Full-Funnel Content: A Data-Driven Content Strategy For Humans | Stanley Idesis | Skillshare

Full-Funnel Content: A Data-Driven Content Strategy For Humans

Stanley Idesis, The Upfront Marketer

Full-Funnel Content: A Data-Driven Content Strategy For Humans

Stanley Idesis, The Upfront Marketer

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11 Lessons (54m)
    • 1. Introduction

      0:50
    • 2. Do I Need a Content Strategy?

      2:33
    • 3. Getting There is Half The Funnel

      4:46
    • 4. Top of The Funnel To Ya

      4:14
    • 5. Stuck in Mid-Funnel With You

      5:01
    • 6. Keep Me Posted

      5:50
    • 7. First Law of Promotion

      6:48
    • 8. Desperate Measurements

      9:03
    • 9. B2C Case Study: Imperfect Produce

      5:43
    • 10. B2B Case Study: Mailchimp

      5:17
    • 11. What Next?

      3:26
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About This Class

If you’ve ever sat down to create a content strategy, you probably came face-to-face with a calendar. Empty, numbered squares demanded you fill them with titles for blogs, infographics, videos, presentations, and podcasts.

After hours of bouncing ideas around, you lined up the authors, settled the titles, and most importantly: filled those desperate little squares. You breathe easy, the square-filling-gods accepted your sacrifice… for now.

But why perform this ritual at all? Why do the squares need filling, the posts need publishing, the videos need editing, the titles need crafting?

Too often, brands treat content like a product; a product that requires a release schedule, frequent updates, timely arrivals, and a bevy of requirements. This environment of make-work marketing keeps us busy and checks off ‘necessary’ boxes. But does that content attract new leads? Does it build our brand? Does it do anything other than satisfy our need to feel productive? If you’re reading this, then your answer is probably, ‘I have no clue.’

I want you to stop thinking about content like a product, and start seeing it as a plant; a plant whose seed you bury, water, and grow into part of your brand ecosystem. And just like a real ecosystem, your brand requires a variety of plants to perform different functions: grow food, release oxygen, and support native wildlife.

The functions we need our content plants to perform include attracting new customers, educating leads, and nurturing their relationship with us long after their first purchase. And if plants are content, then this course will teach you to garden.

Okay, enough plant analogies because you’re smart and my analogy is a B- at best. During this course, you will discover a system that helps you create content with a purpose and determine whether your content fulfills its purpose.

I break content strategy down into a marketing funnel where three types of content coexist:

  • Top-funnel: attracts brand new prospects to your business
  • Mid-funnel: teaches customers about your brand, products, services, and encourages them to convert to paying customers
  • And Post-funnel: continuously improves the customer experience and builds their relationship with your brand

At each stage, you will learn to measure the return on your investment for every piece of content by looking to Google Analytics. Along the way, we will focus on how the three elements of the funnel differ between B2B and B2C organizations. For a closer look, we study the content strategy of B2B marketing giant, Mailchimp, and B2C Silicon Valley food-darling, Imperfect Produce.

What Is This Course

  • An engaging high-level overview of a data-driven content strategy
  • A brief introduction to Google Analytics, UTM.io, advanced Google search techniques, SEOQuake, and SEMRush
  • Case studies that help you understand and evaluate content strategies

And For Whom Is This Course

  • Marketers looking for a data-driven way to improve their content marketing
  • Small and medium-business owners who want to learn about content marketing and begin incorporating long-lasting, valuable content practices
  • and grammar nazis

Materials

  • Slides
    • This combined slide deck covers every lesson and includes clickable links
    • Free to access forever
  • Worksheet
    • This Google Doc will help you complete the homework and formulate your content plan as you watch the lessons

These materials require a Google Account with access to Google Drive, and both documents are read-only, please make a copy to your personal Google Drive by clicking File > Make a Copy...

Meet Your Teacher

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Stanley Idesis

The Upfront Marketer

Teacher

 Okay fine, 1% is recycling.

Think of all the celebrity clickbait gossip, the plagiarized AP news stories, the software developers blogging about moving a button 3 pixels to the left… almost always bad, almost always useless.

Content marketing is such a ubiquitous business tool now that everyone tries it, but few understand how it works and even fewer give it the attention it deserves.

After a couple blog posts and no new business, most content marketing efforts derail and turn their blogs into ghost towns. Or worse, they keep plugging away at it week after week to satisfy some imaginary quota while producing nothing but vapid, self-serving drivel.

I’m here to stop that nonsense.

