This may be of some interest.
You can’t have one without the other … No, I’m not musing about love and marriage. I’m talking about content…
The post 9 Essential Elements of Effective Content Marketing appeared first on Copyblogger.
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This may be of some interest.
Writing a blog post is easy.
If you don’t write often, you may feel otherwise, but just follow this
and you’ll be good to go when it comes to writing. Or, you can just watch the
But still, you write a blog post and then what do you do?
Well, I’ll tell you this… most people forget the “marketing” in content marketing. Most people write content but don’t do a great job of promoting it.
Here’s the thing: I figured out the perfect formula to promoting content.
Best of all, it’s not complex. Heck, it doesn’t even take 30 minutes. It’s so easy that I broke it down into 6 steps.
And just to give you an idea before we dive into the formula, it’s so effective here is the traffic to my latest blog post.
35,492 visits in a week isn’t too shabby. The post didn’t do exceptionally well and it didn’t tank. It was just an average post.
Now you probably won’t see the same results as me as I’ve
been doing this for a long time, but your results will be much better than what
you are currently getting. Hence, I used the number of 3,549 in the title as
you should be able to drive 1/10th of what I am generating.
So, let’s dive right into the formula.
Step #1: Optimize your headline
8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 people will click through on your headline to read the rest of your article.
No matter how well written your content is, promoting it won’t
be effective if no one likes your headline.
Now I know what you are thinking… I’ve already published my
article, is it too late to change my headline?
Nope, you can always change your headline, just try not
to change the URL of the article once it is already published. And if you decide
to change the URL, use a
There’s a really simple way to come up with headlines that work. Heck, it doesn’t even take more than a minute or two.
Just head over to Ubersuggest and type in the main keyword or phrase your article is about.
You’ll see a report that looks something like this:
Now I want you to click on “Content Ideas” in the left-hand navigation.
You should now see a report that looks like this:
This report shows you all of the blog posts around the web
that contain your keyword or phrase within their title. And it breaks it down
by social shares, backlinks, and search traffic.
You can use this to see what is working in your space.
Ideally, you want to look for headlines that have thousands of social shares (or hundreds if you aren’t in a popular industry), at least 10 backlinks, and more than 100 estimated visits. Just like the example below.
Making your headlines similar to ones that meet those 3 criteria
will increase your odds of getting more traffic.
Step #2: Add 3 internal links
The easiest way to get your new content more love is to
Yes, links are hard to build, but internal links are not…
plus they are still effective.
I rank for competitive terms like “digital marketing”…
A lot of it has to do with internal links. I link to my main
digital marketing page within my sidebar and within my content.
Every time you publish a new blog post, I want you to go into your older content that is relevant to your newly published blog post and add a link to it. Do this to 3 of your older blog posts.
This helps with indexing and it also helps your new
content rank higher on Google.
Step 3: Share your content on the social web carefully
The problem with social media marketing is that people think they can just share their content on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn and it will automatically do well.
Sadly, it won’t because billions of URLs have been shared
In other words, we just tend to ignore most of the links
But there is a simple way to stand out and get thousands of visitors from the social web, just like I get.
So, what’s my secret?
Well, I will give you a hint. Just look at one of my most
recent posts on LinkedIn:
And here is one from Facebook:
Do you notice a pattern?
I’m evoking curiosity. In other words, I am piquing your
interest and if you want to know the “solution” you have to click through to my
With the LinkedIn post, I tell you that marketing is going
to change next year. I also make a point to say how it is going to change in a
way that nobody is talking about.
I do this because we all can assume marketing will change. But
by saying it is in a way nobody is talking about, it evokes curiosity. And if
you want to know how it will change you have no choice but to click through
over to my site to read the rest.
With my Facebook post, I also evoke curiosity. I talk about a Google algorithm update, but I hint that I have an answer to leveraging Google’s latest algorithm update. And if you want to know what it is, you have to click through over to my site.
Whenever you post on the social web, evoke curiosity if you want people to head over to your site.
The easiest way to do this is that every time you share one of your articles on the social web, add a few sentences above the link that helps pique peoples’ interest.
Step #4: Message everyone you link out to
It’s common to link out to other sites within your blog
Heck, sometimes I even link out to my competition.
If you don’t ever link out to other sites, you are making a
big mistake. It helps with authority and trust.
If you are using stats and data within your article, you
want to cite your sources. This brings credibility to you and it helps brand
yourself as an expert which can help with Google’s medic
Now, when you link out to a site, go and search their email
address. You can typically find their email address on their website.
Or if you can’t find their email address, look for a contact
page on their site, you’ll typically see a form that you can fill out.
Whether you find an email address or contact form, I want
you to message each and every single site you link out to with a message that
goes like this:
Hi [insert their first name],
I just wanted to say, I love your content. Especially your article on [insert the name of the article you linked out to].
I linked to it from my latest blog post [insert URL of your blog post]. It would make my day if you checked it out and even shared it on your favorite social network if you enjoyed it.
[insert your name]
When I send out these emails, I am getting 50 to 60% of the people to respond and share my content. But of course, my blog is popular, so for me, it isn’t too hard. But it hasn’t always been that way, and I’ve been leveraging this tactic for ages.
On the flip side, I also use this tactic on a few of my
blogs that are in other niches and don’t use my name (no one knows I own them)
and I am seeing success rates around 20%.
Just make sure you don’t use this tactic to ask for a link back.
Your success rate will be slim.
Step #5: Send an email blast
These last two tactics produce a large portion of my
results, and you shouldn’t take them for granted, no matter how basic they may
If you already haven’t, start collecting emails from your
site. You can use free tools like Hello Bar
to create popups or sliders.
Hello Bar will plug into whatever email provider you are
Once you are up and running, every time you release a new
blog post, send out an email blast.
Here’s an example of one of my email blasts.
It’s so effective it generated 13,544 clicks.
I’ve found that you can drive good traffic from emails as
long as you do the following:
- Scrub your list – if someone doesn’t open your emails over the last 30 or 60 days, remove them from your list. It helps keep your emails in people’s inboxes.
- Send text-based emails – if you look at the email I sent, I keep it simple. No images, nothing fancy, just text and a link back to my site. It’s that simple.
- Evoke curiosity – just like how I explained with the social media posts, your emails won’t do well unless you evoke curiosity.
As you write more content you will get more traffic, which will cause your email list to grow. That will also cause you to get more traffic. 🙂
Step #6: Send a push notification
I don’t know why so few sites are leverage push notifications. It’s so effective I believe I will get more traffic from push notifications in 2020 than I will from email marketing.
To give you an idea, when I analyze my competitors in the
marketing arena, only 3 out of 19 use push notifications.
In other industries, the percentage is far worse, which means there is more opportunity for you.
Here’s how push notifications work….
Someone comes to your site and through their browser, they get a message if they want to subscribe to your site.
A portion of your visitors will click “allow”. With NeilPatel.com, roughly 5.4% of visitors are currently clicking “allow”.
You can send push notifications and get subscribers using a
free tool like Subscribers.com.
And then when you write a new blog post, you log into Subscribers.com and click on the “Create Notification” button. From there you will see a screen where you can enter the title and description of your latest post.
As you can see from the image above, you’ll notice that I use an “icon” image, a “large” image, and I show “custom buttons.”
Using those 3 elements is the key to getting the most
traffic from push notifications. Here are some of my stats from using
I’m getting roughly 6,000 visits from every push notification
I send. That’s not too bad.
And if you are curious about what a push notification looks like, here’s what people get when I send it out.
What’s cool about push notification is no matter what
website someone is on, they will see a message similar to the one above, which
will bring people back to your site.
No dealing with spam filters or messages not going through. Plus, if someone isn’t online when you send a push notification, the next time they use their web browser they will see your message.
Promoting your content doesn’t have to be hard.
You don’t need “advanced” tactics or anything that is out of
the box. The basics work well, and I have been using the above formula for
Now, I know there are other things you can do to promote your content, but let’s be realistic: we are all strapped for time. And I’ve found the ones I’ve mentioned above to produce the biggest bang for the buck.
