b2b content marketing trends 2019

6 Major Content Marketing Trends from CMI’s 2019 B2C Content Marketing Research Report

Happy 2019, marketers! 🥂🥳

What better way to start out the year than to check out some major trends for our amazing industry of content marketing?

Good news.

Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs just released their 2019 B2C Content Marketing Report.

2019 cmi research

CMI’s 2019 B2C Content Marketing Report

The #1 major takeaway?

B2C content marketing is hotter than ever.

And more and more brands are getting with the times: realizing that they need a strategic approach in order to succeed.

As the research reveals, the stronger your commitment to content marketing, the better the outlook for your success.

Take a look at some of CMI’s impressive and intriguing findings around content marketing in 2019.

  • 95% of B2Cs are committed to content marketing on some level.
  • 96% of the most successful B2C content marketers say audiences view their company as a trusted resource.
  • Educational content is the #2 content marketing method for B2Cs in nurturing their audience (first is email marketing).
  • The highest area for spending in content marketing in 2019 is content creation (56%).
  • 63% of marketers said their organizations were “very” or “extremely” committed to content. Of the most committed, 40% said their companies were “very” or “extremely” successful. (That’s in comparison with the least committed marketers. Only 8% reported any great success.)

Those are some powerful takeaways, right? With these promising indicators, smart marketers and agencies should definitely increase their focus and commitment to content marketing – IT WORKS.

That’s not all, though. The report is jam-packed with juicy information and insightful statistics. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top trends and takeaways from this important research so you don’t have to comb through the whole thing.

Ready? Dive in and take some notes!

According to the latest B2C survey from @CMIContent and @MarketingProfs, 96% of the most successful content marketers say audiences view their company as a trusted resource. More #b2c #contentmarketing trends in this recap by… Click To Tweet

content marketing trends 2019

6 Top Takeaways and Trends from CMI’s B2C Content Marketing Research Report

These are the key trends that caught our eye:

1. More B2Cs Than Ever Are Committed to Content

According to the report, the majority of B2Cs are committed to content marketing on some level (a whopping 95%).

The majority of B2Cs are committed to content marketing on some level (a whopping 95%). More on #contentmarketing trends via @JuliaEMcCoy's recap of @cmicontent and @marketingprofs 2019 report Click To Tweet

As we already mentioned, 63% of marketers fall on the end of the spectrum: They’re either extremely or very committed.

This should come as no surprise, but it’s still nice to hear. Content marketing is a proven strategy and can earn you or your clients major ROI if it’s done right.

2. Committed B2C Content Marketers Are More Likely to Hit Their Goals

The most committed content marketers are all-stars who reach their goals more often, according to CMI’s survey.

  • 49% of the most committed say they get content marketing buy-in from top leaders in their organization.
  • Another 68% say they have successfully used content to build loyalty with their existing customers.
  • 72% have successfully educated their audience over the last year.

Meanwhile, among the least committed to content marketing:

  • Only 16% get buy-in from top executives.
  • 51% have built loyalty with customers.
  • 53% have successfully educated their audiences.

From the statistics, it’s pretty clear that to reach your content goals, you need to dig in and commit, especially if you want buy-in from the higher-ups!

3. Investment in Content Marketing Is Growing

This next takeaway is in line with #1, above.

As more content marketers and agencies commit to content marketing, more of them see the worth of investing fully in this strategy.

As such, 57% of marketers foresee their content marketing budgets increasing in the immediate future. Of that number, 29% expect to increase their budgets by more than 9%.

This is great news, because the more you commit your time and budget to content, the better chance it will have to pay off.

More than half of #b2c marketers expect their #contentmarketing budget to increase in 2019, says @CMIContent and @MarketingProfs in their 2019 B2C Content Marketing Report. Click To Tweet

4. For Many Companies, Content Creation is #1

Content creation is one of the top investment categories, according to CMI’s report. Of those marketers who increased their budgets within the last year, 56% funneled those dollars toward content creation.

graph showing areas where b2c content marketers increased spending in the last 12 months

Other runner-up categories include paid content distribution, dedicated content marketing staff, technology for content marketing, and outsourcing content marketing.

This trend says a lot about what’s important to most marketers going forward.

It’s the audience.

Content creation investment means higher-quality content. Higher-quality means better writing, more audience research, more targeted topics, and a brand voice that always hits the mark.

And, don’t forget: Ongoing investment in high-quality content equals more consistency at every audience touchpoint. According to research from McKinsey & Company, that’s how you make customers happy across the entire buyer’s journey:

“…positive customer-experience emotions—encompassed in a feeling of trust—were the biggest drivers of satisfaction and loyalty in a majority of industries surveyed.”

In a nutshell, more investment in content creation = more high-quality, consistent content experiences for your audience = higher audience trust = more loyalty = more conversions/sales.

That adds up to a whole lot of awesomeness.

5. The Key for B2Cs in 2019? Loyalty

The next key point from the CMI research directly ties into the increased investment in content creation. More and more marketers (81%) are focusing on building loyalty with their existing audiences through their content.

Meanwhile, only 12% are not concerned with creating content that builds audience loyalty.

As a 2018 survey from Yotpo demonstrates, brand loyalty is a highly desirable outcome from content marketing.

When customers are loyal, they do a bunch of amazing things for you:

  • 60% will recommend you to their friends and family
  • 52.3% will join your loyalty program
  • Nearly 40% will spend more on your products versus opting for cheaper versions elsewhere

graph showing what consumers are willing to do for brands they are loyal to

It’s no wonder smart B2C marketers and agencies are devoted to building their audience loyalty. That loyalty snowballs, building on itself without any pushing or prodding.

More and more marketers (81%) are focusing on building loyalty with their existing audiences through their content, says @CMIContent and @MarketingProfs. This and more #b2c #contentmarketing takeaways in this new post by @JuliaEMcCoy. Click To Tweet

6. The Longer B2Cs Use Content Marketing, the Higher They Fly to Success

Our final takeaway from CMI’s 2019 B2C research report is an interesting stat that shows how far a steady commitment to content can take you.

The longer an organization uses content marketing, the more likely they are to see success. Overall, 31% of B2Cs rate their marketing as mature and finding those positive gains. That’s compared to 27% of “adolescent” stage B2Cs and 26% of those at the “young” stage.

As the graph shows, the further your organization moves down the road toward content marketing maturity, the more likely it will perform better.

These statistics make perfect sense because they reflect common sense – in general, the longer you practice any activity, the better you become.

That means B2Cs and marketers who want to throw in the towel should stop short and ask themselves a huge question:

What is your marketing maturity level? Are you just starting out, or are you experiencing growing pains?

If you can answer “yes” to either, hang in there. Statistics show that your marketing game will improve with age.

Statistics show that your marketing game will improve with age. More on @cmicontent and @marketingprofs 2019 B2B content marketing benchmarks via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Cheers to 2019 with the Industry Headed Towards Better Content Marketing

This research is a gold mine for marketers and agencies who want to level up in content marketing.

As you can see, the trends point to better returns for those who commit themselves to content and stick with it for the long haul. Additionally, those who prioritize their audiences and building audience loyalty are more likely to come out ahead.

Here’s to a great 2019, marketers! 🥳

You should double down on content creation in particular because the quality of this activity will greatly influence audience loyalty. The better you speak to your people, the more you’ll build that community around your brand.

What do you think of these research findings? Is there anything that surprised you, or anything that will influence your own marketing going forward? Let us know in the comments!

Need great content? Register to start ordering custom-written content from our team.

seo content marketing

How to Build Trust & Rankings Through SEO-Focused Content Marketing

If you can get smart with Google, rank organically, and hit page one, your online presence, leads, and traffic will experience a huge boost.

Why?

Because Google is still the #1 driver of all web traffic, hands down.

According to Net Market Share, as of October 2018, Google held 76.14% of the total search engine market share.

search engine market share

Also, search still outpaces social media in traffic.

Currently, search drives 34.8% of all site visits as opposed to social networks, which bring in 25.6% (Search Engine Land).

Not to mention how hot those inbound leads areMarketingSherpa has said that the average conversion rate on organic traffic to leads across industries is 16%.
All of these things are great reasons to rank on Google.

Search still drives 34.8% of all site visits - social media brings in 25.6%. Google still reigns king as the #1 traffic driver on the web. Learn how to build trust through SEO-powered content marketing via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

But, here’s the thing:

Successful marketing is not built on web visits alone.

You must nail the “win their trust” element of SEO content creation to actually get somewhere worthwhile (leads >> sales >> loyal customers).

If you can consistently build valuable content over time – content that meets your reader at their place of need – you’re absolutely going to build winning, valuable marketing.

At Express Writers, we are living proof of how powerful SEO-based content marketing can be. It powers the majority of our six-figure monthly income and is solely responsible for every high-quality client lead that comes our way. I wrote a case study not too long ago on this:

seo blogging case study

Read our SEO blogging case study.

Valuable, SEO-optimized content published on your site can help you build trust with readers, which boosts your rankings, which boosts their trust… ad infinitum.

How do you build trust and rankings through #contentmarketing? @JuliaEMcCoy discusses what high-value content can do for your business. #SEO Click To Tweet

In a nutshell, this is how to get into a circle of content marketing awesomeness. Read on!

seo content marketing

4 Ways to Set Up High-ROI, Profitable SEO Content Marketing

1. Meet Them at the Right Keyword

Rule #1: You’re not looking for traffic to your website. You’re looking for the RIGHT traffic.

The most lead-worthy traffic comes from people who are searching for what you’ve got. Hone in on those keywords they’re searching. And you’ll not only pull them to your site, but you’ll also give them exactly what they need. That’s a HUGE trust-builder.

Sweet-Spot-Keywords-1030x647

Example: A user googles “how to build a dog fence,” finds your blog, reads your expert advice, and finds a CTA for your product. Turns out, they NEED it because you met them at the right keyword with valuable content (cha-ching!).

This is called mapping keywords to the sales cycle (also called the buyer’s journey or sales funnel). For more information on how to do it, check out this guide from Neil Patel: The Keywords to Use for Each Stage of the Funnel.

Rule #1: You’re not looking for traffic to your website. You’re looking for the RIGHT traffic. 🔍 More on setting up #SEO #contentmarketing by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Focus on Owned Media Platforms and Organic SEO Content

Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute recently predicted the rise of the value of owned media. As he says, the content you create and publish on your own platform becomes higher-value the harder it is to earn your audience’s attention:

“…as ‘reaching audiences’ becomes more difficult, fragmented, and filtered, the ability to generate and hold attention from an audience with original content becomes increasingly more valuable to the business.”

Owned media (A.K.A. content marketing based on your brand domain) does a few tasks for you in this dog-eat-dog internet marketing atmosphere:

  • It gives you complete control over your content quality.
  • It builds YOUR credibility and associates your content with YOUR brand name and URL – not some random host site.
  • It gives you a brand platform home base off of which you can build vital backlinks.

Plus, an organic SEO content focus (think: content grown in your own domain soil) also provides value for people at the place where most of them are already searching for that value. Win-win.

3. Check Your Slime-o-Meter

Trust will be huge in 2019. It’s pretty much the core piece of today’s marketing that matters to customers.

That’s because, in general, people’s trust in institutions (government, business, the media, etc.) has fallen, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report.

