Advertorials Bridge Storytelling and Selling

For some products, capturing a shopper’s attention requires long-form persuasion, a blend of advertising and editorial.

“Advertorials” are not new. Newspaper and magazine publishers have long deployed them to look like articles but promote like ads. A good advertorial is informative and engaging. It resides seamlessly on the platform while clearly disclosing that it’s a paid piece.

Advertorials are highly effective when done right. They allow a retailer or brand to engage prospects and deliver a persuasive argument for a product’s value.

Advertorials accomplish one or more of the following.

  • Educate an audience. An advertorial can describe in detail a product’s benefits, use cases, or unique value proposition.
  • Tell a story. A chocolate bar company has a story to tell when, say, its founders sail to South America four times a year to hand-select cocoa beans grown by an indigenous tribe. Shoppers would likely read a magazine-like feature describing the purpose and the journey and emphasizing how the chocolate is both delicious and sustainable.
  • Address misconceptions. Advertorials can correct common misconceptions or myths about an industry, brand, or product.
  • Launch new products. Long-form explanations are helpful in detailing an item’s features and benefits.
  • Leverage influencers. A celebrity or authority could collaborate with an advertorial, adding that individual’s clout to support product claims.
  • Test product messaging. Advertorials facilitate testing without impacting the overall brand.

Advertorial vs. Content Marketing

Advertorials and content marketing, while similar, differ in their approach, intent, and presentation.

Both use content to engage a target audience. But advertorials are specifically promotional, while content marketing prioritizes value and relationship-building.

Moreover, advertorials aim for an immediate sale, while content marketing might seek micro-conversions or lesser goals. For example, a golf retailer might produce swing tutorials as part of a content marketing campaign to attract search engine traffic. An advertorial from that retailer could describe the Callaway Paradym driver with its adjustable head to change the face angle.

Finally, advertorials appear as news articles while labeled as a promotion. This journalistic presentation differs from most content marketing.

Consider the example advertorial from, a hearing-aide provider.

Image showing a man holding a hearing aid with the headline: Why this tiny German hearing aid is taking the U.S. by storm, according to experts.Image showing a man holding a hearing aid with the headline: Why this tiny German hearing aid is taking the U.S. by storm, according to experts.

An advertorial for’s Horizon hearing aid.

We see aspects of an advertorial immediately. First, the page resembles an article, unlike other sections of

Screenshot of the advertorial beside a table of hearing loss articles.Screenshot of the advertorial beside a table of hearing loss articles.

The advertorial’s presentation is different from’s other content resources. Click image to enlarge.

The headline implies journalism.

Why this tiny German hearing aid is taking the U.S. by storm, according to the experts.

A byline — “Julia Grabenhorst, Editor” — suggests credibility.

Yet the page is clearly marked as an advertorial and includes trust badges common to promotional content.

The copy begins with a problem statement.

Alarming fact: More than 48 million Americans hear so poorly that their quality of life significantly suffers as a result. The problem: Most wait too long to act, hoping their hearing will improve on its own. Sadly, it never does.

It then offers a solution: the Horizon hearing aid.

Alarming fact: More than 48 million Americans hear so poorly that their qualityof life significantly suffers as a result. The problem: Most wait too long to act, hoping their hearing will improve on its own. Sadly, it never does. But now, a game-changing device is revolutionizing the hearing aid industry, and experts say it's the biggest breakthrough they've seen in over a decade. It’s called Horizon by And it’s the perfect solution at the perfect time—when more and more people are eager to maintain their quality of life and overcome these limitations. It’s no wonder Horizon has taken the U.S. by storm since its release in early 2023, offering hope and unprecedented clarity to thousands across America.Alarming fact: More than 48 million Americans hear so poorly that their qualityof life significantly suffers as a result. The problem: Most wait too long to act, hoping their hearing will improve on its own. Sadly, it never does. But now, a game-changing device is revolutionizing the hearing aid industry, and experts say it's the biggest breakthrough they've seen in over a decade. It’s called Horizon by And it’s the perfect solution at the perfect time—when more and more people are eager to maintain their quality of life and overcome these limitations. It’s no wonder Horizon has taken the U.S. by storm since its release in early 2023, offering hope and unprecedented clarity to thousands across America.

The copy uses a problem and solution format near the top to attract potential hearing aid customers. Click image to enlarge.

The copy continues to make the case for the product, offering a background of the inventors and the company.

The copy continues to make the case for the product. Click image to enlarge.

We learn more about benefits.

What exactly does Horizon have to offer? More than you think! vv Amazing Speech Clarity™ Effortlessly understand even with background noise, thanks to dual-processing Bluetooth connectivity Stream music and phone calls directly to your hearing aidsWhat exactly does Horizon have to offer? More than you think! vv Amazing Speech Clarity™ Effortlessly understand even with background noise, thanks to dual-processing Bluetooth connectivity Stream music and phone calls directly to your hearing aids

There is a checklist of benefits. Click image to enlarge.

The call to action is a U.S. map suitable for an advertorial but not a product detail page or content marketing.

Map of U.S. with text: Here's how you can get started: Step 1: Click on your state in the map below. Step 2: After answering a few short questions, you will have the opportunity to secure a no-risk trial. Click on your state All major plans accepted: BlueCross United KAISER MOLINA BlueShield Healthcare PERMANENTE HEALTHCARE Cigna aetna CENTENE Humana AvMed cvsHealth Anthem HCSCMap of U.S. with text: Here's how you can get started: Step 1: Click on your state in the map below. Step 2: After answering a few short questions, you will have the opportunity to secure a no-risk trial. Click on your state All major plans accepted: BlueCross United KAISER MOLINA BlueShield Healthcare PERMANENTE HEALTHCARE Cigna aetna CENTENE Humana AvMed cvsHealth Anthem HCSC

The call to action is a U.S. map. Click image to enlarge.

Landing Pages

Advertorials such as the example from can be excellent landing pages for advertising campaigns.

The aim is to drive traffic to the page and refine the copy until it generates a consistent and predictable return.

Advertorials bridge storytelling and selling. They educate potential customers, clarify misconceptions, and test marketing messages. Done well, they are part of a successful marketing mix.

Defining The Responsibilities In The Content Lifecycle

In the previous article, we discussed the three core pillars of content marketing strategy. Much like the 4 Ps of marketing, these three pillars contain the sum of all activities that will be performed as part of a content marketing approach.

So, the first thing we need to do within the Purpose category is to define the core activities (or responsibilities) that are within these pillars.

In the simplest of terms, how will we manage the “content lifecycle” from ideation all the way through to measurement? This is going to help us understand this “wicked problem.”

When we think about how we’re going to allocate all of our time, resources, etc., we like to categorize things.

In our personal lives, those categories might be work, lifestyle, or family. In our business lives, they might be via divisions, marketing, sales, product, human resources, accounting, etc.

In order to make a plan for how we will accommodate all the activities that need to be performed as part of our content marketing strategy, we first need to identify what they are – categorize them.

