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Category Archive: Content Marketing

  1. How to Use Paid Advertising to Promote Your Content

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    In some ways, paid advertising is the polar opposite of content marketing. Paid advertising is a traditional form of outbound marketing; you’re reaching out to a virtually unknown audience with a pitch to get them to buy something. Content is all about inbound marketing; you’re making yourself an authoritative, valuable source to naturally attract the type of people who would want to buy from you anyway. On paper, these are independent, contradictory strategies, but there are ways to use them together to massively benefit your brand.

    The Theory of Paid Content Enhancement

    Using paid advertising to support a content marketing campaign isn’t exactly a new strategy, but it hasn’t seen much growth in recent years because most marketers view them as independent channels. When using both together, the idea is for your content to take center stage and for your paid advertising to serve merely as a means to get more attention for it.

    Jump Starting a Stale (or New) Campaign

    articleimage1159 Jump Starting a Stale Campaign

    One key motivation for paid advertising support is for a content campaign that’s either struggling or just starting. Content marketing takes a long time to generate a decent audience, even if your material is strong, and even thriving campaigns can sometimes reach a peak and become stagnant if you fail to gain visibility for a new audience. In either of these situations, paid advertising can be a way to jump start your campaign. Because paid advertising allows you to gain significant visibility from a highly specific audience, you’ll essentially have a shortcut to a new readership.

    Widening the Funnel

    articleimage1159 Widening the Funnel

    Paid advertising could also be useful if you’re confident in your ability to convert readers with a chosen piece. Because with paid advertising you’ll be directing users to a specific page of your site (or a landing page), you’ll need to be certain that you can convert them successfully. If you find that a piece of content of yours has an exceptionally high conversion rate and you’d like to drive extra traffic to it, paid ads could be the solution. Just be sure to run some calculations first—you’ll be paying for a certain amount of traffic, so you’ll need to make sure you’ll theoretically generate enough sales from the deal to yield a positive ROI.

    Increasing Content Sales

    articleimage1159 Increasing Content Sales

    Of course, paid advertising can also be effective if you’re offering special content—such as an eBook or a whitepaper—in exchange for money. In this case, your content stops being a traditional content marketing strategy and instead becomes another product for you to sell. Still, in this scenario, paid advertising can be effective. For this purpose, you’ll want to set up an independent landing page designed to pitch the appeal of your content, and you’ll need to set the price at a level that entices your readership, but still allows you to edge over a positive ROI.

    How to Advertise Your Content Effectively

    The three motivations above are the most common reasons people seek paid advertising as a way to enhance their content marketing strategy. But simply implementing a paid strategy isn’t enough—with so many options available, it can be tough to choose the proper medium. Keep in mind, no matter what channel(s) you choose, you’ll need to research the competitive environment, optimize your copy to compel user action, and use A/B testing to weed out ineffective strategies before they start to wear on your bottom line.

    Search-Based PPC Advertising

    articleimage1159 Search-Based PPC Advertising

    When you think of paid advertising on the web, most people immediately imagine Google AdWords. While Google’s PPC advertising platform is certainly the most popular and robust on the web, it’s also one of the most expensive. If you get involved with Google AdWords, be sure your campaign is highly targeted, and run some user testing in advance so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Otherwise, Bing and Yahoo advertising might be more cost-effective options.

    Facebook and Social Ads

    articleimage1159 Facebook and Social Ad

    In terms of cost efficiency, Facebook is one of your best options. It’s a relatively new advertising vehicle, but its options are practically limitless and you can set your budget to as low as five dollars per day. You’ll be able to drill down to specific demographics—including the right age, gender, geographic location, and interests—and use detailed analytics to fine-tune your campaign as you go. Or, if you’re targeting an audience who doesn’t often use Facebook, you can try other social platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn.

    Affiliate Links

    Finally, consider using affiliate links on third party sources. They’re generally very affordable, though the traffic they’ll generate is arguably less than what you would find in a search engine or social platform. The key is to get links on sites that naturally attract your target audience.

    When it comes to content marketing, the paid advertising component is purely optional. If you find that your content isn’t generating as much visibility as quickly as you’d like, or if you need an extra boost of sales from your conversion-optimized pieces, it can definitely be worth it if you pick the right strategy. If you’d rather go the organic route with your content, there’s nothing wrong with that—you’ll see the same results, but it might take you a longer time to generate them. You can still use paid advertising as an independent strategy to generate new sales, or just abandon it altogether in favor of an inbound-exclusive campaign.

  2. How to Measure the Potential Virality of Your Content

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    Viral content is a Holy Grail in the world of content marketing. While there is no strict or numerical definition of what constitutes a “viral” piece, in general, a viral piece of content is one that has been circulated throughout the Internet hundreds of thousands to millions of times. Because it’s seen by millions of people and talked about ad infinitum, getting your brand attached to a piece of viral content is a surefire way to skyrocket your brand’s popularity and earn thousands—if not millions—of new visitors to your site.

    Of course, achieving this is far easier said than done. There’s no perfect formula for creating a piece of viral content, and some people spend months trying to create one only to fall short. While there is no secret way to guarantee success, there are a handful of qualities that can improve the virality, or probability of going viral, of your piece.

    Originality

    articleimages1161 Originality

    Originality is a must-have for any piece of viral content. If you want your material to be shared, watched, or read by that many people, you have to ensure that those people haven’t seen something similar before. The only exception is if your piece offers a strong counterpoint to an existing argument, or serves as a parody of an existing piece. Otherwise, your piece must be 100 percent unique.

