Content marketing is becoming ever more popular.
More and more businesses are started blogs and publishing content.
They’re curating posts on social media. They’re running paid ads to drive traffic to their latest articles.
And they’re following the advice of every big name in content marketing — the blogs that coined the term and/or promoted it to the heavens.
Much of their advice is good. It helps these brands get started and understand the beneficial role content marketing can play in their business.
But as the top blogs get bigger, the same content marketing rules don’t apply to them as they do to the rest of us.
They might get 5X more shares by using visual media or including click to tweet links, but for many of us those types of tactics wouldn’t make nearly as big of an impact.
Many who engage in content marketing are still working day in and day out to build an audience like theirs. As a result, certain aspects of content marketing get preached as gospel simply because they come from authorities in the space.
From the start of my business, I have been down in the trenches experimenting. I followed the advice of content marketing authorities, and it simply didn’t apply to my fledgling blog or my client’s websites.
So I scoured the Internet to find advice that would work for the masses, and I’m happy to say I found it.
In this article, you’re going to learn 8 digital content marketing secrets that aren’t preached as gospel but can work for any business.
However, they might challenge many of the notions you’ve heard of and probably believe. So I ask you to do one thing:
Read this article with an open mind.
And I hope you will find some hidden gems to apply to your content marketing efforts.
What You Will Learn
Here are some of the secrets you will learn:
- Why content (by itself) is not King.
- Why on-page SEO is simpler than you think.
- The secret to tapping into bigger audiences than your own.
- 3 link building tactics that are not dead.
- The ultimate reason why content is an effective marketing asset.
- And more!
Let’s get started:
1. Content Promotion is King
I’m sure you’ve heard this saying:
“Content is King!”
It relates to content as one of the most powerful forms of generating new business online.
Content is powerful. It helps you:
- Establish your business as an authority
- Enter prospect’s lives on their terms
- Open the door to start conversations with your target audience
- Spread your business around the web
But it isn’t King.
Content is nothing without people reading and consuming it. Content by itself doesn’t benefit your business.
You can publish the best article on the planet, but if it just sits on your blog with no one to read it, it’s not a marketing asset.
That’s why content promotion is King.
Content promotion takes “content” and turns it into “content marketing.”
This is when you get social shares, drive traffic, and generate leads.
Without promoting your content, your blog becomes a lonely set of web pages gathering dust.
But by emailing people, running paid ads, posting in online communities and forums, and reaching out for backlinks, you start achieving all of the business objectives the big content marketing blogs talk about:
To learn TONS different ways to promote your content and build backlinks, check out these two articles:
After you’ve spent hours creating a piece of content, spend at least a few hours promoting it.
2. List Building (Not Sales) Should Be Your #1 Goal
It’s easy to look at sales as your number one goal.
It affects your bottom line and is a big indicator of how well your marketing efforts are going.
But sales is only a byproduct of what comes before it, not the cause itself.
In content marketing especially, if earning more money is your primary goal, it will shine through your content and your website’s layout. Prospects will sense this, and it will detract from your content’s value.
Most prospects need multiple touchpoints with your business before they’re ready to buy. They need to come back a few times to read more of your content and check out your sales pages.
Then, once they’ve weighed their options, and they’ve built up enough trust in you, buying your products and services becomes an obvious choice.
Sounds easy, right?
Around 98% of visitors will leave your website without converting.
Only 2% will buy immediately (if that). So you need a way to bring people back again and again.
That’s where building an email list comes into play, and why it should be your #1 goal in content marketing.
You own the list. It’s one of the few marketing channels that you possess completely. It’s also one of the few channels that people check almost every day.
You can build relationships with these people, you can send them every piece of content you create, and you can market to them multiple times as time goes on.
So focus on list building in your digital content marketing campaigns.
Here are some great articles to get you started:
3. On-Page SEO is Simpler Than You Think
Many people overcomplicate on-page SEO.
They worry about exact keyword density, making sure not to link out too much, and other trivial details.
In reality, fully optimizing your content comes down to 3 key things:
- Keyword Placement
- Media (images and videos)
- Content Length
For keyword placement, you should place your exact match keyword in:
- The title
- The URL
- The meta description
- First 100-200 words of your content
- The first image’s ALT text
- 1-2 subheadings
- A few times in the body content
And keyword variations (LSI keywords) in:
- The body content
- 1-2 subheadings
Then include images and videos to supplement the learning and increase time-on-page, and link out to any relevant sources.
