How To Leverage Content That Will Take Your Brand To The Moon
Growth hacking content is not rocket science. You can just apply the following most common hacks to attract traffic to your content pages:
Identify the high-volume SEO keywords in your product domain.
Write 3–5 keywords-based articles per week.
Use the Skyscraper Technique to outrank your competitors.
Respond to relevant questions on Quora and post blog snippets on other relevant communities to build backlinks.
Nudge your colleagues to upvote your posts (from multiple accounts) in forums and communities every time you publish a new blog.
Promote your blogs by scheduling social media posts on Sundays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 9 am, and Thursdays between 12-2 pm — the most popular “me-time” for content consumers. Repurpose your content for podcasts, YouTube, SlideShare, or other leading content syndication platforms.
Apply “newsjacking” technique to earn explosive traffic to your blog site.
I have seen multiple content teams applying the above hacks to their content marketing strategy and succeed — albeit only for the short run. But I’m not going to recommend this to you because it’s a hamster treadmill that will tire you out soon and won’t lead you anywhere.
You picked up this blog because you want to build a successful brand. Among other valuable ideas that you will read about in other chapters of this blog, creating content for your brand is a critical and sustainable strategy to achieve that goal.
But there’s no shortcut to creating great content that is going to be a smashing overnight hit. Growth hacking content limits the scope of your content to SEO writing and shallow readership. It’s not a great way to build a monumental cathedral that lives on for hundreds of years.
If your brand is a cathedral you are building, each piece of content you produce is the perfectly-chiseled stone that gives shape and foundation to your brand’s edifice
In this Blog, I offer suggestions to replace the flash-in-the-pan content marketing hacks with a reliable seven-step strategy to amplify your brand’s growth.
Building a rock solid content strategy
A good content strategy requires you to follow a religious ritual of putting out great content that will earn you multiple benefits such as brand awareness, lead conversions, and continuous growth. Depending on where your brand is right now in your growth plan, you can apply the following tips to better strategize your content marketing:
1. Set hard goals
The reasons most brands create content is because:
They want to maintain their presence through blogging.
They think Google ranks new content higher.
It’s what everyone else is doing.
Look closer and you will see that it’s a very purposeless strategy to have. If you’re creating content for the sake of remaining an active brand, you will end up stockpiling an archive of lifeless content that will die a lonely death.
Set a high standard for your content strategy. Start by creating clear, measurable goals and timelines. It can also become to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for your brand if you articulate your goals in the most vivid details. For a bootstrapping startup, for example, your goals can read something like this:
“We want our blog to be read by 1,000,000 people by the end of 2022. We want 15 people to subscribe each week within the first two years and 150+ subscribers per week during the following two years.”
Your brand’s content should have a purpose, a meaning to live up to, a cause to rally for. Set goals that will keep your content team accountable.
Set a goal to earn a respectable blog subscription following within a realistic timeline.
Aim for meaningful traffic to your blogs from relevant demographics.
Hold your content team up against a variable lead quota every month.
2. Identify overarching themes
Every product represents a value or stands for some cause:
Slack is a team collaboration tool; their content extols the importance of workplace productivity.
General Electric is a technology conglomerate; they write blogs extensively on robotics, the global economy, and public policy.
Tom Bilyeu hosts Impact Theory, an interview series where he invites the world’s greatest achievers to talk about living a fulfilled life.
Your content should be a reflection of the belief that your products and services advocate. It should inspire thought-provoking ideas that align with your brand and communicates the vision you have for the world. Identifying the overarching themes for your content is more important than writing blog posts based on high-volume search keywords.
3. Hire the right copywriters people
It’s no secret that great content teams are made up of great copywriters. But copywriters are generalists at best. Sometimes, you need to dig deep and find domain specialists who can become your brand ambassadors.
You need marketers that live and breathe your product or service and who are able to clearly communicate its value to the world. Look beyond hiring grammar gurus and punctuation pundits for your content team; hire passionate storytellers who can humanize your brand.
But what if you are bootstrapping and don’t have money lying around to hire a stellar content personality? Don’t worry. You can either identify in-house champions, such as one of the co-founders or the product managers, who are good at telling stories. On top of my head, two names that exemplify this strategy are Naval Ravikant (of AngelList) and Sahil Lavingia (of Gumroad).
I’ve seen this many times over in my 7+ years of content marketing profession: the best storytellers in an organization aren’t necessarily the writers; it’s usually the unsuspecting people in your business who understand the product ecosystem better than most. They are diamonds in the rough and their story and narrative can be great assets to your marketing team. They don’t necessarily have to bust their backs to “write” content full-time; they can dictate their ideas that trained copywriters can spin into marketable tales.
You can also partner with emerging experts in your field who can represent your ideas and give them the bully pulpit to speak on topics closer to your brand. It’s a mutual win for both parties.
4. Stick to your niche
A common trap most businesses fall for on their path to growth is the temptation to be the next Procter & Gamble. But unlike trying to sell the sundry consumer goods, your content should cater specifically to your niche audience. Build your buyer persona and stick to content that they want to read.
Resist the temptation to make love to the entire world. When you try to offer something to everyone, your content becomes a reference blog rather than a reliable source of information.
