what not to do in your content marketing

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

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

Take that a step further…

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

You could be driving away customers without knowing it.

[insert audible groans for added effect]

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

The good news?

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

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

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

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

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

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

bored

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

1. Selling, Selling, Selling

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

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

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

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

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

bad_salesman

Don’t be like this guy.

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

2. Being Self-Focused vs. Customer-Focused

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Believing That More Is More

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

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

No. Nope. Not a chance.

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

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

QuantityVsQualityContinuum

Image via Scoop.it

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

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

4. Going Overboard with SEO

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

It’s bad SEO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

content-marketing-infographic

Image via Content Marketing Institute

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

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

Focus on your audience.

Focus on authenticity.

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

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

[/cue epic end music & happy crowd cheers]

happy crowd

 

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

cta

popular bloggers in content marketing

35 Popular Bloggers in Content Marketing You Should Be Following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bloggers in content marketing

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

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

I’ve got just the list for you!

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

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

1. Steve Rayson & the BuzzSumo Team

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

buzzsumo

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

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

2. The Smart Blogger Team

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

3. Seth Godin

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

seth godin

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

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

4. Copyblogger

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

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

5. Sujan Patel

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

sujan patel

6. Mark Schaefer – {grow} blog

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

7. Convince and Convert by Jay Baer

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

8. Jeff Goins

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

jeff goins

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

9. Joe Pulizzi & Content Marketing Institute

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

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

10. Jeff Bullas

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

11. CoSchedule

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

coschedule

12. Madalyn Sklar

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

madalyn sklar

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

13. Noah Kagan & OKDork

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

OkDork-OG-02

14. Valeria Maltoni & Conversation Agent

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

15. David Armano & Logic + Emotion

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

logic+emotion

16. Marc Meyer & Direct Marketing Observations

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

17. Branding Strategy Insider

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

18. Vertical Leap

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

19. Darren Rowse & ProBlogger

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

20. Ann Handley & Marketing Profs

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

ann handley

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

21. Michael Brenner & Marketing Insider

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

22. Social Media Explorer

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

socialmediaexplorer

23. TopRank Blog

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

24. Adam Connell & Blogging Wizard

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

adam connell

25. Social Media Examiner

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

26. DreamGrow Blog

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

27. Conversion Sciences Blog

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

28. Neil Patel & Quick Sprout

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

29. HubSpot Blog

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

30. Drew McLellan – Drew’s Marketing Minute

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

30. Chris Brogan

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

31. The Content Strategist (Contently)

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

32. Jesse Wisnewski – The Copybot

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

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

33. Econsultancy

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

34. Influential Marketing Blog

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

35. Joanna Wiebe & Copyhackers

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

copyhackers

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

Add These Popular Bloggers to Your Daily Digest

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

What is it?

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

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

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

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

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

content marketing industry

A Beginner’s Guide to the Content Marketing Industry: Where to Learn, What to Know

Content marketing.

Year after year, it continues to explode.

Google Trends Content Marketing

Google Trends results for “content marketing”

From B2B to B2C, everyone is getting in on the action.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 89% of B2B marketers are either already using content marketing or plan to do so in 2017.

The thing is, most of them have very little idea what they’re doing. And, because of this, they’re outsourcing a large portion of their content marketing efforts.

So what does that mean for you?

Well, it means there’s a whole lot of opportunity to grab a piece of the pie if you’re willing to get in the trenches and learn about the content marketing industry.

And we’re going to help you do just that.

Let’s get started.

beginners guide to content marketing

What Can Content Marketing Help You Accomplish?

The beauty of content marketing lies in the fact that it can help marketers and organizations accomplish multiple business goals at once.

As Content Marketing Institute contributor Andrea Fryrear puts it,

“Content marketing is kind of like a Swiss Army knife; it can do almost anything if you set it up the right way.”

Some of the main goals that it can help accomplish include:

2017-B2C-Research-Organizational-Goals-rev-600x387

In order to accomplish these goals, however, you’ll need to develop a deeper understanding of the components that make up the content marketing industry.

How to Learn About the Content Marketing Industry

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk currently heads three different companies in three completely different industries (SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity).

But what in the world can Musk teach us about content marketing?

It starts with his views on learning.

In an AMA that Musk took part in on Reddit, he was asked a question about how he’s able to learn so much so fast.

Question for Elon Musk

His response?

