practical content strategy & marketing

It’s Book Launch Day! Julia’s Second Book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, is Here

My book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, is out today!

Get it:

This 366-page paperback is my answer to a huge industry need – practical, real-life content strategy & marketing teaching! I’ve spent the last 7 months compiling it, and poured more than 500 hours into research, creation, and whittling down the essence of my last six years full-time in this industry into this book as practical, ready-to-use knowledge.

This book accompanies my new course, The Practical Content Strategy Certification Course.

I have the honor of having the foreword written by Mark Schaefer. Plus, early editorial reviews from Madalyn Sklar, Andy Crestodina, Scoop.it’s founder Guillaume Decugis, Dr. Ai Addyson-Zhang Digital Consultant, Curata’s founder, and MANY other top influencers! Read all the editorial reviews in the first 5 pages of the book.

Finally: Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is a real-life, practical guidebook on content strategy and marketing.

Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is your go-to guide on a practical content strategy and marketing education, created as a written accompaniment to my new course, the Practical Content Strategy Certification Course.

If you run a business, or if you’re trying to break into a top-dollar content marketing career, you need to know the practical concepts involved in content strategy and marketing.

The “how,” the “why,” the “where” of content.

Content marketing itself involves so many platforms, formats, content types, strategies, tools—and to get the most ROI from your approach to content marketing and strategy, you have to know how to do the most important content marketing practices. Forget FOMO and trying to figure out too many things. This guide will teach you the most important foundations and skills you actually need in order to get far in our booming industry of content marketing.

For the first time in the industry, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing lays the “hows” of content marketing and strategy out, in a step-by-step approach, book form. Each section has written exercises built to solidify what you’re reading and learning—you’ll be able to fill these out with a pen. Don’t be afraid to mark this book up!

Why is this book different? You’re not going to find corporate, birds-eye, mumbo-jumbo fluff in this content marketing guide. Quite the opposite.

I won my way to the top (awarded as the top 33rd content marketer in 2016) the hard-knocks way. I dropped out of college and built a content agency, Express Writers, on nothing but $75 and the tenacity to go and follow my dream and see it through. Five years later, my business has served over 5,000 clients and employs over 40 team members, and my content consistently ranks at the top of Google and in the highest-shared on the publications I write on.

My go-to marketing strategy? A practical, hands-on content marketing approach that has ended up bringing in 99% of the clients our agency currently works with.

In this book, learn the principles and physical “how-to” behind these six key cores of effective content marketing:

  • Module 1: Core Foundations of an ROI-Based Content Strategy
  • Module 2: Audience Persona Discovery, Sales Funnel Content Mapping, & Style Guidelines
  • Module 3: Understanding Keywords, SEO Opportunities, & Creating Keyword Reports
  • Module 4: How to Build Content Cores (Your Content House) for an Authority Presence Online
  • Module 5: Practical Content Creation (Your Site & Guest Blogging)
  • Module 6: Content Promotion, Setting a Budget, Preparing Your Editorial Calendar, & Maintenance

Along the way, you’ll actually get to build a content strategy from the ground up, using the Brand Strategy Exercises in each module. Have your pen and thinking cap ready—and a brand you want to build an entire working strategy for!

Practical Content Strategy & Marketing is a field guide for the smartest content marketers who know that strategy is the key to thriving in our world of new marketing through content.

Leading business marketing expert Mark Schaefer joins me to write the foreword, and guests Sujan Patel, Michele Linn, Steve Rayson and more appear in guest lessons throughout the book.

Launch Day Bonus: The Online Course Accountability Journal

course journal

Before the book came out, I brainstormed, sat down and thought out the bonus I wanted to give away. I also ran a few polls in my community. I came up with a course journal planner.

Turns out…a course accountability system is what a LOT of course students want!

So, I created one, mapping it out all day on my floor.

IT’S AVAILABLE NOW.

And if you get a copy of Practical Content Strategy & Marketing today…

You can get a FREE PDF of the journal, when you buy Practical Content Strategy & Marketing! Just go here and let us know.

The journal is also on Amazon as print.

Last thing….

DON’T FORGET to join us for the launch party tonight!! Get a reminder here 👉🏻https://www.facebook.com/JuliaEMcCoy/videos/1484842658277832/

book cta

law blog writers

Law Blog Writers: 6 Key Steps to Stop Writing Boring, Blah Posts

Blogging. Everybody’s doing it.

It’s not a coincidence. Content marketing and blogging are successful, proven ways to earn leads, conversions, and increase sales and revenue.

More and more marketers are focusing on blogging in particular as the keystone of their efforts.

According to stats Impact shared, marketers consider blogs “critical” to success.

It’s all because one of blogging’s main goals (and successes) is building the consumer’s trust. Once you build that trust, it’s much easier to get them on your side and turn them into customers.

Take a look at these numbers from the same study:

These are great stats in favor of content. People generally feel more comfortable learning about companies through informative articles. After they consume a brand’s content, they feel better about the brand.

The problem?

You can only enjoy the benefits of content marketing and blogging if the stuff you create is good.

Unfortunately, for people in specialized industries who want to take advantage, that’s not exactly simple to do.

If you’re a lawyer or law blog writer who creates content for a legal blog, it may be even harder.

legal blog writers

Why Is It So Hard to Write an Interesting Law Blog?

Niche, high-level topics are not easy to write about for the everyman (or everywoman). Often, with the wrong approach, your content can be just as dry and boring as the contracts you draft or the briefs you compose.

Look at this example of a contract between a company and an independent contractor:

Nobody will touch writing like this with a 10-foot pole unless they have to. Unless the law requires it, it’s not happening.

Quite frankly, writing like this looks scary and daunting to read. It may even fill your audience with anxiety.

If you’re tapped into writing like this 24/7, we have a problem.

The thing is, you already know law blogs are inherently boring, but you may not know how to write any other way. Years of law school probably drilled most of those down-to-earth writing skills right out of you.

It’s time to re-learn some writing techniques to make your law blog intriguing and readable. It’s time to pick up some tips so you can craft a great, informative, personable blog alongside all that legal writing you do.

Law blog writers, here are the keys to banishing boring, blah posts from your content roster forevermore.

How to Be an Interesting Law Blog Writer

Law is a notoriously hard topic to write about in a way that’s engaging for the average internet surfer. If you want to make non-law experts and potential clients interested in your blog, give these tips a whirl.

1. Research Post Topics That Fill a Knowledge Gap or Have Built-In Interest

If you’re currently flooding the internet with posts that delve into nitty-gritty aspects of your law specialty, let me ask you one question:

Why?

If you’re trying to attract business with your blog, your audience isn’t law students. It’s not lower-level members of your team or fellow law professionals, either.

Your audience is your clients and potential clients.

These people don’t care about deep-dives into new legislation. They don’t understand legal jargon.

However, to connect with them, you can’t write another post that other law blogs have already discussed hundreds of times.

Instead:

  • Look at your law specialty. Look at the services you offer. Simplify these topics and do basic searches to discover what’s already out there on the web about them, as well as what people want to know.
  • Use keyword research tools like BuzzSumo or Google Keyword Planner to find out what interests people right now and what opportunities you might have to fill in knowledge gaps.

For instance, a common legal topic the average Joe searches for online is “DUI law.” Plugging “DUI laws in California” into BuzzSumo shows what people are sharing. It also shows how some law blog writers are addressing narrower topics, like “Green DUI” and how to contest a DUI in court.

Doing research like this shows you where the interest is hovering and empty spaces that you could fill with good content.

Never neglect research when coming up with legal blog post topics. Neil Patel calls keyword research “the most important part of digital marketing” for a reason. It shows you how to reach the right people online with your content – the people who need it, and the people you have a better chance of turning into clients.

2. Cut Your Sentences in Half

Wordy sentences have their place. You’ll find them in legal documents, in some forms of pretentious fiction, and in technical manuals.

Where do they have no business showing up? In your blogs.

Online writing is different from any other type because of how people read it. Think about it: They’re staring at screens of all sizes, scrolling, clicking, and browsing.

It’s not like settling down with a book and giving it your full attention. It’s like sitting in a darkened room while hundreds of pieces of content fly past your face. Ads, blog posts, articles, images, social media posts, links, videos, and more.

Which ones make you want to pause?

According to Buffer, the internet is doused in trillions of ads per year and hundreds of billions of tweets a day. That’s not to mention the extra few billion Facebook posts created daily.

Via Marketoonist

The result is that most people get pretty schizophrenic when they’re online. They skip from content piece to content piece and post to post without drawing breath. They scroll through their feeds like speed demons.

Hence: Online writing must cater to short attention spans. If your sentences mirror the ones in that contract you just drew up, stop. Think again.

It’s time to ruthlessly edit yourself. Cut your sentences in half. Insert periods instead of commas. Trim out useless adjectives.

Here’s a great example:

Both of these sentences say the same thing. Sentence #1 is 16 words long. Sentence #2 is 8 words long. In half the time, you can say the exact same thing.

Guess what. The American Press Institute even did a study on sentence length and comprehension. Now, guess how long a sentence had to be for readers to 100% understand it?

That’s right: 8 words long.

And, it turns out the longer the sentence got, the harder it was to understand.

Bottom line: For better blogs, trim the fat from your online writing. Snag attention, don’t divert it. Keep your readers on the same page: yours.

3. Talk TO Your Reader, Not at Them

Writing and talking TO someone looks a whole lot different from talking AT them. Observe:

One sounds formal and stuffy, like you’re reading a textbook. The other sounds conversational, like friendly advice.

The first example, #1, is written in the third person. This type of writing sounds formal because it is – it’s reserved for academia, professional papers, and other formal settings. Legal writing is also always in the third person, but you knew that.

The second example, #2, is written in the second person. It directly addresses the reader as “you.” The writer is talking to you on a one-to-one level.

That approach is huge for readable, interesting content. After all, who wants to feel like they’re reading a textbook? That’s no fun.

Meanwhile, having an informative yet friendly conversation with an expert, on a topic you care about, IS fun. You get the picture.

4. Write in Plain English

According to research, to write an interesting, readable blog post, you always need to use plain English. This means using language that anyone can understand, and by extension, enjoy.

For ultimate reader comprehension, avoid using legal terms and jargon. You should also use fewer complicated or rare words in general.

Forget sounding smart. Sound understandable.

Writing tools like the Hemingway Editor will find the complex words lurking in your writing and suggest simpler alternatives automatically. You can also root them out yourself and avoid using them in your future blogs.

For instance, instead of “utilize,” say “use.” Instead of “comprehending,” say “knowing.” Rather than say “mitigate,” say “lessen” instead.

Don’t think of this as dumbing yourself down. Think of it as getting on the same level as your readers so you can effectively teach them, help them, and add value to their lives. What could be worthier than that?

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Empty Space

When you’re writing about potentially complicated or complex topics for the common person, don’t forget to embrace the empty space on the page.

This means a few things:

  • Shorter paragraphs, and more of them
  • More headers breaking up the page and organizing ideas
  • Long lists with commas converted to numbered or bulleted lists

When you embrace the white space, you give your readers’ eyes a rest. They can easily scan the page. As such, readability and comprehension will improve, especially for topics that need a lot of explaining.

On the other hand, if you fill your page with walls of text, this is HubSpot’s top reason why your blog might be hard to read.

Their blog on this very subject has great white space, naturally:

Look at all that room around the content! That’s ideal.

You should follow suit. Break up your ideas visually as well as contextually. They’ll be easier to understand and more interesting by extension.

6. Get Excited

If you’re not excited about your blog topic, how will your readers get excited?

If you want people to be interested in what you’re writing, you must first feel that interest.

There’s a huge difference between a writer approaching a topic with excitement, and a writer approaching a topic between bouts of falling asleep at the keyboard. One of them will naturally infuse their post with their enthusiasm. Their readers will glom onto that tone, pulling them into the post.

The other writer? Well… Their results won’t be pretty. They’ll be lucky if they get a handful of reads. Mostly, it will be crickets.

Of course, the right direction to go is the one with excitement. When researching post topics and keywords, follow the ones that make you excited to get researching and writing.

Yes, abide by the cliché and “follow your passions.” It will make your readers want to follow along with you.

Law Blog Writers, You CAN Write Epically Interesting Blogs

Any topic can be interesting with the right approach.

