cmworld 2018

8 of Our Biggest Takeaways & Marketing Lessons from Content Marketing World 2018

This year, I went to CMWorld — again. (It was so great last year that I decided to go again in 2018! And I plan on going in 2019, too.)

I brought Hannah, our Content Director, with me. And we had a blast.

Content marketers getting together, talking about content, is always a good thing in my book.

The event happened Tuesday, September 4 — Friday, September 7, in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio. Hannah and I attended the kickoff party at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, the keynotes and sessions in the Main Conference Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and took flights home Thursday night.

Besides the sessions and speakers, it was absolutely wonderful to see friendly faces while there — hug friends, meet online friends IRL, talk content, and chat over breakfast and dinner.

cmworld collage

I walked away with some great insights from the event. Here are my major takeaways from this year’s trip to Content Marketing World.

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cmworld collage

CMWorld 2018: 8 Biggest Takeaways & Content Marketing Lessons

cmworld recap

This year’s keynote speaker to start the event was Andrew Davis, and to wrap up the event was Tina Fey, aka Liz Lemon, a huge attraction for many of us marketers.

(Also, YAY for #girlpower and bringing a woman to deliver the main and final keynote! Kudos, Content Marketing Institute team.)

Before Andrew Davis opened with the first keynote, Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi took to the stage.

And it was awesome.

1. Today’s Most Important Marketing Element is Trust

First: Robert Rose introduced the “player” to fit well into this year’s theme at CMWorld, Game On.

Player 2 in today’s marketing, he revealed, is trust.

As marketers, he said, we’ve entered the game of talent, trust, and technology. AI is out there. Tech is sophisticated. But the values we have will come from talent driven by trust.

The media trust isn’t there. We’ve got to create it and deliver on it, as marketers.

2. Record, Repeat, Remove & FOCUS for More Success in Marketing

Joe Pulizzi took to the stage next, amidst many whoops of joy from the crowd (I may have added to the noise — he is, after all, one of my all-time favorite content marketing heroes). We all miss him, ever since he ended the PNR With This Old Marketing Podcast and stepped down from CMI after it was acquired by UBM.

Of course, even if he did sell CMI, he sure didn’t let go of any of his stylish orange outfits.

Two new things I learned about Joe:

  • He majored in rhetoric
  • His favorite book: Stranger in a Strange Land (I bought it and plan to read it!)

Joe said that on his first few months off (the first time in years he’s had that much time off!), he studied success. And here’s what he learned.

First, he asked this of all of us: Have you made a positive impact in the world? During his sabbatical, Joe studied success, and he found that most of us have programmed our brains in a way that precludes success. We have a great opportunity to start with a clean slate.

Success (in marketing and life in general) only takes three things:

  1. Record
  2. Repeat
  3. Remove

These three things will make us successful. They will also make our marketing successful.

Joe said that if we lead our mission statement with “making money,” we’ve got it wrong. We need to serve. Serve our audience first.

#CMWorld 2018 highlight: @joepulizzi saying 'If we lead our mission statement with making money, we’ve got it wrong. We need to serve our audience first.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

He recommends we review our goals every night and when we wake up in the morning to be successful.

Why marketing fails:

  • Our recorded goals aren’t big enough
  • We do not put in enough repetition (consistency)
  • We don’t clear the garbage that stops us from achieving our goals

Joe said that in all the content marketing strategies he’s helped implement, and the ones he’s studied, the minimum time was 9 months, average 18 months or longer, of implementing content to see success.

Out of hundreds of #contentmarketing strategies studied, @joepulizzi said at #CMWorld that the minimum time is 9 months, average 18 months or longer, of implementing content to see success. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Joe recommends focusing in on the right things and cutting the clutter. When he hears, “Not enough time to hit my goal,” he answers: the average American watches 3 hours of TV a day, which becomes a decade at 80 years old. We have the time, it’s what we choose to make time for.

[email protected] says that focusing is key to success in #marketing and life. He recommends we clear all distractions to make an impact. #CMWorld #recap @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Content run amuck was the most common error when he and Robert Rose consulted and helped brands build content marketing strategies.

Focus. Choose one thing.

Even if it’s a big, scary goal. In 2009, no one knew what content marketing was. Joe wanted 150 people to come to the first CMWorld, and 600 did.

Whatever you do, if you believe it to be true, it’s true. — Bill Durham.

3. Forget About Snackable Content: Create Binge-Worthy Content that Focuses on the Curiosity Gap

A repeated takeaway I heard in many sessions this year at CMWorld was this one: comprehensive content > bite-size / snackable content. In fact, I heard many marketers recommend that those two words — bite-size and snackable! — should die.

Andrew Davis, a highly-rated speaker at last year’s CMWorld, took to the stage as the opening keynote for Content Marketing World 2018. He’s a bestselling author and keynote speaker. And what he shared was terrific.

First, Andrew asks, have you heard this from marketers?

“I wanna gut it and create snackable content.”

Andrew recommends that we forget about creating “snackable content.”

Quit blaming the goldfish and focusing on the short “attention span.”

Our audience has “no time” — but they can binge watch Stranger Things.

So, what they’re really saying is that will MAKE TIME to consume content that holds their interest.

Quit blaming the goldfish and focusing on the short 'attention span.' Our audience has 'no time' -- but they can binge watch Stranger Things. They will MAKE TIME to consume content that holds their interest. @DrewDavisHere #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Forget “grab their attention! It’s all about the headline!”

…Maybe we need to make more content like Stranger Things.

Andrew brought in the example of a “mystery box.” Creating mystery around your products, services or content, is a great way to build retention and engagement.

For example, there are over 36,000 mystery boxes available for sale on Amazon and eBay! People buy and sell these daily just for the fun of knowing what’s in a “mystery box.”

Another example: one of IKEA’s highest-performing ads is “Where Life Happens.” It’s also a YouTube ad with one of the highest retention rates. 39% of people watched the whole 4-minute ad — centered around one person doing nothing.

Andrew says you cannot buy attention. It’s actually earned over time. We need to slow down and let people consume our content.

You cannot buy attention. It’s actually earned over time. We need to slow down and let people consume our content. @DrewDavisHere #CMWorld Click To Tweet

He said, “What ingredient does the IKEA ad use to draw and maintain interest?”

Curiosity gap.

Marketers should be creating more curiosity gaps. This is “the void” between what people know and what people want to know.

One of the best examples Andrew brought up:

800,000 viewers for a Buzzfeed watermelon explosion video recorded live on Facebook. One man: “I forgot to pick my kid up from school! What am I doing with my life waiting for this watermelon to explode?”

THAT is creating a successful curiosity gap. And curiosity gaps create tension, which builds interest and heightens retention.

Create tension to earn time from your audience. @DrewDavisHere #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Take them through wanting to needing to know.

The need for closure comes after you’ve built up the right tension.

He also said that your content must deliver what was promised. The payoff must be proportional to what was built.

However, this success element can be used for good or evil.

Andrew said, don’t do clickbait. Instead, earn attention by inviting our audience to chase answers. Don’t leave your audience with zero questions. For example: Testimonials and case studies have NO tension. Some big brands have spent $2.6 million on creating hundreds of these ugly, boring testimonial reels.

Think like a reality TV editor.

Learn to raise the stakes. Show the audience something they love and threaten it.

Excellent talk, Andrew!

4. When It Comes to Content, Focus on Results > Attention (Featuring A CoSchedule Case Study)

One of my top favorite breakout sessions at this year’s CMWorld was from Garrett Moon (CEO of CoSchedule), on How to Find Your Content Core & Actually Drive Revenue from Content.

He opened his talk with a convicting statement: Our success metrics are wrong. We focus on attention instead of results.

Our success metrics are wrong. We focus on attention instead of results. @garrett_moon of @CoSchedule #CMWorld Click To Tweet

A simple framework for content success can make all the difference. He recommends a content core. At CoSchedule, content marketing is 100% their engine for growth (much like how it is for us at Express Writers!).

One of Garrett’s most impactful point was a case study of one of the most successful posts in terms of conversion, vs. their highest “shared” post. Shares do not equal conversions! What a wake-up call.

Garrett recommends doing your due diligence in keyword research and strategic thinking before publishing a post, to make sure it fits into the content core, a sweet spot between what your audience cares about + the value your business provides.

  • Your product needs to fit into your content.
  • The softer your CTAs, the softer your sales. Have a direct connection.
  • Connect your content to the value your company provides. This is the extra step BESIDES creating great content that people care about.
  • Orient your blog around one call to action.
  • Optimize to amplify what’s working.

I loved his point about a CTV > CTA: Joanna Wiebe calls her CTAs a Call to Value, not Call to Action.

An example of a CTV: “Find the best marketing tool for the job in 20 minutes.” This shares the value in signing up for CoSchedule for a free trial (the CTA).

Garrett recommends target customer interviews. This is a GENIUS way to interview a customer: CoSchedule gets their guest invited to their podcast and then spends 10 minutes asking them questions. Getting real pain points from an interview net you a deep, high-level place to write for your audience from.

The audience Q&As sparked some great answers from Garrett, as well. I wrote a few notes down just from this 10-minute session at the end.

Q: Is there trust lost if you’re doing CTAs in each blog?

CoSchedule’s CTAs are to a free piece of content, so they don’t do a “hard sell.” This is important. They don’t try to get them on a demo right now. If they can get the reader to think like they do, it will lead them down the customer path. You can do more than you think and not break that trust.

Q. What about paid vs. organic traffic?

CoSchedule does not do any paid promotion. It’s not enough to get people to see your content. If you’re paying for that traffic, you’re throwing money out the window if your conversions are zero. Garrett says his brand targets organic search completely. (Another reason I love CoSchedule! We believe the same about organic search > paid traffic.)

5. Don’t Fret About Email Unsubscribes — #NotMyDoris

Ann Handley delivered an amazing keynote called, “What Gives? How a Reader Challenge Kicked Me in the Patootie (and What We Can Learn From It)!”, and it was awesome.

During CMWorld ’18 and right before her keynote on this topic, Ann was also awarded with CMI’s very first Hall of Fame Hero Award, an exciting moment for all of us watching.

I loved Ann’s face when she won this award. She was totally taken by surprise. #ourhero

Ann discussed how a reader from Amsterdam asked her “do you have a secret email list?” She realized the importance of consistent email campaigns, and now sends out a bi-weekly Sunday email.

Ann shared three reasons why email is a content marketing backbone:

1. Newsletters are the OG.

2. Newsletters done well = 🔥

3. Email is the only place where people, not algorithms, are in control.

She gave us some history: in 1439, humankind was served its first ad. The first printing press came about in 59 BC. The first “media” was a gossipy column providing news about Romans and their day-to-day lives, printed under the byline Julius Caesar.

Ann said that in today’s newsletters and mail campaigns, the most important part of the newsletter is the LETTER.

The most important part of your newsletter is the LETTER. @annhandley #CMWorld #Recap #Bestof Click To Tweet

We like letters that make us feel like we matter, Ann said. Great point.

Warren Buffet’s annual letter to shareholders was addressed to his wife, Doris, and read like a fun, interesting letter.

Ann says:

  • Write to Doris
  • And don’t fret about “not my Doris”

Meaning, don’t worry about the haters or the unsubscribes.

Love it!

6. Reframe Obstacles into Opportunities

One of my favorite talks of the entire week was from photographer Dewitt Jones, who spent 20 years with National Geographic taking photographs all around the world. His home is on top of a mountain in a Hawaii island. Dewitt lives to catch moments that portray the beauty of life.

He was a truly inspiring speaker (a top-rated lecturer). I typically never get emotional listening to someone speak, but I was nearly in tears at the end of this talk — it was that beautiful.

Reframe obstacles into opportunities. There is no one right answer.

The picture above — incredibly beautiful — was his case study on this point. He waited too long on a field of dandelions for pictures and got that incredible shot.

Dewitt says instead of asking, What will I take today? ask, What will I give today?

Celebrate what’s right in the situation. Life is about continually finding the next right answer. Keeping our extraordinary vision in focus.

What’s your extraordinary vision?

7. Make Your Content Mean Something

One keynote I really enjoyed was called Making Content Mean Something, and the speaker was Kathleen Diamantakis, Managing Director of Strategy at The NY Times.

I took one point away from this talk that was critical.

Kathleen first raised a really good point: Nike’s controversial ad revealed that we are looking for more meaning in our content.

My favorite takeaway from her talk: Content has become noise. Let’s not add to the noise. Let’s create meaningful content.

Build content that has meaning. - Kathleen from @TBrandStudio & NYTimes, at #CMWorld Click To Tweet

8. Human Connections & Knowing Your Audience Will Help You Outperform AI  

Hannah, our Content Director, caught an important session called The Future of Content. Speaking was Pete Winter, Managing Partner USA, Tomorrow People.

These were our favorite takeaways from Pete’s session:

  • You don’t need to outrun the tiger, you just need to outrun the other person in the jungle with you
  • The key to understanding your audience is a human connection that AI can’t do (yet)
  • The most important part of content creation is understanding your audience and what they want
The key to understanding your audience is a human connection that AI can't do (yet), says @petejwinter of tomorrow-people.com #CMWorld #recap @HannahDarlingEW Click To Tweet

How well do you actually know your audience? Well, Pete says, you need to know more about your target audience than they know about themselves.

He recommended knowing your audience’s:

  • demographics
  • what their challenges are
  • where they hang out
  • what their business plans are
  • what their needs are
  • what language do they use, words, terms
  • what does success look like
  • what is stopping them from achieving success

How?

  • Ask them directly!
  • Use social media (great way to see what questions are being asked!) hashtags are a great way.
  • Industry publications: magazines and blogs relevant to your audience.
  • Network. Go to events like this and build connections. Find out what problems they’ve faced.

Tina Fey Shared Some Great Writing Tips

Sadly, I had to take a flight home and missed getting to see Tina Fey. 😢But I watched the CMWorld tweets, and this quote would have to be my favorite: “What all writers know is that writing is the worst.” Especially GOOD writing. Good writing is hella hard.

Conclusion: CMWorld ’18 Was Awesome & We Learned a Lot

A cool panorama I took from the main stage audience seats.

