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Free and Easy Ways to Automate Your Content Creation

More and more, marketers and business professionals are starting to see what distributing valuable content to the right audience on a frequent basis can accomplish. It expands your reach, establishes your credibility, and increases conversion rates.

To stay top-of-mind in today’s online business arena, you need to create interesting and diverse content, and a lot of it. You can’t just post a 300-word blog post once a month and expect to see noticeable results.

Whether you’re creating content for a small e-commerce site or a large enterprise, you’ll want to learn some easy ways (highlighted below) to automate your content creation process. Once you automate your content creation process, you’ll have more time to create valuable content your audience will enjoy, without going broke or sacrificing your sleep.

Use Google

The best thing about Google, believe it or not, isn’t just that a majority of its software and services are free. The best thing about Google is that their software and services are based in the cloud, which means you can store, access, and edit your content on any device.

With Google Drive, you can store all your documents in the cloud and add them as attachments to your calendar invites, and track edits and comments added to them. Within each Google Doc, you can use the “Explore” feature under the “Tools” menu option (without exiting the document) to research related topics and images on the web as you compile your document, as well as search for related material in your own saved documents.

There are also a lot of different free templates you can use. With these options, Google Docs easily automates your writing and editing process.

And of course, Google’s Webmasters tool locates keyword and SEO data about the content on your website for you automatically, all in one place. When you use this tool, you can automate the process of locating obvious issues with your website. You can also use this tool to automatically locate issues with your content. The tool will highlight the content that’s being discovered across the web but not clicked through and read by users who are sending queries for topics related to what you write about.

Create and Use Templates, Checklists, and Well-Crafted Outlines

If there is any type of document you write frequently, such as a newsletter, blog post, or e-book, you should create a template for it to expedite the drafting process. Each template should help you outline the meat of your content so that it’s a bit easier and faster to write, without sacrificing its quality. You can save the appropriate branding, fonts, and formatting in each template so that you don’t have to update them each time you create a new document of the same type.

You’ll also want to outline and structure every piece of content you create in a way that makes it easy to add additional information to main topics, or break main topics apart into subtopics for other pieces of content you want to create using the same main topic.

OUTLINE EXAMPLE:

E-Book: The Ultimate Guide to Whale Watching (Main Topic)

    Section 1: Best Places to Go for Whale Watching                                                                                               (Can also be used as a topic for a blog post)

    Section 2: Pictures Taken While Whale Watching                                                                                          (Can be separated into individual social media posts)

    Section 3: Things You Need for Whale Watching                                                                                              (Can also be used as a topic for a blog post)

  • Binoculars (Topic for product description for inventory you or your affiliate partners offer)
  • Raincoat (Topic for social media posts)
  • Group Cruise Tickets (Topic for blog post- “Top Ten Group Cruises for Whale Watching”, or topic you can use for marketing content with affiliate partners )

You should also save checklists and image requirements for everything you publish, alongside your templates. For instance, for each blog post, you’ll want to remember to save the links to your sources, record your keywords, verify its word count, make sure it’s optimized for search engines, determine when you’ll share it on social media, and more. If you aren’t sure what your template should look like, then check out some of the templates for Google Docs to get started.

Schedule Your Writing and Sharing Process

If you don’t have a content calendar that you stick to, you’ll always feel behind and will take too long (or not long enough) to publish content. Creating and following an editorial calendar is essential to content automation.

You should have a set and recurring schedule for when:

  • Content ideas will be pitched and selected
  • Research for content will be conducted
  • First drafts are due
  • Editing and proofreading will occur
  • Final drafts are due
  • Content will be published
  • Content will be shared on social media
  • Content’s performance will be analyzed
  • Content will be logged and scheduled to be repurposed in the future

It’s critical that you deliberately schedule time to write and work on projects on a rolling basis. Don’t simply have a due date listed for a content project on your editorial calendar with nothing else related to it on the same calendar. If you only include final due dates, they’ll sneak up on you, and before you know it you’ll have to rush to get a piece of content published and shared.

You must also schedule adequate time to conduct research, write, and edit. Typically, it’s helpful to come up with multiple content pitches at a time, and take an hour or so to schedule when they’ll all be researched, drafted, and published, a month in advance. You can then use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule when your content will be published and shared on different social media sites.

