Fractl is a content marketing agency that fuses data journalism with PR. Partner with us to increase your organic traffic, press mentions, & conversions. Our mission is to produce the most engaging and emotional experiences on the web.
It’s no secret that content marketing can be labor intensive. Creating an engaging, well-researched, beautifully designed piece of content isn’t easy. It’s a creative process that requires time, energy, and money. So it makes a lot of sense to repurpose content to get the highest level of return possible.
By repurposing content, you can increase your productivity, and dramatically accelerate your content production by putting in just a small amount of extra work.
But how do you know how to repurpose content?
Here’s everything you need to know to get more mileage out of your best material.
What Is Repurposing Content?
Repurposing is taking content, research, and ideas and finding multiple ways to reformat and reuse them. It’s stretching the contents of your creative work to produce other unique blog posts, ebooks, guides, infographics, guest posts, social media posts, and more.
For example, you could conduct original research and compile it into a white paper. You could then use pieces of data from the white paper to create an infographic that you distribute to other websites. You could also write a blog post about the data and turn individual charts into graphics that are used as social media images.
This example shows how efficient and effective content repurposing is and how it can benefit your marketing efforts:
You can work smarter instead of harder.
You do the research once. You create a compelling idea or hook one time. Then, you use the original core concepts to create branches of content that are unique yet based on the same foundation.
You can stretch your resources.
When you create an epic piece of content, the last thing you want to do is toss it to the side once it has fulfilled its original purpose. Through repurposing, you can find new uses for content even years later by republishing, revising, and renewing.
You can connect with new audiences.
Content that works for one audience may not work for another. Through repurposing, you can make sure your content resonates with a variety of audiences by creating multiple pieces of content based on the same topic, yet written for the preferences of different demographics or verticals. You can change the hook or reposition data to make it a better fit for publication on a variety of websites and blogs.
You can create multiple types of content formats.
Certain content formats perform better on certain platforms. So when you reformat your content into a variety of formats such as infographics, images, charts, and smaller graphics, you can successfully publish your content across multiple platforms.
You can achieve a variety of unique goals.
Different types of content produce different results. Repurposing allows you to turn your story into the type of content best suited to help you reach your goals. For example, if you want to collect leads, you can turn content into a gated white paper, or if you want to get more digital PR, you can publish guest posts sharing the findings of your study.
Here are a few ways you can repurpose and reuse your content, research, and ideas successfully.
How to Repurpose Content
Content repurposing takes content and reuses it in multiple ways. This could be taking one piece of content and breaking it down into multiple pieces or it could be taking a bunch of smaller pieces of content and combining them to create something new.
Turn One Piece of Content Into Multiple Pieces of Content
Let’s walk through a situation where you could create one piece of content, and then use it to create dozens of pieces of repurposed content.
Start with a webinar. Deliver a presentation that includes slides and a full script.
Live stream the webinar. Connect with a new audience by live streaming your webinar through social media sites like Facebook Live, Periscope, and/or Meerkat.
Publish the slides on SlideShare. You already created the slides so don’t let them go to waste. Publish them on this professional content sharing community and promote them through LinkedIn.
Put the full webinar on YouTube or Vimeo. Record both the sound and screen during your webinar and then upload it to one or both of these platforms. You can then embed the video on your website.
Put short video clips on social media. Create small snippets of the webinar and publish them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Turn the audio into a podcast. Upload the audio from your webinar onto a podcasting platform like iTunes Podcast App or Stitcher.
Publish the transcript as a blog post. Turn the audio into text and use it as on-site content.
Turn your topic into a short ebook. Take the content you discussed during your webinar and create a short ebook on the information.
Turn the information into an email series. Break the information into sections that you can release to audiences through an email drip campaign.
Break the content down into multiple blog posts. Use smaller sections of content to create blog posts focused on more specific topics.
Turn your slides into social media graphics. Pull graphics, quotes, images, and charts from your presentation to create images that are a fit for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Turn Multiple Pieces of Content Into One Piece of Content
Repurposing content also works in reverse. You can take multiple pieces of content and turn it into one epic campaign. You could turn:
a series of blog posts into an ebook
a library of interviews into a digital summit
a group of social media images into an album
an email series into a PDF guide
a group of audience questions into a guide
Before you start your next content creation project, take a minute to review the content you already have. You will likely uncover multiple ways to create new content using existing resources and assets.
How to Repurpose Research
If you are going to go through the labor-intensive job of collecting original data, you want to use the data in as many ways as possible.
To get the most out of your research, create data sets that can stand on their own, and create content around each of those sub-topics.
At Fractl, we surveyed more than 500 top-tier publishers. Instead of using our findings to create one piece of content, we drilled down into sections of the data. From one survey, we created three pieces of unique, long-form content.
Content Asset #1: Guide for Best Practices for Pitching Publishers
Content Asset #2: Media Relations Guide on Etiquette
We also looked at the data as it related to understanding the perspectives of the publishers we interviewed. We created the “Media Relations Guide on Etiquette” by sharing the parts of the data that specifically related to understanding their pain points, preferences, and the etiquette of pitching.
By looking at our data and considering the multiple perspectives that audiences would be interested in learning about, we were able to turn small data sets into their own white papers. This enabled us to turn one research project into multiple resources and get the most value out of our work.
How to Repurpose Ideas
A lot of marketers make the incorrect assumption that successful content needs to be 100% original. But putting different spins on similar topics has proven to be successful.
You can repurpose ideas by looking at one main concept from different angles to create multiple pieces of content.
At Fractl, we found a way to stretch the topic of travel hygiene for our client Travelmath. We started with researching hygiene in public spaces and then slightly spun the topic to make it something new for publishers.
Each article was completely unique and told from a different perspective, but all built from the same concept and methodology.
How to Repurpose Content by Republishing and Revising
You can also repurpose by turning old content into new, fresh content. Republishing and revising is a way to recycle your content so your work never goes to waste. You can do this in three ways.
Update Your Long-form Content Assets
When you spend time and resources creating long-form content assets, you cannot let that hard work go to waste as your content becomes outdated. Continually revisit your guides and reports so they include relevant information. Consider creating and promoting quarterly or annual updates. HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound Study is a good example of updating done right.
Republish on Your Website
Just as you don’t want your old long-form content assets to go to waste, you don’t want to let your old blog posts to collect dust either. Revisit your old posts, update the content with fresh information, add new images, adjust the titles, and republish it as a new post. This is not duplicate content if you republish the content properly and don’t change the URL or publish it on a new URL.
We all know the phrase, “Good things come to those who wait.” And when it comes to content marketing, this idiom rings true. Content marketing can produce short-term results, but its true value is achieved over time.
Content Marketing Takes Time to Produce Results
It’s no surprise that marketers want to see results from their work immediately. We want to publish a campaign and see a quick return on our investment. Still, that rarely happens in content marketing.
It takes time to see results. We estimate that it takes the following:
Six months to see results from on-site content marketing
Six to 12 months to see results from off-site content marketing
While that may seem like a long time to wait to see content marketing results, there is good news: When content marketing begins to produce results, the returns are long-lasting and compounding.
Content Marketing Proves Lasting Value Over Time
When you work on content marketing, you don’t produce something that you use once and then toss aside; you create materials that are useful for years to come. Content marketing creates evergreen end products that continually serve a business.
You can create one piece of content and repurpose or completely reuse it year after year.
Content is an asset that never breaks down or needs to be thrown away. It’s affordable to maintain, and it provides lasting value over time.
Fill Website Real Estate
Each time you create a piece of content, you add a building block to your website. You develop a larger resource that becomes a more useful asset. Websites with a large amount of high-quality content perform better in search and have higher rates of user engagement. “Evergreen” content lasts forever – you create it one time and use it to provide value as long as your business exists.
Establish Authority and Build Trust
As a brand’s website grows, so does its reputation. Websites that are filled with dozens or even hundreds of pages of useful content appear more trustworthy, established, and dependable. Audiences are more likely to find and engage with websites that provide thorough and abundant resources.
Provide Resources for Repurposed and Republished Content
Content serves a lasting purpose in its original state. But businesses can also “recycle” old material. When you create a large resource of content, you can pull from that content to create new content. You can repurpose successful content to create something new. Or, you can republish content by updating it and re-releasing it.
Creating content takes time and resources. Luckily, the work does not produce one final product that will be used once and then thrown to the side. Once you create a piece of content, you can use it for years to come, reuse it in multiple ways, and even see its value grow over time.
Content Marketing Has Compounding Returns
Content has lasting value that provides compounding returns over time.
The longer the content exists and the more content you create, the higher your returns will be.
Like a good investment, content marketing has compounding returns that add up over time and continue to add more and more value. The more content you create, the better the returns will be on all of the other content that came before it.
