Mike Essex

Content Marketing For The Web #distilledlive

4th Oct 2012 Content Marketing Blog 7 minutes to read

Distilled LiveLast night was the third Distilled Live meetup.This time, talks were focused on content research, creation and outreach. Over the space of two hours we were treated to four fantastic speakers, including our very own Anna Lewis. Each speaker gave a talk on measuring the value of content. We’ve picked the best bits from each talk, as well as Anna’s slides below.

The Power of Language
Vincent Franklin – Quiet Room

Vincent gave an excellent talk on 6 steps to better copy. These steps were:

1)      Write about your audience not you:

Don’t talk about how great your brand is, tell users what you can do for them, and don’t use long sentences. Mention what you can do for users before you brag about how good you are.

2)      Choose words that resonate & build relationships:

Some words, e.g. “Seaside”, bring back memories and positive feelings. Yet the word “Coastal Region” wouldn’t have the same impact. So why do so many websites talk that way?

Use “Help” not “Assist”
Use “Make sure” not “Ensure”
Use “Take care of” not “Process”
Use “Get ready” not “Prepare”
Use “The things you need” not “Your requirements”

Don’t let internal process speak leak out on to your website.

3)      Use verbs not abstract nouns:

This is worse for big brands (e.g. say “deliver” not “delivery process”).

“Preparation for retirement” should be “Get ready to retire”.

“Communication process” should be “talk”.

4)      Use short sentences for impact and clarity

Short sentences have massive impact. The longer they are the more they begin to become watered down and drag on, and on, and on.

5)      Climb up and down the ladder of abstraction

Don’t say words like “transformation” say “making it easier for you to pick your kids up from school so you have more time”.

You do need the abstract ideas (e.g. “It’s really fun at our school”) but must then explain and justify them (“because we have P.E every day”).

Make it as real as you can by using words like “such as” to explain.

6)      Structure ideas with story spines (people like good stories)

Make it so the next thing that happens is entirely justified by the thing that came before, and that text is in a logical order of information. Start with a good idea and build it to a logical conclusion.

Don’t just talk in disconnected bullets, have explanations.

This is a more natural way to lead to a logical call-to-action. Don’t use rhetorical questions (e.g. “So why wouldn’t you call us?”).

Measuring the Value of Content Marketing
Anna Lewis – Koozai

Anna explained how you need to know what your KPIs are before you start – are you doing content marketing for links or revenue? The chances are that you’re looking to eventually make money from your activity, so you need to make sure you consider that alongside the smaller conversions that help you achieve the bigger conversions.


Use Bit.ly, Social Crawlytics, Crowd Booster, BrandsEye and Google Analytics to see how shared and clicked your content was.


Use the “new links” option in Majestic SEO to see what links your content achieved.

Open Site Explorer shows you the best performing pages with regards to links and shares.

Conversions (Finding successful content)

Combine Social Shares and link data with Google Analytics on page engagement and page value. Then use conditional formatting to tell the story of your data. From this you can understand what works for your users, do more of it and find new things to do instead of what doesn’t perform very well.


You can track your links in Google Analytics as “trackbacks”, and Social shares, then compare them to revenue. Social doesn’t include Facebook or Twitter.

Use secondary dimensions to compare revenue per channel.

Anna also gave away a free Content Dashboard.

Use Advanced Segments to show you data for users who viewed your specific piece of Content Marketing and who had “Transactions” or “goals” greater than 0. This allows you to see the success of your content marketing and understand other factors that might have played a part in this, for example, which traffic sources led to the most conversions.


There are four key goals:

  • Choose KPIs
  • Track everything
  • Use tools to understand the full picture
  • Show the ROI of Content Marketing
Anna also covered two extra resources:

Kevin Gibbons explains how to do a content audit

Himanshu Sharma explains how to view content conversion results in Google Analytics

How To Scale Content Marketing
Jon Quinton – SEOgadget

What clients really want is more revenue and brand recognition.

This is possible with links from sites with a high quality and sites that get traffic. You can use Search Metrics to see if a site is worth the effort in targeting.

Identify the bottlenecks. Are you limited with how much content you can create? Use Dribble to find more designers or People Per Hour if you need writers.

Use followerwonk to find influential people that could help.

If the problem is that you can’t get people to say “yes” to your outreach, then:

1)      Build a list of target sites – SEOGadget employees spend 1 hour a week finding prospects. Jon accepted guests posts for a personal site to see what other people were doing and so he could avoid the bad stuff in his own outreach.

2)      Weed out the bad sites. Use SEO Tools for Excel and Mozscape API to grab metrics for them.

3)      Scale the heavy lifting. Jon ran an experiment to see if outsourcing outreach would work. He used oDesk to see if he could keep the integrity if he had a strict control.  He got a 20% response rate and he got some strong links out of it.

He would not recommend outsourcing for everything, but it did help him with the weakest part of the campaign.

Content Marketing – Beyond The Bulls**t
Hannah Smith – Distilled

We need to build links, but clients don’t agree to every link building idea.

Most clients don’t want their brand associated with the things that tend to get lots of links and shares (e.g. conspiracy theories, controversy).

Clients don’t care about the links, they want a piece to be “on brand”. Content needs to support brand positioning. There has to be communication between clients and agencies to deliver content marketing that helps a brand.

Support an existing content strategy. See what they are doing and expand it. Don’t go off on a tangent. Bad content on your site can harm you. Good content has little impact. Only truly impressive content gets a good return, and that type of content takes time.

Always create content the CEO of the client (or your CEO) will love. He has to be happy. Customers have to love it too.

Don’t create content just for links, create it for customers.

Simply Business tried to position themselves as small business champions. They made content to specifically fit this market position. It led to a 24% increase in traffic and 28% increase in conversions.

To get customers who don’t know they need you yet, you need to consider more than just search engine visibility. To do this you have to create content people want to share.

Salesforce enlisted the help of 15 expert advocates, email newsletters, a Home page takeover advert, paid adverts and social media marketing to raise awareness that they had created content they wanted shared. It led to 6,500 newsletter signups, 10,000 eBook downloads.

Content marketing is not free. It costs time and resources. It isn’t even cheap if you want it to build relationships with customers.

More content does not mean greater returns. Salon.com made 33% less posts but made them better, and they got 40% more traffic.

Content marketing doesn’t just belong on your blog. Writing content on product pages that isn’t just the manufacturer’s description gives so much more value.

Product videos shouldn’t be adverts, they should show you the product and how it works. Don’t try to sell the product, explain the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’.

It takes time for content to be spontaneously linked. It takes a long time for great content to spread, even with outreach at the start.

A big thank you to Distilled for another excellent free event, SEOgadget for sponsoring the event and the speakers for exposing lots of new content marketing ideas. Next up is Searchlove which you can buy tickets for on the Distilled website. We’ll be at the event covering it as always so will see you there!

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