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It seems to be a thing now: Long form content is said to be ranking higher and engaging more readers. Long-form content is generally content that has more than 2000 words.
  • Ranks higher: Garrett Moon analyzed the first page rankings of 6 keywords and found that the top 5 results averaged more than 2,000 words.
  • Gets more links: HubSpot analyzed ~6,000 articles and found 2000-word articles got both more backlinks and social shares
  • Converts better: CrazyEgg found that long-form content converted 30% higher than short-form content.
Which of the above comes first (e.g. do rankings bring more backlinks or more backlinks bring higher rankings?) doesn't really matter. One thing that counts is: Long-form content generally performs better. Of course, long-form content is not a magic button: It doesn't rank just because it's long. Furthermore, it doesn't work for everyone, or in every niche. However, generally, it seems the reader tends to expect long in-depth content these days, and so does Google. So if you want to see your site organic rankings to steadily grow, turning your old content into long-form assets is a good place to start. Optimizing old content is different from optimizing new content because you are able to work on your own data and improve on your own progress. But First, Download These Content Marketing Templates It’s going to be awfully hard to launch some amazing long-form content if your implementation and team coordination is a mess. Download these free content marketing templates to help you get organized. You'll find:
  • A Content Plan Template to help you measure and learn from your success.
  • An Email Marketing Template to distribute and communicate your new initiative.
  • A Blog Calendar Template to plan every post ahead of time in one place.
[Cookie "Get Your Content Marketing Bundle || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Blog-Leah-Long-Form-Content_Download.png || Download Bundle || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Content-Marketing-Bundle-1.zip"] 1. Identify Most Linked-to Content: Ahrefs I use a variety of criteria when determining whether old content has any value at all. This includes traffic (and traffic history) and social media shares page 2 rankings (as these have some potential) and I encourage everyone to look at all of these when doing content pruning. But for the sake of focus, in this tutorial, I'll limit myself to one: Backlinks. So why only one and why backlinks? Aren't backlinks going away? No, they are not going anywhere. Backlinks are the essence of the Internet: That's how all web pages are connected, how content is being discovered by search engines and human beings. And above all, backlinks are the strongest signal of quality. Simply put, if you want to achieve rankings, you need backlinks. And of all search ranking signals, backlinks also happen to be the hardest to get. So put one and one together: Old pages with most backlinks are likely to rank high easier, when (re-)optimized and updated. To identify most linked-to content on any site, I use Ahrefs which solves this problem with one step: Simply input your domain and proceed to Pages -> Best by links report. Ahrefs will determine this domain pages with most backlinks listing "dofollow" and "nofollow" links separately for your convenience: Export this report to an excel document and proceed to the next step: Identifying which keywords to optimize your content for. 2. Identify Your Lowest-Hanging Fruit: Finteza and Google's Search Console At this point you want to find answers to two questions:
  • Which search queries are currently sending me most engaged traffic?
  • Which queries have some potential to send me more traffic?
So: Which search queries are currently sending me most engaged traffic? To answer the first question, I use Finteza which is a free web analytics suite that allows you to segment your traffic and optimize your site for conversions. Of course, you need to have this tool running for a while to collect more data, so go ahead and do that now. Of all existing web analytics solutions, I prefer Finteza because it's somewhat easier to use and provides in-depth insight without having to spend time scrolling and clicking through dozens of reports. All in all, it's compact and fast which is all I could wish for. To give a practical implementation example, you can use Finteza to set up and monitor advertising zones on your site and then be able to compare how traffic from different search queries convert with each zone:   This approach offers by far the most actionable insight into your target queries: Which ones are worth pursuing? Which queries have some potential to send me more traffic? To answer the second question, I use Google's Search Console which also needs some time to collect the data, so the earlier you install it, the better. After having the tool analyze your performance for at least a couple of months, here's how you can use the data to create content optimization plan: Click "Open report" inside your "Performance" box and there:
  • Click "Average position" and CTR options to activate them (Keep "Total clicks" activated for more insight)
  • Click "New" to add another filter and there type in your URL slug to filter results to your page:
Apply the filter and you'll see all queries that bring up your page when searched: Your top priority are those queries that send you lots of clicks while ranking at #4 or lower, the logic being that if they send you traffic at that point, the traffic is going to be much higher when you manage to achieve #1. When combining the data from both of the tools, your goal is to identify 1-2 "core" phrases that you really want to focus on. These "core" terms should be included in the article title. 3. Identify More Keywords to Optimize For: Serpstat Another great thing about working on old content versus creating new content is being able to clearly see how you are doing as compared to your existing competitors. Specifically, you can see which queries are bringing them traffic and where you are lacking. Serpstat's URL vs URL section is a great tool for identifying just that: Which keywords your competing URLs are doing better than yours and which keywords you missed at all. Sometimes this analysis is called "Keyword Gap Analysis": Serpstat checks rankings of your competing URLs and compares where you stand using the interactive venn diagram. Clicking the diagram filters keywords below. If you want to find common keywords of your competitors, click the corresponding intersection. This is a great way to find some keywords you want to include to your list as well as find topics you failed to cover in your old content. 4. Identify How to Expand Your Article to Increase Its Rankings: Text Optimizer Now that we have keywords you want to focus on, let's actually identify how to expand it. Run each of your keywords, one by one, in Text Optimizer to come up with the following:
  • Related concepts and associated terms to include into your content
  • Related questions to break your articles into more logical sections
When going from keyword research to content draft, I always jot down its structure and put my keywords inside each section to remind myself of what I am going to cover inside each section. Using Text Optimizer, the process has become much easier because I can now:
  • Grab the list of questions from there
  • Fill in the blanks with partially pre-written sentences
  • Identify concepts that need additional research
To help you further in going from research to revising your content, here are few resources:
  • I also use this writing checklist to keep in mind additional things to check and include (like unique angles, stats, references, etc.) This keeps me very focused and organized.
  • Here’s a good collection of content-friendly CTAs you may want to implement into your revised content to generate leads
  • Furthermore, once you have all those new keywords to include in your content, follow these steps to expand and optimize it.
5. Put Old Content on Your New Editorial Calendar Finally, this may be a daunting process, especially if you have been working on your blog for years. It's not a one-week project that can be rushed. Handling old assets should be taken seriously because there's a goldmine of opportunity there. Getting organized is key. I suggest putting your old content on your editorial calendar as you'd do with your new content. Turn the steps above into a checklist for each asset you are planning to create. Keep your content revision process streamlined by adding this checklist to each task Once updated, your old content can be re-marketed on your social media channels as if it were a new article (including using the ReQueue functionality which is a life-saver). After all, it's improved, up-to-date and fresh - there's nothing stopping you from treating it as new. Takeaways When you wrote that article 5-10 years ago, it must have been a great one (it accumulated some links for a reason!) But content marketing is evolving fast and so do your readers' needs and expectations. Therefore updating your old content to adapt it to today's standards is a great idea. Your old content is the goldmine of opportunities because it has already earned some links and collected some data you can work with. To turn your old content into long-form articles:
  • Find where to start: Identify your most linked-to content using Ahrefs "best by links" tool. Articles that have more backlinks are likely to rank higher, even more quite competitive forms, so it makes sense to invest your time and effort into those.
  • Identify queries that already send you clicks and conversions (using Finteza and Google's Search Console). These are keywords you don't want to lose.
  • Identify missed keyword opportunities (and topics you failed to cover) using Serpstat's URL vs URL tool
  • Identify related questions (these are going to be your article sections) and related concepts (as well as those that need additional research) using Text Optimizer
  • Put your old content revision and marketing on your editorial calendar using CoSchedule and include the above tools in the task checklist to keep the process streamlined.

The post How to Turn Your Old Articles into Successful Long-Form Content appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

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How does content marketing help companies become topical authorities? It’s a seemingly simple question. One that definitely falls under the banner of “marketing 101.” Something so basic you almost shouldn’t have to ask, right? Well, sure. Most marketers would probably say so out loud. In their minds, though, they’d also be wondering whether their own content is actually authoritative. Project confidence to protect your reputation (or even your job) but internally struggle with doubt. In actual practice, building an audience and converting that audience into a customer base isn’t easy nor basic at all. Certainly not when content is your primary vehicle for reaching that destination. And if no one sees you as a topical authority, well, you can see how all of this is going around in a circle. So, what’s something concrete marketers can do to establish their expertise and attract more customers looking for the best solution to a given problem? Start with creating content hubs. Instead of dabbling around with numerous loose topics, focus your energy on creating content around one specific thing. Make it look good and easy to navigate, too. Oh, and be sure to link back to that content and give it some solid promotion. Do that consistently enough, for long enough, and eventually, you’ll start to see a shift. People start coming to you with a clear awareness of the problems you solve, and the things your product or service are meant to do. And if you’re seen as authoritative enough, they might not even bother considering your competitors. Templates to Get Started This post includes a few different templates to help you implement each step in the process of creating a hub. Here’s what you’ll need (and find in the template bundle below):
  • Marketing Calendar Template: Map out project timelines and deadlines.
  • Keyword Research Template: Store keyword ideas for your content hub.
  • Content Audit Template: Sort through the content you already have to find pieces you can repurpose.
[Cookie "Get Your Content Hub Templates! || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Blog_Build-Content-Hubs-27.png || Download Now || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/content_hub_templates_zip_5aPtwnXs.zip.zip"] What Exactly is a Content Hub? The most simple answer is it’s an interconnected collection of content focused around a single topic. This is a bigger question than it seems. That’s because there are several different ideas about how to implement this concept. One is not necessarily better or more valid than another, but it’s worth understanding exactly what someone might be describing when they use the term “content hub.” Software-Based Tools First, this term might refer to an actual software tool or platform that helps build a hub of content. You might consider CoSchedule’s Content Organizer as very loosely fitting this definition, in the sense that it provides a software solution for organizing content management, production, workflows, and promotion (and it works well for those purposes too): CAPTION: CoSchedule can be used to organize any type of content project. It might also refer to products like Scoop.it too, which help companies create and host customer-facing content hubs that are more like what the rest of this post will discuss. Source: Scoop.it Multi-Page Guides (or Topic Clusters) You’ve probably heard of the topic cluster approach to content creation. It entails creating a piece of “pillar content” targeting a popular topic, then creating and linking to supporting content targeting sub-topics around it. The idea is that creating content that targets everything around a topic (and its associated keywords) helps establish authority, improve SEO performance, and produce better results than simply creating scattershot blog content. The guide to agile marketing that CoSchedule recently created is an example of this approach in action: Topic-Focused Blog Categories Another way to create a content hub is to publish a variety of content around a topic under a defined blog category. Any blog that’s set up according to basic best practices will use categories, but making them useful by labeling them using a broad high-volume keyword, and consistently applying that category to fresh, relevant blog posts is key. Curated Hub Pages Bringing together related content from your blog, landing pages, guides, social media, and other sources is another way to build out a hub. Take a look at this example from Moz: This primary hub page does an excellent job of laying out navigational elements for finding information on different aspects of search engine optimization. Here’s what you see when you click into a section: Then, beneath the top level navigation, you can find a curated list of content they originally published elsewhere on their blog and site: This approach helps put together a hub of keyword-focused content without a ton of effort, and while better serving readers by making related pieces easier to find in context with one another. More Real-World Examples You Can Follow Now you’ve got some idea of what people might mean when they’re describing a content hub, and you’ve seen a handful of examples of what each might look like. Next, take a deeper look at even more examples and get an understanding of what makes each one stand out. Musician’s Friend Musician’s Friend’s blog is literally called The Hub, and it provides a place for all their buyer’s guides, how-to posts, videos, and more. More than just a simple blog, it also features interviews, product demonstrations, and other types of content. They wisely use it to host content that they can link to directly from product category and product line pages too: REI Outdoor equipment retailer REI hosts tons of helpful how-to content in their Expert Advice hub. Here’s a look at the main page navigation, which includes links to different areas and interests someone might research: Scrolling down brings up a curated collection of popular content: SB Nation Popular sports news outlet SB Nation features tons of blogs focused on specific sports, leagues, and teams. Each of these could be considered a hub unto itself, helping build a high number of micro-communities that allow them to offer focused niche coverage: Burpee Gardening seed and supply company Burpee forgoes a traditional blog in favor of hosting their educational content in a well-organized hub: Microsoft AI Another way to consider build a hub is to create a subsection of your blog that’s focused completely on one niche, or creating a secondary blog that achieves this goal. Take a look at Microsoft’s AI Blog: AirBnB AirBnB applies the content hub concept to their home page, curating resources and information around specific destinations from elsewhere on their site: Lyft Ride-sharing service Lyft brings their news and community content together under The Hub. It offers one place for drivers to go to find helpful information, like their driver’s guidebook, upcoming events, and more. IBM IBM’s research hub brings together all different types of content that’s all related to showing what they’re doing with cutting-edge research. So, How Do You Start Creating a Content Hub? Now it’s time to dig into how you can actually create something like this yourself. It’ll take some work, but following the process below will help guide you toward success. How you actually do this depends on what you consider to be a “content hub,” and what type of content structure makes the most sense in your own situation. Regardless of how you approach this though, you should be able to follow most of the following steps to get the work done. First, Determine Your Topic or Theme What’s something your company needs to be known for? Is there an area where you have particularly deep expertise? Are there broad topics that are currently underserved in your industry? These are the types of topics that can be great for a hub. Start with answering a few questions:
  • What does your company or service do? This might sound overly basic. And, well, it is basic. But it’s extremely important to understand in deep detail in order for your content to be even remotely effective.
