4 Tips to Stop Killing Your Content Team from Workfront & Nordstrom

The pressure is on! Content marketers are being expected to create more with less. And often, that means creating more content without adding additional team members.

Unfortunately, the content copywriters are often the ones that bear the brunt of these situations which can be exhausting and cause content burnout.

To help ease the pain, Workfront’s Heather Hurst and Nordstrom’s Erica Gunn shared some great tips to help you scale work with the resources you have in their presentation at Content Marketing World.

Want to keep your content team happy and productive? Here’s what to do:

#1 – Build a Business Case

Ok listen up, this part is important:

Before you start anything, you need to understand why you’re doing it and whether it rolls up to the most important goals of your company.

Once you’ve developed your goals, it’s time to develop a strategic breakdown that will help you execute. Some key questions to ask include:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Are you working on the right things?
  • What’s not going to help you succeed? Eliminate it!

Ultimately, customer data should help make content decisions. Traditionally, Nordstrom relied heavily on gut instincts combined with trends to lead their content strategy. Now, they’ve taken a much nimbler approach that includes weekly meetings so that the team can pivot quickly, as well as measurement of content daily, monthly and quarterly. This enables short-term and long term adjustments to planning and creation based on content goals.

#2 – Manage & Prioritize Work Requests

When you have fully tapped content resources, it comes down to finding the balance between what is urgent, and what is important.

Also, utilizing a project management system like Workfront (which we use at our agency), can help teams identify what should be prioritized when there is simply too much to get done.

It’s essential to make time for unplanned work as well. If you’re able to plan for approximately 60% of your team’s tasks, then that leaves 40% of available time to handle last-minute or unplanned items.

#3 – Leverage Existing Content to Build Assets

One of the most overlooked opportunities for creating great content efficiently is to repurpose existing content. And while many marketers talk about content repurposing as a tactic, few are doing it effectively.

To make repurposing simple, start by tagging content appropriately so that you have an easy way to look it up in the future.

Last year, our CEO Lee Odden developed a great blog post that covered 50 influencer marketing fails, many of which came from influencers themselves. After seeing some great success with this post (over 2,000 shares), we decided to turn it into an ungated SlideShare that featured insights from some of the influencers, but also included some new ways to win at influencer marketing. To date this SlideShare has had over 37,000 views!

#4 – Manage Change

In their presentation, Erica and Heather shared three ways to enact change:

  1. Communicate: Create a case and share it with your leadership team that includes recommendations for more structured intake, prioritization and resource management.
  2. Model: Make an effort to change your own intake, prioritization and resource management behaviors. That way everyone else can see that you’re doing it differently.
  3. Reinforce: Reward team members that are following suit or participating in the change of these new behaviors and consider consequences for those who are following the old behaviors.

A Happy Team is a Productive Team

When you get caught up in the day-to-day, it can be difficult to make time for evolving process. However, think about the amount of time you will save by throwing out antiquated content process and let’s be frank, looking for new talent if your team gets burnt out.

Start by collecting data about what is and isn’t working. From there, you can develop your plan, implement and then reassess and optimize your approach.

What have you found to be your biggest challenges in creating a manageable workload for your content team?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 4 Tips to Stop Killing Your Content Team from Workfront & Nordstrom | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Alicianne Rand Shares 4 Tips for Driving Sales Through Content Marketing #CMWorld

What does it look like when content, influencers and social media come together to generate a metaphorical gold mine in terms of revenue and reach? To put it mildly, it’s drop dead gorgeous. At least that was the view from my seat at Content Marketing World as Estée Lauder’s Executive Director of Global Content Marketing Alicianne Rand shared the incredible success her organization has achieved through their integrated content marketing strategy So, what needs to happen to take your content marketing strategy from drab to fab? Here are four tips straight from Rand herself.

Tip #1 – Use data to drive your content marketing strategy

At Estée Lauder, Rand and team have built a framework to simplify how they look at data. Step 1: Track trends based on deep social listening, then look at how trends move from rising to evergreen and eventually declining patterns. Rand cited a trend called “popsicle lips” that first launched at fashion week by Mac. At first, folks were skeptical, but it was quickly picked up by industry insiders, and then popsicle lips became the No. 1 trend of the summer. “The trend started with a subculture that consumers may not have necessarily gravitated toward,” she said. “But then it moved into a creative expressions that consumers want to use and wear every day.” Step 2: Analyze content and brand performance, and then use these insights to quickly experiment. Rand said that her team constantly evaluates their performance against the competition. “We ask: how do we perform against the competition in terms of market share?” she explained. “Our ability to grow that share over time is what we’re really concerned about.” For Estée Lauder, that means mobilizing employees as influencers and trendsetters in the industry. “Think about how you can activate your employees to make things real,” she suggested. “And really test and learn to figure out what works best.” Step 3: Map everything against business goals. At the end of the day, you need to know what you want from your content in terms of KPIs to determine whether it was successful. Do you want to generate a certain amount of views and engagement? Or are you looking for leads or revenue? So, determine what that goal is and regularly check yourself against it to optimize, learn and repeat.

