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10 New Year Blogging Centric Resolutions for the Content Marketer (Infographic)

With blogging as a source of 97% more inbound website backlinks, 126% more business lead growth, and much more (stats below), it’s a major, major foundation of content marketing you don’t want to miss out on in 2017.

To start January off with a bang, we decided to help share some inspiration for our fellow content marketers and create a list of 10 top resolutions to help you blog this year (better than you’ve ever blogged before)!

Print the following infographic below out, and hang it up to inspire your blogging and content progress all year. 😉 Here’s the PDF version, resolutions only, to download. Enjoy – written and designed by our team at Express Writers!

Blogging and Content Marketing Resolutions infographic

Why Make Blogging Resolutions for 2017?

Here’s some (serious) inspiration.

  • More than 200 million people (and a whopping 16% of the U.S. population) use ad blockers – so organic content (blogging is best!) is the only way to reach them.
  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links.
  • Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog.
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 5X more traffic than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.
  • Long-form blog posts earn 9x more leads than short-form posts.
  • 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 than they did in 2016.
  • The average length of top-ranking blogs is increasing – sitting at roughly 1,050 words in 2017.
  • 49% of marketers are focusing on aligning their content with the buyer’s journey.
  • Nearly 30% of the most successful marketers routinely repurpose their content. To join the club, though, you must have content to repurpose – and blogs are perfect for that!
  • 45% of all marketers report that writing blogs is the single most important piece of their content strategy.
  • 80% of decision makers would rather get information about a company through an article than they would through an advertisement.

10 Top Blogging Resolutions for the Content Marketer

 To outperform last year’s results and make 2017 one to remember, stick to these ten resolutions:

1. I will get backup in my content creation this year

No more stressing out about deadlines, topics, and writing it all. (Express Writers can help!)

2. I will be authoritative in every content piece I put out this year

If it’s less than authority expert level in my niche, it might not be worth my time.

3. I will never put quantity over quality

I should publish more blogs this year to increase my inbound leads, but if I’m rushing and the content is low quality, I shouldn’t publish. Quantity comes second to quality.

4. I will give my audience what they want

I will be relevant, use tools like BuzzSumo to research and find out what my audience wants in topics. This will help me gain more loyal customers.

5. I will increase my rankings by finding and writing around long-tail keywords

This is one of the top ways to gain blog spots in Google’s rankings.

6. I will promote and create

Creating isn’t enough: I also need a promotion plan. I will have social media management and an active social account connected to my blog.

7. I will be creative with topics and approaches

Content burn-out will only hurt me and my readers. This year, I’ll dig deeper to come up with more creative topics and new ways to approach topics and news.

8. I will take notes from my competitors

I will monitor my competitors to learn things like which keywords they’re targeting, which social platforms they’re using (and how), and what I can do to enhance my content efforts accordingly.

9. I will try new content forms

Interactive content, newsletters, infographics, and live-streaming can all boost my content strategy in 2017. I will expand into these new content forms to grow my business and expand my audience.

10. I will repurpose my content to get more traction

Repurposed content can help my content strategy stretch further. I will find creative ways to repurpose and re-use content of all types.

Ten 2017 Blogging Resolutions for the Content Marketer (Infographic) Sources:

New Year CTA express writers

content marketing in 2017

8 Ways to Win at Your Content Marketing in 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

winning at 2017 content marketing

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

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

1. Combine your written content with compelling visuals

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Target your content more appropriately to specific audiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

burberry

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

5. Use social media to promote your content, creatively

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

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

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

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

6. Place a renewed focus on email marketing

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

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

email marketing study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Hire expert writers to develop your content

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

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

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

Here’s to Your Best Content Marketing in 2017

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

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

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

New Year CTA express writers

business blog

15 Key Steps to Run a Successful Business Blog in 2016

When a B2B marketer maintains a business blog, they get 67% more leads than marketers who don’t. What’s more, companies with blogs earn 97% more website links than those without.

Convinced you need to blog?

Maybe the only problem is this question. How do you become a business blogger? How do you find blogging success in boosting your company, rep, and rankings online as a brand?

Get our free guide: “The Fast-Paced Business Owner’s Guide to Successful Blogging In Just 5 Minutes A Day”.

The process isn’t as hard as you might think. We’ve outlined 15 key steps to get you going this 2016. Ring in the New Year the right way – with great business blog foundations!

business blog

15 Foundational Steps to A Successful Business Blog

There are 15 key things you should be focusing on for blogging success—here they are.