In particular, in the U.S., trust has declined at the steepest rate ever recorded:

trust barometer by edelman

trust crashing in the usa
Yikes.

In the U.S., trust has declined at the steepest rate ever recorded. What does that mean for marketers? @JuliaEMcCoy shares her insights. #contentmarketing #seo Click To Tweet
The question to ask yourself: “Are we producing trustworthy, non-spammy/scammy/crappy/slimy marketing?”

In other words, how does your content rate on the slime-o-meter? Is it a solid “0” with no promotional language/offers to be found? Or is it creeping dangerously close to a “10,” with thin content that doesn’t bother to hide your pushy, self-aggrandizing sales pitch? (Back away, that one is too slimy to touch.)


Surprisingly, this isn’t the easiest question to answer. Your marketing blinders may prevent you from seeing your content the way your audience does. If this is the case, you need to clear your vision.

This means audience re-evaluation and research. (Read: TALK to them. Swim around in their brain waves. Understand them.)

Once you know them like your best friend, you can more accurately measure your content against that slime-o-meter. When all else fails, abandon any attempts at promotion and just aim for giving your readers the relevant help/entertainment/information they crave.

4. Don’t Ask for More Than Your Audience Is Ready to Give

One aspect of building trust in content is aligning your CTAs with the level of trust you currently hold with readers.

Hint: You don’t want to ask for more than they’re ready to give. That’s a turn-off.

Take a look at this trust pyramid from the Nielsen/Norman Group:

pyramid of trust by nielsen norman group
Each level of the pyramid corresponds to a trust level you must achieve with a user before you can climb up to the next one. To achieve a trust level, you must be able to overcome the user’s doubts about you.

For example, to hop into the baseline level of trust with a user, you need to help them answer these questions:

  • Can your site/content help them accomplish their goals?
  • Is your site/content credible, with dependable information?
  • Does it have their best interests at heart?

users' trust needs
Sometimes marketers try to insert a CTA that doesn’t align with their readers’ current trust level. The CTA is meant to move the audience to level up, so to speak, but it won’t work if you ask too much of them too soon, according to HubSpot.

using ctasMy Marketing Lifecycle also represents this journey.

marketing lifecycle with stages

That’s where SEO content comes in. It gives your readers value that’s relevant to them, which builds their trust to the required level needed for them to complete the CTA.

Are your CTAs asking for more than what readers are ready to give? Time to change that. Learn how in this new blog post by @JuliaEMcCoy. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

Trust-builders in content include:

  • Well-written, user-focused copy
  • Organized, easy-to-understand formatting
  • Supporting research and hard data (case studies, testimonials, statistics, reports, etc.)
  • Useful links and resources
  • Thoughtful, usable, attractive website design

How Do You Know Which CTAs to Use in SEO Content?

It’s not difficult to know which CTAs to use with your SEO content – just look at the keywords in each piece and the type of users they target.

  • Are your main keywords broader in scope, meant to target people who have never interacted with your brand before, or who don’t know the industry?
    • Use CTAs that don’t dig too deep. Offer a valuable freebie or download in exchange for an email address, at most.
  • Or are your main keywords narrower and more focused, targeting people who may know your name and product but haven’t yet purchased?
    • Use CTAs that call for a stronger action and more personal information, like making a purchase or testing a free trial.

From Trust-Building to Search Engine Dominance

To dominate in Google, earning your readers’ trust must be your #1 priority.

From the keywords you use to the platform on which you publish, from the meat of your content to your CTAs, you can and should nurture that trust with SEO content.

First, meet them where they’re looking for value in search. Then, become the authority source that brings value for your readers relentlessly.

As Joe Pulizzi has said, that kind of marketing pays for itself – and that kind of marketing tops Google, too.

Need high-quality content? We can help.

seo content creation for content marketing cta

the marketing lifecycle blog

Goodbye, Sales Funnel & Hello, Marketing Lifecycle: 5 Hot Content Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2019

As we approach the New Year, here’s a big question for you, content marketers:

Which way is the content marketing wind blowing? 🌬️

I have some ideas.

image of a young executive in deep thought, behind him a co-worker holding a lightbulb above his head

In 2019, content marketing will continue to grow, and more and more brands will see its potential through to concrete, measurable successes.

Today and tomorrow’s great, standout marketing is all about building trust with your audience, and consistently giving them creative, nurturing, and strategic content.

And in order to get there, some things have to change. It’s time for some old, anti-trust practices to die — and it’s time to introduce and start more conversations around new, better practices.

One of these new practices I’m introducing today is a big wake-up call to the industry. (Hint: Goodbye sales funnel, hello Marketing Lifecycle.)

Knowing the foundational techniques that will boost your online game overall just became a basic requirement. Learning how to build real, lasting industry trust for your brand? That’s for the successful few. And we’ll be discussing that today. Ready to jump into today’s deep end?

@JuliaEMcCoy predicts that a Marketing Lifecycle will replace a sales funnel. Read all it about here. #ContentMarketingTrends #2019 #MarketingLifecycle Click To Tweet

marketing lifecycle blog

marketing lifecycle ebook

Introducing The Marketing Lifecycle & 4 Other Content Marketing Trends for 2019 That Will Win With a Human Audience

Here are some of the top trends that (I’m hoping) we’ll see proliferate in marketing in 2019, starting with the biggest industry prediction I’ve ever made. Let’s begin.

1. Marketing Funnel Begone: Welcome The Marketing Lifecycle

I’m going to predict that the overly salesy marketing “funnel” (also called a “sales funnel”) will become obsolete in the next 12-24 months. Yes, I said it.

Why? It’s high time a new, pro-consumer lifecycle replaced the cold, ugly sales funnel.

I discussed the sales funnel death and the lifecycle idea with the students in my Content Strategy & Marketing Course recently. My student John said it eloquently: “The sales funnel deserves the guillotine.”

content strategy and marketing course student john pratt

Why is the “sales funnel” so unreliable?

It doesn’t describe the way marketing should work anymore.

John Hall, co-founder of Influence & Co., broaches this idea in his Forbes rundown of 2019 trends:

“Right now, the marketing funnel as we know it accepts just about anyone and everyone, filters them through qualification processes, then spits them out at the end without much of a parting word. Too many companies see customers as gatekeepers to wallets; meanwhile, customers feel ignored at best – and insulted at worst – when the journey ends.”

Have I mentioned that I hate the term “sales funnel?”

We are content marketers. We should never just “grab” the attention of people who aren’t in our audience, for numbers’ sake: and we should never only focus on “dumping people” at the end of a funnel. It’s time to quit looking at our customers as if they are numbers, a metric in our system, a “wallet.” Our customers are so much more than their wallets. They are our friends, the people we want to help the most if we’re truly in business to make a difference. So, let’s take a more nurturing stance that encourages people to stay in our circle: join our community of readers, buyers, and evangelists.

Funnel, begone. It’s time for a new marketing flowchart.

'Our customers are so much more than their wallets. They are our friends, the people we want to help the most if we're truly in business to make a difference. Funnel, begone: it's time for a new marketing flowchart.' - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Let’s Replace “Sales Funnel” with “Marketing Lifecycle”

Before I get into my original concept, the term “marketing lifecycle” itself isn’t new. Ardath Albee, an industry leader in content marketing, talked about a lifecycle on the Marketo blog not too long ago.

In the post, titled “B2B Tech Marketers Make the Shift From Funnels to Lifecycles,” she says: “…Marketers [must] shift their focus from buying journey funnels to full-on customer lifecycle management.”

The design that I’m about to reveal is 100% original and the collaborative effort of myself and my team. My designer and one of our lead copywriters worked on it with me, after I did some initial brain dumps.

Late one Sunday night in October, I brainstormed the first draft of my new lifecycle. Not kidding you: I picked up one of my kid’s markers and a piece of paper, and I drew it out. I’m going to show you my original brainchild in all its pure, messy, Crayola marker glory.

Now, to really show you what The Marketing Lifecycle I’ve designed is all about, study this generic Sales Funnel first. This is the typical model of Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. The concept is quite old: the AIDA concept was first proposed in Bond Salesmanship by William W. Townsend in 1924.

sales funnel aida

Typical sales funnel model

another typical sales funnel

Not very pretty – was it ever?

Here’s what Townsend actually wrote in his book in 1924, which gave us our first usage of this “sales funnel” as associated today with the AIDA model:

“The salesman should visualize his whole problem of developing the sales steps as the forcing by compression of a broad and general concept of facts through a funnel which produces the specific and favorable consideration of one fact. The process is continually from the general to the specific, and the visualizing of the funnel has helped many salesmen to lead a customer from Attention to Interest, and beyond.”

Does that sound like a current marketing method that work today — at all?

“The salesman should…[develop] the sales steps as the forcing by compression of a broad and general concept of facts through a funnel.” Forcing your prospects? Does this really define the “sales” concept we should use in our marketing today? Jamie from 60secondmarketer.com says that the “sales funnel” simply doesn’t work with today’s smart consumer. I would agree. Here are a few more facts on why.

Today’s Customer Journey: A Big Reason to Embrace the Marketing Lifecycle

Today’s typical customer journey is far more unpredictable than the customer of the previous century.

sales funnel sales journey

1980’s and prior sales journey.

When the concept of the sales funnel came out (1924), the internet didn’t exist! But think about today for a second.

Over 40,000 searches happen on Google per second, 1.49 billion people log onto Facebook daily, 84% of buyers trust online reviews (BrightLocal), and 47% of B2B buyers read 3-5 blog posts or content pieces prior to talking with a salesperson (DemandGen). 45% of Americans use Twitter (Pew Research Center), and 77% of Twitter users (Twitter) feel more positive about a brand when their tweet has been replied to.

That means that a typical buyer’s journey could look a lot more like this, and there could be a lot longer of a time period between the first and the last stage than the funnel represents.

sales funnel marketing lifecycle pathway

On the flip side, if the brand’s site is user-friendly, and the content is extremely good, and the prospect has a hot, burning need: the sale can still happen quickly! (The good news? If we allow for a journey and not a pushy “funnel,” we will get better results and happier customers all around.)

The sales funnel really gives companies, and executive teams, the wrong idea of who is buying from them. A human is buying from us. Not a percentage. Not a robot. Not a “conversion ratio.” A human, in the end. I think sometimes many of us forget that simple fact. What I wanted to portray was a path real humans that are interested in a brand’s offering are actually taking these days, with no closed walls, and fresh, up-to-date, more accurate “stages.” I’ve been studying the pathways of the inbound customers we have this year, as we approach our first $1.5 million gross annual sales. There are three things I’ve noticed that consistently happen around the sales journey that really does not match up to today’s sales funnel at all (see AIDA model, above).

First: we can’t truly and accurately predict where a lead is at. Ground-floor level, we don’t know what’s in a human buyer’s mind. Software can’t heat-map a lead’s “brain,” even though it’ll promise you that it can try. Your lead could be ready to buy, or they could be months away from buying. It’s their decision, not yours, on how and where they should spend their money. Patience with our human prospects, and realizing we aren’t mind-readers pays off. We allow them to make the decision, and if we’ve held up our end–our salespeople are strong, our products are strong, our quote was sent out on time, etc., we simply need to wait. We let them know it’s up to them. This is what today’s buyer wants from us as “sellers.”

