Understanding Content Strategy and Influencer Marketing
A great content strategy begins with understanding the editorial mission statement and purposing their content accordingly. It’s about understanding that content sources and creating great content is always within reach. We just need to open our eyes and ears. The course is taught by Andy Crestodina and I thoroughly enjoyed the track. Here are some of the topics he taught and my understanding.
What topics to create content on?
That is one of the first questions and to better understand this Andy suggests that first briefly describe the core function of your company. Once you drill that down, you can use Google search, quora, keywordtool.io, answethepublic.com etc. So what are the other sources?
Listening has to be another core area that someone within this field has to be think about, listen to anyone who is talking with the prospect — Sales team, customer service and customer stories.
Your inbox is a gold mine of content. Never have a great conversation in private.
There are 3 ways to produce research:
- Observation: Pick a data set. Gather data.
- Aggregation: Combine data from existing sources.
- Surveys: Mass analysis
There are many questions that one comes across in day to day work, if we keep our eyes open any question or any answer can be converted into a content piece. This can be converted into original research which will definitely drive value to the page. Maybe articles will take a high amount of time to create but it will generate that much higher amount of results.
Always look to repurpose the content. You can make a blog post into an infographic etc. Add content to infographics and make it a link building machiene.
Collaboration content get better results too. This can easily be understood by the fact that everyone has their audience. In case we get more people to collaborate in engaging content, we automatically pose our content to rank high and have high engagement. These can be through guest posts, quote and mention in an article, deep dive interview etc.
Rich content can be created with original research being the central idea and then start ranking for the keyword. They key is to collaborate with other experts, solve for a non-researched topic and use the content wisely and the content format.
Andy then took us on an understanding of why search is one of the most durable sources of creating traffic. One diagram just explains everything:
SEO is the wind that blows the sail and keeps the jetty going. PPC depends on the resource and can definitely make us go faster with minimum efforts. Email and social can help but the effort is too high and can’t solely depend on this.
Andy then explained the technical SEO explaining sitemaps and robots.txt which was a great refresher. Now Rank depends on authority and relevance. Authority gets generated from links and relevance comes from keywords.
Authority links directly to link building which is through other sites linking back to you. Now how do we determine the value of the link?
- It’s from a page on a domain with high authority
- It’s from a page without a ton of ongoing links
- It isn’t just another link to your page
- The text in the link is descriptive
If your authority is higher than the keyword difficulty, you have a chance to rank for that keyword.
Relevance refers to the keywords that we rank for. In order to understand the keywords/keyphrases we should choose we need to understand the overall landscape of search.
We can then look for our ideal keyword on the basis of three factors:
In order to understand these three we can use multiple tools and also use google search. Look for bold word search, people also search and other cues that google throws when you search for the broad base keyword in the browser.
Use SERP and don’t name the title tag of the homepage as HOME!!!!!!
What are some of the best practices for creating engaging content?
- Create engaging headlines that communicate explicit benefits. This was a real eye opener in terms of the research done on headlines here. This was in terms of the number of characters in headlines the start, the end and the most engaging words used in headlines.
Great headlines should include a promise, should trigger curiosity, use numbers, ask a question, use power words, sized to fit the purpose and should use keywords.
- Formatting is something if you will neglect you will fail. Your audience is a scanner and you should consider that when creating content. Whitespace is the demand of the day and we should focus on short targeted paragraphs.
Types of formatting includes headers, subheads, bullet lists, numbered lists, bolding, italics, internal linking and including infographics.
- Keep the content flowing and use words that is easily understandable.
- Use images and videos in your content. This breaks the wall of text and holds the attention of the audience.
- Visual cues is one of the subtle ways to create interest in the different elements of the page. Position of the head, the eyes, the hands and pointers with multiple images will act as flowing elements within the sea of words.
These points helps in creating engaging content which inturn helps in increasing the time on page. Time on page results in higher SEO.
Andy also explained that quantity of content pieces can be enhanced by proper delegation. Pieces like roundups and podcast interviews can be easily delegated. Even original research can be delegated with the help of a virtual assistant.
Even internal documents for eg if you reply to emails if someone asks you a question over an email then go big. Explain the answer with images, links and a lot of data. Combine this in a folder and then turn it into a google word document and you will realise that you have been able to write a book. Analyse it further and you will have multiple content pieces.
Andy then went on to explain the benefits of influencer marketing, networking and collaboration. Some key takeaways:
- Influencer marketing is on the rise and can deeply help in increasing engagement.
- Find influencers from tools like Grouphigh and use their DA and engagement rate to start building connections with these influencers.
- Connect with influencers with a great checklist process given by Andy. Listen to their content, engage with their content through like, comment and share, connect with them on Linkedin or any other social media tools.
- Cross the streams with these influencers and don’t just stick to one channel of trying to get connected.
- Collaborate on deep dive interview and other ways. Be easy to collaborate.
- Create friendships with these influencers and connections.
- An ally in creating content is an ally in promoting content.
