In today’s episode, my guest is Daniel Daines-Hutt. Daniel is a self confessed marketing nerd with a background in Direct Response advertising, but ironically, he is best known for his content marketing skills. Daniel had the top 10 content of all time on and top content of 2017 and again in 2018 on GrowthHackers. He’s also had a viral post generate $3 million in client requests in 2 weeks. If you want to understand how to win the SEO war, then this is an interview you are going to love!

Full Transcript

Trent: My guest on the show today is a fellow by the name of Daniel Daines-Hutt, and he is a self-confessed marketing nerd with a background in direct response advertising. But ironically, it is his content marketing that people know him best for. He had the top 10 content of all time on and the top content of 2017 and again in 2018 on Growth Hackers. He’s also had viral posts, or rather had a viral post generate 3 million in client requests in just two weeks. Please join me in welcoming Daniel to the show. Hey Daniel, welcome to the Bright Ideas podcast, good to have you here.

Daniel: Thank you so much for having me. I’m pumped to be on the show.

Trent: Yeah and tearing yourself away from that beach in the summertime that you’re in versus us here in North America who are experiencing cold weather and winter.

Daniel: It’s funny you say that because Christmas is just past at the time of recording and it’s usually a little bit gray at Christmas and then it gets really nice about now. Christmas was 30 degrees but today is like 20, 22, so it’s like a 10 degree drop in temperature. So, it’s actually been quite cold today, so it’s like we don’t know what’s going on.

Trent: Everyone that is listening to this podcast right now is silently giving you the bad.

Daniel: I know right.

Trent: All right, so the folks who’ve been listening this far have heard me read your bio in the introduction to the show, but let’s get it from you in your own words, who are you and what do you do?

Daniel: So, my name is Daniel Daines-Hutt. I’m an Englishman in New Zealand. I actually had an e-commerce business at one point. So, we were about to get kicked out the country and I was kind of looking for loopholes and I saw that you could have an entrepreneurship visa. So, I created a clothing company overnight within five weeks around five retail stores. That didn’t really well but we never really built out the systems for distribution and things that we could have so we ended up selling that company. We learned all the marketing and things like that, and eventually evolved, right now we do paid promotion case studies and things like this in content writing and then we share those guides on our blog.

So in that time, we’ve had like the top 10 content of all time on, which is no longer around but it’s a marketing forum and we’ve also had the top content of 2017 and 2018 on Growth Hackers, content shared by like the biggest guys in the industry. And so we thought, we probably should teach people how to do this. So, we’ve just been writing case studies about all that kind of stuff.

Trent: Okay. And because — let’s tie this in, because my audience typically expects me to introduce or interview rather ecommerce experts. Why do you think that someone who’s in Ecom should give two hoots about content?

Daniel: Well, the thing I want to talk about, we wrote this big guide about paid promotion of content. Right now, I was listening to your episode with Dave Woodward of Click Funnels where the customer acquisition cost is getting much higher and it’s becoming more difficult and competitive. Chances are high but e-commerce stores anyway, if you’ve got a website, they’re trying to get some Google traffic; they probably have content assets anyway. But 99% of people are just not leveraging that content effectively, but churn out more and more and more and all they’re doing is entertaining the audience they already have instead of bringing new people in.

So, a big focus that we’ve had at the moment, it’s kind of how we put our foot in the door is teaching how to promote blog posts using Facebook ads. Now it seems super basic and it really is, it’s not that difficult to do. But for example, right now, for every dollar we spend on Facebook ads, we make $22 in return. We are pushing people from a cold audience who’ve never heard of us to a piece of content, from that they become a subscriber and then by email automation and things, we get sales.

Trent: Sales of what?

Daniel: So, we actually have what’s called the Amplify Content Academy, which was all our SOPs, and things that we had for internal training that we then built and we got customers and things on to that. So we teach people how to write more effectively. So, our content gets between a 17 and an 83% opt in rate, which is unheard of. It’s incredibly effective. And then we also teach people how to leverage, how to do paid ads, how to do promotion, podcasts, SEO, things like that. So it’s an all in one kind of Academy for people who want to write better and promote well. So we sell that course. And obviously it does have a higher ticket but it’s also has lower conversion rates because of that, we might only sell one to 2% of our leads.

