The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing 2020


View our case studies to see how we do it. 

The Power of Storytelling

Why you need a good story

The average adult spends over 20 hours a week with Digital Media (that’s a part time job!). So how do you get their attention? 

According to HubSpot, in just one minute 1,388 blog posts are published, Facebook users share 2.5 million pieces of content, YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content, Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times, and Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos. 

That’s a lot of stuff. 

So how do you stand out amongst so much published content? Human connection through storytelling.

Storytelling 

A story is not just your history

A story is what you’re doing and telling it in a way that appeals to your audience- creating that human connection. It’s about standing out and creating something audiences will remember and resonate with. Not blending in. 

The Golden Circle

What is The Golden Circle?

Well, Respected Leadership Writer Simon Sink wrote in his popular book Start With Why about how great companies with household names, think Apple or Google, started with the “why.”



Usually companies go from what we are selling, how we are going to sell it, then back out to why to give themselves a mission statement and guide advertising and branding. 

Simon Sink says the Greats go from the Why to the What to the How. Your story should be Why you are selling what you are selling. Why did you want to start this business in the first place? What’s the point?

So, what’s your Why? This should guide your story. 

3 Essential Elements of Storytelling

  1. Characters
  2. Conflict
  3. Resolution

Think of your business’ story like a novel. Who is the main character? This is your customer. What is the conflict? What problem/need does your product solve? And finally, what is the solution: your product or service.

Make Sure the Conflict Fits Your Prospects

Every novel has a genre, and a fan base of readers. If your readers like Sci-Fi, why are you trying to sell them Nonfiction? Make sure the conflict fits your prospects. 

This includes the customers needs, fit, and stage of The Buyer’s Journey.

More Aspects of Storytelling

  1. Emotional resonance: How does your story resonate? Does it leave the buyer sad, happy, inspired, confused?
  2. Concise
  3. Blink Test: On average, readers only look at a website for 3 to 5 seconds before deciding if they are going to stay on the page. Your job is to make those first 3 seconds worthwhile. 

Content Creation Framework

You need to publish content for each of your buyer personas at different stages of The Buyer’s Journey. That’s a lot of content- and a huge undertaking if you are not organized. 

What is a Content Creation Framework?

Definition: A structure of processes for publishing content, front the beginning brainstorm to post-publishing stage. 

How to Build a Content Creation Framework 

1) Conceptualizing content

The first step is coming up with ideas and content offers.

“I’m stuck!” 

We get it, brainstorming is hard. Start with writing down frequently asked questions or important industry knowledge that would help out one of your readers (or a reader you would like to have). 

Focus on the Buyer’s Journey

Stages:

  1. Awareness stage
  2. Consideration Stage
  3. Decision stage

2) Building a timeline

Have a PLAN.

3) Creating workflow

Part of your plan should be your workflow. These are the steps a piece of content moves through from initial brainstorming to post-publish. Who on your team is in charge of each step? Know this. 

4) Reviewing and editing content

Have set intentions! Don’t know what these are? Here, you can borrow ours:

1. Set clear expectations. 

2. Define roles in the reviewal process. 

3. Determine a timeline. 

4. Use a style guide. 

5. Track edits. 

6. Manage progress. 

7. Optimize for search engines.

5) Organizing and storing content

Be purposeful with your naming- everything should be clearly easy to find. Try something like: "Content format - buyer's journey stage - campaign - year"

What are the roles in content creation?

  1. Content management and strategy
  2. Writing
  3. Editing 
  4. Designing
  5. Distributing 

To build your content framework, you’ll need 3 main tools: 

1. CMS 

2. Analytics tools 

3. Planning and internal communication tools

Planning a Long Term Content Strategy

You need a road map. Content creation is big, and if you go in blind you will spend more time trying to get organized than actually creating content. Start off organized to save yourself infinite time in the future. 

3 steps to creating a long-term content plan 

1) Setting marketing goals

Set SMART goals

S- specific

M- measurable

A- attainable

R- relevant

T- Timely 

2) Auditing or assessing your business’ initiatives and assets 

You should have 2 forms of organization.

