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How to Drive Bottom-of-Funnel Results From Your Blog

  Note: This article was written based on content and ideas shared by James Scherer from Wishpond in a webinar hosted on the Growth Marketing Conference webinar series. Before we make the decision to buy, we all go through a particular process. Marketers call that process the “sales funnel,” and it looks something like this: Image Credit It’s […]

 

Note: This article was written based on content and ideas shared by James Scherer from Wishpond in a webinar hosted on the Growth Marketing Conference webinar series.

Before we make the decision to buy, we all go through a particular process. Marketers call that process the “sales funnel,” and it looks something like this:

Image Credit

It’s essentially a simplified customer journey: the steps consumers take while deciding what to buy and from whom. At the top of the funnel are people who are yet to be exposed to your brand. At the bottom are people who are ready to buy; they just need convincing that they should buy from you.

Every stage of the funnel is important, but it’s towards the bottom of the funnel where things get really interesting. To maximize leads we need to target the top stages of the funnel, but our end goal – generating sales and revenue – only happens when we get those leads to the bottom of the funnel.

To do this, we have to nurture those leads. There are a number of ways you could do this but arguably the easiest, most effective, and most cost-effective is email. Email sequences, to be exact.

In fact, according to stats reported by HubSpot, leads nurtured with targeted content result in more than a 20% uplift in sales opportunities.

In a moment, we’re going to go through a tried-and-tested process for nurturing leads and driving bottom-of-funnel results from your blog; but first, let’s touch on one of the most important factors in creating blog content that converts:

Creating Better Content

Your ability to generate and nurture leads is dependent in large part on the quality of your content. After all, if your readers aren’t getting value from your content, why would they want anything else from you?

This means that if your content isn’t up to scratch, improving it is the first step in driving bottom-of-funnel results from your blog.

So what constitutes “better content”?

It should be long-form

Long-form content is more detailed than short-form, and, consequently, offers more value to the reader. There’s also more content for search engines to read and analyze, which typically translates to better rankings and more traffic.

While there’s no hard-and-fast rule as to what constitutes long-form content, most marketers agree that 1500 words and up is a good figure to aim for.

It should include images

They help illustrate points and break up text, making it easier to read. Use them.

It should feature examples

Simplify difficult processes with screenshots, or, failing that, easy-to-follow bullet point or numbered lists.

It should be actionable

Explain to readers how they can put the suggestions you make into practice.

It should feature new ideas

Be as original as you can. Try to avoid focusing on ideas and strategies that your target audience has heard 1000 times already.

The points it includes should be proven

Legitimize your points and arguments with real-world examples and case studies.

It should be personal and tell a story

Why have you written this content? Why should people listen to what you have to say on this subject? Personalize your content by framing it in the context of your story.

Once your content’s ticking all the boxes above, you should be ready to start using it to drive bottom-of-funnel results from your blog. Let’s talk about how.

Using Your Blog as a Lead Generation Tool

Before you can nurture a lead, you have to capture it. Your blog is doing the grunt work for you – it’s either driving people to the site, or engaging those that are already on it. Your next challenge is to learn a little bit more about those visitors by getting them to hand over their details.

  1. VIP demos

This tool is designed specifically to drive leads from bottom-of-funnel blog content. By this I mean content aimed at potential customers that are seriously considering buying from you.

To capture those bottom-of-funnel visitors, you need to enhance your content with CTAs (which might sit above, below or in the sidebar of the content, or in a pop-up) that invite the visitor to sign up for a one-on-one VIP product demo.

This CTA should take the user to a short form. Exactly what that form contains is up to you but in this context it makes sense to ask for the prospect’s name, email address, and industry.

Anyone who completes that form gets placed in a segmented email list which will trigger an email sequence designed to set up a date and time for the demo.

  1. Blog subscriptions

This tool can be used to drive leads at all stages of the funnel, although its effectiveness increases as prospects move down the funnel and become more familiar with your company and content.

Simply put, offering blog subscriptions as a lead generation tool works because readers will subscribe to get more of what they want.

As with the VIP demo tool, place CTAs above, below, in the sidebar of the content, or in a popup (or a combination of all four).

Image Credit

A short signup form should be contained within that CTA. All you really need is the subscriber’s email address, but for the purpose of lead nurturing it helps to get their first name, too. That said, if in doubt remember that shorter is always better.

“Every field you ask them to fill increases friction. The best thing you can do to improve conversions is to get rid of as many fields as possible.” Peep Laja, ConversionXL

Again, once a visitor completes the form they will be placed in a segmented email list and a sequence of targeted emails will follow.

3.Content upgrades

Content upgrades are an article-specific lead generation tool. By that I mean that each content upgrade is tied to the article it appears on. It’s especially effective when tied to in-depth content (or 10x content) and listicles.

Brian Dean explains in detail what a content upgrade is and how they work here; however, in short, they are a piece of paywall-hidden content that accompanies and enhances the article it’s linked to.

The upgrade itself could simply be the article in a downloadable PDF. Alternatively, it might be a downloadable checklist or “bonus” points or tips.

Image Source

Exactly what the upgrade is doesn’t really matter, so long as it genuinely adds value to the user. What does matter is that it’s being used correctly to capture that user’s details so they can be placed in the relevant email list, and the email sequence can begin.

The CTA itself is best placed within the article itself, like so:

Alternatively (or additionally) it can be placed below or in the sidebar of the content, or in a pop-up (just make sure to give the user a chance to read a good chunk of the content before pushing the upgrade on them). Once again, limit the barrier to entry by asking only for the prospect’s first name and email address.

Nurturing Leads through Segmented Email Campaigns

Using your blog as a lead-generation tool is only the first step in driving bottom-of-funnel results from it. Very few of those leads will be ready to buy, so you need to nurture them until they’re ready to make a purchase.

Segmenting leads

We already know that new leads should get placed in segmented email lists. There are lots of ways you might segment your email lists, but there are two we’re going to focus on here.

Leads segmented according to interest, and leads segmented according to industry.

Leads segmented by interest

The majority of leads will be segmented by interest only.

How do we know what a lead’s interested in?

We could ask them, but we know we need to keep our sign-up forms as short as possible. With this in mind, their “interest” would be dictated by the subject of the content they converted on.

For example, we can assume that someone who converted on an article about using Facebook in marketing is interested in social media marketing. They would then be placed in a list that ensures they are exclusively (at least initially) sent emails and content about social media.

Leads segmented by industry

When a prospect converts on a bottom-of-funnel content piece – like the VIP demo mentioned just above – we’re ideally going to want to segment them according to their industry. This is because you’re going to want to nurture them with emails that align the features of your product with pain points that are typical of their industry.

It will also help your sales team understand the prospect’s needs, so they can sell to them more effectively.

Unfortunately, to get this information, you’re going to have to ask for it. That probably means adding a third box to the signup form.

Nurturing leads

Once you’re successfully segmenting leads into appropriate email lists, you’re going to want to create the email sequences that will nurture them, and push them towards converting.

Let’s run through the email sequences you might create to nurture leads coming from each of the lead generation tools discussed just above.

VIP demo leads

Anyone who’s filled out a form asking for a product demo is either very near to, or at the bottom of the sales funnel. In this case specifically, the lead has stated outright that they would like a product demo.

This means your first email would ask the prospect when they would like the demo to take place (you can see a template for this and all email subject lines in the sequence just below).

Bonus tip: you can streamline the booking process by providing a link to a calendar that they book themselves straight into.

Needless to say, if the prospect converts as a result of that email, the sequence ends.

If they don’t, they should receive a follow-up email a few days later. You may want to personalize the follow up, in accordance with the prospect’s interests or industry.

Again, if the prospect converts, the sequence ends.

If they don’t, a third and final email should be received, again a few days later. You’ll probably want to personalize this one, too, with the prospect’s interest or industry. Another good trick is to begin the subject line “Re:” as a reminder that they have initiated the conversation by asking to arrange the demo.

Blog subscription leads

The first email a blog subscription lead should receive is a simple “thank you for subscribing” email. That’s all the subject line of this email needs to be, but again, you can see the template for this and subsequent email subject lines in the sequence just below.

Bonus tip: ensure whoever sends this email sends all of the emails.The sequence might be automated, but this goes a long way toward personalizing the interaction.

Email two sends the subscriber a piece of content that’s relevant to their interest, and that also demonstrates your product’s link to this and how it can help resolve the prospect’s (assumed) pain points.

This will subtly help funnel subscribers towards your product.

Email three should be a sales email, similar to the first email you might send to a VIP demo lead. You’re simply asking if they have time to talk that week about their subject of interest.

If they convert at this point, the sequence ends. If they don’t, they receive a fourth email.

Email four should be a case study that highlights the value your business can add to them.

Email five is sent regardless of whether or not the lead clicked through to the case study. This email should offer a discount. It should also offer a demo or call of some kind.

If the lead converts, then great. If not, they get sent to the general newsletter segment.

Content upgrade leads

The first email a content upgrade lead should receive is the content upgrade itself. This should be delivered the moment they request it (once again, you can see subject line templates for all emails in the sequence just below).

Email two should be an example article – similar to what you would send a blog subscription lead.

Email three should be a sales email – again similar to what you would send a demo or blog subscriber lead.

If they convert at this point, the sequence ends. If not, they receive a fourth email.

Email four should be a case study. It needs to demonstrate how your business might add value to the lead.

Email five should offer the subscriber free access to an on-demand resource like a webinar, video, or podcast – something with your voice on it, or better yet, your face. The idea here is to further the relationship the lead has with you before they receive the next sales email.

Email six should be another resource that helps educate the customer on your product’s link to their interests and pain points – for example, something like “proven strategies for success in [their interest].”

Bonus tip: the resource should highlight your product’s features and benefits through product pictures or (if it’s a tool) screenshots of it in action.

Email seven is a sales email – a discount or coupon. Add urgency with a time limit (seven days is fair). It’s also a good idea to send a reminder email 24 hours or so before the discount or coupon expires (assuming, of course, that the lead hasn’t converted).

Once again, if the lead converts, great. If not, they get sent to the general newsletter segment.

Bear in mind that all the suggestions above are just that – suggestions. Use this strategy as a guide for effective email nurturing, but remember that what you include in your email sequences, and how many emails you send, is totally up to you.

Do you already nurture leads using email sequences? Does your strategy differ from what we’ve outlined here? It’d be great if you could share your secrets and let us know how effective they’ve been – comments are below:

Blogger Outreach: How to Integrate Influencers Into Your Content Marketing Strategy

You’ve slaved away for days on a stellar piece of content for your business’ website. You’ve made sure that it’s optimized just the way that the experts advised. You uploaded it to your site and distributed it to your different social media channels and you gave yourself a well-deserved pat on the back… Then, the […]

You’ve slaved away for days on a stellar piece of content for your business’ website.

