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Category Archive: Content Marketing

  1. 3 Ways Publishers Will Change by 2020

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    Publishers are fantastic resources. For the average web reader, they serve as a functional encyclopedia, offering heaping volumes of diverse content in almost any niche you can imagine. For the average business owner or consultant, they serve as valuable opportunities to build authority, make new connections, and promote the business.

    For years, marketers, writers, and readers everywhere have enjoyed the current state of publishing. Writers pitch ideas to publishers, publishers select the best of the best to publish and distribute, and readers reap the benefits, all the while clicking and engaging in a way that makes the writers and the publishers money.

    This relationship, however, is built upon a framework of technology, and technology changes rapidly. Within the next five years, I expect to see a handful of radical shifts in the relationships between publishers, writers, and readers, with publisher evolution at the center of everything. Keep watch for these changes to occur by 2020:

    1. They’ll form more partnerships.

    articleimage1282 They’ll form more partnerships

    Modern publishers are finding it difficult to stand out on their own. The power of adverting on individual sites is beginning to decline, and the level of competition for readers grows bigger every day. There are so many niche sites in operation that there’s virtually no room for any new competitors to emerge, and general sites are constantly at war with one another over visitors.

    In response to this (and in response to new technologies), expect to see publishers forming more partnerships with other companies. A good example of this is Facebook’s new “Instant Articles” program, which allows select publishers to feature full-length articles directly on the Facebook app, rather than forcing users to click a link to travel to an external site. This is a natural evolution of a system that favors Facebook syndication—more users read news on Facebook than individual news sources. Within a few years, it may become commonplace for publishers to rely exclusively on partnerships and applications like these to distribute material, abandoning their original “home” sites.

    Other partnerships may change the way that people read news, such as introducing paywalls for extra income or leveraging the power of new technologies like wearable devices. Each publisher may seek a different range of partnerships, but one thing’s for certain: by 2020, most publishers will be unable to continue alone and remain profitable at the same time.

    2. They’ll cater to individual users.

    articleimage1282 They’ll cater to individual users

    Users are becoming more demanding of custom-created content. They have more control over their newsfeeds, search results, and website recommendations, so it’s only natural that eventually they’ll favor publishers that can create a custom stream of content tailor-made for them. How this will happen remains to be seen, but there are a number of promising possibilities on the horizon—for example, Facebook is undergoing a massive overhaul of its newsfeed to cater to individual readers, Netflix uses an algorithm that recommends titles based on ones you’ve seen and reviewed, and automated content generators (which I’ll touch on in the next point) could feasibly create actual content for individual users.

    However it comes about, and however publishers choose to take advantage of it, it’s certain that by 2020, we’ll all be reading content that’s more individualized. Writers that can adapt to this approach will be greatly rewarded.

    3. They’ll rely more heavily on automated forms of content creation.

    articleimage1282 They’ll rely more heavily on automated forms of con

    This is perhaps the biggest change that publishers will make, and it’s the most troubling for existing writers taking advantage of the system. New technologies are emerging that make it easier for brands and publishers to produce and syndicate original material—sometimes forgoing the need for a writer altogether.

    Take, for instance, the burgeoning trend of AI writing—already, technologists have developed algorithms that can gather up bits of information on simple topics like news and weather, and formulate well-written original articles that present that information. These articles are indistinguishable from those written by humans; you’ve probably even read one without even knowing it! While still years away from completion, the end goal of these projects is to be able to generate sophisticated articles from scratch in an automated, limitless way.

    Then you have user-generated content platforms. These are nothing new, and publishers today do rely on some form of user submission, but the future involves casting a wider net, using a system similar to crowdfunding to aggregate material. A good example of this is Twitter’s new Moments feature, which will streamline live posts and videos from emerging news stories or recent events. It’s only a matter of time before publishers begin taking advantage of this system.

    Between the two of these threats, it’s not inconceivable that a healthy percentage of publishers will, by 2020, rely almost exclusively on automatically generated “touchless” forms of content. For writers, that’s bad news, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be new opportunities around the corner. For example, it may be possible to wield and “optimize” the articles spun by AI vehicles, or connect user-submitted feeds together with grounding material.

    The industry may be changing, but that doesn’t mean it’s dying. With every new challenge is a new opportunity, and with every new feature is a new potential strategy. To remain successful, writers will be forced to adapt their strategies to this new model, and readers will need to adapt to the new modes of presentation—though this will happen more or less naturally due to more publishers getting on board.

  2. 7 Words to Stop Using in Your Content

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    When it comes to “quality” in content marketing, few things are purely objective. A tone that reads as pleasant and inviting to one reader might register as unprofessional and disorganized to another. What constitutes “strong research” for one critical reviewer may constitute an obvious, unimportant fact to another.

    There are objective gauges you can use to make your content the best it can be, but there are few measures that work across the board, due to the impressive diversities of both readers and brands. However, there are a handful of common words that almost invariably weaken the power of your content, and they’re painfully common (at least, if you read blogs as often as I do).

    If you’re active in the content world, do what you can to eliminate these seven painful words from your lexicon:

    1. Really/very.

    articleimage1276 realy very

    Really and very are two different words, but because they’re used in nearly identical contexts, I’m counting them as one word. Really and very have no inherent meaning, other than to exaggerate a word that follows. It might seem like this type of exaggeration is meaningful, but in practical use, these words serve to slow your reader down more than anything else. Consider the following sentences: “It’s cloudy today.” “It’s really cloudy today.” “It’s very cloudy today.” The second and third sentences are indistinguishable in meaning, and all three sentences convey an identical idea. These vague exaggerators are completely unnecessary and should be eliminated from your written vocabulary.

