The Ultimate Guide To Kickstart Your Content Marketing Machine

WHO do you want to reach? WHAT type of content should you create? WHERE to post your content & HOW to amplify its reach?

Let’s go through all of it — Welcome!


Let’s start with bad news: in order to set your content marketing on the right course you need to do some proper, boring, old-school research.

Now, the good news: almost nobody takes the time to do it. As a result, most content marketing initiatives fail miserably so there is lots of room for newcomers that have the persistence to do it right.


Let me tell you my story.

A few weeks ago I wanted to create a short content marketing guide and a bit of content research for our new company Pipetop.

While I was working on it, I kept bumping into awesome resources on the topic. There was a common thread among them: while awesome content is an obvious prerequisite to success, the secret success ingredient seems to be the ability to deeply research and plan the distribution of your content.

This led me to think that if we are to win at content marketing, we need to take a much deeper look at it. And while working on the notes and research for ourselves, I decided that this overview might be useful for any B2B company trying to utilize content marketing.

Reading through this guide should take you less than 30 minutes. I am also referencing a ton of other resources so you can dig deeper into specific content marketing areas when you need to.

I spiced up some of the sections with our own company cases. The aim is to illustrate how you can do similar research for your own company. Feel free to skip if that’s not interesting to you.


Here is the basic 6-part structure of this guide:

  1. WHO do you want to reach?
  2. WHAT type of content should you write/create?
  3. HOW to write effectively on the web?
  4. WHERE to post your content & HOW to amplify its reach?
  5. WHEN should you share the content?
  6. WHAT to track & HOW to measure performance of your content pieces?

Side note: this video from 500Distro conference by Hiten Shah was a huge inspiration for me. It served as a basic framework around which I formed the rest of my notes and resources.

Let’s dig right into it.


1. WHO do you want to reach?

What is your primary customer segment? What do they read? What are their problems and interests?


When you’ve nailed your primary target audience — think about who else interacts with your potential customers? — Who influences them? Who do they listen to and Who do they follow?

I always thought that it’s enough to only aim your content at your primary customer segment. Recently, the always insightful Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz.com, changed my view on this. He believes:

You should make content that is relevant for everyone that interacts with your potential customers.”

This makes perfect sense: in the era of social sharing, we are influneced by everyone we follow on Linkedin, Twitter and even Facebook.


Pipetop example case

Our ideal customer company: vendors that primarily sell to e-commerce businesses.

Our ideal person within these companies: sales managers/founders that are sales leaders in their companies.

Who influences our potential customers (sorted by influence):

  • Their investors,
  • Sales and marketing influencers,
  • Their customers,
  • Their peers: sales and marketing professionals in other companies,
  • Their marketing and management co-workers: salespeople mainly interact with marketing and management,
  • Their engineering co-workers.

Conclusion

Starting out, we’ll mostly create content that will directly appeal to our primary customer segment. As we progress, we’ll start adding more content that it’s appealing to investors and e-commerce owners (customers of our customers).


2. WHAT type of content should you create?

What content is already out there that we can learn from? How else can figure out what our target audience prefers to read and share?


Research your potential customers to understand their interests

As I’ve mentioned in the intro, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to invest a little bit more time into diligent customer research and be sure about your readers’ interests.

Here’s a quick and dirty method that I like to use for topic research:

  1. List a few companies that we might end up selling our solution or products to,
  2. Use Linkedin to help you find the individuals within these companies that you would ideally want to talk to,
  3. Find these individuals on Twitter,
  4. Quickly skim through their Twitter feeds and write down the topics they, and the people they follow, tweet about and the formats they mostly share.
An example customer research spreadsheet for Pipetop

Your aim is to end up with a list of topics your audience is genuinely interested in.

This will later help you come up with better content headlines and you’ll be able to defend your content marketing strategy based on facts instead of assumptions.

Note: this research step is pretty annoying and tedious. If you know of any tools that can help with the 4th point above (e.g. input a batch of twitter usernames and get back a list of topics they and the people they follow tweet about), please let me know on Twitter.


