Tag Archive | "Learn"

7 Lessons Copywriters Can Learn from Simply Listening to a Really Good Conversation

The easy part of this process is following the seven lessons below. It’s much harder to find a good conversation. The sad truth is, most of us are terrible at holding even a half-decent conversation. We’re in too much of a hurry. We’re too anxious to get our own points of view across, and we
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Join Us Live to Learn Smarter Ways to Sell with Webinars

When I first heard about “webinar hired gun” Tim Paige, I really was a bit skeptical. I’ve read and watched a lot of sales education, and most of it is a horrible fit for me. Either the tactics feel weird and manipulative (and I’m never going to get the personality transplant I’d need to implement
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Customer-First Marketing: What every entrepreneur and SMB marketer can learn from successful Etsy sellers

Etsy is a laboratory of capitalism that any marketers — especially small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups — can learn from. Here are just a few tips from successful shop owners that can help other marketers who are trying to succeed in an already saturated marketplace.
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What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences.

Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate.

It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own.

After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore.

One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions.

Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims.

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 – Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down.

“Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says.

When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest.

[bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 – Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out.

While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to.

How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching.

Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 – Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest.

“As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes.

This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action.

Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 – Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components.

“I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says.

For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people.

After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships.

[bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 – Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next.

“To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says.

Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses.

“I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes.

Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it.

Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey

By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below).

Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages

To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice.

Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience.

For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

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What Content Creators Can Learn from Professional Artists

Great to see you again! This week was all about art. Some people think of “art” as self-indulgent or impractical, but that’s a dangerous myth. We’re talking about the roll-up-your-sleeves work that adds more artistry to your content — which is what we all need to attract our audiences’ attention in 2018. On Monday, Stefanie
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What You Can Learn about Automated Personalization from Google’s Hilarious Mistake

Personalization can be an effective but challenging tactic. If you’ve ever struggled with personalization, take heart with Google’s hilarious mistake in a recent direct mail piece to our organization. And then learn a few lessons from that mistake to improve the accuracy of your own personalization efforts.
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What You Can Learn about Automated Personalization from Google’s Hilarious Mistake

Personalization can be an effective but challenging tactic. If you’ve ever struggled with personalization, take heart with Google’s hilarious mistake in a recent direct mail piece to our organization. And then learn a few lessons from that mistake to improve the accuracy of your own personalization efforts.
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Act now: your chance to learn actionable SEO and SEM tactics ends soon. SMX East is next week!

SMX East kicks off in just a few days! Why settle for flat SEO and SEM performance? Get actionable SEO and SEM tactics and best practices in retargeting, AdWords scripts, backlinks, adaptable content and more. View the exceptional content in our agenda, then register for the ultimate search…



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Learn to Love Your Existing Content – 5 Ways to Get More Visibility

Posted by JamesAgate

[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]

For the most part, articles on content promotion focus on launching new content.

Today I want to focus on getting the most out of (and in some cases, breathing new life into) existing content.

We frequently see clients that have a variety of content assets already. Where possible, I always advocate using what’s on hand over indiscriminately pumping out new content.

For the following exercise, we need to start by identifying the content assets; we’ll be looking for unloved and underloved assets.

  • Unloved = content that exists but nobody has even noticed it. It has very few links, social shares, and little to no traffic.
  • Underloved = content that exists, was launched, and did okay, but never reached its full potential. (I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve found a piece that we couldn’t squeeze at least one campaign out of.)

It’s important to note that, in many cases, we’ve been alerted to content that’s unloved because it’s essentially invisible but potentially very valuable. One good example of this would be an internal knowledge base that your sales team maintains.

Identifying pages with potential

Often it’s easier to spot underloved content than it is to find completely unloved content.

Our preferred method is to plug a domain into Ahrefs.com Site Explorer, navigate to the “Top Pages” tab (which in their redesign now seems to be called “Best By Links”), and start working your way through the URLs that you find.

A screenshot of Ahrefs Site Explorer with an arrow indicating the Top Pages navigation.

