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What It Takes To Make IoT Implementation A Success – Robert Plant & Cherie Topham

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Organizations around the globe understand the importance of IoT. In fact, in a recent Forbes Insights/Hitachi survey of more than 500 executives worldwide, over 90% said IoT will be important to the future of their business. What’s more, of all emerging technologies, executives said IoT would be the most critical, ranking it above others like artificial intelligence and robotics.

While executives acknowledge the importance of IoT, 49% remain in the early stages of planning or are only operating pilot programs. We spoke with John Magee, Hitachi Vantara’s vice president of product and solutions marketing, to get his perspective on this state of development and how organizations can make IoT a larger part of their strategy and operations going forward.

If an executive is looking to invest in IoT and understand the economics behind it, what does he or she need to know?

Most organizations are looking to IoT projects to either improve operational efficiency or drive new revenue streams. A lot of organizations are seeking to use the data they can get from IoT sensors and connectivity to provide better visibility and help them understand what’s going on in their operations. For product companies, they’re often looking to optimize how their products are being manufactured or used, and to offer new data-driven services with those products.

The goal for most of these companies is to transform the way they operate and the way they compete. For business leaders looking to take advantage of IoT, the most important thing is to begin with the business outcome goals first and then determine what data IoT can provide that can help deliver those outcomes. It’s the new data that delivers the business value. So that should be the starting point for any project. Then you can work back from there to the technology required to meet the objective.

For example, manufacturers might want to understand why quality issues are creeping into one of their manufacturing lines but not the other. Logistics companies may want to understand the location of parts and deliveries to optimize scheduling. Product companies may want to sell new value-added software services that help customers get more value from their products. Whatever the goal, by understanding what data you need to collect and who needs access to it, the technology requirements will fall into place more easily and you won’t over- or underspend for success.

When executives are thinking about what data is most important to achieving their desired outcomes, what do they need to know? How should they approach this?

IoT is essentially a rich source of new business data. Data that comes from machines and devices, and from the spaces and environments those machines operate in. In many situations, just having access to real-time data about what’s going on—in a manufacturing plant, on a remote oil rig or in a city train station—can be transformative. In most situations, though, some analysis of the data is going to be needed to gain the insights that lead to business value.

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This is where technologies like big data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence come into play. Analytics is the key to not just understanding what is happening but also learning and getting smarter so that your IoT solutions can predict when a problem will occur or find the root cause of product quality issues that would have been unsolvable without analyzing the mountains of data that IoT can deliver.

The right way to think about IoT is as an extension of the business analytics that your organization is probably already doing in other areas. At the end of the day, IoT is a means to accessing and interpreting more data. And data management, data integration and data science are all key enabling technologies for IoT, just as they are for most other areas of business today.

One new twist on IoT data that differs from traditional business data is the idea of a “digital twin.” The digital twin is the software representation of a physical device, such as a pacemaker, an elevator or a dump truck. As data streams in from the physical device, it is collected and stored in the corresponding digital twin. The digital twin knows everything about that asset: where it was manufactured, how it has been operated, when it was last serviced.

By using software to analyze hundreds or even thousands of these digital twins, data scientists can build powerful analytic models that can optimize the corresponding physical assets. Organizations are using this approach to enhance asset uptime and performance, extend the useful life of critical assets and optimize maintenance and operations.

Once you’ve aggregated data into a single version of the truth and are drawing conclusions, how can companies best integrate that information into broader networks?

There’s a sort of stairway to value in many IoT scenarios. The first step of the stairway is the physical devices themselves. The second step is the operations around those devices. And the third step is the business processes and ecosystem around those operations.

Think of a manufacturing plant. If you use sensors on critical plant equipment, you can get data that can help you operate that equipment more effectively. If you collect enough data, you can even start to predict when it will fail so you can service it before that happens. So that’s the next step – using the data insights about the equipment into optimizing your maintenance and repair operations.

But that data can also be useful at the next step in the stairway, which is how your supply chain responds to requirements for parts or materials being delivered based on the performance of the equipment and operations in the factory. The more data you have, the more visibility you have, and the more opportunity to optimize every part of the operation. Sort of like air traffic control for the factory.

This stairway, or hierarchy, of value—from asset to operations to business process—is one we see play out in industry after industry.

When it comes to IoT, which is a complicated endeavor, research shows that it’s best not to go at it alone. What should executives be looking for in a partner when they’re considering making this transformation?

Working with a partner who understands your industry and has a methodology to help you think through your data strategy are the real enablers for success. IoT is a hot technology right now, and it is easy to get caught up in the hype and invest in the wrong areas. Working with an experienced partner who has a pragmatic approach that starts with understanding how IoT data and analytics will drive the desired business outcome is the key to success.

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25 Sure Fire Ways to Boost Twitter Engagement – Brendan Schneider

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As a school marketer, you already are aware of the opportunity Twitter presents to you as a tool for reaching out to parents and prospective parents. With more than 330 million users on Twitter, it’s easy to see why it is one of the platforms most school marketers say benefits their school.

But here’s the challenge – how do you get the right Twitter users (also known as Tweeps) to engage with your posts and click on your content?

Almost every school marketer has been in the position where they are churning out a mountain of content, and no one ever seems to want to interact with it. It’s easy to get frustrated when the last three tweets linking to your latest genius blog post don’t get noticed.

In this post, I’m going to take a deeper dive into Twitter engagement. We will look at what Twitter engagement is, how to measure it and why it matters. I will also give you 25 strategies you can use to increase your engagement and click-through-rate (CTR) on Twitter.

Types of Twitter Engagement

Twitter engagement is when someone engages with the content that you post in your tweets. To be considered engagement, Twitter users can:

  • Reply to your Tweet
  • Engage with someone who replied to your Tweet
  • Retweet your Tweet
  • Like your Tweet
  • Direct Message you
  • Add you to a List
  • Add your Tweet to a Moment
  • Follow and unfollow you
  • Mention you in a Tweet by using your Twitter Handle
  • Click on your link

Engagement is one of the main purposes of having a Twitter account – to send interested, engaged traffic to your website and/or blog. Just remember that if someone isn’t following you, they can’t see your postings.