    Choice of Medium

    articleimages1161 choice of medium

    The phrase “choice of medium” applies here because there’s no one medium with a higher chance of going viral than another. Videos are easy to share and easy to watch (which you’ll read about later), so they’re often chosen as the ideal medium, but this isn’t necessary for every piece of content. Be sure to choose a form that complements your material.

    Length and Ease of Access

    articleimages1161 convenience

    If your content is hard to get to, or if it’s difficult to read through, you can bet that people won’t enjoy it and won’t want to share it. Instead, work to ensure that your content is a concise, tidy length and easy to access. As an example, for videos, that means using a familiar medium like YouTube and keeping your videos under five minutes (or as short as possible).

    The Surprise Factor

    There needs to be something surprising about your material. Is it a shocking new statistic? A new revelation that nobody has considered before? Or is it just an interesting turning point in your piece that leads people to an “a-ha” moment? Whatever it is, it needs to generate a sense of surprise. People like sharing surprises.

    Research and Information

    articleimages1161 Research and Information

    Even if your content is mostly about entertainment value (which I’ll touch on shortly), there needs to be some grounding in real information or research. Using data to ground your assertions makes you seem more authoritative, and presenting new information makes people more interested in your material.

    Entertainment and Humor

    articleimages1161 Entertainment and Humor

    When something makes us laugh or thrills us, we naturally want to share it. That’s why so many funny videos have a high propensity to go viral. Even if your company’s brand is conservative or highly professional, your content should have some sort of entertainment value. Otherwise, there won’t be an emotional attachment to your piece, and people won’t want to share it.

    Practicality

    There needs to be some kind of practical application for your piece, even if it isn’t direct. For example, a tutorial on how to change a tire is practical for obvious reasons, but a video about a man overcoming adversity is practical for an indirect reason—it’s practical because it’s inspiring and can help people get through the day. Find a way to make your content practical, in any form you can.

    Timeliness

    It helps if your content is time-appropriate. Evergreen content is great as a foundation of your content strategy, but content that comments on recent events or fits in with a specific era has a higher chance of going viral. It provides another emotional connection and gives people a sense of urgency that leads them to share your piece more often.

    Public Appeal

    While most content strategies become successful because they’re focused on a highly specific niche, viral content succeeds when it is more universal and general. In order to become viral, you’ll need to appeal to millions of people, and that means choosing a topic that has a much wider appeal than just for your typical demographics.

    Shareability

    If you want your content to be shared, you have to make it easy to share it. If you’re posting your content on your site, include easy-to-find share buttons and social media integrations. Include calls to action in your piece that suggest for your followers and readers to share your piece. Make it easy, and reward your users for doing so.

    Initial Visibility

    Finally, your piece needs to have a jumping-off platform to build initial momentum. That might mean using paid advertising for an initial jump, sharing the hell out of it on your social channels, or getting a handful of influencers to share your material.

    Take a look at how many of the 11 above qualities your piece contains. If you have all 11, then congratulations—your piece has a genuine chance of going viral. If you have between 8 and 10, you have a very good piece of content with a small chance of going viral and a significant chance at winning favor with your target audience. If you have less than 8, your piece could probably use some work.

    Again, bear in mind that this article is meant to serve as a general guide, not an absolute recipe for success. The more content you produce and the more experience you gain, the better you’ll be able to “feel” for a content’s potential virality.

  3. 7 Trends in Content Marketing You Can’t Afford to Ignore

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    Content marketing is subject to trends the same way everything else in life is. Different groups of people latch on to new ideas, run with them, and eventually drop them when the next big thing hits. Some trends evolve into long-term best practices that stick around indefinitely, while others are fleeting, only staying top of mind for a few months.

    As a content marketer, it can be difficult to know which is which, and even more difficult to try and predict which trends will spike in popularity in the future. Predict correctly and you’ll reap the rewards of a spike in readers; predict incorrectly and you’ll waste time on a fleeting trend.

    Today, there are dozens of current trends circulating about, amidst rumors of how technologies will develop and how consumer tastes will change. Some of these are throwaways, but these seven are more than worth pursuing—they’re simply too important to ignore:

    1. Simple answers aren’t going to matter.

    articleimages1158 Simple answers aren’t going to matter

    Most content marketers realize the secret to writing content that gets found on search engines. All you have to do is write answers to the questions that people are asking. If you come up with the best answer for a common question, you’ll see a surge in traffic as your answer gets more visibility and therefore more hits. This fundamental principle is going to remain, but with one key difference: Google is going to start providing its own answers to as many questions as possible. By using the Knowledge Graph, Google is already providing simple answers to simple questions, meaning you have virtually no hope of getting traffic from those queries. As a result, many content marketers are turning to answer more specific, more complicated queries.

    2. Colloquial language is going to reign.

    articleimages1158 Colloquial language is going to reign

    Up until recently, specifically structured sentences featuring keywords have been the dominant trend in content language. Google’s Hummingbird update, which introduced the process of “semantic search,” eliminated the relevance of keywords, instead looking for semantic clues to understand the intention and meaning behind long phrases of language. Now, as more users start to rely on digital assistants and voice search, more conversational, semantic queries will start becoming the norm, and content marketers will be forced to include more conversational, colloquial language. The closer your content resembles natural human speech, the more likely it will be to get picked up.

