Scaling Content Production: Celebrating The Unsung Hero

Scaling up. Doing things on a grander scale, ramping up productivity and output. Seeing quicker results and being able to charge more. What’s not to like?

Automation is the word on every SEO’s lips. How and what can we automate to unlock far greater growth?

For me, one area is consistently underappreciated: the importance of the humble content brief.

Many businesses that have weathered the especially challenging market over the last couple of years are now looking to scale up their operations.

More specifically, brands are looking to leverage the obvious potential that exists by boosting their online presence via their content marketing efforts.

Does this admission inside a Verblio job listing sound familiar to you?

“It’s time for us to scale up our content. What we’ve done so far in the content marketing space has been good, but we believe that getting to great – and doing more of it – can help us accelerate our growth even further.”

However, scaling up great content production is fraught with challenges or, put simply, “bloody hard” as James Hardwick, Head of Content at Ahrefs puts it.

And in light of the Helpful Content Update, the need to achieve and maintain high-quality content is more important than ever before.

Ramping Up Content Production

Brands are no longer creating a mandatory one or two pieces a month just because they think they should.

In some instances, they’re producing 200 pieces in one go and ramping up their output to fantastic effect, like this example by James Brockbank.

Linkedin post
Screenshot from LinkedIn, January 2023

Scale Doesn’t Equal Success

But the scale on its own doesn’t automatically lead to success, whether that’s traffic, leads, or engagement.

For some brands, scaling content production can quickly lead to a bloated website, with new content being created along the same lines as previous articles (when upcycling older content would’ve been better).

Or you just end up “doing more” with no clear strategy.

While you can’t be too regimented and need to have the flexibility to incorporate new, reactive, and timely pieces, there is another way.

The Current, Muddled, And Ad Hoc Approach To Content Production

Here’s what an ineffective approach to content production looks like:

  • Ideation.
  • Research.
  • Brief.
  • Write.

Or, worse still:

  • Ideation.
  • Brief.
  • Research.
  • Write.

Result: New content is sporadic and unstructured.

The Better Way To Approach Content Production

Now, here’s what an effective approach to content production looks like:

  • Strategy.
  • Roadmap.
  • Research.
  • Brief.
  • Write.

Result: Each content piece has a clear purpose and complements each other.

Content Plan Replaced With The Content Roadmap

Yes, “roadmap” can fall into the category of overused jargon that we marketers love to drop into a conversation, but this perfectly sums up what’s needed.

A roadmap, in this sense, is the end goal.

The exhaustive list of content that we need around a topic begins with the hub (main page) and splits off into the clusters surrounding it (often known as the hub and spokes approach).

But the content roadmap isn’t just looking at one cluster – it encapsulates all of your new and upcycled content requirements.

This is effectively your high-level plan of what you need to create, as opposed to your centralized resource to manage the content delivery (with detailed content briefs, status and publish dates, etc).

In the above example, creating 200 pieces of content at 2 per month would take just over 8 years.

Instead, this roadmap facilitates the building of momentum, having already identified the nuances between pieces and ensuring that each content piece complements, rather than competes, with each other.

Each identified piece is documented and contains the best-in-class competitor, the suggested URL structure, and target keywords.

content plan and roadmap
Screenshot from author, November 2022

Deciding Your Targets

This is the time-consuming part.

Many jump in with the creation of the content brief and then work out the target terms that they would want to rank for (largely leading with assumptions).

But this approach ignores two fundamental questions of good content-led SEO:

  • What type of content do I need to create to rank for a given keyword?
  • Which other terms can I rank for with this piece of content?

This can be achieved by seeing what else a high-performing post ranks for, as well as search engine results pages (SERP) analysis of other potential targets.

Imagine, for example, you run a pharmaceutical store and sell the hair loss treatment “Dutasteride.”

You may, incorrectly, decide that you want to target your product page for:

  • “Dutasteride UK” (mix of product pages and guides).
  • “Dutasteride 100mg” (product page).
  • “Dutasteride” (guide).
  • “Dutasteride before and after” (separate guide).
  • “Dutasteride vs. Finasteride” (another separate guide).
SERP AnalysisScreenshot from search for [dutasteride], [dutasteride 100mg], and [dutasteride vs finasteride], Google, September 2022

It’s the identification of your target keywords – if done correctly – that takes the most time when it comes to content briefing.

Gone are the days when you can get a simple list of keywords, without reviewing the intent, and conclude that they’re your target terms. Thank goodness.

This isn’t something content briefing tools will give you, either. You need to be armed with your target keywords when using any software designed to speed up the time it takes to generate the brief.

So, instead of starting with the content brief, the brief is actually what brings everything together.

Bringing It All Together With The Content Brief

You might remember the old adage:

Garbage In = Garbage Out (GIGO).

If your content brief is rushed, poorly constructed, and lacking direction, then the content will not be fit for its purpose and will need to be revisited (either now, or in the future).

Some of the most successful content projects that I’ve worked on involved me creating content briefs for subject matter experts.

A winning formula needs to have both the expert writer and strategist working in tandem.

Content briefImage created by author, January 2023

What Should Be Included In A Content Brief?

Beyond the staples of a typical content brief, it also needs to cover these key components.

Is It A New Or Upcycled Piece?

Would it be better to refresh and update an existing piece rather than start from scratch?

Will you need to redirect any other content pieces into this guide once published?

Best-In-Class Examples

What’s currently being rewarded in the search results?

What does best in class look like, and how do we meet and exceed the value that the current examples provide?

Brand Guidelines (Including ToV)

Scaling content production can quickly lead to inconsistencies in tone, language, and sentence structure, which becomes pretty apparent when a large number of writers are helping you to achieve your goals.

A section on brand guidelines helps to align each contributor with a consistent tone of voice and boundaries to work within.

Guidance On Document Structure*

*The controversial one.

Now, we never want to tell writers HOW to write.

We don’t want to restrict their creative license and force them to write pieces for the sake of ‘keywords’ (don’t get me started on that).

The way we actually want to work is summed up perfectly by Kameron Jenkins below.

Tweet about SEO storytellingScreenshot from Twitter, January 2023

Guidance On How To Target Featured Snippets

Framing content to target these lofty and highly sought-after positions within the search results is so often overlooked.

Securing ‘position zero’ can take you above some seemingly more authoritative domains, simply by framing your content more effectively than they have.

A good example of this is how Visit North West is ranking above Gov.uk in the image below.

featured snippetScreenshot from search for [when’s the next bank holiday in the uk], Google, September 2022

Sometimes all it takes is spending time reviewing the format of the featured Snippet (e.g., is it a list, paragraph, or short sentence) and framing your content to provide more value in your answer than the current incumbent.

Also, take note of the word count and aim for a similar length (give or take a couple of words).

Internal Link Opportunities (From And To The Page)

Linking from old content to new will be quoted in any beginner’s guide to SEO, but is often overlooked.

Going through old pieces and adding a relevant link will help to demonstrate your authority on the topic while supporting the newly formed clusters.

You also need to consider which older articles are relevant to link to from the new piece.

Search Trends

Keyword volumes get thrown about all the time in the SEO industry.

“We’re position 1 for a keyword with 4000 searches per month.”

Unless we’re talking about grocery shopping behavior, very few industries will be consistent throughout the year (and even in that example, there will be large peaks around the holiday seasons). There will, inevitably, be peaks and troughs at different times.

Finding out when these are, through tools such as Mangools, will help you to make better decisions about the prioritization of content and when you need to be publishing for maximum impact.

But don’t forget: keyword volumes are historic figures and very much just a steer.

The last few years have dramatically affected search behavior, so take those figures with a pinch of salt for the particularly impacted sectors.

Target Keywords Based On Research

Quite simply, stay in your lane.

The temptation to cover the wider merits of content marketing was strong throughout this piece.

However, having clearly defined targets and visibility of the other content being created that complements this piece, will help to keep your content on-topic.

The result? Happy writers and great content.

How Long Does It Take To Create A Content Brief?

You’ll often see individuals scoff when you suggest a couple of hours to create a content brief, with the classic retort “but it’s only a brief.”

The marketing industry is awash with ways of doing things quicker – which I’m all for. You can complete a content audit in five minutes, or analyze the health of your website with an automated SEO audit and complete a content brief in ten minutes.

However, the extra time spent researching, seeing what other terms you can rank for, and reviewing the intent can be the difference between your content flopping and thriving.

The drawbacks of some “quick audits” are perfectly encapsulated by Simon Schnieder’s LinkedIn post.

Can’t You Get A Tool For That?

There is an abundance of content briefing tools already on the market but they’re not the silver bullet for your content.

They, too, need to be working in tandem with an expert.