What You Should Know About Twitter Engagement

Before we get into the specific Twitter engagement strategies, it’s a good idea to understand the Twitter environment in which you are trying to engage. (Source: 61 Social Media Statistics to Bookmark for 2018)

  1. Twitter users prefer content and engagement

15% of Twitter users will unfollow a brand within three weeks if they are not making an effort to engage them, such as posting relevant content and engaging with them

  1. Active Twitter users are on Twitter every day

Out of all active Twitter users, 81% are active at least once a day, 15% access Twitter more than 10x a day, and 60% tweet at least once a day

  1. Twitter users like to engage with brands

49% of Twitter users are following brands

  1. Twitter users prefer to use Twitter for customer service

19% of active Twitter users seek customer support on Twitter

  1. Twitter users prefer visuals

Visual content (i.e., images, graphics, infographics, and videos) get 150% more engagement on average than text-only tweets

  1. Twitter users prefer to use their mobile devices

82% of active Twitter users accessed it through a mobile device

  1. Millennials are active Twitter users

81% of millennials in the U.S. view their Twitter account on a daily basis

Why Twitter Engagement Matters

Interaction on Twitter offers a great deal of benefits to your school.

Engagement on Twitter (except when it goes really wrong) will enable you to build and foster relationships with parents and potential parents. If they are interacting with your content, they are interested in your school, and may even be sharing it. This is especially true if you’re responding to them and having conversations, even if they are brief.

Once you start getting click-throughs to your website and/or blog, you will be gaining more visitors, inquiries, and enrollments.

Also, when you garner retweets or mentions, you’re expanding your reach – for free.

Twitter engagement can drive results, so it’s worth measuring the results and adjusting your campaigns to improve the performance of your Twitter campaigns.

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How to Increase Twitter Engagement and Link Clicks

Here are 25 strategies you can use to increase Twitter engagement for your school. You will want to test these strategies to determine what will work best for your school.

  1. Build an audience by following others

You want to consistently grow your followers by following others. Find the best followers by using Twitter Advanced Search to laser-focus your search criteria. Just remember to thin out your Followers (I use ManageFlitter to do this) because you want to maintain a balance between the number of people following you and the number of people or brands you follow. One strategy I like to use to build my Twitter audience is to find local influencers and search through their followers to find potential followers.

  1. Engage with other content

Yes, the Golden Rule works on Twitter. If you want others to engage with your content, you need to engage with theirs first. Like, reply to and retweet others content. When you engage with other Twitter users’ content, they will be more likely to pay attention to your content. This can help to build social proof over time, which is valuable on all social channels.

Not only will this increase engagement, but it will also help you build relationships with your followers, expanding your reach both on – and off – Twitter.

  1. Retweet other users’ tweets

Another golden rule and retweets are golden in the Twitterverse (yes, it’s a thing!)  Retweeting is a form of engagement that Twitter users value a great deal – not only are you saying you Like their content, but you value it enough to share it. Reciprocity is an important part of why people choose to follow and engage with your school. By retweeting, you will have a better chance of connecting with them.

  1. Keep your tweets short

Twitter only allows 140 characters in each tweet, to begin with, but the best practice is to keep your tweets really short – like 80 – 110 characters. This is for several reasons. Leaving space for more characters allows users the opportunity to add their own tags and @Mentions, making it easier for others to retweet. Several research studies have found that shorter tweets have a higher level of engagement.

  1. Share a variety of content topics that include links

While it is important, of course, to include links to your most valuable content, you also want to share curated content as well. With social media, you never want to make it all about your brand. No one wants to feel they are being “sold” to all the time.

  1. Respond when someone tweets you

This can be especially challenging for large schools that have a lot of engagement. However, it’s best to respond to users that engage with your school as soon as possible. Sending an actual response tweet is usually the most powerful and effective. If you receive criticism or they seem upset, respond to them quickly and make the conversation private (i.e., Direct Message) as soon as possible.

Responding when someone tweets you increases the chances they will engage with your future posts.

  1. Know the best times to post

There are certain times of the day or days of the week when your active Twitter followers are more likely to be online. You will get more views and engagement if you post during your peak hours.

Most studies have shown that posting between noon and 3 pm Mondays – Fridays is a peak time, while other studies have found that 5 pm Monday – Friday or noon and 6 pm offers the best CTR.

Most social media scheduling tools (I use Buffer and SproutSocial) make it easy to distribute content during the best days and times for your school. It’s always a good idea to test your posting schedule to ensure you are posting during the best times for your social media platforms and audience.

  1. Always provide high-quality content

People don’t want to waste time, especially on a microblogging site like Twitter. Schools should seek to provide value through information, inspiration or entertainment. Providing value, in whatever form you choose, is among the most important factors for success with content marketing. Value will keep potential parents coming back and staying interested, and, best of all, engaging with and clicking on the tweet you’re posting.

  1. Always use hashtags

Hashtags play an important role on Twitter. Just like with Instagram, hashtags are part of the Twitter culture. But they are functional too. Hashtags help people find what they are looking for when they are searching. Hashtags also are used to emphasize core points you want to make.

Tweets with hashtags are retweeted 33% more often than tweets without hashtags. However, less can be more. Tweets with only one hashtag receive 69% more retweets than tweets with two or more hashtags.

For this reason, it is best practice to use only one hashtag per tweet. Also, remember that using a trending hashtag will help increase engagement and impressions.

Want to know how to research the best hashtag for your tweet? Click here to learn more.

  1. Include images

Visuals are important on all social media channels; Twitter is no exception. Images are important on Twitter because you are limited to the number of characters you can use. Case studies have shown that tweets with images receive 313% more engagement.

While you can use up to 4 images per tweet, including at least one image will drive extra engagement.

  1. Post videos

While images can get more attention than plain text tweets, videos will outperform images. Twitter Video allows you to upload an existing video directly from your smartphone. The time is limited to 30 seconds, but you will lose most of your audience after 30 seconds anyway.

Most Twitter users – 82 % – watch videos right from the Twitter platform. Native videos will drive more engagement than videos from third party players.

Video is a great way to share stories about your school, offer a day-in-the-life look, evoke emotion and highlight your Twitter presence. Videos are a dynamic way to boost your engagement.

  1. Ask for retweets

Asking for retweets has been shown to be an effective strategy – as long as you don’t overuse it. When you have something really important you want people to share, say “Please RT” or “Please share” at the end of your tweet. If you use “Please RT” all the time, people will just ignore your request, so use this tactic sparingly.

