Content Marketing

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How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation

This article was contributed by Rukham Khan.

You’ve finally turned that business idea that you’d been dreaming about forever, into an actual product or service.

You can’t wait to get the business started.

Or maybe you’re just really passionate about a certain topic and want to share your love through a blog.

You’ve built an amazing website and just about everything is right…except there’s no traffic.

You’re scratching your head at this point, seemingly having done everything by the book but you’re still not getting any traffic or leads. There’s no need to worry though.

The answer lies in Content Curation.

According to Hubspot, 63% of companies claim that lead generation is their biggest challenge, coupled with 53% of marketers saying blog content creation is a top priority for them. So if all these companies are looking to create leads through content, there must be someone who has figured it out? Right?

Luckily there exists a strategy that substitutes the heavy resource-dependence of content creation, and also increases the number and/or quality of sales-ready leads.

Marketing Challenges

Courtesy Hubspot

Along with creating content for your blog, you’ve got to curate content to keep customers engaged.

What is Content Curation

So now that we’ve figured out that a mix both creating and curating content works best. What actually is content curation? Hootsuite provides an apt explanation:

“the process of content curation is the act of sorting through large amounts of content on the web and presenting the best posts in a meaningful and organized way. The process can include sifting, sorting, arranging, and placing found content into specific themes, and then publishing that information.”

Content Curation

Courtesy Raphaëlle RIDARCH

So basically, content curation is the process of digging the web for content relevant to your brand, selecting and posting the best content for your viewers and adding value through informing them why the content is worth their time.

Good and consistently curated content can help establish your blog as an authority on a topic. When you have credibility and authority, people will come to you to seek information. More people means more traffic and more traffic means an increase in sales leads (or ad revenue potential).

Why Content Curation is the Perfect Strategy

Content Curation Advantages

Some of the advantages of content curation are:

  • Improves your SEO: Curated Content is further indexable pages that people can find through search engines, providing more entryways to your blog/website.
  • Establishes your credibility: When you publish content that your readers engage with, it establishes trust and credibility in you as a thought leader.
  • Supports lead generation: more content means more site visits which means more potential leads.
  • Complements social media and blogs: curated content is also a great tool to keep your social media followers engaged by scheduling industry-relevant content. This facilitates social media conversations and helps you attract more followers.
  • Removes the heavy load from content creation: it can be tiresome to keep consistently producing original and relevant content, curation helps carry some of that load.

These benefits are succinctly summed up by the team at Curata

“content curation helps you deliver improved content marketing ROI, lower per-lead costs, greater efficiency, increased credibility, and all the other benefits of a robust content or ‘inbound’ marketing strategy.”

You can also save a whole lot of money by curating content and not having to hire writers to write for you.

How to Curate Content

Content Filtering

We’ve gone through the whats and the whys of content curation. Now, how do you actually curate content? And how do you make the content personal and relatable?

There are 4 main steps to content curation:

  1. Content Aggregation
  2. Content Filtering
  3. Content Distribution
  4. Content Personalization

Step 1: Aggregate Content

There are a few ways you can start collecting on the topic of your choice, you can

  • Follow influencers on social media who’re experts on the subject of your choosing
  • Use blog aggregation tools like Feedly to collect blogs. They let you view posts from various websites all under a single banner
  • Search for video content on channels like Youtube, DailyMotion, Medium and use Soundcloud to discover relevant podcasts
  • Search Goodreads for Books to research for long-form content (but don’t post or write on Books if you haven’t read them yourselves!)

These sources should get you started. Once you get the feel of collecting from these sources, you’ll have more content than you’ll know what to do with!

It’s best if you save and organize all your content candidates on an app like Evernote, Google Docs, Notability or SmartSheet.

If you’re working as a team, you can even use Asana to collect and schedule your content.

These softwares and services keep your notes, links and clippings archived and organized.

Step 2: Filter Content

You’ve scoured the web and gathered content candidates from all over. Now we sift through these candidates to choose the best content, the stuff we’re going to share.

A right-hand rule to gauging whether the content is worth publishing is to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and see if they would enjoy it.

Each piece you publish must demonstrate your interest in the topic or industry you’re posting about, it should establish thought leadership, and/or provide a solution to a specific problem in your chosen domain.

Step 3: Distribute content

After you have decided on what you’re going to share, you will be sharing your expertly curated content across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Emails, and Blogs.

The exact channel selection will depend on your marketing strategy and effectiveness of reach of each channel, a question you must ask is: is this the right platform to be engaging my audience?

You can gauge that if you know you target audience.

For example, if you’re posting content on the latest celebrity news, you can get better engagement on instagram and twitter. Similarly if you share the same content on LinkedIn, you might not get a good response as linked in mostly used for networking and business industry news.

but Email is usually a safe bet, its a universal platform used by almost any one who has a computer or a phone.

80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. Besides email subscribers are 3x more likely to share content on social media than leads who came through another channel, according to QuickSprout.

There are some great tools to help you design emails, some good options to get you going are MailMunch, Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor. These software integrations offer fully customizable themes and A/B testing, just to name a few features.

Step 4: Add a Personal Touch

Curated Post

The ‘art’ in art of content curation comes from 2 aspects.

First, it comes from practicing content curation and over time developing a keen eye and a knack for great content your audience is bound to enjoy.

Second, the art is in personalizing the content you’re sharing.

Add splashes that colorize the content and brings out your true flavor. These can be commentaries about the post, images, or they can be complete articles responses on your content of choice.

A great practitioner of content curation is Maria Popova who runs the Brain Pickings blog. She writes long-form content with detailed reviews on books and notable historic personalities.

She has 881,000 followers on Twitter, 171,000 on Instagram and a whopping 5 million fans on her Facebook page and god knows how many email list subscribers!

Her success comes from having chosen a brilliant niche to write in. She writes about the meaning of life (which let’s face it everyone is looking for) and she chooses great books and personalities to review. But what makes her content really great is her personal touch of detailed commentary that people really enjoy reading. Here’s how she herself describes how she came to be where she stands today:

“My philosophy, and the one thing I’ve been strategic and deliberate about from the beginning is reader first …”

Take a leaf out of Maria’s book and you can expect great engagement with your curated content.

Know Your Audience

Content Marketing Mistakes

By now you’re hopefully convinced to start curating yourself to drive those traffic numbers up.

But scavenging the internet for influencers, tools, and content will be useless if we don’t actually know who we’re addressing in our curated posts.

Do you really know your audience? A simple question, sure, but one that is more complex than it might seem. Most brands want to create content that reaches millions, but that may not be the right approach. Content strategy should be value over volume.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be striving for volume either, in fact, Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.

What value over volumes means is quality always comes first.

If you are putting out content that offers thin air, you can pump out in excess of 20 posts a month but they won’t mean a thing to your readers and customers.

Patrick Armitage, Director of Marketing at BlogMutt, has great advice for marketers and bloggers looking to curate content:

“Great curators build trust with their audiences and become an indispensable resource as they help to sift through online information to distribute what’s worth reading.”

And the only way to build trust with your audience is to first know who these people are. Really dig in, find out and engage your customers, monitor social media conversations, use segmentation tools, Google Analytics, SEO research…whatever it takes to assemble a complete picture of the people you’re serving.

Another strategy to figure out your consumers is to create ‘audience personas’. These personas are fictional, general qualitative representations of your ideal audience. These personas help to attract the people we want to curate for, and view them as actual humans (and not numbers) while we do it.

Some questions that you can ask to get a better image of your audience includes:

  • What jobs/titles they have
  • What skills do they possess/want to have
  • What are the challenges you can solve for them
  • What type of information do they seek online
  • What sort of content do they enjoy online

These are just some basic questions you can get started with. You can create more specific questions according to the purpose of your blog or website to create more meaningful audience personas.

You Have Great Content… Now What?

There you go, you are now absolutely ready to go out and start collecting and curating content on your own.

Fast forward a bit…

Let’s safely assume you’ve followed all the steps, you’ve found the best sources for content, you’ve figured out your distribution strategy.

You’ve even developed that touch of a professional curator, who knows what and who they’re serving. You keep on rolling out content regularly and surely.

Now what?

It’s great that you’re putting out content, but the story doesn’t end there. The big payoff comes from creating an engaged following and improving your SEO rankings.

