Episode 4 – Tools for Creating Inbound Marketing Content
Today I want to share with you some of the tools I use to create marketing and educational content for our company. I’m going to do this as a two-part series, so today i will focus on the tools I use to produce our digital content and next time I will share with you the tools I use to publish, repurpose and monitor what we publish on the Internet.
You have probably produced some content for the Internet. As a company, we have dabbled in content production for many years. Like many businesses we made a half ass attempt to publish a blog, produce some videos and stay relevant on social media, but last year we made a significant investment in what is called inbound marketing. We signed up and started using a service called HubSpot. If you haven’t heard of Hubspot, Hubspot is sales and marketing automation platform to help b2b or b2c companies attract visitors to your website and turn them into buyers. If you are looking for how you can get more out of your internet marketing I would encourage you to take a few hours and go through their Inbound Marketing Certification Training. Even if you aren’t interested in investing in the Hubspot platform, It’s free, quick and easy to do and will set you up with a good foundation that you need to start taking advantage of inbound marketing with or without an automation platform.
If you would prefer reading a book, a quick and easy read is, “They Ask, You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan. Marcus was a pool installer in Virginia and one of the first big inbound marketing and Hubspot success stories.
So lets get into content production and start with a couple of definitions, the first is “content marketing” so we are on the same page.
Content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on continually creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content that is designed to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to produce a sale.
When they say “clearly defined audience” you will often hear this referred to as a buyer persona or buyer avatar. Buyer persona’s or avatars are fictional representations of people that you believe would buy from you. So, for example in our company, we have defined some buyer’s persona’s that represent the types of buyers we typically deal with. We have defined “Ian the IT Guy”, “Fran in Finance”, and “Charles the CEO”. Each of these personas help us create content that is directed to and will resonate with that type of buyer.
The personas are specific. For example, our persona for “Ian the IT Guy” is made up of his Roles (Ian is an evaluator, decision maker, techie, Caretaker, Introvert, Knowledge Seeker, Troubleshooter), Goals (Ian needs to keep infrastructure running, preserve his job, work over vendors, make himself look good in the eyes of his boss, and advance his career). He also has specific Challenges (too much to do, not enough time, no real decision making power, no peers to work with, limited budgets and a fear of losing his job).
If you keep a specific persona or avatar in your mind while you are creating content you will have a much better chance of making something that will resonate with the potential client.
The next term I want to define is, Inbound Marketing. I threw out the term Inbound Marketing when we were talking about HubSpot. Inbound marketing is a marketing system that is designed to address problems and needs of a clearly defined audience by building trust and credibility. Content produced for an inbound marketing program is designed to be helpful and relevant not intrusive.
Most inbound marketing includes elements of SEO, Blogging, Social Media and Live events and webinars. Instead of old school pop-ups, banner ads and other intrusive methods. This is the main reason I spend have of my days building content. We need to get people to know us, to like us and eventually trust us so that they will buy from us. We need to get prospects into a sales funnel so that we can attract them to our company.
So while we are defining things, it probably makes sense to define the word content. When I am talking about content, I am referring to digital content and specifically, content used to market a product or service through the Internet.
Content is a broad word and could mean anything from a TV show to a song on an album to a seat back advertisement on an airplane but for the purposes of our conversation lets just define it as educational and marketing material used on blogs, webinars, and social media services like twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
The content could be delivered by any type of digital media; blog posts, web and landing pages, text, graphics, video, audio, infographics, pdf files.
The content types can vary too. Typical types of content include How-To content, List content, checklist content, story content, review content, rant conten and many others. If you are looking for a content planner to help you plan your editorial content, Ryan Diess (DICE) of the Digital Marketer has a good starting point for you. I have included a link to the 60 Second Content Planner in the show notes at theitprovdernetwork.com/4
Now that we have some definitions out of the way, let me share with you some of the tools that I use to help my company with inbound marketing. It all starts with jotting down questions and topics we come across in our day to day conversations with customers and prospects. Chances are if one person is asking us a question others might have the same question. Once we have a topic we start doing some research on both the topic and how we can capitalize on it. here are some of the tools that I find invaluable when I am sitting down plan my content.
Keywords and Hashtags
For hashtags research, Hashtagify is a Hashtags Encyclopedia which allows you to search over 65 million Twitter hashtags and find the best ones for your needs. They rank hashtags based on their popularity, relationships, languages, influencers and other metrics so if you are planning content you can also plan the best hashtags to go with it.
HashAtIT is a similar search engine for hastags – it searches hastags on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Unlike the mind map display of hashtagify, HashAtIT presents the results in a storyboard format similar to Hootsuite or Pinterest.
Don’t underestimate the power of hashtags, but don’t over use them either.
Once you figured out your hashtags, you’ll want to also figure out some good keywords to include in your content. For this, I use a few tools.
The first one is Spyfu, Spyfu is a great tool for keyword research as well as ongoing tracking of how you are ranking in for both organic and paid keywords in google and against specific competitors. You can research a keyword, find your core keywords, your competitors keywords and track your 1st page performance over time. You can even see your competitor’s advertisements, ppc spend, although I am not sure how accurate that is, and ad performance over time. SpyFu is a great tool for researching keywords and ppc.
