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Content Marketing

Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization

The Link-Building Strategy that Makes You the Authority

To boost the search performance of your website and content, you need a strategy

By strategy, I do not mean:

  • Link farms
  • Keywords stuffing
  • Buying links
  • SEO squatting
  • Creating social media accounts for your pets so you can generate social search links back to your website.

Yes, that last one is a real ‘Grey-hat’ SEO technique, and not one I would recommend, no matter how much you love your cats (or how much your cats love your products).

With every algorithm change Google introduces, it becomes harder and harder to ‘game’ the system. So why try? It’s a good system, designed to bring relevant search results to people who need them.

Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do here? Bring your solution to the people who need it?

But you might think that, unless you smudge a few ethical lines, you can’t get ahead of the people who do. There is a better way. But, it’s going to take some major reorganization of your content.

The technique is referred to as ‘Topic Clustering’ or ‘Pillar pages’.

Read More on Social Media Today
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Branding, Content Marketing, Guest Posts, SaaS

Why SaaS Companies Need a Messaging Strategy Document (And How to Create One) by @kaleighf

Guest post by Kaleigh Moore, freelance writer for SaaS companies. 

Especially for new SaaS companies, figuring out the appropriate messaging can be a daunting task. When you’re trying to grow and scale quickly, messaging is an element that often gets pushed to the back burner. It seems like a “nice to discuss” not a “must discuss RIGHT NOW.”

But the thing is: Messaging matters. It matters a lot.

If you don’t to who you’re writing for (or how that voice should sound, or what it should be saying)–you might be hurting your company’s growth efforts.

You’re essentially just “winging it”. I call this the spaghetti method: You’re throwing language noodles and hoping something sticks. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but overall, it’s not the most strategic approach.

So what can you do about it?

I always encourage SaaS companies to develop a comprehensive messaging strategy very early in the launch process. Doing so helps ensure everyone is on the same page right from the start–and it makes scaling content efforts a whole lot easier down the road.

Let’s look at what you should include in your messaging strategy when you need to develop one of your own.

Getting Started with SaaS Messaging Strategy

One of the biggest reasons for developing a SaaS messaging strategy in the first place is so it can act as a roadmap for all customer-facing content. From website copy to marketing materials, these notes on writing voice, style, and more will add consistency and uniformity across the various customer touchpoints you’re building.

A few months back, I had a founder come my way who needed some help putting together a messaging strategy document for this very purpose. He was looking for help strengthening the company’s value proposition so that the copy was tight, polished, and customer-centric upon launch. Together, we developed a well-documented messaging strategy that he then used before, during, and after launch.

Documenting was a key step in this process. Many brands discuss their plans for messaging, but don’t take the time to put them down in writing. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute, as of 2016, just 37% of B2B marketers and 40% of B2C marketers had a written content marketing plan.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the key elements of a messaging strategy that you’ll want to document and share across your entire team so that everyone is on the same page.

How to Create a SaaS Messaging Strategy Document

Your messaging strategy can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, but there are a few key elements you’ll want to include at a basic level.

What to include: The Basics

  • What we do: Define what your SaaS does in 2-3 sentences
  • Value proposition: The unique value behind your product or service
  • Stats to leverage: The hard numbers/stats you can showcase to reinforce your value proposition
  • How we’re different: Why a customer should buy from you over a similar SaaS
  • How it works: The 3-5 step process that outlines how one can become a new customer
  • Target customers: Who you’re trying to sell to (customer personas work well for this)
  • Target customers’ pain points: What obstacles/problems you can solve for the customer

What to include: Style Guide

  • High level content objective: What are your big picture goals for content? Define them and set benchmarks for success.
  • Content-specific goals: What are your content-specific goals for mediums like email, blog posts, website copy, etc? Define objectives that give you data points to strive for.

  • Notes on tone, voice, and style: How should your brand voice sound? Friendly? Formal? Will you use em dashes in lieu of semicolons? Make detailed notes on how you want your brand to look and sound in writing.

  • Competitors (not to reference): If you’re going to be bringing on external help, it’s good to have a list of competitors not to reference (data-wise, and link-wise) in materials.

Need more inspiration? This template messaging map can help get the ball rolling.

💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Content Marketing, Product Management, SaaS, Testimonials

Testimonial from Kristin Hillery (@kristinhillery) of @InVisionApp

If you’re lucky enough to work with Nichole on a project, it’ll be clear from the start that you’re working with a total pro. She just “gets it”—and it’s so rare to find people who can quickly understand what you’re looking for, communicate clearly and smoothly throughout the entire process, and then deliver something that exceeds your expectations. And that’s all on top of the fact that Nichole is passionate not just about her work, but about building communities around it.