Tip #2: Create products with content in mind

Rand said: “In the early stages of research and development, we’re already thinking about how this product will perform on social.” This is a key element for their brand’s content because so much of the industry is socially driven. Think about it in terms of Kylie Jenner’s lipstick promotion generating billions of dollars from Snapchat. However, this doesn’t mean that the brand owns all of the social around their product. In fact, Rand recommends the following formula for working with social influencers: Ownership + Authenticity + 360 Engagement = Sales “Ownership and authenticity are key to performance,” Rand said. “Give your influencers ownership over that product or that creative and you will see results.”

Tip #3: Know that creativity can come from anywhere and anyone.

In Rand’s words, “Everyone is a content creator. The trick is where you’re leveraging these influencers and what KPIs you have against each. There needs to be different strategies for different content creators.” The key is synchronization, she said. There needs to be a strategic framework in place for success. Rand tasked the audience with four key elements to think about:

  1. What is your overarching theme? What does your brand stand for?
  2. What are your trying to promote? (i.e. What is your particular campaign?)
  3. What are your chapters? This refers to evergreen content that the Estée Lauder team likes to call micro-narratives.
  4. What are your moments? This is your always-on content, where you can do A/B testing and try out new trends you’re experimenting with.

Tip #4: Create new paths to discovery and conversion.

How can your content create new paths to conversion? What isn’t being done that can make an impact? To illustrate this point, Rand cited the example of Smashbox thinking about retail as content. Every single store they have has a photo studio inside. They invite influencers to come in, do photo shoots using their products, and then give the photos to them for use on Instagram or other social profiles. In return, the influencers always tag Smashbox, giving their audience an opportunity to check the products out for themselves.

The Main Takeaway?

For content to drive sales and conversions, it needs to come from a place of deep understanding of your customers, the marketplace and your brand. Don’t start with what you want to get out of your content and work backward. A truly beautiful content strategy starts with why — not what. Stay tuned for more #CMWorld coverage and insights on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow myself and the rest of our on-the-ground team members on Twitter at: @Tiffani_Allen, @leeodden, @knutesands, @NiteWrites, @azeckman, @amywhiggins and @CaitlinMBurgess.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Tips for Making Video Content that Earns Attention from Andrew Davis #CMWorld

The inimitable Andrew Davis is the best-selling author of Town, Inc. and an in-demand marketing speaker. After his presentation at Content Marketing World 2017, I can see why.

He made me feel stupid. And I’m incredibly grateful.

The best presentations make you feel stupid in retrospect. Of course! It’s so obvious that this is the way to do it! Why haven’t we been doing it this way the whole time? Feeling stupid after-the-fact means you just got smarter.

You see, video content marketing has gone from the next big thing to the current big thing. Brands that pump out a ton of text-based content are now flooding the attention marketplace with video. And just as we had to learn how to make content work for marketing, we’re all still figuring out how to make effective marketing video.

Over the course of 45 minutes–which included exploding watermelons, Ice Road Truckers, and impromptu dance breaks–Andrew laid out exactly what is wrong with how most marketers are approaching video. And, more importantly, how to fix it. Here are some key takeaways. I hope they make you feel stupid in the best possible way.

Creating Video Marketing that Holds Attention

As Andrew explained it, video is a linear medium. We want viewers to hit the play button and barrel down the tracks to the end, where our CTA lives. But people rarely take that straight journey. They can skip forward or backward, or even bail entirely.

When people bail on a video, conventional wisdom holds that the video’s too long for a short attention span. It’s not the lack of attention span, though: It’s the lack of content designed to hold attention. As Roger Ebert said, “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”

Our goal, then, is to occupy our audience’s interest – their desire to know – over time. How can we do that?

#1: Raise questions to drive content.  What keeps a person watching is the desire to have a question answered. As Andrew put it, “Eliminate our audience’s desire to answer a question, and we eliminate interest in our content.”  Is your content giving it all away up front? If you answer the audience’s burning question in the first fifteen seconds, without promise of further answers to come, what’s their motivation to watch the next three minutes? Or six minutes? “When someone says your video is ‘too long,’” Andrew says, “they’re really saying, ‘I have no more questions.’”

#2 Create suspense. The primary method to keep the audience asking questions–thereby keeping them watching–is to create suspense. Show your audience something the character desires, then threaten it. Raise obstacles to the character’s goal. Leave the outcome in doubt. Raise the stakes over time and you keep the questions going – what’s going to happen next? How will this problem be solved?

