What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing?

Quality in Content Marketing

Have you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away!

Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach.

So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way:

Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them.

It’s that simple. Well, one step further:

Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care.

We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them?

That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be …

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:

  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive

Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat.

Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell.

Advanced Guide to Content Marketing Example

Of course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader.

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We’re wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story.

We’re wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve.

The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example.

Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways.

This piece from LinkedIn’s* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too.

LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.

That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results — it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise.

When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry’s top marketing minds.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success

While digging through data and market research, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. But when assessing these insights, what really matters is the stories they tell.

This is a key point of emphasis for Gartner, and specifically its Smarter with Gartner content platform, which adds context and substance to trends surfaced by the research firm’s findings.

So it is quite fitting that Heather Pemberton Levy, who helps guide Gartner’s strategic direction as VP of Content Marketing, champions the “Story Comes First” method. This concept served as a framework for her 2016 book, Brand, Meet Story: How to Create Engaging Content to Win Business and Influence Your Audience, and will also be in play during her workshop at Content Marketing World, entitled “From 0 to 60: Building a Mature B2B Content Marketing Organization.”

We talk frequently on our blog about the crucial importance of storytelling — recently we discussed its impact as a trust-building tool — so we’re definitely on board with letting relatable narratives lead the way in content. We are eager to hear how Pemberton Levy and her team have woven this directive, and other elements, into the process of building Gartner’s highly-trafficked content hub from the ground up.

While we wait for her September session, we did have a chance to ask Pemberton Levy for her views on some important content marketing topics. Here’s what she had to say about flipping the traditional marketing model, the value of “version 0.5,” lessons learned from writing a mommy blog, and more.

What does your role as Vice President of Content Marketing at Gartner entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

I lead content marketing for global marketing campaigns and the Smarter with Gartner and Gartner.com platforms. Gartner equips business leaders across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size, with the insights, advice and tools to achieve their top priorities. I manage a global team of contributors who create original content for all major business categories in the form of articles, infographics, eBooks, and videos based on Gartner’s proprietary insights.

My main area of focus is to ensure that our content is valuable to senior business leaders while meeting our key marketing priorities to attract prospects, engage and nurture them through the buyer’s journey. This involves continuously evolving our editorial and platform strategies, working with stakeholders throughout the organization, and evangelizing content marketing within the broader corporate marketing function.

You created the “Story Comes First” method. How does this flip the conventional marketing model and why is it important?

The Story Comes First method creates a structure for creating content that always begins with a story your reader can identify with and uses this moment to bridge their point of view with your brand’s unique selling point. Many marketers still talk about their products and services in terms of what they can do for their audience rather than what the audience cares about, why that’s important and how their solution can help solve the problem. Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy.

Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld Click To Tweet

How has social media changed the game for brand storytelling?

Brands are no longer dependent on publicity with traditional media to influence target audiences. Social media gave brands their own “subscriber lists,” effectively giving them their own distribution channels for content marketing.

You’ll be presenting at CMWorld on building a mature B2B content marketing organization. What, from your view, are the hallmarks of maturity on this front?

In my three years building a content marketing organization with my colleagues at Gartner, my views have evolved on what signals content marketing maturity in a complex global organization.

First, if you dig into your analytics, the data may tell a different story than what you see on the first page of your dashboard report. It’s not easy to get the right analytics so it’s important to constantly lobby for good data and pay attention to it.

Second, what people do with your content may be different than what you intended. If you’re willing to listen to the data, it will be necessary, at times, to upend your strategy and head in a new direction.

What people do with your content may be different than what you intended. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Which content marketing metrics and KPIs do you think are most critical to growth?

Rather than list specific KPIs, which is a longer discussion that I will cover in the workshop, I’ll note that it’s important to be crystal clear what you are measuring and why. Our content marketing strategy centers around three key objectives and we have specific KPIs and related metrics for each objective. Everyone on my team is measured based on these objectives and KPIs. This is the best way to work towards the right priorities for the organization.

What are some shortcuts you’ve identified in your career when it comes to striving toward content marketing maturity?

One of the hallmarks of Gartner corporate strategy is to “get to version 0.5 and then test” and improve from there. This philosophy has allowed us to be agile and put new ideas into the marketplace quickly to learn what works. It’s how Smarter With Gartner was built and we constantly remind ourselves that when we are planning a new strategic direction, it’s best to find a way to do something quickly with low impact on resources first and build it out further based on data from our audience.

Looking back, is there a particular moment or juncture in your career that you view as transformative? What takeaways could other marketers learn and apply?

I wrote a mommy blog for four years that helped me learn how to tell stories and use dialog – all of which I brought to my content marketing career. The experience reminded me that I am an editor and publisher at heart and helped me find ways to create content, eventually for brands.

My takeaway for other content marketers is to read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own work. You never know how it will fit but it’s important to stay exposed to the masters of our craft.

Read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own [email protected] #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

I’m looking forward to the sessions on creating video since the format takes time and resources to make standout content. I’m also excited for the keynotes by Amber Guild of The New York Times Company and, of course, Tina Fey.

Story Comes First. What’s Next?

We’ll find out when Pemberton Levy takes the stage in Cleveland. In the meantime, we recommend tapping into illuminating insights from her and many other content marketing leaders in The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing:

CMWorld Interview: Path to 1M Monthly Readers Has No Shortcuts, Says J.P. Medved

In her introduction to The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing, Content Marketing Institute’s Cathy McPhillips draws several commonalities between content marketing and video games: the interactivity, the trial-and-error learnings, the camradery.

But, while many marketers have their own personal “cheat codes” that help them gain an edge, there are no true hacks in content. Certain video games allow you to tap in a series of commands and gain invincibility, or jump ahead to the next level. Content marketers, however, cannot magically produce an audience or monetization out of thin air.

As the Content Director for Capterra, and also an avowed lover of gaming, J.P. Medved understands this reality. His company’s industry-specific blogs have grown to 1 million monthly readers, and it wasn’t because of any secret elixir.

Instead, Capterra’s success owes to a proven, adoptable strategy tethered to the fundamentals of organization, goals, promotion, and experimentation. Medved will explain this formula in-depth during his Content Marketing World session, Better Than Hacks and Schemes: A Proven Approach to Building Your Audience, and was also kind enough to share some insights with us ahead of the September event.    

Medved has a reputation for being sharply honest and entertaining, and those traits definitely came through during our interview with him. Keep reading to find his thoughts on silent content, scalability, documenting strategies, and content marketing lessons learned from his experience writing fiction.

What does your role as Content Marketing Director at Capterra entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

My day-to-day as a Content Director involves a lot of email and meetings, at this point. We’ve grown to a team of nine writers, six of whom I manage directly, so a lot of my time is devoted to supporting them. I join monthly topic planning meetings with all of them, as well as frequent check-ins with the editors and the marketing folks that support the content we produce. I also now spend a fair amount of time in our analytics and various content management systems just checking in and tracking things.

As we’ve grown—and I suspect this is common in most roles—I’ve transitioned away from being a content producer, to being a content manager. I no longer write content myself, and we centralized editing early last year so I no longer edit individual pieces either. Instead I spend more time coordinating long-term content plans and calendars with other teams in the business, managing content experiments or helping new projects get off the ground, and working with the folks on my team to help advance their career goals.

Why should content marketers beware of “hacks” and shortcuts when it comes to growing their audience and impact?

The content marketing world, and the digital marketing space more generally, loves the idea of the Cinderella story. That blog that hits everything just right and experiences exponential, “hockey stick” growth and also there’s a royal wedding involved somehow. But our experience, and that of the vast majority of successful content marketing operations I’m aware of, is actually a lot more boring.

Jimmy Daley of the great animalz.co blog calls it “silent content;” that company that has just been plugging away and producing and refining great content for years, and grown a consistent, large audience and strong search position.  

With Capterra’s content, we’ve grown to a million readers a month, writing in an ostensibly boring, B2B software space, and we never had a breakout “viral” hit, or flashy media coverage, or exponential traffic growth (it’s all been linear). We’ve just been working away at it since 2013, publishing consistently and getting a little bit better each month.