— Kristin HilleryEditor at InVision

More testimonials
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Community, Content Marketing, Startups

How 14,500 marketers are creating the future of content consumption ft. @ZestisApp

Yam Regev is CEO, CMO and Co-Founder of Zest.is, a platform that delivers extremely high-quality content about marketing to marketers. In this interview, he talks about building a company with tribes, launching by word-of-mouth, and the big idea behind Zest that could change content consumption as we know it.

Zest.is addresses a problem we’ve all felt when searching for useful, informative articles online that tell us what we need to know – only to find fluff, misinformation, clickbait, and fake news. Social Media filters, Google’s algorithms and machine learning are currently no match for people who have learned to game these systems and manipulate readers into clicking into useless articles.

The nuts and bolts of Zest are simple. It’s a new-tab Chrome extension where marketers can share and discover high-quality, genuinely informative articles about marketing. All of the content on Zest’s feed is suggested and manually moderated by its marketer community members. In fact, less than one percent of suggested content makes it to the feed – a point of pride for Yam Regev, Zest co-founder, CEO and CMO.

Why sift through content manually instead of just developing better algorithms and machine learning? The thought had crossed their minds – before they dismissed it as just not good enough.

“When we thought of doing it that way, we thought we’d be only creating another manipulatable type of platform, like Google. We needed to create a human-based model, a vote-based type of platform. But even an upvote system can be manipulated, and there’s no guarantee upvoted articles contain valuable content – it can be like a popularity contest. We went to a Seth Godin Ted Talk in 2009, and he talked about the Tribe-based model.”

Seth Godin’s Ted Talk sparked an idea for Yam Regev and his co-founder Idan Yalovich, who didn’t plan on just creating another content curation platform. They wanted to start a much larger movement.

Seth Godin’s Ted Talk sparked an idea for Yam Regev and his co-founder Idan Yalovich, who didn’t plan on just creating another content curation platform. They wanted to start a much larger movement.

Read More on Canva


Enjoy this article? Sign up for my Sunday Brunch newsletter.

My newsletter is strictly about building online communities, in places like Facebook groups and Slack channels (to name but two), around your SaaS product and brand. Communities help promote higher lifetime value, lower churn, happier customers, and – my favorite – customer success. But it’s not enough to just invite people to join. Creating a genuine sense of community is a little more complicated – and that’s what my newsletter is about.

Community, Content Marketing

Forget content – pro-blogging is all about networking ft. @mtnsidebride

Christie Osborne—bride blogger at Mountainside Bride and marketing consultant for wedding professionals at Mountainside Media—talks about how today’s bloggers are banding together to make a living.

Blogging has changed significantly over the past seven years. Algorithms and banner ads rose and fell. Blogs grew from personal journals into serious business, as bloggers and brands learned how to work together.

Christie Osborne has been blogging about weddings since 2010, first with Hindsight Bride, then transforming that into Mountainside Bride and her marketing consultancy, Mountainside Media. She’s also been on the other side of the blogging world as the media director for Visit Mammoth.


Image Source: Mountainside Bride

In blogging, as in much of the tech world, seven years is a lifetime. In wedding blogging, where most bride bloggers last for one or two years before finding they have nothing left to say, you can count Christie’s tenure in dog years.

To say she has a valuable perspective to offer on building a sustainable blogging business is an understatement. She’s got it on lock.

And the secret to successful, income-generating blogging isn’t at all what you’d think.

“Everyone thinks blogging is about the content. Great content just gives you parity. Publishing your content on social media just gives you parity.

“What’s the X factor that allows some people to grow really quickly? In my experience, as a small niche blog and a consultant who quit her job a year ago and got work immediately – it wasn’t my blog. My blog was there as a testament to what I could do, to build authority, to be there at the review phase, but I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business so quickly without people referring me.

‘Yes you need SEO, a great website, to blog regularly and be on social media. Yes you need to be a real person in your email marketing. But unless you have a posse in 2017, you don’t exist.”

Did I mention that Christie is blunt? She’s blunt.

But that’s why she gives such good advice.

Bride blogging has come a long way

Christie started Hindsight Bride (now Mountainside Bride) in 2010, after planning her own mountain wedding. She felt alone, without resources. And mountain weddings can be unexpectedly difficult. Vendors can be unreliable, and if you’re stuck halfway up a mountain without port-a-potties, you’re not just up a mountain, you’re up a creek.