    3. Niches will get more specific.

    articleimages1158 Niches will get more specific

    The hyper-competitive landscape of the Internet is only going to get more competitive in the near future. That means if you want to get any visibility at all, you’ll have to find new ways to differentiate yourself. You’ll have to drill down even deeper into your niche and cover even more specific topics, and do more competitive research to ensure what you’re saying hasn’t been said before. This is also important because of Google’s encroachment on general answers to general questions—the more specific your content is, the less competition you’ll face from the Knowledge Graph.

    4. Multimedia will be more important.

    articleimages1158 Multimedia will be more important

    This is a trend that’s been around in some form for the past several years. Companies that include images and videos as part of their content marketing strategy tend to see better results than those who rely on written text alone. But the idea of “multimedia” is related to the diversity and integration of different mediums—that means using a lot of different applications, not just one or two, and making sure they tie together in some way. That could mean including a podcast interview alongside a written transcript, or an infographic summary of a video—the trick is to use multiple mediums to carry a single message.This will give you the widest possible reach and allow you to reach the greatest number of possible consumers.

    5. Users will demand more interaction.

    articleimages1158 Use will demand for more interaction

    Users love to feel involved with the content they consume, and their demand for such interactivity will only increase as technologies become more capable of allowing it. Your blogs will need to speak directly to people and compel them to engage. You’ll need to sponsor user participation through promotions and invitations. You’ll need to include functional participation features like surveys and quizzes. Make it personally inviting, and get your readers actively involved.

    6. Geographic relevance will emerge.

    Wearable devices like the Apple Watch and Google Glass are just now beginning to emerge, but in a matter of years—maybe even months—they’ll start dominating the mobile device scene. When they do, the geographic relevance of user queries will skyrocket in importance. That means you’ll need to do more to tie your content to your city and your neighborhood, and offer interactive ways to digitally engage with a physical audience. Innovation here could establish you as a landmark thought leader for a revolutionary new technology.

    7. Real-time stories will dominate social.

    One major trend in content that has stuck around as a long-term best practice is the art of storytelling. If you can communicate your message or your idea in story form, you’ll be far more effective in compelling an audience. Social media tends to be dominated by the now—whoever has the most compelling idea in the present tends to win out. The future of social content is therefore a marriage of these two principles: getting your users to tell real-time stories about your brand. The path you take to get there is up to you.

    These seven content marketing trends are going to shape the next era of inbound marketing and consumer-brand relationships. Search, wearable technology, user experience demands, and demographics are all undergoing a significant evolution, and if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you’ll have to start acting now to adapt.

  4. Content Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Launch Your First Campaign

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    You know that content marketing is important. You realize the benefits it holds for your search ranking, your brand’s reputation, your user retention, your propensity for conversion, and your overall online visibility, but you’ve been intimidated to get started with the strategy. It could be because of a lack of resources or a lack of knowledge, but whatever the case, it’s prevented you from pursuing one of the most cost-effective and results-driven online marketing strategies around.

    This guide is written especially for you. By the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need to get started with an initial content marketing campaign.

    The Background

    Before you even write your first post, there are a few objectives you’ll have to accomplish. These are designed to help you find the right focus for your content and start writing in a way that your audience will appreciate.

    Choosing Your Goals

    articleimage1154 Choosing Your Goals

    Content marketing has many purposes, and you’ll have to choose which ones are most important to you. Are you interested in increasing your rank in search engines? If so, your content will need to attract more external links. Is it a brand reputation move? Quality and original research become much more important. Are you just interested in getting more conversions? You’ll have to make sure there’s a call-to-action in every post.

    Market Research

    articleimage1154 Market Research

    First, decide who you are writing for. Many new content marketers make the mistake of trying to write for everybody—this approach tends to yield very general, universal content that is neither interesting nor unique. Instead, figure out who your core demographic is, and learn what’s important to them. Create buyer personas, and really get to know your customers.

    Competitive Research

    articleimage1154 Competitive Research

    Next, take a look at your competition. What type of content marketing do your competitors engage in? How successful have they been with it? With this research, you can learn what types of content and what topics are and are not effective for your audience or your industry. Never copy a competitor’s strategy directly, but do make an effort to learn from it.

    Building a Voice

    articleimage1154 building a voice

    Next, you’ll need to start developing your brand voice. Consistency is vital if you want to build a successful campaign, and that means writing in a voice that’s in line with your brand. If your brand were a person, what qualities would he/she possess? What type of tone do your audiences want to read? Are you formal or informal? Authoritative or casual? These are important questions to answer before you start writing.

    Finding a Niche

    articleimage1154 Finding a Niche

    The most successful content strategies are ones that are highly specific. The more specific your niche is, the more initial visibility you’ll be able to build. Broad topics are too competitive, and you won’t be able to stand out. Based on all the research you’ve done, select a range of topics you want to control as your unique area of expertise.

    Establishing a Schedule

    Once all that background work is out of the way, you’re free to create a schedule and start writing.

    Determining Your Content Types

    First, decide which types of content you’ll want for your campaign. If you’re just starting out, blog articles should be your main priority. But you’ll also want to dabble in different mediums, including using infographics, videos, and alternative content types like interviews or whitepapers. Think of your audience—what do they want to read?

    Determining Your Level of Effort

    The more effort you put into your content strategy, the more it will pay off, but when you’re first starting out, you might have a tight budget or limited resources. Carefully balance your effort with your capabilities, and create a schedule that works for you—if you don’t have much time or money, one post a week may be ideal for your first few months. You can always scale up in the future.

    Checks and Balances

    It’s a good idea to set up a consistent process for your content development. Depending on how many people you have on your team, the research, drafting, editing, publishing, and syndication phases should all be segmented and have opportunities for others to catch mistakes. Your content should be flawless by the time it’s live online.

