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Category Archive: Content Marketing

  1. 7 Qualities of Content That Earns Links

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    Link building is a must for any SEO campaign. Without a solid ongoing strategy to increase your domain authority through offsite links, you’ll be missing out on a significant ranking boost—significant enough that it could compromise your entire campaign.

    However, building links in the traditional way—that is to say, manually hunting down quality sources and posting your backlink in each location—is both tedious and risky. Spending all that time building manual links is a waste of valuable resources that could be used for more important tasks. Plus, if one of your links appears to be unnaturally built or irrelevant to the conversation, you could be hit with a Google penalty.

    The better, easier, more effective way to build links is to use content to get the job done. When you create a piece of exceptional content, it will be shared and posted on other sites with links pointing back to your domain; essentially, your audience is going to do all your link building for you, and that backlink composition will be both natural and diverse, giving you the most authority for your effort.

    However, creating a piece of “exceptional” content is easier said than done. It takes time and talent to create a great piece of content worthy of thousands of social shares, but these seven qualities can get you started:

    1. Original

    articleimage859original

    First and perhaps most importantly, your idea has to be original. People aren’t going to share your article if they’ve read different versions of it a hundred times before. Coming up with a unique idea can be difficult, so try taking a new angle on a previously explored subject. What new information can you contribute? What new ideas can you unfold? Original research goes a long way in making your content more shareable, so if you can, get your hands on some. It might take some extra time and money upfront, but the added benefit is that more external sources will link to you in an effort to cite your data.

    2. Informative.

    articleimage859informative

    Next, your content needs to be informative. It’s true that many modern memes become viral a simple image with some text pasted onto it, but achieving virality with these types of memes will not result in attracting new links. Instead, your content needs to be informative, or at least have an informative component. Again, it’s better if the information you’re providing is original, but if you’re offering new ideas or new strategies and using secondary data to back it up, the result will be similar.

    3. Entertaining.

    Consolidating raw information and submitting it through social channels isn’t enough to attract significant attention. You’ll also need to have an entertaining component, which usually comes in the form of a light tone or a bit of humor. How entertaining your content can be depends on your brand standards, but including things that make people smile or laugh as they encounter your content is always a good idea. You can also use a more casual voice to appeal to a wider audience.

    4. Practical.

    Random facts and statistics can be interesting and entertaining, fulfilling the three requirements above, but learning about the sun’s average surface temperature isn’t necessarily practical if you’re running a B2B sales agency. Practicality is a big factor in content that goes viral, since the individuals who share the content will get credit for sharing worthwhile information. Make sure your content is practical when you’re coming up with the concept for your piece, and frame your information in a way that makes it useful to your audience.

    5. Visual.

    Written content is great, but when you want to attract significant external links, it just won’t get the job done. Your content needs a visual component if you want it to circulate virally. Many times, this means formatting your information in the form of an infographic, or consolidating your information into a video. If you don’t have the resources or experience to produce one of these mediums, at least include some strong images in the body of your written work.

    6. Interactive.

    articleimage859interactive

    Interactivity is a difficult quality to build into a traditional piece of content, but the more interactive your work is, the more likely it is to be shared and published on external sources. Simply asking your followers for their thoughts can add an interactive touch to an existing piece, as can inviting others to contribute to your data. The key is to make sure your followers feel like they are noticed and appreciated.

    7. Timely.

    Trends come and go quickly, and striking when the iron is hot is critical if you’re out to capture the greatest number of links. For example, if you’re working on a piece that has to do with a current event, make sure it’s published within a day or two of the original article. If it’s focused on the impact of a new technology, wait until the technology starts to increase in popularity before you release your content so you can capture the greatest number of interested consumers. The timing of your content can mean the difference between limited syndication and thousands of new shares.

    If you can create a piece of content with these seven qualities, you’ll be in a prime position to earn a host of new links. Syndicate your content through social channels to earn the greatest possible initial visibility, and let your followers take care of the rest. Once done, you can monitor the progress of your efforts by auditing your backlink profile with a tool like Open Site Explorer—from there, you can easily determine your overall effectiveness, and make strategic changes for your next viral content push.

  2. How to Find Cheap Images in Your Content Marketing Strategy

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    One of content marketing’s biggest advantages is the fact that it can be used even without a massive budget. Traditional advertising campaigns, which once required costly physical placement, would price small- to medium-sized business owners out of the running, but written content—which can be easily produced and syndicated online—has no such barrier.

    However, having a basic content marketing strategy is no longer enough to see exponentially increasing returns. Almost every company with an online presence is using some form of content marketing, which increases competition and drastically increases the need for companies to find new ways of standing out. Images, which can enhance the visual attractiveness and inherent value of content, are a pivotal element to building a more compelling content strategy, but finding affordable images can be a challenge.

    Fortunately, there are many free and cheap sources of images that you can use to complement and support your content strategy.

    Why Images Are Important

    articleimage850Why Images Are Important

    Written content is great; it provides detailed information, rounds out online pages, and perhaps most importantly, gives something tangible for Google to scan and interpret. Posting high-quality text-only content will undoubtedly earn you some loyal readers and followers, but it’s difficult to get noticed unless you have a strong visual cue to draw your readers in.

    For example, site visitors are far more likely to click into an article that features an image in its heading than they are a plain-text article; according to MDG Advertising,that distinction can earn you 94 percent more views. Similarly, shared articles and features on social media tend to get more likes, clicks, and shares if they sport an accompanying image. You can even increase the value of your blog post by using illustrative or example images to prove or validate your points.

    There are many ways to use images in your content marketing campaign, but all of them ultimately serve the same goals: increasing your visibility and improving your users’ experience.

    Free Sources of Images

    articleimage851Cheap Sources of Images

    Obviously, if you can get your images for free, you’re going to want to. Fortunately, there are dozens of sources of free images on the web, and most of them have a surprisingly diverse collection of material. It will take you some time to find the perfect source for your needs, but once you have one, your image-hunting will be accelerated and simplified.

    As a first step, try out Photo Pin. It’s a completely free tool that allows you to search through Creative Commons photos and images from sites like Flickr. If you find an image you like, you’ll be able to download it and then use it as you see fit—whether it’s embedded in the body of your post or just serving as an accompanying image. However, do note that not all photos on Photo Pin are licensed for commercial use, so be sure to verify the licensing agreement before you put them to use.