    2. Think.

    articleimage1276 think

    The word “think” is used to imply that something is your opinion, or that it isn’t yet verified. For example, you might say, “I think content marketing is more valuable than pay-per-click advertising.” This is an opinionated claim, and you might assume that including the word “think” presents a more accurate image. In fact, it can actually weaken your position. People know that your article is based on your opinion; it’s a natural element of writing. Including the “think” implies that you aren’t confident in what you’re writing about, which causes more damage to your reputation than anything else.

    3. A lot.

    articleimage1276 a lot

    “A lot” is another vague phrase, like really and very, that seems to imply something but doesn’t in reality. Imagine a lot of elephants. Now imagine a lot of marbles. Now imagine a lot of motorcycles. How many is that? Did you imagine a dozen elephants, a few thousand marbles, and a few hundred bikes? Or did you imagine hundreds of elephants, a few dozen marbles, and thousands of bikes? All “a lot” implies is a number greater than two. It does nothing to convey an accurate image, or even a ballpark of quantity. Even if you don’t know the exact quality, you can use more aesthetically pleasing or specific language to describe the quantity, like more marbles than a grocery bag could hold, or enough motorcycles to fill a Walmart parking lot.

    4. Just.

    articleimage1276 just do it

    Just is acceptable in one particular usage: when it’s used to imply that something was fair. Other than that, just is an unnecessary, unacceptable filler word that compromises the integrity of your sentences. For example, “Using just three articles” is the same as “Using three articles,” and coming up “just shy of the goal” is the same as coming up “shy of the goal.” If you find yourself writing the word just, eliminate it. Chances are, the sentence will retain its meaning.

    5. Always/never.

    articleimage1276 always

    Try not to deal in absolutes. You’re not a Sith Lord. Using one of these words immediately forces you into a position, and any insightful (or smart-assed) reader will almost immediately be able to contradict your position. For example, look at the previous paragraph. I said “chances are, the sentence will retain its meeting.” If I had said “The sentence will always retain its meeting,” it would only be a matter of time before someone comes up with a contradictory example. Protect yourself and stay open minded. Your readers will appreciate it.

    6. Thing/stuff.

    Thing and stuff are non-words that can literally describe anything. If you put your mind to it, you’ll be able to come up with better words as substitutes. For example, imagine “5 things that make a better landing page” as “5 qualities that make a better landing page.” One simple substitution instantly takes it to a higher level. Even vague words like “qualities,” “objects,” and “items” can have a better impact than “thing” and “stuff.”

    7. In order to.

    Technically, this isn’t a word. It’s a phrase, but it’s still overused and short enough that it almost qualifies as a word. “In order to” is a filler phrase that serves only to lengthen sentences in the majority of cases. Open any document you have on your computer, and do a Ctrl + F to find the phrase—if it’s a sufficiently long document, chances are you’ll find at least one. Take the phrase out of the sentence entirely, and you’ll likely find that the content of the sentence more or less remains the same. The next time you feel tempted to use this phrase, simply write the sentence without it. It will probably turn out fine.

    Eliminating these seven words will objectively make your content better, for almost any conceivable reader. They may not notice the improvement, as their effects are subtle, but ultimately, your readers will be left with stronger impressions of your brand and a deeper appreciation for your content overall.

  3. The Right Way to Use Videos in Content Marketing

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    Content marketing is always evolving. New technologies make it easier to produce content in new ways, users become more demanding of different types of content, and general paradigm shifts increase or decrease the popularity of various tactics content marketers use. Over the past five years or so, one of the dominant rising trends in content marketing has been the visual appeal of articles.

    Originally relating solely to the structuring of an article (when bold subdivisions, and bulleted or numbered lists began to emerge), visual elements of content marketing have now extended to images and videos. Most successful written articles include at least one embedded image or video, and many successful pieces of content have been restrained to the exclusive form of an image or video, such as an infographic or tutorial video.

    Unfortunately, though, it isn’t enough to simply “have” videos as part of your marketing campaign, just like it isn’t enough to “have” written content on your blog. If you throw together words haphazardly on a page, you’ll end up alienating your readers instead of winning their loyalty, and in the same way, if you throw together a video with no real intention, your viewers will leave with a negative impression of your brand.

    If you plan on using videos as part of your marketing strategy, be sure to follow these best practices in using them correctly:

    Create a Series (or Use Them Consistently)

    articleimage1273 Create a Series

    Videos are best used when they’re used consistently. For example, you could create a YouTube channel for an interview series and upload a new one every other week. If you keep the same general format, such as a 10 minute video with the same host, it will be far easier for you to build an audience, just like with a television series or film franchise. If people like what they see and learn what to expect, and when to expect it, you can easily build a recurring audience for your material.

    If you can’t think of a series to generate for your business, see the below section on “ideas for video series.” Failing that, try to implement your videos consistently in other ways; for example, if you’re embedding videos only as graphical illustrations for your articles, be sure to do that with your articles regularly—not just as a one-off.

    Time Them Appropriately

    articleimage1273 Time Them Appropriately

    Videos are perhaps best enjoyed by people who are too busy or too lazy to read a longer article. Keep this in mind when you establish the length of your video. The general rule is, the shorter the better, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re presenting a tutorial or some general updates, you definitely want to keep the video to 1-3 minutes. If you’re conducting an interview, 10-15 minutes might be more appropriate, but you should still strive to keep your content concise. Your users’ attention spans should be one of your top considerations.

