content marketing strategy

How to Pick the Best Content Marketing Tools for your 2016 Content Marketing Strategy


To remain competitive, brands have become increasingly focused on creating a higher quantity of content, while still striving to maintain quality. Unfortunately, the quantity and quality struggle is real for so many B2B and B2C marketers alike.

Along with finding the right people and creating a sound content strategy, there is the matter of finding the right tools to integrate with your process and help you reach your goals. With the help of Alan Belniak (Content Marketing Manager and Social Media Lead at Alignable), we reviewed 12 of today’s top content marketing tools to save you the legwork.

Below you’ll find key benefits for each tool as well as the “wow factor” that is unique to their solution. As an added bonus, we also asked experts from each of these companies to share their best content marketing tip to provide you with some additional information to add to your content arsenal.

4 Tips for Building the Perfect Content Marketing Sundae


There’s almost nothing better on a hot day than a frosty ice cream (or frozen yogurt) sundae that uses quality ingredients and just the right balance of toppings. You have to be careful not to overdo it with a blast of different flavors which can cause the sundae to become muddled and headed for the trash can.

Content marketing programs often start strong with a great base, but the desire to create a quantity of content instead of focusing on the quality of ingredients can cause it to fall short.

In 2011, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 85% of of customers will manage their relationships without even talking to a human. Content marketing plays one of the biggest roles in this trend. Good content marketing enables customers to self qualify themselves for your services and begin building a connection to you, before an email, phone call or in-person meeting ever takes place.

7 Ideas for Keeping Your Brand’s Content Marketing Fresh & Relevant


vegetable dish

Have you ever opened the fridge and realized that all of the produce that you painstakingly picked out at the farmers market had gone bad? Maybe there were a few items that were salvageable but the rest had to be tossed. You wouldn’t want to serve your guests a rotten ratatouille would you?

Today’s content marketers should be using only the freshest of ingredients (tactics) to keep their audience engaged and coming back for seconds.

Keeping an online audience engaged is getting harder and harder. They are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of content which makes it very difficult to hold their attention. In fact, the Statistic Brain Research Institute found that the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds and only 4% of page views on the internet last longer than 10 minutes. Remember that blog post it took you 3 hours to write? Chances are your customers are speed reading and moving on.

Four Ways CMOs Can Differentiate & Optimize Their Content Marketing Strategy

CMO content marketing

Content isn’t King, it’s the Kingdom

Taking inventory of the content we’ve produced over the past 10+ years, I realized we’ve collectively written 1.6 million words on this blog. There’s also numerous guides, articles, social messages and emails as well as a book and numerous contributions to industry publications.

Looking to the future of our own content marketing strategy and the need for more visually creative, data-informed and cross platform content that’s highly specialized for our audience, it’s clear that simply creating “more” content isn’t the answer.

I’m not alone in that assessment after having the opportunity to discuss pressing content marketing challenges with a group of CMOs and senior marketing executives recently. Thinking about some of these key issues, I think there are 3 key trends in the content marketing world to be aware of:

Content Marketing Strategy Infographic – 12 Tips from SAP, Boeing, CAT, Progressive, John Deere, charity: water

Content Marketing Infographic

Status quo is not a strategy.  For example, wandering around the world of content marketing like Alice wandering in Wonderland is hardly the way to succeed. And yet that’s how many marketers are approaching content and that lack of planning and direction brings costs in the form of fewer leads, lower revenue and little market differentiation.

“Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some don’t ever want to.” – The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland

Content Marketers with a plan are more successful.  According to CMI and MarketingProfs, 66% of the most effective marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. But how do you apply this thinking in a practical way?

A SEO Guru, Social Media Expert & PR Pro Walk Into a Bar… A Smarter Content Marketing Mixology

Content Marketing Mixology

So, a SEO guru, a social media expert and a public relations pro walk into a content marketing bar.

The search marketer says to the bartender, “I’d like 35 shots of of the same tequila, but each needs to be in a slightly different glass, in different amounts and chilled at slightly different temperatures.”

The social media marketer says, “I’ll buy a round for all my friends and get one for yourself too. Oh, and let’s take a selfie while we drink. #socialdrinking”

The public relations pro joins in the fun too and winks at the bartender saying, “I’ve heard you have some really good microbrews here. If I could try a few, I’lll text all my friends this is the place to be.”