So, what other simple ways do you promote your content?
The post My 6-Step Content Marketing Formula That Drives 3,549 Visitors appeared first on Neil Patel.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
So, what happens when someone clicks through to your website? Do you persuade them to stay and find out more…
The post 5 Content Optimization Mistakes You’ll Wish You Fixed Sooner appeared first on Copyblogger.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Forrester’s April Henderson started her Content Marketing World 2019 session with a classic cautionary tale:
Johann Rall was fighting for the British at the turning point of the Revolutionary War. The night before the Battle of Trenton, he was out celebrating at the home of a local Loyalist merchant. That merchant had seen General Washington amassing his forces and knew the attack was coming.
So what did the merchant do? He created relevant content! He wrote Rall a note and slipped it across the table. Rall nodded, put the note in his pocket… and continued his evening of revelry. The British were caught unawares, and the tide of the war began to turn. That lack of content engagement might be how America won the war.
In other words, when content doesn’t connect with your audience, the results can be disastrous.
Capturing the Attention of a New Breed of B2B Consumer
Right now B2B content is missing the mark, and missing it by a wide margin. Based on Forrester’s own research, 65% of B2B buyers say vendors give too much content. Over half say much of the material they get is useless. Seventy percent said the material is focused more on style than substance.
How can marketing professionals with mountains of research and tons of experience be getting it so wrong? According to April, it’s a failure to adapt to changing buying habits:
April says the new B2B consumers “aren’t buying your product; they buy into your approach to solving their problems.” They don’t want to hear about product features, awards your brand has won, or even how your product compares to a competitor.
They want to know that you hear their problems, you understand them, you sympathize, and you have solutions.
Using Data to Drive Empathetic Content
We usually think of data and emotion as two separate types of appeal (logos and pathos, for those who remember high school debate club). But according to April, you can actually make more effective emotional appeals by using data.
After all, you’re showing the consumer you understand them. The best way to understand them is by ethically using the data you’ve got to inform your marketing. With the right data on board, you have a credible, authentic story to tell about how you can help your potential consumer.
To drive the point home, April shared a case study from a company called LogMeIn. This security solutions provider commissioned a survey to see how sophisticated businesses were with their security.
When it came time to present the findings, they didn’t just create a white paper and lock it behind a gate. Instead, they used the report data to create a maturity model, and that model became the basis for a self-assessment calculator.
Consumers could take the assessment for their business and see how they measured up against competitors. Then they were offered the entirety of the original research, ungated, and presented with a contact form for customized recommendations. Those who filled out the form, says April, were already well into developing a relationship with the brand. They were practically sales qualified leads already.
LogMeIn built that affinity by helping customers learn about themselves and their competitors, providing a ton of value that was keyed to customers needs, not the brand’s solutions.
Shouldn’t B2B Content Be Logical, not Emotional?
Even with overwhelming evidence about the power of emotional appeal, it’s easy to think of emotion as somehow less real, less effective for B2B buyers. April disagrees. “B2B decisions are really complex, but we don’t have some separate brain we engage to make those decisions,” she says. B2B buyers don’t somehow switch off their emotions while they’re at work.
Getting started with that emotional component is as easy as thinking about an average day in your ideal buyer’s life. Think about the whole person, not just the buyer part. What do they really want? It might break down like this:
- I want to get off work in time to pick up my daughter from school
- So I want to process these invoices faster
- So I need to automate this process with software
With these points in mind, instead of showing how your software is x times faster than the competitor, show the parent getting out of work on time and picking up their kid at school. That’s a story that your buyer can relate to, whether they’re an IT decision influencer or a C-suite decision maker.
Make Human Connections across Channels
So you’re collecting data and creating empathetic content based on your findings. The next step is to humanize your buyer’s journey and see it holistically. You need to meet your consumers where they are, not try to herd them into your preferred channel.
April cited Forrester research that says the average buyer’s journey crosses at least twelve different channels. How can marketers meet the buyer on all those different media? Content atomization.
You don’t have to create tons of new content for each channel, April says. Instead, start with cornerstone content, a large asset that can be broken down and repurposed in multiple formats. This type of modular content helps promote consistency across channels.
Another way to repurpose content is to add customizable or interactive elements. In another Forrester survey, 50% of B2B buyers said they wanted interactive, web-based assets rather than static PDFs. And 61% said they want to input information to generate a customized output.
Keep Your Messaging Consistent – For Sales, Too
There’s one more challenge to making content more empathetic: In a single face-to-face meeting, a sales rep will either validate or totally negate your branding efforts. It only takes one off-brand conversation to wreck the relationship you’ve been nurturing.
As such, April says, our work doesn’t stop at the sales hand-off. Sales leadership should be included as a stakeholder in the entire content program, from the planning stages onward. That way, marketing can create more relevant content, and sales can learn how to use it more effectively.
One key way content marketers can help sales is by helping develop data-based tools, like LogMeIn’s self-assessment calculator. April identified four key attributes of a great sales enablement tool:
- It facilitates clients sharing the scope and scale of their needs
- It Includes relevant comparison data from peers
- It provides personalized output to leave behind with the customer
- It sets the expectation for a sales followup
To Get Your Content Seen, Show Your Audience You See Them First
Is your B2B content helping people solve problems, or is it just pointing them at your product? If it’s the latter, you’re missing the mark. April demonstrated how data can help you make an emotional connection with potential buyers. Show them you understand their problems – even the ones that go beyond your particular solution. Don’t hesitate to show your solution in the broader context of people’s lives, and don’t shy away from an emotional appeal.
Need more Content Marketing World in your life? The conference is over, but we have plenty of takeaways still to come. Follow @leeodden, @NiteWrites, @azeckman, and @toprank on Twitter for real-time insights.
The post April Henderson on Data-Driven, Empathetic B2B Content #CMWorld appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Year after year, hundreds of marketers report increased efforts and spending on their content marketing — or the intention to do so.
But great content is a waste if your audience doesn’t know it exists.
Content distribution is an integral, if not the most important, part of your content strategy.
In recent years, there’s been a rapid influx of content … met with dwindling demand. With almost 4.5 million blog posts published every day, there’s only so much content we can consume. Marketing influencer Mark Schaefer argues that, because of this “content shock,” content marketing may not be a sustainable strategy for every business.
While I won’t agree or disagree with this theory, I will equip you with the tools you need to distribute the content you create. By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to build a content distribution strategy that gets your content in front of — and consumed by — your audience.
Although the content distribution process happens after you create your content, it should be step one of your content marketing strategy. You should know where and how you’re going to publish and promote your content before you put the proverbial pen to paper — otherwise, your time and resources could go to waste.
Where should I publish my content, you ask? Through the various content distribution channels we discuss next.
Content distribution channels are the channels through which you share and promote the content you create. There are three types of content distribution channels: owned, earned, and paid. The channels you use to distribute your content will vary based on your audience and resources.
Owned Content Distribution
Owned channels are the content properties your company owns. You can control when and how content is published on your owned channels. These include your website and blog, your social media profiles, your email newsletter, or a mobile publishing app.
Earned Content Distribution
Earned channels (also known as “shared” channels)are when third parties promote or share your content. These third parties could include customers, journalists, bloggers, and anyone who shares your content for free — hence the name “earned”.
These channels include public relations, social shares and mentions, guest articles and roundups, and product reviews. They also include forums and communities like Reddit or Quora — while posting on these sites is free, the content is owned by these third parties and therefore falls under earned channels.
Paid Content Distribution
The following diagram illustrates how these three content distribution channels overlap and how you can combine them to enhance their impact and reach.
If 70% of marketers lack a content strategy, how many do you think have a content distribution strategy? I’d bet not many.
Moreover, some marketers recommend that you spend 20% of your allotted content marketing time creating your content — and the other 80% promoting it. Sound like something you’re doing? If not, this is where a content distribution strategy comes in handy.
A content distribution strategy is important for a few reasons:
- It boosts your content impact past curation and creation. As I said above, great content is practically useless if nobody’s reading it. A content distribution strategy gets your gorgeous content in front of the right eyes.
