#046 Exploring the Intersection of AI and Human-Generated Content Strategies with Alejandro Angel

Compose.ly Chronicles: Navigating the Content Cosmos

Guest & Host

Alejandro Angel & Steven Morell

Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. Join Steven Morell in a dynamic conversation with Alejandro Angel, Chief Revenue Officer at Compose.ly, as they navigate the evolving landscape of content creation. Dive into the strategies behind Compose.ly's impressive growth, the intersection of AI and human-generated content, and the essential role of accurate information in the age of SEO. Uncover the nuances of sales in the mid-market, dissect the customer journey, and gain insights into the delicate balance between machine-generated and human-crafted content. Discover how Compose.ly is revolutionizing the industry, one word at a time.

November 30th, 2023


Steven Morell: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result! But a result of what exactly? In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the input. We speak with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their journey. Join us on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's unpack what works for them, and what . Today with our guest, Alejandro Angel from Compose.ly. Alejandro, bienvenido, nice to have you. Thank you for joining.

Alejandro Angel: Thank you very much, Steven. Thanks for inviting me.

Steven Morell: It's a pleasure to have you, Alejandro, real quick for our audience, who are you, what do you do? Who do you do it for, and what makes it useful and successful?

Alejandro Angel: So my name is Alejandro Angel. I am originally from Columbia and I'm the Chief Revenue Officer for a company called Compose.ly. What we do is we create content. Human written content and AI written content for marketers in order to support their SEO strategy. I've been in sales for about 11 years and I've been with this company for five years. We have seen pretty rapid growth. We have gone from zero to 5 million ARR in the first four years, and it's been a great journey. 

Steven Morell: I am especially excited to have you here because we used to be something like competitors. I was in a company also creating machine generated content long before Open AI and chat GPT was a thing. I think we both have been selling machine generated content back in the day when people said, "BS, that is impossible.That cannot work." So, it's a very special pleasure to have you here today and discuss this. Real quick, for our audience Compose.ly, you have AI generated content and human generated content. Real quick, how does it work and who is it for?

Alejandro Angel: So we started with human generated content. That was our bread and butter. Since we started a very good community of writers and in very specific industries. Just finding good writers is not easy. We get thousands of applicants every month and we only hire 1% of the writers. It is hard. And also writers that can write for digital marketing and to support marketing initiatives. So that's what we've been doing since the beginning for us. You, I know you started writing with language models way before we did. We started recently, we started this year and just were adapting to chatGPT and the AI becoming more of a mainstream kind of solution for these methods. For these goals. So we started more recently. We've seen good success, but we have realized that it has been, is just for some use cases, depending what you're writing and what you're looking for, and just for some customers, depending what they're looking for. Our main goal has always been how can we create the most impact for our customers? And always coming, stepping back and thinking about that. And that's why we have separated and tried to figure out which is better for which customer and what are the better use cases for each.

Steven Morell: As someone who has just like you sold content creation in a broad sense of the meaning for years. I wanna take the time to discuss where machine written content versus Human written content is, which is the right solution for which use case. But before we go there, for our listeners, we are all salespeople. Describe a little bit, you go to market structure, and maybe we go along the customer journey. Who is your typical customer? What is your ICP?

Alejandro Angel: Our ICP is mid-market companies, mid-size market companies that have a marketing team that need support and scaling their content, like SEO, it's our main, the main strategy that we support that marketers are doing. For these, you need. Consistent content like cadence to be publishing consistent content month over month. You probably understand the content of the game. You are broadcasting one podcast a day, which is amazing. I can't believe you're able to pull that off. Very impressive. But yeah, for companies it's.

Steven Morell: I just have the pleasure to have those conversations and they're great people behind me doing the real hard work.

Alejandro Angel: There you go. That's the key, right? Like without a team, you can't make it. And that's what we do as far as composting. Like we are that team, that extension of your team to help you scale. We have clients that. Produce up to 600,000 words per month. That's just to keep it into context. It's 600 articles of a thousand words each, right? Just to make it easy math but obviously the right different size of articles. And this is to support and educate their audience, right? Like it is very important that these, so there's two things about the quality of the content that it needs to be. Basically it needs to fulfill two goals, one. All of this content at the end of the day, like 98% of the content that we produce, is to fulfill the SEO, like being searchable, and being found by Google and being seen as an authority by Google. And this brings us back to the Google algorithm and the evolution of the Google algorithm. If you go back. 10, 15 years ago, you could write content that wasn't great. You should stuff a lot of keywords and Google would give you the ranking and when they do, someone would look for your business on Google. Hey, I need the best lawyer in LA. You would pop up first and then you would get that lead. And the intent is there as well. Going back a little bit in general, as far as SEO, anyone that is.

