content marketing in 2017

Why You Should Choose Content Marketing in 2017 & The Best Forms of Content to Invest In Today

Today, content marketing is one of the lowest-cost, highest return marketing efforts.

But don’t take my word for it – for example, listen to Kraft, who publicly revealed at Content Marketing World last year that their content marketing ROI was four times higher than that of their most targeted advertising! Or, check out our own case study that reveals how content marketing is responsible for 95% of our business revenue.

Right now, marketers are creating more content than ever to see return, and inbound marketers are spending more time than ever before creating content. In fact, 93% of inbound marketers are now creating content on a weekly basis. What’s more, more than half of the surveyed marketers say they spend more than six hours a week doing so. That’s a lot of time and commitment!

It’s clear that content is the way of the future for 2017 and beyond and that if you want to succeed in the coming year, you need to invest in it. Read on to learn more about the upward trajectory of content marketing, and how it can boost your business this year.

how to do content marketing in 2017

Will Investing in Content Make Your Brand More Successful this Year?

The simple answer is, YES!

Today, most marketers understand that there’s no way around content. After all, it’s the only reliable way to get around the influence of ad blockers, the best way to connect with audiences, and the longest-lasting way to build relationships that last with customers.

Just because most marketers understand they should be creating content, however, doesn’t mean most marketers have invested adequately in doing it. In fact, many marketers halfway it, pumping out cheap, poorly written content that does little but clog up the search engines, and fails at meeting readers’ needs entirely.

Contently calls this: “the zombification of content marketing.”

zombification

Sound terrifying? It is, and it’s a growing epidemic.

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Fortunately, there’s a whole host of things you can do to combat it.

When you pour your best into your content marketing – in creating engaging, valuable, authentic content, that you’re tremendously proud of – you break the growing zombie mold of typical content, and your brand will stand out online.

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5 Content Marketing Pillars to Focus on Right Now

Before we talk about which types of content you should be investing in, let’s talk about which content traits you’ll need to focus on to be successful in 2017. Here are the top five.

1. Storytelling

Scheherazade from Arabian Nights!

Scheherazade from Arabian Nights, featured in a post we wrote late 2015.

We’ve touted the importance of storytelling before, and we’re not planning on stopping anytime soon. There are a few great things about storytelling in content marketing. Namely, storytelling works with all types of content – ranging from video to written material, which makes it the ideal foundation strategy for your various content pursuits. What’s more, it appeals to readers on a universal level.

Think about it for a moment: Didn’t you love hearing stories as a kid? Don’t you still love commercials that make you laugh, riveting travel tales that make you gasp, or a great novel that sucks you in and won’t let you go? Of course, you do, and it’s all because these things are stories!

The appeal of storytelling is broad and universal. Include it in your content marketing and you’ll immediately see your audience transform from “ho-hum,” to engaged, compelled, and genuinely interested.

2. User-Focused Content

Nobody likes a narcissistic company that just tells everyone how awesome they are all the time. In fact, this is a recipe for failure! Instead, a critical foundation of modern content is that it be user-focused. The more you can involve your customers in your online content, tailor it toward their experiences, and ensure it reflects their voices, concerns, and passions, the more successful they’ll be.

In fact, if you look around at modern content, you’ll find that many of the most successful companies out there barely enter their digital content. Sure, they’re in there as supporting cast members, but the target audience is the star – always the star.

This is as it should be, and it’s a wise thing to consider as you think about how to invest in content for a more profitable 2017.

3. Mobile-Friendly Content

No matter what you choose to invest in, make it mobile friendly. On the same level of importance as story-dense, user-focused material, mobile-friendly content is everything right now, and you can’t expect your brand to make much progress online if you’re not catering to your share of the more than 50% of Google search queries that come from mobile platforms.

4. Strategic Content

All the content you create should be strategic and intentional. While it’s one thing to put out short-form content or funny, original videos, everything you do should be supporting a larger content or marketing goal. If it’s not, you’re wasting your marketing budget and your team’s time.

5. Helpful, Relevant Content

Regardless of whether it’s a video, blog post, meme, or infographic, your top priority in all of your content creation efforts should be to make everything you create relevant, helpful, and quality. Without these three pillars, your content will fall short, and you won’t enjoy the massive ROI content is so capable of producing.

What Kind of Content Should You Invest in?

If you want to succeed in content marketing, you need to invest in the RIGHT content. Otherwise, you could risk adding to the fluff that’s already clogging up the content sea. Here are the top 5 types of content to focus on in 2017 and beyond:

1. Expert Content

Expert content is no secret. Google demanded it in its 2015 Search Quality Evaluator guidelines, and influencers in virtually all industries have touted its importance since then. In addition to helping you rank better (Google may punish sites that feature poorly written content, or content that doesn’t possess the level of expertise the subject requires), expert content is the only real way to build your business.

By positioning you as an authority in your industry, giving you a platform to showcase your knowledge, and helping you gain more qualified leads, expert content can go a long way toward overhauling your entire online presence and making your content investments more lucrative in the coming year.

Still not sure what expert content means? It means content written by expert copywriters, like the ones we have on staff here at Express Writers. Readers can tell when a page is written by a subject-matter expert, and when it’s written by a novice. And, believe us – they’d rather read the former.

2. Live Streaming

 Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely noticed how much traction live-streaming content has gained in recent months. From platforms like Periscope to Facebook Live and Meerkat, live streaming is a hot trend in content right now, and when you use it right, it can boost your brand big time.

According to Variety.com, live-streaming overtook television in 2015 as the media delivery choice of preference, and that trend has extended to social platforms and apps in spades. Today, customers expect a company or brand to be available to them 24/7, and any brand that falls short in this will fall out of favor with its clients.

That said, investing in live-stream video can give you a highly approachable way to engage with your audiences and grow your online following. Once more, though, don’t take my word for it: consider platforms from Facebook to Twitter, which have made live-streaming the near-center of their content strategy in recent months.

3. Newsletters

If you think newsletters sound so 2015, think again. Today, newsletters are a critical content platform that can allow marketers to expand their audiences and produce positive ROIs. Companies from Buzzfeed to The Washington Post have used newsletters to dramatically expand their audiences (The Post, for example, increased newsletter subscribers by 145% year-over-year), and promote more sales.

For best results, ensure that your digital newsletters are optimized for all viewing devices and filled with relevant content. You should also include an exciting CTA that links to something relevant within your company or website.

4. Native Advertising

Did you know that more than 200 million people are currently using adblockers? Unless you’re a superhero, there’s virtually no way you’re going to get around all that software, and your chances of having your banner ad clicked are practically shrinking before your eyes. Don’t despair, though! There’s still a way to get into customers’ heads and hearts.

When you use native advertising, which offers helpful information rather than intrusive CTAs that disrupt user experience, you’re more likely to enjoy engagement and interest from your audiences. What’s more, since Native advertising integrates smoothly into various host environments, it’s easier to implement and use – even for small businesses.

Even The New York Times has named native advertising as one of the top tactics that allowed it to survive the explosion of adblocking software!

5. Virtual Reality

Sound a little wild to you? This is 2017, and VR has become a massive part of the tech landscape!

virtual reality

Today, many of the smartest brands on the web are using VR as a unique way to engage clients and differentiate themselves from the competition. While it might not be the one-stop-shop that social media or blogging is, it’s still a helpful tool that can benefit your company and your brand.

What’s more, it’s right in line with what the influential millennial consumer group wants.

According to a study conducted by the Harris Group, 72% of millennials would like to put more money into experiences than physical things. With this in mind, investing in VR content can be a great way to snag these high-value consumers and keep them with your brand.

Check out a few ways to include VR in your marketing strategy on Entrepreneur.

Invest in Content for a Bright 2017

From expert copywriters to virtual reality content, there are dozens of smart investment opportunities facing your brand this year. To start your content game off strong, don’t be afraid to revisit your content budget and invest more in these cutting-edge technologies and content types.

Not only will your ROI increase, but your readership and sales will, as well.

Looking for the right copywriters to make your digital content shine this year? Visit our Content Shop to view our content packages and choose the one that’s right for you!

how content writing works

An Essential Guide: How Content Writing Works

Content writing is currently one of the most essential digital actions.

The need for it, industry regardless, has virtually no limit. Talk of how content writing works, what result it produces, and how to effectively strategize around it, pops up in virtually every niche. Hospitals have site copy needs, mechanics start their own informative blogs, Mexican restaurants publish social media updates, and agencies of all types create a ton of content, from blogs, to landing pages and white papers (not to mention creating all of that x 10 for their own client base).

