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Content Marketing

Content Marketing, Startups

Startup Founders, This is How to Do Content Marketing from Day 1

Want your website to summit the search engine results page? You need a blog. Want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry? A blog can make your name. Need to provide content that nurtures leads and gives current customers what they need to be successful with your product? All of that can be done with a blog.

This isn’t news.

You know you need a blog. And, by now, you’ve probably figured out that just having a blog isn’t enough to get any of the above results. It has to be good.

Scratch that.

“Good, unique content. Problem is, almost everyone can get here. They really can. It’s not a high bar, a high barrier to entry to say you need good, unique content. . . . If you can’t consistently say, ‘We’re the best result that a searcher could find in the search results,’ well then, guess what? You’re not going to have an opportunity to rank.” — Rand Fishkin, Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die — Whiteboard Friday

It has to be great.

But even Level-Great content is becoming saturated because the secret is out. Content is the key to:

  • Build brand recognition — 71% of all respondents who maintain blogs for a business report that they have increased their visibility within their industries through their blogs.
  • Establish leadership in your space — In 2016, 36% of Fortune 500 companies have a public blog.
  • Boost acquisition — 77% lift in median monthly leads occurs to businesses with over 51 blog articles.
  • Improve retention — “A business’ best protection against churn is a Customer Success team armed with a content marketing strategy.”

Unbounce figured this out almost immediately. In an interview, Unbounce Co-Founder Rick Perreault said, “We started marketing the day we started coding.” What did that marketing look like? One marketing employee who focused on creating high-ranking blog content that produced significant and consistent value to the reader.

You know all this. You’re sitting there thinking “Yeah, I know, content is king, quality is king, we’ve got a pair of kings and our content STILL isn’t getting us to Page 1.”

The problem is: You’re creating all of this quality content without a cohesive SEO strategy in place. A strategy that leverages your great, big body of content to achieve the most effect.

We’re not talking about a list of keywords here.

But to understand the kind of strategy we’re suggesting, you’re going to need a brief history lesson.

Read More on HubSpot’s “Think Growth”


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Branding, Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Creativity, Emotion, Visual Communication

Why weird works: copywriter @KiraHug on branding with personality

Conversion copywriter and podcast host Kira Hug talks about her journey to build her brand and why strategically-crafted visuals are so important for connecting with the right people.

“This might sound strange coming from a copywriter – who should, presumably, eat, sleep and poop words – but I love me some visuals.”

Kira Hug isn’t just any copywriter. She’s a conversion copywriter – which means her specialty is writing words that spur and inspire readers to take action. If you’re selling a product or service and want to talk your ideal customers into buying them, Kira is the person behind the scenes making that happen with landing pages, sales pages, and email campaigns.

This work requires her to get inside people’s minds, take on different brand voices, and play upon just the right mix of pains, fears and desires that cause people to act.

It also requires a strong grasp of how to use an entire brand experience to attract and connect with ideal customers – and much of that experience is created through visuals. Visuals are never to be underestimated.

But that’s an idea that runs contrary to the philosophy of many writers – we’re biased. Our art is the written word. However, Kira didn’t grow up as the ‘writer’ in the family. Her identity was ‘the artist.’

“My sister was the smarty pants. I embraced my artistic side and wore the ‘artist’ label very happily. That followed me into college. But I realized, I can’t be a fine artist and live the life I want, so I pursued graphic design.”

As Kira worked toward her B.F.A. in Fine Arts in Visual Communication, she found herself attracted to advertising classes, which led to an advertising design internship.

That’s where things really started to click for me. You get to be creative, and there’s strategy, words, and visuals and psychology behind it. I remember thinking that this is the best thing ever.

Of course, the challenge all new graduates face is finding a job in the ‘real world’ doing what you love. Which rarely, if ever, happens fresh off of campus. With no job prospects in sight, Kira took a leap of faith and moved to New York City, a lifelong goal.

“I didn’t plan well in terms of having a job before I moved there. I just did it. So I took the first job I could find at Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s management training program. I cringed at taking it. It was so different from the cool, art-design job I’d envisioned, and I was embarrassed by it.”

