Content Marketing Vs Ads: Traffic Tactics For Live Shopping With Brenton Thomas

TLEP 67 | Content Marketing


“If you need to see instant results, jump into ads.”

Which is most effective for your business: organic traffic with SEO or social media ads? Find out in this episode with special guest Brenton Thomas. He is an MBA graduate with 7+ years of paid search, paid social, organic social media, and SEO experience in both corporate and agency roles. He recently founded his own digital marketing agency, Twibi, working with clients across diverse industries to drive over $2 million in total revenue.

Get tips on the creative elements of ads, plus defining your target audience with privacy limitations. Find out how (and why) to get clear on your goals and timeline. Uncover in what case to do a Facebook vs a Google ad, and how to spilt your budget. Learn about running ads on your own vs working with an expert. Determine how much money to put aside to drive an audience to a live shopping event and how to optimize your ad setup. Figure out what to do if you’re not ready to spend on ads and want to try SEO instead. Gain an understanding of how Brenton advises brands on using paid ads to drive traffic for live events. Discover organic approaches to networking. Hear Brenton’s approach to NFTs and how he’s implemented SEO keyword research to create targeted content.


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Content Marketing Vs Ads: Traffic Tactics For Live Shopping With Brenton Thomas

In this episode, our special guest is Brenton Thomas, who is an MBA graduate with several years of paid search, paid social, organic social media, and SEO experience in both corporate and agency roles. He founded his digital marketing agency called Twibi, working with clients across diverse industries to drive over $2 million in total revenue.

We’re looking forward to talking with him because we haven’t talked that much about paid advertising on this show before. We’ve covered so much about social media usually from this organic standpoint, which Brenton can also talk about. We’re going to dig into running ads, pay-per-click versus content marketing, and finding what’s most effective for your business. I’m going to turn it over to Nicolas to start the conversation.

First of all, Brenton, I am so excited to have you. I had a chance to go over your profile and have to say that your LinkedIn profile is amazing. You’ve got a lot of digital experience and also a pretty substantial following for LinkedIn, to be honest. It’s been interesting. When I see this kind of following, I’m always thinking, “Is the person a marketer or a real content creator that is having the ad of a marketer?” In some way, you can’t get this kind of following without being a true creator. I’d love to start from that. What are you? Are you a creator? Are you a marketer? Are you both? How would you describe yourself?

The following is pretty big but it’s not content so much. I wanted the largest network of digital marketers for my knowledge and understanding of my industry. I wanted a huge database of marketers to have access to them, like lots of sending out connections, connecting with them, and phone conversations. Anyone who will speak to me, I’m having conversations with. Over six years of reaching out to people, it slowly built out.

A true networker then, that’s even better and awesome. I have been trying to be in this networking phase trying to reach out to one new person every day. It’s a lot of work so I admire the effort. That’s certainly interesting. We are here not to speak about networks so much but in some way, it is because of how you get into different networks. An ad is a place that can get you there. I’d love to start with what Whitney was saying. What do you think about the difference between pay-per-click versus constant marketing? How do you place those things? In my view, they’re very complementary but what should you start first? How would you go after that?

Usually, I base it on what your goals are. It’s your goals but then also what is your timeline to reach those goals. If you’re doing SEO, that’s mostly content and backlinks. Let’s take a step back. Think of what the content is going to be about. Write the content. You go through multiple rounds of reviewing the content. You finally get the piece of content live on your website.

Google has to index the content over and over to understand how to rank it. You got to do that 200 times to see substantial traffic gains. If you have a year to wait before you can see your goals, then don’t do paid ads. Do content creation/SEO. If you need to see instant results, then jump into the Google Ads side of things or Facebook Ads because you won’t have the patience for SEO or content creation to take off.

If you have a year to wait before you can see your goals, then don't do paid ads. Do content creation or SEO. Click To Tweet

I love the fact of how you play out with like, “What’s your timeline?” This is something that we’ve talked about quite a bit during the show. For people that are thinking about creating a live show, there are two routes. You can do the route of, “I don’t want to spend too much to drive a lot of traffic to that specific event. In this case, what I’m going to do is be consistent, set expectations, and tell the consumer that I will be there every Tuesday, Wednesday, or the next day or I can try to make this massive campaign utilize ads and try to drive as many people as possible to that specific live show.”

