Case Study: More Than Just a Testimonial

You need to put your client or customers’ success front and center. How do you do that? With an awesome case study that shows how your product or service helped improve their business or life.

What is a case study though? A case study is typically a 1-2 page document that showcases the problem that your company solved. Writers create compelling success stories through interviews, data, and creative writing.

Why do they matter so much? A significant number of B2B marketers (40%), cited case studies as the reason a customer or client moved from the bottom of the sales funnel to purchasing.

Here the podcast episode:

Here is the video:

And of course, here is the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute daily shot of business knowledge. Now I know you don’t have a lot of time, so we’re going to jump right into it. Today we’re going to be talking about why you should consider creating a case study for your company website. 

What Is a Case Study?

What is a case study? I can promise you that it’s more than just a testimonial from your customers or your clients. 40% of B2B marketers consider case studies to be the most effective piece of content that moves prospects from the end of the buyer’s journey to actually making a purchase. The next most effective tactic after that are in person events. I promise you for an in person B2B event, you’re going to spend way more than you would spend on a case study. 

So that is definitely a huge consideration. If you’re a marketer who sells high-end products or your high-end services, you have to consider that your next most effective tactic would be an in person event. If you’ve ever organized an event, you know how rough those can be and how exhausting it can be. 

Side note: kudos to those of you who have in person events as part of your marketing strategy. 

Not to be Confused with a Medical Case Study

Case study means something completely different in medical terms, and it’s been adopted into the marketing terminology. So when I say case study, I mean it purely in a marketing sense has nothing to do with anything medical. Please do not confuse the two. So a case study is when you analyze a project or product implementation. For marketing purposes, you’re looking to identify factors that led to the success of that project or the product implementation. 

Some people have services and a case study would be more centered around a project. But then others have products that they sell to other companies. And those products, or that implementation of the product or system, would be the subject of the case study. 

Case studies can also be called customer or client success stories. So if you feel like case study is something that’s a little too esoteric for your website, you could definitely title the page where you keep them as “customer success stories” or even just “success stories” by itself. 

What Does a Case Study Look Like?

When you look at a case study, they’re typically well designed. So you want a graphic designer or somebody who at least knows their way around a Canva. They’re typically one to two pages, and they may or may not have a cover. 

If you do have a cover on your case study, then I would say that your case study should probably be two to three pages: the cover and then one to two pages of main content. 

If you’re going even further and you want this case study to be a lead magnet of some kind, then you might want four pages. You would have the cover, your one to two pages of main content, and then you have the end page. The end page would include your contact information, like social media handles and things like that. If case your case study gets passed around on the Internet, you want to make sure people can easily reach you.  

How Do You Structure a Case Study?

So it typically is set up to introduce the problem and then it moves into the solution that’s selected. And that’s usually the client or customers selecting your company to solve their problem, which was introduced in the first part. So problem, solution, and then outcome. What happened once they chose you and you and you set them up with your services or your products, what happened? The outcome. 

Case Studies are Great Storytelling

What this sets up though is a great story. It often sets up a great story and that’s why case studies are so effective because a client, when they’re at the bottom of the funnel and they’re still with you, that means they’re really leaning towards you.  So we’ve got top of the funnel, we’ve got mid funnel, sorry, we’ve got mid funnel and we’ve got the bottom of the funnel. 

Because case studies incorporate storytelling, it’s something the prospect can use to imagine what it’ll feel like when you’ve solved their problems. the same way that you’ve solved the person or the company in the case study’s problems. That’s why they’re so effective. 

A case study can be that little thing that pushes them. “Okay, yeah, let’s go with this company to solve my issue.”

Use the Client’s Words in Your Case Study

So it typically involves one to two interviews. Ideally you will interview the client, and I don’t really understand how you could do it without interviewing them because you want to use actual quotes, their words in the case study. 

The other person that you’ll want to have interviewed is your project manager or whoever was in charge on that project. So if you’re a very small company, it might be you that needs to be interviewed. But if you have project managers then the project manager on that project will probably be the one who is interviewed. 

What will happen then is that the writer will take their stories and put them together cause you should have a writer work on this. We’ll take them and put them together to create your case study, your customer success story. 

It will be compelling, it will be factual, and those two things together make a great B2B marketing story. 

You also want to include any data points if the client’s able to provide them. And this is difficult. Uh, don’t think that, I don’t understand how difficult. It’s a little bit easier with something like paid advertising because you typically get some metrics that you can use a relatively quickly. 

But in my case, for my industry, content marketing, it takes some time before ROI is shown. So we don’t always have numbers until six to 12 months later, maybe even longer. It just depends. This is not to say your efforts aren’t worthwhile, but you should consider content marketing kind of like your retirement investment account. You don’t have your retirement investment account for one month and then you wake up and it’s got $1 million in it. That’s not the way that it works. 

Case Studies When Results are Intangible

So when I do case studies for services where things are a bit more intangible, we have to dig a little bit deeper and present some of the more immediate results and effects of services rendered. All that takes is some creative thinking. It doesn’t mean that your business is not good for case studies. Your business is excellent for case studies, almost every business is. Not having hard numbers is not a reason not to do a case study. 

How Much Do Case Studies Cost to Have Written?

So big question, how much do case studies cost? It depends. So you may remember the episode we did on how much you should pay freelance writers and our top factors were their writing experience, their industry experience, and sometimes, where they’re located. But the two first two are more important. You could expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $1,700 per case study depending on the writer that you’re talking with. 

If you have an opportunity to pay less, I would say be wary. You are potentially dealing with incredibly an incredibly inexperienced writer or somebody who’s not from the United States. So their English may not be 100%. 

Again, it all depends on who your customer, your ideal customer is. If you are outside of the United States and you are in a country where the quality of the English is not necessarily a factor, then you would probably be fine. If you’re outside of the United States and you’re targeting companies within the US, then the quality of English WILL be a factor. 

So it’s nothing against ESL writers. But that is something that many companies within the United States have to consider. 

So how can you use your case studies once you’ve paid all that money for them. No big deal. Well, it’s kind of a big deal, but content repurposing, that was episode 10. If you haven’t listened to episode 10, you need to go back and listen to the episode on content repurposing. 

Ask the client for a video. A video interview just briefly to kind of cover some of the points that they covered in the case study. 

You could also extract quotes from the client and include them in your blog posts. I them on your social media and style them up as a nice little graphic. You can style them and put them up there on your social media. 

Pull those quotes and place them on different parts of your website. You especially want the ones where they’re talking about how awesome you are. Those can go on your homepage. 

Great for new prospects who are just landing on your website for the first time. So some of the ways that I can think of immediately off the top of my head. 

We are coming to the end of our 10 minutes for this episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. So thank you so much for joining me. If you’ve got any thoughts on case studies, if you think you need a case study, feel free to shoot us a message. We’d be happy to have that talk with you. But until then, I will see you next time.

