplest form, if you're speaking now to that sort of typical, I don't know if typical is difficult, but typically eCommerce store owners are very much focused on the commercial, is more of a numbers guy than the creating person. What would you say to them about what is content marketing for an eCommerce store, what sort of things should they be thinking about?

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah, and I think the way you frame that, Richard is a really good one, because it's, you could ask 20 people what content marketing is. You're probably going to get 20 different answers. Because it's going to be very specific to their type of business. Are they an eCommerce business? Are they a B2B business? Are they e-services company? There's a lot of different things in there. I think if you boil it down, at the end of the day I think what you're looking at is, is it content that achieves a desired goal while reinforcing your brand? And then you can apply that to whatever your brand is of your selling. If you're a D2C brands selling shoes, what does that content look like? Or if you were an email provider, what does that content look like for you? I think there's different ways.

Greg Zakowicz:
So, again, I think reinforcing the brand is really the important part here. So we'll get into probably some specifics and examples of what that looks like for D2C or eCommerce brands today, but are you going to help achieve, will that content help you achieve brand visibility? It could be a check box right there. Is it assisting with a current or would-be customer? Well, that's a checkbox right there. And then whatever that content you produce that meets that, that's what it is at that point.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah, interesting. Love it. So in its simplest forms then I think, why should a business have a content marketing strategy? I think obviously again, there's multiple answers for that, but I think you're speaking right to that eComm store owner that's maybe shying away from that investment in content in its different forms, but why, why should they really be focused on a strategy for that content and their store?

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah. Well, I think we've been seeing this growing trend in the eComm space for some years now about the need for eCommerce brands to invest in a content marketing strategy. And again, that can mean a lot of different things. It can mean a lot of content. It can be just some content that serves very specific needs based on the products we sell. I think at the end of the day there's more channels than ever. And every day there's a new channel. It goes from, I mean, I was on the front store way back when it wasn't really a marketing thing, but then MySpace start getting in and Facebook really became this dominant social channel, but then Twitter. And now we have Snap and we've got TikTok. We have all these different channels, and really it's become a really crowded space.

Greg Zakowicz:
So, Brian's are always sitting there, "Well, do I need to be on this channel? Do I need to be on this channel?" And really, if you're doing any sort of social media, that is content marketing, it's just how you frame that. So I think for D2C brands looking at, I don't really do content marketing. If you're doing social, you're doing content marketing. If you're collecting product reviews, you're doing content marketing. These are all pieces of it. But I think ultimately what all those things do is they create a public impression of your brand. So if people are complaining to you on Instagram or Twitter and you're responding, that is a public impression of your brand. So can you control that narrative? TikTok videos same thing, might be more positive on TikTok then like yelling into customer servers like they do on Twitter, but these are all things here.

Greg Zakowicz:
So I think when you look at this from an eCommerce brand perspective why you should be doing it is, well, this is the way people consume information now. They're consuming it on social. They're consuming it via paid search, consuming it via paid ads, these different things. So one, you've got to be in the game to do it. The second question comes, if you're not doing it, does it reflect poorly on you? And the answer is, probably yes to varying degrees, but especially if you're, let's say you're a new brand and you're looking at scale real quick. All right, so chances are you're doing a lot of Facebook and Instagram ads. You're trying to get that exposure out there and you're paying to acquire customers. And you're trying to get as many sales as you can. Well, one of the things I'm going to do as I've never shopped with you is I'm going to go to Facebook or I'm going to go to Instagram and see if you actually have a presence.

Greg Zakowicz:
Because I want to see if people are complaining or you're just one of these maybe sketchy companies or whatever. So I'm going to go there. So if you're not in the ball game, you can't play. So you're not getting in that park there [crosstalk 00:09:15], so it's one of those things. And then ultimately the content is going to help you engage. So yeah, I've passed the proof point, but I'm going to help you engage. So, I'll give you some examples in a little bit here. I think the conversation will naturally go that way with, "Okay, I've got a little bit of content, not doing a lot of marketing behind it. How do I use that content to actually do content marketing without having to reinvent the wheel?" And those things are really, that is the goldmine of it here is that people are on there, they're consuming the information. You just need to figure out where your little niche in that is, and that's the content you need to produce. You don't have to produce it all.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, I think that's great. I think they can get a bit scared. And I think when you sort of start [inaudible 00:09:57] this content strategy. Well, hang on a minute. I mean, it just a simple thing of, well actually some of these you've got through the website and then they're going to Google your name for example. So what does that look like when we go to the Google index and look what people are saying about you, or we go to Facebook, like you said, look at that Facebook page. And if there's no content and not an update on there since 2017, it's going to be problematic, isn't it? But obviously trying to find that balance of where to spend and what to spend, we'll come to that, and what channels, it can be a little bit challenging.