You can also use Ahrefs.com “Best By Shares” feature, which will present all pages in order of their social share count. Again, this can be useful in terms of pointing you towards assets that may perform well with some additional promotion.

I tend to pull together all the URLs that I find so that I can work on them/review in conjunction with other sources.

The other sources being, in this case:

  1. The client (or perhaps colleagues at your company) alerting you to “invisible” content
  2. Google Analytics to identify pages that perhaps get some traffic but have no links or social shares
  3. Sitemap or crawl of your domain

You should now have a file of all of your existing content assets. You’re ready to match these up against any content opportunities in your market that you’ve previously identified, or as a result of evaluating the assets you’ve found and researching the possible opportunities.

This might include things like:

  • Keywords – You’ve identified keywords around certain topic areas that are worth targeting.
  • Broken link opportunities – Perhaps you’ve identified specific broken resources that you’re looking to target. (Shameless plug: our broken link prospecting tool should be launching later this month.)
  • Rich veins of link opportunities – Perhaps you’ve spotted a niche within your market that’s particularly attractive from a linking standpoint.

Now you can assess whether the content you have fits that opportunity. It probably won’t be a perfect match, but is it close enough to not warrant creating a whole new piece of content?

If a new piece of content is truly needed, set that opportunity aside in favor of the others for the moment. Remember, right now we’re just focusing on priming and promoting existing content.

Priming existing content

I did say we weren’t going to be creating new content, but there is some work involved. Unless you get really lucky, the content assets you discover will probably need a little TLC before they’re ready to be promoted.

Repurpose/Reformat

So… I lied. This does involve creating a new piece of content. But, in my defense, you’re taking the meat from an existing asset and creating something that matches the opportunity you’re looking to target.

In essence, you’ll be extracting ideas from a content asset to produce something that’s worthy of promotion. A good example of this might be taking the key ideas from a webinar and turning that into a cheatsheet; this can be promoted as a resource far more easily than a full-on webinar.

Consolidate

This is, by far, the most common scenario. Clients will come to us from other providers who’ve said that 4 blog posts per month is going to change their business. In isolation, most of these blog posts aren’t worth promoting. When consolidated, however, they can become something more substantial.

Improve

This involves enhancing a piece of content that’s nearly there but is perhaps missing a section or two, or could be updated with the latest industry best practices.

Optimize

This could be improving the formatting of a piece to make it more digestible or — perhaps more crucially — adjusting the page to target specific keywords. For example, we’ve just finished working with a client to update and better optimize their existing blog posts for specific keywords that attract huge search volumes in their market. In one case, this meant a solid blog post that was completely unloved now ranks in the top three results for a term that gets searched around 10,000 times per month. These aren’t commercial keywords, but rather informational queries that have the potential to lead people into the client’s commercial landing pages.

Promoting existing content

#1: Reach out to people who’ve shared similar content

A good place to start when promoting content is some proactive outreach. What better place to start than with people who’ve already linked to similar/related content?

This can be quite a manual process: searching various keywords relating to the content, identifying websites that have said content, plugging each URL into Ahrefs, Majestic, or Open Site Explorer to see who links, sifting through to see who’s worth contacting, and then performing the actual outreach.

To this end, we built our (free) Similar Content Prospecting Tool to take the heavy lifting out of this process. You enter the keywords and it finds the content that ranks highest for them, gathers those that link to that content, sifts through and removes the lower-end stuff, and presents the top links for you to review and export, ready for contact.

You can find people who link to similar content or, with the right keywords, you can find people who link to related content. Both groups of prospects may be interested in linking to you.

For example, say you have a piece of content that looks at keeping children safe on their smartphone. You might want to identify those that link to top-ranking content on “Internet safety,” as there’s likely to be crossover. Those prospects will potentially be interested in your content because it fills a gap that currently exists on their site.

For further reading, see: You Can Get Links from Cold Outreach.

