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    • Content Marketing Institute

      How to Explain Content Marketing to Anyone [Fresh Examples]

        Editor’s note: Explaining content marketing is a never-ending challenge. That’s why we’re bringing back this post from last year with some updated examples. The concept of content marketing has been around for hundreds of years (see an example from 1672), and the discipline has gained incredible popularity since 2010, according to Google Trends. But, when CMI launched its e-book that answers common content marketing questions, it learned many readers are just getting started. For those in that category – or those who encounter misperceptions or misunderstanding about what content marketing is – I offer a quick rundown for easy reference. When people ask what you do, does your response receive a quizzical look? “So, what is it exactly that you do,” they ask after you explain your job. My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes. “That’s content marketing,” I explained. It was an aha moment for my husband’s understanding of content marketing – content marketing is educational but is not about the products the company sells. The vendor offers such good information that you become loyal to the brand. While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, I’m particularly amazed by its print publications. For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls. It ranks second in its category (and 71st most popular among all books on Amazon). It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls. For parents, think about BabyCenter. When I was pregnant and then raising my older daughter, I considered BabyCenter to be required reading. It’s a perfect example of content marketing. According to its website, it is the No. 1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, and eight in 10 new and expectant moms online use BabyCenter each month. The site is owned by Johnson & Johnson, which sells products for babies. Hopefully, those examples make it clear that content marketing isn’t about the brand, your products, or your services. It’s about your audience. What do they care about? And, more importantly, how can you be the one to provide something no one else is, which in turn elevates your brand from a commodity to something people embrace? Pull-A-Part, a U.S. chain of DIY auto-recycling yards, has created a one-of-a-kind video series, including this one on how to convert an undrivable vehicle into a pickup worthy of a tailgate. Content marketing is different than traditional product-marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing includes things like educational articles, e-books, videos, entertainment, and webinars that answer specific questions people have and provide them with something they can’t get elsewhere. It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s. By becoming a credible, authoritative resource on topics that matter to potential customers, your business is more likely to get discovered by the right audience and earn their loyalty and trust – which, in turn, enables your brand to strengthen its customer relationships, grow an active and engaged subscriber base, and even increase its profits. While you may be nodding your head at this point and thinking, “Yeah, this is something I want to do,” you certainly shouldn’t adopt content marketing because it’s the “in” thing to do. Content marketing takes a lot of work, persistence, and patience – it’s not for everyone. But, it can be an ideal approach if you truly want to provide a better experience for your customers while making a positive impact on the business in terms of its perception and its bottom line. People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results. Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a key way to make this happen. Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s essential if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing. EXAMPLE: Outdoor retailer REI does a great job of answering questions and assisting its audience through content. On its YouTube channel, it offers dozens of videos depending on its audience’s interests and needs, often answering common questions. Whether it’s a backpacker who wants to know how to use a compass or a cyclist who needs to know how to fix a bicycle chain, REI provides the answers. Your content is only as valuable as its ability to attract audience members and compel them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three. Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, gather valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates. EXAMPLE: Insurance company Liberty Mutual built a content platform – Master This – dedicated to helping people solve home and life challenges – to build skills and worry less, as the brand describes it. While Liberty Mutual’s ultimate purpose is to drive insurance sales, the content focuses not on insurance products but on information the audience will find educational and helpful. It also has expanded access to the educational content by partnering with HowStuffWorks and Amazon’s Alexa to provide educational content through the voice-activated device. Of course, generating revenue is a key goal for many marketers, and content marketing can be a powerful driver. When you build an audience that trusts you and wants to hear from you, they are more likely to purchase your products. For instance, CMI subscribers are more likely to take advantage of CMI paid offerings such as attending Content Marketing World than non-subscribers. EXAMPLE: TD Ameritrade produces its print and digital magazine, thinkMoney, for active customers – those who can make trades as often as hundreds of times in a day. In its early days, TDA put the program under review to determine whether it was worth continuing to spend money on the magazine. The leaders persevered and, after approximately two years, received confirmation of its value: Subscribers and readers of the magazine traded five times more than non-subscribers. Simply put, those who subscribed to this magazine became better customers for TD Ameritrade. Another reason organizations use content marketing is to create more loyal customers, which has the potential to increase sales through cross-selling or up-selling. In some cases, the brand can monetize content itself. EXAMPLE: Sainsbury magazine is the top cooking magazine in the United Kingdom, with 3 million paid subscribers — a content marketing effort that pays for itself. But, what’s even more remarkable is that, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the company, eight of 10 readers have bought a product from Sainsbury’s after reading about it in the magazine. Organizations also use content marketing because they can see similar — or better — results when compared to a “traditional” marketing program. EXAMPLE: Jyske Bank is a large Danish bank that now also functions as a media company. The company started using content marketing to get better results than its high-cost sponsorship marketing. It created Jyskebank.tv, which produces amazing financial programming, as well as compelling stories the bank believes are relevant to its core audience of younger consumers and small enterprises. Today, Jyske works with businesses interested in leveraging its media expertise: Instead of laying out cash to support outside opportunities, Jyske receives media partnership proposals from other organizations — an attractive option made possible by the credibility and reach the bank’s content program has helped it to build. Stay on top of content marketing definitions, strategy, and tactics with our weekday posts. Sign up today for our weekday (or weekly) newsletter and you’ll never miss a tip. Michele Linn is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Mantis Research, a consultancy focused on helping brands create and amplify original research they can use in their marketing. Before starting Mantis, Michele was head of editorial at Content Marketing Institute, where she led the company's strategic editorial direction, co-developed its annual research studies, wrote hundreds of articles, spoke at industry events and was instrumental in building the platform to 200,000 subscribers. In 2015, she was named one of Folio's Top Women in Media (Corporate Visionary). You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn. Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 40 Examples That Are Driving Content Marketing Forward FREE!

        Explaining what content marketing is - is a complex task. This post may help you...

