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The Value of Discoverable, Shareable, and Useful Content

The Value of Discoverable, Shareable, and Useful Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Creating Useful Content

There’s no way around it, there are a lot of marketing channels today. I’m counting eighteen as of now (which can obviously change very quickly).

When I started my business we had six or seven ways to reach our prospects and customers. A lot has changed.

One of the things that I think is important to understand, first off, is that you don’t have to play in every channel. That’s one of the things that causes a lot of stress with a lot of business owners and marketers today.

What you do have to do is get very good at playing in the right channels, and additionally getting very good at integrating those channels (or at least understanding how they support each other).

That’s a challenge for a lot of people. We look at social media, content, SEO, and PR, and we think that they’re all separate tactics out there doing separate jobs.

When you look at them together, and actually intentionally think about how they can support each other, you amplify the effect, or the impact, of each.

In this post, we’re going to focus on three of these channels: content, social media, and SEO.

While those are separate channels, content is air for marketing today. It really powers every step in the customer journey and is one of the most essential marketing channels out there.

In fact, it probably is not really even fair to consider it a channel anymore, because it’s like the gasoline that goes in the car. You really have to have it no matter what kind of car you have.

I want you to think these channels, and make sure the content you produce in each is discoverable, shareable and ultimately useful.

Discoverability

Discoverability is often seen as an SEO play, and frankly, that’s what it is, but content drives SEO today. There are many search terms that are competitive, so everybody is out there competing for the search terms that they want.

People try to rank by doing effective keyword research, using targeted messaging, and knowing a lot about their users. It’s a good idea to develop a sense of intent as well in order to implement on-page SEO best practices.

While this all helps to make your content discoverable, you have to start with a content strategy that says “yes, we want people to find that, but that’s not where we want them to stop.”

Shareability

Once the content is discovered, the degree that it is shared will determine how widely it is distributed. By thinking about shareability of content, you’re multiplying the impact of search engine results because shares are going to draw links and other important SEO signals. They are going to increase your audience, which is going to draw more people. 

If we build our content with the idea that we can get a higher share rate, one of the benefits to that is that you actually don’t have to produce a ton of content.

If you produce content that is focused on:

  • How to do something
  • Why to do something
  • Lists
  • Great headlines
  • Great calls to action in the content
  • Using impactful images
  • Mobile usage

Then you can build your SEO-optimized content and make it much more shareable.

Shareable content is going to evolve your social media. This is one of the best ways to think about your content in the social media space. Making your content shareable will help expand the reach of people outside of your immediate network.  

Useful content

As I said in the beginning, I think the ultimate measure of success of any SEO plan is the degree to which people who discover and share your content, also find that content useful enough to quote, bookmark, link to, and consume deeply.

This idea of linking your content together to make it even more useful is an important part of trust building in the journey. If people have a problem, they go out and search for a problem, not for your solution.

They may not associate what you offer with their problem, but they’re trying to get a problem solved.

If they go to your website make sure you address their problem and give them an entire guide for how to solve it. Link together eight or ten pages, or at least associate all of your related content to a topic in a way that you’ve packaged it to make it easy to consume.

That’s the content that people not only love to share, but they love to link and bring other people to it as well.

It’s the kind of content that is going to make your SEO more effective, and make your content more discoverable because Google sees the signals that are being sent to that content.

It’s the kind of content that is ultimately going to lead people to buy your products and services, because you’ve addressed their problem, and made it easy for them to consume the content. You built trust signals, which is going to help you show up on page one of Google, which is huge. 

You’re giving somebody a reason to dig in on their own, and discover that what you sell is going to actually solve their problem.

That’s how you have to think about content.

There are a couple of metrics that I love to look at when I’m trying to analyze somebody’s content. I use tools, like Ahrefs, to see the number of keyword phrases driving traffic to page one.

I also like to use a tool called BuzzSumo. One of the things that it will do is dive into your content from a social media standpoint and will answer questions like:

  • How much sharing is going on?
  • What kind of content gets shared the most?
  • Who’s linking to it?
  • Who’s Tweeting it?
  • What is the length and format of the content?

It really breaks down all the sharing activity that goes on in your content.