I think if you waste all your time and energy chasing new “hacks” and shortcuts sold to you by whatever case study is making the rounds on YouMoz that week, you never get really good at the fundamentals of content marketing; the block-and-tackle of creating and promoting really great, helpful—if unassuming—content. As a result your growth, though it may experience the occasional spike, will actually slow and it’ll take you more time to build a sustainable traffic base in the long-run.

If you waste all your time and energy chasing new “hacks” & shortcuts, you never get really good at the fundamentals of content marketing. @rizzleJPizzle #CMWorld Click To Tweet

What are the most pivotal roles in developing an effective and scalable content strategy?

Scalability is still something we struggle with, having grown the team 6X in the last four years. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is actually to bring on/promote other managers earlier than you think you need it. Assuming an average writer production schedule of two, 1,500 word articles a week, a full-time manager can effectively manage and edit 3-4 writers. If they’re not editing (you bring in a centralized editing team, or use a round-robin method, or delegate to senior writers), that number goes up to 6-7.  

But you should have someone in place to help you well before you hit that number, not only to give them time to ramp-up and learn management skills, but also to allow you to plan effectively for new hires and content coverage growth.

The biggest lesson content I’ve learned is actually to bring on/promote other managers earlier than you think you need it. @rizzleJPizzle #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Why is experimentation so critical in the content creation process?

Most of our content fails. Like, over 90% of it. And that’s not at all uncommon in the content marketing world. If everyone knew the exact ingredients to a “viral” content piece, that’s all anyone would produce. But we don’t know. Pieces I think will do really well, more-often-than-not sink without a trace, and pieces that seem like throwaways can take off because they’ve tapped into some pent-up need in the marketplace of ideas.

So we try to test a lot. 50% or more of our content is trying out new topics or channels or formats, and the other 50% is either updating successful past content, or scaling up a content type that our previous testing has discovered works.

I differ here from the current received-wisdom in the content marketing industry. Right now it’s hip to say content marketers need to produce fewer pieces of longer, higher quality content. But I actually argue you should produce a higher volume of content (at least early on) to discover what “hits” with your particular audience, so you can scale that later.

Brian Dean of Backlinko is often the poster-child of the “publish less, publish higher-quality” model, and I love his content and he’s obviously been very successful. But might he have been more successful publishing weekly instead of monthly? Could he have sacrificed a little bit of length to experiment with a broader range of topic ideas earlier on before scaling the ones that worked? I think it’s possible.

You should produce a higher volume of content (at least early on) to discover what “hits” with your particular audience, so you can scale that later. @rizzleJPizzle #CMWorld Click To Tweet

What are the most common mistakes you see individuals and companies make when developing and launching a blog?

The biggest one is not taking content marketing seriously. That manifests itself in two major tactical mistakes: not hiring someone to do content full-time, and trying to squeeze direct revenue out of content in the first year.

If no one’s doing content full-time, then content just becomes a side project for someone at your company who may-or-may-not get to it once they finish their “real work” for the day. We tried this model for years and never got any traction with our content until someone owned it full-time and could devote themselves to thinking about it strategically and producing content consistently.

And you should not try to monetize your content in the first year. It will distort your writing, even if you think you can guard against it, and result in lower-quality, less helpful, more salesy content. Focus on creating content that is genuinely helpful for your audience first, and you will build reader trust for any kind of monetization scheme you want to implement later down the road.

If no one’s doing content full-time, then content just becomes a side project for someone at your company who may-or-may-not get to it once they finish their real work for the day. @rizzleJPizzle #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Why is it important for businesses to have a documented content strategy, as opposed to an intangible framework?

I think people get intimidated when you say, “You need to have a documented content strategy” because they envision this 30-page document written in corporate buzzwords that will take a month to create. But we literally started with nothing more than a two-page Word doc with some bullet points listing our short and long-term goals/metrics, the type of content we wanted to create, and who was responsible for what aspects.

The benefits to us of even something that basic have been huge. Actually writing it down forced us to think through the specifics and showed us where the gaps in our plan were, having agreed-upon goals and timelines upfront made for easier team and executive buy-in, and it gave us something to refer back to when we had questions about whether a new content idea fit our overall goals.

What have you learned in your ‘side hustle’ as a fiction novelist that applies to your day job as a content marketer?

For writing fiction I spent a lot of time studying story structure, and plot architecture, and all the elements that make a story really “flow” and feel effortless to people reading it. What struck me is how many of the same principles apply to a content piece.

You want to start off with a strong “hook” that introduces an element of mystery and makes the reader want to know more, your “climax” needs to deliver a memorable experience or information, and the dénouement has to be satisfying. A novel that doesn’t tie up loose ends in the last few chapters is as unsatisfying as a blog post that doesn’t include a concrete next step or call to action in the last few paragraphs.

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

I love video games, so I’m excited to hear Jane Weedon of Twitch give her talk. I’ve also always been fascinated by the science behind online behavior, so Brian Massey’s talk on Behavioral Science for Content Marketers is high on my list as well.

Find Your Path to Content Marketing Greatness

Consistency, experimentation, and getting better each month: They might not be the stuff of Cinderella stories, but in the real world these techniques work and Medved’s team serves as living proof.

He is one of many CMWorld speakers who contributed to The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing, so as we look forward to seeing them on stage in Cleveland, make sure to soak in all their awesome advice by clicking through the slides below:

5 Powerful Types (And Examples) of Link-Worthy Content

How to Create Link-Worthy Content

Since the inception of the search engine, marketers have spent an obscene amount of time optimizing their content and strategy for search. And while the old days of keyword stuffing and other black-hat SEO tactics are behind (most marketers), there’s two constants that remain the same for driving organic search results: The importance of good content and getting credible links to that good content.

In fact, Google’s former Search Quality Senior Strategist and current Partner Development Manager, Andre Lippattsev, made it official in a recent interview stating that content and backlinks were the top two ranking factors in Google’s elusive algorithm.

As a result, there’s little doubt that we marketers must create something irresistible for searchers and search engines if we want to score good results.

via GIPHY

To help you create link-worthy content that has the potential to generate credible referrals and backlinks, and give organic visibility a boost, here are five types of content worthy of consideration.

#1 – Original Research

Marketers are always looking for credible facts, statistics, and insights to not only understand more about their industry and keep up on trends, but also bolster their own content. As a result, original research can be an incredibly powerful and link-attracting piece of content.

For example, the Content Marketing Institute’s State of B2B Content Marketing Annual Report is a something we often reference and link to in our own blog posts.

CMI's 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report

With statistics that highlight common content marketing trends, patterns, and pain points for B2B marketers, their report helps us learn more about our industry, but also reinforce our some of our own marketing philosophies and present the facts. As a result, CMI’s 2018 report has over 2,000 inbound links.

018 B2B Content Marketing Report Inbound Link Results

Source: Moz Link Explorer

Conducting your own industry research, however, is a time- and resource-intensive task. We know this first-hand from our own experience working with DivvyHQ to create our 2018 Content Planning Survey.

To make sure that you’re putting together accurate, quality research, there are some guidelines you’ll want to follow. For instance, you’ll want to get a large enough sample size for your survey or study to ensure that your findings represent your industry accurately—you don’t want to collect only a few responses from people you know.

In addition, avoid open-ended questions when conducting research as you’ll want to make sure that your findings are quantitative. And as with any content you create, make sure you have a robust amplification plan in place to drive awareness.

In the end, if you’re able to put together fresh, useful research, your audience will find value and insight, and sources who cite your research will be compelled to link to your report, increasing your number of inbound links and (hopefully) rankings.

#2 – Infographics

Original research isn’t the only thing readers and sources rely on to find new, relevant insights that help them tell their stories. As a visual, engaging way to digest a lot of information at once, infographics are another type of linkable asset that resonates with readers and sources alike.

Loaded with quotes, graphics, statistics, and more, infographics house plenty of information without overwhelming your audience. Packed with helpful insights, it’s no wonder that other sites will link to a beautiful infographic over a text-heavy white paper.

