Creating Content that Actually Converts with Nicole Pecaro


Nicole outlines how to plan and execute an effective content marketing strategy. 


Nicole Pecaro is a creative leader with more than 10 years of design experience who has contributed to over $50 million in impacted revenue. She has conceived and executed hundreds of creative sales and marketing proposals and PPT presentations that won new and retained existing clients. She has also provided marketing department leadership, managing design resources, and building a creative team from the ground up. Her entrepreneurial drive has led to creative strategies that secured top accounts, ranging from American Express to Pepsi. 


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Billy Bateman 0:02
All right, everyone. Welcome to Digital Conversations. I am your host, Billy Bateman. And today I am joined by Nicole Pecaro. Nicole. Thanks for joining me today.

Nicole Pecaro 0:14
Hey, Billy, nice to see you. Thanks for having me.

Billy Bateman 0:17
Yeah, yeah. I’m excited for this conversation about content and how we can create really great content and optimize it. But for people that don’t know, Nicole, I’ll just give you a really brief intro. And then Nicole can give you the details.

Nicole’s Background

But Nicole is an Associate Director of creative with a strong emphasis on digital strategy and demand generation at captive or captivate, she brings 10 years of experience in design marketing strategy, and a proven track record of revenue growth.

And she’s also just really fun to talk to. So we’re glad to have you on the show today and give everything you know, that’s high level, but tell everyone a little bit about yourself and what you do and about captivate.

Nicole Pecaro 1:03
Sure, um, I live in Chicago, and I’ve been with captivate for about five or six years now. And so I help out a lot with the creative coming up with mock ideas for, you know, the sales, Department of marketing, but I’m also getting into demand and lead generation.

which has been the last year and it’s been a lot of fun, you know, trying to find our audience, how do we get in front of them, and just trying to, you know, coming up with ideas, seeing what works and what doesn’t work and going for that. So yeah, I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to share some ideas with you guys. Hopefully, it inspires you. And, you know, I’m just learning just as much as you are. So I really appreciate you having me on.

Incorporating Demand Gen Strategies Last Year

Billy Bateman 1:53
Yeah, no, this should be This should be fun. So, I mean, let’s just hop into it a little bit. The last year been pretty tough on marketers. The normal plays, some, some continue to work, but a lot of them just you had we had to rethink things. So, yeah, you know, how have you incorporated demand Gen strategies at captivate over the last the last year?

Using Thought Leadership

Nicole Pecaro 2:19
Sure. So one of the initiatives we implemented a captivate was thought leadership. And that idea was born again, you know, when things when pivot was the key word to say, that was one of our pivot ideas was to really expand our office building to residential.

What Captivate is Known For

So to give you some background, what that means is Captivate is known for screens and elevators. So imagine you’re, you know, in the high rise, and you go into an elevator, and someone’s with you, next to you. And it’s kind of awkward, you know, there could be like, weird sounds weird eye contact.

And that’s where the born and the birth of cafe was, was, how can we make and alleviate a little bit of that awkwardness? You know, that 15 second, that 22nd awkwardness for you to look at a screen? And so, you know, thoughtful content, what is that? What do you what is on that screen, it’s thoughtful content, it’s ads based.

Communication with Residents

So it’s brands allowing them to get to their audience that are writing the elevators. And it’s also there’s a portal for the building to be able to communicate to their tenants. So let’s say there’s a bathroom out on the third floor, or there was an event, whoever’s writing that elevator will then get to know who that building is also, if there’s any events, whether you’re a tenant or just a guest in that building.

So it’s a, it’s a great communication tool, and that’s what captivate is. But imagine, now you’re an office building and pandemic happens. And now we have to expand into the residential. And so we’ve been at Captivate and doing this for 25 years. So and we have a ground base of 25 years of audience and now we have to expand into a new space as residential pun intended.

How do we attract that audience?

And we don’t know that audience, how do we attract that audience? How do we make them know who we are, but also trust us? You know, it’s like, in the residential space, they already have those brands that they know, to call on that are, you know, on that vendor list? How do we get on that vendor list?

Create Relevant Content

And the way that we wanted to be a part of that is to create content that was relevant to this new set of audience that we’re not, that we’re just learning about? and saying. Hey, you know, we know what we’re talking about. We have 25 years of experience, we have amazing, you know, intelligent people at our company who can create this content for you that would be beneficial to your life to be, you know, what are your pain points? let’s talk about them.

