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Seventy-six percent of B2C marketers report using content marketing, yet only 37% say their strategy is actually effective. Blindly pursuing content marketing and hoping it works isn’t a useful strategy. In the early days of social media, a single tweet could be heard around the world. Brands just had to show up and chat, post a few coupons, engage with whatever audience happened to be hanging around, and their content would practically share itself. Today’s consumers are savvier and more discerning about what they pay attention to. Content fatigue overwhelms the masses, and it’s tough to attract the attention of your audience, let alone convert customers.

It’s not a revolutionary concept that you need a content strategy to succeed in marketing. But what does that actually look like? With rapid shifts in marketing trends, and the availability of new technology to track engagement and automate communication, it’s more important than ever to figure out how your content marketing plan works. Here’s how to get started.

One thing remains consistent in the content marketing world despite game-changing trends: document your strategy. The Content Marketing Institute’s annual research found that those who document their content marketing strategies are more likely to consider themselves effective, feel less challenged by every aspect of it, and were able to justify spending more of their budget on it.

There’s no end to how far you can take your documentation, but focus on a core outline and actionable steps. Start by building your case for using content marketing with an outline of channels to approach, content you want to produce, and end goals. Back up your efforts by meeting regularly with your marketing team to reassess your strategy and make adjustments as needed.

Develop an Audience Persona

You have probably already developed and rely on several customer avatars to better identify exactly who your target market is and how to market to them. But you also need an audience persona to effectively execute your content marketing strategy.

Identify exactly who your audience is across your social media channels, blog readers, YouTube viewers, and anywhere else you plan to host your content. Go beyond just jotting down who this audience is and what they want, and develop an actual persona that covers what their pain points are and how they interact with different types of content.

For example, a cosmetics brand might develop a YouTube audience persona who is looking for eye makeup tutorials and asking questions about specific techniques in the comments field. That audience may also click on interactive video elements to upload a selfie and see how the product works on their own face, then share it via Facebook or Twitter.

Match Your Best Ideas to the Best Channels

Your most profound content ever produced will largely fall on deaf ears when used on the wrong channel. Instead, chart out your ideas and narrow them down until you find a handful that best match your brand’s voice. Now where should you share your article, video, or infographic and kick off the content cycle? A lengthy blog post on business innovation that mentions some of your key [entity display=”LinkedIn” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” activated=”false” deactivated=”true” key=”linkedin” ticker=”LNKD” exchange=”NYSE” natural_id=”fred/company/90846″]LinkedIn[/entity] followers works better directly on that platform than on every [entity display=”social media” type=”section” active=”false” key=”/social-media” natural_id=”channel_3section_76″]social media[/entity] channel you can find. Then, if you want to cross-promote your content on [entity display=”Twitter” type=”organization” subtype=”company” active=”false” key=”twitter” ticker=”TWTR” exchange=”NYSE” natural_id=”fred/company/102047″]Twitter[/entity], just pull out the best quotes and statistics to share with that audience.

Remember that finding success with your content on the right channels can be hit or miss. However, there is a science to figuring it out a little more strategically than simply throwing everything out there and seeing what sticks. Study what’s trending on various channels and pay attention to the most clicked-on headlines and buzzwords. What type of content earns the most engagement? Emulate those successes by incorporating similar content and finding relevant influencers on those channels to share it.

Think Fast

These days, content marketers are all talking about big, epic content complete with content upgrades and stand-alone content sites. The strategy certainly works well and can revolutionize your content marketing efforts. But it can also fall flat if you’re not looking at how it’s optimized for mobile, whether your audience is using a tablet or other mobile device.

In a world where mobile is now the leader in search and is the future of marketing, it’s crucial to focus on how users are finding our content and what they’re actually doing with it. Are they sharing it? Clicking on it? Uploading it to Instagram? Don’t wait to figure it out; start tracking engagement and shares in careful detail now. Google sent marketers scrambling when they started penalizing websites who weren’t optimized for mobile search. But they also announced that apps allowing Google to index their content would rank better in mobile search than those who don’t.

Incorporate the User Experience

Without a solid user experience, your content efforts will be largely dismissed and never see a continued content cycle leading to a sale. Creating high-end content is only the first step in your content marketing strategy. Next, ensure that users can easily engage with your content, whether they’re on a desktop or mobile device.

Pick up every mobile device you can get your hands on and check to see that calls to action can be quickly filled out and submitted with the push of a button. Is your primary content above the fold? Do users know what to do once they get to your mobile site? Examine how fast your pages load and how quickly icons respond to a click. Use a heat map from Crazy Egg to figure out where your users are hanging out the most on your site.

Embrace Social Media as a Channel

Daniel Newman explored how marketers will finally embrace social media as a channel and not just a strategy in 2016. Limiting your efforts to only Twitter, or even the entire menu of social media options, can ultimately tank your content marketing efforts. Instead, incorporate social media as just one of many channels that fully support your content marketing campaign.