For example, GetVoIP, a cloud communications advisory, created an infographic on “How To Get More Energy At Work.” The infographic resulted in 66 inbound links and was also picked up by Entrepreneur.com.

GetVoIP Infographic

If you’ve already done some original research as suggested above, creating an infographic is a great way to promote or get some additional life out of your research report. However, infographics can also be curated from credible sources representing statistics, quotes, and data in new, visual ways.

To create infographics that readers and sources alike will appreciate, look at your existing content for repurposing opportunities. For example, you could take one of your top-performing, stat-packed blog posts and turn it into an infographic for an easy win. Or, find credible sources with data points that support the tips or takeaways you want to share and turn them into fun graphics. And of course, make sure the data and facts included are highly relevant to your target audience, and you have an amplification plan in place.

#3 – Online Tools & Resources

The two previous types of link-worthy content focus heavily on earning links through data. However, data isn’t the only link-worthy type of content. Inbound links are also earned by providing helpful tools and resources to your readers. The more “bookmark-able” resources you can produce, the more links you have the opportunity to capture.

What kind of tools or resources are we talking about?

Check out HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator as an example below. While there isn’t a lot of visible content on the page, there is a lot of value in the tool itself as it can help solve a big pain point among their target audience: writer’s block.

HubSpot Ideas Generator Tool

And the results of providing something so useful are substantial with the tool generating over 12,000 inbound links and 200 ranking keywords.

Linking Results from HubSpot's Blog Idea Generator Tool

Source: Moz Link Explorer

Besides an idea generator, you could also create a calculator, calendar, or even just a listicle of helpful tools and resources. As an example, our own blog post featuring over 100 Search Engine Marketing Resources is one of our most linked-to pages with 3,114 inbound links.

#4 – Rankings

Rankings are also helpful, link-worthy types of content. People want to know who the best people are to follow on LinkedIn, what tools are best for employee advocacy, or what the top tactics are for generating leads. And creating a ranking is one of the ways you can offer those recommendations.

Content that shares valuable, must-know information is what earns the most links, and rankings definitely tick that box. Plus, the individuals or brands featured on your list are also likely to share and link to your ranking in order to promote their accomplishment. In fact, Great Place to Work published their annual list of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For and received over 350 inbound links in just under six months.

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018

When creating your own rankings, make sure you have a set process or methodology. There needs to be a clear rationale behind your choices. This shows your readers and potential link sources how you reached your ranking decisions, adding to the credibility of your list. And again, make sure you have an amplification plan in place before launch.

#5 – Guides & Tutorials

Another type of resource that gets a lot of attention from other sources on the web are guides and tutorials. As the “one-stop shop” for everything you need to know on a given subject or task, guides and tutorials are helpful links for others to add to their content. For example, Blockgeeks, a blockchain training and education platform, created an in-depth guide on Bitcoin containing over 2,800 words.

Bitcoin Tutorial Example

The power page has resulted in over 800 inbound links and 180 ranking keywords for Blockgeeks.

Linking Results From the What Is Bitcoin Guide

Source: Moz Link Explorer

To build those in-depth content opportunities, use tools like SEMrush.com to identify relevant variations of a keyword you would like to target. For example, if you want to cover the topic “document management,” the Keyword Magic Tool will give you a list of all of the related long-tail and question keyword variations to tackle in your guide like “document management software,” “what is document management,” “how does document management work,” and “why document management is important.”

Those keyword variations should then serve as the outline for your guide, ensuring that you cover all of the relevant questions and topics your audience and sources might like to learn about. And while it’s already been said in this piece, I’ll say it again: make sure you have an amplification plan beyond SEO to drive awareness, engagement, and clicks.

Give Them Something to “Link About”

Searchers and search engines are on the hunt for quality, insightful content to answer questions, bolster their research, and share with their audiences. By strategically creating guides, resources, research reports, or infographics, you can serve up useful, insightful, and link-worthy content that leaves them thinking:

via GIPHY

Just remember to keep quality and usefulness top of mind when creating your content. As our own CEO, Lee Odden, says:

No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful.

No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful. – @leeodden Click To Tweet

Earning backlinks is one of the most important factors when it comes to improving your organic search rankings. Have a highly competitive word you want to rank for? Check out our guide on how to rank for competitive keywords.

CMWorld Interview: Thinking Inside the (Answer) Box with Courtney Cox

In a digital marketing career that has spanned numerous roles, often with a heavy focus on SEO, Courtney Cox has watched plenty of trends come and go.

But like many of us, she’s convinced that answer boxes (or “featured snippets,” or “position zero,” as you will) hold the key to search success going forward.

Not only do these “best answer” results attain prime visibility on SERPs, but as voice search continues to grow more prominent, they are likely to become the only result for many user queries within a few years.

Recognizing the magnitude of this topic, Cox will dedicate her session at Content Marketing World to Position 0: Optimizing Your Content to Rank in Google’s Answer Boxes. Drawing from her experience at Children’s Health, where she’s tasked with helping modernize the digital experience in an industry that has been — by her own admission — a little behind the curve, she’ll offer up practical advice for claiming this crucial real estate.

As we eagerly await her afternoon session on September 5th in Cleveland, OH, we had a chance to ask Cox about some pertinent matters relating to her specialization. Here’s what she had to say about data-driven conversion rate optimization, strategizing through competitive analysis, speaking the language of coding as marketers, and more.


What does your role as Digital Marketing Manager at Children’s Health entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

I have a team of strategists and editors that manages the online experience for our patient families. This includes everything from the user experience of Childrens.com, SEO, paid search, and management of our local listings across the web.

We are currently in a major transition period. Our goal is to provide the best online experience of any pediatric healthcare system in the country. Healthcare as an industry is behind the times, and historically, we have been no exception. As the cost of healthcare goes up, our consumers place more scrutiny on the total value of their experience with our system.

We typically think of that experience beginning when patient families walk through our doors; however, the initial patient experience frequently begins online with a search and ends online with a review. It’s our job to use the digital experience to show the value of our clinical services, reduce the anxiety of our patient families, and provide them with the information they need to make the right decisions for their child.

This year, that means implementing rigorous user testing, redesigning nearly every template on Childrens.com, taking advantage of advanced search tactics such as structured data and accelerated mobile pages, and publishing reviews directly on our website.

What is one thing that most company websites could be doing better when it comes to driving sales and conversions?

Fair warning – I’m going to try not to get on my soapbox about this one, but it’s hard because I feel so passionately about it.

Digital marketers need to abandon the “gut feeling” approach to conversion rate optimization. In the days of expensive usability labs and split-testing software, businesses with limited budgets could be excused from making data-driven, customer-centered optimizations. Those days are over.

If you want to outperform your competitors, you must start listening to your customers and responding to their behavior. If you’re not using free tools like Google Optimize for split testing or one of the infinite number of inexpensive user testing options available, then I guarantee you are failing your customers in some way in which you’re currently unaware.

Digital marketers need to abandon the “gut feeling” approach to conversion rate optimization. @CourtEWakefield #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Moving on to your subject of focus at CMWorld: Aside from the obvious placement benefits, why is it so important to aim for ‘Position 0’ on Google search results?

‘Position 0’ results (aka ‘Featured Snippets’, aka ‘Answer Boxes’) are important for a number of reasons. As you mentioned, prominence at the top of the search engine results page positions your website for more engagement and clicks than a lower position, but that’s not all.

Voice platforms like Google Home rely heavily on the position 0 results to give answers to voice queries from their users. For example, if you ask Google Home, “why can’t my kid sleep?” you’ll get an excerpt from Childrens.com that shows in the Google answer box for the same query on Google.

It’s been predicted that by 2020, half of all searches will be done through voice, and most of those searches will be headless (on a screenless device like Amazon Alexa or Google Home). In those cases, position 0 is the only result. You want to own that space.

How can competitive analysis improve our efforts to land an Answer Box?

The best thing to start with is to take inventory of the websites populating the answer boxes for queries you want to dominate. Then go look at what they’re doing on their pages. Are they using natural language in their headlines? Do they have structured data? What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? Is there a theme across all the sites that you can mimic?