“Back then there was neither information nor inspiration for mountain couples. So I dove in to help people like me to learn from my mistakes, and to find the resources and information that are so specific to mountain weddings.”

From the beginning, her bride blog was “all about The Pretty,” but supported by information.

“I run between 25 to 40 images per real wedding and often support my advice posts with 5 to 10 images.”


Source: Mountainside Bride

In the early days, she says growth was easy – and exponential.

“It was easy because there was no one else in that particular space. And you feel like that’s never going to end. But when you stick through the slumps and plateaus, you find that your audience (and it’s a little easier with weddings – our audience changes every 6 to 12 months) gets burnt out. And your message after two or three years doesn’t seem shiny, new or exciting. Not for you, not for anyone.”

Part of Christie’s success in growing her blog into not just one, but two businesses, is sheer staying power and professional drive.

“If you’re going to be a blogger for more than 2-3 years, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that you won’t always be that special internet snowflake and a huge part of your audience will churn. You have to understand that you’ll have to drum up new businesses, and you won’t feel like it, and it won’t be as easy as it was in the beginning.

“That’s when your huge plateaus happen.”

That’s a natural hurdle any blogger, in any industry, comes across sooner or later. But there were other obstacles that came clear out of nowhere that hit the bride blogging industry especially hard.

Read More on Canva

Content Marketing

Ross Simmond’s guide to getting content noticed (ft. @TheCoolestCool)

Digital marketing strategist and entrepreneur Ross Simmonds explains how to use content to rise above the competition, deliver tangible results, go viral (even if your industry is boring), and impact the world in a larger, positive way.

It’s safe to say Ross Simmonds does not sleep.

Ross runs three businesses, all of which are related to content. There’s Foundation Marketing, a consulting business for B2B brands that creates and implements content strategies. Then there’s Hustle & Grind, an e-commerce business selling T-shirts, art, coffee mugs and even coffee grinds, all targeted at a thriving community of more than 100,000 entrepreneurial followers on Instagram. And then there’s GetCrate.co, a content curation and social media management service Ross co-founded that delivers relevant articles primed and ready for social sharing.

And we’re not even counting RossSimmonds.com – Ross’s personal website and blog where he shares insights on marketing, entrepreneurship, and cold, hard hustling. He’s like a machine that turns caffeine into content, and content into profit.

He’s come a long way from a self professed “geek playing video games,” who went to university and paid more attention to his fantasy football blog than Shakespeare.

“In my English classes, I’d write about what was happening in sports—on my fantasy football blog. That got on the radar of some significant media outlets. All of a sudden, I was reaching thousands of people all over the world, giving advice on fantasy football when I was 19 and 20. I was writing content every day, paying for a chunk of my tuition that way, and it taught me how to sell products and ad space.”

But then his grades dropped, and Ross’s mom was having none of it.

“My mom made me shut down my blog.”

This turned into a silver lining, inspiring Ross to shift his focus to “marketing and blogging about marketing. And that took off and became my career.”

In this interview, Ross talks about the business side of content, how to use it to rise above the competition, deliver tangible results, go viral (even if your industry is boring), and impact the world in a larger, positive way.

You might need to refill your coffee mug before reading on…

Read More on Canva
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Content Marketing, Customer Success, Language-Market Fit, Podcasts, Product Management, SaaS

Aligning Content and Product to Empower Your Teams and Customers [Podcast]

99% of the time, success isn’t found within your product – it’s outside in the real world.

Listen in to learn all about:

  • Why aligning content marketing and product management matters for the health and longevity of a SaaS business
  • The “product death cycle
  • What defines your ideal customer and where this definition stands compared to a marketing persona
  • The best ways to get feedback from your ideal customers and the technique of forming questions for them
  • The concept of the success gap by Lincoln Murphy and desired outcome, with examples from retail and SaaS
  • How content marketing plays a role in filling the success gap
  • The value of retaining versus acquiring new customers and why it’s okay to not know immediately who your ideal customer is
  • What it is you need to teach your customers that isn’t how to use your product
  • Why retained customers are valuable and how they lower the cost of acquiring new customers
  • How to find the language-market fit both if you’re just starting out and if you’ve been active for a while

Read More on Marijana Kay’s site
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Content Marketing, SaaS, Startups, Teams

5 Brands Share Their Content Marketing Process ft. @Buffer, @AdEspresso, @CoSchedule, @Mention, @Hotjar

It’s a hazard of the job for content marketers. When you read or see a piece of high-quality content, you wonder how it got created. You ask yourself, “What does this company do to create great content? Is it great for business too?”

The simple answer is high-quality content serves both audience and business. “It’s written in such an energetic and engaging way that it will trigger the audience to take actions,” says Massimo Chieruzzi, CEO of AdEspresso.

If great content is written in an engaging way it will trigger the audience to take action. Click To Tweet

Nathan Ellering, head of demand generation at CoSchedule, says high-quality content is synonymous with highest-performing content. At his firm, that content includes five distinct characteristics: great topic, well-researched, optimized for search engines, comprehensive plus actionable, and optimized to capture leads.

High-quality content is synonymous with highest-performing content. Click To Tweet

Quality content is “powerful enough to stop people in their tracks, make them think, and debate with themselves or others. It is user-centric, capable of solving a user’s most painful challenges,” according to Hotjar’s Louis Grenier and Fio Dossetto.

Quality content is capable of solving a user's most painful challenges. Click To Tweet

Content marketing strategists from these three brands plus two more willingly shared how they ideate, strategize, and produce that high-quality content, and evaluate its success. Read on to get some tips and insight that you can incorporate into your content marketing process.

Read More on Content Marketing Institute
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Content Marketing, Customer Development, Customer Success, Diversity, Growth Hacking, Podcasts, Product Management, SaaS, Startups

#EveryoneHatesMarketers: 4 Vital Things To Do Before Marketing Your New Startup [Podcast]

“Today I’m joined by my guest Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, an esteemed SaaS consultant, customer service evangelist, writer and community moderator. Her work has been featured in leading industry media such as HubSpot, Moz, Copy Hackers, Forbes, Canva and more.

Nichole is going to walk us through the four things you need to do before you can start marketing your startup or new business. Founders tend to skip the basics of marketing foundations, and this crucial step can make or break your business. Listen in for Nichole’s four most important pre-marketing initiatives that you need to know for your startup or to refresh the marketing of an existing business.”

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • The importance of marketing foundations
  • Growth hacking pitfalls
  • Customer development work
  • Resources to identify ideal customers
  • Creating your first value proposition
  • Filling success gaps
  • Recommended reading

Transcript on Everyone Hates Marketers


Take the growth out of guesswork and get our Playbook to Grow Your Saas Business With Your Customers.

Community, Content Marketing, Curation, Guest Posts, Tools

Six Underrated Ways For Startups To Curate Great Content by @TheCoolestCool

One of the keys to great content marketing is the ability to curate great content. Click To Tweet

There are myriad approaches to content curation, from leveraging Facebook and Twitter to using tools created specifically for content curation. Some strategies, like trolling your LinkedIn feed, are old hat; others are still relatively unknown and underrated.

Let’s fix that. I’ve taken the time to write up six underrated ways for your startup to curate great content that your competition is likely ignoring.

But first…

I want to ensure that you understand the role of content curation and what it means. In my ultimate guide to content curation I describe the process as follows:

“Content curation is the act of finding information and resources that your audience would find value in and sharing it through appropriate marketing channels.”

The important thing to note about curation is that it is not content creation. (I’ve also written an article that outlines the differences between curation and creation and why both play important roles in the content marketing mix.)

You see, content creation is like the role of an artist, while content curation is like the role of an art gallery—one creates the art, the other determines which pieces to display. This difference often leads startups to undervalue content curation when in reality it can play just as big a role in driving results.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… Let’s talk about some of those underrated content curation ideas that could give you an edge over the competition:

Finesse Your Facebook Searches

Facebook is a staple in content curation, with thousands of content marketers flocking to the site to find hot topics and trending articles in their industries. But you can optimize your curation process by making a tiny tweak to the way you search for content.

How so?

Instead of doing a Facebook search and browsing the first results that pop up, do your search and then click “Links” at the top:

It’s as simple as that. By finessing your search, you’ll get results from relevant, share-worthy sources instead of photos and memes. In the example above, I searched for Bitcoin-related content and sorted the results by Links rather than People, Posts, Videos or Pages. As a result, I got articles from top sites like Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal.

Some marketers undervalue Facebook search, but I’m a believer that it could eventually give Google and Bing a run for their money. But that’s a topic for another blog post. 😉

Search Hot Topics On Reddit

Reddit has always been the ugly duckling of the content curation world—and the marketing world as a whole. The site can be confusing at first, and there are a lot of incorrect assumptions flying around about its marketing potential.