Trent: So all the things that we’re going to talk about in this interview, are they also going to be equally applicable to people who are selling a physical product of some kind?

Daniel: Totally. So, we actually help a friend of ours who has a — they have a retail store and they also sell by distribution and they also do online sales. It’s a like a high end women shoe. So it’s probably four times the price of what anyone else is selling. And they’re creating content and from doing this, they’re seeing higher subscribers because we know that email is a very easy channel to sell to no matter what you’re on, but especially in e-commerce. Most people are that much easier to become a repeat customer, things like this. So, if you are trying to drive an audience to get subscribers, to get sales, it’s going to be highly relevant, especially if you’ve got content assets that you’ve had created that are not generating the ROI that you would like.

Trent: So, before we get into your process for doing this, a phrase that I heard maybe a month ago, and I think it was Neil Patel, I’m trying to give attribution but it was like content is like software. And it really resonated with me because now I own a software company as well. And the point of it was this, and I think I was guilty of this for many years, unlike software, so for someone who creates content let’s say an article typically creates that article and then you make another one and another one and another one and another one. And in fact, it was Neil that said this, he was saying, well; why not treat content like software? People who own software companies don’t continually make new software companies; they work on making their software better by adding more features.

So, I was immediately able to draw the parallel between the two, because I’m like, okay, so if you have a cornerstone piece of content, couldn’t and shouldn’t that piece of content be updated on a regular basis and new pieces being added into it on a regular basis and really treat it like a work of art and spend more time promoting that now hugely valuable and timely and relevant piece of content versus just cranking out new articles all the time.

Daniel: Exactly. I’m a little bit contradictory in our thinking in that I think traffic is a bonus to your content. In reality, I worked in retail for years, and it’s where a lot of our ideas kind of overlap. You almost have the same conversation again and again with different people to sell the same product. Your content ideally should be able to attract that right person and convert that person into a customer. So, you don’t need to have all these different variations, you simply need to have that conversation with more and more people. So, the more you refine that conversation, almost like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day where he has the conversation that didn’t work, and then he tries it again the next day and started tweaking over it.

So, you can keep improving those things and you can see higher conversions and higher opt-ins. But then you can also — we have the beauty that we can scale it outwards. And as it is getting more competitive out there, and Facebook and these social channels and pay channels, they’re trying to improve their user experience. They don’t want to push people straight to a sales page where they bounce them and they click on your ad and say, don’t show this to me anymore. If they get a bad experience, they’re more likely to leave the Facebook platform, and so they are making it more difficult for people to do this.

So it makes total sense if you already have a content asset, and you can just keep updating and improving that and then drive people to it. All you’re doing is your content is your retail store, the paid ad is a bus dropping people off outside the door, and you just bring them in, right? And so, it’s just leveraging those more effective things to kind of work smart lazy. I think a big problem is we copy what we see, and a lot of the channels who are publishing content, they’re media houses. They are paid for eyeballs on an advert.

And so, they want the same person to come back 10 times in a day because they’ll get paid 10 times for that view of an advert, when in reality as a business owner, even if it’s a physical product or something like that, you don’t need that person to see 10 pieces of content from you. You need them to come and then you need that piece of content to convert them. Sure, there might be a couple of touch points, but it doesn’t mean you need to have 100 blog posts by the end of the year, if that makes sense. So, it’s kind of a sticking point for me because I know a lot of people who do own retail stores and they do own e-commerce stores. And when they finally sit down to do content, they think they need to churn out all these pieces and they really don’t have to.

It’s not to say it doesn’t work, but it only works if you are promoting effectively all those pieces. There’s actually negative SEO effects if you’re just churning out content all the time, it actually brings down the traffic of your better content. But that’s nerd stuff.

Trent: Yeah, interesting. Well, I’m not going to go too far down that rabbit hole just yet. So okay, let’s unpack your process by where you would basically walk me through an example. So, what’s the example going to be?

Daniel: So, it is ridiculously simple. But like most things, it’s the subtleties that have the biggest effect. So like I said, it really is just a paid advert to a cold audience, so totally blue ocean. It takes into a piece of content that you have. So that could be top of funnel, it might even be a new article that you’ve written. From there, there’s some kind of call to action or opt-in offer because if we can get the subscriber we know we’re more likely to convert them, we can keep those touch points. But it’s also if they opt in, there’s this commitment and consistency principle where they’re almost 40% more likely to say yes to something else if they said yes to a small thing.