In some way, that’s what you’re saying. It’s a similar strategy for content marketing. How fast are you want to drive results? Based on that, you have a choice to make which is pay-per-click or quantum marketing. One of the things that we are seeing is that when people start to use pay ads to drive traffic for a specific live event, this can be quickly costly.

There are so many other variables that you have to get under control for your content to be effective. When you’re doing a content marketing piece, I’m assuming you’ve tested your strategy before. Your copy is performing and that’s when you pay ad. On a live show, there is more complication to that. If I were to come to you and say, “Brenton, this is my live show,” how would you advise me as a brand about thinking through the app process in the context of a livestream? I’d love to get your feel on that.

If you have a piece of organic content, that works well. Maybe it’s a lead magnet, an assessment, or a form of video that’s already pre-recorded. I would then build a livestream that’s related and use the same language. If the positioning of the video is a certain angle, then do your livestream at that same angle. Only then will I put ad dollars behind it.

Unless you have a large budget, you can drop in lots of creative and then put a single campaign budget over 5 or 6 different pieces of assets and then the algorithm will tell you what works best. If your budget’s a little bit lower, then I would say that only if it works organically, should you then test it on the paid side.

It’s much about this notion that depending on your budget, either you pick and choose which one you want to advertise or if you have a bigger budget, then play around and make some testing. Once your tests are providing results, take that and double down on it. That’s the strategy there. That makes sense to me. When you think about ads, is it preference around Facebook or Google? What would you think about that? How would you advise someone about making an ad? Is there a way of thought about using ads in this context?

For Google, use it for lead generation. It could work for eCommerce. I’ve seen 600% ROS for a high-end furniture brand that I was helping to manage their campaigns for, which is amazing. Let’s blend it with brand terms and non-brand. For the readers, the brand term is like your own brand name in the search term. Non-brand means you didn’t use your brand name. People already know your brand so it tends to perform a lot better but that 600% was the blend of the two, which is still amazing.

TLEP 67 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: Brand terms are like your own brand name in the search term. Non-brand means you didn’t use your brand name.

If you had a smaller budget, go with Facebook. That’s better for eCommerce. If I have a larger budget, typically what I do is split the budget 50/50. Let’s say you have a $5,000 monthly budget. If you can support that on an ongoing basis, I would split the $5,000. $2,500 goes into Google Ads and $2,500 goes into Facebook. After about a month, I can pretty much see which one has a better baseline. We can move the budget away. Let’s say Google is not performing so we can give it to Facebook or vice versa.

You have so much knowledge and experience around this, which is helpful to navigate because a lot of people struggle with deciding what to do with their budget. Do you feel like it’s important or crucial even to work with an expert like yourself or do you think that people can figure out how to do effective ads on their own? It’s also a time equation. Certainly, you could but it’s taken you seven years of experience and research, trial and error to figure this out. Does the average person who wants to run an ad have the ability to get effective results without putting in all of the time and effort like you have?

You could run ads on your own. It will take a lot of time. You will make a lot of mistakes. You will waste some money, which is all part of it but after some time, you will start to understand what’s going on. It will take a couple of years. You’ll probably have to rely on Google Ads support or Facebook Ads support. You have to take what they say with a grain of salt because they’re trying to get you to spend more now but that doesn’t necessarily mean you make more money now. You have to balance out what they’re saying and you might not know what is true versus not true.

You could run ads on your own, but it will take a lot of time, you will make a lot of mistakes, and you will waste some money, which is all part of it. But after some time, you will start to understand what's going on. Click To Tweet

Google Dashboard says, “If you increase by X dollar your click-through rate, you’re going to get X amount of new clicks.” I’m like, “Yeah, but what is my click-through rate? This is getting crazy.” I can see that. I made the test. In one month, I went through the recommendation that was done by Diago to try out, to quickly realize that the credit card was getting hot. I had to quickly turn it off but it’s interesting.

The algorithm is not here. This is a company trying to get more sales out of you so in some way, they are looking for long-term. That’s where having someone that knows about this and that can navigate that can help. I wonder. The creative is such a big element of doing the ad. A lot of people are talking about the pixel and the ability to define who is your target audience.

It sounds like talking to a lot of people in the eCommerce space, getting the target audience right is getting more and more of a nightmare. How do you go after that? With the fact that privacy is becoming more of a concern, less data is being transferred. How do you advise an eCom company to remain positive and have positive ROS on ads knowing that the whole ecosystem is difficult to navigate?

