7 Reasons You Need a GREAT Content Marketing Strategy in 2018

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, April 16, 2018

by Evan Weber

Hey there! Thanks for taking a look at my latest post! This time I wanted to discuss a topic that has been pushed to the back burner by a lot of companies in recent years: Content Marketing. As a channel in digital marketing, Content Marketing, should be up in the top 3 most important strategies you can utilize to grow website traffic and sales over time. It's essentially your SEO strategy or at least 98% of it. But what has happened with the advent of Social Media, Native Ads, Programmatic Ad buying (not to mention others), is that Content Marketing isn't getting the budget or resources it deserves on an annual basis. The other reason that Content Marketing doesn't get the focus is that companies just don't know what an effective Content Marketing strategy looks like. They may know parts and pieces, but not how to craft it into a Content Marketing strategy that will be effective and produce results. In actuality though, Content Marketing is more trackable than ever. You can retargeting all of your content traffic and then track the conversions in Google Analytics or Mixpanel for instance. Then, you will be able to attach an ROI to it and justify the growth of the budget dedicated to it. And that's the way it should be handled. So what should the actual content marketing strategy be you ask? The short answer is a VOLUME of targeted content posted on a frequent basis. Doing this in itself will grow targeted traffic, but it's really a question of doing the keyword research in the niche, looking at the analytics for previous traffic sources that that converted in the past, finding the content production sources, posting the content to multiple platforms, and putting a number on how many posts or pieces will be published per month, on your site and others. I won't get any more specific than that right now, but the following list justifies why you should absolutely budget for content production on a monthly basis.

1. Content Drives Organic Traffic
 - let's start with the most important aspect of having a content marketing strategy, in this case it's purely for SEO purposes, i.e. gaining additional rankings in the search results, primarily Google. Posting fresh content on a frequent basis to your website, and/or other platforms like Linkedin Articles is great also, but in my opinion the most important place to build out your content is your own website. Probably 80% of the budget should be going towards building out your website's posts and pages with fresh content targeting your niche. If you have a broad niche, start with the most targeted phrases and work your way outward. Use the Google Keyword Planner to guide your content strategy, i.e. what the posts will be be about, the post titles, and the post content. Then, it's just a matter of covering all of the most relevant topics to your niche or industry. Once that's done you can write content to targeting what your ideal audience would be interested in reading about. Another phenomenal way to target content, if you have this luxury, is to target by location, known as geo-targeted content, eg. "Local Florist in Miami, Florida". If you were a nationwide or regional flower company you could have a page for every city and town that you deliver to. So there's 30,000 pages that need to be written and published to cover most cities in the US. Those are just a few great strategies that work where it pertains. But really, any niche can be written for it's a matter of guiding the writers properly.

2. Content Fills the Visitor Retargeting Funnel 
- this is a great point because back in a day (1990's and 2000's) you couldn't cookie your website visitors and follow them around with ads. Now, with visitor retargeting ads, you can advertise to all the traffic your website gets including the blog section, product pages, etc., so you can then segment those visitors and show them ads on all the social networks, with display ads, and Native ads, bringing them back to the site to convert. As long as the content is targeted to search intent and/or your target audience, you really can't go wrong there. Anything retargeting-oriented should be a great ROI producer for you. As I always say, "You can never have enough retargeting!" :) 

3. Content Informs Your Customers/Visitors 
- one of the other nice things about content production is that if you have good content being produced, people will generally benefit from it. So there are really 2 types of SEO content in my opinion, the first type is purely targeted towards what people are searching for and how they are searching for the niche. The second type of content is targeted towards topics that your target audience would potentially search for and read thoroughly. Both should be informative in nature and well-written, but the topic/audience targeted content can be shared on your social networks and deliver some value there, while the search intent content is purely to bring free traffic to your site. The search intent focused content will likely convert better and better over time. Both types of content should inform the reader and be seen as valuable. 

4. Content Drives Revenue 
- or should I say "good content drives revenue." But what I can tell you is that content brings in traffic that produces revenue, period, end of story. It's a question of how much revenue and how long it takes, but in general, with a proactive content strategy in place, I think you can expect noticeable results in 3-6 months, that you can hang your hat on and break even on your monthly content marketing budget, IF done properly. The content projects that my agency is currently working on where content is being published frequently, get rankings in weeks not months. Content production causes a wider casting of the net of organic content, so over time it grows into a wider net of targeted searchers coming to your site, which is the goal because they convert best. You can look to measure your organic content's revenue in Google analytics, segmenting by your blog section. Also, the retargeting aspect in itself makes a proactive content strategy worthwhile, as long as the content is targeted to search intent or your target audience. Making those article/blog pages "sticky" with widgets like pop-up email boxes, and other elements can be used to squeeze as much out of those visitors as possible, to maximize the traffic the content is bringing you. 

5. Content Can Be Controlled - 
another beneficial thing about content marketing in general is that you can plan it out and strategize on what type of content is going to be produced and when. Also where it will be posted and share. You can move around the focus of the content and hit on various aspects of the niche or industry. Even focusing on trending topics to come up for those searches as well, which will increase effectiveness at bringing your target audience to your website in a greater volume. Do I need to go on? It's pretty self-explanatory. But in general the content strategy needs to be planned out, budgeted for, and executed. Not complicated as long as you know what you're doing or are working with a very competent agency to handle it for you. Any questions let me know. 

6. Content Has No Shelf Life -
 another aspect I LOVE about content marketing is your content will always be there ranking in Google, Youtube, Bing, and Yahoo, as long as you commit to the strategy and continue publishing content on a frequent basis over time. If you don't I can't guarantee your website will stay ranking well for the content you have previous published. Organic traffic is never guaranteed, I can only tell you what I know works from experience and is working currently for projects we work on. Although previously posted content can still have great rankings without ongoing frequent posting, however I do recommend a sustained strategy over years to do it properly and grow your SEO traffic year over year. I never recommend letting a site get stagnant content-wise though to be sure. Only the largest of the large companies can hold their organic rankings without doing much, although they should be doing this too, to maximize their traffic. Anyone else has to stick to the strategy of frequently posting fresh content in order to benefit as much as you possibly could from a Content Marketing strategy of this nature over time. I compare it to building a house. You start with a little shack and if you build it up with enough content, over time, it will be a mansion. Not an amazing analogy but it's what I like to use to convey the concept and people seems to grasp it. 

7. Content Has Better ROI Than Paid Search - 
let's talk about dollars and cents, or should I say sense! One of the nice things about content is you can get it somewhat affordably. For instance, you can have articles written for $50-100 per article. If you post 30 per month, which I recommend, that will run you $1500 or so per month. That's 360 unique pages of content targeting potential targeted searchers to your website over the course of a year. Some niches I manage PPC search in, for clients, cost as much as $5, $10, 15, $20+ per click. At $10 per click you would only get 150 visitors for $1500 with Google Adwords or Bing Ads. Those same organic pages, if they just brought you 1 visitor per page per day, after 12 months, you would be getting 360 visitors per month, or a $3600 value in equivalent search value. Those 360 pages of content should actually bring a couple thousands visitors to the site (if not more depending on multiple Google ranking factors). Not to mention this type of content strategy will make the entire website rank better, which is worth it in itself. Now, when you look at actual revenue, which is going to fluctuate over time and vary per company, you can expect a similar conversion rate on your paid search traffic, let's say 5%. The larger the content volume, over time, the more search traffic the content will generate, there's a direct correlation. You only have to pay for the article once, and it works for you for years to come. Imagine posting 1000 posts per year. After a few years your organic search traffic is basically off the charts. You could cease your Google Adwords campaigns, although I think both paid search (SEM/PPC) and organic content marketing should go hand in hand, be conducting simultaneously, and be done to the utmost possible to maximize the company's search volume. You can only do that of course with a stellar website conversion rate, but nonetheless that's the ultimate goal of digital marketing in my opinion, at least where targeted search marketing is relevant. 