You’ve made sure that it’s optimized just the way that the experts advised.

You uploaded it to your site and distributed it to your different social media channels and you gave yourself a well-deserved pat on the back…

Then, the next day, you check your stats and…

You find…NOTHING!

Blogging Conspiracy Keanu

Clearly, the blog post was published, the pat on the back was given, what more do you need?

After all that hard work, you’ve got nothing to show, leaving you feeling frustrated, disappointed, and possibly, disillusioned.

But, whom are we kidding? You’re downright ticked off!

It’s enough for you to start thinking that all the benefits of content marketing are just hype and you’re seriously considering giving up.

Before you throw in the towel on content marketing, I want you to know that I’ve been there, and I feel your pain.

However, at the same time, I’m here to tell you about a strategy that I added into my content marketing activities that’s gotten influential bloggers and startup founders to share my content, get me some guest post invites, rank #2 in Google, and get new clients in the process.

That strategy is blogger outreach.

Blogger outreach (sometimes called influencer outreach) is getting other bloggers within your niche to promote your content and brand on their blog and social media accounts.

Not just any bloggers, of course.

We’re talking here of those established and influential bloggers that’s built themselves a loyal and active following (think Everette Taylor, Ryan Robinson, Joei Chan of Mention, and Growth Marketing Conference speaker and guest blogger, Sujan Patel).

 

Why include blogger outreach in your content marketing strategy?

Well, because it works.

How many times have you come across a blog that seemingly appeared from nowhere, and the author now the newest expert in your niche that’s rubbing elbows (and shoulders) with the A-list bloggers you dream would respond to your emails?

This is what blogger outreach can do for you and your content.

By taking the initiative, you’re getting your content you’ve worked on for hours (even days) the attention it deserves.

If you approach them the right way, blogger outreach can help you quickly build your brand’s credibility. As a result, you’ll start earning more high-quality inbound links, increase your site’s domain authority in Google as well as in other search engines. You’ll also begin attracting better-qualified leads to your business that you can convert into customers more efficiently. More important, you’ll be able to build a relationship with these influential bloggers and startup founders which can lead to co-marketing campaigns.

Tor Resfeld of Time Management Chef’s success is one example (and one of my inspirations).

In addition to getting featured in 158 blogs within 14 months, his blogger outreach efforts paved the way for him get invited to do speaking engagements and interviews that further help build his brand and credibility.

At the same time, the influential bloggers that he’s now developed a relationship with have started driving more qualified leads for his coaching business which went from $0 to $3000 per month in just three months.  

If that’s not enough to convince you to include blogger outreach into your existing content marketing strategy, check out these stats from Sprout Social:

  • 81% of people that go online trust the information they read from these influential blogs.
  • 63% of people today admit that they are more influenced to buy something recommended in a blog than elsewhere.
  • 61% of people purchase a product or service

Getting noticed: the biggest roadblock

All of this sounds well and good. The only problem is: how do you get these people even to notice you?

Ironically, since blogger outreach is an effective content marketing strategy, everyone in your niche that’s doing content marketing is trying to get the very same influencers to notice them. The thing is unless you do something different, the message you send out to these influencers will drown in their inboxes.

Aim to become a purple cow by tapping into untapped niches and making your marketing campaigns stand out. 

As well consider following influencers and editors via Twitter by turning on your mobile notifications to build organic relationships.

As well you may even discover what annoys them the most.

Tips From Editor To Get Featured in Fast Company

Tips To Get Featured in Forbes

Most of all avoid the number one mistake that every content marketer makes when trying to reach out to these influencers: focusing too much on themselves.

If you want to get the attention of these influencers, you need to turn the table around, i.e., making it all about how you can help the influencer.

Yes, it does seem counterintuitive.

After all, why should you be helping someone that’s already established? You’re the struggling newbie here. You’re the one that needs help, right?

It all goes back to the crux of content marketing, which is to create valuable, customer-centric content so that you can establish and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Just like with your target customers, these bloggers are always looking for quality content that provides value to them and their loyal followers.

When you can position yourself as someone who can do just that, you stand to have a much better chance catching their attention, and get them to pay attention to what is it that you have to offer.

 

Steps to integrate blogger outreach

Step 1: Revisit your content marketing goals

Before you start reaching out to influential bloggers, take a few minutes to revisit your content marketing goals because these will tell you what to ask the bloggers best you plan to contact.

Blogger outreach, like any good kind of content marketing strategy, will require a lot of time and effort.

For example, if your goal is to increase your site’s page rank, I found focusing your blogger outreach efforts towards participating in link roundups.

These are primarily blogs that feature other people’s posts that offer additional related and relevant content to their readers.

On the other hand, if you’re looking at using blogger outreach as a way to increase your revenue and get more clients at the door, you may get better results doing an epic roundup post.

This was the case with my good friend Ryan Robinson when he created a roundup post where he shares the best business advice from the most successful entrepreneurs.

Not only did this post build his brand’s credibility and authority, but it also helps him get five of these highly successful entrepreneurs to become his clients.

“While I’ve gone on to land paid contracts with several of the entrepreneurs I featured in my business advice roundup piece, it’s important to note that I didn’t start those conversations with the intention of selling them anything.

My goal was to provide value to them in the form of featuring them to my blog audience of 200,000 monthly readers and through writeups I later did on my publication columns.”

“It was only after this post started getting thousands of shares and once I began publishing pieces mentioning the influencers on my columns for sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc that the gears started turning and I got a few requests to chat about how I might be able to help them create similarly successful content for their own blogs and for the startups they ran.