    Other options for free images include:

    • Pixabay,a free search tool to find images on the web
    • Wikimedia Commons, an open source database that hosts millions of photos, as well as sounds and videos (should you find yourself needing some)
    • com, which collects submissions from designers and photographers and presents them for free use

    Remember Your Attribution

    When using free images, it’s legally mandated and personally courteous to give proper attribution. On most of these free sources, you’ll find short snippets of code that you can copy and paste into your blog in order to post a proper attributing link. If you can’t find one, be sure to acknowledge the source of the image and link back to where you originally found it.

    Cheap Sources of Images

    articleimage851Cheap Sources of Images (1)

    There are also a number of relatively inexpensive subscription and per-image sources of visual content on the web. For example, Picjumbo offers a number of free images, as well as a $6 monthly subscription for more advanced features and a wider variety of available photos. Compfightis another search tool that will populate both free images and paid stock photos that you can browse for and purchase for a reasonable price.

    When to Pay a Little Extra

    Cheap and free sources of images are great for the small business owner looking to enhance his/her content marketing strategy with a handful of visual pieces. However, there are some drawbacks to using these types of images over a long period of time.

    First, the pool of images you have to choose from is significantly smaller. You may find that you’re using the same image as another site for a different blog, or that your image appears so general and common that it turns some users away. Handling your own photography, paying for more diverse images, or creating your own images through other means can remedy this, but also cost more as a result.

    Second, the images you find on free and cheap providers aren’t specific to what you’re covering. Demonstrating a step-by-step tutorial through images or creating an interactive infographic will require you to find or create very specific visuals; if this is your goal, free or cheap images will not be a possibility.

    If you’re trying to dramatically increase the value of a blog, create a piece of standalone visual content, or otherwise try to use images to bolster your authority, remember that you get what you pay for. For the more important images, it’s almost always worth paying a little extra, or taking extra initiative to find the perfect material.

    For the budget-conscious entrepreneur trying to make gradual improvements to his/her content marketing strategy, free and cheap sources of images are the way to go. All it takes is a bit of extra time and dedication to find the right images to complement your work.

  3. 7 Content Hacks That Can Make You a Better Writer

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    Improving your own writing can be a challenge, especially if you already have a system for how, when, and why you write your posts. Experienced content marketers may fall into the trap of repeating the same process and the same ideas or losing track of the established brand voice, while new content marketers might struggle to get established with a solid foundation. Either way, if you want to improve, you’re going to have to work at it.

    The best way to get better at anything is to practice, but sometimes practicing the same thing over and over can actually make your writing suffer even more. That’s why I’ve come up with these seven “content hacks,” which can jumpstart your content campaign and make you a better writer:

    1. Collaborate.

    articleimage846Collaborate

    Writing in the same voice on the same topics can get repetitive. Even if you enjoy the work, you may find that your writing naturally addresses the same recurring themes in the same predictable ways. It’s happened to all of us. One of the best solutions to this is finding another voice to add a fresh, unique layer to your writing. This can come in a variety of forms: you can ask around the office to generate new ideas for your blog you hadn’t considered before, you can offer guest posts from new writers on your blogs, or you could simply have a new face give feedback on your work. However you choose to do it, getting outside perspective can help.

    2. Peek at the Competition.

    articleimage846Peek at the Competition

    Your competition can be your greatest allies when it comes to content marketing. If you’re looking to infuse your content with some new ideas and a new direction, your competition can serve as the perfect platform. See what they’re writing about, and how they’re writing about it, then figure out a strategy you can use to incorporate those themes into your own strategy. Don’t mirror them exactly; instead of mimicking one of their posts with a similar one of your own, take a different stance or a different approach. It’s a perfect opportunity to refine your abilities and adjust your overall direction.

    3. Get Current.

    articleimage846Get Current

    Read the news. Read as much of the news as often as you can, both within your industry and on a national and international level. This is going to help your writing in two ways. First, you’ll have greater exposure to the events going on around you, and as a result those themes and concerns will naturally find their way to your writing. You’ll appear more up-to-date, you’ll appeal to a modern audience, and you’ll appear more authoritative as well. Second, you’ll be able to incorporate more of an authoritative tone in your writing by exposing yourself to higher journalistic standards. You may not need to adjust your tone, but it should help you write more confidently about your subject matter.

    4. Look Back.

    Instead of looking at everything currently going on in the world, you can take the opposite route by taking a long look back. Go through your older blog posts, analyzing the types of topics you’ve covered and how you’ve presented the material. Hopefully, you’ve evolved as a writer over the course of time, and you’ll be able to rediscover and re-present those topics in a new, better light. On the other hand, discovering your old writing style could help you refine your voice to a more consistent, more clearly defined state.

    5. Address Problems.

    One of the best ways to find great topics to write about is to address the problems your customers and readers face. It’s more valuable to the people reading it, and it’s going to attract more people naturally as they search for solutions to their specific problems. However, finding problems to address in itself can improve your abilities as a writer. Do some research on your current and prospective customers, discovering their major pain points and what problems they currently face (related to your industry). This can give you a deeper insight into your target audience and a better understanding of how your industry works, which in turn will improve your writing style.

    6. Use Multiple Mediums.

    It seems counterintuitive that using images, videos, or other alternative mediums could make you a better writer, but it is true. Incorporating different mediums into your writing forces you to think about your subject matter in new ways, giving you the opportunity to craft a more specific, more comprehensive message around the presence of an alternative source. It also has the nice side effect of attracting more readers, keeping them engaged for longer, and improving your domain authority in the eyes of search engines.

    7. Invite Discussion.

    Finally, use your blogs and other forms of content to invite discussion amongst your readership. Cover a subject to the best of your ability, and open up some questions to your audience related to that subject. This, by itself, won’t improve your writing, but it will open the door for your readers to share their thoughts on your selected topic. Over time, you’ll gain insights about your audience and new perspectives on your usual range of topics. As long as you can incorporate those insights in meaningful ways in your own writing, you’ll see improvement in your content strategy.

    Put these content hacks to good use; you’ll find that the more you diversify your outreach and shake up your routine with new tactics, the more agile and comprehensive your writing will become. Of course, as you continue to sustain your writing efforts, you may find yourself falling into a rut. If this happens to you, reintroduce these hacks into your process and get your creative momentum back.