Finally, to maximize your on page SEO, make sure to write in-depth content, as serpIQ found that the average word count of content ranking in positions 1-3 is over 2,300 words:
(Longer content also pulls in more long-tail traffic.)
After this, your content should be fully optimized to rank for your target keyword.
4. The Visitor Journey Leads to Your Website’s Success
I first took my website’s visitor journey seriously after reading this case study from Matthew Woodward.
In it, he breaks down how he built a top 100 business blog in one year, from how he drove traffic, monetized it, and made a full time income.
But what stood out to me most was how he optimized everything about his site to accomplish the following goals (with the visitor journey in mind):
1. A full time subscription
2. Social shares
3. User generated content (comments/forum posts)
4. New traffic by sharing his content with others
5. New traffic from telling their friends in the pub (word of mouth)
6. Affiliate link clicks
7. Affiliate sales
For instance, he didn’t just leave his comments section alone, but when someone leaves a comment they get redirected to a page where they can follow him on social media and join his email list:
He also made his share icons as prominent as possible to maximize the amount of people who share his content:
He made sure that even after someone had subscribed, they had another opportunity to follow him on social media:
He even implemented an email autoresponder (which is over a year long, at this point in time) to continuously bring people back to his content, share it, link to it, click on affiliate links, and revitalize old posts.
Every step of the way is optimized to achieve one of his goals, and it’s all because he took the visitor journey into consideration.
Here’s a potential visitor journey for you to consider:
1. They see your content on social media, find it in a search engine, through word of mouth, a forum post, etc.
2. They read your content
3. Share it
4. Comment on it
5. Opt in to your list
6. Follow you on social media
7. Consume more of your content
8. Purchase your products/services once enough trust and desire has built up
Map out the ideal steps you want each visitor to take, then optimize your entire site to push them towards that path.
This maximizes every visitor’s value in your content marketing efforts.
1. To Tap Into Bigger Audiences, Feature Larger Websites Than Your Own
The hardest part about content marketing is building an audience.
Once you have an audience, the sky is the limit. You have people at your fingertips who are enthusiastic to read your content and buy your products.
You also have leverage to do joint ventures with other websites, and you’re in a position to be creative with how you market to your audience.
But getting there can be tough.
One of the fastest ways I’ve seen to build an audience is to strategically tap other websites’ audiences that are bigger than your own.
Ultimately, this involves getting them to share your content and expose you to their followers.
At first, this may seem like a daunting task. These people are busy. Why would they share my content on a whim?
Thankfully, there are two types of content that make this dead simple:
1. Expert Roundups
2. Top X Articles
In each one, you feature influencers in your niche. Then all you have to do is reach out and show them the content.
(Many will share it naturally.)
Let’s start with the first one — expert roundups.
How to Create and Promote an Expert Roundup
An expert roundup is a collection of expert opinions on a single topic.
The publisher emails as many influencers as possible and asks them a question. The answers then get combined into an article that readers will find valuable.
Here’s an example:
The first step is to choose a question. Remember, influencers are usually busy people, so come up with a question they can answer quickly, and make sure it’s something your audience would be interested in.
Then you need to gather a list of experts to feature.
To find them, first try searching for expert roundups in your niche:
- “Your niche” + “expert roundup”
- “Your niche” + “experts revel”
- “Your niche” + “interviewed experts”
Then click through to each expert’s website and find their contact info.
If you can’t find any influencers, head over to Followerwonk.
Click the “Search Bios” tab and type in a keyword related to your niche.
This will pull up a list of related Twitter profiles ordered from highest to lowest followers.
Click through to each profile, see if they have a website, and find their contact info.
Once you have a list of influencers to target, send them each an email like this:
Hey [NAME],I’m putting together a [NICHE] expert roundup for my blog, and I was wondering if you’d like to participate.
Here’s the question:
A 50-100 word response would be fine, but feel free to write more or less if you wish.
And of course I’ll include a link to your website and Twitter profile :)
Hope to have you on board!
As the answers roll in, combine them into an article and publish it. Then send an email to each expert to let them know that the post is live and to thank them for participating.
Many will share it automatically without you even having to ask :)
How to Create and Promote a Top X Article
Top X articles are similar to expert roundups, in that they feature a bunch of influencers in a certain niche.