Generate Ideas with Helpful Tools

Sometimes it’s possible to come up with great topics to write about without having to do much research or online reconnaissance. But it’s usually best to use tools like BuzzSumo, Headline Analyzer, and DrumUp, to come up with ideal and targeted topics to write about. Why? Tools like these not only help you discover topics to write about, they’ll also ensure the topics you want to write about will perform better by providing you with impactful headlines, and SEO keywords and pointers.

Another way to automate ideas for content that you want to create is to keep an ongoing list of potential topics in the cloud (perhaps by using Google Drive or Evernote). Whenever an idea comes to mind, jot it down on your list that you can access on any device. Or if you’re a visual person, you can save photos that you like in a folder on Google Drive or in Dropbox. When it’s time to come up with ideas to write about, then you can access this folder of images for inspiration.

Track Your Time and Evaluate it

The purpose behind automating any sort of task is to save time, right? So, the best way to know if you’re automating your content well (after you begin using the tips highlighted above) is to see if your writing and organization practices are saving you any time, and how much. You can use time tracking tools like Toggl to track the time it takes you to write a blog post. Compare the time it takes you to write a post with a template to the time it takes you to write one without the template.

It’s also important to understand what tasks take you longer so that you can plot your schedule and content calendar accordingly. Do you need to spend more time compiling outlines, conducting research, or evaluating your content’s performance? Different types of content and industries require different time frames for different tasks. Make sure you are spending time on the tasks that match your immediate and long-term content goals. By tracking and evaluating your time, you’ll know when you need to outsource and what specific tasks you need to work on becoming more efficient at completing.

Staying organized is also key when it comes to automating tasks and cutting down on the time it takes to complete certain tasks. Check out these tools that will help you get and stay organized.

Luckily, you don’t need to break the piggy bank to automate your content creation process. As long as you structure your content outlines well, use the right tools, and have a robust content calendar that you actually follow because it’s accurately compiled according to your goals, then your content creation process will start to seem almost effortless.

Is there anything else you do to help automate your content creation process? Please share with us in the comments below.

Share and like this post if you found it helpful so that others can read it too. Thanks!


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Infographic: Types of Content You Should Be Creating and Sharing

Did you know that every minute there are around one and a half million posts shared or liked on Facebook? And did you know that each day there are over two million blog posts published across the web? Or that there are billions of websites out there? That’s right, millions and billions. That’s a lot of content that yours will need to compete with.

Instead of intimidating you, those numbers should make you feel empowered. Why? Because content comes in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Content doesn’t simply consist of blog posts and emails anymore. With advances in technology and software, you now have the ability to get creative so you can really bring your content to life and connect with your audience, zeroing in on what they want to consume.

There are many types of content that can be created. But how will you know where to start and what’s best for your particular message or audience? While following content and social media trends can be a good thing sometimes, don’t let them get in the way of creating and sharing content that’s both engaging and valuable to your specific audience. Look at the infographic below and you’ll see some of the more popular types of content that have proved valuable time and again, and why you will want to consider them.

types of content_infographic

 

Regardless of the industry you’re in, sharing original quality content is essential to shaping your online identity and keeping your readers engaged.

Keep this infographic nearby in case you need to get inspired to create something new.

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Is a Content Strategy the Same Thing as Content Marketing?

It’s critical to make the distinction between what a “content strategy” is and what “content marketing” is, especially if you dabble in either or both for your profession. You should be sure to make this distinction for your clients too. This way they won’t think you’re going to provide them with one thing when you think you’re providing them with another. Because the terms are buzzy and are often used interchangeably, it’s easy for industry experts to even get them mixed up sometimes.

Here are the more succinct definitions for the terms:

Content Strategy: How you develop, plan, and manage content as an asset for every aspect of your business, or for every aspect of a website

Content Marketing: The creation and distribution of content across various mediums and channels to attract and or retain customers

A lot of businesses only focus on content marketing because it tends to be more enjoyable and less tedious to develop and manage. However, having a solid content strategy will only make your content marketing more robust and impactful. Now, it’s time to go a little deeper with these two terms to better understand how to use them and why distinguishing them from each other is important.

Content Strategy

Think of your content strategy as the internal guidelines and directions for how your content will be developed and managed. Your content strategy is essentially the blueprint for all the content in your organization. It details how all your content will be employed to accomplish your business goals. It should be updated at least once a year, especially every time your business goals change or as you learn more about your growing audience.

