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We’re in the thick of a new year, and like many professionals, marketers are searching for the next top trends to drive results in 2017. 

This and every year, we search for ways to break through the clutter to ensure our content reaches the right audience at the right time. But with the number of bloggers projected to hit more than 31 million by 2020 in the U.S., it’s our duty to seek out and test the hottest trends to make our content stand apart from the rest. 

According to a 2016 study by Content Marketing Institute, B2C marketers ranked the following as top content priorities:

  • 73% indicate that they want to create more engaging content.
  • 55% want to create more visual content.
  • 44% say that better repurposing content is a must.

Luckily, there’s a surefire strategy that satisfies the needs listed above: visual content marketing. Let’s face the facts that our audience craves visuals: The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and we read only 28% of written content. 

Are you still contemplating how you’ll incorporate visual content marketing into your 2017 strategy? Check out the list below for three ways to rely on visuals this year to drive results.

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As content marketing continues to evolve, businesses across the globe have adopted it at a rapid pace. And that’s not stopping in 2017.

So what’s predicted to become of content marketing this year? To help cut through the clutter, I've compiled influencer trends from top shared posts based on BuzzSumo data from the past year.

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The following is a guest post from Bill Widmer (@TheBillWidmer). Widmer is a content marketing expert and freelance writer. He’s also the author of The Proven 7-Step Method to Landing Guest Posts, a free step-by-step guide to help business owners get guest post spots on top sites.

Content marketing isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. You can’t expect to release a few good pieces and see immediate results. Even if you do consistently release a piece a month, a piece a week or even a piece a day, results aren’t guaranteed.

Why?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? Why are you writing? If you’re just putting content out there for the sake of putting it out there, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see a high level of success.

I don’t mean “why” in some ethereal sense of doing a greater good (although I will talk about that), but why in a sense of strategic goals and purpose.

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Seth Godin would argue that content marketing is the “only marketing left.” Michael Brenner said, “It is the hottest trend in marketing because it is the biggest gap between what buyers want and brands produce.”

What’s more, over the years, the practice has more than proven its value. Don’t believe me? According to Demand Metric: “Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.”

So why might CMOs still undervalue the potential impact of content efforts? 

If your team isn’t tying content production to bottom-line outcomes, then leadership likely isn’t making the connection either. The best content programs are performance-driven; they connect tactics to organizational end goals. 

But, to develop a truly performance-driven content approach, your team must first understand what metrics will matter to your top executives.

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Content Marketing World or as others may know it, #CMWorld, is an incredible event for marketers, journalists and techies from across the globe to gather and share niche content knowledge. As the largest content marketing event around, the opportunities to learn trade tricks, network with leading influencers and fuel creativity are endless. 

This year, the PR 20/20 team sent four employees, including myself, to the local conference to mingle with the best and brightest in content marketing. From September 6 – 9, we attended roughly 35 sessions total, including our CEO, Paul Roetzer’s session, alongside more than 4,000 pros.

Did you miss the event this year? Not to worry. Our PR 20/20 attendees including director of marketing, Taylor Radey (‪@TaylorLauren‪), consultant, Megan Wolk (‪@megan_wolk‪), associate consultant, Shannen Laur (‪@slaur9‪) and myself (@AllisonKurz) recapped a few of our favorite sessions (and actionable takeaways) below. And if you were there, tell us about your top sessions and speakers in the comments!

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No one ever said becoming a great writer would be easy. Luckily, there are some simple ways you can sharpen your skills with minimal effort. 

Learning how to write well is important no matter your industry. Written communication is often the first touch point in many relationships. Whether you're drafting a blog post, social media message or email, your writing will influence how others view you. 

To be an effective communicator, you must concisely explain the value you’re offering in the first few sentences. Your writing should also be free of typos and grammatical errors, even if it’s just an email.

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The following is a guest post from Matt Banner. Matt is a seasoned blogger and entrepreneur, with a decade of experience in the online world of blogging, SEO, and marketing. You can find him online @BlastYourBlog.

While some people like to interchange the two terms, link building and content marketing are very different from one another. That being said, both are aimed at providing value to the reader, and in that way they compliment each other in a number of ways.

Below, we’ll look at these two terms and how they fit together, plus an infographic packed with all the latest link building strategies.

Content Marketing & Link Building: Two Peas in a Pod

When you boil it down, link building can result in epic content and content marketing can help you build links. But, on their own, they are very different approaches with varying goals. Even so, they can work together.

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Roughly two million blog posts are written every single day. I’ll just let that sink in

Not to mention the relentless parade of updates on our social feeds. Everywhere we look—Facebook to Twitter to Instagram—we can’t avoid promoted links vying for eyeballs. 

Talk about content fatigue...for both the writer and reader alike. So, what’s the secret sauce to differentiating?

Remember: a blog is not just a metrics driver. A blog showcases your brand’s personality, connecting internal subject matter experts to external readers. It’s your chance to showcase the heart and soul behind the per-usual ad. If you do that, you’ll likely continue to see an increase in your readership, and eventually, a community of loyal readers. 

In the wise words of Brian Clark“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”

Implemented the right way, a blog can boost website traffic, fuel community engagement, and drive lead generation. It might be time to re-evaluate your blog from top to bottom, and awaken a more stimulating, creative brand personality. Below are five factors to consider for a comprehensive approach.

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Snackable content like listicles, quizzes and clickbait are popular in many industries. But some businesses demand a more substantial meal. Complex B2C and B2B sales require content that educates and informs buyers on intricate software, technology, engineering or financial products, processes and concepts.

For this very reason, we’ve discussed how curiosity about different subjects is one major competitive advantage marketers must cultivate. But curiosity isn’t enough when the chips are down. What happens when your sales team demands expert content on a tight timeline in an industry or on a topic you don’t know much about?

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Last month, a group of the PR 20/20 crew headed to Austin for SXSW’s 30th annual conference. This trip is great for catching up on the latest trends in tech, health, space and VR; enjoying the local Mexican and BBQ food scene; listening to live music at what seems like every corner; and finding inspiration from the Austin community and SXSW Interactive programming. 

One of this year’s panel sessions, Humans, Not Machines: Content Is About Connecting, is a perfect share for our own PR 20/20 blog audience. Thanks to the panelists Kate Lewis (@kcwl) of Hearst Magazines, Neha Gandhi (@nehaintown) of Refinery 29, and Lockhart Steele (@lock) of Vox Media, for sharing your experiences! 

Enjoy a few of my top takeaways, and feel free to add your own take on the topic below in comments.

The Ask: With more platforms than ever before, how do we consistently create compelling content that actually resonates with our audiences?

For these top digital media editors, the answer couldn’t be more obvious: “The work of an editor today is to listen." 

That ^ nugget of knowledge was easily one of my favorite takeaways on the topic, and from the trip. Especially in the data age. 

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