1) Determine your niche

With so many businesses online right now, it can be tough to stand out from the crowd. For this reason, it’s important to decide what it is that you can do better from anyone else. Determining your niche is the foundation of everything from your target audience to your style of content, and it can help you go far in terms of deciding exactly what and how you will write.

2) Determine your goal

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to have a difficult time getting there! That’s why it’s important to make a decision about the purpose of your blog at the outset. Are you trying to drive conversions? Make sales? Increase engagement? No matter what your goal is, defining it will help you reach it.

3) Decide on topics

Now that you know what your blog’s goal is, which topics are you going to cover? The universe is a big place and it’s impossible to write about everything well. For this reason, it’s important to decide on which topics within your niche you’ll write about. For example, if you’re a business that specializes in inbound marketing, some of your main topics could be inbound lead generation and social media marketing.

4) Hone your point of view

Nowadays, honing your business’s point of view (POV) can go a long way toward earning you readers. Today’s consumers are much more willing to connect with a person than they are a company, and when you hone your POV you personalize your company, thus gaining a direct line into the minds of consumers.

5) Learn from your peers

Once you’ve decided what you want to write about and how, you’ll want to look around at what others in your industry are doing. Writing is a learned skill and if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you can learn a great deal from watching other people. Even if you are a strong writer, watching industry leaders can give you ideas for content and help you stay up to date on the hottest happenings in your industry.

Tip: Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find leaders and track the most-shared content in your niche.

6) Be consistent

One of the most important aspects of business blogging is remaining consistent. I almost put this as #1.

Just how consistent?

I’ve put out 600 blogs now between 2013 – today. 600. And 50+ website pages. Over 100 of my content pages (blogs, web pages) rank in the top 10 positions of Google. I gained that by writing and posting content at least 3x a week for over three years.

Business blogs that publish content on a regular schedule gain more leads than those who don’t. Additionally, every blog you write is one more page indexed in Google, which means that blogging on a regular basis can help produce an SEO boost that can make your company more visible online.

7) Interact with readers

Imagine if a band went out onstage and sang their songs but never signed autographs, gave high-fives, or took photos with their fans. Do you think they’d have fans for very long? Probably not! The same goes for your business blog. Once you’ve started to gain readers, it’s incredibly important to interact with those readers.

Tip: You can do this by reading and responding to your comments and polling readers about topic ideas and what they’d like to see more of. This creates an environment in which your readers are engaged and interested, which is the perfect platform for your business blog to thrive.

8) Be ethical

Your business blog isn’t going to get far if you don’t insist on ethics from the beginning. Blogging ethics can be a little complex and they go far beyond not copying other people’s work. Ethical blogging also includes things like ensuring your links are legitimate and not spamming readers or other bloggers. While building blog traffic doesn’t happen overnight, maintaining an ethical blogging practice is one of the best ways to ensure that your blog has a healthy, long lifespan.

9) Diversify your content

While 44% of B2B marketers have a content strategy, only 42% feel that the strategy is effective. Many experts believe that part of the reason for this perception this is true is that business bloggers aren’t diversifying their content enough. When you use your blog to share a variety of content types, you diversify the experience for users. This can lead to more readers, more leads, and more sales.

10) Use video & good visuals in your content

While it may not seem like videos have a place in a business blog, videos are some of the most popular content on the web right now. In case you needed proof, YouTube is uploading 72 new hours of video content each minute and, as a general rule, visitors spend approximately 88% more time on sites that include video. What’s more, video earns a site 3 times as much traffic as other types of content and consumers are a whopping 46% more willing to seek out additional information about a product, good, or service after being exposed to an online video.

Along with that, infographics and interactive gifographics do very well to spice up the content you deliver and publish and add visual flavor on your website. Attract more readers and viewers with content that’s visual as well as typed.

11) Include social sharing buttons on everything

We live in the social age and one of the best ways to ensure that your blog gets all of the traffic and shares it deserves is to include social sharing buttons on everything you write. In order to make your buttons effective rather than overwhelming, include no more than 2-3 buttons. For example, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. While it may sound counterintuitive, whittling down your social sharing buttons actually increases shares by making the decision-making process more simple.

12) Categorize posts

One of the most important factors for both SEO ranking and user experience is a site’s organization. If your blog is cluttered and difficult to navigate, it’s going to drive readers away, which will harm your SEO ranking and reflect badly in the SERPs.