And then getting in front of them, you know, through these blog posts through these thoughtful content series. So then, when they do have an issue they think of captivate as their solution. So by doing that, we want to just start with thought leadership.

How to Find out What Your Audience Wants

Billy Bateman 5:04
Awesome, awesome. So starting with thought leadership trying to get into the new market, I love it. So a lot of a lot of businesses do it. I think if done well, like, it’s a great way to get in there. So how do you go about figuring out what your audience wants? And finding out what to write about? Like, where did you guys start?

Doing Market Research

Unknown Speaker 5:27
Yeah, so a lot of it. I mean, I would say two, two starting points is one lesson. And the second one is research. So like I said, we have sales reps, who are pretty familiar with the commercial real estate, and we’re getting into residential. So it’s really listening to those people who are on the ground, you know, on the ground drumming up business, you know, the lead gen specialist, what are your conversations? Like? What are the trends? What are your, you know, our audience, what are they interested in? Because we don’t have that as marketers, you know, you can assume, but that’s not always the best, you know, protocol, when it comes to creating content, or just any campaign, you kind of got to know your audience.

Customer Success

Unknown Speaker 6:11
And also, you know, working with a customer success, you know, it’s great that they love our product, but why, and what works, but also what doesn’t, it’s just as important to know, it doesn’t work as to what works. And then also, you know, like I said, the sales reps.

Nicole Pecaro 6:27
So what are what are those tough conversations that you’re having? How can then we create content that really solves their problems? And it’s that listening part, rather than thinking, Oh, I know what they want. And assuming. So once you have all of your, your notes, and you’re listening, you do your research.

Using Search Tools

So that can be from doing Google AdWords, you know? Okay, so we can have conversions to Google ads, which is great. So we have a keyword if you have a conversion, we know that people are searching for that, which is awesome. Google Trends, how do you compare and contrast two different types of keywords. Another one is just doing a manual search of just searching on your own and saying, Okay, well, if I was them, what would I be searching and what pops up? Are those are those guideline, you know, blog posts, are they lists? Are they how tos.

Figure Out and Fact Find

So it’s just again, figuring out fact finding. And then also one, one tool that I love that I’d like to highlight is the SEM rush, keyword tool. So SEMRush is an SEM and SEO platform, it has an incredible amount of information that could help you guide you to figure out what your audience is searching for online. Which has been super helpful for me. So yeah, I would just say listen.

And research and, you know, having those platforms that can really help you guide you, because, honestly, like, we were kind of a deer in the headlights, not knowing and making assumptions, you know, you just got to take a step back. figure, listen, and then also figure out what people are searching for not making assumptions.

What Type of Content

Billy Bateman 8:11
Okay, okay. So you mentioned like, you know, writing how to guides or lists where, I mean, I imagine you’ve probably tried a bunch of different things, but where did you guys start with? What type of content were you guys writing?

Nicole Pecaro 8:26
So, I would say, and, you know, the first is the how tos, you know, a lot of it had to do, you know, talking about the pandemic to like how to communicate with your residents. You know, and also talking about, you know, how the pandemic has affected our tenants and residents through mental health and how our screens can help with that.

Look at Pain Points

And just the mental health of meaning, like, if, if you can’t leave your building, you know, if you’re in a residential space, it could really have an effect. How can you How can we provide a sense of communication and community to these residents?

And that’s where that pain point and that solution of starting that blog point, that’s where we started, you know, and then it evolved into, okay, well, let’s see what people are researching, you know, people are researching, like, what is a digital display? What is a screen? Why would I need one of those real questions that people are like actually searching?

Using SEMRush

And so in SEMrush, you know, if let’s say you have a keyword you can see in the magic tool, part of the platform, you can see the volume, which then really breaks up your assumption. So let’s say you’re like, Oh, I know that people are asking, like, how do I communicate with my tenants, but they’re not, not online? At least? Yeah, you know, so or, or, you know, if they are asking maybe it’s not about what the direction that we’re looking for. So then how do we reposition it. And that’s where SEMrush really helps give the guideline of, here’s the value of what people are searching for to your keyword that you’re testing out. And again, it’s tests and trial and error. So it’s been.

