Content Marketing KPIs

Content Marketing KPIs: Which Ones Do I Track to Identify Real Success? (& How to Track Them)

How do you track your content marketing successes (or failures, to learn from and improve next time)?

It all boils down to tracking the right content marketing KPIs.

Note that we didn’t say all the content marketing KPIs – just the right ones.

You aren’t alone if you’re wondering why some content marketers succeed and others fail.

What makes the difference between the two? 🤔

Is it the volume of website traffic? The number of likes, comments, and shares? Revenue from unequivocal quality content?

All those are examples of content marketing KPIs (key performance indicators). Some matter more than others. If you want success, you need to know which content marketing KPIs to track.

Here are the top twelve that should be at the top of your list. Let’s dive in!

Content Marketing KPIs: Which Ones to Track & How to Track Them Correctly

Why Track Content Marketing KPIs?

The Top 12 Content Marketing KPIs to Track

Content Marketing KPIs for User Behavior

1. Bounce Rate

2. Scroll Depth

3. Time on Page

Content Marketing KPIs for User Engagement

4. Shares

5. Comments

6. Conversations

Content Marketing KPIs for SEO

7. Backlinks

8. Organic Traffic from Search Engines

9. Keyword Rankings

Content Marketing KPIs for Company Revenue

10. Leads

11. Conversion Rates

12. ROI

Content Marketing KPIs Measure Your Success

How do you define real success in the world of content marketing? 🗝️ @JuliaEMcCoy lists down the top 12 content marketing KPIs that you should keep track of to identify if your efforts are producing great results. ☝️ Click To Tweet

Why Track Content Marketing KPIs?

In sports, it’s easy to track success. For example, think of soccer. In soccer, your aim is to get the ball through the goal. One goal equals one point. The team with the most goals wins the match.

But content marketing isn’t that simple. It’s like playing soccer with a hundred goals instead of two. What’s more, when you shoot the ball into the goal, you aren’t sure what score you’ll get. Some goals give you a hundred points while others give you two points.

The key with this type of soccer is first to find out which goals give you the highest points. Then you start putting energy into shooting the ball into them.

This is what tracking content marketing KPIs is all about.

You need to find out which content marketing KPIs are important and give you the highest improvements (scores). Then, you set out to outperform yourself on them.

When you track the right content marketing KPIs, you’ll start winning in content marketing.

Why bother tracking content marketing KPIs? 🕵️ Getting to know which KPIs perform well gives you an idea of how you can further boost them. It's also good to know which ones badly need a strategy makeover. 🔨 Click To Tweet

The Top 12 Content Marketing KPIs to Track

These 12 content marketing KPIs are your safety net and formula for success. Let’s dive in!

Content Marketing KPIs for User Behavior

First of all, let’s look closely at content marketing KPIs that show you how users interact with your content.

1. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate refers to the number of visitors who view only one page of your site. It’s one of the top content marketing KPIs because it tells you what visitors feel about your content.

Here are 5 reasons visitors click on your site, scan it, and immediately click the back button.

  • Your content is boring.
  • Your paragraphs are too long.
  • Visitors can’t find what they’re looking for.
  • Your site isn’t user-friendly.
  • Your writing style doesn’t fit user needs.

For example, if you’re a user and you find this as the opening paragraph of a blog?

Source: Grammarly

You’ll most likely run for the hills with your go-to back button.

The more visitors click the back button without visiting any other pages on your site, the higher your bounce rate will be.

So what’s a good bounce rate? According to The Daily Egg, it depends on what industry you’re in. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep your bounce rate below 70%.

2. Scroll Depth

Scroll depth is one of the content marketing KPIs that’s closely related to bounce rate. Scroll depth indicates how far down the page your reader goes before leaving.

What causes a reader to leave your page halfway through reading it? Mostly, it’s when you don’t follow through with the promises you made in your headline.

For example, maybe your headline looks like this.

Source: Have The Relationship You Want from Rori Raye

This headline makes one promise: After you read the article, you’ll know the secret to winning the man of your dreams. Forever.

Now, what if you’ve reached the halfway mark and you’re nowhere near discovering this secret? You guessed it. You’re going to click back.

The point where you stopped reading is your scroll depth.

Keeping track of your readers’ scroll depth will help you figure out exactly where your content stops working. This is one of the content marketing KPIs you can rely on because it helps you measure the success of your content.

3. Time on Page

As the name suggests, time on page refers to how long users spend on your page. Using this valuable content marketing KPI, you can tell what your readers feel about your words.

According to Capitalize My Title, it takes an average of 1 minute to read 300 words.

Now, if your blog has 1,500 words and your reader spent only 2 minutes on it? That’s right. He didn’t read everything.

What you need to track is reader time on page corresponding to how many words your post has. If readers are clicking back after less than a minute but scrolling to the end of the page? They’re scanning your headings but not devouring your content.

As a valuable KPI for content marketing, time on page shows you if readers are loving your content or not.

Content marketing KPIs for user behavior include 🔙 bounce rate, 🖱️ scroll depth, and ⌛ time on page. Know what each KPIs are in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy 📝 Click To Tweet

Content Marketing KPIs for User Engagement

When anything is inspiring, controversial, or new, it will be talked about. This is why user engagement is one of the huge content marketing KPIs to keep track of.

4. Shares

You need to keep track of how often your content gets shared on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Shared content is one of the biggest content marketing KPIs in 2019 because of how big social media is.

To give you an idea, take a look at how popular social media is today.

You need to track this content marketing KPI religiously because, in social media, it’s plain difficult to stand out.

For example, take Facebook. Facebook users are bombarded daily with distractions. There’s instant messaging. Inspiring quotes from friends. Posts from an ex. Photos of a rival’s latest vacation. If your content can compete with all of these and get shares? That’s right. Your content is beyond juicy and delicious.

Here’s an example from Bright Side called 10 Things We Don’t Appreciate Until Life Slaps Us on the Face.

It’s easy to see why this post got 1,700 shares on Facebook. It’s innately human, relatable, and despite being sad, strangely hopeful.

Want to learn the 11 top skills for becoming a top-notch content marketer? Download our Profitable Content Marketer Cheat Sheet here!

5. Comments

Comments on your posts are huge content marketing KPIs because they show that users consider you worth their time.

Let’s take a look at this example from English Literature’s Facebook page.

Source: Facebook

As you can see, the post has only 381 comments compared with 27,000 reacts and 9,900 shares. Why is that?

It’s simple. Composing, editing, and posting a comment takes more time and energy than liking and sharing combined.

So if people are commenting on your posts, sharing their insights, and asking advice? You’ve nailed it with this huge content marketing KPI.

6. Conversations

In content marketing, conversations refer to how you talk to your prospective clients. This includes live calls, chat, discount coupons, and more.

Conversations are important content marketing KPIs because the buying process has drastically changed over time. Buyers are now more informed, skeptical, and careful. They can no longer be bullied into the traditional 4-stage sales funnel that worked wonders in the 20s.

Instead, they go through the marketing lifecycle. Part of this lifecycle is finding value in products and services, asking questions, and getting the right information. When you have experts standing by to talk to prospective clients, you can get a 60%-80% conversion rate!

If you carefully take care of your conversations as vital content marketing KPIs, you’ll win over brands still relying on the outdated sales funnel strategy.

Content marketing KPIs for user engagement include 📨 shares, 🗭 comments, and 🗣️ conversations. Know what each KPIs are in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy 📝 Click To Tweet

Content Marketing KPIs for SEO

7. Backlinks

Backlinks are essential content marketing KPIs.

To understand this, let’s look at what backlinks do. Check out this image from Moz.

As you can see, website A has a link to website B. There are a number of reasons why one website links to another.

  • It makes a site more valuable as a resource.
  • It encourages engagement with other sites.
  • It sends out trackable traffic.

So if other sites are linking to you, what does it mean? Simply, it means they trust you. You have vouch-worthy, high-quality content and a good standing online.

Backlinks are essential content marketing KPIs, but make sure yours are high-quality and not black hat SEO links.

8. Organic Traffic from Search Engines

Another great content marketing KPIs to watch is organic traffic. When you get a ton of traffic from search engines, you’re doing something right with your content.

Take a look at this pie chart from Conductor Spotlight.

Since 64% of traffic comes from organic search, it’s a good idea to keep your Google ranking high.

However, even if your content is good, it won’t obtain a high ranking on search engines if it isn’t optimized correctly. To pull traffic into your site from search engines, you need quality content plus cutting-edge search engine optimization (SEO) practices.

Want to learn how to rank highly on Google through stellar SEO writing? Download our SEO content writer cheat sheet here!

9. Keyword Rankings

Keyword rankings are content marketing KPIs closely related to organic traffic. What to look for is how many keywords your content is ranking for on Google. To do this, you can use great software like Google Analytics.

Content marketing KPIs for SEO include 🖇️ backlinks, ⛖ organic traffic, and 🏎️ keyword rankings. Know what each KPIs are in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy 📝 Click To Tweet

Content Marketing KPIs for Company Revenue

10. Leads

Leads are potential clients who come to you via a lead magnet. In short, users exchange their personal information and e-mail addresses for a freebie you offer.

Here’s a popular lead magnet from International Living.

Want to know the world’s top 10 havens for retirement? All you need to give is your e-mail address. Sounds like a good exchange! This magnet provides International Living with leads and a growing e-mail list.

The more leads you have, the bigger your chance of growing your brand. This is why you should track your leads as essential content marketing KPIs.

11. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is one of the best KPIs for content marketing because it shows how compelling your content is. Conversion happens when you tell users what to do and how they do it.

Take a look at Great Escape Publishing’s homepage.

Source: Great Escape Publishing

Who doesn’t want to travel the world while creating a full-time income? Users are curious and click find out more. A percentage of them will buy a photography or travel program. This percentage is the conversion rate to watch out for when tracking content marketing KPIs.

12. ROI (Return on Investment) 

ROI refers to the revenue you get minus your total investment. For content marketing, it’s how much you earn minus writer pay, the cost of hosting your website, and other expenses you incur in business.

Source: Business 2 Community

When tracking ROI, take into account the required expenses to get quality content. Then, note how such content is performing. Does it bring in higher revenue than expense?

For example, take a look at this chart.

Stellar content works like this. It builds momentum. As can be seen in the chart, the cost per lead dropped 80% in five months because of the high revenue the content brought in.

Content marketing KPIs for company revenue include 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 leads, 🛒 conversion rate, and 💰 return on investment. Know what each KPIs are in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy 📝 Click To Tweet

Content Marketing KPIs Measure Your Success

Keeping track of these 12 KPIs will show you if you’re succeeding or failing in content marketing. Not getting good results from one or more indicates serious trouble for your brand.

On the other hand, if all 12 are performing well, you can sit back, relax, and celebrate a little. But don’t forget to get back to work tracking them once the party’s over.

You need content that converts to take your KPIs to the next level. Visit our content shop to get it.

top shared content of 2019

The Top-Shared Content of 2019: 22 Pieces That Rose to the Top

To start off 2020 with a bang, we’re taking a deep, researched look at what went right in content in the past year.

We’re looking at…

Content pieces with huge engagement. 🦄

Beautiful, successful blogs. ✨

And we’re sharing a massive shoutout to the marketers, writers, and teams behind the effort and sweat put into these pieces.️ ♥

(Because content will never be taken over by the robots. It will always, first and foremost, be humanly driven. Humans are the real content MVPs.)

To compile our list, we used BuzzSumo’s powerful content analyzer and compiled the top-shared content in our topic category “content marketing.”

And after coming up with a list, we manually weeded out the spam.

The result? 22 pieces made of pure gold. We can’t wait to share them with you!

Ready to be inspired?

Inspiration, Lessons, and Insights from the 22 Most-Shared Content Pieces of 2019

most shared content

The 22 Most Shared Content Pieces of 2019

1. 2019 Creative Trends Infographic – Shutterstock

2. 15 Content Marketing Tools for Success You Need in 2019

3. Interview with Neil Patel on Content Marketing with Awesome Rapid Fire

4. 18 Types of Content Marketing You Can Use to Grow Your Business

5. How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019

6. The Death of Google Search Traffic and What It Means for Marketers

7. We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing

8. The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Facebook Engagement

9. The Ultimate SEO Tool: Ubersuggest 3.0

10. 7 Steps to Create a Successful, Profitable Blog

11. 17 Charts That Show Where Content Marketing Is Heading

12. Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More Than Ever in 2019

13. The Best Time to Post on Instagram (and the Worst)

14. 3 Ways Content Marketing Boosts Your SEO Rankings

15. Ubersuggest 4.0: The Ultimate Content Marketing Tool

16. Optimizing for Searcher Intent Explained in 7 Visuals

17. 3 Types of Social Video That Work for Any Business

18. Copywriting: The Definitive Guide (2019)

19. 26 Mobile and Desktop Tools for Marketers

20. 5 Freaking Genius Content Ideas You Can Steal from BuzzFeed

21. The Future of Content Marketing and How to Adapt

22. 5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing

Now as the year comes to a close, it's time to look back on the top-shared content of 2019 that gained the most engagements under 'content marketing' 🏅(⚡ Spoiler: @JuliaEMcCoy's SEJ post is in the 22nd spot!) See if your fave is here! 🤩 Click To Tweet

The 22 Top-Shared Content Pieces of 2019

1.  Shutterstock: “2019 Creative Trends Infographic

Number of engagements: 17,300

Shutterstock’s post pulses with color, music, and art. It features wild photos of duotone gradients, cutouts of stars and fish, and striking images of leopard prints, snakeskin patterns, and gold chains.

But reading the article is more than falling into a well of technicolor. Here are the key takeaways readers get from it:

  • The major trends based on increased user search are 80’s opulence, raw zine culture, and early-tech neon styles.
  • Rising trends include environmentally friendly products, childlike pastel Kawaii colors, rococo romance, prisms, and hypnotic patterns.
  • For the first time ever, a typography style takes a seat at the creative trends table. Think 3D text made sweet with sugar dusting, chocolate coating, and sprinkles!

Overall, this piece is a colorful adventure to read. Plus, it gives useful insights on styling trends in 2019.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring Shutterstock's '2019 Creative Trends Infographic' Click To Tweet

2. Dillenium: 15 Content Marketing Tools for Success You Need in 2019 by Hina Naz

Number of engagements: 8,000

You won’t be successful in content marketing without an array of fine tools. In this blog, Hina Naz lists everything you need to add to your toolkit in 2019.

What I love about this blog is it isn’t limited to tools for keyword research. Hina lists a tool for perfecting grammar (Grammarly) a headline analyzer (Sharethrough Analyzer), an organizer (Evernote), and more!

No wonder this post made it to number two of the top-shared content of 2019!

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @NazHina's '15 Content Marketing Tools for Success You Need in 2019' Click To Tweet

3. Sorav Jain: “Interview with Neil Patel on Content Marketing with Awesome Rapid Fire

Number of engagements: 6,800

Ever wonder what Neil Patel does to stay fit?

