Another day, another Zazzle Road Trip. This time Jo Price accompanied the newest member of the Zazzle Team, Lauren Shanks, to attend the third Distilled Live meet up titled ‘Content Marketing for the Web’.
The four speakers of the night featured a mix of SEO folk, content marketers and language experts.
First up was the indomitable, fast-talking and hilarious Vincent Franklin; actor and language expert from QuietRoom. Vincent reminded us of the importance of choosing the right words for your audience, and provided us with a 6-step guide to better copy:
1. Write about the audience – not you
If you read a sentence and get to the end and think ‘so what?’ then you need to re-think it. Write sentences that talk directly to your customer and demonstrate how your service or product will benefit them.
2. Chose words that resonate
Close your eyes and think about the word ‘seaside’. What do you think of? Sandcastles, ice cream, sunshine, splashing in the sea…I could go on.
Now close your eyes and think about the word ‘coastal region’. What do you think of? Not quite the same, is it?
Other examples include:
‘Prepare’ v ‘get ready’ – You only ever ‘prepare’ for bad things, such as an exam, or even worse, death.
‘Ensure’ v ‘Get ready’ – No-one actually says ensure in real life, so why do we write it?
‘Naughty step’ v ‘thinking step’ – If you’re a parent, you’ve probably sent your child to the naughty step at some point. But what does the word ‘naughty’ actually achieve? Replace the word to ‘thinking’ and it instantly changes the way you think about things.
3. Use words not abstract nouns
Which of these would you most want to do (and more to the point, which of these do actually do)?
‘Preparation for retirement’ – Nope.
‘Preparing for retirement’ – Nope.
‘Preparing to retire’ – Nope.
‘Getting ready to retire’ – Ah, now that’s better.
4. Use short sentences for impact and clarity
Write a sentence, add a full stop and then move on to the next paragraph. Lengthy sentences are confusing, uninviting, as well as being difficult to read and digest.
5. Climb up and down the ladder of abstraction
Put a solid idea against bold, abstract ideas to make them believable.
6. Structure ideas with story spines
All good stories follow a pre-defined structure. So, make sure your content also follows one:
Once upon a time…
Until one day…
Because of that…
Because of that…
Because of that…
And as a result…
By doing so, your content is sure to not only make sense and flow better, but is also more likely to be remembered.
Next up was Anna Lewis from digital marketing agency, Koozai, to tell us how to ‘Measure the Value of Content Marketing’.
Her slides from the night can be found here.
Anna reminded us how lucky us SEO types are – unlike traditional marketers; we are able to measure the success of our content marketing activity.
During her talk Anna talked us through some fantastic data manipulation tools, which can be used to measure content effectiveness and measure ROI.
Open Site Explorer
Combine the results of social sharing and Google Analytics with V lookup to assess results.
Track links in Google Analytics as ‘trackbacks’ then compare them to revenue. Format results to identify what works and what doesn’t. Do more of what works and don’t be afraid to trial new ideas.
Her summary reminded us to:
- Know your KPI’s.
- Track them – set goals and value.
- Understand the full picture.
- Show ROI of your content marketing.
The penultimate speaker was Jon Quinton from SEO Gadget, with his talk ‘How to Scale Content’.
Jon started by asking us the question: “What do clients want?” The answer? Revenue, of course!
However, he identified that there are often 2 key problems when trying achieve this through content:
Problem 1. Scaling the effort without losing quality.
Problem 2. Getting stuck in bottlenecks.
Jon stated several solutions for these problems, including:
- Do regular ‘prospect binges’ to identify potential targets – use Twitter search, G+wonk and Followerwonk.
- Only approach real/quality sites for links – use search metrics to find out what a sites audience numbers are then make lists of these sites.
- Find quality producers of content – these include Dribble to find quality designers and People per hour to find great writers.
- Advertise on ODesk for freelancers to scale outreach.
- Create a guest post outreach template email – make it short and to the point.
The final speaker of the evening was the lovely Hannah Smith from Distilled, who performed her popular talk from September’s Think Viz meet-up ‘Content Marketing – Beyond the Bullsh*t.’
Hannah’s refreshingly honest talk reminded us that we should be listening to what clients actually want, rather than just building links. Content should be on brand and sympathetic to brand positioning.
Most brands don’t actually want themselves to be associated with the topics that often tend to get high shares and links. Those topics frequently include kittens, bacon, conspiracies, drama and sex.
You should always create content that the CEO of the company you are working for will love. After all, it’s them that will be signing your paycheque.
Good content is not free, and not cheap. In fact, it takes time and resource, but the results will be always worth it.
A massive thanks to Distilled for a fantastic night with some inspired talks.