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Less content is more: 7 tips to successful content marketing

More companies are increasing their content output, leading some experts to say that the growth in the amount of content is leading to content shock. Content shock is where there is more content than we can consume than there is time or interest to consume it.

There are some stats to back up the increase of content production:

  • According to Trackmaven, almost 9,000 brands have increased their content by 78 percent on average over the last two years
  • 56 percent of leading business bloggers are hiring additional resources in the next 12 months, according to Curata

And the content that is being produced is not effective. For example:

  • 51 percent of marketers think their content is average or worse, according to Contently

Are you noticing a theme? More is not always better.

Let’s think differently about our content marketing efforts.

Less content is more.

Successful content marketing will be harder to achieve in 2016, so here are seven tips to help you convert more with less content.

1. Stop producing bad content by answering your clients questions in your content

The biggest threat to content marketing is crap [view the SlideShare]. If the content you produce is not relevant to your clients, don’t produce it. A way to ensure you don’t produce bad content is to create content that answers the questions the clients are asking you. Come up with a list of questions that your customers or clients are asking you and write content to answer those questions. You may want to review your frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of your website and turn those questions into content for your blog or magazine.

Another key to stopping the production of bad content is to avoid talking about your company and producing content that is helpful (not promotional). Read the 6 principles of great content brands. It may be helpful to think of your content like a TV series that has an overall theme and each episode tells the story or theme of the series.

2. Concentrate on one channel for your content

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says that marketers should concentrate on one channel such as a blog, a video series or a podcast. He points to how the greatest media brands of all time such as The New York Times, ESPN and The Huffington Post started out by dominating one channel (print, TV, blog) before they launched additional channels. According to Content Marketing Institute research, publish content using 12 tactics with the distribution of their content to an average of five social media networks.

Look at your analytics, what channel is the most successful for you? The digital body language of your customers or clients is probably giving you the answer. You don’t need to be on every channel if your target audience is not on that channel. With limited resources, it is important to concentrate on one or two channels rather than three, four or even five.

3. Be the media; your competition is bigger than you may think

In today’s content marketing world where you can publish directly to your clients or customers without going to traditional media outlets, you are up against more than just your direct competitors. You are up against everyone who is producing content on the same topic – whether that be an indirect competitor, the traditional media such as industry trade outlets or even Wikipedia. That is why it is important to coordinate your content efforts so you act like a newsroom instead of a marketing department.

How do you compete against so many different competitors?

Make sure your team is flexible bur firm so that your team can create consistent, relevant and meaningful content. You will also need to expand the reach of your team beyond just the marketing team so other teams can help contribute and share your content. You may also want to develop a content marketing steering committee or advisory board to include different people from different parts of the business to help you produce the right content for the right audience to meet your company’s goals.

As Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, says, “don’t beg the media, be the media.” To be the media you should take some tips from professional journalists to create stories that don’t promote a product or service, develop editorial guidelines and validate sources of information. Assemble a diverse content marketing team so you can produce compelling videos, publish articles that are not skimmed and have high-quality photos that are helpful for your customers so that you become the go-to information source instead of going to your competitors. Finally, know and master the fundamentals of content marketing.

4. Optimize your past content

Stop focusing on only new content. Remember that your old content has staying powering. Optimize your old content so it is fresh, up-to-date and can generate even more traffic and conversions. According to HubSpot analysis of their historical data, 76 percent of their monthly blog views come from old posts (published prior to that month) and 92 percent of monthly blog leads also come from old posts. Some of the best content I have produced on this blog, I wrote years ago.

By conducting a content audit using free tools such as these free 5 content audit tools, you can determine what gaps you have in your content, what you need to make your content better and figure out if you have any content archipelagos – a group of content that is rarely visited and doesn’t resonate well with your targeted audience. During this content audit, you may find out that you found a content gem that you didn’t know was so successful.

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Old content has staying power. Optimizing old content is a great way to generate more traffic and figure out what content is resonating with your audience.

5. Add high-quality imagery to all of your content

According to Moz analysis of their content, they found out that posts with images receives more links than posts without images. The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text. According to HubSpot, content gets 94 percent more views with compelling visual elements and graphics.

Read why visual content is a social media secret weapon. To help you find those quality images, you may want to read 14 free stock photo websites, 25 places to find free photos and 7 websites for free and beautiful stock photos.