  1. Don’t over tweet

If you tweet too much – especially if you tweet the same content over and over – you will see your engagement decrease. Most studies show that tweeting 1 to 3 times per day is ideal. Posting more than four times per day will negatively impact your audience.

  1. Space out your tweets

When you’re sending out your 1 – 4 tweets during the day, don’t send them all at once. Be sure to space your tweets out over the day. This will increase the number of people who see it and help to increase your engagement.

  1. Use simple, clear language

You are limited in the number of characters you can use, so don’t try to be clever or speak in riddles. Get right to the point and make it easy for people to grasp what you’re trying to communicate. You do want to pique your audience’s interest, so use language that will make others want to pay attention and take the action you are inviting them to take.

  1. Ask questions

This is a very common tactic for drawing people in. People want to share their opinions and experiences, so ask them! Asking questions will increase engagement and give you valuable insight into the type of content they are interested in and want more of in the future.

  1. Use power words

Using power words and superlatives in your blog will increase engagement. You want to provoke curiosity and evoke an emotional response from your audience. If you’re not sure what power words to use, or you just want some ideas, CoSchedule offers a free download of 500 power word for writing emotional headlines. They also offer a free headline analyzer you can use to evaluate your headline – or tweet.

  1. Talk about important people in your area

When you interact with an influencer in your area (i.e., school board member, mayor, etc.), it can help to get new eyes on you. On Twitter, talking about or tagging an important person can be enough to get more engagement and new followers. Use the @Mention feature whenever it’s appropriate; you might build a stronger relationship with the person you’re mentioning as well as getting more engagement.

  1. Use Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards are a great way to add more content to your tweet. You can use a summary card, photo card or product card. Twitter Cards are larger, which attracts more attention to it, as well as enriching your post. To learn more about how to set up and use Twitter Cards, link here.

  1. Use shortened links

Twitter has such a limited number of characters; you don’t want to waste them on long, ugly links. Most social media schedulers will have a built-in link shortener. Some WordPress themes come with a link shortener, or you can install a plugin like Pretty Links. Many social media managers use Bitly, Tiny URL, Goo.gl or Bit.do.

  1. Recycle your best content

If you posted content and it performed well, you can extend it by using it again. Many schools recycle their best content, making sure to get more eyes on their high-quality tweets, videos, and links. Most content is missed the first time it is posted; and even if people see it more than once, most won’t even notice the replication.

Many social media schedulers allow you to repost content and offer an easy way for you to change up the tweet. Make sure to stagger your postings when you are reusing content. Repost on different days, at different times and put a few weeks in between your posts as well.

Of course, you don’t want to recycle content that relies on timelines like breaking news, holidays, events or certain trending topics.)

  1. Include a call-to-action (CTA)

People want to know what they should do next after reading your post. Use action words to inspire Twitter users to, well, take action. Some examples include:

  • Learn more
  • Download
  • Follow Us
  • Please Help (good for nonprofits)
  • Visit Our Site
  • Place an Inquiry
  • Shop Our Sale

Use the word “free” whenever it’s appropriate is a good idea. Twitter users love giveaways and freebies!

  1. Alternate between “titles” and “text” copy

Switch up your tweet copy between using headlines and regular copy. If you have an attention-grabbing title, you will attract interest, but don’t forget about interesting statistics and data within your content. Often, that type of copy will increase engagement.

  1. Invest in Twitter Ads

Twitter Ads are a good way to increase your engagement, especially if you want to grow your follower-base. Twitter Ads do cost money, and can be more expensive than Facebook Ads. However, most Twitter users that invest in Twitter advertising have found that Twitter’s click-through rate (CTR) is higher than Facebook advertising. Promoted tweets are the best type of advertising for increasing engagement.

Create a Twitter Ad by locating the tab on the same dropdown menu where you find Twitter Analytics, which you can find by clicking on your logo next to the Tweet button in the upper right corner.

  1. Consider using a Twitter Conversational Ad

Conversational Ads are designed to increase engagement and brand influence. They are similar to promoted tweets, but come with the addition of a CTA that encourages users to tweet with hashtags you can customize and choose.

When a Twitter user clicks on the CTA, the tweet will open with a pre-populated message that users can then customize and share, after which they will be automatically thanked.

Twitter Conversational Ads are a great tool to use to grow engagement for your school.

Besides paid advertising, most of these Twitter engagement strategies are free and only require a small amount of extra time in addition to the content you may already be creating for Twitter. There are millions of Twitter users out there – you just have to find the right strategies to get your target audience to engage with your school.

As you continue to drive engagement and increase your CTR on Twitter, you’ll most certainly increase the number of inquiries over time by sending traffic to your website and blog. Twitter engagement will help you build rapport, trust and positive relationships with your potential parents, and ultimately, your school’s enrollment.

What strategies have worked best for your school to increase engagement on Twitter? Please share with other school marketers in the comments below.

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Tips To How to Master Your Content Curation Strategy – Brendan Schneider

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Do you always find yourself not having enough time to create content for your blog? Or maybe you are short on writers who can publish articles regularly.

Then, it’s time to consider content curation as part of your marketing strategy!

Content curation is the process of discovering and selecting content that is relevant to a particular subject or area of interest for your target audience. Curata defined content curation as:

  • Performed by a person, not simply a computer algorithm.
  • Being discerning, discriminative, and selective.
  • Added value. You offer perspective, insight, guidance.
  • Not a one-time event or activity.
  • Informed by a laser focus on your audience.

If you’re interested in implementing content curation, find out how these experts are doing it successfully.

Create a Curated Newsletter

I position my Weekend Update Newsletter as my reader’s “weekly professional development required reading.” The newsletter is simply a curated email of written content, audio content, and questions from my private Facebook Group that I determine are the most important for my readers to consume.

I’ve been creating my newsletter for years, and the three most important lessons I’ve learned are:

  1. While this might go without saying, you absolutely need to understand who your reader is and what their challenges are.
  2. You need to be a consumer of content yourself. You need to read, listen, and watch as much content as you can from the industry you are trying to curate.
  3. You need to have your content organized, and I use and recommend the RSS reader Feedly. Good luck and happy curating!

