What Is and What Ought to Be True [The Weekly Wrap]

Listen to the Weekly Wrap here or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. If you enjoy the show, please take a moment to rate it or post a review.

And that’s a wrap of the week ending Feb. 21, 2020

This week I’m exploring the difference between what is true and what ought to be true. I share a news article about the problem with advertising and data. I talk with the authors of a new book about the internal workings of content marketing. And I recommend an article that gives you three strategies for connecting with your audience (hint: start with mutual truths).

Listen to the Weekly Wrap

The theme this week is a question: Can you handle the truth?

Let’s wrap it up.

One deep thought: The magic of what ought to be (3:15)

“I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes magic! I try to give that to people. I misinterpret things to them. I don’t tell the truth. I tell what ought to be truth.” Blanche DuBois’ avoidance of reality didn’t end well for her in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

But in so many ways, Blanche’s magic is what we marketers often communicate to customers. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. We don’t lie but, in varying degrees, present a version of what ought to be true rather than what the unvarnished truth is. I explore the difference – and how to apply it to your brand stories.

Marketers don’t lie. They present a version of what ought to be true, says @Robert_Rose via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

A fresh take on a less-is-more content strategy (11:05)

An item in Axios Media Trends caught my eye this week for its relevance to the theme of this episode. Marketers Own Up to Data, Journalism Crises recaps a talk from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) annual leadership meeting in which publishing executives “confessed that new privacy regulation and industry changes are forcing them to finally be on their best behavior after years of reckless spending .”

New privacy regs are forcing publishers to be on their best behavior, according to @Axios Media Trends via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Here’s one confession from that event – from Eargo CMO Shiv Singh: “I’ve literally steered hundreds of millions of dollars to these platforms. And at no point in that journey … did I ask about their data policies or did I ask about what is their relationship with media or politics or consumer privacy or any of that. So, my first response is that we all have a stake in this and I think at some level, we all have screwed up.”

This is the part of the movie when I’m sitting in the corner keeping my voice quiet then sheepishly getting up and saying, “Hi guys, I might have an idea …” (Listen to hear my take on a content marketing version of the speech from the end of When Harry Met Sally.)

You can read this article from TechCrunch that explains what the IAB thinks of cookies and what it’s doing to make sure tracking stays around.

There are positive days ahead for content marketers using audience data to serve up better experiences, it’s just changing.

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This week’s persons making a difference in content: Toby Murdock and Zoe Randolph (16:09)

My guests this week are Kapost founder Toby Murdock, general manager of the Kapost platform at Upland Software; and Zoe Randolph, content architect at Kapost. They are the authors of the new book, Mastering One Voice: A Marketing Fable and Field Guide to Content Operations.

Toby’s got extensive experience helping companies of all sizes turn business ideas into marketing content and a strategy that resonates with customers throughout the buyer journey. He served as Kapost CEO from its founding through the 2019 acquisition by Upland Software.

Zoe oversees messaging, hosts webinars, and authors long- and short-form content as a content architect at Kapost.

We talked about the stories in (and behind) their book and much more.

Here’s a snippet from our chat with Zoe:

“One of the biggest mistakes we can make if we’re in the game of content is to think that everything begins and ends with the content team … One of the biggest first steps to take to get to scale is to help stakeholders see that ultimately content – and through content customer experience ­– is really everybody’s problem.”

Big mistake? Thinking everything begins and ends with the #content team, according to @Kapost’s Zoe Randolph via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Listen in to our conversation about content operations and navigating business silos, then get more of the story:

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One content marketing idea you can use (29:30)

This week I highly recommend an article that speaks to the theme: 3 Strategies to Connect With Your Audience (Hint: Start With Mutual Truths). In it, Dennis Shiao recaps a great Content Marketing World session by Liz High, vice president of customer experience at Metia Group, that explains how to find the brand’s truth, the customer’s truth, and the truth.

3 sides in #contentmarketing – the brand’s, the customer’s, and the truth via Liz High @metia. @cmicontent #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Love for our sponsor: Kapost

So let me tell you a story … Once upon a time, customers wanted content. So, marketing produced it.

As new ways to reach customers emerged, marketers kept creating more and more content. They also started growing their teams and adding technology to help drive engagement.

But in all the excitement, we forgot why we started making content in the first place: for our customers. We knew the messages we worked so hard to build were getting lost in the chaos, but we didn’t know another way.

Finally our customer said, “Enough! You’re confusing me!”

With that, Kapost was born. Kapost unites revenue teams to speak in one voice across the entire customer journey.

Learn more at http://cmi.media/contentoperations.

The wrap-up

Tune in next week when I’ll pull more wisdom that’s long in the, ahem, truth. I’ll dare you to explore one news item that I’ve fought truth and nail to bring to you. And we’ll pop up a content marketing tip that includes at least one kernel of truth. And it’ll all be delivered in a little less time than it takes to recline your airplane seat.

If you have ideas for what you’d like to hear more of on our weekly play on words, let us know in the comments. And if you love the show, we’d sure love for you to review it or share it. Hashtag us up on Twitter: #WeeklyWrap.

To listen to past Weekly Wrap shows, go to the main Weekly Wrap page

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Offer a Content Upgrade and See Conversion Rates Rise

Even when you pour hours into long-form content, getting visitors to convert is still an enormous challenge.

A content upgrade can be a game changer in overcoming that conversion challenge.

A #content upgrade can be a game changer in conversions, says @CCollinsDC via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Content upgrades (also known as bonus content) can deliver incredible results. Backlinko’s Brian Dean used a content upgrade to raise his conversion rate from 0.54% to 4.82% (a 785% increase) in one day.

In this article, I share tips and examples to creating a high-converting content upgrade. It is a lot easier than you might think.

Psychology of the content upgrade

The idea behind the content upgrade is simple. Offering a bonus resource adds value to the content your visitors consumed in exchange for subscribing to your email list. As a content consumer, you’ve probably taken advantage of lots of content upgrade offers, like this one from CoSchedule:

Content upgrades offer a resource to your readers when they are most likely to need it. They also convert well because they follow the reciprocity principle – people inactively desire to repay others who have done something good for them.

And if you want to promote a product or service later, many of your readers will be interested to hear about it because you’ve already given them something valuable.

Now, let’s go through the things to keep in mind while developing a content upgrade.

Make it high impact

Select content upgrades that will make the most impact by focusing on your high-traffic pages as identified in your analytics. Pick up to five pages that would benefit from a content upgrade offer.

Effective content upgrades work because they’re tailored to readers who want to take the next step after they’ve consumed your article or other piece of content. They’re not a ubiquitous offer like that e-book or checklist promoted on every page of your site.

#Content upgrades work when tailored to the page’s readers, not a ubiquitous offer, says @CCollinsDC via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

For example, Ryan Robinson published an article with a step-by-step guide to building a content marketing strategy. At the end of the piece, he offers a content upgrade especially relevant to the article topic – a content marketing calendar template.

Read through each of your five potential content upgrade pages as your audience would. Then ask what content, if any, you would want next. Pick the one page that offers the most potential and create that content upgrade.