I love to look at that kind of shared data because in many cases it will clearly point to your best content that’s being shared. Most of the time, that’s longer content that is more in depth, and that people find very useful. 

The value of your organic traffic is also a tremendous metric to really allow you to see how you’re stacking up.

Typically, what happens is your content becomes more discoverable because it was useful. It’s more shareable because it was useful. So it’s like this vicious, positive cycle that ends up making your traffic and visits worth so much more.

How to Create Effective Content Without Adding More to Your To-Do List

How to Create Effective Content Without Adding More to Your To-Do List written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Content influences not only all aspects of our marketing but of our entire business as well.

Content is not something you can take lightly. It needs to be front and center of your strategy and it needs to be done well. The only issue is, it’s time-consuming.

For small business owners, finding the time to create high-quality content on a regular basis can seem impossible. With the ever-growing to-do list that so many business owners face, how can the content giant get taken care of without adding more to their plates?

The answer? Outsourcing.

Outsourcing your content creation efforts is far more common than you probably think, and in my opinion, it’s a necessary tactic if you want to do content marketing well. In today’s virtual world, the sky’s the limit for the talent that you can use to create the content for you.

Not only will it benefit your business, but it will likely save you money by giving you the time back needed to focus on other lucrative areas of your business.

Below are a few tips for outsourcing that will get you on your way to being a successful content creation machine.

1. Own your process and strategy

So here’s the thing. You can, and should, absolutely outsource the creation of your content, but you must still own your process and strategy (it is your business after all).

The only way to outsource effectively is to put systems in place that ensure successful collaboration between you and your outsourced team.

I’d recommend using a project management tool to manage deadlines and provide feedback efficiently. Things can get lost in email and has the potential to get messy. I use Asana, but there are a lot of tools out there that can help you get the job done.

Getting a routine going between you and your outsourced partners can also be extremely beneficial. For example, have blog posts due to you for review every Thursday and podcast show notes due every Wednesday. That way, you know what to expect and when to expect it, and the person creating the content will also know what they need to be doing and when without a lot of back and forth communication.

Develop an editorial calendar that lays out a strategy that your outsourced team can refer to. Planning ahead makes month-to-month operations easier for you, and lets your content creators know what’s to come.

2. Be picky

Anybody can really claim to be a writer, but claiming to be a writer and actually being one are two different things. When searching for somebody to outsource this work to, seek out references and testimonials, and ask them to write a blog post for a title you give them to see how they approach your topics and writing style.

There are numerous sites out there that you can use to find writers, including:

In the beginning, take the time to review the work for specifics, style, tone, and voice. Edit each post to make sure it still represents the brand well, and feel free to tweak a bit to add a personal touch. Provide your content creators with feedback from the beginning, otherwise, they’ll never be able to learn what you’re truly looking for. If they don’t apply the feedback to future posts, you should consider this a red flag.

If you find they are consistently living up to your expectations, bring them on board. The review process will take less time the more they get used to writing for you. In fact, you’ll hopefully get to the point where you don’t have to review their work at all.

It’s important that you do what you can to prevent bottlenecks. There may be times that your content isn’t 100% perfect but, don’t let an endless editing phase prevent you from getting your content out into the world.

Your audience cares more about receiving helpful information than they do about whether or not your author’s tone perfectly aligns with the brand.

3. Remove the guesswork

You must be clear about the instructions you give your writers in terms of tone, style, and formatting. Create a document that outlines these areas for each of your writing needs as well as any background information that is necessary for them to get the job done.

It can be easy to blame remote writers for creating less-than-ideal content, but if you haven’t taken the time to provide the information they need to get the job done, then the blame is on you.

4. Focus on results

When it comes to your content efforts, you must always be paying attention to the results you’re seeing. Even if the content appears to check all the boxes on your list, it doesn’t mean it will perform well once it’s published.

Keep an eye on the metrics to see what resonates with your audience and what does not.

Keep in mind that one piece of content shouldn’t dictate strategy moving forward. You need to look for trends to help you decide what to stick with and what to revise moving forward.

5. Take care of your team

Your outsourced team may be remote, but they’re still a part of your team now and should be treated as such. Don’t forget to give positive feedback when it’s deserved. People want to work for those that appreciate them. The more valued and appreciated they feel, the better the work they produce will be.

By outsourcing content, you are able to focus on areas business of your business that require your attention. If you feel inclined, you can still create one thorough piece of content on your own each week to help keep you on your toes and current with marketing trends, but that’s entirely up to you.

Outsourcing can be extremely valuable for your business, provided you do it the right way and pay special attention to the process.

Remember, although another person is doing the work, it’s your or your brand and reputation that stand behind it, so don’t take the process and development lightly.

Using Content As Your Voice of Strategy

Using Content As Your Voice of Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

I’ve said it once (or twice) and I’ll say it again: content is no longer king, it’s air. It not only touches all aspects of your marketing these days but of your business as well.

Your audience expects to find information about any product, service, or challenge they face simply by typing a keyword into Google. If you aren’t showing up, even if someone referred them to you, there’s a good chance they won’t decide to move forward with you because of a lack of trust.

In my opinion (and I’m not along), the most important element when it comes to building a long-term, sustainable marketing system is content. But here’s the thing, it’s not enough to simply produce content for content’s sake. You must use it as your voice of strategy, and the best way to do this is to produce content that focuses on education and building trust.

In order to be effective with this, you must come up with a plan. Waking up in the morning and deciding what you are going to write about on your blog that day isn’t sustainable. You must come up with a plan.

The Total Content System

I came up with this approach a while back and it essentially allows you to plan, delegate, curate, create, collaborate, repurpose and get more out of every piece of content you produce.

Create foundational content themes

Develop a list of core content topics and assign one to each month for the next 12 months. Each theme should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry and represent an important keyword search term. You can also designate terms that you know you would like to rank higher for, but currently, have little or no content that leads people online or off to you.

I find it helpful to think about it like a book, where each month represents a chapter in what will ultimately make up an important body of work by the end of this year.

Develop your content delivery platform

Once you have your themes, you can organize your Content Delivery Platform. Here are a few examples of content that I use and how I use them.

  • Blog posts – I write a weekly blog post that ultimately contributes to a monthly guide with other content of the same theme.
  • Podcast – I publish a podcast episode twice/week and aim to have at least one of them be a solo show that discusses and aspect of my theme for the month.
  • Webinars – Since we are creating all this rich, topic-specific content we host monthly online seminars to deliver the content in a new form.
  • Content package – The final step is to take all of this content from each month and create a package that allows people interested in the monthly topic to access the entire package in one tidy resource.

Integrate content with core business objectives

Once the first two steps are complete, you must map your content plan to your core business objectives. This step allows you to better understand how to get a return on your content investment and how much you should actually invest in creating a certain form or package of content.

One of the most important aspects of a Total Content System plan is that it changes the lens you use to view all the information that comes at you all day long.

When you know what your monthly themes are, all of a sudden tools, articles, and conversations take on new meaning and seem to somehow organize themselves for the benefit of your ongoing, long-term approach.

Now, in order for all of this to be truly effective, I want to reiterate that the content must build trust and must educate your audience.

What types of content build trust?

  • Blogs – A blog should be your starting point for your content strategy because it makes content production, syndication and sharing so easy. Plus, search engines love blog content which can help boost your SEO.
  • Social media – Building rich profiles, and optimizing links, images and videos that point back to your main site is an important part of the content as strategy plan.
  • Reviews – You’ll never have total control over this category, but ignore it and it may be one of the most damaging to your brand. Get proactive and monitor this channel aggressively.
  • Testimonials – This content adds important trust-building endorsements and makes for great brand building assets out there on Google and YouTube.

What types of content work best for educating your audience?

  • Podcasts – Podcasts are becomingly increasingly popular and serve as a fantastic way to engage and educate your audience in an easily digestible format.
  • Seminars – People want information packaged in ways that will help them get what they want. Presentations, workshop, and seminars are tremendous ways to provide education with increased engagement.
  • FAQs – There’s no denying the value of information packaged in this format, but go beyond the questions that routinely get asked and include those that should get asked but don’t.
  • Success stories – Building rich examples of actual clients succeeding through the use of your product or service offerings is a tremendous way to help people learn from other individuals and business just like them.