Research law topics people are looking for and knowledge gaps you can fill. Keep your sentences on the short side and your language plain and simple. Talk to your audience on their level, like a friendly chat, and get excited about your topic.

There aren’t really any super-star law blog writers out there, yet, writing for everyday people. There’s an even bigger lack of quality posts with good information that are also interesting.

Are you ready to fill the gap?

Writing an authoritative yet engaging legal blog for average readers is hard. If you need a little help, check out our legal writing services and expert blogs.

 

promote my blog

How Do I Promote My Blog? The Essential Guide to Content Promotion

Recently, I shared one of my latest blog posts on LinkedIn and received this comment:

“Love this article and longer, high quality content is definitely the way to go. I’d love to see a side bar or other complementary content about the best strategies for promoting content once it’s written.”

This is a great topic suggestion — and one I definitely need to address.

Why?

Because the reality is writing great content alone won’t get you far.

Composing a high-quality piece and hitting “publish” just isn’t enough.

You have to help it along on its internet journey.

Hold its hand for a little bit. You have to guide it into the limelight, or, in some cases, shove it out there.

It’s the only way to ensure success – as opposed to publishing it on your site, crossing your fingers, and hoping against hope somebody will stumble across it and read it.

With solid promotion, you can help your blog reach great heights.

The only question left, of course, is this: “How do I promote my blog?”

Well, friends, I’m here with tons of actionable tips to help you do just that.

Settle in with your cozy beverage of choice.

Ready? Let’s get knee-deep in great content promotion tactics.

promote my blog strategies

“How Do I Promote My Blog the Smart Way?” 15 Tactics, Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Try

There are tons of ways to promote your content.

Not kidding. Tons.

Because the amount of information is so broad, we’re going to break this down further into categories.

Based on your resources, choose your weapon(s) wisely.

The Lowdown: How to Create Great Email Marketing for Better Content Promotion

You know the power of email marketing — or you should.

It has a mind-exploding ROI of $44 for every $1 spent.

Naturally, it can also do great things for promoting your content. Here are top tactics to try.

Need some ideas for promoting your next blog post? @ExpWriters has some great tactics to try!Click To Tweet

1. Build Up Your Email List

The number one thing you can do for content promotion is build up your email list. Once you have a direct line to a loyal, built-in audience, it becomes a platform for anything you publish.

Your email list will not only click-through to read your blogs. They’ll also share them with their social networks, which dramatically increases your exposure. In fact, your list is 3.9x more likely to share your content than people who visit from other places (like search results).

Email is widely used across demographics. According to Pew Research, 92% of adults online use it, and an average of at least 61% use it daily.

The reach potential of email is really, really big. So, how do you grow your list so you can tap into that?

We address this topic thoroughly in a previous post – it’s definitely recommended reading. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Use compelling CTAs in your content that urge readers to subscribe.
  • Create and offer free lead magnets (original guides, how-tos, videos, white papers, case studies, etc.). Collect visitor emails in exchange for your freebies.
  • Create evergreen content that continues to provide useful information long past its publication date. Include powerful CTAs in each one that ask for subscriptions, or point visitors to your email-gathering lead magnet.

There are also plenty of tools out there that can help you grow your list. Jeff Bullas and Kissmetrics offer great suggestions for tools to use, including both free and paid options.

2. Send Content to Your Email List at the Right Time

After you’ve built an email list, you can send them an update about when you publish a new blog post.

Jon Morrow of Smartblogger calls this combination of blogging + email “the ultimate publishing platform.” He also uses some other choice words:

He’s totally right, of course.

Here’s an example of an email I sent out to my list notifying them about a fresh blog:

However, this strategy gets better if you send the email at the right time.

There has been a standard stat floating around for a while about optimal send times – send in the morning, and send on Tuesday or Thursday.

Those times were the right times up until recently. Now, the advent of mobile is shaking things up. More and more people are checking their phones for email versus sitting down at their computers.

Vertical Response analyzed recent data and found that the ability to check email anytime, anywhere, has changed what your optimal email send time should be. Now, the ideal sweet spot is either morning or late evening on a weekday.

Here’s an infographic that shows the send-time as compared to the transaction rate (email opens and clicks). In particular, late-night email readers show a lot of potential for engagement.

Sending a short, sweet email to your list when you publish an awesome new blog = key. That goes double for sending that email at the right time.

For you, that ideal time might look a little different from the average. Play around with when you send your blog update emails, and track what works. These two powerhouses combined could make all the difference.

3. Segment Your Email List

There’s another way to truly super-power your content promotion with email: Send out blog updates to the exact people who’ll love reading about whatever topic you’ve covered.

This means you need to segment your email list, according to a HubSpot infographic. Divide it up into categories based on information like your audience’s interests, where they opted-in for email in the first place, their purchase record, and more.

These people may show more enthusiasm for certain posts than other list subscribers. Send targeted post updates and you’ll start encouraging loyal followers who are more likely to share your content.

4. Promote Your Blog in Your Email Newsletter

CoSchedule has a great tip to boost your blog visibility via email. Use your email newsletter to highlight your weekly posts along with curated, relevant content from around the web.

For instance, at the end of the week, round up all your blog posts from the past seven days into your email newsletter. Include other great content that got published the same week. This provides high value to your readers, and it reminds them to check out what you’ve published recently. Win-win.

The Lowdown for On-Page Blog Promotion and Content Strategies

This next tip is pretty simple: Use your blog to promote your blog.

It sounds strange, but it works. Here’s how:

5. Invest in High-Quality Content (Content That Promotes Itself!)

After email promotion, the next best way to promote your content is to let it promote itself.

That means keep it high-quality all day, every day.

Here at Express Writers, just by increasing our content quality (more time spent on research and creation) we have significantly boosted shares, traffic, and comments.

Why is this so?

Because quality content can speak for itself. Here are some other reasons why it’s a self-promoter, via an infographic we did:

Mediocre content will need much more promotion to get people interested. Quality content, meanwhile, is inherently interesting. It stands on its own two feet, which means promotion is WAY easier.

Be the best answer to the question your user is searching for, and flesh it out with good writing, research, and attention to detail. Your efforts to get it noticed will take half the work.

6. Link to Internal Content

If you can keep your visitor on your site longer, you have a better chance of shepherding them into the fold. Loyal followers, in turn, are more likely to share your content than non-followers.

The result is a cycle of engagement, conversion, content sharing, and boosted visibility.

How should you link to your own content on your blog?

  • First, always do it in a useful way. Only link to your other content when it’s relevant to the piece you’re writing.
  • Next, avoid spammy links. Don’t link to the same article three times in one sentence. Don’t pepper every other word in a paragraph with internal links that aren’t relevant to your topic.

For a great example of internal linking done right, look to Content Marketing Institute. In this article by Joe Pulizzi exploring 2018 content marketing trends, related links are included in context with terms that help demonstrate that they’re not random picks:

These links are “handpicked.” That tells you they have been personally selected to go with the article you’re reading. It’s helpful and valuable for information gathering, but it also keeps you on their site longer. That’s just smart.

7. Use Creative CTAs

Using creative calls-to-action at the end of each blog you publish can help promote your brand and your other content. Really good CTAs drive traffic to areas you pinpoint, which can lead to higher visibility and conversions.

At Express Writers, we use creative CTAs that promote our course (education) and our services (done-for-you). For example, the end of this post encourages readers to check out other content pages on our site that explain our services:

CTAs are well-known conversion and click-through-rate (CTR) boosters. Don’t neglect them when it’s time to promote your blog content throughout your site.

8. Update Consistently, and Optimize Your Blog for Search

Don’t forget to optimize your blog for search engines! The organic traffic you can get from Google is invaluable.

Here at EW, this has been HUGE for us. We currently have over 4,000 keyword rankings in Google because we’ve optimized our blogs (over 700 of them) and zeroed-in on keyword opportunities.

The more you blog, the more pages you have on your site for Google to index. The more content you have that’s Google-indexed, the more your chances improve for higher traffic and leads. Just look at this HubSpot graph from a study that shows the correlation:

That’s the one-two punch you need: a consistent publication schedule with only high-quality content, and posts that target search with great keywords.

To hone in on the keywords to focus on in your blogs, you need to do keyword research. This is a big topic in and of itself, but there are lots of guides out there to help you.

If you’re a beginner, this HubSpot blog is a good starting point. Don’t forget to check out our own deep dives into this topic here at EW. Check out our articles and videos on how to handle closely related keyword terms, why keyword search volume doesn’t matter, and how to use long tail keywords naturally in your content.

The Lowdown on Social Media & More (Promote Your Blog Off-Site)

Use the resources at your disposal across the world wide web to give your blog the extra traction it needs. Social media is a no-brainer, but there are a few other tricks to flesh out your power to reach more people.

First, let’s start with the obvious:

9. Share on Social Media

The most basic way to promote your posts on social media is to share them. Whenever you publish a new post, share it on all your accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. You’ll get hundreds, or even thousands, of extra eyes on it (depending on who follows you and who shares the post).

10. Widen Your Social Following

If your follower count is a bit low at the moment, increase your commitment to engage with people on a human level. Your goal isn’t to rake in followers, but to make genuine connections with other people that are mutually beneficial.

How to do it?

Reach out. Visit somebody’s profile in your “friend-of-a-friend” network and like some of their posts or leave a genuine comment. Participate in Facebook group discussions and Twitter chats.

Put yourself out there and mean it. The rewards will be ten-fold.

11. Create Unique Social Posts for Each Platform

When you’re sharing your blog posts on social media, don’t forget to compose unique posts for each platform.

That means you should write different posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. All of them will share the same link to your fresh blog, but they’ll be targeted for each unique audience.

To write the best posts possible, ones that will get noticed, compose each according to best practices. Don’t forget to post at optimal times for the best engagement.

For instance, for Facebook, posting the link to your new blog at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., or 3 p.m. gives it a better chance for engagement. This is according to CoSchedule’s analysis of 20 different studies.

For more on posting best-practices for each social network, our Handy Dandy Guide on How to Write Social Media Posts provides guidance, if you need it. (Plus, there’s a cheat sheet you can grab that makes it even easier!)

12. Use Hashtags to Reach Non-Followers

This tip is simple. According to best practices for posting to each network, include popular industry hashtags with your blog link to help a wider audience discover your post.

13. Repost Your Post!

Don’t just share your new blog posts on social media networks once. Set up a posting schedule where you share out your link multiple times during the day right after it goes live. Then, for the following week, share the link once a day.

This is a tip Neil Patel recommends:

14. Engage in Guest Blogging

Guest blogging can be a great way to promote your own blog. If you do it right, you’ll be publishing on a popular platform and getting your content in front of a wider audience.

However, there are a few keys to guest blogging strategically:

  • Choose blogs that topically make sense for your guest posting opportunities. The audience of that blog should be in line with your own target audience. It should speak to the same interests and pain points.
  • Choose top blogs with authority. These blogs will get lots of engagement, so you can benefit by association.
  • Make sure you’re allowed to reference your own content wherever you guest blog. Linking to your own content naturally and in a way that adds value for the reader is a great way to get clicks and grow your own audience.

For a great example of the power of guest blogging, look at these statistics from Bamidele Onibalusi. After guest blogging on JeffBullas.com, he netted almost 800 visitors and 300 new email subscribers in two weeks:

15. Try Cost-Effective Ad Promotion

Of course, we have to mention ads once in this guide. You won’t be shelling out thousands of dollars, though. Instead, all you need is some pocket change.

An easy way to promote your blog on Facebook for very little money is through their ad tool. Just head to the Ads Manager to get started creating a campaign.

In particular, to promote your blog, your best move is to retarget your existing traffic. These people are already fans/followers, but they may have missed your post due to the quick-moving flow of their feeds.

Making sure these people see that you’ve got another great post ready is a simple way to boost traffic and engagement.

The best part? You could spend as little as $25 to get it done. Here’s how:

1. Choose a great, recent post that could use a boost. It needs to be REALLY good (but you’re already on top of those quality standards, right? Right).

2. Choose your ad objective. For this scenario, you’ll probably want to choose the “Traffic” option for your ad objective. Facebook says this will “send more people to a destination on or off Facebook, such as a website, app or Messenger conversation.”

3. Create a custom audience to target. Buffer has a thorough guide to creating ads and getting it done. Here’s a screenshot that shows you all the essential pieces of audience targeting:

After you narrow down your target audience, you get to choose your ad placement, budget, and schedule.

