Every day our team discusses (in Slack) a new piece of content that can us move faster and deliver more value. Lately, we‘ve been focusing on the topic of content marketing.
Growthhackers.com and Inbound.org have been amazing resources for uncovering the top content marketing resources of the day.
The individual posts we find from these channels nearly always net a major takeaway for our business, but we wanted to go a step further.
A new tactic learned here and there is great, but we need to form our core content marketing strategy.
To help with this, we analyzed the top content marketing resources from the past year to see what major insights stand out.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
1. Content curation can produce awesome new content.
Common Assumption: Content curation is all about sharing other people’s content.
While lots of resources on content curation talk about this, they also dive into other areas of content curation like using curation for research and relationship building.
“We often find our inspiration in content curation—the regularly scheduled reading, discovering, and sharing of the best stories online. How do we come across the “best of” content? It requires a lot of reading. We spend time in a lot of places, soaking in all the content we can get (building the lightning rod, so to speak).”
How To Curate Content Like A Pro: 8 Lessons (Examples Included)
By Heidi Cohen – Content Marketing Institute
“Content curation assembles, selects, categorizes, comments on, and presents the most relevant, highest quality information to meet your audience’s needs on a specific subject. Curated content is neither an aggregation of existing content nor references or links to supporting information. While content aggregation looks LIKE content curation, it lacks unique commentary.”
“We’re not talking about crowdsourcing product development (that’s an interesting topic for another day). What we’re talking about is using the connectivity of the Internet and the work of several others in order to create remarkable content that grows your business.”
Next Level Content: 35+ Research Tools & Strategies to Push Your Ideas Further
By Shannon Byrne – CloudPeeps (Guest Post on Buffer)
“Adding some stats, facts or other science-based research to your topic is a great way to flesh out an idea and to make your content more persuasive.”
Key Takeaway: Pulling together high-quality content can help produce new resources that are greater than the some of its parts.
Whether you are producing a “round up” post or not, curate all the best content you can on a topic before writing on it, and include their best insights in some way.
2. Long-form content is good. High value content is better.
Common Assumption: Producing longer content will automatically get better results.
Some of the most respected writers and marketers write nothing but long-form posts and they get an endless number of shares. But, that doesn’t mean we should start adding fluff to boost our word count – its about delivering unique value.
297 Flabby Words and Phrases That Rob Your Writing of All Its Power
By Shane Arthur – BoostBlogTraffic
“Certain words and phrases are so commonplace – and so seemingly benign – that they glide unnoticed under your editing radar…The reader may not even notice them. But they weaken your writing and dilute your ideas. And soon, the delicate thread of attention connecting you and your reader snaps. So if you’re serious about your writing, you must learn to spot these words and phrases before they rob your writing of its power.”
“…writing good content is just not enough to help you stand out today. With an ever increasing competition and billions of active blogs (150 billion by 2013th), entering the field of content marketing would be awfully hard, even if you write good content, right?…Good content won’t cut it anymore…you must create content that’s 10x better than your nearest competitor.”
“The beautiful part about content marketing is that it can bring you thousands of social shares, new email subscribers, and tons of comments, but only if your blog posts are masterpieces and you do content marketing right.”
“In my experience, one of the best ways to write great content is to make time to write great content.”
Key Takeaway: We want the length of a post to be a byproduct of its depth and quality. This might mean you may end up writing 5,000 words and cutting it down to 2,200. But, it will be worth it.
3. Great visuals are a must, and not difficult to produce.
Common Assumption: Visuals are a great plus, but they’re too difficult to create for every post.
While we can hire a design pro to create stunning graphics for us, its no longer a necessity. There are plenty of DIY tools available to us that are incredibly easy to use.
How To Make The Best Blog Graphics (For Non-Designers)
By Puranjay Singh – CoSchedule
“As bloggers and content marketers, one of your biggest challenges is making sure that your blog posts not only read well, but also look awesome…Posts with better graphics are easier to read and get more shares.”
6 Powerful Reasons Why you Should include Images in your Marketing
By Jeff Bullas – JeffBullas.com
“Articles with images drive 94% more traffic…Pages with pictures see 50% more shares.”
36 Visual Content Creation Tools the Pros Can’t Live Without
Expert Roundup – Socially Sorted
“Our 19 experts don’t just “talk” about visual content online. They create visual content on a daily basis…Many of these Pros are not designers, but they know how to use tools effectively.”
“People engage better with visual content because it’s easier to understand, can tell a story and evoke emotions more easily than written posts.”
An In-Depth Guide on How to Create Awesome Visual Content That Gets Noticed
By Karol K – JeffBullas.com
“…the human brain is 60,000 times faster at consuming visual content than plain ol’ text…Visual content is also the hit on social media. It’s reported that photos account for 75 percent of all content posted to Facebook, and the engagement rate on them is a staggering 87 percent (other posts receive no more than four percent).”
“Unfortunately, as visual content grows in popularity and inexpensive tools make graphics and images easier to create, many marketers churn out mediocre visual content that gets ignored by the very people it was supposed to influence. Even worse, some marketers post confusing or poor-quality images that don’t look like they’re from the same brand or meet audience perceptions of the brand. To keep you from making common mistakes that diminish the effectiveness of your visual content, we asked seven visual content experts to share what mistakes you should avoid.”
Key Takeaway: Including visual elements in your content is critical. With tools like Canva and Shareasimage, it’s easy to produce high quality visuals for every piece of content you share.
4. When it comes to email marketing – Keep It Simple.
Common Assumption: Growing and maintaining an email list is a daunting task.
We are all know the importance of growing an email list, but where do we start? How much sending is too much, too little?