This year’s Content Marketing World was not one to miss. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

If you’re going to CMWorld ’19, connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s say hi next year. I will definitely be there!

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content marketing and sales funnel

How to Connect Your Content Marketing to the Sales Funnel (Without Being Sleazy & Turning Off Your Audience)

Here’s a truth for all content marketers: connecting your content marketing to the sales funnel is easy to ignore, but important to do.

You need a sales strategy for your content if you’re trying to generate brand awareness, increase engagement, or sell more products or services from the content you publish.

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And now, to continue my habit of staying brutally honest with you, here’s a second truth when it comes to content marketing and a typical sales funnel…

  • Written online content, when done well, is valuable, relevant, and attractive to your leads (a.k.a real humans)
  • Many “sales funnels” are sleazy, downright annoying, and sometimes paint a false picture just to gain your money

So, today, we’re not talking about the sleazy kind of funnel built inside of software with a surrounding campaign of 15 annoying emails and a “timer” on your money. (See my vlog on the Content Strategy & Marketing Course site to learn just how anti- sleazy sales funnel I am.)

We’re talking about the physical strategies behind attaching your content marketing to sales.

This sales funnel is critical. Having a low or zero connection from your content to sales can mean low or no sales. And that’s something you (or/and your boss) definitely don’t want to experience after investing in and publishing content.

Never fear, we’ve got you covered today with a new, engaging way of looking at how content marketing drives sales, sure to help you achieve your marketing goals.

Ready for the big reveal?

content marketing and sales funnel guide

The Bucket List: 3 Way to Stronger Sales Through Content

Who doesn’t love a bucket? Buckets are fun!

You can fill them with sand at the beach to build a sand castle, use them to carry your shampoo into the shower, plant them with flowers, or use them in any number of creative ways to enhance your life.

But in content marketing and sales conversion, buckets are critical.

Using our unique three-bucket strategy to fill in your online strategy and built a well-developed intricate castle of content will help supercharge your sales and boost your content’s ROI. Read my full post explaining the three-bucket topic strategy.

Each bucket represents a goal you need to achieve for outstanding keyword research and online content success.

Three-bucket topic strategy

As the image shows, you’ll want to work on filling your buckets with strong content for three main goals:

  • SEO rankings
  • Sales and connections
  • Brand awareness

This is the step that most brand strategists gloss over in a hurry to get out there and start creating content.

But skipping the bucket step would be a mistake.

This is the foundation for your content marketing sales process and the one that’s going to make sure your return on investment (ROI) is sky-high.

Let’s look at it this way.

According to Wolfgang Digital’s 2017 report on e-commerce, the average conversion rate was 1.56%.

That means in order to get high ROI content out there, you must assist your visitors at every lifecycle stage — even the one that comes before the funnel!

So, let’s see what we should put in each of our buckets.

Discover a new, engaging way of looking at how content marketing drives sales that is sure to help you achieve your marketing goals in today's blog via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Bucket #1: SEO Rankings

At this stage, you’ll want to fill your bucket with all the keywords you want to rank for.

three-buckets-goals-for-setting-ROI-1-circle

You don’t have to be super-focused, but you do want to have a good understanding of keywords that are hot in your industry.

Want to learn the ins and outs of SEO content writing? You need to check out my new writing course!

After you get a solid number of keywords, you can fill your bucket to the brim by including broad match or broad stem keywords for this task.

Broad stem keywords are relevant variations of your keywords that will help your website attract more visitors.

They’ll also save you time on building lists of keywords before you get a good persona in place (more on that later).

These keyword variations include singular and plural forms, synonyms, stemmings (such as make and making), related searches, and even possible misspellings.

You can generate these on your own or use a Keyword Variation Tool, as shown below.

Once you’ve filled this bucket, move on to the next step.

Bucket #2: Sales and Connections

Here’s where you start to delve into the area where sales and content marketing become fully integrated.

This is where you’ll build the kind of engagement and connections that drive sales and keep clients coming back for more.

Take time here to focus on how you’re going to build trust. To do this, you can put a wide variety of things in this bucket, including:

  • Company announcements and product reveals
  • Interviews with top influencers
  • Spotlight on how your employees work as a team
  • A case study focused on customer success
  • Customer-focused interviews or articles

There’s really no end to this kind of content that focuses on developing a personal relationship with your prospects.

A personal relationship is going to give a tremendous boost to brand awareness — which brings us to the final bucket.

Bucket #3: Brand Awareness

This is one big bucket.

Brand awareness helps your content generate more sales leads per impression and leads to enduring customer loyalty, which then translates into repeat business.

In fact, working hard on determining how to fill this bucket properly ensures you’ll get the maximum Lifetime Value (LTV) from your customers.

In a nutshell, LTV represents the amount of money generated by a customer over their lifetime.

The screenshot from smile.io shows an easy way to calculate this for your business. You start with the first calculation:

Then build on it, for the final figure:

But, to get high LTV, you need to boost loyalty. To boost loyalty, you must become a resource that your customer trusts.

You can increase loyalty through a number of tactics, including:

  • Outstanding customer service (and content that promotes it)
  • Rewards and loyalty programs
  • Customer content marketing that focuses on trust-building

A great example of a company that wows in the loyalty department is Apple.

Apple has filled their third bucket with extensive brand-awareness-focused content that perpetuates their stronghold on owners of their products.

In fact, their brand awareness campaign is so effective that 59% of iPhone owners responding to a survey claimed they bought their phone out of “blind loyalty.”

As this screenshot demonstrates, die-hard Apple customers buy Apple products — no matter what.

Now that’s the kind of loyalty — and sales — you want your content to generate.

This is only possible by building a strong pre-funnel strategy that will help your content follow your customers, hand-in-hand, guiding them through the sales funnel.

Now that you’ve gotten a broad outline of what you need to know before you even consider building a sales funnel, you’re ready to move from the bucket to funnel itself.

If you want more details on how to develop a strong three-bucket topic strategy — and a sales-producing funnel — visit my comprehensive course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

The 4 Fundamentals of the Content Marketing Funnel

Sales and marketing are not only about crunching numbers and researching tactics. They’re dynamic and ever-changing – just like your audience.

And there’s no reason that content marketing that drives sales, even for dry, data-heavy businesses — can’t be creative and out-of-the-box.

In a word, fun.

As Pratik Dohlakiya of Copyblogger so aptly put it:

There is no boring content, only boring content creators.

The idea of creating content brings us to the very top of our funnel – the widest part.

Before you peek over the lip of that funnel, though, you’ll want to tackle the most critical task for this segment — finding your audience.

1) Build It So They Will Come

You want to build your funnel so that your audience is irresistibly drawn to take the next step in the customer’s journey — the journey that will lead them directly to your product or service.

The first step in this journey is a doozy — and it’s one of the most interesting and fun parts of how a sales funnel works — determining who your audience is.

Unfortunately, it’s one of the most often-missed steps in building a content marketing funnel that converts.

So, how do you figure out who you’re creating content for and connect them to sales?

You build a persona. The one, below, is from xtensio.

A persona is a conglomeration of attributes that make up an “average” member of your target audience. It includes demographic and psychographic elements.

But here’s the thing — even those content marketers and brand strategists that make it this far often use outdated information for their persona.

Don’t do it.

Don't rely on an outdated persona. Get out there and interact with your real audience. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Get out there and interact with your real audience. Explore forums and chat rooms. Meet them in person. Ask them questions on your website. Develop surveys to find out what makes them tick.

Then — and only then — can you create marketing content that leads to sales.

Examples of great content marketing formats for building brand awareness are:

  • Blog posts
  • Long-form content
  • Guides
  • Interactive content
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Courses
  • Email newsletters

Want a real-world example of persona-centered marketing content?

You’re reading it right now.

At Express Writers, we’re not trying to only sell you a service or two in our blog posts.

We truly want you to succeed at content marketing and build an awesome sales funnel that drives traffic better than a cowboy moves Longhorns down Exchange Avenue.

Because – surprise! – that will actually prepare you to be a great client when you come our way. 😉

But, if you ever get stuck creating or need more content than you can generate, we hope that you’ll see us as a knowledgeable source of crazy good writing.

You know, the people who know so much about the realm of content marketing that you won’t have to waste time — or money — telling us how to do it.

Anyway, enough about us. So, now, you’ve defined your customer and created an entire array of targeted content just for them.

It’s strong. It’s sturdy. It’s a houseful of authoritative content.

They’re interested in you.

You’ve demonstrated your authority and they feel comfortable relying on you for accurate information on what moves them.

Time to squeeze down into the next funnel level, pulling your audience even closer to you. Think of it as a content marketing bear hug.

2) They’re Here — Now What?

You’ve got your audience thinking hard about what you offer.

But buyers are taking even longer to educate themselves before making a sales decision, so don’t rush things here.

They already buy into your authority, but now you want them to really focus on the ways that you stand out from your competition.

Often called the “consideration” phase, this time period is the perfect opportunity to publish hard-core authority pieces like how-to content, tutorial videos, and even case studies where your product or service was able to help someone just like them.

I say, “and even case studies,” but I mean, “You should really think about using case studies.”

Here’s why. In an RSW/US survey of US agency executives, client case studies and website-resident content marketing were most often used promotional tactics for generating leads, with 62.6% of respondents using them with success.

Influencer Neil Patel would agree, as he claims to have increased his ratio of deal closings by 70%. In fact, he says sales grew 185% overall by testing three case studies on his site.

If case studies don’t seem like a good match for your business, don’t sweat it. This is supposed to be fun, remember?

Besides, a brief customer success story with statistics can make a great mini-case study.

Like this one:

If you don’t have any testimonials, dig deep into product benefits and create some content that showcases them.

Put yourself into your customers’ shoes and ask:

“What would make me buy this product/service?”

Then, create content that helps them reach the decision that they need your help.

Put yourself in your customers' shoes and ask, what would make me buy this product or service? @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Think interactive (fun!) content, as it packs more punch.

This kind of content, which can include quizzes, configurators, apps, assessments, and more generates conversions at 70%, rather than the 36% seen with passive content.

And, let’s face it. Interactive content boosts the fun factor on your website — and boosts sales and engagement as well.

There are easy ways to create stunning infographics and interactive content without having to spend hours searching images only to end up with something that looks cobbled together.

Here’s a link to some of those tools. You’re welcome!

And here’s an example of a piece of fun, interactive content made up by Orbitz to appeal specifically for their business traveler persona.

Remember, you can still be picking up cues regarding pain points at this point of the funnel.

This isn’t the time to be shy — step right up and tell your clients how your strategy can help them tackle their pain points and problems.

During this phase, you’ll start narrowing your focus, honing your product or service down to its most important attributes.

This narrowing process further squeezes your audience through the funnel, weeding out the tire-kickers and ho-hum shoppers and leaving you with a core group of hot prospects.

Now, the real fun begins! Ready?

3) The Big Finish: How Content Marketing Leads to Sales

Your audience is primed.

They know they’re interested in what you’re selling — you just need to offer them a bit more content to get them to take the final step in the sales funnel — conversion.

You finally get to make a direct pitch.

It’s the place that puts the “sales” in “sales funnel.”

Here, you can show how your products or service clearly help your clients solve their problems by outlining your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as clearly as possible.

This is the perfect place to put all those glowing testimonials, video clips of satisfied clients, and screenshots of online reviews. Like this one:

And don’t forget a clear call-to-action (CTA).

For content marketing to increase sales, you must include direct requests for customers to purchase, click, download, or engage.

Don't forget a clear CTA with a direct link to a clear action. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4) The Fun Never Ends — How to Increase Retention and Sales with Content Marketing

Strong relationships with your customers are not only fun — they’re profitable.

Strong relationships with your customers are not only fun - they're profitable. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

While you a new customer might buy something 5% of the time, a repeat customer will make a purchase 60%-70% of the time.

That translates into higher ROI, so repeat customers should be a goal. This picture from smile.io gives you another way to look at it.

There it is. The more customers buy — the more they buy!

And there are other things you can do at this stage to improve ROI.

For example, even if you reduce customer loss (when your customers decide to stop doing business with you) by just 5%, you will increase revenue by 100%.

And marketing costs? Check this out — a customer retention rates of just 2% more translate into 10% less cost in marketing.

Now, that’s ROI in action.

And when you’re learning how to design a sales funnel, it’s the cherry on the top, or in this case, the bottom, of the funnel.

Content you create for your die-hard fans is some of the most rewarding of all, a nice way to celebrate helping your clients achieve their dreams and solve their problems.

Examples of content that drives loyalty includes:

  • Special offers
  • Email outreach
  • Insider tips and tricks
  • Special offers
  • Customer support and help documentation

And what’s totally cool about this final process is that through learning more about your audience through outreach and support, you’re adding to an environment where sales and content marketing become fully integrated.

Because the new pain points and problem areas you discover through outreach will allow you to create even more targeted content that can drive future sales.

This screenshot from Wordstream says it all:

Your outreach may even touch a nerve for some of the clients you lost in the middle of the funnel and sweep them back along for the ride.

From Bucket to Funnel: Your New Roadmap for a Content Marketing Sales Cycle that Performs

Now you’ve got a new, exciting way to guide your visitors through your sales funnel with dynamic, proven content marketing strategies.

Take these tips and individualize them to your process for best results!

If you want to really dig deep into how to create — and deploy — this kind of sales-producing strategy, visit my comprehensive courseThe Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

You’ll find everything you need to know laid out for you in brilliant detail to make getting sales-funnel savvy easy — and of course, fun!

Don’t let an uninspired content marketing and sales funnel interfere with getting the highest ROI possible — learn to create content and planning for all stages of the customer sales funnel lifecycle and watch your business boom.

If you’re in the market to learn more about SEO content writing, you need my new course. Sign up to get notified when it launches here.

content marketing ideas

Content Marketing Ideas: Use My Three-Bucket Topic Strategy to Map Your Topics to Profits (Every Time)

As a content marketer, part of your job probably includes constantly and consistently coming up with content topics.

And not just any topics — you need ones that will resonate with your audience and earn ROI for your brand or your clients.

But, if you’re like most marketers, you are not a never-ending idea machine.

We’re all human.