But when used correctly, Reddit can give you the edge on your competition. You see, most people think Reddit is simply a place to upload a handful of memes, submit links to their website, run a few ads, and hope you’ll be successful. In reality, the world of Reddit marketing is a lot more complex.

For starters, Redditors hate marketing. As a Redditor myself, I can tell you that I’m 100% with the folks who hate marketing, because most marketers who use Reddit to promote their brands do so really, really badly.

Which is why I’m a huge advocate of two simple steps when it comes to curation:

  1. Understand the community’s interests
  2. Look for content that is on the rise or already popular

To start this process, visit a subreddit and sort the content by top posts, which will help you understand what your audience wants. For example, if you dive into the subreddit /r/Futurology and sort by top posts, you’ll see this:

Now, ignoring the ad at the top, those first three posts are quite interesting if you want to connect with people who are passionate about the future. To me, these results present three obvious opportunities: (1) share these exact articles, (2) visit their source websites (Vox, Inverse) to find more content worth sharing, and (3) look for articles on these topics and brands (clearly Google should be on your radar).

Another way to leverage Reddit as a curation source is to ask Redditors straight up: Where do you find your best content? What are the best newsletters for someone interested in XYZ to subscribe to? Podcasts? Blogs? You get the idea… You might be surprised how helpful communities are to people simply looking for resources.

Subscribe To Industry Newsletters

Just like a magazine subscription, an industry newsletter subscription delivers niche content straight to your inbox. Once you’ve subscribed to a number of newsletters that are relevant to you and your audience, you’ll be regularly receiving articles to share on your social networks.

The key to leveraging industry newsletters as a content curation tactic is finding a few that aren’t necessarily subscribed to by the masses. Look for industry newsletters with fewer than 1,000 subscribers so there’s less of a chance that your audience is already receiving their content.  

Use Existing Content Curation Tools

Content curation tools have recently blown up, and rightfully so. These tools make it 10 times easier to discover and distribute content that your audience would find interesting.

Tools like Crate allow you to find and share content within minutes. By uploading a handful of relevant keywords, you’ll get a feed filled with content to add to your Buffer queue or send out in a newsletter.

Scoop.it is another great curation tool that you can use to quickly and effectively curate your content. Scoop.it is a free site where users can gather information about any topic they want—think Pinterest, but for industry professionals.

Want more? Here’s a list of my favorite content curation tools for your curation toolkit.

Find Goodreads in Slack Communities

Slack communities are filled with passionate people discussing everything from the latest tech to last night’s football game. That means these communities are a great place to find interesting content on just about any topic.

In many Slack communities, there’s a channel dedicated solely to goodreads, making it easy for you to find content worth sharing on your own networks. To take it a step further, some communities even have channels where members are asked to share their content. While this isn’t a thing in all communities, if you can find one where people are encouraged to #ShamelessPlug, why not leverage this opportunity to find content for sharing—and to share your own content?

Dive Into Your Niche In Industry Forums & Communities

Yes, I know that forums and online bulletin boards are straight out of the ’90s, but I’m here to tell you that they are just as relevant today as they were back then. In fact, it’s possible that they’re even more relevant now—because they are more focused.

Passionate people talking about their passions with other passionate people. That’s the best and only way to describe the current landscape of online industry forums.

As such, they’re gold mines for new content—after all, they are filled with people sharing content assets that they believe others LIKE THEM will find interesting.

So if you’re targeting chefs, why not join a forum for chefs and see what they’re sharing with one another? If you’re targeting small business owners, it only makes sense to join a small business forum and see what type of content they’re sharing.

If you want concrete examples, take a close look at Inbound, Designer News, Hacker News and GrowthHackers—all communities that marketers and startups often rely on to find interesting content. Here’s the rundown of what each site is all about:

And trust me when I say this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forums you can leverage for content curation.

Curation Isn’t Easy. But It Doesn’t Have To Be Draining.

Take this list of underrated content curation resources and go uncover some awesome content to share with your audience. Ideally, you’ll end up with a consistent stream of content that you can rely on month after month (and make your life easier!).

I know firsthand that content curation isn’t easy…that’s why I built Crate. I also know that content curation is one of those things you get better at the more you do it. So wherever you choose to troll for content, keep at it, and know that great content can come from anywhere.

On that note, I’d LOVE to hear your underrated sources for curating content! Did any of these help you, or do you know of a strategy that I might be overlooking?

Let me know in the comments or get in touch over Twitter.