        03:36
      • Marketing Land

        Content may be king, but context is queen - Marketing Land

          “Content is King-er” concluded a leading media industry prognosticator in the keynote address at the recent Media Insights and Engagement Conference, after he took the audience through a whirlwind tour of the changes in the ecosystem over the past year. He was doubling down on the oft-made claim that content is king with a purposeful grammatical error. Of course, we have all heard about the importance of quality content in the fight for viewers and the claim to the crown has become almost standard industry doctrine. One needs to look no further than the cult following of Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, This is Us, and The Handmaid’s Tale to understand the impact of quality on a network or streaming service. While from the main stage, the content is king claim resonated, it was made to sound hollow as the conference unfolded over the next two and half days as session after session of media and research executives laid out their challenges and strategies to capture eyeballs today. Two interrelated realities emerged from the myriad presentations: We have reached a state of peak content and, in a world of good content abundance, the context of how we learn about, access and make choices is now nearly as important as the quality of the content. There is too much out there to watch. Every year, new shows make their debut and those already underway progress with new seasons. It is clear that content is rapidly accumulating, while the amount of time in a day, of course, remains the same. Creators, both traditional networks and streaming services alike, take notice. Lately, the term “Peak TV” made its way into industry parlance, finding as its metric the magic number of 500 scripted original series. According to FX Network’s annual study, we’ve arrived. In 2018, 495 scripted shows aired in the United States. That’s only slightly more than 2017’s 487 shows, but an increase of more than 100 percent since 2009, when just over 200 shows aired. If we broaden the scope beyond the United States and consider international programming (Peaky Blinders, anyone?), that number easily climbs to over 600 shows. To experience a mere 10 percent of last year’s available content, one would have had to watch at least 49 seasons of TV. In a world so thoroughly inundated with content, it turns out that “good enough is good enough” for most people. While the industry may recognize miniscule distinctions between content and crown the best-of-the-best at awards shows, the average viewer is not a critic and, as such, a great deal of simply good and even mediocre content is “good enough” to get onto their watch list. Overabundance of choice diminishes the role of ambiguous and subjective quality measures in influencing what viewers decide to watch, and instead emphasizes the myriad ways in which people come into contact with content. Today’s media landscape has turned the old saying “beggars can’t be choosers” on its head and made the converse true – choosers have become beggars, pleading for an easier way make decisions. On many occasions, I long for the days of three or four networks and one remote control. While choice was almost laughingly narrow by today’s standards, the process of discovering, accessing, and choosing what to watch was easy. Today, by contrast, I sometimes feel that I need the help of a computer scientist and a staff of content screeners to get a suitable program to play on my screen. I still have three remotes in my living room (Samsung, Fios, and Apple TV) and when I turn on the TV, I am met with a home screen with dozens of apps, many of which I subscribe to (Netflix, Prime, Hulu, HBOGo, YouTube and Spotify, among others). Yet, with all this choice, I most often go to my phone to check my social networks and conduct searches to decide what to watch. Winning the war for eyeballs for media owners, platforms and brands requires not only great (or good enough) content, but a clear understanding of the context in which viewers make choices. This is the starting point to making commercial choices about which avenues in the path-to-viewing to try to influence. Any contextual framework should include four areas: Who are you viewing with? – A father watching with his daughter would make a different choice than he might with his friends. You choose different content to watch with your toddler than you do with your spouse, just as you would not take your clients for a drink at the local dive bar. What access do you have? –  What device, bandwidth and usage rights do you have? Do you prefer watching movies in theaters, through a cable package on your smart TV, or streaming Netflix on a mobile device? A phone on 4G streaming YouTube vs OTT on a smart TV with a cable package provide very different experiences. How does it fit into your day? – Where does viewing fit into your life in terms of time of day, time available, and location? Are you waiting for your Uber to arrive or are you at home Friday night in the family room?  Maybe you are streaming game highlights on the subway, scrolling through news clips between meetings, or enjoying a weekly movie night with your closest friends. How salient are your program choices? – Did a launch campaign pique your interest in the latest action movie; did a friend convince you to watch a beloved comedy; or are you just searching on your phone? Everyone has a show that they have “been meaning to get to” after reading about it online, seeing a trailer, and/or hearing about it from friends and coworkers. The most salient programs will be purposefully sought out or at least recognized and selected when viewers see their names onscreen. Those without salience however, can remain in the back of people’s minds, perpetually waiting for viewers to “get around to it.” Salience can be understood from two dimensions – memory and attention. Memory salience is the mental storehouse of all past input we have received about a particular subject, whether we can consciously recall it or not. Attention salience, on the other hand, is driven by our in-the-moment reaction to cues and stimuli – most commonly advertising. Of course, these two phenomena do not operate in isolation, as our memories influence the way we react to stimuli when brought to our attention, and subsequently these reactions either reinforce or challenge our existing memories. Great stories well-told have always moved people. They imbue our lives with meaning and help us to make sense of how the world works. Albeit on a much smaller scale, great commercial entertainment does the same. So, while I am not ready to take the king’s crown away from content just yet, I can comfortably say that context is queen. In media, as on a chessboard, the queen is crucial. Smart media owners, platforms and brands realize that winning the war for eyeballs requires understanding and influencing the context in which media choices are made.

          What context of use is one of the most critical factors in making effective content and how to plan for it?