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Skillshare. Have you ever stuffed an empty content calendar with Make work blogs and BS social media posts. I sure have and there's nothing worse. Except the whole bunch of stuff. Let's be real. But stuffing that content calendar is down there, right between throwing away a perfectly good dog and running out of toilet paper at Taco Bell. It's time we forgot about content calendars and forgot all about that work designed to keep us busy and it's time for a content strategy with a purpose. My name is Stanley Idesis, content marketer, developer and self-titled American sweetheart, three years running and I'm introducing my latest course, full final content, a data-driven content strategy that attracts customers, educates them, and nurtures them well after they've converted. If all that sounds pretty great to you, then guess what? Twinies, because it also sounds pretty great to me. 2. Do I Need a Content Strategy?: As business owners and marketers, we're super busy. Yeah, we know that content is important. But it's time-consuming and we're not really sure how it contributes to our bottom line. What's worse? Everyone's doing it. So to avoid looking like complete fools, every Friday we throw a 300 word blog post on social media before moving to more pressing tasks. But deep, deep down, we know that our silly Friday ritual has little, if any impact on our business and it's doing a far better job of calming our anxiety than building our brand. Fine, we need a content strategy. But where do we even start? Few people understand what a content strategy is and even fewer know where to go for good advice. Asking someone for help with content, often goes like this. I have no clue what to do with all this content we're producing. I don't even know if it's making a dent. Are you already on Facebook? Yeah, of course. Twitter? Nope. Linkedin? Tumblr? Do we have to be on every single one of them? Tumblr? Are you listening to me? Twitter. I haven't even heard of that. [inaudible]. None of these are things, are they? Grindr? I think we're on that one To figure it out for myself, I studied content marketing to learn how it works and why. To no one's surprise at all, the digital age has made it difficult for brands to reach customers with traditional media. So instead of continuing to rely on TV, radio, billboards and magazines, brands have turned to content to achieve three key marketing goals. Content is now frequently responsible for attracting, educating and nurturing customers. These goals combined form a funnel and build customer relationships precisely where the world of customers appear more frequently every day on the web and on social media. Brands can introduce themselves to customers with top funnel content, educate them in the middle and improve their experience in post. For us to do likewise, we need a clear idea of what to produce, how to promote it and because it's pretty much all digital, how to measure the return on our investment and that's what this course is all about. Whether you're a B_2B, B_2C, online, brick-and-mortar, just starting out or well established, at the end of this course, you'll have the makings of a content strategy that attracts new customers to your business, teaches them about your services and grows their brand relationship after they've converted. You'll also learn how and what to track to make sure you're getting the most out of your content. If you're ready to stop guessing and start validating, meet me in lesson 2 where we'll take a closer look at the content funnel. 3. Getting There is Half The Funnel: Are you ready to have a whole bunch of fun? No. Sorry, I'm contractually obligated to make that joke. But you know what isn't a joke, funnels. We're going to talk a lot about them in this course. However, this courses definition of a funnel might differ from those of other marketers. To prevent any misunderstanding, we're going to redefine it really quick. Our funnel breaks down into three parts. Top, middle, and post. At the top, we use content to introduce our brand to new prospects, people who have never heard of us. This content directs interested readers to the next part of the funnel. In the middle, our content is about our business, products, services, and works to educate and inform the purchase decision. Once visitors convert to customers, they move into post funnel. In post funnel, we nurture relationships with existing customers by providing helpful, delightful content that improves their experience and inspires repeat business. As it relates to content, that's our entire funnel. Our content strategy is designed to move people from one end to the other. Now you may be wondering, does this funnel look different for B2B organizations than it does for B2C? The answer, of course is yes. Let's take a look at how the strategy might differ based on our business model. At the top, the biggest difference is likely the target distribution platform. Businesses looking for help are likely turning to search engines. They're trying to solve a problem, save money, or improve a process. Whereas consumers generally discover products from friends via referral or through social media via shares or advertisements. This is not a hard and fast difference, but serves as a good rule of thumb. In the middle, businesses will likely need to see a lot more content here than the average consumer. The middle serves to educate and convince businesses that they're making the right choice by going with us. Whereas low cost or free consumer facing products have less to explain. Consumers use their gut more often to make purchases than their business counterparts. Again, not always true across the spectrum, but a good general rule of thumb. Lastly, after they've converted, nurturing a consumer and a business are similar tasks, but require different approaches. If our customer is a consumer, we generally only nurture one person, the one that bought our thingy. But if we're serving a business, we have to nurture not only the stakeholder that committed to our product, but any person in their organization affected by that decision. I hate repeating myself, so I won't say it. But you know that I would have said something about hardness, fastest, rules and the thumb would be involved. Before we close out our funnel talk, let's quickly go over what ideal content looks like. I believe that all content should be honest and either helpful, entertaining, or both. Here's why? Like our ads, employees, products, and customer service representatives, our content marketing is a reflection of our brand and our values. By bragging, beating down competitors, pushing false claims and hustling sales, we put out a very standard distant, cold corporate image of ourselves. But by doing the opposite, we have a chance to build trust and an audience that realizes we're just people with flaws of our own, imperfect, but trying our best. Most brands, even small ones, are too afraid to admit to flaws, that they suffer from problems or that they even have a single competitor. For example, when was the last time you heard a Wireless Carrier admit that their coverage was less than the best or a car company that lists the awards that their four door sedan didn't win last year? In my opinion, these brands distance themselves from everything that's human about them. We begin to see them less as a collection of people making a product, and more as a towering, faceless, God-like entity. But even they make mistakes. Usually when they do, the result is a lot of lost revenue and more importantly, loss of trust. We don't have to look too far into the past for examples of that. Let's quickly recap. Our funnel has a top, a middle, and a bottom. The top is made of content that appeals to our target audience and introduces us to new people. The middle educates and promotes our brand and products. It helps us seal the deal. The post is where we nurture existing customers