content marketing plan

The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Content Plan For Your Content Marketing

Benjamin Franklin once said,

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Mr. Franklin was a smart man.

In the world of content marketing, attempting to move forward without a plan is a recipe for disaster.

There are tens of thousands of stories about businesses that have heard content marketing works and decided to give it a try.

They create one or two 500-word blog posts a week, post them to their blog and social media pages for a few months, and hope for the best.

And then, after a little while, nothing happens. So they give up. They stop creating. They stop posting.

Why didn’t it work? Well, to use a metaphor, because they were shooting at a forest instead of a target.

To avoid falling into this trap, you need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

But how do you do this?

You do it by creating a bulletproof content marketing plan.

And this guide is going to help you do just that.

Let’s get started.

Interested in a fuller training course on content strategy? Check out my Content Strategy Certification course, launching soon!

content marketing plan guide

Why Do You Need a Content Marketing Plan?

Marketers that have a documented #contentmarketing plan have more success. @JuliaEMcCoy via @ExpWritersClick To Tweet

Take a look at this infographic from the team at Impact:

Content Strategy Infographic

As you can see, 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers are using content marketing.

But only 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

Not surprisingly, the percentage of B2B and B2C marketers that have documented strategies is almost identical to the percentage of marketers that say their strategy is extremely or very effective.

This isn’t a coincidence.

Having a documented plan is crucial to content marketing success.

The 6 Steps to Developing a Rock Solid Content Marketing Plan

You know you need a plan.

Now we’re going to show you how to develop one.

1. Know Your Goals and How to Measure Them

One of the most important aspects of developing a content marketing plan is to determine the actual goals that you’re trying to achieve through your efforts.

There are essentially five goals that content marketing can help you achieve:

  • Develop Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Your Website
  • Generating Sales Leads
  • Converting Leads into Customers
  • Improving Customer Retention and Driving Upsells

But knowing your goals isn’t enough.

You also need to know if what you’re doing is helping you get closer to reaching them.

Curata contributor Pawan Deshpande recently wrote a tremendous guide on content marketing analytics and metrics that can help you with this.

Deshpande uses a four-part framework, developed by Convince and Convert founder Jay Baer, for measurement.

Field-Guide-4-Types-of-Content-Mktg-Metrics

Measuring content marketing success, as one would imagine, can be difficult.

In most cases, it will require a fair amount of tools to cover the measurement of all of your identified goals.

For example, measuring website and blog metrics requires the use of Google Analytics.

For measuring downloads and form completions, you’d likely use a tool like HubSpot or Marketo.

For link clickthroughs on social media, Bitly is a popular tool.

Due to the comprehensive nature of content marketing measurement, it’d be silly to try to cover everything here.

Instead, I encourage you to check out Deshpande’s guide for more information.

2. Identify Your 1 Reader and Where You’ll Find Them

As you probably already know, marketing doesn’t work very well if you attempt to target several different audiences.

Instead, you need to identify exactly who you’re targeting and then find out the best place to target them with your content.

As CoSchedule contributor Ben Sailer mentions, there are three main reasons to define your target audience. They include:

Three Reasons to Define Your Target Audience

So you know you should target a specific audience with your content.

But how do you do it?

Daily Egg contributor Tommy Walker suggests that it includes two parts:

  1. Basic Demographics
  2. Psychographics

Walker recommends that you always start with basic demographics.

Age, location, gender, income, education, occupation, ethnicity, and marital status can all be valuable information here.

As you begin to identify these things, Walker suggests that you hone in on:

Daily Egg DemographicsAs he goes on to say,

“When deconstructing the market, focusing on a small core allows you to see what’s important to them, where they hang out – both offline and off – and what they’re exposed to. With that understanding, you can build a basic picture of their life, and flesh out content from there.”

Once you’ve deconstructed your core and secondary markers, psychographics helps give you an understanding of how to talk to your target market.

Personality, attitudes, values, interests, hobbies, lifestyle, and behavior are all important things to identify here.

The easiest way to do this is by taking a look at the social behavior of people that fit your basic demographics.

What do they share, tweet, pin, and like?

As you generate this information, you can begin to shape your content messaging in a way that resonates with the audience that you’ve identified.

Chart_Brand_Personality-main-1

Once you know the demographics and psychographics of your target audience, simply find out where those people are spending their time. And then publish your content there.

Avalaunch Media put together a fun infographic that identifies the personalities of users on different social media platforms that can help with this:

social-media-explained-cats-600x3433. Perform a Content Audit

Content audits are important for many reasons. They help determine a variety of things about your website, including:

Reasons for Performing a Content Audit

Moz contributor Everett Sizemore says that performing a thorough content audit of your website involves quite a few steps:

  • Crawling all indexable URLs. Screaming Frog’s free SEO Spider Tool is a great way to do this.
  • Gathering additional metrics. In addition to URL and on-page metrics, you’ll want to gather info on things like internal and external links, traffic, content uniqueness, etc.
  • Putting your information into an easily digestible dashboard. The optimal option for this step is Excel.
  • Understand your dashboard. Sizemore mentions that, “a good place to start would be to look for any content-related issues that might cause an algorithmic filter or manual penalty to be applied.”
  • Write up a report. This report should summarize the findings, provide recommendations, and examine next steps for improving the site’s search rankings.

While this process may seem a bit intensive, it’s necessary to ensure that your new content marketing plan is put together in a way that it can be successful.

What If You Don’t Already Have Content on Your Site?

If you don’t already have content to audit, you can perform a content audit of your competitors.

And while doing this is important, you don’t want to get caught up spending hours and hours mulling over every single detail of a competitor’s website and content.

Michael Ferrari of Rival IQ recommends that you use a few tools to make this process faster. They include:

  1. Screaming Frog’s Free SEO Spider Tool. This will give you the same information it would as if it was your own site.
  2. BuzzSumo. This tool will give you information about your competitor’s main content and how they’re performing on social platforms.
  3. Rival IQ. This tool allows you to view the top engaging content of multiple competitors at one time.

The goal of completing a content audit for your own website and those of your competitors is to be able to answer three main questions. They include:

3 Questions After Content Audit

When you’re able to answer these questions, you’ll be much better prepared to determine the type of content to include in your content marketing plan moving forward.

4. Generate Content Ideas

Coming up with content ideas is a major source of frustration for many marketers.

But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

KissMetrics put together a list of 101 ways to source content ideas that should give you plenty of ammunition to get started.

If you’re looking for tools to aid you in the process, Moz’s Keyword Explorer, Answer the Public, and BloomBerry are all great resources.

Moz’s Keyword Explorer

The Keyword Explorer from Moz is an amazing tool as it gives you up to 1,000 keyword suggestions based around a specific term or phrase.

Here’s a sneak peek of how it works if I was to type in the term ‘content marketing plan’:

Moz Keyword Explorer

Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a fun tool to use and can be an amazing resource for generating targeted topics for your content.

Here’s a look at the massive amount of topics generated from typing in a simple term like ‘baseball’:

answer the public

Bloomberry

Bloomberry is a tool developed by BuzzSumo that generates questions based on the keywords you type in.

The best part about this tool is that it scours the web for questions that people are already asking on social platforms like Quora.

Here’s an example of how it would work if I typed in the keyword ‘content marketing strategy’:

BloomBerry

With these tools and the resources that KissMetrics presents at your disposal, you shouldn’t have any problem coming up with plenty of topics for your content.

5. Know What Type of Content You Want to Create

Now that you’ve got a solid base for the topics and keywords you’re going to target, you’ll need to identify the type of content you want to create.

There are dozens of content formats to choose from:

Lists of Content Formats

Now it obviously wouldn’t be wise or even possible to create content in each and every format on this list.

Instead, you should utilize the information gathered from your target audience research and content audits to determine what will work best for you.

But what about making sure that the type of content you’re creating is actually accomplishing the goals you’ve laid out for your content marketing plan?

The One Home Run Per Quarter Strategy

If your goals are built around developing brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, generating sales leads, converting leads into customers, and improving customer retention, it goes without saying that you’ll need to create content that allows you to accomplish all of these things.

To do this, Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners advises that you go with the one home run per quarter strategy.

For Kessler, a home run can mean anything from a 65-page ebook to a 30-page white paper.

So long as it’s extremely useful and relevant to your target audience, and something that they actually want, you’re good to go.

As Kessler goes on to mention, home run content does three things:

Home Run Content

Once you’ve created this content, you can gate it by asking interested readers to provide their email address, and potentially other relevant information, in exchange for a free download.

Jason Miller, a senior manager of marketing at LinkedIn, did this with his massive ebook titled The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.

To download the ebook, potential readers had to provide a ton information that was then used to turn them into leads.

Ebook Download Info for LinkedIn

And judging by the fact that the ebook has been shared over 3,000 times and downloaded many more, potential readers had no problem making this exchange.

Repurposing Your Home Run Piece

The best part about creating home run content is that it can be repurposed in dozens of different ways and then used to fill out the rest of your content calendar.

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at the Altimeter Group, uses the turkey slice analogy for this process. As she says,

“I love using the turkey analogy…you start out with the turkey at Thanksgiving and that’s the main event, and then everybody knows that after Thanksgiving you’re eating turkey sandwiches, you have turkey on your salad, and maybe a little turkey hash. Journalists (and content creators) very quickly learn how to treat their stories and their sources like that turkey.”

So you’ve got your home run piece (which is the turkey served on Thanksgiving).

Now you can repurpose that home run piece into smaller pieces of content (using the leftover turkey for sandwiches, salads, and hash).

From the LinkedIn marketer’s guide, for example, Miller and his team were able to generate 50-60 smaller pieces of content that included everything from webinars and infographics to SlideShare decks and blog posts.

6. Create a Content Calendar

Now that you understand your target audience, have performed a content audit, and have plenty of ideas for content, creating an editorial calendar is the easy part.

While there are many different tools, such as CoSchedule, that can help you with this, you can also find plenty of free editorial calendar templates that will do the job just fine.

HubSpot offers a few easy-to-follow templates that look like this:

Editorial Calendar

The only downside is that you’ll have to fill out some information about yourself in order to get the free download.

Go Create Your Content Marketing Plan

You’ve got everything you need at this point.

Make the decision that this is going to be the year that your business dominates with content marketing.

Go.

Take action and get started with your content marketing plan today.

 

If you’d like some help with your content planning, our awesome team at Express Writers can point you in the right direction. We’re always happy to help businesses just like yours get on the right path to dominating with content.

fly high cta express writers

freelance copywriter

How a Freelance Copywriter Can Seriously Boost Your Content Marketing Campaign (And Save You Money)

88% of marketers are now engaging in some form of content marketing.

And why wouldn’t they?

Businesses across the globe have consistently proven just how beneficial a focus on producing content can be to driving revenue.

But while there are plenty of readily available resources and courses on content marketing, 60% of organizations still say that producing engaging content is a major challenge.

Another 57% say that they also have difficulty producing content consistently.

CMI Top Content Marketing Challenges

And if you think about it, this all makes sense.

After all, content marketing is hard.

You can’t just throw together a couple keyword stuffed articles a month and expect ROI from your efforts.

If you’re going to win with content marketing, you need to produce engaging content and you need to do it consistently.

But, other than hiring a large and expensive team of in-house marketers, how exactly are you supposed to do that?

The answer…personal, brand-fitted freelance copywriters.

freelance copywriter for content marketing

Why Freelance Copywriters for Your Content Marketing?

Well, for one, because they’ll save you tens of thousands of dollars.

While there are a lot of variables that go into the exact cost of hiring a content specialist, the team at InTouch Marketing estimated that it would come out to about $88,123/year.

Content Specialist Salary

But what about the cost of a highly skilled freelancer?

At EW, the price of blog content from one of our vetted freelance copywriters comes out to right around .10/word (that includes editing and formatting).

Since we know that companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month generate almost 3.5x more traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly posts, let’s assume you want to produce 16 posts per month.

And, since long form content generates a higher ranking in search results, let’s also assume that you want your posts to average about 1500 words.

Now let’s do some easy math:

16 Blog Posts x 12 Months = 192 Posts Per Year

1500 Words @ .10/word = $150/Post

$150 x 192 Posts = $28,800

versus:

$88,123 (Cost of In-House Content Marketer) – $28,800 (Cost of Freelancers) = $59,323

So, by hiring a team of freelance writers to handle a year’s worth of content, you’re saving approximately $60,000.

That’s a pretty convincing argument in and of itself.

And that’s without taking into consideration the time and resources that you would have to spend training an in-house staff.

But that’s not the only reason that hiring freelance writers is a good idea.

3 Case Studies Showing How Freelance Copywriters Can Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts

The other reason?

