Content Marketing – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:39:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.5 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-convince-convert_C-orange-32x32.png Content Marketing – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting http://www.convinceandconvert.com 32 32 How Marriott Built One of the Best Brand Newsrooms on Earth http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/marriott-built-one-of-the-best-brand-newsrooms/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/marriott-built-one-of-the-best-brand-newsrooms/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149213 When Marriott decided to double-down on brand storytelling, they didn't play it safe. Learn how the hotel franchise went above and beyond to build one of the best brand newsrooms.

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How Marriott Built One of the Best Brand Newsrooms on Earth

Do you want to make a billion dollars? We’ll tell you how: Invent a drug that builds and sculpts every muscle in your body perfectly in one dose. One pill, and you’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jillian Michaels.

If only it were that easy. The unfortunate reality of exercise is that even if you use steroids, you’re going to have to make working out a habit.

Storytelling is no different. Sure, you can change people’s minds with one story. You can reword a beggar’s sign and get people to give more money. But if you want to build a long-term relationship—as a business or in everyday life—you’re going to need to think of storytelling like going to the gym.

Every story you tell becomes a part of your overarching story, just like every workout at the gym helps build your physique over time. The best companies are adept at consistently telling their story in a variety of ways over time. The most intriguing people tell lots of stories. They answer questions with stories. They relate to people with stories instead of just saying, “Me too.”

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably convinced that you should be using stories more to build relationships. But it’s not always easy to convince an entire organization to start going to the gym, so to speak. Let’s explore a few specific ideas for how you can make the case for stories inside your company.


Want to build long-term relationships? Think of storytelling like going to the gym.
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Selling Storytelling Inside Your Organization

Ten years ago, it was possible for one person to make content work for an entire organization. That’s no longer the case. Today, you need real support internally. It won’t necessarily happen all at once, but it’s the first step you have to take. And while it’s not easy, it pays off.

Let’s look at how Marriott’s content marketing program got started. Nine years ago, Kathleen Matthews, the hotel giant’s executive vice president of communications, walked into Bill Marriott’s office with an idea. She’d spent 25 years as a reporter and news anchor for an ABC News affiliate in Washington, DC, and she knew the power of a good story, especially when it came from a compelling figure.

She wanted Marriott to have a blog. And she wanted Bill Marriott to write it.

“Why the heck would anyone want to read a blog from me?” Marriott, then 76 years old, responded.

Matthews quickly convinced Marriott he was the best person to tell the company’s story, even though he didn’t even use a computer. So they struck a compromise. Marriott would dictate a blog post once a week.

And so, Marriott’s digital storytelling journey began. It started with those simple blog posts, but over the next seven years, their efforts grew exponentially. Before long, they were operating a full-fledged global media company.

In the next three years, Marriott launched a popular digital travel magazine, Marriott Traveler, that covers cities from Seattle to Seoul. It has built content studios on five different continents. And it’s even won Emmys for its short films like Two Bellman and French Kiss.

Becoming a Media Company

When you walk into the ground floor of Marriott’s headquarters, it fittingly looks like the lobby of a modern hotel. There are chic white lounges and cozy pods. A friendly receptionist welcomes you. But then you notice something unexpected. In the middle of the lobby, there are nine flashing screens encased in glass walls, like a TV control room that’s been teleported from Hollywood to Bethesda, Maryland.

In a way, it has. Inside the control room—dubbed “M Live”—typically sit various media veterans tasked with seeing just how much a hotel brand could capitalize on the new opportunities digital media gave Marriott to tell their story.

“We are a media company now,” Emmy-winner David Beebe, then Marriott’s vice president of global creative, told us.

It’s a big statement, but one that Marriott’s content production backs up. Which raises the question: How did Marriott evolve from a single woman—Kathleen Matthews— storming into the CEO’s office and advocating for content to one of the most advanced content marketing operations in the world?

Well, after a few years, Bill Marriott’s blog took off. And before long, he was convinced that content was the answer to the challenges Marriott faced in telling the story of a company that spanned almost two dozen different hotel brands.

So in 2013, Marriott made a big bet and hired Karin Timpone away from the Walt Disney Company, where she had led the launch of successful digital products like WATCH ABC, so she could connect Marriott to the “next generation of travelers.” In June 2014, Beebe, who was also working for Disney, followed Timpone.

Beebe and Timpone got to work fast. By early 2015, Marriott had created a successful TV show, The Navigator Live; a hit short film, Two Bellmen; a personalized online travel magazine; and some exciting forays into virtual reality with Oculus Rift. These projects generated immediate returns, from high viewer engagement to millions of dollars in direct revenue and even content-licensing deals. They helped the company build stronger relationships with its customers.

“We’ve said it before—we have a very intimate relationship with our customers,” Beebe said. “They sleep with us, after all. It’s sort of a joke, but it’s true.”

After these initial wins, the company doubled down on storytelling even more and beefed up its in-house staff, bringing in folks from CBS, Variety, and other media powerhouses.

They also joined forces with a wide range of outside creators—(including Contently!)—from famed producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses to YouTube celebrity Taryn Southern, who stars in a web series called Do Not Disturb in which she interviews celebrities in their hotel rooms.

Beebe rejected the temptation to insert any overt Marriott branding. When he got the first cut back from Marriott’s wonderful short film, Two Bellmen, for instance, his first note was to take out most of the brand plugs.

“We don’t want to see any ‘Welcome to the JW Marriott, here’s your keycard,’ and then a close-up of the logo,” he said. “None of that.”

In other words, Marriott bet on having career storytellers lead their content marketing program—not career marketers.

The key to making this work, however, wasn’t by shutting marketing out. Instead, Marriott found success by breaking down silos and gathering marketers and content people around a common cause.

The key to that is M Live, its glass-encased content studio.

Launched in October 2015, the studio has nine screens showing everything from the social media campaigns of Marriott’s 19 brands to real-time booking information to Marriott’s editorial calendar. But what might be even more impressive—and instructive for other brands—are the eight swivel chairs. Each seat in the glass room represents a different department such as PR/Comms, Social Media, Buzz Marketing, Creative + Content, and even one for MEC, a media- buying agency that amplifies well-performing content at a moment’s notice.

Some marketers may dismiss this scene as a fad—a foolish brand playing media company. But in truth, it’s actually the sign of a great storytelling culture—one that embraces media as marketing.

At the time of this writing, although Marriott is very much building a media business—with plans to license short films and webisodes to places like Yahoo!, AOL, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon—M Live and the Marriott Content Studio are still very much a marketing initiative.

“We did not get this far by saying, ‘I want to build a media company,’” Beebe said. “First and foremost, [the goal] is to engage consumers. Get them to associate with our brands, build lifetime value with them. Content’s a great way to do that.”

A Culture of Storytelling

While M Live and the Marriott Content Studio are making great strides reaching people externally, they’re also having an impact on life inside the company. The content team has put in hard work evangelizing and explaining what they’re doing—part of the reason they built M Live smack in the middle of the lobby for all to see.

One executive, for instance, spent three months leading a project to create a guide that explains M Live and how anyone in the company can help if they have an idea or see a trending story. They’ve connected the M Live team to customer care to handle any complaints or problems, and each Marriott brand is getting deeply involved with the content creation process. “People are getting it,” Beebe said. “Now that we’ve done a lot, they’re starting to see the impact.”

Even Bill Marriott comes down to see what’s going on.

“He loves it, loves the idea of what we’re doing,” Beebe said. “He’ll just come sit down and chit-chat and pick up the phone. He’s actually gotten on Matthew’s computer and shown his wife stuff.”

It’s that support from Bill Marriott and CEO Arne Sorenson that’s pushed the ambitious content operation forward so it can keep transforming the company.

“That’s really what our goal is,” Beebe said. “To take all the brand marketers, all the brand leaders and teams, and turn them into great storytellers.”

Not every company needs to build a sophisticated content studio like Marriott to build a great culture of storytelling, but if they want to succeed as storytellers in the future, they do need to embrace what that studio represents—the destruction of silos and the shared goal of using stories to build relationships and make people care.

Which is, of course, is what marketing is all about.

The Storytelling EdgeThis is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You” by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, available today.

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9 B2B Content Marketing Musts for 2018 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/b2b-content-marketing-musts/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/b2b-content-marketing-musts/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149097 B2B content marketing is harder than ever. Learn the nine musts you'll need to succeed in 2018, says Jay Baer, backed by the latest research.

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9 B2B Content Marketing Musts for 2018

B2B content marketing is almost universally embraced. 87 percent of all business-to-business organizations are using content, according to an eMarketer survey of firms with 100 employees or more.

So the question about B2B content marketing isn’t WHETHER it’s a viable marketing approach. Rather, it’s WHAT must be done in 2018 to make it more viable, and HOW content marketing for B2B must change in the face of altered customer expectations and heightened competition.

eMarketer recently released a new report on this topic called B2B Content Marketing 2018. I was one of the content marketers interviewed for this study. It’s a sound and thorough report, and I encourage you to review the summary, listen to the podcast overview, and consider becoming an eMarketer PRO subscriber to get access to the entire piece.

Good news: I’ve reviewed and analyzed the complete report. Here are my favorite findings, plus commentary on what I think they mean for the future of B2B content marketing.

Publish Your Own Research

According to a survey from Ascend2, 50 percent of B2B marketers say that research reports generate leads with the highest customer conversion rates, compared to other forms of content marketing.

(Note: Convince & Convert will be kicking off a research series soon.)


50% of B2B marketers say research reports generate leads with the highest customer conversion rates. #contentmarketing
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Seek Content Downloads

The same survey from Ascend2 finds that leads with high conversion rates begin with a content download. Two-thirds of B2B content marketers believe this to be the case. Compare this to webinar registration (45 percent) and demo request (37 percent).

This surprises me. I would assume (wrongly, it appears) that a webinar registration indicates more specific and meaningful interest than a content download.

Taken in tandem with the point above about research (which is typically distributed via download, like the eMarketer report) the “make research, and allow people to download it if they provide their information” is an even more sound approach.

Know That Credibility Is Only Somewhat Important

This one is disheartening to me. Research from our friends at the Content Marketing Institute and SmartBrief found that when seeking information about potential products and services in a B2B environment, prospective buyers aren’t all that concerned about where that information comes from.

40 percent of respondents say the source of the information doesn’t matter, as long as it is credible. (To which I say, “Well, then how do you know it’s credible?”)

31 percent say they prefer the information to be unbiased.

Interestingly, 24 percent prefer the information to come from the company or manufacturer that they are considering. (I call this the “fox watching the henhouse” approach to content marketing.)

Taken together, I interpret this to mean that while it is, of course, optimal to have strong third-party endorsements, creating content marketing that extolls your own virtues is more than just possible. It’s actually acceptable and desirable in many B2B consideration funnels. Fascinating!


40% of B2B buyers say when researching, the source of info doesn't matter, as long as it's credible.
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Consider Increasing Your Content Marketing Budget

Competition gets tougher, and audiences get more jaded. That’s the current cycle in B2B content marketing. To continue to succeed, many firms are increasing investment.

38 percent of companies in B2B anticipate boosting their content marketing budgets in 2018, according to an Informa survey.

And content is also becoming a larger and larger share of total marketing spend. Based on their research, Content Marketing Institute finds that the most successful companies in B2B are spending approximately 40 percent of all marketing dollars on content marketing.

So what do we cut in that scenario, as content vacuums up more and more budget dollars? Collateral material? Events and exhibits? Sponsorships? Print ads? Logo golf balls?

Part of this budget increase is for content marketing software, including robust editorial calendars and productivity tools.