Top Three SEO Ranking Factors

SEO. Search Engine Optimization. It’s been a buzzword for a long time. If you’re going to run a successful blog for your business as part of your content marketing strategy, then you need to learn about it. I’m sorry, it can’t be avoided. But it doesn’t have to be super hard! There are over 200 SEO ranking factors, but some matter more than others. 

In today’s podcast episode, we’re going over the top three factors that you should worry about (at least once you get the one time factors out of the way). I keep things simple, but you’re going to walk away with some good information!

Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the video:

And, of course, here is the episode transcript:

If you don’t know S-E-O stands for Search Engine Optimization. There are over 200 factors that Google, and likely other search engines, use to rank content. All the tech developments, like artificial intelligence and machine learning, allow search engines to determine high-quality content fairly accurately. So, how can you rank well on the search engine results page (SERP)? With over 200 factors, it’s important to know that some factors matter more than others. And so today we’re going to talk about the top 3 SEO ranking factors.

Why Should You Focus on These Three SEO Ranking Factors? 

The reason why is because if you’re a small business or you’re a larger business with a small marketing team, there’s only so many things you can worry about. So I would much rather you worry about the top three ranking factors if that’s all you’ve got time for. That’s rather than wasting time on some of the less heavily weighted ranking factors. 

Somebody mentioned this on LinkedIn in response to a post of mine. They said that they knew a company that followed the voice search recommendations but didn’t follow basic SEO recommendations for their written content. And obviously that’s kind of backward. Voice search is growing at an amazing rate and it’s definitely going to be something that you have to keep in the back of your mind. Smart voice devices, like Google Home and Alexa, the purchase rates doubled from 2017 to 2018.

We know that that’s going to continue to increase, but you want to make sure that you’ve got your foundation nice and strong, and that’s where these factors come into play. 

What You Need to Know About Voice Search

What do customers purchase when they use their smart home devices? Items like household necessities, electronics, and groceries. Everyday commodities that everyone needs. 

The voice speaker market surged between 2017 and 2018. Smart speaker ownership almost doubled from 21% in 2017 to 41% in 2018. Even more interesting, 74% of smart speaker owners report that they’ve purchased at least one item through their speaker. 42% have purchased three or more items. 

While voice commerce accounts for a small number of total retail sales today, history has shown us it won’t stay that way. 

After all, the first smartphone debuted in 1992 (the Simon Personal Communicator by IBM), and there are millions that can’t remember a time before the world sat in the palm of their hand. 

That means there will soon be a generation that can’t remember a time before they were able to say “Okay Google, order more paper towels.”

Why Does Voice Search Matter for Written Content?

Smart home devices are trying to create a seamless experience. For example, I can ask my Google Home device about Pokemon strengths and weaknesses (I have my kids hooked on Pokemon). My smart device will tell me about the strength weakness combo I’m asking about. But then it also sends a link for the source to my phone. That means I get to go review the information more closely on the source site.

There’s a connection between voice and video too. The goal is to provide the user with the best experience possible.

Some SEO Ranking Factors are One and Done, and Some Are Ongoing

Some of the 200 factors are a one-time fix and then some of them are ongoing. A one-time fix example would be the whole big thing about, “Hey, we’re http and now we’re moving to https.” That was a really big deal, but once you switched over, you were fine. It was done. 

And if you didn’t switch over, then your website got punched in the face for a little while until you fixed it and people stopped getting that alert that your website was insecure. Some factors you don’t have control over. These are the sorts of things, again, that I don’t necessarily want you to worry about.

Things like domain age (how old your website name is), you can’t control. So a website with a domain that’s older typically ranks better. It just depends, but it typically ranks better. But that’s not something you have control over. It’s funny because all of the domains I’ve ever purchased, they were brand new. Nobody else ever had them, so they didn’t have anything on them. 

It’s like a, a teenager out of high school, they don’t have any credit. It’s kind of like that your domain age is almost kind of like website credit if you will. 

One Time Fixes for SEO (for the most part)

  • SSL certificate (Having ‘https’ in your URL)
  • Keywords in your site title
  • Keywords in your Htags
  • Having a sitemap

SEO Factors That Are Out of Your Control

  • Domain age
  • Google crawl speed
  • Competitor actions
  • Algorithm updates

 First SEO Factor: High-Quality Content

So your first top factor is to produce high-quality content. Which is great for me, since I’ll have lots of work. 

Now some people here produce content, and forget the “high-quality” part. That’s a mistake. Google is in Google Docs. It’s on your Google Drive, and it owns YouTube. I mean they’ve got pretty much everything, and they do spell check and whatnot. They have access to all the content that you could ever possibly create. Google knows that high-quality content is preferred, and they’re working these things into their algorithms. 

They know what good content looks like, and you need to make sure that that’s what’s on your website. So people who just put up content before the serious algorithm changes, when the search engine said “Oh, you’ve got content and it ranks for these keywords, good for you.” 

But once the search engine algorithm became sophisticated, they were also looking for quality. You can’t afford to have content riddled with grammar errors or just stuffed with keywords.

Quality Over Quantity Every Time

Well then, all of those sites that put quantity over quality, all of that was a waste. They got penalized by Google and then they got buried. So now nobody will find those websites because Google knows that their users don’t want to see that. You want to put in the work upfront to future proof the content on your site. Quality over quantity, 100% of the time. 

If you’re asking yourself “Oh, this isn’t our best work, should we put it up?” The answer is no, don’t put it up if you know it’s not your best work. Don’t put it up there in front of your clients and your prospects. I’m always of the opinion, one great blog post per month is better than eight crappy posts per month. If you have the team to put out eight awesome blog posts every month, good for you.

But that’s not everybody. Unless you’re outsourcing or you’ve got the internal team and an editor or excellent writers who are also employees, then you’re going to want to ease back. The general recommendation is one blog post per week. But even that, if you know you can’t keep up with one blog post per week and it’s not going to be your best stuff, I would much rather you post one great blog post. We can do something with one great blog post. We can be proud of it. 

Always Think of Your Audience

Let’s say I’m in your social media network, I can share that one awesome post. I’ll be happy to share it. But because I’m sharing that with my network, I can’t share low-quality content.

Also remember that when you’re putting your content into your network, it’s very likely you have people who want to help you. But they don’t want to share stuff that’s no good with their own network.

Focus on value and quality over volume and you will succeed. You can succeed with valuable content even when you don’t post as frequently. The key is to be consistent, whatever that is for you, weekly, monthly, whatever. 

SEO Factor #2: Mobile-Optimized Website

So some of these other ones are a little bit easier, but you want to build a mobile-friendly site. What that means is that it will show up differently on a phone. It’s called a responsive site.

Based on the size of the user’s display, your website will present the content in different ways to make it optimized for mobile. Google does mobile-first indexing. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, then you’re going to be nowhere to be found. 50% or more of search traffic is on a mobile device.