A good content strategy should highlight:

  • What types of content you want to publish and share
  • How you’re going to organize, track, and analyze your content
  • Where your content will be published or shared
  • Who you want to view your content and how they will find it and interact with it
  • Who will manage your content
  • The editorial process content will go through before it’s published
  • What the schedule and frequency for published and shared content will be

While it may take some time, a lot of research, drafts, and collaboration, building a solid content strategy is critical for the success of your overall business operations. It treats content like the asset it is and ensures content is not just usable, but used properly. It’s the best way to lay out the blueprint of where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and why you want to go there.

A solid content strategy encompasses the planning aspects of managing content throughout its life cycle, and aligns it to important business goals. It should strategically be evaluated, analyzed, and updated in relation to your business goals and model.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a part of your overall content strategy. It’s a piece of your business’ overall content strategy puzzle, so to speak. A great approach to content marketing has a solid content strategy behind it, but entails the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that’s explicitly created for your business’ marketing goals. This could be anything from blog posts to landing pages and email campaigns, and is designed to build a trusted relationship between your company’s products or services and the audiences that might end up buying them.

With a content marketing strategy, you lay out the actual details of content topics, and assign dates they’ll be published on content calendars that assign roles to those working on the various pieces and phases the content will go through.

While a content strategy helps you get organized and better understand what your overall content objectives are as a business, content marketing is when you develop specific pieces of content that will attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience based on those business objectives.

Very Broad Example of How Content Strategy and Content Marketing Work Together

Let’s say you determine your business needs to build more brand awareness. So, you decide to publish more blog content and share it on certain social media sites your customers frequent. You’ll more than likely do this during your content strategy planning. Next, you’ll develop a content marketing plan that details the topics you want to write about that will build brand awareness, and plot due dates for them to be published on a content calendar. After you collect the data from those published posts to see if they’re really building brand awareness, you’ll use that data to influence your next content strategy planning session. Then you’ll decide whether blog posts are indeed the best way to build brand awareness for your particular business.

Summary

It’s helpful to think of a content strategy as the content planning and content maintenance phases, while content marketing includes the phases content goes through as it’s being developed and implemented for marketing purposes. Building a content strategy that works for your business has multiple layers, and content marketing is one of those layers.


Is there something else you want to add to this distinction between a “content strategy” and “content marketing”? Leave a reply below to join the conversation.

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Grammar Rules You Can and Should Break in Your Marketing Copy

When you’ve been instructed to follow strict grammar rules since elementary school, it’s easy to focus on writing mechanics a little too much sometimes.

Even if you’re writing marketing copy and not the next treatise on human rights, you’ll still find yourself reciting things like, “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c” … as you try to convince an audience to buy a toaster oven. Some grammar rules like this have simply been repeated and used so often that they’re almost impossible to shake from memory.

While you should strive to be grammatically correct most of the time, there are times when it might not be beneficial to your marketing copy at all. This is especially the case if you’re trying to connect with and persuade an audience. If you aren’t writing the way you speak and come across as stuffy, inauthentic, and are well…boring, then your audience won’t care what you’re writing about.

As someone who has a master’s in English, it was very difficult for me to ignore some of the grammar rules that were at the core of my writing practice for so long, until I realized that I was speaking to an entirely different type of audience when writing marketing copy. I discovered that if I wanted to connect with my audience, I needed to break some common grammar rules.

Here are some of the rules you can and should break in your marketing copy.

Beginning a Sentence with a Conjunction

Rule: Don’t use a conjunction such as “and,” “but,” or “or” at the beginning of a sentence. Since conjunctions are typically used to combine or coordinate separate clauses within a sentence, a sentence can’t begin with one.

Examples:

And then they started to sing.

But due to the road closure, we were late.

Proponents of this rule claim you shouldn’t begin a sentence with a conjunction because such a sentence expresses an incomplete thought and is a fragment. However, this rule has no historical or grammatical backing. Even conservative grammarians and experienced writers often ignore it.

Writers often start sentences with conjunctions for a powerful or dramatic effect. For instance, “The nurse neglected to help the doctor in the operating room. But why?” offers a dramatic effect. They also ignore it because if the sentence contains a subject and predicate (as in, “And then I went to the park.”) it’s a sentence. If it doesn’t (“and then park”), it’s not.

If you decide to break this grammar rule, do so for a thoughtful purpose and in moderation. Remember that using conjunctions within sentences still serves a purpose too.