Then, you’ll want to match what they’re doing right and take advantage where they’re failing. In my experience, most websites are not well-optimized for the answer boxes, and they’re ranking through dumb luck. A little effort goes a long way.

In my experience, most websites are not well-optimized for the answer boxes, and they’re ranking through dumb luck. @CourtEWakefield #CMWorld Click To Tweet

When it comes to working toward Position 0, which optimization techniques pay dividends above and beyond the SEO impact?

Any time that you invest significant effort into providing quality content that answers your visitors’ questions in a well laid out and easy-to-digest format, you’re going to start seeing payoffs beyond rankings. I think most content marketing folks understand that.

To ensure our content is high quality and highly relevant to what our customers need, we’ve been using a new technique that starts with the “People Also Ask” questions on Google. Basically, we type in a query we want to rank for, take inventory of the “People Also Ask” questions that appear for that query, and answer those questions directly in our content with the question itself as an H2 on the page.

Google is giving us a gift; by revealing these questions to us, they give us a deeper look than ever into the aggregation and relation of their search data. We’d be foolish not to utilize this data to create the most relevant content for users and position ourselves as a valuable thought leader.

Any time that you invest significant effort into providing quality content that answers your visitors’ questions, you’re going to start seeing payoffs beyond rankings. @CourtEWakefield #CMWorld Click To Tweet

What does the emergence of the Answer Box tell us about how search engines are changing to serve the user experience? What do you foresee as the possible next step in that direction?

The demands on our time are greater every day, and folks’ attention spans are ever shorter. We want answers, and we want them now. Answer boxes are just a response to that.

I won’t be surprised if five or 10 years from now, Google has enough functionality and feature sets that the majority of small businesses won’t need their own websites. You’ve already seen less reliance on individual ecommerce sites with the emergence of Amazon and even Etsy. Google could make this possible for service-based businesses like barber shops and coffee shops.

People get kind of anxious about that, especially those in the web development business, but the commoditization of the web has always been a reality. Those of us in digital marketing must adapt or die. And, on the client side, if Google is sending the business, why wouldn’t you want to reduce the cost of doing business by eliminating web hosting fees?

How can content marketers work more smoothly and seamlessly with development teams to get things done efficiently? Where do you see the most common snags?

I’m so lucky at Children’s because we have a marketing technology team that sits with us, and they are some of the most talented and easy-to-work with folks I’ve known in my career.

But I know not everyone has that luxury. I think the thing that has helped me most in my career is that I’ve also been a developer. While not every content marketer can go out there and learn a coding language, they should really try to learn as much about that world as they can. It helps when you’re requesting the implementation of structured data or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) that you understand the complexities or at least how much work it will take.

In my experience, developers really appreciate it when you consult with them about a request. “Have you heard about AMP? What do you think about it? I think it could really improve mobile traffic – does it have any downsides from your perspective?” That consultation goes a long way for buy in down the road.

While not every content marketer can go out there and learn a coding language, they should really try to learn as much about that world as they can. @CourtEWakefield #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

You mean besides Tina Fey?

I’m a real tech geek, so the “How to Use Artificial Intelligence to Build and Optimize Content” and “Let’s Chat: How Messaging Apps, Chatbots, and Voice Assistants Will Impact Your Business in the Next 3-5 Years” have really piqued my interest. These are the things I hope we can get ahead of the game on to become healthcare digital marketing leaders.

Unpack More Answers

We thank Courtney for her great answers, which were extremely enlightening even if they didn’t come in a box.

For more expert insights on all of your most pressing questions, dive into the Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing below!

Creating Content Connections: 10 Lessons in Resonance from Content Marketing Pros

Lessons in Content Marketing

Spot on.

via GIPHY

Exactly.

via GIPHY

Truth.

via GIPHY

Accurate.

via GIPHY

Yaaaaaaaaaas!

via GIPHY

It’s hard to contain the excited, “uh huh” head nodding when you read, watch, or listen to a piece of content that really hits home … strikes the right chord … illuminates something deep inside your soul.

And for us marketers, these moments should remind us of an important digital marketing truth:

Creating content that resonates is key to building rapport, credibility, and trust with our audience, and, ultimately, driving marketing results.

When a piece of content connects with a customer or buyer, it makes them feel like you get it, that you understand their point of view or struggle—and that you may be worth paying attention to.

In my time at TopRank Marketing, I’ve had the pleasure of reading, watching, listening, and talking to some of our industry’s brightest minds as they share insights or tips that really resonated with me as a content writer and strategist—teaching me and reminding me of the importance of resonance in the content we create and how we share it with our audience.

Below I share some of those lessons that you can hopefully use to create more meaningful connections across channels with your content.

#1 – Comedy creates some of the most intimate connections.

Tim Washer of CiscoAs part of our Behind the Marketing Curtain series, I was lucky enough to speak with Tim Washer, a comedy and marketing genius as well as Cisco’s Creative Director of SP Marketing.

As he shared his story and his perspective on comedy in marketing, his lesson in resonance was quite simple: Comedy demonstrates empathy—and empathy creates connection.

Let’s face it, a lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection.

These days, there’s so little content out there that truly connects with people. … So much of marketing is telling people how great we are. But with comedy—especially in the form of video—we can show them that we’re not always going to tell you how great we are. And if you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make.

Marketers need to let their guard down if we want our customers and buyers to do the same—and you can do this “on brand.” Good comedy is certainly an art; you don’t just throw “something funny” at your audience. Use your audience and their pain points as your guide to thoughtfully create content that will connect and make them giggle.

Read my full interview with Tim.

Follow Tim on Twitter or LinkedIn.

If you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make. – @timwasher #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#2 – If you want to connect with your audience, be dedicated to helping them learn.

Mina SeetharamanA common goal for many brands want to build thought leadership by creating authoritative, credible content. But pushing your amazing product or service is not how you get there, as Mina Seetharaman, Executive Vice President and Global Managing Director of Content and Marketing Solutions for The Economist Group, told us in our interactive, supercharge your digital marketing infographic.

Thought leadership is about solving, not selling. People wake up thinking about their problems, not your product. In our research, Thought Leadership Disrupted, only 28% of marketers cited helping their audience become more knowledgeable as a primary objective. True thought leaders don’t push product, they understand their audience and share ideas to help them tackle issues.

People are constantly searching for answers to their burning questions and resources that will help them learn and find ways to solve their problems. When you make it a point to be the best answer for their inquiry, you have the opportunity to make a real impact.

Find more tips for supercharging your digital marketing.

Follow Mina on Twitter or LinkedIn.

True thought leaders don’t push product, they understand their audience and share ideas to help them tackle issues. – @minaseeth #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#3 – Less is often more.

2017 marked my first trip to one of the industry’s biggest events: Content Marketing World.

While there, I attended the incomparable Ann Handley’s session. There she revealed five “radiant” writing secrets inspired by the classic novel Charlotte’s Web.

The MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer’s session was designed to help content writers become more thoughtful in how they approach content and make an impact on their audience. Ann challenged us all to:

Think of how Charlotte was able to save a life with just [a few] words. How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference?

It’s certainly no secret that we’re living in a world of content abundance. But if we want to create content that really resonates and makes our audience feel something, we need to remember that less is often more.

Read more from Ann’s session.

Follow Ann on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Less is more in writing. How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference? – @annhandley @MarketingProfs #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#4 – When it comes to social content, don’t let your personal brand get in the way of your brand’s message.

Beverly Jackson Once again, our Behind the Marketing Curtain series gave me the honor of speaking with social, content, and customer experience wiz Beverly Jackson, now Vice President of Social Portfolio Strategy for MGM Resorts International.

When asked about a bad social media habit marketers needed to drop, her immediate response was: Too much self-promotion that gets in the way of a brand’s story:

The great thing about social media is that it allows brands to create one-on-one relationships with their customers and prospects—not the marketers. And the bottom line is: marketers should never get in the way of that relationship.

Your brand needs to own the relationship with the audience if you want to make an impact. Of course, you should do what you can do evangelize your brand, but don’t confuse your audience by using your brand and its content to propel your profile. It can backfire.

Read my full interview with Beverly.

Follow Beverly on Twitter or LinkedIn.