Like, “Hey, I was in the kitchen, let me look this recipe up.” or “Oh, I just remembered that. Let me look this thing up.” Mobile-first indexing: if you’re not optimized for mobile, you’re not showing up.

You want to be optimized for mobile and it’s not difficult these days. When you’re working with a great web designer, they’ll know. They’ll say “Hey, only responsive websites, that’s all we build.” if I was working with a web designer who was trying to charge me extra for a responsive website, I wouldn’t work with them because web designers who know their stuff are only going to build responsive websites. There’s no point in building anything else anymore. 

This could be considered a more one-time factor, but as you add more photos and video to your website, you need to always consider and test how your content assets appear on tablets and phone. Previewing your content on your phone and tablet is the easiest way to see how your readers will see it.

What About Site Speed as an SEO Ranking Factor?

In my opinion, site speed kind of ties into mobile optimized. When we’re checking out a site on our phones, and it takes too long to load, we move onto the next! I just mentioned checking the appearance of new content assets on your phone. Well, when you put really large photos (I mean the file size), it can slow down your site. Too many of these giant photos, and…. yep, your site slows down.

Here’s what my friend Jason Firch (digital marketing and SEO expert) had to say about site speed:

3rd SEO Factor: Backlinks

The final factor we’re going to talk about is backlinks. 

And what that means is, okay, so you’re a website and I’m a website. You found something really awesome on my website that you want to put on yours. When you link back to my blog post that you found the information on that’s called a backlink, from you to me. 

That’s great for me because you just gave me a backlink. You just told Google that I was awesome, and Google pays attention to that stuff. Backlinks are important and this is where guest posting and things like that come in. I believe that was episode 13 that you’ll want to check out in terms of ways to market your blog to generate more business

How Do You Get Backlinks?

Guest posting is one of the ways to get a backlink to your site. Going on podcast interviews is another way, but there’s a lot of ways, a lot of different tactics that you can use. Do what you feel most comfortable with to get out there and build relationships and also end up building those backlinks. They’re incredibly valuable because as I said, they communicate to Google that you’re awesome. So over time the more backlinks a particular page has, it will climb up the search engine rankings

Backlinks are valuable to you, but you don’t just want any backlink. You want valuable backlinks, so you’ll have to go back sometimes and disavow bad links. You can disavow certain links so that way they can’t link to you anymore if they’re spam links, which you definitely don’t want. 

Backlinks also help you build credibility as a professional and as a company. Read more about boosting your company’s credibility through content.

I know I’ve given you a lot to think about in terms of SEO ranking factors. Remember, once you get your one-time (or infrequent) factors out of the way, focus on these top three ranking factors. They can improve or deteriorate over time, each time you post new content on your website.

DTSQ’s Top Digital Media Platforms

So you may not know this, but I’m currently pursuing my degree in Marketing. Many of my marketing classes have me write blog posts on various topics. This is one of those blog posts. Today, I’m supposed to write about my top digital media platforms. I’ve got a few specific things I’m supposed to address, which I’ll use as subheaders. If anything, this may be a good overview of what an online entrepreneur’s social media use can look like.

What sites and/or applications do you visit most often?

This is an interesting question. As a content marketer, I have to walk the walk in terms of content, which includes social media. Social media is a creation and distribution channel, which means it has a unique and necessary place in every business’ marketing strategy. In 2017, social media drove 25.6% of all referral traffic. This was second only to search engine traffic.

My top sites in an average day include:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media site targeted at professionals. Its most obvious use-case is for business-to-business (B2B) companies looking for leads. However, I think that many industries in the business-to-consumer space can succeed on LinkedIn. It’s one of the best platforms for connecting directly with decision makers. You can learn more about LinkedIn in the podcast episode I’ve shared below!

Need to brush up your LinkedIn profile? Check out our infographic post and recommendations!

Instagram

Instagram is a visual social media platform. Anything that’s really visual (meaning you can take pictures and videos easily) has the potential to do well on Instagram. Industries related to fitness or food are great examples. As a result, many B2B businesses won’t touch Instagram. However, I’m making some solid headway on this platform, thanks to the low level of competition.

Twitter

Twitter is a micro-blogging site. You have 280 characters to say what you need to say. Twitter is a great place to syndicate all of your other content channels. You can post video, images, GIFs, and text to Twitter. Twitter is an easy platform to reach out directly to companies and brands that I’m interested in partnering with.

Anchor

Anchor is a podcasting platform. I recently started a business podcast called The Defiant Business Podcast. As a result, I spend time on this platform daily as well. I publish one 10-minute episode Monday-Friday. I’m consistently promoting my podcast episodes as answers to businesses’ questions online.

Do you have positive or negative reactions when using certain types of digital media?

Although video traffic is growing quickly, I often get frustrated when I come across videos that don’t at least have subtitles. I can ready very quickly, so I prefer to read when I’m searching for answers. Audiobooks and podcasts are great though, for when I’m doing tasks that are largely physical. I can listen and learn while doing dishes, folding laundry, or gardening.

Do you find that your needs are satisfied using one type of digital media over another?

No, definitely not. For learning concepts, or learning more about topics I know a lot about, I prefer written content. When I need to learn how to do something physical (like an exercise) or how to put something together, I prefer video. A few weeks ago, I was watching videos on how to remove snakes from chicken coops. Why? Because, for the first time, I had a snake in my chicken coop!

Do you receive emails from companies? If so, what types of email catch your attention? What do you look for?

I do receive a lot of emails from many different companies. I periodically go on a purge and unsubscribe from a lot of them. My favorite emails show they’re adding value to my life right in the subject line.

Ed Gandia’s emails are a great example of this. Ed writes content for and coaches freelance writers. His emails always offer something valuable right in the email, and if you want to learn more, you can click on the link he also shares.

What do you notice about the use of digital media in marketing today? Explain.

Digital media every form is an invitation to the audience to engage with the creator. Or at least it should be. This engagement can translate into several different types of business objectives. However, many companies jump right to the business objectives, which is what THEY want. In order to succeed in the digital marketing space, you have to focus on what your audience wants. Engagement (or lack thereof) tells you if you’ve hit the mark or not.

Free Keyword Research Tools, Yay or Nay?

Some people say that you shouldn’t use free keyword research tools. I have a different opinion though. I explain in today’s podcast why this view isn’t in alignment with most business owners’ budgets and I give you my favorite FREE keyword research tools. 

Content marketing without keyword research is like shooting around in a dark room. You may occasionally hit something, but it probably won’t be what you’re aiming for. 

You can start using these tools today to create a more targeted and informed content marketing strategy for your business. 

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

One of the things I consistently see online is the question of whether or not businesses should use free or paid SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools. You might hear that you shouldn’t use free SEO keyword research tools. This is typically because they’re not as accurate as the paid tools. If your cash flow is such that you can afford to pay for a tool like SEMrush, which can run pretty high if your budget is very tight, you should get it.