    Ongoing Syndication and Promotion

    Once your content is published online, you’ll have to take one more step to ensure it’s seen by the greatest number of people. This is the syndication and promotion phase, and it’s how you will build your initial audience.

    Social Media Syndication

    Take advantage of social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They’re incredibly popular, and free to use. Publish links to your latest posts, and follow people who might be interested in such content. Get involved with LinkedIn Groups, and use Twitter lists to get to know your audience better.

    Social Bookmarking

    Social bookmarking tools like Reddit and StumbleUpon are also useful in getting extra visibility for your new posts. If your post takes off, you could get thousands of new visitors, and even if you don’t, you’ll earn residual SEO benefits from using them.

    Email Marketing and Word-of-Mouth

    It’s also worth spreading the word about your new content strategy in more traditional ways. Let your existing customers know what you’re doing with an email marketing campaign, or simply mention it in conversation on your next sales call.

    Paid Advertising

    Finally, if you want a significant extra boost of traffic to your content, you can try using paid advertising. Set up a landing page that showcases your best material, and use a pay-per-click style campaign through Google AdWords, Facebook, or a similar competitor to drive traffic to it. If you do this, it’s a good idea to couple your content with a call-to-action that leads to some kind of revenue generation for your business directly. Otherwise, the extra investment may not be worth it.

    There you have it. You now have no excuse not to get started with a content marketing initiative. It will be weeks, or even months, before you start to see results, but the sooner you start building that momentum, the sooner you’ll be able to reap the benefits.

  5. How to Increase Reader Loyalty Through Simple Content Changes

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    Reader loyalty is a big deal. Without it, you may have short spikes of incoming traffic and brief periods of increased readership, but your traffic will be inconsistent and you won’t see overall progress over time. On the other hand, if you manage to increase reader loyalty, each new reader you acquire will be likely to stay with you, reading more of your work, seeing more of your brand, and ultimately buying more of your product.

    There are a variety of strategies you can use to increase reader loyalty, each with its own applications and varying degrees of potential success. But if you’re interested in increasing reader loyalty as quickly as possible with only a handful of simple content changes, these strategies are ideal for you.

    Add Images Throughout Your Copy

    articleimage1121 Add Images Throughout Your Copy

    Visual elements can make your piece much more appealing and much more engaging, and it doesn’t take much to add them. This is especially useful for instructional or how-to articles; you can take pictures of the process happening in real time, and use the images to illustrate what you’re describing in text. But in-text images aren’t limited to only tutorial use. You can also use memes or reaction images as an amusing way to illustrate your sentiments and points throughout the article—as long as your brand voice allows that degree of casualness. Doing this makes you more approachable and makes your content more memorable, which will keep your readers coming back for more.

    Get Conversational

    articleimage1121 Get Conversational

    If you write all your pieces in the tone of a Wikipedia article, people aren’t going to remember you. They might remember the information they read, and they might be genuinely pleased with how you answered their questions, but you won’t have left a lasting impression, and because of that, they’re unlikely to revisit you. If you want to engage your audience more directly, adopt a more conversational tone throughout your piece. Use sentences of varying length, use colloquialisms, and talk to your readers as if they are your friends. Doing so will create a sense of welcoming, and will invite your readers to return to your site in the future.

    Cite Other Influencers

    articleimage1121 Cite Other Influencers

    There’s nothing wrong with borrowing from the authority of others. In fact, if you never cite external sources, it might look like you’re inventing everything off the top of your head or that you don’t read any other material. If you demonstrate your own authority by showing that you’ve read other works, your readers will be more likely to consult with you in the future. In fact, citing other works gives you a slight suggestion of superiority, indicating that you’re adding to an existing conversation and building on existing value rather than simply regurgitating it.

    Interlink Often

    articleimage1121 interlink often

    When you write an article, be on the lookout for opportunities to link to other articles you’ve written. This process is known as interlinking, and it’s incredibly useful in building reader loyalty—plus it has the added benefit of increasing your domain authority. You can introduce another article using a phrase like “I talk about this in more detail in a previous post titled…” or simply add an embedded hyperlink to text relevant to whichever article you’re showcasing. However you choose to do it, do it regularly and help your readers venture deeper into your brand presence.

    Ask Your Readers’ Opinions

    articleimage1121 Ask Your Readers’ Opinions

    This is a simple addition you can include at the end of your article, but it goes a long way in building your readers’ loyalty. For example, if you ask your readers, “do you believe this is true?” you’ll spark a conversation, which will keep your users on your page longer and give them more exposure to your brand. Plus, when readers engage directly with the material, they’ll be more likely to feel a sense of camaraderie, and they’ll be more likely to return to your site in the future.

    Add an Interactive Element

    You could qualify asking your readers’ opinions as an interactive element, but there are many other options to be had. Getting your users to directly engage with your material is a pivotal step in getting them to bond with your brand. It can take whatever form you like, as long as it gets users to take an action—for example, you could include a reader survey or a quiz that readers can take.

    Create an Ongoing Series

    If you have an original idea or a lot to say about a given topic, make an ongoing series out of it. Create a multi-part miniseries or simply make it a weekly institution for your blog—whatever you do, make sure your readers know there is always more to the story. Use compelling headlines with “part 1,” “part 2,” and so on, and allude to the other posts in the body of each article. Knowing there’s an ongoing series will keep your readers hungry for new material—your material, specifically.

