The War for Influence and Attention: Why Companies Often Lose out to Solo Bloggers

The War for Influence & Attention: Why Companies Often Lose out to Solo BloggersOne of the biggest struggles that companies face is finding marketers that stand out from the crowd, particularly with content creation.

I saw a forum post not long ago where someone asked what blogs they follow for marketing information. Interestingly enough, most of the people that responded mentioned individuals rather than company blogs.

Isn’t it interesting that when it comes to influence, solo bloggers often outperform well-funded companies? Some businesses even have 6-7 figure marketing budgets dedicated to online marketing.

So how is it that solo bloggers are able to effectively compete against larger businesses for attention? And what can companies do to create more engaging content? Here are a few things to consider.

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5 Takeaways from Studying Articles that Went Viral on Popular Blogs

bl064b-headerLast year, Twitter announced that they were going to shut down the API that allowed users to display Twitter share counts on their website. Before that happened, I decided to scrape social share counts from some of the most well known blogs that used content marketing to successfully grow their businesses.

I then sorted the data and took a close look at some of the articles that went viral on these blogs. Some blogs have articles that got shared over 10,000 times.

In this article, I take a closer look at some of the most shared articles on these blogs and what we can learn from their success.

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Content Marketing Guide: How 10 Startups Became Thought Leaders & Generated Massive Revenue Growth

Content Marketing Guide - How Top Companies Generate 1000's of Visitors Each MonthContent marketing has been around for a very long time, but has grown sharply in popularity in recent years. Google’s crack down on just about every easy link building tactic and the growth of social media marketing have made content marketing a compelling choice for growing a business.

Content marketing can benefit just about any business. By creating useful content targeted towards your desired audience, you can generate more leads, become an authoritative source of information and build brand awareness.

More website content through activities like blogging and tool creation can also result in more traffic through search engines, social media and people sharing your content with others.

Why Develop a Content Strategy?

A lot of people think that content marketing is just blasting content out on a blog, but developing a documented content strategy often produces much better results.

According to Content Marketing Institute, only 35% of organizations have a documented content strategy. Out of those with a documented strategy, 60% say that their organization is effective versus 32% with only a verbal strategy and 7% for organizations with no content strategy.

For Small Business Ideas Blog, traffic grew at a slow rate when there was no strategy at all. Once I approached blogging more strategically, traffic increased considerably, including a 1,310% increase in 2014.Read More

Content Creation Strategies

pencil2-250x100One of the biggest challenges for content marketers is coming up with ongoing ideas for content creation. Many businesses that are failing with content marketing are just creating content on the fly without a plan. When developing a content creation strategy, you need to:

1. Create content that will drive quality leads to your website – Content marketing is expensive and poorly targeted content can result in leads that will never convert into customers. Your content should be focused around the interests of an audience that is likely to purchase your product or service.

2. Create content that will generate traffic and engage your current audience – Ideally, you will want to create content that is useful to your audience and compelling enough that they will share it and possibly even bookmark it as a reference.

Here are a few popular ideas for content creation:

 

1. Scheduled Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorming one a regular basis is a great way to develop ongoing unique content ideas. The key to this strategy is to schedule these sessions regularly and set aside time in a distraction free environment where you can do a dedicated brainstorm.

 

Some tips to make this work better.

– Define your objectives and content scope – Be sure to know your audience, how your content aligns with your goals and your promotion strategies.

– Keep up with the latest news and other blogs – Keeping up with what other influencers in your niche are doing and the news can help you come up with new ideas. Some of your ideas might be responses to recent news or other blog posts

– Involve a team – You may be able to come up with more and better ideas if a team is involved.

 

Note that this strategy is different from think of content ideas on the fly. The key to making this effective is to schedule regular sessions and prepare your content calendar in advance.

 

2. Case Studies / Share Your Journey

Doing case studies is another great way to create content on an ongoing basis. Some bloggers are experts that are simply sharing their results and their journey as they go along.

The reason that case studies are effective is that they showcase real results, rather than just simple advice. Results and real numbers make your content more compelling and believable.

You can also share your journey towards a long term goal, providing details of your successes and failures along the way. This format has proven to be effective for increasing email sign ups. You can think of sharing your journey towards a goal as an ongoing case study or a series of case studies.

