Overcoming Common Content Marketing Roadblocks

The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing

Written by Neil Patel & Kathryn Aragon

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Overcoming Common Content Marketing Roadblocks

Because content marketing involves more than publishing a few blog posts, and because content creation demands a huge commitment of time and resources, there are a lot of roadblocks that can slow your progress.

Some of them are obvious: dealing with writer’s block, for instance. Others stem from wrong thinking about what content marketing is and how to manage it.

So in this chapter, we’ll talk about ways you can overcome ten common obstacles:

  1. Overcoming writer’s block
  2. Finding good writers
  3. Creating content faster & easier
  4. Getting your readers engaged
  5. Recycling ideas by repurposing your content
  6. Thinking like a publisher
  7. What to do when projects don’t come together
  8. Avoiding salesy content
  9. Managing a content marketing team
  10. Building your list

As you implement the strategies in the rest of this guide, it’s likely you’ll get blogged down at some point. That’s normal. But rather than getting frustrated, check here to see if it’s one of these ten. Then try out the tactics we share.

Of course, you can be proactive and put them to work before you get stuck, and you’ll reach your goals in record time.

Ready? Here we go…

Overcoming writer’s block

Whether you believe in writer’s block or not, you’ve likely experienced something similar at least once.

When ideas don’t pop and words don’t flow, it’s usually because you haven’t done enough planning or research, you don’t know your main point, or you haven’t organized your thoughts.

Here’s what to do when that happens.

  1. Back up a little and rethink your topic.

    If you have writer’s block, it’s usually because you didn’t complete one step before moving to the next.

    So wherever you are in the creative process, back up one step and put more work into that stage of the process. That will usually help you get moving again.

  2. Deal with procrastination

    Sometimes it isn’t writer’s block, but procrastination that stops us from being able to write.

    In many cases, this stems from doubt in our ability to create the project we envision. Other times, we dread starting because the project seems too big or overwhelming. Sometimes, it’s both.

    A good way to overcome this form of procrastination is this three-step process:

    1. Break down the project into individual tasks.
    2. Give yourself a hard deadline for completing each one.
    3. Make yourself accountable to someone.
  3. Give yourself regular intervals of work & rest.

    The creative process can be more exhausting than you realize. By scheduling work sessions and short rest sessions, you can often keep your creative juices flowing.

    Here’s how to do that:

    • Go low-tech with an egg timer.

      • Set your timer for 30 minutes (or whatever chunk of time is appropriate for the task at hand).

      • Close your email and social media, then sit down and work. Do not get up until the timer goes off. In many cases, even if you’re blocked, sheer boredom will force you to start working, and once work starts, you gain momentum.

      • When the timer rings, take a 10-minute break. This is your chance to stand up and stretch, check your email, or get a snack.

      • Set your timer and begin again.

    • Or use the online resource: Pomodoro.

      You can find this program at http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/
      Here’s how it works:

      • Choose a task to complete now.

      • Set the pomodoro timer to 25 minutes.

      • Work on the task until the timer rings.

      • Check off the task as complete.

      • Take a 5-minutes break.

      • Repeat this three more times, then take a longer break.

  4. Give yourself permission to write badly

    In most cases, writer’s block results from severe resistance to a project because you don’t think you can reach the level of perfection you imagine.

    The only way to overcome this type of resistance is to allow yourself to write badly.

    When you give yourself permission to write badly, you remove the blocks related to perfectionism. So you’re more likely to stick with a project — even if you don’t like your first draft.

    Here’s why it works: Once you have a draft (even a bad one), you can revise and tweak until it’s good. (Revising is usually easier than writing.)

    Tips that can help you get started writing

    1. If you have trouble finding the right words, here are some tools:

      Onelook.com is an online reverse dictionary. It’s great for finding the exact word when the right word won’t come to mind. Simply type an asterisk and colon in the search bar, then the word you want a synonym for.

      Click “Search,” and OneLook generates a list of words that have your search term in its definition. If the word you want isn’t in the list, repeat your search with one of the words in this list. Keep going until you find the word you’re looking for

      Here are some print resources that can also help:

      • Word Menu, by Random House

        This book offers lists of words that relate to different categories, or topics, such as acting, basketball, or space. Each category provides a glossary of words related to the topic, as well as common phrases and examples.