As mentioned earlier, content briefing tools are great for when you’ve identified your target terms and what your content could rank for, but they won’t work that out for you.

Why People Give Up On Scaling Content Production

A recent study by Semrush found that brands that are expediting their content production, typically through outsourced means, give up for the following reasons:

  • Too much editing.
  • Lack of consistency.
  • Not generating results.

All of the above can be solved by an overarching content strategy, detailed content briefs, and a roadmap of what content you need.

Maintaining Buy-In To Scale Content Production

Create dashboards, show incremental improvements and celebrate successesScreenshot by author, January 2023

The need to report on progress and demonstrate your impact early on in the project is key to maintaining buy-in with the goals of the project.

Showing some progress is critical to getting the resources needed to execute your content strategy and secure trust in the process.

Create dashboards, show incremental improvements, and celebrate successes, big and small.

But don’t be passive and wait for things to miraculously skyrocket.

Be aggressive with your approach. Support your new and upcycled content by promoting it sitewide and signposting users to it. Whatever you do, don’t bury good content!

Time To Celebrate The Content Brief

It’s time for the content brief to get the respect it deserves.

Time spent collating the necessary elements to create best-in-class content will help to minimize the number of revisions both now and in the future, ensure that the tone of voice is consistent, and increase the quality of the final output.

All content will have a purpose and your team will be thinking bigger rather than producing content in isolation.

Scaling content is tough. All stakeholders in the process need to be bought in, quality cannot be sacrificed for quantity, and you can’t stop once the pieces are published.

It’s a continual process, with constant monitoring of performance and ongoing optimization from when you press publish.

If you manage to scale your content operations, when underpinned by a solid SEO and content strategy, you can ride the wave of the compound interest that this will provide if you maintain that much-revered position for many years to come.

More resources: 


Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

7 Content Marketing Best Practices In 2023 via @sejournal, @zackkadish

Does a new year mean new content marketing best practices? Well, yes and no.

Looking into the new year, there are new things to consider for your content marketing strategy, but many things haven’t changed.

Content marketing is still one of the best ways to ensure your brand remains relevant and continues to drive your site’s organic traffic.

Creating content has taken on many different forms, but there are still a lot of best practices you need to make sure you are implementing if you want it to be found.

This article will review some best practices that content marketers should continue doing and some hot topics emerging in the world of content.

Here are the seven best practices for content marketing in 2023:

  • Use the customer’s voice.
  • Create content using the hub & spoke content marketing model.
  • Optimize your content for result types.
  • Always measure your content for ROI.
  • AI-generated content is here, but don’t fall for the hype.
  • Re-optimize and repurpose your outdated/underperforming content.
  • Break down the silos between your internal departments to move faster.

1. Using The Customer’s Voice In Your Content

Using the customer’s voice in your content will always be a best practice in content marketing, and it’s also the most important one.

You need to make sure you are matching your content to what the customer is actually searching for.

Without doing this, you might never be able to reach your target audience, even if they are looking for something you provide.

Keyword research is the bread and butter for creating any content, and a big part of creating relevant content is by making sure you are using the phrases that people actually search for.

2. Create Content Using The Hub & Spoke Content Marketing Model

Google has always cared about ranking websites that show they are authoritative around a particular topic.

What better way to show Google and customers you know what you’re talking about than creating a lot of content around the topic?

One of the best ways to do this is the hub and spoke content marketing model. This content marketing model is related to using the customer’s voice because you need to ensure the content you are writing has demand first.

This isn’t a new model to the world of content marketing, but it’s essential and isn’t going anywhere.

Using the hub and spoke model, you can build authority around a hub, which is typically one of your main business lines or services.

The spoke content is usually composed of questions related to the hub or different parts of the buyer’s journey that connect to the hub.

This way, you can target users in their different stages of searching and make sure Google understands you know what you’re talking about when they come to your site.

By creating hub and spoke content for a specific topic, you become much more authoritative around a topic in Google’s eyes, which can help increase the amount of organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversions for your company.

3. Create Content Based On Result Types

We’ve known for a while that Google is no longer ten blue links.

However, new types of results appear on Google all the time. As a result, the search engine result pages have become very crowded with a variety of different result types.

Similar to making sure the keywords we are targeting have search volume, we also need to make sure we are structuring our content in a relevant way where Google will want to surface and show our content.

A few result types have become extremely popular this year, the biggest being short-form videos.

Short-form videos typically range from 10 to 30 seconds or up to 5 minutes.

With the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, short-form video content is all the rage and has even started appearing on Google as a result type.

When creating any content for your site, make sure to take a look to see what’s already showing up on Google and what competitors are doing.

Visual content or imagery can makes content more digestible and enticing to share on social media. This is also a great way to show up on Google Images, the second biggest search engine behind Google’s main search page.

Audio content, such as podcasts, has also become a big way for people to consume content nowadays.

When you create content, you need to understand how Google feels users are consuming this content based on what is showing up on Page 1 of Google. Then evaluate whether you can create content for these mediums.

4. Measure Your Content For ROI

This isn’t necessarily a new trend, but it’s another one that will always be a best practice for content marketing.

It’s challenging to tie ROI to anything in SEO or the organic channel, unlike paid media or email marketing which is usually more clear-cut with accessible CPC, conversion rates, and other key metrics.

This is why it’s essential to clearly define how you will measure your content for ROI and prove that it drives the organization’s results.

The best way to get more buy-in around SEO or why content is beneficial is to report on how the content is bringing more users to the site or helping them convert.

It’s recommended that you set up reporting, either using an enterprise SEO platform or smaller tools, prior to creating the content so you can measure how your content is doing, such as target keywords now ranking on Page 1, which will lead to an increase in organic traffic and organic conversions.

By consistently doing this, you can tell a story about how being proactive with SEO is worthwhile because you are bringing users to the site today and continuing to drive traffic to this same piece of content indefinitely.

5. AI-generated Content Is Here, But Don’t Fall For The Hype

It’s all happening! AI-generated content has finally arrived to the masses, but don’t fall for the hype.

There have been so many acronyms recently, whether it’s VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), or NFTs (non-fungible tokens), that people believe are going to break through and become the future.

However, none have become the mainstream disruptors they were pitched as. At least, not yet.

AI will be around for the long haul as it can make life so much easier in many different ways.

There are use cases for using AI services such as ChatGPT for research, creating schema, or content ideation, but it’s not recommended to have these services write your content entirely.

Google recently updated its E-A-T guidelines to include an extra “E” for experience. This shows that Google is continuing to focus on authoritative content, and it’s vital that you show the user you know what you’re talking about.

The new “E” around experience seems to be a shot at AI-generated content because Google wants to ensure users are getting the correct information from credible sources – similar to the YMYL algorithm update back in the day.

Google’s helpful content update has also finally finished being rolled out and is impacting websites with unsatisfying or unhelpful content. This is because many websites have started creating content primarily for search engines and not humans.

Humans need to write content meant for other humans.

Use AI to assist with content creation but be careful not to do this in mass like CNET, as they’ve already backtracked on this effort after people noticed many different errors in the content itself.

6. Re-Optimize And Repurpose Your Outdated/Underperforming Content

New year, new content? Well, not always.

By monitoring how the current content on your site is performing, you can identify if there is the ability to re-optimize or repurpose content that might be outdated or underperforming.

One of the best ways to do this is through a content audit to better understand which content is performing well and which content might need a little refresh or some love this year.

There is no point in reinventing the wheel, especially if the content is already good quality but could benefit from other target keywords.

By evaluating your current content, you can identify content gaps where you might need to create new content or find content that could be consolidated so it will perform better together.

When working with clients in the past, there have been countless times when we uncovered three different blog articles focused on the same topic, and none were performing well. Instead of wasting time and energy creating new content, try repurposing some of your site’s existing content to improve it.

Auditing the content on our site will always be a best practice, and it’s a great process to go through as you can uncover a lot of hidden gems while also identifying what other content updates, optimizations, or net new creations the site could benefit from.

7. Break Down The Silos Between Teams Internally (If You Haven’t Already)

This isn’t as much of a best practice for content strategy, but it is a best practice for any company creating content.

Creating content on your site involves a lot of moving pieces. Most people think it’s only the content team’s job, but there are also design/product teams, development teams, legal teams, and even the SEO team.

In any company, specifically enterprises, you need to ensure that all of these departments work together to achieve the same goal – bringing more people to your website and getting them to convert. There are many ways to improve your organic marketing processes to be more efficient.

Meet regularly with other departments and establish processes for creating new content and optimizing existing content. You can boost efficiency and ensure everyone understands their responsibilities throughout the process.

If you do not define the responsibilities of each team beforehand and explain why they are necessary, that department might not prioritize the right things, which will likely result in delays in the content creation process.