Content Audit

Organize by these categories:

  1. Content title
  2. Buyer's journey stage
  3. Lifecycle stage
  4. Content format
  5. Targeted buyer persona
  6. Topic
  7. Additional notes

Event-based Content

Organize by these categories:

  1. Upcoming monthly priorities
  2. Initiate overview
  3. Theme
  4. Prospective blog post topics by buyer persona
  5. Inbound marketing campaigns 

3) Identifying the buyer's journey for your Buyer Personas

Buyer’s Journey: The active research process someone goes through leading up to making a purchase

Hey, what was a Buyers Persona again?

HubSpot definition: A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behaviors, motivations, and goals 

Use the buyer’s persona to create content geared toward their needs.

Ex: an Ebook for the awareness stage, a Workshop for consideration stage, and a consultation for decision stage. 

How Do I Come Up with Ideas For Content?

Be a content consumer, too.

Read a lot. 

Brainstorm with peers and creative people. 

Blog

How to create and structure a blog post 

  1. List formula
  2. How-to formula

Blog Post Tips and Tricks:

  1. Write main part of article before intro, just like in an essay 
  2. Stop “keyword stuffing”
  3. White space is your friend 
  4. Sub-headers (H2)
  5. Bold
  6. Multimedia and images 

How to Search Engine Optimize (SEO) Your Blog

  1. Shorten URL and don’t update it
  2. Image alt-text
  3. Meta description
  4. Links: Link out to your own blog
  5. CTAs at top: No one reads to the bottom
  6. Near the most relevant content
  7. End of each post
  8. Pop-ups 
  9. Chat bots

Okay, But How Do I Become A Good Writer?

  1. Editing
  2. Simple language. Research shows simple language actually makes you sound smarter. Cut fluffy words (Ex: very, actually, really…). Run your copy through Hemingway Editor 
  3. Use “you” and “your” to make your writing more individualized 
  4. Don’t use acronyms and jargon 
  5. Don’t be snarky - you don’t want to offend your readers!

Why blogging increases your SEO

Creating content across topics - not so much about keywords anymore

To build topic relevance:

  1. What you want to be known for: Think of a funnel - prioritize what you want to be ranked high for 
  2. Publish lots and lots of blogs that could catch any question on these topics
  3. Link internally 
  4. Think of questions then answer them and make them a blog post: Link every one of these back to the pillar page
  5. Outreach strategy: Guest posts on blogs, back linking 

Hack: featured snippets

What’s a featured snippet?

Featured snippets go above the #1 spot on Google, which increases their visibility. 

Featured snippets are chosen by Google from the content that already ranks in the top 5 positions. Your format is critical. Google needs clean formatting to “understand” the copy. 

How to optimize featured snippets

  1. Gather a list of search queries where your site ranked in top 5
  2. Test for feature snippet on those queries
  3. Examine those websites - what content is getting you the snippet?

Hack: clean headers (H2 as snippet title, H3 as lists) can get google to pick yours as Feature Snippet

Format has to be super clean

  • Ex: numbers should be 1. Not 1)

Historical optimization 

Historical optimization can be a tactic only if your blog has been around for a long time and has a strong subscriber rate. 

  • Google prioritizes freshness; update historical posts every once in a while
  • Pick blogs worth refreshing - ones that are #5 or higher that have “page 1 potential”
  • Publish as new with an editor's note 
  • Track KPIs and SEOs
  • Make post updates a regular part of your blogging strategy 

Extending the value of your content through repurposing

Why repurpose?

Content marketing is, to some people’s surprise, heavily about repurposing what you already have. This means less work for you. 

The rule of 7: Studies show the buyer needs to hear about / be exposed to something 7 times to buy. 

Also, repurposing is another opportunity for SEO results. It gives your voice consistency and a potential to reach a new audience. You can create more consistent content making with less people-- and less writer’s block. 

