Cover image for 75 Tactics: The Complete List of Content Marketing Strategies [2019]

75 Tactics: The Complete List of Content Marketing Strategies [2019]

bible content marketing strategy

By mining the best content marketing strategies and throwing in some of my personal favorites, I’ve compiled a complete list of content marketing tactics you can use at any stage of your journey.

If you’re just starting out with content marketing or if your busted old strategy could use a makeover, you’ll find all the right tips for your stage and your business right here.

What Is a Content Marketing Strategy?

People like me use the terms ‘content marketing strategy’ and ‘content marketing tactic’ to mean the same thing. But those people, myself included, are dead wrong.

A content marketing strategy is a 10-year content plan, or a 1-month editorial content calendar.

Meanwhile, a content marketing tactic or ‘hack’ refers to a single how of your content marketing plan.

For example, re-writing the title of your blog to bump up your click-through rate is a ‘how’: it’s how you increase clicks.

Therefore it’s a ‘tactic,’ a ‘hack,’ or for those who can afford a $10-dollar word, ‘stratagem.’

If it still doesn’t make sense, this diagram will clear it up:

Earlier, I said I would continue to use the term incorrectly, as I have in the title of this collection — but why? One simple reason: you.

In content marketing, personal relationships, and pretty much all of life, being right is not nearly as important as being helpful.

I don’t care if you use the term incorrectly, I don’t plan to ever correct you.

The bigger point is that I know what you meant, and I produced this collection of tactics to deliver what you expected, nothing less.

Without further ado, let’s get to what you came here for.

The Tactics

I classify each tactic under one of seven categories.

  • Foundation
    These are mostly technical steps that support all of your content marketing efforts.

    They are broad-reaching, infrastructure-level strategies that help max out the value of each piece of content.

  • Organization
    This category helps you stay on schedule, keeps your team on the same page, and defines brand-wide variables such as tone, goals, vocabulary, and more.

  • Ideation
    Tactics in this category are about coming up with ideas: what you produce, why produce it, and where to find your next idea.

  • Creation
    As you can imagine, tactics in this category relate to the actual production of content.

    These tips help you get the words on the page, the images on the screen, and the mouse cursor closer to that publish button.

  • Promotion
    Promotion tactics help your content reach the right audience.

  • Conversion
    Use these tactics to improve how often readers convert to subscribers, subscribers to buyers, and buyers into lifelong fans.

  • Relation
    And lastly, the category that tested my dedication to the letters i-o-n, relation(ship) tactics help you use content to build better relationships with your customers.

And to help you decide if a tip is right for you and your business, I’ve listed several attributes with each tactic, they are:

AttributePurpose
CategoryAs mentioned above, this notes which stage of your content marketing the tactic belongs to.
PrerequisitesPrereqs? Break out the Axe body spray and a fresh case of dude wipes because it’s starting to smell like a college frat house here.

To make the most of every strategy, I highly recommend you apply the prerequisites first — sometimes one strategy relies directly on others.
RequirementsYou must have these tools, read these resources, or possess these skills to take advantage of this tactic.
Nice-To-HavesThese are tools or skills that I believe will help you apply the tactic, but they are not mandatory.

Examples include software such as Adobe Illustrator for graphics or skills such as copywriting.
Technical DifficultySome content marketing strategies require you to pop the hood on your website or to learn (or hire someone who knows) an advanced technical skill.

I rate each strategy based on the level of techno-wizardry required to apply it.

These difficulty levels range from Hip Grandma1 (easiest), to Techno Weeny2 (medium difficulty), to Image Enhancer3 (impossible difficulty).

Solopreneurs and multi-hat-wearing startup employees can implement any of the easy tactics themselves.

Medium and impossible-levels require a web developer or a significant learning curve for those who want to place yet another hat on top of their head. 🎓

I recommend you read and apply the tactics in the order they appear; when done in sequence, they provide compounding benefits.

But to hell with the rules; feel free to jump to the type you want using the filters above.


22 Foundational Content Marketing Strategies

These are tips that power your content marketing strategy for years to come. Appropriately named, they provide a firm base from which your content will truly thrive.

I’ve placed the tips in the order I believe is best to use them, but feel free to skip around.

Again, each one will link to the prerequisite tips (if any) you must complete before you can apply the current one.


1. Build a Website

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites• N/A
RequirementsWordPress, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, or similar
Nice-to-Haves• HTML/CSS/JavaScript know-how
• Graphic design skills
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

This one’s a no-brainer, right? Unfortunately, no.

Social media platforms appear to provide free and easy access to a boatload of users, business tools, and content distribution channels.

So you might think, “I’ll just create a Facebook page and write a post,” or “I’ll just publish the video to my YouTube channel.” Here’s why you should give that a second thought.

The popularity of these networks rises and falls with time; you may have an audience today, but not tomorrow. And tomorrow, you might have to pay to reach whatever’s left of your audience4.

These platforms also prevent you from cultivating the most important piece of personal information from readers: their email address.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and the rest lose money when you pull their users into your world, so they will do whatever it takes to keep them on the network.

Lastly, on 3rd party platforms is where you have the least control and minimal visibility into how your prospects behave: there are few, if any free analytics available.

Social may be a critical part of promotion, but everyone needs a home base. That homebase is a website of your own that remains your one-true source of information; its value cannot be overstated.

Take Action

No website? If you’re starting from complete scratch, I recommend you find your domain name on Domainr, follow this beginner’s WordPress tutorial, and purchase a hosting package from SiteGround.

I have migrated WordPress sites to SiteGround before and they blow away the competition with service and customer care — they’re awesome. Don’t waste your time looking anywhere else.


2. Use a Content Management System

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
RequirementsWordPress, Weebly, Joomla or similar
Nice-to-Haves• Be familiar with any CMS tool, they’re pretty similar
• A hosting provider that can install and support your chosen CMS tool
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

We’ve all heard of WordPress, but it’s not the only game in town. These tools are called content management systems, or CMSs, and they provide huge benefits.

For entrepreneurs and marketers without technical backgrounds, a CMS streamlines the creation and publication of content.

These tools allow you to work alongside authors, developers, and designers in seamless ways.

While authors draft their posts, designers create graphics, and developers build and update the underlying website.

To make things even easier, Open-Source CMS tools such as WordPress allow anyone to build new features through plugins. And the best plugins are so user-friendly that they help you perform highly technical tasks without a developer (like switching your site to HTTPS, see 3. Put the ‘S’ in HTTPS).

If you don’t have technical skills or an IT staff, a CMS is practically mandatory for any content marketer.

Take Action

If you have an existing site built without a CMS, migrating to one may require the help of an Image Enhancer.

So if your team is small and you’re comfortable with the way your site works right now, I say stick to your guns.

However, if your site was built with a site-builder, it’s relatively young, or has limited content, and you want to make the switch to a CMS, your host probably has a WordPress (or Joomla) installation option.

Contact your host’s customer service to discuss switching your site to a CMS.

However, make sure you can build your site offline before you go live. You should try your best to recreate all the pages you had on your original site using your chosen CMS tool before you officially replace your old site.


A site-builder may not provide CMS features, features like letting the author of a blog post and the coder of that blog post be a different person.

For example, on a site-building tool, you craft each page one at a time: /my-first-blog-post, /my-second-blog-post, etc., and to design each page you drag-and-drop elements one by one as you fill in the text and images.

On a CMS, you use templates; these are frequently provided by a developer for free or included as part of a theme.

You write blog posts in a separate tool, a text editing software provided by the CMS, and as soon as you hit ‘save’ the CMS generates a page for your blog post using the premade template.

This feature lets developers and designers work on the look and behavior of the site while leaving the actual content (written words, images) in the hands of the marketers, authors, and copywriters.

But this difference is just one example that separates site-builders from CMS tools, there are many others worth considering before you make a choice5.


3. Put the ‘S’ in HTTPS

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Purchase or get free access to an SSL certificate
• Redirect all of your inbound traffic from HTTP to HTTPS
Nice-to-HavesLetsEncrypt security provided by your web host
• Automatic HTTP → HTTPS redirects provided by your host or CMS
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

The ‘S’ in HTTPS stands for secure, and that single letter is making all the difference6.

Privacy concerns are growing across the globe; HTTPS makes sure that user data arrives encrypted at its final destination — this prevents snoops from stealing private information en route from browsers to the sites they communicate with.

Google, among other search engines (and browsers even) are beginning to favor HTTPS in more ways than one.

Secure sites receive little padlock icons in Google Chrome, insecure sites do not.

Google Search also considers HTTPS when ranking your pages against your competitors because searchers prefer security and privacy.

If you collect personal data of any kind (emails included), then you should upgrade to HTTPS… ASAP.

Take Action

Most modern site-building tools (SquareSpace for example) and CMS offer HTTPS right out of the box, no extra work required.

But if that’s not your situation, your host may provide free encryption from LetsEncrypt.

Speak to a developer, your hosts customer service, or link read a tutorial about activating that feature and directing all your pages to HTTPS.


4. Connect to Webmaster Tools

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Access to Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and others…
Nice-to-Haves• Be familiar with how to create and modify DNS records
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

If you have a website that you have not claimed under webmaster tools, you’re driving a car without a speedometer.

You know you’re going somewhere, but you have no clue how fast or if you’re about to be pulled over (yes, the speed limit analogy actually makes sense).

Webmaster tools reveal what search engines see when they index or ‘crawl’ your website, and often more importantly, what they don’t see.

If your site has problem pages, 404s, broken links, no sitemap, or any number of issues that make it less appealing to the search engine, the webmaster tool will list these issues and help you fix them.

Google’s webmaster tool, Search Console, helped me discover that my client was accidentally preventing search engines from crawling a critical file (their CSS file, actually).

As a result, when search engines crawled my client’s pages, they saw horribly disfigured versions of them — because duh, the CSS was missing!

To the crawler, the site looked hideous and illegible on mobile devices, two adjectives that can plummet the ranking of any page on Google.

But beyond the obvious usability issues, webmaster tools also reveal the keywords, impressions, and clicks that brought users to your site… that data, for obvious reasons, is priceless.

Take Action

Each webmaster tool provides specific steps to verify the ownership of your site, sometimes this can be done without a developer’s help. See each tool’s documentation for a guide on how to claim your domain name.

You can complete these steps in under an hour and spend the rest of that time getting to know these powerful free tools.


Crawling is what search engines do to map out and classify the Internet.

And crawlers are the computer programs that visit our web pages, store them in the search engine’s database, and follow the links on each page to repeat the process ad nauseam.

These crawlers, or search bots, or spiders, or whatever you want to call them work 24/7/365 to keep search results accurate and appropriately ranked.


5. Set Up Web Analytics

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
RequirementsGoogle Analytics, Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, or similar
Nice-to-Haves• Know how to add custom JavaScript to your site
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

I know, this is another critical step that seems obvious, but this list is not complete if it fato include the most fundamental aspect of content ROI: the data.

Without data captured from visitors, conversions, and transactions, content and digital marketers cannot calculate their return on investment.

Web analytics tools help us discover where visitors come from, on which devices, from which countries, to consume which content, to perform which actions, to buy which products.

Take Action

All that sounds great, but navigating these tools can be overwhelming for beginners.

If your company uses an analytics platform, request access to it and ask a fellow employee for tips on how to use it.

If you haven’t connected an analytics tool to your site or CMS, I recommend Google Analytics.

GA is the status quo because it’s free and you can learn everything you need to know about it by following the guided lessons from Google Analytics Academy.


6. Assign Cash Values to Goals

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites5. Set Up Web Analytics
Requirements• An analytics platform that supports eCommerce, goals, and assigning monetary values to those goals
Nice-to-Haves• Google Analytics, which supports cash goals out of the box
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

If you run an eCommerce site, the transaction values reported back to your analytics tool are direct representations of revenue.

And each sale is assigned to the pages on your site that helped drive the purchase (see the next tactic, 7. Track Page Value).

However, if you do not sell products through your site but feature conversion points such as newsletter sign-ups, scheduled sales calls, gated content downloads, and others, you should assign cash values to those conversions (even if they do not represent real-world revenue).

Why? By providing a monetary value for each site goal, say $100, you can use the next tactic, Track Page Value, to discover which of your content pieces deliver the most conversions, which pieces truly impact your bottom line.

Take Action

On Google Analytics, you can set the value of a goal at the following screen:

It’s hard to decide the value for goals, because they do not always translate directly to cash. If you’re using analytics to track revenue, this tactic can interfere with the accuracy of your data, so be careful when choosing the amount.

But if you have a non-transactional website, set each goal value to an arbitrary amount, I typically stick to $100 each.


7. Track Page Value

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites6. Assign Cash Values to Goals
Requirements• An analytics platform that credits individual site pages with assisting in the completion of purchases or conversions
Nice-to-Haves• Google Analytics, which supports Page Value tracking out of the box
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

This tactic may be specific to Google Analytics, but if you use something else, check your analytics platform for availability — I can’t verify as I’ve only worked with Google Analytics.

Page Value is the number of sales or cash conversions a page contributed to, divided by the number of unique views the page saw over the same period of time.

In layman’s terms, if a visitor stops on your About Us page on their way to purchase one of your products, the About Us page receives some credit for the sale.

Page’s that frequently assist with sales or lead to cash goals are valuable, and Page Value helps you rank and discover those top-performing pages on your site.

It also points out pages that are weak and may need help or more visibility on your website.

Take Action

Ask Google Analytics to includes Page Value on your reports. Page Value is available in the All Pages report, among others.

If you use another analytics platform, enable Page Value tracking through it or get help from a developer.


8. Use Urchin Tracking Modules

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites5. Set Up Web Analytics
Requirements• A basic understanding of how UTMs work
Nice-to-Haves• A UTM tracking spreadsheet, or tool such as UTM.io
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Urchin tracking modules (UTMs) are those heinous stragglers found at the end of an otherwise clean URL.

These URL parameters provide marketers a secret super tool: an infinitely customizable attribution scheme. But what the heck is that?

Imagine you decided to post some native content on a 3rd party platform like Medium.com, and your plan is to publish ten articles. Obviously, you want to direct readers back to your homebase, your website.

However, if you simply paste a plain link into each of your posts, https://heck-yes.com, you won’t have any clue if the first, second, or tenth article brought any visitors to your site.

Your analytics platform will simply say: source: medium.com, super helpful… 😒.

UTMs to the rescue:

https://heck-yes.com?utm_campaign=Medium-Ten-Articles&utm_content=heck-yessing-is-it-right-for-you

By customizing these UTM parameters, you can identify incoming traffic from Medium.com on a per-article (and even per-link) basis.

And even if you only write one Medium post, you still benefit from UTMs.

Other Medium bloggers and commenters may link to your site without your knowledge; if not for UTM parameters, you might mistake visitors who follow those links as people who read your post.

UTMs also help you discover which social media posts bring the most valuable users to your site. Find this out by creating a unique set of UTM parameters for each network and each post on that network.

Bottom line: if a link to your site exists somewhere else on the Internet and you have control over that link, slap a UTM on there.

Take Action

Read this guide on UTM tracking. Then look through your last 6-months of content, and make a list of every piece published somewhere other than your main site. Consider:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Medium
  • And subdomains… e.g. blog.yoursite.com ← sessions coming from your subdomains are considered external visits

For every piece of content that has a link pointing back to your main site, change it to a UTM link.

But be careful, it’s easy to go UTM-crazy; before you know it, everyone on your team uses them differently and your analytics dashboard is the 9th circle of UTM hell.

I recommend you employ a tool such as UTM.io or at least a spreadsheet to help define how your team will use each UTM parameter, where UTM links are published, and what kind of traffic to expect from each one.


9. Perform a Content Audit

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• N/A
Nice-to-Haves• A professional site-crawler such as Moz Site Crawl, SEMRush Site Audit, ScreamingFrog, or similar…
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

A content audit, like an IRS audit, can be a painful thing.

If you are just starting your content marketing journey, you can skip this tactic (phew!), but it will show up again at 30. Track Every Piece of Content.

But for those of us with a huge content catalog, we should dig our heels in because this could take some time.

The purpose of a content audit is to find and categorize every piece of published content (both on and off-site).

As you go along, you want to collect relevant information about each piece — here’s a short list to get started:

Once you have this information (and yes, this can take some time to acquire), you can begin to study your content for gaps, high-performing pieces & categories, low-performers, outdated topics, and so much more.

You may also find content that fails to meet the standards you’ve set for yourself, such as brand values and brand voice (see 21. Define Your Brand Values and 22. Refine Your Brand Voice).

Take Action

If you don’t have a subscription to Moz or any search engine marketing tool, I recommend Screaming Frog; the free version is good enough to start with and you can upgrade if you have more than 500 pages.

In the free version, analytics and search console data is not available — I recommend the upgrade to pull in that information during each crawl. The rest of the data is subjective (like topic category, KPI, on brand, etc.).

If you have a lot of pages, this can take some time. But when you’re done, you can 10. Kill It With Fire 🔥 or 38. Repurpose Content based on your findings, as well as double-down on content categories that have served you well.

And after you complete this step, 30. Track Every Piece of Content is that much easier to achieve.


Site-crawlers mimic the behavior of search engine crawlers. The key difference is you pay the site-crawler to find and study every page on your site, but a search engine will do it for free.

So why pay? The site-crawler reports its findings directly to you at a level of detail you cannot get from Google or Bing.

Crawlers discover backlinks, dead links, bad formatting, and a bunch of valuable metadata that search engines obscure. Plus, site-crawlers collect it all into a nifty spreadsheet.


10. Kill It With Fire 🔥

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites9. Perform a Content Audit
Requirements• Know how to delete or remove a webpage from your website
Nice-to-Haves• Know how to deindex a webpage using webmaster tools (see 4. Connect to Webmaster Tools)
• Know how to create a permanent redirect (301)
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

After 9. Perform a Content Audit, you know digging through old content is like sorting through old clothing: you find plenty of pieces you can’t wait to wear again. But you always uncover one piece you plan to send back in time and set on fire.

These pieces are either way off-brand, off-topic, terribly written, duplicates of other pieces, or are poor performers; this tactic sets those content pieces ablaze.

But you may be thinking, “no one’s reading this stuff, so do I have to get rid of it?” Direct quote:

“oh, but you mustest!”
Jane Austen

Search engines treat every page on your website as a signal and part of a greater whole.

Engines refuse to judge your website book simply by its website cover; instead, they dig for skeletons in your content-closet.

Pages with broken links, random topics, bad formatting, poor or slim content, and other bad signals add up to a mixed bag that impact your overall search rankings and site-wide credibility.

