“Addictive Content” is the new term for 2016 that all content marketers need to pay attention to. Creating consistent and engaging content is no longer enough, it needs to become addictive- a drug that can’t be dropped. Is there a formula or a recipe for creating this type of content? Who better to ask than the experts who are achieving just that?
I’m going to tell you how myself and the team at Venngage managed to get 46 pro marketers to share their tips and tricks for creating truly great content that is almost impossible to resist.
1) Coming up with an original concept
If you’ve written hundreds upon hundreds of marketing related content like I have, then you know just how difficult it can be to come up with a concept that is considerably more original than the last. In fact, it can become so tedious and dull to write yet another article that simply reiterates facts you’ve communicated so many times before. The process for coming up with an original concept, that still caters to the tastes of a particular niche can be overwhelming. Even after you decide on something that seems exceptional, you realize that 500 other people have already beaten you to the punch.
So what do you need to do? How can you ensure that you are creating something that no one else will create before you do? At Venngage, the majority of the content we work on is based off of original research. If the research you are doing has not been done before, the chances that someone will take the same angle when creating content, drops substantially.
At the start, we knew that we wanted to produce something marketing related (I know- very vague). We decided to focus on content marketing since infographics fall beautifully within that niche. The next step was deciding on something to create that was practical, entertaining, awe-inspiring and credible. Simple, right? We asked ourselves “What is the secret to creating content that was…addictive?” That was it! We were going to research how to create great and irresistible content, and in order to do so we needed to get some first-hand and exclusive advice from the ones already creating it.
2) Creating an outline and plan
This part of the process is the research part. It can last anywhere between 1 week, to a few months, depending on how much time you dedicate to it, and of course the nature of the research itself. In our case, we needed to compile a list of people to include in the post, and find blog posts that popped and were engaging.
Our goal was to include approximately 50 experts in our guide, which meant reaching out to at least 100 (since it was not likely that everyone would respond to us). Using specific Google searches, and targeting the appropriate keywords, we managed to find a solid and diverse group of professionals. We entered the data into a spreadsheet. We found names, websites, specific blog posts, email addresses and twitter handles.
We developed a simple, yet open-ended question to ask each marketer and prepared the perfect email template. Once all the grunt work was done we were ready to do some outreach.
3) Outreach, outreach, outreach
At first, our outreach process proved relatively useful. The first batch of emails we sent out yielded original responses from 23 different experts. Some of them were long and up to 500 words. Others were just a couple of words. But even after 2 weeks, we still hadn’t reached our target of 50 experts. Emailing was clearly not working, we needed to try a new tactic.
I started tweeting at the experts that weren’t responding, and some other experts whom I thought would be good additions to the post. The most difficult person to get in touch with was Neil Patel. I emailed him 4 times, and also reached out to him using a contact form on one of his sites. I also tweeted him. Needless to say when I finally did get a response, it was short and to the point. No hi, no bye, just the answer to my question. Don’t worry, Neil, I still love you!
I continued to tweet to influencers until I got into a mild twitter debate with a CEO of another company. Even though he mocked my process for outreach and accused me of spamming people (which I am happy to debate) I emailed him anyway and got a tip from him. What did I learn? Persistence works. If you ask someone enough times, eventually they will answer you (even if it’s just to get you to shut up). I won’t say who it was, but if you are really curious feel free to creep my twitter conversations.
At last, we had 46 expert tips. We didn’t push for the last 4 because something about the number 46 stuck with us (but we could have if we wanted to). Now that we had all the content we needed, it was time to do some design.
4) The design phase
Initially we were only anticipating to do a blog post and an infographic. When we outreached to the experts, we asked for just a sentence or two to include in the post. But like I said, some of them had a lot more to say. We decided to make an ebook as well as a blog post and infographic. The biggest issue we faced was creating an infographic that would hold 46 tips without going on forever and exceeding our export size. The next challenge was settling on an ebook design that worked well with some of the longer worded tips, but also with the ones that were just a sentence.
The overall process to design (and edit) took about a week and a half. Even now that the post is published, we keep finding little points here and there that need to be changed. So the editing process seems to be never-ending.
5) More outreach
Once the post was finally published, it was time to let people know. First I began by individually emailing each expert who contributed. You might be wondering why I wouldn’t just do a mail merge and get it all done in one go.