With all this content flying around, it’s easy to wonder where it comes from and how content writing works as a whole. If you’re new to the world of content writing, the entire thing could easily seem like an impenetrable mystery, populated by highly trained professionals that you cannot access nor understand.

Fortunately, learning how the world of online content writing works is a simple as understanding the mechanisms that make the process move. While it’s true that the world of content writing is complex, it is far from inaccessible.

We’re here today to talk about how content writing works, and which types of content you should get familiar with to build out your online presence. Grab a coffee, and read on!

a guide to content writing

How Content Writing Works: Understanding the Big Picture & How Content Types Support Each Other

The first step in understanding how content writing works is understanding how seriously interrelated content creation, and its elements, really is.

Today, it’s not enough to just have a blog or to just have a website.

Instead, the world of content writing relies on various types of content, ranging from a PR writing to social media, to come together and create one cohesive content strategy. Without any of these different pieces, the entire strategy falls apart, and content writing doesn’t work.

Here’s some of the major types of content, from our infographic last year:

types of online content

While it may seem like a lot of work to focus on creating 7 to 10 different types of content, the reason that each type of content is so essential is simple: each type of content, from white papers to blog posts, appeals to a slightly different segment of a company’s audience.

Plus, you need content that appeals to your audience at all levels – not just at a buyer level.

Not all consumers who arrive on your website are ready to buy something, and if you don’t have content to appeal to each of these groups and the dozens of smaller groups in between, you’re going to lose many of your leads, which will have an adverse impact on your company’s bottom line.

This is exactly why it is so critical to use various types of content in your content strategy and to understand how content writing works, and how each specific type of content relies on many other types of content to function properly. And, not limit yourself to creating only one or two types of content.

The 10 Pillars of Good Content Writing

If you were an excellent blogger, but you didn’t understand how to create any other type of content, you might succeed online for a while. The fact of the matter is that there is a high demand for blogs, people love to read them, and you’d likely see some return on investment.

Over time, however, your content strategy would begin to wear thin because it would be too one-dimensional. To thrive and continue from months and years, a content strategy needs enough pillars to equally disburse its weight. Know how content writing works when you understand the “big picture.” Here are the 10 top components of great modern copywriting:

1. Web Content

Think of content writing like building a house. In this analogy, web content is the foundation. Web content, which includes the text on individual website pages, landing pages, about us pages, contact pages, and more is the foundational content that every company needs to build an online presence.

Without this, readers cannot find the information they’re seeking about your company, and the rest of your content strategy has nothing to build on. As such, web content is the single most critical and essential type of online content writing in the modern world.

2. Blogs

If web content is the foundation, blogging is the framework for the house. Blogging is a primary category of filler content that provides structure and formatting for virtually everything else you do online.

Did you also know that B2C companies that blog 11+ times per month gain more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only four-five times a month? (Source: Hubspot)

Aside from your company’s web page, your blog is the place where consumers can learn the most about you.

Not only does it showcase your brand personality, but it also helps readers get a sense of who you are, what you care about, which topics to cover, and how much value you can provide for them, or not. As such, blogging is a highly essential type of online content writing, and when it’s done correctly, it can dramatically increase your views, your return on investment, and your overall success in the world of digital content creation.

Blogs today are as diverse as they are critical. There is no one-size-fits-all format for a blog. Instead, there are multiple styles of blogs including list blogs, “how to” blogs, “what to avoid” blogs, and more. By mixing and matching these various blog formats, you can create a diverse and highly functional online content strategy.

3. Social Media

Social media is the house’s furnishings and critical tools. You wouldn’t want to cook in the kitchen without a stove or spatula, and you wouldn’t want to develop an online content strategy without social media.

Think of social media as a supporting player: it’s not enough for a company to only have a social media presence, but companies without any social media presence whatsoever typically do not make it very far in today’s social dominated culture. For example, we’ve been able to do very well on Twitter and expand our profile reach to millions of users by starting a Twitter Chat, #ContentWritingChat.

Even small, local businesses use social media as a method to broaden their reach an appeal to leads. And with so many social media platforms to choose from, it’s easier than ever to find a distribution channel that aligns perfectly with your brand’s personality and message.

Today, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, LinkedIn, and Twitter, dominate social media marketing strategies and provide targeted and ongoing value for brands and all industries.

4. Advertising & Sales Copy

Advertising and sales copy are the curb appeal of the home, when it comes to your online copy.

While everything may be cozy and welcoming on the inside, the job of advertising and sales copy, or curb appeal, is to showcase the unique attributes of the “home” to people on the outside.

Plus, advertising and sales copy applies to companies in all industries. A Mexican restaurant, for example, may create a sales-focused a blog post designs to pitch new menu offerings, or a digital services provider may create a series of social media updates around specific products, goods, or services.

Advertising and sales copy takes many forms, from social media to blog posts, and looks quite a bit different than sales copy of yesteryear. Today, advertising and sales copy read like an approachable appeal to friends. They’re not pushy; they are not manipulative, and they’re not misleading.

Honesty and value are the names of the game in today’s online writing environment, and companies that missed this mark will find that they’re advertising and sales copy do not perform as well as they had hoped.

5. Expert Copy

Expert writing is the art collection inside the home. At some point or another, all companies need expert writing. This is higher level writing on the web. Authority figures do this type of writing, and industries need this kind of writer.

Without expert writing, companies place their authority and relevance at risk, and may even be walking out onto thin ice with Google, which has demanded expert writing with standards outlined in their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

While some companies believe they can get by without expert writing, or art, these are companies that ultimately will not succeed. Expert writing is the flair that finishes the structure, and it is critical for any business that wants to be taken seriously by the readers of its content.

6. Journalism & PR Writing

Journalism and PR writing represent the first significant gathering that fills the home with friendly faces. Critical for any company that wants to get the word about its products, goods, or services out across the web, journalism and PR writing serve the essential purpose of notifying people that something exists.

Think about building a new house: if you never invited anybody over, nobody would be able to see the hard work you put into the home. Your artwork, furnishings, paint job and construction would go unnoticed by everybody but you.

What a waste!

This is where journalism and PR writing comes in. Through pieces of content like press releases, for example, companies of all sizes and shapes can “invite people in.” This can serve to enhance a business’s growth and make the business more visible online. Don’t opt for cheap PR syndication, though, if you choose to go the press release route: go to local channels instead to publicize your written PR.

7. Creative Writing

Creative writing is that wacky sculpture you love so much you couldn’t help but buy. It’s unique, specific to you, and it makes you happy every time you look at it.

Creative writing is a genre that encompasses the super creative projects companies do, and it serves to enhance and support virtually every other type of content on this list. Marketing copy, for example, can be creative. Social media, blogs, web content, and even advertisements can be creative, as well. There’s no limit here. From a tweet to a blog, creative writing can be woven in anywhere.

Take this tweet, for example. Our creative SME Krystal came up with the copy on the card, which we took to our Twitter friends as a Christmas card:

In fact, many of the top-performing companies (such as Dollar Shave Club and Poo-Pourri) have made their businesses through infusing creative writing into their online content, and they’ve done it through hiring creative copywriters, much like those outlined in our recent infographic!

8. Q&A Content

Q&A content is the user guide to your home. It’s that drawer where you store all of the instruction manuals for your coffee makers, remote controls, tech gadgets, and more.

Even if you don’t look at it very often, those things are essential, and the minute that you don’t have them is the moment that you’re going to wish, more than anything, they were around.

Question and answer content serves two important purposes. On the one hand, it shows that you are familiar enough with your own business and industry to anticipate user questions and answer them thoroughly. On the other hand, it shows Google and other search engines that your site is authoritative and relevance, and can even help you rank in the highly coveted “snippet box” at the top of Google search results. (Check out our blog on how to rank in Google’s featured snippets.)

While your entire content strategy cannot be made up of questions and answers, it is essential to keep this little drawer of instruction at your disposal.

9. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is like a nest learning thermostat.

It operates in the background of your content and keeps everything together.

When you do search engine optimization right, it shouldn’t be obvious that you’re doing search engine optimization. In other words, standard SEO tactics, like keyword inclusion and back linking, should not be glaringly evident to your readers.

Instead, these things should serve to enhance rather than to tracked from your content. While search engine optimization is important on a technical level, it’s also one of the most critical aspects of online content writing because it helps people find what you’ve written.