Or how he built his gigantic digital marketing empire?

In this Youtube interview, Sorav Jain successfully mashes entertainment with serious questions about what it is to be an entrepreneur. It’s a mixture of laughter and heart-to-heart that’ll get you thoughtfully nodding your head.

Neil answers questions about:

  • His top three favorite marketing tools
  • The secret to how he built his empire
  • The biggest lie he ever told a client
  • His diet and exercise regime
  • His digital marketing predictions for 2019 and 2020

My favorite part? When Neil tries and fails to say “I love digital marketing and I cannot live without it,” in Gujarati.

The most inspiring thing he said?  “Entrepreneurship is like a rollercoaster… there’s good moments, bad moments, scary moments, happy moments. You’ve just got to accept it all.”

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @SoravJain's 'Interview with Neil Patel on Content Marketing with Awesome Rapid Fire' Click To Tweet

4. Marketing Solved: “18 Types of Content Marketing You Can Use to Grow Your Business” by Kat Sullivan

Number of engagements: 6,100

Most posts will give you a list of the top five or ten types of content that’ll grow your business. Kat goes further and gives you 18.

Each section of Kat’s blog is carefully detailed. She doesn’t only tell you which types of content to post but also why it’ll work for you.

According to her, the big three of content marketing are blogging, social media, and email marketing. In fact, she used this secret trifecta to grow her business to six figures in under two years!

Start with Kat’s trifecta, and once you grow to cover all 18, your empire will be rock solid.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @MrktgSolved's @MrsKatSulli's '18 Types of Content Marketing You Can Use to Grow Your Business' Click To Tweet

5. Neil Patel: “How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019” by Neil Patel

Number of engagements: 6,000

This post starts off making readers uncomfortable. In the beginning, Neil throws hints about the huge, unwanted changes coming to digital marketing in the (near) future.

The deeper you go into the blog, the more uneasy you feel. The changes Neil mentions will definitely rock your content marketing boat. Here are some of them:

  • In a few years, voice search will make all our current SEO strategies useless.
  • Algorithms will only grow more complex with time.
  • Blogging will become weaker as the web gets more saturated.

The good news? Neil ends the blog with powerful insights on how to confidently prepare for and meet these changes.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @neilpatel's 'How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2019' Click To Tweet

6. Social Media Examiner “The Death of Google Search Traffic and What It Means for Marketers” by Mike Stelzner

Number of engagements: 5,700

Ever seen a movie about the controversial issue of AI technology replacing humans? This post is like that.

But this time, it’s about the death of organic search as friendly AI systems like Alexa and Google make it their mission to answer users’ questions as quickly as possible.

That’s right. No more links, no more web pages, no more web as we know it today. Pretty scary stuff!

So what’s Michael Stelzner’s take on this? How is Social Media Examiner preparing to take these changes head-on?

Here are three things they’re doing to prepare for SEO Armageddon:

  • Working on their conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Upping their video and audio game
  • Writing expert opinion pieces

As a content marketer, you should be doing them too!

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @SMExaminer's @Mike_Stelzner's 'The Death of Google Search Traffic and What It Means for Marketers' Click To Tweet

7. Backlinko: “We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing” by Brian Dean

Number of engagements: 5,700

The headline of this post is a huge attention-grabber. 912 million blog posts is a lot of content to go through!

But it’s not only the headline that’s great about this blog. It’s also the 11 key takeaways that should be part of every content marketer’s bible. Some of them include:

  • Long-form content gets around 77% more links than short content.
  • Long content outperforms short content in user engagement.
  • Headlines ending in question marks get around 23% more social shares.

The 11 findings in this blog can be mixed together as a recipe for producing successful content every time.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @Backlinko's 'We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here’s What We Learned About Content Marketing' Click To Tweet

8. BuzzSumo: “The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Facebook Engagement” by Susan Moeller

Number of engagements: 5,700

According to this amazing guide by Susan Moeller, marketing on Facebook is entirely different from marketing on the web.

Facebook is about users engaging with family, friends, and pages they’re interested in.

So how can you compete for user attention in today’s biggest social network?

Here are four (of the many) facts Susan points out:

  • 80% of marketing posts should be videos.
  • The best time to post on Facebook is Sunday.
  • Unlike on the web, shorter posts get more attention on Facebook. In fact, posts with less than 50 characters are the most successful!
  • The sweet spot for video length is between 3:00 to 3:20.
See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @BuzzSumo's 'The 2019 Ultimate Guide to Facebook Engagement' by @SusanCMoeller Click To Tweet

9. Neil Patel: “The Ultimate SEO Tool: Ubersuggest 3.0” by Neil Patel

Number of engagements: 4,900

This post by Neil Patel is all business. In it, he introduces his newly-updated SEO tool: Ubersuggest 3.0.

Here are four things the tool can do for you:

  • Find out how many keywords your site ranks for
  • Learn how much organic traffic would cost you if you were paying for it
  • Find out the most popular pages for a single domain
  • Search your competition and see how their pages are doing (so you can create better, more in-depth content to outrank them)

Of course, Neil stays true to his style and offers complete guidance on how to use his sparkling, newly updated tool.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @neilpatel's 'The Ultimate SEO Tool: Ubersuggest 3.0' Click To Tweet

10. BuzzSumo: “7 Steps to Create a Successful, Profitable Blog” by Mike Allton

Number of engagements: 4,700

This post is every beginner blogger’s ultimate guide to getting a successful blog started. It teaches how to find your unique blogging voice, how long your posts should be, how often to post, and more.

The blog’s structure is simple to digest and follow. It outlines the seven crucial steps you need to get your blog up and running.

Here are some cool tips from the post itself:

  • In the beginning, it’s not about how many blogs to post per week. It’s about how soon you want to generate sizeable traffic. For instance, you need around 50 posts to start getting traffic. If you’re okay with getting that in a year, you can post one blog a week. However, if you want to get it in 90 days, you need to boost your blogging strategy.
  • There are 16x more blog posts under 1,000 words than over it. However, blog posts over 1,000 words get more engagement because of their depth and expertise.
  • To find your unique blogging voice, take a moment to listen to the way you speak. Then, find out how your target market speaks. When writing your posts, blend these two voices together to discover your unique tone.
See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @BuzzSumo's '7 Steps to Create a Successful, Profitable Blog' by @mike_allton Click To Tweet

11. Neil Patel: “17 Charts That Show Where Content Marketing is Heading” by Neil Patel

Number of engagements: 4,700

Today, there are over a billion blogs vying for reader attention. How can your blog stand out, gain traffic, and give you the conversions you’re looking for?

With 17 useful charts, Neil Patel answers these questions. Here are the top things you learn from his findings.

  • Organic traffic through social media is going down.
  • You need at least two full-time employees dedicated to blogging.
  • 60% of your site’s traffic comes from your blog.
  • In 2019, potential buyers will visit your blog 3.5 times over a 2-week period before they’re converted.

Other findings answer questions like how to convert blog readers into customers, how to boost your traffic up to 28%, and how long your average blog post should be.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @neilpatel's '17 Charts That Show Where Content Marketing is Heading' Click To Tweet

12. Moz: “Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More Than Ever in 2019” by Miriam Ellis

Number of engagements: 4,700

In a world of zero-click SERPs and local ads, we no longer need websites. Right?

Wrong. In fact, we need them more than ever.

In this post, Miriam Ellis goes into careful detail about why we need strong websites in 2019. For instance, she points out that even though Google prioritizes local ads, 75% still goes to companies with strong organic search.

You can just feel the urgency of this post , especially in the last part where Miriam tells us to act fast while 43.9% of searches still go to organic SERPs.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @Moz's 'Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More Than Ever in 2019' by @Miriam_Ellis_ Click To Tweet

13. Hootsuite: “The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2019 (and the Worst)” by Shannon Tien

Number of engagements: 4,600

As you can guess from the title, this blog is a guide to the best time to post on Instagram for maximum engagement.

But it isn’t any generic guide with arbitrary guesswork on the best time to post.

It’s a study Shannon did by examining 258, 956 posts from 20 of the most popular Instagram accounts.

What did she find?

Here are some examples of when to post depending on your industry:

  • Food and beverage: Friday at 12PM (lunch time!)
  • Entertainment: 12PM to 3PM
  • Professional services: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9AM or 10AM

As a bonus at the end of each section, Shannon mentions the times you should never post on Instagram (the no-no times to post are different for each industry as well!).

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @hootsuite's 'The Best Time to Post on Instagram in 2019 (and the Worst)' by @tien_spirit Click To Tweet

14. SEO Alien: “3 Ways Content Marketing Boosts Your SEO Rankings” by Lorenzo Gutierrez

Number of engagements: 4,200

The good news is if you rank highly on Google, you get tons of traffic to your site.

The bad news is Google keeps changing the rules for ranking.

But one thing doesn’t change: provide readers with value, and your site will be noticed.

Why? Simply because that’s Google’s number one goal.

In this swift, succinct blog, Lorenzo Gutierrez gives you three reasons why quality content marketing will keep your rank high on Google — no matter how algorithms change.

Hint: Number one is about gluing your readers to your blog so your bounce rate goes down.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @seoalien's '3 Ways Content Marketing Boosts Your SEO Rankings' by @LGutierrezSEO Click To Tweet

15. Neil Patel: “Ubersuggest 4.0: The Ultimate Content Marketing Tool” by Neil Patel

Number of engagements: 3,900

What could be better than Neil Patel’s amazing tool Ubersuggest 3.0?

Answer: Ubersuggest 4.0.

Ubersuggest 4.0 isn’t only about finding the best keywords to use in your blog. It’s about learning how to rank for these keywords.

Here are three (of many) cool things this tool can do for you:

  • Show you what topics are gaining success online
  • Help you select the right keywords for your blog
  • Reveal who’s linking to other successful blogs with similar keywords

Along with providing screenshots of his tool, Neil gives step-by-step guidance on how to use it to successfully rank for popular keywords.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @neilpatel's 'Ubersuggest 4.0: The Ultimate Content Marketing Tool' Click To Tweet

16. Moz: “Optimizing for Searcher Intent Explained in 7 Visuals” by Rand Fishkin

Number of engagements: 3,700

What’s Google’s main goal?

To find articles with the most keywords? The most links? Solid domain authority? Anchor text? Freshness?

The answer is no to all.

Google’s goal is to keep searchers on Google (instead of finding other search engines).

How does it do this? By providing users with value, of course.

And if you reward Google by providing value, Google will reward you by ranking your site highly on the search results.

I love everything Rand Fishkin provides in this blog: the humor, the surprising insights, the colorful visuals, and, of course, the “aha!” moments when he nailed crystal-clear explanations.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @Moz's 'Optimizing for Searcher Intent Explained in 7 Visuals' by @randfish Click To Tweet

17. Social Media Examiner: “3 Types of Social Video That Work for Any Business” by Melissa Burns

Number of engagements: 3,500

Video marketing is huge today. In fact, 87% of marketers see video as a crucial component in their campaigns.

But what kinds of videos work best?

According to Melissa, there are three:

  • How-to videos
  • Product videos outlining the benefits of a product
  • Customer review videos

After discussing how these videos work, Melissa then goes on to provide useful tips like:

  • The best platforms for video marketing
  • When to integrate a CTA into a video
  • How to make videos attractive and engagement-ready

Her post is a must-read for every marketer who doesn’t want to waste time producing videos that don’t convert.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @SMExaminer's '3 Types of Social Video That Work for Any Business' by @MelissaaBurns Click To Tweet

18. Backlinko: “Copywriting: The Definitive Guide” by Brian Dean

Number of engagements: 3,300

Brian Dean’s blog is a mini e-book in length. But that’s what makes it amazing.

It’s the ultimate, definitive guide to copywriting that gains more traffic, sales, and leads.

Plus, it’s entertaining to read, easy to digest, and packed with helpful images, charts, and examples.

Here’s what the table of contents looks like:

Chapter 1: Customer-Focused Copy

Chapter 2: Pro Copywriting Secrets

Chapter 3: How to Write Amazing Headlines

Chapter 4: Master the Lead

Chapter 5: How to Write Compelling Copy

Chapter 6: Proven Copywriting Formulas

Chapter 7: Advanced Copywriting Strategies

Don’t have time to read it all in one sitting? Have Brian Dean email it to you in handy PDF form so you can download it and take it in at your own pace.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @Backlinko's 'Copywriting: The Definitive Guide' Click To Tweet

19. Social Media Examiner: “26 Mobile and Desktop Tools for Marketers” by Erik Fisher

Number of engagements: 3,300

To stand out on social media, what you need is quality images, video, and audio. And today, creating these is less about being an expert photographer and more about having the right tools.

So, which are the best mobile and desktop tools marketers can use for crisp audio, stunning visuals, and crystal-clear videos?

In his post, Erik Fisher lists 26 you’ll love.

These include:

  • Video Resizer for IGTV and Frame (never have to worry about resizing videos for Instagram again)
  • Emoji Builder (create customized emojis to match your campaign!)
  • Lumen5 (convert your web page into a video in only 30 minutes!)
  • and 23 more

These tools are great if you’re a writer, video marketer, or anything in between!

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @SMExaminer's '26 Mobile and Desktop Tools for Marketers' by @ErikJFisher Click To Tweet

20. Search Engine Journal: “5 Freaking Genius Content Ideas You Can Steal from BuzzFeed” by Jessica Foster

Number of engagements: 3,300

BuzzFeed is criticized by many as lazy journalism. Its content is said to be shallow, short-lived, and packed with clickbait.

But no one can deny its success.

According to Jessica Foster, you can steal genius ideas from BuzzFeed that’ll make users gobble up your content.

Here are five ideas she lists:

  1. Deeply understand your target audience (for instance, BuzzFeed caters to the nostalgic feelings of millennials).
  2. Use smart quizzes and tools (The quiz doesn’t have to be a lot of nonsense like “What type of cheese are you?” Instead, it can be smart like: “Take this quiz to find the right home décor for you.”)
  3. Go viral by speaking to your audience’s core. Find out their fears, desires, and hopes. Then address them in your writing.
  4. Create roundup posts, asking multiple experts for pieces of advice.
  5. Post timely content (content that’s related to the top trending events of today).

With every section, Jessica offers advice on exactly how to apply each one of her tips. No wonder her post created its own buzz as one of the top-shared content of 2019!

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @sejournal's '5 Freaking Genius Content Ideas You Can Steal from BuzzFeed' by @seocopychick Click To Tweet

21. Digital Marketer: “The Future of Content Marketing and How to Adapt: Trends, Tactics, and Tools” by Ann Smarty

Number of engagements: 3,300

90% of B2B and B2C marketers use content marketing.

In this saturated atmosphere, how can you stand out?

In her fast-moving, value-dense post, Ann Smarty lists three helpful ways you can do it.

  1. Content collaboration. Your whole team should be working on content creation, not just your writers.
  2. Question optimization. Because Google loves to answer questions, it’s a powerful strategy to humanize your writing by asking them.
  3. Personalize. Use first names in email and personalize CTAs and banners.