Conclusion:
 This is a modern, effective SEO strategy in my opinion. I hope the practical justifications for having a proactive content marketing strategy are enough to convince you that you need this type of strategy in place, at least to some degree, to have your SEO channel covered. The more budget you put into it, the more you can get out of it to be sure. Having a comprehensive content marketing strategy includes content types like: blog posts, articles, online press releases, longer/unique product descriptions, videos targeted at SEO topics, Linkedin Articles, bloggers posting unique content about your company or products, publishers writing about your company, and a couple of others, but those are the main types of content pieces that should be getting produced and published on a monthly basis. It's just basically a question of budget, strategy, and who will produce the content. 

And guess what! My agency, 
Experience Advertising, has a wonderful team of US-based writers that crank out content for our clients and content projects at extremely affordable rates in my opinion. In fact, you can order your monthly content packages here, this pricing is only for a limited time. If you would like to discuss a customized content marketing strategy for your company, please contact me so we can discuss it and I can give you a proposal. 

Thanks for reading! And as always, let me know if you have any questions for me. Have a profitable day! 

Evan Weber, CEO, 
Experience Advertising, Inc. 
954-662-8010 
evan@experienceadvertising.com


Most Common Types of Digital Marketing

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, September 25, 2017

One way to describe digital marketing would be to compare it to teenage sex: “everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it…”. While this particular joke might seem absurd, it isn’t exactly that much off point.

You see, while the term digital marketing gets tossed around a lot, which makes the greatest majority of people believe they know what exactly that is. However, if you ask these people to explain what content marketing, PPC or SEO are, they might pause for a moment or even fail to give an answer altogether. In other words, not only are they not using them, they aren’t exactly sure what these methods entail at all. With this in mind and without further ado, here are several most common types of digital marketing that every business will encounter, or be in need of, sooner or later.

1.      Pay-per-click (PPC)

The first digital marketing method we are about to discuss is the popular PPC marketing. Here, the website owner is directly paying to the advertisers for every visit that comes through their website. The way this works is quite simple – you display an ad on someone’s website (let’s say blog) and every time someone clicks on this add, you pay that particular blogger a fixed fee. The best thing about this method is that it is quite easy to quantify, seeing how you pay for the exact figure of traffic boost that comes to your website. Bloggers trying to earn money this way might either go with affiliate marketing or Google AdSense, so they should be first two stops for an aspiring business willing to invest in PPC strategy as well.

2.      SEO (Search engine optimization)

Another term that a person getting started in the world of digital marketing is about to encounter is the SEO. Still, what is SEO exactly? In order to give an answer to this question, one must first know how search engines work. You see, an internet is a vast sea of data and information and without at least some form of pattern or organization, one wouldn’t be able to find anything they are looking for. This is where search engines come in. Through a complex algorithm, search engines sort, rank and display this data as search results. SEO is merely a process to improve your website’s standing on the World Wide Web.

3.      Social media marketing

Another thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that social media aren’t simply meant for reconnecting with your high school friends. A lot of companies are using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as the main platforms through which they promote their business. However, this requires a no small amount of planning and a huge deal of strategizing. For instance, every network has its own audience, which is why you should first identify your target demographics. If you plan to sell arts and crafts items, your platform of choice should probably be Pinterest, while for digital tools and software you might want to try YouTube. At the end of the day, the greater your reach, the better, which is why you should always try to create a solid presence on at least several platforms at once.

4.      Content marketing

The best way to make people interested in what you have to offer is to actually present them with something that adds value. This, however, means that you should come up with quality content that either entertains, educates or gives your audience something to think about. The greatest problem with content marketing is the fact that it requires a lot of research, work and talent. Still, if you manage to meet all of these requirements, the results are bound to follow.

5.      Email marketing

Finally, while some may assume that email marketing is dead, nothing can be further from the truth. On the contrary, this particular method of outreach has been on a steady rise since the dawn of the internet, making it a true anomaly in the world of digital marketing. Nonetheless, in order to make it work, you need to A) learn how to make your audience interested by using as little words as possible and B) learn how to make a killer subject line. Moreover, keep in mind that in 2017 people mostly read emails through their mobile devices, which is why you should also find a way to make your emails mobile-friendly.

In conclusion

As you can see, digital marketing is hardly a rocket-science, yet it is still horribly underused by most businesses out there. Unbelievable as it may sound almost half of small businesses in the U.S. didn’t have a website in 2016. This figure alone might be enough to explain why 90 percent of all startups and SMBs fail within the first five years of doing business. Make no mistake, a strong online presence is mandatory in 2017 and the only way to achieve it is through adequate digital marketing.


Boosting Your Organic Traffic Through Content Marketing

Barbara Spagnola - Monday, September 18, 2017

While PPC (pay per click) is still a valid tactic for getting more traffic on your website, surveys have shown that having a high-quality content is even more reliable in the traffic it generates. What's even more important is that content marketing will also help you turn a visitor into a customer more easily than any other method, while also improving your brand loyalty and brand awareness. Setting up your content marketing strategy takes time and effort, but with this guide, you can get started today.

Write Catchy Headlines

For starters, you should keep in mind that having great written content isn't enough, simply because you need to get people to read it. The best way to catch someone's attention is to have a well-written headline. The importance of headlines is further highlighted through a simple fact that most of the content shared on social media wasn't even read by the people who shared it. This means that headlines alone are actually more important than the rest of the article, at least for organic traffic increase. Some simple tricks include asking a provocative question or offering a quick solution to the problems your audience resonates with. And don't forget to use a keyword or two in your headlines.

Research Your Keywords

While people might be sharing your content because of the catchy headlines, sharing isn't enough when it comes to organic search increase. In order to become visible to your audience, you need to start using the right keywords. You can use a tool like Google AdWords to find established keywords for most niches, but this will only get you so far because what you need are actually long-tail keywords for which you have a chance to rank well. Writing long-tail keywords will not only increase your traffic but also get more visitors that are further along in the buying circle. While someone looking for "Chicago style pizza" might only be interested in what it is, someone who searches for "Late night pizza delivery Detroit" is probably going to buy a product.

Use A/B Testing

A/B testing, when done right, can significantly improve your website's performance and help you with the conversion rate. It's very important to get a good idea of what A/B testing is and how to use it to your advantage before you even start testing. When it comes to content marketing, A/B testing can help you choose a headline, content topic, or generally help you with what will work best on your blog. Having a successful content marketing strategy requires you to have a lot of input, and A/B testing is the best way to get it.

Optimise Your Landing Pages

Having a homepage drawing traffic to your website isn't enough, and it often won't bring the best results. What you need is to create new pages and get started with Search Engine Optimisation in order to increase their ranking when it comes to search results. Poorly optimised pages hurt your rankings, which is something you'll want to avoid at all costs if you're ever going to increase your organic traffic. Having a well-optimised blog is a great way to start driving people to it and converting new users to customers. 