One of the big components of search engine optimization, for example, is keywords. Keywords are relevant for the following reason: when people go to Google to find a piece of contents, they enter a string of words. These words are known as keywords, or “keyword phrases.” In the old days of SEO, one of the best ways to get your content found online was to stuff it so full of these keywords that there is no way readers could overlook the relation between your material and what they searched for.

Today, however, search engines and readers are more advanced, and you don’t need to stuff your content as full as a Thanksgiving turkey to get found online. That said, though, keyword still play a major role in online content.

When you include them naturally throughout your material, it makes it easier for Google to “read” your contents and match it up with user queries. This helps ensure that your content will see the light of day, and get the attention it deserves.

10. Testimonials

Testimonials are the various inspections that tell you and other people that your house is safe to live then. For example, if you were looking at buying a home, would you purchase one that had an evaluation that told you that the walls and ceilings were filled with black mold?

If you built a house, and the final once-over by the construction company revealed about the floors and walls were unstable and likely to fall in at any moment, would you feel comfortable being there, or inviting your friends to be there with you? The answer is no.

The same thing goes for your online content. Testimonials are an often-overlooked type of web content that tells other people “Hey, it’s safe in here. Come on over!” Statistics, proof that you’re worth the investment, are an excellent ingredient along with a brief, authentic “this guy is really worth his salt,” is all you need to make a great testimonial happen. Check out one that has consistently sold us, over and over, from our friend and client Matt Janaway:

testimonial

Critical for attracting new customers and maintaining your current clients, testimonials are an essential piece of online content that every business needs.

The Complete Map of Online Content: How Content Writing Works Hand-in-Hand

Still a little confused about how all these types of content work together? We created a map to help you visualize it:

web copy map

How Content Writing Works: A Cumulative Mission

Content doesn’t survive on an island.

Instead, it builds on itself to create a dynamic and diverse strategy. Between blogs, social media, and more, content comes together to create a solid online presence.

If you haven’t already, think of creating a consistent content presence today to boost your entire online presence, profitability as a company, lead growth, and so much more. Consistency, and integrating all the relevant parts, is key! Don’t stop at one, and don’t stop just a month in. We can help. Contact Express Writers for content consultation help today!

New Year CTA

content marketing in 2017

8 Ways to Win at Your Content Marketing in 2017

As 2017 looms just around the bend, it’s easy to predict that content marketing will seriously be on the rise. 

In 2016, we saw big moves in favor of content marketing: growth of the industry as a whole, and national brands opting for content marketing over traditional ads and media.

Content marketing is already more impactful than traditional advertising – it costs 62% less, and generates 3x the amount of leads that traditional ads do.

Influencer marketing was realized when, in 2016, CNN made the move to buy a YouTuber’s entire presence, channel and mobile app (Casey Neistat, who had amassed 6 million organic followers), for a cool $25 million.

Buying influencers and exclusivity to their engaged audiences will be happening more in the New Year, as predicted by top expert Sam Hurley in our expert predictions roundup.

If you’re a serious content marketer, you can bet that your skills, audience, and presence will grow in value in 2017 – you might even be approached for a major buyout! So, with content marketing growing as a mainstream form of brand marketing more than ever, how can you go into 2017 putting your best content foot forward?

Fortunately, we’ve got your complete road map right here. Read on to learn best content marketing tactics for the New Year (and beyond)!

winning at 2017 content marketing

8 Proven Ways to Win at Content Marketing in 2017 & Beyond

Whether you’re looking to enhance your content, earn more visibility and serious ROI in the New Year, or focus on attempting to rectify a less-than-perfect user experience, these eight tips can make your content more successful in the coming year.

1. Combine your written content with compelling visuals

Sure, adding a photo to your blog post makes it pretty, but it also does so much more if you take that visual and go the extra mile. Recently, at Express Writers, we’ve started asking our lead designer to come up with handmade Adobe Illustrator designs for all our featured blogs (like this one). The difference? More social shares, mentions of, and traction on all of our blogs.

Here are a few quick stats about the benefits of adding visual content to your written pieces:

  • Adding colored visuals to a post makes people 80% more willing to read it
  • People remember 65% of what they see and only 10% of what they hear
  • For 34% of marketers, visual content is their most critical asset
  • When content has a relevant image, it earns 94% more views

Remember that today, “content” doesn’t just mean written content. Instead, it’s a broad term that also takes into account visual, audio, and video material that can enhance and improve the written content you publish.

With this in mind, find creative ways to start adding visual content to your written content. For example, publish an information-dense infographic in place of your standard weekly blog post or add a tutorial video to your next how-to post. Use video content to review products, provide customer service, or showcase new offerings, or include a series of in-depth screenshots in your next piece to educate and uplift readers. You can even grab a GIF or two to emphasis a point with a movie scene that everyone relates to.

In addition to enhancing your conversion rates, this creative, engaging, visual approach will also make your content more exciting and valuable to your readers.

2. Target your content more appropriately to specific audiences

Many people mistakenly believe that broader content will perform better online when, in fact, the opposite is true.

The more targeted you can get with your content, the better. You’ll be able to use long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for. And, as a whole, more targeted content appeals to a smaller segment of the audience. While this may seem like a negative thing, it’s a fantastic way to bring in more qualified leads and make more sales.

When your content is directed at a particular set of people, rather than anyone who passes your way, your conversion rates will naturally be higher, and your content will naturally be more successful. What’s more, you won’t face such stiff competition from the “content sea” – the millions of pieces of content available to the public on a daily and weekly basis.

With all of this in mind, develop target personas to specify who you’re writing for, and keep them current enough that they reflect the outlook and problems of your actual audience segments. Update them as needed for maximum accuracy.

3. Make your content powerful enough to retain readers for life

Great, you have readers. Now what? You have to work hard to retain them, with better and better content in their niche interests.

This is a 10x goal of content you should be striving for. Sure, it is a big one – but if this is your goal, you won’t be publishing sub-par content.

Even if you’re publishing compelling and relevant content, it’s not worth much unless it’s inspiring your readers to stay with your brand for life. In 2017, the single best way to win at content marketing is to focus your efforts on user retention.

Here’s a fun fact to inspire you further. In addition to the fact that it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to sell to a new one, loyal customers are worth ten times as much as their first purchase, which means it’s absolutely in your best interest to keep them around!

With this in mind, do the following things to boost your customer retention rates:

  • Post quality content on a regular basis
  • Engage with your readers by responding when they post, share, comment on, or like your content
  • Develop an easy way for your readers to subscribe to your content
  • Showcase old posts and favorite posts in a convenient manner so that readers can access them quickly
  • Offer incentives for your readers, including free content, giveaways, and prizes
  • Use a targeted and specific email marketing campaign to help your readers develop a relationship with your content

4. Encourage your readers to submit content (user-generated content)

What better way to focus on customer retention, engagement, and content creation than by encouraging your users to submit their own content?

User-generated content, or UGC, has a long history of inspiring trust in would-be customers (90% of customers report that their buying decisions are based on online reviews). It can also go a long way to populate your sites with quality content and help new customers engage with your brand.

Also, when you stop and realize that 80% of all online content is user-generated, it only makes sense to encourage your audience to create content.

To create user-generated content for your company, encourage audience members to submit photos, videos, or updates about how they use your products, goods, and services. Alternately, ask for their feedback on your top social platforms and encourage readers to share your posts and videos.

Burberry, founded in 1856, increased their e-commerce revenue a whopping 50% year-over-year when they launched The Art of the Trench website in 2009 (the idea of young CEO Angela Ahrendts, who took over in 2006 and decided to re-engage the older brand with online audiences). The success behind the site? UGC. Users could upload to and/or comment, on the site, on pictures of people wearing Burberry products.

burberry

Take some inspiration from Burberry and think of your own brand-centric hashtag or profile (or go all the way and do a site!) that is dedicated towards encouraging your fans to engage – upload, comment, bring their own content. All these things will go a long way toward improving your overall content strategy.

5. Use social media to promote your content, creatively

Content is only worthwhile when people can find and interact with it. That said, it’s essential to promote your content. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be indispensable for this, but you’ll also need to take addition steps like guest posting and encouraging users to share your content for you.

But, since today’s social platforms are so saturated with other brand’s presences, you want to stand out. Think of starting a Twitter Chat, or posting creative, unique social posts that aren’t found anywhere else. Here’s an example of how to do that: have your team members, people that work in your company, give you a list of customer questions that you can create social media posts around. Custom graphics, unique blurbs fitted to each platform type (hashtags for Instagram, short sentences for Twitter), can all work to attract your fans and promote your brand organically via social media.

