Tag Archive | "Content"

What Content Creators Can Learn from Professional Artists

Great to see you again! This week was all about art. Some people think of “art” as self-indulgent or impractical, but that’s a dangerous myth. We’re talking about the roll-up-your-sleeves work that adds more artistry to your content — which is what we all need to attract our audiences’ attention in 2018. On Monday, Stefanie
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Quit Annoying Your Audience! Take 3 Simple Steps to Focus Your Content

Ever have a friend who tells stories that never seem to go anywhere? It sounds okay at first, then it spins off to a tangent about how they met their spouse, then we go into their first college dorm room, with a side trip to that deeply formative event that happened in third grade, then
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3 Ways to Create ‘Next Level’ Content

This week, we offered concrete ways to make your content more memorable, more compelling, and more attractive to your audience. The three blog posts and podcast episodes I highlight below each give easy-to-implement advice that can transform your work. On Monday, Loryn Thompson kicked us off with a post about respecting your audience’s intelligence and
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How to Earn More Links and Social Shares: Insights From 759 Content Marketing Campaigns

Posted by kerryjones

Is there a formula for wildly successful content marketing campaigns? It’s a question we ponder a lot at the Fractl office.

We do have our own tried-and-true formula that we continually tweak based on our observations of what does and doesn’t succeed. To help us spot trends that shape this formula, we collect data about every content marketing campaign we create for our clients. But we don’t keep this data to ourselves – sharing our internal data with the marketing community helps others create better content based on what’s worked for us.

We did this a few years ago using a set of 345 campaigns, and now that we have double the number of our campaigns under our belt, we dug into our data again. This time, the sample size was 759 campaigns that launched between 2013 and 2017.

As part of our analysis, we looked at the relationship between campaign performance, measured by the number of placements and social shares a campaign earned, and the campaign’s attributes, including emotionality, the target audience size, and timeliness. “Placement” or “pickup” refers to any time a campaign received media coverage. In link building lingo, a placement may refer to a link that is dofollow, cocitation or nofollow; we also count client mentions without links as placements.

Campaign performance was grouped into three buckets:

  • High success: more than 100 placements and/or 20,000 social shares
  • Moderate success: Between 20–100 placements and/or between 1,000 and 20,000 social shares
  • Low success: Fewer than 20 placements and/or fewer than 1,000 social shares

What sets apart our top performing campaigns

Our campaigns that were either emotionally resonant or surprising were significantly more likely to yield a high volume of media placements and social shares than content that does not include these elements.

The chart below shows the prevalence of three factors across the different campaign performance groups.

As you can see, emotions and an element of surprise were far more common in campaigns that performed extremely well.

  • Seventy percent of high success campaigns had an emotional hook compared to 45% of moderate success and 25% of low success campaigns.
  • Seventy-six percent of high success campaigns were surprising compared to 54% of moderate success and 47% of low success campaigns.

There wasn’t as great of a difference when it came to whether or not campaigns were broadly appealing. We believe on its own this isn’t enough to hit a home run, but it’s telling that this trait was nearly ubiquitous among the top performers:

  • Almost all of our high success campaigns (96%) had broad appeal, compared to 81% of moderate success and 86% of low success campaigns.

Let’s take a closer look at how each of these three factors correlated to campaign performance.

An emotional hook

Campaigns with an emotional hook earned 70% more media pickups and 127% more social shares on average than campaigns that lacked emotional resonance.

Creating an emotional response in viewers is crucial for driving sharing and engagement. This is clearly demonstrated by our campaign data, with emotional resonance being a key factor in our top campaigns and emotional campaigns performing far better on average than non-emotional campaigns.

In our research on viral emotions, we found certain emotional reactions are best for getting content to spread:

  • Keep it positive. Creating a purely positive emotional reaction works best for garnering attention and igniting shares. Why is this? People want to share things that make others feel good.
  • Put the audience on an emotional rollercoaster. Complex emotional responses are also extremely effective for striking the right emotional chord. Consider pairing contrasting emotions, such as hope and despair or admiration and sadness, to pack the greatest emotional punch.
  • Pair negative emotions with surprise. Avoid rousing strictly negative feelings. Surprise is crucial if you’re hitting the audience with a negative emotion, such as fear or anger.

An element of surprise

Surprising campaigns earned 39% more media pickups and 108% more social shares than campaigns that weren’t surprising.