6. Create easy to read content with strong headlines and call to actions

It is important to create content that is easy to read. Have you read content that was long winded or used big words? Was it easy to scan and quickly comprehend? Without easy-to-read content, your approach to content marketing will most likely fail.

Readability

Readability is important for search engine optimization (SEO), usability and ensure Google is rating your website high in search results. Use words that the right number of syllables and the right sentence length. The readability of the content impacts how well or poorly your content will perform in the search results. Figure out how well your content reads by using the readability score tool.

Compelling headlines

Beyond just overall readability, it is important that the start and finish of your content guides the reader’s experience. Make sure your headline and sub-headline capture the essence of your content. Analyze your headlines using tools like these 10 free keyword research tools to write compelling headlines.

Call to actions

It is very important to include call to actions in your content, especially your best performing content. A strong call to action (the “what”) encourages and provokes your readers to respond.  One of the actions could be to view the SlideShare content of your article or vice versa. One of the call to actions could be to read the article version of your SlideShare content. Learn how to repurpose your content on SlideShare. Other call to actions could include read related content, download an eBook or white paper or call/email us for help on the topic. If you include your call to action up top and again at the end of the content, you encourage more clicks.

7. Repurpose your content and develop a strategy for types of content

Repurposing content is critical for all of us with tight marketing budgets and to ensure our marketing messages consistently reach our target audiences. Have you used channels like SlideShare to get more out of your content? Read why SlideShare is the perfect vehicle for extending the life of your content.

To ensure you have a strategy for the different types of content you produce and curate, you may want to use a pyramid-based approach. It improves the long-term efficiencies and effectiveness of your content marketing operations and helps you produce more content with less effort. The foundation of this pyramid starts with curated content. Read the five free content curation resources that can save you time.

By using this pyramid when you think about your content, you incorporate the best practices of content marketing. You ensure your audience sees your key marketing messages in several places at different times; your audience sees key messages in multiple shapes and sizes; and it extends your reach beyond your websites.

Bringing it All Together

Don’t take my word for it. Brafton wrote up a case study about how a financial services company wrote fewer articles that were more in-depth. It boosted web traffic and sales. Instead of pumping out tons of content, make sure you have a content marketing strategy where less content can help your bottom line efforts. It is getting harder and harder with more people understanding the power of content marketing so now is a great time to re-think your content marketing efforts so that you can beat the content shock.

What tips would you add to this list to overcome the content shock?

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10 free keyword research tools for writing compelling headlines

Whether you are writing headlines or copy for your website, blog posts, or news releases, keyword research can help you write better. You will know what words your audience cares about, how they search for things and how they group keywords together. Some of the benefits of optimizing keywords:

  • Increases website traffic
  • Improves visibility in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo
  • Raises your odds your audience finds it valuable to share via their social networks
  • Generates ideas for future content creation and curation

Keyword research is the foundation of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and a key component of your content marketing strategy.

Here are 10 helpful keyword research tools worth exploring:

1. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

This headline analyzer scores your overall headline quality and helps you determine the right amount of words for your headlines. It also make sure you have a balance of emotional and power words to ensure your headlines are readable and compelling. Make sure you read: How To Write The Best Headlines That Will Increase Traffic.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

2. SerpStat.com

This website is so to the point, it doesn’t have a name. It is a free keyword suggestions tool, providing you with search suggestions based on popular keywords in Google searches and the different forms used by people looking for things. It collects and aggregates search suggestions and gives you a free report.

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3. WordTracker

This tool reveals the best keywords related to your search term. It shows you how much traffic keywords get and what words you may want to focus on. The one drawback is that it is geared for you to sign up for their paid version with their “continue your research” button after you get the quick analysis.

Wordtracker

4. SEMrush

This website provides you with analytics once you enter in your website, geared toward the digital marketer. You get information about your competitors and individual keywords that are performing well for them. You even get insight into keyword difficulty and backlink information.

SEMRush

5. SpyFu

This website great for an overview of keywords. It provides you with number of monthly searches, ranking difficulty and profitable related keywords. You can enter in a name of a competitor and it provides you with an overview of what keywords, links are working well for them, what their pay per click ads look like and much more.

SpyFu

6. UberSuggest

This tool provides you with helpful keyword suggestions where you can learn about specific topics. It gives you suggestions such as if you add a word that starts with an “a” to your set of keywords. It gives a word for every word of the alphabet to help you with long tail keywords. Make sure you read The Beginners Guide to SEO: Keyword Research.