The best content marketers work to break down these silos to ensure that content is published effectively. Communication, education, and organization are a big part of this.

In Conclusion

By following these seven best practices, you can ensure your content will be in good hands in 2023 and moving forward.

Overall, you need to be proactive with the insights you find when creating content and communicate with the internal teams about how we might need their help in this process.

Content marketing is one of the best ways for any organization to bring in traffic to their site as it helps continue to educate consumers about the benefits of certain service lines and make them trust that your brand is the right one for their needs.

AI will be a hot topic this year, but don’t do anything too drastic with this development just yet when it comes to content creation. At the end of the day, it’s more important to ensure content is accurate and written for humans by humans.

These best practices are likely things you might have already heard about, but that doesn’t make them any less important.

Instead of focusing on the hot new thing each year, focus on getting these basics down first.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Jirsak/Shutterstock

Video Marketing: An In-Depth Guide For Every Business Owner Today

Marketers have used videos since the 1940s, but the term “video marketing” has gained momentum in the last decade.

Google’s purchase of YouTube in 2006 can be considered a critical turning point in the growth of video marketing.

Video marketing is a hot discussion topic and a focus area for every marketing team, irrespective of the industry or size of the organization.

So, for readers still confused about the term video marketing, here is a standard definition that explains it: Video marketing is leveraging videos to educate, entertain, and engage the audience to achieve your business or personal goals.

These can be short how-to videos, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, YouTube videos, and more.

Why Video Marketing?

Video marketing has gained so much traction over the last decade that almost every business is exploring it now.

There are several reasons behind the increased adoption of video as a content format for marketing. Here are some of them:

  • Humans love visuals more than words: Our brain process visuals much faster than words, and an MIT study found that we can identify images we’ve seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. With the dwindling attention span of your audience, videos are the best bet to grab their attention.
  • Videos evoke emotions: Via impactful storytelling, videos can evoke the right emotions in viewers. Creators can plan their storytelling based on the goals they are trying to achieve with their content.
  • Videos engage multiple senses of viewers: A video can engage a viewer’s senses, like sight and hearing. This helps evoke emotions and persuade.

Key Business Goals Videos Can Help You Achieve

Video content can help businesses achieve several of their goals and objectives. Some of these goals include:

  • Boosting website traffic & engagement: Video is an effective medium for driving quality traffic to your website and increasing engagement with your brand.
  • Building a social media community: Video can act as both an entertaining and an educational resource for audiences. By providing this type of value to people, video content can help you engage with social media users and grow your social community.
  • Customer acquisition and retention: Video can be used to educate potential prospects on your brand, your product, and your value proposition. In this sense, it is often helpful in converting people into customers and, ultimately, boosting your bottom line.
  • Raising content consumption: There’s no doubt that video is one of the most popular and highly-consumed content formats today – so leveraging it on the right platforms to tell the right stories can help you reach more people.
  • Gaining thought leadership: Provided you follow best practices and focus on unique storytelling, video can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace and tell your story.
  • Improving customer experience: Video content can augment your efforts to deliver the best experience for your customers, whether that’s through product explainers, how-tos, and tutorials, or customer case studies.

Statistics Proving The Rise Of Video Marketing

To understand the power and dominance of video in the world of marketing, we need to look at some latest statistics from Wyzowl’s 2022 State of Video Marketing report:

  • 86% of businesses used video as part of their marketing strategy in 2022.
  • 81% of marketers said video has helped them increase sales in 2022.
  • 94% of viewers have watched explainer videos to learn more about products or services in 2022.
  • 87% of marketers say videos have helped them increase traffic in 2022.

It’s clear from these statistics alone that video has become an integral part of the average company’s marketing strategy, irrespective of size and industry.

And while, in the past, marketers faced challenging barriers to entry with video content, such as high costs, inadequate tools, and lack of access to talent, the advent of affordable plug-and-play tools has made video content doable for any business today.

Video Formats Dominating Marketing Now

If you are exploring videos as part of your content strategy, this is the best time to research and think about how you’ll approach video content.

There is a wide range of platforms and formats available for marketers and business owners to experiment with when it comes to telling your brand story.

Questions To Ask Before Building Your Video Marketing Strategy

With the various formats available for your video marketing, you’ll need to ask yourself a few critical questions before kicking off your video marketing efforts.

Please answer the following questions honestly, so they can help you build an authentic and powerful video content strategy for your business.

  • Do you know your audience well? Knowing your audience well is the cornerstone of your video marketing success.
  • Does your audience consume video content? If you answer “no” here, there is no point wasting your energy or resources on video marketing.
  • Do you have a compelling story (or stories) to tell your audience? Every business must have an interesting story to tell its audience. If you don’t know yours, it’s time to go find it!
  • Do you have the time and resources to run a video marketing strategy? This critical question will help you decide what gaps you might need to fill to make your program successful.
  • How committed are you to successfully running a video marketing program? Video marketing, like any other marketing tactic, will demand your long-term commitment for it to bring results for your business.

All these questions will deliver the right answers to build a successful video marketing program.

Building A Powerful Video Marketing Strategy

A well-designed video marketing strategy can do wonders for your business or personal brand.

Video content can be leveraged for various goals for your business, like improving brand awareness, increasing website traffic, generating leads, booking demos, and much more.

Since videos can often pique an audience’s attention quickly, they can help you achieve your goals if executed correctly.

Here are the basic steps you can follow to build an effective video marketing strategy for your business:

Audience Research (Including A Buyer Persona Exercise)

The first step in building an effective video strategy is researching your audience.

Your goal during this step is to understand your audience’s demographics, challenges, and content preferences.

This exercise will help you determine whether video content will be useful in solving your target audience’s challenges.

Determining The Themes For Video Storytelling

Once you are clear on your audience’s preferences, you can move on to identifying some key themes you can use in your content strategy.

These themes will help you decide on content types and stories you can tell using videos.

These themes can be educational, holidays, events, regular updates, and more.

Identifying The Right Tools For The Program

Once the themes are clear, you can move on to identify the right tools needed for your video marketing strategy.

These can be tools for the creation, topic research, SEO, content distribution, and performance tracking of videos.

Choosing The Right People For The Program 

The most critical element for the program’s success is the people running it.

If you are a small business owner, this could be you! Or, if you are strapped for time, you may have to hire or identify the right people for the job.

Putting The Right Measurement Mechanism In Place

The success of your video content strategy depends on how to monitor and measure the performance.

Identify the crucial metrics for your goals, and put mechanisms in place for measuring them consistently.

Improving The Video Strategy Consistently

Constant monitoring will help you determine the changes needed to boost the effectiveness of your video marketing.

Keep improving the program by incorporating timely modifications to enhance the performance of your content.

Storytelling Tips For Effective Video Marketing 

As a business owner, you might be faced with some questions, such as:

  • What stories can I tell using videos?
  • Will my stories even appeal to my audience?
  • How will I consistently tell stories using video content?
  • Can I sustain this journey of video marketing?

Let’s get real for a moment.

Video storytelling is not a simple task. It requires dedication, commitment, and relentless focus from the creator.

Here are some storytelling tips for every business owner who is building their video strategy:

  • Be authentic: Authentic stories are more likely to strike a chord with your audience – so try to keep your content original and depict a true-t0-life representation of your brand.
  • Be consistent: Video marketing, like any other marketing tactic, will demand consistency more than anything else. Be consistent with your video content and stay on course.
  • Experiment: Always be experimenting with your video content. As new formats appear regularly, you should be agile to test them and find what resonates with your target audience.
  • Be customer-centric: Customer-centricity will be a critical element for the success of your video marketing strategy. Align your content to your customer, their challenges, and how you will solve them for the best results.
  • Be thick-skinned: With highly visual content like video, you will always run into feedback and criticism. Make sure to take constructive notes on board, but also develop the resilience to ignore the rest and keep at it.

Tools To Support Your Video Marketing

Many tools are available to help you execute an effective video marketing program.

Here are some cost-effective and user-friendly options for every business owner:

  • Animoto: A video creation software that provides readymade templates to help you create various videos for social media and other marketing purposes.
  • Canva: A graphic design and video platform with the largest collection of templates to support your video marketing.
  • TubeBuddy: Your go-to tool for managing and growing your YouTube video marketing.
  • StreamYard: A tool that helps you schedule and run live streams and webinars for your business.
  • Lumen5: Enables faster video creation for business owners from blogs and written content.
  • LoomPowerful screen recording software for creating educational and promotional videos on the go.
  • InVideo: A video creation platform with handy templates to suit your video content needs.
  • YouTube: The perfect platform to upload your video content for your target audience.
  • Speechelo: An easy-to-use tool for creating professional voice-overs for your videos.
  • Vyond: A video platform for creating impactful animated and whiteboard explainer videos.

