6 Content Marketing Plays Inspired by Basketball Madness

By Ann Gynn


Every March, basketball madness infiltrates offices, bars, restaurants, and even a cable-channel wedding dress show.

That doesn’t mean people are interested in every slam dunk, 3-point shot, or flagrant foul in the 61 games being played over a few weeks. Some of the millions who pay attention to the annual tournament are more interested in being part of the watercooler conversations, betting pools, viewing parties, and other general excitement around the games.

CMI is jumping on the bandwagon. Though my bracket may have busted (thanks UMBC, No. 16 seed, for making NCAA history by beating No. 1 seed Virginia), I offer six basketball-tournament inspirations for your content marketing strategy.

Build a bracket

An estimated 70 million brackets were filled out this year. Why? A lot of people hope to win some of the estimated $10.4 billion expected to be wagered in 2018. But many pick their bracket because it’s a fun way to engage with their co-workers and friends. Plus, it gives them a personal stake in games they wouldn’t normally care about.

Background: In case you’re unfamiliar with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, check out the bracket below. Sixty-four college teams play single-elimination games (the team that loses a game is out of the tournament) until two teams are left to play the championship game. (In recent years, the NCAA has added a pre-tournament tournament, but I’m ignoring it for this blog.)

2018 NCAA Brackets

Take a page for your content marketing playbook


To get your organization thinking more about how your content measures up, set up a bracket competition – ask the staff (those who aren’t directly involved in analytics) to guess the winning content.

Here’s how it could work: Pick 16 articles published in four of …read more

Source:: content marketing

Road Map to Success: Creating the Content of Your Audience’s Dreams

By Jodi Harris


In 1995, Steve Jobs was interviewed by Robert Cringely for a PBS documentary, Triumph of the Nerds. During the on-camera discussion, the future Apple CEO reflected on the notion that generating big ideas isn’t the same thing as being able to bring them to life in a valuable way. As he said, “There’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.”

It’s a distinction that most content marketers are familiar with – especially if it’s your job to spin rough, disorganized insights and ideas into high-performing content gold.

From an outsider’s view, it can be easy to assume content creators simply generate imaginative ideas, write (or record) them, and then publish them as a blog post, email message, or other content piece. But while those tasks are certainly key parts of the creative equation, a lot more has to happen behind the scenes if those creative assets are to perform successfully as a marketing vehicle – i.e., get found by the right audiences, drive meaningful conversations with them, and compel them to take action.

Ready to discover the secrets of producing well-conceived, well-written stories? Read on for a handy tutorial on the essentials, along with resources that can help take your content creation to greater levels of success.

Before you proceed: If you aren’t confident you have the right foundation in place to support your creative efforts – or just need a quick refresher on a particular topic – you may want to take a step back and review our previous Road Map to Success guides:

A practical view of content creation

There are three main areas to consider when it comes to establishing and activating your …read more

Source:: content marketing

Words That Convert: Test, Learn, Repeat

By Marcia Riefer Johnston


If you had a magic lamp for your content marketing, what would you wish for? More e-book downloads? More subscribers? More customers?

Whatever you wish for, chances are, it amounts to boosting the conversion rate at some stage of the marketing funnel, ultimately resulting in more profitable customer action. If only it were easy to boost conversion rates. Conversion has been called “one of the most frustrating challenges content marketers face” and “the last hurdle on your route to content marketing success.”

Chris Goward, founder and CEO of the conversion-optimization company WiderFunnel, says one of the most effective ways to boost your conversion rate is to test and tweak your words.

One of most effect ways to boost conversion is to test and tweak words, says @ChrisGoward. #writingtips
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And he can prove it. Chris, author of the book You Should Test That!, has worked with companies like Google, IBM, Magento, and 1-800 Flowers. He has seen the difference that rewording can make.

Chris shared his methods at Content Marketing World, where he presented, The Ultimate Session on Words That Convert (How to Find ‘em and How to Use ‘em) – Mobile, E-Commerce, and More.

Results: A few examples

If it sounds like a lot of bother to test and tweak your words, consider the potential payoff. Here are some examples of conversion-rate boosts Chris’ team has seen simply from testing and tweaking words:

  • 4% increase in orders for IBM SoftLayer servers
  • 115% increase in qualified leads for Magento Enterprise digital-commerce solution
  • $1 million per month increase in revenue for BuildDirect.com

Who wouldn’t love results like that? But … how do you test? Which tweaks pay off?

Don’t assume which words convert

While it’s tempting to follow easy advice about words to use and words to avoid, you get the best results when you question what …read more

Source:: content marketing

4 Google Tips Marketers Can’t Afford to Miss

By Luke Budka


Have you heard Google’s thunderous bellow? It’s shouting: “Hey marketers! Yeah, you guys, the ones producing all the content. SEO is still really important.”

