No, really. These guys and gals know what they're talking about. And today, you'll learn how to put their content marketing advice into practice.
You don’t have to subscribe to hundreds of newsletters.
You don’t even have to set up a Google trend alert to make sure you don’t miss a shiny new thing.
And no matter if you’re the head of (content) marketing at your company, or a small business owner, read on and you’ll learn everything you need to give your content marketing strategy a boost!
1. Cole Schafer: Why do your customers buy?
Every guide, blog post, and article we publish has to move our leads closer towards trusting us enough to purchase our products.
Now, this isn’t as easy as saying:
“I’ve got a cool product! Won’t you check it out? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top?”
You’ve gotta be subtle.
According to Cole Schafer, there are only 2 main reasons why people buy:
- They want to feel good (i.e. move closer to pleasure)
- They want to minimize their pain (i.e. move further away from pain)
In content marketing terms, this means that you should empathize with your customers.
Offering an email marketing service or a tool? Then you know all about the pain of their emails going straight to the spam folder. (Fortunately, you can help.)
Selling jewelry? Wouldn’t it be nice for your customer to get all the attention in the room? (Plus, it’s really, really durable and high-quality.)
- Know why your customers buy your products
- Do they want to solve a problem?
- Do they want to feel better?
- Understand the basic emotion that makes them buy your products
- Offer them objective reasons to rationally explain that decision (e.g. the jewelry isn’t just pretty; it’s high-quality and they can pass it down to their kids)
2. Harry Dry: How to promote your content
I love the optimism in marketers' eyes when they hit "Publish" on that shiny, new piece of content and think that their work is done.
(Spoiler alert: it's not. I'm sorry.)
If you want your content to attract new leads and customers for your business, you have to make sure they see it.
Now, if you’ve been in the SEO game for a while, search engines might send you free, qualified traffic.
But if you haven’t (and if you want to get even more customers), you've gotta promote that baby!
Harry Dry, the man behind one of the most practical newsletters today - Marketing Examples, recently shared his content promotion process.
He doesn’t link to his content on different platforms. He adjusts his content and uploads it natively to different platforms:
- Turn your article into Twitter threads
- Share your entire article on Reddit and communities like Indie Hackers
- Pull quotes from your article
- Create interesting graphics for Instagram, Facebook, and other visual social networks
- If you share direct links, make sure the headline angle fits the community’s perspective
The key is to add extra value every step of the way.
I recommend getting acquainted with every platform you plan on using.
If you’re a part of the community, it becomes much easier to understand what community wants to read from you, and how they want you to put it.
The example above is awesome. The Hacker News commuity is more interested in inspirational content about marketing. GrowthHackers, on the other hand, want to get right to work and get actionable tips.
- Promote your content by uploading it natively whenever possible
- Consider different angles and formats for different channels
- Participate in your target communities
3. Seth Godin: Storytelling, anyone?
If you’ve been in content marketing for a while now, you probably remember how, back in the day, everyone and their mothers used the following phrase:
“Content is king!”
Well, I’m here to tell you that today, we have a new variation:
This time around, the madding marketing crowd was right: there’s just something different about telling a story.
Seth Godin recommends adding storytelling elements to your regular content marketing style:
- Use a specific tone of voice
- Offer your perspective, anecdotes, and examples
- Follow the storytelling plot progression: set the scene in the beginning and connect with the reader, explain the problem, and then offer ways to solve it
Personally, I love the last tip.
There’s nothing better than starting your article with a personal experience, or an interesting anecdote that your target audience can relate to.
And often, it’s as simple as starting with something like:
“The last time I was in Miami, I met Mary. She’d been running a small business for five years and the only thing she told me about the experience of marketing it was: ‘I’d rather sit on a pincushion.’ I made it my mission to help her.”
This paragraph tells your audience two things:
- This is going to be a funny and helpful read
- Mary is a small business owner
So if your audience is comprised of small business owners, they’ll have a much easier time relating to her.
It also gives your article an emotional component.
Suddenly, the reader is no longer there just for the advice - they’re there because they wanna see what you told Mary.
- You don’t have to be JK Rowling - you just have to give your readers a character or a situation they can relate to (e.g. “The last time my newsletter ended up in the spam folder, I considered packing everything up and moving to Tibet.”)
- Don’t have the time to tell a story with your content? Sign up for ContentFly and we'll get it done for you
4. Mitt Ray: What kind of content does your audience want to see?
Audience research is the single most important aspect of your marketing. If you can figure out what your audience wants, you can figure out everything.