    2. If you’re stuck for how to organize or what to write

      If you’re stuck in the organizing stage or the writing stage, the prescription is the same: more research.

      If you’re having trouble organizing your ideas, research will give you more material to work with.

      If you’re having trouble writing a particular section, research can help you figure out what’s missing.

      It’s common for content writers to flip back and forth between planning and research, or research and writing.

    3. If you can’t figure out what your point it…

      Generally, if you haven’t figured out the main point you want people to walk away with, you’ll stay blocked until you figure it out.

      One of the best ways to find your point is to write the conclusion first. The conclusion generally gives the bottom line point of your entire piece. So write it first, and you’ll be forced to summarize what your project is all about.

    4. If you don’t know where to start…

      Few writers start at the beginning and write through to the end. So don’t worry if you aren’t able to.

      Write the body of your content, one section at a time. Start with the section you’re most comfortable writing. Then jump from one section to another until you’re done.

    5. If the blank page is intimidating…

      The secret to getting over this block is to put something — anything — on the page.

      That’s one of the reasons we suggest copying your notes from the editorial planner into your document before you start writing. And it’s why we teach content writers to create the subheads before starting to write each section.

      Not only does this give you a rough outline to keep you on track, it also puts words on the page, so it’s easier to get started.

Not a writer?
Here’s where to find one

If you aren’t a writer, you can still step into content marketing. You simply need to find good writers who know how to create engaging content in your brand’s voice and style.

Ways to find good content writers:

  1. American Writers and Artists Inc. (AWAI).
    sample ad for AWAI job listing.

    1. Visit the writer directory

      at http://www.awaionline.com/freelancer-directory/.

    2. Review the list of writers.

      If you see a Circle of Success seal on the writer’s image, it means he or she has undergone advanced copywriter training.

      Click on the writer’s picture, and a pop-up appears with their credentials.

      Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #1

      Recommendation:

      1. Look for an experienced writer with portfolio pieces & testimonials.
      2. Visit their website and evaluate their own content or marketing. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect when they write for you.
    3. Contact the writers you’re interested in.

      Here’s a template for your email:

      Subject: I’d like to discuss a project

      OR: Are you interested?

      I am looking for a content writer to write [name the type of content you need here].

      [Tell something about your company or organization—who you are and what you do.]

      [Tell what your challenge is and list the specific tasks you need done.]

      [If appropriate, give your timeframe for completing the project.]

      If this project sounds interesting to you, I’d like to talk. Please email with your phone number and times that are convenient for us to talk.

      Thanks for your time.

      You can reach me at: [YourContactInformation]

      Best regards,

      [YourName]

  2. Place an ad in AWAI’s copywriter job board.

    1. Visit http://www.directresponsejobs.com/members/main/.
      Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #2
    2. Click on the “Marketers” tab & “Create a Marketer Account.”
      Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #3
      1. After signing in,
        you’ll see this welcome message:
        Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #4

        From here, you can create an ad for your project (Add a Job) or see listings for writers seeking work (Search for Writers & Artists).

      2. To create an ad, click on “Add a Job”
        Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #5

        You’ll be taken to a form for providing details of your project.

      3. Under “Job Category,” select the most appropriate term from the drop-down menu.
        Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #6

        To find a content writer, select “Blogging” or “Copywriting.”

      4. You have four choices for “Work Type.”

        Full-time and part-time mean they work at a desk in your office space.

        Freelance means you contract them to write one piece of content or to regularly write for you. (They’ll likely draw up a contract that sets terms.)

        Spec means they write for you, but only get paid if you like the work.

        For contract work, freelance is your best bet. If you are unsure about a writer, spec may work on your first project, but many of the best writers don’t do spec projects. So if you want an experienced writer, expect to pay the writer’s full rates.

      5. Under “Job Summary,”
        describe the job you need filled.

        For instance, for a freelance writer to write two blog posts a month, you might write:

        We’re looking for a content writer to create two articles per month, 600-900 words each, on these topics: [list the topics you need covered]. But honestly, anything goes, as long as it relates to topics of interest to [describe your target audience].

        You’ll need to be able to work with our managing editor to decide on topics for your articles, then work independently to complete them. After review, you’ll be required to perform edits to the editor’s specifications.

