Creating a successful content strategy and marketing plan is a lot like a cooking a 4-star meal…

There’s a host of complex ingredients that go into it, all at different stages, allowing the unique flavors to express themselves at just the right time.

You need to combine the right mix of ingredients to maximize the flavors, get the timing right to optimize the mix, and ultimately present something that is visually appealing as well as something you’d like to share.

Just like cooking an exquisite meal isn’t as simple as dropping all the ingredients into a pot and stirring, the process of creating a content strategy and marketing isn’t as simple as publishing a blog post and sharing it on social media. You need to understand your target audience’s problems and pain points and help them solve those with your content.

Knowing a few growth hacks can unleash the potential of your content strategy and take the execution of your marketing to the next level.

Carrying out just 1-2 of these tactics will boost ROI from your content, resulting in more subscribers, traffic, shares, and leads.

We all want that, right?

 

1. Use Optimal Share Times For Your Audience

Creating great content is hard.

Distributing content to the right audience is even harder.

And just as adding ingredients at the right time is key to a perfect dish. it’s important to distribute your content at the right time, too. After defining your personas, you can seek this audience out on social media and get your content into their hands, encouraging them to share it. This is the hard part, as it takes outreach. (More on that in #2 below).

What if you could instantly reach a larger portion of your audience without any serious effort just by knowing a simple little hack called timing?  

When Quicksprout founder Neil Patel started to track and post at ideal times, his social media traffic climbed by 39%.)

So what exactly are those peak usage times?

Data from Hubspot shows that the best time to post on Twitter is: Wednesday 5PM EST.

Timing and Twitter

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And the best time for posting on Facebook is on Saturday at noon EST.

Timing and Facebook

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Remember the statistics above are “best practices.” While they definitely beat posting at random times, finding posting times with the highest engagement and social media traffic returns will require tracking and testing. Fortunately there are tools you can use for this.

 

Tools for Facebook include:

Facebook Analytics

Facebook Insights

In your Facebook business/brand page, go to Insights and click on Posts to see when your viewers are online. Select a good general time from within the entire weeks range as below, and then look at daily popular times where your audience engages with  your posts.

 

Fanpage Karma

Also check out Fanpage Karma.

You can track various key performance indicators of your Facebook pages, including ideal times and posting frequency to reach your specific audience.

Below shows one of the easy-to-understand KPI graphs that should make tweaking schedule times quite simple.

Facebook Karma

Tools for Twitter include:

Twitter Analytics

To find out the best times to tweet, click the Demographics tab in the Audiences section of your Twitter analytics.

The Demographics report lets you see vital stats about your audience including gender, location, net worth, consumer behavior, and more.

You’ll want to focus on Country and Region stats. This will give you an idea about time zones you need to choose to reach these people.

Twitter Audience Insights

On the Demographics tab, you can view data about many important characteristics of your followers.

You can see my audience is mostly in the United States, and since 80% of the U.S. population is in ET and CT I can infer that posting in those time zones during the workday will result in higher engagement.

Experiment with sharing relevant content tailored to interests from a particular region and articles from a region’s influencers. If one of your content pieces starts earning a high number of clicks and shares, schedule it throughout the day to reach new users.

 

Followerwonk

Another great tool for tracking your influence on Twitter is Followerwonk. You get a window into influencers in any niche, what time they post and what their engagement rates look like.

Of course to see this, start by following influencers in your niche. Engaging with an influencer’s audience is a good way to get them to become a part of your own audience.

In Followerwonk, you can easily see what times of day influencers are getting the best engagement rates and experiment with those times in your own account.

In FollowerWonk, go to Sort Followers, sort by Social Authority and click on the first result. In my account, Buffer has the highest social authority, so I should definitely click on the little graph icon to the right of their bio and check out their stats.

FollowerWonk

Knowing the KPI’s of the most influential accounts in your niche will help you setup a similar  schedule framework to reach important people when they’re most active.

 

2. Don’t Just “Publish & Pray” — Distribute Your Content

Remember my point in #1 about the outreach part being hard? Well this is is how you distribute it to every possible channel. Repurpose your content for the following platforms and reach out to people who are active in your niche there.

 

LinkedIn Owned: Slideshare & Pulse

Convert your more data-heavy blog content into a presentation and upload to SlideShare, remember to add keyword rich Title & Descriptions to every presentation and add your website and social media channels.