Secondly: I consistently see one of the most important stages left off all sales funnels. Yet for us, this is when we see our biggest sales, trust, and ROI happen! This is the loyalty stage, which happens AFTER the interest, decision, and action stages. Their actions after that first big action (purchase, sale) denote their loyalty to your brand and subsequently more business for you, if you’ve served them well enough, and maintain that relationship in a way that encourages them to tell others about how much they love you.

Thirdly: The metrics and KPIs around the “stages of the sales funnel” are grossly off, if we want to reflect KPIs that influence potential sales and direct profit. For example, one of the biggest “metrics” for actual sales from content are the conversations you’re having with your leads. If our team isn’t having calls, live chats, email conversations with new leads that come in, then we revise and improve our inbound strategy. Conversations are by far the biggest metric that lead to a sale. Get that lead on a call, on live chat with you, reading your email and responding, and the chances of a sale are huge. Yet I never see “conversations” factored as a KPI in the sales funnel! Most of the time it’s “open” rates on emails, whitepaper downloads, subscriber growth — when none of that matters half as much as the conversations you’re actually having with your people.

So, those three factors were heavily considered in the new Marketing Lifecycle I’ve developed. Without further ado, here it is. Keep scrolling past the images for a little bit more about the story of this Lifecycle.

marketing lifecycle

marketing lifecycle

marketing lifecycle with content

Spread the word! Save, download and re-share: grab the PDF here, and correctly cite if you use by linking back to this post

The story around my new concept is that there are four true stages to an authentic, customer-centric Marketing Lifecycle journey.

Want to save and read the full description of all four stages later? Download as a PDF here.

marketing lifecycle ebook

1. Awareness

Lead is: In Awareness

Brands need to focus on: Authority building in the industry, via high-quality content on a key site “house,” in a variety of formats. Consistency, velocity are key. 

This is the traffic and awareness stage when someone first hears about you and has a potential need for what you might offer. Your content and work here should be value-focused, first and foremost. Don’t be promotional or you risk turning leads off. Comprehensive, high-quality blogs are huge winners to build on your site for attracting more leads in the awareness stage.

What brands should create or do to encourage customer activity at this stage:

  • High-quality, comprehensive, SEO optimized blogs for inbound site traffic (I’ve trained my best writers on a service we offer called authority content for this reason)
  • Focus on building a community around your brand – create intimacy with your niche through content
  • Round-ups or original research studies (can publish as blogs)
  • Brand awareness blogs, creative stories (executive, employee or client stories–must be real-life, and not stiff or testimonial-style)
  • Web pages & site guides (example: our What Is a Strategist? site guide for my course)
  • Social media content, videos & copy
  • Maintain relationships at the fourth stage for more word-of-mouth referrals
  • Published books by executive team/CEOs (see mine for an example)
  • Lead magnets and ebooks & building list size and leads to nurture with opt-ins
  • Ad campaigns (cold audience)

2. Interest & Intent

Lead is: Interested & Has Potential Intent to Buy

Brands need to focus on: Conversational marketing, assigning live calls with prospects to strongest team members, offering client-specific or seasonal coupons 

In the sales funnel, this is usually broken up into two stages: Interest and Desire. However, the pattern with smart buyers today, especially those buying online (digital and physical services), is that a lead can go from interest to desire very quickly. Brands need to anticipate that more. For example, I see too many brands write off their leads — we’ll call him Joe — just because Joe hasn’t emailed back in over a year. Never, ever do that. This does NOT mean to pressure your leads. Just don’t write them off. Send them your occasional coupons and specials. We’ve seen clients come back out of the blue time and time again.

And guess what the #1 factor is in moving someone from interest to a decision? A real, live human conversation. After 7 years and $4+ million in sales, all conducted not in person and over the “internet” virtually with clients using our website, we consistently see conversations as the #1 factor in moving someone from interest and intent to decision. 41.2% of salespeople said their phone is the most effective sales tool at their disposal, says Hubspot. Since our leads at Express Writers are 100% inbound and already warm, getting them on a call is easy – and once they have a conversation with one of our capable staff members, 60-80% of the time, they buy. Allowing the lead to choose phone, chat or email, and then being quick to take initiative, pick up the phone and call our inbound prospect when there’s any hesitation, is the #1 component of all of our sales. (We’ve never used a single webinar to sell our services at Express Writers.)

Also, our top salesperson is not a salesperson. We stopped doing commissioned sales back in 2015! Instead, our top salesperson was first an editor and project manager who naturally progressed up our ladder and is now our Content Director. We’ve found there is no one better than the person who oversees our writers to also have the key conversations that move to a lead to decide on purchasing. Live chat is another way to facilitate these conversations. There’s a reason 150,000 businesses including some of the world’s top brands are using the same live chat we are, Drift. Messenger bots are another great way to hold more live chats with your prospects.

I can’t recommend this enough: Have more conversations with your leads. Talk about the conversations you’ve had in your boardroom with executives and team members.

Another powerful factor in moving a client through this stage is by using coupons and offering them more. This is another opportunity I think a ton of brands miss out on! Coupons with an expiration really give a lead a reason to move from interest and intent forward to the next stage. We’ve had many sales happen because specific leads who asked for a deal, and qualified for that deal by buying volume, were given an account-specific coupon. Never underestimate the power of offering a good deal. Don’t cheapen out, but don’t be afraid to offer your best price.

Remember your email marketing efforts here too. Emailing your content marketing pieces generates a 38x return for every 1$ spent (CampaignMonitor).

What brands should create or do to encourage customer activity at this stage:

  • Conversational marketing (live chat, phone appointments with leads & best company representatives)
  • Messenger bots & live chat apps
  • Have your best (human!) representatives at the end of the app & booking live calls with leads
  • An easy-to-navigate site with CTAs and contact forms
  • Lead magnets around your core message
  • Ebooks to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise
  • Whitepapers and case studies showing off client success stories
  • Email marketing and list building efforts (write and send great emails consistently)
  • Webinars (not necessary unless it fits your specific offering and/or niche)
  • Ad campaigns (retargeting)

3. Decision

Lead is: Ready to Buy

Brands need to focus on: Having samples, previous happy client reviews, and quotes ready to go: booking sales calls

This is the action stage. The main action here is sales. If the other stages are done correctly, and your content has built a great presence, you offer a solid service and products, and you or your team has answered every question, the prospect should buy.

What brands should create or do to encourage customer activity at this stage:

  • Conversational marketing (live chat, calls, prompt follow-ups with clients to answer every question)
  • Have a team that acts fast on sales quotes. The recommended time to get back to someone who contacts you online now is 0 minutes – 4 hours, max.
  • Have work samples ready to show at request for new clients making a decision
  • Testimonials and reviews from prior happy clients help new clients buy with confidence
  • Optional, based on specific company time: Demos (a complex SaaS, for example, could benefit from offering demos)

4. Loyalty

Lead is: Delighted & Willing to Send Referrals

Brands need to focus on: Great service, delivering a great product, following up and checking on client happiness levels, fixing or repairing any reason for dissatisfaction 

This is where you connect with and delight your customers on a regular basis. They become advocates for your brand at this point. This is one of the most important parts to building a long-term presence and profitability as a business, yet it is so often left off of the sales funnel! Your customers’ loyalty reflects the strength of your brand. You should be reaching out and making sure your customers are happy, checking in with them, and sending them occasional gifts or thank-yous to maintain that relationship and loyalty. It’s up to you as the brand to make sure the customer is delighted. If at any point they’ve been dissatisfied, it’s also imperative to find out why and repair whatever could be broken.

What brands should create or do to encourage customer activity at this stage:

  • Followups and seasonal check-ins: build relationships with customers without being pushy
  • Send gifts and thank-yous
  • Email marketing: nurture buyers’ loyalty by sending them your new guides, blogs and customer stories/team stories
  • New products, books, etc. can also build loyalty and reoccurring interest
  • Good service and strong products are #1: revise and maintain your offerings and team to ensure strength in the market

Some Notes About the Marketing Lifecycle

marketing lifecycle with contentIn the Marketing Lifecycle, notice that there is no wall: a human can walk right over into “decision” if they want to, by going through the middle. This is important. It is time we predicted our prospects’ intentions more as a journey and a lifecycle with pathways, instead of a funnel. And this was an important part of the lifecycle. There are no walls or pushy funnel tactics here. Customers aren’t treated like a “metric” or a “number.” We give them a path, and expect a journey, in which our role is to add value to their journey and guide them, without being annoying or pushy. Also, the beautiful part of this new story is that it all connects. Marketing done right should do just that. It should encourage the building of a community: that community should be inspired to tell others about you, which means that increased loyalty to your brand will grow your awareness, reach and traffic, which will continue to fuel growth continually.

The trend in the lifecycle going forward, I think, is that more brands will realize the need for live conversations with their prospects and use innovative apps like live on-site chat, messenger bots, and more. There will need to be a human at the other end serving the lead with the final call or conversation–a bot can’t fully replace a human. Gartner has said that by 2020, conversational marketing will be a recognized channel of B2B and B2C customer engagement and revenue, displacing a large combination of marketing, sales, and service activities.

This kind of marketing is not simple or easy, it is definitely advanced: but it is customer-centric. The types of brands that will win in tomorrow’s Marketing Lifecycle are those who invest in quality and take time and care to serve well at each stage. If your website, email marketing, authority-building blogging, Facebook ad retargeting, whitepapers, lead magnets, customer testimonials, serves your leads well and is set up well in a high-quality, congruent, value-focused manner, you’ll see results. Remember, your offers must be strong, and your CTAs present but unobtrusive. Your team members must serve your clients well, and your products must be amazing. Invest without hesitation to build strength at each stage of the lifecycle. Your leads will feel better served and you’ll get far better results than trying to half-ass your way through these stages.

A customer-centric lifecycle is recommended by @ardath421 via @marketo. Learn more about how a Marketing Lifecycle will replace the traditional #sales funnel on @JuliaEMcCoy's blog Click To Tweet The Marketing Lifecycle concept gives brands a way to look at leads as something other than a 'lead.' Here's the thing: our leads are humans. But the typical sales funnel doesn't remind us of that. @JuliaEMcCoy #ContentMarketingTrends Click To Tweet The 4 stages of the Marketing Lifecycle: 1. Awareness 2. Interest & Intent 3. Decision 4. Loyalty One of the biggest factors @JuliaEMcCoy recommends for moving leads from intent -> decision is: conversations. Click To Tweet Have more conversations with your leads. Talk about the conversations you've had in your boardroom with executives and team members. @JuliaEMcCoy on #MarketingLifecycle Click To Tweet

marketing lifecycle GIF

Download the three stages as a PDF – no email required.

ebook marketing lifecycle explained

2. Content That Wins Love and Trust

Now that we got that big whammy out of the way, here’s my second most important content marketing prediction.

Trust-based content is going to be the Content Leader (King, Queen, you-name-it) in 2019.

Authenticity, the founder’s real backstory (from failures to successes), transparency in the executive team, and real-life anecdotes on company blogs – those will win buyer trust in the content calendar for 2019.