As mentioned earlier, whatever topic you curate content for, it is in your benefit to be seen as an authority if you want to make sales or earn ad revenue, and high SEO ranking are one measure of subject authority.

When you have published great content, you need a dedicated following who you can regularly address with your messages.

These customers will receive your finely tuned content, increase visits to your website, and share with others, events that will increase your search rankings. You don’t have to collect website visitors manually though, email capture technologies like MailMunch can assist you in building your email lists.

You can convert visitors into leads through landing pages and pop-ups which are non-intrusive and captivating, and there is little to no coding involved in getting it set-up.

Start using these tips today to curate content. We would love to hear from you how your content curation journey unfolds!


About the author: Rukham Khan writes on e-commerce and email marketing topics to help people understand the industry landscape. He believes trust should be the basis for all marketing communications. In his personal time, he writes on Medium on topics ranging from music to psychedelics. Lead magnet image by VecktorKnight on Shutterstock.

How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation How to Get Traffic & Leads with Content Creation
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The Future of Content Marketing: It’s Not What You Think

future of content marketing

Have you heard the saying, “content is king?”

Well, of course, you have. But creating more content won’t necessarily get you more search traffic.

You’ve heard people like me mention stats like the average piece of content that ranks on page one of Google contains 1,890 words.

number of words

But that doesn’t mean writing in-depth content that is 1,890 words will automatically get you more search traffic. It just means that the average web page on page 1 contains that many words.

I bet you are going through the scenario below…

You keep writing content but, for some reason, you aren’t getting the amount of search traffic that you would like to be getting.

Don’t worry, I know what you are going through, and I will tell you the solution. But first, let’s go over how content marketing is changing.

Over 440 million blogs exist

The latest stat I could find on the web is that there are currently 440 million blogs.

But if you consider Medium and Tumblr (and other similar sites), that number is surely over a billion because just Tumblr alone has over 400 million blogs.

So, what does that mean for you?

Because there are so many blogs, it’s going to be hard to drive awareness.

There are roughly 7.5 billion people on this earth and the number of blogs is growing faster than the population. So, if you assume there are roughly 1 billion blogs, that means there is one blog for every 7 and a half people.

That’s way too many blogs!

So why should someone read yours instead of the others?

Why doesn’t content marketing work as well as it used to?

Because there are so many blogs, you have tons of competition.

Whatever you are thinking of blogging about, the chances are there is already someone (or tons of people!) already blogging about it. Seriously!

Even if you are planning to write about news and current events, the chances are some other blog is going to beat you to the story… even if it is by an hour (or a few minutes).

With there only being so many popular keywords that people search for, there are now more websites competing to reach the top of the rankings.

Currently, Ubersuggest is tracking 619,718,788 keywords globally. During the last 30 days, only 24,593,402 of them generated over 10,000 searches.

And no matter what popular term you are going after, you are going to have a lot of competition.

For example, I rank on page 1 for the term “SEO” (at least in the United States). But I am competing with a lot of sites… 581 million to be exact!

seo serp

If you want to go after one of those 24,593,402 keywords, you are going to face a lot of competition.

Sure, you can also get a lot of traffic from long-tail phrases, but even those are getting more competitive over time.

How does your content strategy need to change?

As I mentioned above, whatever you are writing about, chances are someone is already writing about it.

When I started my first blog, Pronet Advertising (which no longer exists), the first post I wrote was called, “Winning the Search Engine Marketing War.” It was 412 words long, contained no images, and had no links. But that was way back in 2005 and content marketing was much different back then.

If I published it today, it would do terrible. Back then I didn’t have a personal brand, no one knew who I was, and the post still did pretty well.

Heck, the standard social channels like Facebook weren’t even being used by marketers.

Do you want to know why it did well? Because it was new.

Back then, people never read a post about winning the search engine marketing war. It was fresh and people wanted to know more. The fact that it was short didn’t matter.

Now, when you publish new content, there is a good chance that people have already read something similar. Because of that, why would they want to link to your piece or even share it?

Even worse, only 8 out of 10 people read headlines but only 2 out of 10 will click through. That means people feel your content isn’t interesting or that they already know a lot about the subject matter of your content.

In other words, if you don’t write something new and amazing, it won’t do well.

It doesn’t matter if you made your content 1,890 words, bought some social shares, or weaseled your way into a few backlinks… no one will care if it isn’t something original and unique.

Just look at the search phrase “SEO tips.” There are 3,630,000 web pages competing for that term.

seo tips

And almost everyone who ranks for that term is writing about the same old stuff. The only difference is how many tips they are including in their article.

seo tips content

How do you write new content that’s fresh?

You need to share life experiences. Your life is unique. If you can tie your personal experiences into your content, you’ll do much better.

If I look at my most popular posts on NeilPatel.com over the last 12 months, here they are in order:

  • My New SEO Strategy: Blog Less, Spend More on Technology
  • My New SEO Tool: Ubersuggest 2.0
  • Everything I Taught You About SEO Was Wrong
  • We Analyzed 5,860,631,392 Articles From 64 Countries. Here’s What Facebook Loves!
  • I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand
  • The Most Vital SEO Strategy I Learned Came From a Google Employee
  • Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You
  • The Advanced SEO Formula That Helped Me Rank For 477,000 Keywords

Do you notice a pattern?

They aren’t generic posts like “10 ways to double your search traffic” or “how to rank on Google”… each post contains something new… which you already know.

But what else?

If you look at all of those posts, I wrote them more recently.

They don’t rank as high on Google compared to some of the posts I wrote earlier this year (or in previous years), yet they are still the most popular ones because they are unique.

Whether it is data that people haven’t seen before or something based on a personal experience that people can learn from, the articles that are unique and can only be written by you will perform the best.

In other words, you have to be original to get loved. Not just by Google, but by people.

So how do you write unique content that contains data and has personalized stories?

Here are some ideas:

Buzzsumo

If you put in a keyword related to your industry, it will show you all of the popular posts.

buzzsumo

Avoid writing another “copycat” article. If you have a unique perspective on any one of those topics and it is something that the industry hasn’t seen, there is a good chance it will do well.

But it can’t be another copycat article that talks about the same old things that have been talked about a thousand times before.

My favorite part about Buzzsumo is that it will show you what’s popular during certain time frames.

You can adjust your search to the last month, year, 5 years, or any time range to see how people’s preferences have changed over time.

time filter

By using this feature, you will get a better understanding of where the market is moving and how you need to adapt.

Google Trends

This simple tool shows you what’s hot right now. Literally at this very second.

trends

You can even filter the real-time trends per industry.

trend category

Or you can see what’s been popular for the day as well as the number of searches performed.

daily trends

And, of course, you can use Google Trends for any country. The above screenshots are for the United States.

If you have a unique perspective on any of these trends or data, you should consider riding the wave and creating a blog post as soon as possible.

Beware, a lot of people use this tactic and the majority of the traffic will be taken up by popular news sites. But if you have a personal experience or data related to the trend or topic then you can do really well.

SurveyMonkey

If you already have some readers, the easiest way to come up with unique topic ideas that they will love is to just ask them for advice.

For example, why not create a free survey using SurveyMonkey and ask your readers questions like “what would you like me to blog about” or “what would you like to learn” or “what’s the biggest problem I can help you solve?”

Asking questions like these ones should give you great ideas.

When surveying, make sure you get over 30 responses. The more the better because you can use their text analysis feature to see what the majority of your readers are interested in.

text analysis

Problogger Job Board

If you are interested in using data and research within your posts to make them unique, consider hiring someone from the Problogger Job Board.

That’s what I do.

If you already have data, you can find someone on Problogger to help crunch everything and give you golden nuggets for your post.

Or if you don’t, they can gather research from all over the web and come up with something unique.

I found some researchers that are amazing at what they do. They hit up the tool companies within my space, ask them for data, and then come up with interesting insights that deliver value to my readers.

In exchange, the tool companies get free press, which helps them and, in most cases, they will also share and promote your post.

A good example of this is the post I wrote on Hummingbird. It has a ton of unique data points, and I mentioned the companies that helped me gather the data.

But other people have generic content and do well… 

Yes, there are tons of blogs with generic content that rank well. But here is the thing, their content is either old, in which they were one of the firsts to cover the topic, or they have high authority.

