“Is it just us, or do some people talk about gay dating like it’s an elaborate magic trick? Even unexperienced gay or queer persons may approach the idea of dating with the kind of abject fear one feels when opening the instructions for a new piece of IKEA furniture. ‘Am I doing this right?’ they may ask themselves, months, years and even decades into their dating careers.”
Content marketing requires manpower, so the first step is figuring out who is going to head up the program. There's no one-size-fits-all for team structure -- it depends largely on the size of your company, your marketing team, and your budget. But if we assume that those three things are interlinked, as they often are, I can provide you with some frameworks based off of other content marketing-focused companies' structures. These should help you hire the right people, and have them "sitting" in the right spot in your organization.
Visual content plays a big role in the success of a content marketing strategy. We've found that The Adobe Creative Suite will set content marketers up with everything they need to lay out ebooks, design infographics, create social images, etc. The team will find themselves in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat pretty frequently. For a free alternative, try Canva. This lightweight software makes it easy for designers of all levels to create quality visual content -- things like presentations, cover photos, ads etc.
Are you writing email marketing copy that’s just not getting the conversions you need? Getting your email marketing strategy right is both an art and a science. Part of both is understanding how to create high-converting copy. The good news is that by the time you’ve finished reading this guide, you’ll know the secrets of improving conversions from email marketing so that you can get more leads and sales.
For example, if you’re delivering a lead magnet ebook, you’ll probably have a picture of the book on both the optin form and the landing page. When you send the confirmation email, you’ll likely include the title of the ebook and the same image again. And the copy will match, too. This reassures readers that they’re getting what they signed up for, which starts to build a trusting relationship.
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
To explain how content marketing works, we first have to agree on a definition. Unfortunately, I might've sent myself on a fool's errand -- I went through dozens of different iterations of a content marketing definition (including the somewhat flippant "content marketing is using content for marketing") and found none of them totally satisfactory. But I hate to let perfection get in the way of progress, so let's just get something down on paper so we have a basis for discussion:
It’s that, for most of us, the idea of selling something is already unnerving. Who wants to come across as a slimy salesperson? Plus, with writing, there’s a delay between copy being created and the other person reading it. You’re vulnerable without the luxury of self-correcting based on that person’s body language. You have to release your words into the ether and hope that someone receives it and acts upon it.
If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100 minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.
Low pay. Most content writing positions do not pay well, especially entry level writing positions. Small newspapers or publications are often good places to start in terms of gaining experience and contacts. But often, the compensation will be $10-$12 an hour. The average salary for content writers in the United States is $40,000 a year. Higher paying positions in the content writing field include project managers, online researchers, and proposal writers. However, you will need higher levels of experience to qualify for these positions.
I like #1, “Make em’ feel something” because of what it DIDN’T say. People like to think they’re so sophisticated and rational; “Just the facts, ma’am.” Because, armed with the facts, they will make the perfect decision. “I don’t want to be sold to, just tell me what you do and I’ll make up my own mind.” HAHAHA. The fact is, they don’t. They don’t decide AT ALL. They move on to the next shiny object, procrastinate, and don’t do anything, don’t buy anything. “Make em’ feel something” and you can move them to take ACTION.
Let's say you're using PPC as your primary means of generating leads for your business. You need more leads, and decide to bid on the term "infographic generator" for $2 a click. At the end of your month-long campaign, you generated 1,000 leads and spent $10,000. Not bad. But what about next month? You have to spend $10,000 again. And again. And again. That is, if you want the leads to keep coming. In other words, when you turn the faucet of money off, leads stop coming out. The same concept applies with list purchasing, tradeshow marketing -- anything where you don't own the property from which leads are generated. Now let's contrast that experience against, say, blogging.
You have to be clear with your copy. If you’re selling yourself as a social media marketer, you can’t simply say, “If you need a social media marketer, I’m your guy (or gal).” You want to actively show your potential clients why they should choose your services (for example, Choose me because I have five years’ worth of experience in improving social media awareness for big brands, like…).
The purpose of a product description and a case study, for example, are far different in nearly every category. From intent and formatting to length and the presentation of the final product, they have very little in common. Although both are forms of marketing copy and fulfill a general need to engage customers, that’s one of the few similarities they share.
“You know how small airplane seats are. I could barely squeeze into one, and basically I’d spill over both sides. They had to delay the flight, because they didn’t have a seat belt extension that would fit me. There was a gentleman next to me, and he just looked in complete disgust and he goes ‘I’m gonna miss my connection because you’re too fat.’”
Traditional marketers have long used content to disseminate information about a brand and build a brand's reputation. Taking advantage of technological advances in transportation and communication, business owners started to apply content marketing techniques in the late 19th century. They also attempted to build connections with their customers. For example:
Lack of creative license. Though you may think content writing will give you a chance to showcase your creativity and rousing ability with words, in fact, most content writing is seen as a way to sell a product or simply inform a reader of the facts. In a content writer role, you will likely be writing about dry or dull topics, though you may get a chance to also write copy for more engaging projects on occasion. Your employer will dictate the topics you write about, and you will need to learn to be flexible and engaged on even the most obscure or boring subjects, regardless of your personal preference.
Not all SEO suites solve the problem. Some bombard you with too much data, without providing the tools you need to sort through it and tweak your content strategy. Other SEO tools break everything down into their own proprietary system, without giving you the enough data to draw your own conclusions. And when they get it wrong, you’ll have no way of knowing until your traffic starts to crash.
To "burnish" means to rub something to a shine or gloss. It's not enough to slap some words down and hit the Send button! Take to heart the famous writing adage: "There is no great writing, there is only great re-writing." By the time you read these words, I will have tweaked them at least four times, checking for better and stronger ways to convey my message to you. I will double-triple checking for poor grammar or typos. After that, the editors at Entrepreneur.com will do it again - twice! Especially if English isn't your strong suit, write the first draft and then have it checked out by someone else. There's no shame in using an editor or editing yourself. Ideally, set your words aside for 24 hours and read them again before you send them off into the world.
Usually, businesses don't completely cease all other marketing activities and switch to content marketing cold turkey. In fact, most veteran content marketing programs typically incorporate other marketing techniques to complement their content initiatives. But the impetus for most of the companies I've worked with to initiate a content marketing program has been the need for a more cost-effective, predictable, and scalable source of traffic and leads than what they've been receiving from their current marketing programs.
With a marketing team size of around 18, your content marketing team will be staffed with all the same roles -- bloggers, long-form content creators, SEO specialists, designers -- just multiplied. Aim to have three bloggers on staff, and two employees for each of the other roles. It's wise to have one of those bloggers have expertise in editing, too, so there's someone dedicated to maintaining content quality as output increases.
I’m guilty of doing all of the above at one point or another. I think a lot of the time it’s the pressure to get up to a certain word count, whether for SEO purposes or because the employer has the idea that more content = better content. I think a lot of this fluff comes about from the quotas that are set. I know I run out of things to say when it comes to pots and pans.