Let’s look at a few more examples of upgrades that crushed it to inspire your content upgrade options. 

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Checklist

After Eric Siu wrote a popular post for Growth Everywhere on how to get up early, he collaborated with Devesh Khanal to create a simple content upgrade to attract more subscribers. When their checklist of steps for rising early went live, it increased the opt-in rate for the post by 492%, as reported by The Daily Egg.

Outreach list

When Val Geisler wrote the article 7 Don’ts of Facebook Groups, she included a downloadable list of the best Facebook groups for creatives. By giving her readers a shortcut to the most useful Facebook communities, she reports boosting her conversions by 600%.

.@lovevalgeisler boosted conversions by 600% by offering a #content upgrade, says @CCollinsDC via @cmicontent. Read more > Click To Tweet

Two-part story

Kim Roach details in this video an experiment she conducted at BuzzBlogger. She first wrote an ungated post about the top 10 Fiverr gigs of the year. At the bottom, she touts a second post – the content upgrade – that shares the top 20 gigs of the year. According to Kim, about 15% of those who read the first post converted so they could read the second one.

Blueprint

When Jacob McMillen published his epic guide to becoming a copywriter, he paired it with a content upgrade – a freelance writer’s career blueprint and a promise for even more relevant content. He reports that it converted at 7.7%.

Megalist

Chris Von Wilpert’s article on 10 hacks for content marketers is great on its own. But it’s just a teaser for his real attraction – a massive list of 100 content marketing hacks under $100. (Note: Unlike the other examples, Chris promotes his content upgrade before the article begins.)

Cheat sheet

Condensing everything your readers need to know into one page can make for a great, high-value upgrade. Bill Widmer offers a white hat SEO cheat sheet as a targeted upgrade with his SEO case study:

Condensing everything your readers need to know into one page makes a high-value #content upgrade, says @CCollinsDC via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Resource page

Giving all the resources your readers need to act is another terrific way to make your advice actionable. When Brian Dean wrote a guest article for Buffer on the strategies he used to increase conversions by 134% at Backlinko, he promoted three content bonuses at the end. It linked to a landing page with additional strategies, checklists, and tutorials:

TIP: Personalize your content upgrade landing page. In this example, Brian customized the sign-up page for Buffer readers who saw his original content – and the bonus offer.

Template

Barry Feldman enhanced his explainer on lead magnets with a pack of ready-to-go lead magnet templates:

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Streamline by topic

You’ll get the best results from content upgrades tailored to each piece of content. If that seems unrealistic given your team’s workload, you can streamline the content upgrades – focus on each topic rather than each piece of content. Single Grain executes the topic-specific approach brilliantly. It offers the same content upgrade across most of its podcasting-related content – a how-to guide on building a podcast – in an inline call to action:

Keep it simple

If a new content upgrade is too daunting even in topic form, you can still do this simple hack – create a downloadable PDF of each piece of content.

Former Rejoiner growth manager Thomas Krawiec told The Daily Egg he got great results with this strategy:

“Rather than making new offers for every specific post or trying to mix and match old offers with new posts, we simply turn our high-quality posts into a PDF and offer that as a content upgrade.”

We turn our high-quality posts into a PDF and offer that as a #content upgrade, says @tkrawiec via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

To kick it up a notch, consider transforming long-form articles into downloadable e-books. Packaging your content as an e-book elevates the value of your bonus content in the eyes of your readers, making them more willing to hand over their contact details.

Easily digestible article summaries are another simple, low-effort option. Offer a 500-word summary of a 5,000-word masterpiece and you’ll likely get email sign-ups for people who prefer a shorter option.

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Create attention-grabbing CTAs

Even incredible content upgrades won’t deliver results if your readers don’t know about them.

You need to create an effective opt-in form to promote your offer. And the best way to do that is with a pop-up.

Stay with me here.

No matter how you feel about pop-ups, you can’t deny the numbers. Pop-ups convert. A Sumo study showed that a typical pop-up gets a conversion rate of almost 3.1%. And the highest-performing pop-ups convert on average an eye-popping 9.28% of visitors.

Just as with your content upgrades, consider creating topic-specific pop-ups. By building a handful of topic-based pop-ups, you can reap the benefits of highly targeted upgrades while dramatically simplifying your workflow.

But don’t let pop-ups be the only call to action on the page. Every reader doesn’t see all parts of the page, as research from Chartbeat shows. And many readers spend no more than two seconds at the bottom of the page where many calls to action usually appear.

As The Daily Egg reports, Brian Dean found that adding a second CTA for a content upgrade resulted in a 315% increase in conversions over a single, end-of-post CTA.

HubSpot consistently uses a multiple CTA strategy. A typical post includes at least three offers to download the content upgrade – top of the page (below the byline), halfway down (slide-in pop-up), and at the end of the article:

When designing your CTAs, write copy that highlights the value of the content upgrade to the reader. After implementation, test the CTA copy against alternatives to find what converts the best.

When designing CTAs, write copy that highlights the value of the #content upgrade and then test it against alternatives, says @CCollinsDC via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

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Upgrade conversion rates with a bonus content offer

A successful content upgrade offer provides an additional value to the reader around the topic (e.g., a checklist or template) or even by the format (e.g., summary or PDF). It also can be easily found on the page with deliberate but not intrusive opt-in promotions. By implementing content upgrade offers, you should see your conversion rate rise.

If you’ve seen any awesome content upgrades lately, tell us about them in the comments.

You didn’t think we’d go without offering a content upgrade, did you? If you don’t have your strategy written down, this will help. And if you do have a written strategy, revisit it to make sure you’ve answered all these questions. Download the Content Marketing Institute’s e-book The Essentials of a Documented Content Marketing Strategy: 36 Questions to Answer. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Stop Wasting Time: Review Your Website Analytics

Is reviewing site analytics something that’s always on your to-do list but never gets crossed off?

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media says that doesn’t make sense. “The reason to use analytics is to stop wasting time and to abandon those tactics and processes that don’t make a difference. I use analytics because I’m busy,” he says.

Use analytics to stop wasting time and abandon tactics that don’t make a difference, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

In a Content Marketing World presentation, How to Analyze Content Performance Using Google Analytics: From Basics to Advanced, Andy details tips and tricks that not only save marketers time but also create more effective websites.

Little-known facts, just a few clicks away

Let’s take a quiz. Can you answer these questions about your website?

  • Number of content updates per week?
  • Monthly unique visitors (approximate)?
  • Homepage bounce rate?
  • Most popular page on the site?
  • Year of the last website redesign?

You probably can answer most off the top of your head, right? OK, good. Now we move to the next level:

  • Which items in your main navigation get the most clicks?
  • Which social icon in your footer gets the most clicks?
  • How many video views do the embedded YouTube videos receive?
  • What blog posts see the highest conversion rate to email subscribers?

How many of these could you answer? If it was two or more, give yourself a pat on the back.