So, by actually getting that email first, they’re more likely to take your offer if that makes sense. There’s so many benefits about building these assets and stuff. So, it’s an advert to a content, to an opt-in, and then you’ve got all kinds of email back end and stuff to make sales. Most people will have that already. But that’s all it really is. It’s just how we create the content, how we write the advert and then…

Trent: Well, let’s dive in; let’s take this one step at a time. Let’s talk about creating the content because I’m actually doing this right now, as an experiment for my Bright Ideas blog, there’s a particular phrase that I want to rank number one for. It’s really relevant for my niche, and the type of reader, listener, viewer that I’m trying to attract to my platform. And so, I looked at what’s ranking for that now, how long are those articles? What do they look like? And I’ve actually hired a writer, a US based writer to do this for me, because I don’t want to write it, and a lot of — so let’s dive into the planning phase. So, I had to pick a keyword that I wanted to go after. I had to look at the competition, but walk me through your process for planning a particular piece of cornerstone content, and maybe we should even define what cornerstone content is.

Daniel: So, people will create different content assets, and a cornerstone piece is usually something that is a specific high traffic keyword but it’s also something that they’ve put a lot of effort in. It’s really polished; they’ve done a lot of promotion. My argument is you shouldn’t create anything that isn’t cornerstone because you might as well leverage the things that you have. It’s almost like we have all these fields, these crops, and we’re only watering like two or three, and we’re letting the rest just get rainwater whenever. You’re better off just focusing on the ones you have. So, I’m going to jump a couple of steps ahead so it makes sense then come back.

When people are trying to write adverts, the biggest thing is understanding the audience and doing the research. Now, what I will actually do is I’ll do the research before I even write the content because if I can understand the audience before I write the article, it’s then very easy to write an advert that connects without that article if that makes sense. So, a big thing that I will do is I will do a series of interviews with people, usually on my subscriber list. I will try and find people who have solved the problem already. They’re the hottest people; they should already be customers for your offer, and I’ll explain why in a sec.

I will interview people who are not quite there yet, who are on the fence. They understand the problem; they understand the solution, how to move forward, and then I will interview people who are the coldest possible away from that point. Because what I want to do, if you think of it as marketers, our job is simply this person has a problem, this product solves this problem and our goal is to help connect the dots between those things. The reason I interview people who’ve already done that, people don’t do what they say, and they don’t say what they mean. It’s why our Netflix algorithm shows these TV shows that we don’t like, really we watch four seasons of The Gilmore Girls and that’s why they keep showing it to us kind of thing.

By speaking to people who’ve already solved the problem, they will give you an actual real answer. They won’t just tell you what they you think you want to hear. They will say, I wanted to get more traffic because it was stressful, I didn’t know where the next sale was coming from, I wanted to spend time with my partner and my kids. The person who has the problem won’t tell you that, they tell you they want more traffic to grow that business, which is good. But if we try and talk to those people to get them to buy, that’s not the thing that’s going to convert them. It is that pain point of less anxiety and all these kind of things. So, I can connect the dots between those two.

Then the third person who’s the most far removed, I can write an ad that connects between those two because the guy who’s about to buy, he has an epiphany, an aha moment about the pain points. He suddenly realized that there was a problem and there is a solution. So, the answer they give is going to help us connect with that person who is very far removed. So, this helps me write an ad that takes someone from very cold to that aha moment and then connect with the actual reason they want to buy afterwards. So, our ads right now, they have like a 60% conversion rate that they are, and we’re getting opt-ins for 53 cents New Zealand, which is like 30 cents US something like that, and we can actually afford to spend up to $23. So, it’s a very effective ad to a very effective piece of content.

But like I say, I do all that research before I even write an article because that way I can make sure that I call out to those things in the content, and I can also write the advert much easier because it connects the dots between the two. I can hit those emotional levers if we got them if that makes sense. I don’t really nerd out about this.

Trent: When you’re doing the interviews with each of these three groups of people, how many people are you interviewing in each group, and then how are you collecting and storing the data so that the important conclusions rise to the top, because you could interview a bunch of people and not take good notes and not store the information in the right way and you’re really not any better off.

Daniel: Exactly. So, I will do what we’re doing now, usually on Skype, because I’m in New Zealand and our customers around the world. Either will record it and chat exactly as we are now and I will transcribe my notes. The reason being, I’m looking for mirror language that they use and I’m looking for specific pain points. So, there’s certain questions and things that I’ll ask and will use Socratic questioning so we’ll try and find the reason behind and the reason behind and reason behind that.

Trent: For people who don’t know what Socratic questioning is, please explain that.

Daniel: So Toyota has a simpler thing where they call it the five wise in product design. We have a problem. Why is it a problem? Okay, well, why is that problem occurring and why is this and why is this? And you find out it’s because the guy at the bottom of the line doesn’t have a new screwdriver and so that’s causing these knock on effects at the end. Same in sales where what I said we would talk to these three people, the person at the very start has a problem, but the reason it’s a problem is x and the reason it’s a problem is this, and then the emotional connection behind it.

So, we’re trying to get five layers deep so we can actually find what drives these people, so we can understand these things. So, I will record that and I will ask a series of questions and things. All the stuff I’m talking about as well is in a guide. It’s all in there like how these questions that we ask how to do this, how to interview, all these things. It’s all in there, so I’ll share that with you. And there’s no pitch or anything on that, people get it for free. But usually I will do one or two from each channel. So, I’ll only ever do six interviews because I need to get started. And it’s very easy to say, I know I need a focus group of 1,000 people to do this, right? But in reality, like, it’s not really tweaking anything that big of a deal.

If you’re Coca Cola, and you’re going to spend like 4 billion on ads, then, yeah, okay, you could speak to more people. But really, you’re just trying to look for overlap and connections that keep coming up. And if you’ve sold the product before, especially in person, you kind of have an idea anyway, because these conversations have happened again, and again and again. So, I’ll do all that so we can figure this out. Also, when we’re writing content, the ability to write less obviously, the content has to be more effective. So, it’s two major things really. We did a lot of research kind of from people smarter than us.

So Jonah Berger, he wrote a contagious how post go viral things like this, why we share things, how we work as a society in a tribe and things like that. And then we also got data points where we looked at BuzzSumo, they did over a million articles. And we looked at what made them effective and which ones actually got links and shares, because there’s certain ways that we can write and get lots of clicks, but it doesn’t convert to sales. So, clickbait headlines and things like this. We’re looking at the role of foundation of what actually makes stuff effective. And then it breaks down to content that has authority, content that has trust, content that has value, so I built a reciprocity so people want to buy from you, they want to pay for it and they want to take action, things like this.

And again, this is all in there. If you break all that down, it’s posts that are 1,000 to 3,000 words because if they’re long enough, then they look like they have authority if you hit certain triggers, if you start talking about social proof or things like that, so emotional points, they trust you. It’s really easy stuff. If it has a lot of images, then suddenly it’s easier to consume and so they don’t bounce off the page. It makes it more actionable and things like this. So, if you just take those boxes, your content is going to be more effective. We actually advise people to go back into an old piece of content and edit it to meet those things. You don’t need to write anything brand new, you simply improve what you have.

We also use an opt-in offer called a hyper specific next step offer. It’s the only thing I use to collect emails, I don’t use anything else. I cut out the sidebar and all these other things, so I have a direct response background, so like a paid ads background. I want people to take an action. So, the hyper specific next step offer, it’s relevant to one article and one article alone. So, it is very unique to that thing. So the chances of someone opting in are really high, it’s also the next step that they would like to take. So for example, we have an article, a different article where we tell people how to do this and we walk it through.

The next step is, hey, there’s like five two minute videos that you can watch and you can say, okay well, here is my email provider and then I connect with this and when I do this. The opt-in rate on there is about 40% because it makes sense because we’ve got them excited about a thing and then we gave them an action to take the thing. So, it’s unique to that. I don’t offer it anywhere else because opt-ins won’t work anywhere else. It’s not relevant. So it’s like the next thing you would want to do. So you have to have those assets. You have to have a piece of content that works and converts.

If you’ve got the budget to just run a heap of paid ads, a lot of people will happily run traffic to something that only gets a very low conversion. If you want to be very smart about it, you improve those two things. And then you’ll get higher conversions organically, higher conversions from traffic and things like this. And again, I get really nerdy, so like, stop me and things like that, because otherwise I’ll just go off on tangents.

Trent: No, I want you to get deep into the weeds because the people who listen to my show, that’s what they expect. So, I don’t think we’ve done a sufficient job yet of explaining how you plan a piece of content. So, I want you to stay focused on answering that question.

Daniel: So, if we look at content, there’s kind of eight archetypes throughout all time, like the hero’s journey and things like this. If we look at those from a business perspective, there are certain pieces of content that do certain things. So, we have to ask what the goal is. For example, if I wanted to get a heap of backlinks to get better SEO…

Trent: Well, let me interrupt if I may, because I’d like to make a case study out of this. So, we’ll use me as the guinea pig. So, I want to attract more people to my blog who want to sell on Amazon because I have products for them, I can monetize that traffic. So, key phrase, how to sell on Amazon. Okay, so I know what my keyword is, I want to create an epic piece of content that has a high probability of ranking number one, walk me through, take from that point, walk me through to the point where I now have an outline for that post. What does that bit of research and planning look like for you?

Daniel: Okay, so we have to ask, how are you going to get people to it? If you want SEO, if you want to rank…

Trent: SEO, Google search.

Daniel: Well, let’s think of how SEO works. We rank in Google from people with websites linking to us and your customers don’t have websites. So, if we write just for the customer and a piece of content, it will convert but chances are high it won’t get links because they don’t have that asset, they can’t link to us. So, if we want to get a lot of links, we can go out and we can build them and stuff. But we can also be smart about it and look at the people who have the ability to link and what kind of things they link out to. So, you’ll normally find, okay, if I want to link from XYZ blog, they like to link to pieces of unique data. So, if I can put that in there as well, chances are high when I reach out to them, and I’ll link to it and things like this.

So, we have to look at not only the customer, we also have to look at the people who have the ability to actually build those links for us. You don’t have to do that, you can go out and you can build links organically, you could do guest posts and podcasts and LinkedIn and stuff, for that it can be a lot of work. If you [inaudible 00:27:00] in already, and you know that this blog already linked, it’s proven. If I look at all the sites they link to, they always link to stuff that has unique research content. If I just add a few of those things in there, chances are really high, they’re going to link to it. So, we’re trying to find an overlap between those two things if that makes sense.

Trent: It does.

Daniel: So, I’m looking at those posts that have done well already, looking at who is actually linking to those and why they’re linking to them.

Trent: How do you figure out who’s linking to a given post? I’m assuming there’s a tool for that.

Daniel: There’s so many tools, but I like to use this one called Ahrefs which is a really nerdy…

Trent: The paid version, I assume?

Daniel: Yes. So, it starts out and it’s about I want to say $70 a month, something like that. It does have a lot of features that you can use for free but you only have so many tokens to use each time, each week or each day. So, you would literally look at that content; see that who’s linking to it. Sometimes it’s so easy but you can say, oh, okay, well, they posted it on this site. I can also go and post on that site for free. I’ve got that same link now. So you’re already getting the leg up and it’s a really easy way to find out those things.

But you could also look and say, okay, well, this university linked them for some reason. And you see that it’s because it has these unique data points. And maybe they wrote about this in 2016 and linked to it, but yours is now the 2019 version with all the new updates and things like that. You could reach out to them and say, hey, I saw your link to this; we’ve actually updated the content, stuff like that. It could even be, as kind of lazy SEO, ideally, you want to have targets of people who you want to link to you. So you’re saying, I want to link from that website because it has my audience, it could send customers, it has a lot of power to boost my rankings and things.

So, at that point you’re doing it from a research perspective. It’s almost like you’re a young kid, you really fancy this girl, whoever at school, what does she like? And so, you’re finding out what they like and where the overlap is, somewhere you have some kind of connection. So, you’re looking out to those guys and you say, okay, well I like this and then I like this. Same for content, finding what they are proven to link to, and then going out and proactively building that relationship. So, I will look at that research. I will do the customer research and I will find those connections about when I reach out to those people, it’s more likely to happen to, does it make sense?

Trent: Yeah, makes perfect sense.

Daniel: All right, so I have all my research and I know the certain things and boxes I need to take. In reality, if you take off those certain triggers as well like the authority and trust and things, it’s really likely that any site will link to you because the content is miles above everyone else. There are certain archetypes based on certain goals, so an ultimate guide, a white paper really, really good again, a lot of links, not always that good at making sales kind of things like this, so I template out these different things.