But if your budget is too tight, what are your alternatives? 

Free Keyword Research Tools Aren’t That Bad

I think that free tools are a completely legitimate option for businesses with small budgets because they’ll at least point you in the right direction. 

If your budget isn’t open enough for a paid tool, are you just not going to use anything? If you’re being told not to use free tools, and you can’t afford the paid tools, then do you just not use anything? The free tools might be a dim light in the room, versus just walking around in complete darkness. 

Paid vs. Free

There are some differences between paid and free tools.

Competitor Research

A big one is that most free tools don’t offer very comprehensive competitor research. 

Despite the fact that you might have a small blog, you still definitely want to take a look at your competitors. However, because you’re not necessarily generating a lot of organic search engine traffic anyway, your primary goal should be to create content that your audience wants to read. Your audience is made up of people who are already interested in your product and buy from you. Your blog gives you a means to educate or entertain them, which is your primary purpose. 

If you’ve listened to the podcast episode about search engine content writing, you’ll be able to take a look at anyone who pops up at the top of Google search results. They’re essentially your competitors for that keyword. Therefore, you need to evaluate how they’ve done things. 

Should you write for search engines or humans? Learn why we don’t believe it’s an “or” situation.

There are things that the tools might not catch, like what their writing style is and whether it’s inspirational or not. You do want to have a unique voice, but you may be able to adopt something from their style that you can turn into something new. So there are things that you wouldn’t necessarily get from a tool anyway. 

Free Keyword Research Tools

What sort of tools are we talking about? I’m not going to get too technical, but I am going to give you some names and a short description, so you can decide for yourself. 

Ubersuggest

One of the first ones I suggest is a tool that Neil Patel created, and it’s called Ubersuggest. It’s a great, free keyword tool. It even has some competition analysis. 

It gives you the top websites for a particular keyword, and you can take a look at them. It also tells you the number of backlinks (links that point back to your website from somewhere else). Backlinks greatly improve your search engine optimization. This is also why I recommend guest posting. 

Overall, his suite of tools loads very slow. At least for me.

Keywords Everywhere

As of October 1st, 2019, Keywords Everywhere is a paid tool. R.I.P awesome free tool.

Next up, Keywords Everywhere is another awesome tool. It’s a Chrome extension, although it may also be available on the other browsers. 

When you search on Google, it shows you the monthly keyword volume, the cost per click, and the competition. The monthly volume could be 100 searches per month, 1000/month, or 2400/month. The competition is normally from 0.0 to 1. So if you see a result with 0.9, that’s a really hard keyword to rank for. On the other hand, if you see a 0.2, that’s not so bad. 

You’d want to find a keyword that’s relevant to your blog, but that has low competition and high search volume. 

Let’s say you have an eCommerce store. If you see that 2000 people a month are searching for your niche service/product, that could be high volume for you. Focus on getting the top searches.

I think that it’s really awesome that Keywords Everywhere integrates it into your Google searches. By doing that, it makes it really easy for you to go through and look for ideas. 

AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is another great tool for ideas. Enter in your keyword, and they give you different matching questions. There’s also an old guy at the top, and he’s always pretty funny to look at.

Google Search

Do not underestimate the value of Google search itself and its autofill function. If you scroll down to the bottom of a Google search page, then it also gives you “people also searched for.” That could give you some ideas about things to include in your blog posts. 

Google Keywords Planner

Google Keywords Planner, which you can get from ad manager, is another thing to consider.  

I advise integrating the Google Analytics and Google Search Console tools. 

If you use the analytics platform, it will bring in the search console data, and then you won’t have to go to as many places. 

It’ll also tell you the keywords that you’re already ranking for. So even if you’re ranking low, at least you’re ranking. You can look at keywords that you can use to boost your ranking.

So how hard would it be for you to rank higher for a certain keyword? Maybe you’re 60, and you want to get to the top 10. At that point, you don’t have to look at your competition and see how you can improve. 

I think you can kind of see how it’s not a bad idea to use the free keyword tools, especially in the beginning when your budget is still small. 

Win at Content with Content Repurposing

Gary Vaynerchuck recently shared his 86 slide content repurposing slidedeck. I thought it would be great to see what a lower scale version of this looks like for small business owners. So in this episode, we explore content repurposing, and how you can do it with as much or as little effort as you need to. 

I take you from start (audio, video, or blog post) to finish (many different types of micro content). This technique can save you so much time! Let me know what you think!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie Bowles, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute shot of business knowledge. You don’t have a lot of time and I’m not going to waste it. So we’ll jump right into it. 

Today we’re going to talk about content repurposing. 

So I was taking a look at GaryVee‘s 86-slide playbook on content repurposing. It was about how his team takes a big piece of content that he’s created, and they repurpose it into a bunch of other types of content.

That’s what repurposing is. Content repurposing is when you take one piece of content and you turn it into something else. It’s still the same content, but you’re reusing it in a different format. He said, in a Linkedin post, that this is something he can do with a team. So that’s not necessarily the level of effort one would expect from a small business owner, if that’s what you are.

But I was looking at it and I was thinking that small-business owners or small marketing departments might struggle to take that 86 slide playbook, and translate it into something that they could do. Especially since their business isn’t content. So that’s the inspiration for today’s post. 

Doing Content Repurposing on Your Own

What does it look like when you do content repurposing without a team? When you’re on your own. Maybe you have a virtual assistant, or a couple of junior employees who could potentially take some of these tasks on. Regardless, it’s either you or a small team. That’s what we’re looking at. And I can tell you this because that’s my experience. It’s me and my virtual assistant, basically. 

Typically, the way that we used to do this was that I would write a blog post, and we would repurpose from there. But Christoph Trappe, who I’m connected with on Linkedin and Twitter, had tweeted about podcasting and how he uses it. We were going back and forth, and he was telling me how he would use it to brainstorm ideas for later blog post, talk about things and sort them out. And I thought that was a fabulous idea.

Not to mention, it can be easier to record audio or record a video, than it is for people to write something down. And so, that was another nudge I got in the direction of doing a podcast. 

Audio or Video to a Transcript to a Blog Post

So we’re going to start this from the same point. Let’s say you record some audio, or you record a video. It’s not to say you have to publish the audio or video. But if you know you can record five minutes of yourself talking, and turn that into a blog post, then you’re more likely to commit to a few minutes of talking. So it kind of lowers the level of effort required, and you’re more likely to get those important marketing tasks done. 

Let’s say you’ve recorded a piece of audio or video, and you take it and you turn it into a transcript. I use a program called Designrr (I’ll include an affiliate link) to make our transcripts. After that, my virtual assistant will go through the transcript and clean it up. That saves me a ton of time, because I don’t have to do that part.