Musk Answer

The part we want to hone in on is his advice that, when attempting to learn something, you need to understand the fundamentals first before moving onto the leaves and details.

There are so many different aspects of content marketing.

If you try to learn the ins and outs of the industry without first understanding the fundamentals, you’ll get lost quickly.

Fundamentals first. Details second.

Check out the beginner's guide to #ContentMarketing via @ExpWriters! It shares the six fundamentals you need to know!Click To Tweet

The Fundamentals of Content Marketing

Let’s take a look at the six main fundamentals of content marketing. They include:

  1. Creating an Audience Persona
  2. Understanding SEO & Identifying High-Value Keywords
  3. Determining Content Types
  4. Creating an Editorial Calendar
  5. Understanding Content Publishing & Promotion
  6. Content Maintenance & Tracking Results

1. What You Need to Know About Creating an Audience Persona

The first rule of content marketing is simple; create audience-centric content.

As Neil Patel says, one of the biggest mistakes that content creators make is that they create content that isn’t ideal for their audience:

“When creating content with the ultimate goal of marketing a good or service, you have to know who your audience is. Understanding and targeting your audience is crucial to a successful content marketing campaign.”

Instead of being audience-centric, where they identify their audience and produce content that’s useful and relevant to them, these marketers instead create content and then try to find an audience for it.

This is a crushing mistake that will almost always lead to a failed content marketing strategy.

Content-Centric-VS-Audience-Centric-600x338

For this reason, creating an audience persona should be the first step when developing your content marketing strategy.

The personas you create serve as the catalyst for making sure that your content is relevant and useful to the audience you’re targeting.

And, in the end, content marketing success comes down to creating an audience persona where you’re able to identify your target audience, research them thoroughly, and figure out what THEY want you to talk about.

Where to Learn About Creating an Audience Persona

While there are quite a few resources to help guide you on how to create an audience persona, the two that I’ve found to offer the most actionable information on the topic include:

  1. Buffer The Complete, Actionable Guide to Marketing Persona
  2. Express WritersGuide on How to Develop a Target Persona and Reach Your Audience

2. What You Need to Know About SEO

The first thing you need to know is that SEO is actually all about content marketing, and vice versa.

One of the biggest problems with the mindset of modern content marketers is that, as Copyblogger founder Brian Clark mentions, they have,

“…a misguided impulse to put various tactics into separate boxes instead of seeing each as an aspect of one overarching strategic process.”

Instead of thinking of SEO and content marketing as two totally different tactics, Clark advises that,

“The smart way to practice effective online marketing is to treat social media and search engine results as aspects of a holistic strategy that centers around compelling content.”

While there was certainly a time when marketers could generate positive organic search results by focusing solely on technical SEO – and not on creating great content – that time has long since passed.

Today, SEO and content need to work together, along with social media, to form an online marketing combination capable of winning over customers that will stick around for the long term.

What You Need to Know About Identifying High-Value Keywords

The main thing you need to know about high-value keywords is that they have the power to transform your website, and business, when identified and used properly.

Interestingly enough, identifying high-value keywords, and building great content around those keywords, has been the main strategy that has helped turn Express Writers into a multi-million dollar agency.

In fact, using this strategy, we’ve gone from ranking for about 3,000 keywords back in November 2015 to ranking for over 11,000 as recently as June of 2017.

Take a look at this graphic from our case study about how we gained over 300 keyword positions in one day:

EW-total-traffic Nov 2015

At the time, we were ecstatic about these results. After all, we were generating monthly organic traffic worth $6.8k per month.

A year later, by September 2016, we were outranking competitors while quadrupling our monthly traffic and generating organic traffic worth $13.2k per month.

google-presence-Sep 2016

But it didn’t stop there. As of June 2017, we were ranking for over 11,000 keywords, our monthly organic traffic had risen to over 32,000 visitors, and our monthly traffic was worth $57.4k per month.

total traffic June 2017

And while I’m certainly proud of these results, I’m not showing you this to brag.

I’m showing you this so you can see what’s possible when you’re able to successfully identify high-value keywords and create amazing content around those keywords.

Where to Learn About SEO

I wrote a fairly comprehensive piece on how to write content for SEO that should get you on the right path towards successfully combining your SEO and content marketing tactics.

Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, also put together a great resource on what to know about content creation and SEO that you’d be wise to check out.

No matter what resources you use, however, it’s imperative that you understand the main message being presented by content marketing gurus like Neil Patel, Brian Clark, and Rand Fishkin.

