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The Worst Lessons Marketing Ever Taught Content


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Marketing can be a good thing, but it can also mislead content creators and promoters. In this presentation, delivered at Content Marketing World, Rand covers the advice often given (or interpreted) by content creators as "how to market" that should probably be ignored (or, at least, taken in context).

Published in: Marketing

The Worst Lessons Marketing Ever Taught Content

  1. The Worst Advice Marketing Ever Gave to Content Rand Fishkin, Founder, Moz | @randfish
  2. What Makes Content Successful?
  3. It Accomplishes its Creator’s Goal(s) @randfish Simple.
  4. But… There are Two Kinds of Goals: @randfish
  5. Not-So-Smart Goals @randfish
  6. Go Viral! @randfish Lots of shares and views… But what does that accomplish?
  7. Grow Our Traffic! @randfish Unless you’re a media property or social network, traffic probably isn’t your true goal.
  8. Boost Sales! @randfish Many businesses invest in content because they’ve read headlines like this, and think there’s a 1:1 relationship See! A magnet! It gets customers! I want a magnet!
  9. Smart Goals @randfish
  10. Match the Org’s Most Important Priorities Grow top-of-funnel for product X by 25% this year Help us win more head-to- head deals vs. competitor Y Earn 10% more leads for our sales team via our free tools Top 3 Priorities: ID & create content that helps audience in our field Create comparison pages & rank for us vs. Y terms ID searches our tools answer & create content to rank Content Tactics
  11. Show the Connection Between Goals & Metrics @randfish Grow top-of-funnel for product X by 25% this year Twitter follower growth is correlated at 0.7 with growth in traffic from our tweets Twitter growth rate (& 2017 target): 14% (20%) Twitter followers (& 2017 target): 12.5K (22K) Twitter monthly visits (& 2017 target): 4.5K (10K)
  12. Accommodate for Content’s Indirect & Slow ROI @randfish Me make content. Humans click. Them buy. Me get money.
  13. @randfish CaveRand know. That not how content work.
  14. How Content Really Works: Me Make Content. Humans click. If them like, them remember. Maybe see more my content. Visit again. Me build trust, relationship. When them need me, them come back.
  15. Let’s Fact Check Some Oft-Given, Content Marketing Advice
  16. We’ll Use Politifact’s Scale: Via
  17. e.g. Via
  18. Common Themes in Content Marketing Advice8
  19. Content Brings Direct Leads & Sales @randfish
  20. @randfish
  21. Content is An Indirect Acquisition Channel Via Jauntaroo Jauntaroo’s tool serves as leadgen for Expedia, but only a small percent of searches ever lead to conversion on a first visit.
  22. Content is An Indirect Acquisition Channel Via Moz At Moz, we observe folks visiting our site ~8X on average, before they take a free trial of our
  23. Converting Directly Often Brings Lower LTV Customers @randfish Folks whose 1st Moz experience is clicking this & signing up stick with their subscription for less time, on avg, than those who visit lots of Moz’s content before signing up.
  24. Conversion is Much Less Likely on a 1st Visit Via Larry Kim
  25. Interruption Tactics & Dark Patterns Can Work… Via Copyhackers
  26. Via Copyhackers e.g. This overlay yielded many more email signups
  27. But They Can Also Backfire Via Marketoonist
  28. Via Danny Richman
  29. Growth Hacks Are The Future of Marketing @randfish
  30. @randfish
  31. Roundup Posts?
  32. The Infographic Craze? @randfish
  33. Ubiquitous Guest Posting?
  34. Auto-Follow Software?
  35. Aggressive Email Pestering
  36. Hacks Tends to Follow the Law of $h*#&y Clickthrough Rates: Via Andrew Chen
  37. But, Hacks Can Be Useful When Applied to a Functional Content Flywheel
  38. Publish Amplify Grow network Rank for slightly more competitive terms & phrases Get links Grow authority Earn search traffic If you know that amplification is where your flywheel is dying, hacks to reach a larger group may indeed be powerful!
  39. (e.g. Rand’s Facebook Hack) I first published this on my personal blog, but the post went nowhere on Facebook, so I deleted the original FB post and put up this one to my Medium version (which links to the original), and got ~5X the reach.
  40. Facebook is Everything @randfish
  41. @randfish
  42. You’ve Probably Seen Headlines Like This: Via AdWeek
  43. But, Facebook is <5% of Web Traffic Referrals Via SimilarWeb
  44. Yes, In Some Sectors, Facebook is Huge e.g. the “Humor” category is, not surprisingly, dominated by social referrals (data via SimilarWeb Pro)
  45. Facebook Wants to Keep You There; Not Send You Somewhere Else Via MarketingLand
  46. Overinvest in Facebook at Your Peril Via FinancialBrand Today, both these numbers are ~1/5th of what they were in 2013 when “reachpocalypse” hit.
  47. Amplification Starts After You Hit Publish @randfish