#SocialMedia allows brands to create one-on-one relationships with their customers and prospects. Marketers should never get in the way of that. – @bevjack #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#5 – Don’t settle for crappy content—your audience (and search engines) certainly won’t.

Josh NiteIn the fall of 2017, my talented colleague Joshua Nite made his speaking debut at a local bloggers’ event. During his presentation, he declared that it was time to flip the script on how we craft content.

With search engines getting smarter and our audience being more self-directed in research than ever, Joshua said making the switch from SEO-driven content to content-driven SEO is the key to resonating with both readers and robots.

There’s never been a better opportunity to write great content that people actually want to read and that will get seen in search results. So, go forth and be awesome. And please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content.

While seasoned marketers may say “duh” to this little reminder, I’d wager we all have room for improvement here. So here it is: We can’t settle. We need to innovate. We need to be thoughtful. And above all, we need to create content that our audience will actually enjoy reading.

Read more from Josh’s presentation.

Follow Josh on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Go forth and be awesome. But please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content. – @NiteWrites #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#6 – Your audience is already telling you how to connect with them.

Another pro I had the pleasure of interviewing for the Behind the Marketing Curtain series was author, customer experience and social media expert, and marketing veteran Dan Gingiss, now the Vice President, Strategic Group for Persado.

While much of our conversation focused on social customer care, Dan said something simple—and perhaps even obvious—but it’s a good lesson nonetheless:

Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints.

From social media comments to customer surveys to inquiries or sales calls, brand or company has access to direct feedback from their ideal customers or buyers. They’re giving you an opening to make a connection. Use it to create content that answers their burning questions, quells their top concerns, or empathizes in a way that sparks agreement and head nodding.

Read my full interview with Dan.

Follow Dan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business. – @dgingiss #LessonsInResonance #SociaMedia Click To Tweet

#7 – “Story” is everything—and influencers can be compelling characters.

Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAPMy most recent interview introduced me to Ursula Ringham, SAP’s Head of Global Influencer Marketing. As we chatted, a constant reference point was what she called her “love of story”—something that’s guided her throughout her career and something all marketers need to reinvest in. And influencers can help.

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with.

At a time when content is absolutely everywhere—and consumer trust is diminishing—marketers and brands need to be in the business of storytelling if you  want your content to resonate, inspire, and build trustful connections with our audience. You need to commit. You need to be thoughtful. And you need to consider who (e.g. internal or external thought leaders, current customers, prospects, employees) can help you tell that story.

Read my full interview with Ursula.

Follow Ursula on Twitter or LinkedIn.

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. – @ursularingham Click To Tweet

#8 – Invite your audience to be part of the content creation process.

Dave CharestWhen most modern marketers think of content co-creation, they likely think of partnering with industry thought leaders. Of course, this is a method we at TopRank Marketing absolutely believe in.

But one co-creation opportunity marketers may not take advantage of, is partnering with your audience, as Dave Charest, Director of Content Marketing for Constant Contact, shared in Content Marketing Institute and TopRank Marketing’s “The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing” eBook.

When it comes to content creation, far too often content is created in a meeting room with a bunch of marketers without any thought for the day-to-day reality of the person consuming it. BIG mistake.

Level up your approach by creating content in partnership with members of your target audience. By including your audience in the creation process you’ll better understand what you need to create and how you need to create it. You’ll no longer be working in a vacuum and your content will better resonate with those you’re trying to reach.

There may be no better way to ensure a direct connect with your audience than asking them to be apart of your content process. From social media polls and other UGC to spotlight interviews or guest posts, there’s a range of ways you can include your target audience in the content creation process.

Follow Dave on Twitter or LinkedIn.

By including your audience in the content creation process you’ll better understand what you need to create and how you need to create it. @DaveCharest #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#9 – Marketing integration is a must to deliver the best answer.

Lee OddenAs a digital marketing industry veteran, perhaps one of TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden’s most famous lines is: “Be the best answer for your audience wherever and whenever they’re searching.”

When you become the best answer, you become sticky for your readers—and integration is key to achieving best-answer status. This quote sums it up well:

With content marketing so popular among brands and content high in demand from customers, why are many B2B marketers so challenged to stand out and be effective? One reason is that the inherent pressure to produce can result in content that does not resonate. …

The best content isn’t really that great unless it can be found, consumed, and acted upon by buyers. That is why an effective content marketing program is customer-centric and incorporates data from SEO, insights about format and topics from social media, topical relevance of content from buyer persona research, and awareness of what effect media and influencers can have on buyers’ research and purchasing decisions.

Read more from Lee on the importance of being the best answer in B2B marketing.

Follow Lee on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The best content isn’t really that great unless it can be found, consumed, and acted upon by buyers. – @leeodden #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

#10 – Resonance is rooted in long-held content marketing best practices.

Joe PulizziNo marketer has been untouched by the teachings of Joe “The Godfather of Content Marketing” Pulizzi. As someone who was relatively green in digital marketing when I joined TopRank Marketing back in 2015, Joe and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)—along with my in-house team—were incredible resources as I learned the ropes.

One of the first pieces I read featuring Joe’s insights was from a session we covered at Social Media Marketing World back in 2014. His message was simple, but it’s something we all need a little reminding of from time to time:

If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers.

Content marketing evolved out of the need to meet our audience where and when our audience is searching—and at whatever point they may be in the buying cycle. And ensuring that we’re answering their questions and educating them—not just pushing our product or saying how great we are—is a basic yet still-relevant best practice we should never lose sight of if we want to connect with our audience.

If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers. – @JoePullizi #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Follow Joe on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Go Forth to Create and Resonate

Another incredible marketing mind, Jay Acunzo, recently shared this go-to, “classic content marketing combo” tip. And it pretty much sums everything up:

Prioritize resonance over reach, and the latter (everything else you seek do do as a marketer) gets far easier.

Audiences want to connect with brands and companies that “get it.” So, give your audience great content. Give them guidance. Give them insight. Give them answers. And give them resonance.

Ready to create content that resonates? Take a cue from TopRank Marketing Nick Nelson and Honest Abe. Read our post on how to build trustful connections through storytelling.

Disclosure: SAP and Content Marketing Institute are TopRank Marketing clients.

CMWorld Interview: Peter Krmpotic on Optimizing the Content Supply Chain

Content personalization is no longer a dream that marketers have for leveling up engagement with their audience, it’s become an essential combo for winning the content marketing game. Need proof? According to a study from Marketo, 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized. And Salesforce estimates that by 2020 51% of consumers will expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make suggestions, before contact.

But how can enterprise brands scale personalization efforts in a way that is efficient and effective?

Peter Krmpotic, Group Product Manager at Adobe, has focused heavily throughout his career on scaling personalization. He alo references the content supply chain (which is a framework for viewing content production, management and scalability) as a granular way to break down different structural elements and make them more manageable.

Applying personalization to an entire content marketing operation, especially at the enterprise level, might feel overwhelming. But applying it individually to different aspects of the process, piece by piece? This feels more feasible.

Peter will be joining other high-scoring content marketing experts at 2018’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, OH this September. In anticipation of this awesome event, we sat down with Peter for the first interview in our series leading up to the event and asked him more about his role at Adobe, the importance of content personalization and the impact of technology on personalization.  

What does your role as Group Product Manager at Adobe entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

At Adobe, I focus on content marketing, digital asset management, and personalization at scale.

Throughout my career, I’ve developed a passion for customers, their use cases and building scalable software for them.

Specifically, my interests include next-generation technologies, evolving organizational structures, and industry best practices.

You’re a big believer in the importance of personalization. Where do you see the biggest opportunities for content marketers to improve in this regard?

First and foremost, personalization is a group effort which cuts across all functions of the content supply chain: strategy, planning, creation, assembly, and delivery.

Establishing and aligning these functions with each other is the first block in a strong foundation.

What we are doing here is leveraging the centuries-old concept of “divide and conquer,” where we break personalization down into manageable stages.

Once everything is in place, the biggest opportunity lies in providing relevant data that is actionable at each of the content supply chain functions.