Steven Morell: For those listeners who, who don't remember there was a time when you could take Microsoft Excel, and if you were smart, you could, abuse it to make it a text bidder and just create really crappy copy with a lot stuffed, with a lot of keywords, like phrases. And then you would just place the keywords in it, produce the content, push it out on the website, draw the traffic and make 10/20k a month just with ad sets. This was maybe 15, 20 years ago.

Alejandro Angel: 15, 20 years ago would say.

Steven Morell: Those were the glory days.

Alejandro Angel: Exactly. And then we had a glory days in a sense to create as far as sales and marketing. We were happy we could do this, but at the same time, the blog was taking a second stage on a website. If you tried to push blog 15, 20 years ago to a CEO that would say like, why would I need a blog? Why would I put a blog there? No one clicks on the blog, no one's gonna read it. And 20 years ago, you would say, they didn't need to read it. Don't worry about it. Put it there. And you'll see that there's, you're gonna get traffic with better intent. So the Google algorithm is the police. It's for the ones that are not as familiar with SEO. SEO, basically it's a lead generation strategy that is gonna bring you leads on way, way more cost effective than paid ads. Or Google ads or anything like that. anD a lot of people also associate it as more trustworthy because it's not being advertised as an ad. But basically, yeah, this blog, then you start, the Google algorithm is like the police. It was obviously generated by Google to make sure that Google still gives relevant results and doesn't lose that search traffic. Because why would I go to Google? If I look for something? It gives me the wrong response, right? So people, they will start losing their users. So this Google algorithm is basically just imagine a million spiders that are programmed to crawl all over the internet to find the best result, the best question, the best answer to anyone's question. So they're ongoing all the time, but the internet and the continent on the internet grows like crazy. Keeps growing every day and it is hard for them to send these spiders everywhere to search and research everything. They go back to sites that are producing con good content that are realizing they're doing well. And going back to AI, machine learning and also like the advancements in technology as far as software and that has, Google is one of the number one companies that have got advancements on this and on AI and everything. When you look. Behind it. They might have not just made it mainstream as fast as chat GPT, but they've been working on it way longer than open And they have their way more advanced internally, so this Google algorithm can know and get better and better. And now it's at a point that's forward those 20 years. For now, you need a really good writer, really good content, high quality content that knows not even someone that can do the research, but also has written about the industry and knows about the industry in order to write about that, for Google to recognize it. The great thing about that, it's also that. The audience is getting good content, it's getting a good response. If I'm looking at how I should start a sales team, I'm gonna find really good content that it's actually gonna give me pretty good guidance. So that's great. So there's the two goals: become a thought leadership and get that branding out there, but also the SEO side.

Steven Morell: I would challenge you on this. I think you can find content for every topic on the planet very deep into every niche. I think the quality of the content has deteriorated over the last 10, 15 years, because 15 years ago it was an expert writing this. And it was people like you and me. We marketers, we ruin everything. give us, you gave us email, we ruined it. You gave us blogs, we ruined them by taking any intern, any non-qualified person, and just giving them a list of keywords and writing this article about this topic. And the quality very often is, well, questionable, at least. Before we go deeper into this content topic I want to go back a little bit and unpack your sales approach. You said you're talking to marketing executives, is that correct? Still

Alejandro Angel: Not executive, we're talking . That has changed a little bit actually. But yeah, we from manager, content manager to VPs, we're selling to companies, mid-size marketing companies that have a marketing team that can use our tool and that need to scale that content in order to support their SEO strategy. 

Steven Morell: So we're talking person in that company that you want to talk to? 

Alejandro Angel: So there's different persons that we start conversations with, which is the manager level, supervisor. Then we talk to directors. That directors used to be, and VPs used to be the ones. Being the decision maker that has changed this year. This year the decision making has gone up a level, and now we're talking more to presidents of marketing CMOs. And for smaller companies, sometimes we talk to CEOs, but usually it's just CMOs the highest we go. And this year we have seen more involvement. level employees in the decision making,

Steven Morell: How do you reach out to them? Is it Is it outbound? How do you go about that?

Alejandro Angel: So we do both, I think. Yeah. Since we're in sales and you asked me a little bit about the sales structure, we'll dive into the sales structure because we know we're passionate about content, but the people that are listening to us probably wanna know what, what happens with the sales structure. So I'll go back with that and then I'll go into inbound and outbound, in more detail. So, to get a good picture. I will run through the history of Compose.ly since I started that, that would give you a good idea. And I think for our listeners that are starting a company that is more of a startup mode, what's gonna happen? How do you grow? And I think that is the best. Advice or at least I wouldn't say advice necessarily, but also like experience and sharing. My, what I've been through has been growing this company from zero to 5 million ARR and basically we started with founder led sales. We, he was the founder and I, the CEO and founder and myself just. Reaching out however we could. We used LinkedIn. We, even though we said at the beginning, we would never spray and pray. We did spray and pray, we did different things. My LinkedIn account got locked one time because I was like reaching out and talking too much and which I'm not proud of. Like I would go back, I wouldn't do it. But at the same time, we're in sales and we. We do what we need to do and then start those conversations. Then we started some good conversations, it was mostly outbound at that time. The inbound wasn't our strong avenue. But we were starting to play with Google ads and PPC. So in that sense we started making conversations. And the good thing about founder-led sales is that, you're gonna learn what people are saying about their product, what they're looking for, you're gonna be more, it's more of an interview than a sales sale, right? Like you're trying to sell your product, but you are modifying the conversation as you go. And I think only a founder can do that, knowing the vision.

Steven Morell: This feedback loop. Early on, I see so many tech founders because many founders are tech people who steer away from having customer conversations and who go like Once the product is developed, we gotta hire some salespeople. And that's ridiculous. You have to do it yourself for the feedback, for the understanding of the customer. So important. Thank you for bringing this up. 

Alejandro Angel: Yeah, and I just in comparison, I opened a restaurant back in the day and I was in the restaurant industry and one of the things that, the owner and the founder, when they expanded and they got a partner, it's you need to even wash dishes. I don't care. You have to have two days of washing dishes because if you don't understand the flow and everything, you're not gonna know where you can dive into to make it better to flow it. And it is like that. You need to play all the roles and even more important, as you were saying, getting that feedback. So we did that. We started getting some traction. And also you're gonna start. Building your stories to me I think the number one thing, if you ask me what's the number one thing that a salesperson needs to have and needs to build in order to sell a product is stories. I think stories sell everything. If you don't have a story, and that's why it's so hard when you have a new business, is that you don't have those stories yet. Your stories are more about you, about who you are, but you can't tell your customer, yeah, I had a customer like you that this happened and this is what we did, and it worked out for them right? Then that being relatable in that sense, it helps a lot. So you build your stories. Then we hired our first salesperson. I was gonna say ae, we call it ae, but it was a full cycle salesperson. So he was doing some outbound, he was taking the calls and he was also doing some of the management of the account as We grow we start and we knew from the beginning that we wanted to start specializing in the different sections of the sales process. So we kept growing. PPC started becoming more and more of a stronger channel. So Inbound started to become a stronger channel through Google Ads. Google ads start working pretty, very well. Then the sales rep started getting busier and busier with Inbound. Then we hired another sales rep to, to focus on inbound, and they were both doing the. They were taking care of all the inbound leads. There was no BDR or SDR. This is the whole controversy in the sales industry. What is a BDR? What's an SDR? It's one inbound, one outbound. But at that time we.

Steven Morell: What is an SDR for you?

Alejandro Angel: For me I was outbound for a really long time. But then we had, with our CEO, we had a whole discussion of 30 minutes, which probably was, I don't know if it was the best way of our time to use, but we just got into it. He wanted to say BDR. So right now I'm in between, I just go whatever you think, inbound or outbound.

Steven Morell: Yeah. So this is in general we just need to be clear what it means between you and me, like how do we use this term? It's the same with what is a lead: what is a sales accepted lead? What is a sales qualified lead? We need to have that internally So we are talking about the same things, and I know what you're talking about when you say SQL or when you say SDR. We need to have the definition clear. Everything else doesn't matter. there is no. Right or wrong, just make sure that you are having that conversation and make sure you know what you're talking about and that you mean the same thing. And then you can call it pink elephants. Doesn't matter. It's still an SDR. My definition is SDR does inbound. BDR does outbound. That's. I like to think about this. But then we are in the discussion, what is inbound? What is outbound? And that can be very tricky if you dive deep. It's an unresolved issue. How big is your sales team today?

