December 21, 2020

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How to Outrank Your Competition with Creative Content

For marketing professionals, it's well known how important it is to create content that drives customer demand. People are hungry for content that is unique, informative, and provides value. Creating content is more than fancy fonts, colorful templates, and elaborate text; it's about connecting with your audience and telling them directly why they should work with your business. Keep in mind that products and services rarely sell themselves. In today's world, there needs to be focus on the brand as an experience, more so than just a two-dimensional logo attached to a product. Giving customers a great overall experience can help create brand advocates and creating unique, creative content can also leave strong impressions and lasting memories with your customers.

On this episode, The Five Echelon Group's Founder/CMO Eric Dickmann has a conversation with content strategist, SEO expert, and Inkwell Content Services founder- Liam Carnahan about creating creative content to outrank your competition. Liam is a content strategist, SEO expert, and founder of Inkwell Content Services. He had attained his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Literature, Writing, and Publishing at Emerson College. Carnahan had started humbly as a writer in a content farm until he was given the opportunity to become the Director of Content at a digital content marketing agency at Sydney. He grew his skills in writing, content creation, and SEO publishing in the companies he had been previously affiliated with Croud and Brafton. In 2019, he left his 9-5 job to run his own company and help others achieve their goals. Liam Carnahan's passion is to help small and medium enterprises develop SEO-driven content strategies and help authors on their road to publishing their works. Liam currently lives on a beautiful lake in Maine but is looking forward to returning to a digital nomad lifestyle.

What Makes a Great Creative Content 

Liam Carnahan views content marketing as figuring out the business's marketing needs and creating a well-directed plan that utilizes different types of content and various strategies to achieve its goals. He further elaborates that optimizing creative content keeps people engaged in the business and regularly coming back to the organization's website. Content marketing aims to drive organic traffic to your pages and is mainly focused on producing relevant and engaging content that provides information of value.

Some businesses have struggled to adapt to the digital world and move away for more traditional forms of printed content. They continue to produce traditional materials that often are flat, wordy, and uninspiring to read. People are more captivated by unique and creative content. It is rarely a brochure that keeps people talking; it's the thought provoking articles, helpful infographics, and engaging videos that keep the people talking about your brand! Liam tells us that content creation is an effective form of marketing because it meets the customers where they are, rather than pushing them to read or watch something inappropriate for their buying stage. Introducing your audience to helpful and valuable information is a great long-term strategy that can help you establish a bond of trust to your brand. 

What consumers feel when they view creative content

Creative content should be exciting and engaging. Carnahan informs us that a good piece of content is something useful and beneficial for the client. It doesn't necessarily have to start with "How to" or "Simple Steps," but the viewer should feel they got something of value out of it. Whether they gained a new perspective or insight on a particular topic, people appreciate content that holds their interest in engaging ways. Besides the entertainment and engagement factor, helpfulness is the key to make written content evergreen and relevant.

The Importance of SEO

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), high-quality writing should be the number one priority. Many marketers feel writing articles or conceptualizing content is an easy task and undertake the writing themselves. While they may have expertise in their products or services, they might not have the skills to be an engaging writer. This is why businesses should consider investing in content creators and professional writers who have the knack for creating content that engages an audience.

A common mistake when marketers publish SEO focused content is that they rely too heavily on SEO plugins such as Yoast or RankMath to determine whether their articles will get a good search engine ranking. It is not wrong to use these tools as guide but when too much focus is given to achieving an "SEO score," the writer might miss real essence of writing an engaging article. Your first priority should be to enlighten your audience with content of value because ultimately, it's that value that will drive traffic over the long-term. You need to put good writing techniques into practice and use automated tools to help you achieve competitive online rankings. In our in-depth interview with SEO-marketing specialist- Darcy Sullivan, she discusses how to improve your company ranking

Businesses post frequency

Keep Content Organized

Liam Carnahan uses a variety of forms of content marketing and different creative content styles to ensure that his company- Inkwell Content, stays on top of the game. He has a blog filled with helpful marketing articles that can help small and medium enterprises with their content creation issues. Liam says that content slotting is an important aspect of organizing content because you don't want your viewers confused with all the diverse creative content you are publishing. For instance, his website has a special place for all related content that discusses SEO strategies. Keep things organized and easy for the view to find. Tools like Uberflip help businesses create dynamic Resource Centers that use AI to help organize content in a way to get maximum engagement.

Who Are You Writing For?