For this reason, it’s important to categorize your posts to make them easy to find. Using categories, tags, and labels helps ensure that your readers can find the information they’re looking for every time, which in turn makes your blog a more enjoyable place to spend some time.

13) Focus on SEO

One of the best ways to ensure that your blog gets the attention it deserves is to focus on SEO. SEO stands for “Search engine optimization” and is the process by which you make your blog more readable to both people and search engines, which allows it to be found more easily by Google users. To optimize your blog for SEO, you’ll want to target the correct keyword phrases, optimize your images, build your linking strategy, promote user engagement, and use social sharing to expand your reach.

14) Measure your results

Once your business blog is up and running and features several quality posts, you’ll want to measure your success according to several important blogging metrics. While there are many success metrics, the most important for a business blog are visits, traffic sources, returning visitors, audience engagement, subscriber conversion, social shares, and visitor activities (bounce rate, etc.).

These metrics can help you gain insight into how well your content is working, or not. If your metrics are lower than you’d like them to be, poll your readers for topic ideas, consider hiring an expert content writer to ensure that you’re publishing high-quality posts on-time, and seek to diversify your content. These simple fixes can often go a long way toward boosting your traffic and producing metrics that make you smile.

15) Have fun!

Business blogging doesn’t have to be a stuffy affair! Take it from us 😉

Example: Want an example? Consider new-to-the game startup MeUndies, whose mission statement is funky, bold, fresh, and inspiring – words that aren’t often used to describe something as utilitarian as underwear. Have fun with your content, tell your story, get creative, and we can promise you – your business blog will go far.

Conclusion: There’s No Time to Business Blog Like the Present

Download our free new guide, “The Fast-Paced Business Owner’s Guide to Successful Blogging In Just 5 Minutes A Day”.

If you’ve ever considered starting a business blog, there’s no time like the present. Blogging has the potential to increase your site’s traffic and help you make more sales while also promoting user engagement and helping you bond with your customers. Plus, blogging has never been simpler than it is right now. You don’t have to be a whiz-kid or an SEO expert to start a killer business blog, simply follow these 15 steps, keep and open mind, and work hard. Chances are, you’ll see results sooner than you can say “Publish.”

content in 2016

The Key to Memorable Content in 2016: How to Tell Your Best Story

“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

J.R.R.Tolkien, The Hobbit, Gandalf speaking

content in 2016

What is “timeless” in our mind, as humans? What stays unforgotten, down through history?

The Bible. J.R.R.Tolkien. C.S. Lewis. Leo Tolstoy. William Shakespeare. Emily Bronte.

These are familiar names that are correlated with stories. Some of the greatest stories, of all time, ever written. And you know what? Nearly 90% of us (I bet those of you reading this post) know those names.

That’s pretty incredible – they’ve stuck that well through years and years of history.

Let’s turn from the world of unforgettable authored storytelling and look at a few marketing stories. Some aren’t boring, luckily.

If you were to sit down right now and turn on the television, what would you see?

Far too many commercials. And all these commercials have one thing in common: a story.

Regardless of whether they’re advertising a drug or a new car, commercials are one of the most easily identifiable instances of storytelling in marketing today.

The best commercial is the best-told, most-shared story.

Take, for example, the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial of 2015:

At first glance, you wouldn’t think that a Clydesdale and a yellow Labrador puppy have much of anything to do with beer, but this commercial did storytelling so well that it went viral with emotional connections (some shed tears).

So what is it about these brands and, more specifically, how are they getting their consumers to relate, love and appreciate their story—and immediately gain that connection?

All with the use of a great story?

And will this grow a lot in 2016?

Let’s find out.

Storytelling & Content in 2016: Why The Brain Loves Stories

It goes without saying that storytelling in marketing wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is if our brains weren’t ravenous for stories. It’s been estimated that we spend roughly 1/3 of our lives daydreaming, which means we’re constantly searching for an entertaining tale. What’s more, we consume upwards of 100,000 digital words on a daily basis, mostly in the form of advertisements and web copy, and the majority of us (about 92%) want to be able to internalize those words as a story.

For an example of this, consider Budweiser again. What sounds more appealing to you, personally: a list of ingredients including water, barley malt, rice, and yeast or a “best friends” tale of a little dog and a big horse who found friendship on the Budweiser farm?

The answer is obvious.

Budweiser opted for story over facts because the human brain loves stories much more than it loves lists of boring details. In fact, it’s been proven that storytelling in advertising actually activates interactive portions of the brain. For example, if a person reads a list of facts, only the language center of the brain is activated. If a person hears a story, though, the language portion of the brain lights up alongside other portions of the brain that are connected to personal experience.