With screenshots, bulleted points, and clear advice, Ann’s blog is a complete guide to lesser-known content marketing tips and tricks.

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @DigitalMktr's 'The Future of Content Marketing and How to Adapt: Trends, Tactics, and Tools' by @annsmarty Click To Tweet

22. Search Engine Journal: “5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing” by Julia McCoy

Number of engagements: 3,300

In this post, I share with you some secrets I learned on the best SEO and content marketing practices.

  • I explain why superficial blogs won’t work, and how to supercharge your own blog by creating depth (Hint: I give tips on how long your blog posts should be, plus tricks on how to pack them with value).
  • I show you where to invest in content creation, and why it’s a good idea.
  • I list the benefits of personalizing your content.

I also show you how to expand beyond blogging (think podcasts, webinars, Youtube videos, and more!).

See the top 22 content pieces of 2019 in @JuliaEMcCoy's original study 🔥 featuring @sejournal's '5 Trends to Know in SEO & Content Marketing' by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Insights from BuzzSumo’s Top-Engaged-With Content for “Content Marketing” in 2019

Reading the top-shared content of 2019 is amazing (as reading anything beautifully written is). Also, it’s a learning experience that teaches you the top tricks, tips, and secrets of content marketing in today’s age.

But it’s more than that.

It’s also a guide on how to create stellar content that goes viral.

So since I don’t want you to go back and comb through these articles again, I’ve pulled useful insights from the top-shared content of 2019 (again using BuzzSumo as my go-to data tool).

Here are four things I found out.

1. The Best Month for Posting Viral Content

We all know what January is like every year. Gyms are full of new registrants. People start buying organic bamboo toothbrushes. The world is new and ready for a fresh start.

It’s no different in the world of content marketing. In January, marketers are prepared to root out old practices, review what went right and wrong in the past year, and research statistic-based data that’ll give them a boost in the months ahead.

So, the best time to post viral-worthy content? January.

2. The Best Content Is Long Content

Content length is as important as the content subject.

While short blogs can entertain and amuse, they only scratch the surface of a topic. Long blogs, on the other hand, have more space to go in-depth with guidelines, statistics, images, and unique information.

So how long should your blogs be?

According to the chart above, a blog between 2,000 and 3,000 words will get you the highest engagement.

Want to get industry expert blogs that’ll boost your engagement? Visit our content shop to learn more.

3. The Best Day to Publish Content

What’s the best day to publish a blog post? Many people suggest weekends, as it’s when users are most active online.

However, according to this chart, the posts which got the highest engagements in 2019 were posted on Tuesday!

Also surprising: The next best time to publish is Monday. Maybe it’s because people are eager to start a new week with fresh minds and new ideas? 🤔

4. The Top Domains of 2019

One thing to note here: a number of these blogs made it to the top-shared content of 2019.

What does that say to you? The best way to achieve a blog that goes viral is to become an established expert in your field.

Know the best time, length, and day to post content based on 2019's top-shared content. 🥇 Also, get to know the top domains of this year that can inspire your next strategy. 🤩 Click To Tweet

Our Top-Shared Content for 2019: Trends on Express Writers

With 6,500 Write Blog readers and over 90,000 visitors a month, we’re definitely nowhere near the numbers of some of these hottest top-shared content of 2019.

Yet, I’m thankful to say that we’ve even earned this status — it’s awesome to pull in business through valuable content creation! 💥

And, it’s one of our quarterly habits to review our top-shared, top-read content to identify and see what topics and concepts our readers like. (As a marketer, you should do this too!)

So without further ado, here’s our own top-shared content of 2019 (Hint: The number-one most engaged is not even an SEO piece!).

1. Our Top Engaged: “How to Find Your Brand’s Unique Content Differentiation Factor and Use It to Your Advantage“*

This post is about finding that single unique aspect of your brand that’ll make you stand out in the sea of businesses today.

For content marketing, I call this your Content Differentiating Factor (CDF).

Once you find it, you’ll be able to answer potential buyers when they ask why they should pick you above other brands.

Want to learn about 11 skills that’ll help you nail your place in your industry? Download our profitable content marketing skills cheat sheet here.

2. Our Highest Two Traffic Posts for 2019 at Express Writers

How to Write a Press Release

In this guide, I give you 11 steps to writing a polished, professional press release. Plus, I give you great samples you can compare your work to – five of them, to be exact!

How to Write a Business Case Study

Case studies aren’t about stroking a company’s ego. They’re about showing potential clients what a business can do for them.

When you read this post, you’ll learn the five essential steps to creating a case study that’ll result in tons of engagements and conversions.

Will Your Post Be One of the Top-Shared of 2020?

In 2020, we all want to be the writer of a blog post that goes viral.

But creating such a post won’t happen by luck or magic.

Instead, it’ll happen when we do a careful study of what went right in the past and why it went right.

It’ll happen because of loads of creativity, hours of effort, and trustworthy expertise.

Where Should I Invest My Marketing Budget

Where Should I Invest My Marketing Budget? How Inbound Content Beats PPC & Other Avenues

Ever asked yourself, “Where should I invest my marketing budget?

What about this followup question?

“How much do companies spend on marketing that doesn’t work?”

Because, let’s be real –

Are you seeing results from your PPC (pay-per-click) ads on Google?

How about your Facebook ads?

If you’re like most ad buyers, the answer is almost always a shrug, a sigh, and a reluctant, “Well… no.”

That’s no coincidence.

The ROI of PPC alone is lower than low. (Sadly low. Ridiculously, hopelessly low.)

How low is it?

That’s what we’ll discuss today: Why PPC ads and similar avenues aren’t worth it, why there are better options, and exactly where you should invest your marketing budget.

(Hint: It starts with an “i” and ends with “-nbound.”) 🤫

Where Should You Invest Your Marketing Budget? The Truth About PPC vs. Inbound ROI

1. Marketing Budget Breakdown: What’s the Real Cost of PPC?

2. Marketing Budget Reality: The Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for PPC Ads vs. the ROI of Inbound Content Marketing

3. The Inbound Marketing Difference

3 MORE Reasons PPC Ads Don’t Pay Off

  1. People Distrust Ads in General
  2. PPC Has a Steep Learning Curve
  3. Many PPC Experts Prioritize Numbers over Human Readers

Where Should I Invest My Marketing Budget? Inbound Is the Answer

Where Should I Invest My Marketing Budget

💰 Been throwing out loads of cash for PPC ads? And was it worth it? 🤔 If the ads in 2018 brought only 0.66x return on ad spend, then it's a 100% NO 🙅‍♂️🙅‍♀️. Where should you invest your marketing budget then? A: Inbound Content 🍯 Click To Tweet

Where Should You Invest Your Marketing Budget? The Truth About PPC vs. Inbound ROI

If you looked at a chart of marketing budgets by industry for 2018 or 2019, you would probably see a fair amount spent a chunk of money on PPC ads. Many probably prioritized PPC above building their organic search rankings.

This is a big mistake, and I want to show you exactly why.

1. Marketing Budget Breakdown: What’s the Real Cost of PPC?

The cost of PPC is easy to break down in surface terms. You bid for the specific keyword you’re targeting – the maximum amount you’re willing to pay every time someone clicks your ad. If your bid is the highest (and your Ad Rank is equally up to snuff), you’ll appear at the top of search results.

Here’s a visual of that from Wordstream:

However, for many highly competitive keywords, bidding can get insane.

For example, to rank at the top of Google with a paid search ad for a competitive keyword like “content marketing,” you would need to shell out $18 per click.

However, before you decide that would be totally worth the cost, look more closely at the click data in Ahrefs.

Clicks are currently going to only 4% of paid “content marketing” search results. Meanwhile, almost all the clicks (96%!) are going to organic search.

Let’s put that into perspective.

  • “Content marketing” has a search volume of 31K.
  • 48% of searches for this keyword ended in clicks (searchers clicked on one or more of the results).
  • That means about 14,880 people clicked a result in this SERP.
  • Only 4% clicked a paid search ad.
  • That means PPC ads are only getting about 595 clicks per month in this SERP. The lion’s share of the clicks (14,284!!) are going to organic search.

Very, very few people are clicking ads in search results like this one.

What's the real cost of PPC? So here's how it goes: you bid for your target keyword aka the max amount you'll pay per ad click. The highest bid gets to the top of search results. Easy. 🎰 BUT, its low ROI will shock you. 📉😧 Click To Tweet

To drive the point home, let’s look at another example of the low ROI of PPC ads.

A colleague recently sent me a case study from one of their clients with declining sales. Without naming names, my colleague looked at the client’s search data and conversion rates and found:

  • About 26% of their traffic was coming from paid search.
  • Roughly 17% was coming from organic search.
  • Their conversion rate for traffic from paid search was 0.27%.
  • Their conversion rate for organic search traffic was 51% – nearly 6x higher than paid search.

Imagine the ROI if this client switched gears and started focusing on improving their organic search rankings!

2. Marketing Budget Reality: The Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for PPC Ads vs. the ROI of Inbound Content Marketing

The return on investment for paid search isn’t looking good.

But wait:

There’s more.

According to The Ad Strategist, the ROAS for Facebook ads (as part of a cold ad funnel, where cold leads are served ads based on their interests, etc.) has drastically dropped within the past 1-2 years.

In 2016, ROAS hovered at a decent 11.88x. In 2018, ROAS dipped to a dismal 0.66x.

Display ad conversion rates have plummeted. Across industries, the average is 0.72% on mobile.

That means, if you spend, say, $450 on ads, you’d only get back 0.0066% of what you put into your campaign. With a 0.72% conversion rate, you would actually lose money. Your small business marketing budget statistics would look horrible.

That’s why inbound and content marketing are incredible in comparison.

Return on ad spend (ROAS) went from 11.8x in 2016 sliding down to 0.66x in 2018. 😡 The average ad conversion rate for mobile is 0.72%. 😱 These are the signs that you should change where you invest your marketing budget RIGHT NOW. 🏃💨 Click To Tweet

3. The Inbound Marketing Difference

On average, across industries, organic traffic from search converts at a rate of 16%. Thus, when you target organic traffic with inbound marketing, the ROI speaks for itself.

When you create content of amazing quality consistently, the stuff that speaks deeply to your target reader’s pains and problems (and solves them!), you can’t help but win.

I came up with a formula for predicting content marketing ROI a few years ago. Let’s compare it to the ROAS we discussed earlier.

  • Start with your average monthly traffic numbers. For the sake of the example, let’s say you get roughly 5,000 visitors per month.
  • To find the average number of traffic-to-lead conversions you could expect from content marketing, grab that average 16% conversion rate and get multiplying:
    • 5,000 x 16% = 800 leads/month
  • Now take your estimated leads and multiply by the average lead-to-sale conversion rate for content marketing, 14%, to estimate monthly sales:
    • 800 x 14% = 112 sales/month

Now, let’s say your average sale is about $10. That means you could expect $1,120 monthly in new sales as a direct result of content marketing.

When you compare the cost of content marketing to the ROI, it all makes sense.

So if you're wasting money on PPC, where should you invest then? Go for inbound marketing. Creating useful content for your target readers can bring in 🧑🏾‍🤝‍🧑🏻🧑🏿‍🤝‍🧑🏽 traffic ➡️ leads ➡️ sales (with an average close rate of 14%!) 🥂 Click To Tweet

For example, a Level 3 Blogging package from our Content Shop costs $1,000/month for 8 expert blogs at 1,000 words each, produced by a subject-matter expert and posted bi-weekly.

It’s pretty easy to do the math and see that you would still come out ahead, even AFTER outsourcing the content creation part (which, by the way, most marketers [84%] do, according to Content Marketing Institute’s most recent B2B report).

*TV infomercial announcer voice* 🎤 But that’s not all!

Content marketing comes in clutch at every stage of the buying process. No matter how close your leads are to buying (or far away), content helps you do everything. It builds brand awareness and secures, nurtures, and converts leads:

Last but not least, let’s pull in a really fun example to go out with a bang: 💥

(Disclaimer: This is an extreme marketing budget example.)

How does the average cost of a Super Bowl ad compare with the cost of content creation for 2 years? (Hint: They’re not even close.)

The average Super Bowl ad costs $40,000 for 5 seconds of airtime. (Read: $5 million for one minute.)

For 2 years of expert blogging PLUS 1 year of EW’s social media plan, PLUS one written and designed ebook, PLUS four lattes from a coffee shop per week for 12 months (for this, you’ll have to rely on your local barista):

$37,000.

That’s 135x cheaper for nearly 200 blogs that will live on your site and compound in value over time. Many of them will still be relevant and draw in leads years from now. (Use that example in your marketing budget presentation if you want to get the boss’s attention!)

Meanwhile, in 2019, the Super Bowl drew in its fewest number of viewers in the past 11 years. If you watched, do you even remember any of the ads? 🤔

Me neither.

3 MORE Reasons PPC Ads Don’t Pay Off

If I’ve made my point clear, inbound content marketing is a better investment than PPC, hands-down.

“But PPC is faster,” you might object. “I want to see sales now, not later.”

Wait one minute, there, Speedy. PPC is NOT necessarily faster for bringing in traffic and revenue. Sure, it shoots you to the top of a SERP (IF you win a keyword bidding war), but your position at the top is shaky.

This is totally unlike if you earned your way to organic position #1 with solid, quality, user-satisfying content.

Why?

1. People Distrust Ads in General

Ad distrust (especially distrust of display ads) has been mounting in recent years. It’s something you can’t ignore if you’re considering ads for your marketing strategy.

According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer Report, 74% of consumers say they avoid ads completely.

That includes:

  • Using ad blockers on websites
  • Changing their habits to see fewer ads
  • Finding ways to avoid ads
  • Paying for streaming services to skip most commercials and TV ads
PPC might be faster but consider this: More people distrust and avoid ads. 🙈 They use ad blockers and pay for streaming services just not to see a glimpse of it. Know other reasons why PPC don't pay off in this post by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Ad avoidance is common. That behavior isn’t limited to display ads or commercials, either. According to a Sprout Social study, 27% of consumers have a more negative view of social media advertising than they did one year ago.

The reason? 58% said they saw too many social ads and were just plain sick of it.

The nail in the coffin? Most people simply view advertisers as morally and ethically bankrupt, according to a Gallup poll. The profession of “advertising practitioner” is rated among the lowest for honesty and ethical standards.

Behold the myriad of reasons why paid search gets ridiculously fewer clicks than organic search. (Remember that 4% vs. 96% example from earlier?)

Bottom line: IF you go for ads of any kind, think long and hard about WHO might pay attention to them and WHY. In most cases, a better long-term marketing investment (and better ROI!) comes from content marketing.

2. PPC Has a Steep Learning Curve

Every new concept you encounter has a learning curve, but PPC ads, in particular, are not for the uninitiated. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll probably get it wrong and waste money.

For Google Ads, they must conform to specific quality standards, keep under a certain length, maintain clarity and honesty, and more.