Take Action

To wipe that busted content off the map for good, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your webmaster tools and request each to remove the specific URL from their records (this is called deindexing)

    If you have a better page to send those visitors, create a permanent redirect (301) from the old URL to something relevant, e.g. /why-blackface-is-not-racist should definitely redirect to /weve-changed-please-dont-hate-us.

    If the content has images, e.g. /static/images/white-guy-in-blackface-smiling-thumbs-up.png, perform this step for each image URL as well.
  2. Remove the URL from your sitemap if you have one, which you totally should (see 13. Generate a Sitemap)
  3. Finally, delete the page and all related images from your server, FTP, or CMS.

Speaking of deleting things that are bad for you…


11. Excommunicate Bad Relations

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites4. Connect to Webmaster Tools
Requirements• Know how to create and supply a disavow list to your webmaster tools
Nice-to-Haves• Access to a backlink audit service such as SEMRush Backlink Audit Tool, Moz Link Explorer, or others…
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

Beyond the content found on your pages, search engines also rank your site based on who links to it.

And in the early days of search, site owners discovered a way to game this reputation-based system.

By paying a lot of sites to link to theirs7, their pages suddenly looked reputable. Presto-whamo, these sites clawed their way into the top-10 results for many searches.

They basically exchanged money for popularity — something I wish I could have done in high school, and in college, and at this very moment.

Search engines got smart and discovered that these popularity peddlers were just meaningless websites that did nothing more than provide backlinks for their customers.

Today, engines punish this behavior8 via the time-honored method of ‘kicking you to page 100.’

To avoid this penalty, begin by never hiring a link farm, and continue by routinely never hiring a link farm — but also, evaluate every website which links to you.

Take Action

Use a backlink audit tool to find all the sites that link to yours, and study their reputation.

If you find sites with poor credibility that link to your site, add them to your disavow list. A disavow lists is a collection of no-confidence domains you can provide to webmaster tools, see below:

When judging the quality and number of links to your site, search engines will exclude the domains on your disavow list.


12. Have a Robots.txt

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Know how to create and modify your robots.txt file
• Familiarize yourself with the robots.txt file format
Nice-to-HavesYoastSEO Plugin for WordPress to help edit your robots.txt file
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

The robots.txt file is a list of ‘Do Not Enter’ signs that keep search engine crawlers from discovering parts of your site. Here’s what it looks like:

Remember the client that blocked Google from accessing their CSS file?

That happened because of a single line in their robots.txt.

The missing file left the website looking unusable to search engines, and search engines treat usability (or UX) as a ranking factor now.

This missing file negatively affected the placement for every page on my client’s domain, a domain containing over 10,000 pages. Mega-ouch.

That’s what can happen when you bungle up your robots.txt file, but if you don’t have one at all, the crawlers will index every link they can find on your domain (this too, can be the bads).

Pages like admin tools and other private elements should remain off of search engines because:

  1. No one is looking for them
  2. If hackers find them, they may exploit these pages
  3. Most importantly, these pages waste your crawl budget

And your crawl budget is the maximum time each search engine spends browsing your site per day, week, month, etc.

If your site is massively popular, assume your crawl budget is just as massive because many sites point to yours on a frequent basis.

But if you are unknown, the search engines will dedicate whatever resources they can spare for your small web presence (read: not many).

By giving the engines more work to do, they waste those limited resources crawling random pages and taking longer to index the parts of your site that actually matter to visitors.

Some CMS tools let you edit your robots.txt file directly. In other cases, use a simple text editor and upload your robots.txt file through FTP to your root directory.

And to discover if Google has indexed any pages or documents you don’t want showing up on the Internet, perform this search: site:{your-site-here}. For example, site:www.upfrontmarketer.com.

Take Action

In Search Console, look for crawling errors discovered by Google (these are usually related to the robots.txt file).

If you find issues, correct them by allowing or dis-allowing crawlers from indexing those resources.

Then perform this search on Google: site:{yoursite.com}, and look for any pages that seem out of place, the kind you don’t want ending up on Google.

Either add these to your robots.txt or 10. Kill It With Fire 🔥.


13. Generate a Sitemap

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites4. Connect to Webmaster Tools
Requirements• Understand how to create a sitemap
• Know how to upload the sitemap to Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and other webmaster tools…
Nice-to-Haves• Access to a sitemap-generating tool or CMS sitemap plugin
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

If your robots.txt file is a series of ‘Do Not Enter’ signs, then your sitemap is a GPS for search engines: turn here, go left, in 300ft you will arrive at your destination, my kick-ass blog post.

A sitemap is less a map and more a list, a list of every page you want users to discover. The sitemap includes each page’s URL and little bits of data such as when the page was last modified, and how often you update the page.

Sitemaps help search engines focus your tiny crawl budget on the pages you want indexed rather than asking them to find each page by following links (secret: they do that anyway, but let’s move on…).

Bottom-line: a sitemap makes the search engine’s job easier and helps prioritize its attention on the content that matters most.

Webmaster tools will also tell you if they find pages on your site that are missing from your sitemap, and vice-versa, which gives you a chance to correct the issue.

Some site-builders and CMS tools automatically create a sitemap for you (SquareSpace does this — yay!), but WordPress and others require a plugin or a hand-made file.

To check if you already have a sitemap, punch in this URL: {your-site.com}/sitemap.xml. For example, my sitemap lives here: https://www.upfrontmarketer.com/sitemap.xml.

After you create one, remember to upload a copy of your sitemap to each webmaster tool.

Take Action

Begin by discovering whether your site already has a sitemap. Remember, that URL will probably look like… {yoursite}.com/sitemap.xml.

If you have one, great! If not, look into making one through your CMS or site-builder.

Then upload your sitemap to Search Console and other webmaster tools.


14. Supply Metadata

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Understand the title tag, meta description tag, and canonical tag
Nice-to-Haves• A site-builder or CMS that does this for you
Yoast Plugin for WordPress to specify these data for each page
SEOQuake to help verify these data exist on each page
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

“When will these techy tips END!?” I hear you scream to no one in particular.

Don’t worry, just a few more and we’ll get to the even more funner-er part: organization! Try to curb your enthusiasm, ‘tis neither gentlemanly nor ladylike of you, good sir and/or madam.

So what’s metadata? In the case of this content marketing tactic, it’s primarily three elements: <title>…, <meta name="description">…, and <link rel="canonical"…>.

All three of these elements belong between the opening and closing <head> tags on each page of your site, but especially on your content pages.

The title tag is the text browsers use as the name of the tab or window, and search engines use this text to present your page on search results.

More: How to write a great title by InsideView.

The description tag is a 150-350 character summary of each page, and while it does not appear anywhere in the browser window, search engines grab a piece of it (often the most relevant to the searcher) and feature it under your title.

More: How to write a kick-butt description by Yoast.

Lastly, the page’s canonical tag informs search engines of where to find the original source of this information — yes, this is often just the URL of the current page, but not always.

For example, some sites repost content with permission from other sites.

In that situation, search engines spy that two pages look overly similar and they decide to punish both for duplicating content (it does not know whom is at fault, so both pages lose points).

However, if the original source of content sets the canonical URL to itself, and the duplicate points its canonical URL to the original, no one is penalized:

This is critical because when engines find duplicate content, it is treated as Internet theft, and its perpetrators are punished. If you borrow or repost content from other pages, make sure to point your canonical tag to that page (even on your own domain).

Thankfully, most CMS tools and site-builders generate these metadata for you. They tend to use the ‘page name,’ or similar field, as the title. They use the first 150 or so text characters of each page as the description, and the chosen URL as the canonical URL.

But I suggest you overwrite these data to give yourself full control of how search engines display your pages.

I only mentioned three elements that you absolutely have to consider: title, description, and canonical. But there’s others to look at if you want to maximize your content’s share-ability.

Take Action

Use SEOQuake to diagnose each page, make sure each has a valuable title, description, and accurate canonical URL.


After installing SEOQuake in your browser…

1. Navigate to any page on your site

2. Press the SEOQuake button (or pull up the right-click menu)

You can also activate SEOQuake by pressing the SEOQuake button in the navigation bar

3. Open the Diagnosis panel

4. Find the title, description, and canonical right at the top!

Make sure to check out the Tips provided by SEOQuake, they’re super valuable


15. Supply Social Metadata

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites14. Supply Metadata
Requirements• Understand how OpenGraph works
• Understand how Twitter Cards work
• Know how to create and add these metadata to each page
Nice-to-Haves• A CMS plugin or site-builder that helps you generate these data
• A tool such as Pablo that creates network-specific social share images
• If you can’t generate these metadata automatically, make them by hand with the OpenGraph Generator and Twitter Card Generator
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the rest have their own sort of web crawlers.

These social crawlers’ job is to create a post-able item from a web page.

When you insert a link into your post, these crawlers go to work to build the most presentable version of that page.

This process includes looking at previously discussed metadata such as title and description, as well as the content found on the page.

However, HTML has no specific tag that helps webpages share themselves on social media; but these social platforms could not possibly wait a second longer so they invented their own.

Facebook and LinkedIn rely on the OpenGraph standard, whereas Twitter uses cards, and I’m sure there’s others, but including cards and OpenGraph metadata is more than enough.

By providing these tags, you control how your pages appear on social media when shared by others. These controls can include a modified description, title, image, share text, and more.

This is valuable because each social media network prefers specific content: Twitter wants a max of 280 characters, and each network has its own preference for image sizes9.

Supplying the metadata allows you to tailor every page to each social media network.

Take Action

Most CMS tools (or an available free plugin) can help you set this metadata for each page and post.

If not, you can create OpenGraph tags and create Twitter Cards manually, then paste the code between the <head>…</head> tags of each page.

Start by checking whether you already supply these tags with the OpenGraph validator and Twitter Card validator.


16. Watch Your Head(ings)

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Understand heading tags
• Be able to edit the code (HTML) of your site’s templates
Nice-to-HavesSEOQuake to verify your heading tags and document type
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

In olden times, we defined the topic and subtopics of each document on the Internet using headings, otherwise known as h-tags.

Six possible heading tags exist. On my site, they look like this:

And one of the earliest Internet rules was the h1 rule10, defined as thus:

“Each page must have but one, and only one, h1 tag”
Socrates

Without an h1 tag (or worse, with multiple), search engines struggled to figure out the purpose of each page.

So we followed the h1 rule and the h1 tag usually featured the same text as the <title> tag (see 14. Supply Metadata) of the page, and there was peace in all the seven kingdoms.

Then HTML5 busted onto the scene like Kool-Aid man and wrecked everything by introducing new tags such as nav, section, and article.

These tags represent independent content elements and are permitted to have their own h1 tag…

Take Action

Here’s what you should do now: make sure your site is HTML5-compliant.

And change your content template to follow a structure similar to this one:

<!-- required for HTML5-compliance (must be the first line) -->
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head></head>
  <body>
    <!-- put site-wide navigation elements here -->
    <nav>
      <!-- title of your site -->
      <h1>Kitten Palace - A Place for Kitten 💖-ers</h1>
    </nav>
    <!-- everything specific to this page goes in <main>…</main> -->
    <main>
      <!-- content goes inside of <article>…</article> -->
      <article>
        <!-- content title -->
        <h1>11 Reasons To Love Kittens Even More Than You Already Do</h1>
        <h2>Reason 1: Look at that face!</h2></article>
      <!-- user-comments can go here, for example -->
    </main>
    <!-- your site-wide footer -->
    <footer></footer>
  </body>
</html>


That first <h1> tag is the name of your site, the second is the title or headline of the content.

The main and article tags help crawlers pick out the unique elements found on each page.

Remember, crawlers look at everything: your navigation bar, your footer, your comments, your sidebars, your share widgets, and the rest.

Everything on the page becomes part of the ‘content’ unless you specify otherwise using HTML5’s main and article elements.

Lastly, within article, nest your h-tags so that they follow a natural document order:

  • H1
    • H2
      • H3
      • H3
      • H3
        • H4
    • H2
    • H2

If you create your content within a CMS text editor, do not include multiple ‘Headline 1s.’

And make sure that subsections within your content have smaller headlines (higher numbers) than the section in which they are found.


After installing SEOQuake in your browser…

1. Navigate to any page on your site

2. Press the SEOQuake button (or access the SEOQuake right-click menu)

3. Open the Diagnosis panel

4. For H1, scroll to Headings

SEOQuake identifies the presence (or absence) of one or more headings.

5. For HTML5, scroll to Doctype

A checkbox here means you’re good to go! ✔👍


17. Build AMP Versions of Your Content ⚡

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Understand the open AMP Standard
Nice-to-HavesSquarespace with AMP, AMP for WP, or a developer willing to AMP your site
Technical DifficultyImage Enhancer

Never heard of AMP? You’ve probably benefited from it.

Lauded as an ‘open-standard’ but primarily owned and maintained by Google engineers, AMP is the little lightning bolt ⚡ next to top-of-page news articles on Google’s mobile search results:

Once you have that lightning bolt, consider yourself Zeus Greek God of Content (and thunder or whatever that other thing Zeus was God of).

But AMP is obviously more than a tiny icon. AMP is actually a subset of standard HTML5 elements designed to reduce the load times and page-clutter of typical articles — this helps mobile devices pull them up way faster, but that’s basically it.

While Google’s policy states that, “AMP itself isn’t a ranking factor…,11” frequent mobile searchers understand that the lightning symbol means quicker load times, so they prefer the articles that they know load faster than the rest.

And while ranking algorithms may not favor the AMP articles, as long as users favor them, the rankings of those pages go up.

But there’s a couple things to note about AMP. First, AMP limits the elements and scripts you may use on your site (this could impact your other marketing efforts).

However, you don’t have to convert every page to an AMP page, the AMP format allows you to build AMP articles that coexist with their desktop and mobile-friendly-versions.

The AMP versions are treated as duplicate content that points to the full article with the canonical tag (see 14. Supply Metadata).

Lastly, AMP content tends to be text and image heavy, leading me to believe that interactive elements such as comment sections are difficult to implement. So if your focus is purely on delivering content to mobile visitors, AMP might be for you.

Remember: AMP pages can link to non-AMP pages, so once they read your article in AMP format, readers are free to jump into the full version of your site.

Capturing emails and such has to be done in an AMP-specific way, so re-implementing all of this for AMP pages may require a developer and likely a lot of Image Enhancing. Your amperage may vary.

If your site-builder or CMS has a way to generate AMP pages for you, that turns this task into a no-brainer.

Take Action

If this sounds interesting to you, start by checking out the AMP Standard.

Unless you have Squarespace or a CMS plugin that can AMP-lify your content, building AMP versions of your content is a big lift.


18. Go Mobile First

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Understand the difference between responsive and mobile-first design
• HTML, CSS, and JavaScript knowledge or access to a web developer
Nice-to-Haves• A mobile-first CMS or site-building tool (may not exist)
• Install and understand Google Chrome’s Lighthouse Audit tool
Technical DifficultyImage Enhancer

We’ve covered AMP-ified articles (see 17. Build AMP Versions of Your Content ⚡), but those pages do not represent your full site, they are watered-down traffic-driving content pieces for mobile readers, and most sites do not need to build them.

However, I believe providing a mobile-first site is in everyone’s interest. This might sound like another, “well duh, Stanley,” tactic, but there’s a little more to it than that.

Your CMS theme might offer a mobile-friendly or responsive design, and many businesses see that feature and stop to check off their mobile-box.

But those designs just boil down to fancy-shmancy CSS that collapses your content and gives users a hamburger menu.

If that’s your site, Yoda has some bad news for you: “mobile-first your site, that does not make.”

Mobile-first sites assume that nearly all visitors are on a mobile device with a weak data connection.

Despite rapid gains in smartphone radio technology (such as 4G LTE and the new 5G standard), the developing world is only getting their first hands on mobile devices.

And these early cell providers often run at 3G speeds and put hard caps on user data.

Mobile-first design requires your site to be fast and easy to use on all screens, whereas mobile-friendly requires a desktop site be stuffed into a tiny screen.

As a consequence, mobile-friendly sites often force 3G smartphones to download the same large images, overblown CSS files, uncompressed JavaScripts, and other resources required by the desktop version — meanwhile, the average web page approaches 4 Mb in size12, as large as an MP3.

Mobile-first sites provide great experiences for mobile devices that scale up to desktops, and mobile-friendly provides an experience for desktops that squishes-down to mobile screens.

By going mobile-first, you improve load times for everyone and build a design that offers finger-friendly content which naturally scales up to the keyboard and mouse.

And if your site is mobile-first, you deliver a superior experience to mobile visitors, the same mobile visitors that will make up 80% of all web traffic in 201913.

Unfortunately, CMS tools and site-builders are sort of one-size-fits-all, and generally help their users build ‘mobile-friendly’ rather than mobile-first.

Mobile-first requires advanced front-end development techniques like progressive image downloading, deferred scripts, asynchronous CSS, and a whole lotta mess.

But before your head explodes reading this tactic, run a few of your pages through Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

This tool scores your pages for mobile-firsty-ness and desktop-goody-ness (both terms pulled directly from Merriam-Webster, of course).

If your mobile score is anywhere above 60 points, you’re in the doing-just-fine column. For comparison, the New York Times website scores about a 20.

But the most important scores to compare yourself to are those of your competition.

Remember, ranking factors like usability and speed are only critical when compared to pages that compete with yours: are yours faster, mobile-firstier, better-written, and in possession of more backlinks?

Then you win.

You don’t have to be better than the entire Internet to come out on top, you only have to beat the search results below.

Take Action

Check some pages on your site with Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool, look primarily at the mobile score.

If it’s anywhere above 60, you’re in great shape.

If not, you can take steps to approach mobile-first behavior with plugins such as Autoptimize for WordPress.

However, WordPress and other popular CMS tools often feature so much bloat that trimming them down to mobile-first standards is nearly impossible.

Unless you are a web developer or have access to one, building a mobile-first site is probably out of reach.


19. Speed Up All The Things

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Access to Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool
Nice-to-HavesTinyPNG or similar for image compression
EZGif for converting ONG and JPG images to next-gen formats
• Optimization plugins for WordPress such as Autoptimize
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

We touched on speed in 18. Go Mobile First, and even if you can’t implement that tactic you can still speed up your site in a number of ways.

Remember back when Amazon realized that every 100ms of load time cost them 1% in sales14? Ouch.

Your site may not transact millions of purchases each day, but your user still expects the kind of speedy content delivery that the majority of big web offers them (Facebook, Reddit, Google, Amazon, Netflix, etc.).

Those pages load right away, but yours may not.

As a result, if your page takes too long to load from search results, users may give them the back-button-treatment.