          02:24
        • Backlinko

          We Analyzed 912 Million Blog Posts. Here's What We Learned About Content Marketing

            1. Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles.  Therefore, long-form content appears to be ideal for backlink acquisition. 2. When it comes to social shares, longer content outperforms short blog posts. However, we found diminishing returns for articles that exceed 2,000 words. 4. A small percentage of “Power Posts” get a disproportionate amount of social shares. Specifically, 1.3% of articles generate 75% of all social shares. 5. We found virtually no correlation between backlinks and social shares.  This suggests that there’s little crossover between highly-shareable content and content that people link to. 6. Longer headlines are correlated with more social shares. Headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines. 8. There’s no “best day” to publish a new piece of content. Social shares are distributed evenly among posts published on different days of the week. 9. Lists posts are heavily shared on social media. In fact, list posts get an average of 218% more shares than “how to” posts and 203% more shares than infographics. 10. Certain content formats appear to work best for acquiring backlinks. We found that “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics received 25.8% more links  compared to videos and “How-to” posts. 11. The average blog post gets 9.7x more shares than a post published on a B2B site. However, the distribution of shares and links for B2B and B2C publishers appears to be similar. However, to our knowledge no one has investigated why  longer content tends to perform so well. Does the Google algorithm inherently prefer long content? Or perhaps longer content is best at satisfying searcher intent. While it’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions from our study, our data suggests that backlinks are at least part of the reason that long-form content tends to rank in Google’s search results. In other words, 1,000-2,000 words appears to be the “sweet spot” for maximizing shares on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest. It’s fair to say that getting someone to link to your content is tough. And we found that getting links from multiple websites is even more challenging. While it’s impossible to answer this question from our data alone, it’s likely due to a sharp increase in the amount of content that’s published every day. A 2015 study published on the Moz blog concluded that, of the content in their sample, “75% had zero external links”. Again: our research from this study found that 94% of all content has zero external links. This suggests that getting links to your content is significantly harder compared to just a few years ago. Key Takeaway:  Building links through content marketing is more challenging than ever. Only 6% of the content in our sample had at least one external link. Key Takeaway:  The majority of social shares are generated from a small number of posts. 75% of all social shares come from only 1.3% of published content. This may surprise a lot of publishers as “Sharing your content on social media” is considered an SEO best practice. The idea being that social media helps your content get in front of more people, which increases the likelihood that someone will link to you. But for now, it’s important to note that there’s very little overlap between content that gets shared on social media and content that people link to. We defined “very long” headlines as headlines between 14-17 words in length. As you can see in the chart, there appears to be a linear relationship between headline length and shares. But when you look at the headlines across our dataset of 912 million posts, it’s clear that content that uses longer headlines get more social shares. First, it could be the fact that longer headlines pack more information in them compared to short headlines. This “extra” information may push people to read a piece of content or watch a video that they otherwise wouldn’t, increasing the odds that it goes viral. Also, longer headlines contain more terms that can “match” keyword searches in Google and on social media sites where people commonly search (like Twitter). Again, this results in more eyeballs, which can lead to more shares. Question titles may work because they add an element of intrigue that’s well-documented to increase click-through-rate. Put another way, you might decide to read a post in order to answer the question posed in the headline. We did find that Sunday had a slight edge over other days of the week. However, the difference in shares from content published on Sunday vs. the other 6 days of the week was only 1.45%. Several industry studies and case studies have set out to answer the “best time to publish content” question. But most are either old (one of the most-cited industry studies I found was published back in 2012) or used a small sample size. Considering that there’s no advantage to publishing content on a certain day, I recommend researching and testing the best publishing time for your industry and audience. For example, after extensive testing, we found that publishing on Tuesday morning (Eastern) works best for the Backlinko blog. But I’ve heard from other bloggers that their publishing on Saturday works best for them. So the “best” day to publish is ultimately whenever your audience is available to consume and share your content, something that’s best determined by testing. That’s not to say you should avoid any particular content format. There are infographics and how-to posts out there that generate tens of thousands of shares. Key Takeaway:  List posts perform well on social media compared to other popular content formats. Our study found that list posts generate 203% more shares than infographics and 218% more shares than how-to articles. While our study found that list posts were the top content format for social sharing, they’re dead last in terms of getting backlinks from other websites. It’s a similar situation with infographics. Our data shows that infographics tend to get very few shares relative to list posts, “what posts” and videos. My theory on this is that certain formats are primed to get shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. And other formats designed to get linked to from the small group of “Linkerati” that run and contribute content to websites. Although the occasional infographic may go viral, it’s fair to say that their novelty has worn off in recent years. Which may explain why infographics aren’t shared very much compared to other formats (like list posts). Key Takeaway:  “Why Posts”, “What Posts” and infographics appear to be ideal for link building. These three formats receive an average of 25.8% more referring domain links than how-to posts and videos. We analyzed a subset of content from our dataset that was published on B2B websites. Our goal was to find out if share and link behavior differed in the B2B and B2C spaces. First, we did find that “normal” content generates significantly more shares than B2B content. In fact, the average amount of shares for all the content in our dataset is 9.7x higher than content published in the B2B space. This finding wasn’t surprising. B2C content tends to cover topics with broad appeal, like fitness, health and politics. On the other hand, B2B content on hiring, marketing and branding only appeal to a relatively small group. So it makes sense that B2C content would get shared more often. Very thought provoking indeed Brian. Some definite surprises in there and seems that a lot of content doesn’t achieve much. Will have to read post a second time as a lot to digest there!

            A research based on millions of blog posts reveals the answers you probably ask about your content