38% of B2B companies anticipate boosting their #contentmarketing budgets in 2018
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Don’t Stop Content Marketing at the Purchase

You’ll find excellent commentary in the eMarketer report about the need for content to be created and targeted explicitly at all stages of the funnel, including post-purchase. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I wrote a whole piece about why B2B content marketers are spending their resources incorrectly and mostly ignoring content for retention:

B2B Marketers Are Working Harder Than Necessary

Think Quality, Not Quantity

The script has flipped on this equation. Back when there were still green field topics and authority to be seized, a quantity-driven strategy made sense. Now, there are very few—if any—stones unturned.

Changes to customer expectations, massively increased competition, and social media and search engine algorithm shifts have, in combination, resulted in a new content marketing world. Now, crafting the definitive piece on a particular topic is a far better idea than crafting a bunch of okay content executions across a broader topical spread.

I loved this quote from the eMarketer report:

“There’s this push for quality content over quantity,” said Timothy Morral, director of editorial content at Walker Sands Communications. “Part of it is driven, because B2B brands recognize that they need quality leads. Quality content and quality leads work in parallel.”

Exactly! Not only does quality content break through, but quality content creates quality leads, and mediocre content creates mediocre leads.

Get Good at Multi-Sensory Content Marketing

Most B2B content marketers come from a writing or publishing background, either via education or experience. This is because, for a long time, B2B marketers deployed the overwhelming majority of their content marketing in writing. B2B content marketing meant white papers, ebooks, data sheets, FAQs, and so forth.

Now, however, changing consumer content consumption patterns (powered partially by the shift to mobile and the ability to stream video just about everywhere) have made written content (like this content, ironically) less popular, in favor of multi-sensory executions like videos and interactive white papers and the like.

Companies (and Convince & Convert partners) like Vidyard and SnapApp are powering B2B video and interactive content to increase reach and conversions. Here’s an article Anthony Helmstetter, one of our Analysts, wrote on video marketing:

The 3-Part Secret to Video Marketing in 2018

Don’t Sleep on Search

Despite the shift to multi-sensory content executions to break through the clutter, a Digital Donut survey found that organic search is still the top-performing method for driving traffic to content, with 44 percent of respondents listing it as one of their top three choices.

39 percent cited email to your own list. (Although if those prospects are already on your list, it’s not really a new audience or source of traffic.) Paid search ranked third with 33 percent of respondents ranking it in the top three. Linkedin and Facebook were next, and the remaining options lagged far behind.


Organic search is still the number one tactic for driving traffic to B2B #contentmarketing
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Find Ways to Boost Relevancy

Your prospective customers, even when in active shopping mode, have no shortage of content consumption options. Content is EVERYWHERE. From you, from your competitors, and from third parties.

Content becomes disproportionately successful when it’s more interesting at the format level (video, interactivity), or more specific and relevant to the potential customer. This is what is powering the move toward account-based marketing (ABM) in B2B. In an ABM scenario, the content is by definition customized and tailored to a specific industry or company. Why? RELEVANCY is the killer app.

One of the easiest ways to boost content marketing relevancy is through personalization. If you’re not already personalizing, you’re probably behind. 68 percent of B2B marketers said they are testing personalization of content and offers, according to a Chief Marketer study.

As I acknowledged in the eMarketer study, however, while personalization is effective—and clearly is the future of content—it requires effort. This approach can be a strain on your resources and team. This is especially true if you are already having trouble getting buy-in from leadership that the existing content program is worthwhile. Asking to allocate additional funds to create highly bespoke content can be an obstacle.

There you have it. The 9 B2B Content Marketing Musts for 2018. Thanks to eMarketer and all the other organizations that are putting out such great research and reports on this topic.

If my team and I here at Convince & Convert can help you stay ahead of customer expectations in the area of content marketing, please get in touch about a free analysis. We create Digital Marketing Maturity Maps for some of the world’s most interesting brands, and guide them as they accelerate, measure, and propel their digital. 

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How Storytelling Turned Dollar Shave Club Into a Billion Dollar-Brand http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/storytelling-turned-dollar-shave-club-into-a-billion-dollar-brand/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/storytelling-turned-dollar-shave-club-into-a-billion-dollar-brand/#respond Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=149135 The surprising success of Dollar Shave Club provides an important case study in scaling storytelling effectively and crafting the most relevant, most irresistible content possible.

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How Storytelling Turned Dollar Shave Club Into a Billion Dollar-Brand

In July 2016, Unilever shocked the business world. They were purchasing Dollar Shave Club—a startup dreamed up just five years earlier by an improv comedian named Michael Dubin— for $1 billion.

Reporters were baffled. Similar e-commerce subscription startups like Birchbox, Trunk Club, and Stitch Fix had failed to attract anywhere near the same interest. Plus, Dollar Shave Club sold blades that paled in comparison to the high-tech razors that brands Gillette and Schick were famous for. Heck, it didn’t even make its own razors! It just bought them wholesale from manufacturers in China and resold them. The billion-dollar price tag was also five times Dollar Shave Club’s expected 2016 revenue—a near-unprecedented multiple for a retail startup.

So why did Unilever pay such an unprecedented price tag? As forward-thinking analysts began to explain, it wasn’t about revenue. It was about the company’s relationships—with customers, and consumers at large. Relationships that began with possibly the greatest startup launch video of all time.

Dollar Shave Club’s Origin Story

In 1990, a group of comedians that included Amy Poehler, Adam McKay, Ian Roberts, and Horatio Sanz had created an improv group called The Upright Citizen’s Brigade (UCB). Before long, the UCB had its own Comedy Central TV show and served as a talent pipeline to Saturday Night Live. As class offerings expanded, it became the destination for the thousands of young creatives who stumbled out of their college acting classes and into the bright lights of New York City each year.

In the early 2000s, Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin was one of those young creatives. For eight years, he honed his craft at UCB while working in various television and marketing jobs. In December 2010, he found himself at a Christmas party talking to one of his father’s friends. The conversation took an unexpected turn, and before long, the family friend was asking him for help selling 250,000 razors he had acquired from Asia. (We’ve all been there, right?) The conversation would have weirded a lot of people out, but it gave Dubin an idea. What if he started a service that would eliminate the expense and hassle of selling razor blades? What if they just showed up at your door each month for $1 each?

Faced with the challenge of getting the startup off the ground and attracting investors, Dubin knew that he had to speak to men like him. Men who were fed up with a razor monopoly that forced them to pay more than $20 for just a few blades. And so he bet big on what he does best. He created a hilarious video to connect with his target audience and cast himself as the protagonist in the Hero’s Journey of his own brand.

“Are our blades any good?” Dubin asks in the beginning of the video. “No, our blades are fucking great.”

What follows is 90 seconds of absolute absurdity that nonetheless touts all of the features of Dollar Shave Club’s razors. There’s a toddler shaving a man’s head, polio jokes, a machete, a clumsy bear, a giant American flag, and perhaps the best “make it rain” scene of all time.

The rough cut of the video convinced former Myspace CEO Michael Jones to sign on as Dubin’s partner. When the video was released on March 6, 2012, it went viral. The startup got more than 12,000 orders in the first 48 hours.

What Dollar Shave Club Got Right About Content Creation

Dollar Shave Club’s origin story highlights something powerful: The economics of marketing are changing quickly, with great content as the ultimate currency. As a result, brands that embrace great storytelling can achieve an incredible advantage over their competition.

The principles behind Dubin’s success aren’t new. Companies have always told stories to drive sales. From the very first barters made to the present day, that hasn’t changed. But everything else has. The sheer pace of technological change in how we are able to communicate our stories to each other—from the birth of radio a century ago to the hurricane of social media apps that mark the 2010s—can be daunting for brands.

On one hand, it presents a huge opportunity. Content is being published everywhere, and consumers are now immersed in stories everywhere they go. Per comScore, time spent with digital media tripled between 2010 and 2016. At last count, 65 percent of all time spent with digital media occurred on mobile devices, consumed primarily via social networks. As a result, companies that excel at storytelling can reach their target customers more effectively and at greater scale than traditional advertising ever offered—all at a fraction of the cost.

On the other hand, there’s more content now than ever. At a conference in 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed that we create as much information every two days as we did in human history up until 2003, a figure that’s only increased since.

As a result, brands can’t create mediocre content and expect to stand out. Half-baked content simply has little chance of breaking through on social or search.

“There’s not a whole lot of value in writing a decent blog post anymore. [There’s not a lot of value] unless you can be pretty extraordinary,” SEO and content analyst Rand Fishkin, who also founded Moz, told us. “Ask: If they’re searching for an answer to a question, would they rather reach your piece of content than anything else on the internet right now? Unless the answer is a slam dunk, ‘Yes, this is 10 times better than anything else out there,’ I’m not necessarily sure it’s worth publishing.”

But when you do create something amazing that stands out? The results are staggering.

Especially when you keep doing it over time.


Brands can’t create mediocre content and expect to stand out.
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How Dollar Shave Club Scaled Its Storytelling

Dubin and Dollar Shave Club continued to crank out hilarious videos that their target audience watched millions of times and shared enthusiastically. One of the best follow-ups, “Let’s Talk about #2,” introduced their new butt wipes product and made more jokes about bears pooping than you ever thought you’d see in a brand video.

It also started shipping The Bathroom Minutes, a small comic newspaper, with every order. And in late 2015, it launched MEL, one of the most ambitious editorial sites ever launched by a brand.

Dollar Shave Club's The Bathroom Minutes

As Contently managing editor Jordan Teicher wrote in The Content Strategist: “MEL is a great example of how ambitious storytelling can stand out if brands stop trying to play it safe. It’s the only place you can read articles like ‘I Went Shark Fishing and Accidentally Caught a Kilo of Coke’ or watch short documentaries about subjects like former Harvard graduates who become medieval fighters.”

In total, these videos helped build an incredibly strong brand and lasting relationships with consumers. Moreover, they helped Dollar Shave Club achieve a financial exit that seemed impossible just a few years before.

As David Pakman, a partner at Venrock and an early investor in Dollar Shave Club, explained: “There are two things that drive multiples: the financial metrics and the story.”

As Dollar Shave Club proved, the right story can make those financial metrics look five times as good.

The Storytelling EdgeThis is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow. Order it today to take advantage of some awesome bonuses, and sign up for the free storytelling course based off the book.

This post is part of a paid sponsorship between Contently and Convince & Convert.

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Who Are the Best Content Marketing Speakers? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/who-are-the-best-content-marketing-speakers/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/who-are-the-best-content-marketing-speakers/#respond Wed, 24 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148823 Content marketing has a great new event. Jay Baer and Convince & Convert want to know who you think are the best content marketing speakers.

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Who Are the Best Content Marketing Speakers

I am so THRILLED to tell you that the Convince & Convert team and I are partnering with our friends at Uberflip to co-produce Conex: The Content Experience, a fantastic event for smart content marketers in August, in the great city of Toronto.

This is year three of Conex. I was one of the speakers for years one and two, and I was so impressed by how good the event was that I asked to partner and co-produce with Uberflip in 2018, and into the future. Plus, I’m an investor in Uberflip (I love their Content Hub technology), so it’s a natural fit.

For my entire career, my rule has been “do not produce events.” Too much time. Too many details. I speak at dozens of events every year, but have never produced one—until now. Why the change? Six reasons:

1. Conex Is Intimate

We’ll have 750 to 950 people at this year’s event—big enough to be dynamic, but small enough to interact and network.

2. Conex Is a BLAST!

Uberflip is known for being irreverent, and some say the same about me and my team. From the first minute until the last, this event is going to be fun.