It’s important to know the answers to all the questions. When I managed my company’s website, I could answer none of them. It’s a shame because the data is but a few clicks away in Google Analytics. In other words, it’s easy to set up – we just need to do it.

Let’s consider each of these.

1. What gets the most clicks on the main navigation?

Google Analytics proficiency: Beginner

Impact: Medium

What does “main navigation” mean? Let’s consider the CMI site:

The elements of the main navigation are in the top row: Articles, Resources, Research, Topics, etc. Some of these elements are nested, which means that a mouse hovering on them triggers a drop-down menu of categories. For example, under Research are two child pages – Custom Research and Research Insights.

How do your visitors use the homepage navigation? Look at the Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages) and drill down to homepage. From here, pick the option that Andy says people often miss – Navigation Summary:

The Navigation Summary shows where people came from and where they went next – represented in Google Analytics as Previous Page Path and Next Page Path:

To see what pages get clicks from the site’s main navigation, look at the Next Page Path section. According to Andy, “Next Page Path is the performance of your navigation.” He notes that this information often leads to discoveries that “there are little things that get clicked a lot and big things that almost never get clicked.”

The little things getting lots of clicks? Move them to a more prominent position. The things that never get clicked? Remove them in the main navigation.

“Don’t add anything new to your website until you’ve taken something else away,” Andy says. “What should you take away? The worst-performing thing. What’s that? The navigation summary will show you.”

Your site’s navigation summary can inform what you remove from your site, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. #analytics Click To Tweet

2. Which content converts the best?

Google Analytics proficiency: Intermediate

Impact: Large

Throughout the Orbit Media blog, you notice a sign-up area to opt in to Orbit’s email newsletter. That’s one of Andy’s primary goals with his company’s blog – to drive email subscribers. “The ultimate version of content performance is to see who was so inspired that they gave me their email address. I think that’s a lot of trust,” he says.

To understand which pages generate the most conversions, use the Reverse Goal Path report (i.e., Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path). In this example, the top item is a post on blogging statistics, which generated 95 completions:

While the number of conversions is a good indicator, the data could be skewed based on traffic patterns. Maybe the top post generated the most conversions because it had 10 times the number of page views. So, Andy says you should take the review one step further by analyzing the conversion rate for each blog post – take the conversion counts and divide that by number of page views.

To do this Andy created an Excel sheet. He input the conversion counts and the number of page views (from the All Pages report). Andy says, it’s “kind of a hassle. So much work that I only did this every six months.”

Andy being Andy, he discovered a way to automate the process using Google Sheets, which he connects to his Google Analytics account. For a step-by-step guide, read the Orbit Media post Find Your Top Converting Content in 10 Steps Using Google Analytics and Google Sheets.

Andy schedules the report to run automatically every week:

Knowing which posts convert the highest can inform which content you promote even more. These tactics include:

  • Place the posts in a social-sharing rotation.
  • Link to them from your homepage.
  • Buy advertising to drive more traffic to the posts.
  • Place them in employees’ email signatures.

As for the lowest-converting posts? Consider taking them out of your social-sharing rotation and other promotion opportunities.

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3. Which social media icon gets the most clicks?

Google Analytics proficiency: Advanced

Impact: Medium

In his presentation, when Andy asked how many people have social media icons in their website’s footer just about everyone raised their hand. When he asked if they knew which icon receives the most clicks, everyone put their hand down.

Do you know which #socialmedia icon in your footer gets the most clicks, asks @crestodina via @cmicontent. #analytics Click To Tweet

When website visitors click on a social media icon, they’re taken to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – off the website. Here’s how Orbit Media does it:

To measure clicks to these social networks, Andy uses Google Tag Manager to track all off-site clicks. Get the step-by-step process in the Orbit Media post Where’d They Go? Track Every Exit Click Using Google Tag Manager in 10 Steps.

Here’s the result for Andy’s site:

Andy highlighted the social networks, which reveal the order:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. YouTube

Andy wasn’t expecting to see Facebook rank as high – it’s comfortably ahead of Twitter and YouTube. This result tells Andy his team may want to spend more time and attention on their Facebook presence.

Andy’s rule of thumb with this data is: “Remove the icons that don’t get clicked and get active on those social networks where your audience is active themselves.”

Remove the icons that don’t get clicked and get active on social networks where your audience is active themselves, says @crestodina via @cmicontent. #analytics Click To Tweet

4. Are visitors watching the videos embedded on your site?

Google Analytics proficiency: Advanced

Impact: Medium

Again, Andy polled the audience at his CMWorld presentation. Just about everyone published a video on YouTube and embedded it on their website. But only eight people knew which and how often videos get played.

Tracking of video views again involves Google Tag Manager. Orbit Media has a step-by-step post on the topic, How to Track Video Views in Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager in 4 Steps.

Andy also shares an important fifth step in the post – create a segment in Google Analytics for viewers and non-viewers. With the segments established, the fun part begins. Go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and select pages with an embedded video.

Answer questions like these:

  • What percentage of people are watching the video?
  • Are the video viewers less likely to bounce? How much less?
  • Do video viewers spend more time on the page? How much more?
  • Are video viewers more likely to convert (subscribe, become a lead, etc.)? How much more?

Here are the video findings from Orbit Media’s site:

The metrics show the impact of video, which can help defend resource allocation, budgets, etc. For Andy, the impact (as illustrated above) proves that the investment in video creation was worth it.

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Action-driven analytics

Rarely do we speak to our website visitors, but they speak to us – in web analytics data. If we use data-driven empathy, as Andy calls it, then we can uncover challenges that we unintentionally created and get visitors on their merry way to driving business value.

With the four examples in this post, go discover what the data is trying to tell you and let it save you time in the future.

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Here’s an excerpt from Andy’s talk:

You can get more practical advice to help your content marketing (that will save you time) at 2020 Content Marketing World this October. Learn more and register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Want More Business? Narrow Content Focus to Targeted Accounts

Editor’s note: Given the vital role technology plays in achieving content marketing success, we’re taking a closer look at how today’s thought leaders are bringing unique perspectives and personal experiences to the work they do in this space.  

We often think of business growth in terms of “more” – reaching more people, delivering more content, selling more products, and so on. It’s one of the reasons content marketers heavily rely on tech solutions to speed up their processes and scale their campaigns.

We asked Brian Finnerty, vice president of growth marketing at Demandbase, the category creator in Account-Based Marketing, about the main challenges facing B2B marketers today and what he sees as the most important qualities for modern marketers who want to grow their businesses.

Meet Brian

Childhood aspiration: A very famous professional soccer player

College degree: M.A, English; B.A., English and German

Got his start as: Technical writer for an e-learning company during the dot-com boom

What he loves about marketing: It allows me to use both sides of my brain: the creative side, where I can generate material that’s interesting and engaging to people, and the scientific part, which I can use to measure the impact that content has

Productivity playlist: Start Me Up (Rolling Stones); Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana); The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn (The Pogues)

On marketers’ biggest challenge

The single biggest challenge I hear from B2B marketers is that traditional demand-gen efforts have fallen into a cycle of diminishing returns. It’s simply getting harder to generate enough pipeline to support their sales teams.