            03:11
          • Neil Patel

            17 Charts That Show Where Content Marketing is Heading

              To shed some light on where content marketing is headed, I’ve gathered data from 183 companies who are all leveraging content marketing. Each company makes at least 5 million dollars in revenue a year and generates less than $1.9 billion a year. These companies are in all different sectors, from B2B to B2C, and are part of all the major industries out there. Most importantly, they have been leveraging content marketing for at least 8 years. Now, I know many of you don’t have a company that generates at least 5 million dollars a year, but the stats and data I will show you are still relevant to your blog. In the early days, people saw big lifts in their social share count due to the fact that these social sites were still growing in popularity. But once their growth slowed down, so did the number of times the shares each piece of content generated. If you are wondering why just think of it this way… when people share content on social sites it drives users off of the platform. By keeping people on Facebook longer (or any other social platform), they make more money as people click on ads. If you are expecting to grow your blog through the social web, think again. It’s slowly driving less and less traffic each year and you should expect it to get worse. Instead of just focusing on link building to boost your rankings, you should focus on link building to also increase your referral traffic. In essence, you can get more bang for your buck by increasing two different ways to drive traffic with one strategy. Whether it is guest posting or generating PR, you should try and get as much referral traffic as possible as it creates steady traffic that isn’t too affected by algorithm updates. As you can see from the graph above, Google has continually shifted from ranking web pages to pushing up content over time. And it doesn’t look like that the trend is stopping anytime soon. Blogs are generating, on average, 60 to 62 percent of a site’s search traffic. Sure, it’s going to be different for the Amazon’s of the world, but you aren’t them… and neither am I. SEO is also getting more competitive because there are more blogs popping up and people are creating tons of content. But you have no choice but to do the same if you want to keep up. On average, mid-sized companies now have at least 2 full-time employees managing their blog. It’s because they know content marketing isn’t going anywhere without putting in real effort and you need to take it seriously if you want to grow fast. Now, I don’t want you to get scared by that number as a lot of those contractors are writing content. They are not working full time… it’s as simple as some of them writing only a handful of content pieces a month. It’s also more efficient to have contractors as you can scale up and down faster. On top of that, you’ll find that you will save money in the long run as contractors and consultant tends to be cheaper than full-time employees. They are now averaging 2,118 words per post. In 2016 that number peaked out at 2,381 words because people started producing in-depth guides, which caused that number to spike. The same goes with blogging, the more content you create (assuming it is high quality), the higher the chance you’ll have of attracting more visitors. At the top of the funnel, you want to attract as many people as possible. The more people you attract, the more revenue you’ll eventually end up generating. Now, that doesn’t mean they converted into a customer right when they landed on the blog for the first time. More so, they learned about the company first through their blog. The average number of times someone needs to come back to your blog before they convert is 3.15 times and they tend to convert over a 2-week period of time. Now, you’ll also find that as you create content people don’t just open up their wallets and give you their money. You need to push them to convert. When I dug into it, these companies on average spend $51,409 a month on paid ads. And each year they saw their ad costs drastically increase. But what’s helped reduce their blended CPA is remarketing all of their blog readers. What countries do you think most blog readers are coming from? You probably are going to guess the United States or other native English speaking countries. At one point it was 91% but now it has dropped down to 53%. This has also created a trend in which companies are now translating their content to different languages. I was able to ride the trend before most people because I got pushed to do so by a Google employee. It was the best marketing advice and it seems to be true for pretty much every blogger out there. As you can see from the chart above, the biggest traffic gains content marketers are currently getting are from translating their content into multiple languages. The second biggest gain is coming from updating old content. Content marketing is no longer a game of cranking out hundreds of articles a month. If you want to continually do well, you have to maintain and keep your old content up to date. The last biggest trend is WordPress isn’t the only content player these days. If you are going to write a blog post, might as well get the most traffic by placing it everywhere. Medium and Tumblr are also great for content. Remember, Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content. There is nothing wrong with putting content on your blog and then publishing it on Medium and Tumblr a week later. You can do the same with the social shares… in addition to sharing your content on Facebook, you can publish your whole post a week later on Facebook. And if you are creating video and audio content you can upload them to Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and any other platform that will accept it. Because of that, their algorithms are acting more favorable to content types that keep people on their platform and engaged for hours… hence, you need to expand outside of just text-based content. If you are going to take one thing from the charts above, you need to focus on translating your content to other languages as it isn’t as competitive. In addition to that, you need to focus on creating video and audio-based content. Videos have already starting to take off, podcasting isn’t there yet, but it will within the next few years.

              Neil Patel brings us a visual summary of everything we have to know about content marketing, with some important insights

              02:37
            • Brafton

              How long should a blog post be?