Since then, I’ve been replicating this process.

It’s been by far my most effective outbound selling technique, because it’s based on the foundation of providing massive upfront value (the way my clients want to receive it) and giving them a real-life preview of how my content marketing consulting process functions—rather than just a pitch on what I could do for them.”

 

Step 2: Consult your buyer persona

Even though influencers are your primary “target” when doing a blogger outreach, that doesn’t mean that you’ll have to disregard your buyer persona altogether.

On the contrary, your buyer persona is your compass that points you in the direction where your blogger outreach activities—and, consequently your entire content marketing strategy—should go.

That’s because one of the critical elements in creating a buyer persona is knowing your persona’s content preferences. Part of this is knowing who are the top influencers they follow.

These are the people that you’ll need to include in your blogger outreach list, which we’ll talk about next.

 

Step 3: Make your blogger “hit list”

Now that you’re clear on your content marketing goals and reviewed your buyer persona, the next step is to create your blogger “hit list,” which is mostly a list of influential bloggers in your niche that you want to reach out and build a relationship with.

To do this, first open a new document in Google sheets and create the following headings:

  • The name of the blog
  • The blog’s URL
  • The name of the blogger that owns the blog (you can find this on the blog’s About Page)
  • The blogger’s email address

Once you’ve gotten the headings in place, the next step is to fill them up.

Start off with those blogs you remember right on the top of your head as well as those that you picked up from your buyer persona. Here are some of the tools that I use to help me create and update my blogger outreach list:

 

Google Search

Google is one of the first places I go to when looking for influential bloggers to include in my blogger outreach list. Since Google places the blogs with much authority on the first page when you search, it makes perfect sense to include those that are listed on the first search results page.

In addition to those blogs that are listed on the first page of Google’s search results, I also do a search based on the suggested related searches Google lists at the bottom of their search engine results pages (SERPs).

Blogger Outreach Research

Aside from these being excellent places to also look for influential blogs within your niche, you can also take note of these keyword phrases and use them when creating content.

AllTop

AllTop is a curated list of high-quality blogs in practically every industry and niche. It’s an excellent place for you to discover quality blogs that are within your niche that you may not be familiar with.

When creating a search on AllTop, start off by using a generic keyword.

AllTop will give you a list of related categories based on the keyword you used.

AllTop Influencer Marketing Strategy

Choose the category that best describes the kinds of blogs you’re looking for. AllTop will then give you a list of the all the blogs in that specific category that they classified as being of high-quality.

 

FollowerWonk

Unlike the first two, this tool developed by Moz doesn’t provide you a list of blogs. Instead, it gives you a list of the bios of the people that contain the keyword you used to search.

What’s great about this is that it not only gives you the blogger’s Twitter handle so you can have a way to connect with them, but it also gives you their social authority rank, which is the blogger’s influential content on Twitter.   

One thing to remember when using FollowerWonk is that is lists down all the social authority ranks of everyone whose bios include the keyword you used when searching.

A quick way how to find the most influential ones is to click on the Social Authority tab on the rightmost part of the screen.

Twitter Blogger Outreach Strategy

This will sort out the Twitter handles from highest to lowest social authority ranking, and make it easier to weed out the one worth reaching out to.

 

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo works very much like FollowerWonk in that it gives you a list of the Twitter handles of the influential bloggers whose bios include the keyword you used in your search.

Of the two, I tend to use this more frequently because it offers a lot more useful information.

For starters, while BuzzSumo doesn’t provide the influencer’s social authority on Twitter, it does give you the domain authority of the influencer’s blog.

This metric gives you an estimate on how well a website or blog ranks on Google and other search engine results pages. The higher the domain authority, the better it will rank.

BuzzSumo Influencer Marketing Research Tool

Another useful piece of information BuzzSumo gives is the average retweets. This metric gives you an average estimate of the number of times an influencer’s post is retweeted by others.

Then there is the influencer’s retweet ratio.

This tells you what percentage of tweets the influencer puts out are retweets. In the image above, for example, Brian Clark of Copyblogger has a 40% retweet ratio. That means that for every 100 tweets he shares on Twitter, 40 of were retweets of other people’s content.

Ideally, you’d want to look for influencers with a very high domain authority, retweet ratio, and average tweets.

These are the best influencers to include in your blogger outreach list.

The number of influencers to include in your list greatly depends on your business.

If you run a niche-specific business, 30 influencers is a good starting point. On the other hand, a blogger outreach list with 100 influencers will be a better option for someone running a SaaS startup.

 

Step 4: Segment your list into tiers

Separating your influencers into different tiers is essential for you to get the most out from your blogger outreach efforts.

Not all blogs are created equal, neither is the manner on how you approach each influencer in your niche.

Getting straight to the point can work with most bloggers when you reach out to them while a little bit more TLC is needed if you’re approaching industry leaders, which can take some time.

By segmenting your list, you’ll be able to maximize your time by starting to generate some buzz and gain some quick wins for you and your business.

 

Step 5: Getting on their radar

Believe it or not, even influential and well-established bloggers keep a close watch on how their content is performing. You can use this to your advantage by regularly sharing their content and commenting on their blog posts to get them to notice you. Unfortunately, the mistake that lots of people do when they try using this technique to grab the influencer’s attention is that they only leave a relatively general comment like the infamous “Great post!” comment.

Let me throw a bit of tough love here: you’re not going to get anywhere when you leave comments like this on their blog posts or when you share their comments on social media.

