Category: content marketing

Posts

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12 December / content marketing
Over the last month, I’ve been modernizing this site with one goal in mind: speed. The net result from that effort is a 90% reduction in page load time from 5 seconds to about 500 milliseconds. At Google, I learnedpage load time is highly correlated to engagement metrics including bounce rate and time on site. I’ve been focused on it ever since. This is how I did it. Hugo: I moved to a static site generator in 2014.
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08 April / content marketing
Ben Franklin’s edits to the Declaration of Independence The average English sentence has been shortened by half over the last five hundred years. Read the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence to see why. It is 71 words long and contains 8 recursive clauses. I read it ten times before I understood it. I have 48 seconds with you, my reader. No time to mince words. To reach more people with your content, shorten your sentences and ditch the jargon.
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18 January / content marketing / marketing
I’ve been struggling with the right way to enable commenting on this blog for a long time. In 2013, I wrote a post called Letter to the Editor about my challenges with comments. Most notably, comments meaningfully changed readers’ perceptions of the content they read, even if the comments are not sound. In addition, I haven’t found a way to effectively moderate comments at scale. Several months ago, I deployed a chat widget at the bottom off this page as an experiment.
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29 June / content marketing
Ultimately, the goal of most content marketing campaigns is email address capture. When a reader decides to receive content consistently via email, a content marketer knows they’re developing a deeper relationship with that person. Whether the marketers selling software or venture capital, retaining an email address is a victory. In the last 18 months, this blog has grown its email subscriber list from zero to roughly 8000 subscribers, and lost about 1000, meaning the current distribution list is about 7k.
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A few weeks ago, I joined Mike Volpe, CMO of Hubspot, on the Growth Show where we had a great time talking about a few SaaS topics. A few listeners to the podcast picked a line from that podcast that I think is a really important point for content marketing. I said, “Content is one of the few forms of marketing that has a compounding return.” Like a bank account that starts out small and earns incremental gains, but over time becomes quite large, content marketing efforts require consistent investment but ultimately can yield enormous results.
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17 February / content marketing
If I were asked to create a content marketing strategy for a person or a business from scratch, I would craft a strategy with three dimensions: customer segments, customer lifecycle stage and content type. **Customer Segments: **Product managers/marketers are responsible for identifying the most important customer segments a startup will pursue. Picking the right customer segments increases profitability, maximizes market size and prioritize the most attractive customer for the business.
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30 January / content marketing
Content marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools startups can employ. Blogs are powerful drivers of awareness and creators of purchasing intent which ultimately lead to new customers, new employees or other new opportunities. This is doubly true as buyers are educating themselves before contacting sales teams to a far greater extent than ever. Below are the five things I wish I would have known when I first started writing this blog.
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19 December / content marketing
Each year, I do a retrospective analysis of this blog. This year, I found something unexpected. Like many other content sites, just a handful of posts on this blog generate the majority of the traffic. I’ve plotted the distribution of traffic by post above; it’s clearly governed by a power law. The top 2% of posts generated 19% of traffic, the top 10% account for 48% and the top 20% attracted 69% (Pareto would be vindicated).
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Last week, Twitter released a feature enabling users to download organic tweet data. Naturally, I put my data through its paces to see if I could find any best practices for this blog. Below are the conclusions, which are tested to 95% confidence. I’ve also linked below to the code for recreating this analysis for your audience. Engagement rate, defined by Twitter as clicks, highlights, and favorites of a tweet is relatively constant throughout the day.
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As I’ve described in a previous post, this blog’s goal is to create and sustain relationships with readers across the startup landscape. Tuning the engine is proving much harder than I expected and I suspect that content marketers are facing similar issues. For example, over the past 18 months I’ve witnessed a halving of RSS subscribers to this blog. They have fallen from about 4,000 to about 2,000. I wasn’t sure what the cause could be, until I compared the RSS data with email subscriber data.