That message is that you need to view SEO and content marketing like this:

seo-vs-content-marketing-2

And NOT like this:

seo-vs-content-marketing

Where to Learn About Identifying High-Value Keywords

You’d be hard pressed to find a better resource on identifying high-value keywords than Moz’s chapter on keyword research that lies within their beginner’s guide to SEO.

I’d also encourage you to check out our piece on why keyword research is vital, which also lays out some of the tools we use to identify the keywords that have led to our success in SERPs.

3. What You Need to Know About Determining Content Types

With all these options, what type of content should you create?

This is where things can get tricky. Since there are dozens, potentially even hundreds, of different types of content, determining which options are optimal for your business can be a major challenge.

Here’s a look at just a few of the content types that are available:

types of content

The simple way to answer this question, and determine what type of content we should create, is to go back to the rule we talked about when creating an audience persona.

That is, we always want to create audience-centric content.

If we maintain that focus, we can reframe the question from, “what type of content should I create?” to, “what type of content does my audience want?”

From there, we can make our decisions based off a combination of what our audience wants and what our goals are for the content we create.

If, for instance, our goal is to use our content to generate leads, then we’ll want to focus on a few of the many types of lead generating content that our audience wants.

On the other hand, if our goal is to build an audience that will become loyal, long-term customers, we can follow the lead of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI).

Creating audience-centric content is key if you want to succeed at #ContentMarketing! Learn more via @ExpWriters:Click To Tweet

How REI Cornered the Outdoor Clothing Market By Determining the Right Content to Create

REI is an outdoor clothing company that has used comprehensive, audience-centric content to build themselves into an organization with annual revenue in the 8-figures.

Their goal since the beginning has been to use content to inspire and educate their audience.

For education purposes, their website features an Outdoor Expert Advice section that has hundreds of detailed guides on topics ranging from mountain climbing and road cycling to backpacking and snowboarding.

REI Expert Advice GIF

For inspiration purposes, their Facebook page features regular posts intended to uplift their fans.

REI Facebook Page

They determined that education and inspiration were what their audience wanted. And, with that knowledge, they did everything in their power to make sure they created content based on those two principles.

This made it easy to determine their content types. On their website, they use long form guides. On their Facebook page, they create uplifting stories that are then featured on the REI blog.

Where to Learn About Determining Content Types

As we’ve mentioned, there are dozens of content types to choose from.

If you’re looking for some ideas, Convince & Convert contributor Nathan Ellering put together a list of 105 types of content to fill up your editorial calendar.

For more detailed information for determining content types for your specific audience, CMI contributor Michele Linn put together a great guide to creating content in formats your audience loves.

4. What You Need to Know About Creating an Editorial Calendar

The only thing that you really need to know about creating an editorial calendar, other than how to do it, is that it’s an essential piece of your content strategy.

When attempting to answer the question of whether or not you can benefit from it:

“Most of us know that the answer to that question is yes. We know that the number one way to get traffic to our blog is through the very habits that an editorial calendar will help us develop – organization.”

But it doesn’t just help with organization.

At this point, you’re probably aware that one of the main keys to a successful content marketing strategy is consistency.

When you commit to creating an editorial calendar, you’re putting a plan together that ensures this consistency.

Sure, you could go and put together your calendar and then never move forward with actually creating the content.

The likelihood of procrastinating on your content creation efforts, however, is significantly lower when you create an editorial calendar.

Where to Create A Dynamic Editorial Calendar

There are several different types of editorial calendars, although a large majority of them are fairly straight forward.

I love Airtable, for many reasons – mostly because it’s super simple, clean, and easy to use. They have preloaded templates you can start using right away. It’s a simple, more beautiful and dynamic version of Excel, but no harder than excel. And, you can share it with clients directly through email. (Check out Airtable’s blog calendar template here.)

I seriously haven’t found a better tool. I teach the use of Airtable in my content strategy course. Here’s the example calendar that I put together for my students:

airtable content calendar

Some marketers prefer to take the cost free route and create their editorial calendar (also referred to as a content calendar) through Google Sheets.

content-calendar-example

Others decide to use one of the many, multi-feature (and, expensive) content calendar tools available. Kapost and CoSchedule are two of the more popular options.

kapost content calendar example

To learn more about putting together a successful editorial calendar, check out Buffer contributor Kevan Lee’s guide to choosing a content calendar.