3. Conex Is Super Relevant

Uberflip helps tons of companies succeed with content marketing. So does my firm. Plus, I’ve written multiple books on the subject, and produce The Content Experience show, which is all about content marketing success. This event is for content marketers and is put together 100 percent by content marketers.

4. Conex Is a Very Strong Event

Terrific speakers teaching the latest and greatest content marketing tips and tactics. There’s no fluff. NO PANELS. No bad speakers. All meat. No bun.

5. Conex Is in a Killer Location

Toronto is one of North America’s great cities. There’s so much to do, and it’s very easy and affordable compared to many big places in the USA. Also, it’s super convenient, and there are reasonably priced flights for just about everyone. And the event itself is at the remarkable Royal Conservatory of Music’s TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning. Beautiful!

And perhaps most importantly . . .

6. Conex Is a Great Deal

Until February 15, full conference passes are just US $499. (Save $400 on this early bird deal.) There is simply no better value for a content marketing event, in my estimation.

Plus, for just another $300 you can add a pre-conference workshop called “How to Create the Perfect Content Marketing Editorial Calendar.” Tickets are limited to about 50, and it will sell out because this exclusive workshop is being taught by the tremendous Anna Hrach, one of the Analysts on my team here at Convince & Convert.

I just approved the curriculum for this workshop, and we’ve loaded it with our best stuff. Tons of value!

The Content Experience event for content marketing

I am 110 percent sure that if you’re in content marketing, you will LOVE this event. I want you to be there. We’ve got a while until Conex kicks off August 20, but I wanted to make sure you knew about the January 31 cutoff for the very best price.

The Best Content Marketing Speakers

I believe in Conex so much so that I’m co-producing it and helping select the speakers.

And that’s where I need your help. I want to know who YOU think is a great content marketing speaker. Who is super interesting, and relevant, and smart, and awesome? Who do YOU want to see on stage at Conex?

I would be very grateful if you’d leave a couple of recommendations here. If you do, I promise you I’ll do whatever I can to get them to Toronto.

If you have any questions at all about the event, our workshop, or anything else, just ask here. Either me or Kelly Santina, our Head of Operations, will answer back right away.

Many thanks. Hope to see you in Toronto. Remember, best price ends February 15.

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The 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/10-content-marketing-commandments-for-2018/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/10-content-marketing-commandments-for-2018/#respond Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148662 Content marketing success is more elusive than ever. More competition. More cynicism from audiences. Artificial intelligence and robots being used to create hyper-relevant, just-in-time content. This game isn’t easy. Our consulting team helps big brands figure it out and make content marketing succeed disproportionately. And if we can help you, let’s talk. Meanwhile, as we […]

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The 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018

Content marketing success is more elusive than ever. More competition. More cynicism from audiences. Artificial intelligence and robots being used to create hyper-relevant, just-in-time content.

This game isn’t easy. Our consulting team helps big brands figure it out and make content marketing succeed disproportionately. And if we can help you, let’s talk.

Meanwhile, as we kick off a new year, I’ve been keeping track of what the team and I tell our clients, and how we advise them to do content better. I collected them here, in this list of the 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018.

1. Thou Shalt Not Engage in Random Acts of Content

Have a strategy and an editorial calendar, and stick to it.

2. Thou Shalt Not Be a Content Coward

The only way you can really succeed is to be someone’s favorite blog/podcast/video/webinar/email. And that only happens if you have the courage to be SPECIFIC about your topic and point of view. Content that’s about everything is about nothing.

3. Thou Shalt Not Embrace False Metrics

Content consumption (views, downloads, plays) is a symptom of success but is not the sole measure of it. The goal is not to be good at content. The goal is to be good at business because of content. (More on the four types of content metrics here.)

4. Honor Thy Audience as a Messenger

Human beings trust one another far more than they trust companies. It is wise to find ways to encourage customers and partners to create content; it is often more successful and persuasive than company-created content.

5. Thou Shall Be Mobile-First (For Real)

We know mobile is important. But mobile-first means that you use the mobile view as the primary visual canvas. After all, if you say “mobile-first” but you’re constantly using a 34-inch, 4K monitor to create everything, you’re not really mobile-first, are you?

6. Thou Shall Create Talk Triggers

Same is lame. If you’re going to the trouble of making content, wherever possible do so in a way that creates conversation. Talk Triggers are purposefully created differentiators that make word of mouth involuntary. Here’s a great one from LinkedIn. Talk Triggers is also the title of my new book with Daniel Lemin, coming October 2.

7. Thou Shall Atomize Content

Take your big, tent-pole content executions and deconstruct them into a series of smaller, nimbler content executions. For clients, we use the 1:8 Principle: Each big piece of content should spawn at least eight smaller pieces of content. This approach makes your content execution much more efficient.

8. Thou Shalt Not Cross-Post

While atomizing your content, however, you should not be posting the exact same thing in multiple places. Audiences choose a platform or content archetype for a reason, and to not customize and optimize your content for each disrespects their choice, and rarely succeeds.

9. Thou Shalt Not Pray at the Altar of Volume

Creating more content is not a measure of success. Creating just enough content to exceed your business objectives is the goal. In fact, creating too much content (e.g. sending too many emails, posting too often on social) often has a negative impact on results.

10. Thou Shall Covet Moving Pictures

Video. video. video. video. If it doesn’t move, it may be a snooze.

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How Content Marketing Can Save Newsjacking http://www.convinceandconvert.com/baer-facts/how-content-marketing-can-save-newsjacking/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/baer-facts/how-content-marketing-can-save-newsjacking/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148566 From Jay Baer, 4 ways content marketing is a better way to implement a newsjacking strategy, in comparison to social media.

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How Content Marketing Can Save Newsjacking

Timing is everything.

This is more true than ever today, as the atomic half life of brand communication continues to shrink, victimized by algorithmic masters that dole out attention like Pez.

The massive flood of content created every second of every day about every topic and happening results in overwhelming competition for attention, as has been well-documented by Mark Schaefer, and others.

The antidote—at least in some circles—is newsjacking. Coined by David Meerman Scott in his book of the same name, where he defines the concept thusly:

Newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed.”

The important part of this definition is “breaking news story.” The intent of newsjacking as originally conceived is that your brand’s angle is the second paragraph in traditional media coverage of whatever is happening. The actual story is paragraph one.

Newsjacking was published in late 2011, and became deservedly popular, especially among public relations practitioners who saw it as a reliable recipe for merging long-lead story pitching with real-time earned media.

Oreo Killed Newsjacking

Just fifteen months later, however, the now-legendary Oreo Dunk in the Dark tweet was sent. With one tweet, Oreo and their agencies ushered in the era of “real-time marketing,” and “RTM” disciples rushed to set up Twitter war rooms to capitalized on every trending hashtag.

This shifted the notion of newsjacking from a way to get earned media coverage to a way to get more likes and shares on owned social media outlets. In short, Oreo’s Dunk stunt moved newsjacking from a PR tactic to a social media tactic.


Oreo's Dunk in the Dark tweet shifted newsjacking from a PR tactic to a social media tactic (unfortunately).
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This post from the Get Spokal blog illustrates the outcome. Nearly every one of their 15 newsjacking examples is a tweet, and essentially none show evidence of earned media coverage whatsoever (other than perhaps trade press talking about the clever tweet, thereby earning ego points among marketing peers, but not creating any real business value).

I am not a fan, and have never been a fan, of this kind of marketing. (In fact, my post “17 Mostly Failed Brand Tweets from The Oscars” is still one of the most-read posts in the history of this site.) For more, here’s a short video rant on why most brands are trying to hard to be clever, in real-time.

My three biggest problems with real-time marketing are:

  1. Expensive to execute as you need always-on personnel + software
  2. Ripe for missteps, especially when brands try to jump on hashtags and trends spawned from misfortune (as I covered comprehensively in “The 3 Social Media Rules for Death and Tragedy“)
  3. Minimal impact. Even done well, do these real-time tweets create customers or keep customers? It feels so often like social media marketers doing marketing for the enjoyment of other social media marketers, and we don’t play that game at Convince & Convert.

Content Marketing Can Save Newsjacking

But all is not lost for the newsjacking premise. Today, it is easier than ever to create on-trend content in nearly real-time. With everyone carrying around a mobile production studio in their pants at all times, there’s not much excuse for not being able to produce content on the fly, beyond inertia and corporate process obstacles.

Further, with the one-click availability of live video, creating reaction content that inserts your angle into a breaking news story is as easy as making a sandwich (maybe easier if you insist on using a panini press).


4 ways using #contentmarketing for #newsjacking is better than #socialmedia http://bit.ly/2EPLhRW
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This approach—using content marketing for newsjacking rather than social media—has multiple advantages:

  1. Can more fully express your ideas, especially with video
  2. Can host the content marketing somewhere and give it a longer shelf life. Also, strong SEO benefits if the trend/story persists long enough for search traffic to accrue
  3. You can still use social, but instead of social BEING the newsjack, social AMPLIFIES a more substantial piece of content that inserts your angle into the story
  4. If desired, more ways to promote the newsjack with paid. Given that most social media newsjacks are on Twitter, your options for paid are… Twitter. With a content marketing newsjack, you can use paid Twitter, Facebook, IG, Linkedin, SEM, display, etc.

Anyone Can Use Content Marketing for Newsjacking

You do not need to be a big brand with an in-house video studio to engage in this form of content marketing as newsjacking. In fact, from a nimbleness perspective, I might argue that you’re better off being a small and scrappy business that can turn on a camera and record without sign-offs and hand wringing.

Dr. Tim Wood of Mission Family Chiropractic in Kelowna, British Columbia is a terrific small business example of content marketing newsjacking.

This year, the Kelowna area—the major city in Canada’s Okanagan region—has received a tremendous blanket of snow, far more than is typical for this area. Local media scrambled to cover the storms, with advice and counsel for local residents and visitors.

The last time this happened was in 2015, which was when Dr. Wood created his content marketing newsjacking: a video showing local residents how to shovel snow without injuring their backs:

It’s a useful, safe, three-shovel approach that I’m going to try next time we get a lot of snow here in Indiana!

KelownaNow.com is a large digital media platform for the region, and when this year’s snows rolled in, they discovered Dr. Wood’s video and promoted it on their site, and in their social media.

Newsjack accomplished!

Lessons from This Newsjack

  1. Your content marketing newsjack attempt does not need to be highly polished. In fact, it’s authenticity is probably higher if it’s not perfect
  2. Unlike social media newsjacks, if your content marketing is actually useful and has a home (Youtube, in this case) its newsjacking potential persists. Remember, Dr. Wood’s video was shot two years before it was picked up by local media
  3. If and when your newsjack succeeds, re-amplify it yourself. This is the one flaw I see in Dr. Wood’s execution, as he did not re-post the video to his own social channels, even after it was picked up in the press.

Newsjacking was originally about earned media through real-time public relations. It was co-opted by social media to become more about “riding the hashtag” but that has limited upside and potentially large downside, in my estimation.

Instead, since we now have the ability to make credible content marketing (especially video) instantly, use that opportunity to pursue a newsjacking strategy that is rooted in content marketing, with social media as the amplification layer.

Big hat tip to my friend Jan Enns for bringing this case study to my attention, via a Linkedin post. 

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How to Recycle Old Content to Increase Your Conversions http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/recycle-old-content/ Wed, 27 Dec 2017 18:45:45 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=147962 Most writers focus more on generating new posts than analyzing what they've already created, and that's a shame: Your old content is a huge asset.

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How to Recycle Old Content to Increase Your Conversions

I’ve been blogging for more than ten years now, and I thoroughly enjoy the process. However, one thing that I dislike about blogging (especially if you blog a lot) is how easy it is to neglect your old content.