Then you’ll choose your ad format (single image works well, here), enter the link to the blog you want to promote, and create your ad text.

You may think you’re ready to confirm your ad at this point, but hold on a second. There’s one more step…

Set Up a Facebook Pixel to Track Ad Performance

Facebook Pixel is a little tool you can install on your website to help you track ad performance. If you don’t yet have it set up, you can find it under “Advanced Options” on the final ad creation page:

All it requires is adding a snippet of code to your site’s header.

Don’t know how to do that? The help guide shows you your options based on how you manage your website:

Once Pixel is set up for your site, you’ll need to create an event that tracks when people click your ad on Facebook. You’ll get an additional snippet of code to add to the existing Pixel code:

This is a low-cost way to quickly promote your blog and get noticed. By retargeting your existing audience, you’re grabbing that low-hanging fruit off the tree instead of leaving it to wither.

Go the Extra Mile: Promote Your Blog to Promote Your Reach

The high-quality content you’re putting out now should perform ludicrously better than your old, cheap efforts. (If you haven’t invested in quality yet, stop. Go back. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.)

But… (And this is a big “but”)…

…If you want to give your high-quality stuff that little extra push it needs, you need to promote your blog.

After all, you can’t reach super-star status without some good ol’ P.R.

In fact, think of yourself as your blog’s public relations manager. You want it to get noticed in all the right ways so people start associating your name/business with authority, value, and expertise.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they did get it done. Your efforts should be no different.

So, the only thing left to do is get out there and give your content every last opportunity to shine.

You can do this.

If you’re still struggling with the “content” part of that equation, there’s an easier way. Let us help. Book a call with one of our specialists today.

engagement cta

how to write to be read

How to Write to Be Read in Your Content Marketing Efforts

Writing isn’t easy.

What’s harder?

Writing content that gets read.

Even if you produce a stellar piece of content in terms of quality, length, and depth, it will not get read if it’s not a good read.

The most viral, shared, and successful content is addictively readable. It’s the type where you read half the piece without realizing it. It sucks you into its universe. It takes you somewhere.

It sounds like this type of content is sprinkled with fairy dust or touched by a unicorn.

It’s not.

At its core, it’s just readable.

There are other factors at play, but the foundation of the content rests on that one little thing.

So, how do you make your content more readable?

There are a few tricks you can use to infinitely improve your chances of getting read.

First, you have to understand what we mean by “readable.”

readable content

What Readable Content Looks Like

Readable content is not just well-written and error-free. It has some other attributes baked right in, ones that help push the reader from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.

1. It’s Well-Researched

Readable content leaves the reader with zero doubts or questions. It answers all of them, and it provides the sources to back it all up. This content is readable precisely because you trust the writer leading you through it.

All the way through the article, blog post, or what-have-you, that writer consistently reestablishes that trust with evidence of good research.

Content that isn’t readable makes claims but doesn’t provide evidence. It doesn’t cite sources. It’s a mish-mash of hasty assumptions, stolen ideas, and personal opinions that teach absolutely no one anything.

Which would you rather read?

2. It’s Not Stuffy

Readable content is also written in plain language. Anybody can read it, learn from it, and enjoy it.

That’s key – a big component that helps lots of content go viral.

Stuffy content, meanwhile, reads like a college textbook. It’s dry and boring. There’s no life or personality behind the words. They convey meaning, but there’s nothing there to keep pulling you in.

If you sound snobby, or like you’re trying to show off your extensive vocabulary, nobody will want to read your content. If you write like a robot, nobody will want to read your content.

For these reasons, Convince and Convert recommends keeping your content empathetic. Empathize with your readers, get on their level, and relate to them. It’s only when you place yourself above them that the stuffiness creeps in.

3. It Has a Unique Angle

The content flood is real. The internet is literally deluged with it – the good, the bad, and the laughable. It’s no wonder information fatigue is an actual condition people deal with.

information-fatigue

As such, readable content is content that stands out from the masses of crap out there. That’s because it takes a unique, interesting angle on a topic that’s sunburned from seeing so much daylight.

Even if you’ve already read 50 articles about a topic, you’ll still want to take in a readable piece that explores it. Why? Because the angle is so interesting or novel. That’s the power of readability.

4. People Care About the Topic

The most likely reason a certain topic has received attention from hundreds of other bloggers and writers? Because people care about it.

After all, you can’t expect them to have any interest in a topic that doesn’t concern them. They won’t even be looking for it online.

That’s another key to readable content – you have to write about what people are searching for. You have to write stuff that speaks to what’s on their minds: their problems, concerns, worries, and interests. Keyword research can help you discover topics like these, but remember: You still need to approach it from that interesting or unique angle to stand out.

5. Readable Content Has the Right Tone

Content is readable when it hits a sweet spot regarding tone.

Tone is your style of speech. For example, you might speak one way to your three-year-old niece, and another way to your boss. You employ different tones to customize your speech for your audience.

In the same way, you need to hit the right tone for the audience you’re writing for.

When you get it just right – when you’re addressing the vast majority of your readers – that content hits home. It’s not just readable; it’s compulsively readable.

MailChimp has a great definition of their brand’s specific voice and tone in their Content Style Guide. It tells writers exactly how to address the brand’s main audience in their content:

mailchimp_tone of voice

What’s notable here is that MailChimp tells their writers to consider the reader’s emotional state and adjust their tone to fit. Writing for a reader experiencing a certain emotion is a great way to make content readable.

How to Make Your Content Addictively Readable

Now that you know what readable content looks like, you can craft your own content in the same vein.

If you want to make your content addictively readable, there are some extra tips that will help.

1. Don’t Use Passive Voice (Most of the Time)

Passive voice can be a death knell for any writer who overuses it. Write your entire article this way, and it will sound dull and strange. Take this great example from Paper Rater for how passive voice can convolute a perfectly fine idea:

There are, however, times when passive voice is perfectly warranted. For instance, you might want the focus of the sentence to be on the person or thing who received the action:

I was hurt.” – It doesn’t matter who hurt me; instead, I want to emphasize my pain.

The money was stolen.” – The money was important, not who stole it.

George was saved by a paramedic.” – We want to know if George is okay, so we put him first.

The key is knowing when passive voice is okay and when it isn’t. To stay on the safe side, avoid it as often as you can, and check your writing for passive voice using tools like the Hemingway Editor.

2. Be Less Selfish

A great point from CoSchedule involves selfish writing: Using “I” more than “you.” If you’re guilty of this, you’re making your content far less interesting for the reader. The focus should be on them!

Via CoSchedule

3. Read It Out Loud

A great way to discover if your content is readable is to… well… read it.

Don’t just skim it for misspellings and incorrect grammar, though. Read it out loud and pay attention to how it flows.

If it reads well out loud, you’re on the right track. Don’t forget to get at least one other person to read it in case you’re biased. That can mean overconfidence as well as crippling self-doubt. (Hey, I don’t judge.)

Ask them to read it out loud, too. They could even read it to you, which will help you understand how another reader approaches it.

This is the perfect way to nail a readable flow and keep your audience engaged.

4. This Sounds Weird But… Write One-Liner Paragraphs

Did you notice a pattern in this blog by now?

Good lookin’ out.

Yes, there is quite a majority of one-sentence paragraphs.

That’s not exactly AP English, is it?

But did you notice something?

It reads well.

It flows well.

Your eyes follow the one-liners.

Why does this work—and does it work?

SmartBlogger broke it down in their blog, How to Write a Paragraph in 2017 (Yes, the Rules Have Changed):

smartblogger quote

Basically, the paragraph has evolved because of the way we read media. There is so much media—content—on the web, that we must evolve into content formats that are extremely easy to read, thus getting our reader to stay on our pages the longest.

Copyblogger and SmartBlogger are led by some of the top thought leaders in the content marketing industry. Check out how the majority of paragraphs are one-liners:

Readable Content Will Help You Get Noticed

That sums up readable content in a nutshell – it keeps the audience riveted. Each sentence pulls them along to the next, and the next, and the next.

When you take the time to produce quality content (and you should), you want it to get read. Make it readable, and the ROI can follow.

If you need some help with the readability factor, Express Writers has got it pegged. Check out our blogs and blogging packages to see what we can do.

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how to create a pricing page

How to Write a High Converting, Appealing Pricing Page For Your Site

Creating a transparent pricing page was one of the best moves we did at my agency.

We are (still) one of the only writing agencies in the industry that transparently discloses our rates and full pricing on one page.

No hidden fees along the way for extras (editing, timelines, etc.). What you see is what you get.

But when you go to put your pricing page together, it can be ​tricky. 

Imagine this…

You’re creating your pricing page.

You’ve got your price structure perfectly set up, and your page features tons of great information on why customers should jump on board.

Finally, it’s time to go live and start converting some visitors!

But then, crickets… Nobody’s converting.

You’ve done everything the experts told you to do. You listed plenty of plan options. You highlighted your ‘most popular plan.’ You’ve got a FAQ section. You offered a free trial. Heck, you even put “money back guarantee” in big, bold letters at the top of the screen.

So, what the heck is the problem? Why aren’t people converting? 

Grab a latte, coffee, or a tea and join me in today’s blog – all about how to create your high-converting pricing page!

how to write a pricing page guide

Why Isn’t My Pricing Page Converting?

In her article about pricing page best practices, conversion expert Talia Wolf gives the perfect reasons why it’s not converting.

As she mentions, your pricing page isn’t converting:

  • Because you’re focusing on your product or service and not the outcome and bottom line for the customer
  • Because you’re giving too many warnings to customers before they’ve even chosen a plan (i.e. ‘no questions asked!’ – ‘money back guarantee!’ – ‘no obligation!’)

You see, when it comes to conversions, it’s all about helping the customer understand the positive outcome that they’re going to receive from purchasing your product or service.

Anything that doesn’t do that is a distraction. And those distractions are preventing conversions.

Takeaway: If you want to create a high converting pricing page, focus on communicating the outcome the customer is receiving and not on the actual action of signing up.

The Elements of a High Converting Pricing Page: 3 of the Biggest Success Factors

According to copywriting legend Eugene Schwartz, customers are always in one of five stages of awareness. They include:

Stages of Awareness

Image Source

Now, when someone makes their way to your pricing page, they’re almost always going to be in either the solution aware, product aware, or most aware stage.

So they don’t need to hear loads of information about features, how cheap your services are, and everything else that distracts from the outcome they’re seeking.

A large percentage of pricing page visitors have already or are close to making a decision.

The job of your pricing page, then, is to get them to take action and finalize that decision.

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

But how exactly do you do it? Well, including the following elements will certainly help.

1. Keep It Simple

An uncluttered, simple design helps ensure that the focus remains on the customer and the outcome they will receive.

Pricing pages with loads of copy, buttons, and colors do nothing but distract customers.

Take a look at this example of an old pricing page from Dyn:

Dyn 1

I’m not even sure what’s going on here?

There’s just far too much going on here.

And any customer is going to have a tough time figuring out which plan, if any, they should be choosing.

Thankfully, the good people at Dyn realized their mistake and fixed it.

Here’s a look at the much simpler pricing page that they use today:

Dyn 2

While their copy could definitely be more customer outcome focused, this is MUCH better than their previous page.

Takeaway: Simplicity wins when it comes to pricing pages. Don’t overwhelm visitors with choices and copy. Keep it simple and focused on the outcome for the customer.

2. Help Visitors Choose the Right Plan

If you’re like most companies, your pricing page features at least three plans.

And while that’s fine, far too many pricing pages struggle to help visitors actually choose the plan that is right for them.

Since you’re trying to get visitors to convert right away, that’s a problem.

Take a look at this example from eVoice:

evoice

As you can see, the plans have no names and provide zero guidance as to which one I should choose if I’m just getting started with this service.

And, if I’m a small business, I still have a ton of questions about each plan that need to be answered before I decide to move forward.

That puts me in a position where I either have to research more about each plan, contact support, or simply move on to another company that provides the same service.

Now, take a look at this example from Viddler:

If I’m a small business owner, I immediately know that the Business plan is the best fit.

And while I’ll probably do more research before making a final decision, I’m already aware that I don’t even need to worry about the Pro or Enterprise plans.