Before writing an article or designing a piece of content, you should first identify who you will be writing for and why you want to write to them. Tailor your content to engage that specific audience rather than trying to be too broad or generic. The goal is to leave the reader wanting more. To provide enough value that the reader wants to explore more of your content and ultimately, investigate your products or services.

This is where a case study comes in. A case study highlights your product or service's impact on the previous customers and their businesses. Having a clearly written portfolio of case studies is crucial because it's a reflection of clients who have already put their trust in your business. Content marketing is all about building trust with your potential customers.

 Parakeet shares 10 benefits of content marketing to your business:

  • Boosts your SEO and traffic
  • Establishes Expertise, Authority, and Trust
  • Creates brand awareness
  • Lets your brand personality shine
  • Connects with your audience through varied techniques
  • Fuels your social media and websites
  • Supports your audience through a conversation funnel
  • Improves your conversation rates
  • Generates leads
  • Builds brand affinity and loyalty

LIAM CARNAHAN

Content marketing is about meeting the customer where they are, rather than trying to have to drag them somewhere and make them read about your product."

Finding Balance Between Having Overly Generic and Too Specific Content 

One way to engage with your target audience is to interview them and ask them questions that help in your understanding of their goals and buying behaviors. Many businesses cast a wide net and try to target too large an audience. While that may seem less risky than focusing on a specific niche, it can be very costly. Spending the time to research your target market can significantly impact how your business will approach the marketing of creative content.

Carnahan reminds us to consistently review our content strategy and monitor Google Analytics because it provides insights into how your content is performing and provides direction on where you need to improve  your efforts. Liam also recommends businesses perform a content audit. He says many business have a wealth of underused old content that could easily be brought back to life. It's important for marketing teams to regularly revisit old content and remove what's no longer valid or update it to give it new life. It's often much less work to freshen up a piece of older content than it is to create something new from scratch.

The Biggest Content Marketing Challenges that Companies Face

Bringing Old Content Back to Life

Rather than starting from scratch and spending so much time and money conceptualizing again, you can enhance your outdated content by inserting the right keywords, resetting the tone, updating graphic elements, statistics or quotes, and applying the appropriate SEO guidelines to help the content rank. Even the best content to date falls out of favor with Google which ultimately can hurt organic web traffic.

It may be tough to compete with your industry competitors in terms of post consistency and relevant content creation. This is why Liam Carnahan recommends SEMrush to help you choose the right keywords that you can use to enhance your articles and guide you in ranking higher online. There may be times that websites rank higher than yours not because of their informative content and great visuals, but because they have more domain authority. Liam suggests you research the top pages that are ranking higher, see what their content is about, and find a way to combine the essence of the top pages into content of your own. Not plagiarizing or copying, but creating content that has additional value based on content that Google is already indicating it views as valuable.

Percentage of digital marketers that use visual graphics in their creative content

Revitalizing your creative content and polishing the rough edges can be tedious, but if you want to gain more traffic and outshine your competitors, you need to invest time and effort in improving your content. There is always room for improvement! Neil Patel Blog lists the eight reasons why you should update your old content:

  1. Fix grammar and spelling mistakes
  2. Show Google that you have fresh content
  3. Improve your content's accuracy
  4. Link to new and better sources
  5. Repurpose your content for more backlinks
  6. Leverage the value of your old content
  7. Share your content and promote it again

The Best Time to Refresh Your Content

Your content may inevitably turn out to be stale. Liam gives us the two times when a business should consider refreshing its content:

  1. The Piece is Failing- If you have an article that is the main driver of your organic traffic and notice that visits are going down instead of up, then that's a red flag that your content may be outdated and unappealing to your target audience. The easiest way to avoid this red flag is to frequently check your Google Analytics and apply the necessary adjustments to increase traffic by boosting your rankings. For example, consider comparing the current performance of your blog to its performance six months ago. When your article does not contribute well to your site's traffic, it is high time to revamp the post. 
  2. A Piece Never Performed Well- There may be posts on your website that have never gained reader's attention. This may be because the information you provided is not sufficient for the needs of your readers. For your content to gain online traction, ensure that all aspects of the content are optimized. One major reason why blog posts don't perform well is that the content does not have enough life or personality. Content writers should make sure that their creative content explicitly relates to the target audience. But remember, don't plagiarize your posts. As much as possible, keep your content original! Google can easily detect websites that copy content and fail to provide original information.
Content Marketing Tactics and Metrics