  4. 5 Types of Written Content You Need Other Than a Blog

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    Content is king, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.Through content marketing, businesses can improve their online reputation by appearing more authoritative, attract new customers by offering valuable information, and even get higher search visibility through SEO. While visual forms of content, like images and videos have taken many forms as supporting players in mainstream content strategies, written content has remained relatively stagnant in the form of an onsite blog.

    Onsite blogs are important because they’re highly valued by Google, and they give you a perfect opportunity to regularly update your site with new information. However, it’s important to have complementary forms of written content to fully round out your strategy. Here are five of the most valuable types you can use:

    1. Landing Page Copy.

    No matter what type of business you have or what your ultimate goals are, a landing page should be a part of your strategy. As a standalone page, your landing page will serve as the target destination for whichever segment of your audience you choose to funnel to it—for example, you could use social media or PPC advertising to drive targeted users to the appropriate page.

    The goal of your landing page should be to drive your users to a conversion. How you define that conversion is up to you; for e-commerce sites, that conversion is a product purchase, but for B2B companies, a conversion could be the filling out of a short information form.Because it’s your conversion gateway, the copy of your landing page is some of the most important written content you’re going to have. Take your time and develop the most concise, most appealing wording you can to maximize your potential return.

    2. Social Media Updates.

    articleimage845Social Media Updates

    Social media marketing should already be a part of your content marketing strategy, but you need to use those platforms for more than just basic updates and simplistic responses. Social media posting is a written art, and it’s much more complex than people realize.

    Because you have a shorter space and shorter attention spans to deal with, you’re going to need to reduce your content to the bare minimum. It’s an entirely different format than a blog post, where you have room to elaborate on your ideas. Instead of focusing on detail or value, you need to focus on conciseness, and appeal to your customers as immediately and as clearly as possible.

    The best way to improve your social media posting game is to measure the effectiveness of each of your posts. Use Facebook analytics and regular observations to determine which of your posts seem to get the most attention—are there certain topics or phrases that get more attention than others? Refine your strategy accordingly.

    3. Whitepapers.

    articleimage845whitepapers

    Whitepapers are dying in popularity due to their length and the requirement of effort involved, but they are still a highly valuable form of written content to use for your business. Select a topic in your industry—try to be as specific as possible—and write in as much detail as you can about it.

    Then, use your whitepaper as a bargaining chip. Offer it as compensation for some type of user action—such as a reward for filling out a form or a questionnaire—or use it as a marketing tool to show off your true value. It’s your chance to show off what a major authority you are in the industry, provide valuable information to your customer, and immediately improve your reputation as a result.

    If you’ve written a truly great whitepaper, you can even try to sell it as an independent product and recoup some of the costs you spent creating it.

    4. Case Studies.

    Specific case studies are valuable because they describe a real example of your company’s work. Start off by describing your customer or client, including a description of how they were before your involvement, then describe the products and services you offered followed by a description of how they ended up. Use statistics and specific facts to back up your case, and try not to be too salesy with it—your goal should be to logically and factually demonstrate why your relationship was valuable to your client, not to directly sell.

    That being said, case studies can be a valuable sales tool to offer on your site and distribute to your potential leads. Visualizing the type of results that are possible, in the form of a real story, has an incredibly powerful effect.

    5. Original Research.

    articleimage845Original Research

    Of all the types of written content I’ve covered, this is probably the most difficult to accomplish, especially if you’re a startup or a small business with limited resources. Coming up with an idea for original research alone takes a substantial amount of effort, not to mention the exhaustive follow-through. Depending on what you’re researching and compiling, it could require a full-time team member.

    In any case, producing original research makes you an instant magnet for inbound links. Writers and industry players everywhere will be dying to cite your brand-new information. It also bolsters your reputation as a thought leader in the industry, since you’ll be producing the information before anyone else. And like with whitepapers, if your original research is high enough quality, you can introduce it as a paid product, and make a little extra money on the side.

    Every business is unique, so you may not need to include all these types of content in your specific strategy. However, it’s a good idea to at least consider forms of content as alternatives to the traditional blog post. Diversifying your strategy can only be beneficial for your search engine rankings, for your brand reputation, and for your overall user experience.

  5. The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Conversion Optimization

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    Content marketing is a valuable strategy for many reasons: among them, it’s responsible for increasing your ranks in search engines, it builds your brand reputation, and it attracts new customers to your site if your content is effectively syndicated. But the most important purpose for a content marketing strategy, and the ultimate goal for all of its peripheral effects, is getting more sales for your business, and sales are driven by conversions.

    If you can optimize your content marketing strategy to generate a greater number of conversions, you can increase the ROI of your campaign and build a bigger customer base from your readership. Throughout this guide, we’ll cover the most important ways you can optimize your content for conversions.

    A Note on What Constitutes a “Conversion”

    articleimage823A Note on What Constitutes a Conversion

    Conversions aren’t the same for every business. An online marketplace might consider a conversion to be a successful purchase and cart checkout, while a B2B service provider might be satisfied with getting someone to fill out a short form with their personal information. However you define conversions on your site, getting more of them is going to increase your sales and justify the time and resources you spend on your content.

    If your site is set up properly, there should be ample opportunities for conversion no matter where a user ventures. There should be some visible form or call to action on every page to help guide your users to a successful conversion.

    Maximizing User Retention

    articleimage823Maximizing User Retention

    Because you’ll have conversion opportunities everywhere, the longer a user stays on your site, the more chances you’ll have at successfully converting them. Bounce rates are the worst enemy of conversions; once a user leaves your site, there is no chance of getting them to convert. Therefore, your content should do a good job of leading your readers deeper into the site.

    First, you’ll need to make sure your content is captivating. If a reader ventures into your site and finds your content to be irrelevant, non-useful, or poorly written, you will likely face an immediate bounce. Instead, make sure all your content is compelling, interesting, and entertaining. While this is easier said than done, having an appealing content strategy is an important foundation for optimizing for conversions.

    Second, interlink your site heavily. On each page, include at least one link to another internal page (so long as it’s relevant to your content). This is especially useful on your blog, where you can link your readers to more specific information about related topics. These links are opportunities for your readers to venture deeper, and the more chances they have to do that, the better.

