Nate Turner is the co-founder of Ten Speed, a tech-enabled content optimization company focused on helping companies get more results from the content they already have on their site. Before that, Nate spent almost nine years working for Sprout Social. He was the first marketer at Sprout and eventually became their VP of Marketing Operations and Acquisition.
In this episode, Nate talks about all things content optimization and the marketing initiative he spearheaded at Sprout Social, which helped the company grow from zero to $100 Million in revenue.
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Joe Troyer 0:52
Hey everybody, welcome to Show Me The Nuggets. Today we have on Nate Turner, where we're going to be talking about how he helped grow a company from 100,000 to 22 million in five years with inbound marketing and then actually scaled to well over $100 million dollars in revenue. He is the co founder now of 10 Speed and actually came from Sprout Social as a supermodest startup to doing over $100 million in revenue as his time there. And I'm really excited to pick Nate's brain. So mate, man, Nate, without further ado, welcome to the show.
Nate Turner 1:31
Thanks, Joe. I'm glad to be here.
Joe Troyer 1:33
So I always like to start with just the background like how did you end up in this world of digital marketing as we know it?
Nate Turner 1:40
Yeah. So I was working with a company, pretty, pretty fresh out of college. And we were not like a digital company. But they were redoing a website and asked me to kind of project manage that. In one of many things I was doing and near the end, developer asked me what I wanted the SEO keywords to be, which I did not know. So I had to go look it up. And I just remember that night in my apartment, just like read a couple articles, and then just read a few more and just couldn't stop. And that was just like, the beginning. And no looking back, basically. So I really just started immersing myself into SEO and digital more broadly. And then got a job with a small agency doing SEO, PPC, some web redesign stuff. And then from there, join sprout and kind of grew that. So it's pretty, pretty wild how it sort of happened accidentally, but it was great.
Joe Troyer 2:39
It's funny, it's always those accidental stories. Like that's what we hear so much on the podcast, it's funny how just timing and pure coincidence makes for these crazy outcomes?
Nate Turner 2:48
Joe Troyer 2:49
So I'm sure that most of the podcast listeners if if not, like quite all have heard of Sprout Social, you obviously were the first marketer ever at Sprout Social and help lead the inbound marketing and really helped spearhead that revenue growth, or at least a big part of it, going from zero to 100 K and then to 20 plus million, and then to, you know, over 100 million in revenue and then to their IPO. I'd love to hear about what do you think kind of the 80/20 was of the content marketing initiative? What was the big things not kind of the traditional title tags, meta tags, what were kind of the big things that led to that group to that growth in terms of content marketing.
Nate Turner 3:32
Yeah. So the the very first iteration of the blog was actually a little bit more of like, kind of, like quasi news site. So almost like a Mashable type of look at like social and what's happening, it just, it was such an emerging space. And then, when the editor have that, left, probably like two years, in or so I took over ownership of the blog and the team and, and, you know, there was really kind of a well rounded effort within all of marketing. But we, that's where we really started to shift into a lot of, you know, much more like SEO content, and specifically creating content on topics to be, you know, thorough and ranking. And I would say that, you know, at 20, from from content marketing standpoint, was really, you know, understanding our audience, and not just, you know, we could, we could write about social media topics. But it really was understanding that our audience was social media marketers, it was digital marketers, it was people in agencies and so understanding kind of everything that they were they had on their plate, which is not just, you know, tweeting or engaging on on a social platform, it's multi channel, it's understanding it's measuring port, like, impact all that stuff. And so really understanding the broader audience led to topics that weren't necessarily totally tied to our product, but really, we're still helpful to our audience. So builds a lot of authority and trust there. And then also, you know, some of the CO marketing stuff we're able to do with other companies across, you know, Zendesk and Unbounce. And companies that were sort of tangential to what we did, but very much relevant to a digital marketer who's responsible for a lot of stuff. So I think that was was huge, just kind of not limiting ourselves to that one topic, but but really understanding our audience better and then and then catering to everything that they cared about.