The first one is that as a marketer it is very easy to know when you are being grouped and bundled like a school of fish caught in a net. I didn’t want to come off as lazy or spammy (again).
Secondly, by sending individual and direct emails, you can avoid the possibility of being marked as spam or appearing in someone’s junk box.
Frankly, I wanted to come off as sincere, and make sure that each expert knew they were being thought about individually. It also made it easier to personalize the messages I sent them.
Once the outreach to the experts was done, it was time to email the second group of people: the skyscraper group.
The skyscraper group is the group of responses I got almost two weeks ago. These are individuals who showed interest in the infographic after I outreached to them using a technique called The Skyscraper Technique. It’s a technique I picked up from Brian Dean at Backlinko. I highly recommend this read if you haven’t already checked it out.
Basically it means outreaching to potential readers before the post is even published. Build up anticipation for your content! I simply sent out an email blast to gage interest after scraping a few lists that featured the keywords “Content Marketing”, “SEO” and “Link building”. Chances are anyone who is blogging about those subjects would be interested in getting some first hand advice from the pros.
Here is what my email looked like:
Sure enough within a few days I had a long list of interested bloggers who were prepared to share and repost my content!
Within an hour of posting the article, and with limited outreach we had over 70 shares (keep in mind that this is without any email blasts to our database, or any additional outreach). The reason it jumped so quickly was because I had specifically asked each influencer to share it on their networks. It only takes a couple well-known marketers to tweet something before you start seeing the traffic increasing.
So how do you create addictive content? Well why not just ask the experts! You can check out the full post on the Venngage blog and download the ebook (no email/lead gate either) for the complete list of tips.
You’ve been reading plenty of blog posts and noticed that everyone is making use of infographics. They seem to perform very well and you can’t help but wonder if you should be incorporating infographics into your own content marketing. The only issue is, you don’t have a huge budget, so you can’t really hire a designer, but you yourself aren’t particularly skilled in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. So what do you do? Don’t get stressed out just yet. There is hope for you. Read on and soon you will have all the knowledge necessary to create your own beautiful infographics without anyone else’s help!
1) Find the right infographic tool
It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of online infographic tools available for use. Most have free trial versions so you can test them out before you decide whether or not to commit wholeheartedly. I use Venngage* because not only is it free to use for life, but you can share your infographics privately with anyone, even if they are not a Venngage user. There are hundreds of templates available and also plenty of great resources on their infographic blog in case you are struggling with the tool, or are facing any basic design challenges. The premium version removes all Venngage branding from the infographics you create and lets you download your visual content as a high-quality PDF or PNG. There is also the option to add multiple pages to a PDF in case you are hoping to make a visual ebook.
Once you have found the right infographic tool for you, you will need to familiarize yourself with it. Have patience, because most of these tools require at least an hour of testing before you really get the hang of it.
2) Pick out the best infographic template
Since you are making an infographic without a designer, it’s important to note that different types of content require different style templates. There are approximately nine styles of template that you can choose from:
Statistical Infographics: This style of infographic depicts a summary or overview of data and contains one or more charts, tables or lists. This style is perfect if you are attempting to visualize the results from a survey or census.
Timeline Infographics (time-oriented): A timeline infographic outlines information in a progressive fashion over a period of time. If the theme of your infographic is to highlight the influence of a historical event, or to depict a chronological process, you want to stick with this style of infographic.
Process Infographics: Process or list-based infographics are often used to demonstrate a list of steps, or the flow of an event. If you’re trying to depict how something works, or to visualize a guide, this style is your best bet. Process infographics are some of the most common styles used by marketers. Here’s an example of a process infographic outlining how you can get your site indexed on google. Click the image to see the full infographic on Hiverhq:
Informational Infographics: If you have a text-heavy topic you are trying to repurpose into an infographic, you might want to go with an informational infographic. This style is used primarily to summarize a topic or theme and provides some added insight for the reader. The National Geographic uses a lot of informational infographics to provide a more visual explanation of various animal species, or to teach their readers about the design of a certain buildings.