Biggest challenge for #B2B marketers? Traditional demand gen produces diminishing returns, says @brianfinnerty via @cmicontent. #ContentTECH #ABM Click To Tweet

Be conscious of scaling your growth marketing efforts by focusing on a target list of accounts. Once those accounts have been identified, engage the buying committee at in-market accounts so that your budget is really focused on activities that will generate pipeline. Failing to focus on your best-fit accounts is a true growth inhibitor as you’re wasting budget trying to engage people in the wrong accounts who will never convert to becoming a customer.

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Where tech solutions help most

The customer journey typically follows a long and winding path. It’s not uncommon for members of the buying committee to visit your website multiple times in a week and then go dark for an extended period.

Pushing real-time alerts to your sales team once that account becomes active again is a really good way to interact with key contacts at that account when interest in your solution peaks again. This second (round of) interaction is often the decisive one for decision makers. Having an ABM platform that triggers these kinds of sales notifications is particularly effective in winning new business.

Push real-time alerts to #sales when an account becomes active again on your site, advises @brianfinnerty via @cmicontent. #ContentTECH Click To Tweet

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What tech can’t do

For all the many benefits campaign automation offers, technology does not remove the creative burden from marketers. Both content and advertising must engage prospects at a human level and inspire them to action. Simply reaching the right people is not enough – you need to reach them with a compelling message that inspires action.

The ideal scenario is a blend of excellent creative that is personalized to an individual’s company, role, or stage of the buying process. This will help marketing messages to resonate with the desired target audience and stand out from the noise.

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On sales and marketing collaboration

Close alignment between sales and marketing is a key aspect of account-based marketing. No more bickering over dead-end leads from marketing or shoddy follow-up by sales. Growth nirvana is getting both sales and marketing on the same page around your ideal customer profile, developing content that drives engagement from your target accounts, and tracking intent signals from key contacts on the buying committee within those accounts. It’s simply a much more focused and efficient way to run marketing.

Growth nirvana = #sales and #marketing on the same page, says @brianfinnerty via @cmicontent. #ContentTECH #ABM Click To Tweet

On what he’s learned and what he would teach to others

It’s incumbent on a modern marketer to be able to talk about emerging issues, think about them, and articulate an opinion on them. It starts with being an absolute consumer of content. Read The New York Times, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries on big-picture thinkers like Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates. You can’t read enough or download enough information, but if you’ve got a good way of curating content, it will be a real asset throughout your career.

I always try to keep a curious, open mindset. Being willing to take risks and take on new challenges is an important mindset for marketers because it’s such a fast-evolving landscape and there are so many new tools and technologies out there. As a marketer, you always have to keep an eye out for those big seismic shifts.

Expand how you think about marketing technology

The most promising players in the tech space understand that simply adding volume or velocity is no longer enough to put your content initiatives on a sustainable path to marketing success and business growth. Marketing technology should direct your efforts toward the accounts that are in-market, showing clear buying signals for your solution. It’s also critical to be a continual learner if you want to stay on top of evolving martech and adtech trends and opportunities.

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What are you looking to learn more about in the marketing technology landscape? What inspiring voices are helping to expand your industry vision? Tweet your thoughts to @CMIContent using #ContentTECH.  

Join us at ContentTECH Summit this April in San Diego to further your connection to content marketing and technology in real life. Register today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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6 Things You Should Stop Doing to Content [Tools]

The most straightforward way of revitalizing your content marketing is to jettison some content pieces that just aren’t working for your brand. Here are six options you should consider first. Then you can focus on producing content that your audience (as well as search engines) will love.

1. Mobile unfriendly

We’ve been discussing mobile optimization for years, but a surprising number of businesses still publish content that isn’t mobile friendly.

We know that this damages the customer experience. Four billion people access the internet via their mobile devices so when your content doesn’t work on mobile you risk alienating a vast portion of your target audience.

Not only are you annoying your audience, but you’re losing visibility in results pages. Mobile is a key factor in Google’s scoring of your site.

#Mobile unfriendly #content annoys your audience AND @Google, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

The fix: Optimize your website for mobile

First, check to see if your site is mobile friendly in your users’ and Googles’ eyes. Open it on your smart device and see how well you can see it. You also should type the URL in Google Search Console’s mobile-friendly test.

If the tests show your site is not optimized for mobile, you need to take a few steps. (The good news is you don’t need to build a whole new website.)

One option is to use an online site converter, like bMobilized  (fee) to transfer your desktop site to a mobile-first design. Alternatively, look at website mobile plug-ins such as WPtouch and JetPack for WordPress, Responsivizer and JoomlaShine for Joomla, or ThemeKey and MobileTheme for Drupal.

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2. Single format

Gone are the days when simple blog posts ruled content marketing. Today, the content choices are enormous, from video to live stories, to podcasts and everything in between.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to carry on churning out the same old text-only articles, expecting to make any connection with your audience.

You can’t churn out the same old text articles and expect to connect with your audience, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

The fix: Embrace a variety of content options

Look at your content or editorial calendar (if you don’t yet have one, then I’d recommend drawing one up). Ask yourself how varied your content is and identify all the opportunities for more interactive, creative, and engaging formats.

Start using multimedia

Now that 72% of people are looking at content via their mobile devices, they are more likely to expect big blocks of visually appealing content. Use infographics, images, and videos to generate more views and shares.

For infographics, you can use free tools like Piktochart. For images, create your own high-resolution photos or use websites like Creative Commons to access free images and stay on the right side of copyright laws. Free tools like Pixlr and Canva can help you edit those images.

Try immersive content

Immersive content includes formats like virtual reality and augmented reality. Although a newish tactic for marketers, it’s gaining momentum. Get into the swing of immersive content by streaming live stories on Instagram and then look at Facebook Horizon (formerly Facebook Spaces) to see about incorporating VR into your content marketing.

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3. Goal-less

It’s amazing how many businesses still just push out content in bulk to drive traffic. The content doesn’t speak to a specific audience. It has no particular purpose and it’s not designed to be helpful or shareable.

Audiences expect more from their content. They want to consume high-quality content that helps them achieve their online goals.

The fix: Define your content goals

Your goals don’t need to be complicated. You may want to increase traffic, improve online, or grow your subscriber list. Whatever it is – and you may have more than one goal overall – make sure that each piece of content has one clearly defined goal.

Make sure that each piece of #content has one clearly defined goal, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

Your content also should achieve your target audience’s goals – learn about an idea, solve a problem, learn how to do something, etc. Make sure each piece of content achieves at least one of those goals.

Add a call to action to your content to encourage your audience to take some action. Ensure that it aligns with your brand goal and is relevant to the audience’s goal. For example, if the goal is to grow your subscriber list, the CTA should encourage your audience to sign up for more content connected to the article topic. If your goal is to grow your online sales, direct people to your product pages.

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4. Unsubstantiated

I’ve already shared the thirst for high-quality content. And it’s not just your audience that wants it. Google rewards sites with valuable and audience-relevant content.