    Don’t Forget Quality Control

    articleimage1273 Don’t Forget Quality Control

    What I mean by “quality” here extends beyond the pure content of your videos. I’m referring to the picture quality, the sound quality, the acting or presentation skills of the people involved, and of course, the editing of the final product. Taking impromptu videos on your iPhone probably won’t yield the best results. It pays to either spend time reading and practicing to hone your own craft, or to hire a professional videographer who makes quality control his/her personal objective. One poorly shot or poorly edited video can be enough to ruin your reputation in the video space.

    Make the Video Worth Watching

    articleimage1273 Make the Video Worth Watching

    This may seem like an obvious feature, but many content marketers simply use videos as an interpretive medium. What I mean by that is some content marketers will take an article and basically read the article on screen, effectively making a video version of the article with no enhancements. Videos are both a visual and audio medium, so take advantage of those characteristics—otherwise, there’s no need to create one. Enhance your video with graphic representations, moving elements, and sound and music that makes the video worth watching. If you can’t think of ways to do this, your idea might be better suited to a different medium.

    SEO for Videos

    articleimage1273 SEO for Videos

    When you upload a video to YouTube, be sure you’re optimizing it both for Google searches and for YouTube-based searches. Make your headline concise, accurate, and loaded with keywords related to your subject. Be sure to tag your video appropriately with popular, yet accurate tags. Finally, encourage ratings and comments however you can—the more you get, and the more positive they are, the higher you’ll rank both in Google searches and YouTube-exclusive searches.

    Ideas for Video Series

    If you’re having trouble thinking of ways you can use videos for your business, consider these:

    • General company updates, almost like a news broadcast
    • Interviews with industry professionals and influencers
    • Interviews with leaders and management within your organization
    • How-to videos or tutorials for products and services related to your brand
    • Reviews of other products or services that might be useful for your customers
    • Product descriptions or troubleshooting guides for products you offer
    • Customer testimonials or reviews
    • Webinars or Q&As where users can submit their own questions
    • Graphically animated data, such as interactive infographics or whiteboard-style visual storytelling

    Videos are a unique medium, and it’s going to take you some time to learn how to use them properly. Don’t be frustrated or alarmed if your first few attempts at video-based content marketing are met with less popularity than you originally anticipated. It’s a learning process. Take user feedback, learn from your mistakes, and gradually refine your approach to videos the same way you would with any other marketing strategy.

  4. Is Content Marketing Too Saturated to Be Useful?

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    Content marketing has grown in popularity over the past 10 years or so as users and Google updates have demanded more quality content, and as more business owners have caught on to the cost-effectiveness of the strategy. Certainly, thousands of businesses have successfully profited from a content strategy, from major publishing companies reaching hundreds of thousands of people every day to local businesses who have increased foot traffic due to a wider brand presence.

    But some SEO experts have suggested that we are reaching a tipping point in the landscape of content marketing; because so many people are engaging in the strategy, the overall value of content marketing is actively decreasing with each passing day. Consider it a type of inflation, similar to inflation as it relates to currency. If you suddenly print $10,000,000,000 of extra cash and begin to circulate it, the overall value of each individual dollar will go down. Similarly, if users have access to 10,000 articles rather than 100, the value of each article goes down.

    This would theoretically function as a loss in value to the consumer as well as a loss in value to the marketer, as they are tied together in a mutually dependent relationship. For the user who sees 100 articles on how to tie a tie properly, 99 are immediately considered redundant, and the “average” value of an article immediately drops (even though that one standout article retains the same value as if it were the only article—I’ll touch on this later). For the marketer who writes an article on how to tie a tie, the likelihood of someone reading your article in this pool of 100 is only 1 percent, compared to if there were only 10 articles, at which point the probability would be 10 percent.

    Ignoring variables like the quality of an article and how well it was promoted, an article’s value would therefore be tied to its level of originality, and the more articles there are in circulation, the lower that value becomes. So exactly how saturated is the market these days?

    General Saturation

    articleimage1272 General Saturation

    Actually, it’s misleading to talk about “oversaturation” as one blanket term for all forms of content. It’s easier to conceptualize and more accurate to illustrate saturation as it relates to general content and niche content. While there is no stark divide between the two, isolating them as separate constructs makes the explanation easier to convey.

    General topics include things that have been around for a while, haven’t changed much recently, and apply to a wide audience. Recall the example above, covering how to tie a tie. Ties have been around for decades, the process to tie them hasn’t changed much, and a large section of the population can benefit from the information. While it might be appealing to write for a larger audience, the fact is, because it’s a more popular, more familiar topic, more people are going to be writing for it.

    Today’s “general content” market is extremely oversaturated. Every basic topic you can think of, from literature summaries to general career advice, has been covered so thoroughly that the value of each new article written on the topic is practically negligible. As if the level of competition wasn’t enough, consider also the fact that Google’s Knowledge Graph is steadily evolving the capacity to immediately offer information on such general topics. It simply isn’t worth pursuing as a content strategy.

    Niche Saturation

    articleimage1272 Niche Saturation

    Niche markets, however, are far less stymied by competition. Picture them as countless small branches extending from a massive trunk. They aren’t as immediately visible and accessible as their general counterparts, and they’ll reach a smaller audience, but there’s a shortage of writers and companies writing this type of material. Dividing your content into tighter and more specific niches is an almost infinite process—you can make your material more specific to a target audience, more specific to a particular mechanic, more specific to an area, or along any number of other dimensions.