Some Content Ideas For Kickstarting Your Video Marketing 

To help you kickstart your video marketing, here are some content ideas for you to test, depending on your appetite and resources:

  • An intro video for your business: Create a video explaining your business, the unique value it provides, and who it serves.
  • An animated video for your product/service: Develop an animated video explaining your product and highlighting its top features.
  • A live streaming show with stakeholders: If you’re feeling brave, try launching a live streaming show for social media with guests like influencers and your customers.
  • Behind-the-scenes live content: Similarly, you could use tools like Instagram Stories to broadcast ad-hoc live sessions that showcase the behind-the-scenes of your business and team.
  • Demo videos for your product: Prepare screen recording videos of your product and its features for your customers.

In Conclusion

To conclude, video marketing can be a game-changer for your business in 2023.

All you need to do is understand your customers and their challenges and plan video content that focuses on the solutions to those challenges.

Dedicate time and resources to create video content per your strategy – and keep it consistent.

And as James Wedmore says,

“Stop thinking of video marketing as this separate entity that is optional for your business.

Videos are an effective form of communication that needs to be integrated into each and every aspect of your existing marketing efforts.”

Happy video marketing!

More resources: 


Featured Image: vichie81/Shutterstock

15 Press Release Distribution Services

Businesses have to work to get noticed. Press releases can help get the word out to journalists and media entities to drive coverage and connect with a larger audience.

Here is a list of press release distribution services to reach journalists, newsrooms, publishers, and more. Most of these also offer writing services, expedited distribution, and tiered pricing based on reach. There are also a couple of free plans for limited distribution.

Got an ecommerce product release? Email releases@practicalecommerce.com.

Press Release Distribution Tools

PR Newswire is the distribution service of Cision, a public relations and communications software platform. PR Newswire’s network encompasses 4,500 U.S. websites, including Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, and various business journals. Its media network reaches nearly 3,000 newsrooms, such as The New York Times, ABC News, BuzzFeed, and more than 550 news portals, such as Moody’s, SmartBriefs, LexisNexis, and McGraw-Hill. Its media hub, PR Newswire for Journalists, has more than 39,000 active monthly users. Contact for pricing.

Home page of PR NewswireHome page of PR Newswire

PR Newswire

Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway company, was founded in 1961 and is a global leader in press release distribution and regulatory disclosure. It delivers news to the Associated Press, Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, and others, reaching over 100,000 media outlets in more than 160 countries. Distribution options include a global circuit delivered in more than 20 languages across 200 industry and trade categories. Business Wire offers tools to target news and measure and track results. Pricing: Tiered plans start at $475 for local, $510 for regional, and $940 for national.

GlobeNewswire is one of the largest distribution networks, specializing in delivering corporate press releases, financial disclosures, and multimedia content to media, investors, and consumers worldwide. GlobeNewswire press releases reach 130 countries in 35 languages. Customers can target by geography, industry, and media type. Pricing: Do-it-yourself option starts at $150. Full-service national publishing starts at $560.

Home page of GlobeNewswireHome page of GlobeNewswire

GlobeNewswire

Newswire is an established news distribution service with a suite of communications tools, including a media database of over 1 million contacts to pitch journalists directly from the app. Target local, national, or international media to distribute and improve the effectiveness of campaigns. Calculate media value and analyze campaign metrics and key channels. Pricing: Starts at $349 for one press release.

eReleases specializes in press release services for small businesses, startups, and authors. Its media database exceeds 1.7 million contacts, including 700,000 bloggers and social media influencers. eReleases provides press release templates, boilerplates, samples, and editorial review and composition. Releases are distributed through Cision’s PR Newswire. Pricing: Starts at $399 for one press release.

PR Underground is an online press release distribution service helping companies publish updates to Google News, regional television and news sites, and social media. PR Underground’s national distribution plan includes Yahoo Finance and PR Newswire. The basic plan publishes to Digital Journal, Google News, and more than 100 websites and news sources. Pricing: Starts at $74.99.

Home page of PR UndergroundHome page of PR Underground

PR Underground

IssueWire offers press release distribution to more than 150 media outlets, including Google News, Bing News, Ask.com, and more. With free and premium options and guaranteed placement, IssueWire is one of the most affordable distribution services. Add keywords and choose the categories to target your customers. IssueWire also offers affordable press-release composition. Pricing: Basic is free. Premium services include guaranteed placement starting at $21 per release.

Linking News is a white-label service that lets you distribute a press release to news outlets without the label of a third-party distribution company attached to it. Linking News guarantees coverage on premium news and media sites, including Yahoo News, Bloomberg, and more. Pricing: Starts at $159 per release.

EIN Presswire is a distribution service with its own proprietary platform that includes media distribution, newswire placement, and targeted opt-in email coverage. It’s an affordable option that focuses on small and mid-sized companies. EIN Presswire distributes releases worldwide using its World Media Directory, which includes television and radio stations, Facebook, Twitter, Google News, newspapers, and blogs. Pricing: Starts at $99.95 for one press release.

Home page of EIN PresswireHome page of EIN Presswire

EIN Presswire

PR Distribution is a press release distribution company focusing on small businesses. Select up to five industries to target. Features include unlimited word count, analytics, multimedia embedding, social media distribution, and more. Get syndicated on search engines, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo, and content aggregators, such as Google News, Bing News, and Yahoo News. Reach leading media outlets. Pricing: Plans start at $99 per release or $49 in bulk.

PRWeb, another service from Cision, distributes press releases to a network of media sites and industry publications, search engines, journalists, social media, and more. PRWeb provides analytics that measures a release’s impact. It offers proofreading and 24/7 support, along with Cision Communications Cloud integration for subscription customers. Pricing: Starts at $105 per release.

24-7 Press Release has been in business for 18 years, with news distribution channels that include over 30,000 members of the Associated Press and PR Newswire. Clients include Holiday Inn, Hilton Hotels, Church’s Chicken, and NASA. The press distribution package includes distribution through Cision PR Newswire and 2,500 media outlets such as Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, Benzinga, and Seeking Alpha. Pricing: Start at $29 per release.

Home page of 24-7 Press ReleaseHome page of 24-7 Press Release

24-7 Press Release

Send2Press offers affordable news distribution and content placement through media targeting. Reach print and broadcast media, AP newsrooms, and social networks. Improve search engine visibility using the proprietary ContextEngine. Send2Press’s database includes 40,000 U.S. media outlets, newsrooms, and opt-in writers. Pricing: Starts at $109 for the local state plan and $199 for national.

PR.com is an easy-to-use press release distribution service, reaching thousands of media outlets, journalists, influencers, bloggers, newsroom systems, search engines, and more. PR.com offers a free plan with limited distribution. Its top premium plan includes same-day distribution, enhanced proofreading, and AP reach. Pricing: Basic is free. Premium service starts at $60 per release.

Prowly offers a tool to create and distribute press releases with a platform that includes 1 million global contacts, a media pitching tool, media monitoring, reports, and more. Through a single workflow, customers create visual and interactive press releases and email them to relevant media outlets and practitioners. Pricing: Plans start at $189 per month.

Home page of ProwlyHome page of Prowly

Prowly

Free Content Plan Template To Adapt To Your Needs via @sejournal, @BrianFr07823616

Keeping your business top of mind for your targets calls for you to post content regularly. You must post the right things at the right time to make the biggest impact.

Your posting schedule must be consistent with your marketing efforts, with a focus on your strategic needs and projected outcomes.

In other words, you need a content plan.

But what is that? Is it the same thing as a content strategy? What type of information needs to be included? And what separates a good content plan from a bad one?

For the answers to all these questions and more – plus a free template you can download and customize to your own needs, read on.

What Is A Content Plan?

A content plan is a document that defines all the marketing content and assets you need to implement your content marketing strategy.

This includes everything from blogs and social media posts to search engine optimization research and white papers.

It will directly align with your marketing funnel, with each included asset corresponding with one of its stages: awareness, consideration, conversion, and loyalty.

Why Do You Need A Content Plan?

Content is an essential part of marketing.

By creating a content plan, you make it easier for your team to create, collaborate and implement this content.

A good plan will help you project future resource allocation, avoiding unnecessary delays and expenses.

Content Strategy Vs. Content Plan: What’s The Difference?

Though they have similar names, are often mistaken for one another, and are sometimes incorrectly used as interchangeable terms, a content plan is not the same as a content strategy.

And yes, you need both.

So, what’s the difference?

The main thing you need to know is this: your content strategy defines how and why content will be used in your marketing strategy.

Your content plan determines what, when, and where you’ll use various assets as part of this strategy in order to reach your goals.