Create Plans Based on Your Buyer Personas

As Price Intelligently CEO Patrick Campbell tells us:

“Whether you’re pricing something as simple as a pencil or as complicated as a cloud storage platform, all pricing roads begin with the almighty buyer persona.”

The biggest problem with most pricing pages isn’t the page itself, but the plans that are featured on it.

Most companies create plans based on what they think their customers want.

Instead, your plans should be based on what you know your customers want, using your buyer personas as guidelines.

Salesforce is a company that nails this concept:

Take a look at the differences between each plan.

They understand that different target customers need different benefits. And they make sure to cater the features of their plans to the needs of each buyer persona.

In the end, they’re helping visitors choose the right plan for them.

If you need some assistance with creating your buyer personas, this guide on How to Develop a Target Persona is a great resource.

Takeaway: Help visitors identify the plan that is right for them as soon as possible to expedite a conversion.

3. Overcome Objections With a FAQ Section

For sales professionals, overcoming buyer objections is one of the most difficult parts of their job.

And since your pricing page serves as your digital sales rep, overcoming purchasing anxieties should be a top priority.

Including a FAQ section on the bottom of your pricing page is a great way to do this, although there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind while creating it.

  • Focus on Relevancy. Make sure you’re only including questions that are relevant to the plans being offered.
  • Stay Positive. Even if you’re answering a question about a shortcoming with your product/service, do your best to stay positive in your answer.
  • Show Your Brand’s Personality. The way you answer the questions in your FAQ section goes a long way in determining how a visitor perceives your brand.

HubSpot is a company that does a great job of all three of these things with their FAQ section:

4 Examples of High Converting Pricing Pages

Let’s take a look at four companies that set the standard for high converting pricing pages.

1. MailChimp

MailChimp’s pricing page is simple, customer outcome focused, and lets visitors know immediately which plan is the best fit.

And, once customers determine the right fit, they’re able to click ‘Learn More’ to go to another pricing page that’s designed with their specific buyer persona in mind.

2. Squarespace

Squarespace makes things as simple as possible, as they feature only two plans.

In addition to the simplicity and easy navigation of the page, the FAQ section does a great job overcoming purchase anxieties.

3. Freshdesk

Freshdesk uses a similar approach to MailChimp, as they help users immediately identify the best fit and give them the ability to find out more about the specific plan.

4. Wistia

Wistia’s pricing page does a great job helping visitors choose the right plan while keeping things simple.

They also feature a FAQ section at the bottom of the page that helps users understand more about how their plans work.

Don’t Forget to Test, Test, and Test Some More!

While the information and examples above can serve as a solid guideline for creating your pricing page, testing is necessary to maximize its effectiveness.

As KissMetrics contributor Zach Bulygo says:

“…you should be testing your own pricing page like crazy! Don’t just copy what other companies are doing. You need to be collecting your own data and testing your own pricing page.”

Here’s a few more ideas for what you can test.

  • Test pricing for your higher and lower end plans
  • Test the order and location of your highest profit plan
  • Test the number of plans you’re offering
  • Test colors, CTAs, and font size
  • Test different trust elements (quotes from testimonials, videos, etc.)

You know that your pricing page is one of the most important pages on your website.

If you want it to reach its conversion potential, you HAVE to test.

There’s just no way around it.

Create your pricing page using the elements and examples outlined above. Test. Test some more.

That’s the formula for a high converting pricing page.

If you’d like some help building strong copy and CTAs for your pricing page, EW has you covered. Book a call with our Content Strategist so we can learn more about your project!

express writers cta 2017

how to grow your email list

How to Grow Your Email List By Tying These 9 Killer List-Building Tactics into Your Content Marketing

Email list-building is everything to your online business.

Or, it should be.

In fact, if you’re interested in conversions and business growth in general, the number one thing you should be wondering about right now is how to grow your email list.

Why?

Email is almost universally used. It’s more popular than social media for communication, and it gets far more conversions than any other platform. It’s a direct line to your audience that works.

If these assertions surprise you, consider these stats:

According to AdWeek, Twitter click-through rates (CTR) get drastically worse the more followers you have. As an example, they shared that Mashable, a big name company with millions of followers, gets a CTR of just 0.11% on its tweets.

The CTR for Facebook ads isn’t much better, unless a figure like 0.07% looks promising to you.

Email, on the other hand, is an ace in the deck. Comparatively, it wipes the floor with social media when it comes down to CTR, conversions, social reach, and ROI.

email list-building tactics

How Email Pwns Social Media for Reach and Conversions

Here’s how the floor-wiping shakes out (or, if you’re into internet slang, here’s how email pwns social media):

2.6 billion people worldwide use email, while only 1.7 billion use Facebook, the largest social network.

Now, remember Facebook’s ad click-through rates (0.07%).

Hold that tiny number in your mind, and get a load of this:

Marketing email campaigns have a CTR of 3.3% and an open rate of about 20%. (Open rate = the likelihood the person will open the email in their personal inbox and peruse its contents.) That’s nearly 50x higher than Facebook’s average.

And, of course, another biggie is that email is number one for conversions – it drives them more than any other social channel.

Look at the difference in this table from an ExactTarget survey:

emailvssocial-conversions

It’s not rocket science. For reach and conversions, email > social media.

Email marketing leads to a bigger, opted-in, targeted audience, which leads to more reach, which leads to more conversions.

Or, to keep going with our math references, email list-building = more subscribers = a bigger targeted audience = even more reach = even more conversions.

Smart Insights sums it up this way:

The numbers speak for themselves. Email has power.

To drive home the point, OptinMonster gives you a zoomed-out picture of how email stacks up against Facebook and Twitter for general use. These numbers are based on an analysis of comprehensive stats from 2016:

Needless to say, you definitely should want a bigger list of email subscribers.

So, how do you leverage your content marketing to gain more subscribers and increase your content’s ROI?

Let’s explore how to grow your email list by tying in some content marketing tactics. That way, you can enjoy the potential email offers and make your content more valuable.

How to Grow Your Email List: 9 Tactics to Try in Your Content Marketing

Want to grow your email list? Of course you do. Draw on your content marketing to reel them in and build trust. Then, hit the ground running with some of these tactics.

1. Use Lead Magnets to Draw in Subscribers

Digital Marketer defines a lead magnet as “an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.”

That pretty much sums it up. A lead magnet is essentially a piece of content that you offer for free. The catch is the prospect has to give you their email address in order to get it/download it/access it/etc. That content piece could be anything. It might be a guide, an eBook, an email course, or a white paper.

The point is, you’re offering value in exchange for value.

Here are some top tips for making sure you’re offering lead magnets that people will want to hand over their details for.

Tips for Creating Good Lead Magnets

  • Be specific. Your lead magnet content needs to address a specific problem that a specific segment of your audience may have.
  • Provide a solution. Your lead magnet needs to give a valuable solution to the problem.
  • Forget length. Your lead magnet doesn’t have to be lengthy to be useful. In fact, Digital Marketer says longer-form content is often least likely to convert. Your eBook, for example, doesn’t have to be a novel – it can be 20 pages or less! The same goes for any other form of content. Think shorter.
  • Provide quick benefits. Within minutes of opening up your lead magnet and digesting the content, your prospect should immediately benefit. This can mean increased knowledge or insights, or some other gain. It shouldn’t take months, or even weeks. At the very most, it should take days.

Here’s a good lead magnet example (about lead magnets!) from OptinMonster. They chose to offer a cheat sheet:

When you download it, you get a printable PDF checklist divided into categories:

We just published this lead magnet, and it’s getting a whopping 72% conversion rate already on the landing page. Insider “secrets” do really well, especially if you’re sharing them with an audience that is warm and with people that know, like and trust you. This is a great example of providing “quick benefits.”

lead magnet screenshot

What Types of Lead Magnets Should You Use?

There is no single perfect lead magnet. The right type of content “bonus” you offer your readers depends on their preferences, your business, and other factors.

That said, here are some solid ideas for starters.

  • Cheat sheets – A cheat sheet gives your audience a list of steps to check off for a certain task. Whatever it is, they won’t have to remember the right steps in the right order. They can just look at your cheat sheet!
  • Checklists – A checklist is similar to a cheat sheet, but it’s a simpler one that’s generally shorter. Instead of steps, you might list the tools or resources needed for a task.
  • Comprehensive resource lists – Where do you get all the good stuff that helps you in your business on a daily basis? Think apps, websites, downloads, or lists where you’re compiling information to save the audience research time.
  • Guides – Guides go deeper than cheat sheets. They’re step-by-step, but they take time to carefully explain those steps in more detail. They provide the how and the why behind the process.
  • Prompts – Prompts are little snippets that can spark creativity. You can provide these to help your audience with idea generation for any topic.
  • Short eBooks – If you have an incredible benefit or solution to a problem you can write about with authority, a short eBook is a good format for it.
  • Tutorials – Show your audience how to do something cool and valuable. Offer them a video tutorial, or create a PDF document with illustrated steps.

2. Invest in Evergreen Content

Evergreen content stays fresh, sweet-smelling, and tasty for months or even years after you make it (unlike those leftovers that sat in your fridge for merely a week before going bad).

Your evergreen content can be a wonderful lead-in for growing your email subscribers. But first, you have to create it and promote it.

Ideally, your lead magnets should be evergreen content that has no expiration date. They should be useful not just this instant, but also in six weeks, in six months, and in a couple years.

This is content that keeps working hard for you.

3. Use CTAs on EVERY Relevant Blog Post

This is one of the tips I personally rely on like crazy. Once you have a lead magnet, you need to direct traffic to it. You can do this easily by including a CTA at the end of every related (or relevant) blog post.

Your CTAs should be simple, short, snappy, and make readers want to go do whatever you’re “calling” them to accomplish. Indeed, a commanding CTA is the extra push a reader might need to follow through.

Never write a blog post without including a matching call-to-action. Even if you’re not linking to a lead magnet (you can also link to a service page, for instance), it’s how you add ROI to your content. The authority and trust you’re building, and the value you’re providing with a good blog make it the perfect lead-in to ask the reader to go one step further.

Think of every blog post as a conversion tool, basically. You’re continually building up your relationship with your audience so they’ll become a lead. You’re nurturing trust.

But, the best way to turn blogs into conversion tools is to include that CTA tied to your lead magnet.

Look at how CoSchedule tied their blog post to their CTA and their lead magnet (an “evergreen content kit”).

Their blog post headline:

Their lead magnet and CTA telling you to get it (located right in the post):

4. Connect Your Lead Magnet and CTAs to a Specific Opt-In Landing Page

So, you created an evergreen lead magnet. You urged readers to go get your content for free through a call-to-action on a related blog. Now it’s time to connect all the dots.

Your lead magnet (and your lead magnet CTA) needs a corresponding landing page with a form. This is what the CTA points to. It sweeps readers away to a magical place where you collect their email addresses in exchange for the content.

This is far easier to do if you use email marketing software. If you don’t have it, get it – it’s a must.

5. Try Gated Content to Turn Blog Posts into Lead Magnets

Here’s another idea. Try gating some of your content to get email subscriptions.

This simply means that part of a blog post is hidden. For instance, 1/3 of the post is available to read, but when readers reach that limit, they’re blocked off from reading any further unless they enter their email address to “unlock” the content.

This is an easy tip because you can use content you already have. Just remember that gated content needs to be highly valuable, well-written, and informative in order to give the reader the expected payoff.

In other words, if the blog post is mediocre, your readers won’t be happy. (“I entered my email for this crap?” is the last thing you want them to utter after hitting “submit.”) Don’t gate just any content – gate some of your best, most awesome, in-depth content.

Remember, we’re trading value-for-value, here. The reader’s email is worth a lot to you, so return the favor.

When done right, you’ll give your audience the option to unlock a great blog post with lots of good insights, tips, or information. They’ll be scrambling to give you their details. This is how you turn a blog post into a lead magnet!

6. Create “Hub Pages” for Your Most-Blogged-About Topics

Another way to turn blog posts into lead magnets: Gather them together by topic on “hub pages,” as Help Scout calls them.

A hub page is just what it sounds like. It’s a hub for all of your best blog posts that fall under one topic.

A great example is Moz’s SEO Learning Center. On one page, they’ve compiled all of their articles about using SEO to boost your business.

For instance, if you want to browse all of their articles about link building, click on that topic. It’s all there:

This is all well and good, you may think, but how do you turn hub pages into lead magnets?

Add the CTA! Indeed, Moz has one on their hub page, nice and big and unmissable:

The CTA appeals to those who might be browsing this knowledge base of SEO information.

For your hub page CTA, you might want to include an opt-in form where visitors can enter their email address in return for updates on when you publish that type of content.

Not only are hub pages incredibly useful for your audience, they can also showcase your awesome blog posts that might otherwise be buried in your archives. Win-win!

7. Use CTAs in Your Guest Posts

Do you frequently guest post on different industry sites?

Depending on what the site allows, make sure you’re taking advantage of the extra platform and include a CTA with your post.

This doesn’t mean the actual content: no, rather, your author byline is the sweet spot for your CTA.

It can be as simple as a link back to your main site, or something more fancy. Here’s an example of mine on SiteProNews:

example guest author bio

Help Scout recommends going one step further. Link your CTA in your byline to a custom landing page just for that guest post. This makes a lot of sense if you’re posting somewhere with a higher profile and the potential for plenty of readers. On the landing page, welcome those readers, offer a freebie, and ask for their details in exchange. Done.

You’re already focused on creating high-quality guest posts to draw people back to your brand. Use these posts to intrigue new readers and get them to subscribe. Linking to a few key places that feature you and your services are a great place to start.

8. Make Sure Your CTAs Are Irresistible

There’s a lot of CTA talk in this guide, but what if your CTA-writing skills aren’t so great?

Well, you need to get better.

There’s lots of advice out there on how to write a dynamite CTA. However, to figure out what works best with your audience and your business, testing can help immensely.

For instance, HubSpot has a tool that lets you create two versions of the same CTA and test each one (called an A/B variation test). Experiment with different types, wording, and graphic elements to see which CTA comes out on top.

9. Bonus: Add Opt-In Forms and CTAs Wherever You Can Get Away With It

Once you optimize your content for gathering email subscriptions and growing your list, remember to stay creative with your asks.

Yes, write engaging CTAs, but don’t forget to give your audience as many chances to opt-in as possible. Don’t stop short of being annoying about it – seriously, sometimes you have to be annoying to get results. (Depending on how you look at it, annoying often only means persistent.)

On your site, experiment with CTA placement and opt-in forms.

For instance, look at how Kissmetrics uses a floating opt-in form. It’s on top of the left sidebar of every page, but it also floats alongside the main content as you scroll down.

It follows you, so you’re sure to see it wherever you are on their site. It’s unobtrusive, but it’s still right there, so if you decide you want to sign up, it’s no problem. (And that’s what they’re banking on.)

Similarly, don’t be afraid of pop-ups, either. You may be dismissive of them, citing “annoying” as your reasoning. Meanwhile, other marketers are disagreeing with you, saying, “No, effective.”

The Crazy Egg blog presents a whole mound of stats that back that up in this post. One example: A craft blogger tested out two methods for opting-in. One was a sidebar form, the other was a pop-up. Guess which one earned 1,375% more subscribers?

Do I need to say it?

Yep, it was the pop-up.

Definitely try adding these simple ways to opt-in on your blog pages and other content pages. See what happens.

So, You’ve Got People Subscribing…

Once you starting building your email list, you’ll start seeing the benefits. However, you still need to work to keep your subscribers around after the fact. You don’t want them deleting your emails without reading them, or hitting “unsubscribe.”

To keep them interested and engaged, especially the people who are ready to bounce, you need to keep trying.

Case Study: How to Re-Engage Your List and Revive “Dead” Subscribers

Sometimes, people stop engaging with your emails. They stop clicking, they stop reading, and they fail to even open them.

In this case, your reach through email ceases to be effective. So, how do you get those people back, so your emails can keep working how they’re supposed to?

There IS a way.

We know this one works because we’ve done it here at Express Writers with success.

This year, I decided to do some list cleanup. Our email list was engaging at really low rates, under 20% across 6,000 people. I decided to do something that would re-engage our subscribers and tell me who our active readers really were.

Here’s how it happened:

We created a lead magnet and sent it out to our email list.

Said lead magnet (“How to Write Social Media Posts”) was born because it was a “hot topic” I discovered from our Twitter chat (EW #ContentWritingChat) and questions I was getting about my course. I knew it was a useful subject our readers would value. But, some of them just weren’t seeing it.

So, after the first try, we decided to re-engage our list. We put the lead magnet up on our site, then told our email subscribers (again).

EW_leadmagnet

The results: That DAY, 62 people signed up and got the content! That’s huge – our list re-engaged, and we got to know who our engaged readers were.

This case study is proof of the old adage:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Similarly, if at first your email subscribers don’t take note of what you’re offering, repackage the offer and present it again.

It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it does.

Another tip for retaining and engaging your email list? Write good email marketing copy.

It’s Simple: Grow Your Email List, Grow Your Brand

This point bears repeating: Email is everything for online businesses. That is, only if you want more engagement, leads, and growth. (Who doesn’t want those things?)

But, don’t take my word for it – the stats speak for themselves.

2.7 billion people use email. 91% use it daily. 77% prefer email when it comes to receiving permission-based promotional messages from businesses.

Even better? Email’s organic reach is gigantic as compared to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

This study from ReturnPath even calls email “the workhorse” and “the foundation” of any digital marketing program.

This is why learning how to grow your email list is so valuable. You can use email to do so much for your business, for your brand, and for your bottom line.

It’s time to hop on the email train and start implementing these techniques. Get going and tie gathering subscribers into your content marketing. Not only will your content become more valuable, you’ll entice your visitors and audience to become valuable leads. You’ll have a direct line to their personal inboxes, which they sanctioned.

That’s huge.

Great content with strong CTAs can work wonders to grow your email list.

If you need help getting there, let Express Writers handle it. Check out our monthly blog packages and email services!

express writers cta 2017

cmworld 2017 express writers

CMWorld 2017: 9 Top Attendance Takeaways & 3 Event Networking Tips (What I Learned as a First-Time CMWorld Attendee)

I’ve always wanted to go to CMWorld.

Like, since I started out 6 years ago in the industry.

If you know anything about me, you know that I started Express Writers back in 2011, at 20 years old, with $75: and through consistent content creation, I’ve been able to reach clients and grow to a team of over 40 writers, serving over 5,000 clients over the last 6 years. The sole marketing we do is content marketing. We are a realization of our services: literally, we ARE a content creation agency marketed and fueled by the content we create for our brand. This is done through my content on the Write Blog, my guest blogs on Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine Journal, and SiteProNews, to name a few. By now, we have over 4,000 organic keyword spots in Google.

So this year, I finally went and gathered in a crowd of people that were my kind – over 4,600 content creators and marketers, at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio.

I brought Hannah, the Content Director at Express Writers, to CMWorld with me.

The verdict?

We experienced a dynamite week at CMWorld.

I walked away with four potential new clients, three (maybe four) sponsors for my new course, AND some key lessons learned that I’ll be implementing for the good of my company and the web (seriously – I’m about to get a lot realer and create even better content in the days ahead – I’ve been strategizing and mapping since the moment I left).

Here’s a recap. Keep reading for 9 main session takeaways – simple, favorite takeaways – and 3 critical lessons I learned as a content marketer attending #CMWorld, about the event in general and how to network effectively.

cmworld 2017 express writers

CMWorld 2017 In Pictures

How fun is this? Our designer took the 30+ pictures I shot at the event with some of my favorite content marketing people, and made an infographic collage! Enjoy. 🙂

Experience #CMWorld 2017 in pictures: #infographic of event pictures via @ExpWritersClick To Tweet

cmworld 2017 express writers collage

Arriving in Cleveland September 5 for CMWorld 2017: Day 1

Tuesday, September 5, started off the event with an amazing networking night where each one of us 4,000+ marketers hung out together at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. I’d never been, and it was incredible – a beautiful venue.

Hannah, my Content Director at Express Writers, and I landed right at 6:55 pm. Hannah came from Albany, Oregon, and I came from Austin, Texas. The networking party was from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. We dropped our bags off at our hotel and got ready to network and party! We ended up at the event around 8:15.

The trolley left our hotel, Crowne Plaza, every 30 minutes. Which was awesome. We didn’t have to call an Uber or a taxi for the CMWorld events that happened close to our hotel. Content Marketing World had all the details covered – even a printout of where you were going ready to hand out at the hotel front lobby. In fact, CMWorld signs were EVERYWHERE. We saw cars sporting magnetic roof signs, like pizza delivery cars, for the event. Content Marketing Institute did an outstanding job on event marketing. Everything was set up to be extremely helpful for attendees, especially the new ones that weren’t sure where to go (me).

At the networking event Tuesday night, we had an amazing time. I actually got to personally shake hands with and hug my industry hero, Joe Pulizzi! Funny story: Hannah and I ended up escorting Joe Pulizzi for the CMI staff up the escalator, both of us on each side of him! I also met the amazing CMI staff, who I’d emailed and tweeted with years prior to this week. It’s great to make a connection through email and/or Twitter, but there’s nothing like hugging in real life. I crossed paths with a lot more people I’d tweeted or emailed. The opening night party was loads of fun.

9 Session Takeaways from CMWorld 2017: Joe Pulizzi, Jay Acunzo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & More

The CMWorld event, true to awesome form, comes complete with a CMWorld app. CMWorld 2017 is downloadable through the iTunes store. It was an amazing way to manage the 150+ sessions that occurred from Tuesday – Friday during the week of the conference. You’re free to scroll through the sessions, pick the ones you want to attend, and add them to your agenda. Incredibly smart and useful.

Here are some one/two-liner (some are longer) takeaways from the sessions I attended. Keep reading for some hugely critical tips I learned on networking for great results, too.

1. Joe Pulizzi, Welcome to the Content Marketing Revolution (Opening Keynote)

Favorite takeaway:

“You need a loyal and trusting audience. Traffic and shares are good: but without a loyal audience, nothing is possible.

9/10 marketers that are successful at content marketing, say that they focus on building an audience.”

Without a loyal audience, nothing is possible. @joepulizzi #CMWorldClick To Tweet

2. Linda Boff, GE, “Imagination at Work: Lessons in Storytelling from GE,” General Session Keynote

linda goff cmworld

Key takeaway:

“Stories are right under our noses—we just might need to change the lens every now and then. Content that tries to sell, doesn’t.”

Content that tries to sell, doesn't. @lindaboffClick To Tweet

3. Jay Acunzo, “Be the Exception: How Brilliant Marketers Find and Follow What Makes Their Stories Different in a World Full of Average Content,” General Session Keynote

Key takeaway:

Pay more attention to your customer than your industry, and your customer will pay more attention to you. @jayacunzo #CMWorldClick To Tweet

“Be exceptional. Spend your time doing truly remarkable work and building something worth subscribing to. Pay more attention to your customer than your industry, and your customer will pay more attention to you. What is your aspirational anchor? What is your intent for the future? What kind of hunger do you feel about work today… and what is your unfair advantage? Use these as both a filter for endless advice and your differentiator in your content.”

4. Michele Linn of CMI, Creating the Ultimate Content Marketing Team (45-Minute Session)

Favorite takeaway:

'Creatives with skills outside their specialty are highly marketable. Don't just hire a 'writer.'” @michelelinn #CMWorldClick To Tweet

michele linn cmworld

Michele mentioned that originally she’d thought about making the presentation about “roles,” then realized that every marketer she spoke to in researching her presentation topic had a different role title. Role titles didn’t matter as much as the skills and actual responsibilities. Michele also shared a great Cameron Conway quote: Behind every great content marketing effort, there’s always a driven, well-organized team.

5. Amanda Todorovich of Cleveland Clinic, The Inside Story of How Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials Drives Consistent Web Traffic and Builds an Audience (45-Minute Session)

Amanda, with the approval (and cheerleading) of the health clinic’s CMO, took the Cleveland Health Clinic’s online presence from zero traffic to an on-track goal of hitting 5 million hits per MONTH this October. They publish 15 blogs/day, and right now, the number one way they win new patients is through their content, with multiple blogs set up where they post content to. Way to go, Cleveland Health Clinic–and Amanda!

Amanda says: Look at your content AND your audience as an asset. She recommends dropping the stale monthly reports and reporting back when you see a change, improvement, follower movement–which could be a daily occurrence. Also, patience is key. It’s taken them years to build their tremendous presence and audience.