                It’s a question asked by content writers and SEOs everywhere. The answer is elusive. Google this question, and you’ll get numbers across the board, and none of them seem conclusive. The truth is, all of these are partly right. The other truth – one that’s either liberating or frustrating (or both) – is that the right word count depends on your content and goals. But your goals go beyond that. You might write a piece that you hope will generate a lot of social shares, or a piece that will become the go-to guide for solving a common problem in your industry. If you’re aiming to rank for a specific keyword (and you probably are), long-form content is generally the way to go. The average Google first page result word count is 1,890, according to Backlinko. Longer articles support SERP success in a few ways. For Google to rank you higher in search results, your content needs to be valuable to readers. Google can only make that determination if you have enough content to show Google that you know what you’re talking about. The longer your articles are, the more context Google will have and the more likely it’ll identify your piece as worthwhile (granted that it actually is, of course). Content that is about 500 words or longer will require additional structural elements within the copy, like subheadings and images, to break it up. Without HTML tags and design cues, articles become seas of gray text incapable of holding readers’ attention. Plus, with no visual anchors or points of reference, it’s easy to get lost in that sea. Subheads and image alt text provide Google further context about your content, which should help you rank higher. When you write longer blogs about a given subject, you’ll usually end up with a more comprehensive article. It’s more likely to answer the specific questions your readers are searching, and that means they’ll stay on your page for longer. Google notices which pages readers are spending their time on (through metrics like dwell time, bounce rates, the number of unique sessions per user, among others) and rewards those pages. Though it’s generally accepted that longer content will perform better in SERPs, this rule of thumb isn’t perfect. In a guest post for Moz, we pointed out that our research showed otherwise. We looked at how word count correlated to keyword position, as well as how word count correlated to additional keyword ranking (outside the targeted keyword). In both cases, word count didn’t make a difference. Granted, all cases in the data we took into consideration were blog posts with word counts of at least 900 words. We weren’t analyzing 300- or 500-word articles. Could this have made a difference? In the article, we ponder whether Google has a long-form threshold that’s lower than 900 words, above which there is no added value for more content (in rankings, at least). We doubt it, but there’s always that possibility. A good social strategy supports your blog by keeping your content top of mind, engaging with your readers or customers and taking advantage of the many paths people may take to find your website. A BuzzSumo analysis found that articles between 3,000 and 10,000 words were shared most often, with 8,859 shares on average. Articles that were 1,000 words or shorter got fewer than 5,000 shares on average. Buffer similarly found that blog posts that were 2,500 or more words received vastly more social shares than those under 2,000 words. A unique aspect of social media shares is the fact that people often don’t read the articles before they share – at least not in their entirety. One study found that 59 percent of people don’t click on article links before sharing them on social media. People share based on perceived value. They read the headline and perhaps even the description, then share based on their personal opinions and preconceived notions. Even when people click on articles, they typically don’t read the whole thing. Only 20 percent of people finish the articles they begin, and the average person only reads 25 percent of articles, according to Sumo. Instead, they skim and scroll. That’s where subheads, images, charts, bulleted lists and other easy-to-consume elements benefit your content. The more value a person perceives just by glancing at the title, headlines and other features, the more likely they’ll share it. Establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry is a great way to gain respect and customers alike. And content marketing is one method to demonstrate your leadership. Long-form content can support your case that you are knowledgeable and trustworthy. In many cases, it’s easier to include more research and insight in long-form content than shorter posts. If you’re limited on words, you’re simply going to have to leave out some details. Conversely, if you can write a well-constructed long-form piece, you could include all aspects around a subject. If you’re addressing a particularly multifaceted topic, you’ll only be able to touch on all the importants points if you give yourself the room to do so. Consider the article, “Clever Company Newsletter Ideas to Wow Your Audience” that Chelsey Church wrote for the Brafton blog. At 1,839 words long, it’s quite the read. But Chelsey provides relevant, helpful information for anyone trying to improve or create their company newsletter. She not only uses this article to point out ideas and examples, but also information about why they work. As with any other aspect of your content – like subject, tone and the types of images you use – article length depends on your specific audience preferences. Do your readers typically like long-form content, or are they more likely to engage in shorter posts? The best way to gather this information is by observing the performance of your own content. Use Google Analytics to see how people interact with your articles of varying lengths. If you see high bounce rates on longer articles – or shorter ones – that could potentially be a sign you need to adjust your word counts. There could be a number of factors that make your readers close a tab. Consider things like content quality, site speed (if a mid-article graph never loads, or loads slowly, it’s going to result in poor user experience), the number of images you use and the structure of your article. You can also turn to data from other sources to guide your word counts, too. As Neil Patel pointed out, his own observations indicate that certain industries do better with longer articles than others. Content about gadgets, for example, performs well when it’s between 300 and 500 words. Fashion also has lower word counts: between 800 and 950. On the opposite end of the scale, marketing and advertising-related content does best between 2,500 and 3,000 words. Sales also has longer word counts: between 2,500 and 2,700. There are tools you can use to help determine how long your content should be. SEMRush’s SEO Content Templates give you recommendations based on your top 10 rivals in Google for that keyword. This is the result for the keyword “long-form content:” MarketMuse will also give you an idea of how long your content should be. In these reports, you can see the average word count for competitor articles on the same keyword as well as a MarketMuse recommendation for the word count you should aim for. Here’s what MarketMuse suggests for the term “long-from content:” While the average length created by competing articles is a little more than 1,600 words, MarketMuse suggests more than doubling that length for the best results. One reason for this could be related to the keyword difficulty. “Long-form content” is harder to rank for, so you would want supporting topics and a more comprehensive piece for it to be competitive. Additionally, as you can see, the recommended word counts between resources varies quite a bit. The key, as always, is to use your best discretion in terms of the quality of your content (are you answering all reader questions?) and what your audience really wants (do they tend to click away from longer or shorter articles; are they more likely to share a longer article)? It’s clear that longer content generally performs better in SERPs and on social media, but there’s a catch. Your word count means nothing if the writing isn’t good. You could spend a day writing a 3,000-word article, but if people can’t read it or don’t gain value from it, you’re not going to hit your ultimate goals. The starting point for a quality article is relevant information. The goal should be to answer all the questions your reader might have on the topic you’re targeting. The ideal content length is however long it takes for you to answer those questions. As noted, your reader probably isn’t going to read your entire 2,000-word article from top to bottom (are you still with me, by the way?). Structuring your article to make it scannable will make it easier for the reader to find what he or she is specifically looking for. There are a couple aspects of good content structure. Paragraphs should be on the shorter side – a couple of sentences works well. Even a short line between paragraphs can help draw the reader deeper into the article. Subheadings are also helpful. H2 and H3 tags add SEO value but also tell the reader what information is where. In this article, for example, you would know where to find information about using data to determine content length as opposed to what to keep in mind for each goal you have for content. As you scroll through this article, you stopped here to learn more about long-form content structure. Images add more value for the reader and break up your text to make it more visually appealing. You can use an image to more clearly illustrate a point. People learn well through visual communication and are more likely to remember messages that have a supportive visual aid. Sure, you want to provide your readers with useful information, but your end goal is to increase your social following, earn the trust of a prospective client or make another type of conversion. To make that conversion, you need to include a call to action. Placement matters here. Your reader probably isn’t going to get all the way to the end of your article, so don’t place a CTA only at the bottom where very few will see it. Embedding multiple CTAs throughout an especially long piece can help increase conversions. One strategic method is to determine when, exactly, the average reader leaves the page. Once you know this – determined by a heat mapping tool or time-on-page metric – you can insert CTAs at the precise time to discourage bounces. In Sumo’s study (the one that found the typical person reads only one-quarter of an article), the author found that the average reader for his personal blog dropped off after 32 percent of a post. So, he added a scroll box to capture email leads at about the one-third mark. His scroll box saw a 6 percent conversion rate. In the end, the answer is still the ambiguous “it depends.” As long as you’re providing meaningful content that answers reader questions and is well-written, you’re on the right track. This post is coming in at about 2,150 words.

                Molly Ploe decided to take seriously the question that drives the content market crazy.