These simple steps can go a long way toward spreading the news about your content around the web and ensuring that it is seen by all the people it deserves to reach.

You might also want to invest in paid discovery platforms, like Stumble Upon and Facebook or Instagram Ads to promote your content even further.

6. Place a renewed focus on email marketing

In the last 12 months alone, BuzzFeed has added more than 1 million subscribers to their email list. What does this say about the claims that email marketing is dead and defunct? It dispels them, of course.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B marketers rank email as their top channel for distributing content and ensuring overall marketing success.

email marketing study

Source: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/09/content-marketing-research-b2b/

With this in mind, focus on developing targeted and valuable email campaigns in 2017. Not only will it benefit your readers – but it will also give you the metrics and insights you need to develop a more successful content presence in the coming year.

To ensure that your email marketing remains successful, follow these quick tips:

  • Write compelling subject lines that make your readers want to click
  • Address the reader directly with the personal “you”
  • Keep it short, snappy, and valuable
  • Make your links clickable and your CTAs obvious
  • Segment your lists for a more personal experience.
  • Test your campaigns for optimum performance
  • Split test your emails for maximum ROI

7. Print isn’t dead; utilize it for a stronger presence

While it may seem like print content is at risk of dying in the digital age, many publishers have turned to print content to enhance and improve their reader’s experiences. How cool is that?! Print is coming back, in an age of a saturated digital market.

Airbnb, for example, recently released an exclusive Airbnb mag. Other brands are following suit.

While you don’t need to go all in and develop a personal magazine of your own, it is a very good idea to find a way to incorporate print content into your daily publications, be it in the form of brochures or flyers for our local business. We’ve been successful creating custom flyers for events we’ve attended.

8. Hire expert writers to develop your content

Nothing will ever replace expert content, and it’s more important in 2017 than it’s ever been before.

To get the most from your content marketing, hire an expert, authoritative writer that knows your niche to craft copy that empowers your brand online.

In addition to turning out higher-quality content, you’ll also relieve some of the content burdens you and your brand likely feel. It’s a smart business move and an effective way to get quality content that will last you a lifetime.

Here’s to Your Best Content Marketing in 2017

If your goal is to dominate content in 2017, our eight tips will help.

From boosting your SEO to keeping your readers at the center of the content experience, there are dozens of things you can do to enhance your written content and make it more successful across the board.

Here’s to ultimate content success in the New Year!

New Year CTA express writers

entrepreneur and content marketing

Why Content Marketing is an Entrepreneur’s Best Friend

Today, we’re living in a time when entrepreneurs are everywhere, and it’s exciting. As we head into 2017, the rise of entrepreneurs is seriously growing.

While starting a business used to be something reserved for those with extensive training or excess family money, just laying around and waiting to be spent, entrepreneurship has become something that everyone can access.

As a result, companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Dollar Shave Club, StitchFix and – hey – Express Writers! – has popped up as a result.

Today, however, people who are trying to get startups off the ground are struggling to figure out where to best invest their efforts, and which type of work will pay off most seriously down the road. Fortunately, the answer is straightforward: content marketing.

Those doing the “side hustle” will SERIOUSLY benefit from a blog and a web presence (and social media), aka, content marketing. Think about it for a moment: content marketing is low-cost compared to traditional advertising, it’s meant for the social media age, it performs well with customers who want to develop honest and long-lasting relationships with the companies they frequent, and some of it can even be done yourself, within reason.

Today, we’re here to talk about why content marketing is an entrepreneur’s best bet in terms of marketing, and how it can help new businesses grow from the ground up. Read on!

content marketing for the entrepreneur

Content: The Entrepreneur’s Lifeboat

Content is the one thing that will work when virtually nothing else does for the entrepreneur. Think about it: most forms of traditional marketing are expensive and time-consuming. While large enterprises might have the budget and the in-house staff to accommodate that, entrepreneurs seldom do, and content marketing can be much more accessible.

Although content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising, it generates triple the leads, which makes it an astoundingly perfect option for marketers who want to spread the word about their startups online. What’s more, since breaking into content marketing doesn’t require a huge staff, it’s easy to DIY some of it on your own, saving yourself money and learning something new in the process.

By developing an online presence, entrepreneurs can build their brand story, connect with their customers, and set themselves apart from their competitors. A social media presence can also serve to expand your reach and make it easier for you to connect with your followers – both online and in person.

7 Ways Content Marketing is Perfect Marketing for the Entrepreneur

Regardless of whether your startup sells tangible goods or services, here are seven incredibly strong benefits content marketing has to offer for entrepreneurs.

1. Content Marketing is Amazingly Cost Effective

Entrepreneurs rarely have a ton of money to start out with–unless they walked into inheritances like the Rich Kids of Beverly Hills did. 😛

But truly: self-startups don’t usually have an unlimited reservoir of funds. It’s usually the opposite. Funds are low, time is tight, resources slim. I began Express Writers with $75–trust me! I know what it’s like to start with nothing.

Enter content marketing as an effective way at building a brand and starting out when you’re doing the side hustle, trying to build your dream biz while you work on leaving your 9-5 that pays the bills.

Check this out. From one blog post (roughly a $50 investment, between resources and my time), I gained $5000 back – a 100x return on investment. A warm lead walked in from my blog, and converted on our content services at that amount. Proof that content marketing can be a strong endeavor for startups and those trying to brand themselves with limited finances.

life cycle of content

To repeat the cycle that I created, you want to focus on these three things:

  • Building your presence online (your website, starting a blog). Getting off the ground is key here!
  • Consistency. Build up that presence, don’t just start it. Blogging at least 2x/week, minimum, and pairing up social media to your content presence, is a good consistency to start with. (We blog up to 5x/week for maximum outreach and SEO results.)
  • Guest blog. Outreach and start putting together a list of key sites you’d like to blog on. Presence there is a tremendous key to the ROI of your content marketing. (My 100x ROI featured in the graphic above came from my column on SiteProNews.)

2. Content marketing helps you develop your unique brand voice

Today, the startups that make it big are the ones who know how to talk to their audiences like nobody else does – in their content, bleeding all the way through social media posts, pulsing through video marketing, shining through blog posts. The voice you establish in your content marketing is key to helping you stand out online.

Take, for example, Dollar Shave Club. Witty, a little edgy, and funny through and through, this is a startup that’s achieved billion-dollar valuation because of its content marketing.

dollar shave club

Without content marketing, it’s tough to spread your voice the way Dollar Shave Club has done. In fact, it’s tough to be heard at all. Content is the one central factor that allows marketers to be heard in various places across the web, and it’s the one guaranteed way for small business owners and founders to showcase their unique brand voice to all the critical customers out there who want to listen.

To succeed with content marketing, founders must first have an idea of their overarching brand message and how best to leverage it. This will help people connect with the message and will make it easier for readers and customers to connect with online information. It will also help produce continuity in brand messaging, which will make it easier for a startup to grow in the coming years.

3. Content marketing can welcome people into your world

As a founder, you live a life that people are interested in being a part of. Even if you’ve never met many of your customers personally, they want to know who you are, how you come up with your products, where you work, and who you work with. By giving them these details in the form of content marketing materials or social media updates, you can help develop bonds between your company and its customers, and build ongoing relationships that will serve to uplift both your employees and your clients now and in the future.

To leverage your content marketing to make the most of this, use platforms like Periscope to share live-stream, behind-the-scenes videos or to provide exclusive glimpses into products or launches. Your customer will thank you, and you’ll develop a devoted following.

4. Content marketing can enhance engagement

Every entrepreneur wants a more engaged audience, and content marketing can help. Critical to building ongoing relationships with your audience, engagement is one of the necessary offshoots of content marketing. To boost engagement, post frequent blog posts on topics relevant to your audience and engage with your social accounts regularly. In addition to increasing your SEO (more on this in a second) and building your online presence, this will also render you better prepared to reach your customers in the ways they want to be reached. Finally, you’ll succeed in creating organic attention and publicity for your products, goods, or services by simply pushing out valuable content to your readers.

5. Use content marketing to bounce ideas off your readers

Ever wish you could poll your readers and ask what they think about something? Now you can! Social media is a fantastic place to poll your readers. When it’s done correctly, this approach can help you develop a solid strategy for your products, goods, and services, and enjoy an ongoing connection with the people who help you stay in business.

To use social media to boost your engagement, use Facebook or Twitter to ask your readers’ questions regarding the type of content they prefer and where they want to interact with it. Start a group, or a Twitter chat! Social activity, especially leading a group or new hashtag cause, can go a long way toward enhancing your content strategy and even help you become a more successful business owner.