If you liked this post, check out our Ultimate Guide to Small Business Marketing Strategy.

How to Use Content to Create Customers

How to Use Content to Create Customers written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

I know this isn’t the first time you’ve been told that you need to develop content to be competitive in the marketing world today, but the fact of the matter is, it’s so important that it’s worth repeating over and over again. The use of high quality, education-based content has become an essential ingredient in creating awareness, building trust, converting leads, and creating customers (hopefully leading to referrals and repeat business as well).

With that being said, content doesn’t need to be nearly as overwhelming as it once was. Gone are the days where you have to pump out content consistently in order to gain traction online. The name of the game today is quality, not quantity, and Google is getting really good at recognizing that.

I’ve developed a system for turning content into leads. Once the leads are in your hand, it’s up to you to close the deal and turn them into customers.

1. Decide what content you should create

For a while now, I’ve been promoting something I call the Total Content SystemTM, which is an approach that allows you to plan, delegate, curate, create, collaborate, repurpose and get far more out of every piece of content you produce.

Through your knowledge and by using keyword tools, you can develop a list of core content topics and assign one to each month for the next six months. Each theme should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry and represent an important keyword search term.

2. Invest time in content upgrades

Marketers today have tapped the insatiable hunger for useful, actionable, educational content and are employing highly targeted “content upgrades” to convert traffic to lead funnels.

Knowing that you’ll be creating less, but more valuable, content, be sure to marry this content with content upgrades. Since the reader is already engaged with your content, providing value with these upgrades will increase the odds of a conversion because they will already be a warm lead.

An important factor to the content upgrade is that it helps you segment visitor interest. People are very interested in how to do that one specific thing they searched for. If they land on your article, you have the ability to know what they are looking for and which content upgrade to provide when they need it.

One of the quickest ways to identify candidates for immediate content upgrade opportunities is to look through your analytics and find your most popular content and consider ways to personalize a content upgrade for those posts.

You can also use a tool like BuzzSumo to identify some of the most shared content online based on the keyword phrases related to your ideal client.

You don’t have to overthink the package for a content upgrade. In many cases what you’re looking to do is simplify information not make it more complex.

Providing these upgrades will increase your number of leads, and in turn, customers.

3. Ensure your audience sees your content

Keep in mind that no matter how good your content is, nobody will see it if you don’t promote it. You must ensure you promote it to relevant social channels, email lists, and so on to ensure it targeting the right people. Also, be sure to employ on-page SEO best practices within your content to help you get found by your audience organically.

Matching your content to the customer journey

To take your content creation even further, you must ensure that it is incorporated into every stage of the customer journey in order to solidify the close. I believe the customer journey consists of seven stages (what I refer to as the Marketing Hourglass): Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.

As a person moves through the customer journey, you must hit them with content throughout the process to keep them engaged with your business, and the best way to do this is to match the content you’d like to develop with the various phases of the Marketing Hourglass.

You must be aware of what your customer’s journey looks like in order to develop content for each stage of it. To help you do so, I’ve described the stages below to help you brainstorm what content would work best for you.

Know

The Know stage is the phase where people first become aware of your business, and it’s your job to put a piece of content out there that get’s their attention.

Like

At this stage, give your prospects reasons to keep wanting more and move towards gaining permission to continue the conversation.

Trust

I believe this is the most important step but arguably the most tedious and time-consuming. The more a person trusts you and your company, the more likely they’ll be to buy from you. Create content that helps build that trust.

Try

I think this the easiest phase to move people to the purchase. The content here needs to represent a sample of the end result. Demonstrate how much better your product or service is than the competition, to differentiate your business.

Buy

The focus here is to maintain a good experience for the prospect. In order to continue to deliver a remarkable customer experience, you’ve got to continue to educate through content.

Repeat

In the Repeat phase, you need to consider adding a results review process as well as additional upsell and cross-sell touchpoints.

Refer

Build processes and content campaigns that make it easy for your brand champions to refer your business.

Content marketing is here to stay. Put time and energy into creating quality content with associated content upgrades throughout each stage of the customer journey, and you’ll be sure to increase your number of customers moving forward.

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