5 Steps to Content Marketing Awesome – You Can Do This!

awesome content marketing

Successful content marketing programs are ongoing communications efforts that empathize with customers and deliver useful experiences. Each content object published is a promise to the community that something relevant, useful and info-raining is in store.

Consistently producing content experiences that inform and inspire creates one of the most powerful customer states: anticipation. Few things are more powerful for attracting a loyal following of customers and advocates than the anticipation to see what’s coming next.

But how can companies with slim budgets create such a content marketing program? While there are entire books on the subject, I think these are the 5 essential components for initiating a growing momentum of content awesome.

Customer Segments

Do Advertorials & Native Advertising Fit In Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Are advertorials a content marketing tactic?Where do advertorials, also know in politically correct terms as “native advertising”, fit into the content marketing toolkit?  To answer this question, we first have to understand what advertorials are – and also that the definition of content marketing itself is a hotly contested topic.

Adam Stetzer of HubShout, in his recent investigation into the purported Google penalization of Interflora for employing advertorial content, insists advertorials are NOT content marketing.

“Advertorials are advertisements, regardless of how you try to dress them up”, he says, “while content marketing is educational. Advertorials are biased; content marketing is free of any bias. The two may share a commercial motive, but are completely different and should be treated as separate entities”.

No April Fool’s – Raising the Bar on Content Marketing Should Be Your Imperative in 2013

content marketingApril 1st is prime time for jokes from brands seeking to capitalize on the holiday. One trend that is no joke involves the importance of content in the digital marketing mix.

According to a study from Econsultancy and Adobe, content ties as the number one digital marketing priority along with conversion rate optimization for 2013.  That confidence and focus on content has companies responding with investments. A study from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute reports that 86% of BtoC companies will keep or increase their investments in content marketing spending in 2013. Additionally, 54% of BtoB companies will increase content marketing spending.

Along with an increased digital marketing focus on content are the major changes with search engines and the practice of SEO. Now more than ever, the importance of on and off domain content is as important or more than the technical aspects of optimization.

A Content Marketing Thanksgiving Feast with All The Fixings

Thanksgiving FeastAfter months of waiting (or stressing) Thanksgiving is finally here.  Your relatives are on their way, you’ve gathered all of the last minute ingredients (hopefully), and you’re ready to start cooking the meal you’ve been planning.

When tackling an entire Thanksgiving feast it doesn’t take much to become overwhelmed.  As you begin rehashing the planning of the meal, cooking all the elements, and making sure you please your guests it’s likely you may feel like you’re in over your head.

However, if you break up your planning and execution into smaller and more digestible elements you’re more likely to be at ease, and have a much more enjoyable time.   How does the planning and execution of a large meal relate to your online marketing strategy, and what are all of the moving pieces?

Key SEO Questions For Better Content Marketing

sunset lake minnetonka

Amazing sunset outside of the TopRank office.

The agency (TopRank Online Marketing) that I started with Susan Misukanis celebrated it’s 10th Birthday this year and in all my time as an Internet Marketer, no other combination of marketing tactics has yielded results like Search Engine Optimization and Content. Over the past 5 years Social Media has entered the mix as an even more powerful amplifier to the effect of optimized content.

But there’s a key problem with how content marketing is implemented by many SEO-focused agencies and practitioners. Creation of “content” has escalated to amazing levels but there is a lot of that content fails to achieve the desired objective. In the midst of keywords, links, rankings and search algorithms there are several important pieces missing.

Key Questions to Optimize Your Content Marketing Strategy

I’ve been thinking about how entering the content marketing space is not for the faint of heart. It can be a signifcant undertaking both in terms of resources and a change in an organization’s approach to marketing and sales. Obviously, content marketing is better for some companies and industries than others. Outside help also makes a difference.

While increasing numbers of companies are realizing they  must provide more than product information to satisfy customers, many of those same companies fail by implementing random tactics and missing out on benefits like better search visibility.

In order to take full advantage of the significant gains in search traffic that are available with a content focused marketing effort, it’s essential to answer some key questions: