Attracting clients to build a thriving Amazon brand management agency requires strategic approaches to brand exposure and management. In this highly competitive industry, digital marketing involves content creation, distribution, and promotion in which SEO and keyword searches play a crucial role.
In this episode, Mike Begg, one of the co-founders of AMZ Advisers, guides us through his team’s process to effectively market your brand. He recounts how their company started and gives advice on how to maximize your content and boost your rankings. Mike also shares how they build and develop links to widen their audience. He also talks about labor in Mexico and some challenges he faced working with teams from different cultures.
Tune in to the episode to learn how your business can also thrive!
Click here to read transcript
[00:04:15] So for the folks who aren’t familiar with you and don’t yet know who you are and what you do, why don’t we start there?
- Sure. So, I am one of the co-founders of AMZ Advisers and I am also the chief strategist there. And what we do is we help brands and manufacturers increase their sales on the Amazon platform. So, we help them develop their entire marketing strategy, everything from Amazon SEO, off-platform traffic, on-platform advertising and kind of manage that entire process for them.
[00:04:50] Okay, and you started your company when?
- We started in 2015. So, we’ve been around for a while, and we’ve got a lot of experience selling our own products and selling our customers’ products on the platform.
[00:05:03] Okay, and you are located in Guadalajara, Mexico, right?
- I am. We have two locations, one here in Guadalajara, where I’ve lived for three years now, and we have our office that is completely empty except for me right now. And the other one is in the US in Connecticut.
[00:05:19] Okay, and give us an idea of the size of the company today in terms of, maybe, number of brands you work with or annual revenue, something like that.
- Sure. So, we work with about 50 clients right now. Annual revenue wise, we’re doing about one and a half million for us. For our clients, they’re typically doing about two million or more on the Amazon platform because at that point, they really have the money to invest in the platform in the advertising side. And that’s really where you start seeing growth.
[00:05:48] Okay, so that means you’re managing about a hundred million dollars in sales, is that right?
- Yeah, we manage about a hundred million a year. We manage about 10 million on ad spend, so we’ve been doing this for a long time.
[00:06:00] Okay, so let’s talk about how you built this company. What has been your number one way of attracting clients? Because obviously with 50 of them, you’re doing something right.
- Yes. One of the things we realized early on and we kind of looked around the space and seeing what the competitors were doing, and we realized we need to build authority.
So, for us, we focused a lot on creating content. And it started with just plain SEO for Google. So, we invested a lot in creating articles, answering specific questions, talking about specific features on the Amazon platform. And that’s gotten us to the point where we generate about 20,000 unique visitors per month to our website. And that’s a huge source for leads for us.
In addition to that, we also started building our reputation on the Upwork platform, which is another great source because a lot of people are going there for freelancers and then once they see a company on there, there’s a good opportunity for you to upsell them on the company side and generate some leads from there.
[00:06:58] So let’s go down the Upwork rabbit hole for a minute. So, do you put yourself up as a company or do you put yourself up as an individual contractor and then they talk to you and then they figure out you have a company?
- Yeah. So, we are up there as an individual contractor. My business partner, he handles the sales side of everything. I think he is like the number one ranked Amazon freelancer or he’s like one of the top ones on the Upwork platform. So, we’re constantly getting hit up there. It’s been a great source of leads for us. So just by getting the task done over time, getting good ratings on them and everything, we’ve just been able to really rise to the top. So, when anyone hits Upwork looking for Amazon, they find us.
[00:07:41] Okay. And the size of the customer that you’re getting from Upwork versus the size of the company that becomes a lead on your website, are they about the same size or do they differ very much?
- They differ. What we find is that on the Upwork side, it’s a lot of people that are kind of starting out or maybe they’re just looking for a cheap solution because they’re money conscious. They’re not certain what the return is going to be on their investment. So typically, they’re on the smaller end of the clients we work with. The ones we get through our website, we get some pretty big companies. We’ve worked with some Fortune 500 companies before that we’ve gotten through our website. We have a couple big multibillion companies, big multibillion-dollar a year companies that we’re working with right now. So, we get the majority of those from our website and then from cold email outreach.
[00:08:34] So you didn’t mention cold email, I don’t think, in our pre-interview. So what percentage of your leads or customers are coming from cold email versus Upwork, versus the website?
- So, I’ll have to give an approximation. Through cold email, we get about 30% of our leads. We get about 40% from our website traffic, and then that leaves 30% from Upwork. That’s pretty much the breakdown of where we get our leads from. The clients we actually close is probably higher on the cold outreach because that’s more of a relationship building thing. They’re not just finding us some way. So, we get better results, I think, from actually closing leads to the cold email outreach. But we get a ton of leads from the website.
[00:09:25] So how many emails are you sending a day or a week? And are they individual custom emails or are you taking more of the carpet bomb approach where you’re automating some portion of it?
- It’s automated. There is an email follow up aspect to it. So, we use a program called Growbots to do all of the outreach for us. And I think we send about 500 emails a week. So, we’re not really — we’re sending a good amount of emails — but we’re not like carpet bombing the entire industry trying to hit people. But we get pretty good results out of that. So, it’s worked well for us.
[00:10:01] And more or less, what does the message say in the email?
- The initial one is just asking, well, it can be specific to a certain time of the year, normally like around the summer or the lead up to the summer. We’re asking about what their Prime Day strategy is this time of the year, going into Q4. We’re trying to understand what their Q4 strategy is. Just to get that initial conversation going. A second sequence is more of a follow-up, just checking in with them. And then the third one is just like, “Hey, I know you’re busy. We have some tips and recommendations if you want to download our free e-book.” Or whatever. So, using a click magnet or lead magnet to get them in the last email.
[00:10:39] Okay, so just three emails in the sequence. And then if they don’t respond to any of those three, do you recycle them and send them again at some point?