5. What You Need to Know About Content Publishing

Marketers are constantly searching for answers to questions like:

  • Where should I publish my content?
  • Should I be on as many social media platforms as possible?
  • Should I post the same content to each platform?

Earlier this year, I published an article offering a data-driven answer on where to publish your content.

In the post, I really wanted to make the point that answering this question should always start with finding out where NOT to publish.

Why? Because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the options out there.

You may think that it’s a good idea to create your content, post it on your blog, and then follow that up by posting it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, and every other platform under the sun.

The truth is, however, that it’s just not possible to be successful on every platform.

The reason for this goes back to the number one rule of content marketing: create audience-centric content.

Since different platforms have varying demographics, it would be an exhausting exercise to try and create content designed for each audience.

In the end, your best bet is to focus on building an audience through your blog while honing in on two social media platforms that feature your target audience.

What You Need to Know About Content Promotion

You already know that creating great content is absolutely necessary if you want your content strategy to succeed.

Unfortunately, as Neil Patel points out, many content creators don’t realize that,

“Creating content is only part of content marketing. The other half is promoting it. Don’t forget the ‘marketing’ in content marketing.”

The main point to take away here is that creating great content isn’t enough. That’s an expectation, not a differentiation factor.

By combining great content with a strong promotional strategy, however, you can set yourself up for success.

Where to Learn About Content Publishing

On top of the article outlined previously, Neil Patel’s blog post featuring 16 Ways to Skyrocket Your Blog Traffic is also a great resource.

Where to Learn About Content Promotion

There are tons of resources on content promotion throughout the web. The two that I’ve found to be most useful are:

  1. Content Marketing Institute6 How-To Strategies for Content Promotion
  2. Buffer How Content Promotion Works for Blogs Big and Small

6. What You Need to Know About Content Maintenance

When it comes to the life expectancy of content, the numbers can be pretty demoralizing:

content shelf life

Fortunately, if you perform maintenance effectively, you can extend the shelf-life of your content.

First things first, and as we’ve mentioned over and over again, you need to begin the process by creating strong content.

From there, the two major factors that are within your control when it comes to content maintenance include:

  1. Updating core content. Making changes to the main body text of your article.
  2. Rate of link growth. Using white hat SEO techniques to continually grow backlinks.

While it’s impossible to tell exactly how long a piece of content will last, you can significantly increase its chances of a long term lifespan by focusing on these two controllable maintenance methods.

What You Need to Know About Tracking Results

If you want to make consistent improvements to your content marketing efforts, it’s imperative that you understand how to track your results.

And while proving content marketing ROI was a near impossible task at one time, that’s no longer the case.

As Content Marketing Institute contributor Mike Murray shows us, there are over 101 Key Performance Indicators that can help you measure the effectiveness of your strategy.

When you’re able to match the KPIs to the unique goals of your business, measuring content marketing success becomes a fairly easy task.

Where to Learn About Content Maintenance

For information on updating your core content, Joe Fylan, of Elegant Themes, put together a great post on Why and How to Update Your Most Successful Blog Posts.  

As for growing backlinks, Nathan Gotch’s guide on How to Build Backlinks in 2017 will give you everything you need to move forward with that.

Where to Learn About Tracking Results

In addition to Murray’s list of KPIs, Cathy McPhillips put together a Simple Plan for Measuring the Marketing Effectiveness of Content that will help you get started with understanding how to track your results.

Where You Can Learn About All the Content Marketing Fundamentals in One Place

At this point, you’re aware of the main content marketing fundamentals that make up a successful content strategy.

And, if you’ve reviewed the resources laid out throughout this guide, you also have a brief idea of what each fundamental entails.

But, instead of navigating from site to site trying to master the fundamentals of content marketing, what if there was a way to learn them all in one place?

Fortunately, there is.

Earlier this month, I launched my Content Strategy Certification Course.

The course covers each of these fundamentals in detail, while also giving you the opportunity to expand your knowledge to create a massively successful content strategy for your own website.

It’s the EXACT SAME STRATEGY that we’ve used at EW to go, in less than 2 years, from:

November 2015: Ranked for 3,000 keywords, monthly traffic of 1.3k, and monthly organic traffic worth $6.8k

To…

June 2017: Ranking for over 11,000 keywords, monthly traffic of 32.3k, and monthly organic traffic worth $57.4k

By the end of the course, you’ll have everything you need to achieve these same results for your own website or that of your clients.