For nine months, Kira sold car insurance and rental cars, spending down time washing cars “in a parking garage that smelled like urine, in a pencil skirt.”

But at the same time she was learning how to tap into the selling power of words.

Over the next several years, Kira took many different jobs – glamorous jobs at places like Estee Lauder’s store design department, hard jobs in marketing for non-profits, even jobs in event planning. If she didn’t feel like she was growing, learning, and feeling challenged, she’d move onto the next thing.

After Kira had her first child, she needed a little more control over her work schedule. She began working for a fast-growing startup as CMO, which allowed her to build her reputation in the company as well as her own business on the side at the same time.

All with a newborn baby. Is Kira Hug secretly Wonder Woman?

Possibly. She does have more alter-egos than the average copywriter. But that’s all part of her brand strategy.

In this interview, Kira Hug tells us how she built her solo copywriting business and how her artistic background informs everything she does, from her own blog, to her copy, to her delightfully quirky business strategy.

Read More on Canva


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Customer Experience

The Customer Journey Mapping Guide to Getting Started ft. @Wootric

A customer journey map is a diagram of all the places customers come into contact with your brand, online or off. Each of these touchpoints influences the customer, and by analyzing customer behavior, feelings and motivations around each touchpoint, you can begin to identify opportunities to establish more positive relationships by giving customers what they need at any given stage of their journey.

The goal of journey mapping is to gain a deeper understanding of your customer, how they interact with your brand, and how each interaction affects your relationship. It’s also a way to ensure that the brand experience remains consistent for each customer across touchpoints.

“With the number of touchpoints a customer has with a brand increasing with the proliferation of technologies and channels, the need to create a consistent experience is critically important.” – McKinsey & Company

But the big picture goal is why there is so much buzz around customer journey maps now:

Customer journey maps can move you towards more conversions, greater customer loyalty, and improved customer experience from end to end (or from end to forever, if your subscription-based and there’s no bottom to your sales funnel).

But customer journey maps can be complicated to create, and their results can be difficult to track and interpret from end to end. Many businesses are tempted to ignore it altogether in favor of lower-hanging fruit to increase conversions.

However, that hesitancy to use journey maps is quickly disappearing as more companies are seeing the results from properly mapping their customer journeys.

And, if your company is struggling with the question: “Why aren’t customers completing (or repeating) purchases?” – there is no better time to create the map that will lead you to that answer.

Read More on Wootric


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Social Media

Party blogging with work-life balance: How a love for parties helped Jessica Lighter (@Celebrationsty) find her calling

Brands like Pier 1 and Target regularly find Jessica Lighter, of The Celebration Stylist, through her Instagram posts. In fact, despite her accomplishments as a party planner and blogger, she says the community she’s made on Instagram is what she’s proudest of. Here she talks about how she built a following of thirty-thousand highly engaged followers.

“I always had all these fun business ideas but I never had an audience for them. I knew if only people saw the things I could create, they would appreciate them and support them, but finding an audience was the hardest part. And what’s a business without buyers right?”

Jessica Lighter has always been a woman of many talents. Creativity isn’t something she does, it’s who she is. Trying to find a job that encompassed her many talents wasn’t easy; as she says “They don’t offer ‘party throwing’ as a college major.” But in high school she worked at a mall store that specialized in children’s birthday parties, and while she didn’t expect that to become her career path, it sort of did.

She went on to open her own party store, but when she and her husband decided to have children, her focus changed. She closed the store and planned occasional parties for families around the neighborhood, working events around the schedule of a stay-at-home mother. Then she began posting pictures of these parties on Instagram.

“I had a personal (but not private) Instagram account, like most people do, and one day I got a couple of random strangers following me. It dawned on me almost instantly that somehow I needed to grow my Instagram account and THAT would be my audience.”

Growing her Instagram following became her focus. She knew she could find an audience there and maybe even people to buy her products. Not only that, but “People that were interested and invested in my journey and what I would create.”

She says it was the exact solution she needed.

“No matter what I decided to do, I needed people to know about it if I was going to make it work on my own.”

Instagram fascinated Jessica. She saw businesses and brands using it as practically their only medium for growth. Jessica has devoted a lot of time to studying how to build a business through Instagram, and along the way, she discovered that she also enjoyed writing, which made blogging about her parties a natural evolution.