Essentially, your content plan is the building blocks (blogs, outreach, reports, etc.) you use to reach the goals you outlined in your content strategy (more leads, increased sales, etc.)

You should lay out your content strategy before starting on your content plan, as your content plan will define how you achieve the strategy’s goals.

What Information Is Included In A Content Plan?

An effective content plan should provide your content creators with useful information they can use when developing assets. Namely, it should tell them:

  • Who the content is for – Your content needs to have an audience; that’s rudimentary marketing. Your content plan should clearly define who your assets are intended for and be constructed in a way to appeal to these targets.
  • How it will be delivered – Is this a blog post or an advertorial? A podcast or paid ad? Depending on the delivery vehicle, your content will take on different forms.
  • What problem it will solve – Your target audience has a need. Your content plan should present a solution to this need, as well as inspire the targets to take action.
  • How it will be created – Do you have an on-staff content writer who will create this piece, or will you outsource it to a freelancer? Who is responsible for publishing it? Answering these questions will make it easier to manage budgets and workflows.
  • Any associated costs – Whether it’s a payment to a web developer, a placement fee, or a subscription required for research, your content plan should ballpark any expected fees or payments necessary to create each item.

Depending on your needs, you may also want to include information about tone, notes about structure and layout, word counts, categories, and URLs.

Different Types Of Content To Include

It has already been mentioned how every piece of content should align with a specific stage of your marketing funnel.

Now, let’s look at each stage and discuss the types of content that work best for each.

Awareness

This type of content is going after the top of the marketing funnel.

It’s about showing potential customers that you exist and informing them about the qualities that differentiate you. Content should be easily consumable and easy to share.

Common types of awareness content are:

  • Social media posts.
  • Keyword-rich content for SEO.
  • Paid search ads.
  • Blog posts that are not sales-heavy.

Consideration

At the second stage of the funnel, you’re nurturing leads, building a relationship, and establishing trust. At this point, your content should be more in-depth and provide evidence of solutions.

Content that works well for the consideration stage includes:

  • Blogs establishing your authority.
  • Comparison content.
  • Webinars.

Conversion

The lead is on the hook, now it’s time to reel them in and complete the sale. Content in this stage should provide information on why customers should choose your brand.

Types that can help in this stage include:

  • Sales, promos, and coupons.
  • Consultation offers.
  • Case studies, articles, and whitepapers.

Creating Your Own Content Plan

As promised, here is a template of a content plan you can download and put to work for your business.

But here’s the thing – your company’s needs are unique. Just downloading this plan isn’t going to be effective.

You need to adapt it to your specific situation.

Not sure how to do that?

You’re in luck. We’ve also provided a handy step-by-step guide.

Customizing Your Content Plan

1. Determine Which Goal Each Piece Is Trying To Achieve

Trying to be everything to everyone is a terrible strategy. Remember the old adage, “a jack of all trades is a master of none.”

This is especially true for marketing content.

Every piece of content you plan, and eventually create, should have a specific purpose.

As you’re filling out your own content plan, keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish with that piece. Make sure each piece of content clearly aligns with a specific stage of your marketing funnel.

2. Identify Where The Target Audience Is

Decide who you’re targeting and then figure out the best way to reach them. Then, determine where each piece of content can be placed for maximum impact.

Bear in mind that certain types of content will perform better on specific platforms.

For example, that professional eBook you’re planning to create is more likely to receive more attention and interaction on LinkedIn than it is on Facebook.

3. Take Your Budget Into Account

When determining when to create and release certain pieces of content, be mindful of your budget.

For example, if you have a tradeshow in August that will require a lot of investment, in both time and money, then June and July may not be the best times to undertake resource-intensive content projects.

One of the benefits of a content plan is that it gives you information about ongoing and upcoming projects at a glance.

Use this to your advantage.

4. Determine A Cadence

Gaining credibility and growing your audience requires the regular release of fresh content.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic number for what that is. Only you can determine what works best for you and your audience’s desires.

You should look at your schedule to determine how much time it allows you to dedicate to content creation and curation.

Then, put yourself in your targets’ shoes and decide how frequently they would like content from you.

Finally, consider how your release frequency will help you achieve your goals.

For example, if you’re trying to grow your audience, you should probably post more frequently than if you’re seeking to maintain customer loyalty.

5. Create A Flow

You need a clearly defined content creation process.

It should outline what each person is responsible for, who is involved in each step, and establish a process for passing things off from one person or department to the next.

Many organizations find using a color-coded system most effective for this stage.

Some Other Content Planning Tips

Now that you have your content plan template downloaded and you’ve customized it to your unique situation, it’s time to get started planning and creating that content – well, almost.

Before you take the leap and start outlining every asset and piece of collateral you’ll use in the coming year, here as some final things to bear in mind:

Color Code

Use the color fill functionality spreadsheets offer to give you at-a-glance information about each piece of content.

You should be easily able to identify where a piece is in the creation process, which platform(s) it will be used on, and how it fits into your overall marketing strategy.

Don’t Forget About SEO

A lot of your leads are going to come to you via the internet, which means it’s of utmost importance that you help them find you. Any digital content you create should always keep search engine optimization in mind.

Make sure you’ve researched your keywords and are including them whenever possible. Strive to make content that matches search intent and make sure that everything is providing value.

Don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from pages that are currently ranking highly for your desired keywords.

(Note the word “inspiration.” This does not mean stealing. All your content should be original.)

Consider Each Channel Separately

Each content marketing channel has its own objectives. You should always keep these in mind when determining what will go where.

That said, keep an eye out for opportunities to repurpose things. If you can generate engagement by posting links to the same blog post on four different social media channels, then you absolutely should.

Keep An Idea File

Great content ideas can come to you anywhere, often when they’re least expected. Consider adding another tab to your content plan spreadsheet in which you can list ideas for future content.

Keywords are a great jumping-off point for generating ideas. Look around at what other brands are doing. Can you take a similar approach?

Maybe you have a silly idea that you’re not serious about, but which could inspire someone else.

Your goal with your idea file is to brainstorm as many ideas as possible, which means none are wrong.

Final Thoughts

Creating a successful content plan isn’t difficult, but it does take a bit of work. However, if you’re serious about achieving your marketing goals, it’s something you need to do.

And be aware: Your positions, goals, and criteria will evolve over time, and your content should evolve alongside it.

Now get out there and make something great.

More resources:


Featured Image: maybealice/Shutterstock

What Is The Content Marketing Funnel? via @sejournal, @rio_seo

You’ve identified your target prospective customers, are consistent with your content creation, and leverage different content types to promote your product or service. Your content strategy seems solid enough then, right?

The truth is, your content marketing efforts can, and should, always be evolving.

Just as marketing strategy best practices shift and adapt to current consumer behavior trends, so too should content marketing.

Your sales team has likely already mapped out a sales funnel to better understand what your target audience is thinking and doing at each stage of the purchasing journey.

You, too, can create a content marketing funnel to guide your ideal customers from the awareness stage to the conversion stage where they become actual customers.

In this post, we’ll explore what exactly a content marketing funnel is, how to create a successful content marketing funnel that converts, and the types of content pieces to include in each stage of the funnel.

What Is A Content Marketing Funnel?

A content marketing funnel enables content marketers to visualize how to leverage existing content to attract potential customers and guide them through their journey until they reach the end goal.

This end goal may include a sale, a demo, a download, or another type of conversion.

Each stage of the funnel provides a purpose, such as attracting attention, generating high-quality leads, and closing conversions.

A marketing funnel can provide brands with greater visibility into where they may have content gaps along the customer journey.

For example, if a brand has a considerable amount of content aimed at buyers in the awareness stage but not enough content in the decision stage, they may want to shift their efforts to creating more bottom-funnel content.

How To Start Mapping Your Content Funnel

You’ll first want to assess your current content inventory, including every type of content you produce, whether that be blog content, long-form content (such as ebooks or white papers), and more.

When reviewing each piece of content, you’ll then want to assign what stage of the buyer journey the content aligns with. These stages will include:

  • Top of the funnel (TOFU): Awareness stage. In this stage, potential customers are searching for information.
  • Middle of the funnel (MOFU): Interest and consideration stage. In these stages, potential customers are looking at your products or services and reading customer reviews. They may also present this information to key stakeholders.
  • Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): Intent, evaluation, and conversion stage. Buyers are ready to move forward with their purchasing decision.

As you can see by examining each stage individually, your target audience needs diverse pieces of content depending on where they are at.

Your funnel content can’t adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, or you won’t effectively reach potential buyers. Relevant content must be presented at each funnel stage.

Let’s explore the most effective types of content for each funnel stage.

Content Marketing Funnel IllustrationImage created by author, January 2023

Top Funnel Content

The top of the funnel is where customers are gathering information to help guide them through the buyer journey.