- Yep, we’ll recycle them probably in the next big sales period. So, for example, if we send one now, they don’t really respond in the Q4 lead up, we’ll probably hit them again in April or May to get them ready for Prime Day.
[00:11:00] Okay. Before we move off of the topic of email, is there anything else that you’ve learned in terms of gotchas, lessons, mistakes that you want to share around the topic cold email?
- There’s obviously, you just got to be careful when you’re building automated campaigns. If you make little mistakes or use the wrong tags and things, you can send the wrong message, or whatever, it’s the wrong name. I think everyone has probably received an email at some time that says, “Hey, [first name]” or like, “Hey, [your company].” It just doesn’t make sense. And yeah, those are the little things you really need to be careful about. But once everything’s set up, it’s a pretty smooth process, I find.
[00:11:48] Are you sending emails from your primary domain or do you have a throwaway domain?
- No, we send it from our primary domain. We don’t…
[00:11:55] You do?
- Yeah, we do. We don’t really have any issues with it. So, we haven’t been tagged for spam or anything like that. At the end of the day, we’re not forcing them to sign up for something. We’re just trying to help them and understand what their problems are and answer any questions they have.
[00:12:10] And in those three emails, is there an unsubscribe link?
- Yes, of course. We send it out. There’s an unsubscribe at the bottom of the signature.
[00:12:18] Okay. All right. Let’s talk about content. Give me a broad overview of your content marketing strategy first, and then we’ll kind of dive down into details and further questions.
- Sure. So, it’s been evolving over time, I think is the best way to put it. Like I mentioned before, we started with the blog content because that’s where we saw, I guess, the lowest hurdles. And it was also a lot easier than doing video content. It takes a while to get more comfortable being on camera, to be able to speak clearly. So, we’ve slowly started moving more into video.
When it comes to the entire content process and how it works, we have certain team members that are responsible for generating content. So, we have a content writer, we have a content editor on our team. We have a link builder who’s helping generate links to our content that we’re creating. And then we have myself who is doing the video content and podcast, and things like that.
And what we’re doing is the central hub of our content now is a video. So, for example, on our YouTube channel, we’ll interview an eCommerce expert. It’ll be an hour-long interview. Maybe it’s seven, eight questions. So now we have that one piece of video content, and we’re going to turn that into a blog post—so now we’re creating blog content. We’re going to break each individual question into separate videos, and now we’re maximizing the amount of video we have going out.
We’re translating the transcripts for each video into different languages so that we can hit different markets that we’re targeting. And then we use all of that to just kind of generate additional blog post topics and ideas that we can put on our website. As well as doing— I also do contributor writing for a few other platforms like business.com, Business 2 Community. So, we’re creating content on a variety of different areas, but it all centers around the video content we’re creating.
[00:14:13] And any of the pieces of content that you’re syndicating to a secondary site like Business 2 Community, is that unique content for them or is it previously published on your site then you’ll publish it on Business 2 Community and with attribution linked back to the original piece?
- Exactly. We’ll generate new content that will somehow fit a piece of content that we’re trying to rank for on our website.
So, what’s a good example? Like if we want to talk about Amazon supply chain. We will talk about one aspect of Amazon supply chain within our article on Business2community and then figure out a way to work in a link that goes back to the main blog topic on our website where they can learn a lot more about it.
[00:14:56] Okay. And how are you selecting your keywords? So, I guess another way of phrasing the question is how are you deciding what to write about?
- Yeah, so we spent a lot of time doing keyword research and competitor keyword research. We use tools like Ahrefs.com, SEMrush. Those are probably the two we use the most for doing the keyword research. And we’re seeing what our competitors are currently writing for that we’re not ranking for. And then we’re generating a lot of content around that to start ranking for those keywords. We’re also seeing the content that we’re ranking pretty well for but we’re not page one yet. And then the off-platform stuff like Business 2 Community, business.com, try to generate links from that content to this content to get it to rank higher.
So, we’re looking at both what we’re not looking for and then where we think we can improve our ranking based on how competitive it is and what the competitors are ranked in comparison to us.
[00:15:55] And folks, if you’re listening to this thinking, “Man, I’d like to get a little bit more information on SEO and keyword research.” I actually did record very recently in interview number 337 with Rich Barnett from SEMrush. And we talked about the low hanging fruit ways to get quick wins for SEO. So, I highly encourage that you check that out.
- Yeah, the SEMrush people are great. I work with them on a lot of content. We’ve done— I’ve done webinars with them. They’re very knowledgeable about when it comes to SEO, so they’re great people to learn from.
[00:16:22] They are indeed. And their tool, which is the one that we use, is the Swiss Army knife of SEO. It does everything you could ever want to do.
All right. So, you’re doing keyword research, paying attention to your competitors. You’re figuring out what to write about. You’re doing interviews. You’re creating pieces of content. You’re repurposing the content. I love all of that stuff. I think that is all stuff that the people listening should be doing. What about the concept of cornerstone content? Is that a phrase that resonates with you?
- It’s not something that we’ve really focused on. It’s something I understand within the scope of creating a content marketing strategy. But what we found is that a lot of the people that are searching for stuff specific to Amazon—our audience, pretty much—they’re asking questions on Google. So, “How do I do this?” “How do I do this?” “What do I do for this?”
So, we found that actually answering the questions was a better result for us for getting quick easy wins and getting that traffic to our website. We talked about building a larger piece of content and then doing content splintering from that and using link building strategies and guest posts from other websites to build more traffic to it. But it’s not something we’ve really put a big emphasis on because we keep getting such good wins from answering these questions or addressing exactly what they’re looking for.
[00:17:41] Are you creating videos that also are titled in such a way to answer those questions? Or actually, so let’s say their question is how do I peel a banana? Are you creating a video that’s titled “How Do I Peel a Banana?”