Visual Assets

We already covered that online audiences don't have the attention span in order to read too much, which is why it's imperative to have visual assets on your landing pages. Optimise your images and they will help you drive even more traffic to your pages. Most people learn and remember through visualization, so images and videos will get your audience more interested in your content. Just make sure that they are topic related and in turn, they will make your content much easier to absorb.

Make Your Content Shareable

It's the age of smartphones and social-media, so it's very important to do everything you can to make your content shareable. Basically, you want to have a story that people won't be able to keep to themselves but want others to see as well. Because of mobile-device users, you'll also want to avoid forcing people to copy paste the URL's, so make sure to add social-media icons for Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter on your blog. Being social-media friendly can increase your organic traffic quite significantly, but also help with your search engine ranking, so don't shy away from it.

Conclusion

In today's online world, you can have the best service or products but it won't matter if no one knows about them. Having high-quality content can help you become more visible, and increase your organic traffic significantly. By following these easy tips, you'll make sure to increase your organic traffic over time and hopefully grow with it. Just remember to stay in touch with current trends, as it can mean the difference between failure and success in the online world. 

3 Easy Calculations For Measuring Your Content Marketing ROI

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

by Jason DeMers

Content marketing is king when it comes to driving traffic and sales. But do you know how to track and measure the ROI of your efforts? If you’re like most marketers or business owners, this is probably a struggle. According to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing report, only 21% of marketers say they are successful at measuring their content marketing ROI.

This is a worrisome statistic given the costs associated with content marketing. How do you know if what you’re doing is working? And how do you know if it’s worthwhile to continue?

There are a number of challenges when it comes to calculating content marketing ROI:

  • Putting a dollar value on ‘soft’ metrics like number of fans or followers, engagement levels, brand awareness, etc.
  • Knowing exactly how a new customer or client found you (word of mouth can be difficult to track!)
  • Calculating the cost of content creation. For companies that outsource their content creation and management, this is relatively simple. However, in smaller companies where employees wear multiple hats, this can be a challenge.
  • While conversions will always be part of calculating ROI, not all conversions are equal. This begs the question: do you track ROI based on each piece of content, or on your content marketing strategy as a whole?

If any of these challenges sounds familiar, keep reading. This article provides three simple calculations for determining the ROI of your content marketing efforts.



Strategy 1: Calculate the value of your organic website traffic

Marketing and sales strategist David Meerman Scott suggests calculating how much you would need to pay to drive your current level of organic website traffic using Google GOOGL -0.72% AdWords. In other words, assuming you weren’t ranking in organic search for any of your current keywords, how much would you need to pay Google to get your current levels of traffic?

One of the drawbacks of this strategy is that it only takes into account your website content; it doesn’t factor in social media content, email content, etc. However, since the majority of your content will be in the form of blog posts, this strategy will get you pretty close to an accurate value.

Scott Severson of Brandpoint tested this strategy with the company’s own clients to see what the average ROI was. Here’s what he found: The average client broke even with their content in about 9 months, and saw a 200% increase in ROI from that content within 36 months.

Strategy 2:  Calculate ROI on a per sale basis (better for big-ticket sales)

This is a strategy that, to be honest, won’t work all that well for companies that sell a high volume of low-cost products or services. The very act of trying to calculate ROI on thousands of $5 products would significantly reduce your ROI!

For companies that specialize in big-ticket items or services, however, this strategy can be very useful. Contently lays out their own strategy for using this technique, which is based on this very simple, common sense calculation:


Content revenue – content cost = content ROI.

This strategy relies on one key capability: tracking exactly which content leads to sales. For many businesses, this will be the primary challenge in implementing this strategy. However, if you are able to do this, either through tracking goals in Google Analytics or through surveying your clients, this may be the best strategy for you.

Here is a breakdown of how Contently used this strategy to determine the ROI for acquiring one particular client:

  • Future client reads 2 Contently blog posts. Cost for writing posts: $700
  • Future client reads 2 more blog posts. Cost for these posts: $700
  • Future client fills out lead form, and then reads 2 case studies on the Contently website. Cost for these case studies: $900
  • Phone call with sales team (this cost is calculated into the ROI for sales, not content)
  • Sales team directs future client to a piece of content to help dispel her concerns about partnering with a vendor rather than keeping content creation in house. Cost for content:$350
  • Future client becomes current client! The sales process is complete. Total revenue from contract (attributable to content, not sales efforts): $41,000

The final calculations were as follows:

Total revenue from content: $41,000

Cost of content: $2,650

Content ROI: 15.5x


Strategy 3: Calculate ROI on a per-campaign basis

If you’re running specific, targeted content marketing campaigns – for instance, creating a series of blog posts, and then promoting them via social ads – you can calculate your ROI for each individual campaign.

This process is made much easier by using Fractl’s Content ROI Calculator. The calculator assumes you’re able to provide data on each of the following:

  • Total cost of campaign
  • Website traffic generated
  • Number of social shares
  • Number of links


5 Reasons Marketers Should Create 'Snackable' Online Content

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, May 25, 2016

by John Rampton

In recent years, I’ve talked a lot about how you should focus your efforts on long-form content to win Google algorithms. In-depth reports like whitepapers and case studies can help brands establish thought leadership on a specific topic, especially if they contain fresh information on an in-demand topic. That information will be cited in other places on the Internet, increasing its visibility.

The length of your content depends on the circumstances, though. While brands have refocused on 1,000-word-plus reports, consumers are gravitating toward 140-character tweets and video-oriented content. Sites like Instagram and Vine have captured the social media market, winning over customers who need information broken down into quick, easy-to-understand snippets. This has created more demand for “snackable” content, which gives consumers the information they need without bogging them down with text. Here are five reasons every online marketer should consider satisfying the demand for shorter content.




Visual Content Sticks

Marketers already know that visual content stands out in text-filled newsfeeds and articles. But a research study conducted by 3M puts science behind it. The human mind processes images 60,000 times faster than text, the study revealed, and unless text is connected to an image, many consumers won’t retain it. While words are stored in short-term memory, images go into long-term memory, making it more likely that the message you’re trying to convey to potential customers will actually make it through.


Attention Spans Are Short

As this infographic visually demonstrates, the human attention span is limited to merely eight seconds, which is four seconds less than it was in 2000. The average Internet user leaves a web page after only 10 to 20 seconds. This gives businesses a limited length of time to give consumers a reason to stay around. They need to be able to quickly get answers to whatever questions they have, whether they’re looking for a statistic for a school report or trying to determine a business’s hours of operation.


 Mobile Rules

Today’s consumers interact with social media and business sites on mobile devices. This is especially true of the much-coveted millennial generation, with 67 percent of those consumers accessing the Internet using smartphones and tablets. An increasing number of mobile users read content on the go, which means that scrolling through long paragraphs of text likely isn’t as appealing as viewing a quick infographic or reading multiple short social media posts.

“Long ago, people used to ask, ‘what’s your mobile strategy.’ That was really the wrong question,” says Tom Serres, Founder of DVTorque, a popular entrepreneur-in-residence program in Silicon Valley. “The real question is, what strategies are you deploying to connect with your customers…where they are.”