Except, for these articles, you don’t need to receive any information from your experts before you feature them.
You simply include some of the top sites in your niche.
For example, here’s a top X article featuring the best personal development blogs of 2015:
All you have to do is collect the top sites in your niche, combine them into an article, and reach out to each one with an email like this:
Hey [NAME]Just wanted to give you a heads up that [SITE NAME] is featured in [ARTICLE NAME].
Here’s the link: [URL]
I’ve always loved your site and was happy to include it :)
Anyway, keep up the great work!
The top 100 personal development blogs article got a TON of shares:
(Likely because he reached out to each one to notify them.)
And the site even ranks #1 and #2 for the keyword “personal development blogs”:
Expert roundups and top X articles are excellent ways to jumpstart your audience. They put you on the radars of influential people in your niche AND their followers.
You can even maximize your return by optimizing them around a keyword.
6. Free vs. Paid Traffic Depends on the Circumstance
The argument about whether free or paid traffic is better is a common one in internet marketing circles:
Some say free traffic is better, because you’re almost guaranteed to have a positive ROI. But others turn around and say that many people who chase free traffic end up with too little to run a viable business.
Some say paid traffic is better, because you can turn it on and off whenever you want, and you can target it directly to people who are most likely to want your products and services.
But others turn around and say that this is how many people sink lots of cash into paid advertising and run into huge deficits.
In the niches I’ve worked in, I’ve always started with free traffic first. Once this base was established, I moved into paid traffic to supplement it.
But there are other circumstances where paid traffic is the best route to take. So, in reality, it depends on the niche you’re in, the budget you have, and type of site you’re running.
A solo blogger might do well starting off with free traffic, like guest blogging. But an ecommerce site might want to experiment with paid advertising to test their copy and make sure the site is ready to convert.
No matter what circumstance you’re in, you don’t truly know what will work best until you test it.
And that goes for just about anything in internet marketing.
7. These Three Link Building Tactics Are NOT Dead
I’m sure you’ve heard statements like these before:
With every Google update, a link building tactic that has been used to game the search engines becomes extinct.
Because once a large amount of people get hit and the reason is identified, the big SEO news outlets feature the aftermath and people get scared away from that tactic (which is exactly what the search engines want).
I choose to view link building this way:
Any tactic has the possibility of working, because each site is unique.
Each site has a unique backlink profile, anchor text profile, on-page SEO, etc.
Spamming any one link building technique increases the likelihood of getting penalized. Not surprisingly, the sites that get penalized and make the news usually spammed the tactic.
On the other hand, strategically implementing an array of techniques will minimize that possibility.
With this in mind, I have used these three so-called “dead” link building tactics to rank mine and my client’s content.
I used blog commenting to help one website increase search traffic 1,029% in 4 months:
I used guest posting to help another website rank a piece of content and attract over 80,000 visitors to the page in 5 months:
And I used directory submissions to help that same site rank a piece of content and attract 55,000 visitors since it got published.
Each page wasn’t ranked solely with that one tactic, but it was a major part of the overall link building strategy.
These tactics aren’t dead. In fact, since many people believe they’re dead, you can use them to get a massive leg up on your competitors.
Just make sure not to spam any single link building tactic. Rather, work them into your overall SEO strategy.
8. Content is an Effective Marketing Asset Because it Helps People
This is the ultimate reason why digital content marketing works, yet few people talk about it.
Content isn’t just an effective marketing asset. It improves people’s lives.
In a B2B sense, it usually helps people do their jobs better or get better business results. In a B2C sense, it’s usually a form of entertainment or helps people get more out of a product or service.
The more your content helps people, the more effective it is as a business asset.
For example, the top digital marketing bloggers get comments like these all the time:
Even though this is digital marketing, you can see the emotion these people feel after reading a piece of content they know is extremely valuable to them.
These are the people who end up sharing your content, joining your email list, and buying your products and services.
So to create more effective content and run more successful campaigns, focus on the value your content is providing to people.
This is what will ultimately lead to a powerful content marketing strategy.
To Wrap It Up
These digital content marketing secrets may have challenged what you previously believed about certain aspects of internet marketing.
I hope that you were able to read them with an open mind, and hopefully I convinced you to try a few that you might never have considered.
As with anything in digital marketing, you never truly know what will work for your business until you test it.
So test away, and maybe you’ll discover a few of your own secrets to share.
Oct 27, 2015