Because there are plenty of businesses that have proven that freelancers have the ability to seriously boost your content marketing campaign.

Let’s take a look at three examples.

1. Case Study: How Express Writers Uses Freelancers to Win Through Content

At Express Writers, we know a thing or two about working with freelancers.

Since launching the company in May 2011, I’ve worked with dozens of freelancers that I’ve personally vetted to help ensure the delivery of high quality work to our clients.

Without them, there’s very little chance that we’d be able to handle anywhere near the type of volume that we do today.

In addition to client work, I’ve also employed freelance copywriters to handle some ghostwriting for both the EW blog and a portion of the guest blogs that I do.

And why would I do that?

Because I know firsthand the type of ROI that can come from one impactful piece of content.

For us, the life cycle of a great piece of content looks like this:

content life cycle

This cycle played itself out after publishing one of my many guest blogs on SiteProNews. Let’s take a look at what went down.

Jan. 21, 2015: My guest blog, How to Create Shareable, Likeable and Organic Content, goes live on SiteProNews.

sitepronews2:25 PM on Jan. 21, 2015: We receive an email from a potential client who mentions that he is interested in our services after reading my guest blog.

sitepronews-lead-screenshot-

Jan. 26, 2015: After several email conversations over a five day period, the client decided to purchase our expert copy and content planning services. The combined price of the projects came out to over $5,000.

$5,000! All in just a five day span and from a single piece of great content.

That type of ROI, about 100x the investment, in that short amount of time is unheard of with almost any other marketing method.

And it’s exactly why I’ll be one of the first to tell you that a freelancer that can deliver great content is worth their weight in gold.

2. Case Study: How Zapier Uses Freelance Writers to Dominate Content Marketing

Zapier is another example of a company that uses freelance writers to win with content marketing.

The SaaS company earned over 600,000 users in just three years by using a combination of partner co-marketing and content marketing.

And while they do have a team of in-house content creators, a sizeable portion of their blog’s content is produced by freelance writers.

Jeremey Duvall, a freelance writer who also has a full-time job with Automattic, has written several successful articles for them.

His article about 10 Content Strategies to Rapidly Build a Larger Audience, for example, has generated over 1,000 shares to date.

Jeremey Duvall Zapier Freelancer

Duvall also wrote a chapter for Zapier’s massively successful guide to remote work.

Hiring Freelancers to Become In-House Team Members

Zapier’s head of marketing, Danny Schreiber, has said that the freelancers they’ve worked with are one of the first places they look when hiring new people.

Of the first three employees he hired for his marketing team,

“Two started freelancing – one for three months, another for six – before they were encouraged to apply to work at Zapier and then hired.”

And, as would be expected, having these existing relationships with the people Schreiber hired helped lower turnover rates while limiting the risk of bringing on new employees.

3. Case Study: How Neil Patel & Hiten Shah Used Freelancers to Build Two $1 Million+ SaaS Companies

Neil Patel and Hiten Shah are master marketers.

The duo have built Crazy Egg and KissMetrics into monster SaaS companies, as each company generates well over $100,000/month in revenue.

In an interview with Groove founder Alex Turnbull, Shah mentioned that their blog is their #1 channel for customer acquisition.

But when you take a look at the KissMetrics blog, you’ll quickly notice that a large majority of their writers are not employees of the company.

Instead, they’re a combination of guest bloggers and freelancers.

This strategy is what Patel himself calls the Neil Patel Method to Getting Great Blog Content.

Take a look at this article, written by freelance writer Alli Blum, for example.

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Writer

As you can see, the article has generated over 600 shares to date.

And here’s another one, written by freelance copywriter Sherice Jacob, that has received over 1,000 shares in less than a month.

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Copywriter

Patel and Shah realized that there is a tremendous amount of value in creating a blog that features high quality long-form content.

But they also realized that they didn’t need a huge team of expensive in-house content creators to make it happen.

And now, with the help of freelance writers and guest bloggers, they’ve built two of the most successful marketing blogs on the web.

Finding, Hiring, and Working With Freelance Copywriters

Finding quality freelancers can be tough.

Because, while there are a ton of freelancers out there, finding individuals who are responsible and talented isn’t the easiest task in the world.

Kathryn Aragon, former editor at Crazy Egg, offers four tips for doing so:

Editor Tips for Finding Freelancers

Other potential options include:

1. Utilize a copywriting agency, like EW, that vets freelancers for you.

2. Browse UpWork and Freelancer.com, which both offer a huge pool of freelancers looking for work.

Before you decide to reach out to your freelance candidate, successful freelance copywriter Barry Feldman recommends that you ask yourself a few questions:

  • What type of writer do I need? Know what type of work you’ll want the writer to handle.
  • Should I hire industry experts? They are generally more expensive but offer higher ROI.
  • How do I begin to know whom to contact for an interview? Review their portfolio and resume to ensure their experience fits your future expectations.

Hiring Freelancers

When making the hire, Feldman suggests that all agreements should include the following:

Freelancer Agreement

Working With Freelancers

I recently put together a business owner’s guide on how to work with blog writers that covers this topic extensively.

Use Freelancers to Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level

While finding, hiring, and working with freelance writers isn’t always an easy process, the three case studies above show that it’s certainly worth it.

If you’d like to outsource your content but don’t want to spend the time finding and hiring new freelancers, we have a team of vetted writers that can produce quality content for you.

Save time and money by getting in contact with us today.


fly cta express writers

 

content strategy certification

I’m Writing a Content Strategy Certification Course! What to Expect and When It’ll Launch

Seven years ago, I delved full-force, head-first, neck-deep into something I truly enjoyed doing.

I had a natural love for both “writing and the internet” – a writer by 12, and an entrepreneur by 16. I think I was born to be a content marketer. One year after I jumped into online writing, Express Writers was born. Through the last blur of a seven-year, full-time career in this industry, I’ve been hands-on in creating, producing, and training on internal content services that have answered a demand and fulfilled a need for our clients, with the help of an amazing remote team in my staff. To date, we’ve sold over $4 million worth of content services to over 5,000 clients.

And now, this May/June, I’m pouring out my heart, soul, energy, and 5 a.m. mornings into one channel: creating an ultimate industry course.

I’m calling it the content strategy certification course.

It’s targeted to the entrepreneur, freelancer, and agency staff member – and offers extremely practical advice on how to build content that worksfrom planning your keywords to publishing and analyzing – from a beginner level, all the way to advanced.

Content marketing has fueled my business the past 6 years. (If you didn’t know that, here’s a case study I wrote about that late last year.) Neil Patel wrote about my agency as an example of a content creation business that does what they say.

content strategy certification course

Why Am I Launching a Content Strategist Certification Course?

In the industry, here’s what I’ve come to realize:

1. Businesses today know they need content marketing more than ever.

Back when I was on the phones in 2011, I had to convince people why they needed it. Today, 89% of B2B marketers now invest in content marketing – and we see it. My staff and I have to “convince” on the “why content” question a lot less.

2. But, businesses don’t know what they need in content, or how to make their content marketing work well for them (read: ROI).

I think of great content marketing like a well-oiled, rotating water wheel. You have to show up daily and consistently put content out to get something back. If you have your process, people and a source of amazing content ideas down pat, success happens. (For me, content marketing produces 90%+ of my business leads.)

But getting there is such a struggle. What do you invest in, how often, where do you put it – and how do you know if it’ll net rankings (or brand awareness/traction – whichever goal you’re going for)? Wait – do you have a goal?

All of that is the meat of content strategy.

And if you don’t know strategy or have a working one implemented, your content marketing return on investment (ROI) is going to be much, much lower that it could be. The cool part: if you do know it, returns can be HUGE.

To date, I’ve created products instead of “knowledge.”

But it’s time to delve in, head first. Because I believe that knowledge is power.

Personally, my road to success has been self-carved, and self-created.

What I taught myself fuels my expertise.

And since the landing page for the course went out in early May, omgosh, I’ve gone so much more indepth than I said I would with the course content.

This course, when it’s done, will cover every aspect of content strategy as it applies to success (in revenue and results). Yes: the course is super practical.

This insane task will easily, definitely, be the best thing I’ve ever done in my industry.

I’ve considered renaming the course Ultimate Content Marketing Certification, because my students are going to learn everything in the fundamentals of brand content marketing.

I’ve even slated top experts to appear on video with me which will go in certain modules of the course to give my students that much more depth on the subject. Besides filming around 35–40 videos (you heard that right — but they’re short: 2–10 minutes each) for the lessons.

This week, I’ve put in days that start at 5 a.m. and end only when I crash in bed at 10 p.m.

Easily, you could start a content marketing agency after you take my course. Easily, assemble your own content team. Easily, teach your clients (or your boss’ clients) amazing content techniques that result in trackable ROI. Show them who to target, what to create, what to track, how to measure, how to update = for tangible, working, worthwhile content results.

My office whiteboard is a little messy these days, but that’s okay…

content strategist certification course outlining

Exploring the Content Marketing Ecosphere: How Does Content Strategy Fit In as An Integral Part?

Here’s a few crazy stats about this beautiful industry:

  • It’ll be worth $313 billion by 2019.
  • Billions of funding have been put into content marketing startups by now – VC investors realize the value of the industry and SaaS creators/entrepreneurs within it.
  • And 91% of B2B marketers that are “very committed to content marketing” see success (CMI).

That’s serious stuff right there.

But… only 61% of content marketers have a documented content strategy.

Yikes!

And out of the 89% of marketers that actually do content marketing, only 3% rate their content marketing as “very successful.”

Per the CMI study, here are those two stats in contrast. 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing:

cmi content marketing 2017

Yet only 3% rate it as extremely successful:

cmi content success

What causes the drop?

A lack of direction with content strategy.

OK, great – next logical question:

But what the heck is a content strategy?

Ah, great question.

It can be hard to even answer this one.

Because as Michele Linn of CMI said so aptly, your “editorial calendar is not a content strategy.”

The truth: content marketing without a solid content strategy is nothing. And a viable, content strategy is the arena, the action area of your content marketing.

Strategizing for and creating great content, publishing and managing the content that goes into your content marketing, is all a part of what goes into content strategy.

Here are the other moving parts and tasks that make up the whole of a great content strategy:

  • Knowing how to define your audience (and customer) persona, easily and clearly.
  • Being able to define your exact customer needs, and create content for their defined pain points.
  • Planning worthwhile topics that attract and hold the attention of your ideal customer
  • Being aware of two key directions your content focus should be in for definite return on content investment.
  • Discovery of the right keywords for your niche and brand that will result in ROI (finding them CAN be second nature once you know how)
  • Create a monthly editorial calendar (learn a few of my favorite, free / low-cost investment tools to use)
  • Focusing, mapping out, and creating content types worth your time
  • Pre-publication, knowing how to prep and optimize your content for SEO to make sure people Googling your keywords can find your content
  • If it’s for your clients, you’ll need to know how to set content expectations in terms of measurable ROI
  • Being able to measure the actual ROI of your content, adjust accordingly, and maintaining and updating your best posts for more results

Here is the core of what makes up a content strategy, painted in an easy-to-read Venn diagram style (you’ll see this again on my course page):

venn diagram content strategy julia

Why Should You Listen to Me Teach Content Strategy?

You could go to anyone, right? So why listen to me teach content strategy?

Here’s the thing.

The bones of this course were already written and taught by me three years ago – and have proven results in ROI.

In my agency, internally, I’ve trained effective Content Strategists that today deliver on services like content planning, keyword reports, and consultation.

We have an internal notebook that I created just for this role, and candidates in my team that progress to eligibility for the training (after client satisfaction rates are solidified, successful content writing has happened, editorial training, etc.), receive 1:1 mentoring and real-time critique from me after they take the training. The final step in the training has always been to create a fictional content strategy. If they pass, they’re golden – and clients love their work with the reports they get.

Here’s another thing.

The course is June is based on the training I wrote three years ago and update seasonally since – but it’s 10x better.

I’ve talked to my Strategists, analyzed the training myself, and realized we needed more. Videos, cheat sheets, shortcuts, and more tactics, knowledge, and strategy lessons.

So, the idea for the certification course was born.

The idea went bigger when I realized the continual need in the industry that I couldn’t just answer easily with a “product:” implementing a working, ROI-focused content strategy.

I think that giving brands and marketers the keys to the success of their own content will result in amazing things.

@JuliaEMcCoy on her upcoming #course Instead of just creating a 'product,' I decided to create a course for this industry need.Click To Tweet

When it launches in June, it will be one of the most up-to-date strategy courses in the industry. And you’ll be ready to start implementing immediately once you go through the materials, because I’ve created my course around actionable teaching that translates to skills you can take home today and start earning your customer’s love, trust and business with, or use to build and create amazing content for your own brand.