to build that relationship and inspire upsales and repeat business. All of our content has the opportunity to present our brand as human and relatable by remaining honest, humble, useful, entertaining, and ideally all of the above. Your homework, if you choose to accept it. Take stock of your existing content by answering the short questions in your worksheet. This assignment may force you to acknowledge some painful truths about your content. But don't worry, we're here to fix all the things. Fill out the sheet and continue with the next lesson when you're ready or skip straight ahead and come back to it later. That's what I would probably do. 4. Top of The Funnel To Ya: We took a bird's eye view of the Funnel in the previous lesson. Now we're going to zoom in for a closer look at the Top. Top-Funnel content or ToFu has three primary goals, reach our target audience, offer a memorable introduction, and inspire the reader to take action. Let's study each goal in a bit more detail. As noted in the previous lesson, B2B should focus on providing quality content discoverable by search engine. It is through search that our B2B content will find its way to future customers. These prospects often find our content in a moment of struggle and desperation. They're facing a problem, grappling with a vendor, or looking for some way to cut costs so they punch their search into Google and that's where they meet us. Providing a solution to their problem in this moment is called Pain-Point SEO, a term coined by Benji Hyam. Through a combination of keyword research and content templating, we can design content that provides meaningful answers to these questions. Our content might look like top 5 alternatives to X, X being that thing that they totally hate right now, or how to choose the best Y, because their current Y has had them on hold for 45 minutes. To learn more about Pain-Point SEO, read this post by Benji. To learn how to perform keyword research, the science of studying what people search for, checkout these great resources. Oh, look who made the list. On the B2C side of things, rather than seek new products out, consumers generally discover them by chance. We hear about new shows, services and doodads from our friends, loved ones, and yes, social media. When targeting consumers, we want to provide helpful, highly sharable content that gets people excited and talking. For a great example of ToFu content that just so happened to work on me, checkout Justin Jackson's piece titled, "I Wasted 4 Years of My Life Doing This." I've come to learn that people love to share things that makes them, the sharer, look good to the recipients. By sharing that thing, we inspire the recipient to learn something new or seethe with rage or laugh monotonically or go, "Oh, but it's a little kitty." No one has better insight into what people share than Jonah Berger. I highly recommend his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On, for an entertaining look into what inspires us to share. The second goal of Top-Funnel content is to provide a memorable introduction to our brand. This goes for both B2B and B2C businesses. To leave a good first impression, providing help and entertainment is not always enough, quality Top-Funnel content is also well-written, free of errors, conclusive, and most importantly, limited in self-promotion. Readers understand that businesses have to hustle and make the sale, but just like dating, trying to seal the deal too early puts most people off, even if they're genuinely interested in what we have to offer. In short, let's keep it in our pants. Finally, our last goal at the top is to inspire readers to take an action, even if it's really small. If the content is on our site, then recommending another post or linking to the homepage is enough. It's just one page load away. But if we're posting on social media, our content can nudge users to perform an even smaller action, such as liking, sharing or tagging their friends in a comment. Remember, asking them to sign up, buy now, is often too big a leap for first timers, but by asking them to perform a small action, we're using the foot-in-the-door technique to build their trust and a relationship with our brand. But just in case, we leave a link to our homepage for those oh, so curious viewers. Let's recap. Top-Funnel content has three primary goals; reach your target audience either through social media, search or both, provide a memorable first impression through quality, candor, and limited self-promotion, and gently direct readers to take a small action. B2Bs should prioritize Pain-Point SEO and keyword research to discover how to meet searchers on Google. B2Cs should look for opportunities to create highly sharable quality content that relates to their target audience. Here's your next assignment. In your worksheet, answer the questions to discover potential Top-Funnel content opportunities. These are only meant to give you a high level idea of what you can produce. I encourage you to deepen your brainstorm. Finally, share your best ideas with the class. I'll see you at lesson 4. I mean, not really see you. I can't see you. That'd be weird, creepy. 5. Stuck in Mid-Funnel With You: Are these titles winning you over yet? If not, don't worry, your disapproval is exactly like my father's, he fuels everything I do. In this lesson, we're going to take an obvious next step forward by looking at the middle-funnel or MiFu. This is the content that educates prospects on how to make the best use of our products and services. Most brands already produce middle funnel content, but some brands treat the middle as if it belongs on the top, and that's a common tactical error. Companies may love their product and really believe in what they do. But their first time readers, how do I put this gently? Don't. These brands produce and promote self-centered content to complete strangers, which consumes a lot of time and requires significant resources, hard work that is rightfully rewarded by, one like from their mom. If our brand is still establishing itself and its audience, treating middle funnel content like a prime cut of top funnel content steak, is just so wrong. MiFu was designed to help sell our product to those already curious about us and the value we may offer them. As mentioned earlier, middle funnel content can take the form of text tutorials, how-to guides, and more. How much more? Here's a pretty good list to get us started. Online courses, case studies, white papers, documentation, landing pages, e-books, podcasts, slide shares, webinars, studies, and that's just off the top my head, and most of these merely require writing skills or access to a high-quality writer. But besides its purpose, the other thing that separates middle funnel content from the rest is the CTA or call to action. A call to action is any element either incorporated or in addition to the content that gives the reader an opportunity to make a commitment, and the commitment is the reader signing up for our newsletter, scheduling a call with a sales rep creating a free account starting in paid subscription, or completing a purchase. In a future lesson, we're going to learn how to optimize our content strategy to encourage these commitments. Now there's a million ways to add CTAs to our content, but I recommend we follow these guiding principles. If We only have room for one CTA, we place it at the bottom or toward the end. Have you ever heard someone say, "I love the part of last night's episode when they interrupted the show to let loud attractive people, sell me things for six whole minutes." Now, because no one has ever said that we don't watch TV for the commercials and our readers don't read our content for the calls to action, we must keep content, the focus of content, and CTAs should clearly stand out from that content. Let's not get into the business of tricking readers into clicking. Their commitment is that much more powerful when they