And you’ll even have a certificate to prove it.

Signing Up for the Content Strategy Certification Course

Currently, the course is closed as we work with the students who signed up for the initial launch.

We will, however, be reopening the course later this year.

If you’re interested in finding out how to create, execute, and maintain a massively successful content strategy, I strongly encourage you to sign up for our email list to be informed of the re-launch.

Sign up below to get notified when the course launches again!

As for now, I hope that the content marketing fundamentals that I’ve laid out for you can help you get a head start on becoming a better marketer.

And if you’d like some assistance with your content marketing strategy today, our team offers content planning services that can get you moving in the right direction. I encourage you to get in touch with our content strategists to find out how we can help guide you to marketing success.

surveys

How to Create & Easily Fit Surveys Into Your Content Marketing For Better, More People-Personalized Content

One of the best ways to figure out what your customers want is to ask them.

Don’t get me wrong – looking at numbers and statistics gleaned from various sources is helpful.

This includes comments on posts, Facebook likes, click-through rates, newsletter subscriptions, and more. But, you’ll never learn more than when you hear the truth straight from your audience.

This “ask the audience” technique isn’t difficult to carry out, either. It doesn’t require going “door-to-door,” so to speak. You don’t have to approach individuals directly through email or chat and query them.

Instead, get direct customer feedback the simple way – through surveys.

surveys, surveys in content marketing

Why Are Surveys Valuable for Content Marketing?

Surveys give you the chance to collect data you may not be able to glean through any other method. Here are a few more reasons to invest time and resources into them (we’ll go into the “how” soon).

1. They Foster Conversation and Engagement

These days, more than ever, content marketing is about engagement and community building.

It’s about keeping up a dialogue with your audience. You do this in a few ways: You answer questions and offer information. You learn what their problems or pain points are, and then you see how you can solve them.

Marketing is a continual conversation with your customers. However, you don’t want it to be one-sided.

You can never assume how your audience will respond to your content, and you can’t assume what they want from you. You have to keep the dialogue open if you want to know. You have to ask!

Surveys are one of the best ways to ask, hands-down.

survey says

2. Surveys Offer Valuable Insights

Not only do surveys keep that all-important dialogue open — they give you an avenue for insights.

According to Content Marketing Institute, asking your audience provides priceless data. This is information your carefully collected statistics can’t tell you.

Yes, your stats give a picture of what your customers are doing. However, one factor it can’t address is why they’re doing what they’re doing.

For instance, perhaps your stats tell you certain posts are more popular than others. Lumped together, these blogs don’t have much in common. Their popularity is confusing rather than enlightening. No matter how you look at the numbers, they’ll never give up the secret behind why some of your posts land and others fail.

Surveys can. With this tool, you can acquire useful information such as:

  • Impressions your brand has made, along with expectations and perceptions
  • How your content may or may not affect a customer’s decision-making process
  • Demographic information about your audience that may/may not affect purchasing decisions

Real world example: when I personally asked my audience for feedback about Express Writers’ services, we learned:

  • Pain points our products/services didn’t solve (but could, with a few tweaks!)
  • Exactly how we could serve our customers better, straight from their mouths
  • Pain points our customers experienced with our competitors (giving us the ability to know exactly how we were winning – which allowed us to use those direct points in home/sales page copy)

We never would have garnered these vital bits of knowledge without utilizing a survey. It allowed us to change tactics, hone our strategy, and give our customers exactly what they want. How can you beat that?

Now that you understand how integral a tool surveys can be, here are some easy ways to implement them.

How to Create Effective Surveys

An effective survey will depend on a variety of factors. You have to set a goal, choose the right tool, and ask the right questions. You also need to ask your questions at the right time.

1. Set a Specific Goal

Ideally, your survey should set out to answer a broad question. This should have to do either with reach, reputation, or results. Who is your content attracting, and is it the audience you want? Is your content marketing representing your brand in the right way? Is your content influencing customer decision-making?

2. Choose a Tool

The tool you use to carry out your surveys should be a platform that’s easy and suitable for your needs.

Google Consumer Surveys or SurveyMonkey are good tools for in-depth questionnaires. They let you target an audience, ask away, and collect the results. Google’s tool is a bit more bare-bones. SurveyMonkey can be exhaustive if you’re willing to shell out the funds.

surveymonkey_examplequestion

An example of question formatting from SurveyMonkey.