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17 November / content marketing
If you’re building a startup, content marketing is a powerful tool to build a brand, develop customer relationships, and develop a a hiring pipeline. Blogging requires diligence and a few tricks to build a following. I’ve been writing for about 3 years and I’ve analyzed a few hundred of my posts to better understand what makes for effective content marketing. These are my lessons learned: I have 48 seconds to get my message across in this post.
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13 November / content marketing
At the bottom of this blog, there’s an inocuous sharing bar with links to share this post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, HackerNews and subscribe by email and RSS. 1.5% of visitors click on one of these buttons. Despite the similarity of the buttons and the clicks, the value they generate as sharing tools varies dramatically. The chart above shows data from the widget on this blog for the past 30 days, comparing the number of clicks on each button and the traffic that results from that channel.
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08 November / content marketing
In almost every industry, startups and venture capital included, content marketing has become an essential tool for growth. Over the past four years, I’ve developed infrastructure, analyses and processes to help this blog grow from just a few visitors per month to nearly a hundred thousand today, achieved a Twitter follower quarterly growth rate of 20% and built a mailing list of close to one thousand readers. In this post, I’ve detailed are the strategies, software and techniques I use.
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14 October / content marketing
Bhutan, the world’s largest book at UWashington Library Anyone who has ever penned a blog post has asked, how long should this post be to maximize viewership? I’ve often wondered the same thing, particularly in the moment before I click the publish button and broadcast a perhaps-too-short-perhaps-too-long post into the Interwebs. I’ve written 256 posts in the past 18 months and I sought to understand the impact of word count on every metric I could measure: page views, time on site, time on page, bounce rate, exit rate, retweets and favorite activity.
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On this blog, Twitter is the second largest source of traffic. Twitter yielded 21% of visitors in the last 30 days. Because I suspect that tweets containing my blog’s links don’t reach a very large proportion of my Twitter followers, I’m experimenting with traffic recirculation techniques by retweeting older articles periodically. Of the approximately 150 posts on Svbtle, I have recirculated 30. Recirculation encompasses the science and tactics of enticing users to read more articles during one session and also increase the number of visits to a site.
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The single best content marketing channel is email subscriptions powered by Twitter/social media distribution. Thirty days ago, I began an experiment with this blog to determine whether email, Twitter or RSS would be the better content marketing channel. My goals with RSS, Twitter and email are two: first to maintain a relationship with a reader longer than a single website visit by creating a communication channel and second to use that marketing channel to drive re-engagement.
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07 September / content marketing
In a very kind gesture, Ivan Kirigin submitted this blog (and Intercom.io’s blog) to answer the question posed by Disqus, What is the best content marketing campaign you have seen and why? I’m honored by his comment. In response, David Fleck, head of revenue at Disqus asked whether the blog has ever led to an investment and whether that’s the right KPI for it. I haven’t yet found a startup through the blog that Redpoint eventually invested in, but I’m hopeful it will one day.
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I’ve been promoting my Twitter account since October 2012 in effort to better understand social media content marketing and to promote that great vanity metric, Twitter follower count. At the outset, I promoted my account and links to blog posts. I prize followers more than one time visits to a blog, because the long term marketing relationship provides many chances to bring someone to my blog. Promoting links sends traffic to a single blog post, but doesn’t convert to followers with a very high rate.
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For bloggers and content marketers, choosing the right content syndication tools to distribute posts is critical to developing an audience. The author/marketer must balance four attributes: distribution, measurement, retention and brand. Table 1: Balancing Syndication Tools Attributes Channel Distribution Measurement Retention Brand RSS Poor: only one subscriber Poor: volatile metrics Good but declining So so: controlled by RSS reader Email Poor: only one subscriber, double-opt in Poor: limited engagement stats Poor: Low unsubscribe rates; GMail filtering decreases visibliity Good: total control over UI Content Hubs Great: siphon site traffic, new readers Good: proprietary tools or GA Poor: often lacking follow or subscribe mechanisms Poor: limited control over UI Social Media Volatile: dependent on the audience but huge upside potential Great: use traditional web analytics plus follower data plus retweet So so: follower model creates 2 way relationship; no way to assure delivery Good: customize profile + traffic goes to website RSS’s end is nigh.
