“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.
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.