When high authority sites like Huffington Post and Entrepreneur write generic content, it ranks because they already have lots of brand queries, backlinks, and social shares.

If you have over 20,000 brand queries per month (you can see how many you have in Google Search Console)…

brand queries

…and you have also have a domain authority of over 60, you’ll see some results if you write generic content.

I still don’t recommend going the generic route (a lesson I have learned from my own personal experience), but if that’s what you want then make sure you at least meet those rough guidelines.

At least that is what I found you need for the most competitive industries going after the English market.

If you don’t have the authority or any brand queries, you can still do well with generic “copycat” content, but you would have to focus on international regions.

There is way too much content for Google to choose from in English. But that’s not the case in Hindi or Portuguese.

If you are open to expanding internationally, follow the tips in this post as it will help you pick the right regions to tackle first.

Conclusion

I hope I didn’t discourage you from leveraging content marketing. It’s still an amazing tactic that has helped me generate 1,864,246 unique visitors a month.

traffic

Sure, I’ve been doing this for some years now, but NeilPatel.com is one of the newer search blogs compared to sites like Moz or Search Engine Land yet I was still able to do well. This is especially true over the last year where I saw most of my growth.

And the big strategy I shifted towards was to start writing personalized content… content that contains my life experiences and stories that can’t be copied or created anywhere else.

Even if you are new to your industry, you can still reference other people’s experiences or tie in lessons you learned from your past as some of those things are still relevant today.

If you can’t do that, resort to using data. People love reading about new trends and strategies as long as you have new data to back up your claims.

So, are you going to write fresh, new content versus regurgitating the same old information again?

The post The Future of Content Marketing: It’s Not What You Think appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Definitive Guide to Writing a Headline that Doesn’t Suck (Tips, Tactics & Tools Included)

If I Had to Start a Blog From Scratch, I Would…

coastal media brand

You’ve seen me and thousands of other marketers talk about how to make a blog popular. But if you don’t set up your blog correctly, you won’t do well no matter what kind of marketing you do.

And no, I am not talking about the technical setup of your blog. I am talking about the foundation. From what you are blogging about, to how you structure your content… there are a lot of basics people get wrong.

And if you get them wrong, it’s going to be that much harder to get more traffic (and, more importantly, monetize the traffic).

So, if I had to start a blog from scratch again, here are the principles I would follow before even writing my first blog post:

Principle #1: Pick a big enough niche

Unless you are well funded, you have to pick a niche. It’s too hard to compete on a broad level with sites like Huffington Post and Business Insider. They are well funded and are able to produce huge amounts of content from contributors big and small.

And if your niche is too small, it will be hard for you to grow your traffic and monetize your blog as there just won’t be enough people interested in what you are blogging about.

When trying to find a niche, use Google Trends. Make sure to pick a niche that is bigger than “digital marketing” but smaller than “nutrition.”

Principle #2: Don’t stick with one platform

I know I’ve told you that you need to use WordPress as your blogging platform, but it shouldn’t stop there. Why not also use Medium, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and even Facebook?

These are all platforms where you can repurpose your content.

Blogging is competitive, so you’ll need to push your content out on as many platforms to ensure that you’ll get the most eyeballs.

Setting up social accounts across the different platforms is really important. Make sure the branding and imagery are the same across all of them and try to generate some followers by following these steps so that when you start producing unique content you’ll have places to promote.

Principle #3: Control your destiny

Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content. But that doesn’t mean you should just post your content on every platform without thinking about it.

The only platform that doesn’t have an algorithm that you need to worry about is your own blog. Facebook, Medium, Tumblr, and LinkedIn all have algorithms you can’t fully control.

Always link back out to your site when posting on these other platforms. The more people you can get back to your site, the better chance you will have of growing your traffic and monetizing.

Other platforms like Facebook don’t make it easy for you to generate revenue if you keep your readers on their platform.

Principle #4: Blogging is both about “you” and “I”

Blogging is something that is supposed to be informal. No one wants to read an essay or a white paper.

People want to read stories. They want to be involved in a conversation, and the easiest way to do this is to use the words “you” and “I” within your blog posts.

This one simple change will help you build a deeper connection with your readers. A deeper connection means better monetization in the future.

Principle #5: Always ask questions

At the end of every blog post, always ask a question. If you don’t ask a question, people won’t know what to do next.

By asking a question, a portion of your readers will answer it by leaving a comment. This will increase engagement, which again will make monetization easier in the long run.

Principle #6: You have to stand out

There are over a billion blogs on the web, and that number is continually rising. This just means blogging is going to get even more competitive over time.

So how do you stand out in a crowded marketplace?

You have to go above and beyond. Sadly, there is no single answer as every industry is different, but typically infographics, visuals, and doing the opposite of everyone else in your space will help you stand out.

For example, if everyone in your space writes 1,000-word blog posts, test out writing 10,000-word posts. Or if everyone is using text-based content, test out visual based content like infographics or video.

Principle #7: Your content needs to be portable

People are always on the go these days. Your content needs to be easy to digest.

And no, I am not talking about making your content mobile compatible or leveraging AMP framework (although those are good ideas). I am talking about making your content portable.

For example, creating video-based content or audio-based content (podcasts) are simple ways to make your content portable. For example, it is easier to watch video-based content on your mobile phone when on the bus or listen to podcasts while you are driving.

Principle #8: Content isn’t king unless it’s good

You’ve heard the saying that content is king. But is it really?

The Washington Post publishes over 500 pieces of content per day. The Wall Street Journal is at 240, the New York Times is at 230, and Buzzfeed is around 222.

The list keeps going on and on as there are over 2 million blog posts published daily.

In other words, writing mediocre content isn’t good enough. It won’t do well and you will just be wasting time. So, don’t write content unless it is really, really, really good.

Principle #9: You have to produce quality and quantity

It’s sad, but it is true. Not only does your content have to be amazing, but you have to publish amazing content in quantity.

Just because you are writing an amazing blog post, it doesn’t mean you will do well. Content marketing is a hit or miss game in which your posts will do well or they won’t. And in most cases, your content won’t do as well as you want no matter how good you are at marketing.

To increase your odds of success, you need to be willing to produce amazing content in quantity.

Principle #10: Your blog isn’t always the best place to blog

Especially early on, you need to save your best content for other blogs. From industry blogs to large sites like Entrepreneur and Business Insider… consider placing your best content elsewhere.

Once you’ve been blogging for a year and you have built up an audience, you’ll want to keep your best content for yourself. But in the beginning, placing your best content on more popular blogs will help you increase your brand recognition and audience.

If you aren’t sure on how to craft a guest posting proposal, read this.

Principle #11: Useful content beats viral content

We all dream about viral content, but it’s not easy to produce.

The chances of your content going viral are slim to none. And when your content goes viral it will die down… the question just becomes when.

Instead of focusing on creating viral content (when you have less than a 1% chance of producing it), focus on creating useful content. Useful content tends to be evergreen, which means it can generate steady traffic over time.

Principle #12: It’s easier to build a personal blog than a corporate one

I know I’ve mentioned that I wouldn’t build a personal brand if I started all over again, and I wouldn’t.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leverage one. People connect with people more than they connect with corporate brands.

It’s not like you have conversations with Coca-Cola or Nike like you have with a friend.

If you want your blog to be popular faster then go with a personal brand. If you want to build something big and potentially even sell it one day, consider a corporate brand for your blog (even though it will take longer for it become popular).

Principle #13: A blog won’t work without a community

Blogging is about creating conversations. But without readers and community, there is no conversation.

It would just be you talking…

For this reason, you can’t expect to build a popular blog without building up your social profiles.

From running Facebook and Twitter ads, to manually growing your follower counts, you need to focus on your social media game.

The bigger your social following the more people you’ll have to drive to your blog, and the easier it will be to create a community.

Principle #14: No man is an island

As you are building up a community, people will engage with you through comments.

If you don’t respond to every comment, then your community will slowly die down.

Just think of it this way… if you continually talked to someone and they ignored you each and every time, what would you do? Eventually, you would stop talking to them.

Don’t be rude to your community, help them out. Make sure you respond to each and every comment. Not just on your blog, but even when people comment on your social profiles, make sure you respond back.

Principle #15: People don’t read, they skim

Most of the people that come to your website won’t read. Blogs tend to have an average time on site of less than 1 minute.

