Lee Odden

New @Marketo Guide to Engaging Content Marketing – @TopRank Style

Lee Odden     Content Marketing

Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing

Marketo is known for their content marketing (top 20 content marketing brand) and especially their definitive guides to all things related to B2B marketing.

The most recent is The Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing which includes over 100 pages of practical and highly usable information on Planning, Creating, Designing, Publishing, Promoting and Measuring content marketing.

For this eBook the folks at Marketo reached out to a group of content marketing pros including Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Brian Solis, Rebecca Lieb and many more (including me) for some perspective. While some of my interview is included in the guide, I thought I’d share the full Q and A here.

You obviously produce a lot of amazing content. Where do you get inspiration for new blog posts/ebooks/presentations, etc.?

My first line of defense for content inspiration is a content plan that outlines the topics that need to be covered as part of our marketing strategy.

Second, I’m pretty active in the digital marketing industry by speaking at events, being connected with 100,000+ people on social networks and through interacting with clients and my team. All of those experiences are tremendously inspirational for content ideas.

Lastly, I use data to inform particulars on content angles, hooks and specific narratives. From web analytics to keyword research to social media monitoring to data collected from prospects and current customers, trending data provides a goldmine of insight for creating content directed at a specific audience intended to affect a particular outcome.

Do you write outlines? Why or why not?

For longer form content, such as articles or lengthy reports, I will create a title, abstract and an outline. This is very useful to me because I will then essentially fill in the outline with my story, research and insights. There are cycles of editing after that of course and sometimes the outline gets tossed because I go in a different direction. But an outline for content that is meant to be accountable to specific audiences and objectives is very valuable. However, for most blog posts, I rarely use a specific outline.

Do you think marketing teams should have a dedicated “content person”? Why or why not?

At least one. If content is to be meaningful and effective for a marketing organization, there really should be someone that is accountable for editorial direction and content quality. For example, a Content Marketing Manager will coordinate projects, traffic tasks amongst copywriters, designers, SEOs, social media specialists and analytics/CRO staff. They will also provide strategic direction for content projects, making sure content is accountable to program objectives, editing and QA support.

How do you make sure you have content aligned to every stage of your funnel?

In the B2B marketing space, content aligned to every stage of the funnel sounds great on paper, but in action it’s a bit trickier. The reason why is that many B2B buying decisions are made by committee or group. One individual going through a sales cycle from awareness to purchase isn’t going to be the only influence on selecting a supplier. The entire group of influencers on vendor sourcing needs to be considered.

That said, it does make sense to profile buyer roles and plan content that will answer their questions during early, middle and late stages of the buying experience. A content plan that identifies the key questions during these different stages with topics and specific content mapped to each stage is how marketers can deliver on “being the best answer” throughout the funnel.

Does TopRank Marketing use an editorial calendar? Why or why not?

Definitely. We use editorial calendars for ourselves as guideline and for clients to manage content programs. Editorial calendars provide direction, inspiration and they keep content marketing efforts accountable to business objectives.

What’s the best way to measure your content? How do you measure content? Which metrics do you think are useful, and which are superfluous?

This might sound overly simple, but the best way to measure content performance is according to the goals you’ve established for it. The problem in most cases is that marketers create content without accountability in mind outside of exposure.

We use an Attract, Engage, Covert approach to content measurement.

  • Attract is demand generation and exposure. It accounts for how the content was discovered i.e. the referring source.
  • Engage is about content consumption and the customer experience. Metrics that tell us popularity and trending of content consumed according to topic as well as devices used and media types. Social sharing and commenting are often included in engage metrics.
  • Convert are any conversions captured with forms whether it’s a registration for a webinar, eBook download or an inquiry for services.

This model keeps content accountable for performance throughout all stages of the buying cycle and helps us optimize both conversions and customer experience.

We talk a lot about re-purposing, refreshing, and updating content…but how do you know when a piece of content is simply “ready to retire”?

About 8 years ago, I wrote a blog post about repurposing content. It received a fair amount of exposure. Since then, I’ve reposted and repurposed that same blog post several more times, each with even more exposure. While there’s some rich irony in that story, the lesson is that evergreen content that’s truly useful content has no expiration date.

We use a modular content approach to make chunking easier and more effective. A substantial content object can be broken down into component parts and remixed with other content or have new content added to it. With a modular approach, you can also start with micro content like quotes, statistics and individual tips as part of social media promotions and then curate into blog posts, newsletters, eBooks and articles. Modular content are building blocks of ideas and can be assembled in whatever way is useful to guide prospects along the customer journey.

This is just the tip of the iceberg on creating more engaging content marketing of course, so to get a full complement of fresh content marketing advice, check out The Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing. You’ll find great information from the marketing smarties at Marketo as well as insights from an impressive list of content marketing experts:

How is your company creating more engaging content for marketing? What are some of your top challenges?

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About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.