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

Rule: A sentence can’t end with a preposition because a preposition is supposed to relate one word or phrase to another, and is followed by the object of a sentence. Typically, prepositions are used to express place (e.g., “to the store”) or time (e.g., “before the bell”).

Examples:

“I need something to write with.”

“She wanted someone to talk to.”

This rule was related with Latin grammar hundreds of years ago and doesn’t really fit inside the realm of English grammar in modern times. Some writers will contort their sentences so unnaturally to adhere to this rule that they risk coming across as arrogant or stuffy. Winston Churchill himself once reportedly exclaimed, “That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!” to mock someone who criticized him for ending a sentence with a preposition.

If you want to have a natural and conversational tone in your copy, then ditch this rule when appropriate. For instance, it obviously sounds more natural to write, “She is someone worth talking to.” instead of “She is someone with whom it is worthwhile to talk.” And it’s more natural to write, “They must be convinced of the commitment they are taking on” instead of “Of the commitment they are taking on they must be convinced.”

Splitting Infinities

Rule: Split infinitives happen when you put an adverb between “to” and a verb. There’s no real known justification for this rule, which was originally based on comparisons in Latin grammar.

Examples:

“to diligently study”

“to happily sing”

One of the most famous split infinitives is the Star Trek slogan, “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Stating, “to go boldly where no man has gone before” just doesn’t have the same effect.

Splitting infinitives can have a strong emphatic effect in your marketing copy, making it more appealing to your audience. For example, instead of writing, “You really have to watch this.” you might want to write, “You have to really watch this.”

Substituting “Which” for “That” as a Relative Pronoun

Rule: Only “that” should introduce a restrictive clause (a clause that isn’t preceded by a comma and contains information crucial to the sentence’s meaning). “Which” should introduce clauses that are set off by a comma.

Both following examples are correct:

“Sue discovered the spatula that Aunt Beatrice had taken.”

“Sue discovered the spatula, which Aunt Beatrice had taken, in the drawer.”

Many experts conclude that this grammar rule has no basis. They claim it’s okay to say, “Sue found the spatula which Aunt Beatrice had taken.” However, most American style guides specify that “which” can only be substituted for “that” in British English. In marketing copy, however, simply use the option that sounds more natural as you’re writing.

Interchanging “Since” with “Because”

Rule: “Since” refers to time and “because” refers to cause, so they can’t be used interchangeably.

Examples:

Since she started her tutoring lessons, her grades have been better.

Because she started her tutoring lessons, her grades have been better.

The sentence above can start with either “since” or “because” and each option still makes sense. However, if you want to remain clear in your marketing copy, only use “since” in place of “because” if it’s not ambiguous and the meaning is clear.

Even though the distinction between “since” and “because” is specified in many style guides, a lot of people continue to interchange them. So, as long as your copy is clear, go ahead and use the option that reads the best.

Writing in Sentence Fragments

Rule: Every sentence should have a main clause in it that has an independent subject and a verb; and it should express a complete thought. Otherwise, it’s a fragment. Every paragraph should have at least three sentences, including a topic sentence and supporting or transition sentences. Otherwise, it’s not a complete paragraph.

Examples:

The few. The proud. The Marines.

Ridiculous! Completely ridiculous!

Trouble working out every day? Try this.

People speak in sentence fragments like these all the time, regardless of their level of education. Why? Because when you’re talking to someone, you don’t have to constantly repeat what or who you’re talking about and what is happening, in every sentence you utter. That would be completely ridiculous, unnecessary, and tedious!

Sentence fragments can also be added for emphasis, and are easier to read because they break up larger chunks of text. And they stand out. Like this.

Using Slang

Rule: Avoid using slang in anything you write for your profession if you want to keep your integrity intact.

Slang, according to Dictionary.com, is “very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid, and ephemeral than ordinary language.” Another definition offered is, “the jargon of a particular class, profession, etc.”

Examples:

Clickbait doesn’t usually yield lasting results.

Adding a freemium option could be helpful to your business model.

Let’s strive for some real synergy.

If you want your audience to relate to your message, then you need to speak their language or jargon, literally. However, do not overboard with slang words or phrases, or use terminology you aren’t familiar with. And match the slang you’re using to your audience’s knowledge base and demographic. For example, if you’re referring to the “back end” when speaking to an audience of people who build houses (not websites), they might be confused. And if you’re speaking to an audience of millennials, don’t use a bunch of acronyms like “TTYL” or “FOMO” if you have no idea what they mean.