In other words, experiencing a story makes us feel a personal connection. This is why storytelling in advertising is so incredibly effective: when a brand can tell a story that triggers an emotional connection in the consumer (like Budweiser did when I cried at their advertisement), that story has a higher likelihood of being remembered. This is due in large part to the fact that the brain releases dopamine during intense storytelling experiences, and this, in turn, leads to sales and conversions down the road.

Storytelling also engages the phenomena of “mirroring” in the human brain, which means that people listening to a really great story will share emotions with other viewers, but also with the person telling the story. To put this another way: if you can tell a story that fully underlines how life-changing, unique, important, and special your product, good, or service is, consumers are likely to agree with you.

5 Tips for Finding The Pot of Gold (Your Story) With Content In 2016

If you’re unfamiliar with brand storytelling or you’re simply interested in getting better at it, there are five key things that you can do to outshine your competitors and ensure that your stories are ones that customers want to engage with. These will hold strong in 2016:

1) Get real

Would the Budweiser ad have been as moving if it featured, say, an intergalactic alien duo? Probably not. The reason for this is that regardless of where you are at this exact moment in your life, you can probably relate to the cuteness of a puppy, the bond between friends, and the love of pets better than you can relate to life in outer space.

In other words, the Budweiser ad works because it is authentic.

Over the past several years, authenticity in content marketing has risen to near-epic levels of importance. This is at least partially due to the fact that there are more than 80 million millennials living in the U.S. today and 43% of them rank authenticity as more important than content in everything from news to blogs. With that in mind, it’s clear that the hokey advertising blasts of the 1950s-60s are dead and that a new wave of advertising has entered the picture. Not only does this advertising have to tell a story, but it has to be an authentic story.

For an example aside from the Budweiser ad, consider Rand Fishkin. Founder of Moz and SEO guru extraordinaire, Fishkin has built an Internet empire and is widely regarded as one of the key influencers in the industry. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, Fishkin almost went bankrupt in the early years of his career and he talks about it openly in a 2011 blog post titled “Just Keep Going.” Now, why would a successful guy like Rand espouse on his near-catastrophic early failures? Because it happened, it is authentic, and it helps people connect with his brand in a real and personal way. When it comes to storytelling, it doesn’t get much better than that.

2) Let your personality shine

There are innumerable companies online trying to sell products, so what’s going to set you apart? It’s likely that the product you sell is also sold, in some form or another, by roughly 742,561 competitors and, in light of that, there’s virtually nothing more important than letting your personality inform your storytelling. Consider Dollar Shave Club for a moment, who is maybe one of the best examples of a company that’s done this exceedingly well.

Dollar Shave Club sells razors, which is nothing new. But the way they’ve gone about it is. In the beginning of the brand’s career, the brand raised $75 million to fend off big name competitors like Gillette. Since the 2012 launch of the company’s now-viral promotional video, starring founder and CEO Michael Dubin, the company has grown to account for 13.3 percent of all razor sales in the U.S., with a subscriber base of more than 2 million customers. Part of that success is certainly due to a great product, but a healthy portion of it is due to creative storytelling that brands the company as unique, quirky, and fresh.

3) Create characters your audience loves

In the days of old, people used to wait months to read serialized versions of novels, all because there was a character in the story that they related to on a personal level. It’s a very powerful thing for a brand to create characters their audience wants to connect with and doing this ensures not only that the brand will be remembered by consumers, but it will also be recommended by consumers.

Consider Progressive Insurance, for example, who has created Flo. Flo is portrayed by Stephanie Courtney. The character has her own Twitter and Facebook profiles and has appeared in upwards of 100 of the company’s commercials.

Flo Twitter Screenshot

While insurance companies may all blend together for consumers, it’s likely that even if people don’t remember Progressive’s name, they’re going to remember the company’s advertisements and, thanks to Flo’s quirky, relatable nature, they’re going to choose Progressive over a company with a less effective advertising persona.

To follow in Progressive’s footsteps, create characters that your target persona will relate to and root for. This enhances consumer bonds to your product and ensures that you’ll outshine your competition in 2016.

4) Give it structure

We all learned in middle school that every good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This holds just as true for brand stories as it does for novels. In the beginning of a story, you should immediately establish the setting and characters. The middle should focus on the conflict that is central to the story. The end should offer a resolution. For a fantastic example of this, consider Amazon’s recent commercial advertising its “Prime” subscriber service.