6. Content marketing is critical for SEO

Part of the battle of being a founder is positioning yourself in a way that allows people to discover you online. Fortunately, content marketing helps with this by providing a fantastic SEO boost. Every time you publish a new post on your blog, for example, you give Google a new page to index. Every time you reach out on social media, you give your audience something to share and engage with, all of which boosts your SEO and helps people find and share your brand.

This is essential for your business and can be one of the major factors that determine whether your brand succeeds or fails in the long run.

7. Content marketing is an excellent way to build trust

Want to build confidence in your customers? Look no further than content marketing. Too many entrepreneurs and small business owners make the mistake of going right in for the kill with a new prospect. This, in turn, makes it difficult for prospects to trust your company because they feel as if they’re always being sold, and people don’t like that. To prevent this from happening and ensure that your brand remains trustworthy and exciting for your customers, turn your attention to content marketing.

In addition to branding you as a customer-focused brand that cares more about providing value than you do about making sales, content marketing can also help give your readers a reason to trust you. When you provide valuable, educational, informative content for free before you try to “sell” your readers anything, you succeed in creating a dynamic and symbiotic relationship in which your customers want you around as much as you need them around.

Content Marketing: The Marketing of Choice for Entrepreneurs

For entrepreneurs, content marketing is the way of the future. Designed to help new marketers enjoy the marketing ROI not typically associated with traditional advertising, content marketing is an effective way to build attention online, gain new readers, and develop trust with customers. What’s more, it’s also a great way for you as a founder to build your voice and uncover your unique brand identity – both of which are central to successful startups everywhere!

With this in mind, develop your content marketing focus by doing simple things like establishing a blog, developing a social media presence, and becoming active in various online communities. In addition to engaging your current readers, you’ll gain new ones in the process.

Looking for a team of writers with small-business experience to help you get your new venture off the ground? Contact Express Writers about your needs! We LOVE writing great copy for startups and entrepreneurs. 

2016 content marketing

A Year of Content Marketing in Review (2016): The Hottest Types of Content & 5 Key Takeaways

2016 has been quite a year, and we aren’t just talking about the world of politics or sports. When the new year began, it would have been hard to believe that the Chicago Cubs would (finally!) win the World Series, “challenges” would be so popular (how many flips will it take to upright that water bottle? And can you do it while posing like a mannequin?), and adults would be THAT wrapped up in Pokémon Go.

Over here at my agency, we started the year with some tips on how to run a successful blog, and through the last twelve months we have continued to deliver on a ton of content for our audience. From publishing my book, to launching my podcast, publishing our intense #howtowriteseries, and launching our weekly #ContentWritingChat back in January, all the way to email marketing and event attendance, infographics, and much more, content marketing continues to prove our #1 form of marketing here at Express Writers. 2016 proved to be our biggest year for that.

But what we did this year in content marketing is for our Content Creation Report, coming up on Thursday. For today, we’re taking a retrospective look back at the industry of content marketing as a whole and what 2016 looked like.

Content marketing has had its own interesting turns in 2016, and we’re here to break it down. Grab a cup of something warm and join me, will you?

2016 content marketing in review

Best in Content Marketing Circa 2016: 7 Key Factors of Good Content this Year

There was much to talk about this year by way of good content, viral content, shared content, and engaging content. Whether it was liked, retweeted, pinned, or snapped, quality material was not in short supply.

What became clear is that readers have a desire to interact with what they’re taking in, that influential content marketing leaders still know where it’s at, and fake news is not going to rule the landscape.

Here are some highlights of what went down:

1. The rise of interactive content

(Forbes): As companies have moved away from “plain vanilla content”, they have moved toward content that is appealing to the audience by way of interactive material. This may take the form of quizzes, polls, and a variety of two-way content.

2. Influential leaders

(Marketing Profs): From Sujan Patel to Jeff Bullas, influential content marketers showed us what worked and what didn’t.

3. Viral content

(Buzz Sumo): Anytime a video, blog, or social media post goes crazy, we call it viral. From open letters directed at Trump supporters to sexy bald men, viral content was a highlight of the year. No surprise here, since we live in a time of instant shares, Facebook trolling, and retweets that number in the millions.

4. Long and complex blogs

(Track Maven): When companies blog for business, they are producing more content but with less impact. Per brand, the number of posts have increased while the social shares have gone down. The length of blog posts grew from an average of 639 words per post in 2015 to just over 700 in 2016.

3. Consistent delivery

(Content Marketing Institute): Of the top content marketing performers, 85% deliver content consistently. This does not always translate to daily or even weekly content, but rather impactful and relevant content on a consistent basis, including repurposed material.

4. Fake news and Facebook

(The Guardian): Mark Zuckerberg may have started the year with a message of hope, but no one could have predicted what the next 12 months would hold for the social media giant. Photo censorship and fake news seemed to loom even as the site’s users inched toward a total of 2 billion worldwide.

5. Infographics

(Buzz Sumo): Not everyone is a fan, but infographics are widely shared, even if they fail to gain very many links. Back in 2012, Jeff Bullas gave us 9 awesome reasons to use them, and by the end of 2016, 58% of marketers are still on board with the picture-and-data mashups.

Infographics actually made up one of our top-shared content types for the year (3/10 of our top-shared content pieces for the year were infographics)!

Did Content Marketing in 2016 Surprise You?

If any of these come as a surprise, it might help to go waaay back to the end of 2015, when predictions were being tossed around about the future of content marketing. Can’t remember that long ago?

Here are some predictions given in late 2015 from influencers, about 2016, to refresh your memory:

  • (CMI) Native advertising would help big companies find their footing, while others would be decimated and may never fully recover.
  • (Mashable) Static content would start to be replaced by more interactive experiences.
  • (Neil Patel via Forbes) Personal authority will be important to the audience.
  • (Jordan Teicher via Contently) The smartest brands would publish less and put more emphasis on larger editorial projects.
  • (Jeff Deutsch via EW) Content marketers would be challenged to cut through the “noise” of too much content.

Some of these predictions were spot-on, while others may have been good guesses but didn’t quite hit the content marketing nail on the head. Our predictions post last year had some pretty accurate statements made.

5 Takeaway Lessons from Content Marketing in 2016

Either way, there are some takeaway lessons we can learn as we move forward to 2017.

1. You Wouldn’t Use a Dial-Up Phone—Don’t Use Boring Content

You may or may not remember the days of writing letters, reading the newspaper as a sole source of information, and dialing the phone (at home) when you wanted to call someone. Some might say that those were the days, and they might be right.

But just like it would not be conducive to start using a rotary phone, content marketers can’t afford to ignore the right now. Staying stuck in the past, where content creation went steady with keyword stuffing and boring information, won’t work going forward.

Consistent delivery may not mean you throw something out every day or even every week; what it does mean is that when it is delivered, it gives your readers an interactive, enjoyable experience that they can use.

2. A Social Audience with No Time to Waste

We live in a complex world, one in which we crave information but run the risk of getting bogged down by it. We may want more authentic relationships, but more and more of us connect via our phones rather than a face-to-face setting. At the same time, we tire of insignificant information from invalid sources.

3. Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere

The mediums may change, but since the early days of MySpace in 2003 to the billions of social media users across many channels today, our clicks are proof that this is how we connect and engage. It may not be too long before the number of active social media users equals the amount of total internet users.

4. Americans May be Headed Towards Information Overload

According to Pew Research, the percentage right now is relatively small—only 20% of Americans feel overloaded by the constant onslaught of information—and that number changes based on the number of access pathways individuals have at their disposal.

5. Readers Want Authoritative Content, Not Fluff

Fake news won’t cut it. Breaking news is shared, but content marketers need to have an understanding of the credibility behind it. As BuzzSumo points out, it helps to create an original take on a story and create tips or how to posts that the audience can understand and relate to their own situation.

3 Most Shared Pieces of Content Marketing in 2016

Across the content marketing world, there are countless blog posts, e-books, and statistics that provide us with the valuable information we need from the experts we trust. Part of the greatness of this industry is the abundance of guidance and wisdom we can glean from those who know it best.

Of all the advice and how-to’s that dominate the content marketing industry, three stand out as the most shared pieces of 2016. Here they are, thanks to BuzzSumo software:

1. Everything the Tech World Says About Marketing is Wrong

(Tech Crunch)

The content from Tech World opens with the line, “The biggest problem in marketing in the tech world today is that too many marketers do not know the first thing about marketing”. If that doesn’t draw you in and make you stay, we don’t know what would.