“There have definitely been points where I felt I was failing at life, but it all sort of funneled into this. And this lets me stay home with my daughter, write, create – all of which I like to do. A lot of people think they can’t make a career out of what they love to do, but I’m here to tell you, you can. You might just not know how yet.”

Jessica says she had no idea before she started that there were companies, big ones, that would pay other people to create images for them.

Today, Jessica as The Celebration Stylist works with brands like Target, Shutterfly and Pier 1 to create styled party shoots for her blog and Instagram, in addition to planning parties for local clients. It’s a system that’s working so well for her that she says she isn’t accepting new clients at this point – she’s earning enough and is able to give her two-year-old all the attention she needs (which, being a two-year-old, is a lot!).

Unlike so many entrepreneurs, Jessica Lighter isn’t all about the hustle. Her priorities are her daughter, work-life balance, and spending what time she has (while her daughter is napping) doing what she loves. Not a bad way to do business, if you ask me.

In this interview, Jessica Lighter shares how she built an Instagram following of more than 30,000 highly engaged followers, works with big-name brands, and is starting a community of party-loving creatives all on social media.

Read More on Canva


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Growth Hacking

Rise above the noise and get your startup noticed with Rocket Fuel! 🚀

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Announcing a new package for startups!

Competition is fierce, and loud, and… everywhere. To get noticed by early adopters, evangelical customers, tech enthusiasts, investors, thought leaders and Silicon Valley insiders, you need a way to reach them that isn’t over-saturated. Something that pushes you into their radar so you can finally reach the great heights your product deserves.

In my Rocket Fuel Package, I offer a way you can get:

  • Brand recognition – among your ideal audience
  • In front of an engaged audience of thousands of startup enthusiasts
  • Your content shared on cutting-edge tech communities like Growth Hackers, Product Hunt, Inbound.org, SaaS.Community and more
  • Not just more traffic, but qualified traffic who are more likely to convert to leads
  • A quickly growing reputation as a thought leader in your industry

Think of me as an extension of your content marketing team.

Learn More + Fill Out a Form if You’re Interested 


“The value Nichole is offering for this price is unbelievable—the Rocket Fuel Package is a steal!”

– Kiki Schirr, CEO of WeKiki 

Content Marketing

10 Extremely Effective, Totally Free Content Promotion Strategies by @NikkiElizDemere

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Good content isn’t cheap, and it’s certainly not easy – even if you’re doing it yourself, or trying to save a buck and tasking your non-writerly employees with the job. Time or cash, either way, you’re going to invest to do it right*.

* What’s the point in doing it wrong? Nobody is going to pay attention to bad content, including Google’s web crawler algorithms.

But to make that content work for you, you have to promote it. This is why content promotion is a vital step in your content marketing process.

Producing content alone it isn’t enough to get you noticed, read and shared.

Yet, many companies drop the ball with their content. They put it up on the company blog and sit and wait for people to come – but nobody knows it’s there.

Or, almost as bad, they’ll quit after posting the link on social media for all of their 27 followers to ignore.

Because those followers have been given no reason to pay attention in the first place.

Now – content marketing does work. When you do it right, it can establish your company as a thought leader, increase trust and brand awareness, and nurture leads through your sales funnel.

Content can also provide customer success support for existing customers, helping answer questions and learn to derive more value from your product.

In addition to all of these benefits, good content is a sustainable way to climb Google’s rankings and ensure your website’s place among the firmament (i.e. the top slots of the search engine results page).

Good content doesn’t get dinged or demoted. It builds a following. And the longer you have it up, the better it works as more people see it, read it, love it and share it. For many businesses, quality content marketing is the long but steady path up the mountain to search engine supremacy.

For all of this to work though, you have to get your content out there. And if you’re a startup or relatively new business, your funds are likely allocated elsewhere.

I’ve got you covered – because you don’t need a marketing budget for any of these content promotion strategies. Fair warning: If you’re not investing money, you will need to invest some time. Nothing happens by magic — at least not yet.