  • Which topics are most important for your customers? Think top problems and current trends.
  • How might you bring content around those topics into one place? Is the topic something you already have existing content on? Such topics might make the best places to start, since you’ve already done a lot of the leg work.
Next, Do Keyword Research Doing this will require some premium keyword research tools and a clear process. Generally, you’ll need a primary keyword and a set of secondary keywords for your main hub page or “pillar content,” plus additional keywords for related pages. Start with your SEO platform or keyword research tool. Popular options include: Then, create a spreadsheet to store your ideas (or use the keyword research template that’s included in this post—you can find it in the template bundle included after the introduction). Here’s what the spreadsheet looks like: You’ll find the following fields:
  • Core Keyword: Enter your primary term here. This should be the highest-opportunity keyword that’s the most closely related to your topic.
  • Secondary Keyword: List secondary related terms in this column.
  • Search Volume: Enter search volumes for each term (gathered from your SEO toolset).
  • Difficulty: Same as above. Record how difficult it will be to rank on these terms.
  • Intent: What is someone trying to achieve when they search for this keyword? Are they looking for information? Wanting to buy a product? Note the intent here.
  • New / Old Content: Indicate whether you have existing content on this topic, or will need to create something new.
  • Type of Content: Describe the type of content that best fits this keyword (ex: educational how-to content, bottom-of-funnel product content, etc.)
At the bottom of the spreadsheet, you’ll see a number of tabs so you can create multiple lists. Create one list of keywords per tab (these will be used to determine which pages you should add to your hub in the next step). Audit Your Existing Content on Your Chosen Topic Now, once you have a topic and keywords lined up, audit your existing content to see if you have anything you can repurpose for your hub. While a full-blown content audit can be an extremely time-intensive practice, you can keep things simple and brief for your purposes here. First, you’ll need something to store your list of existing content. There’s a content audit template included in the bundle in this post that looks like this: You’ll see the following fields (some of which you’ll need to use Google Analytics, or any website analytics platform you might be using, to find):
  • Page URL: Paste in the URL for each page that might be useful to include.
  • Page views: Useful to see if your old content has any value (or if it could use some updates).
  • Avg. Time on Page: This can be a useful indicator of whether or not this content is currently getting read.
If your content is relevant to the topic but isn’t performing, then note in the green section whether it needs work, and which team member is going to take on this task. Next, do some simple keyword searches on your blog, using the keywords you’ve selected (this is helpful if you have thousands of posts on your blog, or if you aren’t personally well-aware of everything you’ve published, especially if your blog has been around for a while): You can also use Google Search Console to find existing relevant content: Image Source: Yoast Or if you have access to paid site crawling tools like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl, these are your best options for surfacing URLs on your site and blog. Check out this video from SEO consultant Chase Reiner on getting started with Screaming Frog if you’ve never used such a tool before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l8UdV3gQk4 Then, Plan Your Hub’s Pages and Architecture With your keywords and understanding of your existing content in hand, you’re ready to start planning out the content that will round out your hub. At a basic level, you’ll need to determine the following:
  • The focus for your hub’s main page. A primary keyword and page title should be sufficient for now.
  • Additional top-level navigation pages. Same as above, but for each additional top-level nav page (if you’ll have multiple navigation pages--take a look at the Lyft example earlier in this post to see).
  • What content will go into each section? This could be the specific pieces you’ll place on each page, or just a general understanding of what types of content will go where.
NOTE: You will probably need help from a developer and/or a front-end designer to figure out exactly what your team can do, and what your specific content and UX copy needs will be to get started. You’ll likely need them to provide wireframes so you’ll know exactly how things will be laid out and how much copy you need to provide.
Some other more simple ways to create a hub (depending on your approach):
  • Creating a new top-level blog category: Then, add new content underneath this category (or move blog content over, but be careful to keep your posts in a minimal number of categories—ideally just one, and at most, maybe two).
  • Planning a topic cluster-style guide: Consider either creating new content, or port over content from your blog, and implement 301 redirects.
  • Using Scoop.it to create a curated content hub: This option reduces strain on development resources.
You can do this simply by creating a basic mini-sitemap in a spreadsheet (this doesn’t need to be complicated, just something that lays out what will be included; even if you’re doing something as simple as creating a top-level blog category and calling it a “hub,” having an understanding of which content will go under it right away is helpful): Create Your Hub’s Home Page or Pillar Page Content Now you’ll need to actually start creating content. The first place to start is with your hub’s “home page” or pillar page (which is effectively the main page targeting your hub’s primary keyword, from which other supporting content either spokes off of, or is organized underneath). The home page for the hub will need the following copy elements:
  • Title tag and meta description. These are important SEO elements that shouldn’t be ignored. Use Spotibo’s free SERP Preview Tool to test what they’ll look like in search results before hitting publish.
  • Headline. Use the Headline Analyzer to make sure it's optimized.
  • Body content. Generally, there should be some copy somewhere underneath the headline and sub-headline explaining what your hub is about.
  • UX copy. This includes button text, copy for different sections, and other navigational elements.
This is worth several posts by itself, so refer to the following pieces as needed here:
NOTE: When creating this content, make sure you're not duplicating effort elsewhere in your organization, or recreating content on topics that already exist on your site. This is particularly important in large enterprises where you may have multiple blogs or content teams. Ensure that each piece is unique to avoid possible duplicate content issues.
Add Internal Links Back To Your Hub Once your hub is built and pushed live, be sure to add links back to it from existing content. Some quick ideas for linking wins include:
  • Footer and top-level navigation links.
  • Links from blog posts.
  • References and links from FAQ pages and other website pages.
Internal links are important for both SEO and UX purposes, so make sure this step isn’t neglected. Promote That Content Via Email and Social Media Launching something like this is a major initiative and it should be promoted accordingly. Here are several more resources to get started (or improve your practice) in those areas too: Create a Hub and Get More Visitors Now By now, you should have everything you need to get started. Here’s a recap of what this post has covered:
  • What anyone is even talking about when it comes to this topic (and it could be one of a few similar yet different things).
  • The benefits of using content hubs to establish topical authority.
  • How to establish a clear process for getting a hub created.
All that’s left now is to get down to work. Go establish yourself as a topical authority and build that hub.

The post The Best Way to Build Content Hubs That Will Make You An Authority appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

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There are tons of marketing tools and platforms out there. Not to mention other free resources. And guides. So many guides. Oh, and let’s not forget books, courses, and other knowledge and skill-building resources. What can we say? It’s a complex and fast-moving business. Keeping organized while covering skill gaps and staying on top of the latest trends isn’t easy. But, nor should it be. If it were easy, everyone would be crushing it. So, how can you give yourself the edge? Start by narrowing down your tools and learning resources to the essentials. The things you absolutely need that will help you succeed. In this post, we’ve brought together everything you need in one place. Consider this your catalog for a better future. [Tweet "81 Most Essential Content Marketing Tools and Software You Need to Be Successful via @CoSchedule"] Get Organized With CoSchedule CoSchedule is the industry's leading marketing platform. But, what does that mean, exactly? It means it's ideal for: And a whole lot more. In short, it's your marketing department's organizational hub to collaborate on every project and overcome makeshift marketing. It all adds up to more success and less stress for your marketing team. Curious? Let us know and you can hop on a free demo call to see if it's right for your marketing team.me Marketing Tools vs. Platforms vs. Channels There's a lot of differing opinions out there about what these terms actually mean. What's the difference between a marketing tool, a marketing platform, and a marketing channel? Are these terms interchangeable? OR do they each have a unique definition? Ask 10 different people and you'll be hard up to find a consensus. That said, however, here's one way to look at it: Marketing Tool: We view these as single function items. They're the things that focus on doing one thing – they're never gonna be all things to all people, and they're ok with that. Examples include Canva, many social media schedulers, and some project management tools like Basecamp. Marketing Platform: A marketing platform encompasses multiple functions into one piece of software. You can typically accomplish many things with a marketing platform. CoSchedule falls into this category as you can plan your marketing roadmap, manage your team's tasks, project manage all your content marketing, and schedule your social messages from one place. Marketing Channel: Not to be confused with the term used for channel distribution, a marketing channel is the vehicle that is used to deliver your message and connect with your audience. Examples of marketing channels include social media channels like Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram; Google and other search engine platforms; Email; even things like direct mail. So, You Know You Need a New Marketing Platform or Tool… … but you can’t convince your team to switch. Or get your boss to open the checkbook. Solve both those problems with these three free resources:
  • Marketing Tool Proposal Template: Build a quick presentation to show your team (and your boss) why your selected tool is critical to your success.
  • How to Convince Your Boss to Use CoSchedule: If you’re thinking about CoSchedule, this template might help seal the deal.
  • Content Marketing Calendar Template: Here’s one free tool, on the house, to help organize your marketing projects and team members.
[Cookie "Get Your Free Marketing Tool Proposal Template || https://coschedule.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/MUs-01-1.png || Download Template || http://content.coschedule.com/content-marketing/ben/Marketing-Tool-Proposal-Templates.zip"] Getting Your Marketing Team to Adopt a New Platform There’s more to building your marketing toolbox than simply selecting stuff you want, and getting the company credit card out. Once you’ve narrowed down solutions you know you need, you’ll likely be faced with two challenges:
  1. Convincing your company to pay for it. If things seem to be going okay without the new tool, you’ll need to demonstrate how the new tool will improve your business.
  2. Convincing your coworkers to use it. If the tool isn’t just for yourself, you’ll need to convince your team it’s better than what you’re using right now.
In both cases, understanding how marketing change management works can help you effectively build the case to upgrade your toolset. This is something Nathan Ellering, who you may know as the Marketing Lead at CoSchedule, knows a lot about. In fact, he literally wrote the guide to getting past this roadblock (scope out the link in the paragraph above). For our purposes here, though, we can summarize his key takeaways in three points: Step 1: Show There’s a Need For Change Odds are, something currently isn’t getting done right, or possibly even at all, because you don’t have the right tool to get the job done. Wouldn’t eliminating that struggle be better than banging your head against the wall? Here’s how to do just that:
  • Gather data on current performance. Use a time-tracking tool like Toggl to measure how much time gets spent doing a certain task using your current process.
  • Then, start a trial with a new tool and track how much faster that task gets completed. Compare your results and other metrics as well.
  • Show examples. Back up first-hand experience with case studies and research from other companies. Most tool providers will have this type of content somewhere on their site.
  • Cite industry trends. Is the marketing industry moving in a direction that requires new technology to keep up? Find research and articles to support your case.
Step 2: Show How You’ll Thrive Once the Change Happens It’s easier for people to see a better future for themselves when you, well, show them what it’d look like. It sounds simple, but having some actual evidence to demonstrate how a tool will make work better can be powerful for building a case. Here’s a simple framework you can use to communicate this: “When we do [X], we will achieve [Y].” Framing your case this way indicates that achieve the goal is impossible without taking the stated action. The implication here is that the tool is necessary to complete that action, too. So, how can you demonstrate this? Follow these two steps:
  • Visualize your current workflow without the tool you need.
  • Do the same exercise with the tool you’re after.
This can be as simple as opening up a document and listing out the steps to complete the task. Here’s an example of creating a whitepaper without CoSchedule (on the left) and with CoSchedule (on the right): By doing this, you can help your team see exactly how their work will change (for the better) with the new tool. Step 3: Show the Roadmap to Change Tools only work as well as your ability to use them. And, obviously, positive change isn’t going to happen just because you spent money on a solution. Those are two pieces of resistance you can expect to hear, but can easily counter by showing you have a plan. However, that pushback might not be without reason. Adopting new tools means adopting new workflows, and people are often resistant to change. A good way to ease concerns that change will be hard is to show exactly what steps need to be taken to enact that change. You can do this by mapping out a timeline of steps that will be required to get the new tool up and running, and integrated into your team’s workflows: If you need an outside opinion to help build your case, software review directories like G2 Crowd make excellent resources to support your decision. That’s a high-level summary of how to get folks on your side and be more successful with better software. For a more detailed breakdown, bookmark Nathan’s guide. Now, let’s get down to what you came here for... a directory of the most essential tools and software content marketing teams need to do their best work. Back to the Top Free Content Marketing Tools Free doesn’t have to mean low-quality. You’ll need to spend some money to build a full marketing tool stack, but you might be surprised how far you can get without dropping a dime. What Can I Do With Free Content Marketing Tools? Quite a bit. While most of the tools we’ll cover in this post are paid (or have paid options), any marketer’s content toolbox will likely include some free gadgets for completing routine tasks. What Are Some Free Content Marketing Tools to Consider? Here’s a (by no means complete) list: Back to the Top Marketing & Editorial Calendars Content marketers sink or swim with their editorial calendars. There are a lot of different ways to build and maintain them. What Can You Do With a Marketing Calendar? If you’re not using a calendar already, this is likely your first question. The answers, though, are as numerous as the benefits to using them for getting organized.