Imagine this: You spend hours and days researching the topic and writing an article to never come back to it after a year or two of active blogging. Only a couple of my articles from all those 10 years of writing keep coming back to me (they are still being referenced by others, and I get reminded of them through monitoring my name and seeing blog trackbacks). Most of my content goes down into the blog archives, and I seldom or never go back to look at it again.

And most bloggers I know are like that. They are more focused on finding new topics and writing a new article than analyzing if they’re doing their best to utilize what they wrote in the past. And it’s a real shame: That content you wrote a few years ago is a huge asset. It has already accumulated some authority through backlinks coming over the years, and it may be getting some clicks too. You may be one step away from seeing a solid boost in traffic coming its way. Or you may be losing conversions because that older content doesn’t have your up-to-date calls-to-action.

In either case, make old content optimization part of your monthly (or at least quarterly) blogging routine—that can boost your conversions without you having to write a brand-new article. Here are a couple of ideas.


Make old content optimization part of your monthly (or at least quarterly) blogging routine.
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1. Brainstorm Ways to Generate More Conversions for Your Best-Performing Old Content

Have you checked your most successful content recently? You probably have, but here’s a quick reminder: Do it! And if you use Google Analytics, it’s very easy! Go:

 Behavior > Site Content > Landing pages

Select “Source/Medium” as a secondary dimension, and increase the number of rows to at least 100 to get a better picture.

From there, brainstorm the best way to optimize your best-performing content for more leads not to lose that traffic.

The secondary dimension will help you come up with the most suitable conversion optimization option. For example, if you see [organic traffic] as the referral traffic for a particular landing page, you may want to add your primarily call-to-action (search traffic converts well in most cases). If you see that StumbleUpon sends clicks to one of your blog posts, your safe bet is to assume those are lurkers, so give them the easiest CTA you can come up (e.g. one-click email sign up, Facebook page like, etc.)

Here are a few more ideas.

Use Your High-Ranking Content to Drive More Clicks to Your Landing Page

The easiest way to optimize your well-performing old content is to add an easy-to-notice in-content link to your main landing page. This will also improve rankings of your important money page because internal linking helps pages rank higher in Google.

You can even automate that internal linking (and save time) by using this plugin that links any word to your chosen page whenever it finds it in-content. The plugin hasn’t been updated for a while, but it works fine for all my blogs. You can set it to link only once per page (in case that word is used several times within one article) which is something I usually do to avoid linking too much:

Add an In-Content Call-to-Action

Another pretty non-intrusive way to add in-content call-to-action without being too “salesy” is to use a so-called two-step opt-in option. With a two-step opt-in, readers don’t see a form right within content and have to click a link for it to load.

The two-step opt-in option is based on the concept known in persuasion psychology as “foot-in-the-door tactic” which means that once users click a link inviting to sign-up and download, they feel more inclined to actually convert. Saying yes to a small request (e.g. clicking the link that invites to subscribe or download) predisposes you to say yes to a bigger request (e.g. to complete the form and opt-in).

This is a very popular in-content conversion optimization tactic because it doesn’t force opt-in forms inside the content and thus looks very legit.

Add Your CTA to Visuals

You already use visuals within your articles. Why not make them part of your conversion funnel? Images catch the eye, and adding a quick CTA will not hurt their visual appeal. Here’s a great tutorial on adding more actionable context to your images.

You can try other alternative lead generation channels using visual and interactive content. Flipsnack is one example I’ve tried. With it, you can turn any PDF file into a mobile-friendly flipbook, embed it within your content, and activate a lead gen option to collect emails from those engaging with your flipbook.

2. Re-Optimize Your Content to Get More Traffic

While you are there looking through your best performing content pages, you are likely to notice some of your content not performing as well as you’d hope. It may still get clicks, but you naturally want more.

Save those URLs to explore what you can do to improve their performance, especially when it comes to search referral traffic. That one is usually there to stay.

Optimize for a Group of Keywords to Diversify Rankings

The first step is to analyze if you are doing your best when it comes to selecting the most effective keywords. Run your usual keyword research routine based on each article topic and identify some phrases that may have some potential. If the topic is not too specific, you may want to cluster (i.e., group) those keywords to optimize your content for several of them.

Keyword clustering is the process of categorizing your keyword lists by a more specific topic. Topvisor is a great tool for understanding the concept of keyword clustering. It organizes overwhelming keyword lists into groups, giving me a clear overview of topics that can be united into separate categories. It’s a great tool to make sense of your niche queries helping you brainstorm content more effectively:

It’s a great tactic for re-addressing your old content rankings and making sure your blog posts target a group of related keywords instead of just one. These powerful SEO plugins for WordPress can also help you optimize your old content more efficiently.

Use DrumUp and ViralContentBee to Bring Fresh Social Media Shares

Social media platforms help on many levels, not just shares and clicks. They put your content out there, again and again, driving fresh mentions and links. (Both help in rankings, building trust and, thus, conversions.) The tools I am using for all my content, old and new, are:

DrumUp is a social media management platform that supports Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. My favorite feature is the ability to rotate Twitter shares for my articles to schedule them weeks and months ahead. For example, choose to re-publish any tweet 30 times every 30 days, and you’ll see it in your feed every month for two years. Of course, you can set how often and how many times you want the tweet to go live:

You can also add that tweet to your library to find it easily after years have passed and bring it back to your Twitter feed with one click.

ViralContentBee [Disclaimer: This is the project I co-founded] is a free platform that puts your content in front of active social media sharers. One of the biggest benefits of using it is that, as long as you keep adding credits to your content, it will rotate your content again and again, bringing you fresh shares to your older (but still useful) content.

I have about four years worth of content rotating there, and I see it shared to this day, bringing ongoing traffic. Apart from the obvious benefit (of putting my content in front of more people who can link to it), these social media mentions also bring that content to my attention. This encourages me to update it if anything becomes out-of-date or to write a follow-up.

Good luck making the most of your old content!

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Your 21-Point Blog Post Search Optimization Checklist [Infographic] http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/blog-post-search-optimization/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/blog-post-search-optimization/#respond Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:06:22 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148285 This four-phase approach to search optimization is the key to keeping your blog posts relevant. Get all the details in one handy infographic.

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Your 21-Point Blog Post Search Optimization Checklist

Once, while interviewing search marketing meister Andy Crestodina, I declared “search engine optimization” is a misleading phrase. My POV is this: You don’t (or can’t) optimize the search engine. All you can optimize is the content you publish.

Andy responded, “I think we should just call it ‘indicating relevance.’ I always say this phrase. We should rename SEO ‘indicate relevance.’”

Tasty, eh?


You can't optimize the search engine. All you can optimize is the content you publish.
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Andy provided some precious and essential tips in that interview. Since then, I’ve paid close attention to advice content leaders in the search field have offered about search optimization for blog posts.

One such leader is Alexa (yes, the Alexa ranking people). They’re actually an Amazon company. I saw Alexa marketing manager Jennifer Johnson had come up with a smart, four-phase approach in her post Blog SEO Tips: How to Write SEO Friendly Blog Posts, so I submitted my plea to the company to create an infographic based on it.

The idea, of course, was to organize the information visually into its four phases and make it a simple resource for bloggers. The result: Your 21-Point Checklist for Optimizing Blog Posts for Search.

I love it. I think you will too. If you do, please share it.

21-Point Checklist for Blog Post Search Optimization

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7 Decisive Differences Between Strong and Weak Content Marketers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/baer-facts/7-decisive-differences-between-strong-and-weak-content-marketers/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/baer-facts/7-decisive-differences-between-strong-and-weak-content-marketers/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=148193 Why do some content marketers succeed and others fail? Jay Baer analyzes new research and identifies the gaps that matter.

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7 Decisive Differences Between Strong and Weak Content Marketers

Our friends at Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have released their 2018 B2C Content Marketing Benchmark and Trends Report. As always, it’s stuffed with interesting facts and figures. I have always found this research to have a good pulse on the reality of the content marketing business, and this year is no different.

I encourage you to read the entire report. It’s worth the time.

But the specific element of this year’s research that I found most interesting is the data comparison between “most successful” and “least successful” content marketers.

Note that these are self-identified labels. If a survey participant characterizes their organization’s content marketing approach as “extremely successful” or “very successful,” they are classified as a “most successful content marketer” in this research. Conversely, if the respondent claims their organization is “minimally successful” or “not at all successful” at content marketing, they are classified as a “least successful content marketer” in the report.

It’s also important to recognize that the participant pool is not vast—195 total for North America. And, while I have no evidence of this, I strongly suspect that people who think they are good at content marketing are more likely to take a detailed survey about content marketing versus people who think they and their company are mediocre or worse at it.

With those caveats in place, let’s look at seven areas where there are interesting gaps between what “most successful content marketers” think and what “least successful content marketers” think.

1. A Commitment to Content Marketing

Nearly all (93 percent) successful content marketers say their organization is extremely or very committed to content marketing. This is a huge contrast with the least successful content marketers; just 23 percent of them say their organization is similarly committed.

This isn’t a surprise, right? If the company believes in content marketing, the chances of that content actually working are likely to be much improved.


Successful content marketers are more than 3X more likely to work in a company committed to content.
Click To Tweet


2. A Documented Content Marketing Strategy

The rallying cry of last year’s report was to “document your content marketing strategy.” This seems to have worked, as this year’s research shows a strong uptick in written strategic plans. The gap between the most/least successful content marketers isn’t quite as large in this area as in commitment, but it’s still huge: 59 percent of the most successful say they have a documented strategy, compared to just 18 percent of least successful content marketers.

Again, this adds up. If the company is committed to content, they probably have a documented plan for it. It is interesting, however, that one out of every three successful content marketers appears to still NOT have a strategy, which seems like dancing on the edge of knife, at least to me.

3. A Large Budget

Among the successful content marketers, more than one quarter of total marketing funds (26 percent) go to content marketing. For the least successful, 18 percent. Now, 18 percent of all marketing is still a hefty chunk, and the difference between 18 and 26 points isn’t enormous.

I look at it this way:


Money alone can't buy you content marketing effectiveness, but it doesn't hurt.
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However, the least successful content marketers seem to believe there’s a correlation between budget and effectiveness. Why? 45 percent of them plan to increase content marketing spend in the next 12 months, compared to 35 percent of the already successful content marketers.

4. Realistic Expectations

82 percent of most successful content marketers say their organization has realistic expectations about what content marketing can achieve. Fewer than half as many of the least successful content marketers say the same (40 percent).

This one may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the survey respondents themselves may be the ones setting internal expectations. However, it would appear that commitment level and realistic expectations go together in the content marketing success formula, in most instances.

5. Enough Time

Multiple studies of content marketers (and digital marketing on the whole) show that time pressure is the most common frustration for these professionals. This seems similar to the luxury of realistic expectations. Content marketers who think they are successful also universally believe they have enough time to do their job well.

The phrasing in the study is, “Agrees that leadership team gives ample time to produce content marketing results.” When answering that question, 80 percent of most successful content marketers said “yes,” compared to just 36 percent of the least successful content marketers.


Having enough time to create good content is a major factor in content marketing success (new research)
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6. Strong Project Management

This one makes a ton of sense, and the gap between the most/least successful content marketers is Kanye-West-ego large. When asked, “Our project management flow during the content creation process is excellent, or very good,” 56 percent of most successful content marketers said “yes,” versus just 11 percent of their least successful brethren.

Project management acumen (and presumably, software) is evidently a big factor in content marketing success.

7. Quality Is More Important Than Quantity

This one fascinates me. 84 percent of successful content marketers say that they either always or frequently prioritize content quality over content quantity. This is almost double (43 percent) the response percentage among least successful content marketers.