- Yes, more or less. We’re very direct with what we’re answering in. I mean, we won’t put a question mark at the end, we will literally say “How to peel a banana” to answer that question for them. But the example I gave of creating the central video interview that we’re doing and breaking it down, I’m asking these questions that people are searching for to these other eCommerce experts. So now, we have our own insights, but we’re also getting other people’s insights on how to answer that question. And we’re leveraging their knowledge within our content to help us rank better on Google searches, YouTube searches, wherever it may be.
[00:18:26] And the dirty little secret, folks, on creating content is creating content like I’m doing right now, where you interview somebody else, is absolutely the easiest way in the world to create content. You will have to polish it, of course. But when someone— when I say, “Hey, Dave, how do you peel a banana?” And Dave gives me the answer to the question, and he talks for five minutes, I don’t have to type all that stuff out. I get to transcribe it. I’ve got to give it to an editor. And it needs to be polished because you’ve got to take the “uhm” and the “uhhs,” and all that stuff out. But nonetheless, it does save a great deal of time.
So, let’s talk about keeping your content up to date once you publish—and you may not be doing this if you’re not doing cornerstone content, but maybe you are. So, content obviously changes over time or should change over time, and Google likes recency. It’s one of the signals that their algorithm is rumored to pay attention to. And if you look at the search results, a lot of times you can see, because there’s dates on the articles, that the fresher stuff’s near the top. Do you have a content refresh strategy that you follow?
- Yeah. So, every six months we go through our website, we audit the content and see how it’s performing, whether it’s increased over time or decreased over time. And that’s a pretty significant indicator on where we need to focus on updating things and fixing articles that we’ve published in the past.
So, if we’ve seen something decrease over time, we’ll probably try to rewrite it just to see— and update the recency. Probably include the year in the title, 2020, just to make it seem more relevant and more recent. And if it improves in the next six-month period, that’s a good sign that what we’re doing works. At the same time, if we have something that’s ranking pretty well but isn’t page one, we’ll look at what is on page one and see what that content is including that our content is missing, and then we’ll refresh it, update it, and include those new pieces of content so we can hopefully have that article in six months be ranking on page one.
[00:20:18] And to be clear for the audience, I’m guessing you’re probably using the 80–20 rule on your content audit in that you’re saying, “Well what is the 20 percent of our content that’s giving us 80 percent of our traffic?” And that’s the content that you’re auditing, because over the years, if you have hundreds of blog posts, it becomes an unmanageable project, does it not?
- Oh, yeah. I think at this point we have about 400 blog posts on our website that we’ve published, like I said, over five years. So, there’s a lot of content to look at. But you realize quickly what content is actually driving people and what’s not, and you’re better off just cutting out the content. We’ve unpublished a lot of blog posts that we put out that just don’t generate traffic. And we found that another common error that I think a lot of people make that we were making is we are spending a lot of our resources on creating content that was relevant for a certain change that happened on the platform, on Amazon, for example. Or something that was time relevant and it wasn’t really ever doing. So, while it might be great for putting out in a newsletter right now to get your current subscriber list to go come back to the website to learn more about it, it’s not really great for SEO in the long run. So, it is one of the trade-offs with doing content marketing.
[00:21:33] Yup. So, if I’ve understood that correctly, are you saying that based upon the analysis that you’ve done, that if you have— let’s just make this really simple. Let’s say you’ve got a hundred articles on your site and 30 of them aren’t generating any traffic. Does Google, based upon your experience because Google doesn’t tell, does Google rank your overall site worse if you’ve got 30 articles there that aren’t getting any traffic? And there’s that and you’d be better off to unpublish those articles? Is that what you’re saying? Or is it something different?
- Yeah, obviously, we don’t know exactly what Google thinks. But what we find is that Google can index every single page on our website. So, by getting rid of the pages that don’t bring as much value or that aren’t ranking as well right now, we are allowing Google to index the content on our website that is currently driving traffic better. So, it’s more of yeah, it’s like you said, the 80–20 rule, focused on what’s actually bringing people to your website.
[00:22:32] Yeah, and analytics is the storehouse of all of that information. You can see which articles are bringing you traffic and which ones aren’t. And if it’s not bringing any traffic, there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t unpublish it because it’s just not doing anything for you anyway.
- Yeah, exactly. You just getting it off the website will clean things up. It’ll make it a lot easier for you and it should help you in the Google search algorithm over time.
[00:22:58] Yeah. So, you mentioned you publish on your site. You’re obviously publishing on YouTube. You’re doing some syndication to Business 2 Community, maybe some syndication to medium.com? Where else are you publishing?
- Yeah, we do a little Medium, business.com. Those are the three main ones that we focus on right now, always trying to get on to other ones. Like I’ve been emailing Entrepreneur and Inc for probably three years trying to become a contributing writer for those websites because it’s a great way to get exposure for your brand because so many people go to those websites and read the articles. That’s probably the main market.
[00:23:37]: No luck yet? With Entrepreneur?
- No, no luck yet. Still trying. I’m going to keep following up with them. If you have any tips or anything, I would love to know.
[00:23:48] You know, I know that any time. So, I now have a relationship with a reporter at Retail 360, but it wasn’t any genius on my part. I got lucky in that he reached out to me to get a quote for a piece he was working on. And then I put him in my CRM and I put a recurring task to keep in touch with this guy and keep nurturing the relationship. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. But that’s the first time that that’s happened. So, it’s getting presses.
It’s much like prospecting there. I remember hearing a speech from Brian Scudamore from 1-800-GOT-JUNK? years ago, and it was all about how they got so much PR in their early days. And granted, that was probably 20 years ago, but it was just asking. It was they literally prospected reporters like they prospect clients. And I talked to somebody, our VP of marketing, about this yesterday. And one of her best friends is a PR professional. Same thing to this day. It’s a lot of prospecting, but not “Hey, here’s a story about me.” The prospecting has to start off with, “How can I help you?” “How can I help you? What are you working on?” So, it takes a lot of effort but the leverage is there because if you can get some exposure, there could be a lot of eyeballs in a very short period of time.