Returning to search results signals to Google that for whatever reason, the page did not satisfy the user’s request… boot to the head for your rankings.

But where do you start speeding things up? Run the PageSpeed Insights Tool on your homepage.

This tool identifies your site’s weak points, and these often include issues that you can solve without a developer: uncompressed images, overly-large images, uncompressed JavaScript and CSS files, slow server response times, and others.

ProblemFix
Uncompressed ImagesRun images through TinyPNG, then upload the compressed versions to replace the originals.
Images Too LargeInspect any image while visiting your site, and copy down the width & height.

Resize the image to 2x the size you copied down (this basically makes the image retina-quality).

Run the resized image through TinyPNG and upload it to replace the original.

Do this for all overly-large images.
Server Response Too SlowIf you host your site on a shared server, which is most of the Internet, you may experience really slow TTFB.

Typically, the only way to solve this is by upgrading to a better hosting package (more server resources, not more sites/domains/frills).

You may also investigate your .htaccess file if you have one, and get a web developer to look it over and see if they can make any performance tweaks to it.
Poor or No-Caching PolicyA cache policy lets your visitor’s browser temporarily store things like images, JavaScript, and HTML.

This way, the next time they visit your site the browser will pull those elements from the user’s device instead of downloading them again.

Site-building tools and CMSs offer plugins such as the W3 Total Cache to help you create an efficient caching policy.

Typically, let the user…

• Store hard-files like PDFs and DOCX for a year
• Store JavaScript, CSS, and Images for 30-days
• And store HTML for 7-days

But this may vary depending on how often you update your site, the images, and the code running on it.

If you do update frequently, it’s best to change file names: this will bust the cache and force the user to download new data.

Issues you may need to consult a developer for: above-the-fold content, bloated JavaScript, unnecessary CSS, uncompressed HTML, and others.

One last thing: each page on your site may require different assets depending on the content.

Run the same optimization process on each URL to find page-specific issues (especially the content that gets a lot of traffic from search).

Take Action

Check some pages on your site with Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.

If your overall scores are low (less than ~60 on mobile, less than ~80 on desktop) and if Google reports one or more of the problems specified above, get to fixing them!


20. Supply Structured Data

AttributePurpose
CategoryFoundation
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Understand the purpose of Structured Data
• Access to Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
Nice-to-Haves• Be able to use a JSON+LD Generator
• A site-builder or plugin that helps you generate this data, e.g. WP SEO Structured Data Schema, others…
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

In 2012 Google began to show rich snippets in search results: those little blurbs they pulled from the content.

Later, they added support for showing reviews, events, video thumbnails, and more right in the search results — but where did all that come from? Structured data.

Structured data is hidden from visitors, but helpful to search engines trying to classify your page as being a specific thing: a blog post, a recipe, a piece of music, and potentially much more.

If you visit that link, you’ll see what I mean: structured data helps you present your page as a variety of real-world objects.

Here’s an example of some Schema defining a recipe found on the Taste Network:

And when you search for that recipe, Google presents it as a recipe rather than just another webpage. Now that page is a rich search result instead of being #basic (is that still a thing?).

Bonus: Google Assistant can guide users step-by-step through those cooking instructions because the Taste Network provided them with structured data — look ma, no fancy-pants artificial intelligence.

But what does this mean for you? Google will favor sites featuring correctly-formatted and valuable structured data over similar ones that don’t.

To boost your rankings and the quality of your search results through Google, add structured data to your pages.

Take Action

With WordPress this is as easy as getting a plugin and providing that data for each page and post.

If you use a site-builder that does not provide this feature, you can manually insert structured data between the <head> tags of each page, here’s how:

Create the structured data for each page using this simple structured data generator, then paste it wherever your site generator allows custom <head>…</head> elements. You will have to update this whenever your page changes.

After you’ve performed either of those steps, verify the data page-by-page using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

12 Content Marketing Organization Strategies

With your foundation set, you are ready to plan.

Organization tactics help set the tone and purpose of your content going forward. Among these tactics you will find tips on how to write from a consistent voice, how to track your content, how to give purpose to each piece, and more.

As with the Foundation strategies, I’ve placed the tips in the order I believe is best to apply them, but feel free to jump around.

Again, each one will link to the required tips (if any) you must complete before you can apply the current one.


21. Define Your Brand Values

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• N/A
Nice-to-Haves• Complete A Lightweight Branding Exercise or Create Your Core Values
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

What are brand values? Simply put: brand values help explain why your brand exists, why it does what it does, and what it cares about.

For example, Starbucks cares about providing a high-quality, ethically-sourced, and consistent coffee experience to the world.

Wal-mart might say they care about enabling families to get everything they need at a price they can afford.

And you should set your core brand values before you begin writing content; your content ultimately reflects your values.

For example, a blog post titled, How I Boosted Traffic by 614% In Just 3 Days!, sounds like the author cares about hitting their numbers, bating their customers, and bragging their little booties off.

Another title might read, This Quick Tweak Can Unlock New Audiences. This second title gets at the same point but focuses on me, the reader, and pays far less attention to the author’s achievement.

The choice of one title over another is a reflection of brand values. Whether defined or implied, your values will spread into the content produced by your organization.

If you care about answering every customer concern, that will show. If you care about ‘crushing the competition,’ that too will show.

This is why your values should be top-of-mind for all employees, employees need to know why they’re working for you and why they show up every day.

Knowing this helps guide their writing, what kind of content they produce, and whom they produce it for.

If you haven’t defined your brand, follow any one of the many branding exercises out there to help get you started. This process may require input from others because you’re defining what your entire company cares about.

Once you’ve finished, place these values somewhere that reinforces the message to everyone on your team (including contractors).

Take Action

Read A Lightweight Branding Exercise or Create Your Core Values.

Alternatively, Google-around for ‘define my core brand values.’


22. Refine Your Brand Voice

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• N/A
Nice-to-Haves• Complete one of How to Define Your Unique Brand Voice, 5 Steps to Find Your Brand Voice, or 5 Simple Ways to Define & Maintain Your Brand Voice
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

If your brand values define what you care about, your brand’s voice defines how you express those cares (and everything else, really).

Brand voice is the verbiage you choose, the jokes you crack (if any), how seriously you take yourself, your product, and your customers, the length of your sentences, how technical those sentences may be, and much more.

When used and understood by everyone in your company, your brand voice acts as a hive-mind mouthpiece that ensures a single written, oral, and visual style across all channels.

A distinct brand voice sets you apart from competitors and leaves a lasting impression on customers — something human for them to connect to.

But that doesn’t mean you cater your voice to your customers, because that is pandering. Instead, your company and its employees should work together to create a brand voice, after all, they’re the ones that ultimately talk-the-talk.

If you leave your brand voice undefined, you may be left with content writers, social media managers, and everyone in-between freewheeling their communications with the outside world… with mixed results.

By defining your brand’s voice in an easy-to-understand way and sharing it with everyone responsible for communication, you enable them to write from a single voice without passing every piece of copy to a sleepless editor.

And by writing from a single voice, you provide stability that lets readers and customers know what to expect when they come to you for content — be it friendly and funny, or informative and matter-of-fact, consistency is key15.

You might revisit your brand voice document once in a while to decide how your company approaches new industry jargon, but in general, you should only have to complete this exercise once before you move on.

Take Action


23. Set Content Marketing KPIs

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites7. Track Page Value
• and 8. Use Urchin Tracking Modules
Requirements• Understand KPIs
Nice-to-Haves• Read and complete How to set actionable KPI targets and How to Match Key Metrics With Your Content Goals
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Some of us work at organizations where simply producing content, literally any content, is the goal: it’s a checkbox the higher-ups need to see checked.

And as marketers, it’s our responsibility to bust out the No. 2 pencils and cross those boxes off.

The only problem with that approach is all of it.

If our entire content marketing strategy is about forcibly willing pieces into existence, then our work has no purpose other than to exist; that’s not strategizing, that’s business-world FOMO16.

But by evaluating your short and long-term business goals, you can find measurable objectives which content can help you reach.

For example, let’s say your short-term goal is to boost book sales this quarter and you want content to fill the gaps where advertising can’t reach.

You’re aiming for quick sales spikes, so you need direct-to-consumer content that’s short-lived but gets to the heart of the matter: you need to send more people to your book’s landing page.

Armed with that purpose, you publish snippets from your book to social media, offering people to read more by checking out the book.

You might create an infographic that boils down your book’s key points into a stunning image, meanwhile linking back to the landing page.

By concentrating on a goal, you narrow the types of content you need to create and the purpose of each piece.

And by doing so, you have a metric worth tracking in your analytics platform: did your content send people to your landing page? Did those people buy the book?

If the answer is yes, your content worked toward its KPI. If not, then you learned what not to do. But without a KPI for each piece of content, you have no bar by which to measure success.

Without a goal, your content merely exists to ease your fears of missing out or to check some box sent down from corporate — of all the reasons to create content, those two are pretty piss-poor.

Take Action


24. Define Buyer Personas

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Read The Definition of a Buyer Persona [in Under 100 Words]
Nice-to-Haves• Read and complete, The Beginner’s Guide to Defining Buyer Personas
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

This is marketing 101. If you haven’t completed this step, you’re probably just starting out or have too small of a customer pool to justify building out personas. However, if you have many customers, I can’t overstate how important a step this is.

The more products you sell and the more varied your services, the more likely you are to have a diverse group of customers with disparate backgrounds and unique, but categorizable needs.

Personas help classify your customers into groups your brand can target with precision marketing — ads, emails, and content specific to them.

The division between personas begins at the problems they face: a senior executive faces a different set of problems than a stay-at-home parent, but it’s possible your brand serves them both.

Great content is helpful at its core, but one piece of content is unlikely to help all your personas at once.

Take time with your team to interview your customers and prospects; begin to define the high-level personas based on their needs, divide them further if necessary.

After it’s done, your brand can cater content and other marketing efforts specifically to each persona.

Going forward, every piece of content you produce should help a persona, not some anonymous reader.

Take Action

Start with The Beginner’s Guide to Defining Buyer Personas. If your organization is sufficiently large, your marketing team may already have defined these personas — ask around.


25. Design a Harmonious Information Architecture

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites24. Define Buyer Personas
Requirements• Understand the purpose of Information Architecture
Nice-to-Haves• Read and complete, How to Build a User-Centric Information Architecture, or Building an Information Architecture Checklist
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Information Architecture (IA) is a broad term, but here’s the basic content marketing definition: IA defines how you present and categorize your resources.

Do you have one umbrella under which all content exists? Do you have a single top-level social media account or multiple?

The larger an organization becomes, the more content it churns out. If it fails to categorize this content, finding a specific document becomes an exercise for employees and a half-marathon for site visitors.

The Sony Corporation operates in dozens of markets, several languages, and has fingers spread across industries.

Now imagine you lost the instruction manual for your Sony Bravia TV and you visit Sony’s site to find a PDF copy, but all you find is one infinitely-scrolling page: sony.com/info.

This page does feature instruction manuals, but they’re littered among press releases from Columbia Pictures, announcements for cell phone recalls, posts discussing PlayStation games, spec sheets for Sony’s new Windamajig, and three thousand troubleshooting articles… in 8 different languages.

This is worst-case-scenario Information Architecture: everything in one place, but no right place for anything.

Without defining a proper IA, teams (especially non-marketing) will dump their content like an amateur murderer dumps a body: in the nearest ditch.

Or worse, they go rogue and create new channels (e.g. @Sony_MemesFromTheMailRoom) to deliver their content. This is chaos.

The content marketing arm of an organization has to define where specific resources exist, how readers will reach them, who may contribute to these channels, and who owns the final say.

For example, technical documents and answers might be at a subpath of your site, e.g. /help/technical, whereas your blog keeps customers aware of your latest product updates and offerings.

A blog can be further subdivided into meaningful categories to better-identify with personas (see: 24. Define Buyer Personas).

For example, Sony Electronics may have a blog that first splits by product type: Entertainment, Business, Communications, and Home Appliances.

They divide the blog further beneath each category, Entertainment may split into: Home Theater, Personal Audio, PlayStation, you get the idea.

When you define these in-line with your customer’s expectations, navigating your resources feels natural to everyone.

You may also split-off your social media accounts to cater to specific personas, this helps your fans find the content they actually care about rather than filtering out valuable bits from an every-topic channel.

Step one is aligning stakeholders on your IA proposal, but architecting your site, social media, and internal business processes such that everyone sticks to your design can be a ton of effort.

If you’re a small-business owner, then this step is mostly about setting Categories and Tags on your CMS. I recommend your top-level categories reflect your personas.

For example, as a restaurant that also caters, you may have one category of resources for Diners and another for Event Planners.

Take Action

Begin by reading How to Build a User-Centric Information Architecture.

If you’re a cog in a much bigger machine, you will have to work your IA proposal up the ladder. The alarm to redefine the IA for a large company must sound from the mountaintop, there’s no way you can fix it alone.

What’s worse, fixing it in your little corner of the corporate world may not overcome the cluster-$#!@ that exists in other departments linked to yours.

Thinking positively, your shiny IA may inspire others to take up the mantle and do the same in their little corner.


26. Study Your Buyer’s Journey

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites24. Define Buyer Personas
Requirements• Understand the definition of a Buyer’s Journey
Nice-to-Haves• N/A
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

The buyer’s journey is an abstract path followed by a customer before they make a purchase. While typically business-specific, a common journey that applies to many products looks like this:

  1. Awareness
    The prospect begins to experience a problem, an issue that they or someone in their care suffers from

  2. Consideration
    The prospect looks around for a solution, begins comparing options and educating themselves on the problem and its ramifications

  3. Decision
    The prospect chooses a solution to their problem (hopefully that solution is you!)

While these three points generally encompass the journey, your customers may take additional steps (or fewer) than those highlighted here.

And to discover those steps, you need to speak to your sales team and customers to help define a journey for each persona (see 24. Define Buyer Personas).

Customer service reps and sales often have the closest insight into customer’s hearts and minds, they can provide the anecdotal data you need to build out each persona’s journey.

From there, if possible, you want to back their claims up with data: analytics that help reinforce the path described by sales and CSRs.

For B2Bs, the journeys are likely to include steps that involve back/forth with gatekeepers and recognized industry authorities before they come to a decision point.

It’s worth the work, however, as the journey can inspire and drive your content marketing.

Take Action

After defining and studying the journey of each persona, you can build content that satisfies your various prospects at every stage:

  • Awareness: Top-funnel pieces to help identify the problem and offer advice

  • Consideration: Top-funnel content which compares and reviews popular solutions (see 35. Apply Pain-Point SEO)

  • Consideration (cont’d): Middle-funnel to demonstrate how your products and services solve the problem (and why it’s right for persona A)

With this tactic, you can tailor content to focus on the specific needs of each persona.

By completing this and the organizational steps above, you are prepared to build content that fits neatly into categorizable slots: per kpi, product, persona, and journey stage.


27. Craft a One-Page Content Marketing Plan

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites24. Define Buyer Personas
• and 26. Study Your Buyer’s Journey
RequirementsSimplify Your Content Marketing Strategy with a One-Page Plan
Nice-to-Haves• N/A
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

All credit for this tactic goes to George Stenitzer’s CMI post, Simplify Your Content Marketing Strategy with a One-Page Plan, so shout-out to him for this one.

George’s One-Page Plan (OPP) aims to help us in several ways:

  • Align creative teams and execs on a content marketing plan
  • Narrow the scope of the plan to a span of time and a specific KPI with quantifiable goals
  • Present an easily-shared document that keeps everyone on the same (one) page for the duration of the plan

Your first OPP may not look exactly like George’s, but it’s a great starting point for anyone looking to build out their content efforts.

As a software developer, I look at the OPP like a development sprint: here’s our timeframe, here’s our goal, here’s what we’re going to build, and here’s why we’re building it: go!

And by following the previous organizational tactics, you can generate an OPP specific to a KPI, narrowed to a single persona, and split by journey stages — that was as business geeky a sentence as I ever want to write.

Take Action

Read George’s One-Page plan and see if it feels right for you.

Create your own version of the document and shop it around to your manager.

If you’re the business-owner, this plan can help guide your content marketing efforts for the near future. However, I would ask trusted advisors to take a look at your first draft to see if it passes the smell test.


28. Develop an Editorial Content Calendar

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites27. Craft a One-Page Marketing Plan
Requirements• Access to a common calendar or to-do list shared among your content marketing team
Google Calendar, Trello
Nice-to-HavesCoSchedule, Buffer, Planable, Asana, or similar…
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

To be clear, I despise editorial calendars.

Content teams often lead with a calendar rather than first perform the Fundamental and Organizational steps above (ahem).

Filling out a calendar is pat-on-the-back busywork that lets us forget why we’re scheduling content in the first place.

But assuming you at least have an OPP (see 27. Craft a One-Page Marketing Plan), you can safely move ahead with building your editorial content calendar.

You don’t even need a fancy tool to calendar (that’s a verb now, right?), you can start with Google Calendar.

Using Google apps, build an editorial calendar by creating a shared Calendar on Google and adding events for each element of your plan: social media posts, blogs, resources, white-papers, etc.

On Calendar events, the Calendar owner can ‘assign’ the work to responsible parties by inviting them to the event (now you basically have project management going in GCal).

To define content types, set blogs as one color, Facebook posts as another, etc. This also makes the calendar much easier to understand at a glance.

And in each event, provide a link to a Google Doc where the draft of the content exists.

Another dirt-cheap method requires the use of a Google Spreadsheet to build an ad hoc Calendar with titles and due dates and everything, but I don’t recommend this approach.

Sheets are trickier to format properly (especially without the drag-and-drop features of Calendar events), and are more difficult for team members to understand.

Plus, name three things worse than scrolling a spreadsheet… horizontally. You can’t.

Take Action

Choose a place to keep your calendar: GCal, Trello, Asana, sticky notes on a whiteboard, whatever.

Regardless of which tool you use to build your calendar, make sure each event contains the KPI, persona, buyer journey stage, topic, and channel which it targets.

An example calendar entry might look like:

  • Title: Why ‘Content Marketing’ Is A Four-Letter Word
  • Color: Red (indicates ‘blog post’ because… reasons)
  • Assignee: Stanley Idesis
  • Description:
    • KPI: Increase Traffic
    • Persona: Small-Team Content Marketer / Entrepreneur
    • Stage: Awareness
    • Keywords Targeted:
      • Why do I need a content strategy
      • Why you need a content marketing strategy
    • Draft: https://docs.google.com/…

Bonus: if you plan to publish to a 3rd-party platform or one of your subdomains, lay out the UTM parameters for the piece (see 8. Use Urchin Tracking Modules).