Set Your Goals

It’s very important to establish from the start what exactly you want to achieve with content curation:

  • more influence in your niche,
  • promoting your business,
  • generating more followers and engagement, etc.

This will help you decide what channels to use, what types of content to share, and what content formats to use in order to ultimately achieve your goals.

Another important part: don’t just share links and be done with it. Give your input, make a comment on what you’ve read or seen, explain why people should check out that piece of content, be funny – that makes the difference between simply sharing content and curating content.

While content curation is good for SEO and the marketing of your business, you’ll get more long-term results if you remember that your audience is not there to help you. Everything you write, curate and promote must be of the greatest value of the readers or viewers. Make it all about them and they will reward you with attention and interest.

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How a Few Pages Can Make or Break Your Website – Jeff Baker

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A prospect unequivocally disagreed with a recommendation I made recently. I told him a few pages of content could make a significant impact on his site. Even when presented with hard numbers backing up my assertions, he still balked. My ego started gnawing: would a painter tell a mathematician how to do trigonometry?

Unlike art, content marketing and SEO aren’t subjective. The quality of the words you write can be quantified, and they can generate a return for your business.

Most of your content won’t do anything

In order to have this conversation, we really need to deal with this fact.

Most content created lives deep on page 7 of Google, ranking for an obscure keyword completely unrelated to your brand. A lack of scientific (objective math) process is to blame. But more on that later.

Case in point: Brafton used to employ a volume play with regard to content strategy. Volume = keyword rankings. It was spray-and-pray, and it worked.

Looking back on current performance for old articles, we find that the top 100 pages of our site (1.2% of all indexed pages) drive 68% of all organic traffic.

Further, 94.5% of all indexed pages drive five clicks or less from search every three months.

So what gives?

Here’s what has changed: easy content is a thing of the past. Writing content and “using keywords” is a plan destined for a lonely death on page 7 of the search results. The process for creating content needs to be rigorous and heavily supported by data. It needs to start with keyword research.

1. Keyword research:

Select content topics from keywords that are regularly being searched. Search volume implies interest, which guarantees what you are writing about is of interest to your target audience. The keywords you choose also need to be reasonable. Using organic difficulty metrics from Moz or SEMrush will help you determine if you stand a realistic chance of ranking somewhere meaningful.

2. SEO content writing:

Your goal is to get the page you’re writing to rank for the keyword you’re targeting. The days of using a keyword in blog posts and linking to a product landing page are over. One page, one keyword. Therefore, if you want your page to rank for the chosen keyword, that page must be the very best piece of content on the web for that keyword. It needs to be in-depth, covering a wide swath of related topics.

How to project results

Build out your initial list of keyword targets. Filter the list down to the keywords with the optimal combination of search volume, organic difficulty, SERP crowding, and searcher intent. You can use this template as a guide — just make a copy and you’re set.

Get the keyword target template

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to top contenders, tally up the total search volume potential — this is the total number of searches that are made on a monthly basis for all your keyword targets. You will not capture this total number of searches. A good rule of thumb is that if you rank, on average, at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 for all keywords, your estimated CTR will be a maximum of 2%. The mid-bottom of page 1 will be around 4%. The top-to-middle of page 1 will be 6%.

In the instance above, if we were to rank poorly, with a 2% CTR for 20 pages, we would drive an additional 42–89 targeted, commercial-intent visitors per month.

The website in question drives an average of 343 organic visitors per month, via a random assortment of keywords from 7,850 indexed pages in Google. At the very worst, 20 pages, or .3% of all pages, would drive 10.9% of all traffic. At best (if the client followed the steps above to a T), the .3% additional pages would drive 43.7% of all traffic!

Whoa.

That’s .3% of a site’s indexed pages driving an additional 77.6% of traffic every. single. month.

How a few pages can make a difference

Up until now, everything we’ve discussed has been hypothetical keyword potential. Fortunately, we have tested this method with 37 core landing pages on our site (.5% of all indexed pages). The result of deploying the method above was 24 of our targeted keywords ranking on page 1, driving an estimated 716 high-intent visitors per month.

That amounts to .5% of all pages driving 7.7% of all traffic. At an average CPC of $12.05 per keyword, the total cost of paying for these keywords would be $8,628 per month.

Our 37 pages (.5% of all pages), which were a one-time investment, drive 7.7% of all traffic at an estimated value of $103,533 yearly. Can a few pages make or break your website? You bet your butt.

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How to Use Keyword Gap Analysis to Land High-Quality Guest Posts – Dustin Christensen

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The days of guest blogging strictly for SEO purposes may be over – Google long ago called out the tactic  – but it is still a great way to build rapport with your industry. Guest posting is also an ideal way to provide value to your audience without having a large platform yourself, which is often the case with new brands or websites.

One of the most challenging parts of this process is finding the right topic to pitch to your target sites. This can be particularly difficult when approaching large sites that have hundreds or thousands of published articles spanning many years. The chance that your topic has already been covered may be high.

Recently, I discovered an easy way to find potential topics for your guest posts that can nearly guarantee you will pitch something they haven’t covered before. It takes some research, but can dramatically improve your success rate when it comes to editors accepting your ideas.

Here is how it works:

1. Find a website you’d like to write for and identify their main organic competition.

2. Use the SEMrush Keyword Gap Tool to find keywords that the competition ranks for, but your target site does not.

With this data, you will have plenty of topics that your target site hasn’t sufficiently covered, and with the right approach, you can craft a pitch that is tailored to that site’s focus and audience. This doesn’t mean you will automatically get your idea published, but it will help you avoid pitching topics they have already discussed.

In your pitch, you can also allude to the fact that their closest competitors have covered the topic, which may help your case.

I recently used this strategy to write a contributor post for Foundr.com; a site focused on early-stage entrepreneurship. Here is a look at the process I used, and how you can apply this to your guest blogging campaigns.

Find Your Target Website

Many websites still accept guest posts or editorial submissions, so building your potential prospect list should be straightforward. I began by looking for entrepreneurship, business, and marketing sites that seemed accessible, and made a list of 5 – 10 websites I wanted to pitch.

From there, I started with Foundr.com because the site met my criteria and includes a contributor page with information on how to submit content ideas. When a site offers this info, it is much easier to adapt your pitch to exactly what they are looking for.

foundr contributor form

Aside from being a fan of Foundr’s podcast, I also spent some time browsing their recent and most popular blog articles to get an idea of the site’s tone, voice, and style. Once I was comfortable knowing I could pitch a topic that would be valuable to their audience, I began researching the site’s organic competition.