Look at your content AND your audience as an asset. -@amandatodo from Cleveland Health Clinic #CMWorldClick To Tweet

6. Garrett Moon of Coschedule, Going Beyond Content Marketing: Turning Traffic into Leads (45-Minute Session)

coschedule cmworld

This session by Garrett from CoSchedule held some great tips.

“Drive profitable customer action. Attract an audience that is excited to discover your product. What do your customers really care about? To get leads, you must understand your customer.

Focus on having a content core. Have one clear CTA message in your content, never two. Place them in the top and bottom. Use the HelloBar and package your content with value. Instead of just asking your readers to subscribe, give them something for free that’s of value along the way.

Goal setting and tracking is important. Understand how to measure your lead generation, and remember that different phases of business mean different goals.”

Find a topic that your customers care about and map it to an angle that provides value. @garrett_moon #CMWorldClick To Tweet

7. #AMA – ASKMEANYTHING – How Marketers Can Deliver Better Speeches and Presentations, with Cathy McPhillips, Donna Moritz, Scott Stratten, and Tamsen Webster (Lunch & Learn)

Favorite takeaway:

“Speaking can be deeply uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Passion trumps polish EVERY TIME.”

Passion trumps polish EVERY TIME. @tamadearClick To Tweet

8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Keynote – Hollywood, Media and How to Collaborate to Build Something Truly Great

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, film star and director, built hitrecord.org from scratch, a community of collaborators and work together to get paid for their creative skills (over $2.5 million has been paid out to their creatives).

joseph gordon levitt cmworld

Favorite takeaway:

Although Joseph’s speech was awesome, my favorite short-liner would have to be Joe Pulizzi clearing up what “content marketing” means to Joseph.

Joe Pulizzi (talking about what Joseph does): So what kind of marketing category does that fall into?

Joseph: Brand marketing.

Joe: Why not content marketing?

Joseph: Well, what is the difference between brand and content marketing?

Joe: Brand marketing is marketing that serves the brand. Content marketing is marketing that serves the audience.

Joseph: Okay, then, I guess I do content marketing.

#audienceapplause

9. Jay Baer, How to Get Promoted by Creating Less Content, Not More (45-Minute Session)

I apologize – this one isn’t going to be a one-liner takeaway.

I was inspired by this particular session by Jay Baer so much, that I’ll be writing a standalone blog on a guest blog platform just around what I took away from listening. This was a powerful wake-up speech that every content marketer should know about. Stop doing crap volume content – it’ll kill you, eventually. Here are a few key notes from the session.

First, Jay shared core statistics that are pretty crazy:

  • 76% of marketers plan to create more content than ever this year
  • Yet more than half of all content gets LESS THAN 4 social shares
  • And more than 75% earns no links

Being relevant to your audience is the hugest content need today. Content fails when it doesn’t matter enough to trade time for information.

jay baer cmworld

Jay identified a wonderful solution by building multiple personas. He introduced a “5x5x5 topic archaeology:” determine 5 key questions that must be answered for your audience to progress through the sales funnel. Create a persona for each stage of the funnel. 125 questions (5×3 stages of the funnel) will net you 60 questions. Then, you can figure out the content type to create to answer their questions. FAQ, blog, etc.

Think of creating consistent content shows. On your site; and in other places. Thematic content is key. Stop creating content randomly. Jay’s Social Pros podcast has ran for 7 years. Whiteboard Friday. With shows, you stop random nature of creating content. Your audience will tune in. Easier to test and optimize. Repurposing content is easier this way, too.

The most persuasive content is created by real people, not brands. The more content customers and fans you create, the less you have to create. More trust, less work.

Robots that can write well, WILL happen – they are happening now. In just a few months they could replace your job. Add the secret sauce of humanity to keep your job as a content marketer. Have a laser focus on relevance, trustworthiness, memorability…not volume.

Add the secret sauce of humanity to keep your job as a content marketer and stand out against the robots. @jaybaer #CMWorldClick To Tweet

3 Key Lessons I Learned From Successfully Networking and Attending CMWorld 2017

At CMWorld 2017, I walked away with several potential new clients and three, maybe four, course sponsors.

How did I make THAT happen?!

Let me be specific, so you don’t think these were just “leads:” we walked away with at least two new client relationships (brand new, direct emails and contact info exchanged, and “I will be hiring you” actually said to my staff member and I). We’re working on potentially two more of those, too.

With my course, I have meetings that I discussed and set from the conference floor with three executives that are definitely interested in sponsoring the course. Granted, when it comes to the course, these were people I have had connections with for years – yet I think meeting in person at CMWorld was a huge key to successful communication regarding it, and the trust factor just gets so much “realer” when you’re in person.

1. If You Want to Get a “Lead” That’s Worth Something, Don’t Pitch Cold. But, Look for Opportunities & Make Friends.

How interesting is this tip?

Dave, my client at Magnificent Marketing, who was at #CMWorld too, told me that pitching while at a party or doing dinner together just feels “slimey.”

I agree, but I think there’s a balance. The odds also seemed to be heavily in my favor to naturally find opportunities, since we were the lone content creation agency (everyone else was a consulting agency, marketer, SaaS creator, etc).

For example, I was standing in the middle of the Expo Hall (which is giant) and was talking to my friend, the Director of BuzzSumo, Steve Rayson. The minute I finished talking to him, two people came up to me. Turns out they led marketing at an agency, were looking for writers, and had read my badge while I was talking to Steve – “Express Writers.” They said they were in need of writers yesterday and we instantly exchanged information. This happened a couple times.

I think you should go prepared to pitch if you find someone that needs you, and you’re confident you can deliver. However, don’t just “pitch.” Look for the opportunity, make a friend, and then make the connection.

There was one booth there where the guy, an obviously seasoned and salty “salesperson,” walked up to me and tried to sell me on a webinar system I didn’t need. Within five minutes, he’d sent me a LinkedIn request with his calendar link to book a call.

That was a major, major turnoff. You’re at a content marketing event, where the theme was “audience comes first.” Never do what the overly-salesy sales guy did to me.

2. If You Have Prior Influencer Relationships Built Up, When You Finally Meet, It’s Dynamite & Big Things Can Happen.

This seriously applies to meeting influencers.

Seriously.

Don’t go expecting big things and try to meet influencers you’ve never, ever talked to before.

Why? First of all, they usually have a crowd around them. Second of all, the connection won’t be as amazing as a moment that goes… “aha! So good to meet you, finally!” It’ll be a much less impactful connection if you’re a complete stranger when you meet them at the event.

So I’ve been podcasting (the Write Podcast) since April 2016, and through that channel, I’ve been able to meet and build relationships with some amazing influencers in the industry. Same for a Twitter chat I run, #ContentWritingChat. Before my podcasting days, I’d already met a few of the influencers virtually through live events, tweeting, etc. Some of these connections went as far back as 2012. So, before I even planned on #CMWorld, I’d tweeted, emailed, and talked consistently with these amazing influencers.

When we met, it was DY-NA-MITE. Like, “let’s sit down and talk opportunities” dynamite. I had a sponsorship meeting booked and two in the works before I left the floor on Day 2. We hugged, took pictures, and the conversation flowed, too. It wasn’t one-sided with me “asking.” We were truly friends before I even got there. And the ask was easy–the influencer and I both knew it was in our favor.

3. CMWorld Is One of the “Easiest” Conferences With Short, Walk-In Sessions & Everything Set Up For You.

When I planned my trip to CMWorld, I was honestly worried how 150 sessions and 100 speakers would go. I thought I’d be completely drained – I’d been to another conference with 45-60 minute sessions back on back and was drained quickly.

The app made it extremely easy to pick my sessions. I didn’t even have to look for signs or go somewhere – I just looked at the app.

I found that CMWorld was structured so well that the sessions were short (some at 20 minutes long) and the longer sessions still allowed you to come and go very easily.

The come-and-go nature of the event, and the constantly open Main Expo Hall with a giant, comfortable lounge, was perfect. Seriously, desks and chairs were everywhere incase you needed to take a quick minute to catch up on work, and the entire convention center was rented out for us – AND the next-door hotel!

Over 4,000 attendees and you could still find a quiet corner to make or take a call. (Except for the Expo Hall when it was time for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s keynote. Forget even trying to walk through. It moved fast, though.)

In honesty, I attended less sessions than I thought I would, but the networking results were fantastic. I kept popping out early to go see who I could find at the Expo Hall, and then walking into other sessions.

The end result? I was engaged, happy, and the opposite of bored (what I would have felt if I was sitting in a session for more than an hour at a time).

Final Shoutout #1: Andy Crestodina Is An Influencer that Sets an Industry Example

One influencer that I made a new relationship with at CMWorld consistently stood out for his helpfulness, kindness, and all-around awesomeness – to me and everyone around me. Andy Crestodina.

There are a lot of amazing, helpful, kind people in content marketing, but Andy is hard to describe because of how much he goes above and beyond. I was thoroughly amazed and inspired by Andy’s above-average caring nature as a content marketing expert and influencer.

Here’s why.

We were standing in the expo hall. I had just met him face-to-face, and was telling him how much I enjoyed the book that he mailed me, at no cost, with a handwritten note – before I went to the event. (Seriously, wasn’t that nice?) I told him “so sorry I missed your session today! I ended up going to another.” Do you know what Andy said? “Skype me. Or catch me later. And I’ll give you the whole talk. It was short. I don’t want you to miss it. So I’ll give it personally to you if you want. Just let me know.”

Then, he texted me later on the second full day of the event, and got me into an amazing event hosted by Ivana of DIYMarketers.

Seriously! What influencer does that?! Content marketing has heroes. That’s all I’m going to say.

Final Shoutout #2: Thank You, Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose, & the CMI Team!

I was honored to walk out with a handsigned copy of the newest book from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. This one will be on my bedstand table for a while.

joe pulizzi signed book

Thank you, thank you Content Marketing Institute for a wonderful event!

For this content marketer, it was an incredible experience. I will be back!

content strategy course cta

how to sell your clients

How to Convince Your Clients to Buy Better Content

So, you’ve got clients.

They’re buying content and are, at the very least, satisfied with your services.

But there’s a problem.

While you’re getting clients to purchase, the content they’re buying is always of the general variety. The type of stuff where the margins are low and the stress is high.

You and your staff are constantly grinding out huge quantities of content.

Your writers are getting burnt out, you’re getting burnt out, and you may even be wondering if all the stress is worth it.

And while this is a scenario that plays out for agencies around the world, I want you to know that it’s possible to turn things around.

It’s possible to go from an agency grinding out low margin content to one that consistently earns content orders with high margins and happy clients.

How do I know it’s possible?

Because it’s exactly what we’ve done at Express Writers.

And I’m going to show you the strategies we used to do it.

how to convince your clients to sell on better copy

How to Sell Your Clients on Buying Better Content (Higher Level Experts, Higher Spend)

1. Provide Immediate Value

One of the most difficult aspects of selling content to clients is the fact that, no matter how good your content is, a long term approach is necessary to maximize success.

Unfortunately, not too many businesses have the patience to commit to a long term marketing strategy.

Your clients want value in the short term AND long term. But how can you accomplish both?

As HubSpot contributor Karla Cook points out about providing immediate value,

“Nobody is going to invest additional resources in your agency until you’ve proven that you can deliver tangible results for their business. To set yourself up for a long and mutually beneficial relationship with a client, you should focus on providing quick wins as soon as possible.”

But how exactly are you supposed to prove that you can deliver tangible results and quick wins if your clients are ordering general content?

Well, at EW, we do it by offering free content strategy sessions.

Anyone, from business owners and agencies to entrepreneurs and bloggers, have the opportunity to book a call with our Content Strategist.  

 

Talk to Us Page

Our Talk to Us Page

When they do, clients receive:

  1. Advice on the direction their content strategy should take
  2. Assistance identifying realistic goals for their content
  3. Answers to their content related questions
  4. Guidance on what type of content will help them achieve their goals

And not only does this session provide immediate value and a ‘quick win’ for the client, but it helps cultivate the trust necessary to develop a long term relationship.

If you’d like some other ideas for providing immediate value to your clients, check out Tim Dearlove’s guide on How to Develop a Quick Win Approach for New Client Relationships.

Takeaway: Provide your clients with ‘quick wins’ that will make them more apt to invest in better content.