If you want to grab their attention, take the time to craft a well-thought-of comment to leave in their blog posts. Not only will this be a way for you to show to the influencer that you’re able to provide insights that will help add value to their readers, but it will also help you stand out from the rest of the many others leaving comments on their blog.

Now, when it comes to sharing their posts on social media, make sure that you don’t forget to mention them in the post by using the @ on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or the “+” on Google+. That way, the influencer will get a notification on their end that you shared their content and left a few insightful thoughts about it as well.

Another method I found to be effective in getting the attention of influencers is by answering questions they send to their followers. Again, this is an excellent opportunity for you to add value to their followers, and get their attention.

When Web Hosting Secret Revealed surveyed what online business owners consider as the best website development tool or platform to use. My response got me featured in the blog post along with the likes of Justin Metros (founder of Radiator), Efe Cakinberk (CEO of Smart DNS Proxy), and Zane McIntyre (owner of Commission Factory).

WishPond Featuring Top Inbound Marketing Consultant Kevin Payne

If you’ve written a piece of content that turns out to be similar or relevant to an existing article an influencer wrote, you can send an email offering to help improve their resources.

After I published my post on the 25 Lead Generation Strategies for SaaS Startups,  I happened to stumble upon James Scherer’s blog post all about using gated content. Even though it’s been two years since he wrote it, the topic was still very relevant.

Since I also talked about using gated content in my blog post, I decided to reach out to James about it.

Not long after, I received a reply from him and I was even more ecstatic when I saw that James listed my blog post as #3 in the list of the related article resource section at the bottom of the blog post:

Lead generation Strategies For Saas Startups

In just a little over a month, this blog post is now ranking #2 in Google beating content written in both Forbes and Inc.com.

Here is another case where The Muse contributor Caroline Liu included a link to my post as one of the resources in her article on finding your life’s passion right alongside prominent names like Entrepreneur, Forbes, and online business entrepreneur Marie Forleo.

How To Find Your Passion in Life

However, my favorite blogger outreach technique would have to be sending a courtesy email to influential bloggers I featured in my blog posts because it’s what gave me the most results regarding my blogger outreach efforts with roundup blog posts.

Since I’m an African American male I have written several articles on minorities (based on ethnic background and gender) in the tech startup scene which has begun to lead to me being able to interview prominent figures via Skype and phone who I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to connect with.

Unlike offering a resource to an influential blogger, a courtesy email is a more direct approach of letting the influencer know that you’ve mentioned them in your blog post and that you’ve included a link to their content.

Even if they are influencers and industry leaders in your niche, they still love it when they learn that you’ve found their content extremely valuable that you’ve used it as a resource in your blog.

Here are some of the things that happened so far as a result of using this technique:

Received a retweet on Twitter from Everette Taylor, a marketing influencer with over 375K followers:

Everette Top Marketer Via Twitter

Received a tweet share from my good friend, Ryan Robinson:

Ryan Robinson: Content Marketer On Twitter

Step 6: Focus on building relationships

This is crucial if you’re aiming to get industry leaders to endorse your business, let alone acknowledge you.

Let’s face it: industry leaders tend to have their guard up whenever businesses and entrepreneurs try to approach them. That’s because more often than not, they do so because they need something from them.

Even though that may be the case, do your best to resist the urge just to ask them a favor. Instead, focus on nothing more than establishing and building a genuine relationship with them. Slowly, the walls will go down, and it will be easier for you to ask them for help.

That was what happened with Jamie Turner of the 60 Second Marketer and me. Unlike the other influencers, I connected with him back in 2016, and he became one of my mentors (and still is). It was not only early this month when I finally submitted a guest post on writing buyer personas for him to consider.

Within a week, he told me that the guest post I sent was approved and published.

 

The Final Step…

I’ve just shared with you what blogger outreach is and the steps to take to integrate it into your content marketing strategy.

Just remember, when reaching out to influencers, make sure that you focus on how you can help them and provide them with additional value.

Yes, blogger outreach takes time.

Yes, blogger outreach requires much effort on your part.

However, in the end, it’s a worthwhile investment that will help take your brand out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Have you ever attempted to include blogger outreach into your content marketing strategy?

What technique did you use that yielded the most results for you? How has it affected your brand and your business?

The Ultimate Content Marketing Cheat Sheet for Startups

  26 things to consider before developing your content marketing strategy. There is a painful amount of terrible advice in the brave new world of content marketing (much of which has been mocked in Dan Lyon’s excellent book detailing the bizarre, christ-like reverence content marketing giants like Hubspot give the topic). It annoys me to see […]

 

26 things to consider before developing your content marketing strategy.

There is a painful amount of terrible advice in the brave new world of content marketing (much of which has been mocked in Dan Lyon’s excellent book detailing the bizarre, christ-like reverence content marketing giants like Hubspot give the topic). It annoys me to see entrepreneurs wasting so much of their time on strategies that only work in extremely niche cases, or methods which have zero chance of scaling into anything that will affect a company’s’ bottom line, particularly if they’re a startup with no money or money running out in the next three-six months.

So here’s a cheat sheet anyone can use to understand and begin a content marketing strategy overnight.

Content Is King

 

1. Content Marketing is probably a bullshit term.

Unlike growth hacking, which is a largely new practice that has come about in tandem with the rise of the internet, content as a sales tool has been around decades. As such, unlike growth hacking, it is unlikely to be a silver bullet which, on it’s own saves your company (to be fair, social media won’t either, but that’s another story). Content marketing can be massively powerful, but it contains a tonne of “if’s” and “but’s.”