We can’t rely only on our finite brains for infinite content marketing ideas — although we should absolutely be pulling from our own creative geniuses within.

Need great content? Click here to see our prices, or register as a client here.

But how do we jumpstart these ideas in an effective, productive manner?

Great news:

There ARE data-backed, key ways to come up with high-ROI content marketing ideas.

You don’t have to brainstorm until you feel like you’re brain-dead.

You can and should rely on proven tools, workflows, and strategies for truly never-ending and always-profitable topic ideation.

That’s right:

Never-ending. Always profitable.

really gif

Don’t believe me? You will soon. Let me prove it to you.

content marketing ideas guide

7 Steps to Achieve a Flood of Never-Ending, Creative Content Marketing Ideas

These are fail-safe strategies for coming up with endless, steady streams of content topics, ones that will never dry up.

Never.

Ready to find out what they are?

Learn data-backed, key ways to come up with high-ROI content marketing ideas via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

1. Use My Three-Bucket Topic Strategy for Topic Ideas Connected to Goals

Before you do anything else, make sure the topics you choose are related to your overarching content goals.

This way, you always know for sure that the content you create will lead to ROI.

For my content marketing, I came up with something I call “three-bucket topic strategy.” (I also teach this, step-by-step with hands-on video training and exercise worksheets, in my comprehensive Content Strategy & Marketing Course.)

These are the “goal buckets” I rely on to guide all initial topic ideation:Three-bucket topic strategy

Every single piece of content I create should serve one of three purposes:

  • Build SEO rankings
  • Build sales & connections
  • Build brand awareness

Each topic bucket calls for a different content type. For example, to build my SEO rankings, I should create blogs and web pages around profitable long tail keywords.

Three-bucket topic strategy

Note that I don’t just throw out random ideas in a panic-ridden brainstorm session. (“Ohmygosh I’m running out of content topics – Aaaaah!”)

panic

I never panic–anymore. (I used to. Learn more about my story in my free masterclass.)

I always, always, ALWAYS refer to my topic buckets to guide content topic ideation.

I call this a “three-bucket strategy mapped to goal areas.”

Here’s a chart of how that looks:

Three bucket topic strategy mapped to goals

If a topic has no potential to hit one of my goal buckets, I trash it and move on. That topic will not bring in any ROI or help me meet my goals. Next!

Your own goals for your content might look different from mine. Think hard about what’s most important to achieve with content marketing for you/your client. Narrow these desired achievements down to three or four core goal buckets.

Also, remember that no idea should be too sacred to scrap. It doesn’t matter how much you like it or how trendy it seems, or even how much engagement others are getting from posting content about it.

If it doesn’t fit into YOUR goal buckets, it’s not a profitable content topic for you.

If your topic idea doesn’t fit into YOUR goal buckets, it’s not a profitable content topic for you. Trash it and move on. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Find Broad Seed Keywords to Begin

To complete any of the research steps for finding content marketing topics, first, you must have a broad stem topic in hand (also called a “seed keyword”).

This is simply a place to start. Usually, you’ll have no trouble coming up with a broad term (like “content marketing,” “SEO,” or “content writing”).

If your mind goes completely blank, however, use these techniques to find your starting point:

A. Use Google’s autocomplete feature. Just go to the Google search bar and type in the broadest industry term possible to find more options.

google-autocompleteB. Try KeywordTool.io. You can search a broad term and the tool will spit out a long list of hundreds of related terms for free.

keywordtool-ideas

3. Use Long Tail Keywords to Generate Unique Content Marketing Ideas

Again, if you throw out random topic ideas for content, you can’t be sure that they’ll lead to ROI.

You need to start from a research angle to come up with topics. Base your topics on quantifiable data, and you’ll almost always be able to map them to your goals and bottom-line.

The first research angle is keyword research. From one long tail keyword, you potentially can create dozens of topics.

This is the general workflow:

A. Open your favorite keyword research tool. For this example, I’m using Mangools’ KWFinder.

B. Enter the content topic stem you want to explore. I’m going to search for “SEO writing.”

C. Look for high search volume/low competition alternatives, synonyms, and related keywords. Make a list of at least 20. (With help from KWFinder, I see that some of my options include “SEO writing,” “SEO content writing,” “SEO copywriting,” and “SEO article writing.”)

kw-research1

D. Keep an ongoing list of all the keywords you find. Group them by the initial term you searched. Include their difficulty score and search volume.

E. Choose one keyword from the list. Generate 5-10 content topics from that one term. Write them all down, and don’t leave any out. Even if your ideas don’t seem very good, record them. You can tweak them later/scrap them if they don’t fit into one of your content goal buckets.

F. If brain fog is rampant (or you haven’t had enough caffeine), use a blog topic generator to get the flow started. HubSpot’s tool is excellent for this. Just enter a few keywords and hit “Give me blog ideas!”

hubspot-blog-topic-generator1

The tool will help you come up with lots of topics. To keep adding to the list, riff on the ones the generator suggests.

hubspot-blog-topic-generator2

4. Use What Works for Others (Repurpose, Don’t Rehash)

This topic ideation technique puts inspiration into action. Use it to find website content ideas that are already working well with readers.

The basic gist: Look at top sites in your industry to see what they’re producing. Then pull from top posts and create content on a similar topic. The key is to make the topics you discover this way your own, using fresh insights and research.

This is how:

A. Look at top industry websites for their most recent content posts. What are they writing about? Which posts/topics are getting the most engagement?

Look at the actual website (most big blogs have a “top posts” toggle view), or search BuzzSumo for a specific website’s top-shared posts.

buzzsumo-content-analyzer

B. Search BuzzSumo for topics that get a lot of love from readers. Enter a broad industry category in the search bar, then read the most-shared posts for inspiration.

These are the top results for “SEO writing” – what trends do you see happening here, just from skimming the headlines? Write those down.

buzzsumo-topic-search

C. From what you’ve read, determine how you can put your own spin on the topic(s) you find. Think about these things:

Do you have anything new to add to the discussion?

  • Is there any new research on the topic you can highlight?
  • Do you have a different opinion about the topic from ones you’re seeing?
  • Is there an angle of the topic that remains largely forgotten or ignored?
  • Can you write a better, more comprehensive post about the topic?

D. Write down your topic ideas from the above prompts. Add them to your ongoing topic ideas list.

5. Poll the People

Your audience/social media followers/blog commenters are a fantastic source of content marketing ideas for use in a campaign.

Essentially, you’re going directly to the source to find out what they want to see in your content. It’s fail-safe.

There are many ways to pick the brains of your audience members for ideas:

A. Flat-out ask them their main concerns/problems/questions in a social media post. Invite responses and see what people say. Record the subjects and topics they mention.

B. Create a social media poll to get more specific answers. You can easily create these types of informal polls on all the big platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Stories.

For instance, ask your audience to choose between two or three potential topics. Ask which one interests them the most.

create-twitter-poll

It’s super fast and easy, and people love engaging with these posts and sharing their opinion.

C. Search for industry hashtags on social media. Write down the subtopics people are chatting about.

D. Check question-and-answer sites like Quora, Reddit, or Answer the Public. Dig into the data you find at these places and jot down all possible content topics.

For example, when I search Reddit for the seed topic “SEO writing,” the list of results includes communities talking about the topic, question-and-answer threads, and posts on the topic.

reddit-topic-research

On Answer the Public, I get even more great data, including visualization charts of related topics and terms:

answer-the-public-seo-writingE. Engage with people on social. Comment on others’ posts and have conversations. Dig into your community and see what insights you can glean. Plus, the more you build relationships, the more you’ll create a web of people who will be willing to answer your calls for ideas.

You never know what you’ll learn from simply talking to people, so don’t be afraid to jump in.

F. Chat one-on-one. If you’re engaging with a certain person quite a bit on social media, whether it’s a peer or a customer, ask if you can email/chat one-on-one. Pick their brain, exchange ideas, and add any topics that come up to your ongoing list.

6. Run All Topic Ideas Past Your Topic/Goal Buckets

By now, you should have quite an impressive list of potential content marketing ideas.

Before you take any one of them for a spin, run them past your topic/goal buckets. See if they fit.

If you can’t make the topic fit into any of them, toss it. Cross it out and move on to the next.

Once you hit a topic that does fit into one of your goal buckets, you can move on to additional research/content creation, including outlining, drafting, choosing sources, and editing. Here’s my three-bucket topic strategy mapping chart again.

Three bucket topic strategy mapped to goals

7. Repeat the Process

It’s your lucky day.

This content marketing idea process can be repeated over and over. Just plug in various seed topics to get the ball rolling. As you go, you’ll find new angles and subtopics you would never have discovered on your own.

Pretty soon, you’ll have a list of hundreds of B2B content marketing ideas just from this handful of research tactics.

The key is to write them all down (even the seemingly crappy ideas – hey, they’re a start) and keep that running list in a safe place. This list will become an integral tool for your content creation process.

And, because you’re vetting each topic against your goal buckets, you have a proven method to whittle down your content to ONLY what will be profitable for your brand.

(Yessssss!)

yesss

Revolutionize the Way You Generate Content Marketing Ideas in 2018 and Beyond

It’s time to stop hoping, wishing, and praying for content marketing examples and ideas to fall out of the sky and into your lap.

Instead, use a strategy that depends on real data and research to ideate topics.

This method will lead to ROI far more often than scratching your head and attempting to come up with something from nothing.

Start somewhere to get somewhere.

Then, rinse and repeat.

You’ll never run out of content marketing ideas again.

julia mccoy masterclass

how to build evergreen content

How to Build Evergreen Content That Actually Builds Your Brand: 5+ Tips, Tricks and Methods to Get Started Today

Evergreen content is magical. ✨

Why? It never loses its green.

While lots of other types of content eventually turn brown, lose their readers, and die off, evergreen content remains fresh, interesting, and relevant.

It’s always green, and it keeps bringing in the green – whether that means traffic, engagement, conversions, or even sales.

CTA-EW-02

So, the question at hand is not whether you need it.

Let’s face it:  you do.

If you haven’t yet…

The question now is how to build evergreen content that is actually forever green. 

Today on the blog, I’m answering that question. Let’s dive in.

how to build evergreen content

First: What’s the Opposite of Evergreen Content?

Evergreen content has a polar opposite, and it’s important to define that as we get started.

Content that is fleeting or quickly dated because it’s based on current stats, trends, news, or data is not evergreen.

Some examples:

  • Announcements and event summaries
  • Blogs discussing trends in your industry
  • News stories
  • Holiday or season-centered posts (with exceptions)

The information in these types of content has an expiration date. They will cease being useful after a certain point in time.

Meanwhile, evergreen content is always useful, relevant, and valuable, even if a reader stumbles on your content months, or even years, after you publish it.

A good mix of both is a healthy way to publish content on your website.

Take a look at how Content Marketing Institute mixes up the two on their blog:

cmi-evergreen-content-vs-dated

5 Evergreen Content Examples and Topics with Everlasting Life

Before we get into how to build evergreen content, let’s look at some examples in action.

These evergreen content topics are tried-and-true, as you’ll see from the blogs below.

1. How-To Blogs and Articles

A good, evergreen how-to post teaches your readers a concept, idea, or skill that has lasting value. It’s something they can refer to over and over, now and in the future.

Copyblogger – “How to Get More Value Out of the Content You Consume”

Copyblogger has lots of examples of great how-to posts. One that has lasting value is their blog on how to judiciously consume content.

copyblogger-how-to

2. Curated Content Lists

Curated content lists have a lasting value up to a point – they may include tools or tips that can lose relevancy. But, as long as you update them to reflect changing technology, you’ll have a solid evergreen post that will last and last with little effort.

Social Media Examiner – “18 Apps and Tools for Social Media Marketers”

This post from Social Media Examiner is a perfect example of a curated list. If any of the tools become obsolete or outdated, they can update the post on an as-needed basis.

socialmediaexaminer-list

3. Stories/Interviews

Stories and interviews have lasting value as content because they tap into the wisdom of thought leaders, innovators, or pioneers in the industry.

Or, think of it this way: Storytelling never goes out of style. People love hearing about people, so including real human stories in your content has evergreen value.

Content Marketing Institute – “’Stay Scrappy’ and More Wisdom on Creativity from a Pixar Animator”

Pixar is a successful animation studio known for its innovation, creativity, and storytelling chops. This interview with a Pixar animator by Marcia Riefer Johnson for CMI showcases how you can successfully glean inspiration and wisdom from creators across industries. This information will stay relevant for a long time.

cmi-story-interview

4. Original Research/Case Studies

Despite the fact that the data they present will eventually become dated, case studies and original research are definitely evergreen content for two reasons:

  1. 1. You can pull universal truths from them – strategies, techniques, or steps that others can learn from.
  2. 2. They tell a story.

These two factors are universally valuable, no matter the date of the study/research.

EW – “Blogging ROI Case Study: How 18,000 Keywords in Google Bring Us Six-Figure Income Months”

For our own case study here at EW, I get transparent and share how we have grown our success using blogging, SEO, and content strategy.

(This particular piece of content pulls double evergreen duty – it includes an interview with one of our top clients, too.)

ew-case-study

5. FAQs + Answers to Common Industry Questions

Odds are, people/customers new to your industry or brand ask a LOT of the same questions.

This lets you assume there is a base of knowledge you can share that has lasting value for ALL newbies who come through your door.

Hence, the FAQ post. In this content type, you list the most frequently asked questions you receive from said newbies, then offer definitive answers.

Search Engine Watch – “Duplicate Content FAQ: What Is It and How Should You Deal with It?”

SEOers get regular questions about the mysteries of Google search regularly. This post smartly addresses a general topic area (duplicate content and the effect it has on SEO) and answers FAQs that many confused marketers ask over and over.

searchenginewatch-faqs

How to Build Evergreen Content

It’s time to get down to creating evergreen content. Our best tips to get started are right here:

1. Write for Beginners When Building Your Topic

For any type of content creation, you need to have an audience firmly in mind before you begin.

However, when building evergreen content, you should hone in on beginners to your topic vs. any other group.

Why?

Because these are the people most likely to be searching for help. And, above all, evergreen content is helpful and useful for the long-term.