Increase Inbound Links
By producing more on-site content, you increase the odds that your website will receive links. There are more pages for websites to link to. The more links your website receives, the better it is for your overall website. As the number of links grows, so will your website’s SEO power and ability to be found (and linked to) by more and more publications.
As you create more content, your website’s number of backlinks grows, the search rankings improve, and more audiences can find your content. Users will be more likely to find your site through search and links from other sites. Search engine and referral traffic lift is a byproduct of successful content marketing over a period of time.
Increase Page Views
When content is newly published, it typically has a spike in traffic. New content attracts initial views. But as the content exists over time, it will continue to receive a lasting stream of views. Tomasz Tunguz found that only one-third of the views on a blog post occured on the first day. The blog posts then generated between one and two times more traffic over time.
Produce a Higher ROI
You can see that continually publishing valuable content will have a profound long-term impact on your search engine rankings and audience engagement. This is a result of securing high-quality links, driving thousands of social engagement events, and increasing the overall notoriety of your brand. With these lasting and compounding returns, you get a higher ROI.
The return on your investment with content marketing continues to grow over time.
You can continue to see results even years after launching your campaigns, making content marketing a smart investment with lasting power and the possibility for returns much higher than with other promotional strategies.
We have seen first-hand how content marketing can produce lasting and compounding value in our client campaigns.
Movoto 6-Month Case Study
Real estate research and brokerage website Movoto approached Fractl when they were in the beginning stages of building and growing their digital presence.
We worked with them to create a six-month content marketing plan with the goals to:
Showcase Movoto’s authority on local markets
Increase brand recognition
Drive traffic to the Movoto website
Earn links back to on-site content
Fractl’s strategies for accomplishing each goal were to:
Create content. Buying, selling, or renting a home is an inherently emotional experience, so we turned to our research on viral emotions to figure out how to identify with and engage the audience and Movoto’s prospective clients.
Consistently release content on Movoto’s website. We executed a monthly calendar to release campaigns in a variety of dynamic formats.
Promote content. Our PR specialists reached out to their networks to secure placements with established and authoritative voices on leading websites.
This wasn’t a short-term plan. We executed this strategy over six months, knowing it would take time to achieve the results Movoto wanted. To reach our goals, we would need time.
This long-term approach worked. We reached our goals after releasing 14 large-scale, multi-asset marketing campaigns over six months.
We increased brand awareness and industry authority for Movoto by spreading their content widely throughout the web. The content we created was mentioned on more than 1,700 websites, including Mashable, People, Glamour, Mental Floss, and Daily Mail. It was also shared over 1.7 million times.
The exposure took time, but it was worth it when we saw the powerful results from six months of content marketing.
eBay Deals 2-Year Case Study
eBay already had brand recognition in their industry before approaching us, but they wanted to build brand awareness and improve SEO for targeted categories in their newer vertical, eBay Deals.
We started with a six-month contract, which turned into a two-year relationship once eBay saw the success of our campaigns.
Our strategy focused on improving SEO and awareness for various eBay verticals. We created more than 60 content marketing campaigns that were highly relevant for targeting customers, and we connected that content with the influencers we knew would help get it in front of our ideal audience.
The long-term results of this strategy included year-over-year growth for sales, SEO clicks, and traffic.
Our eBay campaigns resulted in more than 2,000 featured stories and 75,000 social shares. The links gave their website nearly two million domain authority points and set a foundation that would lead to even more page views over time.
Recovery Brands 36-Month Case Study
Recovery Brands teamed up with Fractl when they were in the early stages of their business and wanted to build their digital presence. They hoped to accomplish a variety of goals for their new website, which focused on helping people and families find recovery from addiction.
Initial goals for Recovery Brands included:
More social media attention
We created a plan for them that would provide results within a year. We also looked at long-term goals and strategized to build on our initial results so we could keep boosting their brand over time.
Within one year, Fractl helped Recover Brands improve their traffic by 1,100 percent, receive four million page views, and land PR mentions in 1,200 feature stories.
We helped Recovery Brands achieve those results by:
Creating research-heavy campaigns that aligned with their mission
Using interesting content mediums such as motion graphics, mixed media, interactive features, quizzes, mobile applications, and long-form content
Featuring attention-grabbing content that was both emotionally appealing and educational
The unique, exciting, and authoritative content caught the attention of both readers and publishers, which lead to many PR placements and mass exposure. We continued using this formula over the next three years and watched Recovery Brand’s success grow and compound with time.
By the end of the three-year period, we helped Recovery Brands go from a relatively unknown new brand to a company that was featured in more than 12,500 stories and mentioned on social media more than 1.2 million times.
In all three of these campaigns, we saw growth in brand awareness, improvements in SEO and traffic, an increased number of backlinks, and higher influence on social media channels. Some of that value was immediately noticeable, but most of it was achieved over time.
Content is an effective and powerful marketing strategy, but it is a long-term strategy with results that grow and compound year after year.
If you are about to embark on a new content marketing campaign, don’t focus on immediate results. Instead, set long-term goals and create plans that will provide lasting, compounding value for your brand for years to come.
Want to see how Fractl has used smart content marketing to produce valuable, lasting results for dozens of other clients? Check out our full library of client case studies to see how we plan our content marketing campaigns step by step.
One of the more well-known benefits of content marketing revolves around its direct technical relationship with SEO through link building, including increases in organic and search site traffic and higher search rankings. Its ability to uncover referral traffic from campaign media mentions, build a diverse link portfolio, and increase the amount of on-site content prove that content marketing is truly a holistic strategy for driving site traffic.
Brand awareness is another widely discussed benefit directly related to content marketing. Targeted digital media promotions allow your brand and its content to be seen by publishers’ audiences through organic coverage (i.e. not paid native advertisements or sponsored content), making it more authentic and credible to the audiences you want to reach.
More Than Just a Driver for Site Traffic and Brand Awareness
While these are both incredibly valuable benefits that compound over time, high-quality content marketing also offers a plethora of other cost-effective perks allowing brands to stay competitive. So if you’re looking for more reasons to join the other 76 percent of B2C and 88 percent of B2B marketers already using content marketing, we have a list of some of the peripheral benefits our current clients have seen.
1. Qualified Demand and Lead Generation
With more control over your brand’s messaging, content marketing allows your brand to either create content with broad appeal for mass awareness or gated content targeted at specific buyer personas.
A broader approach aimed at raising awareness leads to mass demand generation through widely appealing content. Videos, listicles, blog posts, and free resources are often promoted on social media, and therefore can still target specific audiences while still offering that mass appeal to help with demand generation.
The latter generates more qualified leads through valuable, detailed content. Gated content in particular often offers valuable information in the form of case studies, white papers, industry reports, ebooks, and even webinars in exchange for contact information. This gate acts as a filter to help weed out low potential leads.
2. Thought Leadership
By producing and promoting valuable content, audiences and potential leads will recognize your brand as a credible resource and trustworthy authority in your industry. Like other content marketing benefits, thought leadership has a compounding effect as it also helps your brand grow a long-term audience.
For example, by supplementing industry knowledge with new data-driven research, our nine-month engagement initiative with BuzzStream helped establish the influencer marketing CRMI as an authoritative tool and resource among PR professionals. A mix of large-scope campaigns, gated assets, and evergreen on-site content helped BuzzStream break its weekly record for new signups.
3. Audience Growth and Retention
To further the previous point, as your brand becomes an established authority in your industry, your audience will organically grow. Consistently producing quality and valuable content is not only helpful for attracting an audience, but for retaining it as well. When social media users come across something they find share-worthy, they often go to the source to find out how to get more.
Our partnership with online sports merchandiser Fanatics focused specifically on relaunching its blog. A mix of evergreen and timely content about the most popular teams and athletes helped the blog see a 1,100 percent increase in organic search traffic within just six months – a substantial growth in the client’s audience.
4. Industry Recognition
Thought leadership built upon quality content goes beyond your audience of potential customers and clients; key players and even competitors will also begin to take note and recognize your brand as an innovative authority figure within your industry.
B2B client Alexa approached us wanting to get its name and resources in front of the right people, which meant we needed to brainstorm a targeted content creation and promotion strategy that secured top-tier industry coverage.
Over the course of just four campaigns, we did just that through a thorough analysis of its target audience’s needs as well as adapting to what the publishers feeding that audience wanted. This balance, paired with using Alexa’s own internal, authority-making data, helped our promotions team secure over 560 media mentions, including coverage on Marketing Land, Adweek, and Inc— all closely related to Alexa’s target audience.
5. Team Recruitment and Morale
Brand awareness isn’t just about generating interest in your brand among potential leads or customers; it’s also about making your brand known to potential talent. The most ambitious job seekers will be on the hunt for a company with an established reputation, and with the help of content marketing and subsequently increased search rankings, your brand will be on the radar of inbound job applicants’ queries.
