sales funnel death

The Sales Funnel: Is It Dead? What’s Replaced It? (Video)

The sales funnel is dead!

I know, I know, shocking — right?

But maybe not, if you’ve had any worthwhile interaction with a typical online customer.

If you’re in marketing, at all, you need to watch this video.

I’ve got some thought-provoking insights about the sales funnel and how content marketing can play a big part in earning real customer sales, hot off the video production reel.

Ready?

sales funnel dying and content marketing

The Sales Funnel: Is It Dead? What’s Replaced It? (Video)

Is the sales funnel dead? 🤔🌪 🛑 Watch as @JuliaEMcCoy explains a century-plus old model, and how to cater to today's audience with four lifecycle stages. #contentmarketing #marketinglifecycle Click To Tweet

So why, first of all, am I making the statement that “the sales funnel is dead?”

In my Write Blog article from last December, called Goodbye, Sales Funnel & Hello, Marketing Lifecycle: 5 Hot Content Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2019, I break apart piece-by-piece why the sales funnel is dead.

First, the sales funnel really doesn’t describe the way marketing should work anymore.

When the concept of the sales funnel first came out (1924), the internet didn’t exist!

Think about that for a second. And we’re still using it to represent our customer journeys? The AIDA concept was first proposed in Bond Salesmanship by William W. Townsend in 1924.

aida model

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.”

Bond Salesmanship by William W. Townsend in 1924

Does that sound like something our customers actually want from us today?

John Hall, co-founder of Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that has made the Inc 500 list, has said on Forbes:

“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.”

'Too many companies see customers as gatekeepers to wallets; meanwhile, customers feel ignored at best – and insulted at worst – when the journey ends.' - @johnhall #salesfunnel Click To Tweet

In my article from last December, I drew a new marketing flowchart I’ve called The Marketing Lifecycle, which represents a more modern visualization of today’s buyer journey. This concept has started to go far and wide, re-published on MarketingProfs, MarTech Advisor, Content Marketing Institute, to name a few places.

marketing lifecycle with contentmarketing lifecycle ebook

The term “marketing lifecycle” itself isn’t new. Ardath Albee, an industry leader in content marketing, talked about a lifecycle on the Marketo blog. 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.”

What’s important to remember is that today’s typical customer journey is far more unpredictable than the customer from just a decade ago.

Take a look at what our buyers are doing today…

  • 40,000 people are searching Google per second
  • 84% of buyers trust online reviews (BrightLocal)
  • 47% of B2B buyers read 3-5 blog posts or content pieces prior to talking with a salesperson (DemandGen).
  • 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 — or even shorter, depending on trust! — than a funnel even represents.

Our buyer journeys are transforming today. 40,000 people are searching Google per second; and a whopping 84% of buyers trust online reviews. @JuliaEMcCoy on the #deathofthesalesfunnel Click To Tweet

sales funnel marketing lifecycle pathway

The sales funnel really gives companies, and executive teams, the wrong idea of who is buying from them. A human is buying from us, in the end. I think sometimes many of us forget that simple fact. And as marketers, it shouldn’t be our focus to “grab” the attention of people who aren’t in our audience, for numbers’ sake. 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.”

It’s time to quit looking at our customers as if they are numbers, a metric in our system, a 'wallet.' @JuliaEMcCoy on the death of the #salesfunnel #marketing Click To Tweet

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. Let’s take a more nurturing stance that encourages people to stay in our circle: to join our community of readers, buyers, and evangelists.

4 Stages in a Modern-Day Marketing Lifecycle

Stage 1. Awareness

Lead is: In awareness

Brands need to focus on: Authority building in the industry with high-quality content on a key site “house,” in a variety of formats. Consistency, quality, and quantity all play in.

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.

Trust-building content is the Queen, and the Queen rules the house. Instead of just publishing any content to fill a schedule for pushing your brand forward in the industry with momentum, 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.

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

  • High-quality, comprehensive, SEO optimized blogs for inbound site traffic
  • Focus on building a community feel with your brand — create intimacy with your niche, again, through content
  • Original research studies
  • Web pages & site guides
  • Social media content, videos & copy
  • Published books by executive team leaders/CEOs (see mine for an example)
  • Lead magnets and ebooks & building list size and leads to nurture with opt-ins
  • Ad campaigns (cold audience)
  • Fourth-stage tie in: Maintain relationships at the fourth stage for more word-of-mouth referrals

Stage 2. Interest & Intent

Lead is: Interested and has potential intent to buy

Brands need to focus on: Conversational marketing. Holding live calls with 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. Never write off your leads too early. We’ve seen clients come back out of the blue months or even years later 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 8 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. Yet, this is a metric left out of ALL KPIs and ALL sales funnels!

After 8 years and $4M in sales, all conducted not in person and over the 'internet,' we consistently see conversations as the #1 factor in moving someone from interest to decision. Yet, this is a metric left out of most sales funnels.… Click To Tweet

How many worthwhile conversations are you having?

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 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 is someone who has a ton of experience in client support and serious hand-holding chops, because that’s what it takes. You have to have someone that enjoys this process and loves working with clients.

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.

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

What brands should do 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 clear 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)
  • Ad campaigns (retargeting)

Stage 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)

Stage 4. Loyalty

Lead is: Delighted and 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 — I send a handwritten note with the books I publish
  • 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

For more on these four stages: Goodbye, Sales Funnel & Hello, Marketing Lifecycle: 5 Hot Content Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2019

marketing lifecycle ebook

3 Sales “Patterns” from Studying Our Customer Journeys at Seven Figures Annually

To conclude, I’ve been studying the pathways of the inbound customers we’ve had at Express Writers, as we ended our first $1.5 million gross annual sales.

There are a few 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).

1. Predicting where a lead is at is almost impossible.

In short: we can’t read 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. In the end, we let our customers know the decision is theirs, and we simply work to stay top of mind.

2. Loyalty is a stage that’s often forgotten, and best built through great internal service.

This stage is when our biggest sales happen! Not at the first close. And the loyalty stage happens AFTER the interest, decision, and action stages. If we’ve served our customers well enough, and maintain that relationship in a way that encourages them to tell others about how much they love us, this pays off.

3. Conventional KPIs can actually pull focus away from a real path to sales.

For example, one of the biggest “metrics” for actual sales from content is the conversations we have with our leads. If our team isn’t having calls, live chats, email conversations every DAY with our leads, then we revise and improve our inbound strategy. We work on our chat popups. We add or remove questions to our forms. Conversations are by far our biggest metric that leads to a sale. Yet I never see “conversations” factored as a KPI in the sales funnel! Instead, it’s open rates, follower counts, bounce rates.

None of that matters half as much as the conversations you’re actually having with your people.

Conclusion

I hope this inspired you and shed some light on the very difficult topic of our customer sales journey.

If you have questions or thoughts, you know what to do — leave a comment!

how to write headlines

How To Write Headlines that Earn More Clicks & Reads (Video)

Headlines are a critical step to the overall success of the content you publish, especially blogs.

Here’s something else, though.

The experience of the reader after the headline — what’s in the content itself — is also every bit as important.

Similar to a tasty cake with even better icing, or a great store with a clear, accurate sign.

If a store is awesome, and has tons of of fantastic products inside, but the sign is nonexistent, or, worse — confusing or off-putting, how is the owner going to attract anyone inside?

A headline is like that.

If you’re crafting a headline to get people to read your blog, article, or email, it needs to be clear, well-written, and engaging to earn your audience’s interest and attention.

I’ve got some nitty-gritty tips for you on how to write headlines for your content, hot and fresh for you in today’s video. Let’s get into it!

Learn 3 practical tips for writing #headlines that work from @JuliaEMcCoy on @YouTube 💡 Click To Tweet

how to write headlines

How To Write Headlines that Earn More Clicks & Reads (Video)

Okay, so here are my top three tips for you on writing great headlines.

Ready? The first one is four tips in one, so buckle in!

Headline Writing Tip #1: Draft your headline in three stages.

Let’s look at one of the blogs I’ve written:

How to Promote a New Blog Post: 15+ Trusty Techniques to Try

After 8 years of content creation, and writing thousands of blogs, I’ve learned that multiple process and draft stages are everything to staying ahead of content, producing great quality, and never risking burnout. (I’m 3 or 4 weeks ahead now on more than 20 individual long-form content pieces per month.)