Additionally, even if you’re using slang to connect with your audience, you should still never swear or use offensive and derogatory terms in marketing copy. And do not use language that is so informal it can be insulting, like, “hey guys” or “dude.”

Summary

There are times when it’s less important to follow strict grammar rules and more important to connect with your audience. And if you truly want to connect with them, you need to speak their language by being conversational yet professional in your copy. Sometimes this means you’ll have to break some grammar rules, like the ones listed above. While your high school English teacher might not approve, your audience certainly will.


Is there another grammar rule you like to break in your marketing copy? Share it with us by leaving a reply below!

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6 Reasons You Should Hire a Professional Copywriter

In a previous post, I highlighted content marketing trends that will likely gain traction this year. One of them (the most important one) is the growing demand for higher quality content.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of B2B marketers surveyed will increase the amount of content their organizations publish in 2017. This means the demand for professional copywriters and content experts will increase too.

CMI

*Image from page 27 of Content Marketing Institute Report

 

Do you want to get more out of your content strategy this year?

If you understand the value behind a solid content marketing strategy, like most other organizations are beginning to realize too, then of course you do. And the best way to get more out of your content strategy is to hire an experienced copywriter.

Hiring an experienced copywriter to assist you with your content strategy will help you get much more for your business or brand— much more than just a higher word count, a full library of posts, or a few extra clicks.

Here are six reasons you should hire a professional copywriter, all highlighting how you can GET MORE . 

1-Get More Time

It might be acceptable to share a hurriedly scrawled post with a few grammatical errors or opinions in it for a personal blog or personal social media account. But when you’re sharing your blog and social media posts for a business or professional page, having a strategy and well-thought-out, polished content that has a consistent message across channels is essential to success. And this takes time to develop and maintain.

If you operate your own business, you want to be able to focus on developing your products or services and perfecting them. You don’t want to have to worry about content calendars, creating relevant posts, and keeping track of it all.

When you hire an experienced copywriter, you’ll be able to do just that—get more time to focus on your work and what you do best.

Even if you enjoy writing posts and have a talent for it, an experienced copywriter can help you thoroughly research your target audience. They’ll help you sharpen your focus on where you should share your content, and what type of content your audience will find most valuable to engage with. Additionally, a copywriter can help you track the performance of your content and adapt your content strategy to new and relevant information that’s uncovered over time (e.g. marketing trends, customer spending trends, competitor trends, etc.).

Don’t struggle with keeping deadlines for content projects or let them fall to the wayside because you think you will get to it when you can.

Hire a copywriter to get more time to focus on creating even more content, developing your products or services, or focusing more on your customers.

2- Get More Content

Experienced copywriters are always perfecting their craft. They stay on top of copywriting trends and are always discovering new ways to add more value to the content they develop for their clients. Because they are always perfecting their craft through research and learning, they have a wealth of resources and information at their disposal to use for all their projects.

They have written a lot of different types of content, whether they specialize in a specific industry or not. And they can easily and quickly write well-thought-out and researched content in a way that has consistently demonstrated tangible results for their clients in the past because they have such a vast knowledge base and multiple resources to work from. The ability to quickly write content leads to there being more time to write more content.

Experienced copywriters also know how to structure content in an efficient way. This allows them to easily break content down into smaller bits, or add to it for a larger piece of content. For instance, if a blog post is properly structured, it can easily be broken down into smaller bits for multiple social media posts. Or a copywriter might decide to expand that same blog post into an e-book or white paper, depending on how the audience engages with the original post and what their feedback was.

Experienced copywriters are familiar with structuring content efficiently, allowing them to create more content in a shorter period of time, without sacrificing its quality and performance.

3- Get More Quality

Because experienced copywriters are always perfecting their craft, they know how to create quality content. They are aware of a variety of different types of content, when to use what type of content, and how to write different types of content in a way that is relevant to a specified target audience or niche.

When you hire an experienced copywriter, you will have completely original content tailored to the needs of your business, prospects and existing customers. Readers can always spot haphazardly, impersonal, or ill-conceived content, and they will ignore it.

If you want original and tailored content, a copywriter will always keep your target audience in mind and will avoid uninspired, dull, kitschy, duplicated, or copied content at absolutely all costs. Most importantly, experienced copywriters will keep in mind that it’s still your content and your brand’s story. The focus they place on your story and audience in their copy will lead to more quality content every time.