      6. “Qualifications” might look something like this:
        Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #7
    3. Submit the ad and wait for writers to respond.
    4. As emails come in, respond with more
      details about the job or a request to talk.

      (We’ll tell you how to negotiate with a writer in a minute.)

Find guest bloggers on well-written blogs.

An easy way to find content writers is to browse industry blogs to identify writers who specialize in your core topic.

  1. Identify blogs that use guest bloggers.

    Visit your Feedly stream and check out the articles being published by brands similar to yours. If a website posts articles by different people, it may use guest bloggers (as opposed to staff writers, who may not have freedom to write for other brands).

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #8
  2. Verify this by visiting the website.

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #9

    If a website uses guest posts, you can usually find the link in the sidebar, footer, or on the “Contact Us” page.

    If you see this link, you know that some of the writers are guest bloggers and may be available to write content for you.

  3. Look for the author bio of the writer you’re interested in.

    Pick an article you like, then check out the author’s bio. In many cases, it will be at the bottom of the article.

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #10

    But you may be able to find a author page by clicking on the author’s name.

  4. Visit the author’s website.

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #11

    Once there, read the writer’s “About” page and review several posts from the writer’s blog. Then contact the writer to ask if s/he is interested in writing for your website.

    Use the email template we gave you above.

Search LinkedIn for a writer

  1. Visit LinkedIn.com.

  2. Search for “content writer,” “writer,” “blogger” or another related search term.

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #12
  3. Review the search results

    Click on the profile picture or name to review a writer’s qualifications.

    Click the “Message” button to contact him or her.

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #13
  4. Check out LinkedIn groups for writers.

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #14 Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #15 Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #16 Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #17

How to negotiate with a writer

  1. Prepare to talk to the writer

    Define the project and your budget before contacting writer.

    Also, make time to evaluate the writer up-front, before your talk.

    • Visit their website.
    • Read some of the Web pages and blog posts to review their skill as a content writer.
    • Review the “About Me” page, testimonials and samples.

    Checklist before talking to a writer

    • review their website
    • figure out what you want them to do
    • decide on your desired outcomes
    • choose a timeframe
    • figure out your optimal budget
  2. Be clear about the tasks you want the writer to complete for you.

    Be as specific as possible, so the writer understands the scope of your project. If possible, nail down what you want to achieve by having this project done. This will help the writer understand the project better.

  3. Make sure the writer is available to finish the task by your deadline.

    This is especially important if you have a rush job or hard deadline.

  4. Don’t be afraid to talk about money.

    Most writers are willing to negotiate a fee that will work for both of you. But it helps, when negotiating, to understand how writers arrive at their fees.

    Here’s the process a writer goes through as s/he discusses your project:

    1. Tries to understand the scope of a job: how many deliverables, how complicated it will be, etc.
    2. Tries to decide if the project can be realistically done as requested (scope of the project vs. available time).
    3. Estimates the number of hours it will take to complete.
    4. Multiplies the estimated number of hours by his or her desired hourly rate for the final fee.

    Hourly vs. Project-based fees

    Good writers charge $50 to $150 per hour. Less experienced writers charge less, and in-demand writers may charge more. (Freelancers’ rates are higher than on-staff writers because they have to afford their own insurance, businesses expenses, taxes and other overhead. In-house copywriters and content writers earn $15 to $30 per hour, but benefits packages typically cost employers 2.7 times the base salary. So in many cases, the rates are about equivalent.)

    Note:

    Most writers don’t charge you by the hour. It’s too difficult to track hours and prove that the number is accurate. As a result, you will likely be quoted a project-based fee.

    How to negotiate the fee

    1. If you have a budget for the project you have in mind, it can help to let the writer know what that is.

      A good way to do this is to give a range rather than a hard figure. For example:

      I’ve budgeted $200 to $500 for this this project. Would your fee fit within that range?

      You

      The WRITER may make a counter-offer:

      I usually charge a little more than that, but I could probably accept $500 if you are willing to accept shorter articles.

      Writer

      Or the WRITER may accept with no dickering.

      Make sure you both are clear about what services will be delivered for the fee that you agree on. A Letter of Agreement can help. More on that in a minute.

    2. If the writer suggests a fee that is higher than you had expected, make a counter offer.

      Or if the writer is firm and you can’t afford the proposed fee, ask for more services at that fee.