Analyse your competitors’ content

Here is a list of useful free or freemium tools to help you analyse your competition:

  1. Quicksprout (analyse the performance of your own and competitors’ content),
  2. BuzzSumo (find the most popular topics in your niche),
  3. Sharedcount (analyse the “social performance” of specific URLs — also available as an API),
  4. Great blog post by Nate Desmond contains a really cool geeky way of doing content marketing research.

The tools above can help you analyse your own content, competitor’s content and the most successful content in your niche. From this, you should be able to spot patterns and define your most-likely-to-be-successful content formats, topics, days to share etc.

Example simple spreadsheet below: based on the post by Nate Desmond (from pointe 4 above) I analysed one of the companies in our niche. It helps me see their most successful content pieces, where they got most shares from, what titles work for them and more.

An example research for one of the companies (Radius) in our niche

Research other existing content in your niche

I’ve found this method particularly useful: find a lot of existing popular articles and note down their titles in a spreadsheet.

Read them through and observe their language style, paragraph length, use of headlines, length of posts, etc. Connect your observations with the numbers of views or shares (if available) and you should have a super useful insight into what type of content performs well for your target audience.

Here’s a quick look into the research I did for Pipetop about some of the sales related content on Linkedin’s Pulse content platform:

An example content analysis spreadsheet

Figure out your primary content marketing formats

Analysing your own optimal audience and competition (look above) should give you a clear picture of what kind of content format you should produce (at least in the beginning).

Below is a list of the most obvious content formats and respective distribution platforms.

  • Blogs: own blog, guest blogs, Medium, Linkedin etc.,
  • Q&A sites: Quora, Stack Exchange, etc.,
  • Videos: Youtube, own blog,
  • Podcasts: Soundcloud, iTunes, etc.,
  • Presentations: Slideshare, webinars,
  • Infographics: own blog, Slideshare, Twitter, Linkedin,
  • Newsletters: your own email subscription list,
  • Short guides: own resource+landing pages, ads,
  • Longer whitepapers: own resource+landing pages, Linkedin, ads,
  • Micro products (require engineering): distribution via own micro pages.

Note: these are just some of the most obvious content marketing formats. There are many others out there — almost as many as you can think of. When coming up with more content marketing formats, try to imagine what your potential customers are struggling with, what are they searching for, what do they want to get better at, etc.

An example of a super successful atypical content format: developer focused product Tower Git Client created an immensely successful Git Cheat Sheet Pdf. It probably took them a day or two to create it — but that single piece of content is now bringing them hundreds of leads each month (it’s the number 1 Google result for “Git Cheat Sheet”).


Create different content for different phases of customer journey

Most B2B companies don’t sell products with short, transactional sales cycles.

It’s super important to understand and acknowledge that your potential customers are going to interact with your brand, website and content several times before making a decision to contact your sales team or sign up for a free version/demo.

Your content strategy needs to reflect that: you will eventually need to create content pieces that are aimed at your potential customers at different phases of their buying journey.

I’ve found this blog post by Moz super helpful on the topic.

The blog post above separates content into 6 different buckets based on what part of the customer funnel you wish to target:

  1. Awareness: people that haven’t considered your product/services before,
  2. Trigger: potential customers that are aware of your company and are starting to think about possibly purchasing,
  3. Search: visitors that are doing in-depth research into the product,
  4. Consideration: people that have decided to buy something, but haven’t decided about the specific vendor,
  5. Buy: leads that have decided to buy something from you,
  6. Stay: people that are already your customers; ensuring that they stay trusted customers.

Obviously, content marketing in a traditional sense mostly covers the first 4 points: getting people within your target customer segment familiar with your brand and the products and nurture them through the sales funnel.


3. HOW to write effectively for the web?

What’s the best writing workflow? What types of headlines work the best? What kind of tone should you use?


There are many tips that we can follow to speed up our writing mastery process. Below I’ve collected a few tips on my optimal writing workflow, content organization and headline tips.