Here are four recent instances of this:

1. Google drastically improved Search Console

Free software (formerly known as Webmaster Tools), Search Console is designed to help users understand and improve their websites. Got a new blog post? Great. Submit it in Search Console for indexing.


Want to know what your website visitors searched for to find your website? No problem. Use the new beta version of Search Console to check out 16 months of queries (recently increased from 90 days). These are the keywords people are typing in when visiting your website … what are you waiting for? Figure out which ones convert and produce amazing related content.

Google expanded #SearchConsole so you can check out 16 months of queries, says @LukeBudka. #SEO
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Google also recently asked users how to make Search Console better. And – wait for it – then implemented popular requests. Check out this recent post from Google for further details: How listening to our users helped us build a better Search Console.

2. Google added an SEO tool to its Lighthouse chrome extension

Google’s free Chrome extension, Lighthouse, gives developers hints and tips on improving their sites. Recently, Google added a new SEO component to this extension. Now Google will analyze any web page and tell you how to make it more search engine friendly. One frequent answer is to make sure the text is big enough – weirdly not even something most SEO professionals ever considered.

Make your web page more search friendly w/ the @googlechrome Lighthouse extension, says @LukeBudka. #SEO
Click To …read more

Source:: content marketing

Stories, Filters, and Bots: What You Need to Know Now

By Monina Wagner


Editor’s note: This post was co-written by Clare McDermott, Mantis Research co-founder and chief research officer.

Keeping up with what’s new and exciting in social media can feel like a sprint. Just as you’ve mastered a new tactic or tool, one of the major social networks announces a new feature you need to wrap your head around. Find some new (and not so new) features you may not know, as well as a few channels that may not be on your radar.


Filters vs. lenses

What’s the difference? The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. Filters are static images you add to a photo on Snapchat – like a company-sponsored illustration to commemorate a special event. Lenses add animation to your Snapchat photo or video – often using augmented reality (AR). For example, you can transform your face into an AR-enabled kitten face (but please don’t) or add an animated rain cloud to your video. The opportunity for followers to engage with lenses is much higher than with filters because users are more likely to play with them and share them.

Followers engage w/ lenses more than filters b/c users are more likely to share them, says @moninaw. #snapchat
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Sponsored lenses

Snapchat is boosting its inventory of advertising opportunities by expanding the ways sponsors use lenses. Now companies can sponsor animated AR lenses and in-app games on the platform. For National Donut Day, Dunkin’ Donuts let users turn their faces into donuts – complete with animated sprinkles dropping into cute donut mouths.


Audience lenses

Want to ensure that you’re getting the right impressions on Snapchat? …read more

Source:: content marketing

Tech Marketers Think Outside the Buyer’s Journey [New Research]

By Lisa Murton Beets


Are technology marketers moving away from creating content for the buyer’s journey?

The CMI research team found ourselves asking this question as we analyzed the data from our eighth annual content marketing survey. Here’s the finding that got us talking:

Compared with the previous year, more technology marketers say they’re focused on creating the right content for the right person at the right time – but fewer report they’re crafting content for specific points on the buyer’s journey.


More on that in a moment, but first consider that technology marketers are achieving increased content marketing success. Thirty-one percent of technology marketers report that their organization’s overall content marketing approach is extremely or very successful – that’s up seven percentage points from the previous year, when 24% reported high success.

31% of tech marketers say their #contentmarketing is extremely or very successful. @CMIContent #research
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In addition, another 50% of technology marketers this year report “moderate” success.


And, like the previous year, nearly 70% say their organization’s overall approach to content marketing is “much/somewhat more successful” compared with one year ago.

As you can see in the report, Technology Content Marketing 2018: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by IDG Communications, Inc., most respondents attribute increased success to getting better with content creation and developing or adjusting strategy – the same top factors cited in the previous year.


Since CMI began conducting annual content marketing research in 2010, technology marketers have reported more use of content marketing as well as the highest levels of content marketing effectiveness or success. They’ve often “done more” of everything – experimented with more …read more

Source:: content marketing

How the Best Newsletters Get – and Keep – Readers’ Attention

By Marcia Riefer Johnston


Nobody wants more email. Yet, as a marketer you want your prospects to want more email – to want your newsletters, at least.

How do you create a newsletter so compelling that people not only subscribe to it but also continually look forward to receiving and reading it?

Scott Monty, CEO and co-managing partner at Brain+Trust Partners, has a few thoughts on this conundrum. Aside from publishing his own weekly newsletter, The Full Monty, he enjoys reading and evaluating other newsletters. He shared some of his favorites – and his reasons for liking them – at Content Marketing World in his talk How to Build and Maintain an Audience with a Remarkable Email Newsletter.

Try a little cleverness

Who says your newsletter can’t make people smile?