(No, really. It's problems like audience research that drove Don Draper to martinis and questionable life choices.)
So let's nip this in the bud and get you making healthier choices!
The next time you’re planning a content strategy, take a page out of Mitt Ray’s book:
In practice, starting content marketing audience research is really easy.
Simply plug in the keywords your target audience uses into the Google Search, and pay attention to the results you see in the SERPs.
And guess what? The results are mainly in-depth articles because that’s what the searchers want to see and consume.
Moving on, I’m going to need some expert help on learning how to bake an apple pie. Right now, my cooking skills are maxed out at frying an egg.
Here’s what the SERPs have got to offer:
In this particular SERP, you can see that there are a lot of interactive recipe posts using the Schema markup, as well as videos. This tells you that you ought to grab your camera ASAP.
Pro tip: Pay attention to the original publishing dates behind the most popular content pieces. Chances are, they’re so useful that they’ve become evergreen, so take a page out of their books when creating your own content.
From there, you can dig even deeper.
If you’re creating blog content, take a look at the content types your target audience likes:
- Ultimate guides
- Case studies
If you’re creating video content, your viewers might be interested in:
- Perform Google searches for your target keywords
- Identify the most popular content formats and types
- Understand why they're popular and which (sub) topics they cover
- Make your content even better (e.g. make it more comprehensive)
5. Jeremy Miller: How to promote your business in a recession
Look, COVID threw us all for a loop. But while some businesses may be considering cutting their marketing budgets, Jeremy Miller and I agree on one thing:
Don’t cut your marketing budget.
Instead, be smart about it.
As Miller wrote in his post on Sticky Branding, it may be counter-intuitive, but without marketing, there can be no customers.
(And we know what happens when you’re not getting any.)
There are 3 things to keep in mind:
First, you need to reduce the perceived purchasing risk.
Focus your content efforts on addressing potential objections your customers might have. Then, show them that their purchase won't be risky at all.
Often, businesses resort to offering payments in installments. If you don't want to go there yet, I recommend doubling-down on what makes your product or service so successful.
If you’re a marketer, double down on case studies and explain how you helped your clients achieve phenomenal results. Make sure you use exact numbers and examples.
If you’re offering a product, focus on the long-term values of it.
During a recession, consumers shy away from impulse purchases and instead focus on high-quality products that bring them long-term value.
They also shop smarter, so add more comparison reviews with your competitors to your blog, and you’ll get great results on a budget.
Yes, it can take a while to write all that awesome content.
You’ll be getting professional writers who write with your audience and your goals in mind.
The best part?
Content marketing really pays off. When you acquire customers through content, your customer acquisition costs are 15% lower, and businesses with blogs get 67% more leads than companies without them.
So even if you need to cut your budget, make sure you invest it into recession-proof marketing methods that continuously generate results such as content marketing and SEO.
Secondly, (content) marketing during a recession gives you a competitive advantage.
Are your competitors cutting their budgets? Awesome! This means there’s more room for you to capture their (potential) customers.
Again, there’s nothing like comparison reviews and reviews in general.
Firstly, that type of content targets searchers who are already looking for products like yours. They're more likely to buy.
Secondly, you’re showing the leads why you’re better than other products in the market.
And since your competitors are penny-pinching and cutting back on marketing, you’re getting more airtime.
It’s a win-win!
Finally, focus on your customers’ shifting needs.
After this whole mess that we’ve gotten ourselves into, nothing matters more than empathy:
- Get in touch with your customers - if you’re in B2B, schedule a meeting or a phone call; if you’re in B2C, a survey or social media could do fine
- Ask your customers what they’re struggling with, and how your product could help (R&D time!)
- Has the way they use your products changed?
Then, use those insights to polish your content marketing strategy.
Don’t only focus on providing new leads with content that will get you their trust. Instead, focus on retaining loyal customers, as well.
Often, this can be done through tutorials that will help them maximize the use of your product.
For example, Canva has a really good blog that covers practical design tips, best-of template lists, as well as inspirational content.
- Work smarter, not harder - don’t cut your marketing budget
- Instead, invest it into methods like content marketing that generate significant ROI
- Do more than your competitors
- Use this time to learn more about your customers, and strengthen your relationship with them
6. Andy Crestodina: Repurpose and re-promote your content
Once you’ve written your amazing content (or commissioned it from ContentFly’s superhero writers), it’s time to set the gears in motion.