After 8 years of content creation, and writing thousands of blogs, I’ve learned that multiple process and draft stages are everything to staying ahead of content. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

When it comes to stages in content creation, this is the secret to success. And this includes stages for your headlines!

Here’s the three stages I use.

Headline Writing Stage 1: Draft a headline that reflects the idea or keyword you’re writing about. My draft for the blog example would look like: How to promote a new blog post: # techniques (because that’s the keyword and the idea). It should not be perfect at this point. Don’t worry about that yet!

Headline Writing Stage 2: After you write the blog, come back to the headline. How many steps or techniques do you have? You’ll know after writing the article. This is super important: Let the content guide your headline. This will mean accuracy to the topic for the reader, if you match the headline to what you’ve written, after you write it. You want to refine and craft a headline you like.

Headline Writing Stage 3: Run the headline through a scoring tool. I like the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. It’s a fantastic tool that gives you a rating for how much emotion your headline will impact, and what emotions you’ll bring up in your reader. Intellectual, Empathetic, Spiritual are the three emotions the AMI tool scores for. 40-80 is a high score. Another good tool is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, which rates your headline from 1-100, dependent on word choices used in the headline, length, etc.

Now that you know the stages of how to write a good headline, which I’d say is the most important part of this video, let’s talk about a few other headline rules of thumb.

Headline Writing Tip #2. Never, ever, ever, clickbait.

Don’t sacrifice accuracy for sensation.

The best wait to avoid this is with accuracy from headline to topic.

Never disguise your topic or be unclear about it. Be upfront and 100% accurate. Accuracy of your headline to the content also impacts Google rankings. Google looks for headlines that sum up the topic of the content. The topic of your content is what ranks well in Google, if the whole piece is topically accurate. This is because of how semantic search algorithm works. We can get all nerdy here — that’s just a summary. For more, I have a guide on semantic and topical search optimization.

Headline Writing Tip #3. Your starter words matter.

BuzzSumo did a study of over 50,000 articles in B2B content. They found that these starter words performed better than other headline starter phrases:

  • “The Future of”
  • “How to use”
  • “Need to” (without “Know”)
  • “How to Create”
  • “Here’s How”
  • “You Need to Know”

Brainstorm topic ideas with these phrases in mind. For example, “what does my audience need to know?” or “what is the future of my industry and how does it affect my audience?”

You can even go back and optimize content that’s not performing well on your blog and add in these header phrases. I go back and optimize my old icky headlines all the time and see more results from doing so!

Go Forth and Write Headlines that Work

Hope these tips helped you.

Here’s to writing catchy headlines that work and earn our readers’ attention — and don’t add to the noise and clickbait crap out there!

I’d LOVE to have you subscribe and come back for more videos. Click the banner below and let’s stay in touch! 

why your content marketing isn't working

Why Your Content Marketing Isn’t Working (Video)

Content marketing works. 🔥

I’ve talked about this and written about it for years in my blogs, guest blogs, emails, case studies.

The reality of blogging and content marketing ROI is growing greater year by year, as consumers get smarter and ad money goes down the toilet.

Just look at these three top statistics:

  1. Hubspot studied over 13,500 bloggers and found that the more blog posts published, the more inbound traffic publishers got to their website.
  2. In the same Hubspot study, it was found that an accumulation of more content brings more leads: companies that have published 401+ blog posts get 2x as much traffic as those that have less than 400.
  3. The current ROA (return of advertising) is .6x, down from 11.8x in 2016. You’re losing money, most of the time, on ads. The ROI (return of investment) of organic content is anywhere from 14-16% of traffic (conversion into sales). (Ad Strategist)

But here’s the thing.

The average time span to see content marketing results can be 12-18 months.

After building up a repertoire of content, we’re seeing results – like ranking in the top 3 of Google results for “digital content strategy” in as little as 30 days.

So, faster results can happen, only if you build up the right foundations.

And here’s the secret about content marketing.

It doesn’t work if you don’t set it up to work.

Watch today’s video for three ways to set up your content marketing foundations to start earning (and seeing) real results online. ⬇️

Going crazy because your content marketing isn't giving you the ROI you're expecting? Watch as @JuliaEMcCoy shares her 3 simple yet effective ways to set up your content marketing foundations. Click To Tweet

Why Your Content Marketing Isn’t Working (Video)

Video Summary: How to Build a Strong Content Strategy for Your Content Marketing

Hi, I’m Julia McCoy. You can call me the content hacker. That’s the name of my new personal brand launching in June. I’m a growth-focused content marketer, the CEO of Express Writers, blogger, and author.

Thanks so much for joining me on today’s video!

Content Works – But It Doesn’t Work If You Don’t Set It Up to Work

I’ve been sharing those statistics that I shared with you at the beginning of this video for years now.

I’m here today, creating a video just for those still in the rut of zero action in their content marketing.

I’m calling you out because I care about you. Your success can happen — you might just a few feet away from content marketing greatness.

But here’s the thing.

If you’re not getting the fundamentals of great copy right, and you’re not stepping into consistency and greatness in content production.

All the while, complaining about the things you don’t have.

Not enough leads.

Not enough sales.

Not enough people on my website.

I can tell you, if you just sat down and fixed the content marketing problems staring you in the face —

Those leads…

Those sales…

Those people…

Would come.

The problem with most content marketers is that marketers think of content as a quick fix, instead of thinking of it as a fundamental, like building a house.

And they complain about all the things they wish they could have, while they’re ignoring this big, glaring situation of ignoring the fundamentals.

Which they could have — if they fixed their content.

If they stopped being absent on the company blog. If they got the broken areas of their website rebuilt. If they took another look at and fixed all that icky content written more than two years ago.

It’s time for content marketers to stop complaining about the leads, traffic, and sales they don’t have. And it’s time to start doing something about it.

Content marketing action-takers are the content marketing winners.

It’s time for content marketers to stop complaining about the leads, traffic, and sales they don’t have. 🛑 Content marketing action-takers are the content marketing winners. 📈 @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

My story is proof this can happen — and I’m a college dropout that learned all this by a ton of trial and error!

For 8 years, I haven’t missed a week in blogging. Guess what our results are? Over 90,000 monthly visitors and an income built 99% through our on-site traffic. Our traffic converts at 14-16%.

blogging case study express writers

We’re not the only story of success after content done right — we’re just one of many brands, completely built through content marketing! (See a case study of four marketers and teams that have built huge presences with content marketing.)

3 Ways to Start Turning Things Around and Seeing Real Success From Your Content Marketing

If you’re not seeing success from your content, here are three ways to immediately step it up and start seeing results. All of these three things require some time and effort, but they’re going to be worth it.

1. If your site isn’t fast, user-friendly, stable, well-built, or built at all — this is your first step.

Site speed and quality is everything.

Google has said that conversions drop by 12% per second of load time. The more time it takes to load your site, the less your lead, your human, will even stick around. Website time is money! A study done in 2017 showed that one full second can decrease conversion rates by 70%.

Use a tool like Pingdom to test your website speed.

Hire a good WordPress designer from platforms like Upwork to fix, clean or build your site, make it lightning-fast, Google-friendly, reader-friendly and beautiful.

You don’t need to spend more than $30-50/hour to get a great WordPress developer, and you can by the hour and work done. If you need a brand new site, expect to spend a minimum of $500 or $1000 for a solid, well-built 3-page website. More if you want them to build more content.

Get a great website. (Build one if you don’t have one. Rebuild one if yours is crap. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.)

2. Research and put together a keyword report. I do this weekly.

Think of finding the right SEO keywords like paving a driveway to your house and adding your house number on your mailbox. Without a house number, mail couldn’t get to you! Your friends wouldn’t be able to find your house! Without a driveway, people would have trouble getting to your house.

The same is true of building a site without doing keyword research. After 8 years of doing consistent SEO keyword research, I still find untapped keyword opportunities that no competitor or major industry publication has found yet! There are so many opportunities for low-hanging fruit that you can create great content around that will help your ideal audience member or even buyer find you and your site.

Remember, once you have SEO keywords researched, it will do you no good without great content formed around them. Get a writer to help re-haul all your content if it’s icky, or hire a writer to create some content for you! You wouldn’t leave remodeling the kitchen up to yourself and a friend, would you?