2. Narrow Your Focus

If you attempt to explain a topic that’s too broad in your evergreen content… Well, you could be writing for weeks.

Take, for example, a topic like World War II.

This is a huge, sprawling topic that has innumerable sub-topics. For example, which year or span of years during WWII are getting your attention? Will you approach the topic from the viewpoint of the Nazis, the Allies, the Axis, or the Americans? What countries will you cover? Which battles/attacks? Which leaders?

Screenshot via Wikipedia

Behemoth topics like this one are also harder for readers to immediately latch onto. There are too many rabbit holes, wormholes, and tangents you can fall down, here.

Instead, dive deep and create content around a narrower facet of a topic.

For instance, instead of attempting to write a start-to-finish guide to content marketing (this requires a book-length amount of work – I should know), choose a sub-topic to explore thoroughly, like finding your audience or blog post promotion.

3. Ask Yourself: “Will This Be Useful in a Year? 2 Years? 5?”

This one is simple. If your evergreen content idea won’t be useful or valuable at least a year from now, it’s not actually evergreen.

Think long and hard about the utility of the information you want to offer. Will it expire before the year is up? Or will it carry on proudly into 2 years… or even 5 years??

If you can justify it staying valuable and relevant that long, you have a golden evergreen opportunity.

4. Air It Out: Share (and Re-Share) Evergreen Content on Social Media

Good news: Social media is the perfect place to give your evergreen content a good airing.

Since this content is consistently relevant and valuable, you can share and re-share on your social networks and let it reach new audiences. It will help boost your brand authority, too, since these are big kahuna posts you spent lots of time perfecting.

So, go ahead: Create evergreen content, then, as time goes by, dig back into your archives and share them with your followers again

And again.

Sharing evergreen content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks is ALWAYS a good idea. We regularly do so on @ExpWriters Twitter account:

5. Update Old Posts to Keep Them Evergreen

Big tip:

You don’t just need to know how to write evergreen content…

You also need to know how to keep it evergreen.

It turns out, to stay evergreen, some content pieces need a little trimming, pruning, and reshaping now and then.

Think:

  • Content that cites old information or facts that science/research have disproven
  • Content that prominently mentions old trends or fads
  • Content that uses slang that’s no longer in use
  • Content that cites studies that have newer versions available

This is why content audits are so helpful.

Going over your older pieces, reviewing them for accuracy, and updating as needed is a great way to keep them fresh for new and old readers.

Plus, Google loves it. (Content freshness is a big ranking factor that connotes your page’s relevancy, according to Moz.)

moz-ranking-factors

The takeaway: Create evergreen content, then invest in keeping it fresh and updated for a one-two punch.

If you already have some pieces with evergreen potential, update them or rewrite parts of them to maximize their potential!

Learn How to Build Evergreen Content for Profitable Results

Content that’s evergreen is everlasting.

Its value never decreases. It never stops being relevant, useful, and interesting to your readers.

Plus, over time, new audiences will discover it. Its utility will be recycled, which will strengthen your brand.

It’s powerful stuff, no doubt.

Both evergreen content vs. content with a short shelf-life serve their purposes, but you need both to gain the benefits.

Invest in evergreen content, sprinkle it into your marketing garden, and watch your profits grow.

 

top 100 content marketers

The Top 100 Content Marketers (2018 Report)

Today, our Q2 content “project” for 2018 goes live! It was a big one: research and create a list of the top 100 influencers in our industry of content marketing.

Our key goal with this year’s “The Top 100 Content Marketers” was to create a current, accurate, and  real influencer list.

Since the Twitter purge the week of July 9, which caused millions and millions of accounts on Twitter to be deleted and removed from the platform, it’s becoming more relevant and necessary than ever to maintain a real presence on social media. Not a presence built by bots, fake followers, and an “overnight” rush of success – because “overnight” defines how long this success lasts, too. But a real, humanly-built, humanly-connected presence.

With this in mind, I wanted to research and create a list of 100 influencers for 2018 who have truly earned their place in content. Over 2.5 months of work and 50-70 hours of team work has gone into the research and final list of 100. I did the final report-gathering research and work, the team at BuzzSumo helped me along the way (thanks, Susan Moeller!), and a team copywriter helped me proof the list of 100 for any spam, as well as put all the bios together. Then, our editors proofread the copy while our designer put together a beautiful infographic and PDF. The designs were also proofread. Whew! This was a project and a half.

In today’s report, we want to give you a list of real people, doing real and wonderful things in our industry.

And to start, maybe we should define what an “influencer” really means.

These days, people aren’t putting their trust in one-off endorsements from celebrities or TV personalities. Instead, they’re choosing to trust people they can actually interact with, learn from, and admire: up close, and personal. And social media has made this all possible. Our favorite people are right there, within reach.

Those people you follow, look up to, and know from your Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds have major clout. Their sheer gravitas is enough to move people to act. That’s huge, and that’s the basis of influencer marketing. It’s more relevant than ever in 2018, as consumer preferences move farther and farther away from traditional ads (particularly Generation Z). Take a look at today’s “influencer types:”

sproutsocial_influencers

Image via Sprout Social

Before we get into our official Top 100 Content Marketer influencer list, let’s discuss the concepts on which we actually built the list.

(Need the PDF to download for later? Here it is.)

top 100 content marketers study

How Did We Build the List of Top 100 Content Marketers?

Our gross data points for this list were gathered on BuzzSumo, one of my favorite content intelligence tools.

  • We combined both the Top Authors and Top Influencers for “content marketing,” cross-examined the results on both lists, and merged them into one, final list.
  • We cleaned it up by removing accounts that had been suspended, had absolutely nothing to do with content marketing, or hadn’t tweeted about it in 5+ months.
  • The top 100 accounts in both Authors and Influencers for “content marketing,” with a clear direct focus on content marketing and digital/inbound marketing, and an active role in the content marketing field (CEO, VP, Director, Marketer) were included.
  • Fairness was important to us. We included teams and single marketers (a good balance of both women and men). Both teams and their team members had the opportunity to make the list. So, that’s why you’ll see both @Hubspot and a couple Hubspot writers/marketers on the list. We think that industry teams that work hard as a whole, as well as the individual people that really get behind moving content marketing inside the team, both deserve recognition.
Fairness to both teams and individual marketers, as well as looking for leaders that have been recently active in content marketing, was important in building our new #Top100ContentMarketers report. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

How Does BuzzSumo Populate Their “Search Influencers” Feature?

BuzzSumo combines and measures a lot of different data points to help you find influencers in an industry based on their Twitter profiles.

buzzsumo_search-influencers

Metrics that weigh into top-ranked include page authority, domain authority, total # of followers, real engagement: their retweet ratio, and more.

buzzsumo_influencer-data

The most important data point, however, is one BuzzSumo keeps under wraps: Relevancy.

According to Susan, the relevancy factor measures how accurately a Twitter influencer matches the user search. For example, if I search for influencers using the keyword “content marketing,” BuzzSumo returns a list based on their own relevancy score for those results.

We can surmise that this score depends on weighing all the factors together (total followers, domain authority, etc.) and ranking the results accordingly.

However, there are other, proprietary factors involved that BuzzSumo won’t disclose. In other words, they use a “secret sauce” to return relevant influencers during a search. And, this proprietary factor is what makes their tool so special. Personally, in the last seven years of doing content marketing full time I’ve tried dozens of other content analysis-based tools, and I consistently find BuzzSumo the most accurate (accurate on share counts, followers, and minimal spam).

Without further ado, we present The Top 100 Content Marketers for 2018. You can expand and scroll through the SlideShare embedded below, or download as a PDF and save for later.

Top 100 Content Marketers 2018 (Infographic)

Download as a PDF and save for later.

Top 100 Content Marketers 2018

top 100 content marketers CTA

Click on the @handles in the headers to open each profile in a new tab and follow on Twitter.

1.    Content Marketing Institute – @CMIContent

CMI is one of the top authorities in the industry. Their conferences, events, courses, and blog all highlight advice from experts, down-to-earth teaching, and a focus on advancing content marketing.

2.    Ann Handley – @MarketingProfs

Not only is Ann Handley the brains behind Marketing Profs – she’s also a pioneer of digital marketing, an inspiring speaker, and a best-selling author (Everybody Writes and Content Rules).

3.    Joe Pulizzi – @JoePulizzi

Another major name in the industry, Joe Pulizzi is the founder of CMI and a content marketing movement leader. He’s a speaker, an entrepreneur, and has authored go-to books like Epic Content Marketing, Content Inc., and Killing Marketing.

4.    Lilach Bullock – @lilachbullock

Lilach Bullock is a social media and lead generation machine. She shares her knowledge through speaking engagements, coaching, and consulting. Forbes named her one of the Top 20 Women Social Influencers in 2013.

5.    Moz – @Moz

Moz is an SEO juggernaut offering software, community, tools, and education to optimize your content and marketing.

6.    Jay Baer – @jaybaer

Jay Baer is the founder of Convince & Convert, a digital marketing consulting agency. He’s a renowned marketing expert, speaker, author, and industry leader.

7.    HubSpot – @HubSpot

HubSpot offers a suite of tools to manage sales, marketing, and CRM, but they also publish content, hold conferences, and foster community around content marketing.

8.    Mike Allton – @mike_allton

Mike Allton is a social media consultant and blogger, not to mention the brain behind The Social Media Hat, a resource for small businesses to stay up-to-date on social media marketing, SEO, and related topics.

9.    Mark Schaefer – @markwschaefer

Look no further than Mark Schaefer for expert advice on building your own brand identity. He’s a noted marketer, educator, speaker, and author (see: Known and The Content Code) who knows social media marketing inside-out.

10. Darren Rowse – @problogger

Want to learn about blogging profitably? Darren Rowse, the founder of ProBlogger, is your guy. He built his career around blogging and is an expert speaker, author, and podcaster on the topic.

11. Brian Clark – @brianclark

Copyblogger’s co-founder, Brian Clark, is your authority source on online content. He’s also an entrepreneur and author who has been in the trenches of content marketing, growing his ventures without advertising.

12. Rand Fishkin – @randfish

Moz’s former CEO, Rand Fishkin, is now half of the brains behind SparkToro, a software company for discovering where your audience lives online. He’s also an author (Lost and Founder), a speaker, and a champion of better marketing.

13. Glen Gilmore – @glengilmore

Glen Gilmore travels the world and helps Fortune 500 companies hone their digital marketing strategies. He’s also one of Forbes’ Top 20 Social Media Influencers.

14. CoSchedule – @CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a software company that helps you streamline your marketing management, planning, and workflows with a drag-and-drop calendar. Their blog has over 225,000 subscribers, probably because they provide practical advice and information to make your marketing better.

15. Crowdfire – @Crowdfire

Crowdfire is a social media management app that helps you schedule posts, optimize your accounts, and more. Their blog and Twitter feed are full of tidbits to improve your social media marketing.

16. Michael Brenner – @BrennerMichael

Along with his role as the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, Michael Brenner is also a keynote speaker, author, and customer-centric marketing proponent. His work has been featured in The Guardian, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Economist.

17. Contently – @contently

Contently is a content marketing management platform, a hub for hiring content creators, and an all-in-one service that takes you from strategy to published content. Their award-winning blog focuses on storytelling, strategy, trends, and more.

18. Tamara McCleary – @TamaraMcCleary

Tamara McCleary is the CEO and founder of Thulium, a company focused on social amplification for B2Bs and B2Cs. She’s a social influencer, a branding expert, and an IBM Futurist.

19. Lee Odden – @leeodden

TopRank Marketing’s CEO is Lee Odden. He’s also an author (Optimize), a top digital marketer, and an in-demand speaker and presenter on marketing topics.

20. Buffer – @buffer

Buffer is all about social media management. It’s software that helps you with scheduling posts, tracking analytics, and juggling your accounts. The company also publishes a steady stream of quality content about the ins and outs of social media marketing.

21. Christoph Trappe – @CTrappe

Christoph Trappe is a marketing expert who focuses on the power of storytelling, even calling himself “The Authentic Storyteller.” He’s one of Marketing Insider’s Top 25 Content Marketers, and is a globally recognized speaker.

22. Andy Crestodina – @crestodina

The co-founder of Orbit Media and the author of Content Chemistry, Andy Crestodina is a well-regarded content marketer and speaker.

23. Sonia Simone – @soniasimone

Sonia Simone heads up Rainmaker Digital as its Chief Content Officer and co-founder. She hosts the “Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer” podcast and offers advice, rants, and interviews from the marketing world.

24. Jason Miller – @jasonmillerca

Jason Miller is LinkedIn’s Content & Social Media Marketing Leader as well as a blogger, photographer, and author (Welcome to the Funnel).

25. Jay Acunzo – @jayacunzo

Jay Acunzo is a former digital media strategist for Google. His company, Unthinkable Media, helps B2Bs produce better podcasts. He also runs his own award-winning podcast, “Unthinkable,” which showcases people who have defied conventional thinking.

26. Aaron Orendorff – @AaronOrendorff

Aaron Orendorff has been published on virtually every major industry blog possible, including Fast Company, Inc., Content Marketing Institute, The Huffington Post, SalesForce, and Entrepreneur. He’s the Editor in Chief at Shopify Plus, and Forbes named him a Top 10 B2B Content Marketer.

27. Heidi Cohen – @heidicohen

Heidi authors The Actionable Marketing Guide blog, using her expertise from marketing gigs at Citibank, The Economist, and Bertelsmann as a base. She also taught graduate-level marketing at institutions like Rutgers and New York University.

28. Doug Kessler – @dougkessler

After beginning his career at the prestigious Ogilvy & Mather, Doug Kessler eventually co-founded Velocity, a content marketing agency where he serves as Creative Director.

29. Kristina Halvorson – @halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is the founder and CEO of Brain Traffic, a content strategy company. She’s also the founder of Confab Events, wrote Content Strategy for the Web, and hosts The Content Strategy Podcast.

30. Copyblogger – @copyblogger

Copyblogger uses their platform to teach content marketing skills, especially content writing and copywriting, to the marketing masses. Their community is over 330,000 subscribers strong.

31. NewsCred – @newscred

NewsCred offers solutions for enterprise content marketing, including a content marketing platform, content creation, and consulting. They also serve up a wide range of content and expertise on marketing topics.