Ubersuggest

7. Google’s Keyword Planner

This website is the traditional one that most people use. Recently, Google has required you to sign up for a Google AdWords account before you can use it. It is a tool that provides you with keyword idea and traffic estimates.

Google Keyword Planner

8. Bing Keyword Research Tool

If I mentioned Google, the # 1 search engine tool, it would be wrong if I didn’t mention the second most popular search engine: Bing. Here is a list of the most popular search engines.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

9. SEO Chat

This tool shows you how keywords look side by side in sites like Google, Bing, YouTube and Amazon. It is great for brainstorming topics and content and showing how users may search differently on YouTube  for entertainment purposes vs. Amazon for buying purposes.

SEOChat

10. KeywordTool.io

This website allows you to search keywords in Google, Bing, YouTube and the App Store. It generates more than 750 suggestions for every keyword. It is one of the only tools that allows you to search the App Store, according to InternetMarketingNinjas.com.

keywordtool.io

Bonus! 11. Google Trends

This tool can help you explore topics and see how the popularity of certain words have grown such as content marketing.

Google Trends

 

What free tools do you use to ensure you write headlines that command your audience’s attention?

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10 ways to grow your Twitter influence

How do you grow your influence and measure it on Twitter?

That is the question that many companies, organizations and individuals are trying to answer, now more than ever.

Edelman has created a popular tool that measures an individual’s importance on Twitter called TweetLevel. This tool can help you understand and quantify the importance levels of Tweeters and their usage of Twitter. However, judging a person’s true level of influence is tough to define, even though many people have provided a great start.

While doing research for this blog post, I came across several great articles, blog posts and resources to share. Social media expert Brian Solis has a post about Make tweet love – Top tips for building Twitter relationships and prevential.com has an excellent resource titles How to attract and influence people on Twitter.

With all this information on this topic, I brainstormed my own list of tips for my readers to share ways to boost your ranking on this social media platform. Below you’ll find my top 10 ways to grow your Twitter influence.

1. Think like a reporter or a copy editor

With only 140 characters, every word, space and punctuation counts. Make sure each tweet is so compelling that your followers will stop to read what you have to say in the crowded and noisy Twitter universe. Today, it is all about telling a story and telling it well.

2. Content is king

Make sure you have content that is worth posting and that engages your followers and prospective followers. The Internet Activity Index released by the Online Publishers Association provides a unique way of looking at consumer engagement online.

3. Be generous

Engage with other tweeters by re-tweeting content that you find interesting. Think of your tweets as your online journal that you can reference on your public timeline. It is easy to RT tweets that you like of others — and the added bonus is that you’ll have those tweets in your stream for future reference. Not only are you helping yourself, you are spreading the word for others. People you RT will be more likely to follow you back and spread the word about you.

4. Be a resource for others

Add value with each tweet or retweet. Make sure that when you are tweeting, you treat each one like an email. Sending too many emails decreases your credibility. Make sure that when you have something to say, your followers think it’s worthwhile.

5. Take Twitter offline

Arrange for a phone call or coffee meeting with interesting tweeps that you follow. Or attend or create a Tweet-up in your area. Check out Twtvite, an event manager tool that helps you create and learn about TweetUps.

6. Listen

Try to read of your followers Tweets and follow the most popular hashtags like #SocialMedia and #FollowFriday and industry hashtags that affect your job or interests like #PR or #Marketing. I would also suggest checking out the #hashtags Web site that tracks the most popular hashtags on Twitter and provides details about those hashtags.

7. Be relevant

Try as much as possible to link to articles or post something that is new and newsworthy. For example, I recently tweeted an article from TMZ that claimed the Tiger Woods injuries in the car accident were caused by his wife, not his collision. It was one of my most popular tweets.

8. Quality over quantity

There is a big temptation to get as many followers as possible. The key is to have a quality following over a large quantity of followers. As Twitter becomes more popular, more and more spammers (and the porn industry) will want to become your friend. Check out How to get more followers: Some methods that work for some more information.

9. Patience is a virtue

A large following doesn’t occur overnight. It takes a while to build a loyal following. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your following. Be persistent and continue to invest time in growing your network on Twitter.

10. Treat others as they want to be treated

It is a twist on the golden rule. Find out how your followers like to interact with others and engage with them in a similar fashion.

What do you think? What are some others ways you can grow your influence on Twitter?