I’m not entirely certain how respondents judge quality versus quantity, as I’d argue that successful content IS quality content. After all, this isn’t a fine arts project, as I ranted about earlier this year.

Yet, it’s remarkable that focusing on quality correlates so precisely with the most success/least success divide.

Summary of the Decisive Differences Between Strong and Weak Content Marketers

Strong content marketers have these advantages:

  • Organizational support, as evidenced by commitment to content, a documented strategy, and budget.
  • Practical thinking, as evidenced by realistic expectations and a focus on quality.
  • Robust process, as evidenced by strong project management, and enough time to create good content marketing.

Are some people just better at content marketing than other people? Of course. But, based on this new research, it appears that organizational values, structure, and support are also major drivers of content effectiveness. I see that as a sign of a maturing industry, don’t you?


Good content marketers have more company support, budget, time, and better project management culture
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Make sure to read the entire 2018 B2C Content Marketing Benchmark and Trends Report. And thanks to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs for their hard work in putting this together every year.

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Are You Overlooking This Powerful YouTube Ranking Signal? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/youtube-ranking-signal/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:45:23 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=147475 Your video's YouTube ranking lives and dies according to how long viewers spend watching it. But there's another major ranking signal that may surprise you.

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Are You Overlooking This Powerful YouTube Ranking Signal

Many social networks today like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat support video, so YouTube may seem like yesterday’s news. For many businesses, however, it still offers the best opportunity to reach your target audience via video.

YouTube users arrive ready for video content. They’re more likely to stick around longer—provided the video holds their attention and fulfills its promise. This is quality relationship building time. Furthermore, Google loves YouTube videos, and you can compete for a spot in those rankings with videos of your own.

YouTube by the Numbers

YouTube is still one of the web’s largest search engines. According to YouTube:

  • The community has one billion users—about one-third of all internet users.
  • YouTube reaches more 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • You can navigate YouTube in 76 different languages, which covers 95 percent of the internet population.
  • People watch a billion hours of YouTube every day.

The Ranking Signal You Need to Know

Knowing just how vast YouTube is, you might feel intimidated when trying to compete. How can you ensure the widest possible audience sees your video? Of course, you can promote your YouTube video through a variety of avenues, like paid advertising or social promotions—but there’s one often-overlooked action you can take that will feed into the most powerful organic ranking signal on YouTube. And I’m not talking about basic optimization techniques like video titles, descriptions and tags (though YouTube descriptions offer a little-known opportunity to help you obtain featured snippets in Google).

It’s no secret that the average time people spend watching a video is among the most important organic ranking signals within the YouTube platform. However, there’s something you may not know: YouTube doesn’t just care about how much of a video someone watches. YouTube cares about how much YouTube video in total someone consumes in a session.

For example, if a person were to start a YouTube session watching one of your videos and then continue to watch other videos (whether in your channel or those submitted by other parties), the total time they end up spending on YouTube affects the rankings for your video and your channel. That means the ranking power of your channel and videos surges when your video sparks a lengthy YouTube session—even if a viewer spends much of that time watching other users’ videos.

If, on the other hand, they watch most or all of just one of your videos and then leave, that’s certainly good for that particular video, but it doesn’t have as powerful an effect as when a person goes from one video to the next.


YouTube cares both about watch time per video and overall length of a watch session.
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3 Ways to Optimize for This Important Signal

Here’s how to optimize for this organic ranking signal and encourage longer YouTube sessions amongst users.

1. Make sure most of your videos are in playlists. When a video lives on a playlist, another video from the same playlist will play after the current video finishes. If your videos are engaging, your playlists are well put-together, and you’ve captured a viewer’s attention throughout the first video, viewers will be more likely to continue their YouTube sessions.

2. Keep the majority of your videos brief and laser-focused on their core topics. If you lose the viewer’s attention, it’s likely they’ll click away from the video and YouTube altogether. Wistia posted some research on optimal video length in 2016 here, but remember, the best length for your content may vary.

3. Use paid promotions on YouTube. Metrics such as watch time on the videos you pay to boost engagement count towards the ranking power of your channel. This is an excellent reason to use paid promotion on YouTube. As you get better at targeting, you’ll uncover the slice of YouTube’s audience most likely to enjoy your videos. You’ll attract more views and longer watch times, which impact the organic search aspect of your YouTube channel.

YouTube has been around for more than a decade, and it continues to be a place where people go to consume video content—even with all the other choices out there. Take the time to optimize your video marketing using the steps I outlined today, and you may just see your YouTube visibility grow enormously.

The post Are You Overlooking This Powerful YouTube Ranking Signal? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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4 Fixes for More Effective Content Marketing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/more-effective-content-marketing/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/more-effective-content-marketing/#respond Wed, 15 Nov 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=147688 It's time to fix your broken content process, think beyond the blog, and embrace a more effective content marketing strategy.

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4 Fixes for More Effective Content Marketing

The myth of content marketing runs deep.

We still think that if we build it, they will come. But we’ve proven time and time again that this strategy doesn’t work. It’s time to fix that.

My team at Convince & Convert and I today are releasing a new ebook:

4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing

A Guide for Thoughtful Content Marketers

This ebook isn’t a magic bullet for making your content marketing work. That doesn’t exist, unfortunately. What we do instead is take you through a step-by-step guide on how to define a data-driven content strategy that reaches your audience with relevant, timely, and useful content.

Once you’ve got that dialed in, we show you how to think beyond the blog and into more exciting content types that you can experiment with depending on your specific goals and outcomes.

Ultimately, I want you to have a clear framework for what to publish, when, and how so that your content marketing efforts will actually do something for your business—not just sit on your site growing mold. This way, you’ll involve the right people, tools, and resources to make meaningful connections.

Enjoy!

Provide your name and email address, and you’ll get instant access to the ebook when you confirm subscription via email. The download will start right away, so be sure to check your downloads folder or wherever your file downloads normally land.


How often are real people creating your content?
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4 Ways to Fix Your Content Marketing

The ebook has 55 slides and is divided into four sections, one for each of the big fixes you need to get your content marketing on track.

Fix Your Content Topics: Is what you’re creating relevant enough?

Fix Your Content Formats: Are you making content in the modes your audience prefers?

Fix Your Content Creators: How often are real people creating your content?

Fix Your Content Amplification: How does anyone know your content marketing exists?

I know you’re going to love this ebook. The content atomization cheat sheet alone (pages 29–32) is super detailed by itself. Please give it a look, and leave your comments below.

Thanks as always!

Download 4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing:

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4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/4-ways-to-fix-your-broken-content-marketing/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/4-ways-to-fix-your-broken-content-marketing/#respond Wed, 18 Oct 2017 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=147006 Marketers still imagine that if we build it, they will come, despite growing evidence that this strategy doesn’t work. It’s time to fix that.

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4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing

The myth of content marketing runs deep.

We still think that if we build it, they will come. But it’s been proven time and time again that this strategy doesn’t work. It’s time to fix that.

My team at Convince & Convert and I today are releasing a new ebook:

4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing

4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing: The Thoughtful Marketer’s Guide

This ebook isn’t a magic bullet for making your content marketing work. That doesn’t exist, unfortunately. What we do instead is take you through a step-by-step guide on how to define a data-driven content strategy that reaches your audience with relevant, timely, and useful content.

Once you’ve got that dialed in, we show you how to think beyond the blog and into more exciting content types that you can experiment with depending on your specific goals and outcomes.

Ultimately, I want you to have a clear framework for what to publish, when, and how so that your content marketing efforts will actually do something for your business, not just sit on your site growing mold. This way, you’ll involve the right people, tools, and resources to make meaningful connections.

Enjoy!

Provide your name and email address, and you’ll get instant access to the ebook when you confirm subscription via email. The download will start right away, so be sure to check your downloads folder or wherever your file downloads normally land.

The 4 Fixes

The ebook has 55 slides and is divided into four sections, one for each of the big fixes you need to get your content marketing on track.

Fix Your Content Topics: Is what you’re creating relevant enough?

Fix Your Content Formats: Are you making content in the modes your audience prefers?

Fix Your Content Creators: How often are real people creating your content?

Fix Your Content Amplification: How does anyone know your content marketing exists?

I know you’re going to love this ebook. The content atomization cheat sheet alone (pages 29–32) is super detailed by itself. Please give it a look, and leave your comments below.

Thanks as always!

Download 4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing:

The post 4 Ways to Fix Your Broken Content Marketing appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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What’s Better for B2B Marketers, Ebooks or White Papers? http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/ebooks-or-white-papers/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/ebooks-or-white-papers/#respond Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:00:29 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=146746 Learn the differences between ebooks and white papers, their unique benefits, and which format works best for your next B2B marketing campaign.

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What's Better for B2B Marketers, Ebooks or White Papers

Content marketers rely on high-quality content to generate leads. In fact, last year 85 percent of B2B marketers said lead generation was their most important content marketing goal, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

But it’s not enough to just slap any old brain fart behind your landing page. What kind of content is best to hit your lead gen goals? It’s whatever motivates your audience to volunteer their name, email address, and/or other information. It needs to be something substantial, with information they can’t find anywhere else.

Sound familiar? If you said white paper or ebook, you’re right! According to ImpactBND, 80 percent of users said they’d provide their email for a white paper or ebook. Consumers are even more likely to share their information in exchange for white papers (76 percent) than ebooks (63 percent). White papers and ebooks, however, are not the same thing. What’s the difference?

Think of ebooks as the cooler, younger sibling of the white paper. A white paper is typically an in-depth look at a more narrowly defined topic than an ebook. An ebook is more conversational in tone, less scholarly, and may present an overall look at an issue, trend, or industry, rather than a deep dive into a particular problem or solution. (Check out The Ultimate White Paper Template [Free Download] for the definitive guide to writing a white paper.)

Like a white paper, an ebook addresses a hot topic. But while a white paper generally presents original research or findings, an ebook can include original content, collect or mine product reviews, or curate content that has appeared in other formats. For example, a common form of ebook repurposes blog posts and adds additional related information from industry experts and thought leaders.

Here’s a quick summary of the differences between ebooks and white papers. It comes from Ann Handley, MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer and co-author C.C. Chapman’s book, Content Rules.

Ebooks White Papers
Broken into smaller chunks—designed for skimming and scanning Long and linear—a deep read
Concept-centric—based on ideas and trends of interest Data-centric—often based on formal research
Visually heavy—main text supplemented with call-outs, bullet lists Text-heavy
Casual and collegial—a conversation among equals Formal—impressive expert speaks to you

80% of users say they’d provide their email for a white paper or ebook.
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Benefits of Ebooks and White Papers

Both ebooks and white papers offer many potential benefits. They are typically more time-consuming and expensive to produce than blog posts. But whether your goal is to generate leads, increase brand awareness, or educate customers, gate this valuable content so that you can collect visitors’ information.

Here are four reasons to add eBooks or white papers to your content strategy.

  1. Generate Leads
    Ebooks and white papers are two of the best ways to generate leads, especially for B2B marketers. B2B customers now have access to many sources of information before making a purchase. They like to make use of them. The sales cycle can be long, and you need timely, relevant, and useful assets that motivate readers to download a copy and return to your site for more.
  2. Build Thought Leadership
    An ebook or white paper with exclusive content can define a category or present unique information or reflections on an industry. This builds thought leadership. Many experts use ebooks as calling cards to generate speaking engagements and appearances at industry conferences. Even if it’s self-published, an ebook burnishes your reputation.
  3. Enhance Customer Education
    Ebooks and white papers help educate customers so they can decide if your product or service is right for them. They can also help customers use your product or service, and get the most out of their investment.
  4. Share Expertise with Your Target Audience
    An ebook or white paper can provide detailed insight into an area of expertise that connects your company with a particular audience. Tailor the contents to their specific needs by addressing the pain points of a particular persona. This helps engage customers and turn them into brand ambassadors.