And last but not least, do not fill out your calendar.

Right now, you are merely creating a place to store and share the calendar; putting things on the calendar comes later during the Ideation stage.


29. Plan for Diversity

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites9. Perform a Content Audit
27. Craft a One-Page Marketing Plan
Requirements• The willingness to try something new
Nice-to-Haves• N/A
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

When choosing content formats, it’s too easy to stick with what we’re familiar.

If you’ve operated a blog forever, to release yet another blog post is a consistent, reliable, and likely mindless decision.

Remember when we talked about IA? (see 25. Design a Harmonious Information Architecture)

Sometimes a piece of content deserves better than the paste-it-into-WordPress treatment, sometimes a better format, or more appropriate channel exists.

Consider the flexibility of your CMS or site-builder (it probably supports video, slideshows, infographics, quizzes, etc.), and don’t forget the primarily downloadable or printed content formats (yeah, carbon copies).

If you plan to commit 3-months or more to generate a piece of content, certainly you want to produce it in forms that go beyond the bare minimum.

Investigate eBooks, audio, video, presentations, flyers, pamphlets, native advertising, podcasts, and more.

A content library diverse in format appears complete, and the variety breaks up the one-note song of an endless stream of stock photo Instagram posts — when people see something new or different, our interest is piqued. That’s human nature.

So spice things up in the content bedroom once in a while by committing to a format your audience does not expect.

And if you think a funny video is off-brand because you’re a B2B that sells serious stuff to serious people, I strongly suggest you reconsider that belief unless your brand voice explicitly prohibits such content.

Take Action

Look back at the results of your content audit (see 9. Perform a Content Audit), do you produce a variety of content or is it pretty much same ol’, same ol’?

If you’re worried about deviating too far off brand voice, study your competition to see if they’ve had any success with shaking things up a bit.

And if you need help producing these unique content types, here are some tools to get you started:


30. Track Every Piece of Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites9. Perform a Content Audit
Requirements• God-like patience
Nice-to-Haves• Someone to do this for you…
Google Sheets, Airtable, Microsoft Excel, or similar
• A subscription to ScreamingFrog or URLProfiler
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

This tip gets a frowny face. If you have a lot of content, tracking each piece quickly becomes an exercise in hair-pullery.

But you’re in luck if you’ve already completed 9. Perform a Content Audit, because now you know where all your content lives, its purpose, and so much more.

Tracking each piece means you create a single source of truth for your content library, a document you may reference for many years to come.

But why do this?

Each piece of content is an investment, not necessarily a good one, but an investment nonetheless. And just like an investment, you track each to monitor its performance.

Or you hire a stock broker that suffers from amnesia — your choice.

By keeping and updating this document, you can track key metrics over time which help you make decisions later on, decisions such as whether to repurpose the content, take it down, or give it a refresh.

You can do this with a spreadsheet, and here’s how I recommend you begin.

On the first sheet, list one piece of content per row and assign to each: a KPI, persona, journey stage, URL, title, description, link to a draft or folder, date published, and location (Medium, Facebook, Twitter, your blog).

This first sheet keeps static information that will rarely, if ever change over time.

See 9. Perform a Content Audit for more ideas of what sort of data you should log here.

On the second sheet, record dynamic metrics once every 30 days.

For content produced on sites you own, record key analytics: page views, bounce rate, page value, conversions, landings, impressions, search, top keywords, and others (see 4. Connect to Webmaster Tools and 5. Set Up Web Analytics).

For content you’ve posted to 3rd-party platforms, track likes/reactions/shares/views (if available), number of comments, and other engagement data.

Finally, on the third sheet, build a pivot table that filters the metrics sheet (sheet number two) to a specific piece or collection of pieces.

For example, you may want to see the progress for all content aimed at your millennial-first-time-homeowner persona at the consideration stage of their journey… from the past quarter; your last sheet should be capable of building that report.

That’s just one implementation of course, and you’re more than welcome to simplify yours or go even-more-nuts than I did.

Take Action

While outlining this tactic, I was bitten by the “do as I say, not as I do” bug; I wasn’t tracking my content at all.

So I built the exact sheet that I just described and you can copy my template to your Google Drive.

But as your content library grows, so does the challenge of wrangling all this information for each piece of content.

If you have a long list of URLs to comb through, I highly recommend URLProfiler.

I’ve used this tool for clients in the past because it pulls back metrics from multiple sources for each URL (including social shares, analytics, and search data) into a CSV which you can import directly into your spreadsheet.

By using promo code STAN25 at checkout, of course!

Patrick at URLProfiler was kind enough to offer my readers a 25% discount.

But please, profile responsibly.


31. Revisit Your SMO

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites9. Perform a Content Audit
• and 8. Use Urchin Tracking Modules
Requirements• Access to your social media accounts and related engagement metrics
Nice-to-HavesSproutSocial, HootSuite, or another social media manager
Rival IQ for competitor analysis
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

If you have no social media presence, you may be better off than you think.

In my opinion, being an everywhere-brand17 is not nearly as important as being where your customers engage.

Maintaining an account on multiple social networks exhausts small teams, especially solo entrepreneurs and marketers: the end result is often a single social media strategy repeated across each channel.

Brands end up posting the same content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, anything that swallows links, really.

And perhaps their Snapchat looks exactly like their Instagram, or vice-versa.

While this strategy certainly saves time and appears to ‘check all the boxes,’ what value is it providing if you’re just checking boxes and cutting corners?

Take Action

If you have an existing presence on social media, evaluate your channels by traffic, conversions, and overall value.

This helps you decide if a channel is worth your attention or if it’s time to push the button marked, ‘eject.’ Oh, and remember:

“Leaving social media is legal in all countries”
Your Inner Voice

That may sound foolish to some, but here’s the thing: you don’t control social platforms, they control you.

Their popularity ebbs and wanes over time, so it’s critical to 1. Build a Website where you grow an audience that can’t be taken away.

With limited time and money, focus on social media platforms where both your customers and prospects converge.

However, if you are just starting out and have a limited social media budget, I recommend you study your competition to see where they‘ve found their audience, a tool like Rival IQ can help here.

If your competitors are everywhere-brands, measure their success by looking at likes, comments, and shares as lagging indicators.

And if you do end up an everywhere-brand yourself, tailor your strategy to each platform.

Posting the same content to every network, “that’s easy,” you say. But customers who see the same content on every network? “That’s lazy.”

If customers can get the same experience everywhere, why would they follow you anywhere?

Duplicating yourself across channels is a falling tide: it drains every platform.

By creating exclusive photos for Instagram or 280-character blurbs that only appear on Twitter (gasp!), you motivate your fans to follow you wherever you go.


32. Annotate Your Analytics

AttributePurpose
CategoryOrganization
Prerequisites5. Set Up Web Analytics
Requirements• Access to your analytics platform
Nice-to-Haves• An automated reminder to do this whenever you make changes to your website
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

As part of your content tracking and performance monitoring, Google Analytics Annotations can help you connect website changes to traffic and performance changes.

Annotations are simply notes you add to your analytics timeline (something similar should be available on competing analytics platforms).

These notes are rarely useful in the moment, but help explain changes in traffic or user-behavior long after you’ve written them.

For example, I leave a note on my timeline whenever I release a new post, update my site, or change an analytics configuration that might affect my metrics.

You can also leave notes related to ad campaigns, promotions, and more.

Notes are another way you can stay organized and determine the sources of your success (and occasionally, your failures).

Take Action

Open up any Google Analytics report that features the timeline (pictured below).

Then add your very first note using today’s date: “my very first annotation… Neat, I guess” Pretty solid copy, right?

10 Content Ideation Strategies

You’ve setup your website and it’s decked wall-to-wall with search engine optimization. And you have a slew of quantifiable business targets your content can definitely help you reach — great!

Prepare to uncork that preparation potion and swallow those creative juices because now it’s time to answer the most common content marketing question ever asked: what the hell do I write about?

That’s where ideation strategies come into play.

Unlike the previous sections, these strategies are in no particular order. Feel absolutely free-as-a-bird to jump around.


33. Sounds Like a Persona Problem

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites24. Define Buyer Personas
Requirements• Direct access to your customers
Nice-to-Haves• Keyword research skills
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Great content serves the reader, poor content serves the author.

And to serve the reader is to do a customer study, a persona study in our case. If you haven’t built out your list of personas, see 24. Define Buyer Personas.

Personas primarily divide along their problems, and by studying those problems (and how your brand solves them), you can discover appropriate content ideas.

For example, one of my personas is the Content Marketer, a person like yourself who may need…

  • A content marketing plan
  • Tips on how to pitch content proposals
  • Or an authoritative list of content marketing tactics (oh, really!? You don’t say!)

Before I began writing this piece, I looked up content marketing strategies and saw articles just like mine littered across the web; but none as authoritative as what I chose to create and what you chose to read.

I knew this would be a desirable piece of content before I typed a single character, and you can feel that way about your next piece as well.

Take Action

You don’t have to break the fourth wall to learn your customer’s desires: you can ask them directly, interview them, skim support emails, and glean online channels where they write about you.

Find their problems, frustrations, and turn them into content at any stage of their journey.


34. Study Top-Ranking Competitors

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• A free competitive analysis tool such as SimilarWeb, Serpstat, or similar…
Nice-to-HavesBuzzSumo, SEMRush Estimated Traffic, or other competitor content analysis tools
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Use this strategy to fill your editorial calendar with ideas swiped directly from the competition.

But apply this tactic rarely, because keeping up with the Jones’ can turn you into an unoriginal copycat.

What you want is to find your competition’s most popular content and then replicate or improve upon it (if it suits your KPIs).

To do so, you can first target popular search results with a tool like SEMRush’s traffic estimator tool that helps marketers discover the potential organic traffic value of individual pages.

We get information such as average position (on the results list) as well as the likely number of visitors over a period of time.

Beyond traffic, it’s difficult for you to guess the value your competitors get from their content (conversions, page value, etc.), but if your KPI requires inbound organic traffic, this tactic can do the trick.

Another way to mine your competitors for valuable content is with BuzzSumo.

BuzzSumo discovers the most popular posts published by your competition and presents them in an easily-exportable CSV.

Unlike high search traffic, the pieces discovered here are more likely to range across the spectrum of personas and buying stages: so make sure the purpose and target audience aligns with your brand’s goals as well.

P.S. if you’re not familiar with your competition, try searching for similar:your-site.com -site:your-site.com.

Take Action

If you want to go the cheap route, try the free plan from SimilarWeb, it might give you the competitive data you’re looking for.

I can’t speak for the tool personally, but I know it’s popular.

Otherwise, I recommend considering a subscription to SEMRush or BuzzSumo for analyzing competitors. You get a lot of benefits from either platform beyond the competitive-analysis feature, and the data is far richer than any you can get for free.

Find your competition’s top organic content, then ask yourself the following:

  • Would this content serve one or more of my personas?
  • Can I align this content with one of my KPIs?
  • Can I do a better job producing and promoting the content?

If the answer to all of the above is yes, you have a great content idea on your hands.


35. Apply Pain-Point SEO

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Read Pain-Point SEO: How To Produce Content to Drive Conversions
Nice-to-Haves• N/A
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

As defined by Benji Hyam, Pain-Point SEO delivers a specific type of content to a prospect at the consideration stage.

The search terms your prospects use in these moments may not be popular, but by answering them, you offer visitors a chance to skip right past your awareness content and go straight to considering your product.

The topic templates Benji suggests we target have familiar, but intentful titles: alternatives to X, competitor Y vs competitor Z.

Not only do these pieces align perfectly with your KPIs, personas, and latter buying stages, but they give you an opportunity to steal some traffic away from brands bigger than yours.

If you’re new or unknown, searchers aren’t punching your brand name into the search bar, but they are searching for your well-known competitor.

By creating pain-point articles about them, you can steal attention away from a brand too large and too afraid to produce self-evaluating comparison articles — plus, it’s tough for readers to trust the opinion of the brand in question.

This tactic worked on me when I set out to find a chat client for my small team. I liked and have used Slack before in previous work environments, but feared it would cost me too much in the long run.

So I searched for ‘alternatives to Slack’ and found an article from Fleep listing 25 competitors (including Fleep).

This led me to consider two from the list: Fleep itself, and RocketChat. Unfortunately for both, their free version excluded a couple features that I absolutely needed.

Slack’s free version had them… Slack won out.

But I still appreciated the content Fleep produced and am giving them a shout-out right now.

On the flip-side, if you’re a larger brand with an established name, you can own the fact that you are not the only option out there — otherwise someone else, like Fleep in the previous example, will gladly own it for you.

If you’re willing to admit that solutions other than your own have merit, you come off far more honest and down-to-earth than your dominant industry position typically requires.

P.S. Yes, this tactic serves B2Bs better than B2Cs, but there are exceptions.

For example, families treat household products and services much like businesses assess their vendors. And in these cases, a B2C may use this tactic to serve their personas appropriate content, e.g. Blue Apron vs HelloFresh.

Your mileage may vary.

Take Action

Read Benji’s post, Pain-Point SEO: How To Produce Content to Drive Conversions, and brainstorm some content ideas based on the content templates he outlines within.

Determine whether these ideas fall in line with your KPIs, personas, and brand values.


36. Research Keywords

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• A basic understanding of search engine keywords
• Access to one or more of these free tools: Google Ads Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, or UberSuggest
Nice-to-Haves• A paid subscription to either SEMRush, Keyword Tool, Moz, or similar…
• My free keyword research course: Content That Attracts
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Whether by text, voice, or image, what you search is ultimately used against you.

About 80% of Google’s revenue relies on free data provided by us18 (our search requests) to serve relevant advertisements both on and off their search engine.

And Google makes $130B+ per year, so that’s a lot of moolah surrounding a relatively trivial action: clicking that search button.

As a content marketer, how can you take advantage of that data to better serve your readers? Keyword research.

It’s in Google’s best interest for you to serve the searching community. By creating more and better search results, you allow Google to draw from a wider web of value, which in turn, makes Google’s search engine (and every search engine, really) more valuable to visitors.

To help you create that value, search engines expose keyword, or ‘search query’ data: what was searched for, when it was searched for, from which country, and how often.

Keyword research is the process of mining this data for valuable topic diamonds.

By using a free tool such as UberSuggest or a paid one such as SEMRush, you can uncover popular keywords related to your business and audience.

This requires you to work backwards from your personas to find a perfect marriage between their problems and your KPIs.

For example, if you’re targeting coffee drinkers that brew their own coffee (a favorite example of mine), their concerns may include choosing the right coarseness of grind, measuring out the proper amount of coffee, and heating water to the right temperature for espresso.

With these hypotheses in mind, you pull back keyword data for terms related to, ‘how to grind coffee,’ ‘how much coffee per serving,’ ‘water temperature espresso,’ and others. Among the results, you look for:

  • A reasonable volume of monthly searches for the term
  • The intent behind each search: transactional (buy now), information-seeking (how to…), or something else
  • And lastly, terms with search results that you can compete with (better copy, images, design, speed, etc.)

As a coffee producer, you may discover that you can answer one or more of these with a great piece of content that can beat out the competition.

Take Action

There’s a lot to learn about keyword research.

Start with Moz’s What are Keywords and follow-up with their Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Keyword Research.

If you prefer the hands-on approach, visit the following link to get free access to my premium Skillshare course, Content That Attracts: Discover Content Ideas and Grow Your Audience.

After you feel familiar with the keyword research process, begin to identify in-demand search requests that you can satisfy with great content.


37. Research Local Keywords

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• A basic understanding of search engine keywords
• Access to Google Ads Keyword Planner and Google Trends
Nice-to-Haves• My free keyword research course: Content That Attracts
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

By default, keyword research targets a broad collection of searchers such as those located in the United States or searchers across the entire planet (global setting).

But sometimes zooming in and focusing on local desires helps you deliver magical content moments; moments where readers discover an unlikely level of specificity among your content.

Top 50 Baby Names may apply to every birthing mother in the anglosphere, but Top 100 Baby Names Picked by New Yorkers is a content opportunity that your narrow target audience will love, and your global-minded competitors will overlook.

By performing local keyword research, you can find the piece of content more likely to resonate within your target communities.

It’s best to apply local keyword research to locations in which your business is physically located (duh?), but one can make a case for global brands that localize their content.

For example, if you were worldwide ecommerce show-selling platform Zappos, you may discover a unique persona that exists only in a handful of markets: parents who need to purchase rubber rain boots for their children.

This persona may not exist in warm climates such as Miami or Los Angeles, but doubtless you’ll find them in Seattle and London.

If local keyword research backs this up, your online shoe-tailer may produce, Top 7 Boots To Keep Kiddos Waterproof in Seattle and 8 Fashionable Wellies for Your Wee One in London.

Yes, the English have slang for rain boots, and your content should go as far as possible to localize its vocabulary.

Take Action

To perform local keyword research for free, use Google Ads Keyword Planner or Google Trends.

Keyword Planner can return search volume for a keyword within a country, state/province, city, or even a small town.

This hyperlocal research tool makes it the perfect option for targeting searchers exactly where you do business.

Google Trends, while not necessarily a keyword research tool, can provide another look at the popularity of search terms. Trends reveals how often users search for a term in comparison to other terms, and it can narrow results to states within the USA.

Cronuts were a fad, cupcakes are forever.


38. Repurpose Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites30. Track Every Piece of Content
Requirements• Existing, successful content pieces
Nice-to-Haves• The ability to produce videos, slides, eBooks, infographics, white papers, audiobooks, podcasts, quizzes, cures to various cancers, etc.
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Sometimes the easiest way forward, is to turn right back around.

If you’ve had content success in the past, repurposing that content can bring it new life and a new audience.

To be clear, I recommend you stick to repurposing content which has already succeeded. By limiting yourself to winning pieces, you increase the chance of seeing similar success with the new, repurposed version.

Otherwise you might end up hammering that same old rusty nail.

Take Action

If you had a massively successful eBook, can you take its contents and boil them down into an infographic? How about a video series on the same subject?

Repurposing does not simplify the work, but the idea and meat of your next piece of content already exists — it just needs some TLC to make it feel fresh again.

If you have a successful white paper, summarize it into a consumable blog post. If an infographic went viral, follow it up with deeper research and insight in a new format.

When you repurpose, your imagination is your only limitation.


AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Be familiar with Google Trends
Nice-to-HavesHow to use Google Trends to Find Sizzling Hot Topic Ideas 🔥
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Google Trends helps marketers compare the popularity of terms over time.

As mentioned earlier, it’s a bit like keyword research but with historical relevance being the key metric we consider.