How to rePUBLISH

  1. Partner with reputable sites
  2. Use slightly different titles and timing when posting on your other social media 
  3. Include links and CTAs
  4. Republish only top content 

How to rePURPOSE

“ACE” method

A: adjust (add, remove, reword)

C: combine (w other content u have)

E:expand (to new topics, bigger topics) 

TIP: Wait 2 weeks to repurpose to give search engines time to find your original piece 

Recycling content into a long-form offer (from a series of short form posts)

  1. What are you going to write about?
  2. Makes topics and subtopics - don’t get attached to your topics if your audience is not going to care about them 
  3. Create content for each subtopic 
  4. Use a template
  5. Format your repurposed blog content into chapters. Tip: Use lists - they are easier to read! And good for Featured Snippets. 
  6. Create the rest of your content!

Tip: Stay super organized in your content so when you go to repurpose, you already have umbrella subtopics to dive into.

Ideas for repurposing:

Let's say you make a guide, you can then repurpose it into…

  • Automated email series
  • Infographic: Video w voice over after automating the infographic
  • Read the content for a podcast
  • Series of social media posts 
  • Checklist

How to get the most out of repurposing 

  1. Identify what you have that is performing well
  2. Modular process - try categorizing by type not topic (ex. have facts all together, lists all together, instructions, step-by-steps, etc.)
  3. Creation - custom branded infographics
  4. Make everything scalable 

Creating Topic Clusters and Pillar Pages

search engines are smarter now - not as much centered around key words but around the topic the researcher is looking for

Pillar Page Layout 

Have a PDF - human nature is to want to take stuff home with us ; possessive

  • Can have them submit email address to download PDF then start connection with them 

You should have 1. A PDF and 2. A website page with your 10x pillar page 

  • Remember, design is just as important as the content 

Outreach / Linking

Only link out if you have an outreach plan where they are going to link you too; also consider what is better for the reader, not only your business

Link all subtopics to the pillar page 

Not every subtopic will be mentioned on your pillar page - link out instead to keep it clean

Features

  1. Specific topic referenced to page title 
  2. Specific topic referenced in URL
  3. Specific topic in H1 title
  4. Conversion-focused landing page elements
  5. Anchor-linked table of contents (jump to certain section)
  6. Website navigation
  7. Images with specific topic referenced in alt-text
  8. H2 for sub headers
  9. H3 for list items 
  10. Internal links
  11. External links for credibility - have these open in a new window so they don't leave your site
  12. Reference your topic throughout the page

Where do I put the pillar page?

At the top to promote it for a little while

In a one or two step drop down menu

  • Do not make it hard to find! This is the biggest mistake.

Optimizing your pillar page 

Your pillar page should always be “under construction”

Consistently update and keep relevant with google trends and keywords


Video Marketing

Stat: In the past 30 days more video content has been uploaded online than the major news networks have created in 30 years” 

Why video?

  1. Adding a video can increase your chances of making it to a google front page by 53x
  • Reduces bounce rate by watching → indicates to google you are worthy 
  1. Personable and can create trust 

Video methodology

Attract, Engage, Delight 

Have a really strategic plan because it’s easy to get off course w video 

Attract

Examples:

  • Short videos that show off your brands personality
  • Thought leadership
  • Brand films that share your values
  • Educational how-to

*NOT about your product 

Engage

Convert your viewers into leads

Examples:

  • A webinar w tactical advice
  • Product demos via email
  • Landing page promotional videos 
  • Case studies
  • Educational in-depth video 

Videos are easier than reading 

Delight 

Make them happy so they tell their network 

Examples:

  • Thank you video
  • Onboarding
  • Library of educational videos (Ex: HubSpot Academy) 

The 3 C’s

Commitment - have x amount of videos over y amount of months

Calendar - video should be routined and scheduled in 

Content - Make good sh*t

Guest Blogging as a Strategy

What is guest blogging? Writing and publishing an article on someone else’s blog 

Reasons to Guest Blog

  1. Expands your audience
  2. Increases referral traffic to your website
  3. Helps your websites SEO

Creating a Guest Blogging Strategy

  1. Write for websites that rank higher on google
  2. Syndicate your educational content
  3. Think critically about link building practices (go in with a plan)
  4. Provide service/friendships w your guest blogging platforms- create relationships; nurture relationships; ENGAGE

Link building best practices

  1. Link to specific pages on your website
  2. Link to educational content
  3. Include the most valuable inbound links near top of the page
  4. Expand your guest blogging portfolio

How to find guest blogging opportunities

  1. Partner with relevant websites
  2. Do your research 
  3. Influencer connections
  4. Domain authorities: choose websites with 21-70 rating first, then try to move up to 70+

How to Secure Guest Blogging

Network. Network. Network. 

