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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!

Need Help in the Content Creation Side of Content Marketing, Without Quality Loss?

Our team of writing experts at Express Writers is here to support your content creation!

We write high-quality content for marketers. See our expert blog rates here.

online content strategy

The 6 Steps You Need to Build a Rock-Solid, Lucrative Online Content Strategy Framework

Want to know the #1 way I grew Express Writers?

Two words, five syllables:

Content marketing.

Or, more specifically, consistent, strategic content marketing.

Online content strategy, a real, firm strategy, became my best friend to get to the “serious growth” phase.

The thing is, it took YEARS to figure out and perfect.

All the pieces had to come together, and I had to test, re-test, and test again to find out what worked (and, what didn’t).

When I figured it out, things snowballed.

Our income from Express Writers boomed to six-figures, and then to seven-figures ARR, inside just two years.

Here’s the story, and how I used my experience to get clear on EXACTLY what I needed to reach bigger, better, bolder success.

After that, I’m going to share the 6 steps I used to hone my online content strategy to a razor-sharp edge: the exact same system you can use to get crystal-clear on your own content and start seeing real results.

(What you’re about to read is a sneak peek into the six pillars of content success that I discuss and teach at length in my intensive content strategy & marketing book and course.)

online content strategy

Online Content Strategy Clarity Equals Success: From Near-Failure to Six-Figures after Getting Strategic

I started my business, Express Writers, from basically nothing – I was a college dropout with a dream and a mere $75 of pocket cash.

The beginning was hard. Here’s what that looked like, 2 years into the game:

By that time I had published 215 blogs, had 141 keywords ranking on Google, about 500 visitors/day to my site from organic traffic, and was earning around $29K/month.

I was creating content, but the results were lackluster.

I was doing a few things wrong:

  • My content quality wasn’t consistently high
  • I often published content just to “get it out there”
  • I was trying to push out TOO MUCH content (at least one blog post a day)
  • I was doing cold outreach to get more clients – and not earning any ROI for my time spent (read: the cold emails I sent out turned up nothing but crickets chirping)
  • I was trying to boost growth on every channel possible

In short, growth from content marketing was slow. I was hustling every day, snatching at leads wherever I could. And, the leads I did get from my content weren’t that good.

And, all of this was happening while I was a wife, a mom of a two-year-old, and had an understandably busy family life.

Bottom line: I was overworked and not seeing the results I dreamed of from my content.

The Turning Point: Enter Content Strategy

The turning point came in 2016. Our low-profit, high-expense months were not sustainable. We were making an average of $65K/month, but were lucky to take home 35% of that total.

Then, in May 2016, I discovered my two managers had been embezzling from the company for months.

I fired them. After that, some reassessing happened. I had to rebuild my business and my team.

It wasn’t until a few months later, while we were still slowly recovering, that I finally started implementing a content strategy.

With the combination of that strategy and better members on the EW team, we started seeing returns, slowly but surely.

We even started setting records for our monthly gross income.

  • Before using content strategy, I was publishing an average of 4 blogs/week. We had about 3,900 keywords indexed on Google, and we were making $65K/month, with some lower months after the embezzling fiasco.
  • One year later, and only a few months after implementing a content strategy, we hit our first $71K month in income. We also reached 6,000 keywords indexed on Google, which was nearly double the amount from the previous year.

And that momentum kept building as I refined my content strategy.

We continued having record months. Our Google presence kept building, and our online visibility skyrocketed. We started ranking #1 for hot keywords, and our traffic jumped to thousands of visitors per day.

Today, our content marketing continues to work and build on itself.

Without the strategy, though, none of it would be possible.

By now, you’re probably dying to know what that strategy looks like.

Listen up, because I’m sharing the 6 steps to my content strategy framework next. These steps build out the foundation of a rock-solid strategy.

6 Steps to Build an Unstoppable Content Strategy Framework

This is how you do content marketing that wins.

1. Understand the Basic Fundamentals of a Content Strategy

Content strategy defines as:

content strategy definition

If you don’t understand what a content strategy is, go back and get clear on this. It’s the only way you’ll also understand how content strategy fits into content marketing, and why the two cannot exist without each other.

Think of it this way: It’s impossible to succeed at any activity without a thorough base knowledge to guide you. Content strategy is no different.

You should also know what you’re talking about, and how to branch out into topics your audience wants to hear about. Finding your topic area is a fundamental first step in a content strategy.

Along with that, know your CDF – your Content Differentiation Factor. What makes you different than all the other content voices out there?

CDF content differentiation factor

2. Know Your Audience and How to Lead Them to a Sale (Bridge the Gap)

Knowing your audience is one thing, but knowing how to turn your audience into customers is another.

If you don’t understand how to bridge that gap, you’re missing out on one of the biggest first steps involved in putting your content strategy in place.

Of course, before you can connect the dots, you must know who your REAL audience is – not your imagined audience (only research and having actual conversations can tell you this!).

Once you know your persona, you can create content that matches the lifecycle stages of awareness, in the sales cycle. Example:

sales cycle content marketing

3. Use SEO (and Understand Its Importance)

Want to get found online? Including SEO in your content strategy is a foolproof way to do it organically, without paying a cent for ads.

Using SEO to get all its associated benefits means:

  • Knowing how to find keywords that will bring you profitable traffic (people with buying intent)
  • Knowing which tools to use to do keyword research
  • Understanding Google’s ranking factors and making sure your content hits them

You need to know the right tools and methodologies to use when you’re working on improving your search engine rankings. Keyword research plays a big part in this.

4. Build Your Gravitas Online (Be an Authority)

Building your authority online can have a few different meanings.

It can mean:

  • Building your brand as a trusted source of information
  • Building your brand as an authority website by Google’s standards

Both are valuable to your content strategy, and you should do things that help boost your gravitas in both scenarios.

Just one way to build your domain as an authority in Google’s eyes is to focus on publishing content on YOUR platform, i.e. a domain that YOU own – not proprietary ones like Facebook, Instagram, or HuffingtonPost (which sadly discontinued their guest blogging platform not too long ago–I, along with many others, lost my content profile and login).

Focus on your 'content house' to get better online results, says @JuliaEMcCoy. #ContentMarketing #SEOContent Click To Tweet

content house julia mccoy

5. Create Content Strategically

When the times comes to create content, guess what?

This is what your content strategy is FOR.

Every previous step should lead you in the right direction for creating the right kind of content for your audience and brand.

Of course, there are a few extra steps involved, like putting a workable process in place for content creation (research, writing, editing, publishing); understanding what kind of formatting, tone of voice, and topics lead to high-ROI; and placing quality above quantity.

6. Maintain + Build Your Content Momentum (Budget, Audit, and Promote)

To maintain your forward progress with content marketing and strategy, you must budget wisely, audit strategically, and promote faithfully.

These three activities will keep your content marketing going. Instead of drifting aimlessly in a boat with no paddles, you’ll be riding the next wave with a motor at your back.

  • Budgeting content is about planning your expenses wisely and knowing where your dollars are going. I.e., know how much outsourcing content costs, and budget for high-quality.
  • Google loves fresh content. Do content audits of old posts and update anything outdated or thin.
  • Content promotion gets more eyes on your content assets, which can result in more leads + sales. Promotion doesn’t have to cost much, either.

Remember, a content strategy needs constant work to keep moving. Update, budget, plan, and promote so your content marketing never goes stale.

This 6-Step Content Strategy Framework Is Just the Beginning (Join My In-Depth 60-Minute Class for More)

Once you have the 6 steps down for building a profitable content strategy framework, your content marketing can grow, and grow, and grow…

But only because you’ve taken the time to lay a rock-solid foundation to stand on.