                03:38
              • Pacific Standard

                The Future of Podcasting Is Educational

                  The United States is quickly becoming a podcast nation. According to a 2017 survey, nearly 25 percent of Americans—around 68 million—said they listened to podcasts. Forty-two percent were even willing to pay to do so. The largest contingent of podcast listeners (44 percent) are Millennials, and that coveted cohort's tuned-in attention has attracted advertisers, whose podcast-generated revenue rose from $69 million in 2015 to $220 in 2017. In the last four years alone, the popularity of podcast listening has doubled. Even more interesting is what people are listening to. One would expect genres like sports, news, and technology to be popular—and they are—but they are all surpassed in listenership by one unlikely competitor: educational podcasts. Educational podcasting takes many forms, but entries all center on scholarly oriented themes and inquiries, taking listeners into topics framed by academic research. Forty percent of podcast listeners evidently crave this kind of challenge. With 43 percent of podcast listeners lacking a college degree, and with some studies suggesting that listening to audio content can result in greater retention of information than reading, the educational landscape is shifting in a potentially profound way: Podcasters, rather than the conventional media, political establishment, or even higher education, are in a position to shape the tone and content of public discourse. Few podcasters are more eager to assume this role than Zachary Davis, a student studying the philosophy of religion at the Harvard Divinity School and host of the educational podcast Ministry of Ideas. Davis, who is Mormon, preaches what have been called "secular sermons"; he looks to his faith as a compass for these increasingly fractured and fraught times. (To that end, he's been quite vocal about his opposition to President Donald Trump's immigration policy.) "We have a responsibility to educate ourselves to make wise decisions about political, economic, and social life," Davis says. Therein lies Davis' ministry: "civic-strengthening through education." Of course, such a claim—"empowering responsible citizens to develop skills we need to make wise judgments"—is exactly what has long defined the stated ambition of higher education, which has consciously aimed to churn out informed citizens prepared to lead lives that can fortify the moral code of civil society. But how well has that task gone?  In a nation where only a third of adults have enjoyed the opportunity to earn a college degree, and another third of the American population takes its intellectual cues from religious fundamentalism, the tried-and-true philosophy of the seminar room clearly has its limits. Might the podcast have a better shot at reaching the public at large, as it commutes or exercises, than the professor lording over a seminar room? Nothing about Ministry of Ideas is dumbed down. Recent episodes have tackled themes as weighty as the political implications of apocalyptic thought, blame and moral luck, the cultural history of cannibalism, and the intersection of transhumanism and spirituality. Davis typically grabs readers at the start with a newsy item before segueing into the (by no means obvious) spiritual issues underscoring it, interspersing his own commentary with that of consistently insightful experts (although perhaps too many from academia). The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; the Guardian and BuzzFeed have already offered endorsements. But Davis takes pride in the range of listenership he's accrued. "I've received compliments from professors of intellectual history and my brother's friend in Utah who doesn't even read books," he says. The civic-minded mission of Ministry of Ideas is specifically informed by two related points that every episode seeks to reiterate: one, we have agency in the face of seemingly intractable problems and, two, that agency, once properly recognized and directed, means that "we can change things." You cannot understand economic inequality in America until you understand the complex nature of meritocracy; you cannot understand the evangelical indifference to climate science until you understand apocalyptic theology. "We want to make explicit," Davis says, "these large forces that are behind problems that seem intractable." But aren't people scared of change? Don't we want the most basic assumptions that guide our lives to remain stable? Davis isn't so sure. For one, there are the numbers: After only two seasons and about 20 episodes, Ministry of Ideas is getting between 30,000 and 50,000 downloads per month and reaching people from 120 countries. But what most inspires Davis is something that cannot be measured. "Truth be told, as with any aspirational artist, the most fundamental goal is to help people love life more deeply," he says. "This podcast does that because to appreciate the infinite complexities of our assumptions enriches life." James McWilliams is a Pacific Standard contributing writer, a professor at Texas State University, and the author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly and a Revolution in Eating: How the Quest for Food Shaped America. Doug Metzger's Literature and History podcast—a comprehensive historical overview of the literature of the Anglophone world—has already garnered 500,000 downloads. Does his podcast provide a blueprint to intellectualizing our populace? With support from the Israeli Ministry of Education, the Abraham Fund's Language as a Cultural Bridge program is paving the way toward mandatory Arabic classes for all Jewish students in public schools. If there's an upside to the government's failure to promote legitimate sex education, it's been the convergent rise of the local sex shop and the university seminar as two venues for frank and meaningful discussion.

                  The US is very quickly turning into a podcast listening country. In fact, in 2017, a survey showed that around 25% of...