Surprise doesn’t necessarily mean shocking. Novelty, or newness, can also elicit feelings of surprise; incorporating information that isn’t widely known or new data are effective ways to play into this because it triggers a feeling of “I didn’t already know this,” which draws interest and encourages sharing the new information with others.

Furthermore, surprise or novelty can greatly improve your outreach efforts. Since newness is a pillar of newsworthiness, publishers are eager to get their hands on exclusive stories. This is why offering the media something never published before is essential for effective PR outreach.

Broad appeal

As I mentioned previously, broad appeal on its own isn’t going to have a huge impact on campaign success. However, universal appeal still plays a role in getting a campaign in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Campaigns that appealed to a wide audience earned 38% more media pickups and 96% more social shares on average than campaigns created for a niche demographic.

Creating broadly appealing versus niche-focused content is a choice of fishing in a big pond or a little pond. You’ll have a larger volume of outreach targets and greater potential audience reach with a broadly appealing campaign. On the other hand, niche campaigns have limited reach because they’re much harder to get picked up by widely-read general news sites that want stories with mass appeal. Instead, you can only pitch the handful of publishers that cover the niche topic.

For this reason, we often create tangential content, or content about a popular topic related to a client’s vertical, for many of our clients whose goals include a high volume of links and media mentions. This being said, it’s possible to get a ton of media attention and engagement with niche-focused campaigns, which I explore later in this post.

When a combination of emotions, surprise, and broad appeal was present in a campaign, it supercharged the results.

So we know emotions and surprise work well on their own. However, when these factors were paired together with a broadly appealing topic, we saw even greater success.

Campaigns that were both emotional and surprising earned 199 pickups and 23,730 social shares on average. Incorporating all three made the biggest impact on the average results; campaigns that were emotional, surprising, and broadly appealing earned 207 pickups and 25,017 social shares on average.

We know audiences are drawn to emotionally resonant, universally appealing, and surprising content, but these traits play a big role in campaign success before the public even sees the content – they’re crucial for getting your outreach pitch read and acted upon.

Content with these three traits has strong headline potential, which publishers immediately pick up on when they read a pitch. In other words, it’s going to be easy for publishers to write an irresistible headline if they publish your campaign. Without a great headline, it’s much harder to draw clicks and views to a story, which are required initial steps for getting others to link to and share the content.

Can’t picture how a single headline can be emotional, surprising, and have mass appeal? Here are examples of headlines from our campaigns that hit all of these factors:

  • Drinking from a refillable water bottle could be worse than licking a dog toy
  • More American high school students smoke pot than binge drink, report says
  • Here’s which states post the nastiest tweets [From this campaign]
  • Online fast food calculator reveals how long you need to run or swim to be guilt-free (and it’s more than you think)
  • The surprising reason why most men cheat

If you were browsing your social feeds and came across any of those headlines, they’d be hard to resist clicking, right? Here’s a look at the campaign behind that last headline.

Campaign example: The surprising reason why most men cheat

Client vertical: Online pharmacy

The campaign

We went straight to the source to conduct a survey of people who have cheated on a significant other. This was clearly an emotionally charged subject that would intrigue a large segment of the population. Furthermore, the campaign offered a fresh take on a topic commonly discussed to the point of oversaturation by big publishers that cover relationships. By coming at it from from the angle of “from the mouth of a cheater,” which isn’t often covered and definitely not in a data-centered way, the campaign had a strong surprise and novelty factor that went over well with both publishers and audiences.

The results? 175 placements, including features on Fox News, The New York Post, Cosmopolitan, and Men’s Health, and nearly 40,000 social shares.

Pro Tip: When you pitch an idea to a publisher, they picture potential headlines. It shouldn’t be overly complicated to communicate that your idea is emotional, surprising, and broadly appealing. Try the headline test: Consider how all three factors would fit into a headline by writing a few mock headlines that concisely capture the selling points of the campaign. Does it make for the perfect eye-catching headline?

How you can still score big without emotions and surprise

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules. Here’s how you can still earn a lot of media pickups and social shares with content that’s neither emotional nor surprising.

Exception #1: Target one or more niche groups

Our high performing campaigns that appealed to a certain demographic or fan base were less likely to be emotionally resonant or surprising than those that appealed to a wide audience.

