6 Secrets to Content Marketing Strategy Success

a well-balanced content marketing strategy
Unless you’ve had your head under a rock or lived in some remote are, you know how important a sound content marketing strategy is to your ROI. Content marketing is the new SEO, not only scoring big with search engines (especially Google who’s increased the impact of fresh, valuable content on a consistent basis in its search algorithm), but it drives traffic to your site from social platforms and builds your online reputation.

But, knowing and doing are two very different things. That’s where this great infographic published on the LinkedIN Marketing Solutions Blog by Jason Miller comes in.

Secret #1: Blogging is the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy

Notice a key element of this infographic is the diverse types of content marketing that makes a successful digital marketing campaign. And, a blog is really the cornerstone of your content marketing strategy.

Often, I hear businesses argue they don’t need a blog as part of their content marketing — posting updates on social networks is sufficient. I think these companies miss the boat when it comes to optimizing their content marketing strategy.

Don’t believe me?

Read what these other authorities have to say about why your business needs a blog:

Should I go on — because I can list hundreds of recognized authorities who argue that a blog is essential?

To summarize, you need a blog [content marketing] because:

  • Content marketing is the new SEO
  • Content marketing builds consumer trust
  • Content marketing solves consumer problems
  • Content marketing builds your reputation
  • Content marketing is an effective PR engine

Need more information on adding a blog to your digital marketing strategy, grab our free ebook.

A balanced content marketing strategy

Even if your posts are useful, fresh, and appealing, readers get tired of the same old content. Hence, the notion of a balanced strategy to spice things up a little.

The infographic below gives you options for creating a balanced blog, including large amounts of grains, vegetables, meats, desserts, as well as little bits of condiments to spice things up.

A successful content marketing strategy should not only contain different formats of content — video, ebooks, infographics, guest posts — but different types of content. For my tastes, most blogs seem to contain too much dessert and not enough meat. Maybe that’s because you have lots of “gurus” out there advising content creation around stories, amusing images, and video.

Everyone loves dessert, right? That’s why dessert drives so many visits to your site. In this case, the gurus are right and filling your blog with juicy little tidbits, gossip, and fluff works just fine. It’s like a holiday party full of rich pastries, candy, and fruity drinks.

That’s what many ecommerce sites are — a holiday party. You want light content to entertain you, encourage your visit and some fluff in between filling your cart. So, if you’re an ecommerce site, having a content marketing strategy revolving around dessert might not be so bad.

But other websites don’t perform well if they’re overloaded with desserts. Folks visit the site for meat — maybe a little potatoes, and whole-wheat toast, with a splash of Dijon mustard. In other words, a balanced menu of different types of blog content.

This is especially true for Business-to-Business sites and consumer sites for complex products like software, electronics, and equipment. Visitors want expert advice and help solving problems on these sites — meat and potatoes. Even the Apple site is chock full of helpful information rather than desserts, despite Apple’s reputation for intuitive users experiences.

Secret #2: Creating meat and potatoes content

You see the value of meat and potatoes content in recent data showing longer content (1200+ words) is better in terms of SEO, traffic, and conversion. Now, there’s nothing saying your dessert content won’t be that long, but most long-form content is something I would characterize as meat and potatoes.

Meat and potatoes content takes a lot more time, research, and expertise to create. That’s what makes it valuable to readers and clearly establishes your authority as a business. It also increases important metrics beyond readership: lead generation and conversion.

On my own blog, for instance, an increased focus on creating more meat and potatoes content increased my visits by 110%, my number of page 1 keywords by 54%, and lead generation went up nearly 200%. In addition, content syndication rose to almost 100% of my content distributed on either Business2Community or The SAP Innovation Blog and often both.

Secret #3: Publish frequently

business-blog-strategy_hoyp0cI like the recommendations in the infographic about using different content elements to create a balanced blogging strategy, but I don’t blog every day — at least not on this blog. Sure, posting everyday –  78% (or even several times a day – 89%) produces more new customers over publishing once a month (49%) or so, but those advantages aren’t much different from posting a couple of times a week  – 76% (or 3, as I do on Hausman Marketing Letter) — according to Hubspot.

Secret #4: Quality over quantity

Publishing frequently helps, but the benefits disappear if you don’t produce quality content. Refer back to the infographic for ideas that create quality content.