I really loved Harry Dry’s advice from the beginning of this article. However, Andy Crestodina offers even more ways to promote and re-promote your content in his article.
Seriously, make sure you save that content sharing process. It’s golden!
Step 1. Pre-publishing promotion
I already talked about using social media and message boards like Reddit and Quora to source your topics and gauge interest.
You can apply the same thing here. Start a conversation about your chosen topic to see who engages, and how interested they are.
If you’re doing it on Twitter or Facebook, jot down any influencers who show interest in the topic.
You could even quote them in your article, which means they’ll be more likely to help you amplify it once it’s published.
Step 2. Content optimization
Once you’ve created your content with keywords and topics in mind, it’s time to optimize it:
- Create infographics and visuals to help you promote it across different channels
- Link to the new post from old posts, and vice versa for that sweet, sweet internal linking SEO juice
- Add social sharing buttons for notable quotes
Step 3. Share and repurpose your content
Let’s say you’ve got yourself a great article. Your first step?
Sharing it on social media.
But don't just hit it and quit it.
Like Harry Dry earlier explained, you can easily turn your article into a series of threads, pose questions, and so on. This gives your content an added dose of dynamism.
For visual social networks, consider infographics and other visuals you’ve created.
However, you don’t have to stop there.
There are plenty of ways to repurpose your content.
My personal favorite is using Lumen5 to turn your article into a video. From there, you can add the video to your article for folks who prefer watching (it’ll also boost your dwell time), share it on YouTube and TikTok, and so on.
If you’ve made a list of people who engaged with your post in the pre-promotion stage, make sure you send them a DM and ask them what they think, or mention them in your social posts.
Finally, don’t forget to regularly re-share your best performing content pieces.
Not every member of your audience is online at the same time. Jog their memory by periodically resharing your content.
You can always breathe a new life into your evergreen content pieces by repurposing them as something else.
- Start gauging and building interest around your content even before you publish it
- Optimize your content for shares by mentioning influencers, offering social share buttons, etc.
- Re-purpose and periodically re-share your content
7. Doug Kessler: Leads aren't the only folks you should be thinking of
A lot of marketers think that content is good for one thing and one thing only: getting new leads into your funnel.
Of course, content marketing is great at getting you qualified traffic. But it’s also great at helping you nurture relationships with your customers.
As Doug Kessler explains, you should also create content that reinforces your brand and your values.
A simple way to get started with on-brand content is to blog about your journey:
- Ups & downs
Personal stories will help humanize your business in the eyes of your customers.
For example, SaaS companies and startups often like sharing the stories of their founders. If they were struggling with the same problem as their customers, you can bet that's going to make the entire company more relatable!
- Don't just post content to attract search traffic
- Add pieces on your own journey to your content marketing strategy, and help your customers relate to you and your brand
8. Lilach Bullock: Optimize your content for conversions
Maximize your content’s earning potential with Lilach Bullock’s advice:
When you’ve created a few contextually-related posts, bundle them and turn them into a PDF. Then, start offering them as a lead magnet on your website, in exchange for your leads’ email addresses.
This is the easiest possible way to get more bang for your content buck!
Of course, make sure that your content also contains CTAs (calls to action) telling readers what you want them to do next:
- Content for cold audiences (top-of-the-funnel searchers)? Invite them to download your lead magnet
- Content for an audience that's ready to buy a product like yours? Offer them a demo/consultation/samples
- Content for a warm audience? Sell!
- Your content should be valuable, but make sure it’s also actionable
- Include CTAs within your content that correspond to the reader’s funnel stage (e.g. a reader who found your comparison review is likely to be interested in the demo of your product)
9. Benji Hyam: Be careful with competitor research
AKA: What works for Coca Cola might not work for you.
Different companies’ marketing strategies have different goals.
For example, Coca Cola doesn’t really need to convince people to buy their drinks by listing their features and benefits. It’s enough for them to create kooky marketing campaigns.
If you only have a handful of customers, your strategy will have to be different.
Similarly, MailChimp can afford to launch a creative series on freelancers around the world, whereas their smaller competitors have to focus on getting highly qualified traffic through useful email marketing content first.
Benji Hyam agrees with me on this one:
You should absolutely look at what your competitors are doing. But make sure you identify their growth stage:
- How many customers do they have?
- Who are they targeting with their content?
- What kind of results are they getting?
In the beginning, I definitely recommend creating evergreen and pillar content.
Look up your target keywords with BuzzSumo, find the content that works best for your industry and identify the competitor's stage of growth, and then focus on repurposing and resharing it if it fits.