Identify the Organic Competition

The SEMrush Organic Competitors report identified more than 7,500 domains that had keywords in common with Foundr.com, including large sites like Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, and Medium.com.

foundr organic competition

When choosing domains to run through the Keyword Gap Analysis, however, I like to use sites that aren’t too large – otherwise, you will get a lot of keywords and topics that aren’t necessarily related to your target site.

If I were to run YouTube and Foundr through the analysis, for example, I would get thousands of keywords YouTube ranks for that are unrelated to Foundr.

It helps to identify sites of the same relative size and scope of your target site, and this will make the next step easier when choosing keywords and potential content topics. In my research, I found one site that seemed to have a large amount of data to work with, but was focused enough to provide targeted results, and that was Harvard Business Review.

foundr competition

Harvard Business Review covers everything from entrepreneurship to leadership, management, and marketing. The site seemed a good fit because Foundr takes a decidedly young approach to entrepreneurship, where HBR is a decades-old non-profit whose goal is “to improve the practice of management in a changing world.” They may cover similar topics, but their philosophies are different, and I believed I could use this to my advantage when crafting article ideas.

The next step was to find keywords and topics that HBR ranked for that Foundr did not.

Use Keyword Gap Analysis to Find Relevant Keywords

Using the Keyword Gap tool, I entered HBR.org as the first domain and Foundr.com as the second. In between, I chose the “Unique to the first domain’s keywords” option. This gave me more than one million keywords.

foundr gap analysis tool

To clean things up, I narrowed down the results by volume (keywords between 80 and 500 searches) and keyword difficulty (less than 85). This gave me a more manageable starting point of about 150,000 keywords.

how to build resilience at work keyword

Next, I began going through the keywords to see if there was anything I could use as the seed of an article for Foundr. Here is where critical thinking comes into play, and although it is not always fun to work through hundreds of keywords, the time you put into this stage can make or break your pitches down the road.

Many keywords were related to careers and management, including:

  • How to tell someone they are being laid off
  • Office politics hbr
  • How to write short cover letter

Some of these may be good long-tail topics, but Foundr is about early-career entrepreneurs and founders – not traditional career advice. After some research, one of the top keywords stood out:

  • how to build resilience at work

That was something that applied to entrepreneurship because of the immense obstacles and challenges facing those looking to build businesses. Resilience isn’t just helpful for founders – it is practically a requirement.

After doing further research on Foundr’s content, including a Google “site:” search, I found no other article that seemed to hit on the same topic. I had a winner.

Tailor Your Keyword with an Appealing Angle

Once you have your keywords in mind, it is not enough to simply pitch that search query as your topic. You will want to craft an angle that is specific to your target site’s audience and goals. For Foundr, it was not a stretch to relate resilience and entrepreneurship, but I needed to refocus the keyword to be more focused on their brand and business goals.

In my submission, I described “how entrepreneurs can build world-class resiliency by rethinking the way they approach their struggles and challenges.” I explained that for entrepreneurs, resilience is often more important than more concrete skills that are easier to quantify.

The search “how to build resilience at work” then became the topic of how to build resilience while building a business.

I sent the pitch and the next day received an email from the editor saying they were interested in the article. Several drafts, revisions, and months later, the article was published and shared more than 70 times.

building resilience article

Conclusion

For many writers and marketers, finding a good angle for content is often harder than the writing itself. Using the SEMrush Gap Analysis tool, I was able to cut hours of time from my prep work by focusing on topics I knew websites would be more likely to publish. It is not a fool-proof method to landing guest posts, but it can make the outreach process much more efficient.

In the end, the success of your guest post campaigns comes down to your ability to provide real, practical value to your audience, and the right keyword research can help you demonstrate that value front and center starting with your guest blog pitch.

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8 Ingredients Every Piece of Shareable Content Has – Rob Steffens

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In an ideal world, every piece of content you create would get shared. Here on the Web in 2018, though, things are a little bit … different.

With millions of websites already active and countless thousands of new content pieces going live every day, though, even the best content needs every advantage it can get to become truly shareable.

Luckily, the most successful shareable content all has certain traits in common. If you develop all of your content with these in mind, you’ll enjoy much more social engagement now and later.

Let’s take a gander at the seven top traits of the most shareable content:

1. A Compelling Headline

Your headline is the most important part of any piece of content – it determines whether users will click.

The best way to brainstorm here is to whip up a batch of ten headlines or so before you pick one. A/B testing the headlines on your posted content can also help.

2. Visuals and More Visuals

Experts claim that when it comes to shareable content, infographics win hands down: They’re shared about 3X more than other content types.

Even conventional blog posts benefit from eye-catching imagery, embedded video, and other non-text touches.

3. A Worthwhile Hook

When you clicked on this article, you knew what you were getting: Tips on shareable content.

Readers need to know at a glance how each piece of content will help them, so make it easy for them. Avoid clever headlines and long, meandering introductions.

4. Strong Organization

Most shareable content is very easy to scan, because, well, people don’t read on the Internet.

They want to be able to skip straight down to the most valuable information for them. List-based posts with bullet points or short paragraphs are the most effective here.

5. Readable Text

Content can be interesting without being Shakespeare. Generally speaking, you should keep things simple and use jargon only when you have to.

It doesn’t hurt to have a little variety in your sentences, but your meaning should always be obvious.

6. A Call to Action

Most people simply won’t take the next step – whatever it might be – unless it’s spelled out. Your content should always have a clear call to action.

To maximize the power of your shareable content, that CTA should focus on … you guessed it … sharing.

7. An Easy Way to Share

Hopefully, your prospects are logged into LinkedIn or Twitter all the time. Still, you should make sharing as easy as possible for them.

The fewer clicks, the better. There are many great ways to incorporate social sharing buttons into your site design – just be sure they’re not too intrusive.

8. Some Social Media Backing

Okay: Your shareable content doesn’t need to have a whole social campaign behind it. But it helps, since people are more likely to share content they encounter on their own social feed.

Sharing content to influencers the day of its release and a week later can supercharge your shares.

So, there you have it: 8 quick and dirty techniques for more shareable content.