Any content that isn’t backed by relevant data and research probably isn’t worth doing. Or at least it should only be one component in a mix of high-value content.

#Content that isn’t backed by relevant data and research probably isn’t worth doing, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

The fix: Establish quality parameters

First, give the team time to produce good quality content. Although it’s good to publish frequently, it’s more important to prioritize quality. Space out deadlines across your content calendar in line to create a manageable workload and keep track of all the tasks involved in creating quality content.

When creating content, identify key trusted sources to inform your pieces and include relevant and well-sourced data points. Make sure to link to these sources from your content and reference sources appropriately.

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5. Sales push

It’s tempting for marketers to use content for the hard sell. Even if you think it’s subtle, chances are your audience will sniff out the sales pitch. And guess what? They probably won’t be happy about it.

Today’s consumers don’t want to be sold to. They want to consume relevant content that helps them navigate their buyer journey and supports their decisions.

The fix: Respond to your audience’s needs

Ditch the sales pitch from your content and instead carry out some audience or persona research. Develop profiles that describe in detail what your audience looks like – their relevant online behaviors, goals, pain points – and consider how your content can cater to their interests and needs.

Go further and map your customer journey, identifying key moments or touchpoints where your content can help them in their decision making.

Image source

Finish up your audience-focus fix by adding all your content opportunities to the editorial calendar. Ensure that you’ve covered all parts of the sales cycle, from the moment your audience discovers your company to long after they converted.

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6. Unoptimized

Stop routinely publishing content without a thought to basic SEO principles. Content that isn’t optimized for search engines is unlikely to contribute to your overall marketing goals, let alone be found by new audiences.

Stop routinely publishing #content without a thought to basic #SEO principles, says @iamaaronagius via @cmicontent. Click To Tweet

Even basic SEO gives your content (and your website in general) a better chance of being found by search engines, reaching the most relevant audiences and achieving your online goals.

The fix: Invest in SEO

Do keyword research first as it underpins the rest of your SEO work. This means listing the relevant search terms (both short and long) that your target audience would type in the search engine field to find your content.

Enter that list into a keyword research tool like Moz or SEMrush to determine which would be the most valuable to include in your content (i.e., those keywords that receive a high volume of traffic but have a low difficulty rating).

Once you have established a solid list, you can attend to other SEO tasks when you produce a new piece of content. These include:

  • Incorporate long-tail keywords in your content.
  • Optimize images and videos.
  • Create a compelling meta description and title tag.

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Start now

The first step toward improved content is identifying what isn’t working in your current model. By examining (and fixing) these six frequent mistakes first, you can put your content on a better path to success.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: So Your Content Failed. Now What?

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used). 

Another step you can take to create more effective content is to attend Content Marketing World this October. Several tracks are devoted to multiple elements of content creation. Register today!

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Avoid the Heartbreak of Lengthy Strategies, Expert Assumptions, and More [The Weekly Wrap]

Listen to the Weekly Wrap here or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. If you enjoy the show, please take a moment to rate it or post a review.

And that’s a wrap of the week ending Feb. 14, 2020

This week I’m thinking about the trap between strategy and planning. I offer my take on a new article that claims publishing less content is helping publishers grow their audiences. Veteran content marketer Rich Schwerin shares his thoughts about the business challenges of content strategy today. And I point you to an article about deconstructing a content marketing platform to come up with a better content marketing plan.

Listen to the Weekly Wrap

It’s Valentine’s Day (if your Valentine is on Twitter, you can call them tweetheart). Our theme this week is how I left the plan and learned to love the planning.  Let’s wrap it up.

One deep thought: The problem with strategic plans (2:35)

How much strategy is enough? We all agree that a good strategic plan is important – it’s a compelling argument for why we want to go somewhere, a clear road map to help us get there, and a set of standards for the benefits of arriving at our destination.

But how detailed does the plan need to be? Too much detail and no one will read it or adopt it. Too little detail and people won’t care about the strategy, won’t be clear about the plan, or won’t understand what success looks like.

The conventional wisdom is to do two versions: a highly detailed plan with hundreds of slides and the 20-slide executive summary version of that plan.

Both of these become useless quickly. Details go sideways right away due to delays, budget fluctuations, and resource changes. Once the details change, managers worry about their ability to meet the standards of success. Then people question the direction, and everything starts all over again.

Should we just stop creating strategic plans? I explain a better way – one that keeps the strategy fixed and the plan fluid.

Should we stop creating strategic #content plans? @Robert_Rose gives the answer via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

A fresh take on a less-is-more content strategy (9:57)

I read a fascinating piece in Digiday this week with the headline Publishers Are Growing Audiences by Producing Less Content. Yup, you heard that right.

The article details several publishers that have trimmed the number of articles they’re producing yet are seeing more traffic, longer times on site, and more subscribers. These include The Guardian, The Times of London, and Le Monde.

The quote from media analyst Thomas Baekdal stood out to me:

Whether a digital magazine publishes 100, 500, or 1,000 articles makes no difference. It’s the quality and interest of the articles that matter instead. We see this clearly on YouTube, where the most popular YouTubers rarely post more than once or twice a day. Publishers look at this, do the analysis, and they discover that when they cut away the not valuable, nobody realizes that it is gone.

I’ve started to see this with my consulting clients. When they take the time to create their strategy and plan to create fewer pieces – and focus in on the quality of those pieces – they build stronger, more engaged audiences and see better results.

Create fewer #content pieces. Focus on quality. And you may see better results, says @Robert_Rose via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

I explain how this seemingly counterintuitive strategy can help content marketers focus on helping people find what they want while leading them to start reading more of what we want them to consume.

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This week’s person making a difference in content: Rich Schwerin (14:17)

This interview is a fun one because Rich Schwerin is not only a wonderfully smart guy, he’s also seen it all when it comes to content marketing in Silicon Valley. Rich is now a senior content strategist at Autodesk, where he focuses on content that engages attention, solves problems, and delivers results.

He’s worked for years in enterprise technology content strategy, including stints at VMware and Oracle. He’s done a variety of things in and around content marketing, including SEO, social media marketing strategy, and product marketing. Rich also puts his background in journalism to work writing articles and moderating panels for the Bay Area Content Marketing Meetup.

Here’s a preview of our chat:

Editors know more than readers. You and your subject matter experts are living and eating and breathing your subject 24/7 … There’s a danger in assuming the audience knows all that. Your job is to organize the information and interpret it and focus on what the audience needs to know – not everything.

Don’t assume your audience knows all that your editors and experts know, says @greencognito via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Listen in to our conversation about content strategy and some of the challenges he’s seeing in business, then get more from Rich:

One content marketing idea you can use (29:30)

I’m sharing an article from way back in 2013. Before you scoff about the age, let me tell you this article is as valuable as it was seven years ago. In Learn What Makes a Content Plan Successful by Taking One Apart, my friend Buddy Scalera wrote about building a better content plan by taking apart your existing one, putting it back together by making decisions about what works and what doesn’t, and documenting the process.