Secret #5: An editorial calendar

Creating an editorial calendar reduces the workload involved and increases coordination efforts toward producing quality content on a consistent basis to fulfill your content marketing strategy.

Staring at a blank screen is often the kiss of death when it comes to producing content on a schedule. Plus, tracking down resources (links, images, and supporting metrics) is easier if you put everything into an editorial calendar. As you’re working on 1 piece of content, you should be jotting down ideas and headlines for future posts. As you’re researching a particular topic for a blog post, you can add links and images for material to your editorial calendar for future posts as you turn up content that doesn’t quite fit the current post.

Secret #6: Measure, analyze, tweak

Your job isn’t over as soon as you publish your content. First, you have to share that content (and I use Buffer’s recommendations for a sharing schedule with a few minor modifications).

More importantly, you need to monitor the performance of published content based on metrics related to your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Here’s a list of KPIs I commonly use to track performance of my content. Now, tweak future content based on what you learned worked with existing content. Maybe certain headlines work best (having a number in the headline tends to return higher metrics, for instance).

Never trust what works for other companies, always measure your actual results. For instance, Facebook posts with a large image return higher CTR (click-through rates) in published accounts. I have a client, however, who’s CTR is about 300% higher if we include no image at all — only the link and a short description of the topic. Weird, I know, but every target audience performs a little differently.

Your turn

So, what can you add to my secrets of success?

What works best for you?

Need help?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing firm operating at the intersection of marketing and social media.

 

 

A well-balanced content marketing strategy
Courtesy of Jason Miller on LinkedIN’s Marketing Solutions Blog

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6 Tips for Getting the Most from Your Content Marketing Strategy

create the perfect content marketing strategy

Content marketing is the new SEO, so having a great content marketing strategy helps searchers find your content. Sharing content on social networks also improves SEO, builds your reputation, and drives visitors to your website.

At a meetup last night, several loyal readers were amazed at the amount of content I produce. They thought I spent most of my time creating and spreading content as part of my content marketing strategy. In fact, I spend about an hour a day actually creating content for myself. Of course, I also create content for major clients, while my community managers create content for other clients.

What’s the secret to my content marketing strategy?

  1. Discipline – I set aside time every day to write and I’ve done it for YEARS. A college professor said you throw away the first 10,000 words you write. So, getting past the first 10,000 words quickly means you’ll create salvageable writing faster.
  2. Read voraciously – I read a lot of content written by leaders in related topics (and curate the best to my social networks). When I sit down to craft a post, I already know which topics are trending, have resources to add value to my posts, and know what I can add to the conversation.
  3. Organization – maintain a content marketing calendar outlining post topics, resources needed, keywords, and due dates. This means you’re not staring at a blank computer screen hoping for inspiration to meet your blogging needs.
  4. Knowing your target audience and how to reach them — what are their problems, preferred social networks, and how to reach them.
  5. Understanding the dynamics of individual social networks to optimize returns

Getting the most from your content marketing strategy

Many things contribute to the success of your content marketing strategy, but today we’re going to talk about crafting the perfect post to share on each social network. Having these templates speeds production of content and helps overcome writer’s block that can easily derail your content marketing strategy.

Today’s infographic, from My Clever Agency, provides great templates to help craft posts that support your content marketing strategy. Since they’ve done such a good job, I won’t go into a lot of detail, but several important elements stand out because they greatly impact your content marketing strategy. Plus, a few things changed since they originally published this infographic.

Call to action (CTA) in your content marketing strategy

Never assume readers know what you expect them to do. Ask them.

If you want folks to sign up for your electronic newsletter, include a link and ask them.

But, don’t forget your ask should be proportional to the value your provide, rather than totally self-serving. This works on most social networks. A colleague even told me I should use a stronger ask, but I prefer the subtle suggestion.

Thus, after crafting a blog post of significant value, I welcome readers to sign up for my newsletter or contact me for more information. I never ask this when sharing content on social networks because I haven’t earned that right, yet. Instead, ask questions and invite connections to read the entire post for the answers.

It isn’t appropriate to include CTA on some social networks. Networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest just don’t work when adding CTA either due to the format of shares or because of social norms on the site — or both.

Images in your content marketing strategy

Images are an important element of your content marketing strategy and becoming more important all the time. Images should fit your content, but also be provocative — leading readers to your site because they are drawn by the image.