If you rush these steps or skip one or two, you’ll find yourself back at square one. The whole thing will collapse.

Don’t let that happen.

Know the framework inside-out, build your strategy with steel instead of straw, and you’ll be far more likely to succeed.

In short, make sure you have this stuff down!

Get a deeper explanation of each step, plus tips and advice, when you join my 60-minute 6-Step Framework to a Profitable Content Strategy masterclass that covers this framework from front-to-back. This is a FREE, on-demand webinar that dives into each step to a profitable content strategy in one, information-packed hour. Choose a time that fits your busy schedule, and ask your burning questions live. Don’t miss it!

(And, grab a copy of my book on this topic (each chapter is an in-depth look at the six steps in this framework): Practical Content Strategy & Marketing.)

free masterclass cta

 

#ContentWritingChat

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Get More Mileage, Shares and Traction from Your Content Efforts with Susan Moeller

How would you like to get more mileage out of your online content? If so, you’re in the right place! That’s exactly what we discussed in this week’s #ContentWritingChat. Our participants shared tips for implementing an influencer strategy, how to increase social media shares, and tips for content efficiency.

Keep reading for all the amazing advice they had to share with us!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Get More Mileage, Shares and Traction from Your Content Efforts with Susan Moeller

Our guest host this week was Susan Moeller. Susan is the Business Development Manager over at BuzzSumo, which is a tool we love to use here at Express Writers. She had some valuable tips to share with us, which we’ve added to this week’s recap.

Q1: Do you think social media shares are a valuable metric to track? Why?

Do you pay much attention to the amount of shares you get on social media? Some of our chat participants found this an important metric to track, while others felt there were better things to focus on. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Susan feels social sharing is more of a vote for the relationship than the content itself.

A social share could mean someone deemed your content valuable enough to share it with their own audience, which definitely means a lot.

As Amanda pointed out, social shares from those who have authority or relevancy in your field can really help generate awareness.

When you see people sharing your content, it’s a good sign that you created something that spoke to them.

There’s nothing wrong with an endorsement from your audience!

One great way to look at it is that social shares help you potentially reach even more new people.

As Julia said, social media shares a good metric to track, but it’s not a success metric on their own.

The important thing to remember is that a social share doesn’t necessarily mean someone read your content. They could have shared without actually reading it.

As Lexie said, social sharing can be very passive.

Q2: What is your top suggestion for getting more shares on social media?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a few extra shares on your content, right? To encourage people to spread the word, these are some great tips to remember:

Susan encourages you to collaborate with influencers throughout the process. Creating with other people can help you reach a new audience, but it also helps build relationships within your niche.

Knowing your audience is a must! As Ken said, you need to create content they’ll find relevant.

Kyle agrees that it’s so important to know who your audience is. He also recommended looking at past sharing from your audience, as it’s a good indicator of what they liked and may be willing to share again.

If you want to encourage social media sharing, you need to create shareable content in the first place. Ask yourself if you’d share your own content. If not, you should head back to the drawing board.

Julia knows it’s important that you create your best content. You also need to be consistent with publishing. Those social shares will come to you.

You should also make it easy for your audience to share your stuff. Add social sharing buttons to your blog posts to make it super quick. It’s just a few clicks and they’ve shared it for you.

Andrea agrees that you need to make it easy for them. Those social sharing buttons need to be clearly visible to visitors of your website.

For Andrew, he feels lighthearted, relatable content is where it’s at. He also recognizes the power of a call to action.

As Kristen said, a great headline and amazing images never hurt!

Q3: What are some techniques to get the most mileage out of your content?

You’ve created an amazing piece of content, so now what? To make the most of the content you’ve published, here are some great ideas:

You can repurpose your content by summarizing a webinar in a blog post and using questions that were asked.

Sarah knows it’s important to repurpose your content. You want to keep it fresh by updating evergreen posts regularly to ensure they’re still relevant with the latest information. You can even take blog posts and make them into different formats.

Kristen suggests turning an eBook into a webinar, blog posts, and even infographics.

Julia shared some great ideas like creating quote cards, Instagram posts, Snapchat content, Instagram Stories, and SlideShares. All of this can be created from one in-depth post.

Brandie recommended creating videos, slides, and infographics.

Don’t forget to mention or tag any co-authors or brands that are part of your post. You can even potentially “newsjack” or “trendjack” on social media to gain more traction.

Q4: Do you use an influencer strategy to gain traction on your content? If so, what do you do?

Many brand are taking advantage of influencers in their niche as a way to reach new people. If you’re considering trying it out, these are some great tips:

Susan said the team at BuzzSumo focuses on how they can help the influencers they work with. They use a relational approach, as opposed to mass emailing cold contacts.

Remember that you’re all in this together. Find a way to offer value to the influencers you partner with.

Qualifying the audience an influencer has can definitely be a tricky task, but it’s an important one. You want to ensure you work with the right people.

After all, Lexie knows choosing the right influencer is so important if you want to see success with your social sharing campaign.

Make sure you’re doing the necessary research on influencers before you reach out. Meghan said they should understand your brand and message.

Shawn is spot on with his answer. Choosing an influencer doesn’t mean you should go with the person who has the largest audience. It’s more important to work with someone who has a quality, highly engaged audience.

If those bigger influencers are out of your reach, there’s no need to worry. You can see great results when partnering with micro-influencers in your niche.

Julia also sees the value in working with micro-influencers. As she said, niche wins.

Q5: What pitfalls do you try to avoid in your influencer strategy for content?

To help you avoid any troubles with your influencer strategy, we asked our chat participants to share the things they strive to avoid. Here’s what a few of them said:

When you have a small team, you have to be careful that you don’t stress yourself too thin. Don’t go overboard with commitments because you need to make sure you can still deliver.

Jim’s advice is to choose influencers that are aligned with your values so there’s no disconnect.

Don’t be afraid to be selective when choosing the influencers you work with. They should share your vision.

And remember that it’s not all about a large audience. It’s about an engaged audience.

A great piece of advice to remember: know your influencer’s audience. You want to research potential influencers to choose the right one for your brand.

Q6: What roadblocks to content efficiency are you trying to overcome? How’s that going for you?

Are you struggling with content efficiency? You aren’t alone! Our chat participants shared their biggest struggles and how they’re working to beat them:

Sticking to your plans can be tough when you have so many good ideas floating around. Susan said a system needs to be in place that allows that flexibility, but still encourages you to finish projects.

Kristen knows an evolving organization goes through a lot of transitions. Keeping messaging, language, and themes consistent and on-brand can be a tricky task.

Creating for clients can sometimes be pretty challenging. You want to make sure you’re getting plenty of information from them to do your job successfully.

Cheval knows that writing long-form content isn’t always easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to create an amazing piece of content.

There’s no denying that time is a struggle for all of us!

Q7: Are there any tools you rely on to help repurpose your share your content online?

What are the best tools to help you repurpose and share your content? Check out these great suggestions:

Susan’s go-to tools include Rev for video transcription and Canva for creating images.

TweetDeck, Canva, and Pablo from Buffer are all great tools to check out.

Cheval’s must-have is Hootsuite. He relies on it to schedule his Twitter posts.

Buffer is a great tool to schedule social media content. Their Power Scheduler really comes in handy when you want to schedule content far in advance.

For Kristen, it’s all about reusable templates and an amazing designer.

Q8: Which brands do a great job at getting the most mileage out of their content?

If you’re ready to make the most out of the content you create, you can draw some inspiration from these brands:

Susan is a big fan of Content Marketing Institute’s content. They’re always amazing!

Julia loves the work that CoSchedule, Buffer, BuzzSumo, and Canva create.

Narmadhaa is also a fan of Content Marketing Institute’s work, as well as Hootsuite’s.

For Gaby, she knows Red Bull is great at taking one piece of content and repurposing it into a variety of other formats.

Want to join us for the live hour? Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat and join us every Tuesday at 10 AM Central!

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#ContentWritingChat Recap: How to Create & Upcycle Great Content for More Personalized Exposure with Brian Fanzo

Did you miss #ContentWritingChat this week? Get caught up with our recap and learn all about how to upcycle your online content!

#ContentWritingChat September 6 2016 Recap: How to Create & Up Cycle Great Content for More Personalized Exposure


Our guest host for this week’s chat was Brian Fanzo. Brian is a Change Evangelist. He’s also the host of #Cloudtalk and the #SMACtalk podcast.

Q1: What does it mean to “upcycle” your content?

To kick things off, we asked our chat participants what upcycling content means to them. Here’s what they had to say:

Brian knows content is king! He said upcycling means taking great content, shaping it, and customizing it for other formats. Some examples he shared with us include turning a blog post into an infographic or a SlideShare.

Our CEO, Julia, said that upcycling content is when you mold and recreate your content for other platforms.

You can repurpose your content by updating it and making it “fresh” for new readers. It’s a great way to expand your content.

Matt said that upcycling helps you find new ways to use your old content for difference formats and audiences.

As Varun said, you can repurpose your best or evergreen content. Evergreen content is great for upcycling because it will always be relevant to your audience.

You can use your revamped content for a different purpose or to relate to a specific niche audience.

As Pamela said, you can turn one piece of successful content into an entirely different format, such as infographics or video.

Q2: What’s the difference between upcycling vs. recycling content?

So, what exactly is the difference between upcycling content and recycling it? Here’s what you need to know:

Brian said upcycling is customizing and personalizing great content so it fits and works on each network your audience is on.

Tara said upcycling content is when you improve the value of the original content in some way. You aren’t simply reposting it, but making it better.

Edanry knows the purpose behind upcycling is to make improvements to the original content so you can optimize its performance.

Tracy is spot-on with her answer. If you were to recycle content, you would simply be sharing it without making any improvements. When upcycling content, you aim to make it new again.

We like Matt’s comparison regarding warming up leftovers when it comes to recycling content.

When recycling your content, you want to be careful it doesn’t come off as spammy. Instead, go for upcycling and recreate your content. Then, you can tailor it for the platform you’re sharing it on and to your audience.

Q3: How can you expand your content reach by upcycling what you create?

Do you want to expand your reach via upcycling content? Here’s how to do it:

As Brian said, when you upcycle great content, you can focus on creating even more amazing content for your audience.

One great idea is to take your written content, incorporate it into a visual, and then sharing it on social media. It’s a great way to reach a new audience and to grab their attention with an eye-catching image.

Always consider what your audience is most interested in when upcycling. You want to create something that will resonate with them.

Debi’s advice is to share your upcycled content on social media so you can reach the audience you’re targeting.

Spread the word about your refreshed content! Make sure you’re sharing it across multiple channels.

When sharing your content on different platforms and mediums, you can reach a much larger audience.

Q4: Discuss how to upcycle blogs.

How can you repurpose that amazing, evergreen blog post you wrote a while back? Check out these great ideas that were shared during Tuesday’s chat:

Brian is pretty awesome on Periscope, so it’s no surprise that he repurposes blog content by sharing it in the form of a live broadcast.

We love infographics here at Express Writers! Julia loves to turn some of the blog posts here into shareable infographics.

Videos are incredibly powerful because they provide a great way for your audience to connect with you. Turning your blog posts into video content is the perfect way to upcycle!

As Kristin said, you should take the best blog posts and make them better. You can turn your posts into eBooks, video content, or even graphic slides.

Sarah suggested combining a series of similar posts into an eBook or other download. You could even turn it into a podcast episode.

We do too, Pamela!

Q5: Discuss other forms of content great for upcycling.

What are some other content types that work well when upcycling? Check out these suggestions from the chat:

Brian knows it’s important to understand your audience. The content format you choose should be dictated by the community you want to reach. Provide them with what they want to see.

Kristen suggests using Google Analytics to figure out which posts are your most popular. She said you could turn those posts into an awesome email autoresponder.

Julia knows video is where it’s at!

Josh also likes the idea of turning your best blog posts into podcast episodes.

Q6: What role should upcycling play in your content marketing strategy?

Take a look at what some of the participants in Tuesday’s chat had to say:

Tracy said it’s the best way to come up with relevant content and to learn what’s working and what isn’t.

Matt said you should always think about how content can be repurposed to reach the largest ideal audience.

Tara said content upcycling should help you naturally expand in the topics you like.

Amalia feels it opens new channels of communication and interaction between her and her audience.

Amel said it can help you position yourself as an expert, increase reach, and increase visibility.

Kristen said you aren’t doing your content justice if you aren’t upcycling!

Well said, Bill!

Q7: How can you use your analytics to track the success of upcycling content?

Here are some tips for using your analytics in your content upcycling strategy:

Brian knows it’s important to use analytics as a way to see what your audience likes and doesn’t like. He also shared some great tools everyone should check out.

As Sarah said, you need to set goals and monitor your performance.

Kristen’s advice is to upcycle the content that’s already doing well, then pay attention to the feedback and engagement you receive.

See how many views your repurposed content has gotten and how many times it’s been shared on social media.

It’s also important to measure engagement. Are people leaving comments? What kind of feedback are they providing?

Julia likes to use BuzzSumo to track social media sharing.

Q8: Q&A for Brian Fanzo!

Here are a couple of the questions Brian was asked during the chat:

Brian’s top success story when it comes to upcycling was repurposing a blog post with a Periscope broadcast.

When it comes to live video, you don’t have to be focused on perfection. Brian said you should pay more attention to the conversation.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM CDT for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

content in 2016

Strategy Success for Content in 2016: Reach Out to Millennials

It’s that time of year…

December 1, and it’s time to think about how to truly nail your content in 2016. I’m not touting a lose-weight-fast or get-rich-quick New Year resolution (those are usually broken by the next week). I’m talking about long term, dedicated strategy–and a vantage point that will get you winning content this upcoming New Year.

Right now, there are about 80 million millennials living in the US. That translates to about ¼ of the total population and since this group wields a buying power of about $200 billion dollars, they’re currently the single most lucrative market in all of advertising.

That said, you probably want to reach out to them with your content in 2016, right? They will be a bigger demographic than ever next year – they are the big, smart, and buying crowd YOU need to attract. Just how do you go about it?

We have some tips to help.

content in 2016

10 Tips to Effectively Market to Millennials with Your Content in 2016

1) Get authentic

Millennials spend about 25 hours each week online and they want authentic content. Buttoned-up ‘50s style marketing tactics don’t work on this crowd and they’re scouring blogs, social media, and websites for content they can truly connect with.

In fact, 43% of millennials rank authenticity as more important than content when they consume news and, as a result, they’re on the search for content that mimics their feelings, opinions, and passions while also offering unique value and a distinct voice.

Take Taco Bell, for example, which recently began a program to reach out to millennials with its “Millennial Word of the Week” program. This program makes the brand appealing, approachable, interesting, and relatable. Plus, since the whole program is curated by Taco Bell employees the same age as millennials, it’s authentic, which is what millennials have been looking for this whole time.

2) Focus on inbound

Have you ever been curious how many millennials will gladly navigate away from your page due to an unwelcome or intrusive ad? The grand majority of them, that’s how many. In fact, according to Wired, millennials alone have killed off several outbound marketing tactics that are inauthentic, invasive, or not valuable. What’s more, 84% of millennials just plain don’t trust traditional advertising, which creates a sticky situation for advertisers.