The true challenges lie in building a #content plan from scratch, says @buddyscalera via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Love for our sponsor: ContentTECH Summit

Here’s something you should plan for – especially if you’re looking for a content tech strategy. I’m talking about ContentTECH Summit April 20 to 22 in San Diego.

We’ve got amazing, speakers like Meg Walsh, who runs content services at Hilton Hotels; Cleve Gibbon, chief technology officer at Wunderman Thompson; and Wendy Richardson, senior vice president of global technical services for MasterCard.

These brand-level folks are ready to teach you the effective use of technology and better processes that can help your strategic efforts to create, manage, deliver, and scale your enterprise content and provide your customers with better digital experiences.

And I’ve got a discount for you. Just use the code ROSE100 and you’ll save $100 on registration.

Check out the agenda and register today.

The wrap-up

Join me next week for one thought that I love from my head to matoes. I won’t glaze over the fact you doughnut want to miss the love we share for the hole news story. And – hotdog – I think you’ll relish the content marketing tip we cannoli offer you through this podcast. You have a pizza my heart, you guys. And of course, it’s all delivered in a little less time than it takes to spray-tan your face.

If you have ideas for what you’d like to hear more of on our weekly play on words, let us know in the comments. And if you love the show, we’d sure love for you to review it or share it. Hashtag us up on Twitter: #WeeklyWrap.

To listen to past Weekly Wrap shows, go to the main Weekly Wrap page

How to subscribe

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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[eBook] How To Become A Scoop.it Expert

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know we’re always talking about ways content curation can help businesses thrive.

Any industry and company size can benefit from strategic content curation.

It can help turn your employees into your biggest advocates and your sales representatives into top sellers.

Content curation can grow the impact of your email newsletters, your social media, blog, content hubs, and even get your eCommerce store to attract more customers.

That’s why in this guide, we’re sharing exactly how Scoop.it can help you see success with content curation across your entire company.

We’re taking you on a Scoop.it tour. Let’s dive in!

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Brand Storytelling Gets a Rose from The Bachelor [And 2 More TV Partnership Examples]

Let’s play a game. Match the numbered brand with the lettered media property below.

(1) NASCAR
(2) Ancestry
(3) Destination Cleveland

(A) The Bachelor
(B) The Crew
(C) Who Do You Think You Are?

I’ll wait ….

Do your answers match?

(1) NASCAR connects to (B) The Crew.

(2) Ancestry connects to (C) Who Do You Think You Are?

(3) Destination Cleveland connects to (A) The Bachelor.

Each of these brands turned native advertising on its head – taking on roles in the stories being told by these television shows. And it’s not product placement, their brands propel the stories.

Brands are taking on new roles in stories told by TV shows, says @AnnGynn via @cmicontent. #nativeadvertising #storytelling Click To Tweet

Let’s look at each relationship (then stick around for a bonus example of a brand that unknowingly became a player in the story of the U.K.’s two most famous stop-animation film stars).

The Bachelor dates Cleveland

I’m not a frequent viewer of The Bachelor, but I watched the two episodes that took place in Cleveland, Ohio, (where I live) this season. The Bachelor regularly visits towns when supported by local or state tourism bureaus. In fact, tourism bureaus have become a key player in The Bachelor franchise.

The episodes I watched feature traditional beauty shots and local vendor product placements (think a hotel, prime destinations, and restaurants). But The Bachelor isn’t about Cleveland. It’s about the drama between the bachelor and his suitors – women who vie for one-on-one dates in hopes they avoid the dreaded group date, and who want a rose at the end of the episode (so they get to stay) and eventually an on-air marriage proposal.

By design, Chris Harrison’s announcement of the trip to the contestants meets with the response local tourism officials expect ­– and want to change: “Why Cleveland?”

The partnership was designed to challenge that thinking, says Colette Jones, chief marketing officer of Destination Cleveland, the city’s tourism organization. The positive and lesser-known narrative of Cleveland could unfold to an audience of millions of Bachelor fans.

These Cleveland-centered episodes bring all the interpersonal drama viewers expect. But as those stories unfold, so do stories of Cleveland. The Bachelor Bowl (the group date in one of the episodes) features two former Cleveland Browns as coaches at FirstEnergy Stadium (where the NFL team plays). A one-on-one activity encompasses the bachelor and his date grabbing a bite at a pierogi cart, dancing a polka in Public Square, and riding in a Soap Box Derby car – elements of Cleveland’s desired narrative.

Destination Cleveland used @BachelorABC to improve the city’s tourism narrative, says Colette Jones of @TheCLE via @cmicontent. #nativeadvertising #storytelling Click To Tweet

Image source

“While there was risk to the association between the brands, the potential for improved equity and perception change outweighed that risk,” Colette says.

The Destination Cleveland team provided The Bachelor producers with an overview of Cleveland from a tourism perspective as well as messaging that it hoped would be conveyed in the episode.

“While not all the brand elements and messaging made the final cut, we know the concerted effort to develop an understanding of our brand messaging strategy and who we are as a destination were essential to our success,” Colette says.

And Destination Cleveland didn’t let the show itself serve as a one-time marketing event. It continued the story by leveraging digital and media relations channels.

For example, the team published romance-related blog posts, including 15 Places for Marriage Proposals in CLE  and Romance Travel: CLE Trip Planner, on the day the first Cleveland episode of The Bachelor aired.

Then it promoted the content with The Bachelor tie-in on social media:

The Destination Cleveland team also is tying all the content to a bigger “Love, Cleveland” story being told across its digital channels this quarter.

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NASCAR drives The Crew

Like Destination Cleveland, NASCAR has plenty of content topics. The global auto-racing sanctioning and operating body crafts its content on star drivers, competitive races, etc. (And it does it well – Evan Parker, then-NASCAR vice president of content, was a 2018 Content Marketer of the Year finalist.)

But NASCAR is taking its content marketing to the next level – becoming the setting for an upcoming Netflix series, The Crew. Kevin James stars as an old-school race team crew chief who butts heads with the team’s modern-minded owner who wants more high-tech thinking, according to TV Insider. The setup isn’t new (someone who doesn’t like change is living in a world where change is a requirement). The format isn’t new either (it’s a traditional multi-camera sitcom).

What is new is the role of the NASCAR brand – it’s an integral component of the story. And NASCAR leaders Matt Summers, managing director, entertainment marketing and content development; and Tim Clark, senior vice president and chief digital officer, serve as executive producers on this mainstream sitcom.

Samantha Thompson, vice president of development, Branded, at Remedy Television + Branded, explains, “The brand is the story rather than the storyteller itself, opening up an entirely new opportunity for viewership, and of course, brand affinity as well.”

With The Crew on @Netflix, @NASCAR is the story rather than the storyteller and can reach new audiences, says Stephanie Thompson of @RemedyTVBranded via @cmicontent. #brandedcontent #examples Click To Tweet

(Note: Samantha offers her perspective as a brand developer and is not involved in The Crew or in the following example.)