Alejandro Angel: Today it's eight people.

Steven Morell: Eight people?

Alejandro Angel: Now…

Steven Morell: Yeah.

Alejandro Angel: …but this now includes client success.

Steven Morell: Yeah, that's on the brink of, there's the two pizza rules that you're probably familiar with. If you have more people in the room than you can feed with two pizzas, then the meeting isn't going to be not effective. So you're on the brink. As you keep growing, you're probably gonna have to build some second level management that monitors smaller groups. Your current main lead generation move is still paid traffic or what is your main lead generation source?

Alejandro Angel: It's a mix. It is paid traffic and it's outbound as far as quantity paid traffic is what keeps us the most opportunities at that, and is giving us most of the revenue as well, but. Per account and per lead, we're seeing great success with outbound. It's just not the quantity, and this is something that we're currently working on because we want to increase. Because on the outbound channel we always have seen a higher ticket, a higher ACV. From that side. So basically each deal, it has a higher annual contract value and then also a lot more success. And the conversion rate from meeting to deal and from deal to customer has been a lot higher on the outbound side than the inbound side.

Steven Morell: Really? I don't get to hear this a lot. I get to hear The inbound leads are the, the head raisers that contact us, are the easy converters and the outbound are the hard ones. Why do you think that makes you so successful? Why do you think that your outbound conversion is converting so well? 

Alejandro Angel: I would say part of it is the prospecting and staying focused on your ICP and knowing who you're talking to, and also as far as the messaging on what we're saying. We're telling you who we are, what we think, how we can solve your problem, but we're also not hiding that we want to talk to you to see if you, we can sell you and you can use our product. So when they raise their hand, they're really interested. They have the option. You know what I mean? It is okay. Oh, I got another annoying email pitching me. If they raise their hand, it's because they really, what we have seen is that they really wanna dive deep and talk into it. That's because we're keeping it very close to our ICP and we're trying our best to like, I think our. SDR outbound rep does a really good job at prospecting. We don't get, that's why I was saying as far as quantity, we don't get a lot of meetings, but that conversion is great. That conversions in the eighties and nineties from meeting to deal so, 80% to 90%. But I do wanna open up and increase that quantity of leads. And that's what I'm working on because I do want more opportunities at that, right? Like I want a little bit more conversations, more things that maybe, it might not be our exact ICP, but it might be something that we can service and we can help achieve their goals as well.

Steven Morell: Interesting. Before we run out of time, there are multiple questions that I still wanna get into this interview. Let's talk real quick about machine generated content and we are talking copy. We are not talking about video, we are not talking about music. We are not talking about images. We are talking about written content, machine generated versus human written content. There are use cases for both. There are good reasons to use machine AI generated content like chat, GPT, and there are good reasons to sit down and write contents manually. Explain to our listeners where you draw the line in the sand, what should still be written by hand?

Alejandro Angel: So in general, when we're talking about content in general, in the marketing scope, I think long form. More in depth content should be written by hand. It should be and definitely more thought leadership pieces should be written by hand. Like the whole name of a thought leader. It definitely, if you need a thought leader, you definitely need someone to analyze the information. And I don't think AI necessarily analyzes it. It definitely puts it in context, but you need to interact with the machine in order to. An outcome that you're happy with and that's that interaction depending how much interaction you wanna do and where you wanna get to. So I think there is some content that you could create with machine learning, and that's why we offer AI assisted content, not just AI content, in which there's an editor that knows about the topic and is working with the machine and with different kinds of solutions. They don't only work with ChatGPT, they work with ChatGPT 3, ChatGPT 4, depending on the need with clot, depending on the need, with bar, depending on the need. And then to get the best outcome and put this content together. So I think long form it is human written or at least a human being involved. It.

Steven Morell: Yes. Thanks for pointing this out because it's actually correct to what I said was not correct. The question is not between two options written or machine written. There is something between, this is the human written, but the human made more productive with the help of technology. But it's still the human with superpowers, copywriting superpowers now, that writes your content. And I, and this is I believe this is the perfect combination. 