How to Choose Between an Ebook and White Paper

Determining whether you should create an ebook or white paper is actually quite simple. Start by answering these three questions:

  1. Which would your audience prefer? Are they looking for information that’s easy to absorb and quick to implement? Or do they want a detailed dive into a niche area of the topic you’re covering? The more specific your audience’s interest, the better a white paper will meet their needs.
  2. Which is better for this type of content? Is your topic a high-level overview? Can it be broken down into actionable steps? Or does it require supporting details and deeper explanation? Information that can be presented in scannable chunks is better suited to an ebook.
  3. What time and resources do you have to create? White papers can require a significant amount of original and third-party research. That’s not to mention lead time for gathering quotes, creating graphs, and organizing visual depictions of data. If you don’t have the time to devote to a white paper, then an ebook will be a better bet.

Review the differences between these content types, weigh their benefits, and select the format that’s best for you. When you’re ready to start building, check out Curata’s white paper template or ebook template to help you get started.

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How to Stop Killing Your Content Team and Scale with What You Have http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/stop-killing-your-content-team/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/stop-killing-your-content-team/#comments Tue, 10 Oct 2017 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=146740 How can your team meet demand without burning the candle on both ends? Use these 3 strategies to make the most of your content creation resources.

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How to Stop Killing Your Content Team and Scale with What You Have

Can we increase the frequency of our social media posts?

How about adding another weekly article to our content strategy?

What would it take to expand our email campaign to include 20 more touches?

If you’re like me, you have heard these requests for “more, more, more” content. You and your marketing team are constantly being asked to do more content development, right? I hear you.

While 70 percent of content marketers expected to produce more content in 2017, compared to the previous year, only 39 percent expected to receive an increase in budget.

But more content without more money equals more work without more help.

Yikes.

Faced with increasing demands for content, but without more team members or budget, how can you meet content requests without burning the candle at both ends?

The answer: It isn’t always about creating more—it’s about creating the right content for your team’s needs and effectively managing resources for your content development and promotion. Here are three ways to make the most of your content-creating resources.

1. Streamline the Request Intake Process

Create a process to receive work requests. This could be a designated email account, a web form, or a work management tool. Your process will reflect the maturity of your organization. Even if you are taking baby steps with technology, embrace a simple process to receive requests—any process is better than none.

Identify an owner of the request intake process—this person is responsible from beginning to end so nothing falls through the cracks. Understand your company and department goals so you can align all of your projects with them. Sometimes you’ll need to be brutal. (So no, you won’t sponsor a senior center 70s-themed dance party—no matter how worthy a cause—if your goal is focused on children’s health.)

Use a marketing brief for all submitted requests. When it comes to requests, don’t just fill it out like a questionnaire at the doctor’s office with rushed, scribbled notes. Don’t scrimp here—spend the time needed to properly define what you’re trying to accomplish, how it aligns with other efforts, and how a successful project should look. Include the expected ROI and trackable metrics in your marketing brief. These allow you to evaluate at the end of the project and measure if it did what it was supposed to do.

Include your promotional plan with the marketing brief. It ensures you build all assets needed (ebook, infographics, ads, etc.) to meet your goals. Account for each item in the budget—this prevents surprise expenses later that could compromise the success of your campaign.

2. Prioritize Your Work Based on Real Value

Not all content projects need to be done. Leave the less-important, less-effective ideas behind to focus on the projects with real, quantifiable value. Establish your prioritization methodology and stick to it—what comes first? What is most important? You can use these nine questions to help prioritize content. The Content Marketing Institute encourages defining your mission statement as an organization and making sure all content requesters know it inside and out. This cuts out requests that do not support your mission.

Beyond the mission, let predetermined priorities guide the content prioritization. The 2016 Content Marketing Trends report shows almost 75 percent of content creators put creating more engaging content as their top priority. The second and third top priorities support evaluating the effectiveness of content (65 percent) and finding better ways to repurpose content—saving time and money (57 percent).

Use numbers to guide your prioritization. Calculate the real value of ROI of content marketing, using this guide. Consult this Forbes or Entrepreneur article for more tips on measuring content marketing and using numbers to guide choices.

In addition to creating an ROI number, a content score can evaluate the effectiveness of a piece of content in the sales process. Content scoring lets the numbers guide you. For example, you may realize a webinar that took more than 100 hours to publicize, design, organize, and broadcast generated less than five percent sales impact, compared to your quick 30-minute-production video clip that resulted in a 50 percent sales impact. This allows you to make smart changes. Even if the webinar was an annual tradition for 10 years, cut it. Dropping low-value projects grants you more time to focus energy on content that creates real value.


Dropping low-value projects grants you more time and energy for content that creates real value.
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Determine where you can put your efforts—perhaps your demand generation gets 50 percent of your time; awareness gets 20 percent; HR gets 10 percent, etc. This helps you understand the capacity your team has for work. Track how long it takes for you to finish repeatable work. Based on this information, set utilization metrics for your team—these usually come at about 80 percent of total work hours, leaving space for meetings, reporting, the office party, etc. Based on your team’s availability, this number could vary.

Identify a way to assign and track work with your team. Armed with information, like how long a specific task takes and availability of each team member, you can strategically assign work to your team. You empower yourself by knowing who is available for tasks and when to assign them. By removing the guesswork on team availability, you’re no longer overloading or under-utilizing team members and everyone wins.

3. Create Templates for Repeatable Work

Through the course of your next content project, note all of the steps you take to get the project done. Document, in detail, each step of the process—drafts, approvals, re-writes, publication, hand-off, etc. Take that information and create a template you can follow when you execute a similar project in the future.

Check out these content marketing templates to help you get started. Once you find one that works for your project, simply repeat. The calendar year always repeats itself, so if you have an email campaign for a Black Friday sale this year, you know you’ll have one next year—use the template and update as much as possible with automatic replacements.

By embracing templates, you maximize efficiency. Follow the example of Meera Kothand, email marketing specialist, and blogger. She developed an adaptable outline for creating an online content piece. Use her outline to create your own blog template that cuts writing time by 50 percent.

Integrate these three tips to maximize your content capacity. Then the next time you get those all-too-familiar “more, more, more” requests, you can confidently respond “yes, yes, yes,” without any eye-rolling or groaning from an overworked team.

Editor’s note: This post is part of a paid partnership between Convince & Convert and Workfront.

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Here’s How Much Your Content Marketing Goals Matter http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/content-marketing-goals-matter/ Mon, 02 Oct 2017 13:05:38 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=41797 Your overall content strategy likely has multiple goals. Each piece of content you create, however, should focus on only one.

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Here's How Much Your Content Marketing Goals Matter

When it comes to content marketing, have you been slow getting out of the starting gate? Or are you struggling to keep up with larger competitors that crank out tons of content? It’s not an enviable position, but all is not lost. You’re still in the race—if you take the right approach and focus on your content marketing goals.

Despite your instinct to knock out blog post after blog post to catch up, adopting a goal-focused content strategy will provide greater dividends in both the short and long terms. If this sounds obvious, it’s actually the zag to the zig of most marketers. Some 70 percent of them lack a consistent or integrated content strategy, according to Altimeter.

Part of this no-strategy approach likely involves failing to focus on producing a single business goal with each piece of content. Some content managers won’t consider a goal at all when developing a blog post, white paper, or webinar, while others will try to shoot the moon. Both tend to produce an ROI of roughly zilch.

One Piece of Content, One Content Marketing Goal

Though your overarching content strategy will likely have multiple content goals (awareness, lead generation, customer retention, engagement, etc.), each piece of content should focus on a single one. A campaign enables brands to build upon the successes of individual pieces of content to move their audience to conversion.

For example, a blog post may lead to a newsletter sign up, which leads to downloading an ebook, which leads to requesting information from a sales representative. That’s an overly simplified roadmap, but it illustrates how you can use content to create a customized and efficient pathway for your target audience.


Your content strategy may have multiple goals, but each piece of content should focus on only one.
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Getting Started with Business Goals

While organizations and content strategies differ, the following four steps will help you understand the content you need to produce in order to achieve your desired business objective:

  1. Define a goal for each piece of content.
  2. Select a specific audience that makes sense for that goal.
  3. Identify the content topics/mediums that will move that audience to the desired outcome.
  4. Analyze the results, adjust and/or expand.

Remember, each step should lead to the next. For example, identifying the objective and audience helps you hone your content types (blog posts, white papers, etc.) and topics, enabling you to deliver the right message at the right time with greater frequency.

Though the steps are simple, you and your team should write down your conclusions—formally, not on a dinner napkin. The extra effort pays off. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 60 percent of marketers do not formally document their objectives, audience, or goals. That diminishes their chances for success, according to a study by Dominican University’s Gail Matthews which showed that people who write down goals, review them, and share them are 33 percent more successful than those who don’t.

Preparing Individual Content Pieces

When preparing content, remember that competition is fierce for your target audience’s attention; they are the metaphorical belle of the content marketing ball, and many brands want a dance. Identifying and creating content around the specific needs of your target audience will attract their attention, and a strong call to action for the one next step (whether it’s to purchase, learn more, subscribe to your newsletter, or something else) is the final touch.

So what does this look like? Michael Smart did a masterful job with a piece of content that he posted to his blog and also distributed via email.

  1. Objective: Get registrations for his upcoming marketing seminar.
  2. Audience: Communications managers and executives looking to advance their career.
  3. Resonating Content: How do you pique the interest of high-level communicators? Appeal to their skepticism. Michael wrote about an attendee at a conference who doubted he could provide new insights. He challenged her to stay. She did. She succeeded. Then he challenged his readers to sign up for the seminar’s last nine remaining seats.
  4. Analyze and Adjust: Without speaking to him personally (and if you’re reading this Michael, give us a call some time!), it’s impossible to say with certainty that he analyzed results. However, Michael is a savvy PR professional and marketer who has dedicated enormous time and effort to creating content and building his newsletter list. He deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Navigating Around Gatekeepers

Xerox wanted to engage with senior-level executives but found they often couldn’t get past those executives’ administrators who triaged calls and removed marketing materials from snail mail piles. This, of course, impacted Xerox’s sales, so they found a different path.

To increase sales leads (Objective), Xerox created engaging content for C-suite prospects (Audience) that wouldn’t get earmarked as a solicitation by the admins. This involved reshaping the focus of its content marketing. Rather than continuing to focus on client problems, Xerox shared how clients solved those problems and the mindset that drove their success through a collaboration with Forbes on a publication called Chief Optimist magazine (Content).

The company creates five editions of the magazine that cater to specific industries and will send customized print versions to key prospects. It promoted the publications through email and printed cards that sales reps delivered personally.

It didn’t take long for the results to pile up. Email readership leaped 300 to 400 percent. The company gathered 20,000 new contacts and set up more than 1,000 appointments for its sales people. The result:  More than $1 billion in pipeline revenue with a 12- to 18-month sales cycle. To keep customers returning to the site, it launched online forums headed by business celebrities such as Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company (Analyze and Adjust).

Smaller companies with fewer resources don’t have the ability to launch a full scale campaign like this, but they can identify the key concerns and topics their audiences care about with content intelligence. Solutions like the Ceralytics platform analyze content from around the web to identify key opportunities for your brand. (And yes, it can even help companies like Xerox.)