 

Some examples of case studies type posts include:

Groove HQ, a help desk software, has done an amazing job of building their platform by sharing their growth journey. Here are a few examples of successful posts written by CEO Alex Turnbull:

How We Got 2,000+ Customers by Doing Things That Didn’t Scale  – This post by Alex explains how Groove grew their customer base to over 2,000 customers by focusing on things that don’t scale. Some activities included focusing on acquiring customers one at a time and building relations with influencers individually.

The Power of Testimonials (And How We Get Great Ones) – In this piece, Alex explains how Groove HQ got great testimonials from customers and how it increased signups by 15%.

 

On my own blog, I’ve shared a few wins including how I got a flood of traffic from LinkedIn groups and also how I got my boards and Pinterest account ranked in Pinterest search, resulting in hundreds of new followers.

 

3. News

Some websites focus exclusively on providing the latest news on a topic, but for content marketing, you can also provide editorial insight or discussion on popular topics.

Commenting on news can be an easy way to get ongoing content ideas, especially if there is a lot of controversial news for your niche.

 

Examples:

Search Engine Land has become a known resource for marketers looking to keep up with the latest news about the search engines, including commentary on studies by known third party sources. Their Search Cap roundup also features high quality articles about SEO from other blogs.

Search Engine Journal also features important news written by staff writers, but also integrates articles sharing marketing tips and perspectives from known experts.

 

4. Podcast Interviews

Interviewing people on a podcast can be another effective strategy. Sometimes the person you are interviewing will also help you promote your podcast. A successful podcast can also get a lot of new visitors from ITunes and Sound Cloud.

To succeed at podcasting, you will need to create a strategy for determining how to find new people to interview on an ongoing basis or topics to talk about, how you will promote your podcast, and other details like how long will your podcast be and how often will you publish.

Some people actually prefer audio content to reading, so podcasting can help you reach new audiences. Plus, it’s less competitive than blogging since there aren’t as many podcasters as bloggers.

 

A few tips:

– Keep an eye out on other podcasts to see who is being interviewed

– Book authors often like to promote themselves when they are releasing a book, so build relationships with publishers and reach out to them if you see someone that might be a good guest for your podcast

– Follow blogs and news feeds and keep an eye out for interesting new personalities.

 

Example:

John Lee Dumas quickly became a leading podcaster in the business category by doing a daily podcast.

Each time a new podcast is released, views and downloads will spike upwards and sometimes the people getting interviewed will also share the podcast with their followers. Since John published daily, it didn’t take long for him to become the #1 business podcast on ITunes.

 

5. Content Curation

If you read a lot of blogs, then content curation might be a good idea. You can share the best news, posts or developments in your market with your audience or provide additional insight into posts that other people have written.

To curate content, you need to be well informed about the best and most recent content in your niche.

Subscribing to news sites and authoritative blogs in your niche can help you keep up with the latest. RSS readers like Feedly can also help you monitor interesting developments across multiple blogs and websites.

Regularly checking in on community sites can also help. For example, Inbound.org and growthhackers.com are community sites where people can submit marketing related content and vote for the best articles.

Social media communities can also surface interesting content. Just follow other content curators that are active in your niche. In Google Plus communities, for example, people can vote for articles they like by clicking the “+1” button.

 

Example:

Ana Hoffman does a great job of content curation, which covers the latest news in SEO and social media marketing. You can find the most recent one by going to her blog and then scrolling down a little to her Weekly Marketing Skinny.

Note that she doesn’t just share a few links, but also goes into some detail and covers a lot of what’s new in digital marketing. In other words, she’s created a go to resource for marketers looking to keep up with the latest developments.

Plus, it gives her something to blog about each week.

 

Content curation doesn’t have to be a regular activity. Kapost created a popular compilation of content marketing statistics in this post. They gathered interesting and useful information from multiple sources and put it in one place.

 

6. Research, Experimentation & Analysis

Sometimes you can create really interesting content by doing your own research or experimentation. If you are really observant, you can even create interesting content by pointing out and explaining things that most people might miss.