Content

Here are some simple, yet effective content writing tips:

  • Sketch a short outline of the content piece to help you with the initial structure,
  • Write a dirty draft quickly and then leave it for a day or two (if the draft turns out to be uninteresting I sometimes ditch the whole topic),
  • When you have finished writing, edit ruthlessly,
  • Organize your content in small easily readable chunks: use a lot of headings, bullets, quotes, short paragraphs,
  • Active voice is better than passive voice (don’t be afraid to use words like “you” and “I”) — remember, you are not writing a research paper,
  • Think of the influencers that you can mention or reference in your content — it can significantly help with amplification of your content (more about that later),
  • If you can separate a paragraph into bullet points, do it.

Headlines

It seems that basically everyone in the content marketing community obsess over headlines. There is a good reason for it: statistics show that only 2 out of 10 people that read your headline, proceed to read the rest of the post.

The nice guys at Quicksprout and KISSmetrics have done tons of headline testing. Here are their conclusions:

  • Click-throughs increase with numbers and negative words,
  • Keep headlines under 65 characters (to ensure search visibility),
  • Make them specific and match the content,
  • Odd numbers perform better than even ones,
  • Aim for the headline to have six words in it,
  • Avoid words with multiple meanings,
  • Include power verbs and interesting adjectives.

4. WHERE to post & HOW to amplify your reach?

How will people first see/read/share this content? How are they going to find it? Who is going to influence them to read it?


We can all agree that writing awesome content for your ideal audience is a crucial prerequisite to success in content marketing.

But almost as important as writing itself is knowing where to post and how to spread the content. In the end, we all want to capture our content’s maximum potential audience.

I’m taking most of the learnings in this section from other more experienced content marketers. That said, I’m categorising it in a way that makes the most sense for me and, hopefully, gives a nice overview of all the options that exist out there.


How to reach your audience?

In my categorisation, there are 5 different ways of how people encounter content on the web:

  1. Search engines (SEO),
  2. Social media,
  3. Guest blogging,
  4. Email,
  5. Paid amplification.

Let’s dissect each one of them separately.


Search engines

I am not a huge expert on traditional SEO and probably don’t even want to become one. Google has successfully killed most of the effective tactics that the SEO community has utilized for years and it doesn’t seem to be a sustainable marketing area going forward.

That said, there are a few things that are normally categorized under SEO and are crucial for your success in having your content found on search engines.

Keyword research

Keyword research is a super useful method for understanding some of the search dynamics in your niche. It gives you an estimate of how many monthly searches are performed for a specific keyword. As you can imagine, that’s a very useful heuristic to help you see what people in your target group search for and what terms they use.

There are many tools out there that can help you with keyword research; you can start with Google’s own tool and supplement it with the free version of SEMrush to see some of the keywords your competitors are ranking the highest for.

As a result, you can use keyword research to:

  • Find topics that interest people in your target group,
  • Find your competitors who are already ranking for specific terms,
  • Find more topic ideas,
  • Find guest blog post opportunities.

I like to organize keyword research in a spreadsheet that you can then later reference internally and have an overview of the keywords that you’ve already targeted.

When starting out with keyword research, help yourself with the topics that your potential customers like to read (see example research in the earlier section).

Note that Google’s keyword tools gives you traffic estimates for the exact phrase that you type in, so you have to be creative and try many similar word combinations to find the ones with the most searches.

When you run out of your own ideas, use Übersuggest to help you brainstorm more keyword variations.

A sample of Pipetop’s keyword research

Basic Technical SEO

Technical SEO focuses on making sure that search engines are able to fully interpret your website.

It’s a pretty comprehensive topic, so I won’t go into much details. What’s important is to understand that you want to make your site and its contents as crawler-friendly as possible.

For this purpose, you should always test your site and content with a tool like SEO-Browser. It helps you see your website through the “eyes” of a crawler, so you can quickly spot and fix the most obvious mistakes (e.g. a menu hidden behind some javascript).