Richard Hill:
But at the same respect, if you're advertising a channel and you've got a presence on a channel, but you're not updating it, are you better not being there at all? I guess, if you're not updating your Facebook page since 2018, that's probably, that's a bit of a [inaudible 00:10:43], isn't it, in this day and age?

Greg Zakowicz:
You touched on something really important there too, as you said, someone's going to Google it and they're going to look at the results. Well, someone's going to own those results for your brand name. It's out there, something is showing up on first page. The question is, do you want to own that first page or do you want someone else to own that first page?

Richard Hill:
Yeah, I think that's maybe a pause right there for you guys that are listening in, go to Google. This is something as an SEO agency obviously we have an agency behind the podcast and you type in your brand name. Obviously you should be number one, that goes without saying. Your domain name, et cetera should rank for your brand. It should be happening, and usually two or three pages on your site will get the one, two, three. Then quite typically you get the Facebook and a couple of other social platforms. But then what? What else is there? Is it a Trustpilot negative review? Well, hang on a minute, we haven't done anything with Trustpilot. Well, you've got an account, oh blimey. Obviously looking through that top 10, that top 20 probably I would think, just saying you could probably tidy some things up there or remove certain elements.

Richard Hill:
I think quite often like Google My Business page is a quite interesting one, because quite often a company gets a Google My Business page from 2014 or whatever it may be. And then they've changed their branding three times since then. They're not in the same building or the images of the staff are wrong, oh, that guy was fired three years ago. What's he doing on there? So I think it's just keeping things fresh is a simple one as well, isn't it? Although some of these basic platform requirements, whether that's just you heading and branding and sort of portfolios or brand logos and things like that. So, okay, obviously you've worked in a lot of different creative, a lot of different strategies with different clients, but what would be some sort of tips you would give the listeners for creating and delivering an effective concept multi-strategy?

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah. So I think if you're an eCommerce brand, my guess is you're going to have somewhat limited resources. We typically run into this, especially with email marketing when we talk to them, there is one person doing your email team, and they're also probably doing social media and maybe some paid search, right? So time is really at the essence here. Obviously resources from a monetary standpoint, you might not have an unlimited budget to produce. Great challenges. So one, you're probably doing social media already, continue to exploit those things. You're probably doing product reviews and collecting those actively. If you're not, you should be, but you have some of that content already. Content marketing, it's all about repurposing content. A good content marker will take one piece of content and find five or 10 different ways to reuse that content.

Greg Zakowicz:
It's no different for an eCommerce brand. So let me give an example here. You've got a product review that is five-star rated, you've got some testimonials, maybe people comment on there. Well, what do we do with that? Well, let's think about from a marketing standpoint, we have new customers who sign up for our email program. So what do I do with that? Well, I can take, instead of just sending you a welcome email that says, "Hey, thanks for signing up for Greg's hats, let me tell you all about my founder story, because I'm sure that's what you want to read in that welcome email. It's like, "Okay, where's the discount?" What you could do is you can highlight some of your customer's top favorite hats, top selling hats, throw some testimonials on there. We're reusing that concept, but now we're filling content marketing. And then you can look at that and say, "Okay, we've got our customer favorites or our top 10 hats."

Greg Zakowicz:
Now, what questions do people most commonly have with either styling hats or top 10 hats, or how to choose the right fit for a hat? My head, I have a very odd shaped head. Hopefully [inaudible 00:14:17] this sort of even more, but I do, right? So finding hats is really tough for me, that fit well without leaving bulges and stuff. So, maybe you can say work those product reviews into a blog post, or some sort of piece of content that you have about how to choose the right hat or how to choose the right fit for your head. You're taking the content that's already there and you're building it into something. Now, when you're searching for like how to choose the right hat and you might pop up there and now you've got customer favorites and you've got some proof points going there and it ties your email side.