 

2. Content is not an island.

Heard the one about the company who got big solely off the back of the content? No? Me neither. Content marketing needs to work in tandem with multiple parts of your startup, including product (features), social media, email marketing, blog outreach, and PR. Now you can start to see why content is a bit of a monster, with various parts out of your direct control as so many parts involve other people.

 

3. Most content marketing is terrible.

Most content marketing is dogshit. I generally don’t agree with comedian Bill Hicks famous “If you’re in marketing, kill yourself” sketch. But if you’re adding yet more filler that has been written 100 different ways, think about what you’re spending your life doing (and more importantly, the important shit that you could be doing while churning out boring copy no one will want to read).

 

4. Don’t do content marketing.

If you don’t know what you should/could be writing about, and don’t want to do some research finding out, don’t do content marketing.

If you hate writing, don’t do content marketing. If you’re not prepared to be vulnerable, or have a small subset of people hate/aggressively disagree with what you’re writing, don’t do content marketing. If you’re just doing it because everyone else is, don’t do content marketing. If you have no idea how you’re going to get traffic to your articles, don’t do content marketing.

 

5. Personality is everything.
Personality

As the old saying goes, when you start a company, you are the only asset the company has. Being honest about things like the problems in your industry, your own challenges in building your company, and humor, will put you above 90% of everyone else writing in your field.

My favourite example of this is the CD Baby founder.

He thought the “Your CD has been despatched” email was too boring, so created this. After selling the company, he mentioned on James Altucher’s podcast that thousands of people blogged about that, and it massively got the word out.

 

6. Find out any shortcuts people can use in your industry.

Everyone wants to save time. Spend time on obscure forums or talking to industry experts for unique content that people can utilise. Always give away more than you’re comfortable with.

People will remember, and it will come back to you in various awesome ways. Goodwill is a big thing in small communities.

 

7. Don’t be afraid to call out or criticize your industry where you see fit.

This will increase the number of shares and clicks dramatically. Never mention specific companies or people by name, for obvious reasons. In fact, leaving them out leaves people desperate to know more.

 

8. Never do content you’re not comfortable with, or don’t want to do.

It really shows.

If you’re prefixing every single Snapchat post with “Don’t know how to use this lol but here we go anyway” either learn how to use it powerfully or don’t make content at all on that channel. It’s fine to suck at doing a new channel as long as you want to do it.

You’ll get better with time, and as James Altucher says, only about one post in five needs to be good for people to remember you as a great blogger. People tend to forget the bad stuff you do if they like the good stuff. (This is achingly present in the fans of both politics and people in the entertainment industry rushing to defend them when they make “lapses of judgement”).

 

9. Content doesn’t have to be words, picture, or video.
Content Can Be More Than Words

What about organizing an event with other major influencers in your niche? People love to have their ego flattered, and they will feel like they owe you. Plus, you build a community of your ideal customers. You provide great content and value, they will be far warmer to what you’re doing. Ditto public speaking- an incredible way to get a room full of your ideal customers to listen to you.

 

10. Blog Posts/books can be turned into talks/videos and vice versa.

Once you have themes you can talk about, you can spread that across different channels. There are different audiences on every channel, so you’ll be surprised how few people will end up seeing it twice. As an extension of this, watch most movie stars or comedians on talk shows when they’re promoting something. The same anecdotes magically seem to pop up again and again, as every audience is different.

 

11. Editors keep you from looking like an idiot.

Always have someone who knows what they’re talking about/your industry look at your content before it goes out. Whether it’s spelling mistakes in copy, problems with sound quality on video, or inaccuracies in your e-book, basic mistakes are a massive credibility killer.

If you’re in corporate, the general rule of thumb is at least two people need to see every tweet that goes out to stop PR disasters. They happen every single month. Software like Buffer does this well, allowing one person to upload the posts, and another to approve them to go out.

 

12. Read your copy out loud once you finish.

This will enable you to hear if you’ve put on a “writer’s voice” that alienates the reader. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t say out loud, re-write it. (That one is from Y-Combinator founder Paul Graham).

 

13. The only way to get better at content marketing is to do content marketing.
Writing Content

You can learn the basics of social media (via growth hacking) and set an intern off on scaling it pretty easily, but content marketing is a different beast. You have to write (or oversee other writers) in order to get more confident, and monitor how it works.

This means getting stuck in on Google Analytics to see how your content performs every day, and tracking new traffic sources that you’ll want to pump up.

This blogger tweeted and sent you a lot of traffic? Go make friends with them.

This Facebook group worked? Earmark it for more posts, posting around the same day/time each week, with a similar title to test if that affects click-throughs.

 

14. Read great authors and writers, not random bloggers.

Storytelling

Take ideas from multiple sources and mix them into your industry.

Want to mix in elements of Chris Rock stand up, Pitchfork music journalism, and Hemingway’s way for words? I think you’ve just created the most exciting content that’s ever existed in your industry! Great art is created when old things are mixed together in a new way.

 

15. When starting out, aim for excellence.

You’ll need to optimize everything to get the traffic in, but at a basic level, can you honestly say what you’re writing is fantastic? Re-write it until it is. It really shows.

 

16. Don’t take your eye off core business activities to write content.

I might get a bit of pushback for saying this, but if you’re not carrying out the critical functions of selling/raising money/building product/talking to users well enough, you probably shouldn’t be blogging. Even if people like your content, it won’t be enough. Post-2010 entrepreneurs are often criticized for not focusing on the right things. There’s some truth in it.