Sign up at image sharing sites or create your own custom images, but beware of Google’s new capability to detect stolen images. So, pay for images or use those offered through creative commons or risk the wrath of Google. ‘nough said.

Photoshop should become your best friend unless you can afford a graphic designer. Photoshop has a steep learning curve, but it’s worth the effort. Creating custom memes and even using Microsoft Word to create custom word graphics is a cheap way to give your content a custom look.

Content marketing strategy – trends

I’ve noticed a trend on Facebook. Everyone is sharing video — more than images, more than plain text. Personally, I don’t like so many videos as they’re a huge time suck. But, it seems to work.

On Twitter, more folks are embedding images with their Tweets. Twitter offers an easy to use guide for adding images, which greatly increases RT and clicks, according to Jeff Bullas.

Several trends occurred recently in blogging. First, rather than the feature image taking up about half of the real estate at the top of your blog post, it’s now common to see full screen images preceding your content — just as I’ve done above. I’m not sure I like this trend, as it moves your content lower on the screen, but I’m going with the flow until I hear something negative about the practice.

The second major trend in blogging is the length of posts is increasing. It used to be you wanted posts less than about 700 – 800 words, but now I’m hearing experts advocate for posts longer than 1200 words, citing the increased performance of these longer posts. Fast Company shows a study by Copyblogger citing 1600 words as the optimal size for a post — about 7 minutes reading time. Meanwhile, Hubspot tracks blog post performance and suggests the optimal post length is — wait for it — as long as it takes to cover your subject.

Reminds me of how I answered a similar question from students asking how long their term paper should be. My answer comes from an old professor whose name is long lost in my memory, while his advice remains:

… it’s like a woman’s skirt. It should be long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to be interesting.

and, now for the CTA — drum roll please.

Need Help?

Whether you need a complete content marketing strategy or a complete metrics-driven social media strategy, we can fill your digital marketing funnel. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.

 

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The Content Marketing Game

Changes to the Google Algorithm make content marketing the hub of your SEO strategy. Do you have a sound content marketing strategy to compete in this new world? If not, here are some thoughts to get you started.

The content marketing game 

My buddy, Peter over at SocialEars, created this infographic on how to effectively play the content marketing game, which highlights critical aspects for your success. As the King and Queen say, content is really king in Google’s new algorithm.

content marketing

Create great content

Obviously, the first step is to create great content. But, what IS great content. Great content should solve problems for your readers — whether it’s giving them solutions, entertaining them, helping them build a supportive community, or just getting them thinking about things. Promotional content is NOT what they visit for and self-promotion should be subtle and used very rarely.

You also have to optimize your great content for the particular social network(s) you’re using.

Your content can live on any one of a number of social platforms – Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are the majors (LinkedIN, if you’re business to business). Other platforms also support your content efforts including YouTube, email platforms, and podcasts/webinars. Each has a particular character, so you should optimize your posts to take advantage of these differences.

Blogs deserve special attention, as these are a prime source for reaching your goals. That’s because your website is really the home for your marketing efforts – that’s where folks come to learn more about your brand, get their questions answered, and maybe even engage with other folks before buying your brand online or off. Blogs allow longer posts that give visitors the back story on your brand. Sure, social networks are great for building a community and creating a brand personality that sends folks to your website, but search still reigns supreme as a force for bringing folks to your website. And, digital conversion still mostly happens on your website.

Recent changes to Google’s ranking algorithm, most notably the new Hummingbird update, put increasing emphasis on great content in leading queries to your site. Hummingbird goes a little further by recognizing questions and delivering appropriate answers, which may reduce the ranking of straight ecommerce sites.

However, each platform deserves consideration and your strategy should include multiple platforms each with it’s own unique content. For instance, Twitter performs best with links and hashtags, Facebook with images and teaser copy, and LinkedIN favors dense content with practical value. I find questions work really well for generating engagement on Facebook, too.

Google uses both the quality of content on your site and the ability of content shared on your social networks to determine where you show up in search.

Content marketing is also a great way to attract links back to your site from other sites. I find infographics, lists, and reports (white papers) particularly effective in enticing other sites to link back to me, which helps my SEO.

Content marketing in the form of reports and ebooks helps build your email list so you continue providing great content to a pre-qualified group of visitors.

