Employees are company’s greatest asset, we can judge about the company by the people it employs. We had pleasure to talk to Michael Lazar – a Growth Hacker, content marketing hero and top-tier copywriter. Michael is part of TrueShip’s team today; he promotes company’s services online and is in charge of driving targeted organic traffic to the company’s site. During the interview Michael gave us a handful of great tips and helpful tools which content marketers will love. So without further talk we propose to jump to the Michael’s answers.
Q: What areas do you have expertise in?
A: I am a Growth Hacker. My areas of expertise include the following: Tier One Editing and Copywriting services, Press Release Composition (including distribution and syndication), Link Building (SEO implementation, plan of action, data mining, data analysis, market comparison, placement, exposure and much more), Media Exposure, Video Production and Syndication, Project Management, Branding (concept, design, creation, awareness, testing, launch and more), Cross Branding, Re-targeting, Social Media Maven services (management, growth and marketing), Article Writing (and syndication), Blogging, Website Content, Journalism (AP style writing), B2B (business to business) writing, Direct Response, Short and Long Tail marketing, Product Descriptions, White Papers, E-books, Education-Based marketing, PPC (SEM), authorship (management, tracking, analytics and growth), Website Design (design, testing and more) and architecture (SEO layout), and Online Reputation Management (ORM).
Q: What challenges in your work do you face now at TrueShip and how do you handle them?
A: TrueShip is a small software company in a very competitive industry. In order to effectively compete, we must think outside of the box… a lot. I use a hybrid combination of SEO, SEM, PPC, Retargeting, Public Relations, Social Media and Education-based content marketing to help us garner top rankings and drive more targeted, organic traffic back to the main website. Long tail keywords have seemed to work the best thus far, and are far easier to rank to than short tail keywords are.
Q: Could you tell us about TrueShip more in detail? What are the most competitive products it offers? What ecommerce platforms are these products compatible with?
A: TrueShip is one of the original pioneers of multicarrier shipping software. Our most popular product is ReadyShipper, a shipping software that can work with FedEx, UPS and USPS. We have a number of powerful and popular integrations that are offered alongside of ReadyShipper, called ReadyModules, which enable our users to integrate the software into the most popular shopping carts, inventory and order management systems and accounting software suites. We also offer a product called ReadyLabels, which enables our users to generate and print shipping labels, either from a standard thermal printer or from a laser printer using our TFLG1 paper ream, which comes in standard, die-cut 8.5×11 sheets with a perforated comment card/packing list and a peel-off 4×6 shipping label. TrueShip also makes a product for returns management called ReadyReturns. It drops into any website with no coding, creating self-service returns widget for customers, who can initiate returns and even print a return shipping label from their home computer. Lastly, we make a solution called ReadyCloud. It’s a cloud-based disaster recovery storage method. It backs up all user data in the safety of cloud, with instant restoration, real-time access, reporting and visibility. TrueShip currently integrates with the following ecommerce hubs: Amazon, BigCommerce, Buy.com (Rakuten), EBay, Etsy, 3dcart, Volusion, ChannelAdvisor, WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify, Paypal, Shopsite, Monsoon Stone Edge (Monsoon Commerce), Lime Light, OrderMotion and Yahoo. We are rolling out new integrations each month, and plan to add many more ecommerce integrations in the near future.
Q: Could you share with our readers some cases when TrueShip software had a great positive effect on ecommerce store performance?
A: A company called VAS First Response was struggling with their fulfillment. They couldn’t get more than 100 shipments out per day. Once they started getting more orders than they could fulfill, they knew that they needed a software solution in place. They started using ReadyShipper with the free trial. The owner told us that he, “loved the all-in-one shipping invoice and shipping label option, and having the ability to bring all of our orders from all our sales channels into one place was huge. It made an immediate impact on our business.”
Once ReadyShipper was in place, they were able to fulfill 300-500 shipments daily without any setbacks. They also were able to reduce shipping errors. The owner later wrote us and told us that: “The invoice and shipping label combo makes it easy to print in batch without worrying about whether we have the correct items in each box. ReadyShipper has totally streamlined our shipping operation.”
Q: Currently you are a Growth Hacker at TrueShip, but if you were to promote a completely new ecommerce start-up right now, what combination of marketing channels would you choose? In what order? To what extent?
A: I would base it upon the specific brand. Naturally, however, all brands are marketable online. Key channels I’d explore first would include: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Digg, Delicious, FourSquare, Google Plus, Blogger, LiveJournal, SocialTribe, Fiverr, Ezine Articles, PPC, retargeting channels, and good old fashion SEO and content marketing.