It’s all under attack. There are lots of lost tracking and lots of different ways. Things you could do before, you can’t quite do the same, especially on iOS. One thing that I’ve noticed is that while all this is happening, I would set up my conversion tracking the best I possibly could. Usually, that’s using Google Tag Manager. What I would do to combat that is started making my audiences real tight and very specific.

I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted so I let the algorithm. For example, there’s a client I work with. They’re called Cocalero. They have a collaboration with Resident Evil. They sell a premium spirit. It’s a 30% alcohol brand. I came in. They wanted a 300% return on ROS and that’s the return on ad spent. For every $1 spent, they wanted $3 back, essentially at scale.

As time went on, I had my audiences super tight trying to combat loss of control over the pixel. I’m trying to take control through the audiences. We weren’t seeing the right results. I said, “What if I take a step back? I don’t do tight specific audiences but I make them super broad. I target the United States. I believe in my conversion tracking. I know it’s correct. I’m going to let it optimize for anyone in the United States for a purchase.”

Now, we’re seeing the result that we’re looking for. We’re getting a 400% ROS and that’s off of top-of-funnel traffic. People who have never heard of the brand before, for every $1 spent were getting $4 back. That’s the best way to go about it. You let the algorithm do its thing. You let it go wide. You have to spend some money on it to identify the right person over time. I would highly recommend that to anyone.

Speaking of spending money, I’d love for you to describe it because that’s something that has been told and heard through conversation. Spending money is like you have to have a pool that is significant enough so the data is meaningful but, in some way, what is meaningful data? At what point do you consider you’re spending enough to have a good base of data that’s enabled you to take action on it? Is $500 of ad spend a month enough or are you talking about $5,000? Where is that minimum that below that, you can’t drive an understanding of what’s going on with it?

These platforms like Google Ads all need a certain amount of data as well. It’s not just me. When I look in the dashboard, I’m like, “Can I make a decision based on this data? There’s not quite enough here.” It’s also the algorithm, the machine learning inside of Google Ads or Facebook. It’s also saying, “I’m stuck in the learning phase.” You need to spend more for me to get a sense of whom to show ads to next based on historical data to inform the future.

On the low end, you could probably get away with $2,000 a month. If anything under that, you can’t fully optimize the account. You stay in limited learning inside of Facebook or even Google Ads. It hurts your performance badly. That budget then needs to spread over all the campaigns in the account so you can’t have too many campaigns if you’re going to spend the minimum. If you’re going to spend $2,000, you should only have 2 to 3 campaigns at the absolute most because if you have 8 campaigns, that $2,000 needs to spread over 8 campaigns and there’s not enough statistical significance to make decisions.

That’s super fascinating because you see Google send out, at least to me, $100,000 credit for ads. I’ll think to myself, “Is this going to do anything for me?” With my business structure, I haven’t done many ads but I played around with them years ago and it felt confusing. That’s why I asked you that question. With all your knowledge and approaches, Brenton, it’s helpful. Here’s another thing. Speaking of the knowledge and approach that you’ve been, it sounds like it’s experimenting with NFTs.

I wanted to hear a little bit about how that fits into paid advertising and SEO and also your perspective on it in terms of how it can support businesses. We’ve had guests on the show like Joe Pulizzi who talked about how much NFTs are benefiting his business. Nicolas and I were talking about how you could use NFTs to sell tickets to a live event or incentivize people to come to your live event and maybe they get an NFT. There are all sorts of ways that you can integrate things like this to build community. I’d love to hear your perspectives and experiences with it.

I don’t know if you guys saw Tory Lanez, the rapper. He sold an NFT CD and sold out it. In 10 minutes, he made $2 million. It was a feeding frenzy maybe in 2022. It’s cooled off. It’s not as hot in 2023 because the whole market is down. My approach with the NFT is based on the keyword research that I was doing. Keyword research is looking for keywords that have good search volume.

TLEP 67 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: Keyword research is looking for keywords that have good search volume. People are actively looking for these keywords.

People are actively looking for these keywords. The keywords also have a low difficulty so you have a chance to rank for those keywords. It’s the intersection of those two. When you intersect not just a single person but a group of people who are looking for something, there’s a little difficulty. It’s like a gap on the internet. No one has written content for that specific piece that everyone’s looking for.

