I won't pull any punches: I started, and it took a while to stop. That is to say you're about to dive into a pretty in-depth post (that's a nice way of saying "long") about content marketing, one which you may want to bookmark to read later. But I think it covers most of the aspects of content marketing that modern inbound marketers need to consider, beyond the basics of simply writing content optimized for the web.
Webpages. What’s the difference between a normal webpage and a webpage that is content marketing? Consider The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz, a provider of SEO related tools and resources. This resource, offered for free, has been viewed millions of times, bringing in countless customers who otherwise might never have stumbled across Moz and the services they offer. Or take a look at a case study from the design firm Teehan+Lax. Most case studies are boring. Their case studies are fascinating. That’s the difference between simply putting content on your website, and content marketing.
The most important thing that you need to do in the body of your sales letter, of course, is persuade the reader to act. First, be sure you come right out and say what you want the reader of your letter to do, whether it’s to call you or come into your store. Second, make it easy for them to act. Set a deadline for the expiration of your offer, throw in a free gift, or, if it’s appropriate, make a moral plea.
The personal finance site Mint.com used content marketing, specifically their personal finance blog MintLife, to build an audience for a product they planned to sell. According to entrepreneur Sachin Rekhi, Mint.com concentrated on building the audience for MintLife "independent of the eventual Mint.com product." Content on the blog included how-to guides on paying for college, saving for a house, and getting out of debt. Other popular content included in-depth interviews and a series of financial disasters called "Trainwreck Tuesdays." The popularity of the site surged as did demand for the product. "Mint grew quickly enough to sell to Intuit for $170 million after three years in business. By 2013, the tool reached 10 million users, many of whom trusted Mint to handle their sensitive banking information because of the blog’s smart, helpful content."
You're Director of Marketing for an agency that specializes in design solutions for small businesses. You're having trouble attracting customers, though, because keeping an agency on retainer seems like a luxury for a small business. So you decide to create some DIY design tools to help them, you know, DIY. You do some keyword research and notice about 2,000 people are searching for an "infographic generator" every month, so you decide to build one that people can use for free once -- and if they like it, they can create more infographics for free if they provide a name and email address.
If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100 minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
6. Write every day, without fail, no exceptions, no excuses. And don’t edit. Just write, and if you fess it up, find a way to fix it by adjusting the next sentence. Use this exercise to force yourself to write faster and generate ideas more quickly. Then, and only then, once you are done, can you go back to edit your piece. And for the record, this is the way I’ve written this post, and that’s why this last sentence wasn’t exactly the most elegant ever.
At this stage of growth, it's also time to assign dedicated leadership to your content marketing team -- unless you want two dozen people reporting to the CMO. Many organizations hire a Director of Content, VP of Content, Chief Content Officer, or Editor-in-Chief to lead the entire content marketing team. This individual sets the vision for the team, secures budget, hires the right talent, contributes content ideas, solves for growth, and helps coordinate with other leaders across the marketing organization so content marketing doesn't become too siloed.
If you haven't already noticed, you're currently perusing a blog post. Blog posts live on a website and should be published regularly in order to attract new visitors. Posts should provide valuable content for your audience that makes them inclined to share posts on social media and across other websites. We recommend that blog posts be between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length, but experiment to see if your audience prefers longer or shorter reads.
There are several different types of copywriting. One of the most important copywriting tips I can provide you with is guidance on the type of copy you should you master first. Start by mastering short form copy. This could be a short email sales letter, or a short but persuading Facebook ad, or a Google ad. Become a master at crafting concise paragraphs, clever headlines, and catchy taglines.
Great post! In case it hasn’t been pointed out though, AdWords headlines are limited to 25 characters, so your example rewrites wouldn’t fit. This is a really great exercise to do with a character counting tool – fitting everything into so few characters is a real challenge, especially when you sometimes have to include specific keywords that are super long. An added level of complexity are the two 35 character long description lines. If the first line ends in a “.” or “?”, it can be added to the end of the title after a dash (provided the ad isn’t on the sidebar where horizontal space is limited). The second line on the other hand can be dropped entirely on mobile, so anything crucial has to be headline or description 1. A real copy puzzle!
I have just started a business writing resumés and job applications and doing interview coaching. I got my first client through a friend at work who is also my hairdresser. I helped her with some job applications and she recommended me to a customer (cut, foils, blow dry!) who paid me $200 to write responses to selection criteria for a government job. It took me ages to do this but I learned a lot and it gave me the confidence to keep going.