32. Robert Rose – @Robert_Rose

Robert Rose is a big-leagues content marketer plus the founder and Chief Strategy Officer for The Content Advisory, which is an offshoot of The Content Marketing Institute. He has written three books, the most recent being Killing Marketing, which he co-authored with Joe Pulizzi.

33. Gerry Moran – @gerrymoran

A marketing executive with over 20 years of experience, Gerry Moran has worked with brands like IKEA, HBO, and Purina. He’s also the Global Head of Social Media at Cognizant, which provides digital services to increase efficiency and innovation for businesses.

34. Henneke Duistermaat – @HennekeD

Henneke Duistermaat is the pen behind Enchanting Marketing (and her cartoon alter-ego, Henrietta). She is a writer who has been featured on Copyblogger and Kissmetrics, and an educator who has created multiple courses on business writing to improve your marketing results.

35. Julia McCoy – @juliaemccoy

Along with her role as the founder and CEO at Express Writers, Julia is also a podcast host (“The Write Podcast”), an author (So You Think You Can Write? and Practical Content Strategy & Marketing), and an educator who teaches content strategy to burgeoning marketers.

36. Kissmetrics – @kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is an customer analytics and engagement automation software company. They share tips, hacks, and tricks to help you understand your base better.

37. Jeff Bullas – @jeffbullas

Jeff Bullas has been named a Top 20 CMO Influencer by Forbes, the #1 Global Content Marketing Influencer by Marketing Insider, and other accolades from Entrepreneur, Apollo Research, and Onalytica. He’s a speaker, a strategist, and runs JeffBullas.com, an internationally recognized business blog.

38. Erika Heald – @SFerika

Erika Heald has over 20 years in the industry under her belt, and has worked for brands like Charles Schwab, Slack, and UnitedHealth. She’s currently a content marketing and social media consultant for specialty food and technology start-ups.

39. Arnie Kuenn – @ArnieK

The CEO of Vertical Measures, Arnie Kuenn, is also an internationally-recognized content marketing speaker and educator. He has been in the industry for over 25 years and has written two books, Accelerate! and Content Marketing Works.

40. Ann Handley – @annhandley

Ann Handley is the CEO of MarketingProfs and appears twice on this list (see @marketingprofs). She wrote one of the essential handbooks on content writing, Everybody Writes, which is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

41. Berrak Sarikaya – @BerrakBiz

Berrak Sarikaya is a content marketer and strategist whose M.O. is to help businesses amplify their unique message. She is also a speaker who has presented at CMWorld.

42. Search Engine Watch – @sewatch

Search Engine Watch has been providing tips, advice, analysis, and information to marketers about improving their site’s online visibility in search engines since 1997.

43. Express Writers – @ExpWriters

A content agency committed to great online content, Express Writers focuses on quality, writing for the reader, and SEO best-practices to launch clients’ content to the top of Google. EW is also the brand behind #ContentWritingChat and The Write Blog.

44. Convince & Convert – @convince

Convince & Convert is a digital marketing consulting company that puts strategy first. Its CEO is Jay Baer, an internationally-recognized marketer and influencer who has worked with major global brands.

45. Ross Hudgens – @rosshudgens

Ross Hudgens is the CEO and founder of Siege Media, a South Dakota-based content marketing agency with an SEO bent. The company was named one of the Fasted Growing Companies in SD by Inc.

46. Neil Patel – @neilpatel

A digital marketer, influencer, and entrepreneur, Neil Patel made his name through ventures like CrazyEgg and Kissmetrics. He blogs at NeilPatel.com and co-hosts a podcast, “Marketing School” with Eric Su.

47. 10x Marketing – @ContentHackers

A companion to Garrett Moon of CoSchedule’s book, The 10x Marketing Formula, this Twitter feed offers tips to “start thinking like a scrappy start-up.”

48. Sujan Patel – @sujanpatel

Sujan Patel is a content marketer who focuses on growth marketing with his company, Web Profits. He has worked with clients like Expedia, Zillow, LinkedIn, and SalesForce, and blogs for the likes of Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Inc.

49. Influence & Co. – @InfluenceandCo

A content marketing company that has a start-to-finish approach, Influence & Co. also has a blog (The Knowledge Bank) and dishes out information and advice for marketers.

50. Marcus Sheridan – @TheSalesLion

Marcus Sheridan is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker who educates marketers about how to connect and communicate with their audiences in the digital world.

51. PathFactory – @pathfactory

PathFactory is a software platform that helps you track analytics and manage content delivery so it’s totally optimized. On their blog and Twitter, they share insights about how the buyer’s journey and content should merge.

52. Jodi Harris – @Joderama

As the Consulting Director of Editorial Content and Curation at Content Marketing Institute, Jodi Harris wears many hats: content strategist, writer, curator, and more. She also is an independent content marketing consultant and advises businesses about brand storytelling.

53. Tim Soulo – @timsoulo

Tim Soulo is Ahrefs’ Head of Marketing and Product Strategy and has 7 years of experience in the industry. He also runs the Ahrefs YouTube channel and posts SEO guides and research studies on their blog.

54. Zen Media – @WeAreZenMedia

An award-winning marketing company, Zen Media handles strategy, content development and production, digital storytelling, social amplification, and more for their clients. These have included Chase for Business, Dippin’ Dots, and Cox Communications.

55. Benji Hyam – @benjihyam

Benji Hyam is a growth marketing expert and the co-founder of Grow and Convert, a whole-package content marketing agency. They focus on creating content as well as measuring and delivering content marketing results.

56. Carla Johnson – @CarlaJohnson

Carla Johnson champions storytelling in marketing and works with Fortune 500 brands so they can make it happen. She’s a frequent keynote speaker, an author (her most recent is Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing), and is regularly touted as one of the top B2B influencers in the world.

57. Aaron Agius – @IAmAaronAgius

Aaron Agius is the co-founder of Louder Online, a multi-dimensional digital marketing agency that has worked with enterprise-level brands like Coca-Cola, Target, LG, IBM, and Salesforce. He’s also a speaker, and Forbes called him “one of the world’s best marketers.”

58. Jen (Picard) Dewar – @JenADewar

Marketing consultant Jen Dewar is all about lead generation for B2Bs, but she also shares her knowledge on social media marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization, and more at seminars, trade shows, conferences, and webinars.

59. Brooke Sellas – @BrookeSellas

Brooke Sellas is the CEO of B Squared Media, a social media management company that focuses on conversations over campaigns. Mark Schaefer named her a rising social media star, and Post Planner named her one of the 125 best people to follow for social media geeks.

60. Michele Linn – @michelelinn

Michele Linn is the former head of editorial for Content Marketing Institute – in fact, she was the first person Joe Pulizzi hired. She recently co-founded Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on educating and helping marketers publish and amplify credible original research.

61. Louis Grenier – @LouisSlices

Louis Grenier is the host of the “Everybody Hates Marketers” podcast, where he dishes out advice for a better, more authentic way of getting your brand out there. He often sits down with big industry leaders like Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, and Joanna Wiebe.

62. B Squared Media – @HelloBSquared

This social media management company has a philosophy that’s simple but impactful: “A simple hello can lead to a million things.” Their award-winning approach emphasizes conversations in marketing, and they have served clients like IBM, Inc., Yahoo!, and Spin Sucks.

63. Shane Barker – @shane_barker

A successful digital marketing consultant, Shane Barker has worked with everyone from start-ups to celebrities and helped them hone their brand image and achieve their goals. He’s also a UCLA instructor and an influencer marketing proponent.

64. Joanna Wiebe – @copyhackers

Joanna Wiebe is the original “conversion copywriter.” She started writing at businesses and agencies, then started Copy Hackers, where she teaches marketers and businesses how to write amazing copy. She’s the co-founder of Airstory, a writing collaboration tool.

65. Ahava Leibtag – @ahaval

Ahava Leibtag is the founder and president of Aha Media, a content strategy and marketing consultancy that specializes in content for complex industries like finance and healthcare. She’s a speaker, an author (The Digital Crown: Winning at Marketing on the Web), and has over 20 years of writing and marketing experience.

66. Marsha Wright – @marshawright

Marsha Wright is an entrepreneur, influencer, business expert, and media personality. She founded multiple ventures, including Global Travel Clothing Company, and hosts the mega-popular #ThingBIGSundaywithMarsha.

67. John Hall – @johnhall

John Hall is the co-founder of Influence & Co., one of the top content providers in the industry. He’s the best-selling author of Top of Mind, and has been the recipient of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.

68. Jo Gifford – @thejogifford

A marketer wearing many hats is nothing new, but Jo Gifford seemingly wears them all. She’s a blogger, copywriter, graphic designer, podcaster, and small business marketer who helps brands unearth their uniqueness.

69. John Jantsch – @ducttape

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant for small businesses and the founder of Duct Tape Marketing. He also hosts the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and has written a number of books, including The Referral Engine and Duct Tape Selling.

70. Mark Traphagen – @marktraphagen

Speaker, author, and digital marketer Mark Traphagen was named a Top 25 Content Marketing & Social Media Influencer by Onalytica. He’s the Senior Director of Brand Evangelism at Perficient Digital (formerly Stone Temple Consulting).

71. Marcus Miller – @marcusbowlerhat

Named a Top 25 Digital Marketing Influencer by Marketing Insider Group, Marcus Miller is also a columnist for Search Engine Land and the founder of Bowler Hat.

72. Justin Champion – @JustinRChampion

Justin Champion is a HubSpot Academy Content Professor, a self-described “digital nomad,” and a speaker who focuses on teaching small and medium-sized businesses how to make marketing easier.

73. John White – @juanblanco76

John White is an Inc. magazine columnist, where he has interviewed business biggies like Mark Cuban and Gatorade. He heads up Social Marketing Solutions, a lead generation company, and is a branding and influencer marketing expert.

74. Pam Moore – @PamFitNut

Pam Moore is the CEO of Marketing Nutz, a marketing and branding agency, and Social Profit Factor, a social media marketing training academy. She’s also an in-demand speaker and has presented at HubSpot Inbound, Social Media Marketing World, the Social Media Strategies Summit, and more.

75. Ryan Thompson – @RyanThompson

Ryan Thompson is a social media marketer who regularly works with Fortune 500s. He focuses on driving growth and building partnerships in business, especially industries like tourism and talent.

76. Terry Green – @TerryLynnGreen

Terry Green handles social media and marketing for speakers and coaches looking to turn their brand identity up more than a few notches. She runs BizEase Support Solutions to help eliminate marketing overwhelm.

77. Joe Williams – @joetheseo

The founder of Learn SEO Fast, a suite of courses for learning how to gain visibility in search, is Joe Williams. He has trained thousands of marketers and has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post and The Guardian.

78. AE Marketing Group – @aemarketing

AE Marketing Group is all about elevating brands to new heights with marketing, digital storytelling, strategy, and brand building. They have won multiple prestigious marketing awards, including ranking in the Inc. 5000.

79. Jason Quey – @jdquey

Jason Quey calls himself “the Storyteller Marketer” for good reason. His company of the same name helps clients figure out their overarching strategy, then uses that blueprint to spread their individual brand story. He’s been featured in Forbes, SalesForce, Copyblogger, and Entrepreneur, to name a few.

80. Rajasekar KS – @rajasekarks_

Rajasekar was named one of the Top 100 Content Leaders by World Marketing Congress in 2017. He’s a content and social media strategist interested in audience engagement and helping people realize their full potential.

81. JBH: The Content Agency – @JBHInfluence

This self-described “crack team” of marketers, creatives, and SEO geeks is an award-winning agency that creates a wide range of content for brands of all types and styles.

82. Joel Klettke – @JoelKlettke

Joel Klettke is a SaaS and B2B copywriter who heads Business Casual Copywriting and Case Study Buddy. He’s also a digital marketer who has contributed to brands like HubSpot, Safelite, and WP Engine.

83. Ardath Albee – @ardathalbee

Ardath Albee is a content marketing strategist with over 30 years of experience in business management and marketing. She’s the author of Digital Relevance and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, as well as the CEO of Marketing Interactions.

84. Ian Cleary – @IanCleary

A digital marketing consultant, educator, and trainer, Ian Cleary founded Razor Social as well as OutreachPlus, an email marketing tool. He’s a respected speaker and has been featured in Fox Business, Content Marketing Institute, Yahoo! Small Business, VentureBeat, and more.

85. Tania Varga – @tanias_tweets

Tania Varga is the CCO at Axonn Media, a top U.K. content marketing agency that takes care of strategy, content creation, amplification, and analysis for its clients.

86. Brandon Windsor – @hirebrandonw

As a video marketing strategist, Brandon Windsor helps businesses harness the potential and power of video marketing. He’s also a content creator through his production company, ARO Content, a speaker, and a digital marketing consultant.

87. Powers Digital Marketing – @powersdigmk

Powers Digital Marketing was founded by its President, Amber Powers. She has 5 years under her belt in digital marketing, and her company loves helping businesses in the travel/hospitality industry harness their reach and online visibility.

88. Rohan Davidson – @Roh_Davidson

Rohan Davidson is the founder of Content Consultant, a content marketing company based in Brisbane. He helps small and medium-sized businesses tailor their content for better results.

89. Steve Rayson – @steverayson

Steve Rayson is the Director of BuzzSumo, a social search tool. He’s also an entrepreneur, investor, and regular blogger on BuzzSumo.com.

90. Alli Berry – @alliberry3

Alli Berry is a content marketing and SEO expert who has been featured as a top contributor for Moz. She’s also the Senior Manager and Content Lead for Two Octobers, a Denver-based digital marketing agency.

91. Lindsay Thibeault – @LindsayRegina

Lindsay Thibeault is the Content Manager for HubSpot Academy as well as one of its Inbound Professors. She contributes to the HubSpot Academy Blog and focuses on customer education.

92. Martin Jones – @martinjonesaz

Martin Jones is the Senior Social Media and Content Marketing Manager for Cox Communications and Cox Business. He’s a nationally-recognized speaker who has presented at conferences like SXSW, Digital Marketing World Forum, and Social Media Marketing World.