Here are some of the basic SEO tips:

  • Make sure your site loads as fast as possible,
  • Make good use of HTML title tags: one H1 per site, multiple low level title tags with descriptive text,
  • Write descriptive alt attributes for images and links (to describe them for crawlers),
  • Make sure your menu structures are crawlable (and not hidden behind some weird javascript),
  • Always specify a meaningful meta description: very important for click-through rates on search engine result pages,
  • Eliminate duplicate content,
  • Use human readable URLs,
  • Use rich snippets where they make sense (if you don’t know what rich snippets are read this),
  • Use targeted keywords, but use common sense: make sure to target specific keywords, but don’t stuff them into every possible title and alt tag.

For a more in-depth look into the realm of technical SEO, make sure to check this fabulous guide by the Moz crew.


Link building

As you probably know, Google and other search engines heavily rely on inbound links (links from other pages to yours). The links help them determine importance of your domain and specific sites on it.

That’s why SEO’s job has historically been focused on getting more links to targeted sites — or, as marketers call it, link building. Legitimate tactics quickly became extremely shady and Google’s main job throughout the last decade has been focused on fighting the dark side of link building techniques.

Nowadays it seems like Google is finally winning this battle. Best advice is probably to keep away from all the paid link building tactics — even if they seem to work in the short term.

Not all link building is bad, though! A link from a legitimate and contextually relevant site in your niche will always benefit your search rankings.

What can you do speed up the process of getting inbound links?

Firstly, create awesome content. Secondly, find influencers in your niche, build relationships with them and help them win. Later, at some point, you can ask for something in return. Read more about influencer outreach in the Social media section below.

If you would like to learn more about the current link building landscape, take some time and read through Neil Patel’s comprehensive Link building Guide.


Social media

There are plenty of other posts that can help you optimise your social media postings: Buffer’s blog should probably be your first stop if you want to learn more.

There is only one thing I would like to point out though, because I don’t see it mentioned often enough. We all know the “standard” social media platforms (think Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, etc.). But there is a (hidden) breed of niche platforms out there that aren’t super obvious but are driving crazy amounts of traffic to people that utilise them well —social news aggregators.

You’ve definitely seen them — niche communities that upvote newly submitted articles or other pieces of content. One of the earliest ones was Reddit, which is still growing fast. With thousands of subreddits or subcommunities there is a high chance that there is one that you can leverage to help spread your content.

Let’s look at some other social news aggregators outside of Reddit:


Leverage your existing relationships to help you seed the content

Who better to help you spread your content in the beginning than friends, right?

The logic behind this is pretty simple: you want to seed your content through your immediately accessible network. This is especially important in the early phases as you build out your niche following.

A technique to keep track of friends to ping: go through your email inbox, Linkedin connections and Twitter followers and put the people you have a personal relationship with in a spreadsheet column. On the other axis, list the posts that you plan to publish.

Now you have a matrix of your friends and future posts, which enables you to mark who you will ping to spread the content through particular channel (in the picture below “L” means Linkedin, and “T” means Twitter).

An example list of our friends to ping.

You’ve just created a very simple editorial calendar with an in-built distribution mechanism. Now, after you publish your post, send the people that you marked a simple two line email that links to the post and makes it very easy for them to share it.

Important: Make sure you don’t “spam” your friends too often and try to match them with content that would be relevant for them even if they didn’t know you.

Additionally, add some of your other team members’ network in the spreadsheet to expand your reach. You can make their life easier by pre-preparing email templates, so they don’t spend too much time on it.


Reach out to influencers

This is a probably the single most important point if you are trying to spread your content organically via social media. Nowadays, talented individuals with tens of thousands of niche followers have tremendous leverage. And you — just starting out your content marketer — have none.

It’s crucial that you start building relationships with interesting people in your (content) area as early as possible. This sounds fancy — but it isn’t. The key is in helping people become more successful and, eventually, you’ll get their attention.

How to get on influencers’ radars: Let’s look at an example — the most popular content marketing post by Radius is The 25 Best Marketing Blogs of 2014. It might sound like a link-bait type of post, but it worked extremely well for them (and it’s actually super useful for their target market segment). They even wrote a follow-up post describing the success.

So what made this Radius’ blog post special? They mentioned and promoted a ton of influencers and important marketing blogs. A lot of them returned the favour and shared the post to their respective audiences.