Maybe if you’re a professional contractor, you would. Don’t leave writing up to you and add it to your long to-do list, if it’s hard to make a priority OR if you’re not a professional writer by trade. Trust me — Google puts heavy emphasis on your content quality to rank your content.

3. Plan and set a consistent amount of content to happen on your site regularly.

The best way and easiest way to do this is through a blog. I have a goal of a minimum of one blog per week at the Write Blog. I’ve been able to commit to that for 8 years and running. Other marketers besides me have committed even longer!

Think about great images you can add to your blogs. You can even go for custom illustrations and have a designer create header sets for each blog in a branded color that matches your brand and logo. This is what we do at the Write Blog.

You’ll need to get your social media going, too. Share the posts you publish on your site.

That’s it! Three ways to see success from content marketing. Like I said, it’s a lot like building a house, not a cheap or fast trick to get traffic and sales. It’s a long-term commitment to see long-term success. But isn’t everything good in life like that? A marriage — you have to put in daily effort to love that person! Parenting — you have to spend time with your kid every day! Writing a book, building a business, on and on. So why are we trying to do anything different with our content marketing?

By the way, if you need content help, this is what we do every day at Express Writers. We write blogs, research keywords for our clients, plan out consistent content, design beautiful, custom imagery.

That’s it for today’s video! Want more content marketing real talk? Hit that subscribe button and tap the bell so you get notified right away when my new videos are out. Let me know what you thought of today’s video in the comments – I’d love to hear from you! See you next time.

Links to Studies Mentioned

Tools & Resources I Recommend in This Video

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how to build a content strategy

How to Create a Content Strategy for Your Content Marketing (Video)

With over 78 million people in the US alone blocking ads, garnering the term “adlergic,” creating smart content that reaches our target consumers has gotten more critical than ever.

Content marketing is smart marketing in an age where our consumers are looking for what they want, when they want it.

Content marketing WORKS tremendously well.

But, it doesn’t hit those HUGE return numbers without a smart content strategy.

The best content marketers use a strong content strategy. It’s true – Content Marketing Institute’s benchmark study says the most successful content marketers are far more likely than their less successful peers to have a documented content marketing strategy (65% vs. 14%)!

So, you have to know your content strategy to achieve real content marketing success.

Not sure how to do that? You’re in luck! Learn how to put together an effective content strategy for powerful marketing, in my new video.

Watch as @JuliaEMcCoy discusses the 6 cores involved in a high-performing content strategy for your #contentmarketing 📈 Click To Tweet

How to Create a Content Strategy for Your Content Marketing (Video)

Video Transcription: How to Build a Strong Content Strategy for Your Content Marketing

If you know me, you already know how much I LOVE content marketing. I’ve been preaching it, writing books about content strategy and marketing, and practicing it since 2011.

Heck, I’ve got ‘serial content marketer’ and ‘content hacker’ in all my social media bios.

I believe in content marketing and a smart content strategy because, simply put, it WORKS to build a real audience today. Content is one of the LOWEST-COST, highest-ROI marketing efforts you could be doing, especially if you focus on your onsite presence. SEO content leads have a 14.6% close rate, as opposed to outbound leads (1.7% close rate!)

Through a smart content strategy and content marketing, inside eight years, I’ve built a seven-figure digital agency. I haven’t had to show up to any office – at all – in those seven years. I haven’t had to cold call. I fired my commission sales rep over three years ago because content marketing works so well! Our story of growth through content has gone around town. Neil Patel has featured it on his site (this study is fairly old – we’re at 2,500 visitors/day organically now), and we were even interviewed and featured on Forbes.

BUT – before I got smart on my content marketing strategy, let me tell you, my content was a HOT MESS! I was publishing with no results, just hitting publish, publish, and in a hamster wheel of content efforts.

After figuring out our content strategy, I almost TRIPLED our agency’s monthly income!

Keep watching for the full story, and the lowdown on the six content strategy cores I still use today for powerful results.

Before we go any further, hit that subscribe button! I want you back here! Click on the banner below to visit my YouTube channel and subscribe.

The Backstory: Before I Put a Content Strategy In Place, Here’s What My Content Marketing Results Looked Like

Okay, so quick backstory before I go into the six content strategy cores you should be putting into practice for real content marketing results.

From my beginning year of 2011 all the way up until about 2015, I was a stressed-out, struggling marketer.

I was producing content in a whirlwind of deadlines, just to keep my “online presence” afloat.

My agency made money, and we got leads… but not enough. It always seemed we’d ride by with nothing to show for it each month.

Why can’t my marketing WORK? I’m creating content daily! I was thinking to myself.

Fast-forward to 2016. After working for five years in my agency, I decided a “spray-and-pray” approach just wasn’t good enough. I settled in, stood back, and taught myself how to be strategic. I tested, analyzed, and surveyed. Then, I applied a series of strategic moves to my content marketing, started publishing less, and focused on the right things.

And it paid off…

  • In less than 18 months, I reached 150% MONTHLY revenue growth.
  • Our team and client base grew by 25%, we now have almost 90 team members, and we have new clients coming in every week after finding us through our content.

Getting strategic with our content has truly paid off.

We don’t have to sell ourselves anymore — our content does the selling.

These six content strategy cores are the reason our marketing is so successful. Let’s get into them.

The 6 Cores of a Successful Content Strategy

At a birds-eye, here are all six:

  1. Your Content Marketing Fundamentals
  2. Your Audience and The Sales Cycle
  3. Know Your SEO
  4. Build Online Authority Consistently
  5. Create Content that Actually Works to Build Your Audience, Presence, and Revenue
  6. Budget, Promote, and Maintain for Consistent Success

Did I mention that these aren’t quick overnight hacks? They truly aren’t. Let’s get into a bit more detail.

First, fundamentals. Everything you create in content marketing is stronger with a good foundation. You should spend a minimum of one week just planning before you create.

Here are a few fundamentals to know. First, know your topic area to build content inside of. Or, if this is for a client, this is their topic area. Center this around your expertise, and then branch out to what your audience wants to hear from you about. So if you sell shoes, don’t talk about shoes. Talk about health and fitness apps, knee health maintenance, and warmup exercises for runners.

Also, know your Content Differentiation Factor. What makes you different from the rest of the crowd? How can your content stand out? I talk more about this here: How to Find Your Brand’s Unique Content Differentiation Factor and Use It to Your Advantage

Secondly, get to know your audience and be able to connect them to the sales cycle. Build a real audience persona by conducting market research surveys. Get to know your audience like you would a friend. Then, find out what interests them at the three stages in the sales cycle, from awareness to intent, evaluation, purchase, and loyalty.

Thirdly, get to know your SEO. Know how to research for a great keyword. Know how to write well-optimized SEO content. This is the fundamental knowledge you have to have to build incredible onsite content that brings traffic and growth in your future months. Set up your tools and time to consistently research keywords. Look for long tail keywords instead of broad keywords.

Fourthly, build your online authority consistently by focusing on a strong content house, where everything you create will live. This is your website, not another publisher’s platform that can take away publishing rights or reach. Everything you create on your house is lasting and will domino to more results over time.

Fifthly, learn how to create content that works. Delegate and get support at this stage. My agency, Express Writers, writes for hundreds of marketers and agencies. Maybe you need a writing team to craft high-quality blogs and website pages. You need to get consistent to see results, and you need to create worthwhile, valuable content.

Sixth and finally, set a content budget, promote the content on your house to your email list and social media, and maintain (clean, take care of) your content for ongoing success.

Now, this was just a bird’s-eye view of all six cores. I do have a 60-minute training that goes over each one of these content strategy cores, which you can access immediately here. Just put in your email address and you’ll instantly receive an email with the video file to watch on demand. You don’t have to show up at a certain time or day.

P.S. Did you see our new intro in today’s video? My husband got that footage with me with a drone right here in Austin, Texas. The bridge is called the Pennybacker Bridge, over the Loop 360 highway. If you’re ever in Austin, give me a shout! And don’t forget to hit that subscribe button, and the little bell to get notified for my new videos. See you around!

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how to write a great video script for youtube

How to Write a Great Video Script for Killer YouTube and Marketing Videos

Here’s a crazy statistic about the state of video:

More video content is uploaded in 30 days than the major U.S. television networks have created in 30 years. (Insivia)

And: 147 million Americans watch video on the internet, according to Nielsen.