#3 Put your CTA before the payoff. The suspense you’re building will lead to a moment of catharsis, when the questions are answered and all is revealed. But don’t put your CTA after that moment–see the previous comment about “I have no more questions.” Rather, put it right at that peak of interest. Think of it like the commercial break before the big reveal on a reality show. Just make sure your payoff is worth your viewer’s invested time and emotion.

Think Like a Reality TV Editor to Tell Compelling Stories

To build suspense and keep the audience guessing, we need to draw from the masters of suspense. Yes, reality TV shows, especially makeover and talent shows. The editing tricks of the TV trade can help make your content compelling, even if it’s not about toddler beauty pageants or salmon fishing in Alaska.

Consider these key elements as you edit:

  • Music. Too many corporate marketing videos use the same generic jaunty tune all the way through. Use music to set the mood and change that mood throughout the video.
  • Beats. No, not drumbeats or overpriced headphones. Beats are little moments of pause, a breath or two to let the audience process what you’re telling them. Don’t be afraid to pause and let things sink in–if you’ve earned the audience’s attention, that will build tension rather than dissipate it.
  • Pacing. You control the rate at which you give information to your audience. Withholding information builds suspense, balanced with the need to keep moving forward.
  • Narrative structure. Too many testimonial-type videos start with “This product is great and solved my problems, which were….” and the viewer says, “I have no more questions. You told me the product was great and solved your problems.” Instead, work toward the solution in a way that builds suspense and raises stakes:
    • Start with the problem
    • Intensify the problem
    • Show the struggle for a solution
    • Hint at the solution
    • Reveal the solution

Your Best Asset: A Critical Eye

Being aware of these elements and tactics is the first step. However, you can only truly master the form through conscious studying. Andrew said, “You will become a better video producer when you learn how to watch videos better.” The next time a video captivates your attention, study it. How is it continually raising questions? How is it building suspense? What editing, beats, and music choices make it compelling? Start watching video with a critical eye, see what works, and don’t hesitate to steal it.

In other words, what makes video marketing effective is exactly what makes any video effective: It tells a compelling story with tension, stakes, and a moment of catharsis when the tension is resolved.

Feel smarter? I know I do.

Ready to get going? Here are some easy ways to get started with video content marketing.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Tips for Making Video Content that Earns Attention from Andrew Davis #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Critical tips for navigating difficult client relationships

Dealing with a challenging PPC client? Columnist Jeff Baum explores some tips for reducing client frustration and fostering trust so that you can focus on what really matters: driving results. The post Critical tips for navigating difficult client relationships appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning

When it comes to crafting compelling content that informs, engages and inspires action, seasoned B2B digital and content marketers know our content needs to captivate both humans and search engines to be effective. After all, 81% of B2B decision makers conduct research before reaching out to a vendor, so we know our content needs to meet them whenever and wherever they’re searching.

As a result, striking that “perfect balance” between SEO and user experience is a must—and that perfect balance is rooted in the content planning stage.

“SEO needs to be baked into the process early so that the optimization is as natural as possible,” Kevin Cotch, TopRank Marketing SEO analyst, says. “It can’t be treated as an afterthought. It’s not only more efficient to do your research up front, but it also enhances the content by helping you touch on the specific phrases your audience is using to search to solve their pain points or answer their questions.”

But there’s a little hitch—SEO research can be overwhelming for content creators. We’re often strapped for time and it’s easy to fall down a less-than-productive SEO rabbit hole. In addition, some of us may feel we don’t have the needed expertise or tools.

The good news is that you don’t need to fanciest tools or a dedicated background in SEO to craft great SEO-driven content. Below are a handful of helpful research tactics you can use to make the most of your time and create a content plan that’s flush with solid topics.

#1 – Perform incognito searches for your most important keywords.

Your team has likely developed a list of core keywords and topics that are incredibly important to your brand from a service and search standpoint. And you’ve likely begun to create content around those key topical areas and you’re seeing some movement in the SERPs. Naturally, your ultimate goal is to get your content to the top of Page 1 search results. But have you taken the time to dig in and draw insights from the content you’re hoping to dethrone?

Incognito searches using your priority keywords can help you uncover some of those important insights. An incognito search prevents your browser history or cache from impacting the results, allowing for a more accurate picture of search results. As my colleague Jesse Pickrain so eloquently said in one of my recent posts on finding B2B content marketing inspiration: “There’s gold in them thar SERPs.”

Once you’re served up with some results, spend about 10 to 15 minutes reviewing the content in the top three to five spots. Your goal should be to learn how the content is structured, identify the perceived value it provides your audience, the main pain points it addresses, and ultimately if you have the ability to create something better than what’s ranking at the top. In addition, take a peek at the “related searches” area so you can see other queries that match the search intent of your original search for more clarity and direction for planning your content.

