If you regularly read the Zazzle Media blog, then you may have noticed that all of my personal contributions so far have all followed the same theme; they all focus on identifying and overcoming some of the common problems that content marketers, like myself, are faced with on a daily basis.
However, just as I was starting to learn how to quickly and effectively create innovative content ideas and write truly great content from them, I realised these were not the only two hurdles I would have to overcome…
As content marketing surges in popularity, the competition within the field is becoming increasingly fierce as a result - more and more people are trying to join the race in a bid to grab their own slice of the digital marketing cake. But, it’s not only this rise in competitors that’s hindering our ability to get to the finish line first – because, as more people join, more and more barriers are also starting to appear with them.
Getting The Message Right
Enter content marketing hurdle number three; attempting to improve conversion with the RIGHT message!
With every Tom, Dick and Harry now trying to jump on the content marketing bandwagon, it seems as though site owners and bloggers are becoming increasingly fussy when it comes to hosting guest content on their site - and it’s not just because you’ve caught them on a bad day.
Not only are response rates lowering, but if you do manage to charm them into sending you a reply, then it’s likely that they’ll only want you to write an article on x topic, with x amount of words, with only one do-follow link and absolutely no other authority in-content links whatsoever.
So, why are site owners becoming progressively picky?
Is it all down to what we say in our outreach emails? Could it be down to what ideas we propose to them? Or, is it because our outreach emails are getting lost amongst Tom, Dick and Harry’s?
Well, if I’m being honest, it’s a combination of all three.
Getting More Creative…With Data
Because, as bloggers’ inbox’s get clogged up with bog-standard, unimaginative and boring outreach emails from individuals only interested in getting links rather than creating great, relevant and original content, the genuine and passionate content marketers amongst are unfortunately starting to get tarnished with the same content spam brush.
So, how can we make sure our outreach emails stand out from Tom, Dick and Harry’s?
Well, just as we strive to do with our content, we need to create great outreach emails that contain groundbreaking information, suggestions and ideas in order to do so.
We need to restore the faith in bloggers to show them that there are writers out there who really do want to create fantastic content that will wow their audience, get tons of shares and greatly benefit their site as a result.
And, if you’ve paid any attention to the title then you may just be able to guess that data may be thing to help us…
Real Data Creates Real Content
As creative people, we can try to come up with all the ideas in the world. But quite often, many of these ideas are already staring us straight in the face – thanks to our good old friend the Internet.
And it was as I was researching potential ideas for a recent guest posting campaign that I suddenly thought to myself, “Surely there must be a way of finding out what kinds of things people actually want to read?”
Well, luckily for us, there is.
Because there are so many tools out there that can help us to come up with those innovative content ideas that we’re always on the look out for – thanks to the data they provide.
And, as well as helping us to master the thinking-of-great-content-ideas hurdle, this kind of data is perfect for helping us to master that new impressing-bloggers-with-great-outreach-suggestions hurdle, too.
Because, if you’ve taken the time to research a particular blog and select informative data from it, then you’re likely to prove to the blogger that you’ve:
a) taken a real interest in their blog,
b) actually read it rather than have just picked it out of a random Google search, and…
c) actually wanted to find out more about what kind of content is actually of real interest to their audience, so you can help them to create more of it.
Now, if that’s not grabbing the blogger’s attention, then I don’t know what else is.
So, to help you master that third hurdle, here are a few great tools that will help you do so with ease.
As fully-fledged digital marketing professionals, I’m sure none of us can deny the power of semantics when it comes to our everyday jobs.
And here at Zazzle Media, it’s of so much value to us that it’s a fundamental part of our content idea creation process for every single one of our creative brainstorming sessions.
Semantic search attempts to decipher a searcher’s intent every time they use Google, using the relationships between keywords to help us understand a little bit more about what users are most searching for.
So, how exactly does data from semantic phrases help us with our outreach idea suggestions? Well, that’s exactly what I’m about to demonstrate, through the help of these great tools:
So, for my previous post “Content Idea Generation > What To Do When The Inspiration Dries Up”, I briefly touched upon how Übersuggest can help you to come up with fantastic content ideas when your creative thinking is a bit rusty.
I believe it’s well worth a second mention, because as well as being the perfect tool for coming up with great content ideas, it’s also great for helping us to inform content suggestions when we’re doing outreach.
Übersuggest is a fantastic keyword suggestion tool that scours the web to bring up an alphabetical list of all of the most common phrases people are searching for, relative to the term you’re trying to find more about.
By helping us to understand more about what people are searching for, it can help us to understand more about what they actually like to read.
So, if Übersuggest has helped you to come up with a few article ideas, and you’ve used these to pitch some suggestions to a blogger, don’t just stop there; use the data to back-up your article idea suggestions.