You will also be too close to your business or brand if you decide to create your own copy, whether you intend to be or not. At some point, you will get too detailed or impassioned about your business that you might begin to focus on it or the features of a product when writing your copy, instead of focusing on your prospects and what they care about. An experienced copywriter knows that quality content is always about them (your prospects), not you. A copywriter who is on the outside of your everyday business operations can always keep the perspective of your prospect or customer at the forefront.

A lot of people can write, but not everyone can write copy that converts prospects into customers, or casual readers into serious prospects. Copy that converts is quality copy.

4- Get More Leads

In addition to getting more prospects to buy, experienced copywriters know how to use their expertise to generate more leads for their clients. They develop copy that generates more leads by using learned and practiced techniques that keep prospects engaged, and existing customers coming back for more. They know how to engage customers by keeping them entertained or by providing them with valuable information on a consistent basis. They also know how to create content that prospects what to share with others, which leads to even more leads, prospects, and customers.

Additionally, experienced copywriters know SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques and trends that contribute to the overall performance of a piece of copy or content online. They know how to integrate SEO into a piece of copy without letting the copy lose its appeal or readability.

The content a copywriter produces will help you build traffic and grow an audience, leading to more leads.

5- Get More Data

This item on the list might be more of a secret to some of you.

Experienced copywriters have a wealth of knowledge and customer data because they conduct research for every single piece of copy they write. They scan through data and information relevant to a product or service every single time they write a piece of copy for a client. They do this to understand a certain target audience or niche fully so they can write something that will connect with the readers and empower them to act.

When you hire a copywriter, they will be able to provide you with a wealth of information about your prospects and customers that you may not already know.

And since all effective copy has a call-to-action in it that can be measured (i.e. how many people subscribe or buy a new product), you will be able to gather even more detailed and accurate data about your customers and what they respond to in a piece of copy. Using this real-time data about your customers will help you effectively build and evolve your overall content strategy, as well as better understand what your customers need and want from you.

6- Get More Conversions

This may be last on the list, but is essentially what all businesses need and want. And hiring an experienced copywriter will get you more conversions.

Writing effective copy that performs is a skill that is mastered over time and with practice. Experienced copywriters have done their homework and have learned what works and what doesn’t. They are skilled at not only honing in on prospects’ needs and wants, but empowering prospects to act on those needs and wants. They know how to get prospects hooked and interested in a simple, non-intimidating, conversational, and entertaining way.

If prospects feel as if you “get them” when they’re reading a piece of copy, they will feel empowered to complete a call-to-action, such as buying a product or signing up for a promotional offer.

Prospects convert into customers because of effective copy.

 

2017 is the year to publish more content so that you can stay ahead of competitors and provide your audience with what they want. In addition to simply sharing more content, it’s also time to get more…

Get more time, more quality content, more leads, more data, and more conversions for your business by hiring an experienced copywriter today.  


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Content Marketing Trends for 2017

Do you know what type of content your customers really want to consume? Do you know what engages them and influences them to buy from you? If you don’t, then it’s time to find out, and soon.

2016 was all about personalized content and social media content. While those trends will continue in 2017, there are some other trends to keep your eyes on too.

Here’s what’s critical to your content marketing strategy in 2017:

* Understanding Customer Behavior

* Immersive Content

* Automation

Check out more on each below.

Understanding Customer Behavior 

Mobile

For the last few years you’ve heard how important having a mobile marketing strategy is. If you’ve been on the fence about it, here are some stats from 2016 that might sway your decision to start implementing a mobile content marketing strategy.

  • Over 50% of searches are completed on mobile.
  • 80% of Facebook ad revenue is on mobile.
  • 90% of mobile media time is spent in apps

(source: Smart Insights)

Customers are beginning to spend more and more time on their mobile devices, so it’s imperative to understand this behavior and provide the content that’s relevant to them. You can expect new options for paid media in messaging apps, particularly Facebook Messenger, Snap Chat, and WeChat.

Native Advertising

While this trend has been on the upswing for a while, native ads will be important in 2017 since customers by and large do not respond to conventional “in-your-face” forms of advertising. Here is a great article with examples of native ads and how they work. In 2017, you can expect to see even better content included in sponsored and branded posts and media.