This is true because millennials know what they want, they’re tech-savvy enough to find it online, and they’re not willing to suffer websites that make them sit through unwanted or intrusive ads. When millennials spend time online, they’re doing research via social media, blogs, websites, and YouTube, which means that inbound marketing tactics are the best and the only way to reach them. By focusing harder than ever before on creating and distributing high-quality, relevant content that actually meets the needs of millennials and helps to answer their questions, you can ensure that your site doesn’t earn a swift “back” click.

3) Strive to be informative

Possibly more so than any generation before them, millennials are hungry for information, and this means that they’ll support businesses that are dedicated to offering informative content. Millennials are drawn to eBooks, videos, tutorials, blog posts, how-to’s, and customer reviews more than they are product listings, and this means that if you can create content in 2016 that offers an expert’s perspective on an everyday challenge, millennials are going to bite.

This is because millennials are 247% more likely than their older counterparts to be influenced in sales decisions by blogs and social media. With that in mind, consider offering tutorials and videos for your millennial customer base. Keep in mind that considering their tech-savvy nature and their propensity for sharing, they’re much more likely to share your video than they are to pull your flier off of a bulletin board and pass it around to their friends.

4) Focus on tailor-made

Millennials are plentiful, powerful, wealthy, and what else – oh yeah! They’re smart too. This means that millennials have a stronger-than-usual B.S. detector and they’ll be onto you in an instant if you create content in 2016 that’s meant solely to get into their pocketbooks.

Instead, focus on creating educational content that caters to their interests. One great way to do this is to focus on selling a lifestyle rather than a product. This means that you should be showcasing the ways in which your product, good, or service can help enhance their lives, produce unforgettable experiences, and equip them with great stories. Trust us, these things are far more valuable to millennials than product descriptions on some stagnant web page.

5) Get collaborative

42% of millennials want to help companies develop products and services and that’s why it pays to use them as a resource when creating products for consumption. Consider, as an example, Lays’ “Do us a Flavor” campaign in which they encourage consumers to come up with the next potato chip flavor to be marketed in stores.

Campaigns like this make millennials the co-creators of a company and increase the likelihood that they’ll buy your product once it hits the market. It also engages their sense of self-expression and personal branding, helping to fuel the values of individuality and uniqueness in marketing, sales, and beyond.

6) Consider the difference between usage and ownership

According to HubSpot, millennials prefer to use things rather than own them. Rather than owning housefuls of things they only seldom need, millennials would rather pay full price to rent items when they need them. Consider examples of this like Uber, Airbnb, Spotify, and Rent the Runway, a popular rental clothing site. To apply this to your content, consider creating forms of content like classes, webinars, and eBooks that millennials can rent rather than buy.

7) Offer a full-spectrum experience

Unlike their Baby Boomer parents, millennials may actually enjoy the act of shopping more than actually purchasing items. This explains the popularity of sites like Pinterest and Etsy and provides a definite edge for any content creator that can master the art of providing a web-based exploration experience for audiences. To apply this to your content, link content with social sharing sites like Pinterest and ensure that everything you create is designed to effectively inspire and engage your millennial audience into activity.

8) Optimize for mobile

Millennials live on their mobile devices and if you’re not optimizing your content to accommodate that, you’re going to miss out on a great deal of business. In 2015, active social media accounts saw a 23% increase, which equates the creation of over 300 million accounts.

This means that all of your content, social, and other sharing should be optimized for mobile. To do this, pay attention to in-stream photo requirements for sites like Twitter and ensure that you’re embracing content forms like vertical video (very few mobile users ever rotate their phones to watch videos). This holds true for everything except for YouTube, in which case horizontal videos are still king.

9) Get on the video train

In 2014, Facebook began slogging into the world of video content and sharing and, by 2015, Mark Zuckerberg announced that more than 3 billion videos are shared and viewed daily on Facebook newsfeeds around the world.

The reason for this is that 67% of millennials believe that videos produce more relatable content than TV. What’s more, 63% of millennials report that they would try a brand or item recommended by a YouTube personality quicker than they would one recommended by a television personality. While this trend may seem startling, it’s a clear call to marketers everywhere to start producing more video content. With platforms like Snapchat, Meerkat, and Periscope on the rise, it’s obvious that video content is truly the content of the future.

10) Be fluid

Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation in history and they’re also the most innovative. While they play a large part in consuming the content of today, they’re also behind the scenes, developing new tech, producing new apps, and altogether changing the world as we know it.

While the previous 9 tips hold true for today and the foreseeable future, it’s important for marketers to continue to be fluid and adaptable with their content. This means not getting stuck in boxes or being afraid to try new things. As millennials continue to change the world, content will need to change to keep up with them and the marketers that can accommodate this are the ones that will succeed.

Conclusion

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer and as we draw closer to 2016 one thing is sure: millennials have and will continue to inform the direction of content far and wide. This is a great thing, though, as it drives innovation and positive change, and the marketers who can embrace it and continue to reach out to millennials through their content are the ones who will experience content marketing success as they continue to publish even better content in 2016.

turkey day content writing tips

Turkey Day Content Tips: How to Create Great Content from the Thanksgiving Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Express Writers!

turkey day content writing tips

This Thanksgiving season, we hope you’re enjoying some well-earned time off!

That being said, in our industry, we don’t really see it as time off from content creation. That’s because Thanksgiving is a great time to create some seriously fun content. The festiveness of the season and the air of celebration in the air mean that Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to create and distribute content your readers will love.

Just how do you go about this?

5 Thanksgiving Content Tips Readers Will Love

Don’t be a turkey, make holiday content work for you this Thanksgiving Day! Here are five of our top holiday content tips for creating memorable Thanksgiving-themed content.

1. Snap and Share Photos of Your Holiday Celebration

40% of people respond better to visual content than they do text, so don’t hesitate to take some photos this holiday season. Don’t be shy to share your personal festivities!

Snap pictures of your movements throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, whether you volunteer, spend time with family and friends, eat a turkey or a ham, or spend it away from the snow in someplace tropical.

Consider dedicating a blog entirely to photos and then encourage your readers to submit their own photos in the comments. Visual content is a big deal right now and creating some of your own can help people connect to your content and feel the Thanksgiving cheer!

2. Share Traditions

You look forward to it every Thanksgiving: Grandma’s creamy, gooey, delicious pumpkin pie – the recipe for which she got from her grandmother. Why not share the love this Thanksgiving and share the recipe with your fans?

Doing this provides value on a few different levels: first of all, you’re giving your readers something actionable that they can apply to their lives and, secondly, you’re giving them pie and who doesn’t love pie?

If you don’t have a coveted family recipe to share with your readers, consider telling them about the traditions you do have over the holidays and then encourage them to share their traditions as well. This engages readers in your content and helps them feel seen, respected, and cared for by your brand.

3. Give Back

Do you have something that can benefit someone else? Why not use the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to give it away? Whether you run a class that can help fans learn something new or you sell a product that can enhance people’s lives, Thanksgiving is the ideal time to run a promotion that allows your customers to enter for a chance to win.

Holiday promotions give people something to get excited about and, in advance of the Christmas holiday, promotions may even help your customers get that special someone a gift they’ve always wanted.

No matter how you choose to structure your promotion, Thanksgiving is shouldered by two of the biggest shopping days of the year (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) so this is a great time to give some gifts and share the joy!

4. Share What You’re Thankful About

What is Thanksgiving all about, after all? One of the best ways to create great content this Thanksgiving is simply to be thankful! Be thankful for your readers and your business partners and all of the people who have helped you get where you are today and then tell them so.