- It aligns your team and the teams with which you collaborate to create and share the content. Depending on the size of your company, you may have several cooks in the content marketing kitchen. (I know we do at HubSpot.) A content distribution strategy aligns all these different parties and ensures you’re all collaborating efficiently.
- It sets goal benchmarks against which you can measure your distribution performance. Content distribution can be vague — a simple press of the “Publish” button, and you’re done. A content distribution strategy helps you set benchmarks and hard goals to chase while publishing and promoting your work.
Here’s how to build a content distribution strategy for yourself.
1. Research your target audience.
Content distribution is all about getting your content in front of your audience. You can’t do this properly if you don’t know where they are and what they like to read. Before you build your strategy any further, research your target audience so you know precisely who will be consuming your content.
Start by collecting demographic data from your website visitors, email subscribers, social media followers, and customers. Take a look at your audience’s gender, age, income, location, education, and related categories. You can pull this information from Google Analytics or your social media analytics tools.
Next, collect feedback directly from your customers, email subscribers, and social media followers. Ask them about their pain points and needs as well as how they feel about your current content and distribution efforts.
Use these two data points to create your buyer persona. Your buyer persona(s) act as models of your ideal customers and content consumers and represent their pain points, information preferences, and motivations as you build out the rest of your content distribution strategy.
2. Audit your content.
You may already have some published content out there, such as blog posts, videos, social media content, and more. While your new content distribution strategy doesn’t involve removing that content, you should perform an audit to understand if it’s helping or hurting your distribution efforts. Auditing your current content will also remind you of which topics you’ve already written about and which ones you can expand on.
A thorough content audit is comprised of three main parts:
- Logging your content. Logging your content can be done manually or with a tool. (We recommend the latter, especially if you’ve been publishing content on multiple properties and channels.) Tools like Screaming Frog can help you crawl and collect your content, listing each URL, title, and description in a spreadsheet. The free version crawls up to 500 URLs. If you opt for a manual content audit, follow the steps in our blog post here.
- Assessing your content impact. If you crawl your content with SEMRush, the tool will also list content length, social shares, and backlinks. This information can help you assess the impact of each piece of content, alerting you to anything that needs to be updated, rewritten, or erased.
- Identifying your content gaps. You can also identify gaps in your content using the Ahrefs Content Gap tool or by performing keyword research to discover new keywords or keyword phrases to add to your content, thus helping it rank higher and for more terms.
Check out this blog post for 30+ more content auditing tools.
3. Choose your content distribution channels.
Your content distribution channels are arguably more important than your content itself, hence why this step comes before content creation and after target audience research. Once you know your target audience, you’ll have a much better idea of how to get your content in front of your followers and customers.
Depending on your analysis, you may post on forums and communities like Reddit or Quora — and pay to promote your content on those sites, too. Alternatively, you may choose to exclusively share content on social media channels, or perhaps you find that traditional PR is your best route.
Regardless of which content distribution channels you choose, ensure they align with your audience’s preferences and behaviors.
Also, be sure to optimize your owned distribution channels — your blog, email newsletter, and social media profiles — as these are relatively inexpensive and in your control. Even if research shows that your audience prefers forums to social media or news sites to company blogs, never neglect your owned properties as these reflect on your brand and product.
As you work through this step, set aside time to optimize your blog-to-gain readership, brush up on how to send email newsletters (or start sending them), and learn about organic social media marketing.
4. Decide on your content types.
After you determine your distribution channels, consider what types of content you’d like (and have the resources) to create.
Many companies choose to publish all of their content on their blog and then repurpose and re-publish it. Blog posts are universally consumed, easy to repurpose and localize (i.e. translate into other languages), and simple to share — not to mention that almost 50% of buyers read a company’s blog while making purchase decisions. For these reasons, we recommend building a business blog and then expanding your content types from to share on other channels.
Consider these content types — and how you’ll repurpose and distribute them — as you create your blog posts:
- Podcasts and interviews
- Case studies
- White papers
- Checklists and listicles
Goals help us recognize where we’re going and what success might look like when we get there. Your content distribution strategy should involve setting goals for your content key performance indicators (KPIs) and their subsequent metrics:
|key performance indicators||related metrics|
|Traffic/reach||Unique page views by channel and source|
|Engagement||Bounce rate, average time on page|
|Top content (and falling content)||Top page views, top exits|
|Impact||Click-throughs, conversions, backlinks|
|Sentiment||Comments, social shares|
These metrics may vary based on your distribution channel (i.e. you can’t track comments on your email newsletter or top exists on your social media ads), so be sure to choose the metrics that correspond best to each channel. It might take a few months to establish a baseline for each channel, especially if you haven’t used it before.
Set SMART goals for your content using these metrics. Here’s an example:
- Specific: I want to increase our blog’s organic traffic by boosting backlinks from other reputable websites and blogs. This will increase our search engine ranking, thus bringing in more organic traffic.
- Measurable: I’d like 30 new backlinks to our blog.
- Attainable: We’re already generating 10 new backlinks each month without an intentional strategy, so I believe 30 new backlinks this month with our strategy is feasible.
- Relevant: This goal aligns with our broader organic content marketing strategy and could also boost our earned media as we get mentions from press outlets and third-party bloggers.
- Time-bound: I’d like to receive these backlinks within the next month.
6. Build an editorial calendar (and include distribution).
Content marketing and distribution require lots of planning to be successful. This is where an editorial content calendar can come in handy. You can create one in Excel or Google Sheets, or even use Google Calendar. Tools like CoSchedule, Asana, and Trello are helpful, too.
Your editorial calendar, like your content distribution strategy, helps your team stay aligned and work towards common goals. It also gives your writers and editors a roadmap for what they’ll be working on in the coming weeks and months.
Here’s what your editorial calendar may look like (using this post as an example):
Your editorial calendar is the perfect place to include your content distribution plans and goals. Here’s what that may look like on your editorial calendar:
See how the right-hand columns now include categories like “Publish Destinations” and “Repurposing Plans”? Your editorial calendar should serve as your hub for all content creation and distribution plans.
7. Create your content.
After you research your audience, audit your content, decide on your distribution channels and content types, and build your editorial calendar … it’s time to create your content. Content creation will vary based on your resources, team size, industry, and brand, so to get the most pointed, applicable advice, check out our Guide to Content Creation.
As you work on your new content, check out these tools:
- AnswerthePublic, which can help you flesh out topics and understand what your audience is searching for
- Canva, which can help you build gorgeous infographics and images
- Vidyard, which is a video hosting and publishing platform made for marketers
- Anchor, which is a free podcasting tool for beginners
We’ll talk more about content distribution tools in the next section.
8. Distribute and market your content.
You’ve created your content … now it’s time to put it out in the world. Following your editorial calendar and chosen distribution channels, publish and market your new content. As for any marketing channel, be sure you follow rules to optimize your posts on each channel.
For example, our team at HubSpot paid for ads on Reddit and found that it was helpful to organically engage with Redditors as well as pay for ad space. Alternatively, if you’re posting on (or paying for) social media, be sure to follow the guidelines for the best times to post and share content — the same goes for sending emails.
9. Measure and analyze your results.
As always, be sure to keep an eye on your content distribution results. Remember those KPIs, metrics, and SMART goals you established in step five? Time to pull those out.;
After you’ve published your content, take a look at Google Analytics, your social media analytics dashboards, and your blog performance — depending on where and how you distributed the content. Make sure you set a routine time to measure and analyze (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) so that you can establish a baseline and know which numbers you can beat the following week or month.
Whew! So, that’s what it takes to build a content distribution strategy. Be sure to iterate on this process; these guidelines may change as you expand your content efforts and scale your team. Now, let’s talk about the tools you need to get it done.
Content distribution can be an arduous process, but thankfully there are many content distribution tools out there to help you get your work discovered and consumed.
These tools help you publish your content on additional networks and forums to reach broader audiences.