  • Provide teams with one version of truth. When everyone knows what’s coming up ahead, and what they should be working on right now, teams function more efficiently and effectively.
  • Plan deadlines ahead of time. Overcome the fear of missing deadlines by mapping them out strategically.
  • Prevent last-minute fire drills. Coordinating projects on a clear calendar or timeline dramatically reduces the number of last-minute surprise projects that raise stress and derail productivity.
Here’s a visual breakdown behind the what, why, and how of managing marketing with a calendar:   What Are Some Different Marketing Calendars or Editorial Calendars? From Office templates to full-blown apps, you have plenty of options.
  • CoSchedule: Maybe you don't need the full-blown marketing suite offered by CoSchedule and are really just looking for a great marketing/editorial calendar. Where you can create and manage a single publishing calendar that serves as the blueprint for your content, social, email, events, and more. Check out The CoSchedule Marketing Calendar product. It's the industry's best editorial calendar to get your publishing schedule and marketing plan on track.
  • Spreadsheets: The free (but not necessarily easy) option. This option is a good place to start (but will require a lot of copying and pasting, and won’t allow for time-saving automation).
  • PDFs: The old-school pen-and-paper option. May work well for jotting down notes and planning a simple calendar at your desk.
Back to the Top Content Marketing Platforms Content marketing is much easier when you have one single hub to manage your team and projects. That’s exactly what you get with a content marketing platform. What Can You Do With a Content Marketing Platform? Here are some common features:
  • Manage projects from start to finish.
  • Map content to an editorial calendar.
  • Create and publish content.
  • Promote that content through multiple channels.
  • Communicate on projects with team members.
  • Measure performance and analyze productivity.
This illustration from Curata outlines this more clearly: What Are Some Content Marketing Platforms? Here are some options to consider:
  • CoSchedule: An all-in-one marketing platform to manage all of your marketing functions. From strategic planning, social media publishing, content marketing and task management – it's the place where your marketing team goes to collaborate and execute all your marketing projects.
  • NewsCred: Works with large-scale brands.
  • Kapost: Focuses on serving enterprise-level B2B customers.
  • Percolate: Integrates with enterprise CMS and business intelligence platforms.
  • Contently: Brings freelancers and marketing teams together for content marketing purposes.
  • CurataMakes content curation and freelance management easier.
Back to the Top Social Media Scheduling Tools Creating social content at scale without automation or tools is nearly impossible. Fortunately, the market has more than met that need, with tons of different software options out there. What Can You Do With Social Scheduling Tools? The short answer is exactly what you think, and a whole lot more.
  • Automate social posts. Instead of sitting on your computer 24/7.
  • Reshare top-performing posts. Great content should be seen more than once.
  • Measure results. Analyzing post performance is easier using one tool.
What Are Some Social Media Scheduling Tools? There are a lot out there. Here are some well-known options:
  • CoSchedule: Why have a stand-alone, single-function social media tool, when you can use the CoSchedule Social Organizer. The Social Organizer allows you to promote your content and plan your social schedule ALONGSIDE all your other marketing initiations... no more silos, no more messy social approvals. Just social media marketing that runs seamlessly with all your other marketing.
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If you've been working on search engine optimization or any form of promotion for your content, you might have come across the term “content distribution”. You’ve just spent loads of time and money to produce an amazing whitepaper, video, or other content types… Now, it’s a waiting game as all those readers come rushing in to read your amazing content piece, right? If only it were that easy. Just because you’ve finished the content, doesn’t mean you’re done. In some ways, the hard work is just beginning. Now you’ve got to promote it, and in a world where there are 4 million blog posts published on the Internet every single day, your content distribution strategy has to be on point. This post breaks down the best ways to promote your content, how to create a distribution strategy, and why it's so important to your marketing. Download This Content Distribution Template But first, check out this content distribution template. You’ll find an easy-to-follow template to track your entire content distribution strategy from start to finish. It’s also easily customizable for each of your projects to make sure that you’re promoting each content item in the best way. [Cookie "Get Your Content Distribution Template || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/blog_increase-traffic-05.png || Download Template || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Content_Distribution_Template_.zip"] What is Content Distribution? While it's a term thrown around in numerous marketing circles, it can have numerous meanings. As distribution has become more important to the success of content today, it’s important to understand the nuts and bolts of content distribution as a term. Content distribution is the act of promoting content through any means by companies and brands to provide content to its targeted audience. It breaks down into three different areas, owned channels, earned channels and paid content. These three channels provide the fundamentals of how you distribute the content appropriately. Owned Channels These channels are the foundation of your entire online presence. It's any medium that you create and control. Common examples would be your website or an app you've developed. But these days, your social media page, your blog, or even a YouTube page, are all classed as owned channels. Without sufficient content on your own channels, your brand is not able to build, which can limit your ability to convert customers. To make the most of your own channels, you can break your techniques down into three individual components.
  • The content: Content is key to your entire operation, and the distribution of content can include blogs, e-books, infographics, as well as videos. Videos have been vital in improving promotion, especially search engine optimization, as videos generate a 41% higher click-through rate than plain text.
  • Posting and sharing of information: The bread and butter of engaging with potential and existing customers. By posting information and sharing it via social media platforms, you can build a following and tempt new custom in. This helps to direct traffic to your website as well as using social media to get your content to a broader audience.
  • Marketing via email: While social media is a great way to engage with your customers, email marketing is a great way to make the most of your existing contacts and to convert them onto your latest products.
Earned Channels Earned channels are essentially the equivalent of word of mouth. If the content that you post on your owned media is picked up by third-party sites, this results in organic search engine rankings. The most significant driving forces behind earned media boil down to two things:
  • Search engine ranking: The rankings can be determined by numerous components, but primarily it's about a good SEO strategy. Search engine optimization is such an evolving beast that to make earned media shareable by third parties, the content working in conjunction with ranking on the first page are the two components that need to be in tandem with each other.
  • The content distributed by the brand: no matter how you dress it up, the content has to be good enough to warrant mentions, reposts, recommendations, and shares.
Paid Channels The paid channels refer to the external marketing approaches that, as you would suspect, results from a paid placement. It can be argued that paid media appears to be unnecessary, especially in comparison to earned and owned channels, but this third aspect works with the other two channels to help a business grow significantly. Ultimately, paid media is one of the best and quickest ways to get traffic. Think of a stagnating business that's not able to establish its brand. By investing in paid media to display content across social networks, you are getting exposure in a way that would not happen if you were to go through organic methods. For example, a promoted post may very well be a new customer’s first experience of your brand. This results in increased traffic and this traffic can be easier to track than other organic methods. As social media can provide appropriate statistics on the leads or clicks your page content gets, this can give you instantaneous feedback as to whether this method is working for you. And as the three most prominent areas of paid media are branded content, display ads, and PPC advertising, it's likely you are already making headway through the paid channels anyway. But by using paid channels in conjunction with earned and owned channels, you are supporting your brand with that all-important trifecta of content distribution. Why Content Distribution is Important Content and its success is all about planning and preparation. You could argue that it's about the type of content you create, but content distribution and great content are two sides to the same coin. Recently, 56% of marketers stated they outsource one part of their marketing strategies, which has resulted in an increased need for help in content creation. And as 78% of marketers have reported that their business has improved due to better content creation, this shows that enhancing the content through these three channels has improved marketing in numerous ways. To improve your marketing capabilities, you cannot rely on one aspect of your content distribution. Breaking it down into these three essential components, and following them to the letter, will result in a brand that is evenly distributed. Content is king, and as content distribution becomes highlighted as one of the biggest marketing opportunities that brands don't utilize, harnessing these three different areas can push a struggling business into more prominent quarters. Many brands may make the most of one or two areas of this trifecta, but, if you recognize that you're not making the most of all of them, this will soon become apparent. So many brands make the most of PPC or plunge their efforts into search engine optimization, but to be competitive and to maintain an edge, content distribution is the missing ingredient. For those brands looking to improve their strategies, looking to keep on top of trends, and make the most of marketing tools, ensure your content distribution is at the forefront of your marketing strategy. [Tweet "How to create a #content distribution strategy with a free template."] How to Create a Content Distribution Strategy Step-by-Step Providing relevant content at the right time to the people who need it is an integral part of digital marketing, but it won’t happen by accident. To achieve an effective content distribution, you need to follow a step-by-step strategy. List Your Target Distribution Channels Your target distribution channels are the sites, organizations or entities from which you disseminate content. Content marketing distribution channels may include social networks, your website, a partner blog, a podcast or some other digital medium. Before you begin your content distribution strategy, therefore, it’s worth writing down a list of all the ways you’ll distribute your content with a brief justification for why. Guest Posts on External Websites Guest posts on external websites have two functions: to promote your content to a new audience and to create links to your site for SEO purposes. These articles can introduce your content to people who wouldn’t ordinarily see it and who might benefit from it in the future. Before posting on external sites, think about whether they attract visitors who could benefit from your product. Here’s an example of a guest post on Convince & Convert by CoSchedule. Another strategy for guest posting is to reach out to bloggers of articles that already exist on your target keywords. You can ask the author to add a section about your tool/product with a link back to your website. Online Communities Online communities are any place on the web where people gather to interact. Distributing content through these channels (Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Reddit, forums, etc.) can be effective because communities naturally generate interest and engagement. Ideally, you want to create shareable and “commentable” content that produces a buzz. Be careful with this tactic however, you want to genuinely helpful and not promotional. Here’s an example of a discussion on Reddit regarding Facebook advertising. This would be a good opportunity to link to a content piece from your blog that helps solve the poster’s problem. External Podcasts External podcasts can be an excellent vehicle for distributing content to a new audience. Many media firms, like the BBC and the Wall Street Journal, give space to businesses on their podcasts to speak about what they do. This example is from the Wall Street Journal is inspired by the popular column which commuters can turn to for insights on business, the economy, markets, and politics. The content on podcasts is usually newsworthy and topical. It can be a great way to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences that are not aware of your product or service. Internal Blog Posts Blog posts on your own site are an opportunity to tell your audience more about yourself and provide them with real value. Coca-Cola - the world’s premier soft drinks brand - has one of the top company blogs in the world. It talks about its approach to corporate responsibility, its plans to make the business more sustainable, and how the company operates internally. The blog is a great tool to get readers engaged in content and up-to-date with trends. Internal Videos Internal videos are videos that companies make for the benefit of their colleagues. Although most businesses focus on external videos - or those that are customer-facing - internal videos can have tremendous value for training and teaching staff about the company values. Walmart has been using internal videos to distribute content for many years to teach new hires about the importance of warehouse safety and correct lifting techniques. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXLcgK848DA&index=2&list=PL1Y8TaDAJ-tAScf7nqtkcFGMcUJjQpr9T Webinars Webinars are interactive online seminars where a company imparts information and then invites guests to ask questions and give feedback. ARK Invest is an investment broker with a focus on future technology. The firm hosts monthly webinars where it explains to customers why it is investing in certain sectors (like robotics or genetics) and how they think the market will adjust to new technological changes in the future. Investors can then ask questions about why the firm is investing their money in a particular way. Demos Demos of how a product works are a great way to get information across to customers. Although demos are usually explicitly promotional, this doesn't mean that they can't be used to educate customers about the powerful benefits of a new product. In 2018, Google demoed its new product, Duplex, which is an AI voice bot that can conduct basic conversations on a user’s behalf (for instance, book a table at a restaurant). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvbHu_bVa_g&feature=youtu.be At Google I/O 2018, the company demonstrated the product live, showcasing it’s audience the benefits directly. Infographics Infographics use a combination of pictures and text to convey information or statistics readably. Supply Spy, a firm that helps users research Amazon products, has an infographic which breaks down the complicated topic of Amazon seller fees into manageable chunks, helping to make the subject more approachable. Guides Shopify is a platform which provides a range of utilities to budding online retailers, such as website design and payment facilities. Setting up an online store can be a complicated business, so Shopify provides guides for all sorts of things, such as how to sell on eBay, small business marketing on Twitter, selling products on Amazon, and how to grow an e-commerce business with email marketing. Social Media Channels Pizza Hut is one of the most interesting examples of a company that uses social media distribution effectively. Rather than use its Twitter feed to advertise money-off coupons (which seems to be the default position of many other pizza chains), it uses social media to celebrate the product that it sells. By doing this, it creates much more engaging, likable and sharable content and video. Email Email marketing has the highest ROI of any form of digital marketing, according to Litmus Software. Many companies use email to distribute special offers and deals tailored to their customers, but the most successful email campaigns tend to be those that communicate genuinely exciting information. Evans Cycles, a cycling firm based in the UK, sends customers a combination of special offers and informational videos on how to look after their bicycles. Ebook Ebooks are in-depth resources that companies can provide their customers to cement their authority in a particular field. Ebooks demonstrate to customers that a business has substantial expertise, making them a preferred source of reliable information. Deloitte is a professional services company that provides tax advice, management consultancy and strategy advice to firms all over the world. Its work is detailed, so it often uses ebooks to complement the work that it does with firms. The company’s clients can get bespoke advice direct from consultants and then refer to ebooks if they need a refresher once consulting is finished. A Better Way to Plan Your Content Distribution Strategy Sure the content distribution tracking spreadsheet included in this blog will do the job… But, let’s be honest, the last thing most marketing managers need is another spreadsheet to add to their ever-growing list. The good news is, there’s a better way. Your entire team can collaborate, plan and execute their content distribution strategy with CoSchedule. No spreadsheets, no manual updating, no status updates. Just one amazing hub to plan it all. Here’s how it works: To start, add a new marketing project in CoSchedule by clicking the plus sign on your project kickoff date. Then choose the option entitled “marketing campaign” on the list. Next, add each individual content promotion and distribution item to your marketing campaign. Once you’ve added all the individual content distribution tactics, you’ll see a visualization of every element on your CoSchedule calendar. Everyone on your team will know exactly what is going live and when, and their tasks for each tactic. Goal Setting Goal setting is an essential aspect of your overall content distribution strategy, whether you’re trying to reach people through social media tools, external blogs, your website. But how do you set effective content distribution goals? Decide on The Nature of Your Goals Some organizations create content for the sake of creating content, thinking that it will put them at an advantage. But any experienced digital marketer worth their salt will tell you that the only way to drive things forward is to make sure that you're clear on why you’re distributing content in the first place. You may want to distribute content for the following reasons:
  • Generate more leads
  • Increase your conversion rate
  • Improve awareness of your brand
  • Increase customer retention
  • To educate your audience
  • Get more traffic to your website
The content distribution strategy you choose will depend on your overall goals. A plan designed to improve awareness of your brand will be very different from one that hopes to increase customer retention or upsell customers on various products. Some businesses try to be smart and align content with multiple goals, hoping to kill many birds with one stone. Companies create content that they expect will improve their ranking in search engines, generate a buzz on social media, increase awareness of their brand and boost leads. But trying to tick all the boxes rarely works and you may find that your content is less useful in certain channels than it would be had you stuck to a specific strategy. For example, you might create a wordy blog to help you rank for specific keywords in Google search. [Tweet "#Content distribution strategies shouldn't be cookie cutter."] But a lengthy article is unlikely to get as many shares on social media as, say, an original picture or meme. What’s important here is that the distribution strategy is fit-for-purpose depending on the content type. I.e. Content distribution strategies shouldn’t be cookie cutter. Content Distribution Tools Getting your content out there can be a challenge, especially if you try to do it manually. So what helpful content distribution tools are out there to make your life easier? The good news is that there are quite a few out there to help. Here are just a few... Link Distribution Tools Link distribution tools help authors find pictures and links to external websites that are relevant to the content that they create. For instance, a tool called Zemanta helps content creators generate links to suitable sites in blogs-in-progress, cutting down on publishing time. News Distribution Tools News distribution tools allow content marketers to access news channels that can distribute their content to a broad audience. Services, like ARC,  help content marketers using press release distribution channels gain access to thousands of media outlets, social networks, and video sites. Customers can then update any press releases dynamically, should they need to. Suggested Story Tools Suggested story tools help content marketers create content that will drive more views. For example, a tool called SimpleReach analyzes which publications are most shared and most likely to be shared, and then provides content recommendations to publishers. Suggested story tools, therefore, help organizations create only the most impactful content. Video Distribution Tools Video is fast becoming the most popular medium of content consumption on the internet. Publishers, therefore, need access to high-quality video distribution tools that can help users access many video platforms online. A tool called TubeMogul does precisely that. Publishers upload the content that they want to distribute and then the software publishes the video on a range of social and media channels on the internet. Video distribution apps also regularly provide supporting analytics so that organizations can track the..