We’ve sold literally thousands of these products in the past 6 years, and the strategies have resulted in serious brand ROI. Last year, I even built and launched a new content level from the ground up to answer an industry need: and today, people are buying it – and experiencing online results from this level for their brand.

Everything at Express Writers, from products to staff roles, is a result of my “ear to the ground” attitude in the industry. I’m building, teaching, and creating based on real industry needs.

We’ve been our own guinea pigs, too. And what I test on us results in success – we’ve netted top 3 positions in Google for long-tail, low comp keywords by creating in-depth, visual and long-form content strategically around it.

OK, enough convincing.

Sign up at courses.expresswriters.com!

Tentative launch date for my content strategy certification course: early June, 2017.

Get notified when it comes out: sign up at courses.expresswriters.com.

I plan to certify my internal staff with the new course first during the launch week, and move to launching it to the public by mid-June, 2017. I’ll be offering two levels in the course, and one level is going to include a LOT of bonuses. I’m partnering up with some pretty cool SEO/content tools to make big things happen for my students!

Another plan of action we’re doing is certifying Tara Clapper, our Content Development Specialist (already a super-savvy content marketer) who will be ready to teach the course locally and certify for entire content-focused marketing agency offices. (That’s been a request of our team in the past.)

Get ready, world – content strategy is comin’ at ya!

– Julia
strategy course cta

yoda content marketing

Yoda, Content Marketing Inspirations From: How One of the Most Iconic Film Figures Can Inspire Our Content Marketing

May the 4th be with you!

It’s Star Wars Day!

What if I told you that one of the biggest marketing geniuses in the world was small, green, and featured copious amounts of ear hair?

Yoda, the beloved sage of the Star Wars series, is more than a source of infinite wisdom.

I’ll admit I’m a total fangirl of this amazing (*cough* best *cough*) character in the undying classic that is Star Wars, but today I’m here to share that Yoda is also one of the most profound examples of marketing genius anywhere in the world of film, content, or television and an inspiration for any content marketer.

How, you might ask, did Yoda achieve this iron-clad status as one of the most recognizable figures in the world? The answer is simple: through a series of intelligent, calculated marketing moves that can be applied to content marketing just as well as they can television and film. And I’m here on the blog ready to break it down today. Nerds, read on!

yoda content marketing inspirations

Inspirations from The Greatest Story Character: The History of Yoda

Known for his funky style of speaking and quiet yet wise presence, Yoda is one of the most beloved global figures in all of film. In fact, if you said the word “Yoda” to any person anywhere in the world, it’s likely that the person would at least be able to conjure an image of a small, wise green man wearing long robes.

This is no accident. Yoda is iconic because he’s been designed to be iconic. Throughout the last 40 or so years of his existence, the people behind Lucasfilm and Disney (the new owner of Lucasfilm) have groomed the little green guy to be unforgettable, viral, relatable, approachable, and highly quotable, all of which have led to his widespread popularity.

To understand why the character of Yoda is so genius, you first need to know exactly what’s gone into making Yoda who he is. Here’s a brief history of Yoda’s existence and appearance in the Star Wars movies: A ripe 900 years old, Yoda is a member of a mysterious species that nobody fully understands. Yoda serves as a Grand Master of the Jedi Order and has dedicated his life to teaching young Jedi the way of The Force.

Before the epic Battle of Endor takes place in the series, Yoda joined the Jedi Order and mastered lightsaber battle. After dedicating most of his first 100 years to studying with masters of the Order, Yoda became a master himself and began to pass on what he had learned to younger Jedi.

For the next 800 years, Yoda dedicated himself to training more than 20,000 Jedi to fight for good and live their lives on the Light Side. While it may not seem like there’s much marketing wisdom to be gained from a far-out story of a small green warrior, every piece of Yoda’s construction was deliberate, and it’s been one of the biggest things that has allowed Disney and Lucasfilm to enjoy shockingly high ROIs year after year.

A Timeline of Yoda’s Original Appearances

In constructing an 800-year storyline for our wee green friend, the Star Wars franchise secured dozens of appearance possibilities for all of their characters, Yoda especially. Yoda’s major appearances include the following (scroll past infographic for timeline + film clips):

yoda content marketing infographic

Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back: The Death Star has been destroyed, and Luke travels to Dagobah to train with the infamous Yoda, a renowned Jedi master. This is the first time audiences are introduced to Yoda and the episode in which his quirky yet wise personality is laid out.

Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi: The Empire is planning to use a Death Star to destroy the rebellion and Luke finally confronts his long-lost father, Darth Vader. Yoda dies, but not before proclaiming that Luke must face Darth Vader to become a fully recognized Jedi.

It is perhaps one of the saddest scenes in cinematic history:

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace: In this prequel, Yoda returns as a younger Jedi master. Set approximately 35 years before The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda foresees incredible danger in Anakin’s training as he leads the Council.

Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones: Broadcast in 2002, Yoda appears for the first time as a CGI character. In this episode, Yoda is the Master of the High Council and arrives just in time to save Anakin and Obi-Wan and defeat a former apprentice gone bad – Count Dooku – with his powerful (and astonishingly, almost hilariously, quick) lightsaber moves.

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith: In 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, Yoda pioneers the Jedi Council as they pursue the Sith Lord and helps guide Anakin when he has realistic visions that someone he loves will lose their life.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In 2003, Cartoon Network released an animated television series called Star Wars: The Clone Wars in which Yoda gets to work saving Jedi knights and protecting Coruscant from the Separatists.

Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles: A seven-part series that debuted in 2013, The Yoda Chronicles stars Yoda and follows the beloved Jedi through a series of adventures with his trusty Padawans.

Yoda Chronicles Screenshot

Yoda’s Subsequent Appearances in Film, Books, and Clothing

One of the greatest things Disney has done with the blockbuster Star Wars series is to release specific character films, several of which are predicted to star Yoda.

While Yoda didn’t appear in the most recent The Force Awakens, the number of times he has appeared in household and lifestyle products throughout the last several years is downright impressive.

It is amazing how accessible Yoda has become and how this character has been integrated into our daily lives. For example, you can:

The possibilities are truly endless. If you’d prefer to purchase a Yoda-themed toy that will teach you to use The Force from the comfort of your own home, you can buy a Yoda figurine from one of Disney’s many toy lines – a line for every film appearance Yoda has ever had.

The Genius of Star Wars Marketing

Despite the fact that the Star Wars Franchise was launched nearly 40 years ago, Disney purchased it for $4 billion back in 2012.

That’s a lot of dough.

The buyout ranked as the fourth largest in Disney history and, while many critics shook their heads at the thought of paying such an astounding price for an aging franchise, it’s clear that this move was one of marketing genius.

In a satisfying outcome that’s proved naysayers wrong, however, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm has been one of the most lucrative business deals in history.

Here’s why: immediately after the purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney began branching out from movie tickets, into things like action figures, and even special-run branded coffee creamers. Today, major makeup brand CoverGirl has even drawn upon the strong female leads in Star Wars and launched a Star Wars collection cosmetic line that allows makeup aficionados to choose sultry looks for the Dark Side or airy applications for The Light Side.

Covergirl Screenshot

While the Star Wars franchise has exploded in recent years, it didn’t take long after the merger for the cash to begin rolling in. In fact, just four days after Disney purchased the franchise, their shares were rising again and, since then, Disney stock has doubled in value.

One of the largest drivers of Disney’s insane success with Star Wars has been the introduction of upwards of 100 new Star Wars toys.

Since The Force Awakens debuted at the end of 2015, Disney’s Star Wars-themed toy sales (many of which were Yoda figurines and toys) raked in $2 billion, with Disney itself claiming a drool-worthy royalty rate of 15%. In addition to the success of its toy lines, Disney has also killed it with marketing tie-ins across a huge selection of industries. Brands like Pottery BarnAdidas, and even Lucky Charms have unleashed Star Wars-themed products.

Lucky Charms Screenshot

This example of dominating corporate synergy is a real spectacle, and it wouldn’t be possible without the popularity of Star Wars and its lovable cast of characters, including our favorite green sage, Yoda.

What Makes Yoda’s Character So Effective? 4 Key Reasons

Needless to say, none of this fame and fortune happened by accident.

Star Wars has always been very intentional about it’s marketing, and the creation of Yoda has been no exception.

@ExpWriters shares how the marketing of #Yoda wins (just in time for #StarWarsDay). Be inspired!Click To Tweet

yoda content marketing

1. An ideal, well-developed character

For a movie character to live long beyond its original appearance in the film, it needs to be great enough to dominate anywhere— even other forms of content in the future. Part of what makes Yoda’s character so durable is the fact that it is endlessly unique.

From his wonderfully odd syntax to his what-the-heck-is-that appearance, there’s nothing else quite like Yoda in the universe of film, and this is one of the reasons he’s remained such a favorite character. When you think of it this way, there’s no question that Star Wars nailed it when they created Yoda: in addition to being the ideal character for the franchise’s earlier films, Yoda has also adapted seamlessly into more modern content. Since his original inception, Yoda has expanded into virtually every type of content available, including, of course, social media –

Yoda has his own Twitter account @notrealyoda, with over 129,000 followers – to products like shoes, clothing, and even food.

yoda twitter

And wherever he is, we know Yoda by his outstanding characteristics: he’s never once lost his voice style (or shall we say, style of voice was never lost, once). Nor his wisdom, nor his greenness, nor his Buddha-like tranquility in expression. This is such a unique, well-developed, outstanding character, you simply can’t forget it once you’ve been in touch. Change your life, he will.

2. Accessibility

For anything to be long-lasting in the world of marketing, it needs to be accessible to customers. The reason that Yoda stands out as one of the best-loved characters in all of Star Wars is that he is endlessly accessible. Viewers can quote Yoda’s many lines and have used his likeness to create everything from fan videos to Yoda-themed cutting boards and baby hats. yoda baby hat

This accessibility is an essential component of all long-lasting content, and it’s worked especially well to turn Yoda into the recognizable brand he is today.

3. Humor

In addition to being accessible and owned almost entirely by viewers, Yoda is a character that lends himself easily to hilarity. This is evidenced by the thousands of Yoda-themed memes that currently exist online.

Over the last several years, Yoda has been used to demonstrate everything from a snarky sentence structure patrol boy to an example of what it takes to become a “digital marketing Jedi.”

Yoda Meme Screenshot

4. Likable and relatable

There’s a reason that Yoda claims a title as the 25th greatest movie character of all time, according to Empire magazine. Yoda is endlessly relatable, and it’s this trait that Star Wars viewers love so much about him. In movies as in content marketing, you can’t reinvent the wheel, and sometimes it’s wise to stick with the old standbys of relatable, exciting, lovable characters. Disney has done this by making Yoda a character that appeals to virtually all viewers.

Yoda: The Content Marketing Hero You Never Expected

While Star Wars aced it with many of their characters, none are as definitive and memorable as Yoda. Known for his funny syntax, infinite wisdom, and sick lightsaber moves, Yoda has won a spot in the hearts of Star Wars fans everywhere, and there’s no sign of this stopping anytime soon.

Thanks to Disney’s ongoing marketing genius, Yoda’s marketing prowess continues and the little green buddy keeps bringing in money, presence, and a loyal fandom for the company.

Yoda’s success wasn’t an accident, however. Lucasfilm and Disney built the character by employing a series of tried-and-true tactics that work in both film and content marketing. By creating a relatable, accessible, unique, and flexible structure, these iconic companies created a timeless movie character that has a few valuable things to teach us about good marketing. May the force be with you!

Express Writers Celebrates Star Wars Day (In Pictures)

star wars card

You can bet your socks that everyone in our remote office is a Star Wars fan. 😉 So, we’re contributing some office pictures of our Star Wars gear!

Here’s my shelf in the office where quite a few Star Wars characters have a home:

bookshelves

Tara, our Content Development Specialist, also has a desk full of characters:

tara star wars

Finally, here’s a group of us with Star Wars gear on for Star Wars day! 😉

happy star wars day express writers

Are you a Star Wars fan? Let us know in the comments! 😉

May the 4th be with you!


yoda cta

content marketing

10 Proven Ways to Create An Unforgettable Presence in Your Content Marketing

When it comes to content, nobody wants to be “decent.”

Decent is boring.

Unremarkable.

It doesn’t stand out.

When it comes to your content, you want to be much more colorful.

You want people to describe the material you write as exciting, unique, amazing, and memorable.

But how do you get from Point A to Point B?

The answer is simple:

When you learn what separates incredible content from decent content, and which tricks you can use to create more of the former, it’s easy to stand out as one of the most skilled content marketers on the web.