The catchy title and relevant content fetched thousands of Facebook shares, even as Samuel Scott wrote that digital marketers “have fallen into an echo chamber of meaningless buzzwords”. Scott’s use of colorful graphics and advice for tech marketers was engaging and ended with a nod to marketers being “full of it”.

The comments that follow are worth the read.

2. How Much Do People Trust Your Content?

(Forbes)

Brian Sutter highlighted this opinion piece with truths related to the lack of fact-checking on internet publications, a distrust among readers, and a low credibility among journalists. He continued with some tips on how to build a loyal audience, which every content marketer and online writer can relate to.

Sutter touched on the fact that “most people dislike being sold to” and cited Nielsen research backing this fact. Building a loyal audience takes time, but it can happen with the combination of useful content and authoritative statistics.

3. These Marketers, Content Producers and Entertainers Under 40 Are Shaping the Industry

(AdWeek)

From actor Donald Glover and Content VP of SnapChat Nick Bell to Ivanka Trump and Michael Dublin, founder of Dollar Shave Club, this list was inspiring even as it covered a host of different industries.

The common factor among all of these Young Influentials is their commitment to deliver the best performance and content in their field, whether that’s in the world of social media, digital media, or in the movie industry. Imgur’s director of creative strategy Laurel Hodge says of her role, “I create creative strategies and content that aspires to be next in the most viral content on the internet”.

Content marketers would be wise to do the same.

In Content Marketing, 3 Key Things Stayed the Same

Technology will change, as will the ways by which we access it. But a few things will stand the test of time, no matter the delivery medium. In the midst of an ever-evolving world, the audience has to remain the priority—after all, without them, why write? As creative thinkers and collaborators, we can continue to:

1. Develop relevant content

If what you write is not important to the audience, they won’t stay. It is worth the time and investment to get to know your readers, their behaviors, and the patterns they follow. Watch how they engage on social media and in comment forums and what they share of your content.

2. Draw readers in and make them stay

A catchy title is a great start, but it isn’t quite enough to engage readers for a long period of time. It is a waste of time to weigh your audience down with long and boring pieces of information that are published just for the sake of a full website, blog, or social media feed.

3. Back up all content with authority

In an age of fake news, moving forward with authority and credible sources is even more important in content creation. As Brian Sutter reminds us (How Much Do People Trust Your Content?), it also pays to include both sides of an argument or perspective. This, he points out, demonstrates your expertise as a writer and adds depth of understanding for the audience.

A Year of Firsts is Coming to a Close. What Now?

Now that the year is ending and we can look back in reflection, how do we move forward with the right information?

First, continue to look to those experts in the field who continue to deliver quality content to writers.

Second, always be developing ourselves so that we can write better, communicate more effectively, and make meaningful connections.

Lastly, keep an eye on the past and the good it held while looking forward with the lessons we have learned.

Remember, not every mistake is detrimental. (As I learned this March!) Consider these words from author Neil Gaiman:

I hope that in this year, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

express writers cta

how to use slideshare

How to Use SlideShare to Amplify Your Content Results & Reach

SlideShare is one of the most powerful tools in the visual content marketing space.

Whether you’re re-purposing content or simply working to expand your presence, SlideShare is a fantastic platform to develop a presence. As it stands right now, the platform has more than 70 million users. 17% of B2B marketers use SlideShare to launch new products, and a whopping 41% of marketers (in North America) use it to share and disperse content.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are more than 400,000 SlideShare presentations uploaded monthly, and a massive 80% of SlideShare’s traffic comes directly from searches.

These numbers outline just how popular SlideShare is, and how essential it can be to your content marketing.

Today, we’re here to walk you through SlideShare: what it is, how it works, why it matters, and how you can apply it to your marketing. Read on.

using slideshare

Part 1 of How to Use SlideShare for Better Content Reach: Optimizing Your SlideShare Decks

Not all marketers have used SlideShare as a platform of choice, so now is the ideal time to incorporate it into your digital marketing, and doing so can boost your ROI substantially. I’m dividing this how-to into two parts: first, how to optimize and prepare great decks, and secondly, bonus tips that include how to promote your SlideShares.

Enjoy!

1. That first slide needs to be irresistible

Never underestimate the power of your very first slide. It’s the cover for your presentation and it’s going to appear pretty much everywhere as the thumbnail of your social shares or in the SlideShare search if you’re lucky enough to be featured on the site’s homepage.

slideshare home page

Since this is so important, be sure to take time designing that opening slide. Spend time finding the perfect image that will capture your audience’s attention and get them clicking through. There are plenty of free tools on the web that will help you create amazing visuals. Remember to check how your image looks at various sizes so that it looks incredible no matter where it’s shared.

Two particular tools that make this entire process a cinch are Canva and Haiku Deck. Haiku Deck can help you put together stunning decks, even on your tablet while you’re on the go. Canva has a free Presentations section and the designs are attractive. You’re also able to upload your own images to use as backgrounds.

There are also several industry-related charts you can use for your SlideShare presentations – remember, readers are always attracted by visual stats and numbers. Examples include:

  • Hubspot – the site regularly publishes visual stats they have curated.
  • SiteGeek – the site shares loads of real-time visual states that you can check out on the homepage and in each hosting listing.
  • MarketingSherpa – another site that publishes tons of industry reports.
  • BuzzSumo – their blog often has fantastic industry insights and findings.

2. Always write SEO-friendly descriptions for your slides

Don’t glaze over SlideShare’s description fields. It’s here that you can include the text you want the search engines to see.

slideshare

What you say in these fields and how you say it can massively improve your SlideSlade natural rankings. When a reader does a search on SlideShare, these search terms come up in bold in the results, and that draws more attention to them. More attention equals more clicks.

When you’re writing your descriptions, use tools like SEOchat that will give you an idea of the keyword and phrase combinations that will have maximum effect.

A great tip is to remember that the name of the file that you upload to SlideShare actually becomes the URL slug. So when it comes to naming that file, choose something that is going to be SEO-friendly. This will give your presentation a much better chance of ranking in SERPs and that, as we well know, drives more reliable traffic to that presentation you’ve shed blood, sweat and tears over.

3. Use Video and Links

If you are serious about using SlideShare as a content marketing tool to gain greater reach, then you best be linking to resources, tools and articles that you mention in your presentations.

video in slideshare

Links usually only work from around slide four onwards. To make your links clickable, add your hyperlink in Keynote or PowerPoint. If you’ve created a slide background that is an image, you can go ahead and link the entire slide to an external website.

Tip: if you decide to embed infographics or one-page documents, there is no way of creating clickable links, but these uploads still work well for exposure.

If you start out writing an online article and you realize that a slide from one of your decks could seriously reinforce your point, why not link directly to the slide within the article? All you have to do is put “/” along with the number of the chosen slight right after your SlideShare page URL. It’s that easy!

For instance, deep linking to one of your deck slides is a fantastic way to introduce your audience to even more of your highly relevant content.

Video also integrates well with SlideShare. You can place a video on the right inside the slide!

Use videos to share more in-depth information with your audience, show them how something works or even for a little comic relief. Video gives you the opportunity to introduce a variety of opportunities. So it’s really up to you how and where you use them if they fit in with your project.

If you want to include a YouTube video with your Slideshare presentation, it only takes 3 steps:

  1. Click on the My Uploads section and then click Edit > Settings > and then Edit YouTube Video
  2. Paste or type the URL of the YouTube video into the box
  3. Select your desired position and finally click Insert and Publish

If you’re going to be inserting videos into your presentations, make sure you familiarize yourself with the FAQs for further information. SlideShare does not allow you to upload any TV shows, copyrighted videos, music albums, movies or videos that are of a personal nature. So you cannot indulge in personal vlogging here. Your best bet is to upload instructional or presentation videos.

4. Updating Existing SlideShare Decks

If you want to improve or update a presentation, such as going back to include clickable links, you are able to edit your file and re-upload it to SlideShare without having to change the existing URL. So there’s no chance of outdated links or embed code errors.

how-to-upload-powerpoints-to-slideshare-7-728

Once you have fixed up and re-uploaded the file, it could take a little time for that new file to go live. But in my experience, it only really takes a couple of seconds before your improved version is up and running.

5. Make Use of SlideShare Analytics

If you’re using SlideShare to gain great content results and improve your reach, you’re going to need some sort of report back. SlideShare has a rather robust analytics feature that lets you track daily progress of your content.

slideshare Analytics-Summary

Head over to your dashboard and choose to see the stats for separate uploads by clicking on the Uploads drop-down menu.