Within each of the three pillars, a six-step lifecycle for content makes up the categories of responsibilities that need to be applied. But now we can see how the three pillars of content align with a very linear content lifecycle process.

As you can see in the image, each of the six responsibilities flows through the three pillars from coordination of content, through operations, and ultimately into our portfolio of experiences.

And, of course, our new content team won’t be responsible for all of them across all three pillars.

So, we start by defining them (and what we will and won’t be responsible for) as our Purpose – within the Content Coordination pillar. The six responsibility categories are:

1. Strategy: Planning And Prioritization

As with any communication, strategic content is planned and prioritized. Not all ideas for content are good, and most should be combined with others.

So a key first step in the content lifecycle is a coordinated activity of cross-functional planning, resource allotment, and prioritization for content.

2. Create: Content Assembly And Editing

One of the biggest challenges in the content lifecycle is separating the idea of content creation (the raw content) and production of the designed assets (the containers).

But this is a necessary split to ensure that great content can be re-packaged and re-used across multiple layouts and designs.

3. Produce: Design And Production

Once content has been created and production gets underway, you must have a planning process to manage that work.

This is the activity of designing and producing all of the containers for content that needs to be created.

4. Merchandise: Scheduling And Distribution

Think of this as internal distribution of the content produced.

If you have planned well, you are creating lots of assets from big ideas, and your publishing schedule looks forward, not behind.

In other words, because you’ve been planning, you’re likely completing assets that may not be published for weeks or even months. This responsibility is the internal distribution planning and lifecycle.

5. Activate: Publishing And Promotion

Whether you’re a team of one or 100, you should develop activation plans as part of your content plan.

After content is published, this is a question of not only a “marketing plan” but of all the content and assets that may need to be created as part of a marketing plan for other content assets.

6. Measure: Analytics And Insight

Who is wrangling and working the decision-making process for how you will determine measurement?

It’s about creating a planning and ongoing management process.

  • Who is responsible for tracking the metrics?
  • Who is accountable for getting the numbers?
  • Who will be consulted?
  • Who needs to be informed about them?

So – with these responsibilities in mind, the question then becomes how you delegate (or assume) each of these six responsibilities across each of the three different pillars.

Is one team handling all of the responsibilities across all three pillars, or are multiple teams handling some of the responsibilities and outsourced agencies handling others?

Or are all teams handling all of the responsibilities as separate silos?

It’s a decision to make. There is no right one.

And don’t worry – you are building to change, so as things evolve, you may decide to change from one to another.

The critical thing is to make a conscious decision about each.

Remember, these are activities that you will constantly manage, not projects that cannot be undone.

This article is an extract from the book “Content Marketing Strategy” by Robert Rose ©2023 and is reproduced and adapted with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.

This article is the first in a series of three on Search Engine Journal that delve deeper into the concepts discussed in the book. We’re also excited to announce that the book will be officially launched on September 26, 2023.

As a token of appreciation for your readership, Kogan Page Ltd. has generously shared a 20% discount code exclusively for Search Engine Journal readers. If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please use the promo code CMS20 at to redeem it.

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Featured Image: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock

Best Content Types for ChatGPT

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT cannot create expertise- or experience-driven content, such as this post.

But it can help with other content types. Here are nine of them.

Best Content for ChatGPT

Syndicated content

ChatGPT can repurpose content for platforms such as Medium or Substack. Paste an original article into ChatGPT and prompt it to use the data and key points to create a new version. It will still reflect the author’s expertise and opinions, only restated.

Medium home pageMedium home page

ChatGPT can repurpose original articles for syndication, such as on Medium.

Press releases

Press releases typically restate the benefits of a service, product, or event. I used to outsource press-release composition, but the process was time-consuming, requiring much back-and-forth dialog. Now I paste the details into ChatGPT. It usually produces a well-written release instantly.

About pages

About and biographical pages provide critical info about a company and its staff. Provide info such as dates, mission, experience, education, and awards, and ChatGPT can generate helpful descriptions of the company and team members. Be careful, though. ChatGPT can exaggerate or misstate facts. A human review is essential.


Writing a glossary is mundane and time-consuming. ChatGPT can produce it quickly from a list of terms. It can even suggest missing terms if asked.

Video and audio scripts

I often tweak my articles into scripts for podcasts, videos, or both. That task used to take an hour or more. Now I paste the text into ChatGPT and prompt it to produce a script. The tool doesn’t need an entire article for that purpose, but I prefer starting with my own content to reflect my manner of communicating.


Paste data from customers or colleagues into ChatGPT and ask it to generate a whitepaper. Use follow-up prompts to receive takeaways for the landing page promoting the paper.


Writing text for newsletters is time-consuming, even if you know what to include. Now I paste article titles and body copy into ChatGPT and ask it to massage and format it into a newsletter.


Article comments, Q&A dialog, social media threads, and customer service discussions are often terrific components for lists and digests.

Paste the content into ChatGPT and prompt it to summarize, organize, and provide takeaways or critical points. Similarly, paste interview transcripts into ChatGPT and request a summary, including a maximum word count if necessary.

Social media posts and captions

Writing original social-media posts to promote an article takes time. Now I paste that article into ChatGPT and prompt it to create posts for Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. The tool is smart enough to include hashtags and emojis where it makes sense.

The Three Pillars Of Content Marketing Strategy

This article is an extract from the book “Content Marketing Strategy” by Robert Rose ©2023 and is reproduced and adapted with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.

This article is the first in a series of three on Search Engine Journal that delve deeper into the concepts discussed in the book. We’re also excited to announce that the book will be officially launched on September 26, 2023.

As a token of appreciation for your readership, Kogan Page Ltd. has generously shared a 20% discount code exclusively for Search Engine Journal readers. If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please use the promo code CMS20 at to redeem it.

Just as we have the 4 Ps to describe the overall marketing mix, we require a new model to describe the strategy of content marketing.

The content marketing strategy begins with three core pillars: Communication, Experiences, and Operations (which bridges the other two).

These pillars overlap slightly and thus frame five specific categories of activities that managers in the business will perform.

Following are descriptions of the pillars and their associated activities.

1. Coordinated Communication

As we established at the beginning of this book, business content is communication.

So, the business must perform certain activities to better coordinate the use of content in order to acquire, keep, and grow customers and other audiences.

A successful business communicates clearly and with a consistent voice. It is also able to communicate in creative and uniquely relevant ways that reflect the diversity of its people and audiences.

To achieve that delicate balance of consistency and diversity, coordination is critical. This means that the first core category of activities in the communication pillar is Purpose. This is content-as-a-capability.

Many businesses fall into a trap because they believe that content marketing can simply be created as a “skill position” within the business.

They hire a few journalists, editors, creative copywriters, and subject matter experts, and set them off to be “good” at creating and managing valuable content.

But, as I said in the previous chapter, businesses that are managing successful content marketing strategies realize that the primary purpose of a capable content team is not to be good at creating content.

It is, rather, to enable the business to be good at the operation of content. Those journalists, creative copywriters, or subject matter experts are usually thrown into a business with only the task to “create great stuff.”