Greg Zakowicz:
The other thing, if you're not doing that and don't want to touch reviews at the same time, and this is a great example, it's a company called Baking Steel, right? So if you think about these old pizza stones, these are steel versions though. It's much heavier, I recently got one a couple of months ago, was on my COVID locked down, "I'm going to make pizza at home now." Did it last Friday, could check on my Instagram if you want. So I'm getting better at it. But so they've got a very active blog. They do cooking classes, things like that. They're all free, what the beauty of their blog post, they've got this recipe for 72-hour pizza dough.

Greg Zakowicz:
So they don't sell you anything. They're not telling you to buy baking steel. You can cook with a stone with if you want, they'll tell you it won't be as good, I probably agree with that. But they're doing content that is tied to the product without tying it to the product. Hey, you can use anything to do this, but it's helpful for the consumer. And what do they do then? Someone makes a purchase of a baking steel, part of their post-purchase messaging is, "Hey, do you know we have this recipe for our 72-hour pizza dough. We also have this recipe for dessert pizzas, or dessert doughs and different things like this." So if you think about that one piece of content, that is one it's a recipe, can show high in searches, if done well. Fit to their blog, it helps their customers. It helps sell their products without selling to their products. It provides an automated email from a post-purchase standpoint, which then makes happier customers, which hopefully you could do some cross sells and things like this. So you have this one blog post that serves all these different pieces.

Greg Zakowicz:
And then obviously you can use that stuff on social media. So it's finding a content like the hat or the baking, the pizza dough recipe. It's about producing content that fits quarterly with your business, whatever products you sell, that helps guide a customer that maybe weren't even sure you existed, but they came across your recipe because they're looking for pizza dough recipes. Now they've got this better solution or this better mousetrap or something, and you've converted a sale off. And I think that's one of the misnomers with content marketing is you've got to do everything all at once. And for an eCommerce brand, the trick is finding the things that are core to your business that will help build your brand.

Richard Hill:
I think what you said about creating that one piece that can then be repurposed and used across channels. I think rather than trying to think of five ideas in one, go hang on one piece that can be then used for, use in your email, use on your social, use in a video, used on a blog, used in a newsletter. I think going back to pizza just while we're there, did you get one of these big stone ones or was it more of these little, the steel, the small steel? I didn't quite catch the brand there that you say, because I'm quite interested in myself to get a pizza-

Greg Zakowicz:
Yes, so the brand is called Baking Steel.

Richard Hill:
Baking Steel.

Greg Zakowicz:
It is, yeah it is a steel [inaudible 00:17:36] by camera lined up here. So it's pretty big, right? It's about 20 some pounds. It's a heavy boy, but you cook the pizza anywhere from three to seven minutes based on how crispy you want the dough or whatever. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination. Pizza is one of the things I will rarely ever cook, but I had a baking stone for a long time. And ironically, we were in lockdown. We made some pizza with the kids one night and I was like, "The stone kind of stinks. It's not really, it just wasn't working." And then I came across Baking Steel and I'm like, "Why not?"

Greg Zakowicz:
And I've used them multiple times. I'm getting better at the dough and everything, something we do with the kids, but it's great. But what's happening now? What did I do? I told you I went on Instagram. I put pictures of a couple of the pizzas I made. They're producing content now through me, because they had this one post that tells me how to cook a good recipe. And then I got in a post-purchase email, highly recommended [crosstalk 00:18:34].

Richard Hill:
You'll be a pizza influencer before the end of the month then.

Greg Zakowicz:
Let's cross my fingers here. I've got some free pepperoni.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, I have to admit, I spent a little bit of time looking at outdoor kitchens, and very specifically the pizza ovens. I didn't get, I didn't press the button on any of them, so. Okay, so that's great, brilliant. Obviously, a lot of channels out there when we think typically commerce still, obviously. Let's say they've got two or three people in the marketing team, and they've got quite a few hats on between them. They are, they're maybe liaising with an agency or two on the paid media, and they're sending their own emails and they're taking their own Facebook. But where, have you got any sort of insights into how to decide which channels are more popular than others and where they should, different channels for different types of products? Or if we've got this sort of where to focus your time conundrum, what would you say on that?

Greg Zakowicz:
I would say, it's giving me the same answer I probably would have given me a 10 years ago, it's go where your customers are, which is pretty bad answer. It's like the consultants cop-out, which I used to be a consultant. I used to tell my clients, "I'm going to give you the consultants cop-out right now, test it."

Richard Hill:
It depends.