Medium is a content platform that individuals and businesses alike use to publish content. You can use Medium in addition to or in lieu of your traditional blog. (We recommend in addition to your blog as this will give your content the broadest reach.)
Medium is where thousands of readers consume content. It’s a one-stop-shop platform for all kinds of content … kind of like Amazon is for products. For that reason, consider publishing to Medium to increase the number of people who see your content.
Price: Free and paid
LinkedIn Pulse is similar to Medium except it lives on LinkedIn. While there isn’t a homepage that aggregates all the published content, it’s still a helpful tool for getting your written content in front of your followers (for free). You can publish on LinkedIn Pulse through your personal or company LinkedIn pages by simply clicking “Write an article”.
Note: LinkedIn Pulse is also a mobile application that you can download to receive daily headlines and trending news.
Read more about publishing on LinkedIn Pulse here.
These tools help connect you with journalists and publications to help expand your earned distribution channels and gain backlinks.
PR Newswire is a press release distribution network. The platform helps you target and contact journalists and outlets by specific industries, geographic areas, and topics. It offers packages for state and local, regional, and national press.
HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out, which is an online platform that connects journalists and sources. In this case, you’d be the source.
When you sign up for HARO, you’re sent daily emails with journalist queries. Respond to these queries to be potentially featured in an article. This is a reactive content distribution tool, but it’s helpful for getting press mentions and backlinks.
Price: Free and paid
These tools help distribute your content on social media and amplify your posts.
HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing software, meaning its useful for email marketing, analytics, and social amplification. I’ve placed it in the “Social Tools” section because its Social Inbox is incredibly helpful for content distribution.
From your Social Inbox, you can monitor, schedule, and post content to your social networks. You can also access information from your email marketing campaigns so you have the big picture of your readers and customers.
Price: Free and paid
ClickToTweet is a tool that equips your readers to share soundbites of your content on Twitter with a single click. You create your content soundbites, and ClickToTweet provides a link. When readers click that link, the tool opens their Twitter with the content soundbite already ready to post.
It also links to your Twitter account and content — allowing your readers to distribute your content for you.
GaggleAMP is a social amplification tool that allows you to aggregate your employee’s social networks and post company content directly to them. Employees have the option to review and improve content before it’s posted or allow it to go through automatically. This is a great alternative to constantly bugging your staff to post on about your business.
You can also use this tool to link to social networks from partners, customers, brand advocates, and more.
Price: Free and paid
AddThis is an on-page social sharing tool. It allows your readers to share your content without bouncing from your page (and potentially getting distracted). You can also integrate AddThis share buttons into your email newsletter and other assets.
These tools help you measure and analyze the impact of your social posts and other distribution efforts.
Mention is a social media monitoring tool that provides social media listening, publishing, crisis management, and more. You can use Mention to monitor any mentions of your brand name, content, or social networks and respond accordingly. This is a great tool for measuring the impact of and engagement around your content and see who is promoting it for you.
Price: Free and paid
SharedCount is a tool that helps you measure the engagement of your social media posts. Simply input a URL, and SharedCount will report on its likes, shares, comments, and other engagement measures. While it can’t help you distribute your content, it can alert you to which pieces are performing well and which pieces may need to be updated or scrapped.
Price: Free and paid
Outbrain is a paid amplification tool that aggregates your content at the bottom of other articles. You can set up content campaigns with an RSS feed or specific URL(s), and Outbrain will place them under related content, encouraging readers to click and read yours.
Outbrain works with an impressive network, including digital publications like NYT and Mashable.
WiseStamp is an email tool that allows you (and your employees) to share your latest content in your email signature. Your email signature is often a forgotten but important piece of digital real estate that practically everyone who opens your emails will see. WiseStamp helps you make the most of that space.
Distribute Your Content to Grow Better
Amazing content is a waste if no one is consuming it. Content distribution is a critical piece of the content marketing puzzle. It’s is also the key to boosting your brand awareness, collecting loyal followers, and encouraging your readers to click, act, and become customers.
Put these content distribution tips and tools to get your content in front of your audience.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory. All I did was take a day off!
Opening today’s post up with a bit of levity felt fitting, because calendars can cause much anxiety. They bring to mind deadlines, meticulous organization, and time crunches, which are often oppressive realities for marketers with a million things on their plates.
But the truth is that you’re likely to encounter much more dread if you don’t house your content planning within a documented and strategic editorial calendar for blogging. Building out a set schedule (with a bit of flexibility) ultimately makes your life easier because it provides a guiding light, and ensures your content strategy remains cohesive and oriented around your objectives.
In other words, editorial calendars are no joke. Here’s how you can construct one that seriously drives your company’s blog (or any other content initiative) forward.
Fortify Your Editorial Calendar in Five Steps
Whether you’ve already got a content calendar, which you hope to refine and improve, or you’re starting from scratch, these five steps will put you on track.
Step 1: Crystallize Your Objectives
The biggest issue with many content plans is that they’re aimless and wayward. When you’re figuring things out on the fly, it can be difficult to tie everything back to the same goals and desired outcomes. So the first step is to zoom out and nail down what you’re trying to achieve with the content in question. For instance, if your blog is designed to generate leads with specific audiences, are you tethering each piece on your calendar back to this outcome in some way?
Placing objectives front-and-center is a key benefit of documenting your content strategy, and making them the underpinning of your planning will help ensure everything you publish has a purpose.
Step 2: Chart Your Pillars and Timely Focuses
With objectives clearly defined, you can formulate content pillars that will serve as the cornerstones of your editorial calendar. Also known as topic clusters, these are the general categories that all of your content will nest under. Pillars are determined by the intersection of what you want to be known for, and where demand exists. They should be informed by SEO research around keywords and queries, hitting the sweet spot between search volume, expertise, and buying intent.
Here on the TopRank Marketing Blog, our pillars are aligned with our agency’s core services — content marketing, SEO, influencer marketing — and so pretty much everything we create for the blog approaches these topics from various angles for people who are interested in learning about them and looking for insight.
Don’t view content pillars as restricting; there are a wide range of ways you can address almost any topic, either directly or tangentially. Organizing your calendar around them will help ensure you stay focused, and relevant to your target audience. In addition to identifying a topical mix, you can start to define your content types — how-tos, thought leadership, influencer collaborations, conversion-driven pieces, etc. These can be aligned with various stages of the buying cycle, and mapped back to the key objectives established in Step 1.
At this point, it’s also smart to map out industry events or seasonal milestones that you’ll want to create content around.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t view content pillars as restricting; there are a wide range of ways you can address almost any topic, either directly or tangentially. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #ContentPlanning” username=”toprank”]
Step 3: Coordinate with Your Broader Strategy
This is a vital consideration that is all too frequently overlooked. Whatever channel you’re scheduling content for — be it a blog, email, social, etc. — think about ways you can coordinate with other departments or disciplines in the organization. For example, does your sales team experience higher volumes of inquiries at certain times of year? Or are they attending a trade show next month that you could support with content? Maybe one of your executives will be speaking at a conference, and you want to queue up some thought leadership around the subject of their talk in the days leading up.
A strong editorial calendar should reflect the company holistically. In this sense, it can be helpful to make your calendar visible to everyone and not just the folks on your team.
[bctt tweet=”A strong editorial calendar should reflect the company holistically. @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #ContentPlanning ” username=”toprank”]
Step 4: Plot Your Cadence and Schedule Out Your Content
How often will you create content? And why? We all know it’s valuable to publish regularly, because this is how you build an invested and trusting audience, but “regularly” can mean different things under different circumstances. Is it daily? Three times a week? Multiple times per day? This decision shouldn’t driven by guesswork, but by data.
Although it’s a little older now, HubSpot has a helpful post on determining how often companies should blog based on variables like company size and B2B vs. B2C. But you’ll also want to dig into your own visitor behavior analytics and draw conclusions on what your audience wants. Test different cadences and compare the impacts. As a general rule, more publishing equals more traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be worth your while to create new content each day.