The beginning of the commercial opens with the main characters (Jessie and his dog Flash). The middle of the commercial establishes the fact that Flash is in a cast and that he can’t romp with the other dogs and, frankly, that he feels a little embarrassed about his current state. The end of the commercial provides resolution when Jessie heads to Amazon Prime and orders a baby-wearing device (with free two-day shipping, of course) to tote Flash around in. The story is wrapped up in a neat little bow, the consumer is happy, and the value of Amazon Prime has been established through the structure of the advertisement.

5) Pace yourself

In storytelling as in life, it’s important to pace yourself and not give everything away at once. An effective storytelling campaign, much like an effective novel, is very careful to build and maintain a sense of tension. This keeps audiences wanting more and ensures that they’ll keep coming back to find out what happens next.

When a brand paces its storytelling effectively, it creates an environment in which the consumer is virtually embedded in the brand experiences. For a recent and timely example, consider the Christmas ads that Target has been running on television lately. The commercials are organized into Chapters (a nod to the novel) and tell the story of several children (all dressed in Target clothing) and Bullseye, the trademark Target dog, who go on an epic quest to light a huge Christmas tree for the enjoyment of the people.

 

Like the Advent calendars of yesteryear, this storytelling method provides excitement, fun, and anticipation for the consumer. After a consumer has viewed the commercial, he or she is directed to a special portion of Target’s website where the consumer can interact with a virtual storybook and access curated gift lists for kids of all ages.

 

Target Screenshot

 

In addition to promoting Target’s various products, this form of storytelling also borrows a bit from the epic adventure stories we all know and love. In this way, it makes audiences feel involved, excited, and linked to Target’s brand, while also helping people get into the Christmas spirit.

Find Your Story: Tell It

 From novels and movies to commercials and beyond, stories have always been deeply ingrained in the human experience and, when they’re good, they’ve always been one of our favorite ways to feel connection to other people.

Marketing has changed by leaps and bounds throughout the last several years and, today, the marketer who is the most likely to be successful is the one who can best establish an emotional connection with clients. One of the most sure-fire ways to do this is and has always been through brand storytelling.

While storytelling has existed as a marketing tactic for decades, storytelling in 2016 promises to be more colorful, more personal, more intriguing, and more exciting than ever. As customers move toward favoring brands that are authentic, innovative, reliable, and unique, marketers can stay ahead of the curve by following these tips on storytelling and ensuring that every piece of content your brand puts out engages your customers through effective, irresistible storytelling.

A Glance Back at 2014 & What’s Ahead For 2015 Web Content

The importance of online content has been growing at a fast pace over the past few years. Since 2011, when the first Panda hit down on bad content, website owners around the world realized that they needed to get well-written content in order to rank their site well, get traffic, and gain favor in the eyes of Google.

The Internet: Today’s Marketplace, and Your Web Content The Goods

The Internet is a means of livelihood, and an activity central for more than 3.03 billion people, and growing daily. Think of the Internet as a huge marketplace, and the goods marketed are the content you offer to your visitors. How good your content is simply equals how many will buy from you. With the growth of online content comes the growth of the Internet as a whole. It’s now a major hub, a world not unlike the air traffic in the Fifth Element. And content realization has grown into yet a bigger reality and focus. Today, content is a fundamental cornerstone of online marketing. It’s how to maintain your site in search engines, as a fundamental; and beyond that, it’s how to grow, flourish, and prosper online. I fully believe that well-written content is (and has been) the stepping-stone to your online success.

Back in 2014, we predicted a few things about content, from 11 content marketing predictions, 6 more marketing geared predictions, and 10 SEO predictions, to a major prediction that 2014 would be the year of the informer. Overall, our stress was on quality content becoming a major factor for growing your online marketing and ranking in the SERPS. And boy, did that happen in a big way! Let’s take a look.

We Said 2014 Will Be The Year Of The Informer.

If your content doesn’t inform, it won’t rank and succeed. We said there would be a huge demand for quality content, and every company would know the importance of it. We stressed that authority of content (through research, expert writing, and fact-sharing), long pieces with evergreen content (how-to guides, useful content), unique content with your own style (standing out from competition), and mobile and social status would become important.

Penguin 3 Hit Late 2014, and We Immediately Started Ranking.

Quality of content tied into better rankings sure did happen this year. Penguin 3 came out late 2014, and it boosted the ranking of good content around the Internet—and we experienced great results. Around November of 2014, we experienced a HUGE increase in rankings: literally, 400 unique visitors on a Saturday, more than double our typical. When we looked into it, we discovered it was directly related to a big surge in rankings right around mid-October right around Penguin’s time.