Successful niche campaigns were mostly educational and informative rather than purely entertaining, and many of these campaigns were data heavy. It’s no surprise that passionate niche groups are eager to learn more about the topics they care about.

Campaign example: The rise of the freelance worker

Client vertical: HR and payroll services

The campaign

We analyzed 400,000 freelancer resumes to uncover new insights about the freelancing economy. While this topic isn’t universally appealing, it did have overlapping appeal within several niche audiences, such as HR and recruitment, freelance employees, and the general business community, which led to 269 placements including Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Fox News, plus more than 20,000 social shares.

Pro Tip: If your campaign topic appeals to several niche groups, you can increase your chances for media coverage on a variety of niche publishers, thus expanding your potential reach.

Exception #2: Incorporate “geo-bait”

Based on our data, we found that campaigns that were absent of an emotional hook or element of surprise but did have a strong geographic angle still performed quite well.

Since our identities are closely tied to where we come from and where we live, campaigns based on geographical areas (countries, cities, states, regions) play into the audiences’ egos. In Fractl terms, we call this “geo-bait.”

Campaign example: Which states use the most solar power?

Client vertical: Home improvement

The campaign

Using data from the US Department of Energy, we looked at which states were producing the most solar energy and installing the most solar panels. There wasn’t much surprising data here, as environmentally progressive states topped the rankings (hello, California), but incorporating fresh data and featuring a ranking of solar-friendly states helped this campaign earn more than 200 placements. In addition to the geo-bait angle, this topic had strong appeal to the environmental niche, which helped it get picked up by green publishers.

Pro Tip: Geo-bait campaigns are especially appealing when they compare or rank multiple places.

Other key factors that affect campaign performance

Adding three magical elements into your content won’t automatically lead to success. A handful of other variables can make or break your campaign, some of which will be out of your control. So which variables in your control can increase your chances for success?

Exceptional outreach

Even the best content will fail to get any coverage if your outreach game is weak. This means absolutely no mass pitching your campaign to a long list of publishers. Not only do you need to choose the right targets for outreach (a.k.a. publishers that actually publish stories about your campaign topic), you need to choose the right person at that publication (a.k.a. the person who regularly writes about the topic). That way, you’re not alienating writers with irrelevant pitches. You also need to send compelling, personalized outreach pitches to each target (don’t worry, we have a checklist for that). By sending solid pitches, they’re more likely to open your emails in the future.

Credibility

You’ll quickly lose trust with publishers (and audiences) if your campaign includes questionable data and inaccuracies. Make credibility a top priority for your work and you’ll have an easier time becoming a trustworthy content creator and maintaining your trustworthiness in the long term.

First, you need to only use authoritative sources and data in your campaign.

What’s a good source?

  • Government websites and databases
  • Higher education sites
  • Peer-reviewed journals
  • Notable publishers with stringent editorial standards

What’s not a good source?

  • Websites lacking editorial oversight (in other words, contributors can automatically publish content without an editor’s review)
  • Branded websites
  • User-generated content
  • Studies backed by corporate

Second, your campaign won’t be trusted if it’s riddled with errors. Our editorial team ensures campaigns don’t get released into the wild with glaring grammatical and factual mistakes. Include editorial guidelines and a quality assurance check within your production process to keep campaigns error-free.

One final word of advice: evaluate whether a campaign concept will be emotionally resonant, surprising, and broadly appealing before you move it into production. Our ideation guide sheds light on how we do this by scoring our ideas based on a 5-point grading rubric.

What trends have you noticed about your most successful content marketing campaigns? I’d love to hear how your observations confirm or differ from what I’ve shared.

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How to Prove the Value of Content Marketing to Your CMO in 3 Easy Steps

Content Marketing Value

“ROI” can be a blurry idea in the world of content marketing. With often hard-to-measure costs and returns, content marketing ROI or value isn’t always crystal clear. Dealing in metrics like pageviews, time-on-page, organic impressions, and others aren’t always directly translatable into business revenue, which — let’s face it — is what your bosses really care about.

Even though only 8% of content marketers consider themselves successful in tracking content marketing ROI, we all know that content marketing is incredibly valuable. As our CEO Lee Odden has said for a long time:

“Content is the reason search engines exist and it’s the cornerstone of what people share on the social web. A quantity of quality content that answers readers’ questions in a useful and entertaining way serves everything from demand generation to lead generation.”

But how can you prove it with evidence that your chief marketing officer (CMO) or content director actually cares about?