Here’s your step-by-step guide.

content marketing presence

The Boring Content Marketing Epidemic

There’s an epidemic going around, and few people are talking about it.

No, it’s not the bird flu or the dreaded selfie “duck face.”

Instead, it’s something much, much more serious. It’s boring content.

In a world where more than 2 million blog posts are published daily, it’s safe to say that easily 90% of them are duplicative, boring, and unoriginal. It’s safe to say that most of them are crap.

Cloned from other blogs, regurgitated from prominent sources, or modeled on the 30 other blogs already written on a topic, these posts don’t do much but clog up the web and make it harder for truly unique content to stand out.

In some ways, this isn’t even the fault of individual writers. Instead, it’s the curse of an entire industry, which sometimes focuses on things that are viral and flashy more than it does on things that are unique and relevant.

In other cases, the boring content epidemic is perpetuated by the fact that everyone can be a publisher today, and this leads to the web being flooded with material that’s poorly written, poorly researched, and not worth reading.

If you subject to this boring content epidemic, it’ll have a real and dramatic impact on your content marketing. Fortunately, this fate isn’t inevitable. When you commit yourself to avoiding boring content and shooting for something bigger and more lasting, you can succeed in being one of the few content marketers that manages to develop unique content people remember.

Why Epically Amazing Content Matters

I know what you’re thinking.

“Come on – epically amazing content? Isn’t that just showing off? Or unforgettably impossible?”

The answer is no.

Not by a long shot!

Today, it matters more than it ever has mattered for brands to be unique, creative, and standout.

Here’s why: today’s consumers don’t just want an earful. They’re not looking for flashy promises, empty content, or regurgitated thoughts. Instead, they want real value. They want originality, and they want excitement. In fact, they base their purchasing decisions on these things.

According to a recent NewsCred study, 62% of millennials report that their brand loyalty is directly related to the type and quality of content a brand produces.

When you consider that millennials have an annual spending power of about $200 billion annually, this quickly becomes an important statistic.

Today, it’s not enough to just churn out boring content so you have something, anything, online. Instead, you’ve got to dedicate yourself and your brand to creating truly EPIC content that supports brand loyalty, builds your reputation, and helps people remember your company the next time they need a good or service.

Epic content is the only way to do this, which is why it’s emerged as the content format of the present and the future.

What’s more, the role of content is continually growing, and effective digital communication is more essential today than it’s ever been before.

Here are a few facts to illustrate my point:

content marketing stats

78% of CMOs report that content marketing is the future of marketing. @JuliaEMcCoyClick To Tweet

Today, epic content is the only way to go for brands who truly want to make an impact on the web. Enough of this wishy-washy crud. Enough mediocre articles and blog posts. Enough low-paid, low-researched material that doesn’t do anything but clog up the search results.

In an environment where it’s harder than ever to earn attention online, the only way to succeed is by creating superb material that outshines everything else with its levels of quality and relevance.

The Benefits of Epic Content

The first and most obvious benefit of epic content is that it helps your brand stand out. While few people talk about boring content creators, everyone talks about content marketers who break the mold and do things nobody else is daring to do.

Here are a few of the other benefits of truly epic content:

  • It’ll earn you more online shares
  • It provides more actionable, relevant, exciting information for your followers
  • It lasts longer and remains valuable for longer than ordinary content
  • It helps people trust your company
  • It makes you stand out as a thought leader

Beyond that, brands that create epic content can rest easy knowing that their content creation efforts are worth something. When you’re not beating yourself against a wall, struggling to come up with boring topic after boring topic, and then being devastated when they don’t produce the results you’d hoped they would, content creation gets much easier and much more satisfying.

Unfortunately, creating content that’s consistently memorable can be tough, and many brands struggle to develop a formula for doing it.

5 Tips to Create Epically Awesome Content

“Epic” is a high standard, but it’s totally attainable. You just need to know where to start. Here are five steps to get you closer to the goal of unforgettable online material:

1. 10x Your Research

One thing that separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to online content is research.

Think about it: writing is easy enough, for a lot of people. Almost anyone can put together an average blog post.

Heck, a prolific writer can easily crank out more than 1,000 words an hour, so even long-form material isn’t that hard to create.

When you look at it that way, there’s really nothing stopping everyone out there from creating ultimate, long-form guides, right?

Wrong.

The standout factor that’s missing from most content on the modern web is accurate, in-depth research.

While writing a 5,000-word post might be easy enough, researching something, pulling unique stats, and investing the time and effort required to develop a post that’s informative and relevant is harder.

Much harder.

With this in mind, one of the best things you can do for the quality of your online content is to hone your research skills. While most people had some formal research training in high school or college, now is a great time to brush up. For example, do you know what makes a reputable source and what doesn’t? Do you know how to reference your sources in your online material?

Good research is a skill not everyone has, and it can truly make the difference between a cheap, crappy post and something with legs.

Develop a list of go-to sources and learn to dig deep. Don’t ever link to something that’s linking to something else. Instead, go the extra mile and find the original source and unique, valuable, rare information that will stand out in your material and make an impact on your readers.

Not only will this differentiate your content – it will also make you a stronger writer.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Mold With Unique Content Types

While the quality of your content is essential any time you’re going for EPIC, so, too, is its format.

Today, the world of content extends far past a blog post or article. Right now, the content marketers that stand out in this industry are creating a wide variety of content, from infographics to memes and videos. If you want to run with them, you need to start mastering these content types, as well.

For example, we created a “gifographic” once: What Are Gifographics & 10 Ways To Use Them in Your Visual Content

Check out the moving parts in this clip:

gifographic

Being creative with your content formats will net serious results. Here are a few ideas:

  • Facebook Live: Live streams on Facebook are getting billions of views now. Jump in while the trend is hot!
  • Twitter & Instagram quote cards: Perfect for sharing on social media and getting more traction from your content!
  • Infographics: To date, our most linked-to content are infographics. This is a major content investment, but the visual engagement stats make it worth it.
  • Blogs, web pages: Don’t forget your “anchor” content with an ongoing blog schedule and up-to-date, fresh web page writing.

In addition to standing out because they’re unique, these content types also stand out because they’re valuable, and the stats back that up.

Infographics, for example, are liked and shared on social media three times as often as any other type of content.

As if that weren’t enough, 14% of marketers were using live video last year, and 37% of content marketers report that visual marketing is the second most important form of content (after blogs) for their business.

With this in mind, consider creating infographics for your online presence. Not only are they a unique way to communicate information, but they can also help brand you as an informative company that goes the extra mile to deliver value and relevance to its readers

3. Structure Your Content Correctly

If you’re going to write content, you need to do it correctly. Instead of just slapping up a wall of words and expecting people to wade through it, structure your content so it’s as readable as possible.

Here are a few tips:

1) Use Headers And Subheaders. Headers and subheaders break up large bricks of text, and help guide readers through your material. For best results, make yours informative, succinct, and direct. Readers should know by looking at them what each section will teach them, and what they can expect to find within them. Keep in mind that exciting headers and subheaders will draw your readers through your content faster and more efficiently, so it’s in your best interest to make these as exciting as possible. After all, epic content doesn’t just happen here and there!

2) Break Up Long Paragraphs. Long paragraphs are alienating to readers, and can make it difficult for people to understand your meaning or your point. With this in mind, keep your paragraphs short – two to four sentences maximum. This makes your content easier for readers to skim and encourages them to read to the end.

3) Use Bulleted And Numbered Lists. Like short paragraphs and good subheadings, numbered lists and bullet points break large chunks of content into digestible bits and encourage viewers to read over them and find the information they need. Plus, they make your content more appealing to look at, which goes a long way toward making it epic.

4) Keep Your Sentences Short. Short sentences are easier to read. They make your content more inviting and help communicate your point more clearly. To take this one step further, don’t stop with just shortening your sentences: make the reading level of your content lower, as well. If it sounds like this is counterintuitive for epic content, think again. There’s a good deal of research that says online content performs best when it’s written between a seventh and eighth grade reading level.

4. Take Your Time With Content Creation

No matter how well you do everything else – from researching your content to formatting it – it’ll all be for naught if you rush the creation process. Here’s why: epic content isn’t an overnight process. Instead, it takes time. In the (slightly altered) words of Hemingway, “the first draft of anything is crap.” If you’re rushing through the writing process and publishing your first drafts, there’s virtually no chance they’ll stand out as truly epic.

That said, one big component of creating truly unique online material is to take the writing and creation process seriously, and give it the time it deserves.

Here’s a process to follow:

1) Write Your First Draft Without Stopping. It’s easy to self-edit when you create content. Instead of going back to change thoughts, alter spelling, and shift wording, though, write your first draft without stopping. The secret weapon of many successful writers, this process allows you to get into a flow state, where your thoughts are cohesive and developed, and it’s easy to move from one segment of the content to the next. While you don’t have to write fast, you should write consistently. After you finish your first draft, put it aside and don’t look at it for at least 6-12 hours.

2) Give Yourself 2-3 Rounds Of Editing. Once you’ve let your first draft “rest,” so to speak, you’ll want to give yourself ample time to complete 2-3 rounds of edits. Editing is by far the most time-consuming process of creating epic content, and allowing time for multiple passes will allow you to fine-tune the writing as much as possible. Depending on the length of the article and your personal editing process, this could mean leaving yourself a few days or even a few weeks.

3) Have Someone Else Read the Content. Even after you’ve gone through the content several times manually, having someone else look at it is critical. When you’ve written and edited content on your own, it can be easy to overlook simple mistakes in voice and tone, or to believe that the subject is clearer than it is. A third-party will be able to read for these things and can help make your content crisp and sharp, which will help it resonate with your audiences.

4) Publish With Visual Aides. Finally, it’s time to publish your content, but don’t hit that button just yet. Instead, take some time to dress your content up with helpful visuals. Things like screenshots, custom infographics, and images can go a long way to add some extra depth to your content and make it more appealing for readers. We’ve even created custom illustrations to 10x our visual aides, like this blog illustration with Princess Leia:

storytelling in web content

This will also help differentiate your content from everything else that’s out there and ensure you earn the views and traffic you deserve.

5. Find A Professional To Help You

By far one of the best things you can do to overhaul your content marketing is to partner with a team that cares about epically amazing content marketing rather than just creating content.

There are dozens of benefits to this.

Not only will this approach provide the guidance and direction you’ll need if you’re new to content marketing, but it will also give you a team of seasoned content professionals to bounce ideas off of and work closely with as you seek to flesh out your content strategy.

As if that weren’t enough, a team of content professionals can ensure that the blogs, articles, and other digital material you create are always high-quality and mindful of up-to-the-minute SEO and content marketing standards, which is nonnegotiable if you want to stand out online.

The Future is Bright For Your Content Marketing

Enough of so-so content that doesn’t go anywhere or do anything. Now is the era of epic content marketing, and it’s time to get on board.

By following these five tips and refining and perfecting your presence and content as you learn and evolve as a content marketer, you’ll stand out as a leader in content marketing.

So, what are you waiting for?

Break the mold of “decent” content and shock the web by showing your competitors and clients just what a difference epic content makes.

Need epic content? We specialize in that. Talk to our team today about your needs or browse the Content Shop.

art of copy express writers

contrarian content marketer

How to Not Be Repetitive & Redundant: 5 Unique Ways to Stand Out & Be a Contrarian Content Marketer

If you’ve spent any time in content marketing, you’ve probably already seen this phenomenon: most of the content out there is simply a copy of something else.

While this might seem odd, in an industry that’s so focused on individuality, relevance, and value, it’s true.

Much of the written material in our niche has gone stale.

  • Instead of being groundbreaking, it’s repetitive.
  • Instead of being fresh and exciting, all it does is place a slightly new spin on an old topic.

Copycat content doesn’t do anything to further the industry, and some would argue that content marketing is stagnating because of it.

Today, more than 90% of B2B companies use content marketing in their digital strategies.

But while many of these cloned blogs are produced to populate platforms with content at a high quality level, others are written by wannabe, beginning bloggers who think it’s easy to model after industry leaders and become one.

Fortunately, being a dull content marketer doesn’t have to be your fate – just so long as you know how to avoid it. Today, we’re talking about the power of contrarian content marketing and how you can use authenticity, strategy and controversy to be a standout marketer. Keep reading!

how to be a contrarian content marketer

Diving Into Contrarian Content Marketing: The Secret of Controversial Content

Contrarian simply means having a controversial or standout opinion. From Dictionary.com:

contrarian

The adjective sense fits what we’re talking about today: going against current practice.

Quick, answer this question:

True or false:

Creating controversial content is the last thing you want to do as a marketer.