There is usually no shortage of that demand, but they quickly become swamped and don’t have the skill, power, or infrastructure to say “no” when things get to be too much.

Quality starts to suffer, and then doubts start creeping in as to whether or not these are the right people, or whether successful content marketing is even possible.

The Purpose activity, then, is to develop and manage a clear set of core responsibilities and processes that build and continually assess the allocation of resources, skill sets, and clear charters that a content marketing team will need in order to become a differentiated business capability.

One of those skills may be the actual creation of content – but there are assuredly others as well (and we’ll explore them later in this book).

That leads to the second activity category in the Communication Pillar: The Model, or content-as-coordinated-communications. The Model activity also overlaps into the Operations Pillar, which we’ll describe shortly.

Every business that succeeds with content marketing strategy will have a well-defined and well-understood governance/operating model.

For example, the business we just discussed, with all those journalists, may end up with an entire department devoted to content marketing as a “centralized” team.

The Cleveland Clinic is a great example of this. The world-renowned hospital has created a centralized content marketing department that is a functioning business unit.

They started with a handful of content creators and evolved into a diverse and multi-functional, but centralized, team with clear and standard operating processes.

Other businesses may deploy a “federated model” in which the content team is responsible for creating only a small percentage of content. In fact, their entire functional model may be devoted to enabling the other departments in the business to create, manage, activate, and measure quality content across multiple channels.

Their role – much like a federal government – is really to provide a centralized place where “laws” (e.g., standards, playbooks, workflows, etc.) are created and kept so that everyone is working in the same way. A great example of this is Anthem Blue Cross Insurance (now Elevance Health).

This company employs 98,000 people and consists of multiple businesses, including pharmaceutical insurance, dental insurance, long-term care, and disability.

You’ll read more about their journey in the next chapter, but one of the keys for the content team leader there was to create a formal charter for her team.

They created an organizational process where the different product groups have coordinated representation, allowing each to interface with the content team.

The brand content team is responsible for curating, creating, packaging, and making available Elevance-level brand stories.

2. A Portfolio Of Experiences

You’ve just learned that a coordinated communication/content approach is managing the quantity, and quality, of what the entire business wants to say.

That leads us to the second pillar of a content marketing strategy – Experiences – all the way at the other end of the spectrum. Experiences are the designed containers of content being created for audiences.

No matter how big a business is, it needs a strategic approach to how the content it creates will be utilized to power designed platforms such as emails, websites, resource centers, print magazines, PDF files, events, blogs, or even social media channels.

This is a critical aspect of operating like a media company that has owned media properties.

For example, when a media company thinks of its next production, it may start as a movie – but then, almost immediately, operational and management processes kick in to explore how that same content will be leveraged in books, television, podcasts, interactive entertainment, etc.

The story comes first, and then the thinking for all the different kinds of containers that might express that story in different ways.

Remember, for media companies, the experience that they monetize is the product. And they have two primary ways of monetizing it.

They monetize access to the experience with models like subscriptions or selling a limited number of tickets.

Or media companies will monetize the experience by selling access to the audience consuming it by allowing sponsors to create content that will be contained in it. This is the model of advertising or sponsored content.

Our owned media experiences for business should be no different. All of a brand’s owned media channels – the website, blog, resource center, ecommerce catalog, print magazine, etc. – should be treated with the same care and consideration as the existing product/service lines.

Just like a media company, we should think “content first” and then how we will create all the different kinds of containers to deliver that content.

We manage all of these as a portfolio of experiences that exploit valuable content for audiences. Each container should have strategic purpose, goals, and objectives.

Arguing, for example, that our website or our blog is less important than any of our products and services is essentially arguing that they shouldn’t exist at all.

So, as with any product or service, someone needs to be responsible for ensuring that these experiences are updated and that they have charters, goals, and specific strategies that are optimized to meet the needs of the consumers (audiences) they serve.

They should be designed and evolved to meet new market demands, promoted in a standard way, and measured against shared business goals. Further, like any of our products and services, they should be easily discontinued when they no longer suit our business objectives.

This pillar is founded on the idea that there is a team focused on the process of producing and managing the platforms of a company’s owned media strategy in a way that is optimal for the company’s business goals.

The two activity categories within this pillar are Audience and Value.

Audience is where the business must define each experience as a product. In other words, Audience is content-as-product. This harkens back to the earliest days of the 4 Ps.

Just like we would create a plan for every product or service we would bring to market, we now need to create product plans for our owned media experiences.

This means crafting a solution that fits a market need, initiating market research into the audience and understanding them well, and having specific, measurable goals for each content-driven experience being launched.

This book dives deep into the Audience activity.

Treating experiences this way helps us deliver their ultimate goal, which is Value. Value is content-as-insight. Meeting all of the designed objectives of a portfolio of experiences delivers the value of the content marketing strategy.

This activity is where we integrate insight and map out exactly where, when, and how the content marketing strategy will provide it. Designing a measurement and value approach is a core piece of this book.

And that gets us to the third content marketing strategy pillar, the glue that holds Coordinated Communications and Experiences together.

3. Strategic Operations

Consider for a moment the practice of accounting.

It is one of the oldest business practices in the world, dating back to the 1400s when mathematician Luca Pacioli created the double-entry accounting system and introduced the idea of ledgers, journals, and bookkeeping.

The reasons for standards and predictable guidelines in accounting are easy to understand.

Finance touches every part of a business. Everyone in business does some form of accounting, from the way timesheets are completed to procurement requisitions, vendor relationships, product sales, and even the use of raw materials for products and services.

Now think about content and marketing. Today, it is just as pervasive as accounting – or even more so in some cases. Creating content for business communication touches every single part of the business. It’s the water in which we swim.

Yet, most businesses handle the creation, management, distribution, and measurement of content in an ad hoc manner.

Remember, it’s not just marketing that is changing, it is the entire business strategy. Thus, the CEO’s or business owner’s relationship with marketing and content changes as well.

In a 2022 article for McKinsey Consulting, one former retail CEO said,

“Data has changed how the C-suite is interacting with marketing. Now it’s very hard to separate company strategy from marketing strategy.”

If that is true, then it’s also true that it’s hard to separate company strategy from our content strategy.

Today, marketing departments are looked at as factories – places where something successful should be replicable a million times.

In order to achieve consistency in replicating success and become a core business strategy, content marketing must have a clearly articulated and replicable process that can flex and accommodate new ideas as they emerge.

The activity in this pillar is the Frame, or content-as-standard.

If activation of engaging content is now the heart of marketing, content operations are what make the heart beat.

Getting content marketing operations right frees creative people to do creative things that enable the business strategy, and empowers the marketing teams to achieve this at scale.

As we’ve established, everyone in the business creates content: the web team, the marketing automation/demand-gen team, the content marketing team, agencies, executives, frontline account representatives, salespeople, human resources, and even accounting, with invoices, contracts, and onboarding documentation.

In fact, it’s probably easier to count all the people who don’t create digital customer communications these days. We’ve established that setting up communications coordination is a primary pillar of a standardized approach to content.