While we all talk a lot about data-informed and data-driven content marketing, I still see addressing this data gap as the biggest opportunity by far.

Which prevalent pitfalls are preventing content from connecting with its audience, from your view?

We have the people, the data, and the tools to create engaging content at scale, yet we often jumpstart the process of creating content without the required thoughtfulness on the initial critical steps.

It is essential to be clear which audiences we are targeting and subsequently to define clear goals for the message we are creating.

To this day, most brands need to improve at this stage, otherwise the best content marketer in the world cannot create an effective piece of engaging content.

Developing scalable ways to create and personalize content has been a key area of emphasis in your career. How can marketers think differently about scaling for efficiency and impact?

Similar to what I said earlier of “divide and conquer,” break the problem into manageable pieces and thus build a content supply chain.

Then, optimize each piece of the supply chain as opposed to trying to improve the whole thing all at once.

Where do you see the biggest influences of technologies like machine learning and automation in the world of content?

Currently, many mundane tasks, such as gathering and analyzing data or making sure content is optimized for each channel, take up a lot of time and effort in content marketing, preventing us from doing what matters most.

Things that take weeks and months will gradually be performed in the background.

By eliminating these mundane tasks, the human capacity for creativity and intuition will be magnified and reach new levels that were unimaginable before.

Which aspects of marketing SaaS products and services could and should be instilled for pros in other verticals?

Marketing software has received the kind of attention and focus that very few verticals have ever received, and as a result, we now benefit from a variety of software options that is unparalleled. This has led to a lot of AI being developed for marketing first that will be deployed in other verticals later.

A result of this fierce competition is that marketing software tends to be the more flexible and user friendly than others, adapting to a multitude of use cases, which has set new standards across all verticals.

Lastly, even though software in general does not integrate well with each other, given its variety and busy ecosystem, marketing software has trail-blazed integration best practices, which other verticals will benefit from.

Looking back, is there a particular moment or juncture in your career that you view as transformative? What takeaways could other marketers learn and apply?

Joining Adobe was truly transformative, because it allowed me to engage with customers across the entire breadth and depth of digital marketing, as well as with colleagues across different products and solutions who are truly world-class at what they do.

My recommended takeaway is to look beyond your current scope of work — which is not necessarily easy — and to figure out ways to connect with people who can help you understand adjacent functions and disciplines.

Seeing the entire picture will help you with solving your current challenges in ways that you could not have imagined before.

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

I’m looking forward to quite a few sessions, but here are 5 sessions I am particularly excited about:

  • Joe Pulizzi’s keynote on Tuesday. I am sure I am not the only one interested to hear his take on the industry and where it is headed.
  • Then Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy and her workshop on their branded content platform, Smarter With Gartner, which I am a big fan of.
  • Michael Brenner’s workshop on how to create a documented content marketing strategy, which I know a lot of brands struggle with.
  • And then two sessions that talk about leveraging data during content creation: Morgan Molnar and Brad Sanzenbacher on Wednesday, and Katie Pennell on Thursday.

Ready Player One

Big thanks to Peter for his enlightening insights. His final takeaway — “Seeing the entire picture will help you with solving your current challenges in ways that you could not have imagined before” — is at the heart of Content Marketing World, which will bring together a diverse set of voices and perspectives to broaden your view of this exciting yet challenging frontier.

Tap into some of the unique expertise offered by CMWorld speakers by checking out the Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing below:

Ready Player One: Top CMWorld Speakers Dish Go-To Classic Content Marketing Combos

Over the years, content marketing has made incredible strides. What used to be considered more 8-Bit tactics such as print and articles, have evolved into more immersive tactics like interactive and video which truly brings audiences into the “game”.

And while the days of 2D 8-bit side scroller content may be gone, that doesn’t mean we should abandon everything we’ve learned about content.

To help uncover some of the tried and true content marketing tactics that have stood the test of time, we’ve tapped into the minds of some of Content Marketing World’s top speakers who shared expert advice in our new eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing.

But first, here are some fun fun 8-bit videos featuring your favorite content marketing experts and a preview into the type of game-winning advice you can find in our new guide.

Content Marketing Strategy Experts

[embedded content]

Featuring: Robert Rose, Nichole Kelly, Tim Washer, Ellie Mirman, Peter Krmpotic and Tamsen Webster

Content Marketing Planning

[embedded content]

Featuring: Amanda Todorovich, Courtney Cox, Eli Schwartz, Jay Acunzo, Carla Johnson, Heather Pemberton Levy, Zari Venhaus and Andy Crestodina

Content Marketing Creation

[embedded content]

Featuring: Ann Handley, Melanie Deziel, Mitch Joel, Michelle Park Lazette, Pam Didner and Dave Charest

Content Marketing Amplification & Distribution

[embedded content]

Featuring: Ian Cleary, Lee Odden, Vishal Khanna, Juntae DeLane, Doug Kessler, Joe Pulizzi, Justin Levy and Heidi Cohen

Content Marketing Measurement

[embedded content]

Featuring: Christopher Penn, Mathew Sweezey, Michael Brenner, Michael Pratt, Ron Tite and Matt Heinz

34 Classic Content Marketing Tactics from Top CMWorld Speakers

Robert Rose
Chief Troublemaker, The Content Advisory
@Robert_Rose

Classic Content Tip: As part of the creation process, we have to ask how every piece of content we create delivers value to our audience first, and us second. It is an approach that will never fail. @Robert_Rose #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Nichole Kelly
Chief Consciousness Officer, The Conscious Marketing Institute
@nichole_kelly

Classic Content Tip: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Acting with integrity is a competitive [email protected]_kelly #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Tim Washer
PowerPoint Comedian/Emcee, Ridiculous Media
@timwasher

Classic Content Tip: Interview customers to get short, actionable advice that other organizations can learn from. This can be published via video, audio or a simple text Q+A. @timwasher #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ellie Mirman
CMO, Crayon
@ellieeille

Classic Content Tip: Time and time again, I turn to blogging: it’s a simple way to house a variety of content even as it evolves to serve different media, channels, and strategies. @ellieeille #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Peter Krmpotic
Group Product Manager, Adobe
@peterkrmpotic

Classic Content Tip: Aim for quick iterations, leading to faster insights, and creating a self-tuning system. @peterkrmpotic #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Tamsen Webster
Founder & CEO, Find the Red Thread
@tamadear

Classic Content Tip: Find the truth that makes a problem impossible to ignore. @tamadear #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Amanda Todorovich
Senior Director – Content & Creative Services, Cleveland Clinic
@amandatodo

Classic Content Tip: Great content answers questions and solves problems for your customers. When you do that – no matter what platform or format – it works and generates engagement every time. @amandatodo #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Courtney Cox
Manager, Digital Marketing – Children’s Health
@courtewakefield

Classic Content Tip: No matter how marketing changes, listening will always be the greatest asset of a content marketer. @courtewakefield #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Eli Schwartz
Director of Organic Product, SurveyMonkey
@5le

Classic Content Tip: Google’s non-English language ranking algorithm will always lag the advancements made in English search. @5le #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Jay Acunzo
Founder, Unthinkable Media
@jayacunzo

Classic Content Tip: Prioritize resonance over reach, and the latter (and everything else you seek as a marketer) gets far easier. To do so, look for a small number of people reacting in big ways to your work. @jayacunzo #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Carla Johnson
President, Type A Communications
@carlajohnson

Classic Content Tip: Put your customer first. Creating content that delivers value to them will always align your time, talent and resources with what delivers the best ROI. @carlajohnson #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Heather Pemberton Levy
Vice President, Content Marketing – Gartner
@heatherpemberton

Classic Content Tip: Always look in your rearview mirror at the traffic driving to your content and further down the road at the next content asset in the buyer’s journey. @heatherpemberton #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Zari Venhaus
Director Corporate Marketing Communications, Eaton
@zvenhaus

Classic Content Tip: Nothing beats knowing your audience. Today, there are so many more ways to target – the how is evolving, but nothing will ever replace understanding what drives your customers. @zvenhaus #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Andy Crestodina
Principal – Strategic Director, Orbit Media
@crestodina