The NFT market is very competitive based on what I had seen for the keywords that I was researching but if you get into very specific collections, there are amazing opportunities. You’ll have 5,000 people a month searching for a very specific NFT. If you can write content about that, then you’ll go right to the top.

It’s much an SEO strategy per se, trying to identify, “What’s my niche?” and then writing content about this. You are the only one doing that and then it’s popping up. It’s interesting. I’m always thinking that the NFT user is a super fan in some ways. Those are like diehard fans. They will look and search for this in particular. They will know quite a bit about the collection and funders. They want to research and do things.

I could see that being something that is valuable. I wonder. Have you done any paid ads on NFT work? With NFT, it is what it is so do you have a different approach? Can it relate to some extent to an event, a channel, or a piece of content that is made through the run? In some way, NFT is also appealing to communities so I always correlate the two. With livestream shopping and channel, you have a community that is driven that NFT is the same. Is there any parallel in any way of approaching that you can see and transpose quite easily?

We also ran some Google Ads for NFTs as well. Connected wallets were a secondary KPI and some other things. You have to connect your wallet if you make an offer for an NFT or things like that. Going back to if something ranks well, let’s say I do keyword research for SEO on the organic side. Even if I move it over to the paid side, there are still interests around that. People are still searching for that.

Whether you show up organically, which you will get a better click-through rate and engagement, you can still take that keyword you found on the organic side for SEO, bring it over to your ad account, and then rank for that term at the very top because you’re paying for the spot. You will get some pretty good engagement.

That reminded me as Nicolas was sharing. When somebody’s wanting to build up their community, that’s very tempting to pursue those paid ads. As we move towards the end of the episode, I’m curious, for someone sitting there thinking they want to do live shows, try out the livestreaming and live shopping events that eStreamly is all about, the number one question is, what about the audience?

That’s one of the biggest obstacles and pain points for people. Certainly, SEO is a common approach to it but it can take some time and also a lot of research. You’ve laid out that understanding keyword research is a skillset and not everybody’s going to be good at it or want to spend the time on it. Sometimes ads feel like that shortcut and can save that time but you have to have the budget to put into it.

As one of your final pieces of advice, Brenton, what do you think is a good way to build an engaged audience? If you’re providing these two avenues, is there a budget you would recommend as a starting point for a brand that wants to build an engaged audience so that they can drive them to a livestream show? How much money would you recommend them setting aside for that? If money is tight for them, how much time should they expect to spend building an engaged audience before perhaps they launch their livestream?

On the paid ad side, try to get up set $2,000 per month. Let’s say it’s for specifically one single event. I don’t have multiple campaigns. You need all the learnings to collect under that single campaign and you don’t want to split out your learnings. The budget has to be split too. You have to learn 2 times in 2 places. Have a single campaign around that single event.

You’re doing only one campaign so maybe you could get away with $1,500 per month for that single campaign. Make sure your conversion tracking is set up the right way. Only then after you set your conversion tracking, you can optimize for the event you want to happen. I would imagine it’s some type of form submission. You make sure you’re tracking that closely. You trust the data. It fires correctly when the event happens on your website. Optimize for that immediately.

Make sure your conversion tracking is set up the right way. Only then can you optimize for the event you want to happen. Click To Tweet

You spend $1,500 only optimizing for that and then let that run for one month. If you’re not seeing the results you want, then you’ll have to make some tweaks and changes. Maybe look at the keyword level to try to understand if certain keywords are spending lots of money with no form submissions or anything like that. Maybe pause that keyword and then it gives other keywords space to breathe. They then get a chance to show what they can do. That’s on the paid side. I’ll pause right there. Any questions about that?

No, but first of all, most of that did not make any sense to me. Meaning, what a great reason to hire someone like you. It depends on the reader. Everything you’re saying sounds good but to me, to learn all of that sounds overwhelming. I’m eager to hear the SEO part next, which I’m a little bit more familiar with.

Feel free to ask me more questions. I try to break it down into the smallest bite-size simple pieces as possible.

You’re doing a great job with that. It’s like learning a language. Nicolas is French and I love learning French but Nicolas and I are not at the level of speaking French to each other yet. One day, Nicolas, I hope to speak some French with you.

We’ll go with a French episode.