This tool is immensely useful in industries where the body of marketing terms grows fast enough where no single person can really stay on top of them all.

Therefore, this may be more useful for B2Bs where industry jargon, and the way customers refer to technical topics, can leave ignorant firms speaking in terms no one bothers to search for.

For example, are customers interested in ‘digitization’ or ‘digitilization’? Yeah, those are things people type and care about.

Google Trends would suggest that we scrap digitilization because its use, although easily misconstrued with digitization, is insignificant when compared to the latter.

The trend line also reveals that interest in ‘digitization’ has grown steadily over the past 5 years, a clear indication that we should make a content investment now to capture some of that attention later on.

In B2Cs, where organic search often plays a weaker, supportive content role, we may use Google Trends to discover seasonality among our personas.

For example, run a 5-year worldwide trend line of ‘headphones,’ ‘earbuds,’ and ‘earphones,’ and you will discover that interest in such products peaks every year during the holiday season (November/December).

This provides adequate evidence to suggest we should publish headphone-related content at that time… because duh.

Take Action

Depending on whether you operate primarily as a B2B or B2C, you will use Google Trends differently.

Begin with watching Ahref’s How to use Google Trends to Find Sizzling Hot Topic Ideas 🔥, to get the feel for Google Trends.

Then play around by looking up some of the industry jargon used in your recent blogs and social media posts.

It’s hard to advise on what to search for without knowing a little bit more about you, and if you want some help using this tool, feel free to get in touch.


40. Course-Ify Your Product

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Customers who find your product difficult to understand or take full advantage of
Nice-to-HavesCamtasia, a powerful tutorial/video-creation software
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Rather than explain it, I will simply off a perfect example: MailChimp’s Getting Started with Email Marketing.

This is a free course that introduces email marketing as a concept and it piggybacks off MailChimp’s platform.

Is one of your products or services reasonably complex? Consider producing a free course that educates prospects on how to use your services to solve their problems; this is an ideal way to introduce your brand.

The course ends up doubling as a tool for existing customers that want a hand-held tour of the product they just purchased.

If your target persona is the self-educating, do-it-yourselfer, then a high-quality course can be your next great piece of content.

You don’t have to use one of the standard course platforms either, you can just as easily release it for free on YouTube (and you probably should).

Take Action

What do you sell? If it’s a system or a tool of some kind, than it is reasonably complex and customers may benefit from your freely-accessible course.

Your course should achieve the following:

  • Identify the problem for the customer or prospect

    In Mailchimp’s case, email marketing is the problem, Mailchimp is only one solution.

  • Include material that benefits non-customers

    How can your prospects achieve the same results without using your product?

    Viewers are more likely to share your course if the content also applies to outsiders rather than exclusively to your customer base.

  • And integrate your brand in meaningful ways

    Your course material should set each pain point up like a volleyball for your brand to spike the crap out of.

For that last bullet, here’s one setup Mailchimp might use:

Setup

“Sometimes your campaigns go unopened, mega-bummer 🙁. Customer inboxes are stuffed with marketing, so it’s tough to compete.

That’s why we recommend you send a follow-up email to audience members that did not see your first one — by doing so, our subscribers have increased their open rates by 83%!”

And here’s the spike:

Spike

“At Mailchimp, we detect low open rates automatically and schedule your follow-up campaigns in one click.”


41. Break Down the Buyer Journey

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites24. Define Buyer Personas
• and 26. Study Your Buyer’s Journey
Requirements• N/A
Nice-to-Haves• Existing customers to interview
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Assuming you have a persona with a well-defined buyer’s journey (or at least awareness, consideration, and decision stages), it’s time to look for gaps along the path.

For example, your persona is a single-store brick & mortar business-owner that sticks to cash, and you offer a mobile point-of-sale system.

The content journey here might look like:

  1. How to Manage Cash as a Small Business Owner,
  2. followed by, Why Accepting Credit is Easier Than Ever,
  3. which leads to, 9 Great Mobile PoS Systems for Small-Business Owners,
  4. and ends in conversion.

As this example details, the buyer’s journey can begin and end with content.

And while that seems outlandish, I know it’s true because I’ve lived it.

Marketing For Developers is a course and book bundle I purchased after discovering Justin Jackson through his blog post titled, I wasted 4 years of my life doing this.

That article moved me to learn more about Justin, to subscribe to his newsletter, and to receive a discount on his course.

If it worked on me, it can work on your customers.

Take Action

Begin by talking to your sales team (or in my case, myself) to discover the questions most frequently asked by your chosen persona.

Answer those questions with content.

Since the persona is already in contact with your sales team, they’re likely at the consideration or decision stage, but you also need to cover the awareness stage.

Customers at the awareness stage may suffer from a pain that you can solve, but they only feel the pain acutely. Or they suffer from the pain but can’t imagine a solution that meets their criteria (or any solution at all).

So you must ask yourself: does my persona live with problems that I can solve with content?

These problems can come from keyword research (see 36. Research Keywords) and competitive analysis (34. Study Top-Ranking Competitors), but the direct approach requires interviewing your happiest customers.

Ask them what problems they dealt with before they became customers, how they discovered you, whether they were aware of their problem, and whether they were aware of solutions.


42. Go Behind The Scenes

AttributePurpose
CategoryIdeation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• An existing audience
Nice-to-Haves• An upcoming product, feature, or announcement affecting customer experience
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Hat tip to Neil Patel on this one!

Going behind the scenes is about sourcing content ideas from within your organization, about your organization.

The best use of this content is to build or improve the relationship with your existing customers and to inspire repeat business.

For example, imagine you’re building a brand new feature into your service or expanding your product offering in some meaningful way; content can tease the new thing by answering these questions:

  • How are you going about that?
  • What’s the process like?
  • Who is responsible for the work?
  • What did the product/service look like along the way?
  • How many iterations have you gone through?
  • Whose feedback made it into the final version?

Your fans want to see this stuff because it brings your brand down to Earth (where they live) and reminds them that you too are human and your products don’t just appear, they require dedicated work from you and your team.

Beyond that, these pieces can build momentum for the product you ultimately plan to release.

These pieces can capture emails (notify me) before launch and upsells after the product goes live.

Take Action

You must have an existing audience of readers or customers to take advantage of this tactic.

If you’re actively working on a new offering or high-demand feature, strike while the iron is hot! Record your progress through blog posts, images, and behind-the-scenes video.

If your customers rely on or love what you do, then they also want to know what you’re doing to improve their experience or deliver an even better version of what they already enjoy.

Don’t waste these opportunities.

11 Content Creation Strategies

You’ve got a bucket of content ideas and you’re ready to mop the floor with them, clean house, get rich, retire early, marry Chris Hemsworth, and sail off into the sunset.

Oh wait… Chris is all, “ideas are nothing, execution is everything.” Way to rub it in, Hemsworth. Yes, at some point the heavy lifting needs to get done — the kind of heavy lifting Thor should do to get back in shape after Endgame.

Most of the work content marketers do is done at this stage: it’s the work I’m doing right now, it’s the clacking of my laptop’s keyboard as I create this monolith of text.

To complete the work, to keep the keys clacking, check out the following content marketing tips.


43. Build It Up

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites30. Track Every Piece of Content
Requirements• An existing body of content
Nice-to-Haves• A lot of small content pieces related to one another
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

At the tippity-top of the straight-forward content creation tactic pile lies the build-up strategy.

Take small pieces of related content (infographics, blog posts, social media, videos, what-have-you) and roll them up into a content snowball.

Polish and refresh that old content to make it seem brand new. This nabs you a relatively easy win by letting you build a content bible out of spare parts.

After digging through your content pantry, add exclusive elements to your snowball content. This way, readers familiar with your existing ingredients will get a little something new to chew on.

Take Action

Look through your content catalog and start grouping together related posts, images, and other format types.

Then come up with a banner under which all the information can exist.

For example, imagine you produced:

  1. 8 Ways to Serve Baby Carrots,
  2. 13 Healthy Broccoli Recipes That Your Kids Will Love,
  3. and Stop Buying Processed Lunches for Your Kids: Do This Instead.

You would sew these articles together with one obvious and common thread: Healthy Meal Prep for Your Little Ones.

Although this process demands less creativity, there’s still plenty of work required to build up. Take these steps before embarking on a build up journey:

  • Make sure the ingredients you’re rolling up into your content entree have succeeded on their own: most people try the ‘fish of the day,’ but they never try it twice.
  • Check to see if there’s demand for the kind of content you’re building up toward: are users looking for a 39-page eBook of cat factoids titled, Meow-by-🐱 (I’ll workshop the title)

The new content you create from the old must adhere to the other parameters of your strategy: KPI, persona, buyer journey, and more.

So don’t roll up your content because you’re bored, roll it up because it will give readers a far more complete, authoritative piece of content than what was previously on offer.


44. Tear It Down

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites30. Track Every Piece of Content
Requirements• An existing and successful pillar, skyscraper, or content bible
Nice-to-Haves• N/A
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

What goes up must come down… unless you’re in space, then you just stay there as long as you need to, heeeeeney.

If we can build a piece out of scraps, we can tear it down for scraps.

The tear down technique is the complementary strategy to 43. Build It Up, and it has you take a large piece of content and divide it into smaller, self-contained pieces.

This technique can save you both time and energy when producing content, provided you built the larger piece from scratch and not by applying the Build It Up strategy.

What’s more, the tear down multiplies your content library and available resources overnight.

While smaller pieces often struggle to receive the attention and traffic of their larger counterparts, they’re able to deliver information to prospects with pinpoint accuracy.

If I’m on a sales call with a payment processor and I ask, ‘what are your transaction fees?’ I expect a short and complete answer, not a 45-page eBook on the origins of 15th-century banking.

In fact, I prefer a short answer on the phone but if the fees in questions are too nuanced to explain, a blog post or FAQ resource that zeroes will often get the job done.

Take Action

If you have a big piece of original content (like the one you’re reading right now), look for subtopics within that can serve as standalone pieces.

Even though this technique shrinks your workload, plan to go into a little more depth or at least refresh the content before posting it as an independent piece.

And just as with any piece of content, take the steps to determine whether the torn down piece fits a KPI, a persona, and a buyer stage before you create it.

Finally, link each tear-off piece back to the mothership to build the backlink profile of the original. 😉


Penalty19, and more so if the pages are found across multiple domains, e.g. blog.yoursite.com/great-tip and www.yoursite.com/resources/all-the-great-tips.

Search engines punish this behavior because they perceive it as content theft. If one page is a complete or near-copy of another, set the canonical tag to avoid this penalty — see 14. Supply Metadata.


45. Choose Quality

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Big cajones and massive ovaries
Nice-to-Haves• A marketing team that believes content is a long game, not a quick win
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Is anyone willing to admit they pursue something other than quality?

“Here at Stupid, Co. we choose garbage: garbage for breakfast, trash for lunch, refuse for dinner, and total shite for dessert.”
Dumbf Ace, President of Stupid, Co.

You don’t set out to create something awful or to write something worthless; even the content-thieving link networkers think they’re doing grrrr-eat!

But garbage is often what content marketing efforts produce, and here’s what I mean by garbage:

  • Content stolen from another source
  • Content without examples (examples like this one)
  • Content riddled with grammatical and spelling errors
  • Content that fails to cite sources or come to a conclusion
  • Content that’s poorly researched, or not at all
  • Content that does the bare minimum, or less
  • Content that serves the brand, not the reader
  • Content that distracts with popups, flashing colors, long load times, illegible fonts, and cookie-stuffing ad networks

Crap is everywhere. But the beautiful thing about search and social media is that both can surface the best content.

And by best, I do not mean honest, wholesome, nor intellectually sound, but valuable to the reader.

Sure, some charlatans make their way to the top with tricks now and then.

But to consistently reach your audience, you have to produce work that entertains, educates, and exalts — that alliteration was a stretch but boy was it worth it… (it was worth it, right?).

But what does it mean to choose quality?

It means you introduce an editorial process that trades a little bureaucracy for a lot of quality control.

It means you spend a week on a blog post instead of a day.

It means you hire a designer instead of nabbing stock photos from the Internet.

It means you write and rewrite until you are proud of what you’ve written.

Choosing quality is important in content because you’re going head-to-head with tens of thousands of publishers producing similar work; but algorithms favor quality: they favor the user’s vote.

The market for content is not entirely free, but it’s as close to a free market as any can be. Present your content, and may the best content win.

Take Action

Look pensively into the mirror and pick apart everything you’ve done to cut corners on your content.

Sometimes your corners are hardly noticeable: you fail to double-check your sources, you pull an image or two off a competitor, you reuse some verbiage from Wikipedia.

These small quality trade-offs might cut your workload in the short run, but lose the trust of your audience in the long run.

Begin by taking small, therapeutic steps toward correcting these problems.

Checking off the content box is no longer good enough: true insight cannot be outsourced, real trust cannot be bought.

The hard work has to go into it. Just ask me, as I draft this sentence I’m staring down month 5 of this list.


46. Go Big

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Big cajones, massive ovaries
Nice-to-Haves• A marketing team that believes content is a long game, not a quick win
• Read Brian Dean’s The Skyscraper Technique and Skyscraper 2.0
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

What do I mean by go big? You’re looking at it.

This piece of content is massive, but you’re not reading it simply because it’s long. This content satisfies user intent, matches one or more popular search queries, and acts as an authoritative source on the subject (content marketing strategies).

Brian Dean lays out why this works quite well, but I will recap his main points here.

Authoritative content provides what readers expect in the fullest way possible: examples, answers to related questions, visual aides, and a full body of information related to the subject matter.

This level of depth attracts readers, but more importantly: it attracts backlinks.

Being a one-stop shop, a skyscraper piece, a content pillar, cornerstone, or what I call, a content bible, earns more backlinks from related blogs and social media accounts than small one-off posts.

As a blogger that recommends resources to their readers, why would they link to 15 different pages when one could do the trick?

The piece then continues to feed off of these backlinks and thereby earn more traffic and a higher ranking among the search engines.

Take Action

To create a piece like this, first choose a topic that has enough search volume and falls in-line with your overall strategy (KPIs, personas).

Research the top search competitors to discover which information you must provide, and in what format it should appear.

Plan to go above and beyond in the production of the content, plan to work.

These pieces are far from a lightweight content investment, they can take a long time to research and produce.

Case-in-point: it took me two months to draft the outline for this collection… just the outline.

But as long as you maintain these pieces properly with annual updates, the result is content that dominates a small fraction of the web.

However, not all topics are suited to become content bibles, and some topics already have search results which fall into this category.

If you can respond to your topic with a short answer (e.g. the distance from the Earth to the Moon) or your topic already comes with an existing, and impressive skyscraper answer such as Brian Dean’s SEO Tools: The Complete List, then you may have to look elsewhere.


47. Hire Your Customers

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Existing customers
Nice-to-Haves• A business model that can support and sustain a customer referral program
• A tool for generating and tracking referral codes such as Referral Rock, GrowSurf, or others…
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

If you’re in the right product category (personal interest x frequent usage), you may find that your customers are turning into fans.

And fans love to geek out about their favorite things, and one of those things could be your product.

The strategies herein, thus far — Achievement Unlocked: Ye Olde English Skills are ‘Hella Lit’ — have placed your focus inwards to create your own content, but at this point we’re going to turn our gaze in the opposite direction.

By hiring your customer, I mean you provide them an incentive to write, post, or otherwise spread your good name across both the Internet and Outernet.

Referral codes are nothing new, but by deploying them to your customers in a non-expiring way, you effectively pay your customers to develop content on your behalf.

Give them a unique link that provides both them and the person who clicks the link a benefit on your store, platform, what-have-you.

Your fans will readily produce reviews, blog posts, and additional content featuring this link, and of course, your product.

At a small acquisition cost to you, your best customers will write positive reviews and reach an audience you may have otherwise overlooked or failed to reach yourself.

A great example of this comes to us from Imperfect Produce. Imperfect assigns each of its paying subscribers a unique link.

For each new customer these links bring to Imperfect, Imperfect rewards the owner of the link with $10 worth of free produce; not a bad deal.

This tactic perfectly aligns the incentives of the company with those of its biggest fans: a true win-win.

Obviously this costs you, but try to give away something with high margin. If it’s your product, give away your product/ If it’s money, be careful.

Take Action

First, kick the tires on the referral concept; your product or service may not benefit from them, especially if you have a long sales cycle.

If you think referrals are perfect for you, then you have to decide what you’re willing to give away.

A good starting point is either a product or service equal in value to the average customer acquisition cost. Give half that cost to the referrer, half to the new customer.

It’s a cost you expected to pay anyway, but in this format you earn free content across the Internet as a bonus and your word-of-mouth marketing grows.

Once you’ve decided on what to give away, decide how to give it away.

You can create unique codes manually and provide them to customers or you can hook up to something like Referral Rock to automate the process.


48. Choose a Reading Level

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites22. Refine Your Brand Voice
24. Define Buyer Personas
Requirements• N/A
Nice-to-HavesHemingway App, Grammarly, or similar…
• A CMS plugin that evaluates your writing level, such as Yoast SEO’s Readability Analysis
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Based on the persona, medium, and channel your content targets, choose a reading level appropriate for the audience.

A whitepaper often gets a bit more technical and jargon-laden, that’s fine; a post on social media is more conversational and therefore, ideally, easier to digest.

If you don’t put thought into this, you might end up with a mixed bag of verbiage that bogs readers down, or worse, makes your brand’s content appear circumlocutory…20

This tactic appears to collide with 22. Refine Your Brand Voice by suggesting a single piece of content can override the tones and lingo set by your organization — not so!

I suggest you determine where each piece falls on your scale: is it targeting a technical crowd? Do you plan to tweet about it? Is it a tweet or social media post? Is its goal to entertain, enlighten, or spark a strong emotion?

Your brand voice defines your boundaries, and a single piece of content must find its place among that walled garden.

For example, you probably shouldn’t post section 22 point 5 dash A from your privacy policy on Instagram — unless it’s a real page-turner.

Conversely, your privacy policy should exclude mentions of how your commitment to data protection is “hardcore af.” You see what I mean?

Each piece must define its reading level, remain consistent throughout, and be within the boundaries set forth by your brand voice.

Take Action

I personally love the Hemingway Editor for this kind of thing, because it judges the reading level required for your writing.

As a rule of thumb, keep your reading grade low because your goal is for your audience to understand you about 100% of the time; but even simple statements struggle to reach that benchmark.