2. Help Clients Accomplish Current Goals and Work to Build Bigger Goals

When a potential client comes to you to buy content, they’re likely to be at one of the following stages:

  1. Beginner to Content Marketing. This client has recently become convinced that content marketing can yield real results for their business and are ready to give it a go. It’s likely, however, that they don’t really know how or where to get started.
  2. Semi-Experienced. This client has been blogging for a few months but is getting frustrated at a lack of results. They know content marketing can work, they just don’t know how to make it work.
  3. Experienced. This client has been participating in content marketing for over a year and knows exactly what they want. They’re looking to free up time in-house by outsourcing their content to capable writers.

Knowing that these are the types of clients that you’re going to be dealing with, it’s important to know how to handle each situation for the benefit of both sides.

Because, as we’ve already identified, nobody is going to invest additional resources unless you’ve already proven to them that you can deliver tangible results.

But there’s also another element to this. As the authors of Marketing Metrics tell us,

“The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%.”

Image Source

With this information, we can conclude that the best way to sell better content to clients is to first turn them into a customer and help them accomplish their initial goals.

At EW, we do this by making sure that we understand their current goals and only offer content that helps them accomplish those goals.

Let’s take a look at how we might do this when encountering a beginner to content marketing:

1. Set Them Up On a Call With Our Content Strategist. We’ll discuss their goals as it relates to content and provide suggestions for a strategy that can help them accomplish those goals.

2. Talk to Them About the Types of Content We Offer That Can Help. We’ll continue communicating with them after the call, via email or live chat, and identify the types of content we offer that can help. For example, if they’re looking to use content to build an email list, we might point them towards an ebook that can be used as a ‘freebie’ on opt-in forms.

3. Continue Offering Support as Needed. We’ll continue offering our support and suggesting content services that are relevant to their goals.

As this relationship continues, and they begin to work their way towards their goals, they start to see us as a partner rather than a business that’s selling something to them.

And, at this point, we’re now in prime position to help them identify bigger goals that allow them to further scale their business through content marketing (which therefore leads to us being able to offer better content to help them accomplish those new goals).

While we may take a similar approach with semi-experienced and experienced clients, they’re much more apt to have goals that require better content in order to accomplish them.

So, if their goal would be to generate more organic traffic, our content strategist may identify that accomplishing it means consistently publishing expert level blogs.

And, as our relationship grows and bigger goals are identified, accomplishing them may mean moving from expert level to authority level content.

Takeaway: Focus on helping your clients accomplish their current goals first and, as time goes on, help them identify bigger goals that require better content.

3. Offer Social Proof & Present Case Studies

At this point, the strategies outlined have been focused on a long term approach.

And while it’s important to understand that developing long term relationships is key, offering social proof is a strategy that can expedite the process.

Let’s revisit Karla Cook’s quote from earlier where she mentioned,

Nobody is going to invest additional resources in your agency until you’ve proven that you can deliver tangible results for their business.”

While this is true, social proof presents an opportunity for you to prove that you can deliver tangible results for their business without actually doing it for their business.

Research shows that people are influenced by similar people.

So, if you’re able to prove to potential clients that other, similar people, have had a successful experience with your brand, you’ve now proven that you can do it for their business as well.

At EW, we provide social proof two ways. The first is through testimonials from people that are similar to our target clients:

Social Proof express writers

When they see the success we’ve had with other similar agencies and businesses, they come to us with a ‘I want what they got’ mentality.

And, since our most successful clients generally order expert content, it puts us in a position to offer better content from the start.

The second way we provide social proof is through a case study of our own business.

Since our target client is agencies that need content for clients or their own site, and we’re an agency ourselves, they’re able to relate to our story about how we used high-level content to build Express Writers.

And, in addition to our own story, we feature case studies of other agencies that we’ve helped.

For example, take a look at our case study with Marketing Labs:

Case Study Marketing Labs

This type of social proof, from an agency similar to our target client, helps us prove that we can help other agencies achieve the same results.

Takeaway: Once you’ve helped other clients achieve their goals with high level content, use case studies and testimonials for social proof to convince new clients that you can do the same for them.

Focus on Building Long Term Relationships

If you want to convince your clients to buy better content, it starts with a focus on building relationships first.

Position yourself as a partner that’s helping them achieve their goals instead of a convenient business where they can make a one-stop purchase.

At the end of the day, that’s the key to selling better, high margin content.

If you’re an agency that would like help creating high level content for your clients, get in touch with our Agency Specialist. We’ve helped dozens of agencies increase their revenue and would love to do the same for you.

what not to do in your content marketing

What Not to Do in Your Content Marketing: 4 Things that Turn Your Audience Off, Big-time

As a good marketer, you know by now that not all content marketing tactics are effective.

Take that a step further…

Did you know that some very specific so-called content marketing techniques can flip the switch for your audience – turning them off instead of flipping them onto you and your brand?

You could be driving away customers without knowing it.

[insert audible groans for added effect]

Things like content fatigue, selling too much, and focusing on you versus the buyer are all problems.

The good news?

If you’re guilty of these sins, you can nip them in the bud.

And if you do that, you’ll see more interest in your content and fewer crickets chirping. That equals more ROI, which is always what we’re striving for at the end of the day.

However, the problem with content marketing mistakes? They’re too easy to make. So, how do you avoid them? What should you do instead? Stick with me and I’ll share it all.

don't do this what not to do in your content marketing

What Not to Do In Your Content Marketing: Avoid These 4 Rookie Mistakes & Keep Your Audience Interested

These mistakes are notorious for making readers’ eyes glaze over. They’ll not only get bored – they may even get irritated with you.

bored

If you want to engage your audience and make them trust you, do not, under any circumstances, commit these four errors.

1. Selling, Selling, Selling

Of course you want to pad your bottom line. Your business is your living – if you’re not making money, you don’t have a business at all.

The problems start popping up when you forget the main definition of content marketing. It’s customer-oriented, not sales-oriented.

The reason content marketing works in the first place is that we focus on providing value to the audience. It means the content is natural and useful. The sales come as a result of the relationships you build and the authority you establish, not the other way around.

If you try to sell first and foremost, your audience will see right through it.

Nobody trusts a salesman, and trust is the number one thing you’re trying to build with content.

bad_salesman

Don’t be like this guy.

Bottom line: If you focus on selling first, you’re not engaging in the prescribed, proven content marketing formula. As such, you won’t see the returns or stable, long-term success.

2. Being Self-Focused vs. Customer-Focused

It’s great to hone your business goals and measure your success, but it’s not-so-great to foster the same self-interest in your content.

Content that caters to your interests as a business owner will more than likely fail to hit the bullseye for your audience.

Why? Think about it: Your audience has wants and needs that differ from yours.

That’s why they’re your audience, not your competitors or peers. They’re in their own class. Treat them as such when you’re offering content.

You need to write for them. Don’t do the opposite – don’t write what interests you and try to find an audience as an afterthought. Your customers need to be in your mind from the very beginning.

Or, as Forbes puts it, “The right content for the wrong person might as well be the wrong content.”

3. Believing That More Is More

Maybe you know how to write for your audience. Maybe you understand them to some degree. Despite this, you may be committing another content sin: Inundating your readers with content.

This scenario usually looks the same. You think more content equals more exposure. You believe if you post tons of content, you’ll hook more people through the various lures you’re tossing into the Google waters. You think you’ll build your authority more quickly and attain your goals faster.

No. Nope. Not a chance.

OptinMonster says that a flood of content will work initially, but not over time. You’ll get some traffic, but only at first. When people read your mediocre posts and see that you have hordes of them, you just won’t resonate. They’ll leave your site, and they won’t return.

Instead, it’s better to have regular, quality posts. Keep your blog updated, but don’t overdo it. A small, but steadily, growing cache of superb content is far better than an encyclopedia of average or below-average posts.

QuantityVsQualityContinuum

Image via Scoop.it

Plus, if you’re posting three or four times a day and bombarding people’s feeds, they’ll just get annoyed.

Annoying people is the last thing you want to do. Period.

4. Going Overboard with SEO

There’s something else that can annoy, frustrate, and turn off your readers.

It’s bad SEO.

What does bad SEO look like? You can spot it from a mile away. It reads terribly, like a machine wrote your post and not a human. It’s spammy and underhanded. You’re trying to get ahead the wrong way, and it’s obvious.

The two main culprits here are keyword stuffing and link stuffing.

Keyword stuffing happens when you jam in as many keywords as possible in your copy, thinking you’ll boost your ranking. Instead, you’re creating content that’s a headache to read and isn’t useful at all.

Here’s an example of keyword stuffing using the term “dog food”:

Always buy dog food made from high-quality ingredients. Dog food can be more expensive if you buy dog food that’s pricier, but your dog will be healthier with better dog food.

Link stuffing is similarly spammy and unnatural-looking. This is where you link to as many different websites as possible to build your clout. The problem is, it’s transparent what you’re trying to do, and it looks strange. Example:

Always buy dog food made from high-quality ingredients. Dog food can be more expensive if you buy dog food that’s pricier, but your dog will be healthier with better dog food.

If you overdo SEO, you are being underhanded. You’re ignoring quality and readability in favor of getting more traffic.

Or so you think. In reality, Google will dock you for excessive linking and keyword stuffing. That’s definitely an outcome you don’t want.

content-marketing-infographic

Image via Content Marketing Institute

Be Real, Authentic, Trustworthy, and Audience-Focused in Your Content Marketing

Want to avoid all these mistakes? Want an easy solution?

Focus on your audience.

Focus on authenticity.

Genuinely desire a relationship with your readers and your customers. Build that relationship.

This is how you appeal to the masses and let content marketing work for you, not against you.

[/cue epic end music & happy crowd cheers]

happy crowd

 

Need great content to fill your content marketing? At Express Writers, we create content that builds trust and engagement, positioning you for success. Get your content from a team that cares.

cta

popular bloggers in content marketing

35 Popular Bloggers in Content Marketing You Should Be Following

Blogging effectively, especially on the wide and wonderful industry of content marketing, is something of an art and a science wrapped into one package.

The people who get it right are the ones we love to see popping up on our feeds, RSS readers, and notifications.

We eagerly click through to take a dive into their brains, hoping we’ll absorb some of their know-how and panache in the process.

They’re interesting, insightful, creative, eye-opening, and informative.

Popular bloggers in content marketing at the top who produce amazing, consistent high quality advice on the regular are worth noting in particular. They freely share their experience and clout. They drop kernels of wisdom like breadcrumbs for us to follow.

Digesting their content daily or weekly will expand your knowledge base. It will open your eyes to the possibilities in the industry.

As such, I’ve compiled a list of popular bloggers that hit all these marks.

Discover, follow, learn, grow, and move forward – with a little helpful advice.

bloggers in content marketing

35 Popular Bloggers in Content Marketing to Watch: Invigorate Your Brain with Inspiration from the Experts

Have you been looking for fresh voices to add to your feed? Or, maybe you need some industry practical advice.

I’ve got just the list for you!

From beginner-level advice to the most advanced industry tips and tricks, these bloggers run the gamut from copywriters to social media marketers to industry influencers. Each one of them will give your brain something to chew on no matter where you’re at, or what you do, in the content marketing world.

Keep in mind – this list is is no particular order.

1. Steve Rayson & the BuzzSumo Team

Here’s the thing: I’ve seen many bloggers grow stagnant through time, but that is not true of the BuzzSumo team. I have not found a more epic staff of bloggers than BuzzSumo. Seriously. Steve Rayson, co-founder, recently “broke the interwebs” with this post just published this June: We Analyzed 100 Million Headlines. Here’s What We Learned (New Research).

buzzsumo

BuzzSumo’s friendly Sumo mascot. Another way they stand out is by custom artwork with every published blog, depicting this guy in action.

One thing that makes them stand out is the amount of data-based, statistical  research they do in the industry of content marketing. It helps all of us know what not to do – and what to do. BuzzSumo’s blog is a blog to watch, follow, absorb and read – weekly.

2. The Smart Blogger Team

If you need blogging and writing advice, Smart Blogger should be your first stop. Founded by Jon Morrow and headed up by Glen Long, the Managing Editor, the blog features a rotation of authors and engaging topics. Here’s a sampling: “Writer’s Block: 27 Ways to Crush It Forever,” “20 Rules for Writing So Crystal Clear Even Your Dumbest Relative Will Understand,” and “How to Be Unforgettable.”