If you’re not quite ready to put together a formal survey, you’re not limited to traditional tools. You don’t have to carry out a survey in a standard way.

For instance, you can directly ask your readers a question on social media in a forum-like strategy that opens up the discussion. Here are some basic ideas:

  • Informally query your followers on Instagram
  • Pose a question to your Facebook followers
  • Throw out a question for a specific Facebook group, or create a Facebook poll
  • Quickly ask your audience one multiple-choice question using a feature on Twitter called “Twitter Poll”

Other options: You can go more informal and add a question to the end of a blog post, opening up the comments for discussion. While you’re at it, ask your email subscribers for their opinion on a matter, too.

Whatever your style, or information you’re looking to glean, you can gather it with the right tools.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

When surveying your audience, you’re asking for their time as much as their input. Be respectful of that and keep your surveys short and sweet.

Make questions easy to answer, and don’t overwhelm your readership with too many surveys in a short timespan. You’ll end up turning them off altogether instead of gaining useful feedback.

4. Ask Closed Questions

To collect data you can quickly sort and measure, keep your questions closed versus open-ended. For example, instead of asking, “What do you think of our company?” – which could elicit any number of opinions – ask “Which answer is closest to your impression of our company?” and provide a limited number of selections to choose from.

Setting limits on possible answers will limit the amount of data you’ll have to sift through. This makes it easier to analyze.

Here are some examples of closed questions on a SurveyMonkey template:

surveymonkey_surveytemplate

5. Ask About Past Behaviors – They’re More Quantifiable

You can never predict what people will do – and, truly, neither can they. You can only assess your audience by what they have done in the past. The only measurable action is the one that’s completed.

Asking questions that probe past behaviors are also easier to answer. It’s far simpler to think about what you have done than to definitively say what you will do in an uncertain future situation.

6. Send Survey Invites at Opportune Times

One part of getting people to respond to your survey is timing. If you send invites at the wrong moment or to the wrong people, you’ll do nothing but turn them off.

For example, give your audience time to dig into your content before you throw a survey link at them. Include it at the bottom of a post, not the top. Similarly, don’t ask readers who haven’t engaged with your brand to fill out a survey. A pop-up right when they click onto your website isn’t tempting – it’s annoying and unwarranted. What do they know about you at that point? Nothing.

Instead, try hitting up your email subscribers, your blog readers, and your social media followers. Use common sense and go where your people are.

Then, once you have your survey locked in and ready to go, you can unleash it on the world. Or, if your goals are less dramatic, you can share it, send it, and promote it.

The stationery sellers at Paper Source invited customers to their survey with an email. They sweetened the deal and offered 10% off, too.

papersource_surveyinvite

How to Seamlessly Incorporate Surveys into Your Content Marketing

You’ve learned about the tools you can use to quiz your customers. You understand that survey-taking doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t have to involve long pages with dozens of questions and answers.

Now that you know which tactic will work best for you, how do you implement it?

1. Use a CTA

If you have a longer survey you would like your audience to take, point them in that direction with a CTA.

Include a CTA at the end of a blog post, in a social media post, or at the end of one of your newsletter emails. Remember: If you don’t promote your survey and point a finger at it, shouting, “Hey! Look at this!” nobody will know it exists.

As you know, a survey without any responses is useless.

2. Send an Email

We’ve already covered this, but it’s a good avenue for responses. It’s worth a shot to send your survey in an email to your newsletter subscribers.

Why? These are people who have already invested in your company in a small way. They want to keep up with your news and goings-on. Sending them your survey is a logical step – not unwarranted, and most likely effective.

3. Offer Survey Incentives

There’s nothing like a good incentive to get people motivated. Offer up something in exchange for taking your survey. You may get more interest and responses as a result.

For instance, give survey-takers a coupon code at the end of the questionnaire. Or, automatically enter their name into a raffle or giveaway. This shows your customers that you value their time and appreciate their help.

4. Post the Results

Fortunately, surveys are bits of research you can share in your content marketing. Round up the results, analyze and quantify them, and write up a blog post or article about your findings. Create an infographic, a slide presentation, or an ebook.

Look at how Hubspot turned their survey about the state of content marketing into an eye-popping infographic:

hubspot_survey

These are great pieces of content because they’re original. They position you as an authority in your industry. Plus, you’ll help push industry knowledge to new heights by sharing your results with other thought leaders.