  48. @randfish
  49. Lots of Amplification Work Does Happen After Publication Via Moz’s WB Friday
  50. But, If You Haven’t Set Up Your Content for Amplification Success… @randfish The Probability that “It’ll Just Spread Naturally” is Very Low.
  51. Before You Produce Content, You Need a Great Answer to the Question: @randfish Who Will Help Amplify This and Why?
  52. Say you want to help this content spread: Via
  53. A Crappy Answer: “Movie people will like this. I know movie people. I have the best movie people.” - a soon-to-be-sad marketer
  54. A Great Answer: Via Followerwonk It’s only *great* if you’ve actually built these relationships and have buy-in from these folks.
  55. Paid Channels Are How You Boost Content’s Reach @randfish
  56. @randfish
  57. Paid Can Certainly Boost Reach… Via Buffer $5/click is a little pricey, IMO…
  58. But, 90%+ of All Social Clicks Go to Organic Via Nanigans Q1 2016 Facebook Report
  59. On Google, It’s ~80% of Clicks to Organic ~20% of all clicks ~80% of all clicks
  60. Paid Demands High Confidence in ROI Via Hubspot
  61. Ironically, Paid Works Best on Content that Amplifies Well Organically Via Larry Kim Twitter is a great, free, low-risk testing platform for sharing.
  62. Be Wary of Overinvesting in Short-Term Paid, When That $$ Could Go to Long-Term Organic If I spend $1.07 X 3,000 clicks/month for 6 months… that’s $19,260.
  63. Or I could invest $10,000 in a content effort that might get me 10X the traffic for years to come.
  64. Use Keywords And You’ll Rank in Google @randfish
  65. @randfish
  66. Keywords Still Matter for SEO
  67. (& Other Forms of Discoverability, Too)
  68. But Keywords Are Only the Beginning Via Backlinko Google is much smarter at understanding topics and, most SEOs already do KW optimization, making it a less powerful way to stand out
  69. The Modern SEO Pyramid Crawl Accessibility, so engines can reach & index your content Compelling content that solves the searchers’ query Keyword Optimized to attract searchers & engines Content that naturally earns links & citations Title, URL, & description that earns high CTR Amplification via social/word-of-mouth Schema & markup that stands out in SERPs
  70. Smart KW Research is a Must: Via AdWords Sadly, AdWords data is not “smart.” These numbers are wrong (in reality, they represent a range) The “competition” & bids only speak to PPC, not SEO
  71. Better Metrics Can Help Prioritize: Via KWE Accurate volume ranges Difficulty of ranking in organic Relative CTR Value to my site
  72. Once You Do KW Research… Via WB Friday
  73. 2) Uncover related terms, phrases, &topics 3) Craft a title, subtitle, & meta description that will stand out in the SERPand have strong relevance to the query 4) Use a format that will serve visitors on every device fast 5) Provide unique value that no one else in the SERPdelivers 1) Investigate what answers & content searchers need so you can effectively serve their needs Follow This 5-Step Process
  74. Correlation is a Recommendation @randfish
  75. @randfish
  76. The Best Times to Tweet? Via Buffer
  77. The Ideal Length of Content? Via Medium
  78. The Types of Content that Works Best? Via OKDork
  79. Treat Correlation as Paths for Inquiry & Experimentation; Not Rules to Follow Via Bloomberg’s What’s Warming the Planet?
  80. Make Great Content And They Will Come @randfish
  81. @randfish
  82. Need a Great Resume Template? @randfish Sadly, none of these are going to help job seekers stand out 
  83. Try ResumUP Via ResumUP They’ve got data to back up the performance of their templates Sadly, they don’t rank well, & haven’t gotten the shares they deserve.
  84. The *Best* Grilled Steak? Via (actually, this doesn’t deserve a link) If you want some crappy, over- seasoned, poorly cooked meat, listen to Bobby. It’s “easy.”
  85. Via SeriousEats If you want the best steak of your life, read Serious Eats instead.
  86. Quality Alone Cannot Overcome a Competitive Landscape
  87. Nor Reach a Hard-to-Attract Audience @randfish
  88. Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Aim for 10X Content Via 10X Content
  89. Just Don’t Expect “Greatness” to Compensate for Marketing @randfish The correlation between quality and ubiquity is not always high…
  90. Our Job is Not to “Make Great Content” @randfish Our Job is to Make Content that Accomplishes Our Organization’s Goals.
  91. A Lot of Content Marketing Advice… Is self-serving Suffers from survivorship bias Applies in some fields, but not others Works for only some flywheels Only helps if you’re an early adopter
  92. None of these Caveats Mean the Advice Isn’t Useful… @randfish
  93. It Just Means We Need to Apply It in Context @randfish
  94. Don’t Ignore the Experiences of Others… @randfish
  95. Build a Model for Evaluation & Experimentation @randfish
  96. Slides Online: Follow Rand: Rand’s Blog: Thank You!