Customer Data & Analytics

The best way to understand your customers’ behavior is to know what type of content they are clicking on, where and how they found it, when they found it, and how often they are consuming it.

Whether you need Google Analytics or a larger platform, it’s now easier and more inexpensive than ever to get a snapshot of your customers’ online history and behavior. Here are some options you might want to explore if you haven’t started yet. Big data and analytics is no longer just for big corporations. And if you truly want to have a snapshot of what type of content your audience is truly engaging with, it’s a necessity.

Immersive Content

Augmented & Virtual Reality

When Pokémon Go hit the market in 2016, no one predicted that it would generate millions of dollars in revenue each day. It firmly set the stage for augmented reality (AR) technology that content marketers will pay attention to in 2017 and years to come. AR offers a new way to immerse your audience in experiences that are relevant to their interests and location. And, it’s fun.

Content writers can also begin to write scripts for augmented reality experiences, and will be given opportunities to bring experiences to life. Imagine virtually experiencing a cruise before ever stepping foot onto a ship’s deck.

Live and 360 Videos

After Facebook Live launched, video content creation and consumption has exponentially increased. Content consumers expect and are beginning to demand more “in-the-moment” content. They want to be immersed in an experience or story that’s relevant to them or the brand telling it.

Videos offer real-time and authentic content that can capture everything from 360 views of real estate property to a team building a robot. An important thing to remember is that most videos are viewed through social media outlets on mobile devices, and that they add a sense of transparency and authenticity that consumers are beginning to expect.

Story-Based, Niche, and Higher Quality Content

Story-based content engages audiences and makes them want to share it with others. You can use Storify (which is free for non-enterprises) to get a campaign off the ground.

Niche content will be more popular as the Internet continues to become more saturated with content in 2017. Marketers will need content that is geared toward and personalized for their particular industry niche. For instance, writing content for organic makeup is a specific niche within the overall cosmetics and beauty industry.

The debate about whether you should create more content or higher quality content to see a higher return on investment has been out there for quite some time. The truth is, if you really understand your customers and your product or service, you’ll know what content is valuable to them and how often they want to see it. Knowing this and incorporating it into your content will in turn make the qualitative value of your content higher. And if you understand your customers, you probably already understand your niche and the relevant stories that your niche will want to engage with too.

There will be an increase in demand for quality content experts in 2017. Copywriters and content experts who assess and address customer data to understand what customers want and value, and who understand that quality and personalization matter, will be essential to the success of any content strategy.

Check out some of the content services I offer, here.

Automation

Email

Email marketing is not dead. However, sending spam emails is starting to become mostly dead. It is becoming more and more unacceptable to send emails to individuals who have not shown any type of interest in your brand, or a product or service that it offers. Email automation allows you to automatically follow up with customers who have shown interest in something you offer.

Email marketing automation makes it easier to segment your funnels. It also makes it easier to follow up with leads from your website or social media channels. And it offers more opt-ins for your subscribers, among a long list of other possibilities. The best part is that it does all those things automatically. You should use automated emails to distribute dynamic and custom content to your customers, based on their real-time behavior online.

Automated and Intelligent Content

You must develop structured content that you can reuse to meet the constantly changing content needs of your customers and prospects, and the devices and platforms they view it on. Each piece of content should be enhanced with metadata and strengthened by intelligent content technologies. You want to do this so that you can easily re-purpose content without simply re-posting or rewriting the exact same content, just in another channel.

For instance, if you create a webinar, you can then transcribe it into an e-book or white paper, or share slides as social media posts to generate interest in a recording you have available. When you receive questions or comments about it from your audience, you can turn these into blog posts that your audience has already suggested (or blatantly stated) they want to read. Once you receive feedback on these blogs, you can post the questions or comments you receive about them on social media to start a conversation and use an image from your webinar series.

If your tags and metadata are structured and organized, then you can easily add or edit out information based on the type of content you are creating and sharing. Your content must be structured in such a way that it is easy to add or edit out information from it. This is an easier process for content creators and ensures relevant, timely, and non-redundant content for your audience.


The above content marketing trends can be simplified in one sentence.

If you want to succeed with content marketing in 2017, provide content that is engaging and geared toward your customers’ behavior, using automated structures and technology.

It takes a well-defined content strategy and knowledge of verified content techniques that get results.

Hire a content expert who cares about getting you the results you want!


Want to add something to the list of trends highlighted above? Share them in the comments below!