So for example, if I was to do a how to guide, I would start off with a brief introduction with the pain point, the desire, a bridge of how to get that result, hey, do you want to learn how to make sales on Amazon? You build a business but it’s not getting traffic right now, I’m going to show you how to do that. Then I will quickly go into some social proof because at that point they’re trying to see is this relevant to me or is it a load of horse crap? So, you can say, I built all these businesses doing XY&Z, and I started at this point and I had to figure out how to get past it. Now they are emotionally invested and at that point you probably already talked to specific mirror language that you got from your interviews.

So, like we’re not even getting into the content yet, we just from a sales page kind of perspective we’re trying to get them involved because if we don’t capture them at that point, they’re going to bounce. It doesn’t matter how good it is or how many rankings you’ve got, or if you’ve got a powerful website, if you lose them at that point, they’re gone again. So, almost all my content is templated for specific things. So, for a how to guide, that is how I will follow and I build the proof. Then I quickly put down the steps of what we’re going to cover because at that point, they’re kind of like, well yes, this is what I want, that’s connected to me. Yes, this guy started out in the same place I am, kind of be asked to do it.

And so, if you say yes, just a couple of steps, you’re going to do this, this and this. They say, okay and then they carry on reading. And then I get into the body of the content. The paid promotion article is ultimate guide. It’s like eight chapters. Chapter one, the first half of the first page is pretty much all of that, it’s building all this emotional connection to get people invested, and by the end of the first page is actually going through the strategy so they can see what it is and then every other chapter is them taking action, so there is a lot of steps, I need you to do this, what, why, how, show me.

So, this is what we’re going to do. This is why you’re going to do it; this is how you do it. You click on this, you do this, you do this. By doing that there’s a lot of images, it makes it very actionable. It’s very valuable. So right now, I have people sharing my paid ads and improving my relevance and lowering my cost because the content that it links to is so actionable that they want to share it with their friends.

Trent: That’s really awesome.

Daniel: Yeah, right. And so it keeps — there is a sneaky way to do that as well. I’ll tell you.

Trent: Well, let’s use that because you’re offering this free guide, I don’t think we need to cover every last detail of every last section because they can get the guide. So, let’s use that as a segue then to start talking about, okay, so now for the purposes of our discussion, let’s assume that your article is published. And you’ve done all the things you need to do to make sure it’s the best article possible. And now you need to promote it. Paid ads obviously is one of the main ways that you’re going to do that. Walk me through how you are now going to promote this new article.

Daniel: So like I said, like you just said, it’s live. I like to do that before I run any paid ads because I want to see how it converts organically. I want to kind of get a baseline idea of how this is working before I run traffic at it. You don’t always have to but it’s nice to say, okay well, my audience is converting to this, so it’s kind of right, I should try and get to with paid ads, does it make sense?

Trent: Yeah.

Daniel: I love talking to e-commerce guys because they’re happy to drop money on ads. So many businesses are so scared of paid ads. So, you guys probably already know this, but you know what a customer is worth, what their lifetime value is worth, one average order value and things like that. You also know how many subscribers to a sale so you know what a subscriber is worth and all of this. If you don’t know those things, don’t start ads yet. Because what will happen is you’ll be so anxious because you don’t know if the ad is working or not, because you’ve got a feedback loop that you don’t understand.

So, you have to know those things right away so you’ve got margins and goalpost to aim for. Like I said, we can spend up to $23 per subscriber, but we’re getting them for like 50 cents, so I can sleep well at night. Even if something goes wrong, I know that we’re going to be profitable even if our conversions drop or turn or whatever. So you have to know those things. After that, it really is quite simple. It’s just designing an ad obviously that goes to a piece of content that opt-in to an offer.

Now, most people I talk to, we do different types of testing. A lot of people that I talk to are normally service businesses who’ve not run paid ads before and they don’t have a huge budget or they’re quite anxious. So, we will do sequence of testing and most of you guys in Ecom, you’ll do multi barrier. So, if you got like a tool like at AdEspresso, it’ll test every headline, every image, every variation. And so, you’re running like 152 ads and you guys have just dropped budget on it to find best performing ad, which is great if you’ve got the money, it’s the fastest way to figure it out.