Additionally, employee-generated content helps give your brand a unique voice and your team a voice within the brand. While it’s important to maintain a consistent brand image, employees contributing to various content efforts, like an on-site blog or social accounts, humanize a brand.
With so much attention on building a robust link portfolio for boosting search rankings, it can be easy to lose sight on the bigger picture and the other benefits a holistic content marketing strategy provides. Backlinks are an important aspect of content marketing, but focusing just on this one aspect in your strategy means you’ll be missing out on these other invaluable benefits.
A stellar piece of content can do more than look pretty on your site and educate or entertain your audience. With the right digital PR, it can score coverage by top-tier publishers and make the rounds to a range of other sites.
This earned media delivers a diverse set of high-quality links, including dofollows, co-citations (when one site links to another site that links to your content), nofollows, and text attributions. This “healthy” mix signals to Google that these links were natural and not bought.
To help you understand what a quality link profile looks like, we’re going to dissect a healthy backlink report from one of our high-performing client campaigns. We’ll first look at the campaign and then see how our promotional strategy earned links.
(Scroll to the end of the post for the full link portfolio.)
Our White Lies: Where Is the Line? campaign for DIRECTV used original research (a survey of 2,000 people from across the U.S.) to discover how people perceive fibbing vs. lying.
Our team came up with a huge list of lies, which we whittled down to 25 and asked survey participants to rank on a scale from 1 to 5 for how severe they thought each lie was, if they’ve been guilty of it, etc. We then visualized the results in a variety of graphics, like this one:
Once the campaign was complete and approved by the client, our media relations team took over.
Promotion of the Campaign
At Fractl, we never resort to scam-y link-building techniques. Instead, our media relations associates reach out to writers and editors at publications that would be interested in the campaign.
Because our campaigns are created with both the client’s goals and targeted publishers’ wants and needs in mind, the content is a natural editorial fit.
For this campaign, the client’s goal was to raise awareness for the DIRECTV CINEMA Exclusive pay-per-view release window for the film, “The Program.” That told us to aim for widespread coverage on top-tier publishers’ sites with high domain authority.
Securing the Exclusive
Publishers like being the first to report on things, so we used this to our advantage and offered what we call “the exclusive” to a writer at The Huffington Post.
He wrote about the campaign’s findings, gave an awesome plug and link to DIRECTV, and featured a few of the graphics in his coverage.
With a domain authority of 98, The Huffington Post certainly made a great impression at the top of our inbound link report.
After the initial coverage, two things happen with our high-quality content:
The media relations associate continues pitching the campaign to other publishers.
Other publishers catch wind of the campaign and natural syndication occurs.
After sending the campaign to Elite Daily, it was featured there as well.
The coverage appeared in our final backlink report as a dofollow.
Our media relations associate also found success with YourTango.
The backlink report presented to the client indicates close to 400 social shares. You may notice the screenshot above shows 662 shares; this means there was a 73% jump in shares since we compiled the report.
It’s important to note you can expect increases like that in backlink reports you compile or receive.
College Candy responded favorably to our pitch – even inserting a gallery of all the campaign’s graphics.
While the domain authority is lower (62) and social shares fewer (32), this is still great coverage and the link is highly valuable.
Pro tip: Don’t focus only on top-tier publishers. A well-rounded mix of links from sites with varying domain authority tells the search engines your content and site is high-quality.
Also honing in on the “sex” angle, Women’s Health wrote an article about the campaign’s results.
The story was shared 758 times, which is excellent traction.
The last placement that was a result from our outreach efforts was Teen Vogue.
With 637 social shares, this was another publication with a built-in female audience that resulted in a high number of shares.
Now, let’s look at how organic syndication creates a healthy inbound link portfolio.
Syndication occurs when one publisher’s coverage of a campaign results in another site picking up that story and covering it as well. And Google likes this – according to their “link schemes” page:
“The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.”
Sounds like syndication, right?
Near the top of our backlink report are two international sites with a domain authority of 90.
You’ll see plenty of other overseas publishers in the backlink report as well. These sites usually still link to and cite your content directly; see the screenshot from actualidad.rt.com below.
This publisher even redid the campaign’s graphics for its Spanish-speaking audience:
Just under the international sites on the backlink report are two local news sites that picked up the story:
The Detroit radio station WOMC not only linked to our campaign, but it helped spread the awareness for DIRECTV’s “The Program.” Backlinks and brand recognition go hand in hand with high-quality content.
Backlinks and brand recognition go hand in hand with high-quality content. Click To Tweet
Mix 94.1, a Las Vegas radio show, also wrote about the campaign and provided a backlink to it. This is how they cited our client:
Pro Tip: If a publisher features your content or results but doesn’t include a backlink to your site, you can always request they do so. This is standard practice for our media relations department when certain sites (e.g., high domain authority publishers) cover our campaigns but don’t include a dofollow link.
Syndicating on Low-DA Sites
While a backlink from a site with a low domain authority won’t do much for your site’s search engine ranking on its own, links from sites with a wide range of authority help to paint the whole picture for Google.
Look at these links from our report:
The domain authority here is rather low, which tells Google that all levels of publishers found our campaign interesting and chose to spread it on their own.
Syndication also occurs on social media, which we’ll get into in our next section.
Other Link Types
So far we’ve examined dofollow links, which pass the most “SEO juice” from one site to another. Now, let’s look at the other types of links.
The next part of our backlink report shows co-citations (when a publisher links to a third-party site instead of yours). Co-citations incrementally raise the value of the initial link.
Here are the first three:
The LinkedIn link is an article a user shared on his account. While LinkedIn boasts a domain authority of 100, links from users don’t carry as much weight as “regular” publishers. What matters more with social network links is engagement (comments, likes, etc.).
The MY 102.5 and Times Union links are considered a co-citation because they link to The Huffington Post article about our campaign.
Co-citations are also a valuable part of a healthy backlink report because they show multiple publishers found your content important.
In addition to over 100 co-citations, our backlink report includes four nofollow links of varying domain authority.
A nofollow link is a direct hyperlink to your content, but it blocks any SEO value from being passed.
Sounds pretty meh, right?
There’s actually a lot of hidden value in nofollow links. When a top-tier site like Yahoo uses a nofollow link, other publishers can pick up the story and include a dofollow link to your site. Plus, getting in front of Yahoo’s audience is a great brand booster!
Speaking of brand recognition, this is the main perk to the last type of link in our backlink report: text attribution.
Here are a few from the report:
Sure, it’d be great if the NY Post included a dofollow link to the campaign, but check out the nice brand plug below:
Plus, Google aims to recognize brand authority in an organic way, including text attributions.
While TV, radio, and print coverage can’t provide backlinks, they are a bonus that help with brand recognition.
Our White Lies campaign was the talk of the TODAY show anchors during a segment. And check out the nice DIRECTV plug on one of their graphics:
A strong content marketing campaign earns a well-rounded mix of backlinks. This includes the different types of links (dofollow, co-citation, nofollow, and text attribution) and the domain authority of linking sites.
While other kinds of marketing like native advertising guarantee one link from a top-tier publisher, high-quality content that’s aimed at enriching the internet community is in line with how Google ranks sites.
Check out the full backlink report here to see the hundreds of publishers who saw value in our campaign and chose to share it with their readers.
The problem many marketers have with effectively using various types of content marketing is they focus on only one part of the buying cycle. They pigeonhole themselves into creating all of their content for boosting awareness (i.e., top of the funnel) or generating conversions (i.e., middle and bottom of the funnel).
This lopsided strategy won’t work because it fails to hit consumers at each part of the buyer’s journey.
So why do marketers make this mistake? It could be a number of things, including:
Not knowing how to optimize their content for each area of the sales cycle
Having little knowledge of what makes content valuable to the consumer
Having limited resources available to create content
These missteps lead marketers to drop the ball with their content efforts. We’re here to clear up any misunderstandings about the different types of content marketing that are possible and show you how to use content marketing to optimize your efforts for each level of the sales funnel.
Types of Content Marketing for Attracting, Converting, and Nurturing
Before creating any type of content marketing plan, you should know your end goal. Are you aiming to raise general awareness about your brand? Are you targeting prospects who are likely interested in your product or service? Or are you cultivating the relationship with those on the verge of becoming your customer?
The answers to these questions will help you identify which part of the sales cycle you want your content to target. Remember, you can’t create a solid content strategy without knowing the results you want to achieve.