Scott points to The Hustle, which describes itself as “a daily email with a handful of the important stories in business, tech, and culture that you should probably know.” The Hustle makes it onto Scott’s list of favorites because, he says, “it’s brief and speaks to me in colloquial language.”

The colloquial language gives the hard facts a touch of cleverness. Here’s an example from The Hustle’s version of a story about Lyft, the on-demand ride company. The writer holds little hope that Lyft will succeed in its attempt to serve sparsely populated areas. “Will you really be able to hail a ride in the remote reaches of Alaska after a long day of ice fishing and dog-sledding?” At the end, the link to the full story on The Hustle website has this label: “Your ride will be here in 177 minutes.”


The Hustle doesn’t stick to just the facts. The editorial team throws in content that delights …read more

Source:: content marketing

7 Fixes for Common Writing Mistakes [Examples]

By Ahava Leibtag


Ann Handley says writing isn’t hard, middle school is hard.

While I agree middle school is hard, I think writing is challenging. As it’s been said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.”

Do we need to bleed when we write?

When you reframe writing as a practice, you can sit in the discomfort of knowing it’s never going to be completely easy. One of the joys of writing is that as soon as you reach the next level, the next mountain peak is staring at you. It’s like yoga, Pilates, golf, or medicine or law – it’s called a practice because when you stick with it you will improve.

But, as with any practice, there are things you can put in place to make it easier. I’m examining some techniques so you can have more writing tools to add to your toolbox.

Monkey mind of writing

Sometimes, when I sit down to write, thoughts are flowing through my head like a mighty river. But they won’t translate to the page the way I want them to. I developed two techniques to combat that monkey voice:

  • Write anyway and worry about editing later
  • Diagnose when I’m being sloppy or lazy, or using an easy technique to get out of working through the challenge

Write now and worry about editing later, says @ahaval. #writingtips
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Below are seven common writing problems and the fixes I use when I can’t type the words the way I need them to be. Later, I will go back, see where I’m going with what I wrote, and fix it. Or, I’ll ask an editor to help me.

Do Agile Marketers Wear the Quality Content Crown?

By Andrea Fryrear


Now that we’ve officially declared quality victorious over its long-time nemesis quantity, I’d like to propose that we also retire the well-worn phrase, “Content is king.” Instead, I’d like to propose a new alliterative truth: “Quality is queen.”

But how do we make it happen? In an interesting (and somewhat counterintuitive) twist, it turns out Agile marketing teams may have a good answer because they are more likely to prioritize quality than their traditional or ad-hoc process counterparts, according to results from AgileSherpas’ recent survey of marketing teams.

Agile marketing (briefly) defined

When it comes to Agile, language matters. A team that’s agile (lowercase “a”) may be fast, adaptive, and responsive to changing market conditions. But that doesn’t make the team Agile (capital “A”). To qualify for that label, marketing teams need to do several things:

  • Choose, apply, and consistently improve one or more Agile methodology. Kanban (a pull-based system that uses work-in-progress limits) or Scrum (the classic Agile process based around sprints) are the most common, but there’s no need to feel locked into one or the other. Most marketers end up using a hybrid approach, which is great, but they need to understand what’s available before building their custom methodology.
  • Change their mindset. Rather than making a huge plan and sticking to it no matter what, Agile teams create short-term plans, execute them, and then adapt based on what happened. No more big-bang campaigns that use a quarter’s budget; Agile teams experiment and iterate continuously.
  • Empower teams and enhance collaboration. Leadership can still determine what needs to be done, but an Agile team gets to decide most of how it happens. Empower the teams to do that, and make sure they can work together to get it …read more

    Source:: content marketing

How to Make Your Content More Readable

By Fergal McGovern

Your team has created, socialized, and measured content in just about every possible way … except for one of the most important metrics: how your audience is engaging with the words.

You want visitors to find information, stay engaged, or complete a task. But once readers’ eyes hit the words on the page, if it takes too much effort, their interaction falls off and you have churn. You know this anecdotally. Yet most don’t measure it scientifically.

Which of the thousands if not millions of words on a website are helping or hurting? What content is too dense or confusing?

Content teams work hard to create compelling content, but they have a natural blind spot. They’re too close to their creations – the blogs, thought leadership, and marketing pieces – to see them through the audience’s eyes.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 27 Reasons Why Your Content Sucks

AI tools can benchmark content understanding

Now, with advances in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, a new breed of technology can test content for readability and clarity, which go to the heart of user experience and engagement. It can move organizations from a subjective approach, often fraught with editorial friction, to an objective, metric-based approach.

In this article I look at how to test for readability across your organization. For CMOs and chief content officers who want more engaging content, you now have ways to measure and benchmark clarity across the organization. And these tools can also help individual writers and creators produce better quality content.

Let’s define readability and clarity

Content clarity is the user experience of how difficult or easy it is to read text. Why is that important? We know from neuroscience that processing words places a far greater cognitive load …read more

Source:: content marketing