As Alfred Lua of Buffer writes: “I would recommend experimenting and finding a suitable editorial cadence based on your content goals and the amount of time you have. There is no one right editorial cadence. HubSpot publishes several articles a day while Backlinko publishes less than once a month.” (As a side note, we highlighted Backlinko’s quality-over-quantity approach here earlier this year.)
Having made this decision, you can start filling out the calendar appropriately, using your content pillars and organizational directives as guides. Plan as far out as you’re comfortable (at least one month, but forecasting three or more months is even better). Make sure you’re building in enough topical variety to keep things fresh and diverse. Once you get your schedule documented, it becomes easy to spot gaps or overloads.
Step 5: Leave Room for Change
Note that you don’t want to completely fill out your editorial calendar. As we mentioned earlier, it’s important to leave some flexibility so you can nimbly address timely matters as they arise and account for the (expected) unexpected. Contently editor-in-chief Jordan Teicher proposes a 75/25 rule, wherein one out of every four slots in your calendar is left blank.
“In my years managing the site, I’m certain of one thing: s*** happens,” Teicher writes. “People miss deadlines. Sources don’t respond in time. The design team can’t find the right image. My day gets stuffed with meetings, which prevents me from editing a draft. A flexible content calendar is about more than just coming up with ideas for the current news cycle. It’s also about realistic expectations.”
Smart Practices for Getting the Most Out of Your Editorial Calendar
The five steps above will help you solidify your calendar. Here are a few additional tips to help make the process smoother and more effective.
- Hold group brainstorming sessions. Usually, the toughest thing about building out a content calendar is coming up with enough concepts to fill it in. I recommend setting up a time where a bunch of your creatives come together to load up the pipeline with ideas (run these ideas past your content pillars and SEO research to assess strategic viability). Make sure to incorporate voices from various departments.
- Slice up and repurpose. It’s always valuable to get the most mileage possible out of your content. If you’ve got a big, meaty blog post planned on a certain subject, why not divvy it up into three parts and run it as a series? If you’re looking for a reliable performer next month, why not take your most successful piece from last month and flip it into an infographic, or conceive a follow-up post that expands on it? Repurposing is a great way to get the most out of your content leftovers.
- Lean on the right tools. For some content teams, a spreadsheet or even a Word doc can be sufficient for organizing your editorial calendar. In other cases, this initiative can be run through your project management software. But for high-volume teams with many elements to track and account for, it might be helpful to go with a dedicated content-centric solution. There are plenty of them out there, including Contently, DivvyHQ, Kapost, CoSchedule, and more.
- Create comprehensive coverage. What this looks like can vary in different scenarios. It might mean approaching your topical pillars with best-answer content that addresses every subtopic your customers are interested in learning about (especially those queries carrying any level of purchase intent). If you’re in a crowded niche, it might mean gobbling up every bit of white space your competitors are missing. If your content is oriented toward B2B buyers, it might mean creating content for every role on distributed buying committees, and speaking to each stage of a lengthy purchase cycle.
Right on Schedule
If you feel apprehensive about building an editorial calendar from scratch, you’re not alone. It can feel intimidating to schedule out so far in advance, and to consistently manage and maintain this resource. But I assure you, once you get into the groove, your life will be much easier and your results will improve.
Following the steps and recommendations above will help you stay on target and derive maximum value from your efforts.
Want to add further efficiency and foresight to your strategy? Learn more about getting ahead with your content planning.
The post Content Marketing Planning: How to Build Your Editorial Calendar appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
If I write a blog post on any topic, what do you think happens?
It typically gets indexed by Google the same day I publish the content and within a week it tends to rank high on Google.
Then again, I have a domain score of 94 and I have 633,791 backlinks. Just look at the image above. (If you are curious what your link count or domain score is, put in your URL here.)
But if you have a lot fewer backlinks and a much lower domain score, what do you think would happen?
Chances are your content won’t get indexed fast and it won’t rank as high as you want.
But there has to be a way to change this, right? Especially without building more backlinks because we all know that’s time-consuming and hard.
To find the most ideal solution, I decided to run a little experiment.
Around five months ago, I sent out an email to a portion of my mailing list asking people if they wanted to partake in an SEO experiment.
As you could imagine, I had well over a thousand websites who were willing to participate. I had to narrow down the list because for this experiment to be effective, a website had to have a domain score of 30 or less and no more than 40 backlinks.
That way it’s at least a challenge to figure out how to rank new content higher.
In addition to that, the site couldn’t be a subdomain, such as domain.wordpress.com. It had to be a standalone site.
Once I removed all of the outliers, I was left with 983 people who agreed to participate in the experiment. Of those, 347 stopped replying or backed out of the experiment due to time commitments, which means I was left with 636.
How did the SEO experiment work?
For all of the sites, we had them write a piece of content. We didn’t make it a requirement that the content had to be about any specific topic or that it had to be written a certain way… we just had them write one piece of content that was between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length.
We enforced the minimum and maximum length limit because we needed the post to be long enough to naturally include keywords, but if it was too long… such as 10,000 words, it would have a higher chance to rank on Google.
Each site had 30 days to write the piece of content and publish it on their site. Within 30 days of the content being published, we looked up the URL in our Ubersuggest database to see how many keywords the post ranks for in the top 100, top 50, and top 10 spots.
We also repeated this search 60 days after the article was published to see if there were any major differences.
The Ubersuggest database currently contains information on 1,459,103,429 keywords from around the world in all languages (a lot of keywords have low search volume like 10 searches per month). But for this experiment, we focused on English speaking sites.
We then split the sites up into 9 groups. Roughly 70 sites per group. Each group only leveraged 1 tactic to see if it helped with rankings.
Here’s a breakdown of each group.
- Control group – this group just published the article and didn’t leverage any promotional or SEO tactics. Having a control group allows us to compare how specific tactics affect rankings.
- Sitemap – all this group leveraged was a sitemap. They added the article to their sitemap, and we made sure the sitemap was submitted to Google Search Console.
- Internal linking – this group added 3 internal links from older pieces of content to the newly written article.
- URL Inspection – within Google Search Console you can request that they Crawl and index a URL. That feature is called URL Inspection.
- Social shares – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Reddit were the social sites that this group submitted and promoted their content on.
- Google Chrome lookup – for each site in this group, we had 40 people type in the URL directly into their address bar and look up the site. This could have been done on either mobile or desktop versions of Chrome. I added this group in there because I was curious to see if people visiting your site from Chrome browsers affects your rankings.
- Meta tags – my team optimized the title tag and meta description for everyone in this group. Based on the article, we crafted the optimal meta tags to not only include keywords but also to entice clicks.
- URL – with this group we only optimized their article URL to include keywords and we tried to keep the length around 50 characters as that is what they supposedly prefer.
- Everything – this group combined all of the tactics above other than the control group as they didn’t do anything.
Before I dive into the data, keep in mind that if someone was in one of the groups, we did our best to make sure that they weren’t leveraging any other tactic. For example, for everyone who wasn’t in the sitemap group, we had them remove their existing sitemaps for Google Search Console (other than the everything group).
So how many keywords does an average website with a domain score of 30 or less rank for in Google within a month and even two months?
I was shocked at how many keywords a site could rank for when it barely has any links and a low domain score.
But what wasn’t as shocking is how a web page’s ranking can increase over time. The orange line shows the number of keywords that ranked within the first 30 days and the green line shows the number over the first 60 days.
You know how people say you need an XML sitemap, well it is even more important if you have a low domain score. At least, that is what the data shows.
When your site has very few links and a low domain score, you’ll find that Google may not crawl your site as often as you want. But by leveraging a sitemap, you can speed up the indexing process, which helps decrease the time it takes for your site to start ranking for keywords.
Internal linking group
Links, links, and more links… it’s what every site needs to rank well. Ideally, those links would be from external sites, but that’s hard to do. So, we tested how internal links impact rankings.
When you add internal links from your old content to your newer articles, it helps them get indexed faster and it helps push them up in the rankings.
Especially when these internal links come from relevant pages that have some decent rankings on Google.
