Content marketing has changed the way we consider online user acquisition, retention, and engagement. Marketers need to create and distribute simple, actionable and frequent content to engage audiences. With so much content published daily, it is, however, more complicated than ever to reach enough readers and eventually convert them into leads. Understanding how to hack content marketing is crucial for any website owner looking to increase and monetize their audience.
Online reach can definitely be tackled with paid marketing activities. However, reach isn’t the only answer to users monetization. Reaching a wider audience can certainly help you maximise the chances to convert visitors into paying users. Remember, however, that’s not a guarantee if you don’t work on your content marketing strategy.
Understanding how to hack content marketing is essential to any company using online channels as their main means of communication and user acquisition.
Today, most of us rely on the Internet to inform ourselves on topics of interest (on both personal and business level). Content marketing is what makes or breaks a company business strategy. Are you willing to gamble on it?
In 2017, almost 90% of marketers implemented content marketing to attract new and retain existing users. However, writing blog posts or white papers just for the sake of it yields little returns. In the same study, as a matter of fact, only 28% of marketers considered their company content marketing strategy to be sophisticated or mature (down from 2016)
Your content is navigating through an ocean of blogs and competing to get users’ attention. You need to create a strategy to hack content marketing that will help you acquire new users and gain more traction from your online communication channels.
Here below we take a look at 12 ways to hack content marketing and create a sustainable content marketing strategy for your business.
1. Write What Your Audience Wants To Read About
Start with basic brainstorming. Your team should sit weekly, if not daily, to think about what content is worth sharing with your audience.
- What do they want to read about?
- What do they want to learn about?
- What’s trending now your industry?
- What makes the headline today in your industry?
After brainstorming internally, move the research externally.
There are different ways online you can have a look at what content is “buzzing”. Don’t focus on what could become viral at this stage, actually don’t focus on it at all. Virality is something that follows if you write the right content.
There are different sources online to find out what’s trending. I usually have a look at the following:
- Buzzsumo – Very simple and intuitive tool. It gives you the right information on the most trending blog posts going back one year. There’s a free and paid version.
- EpicBeat – Very similar to Buzzsumo, but the search is limited to the past 3 days. A small difference is that EpicBeat provides an overall engagement average per topic.
- Google Alerts – These are simple alerts from Google delivered directly to your inbox. I use them to get daily/weekly news about specific topics or competitors. It doesn’t give you engagement metrics but will provide you with an overview of what’s been shared online.
- Twitter – Although it might not be the coolest Social Network to be on, Twitter allows you to get an idea of what’s trending online right now, as well as checking what people in your industry are talking about.
- Google Trends – Another free service from Google, that can help you find what’s trending in specific regions and categories. No engagement metrics are shared.
- Social Mention – This is a smart tool that analyses content on several websites, not only limiting the research on major SNS but also going through Digg, Youtube and anything else that has user-generated content.
- Reddit – The good old Reddit gives you an idea of trending topic per subreddits. You would need to take this information with caution though as it is limited on what’s going on Reddit rather than the whole web.
Have a constant look around and develop a routine in checking those websites that you find more relevant to your business. Don’t limit yourself to a unique source to determine what’s trending online.
2. Write Valuable Content
Content needs to have depth. As a definition, in-depth articles usually have more than 2000 words, with 2400 being the best in terms of engagement. A few years back it was thought that length would also have a positive influence on Google ranking. Although this has not been proven, long blog posts are usually filled with important and relevant information that is worth sharing.
Length should be a synonym for interesting content above all. Think like your audience. Picture your ideal readers and write in a way that you think will be interesting for them.
To write a meaningful blog post, you need to gather enough data to back up any claim you make. Giving references through external linking will give your posts credibility and it will be easier for your audience to trust what you are writing about.
Once you will start creating this type of content, your brand will gain more visibility, so that you can also think about approaching influencers in your industry to either feature them or ask them to link to your content.
3. Make Shareable Content
A consequence of writing in-depth blog posts is that your content should be also more shearable. However, content doesn’t get shared just because it has depth. You need to work on all the elements of the blog post, starting with the headline.
Clickable headlines have become a harsh truth in the ocean of content we find today online (think also about those clickbait headlines…). In most cases, you have got 8 seconds to make an impact on a potential reader. 8 seconds are not that much. The attention span of our potential readers is very very thin.
Can you afford to spend time in writing awesome content, just not to get noticed?
Crafting awesome headlines is something you need to master! Remember that 8 out of 10 people will only read your headline before making a guess on whether to read the rest of the content or not.
4. A/B Test Everything But Most Importantly The Headline
A fundamental part of online marketing is A/B testing. You need to make sure to test different iterations of the same activity. This can be related to specific call-to-action (CAT) on your page to attract new subscribers or different types of content to check which one yields to better engagement and lower bounce rate.
A/B test is at the basis of successful online activities.
Without any doubt, the most important thing you should A/B test when it comes to content marketing is the headline. The aim is to optimize click-through-rate (CTR). You want to create content that is shareable, for sure, but as said, your potential website visitors take about 8 seconds to decide whether your title is catchy enough and relevant to them. Don’t stick to one style, try different ones and then see which one brings the best results.
A certain David Ogilvy once said:
“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”
5. Use Different Formats In Your Content
Due to the abundance of content users find online, engagement has become more complicated. If your brand is still relatively unknown, competing exclusively on written content might be tougher than you think.
What about using multimedia content to engage users in a different way?
Creating a video might not be something for everyone, however, with video content you can summarise a long article and increase the time spent on your website. Use video as a summary and then let the user decides whether it’s worth going into details.
Remember that you don’t need to be a pro to make good video content, you can literally use your mobile phone, a small mic and a tripod (all for less than $50) and you are set to go.