Before delving into the details of lead generation content, let’s review the best content marketing types for all stages of the sales cycle in the content funnel below:
Attract Stage: Create Content People Want to See and Share to Increase Awareness and Traffic
At the beginning of the buying cycle, the goal is to generate awareness about your brand. You want as many people as possible to familiarize themselves with your organization and what you provide. In other words, you want broadly appealing content
Take a look at Reverse Photoshopping. We used images of comic book heroes altered to have normal body types. It’s a shocking visual that clearly resonated with audiences – it earned over 100,000 shares on social media.
Another popular component of an effective viral campaign connects content with a controversial topic. In Perceptions of Perfection, we tapped into the heated discussion of women and their all-too-common unrealistic depictions. By creating a visual that connected to an emotionally charged topic – and expanding the reach by including designers from 18 different countries – we were able to generate nearly 1 million social shares.
Keep in mind that when you’re creating content where the goal is virality, make sure it’s easy to share. When people can share your content quickly, your audience will automatically help with your outreach efforts and continue to spread the content across the internet.
We played into this strategy with Your Face as an Alcoholic. It included an interactive app that enabled users to upload their photo and see what the effects of methamphetamine usage would look like on themselves. This encouraged people to share their image and helped the campaign become one of our most successful to date.
Aside from something visually appealing, authoritative sites are always looking for new, original data to share with their audiences. For example, in Twitter Reading Levels, we analyzed more than 500,000 tweets to create a data-driven story about literacy rates across the country. This unique data set made into eye-catching infographics helped catch the attention of over 250 publishers (see People’s coverage below).
This campaign also hit the mark of attracting audiences by appealing to their egos with what we call geo-bait – a characteristic of high-quality content that often features maps and results in readers wanting to see how their geographic location (i.e., state) scored and compared with other states.
Other types of content marketing campaigns that have broad appeal will take a data set that is not readily available and present it in an easily digestible format.
For Movoto’s Wealthiest People campaign, we created a map that broke down relatable data by state. This built-in geo-bait made it interesting to people across the country, which helped it earn coverage on 130 top-tier publishers including Yahoo, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post.
Other Types of Content Marketing for Attracting Audiences
When you’re brainstorming ideas for content that pulls audiences in, you can also consider the following content marketing formats:
Our Video Car Evolution morphing GIFs for eBay were easy for readers to consume and share. We used visuals from over 60 years and kept our reach wide by including four popular car models. The strategy of creating simple yet compelling GIFs to attract the massed worked: The campaign was featured on almost 175 sites.
Checklists can be created for a nearly endless list of topics, and they’re a great type of content marketing for the first stage of the sales cycle because they’re highly useful and easily shared.
Readers don’t have to need what your brand has to offer at that time to use the checklist. However, it’s an excellent way to introduce your company to new audiences and have your brand top of mind for when your product or service is needed.
The DoctorOz.com team found success with a checklist about health symptoms relating to a thyroid problem, and broadcast it on their social media account (see below). This type of content marketing attracted readers who were interested in learning more about thyroid issues, but it also put their brand in front of new audiences via social sharing.
Entertaining campaigns are another type of content marketing that attract new audiences because they appeal to a broad group of people. For example, we created White Lies: Where Is the Line? campaign for DIRECTV by surveying 2,000 people for their opinions on lying.
The results sparked so much conversation – and opinions – that the Today show featured it on one of their segments. Nearly 250 publishers mentioned it as well, which was exactly the type of awareness coverage our client wanted.
Now that we’ve examined the types of content marketing aimed at the top of the funnel, let’s go to the next stage: conversion.
Convert Stage: Create Conversion-Driven Content to Target Leads
When you are no longer attempting to connect with a wide, relatively unknown audience, you can focus on content that speaks directly to your target consumers. This is known as conversion-driven content.
Conversion campaigns are designed to target consumers in a specific market and lead them to sales on your site.
This type of content marketing is hyper-targeted to a specific audience that’s probably already familiar with your brand and interested in learning more or actually making a purchase decision.
It’s important to remember the consumer doesn’t begin the buying process knowing they need a product. Typically, consumers start the buyer journey knowing they have a problem, so content that offers a solution is a great way to drive conversions.
Content that offers a solution is a great way to drive conversions. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
Types of Content Marketing – Comprehensive Guides, Calculators, and White Papers
In The Male Fashion Fit Guide, we targeted men looking to upgrade their wardrobe by offering a comprehensive guide to finding the perfect fit in shirts, shorts, pants, and ties. After providing the consumers with wardrobe guidance, the content leads the audience to buy those products directly from eBay.
A calculator or other interactive tool that shows how your product or service will have a direct impact on your buyer’s performance or quality of life is another type of content geared toward conversion.
For example, the Fractl Marketing ROI Calculator is one of our biggest traffic drivers. Why? Potential clients want to know if content marketing will achieve the results they want and how advantageous it is for their bottom line. Our calculator allows users to place specific values on traffic, social shares, links, and major press coverage to see if it’s the right solution for their particular needs. The content marketing ROI results are something tangible that marketers can use in their decision-making process.
White papers are an excellent format for providing prospects with answers to their questions regarding your product or service. You can design them in a way that’s appealing to your target audience and set up a gated entry where readers have to provide their basic information (e.g., email address) to access it.
For example, our How Long Does It Take to See Content Marketing Results? white paper features five case studies that demonstrate the short- and long-term impact of different types of content marketing. Here’s a look at one of the slides from it (notice how we clearly outlined the problem and solution):
Other Types of Content Marketing for Converting Leads
There are many other content formats that are part of a lead generation strategy, including:
Let’s go over some specific examples for a few of these.
Our blog post on repurposing content has driven many leads our way because it offers a huge range of solutions to the problem of optimizing your current content, research, and resources. It touches on many goals that prospects come to us with, including:
The breadth of ideas and concrete examples in the post indicate that we have a firm grasp on how to create and promote all types of content marketing. This positions us as a highly qualified content marketing agency, instilling trust and alleviating anxiety in potential clients.
At the end of the blog post, we included a link to sign up for our e-newsletter that would help prospects increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their content marketing efforts. Those leads who converted by signing up for our e-newsletter were likely to convert again after entering the “nurturing” stage and learning we have a strong reputation in the industry.
When you have an abundance of exclusive research, compiling an e-book is a great way to convert leads. E-books allow you to showcase your internal data and results as well. For instance, our Tell-All Guide to Digital PR reveals our outreach strategies with real examples of pitches our media relations department has sent to writers and editors.
The value that many of our leads have found in the e-book, though, is the dozens of practical tips for everything from tracking down influencers to structuring the body of your email. Positioning us an authority on the topic, the in-depth information demonstrated that we can be trusted for digital outreach.
To access the e-book, prospects had to convert by providing their email address. Those leads who went on to read the e-book and reach out to us for a free consultation proved to be of high quality.
Whether you’re the subject or the host, interviews are an ideal platform for demonstrating your expertise and winning over prospects. Our associate director of marketing, Kerry Jones, appeared on an episode of Evolving SEO’s Experts on the Wire podcast. The high-quality leads we received from it were impressed with Kerry’s knowledge and the type of content marketing results we’ve achieved for clients – which Kerry used as examples in her discussion with the host.
Once your content marketing efforts have drawn leads in, you shouldn’t stop there. Keep reading for the next stage.
Nurture Stage: Provide Content That Strengthens the Relationship
This phase of the buying cycle is suited for your leads who have either converted in some way (e.g., requested to be on your subscriber list) or who have purchased from you already. These are the people you really want to continue impressing – not lose sight of because you’ve already hooked them.
An e-newsletter is an effective way to build your relationship with customers. It’s the perfect opportunity to drive traffic to your other content (e.g., blog posts and full-scale campaigns). By doing this, you’re:
helping to turn audiences interested in your brand into active customers and
providing value to existing customers.
The second part of this encourages not only repeat customer activity but also brand sharing. This occurs when customers or clients are so pleased with your product or service they happily spread your brand’s message.
Of course, your friendly customer service, speedy shipping, etc. could spur positive conversations about your company, but high-quality content can result in customers becoming brand ambassadors as well.
Now that you know how content can be used effectively across all stages of the sales cycle, you probably have one last question: How do you find the resources to create content for each stage?
How to Recycle Content to Fit Every Stage of the Sales Cycle
For organizations with limited resources, the amount of content needed to hit each stage of the buying cycle may seem a bit overwhelming. But there is a trick to creating enough content to fill all phases of the cycle: It’s called repurposing.
Through repurposing, you can take one topic, data set, or idea and turn it into multiple pieces of content that can work for each stage of the sales funnel.
For example, you can repurpose multiple blog posts that were originally designed to generate awareness into a white paper that targets a consumer further down the funnel by making it more specific and adding more relevant examples. By simply updating or reformatting your content, you can reuse it in different phases – ultimately maximizing your resources and optimizing results.