make it willingly. So that's middle funnel and there's absolutely no difference between B2B and B2C middle, there seems to be a slide here, let me just read this real quick. When targeting consumers, the middle funnel is far less important than the top and post, case and point, if we run a restaurant, will our customers jump at the bit to read, "Our food eases that gurgling sound coming from your abdomen." No, they pretty much know how eating works. Or if we produce a well understood product like a vacuum cleaner, our time is better spent highlighting its unique features, rather than teaching people how to press an on switch, hold, a handle, and walk. However, if we offer something in a class of its own that is otherwise brand new to mainstream consumers. Tutorials and Frequently Asked Questions can go a long way, to educating interested readers. On the B2B side, the middle funnel is far more critical. Readers use this middle funnel content to arm themselves with the evidence they need to support a huge decision. In B2B transactions, the amounts can become staggering in size and undoing a poor decision at this level can be equally costly if not insurmountable. Our middle funnel content needs to justify that commitment and not only to the initial stake holder, but to all gatekeepers within the organization. This often requires us to create instructive content directed at employees that may not hold the keys to the shop, but who end up using the tools that we plan to put in it. Let's recap. Middle funnel content is what educates interested prospects in our brand. It teaches them what we do, how we do it, why we do it. If we're just establishing our brand, we should avoid promoting our middle funnel content to people who've never heard of us. Middle funnel content also comes pre-loaded with at least one call to action and opportunity for the reader to make a commitment. B2C organizations with established business models should lower their priority for MiFu content, their customers typically understand how their products work. Conversely, B2B organizations should deprioritize the top in favor of the middle. This is the content that readers need to convince their bosses and colleagues to commit. Your homework contenteers. I don't know why I went there, but I did. Generate some middle funnel content ideas by completing the corresponding section in the worksheet. Put yourself in your customers shoes. What kind of information would you need to know before committing to your brand? 6. Keep Me Posted: Our top funnel content brought them in, and our middle funnel content sold them, so we're done. So wrong. Repeat customers spend more, refer more and are easier to upsell than new customers. Them are the facts and post-funnel contents such as product updates, helpful tips, inspirational information, and others help keep customers engaged. That means that this part of the funnel is arguably the most profitable element of our content strategy, but it often goes ignored. Ignoring these readers appears even more foolish., when we learned that it's far more difficult to convert prospects than it is to please existing customers. Our customers probably like our products and our brand, or they've at least committed to us. While prospects play, hide and seek, we know exactly where to find our customers. Right there, look there's one right there. They require far less marketing possess. We can talk to them like people. Because of that, I'm about to suggest something radical. Blogs should be for customers, no one else, period. I believe the majority of modern brands have blogs that suffer from too many cooks. That's when everyone in the organization wants to throw something on the company blog and it becomes a Frankenstein monster of product updates, SEO focused articles and random stories from the back office. In a word, noise, but our customers deserve signal. By limiting our blog to customer centric, post-funnel content, we increase the signal to noise ratio, clarify the blogs purpose to everyone, remove the pressure to push newsletter subscriptions, and provide a guaranteed place for customers to source valuable information. The alternative is a free for all posting battle ground where written tones, personal agendas and egos fight it out, and no matter who wins, customers lose. Whereas a consistent blog agenda allows us to write from a single voice of familiarity. No need to reintroduce ourselves every time we publish. Occasional blog content will accidentally double as top or middle funnel. But unless the blog is our business, there is no reason for it to contain the meat of our marketing. Which brings us to my next radical belief. Most newsletters, they're trash. Small and large businesses alike follow the monkey see monkey do response of creating a newsletter because everyone else is doing it. The result is petabytes of E-mail that the world neither desires nor requires. Unless our product is a newsletter or the news, we should limit these types of E-mails exclusively to customers for several reasons. Our customers, our fans. They're far more likely to find the content interesting. By segmenting the newsletter, we'd better understand its audience and can speak to that audience more directly. Doing so, removes the pressure to deliver the newsletter as a consistently generating tool. For a lead nurturing E-mail strategy that actually works, check out drip campaigns. But blogs and newsletters are not the only methods for post-funnel content delivery. Some of the best POFU leaves IRL, yes, in real life. Fewer brands do it, and that's what makes printed material truly stand out in customers minds. A recent example in my life came from GEICO Insurance. They sent me a paper fortune teller in the mail complete with assembly instructions. This through me nostalgically back into childhood, gave me a laugh, consumed about 15 minutes of my time, and sparked a conversation with my best friend. How often does a blog post achieve that? GEICO has spent millions placing radio and TV ads in front of me. But this 50 cent mailer is the one piece of marketing I might actually remember. Now as you've come to expect, we have to discuss the differences between B2Bs and B2Cs when it comes to post-funnel. Like the middle post-funnel is critical for B2Bs. Our post-funnel content must reaffirm our customers decision to buy. Unlike middle funnel, that means we have to target the stakeholders and everyone at the business affected by our product. One way to achieve this is by creating blog categories that serve specific roles, such as sea level extracts, product people, sales, and others. We focus on content that helps them make the most use of our product and improve their experience. For B2Cs, post-funnel targets fewer people, but presents new challenges. If we offer a subscription service or product over the Internet, we have a direct line to consumers that gives us context for repeat communication. Content like newsletters or something included with our shipment. However, if we sell a physical product in the real world, we can suffer from a disconnect. Ideally, our physical products come with a piece of sticky content. That's something that the customer may decide to hang onto, rather than toss out with the packaging. We'll see an example of this in our B2C case study. But in general, post-funnel content directed at consumers has the same purpose as it does for business, increase the value customers receive from the product and build a deeper relationship with the brand. Recap time. Winning new business is hard, inspiring repeat business is not as hard. Post funnel helps us do just that. Blogs are often overstuffed by authors with competing agendas. We make the daring choice to focus the blog on our existing customers. Newsletters are often poor lead nurturing tools, so they too are best suited for our fans. B2Bs need to target stakeholders and all those in the organization impacted by their product, which they