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Ancestry plants TV roots

Ancestry built its business on connecting its customers to historical records for genealogical research. Over 30 years later, the company continues to connect families with their history (most frequently through its web-based membership site) and has added AncestryDNA, bringing genetic analysis to help customers learn their family history.

In 2010, Ancestry became involved in TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are, with executive producers Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky. Each episode follows a celebrity tracing their ancestral roots. During the journey, these famous faces follow the family tree created through Ancestry.com to learn about a relative or identify the next point to their genealogical path.

Ancestry shows up in other series, too. Its DNA testing was the launch point for a multi-episode arc of CNN’s United Shades of America in which its host Kamau Bell traces his genealogy.

Last year, NBC launched A New Leaf, which uses Ancestry DNA testing to explore the family ties of non-celebrities. The show “teaches the importance of understanding their family history in order to make important decisions and enact positive changes in their lives,” according to A New Leaf’s site.

“The brand has truly taken advantage of the recent cultural elevation and interest in genealogy and helping to tell those stories,” says Samantha Thompson of Remedy Television + Branded. “Ancestry’s products are not just integrated into these shows – they’ve made themselves essential in order to move the narrative forward.”

.@Ancestry has truly taken advantage of the recent cultural elevation and interest in genealogy and helping to tell those stories,” says Samantha Thompson of @RemedyTVBranded via @cmicontent. #storytelling #examples Click To Tweet

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Cheesy bonus

Illustrator Mark Armstrong says this topic of brand stories being told in shows rang a bell at the cheese factory for him.

Which cheese factory? Wensleydale, the favorite brand of Wallace in Wallace and Gromit, the popular U.K. stop-motion animated shorts and films.

As Mark explains, Wensleydale had nothing to do with the original storyline. As IMBD details, the ongoing storyline of Wallace’s love of cheese led series creator, Nick Park, to name Wallace’s favorite brand. He picked Wensleydale because he liked the name, dropping it into several animated shorts around 1995.

What he didn’t know was that making Wallace a fan of Wensleydale cheese would lead to the business’s survival. Facing financial struggles and an uncertain future, Wensleydale saw sales take off after it became part of Wallace’s story. Today, it’s a big success and even features Wallace and Gromit Yorkshire Wensleydale among its products.

Envision the possibilities

Letting others tell your brand’s narrative can open a wealth of opportunities – to grow brand awareness, to connect with new audiences, to raise your profile among your target audiences. But the key to success is being deliberate and taking advantage of all the related potential opportunities.

Destination Cleveland’s Colette Jones offers this sage advice:

Overall, it’s essential to be strategic in the opportunities you consider – from ensuring brand and audience alignment to understanding how the partner has incorporated other (similar) brands and how fans responded to those partnerships to determining if the opportunity lends itself to a broader integrated marketing effort.

Be strategic in #storytelling partnership opportunities, says Colette Jones of @TheCLE via @cmicontent. #nativeadvertising Click To Tweet

Who or what could tell your brand’s narrative within their larger story? Dream big and small – and share in the comments.

Want to visit the city that most recently gained attention through The Bachelor and that’s served as the backdrop for movies, including A Christmas Story and Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Want to grow your content marketing skills? You can do both at Content Marketing World this October. Register today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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How to Use SEO to Boost Branded Keyword Rankings on Google

Some SEO low-hanging fruit is almost too low. It makes you think you don’t need to try to earn better rankings that generate more traffic.

But why settle? You’ll miss countless higher-hanging SEO fruit.

Branded keywords can easily fall into that grasp. By brand, I’m not merely referencing a single keyword like GE or DHL. Brands are part of countless keyword phrases:

  • Nike React Infinity Run
  • Sony X850G TV review
  • Outback Steakhouse coupon

Just because your brand is included in a keyword phrase doesn’t mean your site ranks No. 1 for it. Variables could include:

  • Domain authority primarily influenced by the number and quality of backlinks
  • Content relevance
  • Domain name associated with the brand
  • Distributor websites

Your brand in a keyword phrase doesn’t mean an automatic No. 1 ranking, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Here are some key steps and best practices to keep in mind while reaping the most fruit from your brand for SEO purposes:

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Collect your data

Tools like SEMrush and Google Search Console make it easy to find brand-related keywords and data such as rankings and search volume. If you’re running paid ad programs like Google Ads, dive into the search queries people use (not just the words you feed into your campaigns).

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Figure out what’s ranking No. 1

Although the rankings could fluctuate over time, you’re probably safe to assume your No. 1 rankings will hold. Those top rankings aren’t your priority. Enjoy how they support your business.

For example, Bayer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, does not need to pay attention to these No. 1 rankings:

Analyze keywords that rank No. 2 to No. 10

Start with the keywords just beyond your fingertips. If you’re already No. 2, shouldn’t that be enough? No. You could be No. 1. See what you can do to boost any of your top-but-not-No.-1 positions.

Industry data from Advanced Web Ranking shows clicks drop between the No. 1 and No. 2 positions and continue to decline. Moving up one spot can make a difference in traffic. Backlinko found that the No. 1 result has a 31.7% average click-through rate and is 10 times more likely to get a click than the No. 10 position.

A No. 1 ranking is 10x more likely to get a click than the No. 10 position, according to @backlinko via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Bayer ranks No. 11 (second page of results) for “Bayer aspirin” with an average of 14,800 Google searches each month:

What are the main obstacles? Bayer’s site doesn’t use “Bayer aspirin” in the SEO page title, content header, main content, and image file name.

Fortunately, Bayer leverages a digital strategy that many brands embrace. They create related sites (microsites) with separate content and keyword-rich domains. For “Bayer aspirin,” bayeraspirin.com is the No. 1 ranking.

.@Bayer leverages a #digitalstrategy that many brands embrace, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. Read more: Click To Tweet

Why fret over a No. 11 spot when you have the No. 1? Why not? Bayer should make the effort to get a better ranking to reinforce the brand and meet website and business goals.

Clearly, Bayer has strong rankings for https://www.bayer.com/en/aspirin.aspx. But some slight SEO adjustments could be made to improve the “Bayer aspirin” ranking and probably several other top 10 keyword phrases as well.

Hershey’s could improve its No. 4 ranking for “Hershey Kiss calories,” which has 6,600 monthly searches on Google: https://www.hersheys.com/en_us/products/hershey-kisses-milk-chocolate-12-ounce-bags.html

The SEO page title is: Kisses Milk Chocolate 12-Ounce Bag | HERSHEY’S.

I’m sure Hershey’s wouldn’t want to play up the calories with an SEO page title like this: Consume 160 Calories with a Serving of 7 Hershey’s Kisses – Milk Chocolate Bag.

But the company doesn’t shy away from nutrition data deep on the website page. “Hershey Kiss calories” and other top-ranking keyword phrases might rank better with this SEO page title: Hershey’s Kisses – Milk Chocolate 12-Ounce Bag | 160 Calories Per Serving.

Here are some other Hershey’s keywords that do well for the same page:

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Be careful before optimizing a page to rank higher

Once you identify some priority branded keyword phrases, you still need to check other data before fine-tuning the page to get a better ranking.