 

17. Content marketing is 10% content, 90% distribution.

Good copy with great distribution (i.e. ways of getting traffic/eyeballs to it) is much better than amazing copy with average distribution. We are all media companies now.

 

18. Try not to rely on any one traffic source.Traffic

Going to concede this is easier said than done if one channel is providing 90% of your traffic, but unless you’re turning a huge chunk of that into email addresses, if that source dies (all sources die sooner or later) you’re suddenly left with a massive hole.

So certainly make sure you’re rinsing and scaling up the channels that work, but try and experiment with newer channels too. A spread of traffic across multiple channels hits multiple different groups of people, is great for SEO, and reduces your risk.

 

19. More people are googling you than you think.

Make them happy. Once you have a few high-quality posts up, you’ll be surprised how many people read them. This brings me on to the next point…

 

20. Many content marketing returns are non-quantifiable.

As data-driven marketers, there’s a temptation for everything to be thrown out if it doesn’t provide returns, and this is valid. But so much can change when just one person reads something you’ve written and reaches out.

Could be an invitation to speak at a conference, an investor who “gets a good feeling” having read your articles, or countless other ideas. Here’s what you can do if you can’t, for whatever reason, make content marketing work:

 

21. Spend just one day creating five great articles.

And have an editor look them over. Store these on your blog, or your company’s blog. At least there’s a baseline for potential customers/partners/employees to have enough to read on your site that isn’t corporate/sales speak.

 

22. Get traffic to your website any way you can and get their email.

The easiest path to sales is email, and the best “hook” to capture that is “10% off anything if you join our newsletter” if you’re E-commerce, or some juicy piece of content (often referred to as a lead magnet) for everything else, e.g. “Download the top 5 mistakes most people make in your industry, and how to fix them- enter your email to receive our E-book”. Once you have their email, you have permission to build a relationship over time.

 

23. Launching a product?

Read “Product Launch Formula” by Jeff Walker. It will handhold you through the entire process, including how to write the copy. Masterful.

 

24. Great copy isn’t just blogging.
Blogging with WordPress

It’s a funny picture on a loading screen that people will remember. It’s an icon of a dog next to your Twitter and Facebook icons which, if you click on it, leads to a picture of a dog, just for the fun of it. People remember these little touches.

 

25. Be on as many or as few platforms as you need to be.

For general blogging, you can syndicate to Medium and LinkedIn as well as on your own blog, as there are different audiences on each, and a few views/likes in the first 15 minutes can drive much more people to see it on these external platforms.

 

26. Don’t listen to my advice.

The best content is always the content that catches everyone by surprise. Try something no one has tried before. Be different. As long as you have distribution to get it seen, you can stand out and get much more traffic and shares than everyone else who is copying each other.

Content Analytics: The Formula for Creating a Successful Blog

3 Case Studies on How to Diagnose the Health of Your Blog Note: This post was co-written by Boris Vassilev, data scientist at Scripted, and Ryan Buckley, cofounder and head of partnerships at Scripted.  The most common questions we’re asked at Scripted.com are, “What’s the ROI on a blog post?” or “How do I know if […]

3 Case Studies on How to Diagnose the Health of Your Blog

Note: This post was co-written by Boris Vassilev, data scientist at Scripted, and Ryan Buckley, cofounder and head of partnerships at Scripted. 

The most common questions we’re asked at Scripted.com are, “What’s the ROI on a blog post?” or “How do I know if I’m doing this content marketing thing right?”

Until recently, we didn’t have insight into these answers because we only delivered the writing.

But, we recently launched our Scripted Analytics product and now have the ability to dive into the most difficult questions that content marketers face.

We’re excited to share them with you now!

First, let’s define some important key concepts.

A Few Definitions:

  • Evergreen content. We define an evergreen post as one that continues to drive readers to your blog one year after it was published. Evergreen posts have, via good writing, interesting and lasting topics – or good distribution – remained popular and accessible by readers. A post about the history of a product category would be more likely to have lasting engagement, and therefore remain evergreen, than a post about a specific product release. Evergreen posts are the gift that keeps on giving, driving readers to your blog long after publishing.
  • Viral content. When one of your recent posts clearly dominates your recent traffic, we define that as viral. Not everything you push out will get on the front page of Reddit and Buzzfeed, but if it performs far better than your other recent posts, we view that as viral relative to your baseline. Viral content can signal hot topics for your readers while also providing clues as to which distribution channels work best for your content.
  • Users, Visits, and Time on Page. Each of these statistics is trackable and each surfaces a different facet of your customer engagement. Users shows how many unique individuals came to read a post on your blog. Visits tells you how many times they returned. Time on Page informs you of their overall interest. The longer you keep your customers engaged, the more likely they are to convert.

 

How to interpret Scripted Analytics charts

In order for you to more easily understand the following case studies, I’m going to quickly break down how our Scripted Analytics graphs work:

 

Streamgraph

The dark blue section represents the volume of traffic coming in from evergreen content (published more than one year ago), the lighter blue section is transitioning content (published between 3 and 12 months ago,) and the faint blue on top is recent content published in the past 3 months.

These time frames are all relative to the week you select, by mousing over and clicking. The sum of these distinct cohort streams, as shown by their stacking up, represents your total blog traffic.

 

Donut Charts

 

A successful evergreen donut has most of its mass in the “All Other Posts” category.