Geographical Infographics: Geographical infographics are often used to display location based data, and usually include maps. Again, the National Geographic uses a lot of geographical style infographics. These are useful if you are showing trends across the globe, or you want to depict demographic information. Geographical infographics can also be cross-referenced with statistical infographics.
Compare/Contrast Infographics: Pretty self-explanatory, but compare and contrast infographics are used if you want to- well, compare two or more opposing viewpoints. For instance, you might use it to compare apples to oranges, or Moz to Ahrefs.
Hierarchical Infographics: This style of infographic is usually used to demonstrates a chart with levels, or to depict a flow of authority or power. Usually this is done using a funnel chart or a pyramid chart. They can be used in conjunction with timeline infographics.
Interactive Infographics : Interactive infographics aren’t particularly popular as of yet, because they can be a bit tricky to put together. Some tools do possess interactive elements like embeddable videos, gifs, polls and forms, or animated charts and maps. They give viewers the control to modify the infographic and are usually web-based. Ceros and Neomam are examples of two companies that make use of interactive infographics.
Word cloud Infographics: You’re probably familiar with a word cloud, but in case you aren’t let me refresh your memory. A word cloud displays a cluster of words to show associations between different words and concepts. More influential and common words stand out as larger amongst the cluster to depict dominance or authority. Here’s an example of a word cloud infographic I made using Jason Davies’s word cloud generator, which is based off of this exact section on template styles:
Great, so once you’ve decided on which style of template is appropriate for the type of content you plan on including in your infographic, it’s time to move on to the next step: the design process.
3) Designing your infographic
If you’re starting out with a premade template like the example below, you will still want to modify the design to your tastes, or to match your brand style.
The trick with designing your infographic does not depend so much on simply changing the colours and icons, but knowing which colours function together, and which icons are appropriate representations of the text you are using.
It may come as a shock to you, but in a study that analyzed how people responded to serif fonts versus sans serif fonts, serif ones performed better, particularly in terms of believability. This fact comes off as particularly mind boggling since sans serif fonts are a much more modern style, and used more frequently in infographics than sans serif fonts. Maybe the infrequency of use has something to do with their popularity, but nonetheless, serif fonts remain the font of preference for many.
Colour selection is one of the more challenging parts about infographic design. There is an infinite possibility of colour pairing options, but the trick is to find combinations which the human eye finds harmonious. How can you do this? Well generally colours that are contrasting, ie. fall on opposite ends of the colour wheel, tend to achieve this.
There are also many colour picking tools that exist, like Paletton, which provides you with various colour schemes to use.
Another thing to keep in mind is the layers of text over coloured backgrounds. Avoid using dark text on a dark background and light text on a light background. It makes it very difficult to read. You want the text and icons to jump and pop, and contrasting colours will do just that.
Spacing and layout:
For many non-designers it’s not always easy to understand the importance of negative space. What is negative space? Well it’s the area around the object of interest or focus. This infographic on the design principles from Star Wars perfectly sums up everything a beginner should know about spacing and layouts.
For a more detailed approach to infographic design for beginners, check out this article on Maximize Social Business.
Creating your infographic
Now that you have the basics under your belt, you’re ready to create your own infographic without a designer. Remember to have patience, because becoming a pro at infographic design takes practice. I recommend looking at Pinterest or other infographic curation sites for inspiration and try to mimic the style and layout (to a certain extent). Sometimes that can help you see something you weren’t aware was an option. Of course, if you have any questions about infographic creation or promotion in general, feel free to contact me.
*Disclaimer: I am the Director of Marketing for Venngage
Everyone knows that one of the best ways to boost your SEO is with quality backlinks on reputable sites. But actually acquiring these types of solid links can be excruciatingly difficult, especially if you are a smaller company or a start-up (and if you’re a start-up, then you need those links more than anyone). You likely reach out to as many influencers as possible who you imagine might be interested in your services or product, but in reality the rejection you face can be quite devastating and discouraging. So how do you provide those influencers with an opportunity they simply cannot reject?
Every marketer has one thing in common- they are looking for content. In fact, according to Neil Patel, the two biggest struggles that marketers have is producing engaging content and producing enough content. That being said, it makes sense that if you provide these influencers with a piece of engaging content that they can use or repurpose, you highly increase your chances of getting a link. Infographics are an excellent example of the kind of content that can be re-posted multiple times. Do you see where I’m getting at?