When the right content marketing types are present in each stage of the buying cycle, they’re an extremely effective way to increase visibility, generate leads, and close more sales. You’ll want to outline a content strategy that hits each phase of the cycle to get the most leverage out of your efforts.
It’s difficult to vie for a customer’s business if they don’t know who you are. Of course, alerting them to your presence isn’t as easy as riding a bike downhill.
When you’re searching for how to increase brand awareness, you’ll likely see that advertising is an option – but it’s not always the best one if budget and ROI are of concern.
A better strategy for appealing to the masses as well as your target audience is to use high-quality content to raise the visibility of your brand. By its nature, content marketing boosts brand awareness (i.e., getting lots of people to see your brand). However, there are specific strategies to use when brand awareness is your No. 1 goal.
Keep reading for what these strategies are, the real ways they are used, and how you can implement the techniques in your own strategy.
When you want your content to reach as many people as possible, your brand awareness strategy should be geared toward mainstream topics that appeal to high-authority news sites with large followings.
We’ll use one of our most successful campaigns, Most Instagrammed Locations, as an example to illustrate the five steps of a basic general brand awareness strategy.
Choose an idea that has broad appeal.
This is a crucial component for upping your content’s viral potential, which is a common goal that coincides with brand awareness. If your company offers a good or service to the general public, then this is an easy feat. But if you sell something that isn’t universal, your content idea should extend further from your offerings.
We use this approach often when we’re asked how to drive awareness on a mass scale. Our Instagram study for Busbud is the perfect example. Busbud is an online bus travel service, but if their content stuck to buses only, it wouldn’t appeal to the general population. We zoomed out and focused the idea on places throughout the United States and Canada that people took Instagram snaps of the most.
We chose Instagram because of its immense popularity (more than 600 million monthly users), and even if audiences didn’t use it themselves, they’d likely heard of it.
While the idea doesn’t center specifically on bus travel, it is related to the general travel vertical, and when new audiences were exposed to the content, they were made aware of Busbud as an option for when their next travel plans arose.
Why not come up with an engaging idea about bus travel instead? Because when you’re shooting for mass exposure, you want your content to appeal to as many publishers as possible. You certainly wouldn’t find as many top-tier sites seeking stories about buses as you would travel.
Do comprehensive research and use credible sources.
To make your content newsworthy, the foundation needs to be rock solid. Otherwise, publishers won’t trust your content or want to feature it.
If you’re creating a project that pulls from existing research, only high-quality, recent sources should be used. (Our post on educational content discusses this in-depth.)
But to really get your brand attention, original research is the best way to go. When you have something to offer the media that nobody else can, your content does two things:
It can become highly desirable to some of the biggest publishers because it’s a brand new story – no angle pivot or outside research needed, making the work easier on the writers.
It acts as a resource for future related stories, which leads to writers linking back to it continuously over time.
For Most Instagrammed Places, we started our research with TripAdvisor, locating the top-rated locales in North America. Then we took to Instagram, using its API, and tracked down the most common hashtags used for those locations. The results were:
From there, we crunched the numbers and came up with a variety of charts and maps to show the type of locations (e.g., national park, beach, and theater) as well as specific locations (like Disneyland) that were posted the most on Instagram.
The campaign didn’t show the tens of thousands of hashtags and locations, but it was important to do the in-depth analysis in order to gather accurate results. There’s no doubt the extra effort gave weight to the project and appealed to journalists’ desire for comprehensive and authoritative reports.
Keep the look simple and ensure it’s easy to understand.
Sometimes, we want to get fancy and create elaborate designs. Graphic artists want to showcase their skills and design really beautiful stuff. But it’s important to remember that you’re putting together graphics that need to appeal to the general public – not the curators at MoMA.
This is a lesson that’s quickly forgotten when you’re pouring all your energy into a piece of content you want to stand out from all the noise of the internet. Our advice is simple: Silence your inner artist and don’t get artsy-fartsy when creating general brand awareness content.
Instead, go for clean designs that aren’t distracting and let the data/results/information speak for itself. In the chart below, we could’ve included photos or renderings of the top Canadian locations, but they would’ve taken attention away from the basic information – and they simply weren’t needed.
The copy in your designed graphics, as well as what surrounds them on your webpage, should be straightforward. A few tips on crafting your text:
PRO TIP: When reviewing your copy, ask yourself if every person in your extended family (barring small children) could easily understand what you wrote. If they can’t, get to revising and simplifying.
Make it easy to access.
Your goal with general brand awareness content is to have it spread around, and if it’s hard or impossible for media outlets to feature it, then you’ve defeated the point. Plus, it’s not difficult to make it accessible.
You can either make a blog post for the content or a landing page (i.e., a separate webpage on your site where the whole project lives). You’re essentially creating a story that flows from beginning to end – here’s a sample layout:
The embed codes are especially important to include for interactive components (e.g., sliding images and zoomable maps) because publishers can’t use them otherwise. Since your primary goal is to increase brand awareness – and not build links – allowing other sites to easily grab and host your graphics without needing to reach out to you is crucial. Trust us, the easier you make it for the media to use your content, the greater your chances of having it covered.
You also up the likelihood of coverage if you offer the same content packaged in different ways. Doing this expands your content’s reach with publishers who are able to pick and choose the format that works best for their site and audience.
With our Most Instagrammed Locations campaign, we created an interactive map of the United States and Canada. Viewers could click it to get an up-close look at specific states, provinces, or territories. It’s intuitive, and the clear yet concise instructions at the top gave a little extra help for those who needed it. Here’s a snapshot of it:
But not all publishers’ sites have the technical capabilities to host interactive graphics, so we also made two charts with the same information – one for the U.S. and one for Canada.
PRO TIP: When strategizing how to increase brand awareness, don’t forget about making shareable graphics and text for your social media accounts. It can be helpful to make a calendar of when you plan to launch posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Promote the heck out of it.
Making high-quality content that is optimized for all the keywords you want might help you with SEO, but it’s not going to do much for broad brand awareness. Content sitting on your site unpromoted is like putting a new cereal brand on the shelves without advertising it. Sure, people may stumble across it, but you’re missing a huge potential audience.
Promoting content isn’t a rocket science, but there are a lot of tricks to the trade that can seriously elevate your outreach efforts. Fortunately, our Tell-All Guide to Digital PR offers insights we gathered from over 1,300 publishers. It also includes tips like:
Target writers who specifically cover the topic your content focuses on.
Look at publishers’ engagement levels when deciding who to pitch your exclusive to.
Don’t send outreach emails on holidays (or the day before and after).
Keep your subject lines to 10 words or fewer.
Don’t be too self-promotional.
Successful outreach takes time and dedication. Don’t put it on the backburner and waste the great work you’ve done making your content. After you’ve built relationships with writers and editors, you can conduct media relations outreach more efficiently in the future.
When our media relations department began promoting the Most Instagrammed Locations campaign, it quickly garnered interest from TIME, Yahoo, Business Insider, and over 300 other publications. It was also shared close to 37,000 times on social. But what really increased brand awareness for Busbud was the television coverage. Let’s go into that next.
Increase Visibility With Local Angles
Newscasters from across the United States and Canada shared Busbud’s Instagram story with their viewers. (Check out the video compilation here.) What about it piqued the interest of so many news stations? The local angle.
The campaign had something to say about every single state, province, and territory, so the reach in North America was unlimited. When geo-bait is used in content, it casts a net that captures everyone in the locations represented. (Geo-bait means a geographic focus that makes readers want to see how their location is represented.)
We’ve seen a big boost in brand awareness for our clients who choose campaigns that are based on geographical areas (i.e., maps).
For example, we created Bar-Hopping: The Ultimate Bar Road Trip, which featured 196 of the oldest bars in America. Publishers from coast to coast were able to find their area’s historic bars and share it with their readers in their coverage.
This campaign for Trippy included an interactive map (see below) and graphics that ranked the states with the most bars, called out the bars with the latest “last calls,” and named the bars with five-star reviews on TripAdvisor.
The diverse components of this campaign gave local publishers several reasons to feature the project, which is a good tactic to use when creating geo-bait content of your own.
Unexpected Benefits of General Brand Awareness
After discovering how to increase brand awareness with content, you might come across some upsides you didn’t anticipate. For instance, the good press we earned for Busbud made them look good among potential employees.
Our associate director of marketing, Kerry Jones, added:
Now that we’ve covered how to increase brand exposure for general audiences, let’s look at gaining visibility in your niche.
Targeted Brand Awareness Strategy
If your product or service is intended for a select group of people only, make sure a targeted brand awareness approach is part of your overall marketing strategy.
For instance, a company that manufactures farming equipment should focus on marketing to farmers and those in the agriculture industry – the only people who would purchase its product.