Unlike older generations, millennials are also more likely to be influenced to buy by friends, family, and strangers than by expert sources like doctors or celebrities.

Facts Get Shares

Data-driven blog posts are more likely to connect with your readers, giving them the facts they need to believe what they’re reading. Powering data-driven blog posts are facts, which will then be cited by other professionals searching for data to back up their own content. When multiple high-quality sites link to your post, that post is more likelyto be seen by Google’s algorithms as important content. This increases the chances potential customers will actually stumble upon your online posts, which also can increase the number of customers who will seek out more information about the products or services you’re offering.




Consistent Content Is Important

Brands may find it difficult to consistently post 1,000-word pieces of content, which means their online platforms will stagnate. By sourcing more short-form content on a daily basis, CMOs may find it easier to keep their platforms consistent, giving consumers daily reminders of a brand’s existence. Since repeat exposure to a brand tends to increase message recall, consistently reminding consumers about your product or service can be a fairly powerful marketing tactic. Simply posting a meme, a gif, an infographic, or a sharable social media post can be far more effective than waiting for a long report to be put together by your marketing team.

CMOs face the challenge of keeping up with constantly-evolving consumer habits. Snackable content helps meet the demand for easy-to-find information without losing search engine visibility. When content is loaded with insightful data and includes visuals, it’s much more likely to get through to readers, increasing the chances that they’ll take action on it.


Visual Content: A Case For Beautiful

Barbara Spagnola - Wednesday, May 25, 2016

by Matt Zucker

When it comes to content, marketers first tend to focus on written content—articles, posts, white papers, newsletters, pages, tweets. While I started out as a copywriter, what I’ve learned as a creative director and later as a content strategist is the mega-power of visually-driven forms. Videos. Photos. Illustrations. Infographics. Slideshare presentations, Pinterest boards, Snapchats. Animated GIFs. And, yes, maybe even those silly Vines. Just look at the variety of visual storytelling with my puppy Nora below.

Design Can Contribute To Business Performance

Nearly a decade ago, a U.K. Design Council study brilliantly mapped brands that employed high standards for design to their company’s actual stock price. The report proved for the first time, at least to me, that good design actually made people money. I think I showed it to every client I had at the time. Much more recently, the U.K.’s Design Management Institute and Motiv Strategies created the Design Value Index which tracks how design-focused companies perform relative to the S&P 500 over time. The British seem to get it.

Visual Content: A Case for Beautiful

Photo: Brian Fuhr; Design and Illustration: Dolores Phillips & Kelly O’Kane; Motion integration: Danny Rivera


Visual formats consistently rank in research as top performers among content types. For example, the Content Marketing Institute recently cited a Hubspot stat that your content would generate 94% more views if you added visual elements.  Who doesn’t see high performance adding just a simple image to a single tweet. They also described three ways to nail visual storytelling, including the factors of authenticity, sensory and relevancy, which can be helpful.

In The Content Game Of Thrones, Video Is King

Within the array of visual formats, there are winners—and, well, champions. Studies consistently show not only the growth, but the effectiveness of formats such as photography, illustration and my favorite, video. Effectiveness is often measured by consumption (video viewership is up – in fact, Cisco now predicts 80% of all Internet traffic will be streaming video by 2019) and sometimes by memorability or persuasion. Our brains, after all, process visual information faster than text-based content. Tyler Lessard, CMO of video marketing platform Vidyard, underscored the increased recognition for video’s power across categories and industries. “74% of B2B marketers now report that video converts better than other content types, making it a critical tool for educating buyers and building demand.”


Other visual formats certainly also do well, although I’m finding nuanced and differing opinions for infographics. Some rate infographics, for example, as initially effective, but recognize a more temporary effect as they disappear into the experience ether.

Visual Content Takes Pixel Sweat

Conviction also requires commitment. All content that is going to be truly valuable, especially visual, will take more effort, more resources and more planning than most expect to create. I rarely meet a client who doesn’t want to consider video for a program but execution quickly gets stalled not by the idea or the promise, but at the sticker shock of the investment required to simply shoot + edit. Demonstrating the compelling return on video helps, especially those facts around memorability, persuasion or demand gen; sometimes I’ve done business cases for action. And it’s not just video that takes muscle. Original photography outperforms stock but you have to invest in it. Telegraphic and infectious infographics take research and information design expertise. Good design is work.

You Need Money, People And Governance

Through research currently underway with Altimeter, we’re finding that many brands churning out volumes of high-quality content have a purpose-built team of roles at its core: content strategist; design; video production; paid and owned media coordination; and writing (staff or freelance). There are plenty of external content design studios to tap as well for programs, specialty or to simply keep up with volume. An example is agencyColumn Five which specializes in visual content and puts out some great content themselves, including this guide on visual content.


Go make valuable beautiful content. I can’t wait to see it.

Pictures Add 94% More Power

6 Ways To Increase User Engagement On Your Content

Barbara Spagnola - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

by Jason DeMers

A good content campaign has many goals. Increasing visibility is a plus, as is building a better brand reputation. You may primarily focus on driving traffic to your website, or just hope to use content to persuade existing audience members to purchase your products. But there’s one content factor you can’t afford to ignore, as it functions both as a factor for content success and as a goal you should strive to achieve: engagement.

Why is engagement so important?

    • Engagement promotes familiarity and loyalty. When a user engages with your material directly, he/she will feel like a more integrated part of your brand community. That means a greater sense of familiarity and loyalty, which could drive purchasing decisions in the future.
    • Engagement enhances visibility. Almost any kind of engagement has the potential to increase the visibility of your article. It may mean your article getting in front of a greater number of people, or your article developing a kind of aura around it based on existing discussions.
    • It’s a sign of content effectiveness. Getting more engagement generally means that your content has been more effective—it has generated interest, which means it’s probably going to excel in other areas. Monitoring engagement gives you insight into how your content is performing.

    But before you start trying to come up with a plan to “increase engagement” in some vague, general sense, you need to know that there are different kinds of engagement:

    • User comments. Found at the bottom of blog posts.
    • Discussion threads. Occurring in a forum setting, or on social media.
    • Active participation. For things like surveys and quizzes.
    • Social shares. Direct or indirect.
    • Positive ratings. “Likes” and other reactions fit here.

    Obviously, you’ll want a nice mix of all of these. How do you go about that?