In other words, be real. Be realer than you’ve ever been, and don’t be afraid of the “TMI” barrier. People–your readers and buyers–want to hear your transparency and your failures, maybe even more than they want to read about the award you won or the tradeshow you sponsored.

Let’s tell real stories.

Be real in the company blog. Tell stories. This and four other #contentmarketing musts as you go into 2019, via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

More than ever, great, unique content isn’t just about presenting your audience with factual research, opinions, or comprehensive information in an amazing format.

It’s about human connection. And how better to bridge that gap than through telling real stories?

In 2019, traffic and leads will go to brand leaders and marketers who focus on winning their audience’s love and trust. Those two things are what truly build engagement and bring a community together.

What wins love and trust? A few things:

The mechanics of building great content (format, style, structure, platforms) are common knowledge by now. To build those relationships, a bigger factor to nail in your content is WHY you do it.

  • WHY should the consumer choose you and not the other guy?

There is SO MUCH content produced daily:

total number of blog posts written per day

Source: worldometers.com

infographic showing the amount of online content published every minute in 2018

Source: domo.com

Standing out will keep getting harder.

And harder.

So, instead of just publishing great content, marketers will need to push themselves further to create content that earns that love and trust – stuff with deep originality, fresh angles on old topics, imaginative ideas, and a big dose of fun.

This trend is already reflected in the data. The majority of marketers (56%) are reporting that content creation is the one area where they have overwhelmingly increased spending, according to CMI’s Benchmark report for 2019.

graph showing the areas where b2b content marketers increased their spending in the last 12 months

Source: CMI

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to increase your budget to increase your originality – instead, think about increasing your commitment, care, and dedication to serving your audience. Love and respect them, and you may just get that in return.

3. Content Backed by a Strategy

Content marketing is no longer in its infancy. The experimentation phase is at an end – we know what works and what doesn’t.

So, what consistently wins? Content marketing backed by a strategy.

In fact, this trend is one reason I launched my Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

13 skillsets content strategy and marketing

In past years, many marketers were not aware of the need for a content strategy. That’s changing – the 2019 CMI report findings show a staggering 81% are now aware of this need, including why it’s important.

The top benefits of a content strategy include:

  • Content strategy helps align content marketing teams around the agreed-upon mission/goals (81%)
  • A great content strategy makes it a lot easier to figure out which types of content to develop/produce (81%)
  • Content strategy keeps the team focused on documented content priorities (73%)

graph showing the top benefits of a documented content marketing strategy

Strategy-wise, things will keep growing, growing, growing – both the need and the awareness for the need!

And, as brands and businesses get wise to strategy, including how to use it effectively, content marketing’s worth will grow, too.

Remember when the predicted industry worth was around $300 billion by 2019? Now market researchers are saying it will be worth upwards of $400 billion by 2021.

screenshot of news headline saying the content markent industry will be worth $412 billion by 2021

Incredible.

4. Marketing Will Become Content Marketing

As early as a decade ago, content marketing was a totally new idea. Thus, it was often a side project or experiment for marketers.

timeline showing the evolution of content marketing

Source: CMI

Today, the script has flipped. Content marketing is edging out what we think of as “traditional” marketing. Pretty soon, when people mention “marketing,” they’ll mean content marketing – and vice-versa.

It’s happening because consumer preferences and attitudes are not what they once were.

Salesy tactics are now equivocated with the word “slimy.” They make consumers feel uncomfortable, and they don’t fool anyone.

screenshot of an express writers blog headline: "don't treat your buyers like it's 1999"

Content marketing is edging out what we think of as 'traditional' marketing. Pretty soon, when people mention 'marketing,' they’ll mean content marketing – and vice-versa, via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

According to Marketing Land and Blockmetry, 32.4% of ALL internet pageviews are impacted by ad-blocking software. On mobile devices, that number is three times higher: 62.9% of mobile pageviews are affected by ad blockers.

Today, consumers want the power. More than that, they HAVE the power to research the right brands for them, connect with those brands, and buy from those brands. They’ll ignore the rest of the “noise” – pushy ads, intrusive pop-ups, and slimy sales calls.

Creating valuable content that meets the consumer’s real need acknowledges their power and gives them that choice of connecting with you or not.

It’s respectful marketing. It’s not slimy. It’s what today’s consumers want.

Today and tomorrow's marketing is respectful marketing. It’s not slimy. It’s what today’s consumers want. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

5. Retargeting People Who Know, Like, and Trust You

Another trend that goes hand in hand with content marketing: retargeting.

This process taps into the segment of your audience who have seen your content, like your content, and like YOU, but may not have acted on any of that yet.

Wordstream gives a quick visual of how retargeting works in general:

image showing how retargeting works

Source: Wordstream

Sometimes “retargeting” and “remarketing” are used interchangeably to refer to the same process. In general, the only difference between each strategy is the platform you use to carry them out. (Remarketing, for instance, is usually done with email.)

According to Wordstream, conversion rates actually increase the more times a user sees an ad AFTER they have visited your site:

brand affinity's impact on click-through rates

Retargeting only targets individuals who have some kind of relationship with you already. Plus, if you do it on platforms where they expect ads, it’s not intrusive at all.

For example, you could add low-spend ads to your budget to retarget people who have engaged with you on Facebook.

AdEspresso has some great strategies for retargeting on Facebook to try. First, you need to install a Facebook pixel on your site.

Then, you can create a custom audience to retarget based on which pages they visited, how recently they visited, and more factors.

screenshot showing how to create a facebook custom audience

Screenshot via AdEspresso

This ad strategy ties neatly into your content marketing because it gently reminds visitors that you exist and they have shown interest in your brand in the past. This is sure to be a bigger trend in 2019 alongside the continued rise of content marketing.

How to Win with Content Marketing in 2019: Stay Ahead of Trends

Want to win with content in 2019? You need to know the trends, sure – but you also need to know how to stay ahead of them.

Follow this guide and use it to propel your brand/clients to the top of the content heap. Most importantly, keep pivoting your strategy. Stay light on your feet and agile enough to make changes as necessary to your marketing.

No marketing plan will ever stay static. Make sure the ability to grow is baked into your strategy, and you’ll have a much bigger, better chance at success.

Need great content? You know who to call.

award winning content express writers

We’re up for a 2018 B2B Marketing Zone Award! Will you help vote?

As many of you know (or may not know), I’ve been a columnist over at Content Marketing Institute since March 2015.

It’s one of my most favorite guest platforms to write for on this planet. Content Marketing Institute and their people are close to my heart (as evidenced by my trips to CMWorld ’17 and ’18, respectively).

I spend a great deal of time brainstorming and creating my submissions for CMI. My guide on high-performing content even made it to their 15-most shared posts of all time.

This week I was notified that one of my Content Marketing Institute articles is currently a finalist in the B2B Marketing Zone 2018 MVP Awards in the Content Marketing category! Their panel of judges have determined that my writing is insightful, useful, thought leadership and worthy of the title of Most Valuable Post. Woohoo! What an incredible honor to hear this.

Like @ExpWriters content? Vote and help @JuliaEMcCoy win a 2018 #B2B Award for Most Valuable Post in Content Marketing! Hurry - deadline is December 5! Click To Tweet

We’re up for a 2018 B2B Marketing Zone Award! Will you help vote?

At this point, the B2B Marketing Zone has slated my article next to several others. To win, I need your help. If you enjoy what I do, like reading my blog and getting our newsletters, could you take a moment to vote? (Winners will be announced on December 5th, so you need to get your vote in before then!)

Yes? Great!!

Go here:

B2B Marketing Zone Awards 2018

Then, click on mine to “check” the box next to it and vote:

b2b award express writers

You’ll need to sign up, but it only takes a few moments and you don’t have to “check” the box to subscribe to the publication’s updates if you don’t want to.

Thank you so much, in advance!

– Julia

digital marketing consultant

5 Skills You Need to Succeed as a Digital Marketing Consultant

The digital age has changed the way we do everything, and that includes the way we basically work, shop, and live.

Shopping has changed as the biggest retailers fall to e-commerce giants. Work environments and positions have changed as remote positions are becoming more plentiful.

It was inevitable that marketing would change as more companies saw the value of a digital, content-based approach to advertising.

But what exactly does this mean for job seekers? If you’re a digital marketing consultant (or you aspire to be one), what specifically should you know? And how can you keep building up your skill set in the key areas your future employers will look for?

Today, we’re going to look at the skillsets needed by the modern-day digital marketing consultant.

That’s right, skillsets – because there’s more than one area you need to master.

Even with an overlap, it is important to have a distinct grasp of each.

From content marketing to SEO to social media marketing, there are several areas you should study and know to improve your standing as a real, worthwhile, money-makin’ digital marketing expert.

Let’s explore.

Learn 5 critical skills you need to succeed as a #marketing consultant today Click To Tweet

digital marketing consultant

Why Pursue a Job as a Digital Marketing Consultant?

Before we delve into the specific areas you need to study before you can become a viable digital marketer, let’s take a brief look at why it is important.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely already considering a career as a digital marketing consultant. You may even have some past experience in similar roles. But why should you continue on that way? Well for starters, there’s the job security. Check out this graphic from the Content Marketing Institute.

A whopping 91 percent of B2B marketers surveyed in that study use content marketing. That’s job security if we ever saw it – but the proof just keeps piling up. According to The Drum, content marketing is expected to be worth $412.88 billion in 2021. For reference, it was sitting just below $200 billion back in 2016.

When you’re looking to hone your skills and find digital marketing consultant jobs, you can expect an easier time finding work opportunities than many other professions under the business/marketing umbrella. But those opportunities are just that – opportunities.

They’re chances, and chances you must make the most out of. How can you do that? By taking a refined approach to improving your digital marketing consultant skillsets.

What’s a good digital marketing consultant job description? The mission is simple – use digital channels to help companies reach their customers. You’ll study the market, gain data-driven insights, and combine it with a creative mind for marketing to help your employer reach prospective leads.

The complexity comes in as you try to master all the associated skillsets you need for the job. We’ll discuss the bigger ones and go over how they overlap.

What Skills Should You Master? 5 Marketing Focuses to Study

1.    Content Marketing: Your All-Purpose Lead-Generation Tool

The definition of content marketing can vary depending on where you look, but the premise is always the same. It involves planning and creating digital content to help a company connect with prospective buyers.

Content marketing could involve creating blogs, writing copy for websites, drafting long-term content plans, and much more. Check out this graphic from Timecamp to get a loose idea for your content marketing hierarchy.

The three-step process they reference involves creating big content, splitting it up into smaller parts, and then marketing those parts across digital channels. As we can see, there are a lot of steps to the content marketing process with plenty of overlap.

Digital marketing consultant jobs often call for you to combine your skills. Don’t get caught up on each individual aspect of the pyramid, as we’ll cover some of those topics individually later on our list.

But the point is that marketing in the digital age is about content. Quality, honest, informative, entertaining content can do a lot more for your clients than any type of marketing trick or “overnight” fix ever will. The only thing that happens overnight with get-promoted-quick schemes is usually the other party making off with your money!

It’s also important to remember that quality content works best in perpetuity. Clients need a consistent flow of good content to keep prospective leads coming in. Whether you’re planning it out or creating it yourself, that’s where you’ll come in as their marketing consultant.

