The Point

Archive for the ‘Content marketing’ Category


9 Unforgettable Tips for Writing Headlines that Work [Video & Infographic]

When you battle for attention in the noise fest that is the Internet, the most important skill you could possibly possess is headline writing. Your headline is going to be the make-or-break element that determines whether or not your content is read.

I want to help make you a better headline writer.

I’ve created a cheat sheet you can use to hone your headline writing. It’s ultra-simple. I spell out 9 tips based on the word HEADLINES. I’ve made it an acronym, a memory device. Each letter is one of the 9 tips… easier to remember, right?



Interactive Content: It Makes You Think (And Respond)

Interactive content makes you think

“By its very nature, interactive content engages participants in an activity: answering questions, making choices, exploring scenarios. It’s a great way to capture attention right from the start. Individuals have to think and respond; they can’t just snooze through it.”

~ Scott Brinker, ion interactive, author of, in a guest post on Copyblogger

Internet. Interactive. The two were destined to collide.

The term “internet” came to be because it connected networks. The prefix “Inter” means “between.” It follows that “interactive” means “action between.” Or something like that.

The point is we were destined to interact online. We live for interaction and the Internet lives to give it to us.

Content marketers are getting “inter” it

The real measure of any form of marketing is action. In older and traditional channels, the actions we measured tended to include phone calls, faxes, coupon redemptions, sales meetings, and maybe sales. Remember “tip in” cards in trade magazines?

Today, with content marketing ruling the online space, marketers often measure more actions, and certainly, less meaningful ones: shares, clicks, even views. This is not to say content marketers don’t measure the more substantial actions. The good ones do.

The good ones also realize engagement is all-important. Building brand affinity leads to building the relationship that leads to building trust that leads to building sales that leads to building business. Got all that?

Enter interactive content. On the battlefield that is content marketing, reading, watching, listening to, or downloading something may be the equivalent to firing a shot, but getting a prospect emotionally involved via interaction is a hit.

“Engaging a target audience” is an important excerpt from Content Marketing Institute’s definition of content marketing. According to nearly every marketing research study, it’s also consistently proven to be amongst our toughest challenges.

Marketers succeed when their audience not only consumes content, but also enjoys and acts upon it. Understanding this principle, more and more content marketers are stepping-up their static content to create content customers can interact with.



Digital Marketing Basics: Simplified and Comprehensive

Digital marketing basics

Marketing works differently now.

Push is out. Pull is in.

You have to think inbound.

Traditional “outbound” marketing tactics that dominated the pre-Google world are now alarmingly ineffective. We all have the power to filter out advertising and we’re not afraid to use it.

The customer is in control. The communications process begins if and when the customer wants. Without advertising. Without phone calls. Without you.

Instead of pushing out messages via paid media, to reach this customer, you must put the power of content marketing, search, and social media to work. The relationship with your brand begins there.

SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads
(such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
~ Search Engine Journal

To be an effective marketer, you have to do a complete 180. The strategy is to pull people to your website with magnetic content.

Additional resource: introduction to inbound marketing.

Define objectives by beginning with the end in mind

“Our digital marketing isn’t working.” 

The great thing about digital marketing is how easy it is to measure results. So if you say the program isn’t working, it’s only a valid assessment if you’ve defined what “working” actually means.

Your sales and marketing team must agree on the program’s objective. Objectives differ from company to company, site to site, and program to program. Generally speaking, the mission is to generate traffic, leads and sales.

Are you aiming to expand an email database? Sell off the page? Foster word of mouth?

You’re going to experience failure and success. Digital marketing is forever experimental. You know what you need to conduct a meaningful experiment, right?

You need an outcome.

Additional resource: fast-track approach to setting objectives and planning.



Content Marketing Experts: #CMWorld Speakers Answer 8 Great Questions

Content Marketing Experts #CMWorld2015Content Marketing World – the grandest of content marketing conferences – is next week. Leading up to the event, the team from Content Marketing Institute asked the experts speaking at the conference to answer 8 thoughtful questions on content marketing.