Content is the foundation of everything we do here at TopRank Marketing. And our clients deserve and expect us to be able to connect our content marketing services to tangible business benefits. In just three easy steps, we can help you make that same connection and prove the value of your content marketing up the ladder.

Step 1: Identify Your Content Marketing Goals

As a marketer, you’re no doubt aware that you need to set a measurable goal before launching campaigns, but just because you know you should, doesn’t mean it always happens. Without setting a measurable goal, one could argue that your content marketing didn’t accomplish anything of real business value.

To set your goals, take a look at the current state of things to understand opportunities and what’s working well. Is there a dip in organic traffic that you hope to recover? Do you aim to increase conversions and marketing qualified leads (MQLs)? If you’re not sure where to start, review your current website performance in Google Analytics or in Google Search Console to identify potential KPIs.

As an example, if you notice in Google Search Console that your top performing organic search pages have a low click through rate (CTR), your goal may be to increase your CTR by 1% in 30 days. Keep in mind that when looking at goals and KPIs, it’s important not to lock yourself into just one metric. As our own digital marketing analyst, Allysia Kveberg, points out that:

“Sometimes marketing campaigns work a little differently than you expect, and that isn’t necessarily a negative thing.”

So, even if you’re driving results that aren’t directly tied to your goals, there might be a different marketing success lying in a related KPI that can help you sell value up the food chain.

Once you have your goals and KPIs locked down, you can now measure your content’s performance against them in real-time.


Without setting a measurable goal, one could argue that your #contentmarketing didn’t accomplish anything of real business value.
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Step 2: Measure Content Performance More Effectively

You know you need to measure content performance so you can see how you’re progressing towards your objectives. But how can you do it more effectively and efficiently? Depending on your goals, there are usually three areas of focus you’ll want to measure: awareness, engagement, and conversions. Or in other words, the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.

Brand Awareness

For measuring your brand awareness, you’ll need to track social shares, impressions, mentions, and overall website traffic from first-time visitors. For our own campaigns, we like using tools like BuzzSumo to see the traction our content is getting on social media.

Another component to awareness, is search visibility. To see if you’re gaining more organic impressions, rankings, or clicks, log into Google Search Console. It’ll take some digging to see the new keywords you may be ranking for and to identify new positions, but it’s worth the extra work to see how your content is impacting your organic traffic.

Audience Engagement

If you’re looking to develop your connection with your audience, improve trust and retention, or promote your thought leadership, you’ll want to track your audience’s engagement with your content. Engagement metrics to measure are time on page, blog pageviews, bounce rates, pages visited per session, or number of return visitors.

Often referred to as “vanity metrics,” this data can still provide you with valuable insight when looking at the numbers in the context of content. For example, an average session duration of 10 minutes overall is nice to have, but it doesn’t tell you anything about why people stayed so long. By looking at the average session duration for individual webpages, however, you can start to identify common characteristics that people stick around for.

You can drill down on these metrics for each webpage in your Google Analytics account in the “Site Content” section of the “Behavior” menu, as pictured below.

Snapshot of TopRank Marketing Google Analytics

Conversions

Conversions are all about content marketing results that have the power to drive revenue. This means form fills, conversions, MQLs, or a growing subscription base. To track most of these items, you’ll want to have your website set up with conversion or event tracking. We like using Google Tag Manager to identify and track these events as they happen. Then, to really see how our content impacts conversions, we’ll also see how many form fills or conversions happened after interacting with a piece of content.

After you’ve identified your metrics and how to track them, take a look at the data as is to set your benchmarks for each metric. Going forward on a monthly basis, make sure to document or export the data you’re seeing to see if you’re meeting or exceeding the benchmarks you’ve set. This makes it easier to see trends and wins now and later when you’re putting together your report.

When tracking these items, you’ll also want to record which pieces of content are your high performers at each stage of the funnel or customer journey. This will give you the information you need to determine the types of content that move people from top to bottom.

Step 3: Educate Your CMO

Your CMO is probably more concerned about things of business value like sales, savings, or retention over blog sessions or time on page. As Joe Pulizzi, CEO of Content Marketing Institute, shared with us:

“Skip analytics reports for your CMO.”

But to translate your performance into real business value, takes some work.