- Exactly. I had something similar, like completely purely by luck, Digital Commerce 360, starting to build more of a relationship with them. I think I’ve done quotes for a couple articles. But yeah, it’s reaching out, seeing how you can help them. Asking how you can provide value is always better than just saying, “Hey, I’ve got this.” You’re really not going to get many responses that way.
[00:25:25] Yeah. And I misspoke about the site. It’s the same one as you. Digital Commerce 360. Maybe even the same guy. Don is my guy’s name.
- It’s Don. Yeah. Go figure.
[00:25:36] Too funny. I’ll just send him an email afterwards, tell him he got mentioned in this interview. All right. Let’s talk about content promotion, because obviously you’ve got to get it out into the world somehow. Tell me a little bit about what you’re doing in that regard.
- Yep. So when you look at your content strategy, you obviously have two challenges. One creating it, the other one is distributing it. And distribution is always a challenge. We are typically, like I said, we’re posting stuff on our website. We’re posting stuff on YouTube. So how do we get the eyeballs to it?
Social media is one way that we really promote it. Another way that we really promote the content we’re putting out is partnerships. So, we do a lot of blog exchanges, which is a good way to distribute content because now we’re reaching other people’s audiences when they promote our blog on their website or we promote their blog on our website. So that’s another good way to distribute the content, get some outreach there.
We also use weekly newsletters to our current subscribers so we can hit them with the new content that’s coming out. And yeah, that’s the main area of it. It’s constantly a struggle to figure out how to distribute your content and how to get it out there. PR is a very traditional part of it, where you’re sending out whatever your research piece or whatever the value is to a bunch of news agencies, hoping someone picks it up. And a lot of people do use that but it’s a little expensive, we find. We’re looking for—I won’t say the cheapest—but the lowest cost ways to generate the most traffic and views to our website.
[00:27:09] Have you experimented much with Twitter?
- We haven’t used Twitter that much. Another similar area that we’re focusing on right now is on Reddit. Trying to get a lot more onto Reddit and starting posting links to our content, answering questions, providing value where we can. We haven’t really tried Twitter that much. I don’t know why, there’s no particular reason. It’s not a platform we prefer. For us, we prefer using LinkedIn. We prefer Instagram and, like I said, Reddit, because that’s where we find a lot of the people that are looking for this type of service.
[00:27:44] The other thing with Reddit though is that 64% of their users are aged 18 to 29, and 29% percent are 30 to 49. And so, Reddit might not be the best, in my opinion, for whatever that’s worth, might not be the best source. I do completely agree about LinkedIn and the thing that—and I’m no power user on Twitter by any stretch of the imagination—but I do get the opportunity to talk to a lot of folks as the host of the show. And what I’ve been told in the past is the thing about Twitter that people really, really like is the ability @ mention others and make use of hashtags. So even if you don’t have much in the way of the following, you’re able to do that and to a certain degree, and you can do that as well on LinkedIn. You can leverage those capabilities.
Instagram? For this? That surprises me to hear that you use it. Again, I’m no Instagram power user. What are some of the strategies? Do you have measurable results from Instagram or is it just one of the things that you do?
- It’s one of the things we do, but we do get some decent traffic from it, I think, through our Instagram posts and links in our, in the stories and on the page. We generate a couple of hundred views a month. It’s nothing crazy. Like I said, the overall website traffic is about twenty thousand unique users. So, it’s really not that much compared to some other channels.
We generate way more through LinkedIn because that’s where a lot of people that have these problems with Amazon or are changing their business to adapt to Amazon are. So, it’s a great place for us to reach there. And then YouTube actually is a really good source for us. We get a couple of thousand visitors per month through YouTube videos, so.
[00:29:23] Well, sure, because you can, you know, you’re publishing natively to the YouTube platform and targeting keywords and putting and tags and so forth. With respect to LinkedIn, can you describe to me how you typically are promoting your content on LinkedIn? What are the tactics that you’re using?
- It’s interesting. We’re still learning LinkedIn, and it’s funny testing different things and seeing how things work. So, what we found is that video actually performs better than written content. So, when we link to a video on YouTube versus when we link to a website.
[00:30: 00] Oh, you link out?
- Yeah, when we link out. The video on YouTube gets way more.
[00:30:06] Have you tested that versus hosting the video natively on LinkedIn?
- We haven’t tested that yet. But for example, one recent one we did, I posted a video. I think we got 20,000 impressions on the video from LinkedIn. And from the blog post that I put on there, I think we got about three thousand. So, I was surprised to see that difference between the two, because you’re right, they’re both essentially linking out. But for some reason, the video does better within, or at least it seems to do better within the content posts on LinkedIn.
[00:30:41] Oh, I agree completely that video is more effective on LinkedIn. The thing that I’m surprised about because I’ve interviewed a number of LinkedIn folks on the show is. When you start hijacking traffic from LinkedIn and sending it to YouTube, LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t like that very much.
- I can imagine.
[00:30:56] Yeah, no shock, right? So that would impact—negatively impact—how often LinkedIn is going to show that post in other people’s feeds. And so, if you’re hosting the video natively on LinkedIn and something that I saw, I wish I could remember his name because I want to give him attribution for this. He’s an Australian fellow that I interviewed years ago. I can’t remember his name, so sorry. But what he does in his videos, it’s instead of saying, “Hey, go…” So, he hosts his videos natively on LinkedIn, and then he says, “I’ve got this thing that I’ll give you. And if you want this thing,” instead of offering up the link, he says, “Just leave me a comment, and I’ll direct message it to you. So, from the algorithm’s perspective, what do you think’s happening? They’re seeing the video is super engaging.