Well, you might ask… But does this mean video content is being consumed by our audience?

Glad you asked.

Yes, yes it does.

  • 46% of users take some sort of action after viewing a video ad (Online Publishers Association)
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online (ComScore).
  • 96% of B2B organizations use video in their marketing campaigns, and 73% of those organizations report positive results to their ROI (ReelSEO).
  • Real estate listings that include a video receive 403% more inquiries than those without.
  • 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video.
  • 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text (Forbes).

Let’s be honest –  if you’re ignoring video, you’re missing out.

Words are great and all, but in written form they can be a little overwhelming at times. Even if text is broken up by spaces and cool pictures, our consumers want a different way to digest information.

Source: BestAnimations

This is not (at all) to say written content is falling out of favor. In fact, written content is needed more than ever, with 85% of Facebook videos watched on mute and the captions read. Don’t forget that 47% of buyers read 3-5 blogs before interacting with a sales rep. So when it comes to the inbound marketing process, the written word is #1.

Did you know... 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video. And 59% of executives would rather watch video than read text. Learn how to plan and script your best video via @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

For us, that primary format will never change (you’re reading a blog right now!). 99% of our customers come through our inbound content, and have for eight years now, so we know that it works.

Videos are a trending content type because of a fundamentally human element that makes them much more relatable. Plus, it’s easy to consume them. Click play, sit back, enjoy.

It’s as easy as that – no wonder people enjoy video content. It’s why people flock to sites like YouTube, whether they want to be entertained, informed, or both. About 1.9 billion logged-in users visit YouTube each month.

Last September, I started focusing on growing my YouTube channel, and have remained committed to a minimum of publishing two new videos/monthly. (We publish 1-2 blogs per week, so those continue to take precedence.) I’ve seen incredibly great organic reach from it, solid traffic and even leads come our way – and even better returns after getting more strategic with my script and strategy. I’ll cover some of the strategies I use on a regular basis in today’s guide.

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably looked to master most of the popular content types out there. Blogs, news articles, and web pages are all important. However, knowing how to write a great video script is also valuable. Think of it this way – a video isn’t an alternative to a written content piece. Instead, it’s a creation based off a well-written video script.

Today we’ll go over how to write a great video script. Planning, creation, promotion – we’ll cover everything from beginning to end.

Learn how to write a great video script for better marketing videos, from planning to creation and promotion, in @JuliaEMcCoy's new guide. 📹 Click To Tweet

how to write a great video script for youtube videos

Creating a Great Video Script: The Complete Guide

1.    Defining Marketing Explainer Videos (and Their Benefits)

2.    How to Ideate Your Video – Matching Ideas to Goals

3.    How to Create Your Script – Drafting an Outline and Beyond

4.    Producing and Publishing Your Video

5.    Final Thoughts to Make Your Video a Success

how to write a video script

What is a Marketing Explainer Video? Why Should You Make One?

“You want me to buy this? Well, why should I?”

“Uh, well, let me explain that…”

We’ve all been on one side of this dialogue at some point – maybe both. If you’re the person who is trying to explain how your good or service could benefit a potential buyer, hopefully your explanation is organized well enough so you don’t start the answer with “uh.”

Sometimes we’re told the answer to this question should be organic – and in a way, that’s right.

Yet, when we’re making a video, we want to sound like we’re reading from a script. The script is the key to a good video, especially one detailing a product or service.

Image from IdeaRocket

A good explainer video uses time efficiently – saying exactly what the listener is looking to hear by tackling the important points in direct succession.

Consider these tips when you want to make an explainer video:

  • Be Concise: You can be descriptive, but try to start with a simple 1-2 sentence pitch that summarizes your product and what it does.
  • Know Your Audience: Focus on who you are writing to – but more importantly, focus on what problem you can solve. People watch explainer videos to find out how you can help them. Be specific, and cut to the chase quick.
  • Consider Consulting Outsiders: Sometimes it helps to have a fresh perspective when writing your script. When in doubt, ask previous customers for feedback.

When you’re looking to create a great script, you have a few options. You can look for a sample video script to fill in, or use it as inspiration for your own template.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before we start writing the script, let’s talk about the research portion.

julia's video script

Step One: Ideate Your Video – Matching Ideas to Goals

The great thing about writing a video script is that you start the same way you would if you were writing a blog, product description, social media post, or any other type of copy.

Strategy should precede a #video, just as it should any other content type. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Strategy is your foundation for any content piece. I’ve talked previously about my 3-bucket topic strategy. It’s a way of connecting your ideas to your goals.

This means your creativity will be geared to translate to ROI.

Here’s a preview of the strategy. I teach a detailed step-by-step usage of the 3-bucket strategy in its entirety in my comprehensive Content Strategy & Marketing Course.

different content types and their goal buckets

Follow this format, and your script will always serve one of three purposes. The first is to help your video appear higher in search results – yes, SEO matters in videos, but more on that later.

The second is to make sales or build connections that can facilitate sales. The final one is to build awareness about your brand and what it can offer. If you’re really talented, you can translate your ideas into a script that accomplishing two or even all of these goals.

Your ideas should hit at least one of these goals. If it doesn’t, it may be time to rethink it. Luckily, if you’re going for an explainer video based on a product or service, you’re likely to hit one of these goals with relative ease.

As with any content you write, your goal is to coordinate your creative efforts in a way that drives real results:

  • You want your video to rank higher in search results
  • You want your video to increase sales and lead generation
  • You want your video to grow your brand’s reputation

Think about what someone searching for your video would type into YouTube or Google. Concentrate on how your video’s topic can solve the viewer’s problem. And last, but not least, make sure your brand’s values are represented when you’re scripting the video.

Speaking of which – let’s move on to tips for starting your killer video script.

Step Two: How to Write a Great Video Script for YouTube & Other Platforms Based Off an Outline

I did say that strategy should precede a video script just as it should any other content type. There’s another familiar tactic that translates as well to script writing as it does to blogging, social media marketing, and anything else – formatting and creating an outline.

Check out this opening to one of my own personal video scripts:

Here’s how the content translated to video. I don’t read an actual script, so I simply read and re-review and commit to memory before getting on camera.

This sample video script excerpt uses a simple but strong opening. As soon as you click play, you find out who I am, what I do, and how I can help you.

Then, directly after, you find out the seven specific content types you’ll be learning about. Viewers appreciate when you get things going quickly, and give them an overview of what they’ll be learning about if they continue watching.

Knowing how to write an explainer video script with a strong start is critical for keeping your viewers around. YouTube’s algorithm is smart – if it sees people are sticking around, you’ll have higher retention rates and thus your video will rank higher.

Like this script format? I created an example in Google Docs. Download it here!

While we’re mentioning YouTube specifically, it’s good to mention why we’re optimizing the script for this platform. YouTube’s numbers speak for themselves – over 5 billion videos are watched on the site each day. There’s no danger of running out of original content either, as over 300 hours of videos are uploaded to the site every minute.

This is a double-edged stat, though. While it means you have a big audience to appeal to, they need to find you first. This brings us to the first sub-topic of discussion when you’re writing your script.

Question: Does SEO Matter for Video Scripts?

It’s easy to think that since your words will be spoken rather than written by the time they make it to YouTube that keywords don’t matter. But, think again – SEO matters in your script, your headline, your tags, and your video description.

Not sure how to find the right keywords for your YouTube video? You could always go with the tried and tested keyword research tools like KWFinder and SEMrush. However, there are more video-specific tools out there you can use.

I recommend VidIQ – there’s even a free version you can try.

example of vidiq

VidIQ on my channel. The insights are amazing!

This tool works as an extension for Chrome, automatically giving you insights about the best keywords. While there is a free version, the lowest-priced paid plan is a great deal. Known as the Pro version, it offers more analytics and research tools for only $7.50/month. I pay for the Pro. The insights you get in keywords and YouTube SEO alone is worth it.

The video example in our template above shown ranking #4 in YouTube! The VidIQ insights are awesome.

While you still only have room for one user and one channel, you get double the competitor tracking (6) and additional features like a keyword research tool, historical analysis, and stats on trending videos.