Alejandro Angel: I wanna, I think the best way to think about it is when you are using AI. Now, a lot of us are using AI in our daily lives. Why do you double check what you don't? Hey, if you're doing some math in order to close a business, and you might use chat GPT to give you an analysis or some math, you are gonna double check it, right? You're gonna make sure. And it does because it does have hallucinations and it does make mistakes, and you need to check it. You need to make sure, and you might find out that doing it yourself would've taken you less time and how important that information and what that information is gonna do. You need to be very careful with one of the examples of our business that we do is, for example, for finance clients that are writing about different interest rates and different things that are constantly changing day to day. Our writers need to do that research compared to 2 rates. Even within the same bank on their website, you might find two different rates that are being posted, and this is what machine learning is grabbing, right? They're not, they can't call the bank and say, Hey, which one is the right one? What? What should we do? What should I use? And that's. Where our great writers and researchers do in order to make sure that the content is accurate and you wanna be, there's some industries that you wanna be more careful with because there's regulations. There's also a lot of compliance that you need to make sure that it's accurate and also the impact, again, overall, the impact I think is very important and the impact of that concept you don't. You write it, but you don't know who's reading that. And they might base a very important decision in their lives about that content. They might just say that right now they're gonna get a new car and they're trying to figure out what's the interest, what's gonna be my payment, and then they get into it through your content and it's wrong. And then they're gonna realize that they can't pay that payment each month and they're gonna be in trouble, right? You're affecting a whole life in that sense. So I think it's very important to focus on the accuracy and the best information and content that we can provide. Because human we're relying more and more on the internet which is a dangerous thing as well, right? Don't take it. And we're taking it directly from the internet to action.

Steven Morell: And you can be in jeopardy very easily. When I was walking in your shoes in a different company our main focus was product descriptions, e-commerce, and there is number one, there is a lot of liability and regulation and it's, you're probably regulated without knowing it. You might be, you don't need to be a bank to be regulated and to and to have the need for compliance. If you promise that your product does something that it doesn't do. Then well in, in the best way, you have only returns, but the returns can be very expensive. If you sell shoes, it's probably not that bad. But if you sell furniture you have returns because your product description sucks, then that's a big problem that will cost you a lot of money if your product description doesn't answer important questions, then your support line has to answer this, and you're burning money on support agents on the hotline answering those questions. It has an impact on your check-out rate and your sales rate. Having humans, there are still things that humans should check and that only humans know. And that impacts the quality of your content. You impact your bottom line. I'm totally with you, Alejandro. We are running out of time. I could go on with you for hours. Before we finish real quick, if I would have a time machine and I could send a postcard to the five year younger Alejandro Angel with a warning, with advice, what to do, what not to do, what would you tell the five younger self? What advice would you give yourself?

Alejandro Angel: That's a really good question, and I would say to implement, stronger structure from the beginning or earlier in the journey of these five years to implement a structure to gather better feedback from the lead to the customer. As far as what the impact of our product is actually.

Steven Morell: Yes.

Alejandro Angel: Creating in their company, like from the beginning, just really knowing and I dive a bit deeper than, oh, you'll create more traffic. That's it. But how are you measuring? How are you gonna do that? How, and not be afraid because at the beginning you're a little bit afraid of, okay, what if it didn't work? And some of your service and your offering might work for some, might not work for some, there's a lot of different things that can happen depending on how it's implemented and everything. And you start controlling it. But if you always are getting that feedback. And then you know what you're affecting. You can take that to the product, to your sales team, to make your whole organization better and get better results. So I think, and if the product changes as it has happened in this year, if the industry changes, then you know, if your products are still creating the impact that should create. And if it's not, how to look for a solution that solves this.

Steven Morell: Can I sign somewhere? Because I, you, I think you're a hundred percent, spot on. If you gather feedback, if you do interviews, for instance with your customers, more likely than not you'll find out that your customers are buying your product for entirely different reasons that you think they're buying it for. I'm with you on this. All right, everyone. That brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank our guest, Alejandro. For joining us and sharing his insights. Huge shout out to our listeners. Your support means the world to us. Remember to check our website:speakrevenue.com for a full transcript and additional resources. And if you enjoyed the show please leave us a great review. Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, wherever you go for your listening needs, it really helps to get the word out. Also, follow us on LinkedIn, on Instagram, on YouTube, or wherever you can find us, we'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious, keep learning. Stay safe and see you soon. Good luck.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.

Copyrighted © 2022-23 Jaxx Technologies, Inc.