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6 Free Tools Content Creators Should Use to Get Organized

Think you’re a pro at staying organized throughout your entire content creation process? I did too, until I encountered the apps I’m going to tell you about below. The best part is that they’re all FREE.

There is a ton of software available to help content experts stay organized, and some of them are quite excellent. However, they aren’t all free or are only free during a trial period.

Here are some of the best completely FREE software and apps I’ve encountered for staying organized throughout the entire content creation process… so far.

 1-  Pocket

The first step to most content projects involves reading, getting inspired, or collecting images and research. When you’re reading an article on your desktop, mobile device, or inside different social media apps, share or save it to Pocket and refer to it or read it later. Google Chrome also has an extension available, so all you have to do to save any article in one place is push a button.

pocket.png

You can “favorite” or add tags to your articles to easily find them later, and keep them organized by topic. Pocket also sorts the content you save by articles, images, and videos. It keeps track of what you like to read about and even recommends items to you based on your interests and what others with similar interests are reading.

Use the “explore” feature organized by category to view different types of content that may not typically be something you search for or read. Pocket even provides offline and emailing features as well, if you aren’t a fan of social media or scrolling through search engines.

For research and keeping up-to -date on trends and topics in your niche, this app is perfect for keeping it all in one place regardless of the device you’re using.

2- Mind42

Mind42 is a mind-mapping tool. It’s the best tool to use to keep the ideas you’re organizing for a larger content project in one place, especially if you’re a visual person.

Let’s say you’re working on an e-book project. Insert the title in the center of your map and then add nodes to the main project for chapters or sections in the e-book. Then add items to each node. You can include notes, URL links, images, and a to-do list that marks the percentage of progress you’ve made on your tasks. You’re also able to add emoticons and share your map with others. Here’s what it would look like:

mind42.png

Use this app to keep your ideas for a larger project organized by keeping items connected to those ideas in one place.

Bonus: Mind42 also serves as a great brainstorming and collaboration tool. Other individuals can share their mind-maps with you too.

3- Workflowy

Their slogan: “Organize Your Brain.” This is a very simple app to use for content outlines. Here is what it looks like:

workflowy

Workflowy is based in the cloud and has a mobile app which means when it auto-saves your content, you’re able to access it on any device. You’re also able to share your outlines with others, and export them. Additionally, you can add tags to items on your outline with “#” to be able to search for related terms, and add “@” to tag people.

This app creates outlines that are easy to use and allows you to add items to an outline from any device.

4- Evernote

Take notes in different notebooks and keep them organized across multiple devices with this app. The notes can be as long or a short as you need.

Here are some things the app lets you do to stay organized:

  • Add images or audio recordings to notes
  • Insert links in notes
  • Attach files to notes
  • Create and sort notes by tags you customize
  • Generate to-do lists easily
  • Share notes and notebooks with others via “notelinks,” email, social media, and more
  • Chat with others inside the app
  • Set reminders on notes and be notified via email
  • Clip notes and screenshots on the web or mobile to add them to a notebook you specify

evernote.png

There are so many features with this app, I may have missed some.

Use this app to keep all your notes, information, and communications organized and in one place, across multiple devices.

5- Google Drive

You want to use Google Drive to archive and store all your documents and files in the cloud to access them on any device. Organize your files into folders and update them and share them anywhere. Evernote lets you attach Google Drive docs and files to your notes. You are also able to edit these docs and share them with others.

google_drive.png

You’ll want to have a depository of all your documents in one place so that it’s easy to access them and share them with others. Google Drive lets you do this on any device.

6- Trello

I saved the best for last. This app has it all and makes it so easy to organize content projects across multiple devices.

First, you create boards. Then you add lists to the boards. Then you add cards to each list. Inside each card, you can attach documents, links, apply due dates, create checklists, add colored labels, include comments, and more.

Here’s an example of how you can organize your content calendar with a board:

trello board

Here is an example of what a card (the box on a list) looks like when you click on it:

trello card

Easily integrate your Trello cards with Evernote and Google Drive (as well as many other apps) with Trello’s Power-Ups. The app also allows you to see everything in a calendar view. And you’re able to share comments and information with a team.

You’ll want to use Trello to keep your projects organized and detailed. The app is so intuitive to use that it won’t even seem like you’re working.


Have you used a FREE software or app not listed here that helps you keep your content tasks organized? Please share with us in the comments below!

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