#2: Look for broken link opportunities

I know I’ve plugged it once before, but we’re launching Linkrot.com later this month (all being well) and this will automate the process of finding broken link opportunities. For now, prospecting for opportunities can be a largely manual process (take a look at the additional resources linked to below to get a feel for the process). This can be eased with extensions like LinkMiner from Jon Cooper at PointBlankSEO. And of course there are prospecting tools on the market currently that can help with the search, such as BrokenLinkBuilding.com.

Broken link building is extremely powerful and, in my opinion, still under-utilized. For the uninitiated, at its most basic level it involves a) finding pages that used to exist but are now dead and that people have linked to, b) tailoring your content asset to fit that opportunity, and c) reaching out to those that link, to suggest they update their link to your page.

Take a look at this chart:

Bar graph: Publish rate by outreach reason. Broken links at 6.5%, related information at 2.61%, and related topic at 1.76%.

Source: Do Short Outreach Emails Get You More Links?

As you can see, the publish rate (percentage of people who link versus number who were contacted) is considerably higher than with other reasons for outreach.

As a side note, before you go ignoring the other techniques: the pool of opportunities is significantly smaller for broken link building. So, whilst you might convert more prospects into links, there will be fewer prospects to start with.

One of the quickest ways to find broken links manually is to search for resource pages in your industry and scan them for dead pages.

For further reading, see: Broken Link Building Bible, Creative Broken Link Building Strategies, 53 Broken Link Resources.

#3: Devise a new angle

This applies in particular to underloved content assets. Adjusting the niche you pitch can have a significant impact on publish rate.

This may involve more than just adjusting your prospecting efforts and your email template. It’s likely to involve tweaking your piece of content to better fit who you’re planning to target.

A straightforward example would be targeting a different country. Perhaps you’ve had success reaching out to schools in the US. With some adjustments to the piece and to your approach, you might be able to find schools in the UK or Canada that might also find your content useful and link-worthy.

#4: Consider paid promotion

In the past, I’ve recommended offerings like Outbrain and Taboola. In the early days of both of these platforms we actually saw a really good return, but I’m not ashamed to say that we can’t make them work anymore.Animated gif of Leonardo DiCaprio crumpling up a piece of paper and throwing it in the waste basket.

I think this are many reasons for this. Consumers are becoming increasingly blind to these “around the web” links; there seems to be limited quality control in terms of advertisers or adverts so they have become increasingly spammy-looking (which harms clickthrough rates); and finally, due to the surge in popularity, the traffic isn’t all that cheap anymore.

A screenshot of spammy, clickbait-y articles via paid platforms.

One platform that I think is underrated is StumbleUpon Paid Discovery; we find it useful for amplifying content alongside proactive outreach.

I do also like Facebook advertising as a way of reaching very specific audiences. However, we typically only utilize paid media like this where the goals of a campaign go beyond link building because it’s REALLY hard to draw that direct line between your Facebook ad spend and number of referring domains.

#5: Connect your content to a wider story

Yes, I know people say that press releases are dead. Certainly, as a form of link building or the sole method of generating press, they just might be. But for announcing content, they can still be very effective.

We’ve found if you can tap into a developing story and go hyper-focused, then you can A) generate some coverage of your content and B) leverage that coverage for further coverage with some proactive outreach.

You might think this sounds like a technique for a new piece of content, but that’s not so. We’ve recently found this approach useful in campaigns where prospects are indifferent to our standard outreach approach. They feel that the issue we’re talking about either doesn’t matter or doesn’t apply to them. A well-written press release can change all of that.

You’re flipping the issue on its head, making it about the broader story rather than simply a piece of your content. A punchy title, some official stats and a nice quote from the CEO can help generate some initial coverage. You can then take that initial coverage and use it as social proof in your proactive outreach.

Any questions or ways that you squeeze more juice out of your existing content? I’d welcome them in the comments section below.

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Listen In And Learn How Successful Entrepreneurs, Bloggers And Information Marketers Make Millions Of Dollars Online

The new EJ Podcast Email Newsletter is now up and running. Sign up today and I’ll send you my very best podcast interviews from my archives once week. You will also receive an email as soon as my latest podcast interviews are published. You can unsubscribe from any email at…

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