Articles that leveraged 3 internal links had more page 1 rankings than sites that just used an XML sitemap.
URL inspection group
If you aren’t familiar with the URL inspection feature within Google Search Console, it’s a quick way to getting your content index.
Just log into Search Console and type in your article URL in the search bar at the top. You’ll see a screen that looks something like this:
All you have to do is click the “request indexing” link.
Leveraging this feature has a similar result to using the sitemap.
Social shares group
I’ve noticed a trend with my own website, in which if I create a piece of content that goes viral on the social web, my rankings for that new piece of content skyrocket to the top of Google… at least in the very short run.
And after a few weeks, I notice that my rankings drop.
Now, my site isn’t a large enough sample size and there are many reasons why my site ranks really well quickly.
Nonetheless, it was interesting to see how much social shares impact rankings.
Getting social shares substantially performed better than the control group, but similar to my experience with NeilPatel.com, the rankings did slip a bit in month 2 instead of continually rising to the top.
Social shares may not have a direct impact on rankings, but the more people who see your content the higher the chance you build backlinks, increase your brand queries, and build brand loyalty.
Google Chrome lookup group
Do you know how people are saying that Google is using data from Google Analytics and Chrome to determine how high your site should rank?
Well, I wasn’t able to prove that from this experiment.
I had 40 random people directly type in the URL of each new article into Google Chrome. I spread it out over a week, making sure they clicked around on the site and stayed for at least 2 minutes.
The ranking results were very similar to the control group.
Meta tags group
Now this group performed very similarly to the group that leveraged internal linking. And the month 2 results outperformed all other groups.
User metrics are a key part of Google’s algorithm. If you can create a compelling title tag and meta description, you’ll see a boost in your click-through rate and eventually, your rankings will climb.
If you want to boost your rankings through your meta tags, it’s not just about adding in the right keywords, you’ll also want to boost your click-through rate. Follow these steps to do just that.
The 8th group tested if URL length impacts how high a new piece of content ranks on Google.
Based on the graph above, you can see that it does. It didn’t have as much of an impact as internal linking or meta tags, but it did have an impact.
The key to creating SEO friendly URLs is to include a keyword or two and keep them short.
If your URL is too long and descriptive, such as:
The article will rank for very long tail phrases but will struggle to rank for more popular terms like “meta tags” compared to URLs like:
The beautiful part about the short URLs is that they rank well for head terms and long tail phrases.
The charts clearly show that little things like meta tags, URLs, internal linking, social shares, and even sitemaps help.
But the key to doing well, especially if you want your new content to rank well is to not just do one of those things, but instead do them all.
As you can see from the chart, doing everything gives you the best results. Now sure, some of the things are redundant like using an XML sitemap and using the URL inspection feature, but you get the point.
You’ll also notice that when you leverage everything together your results aren’t exponentially better… SEO is competitive and has turned into a game where every little thing adds up.
If you want to do well and have your new AND old content rank faster and higher, you need to do everything.
I know the tactics above aren’t anything revolutionary or new, but it’s interesting to look at the data and see how specific tactics affect rankings.
So, what do you think?
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Why do you do keyword research?
It’s to find more lucrative keywords to rank for on Google, right?
But once you find these keywords, you still have to figure out how to rank for them.
For that reason, I decided to update Ubersuggest because I wanted to show you what kind of content to create and even how to promote it.
That way you can start ranking for these newly found keywords.
Here’s what’s new…
The way you rank for a keyword is by creating content around it. I know content isn’t king anymore and that’s because there are over 1 billion blogs on the web. That means Google can be really picky about what they decide to rank.
So now, not only do you need to write amazing content, but you also have to promote it if you want to do well.
To help you with this I created a Content Ideas report in Ubersuggest. So whenever you do keyword research, you’ll see an overview that looks like this:
Just like before, you’ll see a graph at the top with the search volume over time, some keyword recommendations and, at the very bottom, a list of blog posts that performed exceptionally well for that keyword.
When you click on “content ideas” in the navigational menu or you click on “view all content ideas,” you’ll then be taken to a page that looks something like this:
This page shows you all of the popular blog posts that have been written related to the keyword or phrase you searched.
The list is ordered by social shares, so the posts with the highest social shares are at the top. At the bottom, you can keep clicking to see more results. Even if your screen only shows 1 or 2 pages, just keep clicking next and you’ll start to see results for pages 3, 4, 5, etc.
We only show you 20 results per page, but each key phrase will typically have hundreds, if not thousands, of results as our database has over 500,000,000 blog posts from around the world.
And because there are so many results, we’ve also created an easy to use filtering system so you can fine-tune your search by including certain keywords or excluding other ones and even putting minimum and maximum thresholds on social shares.
My favorite part about the content ideas report
I know you can do similar things with Buzzsumo and other tools, but this is why I created the Content Ideas report.
As I mentioned earlier, content isn’t king. You not only have to write amazing content (that’s why I sort the content by social shares as more shares typically mean people love it), but you also have to promote it.
You’ll notice that there are two other columns in this report that make the tool unique… one is “Estimated Visits” and the other is “Backlinks”.
Estimated visits will show you how many visits the blog post generated from Google each month. Just click on “Keywords” and it will even show you the keywords that drive those visits and the position the article ranks for each of those terms.
Backlinks, on the other hand, are all of the referring domains that point to each article. So if 12 unique domains link to that blog post, then you’ll see the number “12” in that column. All you have to do is click on “links” and you’ll see the full list of backlinks.
Not only do I provide a thorough list of backlinks, but I also show you the overall page score, domain score, anchor text, and even the type of link.
The reasons I made the Content Ideas report like this are:
- By creating content similar to posts that have a lot of social shares, it increases the chances that the content you are writing is going to do well as people have already shown interest in that topic and even shared it on the social web.
- By showing you the keywords a blog post ranks for, you’ll know what keywords to focus on when writing the content. This way your post can rank as well.
- By showing you who links to your competition, you can now hit up everyone who links to competing articles and ask them to link to your piece of content.
Less fluff and more data
In addition to the Content Ideas report, you’ll now find that Ubersuggest provides you with more data and less fluff when you perform a keyword query.
For example, if you search for the term “dog food,” it will tell you that the average result that ranks in the top 10 has 72 backlinks and a domain score of 82.
This way, if you want to rank for that term or any other term, you’ll have a rough idea of what you need from an authority and backlink standpoint to achieve a spot on page one.
If you are going to create content or write a blog post, you should check out the Content Ideas report each time before you write.
The last thing you want to do is create content that people don’t care about reading. And this report will give you good feedback so that way you aren’t wasting your time creating content that doesn’t generate social shares, backlinks, or rankings.
You’ll also notice that some posts do extremely well from a social sharing standpoint but terrible from a backlink and a search traffic perspective.
Social shares will bring you more short-term traffic and search engines bring you less traffic upfront, but more consistent traffic over time.
This report will help you find a balance so that you can get both short-term traffic and consistent traffic over the long-haul.
So, head on over and try the new Content Ideas report.
What do you think about the content ideas report?
The post Ubersuggest 4.0: The Ultimate Content Marketing Tool appeared first on Neil Patel.
Thank you for reading.
This may be of some interest.
Posted by matt_gillespie
There’s an oft-cited statistic in the world of technology professionals, from marketers to startup founders to data scientists: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years.
This instantly-Tweetable snippet was referenced in Forbes in 2018, mentioned by MediaPost in 2016, and covered on Science Daily in 2013. A casual observer could be forgiven for asking: How could that be true in three different years?
At Fractl, the data makes perfect sense to us: The global amount of digital information is growing exponentially over time.
This means that the “90 percent of all data…” statistic was true in 2013, 2016, and 2018, and it will continue to be true for the foreseeable future. As our culture continues to become more internet-integrated and mobile, we continue to produce massive amounts of data year over year while also becoming more comfortable with understanding large quantities of information.
This is hugely important to anyone who creates content on the web: Stats about how much data we create are great, but the stories buried in that data are what really matter. In the opening manifesto for FiveThirtyEight, one of the first sites on the web specifically devoted to data journalism, Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver wrote:
“Almost everything from our sporting events to our love lives now leaves behind a data trail.”