93. Carli Evilsizer – @carlievilsizer

Carli Evilsizer is the Director of Brand Marketing at Roomi, an NYC-based peer-to-peer housing marketplace. She’s also a consultant who is known for working with startups of all types to help them build their identities. She has contributed to Elite Daily, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and more.

94. Brittany Berger – @thatbberg

Brittany Berger, “the content unicorn,” has been crafting winning content marketing for 7 years. She has been featured by Inc., HubSpot, and The Huffington Post and runs a freelance business, BrittanyBerger.com.

95. B2B Marketing Exchange – @b2bmx

B2B Marketing Exchange is a top industry conference where marketers can come together, network, learn, and grow their businesses. It has grown to include over 70 sessions and 100 expert speakers over 3 days.

96. Melissa Harrison – @mhbosslady

Melissa Harrison is the founder and CEO of Allee Creative. She has 16 years of experience in the industry, and was named a Top Content Marketer by Content Marketing Institute as well as a Top Young Entrepreneur by Minnesota Business Magazine.

97. Deana Goldasich – @goldasich

A 20-year vet of content marketing, Deana Goldasich is the former Director of Content and Production for HSN.com, where she helped build up brand names like Sephora and Wolfgang Puck. Today, she’s the founder of Well Planned Web and regularly lends her expertise as a speaker to conferences like Content Marketing World and Digital Summit.

98. Ryan Robinson – @TheRyanRobinson

Ryan Robinson is a content marketing consultant (with clients like Adobe and Zendesk) who has been featured on publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Business Insider. He also hosts a podcast, “The Side Hustle Project.”

99. Caroline Forsey – @cforsey1

Caroline Forsey is a staff writer for the HubSpot Marketing Blog. She is also a freelance content writer with a roster of clients in industries like business, education, tech, and data intelligence.

100.  Britney Muller – @BritneyMuller

As a Senior SEO Scientist at Moz, Britney Muller works to increase lead generation using technical SEO, studies how to meet user intent, improves internal linking, and more. She’s also a speaker who has presented at industry events like Experience Inbound, ACTEM, and MozCon.

Gaining Top Content Marketing Props Takes Work, Not Luck

Here’s the main takeaway we can glean from this list:

Becoming top in our beautiful industry of content takes work.

You have to put out a lot to get anything back. You need to truly, authentically engage with your community and be active in the space.

“Overnight” success in the form of follower jumps or likes spikes are vanity metrics for a reason – they don’t mean much. What does translate to build a real influencer-level presence comes down to two things: hard work building a reason to be known (a company, success in a role, consistent content year after year, an epic piece of content that everyone remembers), and real, human connections and conversations with their followers.

Instead, follow the lead of this mega list of incredible marketers.

It takes dedicated, passionate work to climb the mountain – but it’s worth every step.

top 100 content marketers CTA

outsourcing content

Outsourcing Your Content: The Risks and the Remarkable Rewards

When you’re a small business owner and trying to save a buck, writing your own content can seem like a good idea.

“It can’t be that hard! I’ll save lots of money!

Right?

Right??”

Well…

will smith GIF

I hate to break it to you, but writing content is not as simple as sitting down in front of a word processor and scrounging up 800 words off the top of your head.

To be blunt, writing content isn’t even as simple as plain writing.

 

To earn return-on-investment, to be profitable, content needs so much more:

  • Time
  • Planning
  • Effort
  • Research
  • SEO smarts

Can you ostensibly create this kind of content on your own – not to mention consistently, at the highest levels of quality – and still have time to run your business?

Maybe if you’re a super-human or a wizard with magical powers.

Maybe if you give up a social life, relaxation time, and sleep.

Enter the case for hiring a writer and outsourcing content.

It’s not only for the health of your business and your content’s ROI-potential; it’s also for your sanity.

That’s why we’re discussing:

  • When to outsource your content
  • Why you should outsource
  • And the real numbers involved, including the dollars and time you’ll save by hiring a writer (because time = money)

To begin, here’s the first question we’ll answer: When should you start outsourcing your content?

Spoiler alert: The answer is right now.

Allow me to prove that to you.

outsourcing content guide

Exploring the Hidden Costs & Risks of NOT Outsourcing Content (Infographic Case Study)

outsourcing your content infographic

What will it cost you, in minutes and hours & dollars and cents, NOT to hire a writer with expertise in content marketing?

Time = money.

What is your time worth to you?

Let’s estimate exactly how much time it takes to plan, research, write, and edit a high-quality, high-ROI content piece, like an in-depth blog post. Then we’ll compare it to the time and cost of hiring an expert.

1. Time Required for DIY Content (100 Hours/Month: Equivalent of a Part-Time Job)

To create DIY content that actually gets results, the work you put in must include the following (assuming you’ve already researched your audience). The estimated time it takes to complete each step is included.

  • Keyword research – Finding keyword opportunities to scoop up high-potential traffic (15-20 minutes)
  • Planning – Ironing out a post topic that appeals to your target niche and uses your target keywords (5-10 minutes)
  • Researching – Gathering relevant facts, stats, and supporting information you can link to and reference in your post (20-30 minutes)
  • Outlining – Planning your argument, organizing your thoughts, laying out main points, and drafting headers and subheaders (10-15 minutes)
  • Writing – Writing up the post, citing sources and linking to them, using SEO best-practices, adding visuals as needed, and finalizing your headers and subheaders (4-8 hours [dependent on MANY factors, including inspiration, the quality of your research, and your motivation – could take much less or much more time])
  • Editing – Checking your work for accuracy, proofreading for flow and tone of voice, checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors (20-40 minutes)

Estimated time needed to craft ONE in-depth blog post: about 10 hours

Estimated time needed monthly to publish 2x/week: 100 hours/month

You read that right: It takes nearly an entire day to crank out a blog post worthy of ROI.

To publish these types of posts two times a week, it will take about 20 hours per week, and 100 hours per month.

That’s like having a part-time job.

And those numbers are just an estimate!

It could take much longer if you run into problems like writer’s block, or research fails such as coming up short for solid, recent studies to back up points in your content.

It will take EVEN LONGER if you haven’t researched your audience, or if you don’t have a workflow and plan in place for strategizing your blogs.

It takes a lot of work. Look at all the activities that top-performing content marketers commit to, from that same CMI benchmark survey we already mentioned. Top performers:

  • Value craft and creativity in their content (88%)
  • Have excellent/very good project management flow (70%)
  • Deliver content consistently (75%)
  • Use high-quality content to build their audiences (92%)

B2B content marketing top performers

For businesses who out-perform the rest, content quality and consistency is prioritized.

If you DIY, that WILL take a huge chunk of time, effort, and resources that can add up to hundreds of hours over a few months.

What’s your time worth? What is 100 hours/month worth to you?

What could you do for your business in that time besides pulling your hair out over content creation?

More importantly, could you repeat this exact same routine, ad-nauseum, to produce consistent results?

2. Time Needed to Hire a Writer and Hand Off the Dirty Work (Potentially 25 Minutes / $90)

We know how long it takes to produce a high-quality, amazing blog that wins ROI.

In contrast, how much time and money do you need to hire a writer to take care of it all for you?

Let’s break it down:

  • Finding and vetting a writer – At Express Writers, we handle writer vetting and match you with an expert who can write with authority about your industry topics. (0 minutes)
  • Relaying keywords, topics, and strategy – With us, all you have to do is order the content you need (either fill out our guided order forms or talk to a content specialist). One of our content strategists can also do keyword and topic research for you. (5-10 minutes + $90 for an expert blog)
  • Reviewing the completed content – All the creative work happens behind-the-scenes. All you have to do is wait for your completed content, review it, and, if needed, ask for any revisions. (10-15 minutes review time)

Estimated time/cost for outsourcing content: 25 minutes, $90

What’s the Better Investment?

About 25 minutes is all it takes to hire a writer to create a high-ROI content piece, plus an investment of $90.

Compare that to the 10 hours you might spend trying to do it all yourself, not to mention the estimated 20 hours/week and 100 hours/month needed to keep it up ON TOP of your other tasks/projects for growing your business.

It would be like having a part-time job on top of your full-time job.

oh my god I need help GIF

It’s Time to Outsource Your Content When…

1. Your Knowledge of ROI Content & SEO Is Hazy, At Best

Pop quiz:

What are the major factors that contribute to high-ROI content?

If you can’t immediately reel off a few answers to this question, you might want to take a step back.

Of course, that’s not to say you don’t understand the value of quality content.

You just might not be clear on what has to happen to create those types of assets.

If this describes you to a tee, you shouldn’t be writing your own content – you just don’t have the expertise to create the stuff that leads to results and business growth.

There’s nothing wrong with that, either.

Instead, delegating this task will free you up to focus on what you ARE good at, where your true expertise lies.

Check out the most common success factors for content, according to CMI’s 2018 benchmark survey:

content marketing success factors

B2Bs that were MORE successful overwhelmingly attributed their success to better, more efficient content creation. Also notable: They spent more time on content, and many relied on outside expertise.

They did not settle for “good enough,” and if they didn’t have the chops, they got help.

2. You Don’t Have Time to Create Your Best Work Day In & Day Out

Growing a fledgling business is a full-time job. If you have to take care of the content creation, too, where does that leave you?

It leaves you hassled, stressed, and exhausted. It means you’ll be doing lots of tasks but not excelling at any of them.

Unfortunately, the type of content that’s profitable requires your best work, consistently. So, even if you understand what it takes to create that type of content, if you don’t have the time to devote to it, it won’t matter.

3. You’re Spending Too Much Time on Lackluster Content

Here’s where thinking you can “do it all” snowballs into wasted time with zero ROI.

Writing half-assed, lackluster content gets you half-assed, lackluster results – not because you’re incompetent, but because you don’t have the time or expertise to craft pieces that are truly GREAT.

Instead, you’re expending the little time you DO have on content that just doesn’t cut the mustard.

What do you end up with?

Wasted time, and content that staggers along for a while before dissolving into internet obscurity.

throwing away money GIF

You’ll never get that time back.

That’s time you could have spent actually growing your business in ways in which you excel.

It may hurt to hear it, but it’s the plain truth.

How do you know when it's time to outsource your #content creation? This post has three signs to watch out for! Click To Tweet

Outsourcing Content: What Does That Investment Look Like Over Time?

If you choose to outsource your content, you’re in good company.

content marketing activities B2B marketers outsource

47% of B2B marketers outsource their content creation activities.

As you’ve already seen, there’s a huge reason why.

It’s worth it.

Let’s dig into some examples of what investing in outsourced content creation looks like over time.

What’s the ROI?

Real-Life Content Outsourcing Example: Marketing Labs

A U.K.-based digital marketing agency, Marketing Labs works with clients to increase their online growth, including traffic and conversions.

Though they had a team of experts, including two copywriters on staff, their business was getting more writing work than they could handle alone.

Rather than stretch their in-house writers thin, they hired us at Express Writers to handle their content strategy and blogging, and to step in for one of their clients with improved, optimized product descriptions.

Here are just a few of the results (read the full case study here):

marketing labs

The results and ROI were phenomenal, but only because Marketing Labs invested in quality content, which also saved them time + money.

Here’s what Marketing Labs’ CEO, Matt Janaway, said about outsourcing content to us:

matt janaway on outsourcing

Outsourcing Your Content: Get Back Your Time and Grow Your ROI

Your time is valuable. Your dollars are limited.

Content creation is a HUGE undertaking that requires both – especially oodles of your precious time if you DIY.

As a business owner, as a marketer, or whatever you do, you know that you could be spending your time in ways that are more productive.

This is especially true if you’re shaky on what it takes to create amazing, ROI-heavy content that turns into a profitable ASSET.

Instead of fumbling your way through content, delegate. Outsource. Let experts do the heavy lifting.

You could see bigger, better growth from your content + have extra time to devote to your strengths.

Doesn’t that sound incredible?

We agree, and that’s why we’re here.

Trust us at Express Writers for outsourcing your content – we can deliver.

Read about our process, then request a client account to start moving forward in the right direction.

 

how to explain content strategy

How to Explain Content Strategy and Content Marketing to Practically Anyone (Infographic)

As of last year, 3.8 billion people used the internet globally.

To give you a frame of reference, that’s 50% of the total world’s population.

It’s over 11.6x more than the total US population.

It’s over 132x more than the population of Texas.

Every minute, people scavenge the internet to search for, share and research content.

With statistics like these, the demand for content marketing and content strategy are clear.

However, sometimes it’s the definitions of these terms that are more convoluted.

Not the demand.

(Funny how that works.)

Whether you’re convincing your next client, current boss or yourself of the need to develop an effective content marketing strategy, the first step is understanding what that means.

Better yet, trying to explain the DIFFERENCE between content strategy and content marketing.

If you’re talking to a non-marketer, it’s easier to just not even go there.

…Or, if you’re simply explaining to Grandma what you do for a living.

Content? You’re happy?”

“No, Ma, CONTENT… as in creating content for people’s websites and blogs to market their business!”

“Oh, you build those online websites?”

Facepalm.

Ha, we know those conversations.

So…

We’ve created a nice little representation with a kitchen scene in today’s blog that will help you explain content marketing to ANYONE… even Grandma.

Let’s get into it!

how to explain content strategy infographic

How to Explain Content Strategy and Content Marketing: Breaking it Down (& a Look at the Demand)

Content marketing and content strategy are related, yes, but they are not the same thing.

If you’ve been using the terms interchangeably, chances are you’re not the only one.

To begin implementing these marketing efforts, you must first fully comprehend them. Once you understand, then you can be the one chiming in to help others differentiate.

If you’re one of the 9% of B2B marketers that has yet to adopt a content marketing strategy, then you are missing out on 3.8 billion opportunities to reach your targeted audience.

Of course you’re thinking, how many of these people are real potential leads?

The truth is, it’s more than you think.

Every minute, people scavenge the internet to search for, share and research content. Check this out:

Source: Domo

With statistics like these, the demand for content marketing and content strategy are clear.

No matter what rung on the ladder to understanding you’re standing on, let’s break content marketing and strategy down into basic terms using something everyone can relate to.

I’m thinking…food.

(Side note, proceed with caution if you haven’t taken your lunch break yet.)