Think of social media as just one part of your audience’s omni-channel content marketing campaign. How will you integrate it from one channel to the next Your channels need all of the pieces of your content to work together seamlessly and offer the same quality, optimization, and personalization regardless of where they land. Will you be ready when they do?

Go Offline

It’s easy to forget that content marketing should also work as seamlessly offline as online. Overlooking what your customers are doing outside the realms of social media is a missed opportunity for further engagement and brand awareness. And failing to identify what type of content works offline, how it intersects with your online content marketing, and creating a cross-promotional opportunity, is an exercise in lost revenue.

For example, Honest Tea writes words of wisdom right inside its bottle caps to complement what they’re doing online. The surprising and quirky little messages inspire their customers to take snapshots and selfies of the bottle caps and share them  through their social networks. This simple process helps share the experience and nudge along the sales cycle while retaining a cohesive experience.

What does your 2016 content marketing strategy look like? Leave a comment and let me know below.

I originally published this post on Forbes.

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Guest Post by Ross Simmonds. I’ve known Ross for the last two years. Over the last few years I’ve witnessed Ross do two amazing things : drive massive traffic to Slideshare & How to build a six figure consulting business. I invited Ross to guest post to share his tips on how you can do the same. Take it away Ross:

Today I’m going to show you some of the tactics I used to build a freelance business that last year did more than $250k in revenue.

And this was accomplished without spending any money on advertising through efforts like Adwords, Facebook or LinkedIn. But before I get into that, let me give you a bit of background on myself.

My name is Ross Simmonds and I’m a digital marketing strategist, author and entrepreneur. Over the last few years, I’ve worked with everything from startups to Fortune 500 companies around the world. I’ve recently written a book that includes my top 100 tips for making your first $100K in revenue after I was able to crack the six figure mark the first year I quit my job.

And in this post, I’m going to share with you some of my best tips.

Be aware – This isn’t a blog post filled with the generic advice like ‘add value’ or ‘engage’ with your audience. I’m talking about straight to the point pieces of advice that I wish I knew when I first got started.

Let’s get to it… Continue reading Three Actionable Tactics That Can Help You Make Six Figures As A Freelancer

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A huge chunk of what I talk about on this site relates to content marketing. I’ll talk about how to create it, how to optimize it, and how to help it go viral. What I don’t often touch on, is the distinction between content marketing in B2C industries and content marketing in B2B industries.

This is because, despite sharing a lot of common ground, both B2C and B2B content marketing come with their own, unique challenges. So to cover both sides fairly, I would essentially have to write two versions of the same post, and at the risk of sounding like a child… I don’t want to do that.

Instead, I usually try to generalize a little and include tips and ideas that can be applied across the board.

Today, however, I’m going to distinguish clearly between both types of marketing and look at how to design an effective content strategy – whatever industry or audience you’re trying to tap into. Continue reading Difference Between B2B vs B2C Content Marketing

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For the last eight weeks, I’ve been traveling the world, hosting my Growth Chat dinners and speaking at conferences and other business events. It’s been a great experience all around, but one conference stood out in particular – the RD Summit in Brazil hosted by Resultados Digitais, where I was honored to be the keynote speaker. The event focused on inbound marketing and drew more than 3,200 people – an impressive number for a relatively young company.

Now that I’m home and have had a chance to reflect, here are a few of the things that made the event truly special:

The event’s infectious energy

As a speaker, I’ve never felt as taken care of as I did at the RD Summit. I don’t speak Portuguese, so I felt like I was wandering around lost a lot of the time, but I had a team of about 20 people who helped me with everything from getting coffee to showing up at the right place, at the right time. Continue reading The Disneyland Effect: How Businesses Can Throw Successful Conference

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There are few better ways of building brand buzz than content marketing. In short: done well, it works. But that’s easier said than done. Great content takes time and is hard work. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of tools that can help you create better content and get better results, faster.

Here are 10 of them:

Continue reading 10 Time-Saving Content Marketing Tools to Add to Your Arsenal

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In 2013 there were more than 50 billion app downloads from Google’s Android market. In 2014, Apple hit 75 billion app downloads. It’s predicted that in 2017, there will be more than 268 billion downloads, resulting in $77 billion revenue for their developers.

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I think it’s safe to say that mobile apps are seriously big business. But what does this mean for marketers?

First of all, it means that if your company doesn’t already have an app, you should probably consider designing one – especially if your competitors are.

It also means that if you do have an app, while downloads and use (in the market generally) will grow, so will your competition. Consequently, if you want to make your mark in the mobile app market, you’re going to have to up your game when it comes to driving traffic to your app and boosting downloads.