The next step is creating a blog post. So you’re taking the audio/video, and turning that into a blog post. Sharing the audio/video publicly would be great too, because that’s another piece of content that can circulate online.

We’ve cleaned up the transcript, and now it’s ready for me to go back in and add additional content as necessary. For me, I publish my audio and videos, so I want to add that extra content. That way, when readers go to the blog and they see this post, they’re not just getting the same thing that they could have gotten for listening or watching.

Although it’s important to note that there are many people who prefer to read because they can read faster, as opposed to watching or listening. I’m actually one of those people. 

After all of that, my VA, Sílvia, will go through the post and we’ll decide where we want to add pictures. And then, you’ve got your blog posts ready to go. 

Identifying Microcontent

You can go ahead and publish it or not, but now you’re going to identify areas that you can turn into other pieces of content. Microcontent is what Gary Vee called it, and that’s the perfect term for it. 

So what we typically do is, either myself or my VA, will go through and highlight though-provoking sentences and statistics that we used in the post. Next, we turn those into images. They’re basically quote images. It might be a quote image over a nature background, or it might just be a white image with a gold trim. That’s one of the ones you’ve probably seen. 

If you follow me on other social media channels, we also go back to the audio/video and take 10 – 60 second clips. So the quote images and the audio/video clips can all be scheduled onto social media platforms. 

Don’t Be a Link Dumper!

However, you’re not done, because you need to include a link to whichever primary piece of content you want to route to when you share it on social media. If you share the link alone, we call that link dumping.

We’ve designed this image or we’ve got this little clip from the video/audio, here’s the link. You want your social network to click through, so you just drop it in Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. That’s link dumping, and it doesn’t do much by itself. 

Expanding on What You’ve Shared

Your next step is to create a post that talks specifically about what you’re sharing. That could be going a little bit deeper on that particular statistic or quote that you pulled from your posts, or just telling a story about why that statistic was important. You want to do something a little bit unique. You don’t have to write a whole book about it, because you’ve already done the blog post. But you want to add value there.

I like to end with a question, just to see if people want to engage with me. So if I was doing a quote for content repurposing, my question might be “Have you tried content repurposing? Do you think you’ll try content repurposing now?” You give them an opportunity.

You don’t necessarily want to ask a super hard question, because the level of effort will indicate how likely someone is to engage with you. But the key after that is creating those thoughtful social media posts and you link back to your primary content. Then people have an opportunity to come back to your website. It also tells you how effective you were.

Customer Engagement

But don’t forget your website stats aren’t the only ones to watch. Your social media stats are too. If they listened to the audio, watched the video, or commented on the image that you’ve shared, comment back.  It’s an opportunity for engagement. Even if they don’t click the link to go to your site, that engagement is still valuable.

That’s an opportunity for you to engage with your network and show them that you care about what they’re saying, even though they didn’t go to your website.  Engage wherever your clients or customers are. That is one of the keys to being accessible.

Here’s a great example of people engaging on social media, but not on the site. I published a blog post, and shared the link with my LinkedIn network. The post got great engagement and a high number of views! But my page stats for that post weren’t all that high. More people engaged on the post, and many didn’t click over to my site. That doesn’t mean that my post wasn’t effective though! Here it is:

At the time that I wrote this up, the post had 24 reactions, 44 comments, and almost 1400 views. I’m not a mega-influencer on LinkedIn, but this is a great performance for me!

People I wasn’t connected with also responded, and the post got great visibility. It’s all about relationship building. I made sure to respond to every single comment, because it makes me happy that people took the time to give me their opinion.

Content Repurposing Is Scalable

As you can see, I’m incredibly passionate about content repurposing. I think the way that I described it here is something that’s a lot more achievable for small-business owners or companies with small marketing departments.

Even if you have a large marketing department, I would recommend you start small and scale up. That way, you’re more agile and can adjust fire as needed. You don’t want to orchestrate a huge effort only to find you’ve made a critical mistake.

Whether you’re a solopreneur, a freelancer, a business owner with a couple of employees, this method is something you can do. And you could do it bare bones if you needed to. You could do audio/video, transcript, blog post, quote images, boom.

No audio or video clips, whatever. So you could just do it in those three phases. The point that Gary made was that it’s scalable. You can do as much or as little as you need to do, but it’s easier to put effort into one piece of content and then make that content digestible on other platforms. 

So as I said, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’ve listened to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute daily shot of business knowledge. I hope that you got something out of this episode on content repurposing. If you did, feel free to leave a comment wherever it is that you’re engaging with right now. Until next time.

P.S. In case you want to see it, here is Gary Vee’s model:

Content Writing: For Search Engines or Humans?

Today we’re exploring a big question: content writing, for search engines or humans? A lot of people are vocally in support of the latter. But I don’t think there is a difference. You have to remember that your priority is always the people. Specifically the people in your target audience. HOWEVER, search engines play a role too. 

Listen to this episode to see why you should be writing for BOTH!

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

Hi, I’m Ruthie, owner of Defy The Status Quo, and you’re listening to an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast, your 10-minute daily shot of business knowledge. You don’t have a lot of time and I won’t waste it. So let’s get into it. 

Today we’re going to be talking about whether your content writing should be for search engines or humans. I actually see this division of thought about content writing pretty frequently. And when I do, whether I see it on Linkedin, Instagram, any social media platform or when I’m speaking with people at networking events, you can pretty much always count on me to throw in my 2 cents about this.

That’s because I don’t think that there is a difference. If you’re one of those people who do believe that there is a difference, I think that by the end of this 10-minute segment, you will at least have the other side’s informed opinion, even if you don’t change your mind. 

Content Written for Humans Only

So when I’m on Linkedin or Instagram, I see things like “I write content for humans”, or if it’s a company posting about their content needs, they will say things like “Content written for humans only”. Those are two sides of the same coin there: the writer, and then the business who’s looking for writers. And what these statements reflect is outdated knowledge about search engine optimization. 

Black Hat SEO

Typically when people say “I write content for humans”, or they say “Content was written for humans only”, what they mean is they don’t want any keyword stuffing. This is when you take one keyword, and you stuff it in a lot of places in a blog post or a webpage. This is actually something we call black hat SEO, and there are other techniques with this label. Like paying for backlinks.

Why would someone pay for backlinks? Read our post on the top SEO ranking factors to learn more.

Keyword stuffing is typically the one people think of, and they’re like “Yeah, I don’t want that. That stuff doesn’t make sense.” The thought that keyword stuffing and black hat SEO is what SEO writing means, has been pervasive. It’s been really hard to get rid of, but it’s outdated.

While that thinking persists, the opposite is actually true. If Google sees black hat SEO techniques, like keyword stuffing, used on a website, they will eventually bury that website in the search engine results. Maybe it ranks really high for a second, but then Google is like “Hey, let me take a closer look at this website. It’s doing so well. Oh, they’re not doing good things at all”. And then it starts to bury it.