Next up is SemRush – very similar to spyfu, SemRush allows you to do keyword and adwords See your competitors best keywords. Find new competitors that rank for the same keywords as you do and find the right keywords for SEO and PPC campaigns. You can also find new phrase matches, of long tail keywords, that help you become a leader for your keyword or keyword phrases.
One more tool I want to share with you for keyword research is ubersuggest at ubersuggest.io. I just heard about this tool, and its claim to fame is that you can find more keyword suggestions then are available elsewhere. As a result they claim you can get lots of new ideas for SEO, PPC and content marketing.
I only mention this because on the ubersuggest homepage it says that the service was recently acquired by Neil Patel. Niel is a podcaster and has a great show called “Marketing School” which I suggest you check out. The link is in the shownotes.
So now you have some keywords and hashtags on the topic you are going to write about, now its time to sit down and actually write the content.
Writing the Content
There are a couple of tools I use for this as well. The first is OneNote by Microsoft and I use that for fact gathering and research.
OneNote is a digital note taking app and it’s is great for collecting all the bits and pieces you need to make great content. It allows you to capture all your ideas and notes and easily search across everything you have collected. OneNote works on a pc, mac or mobile devices and is part of Office 2016. It is available for as low as $70 a year along with the rest of the Office suite so it’s a pretty good bargin. I use OneNote and OneDrive so that my work can travel with me from machine to machine and from the office to home. During the day at my office I use a PC and at night I use a Mac so OneNote and OneDrive works great for that.
If you don’t have OneNote or you are adverse to the monthly fee, you might look at Evernote as a replacement. Evernote is similar to OneNote but it has a free plan. Links to both of these great brainstorming and note taking tools are in the show notes at the itprovidernetwork.com/4
When you are ready to edit what you wrote in your favorite word processor, I recommend two services. The first is the HemingWayApp named after the famous writer Ernest Hemingway who wrote succently and with great care. It goes through your writing and looks for sentances and paragraphs that are either too long or too complex. It color codes the sections of your writing so that you can easily spot areas for improvement. The web based app is free and the desktop version for Mac or Windows is $19.99. If you publish to WordPress or Medium, it will publish directly for you.
The second editing tool I use is Grammerly. Grammerly is similar to the HemingWayApp in that it checks your spelling and grammer. Greammerly also has a free version and the premium version carries a monthly fee of $29.95. If you choose to pay annually this goes down to just over $11 bucks a month. Grammerly also has a an Outlook and Word plugin which allows you to edit right at the source of most content. So take a look at both the HemingwayApp and Grammerly. I have added the links for you in the show notes.
Graphics and Images
When it comes to adding graphics to your content, I have been using a tool forever called SnagIt and I really like. SnagIt is one of two very popular tools from the folks at TechSmith. The other one is Camtesia Studio, for video creation, editing and publishing. Snagit is tied to my print screen key, and when I hit print screen key it instantly pops up a selection box and allows me to capture a great image in seconds. After I have the image, I can quickly annotate it, add borders, or resize it in the SnagIt Editor. Once i have it just the way I want it I can save it as one of the normal industry standard formats. I probably use this tool more than any other thing on my desktop except for maybe Outlook.
If you’re looking to create those witty memes for social media or any other graphic with words on it, then Canva is an awesome tool to have in your arsenal. Using a simple web based editor you can create some really stunning graphics. Canva is made for guys like me with little or no design talent and the graphics you can create from Canva are great for social media posts, infographics, presentations and more.
If you’re like me and the stuff you create looks like it came from print shop pro then canva is going to blow your mind. Everything you need to create really nice social media graphics online and its free to get started.
If you’re looking for Stock photos, I like the Adobe Stock Photo service. It is not free but the selection is huge and it gives me piece of mind when I put up an image knowing that I can legally use it. Years ago, when we used to design a lot of websites we would occasionally use outside contractors for design work. Well one day I found out that an image used on one of these sites was stolen from Getty Images. Getty Images is one of the world largest copyright holders for digital images. To make matters worse, the image was only available as a rental from Getty and had been online for over 10 years! It cost my company over $8000.00 to get released from the suit and of course the contractor was long gone. If you think it can’t happen to you, google “Getty Images Letter” and search through the 75 Million results. Corbis and other large stock photos are all on the lookout for unlicensed content as well so consider yourself warned.
If you’re anti-adobe or don’t like what you see there at the Adobe Stock site you can also check out ShutterStock at shutterstock.com although I find their licensing a little confusing it might be a better fit for some people and their budgets.
Wherever you get your images from don’t forget to resize them for the medium you are working on. Most images from these stock photo sites are HUGE and created as a resolution for a billboard. A quick little online tool at webresizer.com does the trick for me most times and will quickly get your images into a much smaller size that still looks great on the web. Links for the stock image sites and webresizer are also in the show notes at the itprovidernetwork.com/4
Visual content is the hottest thing going right now, shocking I know. Facebook and Instagram and the two largest social networks so you need make this part of your content marketing strategy. Facebook has over 1.86 BILLION monthly users as of the end of 2016 and Instragram has over 600 million users.
If you are wondering where to spend some time and think you can bust into live content then I would concentrate on Facebook Live, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram stories. They are so hot properties right now around the world now is your change to really build an audience. All of these social media services are giving special attention to live content. They will actually notify people when you start streaming. Don’t forget seventy percent of Americans identify themselves as visual learners, we need to go to where they go!…not such great news for a podcaster.
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