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Which mentors and managers helped shape and influence you the most through the years? Who made you a better person and marketing professional? Are most of them smart, talented women? According to the Association of National Advertisers, 67% of the marketing industry is female. Today, my guest is Jodi Duncan, president of Flint Group. We discuss the current climate and ecosystem for women in marketing and business. What are some of the current challenges and opportunities that women face? [podcast_motor_player] Some of the highlights of the show include:
  • Marketing agency trends and adapting to them - biggest challenge is the digital movement; expectations and pressure related to measuring ROI and spending
  • How to evaluate, identify, and implement tools and technologies for clients; don’t overlook the client’s objective and what they’re trying to do
  • Creating content and related messages, then effectively communicating content through multiple channels that have different parameters
  • Challenges of creating authentic content experiences; voice should match brand
  • Flint’s best strategies to do high-quality work for clients and be a place where people want to work; communication is critical
  • Progress needs to be made regarding concept of women in leadership and business; Women in Business blog series shares lessons and accomplishments
  • Are you a good b*tch, or a bad b*tch? Women don’t always support each other; difficult for women to get leadership position and not be branded a bitch
  • Show support and make an impact via direct conversations to address issues
  • Men just need to ask women to participate, include them, and offer opportunities to express their opinions
  • Women entering the workforce need to pay attention, watch, learn, ask questions, and speak up
If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.
Quotes by Jodi Duncan:
  • “The biggest challenge...is the whole digital movement.”
  • “Content is just a whole other animal. Not only what content you want to get out there and what the messages are, but how do you effectively communicate that content.”
  • “It’s sort of a battle to get into those leadership positions when the biggest naysayers are other women that you work with. They’re not necessarily your best cheerleaders.”
 
[Tweet "Empowering The Leadership Of Women In Marketing With @jodilduncan From @FlintGroup"] Transcript: Eric: This coming January will mark 20 years that I had been a marketing professional. Oh, my goodness. I don’t know where the time went. But as I look back at those years and how I evolved as a marketer, I can’t help but think about the individuals who influenced me most. The mentors, the managers, and my directors that helped shape me and make me a better person and a better marketer. The vast majority of those people have been smart, talented women. I did some research and I found out according to the Association of National Advertisers, 67% of the marketing industry is female. I wanted to dedicate an episode to talk about the climate and the ecosystem for women in marketing and women in business. I brought one of those mentors to me growing up in the marketing industry. Her name is Jodie Duncan. She is the president of Flint Group. She works for and runs an agency. We talk about what’s changing in the agency, but we really focus on what are some of the challenges and what are some of the opportunities that face women in the marketing industry today. It’s a really meaningful episode for me and I hope that you will enjoy it. My name is Eric Piela, I’m the Brand & Buzz Manager here at CoSchedule. Thanks so much for tuning into another episode. Can’t wait to introduce you to Jodie. It’s going to be a great one. Alright, buckle up because it’s time to get amped. Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to another episode of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. I am just tickled, I’m delighted—whatever the adjective is—I’m excited, okay, to have our next guest on the show. Her name is Jodi Duncan. She is the president of the Flint Group based here in Fargo, North Dakota just down the street. Welcome, Jodi. Jodi: Thanks, Eric. Thanks for having me. Eric: We’re cozied up here in the CoSchedule studio. I use that term lightly or in jest. It’s kind of a smaller closet but it’ll be perfect for our interview today. This is great. Jodi, I had the pleasure of working with you in the past. I was at Flint Group for about eight years before I came to CoSchedule. I worked with some that I admired. I love what you’re doing with the agency and I think you’ve got so much to share with our audience. But they don’t know you like I do, Jodi, so if you could just take a moment and share about your journey as to where you ended up here and your marketing background. Jodi: Well, I’ve been in the business for quite a while. Probably 25 plus years now. We worked together at Great Plains… Eric: We did. That’s right. Jodi: …back in the day. I started my career on what I would call the client side. The first part of my career was really spent on the client side and working with agencies and then eventually ended up at Flint as a strategic planner. I did that for a few years. I still do a lot of strategic planning but have more of the data-to-day responsibilities at the president’s level of kind of overseeing the company and the finances and all that kind of stuff too. I really enjoy that working with clients and getting involved in that but I’m doing less of that these last few years. Eric: We don’t often have agencies on the show. I believe that there are a lot of agencies or marketing professionals work in agencies that listen to the podcast. I think that there’s just a unique story I think to share. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been at the agency, but I think that the challenge of agencies is to one, understand the clients’ needs and also advise and consult on what might be best for them. 2019, I think marketing technologies are everywhere. Maybe that’s an open-ended question, Jodi, where do you see as some of the larger trends, they’re taking place in the marketing agency environment right now, and have you adopted those. Jodi: The biggest challenge I think is the whole digital movement and of course, that’s been going on for quite some time. But as communications evolved—one-to-one communications specifically—and being able to measure everything and really have very tangible results from campaigns have put a lot of pressures in agencies and in clients. I think most of the clients that come to us now because there’s so many different things—so many tools, so many different ways to reach people, many different expectations from an audience level on what you should know and how you should reach out and where you can find people and how to best refine the messaging—it’s just a really complicated situation. What we try to do with clients is help them figure out what’s their story, how do they need to segment their audiences, and then how do you best reach them through all the different channels, and what does that mean. I think the pressure on the client side is very much, “What’s the ROI on any marketing campaign?” We get that question a lot. Where it used to be you could be more evasive with that kind of stuff–with the more traditional advertising mechanisms because you just really couldn’t measure them. Now there’s a lot more pressure I think to be able to prove out how you’re spending your money from a marketing standpoint. Eric: Full transparency for sure. I think you’re right. They know that we can measure everything and so those demands, and those reputations are higher. You bring up a good point. From a digital standpoint, we talk about all of those on this podcast whether it be content marketing, email automation, whether it be CRM, whether it be pay-per-click, the variety of things that the tools that marketers have in that space. How do you go about figuring out and evaluating which technology to leverage or what digital methodologies to implement for your clients? If I remember back in the day, I was like, “We should do this, this, and this.” Let’s take a step back and is it right for you? When social blew up it was like, “We got to have an Instagram page and a Facebook page.” I’m like, “Woah, woah. What’s your story going to be there?” Are those things still happening? How do you evaluate and consult on them on where they should be? Jodi: I think it all starts with what the client’s objective is. I would say that that oftentimes is overlooked. Really understanding what they’re trying to do without coming in with, “Okay, here’s the solution. Here’s where you need to be.” Oftentimes, people think they need to be at social or they need to be on Instagram, they need to be somewhere whatever is the hot, popular channel at the moment without really thinking what they’re trying to do with it. From a strategic perspective, we try to get clients really through that and help them figure that out first. Then figure out the different channels based on their budget, what can they do, where can they go, and how can they most effectively reach their target audiences. But a lot of times, all of that, has to be really thought through and defined. You think that it is because you just think, “Well, of course, we have that figured out.” But when you start to dig into it, oftentimes it’s not already defined or planned out. And then content is just a whole nother animal. Not only what content you want to get out there and what the messages are but how do you effectively communicate that content through all of these multiple channels that really have different parameters on how and what you can say. Eric: I think content is a rebel where we can get lost in, but I think there’s a lot of conversation around, how do you create really great content experiences that are authentic. When you’re doing work and creating these experiences and this content and you’re doing that as an extension of their team and not actually at the organization, how have you relied on your team to be able to find that voice that matches that brand? How do you explore that? Jodi: That’s a great question and it’s hard to do. What we’ve tried to do is we try to be an extension of their marketing team, and really know and understand who they are and what the product is, or what their service is and spend a lot of time understanding their industry. That helps to be steeped in that. When it comes to social, we’ve really encouraged clients to have maybe a dual approach so that if we’re doing their social or if we’re working through their content management from that standpoint, we want to have a really close partner on their side. We very often encourage clients to do their own social because it seems like that’s a better fit if it’s coming right from them. There’s a lot of discussion on how that can best work and it depends on how they’re staffed and some of those things, but it’s truly a partnership. Eric: I feel like I’ll read some things like, “More companies are taking their work in-house.” And then I’ll read another one, “More companies are turning to agencies to help.” Have you seen that ebb and flow or what’s sort of the pulse at least in our area here? Jodi: It definitely ebbs and flows, and it does seem to bounce back and forth. I think Flint Group has had a really good long-term relationship with clients and I think that that has bounced back and forth from the standpoint of who’s doing what. As they build their marketing teams maybe they’ll bring something in-house and they’ll use us as overage type of activities or maybe we’ll come in and do strategy and they’ll have someone in-house that’s doing execution. The best client-agency relationship I think have that give and take and are able to leverage each other when it makes the most sense. Eric: Sure. You guys are a large agency, you have clients that are national and international, and you have a large team with multiple locations. I think part of your role as to, “How do I make this agency hum? How do I make it sing? How do I make it work smoothly? How do I provide a workplace that is positive to come to each day?” What have you found are some of your best strategies to have Flint, not only be a place that does great high-quality work for your clients, but also a place that people want to work and enjoy their day-to-day there? Jodi: One of the biggest lessons for me, and I think even going back to our Great Plains days, any company that you survey, and you ask what the biggest challenges are, it very often comes back as communication. There’s never enough communication. Not everybody knows everything all the time. That we’ve tried over the last few years at Flint to address really directly. We have found that we’ve had some really great strides and made some really good improvement in that area. Some of that I think is due to technology and being able to use Skype and to have conversations where it feels like you’re face-to-face if you’re working with remote employees. We do quarterly town halls and really encourage employees to ask questions and have open dialogue. We just started something called ‘Flintication’ last year where we do monthly meetings. They’re supposed to be brief, half an hour to forty-five minutes, where we bring in breakfast and then do an educational topic. We do maybe 3-, 10-minute segments during that time, and that’s been really good. A good way for people to showcase work and to be able to understand different disciplines and different topics that are important at the moment, so that’s been good. I think the whole communication issue internally is one of the biggest challenges, not just for us, for any company, and probably always will be. I think it’s amazing when to sort of point out and be like, “We don’t communicate enough.” We’ve tried to pay a lot of attention for that. Eric: That’s good. I’ve always loved Flint’s ability to put the name Flint to anything like ‘Flintication’, ‘Flinterversary’. Jodi: That’s ‘Flinteresting’! Eric: Flinteresting. ‘Flinterns’ instead of interns. Yeah, there’s a lot of good examples. Anyway, I digress. Well, howdy. It is half-time on the Actionable Marketing Podcast. I hope you’re enjoying the conversation with Jodi. Hey, I want to ask a favor if you will. If you enjoy this podcast, I would love a rating and review on iTunes. It helps us get discovered by more listeners and helps me know if I’m hitting the right topics. If you want to, if you’re inclined to do so, I would love it. Simply take a screenshot of your rating and review before you submit to iTunes and send that to me. You can email it to podcast@coschedule.com and as a thank you for your time and for listening, I will hook you up with a really fun CoSchedule swag pack that I will get along your way. I know you’ll love it. Anyway, I would appreciate it. Let’s get back to the show and our discussion with Jodi from Flint Group. One of the things I think a unique opportunity with you here, as a leader of your organization, you kind of talked about this already in terms of communication, but I think one thing that I want to make sure we touch on is something really important to you has been a concept around women and leadership and women  in business. There’s a lot of good conversation and dialogue happening about this. Obviously, if anyone’s educated on this situation, there’s a lot of progress we need to make as a society. You’ve been vocal about what you think that means not only for you and your opinion but for Flint and maybe for other women in the industry. You actually created a blog series called Women in Business which had been great to read. I’ve been lucky enough, at least the first 15 years of my career, to work for strong, smart women in leadership including yourself. If you could, what are some of the things that you’re hoping to accomplish with this blog series? What are some of the lessons you’re hoping to share? Jodi: Well, there’s a lot. This goes back to when I was going through getting my master’s degree. I had initially intended to write my thesis on how women undermine each other in the business planet. I was experiencing that early on in my career and it was really frustrating to me. I actually didn’t end up writing my thesis on that. I wrote branding and mergers and acquisitions which seemed more practical at the time. I like to joke that I miss my opportunity to be Sheryl Sandberg and have that lean in concept. But that’s sort of what started me, thinking about it, was just my experience with how other women weren’t supportive and the challenges that that created early on in my career and then as I continued on. I have pretty thick skin and I was able to really accomplish some things without having that kind of support but throughout my career, I can point times when there were those kinds of challenges happening. I have two girls: I have a 21 and a 24-year-old, and as I got older and they got older, I saw all of the exact same things. They were kind of challenged with the same things. The limitations that women have whether it’s in business or education or whatever industry. Some of the frustrations seem to permeate through all of the same things and kind of the same issues. I started writing the Women in Business blog just as more of a lesson outlet and it caught on. It has sort of a weird little following. But yeah, there’s lots of topics. I feel like there’s an endless brochure. Eric: Sure. I think one, it’s great that it’s being addressed, and so kudos to you for having it out there. I think it’s an indication that it’s resonating with the followership that it’s got. Maybe this is a wild presumption, but it certainly feels that way that marketing can sometimes be a female driven industry, at least that’s the way it feels when I go to conferences. I don’t have the research to back it up, but I’ve always felt that way. There’s a lot of women working with women, I know at Flint there was, I don’t know what it was, 60/40, 70/30… Jodi: Yes. Probably even better than that. Eric: Yeah. In the industry, it even feels more prolific being in that space and having that. I think one of the things that you wrote about that I’d love for you to address more is sometimes women not having to [inaudible 00:19:01] back and sometimes getting in the way of each other’s success. Can you address a little bit more and some of your thoughts on that? Jodi: With that I think, it’s a very real thing and I hear it a lot from women that are in positions that are  similar to mine, that it’s sort of a battle to get into those leadership positions when the biggest naysayers are other women that you work with. They’re not necessarily your best true leaders. I’m not sure where that comes from. If it comes from a place of competitiveness or just the differences between how boys and girls are raised or how that starts. I think it’s changing in a lot of ways and I think that having the open dialogue has helped women recognize when they’re doing that, and hopefully, finding some different ways of supporting each other. It’s a very real thing. Eric: I think the one that caught my eye, the most was—and these are your words at the tile—but are you a good bitch or are you a bad bitch? Where I think you can play off the good bitch or bad bitch, but I think there’s a big, strong message in there. You, as leader of Flint and a lot of women out at Flint Group, how are you helping support them in their careers? What are some of the things you’re encouraging them to do so that you can have the environment that is supportive? Jodi: The biggest thing for me and this was really throughout my career, but coming into Flint, one of the things that struck is people didn’t have really direct conversations. I’d probably been pushing that since day one there and part of it is because I think the experiences that I had taught me to be more direct and to have hard conversations, and get it over with, and move on, and not harbor grudges, and all those kinds of things. That probably has been the most impactful from a change agent kind of approach is getting people to, “Okay, you have an issue with so and so. Let’s go talk to them and have that conversation,” because that was one of the things that really frustrated me, and I still see it. I see it in other places. It certainly isn’t something that’s a Flint exclusive thing, but people will talk to 10 other people about an issue they’re having before they’ll go directly and have that conversation with the person. That I think is one of the bigger things going back to that are you a good bitch or a bad bitch. The reality for women that are in leadership roles and that have a more assertive nature is you’re automatically considered a bitch—that’s just kind of a label. That was something I really struggled with because you just always felt like that was a bad connotation. If you were doing things that are maybe more normal, like with leadership, there’s difficult decisions that you have to make and there’s hard things that you have to do, that you need to do to better the business and that’s your job, but as a woman, that’s looked at very differently than if you were a male doing the same kinds of things. That’s what started that whole thought and that theory, but I always go back to, I think it was Sally Field when she won her Oscar and she was like, “They like me. They really like me.” I think we worry so much about, “Who likes me?” Eric: Being liked. Jodi: Yeah, so it’s hard. I think that’s not exclusive to women. I think that’s kind of a true thing overall, but I think women are probably more sensitive to it, maybe more aware of it. Eric: Sure. For listeners on the podcast that are men, what advice is there for men in terms of what type of understanding or knowledge should we be equipping ourselves to make sure it’s an environment that is a great place for either gender. Is there any advice you have there? Jodi: I get asked that question a lot from men which I think is a really positive indication of how much everybody wants to change things. I don’t think it’s one of those things where we have to convince people that there needs to be change. There’s so many great men and male leaders and man and women that have tried to make places more inclusive. But one of the questions that I get a lot is, how do I get women to..
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What if you could help your marketing team do more in less time? It's a simple question that leaves a lot to dream about:
  1. You'd be awesome. Like riding a unicorn over a rainbow kind of awesome.
  2. Your team and company would love you because you'd finally get everyone organized, on the same page, and focused on super meaningful work.
  3. You'd lead a happier, more fulfilled career while nailing every deadline and exceeding every goal.
Ah, the good life. But, there are some challenges to overcome first. For starters, project management can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be accounted for, especially when managing multiple projects and team members. Fortunately, you're about to learn the secrets behind strategic marketing project management that will help you:
  • Work even faster and collaborate better than ever by managing your projects with an efficient process from the get-go.
  • Focus 100% of your resources on the right projects instead of "we've always done it that way" tasks that don't add measurable growth to your bottom line.
  • Boost your productivity while getting organized and taking control of your entire process.
You can be a successful marketing project manager. [Tweet "The Complete 16-Step #Marketing Project Management Process That Will Get You Organized"] ...but first: Start Managing Marketing Projects With These Free Word And Excel Templates ... When you read this post, you'll discover a need for project documentation. Download this free kit to grab your:
  1. Marketing project management template Word document to help you implement every step of this post for a real project you're working through.
  2. Sprint backlog Excel spreadsheet to manage the entire scope and timeline of your project.
Go ahead and fill out these documents as you read through this post to make the most efficient use of your valuable time! [Cookie "Get Your Free Marketing Project Management Process Bundle! || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Blog_Ben_MarketingProjectManagement_Updated-mockup.png || Get It Now! || http://coschedule.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/MarketingProjectManagementBundle.zip"] ... Then Upgrade to the Kanban Project Dashboard in CoSchedule Managing marketing teams is a multi-faceted. There are so many moving parts and dozens of tasks for each project and campaign. So... keeping everyone and everything on track and hitting all your deadlines can be, well, tough. That's why I'm inviting you to check out the Kanban Project Dashboard available in your favorite marketing project management platform. https://coschedule.wistia.com/medias/hjsa4uxv1m When you manage your marketing team with CoSchedule, you'll:
  • Get a pulse on every project. Using the kanban-style view, you can quickly see the status of every project your team is working on.
  • Pinpoint bottlenecks in your workflow. Are team members getting stuck in particular areas on projects? Identify roadblocks quickly and keep tasks on track.
  • Holistically manage projects from start to finish. Give your entire team full visibility across every project and manage everything in one place.
Get CoSchedule and get organized! Schedule a demo today. What Is Marketing Project Management (For The Sake Of This Post)? The traditional project management method is split into phases:
  1. Initiate: What is the scope of what you'll create?
  2. Plan: How will you create your content and with what resources?
  3. Execute: Create your content.
  4. Monitor and control: Identify and remove any roadblocks that are preventing you from executing.
  5. Close: Get approval, publish, and review.
That is the approach traditional project managers learn about as they get started. However, there's a way to layer in another proven project management method to help you move through the phases even faster. It's called agile product management. [Tweet "Ever wonder what agile marketing was? Now I know."] This process is how developers typically approach creating software (like your beloved CoSchedule project management platform). Agile product management helps developers complete lots of work in short bursts of time by providing intense focus and removing obstacles that might cause them to miss deadlines. So, for the sake of this post, you're going to combine traditional project management and agile product management together to create marketing projects more efficiently than ever before. Here's your definition:
Marketing project management is the efficient process that helps you organize, create, and publish your content as fast as possible.
The beautiful thing is that you can use this process for planning any type of content—and you should. Let's get into the details: Initiate Your Marketing Project By Defining The Purpose Step 1: Choose The Highest Priority Project From Your Marketing Project Backlog Part of the agile project management process involves creating and maintaining a product backlog. For your purposes, that's a fancy definition for a prioritized list of marketing projects. Project management starts by strategically choosing to complete the highest priority project on your list. Since that's the case, we wrote an entire post to help you create your own marketing project backlog: What you're reading right now assumes that you've chosen one project and that it's your highest priority for 10x growth. Step 2: Explain The Project Background With A Creative Brief You may already have detailed notes from your marketing project backlog to help you implement your biggest priority project. If not, there are a handful of things to get straight before you get too much deeper:
  1. Who will this project benefit the most? Pinpoint a subset within your audience.
  2. What do you need to create? Define the end deliverable.
  3. Why will this project benefit the audience you've specified? Write your value proposition that answers your audience's question, "What's in it for me?"
  4. What kind of resources might you need to complete the project? Estimate the time and tools involved.
  5. What does done look like? Help your team know what you'll accept as a successful final product.
The background will serve as the foundation for all of the remaining steps in your project management process. As you write your creative brief to answer these questions, you'll immediately be able to spot areas of potential challenges that you can work to resolve now—before your team starts executing the project. For example, if you need a developer's help to create a landing page or don't have a budget to complete the work, now is the time to solve the roadblock before slowing up your entire team as they take on the project. Step 3: Define Your Project's Requirements To Fulfill The Business' Needs Requirements are the standards your content needs to meet before you publish. Every marketing project may need different requirements, yet some examples to help you brainstorm your project's requirements should include:
  • Automation: Is this a way to automate a part of this project to prevent manual work during execution or afterward? Anything to cut out unnecessary, tedious manual work a robot could do will immediately boost your productivity.
  • Elimination: Can this project eliminate something else you're doing as a new and improved replacement? Removing work from your future to-do list will help you find time to execute even more projects from your backlog a whole lot faster.
  • Maintenance: How can you make this project as successful as possible now with the least amount of daily, weekly, or monthly maintenance? Think 10x growth now that continues to provide long-term results without having to touch it.
All of those may sound similar. But let that advice soak in a bit more as you look at your project idea and break down what you want it to do to benefit your team and business. If you can create requirements based on those three fundamentals, you will save you and your team time during and after project execution. And when you don't have time to spare, that matters a lot. [Tweet "When you don't have time to spare, solid #ProjectManagement matters a lot."] Another way to look at this is by defining a set of requirements your content must meet before you publish. For example, we've analyzed data to help us define standards of performance for our content. These standards literally help us predict how successful the content we execute will be based on four requirements:
  • Topic: Is the topic similar to your other top-performing content? Is the angle something your audience deeply cares about?
  • Keyword: Does the main keyword have high search volume and low competition? Is there an opportunity to include latent semantic indexing to help even more of your audience naturally find this content through search engines?
  • Research: How can you include deep research in this content to publish something the internet has never seen before? How can you use research to factually back up your claims?
  • Comprehensiveness: How can you tell the most complete story on your topic on the internet?
You could apply this standard of performance to your project, or you may find your most successful content has different traits that make it awesome. The point is to really define what the project will look like before you start working. In project management terminology, a set of requirements is called a specification. So, if you follow this guide, you will have two specifications (time-saving specification and content specification) with multiple requirements under each. If you think of more requirements, you can plan even more specifications for your projects. These two specifications are just a minimum viable starting point to produce successful content. [Tweet "Define your content's standard of performance and demand it during execution."] Step 4: Write Your Stories To Focus The Project On An Audience-Valued Outcome Stories are how you'll put yourself into your audience's shoes to focus on how the project will benefit their lives instead of just creating a deliverable. Unlike traditional story-telling, these stories help define requirements of satisfaction. It's like asking yourself, "How will my audience benefit from this project?" Here's the template of how to think about stories:
As an {audience type}, I want to {do something} so that {I get this value}.
For example, let's say the project you want to take on is a new e-book about content strategy that you'll publish on the Amazon store to reach a new audience. One story for your project may look like this:
As a marketer, I want to learn how to implement a better content strategy so that I can get more organized.
One project will likely have multiple stories to help you and your team understand your audience's needs. To continue the e-book example, a second story could help you write a specific chapter in the book:
As a marketer, I want to learn which types of content our team should create so that we can maximize lead generation from every campaign.
Since the e-book project example also requires you and your team to create additional content, you could also use stories to define your audience's needs for a deliverable like the landing page where you'll promote the e-book:
As a marketer, I want to be reassured that this e-book is worth my valuable time so that I can really reap the benefits it promises after I download the e-book.
Later, when you plan, you'll break down the stories into manageable tasks you can assign to individuals on your team. Plan The Details Of Your Projects As Sprints Step 5: Break Your Stories Into Manageable Tasks Your Marketing Team Members Will Execute Stories are something a team works on together, while you assign tasks to your team members. Tasks are important because they break down a large project—which may seem difficult to even know where to start—into manageable pieces. And tasks help you divvy up the work among your team to use your resources as efficiently as possible. Let's look at an example story again for your e-book landing page:
As a marketer, I want to be reassured that this e-book is worth my valuable time so that I can really reap the benefits it promises after I download the e-book.
To build a landing page that fulfills this story, you'll simply list the tasks you need to complete in chronological order:
  1. Research landing page designs that convert.
  2. Write the landing page outline based on the research.
  3. Write the text.
  4. Design the wireframe.
  5. Design the landing page.
  6. Develop the landing page.
  7. Review the landing page.
  8. Publish the landing page.
  9. Promote the landing page.
You get the idea—the point is to break down a story into the step-by-step process you need to complete to check this story off your sprint backlog. Smaller tasks make it easier to estimate how much time it will take to complete the story (and subsequently, the project as a whole). Step 6: Thrash Your Project Into An MVP (Minimal Viable Project) It's time to take a critical look into your stories. You want to find where you might have frivolous uses of resources that could be used better for creating a minimum viable project rather than an extremely polished deliverable. https://vimeo.com/5895898 The real question here is this:
What stories or tasks could you cut to create a great project with the least amount of effort?
You probably want your project to be the most perfect thing in your niche, so this question might seem counterintuitive at first. However, the idea behind a minimum viable project is to eliminate risk by helping you:
  1. Create and publish quickly
  2. Measure your success
  3. Learn to improve
You can steal the idea of an MVP by cutting excess stories and tasks that don't negatively impact your specifications. This will save your team valuable time during execution while helping you complete your project faster. [Tweet "Remove excess work from your to-do list before you start your projects."] Step 7: Estimate The Level Of Effort For Every Story It's one thing to give your team a deadline to complete a project and another to know that the deadline is realistically achievable. By understanding how much time each task takes to complete (and subsequently rolling that estimation into the story), you'll be able to further understand what stories or tasks you'd like to cut from your project to complete it quicker while also being able to set practical due dates. To do this, you need to know two things first:
  1. Who will be accountable for completing each task. These are the team members who'll work together to complete the stories.
  2. The level of effort for each task. In other words, how much time will it take the person you'll assign the task to complete it?
For each task, write down who on your team you think is best suited to complete it the fastest. Then visit with each team member to ask how much time they'd estimate for every one of their tasks. Step 8: Plan The Scope Of Your Project As A Sprint Backlog Scope helps you define how much work you'll complete in a certain amount of time. It's the big picture of the project. Your marketing project may have many specifications and stories, so you may need to break the scope into phases, which agile marketers call sprints. Sprints often occur in two-week bursts in which you prioritize a specific number of stories to be completed. Since you estimated the level of effort for each story—and understand how much time each individual needs to contribute—you can realistically plan your sprints and subsequently know your deadline when the project will be 100% complete. A great way to show your entire project scope to your team is with a project schedule—aka sprint backlog. Step 9: Demand That You Ship On Time You know that your project will fulfill the specifications and stories. You also know your deadline is realistically achievable. So make sure you publish on time by preventing project thrashing—otherwise known as scope creep and last-minute changes—before you begin executing. Seth Godin has the best advice I've ever seen on this topic. Read Linch Pin to get the full scoop—and for your marketing project management, start here:
  1. Set the date when you'll publish. This is when you'll launch your project no matter what.
  2. Involve others in your initiation and planning process and write everyone's ideas down. This is important for your big wigs because, as Seth says, "This is their big chance."
  3. Show what you plan to do. Give them the opportunity to thrash your plan before you start executing. Changes now are alright, but once your team starts executing, this thrashing will dramatically impact your deadline.
  4. Give them an opportunity for one final review. Seth says, "Make sure everyone understands that this is the very last chance they have to make the project better."
  5. Revise the project blueprint into a final, comprehensive outline.
  6. Show your plan to the big wigs and ask, "If I deliver what you approved, on budget and on time, will you ship it?"
  7. Only start executing once you get your yes. No maybes. Then deliver what you promised, thrash-free.
This simple process should prevent scope creep, last-minute modifications, and other nitpicking with small details because you've nailed the big picture. Execute Your Marketing Project With A Clear Content Creation Process Step 10: Assign Tasks For Your Upcoming Sprint To Your Team It's finally time for your team to start creating content for your project! You just need to assign them the tasks to complete. The best way to begin is by choosing a marketing project management tool that will help you:
  • Manage your entire team and easily assign them their specific tasks to complete.
  • Assign specific deadlines for tasks to be completed on specific calendar dates.
  • Automatically notify your team that you've assigned them a task to complete.
  • Automatically remind your team as a due date for a task approaches.
If you're planning a recurring project—like blog posts or social media campaigns—it's also helpful to find a tool that helps you create your ideal workflow and save it to reuse on similar projects. Well, it just so happens that CoSchedule is a marketing project management tool designed to help you collaborate with all of those things. ;) Agile product managers refer to this kind of functionality as a task board. Whether you use CoSchedule to efficiently manage your process or not, you're looking for a system to help you:
  • See which tasks are completed, which should be in progress, and which are coming up.
  • Understand which tasks are overdue that may cause you to miss your deadlines.
Step 11: Communicate With A Tool That Keeps Collaboration In One Place While emails serve nicely as notifications and reminders to help your team get into the system where you manage your projects, they're not so great for managing project communication. That's where it's nice to manage your team communication around the project in the collaboration tool where you manage everything else. There are a few qualifications to make this work for your project:
  1. Avoid email to manage your project communication. Email forwards and strings can miss some replies to sender only, which can cause team members to miss critical information on your projects.
  2. Agree as a team to communicate consistently with the same tools for your specific purpose. This will help you maintain one version of the truth for all project communication to help the team collaborate more efficiently.
  3. Keep your comments, notes, and progress reports in the same tool where you manage your task board or workflow. This is especially important if you manage multiple projects at once.
You can rock that advice with nearly any project management tool, but there's one designed to help marketers like you manage..
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Did you do a lot of stupid things when you were a kid? Did you get caught and yelled at? Was your #1 go-to argument: Well, my buddy was doing it first - only to be told, “Well, if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” As a kid, there are certain people who influence and inspire you. As you get older, that doesn’t change. About 92% of consumers trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, more so than any other form of advertising. The result: Influencer marketing. Today, we’re talking to Shane Barker, a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing. He shares the top three things needed to execute a successful influencer marketing strategy, as well as pitfalls to avoid. [podcast_motor_player] Some of the highlights of the show include:
  • Influencer marketing is the practice of using social media influencers to promote your brand, Website, or products
  • Social media influencers have some type of influence over their followers, who trust and believe in them for information and guidance
  • Don’t look at the follower count; number of followers incentivizes who is an influencer, but fake followers are used to make that happen
  • Brands that use influencer marketing successfully include LinkedIn and LikeToKnowIt
  • Software can be used to find influencers - consider engagement rates and profiles, not “likes”; conduct research to build a long-term relationship
  • Pitfalls to Avoid: Don’t go after the influencer with the largest following and spend time selecting and setting expectations for an influencer
  • Measure success of influencer marketing via affiliate codes/links, Website/landing page traffic, brand mentions, engagement rates, etc.
  • Future of Influencer Marketing: How to scale this type of marketing, develop a win-win strategy, and educate brands on how to find influencers
If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.
Quotes by Shane Barker:
  • “Influencer marketing is essentially the practice of using social media influencers to promote your brand, Website, or products.”
  • “These people have some type of influence over their following.”
  • “Not all engagement is good engagement. Is that an influencer you want to have your name associated with?”
  • "That’s one of the big questions is like, 'Oh, what do I pay an influencer?' Well, it really depends. It really depends on the influencer because each one of them run their business differently."