    These strategies are neither intensive nor complicated, so don’t waste any time in applying them to your existing content strategy. The sooner you can start building customer loyalty, the more time you’ll have to reap the benefits, and the more those benefits will compound. Be sure to revisit your content strategy on a recurring basis to evaluate it in terms of its impact as well as its adherence to your brand standards—you will have to make occasional adjustments to keep things fresh

  6. 3 Basics of Content Marketing Even Experts Miss

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    articleimage1117 3 Basics of Content Marketing Even Experts Miss

    Content marketing is one of the most universally useful and practical marketing strategies available today. It can help align your brand under one image, rank your site higher in search engines, improve your brand’s reputation as an authority, and attract more people to your online presence. It is the fuel that drives the majority of all online interactions, and it’s relatively easy to get started with a content campaign.

    Entrepreneurs, marketers, and writers have all tried their hand in the content marketing game, and many have gotten quite good at it. Learning the fundamentals is pretty easy, and if you do it long enough, you’ll fall into a nice, consistent rhythm. Unfortunately, there are a handful of basics that are easy to miss, and even the seasoned experts of the industry can forget about them:

    1. Originality Is a Prerequisite.

    articleimage1117 Originality Is a Prerequisite

    Everyone knows that originality is a good thing. If you can produce original material, you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition, you’ll stand out beyond the white noise, and you’ll encourage more loyalty in your readership by providing a greater value. But there are different kinds of “originality” and too many content marketers treat it as a “nice to have” feature, rather than what it is: a prerequisite.

    If your content isn’t in some way original, it isn’t going to be read. It’s really that simple. Even if you take an article and carefully rewrite it so it doesn’t constitute plagiarism and falls in line with your brand voice, the fact is someone covered that topic before you, and they likely did it better. Drawing inspiration from your competitors and other influencers in your industry is a good strategy to come up with new topics and inspire your writing, but only if you use it as a jumping-off point.

    The best way to make your content original is to start from scratch. Come up with a topic that no one’s ever heard before, or fund and publish some original research in an area that your industry has yet to touch. Of course, implementing original research takes a ton of time and creating wholly new topics from scratch is exhausting, so if you can’t afford either of these options, find originality in how you angle your content. Never regurgitate what others have written; instead, find a way to frame it in a new context, look at it in a new light, or share a new opinion on it. Unless you can make the piece truly distinctive in some key way, it isn’t a piece worth writing.

    2. Impact Is Tied to Visibility.

    articleimage1117 Impact Is Tied to Visibilit

    No matter how good your article is, it won’t matter if nobody can see it. The quality of your content is important, but like with originality, it is a prerequisite. Beyond that initial, necessary level of quality in your writing, your content’s impact is directly tied to its overall visibility.

    There are many ways to increase the visibility of your content on a variety of different scales. For example, simply including an image or an embedded video in your post can make it stand out on your core blog page and bring it out of the white noise of most followers’ social feeds. But positioning your article correctly can also lead to greater visibility; you’ll have to syndicate it using the right channels, and frame the intention and coverage of the article in the right light, as concisely as possible, if you want your piece to hit home.

    Start by analyzing the main purpose of the article, as well as which segment of your key demographics would benefit most from reading it. Then, spend some time coming up with a catchy headline that teases the content of the article without giving it away and remains true to the article’s intention. Finally, start selecting your syndication platforms of choice—look at social media channels that appeal to your key demographics, news outlets who might pick up your piece, and social bookmarking sites with a propensity to make a piece go viral. Further maximize your visibility by timing your post appropriately and using as many resources as possible to distribute your material, including paid ads if your content is strong enough.

    3. Measurement and Analysis Are the Only Ways to Learn.

    articleimage1117 Measurement and Analysis Are the Only Ways to Learn

    There’s something to be said for learning through experience. The longer you’re involved with content marketing, the better you’ll get at writing and distributing content. But the only way to truly improve the results of your campaign are to objectively measure your impact, and analyze the data to make meaningful adjustments to your approach.

    For example, you can tap into your social channels or your web traffic through Google Analytics to determine which articles seem to attract the most attention. You can also monitor the behavior of your readers to get a feel for the engagement level of the piece, or ask for direct feedback to help you understand key areas for improvement. With this information, you should be able to find which topics will be most valuable to cover for your brand, which tactics work and which don’t, and how you can syndicate differently in the future. Without this objective data in front of you on a regular basis, you’ll be left floundering, guessing at which strategies have been the most effective and unfortunately, wasting your time.

    Don’t let these three fundamentals of content marketing to escape you, despite their slippery nature. Keep them at the heart of all your content development, and occasionally audit your strategy to ensure that you’re staying on the right track. If you don’t periodically stop to check your progress and make adjustments, you could lose significant momentum.

  7. 7 Bad Content Writing Habits to Eliminate Now

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    As a content writer for a marketing campaign, you’ll find that your skills gradually improve over time. The more articles you write, the better you understand the mechanics of article writing, the more you learn from your mistakes, and the easier writing articles becomes in the future.

    However, the evolution of your skills is dependent upon your habits. With good writing habits, of course your content skills will flourish, but if bad habits encroach on your work, you may find the quality of your articles gradually decreasing.