    Strategies for Greater Engagement

    There are many ways to drive higher engagement, but these are some of the most effective:

    1. Stir up controversy. Your first job is to make your posts more debatable by stirring up some controversy. This doesn’t mean you should write about something that’s going to outright offend people, or try to take a hard stance on something you don’t necessarily believe in. Instead, look for topics and angles where there are two sides of an argument, and take one side. This alone will likely encourage people to respond (and hopefully, discuss the issue with each other).
    2. Surprise people. People love to be surprised. On an immediate level, your surprising post will stand out from the crowd, attracting more attention and visibility. Beyond that, some readers will feel a compulsion to reward you, somehow, for surprising them, either by recognizing it in the comments or by giving you a “like.” They may also be more compelled to share your post with friends, spreading the contagious “surprise” factor.
    3. Ask your readers’ opinions. If you want your readers to engage in a conversation, why not start one by asking them a question? This is a common tactic often done at the end of an article; for example, a post about different strategies in headline writing might end with a question like, “what strategies have you found to be effective?” Doing this naturally prompts people to respond, but it’s even more effective when combined with the first tip in this section—strive to ask questions that you know are debatable, or questions that you know your users will be passionate about. The stronger they feel, the better.
    4. Get your readers involved. It’s also a good idea to encourage active participation. Interactive forms of content are easier to engage. Unfortunately, you don’t have many options when it comes to interactive content. You might develop a quiz, such as one that evaluates your readers’ current needs, or you might create some kind of survey or poll to reflect your readers’ opinions. These aren’t the only two options, but they are two of the most common and effective.
    5. Enlist more content mediums. Including more mediums in your content strategy will not only help your content become more visible and easier to interact with, it’s going to make a broader range of readers interested in interacting with it. For example, some users engage more readily with video content, while others are more likely to react to in-depth written features. Cycle these different types of content through in your strategy, and offer pieces with multiple mediums incorporated.
    6. Reward your users for engaging. This is an extremely important piece of the puzzle; you have to let your readers know that you appreciate their engagement. This can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, but know that your efforts will be noticed. For example, you might get active in the discussion thread as a participant when it develops, or you might thank one of your readers specifically for sharing one of your content pieces on social media.

    With these strategies in consistent practice, I can almost guarantee you’ll earn more engagement in your content strategy. They may not turn your campaign around overnight, but if used regularly, you’ll start to see more comments, shares, and participation in growing patterns over time. Use these engagements as metrics to measure your content effectiveness, and reincorporate that feedback to take your content to an even higher level.


    4 Content-Marketing Methods to Stay Above Your Competition

    Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 21, 2016

    by Yoav Vilner
    Startup-marketing expert, CEO of Ranky and a blogger.

    Promoting irrelevant content to your customer base is as useless as bringing a knife to a gunfight. The question is no longer whether targeted content is a competition worth entering, but how to bring home the gold.

    With 86 percent of buyers “frequently” using mobile phones to access business-related content, it’s no wonder marketers and publishers are leaving their pay-per-click and display tactics in the closet and opting for the gold medal of all advertising methods: content marketing.

    Here are some of the methods being used by winning companies:

    1. Leveraging influencers

    Influencer marketing is the force of nature shaking the online marketing world. There are two things to know when utilizing influencer-based marketing: it's expensive and it works. With that said, choosing the right influencer takes much more than a bit of YouTube browsing. Successful influencer marketing doesn’t end once a video goes live. It is important to follow up with comments and viewer queries across your channels, as well as the influencer’s.

    Recommended app: Mention allows brands to identify the best influencers for their brand and, with tools such as the influencer scorer, to know the amount of traction his or her brand will offer. The Mention dashboard also allows for you to connect with users directly.

    2. Making it move

    Digital storytelling should be as engaging and fluid as your content. Having a compelling user experience is exactly what your brand needs to draw your customer in and retain them. Content should be moving with your customer and enhancing their online customer journey. 

    Interactive content is also a highly useful way for testing audiences’ online preferences, allowing for brands to elevate the content they curate. 

    Recommended app: Apester allows brands to engage using personalized experiences such as quizzes and interactive content.

    3. Creating for your customer

    A surprising 61 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that delivers personal content that is specific to their wants and needs, according to Custom Content Council. Being that content has such an impact on conversion and retention, having an awareness of trending topicsand industry keywords is a great way of understanding what your customer is searching for online.

    It’s crucial to remember that content should be targeted to your customer’s needs, not your own. While self promotion and PR are huge forces in marketing, giving information to your clients with no strings attached is the best way to organically reach your customer base and keep them for good. By knowing your customers' personas and breaking down their pain points, you can adapt your content to your target customer and create deeper connections.

    At the same time, if you are truly creating content for your customer, it should never be a one-way street. Instead, your content should be a catalyst for a dialogue. To make your content genuinely useful, encourage your users to add their own insights. This not only enriches the content itself, but it also empowers them to become loyal users.

    Recommended app: Popular sites such as EW.com use Spot.IM’s social sidebar to make such conversations easy and simple.

    4. Letting the journey drive content

    The competition for outstanding content begins with a keen understanding of the customer journey, so that your brand can improve it. By creating a road map for this epic, you can position your content to tell a consistent story -- one that individually addresses each action and motivation of your customer base. Much of the content story can be boiled down to smart planning and a well-devised content calendar.

    Recommended app: This one I haven't tried yet, but searching through many blogs I've found DivvyHQ to be highly recommended. With it, you are able to plan and manage your calendar on one dashboard, allowing you to be ready for your customers' journeys. Remember that the customer journey isn't necessarily linear, but is constantly in flux.


    A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Content Marketing Strategy

    Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 21, 2016

    by Jeffrey Kranz
    FROM BUFFER


    The good news: your boss or client is totally on board with your running content marketing. (SCORE!)

    The challenge: she wants to see a content marketing plan . . . and you have NO IDEA what that’s supposed to look like.

    I’ve been there.

    It’s a tough situation, because you’ve been doing content marketing with your gut this whole time, and now you’re being asked to put all that into a document. (And the gut-to-document process can be pretty painful.) Plus, you know that awesome content marketing involves a lot of flexibility—how do you build that into a strategic document?

    Good news: we’ve scoured the Internet for content marketing strategy templates, tried a few, and put together an approach to building your own content marketing plan step-by-step.

    (This is built with both the in-house content marketer and the agent in mind, BTW!)

    Let’s go!

    Preface

    Before we get too far in, I’d love to start things off with a few quick notes:

    1. This is a long article.

    Feel free to bookmark or send to Pocket to set aside some time to hash through this.

    2. Content marketing strategies aren’t easy to write.

    We’re going to dig into big strategies like website crawls and persona profiles and thematic taxonomies and competitive analyses. (I had to learn a good deal of stuff I was unfamiliar with in order to start writing these, too!) At each step, I’ve included some recommended material for further reading.

    3. This isn’t gospel.

    Like the pirate code, these are more guidelines than actual rules. =) You’ll find that some projects need more in-depth planning than others.

    4. Stay flexible.

    A strong content marketing strategy should give you focus, not lock you into less-than-awesome ideas! The key to a great content marketing strategy is being able to tweak, break, and chuck parts of it as you learn more about what works and what doesn’t.

    All right, now that we’ve covered the caveats, let’s look at how to write this content marketing strategy!

    How to write a content marketing strategy step-by-step

    Let’s walk though how you can write a content marketing strategy—one that pulls together all the pieces and gives you a clear plan for moving forward.

    Step 1: Start with an outline

    Writing a strategy can sound like a daunting task. How detailed should it be? How high-level should it be? Starting with an outline can help you conceptualize all the ground you need to cover—and it may save you from expending your energy covering unnecessary ground!

    And what is the right ground to cover anyway?

    A good content marketing strategy will answer three basic questions:

    1. Why are we making content in the first place?
    2. What content do we need?
    3. How do we get that content to accomplish our goals?

    Your outline will help you structure your research and ideation so that you’re focused on answering these key questions.

    For example, one way this could look is by splitting the remaining steps below (all 20 of ’em) into each of these buckets. The outline, then, could look a little something like this:

    For the rest of these steps, I’m going to work through a basic outline template that has helped me in both in-house and agency roles. (And I’d be more than happy to give you a copy of this outline to copy or tweak!)

    Once you’ve got an outline, it’s time to start with what you know: yourself.