 
[Tweet "How To Avoid The Most Costly Mistake In Influencer Marketing With @shane_barker"] Transcript: Eric: When I was a kid, I got into a lot of mischief with my friends, as I venture, you probably did as well when you were children. I had this one friend, his name was Clint, and we just did a lot of stupid things. When they were particularly moronic, we always got in trouble, our parents found out,  I’d be getting yelled at and my number one go to argument was, “Well, Clint was doing it first.” You know what the response was. You can see it coming a mile away. “Well, if Clint jumped off the bridge, would you, too?” Two things. One, that’s not really fair to my mom. She sounds nothing like that. She’s a wonderful mom with a beautiful voice. Two, turns out maybe I should’ve done more of what Clint was doing because he is now the VP of Strategy and Development at The LA Times. Kind of funny anecdote but really what it does is it really sums up just how influential people that we look up to or we hang around or that we trust can be, especially at that age, and really no surprises we grew up, that doesn’t change. Nielsen, a whopping 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. Well, marketers have figured it out, and of course we have influencer marketing now. It’s sort of the biggest buzzword that I’m hearing right now. How do you tap into it? How do you leverage individuals? There’s a lot of strategy around them. I brought on an influencer himself onto the Actionable Marketing Podcast. His name is Shane Barker. He’s our guest and he’s a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, as well as help with product launches, sales funnel and targeting traffic strategy, as well as website conversion.  He is a contributor to Ink, he’s a Fortune 500 consultant, and he has a number of A-List celebrity as clients, I’m told as well. He dives into one of the top three things to execute a successful influencer marketing strategy, and of course, what is the number one pitfall we should avoid. He hint it has to do with fake followers. One of the information around them in the news lately. Something we could have known but now everyone’s getting ousted for such a thing. He dives into all of this. It’s a great episode. I’m so excited to jump into it and have you introduced to Shane. My name is Eric Piela. I’m the Brand and Buzz Manager here at CoSchedule and the host of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Let’s get this thing underway. All right, let’s get AMPed. Very welcome. I’m excited for my guest on today’s Actionable Marketing Podcast. I have Shane Barker. Shane, welcome to the show. Shane: Hey, Eric. Thanks for having me, man. I’m excited about talking to you guys today. Eric: Yeah, I’m excited as well. This is one of those things where I have seen—whether it’s on social media or at conferences—your face so many times, you feel like you know somebody and just like that. You picked a really cool stained glass version of your profile. I feel like I know you. This should be fun. Welcome to the show. Shane: That’s awesome. That’s good. I’ll have to tell my team that since you’ve seeing use everywhere, that’s working, that’s good. Eric: It is. It is working. I’m a Brand and Buzz guy, so I’m all about exposure and I love you’re in the right place to sell. It’s finally get a chance to sit down and talk with you. I’m pumped to talk about our topic today, which I know you tons about, and that’s of course influencer marketing. Shane, I know you’ve got an illustrious background in digital marketing. You’re a consultant, you help obviously, you specialize in influencer marketing, but you also have product launches and sales funnel and targeting traffic and a whole lot of things sort of a long repertoire. I love it if you could take a moment just to take a chance, just talk about sort of your pedigree, if you will, and kind of how you ended up really specializing in this area. Shane: Yeah, absolutely. Really, it’s always so hard to have a title because there’s so many different things that I’ve done over the years. But really, I’m a digital strategist and we do branded influencer consulting. At shanebarker.com, which is really – we do consulting for companies, that can be on the brand side and the influencer side, and it can be under just general business development that people are looking for to grow their business. I have another side of my company called contentsolutions.io and that’s where we do content marketing. We do a lot of online PR stuff, a lot of people who want brand mentions or looking to get more publicity to their company or their launch or something like that. Once a time, with people come in and, like I said, they’re looking to kind of getting an idea of what they’re looking to do to be able to take their business to the next level and we can help them do all that. That’s kind of like my daytime job is, that is the influencer marketing, the product launches, sales funnels, all that stuff, the targeted traffic, and then my night time job is actually—I don’t know if you have noticed—I’m an instructor at UCLA. My teaching course out there called Personal Branding and How To Be An Influencer, which is pretty ironic because it’s in LA. There’s plenty of people out there that either want to be actors or want to be influencers. It’s a two-part course. One part is for how to be an influencer and the second part of the course is how brands can work with influencers. I work on both sides of the coin there. Eric: That’s fantastic. You’re on the academic side, on the corporate side, some great background. I noticed in your bio, you have helped a number of A-List celebrities. Can you share any of those for us? Is all that top secret? Shane: Yeah and no. Some of them I’ve had things that are signed that my attorney would probably lose their mind if I was to say their name. It’s funny. The reason why I can’t disclose a lot of them is because what it was is we’re doing online reputation management forum. What is was is people saying bad stuff online or TMZ came and did a story on them doing this, whether it’s true or not true. I have heavy on the PR side of helping people kind of clear their names. This one was kind of an interesting space. We also helped them back in the day, we helped a lot of influencers get verified on Facebook and Instagram and stuff I had some good connections, which these days you wait for them to come and to send you the email and whether you be verified or not. Back in the day, because I had the relationships through my firm, we were able to kind of get in the door and get some really big celebrities verified. That was kind of fun. Eric: Well, good. Fascinating. We’ll have to use our own imagination then with who they are. We’ll check the tabloids and see if we can find some. I’m excited to jump into kind of what made our conversation today, Shane. I was doing some research for our webinar and I ran across this interesting study by Nielsen. You’ve probably seen the stat but a whopping 92% of consumers around the world say that they trust – earned media such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, and that’s above all other forms of advertising. When we think about influencer marketing and sort of leveraging that relationship and that audience as a word-of-mouth and as a recommendation, boy, what a perfect time, what a perfect platform. In certain ways, I’m in the Brand and Buzz and sort of the PR world and influencer marketing really has become a large piece of that, so to speak. Maybe if we just start super simple, it be a quick refresher for our listeners. If you could just kind of talk to influencer marketing, maybe just a quick what it is and when is it working well? Shane: Yeah, absolutely. It is interesting because influencer marketing just last few years has really come, I know you’re hearing about it all the time. It’s something a lot of people are adding to their marketing mix. The idea of influencer marketing is essentially just the practice of using social media influencers from your brand like your website or products. When I say social media influencers, there’s a number of things that that can be. That can be writers, that can be people on Instagram, that can be YouTubers, there’s a number of different thing which we indicate as influencers. That’s one of things have to look at is that, “Hey we talk about influencers, what type of influencers do you think are going to be best to promote your product or service that you have?” The idea this is that, the people when we talk about influencer or we talk about influencer marketing, these people have some type of influence over their following. They built some type of a community. Whether that’s subscribers on YouTube, whether that’s followers on Instagram, whether that’s your email list that you have from your website, those are all things where you have influence over those people because some kind of content that you’re sending to them in your emails or videos or pictures or something. Those people, at a certain point, start to trust and believe in the things that you do and they’re looking to you for information, whether that be guidance or whatever that is. Everybody kind of has their own thing, there’s certain people they follow for those reasons. One of the big questions I get is like, “Is there any specific number? At what point do I become an influencer?” The numbers are something that I think kind of mess with the industry recently, just because a lot of the fake follower stuff. Brands would go in and the idea is that it would assume that there’s one influencer that has 10,000 and there’s one influencer’s 100,000 and one influencer that has a million. They automatically make the assumption that the person with a million followers is going to be the better way to go because that’s going to be more eyeballs. You’re basing this off in your mind which is like impressions. How many more people will see this because of a larger follower count. That’s where we’ve gone today where you jump into a lot of people who don’t take followers and stuff because the brands have incentivized people. “If you have 5000 followers, we’ll pay you this. If you have 10,000, you get paid this. If you have 100,000 then you get this really big payoff.” We really have to re-evaluate that. The problem is is that’s why people are going and getting fake followers because if I can make $1000 or $10,000 and all I have to do is get my follower count up, the issue is that, and I’m not blaming the brands but the issue is that the influencers are going to want to go to that next level so they can get paid a lot more money. What I’m telling brands is I don’t look at the follower count. That’s not the number one thing. The same thing with the influencers. Don’t make that your number one thing. I would much rather have somebody that has 1,000 heavily-engaged followers than 100,000 non-engaged followers. That’s what we look at, and we’ll talk about this a little later, but this is how you want to niche down and have a very specific thing. The example I could use is like a yoga instructor in Los Angeles. If you’ve always grown your following from that and we know that those are usually yoga people that are following you for the most part, or you have the opposite side of the coin of Kim K. where you don’t know what people are following them for. It’s either for the drama or because of her makeup line or because she’s together with Kanye West. You don’t really know so it kind of dilutes if you’re a brand. It’s not very niched down. So, you’re going, “Okay, I got the big eyeball. I’m going to pay the big price tag but you’re better off finding the influencer that, like I said, has that perfect audience for your perfect product or service. Eric: I think especially now in a content-saturated world, it’s hard to get any kind of reach to the audience you’re looking unless you’re willing to pay potentially on social and the idea of, “Hey, here’s the people I’m looking for, here are the people that they look to and respect and follow. If I can create a relationship or a partnership with this individual, I can get an immediate access to the right demographic from our product our product fed. I totally see it and there’s definitely some process behind that what you think we’ll dig into. Maybe make it tangible if you could, Shane, give us an example of a brand, maybe a B2C, and then maybe a B2B, who is using or doing influencer marketing right or do it well. Shane: Absolutely. I think from a B2B perspective, LinkedIn. Obviously, they’re huge but LinkedIn’s done a great job of leveraging influencers. They came out with a book called The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn. What they did is that they went and grab, I think it was 10 influencers. What they did was they went and interviewed them and said, “Hey, how do you use LinkedIn? Why do you like LinkedIn?” and they came out with this guide. The idea of the guide is to say, “Hey, these are great influencers. Look what they’re doing. They’re using LinkedIn. You should be using LinkedIn as well.” LinkedIn, obviously, sends it out to the network but then the other side of it, you have these 10 influencers that have their communities. Who doesn’t want to say that they’ve been included on LinkedIn in this Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide are getting sent. It’s a win-win. It’s like everybody wins in this situation. Those kind of things from a B2B perspective and using those influencers once again to create those guide and having those people go and promote it to their audience, is a no-brainer. You have some cross-promotions that are happening there. If LinkedIn is doing their thing and then you have the influencers doing their thing, all that drive traffic to LinkedIn and say, “Hey, (a) I’m a big deal because LinkedIn featured me, and (b) let me explain to you why I’m using LinkedIn and why it’s worked for myself as an influencer.” That’s more like the B2B space and then the B2C has been really interesting because of the retail space. LikeToKnowIt or LIKEtoKNOW.it, in regards to B2C, has been phenomenal. I don’t even know how many subscribers but I think it was 1.3 million. Some crazy amount like a 12-month period. What they did is they just built it out. They realized that there was going to be all these influencers out there. They’re realizing that they’re going to continue to take pictures and they’re going to do the things that they do, and then how are you going to be able to monetize that, which is great for the influencer to make some kind of commission of pictures that they’re already posting, assuming that they’re in the lifestyle or fashion space. On the other side of it, it’s great for brands because this person’s already posting a picture of your dress or your hat or whatever it is, your shoes, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have all those people click on that and then be able to go over to a place and be able to buy that? To be able to understand where that influencer got it. It really was a natural fit for both sides. But the key to the whole thing is how do you put that together, how do you put together an app where it makes it accessible for influencers to grab these types of clothing that you potentially already have and you go and find out their network, and then you go post it and you get some type of an affiliate credits for that. Because they were one of their early adopters and the way that they put their program together, now they are receiving, I think is, I don’t know, it’s like a thousand plus applications a week to be an influencer on their network. People write, so it’s crazy. Before, I’m sure they were probably started off, “Hey, we’ll accept anybody for the most part.” They probably had some kind of a vetting process, but now it’s a point where they literally have—I don’t know how many people on staff they have—just to review the applications and to make sure sure that things are going good and they’re picking the right influencers that fit well. There’s a lot of people that been writing about that blogger since, saying, “Hey, we don’t know the approval process but this is what we think that it is.” Once again, kind of like everybody’s trying to figure out the algorithm for Google and figure out, “Hey what do we need to do to be able to get number one.” Now, they’re trying to figure out like, “How am I going to be able to get on to LikeToKnowIt, to get on their network because of, once again, the possibility of making some money off of content that you are already going to be creating anyway.” Eric: I trust that you are enjoying the conversation with Shane Barker. Great information on influencer marketing. I want to take a quick moment just to pause and ask a favor. As we roll into 2019, I would love to get some feedback on particular guest you’d like to hear from or companies you’re curious about, our marketing tactics and strategies you’d like to learn a bit more about. You can send those to podcast@coschedule.com. Look forward to getting some of your insights and advice as we roll for another exciting year. All right, let’s get back to Shane’s conversation. What should we all be looking for when we’re deciding to build a relationship with an influencer? It’s not that they’re just everywhere. You’re going to have like, “Hey, look at me. I’m an influencer. Pay me and I’ll talk about your product.” There’s obviously some authenticity that needs to be a part of the influencer relationship there when you’re talking about your products, et cetera. But what recommendations do you have? You kinda hinted about maybe getting niched but what are some other things that I think we should think about and consider when doing so? Shane: I think the biggest thing and the biggest disconnect is that you really have to find the right influencers. That’s always the big question. How do I find those influencers? What do I do? How do I pitch them? What do we talk about? There’s obviously great software that you can use. There’s a number of software we use. I’m very lucky in a sense because I’ve been writing about this for a long time, I’ve been doing it for a long time. I get access to all the software. I’m blessed in that sense but we use Grin and there’s a number at influence.co. It just depends on how you want to put your campaigns together. What we do is we’ll go and let’s say we have a client and let us use yoga as an example. Let’s say there’s somebody in LA that have a yoga product they want to come out with and it’s very specific to a certain demographic or demographics and location. We would do is we would go in through Grin and we would go in and do the hashtags and take a look at keywords and stuff like that. Initially, we will pull a list. Let’s say we wanted to work with 10 influencers. We would look at maybe at 100 influencers or 50 influencers and ones that would have certain types of engagement rates and stuff like that. We’re not as excited about likes because I can go to Fiverr and go spend $5 and get 1000 likes on anything I want. That’s how people are messing with the system that we’ve built but we’re not worried about that. We’re more worried about engagement and really what it comes down to is an engagement rate can be, a good one is 2%-5%, something like that. Obviously, it’s nice to have higher but the idea that it’s just, as a base system, what we take a look at are..
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It’s every business owner’s dream to work with their ideal customers. But most of the time, we’re stuck working with clients who are either a wrong fit or difficult to work with. Being able to attract your dream audience can make an amazing difference in how you work. It not only makes you more motivated but it’s also a healthy way to run your business. With that said, part of attracting the kind of people you want to work with lies in your marketing copy. When people go to your site, the first thing they’ll read about you is your message. When you convey the wrong things, you might receive interest from people who often don’t end up as customers or just aren’t a good fit for you. That’s why it’s important to be conscious in what you communicate so you get targeted business prospects that love what you do and whom you’d enjoy working with! [Tweet "Improve your copywriting with these free templates!"] Get Your Free Copywriting Templates [Cookie "Get Your Free Copywriting Templates Bundle || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Blog_Ben_MarketingCopy-mockup.png || Download Now || https://media.coschedule.com/uploads/Copywriting-Templates.zip"] Getting to Know Your Ideal Customers A crucial part of establishing the right message lies in who your ideal customers are. Never just assume who your likely audience is. You need to do some sort of market and competitor research so you don’t have to go through numerous trial and errors. Don’t waste your time doing guesswork when it comes to your message. Follow the steps outlined below to make sure your message resonates with your dream clients! Discover and Understand Who Your Dream Audience Is One of the secrets of winning over your ideal customers is all about getting clear on the type of people best suited to you. That’s why finding who your best and true customers starts with what you like. The best person to work with is someone who won’t just pay you handsomely (although that would be awesome as well), he or she should be a joy to work with as well. Once you know who exactly to look for, everything else just falls into place. But first, you have to start by being clear on who your dream audience is. This could either be a company or person you’ve worked with in the past, or even a fictitious persona you’ve just drawn up. Start by asking yourself: what kind of people do you (or would) enjoy working with? List out a number of traits or look back at past clients who you liked. Let me give you an example of one of my dream client profiles:
My first deal client is a small to medium-size company looking to grow their sales. My person of contact wields a significant amount of decision-making weight. He (or she) can decide on copy matters without having to consult with a reviewing panel. He’s not afraid to try new things and knows what he’s looking for, which he makes sure to communicate clearly to me. Moreover, he values me as a crucial member of the team so my rates aren’t an issue. He knows the value of my work and frequently contacts me for any project he might need help in. Once he sees the results of the past projects, he continues to send work my way.