Joe Troyer 5:33
Gotcha. Yeah. So kind of going full circle, so to speak on everything that they think about. They care about what you know, really dominating the conversation, not just on social, but everything that they would be thinking,
And you said something interesting. You talked about partners, right? And working collaborating with other brands? Can you talk to us a little bit about what that what that meant Nate
Nate Turner 7:46
Yeah. Yeah, so the, the way we really approached it was, we know that social ties into a lot of places. So like, for Facebook ads, like there's the social ads, and there's landing pages. And so like, that was an easy one. For for like partnering up with unbounce, they do so much with with ads and landing pages. Social is a big channel for customer service and customer care. So that's another area we can kind of branch into. So really, it was kind of looking at who some of the leaders were in those spaces. Wistia we did one with with them for video, and like video and social and how that works together. And so the goal was always create a ton of value for for our audience and prospects and customers like, by essentially going and finding the experts in those areas, and then, you know, crafting topics that would overlap with social and make it relevant to our audience, but also really just educating and making them better. So that was, you know, not just blog content, but the Co marketing like webinars or guides, we would do together, anything like that. And then some of the other like research content that the marketing team is doing, like always just trying to find ways to be a resource and make people better at their jobs and and add value that way.
Joe Troyer 9:12
I love the the collaboration approach and the Co branded approach. And actually a topic that we really haven't talked about much here on the podcast, I'd love to dive a little bit deeper in this, because we have a lot of people that follow us that really do a ton of content. They do lots of guides, really good content. They really have spearheaded content well, but I feel like we haven't really talked about kind of the Co brand opportunity. And I feel like that would be really, really interesting to some of our audience. You comfortable.
Nate Turner 9:45
Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Joe Troyer 9:46
Perfect, man. So when you think about that collaboration, what what's the pitch to the Wistia or to the other brand, like how do you get somebody's attention at that level? Like what are they interested in what are they not interested in? Tell us kind of the What works on that front?
Nate Turner 10:06
Yeah, so there's a couple of things. One is I think you, I don't remember exactly what this saying is like, like punching above your weight class or whatever, like, you can't go too far, you know, like you can have, you know, blog that gets a few visitors and eight people on your subscriber list and do something with a big brand. So I think kind of knowing where you're at, and trying to find some companies that seem to be kind of on that level, or you know, a little above because you start to get a little need some advantages there. But you work with some that are also below you, and you're kind of helping them out. So I think that's one is really just kind of understanding where that's at. Because at the end of the day, so much of it is about kind of what each company feels they can commit to bringing to the table in terms of promotions, but that's, you know, your your email list, but it's also your social channels and anything you have there, because you want it to be pretty, pretty fair on both sides. And people feel like you're, you're equally contributing. And I think the other is, it's a ton easier when you can find companies that you can see through their site or social channels that they've done similar stuff. So when when you can see that they've kind of done this already with a few other companies, then it's really easy to see who's that person in that you know, video, or who's the the name on this piece of content. And you have a pretty good starting point for where to reach out. And typically, I think a lot of companies that are doing it want, like are pretty open to any new partners any ways. And I would say the third part is just really, like you said, kind of contextualizing Why, why you think what they know is helpful to your audience, and also why your audience is a good fit to what they know and in their, their objectives and whatnot. So kind of really helping bridge that gap in some of the outreach, I think is important too, because it's not just some random thing, like you have a pretty clear reason for why you chose them. And why you want to connect on that.
Joe Troyer 12:08
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So once you find the partners, you, you agree upon something, at least at the highest level, right? Like it's of interest, what's the commitment? Right? So you just pitched me, I'm like, Yes, I own something that's related. A content collaboration, a partnership would be great, I can see the value. You know, it's, it makes sense for me to send my users to you, it makes sense for you to send your users to me, what's what's contextually the responsibility or the agreement past just that.