Even if social sharing isn’t exactly the cornerstone of your inbound marketing campaign, it’s still worthwhile to consider it in your content planning. Even a marginal increase in social shares can add thousands of hits to your content every quarter.

Just like organic search traffic, this social traffic compounds over time to provide momentum and visibility to your future content marketing campaigns. Plus, social signals are growing in importance in SEO and other measures of website success.

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7 Forms of Content Marketing That Can Help You Generate More Sales Leads – Chirag Kulkarni

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According to a study by Media Dynamics, Inc., customers are shown more than 5,000 ads and brand messages per day, so it’s no surprise that content marketing is becoming one of the most successful strategies for reaching the consumer. People are tired of having traditional outbound ads forced on them, so when a brand steps in with authentic, useful content, consumers can’t get enough. That’s probably why content marketing generates six times the conversion rates of traditional marketing methods.

It’s easy to segment your content marketing to maximize your own conversion rates. Start by creating content based on your product or service, and then use content to target each of your strongest-performing buyer personas. To get even more specific, focus on the various pain points that these buyers are looking to address. According to Curata, 41 percent of marketers have increased the number and quality of their sales leads by utilizing content curation.

While there’s no denying the effectiveness of content marketing, it’s a broad term. Content comes in many different shapes and sizes and can require varying degrees of upfront investment. To improve your reach and generate more sales leads in 2018, focus on these seven forms of content.

1. Create a company blog. You should already have one, but if you don’t, then join the club and make 2018 the year you finally start that company blog. HubSpot notes that 53 percent of marketers cite blog content as their top priority for inbound marketing.

Putting blog content to work is a great strategy. Content Marketing Institute reports that more than three-quarters of all internet users read some form of blog, and they aren’t just passive observers. When given a recommendation by a favored blog, 61 percent of U.S. consumers made a purchase, which is probably why small businesses with a blog enjoy 126 percent more lead growth than their peers that don’t.

2. Use brand journalism. Part of what gives your brand a sense of authenticity is a strong focus on storytelling. Brand journalism is simply about keeping your audience up to date on the story of your company.

Companies such as PowerPost are making brand journalism easier by providing software that coordinates content publishing across a wide range of channels. They also help with content creation so it doesn’t take up your or your employees’ valuable time. After all, content marketing isn’t helping your bottom line if it gets in the way of running your business.

3. Add video content. According to Cisco, 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2021 will be video. It’s taking over the internet, but it’s especially significant in the social media sphere. When it comes to content, an Animoto survey found that customers prefer viewing a video 4 times more than reading text. This hasn’t escaped the attention of marketers — almost 70 percent say they’re ramping up spending on video production.

4. Curate content from influencers. Word of mouth is one of the most effective types of marketing, and online influencers can amplify that approach with powerful megaphones. YouTube is an especially effective means for influencers to reach their audiences — 70 percent of teenagers on YouTube relate to their favorite influencers better than conventional celebrities. According to a 2017 poll by PMYB, 28 percent of marketing managers reported that influencer marketing was their fast-growing method of acquiring customers online.

5. Spice up statistics with infographics. Customers prefer video over text, but an infographic allows information to be digested even faster. Infographics draw customers in quickly while communicating several paragraphs’ worth of messaging in a single visual, and the appeal is undeniable. On social media, infographics are shared and liked three times more often than other content varieties, according to research compiled by Lucidpress.

6. Employ Google AdSense. This advertising tool from Google puts display ads on websites that pay a commission each time they’re clicked. Google automatically scans your website content so it can display the most relevant advertising, meaning some ads are worth more than $1 per click for the website owner. AdSense is a great way to monetize a blog, yielding dollars that you can then reinvest in content generation.

7. Create an online course. If your business has expertise in a particular area, sharing it with your audience will help you gain a loyal following. If you’re not sure where to start, there are a number of marketplaces for online courses worth checking out, and certain software solutions can make the process of putting together a course simpler for you and your students.

Whether you rolled out a content marketing strategy for the first time in 2017 or you’ve been utilizing this marketing gold mine for years, there are many ways to optimize your content marketing performance in the coming year. Using some of these tools and techniques can help you generate more leads and acquire more customers, but remember that consistency is crucial when it comes to content marketing. Put in the time and effort, and you’ll reap the rewards.

 If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure by your donations – Thank you.

5 Tips for Creating Memorable Domain Names – Alexandra Watkins

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Every week, I help entrepreneurs come up with creative domain names for their startups, apps, and new ventures. It’s actually easier than ever to brainstorm domain name ideas. And you don’t need a whiteboard and sticky notes to generate innovative ideas.

As a naming professional, I rely on a range of creative solutions to find available domain names. (There are millions of good .com domain names available, including ones that contain vowels and are intuitive for people to spell and pronounce.)

You can use the same trusted tricks and tools that I use to come up with creative domain names that work for you. Here are five tips that can help you create a memorable .com domain name.

Tip #1: Try a Catchy Phrase

Creating a clever phrase related to your business can make people smile and help them find you if they can’t recall your business name. It happened to me a few weeks ago on a flight to Los Angeles. One of my favorite holiday traditions is paging through Oprah’s “Favorite Things” in O magazine. It’s a dazzling array of treasures and delicious delights.

My firm is named Eat My Words, so we like to send our clients gifts they can eat. I flagged at least a dozen delicious treats in the magazine. Then, in a moment of forgetfulness, I left the magazine on the plane. Later, when I desperately tried to remember all of the goodies, I couldn’t recall the company name Greenberg Smoked Turkey, but I absolutely remembered feasting my eyes on their domain name, GobbleGobble.com.

Here are some other catchy phrases that are used as domain names:

  • GreatHomesInSanDiego.com (realtor Kimberly Schmidt)
  • LifeAtLumina.com (Lumina condominiums)
  • VeggiesMadeEasy.com (Mann Packing)
  • JoeKnowsCoffee.com (Paramount Coffee Company)

A catchy phrase can be a great alternative to having the name of your company be your domain name. To spark ideas, look at dictionaries of phrases and idioms. 

Tip #2: Make Your Domain Name a Call to Action

  • Just Do It
  • Think Different
  • Be All You Can Be
  • Have It Your Way
  • Don’t Leave Home Without It

A strong call-to-action tagline in an ad campaign can inspire people, move them to purchase and build brand affinity. You can achieve the same effect by using a memorable call-to-action as your .com domain name.