Optimizing Blog Posts

Billy Bateman 10:17
So as you’re, as you’re, as you’re going through and optimizing your blog post sounds like sem rush. That’s a big part of what you’re doing. We use it, I think it’s a great tool. high level, like, once you’ve published an article, are you going back and optimizing that To try and get as much traction as possible?

Formulating Ideas for Blog Posts

Unknown Speaker 10:41
Yeah, so that’s a great question. We actually optimize it before the articles published. And that’s really the goal is to come up with these, you know, again, you’re listening to the sales rep to what the trends are, you’re looking at social media, you’re seeing what people are interested in, then you come back to the drawing board, and you go to sem rush, and you say, Okay, here’s what here’s a two or three ideas that I have, let’s see what people are actually searching for, and how then we can incorporate captivate.

And some blog posts, Billy aren’t about cat bait, we’re doing an interview series, where we’re now bringing on vendors that possibly could help our audience that has nothing to do with captivate or digital screens. So yeah, before publishing any posts, we always will bring it into SEMrush to do the keyword search, to make sure that we’re not like cannibalizing any keywords.

So let’s say we have one about digital screens, but we don’t want another blog post about digital screens, we just want to make sure that they work hand in hand, but they’re not competing with each other when it comes to ranking on Google.

Formulating Plans Before the Interview

Nicole Pecaro 11:46
So there’s just a lot of great ends, that sem rush has to offer that we we take into account before, even you know talking to the person that we’re interviewing, or we take an account before we talk to, you know, a real estate specialist, a captivate because it’s kind of like the chicken before the cart, a cart for you know, the horse before the cart, you know, that phrase, chicken and egg.

It’s like for us, we want to make sure that we have some direction before we even start down the process of a blog post, and then we’ll write about it. And then we can go into SEMrush. And, you know, they can give us ideas as to here’s how to make your content more readable. You know, here’s some links here some extra keywords that are relevant to what you’re writing about.

One Platform to Test Recommendations

So it’s really helpful again, it’s, if you have a team of people doing this, it really, you know, makes that level field of, Okay, here’s the direction of what we’re doing. And then everyone’s on board, because there’s so much information out there about what to do, and a lot of the information to conflict. You know, it’s like, oh, well, I read this article, well, no, you are that article, and they’re saying two different things.

So to me, it’s really nice to have that one platform where it’s like, Okay, this is what we’re saying, we’re gonna, we’re gonna test out a few of the recommendations and see what happens. So it’s, it’s really helped us, you know, it’s benefited our organic pageviews. It’s, you know, doubled. Also, again, it’s just that brand awareness, we want to be in front of those people as often as possible, of making people aware that we are in now in that residential space.

Using the Tools

Billy Bateman 13:34
I love it. I love it. So as you’re going through, it’s been a long time since I’ve personally done SEO. But as you’re using these tools, are you finding that you know, we all think like, Okay, this is how we’re going to outline and organize the article and the keywords that we should, we should focus on to get the most out of this. But when you go back, you put it through, you have analyzed, how often does does the tool, the tools come back and say, Hey, your assumptions are kind of wrong. And this is what you need to do?

Spelling Changes for SEO

Nicole Pecaro 14:08
Yeah, it’s as simple as spelling. Right? So if you think of the word multifamily, it can either be spelled one word or two, with the hyphen. And it’s, it’s, well I use a hyphen shouldn’t my audience and it’s that breaking those assumptions down is to know there’s more volume with one word, you know, people don’t want to take the time to write you know, so that’s, that’s like the colloquialisms, the terms. Do you keep that in there? What are people are searching for? To just make sure that when they are quickly typing, there’s no hyphen, which makes a big difference in coming up in Google search.

Billy Bateman 14:50
Interesting, I love it. I love it. And what others you have any other stories we set that’s really interesting because we have a similar thing sometimes with one of our products is it chatbot is chatbots what is one word or two words? You know? I don’t know what we’re doing right now from an SEO standpoint, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I think it’s supposed to be one word is the proper way to do it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if more people when their search engine go two word. So that’s an interesting point. Any other stories?