While you might be inclined to stay safe and believe the answer is true, you’d be surprised to learn it’s false. Today, people don’t talk about things that are old and familiar. If you create another “10 Shocking Ways to do the Thing Everyone Already Knows How To Do” post, you’re not going to break the internet.

Nobody is going to go to their grave with the name of your blog post on their lips unless you develop a real knack for identifying controversial, interesting, legitimately useful topics your customers love.

Today, controversial content causes customers to sit up and take notice.

When people are piqued emotionally by something, whether it makes them feel awe-struck, angry, happy, or inspired, they’re much more willing to share it with their friends, initiate conversations around it on social media, and comment on it, which leads to a greater discussion around your topic.

This isn’t just speculation.

In fact, there’s been lots of research done on the power of emotional content to start conversations.

According to a 2014 Buffer study, there’s a significant correlation between the number of views a blog post gets, and the number of positive feelings (like interest, trust, anticipation, and joy) it evokes.

You don’t have to create purely positive content to reap these benefits, though. The same study shows emotionally complex content and surprising material both earn the same results.

Here are just a few benefits of controversial content:

1. More Traffic. People love being surprised, and controversial content can draw in far more views than a run-of-the-mill post. What’s more, once you create a surprising post, people will come back again and again to read it, boosting your views even further.

2. More Links. Surprising material goes viral, so it’s in your best interest to create it. When people link to your material and share it with their friends, they’ll start conversations and build a community around your content.

3. Shares. Be they on social or in an email, people will share controversial content at a higher rate than boring content. This can drive more traffic back to your site and increase the number of conversions you earn.

4. Comments. Comments are one thing virtually all bloggers want and few get. Because controversial content becomes a hotbed for comments, it’s a great way to start a dialogue around a new or unfamiliar topic and keep it fresh.

What does a content marketing strategy look like that includes contrarian content marketing? Let’s delve in.

Contrarian Content Marketing & The Recipe for an Anything-but-Ordinary Content Presence

In the world of content marketing, being ordinary is one of the worst things that can happen to a marketer.

In addition to annoying your readers, being ordinary makes it exceedingly easy to get lost in the sea of other voices, shifting from a place of prominence and notice to a prison of solitude and minimal traffic.

Luckily, creating truly unique content is possible, you just need to follow a formula.

Our content marketing has brought in over 98% of our clients and sales. Here’s what we do to stand out in content marketing. (For the full version, see our case study.)

contrarian content marketer 1

1. Creating A Ton of Consistent, In-Depth, Long-Form Content

Consistency wins – and long-form, in-depth content wins. In addition to the fact that long-form content ranks better than short-form content, it’s also harder to create, which means few people are doing it. If you want to zig while everyone else zags, dedicate yourself to writing super-exclusive guides or crafting five word compilations that will remain valuable long past their publish date. Trust me, it’s worth the extra work. We do it all the time – and results happen.

More on this subject: An Argument for Long-Form Content

And by “a ton,” I mean a ton. Here’s what our content publishing schedule looks like, per our case study – volume is around 40-45 unique posts a month:

express writers publishing

2. Building Effective, Highly-Engaged Communities

Today, even the best content is only as good as the community you’re building day by day and sharing it with. The more you share your content and engage with real people on your social platforms, and the harder you work to create communities, the better you’ll do in terms of traffic, rankings, and audience conversation.

My team and I have been able to build several communities from scratch: an ongoing podcast subscriber community with my Write Podcast, and one of my favorite communities ever (if I do say so myself), our Twitter chat that happens every Tuesday at 10 AM CST, #ContentWritingChat. Rachel, our social media manager, creates and posts Twitter chat recaps, and I create time-stamped show notes for each episode of my podcast.

Both of these communities necessitate (and create, user-generated-style) content that is posted to our site weekly. We have a dedicated site category, like a blog, linked under the Learn tab to present these sections. Here’s the Write Podcast recap section:

write podcast

And our lively, engaged Twitter chat recap section (bonus: our participants LOVE getting mentioned in these recaps). Rachel curates these by selecting the best tweets shared during the hour, handwriting headers and comments around the tweets, and creating a custom recap weekly:

#contentwritingchat section

3. A Firm Consistency to the Investment of Standing Out

The most important aspect of creating a unique online presence is developing a commitment to standing out. This will require time, money and a strategy, but it will be worth it.

Think about this the same way you would developing your personal style: if you wanted to be regarded as a monster of fashion, the last thing you’d do is wear the same jeans and t-shirts as everyone else. Instead, you’d swim upstream, try things other people weren’t trying, and take risks. This is exactly what you need to do with your content. When you develop a commitment to standing out, it becomes easier to break the mold. (Some of the best, highest-performing content I’ve written has had controversial titles or a firm opinion in the industry, like this one: Stop Selling, Start Helping.)

For another great example of content marketing, check out what WordStream does, which follows a simple (but not-so-simple) pattern of:

  • Create long-form content
  • Promote your content online
  • Commit to being different

5 Unique, Creative Tips for Developing Standout Content Marketing Ideas

Let’s face it: the content sea is 90% crap.

If you want to be a unique blogger, you first need to come up with unique, salient ideas that deviate from everything else that’s out there.

Luckily, this is easier than you might think. Here are your top five tips:

1. Dig Deeper Into Social & Mine for Topics

Social has long since been used as a tool for topic mining and research. Trending hashtags, content shared by influencers, and viral posts are all easy enough to find and, historically, have served as the bedrock upon which so many marketers base their content strategies.

If you want to stand out, though, you’ve got to go deeper.

This means using social platforms like Twitter and Facebook and spending some time each day doing a scan of what’s popular on these platforms and what’s missing. Feel free to use viral content as a jumping-off point here, just look at it differently.

It’s a great idea to see what your audience is already reading. From there, get ideas of how you can do content they already love, but better. Scroll through the social feeds of the people in your buyer persona. Don’t have a persona? Check out our guide here.

Instead of seeking to clone it, read it in search of what it doesn’t have. Is there a question left unanswered or a demographic left unconsidered? If so, jump on it and be the first in your industry to cover it.

2. Develop a Process for Qualification

When you’re on the hunt for the new and noteworthy, it’ll benefit you to create an elimination process to decide which topics are worth writing on, and which veer into the familiar a bit too much. Keep in mind that few brands can afford to be controversial all the time. Not only is that exhausting, but it’s very likely to push customers away and leave you reader-less.

That said, ask yourself these questions before deciding to cover a contrary topic in your industry:

  • Will It Be Shocking To My Target Audience? If you’re going to be controversial, you’ll still need to do it in a way that resonates with your target audience. If the topic isn’t interesting or useful to them, look for something else.
  • Is There More To The Story That You Can Flesh Out? If so, that’s a great place to start. In addition to taking a new approach, you can add details, insight, and perspective that nobody else in your industry offers. This is a fantastic way to carve out a spot for yourself as a leader with fresh ideas.
  • Is The Story Too One-Sided? If so, it’s a good time to strike. People crave perspective, and offering some material that delves into another side of the story, or a contrary viewpoint, is a fantastic way to appeal to your target audience and develop a reputation as a contrarian leader.
  • Is Your Perspective Unique? Even if the rest of your industry agrees with a consensus, you might have an experience or background that provides you with another viewpoint. If this is true, now is a great time to share it. A highly personal viewpoint can add depth to your company and help you snag more of the clients you deserve.

3. Get Visual

If you’re going to write content, long-form is the way to go. When it comes to content in general, though, visual material is becoming more and more in-demand. With this in mind, one of the best ways to stand out is to create custom infographics that visualize data.

In addition to requiring some extra leg work (again – most people won’t do this, which makes the field less crowded), infographics are ideal for an on-the-go audience and can help people synthesize complex ideas in simple ways.

4. Make it Intellectual

When it comes to controversial content, there are some things you don’t want to do. The primary thing is to be overly combative, rude, or crude. Don’t drag anyone else down to prove that you’re right, or be too diminishing to another brand or person.

Instead, seek to be civil, informed, and intellectual. That last part is critical. Today, people crave information, and backing your contrarian claims up with solid data, good information, and unique stats will help you stand out as a leader rather than a troll.

If you can, pull stats from your own experience or data. This will help back up your view and position you as a primary source for unique information.

5. Watch (Select) Influencers

Again, you don’t want to hang on to an influencer’s every move, and then copy it in your own content. This is just a slightly more fine-tuned version of creating copy content, albeit from a great source. You can, however, learn from influencers. After you find a few influencers you love in your industry, follow their content and watch what they’re doing differently. Are they using sources you’re not familiar with? Maybe they’re monitoring social media in a way that allows them to jump on hot new topics, or maybe they’re interacting with the community via platforms like Quora or chat boards in ways that allow them to pinpoint controversial topics and get there first. Whatever the case may be, you can learn a lot from following their lead.

3 Examples of Great Contrarian Content

To close this out, let’s look at a few examples of great contrarian content in its natural habitat:

1. Rand Fishkin’s “Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die” Video Post

In this epic post, Fishkin CALLS OUT mediocre content and proposes a shocking alternative: creating content that’s ten times better than anything else out there. The post earned over 9,000 shares and subsequently garnered dozens of offshoot posts by all kinds of marketers calling Rand their hero and making the new phrase, 10x content, an actual definition. Rand = won the internet.

2. Matt Cutts’ “The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging”

In 2014, a time when everyone was touting the virtues of guest blogging, Matt Cutts stuck a fork in it with this contrarian post. Complete with a shocking title and the indication that a brave new world cometh, this post earned 657 comments.

3. “Numbers Don’t Matter, Influence Does,” by Gary Vaynerchuk

When it comes to contrarian material, few would dispute that Gary Vaynerchuk is the master. This post lays waste to the importance people place on impressions and followers on social media, and insists that the impression a marketer leaves and the depth of the interactions he or she creates are drastically more important.

Bringing Contrarian Marketing Into Your Digital Strategy

Contrarian marketing is the one thing that can truly help your brand stand out and make a name for itself.

By incorporating these five tips into your digital strategy, you can develop a more unique content presence.

Time to stop floating on the digital sea of content crap. 😉

 

Visit our Content Shop to find contrarian content marketers and writers who can help you enjoy a truly unique online presence through standout content.

art of copy express writers

john deere and content marketing

Was John Deere the First Proponent of Content Marketing? The Story that Started in 1895

Quick: what do you think of when you hear John Deere?

If you answered “big green tractors,” you’re on the same page as most people.

If you answered “content marketing genius,” you’re privy to a rare secret.

The truth is that John Deere was nearly as good at content marketing as it was at tractors, and marketers looking for some inspiration on how to make their marketing strategies better need only to look backward about 120 years.

We’re here on the Write Blog today, sharing everything you wanted to know about this intriguing story. Read on to learn more!

john deere

John Deere: The Marketing Prowess You Probably Didn’t Know About

John Deere is a well-known, household-name farming equipment company that was originally founded in 1837. While the brand was well known within its community in the years between the 1830’s-90’s, John Deere took a big step in the late 1890’s that ultimately defined the trajectory of the brand: it started a news magazine.

This news magazine was called The Furrow, and it was meant to cater to farmers with “practical information devoted to the interests of better farming.”

Here is one of the earliest recorded images of The Furrow back in the 1890s:

john deere the furrow

The look evolved throughout the years, reaching an incredible peak in 1912, with over 4 million consumers avidly reading its pages. It’s still being published today, reaching about 2 million readers worldwide, in an ultimate testament to the power of incredible content. 

Could this be the longest form of content marketing that’s been around? It very well could be.

The magazine was distributed to customers at no charge, and the only sign that it came from a John Deere dealer was a small inscription on the cover that recounted that the magazine had been sent “with compliments of your John Deere Dealer.”

With the exception of the small inscription, however, there was virtually no indication that John Deere published the magazine. The company ran no ads, and the articles included within the little magazine didn’t focus on John Deere’s products. Instead, they covered topics ranging from how best to address various farming challenges to trends in the agricultural community as a whole.

In 1912, at the peak of The Furrow’s subscriber quantity, John Deere actually purchased its first electric printing press to publish the successful magazine. It could print in two colors and publish 50,000 copies in eight hours: and back then, the cost amounted to what would be $850,000 in 2013 dollars. What an investment!

Look at the artwork on this edition:

the furrow

And the classic look of the 1960 spread:

furrow 1960

Here’s a look at a recent 2015 edition:

furrow

The magazine was a huge success and, today, it stands as one of the earliest and most durable examples of great content marketing. The Furrow still exists today and has since also been digitized into an e-version.

What John Deere Got Right

John Deere knew something very early on that many marketers are still struggling to learn: the best content is informative content.

Suggested Related Read on the Write Blog: Stop Selling, Start Helping

Even in the late 1890’s, customers didn’t want big, splashy advertisements and “listen to how great our company is” rhetoric. Instead, they wanted helpful information that would assist them in addressing their problems.