Perhaps the best place to start is in conversions. How many MQLs and form fills has your content marketing generated? Are you filling the sales pipeline with qualified prospects? Once you have that number, you can use your sales team’s closure rate and average deal size to determine the potential revenue for each lead you generated. This gives your bosses a dollar amount they can easily understand and appreciate.

The value of brand awareness and audience engagement is a little harder to determine as they don’t “directly” influence purchasing decisions. But if you have been tracking your customer journey and marketing funnel, you can show your CMO how that funnel is filling up and how content helps attract and move people from stage to stage.

Below is an illustration of some of the metrics that you should consider highlighting at each stage and in the most business-tangible way possible.

Attract, Engage, Convert Model

In addition, you can compare your social shares, likes, and mentions to that of your competitors. If you come out on top, this proves that your content marketing gives you greater visibility over your competition.

Bullet-Proof Evidence

To present your CMO with hard evidence that speaks for itself, you need to:

  • Set relevant, measurable goals and KPIs
  • Track your progress throughout the funnel
  • Translate your findings into the results your CMO cares about

If you follow the steps above, you’ll have no problem proving that content marketing is a valuable, revenue-driving tactic. For more ways to impress your CMO with real business results, use these content marketing measurement and ROI tips from brand marketing experts at Kraft and 3M.


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Should SEOs & Content Marketers Play to the Social Networks’ "Stay-On-Our-Site" Algorithms? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Increasingly, social networks are tweaking their algorithms to favor content that remains on their site, rather than send users to an outside source. This spells trouble for those trying to drive traffic and visitors to external pages, but what’s an SEO or content marketer to do? Do you swim with the current, putting all your efforts toward placating the social network algos, or do you go against it and continue to promote your own content? This edition of Whiteboard Friday goes into detail on the pros and cons of each approach, then gives Rand’s recommendations on how to balance your efforts going forward.

Should SEOs and content marketers play to the social networks "stay-on-our-site" algorithms?

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about whether SEOs and content marketers, for that matter, should play to what the social networks are developing in their visibility and engagement algorithms, or whether we should say, “No. You know what? Forget about what you guys are doing. We’re going to try and do things on social networks that benefit us.” I’ll show you what I’m talking about.

Facebook

If you’re using Facebook and you’re posting content to it, Facebook generally tends to frown upon and lower the average visibility and ability of content to reach its audience on Facebook if it includes an external link. So, on average, posts that include an external link will fare more poorly in Facebooks’ news feed algorithm than on-site content, exclusively content that lives on Facebook.

For example, if you see this video promoted on Facebook.com/Moz or Facebook.com/RandFishkin, it will do more poorly than if Moz and I had promoted a Facebook native video of Whiteboard Friday. But we don’t want that. We want people to come visit our site and subscribe to Whiteboard Friday here and not stay on Facebook where we only reach 1 out of every 50 or 100 people who might subscribe to our page.

So it’s clearly in our interest to do this, but Facebook wants to keep you on Facebook’s website, because then they can do the most advertising and targeting to you and get the most time on site from you. That’s their business, right?

Twitter

The same thing is true of Twitter. So it tends to be the case that links off Twitter fare more poorly. Now, I am not 100% sure in Twitter’s case whether this is algorithmic or user-driven. I suspect it’s a little of both, that Twitter will promote or make most visible to you when you log in to Twitter the posts that have been made or the tweets that have been made that are self-contained. They live entirely on Twitter. They might contain a bunch of different stuff, a poll or images or be a thread. But links off Twitter will be dampened.

Instagram

The same thing is true on Instagram. Well, on Instagram, they’re kind of the worst. They don’t allow links at all. The only thing you can do is a link in profile. More engaging content on Instagram, as of just a couple weeks ago, more engaging content equals higher placement in the feed. In fact, Instagram has now just come out and said that they will show you content posts from people you’re not following but that they think will be engaging to you, which gives influential Instagram accounts that get lots of engagement an additional benefit, but kind of hurts everyone else that you’re normally following on the network.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s algorithm includes extra visibility in the feed for self-contained post content, which is why you see a lot of these posts of, “Oh, here’s all the crazy amounts of work I did and what my experience was like building this or doing that.” If it’s a self-contained, sort of blog post-style content in LinkedIn that does not link out, it will do much better than posts that contain an external link, which LinkedIn sort of dampens in their visibility algorithm for their feed.

Play to the algos?

