Content Marketing 101: How to Decide Which Piece of Content to Write First

You’ve learned the inbound marketing principles and are ready to start your content marketing program – now, the hard work begins. It’s time to start writing. But with blogs, premium content, press releases, and more to choose from, where do you start?

Deciding which marketing content to write first can’t be solved with a formulaic approach. Your goals, campaign plans, and personal work style are all factors that contribute to how you get started. Here’s a quick guide to help you figure it out.

First, Your Work Style

There are two kinds of people in the world: People who want to climb the mountain in one shot and celebrate accordingly, and others who see the mountain but focus on smaller summits between the base and the peak. If you’re the “climb the mountain” type, I recommend starting with in-depth content, such as an eBook or white paper. With this approach, you will spend a lot of time working on a big project that you can later repurpose into other content, like blog posts. If you prefer to focus on smaller goals, start with blogs. When you have accumulated a number about related topics, you can compile them into a more extensive piece. That said, there are times when your preference may be a factor you have to put aside in favor of larger goals or needs.

When to Start With Blogs

You need to attract visitors

Blogs are always a good starting point because they have a large impact for relatively little work. Because every blog post is a new page on your website, optimized around a target keyword, they’re excellent for SEO. They provide content to share on social let you communicate with your audience in a straightforward, approachable way. If bringing more traffic to your website is a primary goal, starting with blogs is an excellent choice.

You don’t have a lot of time or want to get started right away

A good length for blog posts is somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words. Because they’re significantly shorter than white papers or eBooks, and because they should focus on one specific topic, you will likely be able to write them much more quickly and easily than their longer counterparts. Writing blogs first is the best strategy when you want to get up and running right away.

You want to get the basics right first

Because blogs are the building blocks of inbound marketing strategies, developing a blog that posts on a regular schedule is almost always the best choice when you first start content marketing. In addition to helping you attract visitors, blog posts are a top source of leads for businesses and organizations in many sectors, so even when you’re facing a “lead problem”, the right blogging strategy is crucial for improving performance. Blogs are a good, low commitment way to learn how to produce inbound marketing content, which can differ from traditional marketing content such as web or advertising copy. Blogging gives you an opportunity to refine your writing skills before jumping into longford content.

When to Start with an E-Book

You have traffic, but you need leads NOW

Sometimes, however, starting with blogs might not be the solution. If your website is already attracting visitors, especially from organic search results, but not converting them into leads, it can be wise to first write an eBook or other premium content offer. Once written, this long content can be broken up and repurposed into blog posts, helping to expedite your blogging strategy and attract more visitors to the piece.

You’re learning a new topic or industry

Writing longford content first is also a good idea when you’re just starting to learn about a new topic or area, because of the amount of research involved. For some writers, it makes a lot more sense to conduct research all at once and produce one in-depth piece than it does to research several small, specific topics. Especially when you’re creating awareness content while you’re learning a new subject matter, this approach makes sense.

When in Doubt, Just Write

For me, the hardest part of writing marketing content is putting down those first few words. If you’re having a problem getting started, take the pressure off yourself. If the introduction isn’t coming naturally to you, skip it and start with the body of the content. If you have an idea but aren’t sure whether it should be a blog or an eBook, just start writing it – as the piece develops, you’ll be able to better determine if you’re creating a good topic for your blog or if you’re going into detail that requires an eBook. Don’t let yourself get so bogged down in what content you’re putting together that you end up producing nothing.

What writing tips help you out when you’re in a content marketing bind?

 

 

This article was written by Juli Durante from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


These 3 Brands Will Inspire Your Real Time Marketing Strategy

88 percent of digital marketers consider real-time, contextual marketing imperative to their overall strategy and success, so says a 2014 study by Evergage. Now that’s telling! Up until now, many brands accepted worthy real time marketing efforts as physical creation of content by company employees, often issuing such marketing via social channels.

Real Time Marketing Used to Mean

In the past, real-time meant responding to live events with a singular, witty Tweet. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo gave the world a taste of its real-time cleverness:

Oreo instantly tickled America with one viral post in 2013.

Oreo instantly tickled America with one viral post in 2013.

Real-time once meant physically responding to customer complaints on Facebook:

Walmart constantly reacts to customer comments, negative and positive, on its social platforms.

Walmart constantly reacts to customer comments, negative and positive, on its social platforms.

Real-time meant issuing seasonally-relevant content:

Lowe's posted this Vine around July 4 to take a playful, seasonal angle using its products.

Lowe’s posted this Vine around July 4 to take a playful, seasonal angle using its products.