The Furrow focused entirely on editorial content meant to be informative and helpful. Pieces ranged from scientific breakdowns to funny editorial pieces about the difficulties of living a farmer’s life. Throughout the magazine, John Deere’s name was interspersed on a rare occasion, encouraging customers to build an association between the helpful, informative content and the John Deere brand itself.

Successful content today is no different than successful content back then.

Here are the top six things that John Deere got right in The Furrow:

  1. The content was engaging
  2. The content was valuable
  3. The content shared farming culture and information
  4. The content built brand loyalty
  5. The content positioned John Deere as a passionate, engaged brand
  6. The content developed relationships between farmers and John Deere

Today, marketers who want to increase the effectiveness of their content marketing need only to look back to The Furrow and take some lessons from John Deere.

10 Content Marketing Lessons You Can Learn From John Deere

Despite the fact that John Deere was founded more than one hundred years ago, the company’s first big content marketing move still has a lot to teach today’s modern marketers. Here are the top 10 lessons to take from The Furrow:

1. Address pain points

Before The Furrow hit the scene, farmers didn’t have an organized place to see their challenges, hopes, and community-specific knowledge reflected at them. What The Furrow got so right from the get-go is that it addressed farmers’ pain points.

By offering actionable information about how to cope with difficult farming situations and address various issues in the community, The Furrow proved it understood its audience. What’s more, it offered truly valuable information that increased the quality of their lives.

To bring this into your content, one of the most critical things you can do is address your customers’ pain points. While this requires a background of plenty of target audience research and exploration, learning to hone in on your readers’ difficulties is one of the most active steps you can take toward great content marketing.

2. Focus on informative content

The Furrow did something else that no magazine before it had done – it brought scientific, editorial content to consumers, and it didn’t try to sell them on anything in the process. While the magazine was published by John Deere, a casual passerby couldn’t have picked up on that, and this was one of the magazine’s greatest strengths.

By focusing first on informing consumers and leaving all of the sales pitches and product placement out of the equation, John Deere created a brand of trust, loyalty, and mutual benefit with its consumers.

3. Build a community

In addition to farming insights and instructional content, The Furrow also offered peer insights. By building a farming community that focused on the magazine itself, The Furrow managed to establish itself as a meeting place for information, advice, and relief from the stressors of everyday farm life.

In your content, building a community is a critical step toward good marketing. If you can create a community around your brand voice, content, and material, you know you’ll always have a group to rely on. This, in turn, allows you to leverage the support of your community whenever you need it, which makes for better marketing and a more efficient content strategy.

4. Offer actionable content

One of the things The Furrow did beautifully was that it aimed to teach farmers to run better businesses. By providing tips on more efficient means of harvest and ways to circumvent various difficulties in the industry, The Furrow managed to provide valuable, actionable content to farmers who were hungry for useful information.

5. Be adaptable

Since The Furrow began its publishing debut more than one hundred years ago, it’s continued to adapt to the landscape around it. Today, The Furrow is available online, on social media, and in digital, tablet formats.

Despite the fact that the magazine has its roots in a very different time than we’re living in now, it’s continued to adapt according to the environment around it. This, in turn, has allowed it to be flexible and to continue delivering valuable content to consumers wherever they are at a given moment.

6. Find your niche and dominate it

The Furrow did beautifully at finding a niche with its consumers and dominating it at every turn. By consistently offering helpful, actionable, relevant advice on industry challenges, it managed to create a community of buzz and value around its content.

The other unique virtue of defining a niche is that doing so allows you to cater specifically to a unique group of people. Establishing a niche creates more targeted content, more practical value, and a stronger brand voice – all of which are ideal for ensuring that your content serves its ideal purpose.

7. Use your content to strengthen relationships

The Furrow built two communities – both internal and external. On one hand, the editorial content within the magazine strengthened the relationships of the farming community. On the other hand, however, it was ideal for strengthening the relationship between consumers and the John Deere brand.

By focusing on providing value for consumers first and integrating products much later, John Deere managed to use The Furrow to strengthen its relationships with customers.

8. Use your content to display your passion

Why should people read your content? Are you exceedingly passionate about your topic? Do you know something that nobody else does? What value can you offer? By using your content to display and find a home for your passion – be it farming or SEO – it’s easy to create a group of passionate, like-minded followers who want to engage with you.

With millions of pieces of content shared every day, the only way for content marketing to succeed in today’s environment is to be unique. Passionate content is unique content and using your platform to market things you truly connect with and care about is one of the best possible ways to improve your marketing instantly.

9. Be consistent

If there’s one thing The Furrow is, it’s consistent. With more than 120 years of publishing prowess, it’s easy to look at this magazine and understand the value of being predictable. While the magazine has always been niche-focused and specific, it’s also always showed up when it’s supposed to – providing value to readers on a regular and predictable basis.

This, in turn, helps build consumer trust in the magazine while also ensuring that The Furrow remains a helpful tool for boosting John Deere’s brand voice.

While The Furrow has been required to adapt to various distribution channels and consumer preferences over the years, it’s still a regular, predictable publication that serves readers well.

10. Use your content to establish yourself as the expert in your industry

When it came time to build a dynasty, John Deere didn’t use The Furrow to offer “10 Shocking Secrets of Today’s Biggest Celebrities.”

This wouldn’t have gotten the brand anywhere and, if this had been their approach, we wouldn’t still be talking about the magazine today. Instead, John Deere used its new content platform to tie back to the unique knowledge they were capable of distributing.

While even back in the 1800s there were plenty of expert farmers and ranchers, what The Furrow did well is that it compiled that expert knowledge all into one place. This, in turn, allowed them to showcase their brand while also building a community of dedicated and like-minded followers.

The 3 Commandments of Great Content Marketing

1. Value first

Through and through, it’s easy to see where John Deere used content as a vehicle for value rather than sales pitches. In fact, it’s arguable that putting the value of their content first was the key factor that allowed them to succeed to the level they have.

By avoiding pushing sales pitches onto their consumers, John Deere managed to create a unique, value-based magazine that didn’t alienate people or come off as overly sales-y. This, in turn, has contributed to their longevity.

2. Own the places you publish

While things like social media are fantastic, having a content distribution platform that is entirely in your control is a critical factor in success.

When John Deere began publishing The Furrow, it did two things right: first, it created an environment in which the publishing channel was also owned by the company, thus creating an atmosphere of freedom and authority.

Secondly, it allows John Deere to take full advantage of all of the data and relationships mined from said distribution platform. By cutting out the middleman and speaking directly to consumers, John Deere created a platform for strong content from the get-go.

3. Be the expert people want to talk to

Expertise is about a lot more than just knowledge. Expertise is also about approachability, friendliness, and accessibility. By distributing world-class information and tying it in with phrases like “your friendly John Deere dealer,” The Furrow managed to be all of these things at once. In content marketing, it’s critical to ensure that you’re approachable and authoritative since one can’t exist without the other.

John Deere – The Content Marketing Expert You Never Expected

John Deere is more than just big green tractors –the brand is also a powerhouse of content marketing know-how that dates back more than one hundred years. Today, it’s easy to see where John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, went right with marketing.

By paying attention to the lessons the magazine has to offer, it’s easy to apply these tricks to your content marketing and boost its effectiveness today.

authority content

content marketing trends

11 Content Marketing Trends to Keep An Eye On

Listen.

Do you hear that?

That’s the sound of the first quarter of 2017 whizzing past you, rapidly disappearing into the rearview mirror.

Crazy, right?!

Once time is gone, you can’t get it back.

So: are you on track with your goals? Are you working on your content strategy? Do you have a content strategy?

The first three months of the year are over and we’re into the thick of 2017. If you’ve gone off course with your content, or you’re wondering where to go and what to do next, this list of content marketing trends will help to inspire you and get you into the groove of where content is headed.

Here, then, in no particular order, are 11 of the hottest content marketing trends you need to pay attention to this year. Let’s go…

content marketing

11 Content Marketing Trends Set to Explode

1. Specificity Rules

If there is one immutable law of markets, it is that they change. Markets move, they drift and shift, they fragment, and they wither and die.

And this happens faster today than ever before.

To keep up with the whims of the market and to stay relevant (a topic we will explore in a moment) to your target audience, you have to be flexible. More than that, you have to get specific.

In fact, the experts agree that we’re all going have to get way more niche with our content marketing if we expect to be successful in 2017.

Businesses, especially those that sell mass market products, are already starting to focus their product and service offerings to cater to various segments of an increasingly fragmented marketplace. But this has still yet to translate into their content marketing.

And yet there’s huge opportunity here.

No matter what business you are in, there is without a doubt a specific need, want or solution you are addressing too broadly with your content.

Imagine the impact of creating content so perfectly matched to your audience’s wants and needs that your business looks like the only option for solving their particular problems.

Things like “The Single Soccer Mom’s Guide to Healthy Kid-Friendly Snacks” or “The Social Media Manual for Gourmet Vegan Restaurants.” OK, those examples are really niche, but you get what I mean.

Before you create your next blog post, video, or consumer guide, look at the audience you are serving. How can you tailor what you are already doing to perfectly match the segments of the market you’re already serving with intensely specific solutions?

2. Relevancy is on the Rise

Relevancy is closely tied to specificity. The more specific the solution is to my problem or the answer is to my question, the more relevant, right?

Leaving aside for the moment that fact that Google loves relevant content, if you can demonstrate relevancy to your market, you win. And on a few levels, all at the same time.

Here’s what I mean:

Publishing relevant content shows not only that you have something to say that is ideally matched to help your target audience, but also that you are the company or person best positioned to be delivering that information.

Relevancy is all about capturing attention. Making your content as relevant as possible gives you the authority to hold that attention. And as we move further along into 2017, it is the battle for attention that you want to win.

However, there are some issues with making your content more relevant.

Firstly, creating relevant content can be challenging, especially if you have a regular publishing schedule to stick to. Being relevant implies being somewhat up to date all the time, which isn’t always possible when you are creating engaging content, especially when you are trying to create evergreen content assets.

Secondly, it is more difficult to create relevant content that is also evergreen. You may be forced to update your pillar content every year, or even twice a year depending on your industry.

This is where having a clear content strategy becomes indispensable. Creating more “bite-sized” content which is narrowly focused, up-to-date and relevant is an ideal way to supplement your more in-depth authority pieces and pillar content.

3. Content Hubs Are the Future of Content Marketing

It goes without saying that to make your content marketing successful these days you need a strategy. But as content marketing matures and evolves, it is moving more and more in the direction of a few major players dominating a niche.

Think about Adobe’s CMO.com in the B2B space. Or Moz Blog for SEO. Or Hubspot for inbound marketing. These branded content hubs have become highly influential authority sites in their particular niches. And if you’re trying to break into one of these in 2017, good luck, because these big guys have the market locked up.

There are many benefits of a content hub, but one of the most powerful is having all of your most influential, focused content in one place, which contributes to higher online visibility.

You also become attractive to other authors and influencers in your niche, and your content becomes varied and multilayered, which adds variety and credibility to your site. In fact, 63% of online users view blogs with multiple contributors to be more credible.

In some cases – although this very much depends on your positioning in your market – you can even control and shape the conversation going on in your niche, having the smaller sites link to you and reference your work as a trusted source of information.

Another big benefit is that Google loves sites with lots of pages to index, so if you’re going after sustained traffic, building a content hub is definitely the way to go in the long term.

There is, however, one significant barrier to success when creating a content hub, and that is, of course, actually being influential.

Simply having lots of content on your site is not enough. For that you need a solid content promotion strategy, which gets us on to our next trend.

4. Less is More, but Quality First

There is more content being published now than ever before, around 2 million posts every day.

To be honest, most of these are vanilla that don’t add much value to any kind of conversation.

It has become common advice that to stand out from all this noise all you have to do is publish better, longer, more in-depth content pieces.

In fact, in 2015 Rand Fishkin, the wizard of Moz, spoke about needing to create “10X content” to stay at the top of search engine rankings, citing that the only the top 10% of content wins, collecting all the social shares and links.

But this presents us with a problem too.

Creating high quality content is expensive, and the challenge of proving positive ROI to get executive buy-in is real.

So what’s the solution?

First off, there’s no getting away from producing high quality content. It’s the price to play these days, and it’s a very good thing.

But more than a content production strategy, marketers need a well-thought out content promotion strategy. If you’re going to spend the money to create quality content, you want to get as much mileage out of it as possible.

This not only means repurposing and republishing, but also engaging in other communities and seeking out up and coming influencers to promote your work.

It’s time to get creative, because the competition’s only going to get tougher.