    These bad habits are all too common in the content marketing world, so if you want to preserve your upward trajectory, you need to eliminate them now:

    1. Rewriting Articles You Read Somewhere Else.

    articleimage1118 Rewriting Articles You Read Somewhere Else

    Drawing inspiration from other sources isn’t just a good strategy; it’s a necessary one. You’ll need to read up on the latest news to discover new trends and report on them. You’ll need to do competitive research to see what types of topics your competitors have found success with. You’ll also need to do some digging to figure out what research on the subject has already been done. But this information shouldn’t lead you to write a summary piece, or essentially rewrite some of the material that’s already out there. It’s easy to fall into this trap, but instead, you should be using this information as background to write your own inspired piece.

    2. Regurgitating Outside Opinions.

    articleimage1118 Regurgitating Outside Opinions

    In a similar sense, you must do everything you can to avoid simply restating other people’s opinions about a new development or about a certain topic. If you’re quoting a source directly and you wish to offer it as a piece of evidence or illuminate the topic’s current environment, that’s fine, but don’t simply pass off someone else’s opinion as your own. Whether you’re writing for yourself or writing for a brand, it’s vitally important to showcase strong, bold opinions—even controversial ones. Your voice should be unique; otherwise, why would people want to read your content?

    3. Writing for Search Engines.

    articleimage1118 Writing for Search Engines

    This is a typical mistake of the content marketer whose primary goals relate to SEO. It’s true that the more high-quality content you write for a given site, the higher that site’s going to rank in Google. It’s also true that there are certain tweaks and adjustments you can make to your writing to make it more pleasing to search engine algorithms. However, writing exclusively for SEO is a bad strategy; even if you increase your rank and see increased traffic coming to your site, if your content doesn’t speak to that audience, they’ll quickly become disinterested and leave. In fact, if your bounce rates are high and Google can tell you’re trying to increase your rank via writing, you might actually lose ground in search engine ranks. Write for your audience first, and you won’t have to worry about it.

    4. Focusing on Length or Structure Above Quality.articleimage1118 Focusing on Length or Structure Above Quality

    As a content marketer, you likely understand the importance of consistency in your writing. However, some content writers take this to the extreme, ensuring that each of their posts conform to a certain set of structural standards; for example, they might demand a specific length or a specific number of sub-headings for each article. Doing this can restrict your ability to write genuinely high-quality content by imposing unnecessary limitations on factors that are relatively unimportant.

    5. Skimping on the Title.

    articleimage1118 Skimping on the Title

    When you get a good idea for an article, it’s easy to jump right into the body and plow through it. However, the title of your article is where you should spend the majority of your time. A strong title will captivate your audience and draw more people in to read your material. With a weak title, even the best content can go unseen. Make sure your title speaks appropriately to the body content of your article, and make it as concise as possible while giving it a “catchy” grab.

    6. Writing Only What You Want.

    When you sit down to come up with new ideas, you’re likely hit with at least a handful of topics that you’d like to see on your company’s site, or a few ideas that pique your own interest. This isn’t necessarily a bad strategy for idea generation, but if this is your only means of unearthing new topics, you’re seriously neglecting the most important part of your content campaign: your audience. You need to learn and consider your audience’s needs when coming up with new content, as a priority above any other concerns or interests.

    7. Forgetting the Fun Factor.

    Nobody wants to read drab content, even if it’s well worded and universally practical. There needs to be some kind of entertainment factor in your writing, whether that’s a playful tone of voice, the use of in-jokes or pop culture references, or even just a handful of images to liven up the text. Keep your readers entertained!

    Eliminating these bad content writing habits is your first step to improving your writing for the long term. Once you’ve smoothed out these rough spots, you’ll be clear to fine-tune the great habits of your content writing process, but remember—if you want to be successful, you’ll need to constantly evolve. The content marketing world moves fast, and the writers who spend the most time adjusting and improving are typically the ones who benefit the most.

  8. 7 Free Tools to Use in Your Content Marketing Strategy

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    It’s almost impossible to execute a full-scale content marketing strategy without a little help. Whether that help comes in the form of a team, a couple of freelancers, or just a useful suite of tools to assist you, that additional help can mean the difference between a highly successful content campaign and one that fizzles out too quickly.

    One of the biggest problems content marketers face is that this help isn’t free. Additional team members, freelancers, and most tools cost money to acquire, which cuts into the profitability of the campaign. Fortunately, there are several free tools you can use to refine your content approach and maximize your impact:

    1. Feedly.

    articleimage1119 feedly

    Feedly is one of the best RSS readers around, and it’s perfect for staying up-to-date and hunting for new topics in your content marketing campaign. Here, you’ll be able to fully customize a series of news feeds based around some of your most important subjects, influencers, or other reading preferences. It’s completely free and relatively easy to use—within a few minutes, you’ll be adding, organizing, and reading your content with the best of them. If you’re ever struggling to find a good topic idea, consult your Feedly and chances are, you’ll quickly find a jumping-off point for your next great article.

    2. Ubersuggest.

    articleimage1119 ubersuggest

    It once started as a keyword discovery tool, but now it’s just as useful for content topic generation. Ubersuggest is a simple association tool that allows you to input a query and then generates a list of hundreds of related keywords and keyword phrases. Based on Google’s predictive search function, the tool is incredibly useful for helping you find related topics and related keywords—which means if you have a general idea of what you want to write about (i.e., “marketing”), Ubersuggest can help you find a more niche focus.

    3. Evernote.

    articleimage1119 evernote

    Evernote is one of the best organization tools you’ll find online (or in app form), and its free version has much to offer. You can create your own to-do lists, take ongoing notes based on your research, and even manage clips from your other notes to organize in comprehensive posts. And since the app syncs between different devices, you can always rest assured that your notes are accessible from anywhere. Do note that there is also a paid version of Evernote, which comes with a variety of extra features.