If creating great, link-worthy content is a marketer’s greatest obstacle, then you need to make sure that the time you’re spending on researching and producing that content will result in something highly optimizable. Long-form thought pieces and case studies are great, but if you also have a way of providing your readers with an easily digestible take-away, like an infographic, they will be more likely to link back to your site by repurposing the visual.
Before you even begin creating your infographic, you need to start off by figuring out what kind of content people actually want. Naturally, you’re going to want to create an infographic that still appeals to your niche. If you’re the in the “Health and Wellness Blogging” niche, for instance, you will want your infographic to focus on something that people are searching for within that area.
Once you know which keyword you are tracking you can use a tool like FAQFox to find questions that your target audience is asking online.
Just plug in your main keyword and enter a few forum sites so that the tool can scrape them for questions. I usually use Quora and Openforum because of their popularity, thus ensuring that I will get a wider range of potential questions.
If you want something more narrow, you can search through a specific health blog’s forum. A quick Google search will show you a vast number of potential forums to scrape through.
The next step is to contact influencers and bloggers who are interested and who write about the subject matter. I generally use Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer or Buzzsumo to find relevant leads. Brian Dean of Backlinko suggests sending your leads an email to gage their interest letting them know about the content you are producing. Keep it relatively short so as not to lose their attention. Here’s an example Brian lists in one of his articles of an appropriate initial email:
At first, don’t ask for a backlink. Rather, try to sell the idea of your content and its value to the blogger or influencer. Once they respond, you know you’ve grasped their interest and you can follow up by sending them a direct link to your article, as well as the embed code for the infographic you created. More on that in a bit.
Now that you’ve gaged their interest, you can get started on your infographic. There are a couple of ways that you can choose to create an infographic. The first option is to contract a designer or an agency, but this can cost you anywhere between $250 to $5000. If you are a bootstrapped company or an organization on a budget, this can be quite costly. Another option is to create your own infographic using an online infographic tool. Many tools available have a wide variety of free and paid infographic templates to choose from. Make sure that when you are creating your infographic, you include your logo and a link back to your site at the footer.
Finally, once you publish your design on your blog along with your article, ensure that you include the embed code for your infographic at the end of your post, directly underneath the infographic. Feel free to use the one below and format it as needed:
<a href=”PUT THE URL YOU WANT YOUR IMAGE TO LINK TO HERE“><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3047″ src=”PUT THE IMAGE LINK HERE” alt=”PUT THE KEYWORD YOU ARE TARGETING HERE“/></a><p style=”text-align: center; font-size: 14px; padding-top: 4px;”> <a href=”PUT YOUR SITE URL HERE“>PUT MAIN KEYWORD HERE</a></p>
Not only does including the infographic embed code make it easier for people to add the image to their own sites, but you can therefore ensure that the alt tags and URLs included are all pointing back to you.
You need to promote your infographic. The great thing is you already have a list of awesome leads that you can reach out to. You already know that everyone who replied back to your original email showing interest will be eagerly awaiting your follow-up with the finalized post. Once again, send them the link to your blog post, and include the embed code in the email so that all they have to do is copy and paste.
After that, syndicate your infographic to as many sources as possible. If you are a contributor to any marketing blogs, you can easily repurpose your infographic on those sites and link back to the original post. You should also post your infographic on Visual.ly. If they like your infographic, it can get selected as a staff pick, and is thus more likely to be featured on the home page. Companies like Fastcompany, Mashable, and TechCrunch sometimes find infographics on Visual.ly to include in their own content as well.
About a week after your promotion, you can use Buzzsumo to check the backlinks from your original post, and also do a reverse image search on Google to see who might be posting your infographic on their site. If you notice that some people have posted the infographic, but haven’t linked back to your original post, you can reach out to those bloggers and request that they add a link back to you. The majority of the time they will respond and be more than happy to take you up on your request.
Unlike some articles and other written content, the best part about infographics is that you can repurpose them multiple times. Google won’t dock you points for featuring an image, as long as the accompanying text is unique. Infographics are a perfect way to summarize lengthy and complex information since they are so easy to skim. Optimize your content for SEO by incorporating a visual component, and open up the possibilities of acquiring backlinks to your site.