Tesla could have considered a call-to-action domain name such as the emotionally-charged DriveTheFuture.com. While TeslaMotors.com limits the company to vehicles, a domain name like ThinkTesla.com could scale into space and beyond. It could also evoke the company’s relentless innovative thinking.

Other call-to-action domain names that caught my attention include:

  • EscapeToday.com (Embassy Suites)
  • DontCrackUnderPressure.com (TAG Heuer)
  • FindYourIndependentAdvisor.com (Charles Schwab)

You can use a call to action as your primary domain name or a secondary one to drive traffic to your site, such as the three listed above. Think about the actions you want your audience to take, say it in an effective way, and turn it into your domain name. 

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Tip #3: Try A Longer Domain Name 

A longer, descriptive domain name can be more memorable. For example, rtr.com is nice and short, but it doesn’t convey anything to prospective customers or evoke any images to help people remember it. And there are no recognizable words in it for a search engine to pick up. RentTheRunway.com is 10 characters longer than rtr.com but RentTheRunway gets far more mileage. It conjures up striking visual imagery and is endlessly meaningful and memorable.

Here are some longer domain names that don’t fall short:

  • DollarShaveClub.com
  • MyWifeQuitHerJob.com
  • FourHourWorkWeek.com
  • WeBuyUglyHouses.com

It doesn’t matter how many letters are in your domain name. What’s more important is that your domain name is memorable. That’s the long and the short of it.

Tip #4: Use A Modifier 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they dismissed a perfectly good brand name because they couldn’t get the identical .com domain name. It’s maddening because I know they could have simply added a modifier word or two instead of giving up. If you think that no company you’ve heard of has ever done this, think again. For instance, top beauty brand Bliss has been been sitting pretty for years at BlissWorld.com.

Up until February 2016, if you wanted to check out the latest Tesla car models and typed Tesla.com in your web browser, you would have landed on a website that was (pardon the pun) “parked.” If you were looking for the car company, what would you have done? Give up your quest? Of course not. You would have added another word to your search and quickly found the site you were looking for, which, since the company was founded in 2003, was TeslaMotors.com.

What other rapidly accelerating businesses use a domain name modifier? I found quite a few on the 2017 Inc. 5000 annual ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. They include Alley (YourAlley.com), S’well (SwellBottle.com), and Edge (EdgeServicing.com).

The lack of the exact domain name you have entered in a search is not a speed bump. Adding a modifier in the form of an extra word or two can help you find an available domain name and help your customers find you online.

Tip #5: Use a Domain Name Suggestion Tool

One of the easiest ways to come up with domain name ideas is to use NameStudio.com, which combines many of the above tips into one free online domain name suggestion service. All you need to do is type in a few related words and a list of relevant options is automatically generated for you to choose from.

When I named a company Viper Lock, the .com domain name was parked so I registered:

  • ViperLock.net and used NameStudio to brainstorm a list of more names.
  • GetViperLock.com
  • ViperLockSystems.com
  • ViperSmartLock.com
  • ViperBluetoothLock.com
  • BluetoothLockCompany.com
  • ViperWirelessLock.com
  • ViperKeylessLock.com

NameStudio can also help you find keyword-rich domain names, which can make it easier for prospective customers to find your company online. It’s a smart idea to pick up a few of these and redirect them to your main website.

You don’t need to torture yourself trying to come up with a great domain name. You just need to be willing to get creative. Don’t be afraid to add a modifier, use a catchy phrase, create a call-to-action, or go longer. And if you really want to end your frustration, let a free online domain name suggestion service, like NameStudio, do the work for you.

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How to Refocus Your Strategy and Reenergize Your Team – Stanley Meytin

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A person’s passion is the sincerest definition of who they are. Passion can manifest itself in a hobby, an aspiration, or if you’re really lucky, a career. Take two people, Joe and Jane, as an example. Joe has a passion outside of his career. He devotes a lot of his free time to this passion and naturally speaks about it to his peers.

When his peers think of him they probably define him as “person passionate about X.” Now take Jane, one of the lucky few who has made a career out of her passion. She devotes twice the amount of time, twice the amount of energy and twice the amount of conversation to her passion. How do you think her peers define her?

If you’ve read Simon Sinek’s bestseller Start With Why, then Jane will remind you of Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, or Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. Joe will remind you of the Wright Brothers. Each of these individuals built empires by undyingly following their passion. Sure, you can claim that these individuals are used as examples because of winner’s bias. But they succeeded because not only were they extremely passionate. They succeeded because they were able to clearly communicate their visions.

I consider myself extremely lucky. Like Jane, I’ve built a career out of my passion. When I first launched my film production company, my team asked the same questions regarding our clients that our competition was asking:

  • What is this client doing that’s different?
  • What do they bring to the table?
  • What problems are they solving for their customers?

While these questions helped us understand our clients, we realized they weren’t getting to the core of what defined them. We were part of the same old convention of business. We were focusing on what our clients were doing and not why they were doing it in the first place. Once we realized this, we began asking ourselves different questions:

  • How can we harness the passion that defines the client’s company to create a story?
  • Are their employees inspired by that passion?
  • Does the story align with their core values?
  • How can we align the story with the company’s brand mission?
  • How is that story going to connect with their audience?
  • How are we going to make the story authentic and engaging?

The biggest takeaway, however, didn’t come in the form of one of our clients’ videos going viral. It came in-house. 2016 was the first year we set a quantitative benchmark for the number of videos we wanted to produce. Not only did we not hit the benchmark, but with all the energy we put into hitting a quota we lost focus on creating a better product. We produced more videos, but they were watered down compared to previous years. We lost our own purpose.

We got rid of all quantity benchmarks in 2017 and as a team, we held a meeting to refocus. In this meeting, we asked ourselves the same questions that we asked our clients. We ended the meeting with a mission to create a video channel to tell impactful and authentic stories that inspire others.

That channel has been a remarkably accurate reflection of the meeting where it was first conceptualized. We’re now using the same techniques that helped us define our purpose in our core business for our corporate clients. Not only has it righted our ship and produced success but it has also provided us with an entirely new set of questions to ask our clients:

  • Is their organization helping others?
  • Is their mission connecting with others?
  • Are their customers genuinely understanding their mission?
  • Are employees buying into their mission, do they believe their roles play an important part in promoting the mission?
  • Are they building a community?
  • Are they staying true to their core values and the values of their customers and employees?