Read More on ThoughtFlame


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Visual Communication

How to Effectively Use Images For Better Conversion by @NikkiElizDeMere

howtouseimages

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

There’s a boring definition of conversion, but I prefer to simplify it down to monkeys.

Monkey see. Monkey do.

The “do” is the conversion. But the magic is in the “see.” What does a monkey — or person — see that spurs them into doing? And what gets in the way between the “see” and the “do” that makes “doing” less likely?

Using images to improve conversion rates requires answering those two questions. Essentially, you need an image that creates a desire to take action and reduces any friction.

Read More on Convert.com


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization, Visual Communication

​How to Create Images That Attract & Convince Your Target Niche ft. @VisageCo

how-to-create-images

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Any old picture might be worth a thousand words. But your target niche doesn’t need or want a thousand words. Your ideal audience needs the right words, paired with the right images, to tell a story that uniquely appeals to their deepest desires.

Studies show that people understand images faster than words, remember them longer, and if there’s a discrepancy between what we see and what we hear, our brains will choose to believe what they see. Our brains prioritize visual information over any other kind, which makes images the fast-track to connection all marketers are looking for.

So don’t just slap some text on a stock photo and call it good. You can do better. Much better. And I’ll show you how.

Read More on Moz


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Tools, Visual Communication

10 Creative Visual Tools & Where to Share Your Visual Content by @NikkiElizDeMere

Visual-Content-Tools

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Gone are the days when a simple infographic would cut the mustard. Today’s content marketers have to be agile, ready to take on everything from photo editing, to video editing, to creating memes guaranteed to go viral. Considering that many content marketers aren’t designers (or even former film majors) – that’s a considerable challenge. I’ve compiled my favorite tools that make visual content marketing easy for everyone, in nearly every medium. No expertise required.

But wait – there’s more. Creating visual content is only half the battle for marketers – I get that! So at the end of this post is a list of 10 Places to Share Your Designs That Will Bring You Way More Traffic Than Twitter or Facebook.

Happy visualizing!

10 Visual Marketing Design Tools for Non-Designers

1. PicMonkey (for collages & basic photo editing)

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Picmonkey is a free, web-based photo editor and graphic design tool with a surprising number of ever-changing fonts, trendy color schemes and fun designs to choose from.

2. Placeit (for product mockups)

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Placeit makes it easy to generate product mockups without Photoshop, and costs far less (one download costs $8, and monthly plans start from $12).

3. Visage (for data visualization)

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Visage makes it easy to bring great design to data by making it simple to create charts and graphs, and visually design them with colors, fonts, clipart and high-res image backgrounds. You can also use it to super-impose words on background images (many of which are included in the freemium version), or to create infographics.

4. Free Stock Photos (for all of your royalty-free photo needs)

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Free stock photo sites:

  • Unsplash – Adds 10 new royalty-free photos every 10 days, best for breathtaking landscapes, cityscapes and still-lives.
  • Picjumbo – High-res photos, no attribution required for almost all images, best for food pictures.
  • Gratisography – Quirky, fun, provocative images by Ryan McGuire.
  • NewOldStock – A random assortment of vintage photos ranging from the Sphinx to the Rolling Stones, and everything in between.

5. Awesome Screenshot (for annotated screenshots)

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Awesome Screenshot, available on Mozilla, Chrome and Safari, allows you to take screenshots of whole pages or parts of pages and annotate them with shapes – exceptionally useful for critiquing pages and images.

6. Social Image Resizer Tool (easy resizing for those who don’t think in pixels)

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Social Image Resizer Tool makes it extremely easy to resize your images according to where you want to use them. Just upload your image and choose where it’s going – no need to know the pixel count.

7. Dissolve (a resource for video stock footage for commercial use)

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Dissolve has HD quality, royalty-free stock footage available for commercial use, making it easy to create a jaw-dropping video. Footage isn’t free, so expect to pay a few hundred for a 10-20 second clip.

8. Stencil (basic words on image generator for social media)

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Stencil is a Chrome extension that lets you quickly put words on images that are pre-sized for social sharing. $9/month.

9. Imgflip (for making memes)

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ImgFlip is a meme-creating tool that lets you customize font and text, and make GIFs from images or videos.

