Building a Boutique Content Marketing Agency with Lilach Bullock

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Lilach Bullock has been a big name in content marketing for a long time. She runs a boutique content marketing agency and works with a variety of businesses by helping them with their blogging, email marketing, and conversions. 

She’ll teach you how to build a profitable blog, build an online business, get more business, and generate traffic. You can even order SEO-friendly content right from her website. In the past, she’s also been a keynote speaker at a number of conferences and events in the industry. We were pleased to welcome her to Agency Ahead today.

The highlights:

  • (1:14) The evolution of content and social.
  • (2:48) Lilach’s approach to content creation.
  • (4:22) Agencies and “house builder syndrome.”
  • (7:35) Where agencies should focus.
  • (8:43) Using content to help salespeople.
  • (12:43) The state of email marketing.
  • (19:53) The future of events.
  • (22:34) Lilach’s causes.

The insights:

The Evolution of content and social

When Lilach first started blogging she was writing 300 words at a time.

“Now it’s very much longer-form content.”

She says she started in social media and evolved into content.

“I’ve always been very obsessed with driving traffic. I could see how content was playing a really critical role, more than it ever was.”

Gone are the days where you can drive traffic by doing social media alone.

Lilach's approach to content creation

Lilach says she sees a lot of people creating what she calls filler content.
“Content just for the sake of it, without any strategy or objectives around it.”
She says right now her goal is to create less content but to make sure it’s really high quality. 
“I try to deep dive into things, go very tactical, and create very long-form content. In the last few months, I’ve written over 100,000 words of content in just four blog posts.”
She said she was really going for certain keywords. She says she is very much writing for two audiences.
“One is my audience, the other is Google. It’s getting that balance between writing and providing huge value, but also writing so that Google ranks me up so I can get found organically.”

Agencies and "House Builder Syndrome"

Many agencies don’t create much content for themselves. They’re doing it for clients, but not for themselves.

“I try to practice what I preach,” says Lilach. “I’m a small person, so the only way I can stand out is by having what I believe is the best or the better content.”

This is great advice for smaller agencies or boutique agencies like hers. 

Yet she says agencies large and small fail on this front. 

She likened it to the “Home Builder Syndrome.” You go into a builder’s house and their house is terrible, but they make beautiful houses elsewhere. As a result, many

“They lack consistency, it’s short-form, there’s no real value, it’s more about the news than doing tactical deep dives into things.”

Agencies have poor SEO, low traffic, and low domain authority.

She says if agencies aren’t doing content there are generally two reasons why. 

“They lack resources, or they lack the skill set to do it.” She recommends agencies like this outsource content creation to someone who can take care of it for them.

She says a lot of agencies have had the money to get away with ignoring content in the past, but, “I wonder how long they can keep that up for, especially in the present climate.”

Where agencies should focus

Lilach said starting should depend on if the agency has a local or a global demographic.

“If it’s local it’s much easier for them. There’s really no excuse.”

She really recommends that agencies zoom in on case studies. She does note that many case studies are only written for the reader and not for Google. They don’t rank at all.

“I think they could work really well because they generate organic backlinks as well. They could be a really easy way for agencies to get quick wins.”

The takeaway? Create case studies, but optimize them for keywords and SEO.

Using content to help salespeople

Many agencies do run on business development over organic inbound traffic, but content can help here too. 

“Potential customers find case studies interesting, especially if you show all the results.” 

She says it’s frustrating when percentages are all that someone sees.

“People want to see the real nitty-gritty. Be really transparent.” 

She says that in her experience people like her or say, Neil Patel, who are both influencers and agencies tend to do this better than agencies with hundreds of staff members. 

The state of email marketing

Lilach says that email marketing has changed a great deal over the years.

“There are so many email lists available now. I remember when I first started, I said: subscribe to my newsletter. You can’t do that now. Nobody wants a newsletter anymore. You can’t even use the word subscribe now if you want to convert.”

She says she has to change her sign-up sentence every few months just to get sign-ups. The offering has to be a lot meatier, too. 

“Gone are the days where you can just do a free checklist or something. You need to give something so much meatier.”

She says, for example, that her new email course is 15000 words long. It’s very tactical, “a real step-by-step guide.”

She says she doesn’t try to sell too much in her emails. She tries to use them for nurturing instead, and she only tries to send them once or twice a week.

She says she also does a whole lot of testing.

“I’ve always used two different headlines. I’d test them. I’d work out which ones convert better, too. I’m constantly trying to increase my open rate and my click-throughs. I know what works well.”

Staying this numbers-focused can help you get better results on your email marketing efforts, as well.

The future of in-person events

Lilach says she doesn’t see a real future for virtual events. “If they succeed, I’d be shocked.”

She’s speaking as a professional speaker. 

“I get paid to speak. Nobody’s going to pay you to speak at a virtual event. You can’t get all the sponsorship deals. There’s no money. You’re getting very little return.”

She says speakers may do one or two but they’re not going to keep doing them. “That’s their livelihood.”

She says that the inability to get big-name speakers will lead to an inability to get the crowds in.

“It’s a chicken and egg situation. But I think putting aside speakers and income from it, for the actual attendees, there’s no atmosphere. It’s very hard to network, and it’s really not the same.”

Lilach believes most people attend these events to do their networking, and if they can’t deliver that then there’s very little reason for most people to invest the time into them.

She also says that organizing them is also a lot of work and they won’t be delivering much return for the organizer.
 

“The problem with virtual is there’s no commitment.”

A thousand people might sign up, but only a 100 might actually show up. 

What’s your right now cause?

Lilach asks people to consider supporting their local breast cancer charity. This is on her mind because she has a friend who is struggling with breast cancer right now. 

“Corona has put a real hold on all these poor people who have life-threatening diseases. She was diagnosed 5 months ago but because of corona couldn’t get her surgery quickly.”

She says we need to avoid overlooking the fact that every day people have cancer that’s not getting diagnosed or operations that are being put on hold.

Connect with Lilach Bullock

Want to get more insights from Lilach? 

Garrett Sussman

Garrett Sussman

Garrett is the head of content at Traject , a suite of digital marketing tools, and host of the Agency Ahead podcast. When he's not crafting content, he's scouting the perfect ice coffee, devouring the newest graphic novels, and concocting a new recipe in the kitchen.

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