The beauty of these questions is that you can propose them to your clients, to your employees and even to yourself. They’re not specific to video production or any industry for that matter. If you already have the answers, that’s incredible. If not, then use them to refocus your strategy or reenergize your team.

Just swap “their” and “they” for “your” and “you.” Connecting to people on a deeper level, nurturing a human connection, evoking emotion and inspiring are key ingredients to building loyalty and bringing the best out in people.

Note, however, that not all ingredients are created equal. Like apples grown on two separate farms, the ingredients that I listed — those that were seeded and cared for with passion — will always taste better.

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How Big Rock Content Drives Major ROI – Dawn Papandrea

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When embarking on a content marketing initiative, you might think you need a significant library of content to get things going or attract attention. But if you go big enough with just one epic piece of content, it can fuel your content strategy for quite a while, allow for lots of spinoff content, and drive huge ROI.

Whether it’s an e-book, a whitepaper, infographics, or a video, “big rock content” can result in major returns on your time and money investment. “Whatever it is, it has to be big,” said Jason MillerLinkedIn’s Head of Content and Social Media Marketing at NewsCred’s ThinkContent London event. He’s one of the loudest industry cheerleaders for big rock content, and has the results to prove that it works.

Consider this: “The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide To LinkedIn,” achieved an ROI of 18,000 percent when it launched back in 2014, and is still LinkedIn’s number one asset today. It was most recently updated for 2017, and runs 48 pages.

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Need more convincing? Take a look at how big rock content can help you meet your ROI and KPI goals:

Building buzz, awareness, and impressions

After the blood, sweat, and tears of putting together its Breaking2 campaign – Nike’s big rock content project to chronicle if it was possible to run a marathon in less than two hours – it crossed the finish line with style. Some are even comparing Nike’s success to Red Bull’s infamous Stratos stunt, which featured daredevil Felix Baumgartner successfully jumping to Earth from the stratosphere.

Nike’s Breaking2 took two years and many different collaborators to put together, and culminated in more than 13.1 million people watching the livestream of the race on Nike’s Twitter page. As a follow-up, there was an hour-long documentary special produced with National Geographic, which brought in another million and a half views. A post-race teaser video has been viewed 6.5 million times on Facebook.

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Nike also had almost 600,000 mentions on social media, with the hashtag #Breaking2 being used more than 400,000 times, garnering more than 2 trillion impressions.

But there was so much more to the project than just the live event. In the leadup to the race, Nike created features on each of the three runners, and other pieces about its innovative shoe line.

Big rock tip: If you come up with a great idea, whether it’s commissioning an industry study, filming a documentary, or writing a definitive guide to help your customers, don’t fixate on the time and budget investment. Think about what such a piece of content can do to help establish your brand’s voice, position it as a thought leader, and/or showcase outstanding customer service. If you can achieve any of those high-level goals, it will pay off many times over in the long run.

Bringing in leads

When it comes to lead generation, one of the most proven ways to collect contact information is to offer audiences something of value in return for their information. Many brands have used content of the big rock variety to entice prospective customers.

In fact, Miller points out that while 73 percent of LinkedIn’s marketing qualified leads are driven by content, a third of them come from “big rock” pieces of content.

Ellevest, the online investment platform aimed at women, is a great example of how gated long-form guides can help drive leads. Although the company offers some free blog content, visitors who are most serious about getting into investing provide their email addresses to access premium, gated content, like “The Go-Getter’s Guide to Investing.”

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The challenge is, your gated big rock content has to be so alluring that people will be willing to relinquish their email addresses in exchange. One way to build trust with your audience is through blog posts and shorter pieces of content, which they’ll check out before accessing a gated big rock piece.

Big rock tip: Do the research to figure out the major questions and problems your audience has, and make that the focus of your big rock projects. Then, polish your shorter, un-gated content pieces so that they are high-quality enough to inspire audiences to take the next step into your lead-driving big rock content.

Facilitating the content-sales connection

It’s not always the case when you can draw a direct line between content marketing and sales. But when you can, there’s a good chance that big rock content played a role. One of the best examples of this is still Marriott’s ambitious big rock short film, “French Kiss.” It drove more than $500,000 in Marriott bookings in less than 60 days.

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The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide To LinkedIn” also directly resulted in revenue to the tune of $4.6 million in its first 90 days, said Miller in an interview.

Big rock tip: If your big rock content is intended for people lower in the funnel who are closer to their buying decisions, include strong calls to action and clear next steps. The LinkedIn Guide simply ends with a link to its marketing page, for example. Think about what you want your reader to do next, and make sure it’s a seamless journey.

Creating operational efficiencies for content marketing teams

While it’s true that a big rock content campaign can become all-consuming, remember that you can repurpose the heck out of it once it’s complete, thus making it the gift that keeps on giving.

Content Marketing Strategist Rebecca Lieb originated the “Thanksgiving turkey” content marketing analogy, which is perfect for big rock content: “You cook up this giant bird to serve up on one glorious occasion and then proceed to slice and dice this thing for weeks on end. If you are like most families, you are going to be repurposing this bird as leftovers for quite some time, creating everything from sandwiches, to soups, and more.”

MarketingSherpa is a brand that got lots of bang for its big rock buck after embarking on an extensive customer satisfaction research study that involved surveying 2,400 people and resulted in a 54-page report. The team was then was able to break it into chunks that focused on smaller data points and create press releases, short YouTube videos, and other social media postings.

Big rock tip: Be creative when it comes to different ways to slice and dice your big rock projects. Some ideas: Turn individual e-book chapters into shorter blog posts, create infographics from data points, put together a SlideShare presentation, create Instagram and Twitter-worthy images with pull quotes, do a “behind the scenes” podcast or video interview, and/or pull out key bullet points in your email newsletter.

Big rock content does take time, effort, and money, but it should be an integral part of your content strategy. Because you’re giving your audience something of value, it will result in a substantial return for your brand. Once it’s ready to go, launch it loudly, promote it heavily, and watch the ROI soar.

If everyone who reads our articles and like it , help to fund it. Our future would be much more secure if you send us your donations…THANK YOU

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