At this stage, a customer is likely just getting familiar with your business and what you have to offer.

Here, you want to build a positive customer experience to show the buyer you’re worth engaging with further.

You’ll want to answer their questions, educate them on their queries, and turn these potential customers into warm leads.

A study conducted by Semrush found the following types of TOFU content work best when attracting traffic.

  • “How-to” guide (72%).
  • Landing page (35%).
  • Infographic (28%).
  • Checklist (27%).
  • Ebook/white paper (26%).
  • Video tutorial (23%).

As you can see, most of these types of content are educational materials designed to provide more information in the awareness phase.

The primary goal of your content in this stage is to offer help, and it shouldn’t be too sales-oriented.

Middle Funnel Content

Once your ideal customers reach the middle of the funnel, they’re no longer looking for surface-level, introductory content.

You’ll instead want to look towards creating content that nurtures prospective customers further down the funnel. They might be looking for customer stories, product reviews, or a how-to video.

Looking at the results from the same Semrush study, the following types of MOFU content work best when attracting traffic.

  • “How-to” guide (44%).
  • Product overview (40%).
  • Case study (34%).
  • Landing page (31%).
  • Webinar (31%).
  • Success story (30%)

Consider these potential customers were likely already introduced to your brand during the discovery stage, and therefore should not be presented with discovery stage content. An effective content strategy entails personalizing content for your audience.

In fact, research shows 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions – and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.

If you’re not tailoring your content plan and content marketing formats to customers at every stage, you risk creating a poor customer experience with your business.

Bottom Funnel Content

Once a potential customer has reached the bottom of the funnel, they’re seeking content that helps them finalize their purchase decision.

They’re looking to learn how your product or service will make their return on investment worthwhile and why you’re the better option than your competitor.

Because these customers are well beyond the awareness stage and looking to potentially convert, the type of content you present to them is crucial to building trust and, ultimately, completing the purchase.

The content you present during the consideration phase can make the difference between a conversion and a lost sale. The top-performing content types in the BOFU stage include:

  • Product overview.
  • Customer review.
  • Success story.

Consider sharing success stories of current customers that are similar to your prospect at this stage of the funnel.

Other examples of content to include at this stage are email campaigns featuring positive customer testimonials and product collateral. Include special offers, free trials, or live demos, too.

What To Do Once You’ve Assessed Your Content

Once you have a comprehensive view of the content that already exists for every stage of the journey, it’s time to identify where you have gaps.

You’ll also want to determine the types of content assets you need to create. For example, maybe you’ve identified you don’t have any how-to content for buyers in the awareness phase. Or, perhaps, you don’t have enough customer success stories.

After you’ve identified content gaps, it’s time to put together an editorial calendar to prioritize what you need to tackle first and when.

Your editorial calendar should be monitored daily to keep track of what you have in the queue, what’s coming up, the intended content audience for the piece, and where the piece falls in the content marketing funnel.

It may also be worthwhile to conduct a competitive analysis of your competitor’s content marketing strategy to identify opportunities for new additional content pieces and how you can make your content better.

You want both relevant and helpful content to meet Google’s Helpful Content System’s standards and create an optimal user experience.

Conclusion

Having a comprehensive and cohesive content strategy is critical for creating a rewarding buying experience. Keep your audience in mind with each piece of content you create.

You’ll also want to have a thorough understanding of your target customer, how they think, what they are looking for, and how you can solve their problem.

An effective content marketing funnel takes time, testing, and patience to perfect, but it’s absolutely necessary to outshine your competitors and come out on top.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Shutterstock

5 Content Marketing Ideas for February 2023

Content marketers who need inspiration in February 2023 can focus on how-to articles, the Super Bowl, Black History Month, Groundhog Day, and  — what else? — Valentine’s Day.

Content marketing is creating, publishing, and promoting articles, newsletters, podcasts, videos, or even apps to attract, engage, and retain customers.

Content marketing should provide your audience of prospects with something helpful, informative, or entertaining so that they feel a sense of reciprocity to consider your brand when needed.

Here are five content marketing ideas that ecommerce brands and retailers can use in February 2023.

1. How-to Listicles

Listicles (list articles) and videos are excellent ways to attract potential buyers via search engines. Listicles are also sharable.

For February 2023, consider creating a series of instructional listicles that cover topics related to  your business, such as “how to choose the right winter coats for extreme cold weather” or “how to prepare a healthy Valentine’s Day dinner.”

Photo of a book cover, keyboard, and smartphone on a desk.Photo of a book cover, keyboard, and smartphone on a desk.

How-to listicles are a top article format for attracting potential customers via search engines. The content is also sharable. Photo: Jamie O’Sullivan.

The list’s topic, again, should make sense in the context of the products your business sells. A fitness hydration brand such as Propel or Liquid I.V., as examples, could create listicles focused on nutrition and exercise, such as:

  • “10 Post-workout Recovery Routines for Sore Muscles,”
  • “25 Superfoods for Natural Energy,”
  • “50 Health Benefits of Hydration,”
  • “7 Alternatives to Sugary Drinks.”

2. Super Bowl LVII

This year’s Super Bowl will occur at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, February 12. The event is an excellent content opportunity, as millions of viewers will search for all sorts of Super Bowl-related topics.

Logo from NFL of Super Bowl LVII.Logo from NFL of Super Bowl LVII.

Arizona will host the 2023 Super Bowl. Millions of viewers will be planning parties and searching for Super Bowl-related topics. Image: National Football League.

Your content could be a blog post, video series, email newsletter, or even a podcast. It can address pre- and post-game topics as well as commercials, half-time festivities, gameplay, and more. And your products need not be specifically related to sports. Here are a few examples.

  • Online kitchen supply store: “Tailgating Recipes for a Perfect Game Day.”
  • A home decor retailer: “Creative Home Decor Ideas to Celebrate the Super Bowl.”
  • A DTC toy brand: “Activities to Engage Kids during the Big Game.”
  • A natural grocery store: “Healthier Alternatives to Classic Game-day Snacks.”

3. Black History Month

February is Black History Month — a time to commemorate the accomplishments, contributions, and history of Black Americans. We recognize Black History in February because it is the birth month of President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation; Fredrick Douglas, among the most influential abolitionists; and Rosa Parks, a 1950s civil rights pioneer.

February is also the month in which the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing Black Americans the right to vote.

Photo of young black children at school from late 1800s.Photo of young black children at school from late 1800s.

A group of children at the Whittier Primary School, Hampton, Virginia, in approximately 1899. Photo: Library of Congress.

Merchants can produce content reflecting the achievements of Black Americans in all fields, from the arts and sciences to politics and sports.

As with all topic suggestions, the content should be relevant to the products we sell. One way to do that is to profile Black Americans who contributed significantly to your industry.

An online music store selling pianos, guitars, trumpets, and accessories might feature articles or videos with titles like:

  • “Black History Month: Celebrating Black Musicians from Duke Ellington to Janelle Monáe,”
  • “The Roots of Black Music: Artists That Shaped Modern Sound,”
  • “Black Trailblazers in the Music Industry: Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, More,”
  • “How Music Impacts Social and Political Movements,”
  • “From Jazz to Hip Hop: A Timeline of Black Music in America.”

4. Groundhog Day

February 2 is Groundhog Day in the U.S. and Canada. The holiday was first celebrated in 1887 in Punxsutawney, Penn. The premise is that Punxsutawney Phil (a groundhog or woodchuck) will emerge from his burrow and predict the end of winter.

Photo of eight male members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.Photo of eight male members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club with Phil (lower right) on Groundhog Day 2022. Photo from the club’s Instagram page @punxsyphil.

Actor Bill Murray started in “Groundhog Day,” a 1993 romantic comedy. The movie has become a cult classic and is frequently referenced in popular culture.

Collectively the movie, the woodchuck, and the anticipation of spring make for content marketing opportunities.

Here are five potential headlines.

  • “15 Ways to Refresh Your Home for Spring.”
  • “Top Spring Fashion Trends.”
  • “How to Create a Spring-inspired Outdoor Space.”
  • “The Best Spring Beauty Products.”
  • “Spring Cleaning Tips for Groundhog Day.”

5. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day on February 14 is among the most important gift-giving holidays. It is celebrated worldwide and marks an occasion for couples to celebrate their love. It’s also an opportunity for friends, families, and even co-workers to show appreciation for one another.

Bronze metal letters L - O - V - EBronze metal letters L - O - V - E

Valentine’s Day is one of retail’s top worldwide holidays. Photo: Jesse Goll.

Valentine’s Day can drive significant sales of products and services. Some consumers look for specific gifts, but others need ideas or inspiration. That’s where content marketing comes in. Use Valentine’s Day to showcase your products, provide gift suggestions, or even run contests.