Capitalizing on Pop Culture

SunGard had a challenge that so many brands can relate to: a product or service that doesn’t stoke people’s interest. However, they became a buzzed about brand in the crowded B2B technology space (Objective) by capitalizing on our fascination with zombies.

SunGard focused specifically on reaching IT executives (Audience) with an infographic and ebook that showed the importance of having a resilient business infrastructure, in this case one that could survive a zombie apocalypse (Content). The infographic took the audience step by step through the procedures used to protect data and applications in the event of a zombie attack. To disseminate its gory graphic and the corresponding ebook, SunGard initiated two email campaigns: one broad-based to IT executives with titles director and above for companies earning more than $50 million annually, and another to IT executives who hadn’t responded to a SunGard email in six months.

What made this zombie infographic extra killer? The call to action. Recipients clicked through to a landing page where they could enter to win a physical zombie survival kit. As the campaign took off, SunGard monitored how many times the infographic was shared by influential third-party cloud-based sites (Analyze and Adjust).

The brilliance of this campaign comes from its use of zombies. Had they intended to connect with prospects only a step or two from making a purchase, zombies and a survival kit likely wouldn’t have moved the needle. When considering whether to invest in one solution or another, people tend to want cold, hard facts and case studies. However, for brand awareness, SunGard’s decision to capitalize on the zombie trend more than did the trick.

SunGard’s zombie campaign produced astounding results, tripling expected downloads and doubling expected click-through rates. Additionally, several niche cloud websites featured the infographic on their home pages. Following this success, SunGard adjusted the program, initiating a direct mail-campaign and then a social media campaign.

The accomplishments of Michael Smart, Xerox, and SunGard flow directly from their well thought-out approaches. Success doesn’t have to be predicated on a long history of content production. Content marketing come-latelys can enter this saturated arena and drive results. The key is being strategic and focused on a single goal.

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How to Stay Relevant as a Writer in the Visual Age http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/stay-relevant-as-a-writer/ Mon, 25 Sep 2017 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=41397 The role of the writer isn't vanishing in this visual age. It's evolving, and it's up to writers to stay relevant.

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How to Stay Relevant as a Writer in the Visual Age

Scroll through your Facebook feed, and for every link to a long-form article, you will have to pass a healthy handful of viral videos.

Are they industry specific? Hardly.

Politics, entertainment, entrepreneurship advice, you name it, the verdict is clear: The preferred form is video.

According to a report by Cisco, total internet video traffic (business and consumer, combined) will be 79 percent of all Internet traffic by 2020, up from 63 percent in 2015. But the data points to a larger issue, and one that is scaring one of the longest standing crafts of all time: writing.

However, videos are only part of the equation. The larger shift that is happening is away from reading and more toward visual storytelling, which includes images. Content with images gets 94 percent more views than content without, cited another study. And according to a Citrix report, nearly two-thirds of the posts on social media are visual content.

The Role of the Writer Has Changed

Here’s what’s fascinating: Despite the data telling us that images and video are a consistently rising trend, this is not to say that writing, in itself, is dying—in fact, far from it.

One could say that writing is simply becoming more visual. Those images that get shared so often on social media? One of the most popular image types is quote graphics: images with text layered on top. Or the videos that fill your Facebook news feed? They are paired with banner text acting as headlines, piquing the curiosity of potential viewers.

So even though data shows the human brain processes images at lightning speed—13 milliseconds—and that videos are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, this ignores the simple fact that potent messaging is what draws someone in to begin with.

Sure, reading long-form content requires a longer attention span and deeper cognitive efforts, but the act of reading will never disappear, since words are what give us direction. They tell us what we’re about to watch before we watch it. Therefore, the role of the writer isn’t vanishing. It’s evolving. High-performing images and videos are demanding that writing, if anything, challenge itself to be more condensed. Snappier headlines. Quick, meaningful quotes.

The visual age is forcing writers to get to the point.

So, how can writers stay relevant? And more importantly, what does a successful writing style look like in today’s digital world?


The role of the writer isn't vanishing. It's evolving.
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1. Know the Rules of Your Medium

Marketers especially, listen up: Since written and visual storytelling has become so intertwined, you have to think of them as two halves to the same coin. The question is not which one to choose, but rather the density of the blend. For example, combining an emotional photo with a powerful quote to create an image graphic is a great mixture for a platform like Instagram. It is not, however, a great fit for a platform like Facebook, since Facebook’s algorithm does not favor posts with more than 20 percent text. It’s a simple example, but a crucial one.

Written and visual elements work together to tell lasting stories. For marketers, then, the question becomes how to properly utilize both based on the medium of choice—and what the users on those platforms are most comfortable engaging with.

In addition, there are plenty of cases when writing absolutely trumps visual storytelling. Some would argue that reading a column or blog is easier than listening to a heavily detailed podcast— learning through reading versus listening.

If you want people to think and learn something particular, consider writing. If you want people to feel, lead with the visual: video or imagery.

2. Let Design Accentuate, or Even Guide, Your Writing

If you look around, writing is everywhere. There truly is no shortage of words. From infographics to websites, landing pages to Facebook ads, the written word is alive and well. It just tends to get overshadowed by trends that hail the power of visual storytelling.

A key part of making your writing stand out, then, is to frame it in the right context. This is where learning to work with designers can be tremendously helpful. By understanding how a designer approaches a piece of content, you too can learn how to shape your writing to fit within those constraints without losing any of its meaning or depth.

The real benefit here, however, is that a single sentence framed by the right design can hold so much more weight in the visual age than an entire essay lost amongst a sea of other copy. Learning to write with the awareness of the context created by design will not only help your writing stand out; it will allow you to reach and impact many more people whose eyes are on the lookout for something visual.

3. Visual Stories Are Still Stories

Along with the changing responsibilities of the modern-day writer comes the acceptance that, sometimes, what you’ve written can be more powerfully told through a video, for example.

Thinking like a screenwriter or a playwright gives you a significant advantage in the digital age. If you can be the writer behind meaningful videos and construct a story worth watching, your value will not be forgotten. In fact, the next time you see a video on the internet, take note of whether or not subtitles are included. Chances are, they’re there.

When a viewer watches a video with subtitles, they are not only feeling the visual but reading the story as well—and the better the story, the more engaged they will be. Since so many people watch videos on their mobile phones, especially when they’re out and about (and may not have access to headphones), subtitles allow them to follow along. If you can write a narrative worth reading, imagine how much more engaged people will be with a coinciding video guiding them through.

The craft of writing is not dying. It is simply evolving as consumer behavior changes.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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Why You Should Be Using Your Content to Build Social Proof http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/using-your-content-to-build-social-proof/ Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=41357 Gain your customers' trust means building social proof. Here's why user-generated content should be at the foundation of your strategy.

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Why You Should Be Using Your Content to Build Social Proof

Long gone are the days of brands having complete control of the narrative around their products and services. Thanks to the social media revolution, we’ve entered a user-generated content future where consumers are seeking out the opinions of like-minded people to establish whether your brand has the social proof they’re looking for.

According to a 2016 study from Twitter and Annalect, approximately 49 percent of social media users rely on recommendations from influencers to inform their purchasing decisions.

Even more interesting?

Consumers have come to trust the opinions of their peers or other online experts far more than brands—and nearly as much as their friends.

According to the same study, about 40 percent of respondents said they’ve purchased something after seeing an influencer feature it on his or her social pages. Compare that to the measly one percent of millennials who say a compelling ad has influenced a purchasing decision, and it becomes startlingly clear that you need to build social proof to gain loyal customers—and UGC is at the foundation of that strategy.

The Proof Is in the Pudding

I like to think of social proof as driving people to replicate the behavior and lifestyles of those they admire—including how they dress, what they eat, and even where they choose to vacation.

Social proof is not a concept born in the social media age. For example, in the famous 1986 Hair Club commercial, CEO Sy Sperling drove incredible results with a simple line, “I’m not only the Hair Club president. I’m also a client.” Similarly, nightclubs limit entry and make patrons wait in lines outside. The visual of others wanting to get into the club so badly that they line up increases the perception of the venue’s popularity. Make no mistake—this tactic is meant to entice a passerby to check out the club, too.

That said, social media has amplified this effect by delivering intimate snapshots of other people’s lives right into the palms of our hands. Think about it: Social media is the perfect medium for appealing to humans’ inherently tribal side, and this need to belong is critical to the way we share on social platforms. Considering that about a third of all time spent online is dedicated to social media, it’s easy to see the power of social proof.


The need to belong is critical to the way we share on social platforms.
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Building the Proof You Need

Simply put, social proof shows consumers that their peers are buying a brand’s products, so they should as well. But social proof comes in many forms—all considered UGC—from basic reviews to check-ins to pictures to influencers hyping up events. Here are three tips on how you can establish valuable social proof.

1. Release Content Consistently

Social proof has the ability to drive interest and even loyalty by positioning your brand as trusted and preferred in the eyes of your potential and existing customers. Releasing a stream of high-quality content can place you in a virtuous cycle of follower growth—the more you share, the more people see your content, read it, share it, and follow you.

Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, saw Facebook Live as an opportunity to connect and engage with its audience. The first live video gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at its culinary team preparing heart-shaped donuts for the Valentine’s Day Dunkin’ Hearts Love contest. The video garnered thousands of views, comments, and likes in only a few minutes.

Social media platforms provide a forum for entertainment, with users attempting to educate, impress, relate to, or entertain their friends. By providing consistently relevant, interesting content, you can increase your follower count and build valuable social proof.

2. Create Incentives for People to Share

You should release high-quality content about your brand, of course, but if you’re the only one doing so, you’re completely missing the mark of social proof. The goal, after all, is to encourage your audience to leave reviews, share your messaging, invite friends to purchase your products and create their own content about your products.

When generating content with the focus of driving shares, think through the lens of, “Would my audience want to share this?” Is the content funny, emotional, or educational? Does it support a cause or belief? If not, get back to the drawing board.

A great example is John Lewis, a U.K.-based department store, that created online traction this past holiday season. The creation of an ad featuring a lovable dog, Buster the Boxer, jumping on a new trampoline made for social media gold. Nearly two million people shared the touching video because of its lovable character and message.

Incentivize your followers to leave reviews, share your content, and invite friends to purchase your products. The goal should be to increase conversion rates by positioning your brand as well-loved. If you can convince others to trust you because you have evidence that others already do, you can generate a positive perception of your brand.

Social proof isn’t all positive, however, and with the ease of sharing comes the difficult task of crisis management. You don’t have to look far to find some recent examples. The negative posts associated with United Airlines and the Fyre Festival spread like, well, fire (pun intended).

3. Measure Success

About half of customers seek out and engage with UGC before making a purchase, but measuring the amount of social proof your brand has and the true impact on the bottom line can be difficult.

To get an accurate baseline, make a list of your social proof initiatives and quantities. This means taking the time to measure your current performance on each platform, including the product reviews, social media mentions, social media followers by platform, Yelp and Google reviews, and purchases.

After your baseline is set, test growing individual social proof initiatives and measure results. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your platforms. The ultimate goal is to focus on social proof initiatives that drive inbound leads and sales. Look at web traffic, leads, and conversions prior to testing for a baseline, and adjust accordingly. Hypothesize, test, measure, learn, and repeat.

And like any other business model, always keep an eye on the competition. Look at competitors, and benchmark against peers in your industry. There are plenty of tools — like TrackMaven and Brandwatch — that allow you to easily keep an eye on the conversations around you and your competitors.