There is no way your average visitor is going to read your 2,000-word blog post in under a minute. That means people skim.

Make sure you write your content with the assumption that people skim. From leveraging headings to even writing a conclusion at the end of each post, this will help your readers get value out of your content even when they don’t fully read it.

Principle #16: It’s all about the headline

Some people spend 80% of their time writing the content and only 20% promoting it. Others spend 80% on marketing and 20% on the content creation. And some spend 50% of their time writing and 50% promoting.

But what about the headline? Why don’t people spend time crafting and testing amazing headlines?

What most people don’t know is that 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will click through and read the rest. So focus on creating amazing headlines or else you won’t get tons of traffic.

Principle #17: Reveal your cards, all of them

Because the blogosphere is competitive, you have no choice but to reveal your cards. From your secrets to the “good stuff”… you’ll have to share it all.

If you don’t share it, you won’t be giving people a reason to read your blog over the billion other ones out there.

When revealing your cards, make sure you do it early on in each blog post. It is a great way to hook your readers and to get them to read the rest of your content.

Principle #18: Consistency will make or break you

When you continually blog, do you know what happens? Your traffic typically stays flat or slowly goes up.

But when you stop or take a break, your traffic will tank. And then when you start up again, your traffic won’t just go back to where it was, you’ll have to fight to gain your traffic back.

I once took a month break from blogging and it took me 3 months to recover my traffic. Literally 3 months.

Don’t start a blog unless you are willing to be consistent. Not just for a few months or a year, but I am talking years (3 plus).

Principle #19: Don’t ever rely on 1 traffic channel

You hear blogs exploding with Facebook traffic or Google traffic. But do you know what happens when those sites change their algorithms?

Your traffic drops.

It’s just a question of when, so expect your traffic to drop. Don’t rely on only one traffic channel.

Before you write your first post, think about which channels you are going to leverage for traffic generation. You need to have an omnichannel approach in which you are leveraging all of the feasible channels out there that work for your niche.

Principle #20: Don’t forget about Google

You should always write for humans and not search engines. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore Google.

Whatever you are considering writing about, make sure you do some basic keyword research. Head over to Ubersuggest first. Then type in a few keywords related to your article and it will show you a list of other popular phrases.

If they are relevant, make sure you blend them into your content.

This one simple thing will help ensure that your content gets the most search traffic that it can possibly generate.

Principle #21: Be willing to kill your baby

When you start a blog, people only talk about writing and marketing. But as your blog gets older your responsibilities will grow.

One of them is the willingness to kill some of your content.

Not all of your content will be relevant a year or two from now. For example, if you write about Vine, which was a company Twitter bought and then shut down, it won’t be relevant anymore. Especially if the article focuses on “Vine marketing tips.”

Eventually, you want to delete it. There is no point in keeping useless content on your blog.

Principle #22: You can’t set it and forget it

Similar to killing some of your irrelevant content, you’ll also have to update your older content.

As your content gets outdated, you’ll want to keep it fresh or people will find that it’s useless and bounce away.

This, in turn, will screw up your user metrics (bounce rate, time on site, page views per visitor) and reduce your credibility and traffic.

If you are going to blog, be willing to put resources into updating your older content as well. It’s something that most bloggers don’t take into account when starting. I have started to embrace this strategy as I have thousands of articles on this blog and a lot of them are older and need updating. I have already started with the updating process and will focus a lot of 2019 on keeping my content as fresh as possible.

Principle #23: People won’t come back to your blog unless you ask them to

The best visitors are repeat visitors. They are more likely to comment, link to your site, share your content on the social web, and convert into a customer.

No matter how good your content is, people won’t just come back unless you ask them to.

The easiest way to do this is through emails and push notifications.

By using tools like Hello Bar, you can easily collect emails and send out a blast every time you have a new post. And tools like Subscribers will allow you to build a push notification list.

Don’t start a blog without building an email list or push notification list. You’ll find that people who opt-in to them are much more likely to convert into customers. So, build this from day 1.

Principle #24: Don’t wait too long to monetize

A lot of bloggers (including me) have made this mistake. We all wait till we have tons of traffic to monetize. But if you go years before trying to monetize, people will assume everything on your blog is free.

In other words, you are training your readers that they shouldn’t pay for anything. And that’s fine if you have no plan to sell anything.

But you should train them early on that not everything is free. This will make your revenue numbers better as you grow.

Principle #25: Have multiple monetization strategies

You can’t rely on only one monetization strategy such as affiliate marketing or AdSense. Sometimes things happen that aren’t in your control such as an offer gets shut down or AdSense bans you and they don’t give you a reason.

Not only is it a safer strategy to have multiple monetization methods you’ll also make more money.

For example, some people won’t click on ads, while others may prefer buying an e-book from you.

When you start your blog, think about all of the monetization methods you want to try out and plan out how you are going to test them out (as not all of them will work).

Principle #26: Always include a personal touch

If you can’t write with a personal touch, then don’t write. Whatever you decide to blog about, make sure you can tie in a personal story.

People prefer reading content that has stories versus content with just facts and data.

If you don’t have personal stories that you can tie in, that means you are probably blogging on the wrong subject.

Principle #27: Be willing to pay the price

Blogging isn’t easy. It’s no longer a hobby where you can just write whenever you want and do well.

If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to put in the time and energy. And if you can’t, then you have to be willing to put in money.

If you don’t then you won’t do well, no matter how brilliant of a writer or marketer you are.

Really think about if you are willing to put in hours each day into making your blog successful. And are you willing to do that for a few years? Or are you willing to hire someone from day 1 to help out?

This isn’t a principle you need to take lightly, and it is the biggest reason most bloggers don’t make it.

Conclusion

Everyone talks about blogging from a tactical standpoint. From how you write content to even how to market it, but very few people talk about strategy.

If you don’t follow the above principles, you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and creating a blog that doesn’t get any traction.

And if you happen to be lucky to gain visitors without taking into account the above principles, you’ll find that they won’t convert into customers.

So what other principles should bloggers follow? Just leave a comment below with some of the principles you follow.

The post If I Had to Start a Blog From Scratch, I Would… appeared first on Neil Patel.

Marketer Cheats his Field With Design - Creates 15 Logos in 15 Da...

How to Win at Email Design

Below is an interview with Mike Smith, the art director for Aweber (the email marketing service I use for JUST Creative) and he has answered a few common questions on email design.

On a side note, if you’ve designed a great email newsletter, enter it into EmailMonks’ free newsletter competition and win your share of $10k in prizes.

1. How can using a consistent template build brand trust?

Templates are beneficial for many reasons, but specific to your customers, a consistent template design helps to establish expectations. A consistent template makes the cognitive load on subscribers lighter because they see a recognizable structure and aesthetic. This minor mental trigger builds a subconscious trust with readers which goes a long way to making your brand stronger.

2. What are the best colors and placements for CTAs in emails?

The best way to know how subscribers will respond is through testing, but here are some tips we’ve learned with our own testing. If you can place a link or button just under a header image or headline we’ve seen marked increases in the click through.

When it comes to color, matching your brand is important but so is contrast. The higher the contrast between a button and the background it sits on the more actionable it will appear.

3. How much do I really need to change on the template to make it unique?

Aweber Email Template

The templates in your email provider have been designed to make your life easier. If you only change the colors and logo that is sufficient enough to make a well designed email. No need to go crazy with changing all the elements just to “make it your own”.

The templates are also created to be flexible so adding additional images and content should be easy to make work within the constraints the email designer created for that specific template.

4. Should my template match my website?

Aweber Website vs Email

It’s a big challenge to match an email and web experience 1 to 1. The use cases for each are quite different so there isn’t a point in beating yourself up to make it perfectly match. The important elements of your site–fonts, colors, logos, image styles– are enough to make the two coexist.

Think about your email in the way that old school correspondence kits were designed. Your business card and letterhead don’t look identical, because they have different purposes. But they did obviously live as part of the same brand. That is the same logic that applies to a website and email template, similar but designed with the medium’s intent in mind.

5. Should design or content come first when thinking about creating an email newsletter?

A flexible email template design should allow for all types of content.