It meant enhancing e-commerce by delivering promotional offers – or even developing dedicated microsites that encourage users to post via social, and shop:

Hollister sent me a promo via email to entice me to Tweet using its hashtag, and buy its products.

Hollister sent me a promo via email to entice me to Tweet using its hashtag and buy its products.

These marketing tactics, though clever, are ultimately one-time interactions, serving a valuable purpose for a defined period, but then soon drifting into the abyss of irrelevance. They undoubtedly have their place, and can enhance brand awareness and interaction exponentially.

But the fact remains that they are one message, one Tweet, one video.

Real Time Marketing Now Means…

Delivering repeated, relevant, real-time offers and messages across digital or offline channels requires a more in-depth kind of strategy.

These three brands have embraced futuristic real time marketing and simultaneously enhanced their customers experiences.

Applebee’s Grill & Bar

Applebee’s has completely adopted a modern marketing strategy that embraces what it really means to be real-time.

It markets to its thousands of customers in real-time in new, innovative ways. Through its mobile app, Applebee’s has built-in location services so it can consistently collect customer data based on where each individual customer is, and when. This allows users to also locate the nearest restaurant, navigate to the website, and view store information including hours, address, and menu.

Applebee's mobile app is user friendly, and uses customer data on a continuous loops to provide real-time information.

Applebee’s mobile app is user-friendly and uses customer data on continuous loops to provide real-time information. Photo credit: iTunes Applications store.

applebees

Recently, Applebee’s has also turned to the use of data and automation for customer food ordering and bill payment. Enabled by some 100,000 Ziosk tablets installed at its tables across all restaurant locations, Applebee’s has taken the next step toward futuristic, real-time customer experience. These digital kiosks are quickly gaining popularity at chain restaurants to enable real-time interaction with customers, and provide stellar customer service.

Applebee's is going futuristic with it's awesome use of Ziosk kiosks. Photo credit: Alex Konrad, 2013.

Applebee’s is going futuristic with it’s awesome use of Ziosk kiosks. Photo credit: Alex Konrad, 2013.

Applebee’s recently accrued a lot of national attention with its #TasteTheChange campaign, consisting of a live streaming webinar, free food trials, and live restaurant coverage. That’s just plain good marketing – and couple that with a real-time strategy, here’s one brand doing it right.

Netflix

You login to your Netflix account. You’re first prompted to identify yourself, assuming you’ve enabled two or three other viewers to access the account. You’re automatically sent to a customized dashboard, consisting of dozens and dozens of shows and movies all seemingly hand-picked, just for you. You see where you left off on your favorite sitcom, and suggestions based on previously-viewed or rated entertainment. You enjoy your show, log out to go to sleep, then login the next day, picking up at the exact spot you left off. How? In short, data. Netflix’s real-time engine provides its customers with an unparalleled experience.

Individualization and the ability to provide real-time, contextual offers are Netflix’s lifeblood. Imagine an online entertainment platform which was vacant of any sort of reactive personalization. It’s hard to do – almost like walking into a brick-and-mortar movie store. Netflix actually proves it knows its customers, suggesting next-best content that you’re sure to like.

This sort of real-time decision-making focuses less on outbound marketing and more on customer listening, using an inbound feedback loop. Real-time doesn’t necessarily have to mean the outbound sending of marketing messages – ultimately a great customer experience is the most important virtue a brand can have, and Netflix has it.

Netflix relies on real-time personalization to know you just like a real person. Photo credit: StaticWorld.net.

Netflix relies on real-time personalization to know you just like a real person. Photo credit: StaticWorld.net.

eBay

You can really mention other large-scale online retailers in the same breath – Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, Nike, and others. All offer online purchasing that’s enhanced by a real-time, next-best-offer solution.

eBay is perhaps one of the best. It fully integrates its real time marketing strategy across all customer touch points and all digital platforms. This omni-channel approach coupled with an individualized offer optimizer explains why it’s so easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Users can even pick and choose preferences to enable further individualization.


eBay's real-time marketing strategy helps it connect with customers with just the right offer. Photo credit: BusinessInsider.com.

eBay’s real time marketing strategy helps it connect with customers with just the right offer. Photo credit: BusinessInsider.com.

You look up one item and are presented with similar items in the sidebar. You navigate to another site, return later, and find the exact item or similar offers all ready for you. You make a purchase and are sent an email with offers that complement a previous purchase. Automating and optimizing a best offer, cross-sell opportunity is starting to set online retailers like eBay apart in the marketplace. eBay is marketing in real time, and setting the bar for other online retailers.