So all of these sites have these components of their algorithm that basically reward you if you are willing to play to their algos, meaning you keep all of the content on their sites and platform, their stuff, not yours. You essentially play to what they’re trying to achieve, which is more time on site for them, more engagement for them, less people going away to other places. You refuse or you don’t link out, so no external linking to other places. You maintain sort of what I call a high signal to noise ratio, so that rather than sharing all the things you might want to share, you only share posts that you can count on having relatively high engagement.

That track record is something that sticks with you on most of these networks. Facebook, for example, if I have posts that do well, many in a row, I will get more visibility for my next one. If my last couple of posts have performed poorly on Facebook, my next one will be dampened. You sort of get a string or get on a roll with these networks. Same thing is true on Twitter, by the way.

$ #@! the algos, serve your own site?

Or you say, “Forget you” to the algorithms and serve your own site instead, which means you use the networks to tease content, like, “Here’s this exciting, interesting thing. If you want the whole story or you want to watch full video or see all the graphs and charts or whatever it is, you need to come to our website where we host the full content.” You link externally so that you’re driving traffic back to the properties that you own and control, and you have to be willing to promote some potentially promotional content, in order to earn value from these social networks, even if that means slightly lower engagement or less of that get-on-a-roll reputation.

My recommendation

The recommendation that I have for SEOs and content marketers is I think we need to balance this. But if I had to, I would tilt it in favor of your site. Social networks, I know it doesn’t seem this way, but social networks come and go in popularity, and they change the way that they work. So investing very heavily in Facebook six or seven years ago might have made a ton of sense for a business. Today, a lot of those investments have been shown to have very little impact, because instead of reaching 20 or 30 out of 100 of your followers, you’re reaching 1 or 2. So you’ve lost an order of magnitude of reach on there. The same thing has been true generally on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Instagram. So I really urge you to tilt slightly to your own site.

Owned channels are your website, your email, where you have the email addresses of the people there. I would rather have an email or a loyal visitor or an RSS subscriber than I would 100 times as many Twitter followers, because the engagement you can get and the value that you can get as a business or as an organization is just much higher.

Just don’t ignore how these algorithms work. If you can, I would urge you to sometimes get on those rolls so that you can grow your awareness and reach by playing to these algorithms.

So, essentially, while I’m urging you to tilt slightly this way, I’m also suggesting that occasionally you should use what you know about how these algorithms work in order to grow and accelerate your growth of followers and reach on these networks so that you can then get more benefit of driving those people back to your site. You’ve got to play both sides, I think, today in order to have success with the social networks’ current reach and visibility algorithms.

All right, everyone, look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Build a Trusted Framework that Expands Your Content Creativity

Psst … hey, Copyblogger is taking the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. At least, officially. I’m not supposed to be here at all. But, given that my schedule is always out of whack this time of year, I like to take advantage of the disruptions to think about what I want to make
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Top 10 Content Marketing Posts of 2017

top content marketing posts
Content makes the Marketing world go ‘round, especially with our work here at TopRank Marketing. While content has been a steady drumbeat in the marketing mix over the past 7-8 years, marketers are still hungry for best practices, examples and the latest trends.

Lucky for our readers, we have excellent content marketers contributing to our blog including Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Caitlin Burgess and one of our new content team members this year who has made quite a splash: Anne Leuman.

As a body of work, this collection of our top 10 content marketing posts represents an incredibly useful resource, full of practical examples and relevant topics for CMOs to copywriters. As you put finishing touches on your 2018 content marketing planning, I hope these posts prove useful.

I’m going to take the most popular content marketing post with 5,500+ social shares (50 Influential Women in Content Marketing 2017) out of the list below because it’s not an article per se. You may still find it useful though, as it recognizes 50 talented professionals in the content marketing world ranging from Ann Handley to Amanda Todorovich to Amisha Gandhi and many more.

Now, on to the top 10! These are ordered by a combination of search visibility and social engagement:

Data Informed Content Marketing
What CMOs Need to Know About Data Informed Content Marketing – Lee Odden
39% of marketers are increasing spending on content marketing but only 41% are clear on what an effective content marketing program looks like. The missing link is data and this post highlights 3 sources of data marketers can use to better inform their content and 3 areas of focus for creating better content experiences. Expertise is also shared from experts including Tami Cannizzaro from CA Technologies and Josh Mueller from Dun & Bradstreet.