    Take, for example, an extremely general topic: “How to Be Successful.” This could mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and you could write a thorough and great article on this topic, but it isn’t going to reach anybody because of the sheer volume of competition out there. Instead, it’s in your best interest to make it more specific—iteratively, if necessary. Consider this evolutionary process: “How to Be Successful” becomes “How to Be Successful in Business” becomes “How to Be Successful in Small Business” becomes “How to Start a Small Business Successfully” becomes “How to Start a Small Business Successfully in Dallas” and extending even further as you see fit. Each new concept, or new dimension, makes the article more specific, and therefore, more valuable.

    To Answer the Question

    articleimage1272 To Answer the Question

    In the title of this article, I propose the question: is the content marketing world too saturated? The answer is double sided. In the area of “general” content, yes, content marketing is too saturated for any inexperienced contender to make an impression or derive value from new material. But in the area of niche-focused, more specific content, there is always room for development. There are always ways to make your content more specific, and the more specific you make your content, the more valuable it’s going to be. Do your research and carve a niche for yourself that no one else has taken—despite what it seems on the surface, there are plenty of niches to go around.

  5. 3 Underrated Forms of Content You Need to Be Using

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    We’re all familiar with the most common forms of content in the marketing world: the how-to article, the opinion article, the infographic, the press release, and even the tutorial video have all circulated with such popularity that it’s rarer to find a business who doesn’t use these forms of content on a regular basis. They’ve achieved this level of popularity because they truly are quite effective, hitting that ideal middle ground that allows them to be produced quickly and easily while still holding value for a target audience. As such, I encourage you to retain these forms of content in your own campaigns.

    However, diversity is inherent in the spirit of the successful marketing campaign. Utilizing a diverse range of sources, diverse styles of syndication, and appealing to diverse audiences all help drive a higher level of impact, so it’s in your best interest to include forms of content you otherwise may not have considered.

    Take a look at these three underrated forms of content, and how valuable they can be if implemented correctly in an appropriate campaign:

    1. Interviews

    articleimage1258 interviews

    Interviews are multifaceted forms of content because you can record and produce them however you’d like. For example, you could record the audio and turn your interview into a podcast or downloadable mp3. You could record the video and upload it to YouTube. You could write out the transcript and make it available for both search engine crawlers and readers on your site. Best of all, you could do all three and take advantage of each medium at the same time!

    One-off interviews are never a bad thing, but interviews generally derive much of their power from a series—for example, you could feature weekly interviews with various leading authorities in your industry, or leaders within your own organization. This consistent schedule helps people learn what to expect from you, and makes it easier to build a loyal recurring audience. Plus, if you use the same questioning format, you can theoretically produce new content every week with minimal prep work.

    Another advantage to using interviews as a form of content is the residual authority you’ll get by choosing specific individuals to interview. For example, let’s say you interview someone with a strong personal brand in your industry. You’ll be able to promote the interview on your own social channels, and your interviewee will have an incentive to share it on his/hers as well. Interviews are almost guaranteed to feature at least a trifling amount of cross-promotion, and leveraging the power of others’ brands in the title of your interviews lends some authoritative weight to your posts as well.

    2. Book and Product Reviews.

    articleimage1258 book and product review

    Let’s say someone peripherally related to your industry comes out with a new book detailing some changes in the pipeline. They’re seen as a thought leader, and they’re currently reaping the profits from all sales of the book. At first, it would seem counterintuitive to promote this book in any way—even mentioning it could lend more authority to the author and draw it away from you, and the listener might purchase the book instead of reading more of what you’ve written. Because of this, book reviews and product reviews have not been a popular form of content writing.

    However, writing a book review offers you a number of key opportunities to appeal to your audience and write quality material. First, you’re almost guaranteed to come up with something original. The book is new, and not much has been written on it, so an emergent book review smolders with originality. Second, you’ll have a chance to rebut any arguments the author makes in his/her book, demonstrating yourself as a competing authority rather than someone purely reverent to the author’s authority. Third, simply featuring the book will show you’re well-read in the industry, and up-to-date on the latest information. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll get a critical chance at easy, automatic cross-promotion—especially if your review positions the book in a positive light.

    3. Case Studies.

    articleimage1258 case studies

    Case studies are magnificent, and they can be used by almost any company. Take a customer, or a client, or even a specific field, and compile all the data on how your product, service, or overall involvement changed things. Then, turn it into a compelling story, which you can then either feature as a piece of written content or design and turn into a form of advertising. Case studies work both ways, and that’s one of their biggest advantages.

    Case studies are automatically original, because they rely on you and a specific client, and because they’re filled with data, they’re both reliable and informative. Plus, if you can get some quotes and involvement from the client itself, you can make your case study resound with peer-based authority. Ultimately, case studies are original, insightful, and highly authoritative pieces that require very little additional original research. Take advantage of them.

    These types of content are just as effective—and sometimes more effective—than the typical major players in the content field, yet they are underutilized by the vast majority of content marketers. This makes them ripe opportunities for the content marketer looking for a tangential way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Whether you’re looking for something new to spice up your existing campaign, looking to diversify your content for search engines, or are trying to appeal to new audiences, these highly effective yet oft-overlooked strategies are the perfect fit for the job.

  6. Why “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough in Content Marketing

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    articleimage1246 Why Good Enough Isn't Good Enough in Content Mark

    If you write content regularly for an online marketing strategy, you’ve probably hit a wall at one point or another. You’ve completed a piece, checked it over, and realized it’s not your best work. But it’s error-free, it’s easy to read, and the topic is relatively interesting, so you go ahead and push it through because you consider it to be “good enough.”