It’s naturally hard for the influencers to track all their mentions, so don’t be shy to give them a nudge if you have written about them. Give them a nudge via email, social media or even in person — whatever works best in your context.

How to find influencers in your niche?

There are a few very good tools that can make your life a bit easier. Try Little Bird or the before mentioned BuzzSumo. I’ve shared our list of influencers publicly as a list “Sales Stars” on my personal Twitter account.

Another technique that I’ve found extremely useful: do a lot of manual research in your niche and find people that have previously written about the problem that your solution and content is solving and you will have much much higher success rate when reaching out to these people. They have experienced the problem themselves and understand it.


Guest blogging

A year or two ago, guest blogging was considered a legitimate SEO tactic. You know, I write a blog post on your semi-crappy blog and I include a link or two within it pointing to my blog or website. In result, I receive SEO “link juice”, you get free content and we are both super happy.

Well … this doesn’t work anymore. In January of 2014 Google started to actively punish blogs that do guest blogging with the sole purpose of gaining inbound links.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid (legitimate) guest blogging! It’s still a great way to gain audience and improve your authority on specific topic. Just don’t expect it to help you directly with SEO.

This is what Matt Cuts, Google’s ex-anti spam chief wrote about guest blogging back in January of 2014:

“There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there.”

You’re probably asking yourself now: how can I find the most interesting guest blogging opportunities? Well, if you are just starting with your content marketing, guest blogging isn’t going to work. It’s crucial to build some credibility before on your own blog before asking others to accept your submissions.

When you finally feel ready to start guest blogging, there are a few shortcuts you can take to streamline the process:

  1. Use Google (or other tools) to find influencers in your space and find their blogs (only send super high quality content proposals).
  2. Google some of the keywords in your space and find blogs that have covered them before.
  3. Make sure your personal social profiles and your other web properties look great — people will definitely check it out.
  4. Narrow down the list of possible blogs to those that obviously accept guest blog post submissions (it’s usually pretty easy to see it).

After you’ve found interesting blogs that accept guest posts, you should mail the authors and present yourself and your proposed article in the best possible way. Good luck!

Important: don’t send around your second grade material as submissions for guest blog posts — go with your very best instead. This will ensure that your reach the maximum potential audience and bring a lot of traffic to the blog owner or publisher. As a result, a successful guest blog post will make it much easier for you to get your submissions accepted on even bigger blogs.


Email

Email is an extremely strong driver of traffic for almost all successful content marketers.

But as it is with all the good things, email marketing has its downsides; the biggest one is that it takes ages to build a meaningful subscriber base and people are getting tired of receiving promotional emails.

What can you do to speed up your email marketing:

  • Ask people to subscribe to your content in exchange for a freebie (free e-book, x-part educational drip email campaign)
  • If you have a freemium tool, ask people to opt-in to your email campaign as a part of your onboarding process (with a promise of amazing content),
  • Use Twitter lead generation cards for one-click email subscriptions.

In any case — work on your email subscription list from the very first day. It will be a slow grind, but the audience that you build through it, is yours forever (and not tied to any of the greedy social networks). Just don’t expect it to be your main source of traffic from the very beginning.

Email marketing is a huge and old market with some of the biggest software vendors producing amazing educational content on the topic. For the top tier resources, check out Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor and Litmus.


Paid amplification

The 4 sections above focused on how you can get people to read your content via organic channels.

Organic, free spread is awesome — it’s the holy grail of content marketing. But sometimes you simply don’t have the time and patience to wait for people to stumble across your content. Especially in the early phases when you don’t have a meaningful audience to lean on, content marketing can be extremely lonesome.

That’s why smart companies are starting to make lives of content marketers a tiny bit easier by enabling us to pay for getting our content read. There are already several formats of content promotion and the number of new “native advertising” formats is growing every day.