People won’t be able to find you, so you don’t want that to happen to your website. So a content writer worth their salt won’t use black hat SEO on your website. 

What is the Goal of a Search Engine?

Today, what you need to do is consider the goal of search engines. What is the goal of search engines? To provide the best user experience that they can for their users. So their goal is to serve the best, most relevant, most entertaining content. So if your content is that content, then you’re already halfway there, maybe 75% of the way there, because good content wins out. 

What Is the Purpose of SEO Content Writing?

So what is the purpose of SEO content writing, then? SEO content writing is how you make sure search engines know that your content is the most relevant and what their users are looking for. You use search engine optimized content writing as a tool to communicate effectively with the search engines that you want to deliver your content. 

Let’s take a look at some of the guidelines for good SEO content writing. 

Broad and Specific Keywords

The first one is keywords. Yup. Keywords. The reason for this is because keywords are indicative of a topic. There’s broad keywords, and there’s specific keywords.

So a broad keyword would be “running”. That’s really broad and you’re probably never going to rank for that if that’s your goal. If you do, it’ll be a long time coming. A more specific keyword, or a long tail keyword phrase, normally reflects how someone actually enters in a search term in the search engine.

So instead of saying “running”, they might say “How to start running a 5K”. That’s a really popular topic, so you’re probably not going to rank for that either, for a long time. However, it’s still a great example of a long tail keyword.

But maybe a search engine phrase like “alternative plastics for bottled water”, is probably not a super common keyword. That tells you a topic, and as I’m thinking of this blog post, I can plan it out already in my head. But it’s not too specific that no one’s looking for it.

As you can see in the examples above, I’ve taken a broad search term and made it specific to a theoretical target audience. Even the phrase “starting a business”, looks like a long-tail keyword. And it is, by definition, but it isn’t one I’d recommend you use. Especially if you can make it more specific to your audience.

Check out our post on free keyword research tools if you need some help getting started.

Headlines and Sections

Pay attention to your headlines and sections. Search engine guidelines say you can’t have more than 300 words within any given section. If you have more than 300 words, then you probably need to break it up with another subheadline.

It’s good to include your keyword in your headline, but don’t overdo it. You want to do it in one of your headlines, but don’t stuff it if it’s not natural. Google’s aim is to get as close to human understanding as possible, and I’m sure one day they’ll achieve it. You want to make sure that your content is future-proof.  

Switch to Active Voice

The other thing that’s rough for many writers is the switch from passive voice to active voice. When we go through school, teachers emphasize passive voice.

Most of the time we don’t use you in our professional writing. We don’t say I in our professional writing and essays in college. We use the third person in content writing. From a marketing perspective, you want to say you, I and we. Those are the pronouns you want to use, but you also want to make sure your phrases are active versus passive.

An example of that is “The window was broken by the boy”. That’s actually a pretty long sentence, which you could flip to be active and say “The boy broke the window”. That’s a much shorter, concise sentence. Active sentences normally convey more emotion, and are easier to read.

Need more info on how to write search engine optimized content? Check out our Blogging for Business Toolkit.

Your Content Writing Should Be For Search Engines AND Humans!

So those are just three SEO recommendations that we follow. There’s a lot more. Use these things properly, you’ll communicate to the search engine that your content is good content for its users. That is the goal of search engines. It’s not to be peppered with keywords and be unreadable. That’s black hat SEO, that will get your site buried.

Just remember that SEO content is for humans. It helps the search engines understand that your content is what its users need to see. It helps search engines get your content in front of the people that you want to see it, which is basically anybody who might enjoy or benefit from your content. 

Search engine content writing is human content writing. It’s the way that we communicate with the search engines to let them know that our content is what the users want to see.

So next time somebody says “content writing: for search engines or humans?”, just remember search engine guidelines are a tool like anything else. A writer effectively merges what the users want to see with what the search engines need to see to get the content in front of your ideal target audience. 

I’m the owner of Defy The Status Quo, and this was an episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. I hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your feedback, so be sure to leave me a comment wherever it is that you’ve run into this episode.

The Quick and Dirty on White Papers

I’m going to give you the quick and dirty on white papers because I get a lot of blank looks when I tell people that part of Defy the Status Quo’s content marketing services includes writing B2B white papers. Maybe like the one you’re wearing right now.

Here’s the podcast episode:

Or if you’d rather watch the video:

And here’s the transcript:

What is a White Paper?

A white paper is an effect based but persuasive piece of marketing content that’s long-form. It might be 5 to 10 pages and is very research-heavy (or at least it should be). 

Sometimes you may be on a website and you download something that says it’s a white paper, but maybe it’s only three to four pages. I would say that that probably qualifies as another type of marketing document. Probably not a full-blown whitepaper. 

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some of the characteristics, but it seems that in recent years the term white papers gets kind of tossed around a bit loosely.

Who Typically Commissions White Papers?

They are often commissioned from companies that are B2B, but if you’re a B2C company and you’ve got expensive or new or complicated products, then white papers may still be for you too. Any company that’s selling something new, something complicated and something that’s also expensive that needs explaining.

If there’s a B2B company and their product is warehouse robots, their angle would be those warehouse robots are more efficient, more effective and over time they cost less. Those are all great selling points, but they may be selling points that they need to clarify or justify to their potential buyers. 

Someone is not just going to purchase one warehouse robot, they’re going to be purchasing a whole fleet of them. That’s a decision that’s going to require some justification. But they like the idea already – maybe they’ve read a blog post you wrote about warehouse robots and the automation they bring to the warehouse.

B2C White Papers?

Let’s say you sell new CBD skincare products. CBD I think is still kind of the wild west of products. And it, from my standpoint, it seems like a lot of people are adding it to products. I’m not completely sold on the effectiveness of it just yet – not to say it’s ineffective, but there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence going around. I would definitely like to see more empirical evidence as to the health benefits of CBD.

If you sell new CBD skincare products and you want to not just sell direct to consumer like we’re accustomed to seeing through Amazon or through websites and other typical e-commerce setups. Say you want to go mainstream and you want to work with wholesalers and retailers to get your product out on the market. 

Direct to consumer is a B2C setup, but when you’re working with wholesalers and retailers, that is a B2B relationship because it’s your business and their business. And they’re not just going to buy one bit of your product, the purchase they’re going to make from you is much larger.

This is why people who sell individual small products tend to like to have relationships with wholesalers and retailers because they can move product in bulk. So the purchase cycles for B2B are longer because the purchase orders are bigger, but you can make more. You can spend less on packaging when you’re moving and shipping. You can spend less on shipping when you’re moving a bulk order from your warehouse or your manufacturing facility to the wholesaler’s warehouse or the retailer’s warehouse. 

So you might want a white paper that goes into the benefits of CBD oil in skincare. Anything in skincare, you would have a lot of statistics. You would cite relevant modern research. You would want to have a doctor – specifically a dermatologist because you sell skincare – quoting in your white paper.