Social proof might not be a new concept, but utilizing it to your brand’s advantage can be an incredible opportunity. Follow these steps, and let your brand’s biggest fans do what they do best: advocate.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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What’s Next in Content Marketing? 3 Key Takeaways from Content Marketing World http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/whats-next-in-content-marketing/ Thu, 14 Sep 2017 15:29:23 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=41631 Three themes emerged at this year's Content Marketing World, addressing audience engagement, the power of data, and storytelling.

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3 Key Takeaways from Content Marketing World

Among the 15 of us at Convince & Convert, we attend most of the major marketing conferences—and many of us speak at these events too. With this high level of exposure to the thought leaders and tacticians in the industry, I’m always excited when the team reports back on the topics that are on attendees’ lips following a conference. It gets us thinking about the content we want to create, podcasts we want to record, and of course, the recommendations we want to make for our clients.

At this year’s Content Marketing World, Jay Baer, content strategist Anna Hrach, and I not only spoke but attended a ton of interesting sessions. And for me, three overarching themes emerged within the event.

Data Needs Good Context and Good Storytelling

As data is becoming easier to come by and more companies are able to mine customer, audience, and even employee data for insights, we’ll continue to have important conversations about how we can best use the information at our fingertips to serve our audiences. However, speakers like Margaret Magnarelli of Monster and Adam Singer of Google focused on the importance of using storytelling and context to turn raw data into compelling information.

The opportunities aren’t just around telling interesting stories with the data we have, but also in developing engaging hypotheses around which to collect data.

Be a Writer First

“Be a writer first and a marketer second,” said bestselling author and MarketingProfs CCO Ann Handley. In her fantastic keynote, she explored the importance of prioritizing writing, telling stories, and connecting with our audience on an emotional level. You don’t move people with sheer logic; you move them through appealing to their emotions.

In content marketing, especially in the digital space, we are often distracted by shiny objects and cool features. That’s not what makes content compelling. If the story, the arc, and the characters don’t resonate with the audience, the medium doesn’t matter.

Own Your Audience

As content marketers, we are all faced with the fragmenting of our audience among many different networks. Furthermore, we only “rent” audiences on social media. Therefore, putting more focus on “owning” audiences through better nurture campaigns, building dedicated communities, and building higher quality email lists is important.

But more than that, we have to understand the value of our audience beyond just transactions. An engaged audience is self-sustaining, generating conversation, referrals, and interest. CMI’s Robert Rose explored these ideas in his keynote speech and even outlined a system for audience valuation.


An engaged audience is self-sustaining, generating conversation, referrals, and interest.
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In the end, these three themes show that as far as content marketing has come through technological innovation, we as an industry will still find our success from digging into the fundamentals.

When Aristotle described the elements of the rhetorical triangle, he was really talking about the dynamics between the presenter, the audience, and the message. And isn’t that what these three takeaways really boil down to?

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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The Real Reason Most of Your Marketing Fails http://www.convinceandconvert.com/content-marketing/real-reason-marketing-fails/ Wed, 13 Sep 2017 07:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=41581 Most marketing fails because it's not relevant enough. But there's a simple fix, says Jay Baer.

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The Real Reason Most of Your Marketing Fails

Marketing is more competitive than ever, and that genie is not going back in the bottle no matter how hard you push. The real reason most marketing fails is that most marketing is not relevant enough. Relevancy is a value exchange. Customers and prospects are trading their attention for your information. If they refuse to do so, it’s because your information does not matter to them enough sufficiently for them to trade attention for that information.

The key to being more relevant isn’t hard—it just takes time. The key to being more relevant is to understand your customers better.

I’ve been in marketing a very long while and when I started, we spent a lot of time around customers, learning about them and their pains. Today, we don’t do that much. Instead, we run reports. We look at spreadsheets. We examine analytics. The truth is that most modern marketers don’t actually interact with customers very much anymore, and that robs us of a really important success ingredient: insights.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Smart marketers take the time to get out from behind their desks and actually interact with customers in person, or via phone, or even via email. In most companies, marketers don’t really understand customers because they almost never see customers.

The people in your company who understand customers are in sales and customer service, period. Let’s change that. Marketers have to know customers better to create marketing that is relevant enough to succeed.

Sterling Ball

My friend Sterling Ball is a master at this. He’s a modern marketer that acts like an old-school marketer. Sterling owns two companies: the Ernie Ball guitar company, and Big Poppa Smokers, which is a purveyor of barbecue equipment and supplies.

Sterling has a saying that he wants to “be so close to his customers that he can smell them.”

That sounds a little gross, but it’s a fantastic metaphorical standard to try to meet. Sterling does it through forums and communities. He has tremendously detailed and rich online communities for all of his businesses, and he uses these platforms to spend time interacting with his customers to better understand who they really are, and what they really need.

He invests the time to know them. Every marketer can benefit from greater customer understanding, if they choose to do so.

Almost no great marketing happens behind your desk. Great marketing occurs when you actually take the time to spend time with your customers and learn what they really need and what they’re really all about.

The outstanding training firm Pragmatic Marketing lives this principle. Their marketing team is required to routinely leave the office and spend time with customers offsite. It’s called the NIHITO program (Nothing Important Happens In the Office). The result of these interactions? Greater relevancy.

If you want your marketing to succeed more than it succeeds today, you must know your customers better, and that’s not going to happen looking at a laptop in your office.

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10 Incredibly Useful Video Tools for Content Marketers http://www.convinceandconvert.com/digital-marketing/video-tools-for-content-marketers/ Thu, 31 Aug 2017 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.convinceandconvert.com/?p=40903 Get the details on 10 of the most useful video tools for every step of the video production process, from ideation and creation to editing and promotion.

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10 Incredibly Useful Video Tools for Content Marketers

If you’ve been trying in vain to convince your boss now is the time to start producing video content within your marketing plan, consider bringing up that even psychologists say people are 39 percent more likely to share content distributed via video. Plus, videos make it easier for people to form emotional connections with content delivered via videos versus text, and the brain processes it 60,000 times faster.

But you don’t just need impressive stats to win over your superior. Tools are essential as well. Thanks to the list below, you can come armed with lots of ideas about not only why it’s crucial to create video-based content, but also which tools you should use to go about it.

Ideation Tools

1. ContentIdeator

This tool crawls the web to identify trending content so you can capitalize on the next big thing before competitors do. Although ContentIdeator is not specific to video alone, it allows you to filter a search, so it can look only at YouTube to see what’s most popular there.

2. Placeit

Placeit offers over 2,500 media templates—many of which are for videos—into which you can insert your logo or other image. The content is technology-themed, so if you’re thinking about making a YouTube clip about the world of tech, Placeit could help get your ideas flowing and confirm whether or not they are feasible.

Video Creation Tools

3. Wirecast

Wirecast is the go-to tool for making videos of live events such as concerts, panel discussions, and lectures as they happen. It could be a good resource if you want to charge people for access to seminars and let them tune in from afar. Send the live streams directly to platforms like Facebook Live and Twitter, using effects like transitions and animated titles to make them more engaging.

Often, great things may occur if you have a tool like Wirecast ready to capture something special. One notable example is when a vocal group sang “Hallelujah” spontaneously to honor Leonard Cohen when they learned of his passing. The video was a bit primitive because it was shot on a smartphone held in a vertical orientation, but the overall power of the footage was more noticeable than those small shortcomings.

In fewer than 12 hours after publication, people viewed the video approximately 30,000 times, and that number has grown to over eight million. Because the clip was very shareable and people related to the idea of wanting to pay tribute to Cohen, it’s not surprising the video became so popular. This case study proves making your video go viral doesn’t always require a huge production.

4. Videoshop

Maybe you want to rely on videos to show clients your products or services in action, like SpeedPro Imaging does here. Even if you don’t have a major marketing budget or lots of video-based know-how, Videoshop is a user-friendly app that helps you get great results.

Launch Videoshop and quickly make videos that feature subtitles, slow-motion effects, and more, all without going through unnecessary steps that could slow down the overall process. It’s also easy to share the finished products to social media feeds, increasing the likelihood your business will gain traction from the efforts. Videoshop also permits voiceovers. Using that feature could be helpful if you want to provide context beyond what subtitles offer.

Because it’s so easy to rely on Videoshop to make videos, you might even do as Samsung did and create two different versions of a video that were different lengths. Interestingly, Samsung got good results via video while promoting an audio-based product: a speaker. After running for two weeks, the ad boosted awareness among consumers who saw it by 25 percent. That goes to show how effectively video can show how products work, even if they don’t intuitively seem like a good fit for the video medium.

Editing Tools

5. Magisto

Although Magisto is a tool for both creating and editing, its real strength lies in editing. Powered by algorithms, it selects the best parts of your films and photos and blends them all into a new piece of video content enhanced by music, effects, and themes you’ve chosen.

Think about using Magisto if your company has held a special event, been strongly represented at a conference, or taken part in an awards ceremony, and you want to make a video that highlights the most exciting parts of that occasion. By editing videos and photos you’ve already gathered and turning them into something new, Magisto makes video creation a breeze.

6. YouTube’s Video Editor

Even if YouTube doesn’t heavily factor into your upcoming video campaign, you can still depend on YouTube’s integrated video editor to get your clip just the way you want it before going live. This Flash-based tool works directly in your browser and saves versions of your edited video on command. All the basic ways to make your video better are built into the tool, such as adding audio, still images, or titles.

Transitions can guide viewers through your video and denote the start and end of different sections. Creative Commons-licensed videos could beef up your content if the existing footage isn’t long enough or can’t delivered the desired effect.

Because the editor’s feature set is fairly limited, it’s not realistic to rely on it for a large-scale video campaign. However, consider YouTube’s tools a worthy introduction to some of the cool things that are possible with purposeful editing tools. Eventually, you might be able to use the YouTube-edited material as leverage when making the case for a more capable tool.

Promotion Tools

7. Promolta

Promolta is a self-service advertising platform for YouTube videos and Facebook campaigns. Reportedly used by more than 20,000 video marketers, it pushes your clip out to 10,000 blogs, websites, and other platforms, sometimes within an hour of creating your campaign, which must have a minimum budget of $100. For targeted results, filter your audience by characteristics like age and location, or use Promolta’s video seeding technology to figure out the countries where your creation gets the most traffic.

8. Stacker

By not promoting your video on social media, you’re missing out. Stacker makes it simple to publish posts on multiple social media accounts and receive all messages about the content via a universal inbox. There is also an automatic publishing feature that makes posts public at the best times throughout a day, improving the chances that the largest number of people possible see your video. Use the built-in report generator to study video trends and track when your video gets more engagement than usual.

9. JustReachOut

If you believe your video has something worthy to say to a broad audience, seeking press coverage is a necessary step. However, thanks to a tool called JustReachOut, doing so no longer involves hiring a publicist because you can rely on this resource to contact journalists and bloggers independently.

Plan pitches by searching for media professionals and narrowing results by keyword, niche, publication, and other parameters. An integrated tracking system lets you know if and when recipients open your pitch. Templates make it easier to speak favorably about your video, and you can even create a list of favorite journalists to contact later during an intensive campaign.

10. Circulate.it

Circulate.it taps into the power of your employees and other internal team members to share your video after you insert it into a blog post for handier sharing. The tool compiles the blog post containing the video, plus other newsworthy pieces of content spread throughout your company on a given day, and puts everything into a digest-style email.

After perusing what’s inside, recipients swiftly send their preferred pieces of content through email or post them on social media feeds. With a package that starts at $9 a month for 1,000 shares, Circulate.it is a reasonable addition to your video marketing budget.

You can’t afford to delay your video production plans any longer, and shouldn’t. These easily accessible tools get the job done and could amaze you with the kinds of results they offer. Marketers all over the world have tapped into the power of video-driven content marketing, and you can, too.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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