Andy then spoke to about a topic that is most often not touched upon which is really important in such a high demanding industry (the growth driving knights). It is all summed up in just one line — Do something important before you do something urgent. Focus on nutrition, sleep and meditation. Do, Decide, Delegate or delete.
Andy then focussed on how to analyse and understand the results. This can be done through multiple reports in GA and use other tools like Hotjar to understand the impact of the content created. You can also use google search console to understand the search terms and the journey of the users.
This course helped me understand to approach the content creation realm with a clear vision of relevance and authority. The case studies and examples given by Andy were clear and helped me in understanding the concepts easily.
I then moved onto understanding the Influencer marketing with Siim Säinas.
This was a topic which I haven’t ever be exposed to and took some great pointers. We started things off by first understanding the meaning of influencer marketing that refers to use of the voice of people through social media and achieve business objectives.
The main value proposition of influencer marketing is to tell a relatable, distinct and entertaining brand story, that cuts through the usual advertising noise online.
Why influencer marketing is picking up?
- Reach of Social platforms has increased considerably
- Reach of individual users have also increased impacting the overall market reach
- Social is relatively cheap and easily measurable
What are the top challenges of influencers while working with brands?
- Creative freedom. Only a 29% of influencers are asked for their opinion on content direction.
- Late payments.
- Short deadlines.
- Last minute changes in campaign requirements.
- Brands who don’t have a clear brief
How to create an influencer campaign?
- Understand the human insight: This is a previously unconnected relationship or knowledge that unlocks exponential growth opportunities for your brand and product.
- Have a clear and measurable marketing objective.
- Define your audience clearly so that there is laser focussed approach on targeting.
- Provide clear submission timelines to avoid any mid campaign or post campaign confusions.
- Clearly define the product magic factor.
- Define clear campaign message for your overall campaign.
- Define the category of influencers you are looking to attract and the budget.
- Define the campaign objectives outlining what are the influencers are required to do with terms and conditions of the campaign.
We then looked at two great brands that have used influencer marketing and produced some great results, some key insights:
- Create and engage everyone involved, the audience and the influencers
- Spot trends early and ride the wave
- Spread the campaign to all the channels and not just one channel. Take it from social to business
- Co-create content with the influencers and give them creative freedom and focus on long term exclusivity
How to research influencers for your brand?
- Understand what is your brand tone and voice
- Discover influencers with the help of multiple tools and aim to create a list of 4x times the number you actually want
- Shortlist the influencers by looking at their engagement rates, AQS and analysis provided by tools like HypeAuditor. Look at the real profiles of the influencers to cross check some of the data too.
Why do influencers want to work with brands?
Influencers are also trying to make a larger impact and it is really important to view this from their point of view too. Hence, we need to understand why do influencers wish to work with brands for the first time and the second time?
- The top 2 reasons they want to work with a brand for the first time are — a) 44% said it is the opportunity is relevant to my audience, b)17% said it is the opportunity allows me to provide an exclusive or new experience for myself and/or my audience. (Source: Crowdtap 2015)
- The top 2 reasons they want to work with a brand for the second time are — a) The brand grants me with creative freedom and b) the brand offers me competitive compensation.
What points can help a brand to understand synergy with an influencer?
- Understand brand’s role in social. Understand what is required of the overall social strategy.
- How creative is the influencer?
- What has been the past performance of the influencer with brand engagements?
- How is the influencer’s tone of voice/style?
- What’s the influencer’s platform focus?
As Siim mentioned before, it is about looking the entire influencer marketing conversation from both the dimensions and finding synergy basis the above points but also understanding the hierarchy of objectives both the brand and the influencer is looking for. Both the brand and the influencer at the end wants commitment, a surety of association and content delivery which is so critical in this engagement.
Siim also explained that it is critical for brands to follow the compliance side of things when engaging with influencer marketing. Though it is not always critical to sign a formal agreement always as in some regions email commitments are also binding.
A question that was running through my mind at the time of listening to Siim was on the reach and he then went on to address the same. He explained that organic reach is almost dead at the moment and the only way for brands to break this conundrum is either by employing a lot of influencers of amplyfying the content through the use of Ads manager.
He then explained the correct way of using the branded content tool and Ads manager.
Siim then explained the measurement pointers that one has to be sure of in any influencer effort. There are two sides of communication — branded and direct. Branded is inclined towards the emotional value whereas direct is inclined towards the transactional side.
Direct response metrics range from conversion oriented metrics like bit.ly links, UTM links and move towards business oriented metrics like ROAS. Brand metrics range in between frequency, engagement, perception/advocacy and intent metrics. Siim explains that it is a great practice to follow a template to present the campaign report. This can be as simple as dividing the analysis in outlining the challenge, the steps taken and the results.
Thoughts: Both these tracks added valuable insights into the field of content marketing and influencer marketing. I have learnt some great tips from both Andy and Siim as a part of these tracks.
As I draw near to the end of this CXL Growth Marketing minidegree, I can now join all the previous courses and I am excited to share my learnings from the remaining courses in the last 2 blog posts.