SEO is important for video scripts for the same reason it is important in any other type of content. If you know what your audience members are inputting into the search engine, you make it easier for them to find your video.

julia's video script

Additional Tips for Fleshing Out Your Video and Script Pre-Publishing

You have your format, your intro, and your keywords – but that doesn’t mean you’re finished. When you’re fleshing out the script, there are a few critical things to remember.

  • For starters, consider length. You want to keep the length at around 8-10 minutes MAX. If you can say what you need to with less, feel free. Some companies like to keep their explainer marketing videos around 2 minutes. However, when you go up to the 6 minute mark, you gain more opportunities to connect with your audience.

If your video is creeping up to the high end of this frame, you want to make sure you have plenty of supporting graphics to keep things interesting.

Here’s an example of what my editing process looks like, before my video goes to my producer. I love Camtasia TechSmith for this process. So easy and simple to use!

You’ll notice the main track is peppered throughout with graphic overlays, which ensure the visuals are not changing too sporadically, but not remaining so constant the viewer becomes disengaged.

  • Use pictures and animations, as this is the fun of videos. Remember, you’re treating your viewer to a visual and auditory presentation. Get creative, and let your artistic side shine when it comes to choosing what graphics you’ll feature throughout the video.

Even something as simple as supporting images and charts can do the trick for making your video memorable and keeping your viewer engaged until the very end.

  • There’s even room to be creative with your soundtrack. Granted, knowing how to write a music video script requires a bit of a different skillset than when you’re writing an explainer script – but a good audio backing track or smartly placed sound-cues can still be great additions.

I leave

Reminder: Simplicity Over Flare, Benefits Over Features

The final point to cover for script writing involves the KISS method.

Keep it short and simple – we already talked about the value of being concise, but don’t get so focused on flare that your video’s effects overshadow its substance.

Simplicity isn’t just good for video scripts – it’s good for marketing in general. Over the past decade, publicly traded brands in the Global Brand Simplicity Index top 10 have outperformed major indexes by a whopping 433%. More consumers (62%) are prepared to pay more for a simple experience.

Images, effects, and any creative elements should be secondary to the message itself. The message should always be focused on benefits – not features. Viewers don’t want to hear you explain how many thing your product can do. They want to know how it can help them.

Ten fancy product features won’t be as impactful as one user-focused benefit as the focal point of your presentation.

Simplicity over flare, benefits over features. This and more #video tips in @JuliaEMcCoy's guide Click To Tweet

Step Three: Production and Publishing Tips for Finalizing Your Video

Your marketing explainer video should be concise, punchy, and based off a well-researched format. This can greatly increase its chances of being successful.

We’ve got one more critical area to discuss – production and publishing. Let’s start with the importance of having the right people around you. I use the same producer, a wonderful video expert Renata Franco, for all my videos. She does an amazing job on my final production with music, on-screen text, an intro, and combining any B-roll that I have. And that’s why I recommend just as you may consider hiring a video script writer, you should put as much thought into hiring a producer.

Producing a video is a very involved task. The process has many steps, including:

  • Formatting: Formatting your video for production means setting the aspect ratio and FPS, as well as making sure all your audio tracks are leveled properly.
  • Effects: You can add effects during the mixing and export process – this is a great time to give the video that final polish, such as using a mastering toolkit to boost the audio, or adding captions during each of your main talking points.
  • Trimming: In some cases, you may need to eliminate small parts at the beginning or end of your clips. You may even have to get rid of some altogether if it means keeping the video within a specific time limit.

Even if you don’t hire a producer to do all these things for you, you can hire them for their oversight. You can be the one at the controls, and use their expert input as a guiding point. You can also do the opposite – have them do the production work with your input being the guiding force behind the decisions.

What about tools? We already discussed a great tool for finding keywords as part of the scripting process, but which tools are most helpful for producing the video itself? Let’s talk about three main tools you should consider:

  • Camtasia: TechSmith’s Camtasia is a video tool that can do almost everything. It’s an easy way to record your screen, and it can also be used for editing videos on both Windows and Mac. There’s a free trial available, and the software is intuitive enough that even newcomers can pick up on it quick. It’s also loaded with other features video creators will love.

  • YouTube Beta Studio: Touted as the new home for creators, this platform lets you manage your channel and observe insights all from one place. It replaces the long-running Creator Studio, and gives you plenty of features to use for both research and publishing.

  • Ahrefs: This handy SEO tool is great for writing video descriptions. Before you hit that publish button, make sure you have a stunning description. It may seem like a small amount of text, but it has a big impact on your video’s ranking potential.

These are just a few of the popular tools you can use for the publishing process. Publishing may not be exactly what you think of when you’re looking to learn how to write a great video script. However, it’s an integral part of the process for making your video a success.

Final Thoughts: Scripts Are the Foundation of a Winning Video

When you see those videos that pull in millions of views, tens of thousands of likes, and hundreds of shares each day, you know a lot of work went into them.

But it isn’t just about sitting in front of a camera and being great at improv. It’s about taking the time to write a script – one that speaks to your viewer and gives them valuable information.

Learning how to write an explainer video script takes time. You’ll also learn what works and what doesn’t as you go along, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself for the first time – or even the first few times.

Like any other content type, video scripts require research, formatting, a focus on SEO, and an ability to mix creativity with technical insight.

Knowing how to write a script for an explainer video that takes YouTube by storm takes study and practice. But when your video starts bringing in those views, likes, and subscriptions, you’ll know it was all worth it.

When it starts bringing in brand awareness, search engine rankings, and sales potential, you may feel like writing scripts for an entire series.

Need help writing an engaging video script? That’s a creative writing task our team of 90+ expert writers can handle. We’ve written video scripts for insurance companies and many more. See our pricing here!

video script services

how to write awesome emails video

How to Write Awesome Emails that Get Opened and Nurture Trust (Video)

In today’s video, I’m covering a critical content type — the email!

In this guide, complete with a demo of how I craft emails in ConvertKit, I’ll cover how you can construct emails that will nurture and build real trust with your audience, as well as elicit action and encourage them to take next steps.

As I was preparing the topic and material for today’s video, I thought what better way to actually show you emails that work than to go into my email campaigns and talk about the ones that have really done well. So, that’s what we’re going to do! Ready? Let’s get into it.

Watch as @JuliaEMcCoy demonstrates high-converting #emailmarketing campaigns using @ConvertKit 📈 Click To Tweet

How to Write Awesome Emails that Get Opened and Nurture Trust (Video)

Video Transcription: How to Write Awesome Emails that Get Opened and Nurture Trust

In today’s video, I’m really excited to cover a critical content type – the email!

I use ConvertKit. It starts around $29 a month for 1,000 subscribers and I highly recommend it if you’re considering email marketing, and you want a software that’s super easy to use. Now there are other alternatives like Active Campaign, Campaign Monitor, MailChimp. Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link to ConvertKit. But, if you use that link you’re helping support me so I can continue to create free information like this. This is a tool I personally use, so I can tell you it works!

There are two main types of emails I like to send:

  • The blog and video share (Useful Email)
  • The promotion share (Sales Email)

80% of the time I’m sending useful content to my list, and 20% or less of the time I’m sending promotional sales emails that have an offer attached.

Now I find that promotional emails work best when they’re sent to a segmented audience and in sequential order. That means a one-off offer that you send to your list while that can drive results, doesn’t work as well as if you segment your list and target the right offer to them at the right time. Much of this is just learning as I go. So what you’re looking at here are all the emails I sent, you can see that I send them on a regular basis. They’re spread apart by a few days.

My rule is at least one useful email a week and I usually send more than that, so whenever I send videos this is what an informational or useful email looks like, I keep it really short and I’ll include an image to the video and then a link. Now for my blog content I don’t include images, it seems to work better whenever I keep my content super light and that just means not a ton of links, not a ton of images. Over time emails have grown to masses. There are so many emails that are sent out by marketers on a regular basis, so you really don’t have a lot of time to get and hold the attention of your audience.

Experts like Brian Dean, Joanna Wiebe, I see them sending shorter and shorter emails. It seems like our shorter emails are doing well as well, so this is what a useful email looks like and what I do to keep these super simple, I’ll give you a little secret, I actually pull the intro of my blog, the first six or seven sentences. Seriously, that’s my email. So it takes no time at all to plug it in, add a link, add a little footer and then this little P.S. which I like to add to relevant blogs, I keep it out if it’s really not relevant, but I’ll add a P.S. to our services or one of the courses I teach as long as it relates to the topic right here in my useful piece of content. So something like this out of 5,400 subscribers it got 75 clicks and the open rate was almost 14%, that’s pretty good for an email to get 75 people clicking on our link for us.