The more detailed your customer profile is, the better. More than just adding a significant amount of details, you can also create more than one ideal customer profile. You can develop an ideal client profile similar to the above with just three steps. Here’s how: 1. Define yourself first to establish the attributes that make them ideal. If you know who you are as a person, you’ll most likely know the type of person you’d love to work with. Start with the usual key traits that show up whenever you’re working with a client or interacting with customers and base off from that. For instance, if you’re the independent type when working, you might prefer someone who lets you do your thing and won’t micromanage you. If you’re the kind of person who likes being heard, include in your customer profile that they need to be open to feedback and suggestions. If you have a non-negotiable stance on your rates, you can include that he or she is the type who won’t lowball your rates. 2. Define your customers’ basic details. Now that you’ve established the part about what makes them your dream customers, it’s time to determine the other details. You can start with the following details:
  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Location (local or anywhere)
  • Work role
  • Online hangout places
above are just some factors you can consider to start with. Feel free to add more if you think a detail is relevant enough to be included. 3. Don’t be afraid to delve deeper. The last step is the most crucial of all. You need to get to know them deeply to have an effective message they’d want to read. Get familiar with their needs and wants to make sure your message speaks to their innermost desires, needs, and problems. [Tweet "6 questions to ask customers to improve your sales."] You can ask the following questions to start with:
  • What do they like?
  • What does he or she value the most when it comes to choosing someone to work with?
  • What are their struggles?
  • What are their most prominent beliefs and opinions?
  • What do they aspire in their life and business?
  • What keeps them interested?
These are just a few questions to help you imagine who your likely ideal audience is. Once you have a distinct image of the kind of customer you want to attract, writing a message that speaks to them becomes much more manageable. You can also add other psychographic details such as education level, personality type, fave blogs, and political affiliation, among others. Including most of the above will definitely allow you to build a complete picture of who your ideal customer is. Once you have that, crafting a message that speaks to your target market will be a much easier task! Determine What Their Pain Points Are Now that you have a complete overview of your ideal customer, it’s time to zero in on their pain points. This is a particularly important part because crafting the kind of marketing copy that attracts is your dream audience is all about knowing their problems and needs. However, it’s important that you don’t make any assumptions about your audience during this process or your message won’t likely resonate with them. That’s why you should start by asking the right questions. Use focused and open-ended questions that will allow you to learn more about your prospects and their struggles. For example, if your target is small business owners looking to expand, you may ask them questions like:
  • What has stopped you from growing your business so far? Why?
  • What aspect of your business has taken the most time and money? Why?
  • What’s your number one complaint about running your business? Why do you think it’s happening?
If you noticed, the above questions sought to pinpoint a particular issue first and then the reasoning why that problem occurred or keeps on happening. This line of questioning allows you to get to the root of the problem and gain much deeper insights on how you can help them solve that particular issue. Another method you can do is to analyze how they interact online. Should you have limited or no chance to survey your ideal customers, you can look at the places they hang out on online such as social media and forums. Some things you may want to look at are:
  • What do they frequently ask about or discuss with others?
  • What kind of information are they consuming? Are they frequent readers of marketing blogs or news sites?
  • What can you glean from their online behavior? Do they spend more time on social media than any other platform? Why could this be so?
The key here is to keep asking and asking until you get to the crux of their behavior. Maybe they’re on social media so much because they’re invested in the personal lives of others or are managing their business pages. You can then note the info down and see later on if it’s something you can use in your message. Whether you choose to engage with your ideal customers directly or analyze them from a distance—the important thing is to listen. Listening well will allow you to peel back the layers of their persona and what they’re struggling with. If you’re able to do that, you’ll be able to glean valuable customer insight that will allow you to speak to their inner desires and concerns. But don’t just resort to using your knowledge of your customers’ pain points to twist the knife and aggravate their pain. A more sustainable and non-icky route is to use it so you’ll know how to position yourself as the solution. Once you know what makes them tick, you’ll know the exact things they’re experiencing and would want to avoid. You can then use the information so you can figure out which pain points you can then help solve. From there, you can also figure out which desires you need to fulfill or fears of theirs you can help overcome which can be the basis of your business offer. Position Your Offer as the Answer to Their Pain Points This takes us to the next step which is to position your offer as the solution to their problems. You have to be able to convey how you can provide value in their lives and how you can help solve any of their particular pain points. You can include any of the following to position your offer:
  • Name your target audience. It’s important that it’s clear to your ideal customers that your business is geared toward them. You can do this by naming them directly or characterizing them in your message. Here’s a great example by Lever:
In their message, they make it clear that their target audience mainly consists of recruiters and hiring managers.
  • Show them that you understand them. This is where your research comes in. Mention a specific issue they’re likely still struggling with and include that in your message. This conveys that you know them and are intimately familiar with what they’re facing.
Toggl (image below) does this by including the line “Where did the time go?” For many of us, it’s easy to lose track of time and wonder how you spent it all along. The brand aptly addresses the said concern with the headline they used in their homepage.
  • State your key benefit. For this part, make sure you include the most compelling reason why they should do business with you. Buffer does this below by stating that they can help you save time when it comes to managing your social media.
  • Provide a context on how you can help them. To make your message more powerful, it’s not enough to mention a specific benefit. Take it a step further and provide an instance when your product or service can be valuable. This makes it easier for them to understand how your offer fits in with their needs or problems.
Shopify does this by stating that you can use their platform “whether you sell online, on social media, in store, or out of the truck of your car...” It makes it easier for Shopify’s visitors to self-select whether the platform is suitable for them or not.
  • Add your most compelling differentiator. It’s not enough to offer them the solutions they need, you also have to let them know what makes you different from your competitors. You can do this by mentioning a USP that fulfills a specific problem your core audience.Dreamland does this perfectly by stating that they’re “The only brand with the rights to use the patented Miracoil springs - the world's most advanced spring system to date.”
Once most or all of the above are in place, you’ve now made a solid positioning that will grab the attention of your ideal customers! [Tweet "Here's how to craft copy that your audience will connect with"] Crafting Copy That Your Audience Can Connect With Now that you’ve got their attention, it’s time to craft your marketing copy in a way that your audience can resonate with. No matter how well you’ve positioned yourself, it won’t mean a thing if you can’t properly translate that into your message. That’s something you can accomplish through the below tips. Create the Perfect Hook Through Social Listening Leading with the right hook allows you to build on the interest of your prospects and encourage them to read more about your message. To craft the kind of hook that will win over your audience, it has to first speak to what they’re going through—specifically their wants and fears. You’ll know what those are by doing social listening research that involves:
  • Tracking mentions of your brand or business on social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
  • Checking out review sites on what customers are saying about your products or services (e.g. Amazon, Yelp)
  • Analyzing your online metrics to see if there are any patterns or trends you should take advantage or steer clear of (e.g. increased traffic from Instagram, backlinks from bad sites)
Doing the above can clue you in on the conversation that’s going in on their heads and what kind of words they’re using. The key here is to use the same words in your message so they can resonate with what you’re trying to convey. For example, if the primary concern of your ideal customers is self-improvement, use words that would tie in with that concept. Using words like success, purpose, transform, achievement, and their variations to hook your target prospects is an effective way to cater to their deepest desires and needs. You might craft your hook like this:
Transform your life and finally achieve the business success you’ve always wanted! Let me help you become more confident and proactive in building a business that aligns with your life’s purpose.
Craft Boredom-Free Messages That Stick to Mind If you haven’t noticed, today’s web readers get bored fast. And bored people hop on to the next thing that will catch their attention. So once you catch your ideal customers’ attention, you need to be able to keep it with a boredom-free marketing copy that will stick to their mind even after they’ve finished checking you out. One of the ways you can do that is by writing conversationally. Why? Because people won’t be able to connect with your brand or business if you’re always talking jargon or doing a lot of “business speak.” That’s why it’s important to craft your marketing copy like how you talk. Use “you” a lot and don’t make the mistake of only talking about yourself or your business. Just like in real life, no one likes people or businesses that are always full of themselves. Your message should be about them and what they could get from you. Another way to keep your readers from being bored is to avoid marketing buzzwords. Using marketing drivel doesn’t add any value to your message and will only serve to make you sound hollow. Moreover, it makes you sound like everybody else which is the surest way to be thrown into the “businesses no one really remembers” category. The key thing to remember here is to just make sure your brand sounds real. If your brand is a reflection of yourself, incorporate parts of yourself that you want to show. Maybe you have a straightforward, no-BS approach way of communication, then make sure it’s evident in your copy. One particular example of a business that does this well is Firebox. It’s a fun, humorous brand that likes incorporating amusing takes on gift-giving. Check out their latest homepage copy: They tweaked their site’s headline in light of the Christmas season to let people know (cheekily) that the holidays is really all about the gifts. You don’t always have to use humor to make your message interesting. Just do most, if not all, of the above tips and you can make your brand appear more accessible and easier to connect to! Sell Without Using Hype Hype-based selling is all about using exaggerated tactics to fire up readers so they would be more compelled to buy. Although it’s common to see this type of tactic used on today’s marketing copy, it can easily backfire since you’re trading your credibility for short-term returns. It’s much better to go for a method that’s much more viable to use for the long run because it’ll help build loyalty toward your brand. A good example of a hyped up claim is, “If You Know How to Write, You Can Be a Published Book Author in 2 Weeks – Guaranteed!” As a writer myself, I know that it takes more than just knowing how to write to be a published book author. You have to have specific knowledge of what you’re writing about and be able to self-publish and market it or get a publishing outfit to help you distribute your book. More than just that, it would take more than two weeks to publish a book. The only way that kind of claim would be valid is if they’re churning out ready-made books for people to publish. This type of implausible claims can only appeal to those who are impatient for results and such people would likely drop you the second you fail to live up to your claims. If you’re looking for long-term customers who will stick with you, that isn’t just the way to go. Even without hype, you can write powerfully persuasive marketing copy by tailoring your message to resonate with your ideal customers’ needs and wants. Because at the end of the day, conveying your value is still what seals the deal. Write With Specificity Including specific details in your message is another remarkable way to increase your credibility. It’s not only more believable but it also positions you as a knowledgeable source when it comes to that topic. Sharing specific data means you did your due diligence in advance so you can provide your prospects the right information to aid in their buying decision. Rev does this by sharing a statistic on their ad that they can tie in with their services. While in their caption, they provide a specific turnaround time (24 hours), their accuracy rate (99%), and their price per minute ($1). This goes beyond your standard spiels like “quick service” and “accurate work.” After all, people will have different definitions of what fast or accurate is so it’s better to be specific on the exact meanings of your claims. You can also apply the concept of specificity when it comes to your benefits. Just choose one specific benefit that has the most advantage for your target market. This helps your message to immediately resonate with them. TransferWise uses this method to make their home page’s web copy more compelling. They start out by stating how much exactly do banks typically charge when sending money (up to 5% in hidden costs) and that they’re actually “8x cheaper,” which means more savings for its users. By using the above tactics, your target prospects will be going, “This is for me!” in their heads long before they’re finished reading what you have to say! Converting Your Best Prospects to Lifelong Customers Now that you’ve managed to grab their attention and attract them to your brand, it’s time to convert them as lifelong customers. Once you’ve got good people looking at you, it only makes sense to have them on your team—for good (or as long as possible). Overcome Barriers to Purchase Most people don’t just buy on a whim. If it’s an especially big purchase, you can bet that your customers will likely take their sweet time thinking about whether to buy it or not. Converting your target prospects into actual paying customers means you have to be able to pre-empt any concerns they may have about buying from you. A good way to do this is to reframe the cost of your offering especially if the product or service you’re offering is expensive. Cast your pricing in a different light by positioning the cost as an investment for them. Let them know that they’d only need to pay a high fee once and that they’ll be able to reap the returns repeatedly in the future. Or you can also break down the total cost to a much more digestible amount. For instance, if you’re offering a $30 monthly membership course, let them know that they’ll get to learn from your expertise for just $1 a day or for less than the cost of one Starbucks coffee. Whatever paints a better picture for your audience. Another way to make the buying process easier is to offer different price tiers such as the one below: This is because not all costs can be reframed. That’s why in such cases, it’s better to just have a variety of pricing points that your audience can choose from. Lastly, take away the risks of buying from you. Offer a free trial or a money-back guarantee for a specific period of time. Using the above tips will definitely ensure a much smoother buying process to help your prospects become your lifelong customers. Get People to Act on Your Message with a Strong Call-to-Action Copy What’s a superbly crafted message if it doesn’t compel your target audience to act? Now that all the other elements are in place, the next logical step is to move them toward a specific action. For that, you’ll need a call-to-action or CTA to end your message. Compelling calls-to-action prompts your prospects into engaging with your brand or website in some way. And for that you’ll need two things: a compelling button copy and a striking visual presentation. Here’s an amazing example by HubSpot: In the above example, they ditched the standard “Sign Up” and “Free Trial” CTA copy for a more benefit-oriented one: ”Convert More Visitors.” Moreover, they made sure the CTA button popped out by using the color green to contrast with the orange background. [Tweet "160 power words to improve your #CTAs"] To craft a compelling call-to-action button, you can do any of the following things:
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