Use it to say something along the lines of, “I’d love to write an article for your wonderful blog based on the topics a, b and c. After taking some time to research relative keywords, I have found the users are most searching for d, e and f. As a keen reader of your blog, I have noticed that you haven’t yet posted any content around this, and so as I feel it would be of interest to your readers, I’d love to write something for you.”
Now, not only will you be writing content that their audience will actually want to read, but you’ll also be offering the site owner content that maintains clear SEO benefits too.
Soovle is very similar to Ubersuggest in that it uses Google Suggest to populate ideas around a specific idea. Obviously this is a strong argument in convincing a blogger to take your work if you can back it with data suggesting that people search for it.
The tool does this across not just Google but other key Expert Document sites also, such as Wikipedia etc. to supercharge your data.
Google Keyword Tool (not strictly semantic but useful to build the argument)
Although the Google Keyword Tool is not strictly a semantic tool it can be really useful in backing up the argument that your idea is a GREAT idea. The more data you have in your arsenal the better. It can also be a great tool for helping us to inform content ideas and suggestions when doing outreach in its own right of course to.
In the same way as Übersuggest, it uses data from the search engine to highlight keyword searches relative to a particular term.
But, rather than being a fairly general overview as Übersuggest is, it puts real numbers next to real terms in order to show you exactly what people have been searching for over time.
So, you can use it in exactly the same way as Übersuggest to put forward content ideas to your blogger - but rather than highlight the data generally, you can use the volumes highlighted in the global monthly searches and local monthly searches to really help back up your case.
As well as semantic data, there’s also a whole host of social data available on the Internet than can really help to identify what people are reading, sharing and talking about, in order to help us suggest on-trend material to bloggers.
Zazzle MD Simon Penson recently wrote a more in depth piece on this over at Search Engine Watch if you want to read more.
No one can deny the power of social media, and no one can further deny the data it provides – not even your bloggers. After all, social media is what everyday people (like Tom, Dick and Harry) use on a day-to-day basis - so the data it provides is real life, real people data.
And, there are other tools that are perfect for providing you with this kind of data in order to help you inform content suggestions during your outreach:
Bottlenose is a great tool that highlights what topics are trending around a particular keyword, around all social media platforms.
All you need to do is type in the chosen keyword that you’re looking to write more about and Bottlenose will instantly show you all of the popular stories, mentions and social commentaries, based on those words.
In a similar way to Übersuggest and the Google Keyword Tool, you can use the data it brings up to back-up your content suggestions by highlighting that what you want to write about is currently trending in the social media sphere.
As bloggers will want to make that all of their content is on-trend as possible, they won’t be able to refuse an offer of getting content that will fit in perfectly with what people are currently talking about.
Cognitive SEO Social Visibility Tool
The team at Cognitive has recently released a fabulous tool that helps you to use social data site in order to further inform content ideas and suggestions.
Although Bottlenose is great for grabbing data from the general social media field, Cognitive SEO’s Social Visibility tool is perfect for honing in on what’s doing well socially for a specific site.
Start by logging into your account (or signing up to one if you haven’t done so already), and start a new campaign using the URL of the particular blog you want to find out more about.
Then, head to the ‘Social Visibility’ tab at the top of your dashboard:
Here, the tool will bring up all of summary of all of the social data for all of the articles hosted on that particular URL.
For the purpose of using data to help and inform great content suggestions, I’d scroll down and use the ‘Most Shared Pages’ section.
Because here you can see which pieces of content have had the most Twitter, Facebook and Google+ shares in total in the history of the site.
And, it’s these results that can help you to come up with content suggestions that you know a site owner’s audience will be interested in.
Use the ranks to see what kinds of topics the top rankings covered, and use these topics to inform further suggestions to the site owner. Use them to say something along the lines of, “I’ve taken time to research your blog, and I have noticed that x, y and z articles have received the most social shares since they were posted back in [date]. I would love to write a follow-up piece to revisit topic x for your audience as I feel that it would not only interest them, but I feel that a second coverage could help to benefit your site socially even further.”
And, there are other tools that can further help you to do this too, including:
Increasingly the ad tools created by the powerhouse social platforms are becoming an integral part of all of our work around idea creation and Facebook’s Power Editor is perhaps the best as it can tell us more about how many people may be interested in a particular topic based on Likes.
This is really useful when it comes to arguing the case for something a little more ‘off-topic’ as you can prove relevance to the audience.
SEOMoz Fresh Web Index
For those not yet familiar with the fresh index from Moz take some time to play with it. It is not yet the finished article, but again it can be great as a tool to mine super fresh insight about topics or a brand. We use it to grab outreach targets as well as ideas for follow ups as it pulls the latest mentions of a keyword and where they came from.
This can be hugely useful if you have a topic preset but want to find a place to put it.
Not only will doing all of these help you to come up with great suggestions that you know people have enjoyed reading in the past, but doing so will also undoubtedly help to set you apart from the rest and give you that all-important outreaching head start against every other Tom, Dick and Harry running the content marketing race.
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