Let’s say you’re sold on white papers and you want to use them in your business.

What to Expect From The White Paper Process (as a Business Owner)

Depending on the size, the writer and the topic, your white paper may run anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. You should expect to pay that much. It’s a research-heavy document. If you’re paying less, you run the risk of getting someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing or doesn’t understand the actual intent behind a white paper. 

If you are in that range somewhere, you should get a high-quality document that was very research-heavy, and includes editing and things like that.

As a writer, I typically provide recommendations for the images, the charts and things like that, that should go inside the white paper. There’s actually a whole process that’s recommended for white papers. It’s not a quick project. You should expect it to take four to six weeks (ideally six to eight weeks), and that’s just because there are a lot of shareholders involved in a white paper project. 

It’s not just the writer taking four to six weeks to write it, although they easily could and be comfortable. There’s the time that they have to wait for feedback on the outline – they can’t be writing at that time. Then they write the first draft and they send it out for feedback. Multiple people have to give their feedback, and that takes time. 

White papers should include interviews at a minimum. They should include quotes, but interviews are best, which you’ll pull quotes from, but people speak in a more conversational manner. They can be a bit more catchy, a bit more clever when they’re speaking. 

Whereas for some people, when they’re writing out quotes, it becomes very rote and robotic and generic. So voice interviews are normally the best.

What Should Be in My White Paper Besides Text? 

Your white papers should include charts and small mini infographics to visualize the data that you’ representing and to really drive points home.

A white paper could be good for one to two years before it needs updating. It really is an investment. As long as you promote it properly, it will be fine. You can repurpose it into a lot of different things – repurposing content is important. That means you take a piece of content and transform it. It keeps its essence, but you transform it and use it on a different platform. 

You can post little clips of it on social media or repurpose the white paper into a slide deck. Maybe you talk about your white paper in a podcast episode. There’s a lot of different ways that you can take your content and repurpose it into something different.

People make emotional decisions, but with long purchase cycles, with expensive purchases, you typically have to justify those purchases to someone besides yourself. White papers can provide fact-based justification. They can be very persuasive. 

53% of marketers say that the most effective piece of content at moving prospects from mid-funnel to the bottom of the funnel are white papers. So consider them as part of your content marketing strategy. They’re often called the king of content.

Wondering if you need a white paper to better illustrate your services’ impact? Send us a message, and we’ll help you out!

Infographic: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for Business

A lot of people are getting curious about LinkedIn. With influencers like Gary Vee talking about all of the business potential for LinkedIn, it’s a great time to get onto this social media platform.

But how do you get started? With a great LinkedIn profile that attracts the right sort of connections to you. You need to optimize your LinkedIn profile for business.

Who are the right sort of connections? They come in many forms:

  • Peers in related industries (can refer work to you)
  • Experts in your industry (great if you’re a writer or designer who focuses on that industry)
  • Connectors (people who know people, or can offer marketing opportunities)
  • and of course, potential clients

So we created this infographic to help you optimize your LinkedIn profile for business. You should have an engagement strategy for LinkedIn as well, but your profile is where you have to start!

Want to use this infographic on your blog or website? Be our guest! Courteous guests link back to this post though!

I asked my LinkedIn network for tips on optimizing your LinkedIn profile to attract great connections. Here’s what they said!

On LinkedIn Keyword Research

Do your keyword research. LinkedIn’s search and algorithm operates similar to Google. If you are a UX designer and want people to find you on the platform, then incorporate keyword rich text related to UX design into your profile.

Jason Firch, Digital Marketing Nonprofit Specialist, Nonprofits Source

Modify your LI public URL so that it includes keywords for better visibility on the web. I have “freelance content writer” in mine, for instance.

Peter Jenkins, Freelance Content Writer and Editor

Think about what words someone would use to look for someone like you. Be searchable. Be succinct.

Alison Tedford, Freelance Social Media Writer, AlisonTedford.com

On LinkedIn Profile Content

It can be a good idea to include a very brief testimonial or some evidence that you are what you say you are. Especially if you don’t already have testimonials on your profile page.

Victoria Doxat, Freelance Writer and Editor, VictoriaDoxat.com

Take advantage of all the various sections that LinkedIn offers you – awards, volunteering, publications – there are so many. They give you an opportunity to showcase a talent or aspect of your personality that you might not be able to share in a traditional resume format.

Cara Imperato, Content Writer

Write your summary to your audience, solving their problem, positioning yourself as their hero. It’s all about them, not about you.

Carol J. Alexander, Freelance Sustainable Living Writer, CarolJAlexander.com

On The Value of LinkedIn Activity

This might not be profile based but in general, try and post 3x a week on the newsfeed to increase your visibility to have your profile be found. And, pay for premium so you can see who is looking at your profile and then connect with them! 

Kate Talbot, Content Marketer, KateTalbotMarketing.com

The Content Marketing Status Quo and How You Can Do Better

Content marketing is going strong. Every day more content gets created, via writing, video, audio, and photos. What’s the result? A content marketing status quo of mediocrity. What’s the good news for you? You can still stand out and above your competition by creating great content.

More businesses are getting excited about content marketing. And why wouldn’t they, when mega marketing influencers are saying things like:

“Content Marketing is all the Marketing that’s left.” ~ Seth Godin

“Content Marketing provides 4x the ROI of our traditional marketing spend.” ~ Julie Fleischer, VP Marketing, Neustar

“Content is king.” ~ Bill Gates

“Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” ~ Marcus Sheridan

In some of the latest research, we discovered some compelling numbers explaining why the content status quo is the way it is. Here are our big three takeaways.

Companies Are Churning Out Content Without Checking ROI

Companies are starting to understand exactly what content marketing can do for their businesses. They also realize that at least one of their competitors is doing it. So if they don’t jump on the bandwagon, they won’t reach their full potential. So what does this FOMO incite?

A LOT of content. Tons of content. Content about everything they can think of that relates to their product or service. And that’s the problem right there. They produce content about everything THEY can think of. Without checking what is actually working (or not, as the case may be).

What is their content actually doing for them? 91% of content doesn’t get organic visits. That’s right. All of the search engine queries lead searchers to just 9% of the internet. Now you may get some views from social media, or your email list, but that’s push distribution. Search engine traffic represents pull distribution…. Er, pull attraction?

When you have a new site, you shouldn’t expect to get much organic traffic initially. If you’re putting out great content, then you may get some if you have a strong content marketing strategy.

More Than Half Aren’t Measuring

51% of content marketers don’t measure their content’s return on investment (ROI). More than half of professional content marketers can’t tell anyone exactly what their content does for them. And that’s a mistake. With the freelance workforce expected to reach 16% by 2020, ROI has become more important than ever.

If you’re a CMO, then you need to be able to justify any of your outsourcing. You can’t? Then your company may find someone who will. Even the largest companies outsource, and it isn’t a problem. As long as you can prove value.