Major Google Happenings In 2014

Now, here were a few big things about 2014 web content we didn’t see coming (and I bet no one did!)—

  • Authorship died. Authorship was officially dead and buried in August 28, after a few back and forth stints where photos got removed, although the ranking factor still existed. Finally, it was entirely removed in August 28. So, we were wrong when we said that being an informer in your content would tie into your Authorship rankings!
  • Google Pirate came out. It’s not hard to discern that Google would eventually crack down on illegal torrents, which offered people a way to avoid buying and renting digital movies from those who pay Google high Adwords dollars. Google not only did that in 2014, but they named the algorithm after typical torrent hosts and went to target those very people with the Google Pirate update around November.
  • HTTPS (SSL) became a ranking signal. Google officially made that happen in September of 2014. We upgraded our site to an SSL this year as a result. Once again, this ties into quality –your content is secured and safe to viewers, and Google gives you kudos for that.

3 Content Predictions: What’s Ahead for 2015

There’s even bigger things ahead for 2015 web content. We’ve already written a piece on what 2015 content will look like, and what to expect, so we’ll nutshell it here and give you only the most important predictions and thoughts.

 

  1. Content Importance & Vitality Will Increase. We said it last year, we said it the year before, and so did numerous others in our industry. I’m saying it again for 2015: content importance and the vitality of your written content will increase. If you don’t have a blog, but you own a website and a business, you better start a blog today. It’s vital. It will bring you more traffic, offer you a platform to continually add effective content to your site, and grow your engagement. If you do have a blog, consider doing an audit and effectively analyze it to catch what’s wrong. Start curating ideas for better topics. Don’t just write blogs; be the best in your industry. Write guides. Think of things that haven’t been covered. That’s how you can succeed with your content. It will be necessary to audit and curate (analyze and create ideas) continually in the new year, since there will be so much content out there and to stand out in the crowd (or rather, flood) you will need to make your own mark. And that’s hard, when almost every idea on the planet has already been written on.
  1. Content Outlets Will Grow. In 2014, we saw LinkedIN posts and Medium become great content marketing channels. Our own content grew to include top guest blog networks like SearchEngineJournal and SEMRush. In 2015, I suspect more content channels will happen. I can also tell you that these channels are very important, and a low investment for a lot of potential ROI. From being on SiteProNews, we have seen several lucrative content clients come in who found our blogs there very helpful for their own content marketing. We provided value through a written guide, and they became our client. Content outlets will grow, I predict, in 2015; and you’ll be successful in every new outlet if you stick to quality (a quality network/guest blog arena), and providing value (only share what brings real value to your audience and readers). Read our 10 content platforms to post on in 2015.
  2. There Are 4 Social Media Networks You MUST Be On, & Activity Here Will Grow. Last year, and the year before, we stressed “don’t forget social and mobile.” Now, I’m telling you to make it a major focus. Make your site mobile friendly and stay active on all social networks. Almost half of our traffic comes from mobile users. Yours could be more than that. If they can’t read a few sentences or even see your site on their mobile device, you’re in trouble. As for social networks, stay active on the important ones and be on the lookout for new ones. Ello was kind of a flop, in my opinion. It phased in pretty quick – lots of people were jumping on – and now I hear no more about it. You should focus on these networks:
  • Facebook is still essential, if only because of the ginormous amount of people on this social network. Tailor how active you are to how much traffic you get, naturally. This will be a lot more if you’re a local business with a Facebook check-in page, potentially less if you’re a universal company (like us) with a more online-based location.
  • Google Plus (G+) is starting to become busier and active. Every time you post a blog to your site, post the link with a blurb to your G+. It will you’re your content get indexed.
  • Pinterest has become very popular and is growing. Tailor your activity here to your audience level, again. If you sell cookware, this could be a big place for you, since a lot of cooks use Pinterest.
  • Twitter is by far the busiest hub of social activity for our company. Who knew tweets could convey so much? We participated in things like #bufferchat, #semrushchat in 2014. You should have a presence here and follow your industry peers, mention and connect.
  • LinkedIn is growing, tied into their content marketing network. Be sure to include content pieces written and focused for that professional network in the New Year.

As the saying goes, “only God knows what the New Year holds.” We have no idea exactly where content will go, besides increasing overall in value—but we know it’s going big places, and we will be waiting & ready when you need us!