The answers have been shared in a series of blog posts published by CMI over the past two months. I’ll share links to all the posts at the end of this post, so you can read the responses from many content marketing experts, but first, here are the answers I offered (most are included in CMI’s series).

What brand(s) do you think excels at creating content that really pushes the envelope on what can be accomplished with content marketing? Why – and what can content marketers learn from this?

Dollar Shave Club leaps to mind because every touch point is fun. Do I look forward to grooming? Hell no. But I definitely look forward to Dollar Shave Club’s next video, post, social media update, email, and especially their packaging.

When you make the mundane insanely exciting, you make people smile. Joy may be hard to measure by way of marketing metrics, but it’s the universal spark of the spender.

At the risk of fixating on bathroom activities, I have to offer this post in which I examine seven great content marketers who know how to put a smile on your face even though the products they sell are all about the potty.

Sadly, though some B2B marketers push (or at least deliver) the envelope, it’s awfully rare they bring a sense of humor to bear. I’d sure like to see it though.



Hotties: Trends Rocking Content Marketing in 2015

Hot trends rocking content marketing


I want to show you two rocking articles about hot trends rocking content marketing this year. They’ll be around for awhile shaping the scene, so you’ll want to know a bit about them.

The first one’s titled “7 Smoking Hot Changes Coming to Content Marketing.” It comes from the blog of content marketing maniac Jeff Bullas, whose work often smokes, but is written by up-and-comer Andy Preisler. He looks pretty stern in his profile pic, but his writing is fun. And this post of his packs a ton of power. Andy digs into:

  1. Making mobile a priority
  2. Visual content [Here’s my how-to on eye-popping, reader-stopping, social media rocking visual marketing]
  3. Content personalization
  4. Collaborative marketing (great topic)
  5. The increasing investments companies are making in content
  6. Condensing content to make it more clickable
  7. The ascent of analytics

Read the full article at:

envelope pushers

How brands big and small are rocking content marketing today

This is the first in a series from Content Marketing Institute that will run on 8 consecutive Fridays (it launched July 17). You’re likely to hear more from me about it because (1) I know it’s going to be awesome, and (2) I’ve contributed to it.



100 Ways Your Company Loses to Better Online Marketers

It's a jungle online

It’s a jungle out there.

Online marketing has become a wild animal. But you don’t have to be a gorilla to dominate. Nor do you have to go ape and do absolutely everything. However, you do indeed need to understand what’s working for the leaders of the pack.

I thought I’d survey the landscape and give you my take on how the most cunning companies are killing it with online marketing tactics. So here you are: 100 ways companies are thriving on the wild, wild web.



Eye-Popping, Reader-Stopping, Social Media-Rocking Visual Marketing

Eye Popping Visual Marketing

Presenting Visual Strategies for Smart Content Marketing

It’s often said, a picture is worth a thousand words.

But are they worth a thousand bucks? They can be because they start conversations. They attract attention. Pictures help you tell stories. They stop web surfers and turn them into readers, which is often a crucial first step toward winning a customer.

In this age of information overload the competition is fierce and the noise level is immeasurable. Getting you to read this article is a major feat. I’ve done something right.

We’re human. Our ability to take in information may be large, but it’s limited. Our attention spans are short and getting shorter.

As marketers, our first and most pressing goal is to get noticed. The challenge then evolves to keeping the reader’s interest for a short spell and making some sort of connection during the brief moment in time.

This decade’s seen explosive popularity of image-centric social channels like Instagram and Pinterest. Every social media network not considered to be visually magnetic is moving fast to overcome the problem.

And every marketer who hasn’t yet mastered the nuances of visual marketing needs to get on it. If you’re not acing the aesthetic parts of content marketing, you can expect to see your audience engaging with companies that are.

Your content needs to feature photos, images, and visuals that woo and wow. I’m hoping the rest of this post will help you understand how get it done effectively.