                  01:36
                • Jeffbullas's Blog

                  9 Emerging Content Marketing Trends You Need to Know in 2018 (and Beyond) - Jeffbullas's Blog

                    In 2017, we saw extensive adoption of content based promotion across all industries. In 2018, the practice will continue to thrive even more; especially in small and medium sized businesses. Content marketing offers better engagement, better conversions, and usually cost less than other forms of marketing. Besides, with a constantly increasing number of ad-blocker software users across the globe, content marketing becomes the only way to get a message through with assurance. So, this year too, brands will need to focus more on content marketing. The number of online users is increasing constantly, so too does content consumption. This has made businesses think that producing more content is the right way to get into limelight through content marketing. In fact, 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 compared to last year. However, that’s only the half solution. Over the years, Google search algorithms have become better at deciding the relevancy of content. And now search bots are smarter than ever in detecting whether a piece of content is user-friendly or not. Also, relevancy is the prime factor that triggers engagement, which is one of the main reasons why content marketing is done in the first place. A post shared by Greatist on healthy protein snacks received about 90K shares on Facebook and over 2 million Pinterest shares; all because it was of some value to the target readers. And because of its relevance, now it also appears on the top of search results when you search for ‘protein snack’, ‘healthy protein snack’, and other related terms. Companies have always relied on influencing individuals to increase their brand awareness (hint: celebrity endorsement). However, with the rise of social media in recent years and an increasing number of influencing individuals on these platforms, today, influencer marketing has grabbed the top position in the checklist of marketers. Consequently, at present, influencer marketing is going through a great upsurge, wherein brands are approaching experts to endorse/review/promote their product on their blog, social media accounts, and other online channels. In recent time, there have been many campaigns that prove how beneficial influencer marketing can be for a brand; however, the lesson 2016 has taught us is that influencer marketing revolves around trust, and a bigger following doesn’t always bring the better results. As a result, brands are focusing more on the authenticity of the social influencers, rather than number of followers. According to a New York based fashion store Gigi New York, working with micro-influencers (with small but authentic followings) brought them better engagement than working with popular social influencers. Today, most companies are using analytics for customer segmentation in order to target specific customer groups in a better way. How Airtel India is helping his customers on Twitter is a great example of devising a content marketing strategy around certain audiences. All social networks have a distinct structure when it comes to content sharing and promotion. Most of them let you personalize content either with location settings or hashtags. Based on the channel you choose for marketing, make the best use of such features. How Facebook selects content for its ‘Trending Section’ based on location is a good example of personalizing content for a specific customer segment. If you own a Facebook page and have promoted your updates in the past, then you must have seen how it allows you to target your content to a very specific group of people. Creating and promoting personalized content in this manner make a content marketing campaign focused, and win more prospects for its high relevancy. This in turn improves engagement, brand recall, and sets you apart from competitors. Video content is no new concept, as brands have been using videos as their website banner, in social media updates, email content, etc. for quite some time. And now with better video compression algorithms in place (and at the same time, with the internet’s growing penetration), videos are being used extensively to send across a brand message, promote offerings, or simply for the purpose of engagement. There are plenty of online and offline tools for video marketing to create and share professional-looking and engaging videos. Use such tools for creating a good number of videos in less time. While tools can help you in creating videos, engagement can only be built around ideas. For that, you would need to draw inspiration from how other popular brands are running their video marketing campaigns. Virtual Reality is a new way to interact with your customer through visual content. It offers a new opportunity to content marketers and increases customer engagement with your brand. While one brand uses VR to help shoppers make the final decision, another uses it to engage the clients in the initial steps. Since a few years back, the digital world has taken note of live videos and since then it has intensified. Here are some stats which will prove the growing importance of live video in the online world. Live videos add an element of fun to an already interactive form of communication. The nature of live video is raw without edits which creates an intimate communication with your audience. To use live videos to engage your audience you could host Q&A sessions, live interviews, conduct product demonstrations or unboxing, cover events and conferences, etc. Social media giant Facebook recently faced a series of lawsuits for showing fake news in its trending section. Many are of the opinion that the Facebook’s manipulated trending section also impacted the outcome of the recent presidential election. All this is happening because people are increasingly relying on social networks as a source of news. A survey done in early 2016 states that already more than 50% of social media users use it as source of news. As per Statista, 61% of digital marketers rely on Facebook to advertise monthly. Social media has evolved  as a popular content marketing channel in the last few years. Facebook and Twitter are already being extensively used for content marketing. Growth of video marketing in recent time also puts Instagram among the most popular content marketing social media channels. It’s your time to leverage the power of these channels to deliver news. Make sure everything that is talked about your brand in the future gets covered through social media too. And, especially the paid and earned coverage that you get from third party reviewers and sites should be shared on social too. Brands are now harnessing the power of IOT to provide an authentic brand experience to customers. When you hear about the Internet of Things, the first thing that comes to mind is Alexa, Siri and Google Home. With the aim of taking direct conversations to another level, IOT has given a great opportunity to brands to become an integral part of a consumer’s lives. There is an immense amount of content which is being produced by different brands; the important thing is to produce content which will stand out from the rest. Narrow your content focus and it will more likely gain traction. Creating super niche content is a result of market saturation. Marketers are creating more and more content every day. According to a recent stat by Kapost, 70% of marketers said they are creating significantly more content than the previous year. A simple technique for doing so is, instead of writing social media video marketing tips, write video marketing guide for beginners. Data indicates that effective content marketing can increase online store conversation rates by almost 6 times. How do you grow your business by using this trend? Start by identifying the super-niche of your industry. For instance, if everyone in your industry is discussing travelling, you can find a topic where you can write about travelling for those who have retired. The social media world has changed massively with the trend of ephemeral marketing. First founded by Snapchat and later adopted by every social media channel. Use ephemeral marketing appropriately for your business. Run a campaign, showcase behind the scenes, give discounts or offers, and engage your customers to your brand by using ephemeral content. That leaves businesses with several questions – like what new type of content, channels, and tools the recent technological advancements will introduce? While it is important to know these trends and capitalize on them, it is equally important to act in accordance to the fundamentals of content marketing, which are, Guest Author: Ankush Mahajan works as a senior digital marketer at FATbit Technologies, one of India’s leading custom web design/development & ready-made e-commerce solutions company. His expertise lies in branding and formulating marketing strategies for business of a number of industries. Follow him on twitter: https://twitter.com/ankushmahajann

                    Content marketing is a very important part of a total marketing strategy online. In fact, with more and more people ...