Consider sending your readers a heartfelt “thank-you” email or offering small incentives as a showing of your gratitude. No matter what you choose to do, Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to let the people near you know exactly how much you appreciate them.

5. Try New Things

If you’ve never done a podcast before but Crazy Aunt Lisa is coming to Thanksgiving dinner and she’s got some serious stories, right now might be a great time to dip your foot into a new content form.

Whether you’ve been meaning to move from short-form to long-form or textual to visual, the Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to take advantage of the abundance of your surroundings to step into uncharted content waters.

In addition to keeping you on your creative toes, this can also help you keep your site fresh and keep readers interested.

Take These Content Tips and Go Forth!

There you have it – our top 5 content tips for creating great marketing this Thanksgiving season. While we hope that your Thanksgiving holiday inspires you to crank out some exciting new content, we also hope that your Thanksgiving holiday is filled with all the things that are really important: friends, family, and happiness for one and for all!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Express Writers team.

turkey day content writing tips

Content Serialization Content Marketing

Content Serialization: How to Turn One Idea into Months of Content Marketing

What if you could take one great idea and turn it into dozens of even better blogs?

You actually can—with a process called serialization.

Content serialization, once a tool in the belt of novel-writers worldwide, has become a popular blogging tactic today that can help writers dig deeper and provide an astounding amount of value to their readers.

Content serialization is more than just drawing out an idea; it’s a particularly effective way to become an expert in your niche, draw more readers, promote your site and gain visibility.

Content Serialization Content Marketing

What is Content Serialization?

Content serialization is essentially one large idea broken down into installments for easier readability and a higher level of mastery. “Content marketing”, for example, is a large topic. It would be impossible to cover everything that content marketing is and offers in one blog post and, as such, it’s an ideal topic for serialization.

A serialized run of blog posts with a focus on content marketing might look something like “12 Weeks to Outstanding Content Marketing” and would offer periodic blog posts diving deeper into progressively more challenging areas of the topic. 

Serialization offers bloggers a way to get out of the habit of thinking of their content marketing strategy in terms of individual posts, which can inhibit creativity and contribute to poor content and very little site cohesion. Good short-term serialization can help content marketers shake up their strategy and dig deeper into topics their audience wants to know more about.

Why Serialize Content?

In the days of olde, bibliophiles used to hang out on shipping docks, anxiously awaiting the next serialized installment of a favorite book to arrive. Things have modernized since then, but serialization still has the power to create anticipation and keep people coming back for more.

By serializing content that is of interest to readers, content marketers can easily reap the following benefits:

  • More Readers: Like we said, serialization promotes anticipation and people will soon be looking out for the next post in the series. Additionally, since each post builds off of the post before it, serialization is an amazingly effective internal linking strategy that drives users to other portions of the blog.
  • More Creativity: Serializing your content forces you to dig into the cracks, so to speak, and can help your writing become much more creative. Additionally, since serialization requires you to plan each post ahead of time and come up with a considerable amount of content, it is likely that the process will also drive you to employ social media formats, such as video, podcasts or infographics, that you do not typically use. For this reason, serialization is a great way for bloggers that are “stuck” to get the creative juices flowing.
  • Increased Productivity: Since you’ll have to come up with regular and substantial posts, you’ll be forced to make the best possible use of each day’s writing time. This, in turn, promotes better writing and more effective communication.
  • Mastery of Knowledge: By far the most valuable benefit of serialization is that it allows bloggers to become niche experts. By digging into the nooks and crannies of a subject, writers can learn new things and disseminate information effectively without overloading their audience or saturating a single post with so much information that it’s virtually useless. Additionally, serialization allows you to build your online authority.
  • More Conversions: Serialized content provides value for people interested in learning more about a topic. When you provide value to readers, they reward you with increased interaction, subscriptions and purchases. Because of this, serialized content often results in increased conversions for your site. Regardless of what your site’s goal is – be it subscriptions, purchases, or shares – serialized content can definitely help you get there.

In addition to the above benefits, serialization can be a great option for bloggers who have not yet developed a content marketing strategy and are looking for ways to provide regular, high-quality content to their readers.

Choosing Which Content to Serialize

As a general rule, the content you serialized should be made up of your most high-potential topics. In other words, serialized topics should be those too broad, involved, detailed or important to be covered in a single post.

The genesis topic for serialized posts should be of great interest to your readers and broad enough to explore for a number of weeks without writing duplicate content or creating filler. Before you choose to serialize a topic, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this information provide value to my readers?
  • Can I explore this topic in a unique way?
  • Could I write a book about this?

If the answer is “yes” to all of those questions, it’s likely that you’ve got a good candidate for serialization.

Keep in mind that it is not enough, however, to simply choose a topic that you find interesting. The topic also needs to serve a purpose and will be most successful if it meets an unmet need, offers a solution and is easy to structure.

As with any type of marketing, finding a gap in the market is one of the most important factors for success. If you choose to serialize a topic that’s been serialized hundreds of times before, it’s going to be difficult to be truly competitive in that market. Therefore, it’s important to choose a topic that addresses old questions in a new way or approaches a question that many people have an nobody is answering. By meeting an unmet need and providing unique solutions, you can ensure your content will stand out from the crowd.

How to Serialize Content

By far the easiest way to serialize content is to create a series of blog posts that spans no more than 12 weeks. This is enough time to adequately explore a topic but not so much that your readers begin to get bored. Regardless of what your topic is, the general structure of your serialized content should resemble the following:

Week 1 (First Post)

Week 1 will be the touch-point for your readers. That said, your first blog post should act like a value proposition. The post should introduce the series, explain its purpose to readers and help them understand exactly how it can help them, solve their problems, answer their questions or provide value in their lives.

To do this, your post needs to clearly outline what the weekly posts will cover. To make your outline compelling, write interesting headlines for each week that provide information about the problem or challenge being faced and how that individual post helps readers navigate around it.

Weeks 2-11 (Body Posts)

These posts should follow the outline you put forth in your initial post. Each post should adhere to a general length of your choosing and should offer a mixture of text and visuals or other media. In order to make each post as valuable as possible, be sure that you’re utilizing great blog-writing tactics like breaking up large bodies of text, utilizing headers and sub headers, incorporating images and writing magnetic titles.

Week 12 (Final Post in Series)

The final blog post in your series is almost as important as your first post. The final post should conclude the series by offering one final solution, nugget of information or hack, summarizing the information presented so far and outlining the importance of each week’s post.

The blog should end with a compelling call-to-action that directs readers toward whatever you want them to do, be it subscribing to your email list, purchasing your book or sharing your content. Additionally, the call-to-action could be used to launch a new product or promote an upcoming series.

By now, it’s likely that you will have gained considerably more readers and that those readers will be hungry for more of your content. Because of this, the end of a series is the ideal place to present a new product or ask your readers for subscriptions.

