When I first started learning how to do internet marketing, keywords were all that mattered. Google Keyword Planner and a host of other keyword research tools, like SEMrush, helped marketers see which keywords were driving volume. Then we’d take what we learned and layer it on with a tool like Übersuggest, or come up with more permutations or more keyword phrases.
But the thing about looking at historical keyword data is that it’s the same as looking at past revenue. It’s a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator.
That means it explains how something happened only in retrospect. But it doesn’t necessarily help you predict what will work in the future.
As a marketer, you want to be ahead of the trend. For example, let’s talk about virtual reality marketing, which might really blow up in five years or so. I think we all know that that’s a trend that’s coming up, but there isn’t a lot of interest in it right now because the technology hasn’t fully penetrated yet. The timing is not correct. But in order to ride that wave when it crests, you have to be prepared.
And that’s why I spend a bunch of time on Google Trends.
Google Trends’ most obvious feature is their top charts, where you can see what’s going on in real time. This is what people are talking about right now. This is what people are interested in.
For example, if you look up the book Newsjacking, you can come up with ideas just by looking at these trends. Or maybe people have been talking about Conor McGregor recently. How can we spin that in a way that fits in with a client’s marketing?
By doing that, you can be at the top of SERPs when people search for Conor McGregor or newsjacking or whatever the topic is. Whoever gets to it first is going to win when it comes to trends.
Another example: Pinterest recently released their Pinterest Search Ads. Let’s search for “Pinterest Search Ads” in Google Trends. We can see that it is currently a trend right now and it’s spiking.
How do you take advantage of this? I like to scroll to the bottom of the results page in Google Trends to see related searches. If there aren’t many related searches, then this is a really fresh topic.
One of the easiest wins when you jump on a trend is to write a long-form piece of content about it. Most of the early coverage will be short-form news posts. For example, maybe you newsjack Pinterest’s announcement with a “Complete Guide to Pinterest Search E-book.”
Maybe we’ll jump on Snapchat Ads instead. They’ve been out for a while, and you can see they spiked for a little bit when the announcement first came out.
But it’s about to get even bigger because they’re about to IPO and open up their platform to third parties for bidding. As a marketer, maybe that’s a topic you want to jump on.
Learn More: The Marketer’s Guide to Snapchat
There’s also YouTube, which is adding the ability to target people based on their search history. So it’s like search retargeting, but through YouTube. They’re obviously trying to compete with Facebook.
There are a lot of different ways to think about this, but whatever you end up doing, start by looking at trends.
What should you not do? Write on topics without any regard to trends. For example, if you search for “SEO,” you can see that this topic has been played out. It’s the same thing over and over. If you want to own the top results, you need to be on top of trends that people are just discovering.
If it’s actually good content, readers will start linking to it and it eventually becomes a flywheel of high-quality links because it’s the top result. That’s the benefit of riding the wave before it breaks. You’re going to get more traffic over time than anyone else and you’ll be known as an authority in your space. That’s the power of using Google Trends.
And Google Trends is totally free! You’re using a free tool like this to spot things before they become really big and jump on them because people care about these new and exciting topics.
When it comes to content marketing, so much content out there is redundant over time. Many topics are basically just echo chambers of writers copying each other.
You have to figure out how to stand out. Whether it’s doing live videos every day (like my Facebook Lives) or daily podcasts (like Marketing School), think about what you can do to stand out.
This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:
More content than ever is being produced today as more businesses are understanding the need to operate as a media company.
And that’s fair. The results from content marketing cannot be denied:
So the question is this: how do you create a self-sustaining content marketing engine? An engine that can operate efficiently with all the moving parts flowing as one?
I’ve gone through this exercise a few times (and failed in the process).
In this post, I’m going to give you a template to build your own content marketing engine. Every business is different, so take what makes the most sense and integrate it into your company.
If you’re going to create a content marketing engine, you’re going to need help. One person can’t do it all alone.