    That type of thinking will no longer cut it in this industry. The “good enough” mentality that allows you to post solid, but not spectacular content, will actively put you behind your competition if you do it regularly.

    There are two main influences making it more difficult for “good enough” content to be effective.

    Influence 1: Ratcheting Quality Standards

    articleimage1246 Influence 1

    The first influence comes directly from Google, whose search algorithm is constantly becoming more sophisticated. The Panda update is the big change most people hone in on, but remember that Panda is still seeing gradual, iterative updates. Also take into consideration the Hummingbird update of 2013, and the new quality standards released earlier this year, along with all the other unofficial, unannounced, and background refreshes.

    The bottom line here is that Google is serious about ensuring content quality on as many sites as possible, and each update it releases increases its quality standards and decreases the power of quantity-based improvements. I imagine this trend will only continue, eventually favoring only the highest-quality content producers to rank, and eliminating the need for rapid-fire content updates altogether.

    Influence 2: Greater Competition

    articleimage1246 competition

    The second major influence is a result of the content marketing landscape. By now, most business owners have heard about the power of content marketing and are either directly participating in it or making plans to do so. Some have high budgets and unflinching commitments while others are staying frugal and might drop the strategy at any time. All types are contributing to the oversaturation problem in content marketing.

    Consumers are flooded with content on every available platform to them, to a point where only the best of the best will stand out. Imagine your own experiences—do you click on every article whose headline you stumble across? Of course not. You probably only click on 10 percent, if that. If 90 percent of content marketers are flooding the market with content they consider to be “good enough,” than “good enough” content will never make it to that 10 percent threshold. In short, because users have so many choices when it comes to content to read, they’ll never read yours unless it truly stands out from the crowd. In this way, one exceptional piece is worth more than 10 “good enough” articles.

    Why “Good Enough” Remains a Problem

    articleimage1246 why Good Enough Remains a Problem

    If this is the case, then why are so many marketers still resorting to the “good enough” mentality?

    The root of the problem lies in perceptions about SEO. Evolutionarily, we’re wired to see things in terms of cause and effect with quantifiable outcomes. For example, if we spend more money, we expect more products. If we send out more invitations, we expect more guests. For a long time, SEO followed these expectations—if you wrote more articles and built more links, you would climb in search ranks accordingly. This correlation disappeared sometime around 2011, but the mentality that believed in it somehow persisted. People still struggle to understand that more effort isn’t always better for SEO—better effort is.

    Compounding the problem is the fact that too many business owners believe that content marketing is an “a la carte” type of strategy, which can be leisurely or cheaply followed. This leads to weaker investments, both in terms of time and money, and ultimately creates a weaker pool of content.

    Ways Your Content Can Fall Behind

    articleimage1246 influence 2

    Now that you know that “good enough” content is not good enough, let’s look at the ways your content can blend into the masses of underperforming pieces currently in circulation:

    • Originality is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome, since so many topics have already been covered by major players in the content game. It’s hard to come up with completely original ideas, but it’s no longer good enough to simply look at old topics in a unique way.
    • Qualitative or subjective analyses can be performed by anybody. Objective research takes time and effort not everyone is willing to give. This quantifiable data will make your content stand apart.
    • You’ll also need to tilt your content with a unique perspective. Don’t just report the facts, interpret them and make predictions about them. Show yourself off as a thought leader in the industry and pave new ground.
    • Your content needs to have a real, measureable impact on your audience. If it isn’t relevant to their daily lives, they aren’t going to read it.
    • Don’t stuff your content with words just to meet a minimum threshold. Every sentence in your document should matter to the whole.

    The occasional decent article isn’t going to ruin your strategy. You’ll continue to have moments when a decent article is better than no article, and pushing that content out instead of destroying it won’t actively decrease your domain authority. The real damage here is pushing decent, “good enough” articles as the foundation of your strategy, which at this stage in content marketing, is unacceptable. Instead, focus only on new, insightful, highly detailed and engaging content that’s really going to make an impression.

  7. The 7 Most Common Roadblocks in Content Marketing

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    As a concept, content marketing is a relatively straightforward strategy. You write content that people want to read, publish and syndicate it often, and eventually you’ll build a loyal audience who like your content, loves your brand, and buys more products and services from you. Unfortunately, the mechanics behind this process aren’t always as simple as they seem on paper. It’s not uncommon for content marketers to hit major obstacles along the way, disrupting their workflows and leaving them with inexplicable gaps in their results analysis.

    These are seven of the most common roadblocks I see in the content marketing world:

    1. Topic troubles.

    articleimage1237 topic troubles

    The first pain point usually comes before you’ve even written an article. A great article must start with a great topic, so if you can’t think of any great topic ideas, you can find yourself in a difficult position. The same can be said if the topics you do come up with fail to have an impact on your target audience—you can measure this based on how many clicks your headlines are getting. In either scenario, the solution is to look in new places for topic inspiration. Start with industry news sources to stay up-to-date and discover new information about your niche, then move onto the blogs and websites of your competitors. Learn from what they’re doing—what do their customers like to read about?—just don’t copy their strategy exactly.