    Setting Up Appropriate Funnels

    Next, you’ll want to ensure you have appropriate funnels set up for your inbound traffic. The bottom of your funnel is going to be your primary opportunity to convert: this could be a designated internal page, a separate landing page, or even just a form at the bottom of your page. However you choose to convert your users, place that conversion opportunity at the bottom of your funnel and build outward.

    For example, if you have separate segments of users coming to your site, don’t funnel them all to the same destination. Use a separate funnel for each segment of your audience, and build outward. As a simplistic scenario, imagine you sell cars and trucks. You could have a separate conversion form for each category, and use your content articles (categorized as car-related or truck-related, accordingly) to drive users to the correct ultimate destination.

    Using Strong Calls to Action

    articleimage823 using Strong Calls to Action

    If you want to successfully get your users to take action, you have to make them want to take action. The best way to do this in the context of a content strategy is through strong language, generally toward the end of your article.

    For example, if you’ve sufficiently covered the news and information on a new type of chair you’re selling, you could conclude with something like, “Contact us to find a perfect chair for your needs” or “Customize your own set of chairs today!” These phrases both include a strong prompt in the form of a command—in the first example, this is “contact us,” and in the second example, this is the pairing of “Customize” and “today.” Ideally, these would both have embedded hyperlinks taking the user to the intended destination for conversion.

    Without a call to action within the body of your content, your users simply won’t take action. They may venture to different corners of your site through your interlinking structure, but they aren’t going to take any concrete action unless they are instructed to.

    Emphasizing Value

    Conversions are difficult because people are reluctant to hand over their money (or their personal information, if you’re trying to convert through an informational form). In order to successfully convert, you have to convince them that the transaction is valuable for them.

    If you’re selling products, your goal should be to convince your reader that your product is valuable before you confront them with the option to make a purchase. For example, in your blog, you can detail the reasons why a product pays for itself over time, or emphasize the value of your product versus that of a competitor. However you choose to do it, by the time your user has a chance to convert, they should be convinced that your product is worth buying.

    If you’re simply fishing for information, you’ll have a slightly easier job. All you’ll have to do is have some kind of valuable offer in exchange for the signup. If you’re already engaged in a content marketing strategy, this can be something as simple as a free download of a whitepaper, or a subscription to an email blast with exclusive content. It could also be a free trial or free sample. Again, whatever you choose, make sure it is valuable enough to the user to warrant the transaction.

    Using Interruptions

    One strategy to getting more conversions is to interrupt your readers with an opportunity to convert. For example, you could set an automated ad to pop up when a user is on a blog page for a specific amount of time, blocking the content until the user either submits their information or closes the window. This strategy is annoying to many users, so you might get a few extra bounces, but the users who remain will be far more likely to convert. Just be sure to keep your form fields short so your users can submit their information quickly and keep reading.

    No two companies are the same, and no two conversion strategies are going to be alike. When you first start optimizing for conversions, you may find it difficult to gain traction, even if you’re following all the best practices you can. It’s going to take time to learn how your audience behaves, and what drives them to make purchasing decisions after reading your content. As you learn more about your audience, make adjustments to your approach and continue to refine your strategy. You should notice your conversion rate increasing over time, and as a result, you’ll have more revenue to continually reinvest in your inbound marketing strategy.

  6. Where Will Content Marketing Be in 2016?

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    Content marketing has been a leading strategy for online brands throughout the past several years, especially since the Panda Update of 2011 rolled out and dramatically reshaped what factors contributed to Google rankings. Because keyword stuffing was no longer a viable option for building authority or rank, and because user experience became a more critical component to online marketing success, content marketing campaigns began to evolve and become the central point of a broader strategy that involves SEO, social media marketing, PR, and online conversions.

    But, like any online marketing strategy, content marketing is subject to rapid changes and near-constant evolution. Content marketing today is different than content marketing in 2011, and content marketing in 2016 is going to be much different than it is today. There are a number of unanswered questions about the future of content marketing, and while it’s impossible to accurately predict the future in any detail, we do have a few suspicions about how content marketing will evolve over the course of the next year.

    Is Content Marketing Dying?

    articleimage821iscontentmarketingdying

    The first question I want to address is one of the most common I’ve seen. Anytime someone mentions the future of content marketing, someone is quick to mention the fact that content marketing might not be successful forever. This is driven by a mentality that content marketing is a fad, since in many ways, it developed as a fad.

    However, I believe that content marketing is in no danger of dying—at least not anytime soon, and certainly not before 2016. While the rapid growth of content marketing is similar to that of a temporary fad, the fundamental principles behind content marketing are anything but short-term. Content marketing is all about providing value to your customers and building a reputation, and those principles are never going to fade in importance. The types of content that provide the most value and the steps necessary to achieve visibility for that content are going to change, and because of that, content marketing will change.

    Overabundance Issues

    One of the biggest problems content marketing is going to face in the next year is overabundance. Because content marketing is universally acclaimed as a high-efficiency customer engagement strategy, almost every business with an online presence is using it. For consumers, this is great, because almost any topic you search for has been covered by some brand, somewhere. But for companies, this is getting increasingly difficult. How can you possibly find a topic that someone else hasn’t already done? If a hundred people have already covered a topic, how can you possibly cover it better?

    This overabundance could have two serious effects in 2016, as an already-saturated market becomes even more saturated:

    • Companies will start to struggle to come up with original content, especially in industries that don’t change quickly. This will serve as a rift in content marketing’s effectiveness, leaving the strategy effective only for businesses and industries that are subject to rapid changes or constantly emerging new ideas.
    • Consumers will start to grow tired of “traditional” content posts. Already, we can see this happening; sensationalized headlines and listicle-style articles are starting to lose their edge with consumers. As a result, content marketing formats will need to evolve.

    Wearable Technology

    articleimage821wearable technology

    Wearable technology has already begun to develop in the form of Google Glass and smart watches, but as the Apple Watch comes out in 2015, market analysts are projecting a sudden growth spurt in the wearable tech industry. Smart watches could very well become the norm, nearly replacing smartphones by the end of 2015, and new forms of augmented reality devices could break down the few remaining barriers between how we interact with the digital world and how we interact with the real one.