can do by segmenting their POFU into relevant channels. B2Cs have fewer stakeholders, but those who sell physical products and stores will have to work a bit harder to keep a dialogue going between them and their shoppers. Homework? Yes, more content ideas, this time for your existing and future customers. Use the worksheet to drum up ideas that can upsell, delight or nurture the relationship between you and your fans. If you're unsure of an idea, share with other students and see where the conversation goes. 7. First Law of Promotion: Is everything worth promoting? In this lesson, we'll answer that question and discover where and how to promote our content. I believe brands should exclusively promote top funnel content. Here's why, if you recall, the middle funnel is all about us and what we do, promoting that stuff is basically like running an ad campaign and that's a whole another bag of tricks. Post-funnel content is directed at existing customers. We already know where and how to reach those folks. What we need is our top funnel to reach the widest audience possible and that audience is comprised of people who've never heard of us. If we're going to promote anything, it's going to be those shiny top-funnel pieces we put so much hard work into. But how do we do that? The list of content promotion tactics goes from here to the moon. We're going to focus on two key techniques that can benefit anyone. Partnering with bloggers and reaching out to influencers. Before we can do either of those, we have to find those people. We're going to look at two great methods for discovering valuable partners, advanced Google search queries and backlink analysis. In this demo, we'll use entitle in URL and other advanced search parameters to find popular articles related to our business. For example, if I want to find someone blogging about coffee, one of my favorite pretentious subjects, I can search coffee blog and that's a good start. But if I want to increase my chances of finding actual post-second reference, I can tweak my search a bit using in URL. Most publications include the date or the word blog in their URL's. We can ask Google to pull both using this expression. The pipe between the two is an or operator, meaning find one or the other or both. The parentheses surrounding them treats the expression as one search term. If I wanted to narrow to a specific topic, I can use the entitle parameter to require all results to have the following phrase in their title. My people, now wouldn't it be awesome if I could see how popular these blogs were and how many people shared these posts without ever leaving Google? If only there were away, woe is me. That's enough of that. I turn on my SEO quake extension, which I've connected to my free SEMrush account and check the following parameters. With this data and my search settings providing 100 results per page, I can sort based on the number of Facebook likes for example, to find the most successfully publicized pieces of content. Obviously, a human has to do the rest of the work, but a few basic tools dramatically simplify this task. Next, we're going to look at another way to find great promotion collaborators, backlinks. Backlink is fancy search engine marketing talk for a link to another page. Links such as those included by authors in the body of their content, send eager readers to new sites. Our goal is to find popular authors that link to content similar to ours. From there we can work to build a promotional partnership. Finding backlinks through Google used to be a cheap and free thing we could do, but now it's not. But by clicking one of these, we can launch a free SEMrush backlink analysis with some limitation. Here we can view which domains have linked to that URL. However, SEMrush limits the number of free daily reports we can run. But starting a trial is a great way to give their tools a test before making a bigger commitment. I personally find their services indispensible, but backlink checkers can tell us much about what's happening on social media. Thankfully, we can do this part completely for free. We visit Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others in our browser and simply paste the URL into the search box. Unfortunately, this technique only filters for public posts, but sometimes helps us discover influencers who shared the content. We jot these people down and move on to the next step. We have a list of people to reach out to, but what do we offer them? If our content is truly amazing, they might just link to it because they know their audience will love it but if it doesn't sell itself, we just might have to dig into our pocket books. If we have the budget, we can pay to have our content included with the blogs newsletter, for example, or we collaborate with the publisher to build a piece of sponsored content for their site that ultimately links back to our domain. The approach will vary depending on the partner, but ultimately we're looking for a way to piggyback off of an audience that includes people and our target market. On social media, we have to work a bit to rise above the noise most influencers deal with. Just imagine their notification count. Finding a direct line of communication such as a personal e-mail address, phone number or if they're really famous, PR rep, can help us begin a real dialogue. Then we can offer a sneak peek at the content before publication, ask their opinion, or ask for assistance with its creation. If we make it that far, the influencer will help share our content when it comes time to promote. I've personally used this tactic to launch a free Chrome extension, so I know it works. It just takes time and perseverance. One final thing, as always, there's a difference between that thing and this other thing. B2B vs B2C promotion is the difference between SEO and SML, social media optimization. With some exceptions, business professionals hop on social media to escape their work. Not to find it lurking between the latest political scandal and a video of cute puppies getting into trouble. As businesses serving other businesses, we should focus our promotional strategy on search results and industry publications where it leads actually go looking for answers and valuable information. On the B2C side, we prioritize social over search. Consumers are all over social media and so are their favorite brands. Join that discussion and provide great content for them to consume and share at their leisure. Recap. The only content we should actively promote is that of our top funnel. The middle funnel is for those already familiar with our brand and posters for existing customers. Therefore, top needs the most support. Our two key promotion strategies are blogger partnerships and influencer outreach. We can find bloggers using advanced search techniques and backlink analysis. We can find influencers using simple searches on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. It's homework time, and that means it's time to look about worksheet again. Lookup bloggers using advanced Google search techniques to help find authors that resonate with your target audience. Perform a backlink analysis of your existing content or that of your competitors using limited free to use tools like monitor backlinks are SEMrush and finally, use your existing content URLs or those of a competitor as search terms on social media. Build a list of profiles and groups that share the kind of content you plan to distribute. Use this list to build and grow your network of promoters for years to come. 8. Desperate Measurements: The key to any successful strategy is revision. If something isn't working, we need to change it and try something else. This kind of thinking comes to us from a lord of all people. "If you can't to measure it, you can't improve it." It is definitely how he said that, 100 percent. That's history. I've applied this to my fitness, my finances, and my marketing. It works. Our content