    2. Voice inconsistency.

    articleimage1237 Voice inconsistency

    Many content marketers underestimate the importance of brand voice consistency. Your entire company’s identity is represented by its brand, and it’s up to you to showcase that brand accurately. If you deviate from the characteristics that define your brand, or publish blogs with inconsistent tones, your audience can quickly become alienated. However, diagnosing these problems can be difficult even for experienced content marketers. Address the problem by gathering all your writers together and doing collective exercises that highlight what is and what is not appropriate for the brand. Make sure everyone is on the same page by the end of the meeting, and use one focal editor to do a final review of all subsequent articles before they’re published.

    3. Publication rhythm.

    articleimage1237 Publication rhythm

    Too many business owners and marketers think that content marketing is about writing articles whenever you have time and publishing them whenever you think about it. This approach almost instantly vanquishes the possibility of building a loyal audience. If you want people to keep coming back to you for more, you have to have a reliable, predictable schedule. Create an editorial calendar with clear and consistent publication dates—if you’re just getting started, one post a week may be enough for your purposes—then assign responsible parties to ensure that those deadlines are always met, no matter what.

    4. Distribution constraints.

     articleimage1237 Distribution constraints

    One of the most important stages of content marketing is distributing your material so the greatest number of new people can see it. Typically, that means shopping your content around to different offsite publishers and syndicating your content through various social media channels. If you’re having trouble getting your work published offsite, do an audit of the types of sources you’re pursuing. Start off with local and industry-specific sources to build your reputation, and make sure your topics fit in with their respective niches. Then, work your way up to more authoritative sources. If you’re having trouble syndicating your content consistently, try scheduling your posts in advance, and use the time you save to engage with your audience in one-on-one interactions. Communities can only develop through engagement.

    5. Resource allocation woes.

    articleimage1237 Resource allocation woes

    Content marketing is a demanding strategy. Two posts a week doesn’t sound like a lot until you’re in the thick of things, scrambling to get your posts published while juggling all your other responsibilities. Hiring a staff writer is one option, and hiring a freelancer is another, but one of the most valuable solutions is hiring a content agency to handle the work for you. Because content agencies are specialists, they’ll be able to do the work faster, quicker, and more reliably than someone off the street—even if they have an impressive resume.

    6. Anomalies in data.

    At its foundation, marketing is all about gathering, analyzing, and applying data in meaningful ways. When that data shows major hiccups or other anomalies, with no apparent explanation, it can be worrisome. Let’s say each of your posts gets 100 shares, then one day, your posts start getting around 20 shares. These anomalies could be the result of any number of factors, from your search engine rankings to topics to random seasonal changes that are simply unpredictable. Instead of trying to figure out what the problem is, adjust your line of thinking and start figuring out what the problem isn’t. Eliminate possibilities one by one until you’ve exhausted your resources or have found the problem.

    7. Failure to scale.

    Stagnation is another problem that most content marketers face at one point or another. Obviously, you want your audience and your traffic to grow steadily, for months and years after your initial strategy development. Unfortunately, you’ll likely hit a plateau at some point, generating interest but little further growth. When this happens, inject your campaign with new life by adding an additional content channel, seeking new types of publishers to host your content, or simply stepping up the quantity and quality of the articles you produce.

    When you hit one of these roadblocks as a content marketer, as you invariably will, don’t panic. It’s a normal part of the ebb and flow of the strategy. All you can do is analyze the situation, respond accordingly, and continue to make adjustments to perfect your approach.

  8. 5 Strategies for Outsourcing Your Content Successfully

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    Content marketing is a valuable and efficient strategy for building brand visibility and attracting traffic to your website, but if you want to see significant results, the amount of work necessary can be overwhelming. Unless you have a dedicated person responsible for managing your content marketing program or a team of people willing to work together to ensure nothing is missed, it’s virtually impossible to produce content at the speed or quality necessary to build your campaign into something substantial. Even so, hiring an in-house professional can be prohibitive, leaving you in a catch-22 between adopting tons of work or tons of new expenses.

    A comfortable middle ground is enlisting the help of a content marketing agency or freelance writer. It’s cheaper than hiring a full-time staff member, yet can significantly alleviate your personal workload. However, outsourcing your content has perils of its own, and if you aren’t careful, you could do more harm to your strategy than good.

    If you’ve decided to outsource your content marketing, be sure to follow these five important strategies:

    1. Be Judicious in Your Partner Selection.

    articleimage1221 Be Judicious in Your Partner Selection

    There are a ton of content options available to you—you can work with an expensive, lucrative agency, a cheap content mill focused on turnaround times and volume, or a one-off freelancer ranging in both skill and price. Your needs will be different than the needs of any other company. You’ll have a different budget, different goals, and a different demand for expertise. Because of the diversity of options available to you, there’s no reason to jump into any partnership right away.

    Take your time when researching your options. Evaluate each possibility in terms of its price, service offerings, reliability, history, and level of expertise. Generally, the more you pay, the higher quality of the content you’ll receive, but this isn’t always the case. Do your research well in advance and only make a final selection once you’re absolutely sure your partner is the best possible option for your brand.

    2. Work on a Strategy Together.

    articleimage1221 Work on a Strategy Together

    Most businesses will choose to outsource their content to a verified expert in the field of content marketing. As a result, many businesses take a hands-off approach, allowing their partner expert to call the shots, set the direction, and produce the content without restriction. In these scenarios, as long as you have properly vetted your candidates, you can rest assured that you’ll end up with a quality content strategy—but it won’t be as good or as focused as it could be.

    Early on, inject yourself into the strategic planning process. Your content expert partners know content better than anyone else, but you know your brand far better than they do. You’ll be able to set direction, set the tone, and outline the main goals you hope to accomplish. You’ll be able to answer their questions and clear up common misconceptions. Only together will you be able to work up the best possible strategy.