For LinkedIn Pulse, create a shorter form of your content, and use visuals and tags just as you would with a WordPress post.

Share it in your LinkedIn Groups, being careful to add value and not spam. Benefits are wide-ranging and they include:

  1. Utilizing your existing audience
  2. increasing search engine visibility  since content on LinkedIn Pulse appears in  search results.
  3. Strategically placed backlinks results in referral traffic to your website.

You can take this hack to the next level by sharing to multiple groups at once using this power up approach.

 

Convert Into Visual Content Using Pinterest

A recent case study shows that Pinterest is the second biggest driver of referral traffic. Content with relevant images get 94% more views than content without visual content, to growth hack your content marketing efforts, simply pin your images from your visual-heavy content to targeted and descriptive Pinterest board.

 

Convert Your Content Into A Cast

Reach out to someone you mentioned in your content and ask them to chat with you about the subject. Growth Hacker, Roy Povarchik and I had a spontaneous conversation using Zcast on the topic of habits and rituals.

After announcing it on Twitter, we were able to get an audience there live within 5 minutes and both spun up supplementary blog and Medium content. My post actually then got picked up by Hacker Daily.

 

Reddit Where Relevant

Look for /r/subreddits that align with your content or niche and go interact, provide helpful tips then drop your content strategically or you might get kicked out.

Look for /r/subreddits that align with your content or niche and jump into the conversation. If the opportunity presents itself, share your content, But be mindful of the community you are participating in. Reddit hates blatant marketing. Think more about answering questions, sharing resources and asking questions. You will get your brand blacklisted if you show up to the party, only to ruin the fun. Learn the ropes before you join any threads.

 

Submit It To The Queue

There are some new opportunities in the article submission realm that stand to change the game completely.  If you haven’t done so check out Quuu.co. if you content fits into one of their many categories, you can submit it to their “queue” and have others share your work on social for you. Earing you social authority, backlinks and powerful distribution.

Another new player in content distribution is Peggy. Although they are currently in private beta, you can submit your content to them to be considered for their queue of hand-curated content for their social media clients. Similar to Quuu, you can have influencers spread your content around for you on social media. Saving you time, earning you leads.

 

Influencer Outreach

It’s what everyone is doing. If you want to increase your odds of being noticed or getting a response try and cite up-and-comers in your industry in your posts instead of the top -tier players who are constantly getting asked for things. That being said, if you think your content is worthy of a share from Matt Cutts or Neil Patel, by all means, hit them up. They need to keep their channels full, just like the rest of us.

My favorite tools to make outreach easier are ContentMarketer.io – Notifier and Buzzsumo- Content Research.

ContentMarketer.io has a neat feature where you can load the URL of your article and it will find everyone you mentioned and let you notify them in one click.

Content Marketer io Notifier

With Buzzsumo you can find out:

  • Which headlines have been popular with your target audience
  • Which social media platforms are better for your niche
  • Which Influencers are up-and-comers, by how many followers they have
  • What content structure your target audience particularly likes

My favorite feature is the Content Research tab where you can see the most popular content within your niche or by keyword. From there you can sort based on network you are active on and see what has done the best on that specific network. From there, make something better!

Buzzsumo Content ResearchPro Tip: Just like we did with Google Keyword Planner, you can also use your competitor’s website in BuzzSumo and see all of its most popular blog posts.

Another great feature of BuzzSumo is the ability to “View Sharers” of specific pieces of content.

Being able to see who has shared a particular piece of content allows you to identify influencers and see what they are interested in. Write your content with those up-and-comers in mind, and then your outreach should be a piece of cake.

Save Influencer for Outreach

 

3. Scoop Up More Email Subscribers With The Content Upgrade

Content upgrades are great hacks because:

  • They are highly relevant to your target audience
  • They are opt-in
  • They serve your visitors’’s needs
  • They give your posts additional value
  • They let you optimize traffic

You can even add an upgrade to an existing piece of content on your site. To do this find your most popular content with Google Analytics, and create a tailored, downloadable upgrade that people have to opt-in for to access.

It could be a report, checklist, cheat sheet, or a  template. Your main priority is providing a more valuable solution to a problem you know your audience has.

A case study by Valuewalk showed how they gained 2,300 subscribers and increased email sign ups in just 30 days with smart, targeted content upgrades.

Content Upgrade Email Subscription Boost

Unlike traditional “site-wide” opt-ins, a content upgrade is bonus content tailored for a specific landing page or blog post.