    4. Hemingway.

    articleimage1119 hemingway

    For the time being, Hemingway is free, but don’t be surprised if it becomes a paid tool in the near future. Essentially, it’s a readability tool that analyzes your text based on how easy it is for an average person to read. It’s named after Ernest Hemingway, who is famous for his short, concise sentences and simple way of writing. On this app, you’ll be able to see which of your sentences are hard to read, which can be simplified, and which words can be either removed or improved.

    5. Hootsuite.

    articleimage1119 hootsuite

    Hootsuite is one of the most comprehensive social media schedulers available on the web, and it’s free to use if all you want are the basic features. With Hootsuite, you can manage the posts for all your social media accounts on multiple platforms in one location. You can also track and search for mentions of your brand, and measure which of your social posts have been the most effective. It’s a near-perfect tool for the syndication phase of your content strategy. For most bloggers and small businesses, the free package is more than enough, but if you want a little extra juice, the paid version is relatively inexpensive.

    6. Photopin.

    All great content marketing campaigns are rooted in compelling written content, but it’s the visual element that really makes them stand out. Posts with an accompanying image get far more clicks, shares, and likes than those without, so it’s well worth your while to include relevant images—the problem is, finding unique images for your posts can get time consuming or expensive. This is where Photopin comes in handy. Photopin is a free search tool that scours the web for free-to-use images you can use on your blog. Just be sure you check the license—not all free images are approved for commercial use—and give proper attribution when you publish the piece.

    7. Google Analytics.

    Hopefully, you’ve already got Google Analytics installed on your site or blog. If you don’t, install it now. It’s one of the most useful analytics tools you’ll ever find, and it’s completely free to use. Once your content marketing campaign gets some traction, you can use this to objectively measure the impact and success of your strategy. Using the tools of the Acquisition tab, you can measure the amount of traffic you’ve generated, and using the tools of the Behavior tab, you can analyze how they’ve interacted with your posts. The end result is a better knowledge of how your content has affected your customers and potential customers, and what you can do to improve in the future.

    Try out these seven free tools in your own content marketing campaign, and see which ones work best for you. If these don’t fully suit your needs, keep looking! There are hundreds of both free and paid tools out there dedicated to helping content marketers work more efficiently. Don’t stop until you find a range of tools that perfectly fits your individual needs.

  9. How to Write More Exciting Content for Your Industry

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    articleimage1113 How to Write More Exciting Content for Your Industr

    Let’s face it. Some industries are more boring than others. Sexy industries, like technological development, are naturally more thrilling to write about and publicize than more traditional industries like manufacturing or banking. Few people can work up enthusiasm while reading about bolt manufacturing the same way they can about new drone-based delivery apps.

    At least, this is the perception. The truth is that every industry in the world has the potential to be exciting—some potentials are just a little easier to tap into. The more exciting you can make your content, the more attention you can generate for your business, and of course, more attention is always a good thing for a brand.

    If you work in what you believe to be a “boring” industry, try some of these strategies to liven up your content—you just might find your business is far more exciting than you previously imagined.

    Use Storytelling

    articleimage1113 Use Storytelling

    It’s tough to think of your content in terms of a narrative, especially if you’re constantly ingrained in the technical details of your industry, but framing your content in the form of a story can go a long way in making it more exciting. For example, if you’re used to writing posts about the technical details of your manufacturing process, you might have difficulty thinking beyond the numbers and technical lingo that usually go along with it. Instead, force yourself to weave a narrative—tell the story of the journey each product makes throughout your factory. Tell the story of how a product gets to your consumer. Of course, the type of story you tell and how you tell it is up to you—just make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end.

    Make Your Content Relatable

    articleimage1113 Make Your Content Relatable

    One of the biggest symptoms of a “boring” industry is its lack of relatability. Imagine yourself describing where you work to a stranger—can you imagine the stranger responding “I don’t know anything about that”? If so, your content likely fails to generate enthusiasm simply because people can’t relate to it. If this is the case, work to make your content more down to earth. Focus on topics that affect the common person. Replace technical terms with more ambiguous but easier-to-understand colloquial terms. Relate the topics of your industry to those that are more familiar.

    Create Opportunities to Pique Curiosity

    articleimage1113 Create Opportunities to Pique Curiosity

    Curiosity is a natural driver of excitement. Think of all the articles on the web you’ve clicked to read simply because of a tease in the headline—something like “and you won’t believe what happens next.” Even though we’re not directly interested in the main topic of this content, our curiosity gets the better of us. You can use this to your advantage in practically any industry; use suspense and teasing language to draw your readers in. This is especially useful when applied to the title or the introduction of your article.

    Embed Images

    Spicing up your content with some embedded images can be far more beneficial than it sounds. For example, if you’re explaining a complicated process within your industry, take some pictures of it happening in real time and include them alongside your descriptions. If you can’t effectively visualize your content topic, you can always use memes and other entertaining images to illustrate your points in an alternative format.

    Make Your Pieces Interactive

    articleimage1113 Make Your Pieces Interactive

    When your posts become more interactive, the engagement factor increases, and you’ll have an easier time attracting more people to your content. As an added bonus, your content will be shared more frequently, and your readership will multiply even further. How you make your piece interactive is up to you—you could embed an interactive calculator to demonstrate a principle in real time, you could include a brief quiz or survey that users can take, or you could even go the simple route and just open the post for discussion.

