Recently I have started a series called ‘Digital Talks with Sorav’ where I interview Digital Marketers to find out their perspective on this subject. And this time around I had the chance to talk to the Digital Marketing Guru, Neil Patel. A pioneer in the field of Digital Marketing, Neil Patel is the Co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics.
Here is the transcript of our conversation.
Sorav: How did you manage to build your empire? What were those first 5 steps?
Neil: I don’t know if I have an empire. I did not build my business overnight; it’s been 17 years now. The key is you have to lay brick by brick, there is no simple solution. You really gotta do every single task. You have goals in your business; think what your goals are over the year, now break them down in 12 months. So what do you need to do each month to hit those goals? Then break that down to each week, then break that down to each day and then break down the task into things that can be done in each hour and have a daily checklist. Now if you accomplish them, you’re much more likely to hit your annual goal. That’s how you continue growing.
Sorav: How do you manage to stay fit? What’s your daily schedule like?
Neil: So there’s this guy on YouTube called the BodyCoach, his name is Joe, so I do a 15 minute hit workout, high-intensity interval training or something like that every day. Some days I get lazy but around at least five days a week, that’s the helps in quite a bit. I also do intermittent fasting I’ll only eat between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. and then the rest of the time I don’t eat. I also don’t eat unhealthy, so like no fried food, no Samosas, I try to keep low on the carb, like a lot of vegetables no unhealthy food like mayonnaise or cheese or fried food or any of that.
Sorav: What has been the most difficult period of your career or life while you were building your business? There might have been a lot of obstacles, if you would like to share some tips?
Neil: Yeah, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs you know. When things get going they don’t always work the way you want. So I’ve made money, I’ve lost money. I tend not to talk too much about how much money I make I talked more about my failures. And I’m not saying I make good money or anything like that either and I’m not trying to imply anything but I’ll give you revenue figures. When I was 16 I started consulting, I got lucky I was doing around 20,000 a month and by the time I was 21 I lost it all plus I was in debt another million dollars. I tried creating a cloud computing company back in the day before it was popular. If it worked I would have been rich but it didn’t you know look at the draw and what I learned is you’re gonna go through ups and downs as an entrepreneur not everything is the way you want and that’s okay. Just stay focused, and over time you’ll do well. There’s not much you can end up doing in the short run to solve your problems or you know, avoid some of these things. You’re gonna have to go through the ups and downs and know that entrepreneurship is like a roller coaster and be okay with it. There are good moments, bad moments, scary moments, and happy moments. You just gotta accept it all, and importantly learn from all your mistakes.
Sorav: When do you plan to visit India and host training programs? Any plans for 2019?
Neil: I thought about it. My problem is I don’t have a business partner in India to handle it all. If I had a business partner in India, I would do it but it’s too hard to find someone.
Sorav: How Indian are you Neil?
Neil: I’m a 100% Indian*laughs*. My last name is Patel, I eat Indian food a lot, it’s my favorite food. I speak fluent Gujarati. My blog I started translating a lot of the content in Hindi it’s doing well. I don’t have enough Hindi writers if I had more Hindi writers I’d translate it all. But yeah I love India you know it’s just it’s my heritage. I want my kids to speak Gujarati.
Sorav: So you believe that Vernacular language has played a very important role right now? Because I thought that you have started translating your blog in Hindi language, how did it make a difference?
Neil: It helped with traffic, but I did it not necessarily for traffic. I don’t make money from India, I lose money in India more than anything else because for me to put cost into translating. None of my customers are from India so it’s a cost. But I don’t look at it that way, I’m Indian so might as well help on my own people. I don’t care if I make money from India or not, I’m from there so why not help and I wasn’t born there but nonetheless why not help out my own people.
Sorav: Social Media Marketing vs SEO, you what’s your personal favorite and why?
Neil: See when I first started, it was all about SEO okay and then Digg came around which isn’t that popular. I don’t even know if it exists anymore. And then Reddit and when you look at all these social sites, I used to do very well cuz it’s a great way to get traffic and links. Now, when I was building a business, when I was starting off you can build it just through one channel just like how Facebook grew through the referral system. Do you remember, you would invite all your friends in your address book to Facebook and that’s how they grew. But now if a new company came out and leverage that tactic they wouldn’t do that well because everyone will look at a spam. Same with SEO where the algorithms are harder, same with Social Media Marketing the algorithms are harder. So even though I love SEO and Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing, you can’t do one or the other one is better than the other. You now have to take an omnichannel approach to do well without that you won’t do well in the market.
Sorav: How important it is to invest in good visuals in content marketing?
Neil: It’s very important. The more images and the visuals and infographics you can invest in, the better off you are. Whether it’s a video or infographics or images as they say image or in some cases even a video will say a thousand words if not more.
Sorav: We all know for the fact that Facebook’s organic reach is slowly dying. So where would you invest in 2019 Instagram or Facebook? What would you recommend to your followers?
Neil: They’re both okay, you should be on both the channels, but I would pick YouTube. YouTube will do better than all of them. 2019 is all about YouTubing. It will get the search traffic and it drives all the traffic and they can give you consistent traffic over time. But the beautiful part is if you already create a YouTube video you can take the same video and upload it to Facebook and LinkedIn and then just include SRT files because not everyone has their speakers turned on.
Sorav: In one of your videos you shared a tip to post 4 stories on Instagram instead of 1. Why to post 4 stories a day on Instagram?
Neil: The more stories you do the better off you are, even doing 12 or 24. This helps because the more people see your content you just start showing up. Break it into different intervals, different times of the day, break it up like doing one every hour.
Sorav: YouTubing vs Blogging, what’s the best bet for 2020?
Neil: For 2020 is I think *long pause* I think YouTube will still be more popular, ok, content marketing will be more popular, but YouTube will have easier traction. It’ll be easier to gain momentum in 2020 on video than it will on text. See there’s over a billion blogs right now so the numbers gonna get worse, that’s one blog for every seven people, it’s saturated. Video marketing right now isn’t saturated yet so whoever adopts early is gonna win.
Sorav: What are those 5 crucial content marketing trends you see for 2019 that someone should follow?
Neil: So I’ll pick five:
- First, podcasting and video is picking up. They’re easier to optimize, so do podcast SEO, do YouTube SEO that would be my first step.
- Second is, even all these forms of marketing, video, audio, text base it’s eventually gonna get saturated as well. So start creating freemium products or services. Like my friend has a company called Smacne which is an acne cream. He does a free trial, just pay for shipping. So you got to get creative to get more traffic.
- The third tip is voice search. 50% of the people will be using voice search by 2020 according to Comscore. So optimize for voice search.
- The fourth tip I would have for you is, ads are gonna continue to go up in expenses. During the last recession, Google still generated more revenue. So assume that that’s gonna happen all over again. So you need to optimize for conversions. Things like AB testing, Split test all those kind of things will help.
- The fifth tip I have for you is build a brand. Brands convert better than non-brands really truly genuinely try to help people.
This was followed by a really interesting and fun round of Quick Rapid Fire, where Neil Answered questions like, ‘How would you react if NeilPatel.com is hacked’, ‘One change you’d love to see on Facebook’, spoke some Gujarati and so much more. Here is the Video watch it now.