There are a lot of tactics and tricks that can muddy the email marketing waters. To make it more manageable, our best bet is to simplify and focus on the basics.
“When it comes right down to it, email marketing is all about getting the basics right….Every email marketer also needs to invest time in big picture strategies like positioning, voice, value and conversion optimization.”
“Email is a good opportunity to humanize your brand. The inbox is an intimate place, mostly used for personal conversation. Your presence there is a privilege, so do your best to write like a human. It’s okay to talk about challenges, obstacles and even failures. Readers can relate since they are likely facing similar situations with their own lives and businesses.”
“Transactional emails are the mechanism by which you keep in contact with your users, just because they’re automated, doesn’t mean they should be robotic.”
ReallyGoodEmails.com is a great resource for inspiration next time you set out to craft your next campaign. It is a curated log of some of the best emails being sent daily.
Ginny Soskey – HubSpotBy
“If done right, [newsletters can] develop a really engaged subscriber base and potentially nurture them into qualified leads and customers. At the very “least,” you could engage your company’s evangelists — and they could help bring in business. That’s not something you want to miss out on.”
Key Takeaway: There are a ton of email marketing “tactics” out there, but our efforts are better served pursuing the basics. Focusing on developing an authentic voice and delivering value will naturally lead to better email marketing efforts.
5. Begin content promotion sooner, and never stop.
Common Assumption: Promotion consists of scheduling out a couple social shares for your post once it goes live, and email a few people.
Scheduling social shares and emailing people when your new post goes live are both important steps in promoting your new content.
But, they should be just the tip of the iceberg.
Successful content promotion plans are in motion well before we hit “publish” and continue long after it goes live.
“Many content marketers view “promotion” as a phase that begins once content goes live. The truth is, promotion should begin much earlier than that, running parallel to production, and most of the promotion work should be completed before launch.”
17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content
By Aaron Agius – KISSmetrics
“Before publishing your new piece of content, reach out to an influencer or influencers in your industry. Tell them the topic of your content and ask if they would be willing to provide a point of view…Once the article is published, email the influencer and tell them the content is published and ask them to share it on social media and possibly include it in their email newsletter.
This accomplishes two things: 1) you gain exposure to a new audience, and 2) your content becomes more reputable because you’re associating yourself with an influencer in your industry.”
The Day After: 11 Things to Do After You Publish a Post
By Neil Patel – Quicksprout
“After you’ve published your article, add sharing it on your main social networks to your to-do list…On Twitter, you should share it more than once the first day, but you should also share it a few times throughout the next few weeks.”
“…we put together a cheat sheet of distribution channels — what we call “amplification networks” — that have worked for us so far as a resource, rather than continuing to repeat ourselves.”
“One of your best content promotion sources is the people reading your content. Make it easy for readers to share your story by adding social media buttons in strategic places.”
Key Takeaway: We need a plan to promote our content well in advance. It goes beyond simple social shares on the day of the launch. Our plan should include outreach to influencers, diversify your distribution channels, and spread the word on your socials in the following weeks and months.
6. Think of all content produced as “assets” & get the most from them
Common Assumption: We need to drive new traffic by producing new content every week.
While it is important to produce original content consistently, repurposing older content to create new assets ensures we get the most out of our best content.
“When your archives are bursting with content, it could very well be time for a look back to see what has worked and what could be made even better.”
“…a quick way to get a better understanding of your content is to look at your analytics to see which content pieces are still driving traffic.”
“Once you’ve blogged a lot about a specific topic, consider repackaging those blog posts into a fresh new guide. For example, you may have written in the past about how to upload images to Pinterest, how to use hashtags on Pinterest for better searchability, and how to upload cover pics to Pinterest that use text over images for improved click rates. Take those blog posts and turn them into “The Complete Guide to Pinterest Perfection,” which you can then use in your email marketing and lead gen efforts.”
“Some users prefer visual infographics over text statistics. Some choose podcasts over ebooks. Reformatting your content for different mediums means appealing to more audiences and extending your reach.”
“We put so much work into our content that it’s a shame to see it relegated to the archives of our blog. This is where repurposing comes in. By repurposing our content for a new site or medium, we give it new life and expose it to more new readers.”
Key Takeaway: Sometimes updating and improving older content assets can drive the best results for a given week. Repurpose them into different formats depending on our goals will make sure we get the most from our efforts.
7. Strive to be the “signal”, and not the “noise”
Common Assumption: What works for others, will work for us.
It is obviously smart to borrow strategies from successful influencers.
But, we can’t just regurgitate what is already out there. We need to use what we glean from others to develop new resources.
“Over 90% of B2B companies do content marketing – but 90% of that content marketing is redundant crap, e.g. “5 Ways to Do Blah Blah the Same Way as Everyone Else.” Publishing blog posts like this is basically cargo-cult marketing; it’s trying to make a phone call with a banana phone. Content marketing doesn’t work if nobody cares.”
“They say, “if I publish great stuff, people will naturally link to me”. If only it were that easy…If you’re serious about generating high quality links, you need to be very systematic with how you create and promote your content…take what’s out there and blow it out of the water.”
“It’s not our job to tell our audience where we live. It’s to grow communities where they live.”
Key Takeaway: If you are creating content on a topic that has already been covered, make it 10x better than anything else out there. Stand out by producing completely new, excellent resources.
Next time you discover a truly actionable or resourceful piece of content your company can learn from or leverage, save it. But, don’t just let it rot away in a bookmarks folder.
When you’ve compiled enough content for a specific topic, circle back and analyze the group.
You might find new insights that can transform your entire strategy.
Do you have any other lessons that we should consider? Share them in the comments below.