This means that there is no one single post responsible for evergreen traffic, which makes your readership less vulnerable to shifts in distribution channels (a linking partner changing a post, a social media drive ending, a front page mention timing out) or topic fatigue.

A diverse post portfolio in your evergreen chart ensures a lasting and stable traffic base for your blog.

 

 

 

The counterpart to the evergreen donut, the recent donut, seeks to inform you about which of your recent posts are performing best.

Posts are like diverse experiments in reader interest, and this chart quickly highlights which experiments are going well. The ideal recent donut has most of its traffic driven by a few superstars, which, with the right focus on distribution, will ideally trickle down the streamgraph over time to become part of your evergreen bedrock.

 

 

 

If the evergreen and recent donuts inform you on the ‘what’ of your successful content, the sources donut clues you into the ‘how’.

Marketing campaigns via social or email marketing, paid ads, or good ol’ organic search can quickly be surfaced here.

Armed with the knowledge of which posts are most engaging to users from the evergreen and recent donuts, the sources donut can direct efforts to reach customers in the ways that have been most successful to you in the past – and track the progress of new ventures.

Now, on to the good stuff…

Three blog analytics case studies

Let’s look at three examples of real company blog analytics and discuss what we can learn from them.

 

Case Study 1: Evergreen Decay

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.21.05 PM.png

 

Evergreen Decay is a blog that initially looks spectacular, with high weekly traffic flow and an abundance of evergreen content. However, on close examination of the cohort streams, we can identify a stale content strategy as the primary cause of an overall slow decay.

 

What we can learn

Even the most engaging content will get less readership over time due to topic saturation and changing reader interests.

In this case, too much of this blog’s traffic is coming from evergreen content. Some weeks, evergreen content accounts for 90% of traffic.

While that speaks to the quality of the writing and distribution of old posts, without new content to interest readers, the overall engagement of the blog is steadily dropping. Fresh content is almost non-existent in some weeks, meaning the company is not continuing to publish new content or distribute its new content successfully.

This is slowing performance partially masked by the strength of their evergreen cohort, but without replenishment, reader interest is slowly grinding down.

 

How they can improve

This company needs to post new content regularly again.

They should look at both recent and evergreen posts in their donut charts that have been successful and expand upon those topics,  while also promoting these posts via the distribution channels from the sources chart that have traditionally worked well.

 

Case Study 2: A Healthy Baby (With Hiccups)

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.27.44 PM.png

 

In contrast to the Evergreen Decay blog, this Healthy Baby shows a lot of promise.

 

What we can learn

This blog has the breakdown of recent to evergreen traffic that we’ve seen as indicative of the best-performing blogs: about ⅔ evergreen and ⅓ new posts.

 

This way, the new posts will convert to transitioning, and eventually to evergreen, diversifying this blog’s content age and engagement. We found that despite two hiccups in their traffic – which were unfortunate instances of blog downtime in March and April – their readership steadily increased.

 

How they can improve

These guys simply need to maintain! Their topics and choices of distribution channels are building up readership quickly and keeping it engaged with a diverse content offering. They should strive for better uptime so readers don’t shy away from their blog. Other than that, it appears to keep moving up and to the right.

 

Case Study 3: Growing Pains

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 3.29.44 PM.png

 

In our final example, we see the Growing Pains blog, a new blog that is having trouble getting off the ground and really engaging with readers.

 

What we can learn

At a glance, overall traffic trends positively, but a closer look reveals some trouble areas.

An overwhelming part of the traffic is driven by fresh content, but despite high levels of conversion to the transition stream, very little of that early, successful content is converting into evergreen. This means that a large portion of traffic is dependent on recent blog posts as opposed to a more diverse offering, making day to day traffic shaky and unpredictable.

Compounding this problem, topics selected for these blog posts aren’t carrying weight with readers or being distributed in successful channels, resulting in a fast decay with no evergreen conversion.

 

How they can improve

This team needs to identify topics with evergreen potential by analyzing the few posts that have withstood the test of time.

 

They might also consider using popular trending topics to make their posts more widely accessible. We also recommend that they diversify their distribution channels and track which ones really work over the coming weeks, then double down on those channels.

The key here is to make sure that the posts they publish recently are getting traffic long after publication.

 

Conclusion

There’s no formula for how to create a successful blog. That takes good writing and consistent publication. We have found that there is a formula, however, for diagnosing the overall health of your blog. The formula is:

  • About two-thirds of your blog’s traffic should come from evergreen posts.
  • Your evergreen traffic should come from a variety of posts, distributed evenly, rather than just a few high performers.
  • About one-third of your blog’s traffic should come from recent posts.
  • Your recent post traffic should be spikey, with a few posts going (relatively) viral among your readers and their followers.
  • If you can maintain this traffic profile while publishing consistently, you will see your overall blog traffic growth snowball upward as recent posts transition into evergreen posts.

 

Why does this matter?

It matters because the more minutes that visitors spend on your site, the more likely they are to convert. This conversion could be as simple as signing up for a newsletter or demo, or going all the way through an e-commerce shopping cart purchase. This is a numbers game, and the more activity at the top of the funnel will drive conversions through the bottom of the funnel.

Whether you use our Scripted Analytics tool or any number of other blogging analytics products, the important takeaway is that it’s critical to discover trends in your content’s performance.

 

 

If you see that recent content is not performing well, you have to address it quickly or risk compromising future growth from evergreen content. There’s a discipline involved here in maintaining both a macro and a micro view of your blog, but the benefits will pay off. I promise!