Nate Turner 12:40
Yeah, so the, the thing that I've always tried to do is, have some, some give and take or you know, feels like kind of equal amount of work for either side. So if I were to come to you and say, Hey, I think we should do this together, it's a great fit. Here's a topic we'd love for you to cover or, you know, three ideas. You know, would you be willing to do that, that's putting a lot of work on you, because you have to kind of be the one to present and put together the content. And so on the flip side would be, we'll host it, we'll build a landing page, we'll do you know, the technical, you know, hosting a webinar, or, you know, we're gonna design out the PDF, if it's a guide or something like that. And that way it feels more balanced, or it's the other way around, like, we have this topic, we think it'd be great, we're willing to do it, you know, would you be Would you be able to host or whatever. So, typically, you know, a little bit of, of back and forth of, you know, who it makes the most sense to do those things, and in how to kind of share the work. So it feels fair.
Joe Troyer 13:43
Gotcha. So when those happen, and that makes perfect sense, right? Like, you want to take a lot of the legwork away, if you can, if you already have the systems and processes makes it a lot easier for them to say, yes. So then you're going to do some type of, of promotion to that marketing piece, whether it's a webinar or a piece of content, or whatever it is. And you're both going to do it together. Is that kind of the idea? Like, hey, you know, I'm going to promote, you're going to promote, and then kind of it's over or tell me about the next like, what, what is a typical deal? And I know, I'm sure they're not all typical, but tell me how a deal would look like.
Nate Turner 14:21
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I think typically, you would want to land on some idea of like a relative target. So, you know, we want to generate 1200 leads from this. And we want roughly, you know, 600 from each of our audiences. And some, you know, some companies are pretty hardcore, and they want to like kind of try to compare and make sure that they're not like, we're actually getting net new 600 from your audience, like people that weren't already in our database. But I can say most of the time. It's just sort of coming up with that target. That everyone agrees on they feel is like reasonable that they can actually generate that many. And then I think typically, the goal is to have that lead share, like there's, you're, you're sharing the full list with each other, obviously, I have to go through the right steps on sort of the legal copy in there and making sure people understand that there's both of those and a sort of, you know, GDPR, and that kind of stuff. But within that, I think that's the most common and there are cases, though, that it's just very, let's do this together. So we have a smart piece of content that we can use, however we want. And it's not necessarily that we're all promoting to the same thing, it's just we've both done this, we can both take it and do whatever we want. However, we want to use it in ads, or email promotion or anything like that. So I think there's, that's probably the two most common is either lead share, or just collaborating on the content, and then each goes their own way. But, and then from there, it's kind of a mix of like, some companies can send one email to a portion of their database and totally accomplish it. Others will do you know, email and organic, social and paid social and, you know, a number of things to really get to that level and and promote it. But either way, it's just it kind of just exposes your company to a new audience that is still relevant and sort of tangential to, to what you're doing.
Joe Troyer 16:29
Love it, man. So let's step out for a second really appreciate the insights there. Definitely some nuggets, and and i know some of our users are gonna be able to, to definitely run with those tactics. Tell us about 10 Speed, what what the heck is 10? speed? How did it all come together? Give us the background.
Nate Turner 16:47
Yeah, so 10 speed is a tech enabled content optimization service. So we layer right on with teams that are already doing content creation, blogging, content marketing, we are basically layering in our SEO expertise and understanding of that, to really focus on how to optimize existing content that you already have to perform better, as well as how to, you know, guide the creation of new content to perform. And so very focused on SEO content, specifically, so content that would rank in search engines. And so yeah, we don't do the writing. We're just we layer right on start, you have writers or freelancers, however, you're kind of doing that. We're just sort of that fractional resource that slots in and helps helps companies out. So my co founder was with me at Sprout Social for five years, leading SEO and so we've kind of both had exposure there, and then both gone off and done our own things elsewhere, and just super passionate about, you know, SEO and content and the results they can get for companies. And so that was just a pretty logical thing for us to want to create a company around that. Awesome. Yeah,
Joe Troyer 18:02
that makes perfect sense. So um, you guys are obviously experts, when it comes to content marketing and SEO. What What do you think are the biggest struggles and mistakes that you see real brands making that are trying to attack content and trying to attack content marketing? That that you see over and over? What are the biggies?