Content Marketing Roles: A Guide to Building Your Team

Content Marketing rolesHelp wanted? Let me help you with that.

Sooooo… You know you need to keep nailing your content marketing to increase traffic, leads and sales. And (I hope) you also know success in content marketing is enjoyed only by companies committed to hiring the best talent.

Content development director Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute recently wrote:

Each year we track the challenges marketers are having with content marketing in our research. This year, one challenge was far more pronounced than it has been: finding trained content marketing professionals. 

Unsurprisingly, I’ve found in addition to a huge demand for hiring talented content marketers, companies are craving advice for how to go about it. As a content marketer and writer (who’s often hired to help market various types of marketing solutions), I’ve also found myself tackling these “help wanted” challenges a lot lately.

I encourage you to gather and read these resources, however, I’m going to roll much of the material up and into this post to help accomplish this mission. (more…)


The Content Marketing Challenges Doing You In

Content Marketing Challenges
Failure is an option.
In content marketing, the fails outnumber the successes 2:1.

I’ll assume you want to be on the right side of this ratio. But recent history suggests it’s more likely you’ll go left and meet the fate of the majority.

There are a number of reasons content marketers fail. If you want to summarize them all in one swoop for the sake of simplicity, it’d go something like this:

Content marketers want shortcuts to success, but there are none.

Content marketing expert John Miller of ScribeWise broke the problem down into six content marketing challenges. I got excited when I read his post about how the majority of content marketers fail because I’ve offered extensive advice (which I’m going to share again) for addressing each of the problems, which are:

  • No content marketing plan
  • Ill-equipped team
  • Low priority
  • Lack of content ideas
  • Self-centered content
  • Poor reach

If you want shortcuts, I don’t recommend you spend another second with this article. If you want insights on how to become a successful content marketer for the long haul, read on. I’ll be showing you resources that detail the solutions for each problem, so your reading list will be substantial.

Ready? Here are the problems—and the solutions.

You don’t have a content marketing plan

In recent years, Content Marketing Institute’s studies reveal approximately one-third of marketers have documented a content strategy.

They wing it.

No objectives. No mission statement. No personas. And it follows, they seldom have content mapped to the buyer’s journey—or an editorial calendar.

Markers must think, “Who needs a strategy?” The answer is: effective content marketers. I realized marketers feel overwhelmed by the process, so I simplified content marketing planning to its most essential elements.

Here’s the article, The Content Marketing Plan that Quadruples Your Leads.

Here’s the bulk of the content in a slide deck, which provides you a template.

Fast Track Your Content Marketing Plan from Barry Feldman

Here’s me presenting this lesson in a webinar.

A party of one can seldom get it done. Achieving success in content marketing takes a strategist, managing editor, writers, and more. As you expand into media beyond written works, you need to hire or contract additional specialists.

The skills that are useful in a traditional marketing department don’t always translate perfectly to a content-oriented team.

I don’t want to say you need to field a large team or toss in the towel, but you do need to tool your team to align with your needs. You must understand where to begin and a employ a smart approach for onboarding more talent as you scale.

I’ve written the perfect thing and it was designed to address the needs of companies large or small.

Here’s the guide, Tool Your Marketing Team with the Right Talent, published by Demand Media.

Tool Your Content Marketing Team

Here’s advice for hiring freelance writers from a post I wrote for Content Marketing Institute, How to Hire Freelance Writers Who Make Your Content Better.

Hire freelancers

Content marketing isn’t a priority at your company

The best intentioned marketers often say they have people focused on content creation. But client work comes first and pre-empts production.

If content marketing isn’t a priority, it simple doesn’t get done. It’s not good enough to have the planners, people, and processes unless they’re focused on setting schedules and abiding by them. Not for a month. Or a quarter. Or a year.

You have to commit to devoting resources to executing content marketing forever more.

Here’s an article explaining the chasm between success and failure.

Here’s why content marketing isn’t for everybody.