All lists are different, if you’re building yours organically from the start you’re probably going to see better results. Over time you want to clean up your email, you want to just delete people that aren’t even reading it. We did that a few months ago and our open rate skyrocketed, it was as bad as 5%, now it’s as high as like 14% and here 21%. What you’re seeing here, I’ll just walk you through some more techniques that we use, this is resending something to people that do not click and you can actually do that in ConvertKit by resending to the people that haven’t opened it, so here’s what you can do. You click on the broadcast, resend to un-opens, you can edit the content and then just hit schedule and it’ll actually send your email to everyone that didn’t open it the first time.

When it comes to a sales email I’ve noticed that Saturday and Sunday nights do really well for open rates on offers. We try to be really straightforward with our offers. So a link to it, here’s another link and here’s a third link, and we add this little thing if you don’t want to hear from us anymore you can actually click here and what this does is as soon as they click, this is just a really simple page we set up on our site, as soon as they click on that there is a little trigger in the automation section that unenrolled or that adds everyone that clicks on this to a tag.

When it comes to a sales email, I've noticed that Saturday and Sunday nights do really well for open rates on offers. We try to be straightforward with our offers. @JuliaEMcCoy on #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

Remember, short and sweet for informative videos, keep it super light, if you do use an image try to only use one and with offers definitely experiment, experiment on times to send, try to segment your list, try to tag people in your email software and only send your offers to people that are actually interested.

Sales emails should be sent 20% of the time, send your useful emails a lot more often. Remember consistency is key. When you’re sending content you really want to send something to your list at least once a week and continue to build it over time. You need to know how to write a useful email that all comes down to keeping things short, sweet and simple, because people don’t really have a lot of time to go through a long email anymore. They have a very short amount of time, so you want to get them interested and then give them whatever you want to give them right away. And remember lead magnets are such a great way to build your list, we have consistent growth organically now every single day from our lead magnets.

I hope that you’ll subscribe, leave me a comment, tell me what you thought! I love hearing from you. Let me know what you thought in the comments, and I hope to see you around!

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We write high-quality ebooks and lead magnets, and we have talented email conversion writers. Click on the link to see our pricing and services.

what is content writing

What is Content Writing? How to Write 7 Timeless Types of Online Content (Video)

In today’s video, I’m covering a popular how-to topic in the world of online content.

Specifically: what is content writing, and how to write the seven types of timeless online content that apply directly to the online growth of a business.

Let’s get into it!

Video Notes: What is Content Writing? How to Write 7 Timeless Types of Online Content (Video)

In my first book, published back in 2016 called So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Content, I cover the seven types of content.

These are:

  1. Web content
  2. Blogging
  3. Social media
  4. Ad and sales copy
  5. Expert, or industry writing
  6. Journalistic/news writing
  7. Creative writing

These still apply today, and in the next few minutes, I’m going to explain what these content types are and how they apply specifically to an online business presence today, as well as writers looking to grow their experience and offerings by learning these content formats.

1. Web content

Think of content writing like building a house. In this analogy, web content is the foundation. Web content, which includes the content on your home page, landing page, about us page, contact page, and more is the foundational content that every company needs to build an online presence. Without this, readers can’t find the information they’re seeking about your company, and the rest of your content strategy has nothing to build on. These pages are critical to develop.

The skills a writer needs to write solid web page copy are SEO writing knowledge, to use those important keywords well in the copy, as well as engaging and conversion-friendly writing skills. Good web page copy should be about the customer, never just about the brand or product.

2. Blogs

If web content is the foundation, blogging is the structure and rooms of the house.

Blogging is a primary category of content that provides context for an audience, helps build SEO presence, and gives businesses a way to nurture their leads with a source of fresh, consistent content.

Did you know… Companies that blog 11 or more times per month gain more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only four-five times a month (Source: Hubspot)

Not only do blogs showcase your brand personality, but it also helps readers get a sense of who you are, what you care about, which topics to cover, and how much value you can provide for them, or not.

Blogging is an essential type of online content writing, and when it’s done correctly, it can dramatically increase your views, your return on investment, and your overall success. There is no one-size-fits-all format for a blog. Instead, there are multiple styles of blogs including list blogs, “how to” blogs, “what to avoid” blogs, and more. By mixing and matching your blog goals and formats, you can build brand awareness as well as achieve SEO ranking goals. Read more about content goals here.

3. Social Media

Think of social media as a supporting content player: it’s not enough for a company to only have a social media presence, but companies without any social media presence whatsoever typically do not make it very far in today’s social dominated culture.

A lot of people finding brands online for the first time are going to go click on their Twitter icon, their Facebook page, to see what that company is ‘really’ like on social media. And that can really play into their purchasing decisions.

We do well on Twitter and have expanded our profile reach to millions of users by starting a Twitter Chat called #ContentWritingChat.

My Twitter presence, my personal brand profile at @JuliaEMcCoy, brings in leads that have bought my courses and books.

Our brand’s Twitter profile at @ExpWriters has brought in agency leads.


Social media works! A good social media writer will blend fun, engaging copy, emojis, and short sentences to promote a brand’s blog posts, events, or message.

Some social media managers can even be paid to write captions. There is software that exists to discover trending hashtags.

The world of content in social media alone is so much! Finding the right platform and staying on a consistent schedule with copy and visuals is key.

4. Advertising & Sales Copy

Ad and sales copy bring the curb appeal to your products and services. This kind of copy is created to showcase the unique attributes of your brand “home” to people on the outside. Advertising and sales copy applies to companies in all industries, and takes many forms, from a long-form Facebook ad to a promoted tweet on Twitter or a paid campaign on LinkedIn.

One of my sales pages that has brought in thousands of dollars in sales is this one. However, when it comes to sales copy, remember that building an audience and trust comes first. Today’s advertising and sales copy that brings in real revenue is also written in less of a ‘pushy’ sales tone. Instead, it should read like an approachable message for a friend. Good ads are segmented to the right audience at the right time; they are not manipulative, and they’re not misleading.

A writer learning to write good sales copy should study the best. Joanna Wiebe and Copyhackers.com is a great resource for learning more about sales copywriting.

5. Expert Copy

Think of expert copy like the fine art collection inside the home. At some point or another, all companies need expert writing. This is the higher level writing you encounter on the web. Specific industries, for example, may need a high-level ghostwriter that knows the nuances of their niche. Authorities in marketing need a writer that can ghostwrite for them, in their voice, for their blog. Without expert writing, companies place their authority and relevance at risk, and may even be walking out onto thin ice with Google, which now looks for expert quality in content as a ranking standard.

Writers looking to get hired as expert writers can absolutely charge higher rates than a generalist, and should have a specific industry they can speak with knowledge in–example, a former attorney writing legal blogs, or a former chiropractor writing holistic blogs about chiropractor care.

6. Journalism & PR Writing

Critical for any company that wants to get the word out about newsworthy events, brand new products, or company changes, journalism and PR writing serves the essential purpose of sharing company news.

Think about building a new house: if you never invited anybody over, nobody would be able to see the hard work you put into the home. Your artwork, furnishings, paint job, construction would go unnoticed by everybody but you. This is where journalism and PR writing comes in. Through press releases, for example, companies of all sizes and shapes can “invite people in.”

Some say that press releases are dead. They are, if you’re using them for SEO. Just trying to get a PR to rank for a keyword doesn’t work anymore. If you’re trying to spread the news of something newsworthy, they do work, and so they really aren’t dead or dying. See the description for a link to a press release we published just last year that did really well.

7. Creative Writing

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

Creative writing is blending the best of a writers’ talents such as writing stories, humorous and appropriate jokes, puns, etc. and using that in one of the other formats. For example, here’s a creative pun our social media copywriter, Krystal, wrote for our social media content. This is creative content, but it was used for social media.

In my agency, at Express Writers, we’ve seen a growing need for creativity among all the projects we take on. While clear and customer-focused copy beats trying to be too clever without a purpose, there is a real demand for writers that can tastefully create colorful, creative content.