The technique that we use, and I want to give it here just for people who might be starting out or who want to get to the point where it can actually work and get started with a low budget. Big thing to understand is almost all ads start off at a loss. You might spend $4 and get $1 back. It’s just because maybe the ad doesn’t have enough data points or maybe you’re not, your ad isn’t converting that well, or the opt-in offer isn’t converting that well, things like that. So, be prepared to work at a loss to get data to figure out what works for them of testing. So you test the different variations, find what works, what doesn’t, test the next variation and it improves over time.

So, how a news feed ad, which is what we talk about in the article, because it’s the biggest image for most text, how a news feed ad is consumed is the scrolling down for that feed, you’ve got the text, you’ve got the image, headline, subhead, no one is reading that text above that image just yet. They scroll through ad the first thing is the image gets their attention. It’s almost like flicking through a newspaper and suddenly something catches your eye. So, that’s the most important element at first. What happens next is they don’t read above, they read the headline below because they’re saying, okay well, this relevant to me. Before it gets through to a different area of my brain to actually compute this, is this worth spending any energy on?

And so, the headline intrigues them enough to actually say, yes, this is about you, and then they read that above. So, if you’re testing just AB testing where you’re testing one element at a time, you test the image first to get the most clicks, then you test the headline that resonates most to improve the clicks again and then the ad copy. So, you test those things in that sequence if that makes sense.

Trent: It does.

Daniel: What I will do, and what I don’t see a lot of people doing is I will create a focus group. If you think of the days of like madman where they’ve got like 50 people in the room, and then testing different variations and things, they highly focus at the right audience that people who could be a potential customer. The more segmented and specific you are with your ads, the more Facebook will charge you to show them because it’s supply and demand. The more specific you are, the more it costs, and that’s why a lot of people can’t get an ad that performs at the right margins for them.

So what I will do is I will test this ad with that focus group at first, and I’m prepared to pay more money to show it to them because all I care about are impressions. I want to see what clicks and what doesn’t click, because that way I can find the ad that actually converts with that audience.

Trent: How big is the focus group?

Daniel: 1,000 to 10,000 people, just that, and maybe even 5,000 people.

Trent: And how did you get this focus group?

Daniel: So, I will narrow down based off of interest targeting. So for example, with my paid ads article, I would look at people who have an interest in content marketing, people that are in XYZ blogs, people who are running paid ads, possibly people who are the paid ads employee, so super, super, super niche.

Trent: So you’re just using the Facebook ad platform to target people that meet this criteria and you’re calling it a focus group?

Daniel: Yes, but I’m making it super, super tight. So it might cost $8 a click kind of thing like that. Obviously, it’s too expensive at that point. I don’t care about that at that point. What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to write an advert that really works with these people, these ideal people for this thing because I do all my different tests and the clicks go up and up and up and the cost comes down. Facebook has a machine learning component. So, it actually learns about who interacts with your advert. So, once I’ve got the best performing ad with my focus group, I remove 90% of the segmentation. I just want people who meet XYZ. I might even use a lookalike audience of my current customers.

What will happen is immediately the customer will drop down…

Trent: So let me let me just jump in. So originally, the focus group is dudes between this age and this age, who have a degree who make this much money who like cars and who like golf and who like the great outdoors, and then you run that as your focus group. But by the time you’re actually putting the ad into production, it might just be dudes between this and this age?

Daniel: Kind of. So, I’m really trying to find the person who this article is relevant for. Let’s say, we are a surf company, and we’re selling longboard surfboards or something like that. So we test people who are surfers, who run long boards who might be of a certain demographic or age group, all these different things. And we’re trying to find an ad variation that gets the most clicks. It costs a lot more money to show it to them, but over time, we can say from this test group, this particular ad performs really well with the ideal audience. Then I will remove almost all that segmentation and I will say to Facebook, hey, just show it to surfers who live in XYZ country, much bigger audience, things like that.

Here’s the thing, because the advert works with that customer because we tested it on that focus group, as it gets shown, those people are going to start to resonate with it, people who were not in that focus group but meet the same criteria. The machine learning program picks up on that and it starts to show it to more people like that because it wants your ad to work. It wants you to keep spending money and it wants to give the best experience. So what happens is, your ad starts to become more specific targeting but without you specifying and paying more money for it if that makes sense.