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah, it depends, test it. Go where your customers, all right. What does that mean? Because your customers are probably everywhere now. Well everyone's on search, right? Everyone's going to use Google or DuckDuckGo or whatever, but it's still search. And then if your results, like I use DuckDuckGo a lot, but my results aren't good. I know Google is going to give me some better results on some things, then I just go over there, right? Google is the place to start.

Greg Zakowicz:
So if you need some help with it, I think your company is a good example, Richard, you don't use some professionals to help you out with some things, at least to get the ball rolling and get you set up for success and then you can continue it. Social media is a no-brainer now. I think it just choose the channels that accords you. But also look at, I mentioned Twitter before, not every brand is on Twitter. Or a lot of brands that might be on Twitter, but they're not, like that's not their core advertising channel. They're on Facebook and Instagram, maybe TikTok, YouTube, whatever it might be. Twitter is still that synonymous place for customer service though. So even if you don't want to make it an active thing, you may want to have a presence on Twitter too. If nothing else control your brand narrative, people start complaining, you can respond. I'd use it more of a customer service tool.

Greg Zakowicz:
Is Reddit a big one for you? Do you have people actively searching for questions about your products or care? I would go on Reddit and do a brand search for yourself and figure out the question people are asking. It's growing, it's often overlooked as a channel, but you can get some really good insights about, "Hey, you know what, the shipping's taken way too long over here," or whatever it is-

Richard Hill:
Returns or yeah, yeah.

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah, these hats aren't fitting quite right, what's the deal with these things? So, look at Reddit as an example here, and then talk to some of your customers, ask them. If you're ever on a phone with them or their customer support, "Hey, what social networks do you prefer?" Things like this. I think if you do that, you probably have 90% of those answers already, but maybe it's just honing in and dialing in on some of those things that are a little more specific to you.

Greg Zakowicz:
But just look outside the box a little bit. You might not think about having an active presence on Reddit, but it's also a place to go to. You mentioned Googling yourself before. I think the same thing goes for Amazon as well. So some brands do not sell on Amazon for reasons, right? They don't want to eat into the extra margins. Maybe logistically it's too hard for them. Your brand also has a presence on Amazon, whether you own that presence or not. So if nothing else, I would do a quick Amazon search for your products and just see what shows up as well, because that might be something where you want to do, if nothing else like damage control on Amazon without actually selling on there. So that's just something else to do. But just go where people are and it's a bad answer, but it's an honest one.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. Maybe we'll come back to that, I think when we still maybe talk about tools towards the end, find them where we can find our audience. There's obviously different ways to do that, but so measuring success, when we go into, we're developing a content strategy and obviously you're looking at budgets as a store owner. Obviously you want to be able to track back as best you can your investment and how things are panning out in terms of getting returns. So what are some of the key metrics that you look at and you recommend a lookout to see whether a content strategy is working or not?

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah, this one's a little bit different in the B2B world than it would be in the, I think eComm world, direct to consumers side. So, there's some things, even in the B2B world I'll tell you there's some things that the metrics are one thing, but is it serving a different need? And that need is maybe harder to quantify. And a thing like, is it reinforcing our brand? And that's probably an answer that is not going be tied behind the number. In some cases it could be, but is it helping your brand? And I think that's the overarching question. If it's not, then you probably shouldn't be doing it. So maybe you shouldn't be doing it, but you're wasting your time on it maybe. So one answer to that question is to help the brand.

Greg Zakowicz:
Two, the other thing to look for is from a metric standpoint on the eComm side is, if you are investing in an agency or just doing something yourself to increase brand visibility through search for certain keywords or key phrases, one, are you showing up on page one? Or if not, are you actively making progress in climbing up the ranking? So you go from page three to page two and listing 18 to 15, right? So those are very measurable ones, figure out where you're lacking there. So those are some. The other thing is, look at where, again, content marketing is more about, it's not only about selling, it's about serving the needs of your customers here. So think about other metrics that you might be thinking about you could use this for, but are actually quantifiable.

Greg Zakowicz:
I'll give you a really good example. You used to work with this brand Balsam Hill. So they make these luxury high end artificial Christmas trees. They're not like your $150 ones, they're made to last a long, long time. So what they would, I was talking to the marketing person over there and what they would have is people would order these, and then they would get them and they would set them up. It's like everything, it's like a Pinterest project. It doesn't look quite as good as the final product that you're sold. So they would have people call the customer service person and, "Hey, I got this thing, but it doesn't really fluff the way it shows here." And then once the customer service person would give them proper fluffing instructions for how to actually pull it out, look beautiful.