If you want to know more about these seven content formats, get a copy of my book on Amazon!

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express writers may 2018

2.4 Million Words Written in May: 3 Lessons Learned from Express Writers’ Highest-Earning Month (Video)

Whew! It’s been quite a year already, friends!

Today, I’m here to share with you on video three of my biggest lessons on why my agency, Express Writers, achieved its highest-earning month in business ever this May 2018.

This May marked our official 7-year business anniversary. Inside that one month, we wrote over 2,482,650 words, and earned over $186,000 in sales. For the month, we created almost 5,000 pieces of content! That doesn’t even include the content strategy and social media services we also did for our clients for the month.

Compare that to a month prior, in April, when we wrote 1.9 million words, or in January of this year, when we wrote 1.8 million words.

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Our business grew by 150% inside just one month!

And, we’re seeing the momentum stick around for June!

How did we do it?

Dive in to today’s video. (Stick around for the third and most important lesson at the end!)

express writers

2.4 Million Words Written in May: 3 Lessons Learned from Our Highest-Earning Business Month Ever (Video)

Lesson #1: Everything Comes Together When You Have the Pieces

The first lesson from achieving a record month: everything comes together when you have the pieces.

Let me explain.

There’s this zone, when you’re starting out in business, where everything is hard. You know, it’s hustle, hustle, hustle. Find the right people, there’ll be churn, maybe you outsourced to the wrong people and lose a few steps…but I can tell you, if you keep coming back from that, you WILL find all the pieces eventually. Running a successful business is a matter of sheer determination and perseverance despite all the odds.

Thomas Edison said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

One major piece we were missing was making our clients feel like they were part of a brand that really knew what they were doing. I’d published multiple books, had a course out, was known in the industry, and we have some of the best industry standards as an agency for finding and training great writers. But, we still had clients treating us like crap and many that we’d have to chase down and remind them to buy.

We solved that piece recently. On the first week of May, we shut our Content Shop down and opened our services to invitation only. Read the full announcement here: Celebrating 7 Years in Business, Our Story, & Announcement: We’re Now Taking New Clients By Invitation Only

This made a VAST improvement, almost right away, in the interactions we had with clients and the sales we were making. Clients treated us like they had to earn our trust! It was wonderful. Sales improved, and the way my staff is treated has improved. We still interact with a few stragglers that like to be keyboard warriors, but overall, the change in closing down our services and having our staff manually approve new clients has been hugely positive for us.

Lesson #2: Get Strategic With How You Serve Your Customers to Grow Your Income

The second lesson I’d share from achieving our record month is that when we got strategic with how we served our customers, our income grew.

#1 we found the right people. #2 our managers knew what they were doing, they had history with our clients, and they thought strategically. So for example, instead of trying to scramble at the last minute to deliver a service, they figured out how to track our writers’ availability better and have our clients’ content tasks more strategically distributed.

Remember, everything is harder at the beginning because you probably don’t know what you are doing! That was me, literally, the first 4-5 years in business.

The minute I had a clear picture on the fact that we needed to get strategic with how we serve our clients, our income grew.

If you don’t have a strategy in place for every part of your deliverables, GET ONE IN PLACE. Know what you’re delivering, when, and get all those little pieces in-between figured out. Pay for software to help you organize deadlines if you need to. It’ll be worth it.

Lesson #3: Find Your Top 1-2 Priorities to Retain & Keep Clients

The third lesson from our biggest month in business might surprise you.

If I was to ask you, as a writing agency, what do you think our most important priority should be, what would you say? Quality content? Reaching out to new leads daily? Staffing the best writers? All of those are important, but I can tell you there’s one thing that we see is absolutely critical to earning our client’s business. Well, two things really.

Fast and effective communication as well as on-time service.

If we get that wrong in any way, chances are the client won’t be back. We can revise content if it didn’t match standards, and we have such high standards with our writers, we literally hire some of the best. So we’ve got that figured out, to an extent. But what we have to put as a #1 priority with our staff every day is fast, effective communication, and on-time deliveries of our content services.

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The Story Behind Express Writers: Julia McCoy, Founder Shares “From College Dropout to $4 Million”

99% of our sales here at Express Writers come through the content marketing we do.

I believe it’s possible, because I’ve done it.

Revenue-generating content marketing is not a myth, or some secret recipe that you have to be born into.

It’s what we do everyday, and I believe you can, too.

I’m Julia McCoy, and I’m a college dropout.

I’ve sold over $4 million dollars worth of content creation services to thousands of clients across the globe through the company I founded, Express Writers. Today I lead a team of 40 hand-picked writers, creators, and project managers.

More importantly, we have the best client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had, and we just had our biggest month in sales.

Just 6 years ago I started with nothing but $75, a hope, and a dream.

Here’s how I did it…

Because I’m on a mission to inspire you to achieve your dream even faster than I did.

The Story Behind Express Writers: Julia McCoy, Founder Shares “From College Dropout to $4 Million”

I was 19 years old and failing out of nursing school.

I didn’t have a safety net and nursing school was not going to work, so I asked myself: what do I love to do, and how can I make money doing it?

I love to write. By age 12, I’d written a 200-page medieval fiction novella. And at 13, I was teaching myself internet marketing, doing surveys for cash, learning basic computer skills. I walked around the neighborhood offering my services to the public. It worked out well, and I was earning $400 in a given month before I turned 16.

I jumped in.

In the next 3 months, I taught myself how to write, and I wrote over 250 articles for very cheap clients. But that was how I honed my early writing skills.

I also started learning a lot of SEO and content marketing back then.

More Work Than I Could Handle as a Freelancer

Two things happened:

  1. I discovered an untapped need in the marketplace when I combined content marketing with search engine optimization (SEO). Most of my competitors were frustrating clients by being one or the other. I blended the two disciplines to write content that positioned my clients as an authority AND turned into real sales, which led to…
  2. More work than I could handle.

And that’s when I started blogging regularly on my own site, expresswriters.com and found businesses willing to pay top dollar for lead generating content, and we grew.

I had one goal when I started my company back then: it was to find a group of writers who had passion in online writing, and who I could teach the elements of SEO and content marketing to, and we could learn and progress together, as a whole.

Getting Disowned by My Parents Led to a Better Future

You might say “oh sure, this was easy for you with your family’s support.”

The truth is, it wasn’t.

I didn’t have a safety net.

I grew up in a religiously suppressed home. My dad was the pastor of a church, and on my 21st birthday , my parents locked me in my bedroom with a letter telling me my life was worth nothing.

I shouldn’t have been born.

I was not allowed to lead a normal life, was told everything I did was wrong, and my business skills were looked down on.

Even though that was the only home I’d known, when I got that letter I knew that it wasn’t normal and I had to get out.

Six months later, my sister and I made the difficult decision to escape in the middle of the night. It was very heartbreaking, but it was the only shot I had to follow my dreams and chase my passions.

200% Growth for Express Writers in the Early Years

Completely bootstrapped, no outside funding, no family support, no safety net.. my content agency, Express Writers, grew 200% in the next few years.

The first year was $50,000, and in the next few years we hit $300,000, and last year we just surpassed $650,000.

Taught Through Failure = My Greatest Lessons for Success

As an entrepreneur, you often hear that failure precedes success.

Early in 2016, I discovered two trusted managers in my staff were embezzling. I fired them, rebuilt the team, over the next five months.

I learned that with a supportive environment, ongoing accountability for your staff, and most importantly, the right people, there is no limit to what you can do as a business. That experience taught me what it means to create a great company culture, and serve our clients with the best customer service.

The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, said “the secret to successful hiring is this: find the people that want to change the world.”

For me, that was finding people that shared my goal, a gigantic goal, of creating the best copywriting agency on the planet, and giving our clients the best content that they’ve ever gotten.

One of my biggest lessons was that it’s not about the job descriptions in your company, it’s about the environment and how your staff support each other.

The next big lesson is to constantly evolve. What helped grow our company in the beginning might not work today. For example, we had a terrific commissioned sales rep but I wanted a culture of cultivating great client relationships rather than a culture chasing end of quarter sales quotas.

I replaced our commissioned sales rep with a real content marketing expert, to do consulting and selling at Express Writers. After she was working here for a week, I checked in with one of our clients, and asked: Could you rate the difference in experience between the commissioned sales rep and our content expert? And he said that the difference was 100x better. I knew we were on the right track.