How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing – Anne Leuman
Anne hit it out of the park with her first post ranking in the top 10 content marketing posts of the year! As marketers, we learn from examples and in this post, Anne outlines 7 blog and content marketing success stories ranging from Blue Apron to Glossier.


[Infographic] The In-Flight Guide to Content Marketing
– Ashley Zeckman
It wouldn’t be a great list of content marketing posts if it didn’t include an example of how we co-created content with content marketing experts to promote the Content Marketing World conference to other content marketers! With a “fly the friendly skies” metaphor, this infographic and advice from top experts highlights how marketers can plan their content marketing programs more effectively. Experts featured include: Tim Washer, Michael Brenner, Zerlina Jackson, Adele Revella, Ardath Albee and many more.


11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business
– Josh Nite
Josh brings his special writing magic to the topic of content marketing more consistently than any writer I know. In this post Josh builds upon another post on content marketing strategy (also included in this list) to highlight 11 practical steps B2B marketers can take to make content more valuable to customers and in turn, driving business goal achievement.


Content Conversations: Top Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 2017
– Ashley Zeckman
During the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Ashley and our team shot video interviews with an impressive cast of content marketing influencers including conference organizer Ann Handley and famous content marketing pros like Joe Pulizzi and Chris Brogan. The post also includes highly quotable tips from brand marketers at GE Digital, LinkedIn, and Cisco as well.


How 6 B2B Brands Climbed to New Heights with Content Marketing
– Anne Leuman
At TopRank Marketing, we are very much focused on B2B marketing and in this post, Anne shines a light on 6 examples of B2B brands ranging from IBM to Slack plus takeaways for each to help marketers learn from the success of others in our industry.


The 5 W’s (and an H) That Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy
– Josh Nite
This post should be a pre-requisite for anyone making decisions about how their company will invest in, plan, create and promote content to affect business goals. Josh outlines the essentials of who, what, why, when, where and how of content marketing that is sure to guide you in the right direction.


Feeling Stuck? 5 Tips to Restart your Content-Creating Brain
– Josh Nite
Every writer and content marketer that is responsible for creating high quality content on a consistent basis runs into this situation: being stuck. With great empathy for his fellow content creators, Josh outlines 5 practical tips that content marketers can use to put your brain back on the track to creative content success.


Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing
– Ashley Zeckman
At TopRank Marketing, we walk the talk with our own marketing, especially when it comes to content collaboration with industry experts. Evidence of that fact is that many of the posts in this top 10 list include contributions from influencers. In this post, Ashley shares some of the secret sauce of how companies of any size or type can approach their content marketing collaboration efforts more effectively.


5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead)
– Josh Nite
Up to his neck in content creation on a daily basis, Josh has deep experience to draw from when it comes to sharing advice with other content marketers. In this post Josh highlights what he feels are tired tactics and their fresh replacements.

There you go – 10 of our top content marketing posts for 2017. A HUGE THANK YOU to Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Anne Lueman, Caitlin Burgess, Nick Nelson, Tiffani Allen, Alexis Hall and Elizabeth Williams for contributing posts on content marketing topics!

We published well over 100 posts specifically about content marketing this year and we’re working to improve the effectiveness of those efforts. To that end, we’re making a number of editorial changes to our blog in 2018 and one of them is a refinement of our topical focus to make sure we are delivering what our community is most interested in.

What content marketing and content focused topics would you like us to focus on for 2018? Data? AI? Technology? Video and Interactive? Basics or advanced tactics? Case studies? We’re all ears and welcome your feedback.

Of course, with the success of our content marketing efforts for brands like LinkedIn, SAP, Dell and many more B2B industry giants, we are continuing to grow our content marketing dream team. If you’re an experienced B2B content marketing manager that wants to start 2018 with a great team of smart content marketers, you’ll want to check this out.


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3 Creative Ways to Give Your Content Efforts a Boost – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We know that content is our doorway to earning countless SEO benefits for our sites. Admittedly, though, it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut after one too many content marketing campaigns. In this extra-special holiday edition of Whitebeard Friday (see what we did there?), Rand offers three novel ways to add sparkle to your content creation efforts

3 way to give your content efforts a boost

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special Christmas edition of Whitebeard Friday. This week, I wanted to try and help with just a few tactical suggestions on some creative ways to pump up those content marketing campaigns.