If your survey gets a generous response and you gain a host of valuable insights, it’s transparent and forthright to share, too. That doesn’t only build authority – that builds trust.

Bottom Line: Surveys for Content Marketing Are So Worth Your Time

Think about this scenario: You have all kinds of stats gathered from sources like website hits, ad clicks, Facebook likes, blog post comments, and email subscriptions.

You can see what your audience is doing – how they’re interacting with your brand and your content. You just don’t know why.

Why is that one post so popular? Why does one ad work while another fails? Why are you getting tons of conversions on one version of a landing page, but not another?

That’s exactly what surveys are for.

Surveys give you the why behind the numbers, figures, and stats. For instance, they tell you:

  • Why customers make purchasing decisions
  • Why customers like you
  • Why a particular ad, piece of content, or something similar works (or doesn’t work)

And, more importantly, surveys can tell you who these people are.

Surveys can become an integral piece of your marketing puzzle. The information they provide is priceless. You only need the right questions, the right tools, and the right strategy.

That’s one small step for your bottom line, and one giant leap for your brand.

Need to know ALL the ins and outs of strategy? Build a content strategy from the ground up and learn how to create high ROI content in our new course.

blog cta 2 course

content marketing plan

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

Benjamin Franklin once said,

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

Mr. Franklin was a smart man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how do you do this?

You do it by creating a bulletproof content marketing plan.

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

Let’s get started.

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

content marketing plan guide

Why Do You Need a Content Marketing Plan?

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

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

Content Strategy Infographic

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

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

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

This isn’t a coincidence.

Having a documented plan is crucial to content marketing success.

The 6 Steps to Developing a Rock Solid Content Marketing Plan

You know you need a plan.

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

1. Know Your Goals and How to Measure Them

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

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

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

But knowing your goals isn’t enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Reasons to Define Your Target Audience

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

But how do you do it?

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

  1. Basic Demographics
  2. Psychographics

Walker recommends that you always start with basic demographics.

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

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

Daily Egg DemographicsAs he goes on to say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chart_Brand_Personality-main-1

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

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

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

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

Reasons for Performing a Content Audit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Questions After Content Audit

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

4. Generate Content Ideas

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

But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

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

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

Moz’s Keyword Explorer

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

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

Moz Keyword Explorer

Answer the Public

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

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

answer the public

Bloomberry

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

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

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

BloomBerry

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

5. Know What Type of Content You Want to Create

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

There are dozens of content formats to choose from:

Lists of Content Formats

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

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

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

The One Home Run Per Quarter Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Home Run Content

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

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

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

Ebook Download Info for LinkedIn

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

Repurposing Your Home Run Piece

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Create a Content Calendar

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

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

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

Editorial Calendar

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

Go Create Your Content Marketing Plan

You’ve got everything you need at this point.

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

Go.

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

 

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

fly high cta express writers

freelance copywriter

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

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

And why wouldn’t they?

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

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

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

CMI Top Content Marketing Challenges

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

After all, content marketing is hard.

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

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

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

The answer…personal, brand-fitted freelance copywriters.

freelance copywriter for content marketing

Why Freelance Copywriters for Your Content Marketing?

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

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

Content Specialist Salary

But what about the cost of a highly skilled freelancer?

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

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

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

Now let’s do some easy math:

16 Blog Posts x 12 Months = 192 Posts Per Year

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

$150 x 192 Posts = $28,800

versus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other reason?

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

Let’s take a look at three examples.

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

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

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

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

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

And why would I do that?

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

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

content life cycle

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

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

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

sitepronews-lead-screenshot-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremey Duvall Zapier Freelancer

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

Hiring Freelancers to Become In-House Team Members

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Patel and Hiten Shah are master marketers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Writer

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

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

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Copywriter

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

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

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

Finding, Hiring, and Working With Freelance Copywriters

Finding quality freelancers can be tough.

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

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

Editor Tips for Finding Freelancers

Other potential options include:

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

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

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

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

Hiring Freelancers

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

Freelancer Agreement

Working With Freelancers

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

Use Freelancers to Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level

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

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

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


fly cta express writers

 

content strategy certification

I Launched a Content Strategy Certification Course! How It Can Help You Succeed In the Industry

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

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

One of my 2017 goals has just happened. I’ve poured out my heart, soul, energy, and early 5 a.m. mornings into creating an ultimate industry course.

