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."
Businesses focused on increasing sales through content marketing should look at traditional e-commerce metrics including click-through-rate from a product-page to check-out and completion rates at the check-out. Altogether, these form a conversion funnel. Moreover, to better understand customers' buying habits, they should look at other engagement metrics like time spent per page, number of product-page visits per user, and re-engagement.
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.
Go back and read the content marketing definition one more time, but this time remove the relevant and valuable. That’s the difference between content marketing and the other informational garbage you get from companies trying to sell you “stuff.” Companies send us information all the time – it’s just that most of the time it’s not very relevant or valuable (can you say spam?). That’s what makes content marketing so intriguing in today’s environment of thousands of marketing messages per person per day.
When businesses pursue content marketing, the main focus should be the needs of the prospect or customer. Once a business has identified the customer's need, information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, email newsletters, case studies, podcasts, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, blogs, etc. Most of these formats belong to the digital channel.
Content marketing is the process of creating valuable, relevant content to attract, acquire, and engage your audience. Buyers and customers today are inundated by more marketing messages than ever before—more than 2,900 per day, by current estimations. This creates an environment of attention scarcity, challenging marketers with the task of producing engaging content that won’t get lost in the static. A well-crafted content marketing strategy places your business in the position of a thought leader, building brand preference as you inform and educate buyers. Providing helpful and entertaining content can form a strong bond between your brand and customers that continues to grow and strengthen over time.
Beginner copywriters can get anxious or intimidated about attempting to craft a 5-page piece of copy, and it could take them weeks to craft this, because being intimidated leads to procrastination or perfectionist tendencies. However, if you craft short copy, you can get it done fast, and you won’t hold yourself back as much. It won’t be as intimidating.
Great list, Sonia. Many of these are new to me. One blog that somewhat fits in this list, is Michael Hyatt’s blog. Since he is the former CEO of a publishing company, he has a lot of great insights about actually getting a book published and how the whole process works. If there is a book in your future, Michael’s blog may be a good place to start. (michaelhyatt.com)
I just wanted to say thanks so much to Sonia and the whole Copyblogger team for throwing my little blog on this list with so many folks I’ve looked up to for so long. James over at MWP gave me my very first guest posting gig and a lot of inspiration before and since. Carol Tice’s timely articles gave me what I needed to believe I really could make a living doing this stuff. Peter Bowerman got me started on the freelance writing idea years ago, and continues to provide tremendous value with his blog too. And no list like this would be complete without a huge mention of the granddaddy of writing blogs, Copyblogger! I’ve learned so much here, and it’s only just begun!
While it's true Google can do a lot of the distribution work for you, it hinges on making smart decisions with your content strategy. In other words, Google might distribute the content you create, but it might distribute it onto page 32. Your job is to make sure as much content as possible appears as high up on page one as possible. This means your writers should be working closely with your SEO specialist to determine what keywords to go after -- ideally a combination of long tail terms and head terms, at an appropriate level of competitiveness given your domain authority and how aggressively you can go after the terms. Of course, that content should also be optimized for on-page SEO to improve its chances of ranking highly.
You always loved my examples and featured my writing in klass discussions. Another student in the klass was the owner of an established software company. He needed help using content marketing to promote a new app they were launching. He said he was in the klass to learn more about what a good nurture series should look like so he could guide his team to doing them correctly.
With the pace of social media and the frequency of blogging, not to mention that many of your content assets will be used across multiple campaigns and teams, a lightweight project management tool is critical. I recommend using a free software called Trello, which helps you organize your content, set deadlines, attach files, and collaborate with multiple teammates. Another great tool for keeping content projects organized from planning to publishing is Zerys -- a content marketing tool with a built-in marketplace of professional writers.
There are several copywriting exercises that you can do at home, in your spare time, that will help you learn the skill of copywriting faster. The reason why the expression, “Practice makes perfect” is said so often, is because it’s true. It’s especially true if you keep practicing the same type of copywriting over and over (for example, practicing writing Facebook ads.)
Notice how the second sentence is somehow less exciting (even though it contains a killer lion?) That;s because the active voice emphasizes the action with “the lion attacked.” In the passive voice, the village is the subject. The agent (the lion that performed the action) is only mentioned afterwards using the prepositional phrase “by the lion.” It’s almost an afterthought.
Low pay. Most content writing positions do not pay well, especially entry level writing positions. Small newspapers or publications are often good places to start in terms of gaining experience and contacts. But often, the compensation will be $10-$12 an hour. The average salary for content writers in the United States is $40,000 a year. Higher paying positions in the content writing field include project managers, online researchers, and proposal writers. However, you will need higher levels of experience to qualify for these positions.
Visual content plays a big role in the success of a content marketing strategy. We've found that The Adobe Creative Suite will set content marketers up with everything they need to lay out ebooks, design infographics, create social images, etc. The team will find themselves in InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat pretty frequently. For a free alternative, try Canva. This lightweight software makes it easy for designers of all levels to create quality visual content -- things like presentations, cover photos, ads etc.