Greg Zakowicz:
And then people, well, the marketing person went there and realize they were getting an absurd number of calls for the same issue. So what do they do? They produce a video, like a YouTube video. They put it into their post-purchase email series. It was on the website, on their blog, how to properly fluff an artificial Christmas tree. The first page of Google. So again, if you have a cheap artificial one, it's showing up there and now you have this cross. They were able to quantify the reduction in customer service phone calls. They were able to quantify the number of people posting on Instagram and things like this. People who love the trees the first time. So this feedback they're taking from a customer service standpoint was able to feed content, which helped from number one Google search ranking.

Greg Zakowicz:
Now you're looking at increased traffic to the website because you're on page one of Google to solve a very specific problem that is related to your brand, but not specifically about your brand. So again, it's a number where you can quantify this a couple of different ways. And what was the actual cost, what was the cost of making at home shot video about how to properly fluff a tree, artificial Christmas tree, write a blog post and slap it up on your website.

Greg Zakowicz:
So these things are all going to matter a little bit. It depends on what the piece of content you're looking for is, and again, it's probably, Richard, probably another not great example for you, but if it's serving the needs of your business, I don't think you need a metric for it. But if there's any place by repurposing the content that you can tie a metric like reduction in customer service calls, increased traffic, organic traffic to your website, even think about it, think about it from a decreased paid ad standpoint as well. If you have a piece of content, you think about fluffing Christmas trees. So if you're going to do say a Facebook or Instagram ad on something like this and you want something catchy versus 20% off. How to fluff an artificial Christmas tree at Christmas time, this might be the perfect-

Richard Hill:
Who knew, who knew that was? I'm intrigued now. I'm going to have to fluff a Christmas tree.

Greg Zakowicz:
Never occurred to me. We've got some cheap ones that I use for, like my kids have their own Christmas tree that sits in their playroom. And it's a cheap one. It's the hand-me-down version. But every year I go through this thing like Mike, I think about the same video [inaudible 00:27:53] a ton of, I'm like, "This doesn't look quite as good as it probably could." But think about it if you could use that piece of content in a paid ad to spark a little more interest. And then you could quantify the decrease in paid ad, also the increase in conversions in there.

Richard Hill:
Engagement, yeah.

Greg Zakowicz:
It's all about applying the metric to your own needs and your own business to figure out, "Okay, what can we actively do here? What can we theoretically, I say theoretically, but what can you accurately measure?" And answer the question for yourself, and then try to measure against.

Richard Hill:
I like the idea of obviously liaising with your sort of customer service team, success team, whatever you call your team sort of thing. Obviously they're getting those repeat calls that, "This problem, this problem, this problem." Actually, obviously you can then, you're getting your ideas for your content team that are also going to obviously they're going to help the presale decision piece, but also they're going to stop those customer calls coming through. So I think that's a great bit of advice, simple, but so effectively. Having those, whether that's a monthly sit down, the FAQs on the website is the simplest form, obviously creating videos for some of the more common FAQs that just keep coming through that are really stopping people buying maybe. I want to still be very specific to your specific industry I listening, but ultimately I'm sure you all get those same questions, "How does this?" And you've answered it 300 times, well yeah.

Greg Zakowicz:
Well, I think that every example I've given you so far, Richard, there's always a how to. Is how do I do this? How do I cook the best pizza dough? How do I preheat my stones to the right, or my steel to the right degree? How do I fluff a Christmas tree? How do I care for the products? I'm a big advocate of product care. I think if you're looking for a starting point for your specific brand, ask yourself, "Well, how do I do this with my product?" Again, talk to your customer service reps, "But how do I properly wash my lingerie?" There's probably ways. Lingerie bag. Do you use different detergents? How do I waterproof my shoes? How do I make sure, I mean, if you're men in suits, "Do I dry clean them? How do I actually properly dry clean them or clean them?"

Greg Zakowicz:
Because you don't, you're not supposed to dry clean them every single time. I never knew that until I got an email telling me those things. Hang it outside for a day is better than some other things. So ask yourself, no matter what you sell, if you're selling a pair of socks, if you're selling a glasses clip to keep them on, like, "How do I do XYZ?" It is a great place to start for you because again, you could use that content everywhere.

Richard Hill:
Yeah. So based on that, I guess, similar question then. What other brands can you think of that are creating really engaging content at the moment?

