how to create a pricing page

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine this…

You’re creating your pricing page.

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

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

But then, crickets… Nobody’s converting.

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

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

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

how to write a pricing page guide

Why Isn’t My Pricing Page Converting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stages of Awareness

Image Source

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

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

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

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

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

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

1. Keep It Simple

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

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

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

Dyn 1

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

There’s just far too much going on here.

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

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

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

Dyn 2

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

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

2. Help Visitors Choose the Right Plan

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

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

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

Take a look at this example from eVoice:

evoice

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

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

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

Now, take a look at this example from Viddler:

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

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

Create Plans Based on Your Buyer Personas

As Price Intelligently CEO Patrick Campbell tells us:

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

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

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

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

Salesforce is a company that nails this concept:

Take a look at the differences between each plan.

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

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

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

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

3. Overcome Objections With a FAQ Section

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

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

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

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

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

4 Examples of High Converting Pricing Pages

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

1. MailChimp

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

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

2. Squarespace

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

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

3. Freshdesk

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

4. Wistia

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

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

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

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

As KissMetrics contributor Zach Bulygo says:

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

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

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

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

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

There’s just no way around it.

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

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

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

express writers cta 2017

how to grow your email list

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

Email list-building is everything to your online business.

Or, it should be.

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

Why?

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

If these assertions surprise you, consider these stats:

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

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

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

email list-building tactics

How Email Pwns Social Media for Reach and Conversions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

emailvssocial-conversions

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

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

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

Smart Insights sums it up this way:

The numbers speak for themselves. Email has power.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Use Lead Magnets to Draw in Subscribers

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

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

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

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

Tips for Creating Good Lead Magnets

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

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

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

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

lead magnet screenshot

What Types of Lead Magnets Should You Use?

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

That said, here are some solid ideas for starters.

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

2. Invest in Evergreen Content

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

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

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

This is content that keeps working hard for you.

3. Use CTAs on EVERY Relevant Blog Post

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their blog post headline:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Use CTAs in Your Guest Posts

Do you frequently guest post on different industry sites?

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

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

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

example guest author bio

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

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

8. Make Sure Your CTAs Are Irresistible

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

Well, you need to get better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I need to say it?

Yep, it was the pop-up.

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

So, You’ve Got People Subscribing…

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

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

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

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

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

There IS a way.

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

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

Here’s how it happened:

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

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

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

EW_leadmagnet

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

This case study is proof of the old adage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s huge.

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

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

express writers cta 2017

cmworld 2017 express writers

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

I’ve always wanted to go to CMWorld.

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

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

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

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

The verdict?

We experienced a dynamite week at CMWorld.

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

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

cmworld 2017 express writers

CMWorld 2017 In Pictures

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

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

cmworld 2017 express writers collage

Arriving in Cleveland September 5 for CMWorld 2017: Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite takeaway:

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

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

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

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

linda goff cmworld

Key takeaway:

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

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

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

Key takeaway:

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

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

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

Favorite takeaway:

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

michele linn cmworld

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

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

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

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

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

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

coschedule cmworld

This session by Garrett from CoSchedule held some great tips.

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite takeaway:

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

Passion trumps polish EVERY TIME. @tamadearClick To Tweet

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

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

joseph gordon levitt cmworld

Favorite takeaway:

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

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

Joseph: Brand marketing.

Joe: Why not content marketing?

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

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

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

#audienceapplause

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

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

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

First, Jay shared core statistics that are pretty crazy:

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

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

jay baer cmworld

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did I make THAT happen?!

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

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

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

How interesting is this tip?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This seriously applies to meeting influencers.

Seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s why.

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

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

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

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

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

joe pulizzi signed book

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

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

content strategy course cta

how to sell your clients

How to Convince Your Clients to Buy Better Content

So, you’ve got clients.

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

But there’s a problem.

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

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

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

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

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

How do I know it’s possible?

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

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

how to convince your clients to sell on better copy

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

1. Provide Immediate Value

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Talk to Us Page

Our Talk to Us Page

When they do, clients receive:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Offer Social Proof & Present Case Studies

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

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

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

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

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

Research shows that people are influenced by similar people.

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

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

Social Proof express writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case Study Marketing Labs

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

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

Focus on Building Long Term Relationships

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

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

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

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

what not to do in your content marketing

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

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

Take that a step further…

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

You could be driving away customers without knowing it.