10. Qzzr (for creating quizzes)

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Qzzr is an app for creating interactive quizzes for free (with basic customization) or $299/year for Pro-level options.

10 Places to Share Your Designs That Will Bring You Way More Traffic Than Twitter or Facebook

As a content marketer, you likely spend as much or more time promoting your content than creating it (or you should be). But with so many content marketers flooding the main arteries of social media, it’s getting harder to get your content noticed, which is why many of us have found much better results from sharing our visual content via these networks.

  1. Pinterest – Some bloggers have cultivated followings of thousands just by using Pinterest, or a combo of Pinterest and Instagram (see The Dabblist). Sharing is free, but there is a science to which kinds of posts do best. They’re image-heavy, informative, and list-centric.
  2. Instagram – Instagram is a powerful tool for visual content marketers, especially for sharing customer-centric photos (pictures about your customers), employee-centric photos (pictures about your employees or CEO) and contest photos.
  3. com/oggl/ – If you use Hipstamatic’s photo effects to stylize your photos, you can share them on Hipstamatic’s community via their app. No one is as likely to appreciate your creative efforts as other creatives, and you might just up your game by getting ideas from your peers.
  4. com – Describing itself for “show and tell for designers,” Dribbble is where you come to really strut your stuff, or get ideas from the best. Top designs get thousands of page views and hundreds of likes.
  5. net – Another showcase site for creative work, Behance also allows you to get peer kudos in the form of thousands of views and hundreds of likes. You can submit your work to several categories, including Branding, Graphic Design, UI/UX and Web Design.
  6. Tumblr – Incredibly sticky with a hip, young audience, Tumblr can be a great resource for marketing to millennials, especially if you’re marketing to a tight niche and have an amusing image.
  7. org – If your design skills are ready to turn pro (and freelance), you might want to check out Designers Couch. It’s like a collection of portfolios for designers, illustrators, web designers, and other visual creatives.
  8. Slideshare – For B2B marketing, Slideshare is a happening place for sharing slides, infographics, and other informative visual materials. Don’t use it for blatant ads, but do use it for publishing exceptional original high-value content.
  9. Vine – With channels like “DIY” and “Gaming,” and a young, tech-savvy demographic, Vine is practically made to foster viral videos. If you’re trying to reach younger millennials, this is where they are. Prepare to entertain them within 6 seconds.
  10. Sub-Reddits & Reddit-Infographics – Finding the best Sub-Reddit for your niche is the hard part (there are so many). Uploading your infographic, meme, GIF or image is the easy part. But watch out for Mod rules like “no more self-promotion.”

Each social media outlet has its own style and its own user demographic, but that just makes them better tools for finding and attracting your target market. But one characteristic rings true for all of them: These are users who love good humor, great visuals, and truly innovative creativity.


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Content Marketing, Visual Communication

The Power of Visual Storytelling: 15 Stunning Examples to Inspire You by @NikkiElizDeMere

the-power-of-visual-story-telling

Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).

Before the days of neon lights and marquee signs, business owners had to get creative when it came to advertising their establishments. In fact, wine bars in ancient Rome used to hang bunches of vine leaves outside their door as a nod to the God of Wine, Bacchus. And when weather conditions left them with a short supply of vine leaves, barkeeps turned to bushes — inns called Bush, or Bull & Bush, still exist today.

But others didn’t even have that. They had to get artistic. And with a largely illiterate population, pictorial signs were the only logical advertising choice.

Visual storytelling — or passing on a lot of information through a relatively simple visual aid — has been a cornerstone of marketing for thousands of years. I’d like to say we’ve come a long way, but really? What worked then works now: We see what we want and we’re driven to buy it.

Perhaps, if anything has changed, it’s what we want from life. That’s where today’s visual storytellers have a chance to not only say “Hey, you can get this here!” but also lead the consumer into a whole new world of possibilities.

Below you’ll find 15 of the very best examples of visual storytelling from B2C, B2B, crowdfunding, and SaaS. These companies know how to tell a brand story that seeds desire, starts relationships, and inspires nothing short of love. Check ’em out.

Read More on HubSpot


Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.