      I can do that for $250 per article.

      Writer

      Hmmm. I don’t usually pay that much. Would you be willing to accept $125?

      You

      I wish I could, but I’ve already discounted my fees since you want two articles a month.

      Writer

      Well, how about this: I can afford to pay $200 per article if you optimize them for search engines and provide the meta-data in addition to the article.

      You

      Services that justify a higher fee:

      • SEO.
      • Longer content.
      • Well-researched content.
      • High-quality writing.
      • Consistently high response rates to the writer’s content.
      • The writer uploads the content in your blog.
        (You will have to provide log-in access.)
  5. Always ask for a contract that specifies terms

    Not a writer? Here’s where to find one #19

    Most freelancers have a standard contract or Letter of Agreement that they use for each project. If the writer doesn’t offer one, ask for it.

    A contract protects you and the writer. And it doesn’t need to be complicated.

    At the very least, your contract should spell out:

    • The exact deliverables the writer agreed to
    • The proposed deadline
    • Payment terms.

    Other places to find writers and designers

Producing Great Content Fast

Producing Great Content Fast

Having trouble getting your ideas down quickly? Try these ideas.

Make a recording

  1. Make a digital recording.
  2. Hire a transcriptionist to type out your words for you. (Find one on Odesk.)
  3. Edit.

Talk it out

  1. Get a speech-recognition software, such as DragonSpeak, available at http://www.shop.nuance.com.
  2. Dictate your content through the software.
  3. Edit.

Building engagement with your content

No strategy is guaranteed to work straight out of the box. It takes time to develop a strategic plan that works.

Here are six strategies that can help:

  1. Create a variety of content types.

    • Social media.
    • Blog posts.
    • Ebooks.
    • Video.
    • Audio.
  2. Create unique, high-quality content.

    Make this your standard:

    • Unique ideas.
    • Specific, detailed content (no fluff).
    • Be original (no duplicate content).
    • No topic that’s been overdone.

    Length isn’t a big issue; however, you want to thoroughly cover of your idea. Whether you do that with 400 words or 1000 plus, make sure you produce content that your readers want to consume.

    • Long enough to cover your topic, and no longer.
    • No grammatical or spelling errors.
    • One main point per article.

    While it’s acceptable to repurpose and recycle your ideas, you don’t want to produce duplicate content. Copyscape (http://www.copyscape.com) is a free resource for checking whether your content is duplicate.

  3. Encourage comments and social shares.

    Building engagement with your content #1
    1. Always ask for comments and/or shares.

      At the end of your content, no matter what format you publish in, ask for comments, likes or shares.

      Building engagement with your content #2
    2. Always respond to comments and shares.

      People like to be noticed. If their comments aren’t answered, they may not comment again.

      On the other hand, if you always respond to their comments, they’ll enjoy the interaction and will be more likely to comment again on other posts.

      Building engagement with your content #3
  4. You start. Engage with your readers first.

    Don’t wait for people to decide to comment. Be engaging in your content.
    Here are a few ways to do that:

    • Incorporate social media into content creation.

      If you know you want to cover a topic, but aren’t sure of what to say or how to develop your ideas, use social media to share what other people think.

      There are two ways to do this:

      1. Pose a question in social media, then review your responses. Pull the best answers into a post. Your followers will see that others are engaging with you and will be encouraged to do so themselves.

        Building engagement with your content #4
      2. Follow particular topics in Twitter or Facebook, and gather responses into your content.

        • Organize the ideas presented in the posts.
        • Introduce your topic.
        • Upload social media posts to illustrate your point.
        Building engagement with your content #5

        This example is from http://mashable.com/2013/01/21/inauguration-poem/

        Another comes from Content Marketing Institute.

        http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/03/tweets-content-marketing-world-sydney-2013/

    • Create “tweet bait” content

      Don’t just write about an idea. Find someone in your social circles who does what you’re talking about. Then show them off. When you, be sure to link to their website or social media profiles so people will check them out.

      Don’t forget to share your content with them so they can link to it if they want.