6. What are fun and unique ways to make your email stand out from other brands?

Let your personality shine! This doesn’t have to be through witty copy or flashy GIFs but it could be. Whatever you do make it true to you. Every person and brand are a unique mix of their history, their convictions, and their personality. Allow that to come through in your design decision making, don’t focus on “being different”.

7. What’s the number one mistake you see marketers make in email designs?

Don't be fancy

Trying to be fancy. Clip art images, crazy fonts or font colors, or whacky layouts aren’t necessary. Drive home the value every time you send an email and subscribers will want to hear from you. Don’t put a bunch of silly distractions in the way of getting to the value!

Win at Email Design: Video Series

Mike Smith has been working on a series of videos about email design. Below is the first video which teaches you how to design an awesome welcome email, focusing on the principles of brand aesthetics, setting expectations and showing humanity.

Enjoy!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMceqQMoac8&w=560&h=315]

How to Win at Email Design How to Win at Email Design How to Win at Email Design How to Win at Email Design How to Win at Email Design How to Win at Email Design
The Definitive Guide to Writing a Headline that Doesn’t Suck (Tips, Tactics & Tools Included)

Why Your Best Blog Posts are Also the Oldest (And How to Get More Out of Them)

update old blog postsJust like you regularly clean your home, you should regularly clean up your old content.

Why? Because old content brings in tons of website traffic.

HubSpot almost tripled the number of leads they generated on a monthly basis by optimizing old blog posts.

Plus, the company’s organic traffic increased by 106% after they updated older content:

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Those are huge results. And it takes a lot less effort than writing new blog posts.

Old content can easily become new again. All it takes is a bit of creativity and cleanup.

If you have any blog content on your site, a maintenance plan and schedule is essential for keeping all of your hard work relevant.

Most people obsess over sharing their brand new content to acquire traffic or convert leads.

But, if you play your cards right, you’ll find the greatest amount of success with a post after it’s been online for several months.

In this article, I’m going to tell you exactly why (and how) I keep my old blog posts relevant so that you can see more organic traffic, too.

Why should you care about old blog posts?

There are countless reasons why you should care about your old blog posts, but one of the biggest reasons is that Google likes fresh content.

Google displays dates right on their SERPs to show users when a piece of content was last updated.

Therefore, if you update older posts, Google will show the date you last changed a blog post on the results pages rather than the original post date.

This means that you can benefit from higher click-through rates, traffic, and more.

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Editing your old posts also prevents them from adding to the bounce rate of your website.

Since you’ll be adding relevant images, links, and information, readers will be less likely to click away.

Bounce rates, on average, are already pretty high for most sites. Content websites have the second highest bounce rate in comparison to other web pages.

Only landing pages have higher bounce rates than content websites. So you need to do everything you can to keep them low.

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It’s easy to upload a blog post and forget about it. But that’s the last thing you want to do.

Brian Dean of Backlinko did a simple content relaunch of the blog post below and saw huge results:

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In just two weeks, the organic search engine traffic for that page increased by a whopping 260.7%.

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The page also saw a massive increase in traffic from other blogs and social media:

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This increase in traffic led to tons of backlinks.

More backlinks led to higher search rankings.

And higher search rankings led to even more traffic and backlinks.

For example, my case study on white hat SEO is on the first page of Google’s SERP when you search “White hat SEO.”

That’s largely because I keep all of my content updated, evergreen, and as timeless as possible.

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Poorly managed content certainly limits your brand’s potential, but it can do even worse damage. Outdated posts could be hurting your reputation, costing you customers, and decreasing your revenue.

If your customers find outdated posts on your site, they’re far less likely to trust you. First impressions are lasting ones.

Your blog could even get you into legal trouble, depending on your industry, if you’re sharing outdated information with trusting customers. And you don’t want that.

It’s expensive and time-consuming and it makes your company look bad to the public.

Old blog posts are also bad for SEO, which I’ll tell you more about later on in this post. Search engines aren’t a fan of content that isn’t high-quality.

There’s really no excuse for not updating old posts.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDuL4N1Gi5g?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Tweaking an old post takes far less time than writing something new, you’ll boost the quality of your blog, and your post will be easy to promote on social media.

If your old post already has some authority, you can almost guarantee that it will rank higher for searches after you spend some time updating it.

Basically, old posts are bad if you let them continue to be “old.” They are extremely beneficial if you know how to update or recycle them correctly.

All it takes is some quick planning, refreshing, and promoting. Here’s how to make old blog posts relevant again (and keep them that way).

Decide which posts to update

The first step to update old content is to pick which posts need to be updated.

Review old posts every week, month, or quarter to decide which content needs revamping.

Set a timetable that works best for you and your company. Pick posts by checking out Google Analytics.

Find posts with high and low page views. You can refresh underperforming posts to gain more views or you can harness the power of an article that’s already popular by updating it regularly.

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You may even want to consider deleting blogs with low page views if you can’t make the topic relevant again.

Check all incoming links on old posts and evaluate whether they’re still high-quality, timely, and relevant.

Conserve these posts. They have valuable backlinks that you don’t ever want to lose.

Use a backlink checker, like Monitor Backlinks, to easily identify and keep track of these articles.

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Never delete a post with high-quality backlinks. Always recycle them.

Only delete a post if it’s damaging to your overall reputation as a brand.

You should also run some search tests on your blog to see if current keywords are bringing up your posts.

Search trends are always evolving and changing. Old blog posts might show up in newly-trending search phrases, making them excellent candidates to refresh and reshare.

Check Google trends to find and compare keywords over time.

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The next step is to update your content as a whole.

Update content

Start your updates by checking and correcting references to people or public figures who have changed occupations, passed away, retired, or become irrelevant.

Delete any mentions of businesses or organizations that no longer exist or that could be problematic to mention.

Update any old references to popular culture that may have been trending at the time you wrote the article but aren’t anymore.

For example, a post with a joke about fidget spinners might be funny in 2017, but it probably isn’t a good reference to keep in a blog post years later.

Unless, of course, the fidget spinners defy previous trends and remain popular.

People won’t understand your humor if the content isn’t relevant anymore, and you’ll give away the age of the article with an outdated reference.

Take out any mentions of time — such as “It’s been one year since…” — so that events are referenced based on their actual year of occurrence instead.

Say “In 2016…” rather than “One year ago…”

Change present-tense references to past tense if needed. It’s also important to let people know you’ve updated the post with a small blurb at the beginning or end of the blog.

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Be sure to add new information where it’s necessary and always focus on making content evergreen.

Keep the fundamentals of a post the same and make sure that the core focus of your subject matter won’t be outdated too soon.

Take out any mention of plugins that are now outdated, for example, and remove dead links.

Avoid social trends where you can, and don’t use memes or fads that could be potentially embarrassing or a dead giveaway of a post’s age in just a year or two.

Another important thing to update is the length of your post. Back in the day, you could get away with sharing brief blog posts.

But now, Google loves long ones. Lengthen your posts where you can with useful information.

You should also proofread your blog post and fix any spelling or grammar mistakes. Run your article through Grammarly to easily identify and correct errors.

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All you have to do is copy and paste your text into Grammarly, and the site will give you suggestions for improving punctuation, word choice, spelling, and more.

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Once you’ve proofread, make sure you’ve laid out everything in a way that boosts readability.

Smaller chunks of text are best. Make sure that paragraphs aren’t a huge block of 20 sentences. Instead, keep paragraphs short.

This makes it easier for readers to scan your content.

You should also add some high-quality images and update any outdated ones.

Add branded images

If you’ve been blogging for a long time, it’s probably true that your site’s overall feel and appearance has changed.

I know mine has.

Be sure to update outdated images on your blog posts and add high-quality photos, like this one on my site.

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You can create tons of great images on your own by using a tool like Canva. They’ve got an entire section of templates to choose from for blogging and e-books.

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Once you pick a template, add elements like shapes, icons, or illustrations. You can even add text or upload your own images rather than using Canva’s photos.

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If your site has screenshots from other web pages or software that are outdated, you should also update those to keep your references fresh.

Be sure to update old keywords or add new ones in next.

Add or update keywords

When it comes to SEO, keywords are incredibly important. You can’t always rank for the best ones, but they still belong in your content.

Keywords give people a sense of what your post is about, and these are the words that people might type into Google’s search bar to locate your blog post.

That’s why you should identify keywords and then repeat them a few times in the meat of your content.