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How should a successful marketing initiative for a startup operate? It’s possible to jump right into performance marketing immediately after launch, optimizing conversion funnels and squeezing every cent out of ad spend. But I think there’s an important step that precedes performance marketing: community development. Yesterday, I met with an entrepreneur who was researching how best to build a marketing team for her business. After having spoken to many other founders, she decided to prioritize community management before traditional marketing.
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02 July / content marketing
It is easy to write off content marketing as a waste of time. Effectiveness is difficult to measure; it is time consuming and the payback period on the investment is uncertain. But unlike most forms of paid marketing, content marketing has a cumulative and compounding return. Each of the posts of a blog continues to attract traffic from SEO and social channels long after it has been published. Below is a chart of the 9 most popular posts in the last 12 month on this blog.
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29 April / content marketing
To answer that question, you have to look for examples of the best storytellers. The best storytellers are the television studios. They divide the day into different segments to reach different audiences. Morning: news. Midday: soap operas. Evening: Nightly news segues into primetime sitcom. Late night: news segues into comedy. An entrepreneur told me a few weeks ago, when we where talking about how to build a blog audience and I had asked him how he thought about content strategy.
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24 April / content marketing
When I started at Google, I began working in the AdSense Online Sales and Operations team. The demand for AdSense was overwhelming and we received tens of thousands of website applications each day asking to be granted permission to run Google’s ad product on their websites. Sometimes, automated approval systems would reject an application based upon strong spam or fraud signals. But thousands of applications each day demanded additional human judgement.
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03 April / content marketing
I have been writing for three years now and it’s been a ton of fun. I hope to continue to write for many more. Along the way so far, I’ve learned a few lessons on frequency, content type, idea generation, voice, titles and distribution. Frequency There are two schools of thought on blogging frequency: high frequency vs high quality. At this point, it’s unclear to me which is better for building an audience because both work.
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In social media, like the real world, there’s quite a lot of gossip going on behind your back. At least on the Internet, you can measure it. Dubbed dark social, this “invisible” sharing brings 40% of the visitors to my blog and similar amounts of traffic to other content sites. The Atlantic Monthly, which receives 5M monthly uniques, reports 60% of traffic from dark social Like its distant cousin dark energy, dark social is a massive and to date little understood force despite its importance.
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08 March / content marketing
I often wonder about how to measure the success of this blog. While there are many tools to measure page views and visitors, the absolute number of readers is probably the worst measure because it’s a false idol. Feedburner subscribers, retweets, time on site aren’t much better because they don’t measure the true performance of a blog - what fraction of an audience the blog reaches. In order for content marketing and blogs to be effective, the writing must have a target audience in mind.
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07 January / content marketing / marketing
In the last 12 years, marketing has been reinvented. No segment has benefitted more from this transformation than startups who have both created the new marketing and leveraged its skills to transform industries. These new marketers creating this wave have been so effective they can delay or even obviate the need for outside sales teams. Historically marketing has been pseudoscience - an undisciplined hand-wavy concoction of story telling and a “throw stuff on the wall and see what sticks” mentality protected by unmeasurable results and three martini lunches.
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08 October / content marketing
Over the weekend, I analyzed my Twitter performance over the past 4 weeks. I wanted to determine what if any best practices I could tease from the data. Below are my four conclusions: The best time for me to tweet is 9am Pacific. On average, tweets at 9am generate 2.3 times the number of clicks as those in the 8am hour and 3.3 times those of the 12pm (lunch) hour. Below is a chart of number of clicks per tweet by hour of the day:
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14 September / content marketing
Last year, I set a goal of adding 100 followers each week starting at 2000. I crossed the 3500 follower mark on Twitter this week. I’ve fallen a bit behind that goal but I have a wonderful group of people who actively engage with me on Twitter who are interested in the same things I am. As I’ve been cultivating this audience and community, I kept asking myself a question: who are most of these followers?