I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have in place today. We are greater than the sum of our parts.

There are no limits to what we can do as a company, because we’re learning and progressing together.

Our team is large but nimble enough to adapt quickly, which gives our clients the best service. We’re seeing the highest writer retention rates, we’re able to provide full time jobs for the writers we have, and we’re seeing the highest client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had as well.

What Is Your Biggest Success Secret in Entrepreneurism?

I think my biggest lesson as an entrepreneur and content marketer is that the right people, working next to you, make all the difference.

There’s also no I in SUCCESS.

There is an “US” in success, though.

You can’t move forward and hit your best success level by yourself. It’s just not possible.

I hope that this story inspired you!

Follow me at “JuliaEMcCoy” on Facebook, Twitter, and Julia McCoy on YouTube.

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express writers story

The Entrepreneurial Story: How I Founded Express Writers From $75, Grew a Successful Company Mindset, and My Greatest Lessons in Business (Video)

This very month, back in 2011, I was plowing the seed of an idea, hiring five writers, and coding my own website.

I decided to launch the idea, and came up with a business name in five minutes: Express Writers.

As we move into our 6th business anniversary (and my 7th in the industry), I thought it would be awesome to get on video and sharing the story behind Express Writers – on camera!

So, for the first (ever) video story that I’m finally doing, I’m sharing the story of how I started out in freelance writing at 19 then stumbled into creating Express Writers out of $75, a hope and a dream.

That was what I started with – and nothing more.

We’ve been bootstrapped all the way, learned some hard lessons, went through some crazy times, and came out stronger from every hard-knocks lesson learned. Today, we’ve served over 5,000 clients, and have grown by leaps and bounds: 200-300% year after year. This year, we were able to break all previous year’s records for client satisfaction rates and monthly income.

But the story behind Express Writers’ creation isn’t complete without the real, raw, personal side of my life that I chose to change for the better (a personal, forced lifestyle that I chose to leave – and if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog today.)

Here it is.

The real, raw, true story of how Express Writers came to be.

What made us, what shaped us, and what we’re doing today in the industry.

Enjoy.

The Entrepreneurial Story: How Julia McCoy Founded Express Writers From $75, Grew a Company Mindset, and Life Lessons in Business (Video Transcript)

I run a writing agency, and 7 years ago I started with nothing but $75, a hope, and a dream.

Today, we have the best client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had, and we just surpassed our biggest month in sales.

So, how have I been able to do it in such a competitive industry? Here’s my story.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Watch @JuliaEMcCoy’s #video story behind the creation of Express Writers. #entrepreneur” quote=”Watch @JuliaEMcCoy’s #video story behind the creation of Express Writers. #entrepreneur”]

express writers launch story

Everything started in my business back when I was 19. I was in the middle of nursing school, and I was failing miserably. One day I woke up, and I asked myself: what do I love to do, and how can I make money doing it?

I knew what the answer was in my heart: it was writing. That went back all the way before I was 12. I was always writing, and by age 12 I had a 200-page medieval fiction on a floppy disk. Along with that, I had early entrepreneurial roots. I figured out how to make money using the internet at 13: I was earning cash doing surveys. And by 16 – I don’t know where this idea came from, it was just in my head one day – I decided to go around the neighborhood and ask people if they needed help using their computer. I posted ads in the grocery store, and within a few days, I had several clients and I was making $40/hour at 16.

So at 19, when I found myself in the middle of college trying to get a degree that I didn’t even want, I decided I would just try to figure out online writing and make a career out of it. And the next three months, I taught myself how to write, and I wrote hundreds of articles for very cheap clients: but that was how I honed my early writing skills. I also started learning a lot of SEO and content marketing back then.

Before I knew it, I had more work than what I could handle. My next logical thought was, why not start a business? And Express Writers was born.

I had one goal when I started my company back then: it was to find a group of writers who had passion in online writing, and who I could teach the elements of SEO and content marketing to, and we could learn and progress as a whole. I noticed a phenomenon back then: a lot of so-called writers didn’t know the standards of how to write for SEO, or the reader. So I started my business with that one goal, and clients began to trust me and to look to me for SEO and content marketing advice. And that’s when I started blogging regularly on my site, expresswriters.com.

But the story is not complete without sharing a personal story. I grew up in a religiously suppressed environment. My dad was the pastor of a church, and at 21, I found myself locked up in my room by my parents and given a letter for my birthday that said I was a disgrace to my family. We were not allowed to lead normal lives, and my business was looked down on. So when I got that letter, even though that environment was the only thing I knew, I knew that it wasn’t normal and I had to get out.

So six months later, my sister and I made the decision to leave in the middle of the night. And we did. It was very hard, but I had the opportunity to go follow what I loved to do, and go follow my dreams and chase my passions once I got out of that environment.

I did that, and completely bootstrapped, without any outside funding, we grew 200% in the next few years. The first year was $50,000, and in the next few years we hit $300,000, and last year we just surpassed $650,000.

As an entrepreneur, you often hear that failure precedes success. And that’s not just a quote or a fun saying, that’s the truth. Early last year, I found out that two trusted managers in my staff were embezzling. I had to fire them, and rebuild the team, and that took 5 months of hard work.

I learned that with a supportive environment, ongoing accountability for your staff, and most importantly, the right people, there is no limits to what you can do as a business. That experience taught me what it means to create a great company culture, and serve our clients with the best customer service.

The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, said:

“The secret to successful hiring is this: find the people that want to change the world.”

And for me, that was finding people that shared my goal, a gigantic goal, of creating the best copywriting agency on the planet, and giving our clients the best content that they’ve ever gotten.

But in the five months of rebuilding, it was the hardest thing to find the right people. One of my biggest lessons was that it’s not about the roles in your company, it’s about the environment and how your staff support each other.

So when we were rebuilding our company culture that year, and with a goal to give our clients the best customer service we possibly could, I decided to let our commissioned sales rep go. And it was scary, because she was getting us sales, but she was chasing the sale instead of the relationship with our customers.

So I replaced the commissioned sales rep with an expert to do the consulting and the selling at Express Writers. I was honored to find an industry content marketing expert to join the team. After she was working here for a week, I went to one of our clients, and I was very straight up. I asked: Could you rate the difference in experience between the commissioned sales rep and our expert? And he said that the difference was 100x better. I knew we were on the right track.

So last year, even though we went through a lot, and it took 5 months to find the right people, when we found them there’s no limit now to what we can do as a company, because we’re able to learn and progress together. Our team is large but small enough to be able to do that, which gives our clients the best service.

So we’re seeing the highest writer retention rates, we’re able to provide full time jobs for the writers we have, and we’re seeing the highest client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had as well.

So, 3 lessons in business.

Everything changes when you find the right team. That’s #1. When you find the right people to work right next to you in the daily grind, work becomes delightful because you support each other. I’m so honored today to lead in my staff full-time a group of women that all share the same goal, to serve our clients best and to evolve and progress with the industry.

I encourage communication in my team. Even though we’re remote, we’re so close-knit. We have daily Skype threads that address the different topics we all talk about.

The second lesson in business is: in the trenches of failure, success is often born. Failure is really hard to go through, but I believe that it’s one of the greatest ways to learn the lessons that will teach you growth.

And the last lesson is, success is a progression. It’s not something you hit and plateau at, it’s a continual progression, something you work very hard at every day.

So this summer, a big goal of mine is to launch a course. I’m launching a content strategist certification course. I’m going to certify in content strategy, and I’m putting together everything I’ve learned in the last 7 years of finding the right keywords for your niche, what tools to use, how to use them to get your best content opportunities, how to find trending topics, how to put together an editorial calendar – which is what we get paid to do daily for our clients. So all of that is going into a course, and it will be out this summer. If you want to sign up to get notified, the link will be in the description of this video. 

Thank you so much for watching! You can follow me at @JuliaEMcCoy on Facebook and Twitter, and @ExpWriters on Twitter.

Conclusion

What did you think?

Go easy on me in the comments. 😉

I’d love to hear your feedback – I’m an introvert, so, video isn’t easy for me. You just might inspire me to do it more!

And don’t forget…

Update: September of 2017, my course officially launched! Learn about my certification course here: contentstrategycourse.com <—- I’m so excited about this! 

content strategy course cta