2.    SEO: Master It, and Master What Comes After

Search-engine optimization is one of the focal points of content marketing and digital marketing in general. Your mastery of search algorithms is important. But what’s even more important is how you integrate that mastery into your client’s content.

If you hope to land a nice juicy digital marketing consultant salary, you’ll need to work for a successful client. Companies that are the most successful are the ones that keep up-to-date on what they’re customers are asking for. Luckily, search engines make it easier than ever to see what exactly people want.

This graphic from ImForza shows some startling statistics. The second one is startling for the fear of tech monopolies – but that’s another topic for another day. The stat actually shows us how much we can learn by analyzing Chrome search results. And the first stat speaks for itself – if you want to bring in traffic from search engines, you need to master SEO.

Tools like SEMrush and KWFinder can be useful for helping you determine which keywords and phrases offer the biggest potential returns. But the real key for using these words and phrases to their maximum impact lies in doing so organically.

Create content that reads well, and that sounds natural when read aloud. With enough keywords in content like this, you’ll be able to generate traffic, leads, and ultimately revenue for your employer.

3.    Social Media Marketing: Promote Your Content Where It Counts

There’s no denying that social media, for better or worse, is a massive part of our world in the digital age. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about the gossip side of these platforms, which can get a little cringe-y. Instead, we get to delve into the marketing opportunities they offer – which are diverse and profitable.

Social media marketing isn’t about making an account on every platform out there and hoping for the best. Instead, it’s about choosing carefully and going where you can best reach your audience.

What does your audience look like, in terms of their place in life and how the company you work for can help them? Check out this sample persona from Hubspot:

Making up these types of personas may be your job as a digital marketing consultant, or it could fall on someone in your department. Once you have this data, you can use it to discover where your audience is most likely to be, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform.

Remember how we said content marketing and SEO would overlap with some other skillsets on this list? Once you have your social media platforms and audience pinpointed, you can start sharing your content (blogs, web pages, graphics, etc.) with them.

The important thing is putting it all together, and part of that involves making sure you master the promotional aspect of digital marketing with a good grasp on social media.

4.    Staying Active: Blogging, Personal Social Media, and More

This is a skill set that some marketers tend to overlook. But let’s say you’re looking to be a digital marketing consultant freelance or temporarily, and your interviewer asks to see samples of your work. What do you show them?

Portfolio? Yes, that’s a great start. Links to published pieces? Great, that shows you’re an accomplished marketer. But there are also benefits to having your own personal investments in content marketing such as a dedicated blog and social media page.

When you blog regularly and stay active on social media about your industry, you show employers you’re not looking for a job – you’re looking for a career. You take the step from being a person who works in marketing to becoming a full-fledged digital marketer.

You don’t want to get too personal or off-topic when it comes to these avenues of content creation. Your prospective employer may not be too impressed by the gym photos on your Twitter, however huge your muscular gains may be.

5.    Staying Active: Researching, Education, and Training

Being active as a digital marketer is so important, it made the list twice – but how? While blogging and posting on social media is important, so is being a student of the game.

Check out this graphic from Smart Insights about content strategy.

How does strategy factor into research, education, and training within your field? Digital marketing changes as digital channels change – which is, practically, all the time. If you’re looking to develop a good career as a contracted or independent digital marketing consultant, you’ll need to be on the cusp of your industry.

Continue your training constantly by reviewing new material, reading case studies, and analyzing fresh statistics. You can learn new things all the time and, thus, create more profitable strategies for your employer. Whether you’re discovering a new way to promote content on social media or a better way to make your grammar flow, you can improve your services immensely.

So what are some specific digital marketing courses you can use to hone your skills? There are plenty out there, some free and some paid, each offering its own level of return. The question you have to ask yourself beforehand is how much is a profitable digital marketing consultant career worth to you?

Improve Your Skillsets with a Content Strategy Marketing Course

If you’re in the market to learn more about a variety of marketing skills in a single, concise course, you can check out my content strategy course.

I compiled a great assortment of resources that I used to launch my own agency into a seven-figure success story. Here’s what you can expect with this course:

The question to ask yourself is simple – how much are marketing skills worth to you and your potential future employers? $1,000? $10,000? Remember, when you’re a career marketer who is spending money on training materials, you’re making an investment in your future.

A high-quality training course from a reputable organization can look great on your resume. It’s the perfect way to complement a college degree without requiring you to accrue six-figure student loan debt.

With a course like this one, you get a full series of lessons, individual mentorship, and a great learning environment – it’s all the things you’d expect in a marketing class but without the headache of fighting the morning commute to get to a university.

Honing Your Skills for Success as a Digital Marketing Consultant

Digital marketing isn’t the future – it’s the present, and it is only going to become more important as time goes on.

Popular channels like search engines and social media platforms are the go-to sources companies need to delve into for traffic. Your skillsets should include a firm grasp on content marketing, which can be used to reach users through multiple internet avenues. You should also understand SEO from both a technical and functional perspective.

Throw in a mastery of social media and your digital marketing repertoire is almost complete. Don’t forget to stay active in your industry through blogging, social media posting, and of course, continued education.

Digital marketing consultant jobs can be fun, engaging, and a great living. If you have the right skills, you can pay the bills as an all-purpose digital marketing sensation.

digital marketing consultant content strategy course

short term vs long term content marketing guide

When Will My Content Return on Success? The Truth About Short-Term vs. Long-Term Success in Content Marketing

“I blog all the time and I’m not seeing any traffic — why bother?”

Okay, there’s a lot wrong with that sentence.

First of all, define “all the time.”

Does that mean every few months, every month, weekly, daily — hourly?

The fact is — and you can quote me on this — the truth about how long it takes to get noticed in your content marketing… hurts.

content marketing ROI guide

The Painful Truth About Content Marketing ROI — and Why You Should Grin and Bear It Anyway

The honest-to-goodness truth about content marketing ROI is you’re not going to see content success the moment you press the launch button on your website and post your first blog.

In fact, you’re not going to see success with your content in the first month — and maybe not even in the first year, depending on your post frequency (and the quality of your content, of course).

Nope.

If you’re looking for a significant return on investment (ROI), then you NEED to be in it for the long haul.

In fact, this study from HubSpot outlines the magic number quite clearly — it’s around 400.

After approximately 400 blog posts, HubSpot’s statistics showed that traffic just about doubles.

For the savvy content marketer, that means you need to be prepared to deliver consistent, long-form content to drive the results you desire.

Publishing content consistently but not seeing any positive results? @JuliaEMcCoy discusses the truth about short-term vs. long-term success in #contentmarketing in this blog post #contentroi Click To Tweet

And when I say consistent, I mean you have to have an editorial calendar and stick to it.

No ping-ponging around with posts — posting twice a week one week, skipping a week, then posting again.

I know, it’s not easy.

Even Content Marketing Institute has found that more than half of marketers struggle with it.

graph from cmi showing the top challenges for b2b content marketers

And yet, visitors want reliable, consistent, frequent updates — that’s what drives traffic. So, if you want the traffic, you’ll need to buckle down and find a schedule you can adhere to.

Now, back to posting frequency. To get that traffic revving, you’ll need to not only be consistent — but frequent — with your posts.

It’s a proven fact that companies that posted 16 or more pieces of content per month had 4.5 times more leads than those who posted 0-4 times.

Companies that post 16 or more pieces of content monthly have 4.5x more leads than those who publish 0-4x/month. @Hubspot Click To Tweet

And that just makes sense, since all that posting means these businesses are providing their sites with four times the indexing and backlinking opportunities.

graph showing the impact of blog posts on inbound leads

You just need to be sure that all those posts are contributing high-quality content in order to keep visitors — and Google — happy.

That means that even posting once a week, which many bloggers do, is likely to keep you in the realm of blogging hobbyists who don’t expect high traffic.

So once you’ve decided you’re serious about moving forward with your content marketing, you’ll need to determine your goals.

Want the maximum traffic? Consider publishing 4 posts a week, which will bring you up into that high-traffic-driving stratosphere.

Looking for slower but steady growth? Consider 2-3 posts per week.

If you don’t mind taking it very slowly, posting once per week is fine. Just keep in mind it will take you more than a year to see a significant jump in traffic.

Once you’ve got your frequency and consistency down pat, you’ll need to concentrate on the meat-and-potatoes portion of success — and that’s your content itself.

What's the recommended posting frequency for #contentroi success? @JuliaEMcCoy shares her insights, plus studies from @hubspot @cmicontent @backlinko @unbounce and others #contentmarketingroi Click To Tweet

Long-Form Content Provides Consistent Success

Content return on success is not just about churning out random thoughts in 500-word posts. You have to consistently provide visitors long-form, comprehensive content that’s relevant to their needs.

Multiple studies have proved this, and we’re a case study on this (stats on our own content marketing ROI coming up soon).

To underscore the importance of this, BuzzSumo studied more than 100 million articles and found the posts most likely to be shared were over 3,000 words long.

bar graph comparing average shares by content length

Image: Search Engine Journal

And high rankings were tied to long-form content in a Backlinko study that examined more than a million blog posts.

graph showing the correlation between word count and google positionOf course, it’s not just the quantity that counts — it’s quality, too.

Higher-Quality Content Brings Higher Content Marketing ROI

Seems intuitive, right?

And yet so many people miss this critical part of the content ROI equation. That’s why I conducted a case study using my own company as a benchmark.

Why?

Because Express Writers has managed to pull down six-figure earning months on the basis of our content alone.

We did it by publishing over 1,000 blog posts with consistent, long-form content over six years. Yes, you read that right — six years. As of this post, we’re at 1,142 blog posts, total.

That content, which is published weekly along with a few podcasts with notes and recaps from our #ContentWritingChat, costs us about $1,600 per month.

It’s a very long time, a lot of investment, and a lot of content — but worth every minute of the hard work.

If we bought that kind of traffic versus generating it ourselves, it would set us back a mind-blowing $66,700.

image showing how much express writers would be spending on ads for the traffic it generates organically

But just by rolling up our sleeves and finding ways we could provide serious benefit for our reading audience, we were able to create a business that frequently breaks the six-figure threshold in a month — while spending under $2K.

Of course, as I mentioned, our content isn’t just long, it’s high quality — and that’s what you need to strive for.

E-A-T Your Words — How to Create High-Quality Content to Win at Content ROI

High-quality content needs to adhere to Google’s quality rater guidelines, which require that it’s got a high level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), a nice dollop of main content with a helpful title, and achieves a purpose for the page on which it’s hosted.

For just $1,600 per month, Express Writers generates monthly traffic that's worth a whopping $66,700. @JuliaEMcCoy shares how we do it in this blog post about #contentroi Click To Tweet

Sounds like a tall order, right? It’s easier than you think, as long as you break it down into bite-sized chunks, as follows:

1. Create Unique and Useful Content

Nobody wants to read the same old information turned around and spit back out in a different format.

According to Social Media Examiner’s recent report, more than half of marketers say people want content that’s unique and useful.

And Google’s watching, too. If you publish something really lackluster, they’ll call you on it.

image showing video of google's matt cutts

Image: Google Support

If you’re not going to come up with original, useful content — just stop. Content marketing is not for you.

But if you’re on fire to share actionable, relevant tips with the people who need to know them, then step on up — and reap the benefits.