    Assuming this cultural shift succeeds, more users will start relying on the functionality of these small, attached, mobile devices, instead of consulting their desktops while at home. This will have two immediate effects:

    • The tiny screens of smart watches and other first-generation wearable devices will not be conducive to lengthy content. As a result, fewer people will be reading traditional content pieces, and you’ll receive less traffic as a result, should you follow your old strategy.
    • People will become reliant on finding information on the fly. Rather than searching for and reading articles on a given topic, they will use voice search and app functionality to find quick, easily digestible answers.

    Both of these effects will diminish the need for traditional written content, but at the same time, they will increase the need for content in new forms—smaller, more condensed, more easily accessible forms.

    SEO Changes

    articleimage821SEO

    Wearable technology will undoubtedly influence the world of SEO, but SEO will also evolve on its own path. The app-based functionality of smart watches will further the shift from traditional web pages to apps, and the voice search component will increase the importance of semantic search, versus traditional keyword-based queries.

    People will also be doing more searches on the go, prompting Google to make updates related to proximity-based user input. This will increase the specificity of local searches, providing relevant results for searches on a block level rather than just a city or region level. It will also increase the need for hyper-local results, stepping up demand for new forms of content for local businesses. For example, special offers and integrated functionality for local businesses could be rewarded in search results because they’re more relevant for wearable tech users.

    Interactive Media

    One of the biggest effects of the content overabundance problem is the fact that consumers are growing tired of traditional forms of content. By 2016, it’s possible that the 400-word written, informative blog post will become obsolete.

    Users are unique, and as the resources available online become more diverse and more accessible through mobile devices, users are going to require more and more unique experiences. Because traditional content is stagnant and universal, users won’t feel like they’re getting a wholly unique experience. However, if you can include an interactive factor in your content, you’ll solve the problem of stagnation and you’ll be able to attract more users to an exclusive, individual experience.

    Interactive media will take many forms—it could be personalized messages, branching content that users can control, or a single experience presented in multiple mediums—the key is to provide a unique and ever-changing experience that goes beyond the traditional model of content.

    How to Start Preparing Now

    It’s not entirely clear how content marketing will fit into the online world in 2016, but there are a few things we know and a few predictions we can make that can shape your strategy moving forward:

    • Break the mold. People are starting to get tired of the “same old” content, and that trend is only going to continue. Find new ways to present information and find new information to present. Whatever you can do to stand out, do it.
    • Get ready for hyper-local searches. Play up your geographical location in your content, and start brainstorming special offers you can give to wearable tech users.
    • Call to the individual. Anything you can do to give your users more power, more control, and more engagement with your strategy is beneficial.

    Keep an eye on content marketing developments moving forward and stay flexible as content evolves in this new era of inbound marketing.

  7. How to Build a Content Marketing Campaign on a Shoestring Budget

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    Dealing with a tight budget is one of the biggest challenges to an entrepreneur, particularly a small business owner with limited resources, limited capital, and an unsteady flow of revenue to boot. To an unacquainted small business owner, faced with countless financial challenges, the prospect of a “content marketing campaign” may seem frivolous. Why spend so much essential money on hiring a writer or specialist when there are more important needs to take care of?

    It’s true that content marketing isn’t your top priority—securing the stability of the business must always come first. But investing in a content marketing program is a way of investing in yourself, and if you don’t make that commitment, you may suffer the consequences in the form of lost business and reduced brand visibility.

    Fortunately, in addition to being nearly essential for any modern business, content marketing is financially flexible. If you have money to spend, you can go all-out with a spectacular campaign, but even when you’re working with a shoestring budget, it’s possible to gain the benefits of a campaign.

    Minimum Viable Product and the Course of Expansion

    articleimage786Minimum Viable Product and the Course of Expansion

    With a content marketing campaign, you won’t be spending much money on tangible items. You might need to purchase an image, and you might want to pay for some extra advertising, but for the most part all you’ll be paying for is the work that needs done—namely, writing and pushing your content. Because the typical and most conventionally successful options for this are hiring an agency or bringing on someone full-time, many entrepreneurs immediately write off the opportunity as being too expensive.

    However, content marketing is flexible—it can be as big or small as you want, with only the mediums and channels you choose. Obviously, the more you do for your campaign, the better it will do, but if you’re just getting started with a minimum budget, all you really need is a minimum viable product—the least amount of work that will give you preliminary results. For most small businesses, this minimum viable product won’t cost much money, but it will be enough to turn a reasonable ROI.

    As you become more experienced and familiar with content marketing, and as you have access to more revenue, you’ll be able to gradually scale up your efforts, adding in new mediums or new resources to help you handle the work.

    The Fundamentals

    articleimage786thefundamentals

    When you get started with a content program, all you’ll need is a skeletal foundation—enough content to get indexed in search engines and enough consistency to start attracting an initial audience. If you’re working with a limited budget, there are a few options that can help you get through this stage, including hiring freelancers, taking on the extra work yourself, or divvying up tasks between your existing team members.

    Direction

    Your first goal is to set a direction for your content campaign. Without a direction, your content marketing campaign will be a voice without ears. At this stage, you’re going to want to establish an environment for your campaign. That means deciding on a niche topic for your blog (which should be as specific as possible), the audience for your material, and your primary goals. Some business owners will want to weight their strategy in favor of achieving search engine visibility through SEO while others will want to build a greater following on social media. You’ll also need to decide on the qualities of your brand voice, which will carry you throughout your campaign. This shouldn’t cost any money: only a few hours of work.

    Blog

    Next, you’ll need some kind of blogging platform. Hopefully, your website already has one. If not, or if you’re in the process of building or launching a website, WordPress is a free, easy-to-use CMS platform that supports simple blogging and has plenty of options for designers and developers to build something unique. No matter what type of platform you choose, make sure you can update your blogs easily and regularly, with embedded images and videos as well as meta titles and descriptions. Getting a website set up with a blog might cost you some money, but it’s an absolute essential for any business.

    Regular Posts

    Once that groundwork is set, the bulk of your budget should go into writing your regular posts. You won’t need to go all-out in the beginning; just make sure that your posts are long enough, well-written, interesting, and consistent enough to be recognizable as a unique piece of your own. One 400-word blog post a week is an okay start—you’ll want to step up both the length and the frequency eventually, but one 400-word post will only cost you a couple hours of work at the most (or a relatively minimal expense from a freelancer).