    Step 2: Write down what you’re trying to accomplish

    This is where you’ll write out your content marketing goals. What are you trying to accomplish? It helps if this is specific, because later on in this process, you will be comparing your content to your goals to see what’s truly in alignment.

    This may express itself as a big objective with smaller SMART goals folded underneath (SMART stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely”).

    An example may be:

    Goal: To become perceived as a thought leader on the phenomenon of Roomba rodeos.

    • Objective #1: Generate $500,000 in revenue from online training courses by December 31, 2016.
    • Objective #2: Rank on the first page of Google search engine results for “Roomba rodeo” by April 1, 2016.
    • Objective #3: Grow an email list of 5,000 unique double opt-in subscribers by March 4, 2016.

    Note: A great question to ask for added context might be: What are the overall marketing goals, and how can content marketing support them?I’ve found that some organizations group content marketing into a separate team (or outsource the efforts), which means it may be wise to get some advice from other non–content marketing folks in your organization.

    (Protip: sometimes asking other teams and departments for content input is a great way to build a culture of content in your organization!)

    Once you’ve written down these goals, you can ask yourself (and your team) a few questions:

    • How does good content accomplish these goals?
    • How can we measure whether or not our content is aligned with these goals?

    This is where you’ll outline your content KPIs (key performance indicators).

    For more thoughts on setting marketing goals, check out this best-of list of methods from experts like Noah Kagan, Ryan Holiday, Rand Fishkin, our own Courtney Seiter. You might also want to swipe some goal-setting templatesfrom HubSpot’s Mike Lemire.

    Step 3 (optional): Write down what you’re selling

    I’ve found it helpful to write out what the product or service I’m trying to sell is. It helps me think through the features, the different product tiers, the sales cycle, etc. When you know what you’re selling, you can more easily frame the kind of content you will need to sell it.

    Of course, you may be the product creator, the marketer, the one-human show, and this might not be something you need to write down. If not, feel free to skip this part.

    Step 4: Now, who’s going to consume your content?

    It’s time to outline who the audience for your content marketing efforts is going to be. If you’ve done some of your persona research already, huzzah! You can plug those little blocks of fictional, alliterative goodness here.

    Don’t have your buyer personas fleshed out yet? Now’s a terrific time to get started on this! Here are a few resources to help you start developing your own personas:

    Step 5: Map your personas’ needs to your product or service

    Jay Acunzo wrote my very favorite definition of content marketing:

    Once you’ve looked at who your audience is, you need to ask one crucial question: How can you help them?

    This question is the heart and soul of content marketing. Your whole content marketing plan will benefit from writing this out.

    The key to this step is to map your persona’s pain points, goals, and desires to the solutions you want to sell. This might look like making a table with brief descriptions of each. Or it might be something you’d like to write out in story form—something Moz’s Isla McKetta has some super helpful thoughts on!

    Again, this step is key, because the rest of this strategy is going to be about creating and upgrading and curating and promoting content that solves the same problems your product solves!

    Step 6 (optional): Heroes and watering holes

    You’re laying a terrific foundation for your content strategy. You’ve dug through your personas’ deepest wants and needs and mapped those to your product. You’re getting an idea of what kinds of problems your content needs to solve. Things are starting to take shape.

    There’s another (optional) thing I like to look at before leaving the audience section of the content marketing plan, though. I like to know:

    Where is my audience already going for this kind of information?

    This is a fun exercise I’ve nicknamed “heroes and watering holes.” (You can probably come up with a better name for it!) I call them that because at this stage in the content marketing plan, it’s good to start thinking of the sources of information the audience already trusts. Those sources generally fall into two groups:

    1. Heroes are those celebrity thought-leaders who have followings around their personal brands. These are the names that jump to mind when you think of the experts in your industry. An example of one of my heroes isBryan Harris, whose intensely practical case studies give me and other marketers so much to riff off in our own efforts.
    2. Watering holes are those sources of information that aren’t necessarily tied to a person. They represent places your customers trust for awesome content. Examples of watering holes for me are Inbound.org or Quora, where I know there’s always going to be more interesting information that will help me do my job better.

    If you examine where your audience is already going for information, you can get a more comprehensive view of the content marketplace. It can help protect you from trying to reinvent any content wheels, and it can give you some awesome ideas for guest postingthe lifeblood of the early content marketing strategy at Buffer!

    Unless you have a really wide reach, you can probably use your own intuition to map out your audience’s influencers. But if you’d like a more data-driven approach, you may want to use tools like FollowerWonk andBuzzSumo.

    Step 7: Look to the competition’s content marketing efforts for inspiration

    It’s good to know what kind of content your audience wants.

    It’s fantastic to know what kind of content your competitors are already giving them.

    You don’t need to do a deep-dive competitive analysis for every single content marketing plan you write, but you will probably find it helpful to take a moment to reflect on just what other people and brands are offering your personas.

    By the way, when you think about competition in terms of content marketing, it can work a little differently than you might imagine. Your competitors aren’t necessarily the organizations that are competing for customer dollars. When it comes to content marketing, your competitors are the people and organizations that are competing for your audience’s attention.

    This is generally a good place in your content strategy to ask a few questions:

    1. Who is competing for my personas’ business? These are your direct competitors.
    2. Who is competing for my personas’ attention, but not necessarily their business? These are your indirect
    3. How can my brand stand out?

    It’s helpful to think through the ways that your content can uniquely appeal to your personas. Will you offer more long-form, deep tactical content? Will your content be more visually oriented? Will your content be crafted with a distinctively delightful tone?

    This graphic from Garrett Moon of CoSchedule does a great job explaining this concept (the blue ocean blogs are what you’d aim for):

    This piece of the strategy will help you orient yourself in the content marketplace, so that you, your team, and/or your client can create content marketing pieces that stand out rather than blend in.

    Not sure who your competitors are?

    There are a few ways to find out.

    One of my favorites: SEMRush. They show you which websites are ranking for the same keywords in search engines as you—which is super helpful! At a glance, you can see who else is getting organic and paid search engine attention for the keywords you might be targeting.

    Step 8: Take inventory of your content

    OK, this step could be its own blog post. Or blog series. Or book. Or director’s edition extended cut DVD set.

    You get the idea: taking inventory of your marketing content is no small task.

    Let’s get a high-level view of what this could look like, and then I’ll be happy to share some links for further reading.

    When you take inventory of your content, you get a list of all your content marketing assets (both onsite and offsite).

    This could be as general as a list of channels. For example, if Buffer were to do a high-level content inventory without digging into the details, it might look like this:

    Onsite

    • Buffer.com informational pages
    • Buffer.com landing pages
    • Social blog
    • Open blog
    • Overflow blog

    Offsite

    • Social media accounts
    • MailChimp lists
    • Guest posts
    • Syndication relationships

    Even something as simple as this is helpful—but only to the extent of figuring out where all your content might be.

    The deeper dive into these individual content marketing assets (a fantastic exercise if you’re up for it) would include:

    • getting a list of all the keywords you rank for in search engines,
    • all the blog posts getting significant traffic and conversions,
    • all the active email lists,
    • all the live high-level web pages,
    • all your social media accounts . . .

    everything.

    It’s a great deal of work. But you emerge from it being incredibly well-attuned to the state of content marketing for your brand.

    In short, what we’re looking at here is a content audit.