Here’s a simple example to drive this point home. The US has over 7,000 magazines published every year. These magazines cater to more than 36 different demographics. Thousands of these publications compete for the same audience because of their overlapping interests. The majority of them run on profits; they are constantly looking for ways to expand their digital footprint and maximize revenue.
The magazines share the profit pie even in such a competitive space because they specialize in writing for their targeted audience. The editors of Elle are better off nurturing their readers for a three-year magazine subscription rather than trying to convert The Chronicle readers because of how alien the interests of the latter group are.
Apply the same principle to your content strategy and you will ensure a steep growth in readership and traffic within the first few months of your strategizing. Make your content special for one demography; don’t make it an assorted library of miscellaneous for everyone walking on the street.
5. Set an infallible cadence
Your content is your brand’s mouthpiece. Once you pick the proverbial bullhorn and start speaking to your audience, you have to live up to their expectations. Being erratic in your publication schedule breaches an unspoken promise and makes your business look frivolous.
Create a realistic content calendar and stay true to your schedule without fail. Don’t fall for the myth that says you have to publish 30 content pieces per month. Do what’s within your means and give it depth. But deliver on the promise of consistency and quality.
Every content out there in the online world is vying for an average person’s attention, like Tinder matches. Most of your audience have a 4X3 mobile screen and a few fleeting seconds to decide which content to consume and which ones to skip. In essence, your content is competing against the high-flying suitors such as The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, and The Huffington Post. If your content doesn’t catch your audience’s fancy or is not up to the mark, they will left-swipe your content to oblivion, so to speak.
To avoid this from happening, produce the most riveting, evergreen content in the industry and do so as a brand ritual. Setting a cadence to your content creation and distribution lets your audience anchor on to your brand stories amidst the overwhelming content noise.
6. Build a content funnel
A big question that your brand and content creators should ask is — how is content going to help your business grow? The simple answer is, once you have all the moving parts in place, it’s pretty easy to attract leads and improve sales. Tactically speaking, you need to create a content funnel to convert leads.
Write meaningful content that strikes a chord with customers who are at different stages of the buying journey. Get help from SEO experts; they can break down the long-tail search keywords that consumers are looking for so that you can address these search queries in your content.
You can also funnel your content pieces so your audience can discover posts that are relevant to them. HubSpot does it wonderfully for almost every major topic related to marketing. Just type any marketing-related keyword into Google and you’ll likely find a HubSpot blog post written about it.
7. Double down on distribution
Nothing can compensate for bad content — not even the greatest marketing gimmicks. However, most brands fail in their content marketing not because they have bad content but because they lack a good distribution strategy. A well-thought-out promotion strategy is the best bedfellow for a great quality content.
The best way to promote your content is to build an email list of subscribers and notify them every time you put out a new piece of content. Don’t believe anyone who says email is dead. It’s still the most effective way to grow your community.
Let’s look at a simple example to understand the power of email in the content distribution process.
With more than 200 million downloads out of just 350 episodes for the Tim Ferriss Show podcast, Tim is the undisputed Oprah of Audio. His blog, which existed before he began his podcast journey, gets over a million visitors every month. For most individual brands, that’s a lucrative empire that they can live off of forever. But Tim doesn’t sit on his laurels. He knows that in today’s volatile economy, if you’re out of your readers’ sight, pretty soon you’re going to be out of their minds.
He has a subscription option for his blog to increase reader returns for the new content he puts out. On top of that, he heavily promotes 5-Bullet Friday, a weekly newsletter exclusive to the people who’ve subscribed to it.
His blog subscribers get notified about his latest podcast every time a new episode comes out. Similarly, the 5-Bullet Friday newsletter highlights and links to the latest podcast episode in every edition. This way, Tim not only attracts new readers to his blogs and podcasts, he retains them solely through email.
There are different channels that work effectively for different brands. Social media is a great way to promote your content, but it’s not for everyone. Tim Ferriss has more than 949,000 followers on Facebook and 1.59 million followers on Twitter. And yet, his social media engagement is tepid compared to his high-octane emails.
Identify what’s great for your brand and stick to that channel for marketing your content. Quora is great for making your content discoverable and getting more traffic to your blog. YouTube is the best when it comes to brand visibility. LinkedIn is effective for personal brand building but not so much for content marketing.
Every great process ends with monitoring and optimizing mechanism. Measure the performance of your content pieces with a tool such as Google Analytics to fix content gaps and refine your process. Monitor where most of your traffic comes from, which content pieces are doing well, how much time your readers spend on your pages, and so on. Emphasize your content production and distribution process based on these findings without getting too caught up in the vanity numbers.
Reach for the moon
Growth hacking is often a very misunderstood concept. Marketers nowadays abuse it to game the system or get short spurts of supposed growth. But there’s no genuine value in carrying out such cheap thrills, especially in content. Content is fundamentally a pillar of growth and you need to put in the required hard work to build that pillar. The true spirit of growth hacking lies in coming up with pragmatic ideas that go against the established norms.
In addition to the ideas outlined above, feel free to experiment with new ideas that come to mind. Don’t simply use the hacks and tricks that worked for others because what works for them may not work for you. There’s no one path to success; the world is your oyster to explore — chart your own course to success.