6. Use Giveaways
Valuable content is not the only answer to users’ engagement.
Have you written an article about how to increase lead engagement online? What about creating an easy-to-implement cheat sheet that summarises the important steps to take?
Are you giving valuable information on specific steps to use in the everyday strategy to achieve certain results? What about creating a small ebook that gets deep into details about how to achieve this successful strategy you have been crafting?
You can also have a simple “resource” page where you write about products you either use on a daily basis for your blog as well as presenting “products you love“. You shouldn’t be using a straight affiliate marketing approach. Be honest and credible, remember that you are using this as a way to engage users and make sure they will eventually come back for more premium content.
Be creative and don’t follow any specific guidelines you might find online. Understand what’s valuable to your audience and create extra-free content for them. It can be an online course about “Successful Opening Lines For Your Sales Emails” or perhaps a simple email free course, sent to specific users who subscribe to this particular event. Make it somewhat exclusive, so that users are more interested in joining it.
7. Gather Already Available Online Resources In Useful Lists
At this stage, you should be aware that online users have a limited amount of time and don’t want to waste it on websites they don’t find relevant.
However, the Internet is full of content. Tools for better SEO, tools for increasing email conversion, tools for ABC, and so on… Literally tons of blog posts put together an always bigger list of some tools your audience might find useful.
What about crafting the “ultimate list of…” or “an updated list of…”? Do a quick online research and if in the first few pages on Google you find that the highest number of valuable tools for a specific activity is 50, then go the extra mile and gather 60, 70 or even 100 if you can.
Gathering information takes time but requires less investment in terms of creativity. Focus on viral content, don’t just make an ultimate list of something your audience doesn’t really care about.
8. Capitalize On Current Trends
Online trends are coming and going very quickly. If you are able to catch on a specific trend early on and write about it, you might be able to catch a good portion of online users.
To make sure you capitalize correctly on these new trends, you need to spend some time collecting the right data and don’t forget to give opinions about these. This will bring value to your audience and they will see you as a premium source for future reference.
The best way to be on top of the wave of what’s happening is to be connected to the right online resources. You are not going to be able to beat online magazines that have tons of content curators, but you might be able to give a different perspective on those topics that they might not be covering. Find those specific sources that are considered as references in your industry and follow them.
Lastly, remember that writing about it doesn’t translate into immediate virality or traction among your audience. You will need to find ways to publish this content around with guest blogging and using social media in the right way.
9. Become A Guest Blogger On As Many Websites You Can
This is probably the most important one. You are not necessarily fishing for backlinks (although this might help to get your blog more traffic). You want to be recognized as a reference in your industry by sharing valuable information.
Guest blogging is difficult nowadays for several reasons. First of all, you need time to create unique content to share on other platforms. On top of that, you need people to recognize the work you are doing, you cannot simply approach any relevant blog or website and ask to become a contributor. You need to work your way up to those websites. Start with the smaller ones and slowly build up your reputation.
The audience in your industry will start noticing you and perhaps follow back on that link in the author description. It’s a long process but needed to create the right online authority.
10. Think Beyond Your Content
Content marketing by itself is certainly a great way to increase traction among your audience but you shouldn’t be limiting yourself to that. There are other ways for you to engage the audience and convert them in possible users.
Some ideas to look at:
- Youtube – make videos and post them outside of your website
- Podcasts or audio interviews – get other people on your website to talk about specific topics, in this way you don’t can simply moderate rather than creating the content
- Online Courses – as said above, you can use online courses to enrich your content, but you can actually post it on several platforms that will give you access to a whole new audience, such as Udemy, Skillshare, Teachable, LearnWorlds, CourseCraft, among others (a quick Google research will give you a bunch of interesting results)
- Slideshow – summarise some of your best content in slides and have it on SlideShare for example, but there are much more online.
- Quora – the best way to get you noticed on topics you know about. Answers to questions in a way to push your content to new audiences.
11. Schedule Your Social Media Shares
Your audience might not be in your time zone or perhaps engage on social media at a different time that you do. For this reason, you need to make sure to share your content on social media at a different time during the same day. Yes, it’s OK to share multiple times (within a certain limit) the same content during the same day.
Think about how much content it’s shared on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, if you post every 6 hours, you are most likely reaching a different audience. And if you write in English, you might want to catch the audience in Australia as well as the one in the UK and also in San Francisco.
On your Facebook page, this is easily done as it is an option in the posting section. However, on Twitter or Instagram, this is more complicated. Buffer is a good option and has a FREE version for small business owners. There are obviously tons of other options should you not be a fan of Buffer, here’s a list for you.
12. Use Tweetable Content or Quotes
Making sure to post your content on social media at different times during the day is crucial, but what about letting your readers share your content online.
You should have share buttons on your content, that goes without saying. I personally have them both above and below the fold. In this way, users can easily share my content without having to scroll down or up. They don’t have to look for it.
However, if you want to take this a step further you can make your content tweetable with some tools. If your website is on WordPress there are quite a few plugins you can use, such as Click To Tweet, Highlighter by Sumo, among others.
To make your content tweetable, you need to make sure you write bold and great statements. Once again, you need to think like your audience and generate statements that they will want to share.
Content marketing should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. You cannot ignore it and you should not underestimate its importance and power. Your competitors are already taking advantage of it, are you?
Most importantly, as seen at the beginning of this post, most marketers out there are using content marketing but they don’t think their company is giving the right importance to it. This is something you can capitalize on very quickly by making sure you create engaging content, as well as capturing those visitors and transforming them into leads for your business.
Do you have any other suggestions on how to hack content marketing? Are you implementing any of these hacks in your content marketing strategy? How do they work? Let us know your experience in the content section below.