    Syndication

    Syndication is also relatively easy and inexpensive. If you’re just starting out with a minimal budget, your best option is social media; Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles are free to create and maintain, and they’ll give you amplified potential visibility for your blogs. Publish links to all your new articles as they roll out, and if you have the time or budget for it, make daily updates to engage your budding audience.

    The Extras

    articleimage786 theextras

    Once you’ve conquered the basics, you can take a look at your budget and determine whether there are areas ready for expansion.

    Increased Frequency

    Your first goal, once you have access to more resources or more income, is to step up the frequency of your posts. Instead of merely posting once a week, go to twice a week, and increase the length and detail of your posts. If you continue to see results, step your frequency up even further, and be sure to add more social posts to your regular schedule.

    Greater Syndication Reach

    Once you’ve increased the frequency of your posts, your next step should be to increase the reach of your syndication. You can do this in several ways; first, you can use paid press releases to maximize visibility in new channels and attract more links. Second, you can use paid advertising, such as PPC ads with Google or Facebook, to attract initial eyes to your content. Finally, you can reach out to new people on your social profiles in order to build a greater following. Each option requires a different level of spend and commitment, so choose the blend that works best for you.

    Diversified Mediums

    Finally, once you’ve built up a decent posting frequency and a respectable reach, you can start adding more diversity to your posting habits. Include a wider variety of topics, or feature guest posts from other bloggers. You should also include other mediums, including images and video, in the context of your blogs. Publishing interactive pieces of media, like infographics or entertaining videos, can help your reach dramatically by circulating virally and attracting external links.

    Content marketing programs don’t need to blow your audience completely out of the water—at least not right away. You don’t need to hire an agency immediately, nor do you need to spend countless hours doing research before you can make a move. Anything you do for your content program is better than nothing, and the sooner you start, the better, so if you’ve been holding off the start of a content marketing program because of financial concerns, it’s time to finally get started. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to measure your progress, analyze your ROI, reassess your strategy and build on your previous structures.

  8. How to Write Content that Will Have The Lowest Possible Bounce Rate

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    Bounce rates can hurt. Your end goal is getting your site visitors to a specific destination, usually a conversion on a contact page or a quote request form, and if they’re bouncing from your site after only viewing the initial entry page, you’ve officially lost all hope of converting them.

    The biggest problem with bounce rates is the lack of concrete justifications for their existence. Since you cannot possibly conduct exit interviews for everyone who leaves your site, determining the cause for your bounce rate is largely a subjective process.

    Fortunately, there are a handful of techniques you can use to greatly reduce your bounce rate, increasing the amount of site traffic that flows to other pages and ultimately, to your intended destination. Under the right circumstances, this can have a direct and positive effect on your bottom line revenue.

    Many changes to your site that can decrease bounce rates have to do with the design and structure of your site, including its layout and navigation, but there are simpler strategies that can be applied to your content to get you similar results.

    Link to Other Pages

    articleimage782Link to Other Pages

    One of the most valuable tools in your arsenal will be internal linking. When you write the content for a new blog post or new page on your website, look for opportunities to add hyperlinks to other pages when relevant. For example, if you’re writing an article on a specific type of hat, you could link to the product page for that specific hat, or a general category page that introduces hats which contains more information about the line. These links, when used appropriately, will attract people to venture deeper into your site to keep learning new information, giving you more opportunities to convert.

    As an added bonus, the increased interlinking throughout your site will be beneficial for your search rankings—Google favors sites with heavily linked interior pages.

    Use Strong Headlines

    Stronger headlines can also decrease your bounce rate, and that goes for sub-headers in the body of your copy as well. First, “stronger” doesn’t necessarily mean more likely to attract a click—more importantly, it means more accurate and more compelling. Users who click on a link should be excited for what comes next, and that excitement needs to be fulfilled with your on-page content. If you do not meet their expectations, they will probably leave.Further headings down the page should keep your users interested in reading more, drawing them down the article bit by bit.

    Incorporate Multiple Mediums

    Plain content doesn’t engage a user nearly as much as interactive content. Studies show that just including a picture alongside an article can increase traffic and interest in an article, and if people are more interested in what they’re reading, they’re less likely to leave. Embed a video, incorporate pictures or infographics into the body of your content, and do whatever you can to use a diverse range of mediums throughout your site. It gives more options to your audience, some of whom might prefer plain written content while others might prefer watching a short video. The more options you have for your users, the more of them will stay.

    Keep Things Concise

    articleimage782keepthingsconsice

    Concise content is a no-brainer for increasing bounce rates. Since your goal here is to keep users on your site for as long as possible, it might be tempting to write longer articles as a result. However, length is not nearly as important as conciseness. A concise 300-word article can contain just as much valuable information as a fluff-driven 1200-word article. The more concise your content is, the more value your user will see per page on your site, and that’s going to draw them in deeper.

    Create More Relevant Landing Pages

    articleimage782Create More Relevant Landing Pages

    One option you can use to decrease your overall bounce rate involves the creation of new pages in the form of specific landing pages that cater to your core demographics and sources of traffic. For example, you could create a landing page that speaks directly to people who found you on Facebook, or those who specifically found you via a paid link on another site. You want to make a perfect first impression or else your initial traffic will simply leave, so take the time to understand the segments of your audience and cater to them personally.

    Use Accurate Meta Descriptions

    Meta descriptions are the short snippets that appear under their corresponding link in major search engines. As such, they’re usually responsible for determining whether a user clicks on the link, and why they chose to click it. If your meta description is appealing enough to attract clicks, but it isn’t relevant enough to your content, users will leave your site the moment they discover this. If it’s accurate, but not compelling, they won’t even click in the first place. Your goal should be to create meta descriptions that set accurate expectations about your content, but are still dynamic enough to entice new visitors.

    Format With Ample White Space

    White space is easy on the eyes—it’s a principle of design, but it can also be harnessed with the shape and style of your content. If you keep all your paragraphs long and bunched up together, you’ll run the risk of tiring your audience’s eyes, or worse, leaving them with a bad impression of your site. Instead, break up your articles into sections with clear, distinct subheadings, and use bulleted lists whenever possible to cut through the bulkiness of your content.