[insert audible groans for added effect]

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

The good news?

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

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

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

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

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

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

bored

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

1. Selling, Selling, Selling

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

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

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

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

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

bad_salesman

Don’t be like this guy.

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

2. Being Self-Focused vs. Customer-Focused

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Believing That More Is More

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

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

No. Nope. Not a chance.

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

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

QuantityVsQualityContinuum

Image via Scoop.it

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

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

4. Going Overboard with SEO

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

It’s bad SEO.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

content-marketing-infographic

Image via Content Marketing Institute

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

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

Focus on your audience.

Focus on authenticity.

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

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

[/cue epic end music & happy crowd cheers]

happy crowd

 

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

cta

popular bloggers in content marketing

35 Popular Bloggers in Content Marketing You Should Be Following

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bloggers in content marketing

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

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

I’ve got just the list for you!

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

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

1. Steve Rayson & the BuzzSumo Team

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

buzzsumo

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

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

2. The Smart Blogger Team

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

3. Seth Godin

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

seth godin

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

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

4. Copyblogger

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

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

5. Sujan Patel

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

sujan patel

6. Mark Schaefer – {grow} blog

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

7. Convince and Convert by Jay Baer

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

8. Jeff Goins

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

jeff goins

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

9. Joe Pulizzi & Content Marketing Institute

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

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

10. Jeff Bullas

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

11. CoSchedule

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

coschedule

12. Madalyn Sklar

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

madalyn sklar

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

13. Noah Kagan & OKDork

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

OkDork-OG-02

14. Valeria Maltoni & Conversation Agent

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

15. David Armano & Logic + Emotion

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

logic+emotion

16. Marc Meyer & Direct Marketing Observations

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

17. Branding Strategy Insider

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

18. Vertical Leap

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

19. Darren Rowse & ProBlogger

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

20. Ann Handley & Marketing Profs

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

ann handley

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

21. Michael Brenner & Marketing Insider

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

22. Social Media Explorer

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

socialmediaexplorer

23. TopRank Blog

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

24. Adam Connell & Blogging Wizard

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

adam connell

25. Social Media Examiner

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

26. DreamGrow Blog

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

27. Conversion Sciences Blog

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

28. Neil Patel & Quick Sprout

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

29. HubSpot Blog

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

30. Drew McLellan – Drew’s Marketing Minute

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

30. Chris Brogan

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

31. The Content Strategist (Contently)

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

32. Jesse Wisnewski – The Copybot

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

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

33. Econsultancy

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

34. Influential Marketing Blog

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

35. Joanna Wiebe & Copyhackers

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

copyhackers

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

Add These Popular Bloggers to Your Daily Digest

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

What is it?

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

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

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

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

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

content marketing industry

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

Content marketing.

Year after year, it continues to explode.

Google Trends Content Marketing

Google Trends results for “content marketing”

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

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

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

So what does that mean for you?

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

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

Let’s get started.

beginners guide to content marketing

What Can Content Marketing Help You Accomplish?

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

As Content Marketing Institute contributor Andrea Fryrear puts it,

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

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

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

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

How to Learn About the Content Marketing Industry

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

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

It starts with his views on learning.

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

Question for Elon Musk

His response?

Musk Answer

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

There are so many different aspects of content marketing.

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

Fundamentals first. Details second.

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

The Fundamentals of Content Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to Learn About Creating an Audience Persona

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

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

2. What You Need to Know About SEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You Need to Know About Identifying High-Value Keywords

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

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

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

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

EW-total-traffic Nov 2015

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

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

google-presence-Sep 2016

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

total traffic June 2017

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

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

Where to Learn About SEO

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

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

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

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

seo-vs-content-marketing-2

And NOT like this:

seo-vs-content-marketing

Where to Learn About Identifying High-Value Keywords

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

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

3. What You Need to Know About Determining Content Types

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

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

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

types of content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REI Expert Advice GIF

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

REI Facebook Page

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

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

Where to Learn About Determining Content Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it doesn’t just help with organization.