And I tested this once, and it worked like crazy. Because the video is getting views, and it’s getting a lot of comments. So that gets the flywheel going in the LinkedIn algorithm to show that video to more and more people. Whereas if you’re linking up to YouTube, all LinkedIn is seeing is, “Hey, people see this post, and then they leave the platform,” which LinkedIn doesn’t want to happen.
- Exactly. Yeah, I guess that does make a difference, but I think from the way you described of generating the engagement on the post, that definitely plays a big part in it. So, another way that we do this is when we’re posting on LinkedIn, I try to post something that I don’t want to say, how do I say it? Not provocative, but contentious, where there might be a lot of different opinions on it, and I’ll give a very direct statement on what I think as the one liner. I’ll have to read more to learn why I think that. And then I get all sorts of comments on it from people being like, “I disagree, I do… blah blah,” whatever it is. And all that content gives you the opportunity to respond, generating more and more reactions, more engagement. And it just brings more and more people to the posts, so.
[00:32:55] Be controversial. Don’t try and please everybody, absolutely.
- Yup. There’s no way.
[00:32:58] Yup, I like that a lot. Building links. Not an easy thing to do. How much success are you having, and how are you doing it?
- So, we have a few different ways we’re doing it. Obviously, the first one is like directories where we want to be anywhere we can post our company name and get a link to it, get a link to our website through the directory. It’s not really going to improve the SEO that much, but at the same time, anyone on that platform that searches for you might come to your website. So that’s one area.
Another area is focusing on industry articles. So, finding blog posts that are already out there that are on major websites that have information that’s maybe outdated or could be updated or it’s linking to something that’s broken, and we have content on our website that could replace that link and it would improve the website. So, industry articles is another huge area where we generate a lot of links.
And then guest blog posts is probably the biggest area, and where we focus most of our time, when we were building the business. So, we do outreach to other agencies and other software providers and service providers within the Amazon space. We do content exchanges there, allowing us to reach each other’s audience, get links that way.
And apart from that, just YouTube videos, the syndicated websites like Business 2 Community, business.com, Medium. So, we’re kind of posting links everywhere we can to get out there. And then another big one and the new one that I’m working on now is, obviously, podcasts and video on other people’s websites, webinars, things like that, so.
[00:34:33] How do you… I’ve always struggled— I’ve never been a big guest poster because every time I think about. “Well, if I’m going to create this really great piece of content, I kind of want it to be on my own site for the SEO benefits. How do you grapple with that?
- It’s definitely a balancing act. It really depends on the website we’re working with. So, if we’re looking at, we’re comparing like, how our website is ranked in the domain authority or how strong it is compared to the website that we’re trying to rank on. While it is good for us to try to put the best content on our website, we also realize, if we write a good piece of content for a website that ranks really well on Google, there’s a lot of opportunity for people to find that article that we wrote, see we wrote it, find our links, and come to our website that way.
[00:35:26] A lot more leverage.
- Yeah, exactly. So, but likewise if we’re writing one for a website that doesn’t have as great of domain authority, we’ll probably write something that we are already ranking well for, we’re just trying to build more links to it. And it won’t cover that topic exactly. It’ll be more of—I won’t say a listicle—but it’ll answer multiple things within the article. And one section of the article will link to whatever we’re trying to rank for better. But yeah,
that’s the way we really approach it. It really depends on how good of the website, how great the website that we’re writing the blog post for is ranked on Google, and how good their SEO is.
[00:36:07] Okay, so I want to actually transition a little bit and talk about Mexico.
- Yeah. I can talk about it.
[00:36:16] So, you’ve been there for three years. I know from speaking with you off-camera beforehand that it’s been a pretty good adventure for you. And a lot of what you’ve been describing so far in the interview requires a fair amount of labor. And the labor in Mexico is, from what you’ve told me, pretty talented and a lot less expensive than the labor in the US. What can you tell me about that? Or what can you tell the audience about that? Because you already told me.
- Yeah, no, being here has been great for our business. We have an office here and, like I said, it’s empty right now. But there are people here, I swear. There’s 11 people here right now. We have one in Monterrey and we have one in Playa del Carmen. So, they’re kind of spread out all over Mexico, primarily here in Guadalajara. We found that as we were growing, we were paying freelancers for graphic design, for content writing, whatever it was. And we were paying them rates that were like twenty, twenty-five dollars an hour. And myself and one of my friends down here who runs a different business, we’re thinking about it. And we were like, “There’s got to be a cheaper way to do this.”
So, what we found out is that by bringing our content teams down here, bringing them inhouse, we were able to hire graphic designers for a much cheaper cost than we were in the US or even in the Philippines, because all these freelancers are asking more money. So, we were getting people from platforms like FreeUp and Upwork, where they’re asking twenty, twenty-five dollars an hour. Versus here in Mexico, we’re getting people for about ten dollars an hour. So, it’s a huge cost savings when we have to put out more content for our clients. And that was something we just we’re doing more and more of as we were growing.
So, from a cost perspective, it’s incredible. But when you also think about one of the main challenges that people have when they think about outsourcing is language or time zone. So, a lot of people that outsource to Asia deal with the time zone issue and possibly the language issue, depending on where it is. And a lot of those people aren’t client facing. But the advantage for us is that being here in Mexico, we have a lot of people that are either native English because they grew up in the US and came back or they’ve been learning English their entire life. And they work for English companies or they work for European companies, they’re communicating in English all the time.
[00:38:29] No issue.
- Yeah. So, we were able to hire a lot of talent. And we’ve hired people from big companies, too, like HP, IBM. Literally any big company or any multinational company that’s here in Mexico, we can hire people from. And they probably enjoy it more because they’re more engaged. We have a better work environment than working in a massive office building. So, we found a lot of people enjoy working with us as well.