Trent: Yeah, the algorithm is doing it for you.

Daniel: Yeah, but it’s much faster because we’ve tested with this group, so we notice the ad performs with that group. And so, at that point, all we’re doing is expanding outwards and scaling up. So, like I said, it is quite simple, it’s just certain things a lot of old school copywriting principles that people miss out on because we might read an article about this or about this and it’s not relevant to us. Hopefully that makes sense.

Trent: It does. All right, so we’ve covered a lot and I’m going to bring us to conclusion here again because you have this free guide that goes into obviously ridiculous amount of detail for people. And I’ll put the link to that in the show notes for this episode so they’ll be able to come and download it. For people who might want to reach out to you directly to talk maybe about working with you or what have you, what is the single — please don’t list four different ways to get ahold of you, what is the single best way to reach you?

Daniel: You cannot. I don’t do client work anymore. We don’t do any client work. We actually — we used to run an agency and what we found is it’s more effective for us to run ads for ourselves, more cost effective.  You might pay me 10 grand to run a campaign but makes you quarter of a million, I could just take the same time and do it and make a quarter of a million myself. So, we do that now because it fits into our lifestyle and things. But if you want to follow me on social media, so at Twitter, I am @inboundascend, A-S-C-E-N-D.

I’m going to be totally honest, I will share a few pieces of content but mainly photos of my cat and whatever music I’m listening to While I’m writing. I’m very reserved like I’m crazy, but I’m also I’m a big fan of like Cal Newport’S deep work. I don’t have any kind of notifications. You can’t get in touch and things like that. If you’re a subscriber on our list on a piece of content, usually you can reach out. At some point, the academy opens now and again and things so that people can get in that way, but we just — yeah it’s frustrating because the more you tell people that you cannot hire them, the more they want to.

Trent: I know.

Daniel: We get requests almost daily now kind of thing, but yeah. So, you can find us at the blog If you want to see photos of my cat, you can see us on Twitter but that’s it really.

Trent: All right. Well Daniel, thank you very much for making some time to come and be on the show.

Daniel: Thank you so much for having me and I hope it makes sense to people. I will be in the comments and things if people have any, or if you are on a subscribe, just flip, you can flip me an email via that. Yeah thank you so much for your time.

Trent: Okay. To get to the show notes, go to If you enjoyed this episode, please do me a solid and head on over to iTunes and just go to where you can leave a five star review as doing so is the number one way that you can express your gratitude and appreciation to my guests and to myself for producing the episode. If you’d like to connect with me to ask questions about selling on Amazon or about e-commerce in general, I would strongly encourage you to come and become a member of our Facebook group. You can do so at And if you haven’t yet checked out one of my Daily Nugget series videos on YouTube, you can do that at So thanks very much for tuning in and take care and we’ll see you in another episode soon. Bye-bye.

Questions Asked During the Interview

4m30: Why is content important to eCommerce entrepreneurs
6m32: Does all this content marketing work for physical products as well?
8m00: How is creating content like creating software?
11m49: Walk me through an example of your process
14m00: Please share with me your content planning process
17m25: How much are you paying for your cold traffic optins?
18m20: How do you conduct your research interviews?
22m00: How do you recommend people put this to the test?
22m54: What is a hyper-specific next step offer?
25m50: How does SEO work with respect to the article we are talking about?
26m20: How do we get links to our content?
27m30: How do you determine who is linking to a given post?
28m40: How do you determine who you want to link to your post?
30m04: How would you create a how-to guide?
33m10: How are you going to promote your new article?
34m32: How do you design your ads and what is the objective?
35m20: How do you move your ad campaigns from losing money to being profitable?
36m20: What is the most important part of the ad and how does the headline play a role?
38m00: How do you create a focus group on Facebook?
40m10: How do you expand your targeting outside your focus group on Facebook?

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Today’s Guest

Daniel is a self confessed marketing nerd with a background in Direct Response advertising, but ironically, its my Content Marketing that people know him for.

Daniel had the top 10 content of all time on and top content of 2017 and again in 2018 on GrowthHackers. He’s also had a viral post generate $3 million in client requests in 2 weeks.

When not working, Daniel spends his spare time in the ocean or in the mountains, or nerding out with some good sci-fi.

Want to know more? He teaches people how to write less often, but get more traffic, at

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