strategy is no different. To improve it, we measure it. To measure, we're going to use Google Analytics. This ubiquitous marketing tool needs little introduction. In case you're unfamiliar, websites and mobile applications can recover a user metrics for free with Google Analytics. This plug-in anonymously gathers behavior data from every site visitor and tracks their journey. As marketers, we use Google Analytics to estimate sales, study the sources of traffic, and discover valuable user segments. Much more is possible with Google Analytics. I recommend these find sources if you wish to study in greater detail. How we gauge our strategy's success depends on which part of the funnel we focus, beginning with the top. A successful piece of top-funnel content exhibits the following metrics: It brings in a high volume of new users and a high volume of new users means our content is attracting a lot of new visitors to our site. Among those new users, an above average number of pages per session is critical. A high page per session counts suggests that our content is reaching our target audience and they're browsing our site for more information, exactly what we hoped they would do. We can find this data in the Landing Pages Report by adding Google's predefined new users segment and filtering for top-funnel content pages. Not all of our top-funnel content ends up on our website, there's also the kind that lives somewhere else. Like on another blog, a sub-domain, a social media platform, or on a site like Medium.com. We need a way to track the success of those pieces as well. That's where UTMs come in. UTMs, Urchin Tracking Modules, are pieces of data that one can find loitering behind the URL, helping brands track the success of their digital marketing efforts. When a visitor lands on our site by clicking a UTM link, all the data we slapped onto it appears in Google Analytics. The supported parameters are campaign, Medium, source, term, and content. Beware, these parameters have no strict requirements. Marketers can use them in an infinite number of ways. So set some rules and stick to them or the time you spend evaluating your top-funnel will also be infinite. Here's my strategy for UTMs. Feel free to make it your own. Make everything lowercase and use hyphens instead of spaces. This makes every field consistent and easy to filter later on. I use the campaign field to identify the piece of top-funnel content. For example, five alternatives to brushing your teeth. There's way more than five, just do your research if it's worth it. Medium is a great place to record how I presented the link, which could be an image, a text link, a banner, or a social media post on a slide, etc. I placed the location of the link within Source. Typically the name of the platforms are something like newsletter. If the link went out through one. I generally skip Term, but we can use it as a way to identify variants. For example, if I plan to re-post something on social media and wish to discover which of the posts earns more traffic, I tag the first with the letter, A, for example, and the second with the letter, B. I use Content to jot down the text used in a link, such as click here or try free, to help evaluate the results of an experiment or just for quick reference. My favorite way of creating these links is with UTM.io. They store them for reference and help keep every team member on the same page. Finally, we can determine how many visitors this offsite content brought to our site and other valuable data by filtering for specific UTMs in the all campaigns report. Unfortunately, the external site is responsible for tracking how many visitors read the content. Unless they provide that information, the volume metric is just out of our reach. In the middle-funnel, we want to optimize a different set of metrics. Remember, middle-funnel content is not designed to drive traffic, but rather to inspire conversions and commitment. The success of a middle-funnel piece is determined by its page value. Page value is a monetary number based on two possible circumstances. In e-commerce, it is the average value in sales that our page contributed to. In all other cases, it's the average goal value achieved by users that visited this page along their path. Let's take a quick detour to discuss page value and goals in more detail. Google Analytics allows us to specify valuable user interactions as goals. For example, if our user reaches a specific page, clicks a sign up button or fills out a contact form, we can have Google monitor that event and track each occurrence as a goal completion. To each completion, we may assign a monetary value, say $100. Every page the user visits along their path to completing that goal, will take some cut of 100 bucks and Analytics presents that cut as page value. Our middle-funnel pages should have higher than average page values because these pieces contains CTAs or otherwise direct users to make a commitment. That's why it's critical to assign goals and goal values to these commitments on Google Analytics. Local businesses often make the common mistake of completely ignoring important user interactions. Sure, the reader often must enter the store before they can become a customer, but certain website actions indicate a strong intent to visit. Actions like clicking a phone number, directions to a store locations, scheduling an appointment, or making a reservation, show intent and are valuable to our business. So we should track them as goals. By doing so, we can determine whether our content inspires readers to make those commitments. Lastly, we need to measure the value of post-funnel content. This is where it gets a little hairy. If we have a purely digital relationship with customers, then we can use advanced segmenting and page value to determine the effectiveness of our post-funnel pieces. For example, we can use a custom variable to mark users as buyers or subscribers and then create a segment limited to that audience. We can then study the page values for post-funnel content among that segment to determine whether reading those pages led to additional commitments. There's some science here, of course, and a lot of ways to mug up the data. I'm afraid to say it's about to get wishier and a whole lot washier. So buckle up. For post-funnel content that only exists in real life, measuring its direct impact on our business is nearly impossible, but there is one way to do it that isn't a complete trash math. CLV, Customer Lifetime Value, is a figure that attempts to calculate the current and future profits rendered by a specific customer or subset of customers. There are many ways to calculate CLV and hopefully you already do. In case you don't, here's a great reference on CLVs and how to come up with them. If we're considering sending out a mailer to our customers and we want to know its effects, positive or negative, we can run an experiment. A random 10 percent of customers receive the mailer and the rest act as our control group. In a few months time, if the average CLV of recipients is about the same as the control group, we scrap the whole idea, but if we see a notable difference, we send that mailer to everyone. However, this is quite an arduous process. So I recommend that we hire someone with a background in statistical analysis to help us if we're truly committed to measuring the value of our printed post-funnel materials. Recap. If we can't measure it, we can't improve it. Successful top-funnel content brings in a high volume of valuable visitors. Offsite top-funnel content should feature links to our site with appropriate UTM parameters attached. Great middle-funnel has above average page values. Where page value is determined by the amount of sales or monetary conversions which the page contributed to. The success of digital post-funnel can be measured just like the middle-funnel, but discovering the value of our printed materials may require experimentation and CLV