Taking the time to research something or run your own experiments. Although research and experimenting can take a long time, having real results can allow you to produce more believable and authoritative content.

 

Examples:

One of my most shared posts for 2014 was a post about how writers are getting featured on LinkedIn Pulse. While it wasn’t my longest post, it took a long time to research and gather the data that allowed me to create the post.

I also used the information to get 1 out of 3 posts featured on a content channel on LinkedIn and will write a follow up article on the topic.

 

Moz regularly studies and releases data about various aspects of digital marketing. For example, their annual survey of professionals in the online marketing industry is a useful resource that gets shared regularly and brings them plenty of traffic each year:

http://moz.com/blog/announcing-2015-online-marketing-industry-survey

 

7. Repurposing Content

Another strategy that has been used effectively is to repurpose content, which can include your own content or third party content. For example, a lot of people like to create infographics from research data released by Econsultancy and other research organizations.

There are plenty of ways to repurpose old content. You can turn blog posts into infographics. You can turn podcasts into blog posts. You can even take a bunch of blog posts and combine them into an ebook.

Repurposing content is an easy way to get more leverage out of your old content usually with less work than creating brand new content.

 

Example: Referral Candy experienced a bit of success when they created an infographic out of a popular post on my site. Their infographic got over a thousand social shares. They later created a Slideshare using the same content, which got featured on the front page of Slideshare.

Note that when using content from other people’s blogs, it’s a good idea to ask them beforehand and to link back to the original source.

 

Example #2 – This infographic  (click to enlarge) from KissMetrics about how colors affect conversion rates got shared thousands of times and uses data from multiple sources, which are cited at the bottom of the infographic.
Color Conversion Infographic - Kissmetrics

Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/how-colors-affect-conversions

8. Social Media or SEO targeted content

You can actually intentionally target content for SEO or social media sharing. The idea is to base your content creation on what is most likely to send SEO or social media traffic.

A lot of people will do keyword research after they write their blog post so that they can get search engine traffic. People that create SEO targeted content will do keyword research first and then select what to write about based on what people are already searching for.

For a blog post to get shared a lot on social media, creating a compelling headline is very important. This blog post by Andy Crestodina gives a good overview of how you can create an effective headline for your content.

You can also select content based on what is getting shared on social media. Tools like Buzzsumo allow you to search for different keywords and see what is popular.

Example:

Brian Dean from Backlinko is an SEO expert and he created content that was specifically created to get SEO and social media traffic. As a result, traffic to his blog skyrocketed in a very short period of time:

 

Backlinko Traffic - SEM Rush

Source: SEM Rush

 

These are just a few of the most popular content strategies, but if you are looking for more ways to generate content ideas, then check out this list of over 100 blog post ideas.

Note that you can combine a few of these idea into your content creation process and that most successful content marketers use more than one of these tactics.


Content Marketing Guide

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Promotion and Conversion Tactics for Content Marketing

Promotion & Conversion TacticsCreating content is only one aspect of content marketing. You will also need to develop a good promotion strategy and a strategy to convert your new leads into paying customers.

 

Promotion Tactics

Asides from a good content creation strategy, you will also need a promotion strategy that complements it. Here are a few ideas:

 

1. Epic Content + Outreach

If you’ve decided to spend time creating long form authoritative content, then email outreach might be a strategy you want to consider.

You can use a tool like SEMRush to see who linked to similar articles and then inform those bloggers about your content.

Buzzsumo is another tool that you can use to identify people that shared similar content on social media.

Finally, a tool like Buzzstream can help you keep track of and manage your email outreach efforts.

 

2. Influencer Marketing

Collaborating with influencers is another way you can get your content shared. A few ideas include linking to their blog posts in your articles or organizing an expert roundup.

For the best results, figure out how you can build a real relationship with other influencers and help them out. Even highly successful people and companies have things they need help with, including increasing sales and time/resource management.

 

3. Guest Posting

If you want to focus heavily on content creation, then guest posting might be a good promotion tactic to focus on. Guest posting on popular blogs allows you to get traffic and authority from the audience that they built up over the years.

This can be a fast and effective way to build your own audience if you aren’t familiar with other promotion tactics.