Let’s look at a few most common paid content marketing channels:

  • Sponsored blogs: similar to guest blogging, but in this case you pay a publisher to post a clearly marketed sponsored post on their page,
  • Facebook promotions: pay to show your content to a narrow, super targeted group of people on Facebook,
  • Twitter sponsored tweets: pay to show your content in a form of a sponsored tweet or get them to subscribe to your newsletter via lead generation cards,
  • Linkedin sponsored updates: pay to show your content to relevant people within the Linkedin feed,
  • Native recommendation snippets on 3rd party sites: native recommendation snippets are a growing trend in the publishing industry — use a tool like Zemanta.com to make the best use of all the options out there.

5. WHEN should you share your content?

What days should you release your content on? What sharing times perform the best?


Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets to this question.

The optimal sharing times heavily depend on the type of content you are trying to spread: is it an enterprise B2B solution blog post (weekends are probably not the best then) or is it a tutorial on how to plan your next vacation (weekend sharing would probably perform great in this case).

A good way to start the timing optimization process is to:

  • Look at your competitors’ content schedules. This way you can see if there is any correlation between the day/hour they post and the outcomes,
  • Check when people are signing up to your site and when does your site/service get the most traffic,
  • Don’t be embarrassed to share the same piece of content on multiple occasions to test the response from your audience,
  • Never settle and always test new sharing times.

Pipetop example case

We are a new startup with no existing content and no legacy website, so we have to rely heavily on intuition and a tiny bit of research.

We looked at two interesting data intelligence startups in our field and analysed their timings: the before mentioned Radius and an investor focused startup Mattermark.

It’s worth noting that the target audiences of both startups are somewhat different: Radius targets marketing managers in B2B companies, while Mattermark, on the other hand, focuses primarily on VCs and angel investors.

Let’s start with similarities we observed from our research :

  • Friday is obviously the worst performing content sharing day for both companies,
  • Monday performs pretty well in general: it’s the best day for Mattermark and the second best day for Radius.

Now, let’s look at the differences:

  • Radius doesn’t publish posts on weekends at all (probably a small missed opportunity),
  • Tuesday is the best performing day for Radius and the second least successful day for Mattermark.

Conclusion

Pipetop’s core audience is closer to Radius, so we’ll definitely start by posting most of our content aimed at marketing managers on Mondays and Tuesdays.

However, we do have a secondary audience in investors that influence their portfolio companies. For that reason we’ll try to post the content aimed at this audience on Sundays.


6. WHAT to track & HOW to measure success?

How are your content pieces performing? What are the metrics that matter? How do they impact your bottom line?


Content marketing analytics setup heavily depends on the product/service you sell and its sales cycle.

I found the separation of content metrics by Convince & Convert super useful:

  1. Consumption metrics: how many people consumed your content, measured as page views, downloads etc,
  2. Sharing metrics: how often was the content shared,
  3. Lead generation metrics: how often do content consumers turn into leads,
  4. Sales metrics: how often do content consumers turn into customers.
Content marketing is an uphill battle in the beginning. Metrics will look extremely discouraging and miniscule. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set clear goals for what you want to achieve with each and every content piece.

I like to set straightforward, one dimensional goals. Let’s look at an example.

I wrote a post on Linkedin last week (12 Reasons Why I Don’t Reply To Your Cold Emails). Its purpose was to test the native distribution power of the Linkedin publishing platform.

The “consumption metric” that I focused on was the number of views the post would get. Since this was my first Linkedin post and I don’t have a huge following, I set pretty modest expectations:

  • less than 500 views would discourage me to post more on Linkedin,
  • I expected it to reach between 500–1000 views,
  • more than 1000 views would be a very positive sign that the native distribution on Linkedin works pretty well and I should try and post more there.

Side note: I recommend communicating your goals clearly with the rest of your team. It will make you accountable and also help them understand your efforts and help you with their ideas.

Bottom line: Test formats, test distribution channels, test everything. Always set goals and slowly move down to more revenue-focused “sales metrics”.


The end notes

Hopefully, you’ve learned a new trick or two while reading this guide and grasped the high level concepts of content marketing.

Please remember: careful planning is the key in content marketing. I’ve done this costly mistake before — I rushed into content creation without carefully researching my primary customer segment, their interests and people that influence them.