Here are five headline ideas.

  • “Valentine’s Gifts Your Special Someone Will Love.”
  • “5 Ways to Show Appreciation on Valentine’s Day (Beyond Flowers and Chocolates).”
  • “Valentine’s Day Outfits for the Perfect Date Night.”
  • “The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Gift Guide.”
  • “10 DIY Gifts to Celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
30 Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know via @sejournal, @JRiddall

Content continues to rule most marketing strategies, and there is evidence to support my assertion.

Simply put, content marketing is a crucial aspect of any digital marketing strategy, whether you’re running a small local business or a large multinational corporation.

After all, content is indisputably the very lifeblood upon which the web and social media are based.

Modern SEO, for all intents and purposes, has effectively become optimized content marketing as Google demands and rewards businesses that create content demonstrating Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness to the benefit of their customers.

Content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable, relevant, entertaining, and consistent content in various text-based, video, and audio formats.

The primary focus should be on attracting and retaining a clearly defined audience, with the ultimate goal of driving profitable customer action.

But with so much content being produced and shared every day, it’s important to stay updated on the latest trends and best practices in content marketing to keep pace.

To help you do just that, here are 25 content marketing statistics I think you should know:

Content Marketing Usage

How many businesses are leveraging content marketing, and how are they planning to find success?

  1. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of B2B marketers and 70% of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
  2. 91% of marketing pros surveyed by Semrush achieved success with their content marketing in 2021.
  3. A B2B Content Marketing Study conducted by CMI found 40% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy; 33% have a strategy, but it’s not documented, and 27% have no strategy whatsoever.
  4. Half of all marketers say they outsource some content marketing.
  5. The pandemic increased content usage by 207%.

Content Marketing Strategy

What strategies are content marketers using or finding to be most effective?

  1. 83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher quality content less often.
  2. In a 2022 Statista Research Study of marketers worldwide, 62% of respondents said they believed it was important to be “always on” for their customers, whereas 23% thought content-led communications were most effective for personalized targeting purposes.

Types Of Content

Content marketing was synonymous with posting blogs, but the web and content have evolved into audio, video, interactive, and meta formats.

Here are a few stats on how the various types of content are trending and performing.

  1. The top three types of content being created by marketing teams in 2022 included videos, blogs, and images.
  2. Short articles/posts (83%) and videos (61%) are the top two content types that B2C marketers used in the last 12 months. Their use of long-form articles increased to 42% from 22% last year.
  3. Short-form video content like TikToks and Instagram Reels is the most effective type of social media content.
  4. 40.8% of marketers said original graphics (infographics, illustrations) helped them reach their marketing goals in 2020 (Source: Venngage)
  5. 72% of B2C marketers expected their organization to invest in video marketing in 2022. (Source: CMI)
  6. Short content (300-900 words) attracts 21% less traffic and 75% fewer backlinks than articles of average length (900–1200 words.) (Source: Semrush State of Content Marketing 2022)
  7. Interactive content sees 52.6% more engagement than static content, with buyers spending an average of 8.5 minutes viewing static content items and 13 minutes on interactive content items. (Source: Mediafly)

Content Distribution

It is not simply enough to create and publish content.

For a content strategy to be successful, it must include distributing content via the channels frequented by a business’s target audience.

  1. Facebook was the top distribution channel for B2C marketers in the past 12 months and the channel that drove the best results. (Source: CMI)
  2. B2B marketers reported to CMI that LinkedIn was the most common and top-performing organic social media distribution channel.
  3. 80% of B2B marketers who use paid distribution use paid social media advertising (Source: CMI)

Content Consumption

Once content reaches an audience, it’s important to understand how an audience consumes the content or takes action as a result.

  1. A 2021 DemandGen study revealed 62% of those making B2B purchase decisions said they relied more on practical content like case studies and visual content, such as webinars, to guide their buying decisions and citing a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source.
  2. Buyers are willing to spend no more than 5 minutes reviewing most content formats. (Source: DemandGen Content Preferences Survey)
  3. In a recent post, blogger Ryan Robinson reports the average reader spends 37 seconds reading a blog.
  4. 65% of respondents to DemandGen’s survey said they give more credence to peer reviews, user-generated content, and third-party publications/analysts vs. company-generated content.

Content Marketing Performance

One of the primary reasons content marketing has taken off is its ability to be measured, optimized, and tied to a return on investment.

  1. B2C marketers reported to CMI the top three goals content marketing helps them to achieve are creating brand awareness, building trust, and educating their target audience.
  2. Content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less (Source: CMI).
  3. 56% of marketers who leverage blogging say it’s an effective tactic, and 10% say it generates the greatest ROI (return on investment). (Source: Hubspot blog research)
  4. Over 60% of marketers measure the success of their content marketing strategy through sales. (Source: Hubspot State of Marketing Report, 2021)

Content Marketing Budgets

Budget changes and the willingness to invest in specific marketing strategies are good indicators of how popular and effective these strategies are at a macro level.

The following stats certainly seem to indicate marketers have bought into the value of content.

  1. 61% of B2C marketers in CMI’s 2021 study said their 2022 content marketing budget would exceed their 2021 budget.
  2. 22% of B2B marketers said they spent 50% or more of their total marketing budget on content marketing. Furthermore, 43% saw their content marketing budgets grow from 2020 to 2021, and 66% expected them to grow again in 2022. (Source: CMI)

Challenges

All forms of marketing come with challenges related to time, resources, expertise, and competition. Recognizing and addressing these challenges head-on with well-thought-out strategies is the best way to overcome them and realize success.

  1. Top challenges included “attracting quality leads with our content” (41%), “generating enough traffic and promoting our content” (39%), “creating content that resonates with our audience” (31%), and “proving the ROI of our content” (30%). (Source: Semrush’s State of Content Marketing 2022)
  2. Changes to SEO/search algorithms (64%), changes to social media algorithms (53%), and data management/analytics (48%) are among the top concerns for B2C marketers. (Source: CMI)
  3. 47% of people are seeking downtime from internet-enabled devices due to digital fatigue (Source: EY Survey)

Time To Get Started

As you can clearly see and perhaps have already realized, content marketing can be a highly effective and cost-efficient way to generate leads, build brand awareness and drive sales.

Those willing to put in the work of building a documented content strategy and executing it by producing, distributing, and optimizing high-value, relevant customer-centric content can reap significant business rewards.

More resources:


Featured Image: Deemak Daksina/Shutterstock

6 Best Content Calendar Templates To Use In 2023 via @sejournal, @donutcaramel13

Chances are, as a content creator, you’ve experienced creating a post spontaneously, without any planning.

While it may work for some, it’s not ideal. Why?

To quote the iconic motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “Success is when preparation meets opportunity.”

If you want your content production to scale, you need to plan and execute with a well-thought-out strategy (while using limited resources).

And what better way to do that than with content calendars? They’re essential tools for anyone who wants to create great content consistently.

They allow you to plan out your content creation process from start to finish.

In this article, we’ve rounded up the top 6 templates so you can get started right away on next year’s content plan.

But if you’re new to the idea, don’t worry; we also have an in-depth guide about creating content calendars if you need help getting started.

But First, What Is A Content Calendar?

Content calendars are essentially time management systems that organize your workflow into weekly or daily blocks.

This helps you stay organized and focused on creating high-quality content.

Content calendars are extremely useful for bloggers, freelancers, and other content creators.

You can create your own using Excel sheets, or make a copy using the free templates below, then adjust it to your brand’s needs.

Why Should I Use A Content Calendar?

Whether you’re the only content specialist in your in-house ecommerce company or an agency social media manager, a content calendar makes you better organized with your campaigns.

It helps heaps, too, when you’re trying to collaborate with multiple teammates, so they know what’s needed and when.

Why? At a glance, it’s easy to understand what went live, along with the copy and asset used. Sort your posts by social platform and assign some color coding. Usually, each tab is marked by month.

Because you can see the bigger picture (at least a month in advance), you can go ahead and map out themes and daily social posts ahead of schedule, plan well-researched infographics with your designer, and track how your posts are doing.

You’re better equipped to craft your message to your target audience, keeping in mind their wants and needs when the seasonal trends come and go.

You can plan around holidays and big world events, from Valentine’s Day to Pride Month or any national event relevant to your brand values.

(Not to toot our own horn, but we have our own marketing calendar to help you with just that!)

Plus, since you’re planning ahead, you’re less likely to commit a faux pas since the content will be brainstormed, briefed, approved, and published before crunch time. It’s a protective measure, really.

Without further ado, here are our picks (most of them are free!).