Here are some critical ways you can create and share long-form content that will have your readers coming back for more, post after post.

2. Give Them Data-Driven Information

You don’t have to write content that’s full of numbers and equations, but readers are looking for information that is provable, factual, and can help them draw conclusions.

To increase social shares, put some of the data in an infographic.

In fact, infographics are a great way to share actionable material that provides real benefit to readers.

Check out this great one from Unbounce, a literal 6-month guide to online marketing in free content form:

unbounce's noob guide to online marketing

Image: Unbounce

That image is just the tip of the iceberg — the infographic actually “unfolds” like a brochure (and you can get it as a PDF for convenience). Here’s the first part:

screenshot of the first part of unbounce's noob guide to online marketing

The information presented is attractive, data-oriented, and actionable — checking lots of boxes for visitors that are hungry for unique and useful stuff.

The ROI on this guide was and is huge, too — Oli Gardner’s team has told me it actually served to build their brand and was a fundamental piece that got their brand rolling in the early days. (Unbounce’s Content Director Dan Levy was one of my guest instructors for the Content Strategy & Marketing Course.)

3. Build Trust and Authority

If you’re creating unique and useful data-driven content, it just follows that — eventually — you’ll be seen as an expert in your industry.

Short-form or long-form content? @JuliaEMcCoy discusses #contentmarketingsuccess in this new blog post, with studies from @hubspot @cmicontent @backlinko @buzzsumo and more #contentroi Click To Tweet

To encourage visitors to keep coming back for more, establish a relationship with your community through a response/comments section in your blog or by providing relatable, actionable examples.

One way we do this at Express Writers is by sharing case studies of our experiences to help other content marketers adjust their strategies for better content ROI.

We also put a strong focus on being relevant and authentic because we know that’s what people want. No more burying sales pitches in cleverly designed content pieces — it just doesn’t work.

featured image of express writers' don't treat your buyers like it's 1999 blog post

Image: Express Writers

Remember, your content isn’t all about driving results. It’s also about sharing your passion for your industry and providing real service to your readers.

The results (read: content marketing ROI) are just what happens when you create and share truly good stuff.

Content marketing ROI happens when you create and share truly good stuff. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

If this is your mindset the next time you sit down to craft a piece of content for your site, you can’t help but create something that will inspire and engage your audience — and increase your content marketing ROI by default.

The Long — and Short — of It

So, you want content marketing success, right? Then you now have every tool you need to take action and make it happen.

You understand posting frequency and how posting more often helps increase your traffic.

You’re definitely down with the fact that it might take up to 400 posts before you start seeing that jump in hits, but you also know that like anything good in life, the waiting’s worth it.

And, you totally get that making the effort to create fantastic, long-form content is exactly what’s needed to engage, educate, and build an authentic relationship with your audience.

Short-form content is just not going to cut it for posts that create movement, traffic, and revenue on your site. And sleazy sales tactics are definitely out of the picture.

So, sit back and start brainstorming those actionable, relevant long-form beauties. Whip out that editorial calendar and create a consistent schedule your readers can rely upon.

Dig through the data and come up with something really unique, unusual, and share-worthy.

And, in the process, discover that you’ll win a lot more than just content ROI with this strategy — you’ll also win trust and loyalty. And that’s priceless.

website conversion optimization guide

Your Nutshell Guide to Better Website Conversion Optimization: Boost Your Site’s Profitability With These Tips

Even if your content is killer, your conversion rates can still be lackluster.

*mic drop* 🎤

That’s because every tiny detail, including the surrounding content, sidebars, header images, and links (let’s call them the “peripheral stuff”), contribute to your user’s experience (UX, for short).

You may think these extraneous details have no bearing on the effect of your content, but they DO matter – a lot.

As it turns out, they can influence the user psychologically, especially if you cap your content with an ask or a call-to-action.

The surrounding stuff, the little details beyond the meat of your content/copy, can make your reader more or less likely to follow through with your CTA.

For example, did you know that something as simple as removing social login options (like Facebook) from a page resulted in increased conversions for a Norwegian cosmetics retailer?

It’s true. They did a split test, pitting one version of the page with a social login option against another version without it:

#1: The page with a Facebook login, above.

#2: The same page without the Facebook login.

The results? The one without the social login option (#2) earned a 3% increase in conversions and a spike in revenue for the company.

That’s exactly why website conversion optimization exists.

It’s there to help you create the version of your page that is most appealing to your customers/readers/audience and keeps them primed to act the way you want. In turn, this increases the likelihood of those people buying into your CTAs.

If your content is great but your UX sucks, you’ll have a harder time getting people to bite.

Websites that are harder to use due to off-putting ads, poor design choices, bloated copy (or not enough copy), and other UX mistakes are roadblocks to conversions.

The key is not to apply very specific tweaks that worked to increase conversions for another company. Everyone’s customers are different, so everyone’s data from split testing these optimization tweaks is totally subjective.

Instead, try implementing universally approved tactics, then test them to make sure they’re right for your audience.

We’ve rounded up a list of these universal approaches that pretty much work for everybody. Ready? Let’s break them down.

Read a nutshell guide to website conversion optimization and 5 data-backed methods to improve your site conversions, via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

your website conversion optimization guide

Your Guide to Website Conversion Optimization: 5 Data-Backed Ways to Improve Your Conversions

1. Use SSL Certificates/Trust Badges

One of the major ways to increase conversions on a page, especially a check-out or sales page, is to instill trust in your customers with the right elements.

If a customer is thinking about purchasing, they may already have some level of trust with you. In this case, you want to make that sales/check-out page help them cross the finish line.

Securing your site with an SSL certificate is one major way to build your trust and optimize your conversion rates. (Sometimes your web host will offer this as a service along with hosting your website.)

Take a look at how this appears on our site:

Or, for another example, here’s Amazon’s SSL-secured site:

Want to see a non-secured site? It doesn’t look as trustworthy, immediately right off the bat. This isn’t a good first impression:

Learn more in Google’s useful help article about SSL certificates.

You can also include a “trust badge” on the page. This little graphic is evidence your site is safe and secure as verified by an outside, trusted objective source.

Most of the time, these badges tell the consumer that your site uses SSL (secure sockets layer) technology to keep data like credit card numbers encrypted and safe. Others may simply signify a credible third party deems you trustworthy.

A good example: the Better Business Bureau, or BBB, has “Accredited Business” badges that show they have verified your company as trustworthy.

Here are some more examples of recognizable trust badges:

Using trust badges is a pretty fail-safe method because plenty of consumers are worried about the security of their information online.

According to a European study conducted by GlobalSign, 77% of internet users are worried about their data safety, including whether it will be misused or intercepted. Additionally, most people check for security indicators on web pages, whether it’s right before a purchase (24%), before handing out their details (48%), or just out of habit each time they visit a new website (21%).

People are rightly anxious about protecting their data, so addressing the underlying worry can help ease the way to more conversions, including completed check-outs.

Your website not converting? @JuliaEMcCoy discusses #websiteconversion #websiteoptimization in this nutshell guide to improving site conversions Click To Tweet

In fact, Blue Fountain Media showed how effective trust badges can be when they conducted a split test on their “request a quote” form.

One version of the form didn’t include a badge:

While a second version of the same form included a VeriSign seal:

The results: The version with the trust badge got 81% more form fill-outs than the one without it.

The takeaway: If you could instill more confidence in a user’s purchase or other action on your site, why wouldn’t you?

  • Get verified by a third party, or purchase SSL for your domain (DigiCert by Symantec is a good option.)
  • Slap a trust badge like an SSL certificate on pages where it makes sense
  • Test to see if it makes a difference in conversions

2. Use Pop-Ups Correctly for Better Website Conversion Optimization

There’s a lot of contention surrounding pop-ups. Do they help conversions? Do they hurt? There are arguments for both sides.

So, should you use pop-ups? Shouldn’t you? (Do you want to tear out your hair yet?)

Guess what:

The question is not whether you should use pop-ups.

The question is how you should use them if you go that route.

Your pop-ups could be killing your conversions. @JuliaEMcCoy shares her insights on #websiteconversion #websiteoptimization in this nutshell guide Click To Tweet

A. Avoid Intrusive Interstitials (or Risk Google’s Wrath)

What the heck are “interstitials” as related to pop-ups?

Short answer: An interstitial is a period of time when your website content is supplanted by a promotional message.

Often, an interstitial looks like a pop-up that covers the entire screen. The user can’t see or access the content they were actually looking for until they respond to the interstitial, like so:

Things can get very sticky with interstitial pop-ups. The line between “quick grab for your attention” and “intrusive” is thinner than thin.

For mobile browsing, Google doesn’t want to see intrusive interstitials anywhere near your website. These are pop-ups that impede the user’s ability to access the content.

Google also stipulates when interstitials are okay:

You can use them responsibly if:

  • You need to fulfill a legal obligation (like verifying a user’s age)
  • You need users to log in to access parts of your site
  • You make sure your pop-ups are reasonably sized (read: not gargantuan) and are easily dismissable

For a full explanation of what you should and shouldn’t do regarding interstitials, check out this post on Search Engine Journal: 7 Tips for Using Pop-Ups without Harming Your SEO.

B. Time Your Pop-Ups Right

Perhaps the most important key to getting pop-ups right for more conversions is timing.

When and where your pop-ups pop up can make or break things for you.

According to Sumo’s analysis of 2 billion examples of pop-ups, the ones that converted the worst were rushed. That means they appeared too quickly, such as seconds after the page loaded.

In contrast, a well-timed pop-up can pay off… big time.

Here’s a great example Sumo supplies:

The pop-up below was timed to appear 15 seconds after a visitor started viewing an ebook product page. It offers a free download of the first chapter.

This pop-up has a 38.4% conversion rate, and it’s all because it literally pops up at the exact right time – when the user has had a chance to check out the product and get interested.

The takeaway: For pop-ups, timing is everything.

To discover the best time to launch your pop-up, Sumo recommends checking Google Analytics for the average time on page. For instance, maybe users spend an average of 20 seconds on your page before bouncing. Figure out how to sweeten the deal with a timed pop-up (maybe at the 15-second mark?) so they’ll want to follow through with whatever your CTA asks of them.

3. Entice Users with Buttons That Look Like Buttons

According to CrazyEgg, website users expect buttons. They look for buttons. They need buttons.

Why?

Because, since the dawn of the web (think the 1990s), this is how you interacted with web pages. When users see a button, they expect to take some form of action.

Here’s an example of good button design from a company who placed a PPC ad on Google for the keyword “buttons and website conversions.”

Obviously, they’re aiming for conversions themselves with this ad. The page, as such, lives up to expectations.

May I direct your attention to the CTA buttons on this landing page?

They’re big, colorful, rounded, and satisfyingly button-y.

Plus, when you hover your mouse over them, they change color.

I really want to click this button.

Landing pages without buttons are confusing. What am I supposed to click on?

Unsurprisingly (or maybe surprisingly), studies have shown that this logic holds up.

In a series of tests between pages with buttons that look like buttons and so-called “ghost buttons” (essentially transparent boxes with text in them), ConversionXL showed that users prefer the former over and over again.

For instance, in the first split test, users clicked on the ghost button version 20% less than the regular button.