Pro tip: Understand how your competitors got their traffic. BuzzSumo will show you who linked to them, and how many shares they got. If their main traffic channel is social media and they have millions of followers, their content might not be the best option for you. It's best to get inspiration from competitors who get their traffic from search engines.
Not in the mood for writing? No problem. Check out ContentFly!
- When performing competitor research, make sure you’re learning from competitors in the similar stages to yours
- Pay attention to small names standing out in big search results pages
10. Kira Leigh: Do the unexpected
... like being funny on LinkedIn.
Let me explain: there’s always a “standard” way to produce content for a particular channel.
For example, LinkedIn is for LinkedIn broetry, right?
Well, either that or super serious case studies.
So what happens when you do the unexpected and post something like this to LinkedIn?
According to Kira Leigh, that’s when you actually stand a chance at capturing attention.
The first thing posting fun content does is that it shows you think of your leads as people.
You don’t just want to give them advice related to your products. You also want to build a relationship with them.
(This is really powerful stuff in the day and age where the majority of people say: “Marketing ruined everything.”)
Secondly, you’re standing out from the regular results.
I can imagine my LinkedIn search right now. Link, link, broetry, link, link - wait, is that a meme? On LinkedIn?
If that meme (or any other funny post) is followed by interesting content, and a question at the end to engage everyone who comes across it, you’ve got yourself a winning formula.
- Social media is the place to be social, so experiment with different types of content and make your audience laugh whenever possible
- Engage your audience with questions and polls
- Be consistent
11. George Stenitzer: All you have to do is answer your audience's questions
Answering your customers’ questions is really at the core of content marketing. I know, we’ve all dug ourselves into a hole where we jump through hoops like little circus monkeys, trying to do the next best thing.
But let’s be real: it all starts (and ends) with answering your audience’s questions:
- The questions you’ll actually see on Google when you look up your target keyword
- The questions your customers ask their friends or colleagues (on social media or face-to-face)
- The questions your customers don’t know they need an answer to
- The questions your customers are afraid to ask
George Stenitzer explains the idea and the process in his article.
But let’s get practical - how can you find, and use, the questions your customers have?
Finding customer questions if your business is new
There’s nothing like Answer The Public. Seriously. They’ve got you covered. Then, just plug in the questions into a keyword research tool to see the search volume.
You can also turn to social media (hello, Facebook Groups!) or message boards like Reddit.
Paying attention to your existing customers
This is an all-hands-on-deck situation. You’re going to need your customer service to jot down all the questions your customers ask.
These can be related to using your product, as well, which will give you plenty of ideas for knowledge base content and future posts.
This is an example from my own inbox.
I use Moosend for all my email marketing needs. And here they are, nurturing their relationship with me as a customer by sending me an useful article on LinkedIn marketing.
I’ve got to admit - it’s been on my mind for a while. Maybe this is the thing that pushes me over. And if it does, and I onboard even more people to my mailing list, Moosend will have the privilege of charging me a little bit more.
It's a win-win.
This is another example, this time from Agorapulse, who’ve made a name for themselves by creating and posting about their social media experiments.
From evaluating which ads work better (Facebook videos or carousels), to calculating organic CTR for different post formats, they’re really out there helping their customers succeed.
(In this case, they want me to get off my chair and breathe some life into that IG acc.)
You can also ask your customers which goals they want to achieve.
This is the part that’s going to show you the unheard questions.
Your customers might want to use your product to grow their sales, but they’re not sure how to phrase their question. This is where you come in, nurturing your relationships with incredibly useful content (that’s also going to rank well on SERPs).
- Curiosity didn’t kill the content marketer
- Find out what questions your customers have
- Jot them down and organize them into topic buckets
- Create the content and serve/promote it through relevant channels
11 ways to make it big?
Prepping this article, I’ve gone through hundreds of Twitter profiles of content marketing experts.
Want to know what I’ve seen on 99% of these “revolutionary” profiles, proclaimed as the next big thing that's going to rock your world and leave you clutching your pearls?
“You need to plan out and analyze your content strategy!”
In 2020, this isn’t news.
In 2020, we need to be smarter about our content. We need better advice.
We need to create awesome content, and then make sure we promote it just like we would promote products.
And the best way to do that is to become really, really curious about your customers:
- Who are they?
- What do they want to achieve?
- What makes them tick?
And once you’ve found their “Why,” it’s time to show them how to succeed.
Fortunately, we’ve got your back.
Are you ready to make some magic?