    And how do you do a content audit? There are many, many tools and blog posts that can help you do this, but here are a few that I’ve personally found invaluable.

    • This post from Portent Inc. CEO Ian Lurie is the end-all guide to writing one of these. Well done, Ian!
    • Screaming Frog is a super useful tool for taking inventory of all the pages on your site.
    • Google Webmaster ToolsMoz, and SEMRush are helpful for taking inventory of the keywords your content ranks for.
    • But what about the social media offsite content? We can help you with that:Buffer for Business analytics show you what kind of traction your social accounts are gaining, and what kind of posts are driving said traction. =)

    Step 9: Evaluate your existing content

    Now that you’ve put together a list of your content marketing assets, it’s time to line them up against those objectives we covered at the beginning of this plan.

    The central question we’re trying to answer: Which pieces of content are aligned with our objectives?

    (With a follow-up: Which pieces of content can we reorient to align with our objectives?)

    One approach I find super helpful here is to map out the most important pieces of content from the inventory on a matrix like the one below.

    The X axis plots performance: that’s metrics like pageviews, likes, shares, comments, and rankings. The Y axis plots alignment, which is a little fuzzier. The higher up a piece of content is, the more in alignment with our brand’s goals and ethos it is.

    When looking at the content you’ve inventoried, which content falls into which quadrants? (You could assign a quadrant value to each type of content if you like, but unless you’re dealing with a hefty budget, your intuition will work just fine.)

    Some resources that help with evaluating content performance:

    • Google Analytics measures traffic and conversions.
    • Buzzsumo measures your content’s spread via major social media networks.
    • Moz and Ahrefs tell you which content is pulling in those epic backlinks.
    • Google Webmaster ToolsMoz, and SEMRush tell you which pages are ranking for search terms.
    • Buffer for Business is my favorite tool for measuring social media channels.
    • Your usersĀ­—it’s easy (for me!) to get stuck in the quantitative performance metrics, but it’s also good to keep in mind what your audience is telling you they like best.

    When you’ve finished this, it’s time to ask four important questions:

    1. What sticks?
    2. What should we fix?
    3. What should we nix?
    4. What should we add to the mix?

    What sticks? (Step 10)

    This speaks to that sweet, sweet top-right corner of the matrix, where your content is aligned with your brand and acing performance. One thing I find helpful in a content strategy is to list out the content assets that are already performing well at this point.

    What should we fix? (Step 11)

    There will probably be bits of content in quadrants 1 and 4 that could get bumped into quadrant 4 with a little love and care. Make a list of the pieces that really have potential to turn into high-value content marketing assets, along with the ways in which they could be improved.

    For example, you may notice that your “how-to” infographics are generating some super positive comments, but they’re not getting very many shares or backlinks. You might want to take note of this, as this will be worked into the content strategy later.

    What should we nix? (Step 12)

    Where’s the dead weight? There may be some content in quadrant 3 that’s just not doing you any favors. No backlinks, no likes, no rankings—it’s just clutter. (This may also include totally outdated content.)

    If it’s no good, don’t be afraid to put it on the list to be nixed. It’ll clear up space and help you focus on the content that’s most important.

    What do we add to the mix? (Step 13)

    And here’s where your content marketing strategy begins to take on that epic creative element! After meticulously combing over your content, what ideas do you get for new content? What assets could be driving business objectives? What has your brand overlooked? What have you always wanted to try?

    (This is probably my favorite part of writing content marketing strategies!)

    Step 14 (optional): Sort your effective and prospective content marketing assets by theme

    You’ve audited all your content.

    Huzzah!

    We’re about to move into the part of the strategy that deals with making this content, but first, let’s pull some of this audit together by identifying some major content themes. This will play a big part in mapping out a content production and promotion schedule soon.

    Look at the content that sticks.

    1. What categories or topics are really resonating with your readers?
    2. Look at your personas—why would they favor those topics?

    By asking these questions, we can start building out content themes: these are the broad umbrella topics that your best content tends to group under. This is the time in the content marketing strategizing stage where I find it helpful to write these down. Doing so helps hone the plan for producing new content around these themes—which makes things a lot simpler for the folks writing, designing, and coding the content!

    Step 15: Refill your coffee

    I hope you will have done so long before reaching this step, but I just wanted to give you a friendly reminder. ?

    Step 15 (for serious): List the types of content you’ll be dealing with

    You’ve completed a huge component of this strategy piece: you’ve combed through all your content and channels to find what’s working, what’s not, and what you’d like to create.

    Well done. Very well done!

    Now we need to start making a plan for producing content. Just for reference, “producing content” covers two general areas of content crafting:

    1. Optimizing, updating, or otherwise fine-tuning the content that you identified in Step 11 (content to fix).
    2. Creating the content you listed in Step 13 (content to add to the mix).

    We’ll start by listing out the kind of work this will involve, namely, the types of content that need to be crafted. This might include:

    • Long-form, SEO-driven blog posts
    • Interviews
    • Ebooks
    • Infographics
    • Email courses
    • Explainer videos

    Once you have a list of the kinds of content you’re dealing with, you may want to give each one a brief description. For example, you could write:

    • Long-form, SEO-driven blog posts. Posts targeting specific search concepts, usually 2,200+ words in length, written to gain backlinks, comments, and organic search.
    • Ebooks. Documents expounding on a specific topic, usually 5,000+ words, delivered as PDFs, written to give away as lead-generation pieces.

    This is key, because in the next steps, you’ll outline how these kinds of content will be made.

    Step 16: Snapshot the content team and workflow

    One trap that I often fall into is underestimating how long it will take to create a piece of content. (Confession: I’m finishing this post two days later than I originally planned on it being done!) That’s why, when laying out a content strategy, it’s good to get an idea of who’s working on the content, and how that content is going to be created. The goal: get an idea of how much content you have capacity for.

    It may help to focus on answering two key questions here:

    1. Who’s the team?
    2. What’s the workflow?

    For the team, you can list your in-house content creators, as well as any contractors you plan to work with.

    For the workflow, this is a simple step-by-step breakdown of the content creation/fixing process. It could look like, “Ideate > Write > Design > Edit > Schedule > Promote,” or it could be more involved than this.

    This is a tricky one, especially if you’re proposing the first content marketing strategy for an organization. You face a host of unknowns. How long will it take to hire content specialists? How much will it cost to get a designer to make your infographics? How successful will content promotion efforts be?

    The good news: You don’t need to have all the answers here. In fact, sometimes this exercise is most helpful at identifying the elements of content creation that we haven’t figured out yet! What’s important is that you have some idea of where this content marketing effort is coming from. Refining this piece is an ongoing process. =)

    Step 17: Estimate your content capacity

    Once you’ve outlined everything you can in the previous step, it’s time to estimate just how much content can be created in the next span of time.

    If you’re outsourcing this part to a team of experienced content marketers, content production might follow a reliable timetable. But if your team is just getting into content marketing, this can be a tough one. This is where it helps to ask for advice from people with experience.

    And if you can’t know for sure, guess.

    The key here is to find a level of content production your team is confident they can take on, and then go for it. If you end up with lots of unfinished tasks at the end of the month, you can adjust expectations. If you finish way ahead of time, you can either ramp up production or invest in even higher-quality content.

    Either way, you want to have an idea of how much content you can make.