    Get Creative With Metaphors

    To get away from the “boring” factor of your industry, relate it to something else entirely with a creative metaphor. Compare your subject matter to something more familiar or more interesting; this is especially effective when your target audience isn’t necessarily familiar with your industry from the get-go. The more creative, the better, so long as your metaphors make sense in context.

    Make Concise Points

    Some types of content get bogged down simply by their length. Highly technical and niche industries often demand long-winded, descriptive content, but that approach can actively drive users away. Instead, work to find concise points within the body of your content, and format your piece to highlight those points—for example, you could include a bulleted list of potential benefits to the process you describe. This will make your post more scannable and more digestible to audiences who may otherwise be alienated by its girth.

    Leverage Controversy

    Some businesses make it a point to stay away from controversy. They keep their opinions in the middle of the road and try not to mention any topic that could unsettle any portion of their audience. But if you want to make your content more exciting, you have to fight against this notion. Don’t be afraid to take a stand on a controversial issue; you might alienate a portion of your audience, but those that remain will be even more interested in what you have to say. Plus, you’re bound to stir up a discussion!

    Even if you don’t work in a traditionally “boring” industry, you can use these strategies to make your content more exciting, and therefore more appealing to your target audience. With practice, you’ll become even better at making your content more fun to read, and before you know it, it will all come naturally.

  10. 5 Tricks to Generate Content Ideas

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    Coming up with great content ideas is one of the most important—and yet one of the hardest—parts of any content marketing strategy. Your topics serve as the foundation for the rest of your building; if you build a strong foundation, there’s nothing stopping you from finishing a sturdy, beautiful piece, but if your foundation is shaky, no amount of care or effort can salvage the build.

    The difference between great topics and unstable topics will make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful campaign, regardless of how well you try to cover up your poor topics with great writing. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire recipe for successful topic generation, and even the most experienced content marketers sometimes struggle to come up with meaningful, reliable, impactful topics for their campaigns.

    First, understand the key elements of a successful topic:

    • It must be directly related to your niche; otherwise it could alienate your users or diminish the power of your brand.
    • It must be catchy or interesting enough to get people to click on a link.
    • It needs to be original, putting a unique spin on an existing topic or offering one that’s completely new.
    • It must be valuable, telling users exactly how it will help them.
    • It must be desirable, making it highly likely to show up in popular searches.

    Once you understand these fundamentals, you can use these five tricks to generate the best possible topics for your campaign:

    1. Scope Out Your Competitors.

    articleimage1100 Scope Out Your Competitors

    Your first line of help in generating new content ideas is an unlikely source—your competitors. While in ordinary circumstances you should be distancing yourself from your competitors, perusing their blogs and social media feeds can actually turn up a wealth of new material to use in your own content strategy.

    The key is to remember that you aren’t going to be copying your competitor’s strategy. Instead, you’re going to be learning from it. What types of topics have they posted that have found success? Which ones have fallen flat? How can you take the successful topics and reimagine them as your own—can you frame them in a new perspective? Can you add new information or retarget them to your niche audience?

    2. Use Question and Answer Sites.

    articleimage1100 Use Question and Answer Sites

    These types of sites are gold mines for content ideas, because you can go directly to the source—your target audience. For example, the question-and-answer style site Quora exists to help people find quick answers to pressing questions. You can browse through the questions related to your industry and uncover what types of problems are faced by your most important customers.

    Once you know what types of questions are currently being asked by your target audience, you can start brainstorming ideal topics to answer those questions. Chances are, people will search for answers to these inquiries using Google, and if your site answers them succinctly and accurately, you’ll have a much higher chance at earning a top rank for those queries.

    3. Spot Trends on Social Media.

    articleimage1100 Spot Trends on Social Media

    Instead of relying on your own wits to generate topic ideas, let the crowds on social media do it for you. Navigate through trending topics to see what news stories and topics are most popular—if you can incorporate one of these into a post, then do it, and publish it right away to gain the most attention.

    You can also use social research and social discovery tools to dive into real-time conversations around the web. The more you learn about what people are talking about, the better chance you’ll have at coming up with a topic that excites your audience.

    4. Leverage Google’s Free Tools.

    articleimage1100 Leverage Google’s Free Tools

    Google offers a number of free tools for businesses and researchers that you can use to fuel your own content topic brainstorming sessions. With Google Trends, you can monitor the relative popularity of various keywords and topics over time, and plan to post on topics related to the most popular current trends. With Google’s Keyword Planner, you can monitor the search volume for specific queries and discover new related queries that you can use as a jumping-off point to write new topics. Finally, with Google Analytics, you can take a close look at current traffic patterns coming to your site and analyze which types of topics have generated the most visibility for your brand in the past.

    5. Play Word Association Games.

    articleimage1100 Play Word Association Games

    This is a method of topic generation for the creative types out there. Rather than doing research online or trying to sort through existing topics, you’ll be digging up gems from your own mind.

    Start with a specific word, preferably one related to your industry, and write that word on a sheet of paper. From that word, draw several extending lines, and at the end of each of those lines, write a word related to the original word. Repeat this ad infinitum until you’ve got a large network of interconnected words—from there, you should be able to pluck out a handful of topics at a simple glance.

    If you work these five topic generation strategies into the ongoing processes of your campaign, you should have no trouble facilitating an ongoing stream of new topic ideas. Over time, you’ll develop an almost intuitive sense for which topics will work and which ones won’t, and you’ll find it easier to find the diamonds in the rough. Keep your standards high, keep your work consistent, and there will be nothing stopping you from achieving content marketing success.

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