User generated content

A great way to increase engagement and drive more visits to your site involves getting user-generated content. Reviews work really well for ecommerce sites. Another good option for creating user-generated content is creating a forum or bulletin board where users exchange advice, ask questions, and share their experiences.

User-generated content can also come through contests, especially when users vote for their favorite. An example is the Doritos contest where users proposed new flavors. Having users create videos is another great contest option.

Make sharing an integral part of your content marketing strategy

Make it easy for folks to share your content by including sharing icons on blogs and email newsletters. The infographic is a great example of being both sharable and maintaining your branding once content is shared. You’d be surprised how many infographics don’t contain the brand logo, let alone a link taking folks back to your website to learn more.

Sharing is critical for the success of your content marketing strategy because it amplifies your message, bringing new visitors into your social graph.

NEED HELP

We’re here for you. Whether you need a complete social media marketing strategy or some consulting to optimize your existing social media marketing, we can fill your digital marketing funnel. We can help you do your own social media marketing better or do it for you with our community managers, strategists, and account executives. You can request a FREE introductory meeting or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.

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Social Media Marketing: Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Last week I participated in a discussion on the CMO group in LinkedIn regarding whether websites were old school and blog sites new school (Posted by John Tantillo, PhD). Here’s my comment on that topic:

Angela Hausman • Good questions, John. I think it depends. For well-known brands, like Apple and Macy’s, consumers likely search for them. But, for businesses relying on search to bring traffic — and leads/ sales — to them, fresh, rich, valuable content is increasingly important in search algorithms and will likely stay that way. Similarly, without content, a social media marketing strategy is hard to sustain — after all, there are only so many contests and special offers your can make through social networks before they lose appeal.

So, I would say the transition to content marketing is inevitable for most businesses and e-branding has little to do with that transition. In fact, content marketing establishes branding both online and off.

Angie

Then, today, I saw this cool infographic about the value of branding on Social Media Today. So, I thought I’d expand on my comments regarding the important of blogging in your social media marketing strategy.

Blogging

As you can see from the infographic, blogging is a big deal! But, we also see some problems with the way folks are blogging — namely using blogging sites or social media sites (microblogs) as the platform for their content marketing efforts. And, that’s a problem because:

  1. Blogging sites make it harder to rank well in organic search
  2. Microblogging doesn’t provide the rich content necessary to drive traffic to your website (and sell them). It’s a great add-on to your website (and blog), but shouldn’t be your only content marketing strategy — IMHO.

Blog Benefits

It’s no secret that blogging is the cornerstone of your social media strategy (some folks don’t think of blogs as social media marketing, but they are). The infographic shows why.

  1. Businesses get 100+% more leads when they incorporate a blog.
  2. Blogging increases your consumer trust.
  3. Blogging is the top reason why consumers follow your brand (and amplify your messages).
  4. More than 1/2 of readers view your company more favorably after reading your content.
  5. 70% of consumers gain awareness of your brand through your content marketing strategy.

Social Media Strategy

While some folks use a blog platform to make money or offset other costs, most of the bloggers I know use a blog in their content marketing to support their business. Big sites, like Mashable and TechCrunch, can make a living selling ad space or doing affiliate marketing, but most of us use a blog to attract visitors to our sites, build trusting relationships with customers and prospects, and inform consumers about our products. It’s a core element of our inbound marketing strategy.

My blog is the single biggest element of my business. I don’t do cold calling or send blast emails to prospects in hopes of gaining their business. I put myself out there as an expert in social media marketing — integrating marketing concepts and strong analytics — to bring in customers. And, it’s working. Every week I get several new leads from folks requesting contact using my vCita pop-up. I get more folks visiting my site and requesting contact after signing up for my email newsletter and finding great content on it.

Blogging gets you found

Without fresh, valuable, free content on your website, it’s much harder to get found in organic search. The Google algorithm (as well as ones used by Bing, Yahoo ….) include variables nearly impossible to score on without this content marketing strategy.

Content marketing

So what do you blog about? It’s really critical you blog about things your target audience finds valuable — stuff that solves problems for them. That means staying on top of trends of Facebook and Twitter and posting content that’s interesting, well-written, non-promotional, and solves consumer problems. You can’t just put up nonsense, like the embarrassment that is Miley Cyrus, unless it directly relates to your brand.JoT

 

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