 If you successfully execute your strategies, you can rescue some traffic from old content. It's never easy and getting people to check out your content can be challenging and time-consuming. WordStream lists the 10 ways to increase traffic to your website:

  • Advertise your creative content on multiple, relevant platforms
  • Create irresistible headlines to strike the reader's interest 
  • Target long-tail keywords
  • Invite others to guest blog on your site 
  • Make sure your site is responsive and fast-loading
  • Examine your analytics data
  • Add audio and video content to your content strategy
  • Research competition and potential market
  • Get active on social media 
  • Foster a sense of community and communicate with your web visitors

The Pros and Cons of Publishing Your Content in Multiple Places

Many businesses have company blogs to elaborate on their goods or services, while some publish on LinkedIn to appeal to a more professional network. Whatever platform you are using, you need to match your content's tone to the platform's audience. Carnahan informs us that having an online presence in LinkedIn is excellent, but can split your audience between multiple platforms. This may seem like a good hack to widen your visibility, but in reality, it can confuse your readers. Liam suggest that you want to post the same content on two different sites, you should first publish it to your blog and then publish it on other online platform later to avoid repercussions. (Read Liam's advice for writing articles for LinkedIn)

There are fewer issues when it comes to third-party blogs. In fact, it is an investment that many businesses should consider having. As long as the website you are linking to is reputable, it can help attract new viewers to your site. Liam elaborates that the pros of publishing content on multiple platforms are massive; it may take time to develop, but getting your site linked and referred to by more prominent companies and influential pages can be an excellent opportunity for your business. If you are thinking of blogging on different platforms, go for it Platforms like LinkedIn can be a great place to find new leads. In our interview with chief rainmaker- Matt Clark, he elaborates further on how to generate leads on LinkedIn

Percentage of B2B Marketers with a well-documented content marketing strategy

Using Social Media to Amplify Results

Creative content without promotion is pretty much a pointless activity. SEO can help, but it can't do as much without a solid content marketing strategy. You may be missing out on valuable traffic if you don't have any promotion techniques to help your content reach its designated audience. Liam tells us that whenever he writes a blog and desires to share it with his audience, he aims to get the most profit from the blog. Carnahan creates separate posts and unique promotion content for each section of his blog post. In this way, people can gain multiple views on his content rather than just having a single message of promotion on it.

You can also consider grabbing snippets of a lengthy blog post and posting them online to give the audience a glimpse of what you are writing. On other websites, social media isn't necessarily about pushing people to your website. Compared to a paid advertisement, social media marketing is based on establishing trust, building brand recognition, reaching new audiences, and creating deeper respect for your thought leadership. This is where content and social media promotion come together. Liam reminds us that we all have to start somewhere, and you have to be patient in applying strategic marketing plans or brand position strategies to elevate your creative content. The more you create content, the better you'll be able to pick up followers and subscribers. Liam Carnahan reminds us that you don't need a thousand lights on every piece of creative content to be successful; you just need to message the right people, even if it's a single person or a small group,

Social Media Promotion

Whether you like it or not, you need the help of social media and other online platforms to boost your website ranking. Ben Brausen Blog gives us the Pros and Cons of online and social media platforms:

PROS:

  • Extend reach
  • Meets the customers where they want you to be 
  • Positive on-site experience
  • More SEO opportunities

CONS:

  • Less control of the content
  • More distractions
  • Fewer monetization opportunities
Social Media Statistics

Being active in social media is a great advantage for your business because this will allow you to interact with your market on a much more intimate level. HootSuite shares the benefits of social media to your business:

  • Promotes seller and customer engagement
  • Acts like a targeted advertisement
  • Establishes your brand as a thought leader
  • Boosts web traffic
  • Provides the opportunity to partner with businesses and influencers

Live Stream Replay

FAQ

  • Besides the entertainment and engagement factor, helpfulness is the key to make written content lasting and relevant. 
  • You should consistently review your business's content strategy and keep an eye on analytics because the more frequently you review your reports, the clearer and easier the process becomes.
  • There are two times when a business should refresh their content: when the piece is failing and when the piece never performed well. 
  • Organizing your creative content may take time to accomplish, but getting your site linked and referred to by bigger companies and influential pages can be a great opportunity for your business.
  • SEO can help, but creative content can't do so much without a solid content marketing strategy. 

Episode and Guest Links

Eric Dickmann - Founder/CMO of the Five Echelon Group, can be found online on Twitter or his personal website.

Liam Carnahan Content strategist and SEO expert can be found online on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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