You are also able to check out outbound clicks from your presentations, such as which slide the clicks originated from and even where the link points. This data is absolutely priceless since it helps you design even more clickable content.

You are even able to view recently engaged users so you can connect with those users and follow them. They may return the favor!

If you manage several SlideShare accounts, for instance a personal one and a few business ones, consider using tools such as Cyfe to monitor the progress of multiple accounts all in one dashboard.

Part 2 of How to Use SlideShare to Maximize Your Content: Headers, SubHeaders and Promoting

1. Cross-promote attention grabbing headlines

If you’ve written an attention-grabbing headline for a blog post, why not use it as the title for your SlideShare presentation, too? All you have to do is copy it straight across.

2. Use transition slides!

The main sections of your post actually translate into the main sections of your presentation. That means you can use your subheadings as transition slides. That is, slides that you use to signal the beginning of a new section.

3. Promote, promote, promote – and with good content, you might get lucky

While SlideShare’s organic traffic is certainly impressive, if you want to get the most out of the presentations you create, you’re going to have to drive visitors via conventional. This awesome guide on Smart Blogger can help!

Sometimes, I’ve been able to get featured in SlideShare’s home page simply because of the quality of my SlideShare content.

One infographic we put out in July of 2015 picked up a lot of shares that month (see it: How To Make Sure Your Brand Is Publishing High Quality Content (Infographic)).

That month, we syndicated it to SlideShare (uploaded as PDF), where it reached “most popular” for the day there. SlideShare featured it for 1-2 hours on the home page. This infographic was one of our most actionable ones, written with great tips for all business owners, a major key to why it was one of our best-performing ones and the reason SlideShare picked it up.

That’s the cool factor – if your content is great in and of itself, SlideShare might just feature you on the home page without any action needed on your part!

Conclusion: Know How to Use SlideShare & Win With Your Content Reach!

SlideShare is a wonderful blogging and content marketing platform. It makes it incredibly easy to curate content, showcase your talents and brand yourself or your organization.

If you’re not using SlideShare, you’re missing out on a platform that boasts over 70 million visitors a month, doesn’t cost a dime and allows you to enjoy direct traffic back to your content.

Are you already using SlideShare to distribute content? Do you have any tips to share for improving SlideShare content marketing? Let us know below.

06

Take the Cyber Monday E-Commerce Website Content Readiness Test

Cyber Monday is the one of the biggest sales days of the year for most e-tailers.

On Monday, November 28, e-commerce is expected to generate billions in sales in the US alone.

Is your online business ready to compete?

cyber monday website

3 Simple Tests You Can Do to Help Your E-Comm Site Prepare for Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday infographic

1. Check Your Product Descriptions: Are They Unique?

Unique product descriptions are essential to your success. If your site includes manufacturer descriptions, Google will view those as duplicate content – and you may be punished in Google search rankings.

While it can take time for Google to adjust rankings based on content depending how often it crawls your site, that margin is closing.

What you can do now:

  1. Check Copyscape to determine whether your product descriptions are unique to your website.
  2. Perform a word count: are your descriptions 200 words or more for each product?
  3. Ask a friend for an objective evaluation of your product description copy. Is it helpful to the consumer? Does it contain phrases or keywords people would look up to find your product?

A solid product description will include specifications about the product in a clear way. It should help assist the buyer in making a clear decision.

Here’s a look at a Christmas light product, from Christmas Lights Etc.

Christmas Lights Etc 1

They provide basic details about the product with a link to technical specifications in a lightbox:

Christmas Lights Product Description Detail

Solution: If your product description copy failed these tests, consider an immediate rewrite of your product description copy.

2. Is Your Web Copy Compelling and Competitive?

Effective web copy draws your customers in through inbound marketing practices. The best web copy isn’t just searchable, but informative and relevant to your prospective customers’ interests and queries.

Google loves providing searchers with relevant information. People want a behind-the-curtains look at your business, and they’re looking for a hint about the humans behind the site.

This personal touch is something you can accomplish with warm and informative copy: it’s essential for building trust with your new customers.

3. Does Your Copy Answer Questions?

How do users find your site?

If you’re like most e-commerce sites, it’s likely a combination of:

  • Paid advertising on other sites and social media
  • Word of mouth or recommendations on social media
  • Web browser searches (organic search)

If you’d like to get a glimpse of what sort of questions you should answer, check out Answer The Public. Just select your region, enter your niche or industry, and submit. That crotchety old guy on the front page will reveal what types of questions people ask about your provided keyword. It’s a very powerful content generation tool most effective for useful blog ideas.

ATP

Here’s a look at the results:

Answer The Public Results

With an online presence of any size, you should never underestimate organic search potential. The holiday seasons is a great time to start answering questions in the form of blog posts. If you do this well enough,

Google may even use your answers as a Knowledge Graph source. In the below example, Wikipedia is the source of information.

Knowledge Graph Results

Has your e-commerce site passed our Cyber Monday readiness tests?

If not, there’s still time to invest in the quality of your site’s web copy before Cyber Monday hits!

At Express Writers, we offer a 72-hour turnaround on most services, and we’re here and ready to assist you with great content. Check out in the Content Shop, and use coupon code holidayshop5 for an instant 5% off.

cyber monday cta

holiday content

5 Tips for Creating Irresistibly Tasty Holiday Content for Your Readers

Picture this…

You’re eating some turkey with a side of potatoes and gravy. The smell of thyme and rosemary overwhelm your senses. The fresh cornbread stuffing aroma dances across your nose. The tart and sweet blend of cranberry sauce in the distance…

Salivating?

Now, let’s move to content. Did you know that product descriptions, blog posts and even website content can all be tailored to your target holiday using inspirations from that holiday?

Sights, sounds, smells, and tastes all recharge your existing content and make it holiday-ready. But here’s the million-dollar question…

How do you take something as delicious as Grandma’s turkey and create killer content for your brand that inspires readers to take action during the holidays?

To find out, let’s dive into the gravy boat:

how to write holiday content

5 Tips for Better Holiday Content and Holiday-Driven Conversions

The holidays are prime time for site owners. It’s an opportunity to take the content you have, revamp it, and make it appeal to those shopping for the season. Before you start hyperventilating at the idea of rewriting all the content, eek: keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be super hard if you have some direction.

Here are our five best tips (scroll past the infographic by our amazing designer for the full details):

5 Tips for Creating Tasty Content Infographic for Thanksgiving

1. Add a Taste of Seasons’ Greetings to Your Homepage

We’re not suggesting you go crazy here.

Think of it like decorating your online presence with a Christmas wreath. Adding in a little holiday spirit creates a sense of festivity and shows that you’re all about the season, says GetResponse.

Add some images that represent the holiday, like a pumpkin and some fall leaves. (For Christmas, add in snowflakes, a snowman, and possibly some Christmas lights.)

Look at Sephora. This online beauty retailer created a festive, cute way to display their highlighted products and all they added was a little red ribbon and holiday cheer.

sephora

Simple changes go a long way, folks.

2. Play on the Sayings of the Season

There’s plenty of inspiration when you think about famous sayings of the season.

Take HBO for example. In 2015, they created their 12 Days of HBO Now header for their homepage. It played on the 12 Days of Christmas, had a little festivity, and reminded you of the upcoming season.

12 days

Think about your favorite holiday songs or sayings. TinyPrints shares a list of their favorite Christmas sayings that you can use for inspiration.

Want some humor in your Thanksgiving posts? Then take some quote inspiration shared by Brandon Specktor at Reader’s Digest.

Bottom line, take a phrase, lyric or common saying of the holidays and twist it to benefit your holiday pitch.

3. Create Holiday Specific Content that is Helpful to Viewers

Now is the time to show off your strengths.

Flex your wordsmith muscles and get to work!

You can share your industry insider tips, tricks, and even guides to everything holiday.

Of course, it needs to be relevant to what you’re offering or selling on your website.

For example, you sell beauty products.

For a holiday twist, add in some tips and guide posts into your content marketing plan. Such as offering eyeshadow tips unique to Christmas. Talk about what lipsticks to wear that won’t come off while downing that turkey at Thanksgiving. Compare blush colors to wines that are likely to be served during holiday festivities.

You get where we are going here, right?

Readers love it when you show off your talents.

Even better, use these tips and guides as an opportunity to link into related and recommended products from your site. According to KISSMetrics, people are more likely to purchase your products when they are recommended in holiday-specific content.