Additionally, today businesses operate in a multichannel world with, typically, dozens of channels (experiences) that have to be populated with content in multiple formats.

For example, consider a company that launches two to four new products each quarter. For each new product launch, there are 10 assets planned, including brochures, product tech briefs, a thought leadership paper, etc.

That may not sound like very much, but each of the 10 assets needs to be customized for the 5 major service partners that will support the marketing, and each of those service partners has promotional assets that need to be customized for different content types or channel specifications (social media, video, etc.).

Finally, all of those assets need to be translated into four languages. The net result is that 10 planned pieces of content turn into approximately 300 digital assets that need to be designed and produced.

Multiply that by 2 new products per quarter, and you end up with approximately 2,400 digital assets created every year just for new product launches.

So, it doesn’t matter how big the business is – a repeatable set of processes must be put in place that are governed by standards, guidelines, playbooks, and technology.

We call this the Frame activities because, very much like the frame of your house, it’s what holds everything up. It is content-as-a-standard.

This third pillar, Operations, is the people, processes, and technology that help create a repeatable, consistent process to connect the coordinated content creators (pillar 1) with the experiences powered by the content they are creating (pillar 2).

With the right content operational model in place, you can scale and measure enterprise content.

Together these three pillars and the five building-block activities form a competency framework for the entirety of your content marketing strategy. They are pressure points that help to determine how strong or weak your strategy is.

For example, when I work with a company that is struggling with the purpose of their corporate blog, I might first press on the Audience button. I can see how strong we are at a company-wide understanding of how well we perform that activity.

I can examine what makes that category of activity different or optimal.

That, then, helps me as a strategist understand where I may need to change the activity or strengthen any of the other pillars of coordinating communication, operational processes, or managing the experiences.

This framework puts a conceptual structure to meaningful questions that must be answered:

  • What competencies and skill sets are needed for different roles of people, processes, and technologies in the business in each of the pillars?
  • What working models will be required, valued, recognized, and rewarded with regard to a functioning content strategy?
  • How will we define the internal processes of operating like a media company so that this can be scaled and measured as an effective business function?
  • How will the framework provide for measurable objectives, the results of which will provide insight into the value being created both for the audiences and the business?
  • How do we guide the differentiating operational focus for content marketing that can provide the evolving competitive advantage that the business wants?

You may wonder whether there is an overarching template, a cheat sheet, or standardized answers to these questions. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for those of you who are looking for a quick answer, there is not.

Welcome to the art and science of content marketing strategy. It reminds me of the challenge that James Culliton faced in 1948 while introducing the marketing mix, and Jerome McCarthy had in 1960 introducing the 4 Ps.

While the framework may be useful, there is no single answer for any one company about a template marketing mix or use of the 4 Ps. The ingredients for your perfect mix of content marketing strategy will be yours, and very different, indeed.

There is no template. There is no perfect recipe.

One of the most important things we’ve learned after working on content marketing strategy for hundreds of brands over the last decade is that what you put into those categories of activities is much less important than consciously making the decision to put something in there.

Just as there is no perfect marketing mix, there is no perfect content marketing strategy. You will evolve. It will change. Because you and your business will change.

As statistician George Box once said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

Successful content marketing, either consciously or unconsciously, uses elements of this model to bolster its operation. As I said at the beginning: successful, happy content marketers seem to have a similar way of working.

This is a model that we’ve seen work – it’s been tested.

In fact, you may have realized at some point during this chapter that the rest of this book is organized by covering each of the categories of activities in our content marketing strategy model.

If you can formulate, structure, and pressure-test your activities in each box, then you are well on your way to creating a great content marketing strategy.

Let’s get to it.

More resources: 

Featured Image: – Yuri A/Shutterstock

A Subtle Change to Win Backlinks

Natural links from external sites are search engine optimization gold. They represent a voluntary endorsement of content and can improve organic search rankings and traffic. But circa 2023, many content marketers and SEO pros do not solicit natural links, per se.

As a reminder, a natural link — also called a backlink, organic link, or earned link — occurs without direct solicitation or payment from the site owner. It’s the epitome of appreciation — a staff member at an external website finds the content valuable and shares it with others.

Hard to Get

Natural backlinks are also notoriously hard to get, especially now.

There was a time when business owners, bloggers, and even news sites gave away natural links like passing out candy to trick-or-treaters at Halloween.

No more. Sites now understand the value of links and issue them rarely, if at all.

Moreover, content marketers often spend heavily on writers and researchers to produce outstanding articles, videos, and other content for potential customers. There’s little reason for those marketers to issue links. Their content frequently attracts links.

Think about a well-known brand such as REI, the outdoor gear retailer. The company produces excellent (and expensive) content to help shoppers discover outdoor adventures or gear. Consumers seek out that content, given its value and REI’s brand. Smaller publishers, blogs, and retailers link to it, creating much domain authority and thus top organic rankings.

However, a small or midsized ecommerce business with a limited budget often struggles with content and thus has little domain authority. The result is low rankings and little search traffic.

Screenshot of the headline with a photo of people hikingScreenshot of the headline with a photo of people hiking

REI produces excellent content, such as the guide “How to Choose a Backpack.”

A Subtle Change of Plan

Search engines notice when a website garners links consistently, often elevating that site’s domain authority.

This heightened authority is a nod to the site’s credibility and relevance, signaling to search engines that its content is top-notch. As a result, the site enjoys higher positions on search engine results pages, leading to increased visibility and traffic.

So, how do you garner natural links for your company’s site? Consider creating content aimed at bloggers, journalists, and editors — folks with the potential to provide a natural backlink.

Imagine a content marketer at a new direct-to-consumer backpack company. This marketer may have customer profiles or personas for new backpackers, intermediate backpackers, and now a third group — bloggers, journalists, editors — of potential linkers.

The content marketer could devote, say, one in 10 articles or videos to this link-building audience.

What to Create

With this strategy, the 10% of content devoted to encouraging natural links can complement a business’s other content and SEO efforts.

Tools. Internet marketing guru Neil Patel noted in a 2022 video that his Ubersuggest SEO tool has tens of thousands of natural backlinks because folks love to share helpful tools and apps, especially when those tools or apps are free.

Retailers can build helpful tools that attract the audience of natural linkers. For example, the direct-to-consumer backpacking brand could develop a trip-planning app, a while-label weather tool, or even a Google map with custom markers pointing out current trail conditions.

Data. Shoppers and potential linkers all love data. Folks will link to unique information or a unique perspective.

Our fictitious backpack brand could survey its customers’ backpacking habits, offering a sweepstakes to encourage participation. The brand could then publish the responses as a whitepaper showing how often folks backpack, the times of the year, where they go, or how much they spend.

This is the sort of info an online outdoor magazine might want to reference. Customers would likely be interested, too.

Tutorials. A third category is in-depth tutorials or guides. Content that goes deep into a topic is valuable to consumers and often worth citing and linking to.

An example is a video and article showing backpackers how to rappel with only a rope in an emergency scenario.

SEO Efforts

This subtle change in your business’s content is incremental. Focus on your potential customers first. Then think about content to attract linkers.

How To Reduce Ghost Completes And Improve Survey Responses via @sejournal, @rio_seo

Surveys are a must-have tool in every content marketer’s arsenal.

This long-standing, popular form of data collection enables marketers to glean valuable insights that can be used in a variety of content formats.

While you’d expect your respondents to answer every question to the best of their ability, fraudulent responses are becoming more prevalent.

One of these types of fraudulent responses gaining traction is a phenomenon known as “ghost completes.”

In this post, we’ll explore how ghost completes undermine the surveying process, factors that contribute to ghost completes, as well as strategies to reduce ghost completes to improve content quality.

First, let’s define what a ghost complete is.

What Is A Ghost Complete?

A ghost complete occurs when a survey respondent qualifies for an incentive, and it appears they’ve completed the survey, but no data is collected.

By gaming the system, ghost completes occur when a respondent uses unencrypted redirect links.

As a result, ghost completes negatively impact data quality, undermine the survey’s validity, and lead to gaps in the dataset.

This form of fraudulent activity obfuscates the survey’s integrity, making it difficult for marketers to translate responses into measurable and meaningful insights.

In the absence of high-quality data, the survey can become obsolete and an unnecessary expense for marketers.

Aside from its impact on marketers, ghost completes can disrupt an entire ecosystem. Clients who expect to see valid responses are instead met with invalid completes.

Content marketers cannot convey the true message behind the research and source tangible takeaways. This results in detrimental campaign outcomes such as the time spent planning, outlining, drafting, publishing, and promoting a research study.

How Survey Fraud Impacts Content Marketers

Content marketers rely on accurate, thoughtful survey responses to gather valuable insights about their target audience.

They translate this information into relevant and engaging content in the form of infographics, blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, social posts, and more.

This content can lead to more traffic, leads, conversions, demos, and sales.

However, if the survey responses are incomplete or fraudulent, the results will be skewed, and the content marketer won’t be able to draft a piece based on accurate data.

This can lead to a number of issues, such as:

  • Creating unhelpful and irrelevant content.
  • Missing out on opportunities to effectively reach and engage potential customers.
  • Wasting time and resources on incomplete data.
  • Potential loss of trust and credibility with your target audience.

How Quality Issues Impact Survey Performance

The rise in fraudulent activity is prevalent among many industries, including the market research industry. That being said, the market research industry is still in its early stages of technology adoption and awareness of security.

As technology advances and becomes more sophisticated in the market research industry, so, too, does the likelihood of fraud.

Fraud, however, isn’t the only issue impacting survey outcomes. Other data quality issues haunt market researchers as well, such as:

Survey Length

Long, complex surveys lead to lower completion rates.

A study found surveys that included 1 to 3 questions had an average completion rate of 83.34%.

In contrast, surveys with 15 questions and more have a completion rate of 41.94%.

Lack Of Incentive

Consumers may feel less inclined to complete online surveys if there isn’t an incentive to do so.

Offering an incentive, such as a gift card for completion, can help prompt consumers to complete a survey.

Research results show an incentive will typically lift response rates by 10-15% (depending on the quality and attractiveness of the incentive to your target audience).

Poor Survey Design

If your survey isn’t easy to follow, has too many open-ended questions, jumps around to different topics, or doesn’t flow seamlessly, individuals may not complete it.

Provide clear instructions, a logical flow, and visually engaging elements to engage survey respondents.

Lack Of Personalization

If a respondent doesn’t feel connected to the content and context of the survey, they are less likely to provide meaningful responses.

Personalization is critical in any marketing effort, including consumer surveys.

Personalize your survey invitations to encourage participation and capture your respondents’ attention.

Survey Delivery

As with other marketing initiatives, sometimes your first attempt to grab a potential customer’s attention doesn’t quite work. The same logic applies when soliciting survey feedback.

Send your survey out multiple times to encourage maximum participation. Send a follow-up invitation to remind participants to complete the survey before the end date.

Fraud Vs. Quality Issues

The market research industry’s growing source of incomplete and inaccurate data stems from more than just the previously mentioned quality issues. Consider the following ways fraud differs from data quality.

Types Of Fraud

  • Ghost completes.
  • Repetitive responses.
  • Systematic behavior.
  • Similar IP address.
  • Inputting the same response for open-ended questions.
  • Using gibberish or a different language in open-ended questions.

Data Quality Issues

  • Key smashing, or typing a random sequence of letters or numbers.
  • Contradictory responses.
  • Inappropriate responses (such as profanity).
  • Unthoughtful or poor responses to open-ended questions.

Despite your best efforts, data quality issues, fraud, and problematic responses are unfortunately bound to arise.

However, market research organizations can mitigate the potential of fraud, and ghost completes in particular. We’ll cover more strategies to reduce ghost completes next.

Strategies To Reduce Ghost Completes

Ghost completes have become an industry-wide problem, haunting market research companies and businesses working with market researchers to conduct consumer surveys.

This then impacts data analysts and content marketers by turning over skewed results, which may lead to your survey having less of an impact.

How can your business stop this costly phenomenon from happening, or how can you mitigate this issue for your clients as a market research company?

Here are some recommendations to avoid fraudulent responses and ghost completes.

  • Share secure links: Ensure your links are secure to avoid fraudulent entry.
  • Encrypt links: Link encryption provides confidentiality and integrity to the transmitted data. It also makes it nearly impossible to identify the parameters being passed, leading to links that are less easily manipulated.
  • Work with a partner to ensure security: A technology partner can help facilitate the connections between buyers and suppliers. This enables both security and the ability to validate response data in real time.
  • Confirmation of legitimate survey responses: Server-to-server callbacks enable the server hosting the survey to send a callback to a designated server or system responsible for recording and validating survey responses. This callback serves as a confirmation that a legitimate survey completion has occurred.

Additionally, a few best practices to consider include:

  • If you see something amiss, say something to your survey platform partner. They will be able to determine the reason behind the bad data and create an action plan to resolve it.
  • Include data quality questions. This minimizes the opportunity for survey “bots” and rogue respondents to negatively impact data.
  • Report bad data in real time. Try and report bad data in as close to real-time as possible.

Putting It All Together

In an era where quality content reigns supreme (and is more likely to make its way to the top of the search engine results pages), online studies and other research content types win when ghost completes aren’t haunting the results.

By implementing the strategies outlined in this blog post, content marketers and researchers can minimize ghost completes, enhance response quality, and ultimately obtain highly impactful data for informed decision-making.

Content will become more valuable, useful, and impactful, leading to more shares, higher search engine visibility, and better campaign outcomes.

Read more:

Featured Image: Ahmet Misirligul/Shutterstock

5 Content Marketing Ideas for October 2023

October 2023 offers content marketers many topic ideas, including Disney’s 100th anniversary, breast cancer awareness, the baseball playoffs, Halloween, and “War of the Worlds.”

Content marketing is creating, publishing, and promoting content such as articles or videos to attract, engage, and retain customers.

While marketing is a must for ecommerce companies, the steady pace of content production can feel like a hamster on a wheel.