This is a really easy way to boost your rankings and increase traffic. You’ve probably already used keywords in past blog posts, but you should always update them as needed.

An awesome tool to help you prioritize keywords is Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

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An old keyword that you might have prioritized in the past could be too general now, meaning you’d be competing with tons of other blogs to rank for it.

Moz will show you how often a keyword is used each month, how difficult it is to rank for, the organic CTR it brings, and what its priority is.

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The tool also gives a SERP analysis and several keyword suggestions that might be easier to rank for.

It’s important to link to new posts when you update old ones, too.

Link to other posts

One of my favorite things to do when blogging is to link to my other content as often as I can.

Here’s an example of where I did this in my post, “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Blog Posts That Rank in Google’s Top 10.”

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This provides readers with insightful information on a topic I mentioned and it’s also an easy way to boost traffic.

Here’s where the link in the image above will take you:

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It’s an entire article about referral traffic.

Your readers will appreciate that you’ve linked resources for them that are just one click away.

If you end up having to completely delete a post for any reason, 301 redirect the URL of the old post to the URL of a new one on the topic.

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Be sure to make the titles and links in your post SEO friendly, too.

Make it SEO friendly

The title of your post is one of the most important factors that contribute to your SEO.

If you want to rank higher, then add keywords right in the title.

The best way to rework old titles is to think of what a person might search for to find your blog post. Then, just add it to the title.

Changing the URL, like we just talked about, to include the keyword will give your post a higher chance of ranking for the keyword you’ve chosen.

For example, when you type in “how to rank higher,” the number one Google suggestion is “how to rank higher on google.”

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One of my articles shows up on the first page for this search query.

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Its URL is https://neilpatel.com/blog/improve-google-rankings-without-getting-penalized/.

Since this post ranks pretty high, I don’t plan on changing its web address anytime soon. If I ever do, I’ll lose any backlinks that link to this page unless I use a 301 redirect.

Not only is this bad for my website since I’ll lose the authority I once had, but it also hands rankings to my competitors.

This is bad for SEO. Don’t do it.

Deleting spam comments is another quick trick for keeping your old posts relevant.

Delete spam comments

Have you ever read a great blog post and then scrolled down to the comments section only to see tons of spam comments?

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I know I have. There’s nothing I hate seeing more than spammy comments with potentially dangerous links in them.

Delete any spam comments from your blog posts that are decreasing your credibility and making your site look cluttered and messy.

A good, engaging comments section can boost your reputation and relevancy in no time.

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You can also change the comments section of your site to require you to approve comments before they go live, which can help keep spam off your site.

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Once you’ve followed these steps, it’s time to republish your post and promote it.

Republish and promote the post

One of the most effective things you can do for an old blog post (once you’ve updated it, of course) is republish it on your homepage.

It will look like a fresh, brand new blog post.

Then, just promote it like you would with any new content.

Reshare it on social media by using a plugin like Revive Old Post.

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You’ll send new visitors to the blog post each time you share it on social media, meaning you’ll get more exposure.

And send out an email about the updated post to everyone on your mailing list like you would for a brand new blog post.

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You could even send out emails to those who commented on your blog post to let them know that you’ve updated it.

If they were intrigued by your content enough to comment on the original post, they’d probably be interested in checking out the updated version.

Conclusion

You should constantly be revising, updating, and cleaning up old content to keep it relevant.

It boosts your organic traffic like crazy and it can help you generate leads a lot quicker than writing a new blog post can.

Old content doesn’t have to stay old. All it takes is a few tweaks to make something new, interesting, and fresh.

Start out by deciding which posts you need to update.

Then, begin updating your content. Delete outdated links and information and add updated screenshots and images.

Delete any photos that are low-quality or low-resolution.

Add keywords that are currently trending and update old keywords to match with more effective ones.

Make your links and titles SEO friendly, and always delete old spam comments.

Then, republish your new (old) post and promote it like you would any other piece of new content.

That’s it!

How do you go about updating your old content?

The post Why Your Best Blog Posts are Also the Oldest (And How to Get More Out of Them) appeared first on Neil Patel.

The Definitive Guide to Writing a Headline that Doesn’t Suck (Tips, Tactics & Tools Included)

The Definitive Guide to Writing a Headline that Doesn’t Suck (Tips, Tactics & Tools Included)

 

write better headlines

Headlines are the biggest factor that determines whether someone clicks on your content or your competitor’s.

If your headline isn’t up to your audience’s standards or doesn’t pique their attention, you can kiss that click goodbye.

Headlines have the power to drive more traffic to your site and your blog posts.

But they also have to power to take traffic away.

According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 searchers will read headline copy before clicking a post, but only 2 out of 10 will actually read the post.

That means that your headline is critical for grabbing attention and keeping it.

Keeping people around to read your content is tough.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b77fLPZ-GBI?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

If you have a bad headline, you risk losing the precious traffic that you need for your business to grow and seeing it bounce to another site.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to turn your headlines into click magnets that drive tons of traffic.

And you can use specific tools, tricks, tips, and tactics to do it fast, too.

In fact, I used these exact tactics to increase my conversion rate on Kissmetrics by 40%.

Here’s the definitive guide to writing a headline that doesn’t suck.

Use a headline generator for inspiration

If you lack the inspiration or the willpower that it takes to create dozens upon dozens of headline ideas for content, then look no further.

Tons of headline generators exist online to help content marketers create headline ideas fast.

If you simply don’t have enough time or patience for crafting original headlines, these can be great tools for giving inspiration.

Now, I’ll say this clearly:

These shouldn’t be your one-stop shop for blog headlines.

They just aren’t always good enough to take at face value without tweaking.

These should only serve as a first step in generating some ideas that you might have never thought of.

Think of them as inspiration machines.

It’s your duty to change these headlines to make them even better and improve upon their weak points.

With that in mind, let’s dive into some tools.

My favorite one is the Content Idea Generator by Portent:

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All you do here is type in your keyword and hit the refresh button to start pulling up some ideas.

For example, I typed in “Instagram hacks” and got some pretty decent ideas after a few refreshes of the tool:

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This title above that it generated is pretty good when it comes to headline generators.

18 Problems With Instagram Hacks.

The reason I love this title so much is that it goes against the grain.

You’d normally expect to see a title like this:

XX Instagram Hacks….etc.

Instead, you flip the script, go against the grain, and provide a contrarian viewpoint on the subject.

You make people question what they thought they knew, almost forcing them to click and see more.

This is pretty impressive for a standard idea generator.

Next, I tried to find headlines for “content marketing” as my keyword, and I found a similar style:

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Why Content Marketing is Killing You.

Now, I’d probably adjust this headline a bit to be more specific, like:

Why Content Marketing is Killing Your ROI

But here’s the point:

These headlines are amazing for a free tool that you can use in seconds.

Again, it provides a viewpoint that goes against the norm. I mean, content marketing is king in terms of organic traffic, right?

This headline makes people question that.

Another outstanding tool is HubSpot’s Topic Idea Generator.

It works in the same fashion as the tool above. Simply type in your keyword and generate new ideas:

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Then, you get instant ideas that are pretty solid:

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If you don’t like them, you can always refresh the list for a fresh set:

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These aren’t the most creative or whimsical titles that someone could come up with, but they are a great start.

For example, I love this headline, and it could be very good with a little tweaking:

14 Common Misconceptions About Content Marketing.

This one from the second batch was also great:

10 Signs You Should Invest in Content Marketing

With a few tweaks, that headline could be an evergreen post.

Remember:

When it comes to topic ideas and headline generators, use the base headline and expand on it for maximum effectiveness.

These should serve as your baseline to generate ideas fast, giving you the chance to make them even better.

So, how do you make them better?

One of my favorite tactics is adding a threat to the headline.

For, example let’s take this headline from the generator:

The Worst Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Content Marketing

Now, let’s add a threat:

The Worst (Common) Advice We’ve Ever Heard About Content Marketing and How To Fix It

This new headline version adds a threat and a solution. The threat comes in the form of adding “(Common)” to the headline so that any reader will instantly become threatened and worry that they are doing it wrong.

It provides the solution by using “How To Fix It,” too.

Always try to improve upon your headlines for the best success.

Try using “solution selling” to create value

Solution selling is a pretty simple concept:

Focus on the customer’s specific problems, wants, and desires rather than focusing on the product itself.