5. Social Media is Going Live

One of the most intriguing trends over the past two years is the advent of new innovations in social media platforms.

Social media giants have been merging with agile up-and-comers, like Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and old-guard tech companies getting into the social media game, like Microsoft buying LinkedIn.

This transfer of the buying power of millions of new users is unprecedented and represents an entirely innovative method of cost-efficient customer acquisition.

Almost all major social media platforms have also begun to integrate live streaming video and the “Stories” content format. Instagram and Snapchat Stories, as well as Facebook Messenger Day are redefining how consumers interact with and share social content, promoting visual communication and “jumpstart” chat threads.

Facebook in particular, which launched Messenger Day in early March 2017, is pushing its way into the popular Stories format, as the increasing number of mobile users drives the potential of monetizing this new form of social media.

The potential for using Stories apps like Messenger Day for marketing has already been picked up by some early adopters, but its effectiveness has yet to be proven out.

Where it may prove effective is in the realm of influencer marketing, where influencers could promote products, services and events through this new dynamic social channel.

The development of this trend is definitely one to watch throughout 2017.

6. The Year of Video Marketing

Content marketing influencers have put this trend high on lists of predictions for the future of the industry for the past two years. And it seems that 2017 is truly the year of video.

In fact, according to HubSpot:

  • Watching videos accounts for one third of all online activity.
  • Video is driving engagement and sales, as 90% of customers report that product videos helped them make a buying decision.
  • Mobile video consumption is growing by 100% every year, according to YouTube.
  • 87% of online marketers have already integrated video content into their content marketing strategies.

What’s more, earlier this year it was predicted that by 2019, video marketing will dominate 80% of all internet traffic.

Embedding video on website landing pages already increases SEO, because Google owns YouTube, and social platforms like Facebook are optimizing feeds for video to increase overall viewing experience.

If you haven’t yet, 2017 is the year to increase your video marketing budget and start getting visual.

7. The Slow Death of Advertising is Speeding Up 

While traditional advertising will probably never disappear completely, branded content, social proof and the effect of influencer marketing is giving advertising a run for its money.

In fact, 72% of marketers currently think that branded content is more effective than magazine ads (source: Custom Content Council), and according to Google Trends, consumer interest in print advertising has declined rapidly since 2014.

Traditional advertising is historically a form of mass communication, and as I discussed before, what consumers are looking for these days is a source of information they can trust to make buying decisions, and crave ways to engage in some kind of conversation about the problems they’re facing.

Not only are consumers more demanding in how they want to be communicated to, this trend also refers back to the points about relevancy and specificity. If you don’t have those two things as the core of your strategy today, your content marketing is going the way of the dodo.

8. Content Marketing Integration with Sales 

While sales and marketing departments are still very much completely independent functions in many businesses, content marketing is helping to bridge the gap.

In fact, almost 50% of marketers are looking more closely at the sales process, or what has become known as the customer journey, and have been learning to align their content strategy to map each stage of this crucial process.

Giving customers a “high touch” experience at every step of the buyer’s journey, through the use of social media, newsletters, articles and webinars, is what is really driving engagement, retention, and ultimately sales.

9. Data and Original Research

This trend is related to the idea of publishing less, but better quality content.

Original research also has high authority value as it gives you a genuine way to stand out from the crowd. Instead of publishing “me too” posts about data 50 other bloggers in your niche have already covered, you position yourself as the source of meaningful and valuable insight into your market.

Conducting customer surveys, influencer outreach, reader polls, etc. gives you a wealth of up-to-date, valuable information you can turn into all kinds of content assets, which will then also attract backlinks from other marketers in your niche. HubSpot is an excellent example of this.

10. No Time for Bad Design

As the internet in general becomes more saturated by visuals, and as websites in particular become optimized for conversions (including mobile viewing), consumers are becoming more accustomed to a user-friendly experience when visiting a site.

Bad design equals poor user experience. And, in fact, delivering the best user experience on all browsers to promote better engagement is on the shortlist of modern SEO best practices.

So, if your website or content is driving people away because of bad design, you need to fix it – quick.

With the wealth of affordable professional web development services, as well as low-cost options like WordPress themes, there is no excuse for poor website design anymore.

The same goes for your content.

More and more users are being trained to expect good design and a pleasant experience when consuming content.

So, if you are committed to creating high quality content, the way it is packaged and delivered needs to be high quality too if you want to stay competitive.

11. Being an Authority and Influencer is More Important Than Ever

I’ve touched on this trend a few times throughout this post, but I left it for last because it is arguably the most impactful trend for the future of content marketing.

I’ve already mentioned making high quality content a priority, building towards having a content hub, the importance of original research, having cool new social media toys to play with, getting busy with video, but the deciding factor which trumps all of these is how much influence you have in your market.

A group of industry experts was interviewed recently and they revealed two crucial shifts that are happening in the world of content marketing right now.

The first is that content marketing is going to be a lot harder to do successfully from now on. The second is that it is authorities and influencers who will grab the majority of attention in any niche.

What this means for you and me is that not only do we have to up our game across the board, but content promotion and influencer outreach is going to become a far more critical component of our content marketing strategies than it has ever been before.

Conclusion

Those are the major trends I’ve been looking at over the past few months. Is there anything I left out which you feel is the next big thing for the future of content marketing?

What parts of your strategy can you adjust or add to that will make your marketing more relevant in 2017?

Let me know in the comments!

visuals in your content

10 Ways to Boost Your Copy With Engaging Visuals in Your Content

Quick: what’s black and white and sad all over?

Online copy with no visuals!

Today, great visuals are everything to engaging, readable online copy.

In addition to making your material more exciting, they also help pull readers through your text, making it easier for them to engage with and connect to it.

Without visuals, content is just a sad shell of text, and won’t make it far.

Here’s everything you need to know about why visuals matter and how to use them in your online content.

visuals

What the Numbers Say About Visuals in Your Content

When you were a kid, you loved books with pictures, right?

The illustrations just added something to the text, and you enjoyed learning about new worlds and people through colorful images.

Today, it’s no different.

While it might be true that we’re older and that the visuals in question now aren’t so much illustrations as they are graphics, screenshots, and infographics, visuals are just as important as they’ve always been, and adding them into your marketing copy can take it from “blah” to memorable.

The reason is simple: visuals tell a story, and that story helps enhance your online content. Without visuals, the words must stand on their own, which makes your material less compelling and exciting for readers.

Here are some visual marketing statistics on the power of visuals in your content:

visual content stats infographic

  • 37% of marketers report that visuals are their most valuable marketing asset, second only to their blogs
  • 74% of social media marketers add visuals to their social updates
  • While people only remember 10% of the information they hear, they remember an average of 65% of what they see, making visual information the way to go for companies that want to encourage brand recall.
  • In 2016, 51% of B2B marketers were prioritizing the creation of visual assets.
  • By the end of this year, experts are predicting that 74% of all web traffic will be dedicated to video content.
  • Infographics earn 3x as many likes and shares on social media as any other type of content.
  • Tweets that have images in them receive 150% more retweets than text-only updates.
  • Facebook posts with images earn 2.3x the engagement of text-only posts.

With these numbers in mind, it’s clear that visual marketing is here to stay, and that engaging in it can be the most productive thing you do this year.

10 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Online Copy

New to the world of visual marketing? Don’t fear. Start by using these top ten visual tricks:

1. Add Images To Every 200-300 Words in Your Blogs & Create Social Shareworthy Inset Images

This is one of the easiest and most straightforward ways to incorporate images into every blog you publish.

But don’t just “add images.” Here are some rules of thumb:

  • Add a screenshot per every 200-300 words. By nature, the brain responds more to visual stimulation than text, so you’ll want to break up your content with a lot of visuals. Screenshots work well to illustrate points.
  • Design (or have designed) a beautiful blog topic image, sized for optimal social sharing. Things to consider: theme it to the color code of your logo, have a custom artist design it.

Here’s an example of a couple creative blog headers our designer has put together that gained a good deal of traction on social media:

love is in the air

header blog

Need custom image creations? We can help!

2. Create A Custom Infographic

Check out this crazy stat about infographics:

infographics-liked-and-shared-more

Source: MassPlanner

One of the most valuable things you can do for your marketing is to create a custom infographic. It’s seriously worth the investment. We create one every quarter (sometimes more): and to date, this content type has been our most-shared.

Why Blog 2017 Content Marketing Resolutions header cut

The header of one of our many infographics, 10 Blogging Resolutions.

Unique because it’s designed specifically for your company and helpful because it addresses the concerns and interests of your target audience, this form of visual content will help to differentiate your brand online and help you stand out from the crowd.

Infographics perform better on social media than other types of content, so you’ll earn a solid ROI from your infographic.

If you’re looking for a team to create infographics for you, look no further than our creative infographic services!

3. Create Custom Blog Headers that are Themed In Your Colors

Custom blog headers can give your content a unique look and help your blog feel more cohesive. This is the “featured image” section of your blog.

Ideal for brands of all shapes and sizes, custom blog headers are some of the most useful things you can create for your brand.

For best results, create headers that use your company’s colors, utilize your logo, and incorporate a streamlined and cohesive design. Check out how we do this for our content on The Write Blog. The end “blog roll” look is visually engaging:

blog roll

We’ve been experimenting with drawing “visual story steps,” too.

As of late 2016, we added unique, storytelling imagery to our content shop, which is a new variation in our visual products. Here are a few examples from our Process Page, to give you an idea of what these look like.

process

4. Screenshot Everything that Has a Visual Explanation

If you’re writing a tutorial, how-to, or instructive post, you need to be including screenshots. Visually explain what you’re talking about.

Screenshots help your readers understand what you’re saying and synthesize your post accordingly. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to connect with your content and absorb the meaning of your posts.

It also helps your content be more useful to your readers. Be sure that if you’re going to include a screenshot, to add one that’s in-depth and detailed, not a broad overview that won’t help your readers or that they could just as easily find on their own.

One tool I love is the Full Page Screen Capture, in the Chrome app store (free). I use Chrome daily, and to get a full-length screenshot without zooming and messing up the focus, the Full Page Screen Capture is my hidden weapon.

screen capture app

5. Add or Create A Meme

Memes are a great way to add some comic relief to your posts. Break up a long, detailed section with a meme or add it to offset a funny point you’re making.

meme

There are dozens of free online meme generators to choose from, so you can always make your own. Just be sure that your memes, like all your other visual assets, are relevant, high-quality, and targeted to your audience. Otherwise, they won’t perform as well as you’d like them to.

6. Include Process Photos

If you’re in an industry where you’re showcasing tutorials or telling your customers how you make something, include process photos to help them go one step deeper.

Designed to allow your readers to connect more firmly to your material, these images are ideal for articles that tell people how to do things like how to change a bike chain or add oil to their car. The more images, the better for these posts.

Here’s a WikiHow article that does a nice job of this:

Wikihow Article

7. Show What Not to Do

While you can tell your readers all day long what they shouldn’t be doing, an image can be the best way to show them. Ideal for any topic that’s in-depth or complex, a “what not to do” photo can drive the point home more efficiently than a simple explanation.

8. Create Custom Videos

Videos are some of the highest-converting types of visual content out there.

While they’ll work in virtually any environment, from social media to your home page, they can revolutionize your email marketing and landing pages.

For best results, hire a company to create a custom video for you, since doing it yourself involves a somewhat steep learning curve. Once you’ve got a video you’re proud of, add it to your landing page, or email campaign. Of course, you can also share videos across social media and on your blog.

The meditation app Headspace does a great job of including relevant, high-quality videos all across its website and social media profiles. Here’s an example of one that’s gotten more than 700,000 views:

9. Try A Live Stream

Feeling adventurous with video? Try a live stream. Ideal for anyone who wants to tap into the rapidly growing trend of on-the-go video, live stream videos are the perfect way to make your online content more exciting and personalized for your readers.

You can live stream with Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and Periscope, to name a few channels.

10. Create Galleries

Galleries are a unique way to use visuals and can be a smart way to showcase your work or introduce your employees on your website. For best results, ensure each image you include in your gallery is high-quality, relevant, and demonstrative of the gallery subset you’re displaying.

The Case for Compelling Images

If you’re looking for a smart way to go deeper with your images this year, these ten options are fantastic places to start.

Perfect for brands in all industries and specialties, carefully-selected visual content has the potential to boost readership, make content more impactful, and promote brand recall – all of which are excellent things for you.

What’s more, creating and compiling high-quality visual content has never been easier than it is right now, so there’s no reason to wait!

Need help creating professional visual assets you’ll be proud of? Check out our custom image services today!

where to publish content

A Data-Driven Answer on Where to Publish Your Content, & the Downside of Being Everywhere

From the moment we wake up, we consume a crazy high amount of content.