How Do I Network?

  1. Use LinkedIn
  2. Tools like Viola Norbert or RocketReach to get their email address. Send a positive note.
  3. Retweet with a comment and tag them. Engage in discussion.

Craft A High Quality Pitch 

Use the guest blogging site’s style guideline

Stay On Top of It

Always keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Make guest blogging worth your time by adding a guest blogger author bio (look at blogs for examples - headshot, elevator pitch, link to your company, link to your socials).

How to Effectively Promote Content

Questions to ask yourself when promoting content:

What do I have to work with?

Use a content audit and planning sheet.

Track what times and frequency work for your company.

Which persona can benefit from this content?

How and where does this persona consume content?

How can I make my content resonate?

Different Channels

Your promotion on different channels should be different. Each social media platform has unique qualities to them, use this to your advantage! 

  • Ex: Twitter is short form, Instagram is photo-based, Facebook has a certain voice, etc

Stay organized

  • Use tools like Google Calendar and Trello to track your content promotion 

10 ways to promote your content organically

  1. SEO best practices: Optimize for topics and keywords, The Topic Cluster method, Backlink opportunities (TOOLS: SEMrush and SimilarWeb)
  2. Bots and messaging apps 
  3. Email marketing 
  4. Social media 
  5. Live events and webinars
  6. Podcast 
  7. Influencer Marketing: Co-creating content
  8. Word-of-mouth
  9. Content Syndication: What’s this? Reposting on other websites 
  10. Content Repurposing: Turn a website into a PDF, a webinar series into an Ebook

Supplementing Organic Content With Paid

Paid content worth your investment:

  1. Google Ads
  2. Social Media / Display Ads 
  3. Influencer sponsorship
  4. Native advertising 

Measuring and Analyzing Your Content

  1. Set SMART Goals
  2. Use Industry Benchmarks
  3. Use Historical Data 

Unpaid Metrics 

Here are the unpaid metrics you should be tracking.

Web page metrics

  • Page view and unique page views 
  • Traffic sources 
  • Bounce rate
  • Referral traffic 

Social media metrics

  • Reach and impressions
  • Engagement 

Email metrics

  • Click thru rate
  • Open rate
  • Subscribers

Conversion metrics

  • Leads generated
  • Conversion rate
  • Close rate

Paid Metrics

  • Quality score
  • CPC - cost per click 
  • CPM - per thousand impressions
  • CPA - costs per acquisition
  • Close rate - tracking which of your leads become customers 
  • ROAS- return on ads spent
  • ROI

HACK: Measure everything with the same metric once you pick it! This helps with consistency and organization.  

Attribution models

Attribution models are super helpful in tracking your metrics. They can show you:

  1. How many leads first enter your blog
  2. Which marketing channels generate the most leads
  3. Which promotional channels are most influential when turning a lead into a customer

Models of attribution

Communicate Goals to Your Team

Make things easy to understand for your team! You are all in this together. But how do I make good goals?

Goal Setting

Good goals are…

  1. Transparent
  2. Collaborative
  3. Goal attainment documentation 
  • Own your goals even if they were not achieved - figure out as a team why this wasn’t achieved 
  • Realistic goals vs stretch goals 

Tools We Recommend

Tools to Use 

  • CMS (hubspot)
  • Analytics tools 
  • Tracking links 
  • Google Docs/Trello
  • BuzzSumo - looking up blogs, articles, influencers, etc 
  • Google search console - get keywords of how people are searching

To build your content framework, you’ll need 3 main tools: 1. CMS 2. Analytics tools 3. Planning and internal communication tools


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