Classic Content Tip: Learn something useful… Try it… Test it… Then teach it. @crestodina #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
@annhandley

Classic Content Tip: Leaders are readers, as Harry S. Truman said. I’d add that leaders are writers, too. If you want to improve the quality of both your ideas and your thinking… you need to regularly write. @annhandley #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Melanie Deziel
Branded Content Consultant, Mdeziel Media
@mdeziel

Classic Content Tip: When all else fails, ask what you can teach your audience. Educational content provides evergreen value and proves your expertise to customers and potential customers alike. @mdeziel #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Mitch Joel
President, Mirum
@mitchjoel

Classic Content Tip: Write stuff that matters. Write stuff that has depth. Nobody else is doing this (well) anymore. It’s because they suck at writing (trust me ;). @mitchjoel #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michelle Park Lazette
Writer, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
@mp_lazette

Classic Content Tip: My chicken test is a set of 3 questions I use to vet any content idea. Does the topic involve or interest our target audience? Is the idea timely? And does the idea have a so-what? @mp_lazette #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Pam Didner
Author, Global Content Marketing
@pamdidner

Classic Content Tip: SEO! Invest time and resources into keyword research, analytics and scoping out your content. If you want your content to be seen, align your content marketing with your SEO goals. @pamdidner #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Dave Charest
Director Content Marketing, Constant Contact
@davecharest

Classic Content Tip: Stay focused on the fundamentals of human nature. Even as technology changes, the fundamentals that make us people do not. Understand how those fundamentals apply to a new environment. @davecharest #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ian Cleary
Founder, RazorSocial
@IanCleary

Classic Content Tip: Relationship building. When you build up a network of influential friends it’s like having many pac mans in one game and they are all on your side. @IanCleary #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing
@leeodden

Classic Content Tip: Nothing gobbles up Pac-Dots like content co-created with highly credible experts. Influencers w/ active networks of relevant audiences can demystify marketing mazes and open up infinite opportunity! @leeodden #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Vishal Khanna
Director of Marketing & Communications, HealthPrize Technologies
@bediscontent

Classic Content Tip: Read employment listings for the types of prospects you target to find out how their success is measured, and then develop content that helps them succeed. @bediscontent #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Juntae DeLane
Sr. Digital Brand Manager, University of Southern California
@juntaedelane

Classic Content Tip: You need to be able to go where your audience is and speak to them in a language they can understand. Identify how and where they engage with content, & incorporate that info into your strategy. @juntaedelane… Click To Tweet

Doug Kessler
Co-Founder & Creative Director, Velocity Partners
@dougkessler

Classic Content Tip: It’s really hard to fail at simply interviewing really smart people who know about the topic. Do your homework, ask good questions and stand back. @dougkessler #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Joe Pulizzi
Founder, Content Marketing Institute
@joepulizzi

Classic Content Tip: Email, email, email. Getting and keeping opt-in email subscribers continues to be the key to content marketing success. @joepulizzi #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Justin Levy
Public Speaker
@justinlevy

Classic Content Tip: The one tried and true tactic that I will always go back to even as marketing evolves is the need for a blog. @justinlevy #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Heidi Cohen
Chief Content Officer, Actionable Marketing Guide
@HeidiCohen

Classic Content Tip: Like other forms of marketing, content marketing requires a documented strategy that ties your business goals to measurable results. @HeidiCohen #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Christopher Penn
Founder & Chief Innovator, Brain+Trust Insights
@cspenn

Classic Content Tip: Essential for any form of content is audience centricity. Do it in a way that provides value, educates, entertains and engages your audience. @cspenn #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Mathew Sweezey
Principal of Marketing Insights, Salesforce
@msweezey

Classic Content Tip: Ask! Ask what they want, don’t assume. Once you make it Ask if they liked it, and how to make it better. @msweezey #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michael Brenner
Founder, Marketing Insider Group
@brennermichael

Classic Content Tip: Create content using the keywords buyers use, the content they read and share and the offers that convert. @brennermichael #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Michael Pratt
CEO, Panamplify
@mikepratt

Classic Content Tip: Try and discover what solutions to problems your clients are searching for and write content that becomes that solution. @mikepratt #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Ron Tite
Founder & CEO, Church+State
@rontite

Classic Content Tip: Massive wins come from doing something that has never been used before. @rontite #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Matt Heinz
President, Heinz Marketing
@heinzmarketing

Classic Content Tip: Finish content with a question. Actively engage your audience. @heinzmarketing #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Want More Game-Winning Content Marketing Advice?

For more from our Content Marketing World speakers, check out the full guide below:

How to Select the Right Type of Video for Your B2B Marketing Goals

Types of B2B Video & When to Use Them

Mugatu is onto something …

Video Marketing is So Hot Meme

According Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report, 72% of B2B marketers use pre-produced video content, 17% use video live-streams, and 4% create documentaries or short films. Combined, this makes video one of the hottest types of content among B2B marketers.

And it’s not without results, either. Video marketing boasts some impressive stats, including:

  • Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. – Aberdeen Group
  • Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs. – Brightcove
  • Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%. – Eyeview Digital
  • Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined – Brightcove
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals name video as the type of content with the best ROI – HubSpot

It seems like a no-brainer, right? But like with most things in marketing, it’s knowing where to start and what to create that’s the hard part.

As with any marketing tactic, you want to choose the right content type and style to engage and nurture your audience. Plus, the content you create needs to align with and support your marketing goals—video is no different.

To help you figure out how to get started with video marketing and how to incorporate it into your integrated marketing mix, we’re breaking down the many types of videos for marketing and when to use them.

1. Teasers

The name implies it all—these videos are short, sweet, and meant to give audiences just a glimpse of what’s to come. More specifically, teasers are short videos that promote other content, services, products, or events and generate excitement or interest in them. At no longer than 10-30 seconds, this means you have to do your best with the time given to you through high-energy language, fast-paced content, and plenty of information; motion graphics are an especially great teaser format.

Teasers are great for generating excitement and are very short in length, making them a great fit for social media promotion, where you’ll be looking to generate buzz for an asset (i.e. eBooks, podcasts, infographics, blog posts, webinars). The biggest thing to remember about teasers is that they need to have a call to action that promotes another piece of content. The goal of a teaser is to spur action in an audience, whether that’s registering for a webinar, downloading an eBook, or listening to a podcast episode.

Length: 10 to 30 seconds

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media

Best Assets: eBooks, Podcasts, Infographics, Blog Posts

Example: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions*, Secret Sauce eBook

[embedded content]

2. Trailers & Previews

Trailers and previews are another type of short video content. However, where trailers differ from teasers is that a trailer actually features a sample of the content its promoting. For example, a teaser might use new visuals and graphics to get people excited, but a trailer will actually feature a preview of what’s to come. Just take a look at movie trailers—most of them show you scenes directly from the film.

If you’ve already created the content, you’ve already done most of the work for a trailer or preview. Just take content included in your videos, infographics, eBooks, and other assets and edit them into a trailer format that gets people interested. While trailers perform well on social, they’re also a great addition to landing pages as landing page videos have been found to increase conversions by 80% or more. Depending on where you’re planning to have this content live, decide if and when a CTA is appropriate.

Length: 30 seconds to 2 minutes

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Landing Pages

Best Assets: eBooks, Podcasts, Long-Form Video, Infographics

Example: Eloqua, Journey to Modern Marketing

[embedded content]

3. Explainers

We’ve already covered videos that are used to promote other pieces of content—teasers and trailers. But what about when you have a standalone topic you want to cover in a video? Maybe you want to create a tutorial on how to use your software or educate your audience on how to launch an employee wellness program. This type of marketing video is called an explainer. Explainers are original pieces of content that educate and inform the audience on a subject.

The best explainer videos focus on appealing to an audience’s curiosity by answering common questions or solving popular pain points. In providing useful and compelling information, the video helps add to your brand’s authority. As a video that can stand on its own two feet while offering helpful advice, explainer videos can make a great complement to a power page or blog post. They also perform well on social channels as it’s a quick and easy way for you audience to absorb a lot of information. And because all of the value is within the video itself, explainers typically don’t have a call to action. But again, depending on where you plan to have this content live, make a decision on if a CTA makes sense.