Greg Zakowicz:
So this is [crosstalk 00:30:51]-

Richard Hill:
No more pieces and no more Christmas trees. Anything on fashion you can think of? Because I think we get quite a lot of listeners on the fashion side of things, any sort of fashion brands that are standing out for you at the moment with their content strategy?

Greg Zakowicz:
You know, this is a really tough question. I can answer this question, or asked this question a lot in a varying ways, right? It's like who has a great email program? And it's a little bit different, but it's a little bit the same. Because emails you might send a lot of them. So sometimes it's just a sales email and there's not a lot of glam to it, but still it produces. I think this is the one untapped area or under utilized area for eCommerce brands is the content side. Because as much as it's been popular, as much as it's been a growing conversation or a popular conversational over many years, it's not something a lot of brands actively do a whole lot, at least that I've seen. They might dabble into it. They might serve a couple of different things.

Greg Zakowicz:
And I think that's, it's one alerting, and two, it's a preface for a really bad answer of saying like, "I don't really know." But I will try to do my best to talk live through this and hopefully generate a few ideas out of here. So, the one place to look for, my old company I used to work for, we had adult novelty store global, very well-known as the customer, and they would get great open rates and things like this. And we always use them as a, from a deliverability yet standpoint saying, "You can pretty much put any content in an email you want. People will open it if it's related, if it's relevant to the end consumer." We have some adult brands at Omnisend currently that also have, but these things, they have blogs, right? So I always say, "Look outside your own industry to look into what they're doing well, because the blogs actually drive a lot of traffic for both these."

Greg Zakowicz:
There'll be one you get how-to's, two, you could be shorter. So how to do XYZ, how to have a better love life, whatever it might be. Those are great examples to look for, because they also put them into their emails. They'll repurpose them in different places. They'll use month's social because it's a clean version of doing something that might hit a certain standard. So, you might not want to do it in your work computer, but Google some adult novelty sites, not adult sites, adult novelty product sites.

Richard Hill:
Novelty, novelty.

Greg Zakowicz:
Yeah, yeah. And maybe do a blog with it or something. I think it's a good place to look. So, but if you want to tone it down a little bit, a lot of lingerie companies, Yandy lingerie's find that they've really excelled over the years, have grown their business well. But they'll have things like how to choose the right Halloween costumes. Or playfully, sexy, Halloween costumes, things like this. So again, they're trying to serve a need. They're trying to serve some information there. I think beauty and cosmetics, great place to look for obviously. How to apply the best eyeliner or blush the right way? I'm not the cosmetic expert, so if I'm getting my terminology a little bit off, bear with me. Cosmetics is a great place to look because you've got natural YouTube videos. You have natural TikTok videos. You have natural Snapchats, Instagram Reels, whatever you want to use here, so. Or stories, I should say.

Greg Zakowicz:
So, I think there's cosmetics, great example. I think on the, you talked about men's wear or something like that. I can't think of any great examples, but a lot of times they'll have blogs as well for how to do the best Windsor or not. Or again, I think at Paul Fredrick is where I got the dry cleaning examples from early.

Greg Zakowicz:
Hey, question from Greg, "How do I clean my suit?" It's, "Well, hang it outside in fresh air for 24 hours and that'll be too better than a dry cleaning." So I think it's all a matter of just doing some Google search, set that for brands and asking some general questions. I think Google search, you'll be able to talk to this, Richard Google search, you get recommended other searches.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah, sure.

Greg Zakowicz:
Look at those other searches, see what's happening there. So I'm giving you a couple of brands that are doing, I think, a decent job of it. I think any cosmetic brand, not a specific brand, but really any cosmetic brand will probably get you a pretty good result I would imagine as well. So I don't know those are the answers you're looking for, but.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, no that's cool. So in terms of-

Greg Zakowicz:
I'll get you there.

Richard Hill:
So I think there's sort of a couple of answers to the question there. I think obviously we've got ideas and brands that are doing things well, and then we've got ways and places to find again ideas. So obviously looking at your competitors, looking at what they're doing, looking at in Google search, is there any other tools at all that you'd recommend to get ideas in the industry? So obviously things, certain trends can kick in. Somebody famous wears a certain shade of red lipstick or whatever. And next thing you know, Revlon has done 15 million pounds in an afternoon selling the latest shade of blossom or whatever it is. But is there any specific tools or any other resources that our listeners could go to, look at? Obviously we've got Google, I'll go to that. Saying, look at what and go to your competitors, have a real understanding of your competitors what they're doing.