This type of data has always been of interest to marketers doing consumer research, but the rise of data journalism shows us that there is both consumer demand and almost infinite potential for great storytelling rooted in numbers.
In this post, I’ll highlight four key insights from data science and journalism and how content marketers can leverage them to create truly newsworthy content that stands out from the pack:
- The numbers drive the narrative
- Plotted points are more trustworthy than written words (especially by brands!)
- Great data content is both beautiful and easy-to-interpret
- Every company has a (data) story to tell
By the time you’re done, you’ll have gleaned a better understanding of how data visualization, from simple charts to complex interactive graphics, can help them tell a story and achieve wide visibility for their clients.
The numbers drive the narrative
Try Googling “infographics are dead,” and your top hit will be a 2015 think piece asserting that the medium has been dead for years, followed by many responses that the medium isn’t anywhere close to “dead.” These more optimistic articles tend to focus on the key aspects of infographics that have transformed since their popularity initially grew:
- Data visualization (and the public’s appetite for it) is evolving, and
- A bad data viz in an oversaturated market won’t cut it with overloaded consumers.
For content marketers, the advent of infographics was a dream come true: Anyone with even basic skills in Excel and a good graphic designer could whip up some charts, beautify them, and use them to share stories. But Infographics 1.0 quickly fizzled because they failed to deliver anything interesting — they were just a different way to share the same boring stories.
Data journalists do something very different. Take the groundbreaking work from Reuters on the Rohingya Muslim refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, which was awarded the Global Editors Network Award for Best Data Visualization in 2018. This piece starts with a story—an enormous refugee crisis taking place far away from the West—and uses interactive maps, stacked bar charts, and simple statistics visualizations to contextualize and amplify a heartbreaking narrative.
The Reuters piece isn’t only effective because of its innovative data viz techniques; rather, the piece begins with an extremely newsworthy human story and uses numbers to make sure it’s told in the most emotionally resonant way possible. Content marketers, who are absolutely inundated with advice on how storytelling is essential to their work, need to see data journalism as a way to drive their narratives forward, rather than thinking of data visualization simply as a way to pique interest or enhance credibility.
Plotted points are more trustworthy than written words
This is especially true when it comes to brands.
In the era of #FakeNews, content marketers are struggling more than ever to make sure their content is seen as precise, newsworthy, and trustworthy. The job of a content marketer is to produce work for a brand that can go out and reasonably compete for visibility against nonprofits, think tanks, universities, and mainstream media outlets simultaneously. While some brands are quite trusted by Americans, content marketers may find themselves working with lesser-known clients seeking to build up both awareness and trust through great content.
One of the best ways to do both is to follow the lead of data journalists by letting visual data content convey your story for you.
“Numbers don’t lie” vs. brand trustworthiness
In the buildup to the 2012 election, Nate Silver’s previous iteration of FiveThirtyEight drew both massive traffic to the New York Times and criticism from traditional political pundits, who argued that no “computer” could possibly predict election outcomes better than traditional journalists who had worked in politics for decades (an argument fairly similar to the one faced by the protagonists in Moneyball). In the end, Silver’s “computer” (actually a sophisticated model that FiveThirtyEight explains in great depth and open-sources) predicted every state correctly in 2012.
Silver and his team made the model broadly accessible to show off just how non-partisan it really was. It ingested a huge amount of historical election data, used probabilities and weights to figure out which knowledge was most important, and spit out a prediction as to what the most likely outcomes were. By showing how it all worked, Silver and FiveThirtyEight went a long way toward improving the public confidence in data—and, by extension, data journalism.
But the use of data to increase trustworthiness is nothing new. A less cynical take is simply that people are more likely to believe and endorse things when they’re spelled out visually. We know, famously, that users only read about 20-28 percent of the content on the page, and it’s also known that including images vastly increases likes and retweets on Twitter.
So, in the era of endless hot takes and the “everyone’s-a-journalist-now” mentality, content marketers looking to establish brand authority, credibility, and trust can learn an enormous amount from the proven success of data journalists — just stick to the numbers.
Find the nexus of simple and beautiful
Our team at Fractl has a tricky task on our hands: We root our content in data journalism with the ultimate goal of creating great stories that achieve wide visibility. But different stakeholders on our team (not to mention our clients) often want to achieve those ends by slightly different means.
Our creatives—the ones working with data—may want to build something enormously complex that crams as much data as possible into the smallest space they can. Our media relations team—experts in knowing the nuances of the press and what will or won’t appeal to journalists—may want something that communicates data simply and beautifully and can be summed up in one or two sentences, like the transcendent work of Mona Chalabi for the Guardian. A client, too, will often have specific expectations for how a piece should look and what should be included, and these factors need to be considered as well.
Striking the balance
With so many ways to present any given set of numbers, we at Fractl have found success by making data visualizations as complex as they need to be while always aiming for the nexus of simple and beautiful. In other words: Take raw numbers that will be interesting to people, think of a focused way to clearly visualize them, and then create designs that fit the overall sentiment of the piece.
On a campaign for Porch.com, we asked 1,000 Americans several questions about food, focusing on things that were light and humorous conversation starters. For example, “Is a hot dog a sandwich?” and “What do you put on a hot dog?” As a native Chicagoan who believes there is only one way to make a hot dog, this is exactly the type of debate that would make me take notice and share the content with friends on social media.
In response to those two questions, we got numbers that looked like this:
Using Tableau Public, an open-source data reporting solution that is one of the go-to tools for rapid building at Fractl, the tables above were transformed into rough cuts of a final visualization:
With the building blocks in place, we then gave extensive notes to our design team on how to make something that’s just as simple but much, much more attractive. Given the fun nature of this campaign, a more lighthearted design made sense, and our graphics team delivered. The entire campaign is worth checking out for the project manager’s innovative and expert ability to use simple numbers in a way that is beautiful, easy-to-approach, and instantly compelling.
All three of the visualizations above are reporting the exact same data, but only one of them is instantly shareable and keeps a narrative in mind: by creatively showing the food items themselves, our team turned the simple table of percentages in the first figure into a visualization that could be shared on social media or used by a journalist covering the story.
In other cases, such as if the topic is more serious, simple visualizations can be used to devastating effect. In work for a brand in the addiction and recovery space, we did an extensive analysis of open data hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States is an emotional story fraught with powerful statistics. In creating a piece on the rise in mortality rate, we wanted to make sure we preserved the gravity of the topic and allowed the numbers to speak for themselves:
A key part of this visualization was adding one additional layer of complexity—age brackets—to tell a more contextualized and human story. Rather than simply presenting a single statistic, our team chose to highlight the fact that the increase in overdose deaths is something affecting Americans across the entire lifespan, and the effect of plotting six different lines on a single chart makes the visual point that addiction is getting worse for all Americans.
Every brand’s data has a story to tell
Spotify has more than 200 million global users, nearly half of whom pay a monthly fee to use the service (the other half generate revenue by listening to intermittent ads). As an organization, Spotify has data on how a sizeable portion of the world listens to its music and the actual characteristics of that music.
Data like this is what makes Spotify such a valuable brand from a dollars and cents standpoint, but a team of data journalists at The New York Times also saw an incredible story about how American music taste has changed in the last 30 years buried in Spotify’s data. The resulting piece, Why Songs of Summer Sound the Same, is a landmark work of data-driven, interactive journalism, and one that should set a content marketer’s head spinning with ideas.
Of course, firms will always be protective of their data, whether it’s Netflix famously not releasing its ratings, Apple deciding to stop its reporting of unit sales, or Stanford University halting its reporting of admissions data. Add to the equation a public that is increasingly wary of data privacy and susceptibility to major data breaches, and clients are often justifiably nervous to share data for the purpose of content production.
Deciding when to share
That said, a firm’s data often is central to its story, and when properly anonymized and cleared of personal identifying information, or PII, the newsworthiness of a brand reporting insights from its own internal numbers can be massive.