For example, let’s say you are a chef and created a resource site for other chefs and have even created your own line of culinary products for sale on your site.

An eager would-be chef lands on your site.

She’s seen your “site-wide” e-book about “First Year in the Kitchen Survival Tips,” but she doesn’t download it.

Now, while exploring your site, she finds a post on surviving your first year in the kitchen on your way to becoming a full fledged itamae (sushi chef).

This is where the content upgrade comes in.

Because you were a smart strategist and created “Sushi Chef in Training” as one of your target personas, and since you have a line of Sushi grade knives for sale, you knew that customizing your content and tailoring an upgrade to her would be a sure way to attract a lead for your Sushi Chef culinary line.

While she’s scrolling through your post—or after she finishes—she’s sees a pop up which asks her for her email address in order to receive a report called “5 First Year Survival Lessons From Master Itamae of Japan.” Or maybe “10 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid In Your First Year As An Itamae.”

There’s a higher chance of her becoming a lead now because a) she signed up for your email list and b) your offer is tailored to help her solve her problems: surviving her first year in chef school and/or not making rookie mistakes!

You can easily add this pop-up to your website without any coding skills by using SumoMe Scroll Box. It is fully customizable to your site.

I use it to offer my email subscribers a free influencer outreach template they can use to track their outreach efforts.

SumoMe Scroll Box

Go to Behavior and then to Landing Pages to see what your site’s most popular content is and start brainstorming ways to compliment the landing page with a content upgrade.

Landing Pages Analytics

Behavior -> Landing Pages

 

4. Use Multivariate Testing To Maximize Leads

For most marketers, A/B testing is the default method to optimize for conversions. Another testing method that can help squeeze more out of your content is multivariate testing (MVT).

 

What’s the difference between A/B and MVT?

 

A/B testing typically tests drastic whole page changes at a time. You’ll have variations of an important page element—or even the entire page—and split the traffic between those pages.

A/B Testing

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MVT testing, on the other hand, measures interaction effects between smaller, independent page elements. Various page elements are tested on different pages to see which variations of the page perform the best.

While A/B tests use a smaller number of elements with extreme differences, multivariate tests use a larger number of variables with subtle differences.

Multivariate testing

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Multivariate testing can be great for growth hacking your content. By testing smaller -, but heavy-hitting, content related elements like your…

  • Headlines
  • Intros
  • CTAs
  • Share button placement/size

… you’ll discover subtle tweaks that’ll snowball into huge lifts in conversions and growth.  

However, please note that you shouldn’t use multivariate testing if you’re lacking traffic.

3k-10k visitors/ month is an okay place to start. But you should still be wary of  lower traffic numbers because your data will be unreliable. An easy way to overcome the high traffic problem is to test fewer interactions—stick to 3-4 smaller elements instead of 6-8.  

 

5. Allow People To Embed Your Infographics

Simultaneous Processing

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Research shows that people only read 28% of words per visit, and that we receive 5 times as much information as we did in the 1980s. We’re swamped with information—which is why infographics work so well.

The brain is hardwired to consume visually. Almost 50% of our mental real estate is used for visual processing; 70% of all our sensory receptors are in our eyes, and we can understand a visual scene within 1/10th of a second.

Basically, infographics work because they visually “spoon-feed” us information by traveling through our visual senses and into our neurological connections. This makes content easier to process and more engaging to consume, making infographics a powerful hack for more traffic and shares.

To reap the rewards from infographics, make it as easy as possible for people to share them. Use embed codes to allow people to spread your infographics on their pages. Not only will this encourage sharing, it will also result in more inbound links to your blog.  

 

Quick Tips on how to gain more links with infographics:

If you are on WordPress, you can follow these quick steps to make your infographics more shareable:

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and go to Create New Post.
  2. Go to your source of the infographics and copy the embed code.
  3. In the Create New Post menu, switch from the visual editor and to the text (HTML editor). In the text editor,paste the infographic code.
  4. Go back to the visual editor to view how it will be rendered in your post.
  5. Finally, make sure you use an embed code generator to make sure it’s super easy to share.

 

Final Thoughts

Content marketing has changed the way businesses operate online. And while it’s capable of generating amazing growth, it’s also hard work.

Using the best ingredients, tools, and with a little dedication, you can create a better recipe for content. The growth hacks above will help ease your journey towards more subscribers, traffic, and growth.