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

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

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

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

Where to Create A Dynamic Editorial Calendar

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

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

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

airtable content calendar

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

content-calendar-example

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

kapost content calendar example

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

5. What You Need to Know About Content Publishing

Marketers are constantly searching for answers to questions like:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What You Need to Know About Content Promotion

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

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

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

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

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

Where to Learn About Content Publishing

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

Where to Learn About Content Promotion

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

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

6. What You Need to Know About Content Maintenance

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

content shelf life

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

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

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

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

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

What You Need to Know About Tracking Results

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

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

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

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

Where to Learn About Content Maintenance

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

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

Where to Learn About Tracking Results

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

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

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

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

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

Fortunately, there is.

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

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

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

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

To…

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

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

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

Signing Up for the Content Strategy Certification Course

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

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

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

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

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

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

surveys

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

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

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

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

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

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

surveys, surveys in content marketing

Why Are Surveys Valuable for Content Marketing?

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

1. They Foster Conversation and Engagement

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

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

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

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

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

survey says

2. Surveys Offer Valuable Insights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Create Effective Surveys

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

1. Set a Specific Goal

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

2. Choose a Tool

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

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

surveymonkey_examplequestion

An example of question formatting from SurveyMonkey.

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

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

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

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

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

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

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

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

4. Ask Closed Questions

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

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

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

surveymonkey_surveytemplate

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

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

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

6. Send Survey Invites at Opportune Times

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

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

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

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

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

papersource_surveyinvite

How to Seamlessly Incorporate Surveys into Your Content Marketing

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

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

1. Use a CTA

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

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

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

2. Send an Email

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

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

3. Offer Survey Incentives

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

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

4. Post the Results

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

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

hubspot_survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s exactly what surveys are for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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content marketing plan

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

Benjamin Franklin once said,

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

Mr. Franklin was a smart man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how do you do this?

You do it by creating a bulletproof content marketing plan.

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

Let’s get started.

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

content marketing plan guide

Why Do You Need a Content Marketing Plan?

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

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

Content Strategy Infographic

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

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

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

This isn’t a coincidence.

Having a documented plan is crucial to content marketing success.

The 6 Steps to Developing a Rock Solid Content Marketing Plan

You know you need a plan.

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

1. Know Your Goals and How to Measure Them

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

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

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

But knowing your goals isn’t enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Reasons to Define Your Target Audience

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

But how do you do it?

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

  1. Basic Demographics
  2. Psychographics

Walker recommends that you always start with basic demographics.

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

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

Daily Egg DemographicsAs he goes on to say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chart_Brand_Personality-main-1

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

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

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

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

Reasons for Performing a Content Audit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Questions After Content Audit

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

4. Generate Content Ideas

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

But it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

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

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

Moz’s Keyword Explorer

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

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

Moz Keyword Explorer

Answer the Public

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

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

answer the public

Bloomberry

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

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

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

BloomBerry

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

5. Know What Type of Content You Want to Create

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

There are dozens of content formats to choose from:

Lists of Content Formats

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

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

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

The One Home Run Per Quarter Strategy

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

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

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

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

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

Home Run Content

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

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

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

Ebook Download Info for LinkedIn

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

Repurposing Your Home Run Piece

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Create a Content Calendar

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

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

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

Editorial Calendar

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

Go Create Your Content Marketing Plan

You’ve got everything you need at this point.

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

Go.

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

 

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

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freelance copywriter

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

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

And why wouldn’t they?

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

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

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

CMI Top Content Marketing Challenges

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

After all, content marketing is hard.

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

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

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

The answer…personal, brand-fitted freelance copywriters.

freelance copywriter for content marketing

Why Freelance Copywriters for Your Content Marketing?

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

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

Content Specialist Salary

But what about the cost of a highly skilled freelancer?

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

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

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

Now let’s do some easy math:

16 Blog Posts x 12 Months = 192 Posts Per Year

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

$150 x 192 Posts = $28,800

versus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other reason?

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

Let’s take a look at three examples.

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

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

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

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

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

And why would I do that?

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

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

content life cycle

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

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

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

sitepronews-lead-screenshot-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeremey Duvall Zapier Freelancer

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

Hiring Freelancers to Become In-House Team Members

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

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

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

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

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

Neil Patel and Hiten Shah are master marketers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Writer

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

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

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Copywriter

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

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

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

Finding, Hiring, and Working With Freelance Copywriters

Finding quality freelancers can be tough.

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

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

Editor Tips for Finding Freelancers

Other potential options include:

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

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

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

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

Hiring Freelancers

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

Freelancer Agreement

Working With Freelancers

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

Use Freelancers to Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level

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

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

Save time and money by getting in contact with us today.


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