      A great example of this post comes from Crazy Egg.

      http://blog.crazyegg.com/2013/03/06/content-writers-block/

      Building engagement with your content #6

      After going live, we posted about it in social media,
      making sure to tag the people we featured:

      Building engagement with your content #7

      Check out a few of the tweets we got in response:

      Building engagement with your content #8

      Notice that some people don’t just respond. They retweet so their followers can see the post as well. That’s what twitter bait is all about.

  5. Ask questions and encourage answers.

    Engaging writing refers to “you” and “we.” It sounds as if you’re talking one-on-one with the reader. And just like a real conversation, it poses questions and expects an answer.

    Make sure you respond to your followers when they answer your questions, and over time, they’ll feel like every post is an invitation to talk.

    In this post, for example, people who respond to a Facebook post get featured in a blog post.

    Building engagement with your content #9
  6. Don’t just publish on your website.

    Building engagement with your content #10

    Get your conversation off your website and join the greater conversation taking place on the Web. Guest blogging and ebook publishing can create more doorways for people to find you. And they help people get to know you better.

    You guessed it. When people feel like they know you, they’re more likely to engage with you.

Running out of content ideas? Repurpose!

One of the secrets to creating a steady stream of content is to repurpose and recycle your ideas.

This does not mean you should re-arrange your points and republish. Google reads this as duplicate content.

But you can re-use ideas and refashion them into something original. Like this:

  • Take an interesting sentence or paragraph from one post and flesh it out for another.
  • Take a chapter from your ebook and turn it into a blog post.
  • When you get a question from a customer, after answering that question in an email, flesh it out to make a blog post, webinar, or ebook.
  • After an interesting conversation over the water cooler or meeting, turn each person’s perspective on the topic and present them as an FAQ, video, slideshow, or blog post.
  • Did you read a book that seemed to connect to topics you write about? Write a book review or blog post. Or use it as research for a special report.

Having trouble connecting content to marketing?

The key is to think like a publisher. Publishing companies have a production system that helps them produce content as cost-effectively as possible. And they strive to develop loyal readers who enjoy consuming their content.

Like a publisher, you need to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve, and then track results to make sure the work you do is helping you reach your objectives.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Set benchmarks.

    Having trouble connecting content to marketing? #1

    While it’s important to track your engagement levels, some metrics are more valuable than others. According to lean start-up expert Eric Ries, you don’t need to track “vanity metrics.”

    What you do want to measure are Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for your own type of business.

    KPIs may be different for different types of businesses. For example, a business blog uses different metrics than a retail site. Essentially, you decide what metrics indicate success for your business, and then you track them to measure growth over the long term.

    Russ Henneberry, Managing Editor of the Crazy Egg blog, identifies these KPI for a business blog:

    • Goals for most business blogs:
    • Increase brand awareness
    • Generate leads for the sales team
    • Increase eCommerce sales
    • Increase advertising income

    As a content marketer, you may have similar goals, and would therefore measure similar metrics.

    • Four metrics:

      For a business blog with the four objectives listed above, these are appropriate KPI.

      KPI Description Notes
      subscriber rate # of subscribers
      or unique visits
      important for virtually every blog
      leads/sales generated # of leads/sales directly
      attributed to blog referral
      important if lead/sales driven model
      avg. ad income per page total ad income/#of pages important if ad driven model
      avg. ad income per visitor total ad income/unique visits important if ad driven model
    • Set a baseline before your move forward

      Even if you’ve been doing content marketing for a while, if you haven’t been tracking your results, you need to create a baseline from which you can measure future success.

      Here’s how to do that for the subscriber rate:

      1. Measure your number of subscribers.

        Having trouble connecting content to marketing? #2

        You can get this number from your email provider (MailChimp or AWeber).

      2. Visit adwords.google.com/analytics for the number of “unique visits.”

        Having trouble connecting content to marketing? #3
      3. Divide the number of subscribers by the number of unique visitors

        For the example above, that would be 90 / 520 = .17

        That means that nearly 20% of visitors convert to a subscriber.

    • To find your baseline KPI:

      1. Follow this same procedure for all four KPI in the cart above.
      2. Then record these metrics as your baseline.
      3. Set a goal for improvement.
      4. Then decide on web design and content marketing strategies that will help you reach your goals.
  2. Track results.

    1. Implement your strategy for improving your metrics.
    2. Measure your progress monthly.
    3. Record your results.
  3. Adapt your efforts to get better results.