And by incorporating the Hemingway Editor into your brand voice document, you can set guidelines such as these:

  • Twitter/Facebook: Max grade 4
  • LinkedIn: Grades 5-7
  • Blog Post: Grades 5-7
  • White Papers: Max grade 8
  • Etc.


49. Outline Your Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• An outlining tool such as Google Docs, WorkFlowy, Paper by Dropbox, or paper by pencil
Nice-to-Haves• A planner’s mindset… some people ‘wing it,’ I don’t recommend that for content marketing
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Outline your content before you begin to write.

That’s another no-brainer to some, but a yes-brainer to beginning content marketers who haven’t written anything since college.

I do this for every piece, especially one as large as this — I spent more than 2 months outlining this piece.

I start with a headline based on the idea I want to produce.

Next, I write what I call the Inspiration. The Inspiration is a logline, a quick gut-punch synopsis for the document and why I’m writing it.

After researching my topic, I move onto the High-Level Outline (HLO). The HLO defines the big-picture structure of the document.

Here I draft temporary headers and the order in which they appear. Nested headers are important, too, as they further divide the document into subsections.

For example, the HLO for this piece looked something like this:

  • Introduction: What is a content marketing tactic?
  • The Tactics
    • Foundation
      • Title + short description of each strategy
    • Organization

Once I’m satisfied with the HLO, I move onto the full outline.

The full outline is a bulleted list of sentence fragments that resembles both the structure and actual content of the final document.

I complete the outline, then paste it word-for-word into an empty document where I convert each bullet point into a sentence, and each series of bullet points into a paragraph — this creates my first draft.

This process may seem wasteful to you after I reveal that over 70% of the outline ends up in the final draft untouched.

But if writer’s block was an actual block obstructing my path, then outlining is like turning on noclip mode and walking right through everything standing in my way.

Nothing I’ve tried has defeated writer’s block as consistently as a list of bullet points. The reason this works is purely mental: a list of bullets looks nothing like the final product.

Writing full sentences into a blank document comes with the pressure of perfection: my mind expects each word to be final, each sentence to be permanent, and each paragraph to find its resting place.

But when I look at a bulleted list, a format in which Tolstoy surprisingly never published, my mind perceives no such pressure. I am free to mess up as many bullets as I wish.

I can indent a bullet to make it seem small and insignificant. I can babble on and on without concern for proper punctuation or grammar.

Bullet points free my creativity and anxiety at once. I encourage writers of all kinds to use bullet points when outlining their ‘first draft.’

Take Action

You don’t need any special tool to start outlining, but you do need a special mindset.

Achieve this lax perspective by outlining with a separate tool, any other tool. This helps distance you from the performance anxiety of generating a final product.

If you write your content in Microsoft Word or directly in WordPress, create your outline in Google Docs. If you find that’s not far enough, go further.

For example, outline your content in bed, but write your drafts at your desk.

Outline at night, but draft during the day.

Wear different clothes, change your surroundings, drink different beverages… more bubbly, fun beverages.

When you outline, do whatever it takes to separate yourself from the pressure of having to lay down perfectly smooth sentences.


50. Outsource The Work

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• More money than time
Nice-to-Haves• Access to high-quality writers familiar with your industry and business
• A good reputation on Upwork, Guru, or others…
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

If the thought of researching, outlining, and drafting sends your blood pressure to shopping-with-spouse-at-Ikea-levels, there is another way.

Small teams and solopreneurs hardly have the time to sit put and create incredible content in-between meetings, sales calls, and surprise zombie attacks — they’re actually quite common now, I might strike ‘surprise’ from the record.

If you fall into that far-too-busy category, you can hire someone else to do the creating for you. Services like Upwork feature excellent content creators for as low as $40 per hour.

These individuals can help build out your content portfolio and take an immense weight off your shoulders. What’s the catch, though?

Be on the lookout for the following:

Writing Skills

No one will claim to be a poor writer or in want of English, that’s just a given.

Ask for samples to get a feel for their capabilities; this will help you estimate the amount of editing in store for you.

Industry Familiarity

Most content writers are generalists, but will have experience in some narrow fields.

If you need help writing a technical or highly-specific piece of content related to the work you do, then expect to incur additional billable hours for time spent researching.

Unfortunately, this means your most valuable content ideas may go squandered at the hands of a hired gun.

However, if you can find a content writer knowledgeable in your area of business: wham-o!

Tone

Previously addressed in 22. Refine Your Brand Voice, you should provide the contractor writing guidelines to help steer her toward producing work that matches your reader’s expectations.

And take periodic glances at the drafts to see whether they fall in line with your vision.

Add-Ons

Will she generate custom images? Graphics? Slideshows? Anything else?

These are great bonuses that help you avoid hiring additional contractors to complete a single piece.

Take Action

Decide if a contractor is in your budget.

To save cash, aim for the $40/hour or less price point. But as with everything else, you get what you pay for.

If your budget is $200 for a piece of long-form content, don’t be shocked when your hired gun fires off 1500 rearranged words from a rival blog post.

A good contractor is worth good money: they work with you to craft a piece of content that reflects your brand’s voice, values, and unique perspective.

You can ask around for recommendations, perform a search on a freelancer portal, or talk to me, the Upfront Marketer. I help brands architect and produce traffic-driving pieces like this one.


51. Make It a Product

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• A little bit of technical knowledge
• Or a web developer
Nice-to-Haves• A flexible site-builder or CMS that allows you to insert custom scripts and fancy interactions
Technical DifficultyImage Enhancer

As we’ll see in a later promotional tactic, sometimes content is so large it takes on a life of its own: it becomes a product.

The Michelin Guide is the most widely-recognized content product of all time. Few people readily connect the dots, but the Michelin tire company is responsible for the Michelin Guide.

The guide is a piece of content almost disassociated from, and arguably more important than the brand that gave birth to it over a century ago.

Sure, the guide is not free (but it used to be), however the company probably earns nothing on the work invested into the guide; the guide is purely a marketing effort, and here is the story of its genesis.

The Michelin brothers engineered the world’s first inner-tube rubber tire, a French invention that promised to replace the ever-breaking metal tires that came before them.

Inner-tube tires lasted much longer and enabled drivers to take their cars on trips previously unimaginable.

But this sudden thrush of freedom invited new questions: where would customers get gas? Where would they drive to? Where did roads exist? Where could they rest along our journey? And the most problematic question of all: mon dieu, where would they eat?

Drivers needed these concerns resolved before they would risk taking their cars on tour.

And so the Michelin brothers set out to answer each one: our tires will get you there, our guide will get you there safely… is what I imagine their slogan was (but en Francais, of course).

The brothers traveled across France together in search of landmarks, gas stations, serviceable roads, and yes, restaurants. They collected their findings into the first-ever, Le Guide Michelin.

The original Guide Michelin was published in 1900

Over 100-years later, the company releases the guide each year and restaurants around the world compete for a star-studded placement in this prestigious periodical. But why does the guide matter?

It matters for the same reason that any great piece of content marketing matters: it burrows its way into the lives and minds of prospects.

And a product that customers use repeatedly (even a piece of marketing) has lasting benefits for your brand.

A typical piece of content like a short blog post, meme, infographic, podcast episode, or personality quiz receives a few uses and disappears, leaving room for the next piece of content candy.

But a content product can remain a part of a prospect’s life.

To relate back to what you’re reading now, I could productize this list into something like a Content Marketing Tactic Generator, it might walk you through a few questions and then generate a list of tactics specific to your goals—and why not?

With a tool like that, readers may visit repeatedly to see new results and find fresh tactics. And a content product can build leads if you guard the product’s true value behind an email-capturing gate (CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is a great example of this).

The downsides are painful, unfortunately. Productizing takes a lot of work, requires a cross-functional team, a commitment from co-workers, and buy-in from upper management.

It’s easier to say ‘yes’ to another forgettable blog post than to say yes to a massive product undertaking. But will your readers ever think twice about 9 Surprising Things You Might Find in Your Bathwater? No.

Take Action

The Michelin brothers produced a book, but audiences today expect more: an interactive experience on their phones, tablets, computers, and beyond.

If you have the resources to build an application or produce interactive elements for your site, then this tactic can work for you.

The best way to design one of these content products is to convert an existing, successful piece of content.

The Michelin guide started as a book, now it’s an industry.

If you have a successful long-form article or video, that content answers an important question for your prospects. Can you turn that information into an experience?

Back to CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer: I bet it started as a post titled something like, How To Write Headlines That Searchers Can’t Resist.

Once they realized they had a success on their hands, turning it into a productized piece of content required little more than incorporating the guidelines they wrote and a bit of web developer elbow grease.

I bet you have a piece of content like this — dig deep, find it, and productize it.


52. Go Video-First

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• The ability to shoot and edit video
Nice-to-Haves• Access to Adobe Spark Slideshow Maker, Camtasia, or a video generator tool
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

If a picture is worth a thousand words… that means a 3-second video is worth a whopping 90,000 words.

Plot-twist: those FaceTime calls with my publisher are my manuscripts!

Odds are you take a new content idea and you start somewhere small: tweet, a Facebook post, a 500-word blog, a simple slideshow.

But if you aim high and begin with a video, you reap the benefits of having a re-deployable piece of content from the get go.

Rather than repurpose the content to more expensive formats, which ultimately end in video, you can use the video as the basis for repurposing efforts later on.

For example, let’s say you have a minute-and-a-half explainer video. If it’s a success, pull out the script, combine it with appropriate images, and you’ve repurposed it into an FAQ answer, blog post, or site resource.

Pull out individual images from the video and use the script as guidance for bullet points in a slideshow.

Find poignant moments in the video and turn those short snippets into easily-shared or embedded GIFs (complete with subtitles). Embed the video into larger pieces of content to increase reader engagement.

As inspiring as the upsides of video-first may be, the downsides are equally discouraging.

Videos cost more to produce and require considerable effort from a cross-functional creative team.

If your video fails to live up to the hype, then the benefits of having ready-made content babies are completely lost.

Take Action

It’s best to start small. If you’ve never done video before, don’t expect to go from zero to Spielberg in 60 seconds.

Instead, use one of these shortcuts to produce an effective video without breaking the bank: purchase a video maker tool that features stock footage or create a simple, animated slideshow set to music.

If you’re anything like me: you’re cheap and creative. And if that’s the case, the slideshow will be your weapon of choice. For an example, check out my explainer video.

For that video, I doodled each slide, recorded voiceover, and stitched it all together myself.

I have years of editing and film experience which you may not possess, but you can check out one of the many courses on these subjects.

If you want to learn more about my process, shoot me an email.


53. Keep It Short & Snappy

AttributePurpose
CategoryCreation
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• An eye capable of discerning the tireless, ceaseless, and endless sentences filled with excessive expressions when in fact, good reader, shorter constructs would have sufficed… If that sentence was too short for you, you’re part of the problem
Nice-to-HavesOneLook’s reverse dictionary as a search engine shortcut in your address bar
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

To dazzle readers as they enter your site, hit them with a brick wall of text. If that doesn’t work, try sarcasm.

Brian Dean breaks up his paragraphs on blog posts to help keep the reader’s eye moving and their cursor engaged with the screen — thanks for this tip, Brian. (yoink!).

If you have highly-technical information to relate, try to keep the reader interested throughout; this is true for all material, but especially the technical kind.

But writing less is more difficult than people assume, writing too much is the default. My favorite quote on the subject comes from French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal,

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”
Blaise Pascal

Admit it: it’s difficult to remain brief, especially when shorter, more apt words seem beyond our reach.

And when I reach that perilous place, I turn to one of my favorite writing tools of all time: the reverse dictionary.

With this tool, you can look for a word by searching for its meaning. For example, I can substitute never ending with eternal, perpetual, or ceaseless.

“Never ending,” kind of like this list of content marketing tactics amiright?!

And I can replace longer, common phrases like happened to be with became.

I recommend this tool to writers of all levels: it grows your vocabulary and shrinks your prolixity (guess where I found that gem?)

Take Action

Add OneLook to your Chrome search bar, here’s the exact URL I use: https://www.onelook.com/thesaurus/?s=%s, and ‘reverse’ as my keyword.

If I discover the need to replace a phrase as I’m writing, I keep my hands on my keyboard and follow this sequence:

  1. Activate the address bar bit Ctrl/CMD + L
  2. Type ‘reverse,’ followed by a space, proceeded by my phrase
  3. Hit Ctrl/CMD + Enter to open the results in a new tab
  4. Switch to my new tab with Ctrl + Page Down
  5. 🤓👍

But keeping things short takes more than a few replaced phrases, it also requires removing unnecessary sentences, paragraphs, and sometimes entire blog posts…

Make your content long in value, not long in the tooth.

13 Content Marketing Promotion Strategies

Your words are on page, your images on screen, and your fingers on sabbatical. Now it’s time to kick back and relax as your content takes the world by storm.

And even without an ounce of promotion, that storm is looking to become a category 5 sunny day with clear skies and a 15% chance of scattered no-one-gives-a-crap.

True, you can simply release a piece of content and hope the world discovers it over time. And if you have something amazing on your hands, that will happen — but even so, wouldn’t you prefer to speed up the process with a little elbow grease?

Here are some content promotion strategies you should consider to get your pieces some early and valuable traction.


54. Be Where Your Customers Are

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Take interest and participate in spaces where your customers gather
Nice-to-Haves• A brand tracking tool such as Mention, Google Alerts, or Tagboard
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Building a brand community from scratch often proves more challenging than finding and growing an existing community of fans.

For example, brands just starting out feel the need to join every social media platform (wrong, see 31. Revisit Your SMO), and claim all the @s, hashtags, and pages before it’s too late.

Their next move is spamming these channels with content hoping that something sticks.

The issue with this approach is two-fold: your customers may not exist on those channels, and that may never change. As a new brand, ease up on your social media strategy unless you have the resources to nurture those communities.

As an existing name, find where your customers love to talk about you (even if it’s trash talk) and be there. It makes perfect sense to publish your work where your customers are likely to read it, and avoid posting it in places where they’re not.

Resist the temptation to be everywhere, because otherwise your everywhere-content may end up like the proverbial tree that falls in an empty forest, or worse: the fart on a windy day.

Take Action

Google Alerts is a good place to start.

Track your brand and your close competitors to see who mentions them and how often. But Google Alerts tends to favor news stories over other content, so don’t make it your only strategy.

Social media is a little easier to tackle. Open up Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or whatever and search for your brand name, products, and services. You may not get any hits, but a lack of information is also a data point.

If you can’t find mentions of your brand, look for your close competitors. If users are talking about your rivals on Reddit, they might be interested in discussing you as well.

If all else fails, try Mention, Tagboard, or similar.

Once you find these communities, follow their rules and join them in earnest — do not treat them as dumping grounds for your content.

It takes time to earn a community’s trust, especially if this community actively criticizes your products and practices.


55. Embed Highlight-to-Share Functionality

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• A tool that allows visitors to share text as they read
Nice-to-Haves• The Highlight and Share Plugin for WordPress
• A developer capable of building this for you
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

If you’re like me, and let’s face it, by now you are, then you also use your cursor to compulsively trace the words on your screen as you read them. You’re doing it right now, aren’t you?

If you’re reading this on my site, you’ll notice that by selecting (highlighting) any part of this passage, my site presents you with an opportunity to share the selected text through social channels.

This light addition to your website logic provides the reader an opportunity to promote your content as they enjoy it.

It may not amount to thousands of additional shares, but it’s a small step that makes a small difference — and that described pretty much every promotional tactic.

Take Action

If you have a WordPress site, a plugin such as Highlight and Share can provide this feature, otherwise you may need a developer to step in and set this up for you.

For my site, I used highlight-share, an Open-Source JavaScript library that provides customizable and ready-to-use highlight sharing functionality.

I also limited the number of available channels to avoid overwhelming you, the reader with too many options.


56. Automate Your Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• An audience of prospects or existing customers you can reach via email
• Understand how to use automated email workflows
Nice-to-HavesMailchimp, MailerLite (what I use), or almost any email marketing tool…
• A web developer or a tool that lets you connect reader behaviors to your email marketing tool
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

It may sounds obvious, but it’ not: some brands disregard it. And by it, I mean treating content as a first-class citizen in the outbound marketing world.

And first-class means you do more than shove another link into an already-bloated compulsory newsletter. First-class means you promote great pieces of content directly to prospects along their buyer journey.

For example, a reader subscribes after reading your post titled, How to Grind Espresso Coffee Beans, and receives a link 3-days later to its natural successor, Compared: 8 Best-Selling Espresso Coffee Grinders (this is a consumer-centric Pain Point Article, see 35. Apply Pain-Point SEO).

Similar to the abandoned cart email, automated content can act as an abandoned journey email that puts readers back on the site and on their way to purchasing your products.

In the coffee bean example, the reader began at awareness by realizing espresso coffee requires a specific grind of bean.

The reader’s next step is to consider products from you and your competitors. So you offered them a look at their options compared side-by-side with the second article.

You can also use automation to promote content that introduces new features or services to your current customers.

For example, one month after a customer purchases your coffee grinder, you trigger an email that includes an article on how to use a milk frother to craft lattes and flat-whites… using your what? Your new milk frother, duh.

You do this because sharing content with the right reader at the right time does something an advertisement will never achieve: it builds a relationship based on personal understanding.

And with today’s prevalence of misfired ads and blast-all-channels marketing tactics, the personal factor remains the champion.

When you receive unrelated content from a brand, you forgive and forget. When you receive the perfect content at the perfect moment, you experience nothing short of delight.

Take Action

Whatever email marketing tool you use, you likely have access to some level of email automation, but that buzzword is not one-size-fits-all.

For example, to replicate the first scenario above, your tool must differentiate subscribers who signed up on Page A from subscribers who signed up on Page B — not all can do this.

Page A subscribers receive workflow one, whereas Page B subscribers receive workflow two or none at all.

You need subscribers from both pages to remain within the same audience, but sequestered by their sign up location.

To replicate the second scenario, your email tool must pull information from your cart software or keep a primitive record of the transaction along with your subscriber’s profile.

For example, your subscribers might have a FIRST_PURCHASE column, and in that column you would store the product SKU (assuming only one was purchased), and in this case, that SKU would identify the coffee bean grinder.

In both cases, your automation tools must allow for arbitrary time delays: 1 day, 1 week, 3 months, etc.

The tool I use, and the only one that provides automated workflows at the free tier is MailerLite. MailerLite is flexible enough to allow both flows listed above and their API is freely accessible at every tier — their support is top notch, too!

I only sponsor products that I both use and enjoy, which is why I’ve included this MailerLite referral link.

Sign up through that link and both of us receive a $20 bonus. (Psst, remember when I mentioned this referral strategy above in 47. Hire Your Customers? You’re seeing it in action).