Content Serialization Success: The 4 Pillars

The entire point of content serialization is to provide in-depth, consistent value to readers and, when it’s done correctly, serialization can be an amazingly effective tactic for increasing a blog’s reach and catering to readers. In order for serialization to succeed, however, it must adhere to these 4 pillars:

  • Consistency: Serialization is nothing but a few haphazard blog posts if you don’t maintain a schedule. At the beginning of your series, choose one day a week when you’ll post your new installment. Be sure to tell your readers which day this is, as this will keep you accountable and also give your readers something to look forward to. The importance of having a regular blogging schedule cannot be oversold when it comes to serialization. Feel free to write additional posts during the week, but keep your series posts consistent and predictable.
  • Discovery: In order to be valuable, your serialized content needs to help your readers discover a new topic. When you bring a genuine excitement to your serialized content, that will translate to your readers and you’ll soon find yourself with a healthy following. Use your series to dig deeper into an interesting topic and disseminate that information to your readers. They’ll appreciate it, we promise.
  • Quality: Part of the purpose of running a series is to encourage bloggers to plan and develop a content marketing schedule. If you’re postponing your series post until the last minute and then writing sloppy content, you can bet it’s going to fail. Your readers should be able to expect a high-quality, informative post each week. When you deliver consistent quality, your series will be successful.
  • Accessibility: Regardless of who your target audience is, it’s important that each post you write is accessible to them. Don’t get too technical for beginners or too simple for people who already have some knowledge of the topic. Instead, ensure that your content is tailored to your readers and that each post in the series provides real, tangible value to your target audience.

The Case for Serialization

Serialization, when done well, is one of the best ways to boost your content marketing strategy and draw new readers to your site. Content serialization allows you to take one great idea or expansive topic and transform it into months of high-quality, original, shareable, authoritative posts, which is great for you and even better for your readers.

How to Create A Strategy for Deploying Content to Improve Your Site’s Ranking & Visibility

Annie is a Content Manager at Express Writers.

Developing a content strategy can easily seem like it can be a futile exercise.

Many people don’t have a clue about where to start when it comes to putting together a detailed plan for what their content should do and what sort of demographic it should be aimed at.

The truth of the matter is that overthinking content marketing can be dangerous.

Instead of focusing on the minor details, what you should be aiming for is to see the big picture.

It’s only through that you will actually be able to experience the true power of content marketing the way it was meant to be used.

The Blank Slate Theory & Your Content Strategy

As artist Joe Madureira says, a blank slate is as exciting as it is daunting. What we propose to do through a blank slate comparison is to see how a company starting from no website or content marketing strategy can utilize the tools of developing a content strategy to be successful. In this fictionalized case study we will be utilizing a two-phase plan for the creation of a detailed content strategy that can be used to improve a website’s ranking and visibility.

Methodology Behind Our Experiment

Utilizing a free tool like Google Analytics allows us to easily track the key performance indicators (KPI’s) that we’re interested in. Indicators such as number of visitors and unique visitors over time allow us to gauge the success of our content marketing strategy. If we want to be more specific we can set up funnels in Google Analytics in order to track clicks from what content leads to which page to determine the most popular content for attracting users. The numbers from Google Analytics will be our guide to how well our content strategy is doing, just like in real life.

Time to start working on that content strategy, if you haven't already!

Time to start working on that content strategy, if you haven’t already!

Content Strategy Phase One: The Basics

There are a handful of things that a basic content strategy should have in place as a jumping off point. These form the framework for your future content production and also aids in your SEO compatibility and your search rank score. These things are the very basics but even though they seem to be unnecessary at the start, they are a powerful means of attracting traffic and formulating leads. The basic start for a website’s content strategy comes from incorporating these key elements:

1. META tags: META tags aid in helping to describe a page’s content to a search engine. Including META tags in your site setup ensures that you are able to include the most important elements that you would expect to get your page noticed. The more relevant information you include in your META data the better your search relevancy will be. This translates into increased traffic from search engines, as relevancy is extremely important to users. No one wants to click a page and end up somewhere they didn’t expect to be.

2. Keywords: These are words that describe the content on your page and allow a user to be aware of what the site they are visiting is about. Used in combination with META description tags, your keywords form the backbone of your content strategy in the realm of SEO. You don’t want too much of your keywords cluttering up your page since search engines are usually wary of too high a keyword density. Ideally, your keyword density should lie between 3% and 5% for any particular keyword set.

3. Product Descriptions: These give your site the look and feel of a professional company and also gives Google something to reference. Your product descriptions should also have keywords considered and should conform to the limit of 3% to 5% as well. Keeping this figure is enough to satisfy the search engine that you’re not keyword stuffing just to make your content more popular. The descriptions should be meaningful as far as possible and written for the user. It’s a true test of balancing your content writing in order to appeal to both search engine robots and the average user.

4. Basic Content: Basic content gives your site a barebones for further development of content as time goes by. Through your basic content you are trying to attract users and at the same time get them to do something. Whether it’s subscribing to an email list or clicking over to a product page, your basic content should be original and should appeal to the customer. It should bring value to the customer’s life in some way. That is the hallmark of good content.

Content Strategy Phase Two: Advanced Operations

After setting up the initial barebones on the blank slate website, we can now proceed to monitor it for a period of time to see how it evolves and develops in terms of traffic. This sets a benchmark from where we can go on to the advanced part of the exploration and the key motivator for developing a content strategy.

Does content really make a difference in generating leads and increasing visits? Let’s find out by utilizing the major vehicles of content marketing:

1. Blogs: Blogging has long been accepted as one of the ways to generate traffic and to keep your website fresh to attract new visitors. Search engines enjoy blogs because they tend to deal with a particular niche and once the search engine determines the niche the blog is in it’s easy to direct relevant traffic to the site. Blogs allow for a company or website to focus on creating high-quality content that appeals to their target demographic. Through this content the company can generate new leads or conversions, or develop customer loyalty by focusing on providing useful content to their users. Blogs need to be updated regularly in order to remain relevant. Updating too much can cause useful information to be lost. There’s a fine balance to walk here, but doing it well is worth the effort.

2. Social Media: The newest way for websites to interact with customers directly and to generate leads is through content marketing on social media. The use of memetics and other content that attracts users to like or share allows a company to spread the word far and wide and to get a much more diverse outreach than with simple SEO marketing. The virality of social media content is what makes it attractive as a medium for content marketing. All it takes is the right combination of images, words and emotions to make a piece of content that could theoretically reach hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. Websites such as Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter have made it even easier for content marketers to share great content with their followers.

Expected Results

As is expected with a fledgling content strategy, it would take some time for the users to reach a trickle. Ideally, we would run this blank slate website against another website that has nothing on it as a control to see the difference in traffic between that control site and our site over a period of a few months. Because of our SEO work (META tags and content descriptions etc.) we expect to see a decent amount of traffic at the end of the first six-month period. At the end of this initial setup period we can then average the amount of visitors daily and keep that score as the benchmark against which our second phase can be tested.

Introducing the second phase allows us to see how much better content marketing is compared to a site that operates without it (presented by the data from our six-month phase-one trial). Because of the nature of content strategies and the methodology used, it can take a couple months before noticeable changes start happening.

This would be the case if and only if the chosen method of content marketing is done as intended (blogs updated on time, social media accounts focusing on a target demographic etc.). Over the next six months the performance of the site would increase quite a lot based on the use of content marketing.

Conclusions

If performed properly and under the best of conditions, this experiment would prove decisively if content marketing is truly beneficial to a company or brand.

Real-life case studies are readily available where brands tout the awesome capability of content marketing to drive traffic and generate leads (GE Reports immediately comes to mind). However, the real world is rarely as cut and dried as test situations.

Many times when companies undertake a content strategy, they try to minimize the cost and maximize the impact.

Although this strategy is admirable, there are some things you shouldn’t cut corners with. Updating regularly is one of them. Generating high quality content is another. The best way to ensure that your content is of the highest standard is to invest in a professional content production team to develop content for you on a regular basis. A content strategy has the potential to do great things for your traffic, it just has to be implemented properly.

How a Poorly Executed Content Strategy Can Eliminate Your Full Potential

Sarah Shade is one of our Content Specialists at Express Writers.

Content strategy.

You and I both (as good Internet marketers) know all about these by now.

Without one, it’s like trying to find a black cat in a dark room without a light bulb.