    If your strategy is working, keep it up. But continue to try new techniques to see if you can get even better results.

    If your strategy doesn’t make a different, re-evaluate your strategy and decide on a new approach for improving results.

When a project doesn’t work

When a project doesn’t work

Sometimes you are part-way through a content project — or may even have gone live with it — only to find that it doesn’t work. Maybe it doesn’t meet your quality standards. Maybe your needs have changed. Or maybe it doesn’t help you achieve your business or marketing goals.

Whatever the reason, you feel that you’ve wasted the time and cost of producing a piece of content that isn’t usable.

Do you throw it away? No. You can always reuse parts, if not all, of a project that didn’t work. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use it as a value-add.

    Perhaps the project isn’t strong enough to use as a stand-alone piece of content. But it could work as a value-add or premium to another product or offer.

    1. Decide whether the project can stand alone or needs additional work.
    2. Decide whether the format is good or needs changing.
    3. Do whatever edits are necessary to repurpose it as a premium offer, not an end product.
  • Use good paragraphs and sections that didn’t make it into the final draft.

    Sometimes you need to remove whole sections from a project because they are off-topic or you need to reduce the word count. However, there’s nothing wrong with the copy.

    In that case:

    1. Cut the copy and paste into a new Word document.
    2. Decide whether this content could be crafted into an article, presentation, video or other format.
    3. Decide whether it can stand alone or needs additional work.
    4. Repurpose the content to fulfill your objectives.
  • Change the format.

    If a piece of content doesn’t work, take time to evaluate why. It may not be a lost cause. It may simply need to be formatted for a different channel.

    1. Review your content to decide whether it’s more suited for written formats, audio, or visual.
    2. Decide whether the addition of images or a change of format could help.
    3. Set new goals for the content.
    4. Repurpose it to fulfill your objectives.

Your content reads like a sales page…

Remember, content is not the same as sales copy.

Some elements of direct response copywriting are able to cross genres to strengthen your content.

For instance, both sales copy and content need a big idea, or theme, that supports the message.

They also need a call to action.

But content isn’t the same as a landing page. To work, it needs to be lower key than your sales copy.

So tone it down.

Kill the hype.

Use content to build relationship and your brand.

No hard selling allowed.

Managing Content Creation

If you head a content marketing team, you want to create synergy among your team and have a strong sense of purpose, so you come up with the best content possible. Here are a few pointers:

  • Rule #1: Let your writers write.

    If you place too many restrictions on them, you’ll stifle creativity — and you won’t like the content that results.

    Writers work differently than data entry clerks. You can’t tell them to sit down and write and expect award-winning prose. Give them time to think about the topic, research it, and discuss it with co-workers. Don’t be surprised if their best writing occurs at lunch time, on break, or after hours.

    Here’s the best way to work with writers:

    1. Give the assignment. For example, the assignment might be two articles on a particular topic per month, with the writer coming up with the topics.
    2. Give a deadline. Be clear about when you need the articles to be turned in.
    3. Let the writer know what you want. You need to give an approximate word count. And if you want a particular structure or style, let the writer know in advance. If possible, show the writer samples of what you’re looking for.
    4. Let the writer have his head. Every writer works differently, but they all need time to explore the topic, research, and try out different approaches. Writers can’t simply sit down and craft beautiful words. Writing is a process (often a time-consuming one), and you need to give them room to work.

    Note:

    When you review the writer’s work, give specific comments. Don’t tell him he missed the mark. Point out sentences that are wrong, and why. Tell him where it loses focus, and share ideas for fixing it.

  • Rule #2: Let other employees create content too.

    Some of your best content is inspired by interaction with customers, which means your best ideas may come from the sales team or customer services representatives.

    While you can certainly have a team of writers, you might consider allowing other employees create content as well.

    After answering a question for clients, for example, a customer service representative can draft his answer as a blog post as well.

    If you choose to use this approach, you can maintain quality control by having your content team edit the content and provide stylistic oversight.

  • Rule #3: Don’t worry if people react to your content ideas. (That’s a good thing.)

    Content marketing forces you to take a stand on issues. Some people will agree and others will disagree. Get comfortable with it: It means people are engaging with your content. So in the long run, those negative comments are a good thing.