It’s a prime sales tactic.

For example, let’s say that a user has the problem of weak organic traffic.

They simply can’t bring in enough organic traffic to sustain their website growth.

Instead of selling your SEO tool and saying “it’s the best tool around, it has XX features, and XX reporting tools,” you focus on the solution.

You’d be better off saying something like: “Using this tool, you can create better content in less time and bring in more organic traffic in less than a month.”

The idea is to sell the solution to the user’s problem — not the product.

You show them how your product is going to result in the preferred outcome.

MarketingProfs actually tested this concept a while back and found a 28% increase in their conversion rates.

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They tapped into the solution that users were craving:

Create Successful Social Media Campaigns Fast.

They understood that their target market was struggling with this exact goal.

You can see another prime example of solution selling in a headline from Dropbox.

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Specifically, take a look at their sub-header:

Designed to reduce busywork.

I personally love this sub-headline because it explains exactly how the user will derive benefit rather than boasting about the product.

The typical Dropbox user is looking to do precisely that.

So, how do you create this kind of headline for your own content?

Sell the solution.

What is your blog post trying to solve for the user? What problem is it addressing? What does your product solve?

Let’s say you sell a productivity tool. Your typical user is likely looking to become more efficient, get things done faster, and keep track of everything.

Express these exact desires in your headline to skyrocket conversions.

That’s what the top tools, like Evernote, are doing right now:

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Notice how their headline and sub-headline provide the exact solution the user is looking for?

Ask yourself what your product solves, and then transform that value into a headline.

Create a burning sense of urgency

Urgency is a powerful tool in the world of online digital marketing.

Don’t believe me? If you look just about anywhere, you’ll quickly see it.

For example, look at how Amazon uses a subtle form of urgency to drive conversions and close deals that people might normally abandon:

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Want it tomorrow? Order it within in the next few hours.

Now that’s urgency at its prime.

They even use the same tactic by notifying customers of how many are left  in stock:

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It’s genius.

Because cart-abandonment rates for e-commerce are high, telling a customer that they need to buy ASAP due to low stock and shipping is excellent marketing.

Groupon does this all the time, too:

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So, how do you translate this type of urgency into a headline that converts?

Use this simple formula:

Do X or risk Y.

Let me show you a full example of this headline in action on one of my latest posts:

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This is an urgency-based headline that introduces a topic, says why you should use it, and gives a risk factor if you don’t use it.

In this case, the risk comes in the form of missing out on a huge opportunity.

It evokes the feeling of being late to the party. You’re missing the best new tool to drive sales.

Urgency should be your best friend when it comes to writing headlines.

Another way to manufacture urgency with a headline is by accompanying it with a CTA that also induces urgency.

HubSpot tested their call-to-action button on their site and found that a simple change to a red colored button drove a 21% increase in their conversion rate.

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Urgency comes in many forms. Just make sure you tap into it to write a headline that doesn’t suck.

Conduct headline A/B testing

Did you know that you only have 2.6 seconds to win over a new visitor?

If you don’t get their attention within those 2.6 seconds, you risk losing out on valuable traffic.

So what exactly are these people doing in these few, short seconds?

They’re reading your headline.

They’re deciding if they want to click it.

They’re thinking about how compelling it is.

They’re noticing whether or not it drives urgency.

If it isn’t compelling and urgency-driving, you aren’t getting their click.

Why do you think Buzzfeed is so successful?

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They’re successful because they’ve become the masters of getting people to click on content.

18 Twitter videos that are so funny, you’ll never regret watching them.

That might be one of the best headlines I’ve ever seen.

It includes a listicle-style post (by using the number 18), and it appeals to urgency and fear of missing out.

This brings me to the point of this section:

You need to know what works for your audience.

So when all is said and done, you need to find out which headlines or styles your audience prefers.

A great way to start is by testing your headlines with an A/B-testing tool for free.

Don’t worry: You don’t need to purchase ads to A/B test a headline.

One of my favorite headline-testing tools to dynamically test headlines automatically is Thrive’s Headline Optimizer.

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It’s a tool that can help you test your headline automatically on each blog post you share on your site.

It then compiles data on engagement and clicks to see which one performs best.

Then, it will select the top-performing headline for you to use.

It has an easy-to-use integration that works directly with sites like WordPress and e-commerce platforms:

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You can create new tests for any new post you publish or even for your old content:

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You can start to see engagement data show up directly on each post that you’ve tested:

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For example, you can see views, engagement rates, and more.

Your dashboard also provides more insight and data to inform decisions:

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This tool is perfect for anyone looking to maximize their headline impact.

It also helps you automate the process by selecting the top performer.

Try using Thrive’s Headline Optimizer if you want to get better results on your headlines today.

Piggyback top headline styles from your competitors

One of my favorite tactics when it comes to digital marketing is to steal data (and especially traffic) from your competitors.

A great way to do this for headlines is by analyzing the content that is performing best for them.

Which blog posts are driving the most clicks and traffic via organic search?

Which posts are getting the most social shares?

If you can find this out, you are on your way to finding huge success with headlines.

Why? You can effectively copy their headlines and make them even better, almost guaranteeing that you get the clicks instead of them.

The key with headlines is to take existing ones and turn them into gold mines.

To start, you can fire up BuzzSumo and search for your competitor’s site:

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Doing this will allow you to spy on their content and see what is performing best.

For example, when you search my URL, you can see the top-performing posts on my blog:

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The next step is to look for trends.

Analyze what’s performing best and steal it for success.

In my content, “how-to” posts clearly dominate my blog in terms of shares.

And the more shares a post gets, the higher the chances that the headline played a big role.

Headlines serve as first impressions, meaning that they are huge at creating interest and excitement for content.

When analyzing my top posts, you can see that “how-tos” and listicles are my top performers.

But it’s time to dig deeper than that.

Look at each headline and see if you can pick up on any underlying trends or commonalities:

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My headlines tend to follow a format that speaks to the user personally.

Within my headlines, I try to tell them exactly what they are going to get.

That way, they know what to expect when they click on my content, and I never let them down or disappoint them.

For example, I tell them three things in this headline:

  • There’s a benefit to getting promoted by social media influencers.
  • I’ll show them how to do this.
  • This is a great article specifically for them. I reassure them of this by mentioning the precise type of audience I have in mind.

I noticed the same trend with my other top-ranking posts:

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Using the tutorial-style headline of “how to” with a specific audience mentioned and a detailed goal works well.

You can perform this task for any of your competitors or even top blogs in the industry.

For example, just head to BuzzSumo and type in another website to pull up their data:

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Repeat this process with as many websites as you want to gain valuable insight into the top-performing content in the industry.

Conclusion

When someone searches on Google and looks at potential listings, what do you think the first thing they do is?

Likely, they look at the headlines first.

It’s the largest font size for each search engine result, meaning it grabs attention fast.

Headlines are the biggest determining factor between someone clicking and not clicking on your content.

If your headline is boring or doesn’t capture their attention immediately, you risk losing traffic.

If it’s not up to the searcher’s standards, your competitors will get the traffic.

Copyblogger found that 8 out of 10 searchers will read the headline copy before clicking on a post.

But, they also found that only 2 out of 10 will read the full post.

Meaning your headline is critical for driving traffic that is interested.

So, how do you write headlines that don’t suck?

Start by using a headline generator for inspiration.

It can help you develop topic ideas and different ways to shape your post.

Use solution selling to get the user interested fast, and be sure to create urgency.

Next, try using a headline A/B-testing tool to see what performs best with your audience.

Try piggybacking on the top headline formats of your competitors.

Writing better headlines can be a huge win for your traffic and sales.

What are your best headline hacks, tips, and tools for writing headlines that don’t suck?

The post The Definitive Guide to Writing a Headline that Doesn’t Suck (Tips, Tactics & Tools Included) appeared first on Neil Patel.

Netflix

25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration

Content is king. You’ve probably heard this phrase so many times that it has now been engraved in your memory.

We all know content is important, that it drives loyalty, engagement and trust, and that it is among the most clear indications of a company’s expertise. But content marketing is still rarely associated with design.

