A year ago, i took a big decision. I changed my job, by moving from a safe corporate job to a startup one. Here, my goal was to create & lead the online marketing team.
You could imagine my doubts. I was afraid, really afraid. I was out of my comfort zone.
Oh…. the horror! :O
Since i had been an Inbound Marketing advocate for a couple years and didn’t have the chance to fully pursue this unselfish way to do marketing, this was my time.
My first project: creating & growing valuable content that not only draws attention, but also keeps it and increases the trust level of the reader.
And i did it!
Here are some lessons i learned in the past year:
1. Do Your Homework
On the Content Marketing side, my first step was to analyze the status quo of the industry i work in. My conclusions:
- Poor Content. The Snowden & the Wikileaks incidents increased the security demand. Everybody (home users & companies) was suddenly interested in their online security & privacy. The content creators preyed on this increasing interest, creating hundreds of content pieces/day.
- Lack of Quality Evergreen Content. On this crazy ride to capture the readers’ attention, many publications focused on the FUD principle, emphasizing the online dangers out there. That’s a valid strategy. Unfortunately, fewer focused on the education part, providing in-depth security resources.
Basically, it was just another case of Quantity over Quality approach.
2. Evergreen Content Works Big Time
So, we’ve started to create an editorial plan, focusing on evergreen content, like:
- The 13 Step Guide to Secure your PC after a Fresh Windows Installation
- The Top 10 Most Dangerous Malware That Can Empty Your Bank Account
- 10 Warning Signs That Your Computer is Malware Infected
- Top 11 Scams Used by Online Criminals To Trick You
Our main purpose was to create actionable & useful content for our target audience. Initially, we weren’t interested in getting press coverage, despite the fact we had access to some unique cyber security intelligence. In fact, this access has proved to be, later on, a great content source and a very good traction driver.
You must take into consideration that nobody knew us. We were the new guys. The intruders. But, still, the above articles have hundreds of inbound visits on a daily basis.
- Research your niche topic on Quora, Forums & other UGC websites.
- Find repeating questions
- Answer to those question in a well-researched, in-depth blog post.
3. Keyword Research Is Underrated
Many web content crafters say that you shouldn’t focus on keyword research and that Content Marketing is the new SEO. That’s not true, at all.
Their ignorance could be your bliss.
Yes, your goal should be to answer people’s needs through content. But, in the end, the keyword research process helps you find out how people are trying to find solutions to their needs. Afterward, you can position your answer in front of them through on-page optimization.
The “Master Keyword Research in 7 Days” from Nick Eubanks has proven to be a goldmine in this area, well deserving the 127$ fee.
A free alternative is the “Definitive Guide to Keyword Research“ from Brian Dean, that has one of the best SEO blogs out there.
I wished i could have focused more on this in the past.
4. Communities – Perfect for Initial Traction
Content Creation is not enough.
From my perspective, the creation part is only 30% of the job. You need to market that content as much as possible.
A great way to do that is to promote your content in relevant communities for your niche.
For a startup that doesn’t have a community build around their brand, it’s ideal to use existing communities.
Word of advice: Don’t be selfish. Don’t overly promote your own stuff. Go above & beyond on curating quality stuff, interact with existing members, gain trust.
It pays off:
5. Ego Baiting Influencers = Exposure Magic
Capitalizing on communities and curating industry content will bring you lots of exposure from your target audience, but also from press, bloggers & other influencers.
The Expert Round-up
Reading the 100 Days of Growth (great ebook, btw, you should definitely get it), I’ve successfully tried to apply one of their growth tactics: Expert Round-up posts, that brought us 3400 unique visitors by itself.
But, most importantly, helped us create or nurture some business/journalists relationships that, surely, will cash in the near future. Some already did.
Here’s a small summary of what we did:
- Compiled a list of 57 influencers.
- Brainstormed a simple question, aiming to get insightful & actionable answers: “Can you name 3 security tips any user needs to follow to stay safe online?“
- Got their email addresses. For those that didn’t have this info public, we’ve used the Email Generator + Rapportive technique.
- Started the outreach, followed up at least 2 times on other channels where the influencer was active on a daily basis (Twitter & Linkedin).
- Got a whooping 33% conversion rate by getting answers from 19 experts.
- Created a nicely designed ebook, compiling all the expert answers.
- Published the blog post and promoted the ebook as a content upgrade.
- Got 3400 unique visitors, 110 email addresses (people that downloaded the ebook) & these social stats:
Quick Win Outreach
As i mentioned, our mission is to create the best infosec education blog out there. To achieve that, we’re doing lots of external linking, recommending different resources & tools.
Lately, on our blogging checklist, we’ve added a final step. Basically, we’re reaching out to all the influencers, resource/tool creators mentioned in the post. The response rate is not great, but we get the occasional tweet or share.
44 relevant cyber security conferences around the world https://t.co/XjM1pSaO4k
— Virus Bulletin (@virusbtn) April 9, 2015
6. Infographic Marketing Delivers
A while back, i read an interesting article from Neil Patel that talked about how infographics had a big impact in his blog growth.
Taking into consideration his advice, we tried to replicate the tactic. We created a thoroughly researched infographic and pitch it everywhere relevant.
7. Go For Email List Building from Day 1
One of the most important lessons i’ve learned in the past year is that Email is the best online marketing channel out there.
I was partially aware of that when we started the blog. We created an Exit Intent Pop-up using the free Wbounce technology. The window invited the user to subscribe to get the blog articles by mail. That’s it!
The list growth rate was slow! Frustrating slow.
In February, i had a change of mindset and tried to focus more on this tactic:
- Created a Scroll Slider Pop-up that brough almost a half of the current subscriber list. A great tool to put in place for that is SumoMe’s Scroll Box.
- Added an invite to subscribe to the blog newsletter at the end of each blog post.
- Offered content upgrades in EACH blog post. Gave away actionable advice related to the post topic or just the PDF version of the article. To achieve this, i use Thrive Leads, the best email list building tool i’ve ever used. I’m even thinking to fully switch to it.
Using all these tactics, we achieved a 350% monthly increase in the number of subscribers. Also, around 80 subscribers are coming back whenever we publish & promote a new piece of content.
8. Long Form Content is a Winner
There was a period when everybody was involved in the Short vs Long Form Content debate. Myself, after reading about Google’s way to contextually answer to Search queries, i chose the 2nd faction.
It proved to be a smart decision. We couldn’t challenge the big guys, so going for long tail keywords was the right move. Having a 1600+ words/blogpost policy, we managed to increase our organic traffic by 288.35% in less than six months.
For example, we’ve created a 4300+ word “Online Browsing Security Guide” that gets 70+ daily organic visits. No extra efforts needed.
Evergreen long form content FTW!
The Big Takeaway
Don’t settle for the “If you build, they will come” mindset. They will not come. Don’t look at content as a necessary evil. Challenge yourself, write as best as you can, focusing on the in-depth and actionable attributes. And that’s not even enough.
Market the hell out of your blog.
Outreach, communities, email, influencers, keyword research.
Go all in! Don’t fall into mediocrity!