Here’s an example of how a team might be set up for a small company:
Let’s talk about these roles for a little bit:
The editor is responsible for making sure your content is up to par, gets scheduled, and follows your content process. In a sense, they can be seen as the executor of your content machine. For larger companies, you might have a Content Marketing Manager, Director of Content Strategy, VP of Content or Chief Content Officer.
Where to find good editors:
The designer helps make the imagery of your content look nice. Keep in mind that how your images and graphics look reflects upon your brand and that content with great imagery gets more engagement
Where to find good designers:
Social Media Specialist/Individual Outreach
The social media specialist will listen to and engage with your audience. They’re also responsible for curating content that your audience might be interested in. If you’re wondering what your self promotion to outside content ratio should be, I suggest going with 1:4. This means that for every self promotional share, you should have four curated shares.
Individual outreach involves reaching out to:
It’s tedious work finding the right contact information and then e-mailing people, following up, and repeating this over and over. In an ideal world, this would be a role in itself. Probably somebody more junior.
If you are part of a smaller team, I suggest training this person in individual outreach and paid content promotion. Smaller team members need to wear lots of hats and these responsibilities fit this individual best.
Where to find great social media specialists:
Paid Advertising Specialist
The paid advertising specialist will help promote content on paid channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Gmail, LinkedIn and more. Promoting content through paid advertising is a growing trend and I think it’s the way of the future.
For example, right now we are paying for cold traffic to come to our blog posts and we’re collecting e-mails for $2.88 per e-mail. That’s a GREAT deal for us.
Where to find great paid advertising specialists:
For a more in-depth look at how a content marketing team should be organized, take a look at this post by Content Marketing Institute.
Here’s what their ideal workflow looks like:
Draw up a mind map of your workflow in MindMeister.
The next step is coming up with fresh ideas for your audience.
Here are a few good ways to get started:
Swiped.co contains many marketing swipe files that you can use for inspiration. You can pull landing page/image inspiration for your own purposes.
I also regularly use Evernote to clip evergreen blog posts so that I can refer back to them.
Feedly is also a great place to keep an inventory of your favorite blogs. With Feedly, I can scroll through my feed really quickly and look for inspiration. Here’s an example:
One of my personal favorites is using Twitter lists to keep tabs on certain industries. For example, I made a list of venture capitalists that I like to follow and I always get value from checking up on it every day:
Making good use of your team is one of the most powerful ways to come up with great ideas.
Moz has a great set of tips for running a great brainstorming session right here:
Look For What’s Working
Utilize tools like Google Trends and Google Display Planner to see what’s trending. Keyword Tool is another great way to see keyword volume not only on Google, but on YouTube as well.
I personally love using SEMrush to take a look at what competitors are doing in terms of PPC and SEO. BuzzSumo is great for looking at how content is performing socially.
Here’s an example use case for BuzzSumo:
Let’s say I’m interested in looking at top performing content for ‘link building’. I’ll go to the ‘Content Research’ tab in BuzzSumo and enter “link building”:
Because we’re in the ideation phase right now, I’d like to
a) Export all these results, and
b) Create an alert for this phrase so I can continually monitor it.
Just thinking off the top of my head, maybe I can create an alternate version of the first result. How about ‘How to Use Pinterest for SEO: Link Building’? Might be worth a shot.
Look For What’s Working in Terms of SEO
Although you can use BuzzSumo to see what type of content is being linked to, its specialty is not in SEO. Instead, I turn to Ahrefs when I do my SEO analysis. Ahrefs is a paid SEO tool (minimum $99/mo) but I think it’s well worth it for the insights that it provides.
Let’s continue to build off of our search for top ‘link building‘ content:
Similar to BuzzSumo, I’d create an alert and export these results. The only difference here is that Ahrefs is focusing more on SEO metrics such as ‘Domain Rank’ rather than social shares.
What’s Working Well in Other Industries?
Check out this ad by Squatty Potty:
The ad is pure genius because it’s a product that isn’t necessarily easy to advertise. Who wants to talk about optimizing pooping?
But that’s exactly what they did. They even have me talking about their poop product right now.
The ad is funny and educational. And remember: ads are content marketing too.