    Eliminate Distractions

    It’s also a good idea to eliminate any distractions that you can. While integrated forms of media are beneficial to an inbound audience, obnoxious ads can sometimes deter them. Keep your ads subtle and off to the side whenever possible.

    Throughout your content, you will probably encounter opportunities to link to external sources, which can be good for building your credibility as a source. Make sure those links open up in a new window; otherwise, anybody who clicks on them will constitute a departure from your site.

    Use Powerful Calls to Action

    As I’ve mentioned, the best way to prevent someone from leaving your site is to attract them deeper into your site. In order to do that, you’re going to need strong calls to action. Instead of merely posting a link and hoping for the best, wrap your link in a compelling phrase that emphasizes the value of the page to come. Motivate your users with action-based language, and make the venture to your other pages seem worth the extra effort.

    Measuring Your Bounce Rate

    As you put these strategies to good use on your website, you’ll want to regularly measure your bounce rates to determine their effectiveness. Keep some of your old blogs on the radar, syndicating them alongside your newly written blogs, and compare the bounce rates of people entering your site from each initial article. Take note of specific wording choices and formats that tend to keep people venturing deeper into your site, and conduct regular audits of your campaign to detect and correct possible fault points in the relevance of your content.

    Only through an ongoing process of analysis and revision will you perfect your bounce rate-decreasing strategy.

  9. How to Use Trending Topics in Your Search Campaign

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    articleimage781How to Use Trending Topics in Your Search Campaign

    Most companies incorporate strategies to improve their visibility online, most notably through social channels and search engine optimization (SEO). Through conventional, self-sufficient strategies, it’s possible to garner attention for yourself by building something out of nothing—reaching out to new contacts, writing about original topics, and making a brand that’s wholly your own.

    However, there’s a complementary route that can improve your visibility, and in most cases, it’s easier and more effective. Certain topics and ideas achieve great visibility on their own, such as breaking news stories and viral content, due to word-of-mouth spreading and a natural affinity for keeping people interested. If you can leverage the power of these trending topics in the context of your own campaign, you can take advantage of their substantial visibility and earn more attention than you could possibly get with a topic you invented independently. The key is to find these topics and harness them effectively.

    How to Find Trending Topics

    articleimage781 How to Find Trending Topics

    There are two major components to a strategy involving trending topics; finding appropriate topics and putting them to good use.Finding trending topics might seem tough—after all, defining which topics are trending and which ones are not involves walking a very fine line. Still, if you monitor an adequate number of sources and keep your eyes peeled for pertinent news and content pieces, you’ll have no trouble finding ample trending topics for your campaign.

    Social Listening

    Social listening is one of the best ways to scout for trending topics, since you’ll be plugged into thousands of conversations simultaneously and you’ll be able to easily determine the amount of social impact a given topic has. Many software platforms, such as Sprout Social, offer social listening as a feature. You can set one or a series of different keywords to receive alerts on, such as industry-related terms, subjects, or brand mentions, and watch for automated pings whenever those topics are mentioned in the context of a selected audience. If you see frequent mentions, or mentions that frequently get liked, favorited, or shared, you know you’ve found a winner.

    You could also perform occasional manual searches on Twitter and other public social media platforms, looking for mentions of specific topics, though the process is not as time-efficient. A better strategy is to review trending hashtags, and examine each of them to determine who seems to be using them and why. Doing so can plug you into the day’s most important developments and focal points, giving you a platform for execution.

    The biggest problem with this strategy is the time it takes to execute. While reviewing the trending topics section is relatively easy, finding industry-related developments requires a manual hunt-and-peck approach, which might ultimately be fruitless even after significant effort.

    Aggregated News Feeds

    There are hundreds of news aggregators available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so take the time to find the one that’s best for your needs. You can select one with pre-loaded aggregations, such as readers with sub-topics related to specific industries, or simply customize your own from scratch.

    No matter how you start your aggregated news feed approach, do some initial research to build the most appropriate selection of news sites. Include major news outlets, which will bring you news worthy of national attention, local news outlets (when possible), which will plug you into your local community, and industry sites, which will give you the rundown on developments in your industry. As you continue your strategy, you’ll have to do some regular housekeeping, weeding out any sites that don’t provide you with adequate trending topics to harvest.

    In many cases, just glancing at your news feed will be enough to spark the inspiration for a new idea to harness. In other cases, you’ll have to do some deeper digging to find the right fit. Either way, a few minutes a day can really add up to a great value for your overall strategy.

    Competitors and Industry Sites

    Of course, rather than relying on the snippets of an aggregated reader feed, you can go to the sources themselves. Keep a running list of the most important news sites relevant to your industry, as well as your closest competitors in the market. Visit them on an occasional basis (daily if your industry is fast-paced, weekly if it’s slower), and get a feel for what they’re writing about. Even if you don’t uncover a great trending topic, you can at least draw inspiration for your general content strategy.

    Implementing Trending Topics in Your SEO Campaign

    articleimage781mplementing Trending Topics in Your SEO Campaign

    Now that you’ve uncovered a gem—a topic that’s currently in high demand within your industry or amongst your key demographics—and all you have to do is take advantage of it to increase your brand’s visibility. Fortunately, you have several options to do this, and many of them are quite simple.

    Newsjacking Content

    Your first and easiest option is to “newsjack” the content. The term newsjacking was coined specifically for news articles which were used as a content platform, but can be applied to almost any type of trending content. The process of newsjacking involves taking a piece of pre-existing content, presenting elements of that piece (reworded and cited properly so you aren’t plagiarizing) and framing those elements in a context that’s unique to you.

    For example, if there’s a news story about a recent technological development that’s going to impact your industry, you can summarize the facts of the article and then write a short opinion about why it’s going to be a positive or negative thing for the industry. Essentially, you’ll be taking the trending topic and finding a way to present it as your own. Then, all you’ll have to do is syndicate it on social channels, and you’ll get a strong portion of new readers interested in the rising trend.

    Timing Your Posts

    Depending on the nature of the trend, you can forgo the option of writing up an entire piece. Instead, you can simply make a short social media post or two acknowledging the trend and putting your company’s name in the ring. A great example of this is using a trending hashtag—so long as it’s relevant—in a post you tweet to the masses.