    3. Do Your Own Research for Content Topics.

    articleimage1221 Do Your Own Research for Content Topics

    Your content partner will likely take charge in coming up with new topic ideas for your ongoing publications. However, they will not be as plugged into the industry as you are. You know all the major publications, the state of the industry, and the approach of your competitors far better than they do, and you can use your knowledge and familiarity to enhance their productivity and focus.

    Don’t be afraid to send new topic ideas to your content partner. Send them links to news articles that would make for good topics, and express your opinions on recent happenings. Your input is vital for keeping the authority of your outsourced work high. Otherwise, your content writers will be writing blindly in an industry they probably know very little about.

    4. Give Feedback and Make Adjustments.

    articleimage1221 give feedback and make adjustments

    Feedback and revision is as important in a content partnership as it is a solo content marketing campaign. When you come across an article that you don’t like or don’t understand, make an inquiry. Explain why it’s off—it could be a topic misaligned with your industry, poor adherence to tone, or just poor structuring. Your feedback will prevent any outliers from slipping through and compromising your brand’s reputation, and will help your content partner produce better work in the future. Also feel free to send along new ideas for strategic direction, and work with your partner to make long-term adjustments to your mutual approach.

    5. Trust, but Verify.

    articleimage1221 trust but verify

    Finally, trust that your content partner is doing everything they can to produce high-quality work. You vetted your candidates carefully, so you should feel comfortable with your partner’s intentions and abilities. Let them do their job to the best of their ability, and follow up with verifications to ensure this is the case. Proofread the articles before they go out. Double check the editorial calendar to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Mistakes happen, and the more eyes you have looking out for them, the better.

    Outsourcing your content can be the best or worst move you make for your content marketing strategy. As long as you pay careful attention to who you choose as a partner, get yourself involved in the process early and often, and commit yourself to continually improving the mutual development process, you should have no problem making your team-based content generation strategy a sure win for your company.

  9. 3 Easy Types of Content Perfect for a Time Crunch

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    articleimage1210 3 Easy Types of Content Perfect for a Time Crunch

    In an ideal world, you would have several weeks of time to prepare each of your new pieces of content. They could be grandiose works, filled with original research and accurate, double-checked statistics, accompanied by custom photography, professionally edited videos, and of course, the most concise, beautiful writing you’ve ever done. Each one would be award worthy and demonstrative of all the hours of effort you put into them.

    Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way. Content marketing is highly competitive, highly demanding, and ever changing. As a result, you have to work quickly and act quickly, pushing new material on a weekly, if not daily, basis and working with a limited budget set by your or someone above you. This is why, more often than not, you’re forced to produce a new piece of content in a matter of hours—not a matter of weeks.

    Still, the flexibility of content marketing and the favoritism toward diverse strategies means not every piece of content you create has to be a home run. Each piece has to be high quality, and must favorably showcase your brand (otherwise, why would you post it?), but when you’re in a time crunch there are a handful of content types you can produce quickly without compromising your brand’s integrity:

    1.Interviews.

    articleimage1210 interviews

    Interviews are handy because you don’t have to do much actual content creation for them; that burden lies with your interviewee. All you have to do is come up with the questions, and if you’ve done an interview before with someone in your industry, you may even be able to recycle some of those older questions. Essentially, you’ll be writing about ten lines and getting ten paragraphs of information to publish. If you record the interview, you can have an embedded audio or video in your post, and then the only burden left is to transcribe the actual dialogue.

    The only problem here is finding the right person to interview on such short notice. Influencers and industry leaders typically have busy schedules, and won’t be able to squeeze you in for even a half hour if you’re expecting a same-day turnaround. But remember, you don’t always have to shoot for the top—why not search for a more peer-like contemporary? Heck, you could even look within your own organization and interview your CEO or the head of one of your departments.

    2. Quote-Driven News Pieces.

    articleimage1210 Quote-Driven News Pieces

    These pieces are boiled-down rewrites of news material that already exists. You’ll be reformatting the news and presenting it on your own blog in your own way, so the piece will be unique but most of the legwork is already done for you. The first step is to find a quality news piece you can take advantage of—start browsing industry news sites and forums for anything newsworthy that your own fans might like to read about. Then, paraphrase the article in your own words, citing heavy chunks of quotations and attributing them to the original source. You can throw in your own opinions and analysis of the current event if you have time, but the bulk of your material can come straight from the original (reworded, of course).

    This type of content actually has a limited advantage because of the time crunch. Since you’ll be publishing it immediately, you’ll get the benefit of responding to news within hours (or at most, days), and you’ll appear more authoritative and timely as a result.

    3. Old Piece, Revisited.

    articleimage1210 Old Piece

    This type of content should only be reserved for when you don’t have any other options, but in a crunch it can work quite nicely. Take a look back at some of your older pieces—preferably ones more than a year old. Are there any that attempt to make predictions about the future? Revisit them and evaluate why your prediction did or did not come to fruition. Are there any that analyze a new product or trend? Revisit them and talk about how that product or trend has changed over time. You’ll essentially be introducing the same topic, which you’re already familiar with, and adding a brief new spin on it, giving you an easy, yet new and informative piece.