Watch this ad and think about how you can create something funny and educational. And keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a unicorn pooping out rainbow ice cream! 😉
The third step is promotion. I’ve covered this extensively in my content promotion piece. If you’re pressed for time, here’s the high level:
Every quarter, take a look at your processes and make adjustments accordingly. Things change quickly in the online world.
The best technologies of today might be inferior in 90 days. A search algorithm change may put a wrench in what you’re doing.
Constantly tweak and refine your processes or your content engine will start falling apart. It’s the same thing as maintaining your car.
Here are some tools you can use to keep your processes in one spot:
Put in the effort to track all the work that your team is putting in. Moz has a fantastic case study about simple KPI dashboards right here. Here’s a little more insight from their founder, Rand Fishkin:
When you have created your dashboards, get your team together and walk through each metric and its importance. After that, assign each dashboard to stakeholders and revisit the numbers each month. Everyone should take a look at the numbers and have input on what they’d do next.
We’ve selected a few tools that make our lives easier when it comes to content marketing:
Creating a content machine is an investment that will start to pay dividends down the road. As your content team continues to grow, it’s important to create a self-sustaining process so that everything flows smoothly.
What are some other important content marketing processes you’d add?
I thought it would be a good idea to use Google Trends to take a look at what’s happening in the marketing space. In 2016, there’s a lot of chatter about:
Wherever attention goes, marketers go; so it’s important to understand how things are trending over time. First, let’s take a look at the big platforms:
Google, YouTube and Twitter have flattened out and it seems Facebook is starting to flatten out as well.
People have been preaching that ‘SEO is dead’ for years and yet we see that it continues to hold strong even to today. As long as there is search, there will be SEO. Whether that’s voice search for e-commerce or search in its current state, it doesn’t matter. Search is search.
PPC has taken quite a dip starting in 2008 and I have to assume part of the reason is because it’s more of a discovery term that leads people into finding out about advertising platforms such as Google AdWords. Nowadays, a large chunk of companies trying to grow their business online are using PPC and it isn’t such a new term anymore.
SEO is different because it has gotten harder and harder through the years and tactics have had to shift. Many agencies/practitioners have had to shift their ways or shut down their businesses. This explains why the interest is so high in SEO: because it’s still convoluted to many people.
Starting in 2013, content marketing really started to see a lift and it continues to grow even to this day. E-mail marketing has been around for a long time and has more or less stabilized. Don’t count e-mail marketing out though, because every $1 spent results in $44 returned.
Snapchat is has become a social media force with over 10 billion daily video views. With over 100 million daily users and a $16 billion dollar valuation, it’s worth taking a look at if you haven’t invested effort yet. Think of this as early days Facebook or Twitter where it’s the best time to start building your audience.
Prominent entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk allocates a significant portion of his time to the platform. Twitch co-founder and YC partner Justin Kan has a very engaging snapchat. Upfront Ventures’ Mark Suster posts daily bits of business wisdom to his Snapchat and reposts them online later.
Instagram now has over 400 million users and continues to grow at a strong pace while it seems Pinterest has more or less stabilized.
On the flip side, Twitter has been in a downward spiral for the last few years. Its stock price has been getting demolished due to stagnant user growth and a product that needs significant improvements.
Remember: marketers go to wherever the attention is and Snapchat and Instagram have captured A LOT of the attention right now.
Voice Search will continue to grow over time and it’s already starting to gain steam. Google has hinted that its already planning to add Voice Search reporting to Google Search Console, which is its free SEO tool. Thrive Analytics reports that 56% of adults now use a form of Voice Search. Which is up 30% over the last 12 months.
Take a look at the numbers below on people using digital personal assistants):
Here’s a graph from Northstar’s Mobile Voice study on what people actually use voice search for:
As artificial intelligence continues to get better, these assistants will only improve and make our lives easier.
Convince & Convert report that Influencer Marketing generates as much as 11x banner ad ROI. That’s huge.
And it makes total sense. With the rise of ad blockers and people just being plain resistant to clicking on ads, it makes sense to turn to influencers to help market your products or services.
Referrals are one of the strongest ways to get others to buy – this is a fundamental concept that has never changed. Look into the influencers that might be the ideal fit to promote your offering and you might just find the next successful growth channel for your business.
Just how much do people HATE ads? A lot.
On average, 9.26% of impressions were found to be ad-blocked and active Ad Blocker users have reached 150M browsers in the United States. 26% of internet users say they use an Ad Blocker. AdBlock Plus reports that they have over 100 million active users.
I used to use ad blockers about 7 years ago before I started to learn digital marketing. Since then, I’ve had to leave them on to do my work. Frankly, I’m surprised that the growth hasn’t been faster because I LOVED my ad blocking tools back in the day.
So what are publishers to do about the rise of ad blocking? How will they make money?
Read on below.
One type of advertising offering to use is native advertising. But what is native advertising exactly?
Native advertising is a type of advertising, usually online but feasibly elsewhere, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.
An example of native advertising would be advertorials that you might see on sites such as Buzzstream or The Atlantic that have a specific call-to-action. Similarly, ‘sponsored content’ is the same idea but typically lacks a call-to-action.
For more examples of native advertising, click here.
We can see that bots are slowly beginning to have an uptick in this graph. With Kik, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Microsoft, Slack and other companies pooling significant resources into bot creation, it’s worth at least taking a look at bots to see what the true implications are for business.
To me, the implications are huge:
The best part about it all? We’re just barely scratching the surface.
Imagine teleporting to an NBA championship game. Courtside.
You can hear conversations around you and hear a ‘swish’ in the distance and whistles blowing. It’s almost as if you’re there. 70% of all the sensory receptors in the body are in the eyes – it’s our primary sense.
Now imagine teleporting to Bali to explore a hotel that you want to go to. Or teleporting to a furniture store 5,478 miles away to see what you’d like to pick up. Or just playing your favorite game with your friends?
Virtual reality is on the uptick and while I think it’s still a few more years from hitting mainstream, it’ll get there and when it does it’s going to change the world.
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. A good example of this would be Kickstarter.
This is good for marketers to pay attention to because it’s becoming more and more popular to fund a project through Kickstarter first and then move into raising a Series A round to give a company the fuel it needs to grow.
More and more startup companies are looking for individuals or agencies to help them with their Kickstarter campaigns (sometimes in exchange for equity).
Fitbit seems to be on the upward trend as health awareness continues to be a growing trend amongst consumers. The Apple Watch had a nice PR bump when it released but seems like it is more or less stabilizing. Jawbone has remained the same for a few years.
The wearable technology today is cool – sure. But has it reached its potential? Definitely not. I think we’re still 5-10 years off from having more frictionless wearable technology that will track our food intake without having to manually input data. Even more compelling? Wearable tech that will warn of health problems before they occur.
In 2016, the eSports Economy will grow to $463 million, which is 43% YoY growth. eSports is widely accepted in other countries and is becoming more popular in the United States. So popular, in fact, that ESPN will be dedicating resources to covering eSports. Newzoo reports that revenue growth will jump to over $1B by 2019, which is a 40.7% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate).
Being a former competitive gamer myself, it’s exciting to see how this industry is evolving to look like real sports. Seeing team owners, managers and TV coverage shows just how serious people are about gaming.
Entrepreneur and author Gary Vaynerchuk says that he likes to ‘day trade attention’, which basically means he’ll get in on platforms that he sees a lot of potential in (buying low) so he can achieve massive returns when they grow to massive scale.
Remember this: Marketers will flock to wherever the attention is and eventually pollute the ecosystem. That’s how it has always been and how it will continue to be.
Take a look at your business model and think about where it might make sense to start marketing in the future. If you spot a trend before others do, you’ll be able to get in cheap and capitalize for a couple of years before it becomes too expensive to play the game. Case in point: Gary Vaynerchuk was able to buy the keyword ‘wine’ for $.05 a click when Google AdWords became available.
That keyword is now $2.10 per click. That’s a 4,100% increase in costs.
Apply that concept to your business; if you can strike early and often, you’ll have a major advantage.
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