Rarely do we see a designer being praised for content, as it is the meaning and message that matter most. Texts and carefully crafted, punchy social media posts are the two most widespread content types online. They are written, edited and published on the web for the public to read and learn from. However, everything we create, regardless of whether it’s a visual or auditory asset, is also an experience. And in creating an experience, design supports content as much as content supports design. From infographics and white papers to gifs, memes and blog post images, design attracts the eyes of the audience and helps get the point across. So if companies want to drive engagement, they need to create a perfect balance between the message and the aesthetics.

Designers as visionaries of brand should drive the content marketing process and ensure it is aligned with the brand vision. Some brands are still struggling with the idea, making their social media feeds look like a collection of unrelated images. Others have perfected the craft to such an extent that we keep coming back for more content, even when there is nothing new to learn.

Here are 25 brands that are currently winning at the visual content marketing game:

  1. Animated GIFs – Netflix

Despite having a myriad of shows on the channel, Netflix maintains its brand colors across all Facebook posts – they are dark, blurry and mysterious. The animated GIFs on their Facebook page deserve special praise, as they express a sense of wonder, tell the story and bring you right into the heart of the Netflix universe.

  1. Color splashes and undertones – Lufthansa

Scroll through the Lufthansa Facebook page and pay attention to the overarching color scheme. You will notice that the brand’s signature gold color can be found in almost every photo, content piece or graphic. Even when the photo is unrelated to the brand’s promotions, Lufthansa still incorporates a bit of gold into the picture.

  1. Big fonts and atmospheric imagery – Equinox

Equinox

When it comes to content formats we’re often restricted by the social network rules. You can’t post custom size images, you can’t create a new page layout and you can’t change the background. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Equinox created videos that adhere to the usual Facebook square dimensions, only they allowed for lots of white space and decided to fit the message within a tiny, cropped frame. With this approach their content defies all creative boundaries and catches the public’s attention.

  1. The power of sharing and individual tastes combined – Starbucks

Combine the social connotations of coffee, pretty packaging and knowledge of the most important calendar dates and you can get an Instagram feed that rivals Starbucks. The lesson here can be summed up as, “showcase the product but make it a part of the bigger story”.

  1. Creating a sense of abundance – Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Creatives at Whole Foods know how to create a feeling of abundance. Their images feature lots of products, their signature green color and create a rustic, farm-like atmosphere. Abundance leads to positive emotions and that’s why the brand is so appealing.

  1. Focus on characters and the story – National Geographic

Another skillful storyteller, National Geographic features close-up shots of people, animals and historic buildings. These are not just stunning photos from professional photographers – the pictures create a feeling of presence, evoke curiosity and compel users to read the captions.

  1. Calmness through color and relatable illustration – Headspace

Headspace

How to do you convey mindfulness visually? By taking funny characters, a fascinating narrative, neutral pale colors and rounded shapes to create animated videos and graphics that pull you from the hectic pace of life back to the present moment.

  1. Outsource content from the community – GoPro

GoPro is the pioneer of outsourced content. The brand is known for creating a community of adventure lovers first and then convincing them that a GoPro is a staple accessory. The brand follows the same community building principles in its Instagram feed and features content sourced from fans and professional athletes.

  1. Asymmetrical layouts and playful fonts -Reformation

Reformation

Reformation is killing it in the content creation field. Their models shoulder dance, use expressive gestures, roll their eyes and are captured in all the different poses that are anything but conventional. This playful attitude is also reflected in graphics.

  1. Rounded shapes – Warby Parker

Warby Parker

Are you using signature shapes or patterns in your branding? Look for similar shapes in your surrounding context as well. Chances are you will find some inspiration to base your content on. Check out how Warby Parker used the solar eclipse to drive engagement.

  1. Powerful shots and slow motion – Roam

Roam

Celebrating the true spirit of adventure, Roam creates mind blowing videos featuring panoramic shots, aspirational characters and life risking experiences. Roam uses a combination of outsourced and internally produced content.

  1. United by the mascot theme – Trello

Trello

Instagram is rarely a priority channel for software brands due to its visual nature, but Trello makes it work with all the photos united by two central themes – they either feature the company’s mascot or show the perks of working in an awesome team.

  1. Wider perspective – Opera National De Paris

Panoramic shots broken down into instagrammable pieces are another trick used by brands to make content stand out. Opera National de Paris creates an aspirational story in which theater itself is the hero.

  1. Vintage posters – Shiseido

If you want to emphasize a brand’s historical and cultural background, there is no better way than to use images from the archives. Shiseido frequently posts Japanese posters, vintage graphics and mood boards. Surprisingly, you won’t see many product pictures. Instead of trying to sell the brand excessively, Shiseido chose to converse with its audience and that strategy seems to be paying off so far.

  1. Square cropped videos – Conde Nast Traveler

All content on Conde Nast Traveler’s page follow the same stylistic direction: they are minimal, with lots of white space. The brand also uses a lot of drone shots that add to its inspirational, almost dreamy image.

  1. Lifestyles in comparison – Airbnb

AirBnB

The staff at Airbnb quickly realized that if they don’t tap into the power of social, the platform will quickly become just another room renting service. First, they got us swooning over dreamlike tree houses in the jungle and magnificent igloos under the skies pierced by the Northern lights. Then they created #LoveThisLiveThere campaign, where they compare the lifestyles and sights of two different cities. Wouldn’t you be tempted by these photos, clearly showing that there is someone on the other side of the globe sharing the same passion?

  1. Words in pictures – Story

Not sure whether to tell the story with written text or visual cues? This brand uses both by showing us material things such as mugs, plates, books and walls featuring slogans.

  1. Showing life through the eyes of a character – MailChimp

Mailchimp

Among numerous useful blog posts on email automation, once in a while MailChimp throws in a custom image of its iconic monkey pictured in different settings. It shows that the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously. This simple trick also keeps the audience entertained while they familiarize themselves with data driven, educational content.

  1. A peek into a lifestyle – SaturdaysNYC

Fashion brands often fall victim to promotional content – their social media pages look like an ecommerce store. While it’s okay to use social media to drive sales, too much promotion and product driven content can drive people away. Instead, look at your fashion brand from a lifestyle point of view. Clothes, interiors, sport, hobbies can all be an inspiration for content.

  1. Mini comics – Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club

Illustrations are a great way to attract attention, but they are already quite ubiquitous. Dollar Shave Club uses comics instead. Comics are mini illustrated stories that convey the message in a cool, casual way, making them a perfect example of visually driven content marketing.

  1. Minimalism and white space – Tesla Motors

Looking to convey a premium image and show your craftsmanship skills? Then consider making your Instagram page look visually consistent and use lots of white space in your imagery. Tesla’s page is creative, original and is a feast for designer’s eyes.

  1. People centered content – Everlane

Everlane

Brands with socially charged missions can learn a lot from Everlane. Not only does the fashion brand challenge the traditional process of making designer clothes, but it also puts craftsmen at the center of its content strategy. Launched this July, the #FactoryFriday campaign features factory employees holding the shoes they’re making. The campaign makes the brand more personable and sparks user engagement.

  1. Product in action – Play-Doh

Have a great product that can be used in different creative ways? Teach, inspire and show people how to use the product by displaying the variety of possible creations and results. Play-Doh makes cute, little playdough figures and features them in its social media content.

  1. Geometrical shapes – Défoncé Chocolatier

Defonce Chocolatier

Nothing informs visually driven content better than the product shape. Défoncé Chocolatier is a brand of triangle shaped chocolate bars with a Californian twist. Look at how the brand uses various geometrical shapes in all their content: from the traditional triangle and rectangle to three dimensional rhombus and pyramid shapes, all of the brand’s content is informed by universal geometrical themes.

  1. Consistent color palette – Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger

Another brand that sticks to the same color palette. Tommy Hilfiger’s signature white, red and blue colors can be seen throughout its social media presence – in clothes, pictures, model lipstick, backgrounds and video filters.

Summary

Content marketing is an intricate playing field that gets more complex and competitive each year. Yet, it is still one of the most effective ways to create connections and attract a loyal following. Brands are constantly being challenged to come up with new, exciting ideas for content in order to stay relevant and break through the clutter of advertising noise. And designers, with their ability and skills to create visually appealing, engaging content, can play a major role in this process.

25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration 25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration 25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration 25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration 25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration 25 Brands to Follow for Visual Content Marketing Inspiration