Think of content that keeps people coming back. Like Pinterest did with their 30 Days of Pinspiration.

pinspiration

Not only was it branded superbly, but then it continued to get people to come back and check out the next Pinspiration for the holiday season.

4. Don’t Forget the Procrastinators

Let’s face it.

Consumers are notorious for last minute shopping.

While it means they are rushing to find a gift quick, it is an opportunity for you to show off products and ideas that work for those last-minute pickups.

Try to carve out space on your homepage or even in your blog about last-minute gift ideas. Consider offering up downloadable or digital gift cards to your company; something that can easily be purchased the night before it needs to be gifted.

Kiplinger recommends highlighting email-delivered gift cards, software downloads, subscriptions, and monetary gifts for last-minute.

5. Play on Relatable Moments

There are plenty of moments out there that relate to your content and the holiday you’re targeting.

For example, Jessica Gioglio at Convince and Convert highlights how Century 21 played on competitive eater Geoffrey Esper at Thanksgiving with their message:

“Century 21 agents sell homes like competitive eater Geoffrey Esper eats: fast.”

There are plenty of gifs you can add to your holiday content as well; then, share them on social media.

For example, when you and your family try (and fail) to take a group photo for Christmas – or you and your office get together for a recreation of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. classic.

dunder mifflin holidays

Think of pop culture TV shows that the majority of your audience have seen. This will require you to have some knowledge about your target audience — such as their age, gender, career, etc.

However, when you know your target audience well, you can find funny, relatable moments that correlate with TV shows and movies to make your content more appealing (and entertaining to boot).

Holiday Content: Wrap It Up with a Bow

We’ve given you are insight and secrets into how to create holiday-specific content that really speaks to your reader.

Of course, now you must bring it all together.

By now you should feel less overwhelmed and more ready to tackle the holiday task.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you can start revamping your Christmas content and even prepare for those Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers that you need to cultivate for 2017 success.

If you’re not quite ready to tackle the content side of things, we here at Express Writers are more than happy to help you create holiday-ready content!  Whether you want your product descriptions rewritten, blogs inspired by the holidays, or some cute taglines that capture your shoppers, we’re here and ready.

Visit our Content Shop to order your holiday-ready content, written just in time for the season! Use coupon code holidayshop5, good for 5% off any order. Valid till end of December.

content ideas

How To Come Up With Provocative Content Ideas Your Audience Will Love

That dreaded cursor in Word…

It just sits there, blinking at you, demanding that you type something incredible.

But you’ve hit a wall.

The well on content has run bone dry.

Ideas are washed up or outdated. That blinking cursor is mocking you.

We’ve all been there as creators. Of course you want something truly spectacular, eye-catching, and even viral-worthy. Yet, here you are: watching the white screen.

The good news? Crafting quality content doesn’t have to play mind tricks with you.

But it takes some time (and energy) to get it done. Coming up with provocative content ideas is simpler when you have a little guidance. When you monitor the web, take a look at the trends, and listen to your own readers, you might be surprised at how many ideas come up.

Ready to be inspired? Keep reading!

provocative content ideas

Overcoming The Killer of Your Great Content Ideas: 4 Ways to Flood the Idea Gates

Creating engaging content is a skill.

It starts with the right ideas, and the copywriting comes second.

To help jumpstart your content ideas, you need to look at the resources you have available to you — and most are free. Here are a few places to look first:

1. Talk to Your Customers or Clients

The people you already work with may be able to tell you what they’re looking for from you. They are already customers, but they still have questions. According to Brian Sutter’s article on Forbes, asking your current clients what they are struggling with and then answering it within your content is key. Don’t just do a quick answer and never dismiss any question. Instead, take each question and create an entire blog post out of it. Expand upon what was asked, back it up with research, and make it entertaining.

Think about telling your client’s success stories, too! Check out how we talked about our client’s success in a blog post here. Our case study services are actually oriented to position your client’s success story in the best possible way, by not only creating a PDF but a short story blog that resonates with your subscriber list. (Check our out our case study writing and creation here.)

2. Use Tools at Your Disposal

There are plenty of tools out there that can help you grow your blog or website. From keyword research to content ideas. BuzzSumo is one of those tools. BuzzSumo allows you to analyze what content performs best based on the topic or competitor.

buzzsumo

BuzzSumo’s data goes even further by breaking it all down for you by Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest shares. You can customize the results further by the type of content (e.g. interviews, videos, infographics, articles, and guest posts). You can also identify the country, language and filter it by timeframe (such as 24 hours or up to one year).

3. Ask Your Sales and Support Team Members

Your marketing department is there to support your sales staff. According to Brittany Berger from SocialMediaToday, that means your content should be designed to stand in as a virtual sales representative. It should answer customer questions, entice them to try products or services, and educate them all at the same time.

So, ask your sales and support team members what customers are struggling with the most or what people don’t understand and often ask for clarification.

We’ve asked our team members for topic ideas that include the most common questions they get in sales, and have had fantastic results flow in content ideas!

4. Ask Your Readers

If you have a good following already, ask your readers what they would like to see next. Ask them what their favorite posts are or just look at your stats and see which posts have the most shares online, receive comments, etc.

What About Content Ideas for Boring Topics or Industries?

Yes, there are some industries or topics out there that make the world groan.

While they can be rather dull to think about, they do not necessarily have to be boring to read.

ProBlogger featured a guest post that dove into the task of finding topics for boring industries, and they shared some interesting insight.

First, they highly recommend Twitter. That is because social media is a mecca for finding content ideas.

Perform a tweet search on Twitter, searching by hashtags and keywords. While the results are not as refined as Google, they will provide you with some insight.

You could also use Twitter and other social media outlets to find out what’s trending.

Be cautious here, though.

You need to look for a hashtag that is trending that applies to your industry. Adding in hashtags or writing about trending topics that have nothing to do with your brand, industry, product, etc. is dangerous territory. The goal here is to be relevant and strike on hot topics that apply to your site.

Also, tap into the resources of other social media sites. See what’s trending on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and of course, Facebook.

Our full time copywriter, Ashley, wrote a guide on how to craft content for boring industries. Check it out!

Putting All Your Great Content Ideas Together

Once you have a plethora of starting points, take the time to perfect and create your content from it all.

To see if you have a viable idea, take it and write a few headlines. Your headlines are just brainstorming, so they don’t need to be perfect — you can fine-tune your headlines later for EMV value.

If you can come up with several headline ideas, you may be able to incorporate all of them into separate articles — meaning one idea became multiple ideas in a flash!

content planning cta

express writers success story

Success Story: How Express Writers Helped a Digital Marketing Agency in Need & Boosted Their Clients’ Online Results

When Matt Janaway, CEO of England-based digital marketing agency Marketing Labs UK, realized he needed copywriting help, he knew just who to turn to.

Janaway had worked with us before, and had a number of good things to say about the experience. According to him, hiring Express Writers for his copywriting needs was a “no-brainer.”

CustomerSuccessStoryCaseStudy blog

The Story Begins: The Need for a Copywriting Team

MarketingLabs recently experienced an influx of clientele in need of digital marketing services. While an increase in business is never a bad thing, the workload quickly became too much for MarketingLabs’ two in-house copywriters to handle.

Janaway knew that forcing his copywriters to spread themselves thin would result in low quality work and – more importantly – unhappy customers.

And he also knew his company wasn’t ready to take on a third full-time copywriter. Not only would that lead to an increase in overhead, but it would also result in redundancy once client demand died down.

For Janaway, the choice was clear: hire a copywriting agency.

Not Just Any Agency

Janaway knew he had a number of copywriting agencies to choose from, but he ultimately decided to work with our team at Express Writers.

He explains, “The ability to have skilled writers on-tap and ready to jump straight into a project…is a vital part of the growth strategy of our business.”

Like we said earlier, this wasn’t the first time Janaway worked with Express Writers. What drew him back was our team’s ability to quickly turnaround assignments without sacrificing quality, as well as our writers’ in-depth understanding of digital and content marketing.

The Results

Janaway saw his own results, and his clients, grow to successful heights with our copy. Here’s what happened:

  • Marketing Labs’ monthly website traffic doubled from 25,000 to 50,000.
  • A single post on Marketing Labs’ blog gained over 2,000 shares on social media.
  • A client of Marketing Labs saw a 77% increase in revenue year-over-year after Express Writers optimized their product description web copy.

To Our Clients’ Continuing Success

At Express Writers, we don’t aim to just snag a client and make a quick buck.

Our goal is to provide value and forge a connection with our customers that leads to ongoing success for everyone involved in the process. And we make this happen, over and over, with every project we take on.