Q: Is there way for “boring” brands to create interesting and engaging content for their target audience online? What tips would you give?
A: Here are some tips regarding this:
Your brand is only boring if people find it useless. Market to and for your users. Even dish rags can be made fun by spicing it up with interesting social media posts that ask users what the messiest meal was that they ever made for their toddler, while showcasing a classic picture of a toddler covered in spaghetti sauce in their high-chair.
Veer towards the humorous side. People will always respond to laughter because it really is the best medicine, and is an especially good remedy for “boredom.”
Infographics are beloved online. Create as many of these as humanly possible, focusing on content and authority information, of course.
Q: You have such a solid experience in content creation. How do you usually identify the most popular topics in your niche? Any hacks or tools you personally use?
A: While I can’t reveal all the hacks I use, as some are top-secret to my trade, there are a few tips that I can offer. Google Alerts will always alert you to the top trending keywords… which are easy ideas for content generation in your demographic. Trending articles can provide authority sources that you can later expand upon. Furthermore, helpful tools like HitTail will provide you with the easiest-to-rank keywords for your niche, allowing you to quickly get articles and good copy to the top page of Google with minimal SEO backend work required in the aftermath. CrazyEgg is perfect for mapping your site’s thermal metrics, and SEO Moz is a must-have tool as well as Google Analytics.
Q: What actionable piece of advice would you give to a copywriter who has received an urgent task to write an engaging copy in a very limited timeframe?
A: Time constraints don’t always serve well for good content. Therefore, be realistic about the humanistic side of things. Tackle a simpler issue that requires less research. Offer the reader something that is finely polished, even if not as long or as in-depth as you would like for it to be. It’s better to give something short and great than something long and lacking in quality or authority.
Q: In your experience what kinds of posts drive the biggest online users’ engagement and interaction? Have you spotted any patterns or common features of such posts?
A: I have found that the most viral posts I have ever written are education-based. Users want to learn something that directly applies to what they are doing. Lists and how-to articles are fabulous places to start. But to veer away from the cliché ebb and flow, I like to mix it up with helpful content that offers expert advice on how users can make something better. For example, I recently wrote a guest blog for Kissmetrics, which went viral on that site and was later picked up and syndicated by Entrepreneur Magazine, where it also went viral. The article was a list about the 12 rules of writing press releases. Readers liked it because most people, who are not expert copywriters, want to learn how to do this to market their own businesses and save money. Offering people content that has succinct value to them is the surest means by which you can extrapolate its (the content’s) viral capacity. You can read that viral article I recently wrote here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234974.
Q: What English grammar sources and reference materials would you recommend to in-house specialists who are in charge of content creation?
A: There are four sources that I swear by for this method: Grammarly.com, Thesaurus.com, Merriam-webster.com and Copyscape.com. These four websites are simply priceless for all content curators.
Q: Internet marketing space is very information-saturated. How do you scan and filter the content as a content curator? What applications or tools do you use?
A: As a content curator, I will actually spend quite a bit of time researching each piece that I write. I use the major search engines to find the content that I glean from my research. I use think tanks like eConsultancy, Forrester, comScore, Statista and StatisticBrain, amongst numerous others, to find statistics. For authority, I look for major news sources and respected and content-rich online hubs. I have found that there is nothing better than your own two eyes and a search engine when gleaning for content ideas. The truth is that good research isn’t easy, and easy research isn’t good. If you spend the time to compose a solid piece, you can take the satisfaction in knowing that you put forth the effort to deliver a well-rounded piece of work.
Q: I assume that having such a great experience in copywriting you have learnt a lot in many spheres, do you have any story how this knowledge helped you in everyday life?
A: Oddly enough, that old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” rings entirely true here. In real life, I have full-sleeve tattoos and a mohawk. Most people would look at you and judge you in the corporate world because you appear differently than them, and starkly in contrast. In my experience, once I get to talking to people who otherwise have prejudged me, they quickly come to realize that I am well-spoken and well-educated. My profession has taught me this one invaluable lesson: communication is an indispensable tool that can breach all cultural barriers. In fact, some of my closest friends were actually people who I had met randomly who had judged me at first sight, based upon my appearance. Upon us conversing, we realized that while our external appearances were polar opposites, we actually shared many common values. In short: perception is merely the representation of the first inflection by one’s ego; whereas communication and depth actually color in the lines with the real beauty… something that only comes from within.
Thank you, Michael!