calculations. Homework. If you don't have Google Analytics enabled for your website, sign up and install it. If it's already there, gain access to it and assign goals to valuable interactions on your site. Not a complete nerd, is this all way over your head? Don't fear. You can hire a freelancer on Upwork or even reached out to me, a guy smart enough to write this course, but stupid enough to clean his keyboard by turning his mouth into a tiny vacuum. Yeah. I actually did that. I regret it every day. 9. B2C Case Study: Imperfect Produce: At this point, we know enough to evaluate our content marketing strategy for effectiveness. In this lesson, we're going to apply that skill to a business other than our own. Now, most businesses follow their own content strategy as should yours. But nearly all strategies fall under the framework laid out in this course, introduce, educate, convert, and nurture in one form or another. By placing brands under a microscope, we can begin to identify content strategies in the wild. Discover where strategies differ and determine whether those differences are worth incorporating, aka stealing, aka borrowing without returning, thanks bye. For this case study, I've chosen Imperfect produce. Imperfect produce is a B2C service that delivers overproduced, blemished or otherwise undesirable fruits and vegetables to non-discriminating adults. I've been a subscriber of theirs and I love what they do, but more importantly, I love how they do it. For this case study we're going to look at their content strategy, which you'll find equally imperfect and beautiful as their products. As a consumer focused company, we might expect their top-funnel content to receive the majority of their focus. Spoiler alert, that's pretty much exactly right. Their social media accounts are wildly popular, especially their Facebook page and Instagram. They use Facebook almost exclusively for original and formative posts and giveaways. On Instagram, their content takes advantage of the platform's unique focus on imagery to provide gorgeous photos of hideous vegetables. Somewhere in 2016, they begin to humanize their produce with googly eyes and hand-drawn body parts. Something about their Instagram followers and I find totes adorbs. Journalists and bloggers make up the other leg of their top funnel content strategy. Among others, they reach out to journalists in Seattle, Milwaukee, and likely wherever else they established deliveries. These unbiased appraisals of Imperfect produce provide backlinks to their site for interested readers. As for bloggers, Imperfect found those by simply hiring them as customers. Imperfect grants subscribers a referral code that earns them $10 worth of free produce whenever someone uses the code to sign up for Imperfect. As a result, people blog and talk about Imperfect an share their referral code in the process. If it's in your budget, this strategy is a marvelous way to grow your user base while riding the coattails of your biggest fans. The ones who use your product and want to scream their love for you at that top of a mountain. If I had to make any top-funnel changes, I would investigate the bottom-line value of Twitter and Pinterest. With the hypothesis being that Imperfect's time would be better spent producing original content for Facebook and Instagram. As we learned earlier, B2C is generally prioritize top-funnel over the middle and Imperfect produce is no exception. But they do have several pages that explain how the service works, where the vegetables come from, what makes them imperfect among a couple others. But the number of social media posts renders this content microscopic. The majority of these pieces are 500 words or less. However, these pages are probably getting the job done. They've paired these navigation level pieces with an FAQ like Help Center. This portal answers common questions even at the expense of repeating themselves. Granted, this content is a blend of post and middle-funnel resources and tries to serve both existing customers and curious readers equally well. Whether it succeeds at this goal its something only the data analysts at Imperfect could answer. If I were working with Imperfect, I would recommend the following: flushed out the middle-funnel pieces to render them as attractively as they do their top-funnel counterparts, add calls to action to every piece because elements like the Sign Up button glued to the navigation bar become background noise that readers tune out, next pulled the most popular questions from the FAQ into bigger consolidated middle-funnel pieces that readers are more likely to find. If they can track subscribers when they visit the help center, changing up the UI in the process, active subscribers might receive the interface as is with the helpfulness rating and social media share suggestions. However, for users who appear to be browsing the documentation for the first time, invite them to make a commitment by changing this to a CTA. Lastly, let's look at their post-funnel content, my personal fave. With their blog, they come the closest to following the recommendations made by this course. Their posts are almost exclusively targeted at existing subscribers who want to make the most of their produce. They fill up the blog with recipes, cooking tutorials and more to keep customers coming back. Rather than a simple newsletter, they tailor emails to help subscribers take advantage of seasonal produce. But my favorite part isn't the newsletter or the blog, it's the real-world content that they happen to bundle with their shipments. First to note, they print stories and facts on the side of their boxes, which turns the box into something more meaningful than a vessel for transporting disfigured produce. With a subscribers first shipment, Imperfect bundles are beautiful produce storage guide that begs to find a permanent home in their new customers kitchen. If I absolutely had to, here's what I might suggest for post-funnel tweaks: I would personalize the emails further by timing them with the arrival of subscribers Imperfect boxes and include content relevant to the specific items inside if possible, bundling the printed storage guide is great but they can take it a step further by also including a branded and Imperfect magnet. Even if some customers refused to pin the guide on to their refrigerators with the included magnet, the suggestion is enough to inspire others to prominently displayed the guide somewhere in their kitchen. Overall, I feel Imperfect has a well-balanced content strategy that while likely effective, can benefit from some minor improvements to reduce work and encouraged further conversions. Homework, pick one of your favorite consumer brands and perform the same analysis on them. Try to discover what they do to attract, educate, convert, and nurture customers. Then ask yourself, what do you like about their strategy, dislike or find confusing. Take what you learn and see if you can apply it to your own marketing. 