If you’re a DIY marketer with no pay-per-click ad experience, learning to be successful with it will take lots and LOTS of time.

Sure, PPC can be interesting to study and use to boost your online traffic -- if you're lucky to grab the keyword and audience you want.🐙 But if you're a DIY marketer, learning all the rules and best practices will take lots of time. ⌛ Click To Tweet

If, however, you decide to spring for a PPC expert…

3. Many PPC Experts Prioritize Numbers over Human Readers

The problem with PPC experts is they are numbers-driven. They have to be because they’re paid to get results for their customers… but, it turns out that’s a problem in itself.

When you’re so numbers-focused, you forget about the real humans on the other side of the screen.

For example, if you pay for PPC ads and you’re not getting highly visible spots on a SERP (or you’re not getting clicks), your expert may just say you need to increase your PPC budget.

But the issue isn’t with your budget. It’s with your content.

It’s what your PPC ads SAY – the wording – that encourages clicks.

Furthermore, if a potential customer clicks and discovers your content doesn’t match their search intent – well, say goodbye.

Even if you own the top paid spot, without content that meets or exceeds the user’s need, you’ll go nowhere.

And, let’s not forget many searchers simply skip over the paid results and go straight to the organic results underneath.

The problem isn’t with your PPC bidding. The problem is you need better nurturing strategies to pull in customers.

Really, let’s call a spade a spade. Where should you invest your marketing budget, if not with ads?

You need inbound for your digital marketing budget plan. 🤯

PPC experts can surely help bring in the traffic you've been aiming for. 🏹 However, this could be a problem itself when the work becomes simply obsessing over getting high numbers. 🤪 A click doesn't convert to a sale in a snap. 🖱️ Click To Tweet

Where Should I Invest My Marketing Budget? Inbound Is the Answer

If PPC and/or Facebook ads have left you high and dry, it’s not wholly your fault.

The industry is working against you. Expectations vs. reality are drastically different because the ad landscape has changed across the board.

Over and over, users are showing us what they want. We have to stop leaning into marketing tactics that used to work in favor of embracing what works now.

Today, people are tired of ads. They avoid them at all costs.

Today, organic search draws in traffic and leads through information sharing, nailing user search intent, and building trust. We can literally build our customer bases through honest, expert, authentic content.

Isn’t that amazing?

Where Should I Invest My Marketing Budget

content marketing planning

Switch to “Managing” Instead of “Doing:” The Secret to Content Marketing Planning Success

I started Express Writers with nothing but $75, a dream, and my passion for writing.

It all began in 2010. I was in college, trying to get a degree I didn’t even want. One morning I woke up and thought: Why not do what I love?

That day, I decided to figure out online writing. At first, it was only doing work for cheap clients. But I pushed on, honing my writing, SEO, and content marketing skills writing hundreds of articles.

And so I reached a point where I had more work than I could handle.

So what did I do?

I didn’t start writing less.

I just hired more people.

That was my first step towards smart content managing. Instead of writing everything for clients myself, I hired skilled writers who shared my passion for creating powerful online content.

And you can do it too when you learn how to delegate to the right people with smart content management.

Just like us, your business can save $92,000 a month (while getting the same results) — this is the figure my brand, Express Writers, saves by not having to spend on a PPC campaign to bring in our monthly traffic.

organic traffic semrush value $90k

(Crazy, right?)

We’ve never done a single PPC ad, by the way. Not even once.

Yet our websites earn 90,000-100,000 visitors a month.

How?

The secret is through successful content marketing and smart delegation.

In this post, I’ll teach you how to do both. But first, let’s get into what kind of content you should be writing.

content marketing planning

Content Marketing Planning Success: 6 Types of Profitable Content and How Often to Post Them

1. Social Media

2. Blogs

3. Emails

4. Website Pages

5. News/Ads/Sales Content

6. Creative Content

Your Ultimate Guide to Smart Content Marketing Planning

The Who, What, and When of Smart Content Marketing Planning

Who to Delegate To

What to Delegate

When to Delegate

Get Ready for the Future with Smart Content Marketing Planning

Are you managing it all, or doing it all, in your content creation for your business? There's a MASSIVE difference in content marketing success if you have the correct mindset. 💯Learn more: Click To Tweet

6 Types of Profitable Content and How Often to Post Them for Content Marketing Planning Success

There are 6 types of content you should be posting regularly if you want to succeed online. What are they? And how often should you post them? Let’s discuss!

1. Social Media

With more than 3 billion users, social media is a huge opportunity for marketing. But it isn’t enough to have a Facebook page and post when you feel like it. You need to be active daily with relevant, intriguing, helpful content.

How often to post: Daily.

Speaking of social media, make sure to follow us on Facebook for daily tips, updates, and more!

2. Blogs

Posting long-form blogs (1,500 words up) impresses both your readers and Google. Blogs can:

  • Establish you as an expert.
  • Gain your site an increase in organic rankings on Google.
  • Help you gain credibility (86% of influencers have a blog).

How often to post: 1 time a week minimum. For better results, go for 2-3 or even 4x a week.

Learn how to write a long-form blog and gain up to 125% more organic rankings on Google here.

3. Emails

Email marketing promises you constant engagement with leads and huge ROI (return on investment).

Source: Lyfe Marketing

How often to send: Weekly.

4. Website Pages

What good is the traffic you get from organic search if visitors are unimpressed by your website? What you need to keep their attention is a concise, impactful copy for all your site’s pages.

How often: As needed.

5. News/Ads/Sales Content

Press releases and ads that solve your prospects’ problems and long-form sales copy are all necessary to keep leads informed about your products.

How often: As needed.

Need copy that converts? Visit our content shop for pricing.

6. Creative Content

Creative content helps you stay relevant and fresh in your prospects’ minds. These include videos, fun emails, poems, short stories, and more.

How often: As needed.

Learn more about all six types of content in my book: So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Content. My video on the types of online content here can help, too.

so you think you can write book by julia mccoy

Want your brand to succeed online? Start regularly posting profitable content types like 🦜 social media content, ✒️blogs, and 📮 emails. Also publish web pages, news/ads/sales, and creative content like short stories whenever needed! 📜 Click To Tweet

Your Ultimate Guide to Smart Content Marketing Planning

Right now, you might be shaking your head and wondering how you can create all of that content consistently.

How do you write 3 long-form blogs, daily social media updates, web copy, ads, emails, and video scripts… and still stay sane?

The secret is to stop doing, and start managing. 

Chances are if you’re thinking of ‘doing it all’ yourself, you’ll end up completely burnt out, missing deadlines, and the content itself will lack quality because it had no space to breathe. Rushed content is never good content.

Switch to “managing,” and you’ll see so much more success. (See a story about my timeline in content, and how getting strategic in 2016 and getting out of the hamster wheel actually brought in more profits from our content. Managed content is successful content!)

content marketing planning

The Who, What, and When of Smart Content Marketing Planning

When you switch to managing instead of doing, you need to be sure you get three things:

  • Quality
  • Quantity
  • Consistency

Let’s dive in more on each.

1. Who to Delegate To

If you’re a content marketer, quality should be your #1 goal. Without this strong foundation, your content house will fall apart.

Take a look at these two examples:

  • Today’s world is definitely full of people who are unhealthy, people who eat a lot of fatty food and therefore gain unnecessary weight. If you are like these people, you might be concerned about your overall health. It is a fact that being overweight can cause a number of debilitating health problems. What you must do, then, is to seek to lose weight in a healthy and safe way. There are definitely a lot of benefits which can be achieved when you experience weight loss.
  • Blogs that are between 400 and 699 words (the conventional number for blog word count) see a lot of quick readers come to the site, read what they came for and move on to the next site. Blogs that have 1,500 words or more give the reader substance and encourage them to stick around on the site, increasing metrics and clicks on the site.

As you can see, the first example is generic and uninteresting. Most readers already know the facts stated. Also, the paragraph’s length will scare even the most daring away.

The second paragraph? It’s clear, concise, and full of helpful facts that convert. With quality content like that, your reader will stay on your site and keep reading.

To get quality content, you need to hire the right people. It doesn’t matter where they’re from. What matters is what they can do.

  • Hire people who are experts in their field. Yes, online writers can always do Google research on topics you assign to them. But to write in-depth content and copy with authority? Only an expert with significant experience can do that.
  • Hire people with writing skills that make content pop. You don’t want your online content to look like a legal document. So instead of hiring just any lawyer for expertise, hire a lawyer who has a passion for and talent with words. This will make your online content jump from the page.

2. What to Delegate

We’ve already looked at the six types of content you need to boost your online presence and brand. Now, let’s look at what you should delegate to members of the staff you’ve hired.

Here’s a quick birds-eye view of that:

Social media posts and updates should be handled by a skilled social media manager. Here are things to look for if you’re hiring one.

  • Ability to recognize leads.
  • Experience with branding and marketing.
  • A healthy sense of humor.

Blogs and email copy require a content strategist, expert writers, and yourself (sounds like a lot, but definitely worth it!). For our own blog, The Write Blog, we have over 5 content creators and a full-time designer!

Lastly, web pages, copy, and creative content should be delegated to trained copywriters and strategists. Make sure your copy:

  • Isn’t salesy.
  • Follows the correct templates for successful marketing copy.
  • Is concise, clear, and compelling.

content marketing planning

3. When to Delegate

When planning your content, the when is as important as the what.

So instead of coming up with blogs and emails a week before they’re posted, create a calendar and make a plan for 3 to 6 months, or even a year of content!

Here’s why this is so important:

  • You don’t get caught off-guard with seasonal or overarching topics. You want to be able to see the bigger picture. When you plan ahead, you’ll know how to stay current all the time with your content.
  • You can do enough research. Nothing says amateur louder than the lack of information. When you’re behind on the latest trends and the hottest topics of the day, you’ll lose your relevance and credibility.
  • You can grab attention by matching dates with topics. For example, the release of a much-awaited movie is a great way to spark reader interest. With a far-reaching calendar, you can plan blog topics for holidays, elections, special events, and more.
  • You can strategize more. First drafts should never be final drafts. The same is true with planning content. If you have enough time to plan what to write about and when, it’ll lead to better content all around.
  • You won’t duplicate content you already posted. Surprisingly, this can happen more than you think. Staying organized with a far-reaching calendar, however, will prevent it.

So get started with your content calendar as soon as you can, and make your plans as far-reaching as possible.

As an example, here’s what our content calendar looks like.

We plan content for months in advance!

Here’s the step-by-step on how to do it.

content marketing planning

The right way of managing your content is by knowing 👔 who to delegate your content to, 📚 what to delegate, and 📆 when to delegate. Check out this handy infographic for smart content marketing planning. 📑 Click To Tweet

Get Ready for the Future with Smart Content Marketing Planning

Six types of content, posted consistently, is a huge deal if you plan to do it yourself.

But, with smart content marketing planning, things become simpler, clearer, and more enjoyable. Content quality increases. Best of all, you can sit back, sip your favorite drink, and watch your company explode in growth.

content marketing planning

 

bad content marketing tactics

Stop Scaring Your Followers Away: 10 Scary, No-Good Content Marketing Tactics to Quit Doing

Do you know what’s super spooky? 👻

The easily avoidable content mistakes happening all. The. TIME.

It’s almost 2020 – a year people used to dream about when they thought of a high-tech future – but here we are.

People are still committing basic content marketing mistakes (sometimes unknowingly, but 🤷‍♀️).

These scary mistakes aren’t something to laugh about, either. They cost you a lot. Think Google rankings, traffic, leads, conversions, a loyal audience, and general content ROI.

If you want your content to perform well (who doesn’t??), if you want to keep your website from becoming an abandoned, haunted house where no one dares step foot…

You must know and avoid these mistakes as if they were monsters prowling the dark of night. Don’t get too comfortable, don’t get close, and if you spot one, RUN, and try to fix it.

10 Content Marketing Mistakes That Are Undermining Your ROI

1. Prioritizing the Quick Sale Over Building Long-Term Trust

2. Not Investing in Valuable, Useful Content

3. Buying Fake Followers (Follower Ghosts!) to Grow Your Online Presence

4. Targeting Focus Keywords and Related Keywords Incorrectly

5. Posting Content Whenever the Mood Strikes

6. Publishing Skeletal Content and Expecting It to Rank

7. Putting Out Lots of Scary-Quality Content

8. Letting Duplicate Content Haunt Your Domain

9. Participating in Ghoulish Link-Buying Schemes

10. Forgetting to Champion Your Reader

Don’t Let Bad Content Marketing Tactics Haunt Your Brand Presence

bad content marketing tactics to avoid

There's no need to have a sixth sense for us to see dead content. 💀 Low-quality copy and unethical marketing practices should get that straight to the grave. ⚰️ Save your content now by avoiding these 10 bad content marketing tactics! Click To Tweet

Run the Other Way! 10 Scary Content Marketing Tactics Undermining Your ROI

If you commit any of these, call a priest – you need an exorcism to save your content marketing soul. 🙏

1. Prioritizing the Quick Sale Over Building Long-Term Trust

Repeat after me: Content marketing is not about the quick sale.

In fact, it’s not really about the sale at all.

Now, hear me out. Yes, the eventual end-goal is to build up enough trust with your readers so they feel confident buying into whatever you’re offering.

BUT.

More revenue is just one possible end by-product. It’s not the point.

The point is trust.

When you look at a solid definition of content marketing (like this one I constantly reference from the Content Marketing Institute), note there is no mention of sales, money, or revenue.

Instead, the emphasis is placed squarely on your audience/customers. Specifically, content marketing is about:

  • Attracting and retaining your audience
  • Driving profitable actions from customers

“Profitable actions” aren’t necessarily sales. Instead, a profitable action could be adding a new subscriber to your email list, or earning another loyal blog follower.

These are profitable situations because they signify interest and growing trust in what you offer. These people may eventually become not only customers but also brand advocates. That compounding future interest helps spread your brand name as an authority, builds relationships with people, and, ultimately, leads to more conversions.

Trust breeds trust. Once the relationship is there, the sales will come later — but they’re not the point.

Don’t settle for pushiness and try to close your leads today. That’s not content marketing. Instead, focus on building that long-term trust that wins real industry positioning tomorrow.

Don't be a real-life undead chasing humans to get them to buy your product or service with your salesy content! 🧟‍♀️ Start building long-term trust instead with attractive, relevant, and useful content. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Not Investing in Valuable, Useful Content

Content that wins trust and builds loyalty is high-value, useful, and relevant to your particular audience. If your content is none of those things, you won’t reap the rewards of content marketing.

It’s that simple.

Conductor did the first-ever study investigating the impact of educational content on customers. The results were incredible:

  • After reading a brand’s educational content, people were 131% more likely to purchase from them
  • 78% rated a brand as “helpful” and 64% rated them “trustworthy” immediately after reading the brand’s content
  • One week later, the above numbers increased by 8-9%

Useful, valuable content has a direct effect on your readers. Without those traits, however, your content will be useless.

If you want the rewards, you have to invest in creating and publishing the best content you can produce. No ifs, ands, or buts.

