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Content Marketing Masterclass with Andy Betts

Andy Betts

by Andy Betts on 6th March 2013

Content MasterclassOver the next 12 questions Andy Betts shares 15 years of digital strategy experience with a wealth of free advice on everything from creating a team, to outreach and content creation. 

#1 How long have you been working in the digital marketing industry and in particular, how long have you been creating content and strategies for companies?

I started back in 2001 in sales at a start-up. The problem we had was that no one understood search and digital much at that time, it was new. Hence I had to learn before I sold and what helped me most was producing marketing material and content that helped the prospects understand search. That was where it all began for me. Building case studies that helped acquire and retain 80% of the client base was the main thing I did and it helped turn the business from $300,000 to $18 million in 5 years.

Since then I have been producing all forms of content, on and offline, writing and ghost writing for leading global brands, publications, agencies and CEO’s across the Globe. 70% of the content I produce is for others and 30% for me

#2 Content marketing has evolved significantly over the past two years. Where do you see this going in the next 12 to 24 months?

Over the next 2 years the content we produce will become more creative and more competitive. Content Marketing has been around since the days of cavemen producing infographics on cave walls. What has changed in the SEO industry is the perception of content marketing. The growth of social media and the links between content and social and search engine results has changed.

For me there are 3 types of content marketer arising at the moment.
Note – at the moment we have many people ‘floating’ between the 3.

1. Holistic and Strategic – People who have been producing on and offline content as part of marketing and sales strategy most of their careers.

2. Online and Tactical – Marketing professionals and bloggers (in the main) who, as part of digital SEO and social strategies, have been producing content for the last 4 or 5 years. The SEO’s that also did this found they were far more Panda and Penguin proof than others.

3. Online and Learning – Technical SEO’s who never really produced much content or ‘thoughtful content’. You tend to find that these type of marketers now produce sensationalist based content and immature content as they struggle to adapt to content marketing strategy in line with Google changes. They are on a steep learning curve.

Interest in content marketing

The biggest threat to the industry over the next two years relates to the churn of immature content. People still try to use content marketing as bait for link strategy. Just like SEO – there are good ways and bad ways to do that. Some people use content as another new way to manipulate some form of results (it’s in their mindset) Crappy Content –Crappy Bait – Crappy Links.

#3 Are there any particular blogs or resources you follow?

As many as I can digest. I read most of the time. The wider the range of publications and blogs you read the more creative you become. I like the CMI blogs and Marketo and Econsutlancy blogs, tech publications and read the search publications like SEW and SEL. My reading list is very, very long.

I have also found some of the best, most exceptional posts on blogs and in resources that you will have never heard of. It also depends upon the topic. If I am writing about social media and psychology for example I tend to spend more time reading psychology journals than I do social media blogs.

Content Marketing

#4 How do you develop a content strategy? Do you follow the same methodology for all sites or does it need to change depending on the industry you are working in?

It really does depend upon the industry you work in and the discipline you operate it. Psychology plays a massive role in content marketing production. I am a big believer in NLP (I spent 2 years being mentored and practicing NLP) and how psychology influences how you reach your goal;

• What you produce
• The way you produce
• Where and why you produce
• How you share
• Where you share
• Who you share with

As marketers we spend lots of time talking about user behavior, buying personas, and the psychology of sharing related to our products and services, such as the psychology of sharing and the psychology of link building, social influence, audience segmentation and remarketing.

For Content Marketers two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different ways of thinking and as soon as we look into the difference between the left and right brain hemispheres it clearly becomes apparent why some people are more technically driven than others and why so much conflict and debate surrounds topics such as inbound media, SEO, and social media.

Left-brain marketers, who tend to be analytical, collide with right-brained marketers who think holistically and are more open to conceptual thinking. – see #Question 2

Great content marketers sit in the middle and can converge/adapt and balance left and right brain thinking. They use technology to diffuse creativity (sharable content) and create content that is creative, insightful and impactful.

Left and Right Brain

You can read more about left and right brain thinking here.

#5 What steps do you take when researching a piece of content before you write it? Does this include any outreach?

Here are a few tips that I use:

Produce content that is valuable and digestible to the reader
Formulae may vary dependent on topic but this a good strategy to take:

• 60% relevant to the topic and industry trends and contains strategic and tactical elements
• 20% visual – to show your process and help people digest – this requires time and effort
• 10% focus on the bigger picture
• 5% personal – many people get this wrong and spend the first part talking about themselves – let your content do the work. If you do this then naturally you get recognition
• 5% link and share other people’s ideas

Work hard and think strategically – out of a silo

It’s easy to write a post quickly – the best posts require lots of research, fact checking, relevant links and analysis, and building a unique/different angle compared to other content out there. You need to:

• Do not swear/ slander or offer too much high brow opinion – be professional
• Recognize others contributions in your research
• Crowd source some comment – but not too much as too many crowdsourcing posts look lazy
• Utilize insights from your experience in and out of the area you are writing about but never talk about yourself – share the insight and knowledge rather than self promoted experienced
• Balance facts, figures and research with takeaways and tips
• Always save some information / keep some back for further collaboration and sharing – always try and end with some statement or question for further debate and sharing angles
• Read your post and think like a reader not a writer – think of objections and questions and try to pre plan and include answers in your posts – the result is positive sentiment and less spam/objection handling in comments

Drop the pink elephants

Pink elephant

• Stay positive on the whole – negative posts only get shared between small communities
• Do not water down your words and phrases – keep to the point
• Do not focus on yourself – your experience should be reflected in the quality of the post and not by you writing all about yourself
• Make your words count
• Produce Mature Content

Mature content is thoughtful, unique, insightful, and perfectly placed. It is cleverly distributed and recycled and reproduced in line with quality editorial, seasonal, and consumer based timelines.