[00:38:57] If you weren’t a resident of Guadalajara, if you were trying to manage your Mexican team remotely, how much more difficult do you think that would be?
- I think it just really depends on how clear your communication channels are. And this was the problem we had when we were working with people in Asia, is that we were always dealing with time zone difficulties. It was leading to project delays. And they’d send one message when they were going offline. We’d answer it. We wouldn’t get a message until we’re going online and then.
[00:39:28] I know, I’ve been using people in Asia for years, trust me, I get it.
- Yeah, exactly. It’s like one of the biggest hurdles that we dealt with. I think it’s possible here in Mexico to manage it remotely, and we have a lot of friends that do that, we have a company in New York that we kind of partnered with and help them hire a team down here. And they do it completely remote. And I’ve seen other companies do it differently. So, for example, one company that was doing payments here in our office building, they have a 24-hour live webcam between their office in the US and their office here. So, in real time, they’re asking questions to each other. If they have a concern, if they’re not afraid— or if they don’t know the answer to something, they want to communicate ideas, it’s like they’re all there in one office because they’re sharing webcams and they’re able to answer each other’s questions.
So that’s one way to handle it. And even just using technology like Slack is the big one we use and our team’s completely remote now because of COVID. So, Slack is great for communicating with everyone. We haven’t had any issues that way. So, it’s completely possible to run a team fully remotely. Being in the U.S. and having a team here, whether you have an office or not, that’s your decision. But yeah, it’s pretty simple to do so.
[00:40:40] So you had the office with people sitting around you for a few years and then COVID happened and now for, I’m guessing, maybe six months or something in that neighborhood, you’ve been remote. Have you noticed any measurable impact in productivity one way or the other as a result of the move to being remote?
- No, we haven’t really noticed anything. We made some changes internally. So, prior to the whole COVID situation, we were paying our graphic designers more of a fixed salary instead of paying them on a project basis. And we made that shift. We noticed the hours have gone down, that we’re billing for. So, we’re actually paying a lot less, which was a huge cost savings. But the issue wasn’t so much that they were doing less work. It’s that we were cutting back on the amount of work we were doing for clients because some clients were taking advantage of it and trying to run it up. So, yeah, it’s a different story.
But no, when it comes to our account management, we have account managers here that are client facing because they have such good English skills, no issues there. Really no issues at all that’s been going pretty smoothly for us.
[00:41:47] And what about culturally? I know, for example, when you work with Filipinos, culturally they’re very, very different than Americans. How is the cultural difference with dealing with Mexicans versus Americans?
- We actually, and this is my belief just after spending so much time here, Americans and Mexicans are very similar culturally. There’s probably some differences at the family level. Like Latino families are much closer together and Mexican families are much closer together than a lot of American families are. But when we look at the U.S. population, there are—oh, I forgot the number—I think, 60 million Spanish speakers, so coming from Latin America. And 40 million of them are Mexican. So, we’re looking at roughly, what, 15% of the entire U.S. population has some tie to Mexico.
And a lot of that consumerism and a lot of the other things that we associate with American families, it’s very similar here. People want to have nice cars. They want to go shopping. They want to go out. They’re very dedicated to work. So, I think in the U.S., one of the big differences, we see a lot more people that are entrepreneurial and willing to try new businesses or take larger risks. People here are more conservative because I think of that family connection. They want to be more secure. Job security is very important to them. They don’t leave jobs as frequently. Benefits are extremely important.
So, I think those are probably the biggest cultural differences. But work wise, they work the same as Americans, and we actually find that they’re more productive than the American employees that we’ve had in the past. So that’s why we continue to focus on hiring more people here in Mexico.
[00:43:30] What’s healthcare like in Mexico? Do they have a plan like Canada where it’s all provided for free, or is it like the US where you’ve got to pay for insurance?
- There is public and private. So the basic insurance, and it really depends company to company. So, for example, there are a lot of Silicon Valley companies that are moving here to Guadalajara because the cost of the developers is so much less. But they’re getting really good benefits here. So they’ll get full health insurance coverage like completely fine.
Other companies that aren’t in the tax base, you can offer different levels of insurance coverage or medical benefits to fit whatever it is to attract the talent they need. The health care system, they have the public system, which is called IMSS, I-M-S-S, and that is like the basic one where if you have a job, you’re paying for IMSS, you can use IMSS. And any major surgeries and things like that are usually handled by IMSS. But you also have private insurance for a lot of the private hospitals that are here, and the private hospitals are also phenomenal.
So, just to give you a difference in the idea of what the cost is for private insurance here compared to the U.S. Before I left the U.S., I was paying about $300 a month for my own personal health insurance plan. And I think the only coverage— I think I had like a $7500 deductible, I had—I don’t even know—terrible copays. Yeah, it was horrible. I think the only thing I got that was actually beneficial was like a once a year checkup. Here, I have coverage up to, I think five million dollars for emergencies, and I’m paying about a thousand dollars a year. So, compared to what I was…
[00:45:15] A thousand bucks a year, do you have a copay, deductible, any of that?
- I have a deductible. I think it’s a thousand dollars. It’s really not that much. And I have a copay, but the copay is also very not that much because—
[00:45:29] Like 20 bucks for a doctor’s visit or something like that?
- Yeah, it’s super cheap. I’ve been to the hospital once here and I think I paid a hundred dollars for the hospital visit because that was before I had insurance and that was for dengue. So that was for something that was actually kind of serious. But the cost of healthcare here is way cheaper, which makes it way cheaper to hire employees here as well.
[00:45:53] And the quality of the care in your opinion, having lived most of your life in the US with U.S. health care, what would you say?