Story Example on SEO

Nicole Pecaro 15:24
Yeah, so we just created a blog post recently with one of our sales reps, who was a property manager, and as you know, property managers, our audience, and so she was writing a story about how to manage your time. And she kept saying residents, residents, you know, manage your time to give the best experience to your residents. And when I type in residents, I was getting a little bit of different you know, it’s the school it’s like two different schools of thoughts. It’s like you You speak to it, but are people typing? are they searching for that word? And so I put residents in the SEMrush tool, and I got the craziest results like Resident Evil. Are you familiar with that? I had a Google what that meant for

Billy Bateman 16:14

Resident Evil

Nicole Pecaro 16:16
Resident Evil village. Um, so a lot of the keywords that we talked to, you know, in business is just so different from what the high volume keywords are people are searching for. So it was just interesting. So with that, I and also resident meaning like inpatient resident, or, you know, not necessarily a resident of a multifamily building. And that’s where we were looking to, to target.

You know, so we just switched our strategy from resident to tenant. Because when I put in tenant that was more so of condo, condo tenants, how to, you know, how to make tenants happy, how to communicate to tenants. So it’s just like, that was the line. And again, it’s just like breaking those assumptions. And then, I mean, are you familiar with Resident Evil? I don’t even know what that is.

High School

Billy Bateman 17:10
Actually, I’m of the age that Resident Evil was like a pretty big video game back when I was probably I want to say middle school, high school. Oh, my friends played Resident Evil. I remember, it’s like a zombie game if I remember. Right. And then I actually spent some time in commercial real estate. So to me, I know, real estate speak is its tenant. It’s not resident, you know? So that would

Using Different Terms for SEO

make sense to me for commercial real estate. Yeah, so commercial real estate is tenants but then for residential, is it? What is it? You know, do you call your Yeah,

I think it all depends on where where you are, but for the big multifamily. It’s generally they talk about them as tenants at least internally, you know, when the manager if you’re talking

Nicole Pecaro 18:02
Yeah, no, thank you for that and say like, I love I love hearing that with your background. You know, I didn’t realize that you had a background in that too. So that that’s really cool. I think when I was a kid, I was more like Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat. I would just sneak playing when my brother wasn’t around.

Resident Evil Story

Billy Bateman 18:19
You know, I actually we had Mortal Kombat when I was really young. Funny story is my mom did not want us to have that game. I bought it from a kid at school in the play at recess. I was like, scrap bought it for recess. Yeah. And then we we hit it from my mom and we only play when she was gone. We had a younger brother who’s about like seven years younger than me.

Who wasn’t in school. figured out where we were hiding the game because he wanted to play got the game out while we were at school started playing and we were in a world of trouble when when my brother and I got home from school that day. But Mortal Kombat video game still great game. So yeah, not to throw us off. Yeah, good, good saris. Oh, yeah. Yeah, look it up. I don’t know if I ever played it. I just knew what it was. Got.

Any other any other insights? Before we wrap up the the you would like to share with somebody who’s, who’s decided, hey, we’re really going to get started on this content strategy. We maybe they’ve been haphazardly doing it just to do something, or haven’t been doing anything. What’s your one or two pieces of advice for anyone who’s decided we’re actually going to really do this? Well?

Be Patient with Yourself

Nicole Pecaro 19:51
Yeah. So give be patient with yourself. I would say you know, obviously, you have to figure out your goals. So are your goals to just like what are your kids API’s are at Is it like higher funnel? Is it just awareness? Or like informative blog posts? Or, like, what are the goals of your blog post and also, if you’re, if you’re generating leads, that takes time. So I would just give it to, you know, six months, three to six months to to see some actual uptick, whether that’s you know, your, your tracking your pageviews, or your your engagement, your social media engagement, linking back to your blog posts, you know,

Test your Hypothesis

it’s you just have to test, you know, rinse and repeat. And then also see what works and what doesn’t. And another thing is with blogs is that you have to make sure it’s kind of on the same cadence, so then your audience knows when to kind of expect it. So we just do ours once a month, just because we started pretty new at it. And then also do you know, just other projects and bandwidth. But then when we do have more time, we add a few blog posts within that month. But we still are having that one cadence of once a month just to keep it consistent.

Contact Info

Billy Bateman 21:03
Yeah, I love it. I love it. Okay, and Nicole, thank you so much for for joining me and for sharing your insights. If anyone wants to reach out to you and continue the conversation, what’s the best way for them to contact you?

Nicole Pecaro 21:20
Yeah, my email is Nicole. I’m sorry. It’s n picaro. So and p c a r o at captivate calm.

Billy Bateman 21:29
Awesome. Thank you. Thank you. And with that, we’ll wrap it up and, and we’ll chat later in the goal. Awesome. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate your time.