I’ve seen that many, many folks in the SEO world, of course, naturally, are investing in content marketing because content is the path to links and amplification and search traffic. Sometimes those content campaigns can feel a little stale or repetitive. So I have some creative ideas, things that I’ve seen some people executing on that I think we might be able to leverage for some of our work.

1. Niche groups

First one, if you can identify in your community these sort of small but vocal niche groups that are . . . when I say your community, it doesn’t have to be people you already reach. It can be people inside the community of content generation and of topical interest around your subject matter. Then help them to amplify their voices or their causes or their pet projects, etc.

So I’ll use the example of being in the foodie and gourmand world. So here’s a bunch of foodies. But this particular tiny group is extremely passionate about food trucks, and, in particular, they really hate the laws that restrict food truck growth, that a lot of cities don’t allow food trucks to be in certain spaces. They have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed. They are not permitted to be permanently in a place for a whole week. Whatever it is, whatever those legal restrictions are. So by serving this small group, you might think that content is way too niche.

The wonderful part is that content is the kind that gets amplified very loudly, very repetitively, that can help you earn links and traffic to this small community. If that community is small and loud and feels like their voices aren’t being heard elsewhere, you can build some great brand advocacy inside that group as well. By the way, I would urge you to be authentic, choose causes that you or your company also care about. Don’t just pick something at random.

2. Products and services

Second, if you can, try and seek out products and services that your audience uses or needs, but that doesn’t actually directly conflict with your business. Then create a resource that lists or rates or ranks and recommends those top choices. We’ve actually done this a few times at Moz. I have this recommended list of agency and consultant providers, but Moz does not compete with any of those. But it’s a helpful list. As a result of listing those folks and having this sort of process around it, many of those people are pumping up that content.

Now here’s another example. Foodie Moz, Foodie Moz sounds like a great domain. I should go register that right after this hat stops hitting me in the back of the head. I don’t know how Santa deals with that. So Foodie Moz presents the best cookbooks of 2017. Now, Foodie Moz might be in the food and recipe world. But it turns out, the wonderful part is cookbooks are something that is used by their audience but not directly conflicting with them.

Since it’s not self-promotional, but it is useful to your audience, the likelihood that you can earn links and amplification because you seem like a non-self-interested party is much greater. You’re providing value without asking anything in return. It’s not like anyone buying these cookbooks would help you. It’s not like you have some ulterior motive in ranking this one number one or that one number two. You’re merely putting together an unbiased set of resources that help your audience. That is a great way to get a piece of content to do well.

3. Content creators

Third, last but not least here, if you can, find content creators who have been very successful. You can recruit them, the people who have had hit pieces, to create content for your brand. In a lot of ways, this is like cheating. It’s almost like buying links, except instead of buying the links, you’re buying the time and energy of the person who creates content that you have high likelihood or high propensity for being successful in that content niche with what they create because of their past track record and the audience they’ve already built.

Pro-tip here. Journalists and media contributors, even contributors to online media, like a BuzzFeed or something like that, are great targets. Why? Well, because they’re usually poorly paid and they are desperate to build a portfolio of professional work. Some of these folks are insanely talented, and they already have networks of people who have liked their work in the past and have helped amplify them.

So if you can use a tool like BuzzSumo — that would be generally what I’d recommend, there’s a few others, but BuzzSumo is really great for this — you can search for, for example, recipes and see the most shared content in the recipe world in, say, the last three months. Then we can identify, “Oh, here we go. This person wrote the hardest recipe challenge gifts. Oh, all right. That did really, really well. I wonder if we can see who that is. Oh look, she does freelance work. I bet she can write for us.”

It’s like cheating. It’s a great hack. It’s a great to way to recruit someone who you know is likely to have a great shot at their work doing well, give them the freedom to write what they want, to create what they want, and then host it on your site. A great way to do content creation, for a decent price, that has a high likelihood of solid amplification.

All right, everyone, look forward to some of your thoughts and tactics. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas from all of us at Moz. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, happy belated Hanukkah. I know that I’m filming this during Hanukkah, but it’s probably after Hanukkah that you’re seeing it. For those of you who are celebrating any other holiday this year, a very happy holiday season to you. We look forward to joining you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Best of 2017: MarketingSherpa’s most popular content about email, customer-first marketing, and competitive analysis

To give you that little extra oomph before we cross the line into 2018, here’s a look at some of our readers’ favorite content from the MarketingSherpa Blog this past year.
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