How to Explain Content Strategy & Marketing: Infographic (A Behind-the-Scenes Restaurant Visual Representation)

Picture your favorite restaurant.

Now sneak around to the back until you find the kitchen.

All of the inner workings of the kitchen – the food preparation, reservations, staff schedule – that’s the content strategy.

It is the meetings between chefs, waiters, restaurant owners and staff to strategize and guide how they plan to successfully deliver food to their customers.

How many waiters need to cover the floor? What type of ingredients should we use? What will attract our customers to our restaurant?

Just like in a restaurant, content strategy is the framework you put in place to deliver the content to readers. It is the planning, preparation and methods you have come up with to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

So how do you do this?

Cook the food!

Or in other terms, implement your strategy through content marketing.

Here’s a look at that in visual mode – because, you know, 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual. ?

how to explain content strategy and content marketing

Repost with credit to Express Writers

Content marketing is the execution of your strategy.

It’s the planning coming to life, encompassing each and every component. The food is the content that your audience consumes.

The approach to effective content marketing is to create valuable, consistent and relatable content for the purpose of building a relationship with a targeted audience, which in turn, increases your profits.

Some of the most popular forms of content are:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • E-books
  • Case studies
  • Long-form content
  • Listicles
  • Newsletters
  • Webinars

The content speaks to your brand while also fulfilling the needs of your ideal customer.

In the restaurant analogy, let’s say your target audience is 20-year-old yoga enthusiasts.

During your planning stages, you found that natural and unprocessed ingredients were of the highest importance to your customers (content strategy).

You put this plan into action by designing a customized menu that informs your customers of the origins of their food (content marketing).

Then you served a vegetarian lentil soup made from locally sourced ingredients (content).

For example:

lentil soup infographic

Repost with credit to Express Writers

Now your customers feel a connection to your brand.

Due to your strategic planning, you knew how to build a relationship with your audience, the methods in which to reach them and the product that would best suit their needs.

These customers are receiving valuable and useful information about a health conscious lifestyle directly through you. They will keep coming back. They will purchase more.

That is your content marketing strategy at work.

How to Explain Content Strategy & Marketing: Understanding the Actual ROI with Statistics

Food analogy aside, clients, bosses and executives want you to answer one thing: how much profit will I make? In other words, what is the ROI of this type of marketing?

They may understand the need to develop content marketing, but be unsure of what they are getting in return.

Via Moz

Unlike other traditional forms of promotion, content strategy and marketing are investments. They require more initial time to plan, implement and see return.

However, once a profitable framework for content strategy is set in motion, you will see your business grow tremendously.

Today, content marketing has proven to be more than just another buzzword.

The term is repeated so often that the importance is validated even to those who don’t understand it. Luckily, there are plenty of statistics to support it.

90% of All Organizations Use Content to Market Themselves (Demand Metric)

Content has officially been crowned king and queen of marketing strategy. However, the real effectiveness of this marketing is in custom content, which 78% of CMOs see as the way of the future.

According to CMI’s 2018 reports, 78% of these B2B marketers revealed that quality content creation increased their marketing success in the last year.

Custom content, while relating to your brand, is useful to consumers who prefer to seek it out rather than be bombarded with emails and television advertisements.

SEO Leads have a 14.6% Close Rate as Opposed to 1.7% for Other Marketing Methods

On the most basic level, the only real argument you need in favor of content marketing is this: it is less expensive and more effective.

Content strategy is all about increasing organic traffic to your site. Organic traffic is improved with SEO directly through content marketing.

Marketing Sherpa detailed one firm’s experience organizing their content marketing efforts where they reported a 2000% increase in blog traffic and 40% increase in revenue.

This type of marketing requires a lot of time, research and patience.

However, an effective strategy will NOT burn a hole in your pocket. Your company can invest in high quality content marketers as opposed to spending money on promotion, and see more success and ROI happen.

Marketers Outsource 18% Total Content (Curata)

One of the main reasons companies have led successful content marketing campaigns is attributed to outsourcing.

Content creation is much more than writing a blog here and there. For real results, content must be consistent, relevant and diverse. One of the many reasons for outsourcing is that most companies do not have the budget or resources to train an in-house team.

Outsourcing to professional agencies, like our own here at Express Writers, will grow your business through organic content marketing efforts.

What’s the best part?

This ends up being ten times cheaper than paid advertising.

Understanding ROI with Numbers

So, how does this compare with my business?

That question always comes next.

Even after reading through statistics, you need a valid method to document the ROI for your own company.

47% of B2B marketers do not measure the ROI of content marketing mostly because they don’t understand how to.

This is a large oversight for companies investing in a content marketing strategy. So we developed an easier method to determine the ROI of content marketing.

In one of our past blog posts, we created an infographic to explain the ROI of content strategy and tested our own numbers.

Our basic formula stated: Earned Traffic = High Quality Leads = Sales

For this formula to work, we used 16% as the average rate that targeted traffic turned into leads and 14% as the rate that those same leads converted into sales.

Our formula then looks something like:

  • Monthly visitors x 16% = amount of leads/month
  • Amt of leads/month x 14% = sales/month

With this formula in hand, your company can predict and actually see how content marketing directly converted into sales.

content marketing equation

We tested the formula in a case study with our monthly traffic for January 2018 and were off by only 57 orders, which made sense after accounting for changes in our business plan.

Put Content Strategy and Content Marketing into Action

The cook, the kitchen, the strategy, the marketing…

You have everything swirling around in your head, and now it’s time to put it into action.

Starting with the fundamentals of your content strategy will set the pace for the rest of your marketing.

What makes you different? What’s your area of expertise? What’s your Content Differentiation Factor?

Answering these very first questions will help you develop and execute methods to connect to your audience and increase revenue.

Are you ready to begin?

There will undoubtedly be bumps along the road to successful content marketing.

Don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through it. ??

Learn the tools to create and implement an effective content marketing strategy directly through my personal mentorship and teaching by signing up for my Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

Or, get access to great content created just for your audience, with strategic content marketing in mind, by requesting a client account.

 

GDPR

TL;DR: What is GDPR & How to Make Sure Your Content Is Compliant (Featuring Attorney Richard Chapo)

If you’ve been paying attention to the news in recent months, you may have seen headlines with the phrases “GDPR” and “European Union” popping up more and more often.

“GDPR” refers to “General Data Protection Regulation.”

It’s legislation that the EU approved back in April of 2016. Once approval happened, businesses were given 2 years to comply with new stipulations for collecting and using consumers’ personal data.

CTA-EW-02

In a nutshell, the European Union strengthened the consumer’s right to control their personal data.

That’s great, but…

Why should we care, as content marketers and business owners not located in the EU?

(I don’t blame you if you look like this right now.)

But here’s the thing.

If you have customers in the EU, or operate at least in part there (including collecting EU consumer data), you will be affected by this new legislation, which will go into effect on May 25, 2018.

GDPR protects Europeans’ data no matter where they go virtually. Since we live in a global, digital economy, this applies to most of us who operate online.

To help you navigate these murky waters, I’m discussing the main pieces of GDPR that are most likely to affect you.

Then, to help you figure out what to do next, I talked to Richard Chapo, an internet lawyer I previously chatted with on The Write Podcast about copyrighting in content marketing. He has some advice about what to do in the face of GDPR.

Let’s get into it.

GDPR

Which Parts of the GDPR Should You Be Most Worried About?

1. If You Collect Personal Data from EU Consumers, You Will Have New/Increased Responsibilities

The “personal data” that GDPR affects is the basic stuff you collect from customers and leads all the time: names, email addresses, and any other information that is personally identifying.

Specifically, GDPR stipulates that you are wholly responsible for the security and safety of the personal data you collect.

This also means you are responsible TO the consumer/customer. Above all, GDPR protects their rights.

2. EU Consumers Will Have Expanded Data Privacy Rights

GDPR mainly focuses on expanding and strengthening EU consumer data privacy rights. Here are the major points:

  • Consent must be crystal-clear. When consumers give their consent for you to collect their personal data, you must stipulate exactly how and why you’ll be using that information. You can’t use confusing or misleading legalese or fine print to state this information – it must be accessible, clear, and easy to understand.
    • This also means you can’t collect data for one purpose and then reuse it later. For example, you can’t offer a free download in exchange for emails, and then keep those emails and use them to populate your mailing list. You have to tell consumers EXACTLY what you will do with their data when you ask for consent.
  • You must collect the minimum amount of information needed to achieve your objective. For example, if you want consent to collect a consumer’s email address to send them your newsletter, you arguably don’t need their age or employment status to do it.
  • Consumers have the right to access and review the data you collect from them.
  • Consumers have the right to have the data you collect be “forgotten” – erased from your databases and therefore no longer used/processed.

There are lots of other points in the legislation, but these are the top ones you should know about. To read the others, check out MarTech’s in-depth explanation.

3. You May Be Fined If You Fail to Comply, But Fines Are Situational

The maximum fine an organization can incur from breaching GDPR is 4% of their annual global turnover, or 20 million euros (whichever turns out to be the larger number).

This is relevant to mega international companies, but to you?

Not so much.

Instead, what you need to worry about are tiered fines, which vary depending on the severity your infraction.

For minor infractions, organizations or individuals may be given a reprimand rather than a fine, but only if the fine would impose a “disproportionate burden” on them, according to article 148 of the official legislation:

What to Do Next: Advice from Attorney Richard Chapo

What should you do next in terms of GDPR’s far-reaching effects?

To find out, I talked to Richard Chapo, an internet lawyer with 24 years of experience in topics like fair use and copyright law, licensing, and other legal issues that affect online business owners.

(You can find Richard at SoCalInternetLawyer.com, or you can connect with him on LinkedIn.)

Here’s the sage advice he has for anyone who will be affected by GDPR, whether you’re a blogger, an online business owner, or a content marketer:

“The GDPR contains massive penalty provisions, and we’ve seen a good bit of scaremongering online because of them.

The purpose of the GDPR is not to generate massive fines. The purpose is to protect the personal data of subjects located in the EU. Make a good faith effort to comply, and you are unlikely to be wiped out by a GDPR fine.

As Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner stated, “…it’s scaremongering to suggest that we’ll be making early examples of organizations for minor infringements or that maximum fines will become the norm.”

Under the GDPR, you cannot collect personal data from a ‘child’ under 16 without getting verified parental consent first, although some countries can set the age as low as under 13. If the subject matter of your site is directed at kids – video games, education, etc. – you need to be wary of this requirement found in Article 8 of the GDPR.

The world will not end on May 25th if you are not GDPR compliant.

Many companies large and small will fail to meet the deadline. If you’ve just learned of the GDPR and are panicking – don’t.

First, panicking doesn’t accomplish anything. Second, get moving on compliance. If you receive an audit notice from an agency in the EU, providing evidence that you are in the process of complying will mitigate any penalties.”

Bottom Line: Get Familiar with GDPR and Understand If You’re Affected – Then Get Moving on Compliance

As Richard says, it’s important to start making sure you’re in compliance with GDPR if it will affect you. Even if you’re a little behind, this shows a good faith effort and may help you avoid penalties.

Smartblogger has some fantastic advice you can put into action right now for compliance. They recommend following 7 steps, including:

  • Doing an inventory of the personal data you collect
  • Quitting collection of any data you don’t need
  • Making sure you’re totally clear about the information you ask for and receive from consumers
  • And more:

Via SmartBlogger

A little work now will go a long way toward your peace of mind concerning GDPR as it goes into effect. The key is to start A.S.A.P. – then you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Questions? Thoughts? Comments about the new legislation? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

 

content marketing training

A Content Marketing Training Guide for Freelancers & Marketers: Skills You Need to Know & Tips to Get Hired

Today, the interest and investment in content marketing are at an all-time high.

Within the last two years, it has reached peak search interest on Google and continues to hover near that mark (in the graph below, the “100” line represents peak interest):

That’s exciting.

Content marketing is a hot industry to get into in 2018 – and it’s only going to get better moving into the future. Getting your feet wet in content marketing training couldn’t be a better time.

Job opportunities are hopping, and roles are continuing to expand as businesses of all kinds start to truly understand the value of content.

Just look at the diverse array of content marketing positions from a cursory search of Indeed.com – and this is just from the first page!

And, according to PayScale, entry-level content marketing managers make an average median pay of about $59K per year.

Entry-level content marketing freelancers, on the other hand, have a yearly income that depends largely on dedication and location. But, PayScale estimates that the average freelance writer nets about $24/hour, while the median income for content writers is about $42K annually (and plenty make much, much more).

Finally, according to Marketing Profs and Conductor, the average annual salary for a number of content marketing roles all look pretty darn good:

With the promise of a decent paycheck and innovative, creative, exciting work, it’s truly an incredible time to dive into this field.

Of course, to become a savvy, skilled content marketer and nail that hot position (or net desirable clients!), you need the right content marketing training.

If you agree, you’re in the right place. First, we’ll run through key skills you need to go far in content marketing. Then, we’ll cover application tips and tricks to help you win an incredible job or high-paying clients.

Let’s get into it.

content marketing training guide

Content Marketing Training Bootcamp: Hone These 5 Critical Content Wizard Skills

To succeed in this industry, there are skills you need that remain constant, no matter your role or experience level.

For example, the skills a content strategist needs closely intertwine with those of a content manager, content writer, and social media marketer.

Sharpening the skills listed below could help you stay relevant and help you maintain the ability to wear many hats in the industry, whether you’re strategizing content, managing content, creating content, or all of the above.

Content Marketing Training Skill #1: A Relentless Drive for Results

Whether you work for a company or for individual clients, they will all have the same goal: They want to see results from content marketing. They want that ROI pie-in-the-sky.

However, most have no clear idea how to measure it. In Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 research on trends in B2B content marketing, only 3% of those surveyed said their organizations were doing an excellent job aligning their metrics with their goals:

cmi2018_metrics-goals

That means you have to be driven to align metrics + goals so your clients or bosses can see those results.

Every action you take has to reflect back on eventual return-on-investment, and you have to prove that connection.

The ROI has to be quantifiable. You must know how to measure your content success, gather and analyze data, map it to goals, and present it to your clients or company in a way that’s easy to understand.