- It’s almost the same. I think the access to some technologies are maybe not as pervasive as they are in the US. But there are hospitals in almost every city that have whatever technology you need for whatever treatment may be. A lot of the doctors here actually trained in the US, and a lot of the doctors in the U.S. are actually trained here. And it’s kind of a funny story. When I was born, the gynecologists or the obstetrician, he actually went to school here in Guadalajara. So, my mom came across that one day. When she was looking things up and looking up his background. She was like, “Oh, he went to the University of Guadalajara.” And I’m like, “That’s where my girlfriend went.” That’s crazy. It’s right down the street from me. I can’t even believe it. So yeah, no, health care access, it’s pretty similar. The quality, I haven’t really seen any issues with the quality or anything.
[00:46:54] Do you ever see yourself moving back to the U.S.?
- That’s a tough one. Certain areas of the US possibly. I’m from Connecticut originally. I particularly don’t like the cold that much, although I love to go skiing and snowboarding. I think maybe some areas like the Southeast, maybe the Southwest, I would probably go to, maybe Hawaii. I don’t know, maybe I can dream. But I need to be somewhere warm. So, in the short term probably not, but maybe in the future, once I have a family and kids, things like that, maybe I’ll consider it.
[00:47:31] So kids is an interesting topic. And I know we’re getting way off topic and if people aren’t interested, they do not— but my wife and I have talked about, “Maybe we should live in Mexico.” And of course, we have a daughter. Do you have any, you don’t have kids yet, right?
- No, I don’t.
[00:47:47] Yeah. So, you probably can’t speak to what education in Mexico is like versus here in the U.S.?
- I don’t. But I do know that there are a lot of international schools here. So, I know here in Guadalajara we have American International, which is actually just a few blocks from my office. There is a Canadian international school that’s supposedly one of the best schools here. There’s also a German international school, which is supposed to be a very good school as well.
So, yeah, I mean, education wise for private schools, there’s a lot of available. I really don’t know much about the public side of it.
[00:48:18] Well, with that statement, you made me think of a different question. So how multicultural is Guadalajara? Is there a lot of people who are not Mexican, who are from other places in the world, living there?
- Oh, yeah, there are a lot of multinational companies here. And because of that, you get a lot of people from other countries that are living in Guadalajara as well. So, in addition to a lot of Americans and Canadians that actually move here for retirement, or they move here to build companies, whatever it may be, there is also a lot of French, a lot of German that are coming over and working for French and German companies here. There are a lot of Japanese that are working for Japanese companies. The next state over from here is called Aguascalientes, and Honda has a huge plant there and that city has a ton of Japanese.
So, it’s very multicultural in Mexico. You can find pretty much anyone wherever you go. There’s a lot of Indians here because of the tech companies. So, a lot of people relocate from all over the world to go to Guadalajara. So, you’ll be walking around certain neighborhoods like, where I am right now, it’s called Providencia. It’s very multicultural. Another one is Americana, also very multicultural. And you could hear like 10 different languages walking one block. And it’s kind of interesting.
[00:49:30] So if you didn’t speak a word of Spanish living in Guadalajara would be a piece of cake?
- Certain areas. Yeah, if you’re in the multicultural areas, you really wouldn’t have any issues at all. And in general, the people that have gone to school that are educated, they pretty much all speak some level of English. So, you can get by without having to know any Spanish.
[00:49:52] But you’re going to pick it up over time anyway, how could you not?
- It depends. It all depends on how much you’re engaging with other people. If all your friends are American expats, then it’s probably going to be harder. But if you’re out there shopping, talking to locals, figuring out how to do everything in Spanish, then yeah, you’re going to pick it up. The level of my Spanish now compared to my level of Spanish three years ago—it’s night and day.
[00:50:15] Yeah. How many people live in Guadalajara?
- I think it is 4.5 million right now?
[00:50:22] And in the summertime, how hot does it get?
- It’s actually the rainy season here during the summer. So, in May is probably the hottest month of the year, and May gets to about 95, 96. And right now we’re coming out of the rainy season and it’s probably about 75, 78? So, it’s not bad at all.
[00:50:46] And in January?
- January. January is a crazy time. It will get down at night sometimes to zero, but during the day it’ll be like 75, 80. So it’s a huge change.
[00:50:59] Yeah, that’s nice. Alright, well, we’ve gone down that rabbit hole long enough. I was asking some specific questions because I’m going to get my wife to listen to this particular interview, as well as my business partner.
- Hey, any questions you have about Mexico, about starting businesses down here, and moving down here, I’m always glad to answer them, so don’t worry about that.
Mike Begg’s Bright Ideas
- Build Rapport With Your Leads
- Maximize Your Content
- Select the Right Keywords
- Pay Close Attention to Your Audience’s Needs
- Audit Your Content
- Expand Your Links
Build Rapport With Your Leads
Cold emails are one of the most common strategies for getting leads. However, communication is not so simple. It starts by reaching out and offering a solution to their problems based on the service you provide.
Mike talks about building and nurturing relationships with your leads, as well as websites and blogs where you can guest post. He stresses that the key to getting more responses is to understand their problem and provide value where you can.
He says, “Asking how you can provide value is always better than just saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got this.’ You’re really not going to get many responses that way.”
Maximize Your Content
Mike and his team started publishing blogs as it was the least challenging type of content and gradually moved to video production. These videos, which they post on their YouTube channel, are interviews with eCommerce experts. To maximize these videos, interviews are broken down into each question and are posted separately.
Since video production is at the heart of their content marketing strategy, they also repurpose their videos by generating more blog articles for their website and translating transcripts into different languages. This way, their content would have a wider and more diverse audience.
To increase their ranking, Mike is also a contributing writer on websites such as business.com and Business 2 Community. They create new posts that can fit a piece of their content for which they are trying to rank.