Length: 30 seconds to 3 minutes

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Power Pages, Blog Posts

Example: Slack*, “So Yeah, We Tried Slack”

[embedded content]

4. Video Essays & Companion Videos

Can you cover a topic in-depth in under three minutes? When you need to dive deeper than an explainer video allows, video essays are the perfect type of video to turn to. Video essays are original, long-form video content that explores a subject in-depth. A good video essay might be an 8 minute discussion that covers your thoughts on new changes in the market or new trends like cryptocurrency.

Because of their length, video essays are the perfect place to showcase your brand’s thought leadership and expertise through education and entertainment. In covering all sides of an issue or topic, you have more opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, improving trust and credibility among your audience. Jam-packed with valuable information, video essays are a great addition to power pages, blog posts, and social media channels.

But what if you’ve already covered the topic in-depth for a power page, blog post, or eBook? Should you still make a video essay? The answer is yes as 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. Given this information, your video essay could perform better than your existing content in terms of generating leads or strengthening engagement. In this situation, take your existing eBook, blog, or power page and turn it into a video essay, giving your audience an alternate channel to consume your content.

Length: 1 minute to 10 minutes

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Power Pages, Blog Posts

Example: HubSpot, What Is the Difference Between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)?

[embedded content]

Your Directorial Debut

Video is rapidly becoming the preferred way to consume content for many audiences with 82% of all web traffic expected to be video by 2021. If you’re not making videos as a part of your content marketing strategy, you could be missing out on an enormous opportunity to improve your organic traffic, landing page conversions, social engagements, and more.

And to make sure your videos are helping you reach your marketing goals, it’s important that you select the right types of marketing videos and content they will support. Using the guide above, you’ll be able to pair your video and content together in a way that fuels results.

Video can be time consuming to strategize, produce, and distribute. To help you become a more efficient and effective video marketer, check out our additional tips, examples, and guides:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Slack are TopRank Marketing clients.

How to Inform Your Content Strategy Using SEO Insights

SEO Data Insights for Content Strategy

Marketers know that quality content and smart SEO are essential for driving toward their marketing goals, but that doesn’t mean success is easy to come by. With 53% of B2B marketers reporting their content marketing is only moderately successful, and another 23% reporting it as not at all or minimally successful, it appears that the majority of B2B marketers are struggling to see noteworthy results.

So, how can marketers improve their content marketing and achieve success?

The answer is in the data. More specifically, it’s in the insights you can glean from your data, especially SEO-related data.

Every marketer has access to this data. And it’s time to take that data, analyze it, and use it to inform your content strategy to create customized, relevant, and insightful content that is more valuable to your target audience. But knowing where to start on your data-informed and insight-driven content marketing journey isn’t always clear.  

To start creating more insight-driven content, search data can offer a gold mine of insights. Below we offer six SEO insights you can use to drive your strategy and results.

#1 – Nail down your audience’s search intent.

It’s no secret that keyword data can tell you a lot about what your audience is on the hunt for. But it’s the intent behind those search terms that really matters. Intent is what will enable you to create more valuable, “best answer” content for your audience.

For example, when looking in Google Search Console, if you see that one of your posts is ranking really well for a specific query, but has a low time on page, that could be an indicator that your content doesn’t match up with your audience’s intent. Because of this, your organic audience is probably bouncing from the page. If you can optimize that post to align with their search intent, you’ll likely increase the odds that they’ll stick around.

You can also use search intent to identify new content opportunities or gaps. When researching potential keywords in Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush, do your own recon and search the term in an incognito browser window. What content is ranking at the top for each query? What questions is it answering? What is so compelling about that page? (i.e. structure, video or other visual assets, etc.) Is there anything missing? Once you’ve analyzed what has made that page successful and helpful, you can apply those same tactics to your own content.

SEM Rush for SEO Research

#2 – Take advantage of older, high-performing content.

Both SEO and content are in it for the long haul. Your content needs to be long-living to maximize its SEO value and drive significant organic results. Plus, with frequent algorithm changes to search engines, what might have been a poor performer in the past could be your top piece of content in the future. Because of this, your existing content actually holds a lot of potential.

Using Google Analytics or Search Console, you can review the current keyword rankings, impressions, and clicks for your existing content. To draw insight from this data, you should ask yourself:

  • Are there any posts that have multiple page one rankings?
  • What is each page ranking for?
  • Which posts have the highest organic CTR or number of impressions?

These answers will help you surface your top performers that have the most SEO value. Once identified, you can link to those pages in future content to share that value and further boost your content’s organic performance.

#3 – Low volume doesn’t mean low value.

A common practice for marketers is to look to search volume data to determine target keywords and new content opportunities. Because search volume indicates the number of people searching for any given topic or question, it’s tempting for marketers to go after those searches with a high volume. Who wouldn’t want to capture all 500 monthly searches, right?

While it’s tempting to go after high-volume search terms, it’s not always the best choice. And with the rise of voice search, search queries are getting longer and longer.

When reviewing potential keyword targets, pay special attention to the long-tail variations of your short-tail topical areas to find the real questions people are asking (tools like answerthepublic.com are perfect for revealing this). Of the long-tail variations you identify, which ones have the least amount of competition? Is the estimated Cost Per Click high or low? This practice can help you find a niche, relevant keyword with a low competitive score that could be a quick, easy page one ranking that you didn’t have before.

Still want to go after those high-volume, competitive terms? We’ll walk you through how to rank for competitive keywords.

#4 – Review inbound links to find top performers.

Linking is an important component to any SEO strategy as it helps indicate to search engines that you are an authoritative and credible source of information. The better sites you have linking to your content, the better chance they have to rank higher in the SERPs. But what insights can it provide?

In looking the number of sources linking to your content, you can see which topics others find the most helpful, giving you a framework you should try to replicate in future content. In addition, you can create supporting blog posts that further promote or amplify your most linked to content. To see your inbound link data and check the credibility of the sites they originate from, try using Moz’s Open Site Explorer. If you want to quickly find your most linked to pages, use the Top Pages view of the tool as shown below.

Moz Open Site Explorer

#5 – Track the behavior of your search traffic.

Once someone finds you through search, what do they do next? Do they bounce? Do they complete a form-fill? In mapping the next steps your audience takes for each keyword group, you can better understand where they are in the funnel and customize additional content that helps move them from stage to stage.

To do this, use the Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics and filter your audience segment to organic traffic to see how your organic audience is navigating your site. Using this method, you can see which pages are bringing the most people in from search engines and where they go next. If you’re seeing incomplete calls to action or audience drop-off, this is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play.

Through CRO and A/B testing tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely, you can make small changes to your existing content (e.g. CTA placement, content length, etc.) and see what resulted in more conversions — micro or macro, depending on what stage of the funnel your content is aimed at.

As for what this means for your content strategy, you should look for what specific changes moved the needle or caused a dip in performance. Armed with the results, you can take what worked well and apply it to both your past and future content.

#6 – Uncover new content opportunities with in-site search.

If someone isn’t finding what they need on your site, they probably tried searching for it. This could mean you have a ripe content opportunity resting right under your nose. Make sure to regularly pull data from your own site’s internal search bar — you just may find a new keyword or topic you haven’t covered yet. If you’re uncovering a lot of potential opportunities with this method, prioritize them using the number of times someone used that search term.

Not sure where to find that information? Log into Google Analytics and click on the Site Search report listed under Behavior. Here you can view data on the search terms used, how often they’re used, and a host of other data points. Using data from our own Site Search report (see below), it looks like a blog template might be a good idea for a future post or downloadable asset.

Google Analytics

Stay Data-Informed & Insight-Driven

Believe it or not, data shouldn’t drive your content strategy. Data is open to interpretation, which is why marketers need to be data-informed, not data-driven. Digging into why something failed or took off is more important than tossing out a failed tactic or doubling down on a successful one. Without this analysis and insight, you could be making rash decisions that don’t produce the results you’re looking for.

Instead, content marketers need to use insights to inform their strategy, not create it. For more insight on how to use data to your advantage, check out these data-informed content marketing tips.