Another case study from Unbounce shows more of the same. They tested two versions of CTA buttons: A rectangular version and a rounder, more button-y version.

The rounder version won by a landslide – it increased conversions by 35.81%.

The takeaway: When you create CTA buttons, make them look like a button! In other words, make them irresistible.

4. Keep Forms Simpler and Ask the Right Questions

Another piece of your website you can optimize for conversions is your form. Email sign-ups, surveys, check-out pages, and opt-in forms are all fair game.

To get the best conversions from your forms, the conventional wisdom is to keep them shorter.

At least, it was.

As this post from Venture Harbour argues, shorter does not necessarily mean better.

In this piece, the author examines 5 different case studies where other factors played a bigger role than length.

For instance, a case study from Marketing Experiments found that they didn’t need to shorten their form to increase conversions. They just needed to get rid of the copy on top of it:

The copy above the form in Version B reduced conversions, driving them down by 28%. That’s because visitors to this page were already highly motivated to fill out the form, and the copy got in the way. Form length didn’t matter.

In another case study from ConversionXL, they literally tested how form length would affect conversions.

They started with a form containing 9 fields. After whittling it down to 6 and testing the shorter form against the original, they found that conversions dropped by 14.23% with the shorter form.

What mattered more than form length? The type of questions they were asking.

In fact, after tweaking the form copy (but keeping the fields at 9 total), they saw a jump in conversions – 19.21%, to be exact.

The shorter form didn’t have the questions that users were interested in answering. The longer form kept them, but with rephrased copy that helped reduce any anxiety about filling it out.

The takeaway: The context of your form is critical to conversions. Do users expect to have to answer a lot of questions (like if they’re requesting a quote for services)? Or do they just want to get to a freebie download as quickly as possible?

This should come as no surprise, but your particular audience’s needs/expectations should determine the length of your forms. Just don’t get overly complicated, and ask the right questions.

5. Never Oversell

You know that icky feeling you get when a salesperson is desperately trying to wring money from your wallet?

You just want to be left alone to browse in peace, but they carry on with their sales pitch anyway. They’re either totally oblivious to your disinterest or too focused on the $$$ to care.

It turns out you can replicate that exact experience on a website. (Of course, that doesn’t mean you should.)

For example, when I recently visited a blog that usually serves up the good stuff, a pile of CTAs plus a few small pop-ups met me instead.

Where should the user’s attention go in this scenario? If you’re overwhelming them with asks before they can even read your content/start building trust, well…

That’s how you turn them off.

Overselling can backfire.

Instead, keeping the asks simple and focused can go a long way. Take another case study from ConversionXL, where they optimized a landing page for Truckers Report, a resource that hooks truck drivers up with better jobs.

Here’s the original page:

After drilling down and simplifying the page through a few tests, they arrived at a version that converted nearly 80% better than the original (and the original wasn’t that complicated, to begin with).

Sometimes, simpler is better. Just repeating your CTAs all over the place without thinking about UX won’t convince visitors to act. It will do the opposite.

The above example shows us that you don’t have to oversell to get the desired results.

The takeaway: Instead of adding more elements to your webpage to increase conversions, try taking some away, simplifying, and narrowing your CTA down to one well-placed option.

Just repeating your CTAs all over the place without thinking about UX won’t convince visitors to act. This and more #contentmarketing nuggets in @JuliaEMcCoy's nutshell guide to #websiteconversion #websiteoptimization Click To Tweet

Website Conversion Optimization: There’s No One-Size-Fits-All

Optimizing your website for maximum conversions isn’t a straightforward task.

There is no checklist with boxes to tick. There aren’t any “best practices” that work every single time, for every single webpage.

Instead, website conversion optimization will be totally unique for you or your clients. It depends on your brand, your website, and your customers.

The best first step for any website to optimize their conversions is not to look at what their peers are doing, but rather what their audience wants/needs/expects from their website, content, and web pages.

Start with providing the best user experience possible, and you’re on your way.

why your content isn't performing

Why Your Content Isn’t Performing, and 6 Methods to Refocus on for Killer Results

Despite your best efforts, your content isn’t performing.

It might even be failing, and the reason(s) for it may remain elusive.

This is frustrating beyond belief, not to mention discouraging. (Head, meet desk.)

Need help with your content? Register for free as a client.

You’ve heard over and over how successful content marketing can be (in CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Trends Report, 73% of respondents said their organization’s content marketing approach was either moderately or very successful)  – so it’s even more disheartening when you can’t seem to get there yourself.

cmi_b2b-content-marketing-trends-success-rate

Luckily, content problems are common enough that we might be able to boil yours down to one or two (or a few) reasons why your content marketing creations aren’t working.

Read through these scenarios and see if any could apply to your content. Then, keep scrolling for tips to help you turn it all around so you see success the next time you roll up your sleeves to create.

Are you having trouble seeing results from your content marketing? Here are 6 methods to help you re-focus for killer results, via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

guide on why your content isn't performing

Your content failure might have happened because…

1. Your KPIs and Content Expectations Don’t Match Up

If your content expectations versus the reality of your KPIs (key performance indicators) present two wildly different pictures, something is up.

Either your content is flat-out failing or your expectations are too unrealistic to achieve.

Both scenarios require a reassessment of your approach, whether your content needs an overhaul or your expectations need tweaking.

2. You Don’t Have a Strategy

If you’re creating content on an ad-hoc, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants basis, this could be the major reason why it isn’t performing.

Without a content strategy, you won’t have a roadmap that leads to achieving your goals. It’s exactly like driving on a dark road without any directions or headlights.

One of the major ways a strategy helps your content is by laying out how each of your pieces maps to the buyer’s journey.

When a customer is able to find the exact type of content they need at the exact sales stage they’re in, it helps them move steadily down the sales funnel – closer to a sale with your brand, in fact, since it’s your content they’re engaging with.

shopify-content-marketing-funnel

Without this mapping guiding your content creation, you’ll be taking wild guesses about what types of content will nurture leads and encourage conversions. It just won’t work.

3. You’re Overly Focused on Selling

Yes, your ultimate end goal is to get those conversions (traffic to leads, leads to sales), but you’re self-sabotaging if your focus is on selling your products/services, promoting your brand, or a mixture of the two.

Overly salesy content is a cause of death for any campaign because it moves toward being interruptive and valueless for the consumer rather than helpful, interesting, or educational.

Consumers (especially millennials and Generation Z) don’t like ads for a reason. They’re pushy, annoying, and can feel a bit slimy.

millward-brown-gen-xyz-ad-blocking

82% of Gen Z-ers say they skip ads whenever they can, according to a Kantar/Millwardbrown study.

Do you want to be seen as an authority in your field and a helpful advisor, or like a shady used car salesman? Promoting yourself too much in your content will lead to the latter, which turns people off.

4. You Aren’t Talking to the Right Audience

If publishing content feels like shouting in an empty room (*taps mic* — Is this thing on?), consider this:

Are you speaking to the right crowd?

Content targeted at the right people is more likely to hit its mark.

The people you need to talk to are the ones who will care about what you have to offer, whether that’s your knowledge, your brand, or your products/services.

If your content isn’t connecting, it might be because you’re throwing bananas at horses or apples at monkeys.

6 Tactical Tips to Turn Your Content Marketing Around

1. Study Up on Your Audience, Then Write FOR Them

If your content isn’t performing, you should take a hard look at your target audience and buyer personas.

Are they still relevant? Or are they off the mark?

Go back and do your research. Do surveys, interviews, and polls with your customers and social media followers. Look at who your competition is targeting. Reassess who your brand ultimately seeks to help with content.

Michelle Linn has a great method to help you refocus on your correct audience: Ask yourself who you can help rather than wondering who you can target.

Once you have an updated handle on your audience, write your content FOR them.

  • Put yourself in their shoes.
  • Speak their language. Imagine talking to them across a dinner table and what you would say.
  • Address their fears, pain points, desires, and questions.

A good exercise to try if you struggle with content that’s too self-promotional: Eliminate all uses of pronouns like “I,” “we,” and “us.” Instead, use “you” and “your.”

2. Research and Capitalize on a Trending Topic

If you understand your audience well, yet regularly hit “publish” and hear nothing but crickets chirping, you need to start getting more eyes on your content.

You can easily do this by jumping on a trending topic. Their impact is fleeting, but it can be big once it hits.

To find one:

  • Check industry news.
  • Look at top posts on competitor sites and search for patterns.
  • Check BuzzSumo for current trending topics in your niche.

buzzsumo-trending-topics

You need to be quick to find a hot topic and get related content pushed out in a timely manner, but it can be worth the time crunch for the traffic potential alone. Plus, these types of pieces are great lead-ins or introductions to your brand for that all-important awareness phase of the sales cycle.

3. Return to Start and Put a Content Strategy in Place

If your content creation is willy-nilly, unorganized, or undocumented, stop.

Do not pass “go.”

You needed a strategy yesterday.

Reaching any type of goal requires a plan of action. Especially if your goal is content that performs and leads to profitable results.

For content marketing, the plan of action that helps guide you to ROI is a content strategy.

The most current research in the Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report shows that the majority of the most successful content marketers have a strategy in place (62%). Meanwhile, among the least successful marketers, only 16% have a strategy.

cmi-b2b-content-marketing-trends-at-a-glance

This is no coincidence. A strategy gives you all the tools you need for your content to perform.

Period.

4. Stop Using Too Much Industry Jargon

Another reason your content might be falling flat?

Your tone or style might not be gelling well with your audience (see point #2).

If you’re not writing for your audience in a way that connects with them, it doesn’t matter how well you know your targets or how interesting/useful your topic – a wonky tone throws everything off.

A prime example is peppering your sentences and paragraphs with too much jargon.

jargon-definition

For instance, if you are writing content aimed at cancer patients for the medical industry, you don’t want to overuse a term like “malignant fibrous histiocytoma” without explaining what it means in layman’s terms. (It’s bone cancer.)

The paragraph below is not aimed at patients. However, if you write content full of industry jargon like this and it’s not intended for your peers, it’s time to get simpler, more general, and less formal.

medical-jargon

Screenshot via Medscape

5. Trim the Fat from Your Content (or Get an Editor)

Another way to alienate readers and throw off your content performance is to stuff it full of fluff.

Phrases like the ones below are unnecessarily long, wordy, or redundant. They all have simpler alternatives that are easier to read, as Grammarly has shown:

grammarly-slacker-words

Filler words and phrases decrease the overall value of your content. They stuff your pieces full of hot air and make them harder to read.

When you create content that’s concise, you don’t hem and haw. You get to the point(s) quicker, which gives the audience the satisfaction they crave.

Uncoincidentally, that leads to our next point.

6. Tell Them Why They Should Care

In high school or college, you probably wrote essays and papers in a specific format. The introduction was where you announced your topic and told your readers where you were taking them.

college-essay-structure.jpg

That’s still a good practice, but one major piece is missing for online writing: the point.

In most college essays, you save the main point for your conclusion, where you hammer it home.

Doing this in your content is a sure method to make any reader lose interest right away. Since their attention span is fleeting, they need the “why” to smack them in the face.

  • Why should they keep reading?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • How does the content apply to their concerns, desires, needs, fears, etc.?