3. Buying Fake Followers (Follower Ghosts!) to Grow your Online Presence

Have you ever been tempted — when you’re green with envy over your competitor’s follower count — to just buy some fake followers and call it a day?

(And, just to be clear, I’m talking about non-real followers, i.e., computer-generated follower ghosts that don’t exist in real life. 👻)

Don’t do it.

Not only is buying fake followers majorly frowned-upon, but it will also have consequences that will undermine what you’re trying to do (build an engaged audience).

HootSuite did an actual case study on buying fake followers on Instagram to see what would happen, and the results were laughable:

1,000 followers, each of them obviously bot-created at random, with zero engagement from any of them.

If you have a large follower count but no engagement… well, that’s an oxymoron AND a red flag. Instagram will easily find your fake account and shut it down, according to their Terms of Use.

Likewise, other brands won’t want to associate with your account. Getting their content or products in front of a ghost audience will do absolutely nothing for them. And don’t think you can hide it – there are tools for analyzing accounts (like IG Audit and Fake Follower Check) and estimating the percentage of the audience that’s real.

Not worth it.

Ghost followers surely make your total follower count look good, but buying these non-existent accounts will just drag you to social media hell 👹👹👹 -- flagged and shut down. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

4. Targeting Focus Keywords and Related Keywords Incorrectly

We’re no longer living in 2007, but people are still using keywords like we are. Unfortunately, misusing keywords is a great way to make Google ignore or down-vote your pages.

Culprit #1: Thinking you need to use your focus keyword verbatim.

Google has previously defined “close variants” for keywords. Essentially, this means keywords with slight rewording but the same meaning will pull up the same results.

Example: The SERPs for the keywords “vanilla ice cream” and “ice cream vanilla” have identical results displayed in different orders. (Both recipe lists include Taste of Home, Epicurious, David Lebovitz, Taste and Tell, Like Mother Like Daughter, and Allrecipes.)

Vanilla ice cream:

Ice cream vanilla:

If you rank for one, you’ll rank for the other, so there’s no need to rigidly stick to verbatim keywords, especially when rewording them slightly makes your sentences flow better.

Culprit #2: Targeting related keywords separately from your focus keyword.

Are you only targeting one keyword per page? Then you’re missing out on the power of semantic search.

Including related keywords in your content helps both users and search engines determine whether it’s contextually relevant to the topic the user is searching for.

For example, if you’re writing about how to brew black tea, you wouldn’t just target “how to brew black tea.” You’d also make sure to include related keywords like “how long to steep black tea,” “how to make black tea bags,” and “boiling black tea.”

Leaving out related keywords ignores semantic search, which is a no-no. The internet is becoming smarter, and semantic search is the future.

Is this common problem haunting your posts? 👻 Not using focus keywords synonymously with related keywords. 😱 Save your content before it's too late! Here's how. Click To Tweet

5. Posting Content Whenever the Mood Strikes

Do you tend to post content like Dracula preys on his victims – whenever the mood strikes?

This is counterintuitive to content marketing’s core mission, which is building audience trust. (Inconsistency is actually a hallmark of untrustworthiness.)

The more consistently you publish great content, the more your audience will rely on you as a trusted source of information. You’re proving yourself over and over.

On top of that, HubSpot found businesses publishing content consistently received more traffic and more leads than businesses publishing content inconsistently.

Spotty posting schedules and spotty quality are two factors to nix if you expect to make your content marketing work.

Do you tend to post content like Dracula preys – whenever the mood strikes? Inconsistency is a hallmark of untrustworthiness. The more consistently you publish content, the more your audience will rely on you. More: 👻 Click To Tweet

6. Publishing Skeletal Content and Expecting It to Rank

Skeletal, thin content is usually unsatisfying, light on research, and light on expertise. It doesn’t answer the reader’s most burning questions about the topic, and it doesn’t serve a useful purpose. 💀

Granted, there’s a place for shorter content pieces (sharing opinions or news, for example), but not if you want to rank for keywords tied to heavy-hitting topics with lots of facets and depth.

Let’s look at an example SERP to show you what I mean.

For the keyword “SEO content writing,” the top 3 results have an average word count of 1,515. The lowest is 880, the highest 1,967.

To rank for this keyword, you would need to create a content piece of at least 1,500 words, because you’re looking to be a better information source than anything that’s currently ranking.

You can’t write 1,500 words full of fluff, either. You need meaty content that explains exactly what SEO content writing is and how to do it, plus provide examples.

In most cases, skeletal content just won’t cut it.

7. Putting Out Lots of Scary-Quality Content

Okay, you say. You’ll commit to consistency. You promptly write 5 blog posts in one day so you can get them out once a day for a week.

No. No, no, no.

Props to you if you can write 5 high-level, exceptionally researched, thought-provoking, engaging content pieces in one day. You’re either inhuman or a savant.

For the rest of us, this is impossible.

Pushing out content just to push it out never results in greatness. Instead, you’ll just have a lot of messy, yucky content sitting on your website, dragging down your game.

Don’t stoop to letting scary-quality content slide. Commit to excellence, and strive for it with each content piece you publish. This is the only way to build up a solid reputation, become an authority, and give your readers the value they’re looking for.

It’s the only way to rank!

8. Letting Duplicate Content Haunt Your Domain

The most common SEO error marketers make is duplicate content, according to SEMrush analysis.

66% of over 100,000 articles suffered from this problem.

Duplicate content is just what it sounds like: Multiple pages on your site that are identical or closely match each other. These are a problem because search engines won’t know which page is the most relevant, which can impact search visibility.

Image: Moz

To avoid this problem, all of your content pages and copy need to be unique.

Duplicate content cannibals in your content island are just eating each other's rankings and confuse Google. ☠️ Before getting that new post published, make sure it's unique from focus keyword to copy. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

9. Participating in Ghoulish Link-Buying Schemes

Here’s what I like to call a “content marketing downward spiral.”

You publish lots of poor content because you want to get it out there, fast. Because your content is poor, you don’t earn any backlinks. Because you don’t earn any backlinks organically, you buy into a link scheme to fake your way to ranking. Google blacklists you.

Do you see how shady content practices feed on each other?

Instead of buying links, focus on making every piece of content your best. Make your content worthy of links, and the links will come naturally, over time.

Remember, it won’t happen overnight. Content marketing, if anything, is a study in patience.

10. Forgetting to Champion Your Reader

You can tell when a brand has forgotten their reader when:

  • They focus on themselves in the content and what they’ll get out of it.
  • Their content has little value for the answer-hungry.
  • Their content is riddled with errors and inconsistencies.
  • They’re more focused on pitching than helping.
  • Their content engagement is the equivalent of crickets chirping.
  • Their content topics seem random and irrelevant.
  • Their posting schedule is summed up in one word: “Surprise!”

The thing is, when you put your reader first, all of these content problems naturally solve themselves.

Champion your reader, and your content marketing should fall into place.

Don’t Let Bad Content Marketing Tactics Haunt Your Brand Presence

None of these tactics will help you win readers and rake in ROI. There’s a better way to strategize, create, publish, and promote content.

Prioritize your audience, invest in the best content you possibly can, commit to consistency, and stay far away from strategies only the Wicked Witch of the West would buy into.

Bring your content marketing into the light, and the monsters sucking the life from your success won’t stick around for long.

 

seo marketing

SEO Marketing: Your Essential Guide to Putting Together Powerful, Google-Friendly Marketing

SEO marketing is incredible — and more powerful than ever (despite the groans of ​”SEO is dead!” ​that you hear, literally everywhere).

Here’s why.

Today, 60% of ALL traffic on the internet comes from Google.

(Add in traffic from other search engines, and you’ll find about 70% of all traffic, ever, starts with a simple search.)

Whoa.

Combine that with a simple fact: with the right keywords, topics, quality content, and some elbow grease, you can draw in search traffic from all over the world. All the people that might never have found you otherwise.

By creating content around keywords they’re searching, including phrases and topics that matter deeply to them, you essentially become a magnet for buyers (with Google’s help).  🧲

You pull leads into your orbit without advertising, without selling – without much effort at all beyond the initial strategizing, planning, and creating.

That, my friends, is a good, basic definition for today’s term.

SEO marketing definition: noun. A series of actions, strategies, and best practices that help your website content rank higher in search results.

And, before you ask: Yes, it matters big-time.

When you rank higher in search, more people will find your content, read your content, and act on that content.

With numbers like “70% of all traffic originates from a search,” needless to say, capturing search traffic is a HUGE deal. If you have an online presence, this type of marketing is essential to master for better visibility and more leads coming in.

Need more reasons to invest in SEO marketing? We’ll explore some convincing ones coming up, plus a checklist with marketing tools and techniques to help you ensure success from start to finish.

seo marketing guide

Your SEO Marketing Guide: What’s Ahead in Our Guide to Powerful, Google-Friendly Marketing

5-Step Checklist for Successful SEO Marketing

1. Create Quality Content (With a Case Study: How the Write Blog Nets Over 24K Keyword Rankings)

2. Get Your Website Design & Site Tech Fundamentals Right

3. Follow Google’s SEO Standards for Quality (E.A.T.)

4. Be Smart About Keyword Usage

5. Use SEO Plugins and Tools to Help You Get It Done (Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress, Keyword Research Tools: SEMrush and KWFinder)

3 Things SEO Marketing Should NOT Look Like

1. Cheating for Rankings

2. Keyword Stuffing

3. Thin, Shallow, Low-Quality Content

Have you already invested in SEO marketing and creating site content optimized to rank in Google? In this Write Blog, @JuliaEMcCoy shares killer reasons why Google reigns supreme for traffic sourcing, PLUS a bonus checklist 📝 on the… Click To Tweet

3 More Reasons Why SEO Marketing Is Such a Big Deal

SEO marketing tools and techniques are good for your bottom line.

How good?

Ridiculously good. For starters:

1. Rank #1 in Google Organically, Perform 30% Better

Besides the fact that Google holds 76.03% of the total search engine market share as of June 2019, there are other reasons to aim for #1 in Google search results.

Mainly, ranking #1 in Google is a surefire way to outperform results #2-10 and earn the best ROI. It’s how you ace SEO marketing.

According to data from Advanced Web Ranking, the organic click-through rate for position #1 is 30.97% on desktops.

Compare that to the CTR for position #2: it gets slashed in half to just 15.29%.

The lower you go, the more steeply CTR drops. Position #5 gets a 4.11% CTR. Positions #9 and 10 get just over 1%.

That said, even the lowest positions on search engine results pages (SERPs) get a higher average CTR than display AND search ads, including pay per click marketing. This chart with Wordstream data shows what I mean:

The average Google Ads CTR is 3.17% on the search network and 0.46% on the display network.

Compare those numbers to the average CTR for position #7 and higher in organic Google search results, which is over 2%. In fact, as long as you rank in the top 5 positions, you’ll score an average CTR of at least 4%.

PPC marketing seems pretty lame by comparison, especially when you can double or triple your CTR by focusing on organic search results, instead.

2. Leads from SEO Marketing Are More Powerful

Let’s add more fuel to our SEO marketing fire with this little statistic: Leads coming in from SEO are far more likely to convert.

According to a Marketing Sherpa study on conversion rates for organic traffic, the average traffic-to-leads conversion rate across all industries is 16%.

That number is really, really impressive, considering the average conversion rate for Google Ads across all industries is 3.75% for search ads and 0.77% for display ads, via the Wordstream data mentioned above.

 

3. Search Traffic >>> Traffic from Social Media

Another good reason to dive into SEO marketing: Search drives more traffic to websites than social media (via a Shareaholic study).

Meanwhile, according to ConversionXL, clicks from social aren’t very high, either. Facebook has an average CTR of 0.72%. LinkedIn draws a dismal 0.06%. Twitter gives you the best shot at clicks with a 2% average CTR.

When it comes down to numbers, search is the better bet for pulling in traffic.

Why is #seomarketing a big deal? 3 awesome reasons: 📈 ranking #1 in Google makes your site perform 30% better, 🧑🏾‍🤝‍🧑🏽 powerful leads, and 🚶 more traffic from search than social media. Click To Tweet

Your Go-To Checklist for Successful SEO Marketing

You get it: SEO marketing is powerful, effective, and SO worth it.

It’s time to implement. Here’s a checklist to start with, including 5 basic steps to achieve successful SEO search marketing:

1. Create Quality Content

Quality content is everything to SEO marketing results. In fact, I would say it’s THE #1 factor.

How do I know? It’s what I’ve seen with our content at Express Writers.

Case study time.

Case Study: How Our Content Quality Nets Over 24K Keyword Rankings

I never pay a cent for ads, I never do outreach, and I never pursue backlinks. Despite that, our content at EW has seen mega-growth over its lifetime.

(Check out my most recent case study for all the little details.)

For this blog, I pulled some fresh stats: As of mid-July 2019, we are currently ranking for 24,800 keywords in Google:

And, Alexa ranks us #100,548 out of billions of websites worldwide, and at #43,373 out of 876.8 million active websites in America – craziness!

Our content quality is the major determiner, here. It’s why we have reached these heights and achieved this level of success. (Most of our consistent clients at EW see the same kind of growth, too.)

Combine content quality with consistency and volume, not to mention relevancy to our core readers, and you have a winning formula for SEO marketing.

Also…

Wondering why our graph jumped so much in growth?

January of 2016 from July of 2019 has seen a ton of growth.

In this Write Blog on how to build a content strategy framework, I detail exactly what we did to go from a measly 140 keyword rankings back in early 2016, to 3,900 keywords indexed in Google in the next 12-18 months.  

Two things:

2. Get Your Website Design & Site Tech Fundamentals Right

Unfortunately, even if your content is of the highest quality, if your website design sucks, none of it will matter.

This is SEO marketing 101: For Google to rank your website content, the search engine crawler has to be able to find your pages, understand them, and index them.

Checking all of these boxes is more complicated than including your target keywords in the right spots or making sure your content is accurate and exceptional. While those are good practices, the more techy stuff needs to be in place, first, on the ground floor:

  • The HTML code underlying your site needs to be standardized. Why? Web crawlers read the code like a language to understand what your page is about and how it’s structured. This is called site architecture.
  • As search engines crawl your site, they use the links present to understand connections between pages, move from page to page, and understand your site’s page hierarchy. (The reader browses your site in the same way.)
  • Most websites have sitemaps that provide an overview of all their page links and page hierarchy. These maps make it easy for search engines to crawl and understand your entire site. Here’s a diagram of how a sitemap works from HubSpot:

In a nutshell, good web design practices are necessary for good SEO. The structure of your HTML code, pages, links, and navigation will all impact how search engines crawl and rank your site. Get it right, or suffer the consequences.

3. Follow Google’s SEO Standards for Quality

If your website design and site architecture are already great, you should worry about your content quality next for effective SEO marketing.

But what IS high-quality content? What does it look like?