What follows are five content marketing ideas your company can use in October 2023.

1. Disney’s 100th Anniversary

When it comes to cultural impact and sheer entertainment prowess, few companies hold a candle to Disney.

October 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the company that Walter Elias Disney and his brother Roy founded. From a humble studio in Los Angeles producing a series of short films featuring a lucky rabbit named Oswald, Disney has grown into a global behemoth, shaping the childhoods and imaginations of countless individuals worldwide.

An AI-generated image of Mickey Mouse.An AI-generated image of Mickey Mouse.

Disney and its iconic Mikey Mouse have strongly influenced U.S. culture.

Throughout its century-long journey, Disney has introduced us to many iconic characters — from the ever-optimistic Mickey Mouse to the adventurous Moana. It’s more than just animation. Disney’s repertoire spans theme parks, music, television, and even streaming with Disney+. And let’s not forget that Disney now owns Marvel Studios and the Star Wars film franchise.

Even businesses that do not sell Disney-licensed products can create content that recognizes the cultural impact. Here are some content angles to consider:

Values and lessons. Explore the life lessons and moral values of Disney characters and movies.

Music and influence. Music and instrument retailers could celebrate the power of Disney’s musical legacy. A music store might discuss how Disney has impacted the music world or provide tutorials on playing popular Disney songs.

Innovation and vision. Disney has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in entertainment. Shops selling consumer electronics or software could connect the dots between Disney’s innovation and consumer goods.

Magic and everyday life. Delve into the essence of Disney magic and how it can apply to daily situations or challenges. For instance, a home decor brand might offer tips on bringing a touch of Disney enchantment into households without resorting to character merchandise.

Recent controversy. Creating content around Disney’s current cultural controversies can make sense for some brands. The company has taken a strong stand in favor of LGBTQIA causes. For some, this is a matter of celebration.

By intertwining the enduring legacy of Disney with universal themes, content marketers can craft compelling narratives that resonate with audiences, all while celebrating the House of Mouse’s landmark anniversary.

2. Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States and is a significant concern worldwide.

Photo of a middle-aged femalePhoto of a middle-aged female

Breast cancer is a topic that impacts everyone, making it worthwhile for content marketing.

Initiated in 1985 through a collaboration between Imperial Chemical Industries (then a cancer drug manufacturer) and the American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has played a pivotal role in enlightening countless Americans about the disease. This awareness drive has substantially boosted donations and bolstered support for research into breast cancer.

Content marketing articles, videos, or podcasts could celebrate breast cancer survivors, describe how a specific industry has contributed to breast cancer research, or focus on gift ideas for breast cancer survivors.

Here are some ideas.

  • Apparel retailer: “A Wear Pink Wardrobe Guide.”
  • Men’s brand: “Understand Your Partner’s Risks. A Breast Cancer Awareness Guide.”
  • An outfitter: “10 Ways to Celebrate Life Outdoors for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

3. Baseball Playoffs

In the United States and Canada, 30 Major League Baseball teams will begin the drive toward the annual championship when the playoffs commence on October 3, 2023.

Photo of a baseball team from the first World SeriesPhoto of a baseball team from the first World Series

The 2023 baseball playoffs will start just as we remember the 120th anniversary of the first modern World Series.

Baseball is a significant part of the national psyche. October’s crisp weather and the importance of the playoff stir even marginal fans to watch, listen, and — importantly for content marketers — search for baseball-related content.

In 2023, there may be even more interest in the playoffs since October is also the 120th anniversary of the modern World Series.

Played in 1903 between the American League champion Boston Americans and the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates, this first series laid the foundation for the present playoff system.

The best-of-nine-game series ultimately went to the Boston Americans — five games to three — but the opener on October 1, 1903, went to the Pirates 7-3.

For content marketing purposes, online sellers might address:

  • The history of baseball or the World Series,
  • How to throw a watch party,
  • How to decorate.

Any article or video should include references to relevant products for sale.

4. Halloween

As October’s chill grows, retailers are in full swing, capitalizing on the spirit of Halloween.

Ideally, planning and execution for Halloween-centric content commenced during August or September. But, for those catching up, there’s still time for some 11th-hour Halloween content.

AI-generated photo of a young girl with a brightly-colored custome.AI-generated photo of a young girl with a brightly-colored custome.

Halloween has become vital for many online retailers.

The stakes are high, and for a good reason. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. Halloween retail sales hit $10.6 billion in 2022, a 5% increase from 2021. Many observers anticipate 2023 sales to reach $10.8 billion, underscoring not only the commercial importance of the holiday but also the amazing appetite consumers have for Halloween-themed content, products, and experiences.

For retailers racing against the clock, here are some last-minute content ideas:

Home decor on a dime. Describe inexpensive crafts and decorating tips that transform everyday household items into Halloween masterpieces. Showcase how a simple white sheet or a few craft supplies can convert a living space into a haunted haven.

Costumes in a crunch. Feature innovative last-minute costume ideas using common wardrobe staples — and a few products from your inventory.

Quick and quirky recipes. Delight foodies with quick-fix Halloween recipes. Whether whipping up a guacamole dip or crafting mummy-inspired hot dogs, highlight how creativity can lead to festive treats in no time. Be sure to pitch your store’s products in context.

5. War of the Worlds

October 30, 2023, marks the 85th anniversary of Orson Welles’s legendary “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast. Back in 1938, countless U.S. households were plunged into panic, believing that Martians had indeed begun their invasion of Earth.

AI-generated image of a space object landing on EarthAI-generated image of a space object landing on Earth

Orson Welles’s infamous radio broadcast occurred 85 years ago.

Presented as news bulletins, the broadcast detailed a sudden and terrifying Martian invasion of Earth. Many listeners, tuning in after the show’s introduction and thus missing the disclaimer that it was fiction, believed the events were real, prompting a widespread panic.

The dramatic presentation, combined with the realistic nature of the “news” interruptions, made the “War of the Worlds” broadcast one of the most infamous events in radio history, showcasing the immense power of the medium.

Addressing this masterstroke of drama could help sellers of radio equipment, outer-space paraphernalia, and related.

Why Do Local Businesses Have To Worry About Content Marketing And How Should They Do It? via @sejournal, @JRiddall

Content marketing, particularly of the digital variety, has become an increasingly popular item in modern marketers’ toolboxes.

While many larger organizations have been quick to embrace content marketing strategies, smaller local businesses often underestimate its potential or remain unsure about its relevance to their operations.

This is particularly true considering the level of effort and time it has traditionally taken to produce content in its many forms; from blogs and social posts to podcasts and videos.

Small business owners and managers may be unsure of content’s value and the return it will provide.

They may be asking questions like, “Who has the time or wants to read, watch, or listen to my content?”

However, as consumer behavior and search engine algorithms continue to evolve, content marketing, when done correctly and purposefully, can be an indispensable aspect of a local business’s overall success.

Unique, relevant, entertaining content can set a local business apart from its other small local or big box competitors.