For example, GoodRx, a platform that reports pricing data from more than 70,000 U.S. pharmacies, released a white paper and blog post that compared its internal data on prescription fills with US Census data on income and poverty. While census data is free, only GoodRx had the particular dataset on pharmacy fills—it’s their own proprietary data set. Data like this is obviously key to their overall valuation, but the way in which it was reported here told a deeply interesting story about income and access to medication without giving away anything that could potentially cost the firm. The report was picked up by the New York Times, undoubtedly boosting GoodRx’s ratings for organic search.
The Times’ pieces on Spotify and GoodRx both highlight the fourth key insight on the effective use of data as content marketers: Every brand’s data has a story to tell. These pieces could only have come from their exact sources because only they had access to the data, making the particular findings singular and unique to that specific brand and presenting a key competitive advantage in the content landscape. While working with internal data comes with its own potential pitfalls and challenges, seeking to collaborate with a client to select meaningful internal data and directing its subsequent use for content and narrative should be at the forefront of a content marketer’s mind.
Blurring lines and breaking boundaries
A fascinating piece recently on Recode sought to slightly reframe the high-publicity challenges facing journalists, stating:
“The plight of journalists might not be that bad if you’re willing to consider a broader view of ‘journalism.’”
The piece detailed that while job postings for journalists are off more than 10 percent since 2004, jobs broadly related to “content” have nearly quadrupled over the same time period. Creatives will always flock to the options that allow them to make what they love, and with organic search largely viewed as a meritocracy of content, the opportunities for brands and content marketers to utilize the data journalism toolkit have never been greater.
What’s more, much of the best data journalism out there typically only uses a handful of visualizations to get its point across. It was also reported recently that the median amount of data sources for pieces created by the New York Times and The Washington Post was two. It too is worth noting that more than 60 percent of data journalism stories in both the Times and Post during a recent time period (January-June, 2017) relied only on government data.
Ultimately, the ease of running large surveys via a platform like Prolific Research, Qualtrics, or Amazon Mechanical Turk, coupled with the ever-increasing number of free and open data sets provided by both the US Government or sites like Kaggle or data.world means that there is no shortage of numbers out there for content marketers to dig into and use to drive storytelling. The trick is in using the right blend of hard data and more ethereal emotional appeal to create a narrative that is truly compelling.
As brands increasingly invest in content as a means to propel organic search and educate the public, content marketers should seriously consider putting these key elements of data journalism into practice. In a world of endless spin and the increasing importance of showing your work, it’s best to remember the famous quote written by longtime Guardian editor C.P. Scott in 1921: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred.”
What do you think? How do you and your team leverage data journalism in your content marketing efforts?
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This may be of some interest.
If you create and share content, curation is part of your B2B marketing strategy. From seasoning a blog post with key third-party statistics to sharing an interesting article from an industry publication or influencer across your social channels, you’re curating.
But content curation has a place beyond adding an insight or two to your content.
With large volumes of information available today and short attention spans, curation allows content marketers to create more convenient, valuable content experiences for their target audience, while growing thought leadership, bolstering their content calendar, and increasing production efficiency.
What types of curation exist? How are B2B brands doing curation? When does it make sense to do curation? Let’s dive in.
Types of Content Curation and B2B Examples
The Curation Kitchen Staples: Microcontent
Statistics. Quotes. Tips. Social media commentary. Third-party videos. Gifs. Memes. Curated microcontent is what gives your content its flavor—whether its used as seasoning in a long-form blog post or modularly in short-form social content. This is foundational curation, and it plays a role in all other types. And as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden once said:
“Snackable content can often be managed and repurposed like ingredients to create a main course. On their own, short-form content like quotes, tips, and statistics are useful for social network shares and as added credibility to blog posts, eBooks, and articles.”
See what I did there? Microcontent is simplistic and easy to integrate, helping you provide more depth and insight on a topic, infuse credibility, and highlight industry experts.
When microcontent curation makes sense: Always—if the content is relevant to the topic you’re discussing. Microcontent helps you provide proof points to bolster your narrative and build credibility with your audience.
The Curation Classics: Roundups, Listicles, and Resource Hubs
Collecting key bits of information and insights and organizing them into an easy to digest format is the quintessential content curation tactic. The premise is simple: You’re gathering interesting tidbits from multiple sources on a specific topic and placing them in one central location.
The underlying theme for this curation tactic (and any content tactic for that matter) is relevance and value. It needs to be topically relevant to your audience and it can’t be a lazy compilation; it needs to serve a purpose.
News roundups are perhaps the most popular of the curation classics. We’ve all seen them and likely have a few we go back to on a regular basis, so I won’t spend too much time here. (Shameless plug to check out our weekly digital marketing news roundup.)
But here’s an example of a roundup style piece from EHS and sustainability consulting firm *Antea Group that brings video content together to have a little fun and spark a connection with the audience.
The post showcases six workplace safety videos—all sourced and easily embedded from YouTube—with movie-critic-like commentary that make connections to the daily life and work of their target audience.
For listicles, one of our recent BIGLIST editions featuring 50 of the top marketing blogs featuring martech brands is a solid example. Time was spent on researching and vetting, and the list provides a short and sweet description of each blog, as well as our favorite recent article to give readers a cue on what’s worth checking out first.
Finally, events can be great opportunities for curation. *Introhive, an enterprise relationship management (ERM) platform, regularly curates social and team member insights to compile post-event infographics with top takeaways.
When classic curation makes sense: Classic curation is largely an awareness and engagement play. If you’re looking to provide your audience with a helpful resource that hits quick on the points, and showcase your brand as a thoughtful expert in the space, this type of curation can make it easy for your audience to find insight and inspiration—and minimize the amount of time they need to spend on the hunt.
The Next Level of Curation: Thought Leadership Mashups
Curation isn’t limited to assembling a robust, scannable list of information or resources, or seasoning original content with stats, quotes, or videos. Curation can fuel thought leadership.
Great examples of this kind of curation are trends-focused pieces. Taking a cue from the classic curation formats, this kind of content aims to identify one or more trend or pattern using curated bits of information, all tied together with your knowledge and expertise.
This could be small-scale or large-scale—meaning a single concept could provide the supporting content or tie-in, or it could be your take on a collection of related trends, facts, or insights. This piece from *SAP’s Digitalist Magazine is a great example.
But this kind of curation doesn’t just lend itself to discussing trends. Many of our own blog posts use a mashup curation method to educate and engage marketers, and define our perspectives and approach to marketing.
This can be seen in a recent post from Nick Nelson on how to write clear, concise content. Using our words intentionally is a core belief, and Nick was able to illustrate that with his deep knowledge and some relevant insights from third parties.
Also, when we say “curation,” we don’t just mean collecting insights from third-party sources. You can curate your own content—it’s just most often called repurposing.
Salesforce has a great example here. This recent post touches on a key trend in the marketplace (lack of consumer trust), leverages microcontent from Salesforce’s own research (the Trends in Consumer Trust research report), and then original content builds a narrative for a specific audience (retailers).
In addition, curating and repurposing influencer content is an especially big opportunity. More than likely, the insights that influencers share with you have implications and applications across other related topics.
When curation mashups make sense: If you want to build thought leadership on a subject, mashups should be in your content lineup. Mashups allow you to elevate an idea, perspective, challenge, or opportunity, while using existing content as a jumping off-point or as part of the foundation of your take.
Content Curation for the Win
Regardless of your editorial plan, you’re already doing some form of content curation. However, you can make curation a more deliberate and effective part of your overall B2B content marketing strategy.
Whether you create an ultimate list featuring statistics from multiple sources, provide high-level takeaways from an event or report, give your own content new life to build thought leadership, content curation can provide value and convenience for your audience and writing team.
Looking for content curation best practices, tools, and more examples? Check out our post on Content Curation 101.
*Disclosure: Antea Group, SAP, and Introhive are TopRank Marketing clients.
The post Content Curation Inspiration: Types, Examples, & Use Cases for B2B Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
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