Stick with me while we take a look at how you can get started with growth hacking for mobile apps… Continue reading Growth Hacking for Mobile Apps

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Consumers trust recommendations from people they know above all else. This usually means friends, family, and colleagues.

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However the growth of platforms like YouTube and Instagram has led to a massive wave of new influencers in all manner of niche industries, many of whom boast huge followings. Their recommendations are dictating what lots of us wear, buy, and do. They influence where we travel and how we get there. The music we listen to. Even the food we do, and don’t, eat. Their influence over the behavior of consumers is immeasurable, but immense.

Take, for example, “yogi enthusiast” Adriene Mishler whose YouTube channel “Yoga with Adriene” boasts just short of a million followers, and whose videos regularly top a million views.

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Or AsapSCIENCE whose fun, lively, and unique approach to science has seen them amass more than four million YouTube subscribers in just over four years.

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The fact is that while most of us do still value the opinion of those closest to us (in a list of “most trustworthy sources of information” a UK survey placed bloggers third, after family and friends, respectively), influencer marketing is a very, very powerful tool.

However, getting started with influencer marketing – and, more importantly, getting it right – is easier than said than done. You might think that picking a handful of influencers and sending your products will get the job done, but I’m sorry to tell you: it’s not that easy.

As with all forms of marketing, getting the most out of influencer marketing means planning, strategizing, monitoring, and measuring. Stick with me while I take you through 10 strategies for getting influencer marketing right. Continue reading Influencer Marketing: 10 Strategies for Getting It Right

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I usually speak at 10 conferences a year on Growth, SEO, Content Marketing & SaaS Marketing. If you’d like me to speak at your next event, conference, worksop or webinar please email me.

Upcoming Presentation Dates:

January 11th:  Internet Mastermind Vancouver on How I Made 342k From An eBook

January 22th: Minneanalytics on How Growth & Analytics Can Work Together

February 23th: Mixergy.com Interview 

March 23rd: Prezi Webinar: Content Marketing in Boring Industries

April 6th: Sales Hacker Melbourne, Australia on How Sales & Marketing = Growth

April 7th & 8th: Growth Hacking Workshop in Melbourne, Australia

April 7th: Kiss Metrics Webinar:  Growth Hacking

April 14th & 15th: Growth Hacking Workshop in Sydney, Australia

My presentations combine real life examples (with data/analytics), storytelling and actionable steps leaving the attendees with the inspiration & motivation to take action on everything they’ve learned.

I’m comfortable speaking in front of a few dozen people to a few thousand people

Previous Presentations:

MSNBC Your Business Interview

How to Web 2015 in Bucharest, Romania

Re\Vision New York City

CrowdFire Live Q&A

Arkena #Bitesize Videos

Webinar: Guide to Republishing Content

My 2015 Recap

Be sure to visit my about page to learn more about me.

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The stickiness of your website is the differentiating factor between a visitor and a customer, between visits and an audience, and between true ROI and traffic that just won’t convert.

Over the years, I’ve seen first hand as hundreds of startups have come and gone, and do you know what every single one of them had in common? A distinct lack of stickiness on their website, software, or product.

Don’t let me see you make that same mistake!

There’s a direct correlation between the amount of time people spend on a website and the chance they’ll convert. Simply put, if you want to run a website that makes money, you need to have a website that makes visitors want to stick around. You need to be sticky.

Not there quite yet? Here are a few fool-proof tips (along with data-driven evidence) to help you create a website that makes your visitors stick. Continue reading The Science of Stickiness: A Data-Driven Guide to Creating a Website People Want to Visit

social proof

Many – many – factors contribute to the decisions we make and how our lives are shaped, but one of the strongest influencers on our day-to-day lives is social proof.

Put simply, social proof is the driving force that compels us to mimic the choices of others. It exists because, as a society, we naturally pull together and behave as a “pack.” When used in marketing, social proof monetizes the fact that, if enough people are seen doing something, others are likely to follow suit.

A great example of this is the way we tend to act when choosing a restaurant. If we walk past a restaurant with no one dining inside, we usually take this as a sign of a poor establishment and move on. On the other hand, if we come across a restaurant that’s packed with diners, we make the assumption that it must be good and are likely to head inside ourselves.

Of course, social proof is an unreliable metric. I’ve had excellent meals in places where I’ve sat at the only occupied table, and terrible meals in restaurants where I had to wait for a table. The real reason one restaurant might be busy and another empty might be marketing, location, or, simply, the snowball effect of social proof.

Interestingly, the flip side of the coin is also true: social proof doesn’t always lead to positive actions. Social proof is simply evidence that others are doing something – that “something” isn’t necessarily something “good,” and it can be used (either intentionally or unintentionally) to encourage us to act in unfavorable ways. Continue reading How (and How Not) to Use Social Proof