If you can hand your reader the “why” right away, they’ll be more likely to keep reading, which can improve your content performance.

If Your Content Is on Life Support, Don’t Give Up

Even if your content is underperforming (or lying on its back with its legs in the air), there’s still hope.

Take the opportunity to analyze what might have gone wrong, then make an effort to fix it.

Update old content pieces that never realized their potential, keeping the above tips in mind. Brainstorm and work hard to be super creative – that will help you stand out a lot.

Be gentle on yourself. Progress takes time.

And don’t give up.

You can do great content.

Need an extra helping hand? Check out our content pricing here.

creative content lessons from batman

12 Creative Content Lessons From One of the Most Popular Superhero Movies Ever (Batman)

If you’re a content marketer, I’d bet you feel nothing like Batman. Your utility belt might be full of data, LinkedIn connections and long to-do lists, instead of throwable weapons. And, your dress code might be business casual instead of black leather combat suits.

But there’s a ton that you can learn from the Dark Knight Rises.

Let’s face it: coming up with creative content ideas are tough, but they’re important for keeping marketing efforts fresh and for connecting with those hard-to-reach leads.

Need help with your content? Request a FREE client account and start shopping.

Unique content marketing ideas can cover a wide variety of topics. They can include the services you offer, the strategies you use to grow your business, the way you come up with content topics, and much more.

Today on the blog, we’re taking in some content marketing inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Specifically, the final entry, the Dark Knight Rises, offering a fitting end to an epic trio of films.

dark knight rises batman

Image from imdb.com

(Heads up: this blog will contain spoilers from the movie!)

Brimming with brooding imagery and packed full of powerful themes like pain, triumph, and redemption, it’s an inspirational film. It should be – it grossed $1.08 billion at the box office, and ranks as one of the most popular films of all time.

If you’re looking for content marketing ideas in 2018, we’ve got you covered. Here we go – inspired by the caped crusader’s third appearance on the big screen under Nolan’s guidance: a dozen unique content marketing ideas to inspire your next campaign.

(Sadly, calling yourself Batman in a raspy tone doesn’t make our list. Unless you’re Batdad.)

Read 12 unique #contentmarketing ideas to inspire your next campaign, inspired by a certain caped crusader’s third appearance on the big screen. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

creative content inspiration from batman

Learn from Batman: Try These 12 Creative Content Ideas & Strategies

1.    Keep Up With Current Trends & Pull Topic Inspiration from One Hot Trend

As the film begins, things look much different from the end of part two. Bruce Wayne is a recluse, hidden from the public eye. But even he kept up with what was going on around him.

Content marketers should do the same. Not a social butterfly? Not one to chase down trending topics in your spare time? Learn to, for the sake of your clients. As always, base your research on your clients and their industries.

  • CMI: The Content Marketing Institute offers great content (obviously) as well as educational resources, print materials, and even special events.
  • Smart Blogger: From beginner tips to certification courses, Smart Blogger offers great tools to help you be creative with your content.
  • OkDork: Along with great blogs, OkDork offers you videos and guides to help improve your marketing skills.

Wondering how to apply “current trends” to “new content marketing idea”?

Let’s say you write blogs for a mattress company. Think about ideas relevant to the time of year. For example, where to buy cheap mattresses for freshmen headed off to college in the summer or fall.

2.    Learn What Topic Ideas Work (and Don’t Work)

“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

Thomas Wayne uttered that famous line at the beginning of the trilogy.

A big part of success is learning what works – and what doesn’t. If you discover topics that bring traffic and engagement, you’re on the right track. BuzzSumo shares a great graphic about content and topic planning.

But what if your idea checks all the boxes but still doesn’t work?

Use it as a learning experience – knowing what hasn’t worked is just as important.

We’re reminded of it in the third film, and it’s true in every aspect of life – including content marketing. Why do we fail? So we can learn to succeed.

3.    Choose Today’s Relationships Carefully for Better Future Results

Batman seemingly had his mojo back before he ran into Bane and ended up with a serious back problem as a result.

All because he trusted a cat burglar – in hindsight, maybe not the wisest move.

Marketers must choose their relationships carefully. Your clients, employees, partners – every node in your network can impact life as a content marketer.

If you’re looking to create B2B content marketing ideas, base yourself in an industry you know well.

It will be easier to find clients you can offer greater ROI to.

Don’t feel bad if not all relationships work out. Remember, by the end of the film, Batman was betrayed by two women. Even the world’s greatest detective can miss warning signs.

4.    Consult Proven Experts for Content Strategy Guidance

If Master Wayne would’ve listened to his sagely wise butler, Alfred, he could’ve avoided a backbreaker that puts pro wrestling to shame. But he underestimated Bane and paid the price.

As content marketers, we can draw inspiration from the experts. This transcends just seeing what topics they choose and how they structure content. How do they achieve consistent success? How do they operate thriving agencies?

Look them up, read their work, and consider what they have to say. Your spine may not depend on it, but your income could!

5.    Don’t Let Success Make You Stagnant

While beating down Batman, Bane even found time to talk trash – telling the Dark Knight he had lost his strength after years of peace.

Check out this graphic about how fast the content marketing industry is changing:

Our industry is constantly changing. Even if you’ve found great success, don’t become stagnant in your approach. (Learn more about how we blog in a fresh, inspiring way that nets 99% of our leads and income at Express Writers.)

There are plenty of ways to keep your content fresh.

Choose hot button topics, create weekly blogs, or even ask your readers what they’d like to see.

It’s a great way to try something fresh without diving head-first into new territory – like Batman dived right into Bane’s lair. We all know how that turned out.

6.    Return to What Originally Made You Great

Content marketing is hard, but our habits can make it harder. Sometimes we spread ourselves too thin. We want to do anything and everything, when less is often more.

Remember how part of Batman’s return involved bracing his wounded appendages and getting back to training? You can take your content further by putting the focus on your specialties and niche first.

We’re not saying not to explore new content types. But if you’re a blogger who got success by blogging, you should probably keep blogging no matter how big your business gets.

7.    Don’t Underestimate Your Competition (Study It Instead)

Back to the scene where Alfred tries to talk sense into Bruce by telling him he wasn’t ready to handle Bane at that point, this dialogue delivers a powerful and clear lesson – don’t underestimate your competition.

It’s easy to get caught up with your own creative content ideas and forget there are thousands of competitors just as determined and skillful as you. Don’t underestimate your competition. Better yet? Study it.

That’s a screencap of SEMrush’s domain vs. domain analyzer’s benefits. You can compare keyword, topics, and more. It’s good to know how you’re doing – but better to know how you’re doing in relation to the competition.

8.    Plan Out Your Topics Ahead of Time

During the climax of the film, we see Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and numerous other characters all working together like a single, cohesive unit to stop Bane’s destruction of Gotham City.

Not only was that inspiring from a cinematic perspective, but it shows the benefit of planning ahead. If you’re looking for content marketing ideas in 2018, as far as topics go, why not plan out a whole schedule in advance?

Try choosing topics for a week’s worth or a month’s worth of content as opposed to choosing on a piece-by-piece basis. You can create a series and even full calendars ahead of time for better results.

9.    Reestablish Yourself Even if Things Get Hard

One of the most impressive things about Batman’s journey was how far he had to come to recover from his losses. He’d had his back broken, his riches wiped away, and the bulk of his arsenal stolen by his rival.

So many times as content marketers, we find things that once worked for us just don’t anymore. Maybe a long-running blog series isn’t bringing in the traffic it used to, or our social media polls don’t elicit as much participation.

If this happens, it can be the perfect opportunity to launch a new series or take a new approach. Don’t let a minor setback derail you – view it as an opportunity to try something new or revisit older successes.

10. Go in for the Long Haul (and the Long Word Count)

There was a time when Batman was ready to sacrifice his life for Gotham. We don’t want you to go that far for the sake of work, but we may ask you to make another sacrifice. According to Top Rank Marketing, longer articles are better at engaging the reader.

The lengthier side of content gives you extra room to be expressive, which is the key to engaging more viewers. You can add more references, more facts, and more calls to action.

If a user is glad they clicked your link, they’re even likelier to return. If Batman can haul a bomb outside city limits and abandon ship before detonation, we can all add a few extra hundred words to our content.

11. Don’t Work Yourself into a Corner

Creative content ideas are easiest to come up with when we have a clear mind. But our thinking can become clouded if we have too many clients, too many projects, and not enough time.

Even Batman needed a break – by the end of the movie, he’d gone on a permanent hiatus. We aren’t telling you to find someone named Robin and pass your business onto them when you get tired. But we are saying planning out a schedule ahead of time can help with your content marketing efforts.

This image from CoSchedule shows us how even social media sharing can be scheduled out ahead of time on a piece-by-piece basis. Plan ahead, and you’ll have less clutter with better content.

12. Triumph Over Your Rivals – and Over Yourself

The ending of the movie shows Batman finally defeating Bane. But his real victory was over his own weakness, fear, and pain.

As content marketers, we know how frustrating the creation process can be. Trying to create that killer content piece or lead-generation sensation is hard. It can require tireless dedication, research, and promotion.

But don’t just overcome the statistical hurdles in your way – improve your own self as a content marketer. Become better organized, with these simple tips:

  • Document Everything: Taking notes can make your life a lot easier. Document projects, client requests, appointments – everything. You’ll be glad you did later.
  • Create a Single To-Do List: Your lists aren’t helpful if they’re all over the place. It’s better to have one master list than a half-dozen shoddy ones scattered about.
  • Commit to the Changes: Changing your approach can be tough, but you need to constantly commit to overcoming your obstacles.

Bruce had to take off the rope to make the jump to freedom. For marketers, that’s the equivalent of continuing to improve no matter how hard it seems. Scary, but ultimately freeing.

Rise Up to a Better Approach Toward Content Marketing

Batman had it right – there’s no obstacle that can’t be triumphed over if we apply ourselves and utilize our inner strength. Even when he was broken physically, mentally and financially, betrayed by two women, and seemingly overmatched, he rose to the challenge.

Creating that killer content piece or that refined approach to marketing services can be easy once you get inspired with these tips.

The bonus? You’re fighting against search algorithms, not the League of Shadows – so you’ll have an easier time than the Dark Knight did.

cmworld 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

cmworld collage

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

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cmworld collage

CMWorld 2018: 8 Biggest Takeaways & Content Marketing Lessons

cmworld recap

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

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

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

And it was awesome.

1. Today’s Most Important Marketing Element is Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two new things I learned about Joe:

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

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

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

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

  1. Record
  2. Repeat
  3. Remove

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

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

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

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

Why marketing fails:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus. Choose one thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I wanna gut it and create snackable content.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curiosity gap.

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

One of the best examples Andrew brought up:

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

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

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

Take them through wanting to needing to know.

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

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

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

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

Think like a reality TV editor.

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

Excellent talk, Andrew!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. What about paid vs. organic traffic?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Newsletters are the OG.

2. Newsletters done well = 🔥

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ann says:

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

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

Love it!

6. Reframe Obstacles into Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your extraordinary vision?

7. Make Your Content Mean Something

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These were our favorite takeaways from Pete’s session:

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

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

He recommended knowing your audience’s:

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

How?

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

Tina Fey Shared Some Great Writing Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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