To some writers, writing online content is basically equivalent to journalism. They contribute articles to e-zines, corporate blogs, and other such places on the web. Yet more content writers spend their days working exclusively for small businesses, and some even write content for government websites. Content writers are full-time employees and independent contractors. We are SEO specialists and html experts. We’re reporters, experts, comedians, and salespeople. We’re the filter and the amplifier that sends your voice out into the universe, and when used effectively, we are the keys to success on the web.
Premium or gated assets are typically longer form, and/or more time-intensive pieces that don't exist on a blog. They might be used to generate leads or contacts, or for brand-building purposes. These are typically created by the dedicated long-form content creator if your team is large enough to have one, but sometimes bloggers get involved too, as blog posts are good testing grounds for what performs well and is thus worth investing in.
Read Joe Pulizzi's excellent book Epic Content Marketing. I started reading it after I wrote this post and it confirmed and expanded what I already knew about content marketing, with much more detail than I could ever go into here. Something Pulizzi emphasizes which I originally left out was the importance of focusing on producing mobile-friendly content, since smartphones are becoming the dominant way in which most of our customers access content. Also read Michael Hyatt's Platform, mentioned above. Frequent websites like those of Content Marketing Institute, Ragan, Copyblogger, Michael Hyatt, and Gary Vaynerchuk and sign up for their email newsletters. It won't take you long to become not just familiar with content marketing, but an expert.
Your social media manager should also invest in growing your presence on social networks so that the content you share reaches an ever-growing audience. Consider the amplification of a piece of content shared on a Facebook page with 100,000 fans, versus 1,000 fans. The fans' networks work to help your content spread -- so the larger their networks, the better your content's distribution.
Emails that are highly segmented tend to have higher performance levels -- such as open rate and clickthrough rate -- than emails that aren't personalized. According to a study by Direct Marketing Association, segmented and targeted emails generated 58% of all revenue for the marketers surveyed, and 36% of revenues were driven by emails sent to specific target selections.
You run an accounting firm that specializes in tax preparation, and business was lagging this year. You want to do better next year, so you start a blog on your website and publish posts about some of the common tax-related issues your target customer faces. You write a few posts a week, and eventually those blog posts start to rank in Google and other search engines.
Problem: I need to create brand preference. Engaging content marketing creates preference through thought leadership by making you a trusted source of information and education. You can also create preference through relationships, which are strengthened whenever your content entertains or helps your buyers. People are more likely to buy from companies with whom they have relationships.
You've written a blog post that has wide appeal beyond just your target audience. You test promotion of that blog post via a paid Facebook ad, and find that the CPC is lower than your typical paid expenditures, and is driving 40% more site traffic than those typical expenditures. Even so, when you turn off that budget you lose that traffic ... right? Right. But you still received a huge influx of traffic that, even if none of them convert to leads, might have spurred either inbound links or social shares -- both of which will help bolster your SEO.
I won't pull any punches: I started, and it took a while to stop. That is to say you're about to dive into a pretty in-depth post (that's a nice way of saying "long") about content marketing, one which you may want to bookmark to read later. But I think it covers most of the aspects of content marketing that modern inbound marketers need to consider, beyond the basics of simply writing content optimized for the web.
You may also want to consider doing an internship at a publication you hope to work for full time in the future to make connections with editors and other writers at the publication. Many of these internships will likely not be paid, at least not at first. Be prepared to receive compensation in the form of connections and contacts. But be wary of being taken advantage of as free labor. If you feel uncomfortable working for free, try to find internships that pay.
Regardless of team size, it's common for visual content to be created by nearly everyone except, perhaps, the SEO specialist. While designers will do the bulk of the advanced creative work, bloggers, content creators, and social media managers will all get involved in lighter-weight design. Often, designers will also create templates for the writers on the team so they can be more independent -- like creating ebook templates so premium content can be laid out by just about anyone with an InDesign license.
What about official titles and Latin terms, you say? Again, if the purpose of italics is to emphasize text, this is accomplished through the capitalization of principle words, which already distinguishes names and titles from the surrounding text. Italics should be reserved for print products only. Why exclude a portion of your audience from accessing your web content effectively?
Step 2: Understand their buyer’s journey. A buying journey maps a buyer’s decision-making process during a purchase and will help you determine what content you need. Different kinds of content appeal to different buyers in different stages of their journey. By mapping your buying stages, you’ll better understand the process buyers go through when considering your product or service. As a result, you’ll be able to develop a content strategy that speaks directly to buyers, no matter what stage they’re in.
No matter who we’re writing for, or what sort of material it is, every content writer is a researcher first and a writer second. In nearly every case, the content writer will be dealing with a subject that he or she is not familiar with, and must do adequate research to ensure that all the information presented in his or her article is accurate, current, and doesn’t contradict the company’s existing messaging. Good research is the foundation of good content writing. And for those of you wondering, yes, this article is the rare exception to that rule – I actually knew this stuff already.