Let’s delve into the reasons why a content marketing strategy is crucial for local businesses and consider a few practical tips on how to implement effective content marketing strategies to boost brand awareness, establish online authority, engage customers, and drive business growth.

Why Do Local Businesses Need Content Marketing?

Regardless of the size of a business, there are a set of common business drivers content marketing can positively influence for those willing and able to employ it.

Establishing Local Authority

Content marketing offers local businesses the opportunity to position themselves as authorities in their respective industries and communities.

By creating valuable and informative content, businesses can showcase their expertise, address common pain points, and provide solutions to their customers’ most pressing problems.

When consumers are able to find and reference helpful content from a local business, they will be more likely to trust and choose said business over its competitors, who may not be providing the same.

Establishing authority will naturally require consistently creating high-quality content customers want to read, like, and share.

While it takes time and requires patience to establish authority, the payoff is high for businesses that become the go-to source for answers to customer questions.

Enhancing Online Visibility

Organic search visibility is understandably key to any business’s long-term success. Small business owners recognize the importance of showing up in search results when their customers are searching for their services.

Content marketing plays a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO), as Google and other search engines reward the E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness) it can create.

By producing high-quality, keyword-rich content that resonates with their target audience, local businesses can improve their search engine rankings and appearance in Google Maps results.

It can be argued creating and posting content to a Google Business Profile (GBP) is as, if not more important than any other type of content marketing a local business can do.

Google rewards those businesses that are active and engaged with their audience via their GBP.

Driving Organic Traffic And Conversion

Organic search is a valuable traffic source for any local business as it tends to convert at a higher rate than traffic from other channels.

As noted above, through content marketing efforts, businesses can create content targeting relevant keywords and addressing customer needs, thereby building their authority, enhancing their visibility, and driving organic traffic to their website and Google Business Profile.

While it takes time and requires patience to establish authority

Building Customer Relationships

Effective content marketing enables local businesses to engage and build lasting relationships with their customers.

Social media posts, blog articles, email newsletters, and videos can all be used to foster a sense of community and encourage two-way communication.

Responding to customer comments, questions, and reviews demonstrates a business cares about its customers, thus fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat business.

Customer testimonials and case studies have the multiple effects of highlighting partner successes, building authority, and establishing trust.

It never hurts to make your happy customers feel special by putting them in the spotlight.

Nurturing The Sales Funnel

Content marketing enables businesses to guide potential customers through the sales funnel.

By tailoring content to different stages of the buyer’s journey, businesses can attract leads, nurture them with informative content when needed, and eventually convert them into paying customers.

Educational content, product comparisons, and customer success stories are some examples of content that can move prospects closer to making a purchase decision by supporting them with answers to questions they may have at each stage.

How Should Local Businesses Implement Content Marketing?

Having established an understanding of the “why” of content marketing for small businesses, the question is often “how” can businesses implement effective content marketing strategies on top of the daily running of the business?

Know And Build Your Audience

Understanding the target audience is the first step in any successful content marketing strategy.

Local business owners or those they employ should identify their ideal customers, their preferences, pain points, interests, and digital whereabouts.

This information will guide the creation of content to resonate with the intended audience, leading to higher engagement and conversions.

Knowing where customers tend to “live” or visit online, socially or otherwise, will also help build an audience to which content can be targeted.

Content shared into a void will not be read, liked, or shared.

Develop A Content Plan

Consistency is key in content marketing.

Local businesses should establish a well-thought-out content plan, including a content calendar, an outline of the types of content to be produced, the platforms it will be shared on, and the target publishing schedule.

Planning content in advance helps to ensure the business remains organized and consistent in its messaging.

Create “Your” Unique Content

So, if content marketing has become so important that everyone is starting to do it, how do local businesses differentiate their content from all the rest?

This is certainly one of the dangers and challenges with the content explosion we’re all experiencing. But every business has and should focus, where possible, on sharing their stories and perspectives.

Leading digital marketing expert Mark Schaefer touches on this in a recent post titled “How to beat ChatGPT and the new wave of Content Shock.”

The key to topical authority is expertise-backed advice, opinion, and experience.

We’ve alluded to the importance of case studies and customer success stories.

Each piece of content should include whatever uniqueness a business can lend to it.

It’s not enough to simply create content. It needs to be your content.

Diversify Content Formats

Different people prefer to consume content in a variety of formats.

To cater to the broader audience, local businesses should diversify their content types.

This may include blog posts, case studies, videos, podcasts, or other formats.

By doing so, businesses can keep their audience engaged and interested in what they have to offer.

Distribute Content Via GBP

We’ve already discussed the importance of GBP to local businesses from a visibility perspective. However, GBP is also an important content distribution vehicle.

Any digital content local businesses create should be shared within the context of a GBP post, including a strong call to action linking back to this content wherever it may be hosted.

Leverage Social Media

Social media platforms can be powerful tools for content distribution and customer engagement for certain types of local businesses that take the time to build a following.

At a local level, this should include identifying, following, and supporting other local businesses and organizations that can help to boost your visibility.

Partnering with local influencers or complementary businesses can help expand the business’s reach and credibility.

Additionally, collaborations can introduce the business to new demographics, driving more foot traffic and online interactions.

Social media is effectively about community building; locally, this simply becomes an extension of the physical community.

Sharing authoritative and/or entertaining content, engaging with followers/customers, sharing user-generated content, and running social media contests or promotions can boost brand awareness and foster a loyal customer base.

Monitor And Analyze Performance

The final, but crucial and ongoing step, in any effective content marketing initiative is performance monitoring to enable continuous improvement and understand return on investment (ROI).

Local businesses should track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website (and especially organic) traffic, conversion rates, social media engagement, and customer feedback.

This data can provide valuable insights into what content is resonating with the target audience and what areas need improvement.

Get Help As Needed

The challenge for many local businesses considering content marketing or digital marketing in general is the time, effort, and know-how required to plan and execute these types of strategies.

Luckily, the growth in these areas has seen a similar influx in content marketing tools (including the recent rise in generative AI options like the aforementioned ChatGPT) and experience-based digital agency support.

In short, local businesses are not alone. They should look to leverage the tools and people available to make the most of these opportunities, keeping in mind they still have to add their own unique perspective when and wherever possible.

In Conclusion

Content marketing is a vital strategy local businesses should prioritize to thrive in today’s competitive digital marketplace.

By focusing on creating valuable, relevant, and engaging content, local businesses can establish themselves as local industry authorities, increase visibility, drive organic traffic, build lasting customer relationships, and achieve sustainable business growth.

Implementing a successful content marketing strategy requires a clear understanding of the target audience, creating unique, relevant content, consistent effort, and a willingness to adapt and improve based on performance data.

By embracing content marketing and leveraging its potential, local businesses can effectively navigate the digital landscape and secure a strong foothold in their respective markets relative to their competition.

More resources:

Featured Image: paulaphoto/Shutterstock

ChatGPT Prompts for Content Ideas

ChatGPT is a helpful brainstorming tool. Ask ChatGPT for content ideas, finetune the follow-ups, and you’ll likely end up with meaningful suggestions.