10. B2B Case Study: Mailchimp: With a B2C Case Study under our belt, we're ready to look at the other side of the spectrum. In this lesson, when evaluating a B2B content strategy, we will study a digital marketing giant. If you've never heard of Mailchimp, consider me surprised. Thanks to them, millions of terrible, awful, newsletters reach our inboxes every day. But that's not exactly Mailchimp's fault. Great brands rely on Mailchimp too. But Mailchimp's freemium business model invites all kinds of characters to try their hand at email marketing with this seriously mixed bag of results. Despite that, Mailchimp has grown to a marketing behemoth that powers digital strategies for thousands of businesses. I happened to be a Mailchimp user and a fan, but without further ado, I'm going to link some monkey scrutiny at their content. As one would expect from an established B2B, they deprioritize top funnel content and primarily rely on industry wide brand recognition to attract new leads. However, I was able to pick out a few posts on social media designed to garner shares. Like this brewery success story, and this one for a toy store. I didn't find either particularly strong. As for their site, I found little if any material targeted at newcomer's overall there top funnel content is nearly non-existent. They offer little in the way of help, entertainment or value to those not already living inside Mailchimp's world. If I had to make tweaks here, I would dedicate some resources to common digital marketing problems where the primary solution is something other than a Mailchimp product. As for the success stories, we'll get back to those later. As we might have predicted. In the middle is where Mailchimp truly shines. Almost every link on Mailchimp's top-level navigation is a piece of educational material designed to instruct both prospects and customers. Not only do the resources cover a broad range of topics, but to satisfy the majority of readers, they go into incredible depth. That depth includes video, custom graphics, step-by-step instructions, and direct links into the product where readers can explore features hands-on. These links act as both helpful segways to relevant product features and calls to action to create a Mailchimp account. In one word, brilliant. The middle frontal also expands beyond their site to include resources published on other platforms, like the Mailchimp course on Skillshare. It's in the middle where I've pretty much have no suggestions. It's good. Mailchimp has done an incredible job of teaching their new and existing audiences, how and why to use each element of the product. Let's turn our attention to post funnel. The educational material helps existing customers make better use of Mailchimp. They've squared that away by making such a valuable metal funnel. Meanwhile, they've reserved social media for the majority of their delightful and fun content, which is primarily targeted toward fans and customers. Their Instagram is a collection of inconsistent yet quirky posts, primarily about themselves. Notice the near ubiquitous presence of their logo and brand name. Whereas Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are effectively dumping grounds for their latest resources and success stories. However, they are using UTMs to determine which posts on which networks bring traffic to their site, so they get kudos for that. On YouTube, we see some crossover video ads from Instagram, yet the majority is platform specific content that promotes their mobile app and Mailchimp culture to existing customers. YouTube is arguably their weakest social media presence. That may be due to a lack of information or entertaining content and inconsistent posting schedules. Overall, a mixed bag that relies heavily on fandom to keep the engine's running. As for their e-mails they are pretty good. They highlight resources and success stories to help inspire existing customers to try new features, further increasing the value customers receive from the service. One such e-mail convinced me to re-send a campaign to subscribers that had not opened the original, and Mailchimp provided data to support such a tactic. I haven't ever been a paying customer, so I'm not sure what kind of physical content they offer to their larger accounts. But here are my post funnel suggestions. Easier said than done, but Mailchimp's should improve the emotional quality of their storytelling. Their videos are strange, lacking in both narrative and punch, and just look like B-roll hastily slapped together by interns. The top funnel is practically nonexistent, likely supplanted by ads, affiliates, and word of mouth. The middle is fantastic. Everything we need to know about Mailchimp, we can learn from them. The post funnel is weird. Some stuff is quirky and fun, the rest doesn't quite hit the mark for me. Meanwhile, their e-mails are well targeted as one would expect of in e-mail marketing company. They help customers take advantage of Mailchimp's great features. Homework, perform this analysis on a B2B brand, just like you did for a B2C, what differences do you notice between the first brand you analyzed and this one? Do they prioritize the middle over the top as well? Or does their strategy differ a bit from the one in this course? Again, note what you like and dislike about the strategy. What works for them just might work for you too. 11. What Next?: Sweet, you've made it to the end of this content course, but it's only the beginning of your content journey. Here's what you should do next. If you're starting from scratch, I recommend these steps. Prepare your website and browser for measurement and content analysis, install Google Analysis or Google Tag Manager, grab a free account from UTM.io, a free account from SEMRush and add SEOQuake to your browser. Follow this guide to set up goals in Google Analytics and do so for natural conversion points on your site, remember to assign a monetary value to every goal. If you have existing customers and know exactly how to reach them, begin to lighting them with content. In my opinion, this audience is the lowest hanging fruit and requires the least of your efforts. Then work your way backwards to create middle funnel pieces that [inaudible] calls to action tied directly into your Google Analytics goals. Refer to the worksheet to generate content ideas for the middle. Finally, focus some energy at the top. Rather than building out a ubiquitous social media presence, focus narrowly on making one amazing piece of top-final content, that solves that urgent problem or inspires raw emotional responses from the audience. Refer to the worksheet and contagious by Jonah Berger to generate ideas for highly sharable content. But if you have an existing body of content, your next steps, will look a little different. As we did with our case studies evaluate your strategy for effectiveness. Look for top, middle, and post final content to see if it all adds up to a meaningful experience. Study your social media presence. Does it appear to have a clear purpose and target audience, or is it pure chaos and pandemonium, and have you attached UTMs to your post length like I said you should? If you have analytics enabled, dig into the metrics to discover where your strategy shines and where it could shine a little brighter. If you don't have access to this data, acquire that access or partner with someone at work that does. Does your organization track meaningful goals, and does each goal have a value? If you have a blog, take an objective look at it. Is it a collection of focused, valuable content or is it a creature from the blog. If your blog lives on another domain or sub-domain like, blog.yourcompany.com. Do the back links to your main site include UTMs? There are a ton of questions to ask, and I can't expect you to remember all of them. So I've made a version of these slides that you can easily download, click-through, print, share and do whatever you want with in perpetuity, you'll find a link in the description of this course. Finally, no course of mine is complete without Shameless Self- Promotion. If you loved this course and want to get a more detailed analysis of everything we've covered, check out my book, Good Content, a genuine content strategy for the reluctant marketer, available in digital and analog, that means paper. But if you want to learn more right now, take a pick at another one of my courses, Content that attracts, discover content ideas and grow your audience. Of course, that helps marketers generate top funnel content ideas using keyword research. Lastly, I want to thank you for watching my course and stomaching all those terrible dead jokes. If you loved it, please consider leaving a review, and if you didn't love it, email your review to learn at stanleyidesis.com and I will personally post it myself totally right away. Definitely won't delete it. Not a trick, 100 percent. No, go like right now.