If you’re a contractor, then you may be asked to justify your services. Not because they’re trying to nickel and dime you, but because they hired you to handle “content”. That includes reporting on the results.

KPI’s to Check for Happy Site Visitors

I’m not going to bore you with the obvious answers (another affliction of the content marketing status quo) like “overall blog traffic.” That seems like a big “DUH”, but a segment of your site traffic should be very interesting to you. And that’s your returning site visitors.

Returning Site Visitors

You can find this pie chart under the Audience tab by clicking “Overview” in Google Analytics. Considering the Defy The Status Quo site is only a few months old at the time we published this post, I’m pretty happy with this result.

When site visitors come back, they’re telling you they’re happy with your content. They’re likely either on your email list or a member of your social media network. They saw you published a new post up, and they went to check it out. A returning site visitor doesn’t need as much convincing as a new site visitor.

Bounce Rate and Session Duration

Blogs often have higher bounce rates than other sites. Sometimes people find the answer they need early on and leave. If a site visitor only visits one page and then leaves, that counts as a bounce. Even if they read the whole article. However, a high bounce rate can also tell Google that people aren’t finding what they need.

When you land on your Google Analytics home page, you can see what your bounce rate for the last 7 days looks like.

This bounce rate is a combination of all of my sources though. If you want to see what your bounce rate looks like for your different traffic sources, you need to:

  1. Click on the Acquisitions tab.
  2. Click on Overview.
  3. Scroll down past the pie chart until you get to this table/bar chart.

As you can see, for the small amount of organic search traffic I’m getting, the bounce rate is a lot lower than my social traffic bounce rate.

In my chart, you can also see that my session duration is low, but as we add more content to the site, that will change. Internal linking on pages helps increase your “pages/session” number. That number tells you how many pages someone viewed during a single visit to your site.

None of these numbers can tell the story on their own. That’s why performing a comprehensive content audit on your content at least once per year is critical to measuring ROI. Quarterly would be ideal.

No Documented Content Strategy

Only 39% of organizations have a documented content marketing strategy. It’s even lower in industries like manufacturing, at 21%. Best-in-class marketers document their strategies because it helps them align the team with the company’s goals. Also, prioritizing which types of content to create and distribute becomes much easier.

How can you be sure that everyone is on the same page if you’re all not looking at the same page?

Only 42% of marketers feel like their content strategy is mature or sophisticated. This is likely because they’ve never taken the time to write it down. How can you measure and improve your content marketing if you don’t have a record of where you started?

An undocumented content strategy usually happens when your company is doing content because someone said you should. You’re blogging because “everyone” is blogging these days.

One of your C-suite executives says that you need to be on Instagram, so you’re posting pictures.

Or maybe a family member or friend insisted that you post on LinkedIn, because “that’s where all of the business people are!”

Tom Fishbourne create a great cartoon about this haphazard marketing “strategy” phenomenon. I thought about including it here, but the license is $50. So instead, I’m linking to it so you can go see it for yourself.

When you stop looking at content as something Millennials do for fun (the oldest Millennial is over 40, FYI), then you’ll realize that you have to treat your content like assets. Marketing assets, and sometimes, even sales assets.

You might be thinking, “Sales assets, really?” YES. Case studies and white papers are the most recommended content types for converting leads among B2B marketers.

What Goes Into a Great Content Marketing Strategy?

Creating a great content marketing strategy is going to require some time. If you have a team, then it should be a team effort. If it’s just you, well that’s okay too.

According to Julia McCoy’s book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, there are four keys to creating a solid content strategy:

  1. Discovering who you’re helping with your content
  2. Understanding what you need to do to help them better than your competitors
  3. Learning how to create content they actually see
  4. Analyzing your content performance by auditing, updating, and measuring

Need more direction to start creating your content marketing strategy? Download your copy of our B2B Content Marketing Workbook.

Not Putting the Reader First

I found some conflicting numbers from the Content Marketing Institute’s latest B2B research. Are you ready?

So 73% of marketers say they prioritize the audience’s needs over their marketing/sales message.

But…

Only 42% of marketers actually engage with their customers to confirm what sort of content they’re interested in.

And

56% of marketers increased spending on content creation last year.

Oh boy. This is a recipe for disaster. You aren’t sure exactly what it is your readers want to see, but you’re increasing spending and making MORE content? This ties back to the points about having a content strategy. You’ll know what content to create because you did the research needed to create the strategy.

So, 39% of marketers have a documented strategy. But 73% are putting the audience’s needs first? I don’t think so.

You’ll increase spending on content creation, and then be upset with the creators when that content doesn’t generate the ROI you expected to see. But you never laid the foundation FOR high ROI.

What do you do?

Buyer Personas: Know Who Your Ideal Audience Is

As part of your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of a target audience for your company. Most people think of basic demographics like age and gender. That’s true, but a buyer persona should also include your target audiences challenges and goals.

Even more valuable? Their key questions at the various stages of the buyer’s journey. With this information, you can create content that meets your reader’s needs at each phase of their buyer’s journey, gaining their trust along the way.

Thanks to the internet, there’s a lot of secondary research out there on a variety of groups and group segments. Secondary research is incredibly valuable for businesses who don’t have the budget to do primary research.

Primary research is when your company pays to have a survey or customer focus groups done to gather information. It can be very expensive, which is why many turn to secondary research. That is, a review of research already done or available.

If you can find this research online, then you can probably build buyer personas that can at least get you started. Or point your primary research in the right direction.

If you know your buyer personas, then you’ll know where they hang out online. Being in the same LinkedIn and Facebook groups, Reddit threads, and Quora topics can give you some insight straight from the horse’s mouth.

You can use social media engagement to guide your content marketing strategy as well. I’ve written blog posts and recorded videos based on great responses I’ve received on LinkedIn.

Consider the Content Marketing Status Quo the Bottom. Do Better

Depending on the size of your business, you might not be able to execute a comprehensive content marketing strategy. But whatever you do, you can stand out by doing it well. The content marketing status quo is mediocre content. It’s checking the box.

But the status quo leaves off some very important practices, like documenting your content marketing strategy, that best-in-class marketers just wouldn’t advise.

Your clients and customers deserve better than that. Give them your best, and you’ll earn their trust in return. Make your company memorable through content, and customer trust and loyalty will increase.

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Video: These Bad Marketing Practices Have to Go!

Which marketing techniques need to go the way of the dinosaurs? My LinkedIn network is ready to say goodbye to some huge marketing techniques, including the webinar funnel (or at least the way people use it). These bad marketing practices have earned some special enmity in 2019.

With everyone trying to create an online product, the webinar funnel has been misused. Savvy people despise the webinar that promises much, but consistently under delivers. We also talk about email marketing and even robocalls!

Download the ebook version of this video by clicking here.