 

This article was written by Michael Becker from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


The Perfect Marriage Of Content And Social Media: How To Make It Work For Your Business

content and social media.jpg

While some webmasters may bemoan the impact of Google content marketing drive and supporting algorithms, there is no doubt that this has improved the quality of content on the World Wide Web. After all, it was less than a decade ago that link builders prioritised quality over quantity, achieving a high search engine result for their clients based on volume rather than detail.

The days of investing just £6 and linking to more than 600 connected domains are thankfully over, however, meaning that webmasters and marketers are now required to create insightful, relevant and ultimately engaging content. This should be considered as a chore or a negative development, as along with the development of social media it has created a unique opportunity for businesses to establish themselves and thought and industry leaders in 2015.

Combining Content with Social Media to Good effect

This marriage of form and medium has not only offered brands access to a targeted, global market, but it has also provided them with guidelines for how to effectively engage readers. With this in mind, consider the following steps towards combining content with social media to good effect: –

Develop a Relevant Content Strategy

As logic would suggest, this process starts with the development of a relevant and advanced content strategy. This must be tailored to suit the needs of your industry and readers, so that your written copy serves as an entry point into a relationship with individual consumers. Your strategy must also cover both internal and external content, including copy that is created for diverse platforms such as your blog, individual landing pages and even micro-blogging mediums such as Twitter.

While this should be the goal of your content strategy, however, its implementation relies on a detailed easy to understand tone of voice. Exclusive to your brand, this should create a set of guidelines that can shape and underpin all written content, whether you are writing a 2000 word blog post or an update for your Twitter account. This helps you to deliver a consistent and effective message regardless of the platform, which in turn is crucial if you are to establish yourself as a thought and industry leader.

Prioritise Quality over Quantity when It Comes to Link Building

While your branded tone of voice should also dictate the nature of any external link building, there are also other factors that need consideration when cultivating a natural link profile. The first step is to prioritise quality over quantity when looking to build links, as you strive to identify clean and powerful host domains that are relevant to your niche. So long as use purposeful link building tool such as BuzzStream and Majestic SEO to inform your selection and refine all content to suit the destination website, you can develop a natural and productive profile.

Anchor text is also an important consideration, as the use of heavily optimised text or branded keywords will also prove damaging over time. Where possible, you should create content that includes natural anchor text, which adds value to the article and links back to an informative, relevant source. This negates much of the risk associated with link building in the modern age, and ensures that your external content can be used to its full effect.

Share Your Content Across a Tailored and Integrated Social Media Platform

Once your content strategy has begun to produce informative internal and external content, you will need to share this across your social media network. This is not simply a case of promoting your work across a generic selection of websites, as the range and quality of social media outlets has evolved considerably in the last five years. Even relatively new resources such as Snapchat have grown at a considerable rate since their inception, achieving in excess of 100 million active monthly users and developing a range of business applications.

Not only have these new additions added depth and diversity to the market, but they have also created an opportunity for business-owners to target specific demographics with their content. By understanding the membership demographics associated with niche sites such as Pinterest and LinkedIn, you can create accounts on the social media outlets that are most relevant to your brand. With market leading outlets such as Twitter and Facebook at the head of your integrated profile, you can optimise your reach, increase the effectiveness of your social media marketing campaigns and create measurable results and ROI.

 

This article was written by Laura Cole from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


Social Metrics Then & Now: The Numbers & Nuances that Really Matter

Social as a communication channel has grown and matured. So, too, have opinions from marketers and community managers on which metrics matter the most. The pure numbers game—who has the most followers, fans, likes—has now smartly shifted to encompass a series of quality-driven metrics based on holistic engagement rather than sheer volume.

Because individuals are unique, the intent behind each social conversation should be unique too. Whether to deepen a relationship with a customer, close a deal or simply join in on an interesting conversation, authenticity is key.

As you focus on improvement rates, not just raw numbers, let’s examine three shifts in social metrics that shed insight into how well your brand engages, what your community says about your business and how well you foster relationships. Unilaterally, this approach to social analytics will be more impactful than focusing on rudimentary numbers showcasing one-dimensional growth.

Then: Audience Size
Now: Audience Engagement

Many times when I speak at events or talk with community managers, the first question I am asked is about ways to quickly and exponentially grow the size of their social followings. When I stop them and ask why this seems to be of such value, they are often hard pressed to find an answer. But can you really blame them?

When social was first adopted by marketers, the overriding focus was on quantity: How many fans does your Facebook Page have? How many Twitter followers can we get? The emphasis was not only on quantity but on the pace at which audiences grew. This apparently was the leading indicator of the influence of your brand. Admittedly, those raw numbers are easy to understand and, if going up and to the right, paint a nice picture for an organization and C-suite that may not fully understand social’s impact.