And here’s Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, explaining how your content needs to come from people inside your company, but outside the marketing department.


You don’t know what to create content about

I feel this is only a short-term dilemma. You catch on after swimming in the content marketing waters for six to twelve months.

You get a feel for which topics resonate with your customers and create leads. You find sources of inspiration to draw from. You create conversations that inspire new ideas and marketing assets worthy of repurposing.

It’s coming out of the gate where you’re bound to struggle for subject matter and (with the help of Marcus) I can tell you exactly what to create content about: the questions prospects ask. It’s not the least bit complicated.

Read this, the most effective content marketing tip ever. You’ll be busy creating content for a good spell.

CM tip


Here’s Marcus once again, laying down the laws of content marketing success.

You think your content should be about your company

This problem is older than time. The self-centered marketer failed miserably in advertising dominated era and continues to chase away buyers today with online content.

Smart content strategy is not promotional. Get it? So many nod their heads and say they understand, but prove they do not by publishing the “we, we, we” and “me, me, me” garbage that bombs.

This article uncovers the hard truth, like it or not, The Most Effective Online Marketers Focus on One Thing.

Eye chart


Your killer content isn’t reaching an audience

People love blogs. And infographics. And YouTube videos. And so on.

Why don’t they love yours? Isn’t the key to content marketing creating great content? It’s not. It’s the table stakes, as they say.

I know you’ve read the frightening facts about the volume of content available in the information age. We’ve come a long way from the age of three TV networks. Or a leading source of news.

The “channels” are now as infinite as the creators. The webosphere can now be divided (though sometimes subtlety) between owner, earned and paid media. And your content marketing success will depend on you making strides in all three.

I wrote an eBook on this subject—content distribution—in collaboration with my friends at CoSchedule.

I want you to read “Amplify Content, Turn Up Demand, which you can get here. It’s a deep and valuable study on content distribution, if I do say so myself.

Amplify content

Here’s me presenting much of the advice in a webinar.

Much of your reach with earned media is dependent on your social media chops, so if you need help getting started with social media, here’s a resource you’ll benefit from. It’s one of the most well-received pieces I’ve created, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Want to be the first to know about EVERY online marketing lesson I create? Put your email in the field below.

Content marketing is challenging. I’m on a mission to help you nail it.


Digital Marketing Lead Generation Strategies [Free eBook]

Free ebook Three Deep Marketing

I wrote a 40-page eBook covering today’s most effective digital marketing lead generation strategies. It was recently published by Three Deep Marketing, a sizable agency in Minnesota that’s one of the nation’s premier practitioners of data-driven digital marketing. From content marketing to marketing automation and many other tactics, the eBook covers a lot of ground. You can scroll down to see the chapters list. Go here to download the eBook in its entirety. Or check out how the book begins here and now….

The story begins with the predictably unpredictable buyer

The customer’s buying path is forever unpredictable. The only thing that is predictable is they will do their research.

You’re doing research here and now. You might pull the trigger soon. You might not.

buyer journeyIn a way, you’re a lot like everyone else. The decision you’ll make—in this case, about your company’s marketing—will be an informed one. You’ll put in the time, do your homework and make an informed decision.

And in a way, you’re unlike anyone. You’ll bounce around from source to source however you please. No one knows the path you’ll take—including you.

Let’s lay it on the line. Buyers command the buying process now. They absorb information like sponges, but don’t stand in line to get it. They go online and get it entirely on their terms.

If you want them to consider buying from you, you have to buy into the realities of the new media landscape. You have to map your marketing to their journey. And again, the journey’s wildly unpredictable.

Go ahead and gulp. In the 2010s decade, marketing and media have matured. Keeping up with the changes is a priority, but a highly challenging ambition. Deny the dominance of digital marketing and you’ll go down in defeat. Digitally savvy companies shall inherit the earth.

This eBook is a roadmap of sorts. Our hope is it will equip you with the insights you’ll need to achieve success in the age of the carefully considered decision.