Don’t worry: Google has answered this question in full. Enter their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. These were written for search quality raters (humans who help hone Google’s algorithm and the accuracy of search results), but are equally useful for marketing. The ideas they present about quality content are golden.

This guide explains the kinds of pages that fit Google’s definition of “high-quality,” as well as which specific factors influence high- and low-quality ratings. These factors more than likely are similar to Google’s standards for ranking web content.

E.A.T.

One of the main factors Google uses to determine whether a page is high-quality is the acronym E.A.T. – Expertise. Authoritativeness. Trustworthiness.

  • Expertise – Is the content creator an expert on the topic or industry? What are their background and reputation?
  • Authoritativeness – Is the content creator an authority on the subject? Does the content display proof of that authority (accuracy, citations to trusted sources, links to other authorities)? Is the website on which the content appears an authoritative source?
  • Trustworthiness – Are both the content creator and the content itself trustworthy? I.e. Would you feel safe implementing the information, tips, or advice from the content in your own life?

Need a high-quality blog example for search marketing inspiration?

I constantly point to Smartblogger as an example of stellar, high-quality, amazing content.

In particular, this post, How to Become a Freelance Writer, checks every box.

✔ It’s long-form (over 3,000 words!)

✔ It includes engaging writing targeted for the intended audience.

✔ Facts and data back up claims.

Even an expert blogger like Jon Morrow includes stats and figures in his content to add an extra shot of authority.

✔ Images and screenshots illustrate points.

✔ Steps are clearly outlined, and each tip is detailed.

The double-whammy of clear steps and illustrative images make this blog jump from really good to incredible.

✔ The topic and focus keyword line up seamlessly, AND they connect to the reader’s search intent.

To sum up: This is an awesome blog and a great example of high-quality content in action. Read it, study it, and learn from it.

4. Be Smart About Keyword Usage

We’ve arrived at the piece of business marketing everybody knows about: keywords.

Keywords have the potential to be pretty magical for your SEO marketing strategy, but only if you know how to find and use the RIGHT keywords in the most intelligent ways. This is one of the key principles of marketing online.

Smart keyword usage includes:

  • Choosing keywords that connect to your topic AND the search intent of your audience (in other words, relevant to your buyer!)
  • Sprinkling in synonymous or related keywords along with your main or focus keyword
  • Placing your focus keyword correctly inside the content
  • Avoiding the wrong keywords (too broad, strangely worded, or too competitive)
    • Here’s an example of a broad keyword that would be a poor choice for a small brand to target in their content, because the competition is fierce:

Targeting the right keywords is a tricky business. To do it right, learn all you can about keyword research and keyword strategy. Do the grunt work to find your best possible keywords, and use those keywords strategically inside your content.

For reference, Yoast has a good guide to check out. For a step-by-step to doing keyword research in SEMrush, check out our guide, too.

seo marketing awesome CTA

5. Use SEO Plugins and Tools to Help You Get It Done

In SEO marketing, the right tools and SEO plugins for WordPress will get you everywhere. These are the ones I recommend over and over again to make implementing your search marketing strategy much more efficient and simple.

Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress

Among the free SEO plugins out there, Yoast is high on the list of must-haves. Installing it is an easy way to ensure all of your blog posts are optimized.

In particular, tweaking the Yoast SEO settings helps you correctly optimize your metas (title and description) for search engines.

This all in one SEO plugin also analyzes your content and gives you suggestions for improvement automatically:

WordPress and Yoast go together like bread and butter. Don’t leave home (or your WordPress SEO) without this handy tool. 🛠

Keyword Research Tools: SEMrush and KWFinder

For search marketing, keyword research tools are indispensable – I repeat: indispensable!

Without them, you won’t be able to research keyword metrics like search volume, difficulty score, or competition. In other words, you’ll be flying blind.

My favorites, of course, are SEMrush (incredibly accurate data, in-depth charts and graphs, position tracking and monitoring) and KWFinder (easy-to-use, readable interface, a perfect quick research tool).

Hot tip: To get the most accurate keyword data, don’t rely on just one tool. Use multiple tools, including paid tools, to get a clearer picture of potential keywords you can rank for. No single tool is 100% accurate!

Here's @JuliaEMcCoy's quick go-to checklist for successful #seomarketing: ⭐create quality content, 🖼️ get your website design right, 📜 follow Google's SEO standards for quality, ✔️ use keywords correctly, and 🧰 use SEO plugins and tools. Click To Tweet

What SEO Marketing Should NOT Look Like

Now that you know the basic do’s of SEO marketing, it’s time to dive into some don’ts.

What shouldn’t you do to climb the Google SERPs? Why does it matter? (What’s some of the worst, most horrible SEO advice I’ve ever heard?)

Let’s dive in.

1. Cheating for Rankings

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Cheaters never prosper.” Well, it’s true for SEO marketing, too.

Plenty of people believe they can game the system to improve their SEO rankings without doing any real work on their content or website.

The thing is, while cheating may work initially, it never lasts indefinitely because Google is constantly evolving and improving. One small algorithm update can bring cheating tactics to a halt.

Here are some common SEO tactics that amount to nothing, because they attempt to game the system rather than work with it:

  • Buying backlinks – Many companies attempt to improve their backlink profile by buying links. Backlinks work like votes for your website, so buying fake ones is akin to rigging an election. Not good.
  • Clickbait – “We want more clicks on our content, even though it’s mediocre. Let’s make this headline so ridiculous, enticing, or sensational that no one will resist!” That, right there, is clickbait in a nutshell – when the content doesn’t deliver on the promise in the headline.
  • Manipulating metrics – Another tactic some website owners use is manipulating their site metrics (bounce rate, dwell time, etc.) through unsavory means to look better in the eyes of Google’s algorithm.
  • Duplicate content – Most site owners commit this sin accidentally, but some create duplicate content on purpose to inflate their rankings. To do it, they publish multiple pieces of content on extremely similar topics, or they simply copy-and-paste a content piece, tweak some of the wording, and publish. NEVER a good idea.

2. Keyword Stuffing

Believe it or not, some people STILL think keyword stuffing is the way to go to rank. (Yikes.)

On this blog from Dan Taylor featuring terrible advice SEOers have heard during their careers, one SEO Director recounted how a client repeated his brand name keyword 1,000 times on a page. He thought using white text on a white background would fool Google – all because a guy “who knew SEO stuff” had told him to do it.

(I’m betting if the pseudo-SEO-guru had told this guy to jump off a bridge, he would have done that, too.)

Today, everyone knows this tactic equals SERP death (…right?). Keyword stuffing is a signal to Google to DE-rank you, not the other way around.

3. Thin, Shallow, Low-Quality Content

If you want SEO marketing to work for you, you have to create content that satisfies your ideal reader. That means thin, shallow, poor-quality, unsatisfying content will sink your ship.

Thankfully, just-plain-bad content has a bunch of giveaways:

  • Low-quality content is usually (not always) short.
  • It does not fully address the topic it covers.
  • It doesn’t answer reader questions fully or satisfactorily.
  • Low-quality content is rooted in opinion, not fact.
  • It’s full of errors and inaccuracies.
  • It’s not written by an expert on the subject.
  • It’s not written by a native English speaker.
  • Most of all, low-quality content doesn’t benefit the reader in any way.

Usually, poor content is cheap content. If you pay a penny per word, you will probably get content of this caliber in return.

Can you say “not worth it?”

Just say no. Invest in your content at every stage to produce blogs, articles, ebooks, and more that contain actual worth for your readers – because content that doesn’t satisfy your audience is worth nothing.

In SEO marketing, you should NOT 👎 cheat for rankings, 🙃 stuff your keywords, and 🤮 create thin, shallow, low-quality content! Read more about @JuliaEMcCoy's #seomarketingguide Click To Tweet

SEO Marketing Matters: Today’s Takeaways

takeaway card for SEO marketing guide

Without SEO marketing, where would online brands and businesses find themselves?

The potential for brand reach and visibility would be cut down to next-to-nothing. Potential buyers from around the world wouldn’t find solutions to their problems, information for their quandaries, or products and solutions tailored for their every whim.

Most importantly, without SEO, buyers wouldn’t be able to take their buying journeys into their own hands.

SEO marketing connects businesses with buyers in a way that’s natural, seamless, helpful, and relationship-building. It’s the present and future of marketing, and it’s powerful in a way we’ve never seen before. 💯

So, my next question for you is obvious: Have you jumped on board yet?

The time is now.

seo marketing awesome CTA

content marketing statistics

Your Mega-Awesome Content Marketing Statistics List

There’s no question content works.

That’s right – no question.

That means investing in content marketing isn’t a gamble. Not if you do it the right way.

Need proof? Look at the state of the industry: Its projected worth will reach nearly half a trillion dollars by 2021, according to forecasts from Technavio.

Why is investment reaching this all-time high?

Because the evidence that content works is right there for anyone to see.

Ready to see for yourself? Check out this mega list of content marketing statistics for 2019. These are the most powerful stats we could find that will prove content marketing to anyone.

(For even more proof, add our post on proving the ROI of content marketing to your reading list, too.)

17 Content Marketing Statistics That Matter: Table of Contents

Top Digital Marketing Statistics for 2018-2019: Why SEO is Super-Powered

Content Strategy Stats: Compelling Reasons to Start Planning

Content Creation Statistics: Why Invest in Content?

Stats on B2B Content Marketing Effectiveness

Let B2B Content Marketing Statistics from 2019 Inform Your Future

content marketing statistics list

Read our list of 17 powerful content marketing statistics that prove content worth 🔥📈 (free ebook included!) Click To Tweet

Top Digital Marketing Statistics for 2018-2019: Why SEO is Super-Powered

Search engine optimization powers much of content marketing in 2019, and it will continue to do so.

Let’s examine why.

1. The #1 driver of all traffic on the web? Google.

Google is not only where most web searches start – but also where most web browsing begins.

It’s not surprising. They own 76% of the total search engine market share, according to Net Market Share data.

Using SEO to rank in Google for keywords your audience is searching is, therefore, an incredible strategy. If you don’t want to grab some of that traffic for your site or your brand, well, why are you here?

2. Search drives more traffic than social media – 34.8% compared to 25.6%. (Shareaholic)

Search is even more powerful than social media for driving traffic. Search Engine Land reported that search beats social networks by nearly 10 percentage points in this arena.

Shareaholic conducted the study and found that the algorithm changes to the News Feed on Facebook had a big impact on the numbers. Along with that, more and more, search engines like Google are indexing and displaying results from social media channels.

For instance, search for any entity on Google (person, company, organization), and you’ll see results displayed from their Twitter feed:

Generally, posting on social media shouldn’t be your marketing end-all, be-all. Instead, social media marketing should complement your SEO and digital marketing efforts for best results.

3. The average conversion rate for organic traffic-to-leads across industries is 16%. (Marketing Sherpa)

Since a conversion generally refers to the instance when a buyer converts to a new role in your marketing lifecycle, conversion rates are a big deal. After all, most marketing aims to encourage buyers to convert in some shape or form.

When we talk about a traffic-to-leads conversion, we’re talking about the point when the traffic coming into your site from a Google search becomes intrigued, interested, and invested in your content. As a result, they’ll demonstrate that interest through action.

In their study, Marketing Sherpa asked marketers how they define a conversion. The results reveal how multiple actions show a buyer’s mindset and willingness to commit to a brand:

  • Submitting a form with multiple fields (like a survey)
  • Submitting a form with one field (like signing up for a newsletter with an email address)
  • Making an online purchase
  • Reading the content through to the end

The 16% conversion rate the study found is therefore super-important. This is for organic (non-paid) traffic clicking your content in search, liking what they see, and converting on it in one of the above ways.

4. Google’s #1 organic position brings in 33% of the search traffic for any given SERP. (Search Engine Watch)

When you’re #1 in Google, you’re pretty much Queen (or King) of the Mountain. 👸

On average, 33% of search traffic will go to you, while only 17.6% will go to whoever graces position #2. (That’s a 15.4% drop.)

Even if you rank at #5 (which many brands would kill for!), you’re only getting 6.1% of all search traffic from that page.

Bottom line: The higher you rank organically, in SERPs, the more traffic you can expect to see! (And, as you know, more traffic = more lead potential.)

By the way, one of the keys to ranking higher is knowing which tools to use for SEO and keyword research. I put together a guide on Content Hacker on this exact topic to help.

5. The click-through rate (CTR) for organic position #1 is 30.97%. (Advanced Web Ranking)

Let’s keep going with the bonuses of ranking in organic position #1. If you sit in that top spot, you’ll also enjoy an average CTR of 30.97%, according to data from Advanced Web Ranking.

Why is that number such a big deal?

Well, as far as CTRs go, it’s incredible. To see what I mean, move on to the #6 statistic for marketing.

6. Meanwhile, for Google Ads on the search network, the average CTR is 3.17% across industries. (Wordstream)

Comparing Wordstream data about average CTRs on Google Ads across industries to the CTR for position #1 is a good way to see the whole picture.

The average CTR on search network ads is 3.17%. Meanwhile, organic position #1 enjoys a CTR over 10 times higher than that.

Plus, you won’t have to pay for that visibility. Content creation isn’t free, but it’s definitely cheaper than paying for search ads.

Why SEO matters in 2019? 🎩 Google is still #1, 🔍 search > social media, 🛒 the avg. conversion rate for organic traffic-to-leads is 16%, and 📈 ranking first in Google gets 33% traffic + 30.97% CTR, 10x higher than search ads CTR. Click To Tweet

Content Strategy Stats: Compelling Reasons to Start Planning

Content strategy is necessary to pull together all the pieces of your content marketing plan. Without this map in your pocket, you’ll be lost. Here’s why:

7. 65% of the top-performing content marketers in 2018-2019 have a documented content strategy. (Content Marketing Institute)

Only 14% of the least successful content marketers have a documented strategy, in comparison. Those are some pretty persuasive facts from the Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 B2B research report. We can’t ignore the correlation between winners (65% with a documented strategy) and losers (the 86% without one).

8. 41% of all marketing budgets are spent on content. (Zazzle Media)

Content is exploding, and so is content marketing and strategy. There has to be a way to guide and hone your actions so the content you create DOES something every time you publish:

  • Build trust with readers
  • Demonstrate expertise and authority
  • Convince visitors to connect with your brand further (thus becoming leads)
  • Establish loyalty and a continuous relationship

More and more marketers are realizing this, thus content marketing budgets are continuing to increase – because the ROI is real, so the investment makes sense.

9. 89% of marketers now say their content marketing goals are linked to broader business goals. One year ago, only 45% said this was true. (Zazzle Media)

Again, the trend of content marketing’s upward climb is consistent, as we see from this 2018 content marketing statistic from Zazzle Media’s State of Content Report. Particularly, 45% to 89% is a huge uptick in people who are not only implementing but also understanding the basic strategy to make content work.

Linking your content goals to broader business goals is how you ensure your entire operations are on the same track. It’s super-smart, so this stat shows how marketers are getting savvier about content.