Immature content is what I call over production of and needless recycling of content. Sometimes, although there are some great ones out there, this takes the form of a needless infographic, repetitive content, repetitive blogging about conferences, and basic, tactical 101 guides that are produced in their hundreds of thousands. If you do this, then you should make yourself aware of the law of diminishing returns.

Never be afraid to share and work reciprocally with your peers but at the same time never be offended if people don’t share your content

#6 What are your thoughts on creating content for a mass audience? Do you think it is beneficial or are you more likely to get better results creating content for a smaller audience?

That’s a great question and depends upon your goals. Many people think that producing content is always for maximum coverage and sharing. It is true that the more engaging and creative your content is then the easier it is to evaluate its success. That normally happens when you produce content for yourself.

When writing content for others with a certain sales, marketing, or strategic client objective then it is different. I have produced content in the past with one specific aim, to be seen by one specific influencer or client, to push a sales or marketing objective ‘over the line’ by reinforcing a topic or issue. Sharing, numbers and mass outreach occurs as a secondary objective. Whilst people shout about the number of RT’s or shares others silently celebrate the fact that the content met it’s main objective and influenced a decision maker to sign a $1 million contract. Trust me – it happens a lot!

Focusing on ROCM – return on content marketing is going to be a big topic this year.

#7 A few tactics have been declared “dead” recently – advertorials / Infographics / guest posts – how do you react to these claims?

Nothing is ever dead it just changes. Rules change and people build strategies to adapt. Balance and vary your tactics in line with this.

Outreach

#8 When you create content, I have seen you sending it out to people at different times. What is your method and reasoning behind doing this? Do you find that you get better results?

Absolutely. I am not a fan of small communities self-promoting content between them. What’s the point? Obviously we all have circles of influence we use but I always try to widen that circle and share insight across different audience segments, disciplines, influencers, and peers. That gets me better results. Just be social.

#9 If you are working with a client assisting with their content marketing strategy, do you conduct your outreach as ‘Andy Betts, Marketing Consultant’ or ‘Andy Betts, Employee for XXXX’?

70% of the content is ghost written or produced/ created for X. Authorship aside – I tend to get great satisfaction helping others and get just as much, sometimes more, of a buzz when I see others do well with their content. That’s means my job is done. The other 30% will be under my name and x publication.

#10 To what extent do you make each email unique compared to templated emails?

90% – Always personal and unique and always-in conjunction with a call, meeting, message or social connection.

#11 How do you get the right people to engage with your content when it is live?

Create great content, insight and an angle that gives someone something to learn from or think about then they normally share it. If they don’t then I begin the analysis as to why and try harder next time. As for the rest – Now that would be telling too much :).

Team

#12 If you have a team of Content Marketers, do you feel that all the team should have the same role and responsibilities or would you segment roles? Working with other members of an organization can be extremely beneficial. How do you get buy in from a Sales Team and get them working with you when creating content?

Tough question but here you go…

Producing quality content is hard and working how and who develops content across your organizations is a huge task in itself. If you add branded and co-created content to that equation you have a huge resource task.

Content strategy

If you can identify the content stars in your organization across all functions – sales, marketing, client service, product, and corporate – then you are far more likely to succeed as a team.

No one person owns content in an organization so the person that drives content needs to be able to “matrix manage” across all functions, people and disciplines.

The views expressed in this post are those of the author so may not represent those of the Koozai team.

Image Sources

Growth in content marketing by Andy Betts
Left and Right Brain by Andy Betts
Connected Content by Andy Betts
Pink elephant
from BigStock
Graduation celebration from BigStock

Andy Betts

Andy Betts

Andy Betts has 15 years of experience in formulating business and digital strategy prospecting, producing content, winning, and managing business for over £300m of revenue. He consults in Europe and in the USA working closely with digital leaders such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

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6 Comments

  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 6th March 2013

    Thanks for taking the time to answer all our questions in so much detail Andy! Cracking post.

    I am looking forward to seeing where content marketing goes in the next 12 months as more and more people are starting to write but as you say, the content needs to be of a high standard so people share otherwise, there is no point writing it.

    Great post :)

    Reply to this comment

  • Robert 6th March 2013

    Content marketing is such a powerful way to market from a SEO perspective. Guest posting on related blogs with helpful unique content can boost rankings in google. A lot of time and effort is needed for this approach. Nice post thanks.

    Reply to this comment

  • Andy 6th March 2013

    Thanks for asking me Sam – I enjoyed it

    Reply to this comment

  • Mel Egerton 13th March 2013

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for that fascinating insight, you’ve obviously built up a great deal of knowledge over the past 15 years.

    Quality content is going to become even more important with the advent of Googles Author Rank.

    Reply to this comment

  • Dad 25th March 2013

    Brill !

    Reply to this comment

  • Pingback: Understanding Content Strategy through images | For my personal education

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