My content strategy certification course.

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

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

content strategy certification course

Why Is There a Need for a Content Strategist Certification Course?

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of that is the meat of content strategy.

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

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

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

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

What I taught myself fuels my expertise.

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

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

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

I’ve even slated top experts to appear on video with me which will go in certain modules of the course to give my students that much more depth on the subject. Besides filming 60 videos (you heard that right — but they’re short: 2–10 minutes each) for the lessons.

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

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

My office whiteboard got super messy while I planned and worked all the content out.

content strategist certification course outlining

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

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

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

That’s serious stuff right there.

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

Yikes!

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

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

cmi content marketing 2017

Yet only 3% rate it as extremely successful:

cmi content success

What causes the drop?

A lack of direction with content strategy.

OK, great – next logical question:

But what the heck is a content strategy?

Ah, great question.

It can be hard to even answer this one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

venn diagram content strategy julia

Why Should You Listen to Me Teach Content Strategy?

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

Here’s the thing.

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

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

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

Here’s another thing.

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

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

So, the idea for the certification course was born.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, enough convincing.

Sign up at contentstrategycourse.com!

Launch date: June 27, 2017.

Enrollment closes: July 11.

I’m offering two levels in the course, and one level is going to include a LOT of bonuses. I’m partnering up with some pretty cool SEO/content tools to make big things happen for my students!

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

– Julia
blog cta 2 course

yoda content marketing

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

May the 4th be with you!

It’s Star Wars Day!

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

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

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

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

yoda content marketing inspirations

Inspirations from The Greatest Story Character: The History of Yoda

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

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

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

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

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

A Timeline of Yoda’s Original Appearances

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

yoda content marketing infographic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yoda Chronicles Screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

The Genius of Star Wars Marketing

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

That’s a lot of dough.

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

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

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

Covergirl Screenshot

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

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

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

Lucky Charms Screenshot

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

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

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

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

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

yoda content marketing

1. An ideal, well-developed character

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

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

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

yoda twitter

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

2. Accessibility

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

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

3. Humor

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

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

Yoda Meme Screenshot

4. Likable and relatable

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

Yoda: The Content Marketing Hero You Never Expected

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

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

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

Express Writers Celebrates Star Wars Day (In Pictures)

star wars card

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

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

bookshelves

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

tara star wars

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

happy star wars day express writers

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

May the 4th be with you!


yoda cta

content marketing

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

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

Decent is boring.

Unremarkable.

It doesn’t stand out.

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

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

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

The answer is simple:

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

Here’s your step-by-step guide.

content marketing presence

The Boring Content Marketing Epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Epically Amazing Content Matters

I know what you’re thinking.

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

The answer is no.

Not by a long shot!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few facts to illustrate my point:

content marketing stats

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

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

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

The Benefits of Epic Content

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

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

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

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

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

5 Tips to Create Epically Awesome Content

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

1. 10x Your Research

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

Much harder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the moving parts in this clip:

gifographic

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Structure Your Content Correctly

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

Here are a few tips:

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

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

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

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

4. Take Your Time With Content Creation

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

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

Here’s a process to follow:

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

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

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

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

storytelling in web content

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

5. Find A Professional To Help You

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

There are dozens of benefits to this.

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

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

The Future is Bright For Your Content Marketing

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

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

So, what are you waiting for?

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

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

art of copy express writers

contrarian content marketer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to be a contrarian content marketer

Diving Into Contrarian Content Marketing: The Secret of Controversial Content

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

contrarian

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

Quick, answer this question:

True or false:

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

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

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

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

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

This isn’t just speculation.

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

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

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

Here are just a few benefits of controversial content:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

contrarian content marketer 1

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

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

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

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

express writers publishing

2. Building Effective, Highly-Engaged Communities

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

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

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

write podcast

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

#contentwritingchat section

3. A Firm Consistency to the Investment of Standing Out

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

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

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

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

5 Unique, Creative Tips for Developing Standout Content Marketing Ideas

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

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

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

1. Dig Deeper Into Social & Mine for Topics

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

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

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

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

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

2. Develop a Process for Qualification

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

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

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

3. Get Visual

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

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

4. Make it Intellectual

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

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

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

5. Watch (Select) Influencers

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

3 Examples of Great Contrarian Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing Contrarian Marketing Into Your Digital Strategy

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

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

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

 

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

art of copy express writers