                    01:39
                  • SnapApp

                    What I Learned by Reviewing 30 Different Welcome Emails in 30 Days - SnapApp

                      I regularly sign up for email newsletters so I can learn from brilliant companies and individuals who gather up their best material and send it right to my inbox. In fact, over the past few years, I’ve probably signed up for 350+. But there’s a particular piece of the getting-started process for email newsletters I’ve been fascinated by lately: the welcome email. You know: the automated email that gets sent after you confirm your subscription. I signed up for 30 newsletters across six different verticals and started looking for the common trends and tactics that were being used in the welcome email environment. When I looked back through my inbox after a week, I noticed there was one tactic that stood out within the welcome emails I received: Many were simply text-based.   I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting to see lots of highly-designed templates. Some professional graphics. Animations and/or gifs, maybe. And yes, there were some of those in the mix, but more than half went with the stripped-down, traditional email look. Of the 30 newsletters I signed up for, 18 were either plain text or extremely lightweight (meaning they included only minimal design elements like a logo or a single image). First, we have to understand that welcome emails are some of the most opened and clicked emails. Experian research shows that welcome emails enjoy high open and click rates – averaging around a 58% open rate and 14% click-through rate, compared to an average 14% open rate and 3% click-through rate for other promotional emails. Additional data indicates that welcome emails are actually read much more often than the average email, too. These introductory messages have around a 34% average read rate, which is 42% higher than the average. Findings make a strong case for plain text (or at least very limited design elements) over HTML-ridden templates. In many cases, text-only can help create a stronger dialogue with subscribers, increase deliverability, boost click-through rates, and more. ContentStandard recently spotlighted a new type of email that’s on the rise: The journalistic style. These are narrative-driven messages written specifically for the inbox environment that often take a deeper dive into specific interest areas. This semi-exclusive content is built with the email subscriber in mind and lets the written material speak for itself without the aid of flashy design. One example I found following this approach came within the Farnam Street newsletter. The welcome email I received from creator Shane Parrish was text-only and included a basic introduction to the content, which clearly follows the journalistic approach. Because inboxes like Gmail automatically filter out emails they deem commercial to the ‘Promotions’ tab, some writers have ditched their templates for a more stripped-down, text-only format. Research from HubSpot shows that emails with many different HTML design elements (like image tags included in templates for gifs and images) are more frequently filtered than emails without. Even though many marketers send both an HTML and plain-text version to subscribers to help ensure they stay out of the SPAM folder, it doesn’t always make a major impact. Filtering mechanisms of inboxes are becoming increasingly effective at detecting marketing/promotional material, so more and more welcome emails are being relegated to secondary tabs where they don’t get opened, read, or clicked on. As a result, some organizations are working to strip down their templates to either minimal design elements or none at all. Feeding America was one non-profit organization I saw working within the lightweight design context: The reason, according to SmartInsights, is that subscribers, like the inbox filtering mechanisms we just discussed, are good at detecting marketing, and glossy HTML templates are a red flag. The email inbox is primarily used and valued as a space for direct, one-on-one interaction. And that’s what plain text emails look like – a real email from one person to another, not a marketing piece or advertisement. Each newsletter audience is unique, just like the businesses and individuals who write them. The only way to know for sure which produces better results is to conduct multiple A/B tests. Now that we’ve noted the trend and explored some of the potential driving forces behind it, let’s look at some of the other interesting tactics used within these text-based emails that you can work into those A/B tests. From asking to be whitelisted to using a real person’s name and photo, there were three additional tactics used in these text-based welcome emails that I think are worth calling out: When a real person (the CEO or person writing the welcome email) was the one signing off in the signature line, I felt like it instantly added a human element. The reason: You can now associate this email (and future emails) with a name and face at the company. It’s not just “The team at X Company”, for example. However, asking to be whitelisted (AKA getting the newsletter added to the subscriber’s saved contacts) helps increase the likelihood your email will end up in the recipients primary email folder (instead of a SPAM or Promotions tab). I noticed that the New York Times asked new subscribers to take this action within their welcome email – which is a smart way to boost the chances future emails get opened. Other brands used the welcome email to encourage efficient onboarding. Support software company Groove automatically sent me a welcome email with simple steps for getting started (and they too used the CEO’s name and photo.) I liked that there was no lag time during which I had to wait for further instructions – the welcome email came right away. I could jump in with both feet without fumbling around and trying to figure things out on my own. While what I learned seems to make a strong case for a plain text future (or at least its popularity in the moment), my findings were drawn from fairly limited sample size. I looked at 30 different welcome letters within a relatively small set of industry verticals – so it’s important to remember that the outcome here very well may look different when examining a different set of companies and niches. Should you take my results as hard and fast proof that text-only formatting is the future of newsletter welcome emails? No. You should, however, take it as food for thought in regard to future A/B testing. As you experiment with plain text vs. HTML templates, look to your results and hard data when making any final decisions. Copyright © 2018 SnapApp, Inc.  |  Terms of Service  |  SnapApp & Data Privacy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Website Terms of Use

                      Singing up for email newsletters is a great way to learn from both individuals and companies that have gathered their...

                      00:28
                    • The Next Web

                      Your first choice is rarely the optimal choice: 5 lessons on being wrong

                        James Clear writes about using behavioral science to master your habits and improve your health. His free guide, Transform Your Habits, has been downloaded more than 80,000 times. This post originally appeared on his blog. In cases like these, when we are attempting to do something that is complex and multi-faceted, I believe that being wrong is actually a sign that you’re doing something right. For some reason, we often expect our first choice to be the optimal choice. However, it’s actually quite normal for your first attempt to be incorrect or wrong. This is especially true of the major decisions that we make in life. When it comes to complex issues like determining the values you want in a partner or selecting the path of your career, your first attempt will rarely lead to the optimal solution. When you look back on your choices from a year ago, you should always hope to find a few decisions that seem stupid now because that means you are growing. If you only live in the safety zone where you know you can’t mess up, then you’ll never unleash your true potential. If you know enough about something to make the optimal decision on the first try, then you’re not challenging yourself. The faster you learn from being wrong, the sooner you can discover what is right. For complex situations like relationships or entrepreneurship, you literally have to start before you feel ready because it’s not possible for anyone to be truly ready. I can’t look at any business and tell you what to do. Entrepreneurship is too big of a topic. But, I can look at any website and tell you how to optimize it for building an email list because that topic is small enough for me to develop some level of expertise. If you want to get better at making accurate first choices, then play in a smaller arena. As Neils Bohr, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, famously said, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” You can trust yourself to make sharp decisions in areas where you already have proven expertise. For everything else, the only way to discover what works is to adopt a philosophy of experimentation. There is no reason to be depressed or give up simply because you will make a few wrong choices. Even more crucial, you must try your best every time because it is the effort and the practice that drives the learning process. They are essential, even if you fail. Realize that no single choice is destined to fail, but that occasional failure is the cost you have to pay if you want to be right. Expect to win and play like it from the outset.

                        We as humans tend to be very self critical, especially when it comes to the important choices in life. If we make a ...

                        02:40
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