While MailerLite is powerful enough to support these features, you need Techno Weeny status to pull them off or to have access to a web developer.


57. Build Landing Pages For Your Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
56. Automate Your Content
Requirements• Understand the purpose of a landing page
• Be able to build a landing page
  
Nice-to-Haves• A landing page builder such as Instapage, Unbounce, Mailchimp landing pages, or others…
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Hat tip (again) to Neil Patel on this one.

Brands typically choose one of these three paths when publishing free content:

  1. Release the content on the web as-is, naked for the world to read
  2. Place the content behind a simple gate that charges readers their email in exchange for access
  3. Or build a landing page for the content that acts as a fancy-pants version of option 2

All options have pros and cons. Giving away your labor of love without grabbing a single email or phone number in return seems like a lost opportunity.

Although, keep in mind that content is meant to help your readers, and gating your content may inhibit that helpfulness and strain the relationship between brand and consumer.

But if you’re going to gate, making a sign-up form without any preamble (option 2) means your site features a page that is effectively a text box, a button, and a title…

These pages are thin content and you should prevent search engines from finding and indexing them.

A thin-content landing page found on Salesforce.com (don’t index pages like this)

As for option 3, a landing page is a transactional web page designed to convert your site visitors into something more.

It is a page-long house ad that promotes a specific action: sign up, try now, start free, subscribe today, or in the case of this tactic, get this eBook/audiobook/podcast/whatever.

Building a landing page for your content can make the piece more important than it is. A landing page treats your content like a product, so it’s no surprise that this tactic works perfectly in tandem with 51. Make It a Product.

CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer and HubSpot’s Content Marketing Workbook are great examples of landing pages built around content.

HubSpot has a great landing page for their Content Marketing Workbook

A landing page presents a compelling content promotion complete with images, infographics, bullet points, videos, and all the copy to convince visitors to fork over their contact info in exchange for the glorious content within.

And if your landing page is SEO-optimized, it earns you bonus organic traffic (something a simple content gate will likely never do).

When you plan to promote the content on social media and through email, you get to promote the beautiful landing page instead. This is a huge plus because the landing page can sell the content better than the content itself.

But building an attractive, high-converting landing page consumes time and resources, meanwhile it may never pay off.

Take Action

This tactic works best if you are actively building on a piece of bible content (see 46. Go Big) or a content product (see 51. Make It a Product).

Creating a landing page for anything smaller than that is not worth the effort.

If you have a juicy piece of content in your pocket and you’ve yet to release it, consider creating a landing page that incorporates intriguing excerpts from the content.

Use the best elements from within to tease the visitor, and remember to close out with a CTA.

Your CTA should reveal a sign-up form on-page or in a new window that, upon completion, directs readers to the content or sends the content to them as an email attachment.


A content gate is a virtual barrier between your site visitor and your content.

The barrier which brands usually deploy comes in the shape of a sign-up form that requires visitors to provide personally-identifying information in exchange for access to the content.

While effective as an email-capturing technique, you must weigh the benefits of a content gate against the cost of turning many readers away and hiding your content from web results.


58. Craft Native Ads

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites24. Define Buyer Personas
Requirements• You need to contact editors of publications and websites which your prospects and customers frequent
Nice-to-Haves• An existing relationship with the publications and websites mentioned above
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

People generally fall into two camps on this one: camp wow-what-a-great-idea! and camp eww-I-would-never.

The people who think native ads are a great idea tend to see them as another opportunity to trick readers into checking out their products.

Meanwhile the people who run into the shower after even considering native ads, hate them for the same reason that Group A loves them.

I suggest a middle-ground: produce a great and helpful piece of content that fits naturally within the reader’s expectations, and be clear that your content is sponsored and paid for.

According to a 2016 survey, readers still confuse native ads for content21, they see them as in-house articles and videos.

The moment readers assume that your content was produced by the publication, deception sets in. In my opinion, avoid creating even subtle moments of mistrust.

Start your native ads right off the bat with, ‘this is sponsored content written by YOUR AUTHOR’S NAME, YOUR BRAND HERE.’

But more importantly, provide value in the content. If readers choose to give their time to you, don’t leave them in regret.

Provide new information, avoid bias where possible, and remain helpful throughout.

A great article placed in front of the right reader through a native advertisement can inspire the reader to continue reading on channels which you control.

You can share a link (or scannable QR code) within the article that brings readers to additional content, your blog, a landing page, and more.

Take Action

Before you spend beaucoup bucks on native ads, decide whether this approach is worth the effort — begin with finding the right publication.

Your ideal publishing partner has a readership that is either vast, chock-full of your potential customers, or ideally, both.

But assuming you can tailor a great piece of content to the publisher’s audience that fits comfortably onto their platform… one question remains: can people take action after reading your content?

For example, after skimming a bicycle maintenance article on page 63 of skymall, the reader belted into seat 43A can’t act on any of your tips.

Best-case scenario her bike is in the cargo hold, which means she and her bicycle are separated by at least 5 federal aviation regulations.

Conversely, readers who receive a monthly cycling magazine in the mail are far more likely to use those tips immediately or in the near future.

In this case, the information and the reader’s ability to act on it coexist in the same space.

H&R Block partnered with The Onion to deliver a great native ad experience

So if readers can act on your help, the final question is the bottom-line: is it worth the cost?

If you’re lucky, you may work out a deal with your publisher and get a discount. Native ads are not cheap, so price them out just like you would any other type of advertisement.


Unlike the take out an ad approach, native ads (also known as sponsored content) require you to work with a publisher to include a piece of your content within their publication.

The content you produce appears every bit as indigenous (native) as their home-grown articles.


AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites4. Connect to Webmaster Tools
Requirements• Access to your website’s property on Google Search Console
Nice-to-Haves• A backlink monitoring tool such as SEMRush Backlink Analytics, Ahrefs, Link Explorer by Moz, or others…
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

A page’s backlinks are all the pages on the web that link to that page.

Backlinks are critical for SEO and rankings, but they also play an important part of your promotional strategy.

When a backlink to your content finds itself on a high-traffic and highly-relevant website, you earn a ton of inbound visitors practically for free.

But how do you acquire these valuable backlinks? In the best case, your content is so great that you get backlinks for free.

For example, this content marketing tactics piece hands out backlinks like candy, but only to sites I personally trust.

If your brand is not well-known or your content obscure, the next best way to get backlinks is to make something great and ask people to check it out.

But whom do you ask? You find out using backlink analysis.

Tools like SEMRush Backlink Analytics and Moz Link Explorer help you discover backlinks for any page on the Internet.

And for each of those backlinks, the tools present the approximate value of the link, what Moz calls Domain Authority and what SEMRush refers to as a Trust Score.

Both effectively mean the same thing: the higher the score, the better it is to find your link on that site.

By finding the high-quality domains which link to you and your competitors, you can discover valuable cross-linking opportunities.

Take Action

Begin by using a backlink analysis tool on pieces of content that you compete with.

Perform a quick search for your topic and record the URLs of the first 5 non-advertised results. These pages will undoubtedly have backlinks, and potentially many.

Analyze these pages one-by-one to build a list of potential promoters: blogs, subreddits, message boards, Medium posts, and others.

Finding the domains is the first step, the next is to contact the authors and administrators to start a dialog.

It’s best to have something more to offer than the opportunity to read your content: try to come up with something (even if it’s just another backlink in return) to offer the site owners in exchange for a link to your piece.

Here’s an email template you can use:

“Hi NAME,

I think your readers are the perfect audience for us at YOUR BRAND. I saw you linked to COMPETITOR’S CONTENT and I couldn’t help but pass along the piece we just released: YOUR CONTENT.

Are you interested in doing a cross-promo with us?


60. Improve Your Headlines

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites4. Connect to Webmaster Tools
9. Perform a Content Audit
Requirements• Be able to edit your content titles
Nice-to-Haves• A headline analysis tool such as CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, Sharethrough’s Headline Analyzer, or AMI’s Headline Analysis
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Headlines play a critical role in acquiring new readers. Whether on search or social media, headlines must pull the reader’s attention.

Without an eye-catching, cursor-seducing, finger-luring headline, your content may go unnoticed.

Thankfully, headline analysis tools can help you improve your headlines by studying the words you use and suggesting improvements where possible.

The strongest headlines pique the reader’s curiosity, inspire a sense of urgency, relate to their interests, and are between 50 and 70 characters.

While the analysis tools can’t narrow to your target personas and brand voice, they can provide excellent rules-of-thumb for crafting your content’s most important piece of copy.

Take Action

Start by playing around with one or more of the headline analyzers: CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, Sharethrough’s Headline Analyzer, or AMI’s Headline Analysis to get the hang of them.

Next, look through your content and analytics to see whether any page has gone stale (generally at the 6-12 month mark).

Experiment with new headlines and re-share content under the new banner.

For content which finds new life through this process, ask your webmaster tools to reindex those pages — see 65. Notify Webmaster Tools of New Content.

Not only will you see more engagement the second (or third) time around, you may also see a boost in your search rankings.


61. Content About Your Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites46. Go Big
• Or 51. Make It a Product
Requirements• An audience of prospects or existing customers you can reach via email or social media
Nice-to-Haves• A large piece of content currently under production
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

“Create content that promotes my content? Preposterous! Selfish, redundant, dare I say solipsistic!” Not at all, good sir or madam.

When producing a large piece of content (see 46. Go Big or 51. Make It a Product), publishing small teaser pieces can serve as advertisements for the full thing.

My audience is tiny right now, and I have no mailing list to speak of. But if the opposite were true, I might take one of these marketing tactics and pop them out into a single piece of content.

Going deeper into the meta-zone: I might write a piece titled, Content Strategy No. 45: Promote Your Content with Content, and in it I mention everything mentioned here and more.

In this piece, I would discuss the upcoming release of my complete list of content marketing tactics. As my call-to-action, I’d ask readers to sign up to be the first to receive my complete piece.

Take Action

If you have an audience awaiting your grand creation, why not provide them with valuable excerpts that just so happen to promote your upcoming content behemoth?

Brands often treat their largest pieces of content as they treat their products (think the Michelin guide), naturally they can extend that treatment to the promotion of large pieces.

After all, huge content sure can feel like a product after you’ve worked on it for over 6 months… No? Just me, then.


62. Reach Out To Cited Sources

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• A piece of content that links to an external website (that’s a pretty low bar to clear)
Nice-to-Haves• An existing relationship with your cited sources or a relationship with someone who can connect you
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Reaching out to your sources can be a wellspring of promotional value.

You’ve gone through the trouble of referencing them in your piece, so you may as well thank them for providing a source of inspiration and for doing the great work they do.

I referenced SEOs, services, marketers, and more, all within this guide — and I’ve reached out to them all (granted, with mixed results).

For example, I emailed Patrick of URLProfiler to work out a deal for my readers. Patrick was excited to offer a coupon exclusively to this audience and grateful to find his brand recommended by the piece.

Take Action

Patrick was kind enough to reply, but most of your emails may go unanswered. However, those who respond tend to do so with enthusiasm (I know I would).

Once connected, keep your sources updated about your release dates and promotional channels.

On the day of, remind them that the piece has gone out, thank them again for participating and making your content that much better, and ask them to share it if they found it valuable.


It’s a little odd to talk about this tactic here with such frankness, but being upfront is kind of my style (it’s in the name after all).

I don’t think any of the people I’ve contacted will find my motives offensive or off-putting.

Yes it’s a strategy, yes it can be used maliciously and without respect, but that is a judgment to place on the user, not the strategy itself.

The brands and articles cited here were built by individuals I respect, not mere stepping stones on some path to content success.


63. Guest Blog

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Be able to demonstrate your writing ability and familiarity with your subject matter
Nice-to-Haves• A relationship with the editor of a popular blog
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Guest blogging is nothing new, in fact it’s old; it’s the methuselah of content promotion.

So how is this tactic still relevant today? As the phrase goes, old tricks are the best tricks — this one still works.

It works well for a couple reasons:

  1. your domain earns authority and traffic from a relevant source
  2. the blogger gets a new piece of content at zero-cost and retains full editorial control (in most cases)

It’s the ideal win-win scenario. But as with native ads (see 58. Craft Native Ads), you have to approach guest blogging with caution.

Take Action

To make this tactic work for you, you have to build a relationship with the blogger and align with their goals.

Choosing the right blog to partner with is critical, you don’t want to go through all this trouble only to discover that your target personas are nowhere among the blogger’s audience.

Secondly, your partner and their blog must receive as much respect, if not more, than your brand.

Stepping down to the level of clickbait headlines and watered-down news articles is not worth the traffic boost. Consider your reputation when choosing a partner blog.

Lastly, your guest post must perform a balancing act between the following forces:

  • Their voice vs your voice
  • Their goals vs your goals
  • Their topics vs your topics

The guest blog post has to fit in-line with their audience’s expectations, otherwise readers may turn away and ignore your contribution.

The balance skews against you if you have to make big sacrifices to produce the right piece of content for your partner.

Ideally though, your partner’s blog looks and reads a lot like your own and therefore, the content you propose provokes few disagreements between the pair of freshly-allied marketing teams.

And remember to link back to your homepage or a piece of content that moves guest blog readers to the next step of their buyer’s journey.


64. Tailor Your Social Media

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• A presence on one or more social media platforms
Nice-to-Haves• Resources to dedicate to each social media platform
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

4 out of 5 top brands across 87% of industries have a consistent presence on every major social media platform.

…Sounds like a real fact, right? But actually I just made it up.

Take a look at your favorite big brands, especially B2Bs, and you may find they post the same content to every social media channel (using identical copy, no less).

As long as the channel accepts links or images, you’ll see the same articles, infographics, and blurbs shared across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Reddit, ad nauseam.

These are everywhere-brands and I mentioned them in an earlier tip, 37. Revisit Your SMO.

The shotgun approach to social media satisfies lazy marketers everywhere, and satisfies users never-y-where…? I’ll workshop that.

To commit a heinous error, treat social media as a single channel.

Social networks are not search engines — providing you with free inbound traffic is the exact opposite of their goal.

The network’s goal is to put a gulf between you and people who see your posts; to earn money, the networks pressure you to buy ads and promote your posts with cash.

For you to cross that gulf, you must build an audience of fans on that network, fans who will go out of their way to see your posts.

So if you mean to ‘be on social media,’ you should correct that sentence to include the platform and target persona.

“Our brand is on Facebook and we target Gen-X homeowners,” “our brand is on Instagram and we target millennials with cats,” etc.

Take Action

If you plan to be on Facebook, discover and treat that audience-persona with content that you tailor to them.

If you plan to be on Instagram, prepare to build an audio-visual campaign for those individuals.

Each channel requires dedicated content that targets its users with precision, which means it requires dedicated resources.

If you can’t afford to do this for the major platforms, I recommend you narrow your focus to a single, promising channel.

When you have a persona in mind and you’ve built out their lifestyle profile, finding their preferred social media platform is far from complicated.

  • Are you targeting business professionals? LinkedIn.
  • Millennials with cash to burn? Instagram.
  • Moms? Too easy: Facebook.

It’s not 🚀 science.

And you can also study successful social media campaigns of competitors to discover which platforms your target personas visit most.


65. Notify Webmaster Tools of New Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites4. Connect to Webmaster Tools
Requirements• A new or updated piece of content on your website
Nice-to-Haves• A workflow that reminds you and your content publishers to perform this critical step for each piece
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

This is an easy one: when you update your content or release a new piece, notify search engines immediately.

Rather than waiting for the creepy crawlers to discover your updates on their own, ask Google and Bing to index your content as soon as it’s available.

Not only does your content find its way to search engines sooner, but the process also gives you a crawl-ability sanity check.

If the indexing process runs into any issues, you can act on them before the content has made its way to hundreds, potentially thousands of readers.

Crawl errors include missing resources, broken links, blocked files, and more.

Beyond that, you may discover usability issues: missing or poorly formatted titles, missing or inaccurate descriptions, and other issues.

By performing this step manually, you guarantee that search engines present your content exactly as you expected.

Take Action
  • Google’s Search Console

Click REQUEST INDEXING to ask Google to crawl your new page

Open Search Console and navigate to the URL Inspector tool. Enter your content’s URL and hit return.

Press the View Live Page button. Google will present any issues it finds with your page. Once you’ve corrected the errors, if any, press the Request Indexing button.

  • Bing Webmaster Tools

Submit a URL to Bing -- this triggers a re-crawl

Navigate to the Submit URLs tool and add your URL into the box, then submit.


66. Linkify Your Social Media

AttributePurpose
CategoryPromotion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• An Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat account
Nice-to-Haves• A paid subscription to one of Linktree, ContactInBio, Many.Link, or similar…
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

If you’re on Instagram or Pinterest, you know you’re unable to include clickable links in your posts.

Remember, when you acquire a free lead from a social media network, an angel investor loses its wings.

To get around this limitation, you update your profile link to reflect your most recent promotion.

But if you promote something new every 10 posts, the bio link must also change every 10 posts.

As a result, you turn your earlier promotions (and content) into inaccessible offers, offers that users will continue to discover long after you’ve posted them.

There’s a better way: instead of linking directly to the promotion, link to a mobile-friendly landing page that chronicles all promotions featured in your posts.

Skillshare’s Linktree profile is branded and features their latest offers

Take Action

To keep those old piece of content relevant, use a tool such as Linktr.ee to build a high-speed landing page that features your shared links.

And if you have the time and resources, I recommend you build this page from scratch.

You have full control of both layout and branding only when you build this page yourself.

And by navigating to your domain first, users cache web resources to make their next page visit that much faster.

Whereas with a 3rd-party service, users first load resources from Linktree (or whichever), then direct themselves to your page where they must load your site from scratch.

But regardless of implementation, this tactic improves the quality of your content by keeping it relevant long after its publication.

6 Conversion-Boosting Content Marketing Strategies

You’ve worked hard and created so much content, so you must deserve some conversions by now, right?

Unlike landing pages or your home page, content pages are not direct sales tools.

As I will repeat as often as you need to hear it, the primary goal of content is to build trust. Content builds trust by helping, entertaining, and educating — if it does anything else, it’s called an advertisement.

So why is there a conversion section? The unique combination of free information and trust-building can inspire some readers to move along their buyer’s journey.

For example, you probably discovered me by Googling and ending up on this content bible of mine.

On this page, I demonstrate knowledge of my field, share the nitty-gritty details, and reveal my tactics to you literally as you read them — it’s a vulnerable thing to do.

And if you’re in my target audience, this is the perfect opportunity to move you along your journey by asking you to subscribe to my newsletter, check out one of my courses, or consider one of my services (awareness → consideration).