Sort the data and find out what other keyword phrases are ranking for the same page – both branded and nonbranded keywords. Evaluate data like:

  • Relevant words that rank in the top 10 positions
  • Google estimated search volume for each keyword
  • Page focus based on the page content header and maybe a subhead

Why do you need to go through all of that trouble?  You don’t want to make page adjustments that could displace other high rankings. If you revise the SEO page title or the page content header (or both) to support a branded keyword phrase, you might lose other positions for branded or nonbranded keywords.

Don’t always be quick to dismiss keywords with low search volume, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

In Hershey’s case, some minor changes to the Hershey’s Kisses page would not be too disruptive.

Look at your numbers and decide how much to modify your page. If a relevant branded keyword has 500 monthly searches and ranks No. 7 and a nonbranded keyword ranks No. 5 with only 20 monthly searches, you might feel comfortable about updating the SEO page title, content header, and other content.

However, don’t always be quick to dismiss keywords with low search volume.

Sometimes the low-volume, long-tail keyword phrases are worth protecting. Be careful because those keywords that aren’t as popular may be profitable for your business. How much is your product or service? What are your margins? What is your lead to close ratio? You might not have access to all of the data, but the context of the keyword phrase should help you decide whether it’s valuable.

Don’t always be quick to dismiss keywords with low search volume, says @mikeonlinecoach via @cmicontent. #SEO Click To Tweet

Create new content

Be open to developing new content to support branded keyword phrases. Educational articles, case studies, e-books, FAQs, or product summaries may be effective.

All of the basics should still come into play like the page URL, SEO page title, content header, image name, image alt text, user-friendly content, and internal links from your other website content.

Consider this example from Pentair, a water treatment company. It only ranks No. 27 for “Pentair filter parts” with 3,600 monthly searches on Google: https://www.pentair.com/en/products/pool-spa-equipment.html. Ranking higher are Pentair’s Amazon presence and its distributor websites.

And it’s unlikely to rank higher for “Pentair filter parts” since it’s supporting so many keyword phrases. More than 50 phrases are among the top 10 positions. I wouldn’t mess with this page.

The answer to a higher ranking for “Pentair filter parts” could be the creation of a new page that showcases some of its top filtration products.

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Reach higher for branded keywords

To succeed with SEO and branded keywords, don’t settle for the low-hanging fruit. Make calculated changes AFTER you understand your data and website objectives.

What steps do you take to analyze your keywords? Do you update existing pages or make new ones dedicated to keyword phrases that feature your brand?

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Higher rankings can happen with top learning opportunities for you and your team. Search engine optimization is one of the many tracks at Content Marketing World this October. Make plans to join us today. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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3 Tips to Enhance Your Content

Enhance your content marketing

Trying to stand out online is like standing in a crowd at a concert and screaming your friend’s name, and she’s 100 yards away, watching the main noisemakers on the stage. She can’t hear you. She’s not even looking in your direction.  And if she were, she’d probably see the bigger people around you first.

My point is that standing out is hard.  The internet is a saturated marketplace with a whole lot of noise, a lot more chaos, and a heavy-handed dash of capitalist ambition. It’s noisy, and most businesses are only adding to the noise rather than creating a bit of quiet.

No, I don’t mean going dark and ghosting your digital audience. I mean creating a moment of quiet from your audience. Getting them to stop in their scrolling, clicking, flipping, and tossing to engage with your video, post, blog, website, email or advertisement is the goal. That’s the pivotal moment. Will they or won’t they become a paying customer? What will make them click?

It’s in the way you connect, which is to say, your story. Not the “who we are” kind of story, but the “we’ve got your back, and here’s why” kind of story.

In this post, I’ll outline three ways you can spruce up your content to create that moment of quiet for your customer so they can make a split-second decision to trust you.

Tip 1: Determine the Problems You Solve

Make a list of 1-5 main problems you solve for your customers, and then make a point of talking about them to everyone, think about them regularly, and constantly work toward solving these problems. Go to bat for your customers against an obvious villain! They’ll thank you for it with their business.

Here are the problems we help our customers solve:

  1. Being left behind by the growth of digital marketing and the overwhelming noise online.
  2. Struggling to keep up with the competition online.
  3. Unable to commit the time to content.
  4. Not enough staff to help with content.
  5. No marketing budget.

That last one is actually a misnomer; every business has a marketing budget, or they wouldn’t be a business at all.

Tip 2:  Write Out How IT Happens

“It” being your customer’s purchasing journey. What steps do they need to take to buy from you? Creating these steps is a practical exercise, and not so much a creative one. Your purchasing process should be no fewer than three steps, and no more than six. Here’s an example:

The Your Imprint Customer Journey:

  1. Visit my site, blog and social pages
  2. Schedule a 15-minute consult.
  3. Get a custom quote with a scope of work.
  4. Sign the Services Agreement and other needed paperwork like a BA or NDA.
  5. Have a discovery meeting with us (jokingly called “The Data Dump”).
  6. Pay invoice after work is completed.

Yours may be much simpler, like:

  1. Visit store
  2. Purchase items
  3. Refer a friend for a free gift

Once you have the steps they can take, you’ll want to make sure those steps are easy to follow through your website. For example, if your main call to action is “Buy Now,” that needs to be a huge, bright button in the top right corner of your site. It should also be a button all over the website to make it easier for customers to buy no matter where they are on your website.

Tip 3: Create a Funnel

It’s much easier than most people make it sound.  I really like this picture from Bias Digital because it lays out the kind of content used in each part of the funnel.

3 Tips to Improve your Content Marketing
Image by Bias Digital.

Here’s how ours is set up to help you on your way to creating an airtight funnel: 

Visitors comes into the funnel by organic search, referrals, social media, or they go directly to our website. They get here with content to look at more content. That’s a good sign. At the top of the funnel, we build trust. We prove ourselves by:

  • Having a fast, user-friendly website that looks good
  • Writing content that is relatable to the audience
  • Making it clear what we want them to do (schedule a consult!)
  • Make it easy and convenient for them to buy (pay after we perform!)

In the middle part of the funnel, people aren’t usually ready to buy just yet. They’re thinking about us, though. They come back to the website a few more times, follow us on social, or sign up for our newsletter. In this part of the funnel, we create content for:

  • Email deals at the end of the newsletter
  • Social media giveaways
  • Polls and surveys to engage them with our services
  • Special printing deals

The bottom of the funnel is for sales. These are paying customers who deserve and expect to be honored by their favorite brands. Content here is focused on:

  • Delighting them with extra special offers and sneak peeks
  • Loyalty program/subscription
  • Regular gifting
  • Upsells

So, now you know what the customer needs from you because you solve a specific problem they’re having. You’ve created a clearly defined process to communicate with your audience on how they can buy from you, and you’ve made a funnel that will help you create content and keep up with the fast pace of digital marketing.

My article today is a broad brushstroke of how to boost your content to stand out. Stay tuned for more tips and helpful tools on distributing your content and broadcasting your message. Keep Learning by signing up for my company’s Content Marketing Newsletter (Your Imprint)!