It’s nuts.

In just one minute: 7 million Snapchat videos are posted. Over 2 million Instagram posts get “hearted.” Facebook gets over 4 million likes. Nearly 350,000 tweets happen. Google translates 69 million words. (Contently)

In one day: two million blogs are posted.

So it only makes sense that you should share your awesome content on all of those platforms in order to have the greatest reach.

In a world of endless options for publishing content, we should publish anywhere and everywhere, right? (FOMO!)

Not necessarily. Let’s keep talking.

where to publish content at

Where to Publish Content: Why The Answer Starts With Where NOT to Publish 

One of the challenges we face as content marketers is the rise of social media platforms and the fact that readers don’t just start there – they never have to leave.

We use social media for news, to keep up with trends, to connect with other people, and to follow our favorite brands, which means we’re more engaged than ever before. But we also run the risk of getting stuck in a rut with the billions of others who are plugged in worldwide.

statista

From Statista

Your content may be magnificent, praiseworthy, and top-notch. But that doesn’t mean you should utilize every blogging and social media outlet known to the internet in order to share it.

The more content you publish, the better, but where should you sink all your valuable content marketing efforts into?

Here’s Where to Publish: 3 Areas of Focus We Recommend

When you are ready to share amazing content, here are three of the best places to create and publish on.

1. Your own blog and site

Honestly: this is your real best content publishing real estate.

Upkeeping a blog is key.

Look at these stats:

1) B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.

2) Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI.

5) Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.

6) Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.

Hubspot

Treat it like your #1 content hub. Grow and expand it, weekly if not daily.

Here at Express Writers, we publish the majority of the content on our site. The combined abilities of our experienced writers allow us to create quality content that brings in revenue while also helping our audience. We post a few times a week, with posts between 1,500 and 4,000 words. Once a week, a Twitter chat recap in our dedicated chat section is also created and shared. Our content is consistent, well-researched, and published following a specific timeframe. Topics are planned and thought out with care.

Our branded content has ended up being a major, major source of our entire company revenue (to the tune of 90%). More on that in my case study.

Your blog content can be an amazing resource for your audience. Here’s why:

  • Blogging can increase your search engine optimization (SEO), especially when you use keywords in the right way and create content in long form.
  • Blogging gives you content to promote across social media channels.
  • Blogging allows you a space to put valuable calls-to-action, which have the potential to generate leads and grow conversions.

A. How to write a strong blog post?

Hubspot offers some simple tips on how to write a blog post that begins with understanding your audience and ends with choosing a catchy title. You can read more about that here and grab some free blogging templates while you’re at it.

The best blog posts always have a clear topic and engaging title; the audience is drawn in and stays engaged because they have been captivated by the introduction.

The content is well-organized and relevant to the issue being addressed.

Experts across the industry craft quality blog content for their sites, including:

  • Neil Patel – co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmeterics
  • Barry Feldman – speaker, author, and creative copywriter
  • Seth Godin – author and founder of Squidoo

B. How often to post?

You may be wondering how often to publish on your company’s blog. While every company is different in size, strategy, and industry, there is some research that can help us answer that question.

In one study from HubSpot, the results showed that B2B companies that published over 16 blog posts per month received more than 3 times the amount of traffic as compared to companies that only published 4 times per month.

For B2C companies, those 16-times-per-month rate saw over 4 times the amount of traffic.

In another study, over 90% of Hubspot’s blog leads and more than 75% of post views came from old posts.

Posting quality content multiple times per week may be just what your readers are looking for, and if it’s awesome content, they will keep coming back for more. Read more about how to write content for a blog over here.

The time, effort, and work put into your own content makes your blog site YOUR real estate.

Why publish your best on someone else's? - @JuliaEMcCoyClick To Tweet

2. Guest blogging in your niche

Before you decide where to guest blog, you should set a goal for your blogging.

These goals could include anything from setting yourself up as an authority in your industry to driving readers to your own site.

Check out how we achieve results from guest blogging: my content, for example a column I keep with 2 posts/week on SiteProNews, has netted us a lead worth $5,000.

content life cycle

When you begin with this sort of focus, it can help narrow your scope as you write.

Guest blogging in your niche is a great opportunity to share your authoritative view on a number of topics, but you must find platforms where your audience is already located.

You may find opportunities by searching for blogs that invite guests to post – just do a keyword search using words from your industry combined with “guest post” or “guest blogger.” From here, you’ll find guides, and the publications publishing them will more often than not accept guest bloggers in this industry. (See result #2: that’s CMI’s guest blogging guidelines!)

keyword search for guest blogger

A recent Google search for “content marketing submit a guest post” presented almost 3 million results. (!!!)

You can also look on the social feeds of your buyers. Check out Facebook feeds and Twitter posts – what content does your demographic share? Your potential audience is already reading content across these mediums, so it’s a good place to start.

At Express Writers, we have seen some serious return on investment from just one guest blog post. I already showed you the Life Cycle graphic, but check out my post for more about it.

What are some of the “secrets”?

  • Focus on less channels, not more.
  • Focus on a relationship with a real person, not a contact form.
  • Focus on the platforms in your niche.
  • Focus on giving your best, most useful content.

Guest blogging in your niche is also a great way to connect with other marketers in your industry. You never know where a relationship may lead or when you will need their advice for your own content development.

3. Be on Two (Very) Authoritative Platforms

Sharing your content on authoritative platforms not only sets you apart as an expert, but allows your voice to be heard by a larger audience. There are benefits when you publish on sites like Medium and LinkedIn.

Why? Because you are demonstrating your expertise through the delivery of valuable content – it’s showing an audience versus just telling them.

1. Medium

Writing, publishing, and promoting content on this platform means you’ll join the likes of Sports Illustrated and the White House.

medium-homepage

Yes, the White House. As in, the State of the Union addresses and policy announcements.

When founder Ev William first launched the site in 2012, he noted that Medium is a place where writers focus on the words while also serving as a place of collaboration so you can say what you want to say.

Wordstream shared 10 reasons content writers should publish on Medium. They include:

  • The simple import process.
  • A built-in audience through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Engagement tools, so you can see who’s reading and how many.
  • Minimum effort – no original content required.

Read more here, including how your valuable content can be discovered by publishers who scout for authors on Medium.

2. LinkedIn

linkedin pulse

This virtual gathering of all types of professionals also serves as a publishing platform. In February 2014, LinkedIn Pulse went public, allowing writers from a variety of industries to share their thoughts with the click of a button.

In order to write successful content on LinkedIn, there are some suggestions noted on the site to help get you started:

  • Offer advice for career advancement.
  • Describe challenges in your profession, both current and future.
  • Discuss how your industry has changed since you began.
  • Give solid advice to one who hopes to enter your field.

Posts should be long-form and are bolstered by relevant images or videos. While there are no limits on word count, the more helpful content you can share, the more value you can bring to the table.

And don’t forget – editing is your friend!

Case Study: Where We Publish Content at Express Writers

I lead our inbound content strategy (and write a lot of it, with other staff members).

Here’s a visual representation of what my schedule when publishing content looks like.

As you can see, a large portion of our content is dedicated to our site. Hence the huge amount of inbound leads we receive (case study on that here).

express writers content schedule

What About New Platforms? Answer These 3 Questions to Make Sure it’s Worth Your Time

New platforms for content publishing may arise out of the night like a sparkly, shiny marketing tool that calls to you and beckons you to come forward and share your valuable writing.

Don’t fall for it.

When Blab.im was released as a video discussion website and livestream app, people loved it and spent a lot of time on the site – an average of an hour a day. The platform took three weeks to build and went from 0 users to just under 4 million in less than a year.

In August of 2016, the website was shut down, and along with its departure went all of its users’ content.

This is proof that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. So how do you decide what to keep and what to toss?

Ask yourself these three questions first:

1. Does this platform fit my niche?

If it does, you are more likely to attract qualified leads and find the right audience for your topic. Content shared on LinkedIn is not going to look the same as content shared on SnapChat, so think carefully before jumping into a new platform.

2. Who is my intended audience, and do they spend time there?

In order to know if your audience participates in a particular platform, you have to first know who they are. Define who you are trying to reach and then find out where those individuals spend their time.

Copyblogger reminds us:

“Before you can get someone to buy from you, you need to know what to say to them, and how to say it. You’ll never get that right unless you know who you’re talking to.”

3. Will my presence there help me meet my content goals?

If your goal is to increase brand awareness, a focus on guest blogging may be more worth your time than a case study. If you are looking for engagement, being active on social media channels could help your content go viral faster than a podcast.

The Downside to Being Everywhere

Content marketers are busy people, and we’re not just talking about the actual content creation part.

This may be your only job, or it may be in addition to that other job you work. You may or may not have a spouse, kids, a home, and other interests that demand your attention. It’s possible to stretch yourself too thin as you try to be every solution to everyone, and burn out.

There is a downside to being everywhere.  

Can Being Everywhere Lead to Being Nowhere?

When you are just starting out – and even when you’ve been at this content thing for a while – it is easy to fall prey to the notion that your content should be everywhere.

After all, isn’t that how we make an impact?

Actually, the “Be Everywhere” strategy can take you down a long, winding road to the town of Nowhere. No one wants to be here. It’s marked by content creators who have spread themselves so far that they have little to give.

Nowhere is a land of few listeners and even fewer conversions.

Over at Entrepreneur, Jeff Stephens reminds us why trying to be everywhere can lead us to nowhere:

  • Every platform requires time, focused effort, and a learning curve while you try to get to know a new audience.
  • Focusing on too many channels distracts us from what really matters.
  • Being everywhere wastes time and means you are nowhere fully.

For more inspiration on this, listen in to my podcast with Mark Schaefer, one of the top business bloggers in the world, where he discusses the downside of not focusing on and mastering just a few channels – for many years with Mark, it was just one channel, his blog!

The solution to being everywhere is to find the place where you really need to be, and target your content across those channels.

Does targeted content distribution matter?

Among marketers, 53% say that target content distribution is a factor that has contributed to their increased success.

At the same time, the average number of content marketing tactics used is seven, with the top being social media and blogs.

2017_B2C_Research

Graphic from Content Marketing Institute

Intentionality in choosing your distribution channels will not only benefit you – saving time, energy, and resources – it will benefit your audience, as well.

They will get your best content, the content that has been crafted with a focus on their needs and real solutions.

Only you can decide which channels are beneficial and which ones need to go. But whatever you do, don’t get lost in the land of Nowhere. It won’t bring value to your message and it certainly won’t benefit your readers.

Gain Focus with a Solid Content Marketing Strategy & Know Where to Publish Content

In order to know where you want to go, you need a plan for getting there. That’s where a content marketing strategy comes in, although the majority of marketers do not have one.

Only 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers have a content marketing plan in writing, while 70% of us are creating more content this year than in 2016.

Study after study has shown that success comes when we write down our goals, go back to review them, and share them with others. It is not different for content creation.

No matter how small or how big your team is, a written content strategy can make a huge difference in how you reach and who you reach with your message. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

  • Define your goal – why are you producing content?
  • Conduct your research – who is your audience?
  • Evaluate your content – check out what you did last year, and see if you can switch it up.
  • Secure a content management tool – try HubSpot’s software, CoSchedule, or WordPress.
  • Brainstorm content ideas and types – outline the blog post that’s been simmering, start crafting that e-book, and put together an infographic if these types of content are what will work best for your audience’s needs.
  • Publish your content – Post it on your website, social media channels, or on a guest blog. Create quality content on a consistent basis. Don’t offer your audience something generic that they can find anywhere. Be specific and be intentional.

The Truth About All Those Platforms

If we were to sit down over a cup of coffee and list all the platforms available to content marketers, it would be extensive.

  • Social media sites
  • Video sites
  • Email marketing
  • Webinars
  • Graphic tools
  • Paid promotion tools
  • Blogging channels

In addition to the countless number of publishing sites we already have, there are new ones popping up all the time. Where you should focus your efforts depends on your goals, your audience, and your resources.

And all of those platforms? Just because they are there doesn’t mean they are the right ones for you. The last thing you want is to put all your efforts into something that doesn’t reach your target and ends up taking you to the town of Nowhere.

When you know your readers and you know where you want to go, where to publish will make much more sense. Combine this with a confidence in your abilities, and you can be on your way to publishing the right content in the right places.

Find Your Rhythm, Know Where to Publish Content that Works for You

Challenges for content marketers abound, whether you’ve been in this field for a week or a decade.

Where to publish your content can only be decided by you, but these tips can go a long way to help.

With a bit of thought and planning, find your rhythm, choose the best outlets for your audience, reach the right people – and do amazing things!

engagement cta