Top 6 Content Calendar Templates (And Tools) For 2023

1. CoSchedule

CoSchedule content calendarScreenshot from CoSchedule, December 2022

If you’re running a WordPress blog, CoSchedule may be your best bet. It truly shines in content marketing and is ideal for individual bloggers, influencers, or freelancers.

The intuitive calendar is easy to use, with seamless integrations including WordPress, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, MailChimp, and more (11 apps in total, and not just social media).

We recommend this one if you manage your blog and social media.

  • Cost: Free – just create an account.

2. Airtable

Airtable content calendarScreenshot from CoSchedule, December 2022

Do you have an existing Google Sheet, Excel file, or CSV file of a content calendar but wish to move to an app?

Airtable would be a great pick.

With its automation (Slack or email) to remind you of certain posts and its ability to handle multiple fields of data without needing formulas (for non-Excel fans), Airtable can save you time and hassle.

I especially like that it has the necessary fields that a content specialist would have in mind when assigning blog posts: Title, Writer, Due Date, Status, and Image. And you can create more customized fields.

You can also view your calendar in a grid, kanban, or calendar form. I’d expect project managers and specialists working with a larger marketing department to find this useful.

  • Cost: Free with a 14-day trial; then, you’d be switched automatically to a free version.

3. HubSpot (Free Template)

 HubSpot content calendarScreenshot from HubSpot, December 2022

Excel geeks, rejoice!

HubSpot’s free Social Media Content Calendar is pretty flexible. Just insert the month + year, and adjust the template to suit your brand.

There’s a tab for Schedule, Content Repository, Twitter Updates, Facebook Updates, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

What do we love about this one? HubSpot listed a couple of examples for each platform.

And there’s even a PDF that goes with it when you download the template to help beginners map out posts and monitor them.

It’s more for social media than blog posts, so we recommend this one for social media specialists in startups and in-house social media managers for ecommerce brands.

4. Trello (Free Template)

Trello content calendarScreenshot from Trello, December 2022

A popular project management tool, Trello is an ideal content calendar choice for massive teams already on an Agile framework and using similar products (Jira, Confluence, etc.).

The drag-and-drop functionality is easy to use. One glance, and you know what the task status is.

It’s easy to assign subtasks to team members, set due dates, attach revisions, and give feedback.

We recommend this one for massive enterprises or busy publication teams who need to have a better grip on their content production next year.

5. Loomly

Loomly content calendarScreenshot from Loomly, December 2022

What I liked about Loomly was that it felt fit for purpose, especially for social media managers. And creative people, take note!

What sets it apart: It can pull from your RSS feeds and present up to 90 post ideas or automatically create quick draft posts.

It’s a cool feature for people who are perpetually experiencing writer’s block (like I am). I didn’t really see that feature on the other apps.

Fashion, beauty, travel, arts, and other creative product type brands social media specialists would benefit the most from choosing Loomly.

  • Cost: At least $26 monthly after a 15-day free trial.

6. Hootsuite (Free Template)

Hootsuite free templateScreenshot from Hootsuite, December 2022

Similar to HubSpot’s template, Hootsuite has a downloadable, free Google Sheet spreadsheet with five tabs: Instructions, Strategy, Monthly View, Weekly View, and Evergreen Content Library (for Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any platform).

The weekly view is a feature I haven’t seen on the other templates.

What I like most about this template is the key dates available throughout the year under January to June and July to December. Events like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday (USA) are pretty helpful for B2B.

The simple-to-use template is ideal for Excel pros who don’t want to use a paid tool and the extra features that come with it.

Conclusion

Initially, this list was a lot longer (around 10), but some of the ones I cut out meant their signup or download process was cumbersome – too many steps, crazy pricing, too hard sell, or lead to a 404 page.

As long as I couldn’t download their calendar within two minutes for some reason or another, I didn’t put it on this list.

Knowing I did the dirty work, you can rest assured that one of these tried-and-tested calendars should work for you next year.

Try them out and go with what feels right; choose the one you can live with for at least another year.

Leveling up on your blog posts, overall marketing campaigns, and social posts takes a lot of planning.

With some hard work, creativity, and planning, these tools can help propel your brand to new heights.

Happy New Year, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

More Resources:


Featured Image: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

5 Content Marketing Ideas for January 2023

A new year brings opportunities to attract, engage, and retain customers with helpful, informative, and entertaining content. So in January 2023, invigorate your company’s content marketing with renewed effort and new channels.

Content marketing is meant to develop and strengthen relationships with customers. And often, the final step in content engagement is when the shopper anticipates reading, listening, or watching your info.

What follows are five content marketing ideas your business can use in January 2023.

1. Double Down on a Blog

Content marketing develops a sense of reciprocity. Your business provides valuable content such as a how-to article and readers are appreciative and inclined to buy your products.

Image of hands typing on a laptop keyboardImage of hands typing on a laptop keyboard

For ecommerce companies, a blog is foundational for content marketing. Photo: Glenn Carstens-Peters.

If your business has a languishing blog or has never started one, January 2023 is your opportunity. Here are some steps to get started.

  • Identify the person responsible. Designate someone to be in charge of the blog.
  • Have a goal. Your blog should be a search-engine-optimization workhorse. So set goals around organic search traffic and rankings for queries related to your brand or products.
  • Develop an editorial calendar. You will need a plan.
  • Start writing. Commit to publishing a blog post at least once each week in January 2023. Consider writing about holidays (even obscure ones) related to the products you sell.
  • Improve. Work to get better at writing.

2. Launch an Editorial Newsletter

An editorial newsletter is a regular email message focusing mostly on non-promotional content.

Screenshot of a Gmail web pageScreenshot of a Gmail web page

Email newsletters are among the most powerful content marketing formats. Photo: Stephen Phillips.

Imagine you have an online store selling kombucha brewing supplies — jars, teas, and even starter kits. It could make sense to publish a weekly newsletter on gut health or healthy living. The newsletter would provide fresh content, including links to your website, and could occasionally mention your products.

Regardless, choose a newsletter topic and a format that aligns with your business. Reuse blog or social media posts occasionally but also create newsletter-only content. Here are some hypothetical newsletter examples.

  • Travel gear retailer. Profile amazing Airbnb and Vrbo rentals.
  • Cosmetics store. Feature successful women and career advice.
  • Craft supply shop. Publish a list of crafting tutorials.

3. Engage with Your Podcast

Justin Moore is a content and sponsorship practitioner. His business, Creator Wizard, shows creators and influencers how to earn a living with the content they create. In 2023, Moore is launching a new podcast called “Creator Debates.”

Screenshot of Creator Wizard web page showing Justin MooreScreenshot of Creator Wizard web page showing Justin Moore

Justin Moore is starting a new podcast in 2023; perhaps, your business should too.

Moore is getting into podcasting because it deepens his relationship with professional creators. He will format his podcast like a political debate with prominent content creators talking about hot topics in their industry.

For your January 2023 content marketing efforts, find a format that puts an interesting spin on podcasting.

An online shop selling power tools might interview leading contractors, asking them how projects are changing. An apparel shop could develop a podcast around fashion trends we all love or hate.

4. Commit to Video

We all know the cliche: A picture is worth a thousand words. But a video can be worth millions.

In January 2023, make videos an important part of your business’s content marketing strategy. Americans reportedly watch between 80 and 120 minutes of online video daily, on average.

Image of a video production sceneImage of a video production scene

January 2023 could be the time to start producing videos. Photo: Jakob Owens.

HubSpot recently reported that those viewers want to be entertained and taught and are increasingly learning from brand videos — i.e., content marketing videos.

Commit to a few simple video strategies in January 2023.

  • Make your podcast a video. Record your podcast in both video and audio. Many podcasting tools will do this by default.
  • Make videos from your best blog posts. Use your analytics and conversion tracking tools to identify your company’s top-performing blog posts, and make a video version of each one.
  • Publish videos on your website. You will most certainly want to distribute your video content on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, but don’t forget about your company’s own website too. Embed your videos directly on relevant pages.

5. Teach a Class

If useful info is the ultimate of content marketing, then teaching a class — as opposed to an article, newsletter, podcast, or video — is the ultimate format.

This final content marketing idea for January 2023 is to develop a class that teaches something of real value to customers. Almost any business can teach.

Here is an example. A company that sells workwear to construction workers might offer a free blueprint-reading class and certification. This is helpful because many construction workers don’t have formal training, only what they learned on the job.

If a framer, for example, wanted to start a business, the inability to read a complete blueprint could be a barrier to success. And the same company he buys his Carhart pants and Wolverine boots from could be the solution.

Image of a framer holding a hammerImage of a framer holding a hammer

Almost any business can teach. For example, a workwear store could offer classes that advance a construction worker’s career. Photo: Baptiste Buisson.