He’s fluent in it just like you’re virtually fluent in this. Someone like me can understand the basics but it’s a huge gap between getting to that fluent stage. I appreciate the work that you do to educate us so much. What about the SEO side of it before we come to a close?

Usually, I do a screen share. A video share is like 10,000 pictures. To see me go in and be like, “This is wrong. This is right.” I see you’re still in learning mode. It literally says learning right here but we can’t do that so I’ll try my best. On the SEO side, for my brand, I don’t want to spend quite a bit on ads yet. I’m not quite at the place where I feel comfortable with that. It’s not just on ads. Here’s one quick note on that. It’s not spending $1,500 or $2,000 for 1 month. You want to spend it for 3, 4, 5, or 6 months. That right there is $12,000 on the high end before you can say, “I give up on it.”

For myself, I’m doing a lot of SEO and writing lots of content. I picked up a content writer that I found for myself. He’s super talented. There are writing services out there, which one I was using a couple of years ago. They’re not the best but they’ll give you a good foundation for content. You’ll go in and have to spend a lot of hours editing. They’re called iWriter. Have you heard of them, Whitney?

I haven’t but we’ve been experimenting with writers too. Nicolas, we can add that to our list to look into. You’re spot on with the editing. Generally, my role at eStreamly is I edited a blog post for us and it does take time. Maybe part of your point is hiring people but knowing some money’s going to be involved through that. It’s hard to get by without any money at all. After you’ve developed the content and have a writer for example, then what?

I always recommend 2,000-word plus blog posts. It’s got to be a long form. We can’t do 500 words or anything like that. I’ll walk you guys through my old process with specific numbers, costs, and everything. I was using an iWriter 2,000-word article and the cost is $40. It was super cheap. You get the article and then you have to spend 5 to 6 hours editing. It’s not the best content but for me, I always had writer’s block. I’m staring at the screen for three hours like, “You did one paragraph. This is going to take a long time to complete.”

They helped me give my foundation and then I would start writing from there. Putting it up on the website is another maybe hour and a half. You got to find your images. Another hour and a half on that as well. Going through stock images at work, maybe an hour you could get away with. I would say it’s probably six total hours per blog post. You got to do it for a year or so before you start to see the results you want because Google has to index it.

How many blog posts in a year?

Let’s say you could do one blog post per week.

52 times 6 is the math to figure out how many hours go into this.

It’s like 300 and something hours. You’ll see impressions. If you go into Google Search Console, that’s your way to tell if your SEO and content are working. Impressions are the first thing you want to see increased. You’ll start to see that but you won’t necessarily see clicks yet. In the Google search engine result page, there are your blog posts, page title, and meta description.

TLEP 67 | Content Marketing
Content Marketing: Impressions are the first thing you want to see increase. If you go into Google Search Console, that’s your way to tell if your SEO and content are working.

You’ll start to see impressions and then from there, Google starts to index them. You’re still pushing content out and then you’ll start to see your impressions are increasing. You’ll start to see clicks and website traffic and then everything follows after that. For all that to start to fall into place takes at least six months. It’s a very long process.

Thank you so much for sharing that. As we said from the beginning, you have so much to share and it’s so sad to have to wrap up the episode because your knowledge is incredibly valuable. A lot of people are asking themselves these questions. The audience side of it is a huge thing for people who are going live and trying to figure out how to sell. People that are creating content want to grow their audience.

There’s so much to consider here. Giving people that timeline as you did is helpful or the budget and weighing out, what do you have more of, time or money? Finding one that you can focus on and that might also change over time. Maybe you can save up your money while you’re spending the time and switch your strategy.

I’m sure someone like you, Brenton, can consult so much. We’re working on our SEO strategy and revamping the appearance of blogs and show episodes. For our readers, stay tuned. Speaking of staying tuned, we’ll have a new episode for you so if you haven’t subscribed to the show yet, we encourage you to do that so you don’t miss out on amazing people like Brenton who share so much information.

One last plug. Also, we have a community where we’ve invited Brenton and many of our guests. If you’re looking for more interaction and you want to play a role in the community that we’re building at eStreamly, we’d love to have you there. It’s free. It’s a phenomenal resource that Nicolas works hard on along with many things. Check that out. We will see you again in the next episode. Thanks so much for reading. Thanks to Brenton and Nicolas for creating another wonderful episode.


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