  • Rule #4: Dare to let your brand be an expert in your topic.

    The point of content marketing is to establish yourself as an expert in your area of expertise. So be the expert. Have an opinion. Even if it differs from the rest of the world.

  • Rule #5: Always check your facts.

    Your readers need to be able to trust that what you say is accurate and trustworthy.

    Consider appointing someone on your team to serve as proofreader and fact checker.

  • Rule #6: If you quote someone or borrow an idea, give credit and link to your source.

    You don’t need to give a source for industry terms, common knowledge, or your brand’s systems and terms. But any idea or phrase that you borrow from someone else needs to be credited to them.

Integrating your content with the rest of marketing

In marketing, you have two overriding strategies: push and pull. Push marketing is your direct response, sales pages, ads, and promotions. Pull marketing is content, webinars and events.

Both should work together to attract prospects, build relationship, and ultimately, makes sales.

Content marketing is an integral part of this process because it offers value at no cost to your visitors. As a result, it is extremely useful at generating leads, attracting potential customers, and moving them through the sales funnel.

The secret to making this work is to use content to build a list of people interested in your content — which allows you to deliver content, but also allows you to make promotional offers.

Here are a few ideas to help:

  1. Create a newsletter, course, or ebook that you can give as a premium to anyone who signs up.

    Integrating your content with the rest of marketing #1

    On Kissmetrics, we’ve found that courses work better than ebooks. So consider developing a course that delivers a short, actionable tip each day for seven, 15 or 30 days.

    Here’s ours on Quicksprout.com.

  2. Create a sign-up form that promotes your newsletter or course in the sidebar of your website.

    The form needs to tell people what they’re getting when they give you their email address.

    Give your call to action in red, green, orange or yellow. Some marketers have reported higher response rates putting blue text on a yellow button.

    Ask for as little information as possible: name and email are all you really need.

  3. Create a pop-up to draw attention to your form.

    Integrating your content with the rest of marketing #2

    Even if you resist pop-ups, do test them. They tend to drive three times more opt-ins than a sidebar opt-in form.

    Pop-ups can be small and non-intrusive, like this one from Inc.

    Or they can be big, fading out the entire Web page, like this one from iMedia Connection

    Integrating your content with the rest of marketing #3

    Two plugins for placing pop-ups on WordPress websites are:

    • Popup Domination
    • Modal Dialog

    The process is simple:

    1. Install the pop-up on your website.

    2. Set the timing for the pop-up.

      It’s a good idea to have your pop-up to appear to all first-time visitors within the first five seconds after arriving on your site. We’ve found that we get 23.5% more opt-ins when the pop-up is shown immediately, as opposed to delaying it by 10 seconds.

    3. Set the timing for the pop-up.

      If you can control the design options on your pop-up (with Popup Domination, you can), set the pop-up to place your offer above the opt-in form. We’ve experienced an 11% increase in conversion simply by positioning the offer first.

    4. Build relationship with your list

      Creating and maintaining a newsletter may seem like a lot of work. But once you’ve committed to content marketing, sending out a newsletter is a no-brainer.

      Why? Because your newsletter will build relationship, loyalty and engagement with your followers.

      Here are a few tips:

      1. Create a newsletter that goes out regularly to your list. Once or twice a week is a good frequency. It keeps you connected to your readers and leaves days open for promotional emails.
      2. Keep your newsletter primarily content based. You may include ads and promotional offers, but keep the focus on providing value with no obligation.
      3. Treat your list like a VIP group. Offer perks and discounts only available to newsletter subscribers. Use this as an incentive to stay subscribed.
      4. Between newsletter issues, you may send out promotional emails. Be careful to keep the ratio of content and promotions at a level that keeps readers engaged. Too many promotions will result in unsubscribes.
      5. Invite responses to your email. Then answer people when they respond.

That’s it!

You now know the most common challenges to successful content marketing and some smart strategies for overcoming all of them. Put them to work, and you should have a major head start achieving your goals for content marketing.

Next, we talk about how to optimize your content so it can help you rank better in search engines. SEO has changed a lot over the last few years, but it’s still a critical part of your content marketing strategy. So you’ll definitely want to check out Chapter 8, “The Other Side of Content Creation: Optimize for Search.”

Shall we start?