    You could also write a custom message to appeal to participants in a given trend, which is particularly effective if timed correctly. For example, during the massive power outage of the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo tweeted a picture of an Oreo on a dark background with the message “You can still dunk in the dark.” They took advantage of a trending situation and turned it in favor of the brand—and they did it while the event was still unfolding.

    Capitalizing on Discussions

    Last but not least, you can simply participate in discussions surrounding a given topic. If you found your topic on a particular blog, post a comment or respond to other commenters as your brand. If you found your topic on a social media channel, you can look for followers engaging in a related discussion and simply jump into it with your own opinion. You’ll not only increase the visibility of your brand, you’ll also build your perceived authority in the space.

    Capitalizing on trending topics sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Once you’ve adopted the process into your strategy and you’ve practiced it enough times, it will become second nature to you, and you’ll be able to harness the full power of the most popular, timely topics available.  Your potential visibility is practically limitless under these conditions.

  10. 10 Tips for Finding Topics People Want to Read

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    There’s no single secret that can lead you to a great content marketing strategy. Your writing needs to be consistent, valuable, and in line with your brand standards and the rest of your inbound marketing strategy (such as your SEO or social media campaigns). But the most important factor for your content marketing program’s success can be reduced to one characteristic: whether or not people want to read your material.

    If people want to read your content, you’ll get more repeat visitors, you’ll get more word of mouth promotion, you’ll get more initial hits from your syndication channels, and you’ll even get a higher volume of searchers. Some factors that influence the desirability of your content, such as the catchiness of your title and the structure of your body, can be honed through practice, but some factors—like finding the lucrative topics that attract the most readers—can be elusive.

    Fortunately, there are some strategies you can adopt that make your topic-finding missions easier and more consistent:

    1. Analyze Which Topics Generate the Most Traffic.

    articleimage779 Analyze Which Topics Generate the Most Traffic

    Hopefully, you’ve already been writing content for some time. If that’s the case, you should have ample data that you can analyze to determine which of your topics tend to be the most successful. One way to do this is to log into Google Analytics and take a look at the internal pages of your site that have generated the most traffic. Take a sampling of your top contenders, and use them as jumping-off points for future topics. You could even do a direct follow-up to some of them.

    2. See Which Topics Generate the Most Conversations.

    articleimage779See Which Topics Generate the Most Conversations

    Alternatively, you can look at more qualitative data to determine which of your blogs have been the most successful in the past. Take a look at the type and number of comments your blogs have generated—are there any that stand out with threads of dozens of comments? Any that have generated tons of social shares and likes? Use these as your jumping-off points as well; even if they haven’t generated as much traffic, they’ve generated sufficient interest.

    3. Consult With Your Sales Team.

    articleimage779 Consult With Your Sales Team

    Generally speaking, the sales team of an organization is the most plugged in to the profiles and needs of your target demographics. If your most valuable and most common types of customers are facing a common problem, your sales team knows about it. Hold a sit-down with a few of your sales reps and ask about what types of problems your customers typically face. Then, generate a list of topics that address those problems directly with advice or instructions.

    4. Put Together a News Feed.

    There are many ways to aggregate your own news feed of information—for example, you could cultivate a list of article sources using a blog reader, or compile a list of your most valuable news sources on social media using something like “Lists” on Twitter. Consult this news feed on a daily basis, and take a look at what’s trending in your industry. You should be able to pick out a handful of topics that are capturing significant attention, and spin variants of those topics on your own blog.

    5. Read Your Competitors’ Blogs.

    It may seem like cheating, but it’s not. Your competitors are trying just as hard as you are to appeal to your audience, and they may have discovered a handful of topics you’ve never even considered before. Take a look through your top competitors’ blogs, and scout for articles that have gotten a significant amount of attention in the form of comments, likes, and shares. Don’t lift these topics directly, but feel free to draw inspiration from them and use them as brainstorming fodder.

    6. Research Search Trends.

    While keyword-specific optimization strategies are quickly becoming obsolete for SEO, you can still use research on search trends to fuel your content strategy. Head over to Google Trends, where you’ll be able to get a glimpse or a detailed view on the topics and searches posed by the masses, over the course of a day on up to a year or more. Viewing these trends may introduce you to a popularly searched-for topic that’s relevant to your business but as-of-yet unexplored on your blog. Check back regularly to get a pulse on rising trends and interests.

    7. Check Out Industry- or Demographic-Relevant Forums.

    Forums are a perfect place to scout for potential topics because they typically feature individuals with concrete problems. Threads are typically started by a significant question or dilemma with an invitation for community suggestions, which gives you a key opportunity to not only find potential problems faced by your key demographics, but also which problems seem to be the most common. Keep a running tab of the most productive forums you find, and revisit them on a regular basis to get more ideas.

    8. Browse Through Social Groups.

    Groups on social media can be powerful places. Since all the group members have signed up because they’re interested in the central topic, they tend to be both active and passionate about discussing that core topic. Check out Facebook groups you can get involved in, or LinkedIn Groups related to your industry. Look for individuals who have started popular topics, and use the topics or comment threads as fuel or inspiration for your own posts. It’s even more valuable if you get your own brand involved in the site, responding to others’ comments and igniting further discussions.

    9. Search Through Question and Answer Sites.

    There are a number of “alternative” search engines out there, some of which are excellent for finding quick answers to questions. Quora and Topsy are two great examples of this. You can perform searches for broad topics related to your industry here, and a list of subtopics, mentions, titles, and questions will appear (depending on what specific site you use). From here, you’ll be able to get a bird’s-eye view of the kinds of questions people frequently have—and the types of answers they usually get. This should point you in a solid direction for writing a desirable and needed piece of content.

    10. Ask Your Audience Directly.

    It may seem like an obvious strategy, but it’s often neglected by content marketers. Sometimes the best way to figure out what your audience wants to read is to ask them point-blank. There are a number of ways to do this, based on your personal preferences. You could conduct a survey on your social channels, casually ask individual followers when they approach you online, or dedicate an entire post or thread on your website to generating ideas for future blog posts. Most of your readers will be honest, and happily share any topics they’d like to see in the future.

    Acquiring the topics that people want to read is half the battle. Once you’ve got a sizable list, or at least enough topics to get to the next section of your editorial calendar, you can begin crafting the titles and copy that will compel your audience to keep reading your impressive material. The more attention you can capture and keep, the more conversions and revenue you’ll be able to earn.

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