Why start a content strategy? 👨👩 65% of the best content marketers have a documented content strategy, and 🔗 89% of marketers now link content marketing goals to broader business goals. Read more about the latest content marketing stats. Click To Tweet

Content Creation Statistics: Why Invest in Content?

At the bottom of a fantastic content strategy, you’ll find a meticulously planned and executed content creation workflow. Here are some marketing stats from 2019 that demonstrate why it works.

10. The content marketing area with the biggest spending increase from 2018 to 2019 was content creation (56%). (Content Marketing Institute)

Over and over, we are seeing content marketers get wise to what’s needed for successful content marketing through powerful content and blogging statistics like this one.

Marketers increased their budgets the most in the area of content creation in 2018 – 2019. To put it bluntly, amazing content gets readers AND rankings. Investment in its creation is being recognized (finally!) as important to achieving both of those things.

11. 77% of content marketers say they use educational content to nurture their audience. (Content Marketing Institute)

77% of marketers use educational content because it works. When you aim to teach or inform your readers, you’re offering them value – fresh knowledge, new insights, and guidance.

The majority of marketers know this and understand the worth of content that teaches.

12. 75% of content marketers report better overall ROI when they use visuals in their content. (Contently & Libris)

Consistently, GOOD content creation wins, as this marketing stat from Contently & Libris shows.

Using visuals in your content is a best-practice for a reason. Readers read differently on the internet, and adding visuals to written words helps keep them on the page and increases comprehension and memory.

13. Before doing any further shopping, 50% of internet users searched for videos on products or services that captured their interest. (Google)

In content creation, videos are still gaining steam.

And according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound report, more marketers are going to be hopping on the video content bandwagon in response. 48% of marketers plan to add a YouTube channel to their content marketing strategy next year.

That said, if you look at the above graph, you’ll see that video, in general, is on marketer’s minds. Facebook video and Instagram are the next top channels people will add to their marketing plans.

Another good insight: From the CMI report, 64% said they increased their use of audio/visual content over the past year.

Visual content marketing statistics from 2018 onward show that video is still a major content format with readers. The importance of visual content can’t be overstated – brands that invest in quality video will win with audiences.

14. 76% of B2B buyers said infographics are the most valuable content type for the early stages of the buying process. (Demand Gen)

Mark this as another win for visual content. According to a Demand Gen Content Preferences Survey, early-stage B2B buyers appreciate a good infographic that’s visually pleasing, scannable, and snackable. When they’re in the initial process of researching a brand, they have a lot of information to get through, and infographics make it easier.

Once again, infographic statistics for 2018 prove the importance of a visual content marketing strategy for any brand with an online presence. (And in 2019, that’s most brands.)

15. 71% of B2B buyers consumed blog content during their buying journeys. 3-5 content pieces are the norm. (Demand Gen)

A whopping 71% of B2B buyers read some type of content during the buying process. They didn’t just read one piece, either. Multiple content pieces played a role – 3-5 on average.

Content helps buyers make buying decisions for both online and offline purchases. When you provide the helpful content they need to feel confident in their choices, that’s a slam-dunk.

Why invest in content? 💸 56% more spend on content this 2019, 🍎 77% of content marketers use content to educate audience, and 👀 75% of content marketers report better ROI in using visuals. See the rest of the stats in this post! Click To Tweet

Stats on B2B Content Marketing Effectiveness

Finally, these content marketing stats from 2018 and 2019 show how content marketers rate the effectiveness of their campaigns, and what can happen when you prioritize content.

15. 79% of marketers say content marketing has been at least somewhat effective for their brand. (Zazzle Media)

For most brands, content marketing is effective to some degree. In fact, the Zazzle Media study found absolutely no one said content marketing is “not at all effective.”

It always works, but your level of success depends on how you plan, implement, and maintain your content marketing strategy. (I’d bet the 19% who said their content marketing is “extremely effective” have their strategy down pat.)

16. If you prioritize blogging, you’ll see 13x more positive ROI from your efforts. (HubSpot)

Another gem from HubSpot’s State of Inbound report: Those who put blogging at the top of their list will see 13x the ROI of those who don’t.

Remember: Content marketing ROI is generally measured in the following ways:

  • Traffic increases to your site
  • Improved SEO rankings
  • An influx of new subscribers
  • More sales
  • Better brand visibility
  • Higher-quality leads coming in
  • Better conversion rates

Not to sound like a broken record, but, in 2019, prioritizing blogging to get those kinds of results means investing in your content strategy. THAT is what determines your blogging consistency and quality.

How effective content marketing is? 👍 79% of marketers agree on its effectiveness! Also, according to Hubspot, prioritizing blogging brings 13x more positive ROI. 🎊 Check out other awesome stats about #contentmarketing by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Let B2B Content Marketing Statistics from 2019 Inform Your Future

These B2B content marketing statistics look like just a bunch of numbers from a bird’s eye view, but when you zoom in and examine them, they’re a big deal.

These are the exact reasons why content marketing works so well in a world that’s burned-out on traditional advertising.

Are you ready to let it work for you?

content marketing content

ad insights from youtube

The Secrets of Grabbing Attention Online: Insights from YouTube’s “Skip” Button

Creating ads is a tricky business.

It’s a case of a phenomenon I’ve mentioned before: the marketer’s equivalent of the Hawthorne Effect, which was a study done in the 1920s that discovered changes to people’s experimental conditions (amount of light, time to work, etc.) led directly to increases in productivity.

Well, interruptions lead to negativity — decreases in productivity, decreases in happiness. And most ads are, in fact, very interruptive. They were built to be.

Today’s modern, savvy consumer doesn’t react well when they know they’re being promoted to, especially when ads are interrupting a current consumption or focus.

Take, for example, clicking a YouTube video. An ad pops up — the viewer may already have their mouse in the lower-right corner, just waiting on “Skip” to appear.

This could be said for all ads. I mean, just look at the ROA (return on advertising). Yikes.

Source: Ad Strategist (see our summary on Express Writers)

Just a few years ago, you could expect to generate nearly a dozen times your investment on Facebook Ads, whereas that number has plummeted in the present day.

It isn’t just because of the woes of any particular platform. It’s because people are cautious about being promoted to.

So, what’s the secret for getting them to stick around and hear what you have to say?

Well, what about looking at the ads on YouTube that people simply have to stop and watch, and can’t skip? Yes, we can learn a thing or two from those captivating pieces of art. That’s what I’m here today on the Write Blog to explore.

What's the secret in getting people to stick around and hear what you have to say, in an online world full of millions of other marketers? @YouTube's skip button has some pretty cool insights. 📹 More from @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

The Appeal of Storytelling: What Makes Us Gravitate to it?

There’s something enthralling about a good story. Most people’s first exposure to stories comes when they’re small, hearing about fairytales before bed.

Stories stick with us throughout life, both on the personal level of banter and campfire stories all the way to tales woven into books, TV, and movies.

In a way, our lives are stories. Maybe that’s why we relate to the stories of others so well. Stories and the narratives that come with them are proven to help us construct memories, playing a greater role in our psyche than many realize.

A group of neuroscientists at Princeton University did a study on brain patterns during storytelling. They found the response patterns in the brain were the same for the listeners as they were for the storytellers. Both figuratively and scientifically, stories connect us.

Learn what makes @YouTube audience members forget to hit 'skip' on ads. Stories connect us - both figuratively and scientifically! 🎦 More from @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

It should come as no surprise that storytelling has emerged as a powerful strategy within marketing. Great content connects the creators with the audience and the brand with the customers.

Check out this snippet of a great infographic from OneSpot.

Source: OneSpot

The connection between story-like ads and the tendency of people to avoid the skip button has been explored and reveals insights on what makes an ad good in the mind of a viewer.

3 Lessons on What Makes Ads Watchable and Inviting

youtube skip button

3 secrets to grabbing attention, from @YouTube's Skip button: 1. Personalized content 2. Genuine storytelling 3. Content that feels real 💥 Click To Tweet

Telling your viewer a story rather than giving them a pitch is much more likely to make them stick around. Here are three examples of how it’s worked in the past, and how you can do it in your own ads.

1. Personalized Ads Help Bridge Taboo Topics

Abreva had a tough task ahead of them when they marketed a solution to cold sores. While this is a problem many people suffer from, it isn’t one a lot of people like to talk about. Turning to YouTube and building over 100 personal ads, Abreva sent simple, six-second pre-rolls to users based on relevancy.

Search interest boomed over 300%. Users who were searching celebrity gossip would get ads about how they couldn’t control the latest breakup but could stop cold sores. Users who searched up beauty tutorials would get ads on how they could keep pouty lips but lose cold sores.

Personalized ads blend in – making them feel less promotional and more relatable. They also effectively bypass any defensive tendencies the viewer may have as a result.

2. Genuine Storytelling Grabs a Viewer’s Attention

The volume of ads, and content, in general, is growing rapidly. With so many options to choose from, users are extremely selective. They’ll move on fast from video or an ad if it isn’t connecting with them from the beginning.

Nearly two-thirds of people skip ads when given the chance, with nearly three-quarters of people admitting they do it out of habit. In a 15-second ad, you have a little over five seconds before the skip option pops up. In a 30-second ad, you have a little over seven seconds.

Why do they do it? More often than not, it’s because they just want to get to the video.

Source: MarketingSherpa

So how do you stop them from skipping? Give them something just as interesting to watch. Your content becomes less like a barrier blocking them and more like a content appetizer before the main course.

If you hear a good opening line in a book, a movie trailer, or a TV pitch, you may stick around. What’s this story about?

The same thing can be done with an ad. To stop viewers from impulse skipping, you should start your story off from the beginning and build on it.

3. Content That Feels Real Gets Watched

Going back to how people will automatically put up their guard if they feel a promotion coming on, real content is the way to go. What qualifies as real? If something is real, it has a genuine feel to it. It’s full of facts and insight, rather than products and offers.

This can also tie in with personalization and storytelling. Imagine crafting an ad and sending it to someone who is passionate about the subject, all while telling them a relatable tale they can put themselves into. That’s a recipe for views.

Source: Think with Google

Think of those ads with a guy recording himself with his phone, telling you about his business idea. It has the risk of appearing pitchy, but it’s genuine enough that viewers may just want to stick around.

Stories with realism and relatability click with us. They’re far more personal and impactful than a generic advertisement thrown at whoever will watch, no matter how polished it is. They’re also more effective for advertisers. Why send the same ad out and simply take a chance on people watching it?

Personal campaigns with appealing stories are far more likely to keep people engaged.

'Stories with realism and relatability click with us. They’re far more personal and impactful than a generic advertisement thrown at whoever will watch, no matter how polished it is.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on the 3 lessons on watchable ads Click To Tweet

Stories Are About the Listener & Their Takeaway

Most marketers know that good value-focused marketing is about the customer first, not the brand.

The same could be said about good advertisements. Whether a YouTube pre-roll or a webpage dropdown ad, the same principals apply.

You don’t want your ad jumping in front of someone on their way to watch something else, only to try and ask them for sale – even in not so many words.

Instead, you want your ad to come off more like a personal tale. A story that resonates with the viewer, connects with them and makes them feel like they’re being treated to something rather than forced to tolerate it for a few seconds.

The results will speak for themselves, and they already do. Authentic stories and personalized content build the connection you need with your viewer and can stop them from skipping you before hearing what you have to say.

cta great copy

topic circle craveable content

How to Create Craveable Content: Use the Topic Circle Concept 

What’s one of the biggest mistakes marketers make when creating content?

It’s when they plunge ahead, and immediately spring into creation mode.

Wait… really?

Yes, you heard right.

While it’s great to have ideas and inspiration for the creation phase of content, one vital, monumental piece is missing for success in the above scenario.

What is it?

What your audience wants.

Sure, you might think your content idea is great.

But if your audience doesn’t agree, content will go nowhere.

You’ll get zero traffic. Zero shares. Zero comments. Zero engagement. Zero conversions.

*shudder*

On the other hand, if you create craveable content your audience is dying to read, your content will go the distance.

Check this example of the lifecycle of one impactful piece of content. Done well, it can nurture your visitors into becoming loyal customers. (Read more about how our readers have become buyers.)

Impactful, audience-satiating content is a big deal.

So, the real question here is, how do you find out what your audience wants? How do you know which content topics are gold, and which are destined for the grave?

I’ve come up with a concept that will help. It’s called the Topic Circle. Let’s explore how to use it to create craveable content your audience wants and needs.

Don't go straight into creation without knowing what your audience wants. But how do you find out? @JuliaEMcCoy has a concept called the Topic Circle ⭕️ that can help you flesh out truly craveable content. 🍦 Click To Tweet

topic circle concept

How to Create Craveable Content Your Audience Hungers For Using the Topic Circle Concept

The Topic Circle is a good way to visualize the intersection of your expertise + what your audience wants.

If you only rely on your expertise to come up with content topics, you’re climbing a slippery slope. Sure, you can write about those topics with confidence and authority, but at the same time, who knows if your audience will care?

That’s why you need to visualize how your expertise meshes with what your audience wants to read. This is what it looks like:

And put into practice, this is what a Topic Circle mapped to topics your reader actually wants to read looks like. For example, if your expertise is selling running shoes, your audience doesn’t necessarily want to read about types and styles of shoes. Instead, they might want to see content dealing with health and running apps, training, hydration, etc.

To arrive at your own topic circle, let’s look at how to build it.

1. Know Your Expertise

First up, knowing your expertise is fundamental for building your own Topic Circle. That’s because your expertise serves as your topic core – the area of knowledge you’ll focus on in your content.

There are a few ways to define your expertise (one or all of these may apply to you):

  • Your passion
  • What you do for a living
  • What you’re an expert in

Here are a few topic circle examples.

If you’re a pastry chef, your expertise might be baking desserts. Here’s how to map that to topics your audience wants to read about.

If you’re a nature photographer, your expertise might be identifying and photographing nature scenes, birds or landscapes. There are so many ways to map this to topics your audience wants to hear about.

And the list goes on.

How do you know what topics your readers will love? You need a Topic Circle. Define what your expertise is, to start. What's your passion? Your work? Your best skill? For more tips, check out @JuliaEMcCoy's guide craveable content 💘 Click To Tweet

2. Know Your Target Audience Inside-Out

So, you’ve defined your expertise and your core topic area. Now you need to know what someone buying or learning about products in your topic area wants to read about.

To help you discover those sub-topics, you need to do some digging.

2.1 Research Your Targets

Don’t guess what your target audience looks like. Research. That means:

Image: Facebook

All of these actions help paint a picture of who you should be targeting with content, and what they want to read about.

2.2 Know Where Your Audience Lives Online

One of your research goals should be to learn where your audience lives online, including:

  • Social media sites where they hang out
  • Hashtags they use
  • Forums they participate in
  • Influencers they follow and trust
  • Blogs they read and comment on

Once you discover these places and resources, you can internet-stalk them to find the questions and pain points people are talking about. Then, you can cover those in your content!

2.3 Create an Audience Persona

Once you have thoroughly researched your audience, it’s time to distill that information into a resource you can reference over and over: the audience persona.