Richard Hill:
Obviously there's always somebody in every industry that's got 20 marketers working in their team or wherever you are is always somebody doing 10 times, a 100 times. Obviously you can get a feel for things that are going well for them. Look at Google, look at Google trends. They're obviously trends that haven't happened yet and are happening, just trying to catch stuff that's just on the rise can be a little bit more difficult. Have you got any specific sort of insights there?

Greg Zakowicz:
So I think the two and the one is probably a little bit harder now, although getting easier, and I'll get to that one in a second. Instagram searches, I think is a place you can. What I would do here is, if you see a post that you like, let's use red lipstick as an example. And I see, all of a sudden I see a couple of people are wearing red lipstick. Now, if you keep clicking on those, Instagram is probably going to feed you more red lipstick images, right? So it's kind of the tail wagging the dog a little bit. But what I would naturally do is look at that image and look and see what the hashtags there are. And there might be 40 of them in there, but see if there's, and then click the next one. See if you have any repeating hashtags that might get you to some place, because it might be a trend that's already hot and you just missed it.

Greg Zakowicz:
Just could be something that is in this particular group or maybe it's red lipstick hashtag. But I would just kind of go down that rabbit hole and spend an hour, just bounce it around and see where it takes you. The other thing is, and this is old school method is like people watching, which is harder, because I don't go out anymore. Or rarely go out. I play softball on Sundays and that's kind of the extent of my getting out of the house for the time being. But people watching is always a good place. So if you just go to a Starbucks or you're on a subway, if you're in a big city, just look at people's shoes when you're on there and see if there's trends you see with ... Now, bad example, because I live in North Carolina now, but I used to live in Philadelphia, this is years ago. And I go to New York every couple of times. And I remember I say everything is three years ago. This was probably about 14 years ago now, but [crosstalk 00:38:01]. But around Christmas time.

Richard Hill:
Oh no, that was 10 years ago.

Greg Zakowicz:
So me and my wife we went up to New York for the day, just walk around in Christmas time, check out the stuff. And I'm on the subway and I notice all these women wear boots, but they all had buckles on. So like, I'm like, "Oh, buckles must be the trend this year or whatever." And I am not, by the way, Richard, you probably look at, I've got a sweatshirt on and a hat mostly because I have COVID right now, so my hair has not been cut in a long time. So the hats covering them up. But I am not the fashionista here. I am not the fashion police by any stretch of the imagination. But I'm noticing that all these women are wearing buckles on their boots.

Greg Zakowicz:
And I tell my wife and I said, "Are buckles in?" And she was like, "Not that I know of." But then three months later buckles was, I got an email. It was like, "Buckle's the trend of the season or whatever." I'm like, "They're all buying them because they probably knew it was the trend already." But it was just something I noticed. So Starbucks, I think is always a good place to just people watch. I know harder now, but you start to identify these little trends, try to jump on them. Even if you're wrong, you make your own stamp, you make your own point. It's okay to be wrong with content. If the content again feeds your brand, it relates back to your products, you're okay.

Richard Hill:
I like that a lot. I think the reality is that trends are stopped, trying to find it so that it's starting or getting something as it become something huge. Maybe you're not going to get a winner every time. But you are by the nature of trying different things, you're going to have longevity. You obviously are going to catch winners, but even if the ones aren't as popular, some ideas, so what? Doesn't matter, you just given it, it's a bit innovative. I did an episode with the [inaudible 00:39:43] summit on a similar topic, catching trends and topics that are starting, or at their infancy, which you have to really look more on social and get out, or get out and about sort of thing and see what's happening. So I was just thinking, today it's the first episode I think we've managed to mention red lipstick, lingerie and novelty toys all in five minutes. So high five.

Greg Zakowicz:
There you go. Let's get it done. While we're on that topic while we're on that. No, I'm just joking. The other thing to think about as well which just popped my mind, but polls, ask your customers. We talked about asking customers before, right? So, we have poll functionality on social media. So go ahead and ask polls. "Hey, do you like X?" I mean it could be, I mean, you don't even have to be a food product, but like, "What are you having for dinner tonight? Tacos, chicken parm," and I don't know, pick something, chili. I don't know. So I brought chili into this conversation, Richard, so we've got red lipstick, we've got chili. We've got lingerie. So you can ask and get an idea about what people are up to or what the highlight, what they're most looking forward to and spring it.