Moreover, I’ve seen companies spend weeks or even months writing, creating and promoting their content. Finally, discouraged by lack of any meaningful results, they abandon content marketing as a long term marketing tactic. Such a shame.

On the other hand: careful planning, preparation and research can be your real competitive advantages. And then, stick to your plan!

Let me know about your content marketing successes or failures on Twitter!


One more thing

Well, actually 4 bonus take-aways.


I’ve prepared 4 bonus take-aways that should help you pave the way to constant learning and achieving an efficient content marketing workflow:

  1. Content creation checklist (quick checklist of things to keep in mind while writing)
  2. 11 awesome content marketing resources (selection of insightful content marketing pieces)
  3. 12 best content marketing tools and services
  4. 7 world class content marketers to follow (my short list of content marketers to follow on Twitter)

Content creation checklist

  1. Content marketing is firstly about giving/educating: if you (consistently) write great quality content and help people, they will, eventually, love to buy stuff from you.
  2. Why do people share content:
  • to bring valuable and entertaining content to others,
  • to define ourselves to others,
  • to grow and nourish our relationships,
  • self-fulfilment,
  • to get the word out about causes or brands.

3. Headlines are crazy important: do at least 15 for each post and then test and choose the winner.

4. Always ask yourself — Is your content:

  • credible,
  • informative,
  • easy to understand,
  • useful,
  • exceptional?

5. Think about who you are writing for and why they should read and share your content.


11 awesome content marketing resources

Below is a collection of awesome articles that I’ve got most of my learnings from:

  1. Short 20 minute talk on content marketing by Hiten Shah of KISSmetrics
  2. The advanced content marketing guide by Neil Patel from Quicksprout
  3. Content marketing manifesto by Rand Fishkin of Moz.com
  4. Amazing article on how to write better by Nate Desmond
  5. Why content marketing fails by Rand Fishkin of Moz.com
  6. Great presentation on The Psychology of Sharing: Why do people share online?
  7. How to Build a Content Marketing Strategy by Moz.com
  8. The 4 Types of Content Metrics That Matter by Convince & Convert
  9. The Formula for a Perfect Headline by Neil Patel from Quicksprout
  10. The go-to article on when is the best time to share by Buffer
  11. A Guide to Grow Your Blog (or Any Blog) 10X by Nate Desmond

12 best content marketing tools and services

While there are tons of marketing tools out there, I wanted to list the top of the crop.

Here are the very best tools for different areas of your content marketing:

  1. Buffer (freemium) — Share and time social sharing of your content.
  2. BuzzSumo (freemium) — Find most shared content and influencers in your niche.
  3. Contently (paid) — Marketplace to hire great quality content creators.
  4. Google Keyword tool (free) — Keyword research tool.
  5. Hubspot (paid) — All-in-one inbound marketing toolbox.
  6. Kapost (paid) — Manage your content team’s complete workflow.
  7. LittleBird (paid) — Find influencers in your niche.
  8. MailChimp (freemium) — Best email newsletter tool.
  9. Mention (freemium) — Best way to follow yours and your competitor’s social mentions.
  10. Moz (freemium) — Toolbox for SEO and inbound marketing research.
  11. SEMrush (freemium) — Spy on your competitor’s ads and keywords.
  12. Quicksprout (free) — Analyze social amplification success of any domain.

7 world class content marketers to follow

Some of the stuff I wrote in this guide will be outdated at some point.

So if you want to stay on top of everything new in content marketing, I would suggest you to follow these content marketing stars on Twitter:

  1. Neil Patel from Quicksprout
  2. Nate Desmond from NateDesmond.com
  3. Rand Fishkin from Moz
  4. Kevan Lee from Buffer
  5. Hiten Shah from KISSmetrics
  6. Dharmesh Shah from Hubspot
  7. Brian Clark from Copyblogger.com

Here are all of these guys collected in my Twitter list.


Did this guide help you craft your own content marketing strategy? Are you missing something that you think is crucial? You don’t agree with me on a particular detail?

Let me know on Twitter!