We’ve helped many clients boost their brand recognition with an awareness strategy that’s directed at their target audience. The steps outlined in the section above apply here as well, except you won’t choose an idea that has broad appeal. Instead, you’ll hone in on your niche’s community.
You must fully understand your brand’s space to see where the needs are and the topics that industry publications would be interested in. This means researching the online community your audience is a part of and using that insight to guide your ideation (i.e., the process in which you come up with ideas).
Here is how we used this strategy for clients in various industries:
The Marketing Niche
Alexa came to us seeking more exposure for its SEO tools in the B2B marketing niche. First, we researched the online publications that marketers frequent, including:
Marketing Insider Group
During this initial phase, we immersed ourselves in the articles that performed best – reading the comments and paying attention to the number of social shares or other engagement signals (e.g., page views). We knew from the beginning the biggest piece of the puzzle would be positioning Alexa as a thought leader in the marketing sphere; the research we conducted helped us choose what topics there was opportunity to demonstrate value with.
Brand Awareness Campaign Example
We wanted to showcase what Alexa’s competitive intelligence tools could accomplish so that readers would look at them as an authority on the topic. We used those tools to examine four pieces of viral content for the campaign Measuring the Effects of Virality, which showed the global rank, reach, and page views for each.
While marketers would have found the above chart interesting, we had to take it one step further to truly resonate with that audience. While researching the marketing niche, we learned these readers wanted content that’s actionable. So we added the following component to each case study within the campaign:
Our homework paid off: Both Inc. and HubSpot offered our client guest post slots, which is a great way for marketing gurus to demonstrate their authority. The campaign was featured on 150 other sites as well.
The Travel Niche
The travel industry has a big audience and many top-tier publishers, so getting your travel-related content covered should be easy, right? Think again. The larger an online community is, the more competition there is.
Eager for the challenge, we began our research into travel publications and blogs, including:
Condé Nast Traveler
Travel + Leisure
Travel Daily News
We learned that travel enthusiasts enjoyed content that showcased travel destinations as well as topics related to transportation, traveling tips, and surprising facts. Armed with this background information, our ideation sessions revolved around these subject matters.
Brand Awareness Campaign Example
As mentioned in the case study on our engagement with Travelmath, we knew it was important to position the client as an authority in the travel niche. One way to do this is by coming up with a formula for a ranking system. We settled on doing this for U.S. airports.
In addition to the overall top lists – which were created with stats on flight delays, lost baggage incidents, and fare prices – we made graphics showing the airports with the longest and shortest U.S. Customs and Border Protection wait times and the airports with the most TSA claims. We also created an interactive content feature that allowed viewers to sort through the airport rankings by the criteria of their choosing.
This comprehensive campaign was robust enough to catch the eye of over 300 publishers, including Yahoo! Travel. It was also shared nearly 14,000 times on various social networks.
The Sex & Relationships and Health Niches
A U.K. client that came to us wanting to increase their authority, DrEd is an online medical provider that offers confidential men’s, women’s, and sexual health services. To understand the target audience that DrEd wanted to be exposed to, we delved into both the sex/relationships and health niches and gathered insights for what publishers and readers like the most. These included:
The Independent’s Love & Sex
While we came across plenty of lighthearted and fun pieces of content that performed well, we needed to tie in trustworthiness to the campaigns to have DrEd recognized for its integrity and clout.
Brand Awareness Campaign Example
For American vs. European Sexual Preferences, we thought outside the box and crafted a survey that used mouse-tracking technology to obtain the results from 1,000 people. One of the components of the campaign was a video that showed the respondents’ selections to the various questions. Here’s a screenshot:
Brands can say they conducted a survey, but this was proof of ours. This type of method helps build trust in your brand among publications and readers.
In an added effort to increase brand awareness, we created additional graphics that tied into the video and were more shareable. Not counting the video and screenshots, there were nine extra graphics that gave publishers more content to choose from in their coverage. Here’s one of them:
The brand awareness strategy paid off, with top-tier sites such as Maxim and The Independent featuring the campaign.
It’s important to note that the language we used in the copy of the landing page was straight-forward and professional. See an excerpt below:
By using this tone in the text, we showed that DrEd was respectful of the opinions and sexual preferences and habits of all consumers. This piece of content helped advocate the brand as trustworthy and a place readers could turn to for health issues or concerns.
Now, we’ll cover one more client who sought brand awareness in their industry niche: sports.
The Sports Niche
Tasked with creating shareable content for its blog and raising brand awareness, our in-office sports enthusiasts were pumped to tackle our engagement with Fanatics – a market leader for licensed sports merchandise and gear.
To achieve those goals, we strategized a mix of evergreen content and timely, newsworthy campaigns that revolved around major sporting events. Some of the audiences we wanted Fanatics to tap into included:
USA Today Sports
Given our team members working on the account were already a part of the sports community, we kept in mind that the brand was “all about the fans” – and our research and ideation honed in on that.
There are large, overarching elements that have proven successful in our content marketing work (e.g., highly emotional, mass appeal, etc.), but what about the specific characteristics of high-quality content?
We pored over our most powerful campaigns, case studies, and industry research to determine common threads that can guide your content marketing strategies and ideas for winning content. Three traits rose to the surface: geo-based content, the element of surprise, and tapping into public opinion.
Keep reading for ways to incorporate these features of high-quality content into your marketing work.
No. 1: Hook ’em With Geo-Bait
“Where are you from?”
This is a common question that peppers many first conversations among new friends and acquaintances. Whether chatting about your hometown or where you live now, those simple four words spark many discussions – what your childhood was like, where you go home for the holidays, your alma mater, and your current city or suburban lifestyle.
People feel a connection to where they live, so content that is based on geographical areas (countries, U.S. regions, states, cities, etc.) is likely to draw in audiences. We call this geo-bait.
Many of our wildly successful campaigns have a geographical angle. We’ve found that not only do they attract readers, but they also get people talking. Whether it’s questioning the high crime rate on their college campus or boasting about their top-rated beaches, readers are eager to weigh in on location-specific stories.
How can you incorporate geo-bait into your marketing efforts? Here are five tips for using this characteristic of high-quality content, along with examples of our winning campaigns that feature a geo-focused approach.
1. Create easy-to-read maps.
Maps are an ideal format for packaging geo-bait content. However, it’s important that they are easily discernable by your readers. If readers can’t find the location they’re looking for right away, they will get frustrated and give up – moving on to the next story or interesting snippet in their feed.
You can achieve this by not packing too much information into one map and by employing a simple yet aesthetically pleasing design. If your goal is to go viral, try incorporating an interactive component into it; this can help to create a viral loop and extend its sharing capability without cluttering the map.
In our “High School Student Substance Abuse” campaign, we created a very clear, three-color map to show which substance was used by high school students the most in each state.
When looking at the map above, where did your eyes go first? You probably went to your state, which is exactly why geo-bait content works. Combined with a clean look, the maps in this campaign helped it to get placed with over 1,500 publishers and shared over 18,000 times.
2. Add a top and bottom list.
Maps are great for finding your state and seeing its results, but readers also like seeing where their state falls on the top 10 or bottom 10 lists. When the subject matter allows, you can also punch up the design – but be careful not to make the aesthetics distracting.
For our “America’s Favorite #DogsofInstagram” campaign for Havahart, we had more fun with the design, creating quirky illustrations of dogs and bone-shaped bar graphs – but we stuck to a two-color gradient key in the map below. It was easy to decipher. To provide more information without complicating the map, we also included a top 10 and bottom 10 lists with precise numbers.
While everyday readers may not focus on the exact number of #DogsofInstagram posts per 100K in their state – their state’s top or bottom ranking was enough for them – this extra bit of data allowed for journalists covering the story to beef up their article. Over 140 sites covered this campaign, and it earned nearly 9,000 social shares.
3. Call out each state.
Top 10 lists about the United States are great, but they leave out the other 40 states. Readers want to know what their state is known for – so make sure you tell them! By identifying something unique about each state, you’re opening the door for essentially everybody in America to relate to your content.
Bonus: If you devoted a lot of resources to a piece of high-quality content that touches on all 50 states, extend its life by repurposing your content for different platforms and audiences. You could create separate blog posts on each of the U.S. regions or group together states with similar findings.
We created a campaign that answers this question: Where in your state do Instagrammers flock to the most? Look at the infographic below to find out.
Were you surprised by your state’s top pick? Whether you think it’s a worthy location or would like to demand a recount, it piqued your interest because your state was included.
The campaign garnered the interest of editors at TIME, Business Insider, Yahoo, and over 300 other publications that shared it with their audiences. Check out all the placements in our case study.