    Pro-tip: a spreadsheet may come in handy here! You can create columns for content type, estimated hours, quantity of pieces, and finally a total. This can help you build a few possible breakdowns of your content capacity.

    Step 18: Map out your editorial calendar

    You know what content you’re going to make.

    You know how you’re going to make it, and you have an idea of how long it’s going to take.

    Now, when will you publish it?

    It’s time to map out your editorial calendar for your content marketing assets. This is where you plot your blog posts, emails, ebooks, podcasts, etc. across a given patch of time, be it months, quarters, or semesters.

    (You could go longer, but I’ve found it helpful to keep the scope of time small enough for you to stay flexible and pivot based on what kind of content is performing.)

    One thing to keep in mind: you don’t necessarily need to plan out every single piece of individual content on this calendar from the get-go. But it will help to map out how those content themes from Step 14 and the content types you listed in Step 16 will be spread across the next time period.

    Protip: It’s easy to forget social media posting schedules here (since blogging and email take up a decent amount of brainspace). You may want to map out some of your social content schedule on the editorial calendar. Your social media conversations will understandably be more fluid than blog posts or emails, so this doesn’t need to be the end-all social media schedule. It’s just something to consider, as you may find it helpful just so you can see it in context of the rest of your content production. =)

    One more protip: This is a great place to include your guest blogging and syndication efforts, too!

    A few tools to consider for your editorial calendar:

    Step 19: Make a content promotion workflow

    If you publish a blog post in a forest, but nobody is around to read it, does it make a sound? ?

    Probably not.

    Creating amazing content is incredibly important, but there’s SO MUCH content being made every day! You’re going to need to find a way to get your awesome blog posts and infographics and podcasts in front of the right eyeballs.

    You don’t just want a plan for making content. You want a plan for driving attention to it.

    This is a great time in the content marketing plan building process to map that out. How will you drive traffic to your content?

    You can start with a very simple process for doing so. It could be as straightforward as this:

    1. Publish content
    2. Email co-workers to let them know about it, ask them to share (My teammate Kevan has some awesome thoughts on how this can work!)
    3. Share it to corporate social accounts
    4. Send a note to email subscribers about it
    5. Email influencers to let them know about it (backlinks!)
    6. Write guest posts linking back to that post

    Full disclosure: that’s not a complete list of things you can do, by any means—especially that last item. You’ll want to promote your content through those heroes and watering holes you described at the beginning of this strategy, and you’ll want to do it in a way that makes them look forward to getting more content from you.

    There’s a lot that can be said when it comes to figuring out a content promotion workflow. For now, it’s important that you have some means of driving traffic to your content once it’s published.

    For more on content promotion plans and tactics, go read anything (or everything!) by Brian Dean. I’ve found this video and this guide to be especially insightful.

    And here’s a peek at the content distribution checklist used at Buffer:

    Step 20: Write the epilogue

    Sum up your content strategy by painting an awesome picture of what it will be like if you execute on it. You can put lots of interesting things here, including experiments you hope to learn from and awesome blogs your content might be featured on.

    But, of course, the most important thing to do is briefly wrap up your strategy by relating it to those business objectives you listed at the very beginning. =)

    Step 21: Write the executive summary

    You’ve done it.

    You have put together the epic content marketing strategy. You might be sitting on top of a 20-page document. Heck, if you’re working with a really big organization, it could be pushing 50 pages. You have just made yourself the ultimate expert on your content.

    Your boss or client is going to be totally floored by the amount of time and research and thought you just put into this.

    And they won’t have time to read it. =)

    That’s why you’ll want to circle back around and add an executive summary to the beginning of your content strategy. Think of it as a TL;DR that answers four basic questions:

    1. What are you aiming to accomplish?
    2. What’s the state of content right now?
    3. What needs to change?
    4. How will you make it happen?

    Ka-BAM!

    You’re done. =D


    7 Steps to Get Influencers to Share Your Content

    Barbara Spagnola - Monday, March 21, 2016

    by Aaron Agius
    Search, Content and Social Marketer

    Influencer marketing is one of the hottest strategies today, which means there are plenty of marketers out there wanting to build mutually beneficial relationships.

     

    You’ve already researched and identified your influencers (if not, read this). Now, here are seven steps to get them to share.

    Related: How to Get 1,000 Visitors to Your Next Blog Post Using an Influencer Group Post

    1. Share their content.

    Sharing your influencer’s content is an easy way to get them to notice you. Determine what platforms they’re most active on, and focus your efforts there. You can check up on their social pages or use a social-media management tool to create a list of your influencers. That will make it easy to view and retweet their content.

    Add a personal touch to your sharing by creating a modified tweet that says something positive about the piece. You can also tag them in the tweet to increase the chances that they’ll see it.

    2. Comment on their blog.

    Engaging with your influencer on their blog is a great way to connect with them further -- especially if they actively respond to comments. Say something insightful about the post that might inspire others to engage as well.

    Make sure you use your real name, so the influencer can recognize who you are, but don’t say anything that can be perceived as self-serving.

    3. Offer to contribute to their blog

    If the influencer hasn’t noticed you yet, they will if you contact them aboutwriting a guest post. Check their website to see if they have posted guest submission guidelines, and follow them to a T. If they don’t have any guidelines listed, then reach out to them with an email requesting to contribute.

    Be sure to include:

    • Who you are and what you do

    • A detailed synopsis of what you’d like to write

    • An explanation of how their audience could benefit from the piece

    4. Write Amazing Content.
    Engaging with your influencer and landing a guest post are helpful steps to building a relationship with your influencer. Now you can see if they’re interested in sharing your content. I’ve always stressed the point that quality trumps quantity -- and it couldn’t be more true when you’re trying to create content that influencers will share.  

    Research by Moz and Buzzsumo found that the Internet has a dearth of quality content, which is why when it does appear, it’s bound to get more engagement:

    Your article should be relevant to both of your niches and be well-researched, accurate and engaging. Influencers won’t be interested in sharing rewrites of other people’s work, so be original, and offer a new perspective that will get people talking.

    5. Consider mentioning them.

    One easy way to get an influencer’s attention with your content is by somehow featuring them in it -- especially if you didn’t manage a guest post with them before. It can be something as simple as curating a quote or highlighting positive attributes of the influencer or their brand. If it’s a high-quality, helpful endorsement, they’ll love to share it.

    Mentioning an influencer in your article is a great strategy -- especially for new relationships. However, you can still find success with just quality, targeted content.

    6: Tell them about it.

    The blogosphere and social media are crowded arenas. Even if an influencer is interested in your content, there’s no guarantee they’ll manage to find and read it on their own. It’s your job to make sure they do. If you featured them in your post, it’s totally acceptable to send them a quick email about it.

    Otherwise, I definitely recommend tagging them when you share the post on Twitter. Just be sure that the post you’re tagging them in is genuinely relevant to them and their audience -- otherwise it will seem like you’re fishing for shares.

    7. Ask them to share.

    There are only so many ways to encourage someone to share your contentindirectly. If you wrote great content, built a relationship with the influencer and consistently shared their content, there’s no reason they wouldn’t be willing to share yours -- unless they’re not interested in collaborating with you at all.

    If that’s the case, it’s best to move on to targeting someone more aligned with your interests. If you send them an email telling them about the post, you can include a short comment at the end asking them to share if they think their audience would enjoy it. The worst thing that could happen is that they say "No," and you take your efforts to the next influencer.