Greg Zakowicz:
Because if you know, say most people next spring are looking forward to socializing in coffee shops again. And you are a fashion retailer. Well, what could we do? Spring fashion. Make your own trend, but spring fashion trends to reconnect with your friends. But you know that the coffee shop's the settings? So maybe you use that and say, "Okay, what color palettes will blend well with the warm wood in the background that most coffee shops have," and stuff like this.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, yeah, brilliant, brilliant.

Greg Zakowicz:
Just ask people.

Richard Hill:
Yeah, love it. Right. Well, we're coming to an end. Last couple of questions, Greg. So crystal ball time, we're sat here in 18, 24 months, two years time, what are some of the things you think that is going to be? You talked about looking at the hashtags with thoughts about obviously getting outside is always a good one. But specific, anything on the content strategy, on the content sort of ideation or things that brands should be looking at and sort of can maybe get ahead of the curve with?

Greg Zakowicz:
My answer would be no, just do it. Just do it. Find the place to start, right? This is the same thing with content versus creating automated emails, creating and choosing a new software or something that you do at work, whatever it might be, just start some place, right? It doesn't have to be perfect from day one, but you can iterate. You can refine, you can do these things out there. So pick three places to start. How do I do this with my products? Where are my customers maybe engaging the most? Three social networks, and then how can I help my customers utilize a product better? We go to that customer service example there.

Greg Zakowicz:
I mean, that's your three places to start and maybe you want to start by, "Okay, well, how do I do XYZ better?" Well, maybe you want to start there simply by running a poll. "Hey, can you do this better? Or if we gave you these, what three of these things would help you do this better?" And maybe you just slowly get into it, but do something, get it out there, see how it flies and then just kind of iterate from there. And I would say starting is always the hardest point for this stuff.

Richard Hill:
Getting stuff done. That is the trick in the whole shebang, isn't it? Stop talking about it, crack on. Right, so, the book recommendation, it's that time. We always like to finish every episode with a book recommendation. You have to recommend one book on anything whatsoever. What would it be, Greg?

Greg Zakowicz:
I'm going to give you two here. One, so I like reading non-fiction and a lot of times it's historical non-fiction. So, reading about constitution or Obama's latest book or something like that. So I just like, I love A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking. It's always one of my go-to faves here. So I always recommend that one. I like astrophysics, stuff like that.

Richard Hill:
Oh wow.

Greg Zakowicz:
So this ties really well into it. So if you're interested in black holes and just how the universe works, A Brief History of Time is always a good one. And then a business book that I personally like is called The CEO Next Door. So it is based on these high performing executives that come from all different backgrounds. And it's done through a statistical approach based on consulting and professional development and stuff like that by CEO coaches. And it boils down all the traits, the common traits they all have, how they apply them to different challenging scenarios and things like that. And it's pretty good perspective about if you're going to boil a couple of things down to how you want to conduct yourself professionally, do these three things here, these four things, these five things, and this is how to apply it. So it's a really easy read. It's a quick read, but super interesting.

Richard Hill:
That sounds great. We'll link that up in the show notes. Well thank you Greg, for being a guest on the eCom@One show. For the guys that are listening and want to find out more about you, more about the brands, what's the best place to do that and to reach out to you?

Greg Zakowicz:
Sure. So if you want to reach out to me directly, you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me on Twitter. I'm fairly active there as well, so just Google my name, you'll come across it here. You want to email me directly, greg@omnisend.com. You can check out company@omnisend.com if you need to mail, and I'll correct it for you. Greg is just G-R-E-G. Will be in the show notes I'm sure, but I'm pretty open book. So feel free to reach out. And if you want to check on my pizza creation from a week ago, at this time, a couple of weeks ago-

Richard Hill:
I'll be on it, I'll be on it.

Greg Zakowicz:
... Instagram, man. Just Google me on Instagram.

Richard Hill:
Fantastic, Greg. Well, thanks for being a guest of the show. I look forward to catching up with you again. Thank you.

Richard Hill:
Thank you for listening to the eCom@One eCommerce Podcast. If you enjoyed today's show, please hit subscribe and don't forget to sign up to our eCommerce newsletter, that leaves a review on iTunes. This podcast has been brought to you by our team here at eComOne, the eCommerce marketing agency.

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