Nate Turner 18:24
yeah, I mean, I think one of the big ones is sort of the part of the reason that Ten Speed exists is like, it's just so common. For I mean, big companies all the way down to people just kind of running their own blog is like, kind of just getting this hamster wheel of, like, I got to create new, I got to create new, and it's, you know, how much new stuff are we creating constantly. And there's never, you know, look back into what's there, what's working, what was working, but has declined in performance and actually needs to be optimized again. So that's, that's a big part of where I tend to be comes in. is, isn't that like just kind of helping people look back and see how much opportunity they actually have within what they already have. So I think that the hamster wheel issue is definitely a big one. And then I would say, you know, not having like, it's kind of vague concept, but like, not having a clear strategy, like just sort of work or create content on this. And then this month, we're going to create content on this and sort of whatever the current topic is, or whatever they're feeling versus like I was saying before, like there's when you really understand the audience and the pain points, and the topics that you want to be an authority on as a company, then you can build a pretty clear plan around that and stay pretty focused, and I didn't get a lot more results so that that'd be a couple that I would see.
Joe Troyer 19:58
I love the I love thatThe hamster wheel analogy. I was reviewing at the end of last year, my blog here at Digital triggers. And notice that like 80 80% of the referring traffic came into like one blog post. And also if 80% or 75%, of, of the of the new links that were built that weren't just garbage words like that same piece of content, yet, yeah, it's outdated. And I haven't touched it in like 12 months. So yeah, Case in point. Yeah.
Nate Turner 20:33
And that's, and that's where, like, Yes, exactly. And it's just so common, whether it's like, let's say the two biggest reasons that content performance declines is one is that just competitors, like you wrote it a long time ago. And then since then, competitors are coming in and being better or staying on top of it. And it's, you know, slowly kind of pushed you down, you lose some traffic, or, as companies get bigger and keep publishing more content, you end up with a blog post on this topic, and another one, pretty similar, and you get some overlap, and you get multiple pieces that are competing for for those same terms, you kind of get the internal competition are kind of two of the biggest reasons we would see that but yeah, I mean, it's, it happens all the time. I mean, people been told for 15 years to, you know, create content, create content, like, that's the way to go. And there's just just massive amounts of content out there. that's underperforming.
Joe Troyer 21:31
So um, I see a massive piece or massive topic in the industry is whether or not to keep all of your underperforming pages or not, right, from an SEO perspective, right? When you got the four posts, five posts, 100 posts that are about the same thing, what do you do? Right, like, do you? Do you build one massive piece? That's the best piece? Do you get rid of the others? I'm curious kind of your perspective on that topic. If that if that question makes sense. If you got what I'm saying?
Nate Turner 22:03
Yeah, definitely. So there's certainly I think, especially when you get into like hundreds or 1000s of blog posts on your site, there becomes a real benefit to just outright deleting content. And it's pretty obvious which ones you know, it's like, this has zero backlinks, and it has no impressions or barely any impressions and no traffic in the last 90 days, like, No, you know, no internal traffic people, it's not a popular post that people are finding through your own site as well. So like, there's, there's definitely some opportunities there. And the benefit of deleting some old stuff is that you're, you're decreasing the amount of pages that a search engine has to crawl, which puts more time and efficiency into the ones that you do care about. And the other is really and that's a you know, the content consolidation is the other part that I think you were sort of unintentionally teeing up for me, which is like a big part of what we do with tennspeed, because we're seeing the internal competition or just things that are loosely related, and you might have, you know, 100, word blog posts over here, and another one and one that kind of talks about it, and we're able to kind of look at a lot of that data and, and understand like, here's the core topic, here's the, here's the piece, that should be the the main one. And we're going to take, you know, maybe parts from these, bring them together into the main one, and then recommend, you know, 301 redirects to that main one, which gives more more signals to two search engines like this is this is the one for the topic. But that's definitely definitely the case. So sometimes deleting content outright. And then when there is some internal competition or things that are good and getting traffic. But they're related, you can certainly combine them into a much more thorough piece of content, and then redirect.