However, this page is not dedicated to those objectives, and it would look very different if it were. But if this content helps you make a small commitment to our relationship, then it helps me convert.

Here are some content marketing tactics you can try to improve how well your content converts.


67. Use Calls-To-Action

AttributePurpose
CategoryConversion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Be able to embed unique, attractive elements into your content pages
Nice-to-Haves• A way to design and embed reusable CTAs
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

I know, another no-🧠-er, but some content marketers overlook this step or go too far.

At any stage in the buyer’s journey, your content serves a secondary purpose, and that purpose can be furthered by a call-to-action (CTA).

A call-to-action is the ask, the suggestion to your reader to take a step along their journey with your brand.

That step can be of any size: share this post, leave a comment, read another piece, subscribe to your newsletter, start a free trial, buy your product.

Whatever the goal may be, your content should (gently) motivate your readers to pursue it.

Some readers will take that step even if you don’t spoon-feed it to them through a CTA, but reducing the friction between where they are and where you want them can’t hurt, can it?

A great CTA has the following attributes:

  • CTAs should present themselves as CTAs
    If you try to fool readers into clicking your CTA, you give them one less reason to trust you.

  • CTAs should not distract the reader
    Eliminate those nasty pop-ups, those horrid window-engulfing nuisance boxes.

    They’re even worse on mobile where the dismiss button is so small that instead of playing cat and mouse with that X in the corner, I just go back and choose another search result.

  • CTAs should be in appropriate locations
    Place and reveal CTAs where they are most relevant to the reader.

  • CTAs should guide the cursor, the eye, and the mind
    Your CTAs work best when they attract with value, rather than when they distract with flare

And if you’ve organized your content properly, applying this tip shouldn’t be an issue.

Take Action

The simplest CTA you can create is a text link; it might read, “Sign up for my newsletter!” Your link takes readers to a sign-up page and the conversion happens there.

And you can go through your content and find appropriate places to add text-based CTAs. The problem however, is that text CTAs usually go unnoticed… like tears in rain22.

Most content pieces include dozens of links, so the average reader is used to seeing them everywhere. Another link buried among the rest is hardly a knock-out CTA.

That’s why I recommend you make your CTAs stand out enough that readers identify them as ‘other.’ Content… Content… Content… OTHER Oooh, shiny! Content… Content…

Use outlines, font styles, images, colors, and more to help your CTAs pause the reader’s flow in an attractive, meaningful way.


68. Assign a Brand Goal to Each Piece of Content

AttributePurpose
CategoryConversion
Prerequisites23. Set Content Marketing KPIs
30. Track Every Piece of Content
Requirements• N/A
Nice-to-Haves• N/A
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Occasionally, I come across a piece of content that aims a CTA shotgun at reader eyeballs: tweet this quote, download this hands-on guide, try this free tool, subscribe to this newsletter, play with McMittens the office-cat, and more all within scrolling distance of one another.

The mixed-messaging approach provides several ‘outs’ for a reader to perform a valuable action, but increases confusion and introduces cognitive noise.

The CTAs draw the reader’s focus to an unnecessary amount of choices and as a result, muddies the content’s purpose and weakens its effectiveness.

I have an example in mind but I don’t want to call them out by name; they’re great folks whom I just happen to disagree with.

By assigning a single goal to each piece of content, whether it’s a brand KPI or to be a guiding hand along the buyer’s journey, it helps you apply CTAs with precision — which also makes it easier to calculate ROI for each piece.

By including too many actions (as in the example above), the brand has made it difficult to determine the content ROI.

They need to look at the number of tweets posted, guides downloaded, tools tested, newsletters subscribed to, and office-cats played with to discover what, if anything, the content is worth.

Whereas if you focus each piece on a specific goal, you ease your workload and provide a polished reading experience.

Take Action

If you have your full list of content pieces at the ready, then you’ve already assigned a KPI or brand goal to each one — if not, revisit 9. Perform a Content Audit and 30. Track Every Piece of Content.

Visit each piece and see whether the page nudges readers toward one specific action.

If the CTAs are all over the place, consider removing accessory calls-to-action and focusing on the one behavior that your content is most likely to inspire.

That one action should be based on the target persona’s desires and their stage in the buyer’s journey.


69. Increase The Content-To-Calls Ratio

AttributePurpose
CategoryConversion
Prerequisites• N/A
Requirements• Ability to add/remove calls-to-action from any page on your website
Nice-to-Haves• Ability to notice when your content is pushing a hard sell
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

Some marketers treat CTAs like an Israeli treats hummus: they put it on everything.

Related posts? Slap a CTA on it. Comment section? CTA. Empty spot on the navigation bar? Hit ‘em with a CTA, baby!

“Don’t let the CTA hit ya where the good lord split ya!”

As a result, these people water their content down with calls-to-action; the content-to-calls ratio (C2C) is an approximate ratio of actual content to calls-to-action found within that content.

Look at a typical blog and you might find email captures in the sidebar, in the navigation, in a popup, below the post, within the post, above the post, and everywhere in-between:

Don’t you hate visiting sites like this? So do your readers

You shouldn’t do this because cluttering your content with CTAs introduces cognitive noise (stuff that gets in the way of your reader’s enjoyment).

For repeat visitors, the static CTAs found on every page end up unnoticed and fade into the background.

But for new readers, the barrage of house ads can prove overstimulating and act as barriers to trust.

And by calling attention to a number of distracting elements, you may increase the chance a reader completes an action, but decrease the chance of that reader building a lasting relationship with your brand.

CTAs are buy-nows, sign ups, don’t-wait-another-second-call-outs that push the hard sell.

Meanwhile content, while certainly capable as an indirect sales tool, is meant to provide information and entertainment.

Readers expect content from content and only begrudgingly accept that the majority of content providers litter their sites with ads, calls-to-action, and 8 Mb of JavaScript that seems to never stop loading.

Take Action

Be the exception and reduce CTA counts to this simple ratio: for every 1,000 words, you can show one CTA. Just remember this ratio, 1000:1.


70. The ‘One More Thing…’ Technique

AttributePurpose
CategoryConversion
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• The ability to reveal a last-chance offer through your site
Nice-to-Haves• A tool like the Popup Builder for WordPress, or Privy for Squarespace
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

When a desktop user prepares to leave your site, an exit-intent script can reveal a popup window to offer the user one last opportunity: something of value.

Ideally, and I’m speaking for myself here, the exit-CTA remains consistent with your content’s CTA: it offers the same thing but in a more enticing way.

I recommend your content features an exit-popup that reinforces your content’s core CTA.

If that goal is awareness, then probably cut the popup. But if you’re aiming for newsletter sign-ups, ask them to provide their email and remind them of what they receive in return.

The best way to do this is to offer something in addition to what is available in the body of the content.

If three on-page CTAs go unclicked, popping the same one up for a 4th attempt is just desperate.

But offer something new and the reader may pause to think it over.

Take Action

Using a tool such as Popup Builder for WordPress or Privy for Squarespace, create unique exit popups for your content.

Exit-popups catch the eye by dimming the content and drawing powerful focus from the reader. Use these popups sparingly, do not show them to the same user more than once.

Most tools have a cooldown period or option to prevent the user from seeing the same popup again, please for the love of all that is holy: enable these features.


Okay yeah, but here’s the thing… I’m a hypocrite? Actually, we’re all hypocrites, and unfortunately not hippogriffs23.

And while I personally do not use or promote popups, I cannot deny that they work. If this is a tactic you choose to employ, I won’t judge you.


71. Offer a Content Upgrade

AttributePurpose
CategoryConversion
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
46. Go Big
56. Automate Your Content
Requirements• Understand how to use automated email workflows
Nice-to-Haves• A way to convert your content to PDF, ePub, or other downloadable formats
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

Content upgrading is the practice of offering a fuller, more-complete version of your content behind a gate (What Is a Content Gate?).

In this post, you’re reading all 75 content marketing strategies and tactics. But I could have cut the number to 60 and held the remaining 15 hostage until you forked over your email.

As a result, this tactic gives the reader an instant reward for subscribing. Whereas the typical approach is to simply ask them to subscribe to your newsletter and offer them nothing in return.

Why do marketers expect readers to give them their contact info in exchange for nothing more than what they can already find on the website… for free?

If your content is phenomenal, maybe that’s all it will take, but that alone won’t build a thriving subscriber list.

Take Action
  1. Assuming you have a large piece of content (46. Go Big), lop off a few pieces of that before publishing it to the web,
  2. Offer the full thing as a PDF, eBook, or some other downloadable hidden behind a content gate (What Is a Content Gate?),
  3. Profit.

But by converting through a content upgrade, readers expect their inbox to suffer a barrage of hard sales pitches — so the reader’s unsubscribe finger is primed and ready.

If you employ this tactic, out of mutual respect, please give readers an opportunity to opt-out of your marketing as soon as they receive the complete content.

And if you diffuse the situation immediately, you might even keep those itchy unsubscribing fingers in their holsters.

For example, try leading with something like this in your email:

Look, I know you probably just want my Complete Collection of Purrfect Lullabies for Sleepless Kitties, and I’ve attached it to this email.

But here’s three reasons to keep your paws off that unsubscribe button…


72. Do an A/B Test

AttributePurpose
CategoryConversion
Prerequisites5. Set Up Web Analytics
Requirements• At least 100 visitors per day on pages you plan to experiment with
Nice-to-Haves• Access to Google Optimize, Optimizely, or similar…
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

I may not be a scientist, but I’ve been known to say words like, sample, standard deviation, and, the genetically-modified super-penguins will dominate life on Earth in 3 days, and you’re the only thing that can stop them, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Isn’t pretending-to-science fun? And the most fun science to pretend-do is data science!

Data scientists study data, think of them as epidemiologists specialized in behavior metrics.

They look for trends in large piles of information to predict future user behavior. And A/B testing is one of their fancy techniques.

A/B testing presents modified versions of your webpage (variant B) to a fraction of visitors, e.g. 1 out of every 8 readers.

When this user group visits the page, they see something entirely new or different than those who receive variant A (7 of the remaining 8 visitors, in this example).

After running the test for a bit, you compare the actions taken by the two groups to discover if a change in design, copy, or layout inspired a desirable change in behavior.

And nowhere is this technique more valuable than pages featuring CTAs. If you’re anything like me, you place CTAs within your content — and if you don’t, you should (67. Use Calls-To-Action).

Your CTAs tempt users to sign up, start a free trial, buy a product, or convert in some form.

If you’re not seeing the numbers you expect, then test out some conversion-rate-boosting ideas by performing an A/B test.

Take Action

If you’re not a trained scientist, and let’s face it, you’re probably not, then you use the term “experiment” like my grandmother uses an old pair of dentures: loosely.

Statisticians and data professionals understand how to control for variables, separate signal from noise, and follow the scientific method — you and I do not.

But to emulate their skills, follow these guiding rules when playing with your My First Data Science Kit:

  • Sample Size
    Target at least 10% of your visitors with the experiment and aim to have at least 100 visitors per day on the affected page(s).

  • Duration
    If possible, run your experiments long enough to avoid hourly, weekly, and seasonal biases.

  • Keep It Simple
    Leave the rest of your page as untouched as possible. If you continue to update content during the experiment, you may skew results.

  • Control The Audience
    Decide which segment your experiment targets: first-time visitors, repeat visitors, existing customers, etc.

    Do not lump every site visitor under the same group unless the experiment affects all segments equally (this is unlikely).

  • Track One Behavior
    Look to optimize a single action: sign-up, checkout, share. Don’t read too deep into other metrics just to find a win. Keep the experiment as focused as possible.

If you’re not sure what to experiment with, consider this list from QuickSprout.

3 Relationship-Building Content Marketing Strategies

You’ve done all the SEO tricks, zeroed in on your brand’s focus, came up with a bunch of ideas, wrote some great stuff, promoted the crap out of it, and made it rain conversions from the heavens.

The fun is over.

It’s time to do the hard work, the personal work, the work you can’t always automate. It’s time to build customer relationships with content.

It’s not fun, but it’s the most rewarding.

And pretty much every marketing statistic on the planet will tell you it’s better for your bottom-line to pamper your existing customers than to fish for new ones24.


73. Present Content at Pivotal Moments

AttributePurpose
CategoryRelation(ship)
Prerequisites26. Study Your Buyer’s Journey
56. Automate Your Content
Requirements• Be able to spot pivotal moments along the buyer’s journey where content may deepen the relationship between customer and brand
Nice-to-Haves• An email marketing tool with powerful automation features such as Mailchimp, MailerLite, and others…
Technical DifficultyTechno Weeny

You’ve been around the block, so you’ve heard of marketing automation, right?

In fact, if you’ve read this entire piece, you learned about it earlier during 56. Automate Your Content.

To quickly rehash, marketing automation is fancy-talk for a technology that performs marketing tasks based on digital triggers, triggers such as an abandoned cart, a newsletter sign-up, a page visit, etc.

Unfortunately, the majority of automation revolves around the sales process and how to put more calls-to-action in front of the customer.

However, as a content marketer, you can use the same digital triggers to send personalized, relationship-building content at the perfect moment.

For example, if you can receive a trigger when a product finds its way to the customer’s door, that is a great opportunity to send a fun how-to guide to their inbox with product instructions.

But even if you can’t automate these behaviors, you can also do it by hand.

Take Action

Use automation to deliver perfectly-timed moments of content joy.

For example, a toothbrush manufacturer can send an email every 3-months reminding customers to replace their brush-heads, and they throw in this Meryl Streep gif for fun.

Unfortunately, nearly all brands with access to automation tools can pull off this little trick.

So acting on unique and valuable triggers requires you to dig a little deeper. And if the drag-and-drop solutions can’t get you there, you may need to hire a web developer.

But the extra effort you put into these triggers can prove worthy.

Remember, most organizations rely on the same marketing tools, which means they respond to the same available triggers.

As a result, modern customers now see these automated responses coming a mile away. Sending them something truly novel is going to take work.

But if you can’t afford to build a super-nifty automated system, just send these materials by hand — and if you ask me, that extra human touch makes it even better.

Look for creative opportunities to fire off content unique to each customer: content that brightens their day, builds their brand loyalty, and inspires them to reinvest down the line.


74. Make an FAQ

AttributePurpose
CategoryRelation(ship)
Prerequisites1. Build a Website
Requirements• Knowledge of, or access to someone who possesses the knowledge of common customer questions
Nice-to-Haves• A CMS or third-party tool that allows you to continuously update and add FAQs
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

The frequently asked questions section of a website is a great opportunity to engage your customers.

It might seem like a trivial piece of content, but if made searchable and stocked with valuable answers, your FAQ can reveal a slew of positive brand qualities.

When your FAQ answers every question the customer can possibly think of, they feel like you have taken the time to truly understand them.

If you take a step further and reply meaningfully and directly to each question, customers will perceive you as open, honest, and capable of answering difficult questions about yourself.

Often, one of the most challenging things to discuss is price. Let’s take a look at a common question one might ask of a product requiring a service level agreement (SLA): how much does the service cost?

And the marketing team comes up with two possible answers. Answer one reads,

We have a variety of tiers available to fit any budget! Speak with a sales representative today to explore your options.

And answer two goes,

Our highest service tier is $9,499 per month, middle is $4,299 per month, and our lowest is $1,449 per month.

We understand that you’re always watching the bottom line (we are, too!); and based on these prices, it may seem that Cool Co. is actively trying to shrink yours.

However, we offer flexible plans that deliver the service you need without bloating your budget, speak to a customer representative to learn more.

Or click here to learn how signing up with Cool Co. has saved our customers thousands of dollars in the long run.

One of these responses evades the question, shows fear, and leaves the reader rolling their eyes: yeah, you probably know which one.

Response two first answers the question as succinctly as possible, then presents the reader with alternative pricing plans and acknowledges that the brand operates at a high price point.

Rather than lay a marketing trap to spring on the lead at the last possible moment, this brand gives readers the opportunity to make a decision for themselves — this answer builds trust.

FAQs are content pieces, content that helps readers and provides an opportunity to build your relationship with them by showing that you listen and you’re doing your best to give them all the facts.

An FAQ is more likely to apply to B2Bs than consumer brands, but in some cases, an FAQ is appropriate to help educate consumers on new product concepts (see Imperfect Produce for example).

Take Action

If you use a site-builder or CMS, creating an FAQ is no sweat. Add a new page that lists every question in a table of contents, and answer each question to the best of your ability.

Before you can do that, you need to gather the questions. If you rarely interact with customers, you may need to source these from the sales team or someone who has direct access to your clientele.

If you want to take this to the next level, use a customer service tool to centralize this knowledge. Tools such as Zendesk Guide, Intercom, and others can help every employee read, use, and contribute to your brand’s knowledge base.


75. Arm Your Frontliners

AttributePurpose
CategoryRelation(ship)
Prerequisites30. Track Every Piece of Content
74. Make an FAQ
Requirements• A customer service team, dedicated CSRs, or account managers
Nice-to-Haves• Customer service software that you can integrate with your content library
Technical DifficultyHip Grandma

The people on the frontlines are your sales team, your customer service team, and anyone that speaks directly to prospects or existing customers (even on social media).

Arming them means building a searchable knowledge base from which they can pull content without even blinking.

If you’ve gone through the trouble of building a stockpile of valuable pieces, don’t let it sit there waiting to be discovered like some 1950s Hollywood starlet.

Organize your content into an accessible library that you can filter by target persona, buyer stage, or even simple search terms.

You must do this because your content is probably all over the place, which means you can’t assume every frontliner knows exactly where to find the right piece of knowledge at the right time.

A random Google Doc, page 4 of some PDF, an eBook in a Slack thread, or a tweet which answered a burning FAQ — your team should have a standard way to access this hodge-podge of content.

Armed with every piece of content you’ve produced, your frontliners appear to perform magic by providing answers for every concern. This makes them, and by extension, your brand appear thoughtful and considerate.

Again we see content’s ability to build trust; by having your frontliners deliver that content, you bring the added human connection and personalized effort that customers love to see from brands.

Take Action

Using a customer service knowledge base tool such as Zendesk Guide, you can build a library of shareable content that any team member may access.

Without a tool like this one, the alternative is a living document on Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other platform where you track each piece of content along with a description providing its value and purpose.


You actually made it down here? I feel like you’ve earned a prize, but all I can do is ask you a question: what did I miss?

If you have a content marketing tip, tactic, or strategy that I need to explore in this list, leave a comment or reach out to me at stanley@upfrontmarketer.com.

Thank you for reading and if you found this list valuable, please share. 👍

References



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