 

4. Additional Resources

Here are a few additional resources that you may want to look into while forming your promotion strategy:

40+ Expert Tips for Blog Promotion – This roundup contains a variety of tips for content promotion from over 40 experts.

Guide to Expert Roundups that Get 1000’s of Social Shares – This expert roundup guide explains how to create an expert roundup that gets thousands of social shares and also includes tips from several bloggers that were able to create highly successful roundups on their own blogs.

Blog Promotion Checklist – Adam Connell came up with this blog promotion checklist that provides a few good ideas for promoting your content.

10 Steps to Creating a Winning Social Media Strategy –  Rebekah Radice created this popular guide on how to use social media to drive traffic to your business.

Growing a Social Media Following from Nothing – Matthew Barby shares a case study on how he grew a social media following of thousands from scratch and got thousands of social media visitors. It’s a good read if you want to look into the thought process of coming up with an effective social media strategy.

Advanced Content Promotion Checklist – Vinay Patankar from Process Street created an excellent content promotion checklist, which includes an interactive version that you can use on their site or a downloadable PDF.

 

Conversion Tactics for Content Marketing

A lot of people that get into content marketing create content solely to generate more traffic to their website. But sometimes getting more traffic is not enough.

Your content marketing will be more successful if you have a plan to convert your visitors and subscribers into paying customers. Here are a few conversion ideas that you can use…

 

1. Email marketing

Your readers signed up for your email list to learn more about a topic or problem that your product or service helps solve. Now that they are on your email list, you can market your product to them.

You will want to test the frequency and format of these promotional emails. Some companies will offer a free trial upon sign up or let the subscriber know about an upcoming demo.

 

2. Product Launches

Some content marketers will do product launches, which are limited time sales events. For a product launch, people will often share helpful information for free that gets customers excited about the product.

A product launch will often involve a series of emails and either a webinar or series of informational videos.

The product is open available for a small period of time, usually a few days, and then enrollment is closed.

Note that product launches can also be used on products that are always available. Scarcity can still be applied by having a discount available for a limited time or valuable bonus that will no longer be available if the prospect does not enroll in time.

Most people that do product launches will create valuable content for their newsletter subscribers 90% of the time or more and only launch products a 2-3 times a year. Since they are sharing free content most of the time, this approach keeps their email read rates high so that when they are ready to sell, their prospects are paying attention and perhaps even eager to buy.

 

3. Incorporate your product into your content

Incorporating relevant mentions of your product into your content. The key to making this approach work is to not be too “salesy” with your content.

The content should mostly be aimed at helping your customer, but you can mention your product or service in the content if it makes sense.

Another thing you can do is incorporate a call to action to drive qualified prospects to learn more about your product or service. KissMetrics funnels visitors to try out their product with a clear call to action on top of their blog.

kissmetrics-conversion-cropped

4. Webinars

Webinars are extremely effective when it comes to selling more product.

Some companies use webinars to simply explain the features of the product and answer questions. These webinars will attract prospects that are already interested in your product and are more likely to purchase.

Sometimes potential customers aren’t aware of all the features, so these information webinars can show your prospects how useful your product is, which can result in sales.

Another effective webinar format is to teach your prospect how to solve their problem and then explain how your product can help your customer implement this solution. This format can be a great way to attract prospects who don’t know anything about your product and quickly convert them into a customer.


Content Marketing Guide

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All rights reserved © Small Business Ideas Blog, 2014
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Join the Small Business Ideas Blog Newsletter to stay updated and also get access to member only downloads and content, including special reports, studies and articles I write on other blogs. Some member bonuses include:
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SUBSCRIBE for ACCESS
All rights reserved © Small Business Ideas Blog, 2014
THANK YOU for SUBSCRIBING
Join the Small Business Ideas Blog Newsletter to stay updated and also get access to member only downloads and content, including special reports, studies and articles I write on other blogs. Some member bonuses include:
  • 50+ Free Tools & Resources for Business Automation
  • Study: How LinkedIn Publishers Get Featured on the Pulse
  • How to Build Relations with Influencers
  • and more!
Thanks for signing up for our newsletter. Please check your email and click the confirmation link to confirm your email address and receive your free bonuses.