But let’s be real: Whether you have 1,000 or 1 million followers, what good are you doing if you don’t engage in meaningful conversations by treating each of them as individuals?

As social becomes a deeper part of our daily lives, the quality of audience engagement is a stronger indicator of your brand’s impact. Therefore, social teams should focus on measuring and quantifying components such as inbound and outbound conversations, number of touch points within a conversation and frequency of repeat conversations.

Then: Social Likes
Now: Social Shares

OK, I’ll admit, every time a Facebook post of mine gains momentum and racks up Likes, I can’t help but feel a little popular. It’s human nature, after all, to want acceptance, acknowledgement and even accolades from your family, friends and peers.

Brands are no different. Just as the raw number of fans and followers acquired is traditionally a focus, so too is the number of Likes or Favorites on a given page or post. While basic Likes are a good indicator of which posts resonate, truer value lies in shares. Why? Because while a thumbs up is an nice acknowledgement, a share says a person finds enough interest, humor or relevancy—that is, total value—in what you’ve shown to endorse it and pass it on to a broader community of trusted peers. Put another way, a Like starts and ends with your post; a share or Retweet lets your message reverberate.

How often your audience deems your content share-worthy is a good indicator of how well your messages are resonating at the individual level. To that end, measure what content and messages get shared the most, identify patterns among them and replicate your efforts to continuously provide captivating content that not only resonates with your audience (likes), but that they feel will resonate with their own networks (shares).

Then: Network Expansion
Now: Community Depth

Social marketers used to focus on how large they could grow their audience across all the major platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Snapchat and so on—the more people who saw the brand name, the better.

As social evolves, but resources do not necessarily follow, one thing remains clear: It’s not the scope of networks but rather the quality of your communities that matters. Thousands of scattered connections and disjointed experiences across a half dozen networks are not nearly as valuable to your brand as a few carefully curated network presences that focus on value-driving engagement and adding dimension to your brand story.

Networks are valuable for building brand awareness, but weak network presences are nothing in comparison to strong communities. Brand advocates don’t come from your “network”; they come from your community. When you shift your focus to cultivating your community, instead of simply expanding your networks, you establish a stronger base of loyalists who are ready and willing to spread the word about your brand. Identify the networks with your most engaged audiences, build relationships by tailoring your content to those audiences and enlist the help of your social data to identify patterns and trends to improve performance and organically grow.

Make the Most of What Matters

Social was once a space in which quantity prevailed, but it’s crucial that brands don’t stay stuck in that mindset forever. Remember, a strong community that engages with your brand is more valuable than millions of followers who sit dormant. Your brand is not a lifeless force—so the people you attract shouldn’t be either.

 

This article was written by Andrew Caravella from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


4 Ways to Pump Up Your Listicles

Are you suffering from lackluster listicles? Making lists is one of those content marketing vehicles that tends to work from a click-through standpoint: for whatever reason, people are more likely to click on subject lines that contain numbers. That said, not all listicles are created equal.

 4 Tips for More Robust Listicles

1) Treat Your Listicles with Care

There are times to let the listicles fly free, and times to squash them. I’ve seen too many articles that seem to be in list form for the singular purpose of being in list form. While conventions like lists and H2s can service demand gen KPIs (click-through, SEO), we can’t sacrifice the quality of the content for the sole purpose of those numbers. If we’re writing a how-to or a collection of tips, lists make sense. But if our primary motivation for a list is “Well, people like to click on lists,” perhaps we need to regroup. Unless we’re Buzzfeed, listicles should be balanced with longer-form content that explores a topic in depth.

2) Make Your Listicles Stand Out

Once we’ve identified the reason we’re writing a listicle, it’s a good idea to make sure we’re not borrowing someone else’s listicle. Doing a quick search (e.g., Google or LinkedIn) to make sure that someone hasn’t already written this listicle is a good idea. If we find that there’s already a decent amount of content around the topic, thinking of a unique position or hook for our listicle is how we can differentiate ourselves.

3) Tie Your Listicles to a Larger Body

While listicles should be able to stand on their own, they’re more potent when they’re supported. In addition to balancing the long-form editorial, listicles are a way to augment it. Mapping all of our content back to a defined business purpose and marketing storyline is how we can make sure that our communications stay consistent.

4) Test the Strength of Your Listicles

Click-throughs, traffic, and open rates are great metrics to measure the effectiveness of a subject line. But what about the content itself? Engagement is what we marketers are after, and measuring that engagement is how we can understand what’s resonating with our target readers. Metrics like time on page, bounce rate, and social shares are all indicators of the content’s success. (For more on that, check out this post on vanity metrics vs. actionable metrics.)

Have any other tips on better listicles? Hit us up in the comment field.