But did you know that a poorly executed content strategy can be even more harmful than not having one at all?

Even Harvard Business Review notes that most management professionals agree that a mediocre strategy that is executed well trumps a great strategy that is executed poorly.

In the realm of content strategy this is usually the case, although some exceptions to the rule do stand out.

Don’t let a bad content strategy get you down.

The How-To’s of Content Strategy Development

In order for a content strategy to be successful, it must first be properly defined. Far too often, marketing professionals underestimate how important it is to undertake the basic steps of content strategy development. Like any good plan, a well-developed content strategy takes time and effort and no small amount of consideration. Even Forbes notes that even though content marketing can be complicated, it’s not in your best interests to put it on the back burner or ignore it altogether.

Getting to Success – When Your Content Strategy Comes Together

It’s a wonderful feeling to realize that your content strategy is coming together. All your key performance indicators are pointing towards a steady increase in traffic and your company’s name is on the public’s tongue. They know who you are and what you stand for. You’ve even managed to convince users to evangelize for you and things could not be better. In a perfect world, this would be what you’d come to expect from content marketing strategies. The truth of the matter is that this is the exception, rather than the rule. There are so many things that could possibly go wrong with a content strategy that ends up with it performing far worse than it set out to do, or even doing the opposite and driving consumers away from your site.

How Content Strategies Fail

If a content strategy is not delivering to its fullest potential the fault may lie in one of two places. Firstly, in the initial setup of the content marketing strategy there could have been a number of problems with how you approached the problem. On the other side of the coin are the problems that occur with the strategy that happen after its implementation. Both planning-level snafus and implementation level mistakes can lead to a content strategy failing. Let’s take a closer look at where the process seems to break down in these two key areas.

4 Major Planning Level Failures

In planning level failure, a content strategy is doomed from the time it’s conceptualized. Although this seems like a bleak prospect, it is usually the case when an unskilled content strategy team tries to develop a strategy plan without having a proper grasp of planning principles. There are a number of key areas where this problem can persist and lead to failure for the strategy, such as:

1. Wrong Target Demographic

While you would expect companies to know their own target demographic, you would be shocked to see how many of them aim their content strategy at a demographic that it doesn’t work for, while ignoring the demographic that it would appeal to best.

2. Not Budgeting Enough

Having a budget is a good thing in a corporate setting because it gives you a figure to work with regarding what you’re allowed for purchasing new content. However, budgeting too little can make you sacrifice quality in order to meet your quota.

3. No Clear Distribution Channels

Defining your distribution channels enables your content strategy to perform the way it was designed to. The distribution channels you choose should be the ones where your target demographic exists in large numbers.

4. Being Out Touch with your Audience

Content marketing has a marked focus on the audience you are creating content for. If you don’t know what drives your audience, what motivates them and what makes them take action, then you need to find out before embarking on a content marketing campaign.

Planning level failure isn’t the end of the world for a content strategy, however. Even though these things can limit the success (or even reverse it) for a content strategy, it is likely that the content management team will realize what’s going on and correct themselves before they get too far into content production.

Four Implementation Level Failures

This is where things get kind of complicated. At planning level failure it is a simple matter of fixing the behind-the-scenes work and redirecting resources where they have to go. When it comes to implementation level failure, things that go wrong here can severely damage the business image in the public eye. Depending on what goes wrong the impact could range from minor to catastrophic. Implementation level failure can include problems such as:

1. Failure to Streamline Content

Although not a capital sin, failing to streamline your already produced content can lead to users leaving your site as they get there. Things such as consistent typography, working external links and relevant topics of discussion all fall under this broad heading. Properly vetting your content through an audit is a great way to deal with this problem, although it can be time consuming.

2. Not Engaging your Audience Properly

The aim of content when developed in tandem with a strategy is to engage the audience so that they build a bond of loyalty with your brand or company. In order to engage your audience properly, you need to develop content that highlights hot-button topics and then discuss these over your comment section or on social media. Remember when discussing these things with your audience, it is recommended that you have a non-aggressive tone, even if members of the audience disagrees with your point of view.

3. Poor Quality Content

Probably the number one problem that strategists have when it comes to content marketing is having low quality content taking up space on their sites. One thing that most content gurus expound on ad nausea is that quality is far superior to quantity. If you produce one good content piece a day, it’s better than having twenty medium-to-low quality content pieces. Raising the quality of your content to high is essential to the success of any content strategy.

4. Content not SEO Optimized

In 2006, it was estimated that as much as 93% of all traffic originated from search engines. That’s a massive figure no matter how you slice it. That’s why your content needs to be optimized for SEO purposes. Good SEO optimization ensures that you get the most benefit out of your content and increase the amount of relevant traffic that search engines send your way. Having un-optimized content will mean you’re paying for good content that just doesn’t perform because it doesn’t have an audience to impact.

KMart on Black Friday: An Example of Social Media Failure

In 2013, KMart as eager to show off that they would be open for business on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. However, many of their Twitter followers criticized the decision, accusing the company of putting profits before family.

A company that had user engagement as one of its core tenets would have been able to diffuse this situation easily enough by showing how their workers were volunteering to work on that day.

However, with a brilliant combination of poor grammar, caveman-like sentence structure and a canned response, KMart managed to alienate its users and make them even more undesirable as a shopping location to a large swathe of their clientele.

JP Morgan Answers Questions on Twitter

KMart’s problem was that it probably had an inexperienced person running their Twitter account or that they just didn’t consider Twitter to be such a big deal. JP Morgan, however, knows how much or a big deal Twitter is when it comes to content marketing. They hosted a session where users would chime in with questions for the financial juggernaut that they hoped would be stimulating conversation about the economy of the country. They clearly underestimated how little love Twitter users had for them, from the responses.

At least they realized how out of touch they were with the audience before it got too out of hand.

Avoiding Content Strategy Failure

To be completely honest, no content strategy will succeed 100% of the time.

Just like everything that deals with human nature, the success of a content strategy depends upon timing and the willingness of the public to accept it.

Content strategies that would have been very successful in 2012 would leave audiences scratching their heads in 2015.

To minimize the margin of failure, you need to be aware of your audience. You need to understand what they need and the best way to provide it for them. Most importantly, you need to know how your audience views your company or brand to avoid making massive blunders that could affect your corporate image. When all is said and done, the final success of your content strategy lies in the hands of your audience.

marvel content marketing

7 Content Marketing Lessons Your Business Can Learn from Marvel’s Superhero Movies

Marvel is one of the biggest, and hottest, production companies right now. It is an incredible place to seek and gain content marketing inspiration from, too! This company has an excellent approach to content marketing, as we can all see with their ad campaigns for their films, including the latest The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

(If you have yet to see that film, take the chance to go and have a fun, summer movie experience, all while learning from some of the top marketers and writers in the comic industry.)

Just what can you learn from Marvel for your small business and content marketing? This blog is going to look at that and how it can help you create an excellent, effective content marketing strategy that will bring in tremendous success.

7 Tips from a Giant in the Content Marketing World: Marvel

What are the lessons you can expect to learn from Marvel? There are many different ones, but I take a look at a few of the top ones that can really help to impact your business. Get ready to take some notes and learn just how to improve your content strategy, and bring in new clients with a superhero-sized plan!