He says, “We’re creating content on a variety of different areas. But it all centers around the video content we’re creating.”
Select the Right Keywords
Generating content does not stop at having them written. Selecting keywords and making sure your content is optimized are just as crucial. Mike breaks down their process of boosting their ranking amid the competition in three points:
- Mike and his team mainly use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush for their keyword research.
- They also do competitor keyword research and check for content where they aren’t ranking. The goal is to rank higher for those keywords.
- Utilizing their links on secondary websites like Business 2 Community helps boost their ranking.
Mike says, “So, we’re looking at both what we’re not looking for and then where we think we can improve our ranking based on how competitive it is and what the competitors are ranked in comparison to us.”
Pay Close Attention to Your Audience’s Needs
Mike discovered that one way to generate traffic to their website is to be direct in addressing people’s needs. As an Amazon brand management agency, giving direct answers has given them good wins.
“What we found is that a lot of the people that are searching for stuff specific to Amazon—our audience, pretty much—they’re asking questions on Google. So, ‘How do I do this?’ ‘What do I do for this?’ So, we found that actually answering the questions was a better result for us for getting quick easy wins and getting that traffic to our website,” he says.
Paying attention to people’s queries and asking the eCommerce experts the same questions in their interviews make good content. Expert knowledge integrated with their own content helps them rank better on Google searches.
Audit Your Content
When auditing your content, think about the 80–20 rule. This simply means figuring out the 20% of your content that gives 80% of your traffic. To date, AMZ Advisers has created about 400 blog posts in the last five years. From these articles, they simply unpublish posts that do not generate traffic on their website anymore.
Mike says, “You realize quickly what content is actually driving people and what’s not, and you’re better off just cutting out the content. We’ve unpublished a lot of blog posts that we put out that just don’t generate traffic.”
He also explains that one of the trade-offs of content marketing is spending resources on creating content regarding a specific platform that won’t be relevant in the long run. This makes auditing and refreshing your content with the 80–20 important.
Expand Your Links
An effective strategy does not stop at creating good and engaging content—you must also consider content distribution. In order to achieve this, Mike says that you need to expand your network, thus potentially reaching more audience.
Here are some ways on how to build and expand your links:
- Add your company name and website on different platforms and directories.
- Look for industry articles on major websites that have outdated information or broken links. You can find content on your website to replace the links, thus directing people to your content.
- Reach out to other agencies and service providers.
- Do content exchanges to expand your network. Utilize syndicated websites to widen your audience.
LinkedIn has also been an effective platform for the Amazon brand management agency. In addition to these, Mike is currently exploring other platforms such as podcasts and webinars, where they can also leverage the audience and knowledge of their guests.
[04:15] — About AMZ Advisers
- AMZ Advisers is an Amazon brand management agency based in Guadalajara, Mexico.
- They help brands and manufacturers increase their on Amazon by creating a marketing strategy that covers Amazon SEO and on- and off-platform advertising and traffic.
[06:00] — How AMZ Advisers attracts clients
- Mike saw the need for them to build authority.
- They regarded themselves as an individual contractor in UpWork, a website for freelancers.
- Their team created as much content as possible—from articles to answering queries, talking about specific features on the Amazon platform.
- They worked their way up and now have 20,000 unique visitors per month on their website.
[07:41] — Finding and closing leads
- They have lesser leads on Upwork because people from the platform invest small. Many of their clients are from big multibillion companies.
- Majority of the leads they close come from their website and from cold emails.
[12:18] — Content creation as a marketing strategy
- They started with blog articles because it was less challenging than doing video content. The company gradually moved to do video content.
- Their videos feature and interview eCommerce experts and are maximized through breaking each question down into separate videos.
- These videos also provide new topics and ideas for more blog posts on their website.
- To expand their audience, Mike also writes for other business platforms. These secondary sites are used to link specific content back to their website.
[14:56] — Selecting keywords
- They spend a lot of time doing keyword research and competitor keyword research.
- Looking at what their competitors are writing about enables them to improve their own content and make changes where necessary.
[18:26] — Updating your content
- They go through their website every six months to audit content and monitor performance.
- Their posts are updated for recency. Articles that don’t generate traffic are unpublished.
[25:36] — On content promotion and distribution
- Content creation has two challenges: first is creating content and the other is distributing it.
- Social media, partnerships, blog exchanges, and weekly newsletters are a few good ways to reach people.
- For the services they offer, Reddit, LinkedIn, and YouTube have been effective platforms for distribution and promotion.
- Video is more effective than written content.
[25:36] — Building links
- Build more networks through outreach.
- It is important to write the best content for your website. But writing good content for other websites that rank well may also be an opportunity to make people notice your brand.
[36:16] — Working with and across cultures
- Mike has experience working with diverse teams with different cultures. This includes Asians, Americans, and Mexicans.
- They initially worked with freelancers but realized that it would be more cost-effective to hire and bring his Mexican team in-house.
- Some challenges in working with Asian freelancers include timezone and language differences.
- They are focusing on hiring more people from Guadalajara. He noted that they are more productive than the American employees they had in the past.
[43:30] — Life in Mexico
- Health care and insurance is cheaper.
- In the short term, Mike does not see himself moving back to the US.
- Guadalajara is a very diverse place. It is a melting pot of different cultures.
Michael Begg is the Co-Founder, CMO and Chief Strategist of AMZ Advisers. He is Amazon marketing professional with over 7 years of experience selling and consulting on Amazon.
Mike and his team have been able to achieve incredible growth on the Amazon platform for their clients by optimizing and managing their accounts, creating in-depth content marketing strategies and running effective off-platform marketing campaigns. He is also the President of Bosque de Talentos, a nearshoring venture providing high-quality talent to foreign businesses. Mike runs these businesses as well as many other ventures from his home-base in Guadalajara, Mexico.