People love to see where their state or a place near them ranks on a list. It gives them bragging rights when their favorite haunt tops a chart and reason to vent their frustration when it bottoms out – either way, ranked lists encourage readers to share the content. Going above the top 10 and bottom 10 overall widens the audience of readers who will relate to your ranking.
It’s important to use a sound methodology when creating an ordered list. If there’s no rhyme or reason to the ranking, readers will take notice and call you out for it. Publishers who you pitch your list to will also want to know how you came up with it, so be sure to detail your approach.
For a campaign ranking 322 U.S. airports, we fully explained the methodology, which gave the campaign authority and our client Travelmath.com integrity with journalists.
Instead of creating one top 10 list, we enhanced the ego-bait potential by using a per-flight-volume breakdown. This increased the chance that readers would relate to an airport on one of the six lists. This campaign was featured on 331 sites.
According to a recent study, it’s human nature to compare yourself with others. Use this to your advantage by creating content that positions two or more countries alongside one another. If your readers live in one of those nations, you’ve hooked them with geo-bait.
We pitted the United States against Europe in “Top Sex Fears.” As readers went through the campaign and graphics, they likely compared their homeland with the competing nation to see the differences.
In the graphic above, we took a step further than geography and broke it down by gender as well. Due to the nature of sex and how issues differ between men and women, we could get specific with the survey questions we asked; ultimately, 350 publishers covered the results.
Once you’ve decided to take a geo-based approach with your content, amplify it with other tactics guided by your goals. For example, to increase your content’s likelihood of being shared on Facebook, pinpoint the type of sharer your content is geared to and appeal to that persona. Of course, if you can infuse the element of surprise – our next characteristic of high-quality content – into your geo-bait content, you absolutely should!
No. 2: Present Something Surprising
If your goal is to go viral, then create content that surprises readers.
Our previous research on viral emotions explains why the element of surprise increases the likelihood for social sharing. But let’s talk about how you can infuse astonishment into your content.
Your main idea for a piece of content doesn’t need to be surprising itself; although, some component of your results or findings should be compelling. This means you won’t know if your content will offer something readers don’t expect until you’ve conducted your experiment, run a survey, crunched the numbers of a large data set, or whatever method you choose for gathering new or unknown information.
Of course, you don’t need to exhaust your resources on a campaign that doesn’t produce surprising results – instead, test it out first! For example, administer a survey of a small sample size to see if the preliminary results are surprising. Or analyze the data for a couple of states or demographics before doing an in-depth analysis of the whole United States’ population.
Here are some ideas on how to surprise your audience.
Test out a common theory or saying.
Whether you discover it to be true or false, your results are likely to surprise many readers. For example, our “Germs: A Dog’s Best Friend?” campaign found that dogs’ mouths are indeed cleaner than humans. This was surprising to people who never believed the saying, but the additional findings – such as a human mouth has more bacteria than a dog toy or food dish – were also shocking.
Think about how social media will react.
How will your content surprise users on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.? If you want your article or graphics to go viral, you absolutely can’t forget about what interests social media users and triggers them to share. Shoot for a topic that has mass appeal, but if your brand or other content marketing goals don’t support that, try planning your idea around the audience of a specific social network. (Note: When limiting your audience, the chance for virality is diminished.)
Feature shocking images in high-quality content.
Nearly half of the 2,000 Facebook users we surveyed said they share content on the platform because they want to entertain their friends, whereas only 11 percent do so to educate their peers. Images are more likely to entertain quickly since they’re visually striking. By featuring an image that readers will find surprising and interesting, you up the chances of your content being shared on social media.
When you look at the image above, you’re likely shocked by the variations of the same man. The surprise factor of this graphic – part of our “Perceptions of Perfection Part II” campaign – helped drive the 670,000-plus shares.
In addition to using geo-bait and surprising your audience, another characteristic among our top-performing campaigns is a focus on public opinion. Let’s explore this final topic.
No. 3: Employ Public Opinion
At Fractl, we do a lot of crowdsourcing (i.e., gathering information or opinions from others). We do it in the form of surveys – and using the results as the highlight of a campaign – as well as for researching topics that drive our ideation sessions. When it comes to tapping into public opinion as the foundation of a piece of high-quality content, we’ve got plenty of tips and examples of how to do it.
Rate products or services.
People value others’ opinions about a product or service they’re interested in purchasing. (Consider Amazon reviews – or basically any retail site’s reviews.) So soliciting detailed opinions about a particular item or service for your content marketing article or project is a natural way to attract readers.
For our “Battle of the Virtual Assistants” campaign, we paid users to test a list of commands on their smartphones. Top tech publishers like Tech Times, CNET, and 9to5Mac were eager to broadcast our findings, and Android and iOS users alike clamored to weigh in with their own opinions of Siri, Cortana, and Google Now.
Run a survey.
Use a survey to gather people’s opinions and/or real-life experiences. We’ve facilitated a lot of surveys at Fractl and have some advice:
For our “Would You Rather …” campaign, we recruited our entire team of Fractlites to pitch in with questions, vetted those questions carefully for maximum viral potential, and then ran the survey with respondents across the United States. The tough yet intriguing questions garnered outstanding results, with over 300 publishers covering the campaign. Readers enjoyed seeing the choices others would make in the different hypothetical scenarios. This is an example of why quality content is important.
Analyze an existing database.
There are many government studies that have employed surveys – but most consumers don’t know about them. Why? It’s often difficult to interpret and gather meaningful findings from them. Enter data analysts, who you can hire in-house or use on a freelance basis. Learning the craft yourself is also an option. There’s no doubt that data journalism is a rising trend in the publishing world, so when you present high-quality Big Data projects to writers and editors, they’ll likely feature it.
The CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) completes over 400,000 total interviews throughout the U.S. for its annual survey on Americans’ drug and alcohol consumption. Our team mined the existing data and visualized the results for our “Drinking in America” campaign, which was featured on over 600 sites and shared nearly 123,000 times!
Use social media data.
We’ve had a lot of success using APIs to access data on sites such as Twitter and Instagram and learn what people are talking about on social media. We often look at hashtags and other words or phrases mentioned within posts as well as filters used on photos. We also take advantage of geotag features and use them to map the results. One big win: We ran a text analysis on tweets to determine “Twitter Reading Levels”!
Here are some of our other content marketing examples that use this strategy, along with the headlines publishers have attached to their coverage.
Increase the likelihood of your content being seen by thousands (or even millions!) by incorporating geo-bait, surprise, and public opinion into your article or project. Through our years as a successful content marketing agency, we’ve seen outstanding results with campaigns that have these three elements. No matter the industry, your goal should always be to make your readers feel something and want to share it – and keeping the tips and examples here in mind will help your high-quality content achieve that.
As you prepare your 2017 editorial calendar and brainstorm ideas for blog posts, guest posts, and other on-site or off-site content, there’s one thing that should be top of mind: educational content.
We don’t mean education in the sense of teaching children how to read or obtaining a bachelor’s degree – rather, providing readers with valuable information that sticks and makes them want to share. This can be anything from the health effects of e-cigarettes to asking your employer for a raise.
The reason for creating content that informs is twofold:
Learning something new is the main reason people choose what they read online.
Publishers are more eager to share your educational content.
No matter your industry, you can create educational content that is worthy of journalists covering. Here are six tips on making your on-site content interesting and substantive so that editors will be happy to slot your story into their editorial calendar.
Use Appropriate Packaging
There are a slew of innovative content formats to choose from – each with their own merits and roadblocks, so selecting the right one for your educational content marketing is imperative. When we surveyed 500 publishers on the type of content they want to be pitched, articles were No. 1, with infographics, mixed-media pieces, and data visualizations following. This is a great place to start. Then select the format that’s best suited to your specific idea.
For example, a client wanted us to cover the sensitive topic of pregnancy and substance abuse so the message would be heard loud and clear. It’s common knowledge that drugs and alcohol are harmful to pregnant women; however, the challenge was choosing a format that was different than what anybody had seen before. The resulting animagraphs we created were shocking and portrayed the information in a new, emotional way.
Had we simply written an article regurgitating well-founded research on the topic, publishers likely would not have cared. This campaign needed to elicit an emotional response from readers, and that it did – nearly 700 publishers covered it.
Include Startling Stats Up High
Provide journalists with a strong hook or newsworthy angle by putting your most surprising statistics at the top of your content. Whether it’s a survey you or your organization ran or a large dataset you crunched the numbers on, revealing the most compelling stats right away will catch the eye of publishers and make their job easier by informing the direction of their articles.
For a campaign about how drug overdoses impact life expectancy rates, we did several data visualizations, including a map of each state’s average age of fatal drug overdose victims and the average age at death over time. But we knew the most startling statistic would be that, on average, those who lose their lives to drug overdoses cut their natural life expectancy in half, so that’s what we led with.