  1. Marvel Builds Their Brand Through Content, Constantly. When it comes to the content marketing world, Marvel can’t be beat with their epic content strategy. Their main way of survival is to, obviously, create excellent content, and they make sure that they are always doing so while building their brand through it. The Marvel brand isn’t exactly as it was ten or twenty years ago and this is because they’ve taken the chance to build and grow their brand over the decades. Their superheroes have taken on different elements and have had mega life changes throughout the comic books, and when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we see even more changes to characters and their stories. Marvel has multiple universes with multiple hero and villain story variations, making their content very strong, which helps to make their brand incredibly powerful.How can you apply this to your content strategy? You can easily use your content whether for web, blogs, social media, or any other type to help build your brand and make it better. You can create an incredibly, strong company that people trust just through content, which is what Marvel has been and is doing with their client base. Start working on your content to help create and improve your brand to bring in more clients, as well as helping you keep your existing ones for many years. 
  1. Marvel Provides Multiple Content Formats for Fans. I’ve mentioned this multiple times when it comes to creating content; multiple formats are vital to your content marketing, and Marvel understands this. If you aren’t a big fan of reading comic books, you don’t have to worry because you can easily go to many different Marvel films to watch superheroes battle it out with villains. In addition, if you prefer comic books to movies, then you are perfectly fine there. You can also watch various Marvel television shows ranging from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Daredevil, and soon there will be even more Marvel television taking over the TV world. Marvel doesn’t just limit themselves to story-based content, however. They provide access to a variety of things including conventions for their fans and are constantly growing and evolving to meet the demands of the comic fan world.Providing different formats for your clients is a great way to not only give existing customers easier ways to consume content, but also to bring in newer clients.  You will be able to reach a wider customer base by doing so, and you will see a significant increase in your views, clicks, and revenue just by providing different formats to your clients. The formats can be anything ranging from YouTube videos to social media content and infographics. Don’t limit yourself; be like Marvel and allow your content to develop in order to grow your client base and business. 
  1. They Approach the Entirety of Their Universe. Marvel doesn’t just pick and choose which aspect of their universe they will promote and provide content for – they approach it all. They take a holistic type of approach, which helps make their various universes feel consistent. When you approach the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will see an overlap of heroes and villains throughout several movies, bringing stories from different films together to create a larger, more impressive story. No matter which Marvel film you see, you will see reference to another and another. This is mighty impressive as they have a huge cinematic universe, but it helps make it an incredible experience for fans. This is a great example of what a holistic approach can provide to your content marketing strategy. You aren’t necessarily keeping stories together to create an impressive universe, but if you approach your marketing holistically, you will notice that you have a higher chance of being incredibly successful with your content. A great way to start approaching the entirety of it is to sit down with people in your business to brainstorm ideas across all content formats and fields, helping create a consistent strategy. Once you do that, you can then implement it and watch as the success starts increasing. 
  1. Vision Isn’t Just an Awesome Avenger. The Avengers: Age of Ultron was an epic film that introduced a few new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Vision. Vision is a pretty cool character, but his name is also a great example of what Marvel has. When it comes to making films for their cinematic universe, Marvel has an incredible vision and is planning all the way to 2020 and beyond for their releases. If you aren’t sure of just all that Marvel will be releasing, you can take a look at the full calendar. Remember, Marvel does keep releasing news about upcoming films in various phases, and we might just hear of more films soon.What this shows is a great example of planning ahead and preparing for what your clients want. There are many movies listed that involve some of our favorite characters from the MCU such as Thor or Captain America, but we are also seeing some “new” faces. If you’re a fan of Captain Marvel, then you’re in luck! Planning this far ahead and letting everyone know seems like it might be a silly move on Marvel’s part. However, with this whole list, people are beginning to mark their calendars and countdown to the films they are most looking forward to. This shows just how important planning a ways into the future is, as well as how great it can be to involve your clients in the process. 
  1. Symbolism is a Vital Aspect to a Marvel Superhero. Marvel places a major importance on symbolism, as does DC and any other comic production company. Symbolism is what helps set their various superheroes and villains apart, making things easily recognizable for fans. We all know what Spider-man’s symbol is, same with Captain America, Black Widow, the Hulk, and more. This symbolism helps to drive a personal connection between fan and character, which helps to promote the brand and provide an epic marketing strategy without doing much sales copy. When you go to buy a shirt based off of a superhero, you look for the logo, not a long description of said hero, right? Marvel knows people like the symbols, and that we connect with them.Why is it important for you to follow this particular aspect of Marvel, or any superhero franchise company? Because people love symbols and they connect with them easier. Having a logo with an ICON can help you bring in more clients and create a brand that people know and trust. We recently rebranded, and if you look at our Twitter page, you’ll see our icon representing our whole brand. Much like the simplicity of superhero logos, it’s easy and fun to recognize. This is going to help immensely to set us apart from other writing agencies, and the same can be said for you and your logo. Create something that is unique to your business, and help yourself stand out in the sea of other businesses. Being recognizable is a great way to bring in new customers.
  1. Everyone Loves a Hero and Marvel Knows It. No matter what, everyone loves a hero, and this is constantly seen in Marvel comics and films. The company knows how important heroes are to people, and they work to create heroes we can all look up to and love. By doing so, the company works to create a personal relationship between the company and the fans, as well as the specific hero, such as Captain America and the hero’s fans. Personal relationships are great for Marvel because this means that more people will be willing to buy comics, toys, and see films if they have that connection. No, Marvel doesn’t know the fans’ favorite color, food, or the names of their pets, but they still create the sense of a relationship with fans. They embrace the idea of emotions, which helps them to establish that relationship with their fan base, creating long-term, happy fans.

Cap has arrived! See Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron,” in theaters May 1.

Posted by Captain America on Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This is a great model for all sorts of businesses. You can easily achieve this personal connection by embracing what people love, and what they want to see from your business. Don’t hesitate to get a little emotional with your posts to help establish that connection. This will help set your business apart from others as one that can be trusted. A great place to start with developing a relationship with your clients is via social media and engaging with your customers through your customer service. Get personal on social media and promote excellent relationships with every one of your clients. 

  1. Iron Man and the Need for Being Social. Another lesson you can learn from Marvel is how to be social with your clients. If you know anything about Iron Man, you know that Tony Stark loves being social and can throw some epic parties. Marvel embraces this Tony Stark spirit by having incredible social media campaigns for all of their films, comics, and more. A great example of an awesome social media campaign is that of Marvel’s Deadpool. If you don’t know much about Deadpool, people refer to him as the “Merc With a Mouth” because he isn’t your classic do-good Marvel superhero. In a way, he is the epitome of anti-hero, and everyone loves him. Due to his sassy, and (be warned) not safe for work (NSFW) ways, the social media campaign has been hilarious. Photos are being released that are perfectly Deadpool, and people are getting more and more excited for the film to be released in 2016.

Deadpool always delivers. Even on Mother’s Day.

Posted by Deadpool Movie on Sunday, May 10, 2015

OR:

First official look at #Deadpool. Eat your heart out Burt Reynolds.

Posted by Deadpool Movie on Friday, March 27, 2015

While you don’t have to, and most likely shouldn’t, go the way of Marvel’s marketing for Deadpool, this does show how to use social media. First of all, Marvel is expertly reflecting the brand of Deadpool and second, they are also connecting with their fans in new, fun ways. Take this as a lesson to use social media and reflect your brand accurately and perfectly through your tweets, posts, and interactions. Don’t be afraid to be a little silly with memes and jokes, either! That will help make the social media experience a fun one for you and your followers.

Copywriters and Content Marketers, Assemble!

What are some of the lessons from Marvel that you plan on implementing into your content marketing strategy? These are all great to use and you will see some pretty great success if you start following Marvel’s amazing examples. If you need help creating awesome content to go with your new content strategy, choose Express Writers! Our team is top notch when it comes to producing expert copy, and we can help get you to Marvel-levels of awesome with our work. Take a look at our web content and copywriting services to see what all we can provide you and your business.

Photo credit: nerdist.com