Let’s take the keyword topic “content marketing planning” as an example. At first glance, I see the top results all offer frameworks or tactical guides.

Content Marketing Planning Search in Incognito Window

As I dig in, I can see that four of the top five are all in-depth, long-form pieces, and the content is organized using a range of heading tags and bulleted sections to make it easy to scan. But I also notice that “content marketing planning” isn’t an exact keyword match, rather “content marketing strategy” is present in nearly all of the pieces.

In addition, I can see that the related searches have several variations of “content marketing strategy.” After clicking around in those results, I can see that a lot of the same content is coming up in the top five, but there’s a broader mix as the queries get more specific.

Searches Related to Content Marketing Planning

Roughly 10 minutes later, I’ve pulled some very valuable insights:

  • Long-form content wins for this topic and search intent, and people are looking for detailed plans, examples and templates to make their lives easier.
  • More people are searching for strategy-related keywords, which tells me that “content marketing strategy” may be more relevant or have higher volume, but it’s likely a more competitive keyword term.
  • It’s going to be difficult to crack the top spots for short-tail keywords, but longer-tail or more specific, related search queries definitely have some opportunity.

Based on these insights, as well as my knowledge of existing content, I can start to flush out some relevant concepts that are on-topic and SEO-infused, and guided by the top-performing content that’s already out there. My goal now is to craft a concept that will provide a better answer than what currently exists.

#2 – Consult Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool for low-hanging opportunities or additional insight.

The Keyword Planner tool within Google AdWords is often a go-to research tool for SEO and developing paid search campaigns, providing cost-per-click data and average search volume estimates to help you judge competitiveness and relevancy.

When it comes to content planning, this data along with keyword topic and query suggestions, can help you identify low-hanging opportunities or further refine the other research you’ve already done.

Building off my previous example of “content marketing planning,” I know that my incognito search revealed that “content marketing strategy” was a heavily-related keyword from a search intent standpoint. I can now use the keyword planner to dive deeper into the competitiveness surrounding both variations, as well as related keywords, to further refine my concepts.

Keyword Planner Tool Example

#3- Review Google Search Console to see what keywords your existing content is already ranking for.

In my opinion, Google Search Console, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, is one of the most helpful SEO and content planning tools out there. From a technical standpoint, Google Search Console enables you to monitor and maintain your entire website’s presence in Google search results. But from a content planning perspective, Google Search Console allows you to see which queries actually caused your site’s content to appear in search results.

The best part? You can filter by page, allowing you to see how a specific piece of content is drawing visibility. This means you can not only find opportunities to optimize existing content with other related keywords it’s coming up for, but also identify gaps and related topics that can spawn additional content.

#4 – Look to evergreen content for inspiration.

Chances are you have some really solid, evergreen pieces of content that are driving in huge amounts traffic. Why? Because that content is doing a great job at providing the answers searchers seek—and you can build off that.

Use the Google Search Console tip to understand which queries are getting eyeballs on that content, and be on the lookout for:

  • Contextual nuances. Does it appear that your content isn’t the best answer for certain queries? If so, this is a golden opportunity to create new content that can better answer that query.
  • Content branches. You may find that some of the queries your content is coming up for centers on a specific section of your content. If so, that may be an opportunity to drill-in deeper on that specific topic.
  • Follow up questions. When you’re able to see the wide range of queries your existing content is coming up for, you can get a bigger picture of what questions your audience may ask next. If you identify next questions, you can create best-answer content and add add a call to action to that evergreen piece so readers can continue their journey.

#5 – Leverage free tools and Q&A platforms to uncover burning questions.

At TopRank Marketing, we believe that striving to be the best answer wherever and whenever your audience is searching is the key to creating content that resonates. Luckily, there are a number of free platforms and tools such as QuoraAnswer the PublicUbersuggest, and Keyword Tool.io that can provide quick answers and long-tail search opportunities.

Once you’ve discovered some of those burning questions, you can use the incognito search tip to understand what content already exists out there for that question, and determine how you can answer the question better and provide more value to searchers.

#6 – Use social media to get keywords and content topics directly from your audience.

Social media is all about giving people a place to share their thoughts and experiences with one another. So why not take advantage of your community’s willingness to share by asking engaging and thoughtful questions to tap into their insights?

A great example of this in action are Twitter polls, which allow people to weigh in on a specific topics as well as continue the conversation through the reply function. And, while they’re not exactly scientific, polls and social discussions can actually be a chunk of your content as you can feature the responses you get in the content to add more authenticity and perspective.

Don’t Fail to Plan

As the old adage goes: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And when it comes to crafting effective content, SEO needs to be part of the content marketing planning process if you want to drive results. Use these tips to help make it an easy and efficient part of the process.

What are some interesting ways you conduct SEO research for your B2B brand? Tell us in the comments section.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning | http://www.toprankblog.com

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