Supplementing your main content with complementary statistics from reputable sources or studies also gives your content more meat for publishers to bite into. For example, if you create an infographic about living wages, you could add stats about housing prices to the landing page text that surrounds the infographic.
Avoid Offending or Shaming
The last thing you want to do in your educational content is insult, embarrass, or chastise your readers. It’s a delicate balance being authoritative without being domineering. How do you strike that balance? Keep your tone and content informative and not critical.
In our “Pregnancy and Addiction” example above, we were careful not to put down pregnant women who abuse substances. The intent of the campaign was not to call out women for making poor choices; it was to highlight the dangers of addiction, which is a disease (not a choice), and to encourage those in need of treatment to reach out and get help.
Daily Mail covered the exclusive for this report and included, “But fortunately, [the report] said quitting the vices may reduce some of the risks posed to unborn babies.” The writer helped to spread our client’s message accurately by sticking to the facts, just as our campaign did.
However, if you look at the comments section of the Daily Mail article, one reader was called out by another for fear mongering. The first commenter said:
Another commenter responded with:
While it’s likely the intent of the first commenter was to influence women to have healthy pregnancies and babies, the tactic was shameful and came across as righteous. Our report covered the most updated research and studies available, and by sticking to the facts, no comments suggested the information in the article was incorrect. This is important to note because had we been shameful in our report, journalists would have sent our pitch to the trashand our client’s brand would have been tarnished.
Educational Content Must Be Objective
You or your client’s brand is likely biased against competitors, as should be the case. If a dog food company doesn’t believe it has the best dog food on the market, then why should consumers feed it to their pups? But when you’re creating informational content that is intended to educate readers on a particular topic (not promote your product or service), your content needs to be unbiased.
While creating a survey-based campaign for Paychex, an HR solutions provider that helps clients with ways to retain and attract employees, we remained objective in our questions and results. “Employee Retention: What Makes Employees Stay or Leave” revealed that low salaries and being overworked were the top reasons for employees to leave a job, while inexpensive, quality health care and bonuses were the most common benefits that caused employees to stay put. The results were also broken down by industry and generation.
How did we avoid subjectivity? We composed our survey questions without taking into account our client’s own employee offerings, those of the companies they provide HR resources to, or the benefits they offer support services for. And when we compiled our results, we presented them with complete objectivity and honesty.
The campaign was mentioned and linked to several times in this Forbes article, indicating the journalist found the survey results to be credible and our client Paychex to be trustworthy. In total, the study was included in 134 online stories and shared over 12,500 times.
If you plan to run a survey, remember to frame the questions in an unbiased way to ensure you’re not communicating an impression or opinion (e.g., “Are you repulsed by Nickelback’s music?” versus “On a scale of 1–10, how favorably/unfavorably do you feel about Nickelback’s music?”). You’ll also want to make sure your answer choices cover all potential responses – use “Not applicable” or “None of the above” so you don’t force people to select an untrue answer.
Use Only Recent, Credible Sources
At Fractl, we require sources to be from within the past year, and if they’re older, the researcher or writer must explain that nothing newer exists and why the older source is still valid. Of course, there are exceptions from time to time, but this is our general rule of thumb, especially for educational content.
To give our content an edge, we also go out and seek information to determine the truth behind topics we’re exploring. These primary sources include exclusive surveys we run, data journalism, and live video interviews or experiments.
Here are some characteristics of valid sources:
Avoid using or citing the following sources:
In addition to the tips above, a good place to learn how to evaluate sources is the Purdue Online Writing Lab. When you’re creating informational content, it needs to be substantiated by credible sources so both readers on your site and publishers who you want to cover your story believe your company or organization is the authority on the matter.
Always Fact Check
The 2016 presidential campaigns and debates brought the importance of fact-checking to the forefront, and journalists and fact-checkers everywhere rejoiced. Fact-checking isn’t always a quick or easy task – it’s often time-intensive and tedious. Why? Because every factual statement, statistic, etc., must be checked against its main source.
Our resident fact-checker and his team review every piece of content produced at Fractl.
As an example of the scope of a full fact check, our project on germs in the London Underground, which had 11 separate assets, required the following to be reviewed:
Data verification against lab reports
Correct names of stations and lines
Accuracy of maps for geography
Accuracy of maps for color coding concerning CFU count
Math for X times more bacteria formulas
Landing page text with 13 external sources
Picked up by over 100 publishers, any error in this campaign would have been damaging to the client’s brand as well as our relationships with writers and editors.
For more guidance on the fact-checking process, the Poynter Institute offers articles and courses to help you get up to speed and avoid errors in your content.
When creating educational content for your site or brand, follow the tips above to ensure your articles, studies, reports, or graphics give your readers a new, startling piece of information, and that your rock-solid content appeals to publishers.
’Tis the season of end-of-year roundups. Throughout 2016, we produced 23 research-based marketing campaigns that explored various topics and pending questions in our industry; they earned more than 340 media placements and nearly 34,000 social shares.
It’s no secret our team at Fractl lives and breathes data. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to plan our campaigns, vet ideas, and revisit our efforts to gauge success. Since we always take a data-driven approach to our work, the research in this roundup is no exception.
We know the ins and outs of content marketing, and we understand the digital marketing realm is vast and each focus intertwines for a more holistic approach to reaching, engaging, and delighting consumers. That’s why our list looks at several opportunities beyond content marketing, like social media and influencer marketing.
To pay tribute to 2016, another fine year in content marketing, here are 16 stats that caught our eye. They offer insight into what marketers can expect in 2017.
Online publishing rates are astronomical; they make marketer’s jobs incredibly difficult. Putting the right message in front of the right audience at the right time is an art – and somewhat of a science as well.
It’s especially challenging when the objective is to broaden awareness at the top of the sales funnel because often, viral content is the goal. Making a niche topic meaty enough for the masses is challenging enough.
While there is no exact formula for guaranteed virality, years of experience and hundreds of content marketing campaigns have helped us narrow down the key variables in the elusive viral equation.
Viral Solutions: Creating Content Primed for Media Coverage and Social Engagement
Strategic media coverage via exclusive, top-tier placements will gain exposure for your content. Exposure equals additional media mentions, leads, and placements through syndication; it also involves social sharing. These factors perpetuate virality.
Taking the following variables into account throughout all stages of content creation will help you achieve a promotional trifecta that acts as a catalyst for the viral journey. Let’s explore each of the variables in our control (and those that aren’t).
Highly Relevant and Newsworthy
Your content must be newsworthy to pique the interest of the media. (Seems like a no-brainer, right?) While most people associate the latest breaking news with newsworthiness, that’s not always the case. We recently broke down the six qualities of newsworthy content, including timeliness, localization, significance, prominence, originality, and data journalism.
While viral content may not always exemplify all six qualities, their main takeaways are generally present. Knowing your audience, timing your promotional efforts, and presenting something new and of value are key aspects of relevant and newsworthy content. No one wants to read, let alone publish or share, content that’s been repackaged.
Establishing thought leadership for your brand and authority for your content through this strategy catches the attention of publishers, and the credibility of the data helps further establish the publication’s authority. It’s a win-win for everyone.
There’s a lot of questionable content floating around the web. This content is created with the sole intent of attracting clicks without providing value to audiences through credible and thought-provoking material. Luckily, data-driven content from authoritative sources transcends this low-level content that often hurts brands in the long run.
Emotional and Broadly Appealing
Your content must tap into the emotions of universal audiences to help perpetuate social sharing. Research shows a viral hit is the product of an emotional experience and personal connection to a broad audience. An emotional combination of high arousal and high dominance was most commonly reported among viral images.
This means content stimulating complex positive emotions someone has control over have a higher chance of becoming viral. Research also showed admiration, happiness, and love were the most common emotions elicited by viral content.
By tapping into these universal emotions, your content offers broad appeal by giving audiences a way to connect with your content on a personal level. Another study supports the viral emotions research and reveals that Facebook users don’t just mindlessly share content. Rather, users are often motivated to share content that elicits an emotional response and informs their networks of the issues they care about.
Some variables are in our control, while others are out of our hands. Outside factors that influence the potential virality of content fall into the hands of the publishers and readers, and they often relate to timing. Full editorial calendars, the simultaneous release of eerily similar content, and breaking news stories that impact sensitive aspects of your content’s topic are all external variables beyond your control; however, we do have some tips to mitigate the odds of them interfering with the success of your content.
Tying It Together
While virality is never guaranteed, the key variables in the viral equation prove that the holy grail of engagement isn’t a matter of luck, and it isn’t limited to big brands with big budgets. While some external issues may deter publishers, most of them are still always on the hunt for the next big story. With the right formula, your content has the potential to turn that big story into the next viral narrative.