    A Handful of Tips for Quick Turnarounds

    articleimage1210 A Handful og tips for quick turnaround

    Of course, there are a few other considerations you’ll need to bear in mind when drafting your lightning-quick piece of content:

    • Focus on one section at a time. Staring at a blank page might be intimidating, so try and break it down section by section. Focus on the introduction, then body paragraph one, then body paragraph two, and so on. It will help you manage your time and reduce your stress.
    • Attribute anything you copy. These types of content lend themselves to heavy quoting and borrowing, so don’t forget to give proper attribution. Cite the original author or the original article plainly.
    • Don’t forget to proofread. It may be tempting to hammer it out and send it to production, but it’s always worth the time and effort it takes to do one final read-through (and edit, if necessary). You don’t want a simple mistake to harm your reputation if it can be fixed proactively.
    • Start work on your next piece. Sometimes, time crunches are unpreventable—but most of the time, they’re easily preventable. As soon as you’re done with your pressing article, start brainstorming other works in your pipeline.

    Time crunches are never particularly pleasant, but they go much smoother when you have a relatively easy piece to create and a functional understanding of how to write a quality article under pressure. Don’t let the stress get to you; just do the best with the time and resources you have, and take steps to ensure the time crunch doesn’t pop up again.

  10. The New Bar for Content Quality in 2015

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    Ever since the Panda update rolled out in 2011, search marketers have been obsessively concerned with the quality of their content. Content quality, in onsite copy, ongoing blogging, and even offsite articles, is one of the most significant factors that culminates in your eventual search ranks. While the number of articles you produce and the locations where you publish and syndicate them are both important, they can only help you if the foundation of your articles—the quality—is strong.

    Over the years, Google has made adjustments to the way it determines the authoritative strength of a given article. Numerous iterations to the original Panda update have refined Google’s approach to some degree, and quite recently (at the beginning of May), Google released a new “quality assessment update” that revised these determining factors even further. Google has been tight-lipped about the specifics of the update, but a handful of contextual clues can lead us to firm conclusions about what Google looks for in content today.

    Combining the knowledge we have on the Panda update and its subsequent revisions, as well as this new quality assessment update, we can determine the main factors responsible for qualifying content as “good,” according to Google:

    Error-Free

    articleimage1199 Error-Free

    First, you’ll need to make sure your content is error-free. If Google detects any typos, misspellings, or improper use of grammar in your article, it could flag it as a low-quality entry. These errors are small and easy to fix, so take the extra time to scan each of your content pieces thoroughly before submitting to publication. One little mistake won’t cost you much, but it’s not worth taking the hit if you can easily prevent it.

    Detailed

    articleimage1199 Detailed

    Ambiguous content doesn’t fly anymore. Online users seek content when they need answers or solutions, and Google wants to provide them with the most detailed information possible—so make sure your answers are as thorough as possible. Accordingly, the majority of your articles should be of substantive length—3-400 word articles were once held as the golden blogging standard, but today 800-1,000 words is a much better range.

    Specific

    articleimage1199 Specific

    There’s too much existing content out there to trifle with something someone else has already done or has already done better.To get noticed by Google (and by your audience), your topics should be as specific as possible, delving into niche problems and speaking to a very specific target audience. Otherwise, you’ll blend in with the massive volumes of general content that already exist.

    Well-Written

    articleimage1199 Well-Written

    “Well-written” is an ambiguous term, so let me be clearer on this; it has to be evident that a native speaker wrote your content. Google’s quality evaluation algorithm is so complex that it can pick out various phrasing and sentence structuring issues that are characteristic of poor writers or non-native speakers. If you’re ever concerned about this quality of your work, try reading your article aloud—if anything sounds unnatural or awkward, it needs to be rewritten.

    Supplemented

    Great articles don’t rely exclusively on written words. The majority of your articles should be accompanied by images, embedded videos, or any other supplemental pieces of material that enhance the quality of your piece. Even if it’s just a header image to improve the visual nature of your content, Google loves to see supplementation.

    Interlinked

    articleimage1199 interlinked

    Your article isn’t an island; it should be interlinked with other articles that relate to it. On your own site, you should be linking to other articles and other pages that elaborate on points you make in the body of your content. Similarly, if you cite specific statistics or facts from other sources, you should link to those external authorities to validate your points.

    Appropriately Formatted

    If you have an 800-word article that’s all lumped together in one massive paragraph, Google is going to dock you some quality points. The formatting of your article is a major factor in its quality. For example, articles divided into sections with subheadings, clear distinctions, and various content structures like lists are more visually appealing and allow readers to navigate the article more easily. Take advantage of these principles—your readers will thank you too.

    Readable

    This is a somewhat minor element compared to some of the other factors, but it is worth noting. The level of vocabulary you use should appeal to the widest possible audience—as a general rule of thumb, that means targeting a high school reading level. Don’t use vocabulary that is too basic or too advanced—strive for the middle of that bell curve.

    Authoritative

    Google likes to see articles written by an authority, so the authorship of your work also plays into its quality value. As your domain authority increases, the value of your content will correspondingly rise (it’s a mutual relationship). Similarly, if an individual authority (like a guest blogger) is the author of an article on your blog, the value of that piece will increase. You can develop your reputation as an individual author by getting more work published on external sources and building up a greater social following.

    Engaging

    Google can’t directly measure how engaging your article is because algorithms can’t emote. They can, however, gauge the reaction of your followers to your content. The more likes, shares, and comments your article generates, the better its quality will be, so do everything you can to stir people up and get them talking about your work.

    If you can write an article with all these elements, you can consider it a good piece of content—if not great. Do this consistently, and do it on as many publication platforms as possible, and you’ll have no trouble rising to the top as Google quality indicators promote you to the level of a high authority.

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