Here are six of my favorite content-idea prompts.

ChatGPT Prompts for Content Ideas

Include Your Need

Add the phrase “Generate content ideas to…” Then state your need. Examples include:

  • Spur social media shares.
  • Appeal to bloggers and journalists.
  • Drive organic traffic.
  • Attract buyers at the top of the sales funnel.
  • Engage site visitors.
  • Re-engage inactive clients.
  • Educate customers.
  • Differentiate a product from competitors’ versions.

For example, I entered this prompt seeking ideas to recruit physicians:

We are building a nationwide network of doctors to provide personalized healthcare services. Generate content ideas to attract doctors who could join our network. Highlight the benefits of joining a network versus an independent practice.

Here are ChatGPT’s responses:

  • “Joining Forces: The Value of a Nationwide Doctor Network”
  • “Streamlining Your Practice: How Our Network Simplifies Administrative Tasks”
  • “Navigating Healthcare Regulations: Compliance Made Easy with Our Network”
  • “Economies of Scale: Leveraging Group Purchasing Power”
  • “Risk Management and Malpractice Protection”

Exclude a Target Keyword

I get good results when I force ChatGPT to exclude my organic-search target keyword. The responses attract consumers who may be unaware of my client’s product and are searching for something else.

Say a client offered peer-to-peer loans. I would prompt ChatGPT for content ideas for people looking for loans but not necessarily peer-to-peer, such as:

Come up with content ideas to attract consumers looking to borrow money. Exclude the phrase “peer-to-peer loan,” as many potential borrowers are unfamiliar with this loan type.

The response included:

  • “Unlocking Financial Freedom: How Individuals are Helping Each Other Reach Their Goals”
  • “Empowering Your Finances: The Rise of Community-Based Lending”
  • “Your Guide to Borrowing and Investing with P2P Platforms”
  • “The Sharing Economy Meets Finance: Exploring P2P Lending”

ChatGPT’s partial response to the prompt seeking content ideas for folks looking to borrow money. Click image to enlarge.

Request a Format

Include in your prompt the desired format, such as:

  • Listicle,
  • FAQ,
  • Long-form guide,
  • Step-by-step how-to article,
  • Research paper,
  • Survey,
  • Interview,
  • Video or video series,
  • Q&A.

You can also prompt ChatGPT for format ideas. Here’s an example:

For marketing, I write articles, publish interviews and create videos. Which other content formats should I consider?

Encourage Creativity

ChatGPT follows instructions. It will offer unconventional ideas if so prompted. Try adding the following instructions:

  • “Avoid generic ideas,”
  • “Think creatively,”
  • “Generate original ideas,”
  • “Focus on unique benefits instead of repeating others.”

Target Personas

Start the session by asking ChatGPT to create user personas for your product. Then pick one and prompt ChatGPT for content ideas for that persona. For example, I entered this prompt:

My company provides peer-to-peer loans. Generate a list of buyer personas we should target.

ChatGPT produced potential personas, including this one:

“‘Entrepreneurial Innovator.’ These individuals are entrepreneurs or small business owners looking for quick access to capital for business expansion, purchasing inventory, or funding new projects. They might find peer-to-peer loans more flexible and accessible than traditional bank loans.”

I then prompted ChatGPT:

Create 10 content ideas to attract the “Entrepreneurial Innovator” persona.

Provide Examples

Analyzing text is a strength of ChatGPT. Consider requesting ideas based on your own content or competitors’. Here’s a sample prompt:

Suggest content ideas based on this content [PASTE CONTENT HERE].

If you paste your own text, request complementary ideas.

YouTube Marketer Adjusts to AI

In 2009 Rasmus Albrechtsen began offering men’s hairstyling tutorials on YouTube. He called his channel “Slikhaar TV,” as in “slick hair.” The channel scaled to over 2 million subscribers.

Then came YouTube’s artificial intelligence-driven browse feature, showing viewers the videos that likely interest them. Suddenly, Albrechtsen’s 2 million subscribers seemed less impactful. He’s now producing videos “for the browse feature more than for the subscribers.”

Albrecthsen is based in Denmark, where I’m vacationing. He and I recently discussed Slikhaar TV, By Vilain (his line of hair products), and the impact of AI on video marketing.

The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: What do you do?

Rasmus Vilain Albrechtsen: I co-founded two businesses with my twin brother, Emil. We have Slikhaar TV, which is a YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers offering men’s hairstyling tutorials and advice. We launched it in 2009.

Then we have By Vilain, where we develop and sell hair products for men, such as waxes, pre-stylers, shampoos, and accessories.

Having a brother as a business partner is nice, although it has challenges. We are identical twins, but we have different personalities. I’m more into the creative, vision space. Emil is more into executing and operations. He’s also our CEO. We complement each other pretty well.

Bandholz: Organic YouTube views can be hard to come by.

Albrechtsen: It has been turbulent on YouTube. We can thank the browse feature for the turbulence. It’s getting smarter, using artificial intelligence to help viewers discover their unique interests.

We have 2 million subscribers, but we don’t have 2 million viewers. We have 2 million people who, once in 14 years, chose to push the subscribe button. Their lives may be different now.

So we’re trying to produce videos around trends for the browse feature more than for the subscribers.

Bandholz: Similar to the TikTok model, right? The number of subscribers doesn’t affect how a video performs.

Albrechtsen: Yes. TikTok is extreme in some ways because viewers will forget you tomorrow if you’re not feeding into the trends. If you personalize content and build yourself as someone that folks want to get more of, they will remember you and return to your channel because you moved them in some way.

To stand out, it’s basically a brainwashing process. You entertain them, but they don’t remember you. To be memorable, you keep at it.

I had an experience in my fitness center. A guy approached me and said, “Are you that dude that always pops up in my feed?” It’s super interesting when individuals notice you because you must have left an imprint in some way.

So the challenge is producing memorable content so viewers can find you. Folks may browse 100 videos an hour, 10 to 20 seconds each. If your content makes an imprint, you can use it in an ad later on.

Then, if they watched your content a couple of times in the browse feature, they could respond to a commercial with your product. They don’t know where they saw it, but they know it’s tied to good content, so they trust it more.

Bandholz: Have you done endorsement deals with celebrities?

Albrechtsen: We have a few endorsements. But if the question is, “Have we paid for endorsements?” the answer is not directly. They happen through informal networks — some football (soccer) players, a few celebrities — but it’s not on formal contracts. It’s usually folks who use our products. So it’s not a typical endorsement where you pay Cristiano Ronaldo a couple of million dollars, and he’ll mention you, and you can use his name in the marketing of the product.

A celebrity endorsement could be a good strategy, but we are not pursuing it because of the price point. We would probably pay around 80,000 U.S. dollars for a year’s contract with a high-end celebrity.

I’d rather stick with guys who consistently create expert content within a specific niche and provide value in a specific area — not just entertaining by showing luxurious lifestyles.

Bandholz: Where can readers follow you?

Albrechtsen: Check out our YouTube channel, @Slikhaar TV, or see us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Our hair care products are at