3. Seth Godin

If you want a unique approach to marketing, turn to Seth Godin.

seth godin

One of the first bloggers that made it, and currently one of the most popular bloggers in the world, Seth is an industry thought leader, popular blogger, and best-selling author. He has an amazing record because of committing to one blog a day – some of them famously 1-2 sentences long. (His works include The Dip and All Marketers Are Liars.)

Seth’s blog is a compendium of fresh, out-of-the-box thinking about problems in marketing. His words will get your gears turning and your mind humming.

4. Copyblogger

Another authority on copywriting and content marketing is Copyblogger. Brian Clark, the founder, is a pioneer when it comes to blogging. The proof is in the pudding for these guys. They built their company from the ground-up using the techniques they teach. And, teach they do – they offer a free library of training material on top of fresh, informative blog posts.

Looking for great #ContentMarketing and #SocialMedia blogs to read? Check out this round-up from @ExpWriters!Click To Tweet

5. Sujan Patel

If you want to learn how to create effective, engaging content that works, Sujan Patel is your guy. He’s a top internet marketer, has founded multiple startups, and he blogs at major sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc., and HubSpot. He co-founded Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and speaks at hundreds of national and international marketing events. This guy is an expert with 13 years in the biz, and the mind of a hustler as well as content marketer. As a result, he’s one to listen to and learn from.

sujan patel

6. Mark Schaefer – {grow} blog

Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog is regularly cited as one of the top five business blogs worldwide. He’s a star of internet marketing and has the chops to prove it. He’s also a speaker and educator who enlightens the world about social media marketing. I had him on my podcast, and he’s also delightfully down-to-earth!

7. Convince and Convert by Jay Baer

If you want to understand how to make the customer experience in content a stand-out, read the Convince and Convert blog. Led by Jess Ostroff and internet pioneer Jay Baer, C&C accurately refers to themselves as a group of expert “counselors” who can guide you to content greatness. Content Marketing Institute even crowned them the #1 content marketing blog.

8. Jeff Goins

If you want to be a better writer in general, Jeff Goins is your guide.

jeff goins

He provides insights and advice from the writing life, including how to balance writing as creative work and as a job. He should know – he’s the author of five books, some of them best-sellers, and has a lot of gold nuggets for better writing and better copy.

9. Joe Pulizzi & Content Marketing Institute

Joe Pulizzi is a huge pioneer in this amazing industry. He founded Content Marketing Institute (which was acquired by UBM in 2016) in 2007, and more or less started the widespread use of the term “content marketing”.  You can read his column on CMI. The entire CMI team is awesome. They hold a Twitter chat, #CMWorld, at 11 AM CST on Tuesdays. A unique trademark they use is a widespread brand usage (down to the suits Joe wears on stage to speak) of the color orange.

meet-the-cmi-team-photos-from-cmworld-1-638

10. Jeff Bullas

Another big name in digital content marketing is Jeff Bullas – his success comes mostly because of how long-term and committed Jeff stayed at producing high-quality content. He started his site back in 2008 with a $10 investment, and today, he ranks as a top global influencer in the industry. His blog covers a whole spectrum of topics. Read about copywriting, business management, content marketing, social media marketing tips, and more. He’s a voice you should listen to – Forbes named him one of the “Top 20 Influencers of CMOs” in 2017.

11. CoSchedule

Content marketing requires extensive planning, and nobody knows that better than CoSchedule. Their blog, along with their platform, focuses on this piece of the puzzle. It provides timely, useful tips to help organize and plan your marketing strategies.

coschedule

12. Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is one of the most active, engaging influencers on this list of power bloggers and influencers, ranked as the #1 social media influencer in Houston year after year. Her constant interaction with everyone that comes her way impresses me – I’ve personally seen her interact with nearly every Facebook comment, tweet, and email I’ve sent her way. I don’t know how she does it all! If “engagement” is a key to success on social media (and I believe that it is), Madalyn is one of the best practitioners.

madalyn sklar

Madalyn blogs, hosts a podcast and Twitter chat with the same name, #TwitterSmarter, speaks, and teaches Twitter and social media strategies on her site. Catch her Twitter chat every Thursday at 1 PM EST, and hop on to her page on Facebook afterwards for an engaging live session she does with her Twitter guest host experts. And, you can listen to her talk Twitter strategies on my Write Podcast here.

13. Noah Kagan & OKDork

Noah Kagan is the founder of two multi-million dollar businesses, avid long-form content creator (read: he creates some truly epic, comprehensive stuff), author, and blogger at OKDork. He’s an all-around internet, content, and sales marketing guru. Read his awesome content at OKDork.com.

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14. Valeria Maltoni & Conversation Agent

Valeria Maltoni is a business strategist and in-demand thinker in the industry. She’s worked with everyone from Fast Company Magazine to Forbes and Business Week. Her blog, Conversation Agent, focuses on how to bust out of same-old, same-old thinking. That allows you to move into innovation for your brand strategy.

15. David Armano & Logic + Emotion

A respected digital marketer, David Armano focuses on marketing strategies that are “intensely social” and creative. His blog, Logic + Emotion, regularly features topics such as defining your brand’s values, how to remain relevant, and social media trends like armchair activism.

logic+emotion

16. Marc Meyer & Direct Marketing Observations

A digital and social media strategist, Marc Meyer serves up opinions and slices of the digital marketing scene on his blog, Direct Marketing Observations. This is the place to read discussions on what it takes to be interesting in a fast-paced, digital world, learn about the morphing intersection between pro sports and social media, and even take a Proust questionnaire.

17. Branding Strategy Insider

If you want to learn simple ways to take your branding to new heights, try Branding Strategy Insider. Along with tips, you’ll also see examples of successful brand storytelling, explorations of top companies’ brand weaknesses, and more fascinating insights.

18. Vertical Leap

Vertical Leap specializes in search marketing, but their blog covers so much more. Along with SEO how-tos and tips, they dig into analytics, marketing automation, big data, PPC ads, and more.

19. Darren Rowse & ProBlogger

Want to learn to be a better, more popular blogger? Start at ProBlogger, founded by Darren Rowse. You’ll learn how to pitch guest posts, how to increase traffic to your blog, and how to create Facebook groups to augment your platform, for starters. There’s a host of actionable tips and useful information here for the newbie or the expert.

20. Ann Handley & Marketing Profs

Marketing Profs is a knowledge headquarters for marketers of all stripes, founded by content marketing guru, author and speaker Ann Handley.

ann handley

Their “library,” in particular, doesn’t focus on one aspect of the industry, but rather goes for the whole hog. You’ll find articles on every topic under the sun. It’s a wonderful source of information and a go-to guide for practical advice.

21. Michael Brenner & Marketing Insider

Whether you’re interested in content marketing, social media marketing, or strategy, Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider has it covered. He regularly addresses trends and his take on them, including what to do (and what not to do) if you want to get somewhere with your business. He should know – he’s a well-known keynote speaker, author, and influencer in marketing.

22. Social Media Explorer

Stay on top of the social media marketing world with Social Media Explorer. The blog is on the cutting-edge of trends in the social networking world that you can leverage for the most growth potential. A smattering of sample topics includes “Is Twitter Doomed?,” “6 Ways to Harness the Power of Instagram Stories,” and “5 Stupid Myths About B2B Social Selling.”

socialmediaexplorer

23. TopRank Blog

Want marketing lessons, news, trends, and tips? TopRank Blog is a respected source for all four. In particular, their exploration of trending strategies and the state of the industry will help you keep humming on all four cylinders in this competitive content marketing world.

24. Adam Connell & Blogging Wizard

Another indispensable read for blogging and writing, Blogging Wizard will help with whatever ails you. Created by expert marketer and blogger Adam Connell, there are lots of tools, guides, tips, and WordPress hacks to make the most of your writing and the way you get it done.

adam connell

25. Social Media Examiner

If you want to learn the best ways to use social media for marketing, Social Media Examiner is the right reading material. All their articles have useful information and tips for boosting your prowess and presence on social.

26. DreamGrow Blog

For the beginner dipping their toe into the industry pool, reading up on the DreamGrow Blog is a good place to start. You’ll learn about Facebook ad campaigns, how to measure your ROI, and why some infographics get mega-shares and other sink into internet oblivion – plus more.

27. Conversion Sciences Blog

If you want more conversions, you need to read the Conversion Sciences Blog. Here you’ll find every facet of this huge content marketing topic broken down. From testing your conversion strategies to analyzing the data and making your pitches more persuasive, it’s all at your fingertips.

28. Neil Patel & Quick Sprout

A well-known and well-regarded name in content marketing is Neil Patel, though “well-regarded” might be an understatement. Along with co-founding KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg, he runs Quick Sprout and shares his vast marketing and entrepreneurial knowledge in the form of extensive, practical guides. He’s one of the greats in the content marketing industry.

29. HubSpot Blog

If you want a complete guide to inbound marketing, noted authority HubSpot has it. Their blog posts cover the gamut – from video marketing to blogging and branding, from public relations to mobile marketing. They don’t leave anything out.

30. Drew McLellan – Drew’s Marketing Minute

Drew McLellan is a well-regarded marketing guru. He’s appeared everywhere, including Entrepreneur, Business Week, the New York Times, and Fortune. On his blog, Drew’s Marketing Minute, he lends his wisdom and experience to a range of marketing topics, questions, and issues.

30. Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan is the CEO of Owner Media Group, a New York Times bestselling author, and a marketing expert. He’s a big-time influencer, speaker, teacher, and all-around authority. On his blog, he shares his expertise to help you build your own brand of success and growth.

31. The Content Strategist (Contently)

Brought to you by Contently, The Content Strategist is all about upping your content game. The blog focuses on how to improve your strategy and leverage your content so it makes a maximum impact. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to stay on the cutting-edge.

32. Jesse Wisnewski – The Copybot

Jesse Wisnewski of The Copybot shares knowledge, tips, and writing know-how. He describes what he shares in his writing as “lessons forged through hard-fought battles in the trenches of life and business.” That sounds pretty heavy, but his posts are just what he promises. This is essential writing advice. It touches on work life, content marketing, and how they all get mixed together.

Looking for some new #blogs to read? Check out this round-up of 35 amazing blogs via @ExpWriters!Click To Tweet

33. Econsultancy

Want updates and news on what’s happening in the marketing industry? Want to know how to approach changing consumer trends and new technology? You can find it on Econsultancy. Along with all that, they also feature spotlights on companies doing it right (think small businesses and start-ups). Plus, they do features on smart moves and missteps from the big guns (think Adidas, Amazon, and Facebook).

34. Influential Marketing Blog

If you want to stay on top of companies and brands who are innovating with their marketing strategy, follow Rohit Bhargava’s Influential Marketing Blog. He explores how companies like Amabrush (makers of a futuristic, automated toothbrush), Fender, KFC, and more are reaching the masses. He’s got the chops – he also teaches marketing classes at Georgetown University and has written five best-selling books on business.

35. Joanna Wiebe & Copyhackers

Joanna Wiebe is the co-founder of Copyhackers and a pioneer for conversion copywriting. In particular, she focuses on conversion copywriting and its power and potential. She’s 100% self-taught in the industry, so she comes from a grounded place that’s incredibly relatable. Read her posts and you’ll see they are witty, sharp, and insightful.

copyhackers

I had her on the Write Podcast for a fun, enlightening episode last year. Listen in here.

Add These Popular Bloggers to Your Daily Digest

In case you didn’t notice, there’s one thing all these high-profile blogs and popular bloggers have in common.

What is it?

Beyond providing timely information and guidance, they each have unique points of view. They each approach the marketing world from a different angle. They offer perspectives that are entirely their own.

So, maybe you find yourself in need of strategies or a fresh idea. Perhaps you need new insight, practical guidance, or some inspiration. If so, turn to the wealth of people sharing on the web. All these thought leaders, authorities, experts, influencers, go-getters, and gurus have something to offer.

You’re not alone in your endeavors. That’s a comforting thought when you’re hunched over your computer at 3 a.m., or stuck in meetings well past quitting time.

So, grab as much information and enlightenment as you can. As for what you do with it – that’s up to you.

If your content needs that extra push, too, we’ve got you covered. Check out our content creation solutions, customized to your brand and content need.