Content Marketing Training Skill #2: Creative Problem-Solving

If you want to be a top content marketer, get ready to hone your creative problem-solving skills.

Depending on who you work for, you’ll be presented with challenges as varied as implementing fresh content strategies for businesses who don’t have them, researching the best keywords and blog topics for specific niche industry brands, and figuring out how to improve a company’s content so they hit high rankings for their best keyword opportunities.

You’ll have a lot of challenges thrown your way, each their own particular color and flavor. As a content marketer, you’ll need to thrive on each individual hurdle.

Content Marketing Training Skill #3: Thorough and Meticulous Communication

Good communication is an essential skill for success in most industries. Content marketing is no different.

You’ll particularly need thoroughness and meticulousness when relaying ideas and data back and forth to your higher-ups, clients, and other stakeholders.

This isn’t just about writing, either. You also need to be a skilled presenter, a good collaborator, and a team player.

  • If you work for a company, you’ll need compelling communication to help you get buy-in for your content marketing initiatives.
  • If you work as a freelancer, your clients may need some data-backed examples to get on board with what you propose for their content.
  • If you work with a team and have a great idea for driving engagement forward for a brand, for instance, you have to be able to explain your vision.

Content Marketing Training Skill #4: An Instinct for Audience Defining and Storytelling

A huge part of being a content marketer is the content creation aspect. You have to understand how to tell stories that will win over a vast array of different audiences in different industries.

Your job will be to define these audiences and tailor content just for them, using the right keywords, tone, language, and topics to get them interested and invested.

Your storytelling skills will definitely come into play, here. You’ll have to think about the right delivery for each group of people you’re creating content for, making sure you’re telling stories they need or want to hear.

This involves part instinct, part research, and part creativity.

Content Marketing Training Skill #5: A Savvy Promoter

As a content marketer, you need to be internet-savvy to promote and distribute content as effectively as possible.

You also need to understand techniques to get your content the widest possible audience. This means you have to:

  • Know best-practices for posting to social channels, including optimal times, types of posts, word count, hashtags, and image types
  • Understand how to speak to and target different audiences on social media, including the best platforms where the brunt of them hang out (this can differ depending on the audience!)
  • Know how to create a promotional strategy for each piece of content you put out

Put Your Content Marketing Training to Real Use: 6 Tips for Applying to & Winning that Job

Your content marketing training doesn’t end with honing your skills. You also have to do some legwork to position yourself as a desirable hire:

1. Get Your LinkedIn Profile in Order and Do Some Social Media Housekeeping

As we all know, we live in an interconnected age where our online social profiles often serve as our first introduction for potential employers, clients, and colleagues.

Hiring managers and clients may absolutely check out your LinkedIn profile or Facebook whether or not you provide links in your resume. If your profile is lacking, you may leave that person with a negative impression of you, which can spell disaster for your job chances.

Here’s a good example:

linkedin_ghost

This just looks lazy and unprofessional. Don’t be a LinkedIn ghost – if you can’t be bothered to upload a profile picture, you shouldn’t bother having an account.

If your profile looks like this, or if you have some inappropriate posts or pictures hanging out in your feed, make sure you do some housekeeping before applying for any jobs. These will affect your first impression.

Lastly, make sure your profile is complete and optimized. You should include keywords for your industry in your summary, work experience, and skills sections, including keywords for the job you want.

Here’s an example of a complete and professional profile from Money:

linkedin_complete-profile

2. Look for Opportunities in All the Right Places

Don’t just depend on job boards to find open positions. Instead, do some deeper digging in the right places to unearth more potential jobs or clients.

Here are some ideas:

  • Post an open call for hiring opportunities on your social media profiles. Ask your friends/followers if they know of any leads, open positions, or opportunities for content marketing, and mention that you’re actively looking. Lots of your contacts may keep you in mind if they see anything pop up! Or, there may be an open position or client opportunity waiting there for you – you never know until you ask.
  • Attend industry events and network. The professional connections you make at conferences and meet-ups could lead to job opportunities down the road!
  • Look up companies you’ve heard of or admire on Google and check their hiring pages. If you see an opening that looks desirable, apply and make sure to mention how much you respect the company in your cover letter.
  • If you’re a freelancer, make sure you have an up-to-date profile on the hottest freelance job boards. These give you access to millions of companies/clients actively looking for people to fill positions. Two great options are Upwork and Toptal.
  • Another tip for freelancers: Create a portfolio website. This is something you can include on your business card or link on your resume/social profiles. It’s an easy way for potential clients to check out you and your past experience. You can also keyword optimize it so clients can discover you in search.

3. It’s Not About You, It’s About Them

When it’s cover letter time, do you sit down and think about what you want out of the job position you’re applying for?

If so, you’re doing it wrong.

Instead, you need to approach cover letter writing from a perspective of what the company/client needs from you, and how you can contribute to solve their problem or increase their success.

In the end, it’s about what you can do for THEM, not about how their company or project can help you advance in your career.

Dive into writing the cover letter from this perspective, and you should be much more persuasive.

4. Do Not Mention Skills You Don’t Have – Focus on What You CAN Do

A huge rookie mistake many people make with cover letters is mentioning how they don’t have X skill or X experience.

You should never, ever draw attention to what you can’t do or haven’t done in what is essentially your first pitch to the company/client.

Example:

This is like sticking your foot in your mouth. Don’t do it.

Instead, highlight what you CAN do.

Example:

5. Highlight Key Parts of Your Resume… But Don’t Regurgitate

Your resume is a tool, one you should definitely refer to at key moments in your cover letter to better explain your experience or skills.

However, don’t just copy your descriptions from your resume and use them in your cover letter. Instead, briefly reference the point, but use the extra space in the cover letter to include additional details about the experience you weren’t able to fit on your resume.

For instance, your resume might say “Implemented and managed a content marketing campaign focused on a series of how-to guides.”

Your cover letter could go into more detail, like: “Creating, implementing, and managing a content marketing campaign taught me how to target a niche audience segment and measure the results from XYZ data.”

6. Double-Check Instructions and Include All Requested Information/Attachments/Samples

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many people forget to attend to the tiniest details when applying for a position.

It’s straightforward: Read the application instructions carefully, including the fine print. Follow them to the letter.

Many companies actually use this as a litmus test of sorts. Candidates who don’t follow initial directions for their application are immediately tossed in the trash.

Think of it this way: Hiring managers have a ton of applications to weed through – they don’t have time to deal with incomplete or missing information. You have to make it easy for them to advance you to the next round, so to speak.

So, carefully note what materials you need for each job application. Some don’t want your resume but would rather have work samples. Some want the whole kit and caboodle, including cover letter, resume, samples, and references.

Don’t forget to use their preferred submission method, too.

Some want an email with attachments, and others may want you to use their online system or form.

If you’re on an applications-spree, keeping track of all this can get hard.

It’s worth it, though, because you’re showing potential employers or clients you’re hirable at the most basic level.

The Final Word: Your Content Marketing Training Will Never Be “Over”

Content marketing is a wild and wily industry. Standards for success are constantly changing, and the lightning speed at which technology is developing has a huge role.

To keep up, once your initial training is over and you’ve nailed a position, you can’t sit back and get complacent. You have to keep learning, keep training, and keep leveling-up to stay relevant.

Here are some final tips that can help you keep current in such a fast-paced industry:

  • Follow top blogs that cover trends and news in content marketing, SEO, content creation/copywriting, and social media. (A few excellent picks are Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, BuzzSumo, and Copy Hackers. And don’t forget to subscribe to the Write Blog!)
  • Pick a few essential content marketing books to read during the year. Grab classics in the field or read a newer publication. (See: Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi, The Content Code by Mark Schaefer, or They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan.)
  • Keep in touch with colleagues in your industry on social media, email, and other methods. Catch up every once in awhile to discuss what’s happening in the field. Think about attending CMWorld if you can, because in-person conferences are just so amazing to make that dynamite connection even realer (this will be the second year I’ve gone).

The wonderful world of content marketing is opening up like never before. There are so many opportunities out there. Start up your content marketing training, and grab your place in this exciting atmosphere of incredible growth and possibilities.

julias masterclass cta

content strategy services

The State of Content Marketing Today. Why We Just Launched New & Improved Content Strategy Services at Express Writers

Let’s talk a little about the state of content marketing as it stands today.

91% of content marketers are using content marketing. That’s higher than all previous years to date.

Content creation is the #1 activity in content marketing that gets outsourced.

45% of content marketers are more successful than they were the previous year:

And 78% quoted better content creation as being the number one reason for their improved success.

Yet only 4% of these marketers rate themselves as extremely successful. 

CMI adds: “As they have in the past, respondents who have a documented content marketing strategy report higher levels of overall content marketing success compared with those who have a verbal strategy only, or no strategy at all.”

Yet, despite this guaranteed success rate, only 37% of marketers still have a documented content strategy.

Here’s a quick slide of those statistics from the CMI report:

What exactly is IN a documented content strategy?

Here’s eleven top cores I’d direct you to consider. Note that it is much more than just a keyword report, or a topic calendar.

  1. Audience Persona (you’ve identified your audience so specifically that you have a name and a face)
  2. Your industry standout factor (Content Differentiation Factor)
  3. Your messaging, voice, and tone (Brand Style Guidelines)
  4. SEO keyword reports with high-value, high-opportunity keywords (researched consistently)
  5. Content creation plan & creation team in place
  6. Content types to create
  7. A content creation budget
  8. Editorial calendar with staff collaboration
  9. Social media platforms to build a presence on
  10. Guest blogging opportunities identified
  11. Content updating, tracking and maintenance plan in place

That’s a lot. 

You want to be in the 4% of content marketers that are “extremely successful,” right?

Then you need all eleven cores turning in your content wheelhouse.

But, here’s the issue.

You’re probably facing two questions right about now.

  • How the heck do you do all those things ^?
  • Where the heck can you find a support team, that is quality controlled, to outsource all those things ^?

the state of content marketing and why we launched new content strategy services

How & Why Our Mission These Days is to Solve Industry Problems & Help Brands Succeed By Offering the Best Content Strategy Services

Here’s the thing…

I’ve been focusing on this “big industry picture” since late 2016.

It all started when I began to look at these CMI Benchmark reports, and even asked myself “why are our blogging clients not renewing their order every month?”

Every year, content marketing investment and marketer buy-in goes up.

But the strategic success hasn’t really gone up at all.

Today, only 4% feel they’re very successful at content marketing in 2018.

You know what’s worse? Take a look at previous years’ records.

In 2016, 88% of marketers were doing content marketing – now, 91% are. In 2016, 32% had a documented content strategy: today, 37% do. In 2016, 6% rated themselves as highly effective.

Today, only 4% feel they’re highly effective.

That’s -2% from two years ago!

In my firm, I’ve seen success rise for my content marketing year-after-year.

I know by now that it is all about consistent content, and I also knewafter five years of trial and error, beyond a doubt the value of great content in content marketing – provided you get consistent and you know what you’re doing. When my brand went past 1,000 published blogs, I wrote about the results after looking through our sales forms. It’s rather mind-blowing. 500+ inbound lead inquiries from those 1,000 blogs, closed with a sale at an 80-85% rate. Those were high-value leads: just one converted at $75,000.

The success I’d experienced by using content marketing to power 99% of my own business success (for six years!) is the very reason I created a content strategy course.

I go through all the cores I just mentioned, and teach strategists at all beginner levels how to be successful. 

How to be in the top 4%.

By doing this, I want that industry metric to expand.

Expand from 4% to 10, 20%.

If brands get extremely effective at their content marketing, BIG things will happen for that brand.

They’ll get known: appreciated: earn a loyal, tight-knit fan base: and see sales roll in every day.

Hand in hand with the course are the content strategy services I’ve built in my content agency, Express Writers.

I started writing the core training for our “content planning,” “keyword research,” and “content consultation” 5 years ago–and that inspired the industry-wide course I launched last year.

We’re a content creation agency first and foremost, but truly: what is great content if you don’t have your fundamental strategy mapped out?

Recapping the Main Changes to Our Content Strategy Services for 2018

Here’s what the new product, Content Strategy, looks like:

new content strategy service

3 main changes to our content strategy services

  1. We revamped and improved each strategy service we offer (list of changes below), for the year.
  2. On top of that, I launched new internal training for our Strategists, straight from the cores of my 6-week, intensive content course at www.contentstrategycourses.com. All this happened in the last three weeks here at Express Writers.
  3. All of our content strategy services are now available from this one product link, Content Strategy, instead of multiple links for keyword research and the other variations inside this one service.

Keyword research has now become more finely tuned and available in two variations: Keyword research for blogging, keyword research for web page topics. We’ll research longer-tail keywords for your blog, that offer a high likelihood of ranking: and wider opportunities for your site, where you’d want to rank overall for bigger, bolder keywords.

Content planning and content planning blocks has turned into Topic Research, for web or blog. You’ll receive an editorial calendar with high-ROI topics analyzed, as well as a core keyword to use in the topic: and what’s more, we now research influencers for your topic area as well and give you an exported list in the Excel editorial calendar. Our topic headlines are highly-scored, and carefully analyzed by our Content Strategists.

We use some of the best tools on the market: SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Hawkeye by Scoop.it, and Mangools’ KWFinder. Our team Content Strategists are fully trained from my content strategy course cores on how to deliver keywords and high-ROI content topics.

Our Topic Planning is available in three variations:

See an example of a Topic Planning package, complete with editorial calendar.

What’s more, we now offer a follow-up call with you + our Content Strategists to make sure you’re able to get the most from your topic planning. This will help our clients understand how to use their keywords and topics in the best way for on-site ROI.

Interested? Click here to book a call with one of our staff members to talk about your content strategy needs, or view the new product by clicking on the image below.

cta new service

Let Us Power Up Your Content Strategy

We can’t wait to serve you with the best content for more success in your content marketing, this 2018.

If you’re looking for training for your agency, my Content Strategy Course could be a fit. (We’re relaunching a new and improved site late February, 2018!)

Need done-for-you strategic content marketing services?

We love serving custom, high-quality content to seasoned brands and agencies.

If that’s you, we’re a great match!

Talk to our team today about your content needs.

CTA content strategy