This is an imaginary profile of your ideal audience member – the person who loves your brand, follows your content, and buys your products.

The profile should contain key information that helps you target them in your content, such as:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, marital status, education, etc.)
  • Occupation, job roles and income
  • Work and life goals
  • Challenges blocking them from meeting those goals
  • Personal habits, preferences, likes/dislikes, etc.

Here’s a sample audience persona built for Express Writers:

This is an ultra-valuable tool that will help you figure out what your audience wants from your content.

MAJOR tip: When thinking about a possible content topic, ask yourself if your persona would benefit from reading it. If the answer is iffy, find another topic.

For successful content, you need to know your audience inside-out with deep research, discovering where they 'live' online, and by creating an audience persona. Read more on @JuliaEMcCoy's guide to creating your Topic Circle. Click To Tweet

3. Ask Your Audience Directly About Their Biggest Challenges

Another good way to flesh out your Topic Circle and understand what your audience wants:

Just ask.

Seriously. Send out an email to your list and ask them their #1 challenge in [insert industry here]. Tell them you want to know because you want to serve them better. Be sincere.

Once you get responses, listen. Use that information to create impactful, problem-solving, targeted content.

'Another good way to flesh out your Topic Circle and understand what your audience wants: Just ask. Send out an email to your list and ask them their #1 challenge.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on how to build your Topic Circle 💡 Click To Tweet

How Do You Create Craveable Content? Find Where Your Expertise and Audience Needs Intersect

Creating content that gets result requires thinking deeper than only focusing on our expertise. 🕵️‍♀️

The Topic Circle concept is useful for answering the question “how to create craveable content” because it illustrates where your expertise and your audience wants/needs intersect.

This is your sweet spot for content topics. 🎯

Stay in your sweet spot, and you’ll create craveable content your audience hungers for.

Need help creating content? We play best with marketers that bring great ideas and are missing the element of a team of hard-working, experienced copywriters. (That’s us!) See our services and pricing. 

How to Create Brand Voice Guidelines

How to Create Brand Voice Guidelines for Your Brand

You, my human reader, possess a unique set of traits.

You say things in a certain way. You have characteristics that people remember you for. Your tone, your language, your delivery – all of it comes together to give you a unique voice.

Same for brands and marketers.

Or, at least, it should be.

Since people are the ones vouching for and buying from brands… brands, like people, should be known for unique characteristics, and most of all, a unique voice.

When it’s an organization’s voice, we typically refer to it as a brand voice. It’s extremely valuable for making you memorable enough to stand out from competitors, and recognizable in a crowded market.

Despite the advantages of having a specific brand tone of voice, it’s surprising how many companies don’t take time to fully develop their own. Only 6 out of 10 marketers believe their brand is aligned with the direction of their company.

So, why are some brands skipping over this step? It could be because the brand itself needs some work, or, marketers simply don’t know how to develop their brand’s voice.

That’s why I’m here with today’s guide on how to build brand voice guidelines. I’ll expand on the benefits, and share with you how some of the leading companies in unique industries have crafted individual brand voices customers can recognize. Ready? Let’s get into it.

How to Create Brand Voice Guidelines

7 Steps to Building Brand Voice Guidelines

1.    Understand WHY It’s So Valuable for Your Organization

2.    Analyze Your Content & Audience for Inspiration

3.    Start with a Concise Description (Then Flesh it Out)

4.    Build Examples, Outlines, & Templates

5.    Ensure Your Brand Voice Guidelines Translate Well into Content

6.    Refine & Refocus in Small Increments

7.    Add the Supplementary Touches

Only 6 out of 10 marketers believe their brand is aligned with the direction of their company. Are you on the right track? Read @JuliaEMcCoy's 7-step guide on building brand voice guidelines 🎤 Click To Tweet

Why Should You Invest Time into Building a Brand Tone of Voice?

You’re busy. You’ve got products to sell, subscribers to gain, and numerous other goals to meet. Why should you invest time in creating a brand voice? Because it can help you meet those goals.

The bottom line is you want growth. Growth in subscribers, growth in exposure, growth in sales. According to a report from Lucidpress, brand consistency can improve revenue growth by 23% on average.

Marketers were also asked about the percentage of growth attributable to brand consistency, with the results heavily skewed upwards.

Source: Lucidpress

Many of the qualities people want in their company can only come from a well-developed brand voice. If you want to really stand out, maintain a connection with your audience, and achieve reach across multiple channels, consistent brand voice guidelines are the answer. They can offer:

  • Differentiation: Your content differentiation factor is what sets you apart from the competition. This is what will make your brand memorable, especially compared to the competition. Remember, your brand voice is about how you say things, not just what you say. I’ll cover more about how to develop this in sections two and three.
  • Recognizability: Being different isn’t the same as being recognizable, but the two go together. If customers find your brand memorable, they can recognize it quickly. From a catchphrase, a symbol, and even from a single sentence in some cases. Your brand voice is about how you come off to your audience, and being consistent with this presentation helps you stay fresh in their minds.
  • Reach: Once you’ve got a consistent brand voice, creating content actually becomes easier. Whether you’re doing it in-house or hiring specialists, your brand voice gives you a head start. You’ll automatically have an idea of what format, style, and outline to use whether you’re creating content for a blog, mailing list, app, social profile, or eBook. Your brand will be able to reach viewers no matter where they are or how they prefer to digest information.

Your brand voice guidelines help you build a better connection with your audience and serve as a way to streamline content creation.

When your ideal audience member falls in love with your brand voice. “YES!”

Instantly, your company becomes more efficient and your contact more impactful.

'Why invest in creating your brand's tone of voice? According to a report from Lucidpress, brand consistency can improve revenue growth by 23% on average.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on building brand voice guidelines. Click To Tweet

Gather Content Samples & Audience Insights for Inspiration

Now that you know why to build a brand voice, the next step is understanding how. Before you can set out a detailed group of guidelines, you need a good starting point.

To begin, gather samples of your content and see where you stand at the start. Do any of your content choices make you cringe, and decide you could really use some work? Or, do any of your pieces (or even individual parts of them) make you sit up straight and think “That is what I want the brand to be about”?

Source: Content Marketing Institute

Also known as a content audit or content inventory, this checklist can be altered based on what data you have available. As you can see, a big part of getting insights about your brand and content also involves having insights on your audience.

You can obtain this in a number of ways. If you’re using platforms like Facebook or Google to post ads, you can use their built-in insights feature for analytics. You could also take the manual approach and send out surveys to see exactly what your audience is looking for and how they feel about your brand.

Don’t have access to any analytics platforms? Don’t have a mailing list to send out a survey to? If all else fails, you can always gain insights by analyzing your competitors. One tool I like using is Mangools.

Source: Mangools

By searching your main area of focus along with location and platform, you can see how your competitors are doing. You can also find out what keywords they’re ranking for, and get a better idea of how their brand voice is helping their goals.

By this point, you should be getting an idea built up about your brand and the voice you want it to have. An idea is all you need to get started building your full voice guidelines.

'How do you start building your brand voice guidelines? To begin, gather samples of your content... what makes you sit up straight and think 'That is what I want the brand to be about'?' - @JuliaEMcCoy on building brand voice guidelines Click To Tweet

Start Simple Then Grow Your Guidelines

If you look at a lot of brands, they’ll have pages upon pages about their brand voice. Like all great things of considerable size or volume, these were grown out of a simple starting point. Let’s use my own agency for reference.

As far as our tone of voice, it could be summed up in a few words – simple, direct, informative, and authoritative.  If you look at this excerpt from our brand book, you’ll see how each section is fleshed out a little more.

Source: Express Writers

Is your brand focused on being trendy, with your finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest in your industry? Then you could be called the modern, brave, trendy brand.

Are you a formal, intellectual thought-leader who spearheads your chosen space with your approach to professionalism? You could be going for the professional, insightful, educator brand.

The two samples above could conceivably cover the same topic in some cases. The way they would do it would differ. Let’s say, for example, a breakthrough medical technology for cosmetics is developed, giving people the ability to look years younger for a fraction of the cost of modern procedures. How would each brand write this blog’s headline? It could look something like:

Brand #1: Turn Back the Clock & Look Years Younger with This Crazy Cool Breakthrough

Brand #2: New Cosmetic Technology Offers Low-Cost Options for Anti-Aging Treatment 

See the difference? I’ll cover more about how to develop your voice for content purposes later in this piece.

Once you learn how to articulate your brand guidelines in a couple of sentences, or even a few words, you’re on track.

What kind of a brand are you? Modern, brave, trendy? Or professional, insightful, educative? Know how you can stand out with your own voice by building your brand voice guidelines. Click To Tweet

Expand Your Ideas to Create Detailed Guides & Templates

When you’ve got an idea in mind for your brand voice, expanding on it gives you a great opportunity. That opportunity is to build guides and templates you can go off of for future content.

If you’re like a lot of brands, you’ll be creating lots of content. 60% of marketers say they create at least one piece per day. Imagine having a ready-made template. That would speed things up immensely. Even better, it gives you the ability to be consistent.

How exactly can you expand your ideas to build these detailed guides? Let’s look at another successful brand – MailChimp. Like my agency, they have voice and tone guidelines for their content.

If I told you copy was plainspoken, what would you think that meant? It could mean talking about a simple topic – or talking about a variety of topics with simple language.

What about humor? That could mean everything from making knock-knock jokes to adding a touch of sly sarcasm to catch your reader off guard. Here’s a glimpse at how they define their tone goals.

Source: MailChimp

They go on to offer some specific writing tips. These include using active voice over passive, avoiding slang or jargon, and keeping a positive tone throughout.

They also have detailed instructions depending on the type of content they’re creating or having created. Whether it’s a blog, a technical article, or an email, their voice will be consistent. However, their style may be tailored slightly for the piece in question.

A brand like this one may be publishing dozens of blogs per week or sending out hundreds of thousands of emails per day. Since they have the style guide set up ahead of time, they can ensure their content is streamlined while remaining consistent throughout.

So when you’re creating guidelines for your own brand voice, consider:

  • Tone: Make sure your style of speaking is understood by the writer ahead of time, so your content always sounds familiar in your readers’ heads.
  • Content Type: Remember there are different content types for a reason. A blog may not have the same audience or intent as a technical article, so create separate guidelines depending on the type of content you’re creating or having created.
  • Examples/Templates: When you’re looking to make sure your tone is really understood, make examples. You can also create templates for things like text layout, visual goals, and more.

Why should you go through all this effort, especially if you don’t have the means to create a high volume of content yourself? Because you may have someone else do it for you, and you can help them help you.

'60% of marketers say they create at least one piece (of content) per day. Imagine having a ready-made template. That would speed things up immensely. Even better, it gives you the ability to be consistent.' - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

See How Your Brand Tone of Voice Translates in Practice

When my agency interacts with new clients, it is an exciting opportunity. We aren’t just looking to help them get great content – we’re looking to help them promote their brand. In fact, it’s one of our main values.

Source: Express Writers

When we ask a client about their brand tone of voice, some are less sure than others. It’s admittedly a big question if you haven’t taken a lot of time to develop yours.

When you outsource the creation of blogs, web pages, or even content strategy, you’ll get better results if the creators know what voice you’re looking for.

When you have these guidelines in place before writing or ordering content, you will be able to get a better result. If you’re outsourcing content, you’ll make sure the writers can translate your brand properly in whatever piece you’re ordering.

Source: Salesforce

Your checklist for defining your brand doesn’t have to be verbatim to the graphic above, but these are some good things to consider when sending over your brand voice summary.

Good brand voice guidelines will ensure you are connecting with your audience in a way that resonates with them. It will also ensure you stick to the same voice when ordering multiple pieces of content, providing uniformity and consistency to your readers.

Don’t forget, there’s nothing that says your brand voice can’t change a little over time. Once you create a guide, the next step is tweaking your approaches where necessary for better results.

'Good brand voice guidelines ensures you connect with your audience in a way that resonates with them. It ensures you stick to the same voice when ordering multiple pieces of content, providing uniformity and consistency to readers.' -… Click To Tweet

Make Small Changes to Refine Your Brand Voice

Once you’ve got brand guidelines written out, you want your content to stick to them. However, you can always make changes where necessary.

Forbes has an excellent piece on how seven executives made one simple change to great results. Here are some of the more brand-focused inclusions:

  • Personalization Over Automation: Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. began using her email newsletter as a way to connect personally to her audience. As you would imagine, this necessitated a specific tone of voice to make the desired connection.
  • Conversation-Worthy Content: Ed Breault of Aprimo talked about how his brand had shifted their content to conversational over product-centric. The goal was to give readers something to talk about, so conversational tone took priority over promotional language.
  • Creating Engaging Environments: Shacher Orren of Playbuzz talked about how their brand put a greater focus on meaningful, two-way dialogues. It helped users feel more engaged and made the brand more user-focused.

Your changes could be even more minor than that, but just as impactful. Maybe you want your writing to sound a little less formal? Could your content benefit from a touch of humor here or there?

If sales are the priority, promotional language could take priority. If you want readers to opt into your mailing list, try being a bit more conversational and casual when speaking to them.

Your brand may evolve over time, and that’s a good thing – it means you’re being responsive to your industry, your goals, and most importantly, your audience.

Personalization, conversation-worthy content, and creating engaging environments are some of the tweaks you can add to your brand voice. Know how to apply these in @JuliaEMcCoy's 7-step guide in creating brand voice guidelines Click To Tweet

Incorporate Your Brand Tone of Voice into Other Areas

Your brand tone of voice is how your content sounds to your reader. However, brand guidelines can also encompass other areas. Take a look at how thorough Skype is just with their logo.

Source: Skype

You’ll find their brand, along with many others, have guidelines for everything. The colors they use, their font choices – the list could go on and on.

While this isn’t necessarily connected to the tone of voice in the immediate sense, your choices about your tone could provide inspiration for these other areas as well.

For example, a formal tone would necessitate the use of similar font styles. If your brand is going for a flashy, trendy feel, you may experiment with creative color schemes to complement it.

Building your brand is a concentrated effort that requires collaboration from all sides. Your copywriting, logo design, web layouts, and social presence will all play a role.

'Building your brand is a concentrated effort that requires collaboration from all sides. Your copywriting, logo design, web layouts, and social presence will all play a role.' - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Giving Your Company Its Own Sense of Personality

We know companies aren’t individuals, but a brand tone of voice could be thought of as the business equivalent of an individual’s personality.

Your brand voice guidelines provide you with a go-to guide for how your company should sound. When people read your copy, view your ads, and consider your pitches, how do you really sound in their head?

Do you appeal to them in a way they can relate to? Are you memorable? Do you connect with them in a way that other brands in the same industry don’t?

Your brand tone of voice is your language choice. It’s your writing style. It’s your way of saying the same thing someone else may say, but in a way that is unique to you.

It’s also your key to consistent content, better reach, and a more distinct connection with your audience. With a consistent brand voice, you improve more than your content – you improve your connection with your customers.