Joe Troyer 23:54
Yep. Makes perfect sense. So when you were talking about the reasons why kind of content dies and doesn't become relevant anymore, you hit my scenario on the head. You gave two examples. Mine was I was the first to talk about it. I got a bunch of links, I got a bunch of attention. And as time went on, like you described, more and more and more people wrote about the topic and more people that have way more authority on their site than I do started writing about the topic. And so what happened is, as I didn't keep up with it, their content so to outrank mine, so you hit it right on the head. I'm curious, if you were in my shoes, what would you do if you were me? Like what would be the process to reinvigorate that or keep an eye on that and keep reinvigorating it. If you've got a content piece like that, that makes up so much of your inbound links, and or traffic or use to what would be a system or a process for somebody to to build and to manage? To keep it running and to keep it performing well.
Nate Turner 25:03
So I think there's a number of aspects, one I would say is probably the biggest is you're just literally, you know, whatever that sort of core topic is, or if you want look went through and set in Search Console and saw, maybe the top five or 10 queries that drive the most traffic to your to that post search, literally just searching all of those in Google, and looking who is in the top 10. And you may be ranking above them or below, but just clicking into each post studying it, like, oh, like four or five of these are all touching on this additional part of it. And I actually don't have that part in mine. So I'm going to bring that in and do that, or, you know, the tone or the the, the, the angle that's being taken is a little more how to or a little more broken down in steps or anything like that, that you could kind of glean from that and really then go back in and just modify what you're doing there. So I would say that's probably like the biggest part of it. And the biggest step, and it's just a kind of matter of figuring that out. And then there's some other other things to do that like in you know, Search Console, or, you know, SEO tool, you could kind of see, here are some of the additional keywords that are matching to this post. But they're like, maybe the position that you're ranking for those is, you know, second or third page. And then looking at your own content, realizing we actually don't talk about this enough where it's sort of buried paragraphs, we're gonna bring it out into like, its own h2, and like, cover that a little in a little more depth, because that's something that we're seeing Google matching to it. We're just not covering it well enough. So I'll probably like a couple of the biggest things you could do to
Joe Troyer 26:46
do that. Awesome, man. That makes sense. Thank you. That's a that's greatI'll jump on that. AndI'll share the results with you all share the way it goes. Yeah.
So I think we're, I think we're now on page two. But it's a big search term. It's very relative. And it's been sliding. So this This podcast is at perfect timing So this has been really, really good. Nate, I appreciate your time, I'm sure that all of our listeners do as well, I'm goint to wrap it up in asking one last question. So instead of asking you to recommend three books, which I feel like kind of every podcast does, I like to ask a little bit of a different question, a little bit of a different twist. And what I want to ask you is what's the one book that's made? The biggest impact on the way that you do business? Or that you approach business? And why?
Nate Turner 27:41
Yeah, that's good. I certainly could name three, I would have to say, well, I'll kind of cheat I guess, and call it a tie. But like, I think they're pretty similar, like E-myth and Built to Sell. I think I have a lot of the same concepts. But do you know that to kind of merge them and draw together it's like, there's, there's a way to do it. That's that you're building a company that's very clear process. Good systems. Like I'm just a very systems thinking kind of person. And so I think that that was really huge for me that sort of demystifies like, how do you build a company and scale it up and know that you're doing it the right way. And I think that you have consistency as it scales. And so those two books together, I think, as one as cheating. Well, it is really been impactful, because I think it's just the concept really just changed the way I thought about kind of moving forward with some of the consulting I was doing for and then even into tenspeed now.
Joe Troyer 28:51
Awesome. And so on in the show notes. We'll be sure to link up 10 speed. It's 10 speed.io. Correct. Yep. Hence we.io. And then we'll also link you up on social it looks like LinkedIn, you're the most active Is that right?
Nate Turner 29:05
Yeah. Yep. All right.
Joe Troyer 29:06
Perfect. All right, brother. I really appreciate your time. I know that all of our audience, as well and maybe we'll have you back in the future.
Nate Turner 29:14
Cool, sounds good. Thanks
Joe Troyer 29:16
Alright sounds fantastic See you later. See you everybody.
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